Friday, 17 June 2011

New Look 6816 . The source of project inspiration.

It is interesting to read how people are inspired to make things. Some people who sew are definitely artists, and seem to be inspired quite laterally. My mind does not work that way.

I am not a sewist.

For this project, I was not inspired by beautiful fabric, I was not inspired by a fabulous, fascinating pattern, a photograph of a garment, nor by anything more abstract.

I was inspired by getting up at 1am, and realizing that my dressing gown was not rated for below 5 degrees Celcius.


I chose this fabric because it is very warm, and I had 4 metres of it. Unfortunately it was one of those internet purchases where you think you are buying grey polar fleece for boring man-and-boy sewing and you end up with an unflattering pale lavender colour reminiscent of your Nanna instead.

I chose this pattern because I own it.


I did not think this project would make a very interesting post, and was not planning to write about it. Thinking of trying to keep a good impression in the minds of my readers no doubt.

Then I gave myself a strict talking to.
I have revealed yoga pants, highly amusing jeans, underwear and backyard clothes on this blog, any illusions that my sewing journal is about beautiful fabric, patterns and eventually clothing are entirely in my imagination (and the un-used silk pile in my stash). The people who are kind enough to read this blog and give me great pleasure by leaving comments can presumably cope with prosaic sewing (although maybe not too much of it).

I admit that I am essentially a practical person.
I sew mainly very useful clothing, and there is very little in my wardrobe that I do not wear frequently (although my stash is unbalanced - see above confession about silk).
This has required years of self training (and years of impractical silk purchases). I am (intermittently) proud of my craftmanship (when it works), not the artistic, fashionista eye that I do not possess. I read other people's blogs for that.(Some people actually sew with their silk, how amazing!)

Usually when I make something not-very-interesting, I take shortcuts. This time, with the wisdom of Barbara Eumondi somehow lurking in my brain " You should spend no more time sewing than you do wearing the garment" (I paraphrase, but have read this philosphy in many an Australian Stitches article) I decided to slow down a bit. I am not really sure that she means you should spend hours and hours on a dressing gown that will be worn for a while every day, more that you shouldn't spend 3 weeks on a party dress that is worn once, but I like to be contrary (and quite like spending 3 weeks on a party dress, should I feel so inclined :) ) What I have taken from Barbara's articles, in addition to plenty of amusement, is that frequently worn clothing deserves effort.

I made samples!! Something that has annoyed me about polar fleece dressing gowns from this pattern that I have made in the past are the edges of the cuffs, and the facing.
In the past I have tried:
1. Turning under the raw edges and topstitching, as per the pattern - difficult to catch the bulky polar fleece consistently
2. Hand sewing the inner edge, again folded under - takes a VERY long time, and after the 98th wash , tends to come undone, polar fleece being a little abrasive to thread, and my fondness for hand sewing polar fleece being minimal, and leaning toward sloppiness),
3. Topstitching by machine without folding over ( I hate the raw edge, even though it doesn't ravel)
This time I used a very wiggly decorative stitch on my machine (Janome 6600, stitch number 62 )to oversew the raw edge.

I lined up the foot so that the stitch width covered the raw inside edge of the fabric at the collar and front facing, cuffs and lower hems.


It worked like a dream - no raw edge appearance on the inside


- a decorative line of stitching on the outside,


There is even a little stretch built into the seam. I used the walking foot, and 5 x100m reels of thread, but I felt the thread hog behavior of this stitch was worthwhile for the benefits.

I left out the side pockets, previously finding them a completely useless shape, and added a front patch pocket with the now ubiquitous free machine embroidery. Unfortunately the placement of the patch pocket when the dressing gown is overlapped recalls not my skinny Nanna, but Star bellied Sneetches. It is fortunate that I was not after glamour.


I like my Nanna-ish ugly dressing gown. Do you admire her flattering profile?

Everyone in my family wants one too, (In fact the first comment I received concerning it was "Why didn't you make a blue one for me?) but they can stay cold and jealous. This one is MINE.

I plan to pet the silk in my stash this weekend. I need some more fantasty in my sewing life ;).


Sharon said...

Now that is a dressing gown I would love to own and as far as profiles go, you just don't go there when wearing a dressing gown.

From someone who sews silk (well one piece) and then couldn't even wear it for more than 5 minutes, I'm certain I am going to need a bit more confidence before I go that way again :)

KID, MD said...

I nodded and laughed to myself quite a bit as I read this! My silk stash definitely exceeds my actual silk makes (stash: to numerous to count, makes:1). My life is more fleece dressing gown than silk dress, and that dressing gown looks wonderfully cozy. I love the hem treatment. It's a very attractive way to solve that problem.

Little Hunting Creek said...

Great dressing gown! I'd love to have one. My silk exists to admire, since I also rarely sew it. I should just frame it and hang it as art, because that is its purpose in my sewing life :)

Uta said...

Well, I admire your utilitarian sewing (AND think the dressing gown is very pretty!). I need more of that in my life. As is, I hardly sew for myself because I can't get up the motivation for unglamorous sewing (and can't justify spening my time on what I won't wear). Maybe you could do a post on how you motivate yourself? (As far as dressing gowns go, it can't be the superior fit, can it?)

Tanit-Isis said...

It looks wonderfully warm! Also, I find the concept of less-than-5-degrees without central heating rather terrifying, just so you know. My housecoat, although well used, is not nearly this warm and cozy-looking.

Also the purple is very pretty, although perhaps it helps that neither of my grandmas wear much purple.

Bonny D said...

Nery nice and looks ready for use in 5degree weather. Where I come from, upstate er..midstate new York, we call that a robe. Perhaps the name of that is regional? Recently I just finished a soft flannel robe for use in our 25degeree F weather. Hey, nobody asked me to make one for them...yours must be more beautiful or they are colder!

Debbie Cook said...

I don't like wearing art. I prefer well-made clothes that fit. My dressing gown/robe was made on a whim to use up an odd purchase of velour with tiny flowers and it's turned out to be one of my best projects ever. I wear it every day, launder it often, and it looks like it's still new.

Your dressing gown looks so snuggly and, dare I say, pretty! Good on you for taking care of yourself while the rest of the fam shivers. lol

Juliet said...

At least you got yours finished - mine from last winter isn't even half-finished though a family death resulted in me inheriting a perfect warm gown (with cuffs - my ideal!) and a selection of others.

My big choice now, do I need to finish the WIP?

I wish you well to wear your dressing gown.

Sewing Geek said...

I think it looks terrific! Everyone needs a dressing gown (robe or bathrobe, here in my part of the world - Utah, USA). It looks warm and snuggly. What more could you want on a cold morning?

Mary said...

Yes!! You are my sewing hero-that is a perfect project.

The Slapdash Sewist said...

LOL at "they can stay cold and jealous." I made myself a fleece robe years ago and it really needs to die. I should get around to making a replacement when it gets chilly again. Yours looks too cozy!

Big in Japan said...

This is the first post of yours I've read and I like the cut of your jib! Necessities that can be filled by oneself are worthy projects. And having silk around to fondle is also a worthwhile endeavor, thank you for reinforcing that for me.

Mary Nanna said...

I too have far too much silk in my stash but I also have a penchant for wool, and that is actually extremely practical over the winter months. Silk is never practical: not for wearing or sewing.

Good on you for a) showing us your dressing gown (I feel the same way about showing tee shirts - yawn!) and b) making a good job of it and c) pumping up the frump. Me I lurve me a good nanna look.

Debra Martin said...

Love it - the cuffs especially - and the embroidered pocket as well. I wrap my silk around my mannequin like a scarf of a draped Grecian gown. I figure if I don't sew it, at least I get to look at it.

Joy said...

My grandmother's robes were not nearly so pretty. I particularly like your raw edge finish.

Come to think of it, I've never bought or sewn silk. I sewed satin for a costume once and decided that I prefer corduroy.

gMarie said...

I think it's a fabulous dressing gown. Absolutely nothing wrong with sewing useful things. g

Summer Flies said...

Hi, firstly I think your nana dressing gown is such a must and very nice to boot; especially at the moment! Boy cold and windy ... mmm and to get colder for Sunday and Monday.

I'm glad you liked the fabrics ... I still have them on the lounge a) to inspire me to sew quickly before having to start study again b) because they are so lovely to look at! They only have the sale about every 12 months but I'll be sure to let you know.

Carolyn said...

Oh dear, now I'm really embarrassed that a. unlike all your other commenters I do sew a lot of silk, and wear it too!, and b. that my 10yr old dressing gown is looking pretty shabby... Since I'm doing a me-made month I have to confess I've been wearing my trench coat in the evenings through guilt that my old dressing gown isn't me-made either!
And I think this is perfectly lovely. I'm coveting it too and am not surprised the rest of your family is jealous. Looks beautifully snuggly. Thanks for the great tip on finishing polar fleece. Your cuffs are gorgeous, AND machine-washable and non-bulky, a triple win.

Handmade said...

Excellent way to finish the edges. I love dressing gowns and pj's - haven't made any for a long time - yours looks super snuggly so thanks for sharing with us - who cares why we sew? It's just great that we do sew!

Sue said...

Thanks for the tip on hemming the polarfleece. while reading your blog I am sitting in my polar fleece dressing gown. It was sewn maybe 15 years ago and gets pulled out every cold winter and I love it (except for the big sleeves that seem to catch everything!)

I must admit the hand stitching to hold the collar edge in place is long gone and I have nver re-done it!

Anonymous said...

That dressing gown looks fabulously cozy, but, you are right, that colour is best seen only in the house, or on nannas...

Mine, of course is a gorgeous burgundy red polar fleece with tartan piping, made a few weeks before my first child was born (she's just turned 13, but of course I don't need to make another gown!).

It has very bulky cuffs (no clever stitching on mine!), a lovely lived in surface treatment (ie pilled), and my husband wears it all the time.

Perhaps my next one needs to be more nanna-ish to discourage him!


Gail said...

This is a cold winter isn't it? I work from home and some days can hardly get out of mine. You've done a great job.

Anonymous said...

Oh that looks nice and toasty. And very nicely made. I love the colour too. (Luckily for me Granny Lavender suits me beautifully :-) So does Granny Turquoise.)

If I hadn't been lucky enough to find a dressing gown in Big W the other month(pink polar fleece with big white spots, for the record!) I would be queueing up behind your family for one of my own. Or at the very least asking you for some hints on sewing polar fleece! You do it so well, and I am so ignorant about it!
Thankfully we don't get quite that cold here, as I am sure my dressing gown wouldn't be warm enough *meep*