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Tomorrow

12 April 2014, 14:13

Tomorrow I run the London Marathon.

(Actually, I’m way more excited than that sounds. Add in a “Weeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!”)

I will be running in my newest Duathlon shorts, so I’ll be sure to share some photos of myself in them for the Spring Race Challenge! Remember that if you’re entering the prize draw, you need to link to your photo in the comments of that post – I’ve seen some great photos already but they need to be added there so I don’t lose any.

If you’d like to track me during the race tomorrow (it starts at 10am BST), I’ve detailed three different ways you can do so over on my Riverrunner site. I’ll especially need comments after 2.5 hours in, so that’s about 12:30ish local time (or 7:30 EDT).

Remember that tomorrow is also the last day to take advantage of the “VMLM14” code to get 10% off my exercise sewing patterns, so if you’re dawdling, go grab them now!

I also owe you a massive roundup of all the amazing Duathlon Shorts I’ve seen over the past few weeks, but I’ve got to focus on tomorrow first! My past 6 months have been focused on tomorrow…

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The Bunka-esque asymmetric Burda top

10 April 2014, 17:31

This might be the quickest turnaround for a pattern I’ve made in ages, but last weekend I put together the weird, conceptual “tube” tee from the April 2014 Burda magazine (I’m so current!!) and some splatter-print viscose lycra jersey I bought at Hancocks when I was visiting my folks in Virginia in November. Or it’s up on the US Burdastyle already should you wish to buy the pdf.

The pattern itself is rather avant-garde – it’s really just one big rectangle! On the right-hand side (as worn) there’s a side seam and a pretty normal, set-in sleeve. But on the left it’s just a fold instead of a side seam and a horizontal slit is cut in, where a sleeve with the sleeve cap chopped off (no, really!) is set into that. The neckline is just the top of the rectangle and is only an inch or two narrower than the hem!

I wasn’t so sure that the weird left sleeve would actually be comfortable, but it really is! I don’t even notice it when I’m wearing it, and it doesn’t really look strange when worn, either.

The body feels super voluminous and quite long to me – I’m tempted to narrow it and the cowl neck as well. I made a Burda size 40 which should be true to my new measurements, but everything is super wide – I’d definitely consider going down a size in the rectangle, but keeping the sleeves at your true size.

The cowl also stays in place fairly well – it doesn’t fall off my left shoulder at all like the magazine photo might suggest, and you can actually drape it up over your head like a hood or fashionable head scarf!

The instructions for this were just stupid, though – they have you set in the normal, right sleeve instead of sewing it in flat, and then have you sew French seams on the shoulder and cowl neck seam, which is just totally pointless! I just overlocked it, and you can’t see it for all the fabric folds anyway.

All in all, it’s a great top (tunic?) to wear with leggings that feels super comfortable but is a bit more edgy than your average teeshirt. Considering that it’s only two pattern pieces and three seams, it’s also super quick to sew, too!

(Why “Bunka”? Bunka is the Japanese fashion school that all the conceptual, avant garde designers studied at – think Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, and all the Pattern Magic and Drape Drape books. This really reminds me of their approach to pattern making!)

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The Sherlock coat

8 April 2014, 13:30

Sewing a coat is always a big accomplishment, but this coat in particular has been a long time in the making. I first told James I’d finally make him a coat like Benedict Cumberbatch wears in BBC’s “Sherlock” for his birthday back in early December. I drafted up a pattern using the details provided in this livejournal post, then made a muslin for him later that month. With only a few tweaks needed for fit and style (I made the lapels too big, for starters!), I then moved on to purchasing the wool coating, cotton flannel underlining, and black acetate lining.

But this is also where the first delay came in, as he wanted a black wool coating with faint blue and brown checks from Crescent Trading, who turned out to be closed over the full Christmas period, when I was hoping to get a lot of the work done. All of the above are detailed more
in this “progress report” post from January.

I then had more hurdles involving the hem bubbling (which meant I had to baste it in place, flip it back wrong-side out, handstitch, re-press, etc), waiting for some woman on Etsy to make more replica buttons (which we finally gave up on and just made our own with gold enamel paint), and getting the right upholstery thread to do all the buttonholes.

But it’s finished, it looks fantastic on James, and the proportions are really flattering on him, too! So the lengthy making process shall soon fade away in the light of the finished coat. He definitely prefers it open (as dos Sherlock himself), but it can be buttoned up in the coldest of days, too:

It’s a very warm coat, having underlined the body and sleeves in flannel, a trick I picked up in previous coats to stop the wind.

I can’t take the credit for these, as James was having fun with photoshoot ideas!

Sherlock, or Dr Who? Oh no, we’ve confused British geek heroes! ;)

The coat is one long piece in the front, but the back has a waist seam and a voluminous, pleated skirt which really swishes and moves with him. The belt is attached at the side seams and is really just for looks.

Now, you know James loves a loud lining, but for this coat he thought it’d just be wrong, so instead he chose a simple black lining. The only feature inside is a piece of ribbon to control his headphone cables, which is a feature he requests on all his jackets and coats.

Here are some detail shots: Red keyhole buttonholes (made on my antique Singer with the buttonholer attachment), chest single welt pockets, lined patch pockets, and curved sleeve cuff

I’ve heard the original jacket used in the series had boning added to the collar to make it stand up, but I wanted to give James the option to wear it down if he wanted. So I instead used some really stiff horsehair interfacing which bends easily horizontally, but really wants to stand up vertically. I then stitched it in rows along the undercollar to keep it in place. I’m super happy with this choice, as the collar really stays up on its own without any fuss!

Here are some detail shots: Painted buttons, Upper back pleat, headphone holder in front facing, back belt and pleats

The buttons were regular brown, which we detailed “stitching” onto with gold enamel model airplane paint, so they look like the originals.

And we couldn’t resist some shots with our iconic neighbour!

You should see the jealous looks he’s getting from his friends and from strangers on the street!!

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Duathlon Shorts tip - short on fabric?

4 April 2014, 13:06

The Upper Side piece of my Duathlon Shorts pattern is pretty long – 64cm (25in) long for size XL, to be exact. If you’re using scraps as accents on the sides, you may find a great piece of fabric that’s too short for the piece.

Here’s a tip – because of the way the piece folds to create the pocket, if you position a joining seam anywhere between the top “Top of Pocket” lines, the seam will be hidden inside the pocket construction!

(Just don’t forget to add on seam allowances when you join – or join your fabric first and then cut out the pattern piece!)

Remember there’s still 10% off my sewing patterns if you use code “VMLM14” up through marathon day!

Fancy making your own?

buy!

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Digitally printed fabric comparison

3 April 2014, 12:57

I recently placed a small order at Spoonflower for the first time in three years since they now do “performance knit” as a base fabric option! I mostly wanted to see how it compares against other wicking lycras and also FunkiFabrics’ digitally printed (non-wicking) lycra, as it could potentially be a great source of wild running prints for me.

I had stopped ordering from Spoonflower because their international shipping was taking an excessively long amount of time (over a month!!) and getting lost fairly frequently. I also stopped because, at the time, the only knit fabric they had was the organic cotton interlock, which both faded in the first wash and had zero recovery, and was pretty much useless for my purposes. But in the past three years, they’ve added a bunch more knits to their range and sorted out their international shipping, so I tentatively made a small order to try them out again.

I ended up getting three samples and a fat quarter, all in the performance knit (plus a swatch book), and I’m really impressed. Spoonflower’s performance knit is a smooth lycra base with about 40% widthwise stretch and no lengthwise stretch. They print onto white base lycra, and although the weight is thinner than FunkiFabrics’ base lycra (which has four-way stretch), I’d still feel fine using it for actvewear, though you’d want a busy print to distract from any lumps and bumps.

I’m also relieved to report that they’ve sorted out their international shipping – I ordered on 13 March, they shipped it on 17 March, and it arrived on 31 March. Much improved!

Now, the price. I always expect that I’m going to get shafted on shipping fabric from the States (and I’m usually right!), but the shipping on my above order was only $7, which I found wholly reasonable. In fact, I started getting curious so I actually worked out a price comparison for having digitally printed lycra shipped to me in the UK:

Spoonflower: 1 yard “performance knit” ($24) + UK shipping ($7) = $31 (~£18.62)

FunkiFabrics: 1 metre “printed lycra” (£18) + VAT (£4.59) + UK shipping (£4.95) = £27.54 (~$45.77)

So, as depressing as it is, it actually makes economic sense to have my fabric printed halfway around the world and air shipped to me than it does to get it printed locally (well, at least in the same country). This isn’t to say I’ll stop using FunkiFabrics entirely – I think their lycra is of fantastic, hefty quality, great stretch, and a great range of prints, and they tend to print and ship a bit quicker (plus they print onto different coloured base fabrics). But for sheer price comparison, Spoonflower comes out almost a third cheaper, even if you have to gamble with customs fees.

Oh, and I since I had these samples on hand, I realised that you can fit both Lower Side pieces of the Duathlon Shorts (biker short length) nicely into a Spoonflower sample! Bargain!


(I’ve just folded away the top & bottom seam allowances to show it does fit into the printed area!)

At $5 a sample for the performance knit, this could be a really great way of injecting some fancy prints into your shorts that coordinate with your base fabrics!

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Assorted updates

2 April 2014, 13:05

Argh I’ve done that thing again where I get really busy in my sewing cave (and elsewhere!), ignore my laptop altogether, and end up accumulating a full week’s worth of posts that I can’t face writing. This usually bogs me down mentally for a few days until I realise I have to face the laptop at some point, and I work a “computer day” (I much prefer “sewing days”!) to clear the slate.

But a-ha! I gotcha, “internet day”, because I’m going to cram together all the updates I really should write about in one big go. Didn’t see that coming, didja?!? (frollicks off to the sewing cave…)

Birthday gifts


Thank you again so much for all your compliments on my galaxy print birthday dress last week! I’m not sure what I did right, but I ended up getting an awful lot of lovely sewing gifts this year…

Clockwise from upper left: