Wait! Wait for us Jungle January!

Jungle January 2015
Just as the gate is about to close on another year’s Jungle January,
my pet Snakes finally slither their way into the party…

Thank goodness the party’s held in the Americas, affording me a few extra hours to get them ready. This year’s Jungle Pets are actually quintuplets. Or maybe that should be sextuplets since I manage to squeeze a couple of scarfs in too. Unfortunately two of the batch didn’t hatch in time. So all you’re getting are these two + scarfs.

I really must start next year’s Jungle Beasts early…Like in Jungle June or July?

Knitting Wadder no more (?)

Last of my 2014 make was a fix. With your encouragements I took the plunge & refashioned my Michelin Man sweater into a Wang S/S 2010 Wannabe. To recap….

I wanted to go from this:

to this:

And here’s what I ended up with

 

Alteration Notes

I didn’t bother with pattern this time. Just wing it as I went along. I did manage to take some photos along the way. Pictures worth thousands of words innit!

2-alter

The Verdict

As expected it’s still a brave silhouette to wear. Best on a feeling tall day. But because the sweater is so comfy I’ve been wearing it even on not my brightest days. So let’s call it a win even if the fashion police in you want to issue me a fine, okay?

SWAP Shrug BS 2013-11-111

Following through with my SWAP F/A 2014, here’s the long sleeve shrug from the mohair gauze leftover.

The Inspiration, Design & Pattern

My inspiration was a shrug that I found at some online shop the name of which eludes me now. I briefly considered shrug patterns that were essentially a rectangle sewn into a tube with a stretch in the middle of the seam left unsewn. But I thought either the sleeve will be too loose or the bodice too small, so I went searching for other options. Burdastyle 2013-11-111 pattern has a bit of shaping to it so I thought it might make a good starting point.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

Size Used

I used 36 this time, which is what the size chart would have me use. I frequently use 34 for a better fit. But because the pattern was designed for knit, and I’m using woven, I decided to go with the size closest to my Top/Dress Block for wovens. In this case it was size 36.

Changes Made

Fitting changes

1-patAlt-bs2013-11-111

It was quite a visual process this time, so I’ll let the picture do the talking. You can see how I’ve laid my Top/Dress Block + Basic Sleeve Block together to assess the Burda pattern and decide what needs changing. I think the changes might be due to my sloping shoulder plus the posterior position  & pitch of my arm joints.

Design changes
  • Added 4″ knitted 2×2 rib for collar / bodice extension.

Fabric & Notions Used

Construction Notes

  • Construction is pretty much the same as the Cowl-Neck A-line Sweater the Second. The neckline/back hem were stablized with Vilene Bias Tape & overlocked. The seams were stitched & 3-thread overlocked.
  • Collar/back hem extension is 2×2 ribs hand knitted with 2.75mm – 4.5mm needles, so it flares out without any increases to confuse me! :-) The casting on was again approx 8 stitches per inch & multiples of 4 (my rib pattern).
  • The sleeve hems I ended up hand-overcasting, then weaving in a few extra yarns near the edge so that they’re denser like the salvedge.

The Verdict

On the plus side I’m glad I added the knitted collar/back hem extension. This now feel more like a little bolero jacket that’ll stay on rather than detached sleeves that I might have to constantly tugged at. And the Oops…The sleeves on this one are a bit tight for something that’s a cover up. I can only wear this with short-sleeve & sleeveless tops. The fabric again makes it a delicate garment. And what’s with the mini-wings at my back armholes right?

I’ll wear this alright…if only I have more white / pale color clothing & accessories to go with it…

Cowl-Neck A-line Sweater the Second

Yeah! Second project from SWAP F/W 2014 done!

Style Shots & Mug Shots

The Design & Pattern

0-SWAP2014aw-dsgn

This was originally going to be a better fitting version of Cowl-Neck A-line Sweater the First. But I got a bit off track while muslining the pattern. I also blame Pinterest which stuffed other ideas into my head. Trying high (front) low (back) on the muslin convinced me that it’s a more flattering shape and works well with the A-line silhouette. And I thought long skinny sleeve might be a nice counter balance to the voluminous bodice & cowl collar.

Now that collar, erm, it ended up a bit floppy because I didn’t think it through. I kept thinking I don’t want a turtle neck look & did everything I could to avoid it. But I went overboard & ended up with this floppy funnel. As it’s knitted with a sticky mohair yarn so too late to fix. I think I can live with it. But I’ll know better for next time.

Block Used:

Tunic Bodice + Sleeve Blocks

Design Changes Made:

(The pattern was done before I corrected the armscye height over-tweaking. So the shoulder seams are still lowered.)

  • Widened neck opening & lower front neckline. This is to ensure the knitted collar band would be wide enough to hang like a cowl rather than a turtle-neck.
  • Curved bodice hem from just below hip at CF to just below bum at CB. This high low hem hopefully gives my shapeless frame some hip curve!
  • Added 7-1/2″ knitted cowl collar. This was flared from neckline seam towards the collar edge.
  • Added 2″ bodice knitted hem & 1″ sleeve knitted hem. These were straight (rectangles).

Fabric & Notions Used

  • Cream Mohair Gauze (?) from Mood NYC. I was hoping for loose sweater knit in cream, but couldn’t find any. This has the surface texture of one, but sadly not the drape. Maybe I should have used it for underlined & unstructured jackets like Puu’s Gerard Coat (which looks like the same type of fabric): It certainly would have made the fabric less delicate to wear! Mine I will have to treat with kid gloves. I already had a seam rip accident (patched now). Plus underlining would have protected my skin from its scratchiness. But as I had bought the fabric with the sweater in mind I stuck with the course. Next time I’ll know better.
  • Rowan Kidsilk Haze silk & mohair yarn in Cream (634). No matching rib fabric to be found so I thought I could knit my own since yarns come in so many different colors! Actually, it turn out not to be a perfect match. But squint your eyes & it’ll be fine. Definitely softer than the fabric & marginally less scratchy.
  • Vilene Bias Tape.

Construction Notes

  • Marking was difficult in such fluffy fabric. I tried cutting out without marking, but where I needed to mark I resorted to bad habit: the reliable if not always removable wax carbon paper – in red no less. Some cursing & stain scrubbing was unavoidable when the red marking refused to just disappear. Don’t do it. Thread trace if you need to.
  • The fabric portion was predictably easy. The neckline & shoulder seams were stablized with Vilene Bias Tape. The seams were stitched & 3-thread overlocked. The edges where I was going to add ribbing were overlocked to give the knitting something more substantial to cast onto.
  • Cowl collar and sleeve & bodice hem ribbings were knitted by hand.
    • Collar is 1×1 rib knitted with 2.75mm – 4.5mm needles (I avoided increases like the plague – too confusing – so made my way-too wide funnel by gradually upping the needle size.)
    • The hems are 2×2 ribs knitted with 3.25mm needles.
    • I started all with approx 8 stitches per inch, but ensuring I have the right total number of stitches for my rib pattern (ie multiples of 2 or 4).
    • Casting on was a bit of an experiment, none of which were entirely clean & successful. I forgot that unlike entirely knitted pieces there isn’t a well-formed edge here to hook my first row of knit stitches into. It didn’t help that this fabric is so loosely woven so wanted to fray with any tugging at the cut edges. Maybe I should have underlined the fabric at least at the edges. Or better yet, knit the ribbings separately then treat like purchased ribbing and overlock to the edges.

The Verdict

While not exactly what I had envisioned, it’s wearable. If only it wasn’t so delicate & scratchy then I’d feel comfortable wearing it more often. Next time I’ll wait for the right sweater knit to come along. Yeah, no chance of me knitting the whole thing from scratch. Way too slow & complicated & stressful!

Me-Made-Tote II

Yes, more straight line sewing coming up. And looks pretty much the same as the self-drafted tote I showed you a couple of years ago. How exciting right!

Me: Sweetie, how do you like my new handbag!
MR: Erm, isn’t that the one you already have?
Me: And? So?
MR: If you’re making another why would you make it exactly the same?
Me: Why because it was such a huge success! Why change something that ain’t broken!

I did not lie. The first one I’ve used almost every day for the last two years. I’m obviously no Fashionista. The same neutral handbag does me just fine regardless of the outfit.

the old girlBut that first one is now tatty. It was sort of a muslin. Most of the ingredients were from the Stash and not bought specifically for it. It frayed and peeled. The peeling got so bad that I cut away the bottom corner patches (only to discovered adhesive residue which now attracts all sorts of gunk). Even a Non-Fashionista has her limit. So sadly MMT the First was forced into retirement.

MMT the Second is the same basic design. But I took the opportunity to improve on a few details and on the construction process after learning a few tricks from Don Morin’s Making Leather Bags Craftsy class.

Mug Shots

Fabric & Notions Used

The Design & Pattern

1_pattern

The design is pretty much the same as MMT the First. The only changes I made were:

  • Made the bottom corner patches one-piece (rather than 3-pieces). This was to avoid really thick seams since the fake leather this time is thicker than the vinyl I used last time.
  • Simplified the lining pattern following Don’s example. So only front & back pieces that extends T-shape-like to cover the sides and bottom.
  • Simplified & change the internal pocket sizes. I found of the two pocket methods I used last time, the patch method with minimum ease worked better. And the phone size section was the most useful, so this time I went for 4 of those. I also added a section for a pen.
  • Added detachable elastic loops to hold the soup thermos upright on cold work days!
  • Used the fake leather for the handle this time to avoid unsightly fraying.

One change that I wished I had made was to have cut-on sides for the exterior pattern too so that there’s a side seam like Don’s example. It would have made sewing the zipper so much easier. I’m not sure the side front / back style lines are really worth the hassle.

Construction Notes

  • I highly recommend Don Morin’s Making Leather Bags Craftsy class. Even though I’m unlikely to use real leather (too heavy) I still found the class very useful and informative. The construction order was especially helpful. And the bag he demonstrated looks more like the type I’d buy. I find most other bag patterns a bit too crafty for my taste.
  • Orb Decoration: This should have been done before sewing started. But I didn’t have all the stamping bits then. So the illustrations show this step on a the mostly made tote.

    Ink-wise I tried stamping directly with the gold paint I wanted (on a scrap of course). But that left no mark on this fake suede. Neither did other pigment metallic gold inkpads I ordered nor fabric dye solutions from the Stash. The only ink that seem to work was the normal office inkpad I have lying around. I wonder if it’s a solvent based ink, which you’re not really suppose to with the polymer clear stamps that I got. I reckon once is not going to destroy the stamp. So I used it to transfer the design onto the fake suede, then paint over the design with the gold paint. Not perfect, but at least neater than my freeland drawing on MMT the First.
  • OK, I said I don’t do tutorials. But since I took some photos along the way to remind me how to make it next time I might as well share these…
  • Someone mentioned in Don’s Craftsy class that Fiebing’s Edge Kote + Mod Podge are used to create the professional sealed edge finish you sometimes find on RTW leather bags. I tried Fiebing’s Edge Kote on the trimmed Handle edges. But it didn’t create the sealed effect I was hoping for. Maybe it’s Mod Podge that does the trick. Or maybe my fake leather is too absorbent. Must track me down some Mod Podge next time and try again.

The Verdict

I’m fairly happy with the result. The sewing is neater than last time though by no means perfect. The orb design is also neater, less amateurish looking thanks to the stamped guideline. I do prefer the old bag’s coloring. But this one being brown again should still be neutral enough to go with almost everything. I’m hoping the furnishing grade fake leather will stand up to wear a bit better. At least I won’t have fraying handles.

So here’s to 2+ more years of unfashionable pairing of the same bag with every outfit days in & days out!

First conquest in NYC

And I hadn’t even check into the hotel yet! We arrived too early for check-in, so waited at Bryant Park. I stopped by Kinokuniya Japanese book store, where I picked up Ryuichiro Shimazaki’s men’s coats book.

I’ve been tempted ever since Peter of Male Pattern Boldness gave us a peak inside. The pea coat he made from the included pattern looked fabulous & oh so professional. But as it’s men’s coats, and I only really do selfish sewing, I stalled.

Then earlier this year, after seeing my me-made trench, my brother joked about getting me to make him a Burberry Wannabe. So I checked out this book in store to see if it’ll help. The detail shots and the photo styling sold it to me. That and the fact that nothing else in the store was calling my name. (Could be jet-laggedness. Or could be that my taste changed. Or maybe Japanese fashion changed. Or all of the above.)

All I have to do next is to learn to read Japanese and figure out how to do transatlantic fittings. Or so I thought.

Well, it turned out I needn’t have worried my pretty little head. My brother was smart enough to know that he could be waiting a long time to get a trench out of me. So he went ahead and save up for the real McCoy. It was just as well since he’s obviously a Burberry snob, and probably wouldn’t have been gratified by my run of the mill trench without all the neat details that goes into a real Burberry. I manage to get some photos of these details. Some of them are actually shown in the book as well.

Burberry Men’s Trench Details!

Shimazaki’s men’s coats book Pattern No.1 details

Shimazaki-Mens-Coat-book-pattern-1-detailsFascinating innit! Not sure I’d bother with all of them details myself. But the sewing geek in me just can’t resist peaking.

The Burberry trench itself does look quite good on my brother. I’ve read elsewhere some complaints / concerns about them being a bit too big and baggy. But this one has a smart slim fit. Maybe those complaints apply to trenches from the yore years when baggy was in. As for personalized fit, the only alteration the store could offer was sleeve length. That’s where being able to sew a wannabe might come in handy. There is only so much that RTW could cater for. We’ll see. Maybe someday this book will come in handy. If not for my brother, maybe for MR – if I could ever convince him to dress up outside work!

Balmain Wannabe?

So as I was browsing my Burdastyle pile for SWAP inspiration & came across this top. Checking Burdastyle.com for pretty pictures I noticed the image file name mentions Balmain. Isn’t that some fancy schmancy designer?

I googled around but could not find any Balmain that looks exactly like this top. But I did find this Balmain Fall 2102 collection runway photo on Style.com which has similar stylelines. Do you think it’s a Burda designer wannabe?

“The B**** Stole My Look!!!!”

I actually rather like the Burda version. The designer original looks really clunky. I reckon it would look terrible on us plebs. I might make the Burda one with Organza front and back, and Georgette for the sides and sleeves. One to sleep on.