Monday, 28 July 2014

Bombshell in Borneo

I was very keen to see what all the fuss was about with this pattern which is, of course, the Bombshell Swimsuit by Closet Case Files. I have made swimwear before and not only enjoyed it, but ended up with bathers that I love. It was time to do it again. I found this brown lycra with white and gold hearts in my stash from a lycra buying spree when a swimwear manufacturer had a moving sale some time ago. I went a bit crazy buying more lycra than I could ever possibly use - so unlike me!

I was all set to start making View B (which I love) with the triangular shaped bodice pieces, and was just checking the sewalong for instructions, when the ever helpful LJ, aged 11, wandered over. Not having learned from past experience, I casually asked him which style he preferred. "Definitely this one" was the emphatic response as he pointed to View A. The wind nudged slightly out of my sails. "Oh why?" I asked. "The other one is too...boobalicious" said LJ. "Oh ha ha" said I. "One day you will appreciate boobalicious". "I already do" came the reply. "Just not on you".

Sails completely deflated, I printed off View A.

Then, just to taunt him, I highlighted my cleavage with gold lycra.

And wore my Fabulous Hat.

I mostly used the sewalong instructions to make my Bombshell. The instructions were great, but I didn't enjoy making this much at all. All those gathers and layers made for a cumbersome sewing experience that looked as if it was going to be a massive fail almost until the end of the process.

One reason for this was that, as suggested by the sewalong, I added three inches to the length of the inner layer (which meant adding 4.75 inches to the gathered layer) to make this fit my height of around 5'10". I even did a muslin of the inner layer and it seemed ok. It was not ok. It was and still is far too long in the body and when held up looks more like a knee-length dress than a pair of bathers. You can see in the photos that I have tried to distribute this length evenly from below the bust to the hips, but the gathers just want to congregate at my waist, accentuating my tummy in an unflattering way and looking uneven and belt-like in the back. 

The fit otherwise is fine and I will use the unaltered bodice piece if I make this again. I made size 12, which was one size up from my measurements, after hearing that the bathers can be difficult to get into. I think this was the right size for me.

 So, in summary, aside from the trials and tribulations in sewing these bathers, the too-long bodice causing uneven ruching and the lack of boobaliciousness, I am quite pleased with my Bombshell. It isn't as sleek and comfortable in the water as my last pair of bathers, but I think it has potential in the looks department. Actually, after looking at these pictures again, I think I will make another...and next time it will be View B for Boobalicious. So there LJ!

Pictures taken on Pulau Gaya Island, Borneo. We had just seen a monkey in the surrounding forest and, taking heed of the 'Beware Monkeys' sign, hightailed it back to the beach before it could do anything dangerous!

Monday, 21 July 2014

My Fabulous Hat!

Gaya Island, Sabah

I was recently inspired by the hat-making adventures of Savage Coco (here and here) to embark on my own foray into millinering (is that a word?). And what better occasion for a new hat than an impending holiday to Borneo?

Upon consultation with Coco, I was informed that I should use Vogue 7600 in 'fat-headed diva' size. I chose view B, for maximum sun coverage.

 After pondering my stash at length, I decided upon this brown lace for the hat. I had bought it as a $2 remnant from Textile Traders, so nothing lost if I didn't like it. The brim is made from a double layer of my thickest interfacing, which I heat-fused together. I sewed the lace directly to the interfacing brim so the white showed through the lace. The crown is lined with white cotton fabric to match the white of the interfacing. The join of the crown and brim is neatened with a wide ribbon, which doubles as an adjustable elastic casing.

The hat was straightforward and enjoyable to make, although the rows of stitching around the brim (1cm apart) took a lot longer than expected. The interfaced brim holds well when folded up around the outer edge as shown, but did tend to droop a bit with wear (and water - explained later), requiring adjustment. I would probably add a third layer of interfacing next time. The hat also folded neatly into quarters for storing in a bag without damage, which was very handy for travel.

The verdict: I love this hat. I really like the uniqueness of the lace and the brim provides wonderful sun coverage. My sons, however, were less than complimentary about it. To cause them maximum embarrassment (isn't that what mums are for?), I began referring to it as 'my fabulous hat' and made sure I strutted about in it at every opportunity. I was doing just this on our first day in Kota Kinabalu, when the brim drooped and I walked headlong into a small and dainty local lady. LJ, aged 11, practically wet his pants at this and brought it up every half hour for the rest of the holiday for renewed hilarity.

Shortly after the collision incident - Kota Kinabalu waterfront markets
A few days after that we headed up Mount Kinabalu for the day. Unfortunately it rained, but my fabulous hat provided splendid shelter for the five of us (my mum came on holiday too). Eventually though, the torrential downpour proved even too much for the fabulous hat. All were downcast at the hat's demise, except my mum who's $2 plastic bag raincoat kept her drier than any of our hi-tech raingear!

I'm happy to report that the hat is now restored to its former glory after a quick dry on the clothesline. I wonder what adventures I will have in it next!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Burdastyle Blouse (08/2013 #108) and Jamie Jeans

I know, I know...more Jamie jeans. What can I say? I love this pattern, even though these turned out a bit loose fitting - more on that later.

First, the blouse. It's pattern number 108 from the August 2013 issue of Burdastyle. I was hoping to garner some of the edginess and sex appeal of the model (below), but I think I missed the mark on several levels. Regardless, I'm still quite pleased with this blouse.

Burdastyle 08/2013 #108
I used a busy border print chiffon from Textile Traders. I like the colours and the fabric, but the print makes it difficult to see any of the blouse's details, particularly the neck tie feature. Speaking of which, mine turned out far shorter than the picture in the magazine. I'm not sure what happened there.

I rarely sew with chiffon but I was determined to push myself and do French seams on this blouse, rather than just overlocking the raw edges. I measured the seam allowances carefully and got sewing and turning and sewing again. The blouse ended up way too tight and I nearly flung it at the wall.

After stewing on it for a while, and deciding that I would not be beaten by a few seams, I set to work with the unpicker and re-sewed the bugger.

That worked and I managed to finish the blouse without further incident.

The sleeves are gargantuan in their puffiness, which is not my usual style, but I guess it looks ok in this light fabric.

The cuffs are finished with two little turquoise buttons.

Oh look, you can see the neck ties if I stand like this!

Now, the jeans - Jamie's by Named, as I mentioned. This time I made them from dark, stretch denim and used some topstitching thread in a mustardy colour, just like in real proper jeans from a shop!

 The denim I used was a good weight and had lots of stretch. Mistake. In retrospect, I should have used a less stretchy denim or made the jeans much narrower as, in my experience, very stretchy denim does not produce a good fit with this pattern. Compare the fit of my grey Jamie jeans (below) to the denim ones. Both are made exactly the same size, but the grey fabric has far less stretch than the denim.

It's a shame the denim jeans are a bit baggy as I love everything else about them.

In an attempt to disguise the fact that all the jeans I wear are made from the same pattern, I changed the back pocket detail on these by adding strips of gold leather to make a cross. I also added a second row of topstitching. Now no one will ever know!

 Some detail of the front topstitching:

 So there we have it. A new outfit to strut about the park in.

 Happy sewing!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Julia Cardigan

When I saw Laura's version of the 'Julia Cardigan' by Mouse House Creations I thought it looked ideal as a cute little thrown-on for the cooler weather. I bought the PDF pattern there and then and quickly made three - an oatmeal one and two pink ones, one for me and one for my Mum for Mother's Day.

There are several possible variations with this pattern with regards to sleeve length and the construction of the curved band. The band can be made with a single layer of fabric and hemmed or, as I've done, with a double fabric layer. I like the neater finish of the double fabric layer, but it does use a lot of fabric to cut out those big curved pieces. Also, the lightweight fabric I've used seems to cause the double band to wrinkle and not sit as nicely as Laura's ponte knit version.

In fact, my oatmeal version used up so much fabric that I had to use a scrap of panne velvet in a similar colour for the back piece.

Both my cardis are made from fine knitted fabric. They are very comfortable and easy to wear and, despite not being thrilled with the wrinkles, I find myself reaching for these a lot.

I will definitely try to make at least one more with the single-layer curved band. And one in thicker fabric. Oh, and maybe a short sleeved one for summer. I think I've got my money's worth with this pattern!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

My happy jacket (Burdastyle 12/2012 #139)

When I spied this jacket in the December 2012 issue of Burdastyle magazine I instantly fell in love with it. I even bought some fabric to make it - a grey knit - but the fabric choice didn't feel right and I put it on the back burner (read: pile of stashed fabric so high it's threatening to topple and crush me, the dog and two sewing machines). Then, last week while perusing Textile Traders' sale, I found a stand of this soft, fluffy deliciousness in several different colours. I dragged a few rolls over to the mirror (I wish there were more mirrors in fabric shops) and began my decision-making process. I settled on this lovely golden, mustardy, breastfed baby poo colour. It's a good autumn colour and just all round bright and happy. I love this fabric and can't stop touching it! It is called 'double brushed flannel poly rayon', which means it's washable (no probs in the machine, I've checked) and, I thought, non-fraying, so perfect for this jacket featuring raw edges.

Burdastyle 12/2012 #139 - almost the same as mine!

OK, so it turns out it does fray, which was a bit of a bummer since I didn't realise this until after I'd cut out the jacket. Luckily I managed to overcome the issue by changing the exposed seam allowances to non-exposed ones and using lots and lots of ribbon to encase all the other raw edges.

There's ribbon everywhere! I used the ribbon folded over to bind the lower edge of the jacket, the sleeve edges, the pocket openings and the hood. The ribbon was used flat to hide the seam allowances of the hood and sleeve cuffs as well as to finish off the zip edges at the front and the hood. The remaining inside seams were finished with the overlocker.

This was not a difficult jacket to make. I used my usual size 38 in Burda with no alterations. The sleeves are made extra long and turned back as a feature, so no problem with sleeve length.

I am pleased with the non-exposed seams now, so it was a happy accident that the fabric frayed! I think it gives a cleaner finish. I also like the ribbon detailing, just enough shine to add some interest here and there.

The hood is enormous and I doubt that I'll use it. The stiffness of the zip does make it stick out a bit, but I don't mind as it goes with the cute and casual style of the jacket.

The lovely zips were from Homecraft Textiles. My favourite place for zips in Perth. The two zips and ribbon cost $23, so a bit expensive, but worth it to get the right colour and nice metal finish. The fabric was $20/m with 40% off, so this cost just over $40 to make.

Speaking of the zips. I used a little trick that I worked out from making my Jalie 2795 jackets. In order to get the front matching up a much as possible, I sewed all the pockets except the row of stitching across the top of the pockets (across my tummy, see above) before inserting the zip. That way I only had to match the edges at the top and bottom of the zip and not worry about matching anything in between. Then, before adding the ribbon trim and topstitching the zip, I sewed the top of the pockets making sure the line of stitching was nice and straight all the way across the front. Voila, nice and neat!

Here is the jacket unzipped:

Hood up:

Zipped right up:

And open, Batman-style!

I won't be wearing it Batman-style.

I am over the moon with my soft and cosy Happy Jacket and pleased I waited for the right fabric to call to me. I'm going to wear it all winter long!

The jeans are my polka dot Jamie jeans. I love these jeans and wear them often. The fabric has minimal stretch and they hold their shape really well throughout the day.

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