I blame the caffeine high…

…for finally tidying up. Sewing has been going rather slowly – there’s been a few tedious projects, then the hickup with the sewing machine, and then the fact that my sewing space was a mess. I’m not the tidiest person, and things had gotten a bit out of hand. Now, lots of people are quite tidy with their sewing spaces, it appears. Not me. Which is why it was one of my new year’s resolutions to have a tidy sewing space. And up until now, I thought of this resolution occasionally, then whole-heartedly ignored it.

This morning, there was a shift in the time-space continuum confluence of factors which led to me tidying up. I promised to make the boyfriend a coat, and didn’t have any space which was bugging me; we’re moving house soon and I needed to tidy up in general; the alternative was to write an academic article (I still dislike it), and, lastly, a massive caffeine high, which meant I was unable to sit still.

To entertain you, and make you feel better about whichever mess monster has taken over your sewing area, I took a before/just started picture:

The desk. And yes, some of this I had just dumped there, but really, it wasn't better before at all.

The desk. And yes, some of this I had just dumped there, but really, it wasn’t better before at all. And yes, the calendar is still on August.

The shelf with a million ugly shoeboxes. That's what it felt like. The fabric is not in the picture - I think it's all on the chair. Classy, Thea!

The shelf with a million ugly shoeboxes. That’s what it felt like. The fabric is all on the chair. Classy, Thea!

You can pay particular attention to the amount of boxes stashed away, if you want. After about three hours of sorting through boxes with small scraps of fabric (why did I keep so many completely unusable scraps in the first place?), it now looks a lot better:

Look, less boxes! I promise I didn't just hide them underneath the desk. And look - I might actually sit in the chair now!

Look, less boxes! I promise I didn’t just hide them underneath the desk. And look – I might actually sit in the chair now!

Space for sewing. Phew!

Space for sewing. Phew! Umm, and you can see the pile for the bin in the hallway. Wooops.

And because I’ve been struggling to remember what I want to do with which fabric and in which order, I’ve catalogued the majority of them. This is not a wishlist – just plan for myself to check back when in doubt as to what to tackle next. I should probably also write a wishlist.planning and tidying with writingI didn’t realize I had quite so many projects ready to go – apart from the bottom line, I have everything ready for all the other makes – including zippers, interfacing, closures…

The Cambies are a split between want it now, and want it next summer. The grey lace overlay with purple I think will make a nice smart winter/autumn dress; the white/blue fabric is a swiss dot (?) from Goldhawk Road. I have lining etc. for both of these, and just need to get my rear into gear, and wait for summer for the white one. The blue fabric for the Anna dress is a viscose. I’m massively late to the party, and have sat on fabric and pattern since July. The fabrics for my Alma, I’ve had for even longer – the grey dots are at least 1.5 years old. I’ve been planning them for a long time, but keep not starting it. I mean, it’s such a quick project – but somehow, it doesn’t excite me enough to make me actually cut it out. Embarrassing.

Now, the trouser stuff is actually scary to me, and I’ve prevaricated so much that I’ve bought enough fabric to make three pairs of trousers, in case the first one doesn’t turn out, then I wanted something with stretch, then… I dunno, I was still scared, so bought more fabric? Enough excuses already, chicken – get sewing! The fabric next to it is reassuring to me, because it will be my second Minoru – I’m having a whale of a time planning it in my head at the moment. It’s a grey twill from a random massive second hand store in Germany.

The Ginger Skirt, now really, I should just get on with. Perfect for autumn and all that. Thanks to the nice person who brought the fabric to the last London meetup! The Maria Denmark Pile are lots of jerseys which need to be worked up (embarrassingly, I then found another three pieces in other colours in the office after taking this picture).

Now, the bottom line… The lining for a jacket I originally bought for a T-shirt. But, it gives me a headache when I look at it, so I think I’ll leave that. Now, instead, I want a By Hand London Victoria Blazer in a knit fabric: a) because the very non-scruffy Winnie made it look awesome on scruffy badger, and b) because it means I can get rid of the fabric by using it as lining (so I don’t have to see it. winner). Yes, I know I’m late to that party too.

Hopefully, next time I’m feeling confused, I can consult this list and get sewing. Also, I realized I really don’t need to go fabric shopping for a while (not sure if that’s good or bad!).

Right, and maybe now I should actually tackle that article. Mind you, the kitchen is still messy… Kidding!

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Completed: Minoru!

So, I started writing this post once, then my PC crashed and deleted it. Then I re-wrote it, and couldn’t upload any pictures. Third time lucky? Sorry for the long silence!

I finished my Minoru about two or three weeks ago, but I couldn’t blog about it before because first, I didn’t have any pictures; then I had too much work and too little time, plus I was busy running around and gallivanting and generally being in love with my Minoru, then it was Easter and I had to eat chocolates, and then my PC crashed.

Making a Minoru was my Sewlution for 2013 (see here for Karen’s original post). I dithered for a long time of what material to make it from? Wool? Cotton Twill? Something else? In the end, I settled on a cotton twill, because I wanted quite a heavy jacket that would be perfect for transitioning between summer jackets and my winter coat. It turned out just as I wanted:

Very very snuggly jacket

Very very snuggly jacket

I found the perfect heavy twill on Goldhawk Road (£3/m), then bought some flannel for interlining for added warmth. It was arctic here while I sewed this – I had a hard time persuading myself I didn’t need to add two layers of interlining! The lining is a silk I had in my stash (I thought it might make a blouse/top, then realized just in time I never wear patterned tops, like, ever), also bought at Goldhawk Road for £3/m. I would love to tell you from which shop it was, but I can never remember the name – it’s the one where the cellar is an Aladdin’s cave, and the top floor has the wools and suiting, and the lovely lady answers all my questions with infinite patience. Classic Fabrics, maybe?

Making it took a very long time, and before making it, I planned it in my head for an even longer time. I started it in February, and then sewed in very small increments. I started with the small things – secret pocket, hood, collar and zips – and had a few small hitches where I waited for different zips and a zipper foot to arrive. My original 18” hood zip turned out too short, so I re-ordered, and then also decided, after much dithering, that I didn’t like the idea of a black and metal zip I’d originally bought for the front.

Zipper time!

Zipper time!

Now the front zip is navy-blue that goes with the lining, and opens both ends. Thank you to my friend Ines, who patiently listened to my colour confusion and recommended the blue zip, as well as dispelling my doubts about the buttons.

I did make a few changes.

  1. You might have noticed – I added an additional front placket to hide the zip. I didn’t like the idea of an exposed zipper, that was reason one. Also, did I mention that it was really cold here while I sewed this?The thought of a little bit of extra cold air stealing in through the exposed zip was unbearable. On went the front placket. I cut it exactly twice as wide as the normal ones, interfaced it (not sure it was needed – it’s maybe almost too stable now), sewed three sides shut,
    Front placket, close-up from the inside.

    Front placket, close-up from the inside.

    and understitched the inside of it to make it behave,which worked a treat – the placket is now very well behaved. Therefore, it also got some top stitching. I then added buttonholes before adding it to the jacket together with the front right placket. It worked perfectly fine – I was just extra careful when putting the lining and the jacket together, as there’s a slight danger of stitching the placket to where it shouldn’t be, but it all worked fine. It also changed the topstitching a little bit, but nothing major.

  2. Pocketses!

    Pocketses!

    There’s pockets in the side seam. They are lined with silk, and make me very very happy everytime I put my hand into them. In the last two weeks, with the cold winds, they’ve been a lifesaver. I used pockets from the Crescent skirt, I think – it was lying around – and just smoothed out the corners. I interlined the silk with cotton to give it some warmth stability.

  3. It’s interlined! Flannel at the front and back, and cotton in the sleeves (I didn’t want it too warm). Beyond adding warmth, they also added some body to the silk – without this, the combination of slippery silk and massively heavy cotton twill would have been weird. Sewing the collar pieces together was hard work without the interlining!
  4. The seam allowance on the sleeve side seam and side seam to just below my breasts is only 1cm, instead of 1.5cm. I basted it first, and realized there was just a touch of not enough room for my massive shoulders  and arms (hello, swimming). Also, with interlining, I was worried about extra thickness. I’m glad I did this – it still doesn’t look massive at the arms, and I can move.

    Bias-taped seam

    Bias-taped seam

  5. Both pieces of the collar are lined (in the lining and the outside), and the seam stitching the hood into the collar and to the body of the jacket, I finished with some left-over bias tape, so that there is no raw seam in the hood (see also Karen’s words of warning about this, here and here).

There’s a lot of things I learned during this project – for example,

  1. I can sew zips into things! My £3 amazon zipperfoot works! I was very skeptical about this when the foot arrived, but it works just fine. I didn’t have to rip out any zips at all. Amazing.
  2. Topstitching is really really hard. I do not like it much. Mainly because I’m a perfectionist and get really upset about small irregularities. I cheated in some areas on this jacket, and added a second row of topstitching, so the irregularities would be hidden more. I think it worked. There’s a few detail shots below where you can see.
  3. My seam ripper is my very best friend, like, ever. Honestly, it did so many minutes with me… so many seams it became acquainted with intimately. There was a lot of ripping out in this jacket, most of it due to my occasional idiocy. I should really stop misplacing the thing, or at least buy two more.
  4. Speaking of which… I learnt that it takes two seconds to mess up a button hole, and half an hour at least to take it out again. I practiced my button holes, to make sure the size was right, and the thread tension and stitch length and overall look… I practised cutting them open, and measured obsessively where they should be. Then, on the first button hole, my machine had a hiccup. The next half hour, my seam ripper and me hung out.
  5. Patience pays off. There were many times I wasn’t convinced it was going to be a jacket I love, but I persevered, put it away when all my wonky topstitching was getting on my nerves, and kept giving myself time and not rushing it. It really worked – I’m glad I took the time over it, for now I absolutely love it. And hey, even the buttonhole turned out fine eventually!

The biggest challenges for me:

  1. Buttonholes. D’oh. They were my first proper ones.
  2. Patience? Cutting out three layers of fabric for ten hours, even though I hate cutting?
  3. Putting in zippers. Again, first ones with new foot – I am amazed!
  4. Topstitching. It’s haaaaaard, did I mention? I also tried a triple stitch for the top stitch, which felt like my sewing machine was cantering, with the results similarly wonky to me trying to sew on a horse cantering. That also took a long time to rip out!
  5. Topstitching curves. My hood almost had me in tears.
  6. Stitching in the ditch for the hood – my lining kept getting caught in this. Eventually I topstitched my first collar topstitching again to keep the lining in check, then added the stitching in the ditch. It’s not perfect – I might go back and change it later on, but for now, it’s ok.
  7. Choosing the buttons. Man, can I dither about the details. Actually, just make that detail obsession/perfectionism.

Enough lists. Here’s more photos.

Lovely details: Stitching in the ditch and the result of the slight failure, topstitching on the hood, also slightly wonky. amazing hood zip which worked, lining and secret pocket, and the hem, with some beautiful, unintended tucks.

Lovely details: Stitching in the ditch and the result of the slight failure, topstitching on the hood, also slightly wonky. amazing hood zip which worked, lining and secret pocket, and the hem, with some beautiful, unintended tucks.

And yes, I love it to bits. When it all came together, it was amazing. I wanted to sleep in it (apparently, that’s not acceptable, said the boyfriend). Also, I’m getting a ton of compliments on it, which is really really nice for my sewing confidence! And now it’s finally a bit warmer, I can wear it without freezing to death 🙂 It’s perfect for the current conditions.

So, in March 2013, I can say that my sewlution is done, and that I’m very very happy with it! Also, though, I’m happy it’s done. I didn’t pick up a project for quite a while afterwards. I needed to recover a bit 🙂

Completed Sewlution