Sunday, 25 February 2018

Outfit of the Day Megan Nielsen Flint Trousers

In New Zealand we have a holiday to celebrate Waitangi Day on 6 February so we took an extra long weekend over to Westport on the West Coast of the South Island.

On 1 February Westport was hit by ex-cyclone Fehi which coincided with a king tide.  The warmer than normal weather raised sea level by about a metre. It affected much of the west coast washing away parts of the main highway that runs along the coast. In Westport itself 32 homes were assessed as uninhabitable (or red stickered) another 21 homes were yellow stickered (they are damaged but habitable).  For a population of 3,900 this is a lot of damage. As if that wasn't enough they were battered again this week by ex-cyclone Gita with winds up to 118km/hour which removed house roofs.

Over the last couple of years Westport has suffered a number of set-backs with the down-sizing of many of the coal mines and the closure of the Holcim cement plant in 2016. They do farm a lot of dairy cows which provides some economic support to the region, as well as tourism.

We love Westport and visit their regularly. It is surrounded by native rainforest and the Southern alps.  Sometimes we make a day trip from Christchurch (four-hour drive each way) to have dinner at The Bay House in Tauranga Bay at the other end of the beach from the Cape Foulwind seal colony.

The outfit

Here I am posing by the railway in Westport in a mixture of me-made and RTW.  The Megan Nielsen Flint trousers in a Liberty print with an Untouched World merino knit singlet and Lofty merino cardigan both in colourway scuba. Worn with my Eos Metro white shoes, which are more than 10-years old and newly discovered from the back reaches of the wardrobe.

The railway is unused but was a good venue for pictures, especially given the theme of my shoes.

Creates Sew Slow: Outfit of the Day Megan Nielsen Flint Trousers

Creates Sew Slow: Outfit of the Day Megan Nielsen Flint Trousers
Cement carrying carriages from a bygone era

Creates Sew Slow: Outfit of the Day Megan Nielsen Flint Trousers
Eos Metro shoes

Westport and the West Coast

I felt a bit ghoulish taking photos of the storm damage, knowing how I felt about the "disaster tourists" who came to Christchurch to experience the earthquake, so these pictures focus on the wild beauty of the West Coast.

Creates Sew Slow: Westport

Creates Sew Slow: Westport
Unit 13 at our motel

Creates Sew Slow: Tauranga Bay
Tauranga Bay from the Seal Colony

Creates Sew Slow: Tauranga Bay
Sculpture of Tauranga Bay's main attraction

Creates Sew Slow: Tauranga Bay
Bay House Cafe, Tauranga Bay

Creates Sew Slow: Carter's Beach
Evidence of the storm at Carter's Beach

Creates Sew Slow: Granity
Granity Community Library

Creates Sew Slow: Waimangaroa
Woodcarver's studio at Waimangaroa

Creates Sew Slow: Waimangaroa
And the carvings

Creates Sew Slow: Waimangaroa
And more carvings
Denniston plateau was home to one of the richest, high quality coal seams in New Zealand. From October 1879 to August 1967 it was the country's largest producing coal mine, with an estimated 13 million tonnes carried down the incline during its life. Denniston existed purely for the mine with a less than hospitable climate. Today only two of the houses have permanent residents from a population of 1,500 when it was a mining town.  A little ditty by anonymous:

Damn Denniston
Damn the track
Damn the way both there and back
Damn the wind and damn the weather
God damn Denniston altogether

The Dennsiton Incline was an amazing feat of engineering taking the coal 1.7 kilometers over a 510 metre drop, with some grades as steep as 80%. The coal wagons (Q wagons) started their journey downhill at the Breakhead.

Creates Sew Slow: Denniston
Denniston tracks with the breakhead top centre

Creates Sew Slow: Denniston
Site of the engine boiler house

Creates Sew Slow: Denniston
View from Deniston Plateau, of the coastal plains of the Karamea Bight

Creates Sew Slow: Punakaiki
Walk through the bush to the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki

Creates Sew Slow: Westport
Coastal view on the drive to Greymouth

Creates Sew Slow: Greymouth
Greymouth harbour wall

Creates Sew Slow: Westport
A typical West Coast sunset

On the way home via Arthur's Pass is the Otira Viaduct, officially opened in 1999.  It was built because of the major rockfall hazard from both above and below the existing road (the zigzag) which threatened to destroy it, or damage it to a point where it was unrepairable.

The Otira Viaduct is deceptively steep with a 12% incline over its 440m span.

Creates Sew Slow: Otira Viaduct
Rock protection shelter and water bridge over the Reid Falls

Creates Sew Slow: Otira Viaduct
Otira Viaduct

Creates Sew Slow: Otira Viaduct
A bit of the old zigzag road, which now takes you to the Death's Corner lookout

The Kea is a common sight at the look-out points by the Viaduct, although their conservation status is nationally endangered.  They are very curious birds, attracted to people and fond of shiny objects. They can do great damage to cars left unattended in their habitat including removing the rubber around the windscreen.
Creates Sew Slow: Otira Viaduct
Kea, the New Zealand alpine parrot

The making

This is the muslin for my travel wardrobe Megan Nielsen Flint trousers.  I couldn't use the fabric picked out for the travel wardrobe in case they were a disaster so I chose another Liberty cotton corduroy for my first version.  Whilst I will tweak the pattern next time I make them these are very wearable and have been worn a lot this summer.

Creates Sew Slow: Outfit of the Day Megan Nielsen Flint Trousers
Liberty of London cotton corduroy
Creates Sew Slow: Outfit of the Day Megan Nielsen Flint TrousersCreates Sew Slow: Outfit of the Day Megan Nielsen Flint Trousers

I cut the medium size based on the finished garment measurements. My waist is bigger than the medium so I cut the large waistband and made smaller front darts (instead of a pleat).  I should have just stuck to the medium throughout as they are a bit baggy at the waist.  The pattern also uses a straight waistband and I will change to a curved one next time I sew these.  I am wondering about raising the top of the pants 1/2" and doing a facing instead of a waistband as I prefer a facing and the trousers are pretty high-waisted as is.  The back crotch length is also too long and I will remove at least 1.25" when I make them again.  Having worn skinny pants for many years now I was worried these would be too wide so I reduced the width by making the legs straight no extra flair down from the hip.

Some of the reviews complain about the opening pocket not being useful for anything so I continued sewing round the pocket bag about an 1" more than the pattern recommends.  There is still more than enough room to get the trousers on and off. As I only keep a handkerchief in my pockets the size is fine for me.

A small brain fade moment found me trying to make a buttonhole using the straight stitch plate on my sewing machine.  My Bernina 830 has a safety feature that stops you doing zigzag stitches (and breaking the needle) when you are using the straight stitch plate but it took me a while to realise why it wouldn't sew a buttonhole.

Creates Sew Slow: Outfit of the Day Megan Nielsen Flint Trousers

The only other thing I did slightly differently was I bound the inside edge of the waistband to make the inside pretty.  I am really pleased with myself because I trimmed 3/8" from the inner edge of the waistband and bound the edge with 1/4" of bias tape showing.  This meant when I stitched in the ditch of the seam on the right side it came to the edge of the binding on the wrong side.

Outfit two

You have already seen this outfit last week but I do love it and thought it was worth repeating! Megan Nielsen Flint trousers with Untouched World merino knit singlet and my United Nude Issey Miyake Rock sandals.

Creates Sew Slow: Outfit of the Day Megan Nielsen Flint Trousers

Outfit three

Still on the railway theme, standing by coal carriages at Granity, with my Metro shoes here is a different outfit. This dress is an adaptation of my Home Sewn World Cut, Make and Trim tee. The tee was extended to dress length using Silhouette Patterns #2010 three piece Yoga skirt. It is worn with my Untouched World Lofty merino cardigan, both of which are part of my 2018 travel wardrobe.

Creates Sew Slow: Outfit of the Day Megan Nielsen Flint trousers

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Match Your Shoes - United Nude Issey Miyake Rock

Being a matchy matchy girl having shoes that go with my outfit is essential. I did go through a phase of just trying to have black shoes and wearing them regardless of my outfit colour, which didn't last long due to my inner shoe fanatic and love of colour. When I discovered United Nude the shoe wardrobe increased significantly.

I intended to enter the Pattern Review 2018 Match Your Shoes Contest. That didn't quite work out due to a small technical difficulty with the dress and only having the photographer available at weekends. Or rather me only being available to the photographer at weekends. Having started down the road of thinking about matching shoes and outfit a blog post seemed the natural conclusion.

The shoes

United Nude Issey Miyake Rock Sandal in colour lime. I had ogled these for many months before finally making the online purchase and they are fabulous. Different to look at but so well balanced and comfortable to wear. Being a platform you get the added height without tottering around on 4" heels (although I do that too).  The shoes give me 3.5" of added height with a less than 2" incline front to back - easy peasy to walk in. Added bonus is that the straps across and around your foot are fastened with velcro so you can alter them to be comfortable for you (and secure so you don't fall off your high heels). I am extra careful walking down the aircraft steps in these as they look like the sort of shoes you break your neck in!

Creates Sew Slow: Match Your Shoes - United Nude Issey Miyake Rock

Outfit one - Silhouette Patterns #4000 Swing Dress

Creates Sew Slow: Match Your Shoes - United Nude Issey Miyake Rock

Creates Sew Slow: Match Your Shoes - United Nude Issey Miyake RockCreates Sew Slow: Match Your Shoes - United Nude Issey Miyake Rock

So when I thought about making an outfit to go with my Rock sandals this AGF knit (Bloom Montage Light designed by Sew Caroline) was an immediate contender, using Silhouette Patterns #4000 Swing Dress.

First hurdle was I thought I bought 2 yards of this fabric to make a dress, yet when I came to lay out the pattern I discovered I only had 47". This is less than the 1.5 yards I usually buy for a top. Luckily the fabric was long enough for the dress but not wide enough and there was nothing left for the sleeves. So I altered the width of the skirt to maximise the available fabric and thought I would change from set in sleeves to a cut on cap sleeve.

Any sensible person would have stopped there and used a different pattern.  The TNT Home Sewing World Cut, Make and Trim tee extended to dress length would have been ideal. But no as is typical for a Yorkshireman I stubbornly pursued my original plan with the Swing Dress and drafted some cap sleeves.  I didn't even have the nous to use the aforementioned TNT tee pattern for the cut on sleeve. When I came to sew the side seams it was obvious that sewing the hem on the cap sleeve would be impossible. So I chopped the extra off and found another fabric to use for the set-in sleeves. This simple knit dress took me all day Sunday to sew due to the faffing around, with no time left for photographs.

But it does look good with my sandals.

Outfit two - Megan Nielsen Flint trousers with Untouched World merino knit singlet

Creates Sew Slow: Match Your Shoes - United Nude Issey Miyake Rock

The Flint trousers have been great in this year's hot summer weather and the colours in the print make them very versatile - a great addition to my wardrobe.

The Untouched World merino singlet has had a rather unfortunate life. The first time I wore it I dripped a single drop of coffee on it and permanently dyed it.  I tried numerous stain removal remedies to no avail. The first time it was washed it also acquired a slight black tinge (it was washed on a 30℃ wash but with a pair of black trousers).  Luckily I prefer the colour it is now to the bright citrus colour it was. To hide my coffee drip I added a few felt flowers.  I am not entirely happy with the placement of the flowers but as each flower is only attached with three colonial knots they are easily removed and positioned differently.

Outfit three - Home Sewing World Cut, Make and Trim t-dress

Creates Sew Slow: Match Your Shoes - United Nude Issey Miyake Rock

This fabric is interesting - in real life there are lots of different colours in the zigzag stripes one of which is greeny yellow, yet the photograph really emphasises the mint/turquoise colour. This dress has been worn to work with the little jacket and Rock sandals.

The photography venue

I thought it would be fun to take the photos in our paddock using the grape vine as a backdrop.  There are still some grapes that the birds haven't eaten but even close up you can't see them for all of the foliage.

Creates Sew Slow: Match Your Shoes - United Nude Issey Miyake Rock

Creates Sew Slow: Match Your Shoes - United Nude Issey Miyake Rock

And here is the photographer having fun on his own whilst waiting for me to change outfit.

Creates Sew Slow: Match Your Shoes - United Nude Issey Miyake Rock

Saturday, 10 February 2018

The 2018 Travel Wardrobe - a tale of packing and wardrobe planning

In the past I have been a hopeless packer. For my first trip to New Zealand back in 1993 my other half had hopes of getting me into tramping so I had a rucksack which I carefully over-packed.  My other half then came along and emptied it out and cross examined me on the whys and wherefores of each item - some I was allowed to keep and others not.  Even with this judicious examination of my rucksack packing I could hardly stand up with it on my back, and as soon as I stood up anywhere near straight I toppled over!

As an aside his hopes of tramping were further dashed when we had a day walk up Mount Arthur along the Flora and Arthur hut tracks. This is a very easy walk except I had trouble standing up, especially walking down hill, even wearing a good pair of walking boots. Plus I was carrying nothing more than a handkerchief, he carried the day pack. I do walk a lot but I don't tramp.

From this history of abysmal packer I have become hugely more organised. The turning point was in 2001 with an emergency trip back to the UK, where basically I went to work in the morning received a phone call, rushed around to hand over my job, dashed home to pack and flew to the UK that evening. My packing was not exactly focused but I survived a month in the UK with a suitcase that weighed so little I nearly fell over when I yanked it off the luggage carousel.  This taught me the valuable lesson that the kitchen sink is not necessary when you pack for a trip away. But I do like choices and variety.

Having commuted by air to my job(s) for the last ten years it has really honed my packing skills. I typically pack for four days away - two bottoms and four tops with one pair of shoes, a top layer (cardigan or jacket) and a coat. Sometimes I will substitute a top and bottom for a dress.

Enter the concept of wardrobe planning. I just love wardrobe planning - choosing fabrics and clothes that go together.  The Vivienne Files is a blog I enjoy immensely. I have used the 4x4 wardrobe template from the Vivienne Files to plan a 2018 travel wardrobe and you will see the resulting garments over the coming weeks.

Here is a sneak peak of two of the outfits from a recent weekend away.

Creates Sew Slow: The 2018 Travel Wardrobe
Megan Nielsen Flint trousers and UW Lofty merino cardi & merino singlet

Creates Sew Slow: The 2018 Travel Wardrobe
UW Lofty merino cardi & Tact Summer knit tee with AM True Love trousers

Here is the 4x4 wardrobe (the first four rows) and a little bit extra. Having chosen my neutral - a lovely mint colour which Untouched World call "scuba", I went through my fabric stash and it is amazing how many pieces of fabric I found to go with my neutral. Hence the two extra rows to give a 6x4 wardrobe! The Home Sewing World t-dress is in the wardrobe and worn a few times already.

Creates Sew Slow: The 2018 Travel Wardrobe Ideas 1
2018 4x4 (+ extras) travel wardobe...

Creates Sew Slow: The 2018 Travel Wardrobe Ideas 1
...and what the garments are (or will be!)

Actually two extra rows are not enough I had another eight fabrics pulled out as possibles so have included them below.  Two of these garments have already been made - Megan Nielsen Flint trousers and Oki Style Madrid top.

Creates Sew Slow: The 2018 Travel Wardrobe Ideas 2
When you have too much fabric the choices never end

Not shown here because I don't have a pattern sorted or the fabric is the idea I have to make a coat that will look good and have a hood to protect me from the rain. A rain coat is nearly always needed just in case for the places we go and it would be good to be a bit stylish and not limited to the Goretex.

Developing a wardrobe of possibilities to choose from for my 2018 travels led me to the Pattern Review Wardrobe contest and then I was sucked into the thought of the Match your Shoes contest.  Both of which I may enter time permitting.

For the shoe contest I have two ideas.  Idea 2 is made and I could make idea 1 this weekend so both could be within the deadline.

Creates Sew Slow - PR Match Your Shoes Contest Ideas

Then for the Pattern Review 6x6 (six garments in six weeks) Wardrobe contest this is a possible combination:

Creates Sew Slow: PR 6x6 Wardrobe Contest Idea

Some of the 6x6 garments are part of my 2018 travel wardrobe but I had to make changes as my jacket for the travel wardrobe will be too complicated to do in the six week deadline.  So far one garment has been made.

Lets see how much of this comes to fruition, as I may have bitten off just a tiny bit more than I can chew.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Style Arc Rosie Elevenses Top

This top was sewn a wee while ago and posted to England in plenty of time for Christmas.  Now Christmas is well and truly past I can share the top.

I know, it wasn't very sensible to make a short sleeved top in Liberty Tana Lawn for an English winter. In my defence when I first saw the fabric I thought "Cath" so I ignored the seasonal incongruity and forged ahead.

The finished garment

Dorothy had to be pressed into service as the stand in for Cath.  I really hope it fits better in real life than in does on Dorothy.

I was trying to be artistic taking the photo amongst the rhododendrons completely ignoring the shadows cast by the flowers. Luckily the pink one flowers a bit later than the white one so provided a better backdrop.

Creates Sew Slow: Style Arc Rosie Elevenses Top

Creates Sew Slow: Style Arc Rosie Elevenses TopCreates Sew Slow: Style Arc Rosie Elevenses Top

The fabric

Another great Liberty Tana Lawn from The Fabric Store. The design is Elevenses in colourway dusky blue.  The Japanese feel, cups of tea and in this colourway seemed just perfect for Cath.

Creates Sew Slow: Liberty Tana Lawn Elevenses in dusky blue

The sewing pattern

The Rosie top is described as a great top for all occasions.  The slight cap sleeve is very flattering and the back inverted pleat gives this top a point of difference.

Creates Sew Slow: StyleArc Rosie Top

If you are looking for a sewing pattern that doesn't take much fabric I can recommend this one.  For the size 10 (as is without alteration) it uses less than 1 metre of fabric.

I am glad I bought this as a PDF, even though I hate taping them together, because I can use the size 10 for Cath and the size 12 for me.

The pattern alterations

I made the size 10 without any alterations. I did omit the button closure in the back and cut the back piece on the fold.   The neck opening was big enough to get the top over your head without needing the button.

If I made this top for myself it would need: a full bust adjustment; lengthening in the body; and a forward shoulder adjustment.

The sewing

As this was a gift I was extra careful with the sewing.  French seams were used throughout but still only with a 3/8' seam allowance.  This gave me 1/8" for the wrong sides together seam and 1/4" for the final right sides together seam.  This gives a much nicer finish in my opinion than having a 5/8" seam allowance for such a fine fabric.  For a thicker fabric I do use a 5/8" seam allowance for a French seam - 1/4" for wrong sides together and then trimmed down, 1/4" for right sides together and 1/8" to allow for turn of cloth.

The inside of a garment always looks as good as the outside with French seams.

Creates Sew Slow: Style Arc Rosie Elevenses Top

For the armholes / side seam StyleArc have you sew a narrow hem around the armholes then sew the side seam. Apart from the worry that your side seams won't match up under the arms this is a really neat (tidy) idea. Luckily my side seams did match up.

Creates Sew Slow: Style Arc Rosie Elevenses Top

There were some strange folds as you can see in the picture above around the armhole / princess seam. Also I got a strange puffy bump along the shoulder seam which can clearly be seen in the picture below but it didn't appear an odd shape when flat.

I worked on the premise that these are just because Dorothy is the wrong size and they won't appear when Cath is wearing the top.

Creates Sew Slow: Style Arc Rosie Elevenses Top

I stay-stitched 1/4" away from the neck edge then used this as a guide for a double fold to get a really narrow hem. Once the neck edge was sewn I removed the stay-stitching. For the sleeve and garment hems I used the same method but with the stay stitching 3/8" away from the edge. I just love using 3/8" because it is the width of a standard modern presser foot from the needle, so you can just whizz round keeping the edge of the fabric at the edge of the foot. I say modern presser foot because my Singer Featherweight is only 1/8" from the needle to the edge of the foot.

So there it is another successful StyleArc pattern that one day I may sew for myself.