A Giveaway to Celebrate the Vernal-Autumnal Equinox!

Well, today is that glorious time of year.  The Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere (first day of spring)

Spring has Sprung in Spain

Spring has Sprung in Spain

Autumn in Australia

Autumn in Australia

and the Autumnal Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere (first day of autumn).  Both are excellent seasons and an exquisite end to the grey, cold snow and the sticky, humid heat.

An equinox happens twice a year and is the day where the terminator (twilight zone) is at 90 degrees to the Earth’s equator and the length of day and night is precisely equal!  Ooooh, the wonderful math and symmetry involved.  I get goosebumps!

To help celebrate this momentous occasion, I am giving away the sewing book Chic and Simple Sewing by Christine Haynes.ChicSimpleSewing

This book includes paper patterns, instructions and photos for 20 fashion projects that range in difficulty from 1 to 5.  There is a rating system applied to each garment so that you know what you are getting yourself into, before you begin sewing.

The first section of the book explains some sewing techniques ranging from patch pockets to applying bias tape and the rest of the book presents a variety of garments for you to sew with the full patterns included in sizes small, medium and large (measurements included).  The fun part of this book is that it is divided up into seasons, Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter with associated clothes and patterns for each season.  I thought this fit perfectly into the Seasonal Celebration we are having!

I have made several items from this book including the A-line skirt, fabric belt and belt loops, The Trench and The Date Dress (which I made into nightgowns).  I also have The Retro Shift Dress lined up in the queue to sew for this summer.

The Retro Shift Dress

The Retro Shift Dress

For most of these projects, I altered and embellished the pattern and sewing to add a bit more polish and finishing.  That’s one of the good aspects I found about this book: that it is aimed at the experienced beginner, but as you begin to climb up the levels of difficulty, or if you are already an advanced sewer, you can alter, embellish and add to the patterns and the sewing style to make your own, more tailored creations.

Also, this book is now out of print.  Christine Haynes just blogged about this recently, so you will no longer be able to order or purchase this book anywhere!

chic-simple-sewing-2

Projects from the Book

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Projects from the Book

Projects from the Book

Projects from the Book

chic-simple-sewing-5

Projects from the Book

tulips

Beautiful Spring Tulips

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment letting everybody know what is your favourite season and why.  You can enter from anywhere in the world, no matter what season it is for you currently.  :)

The giveaway will close on Sunday April 7, 2013, so please be sure to have your comments in by then.  Kitty, of course, will be officiating the draw to pick the winner.  Drop by again for the, sure to be exciting, entrant selection!

Update:  See the official draw ceremony and the winning entrant here!

Good luck to everybody!  And please ensure there is some way of contacting you, if you do win.

Feel free to ‘like’ Gjeometry on Facebook and follow this blog so we can all keep in touch!

(Autumn in Australia pic courtesy of Reef and Outback Rail Tours, Projects from the Book pics courtesy of Christine Haynes blog)

Fearless February Project: Burda Style 7441

I am currently at work on my Fearless February Project.  This sew-along was started by Victoria, and her blog, Ten Thousand Hours of Sewing, is based on the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

In the book, Gladwell expounds the value of the “10,000 Hour Rule”, where success and mastery of something can be achieved but requires 10,000 hours of practice.  It makes me feel really motivated and positive about my sewing since as a beginner, I sometimes feel overwhelmed with all there is to learn.  But, with this idea in mind, I believe that I can achieve success in sewing!

I’m a fan of Gladwell’s writing and if you have not checked him out, he has published several books and they all infuse a fresh twist into the subjects of modern psychology and philosophy.

Okay, with that in mind, here is the Fearless February Project:  Burda Style Pants 7441.Burda 7441 Pattern  I began this project last year before ever having sewn a thing, and it was far too overwhelming.  And, in retrospect, it was not a good choice for an absolute beginner for several reasons: 1) The pattern is a Burda and I have been told they can be notorious for not providing the most detailed or complete instructions.  2) It is rated as a 3 out of 4 on a difficulty level.  3) Tailored pants are more difficult to sew than a simple skirt or top.  And, 4) These pants have a lot going on including, two different styles of pockets, darts, pleats, zipper.

However, with some experience under my belt, a slew of practice hours logged and a variety of projects completed, I felt ready to tackle these pants again.

All pattern pieces have been cut out, including lining and interfacing.  Pants Pattern Pieces Cut Out

The very first task (after sewing the back darts) was to construct the back welt pockets.  Wow, these were difficult to understand, the directions and pictures were not very explanatory and there seemed to be a few placement marks missing on the pattern pieces (i.e., sew lines for piping and pocket attachment).  But, with the help of my sewing teacher, and a few tears, I have now completed the back welt pockets!!  Back Welt PocketBack Welt Pocket InsideThere was a definite learning curve, and, one pocket looks better from the outside while the other pocket worked out nicely from the inside.  So, for the next pants, I should be able to construct a pocket that looks good from both the outside and inside.  I am now on to the front of the pants.  Wish me luck!

Lions and Leopards and Camels, Oh My!! Trench Coat Jungle

My first attempt at sewing a jacket / coat!  Camel and Animal Print Trench Style CoatI finished my trench style coat for Jungle January in animal print!  It is based on the Christine Hayne’s pattern and the fabric talked about in this post.  Now, you all thought I was going to put the leopard/lion print on the outside and the camel on the inside, right??  Admit it.  Camel Trench Coat in Animal PrintAnd, BAM!  Leopard/Lion print on the inside!

Animal Print on Inside of Trench CoatI altered the sleeves from the pattern quite a bit and made them longer, adding a cuff with button and also added a tie belt with belt loops.

Of course, NEVER to be outdone, Kitty also got his jungle on and styled a coordinating leopard print collar.  Kitty's Leopard Print CollarBias binding was attached to the raw front edges of the coat and around the collar.  To learn more about how to attach bias binding, click here.

Pattern Layout

Pattern Layout

Bias Binding Attached to Front and Around Collar

Bias Binding Attached to Front and Around Collar

Sleeping in Style (with Monkeys)

So, this years Christmas gifts were….wait for it……sleepwear for everybody! YIPPEE!!

Father and Son Coordinating PJs

Father and Son Coordinating PJs

Pajama bottoms, a matching camisole and nightgowns.

Run Little Mister Monkeypants Run!!

Run Little Mister Monkeypants Run!!

Green Nightgown with Coordinating Fabric (and monkey fabric yo-yo on the front)

Green Nightgown with Coordinating Fabric (and monkey fabric yo-yo on the front)

I did not make the jersey t-shirts (I’m still working on inserting sleeves as well as learning to sew with knits), so I bought T-shirts and just embellished them with monkey appliques and matching fabric appliqued on.

Little Mister Monkeypants

Little Mister Monkeypants

The green Jammies set were all based off of the Monkey fabric, so they all coordinated with camouflage patterns, shades of green and monkeys.

Pajamas and Nightgown in Coordinating Fabric

Pajamas and Nightgown in Coordinating Fabric

I also added coordinating fabric to the hems and waistbands of some of the pajama bottoms as well as to the chest pieces and straps of the nightgowns.  And note the blue monkey slippers that match with the blue linen nightgown.

Blue Linen NIghtgown with Embossed Paisley Pattern (and coordinating monkey slippers)

Blue Linen NIghtgown with Embossed Paisley Pattern (and coordinating monkey slippers)

Nightgown in Blue Linen with Embossed Paisley Pattern

Nightgown in Blue Linen with Embossed Paisley Pattern

Who doesn’t love monkeys???!!!

Matching Pajama Camisole Top and Bottoms

Matching Pajama Camisole Top and Bottoms

Coordinating Pajama Camisole Style Top and Bottoms

Coordinating Pajama Camisole Style Top and Bottoms

Red and White Stars Cotton Pajama Bottoms

Red and White Stars Cotton Pajama Bottoms

(photo courtesy of The Guardian-uk)

photo courtesy of The Guardian-uk, of a kitty sleeping in style, with a monkey.

Easy A-Line Skirt

A Line SkirtI completed this A-Line skirt in the same way as the two rectangle skirt, only instead of rectangles, these quadrilateral shapes are actually isosceles trapezoids (to be precise).  Yes, that’s the math/science nerd in me leaking out.  It’s really one of the reasons why I love sewing and pattern making.  The geometry involved delights me to no end.  :)

But, now that you’ve finished rolling your eyes and being embarrassed for me, here is some information about the A-Line skirt.

A Line Skirt 2

I used fabric with a one way pattern on it, so I actually had to cut it across the grain instead of with the length grain (following along the selvage) so that the pattern would go vertically up and down the skirt.  I’m not sure how much this affects the integrity of the skirt, but how else do you use these directional prints?  If you cut along the length of the grain, the pattern would be lost.

A Line Skirt Flare

A Line Skirt Flare

With respect to the A-Line, you can add as much flare at the bottom as you wish.  Basically, after you’ve made a rectangle, add another two triangles on either side of it to create a wider, flared bottom.

I also added a belt in the same fabric to disguise the elastic waistband casing.  To learn more about how to sew a fabric belt with buckle, click here.  I sewed on belt loops, also in the same fabric to hold the belt in the right place.

Fabric Belt and Belt Loops

Fabric Belt and Belt Loops

And, I bought a self cover belt buckle, where you cover the buckle with fabric of your choice.  I think it’s a good investment (and very inexpensive) as it really ties the belt in with the skirt.  With such a busy pattern, I didn’t really want the belt and buckle to stand out more than the skirt.

Fashion Illustration for Non-Illustrators (or Help Me, I Can’t Draw)

Fashion Illustration is an important part of the process in designing your own fashions and garments or even working out how to sew a pattern.  Problem is, not everybody can draw and yes, I know, I’ve taken beginner drawing classes before and they all say “everybody can draw” and that’s very true.  However, the human body including draped and folded fabric are really not the easiest subjects to begin with if you are just starting out.

I was reading a post by Tulle and Tweed, which discussed the importance of being able to sketch your fashion and sewing projects and ideas and I agree wholeheartedly.  It ignites the creative process, allows you to solidify and expand on anything you have dreamed up, or can even help to solve a problem you’ve had with putting things together.  But, I noticed from the comments that many people were afraid to attempt illustrating since they were not artists and felt they could not draw.  Present company included in this sentiment.

I’d love to be able to just quickly sketch out an idea and have it look realistic and fabulous, but, let’s face it, a wee bit of practice and instruction may be necessary for the non-artist.  I just purchased a book that has been very helpful in this regard.  It is “The Manga Artist’s Workbook” by Christopher Hart.

Drawing the Figure

Drawing the Figure

It is an instruction book, sketchbook and tracing book all in one.  And it is small enough to pack into any size bag to tote along with you, so you always have it should inspiration strike.  It is really a guide on how to draw Manga characters, but the basic techniques are the same for fashion illustration and figures.

Instructions on How to Draw Figure Head

Instructions on How to Draw Figure Head

There are sections for how to draw the head, face and hair and sections on how to draw the body in various positions and stances, including proportion and angles.

Clothing on Figure in Various Positions

Clothing on Figure

These figures are called croquis in fashion illustration.  The end of the book shows clothed characters and how to illustrate garments on your figure.

Included are blank graphed pages so that you can try your hand at what you’ve just learned, using the squares of the graph paper to help you plot out the image.  As well, Tracing paper is overlain on some pages so that you can trace the image or even use the page as a guide and draw clothing or accessories over the image.

Tracing Paper Overlay

Tracing Paper Overlay

I also customized my copy of the book.  I added copies of figures and poses and clothing from other sources on some of the blank graphed pages in order to copy these for practice and use them as a starting point for ideas.  The following illustrations were taken from The Encyclopedia of Fashion Illustration Techniques by Carol A. Nunnelly and added to the sketchbook. 

Customized Page with Added Photos of Croquis in Fashions

Customized Page with Added Clothed Croquis Drawings

Customized Page with Added Croquis in Fashions

Customized Page with Added Clothed Croquis Drawings

In addition to this, I added some tracing paper overlays to pages that did not have any, so that I could either trace the image or add my clothing ideas over top of the image.

I am much more confident now in trying my hand at fashion illustration and figure drawing with the help of this book.  I can still use it like a sketchbook to illustrate ideas but I also have all these guidelines, instructions and tools included, so that I don’t feel too intimidated to go ahead and begin drawing, sketching and illustrating.

Customized Page with Added Photos of Croquis and Added Tracing Paper Overlay

Customized Page with Added Croquis Pictures and Added Tracing Paper Overlay

A Skirt in Two Rectangles

Two Rectangle Skirt

This skirt is likely the easiest style to sew.  It is really just two rectangles plus an elastic waist.  You can put a belt over the elastic waistband casing to finish it off and make it look a tad more complex than it really is.  The fabric I used was a stretch cotton sateen, which gives it a heavier drape and a lovely sheen.  I have seen these in every beginner sewing book and everybody has their favourite way of constructing them.  Here is an outline of the steps that you can adjust to suit your own tastes.

Skirt in two rectangles

First, you measure out two rectangles, the length that you desire the skirt to be plus about 4 cm (2′) for the double folded hem and another, approximately 4 to 6 cm (1.5 to 2.5″) for the waistband casing, depending on how wide you want your elastic.  For more on how to construct a waistband casing, click here.  The width of the rectangle will be your waist measurement, plus anywhere between 5 to 25 cm (2 to 10″) depending on how much you want the skirt to gather and how much “give” or stretch there is to the fabric you have chosen.  Keep in mind, if you have very curvaceous hips, then you will have to leave enough room to be able to pull the skirt on over them to get it to your waist.  The width of the elastic will be up to you, but you will have to adjust the waistband casing accordingly, and the length of the elastic will be your waistband measurement minus about 5 cm (2″).  Pin it and try on first, for comfort.

Elastic Waistband Casing

Elastic Waistband Casing

Then, you sew the two rectangles together, giving two side seams, and double fold the hem.  For this, you fold up the hem 1 cm (half-inch) and press, then fold up another 1 cm (half-inch) press and topstitch close to the edge.  After this, you fold back the top of the skirt about 0.5 cm (quarter-inch), press and fold over again the width of your elastic, plus about 0.5 cm (quarter-inch).  Sew around the skirt, making a casing and leave a 5 cm (2″) opening.  Thread elastic though this casing, sew the elastic ends together then stitch the casing closed.  Done!  It takes no time at all, and makes a very simple yet appealing and easy to wear skirt.