Thursday, February 04, 2016

Summer at last

Well my sewing has slowed down a little because our wintery summer finally became a real summer. It was 32C today. I would rather the high had jumped from 15C to 25C but beggars can't be choosers. We had a warm week a few weeks ago and it was followed by a week of rain and now warmth again so the vegie garden is growing like crazy. We've just finished apricots, broad beans, broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, and sugar snap peas. And now we're eating plums, Asian pears, cabbage, kale, green beans, kohlrabi, lettuce, zucchini.....  Yum!

We have 2 new calves this summer and they are enjoying each other's company. We thought they were both boys but I think the 2nd calf just had a prominent leftover bit of umbilical cord. Can't see any dangly bits at the rear end anyway! We named the first one Bam Bam (his mother is Wilma). So number two's name has been officially changed to Pebbles. 

My time is also being spent on tennis and swimming. Ross and I crazily said yes to doing a team half Ironman on Feb 20 in Wanaka. I'm doing the swim and Ross is doing the bike. I only have to swim 1.9k but Ross has to bike 90k with hills!

I am in the middle of sewing the Sewaholic Granville blouse in a beautiful liberty print. More about that once I'm finished.
Plus I have everything cut out for an Italian tweed jacket and for a StyleArc Kate dress. Just have to pray for a little rain.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Personalized Jalie 2908 stretch denim jeans

I have been desparate for a new pair of jeans for awhile as my 'good' pair is now being worn while I garden. I bought a jeans kit from Heather Lou Closet Case Files last year. It's a great kit including blue and black stretch denim - a generous amount, Im sure I could make a pair of jeans for my granddaughter with what is leftover, 2 zippers, 3 buttons, rivets, a packet of Schmetz jeans needles,and topstitching thread. I also bought Heather's ebook on making jeans and it is awesome. It contains endless little details that make the difference between an amateurish look and a professional one.

I didn't use the Ginger jeans however as I wanted a flared leg. I have big calves and it isn't unusual for my pants to get stuck on them - not a great look. So I used the Jalie 2908 stretch jeans pattern - 2nd place on the Sewing Pattern Review website for 2015 in the pants division. I

By my measurements, I am a size R on the Jalie sizing chart. I made a muslin using broadcloth as I didn't have any appropriate stretch material. It was scarily tight, especially at the waistband, so I didn't think the added give of the stretch denim would solve the problem. So I made the next size up - S.

I made a couple of changes to the pattern.
1. I traced off all the pattern pieces with a 5/8 inch SA. That way if the pants were still too tight, I had some leeway.
2. I had some cute stretch cotton print with little bicycles on it (from Blackbird Fabrics) in my stash leftover from making my daughter a bike skirt so I used it in the waistband and the front pockets. For the waistband, I folded the pattern piece in half lengthwise and then added the seam allowance to the fold side. Then I cut one piece from the denim and one from the stretch cotton. The only change I made in the front pockets was to turn the pocket facing over so it would be visible from the inside of the jeans rather than from the inside of the pocket. I did leave the pocket lining oriented as instructed in the pattern as I thought the edge of it could potentially be seen from the front.

3. I interfaced the back pockets before adding the personalized design.
4. I made the fly shield as described in the jeans ebook, sewing a diagonal seam at the bottom.
Sewing machines: Janome Memorycraft 6600 professional, Brother 3034D overlocker.
Needle: Schmetz jeans needle

To personalize the jeans, I wanted to put something different on the back pockets. As I am a dual New Zealand and Canadian citizen, I decided to put a maple leaf on one pocket and a kiwi bird on the other. I traced the design onto lightweight tracing paper then pinned it onto the pocket and topstitched directly over the pocket. I used what I think is called a saddle stitch (Mode 2, Pattern 05 on my Janome). Then I just tore away the tracing paper.

For the seams, I had to increase the thread tension to 5.5. I sewed a regular seam L 2.5mm, then trimmed it and overlocked the 2 seams together before topstitching using Gutermann Mara thread at a stitch length of 3.0. For bartacks, I used L 0.5, W 1.5.

The buttonholer on my Janome isn't very reliable so after 3 practise buttonholes and 1 1/2 failed buttonholes on the jeans, I just made the buttonhole using a ZZ stitch (L 0.4, W 2.5 & 5). After opening the buttonhole and applying fray stopper, I went over the sides (ie the 2.5mm width) a second time, just to be sure. I skipped the rivets as I had visions of making unhidable holes with the awl!

The pants fit very well and are really comfortable.  There are wrinkles on the back of the legs but my guess is if there weren't any, it would be hard to sit down.  They don't catch on my calves, no button digging in at the waist, comfortable when sitting, what more could I ask for? Plus I'm sure no one else has a Kiwi and a maple leaf on their back pockets!

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Jasper sweater

The pattern is the Jasper Sweater/Dress from Paprika Patterns ( shop/jasper-sweaterdress/). I made the sweater version with the hood. When I saw this pattern, I thought it would be perfect for my daughter who loves to wear sweatshirts with hoods. This pattern is quite stylish - not your standard hoodie. I found a medium weight, very soft, viscose/poly/spandex print with 35% cross-wise stretch and no lengthwise stretch that I thought would be perfect. I bought black ponte for the cuffs but in the end I decided it would look better with the cuffs made out of the same material as the rest of the sweater.

The instructions were easy to follow and I used the tutorials on the Paprika website to do the single welt pockets and the hood. They were very helpful although I still managed to cut the welts outside the pocket opening instead of inside - yikes! Managed to make it all look OK in the end but hopefully I'll never do that again.

Other than shortening the bodice and the sleeve to fit my daughter, the only other changes I made were to understitch the long edge of the hood and I used 2 buttons instead of 3 - easy as they are only decorative. Oh and I also sewed the little gap on the bottom outside pocket edges - not sure if the gap was due to an error on my part or not but it was easily addressed. I used a scrap of navy cotton jersey for the pocket lining.

I haven't mailed it to my daughter yet, so here it is on me. This is a great pattern - easy to make, fits perfectly and is oh so comfy. I would definitely make it again in fact I might have to as my husband didn't want me to give it away!

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Garment-weight Neoprene Coat

B6254, Misses' Coat Dress

I went out on a limb the last few weeks and made a very colourful spring coat from garment-weight neoprene. The last coat I made was grey wool with black lining - exciting, eh? So I promised myself to be a little more daring next time. I chose The Butterick 6254 Katherine Tilton coat pattern. 

I bought my fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics after first having them mail swatches to me. I chose Hothouse Flowers garment-weigh neoprene for the front and back of the coat and the outer collar. For the sleeves and inner collar and pockets, I used Hot Coral Italian soft and drapey rayon doubleknit. I prewashed both fabrics by handwashing in cool water. 

Changes/additions I made:

  • I made View A (above) but used in-seam pockets instead of patch pockets. 
  • Shortened bodice 1/2 inch because I'm short-waisted
  • Used stay tape on horizontal parts of seams and on seam joining yoke pieces with the doubleknit as it was pretty stretchy
  • Sewed the seams with a 0.5mm wide zigzag stitch, 2.5mm long. But used straight stitch on neckline/collar attachment and straight edge of pockets
  • I thought the dart at the shoulder would be too thick if pressed to the side so I slit it and pressed it open
  • Reinforced collar corners as described in Sarah Veblen's pattern review class on Expert Sewing Techniques for Jackets - great class by the way.
  • Understitched collar facing with a straight stitch
  • Understitched front facings with 3-step zigzag, 3mm wide, 2.5mm long (see photo above). Served the purpose and even looks nice. Did it before doing the facing side of the bound buttonholes
  • Made bound buttonholes - took as long as the rest of the coat but definitely worth it. I followed the instructions in Karen Ball's ebook 'How to make a bound buttonhole'. 
  • Interfaced pocket fronts to reduce stretch
Things I learned:
  • The coat has dolman sleeves - I couldn't tell from the pattern photos
  • The pattern was a little off the grain on the neoprene. I went with the pattern rather than the grain and it worked - phew!
  • Neoprene needs a very sharp rotary cutter. Lift it frequently. And before you lift up the fabric piece you have just cut, run your fingers around the whole perimeter and find all the invisible strands of fabric that still aren't cut through!
  • I couldn't find any knit interfacing here in Christchurch but I found a very soft drapey woven one that worked fine. 
  • The doubleknit was stretchier than the neoprene  and the neoprene was stretchier than the interfaced neoprene so I sewed with the stretchier side down and eventually switched to using my walking foot
  • Don't sew the front facings to the front at the bottom until you have hung the coat on a hanger or dressform and determined how the facing is going to sit relative to the front. I had to attach the facing moving diagonally up a little as I moved away from the edge so that it would hang right.
So here it is!

It feels great on and it's just the weight I wanted. A definite change from grey wool with black lining! I should have used a stiffer interfacing in the collar as it turned out kind of floppy. I'm not sure yet if I like the dolman sleeves. They are very obvious because the sleeve collar contrasts so much with the body. I love the bound buttonholes, even if the big orange buttons do cover them up. As it's a bit of a statement, I can't see myself making another one unless it's for someone else.
 2015 Color Blocked Contest 200px

Thursday, November 12, 2015

I'm back!

More than eight years since my last post! How life has changed. Ross and I are now married and live on a small farm outside of Christchurch. I have 2 grandchildren back in the US and I was at both of their births - what an awesome experience - all of the joy with none of the pain!

These days I'm into sewing, singing and playing tennis. No tennis today though as the hail is hammering down and it's 6C out. What happened to spring? We even have the fire lit.

I'm going to use this blog to document my sewing so those of you who are keen on all things New Zealand - sorry!

We were recently in Hawaii with my kids and grandkids. Quilting is big in Hawaii so there are lots of fabric shops. My granddaughter (Juniper, age 4 1/2), my daughter (Auntie Amy) and I went to Dragon Mama in Hilo and bought some Batiq cotton for a dress for Juniper and a matching one for her doll. Juniper loved every fabric in the shop so it was fun choosing and I was guaranteed she would love the final choice. She carried the package the rest of the day. When we got up the next morning at the hotel, she wanted to know if I had finished it yet! Well, I have now but it will have to wait for her 5th birthday so it will fit and the weather will be warm again in the US.

I used McCalls 7233.

I followed the pattern other than a few changes. I didn't make a contrasting collar as I couldn't find anything that looked good. I made a self-fabric bias strip for finishing the collar rather than bias tape. 
 I also used a seam overcast stitch rather than a straight stitch for the second seam attching the sleeves and the ruffles.
 By the time I thought of it, it was too late to make a tab buttonhole out of fabric so I just made the thread loop one suggested.
I used a 3-thread serge to finish the side seam edges, shoulders and sleeve side seam before sewing any pieces together.  It was a pretty easy pattern to make although a little time consuming doing all the ruffles and gathered sleeve seams. I can hardly wait to see it on her! I think the dress is too big for her doll (it's for an 18-inch doll) so I might have to get her a new doll as well.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Heading to Tai Tapu

March 1, 2008
Wow, it's been 8 months since I posted anything to my blog. Proof that life in New Zealand is wonderful! It's been a great summer here, much better than last summer. At New Year's we went camping 50km north (on a gravel road) of Hanmer Springs and had a lake all to ourselves for 3 days. I finally caught my first trout while we were there. One morning we awoke to find ourselves completely fogged in. Then the fog gradually disappeared (can you see the 2 black swans in the photo below?) and it turned into a beautiful clear day without a breath of wind.

The other thing I have been doing this summer is playing tennis. I have played an occasional game over the years but never really focused on it. It is loads of fun. And I'm actually improving. Ross doesn't have to let me win an occasional game now to cheer me up!

I've also been learning to play golf and, maybe because I never did it in the past, it has not been as successful - alas. And it is way more frustrating than tennis. As a matter of fact, I bought my second hand clubs from a woman who got so frustrated she decided never to play again. Hopefully the clubs aren't jinxed in that direction! We usually play at a par 3 course and my best score so far is 80 for 18 holes (Ross' best is 59!!). So I decided to be brave and go to a 'real' golf course. I didn't even make the 18-hole par in 9 holes! Well at least there is lots of room for improvement!

The other exciting thing in my life is that Ross and I have bought a house together. It's a 12 year old house up at 400m elevation in the Port Hills and it's on nearly 120 acres! It has beautiful gardens, lots of trees for shelter (Christchurch is famous for wind), a 'chook house' (the current owners used to sell free range organic eggs), a glass house (green house) with a shadecloth area for plant propagation and views to die for. It's adjacent to a reserve called Kennedy's Bush so we went for a hike there and I took a bunch of photos and put them together into a panoramic view. The red circle is our house. It has 3 bedrooms plus 'in-law' quarters at the back of the garage. So we'll be all set for visitors.

All we need to do is sell Ross' house. So if you know anyone who wants a 4 bedroom house on the beach in Christchurch, let them know we have one! Here's the website I made so you can tour the house:

Well I guess that's all for now. Hopefully I won't wait 8 more months till my next posting. And hopefully my next posting will work - our new place is too far up the hill for DSL so I am going to sign up for satellite internet!

Friday, July 27, 2007

North Queensland, Australia

July 21, 2007

Amy and I are spending a week in Australia (so she can recover from the shock of going from summer in India to winter in Christchurch). It’s been unseasonably cold here for winter but it’s not any colder than Christchurch was last summer! We started in Port Douglas, which is north of Cairns, and went to the outer Great Barrier Reef for scuba diving. I ended up having to snorkel because I had a pneumothorax once. But it was all for the best because Amy got to go with the other certified divers instead of on the intro course with me. And the snorkeling was great because the reef was so shallow. I saw Nemo! And a Moorish Idol plus lots of wrasse and parrot fish. Amy saw a sea turtle and some reef sharks.

The following day, we went to the Rainforest Habitat where they had an aweome display of birds, koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, bats, emus etc from the Australian rainforest. The birds in particular were gorgeous - all sorts of beautiful colors.

For two nights we stayed at the Mossman Gorge B&B. Great spot up on the hills with the most scrumptious breakfast of homemade croissants, fresh fruit, homemade jam and passionfruit butter. At breakfast the first morning, there were tons of birds including two koukaburras.

We took a boat ride on the Daintree River yesterday and saw crocodiles, kingfishers and a green snake. Most of the crocs were juveniles but there was one big mama.

This morning we say a cassowary on the side of the road and then saw it again a few hours later on our way back. We consider ourselves lucky as there are only 1200 left in the wild. They are rather ungainly but regal looking creatures. I showed this photo to the woman taking us on our rainforest walk today and she recognized her as “Big Bertha”. The rainforest is awesome with trees that are hundreds of years old, some growing only a meter every 100 years! There are big blue seed pods called cassowary plums that have to go through a cassowary’s digestive tract before they can germinate. Apparently 37 species of plant require a trip through a cassowary before they can germinate. So that’s why they are worried about the low numbers of cassowaries. The other thing that seems to be essential around here is the mangrove trees. A lot of the fish on the reefs depend on them but I’m darned if I can remember why. Maybe they spawn around them or something. I guess I better look it up!