Monday, November 23, 2015

Switching to Wordpress

Pattern Scissors Cloth is moving!  I've been thinking about doing this for a while, and have finally decided to make the switch to a Wordpress blog.  Here's my new blog address if you want to hop over there right now and start following:

That URL is easier to remember isn't it?  One of the things that prompted me to switch blogging platforms was the fact that this URL is - which sounds a bit crazy!  In explanation, buzzybee was my Flickr name, and buzzybeesworld started as a photography blog, which began to include a few home/crafty/knitting things, then focused more and more on sewing as I found my niche and became immersed in the awesome online sewing community. 

I also decided to switch because I wished to cut some of the clutter and have a minimal blog design. However, minimal does not equal quick and easy!  I have played around with free Wordpress themes for a couple of months trying to settle on one. Luckily the platform is easy to use (just like Blogger) but there are more design/layout options to explore, and it can be hard to decide on one!

Anyway - my new blog is up and running with just a few tweaks yet to be made.  All the old posts are transferred, but some of the links are broken and my comment replies have gone a bit wonky!  I'll gradually fix things, and I'll definitely keep this blog going until I am sure important things like the RTW Tailoring Sew Along and Tricks of The Trade are transferred properly.

In the meantime all my new posts will be over at the new site, so change your links now and start following. Then you can start reading about my new top!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Whatever Happened to All Those Things?

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It was strange to come back to my blog after a three-year absence, and browse my Finished Projects page. Who on earth was this person?!  Was that really me?!  Did I make that?! I have to be honest and confess that a lot of those things I never wore because they were Just Not Me.  The biggest culprits in all this were vintage patterns - lots of fun to make up, but you have to be careful that they fit in to your real life and not a fantasy life!

I don't know if anyone noticed, but I used to keep my Finished Projects page current by removing items from the page as they were removed from my wardrobe - so some extensive blog housekeeping was way overdue! I decided to document the clean-out here, so now you know what happened to all those things.

Let's start with the items still in rotation:

I love the colour of this dress, and even though it is now a size too big for me I still wear it. I must have snagged the back skirt on something as it has a small but growing hole, so will be retired soon.

Naval Trousers
When these got too big I unpicked them and made them a size smaller because I missed them so much!

Still in regular rotation.  One of my go to coats, and many of you will know this from the inside out as the subject of the Ready To Wear Tailoring Sew Along.

A bit frou-frou for my usual taste, I do still love this dress.  It is so nice to wear in summer, and I'm looking forward to a fourth summer in this dress!
PS: I came across this pattern the other day and thought about putting it up online - the skirt is just a rectangle, so the actual pattern would only be a few tiny bodice pieces and quick to print - anybody interested?

Pink Jacket
For a jacket with no sleeves, this is actually quite versatile, and was worn more than I thought it would be. It is still hanging in my wardrobe - just.

Westhaven Skirt
This was thrashed in it's day, but now lies in my alterations pile waiting to be taken in, and up. Maybe it would be quicker if I just made a new one! Maybe it should be in the next category:

Well worn items that are now too big, or worn out, or a disaster happened:

Oops - someone put this hand finished silk ggt blouse in the washing machine! It had some suspect
bleach-like mystery spots on it also. No-one is owning up.

I wore these quite a lot back in the day, especially the scallop skirt.  When I started running seriously I lost a dress size, and both are just too big now (plus, get real Sheryll, the scallop skirt is too cute for you)

Black Ruby Slip, and 60's shift with red stitching:
I machine washed both these items which shortened their life (better that way than shortening mine!)  The spaghetti straps on Black Ruby eventually wore thin and started to fray and fall apart.  And the shift dress became a bit too faded looking to go out in public.

Twist Dress, and Grey Tweed Dress
I was so disappointed to discover something had been eating these fabrics (? moths ?).  Whatever they were they had good taste because they were fine quality fabrics, and I was hoping to have both these gems in rotation this winter. Boo :(

Moving on to: wore a few times, but don't wear now:

1969 Burda Dress
This garnered many compliments whenever I wore it, but I felt like a young junior teen!

Tangerine Tango Top 
Always a little big, now it is huge.  It is hanging around somewhere waiting to be altered, and at this rate never will be.

Also too big. Funny, now looking at this blog post I prefer the original shorter length!

Charcoal wool skirt
The first garment on my blog! Also mothholed :(

The Last Gasp of Winter Cape
As much as I like this design, it was too impractical for me. It looks great buttoned up - and only buttoned up - which is where the problem lies.  Maybe I watched too much Zorro as a child, but I think a cape needs to be quick and easy to remove, and with 6 buttons to undo before you could get it off, this wasn't.

The Gold-Miner's Daughter Dress
I think the cat liked this dress more than me, as she always wanted to sleep on it!  Once a homeless, mistrusting cat, she never curled up on your lap, but the day I wore this dress she did.  It was worth making it for that alone.

Wore once:

Emerald dress
This was made to wear to a wedding - if the fabric wasn't so dressy I would have worn it again as it is a great classic.

Worn for the photoshoot!  This may be out in the garden shed in the Totally Unnecessary Garment wardrobe...just in case I ever need a cocktail dress.

What on earth was I thinking?!!!!

Note that these are mainly vintage patterns!

Red Tartan/Leopard Dress
Not sure what I was thinking here (actually I do, I was going through a brave "clashing patterns" phase...) but I do know I had a rather cool dress planned for the same pattern and this was a prototype of sorts. I only wore it for the photoshoot!

Again - never worn.  I loved the colours in the fabric, but this dress definitely isn't 'me' either. 

Another never worn experiment in trying out a vintage pattern, but this time in a misbehaving inherited cheap polyester fabric.

This is still hanging in my wardrobe, I kind of like it but I feel like it is for a funeral. 

These were always going to be an experiment in taste.  I still like something about these, however they are way too big now so maybe that is a good thing!

So, there we have it.  I found it quite interesting doing this analysis as there were some recurring themes:

1. Don't start running and lose a dress size, because half your wardrobe will not fit. (but some things might fit better!)
2. Unless he is a drycleaner, keep your husband away from emerald silk blouses!
3. If you have a suspicion that you are too old for something that cute, you possibly are.
4. Take the time to handwash those delicate fabrics or those that readily fade. Remember the time investment you made to make them.
5. Protect your fabric and clothing (especially stored items) from moths.  Advice needed here please!
6. Consider the practicality of the design - can you walk in it, can you brush your hair in it, if it's a cape can you whip it off like Zorro?
7. Consider the fact that the pressure to use up your burgeoning stash, could have a negative influence on your style decisions.  Yes, that 20 year old fabric is perfect for that Young Junior Teen dress, but are you a Young Junior Teen?
8. Consider extra-carefully the practicality, wearability and suitability of vintage designs.  In retrospect I think I was influenced by vintage sewing bloggers and veering too far from my own style.  It is wonderful to make something to extend your boundaries, (as a patternmaker I gained a perspective of vintage designs that I didn't previously have)  but unless you want to risk a latent item in your wardrobe, modern patterns are probably safer for everyday wear.  Did I really need to say that?!

Do you make a lot of things that you hardly wear?
PS: How do you prevent moths from eating your expensive wools?
Also - shall I make a PDF pattern of the Juliette Dress (below) - anyone interested?

Monday, October 19, 2015

A not-so-basic black top

One of my makes this winter was this top: 

It is always nice to clear some stash, and for this project I managed to use up some black merino fine rib of that quality that was ubiquitous about 15 years ago, and some black silk satin leftover from a Ruby Slip that has since died.

I totally just wanted to copy this Dion Lee top, but not only do I have a thing against copying directly, I wanted to make it more everyday/work appropriate. The lower end of the keyhole needed to be raised and the amount of shiny satin reduced, and that's how I came up with my option.

This merino rib has 'grown'.  The top feels looser overall - which I'm OK with, the annoying bit is that I planned the lower edge of the satin to sit on the bustline (there is bust shaping incorporated into this seam) and it actually now lies about 1cm lower.  I guess most people won't notice!

If you look closely you can see I bound the edges of the keyhole in satin too. Initially I planned on double folding this edge, but it stretched and no matter what I did I couldn't get my stitching to look straight so after precariously unpicking a couple of times I reverted to plan B.  One of my favourite details are the cuffs.

The top has been in regular rotation this winter, it is comfortable and goes with most things. Care is required with underwear though - that satin strip above the bustline shows every lump and bump right down to the seams on your bra!

I seem to be going through a black phase again, with a few black works in progress.  For me it is a wardrobe essential, although I admit it isn't the most flattering colour next to the face when you get a bit older.  And it is tricky to photograph when you come to blog about it!

Are you a black fan too?

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!