Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Because you're never too old to wear monkey pajamas

My latest creation:


I used Kwik Sew 2811  for these pajamas. I can't believe it's been over 11 1/2 years since I first used that pattern to make these upside down print flannel pajamas. I did learn from that silly mistake and now double and triple check when I'm cutting out a print. I still have those pajamas and as you'd expect they are well worn, although I didn't wear them much in the warmer California winters. For this project I also used flannel, but even though it's colder here in Germany, menopause keeps me warm. ;-)

Perhaps you notice my meticulous matching across the front of the top (don't look at the shorts). I only did that because it occurred to me that I've never tried to match the print on a button-front blouse before, so this seemed like a good time to practice. First off, depending on the scale of the print and the repeat, you may need extra fabric, which I did not have but I got lucky. You need to cut each front piece separately, but you also have to position the pattern pieces strategically. Figure out where the front pieces will meet, taking into account seam allowances and facings and make marks on your pattern piece so you can line it up correctly for the second side.

I didn't have enough fabric to make the print on the shorts line up with the top or even have good pattern placement. At the time I cut them out I was worried that the shorts would be too short so I added 3 inches to the length. It turned out that was 2 inches too many, so I ultimately trimmed them down to only 1 inch of extra length. Maybe I would have had more wiggle room for pattern placement had I not added so much extra length, but these are just pajamas after all.

Here's my review of the pattern:

Pattern Description: From the pattern envelope: Misses' pajamas. Shirt has front button closure, collar, pocket and pocket band and sleeve cuffs. Pull-on pants and shorts have elastic in casing on back and ties on front. Long or short sleeve options and long or short pant options.

Pattern Sizing: XS-XL. I made a size M in the top and L in the shorts. My measurements put me between M-L on top and L-XL on bottom but this pattern has quite a bit of ease. These pajamas fit me very comfortably with quite adequate ease for sleeping.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes!

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, they were easy and I did follow them. The only area that was tricky was sewing on the collar. The instructions want you to sew the facing part of the collar along with one side of the separate collar piece in one pass, being careful not to catch the other side of the separate collar piece, which is to be used to cover up the collar seam allowance raw edges. I thought sewing all this in one pass was awkward, so I first sewed the separate collar piece and then went back and sewed each facing side. Much easier.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the style and the comfort of these pajamas. Kwik Sew has a newer version: 3553. Besides the lack of contrasting sleeve bands and no shorts option, I don't know how it differs.

Fabric Used: Flannel

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I didn't make any changes except to cut out the drawstring from the contrasting fabric to make it more fun.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I already plan to adapt the shirt into a longer sleep shirt with no pants.

Conclusion: A good, timeless pattern.

Monday, September 08, 2014

New Look...in German

I just finished this summer top, but I probably won't get a chance to wear it until next summer. It wouldn’t have mattered if I’d finished it a month ago because this summer has been quite unseasonably cool.

The fabric is cotton voile, purchased a year ago as a remnant from the Kartstadt department store fabric section. The pattern is from the Simplicity Meine N√§hmode magazine, issue 3/2014, but it’s actually the New Look 6213 pattern.

When I get the magazine, I match the pictures to the Simplicity or New Look pattern. There are about 12-13 different patterns in each magazine.
The magazine is published in Germany by OZ-Verlags-GmbH four times a year. 

I "just" have to trace them off!
Sometimes not all views or sizes of the patterns are offered, and the patterns are not the latest ones (and sometimes OOP), but it's a great way for me to get Simplicity and New Look without having to order them online and pay full price. The difficulty of course is that I must trace the pattern, and the instructions are in German. Oh, and these are not your typical European magazine instructions - they are not brief! Also, since my knowledge of German is still fairly basic, especially for sewing terms, I had to translate nearly every word because with so much text, I could not really tell what was important or not.

The first big question I had was: are the seam allowances included or not? It turns out they are, which is not like most European magazine patterns. However, it makes sense that the seam allowances are included here - why would they go to the trouble of redrawing the pattern pieces to remove them? Buried in a page of (a lot of) information about pattern markings and tips on sewing, it says that seam allowances are 1.5 cm (5/8") unless otherwise marked - although the patterns reproduced for the magazine contain very little in the way of markings. Also, not all the pattern pieces are included. If the piece is rectangular or square, they provide you with the dimensions, just like with Burda patterns I've used. That's not a problem, except that some of the pictures and instructions refer to notches and markings on those rectangular pieces and of course you have none.

For the most part this is a simple, straightforward top to sew, but I got bogged down by the instructions for the front band and ties. I couldn't tell how the band and ties were sewn on from the itty-bitty illustrations so I had to do a lot of unnecessary translation of instructions I didn't need. I didn't have extra fabric to cut new pieces so I wanted to be careful not to make mistakes that could not be fixed with a seam ripper.

One snag I had was with a word that I thought at first was just the last word in a sentence but turned out to be an abbreviation. To translate the German, I was using an app on my phone. I was perplexed when vord translated as 19A (what???) until I realized that vord is an abbreviation for vorderseite, meaning front side. It also took a bit of searching on the internet to find the sewing meaning of the word Blende. The word is not in my Ger-Eng dictionary, and the translator tool kept calling it aperture. It turns out it refers to the band that attaches at the neck - there's one with a loop (mit Schlaufe) and one with a tie (mit Schal).

Seeing that I was frustrated with these instructions, my husband suggested a brilliant, simple solution. Make a sample. I did, and once I understood the neckline, construction of the top went smoothly from there...until I melted the thread.

I had finished the raw seam edges with a three-thread overlock to keep them from raveling, but when I went to press the seams one more time, I was horrified to see the serger thread glob together and melt. I've never had this happen before. This is polyester serger thread I purchased here in Germany, a brand I've never used before,  so maybe the thread I've been using in the past was more tolerant to heat, or maybe because I mostly use the serger on knits and don't press them (with a hot iron), I haven't encountered this before. At any rate, I didn't want to run the risk of melting the thread in the future, so I pulled out all the serger thread. Frankly I didn't like the way it looked anyway. I used a beige thread and although the color was invisible through the thin fabric, the texture from the overlock loops was noticeable. My choices of finishing the seams were now: pinking shears, Hong Kong finish and French seams. I don't have any pinking shears here and didn't want to run out and buy any, so that option was out - and besides, I think a pinked edge screams "homemade". I had just enough fabric left for a Hong Kong finish (applying binding to the raw edge) so I tried it on one seam to see how it looked, but I didn't like the added bulk. So that left French seams. Out came the seam ripper again, and I dismantled the top and re-sewed it. I'm very happy with the result. Lesson learned - use French seams on thin, raveling fabric...the first time.

So it's done. I just need some hot weather to wear it.