Monday, 3 November 2014

StyleArc Harper Jacket and a wadder

First I would like to thank all for your lovely comments on my SWAP plan. Of course I wish I had the shape of the images - they all look fab on the plan (I did widen them a little) but my sewing skills in additon to my round bod will make them look somewhat different ;-0

Below is the StyleArc Harper Jacket. It has been wrapped around Babs keeping her warm waiting on a photo opportunity.. This was made in a lovely navy stretch crepe from EmmaOneSock. I have ordered more and will eventually make a skirt and a pair of Linda pants for the Artisan Square SWAP.

Now it will be worn as per in the SWAP plan - not with the outfit shown here. Also it was very very windy and it was difficult to keep the lapels from flying everywhere and I was trying to keep my hair out of my eyes.

Orignially I wanted to use this jacket as one of the 5 tops needed for the SWAP rules as it is designed to be worn either open as above or closed with the supplied hook and eyes.

Now I don't normally wear it closed as I don't like high necklines so I closed it up and took a picture of it closed and - well let us just say that I have changed my mind about using it as a top... Not going to happen.

In the interest of showing the not so good.... here it is.

Still trying to keep the hair from flying in the eyes!

Nuh - definitely not!!! Now don't blame Harper. You can see the gorgeous Anne from Clothing Engineer wears it well.

I also have a lovely SA Abby cardi I did on the weekend away last May and now finished but it needs a plain top - which is a hole in the wardrobe..

Now onto the wadder.

I wanted to participate in the trend of patterned pants and looked at the StyleArc Lola pants.... but common sense (and Trinny and Suzanna) say that if you are large in the top half you need to balance that out in the lower half so I didn't think tapered pants were the answer. I also fell in lurve with these pants in RTW

Hence I went with Linda pants and just added more fabric to accommodate the lack of stretch. I ended up wishing I had added more ease. (More about that later)

The fabric was from an el-cheapo fabric store in Marrickville. It looks and feels like a Rayon challis but for the price I don't think so. Probably a poly cotton. Forgot to look. Excuse the fuzzy picture but for some reason my camera has decided not to flash any more which makes indoor pictures fuzzy. Need to update.

Oops - note to self - don't take morning pics still in nightie when there is a mirror behind photographed item.
Any hoo - el-cheapo thin fabric plus lack of ease - hmmmm bent over to put on shoes and heard that unmistakable sound ------------ rippppppppppp. Not worth trying to save. Fabric is too thin.

On the chopping board - oops - cutting table.

I have cut a trial in taupe jersey for the StyleArc Fiona cardi. It is a fabric hog with that band. If it goes well I will do it in an orange for my SWAP.

That's it for now. Wow - 2 posts in 2 days.... 

Sunday, 2 November 2014

It is that time of the year again..... SWAP

First let me say sewing has happened here at Chez BeaJay but haven't had the opportunity to take pics. I am doing small amounts of sewing at a time and managed to finish a few things. Will post as soon as I can.

Over at Artisans Square it is the annual SWAP - sewing with a plan. I have entered for 2 years now.

I was eagerly awaiting the posting of the rules this year and now they are up *sigh* - not what I was hoping for.

***** Edited to add - after some suggestions over at Artisan's Square - especially a brilliant easy one from Ruthie - I am IN *********

The first year I didn't get much done. Finished a few items, but didn't get near 11 items done. But I did learn that the items I chose, I did so just to fit my idea of what the "wardrobe" should be. I looked in my stash and chose fabrics that would go together and items that met the rules. One of the reasons I didn't finish is that I was "stuck" with my plan. My base colour was teal and when I had a couple of wadders I couldn't fit anything else in.

Last year the rules were more flexible and although I didn't finish it was more because I ran out of energy and time.. but I made quite a bit of way through it and came up with clothes that I wear on a regular basis and have built on.

I liked the flexible rules but they have gone back to basics and on top of that added a "twist" and while this may suit a lot of people - not so much me.

I have been thinking about SWAP since I saw the fantastic plan from Sharon at Petite and Sewing. It has lots of neutrals in so I have learnt from that and decided to give myself a palette that I can work colour into instead of basing it on colour.

This year I have planned out 2 SWAPs - don't know which one I will go with - but I am going to go ahead with one on my own. Whether or not I make changes to fit into the Artisan Square SWAP or not - I haven't decided.

I am very pleased with both choices and that is the main thing - that what I sew works for me - not for a contest.

Both have very basic neutrals to build on. The first one navy and oat and the second one oat, butter and brown. They have some cross over items. There are also lots of choices I can have if things don't work out. I am learning.

Option 1 has 12 items. If I go out on my own I don't need to change this but if I do change for Artisan's Square then I will take out an item.

Option 1

Most of the navy is Hi-tech matte hybrid stretch crepe from EmmaOneSock with the exception of the top which will be linen. The oat is a lightweight tropical wool and the hounds-tooth is a raw silk. At the end is a lovely brushed cotton / lycra from EmmaOneSock. The other fabrics are ity jersey, viscose knit and a rayon spandex.

Option 2

This one has the same oat tropical wool, a linen dress, a chocolate tropical wool dress, a raw silk dress, a divine chocolate and butter silk caftan, a blouse in a lovely silk from Remnants Warehouse and a shell top in a gorgeous georgette from Gorgeous Fabrics and a jersey cardi.

This is how both will work as wardrobes.

Gee- neutrals are starting to rock my world.

And now I just need to be all grown up and pick a plan and stick to the neutrals.

What about you? Are you going with a plan - be it the Artisan's Square SWAP or one of your own.

The good thing about going out on my own is that I can start and end it when ever I like.

***** Edited to add - after some suggestions over at Artisan's Square - especially a brilliant easy one from Ruthie - I am IN *********

Monday, 29 September 2014

MIA and now hopping around the blogging world

MIA - Missing in Action - otherwise known as Miserably Inconvenient Arthritis and Meniscus Injured (and needs) Arthrosopy.

I have spent the Sydney winter hibernating and doing not much of anything let alone sewing. I don't know if this winter was particularly harsh (I know I know - compared to the rest of the planet Sydney has a very mild winter)... or if I am just getting older and more rusty but the cold really hit me hard this year. Sydney just doesn't cater for winter and I only have a small bar heater to warm me up.

Along with the usual suspects of hip, foot, shoulder and elbow, I have developed a searing pain in the right knee. So much so that even driving is difficult - let alone walking or pressing the foot on the sewing machine accelerator. An x-ray showed the usual arthritis in addition to my tibia and femur being out of alignment, shards of bone floating around and my kneecap not where it should be. An MRI then showed a severe tear in the meniscus - so - pain..

I am happily now on the hospital waiting list for a knee operation and carefully taking anti-inflammatory medication. Won't be a full knee reconstruction as I am still young - according to my surgeon - isn't he nice... but he will go in and fix up my issues. Just have to wait my turn.

So I haven't been sewing - cutting - or anywhere near the sewing room since July... Wow. No sewing meant no blogging.

I have tried to keep up with all of my blog reading and what you all have been up to and I have been reading about the around the world blog hopping and learning more about the bloggers I read. The lovely Michelle from Happily Caffienated  was a recent blog hopper (go on over and learn all about her) and she has very kindly nominated me to go on the next leg of the hop.. I thought it would be a good way to ease myself back into the blogging world.

The idea of the blog hop is to learn a little more about the bloggers you read - so there are questions to answer:

1. What am I working on?

So many different things my head is spinning.

Spring has hit me with a bang (hopefully not causing more injuries!!) and I am starting to really want to sew again - knee pain or no knee pain. I have also been trying not to purchase lovely fabrics. I did clean out my sewing space yesterday in preparation for a long sewing binge now that the weather is warming up.  

The last thing I was working on before my hibernation was a jacket that a friend is helping me with and a skirt block that I started in a class with the ASG. It will be great to get going on the jacket again. I am also hoping to pull out the skirt block and see what I can do with that. May end up with a business suit.

I also want to make another pair of StyleArc pants - this time the Linda pants in a lovely Crepe from Emma One Sock.

I also want to make the StyleArc Fiona Top. I actually purchased orange jersey so fingers crossed.

Another pattern on my list is the below Lekala top. I want to give another go to Lekala patterns - the first one is still waiting to be sewn up. I am hoping this one will suit me and the gathers won't add too much bulk but hide some bulges.! What do you think - flattering for a plus size or OMG what was she thinking??

After I play with these to get me into the flow of sewing again I really want to build a neutral wardrobe. I have been awed by Sharon at Petite and Sewing's wonderful wardrobe creation. She managed an amazing 377 outfits out of 24 pieces of clothing. My problems is that I have way too much colour and patterned items and not many neutrals. I need much more neutrals. 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don't think it really differs apart from size, skill level and what we want to sew. Certainly there are many other sewists out there in the blogisphere who are creating things similar to mine. There are also ones who are creating much more complex items and ones who are at the very beginning of this ride. I don't see my sewing as any different, I just see us creating what we want and / or need.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

Why do I write? Stared out purely as a journal, a way of keeping track of what I have done. Now it is a way of connecting. I have always been a writer and have written 2 unpublished books and many many many learning resources, manuals, assessor guides etc. I have also just started writing and designing e-learning.

Why do I create what I do? The need to have good, colourful, modern and accessible clothes that 

a) fit better than I can buy
b) don't cost an arm and a leg - come on - I know more fabric means more cost but surely not $100 more!
c) That are not black or tent like

4. How does my writing/creating process work?

Wish I could say there was a method to my madness but there is more madness to my method. I LOVE LOVE LOVE planning but not so much the carrying out thereof. I find myself distracted with shiny pretty new things and a plan will go out the window the minute there is a new release of patterns or I see a pattern on a blog or PR that I just have to do or I fail in my endeavours to stop buying fabric and a new arrival passes the threshold of chez BeaJay.

As for my writing process. I just sit down and write. This is not what I tell my students to do when I teach writing but hey - do as I say and not as I do.

Now I would like to pass the baton..

There are many wonderful bloggers that I would like to learn about.. However I have decided to flout the rules and nominate only one person. I find that it can be difficult to locate people who haven't been nominated and want to participate after a while so I thought that nominating only one blogger leaves room for more. Well that is my logic anyway.

I am nominating the lovely Angela at Collected Yarns. I was inspired by her lovely grey and white chiffon summer dress and the trials she had with it. She persevered and the dress is gorgeous. Check it out.

It is so nice to come out of hibernation.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Big hugs

Thank you all so much for your loving warm comments on my last post. It wasn't my intention to sound so upset - I really do feel that I want to evolve in my sewing and the comment that started my post made me realise it.

I am very happy with my pull on Barbs (and am in the midst of making some more pull on ponte pants from a different pattern) and I do love my Creative Cates and will be making more of those too.

But I do want to step it up a bit and as a business and management trainer I could use some tailored jackets and non knit dresses.

It has been a hell of a month (or so) and I guess that is why the comment hit me too.

- I started off really sick - better now - but lost a lot of time

- Next I lost my iPhone and had to replace - hadn't backed it up for some time too so am missing a lot of numbers.

- Then my computer (with all of my business stuff on it) started to sizzle so I had to buy a new computer and I haven't moved all of my stuff over so I am working between 2 computers.

- My credit card was hacked and someone purchased thousands of dollars worth of stuff which luckily my bank is reversing - however had to go through all of the cancellation and redo of direct payments

- My PVR corrupted a 1 terabyte portable drive I have so now it can't be used on my computer - or anywhere for that matter.

- Yesterday I was so pleased to be having a day sewing with my sewing buddies at Tessutis - got up early to finish cutting some patterns to sew. Packed my car with my machines and drove into Surry Hills only to find that I had the dates mixed up (Tessutis is next Saturday) and I should have been all the way across town at the Sewing Guild Industry Day  - which I was looking forward to attending (using a new computer without my calendar updated obviously tested my memory which failed.) By the time I got home from Tessutis it wasn't worth going out to the industry day.

- Last night my new computer contracted a virus that was attacking it every second and I have spent 4 hours this morning "cleansing" it...

Phew - not looking for sympathy - just saying the warm comments actually bought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful community the sewing community is. In the scheme of things the above is nothing but a hassle and there are so many people actually suffering out there that I realise how lucky I am.

Reading through the comments I have made a decision on my challenge - yes I really do want to challenge myself.

A lovely dress (using my best fabric) with an invisible zip and Hong Kong finishes it will be.  For the moment. I am working on a mini wardrobe so after that I will do my challenge.

I am going to save the Georgette top too. Keep tuned to find out how... I have some good - make that great ideas :-)

In the meantime - love and hugs to all. I will always remember your kind words.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Do you take random comments personally?

I ask this question because I was involved in my favourite breakfast ritual - having my tea and crumpet whilst reading my favourite sewing blogs and one of the comments left on a fave blog set my teeth on edge.

As a trainer I often facilitate discussions on conflict in the workplace, managing poor behaviour etc and I say to my students that taking someone's non directed comment personally says much more about you than about them. Why do you take something personally that wasn't personally aimed at you. It is about self confidence - the self confident person would not think the comment was aimed at them.

Herein lies the rub. I am not a confident sewist by any stretch of the imagination. I look in awe at the wonderful creations that others make and here I am making another pull on top and another pull on pair of trousers. Sigh.

The comment that had me so riled was about the lack of effort put in to their sewing by a lot of new bloggers.

Immediately a soliloquy started - "Often new bloggers are new sewers and not that experienced"! "People should be able to sew what they want and not be judged - after all we are sewing for ourselves"! I still feel like I am 5 years old when sewing - how refined was your sewing when you were 5?"! etc. etc.

Then I realised I was doing what I lecture my students on not doing. Taking something personally. This was one person giving her opinion on which she is just as entitled to do as I am to sew what I want. Believe me - this post is about me - not the commentator.

Why I reacted was because I feel that way about myself so it hit where it hurts. I am NOT putting in the effort. I am sewing comfortably instead of trying new things. Part of that is because I need clothes desperately so need to fill the wardrobe, part is because when I try new things they often fail.. Here is one such item.. I moved out of my comfort zone and made a Georgette tunic instead of a knit.

I was quite happy with this when I made it. I thought the fit was spot on - not too tight - not too loose - just right. However - this must not have been the case. The first and only time I wore it - to work in front of a class of 10 - it didn't hold up. I was driving home and felt something on my back shoulder - reached behind to scratch and was horrified to find flesh there instead of fabric.... Got home BOTH shoulder seams were split.

Next day I asked the class why they didn't tell me and they assured me that they didn't notice - hmmmm. I am too scared to wear the chiffon tunic I made now.

This week I am sewing my first pockets. In seam pockets in pull on pants!!

I started sewing in October 2011 and will be sewing for 3 years this October. Sometimes I feel I have really progressed but when I look at all of the things I want to do I feel totally inadequate. My list of skills assessment has only had one update since I put it in and that was French Seams.

So -- I would like one challenge to do. I am putting it out there. Give me a challenge. I don't care how hard. Although the more difficult the challenge the longer I will take to complete. I am hoping to get a lot of suggestions and the most suggested challenge I will complete before the end of this year (or sooner if it is easier). Because when I mean complete I mean to a competent standard so it might take a few goes.

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

StyleArc giveaway

If you have wanted to try StyleArc but have been unsure of the sizing etc, there is a current offer going on through Threads magazine to get a free downloadable Barb Pants pattern.

Remember my Barbs?

Go here for the opportunity. You need to sign up for a newsletter.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Yet more StyleArc Creative Cates and a Simplicity 3699

Here are another 2 tops I mostly completed on THE WEEKEND. All that needed to be done was the hemming. This has now been completed.

Nothing new here - I am only really blogging about them as this is my sewing journal to keep track of my items sewn (although I am pleased with them). They are the same as all my other Cates (which is my all time favourite top pattern). I make other tops but they never seem to feel or look as good as Cate.

The first one is from some of the fabric purchased during the trip to Cabramatta. The most difficult part of this creation was the fabric placement.

Can you see what my issue was (hint - long udders and a tip underneath to boot!!!).

I then tried turning the fabric around and found that one of the now upended udders was in the centre of my stomach - another risky look.

With careful shifting around (and input from my fellow sewists) I got what I think is the best look. I didn't have a lot of room with the repeat of the fabric and just managed to get it positioned for a wearable top.

The fabric brings to mind Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom movie for some obscure reason. The pics below are a little unfocussed in some areas as I am learning to use the delay switch on my camera along with the new gorrilapod I purchased after reading about it on Up Sew Late's blog. Thought I would give my official photographer a break. Would love a remote control camera but apparently they are only available on SLR cameras. :-(  My legs look like they are still moving in some of the pics!!

The other Cate is made from fabric I purchased some time ago from It has the most divine "suede" feel to it even though it isn't suede. It has both splashes of red and orange with a line of gold dots.

In the above pictures I am wearing my orange Barbs and in the below pictures I am wearing my red Barbs. In the pictures there doesn't look like there is much difference but in life they are definite orange and definite red.

I am happy with both Cates. I now have 6 of them.

The final top on show is the Khalia Ali Simplicity 3699

I had to lower the empire seam and I lowered it a little too much. I added 5 inches. If I make this again I will bring it up a couple of inches. Now I like myself a low neckline - the girls like the light - but this was soo low that I had to put a cami on. I think I will try raising it by the shoulders which should bring up both the neckline and the too low empire seam. It is also a little tight around the tum in the picture. I seem to make my tops either too loose or too tight.

Back to orange pants

I am on the fence with the look of this one. I will have to see how it wears. This wasn't started on the weekend away but was prompted by the fact that winter has finally come to Sydney and this fabric is quite thick and warm (warm enough for Sydney Winters and my stage in life LOL). It is from the latest Knitwit collection and I quite like the fabric. I also purchased it in the Smoke Green but I am thinking the teal would have been the nicest. I am trying to go a bit more "neutral" after all of my colourful Barbs and tops however I am missing my colour.

I still have another top - this time a Anne top - and an Abby Cardigan that I did on the weekend away that need a bit of finishing and then I will have a think about what I want to do next. I am so enjoying sewing and expanding my wardrobe.