Saturday, September 26, 2015

Stash Enhancement Day

It was a beautiful spring day and I was walking home from Pilates soaking up the sights and sounds with that extra sensory perception that you get after a good workout.  The chatter of excited conversation arose from one particular building usually closed for the weekend, and a freshly scrawled blackboard sign reading "Pop-up Sale" directed my gaze to a window full of FABRIC!!

I walked on home.

Haha - no I did not!  I walked out with these seven pieces:

Future Dress - Future Blouse - Future Shirt - Future Dress - Future Top - Future Dress or Shirt - Future Top

Number 1 and 4 are stable knits, number 5 is silk, and the rest are viscose prints.

The pop-up sale was held by Moa, a clothing boutique in West Lynn village. If you are interested in their clothing they were selling some of that too, but what we are really interested in is fabric, right?!

So, Aucklanders - they are also open tomorrow, and probably next weekend as well (they said they were only 1/3 of the way through sorting out their workroom yet!)  I don't know the street number, but it is on Great North Road, Ponsonby end, opposite Giltrap Prestige, next to the lunch bar.  Worth checking out :)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Industry Insights: Grading Season!

Some of you expressed an interest in hearing more about my 'day job'.  This is something I have largely avoided on my blog because a lot of it is confidential, as you can probably understand!  There are snippets I can show you though, so here is the first in a series of occasional 'Industry Insight' posts.

Although it is Spring 2016 showing in New York and London, here in New Zealand the opposite is happening.  Our Winter 2016 collection is showing, and even though the agents are still out there selling, production has already begun. For me this means it is grading season!

All the selling samples in our collection are made in size 10/Small. As a patternmaker it is really convenient for fitting purposes that I am almost a perfect size 10 too!  Obviously the rest of the world is not a size 10 as well, so patterns for all the other sizes need to be created before garment production can proceed.

At my workplace we do this by manually grading sizes up and down from the size 10 (S) pattern.

Grading the XS sleeve from the S Sleeve

Yes it is all done by hand - and there is a lot of cutting to do!  Larger organisations might use a CAD system but we still do it the traditional way.

All the sleeves graded and cut out

We usually grade five sizes in total  - XS/S/M/L/XL (3 up, 1 down) and sometimes we grade an XXS or XXL if they are requested by buyers.

After cutting them all out, each piece is nested to check for accuracy:

The Backs nested

Nice accurate work!

This simple top took only an hour to grade, but the lined coat-with-a-zillion-pieces I graded earlier in the week took me the whole day!

Grading can get a bit monotonous, but it is also therapeutic after the stress and deadlines of producing a sample range.  Most of the styles will be graded in the next month or two, and then the fashion cycle begins all over again as we start to design our Spring 2016!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fabric-A-Brac Ponsonby

Last weekend I went along to Fabric-a-brac in Ponsonby.  This is a fabric market where you can sell pieces from your fabric stash, and more importantly conversely buy pieces from other people's fabric collections.  For anyone who sews it is a genuine slice of fabric heaven, with many vintage and modern fabric bargains to be had.

These people must be my friends!
As soon as I walked in I regretted that I only had 20 minutes to spare, and so I did a very quick scout from room to room - yes, at the St Columba Centre there were several rooms filled with fabric-laden tables just like this:

and there were tons of second-hand patterns to browse through:

and plenty of trims and buttons:

I would quite happily have spent the whole morning browsing through everything.  Because you have to look at everything so you don't miss out on the bargain of the century don't you?

In my 20 min time slot speed-shopping I came away with 2 items, that's one item every 10 minutes so perhaps it is best I wasn't there too long!

I picked up a vintage knit from Mintage in a bold houndstooth ($14):

 and an Australian Home Journal with a cute bow front dress pattern ($10):

Obviously one is not destined for the other ;)

Meanwhile, I'm definitely going to Fabric-a-brac next year - I might even get a table!   It would be fun as there is a nice social vibe, lots of friendly people, and with a cafe and funds going to the Mercy Hospice there is no excuse for staying at home. Fabric-a-brac are also in New Plymouth (just happened on 12 September), Wellington (10 October) and Palmerston North (31 October). I definitely recommend checking it out in your town!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Wow! And that teal mohair jacket.

Wow - thanks so much for the wonderful welcome back to the sewing blogosphere everyone!  Because I had abandoned my blog I almost expected a negative reaction, but instead was overwhelmed by all your positive comments. It's like being part of a great big sewing family!

Meanwhile, I'll share some pics of that teal mohair jacket - yes, a finished project!  I started this jacket in 2012, and once I had completed the buttonholes and collar it sat on the dress stand for ages gathering dust until I finally purchased some lining to finish it.  And the lining sat on the ironing board for ages gathering dust until I cut it out.  I can't remember where that sat, but it probably gathered dust too until I got around to sewing it up, and then I decided to get all couture-y and do some fancy stitching on the lining. No wonder it took until 2015!
I am really happy with the collar - a typical 60's 'Jackie O' style:

But to be honest I'm really not quite finished - because the fabric is so thick, the front neck edge really needs a small dome or hook on the corner, so of course all the photos I took tonight show it sticking out.  Oh well, I can't see it when I'm wearing it.

I used the same hair canvas on the collar as I did on the front edges/buttonholes it worked really well. On this super-thick fabric you should have seen the amount of cloth allowance I used for the collar. Here's a pic showing part of the under collar, and a few of the zillion tiny prick stitches that I used to compress the seam allowances inside:

I also prick stitched the facing at the back neck (a bit blurry in this shot). Can you spot a couple of extra joining seams?  There's one on the CB top collar, and a nifty one hidden on the front facing. If you have a good memory, I cut this jacket out of an old coat, and had to make some modifications to squeeze everything out.

The buttons were dyed to match, and although they are man-made they are fairly good rendition of the traditional stitched leather button. I would have preferred a size up but they weren't available. The lining is a plain black viscose, and I echoed the button decoration with some running stitches around the edge - you know, just to save getting up and ironing it...

So that's it - I've worn it quite a lot this winter.  Even though it has 3/4 sleeves it is toasty warm, and I don't mind wearing long black sleeves under it, or gloves on super-cold days.  I'm also amazed with how many colours it goes with, like oxblood, and err, black.

I have to say this fabric was a pleasure to work with, even if I had to use every bulk-reduction trick in my arsenal.  If you like this mohair look, I'd highly recommend trying some of this fabric if you can score some from your Mum's cupboard like I did!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Has it really been that long?

As many of you have noticed I've taken a rather long blogging break..  It wasn't intentional, it just sort of happened.  Time passed, the blogging break got longer, and whenever I went to write a 'comeback' post the words all seemed as tacky and wrong as the word comeback, so it was easier to log off and try again another day, or week, or month, or year....

So here I am again, exactly three years to the day since my last blog post!
(ok let's be honest, I waited an extra five days just so I could write that!) 

I can't pinpoint why I stopped blogging.

Highly likely it was because my work hours increased - my job somehow evolved into a full-time one. (How did that happen by the way?)

Maybe because not a lot of home sewing was happening anyway.  That teal mohair jacket sat for ages on the mannequin gathering dust!

Maybe because I have so many unfinished projects. I look at them and suffer Instantaneous Mental Paralysis. The only cure for that is to turn around and shut the Unfinished Project Room door.

I certainly started to feel a pressure to post regularly, which was a responsibility I never planned on having. Blogging was supposed to be my hobby, not my job. With the growth in readership I started to feel like a commercial blogger.  I never wanted to work to a blogging schedule or feel like I had to write something.

Maybe I needed to be free of the shackles of a blog for a while - to escape.  Maybe that is why I took up running!

Slowly, but slowly my mojo is coming back - I have done some fun sewing, finished a few projects, and started a few new ones (something I really don't need to do!).  I did finish that teal mohair jacket, and have a sudden urge to finish a quilt I started about 6 years ago, and the new one I've started.  But I still have a massive stash of fabric that sends my brain into overdrive. And a growing sewing queue....

In other words, I haven't really changed!

During my absence, I'd frequently think of my favourite bloggers during the long days at my worktable.  I'd wonder how you were and what you were making at the moment, what the weather was like in your part of the world, how much your kids have grown.  I'd check in occasionally on your blogs, find out some of you had married, had kids, started businesses, or were exactly the same,  but I'd be shy and you would never have known I had stopped by. On my blog, some of you questioned where I was and whether I was alright, and many of you popped on over to my running blog to discover that yes, I am still standing!

Earlier this year I made my neglected old sewing blog private, but after reading this lovely lady's post I quickly made it public again.  I hope to find the time to post a bit more, obviously not as frequently as before but enough to stay in touch.

And you know what?  I'm looking forward to catching up with you all again!
xx Sheryll

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sewing and Running

On January 3 this year I decided to start running again and bought some new running shoes - this is me after my first run lol!

It is a total 'set-up' photo, but I was pretty stuffed!

I used to run quite a bit and did a few 5/10k races until a back injury put an end to any ideas of a half-marathon.  This time I'm taking it a bit more g-r-a-d-u-a-l, and if I just manage a few short races here and there I will be happy.....although I do have a teeny dream of running a marathon before I reach 50.....

Anyway, I just wanted to comment on how many other sewing bloggers go running!  Tasia runs, Shannon runs, Melissa runs - and even better makes her own running gear!  Sarai has just run a half-marathon, and I'm sure I remember Karen and Peter and kbenco mentioning running at some stage.  And I know that there are tons more of you that I can't pinpoint right now in my Olympomania!

Maybe many of us run because sewing is a sedentary hobby and we need to get out and pound the pavement to make up for it!  Or maybe it is because sewing can be frustrating and a good run can sweep those irritating frustrations aside.  Or maybe we just run to maintain our weight so we still fit into our lovingly crafted garments!  If you're a runner, what is it that keeps you tying your laces and heading out the door?

And next question - do you blog about it?  I've just started following a few inspirational running blogs, and would enjoy following someone I already 'know', so please leave a link in the comments if you blog or have recommendations!  (And this is where I shyly admit I started my own running blog the other day so I could record my progress without boring you here!)

So, do you sew and run too?  Tell me about it because I'd genuinely love to know, and I'm sure other sewing runners will too!

I gotta go now because the women's triathlon is starting soon and I'm so excited I don't want to miss a single moment - go Andrea, Kate and Nicky!  I hope you can repeat what our rowers did!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Add Side Seam Splits To Your Trousers Too!

The other day I was asked how I did the side split hem on my black stretch capris, and as quite a few of you liked this design feature I've done a quick tutorial.  This is for you Liza Jane!  It is a handy trick to know, because you can also use it on the hems of sleeves and tops too.

  The first step is to establish the following:
  • your finished hemline
  • depth of the split (mine was 4cm)
  • hem allowance (this must be 1-2cm greater than the depth of the split, mine was about 6cm)

To the side seam of your pattern, add three notches:
  • one on the hem fold
  • one above the hem fold and one below the hem fold, to mark the depth of the split, ie 4cm

Sew the side seam, but leave it open between the upper and lower notches, backtacking at the ends of your stitching:

Press the seam allowances open either side of the notches...

...then fold the hem up along the hemline (don't press the hem until you've finished):

Now reach into the hem and pinch together the seam allowances inside, and pull them out ready to sew them together:

You should have one seam allowance folded at the hem notch with right sides together. Ensure the hem notch is on the foldline, and the split notches match:

Sew the seam allowances together on this side of the split, between the notches:

Turn this side of the split through, and repeat for the other side:

If you've done everything accurately, both sides of the split should be the same length (if you look closely at the very first photo, mine is about 1mm out!).

This is the inside:

And this is the outside:

Now you sew the hem as per normal - I machined the hem on my trousers, but you can do it by hand for a more tailored look.

Happy sewing!