Fashion Sketching (And Other Amusements)

Are you surprised? Another post so soon after the last one! What is that old damselfly up to? Well, just for starters the unbelievable high heat broke finally so I don’t feel like I’m imminently going to melt into a pile of goo! The brains work again even if the body, at least the foot, doesn’t. Things are looking up! And I have plenty of time on my hands right now. Heh.

Last post I started to (badly) show the sketch of an idea for a jumpsuit that I was thinking about making. I used a printout of my personal fashion template that I recently purchased from My Body Model an app that uses your own measurements to create a shape that more closely resembles the real you. What I especially like about it is that you can mess with the results until you are completely happy with it before you fork out any money! When you pay (there’s a system of “credits”) you have the choice of a basic PDF package of page layouts or one with more options. I just got the basic one and it works fine for the kinds of things I want to do. You also get a plain PDF file that you can use in a drawing program if you want. I prefer an excuse to buy more brush pens! Just to show you how accurate the My Body Model croquis is, here’s a comparison of my sketch from 4 years ago made from a photograph and my personal MBM template.

The Real Me!

MBM’s feet are a little small (and I don’t have big feet!) and the hips look a little wider because the hip measurement is distributed around the whole shape rather than just in front where I carry my weight. Otherwise it looks pretty close particularly when I draw hair and glasses on her. It definitely looks better than the usual fashion croquis that makes a body ridiculously out of proportion to reality. Nobody is actually 9 heads tall, are they? If you don’t feel like you’re very good at drawing there’s lots of tutorials (both free and paid) available to learn some easy ways to put clothes on your template. I had great fun designing a jumper dress based on a York Pinafore hack for a gathered skirt version.

Plaid York Jumper Sketch

And when I was finished sewing, I dressed up like the sketch.

The Real Plaid York Jumper
Back View

Looks pretty similar, doesn’t it? The fabric is a “100% unknown fibre“ brushed back twill in an asymmetrical plaid that’s been in my stash for eons. It’s actually quite nice feeling for a synthetic but a burn test wasn’t definitive. I’d have thought polyester but it didn’t melt away from the flame and wasn’t self-extinguishing. It seemed to react more like acrylic which I’ve only experienced as yarn. Weird. Anyway, I love the colours and I’m sure I would have used it up long ago except for the fact that it’s very lightweight and clingy. In order to foil the cling factor I decided to fully line it with some coordinating cotton/poly shirting that I had also in stash without a clue where it came from.

I used the burrito technique to line the bodice and then attached the skirts (main and lining) each to its own layer so there’s no seams visible inside. I also added in-seam pockets because…pockets. Skirt and lining were hemmed individually also and I’ve worn this a lot since I finished it. Obviously a successful make! Here’s an interior view of the bodice so you can see the topstitching and lining fabric. My new tag went nicely too don’t you think?

Interior Detail

So you can see how being able to sketch out your ideas can be very helpful in visualizing how they will look in reality. You can “try on” garments and change the proportions or plan outfits and capsule wardrobes easily before you commit actual fabric to the project. It also allows you to look at your own body with some detachment so your judgement isn’t as laden with so much personal baggage. It’s just paper dolls! And yes, if you’re like me and loved playing with paper dolls as a kid, you can make your own personal “paper you” all ready for your wardrobes of fabulous clothes. Anyway I’m sold. I have more My Body Models to show you but right now I’ll just leave you with this Hipstamatic photo of my backyard. I got a new “lens” and “film” pack: Moab. Couldn’t resist since I’ve actually been there! I should remember to play with this app more often now that I have a better camera in Thom’s old iPhone, huh? It’s nearly impossible to take a bad shot. So artsy.

Happy Year of the Ox!

Hmmm…nearly two months of dead silence. Not that I didn’t think of writing a bunch of posts in my head but never actually sat down to do it! What’s with that? I’d blame the Pandemic but that’s such a cliché these days, isn’t it? Dunno. Let’s just carry on from here, shall we?

I did finish a few things whilst I wasn’t blogging. Some new face coverings using a different pattern, this one from the Japanese Sewing Books website called the Contoured 3D Face Mask.

Yet more face masks

These ones seem to be more comfortable than the venerable Dhurata Davies pattern. Instead of ties or elastics I used narrow crosswise strips of nylon/spandex fabric pulled into a tube. They are softer than elastic on your ears and easier to get on and off than ties. I also discovered that my glasses fog up badly in the cold but wearing them over the mask as far down on my nose as possible helps. Somehow it leaves more space for evaporation of the moisture. Or something. I also interfaced the lining on these with some crappy lightweight non-woven fusible and I think it not only gives them a stiffer shape to help them keep away from my mouth but perhaps adds a bit of extra germ filtering. There are several sizes: L fits me well, XXL fits the Bearded One, and M fits his tiny mom.

Mom’s masks

I’ve lost track of how many masks I’ve made so far (not gazillions like some sewists though!) but I’m sure we’re still going to need these things for the foreseeable future. It’s a challenge choosing scraps from the stash and even though these have a little more sewing they’re actually very easy and entertaining to make. We have enough for now anyway. Moving right along.

I got plenty of good opportunities to use my new sewing machines while the Janome was in the shop. I made quite a few t-shirts and a couple of pairs of leggings but don’t have any great photos to show. They’re boring light grey, dark grey and brown! The coverstitch machine does have a bit of a learning curve though the threading is easy. Much easier than a serger anyway. Luckily if it goes wonky the stitches are easy-peasy to pull out when you start from the end of the seam. I got lots of practice with it on the tees and I still haven’t finished sewing all the ones I cut out last autumn.

I did finally finish sewing the Grainline Felix dress that I started way back in 2018. I ended up having to do some fixing to make it fit properly – the reason I got annoyed with it in the first place. Sitting in the Naughty Corner for a long while gave me some patience and perspective and now I really love it!

Felix Dress

Unfortunately I nicked the bodice with the serger which is something I’ve only done less than a handful of times in the decades since I’ve owned one. Grrr…

Holey Crap!

I repaired it with Fray-Chek and a piece of fusible interfacing on the back. This rayon/poly fabric frays a lot though so it’s not invisible. Sigh. Now I have no excuse to save this dress for good! I can wear the heck out of it. Heh.

The rest of this fabric was calling me to use it up so I cut out a Tessuti Helga Shirt from the leftover piece. I made some changes since the silver grey test version that I made last year, adding a collar and pockets and reducing the fullness of the sleeve cap. I also lengthened it an inch. Much better!

Helga Shirt

The pockets are not large but will at least hold a phone or hankie. I quite like the collar.

Self-Drafted Collar

It lies so much nicer than the original band collar, which I discovered has too much curve in it. Again I added 5 smaller buttons rather than 4 big ones because that’s what was available in stash.

One last sewing project finished is the Allspice Apron from Hey June, offered as a free pattern download. I printed out a size M which turned out to be too skimpy on my current rotund shape so I slashed from hem to armhole and added 4″ to the width. I also raised the underarm a little for more coverage and raised the pocket height (maybe a little too far but hey, Team T-Rex Arms here). I had a great time deciding which fabric to use for the million miles of bias tape needed to finish the mobius-like edges, ending up with a bright batik.

Apron Binding
Apron Front
Apron Back

Don’t know whether the straps are going to stay put on my slippery sloping shoulders but only time will tell. The pattern just fit and used up most of a vintage cotton tablecloth that is such a dark navy that I actually thought it was black! This apron is a bit of a challenge to get into but I think it will get used a lot. Next time however I might use the larger side pockets from the York Pinafore since I love them the best.

So I forgot to mention that I rescued Janny the Janome HD5000 machine from the shop in December but all of the above were sewn using my new Brother cs6000i machine. I really love BeeBee! I’m becoming very enamoured of some of the computerised sewing machine’s tricks. I had fun using the walking foot (included!) on the knits and the buttonhole and button feet on the Helga Shirt. It was even fine with sewing the heavier cotton crepe of the apron, though I had some issues with the bartacks I tried to make on the pocket. That was just a bit much for the poor thing and it wouldn’t feed properly on the thick folded top edges. The centre bartack was passable however because that area hadn’t as many layers. I wouldn’t want to sew heavy denim or upholstery on this little guy though.

I have so many machines now that I had trouble keeping track of what needles were in what machine so I made a very quick-and-dirty needle chart out of a piece of closed-cell foam.

Needle Organiser

These are all used needles that still (hopefully) have some life left in them. The 4 button pins correspond to my 4 machines, one colour for each. I put a pin in the chart to show what needle(s) are currently in that machine. It also helps me to remember what size and type the needles these spare ones are since they don’t all have colour-coded markings. I really should make a better version of this organiser but this one works okay for now. I pinned it to the cork board on the wall right behind the sewing machines.

Well. I was going to count up my 2020 makes for the year but this is already getting rather long. So for now here’s saying a very firm good-bye to 2020 and wishing everyone a much better 2021! Stay safe and healthy and keep on keeping on. Hopefully it won’t be so long until I post again. Hopefully…

Autumn Is Flying In

All my best efforts at posting more often have obviously not worked at all! I give up worrying about it. It is what it is. I seem to do a little better with Instagram. Sorry, not sorry. Though I do ramble on more than most on that platform. Which is why I don’t give up entirely on blogging. Words matter as much to me as images. Each reflects and expands on the other.

Anyway, here I am. Another month and it’s already cooled down outside and it’s starting to have that “back-to-school” smell in the mornings. So nostalgic. This was a generally cooler and wetter summer than usual. I can tell because the grass is still mostly green. We don’t water it and it’s usually pretty browned by August. Plus I don’t feel that I’ve been enslaved to the hoses and watering can trying to keep my veggies and flowers alive like I usually am in summer! A couple of soakings a week and they’re good. With this weather, some things survived much longer than they usually do (peas, cabbages and last year’s kale, for instance) and some things didn’t do as well (tomatoes, bush beans). Though every year is somewhat different I guess. I didn’t have a chance to donate some of my produce to my kids so I’m struggling to use up stuff before it goes squishy. It’s a yummy challenge: winners get eaten and losers get composted! Win-win. Heh.

As everyone keeps saying, it’s been a very strange last 6 months! Our lives are being impacted in ways that we’re only just starting to get a handle on. It’s possibly more subtle for me as a senior who owns her own home with a yard to get outside in, kids who are grown up and living their own lives with their families, and no job or lost income to worry about. But I can still feel others’ frustrations. I keep hoping for some systemic changes in how society works now that people have had time to stop and reflect, to give up old unsustainable ways and learn new better habits. But I keep being disappointed. So many people want things to improve but they can’t seem to make sane choices. And we won’t even discuss the political scene. Ugh. Okay, I’ll quit now. Before I get into a rant about insane people having way too much power and how nobody seems to be able to stop them! Isn’t that how Hitler and Mussolini and Lenin and Idi Amin and Mugabe and Pol Pot and so many other evil dictators got loose? Quitting now…

Let’s talk about what I’ve been up to in the past month, shall we? I showed you the next project I was planning, the Lac Button-Up Dress. It turned out just the way I wanted.

Looking smugly pleased with myself!
Back View

If you recall the fabric is a viscose/linen blend that I dyed in July. It’s a bit blotchy but in a good way. Plus I conveniently had 10 perfectly matching buttons in the stash. What are the odds? I quite like this slightly longer length, just below the knee. I think I added about 5″ to the original pattern and I’m only 5’3-1/2″ tall so the original is pretty short. I cut self-bias binding for all the edges which lies much flatter and nicer than the dreaded facings. I also re-drafted my inseam pockets (there’s no pockets in the pattern) to be wide enough to tack to the front princess seams so they don’t flop around. That worked really well! The bodice fits just a little too loose to be comfortable without a t-shirt underneath but that makes it better as a layering piece. Here I’m wearing it with a vintage undershirt dyed in my Japanese indigo.

Next I got stuck into making the new Muna and Broad Banksia Bralette pattern. I used scraps of leftover knits and raided my bra-making supplies for fold-over elastics and powernet lining. This pattern is unique in that it includes optional “slings” from powernet that keep the girls separated and cooler. The first two efforts were a little frustrating because I felt as if I was too compressed.

Three Banksia Bralettes

I decided to cut the third version with a size larger for the front and no slings. That one fits very nicely and gave me more coverage under the arms. However, in an effort to rescue the first two bralettes I decided to do some surgery on the slings.

Top: charcoal bralette before; bottom: brown bralette after.

Yes, I crossed the slings the opposite way on these two! And the brown version has no powernet lining because it was a very firm knit all by itself. You might hopefully be able to see how I reduced the coverage of the slings in the brown one. I just kept snipping a sliver at a time as symmetrically as possible along the top and bottom of each sling and trying it on until the girls sighed in relief! Now they are comfortable bralettes with a surprising amount of support. If you’ve seen the Banksia pattern you might also note that my underbust band is narrower than the pattern since I only had 1″ elastic, not 1-1/4″ or 1-1/2″. I think this is quite wide enough for me because I’m on the smaller end (!) of this pattern I don’t have a lot of room on my torso for a wide band. I angle right out from my narrow underbust (aka “the shelf”) and wide bands just tend to curl up. So I have enough bralettes for now but I think this is going to be a handy pattern in future, especially if I expand it to a tank with a built-in bra. Muna and Broad already have released an expansion pattern like this but I’m not going to bother purchasing since I’d have to do some re-drafting anyway and I don’t need the included swim bottoms. Not hard to just work with what I’ve already got.

Next, I went with another Muna and Broad pattern, the Glebe Pants. I’ve wanted wide-legged pants for awhile now but I didn’t think I quite fit into this one’s size range. Just. Barely. On the smallest end! I love that. I printed out size iii and it fit perfectly. No changes at all except that I shortened the cuffs by an inch and narrowed the waistband because again, I only have 1″ wide non-roll elastic.

Glebe Pants and Kalle Shirt

Notice how nicely they pair with my cropped Kalle?

Glebe Pants back view

The fabric is a brown stretch linen in a fairly heavy weight. I lined the pockets with batik quilting cotton scraps because I also managed to get another garment out of these 3 yards of 52″ wide fabric. I’m very good at Pattern Tetris!

Self-drafted Pinafore

I wear this type of pinny all the time. I couldn’t quite fit a York so I went with my own pattern that I usually make in a knit but it works fine in a woven too. The inseam pockets are only one layer topstitched in place. You can barely see the topstitching and the pockets can’t move around at all. Also takes less fabric! I used a cotton quilting fabric as bias binding on all the edges. The V-back was a little tricky but I managed to get it to fold under smoothly.

Pinny back view

I realised later that everything I’m wearing here was self-drafted. The brown linen pants and the black lightweight linen top were made a couple of years ago. This outfit is very Me!

For the next project I’m attempting some casual pants for Thom. I’m having some fitting issues. Which may be all in my mind. Hmmm… These are more slim-fitting than his usual style but I want him to actually wear them. So I’m dithering. Just cut out the damn pants already, Damselfly! It’s only fabric.

Stay well, my dears! Wear your mask, wash your hands, keep your safe distance. Everyone is counting on you! And it’s the absolute least you can do to help the world get over this obviously extremely lethal pandemic.