Saturday, 22 July 2017

Threadworks 2017

This year Canterbury Embroiderers' Guild celebrates its 50th anniversary and also hosted its biennial exhibition. A small but beautifully formed exhibition.

Creates Sew Slow: Threadworks 2017

Julie Clemett won Selectors' Choice with her beautiful stumpwork / goldwork piece Chinese Imperial Dragon (pictured next to the exhibition banner). Unfortunately it is a hopeless picture of the piece but it really was spectacular. Julie describes her piece as "a five-toed dragon, a symbol of the Chinese Imperial family, given life by the iridescent scales and the three dimensional effects of the stumpwork technique. Highlighted on a celestial background of starlight beads on navy velvet"

Julie had a second piece in the show, a gorgeous goldwork picture, which I didn't get a photo of called Golden Bouquet. This won the First Time Exhibitor prize.

Creates Sew Slow: Burst of Colour

Lynne Hill's piece of cross stitch Burst of Colour is described as "a crewel pattern design depicting the bright colours of spring".

Creates Sew Slow: Tree Bark

I really liked Laureen Pedersen's piece called Tree Bark, which she described as "I have used metal fabric which was burned, stretched and manipulated onto a painted and stitched silk background. Hand and machine embroidered".

Creates Sew Slow: Crewel Cushion

In the background is a blue bag made by Diane Wilson entitled Gosh What a Bag. One of the pieces submitted by the Guild's Past Presidents.

The crewel cushion is by Dawn Chivers and described as "early traditional crewel pattern using single strand DMC" thread.

The table runner in the foreground is by Judy Evans and is a piece of Ukranian embroidery.

Another stand out piece on display was the Canterbury Embroiderers' Guild 50th anniversary hussif designed by Ann Bradley.  This hussif was available as a pattern for all Guild members to stitch and included the specially designed Guild logo fabric.  I did think about joining in but as I haven't done any actual embroidery for years I didn't progress much past the thinking stage.

Creates Sew Slow: CEG 50th Anniversary Hussif

Creates Sew Slow: CEG 50th Anniversary Hussif

All in all a wonderful way to spend an extremely wet Saturday afternoon (complete with flood warnings and local states of emergency).  Chatting with other embroiderers' and admiring thirty-seven great pieces of embroidery.

The exhibition is on at the Canterbury Museum until 30 July.  The museum has free entry although they do welcome a gold coin donation. So if you are in the Christchurch area over the next week I recommend a visit, it will feed your creative spirit.  It may even get me to pick up a none clothes sewing needle and thread.

If you want to find out more about the Canterbury Embroiderers' Guild they have a public Facebook page.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Style Arc Maris Moon Top

This top was made for my friend Kathy's birthday and whilst it caused some angst I am really pleased with how the pattern and fabric worked together to produce a great finished garment. It has now been wrapped in its pretty paper and is winging its way across the ocean to England hopefully in time for her birthday.  Fingers crossed that it fits and Kathy likes it.

The finished garment

Kathy is very petite so how this top looks on my body double Dorothy is hopefully not how it will look in real life.  As a point of reference there is 5 inches of negative ease at the bust and hips and about 10 inches at the waist.

Without Kathy to model it showing it on Dorothy was the best alternative I could come up with. Photographing it on a hanger or flat produced very uninspiring images.

Creates Sew Slow: Style Arc Maris Moon Top

Creates Sew Slow: Style Arc Maris Moon Top

Creates Sew Slow: Style Arc Maris Moon Top

The fabric

Creates Sew Slow: AGF Moon Stories Spark

Another Art Gallery Fabrics knit called Moon Stories in colourway Spark purchased from Hawthorne Threads in April this year specifically with my friend Kathy in mind. Kathy loves rabbits and this was such a cute fabric I couldn't resist it.

This is a 95% cotton 5% spandex fabric. Described by AGF as the day fades into the darker shades of the sky, friendly creatures appear through the pine trees. The moon shines in its different phases and reveals the winged fauna and playful bunnies in the colours of a luminous nightfall.

When I purchased the Moon Stories knit I also bought another AGF knit that I thought I could use as a coordinate but the colour match was poor when I saw the two fabrics together in real life.  So off to The Fabric Store I went on my quest to find a coordinating knit.  I couldn't find a cotton knit but I did find a merino that coordinates really well.

The pattern

Just love the Style Arc Maris top but it wasn't my first choice for this garment as I only had my size 10 version and Kathy is considerably smaller in circumference than I am.  However I decided that I had the skills to alter the pattern appropriately and I am really pleased I took the chance.

Creates Sew Slow: Style Arc Maris Top

Style Arc description is: has an interesting front hem panel that continues to the back giving a fabulous silhouette.  Use your own creative flare, mixing fabrics or colours for your own individual look.  We made our sample in linen but would also work in a knit as well.

The pattern alterations

The pattern measurements for the size 10 are: bust 41 inches; waist 30.5 inches and hip 43.25 inches. Guestimating my petite friend's size was a leap of faith but hopefully both the knit fabric and the shape gave me some room for error.  I didn't want to alter the look of the finished garment too much despite using a knit.  Definitely don't want it to be as fitted (tight) as it is on Dorothy.  So whilst I don't know yet if this top actually fits Kathy it looks as though it could!!

For the pattern alteration I decided to remove 10 inches from the circumference of the garment and 1.5 inches from the length.  How I removed the width was a bit unorthodox.  I marked 2.5 inches from centre front / back and put the pieces on the fold of the fabric at that mark point.  I cut around the pattern apart from at the neck edge.  I then repositioned the pattern piece for the neck edge so that only 1.25 inches was removed from the width.  The neck is quite wide in this garment and I worried that if I cut the neck the original size it would just look odd and be irritating on my petite friend.  For the length I just folded it out of the main body piece for front and back. The neck and hem panels in the plain merino fabric are unchanged length wise.

The sewing

Nothing very exciting here that I haven't described before.  It was sewn on the overlocker with the hems folded over and stitched with my Featherweight.  I did mitre the corners at the points of the front hem panel. I am happy with the overall finish I achieved and my work colleagues thought it looked very RTW.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

TSW Odette Zebra Top

This is my second version of The Sewing Workshop Odette top.  I am not entirely sure that second time's a charm with this pattern from a fit perspective or that I really want to pursue perfection with a third garment. So another could do better version of the Odette top. Certainly good enough for a weekend wear knit top and in a fun print.

The finished garment

Love the zebras and the colour. Even like the combination of zebras and stripe from the front and back.

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Zebra Top

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Zebra Top

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Zebra Top

The fabric

The zebra fabric is an Avalana jersey 95% cotton and 5% elastane by Stof Fabrics.  The stripe fabric is also an Avalana but with 94% cotton and 6% elastane. This fabric was purchased from All Things Patchwork on our Easter trip away at the same time as the spectacle fabric for the Two Ronnies top.

I seem to be choosing to sew the newer shinier fabric rather than the old stuff.  However the new is arriving faster than my sewing. So either I need to build a new house for the fabric stash or recognise that the world will not run out of fabric any time soon and buying when you need it is not taking a huge risk. In my defence I do buy the fabric with a project in mind it just doesn't eventuate before the next piece of fabric arrives. Plus if I order it from overseas I need fabric in stock for a few projects otherwise I wouldn't be able to sew whilst waiting for my order to arrive!!!

Creates Sew Slow: Stof stripe fabric

Creates Sew Slow: Stof stripe fabric

The pattern

The Sewing Workshop Odette top (the line drawing and top in yellow).  I was never that taken with the other pattern - Ivy in red on the right.  However I think I might give it a try as the set-in sleeve will give a better fitting result. It may also give more of a swingy look top which I seem quite attracted too at the moment. Or maybe I copy the style lines of the Odette top onto my TNT set-in sleeve knit top (Silhouette Patterns Sweater Set #195) - a seemingly daft idea worth considering.

Creates Sew Slow: The Sewing Workshop Odette TopCreates Sew Slow: The Sewing Workshop Odette Top

The pattern alterations

Numerous pattern alterations were made in fact I wrote a separate post so that I could illustrate the changes with photos. I will update my pattern alteration post to add the zebra top photos so that you can see the before and after tops side by side.

I do think that this version fits better than my original but I am still not completely satisfied. Areas of dissatisfaction are:
  • Bit of gapping at the armhole albeit smaller than in the original which means enlarging the bust dart helped. But now the diagonal drag lines from under bust to hip are more noticeable.
  • Generally looks a bit tight around the hips.
  • Too much fabric across the back or maybe I need to make a bigger sway back adjustment as there is a noticeable bubble of fabric between shoulder blades and lower back. I don't normally have to make a large sway back adjustment so am wondering if the fix should be something else. Back to needing more room in the hip area maybe.
  • The neck is possibly a bit open so I should probably have added back at the top of the front half of the sleeve (and taper out correspondingly at the neck edge) the 1 inch I removed for the bust dart / gapping fix.
  • Not a fitting issue but one of poor fabric placement created by using the stripe for the side front and back which creates a large expense of stripe on one side. This results in an unflattering extra wide appearance. I didn't think about the impact of the stripe on how wide it made me look I was just focused on having two different sleeves to create stripes with zebras and vice versa.
  • Love the longer length in the back just think it would be good to start it closer to the side seam on the side back piece to have more of a shirt tail look on that left side.

The sewing

Nothing new about the sewing of this top from my original version. Just a quick knit sewn on the overlocker. Really spent far longer thinking about and making the pattern alterations than cutting out and sewing the actual top.

The styling

Not really styled but I did pair it with my black Andrea Moore cropped zip leg pants and United Nude Edge ankle booties. Love the booties but they are a bit higher than I was expecting and I have needed some practice outings in them.

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Zebra Top

Creates Sew Slow: United Nude Edge ankle booties

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Yay for Team New Zealand

Being a parochial lot (think you have to be when there are only 4.5 million of you in a country) we are all hugely excited that Team New Zealand managed to bring the Auld Mug back to New Zealand. Once again the "America's Cup is New Zealand's Cup"  Peter Montgomery sailing commentator.

For the uninitiated the America's Cup is a sailing competition with a history that arouses strong feelings of rivalry and sometimes acrimonious relations between the teams.

So congratulations to Team New Zealand who demonstrated good old kiwi ingenuity, and  proved that having the biggest cheque book doesn't guarantee success.

Just in case you are wondering there is a sewing point to this post - albeit a bit of a retrospective.

Back in 2000 when Team New Zealand made its first successful defence of the title under the guidance of legendary yachtsman Sir Peter Blake I was lucky enough to attend one of the races in Auckland.  We even followed the race from a boat out on the Hauraki Gulf.  To commemorate the event I made myself a waistcoat.

Unfortunately it is such a long time ago and the memory is a bit worn out so I can't remember what pattern I used for the waistcoat.  It may actually be a waistcoat that was traced from a tutor's pattern at an embroidery workshop back in the late 1990's.

The front of the waistcoat features the two boats which competed for the America's Cup back in 2000: Team New Zealand's NZL 60 and the Prada Challenge's Luna Rossa.

Creates Sew Slow: Yay for Team New Zealand

Creates Sew Slow: Yay for Team New ZealandCreates Sew Slow: Yay for Team New Zealand

On the back is one (cut in half) of a pair of red socks sold as a fundraiser for Team New Zealand in 2000, alongside the America's Cup trophy.  Sir Peter Blake famously wore a pair of red socks given to him by his wife as his talisman for the 1995 America's Cup campaign.

Creates Sew Slow: Yay for Team New Zealand

Creates Sew Slow: Yay for Team New Zealand

I even embroidered a label to sign and date my creation. If you look carefully you can see my little red sock pin bought as a souvenir from Auckland.

Creates Sew Slow: Yay for Team New Zealand

I don't have any pictures of the actual racing as I was too frightened of dropping my camera in the water to take it. It was a truly magical event with huge numbers of boats out on the water watching the race and large crowds (by New Zealand standards) cheering them on from the shore. So even though the waistcoat is quite a bit larger than I am now I still keep it safe in my wardrobe as a memento of an amazing event.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Jenny Gillies Enchanted Garden Exhibition

For anyone in Christchurch, New Zealand there is a wonderful exhibition of Jenny Gillies floral art to wear at the Botanic Gardens Kiosk Gallery until the end of June 2017. So if you hurry you can still see it.

Jenny Gillies has bought floral creations to life with her 'Enchanted Garden' exhibition. The Seasonal collections of these acclaimed botanical “works of art” are inspired by the beautiful surroundings of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. A must see attraction, which has been featured both nationally and internationally in exhibitions and live performances promoting our beautiful Garden City. Beauty, humour and an abundance of colour are showcased in this enchanting exhibition which will “grow” and fascinate the senses seasonally.

I think even I could keep this vase of flowers alive.

Jenny Gillies Enchanted Garden Exhibition

Many hours could have been spent at the exhibition watching the video of Jenny's garments in stage performances. I miss seeing her performances at the Christchurch Cathedral as part of the Flower Festival. The garments were often worn by ballet dancers and they provided grace of movement that really suited the flowers.

The sunflower in the picture below was the first costume Jenny created and led to her over twenty year career in designing these floral garments.

Jenny Gillies Enchanted Garden Exhibition

It is a true visual feast with these garments featured in the exhibition.

Jenny Gillies Enchanted Garden Exhibition

The kiosk isn't very big but the round shape really suits how the garments are displayed. I took lots of photos here are three to give a feel for the exhibition.

Jenny Gillies Enchanted Garden Exhibition

Jenny Gillies Enchanted Garden Exhibition

Jenny Gillies Enchanted Garden Exhibition

Just love the Banana Passionfruit it really demonstrates Jenny's quirky risque sense of humour with the placement of the dangling bananas.

Jenny Gillies Enchanted Garden Exhibition

Saturday, 17 June 2017

TSW Odette Top Pattern Alterations

When I made The Sewing Workshop Odette top I made the size small straight out of the envelope with the only change being to the side seams which I stitched at 3/8 inch instead of 5/8. Whilst this top is wearable (and perfectly acceptable if it was RTW) there are a number of changes that I felt were necessary to the pattern to get a good fit for me.

I have seen other versions of this top on the internet with the same problems, particularly in the bust area, so I thought it would be useful to include pictures of the alterations to better explain the process. Having a wearable muslin makes it easier to identify the changes that need to be made.

This post has been updated to add pictures of the zebra top the second version of the TSW Odette, including the alterations. The fit is still not perfect but is improved, although looking at the pictures side by side the improvements aren't that visible.

My thoughts on the Odette Zebra top can be found here, and on the Tundra top (the original version) here.

The pattern line drawing

The Sewing Workshop Odette Top Line Drawing

The full bust adjustment


Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Tundra Top Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Tundra Top

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Zebra TopCreates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Zebra Top

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Zebra Top

I have enough circumference around the bust but have the horizontal drag lines indicating I need more depth for my full bust. In the pictures the lines are more pronounced on the princess seam side but in real life both sides are equally bad and need fixing.

For the left front princess seam I removed 1 inch at the raglan sleeve end tapering to nothing at the bust curve.  This was achieved by removing 1/2 inch on each pattern piece. The photograph below shows the alteration made to the princess seam. With my altered pattern piece on top of the original.

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Top Pattern Alterations

For the right front the bust dart needed to be made larger but the problem appeared as gapping at the arm hole.  I created a 1 inch dart on the right front into the raglan armhole then pivoted it into the side seam enlarging the existing dart, shown in the photographs below.  I marked the bust point on the pattern piece as I thought the dart was a bit low.  I found the bust point by measuring down 8 inches from the neck edge point on this pattern piece and in four inches from centre front.  Once I knew the bust point I raised the end of the dart up half an inch - could possibly have raised it 1 inch but felt a bit funny about all my alterations being 1 inch. Stupid I know but pattern alteration is not instinctive and for me there is always a degree of second guessing myself.

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Top Pattern Alterations

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Top Pattern Alterations

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Top Pattern Alterations

The raglan sleeve

At the front of the garment I seemed to have excess fabric in the raglan sleeve.  Normally when I do a full bust adjustment I redraw the shape of the armhole back to the original size and don't alter the sleeve pattern piece.  For the raglan sleeve I actually removed the same 1 inch as the front pattern pieces by creating a 1 inch dart in the front raglan sleeve tapering to nothing at the back. I then redrew the front seam line. This is the one aspect of the pattern alterations that I am unsure about - was the fabric really extra or have I just altered (ruined) the shape of the neckline?

For some reason I also forgot to alter the top when I originally made it for my forward shoulder so I moved the shoulder dart point towards the front 5/8 inch. This meant that I had to re-shape the dart edge so when the dart was closed the fabric is level. The top wasn't too uncomfortable to wear without the forward shoulder adjustment but I still noticed it.

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Top Pattern Alterations


Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Top Pattern Alterations

The sway back

Once again a normal alteration I completely failed to do. Even though the seam in the back is not at centre back I just removed 1 inch at the nearly centre back seam line tapering to nothing at the side seam.

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Tundra Top Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Zebra Top

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Top Pattern Alterations

The style changes

I don't like the fact that it is relatively straight across the back and would also like it to cover more of my bottom so I have changed the back pattern pieces to have more of a shirt tail. The changed pattern piece is at the top of the photograph with the original underneath for comparison.

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette top pattern alterations

Something else I'm thinking about is increasing the peplum circumference at the hem by slashing and spreading the pattern piece. I'll save that idea for another time.

So now I have altered the pattern I just need to make another one to see if the changes were completely successful in correcting the fit or if more are needed. As well as seeing if the shirt tail idea is as great as I think it will be.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

TSW Odette Tundra Top

I have been intending to sew The Sewing Workshop Odette top for some time, as I just love anything asymmetrical. The pattern has been lurking around the sewing room ever since it was purchased it just took a while  to reach the top of the making queue.

The finished garment

As I haven't found my size or standard alterations yet in TSW patterns I decided to make the top in fabric I wouldn't mind sacrificing to a wadder. The finished garment is good enough from a RTW perspective but when you sew for yourself you expect a higher standard so I consider this a wearable muslin.

Despite my general ambivalence about the colour/pattern and fit of this top it will be put into wardrobe circulation.  How often it is worn will determine its lifespan in the wardrobe versus the charity shop bag.

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Tundra Top

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Tundra Top

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Tundra Top


The fabric

Creates Sew Slow: AGF Village Tundra fabric

Another AGF cotton jersey this one from their first organic cotton collection Hello, Ollie by Bonnie Christine. It is called Village Tundra in colourway sprout, a 95% cotton 5% spandex knit. A nice weight at 260 gsm and lovely and soft. It came from Stonemountain and Daughter earlier this year.

When I purchased the fabric I really loved it and could see it clearly fitting into my wardrobe. But that strange phenomena happened during its journey across the Pacific ocean, so that by the time it reached New Zealand it was less ideal, the pattern less attractive, even though it will absolutely fit into my wardrobe aesthetic. Why does the excitement of fabric buying sometimes overcome discernment?

The pattern

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette & Ivy topsCreates Sew Slow: TSW Odette line drawing

This is The Sewing Workshop Odette and Ivy top pattern. I used Odette in a size small.  Odette is described as a pieced top with right front dart and left princess seam, side front and back panels, tapered peplum. Long sleeves have shoulder darts. Neck binding and stitched hems.

The pattern alterations

None - well I cut a size small and used 3/8 inch side seams rather than the required 5/8 inch giving me an extra 1 inch through the body. I also didn't use the neck binding.

To choose my size I looked at the finished garment measurements and considered how much ease I wanted.  I thought the size small might be just a titch too clingy and am happy with my choice to include that extra inch.

So what alterations should I have done? Quite a few.  I have noticed other versions on the web have some of the same challenges. Maybe I will do another post detailing the changes I should have made to this pattern as it would probably be helpful for my aging memory to make the pattern changes whilst they are still fresh in my mind.

The sewing

The top was sewn together on the overlocker as normal apart from the hems and neckline which were sewn on the Featherweight with a straight stitch. I was careful to only sew the side seams with a 3/8 inch seam allowance but all other seams were sewn at 5/8 inch. I mitred the corner then hemmed the peplum piece on the two sides before I attached it to the body of the garment as per the instructions which made it easier to handle.

Being a bit OCD I love getting the perfect mitred corner. The instructions had you trim the seam allowances but I think that gives you a lumpy mitred corner.  Instead I fold the seam allowance open which makes the little square you see in the picture below to give a really flat sharp mitred point a la Louise Cutting.

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette mitred cornerCreates Sew Slow: TSW Odette mitred corner

The styling

No real styling. Here it is after a day at work and the flight home with my red Andrea Moore cropped zip leg pants and United Nude Step Mobius ankle booties

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Tundra Top

Creates Sew Slow: UN Step Mobius Ankle Boots