Thursday, 22 February 2018

StyleArc Sadie Tunic and Closet Case Patterns Sasha Trousers


I've had my eye on both these patterns since they were released and they did not disappoint! I bought the StyleArc Sadie Tunic pattern after seeing Blogless Anna's gorgeous versions here and here. I've had this silk for quite some time after snatching it up at a local Morrison sale. I think quite a few of the Perth sewers have the same fabric. It is soft and dreamy to wear. I'm not even going to tell you what my teenage son said about the print. I think it's rather elegant!

The standout feature of this pattern is the sleeve design. It is so cool and interesting and I should have got a better picture of it. I was careful to follow the instructions and it was fairly straightforward to put together.

I also love the curved hem and the neckline and just everything really. The proportions seem to work very well together.

The back has a centre seam to accomodate a button and loop closure at the neckline. I ended up skipping this as I can easily fit the top over my head without it. Next time I may cut the back on the fold.

OK, now I'll just tuck that tunic in so you can see the pants. These are the Closet Case Patterns Sasha Trousers. (Embarrassingly I always have to stop myself saying that name in a Canadian accent since I heard Heather Lou speaking on the 'I love to sew' podcast! By the way, that episode is worth a listen if you haven't heard it yet).

I spent ages examining the sizing of these pants before cutting them out as the ones in the pattern pictures looked too tight to me. I wanted mine fitted, but not super tight. I read the blog posts, I looked at the size charts and got myself into a bit of a tizz. In the end I decided I was overthinking it and just made the size according to my measurements.

I made a toile and did a couple of fit modifications according to this very helpful blog post. I could have been fussier on the fit, but I had had enough of taking back selfies over my shoulder so got started. 

I am very happy with the result. These pants are so comfy and look smart and modern. The fit is just right and the stretchy bengaline allows easy movement. As an added bonus they go with my new blouse. I'm ready for an outing!

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Tessuti Ruby Dress

I've had my eye on this pattern for quite some time, particularly after seeing versions by Rachel on Instagram. I also loved some of the variations posted on the Tessuti blog. Actually one of them, the Bondi Dress, has been made into a pattern in its own right and released today.

I made this a while ago and wore it on Christmas Day. It's made from an indigo-printed linen from Tessuti, which I've also seen in Potter Textiles. I bought the pattern and fabric with a gift voucher from a sewing friend and I'm so happy with both. I love indigo in all its variations, so this is perfect.

The pattern has slightly cut-away armholes and a high neck. I added pockets in the side seams and I think I added some length, but I can't remember now! The edges are bound with blue, ready-made bias binding.

The back neckline has a little opening and a button closure.

This is such an easy, comfortable dress and the bound neckline and armholes are very flattering. The skirt has just the right amount of flare. I love this dress so much. I can't believe I waited so long to buy the pattern!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Named Wyome Boyfriend Jeans and StyleArc Brooklyn Knit Top

About three years ago I made a couple of pairs of Named Wyome Boyfriend Jeans. Those were made in a size 38 and were quite close-fitting. This time I wanted a looser fit like the cool kids I see on Pinterest. So, for this pair I went up two sizes to a size 42.

Screenshot from Pinterest 'Boyfriend Jeans'

For my previous, tighter pairs I had altered the crotch curve for a better fit. This time I didn't make any alterations to see if the original cut would give that classic boyfriend look in the larger size. I think it did! The only changes I made this time were to enlarge the back pocket and use a zip, rather than a button fly.

To achieve that faded, worn-in look, I used a gorgeous enzyme washed denim from Tessuti, purchased with a gift voucher from the best internet sewing friend ever. This colour denim doesn't seem to be available any more. It is soft and gorgeous and perfect for these jeans. I topstitched with gold Rasant thread from Homecraft Textiles and added a leather tag. I managed to stamp the B on backwards, but you'd have to be looking way too closely to notice when I'm wearing them.

Jeans topstitching is one of my favourite things to do. So satisfying!

These photos were taken months ago when it was cold enough for snuggly jumpers. I don't know where the time has gone. This particular snuggly jumper is the Brooklyn Knit Top by StyleArc. I've made this one in a quilted knit fabric from Textile Traders. It's a simple pattern with pockets and a roll neck and the resulting jumper is cosy and slouchy. I wore this a lot over the winter.

Now I can slouch about with the best of them!

I love both these patterns and I am very happy with the looser fit on these jeans compared to the previous pair I made in my 'proper' size. I have worn these so much since making them as they always feel so comfortable and fashionable. The colour also goes with everything.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

A new Amare Dress for a Melbourne Cup lunch

This week it was that time of year again when the ladies of Oz grab their finery and fascinators and sashay off to a fancy lunch for some horse race or other. These days the Melbourne Cup lunch is the fanciest event I attend all year, so I decided a new dress was in order.

Enter the Amare Dress by Naughty Bobbin Patterns!

I have made this dress before (back when Naughty Bobbin Patterns was Savage Coco Patterns) and I wore it to a Melbourne Cup lunch, but it's such a lovely pattern that it was my first choice for this year's do. The dress has a closely-fitting wrap style bodice and a tea length circle skirt. I had bought two metres of this floral fabric for $20 in a local designer's closing down sale. It was apparently Italian in origin and I loved the print and drape, which I thought was perfect for this dress.

The problem was (gasp) that two metres wasn't really enough fabric. After playing around with the pattern pieces I decided that I could make it work by cutting the dress from the opened-out fabric, rather than on the fold, and by slashing and squeezing the skirt pattern piece just enough to get it to fit. This involved making several evenly spaced cut lines fanning out from the waist to the hem and overlapping them just a bit at the hemline to bring in the hem without affecting the waist size. I also made a couple of minor fitting adjustments to the bodice based on my last version. The resulting skirt was less than completely circular but it's not noticeable.

I had happily spent a morning adjusting the pattern and laying it out for cutting. I took my time and enjoyed the process. Then, almost as my scissors were poised for the first cut, the doorbell rang. It was my bossy sister, who beetled in and told me she needed me to trim her hair. On her way to find a suitable hairdressing chair, she spotted my fabric on the table. I held my breath hoping she wouldn't ask about it. No such luck. "What are YOU making?" she demanded. I showed her the pattern hoping she wouldn't utter her famous words. "Nope, it's all wrong" she pronounced. "It's the wrong style, the wrong length and it won't look good on you. You should wear shorter dresses and show off your legs". She then held up the fabric, scattering pattern pieces in her wake, to demonstrate how wrong it all was. Feeling a bit crushed, I suggested that we do her hair. The haircut proceeded much as the fashion advice had done, with my sister instructing me on every cutting detail and airily waving away any suggestions from me. Against my better judgement, I dutifully cut some layers into her long hair, which turned out to be a bad idea. I offered to fix it but that was declined. Eventually, after perusing a few more dress patterns and making sure I had taken her advice on board, it was time for her to go. "Bugger off then" I called as I closed the gate. "I'm glad I ruined your hair!"*

As a result of this encounter I bundled the pattern and fabric into a ball and went back to the drawing board. I then spent countless hours looking through my patterns, pinterest and the Burdastyle website. Nothing appealed to me. After a couple of weeks of this I bravely decided to ignore my sister and continue with my original plan. My inner serenity began to return as I smoothed out my fabric and pressed the pedal to sew those first few stitches. Then, as I tried on the almost finished dress, I knew I'd made the right decision. Hooray for following your heart and ignoring bossy sisters!

*She knows I love her really!

As is customary for race attire, a hat or fascinator was in order. I decided upon the latter and set to work making a fabric peony with some scraps from the dress and other remnants that seemed to coordinate. I used a tutorial I found online with a free pattern that I used without adjusting the size. I added a couple of dried flower things from an arrangement in my lounge room, sewed on a hair clip and that was done. It turned out rather well I thought and a nice size for a fascinator.


Also, while on the subject of accessories, I made a matching Harriet Bra! Well, why not?

So, after my false start with the dress, I was off and racing to my lunch. It was lovely spending time with some great friends in a beautiful location and much fun was had admiring everyone's outfits. My dress got many compliments and the overwhelming verdict was that I was right and my sister was wrong. Ha!

Monday, 23 October 2017

Gaia Quilted Coat - Named 'Earth Science' Collection


The second pattern I tested for their new 'Earth Science' Collection was the Gaia Quilted Coat. This is a loose-fitting coat with panels perfect for playing with different fabrics. The Named sample coat uses quilted fabric for some of the panels. I thought I didn't have any suitable fabric in my stash until I checked my drawer of upholstery fabrics and found some offcuts that looked like they would work together. These are from Remida recycling centre and consist of a velvety olive green fabric, a velvety floral fabric and a textured blue fabric.

The panelling on the coat is very attractive. I particularly like the criss-cross junction of four panels at the shoulder. The olive velvet was very drapey and doesn't hold its shape quite as it should on the sleeve, but it is lovely to wear.

The coat is fully lined and closes with three large press studs. I found mine at Spotlight.

As always, the instructions were clear and included tips for creating a lovely finish on the coat, inside and out. Most sewers with some experience, and the willingness to be slow and accurate, could make this. I was also very pleased that the PDF printed on the pages in such a way that they did not require trimming. That was a very welcome surprise!

Named patterns have a modern, flattering and polished design and this is no exception. The seamlines, shape and finish of this coat make it very cool to look at and easy to wear. Those deep pockets are irresistable for warming cold hands.

Coat season doesn't last long in Perth, but I will be reaching for this whenever I get the chance.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

A holiday in the outback

I have just returned from an incredible holiday with my family in the very remote outback of Western Australia (WA). There is not a lot of sewing or fashion to discuss here as I took my oldest clothes. That red dirt gets into everything and doesn't come out!

WA is huge, about a third of the size of the United States or covering several European countries, and I have only travelled a very small part of it, despite living here most of my life. It was time to change that and explore this amazing state.

We hired a big 4WD Land Cruiser built for the outback, complete with rooftop tent and built-in fridge. The route took us north from Perth, camping overnight in Mt Magnet and Newman and arriving in Karijini National Park after 15 hours of driving.

The roads were very quiet apart from the road trains, which shook the car as we passed them.

I had expected the landscape to be very boring, but it was actually quite amazing and beautiful. There were hills and massive termite mounds and ever-changing vegetation and flowers, like this native Mulla Mulla.

Karijini itself is spectacular. The landscape is peppered with massive gorges, formed over millions of years. This was teen boy paradise and I almost stopped breathing a few times watching my sons scampering over terrifying precipices!

This is Dales Gorge. Apart from the lookout and maybe a railing further down (if you're lucky) there are no safety features in the gorges. You have to negotiate the steep paths, narrow ledges and cold water yourself. I loved it, but it is certainly not for everyone as you need to be pretty fit and very sure-footed.

This is Circular Pool at Dales Gorge. Beautiful, but absolutely freezing, even on a hot day!

We stayed four days at the Karijini Eco Retreat campsite and visited six gorges in that time. This is Joffre Gorge, quite difficult terrain, but stunning.

The bottom of the gorges were quite flat, but there were parts where we had to cling to rocks to get through.

This natural amphitheatre was just amazing. The air was filled with the loud screeching of cockatoos, which were nesting in the rock walls. My 14 year old climbed the waterfall while we rested. He came back with his eyes shining, telling us how this was the most spectacular experience of his entire life. My husband was not surprised as he had just been thinking the same thing!

This is Hancock Gorge, another difficult one, but the rock ledges were a huge hit with the boys. I loved it too, but my husband had to turn back at the 'Spider Walk'

This is the Spider Walk:

We spent hours in each gorge, climbing, walking, swimming, picnicing and exploring.

Kalamina Gorge was much easier to negotiate and was very pretty:

After four days in Karijini, we drove west towards the coast for six hours along a hot, very remote stretch of road. I willed the car not to break down the whole way. You would not want to be stranded out there. We stopped for the night an hour outside Coral Bay at Bullara station, a working cattle station with a campsite.

This place was absolutely fantastic. Such a lovely, quirky campground made with tin and old equipment from the station's shearing days. Check out the showers and 'lava-trees':

They were all different. This one rained lovely hot water, heated by a fire. Bliss to finally wash off some of that red dirt.

The resident, tame, young kangaroos were a big hit. This one came up and nuzzled my hand.

After a lovely morning tea under the wide verandahs of the Bullara homestead, we continued to our next destination of Coral Bay. This small town has stunning white sand beaches and you can snorkel the amazing Ningaloo Reef right from the beach.

The area is home to all manner of marine species from whales, to sharks and rays, turtles, sea snakes, poisonous jellyfish and a myriad of colourful fish. Of all these things, the jellyfish worried me the most as some species are so small they are almost impossible to see and people are killed or hospitalised every year from their stings. To reduce our risk, I made full body lycra suits with hoods for the whole family before we went. I am not going to show the boys in their full glory as I'm sure I would never be forgiven. Suffice to say that we looked hilarious (especially me and my husband), but stayed safe and were protected from the sun!

A walk along the beach from Coral Bay took us to this Reef shark nursery. We stood in the water while metre-long sharks, large rays and the occasional baby shark swam all around us. Incredible! Reef sharks are considered safe and attacks on humans are extremely rare.

Look at all these sharks in the water with me:

We did a boat snorkelling tour while we were there, which was fantastic. We saw loads of fish and coral, sea turtles, dolphins and even a sea snake, but the highlight was swimming with a 3.5m manta ray.

From there, it was time to make our way home. First stop was Wooramel, another working cattle station and campsite with natural hot springs. These 33C pools were pure bliss.

This was our camp set-up for the trip. It worked out really well, but the roof tent was a bit of a hassle to put up and down.

We had everything we needed, even a coffee machine for our morning latte. Here I am brewing up a cup on the propane stove before we left Wooramel for a long drive down the coast to stay at Jurien Bay, then home.

This was a unique and incredible 12 day trip that the whole family loved and will remember forever. I just wanted to keep on travelling, but I would have missed my sewing room after a while. In total we travelled 3400km, which is the same as the distance from Perth to Melbourne. 


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