Sunday, 5 February 2017

One-piece Sophie Swimsuit

Summer is in full swing and it was definitely time for some new bathers for me. I have seen so many lovely versions of the Closet Case Files Sophie Swimsuit, that it was the obvious choice. Although bikinis are far more practical than one-pieces, I like the er, smoothing effect a one-piece gives to the tummy region. I will probably make the bikini as well though.

I followed all the sizing instructions and came up with a size 8 body and size 5 cup. I love that only a few pages need printing once the size has been chosen and that you also get three size lines on either side of the chosen size. I used those to increase to size 10 at the hips. I am happy to report that the sizing is spot on, particularly for the all-important cup. The instructions suggested lengthening the body if you're taller than 5'6. I should have listened to that advice and will do it next time.

I had chosen a denim-look lycra from my (ridiculously large) lycra stash. Then, at the last minute, I changed my mind and used this coral reef print instead. I was very careful not to place a sea anemone at the lower, centre front but then, despite careful planning, I realised there were fish swimming out of my backside!

The whole time I was making this I marvelled at all the work Heather Lou has put into this pattern. I can't imagine how she worked out all that sizing and the instructions are fantastic. This was a very straightforward garment to make, despite it looking quite complicated.

I also love the design. There is enough coverage to feel comfortable and enough va va voom to still look the part amongst the beach fashionistas. Well, I felt like there was until I saw this photo. I should have given it a good hitch up beforehand. Damn not lengthening the body on my pattern!

I cannot find fault with this pattern. It's a winner and I'm super happy with my coral reef duds.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Woven Named Inari dress in black and white

This was a quick little project using one of my favourite patterns - the Named Inari dress. I have made this previously in knit fabric, but steered away from wovens after my first woven muslin was too tight across the shoulders and sleeves. Then, I saw that Carolyn had recently made a woven Inari with a sleeve alteration to give a bit more room. I did the same and voila, it's perfect. Thanks for the tip Carolyn!

This lovely black and white cotton fabric is from Textile Traders. I spent some time in front of the mirror working out where to place the pattern for the best effect. I think it worked out OK.

The cotton was very lightweight, so I underlined it with white cotton voile to give the dress a bit more substance and allow it to hang better. I originally had the white lining extending to the hem, but I didn't like being able to see the white on the lower back hem, so I hemmed the lining above the side split.

My only other alteration was to lower the neckline.

I just love this easy, stylish and comfortable pattern and it's already been worn many times. I'm actually working on another knit Inari in blue and white stripes as I write. I wonder if anyone will notice if I wear the same pattern all summer!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

StyleArc Adeline Dress

I have had this StyleArc Adeline dress on my mind ever since I saw Lauren's version on Instagram. I delayed buying the pattern while I tried to justify to myself that it was sufficiently different to the Named Inari and Merchant and Mills Camber patterns that I already have. I further tried to justify to myself that I needed yet another pattern to add to my overflowing pattern cabinet. Then came the Black Friday sales and, well, resistance was futile!

I made this from khaki linen from my stash. I am trying to use my stash for everything lately as it's getting beyond a joke and taking over the entire house. I think this fabric came from Remida.

I constructed the dress with French seams throughout and topstitched them down. I also shortened the dress by about 5cm. I made my usual StyleArc size 10.

I just love the easy, relaxed style of this dress with the wide neckline facing, deep pockets and slightly hi-low curved hem.

The sleeves have a wide hem so they can be turned back without internal seams showing. It's a very well designed pattern.

I decided when I had finished the dress that khaki wasn't really my colour, so I dunked the dress in my trusty indigo dye vat. My indigo is fairly pale and didn't do much to the khaki. However, if you look closely, it seems to have dyed some of the fibres more than others resulting in a lovely depth of colour that I'm quite pleased with.

I just love this pattern and the dress is very stylish, comfortable and easy to wear, which is pretty much everything I look for in a dress.

So what have I learned?

Well obviously that I should go with my intuition and just buy all the patterns!

Along with several more boxes to put them all in...

Friday, 2 December 2016

Merchant and Mills Camber Set

A couple of months ago, fellow Perth sewer @homesewnstuff put a call out for bra foam for her Sophie swimsuit. I had some spare so offered it to her and she gave me the Camber Set pattern in return - how awesome is that?! This dress is just my style.

I wanted to make it from this green Irish linen that I had bought in Singapore, but I only had one metre. I managed to just squeeze the pattern on to the fabric, but had to piece together the back yoke and line the yoke with white cotton. I changed the neckline to a V-neck, as I prefer a lower neckline, and made a cotton facing to finish it off.

Once the dress was finished, I decided the colour needed a bit of a boost. It was feeling kind of washed out (below). The obvious choice was to dunk it into my indigo dye vat, with which I have been experimenting lately with great vigour. I will have to write about that soon as it's all very exciting. Well at least it is to me. Be prepared for all my future clothes to be blue!

I didn't want to completely lose the original colour of this dress, so I just dyed the the top portion. I lowered it into the dye to chest level and slowly out to create an ombre effect. Indigo dye works quite quickly, so I began slowly lifting the dress out as soon as it had gone in. I counted the seconds and lifted at a rate of about half a centimetre per second, so the shoulders were only in for about a minute. My indigo is quite light, so the effect is subtle, but I think the dye it gives the dress a lift.

After wearing the dress, I decided it needed pockets, so I pieced together two pockets from my tiny scraps and sewed them on.

Perfect and just in time for summer. Thanks @homesewnstuff for the excellent pattern!

Friday, 11 November 2016

The Pattern Review (PR) Lillian Dress and Top

I was very happy recently to be offered the new pattern by Pattern Review - the Lillian dress and top. Deepika at Pattern Review kindly offered her newest pattern to all the contestants from Round three of the PR Sewing Bee competition. I didn't make it past Round three, so this was a very welcome consolation prize!

I love knit dresses and live in them throughout the summer. If I'm not in a dress, chances are I'm in a t-shirt, so this pattern ticks all the boxes. The unique feature of this pattern is the front bib panel, which provides lovely shaping and fit and offers endless opportunities for colour blocking. Clearly there is no colour blocking in my dress. Instead, I sewed pintucks into the front panel before cutting the pattern piece, for some subtle detail.

This fabric is spandex/rayon from a local designer sale at Morrison. It is a gorgeous, soft, drapey, two-way stretch fabric, but unfortunately does get an imprint from pressing (above), even though I used a pressing cloth.

My first project with this pattern was a t-shirt to test the fit. I was between sizes and decided to size down to the Small. I am super happy with the fit. The sleeves on the t-shirt were made according to the pattern and cup the shoulders perfectly. However, I noticed that if I raised, then lowered, my arms, the sleeves stayed in the raised position. For the dress, I slashed and spread the sleeve piece in three places (to gain approx. 2cm total) to open them out a bit. I also cut four sleeve pieces for the dress, so the sleeves are a double layer without a hem. I am pleased with the way the sleeves turned out on the dress. The only other change I made was to lengthen the dress by 5cm.

I tried to lighten these pictures, but they are still a bit dark to see the details. There is a slight pooling of fabric at the lower back, but this doesn't bother me.

The dress has a bound V-neck, which was easy to sew. All the instructions were very clear and the pattern is well thought out, with the PDF pattern only taking up 16 printed pages! I also love that the pattern is named after Lillian Weber, who sewed over 1000 dresses for African girls. PR will donate 20% of the proceeds from this pattern to the 'Little Dresses for Africa' charity.

I just love this dress. The fit is fabulous and the unlimited options with the front panel are very exciting. I will definitely be making more of these. Thank you PR!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Thoughts on sewing, fashion and Ready To Wear (RTW)

Yesterday, like many women across Australia, I attended a beautiful Melbourne Cup lunch. The event was held in a stunning location overlooking the river. The weather was perfect and, with some of my favourite people, I happily drank champagne and watched as the ladies arrived in their finery.

Just to be clear, I hardly ever attend fancy events, which is probably why I looked forward to and enjoyed this one so much. Also, I do not support horse racing. For me, this was all about fun, friends and fashion. Oh and food, let's not forget the food!

So what to wear to such an event? For me it was definitely going to be something I'd made. I tried on the contenders the day before and decided on my StyleArc Toni Designer Dress. I then found some of the leftover fabric and whipped up a fabric flower to clip into my hair. Frivolous fascinators of some sort are pretty much compulsory for the Melbourne Cup!

Everyone looked gorgeous and we all admired each others' outfits. I got the usual eye-rolling from my friends when they asked if I'd made my outfit. I can never understand why they think sewing is such an amazing and elusive talent. Isn't it just a series of simple steps, and incredibly enjoyable ones at that? I was just hoping that the slightly-too-stiff interfacing I'd used at my neckline wasn't too obvious. The girls then chatted about the terrible time they have finding a lovely dress that is age appropriate and not outrageously expensive. Apparently pretty much everything out there either exposes way too much or looks Mother-of-the-bride. "Where can we find dresses that suit someone in between those extremes?" asked one friend. "You need to start a label and call it 'Stuck in the Middle'". The same friend then told me that she'd recently spent $70 having a dress hem taken up and a split lowered, only to find afterwards that the hem didn't even match on either side of the split!!!

I pondered this as I sat down in my home made dress, made from op shop fabric, that had cost me less than $10 plus my time. I don't count the time really as it's always spent so contentedly when I'm sewing. However, I would count my time if I was producing clothes to sell or doing alterations. I've done it before and, for me, it does suck the enjoyment out of sewing.

After lunch and the horse race, the entertainment continued in the form of a fashion parade. I love fashion parades and this one refreshingly featured non-professional models (real people!) with a range of ages and body types. As luck would have it, they were modelling clothes from a local boutique catering to the 'Stuck in the Middle' clientele. 

I am very out of touch with the offerings of boutiques these days as, apart from the supermarket, I only ever enter fabric shops or op shops. As the outfits came out I found myself scrutinising the fit and the fabrics, the pattern placement and the pattern matching. Things leapt out at me that most people just have to settle for: dresses that fitted at the hips and gaped at the bust; something in a spangly polyester that would have been stunning (and far more comfortable) in silk; a dress with a stripe placed unflatteringly at the hip that would have look so much better at the waist. The more I saw, the more I appreciated the sewing skills and experience I have (and lamented the sewing snob I've become!). 

As I joined the coffee queue afterwards, a lovely lady admired my flower and commented on how well it matched my dress. 'They must have come together' she said. 'Oh, I made them' I mumbled, my hand fluttering to my interfacing. But I shouldn't have mumbled, or fluttered. I was rocking a one-of-a-kind dress (and flower) that cost less and was more lovingly made than any RTW dress in the room. I had chosen the fabric and pattern. I'd put the print exactly where I wanted it and made sure it matched up at the seams. I'd chosen a loose fit to accommodate lunch, but if I'd felt like wearing a fitted dress I could have graded between sizes and tweaked the fit until it was perfect pretty blinking good, not to mention making adjustments to hide my lumpy bits.

I'm starting to think that sewing is actually a lot more than just a series of enjoyable construction steps. Not that it's hard, I think anyone could and should learn how to do it, but actually making something forces you to think about fit and fabric. An embarrassing error teaches you the importance of pattern placement. A twisted leg seam or a puckered hem highlights the need to watch grainlines and press properly and a last minute requirement for a fascinator forces you to get creative and rip off a strip of fabric to make one. I realised yesterday that sewing is a glorious combination of all these things. It gives me the freedom to be unique, to make changes, to take risks, to learn. It gives me the power to say no to spangly, ill-fitting or overpriced RTW. It gives me the incentive to improve a bit more each time I make something. It gives me joy and a reason to say no to the housework. I know it's not for everyone, but I'm sure glad it's for me.

And now to try and fix that damned interfacing!

Update: I've just found out that a home made outfit has won the Fashions in the Field competition at the Melbourne Cup for the second year running. Yay!! 

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Jumpers - Burdastyle 02/2016 #121, Named Talvikki and Vogue 8962

As we approached the end of winter in Perth, I was all ready to begin my summer sewing. However, the cold weather dragged on and on through spring this year, so I decided to make just one four more jumpers to wear. I'm so pleased I did, these have been worn constantly over the last few weeks.

First up, this one from the February 2016 issue of Burdastyle magazine. This is the 'High Collar Sweatshirt', No. 121. I loved this design in the magazine and was so keen to make it, when I rediscovered it recently, that I did so despite the fact that I didn't have the collar zips. I assume the zips are there as a practical and decorative feature. Luckily, I can easily get the jumper on and off without having the zips there.

Burdastyle 02/2016 #121

I used oatmeal marle fleece fabric from Fashion Fabrics Club that has been in my fleece drawer for quite some time. It's lovely and cosy. The cord for the drawstring was saved from a boutique paper bag. I always save the cord handles from bags and knew I'd find a use for them one day!

Apart from omitting the zips, the only change I made was to lengthen the cuffs slightly. I used silver grommets for the cord openings.

I was so happy with this jumper that I immediately made another. This time I bought the collar zips and used a striped silver and blue cotton fabric I found on sale in Spotlight. 

I pattern matched the pockets and made a feature of the front panel by offsetting the stripes. The cuffs and hem band are made from navy ribbing.

I was expecting that the addition of the zips to this would enable the top to be worn with different collar variations. However, I don't really like the unzipped look. I don't know if it's the fabric, but it reminds me of the 80s and not in a good way. I don't bother to open the zips when putting this on or off either, so if I made this again it would be zipless.

One last word on the zips - if I were to put them in again, I would probably turn them over so the right side of the zip pulls showed then the collar was turned down. This is personal preference though.

I'm happy with this, but I prefer the plain fleece one.

Next we have another Named Talvikki (my first is blogged here). I love this pattern with the cool neckline darts and side splits. It is also very quick and easy to make.

This one is made from Fleece from Spotlight. I added cuffs with some pale blue piping just for a change.

This has been such a useful addition to my wardrobe. It goes with everything and I love it.

Finally, I made another Vogue 8962 tunic. My first was made with knitted fabric and looks completely different. This one was made with Spotlight fleece that I found reduced from about $25/m to $5/m. It's not my usual style, but it's lovely and soft inside.

I wanted to practise my coverstitching on this pattern as I'm on a mission to get decent coverstitching. It seems to be a skill that is very hit or miss. Coverstitching always seems to work better on thicker or more stable fabric and I had quite good results this time.

I chose orange thread to match the background of the fabric and highlighted the design lines and hems with coverstitching.

I lined the collar with turquoise fabric to match the cheeks of the faces on the fabric.

Although this fabric isn't quite me, the bold print is fun and the style of the tunic is great to wear. I've worn this a lot more than I expected.

OK, I think I've fulfilled my winter quota of sewing now and got good wear out of everything. Now it's time to bring on summer. Come on Perth!


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