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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon



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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Underwear review

Ages ago I made myself some underwear, but never continued, mainly because the pattern I used didn't fit and it seemed too much trouble to fiddle around fitting with something that was so easy to buy.

Lately however I have been eyeing my bamboo, rayon, and nice cotton knit remnants and thinking they were too good to throw out, and thinking I should revisit sewing my own undies.

First the patterns. 

These are the ones I used in my trials. I know the fabrics are pretty wild, but this was muslin work.

First: Jan Bones' The Smoothie:

The key features of this pattern are great bum coverage, high cut front legs made possible by the side seams shifted to the front, which gives that back wrap.

Before showing you my sample I have to say I learned something in my practice sewing. This was that on my body, with my personal requirement that nothing was too tight, particularly the front leg (don't you just hate it when that digs in?) the elastic really worked best when it was applied one to one, except a little stretched under the back, sort of a finish to the raw edge not a gather.

What this means is that the off the machine version looks really wavy, although on me it lay flat, and after a day's wear the waviness had disappeared. Interesting.

The wear test was important, I have learned the hard way that the way something looks and how it feels are too different things. I never want to review anything without that all day test.

Grade: A 

Comfortable and since this pattern has been drafted for sewn in elastic, it will be a good choice when I can't find any stretch lace or foldover elastic to match my fabric:

Next pattern Kwik Sew 3881:

This pattern was a surprise. I have a 40" hip and cut out the medium. When I looked at the pattern pieces they seemed huge but I sewed it up anyway, basted the side seams once the crotch was sewn in, and tried it on.

Old lady droopy drawers.You don't need pictures to convey that - use your imagination. Here are the pattern pieces. Big at the back and low cut legs at the front:

Grade: F, at least on me.

Next pattern two versions of the same pattern:

Jalie 2568:

I made both the "hipster" (more a boycut) and bikini versions of this pattern. Here is the bikini version. It was nice but didn't have enough rear coverage for me at all, you can see how high the back leg is cut. The bisected butt is not a good look. However for someone less heavily endowed in that department it might work great:

Grade: D for me but may be someone else's A

Finally I made the hipster version, sort of an afterthought, the boycut never appealed to me, not being a boy myself. But then again as my kids say I am one of the original hipsters (not totally sure what that means or if it is a compliment or not, something about sewing when sewing wasn't cool I think) so I tried this out.

Interestingly this pattern had the option of a turned and stitched leg opening and since the fabric for this pair was a bamboo knit with fair body I tried that too, using a nice three step zig zag. I used a fold over elastic for the waist because I thought that would work with the grey and the boycut thing.

Here we go:

Now this was just a muslin trial but I did wear these and was most impressed. The back coverage is good, unlike the other pattern companies there is only one crotch seam in the Jalies, and I found that comfortable. The front legs weren't as low as I expected. Most of all I was impressed with how well the turned under leg looked and this was definitely the most comfortable of all my pairs from that perspective.

This was the fastest panty to construct and will probably be one of my favourite patterns. My sense though is that if you are turning and stitching you really need a good two-way fabric with some recovery, with thinner and less bounce back fabrics I will probably use the Jan Bones pattern.

Grade A+

I don't think I will be buying underwear again. My two As are much nicer to wear than anything currently in the drawer.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Esme top and me

Well a bit of catch up to do here.

First a bit of news.

One reason I have been AWOL is I have been getting a new project set-up, specifically a book I will be writing for C&T Publications, on you guessed it, sewing. This will take some time, but as this is my favourite subject I am enjoying this process.  Stay tuned.

And of course I have been actually sewing too.

I had a brief flash of remembering I need to make more basics, so I went back to my Stylearc Esme top that I had made sleeveless, and made one with sleeves, because it is pretty clear to me that summer is more or less over.

I like this top but think it is worth another go with the neckline pulled in. I have one of those scrawny necks and the '50s rolled collar is a little wide. I think it is worth moving this neckline in and may make another one soon to do this.

It is interesting to me that Stylearc seems to understand my lower body, pants fit in particular, perfectly but the tops require fitting adjustments always. I make the pants in a 12 and the tops in 10 but these tops still strike me as a bit wide.  I will have to work out a formula for this for this pattern line:

In the meantime here is the long sleeved Esme with my Stylerc Margaret pants:

The back neck, one of the nice features of this top

See you can see my bra strap slightly, got to bring in that neckline

Full view, interesting that the sleeves are narrow relative to the body - I know this is a style issue but also also common in the draft

The high low here on the top is quite flattering, I am also figuring out that a firmer fabric like this ponte is better for stomach disguise purposes than a clingy knit. Only took me about 40 years to figure that out.

Now off I go. Some Serious Christmas sewing underway, but now I have some of my other business straight in my head there will more more regular blogging, so brace yourselves.