Thursday, 30 July 2015

Xerea Dress - Summer version

I was so happy with my recent winter version of the Pauline Alice Xerea Dress, I decided to quickly whip up another one to wear on our recent Singapore holiday. This time I made the dress exactly as specified in the pattern. 

I found this printed 100% cotton in Spotlight. It features pictures of vintage Italian motor scooters being ridden by gorgeous girls. I'd hoped, as the wearer of this seductive print, that I might absorb some of the glamour myself, but it seems to have eluded me thus far (hat hair and backpack strap wrinkles duly noted. I may have got away with wearing those neoprene Crocs).

These pictures are taken on Victoria Street, Singapore following my successful fabric shopping stint and just before a fabulous lunch in a Turkish restaurant.

Stop posing for blog pics Mum, you need to buy these for us!

 The restaurant we chose is behind me and along on the right in the picture above.

Anyway, enough about food and back to the dress. I had bought a navy cotton for the side panels, yoke and sleeves, but a vision of this flower embroidered denim came to me as I was dozing off to sleep the night before cutting out the pattern. It was an op shop purchase from way back and I had just enough. I like it! I think the dress would have looked good sleeveless, but I decided to be sun-smart and protect the old shoulders with the short sleeved version of the pattern.

Clarke Quay, Singapore

I like the fabric combo in this dress, it feels fun to wear. I love the pockets and I love the style. I worried that the dress was a bit short, but Mr M. disagreed. I'm not sure I'm entirely convinced! It was the perfect dress to take on holiday to stay cool and practical (as long as I didn't bend over too far). I even washed it and wore it again and you can hardly even tell it wasn't ironed!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Fabric shopping in Singapore

Last week, we had a family holiday in Singapore. It was mostly all about sightseeing and family fun, but I did manage to drag the boys along for a spot of fabric shopping.

I had done a bit of research before the trip, but my best resource was a blog post by Sue from Fadanista.

Finding ourselves in Little India early in the holiday, we passed the odd fabric shop and alterations guy sewing on the street in between shops selling phones, fruit, flowers and more phones. It was very lively.

However, Mustafa's on Syed Alwi Road was where I was headed. This shop was an experience in itself. To say that you could buy anything there would not be an understatement. There were floors and floors, packed with people buying everything from pills and potions to designer sneakers. I wouldn't say it's cheap, but probably the prices are slightly lower than elsewhere in Singapore. The lower basement (B2) houses a huge fabric store. One side is filled with rolls of fabric, mostly polyester (below).

Then another section has lovely cotton shirting ($8-26/m) and Valentino suit fabric (didn't see prices)! At the time of writing, Aussie and Singapore dollars are worth about the same. One Singapore dollar is worth about US$0.73.

I didn't buy anything there, but it was fascinating to look around.

Following Sue's recommendation, we spent a morning on Arab Street. This road is lined with little shops selling silk, cotton and lots of dazzly sequinned fabric. At first glance the shops all look similar, but each does sell a different selection.

I poked about in a few shops, while owners looked rather desperate for me to buy. The best shop I found, although I didn't go in them all, was the Mahaco Silk Shop. The man in there was very friendly and helpful. The silks were beautiful but, at $48/m I didn't buy any.

This wall was covered with folded pieces of handprinted cotton. "All handstamped, not machine", the owner assured me. They were beautiful and I bought some for $15/m.

Arab Street is not just for fabrics. There are some lovely Turkish lamps, rugs and ornaments to tempt you, as well as a few cafes for the boys to wait in. One street back from Arab Street, on Victoria Lane, we found a lovely pedestrian-only road with a little market and fabulous Turkish restaurants along it. We had the most delicious lunch there at outside tables covered with blue and white Turkish tiles.

My last stop, also recommended by Sue, was Chinatown. The fabric place took quite some finding, but was worth it. The textile shops are housed on the first floor of this building, People's Park, above the food hall. Confusingly there are People's Park buildings all along the road and this one is set back away from the road.

I'm 90% sure it's here (below) where is says 'People's Park Complex Food Centre'. Mind you, I'd walked up and down the road so many times by that point I wasn't quite sure where I was!

Here's an idea of what it's like inside, lots of little open shops with different selections of fabrics. There was a huge range here and the fabrics appealed to me a lot more than at Mustafa's. The prices were reasonable. I bought some lovely Irish linen for $13/m. I could have gone mad, but restrained myself. It's also worth checking out the haberdashery shops on this level.

Again, there are plenty of eating places for weary boys!

Phew, that was one big day. The whole family enjoyed it though as there was plenty to see other than fabric. After Chinatown, we walked the short distance to Clarke Quay and relaxed with a Singapore sling! Note that these are around $9 each during happy hour at the Clarke Quay waterside restaurants. Better than $36 each at the Raffles!

So that's it for the fabric shopping I managed to squeeze in. I will just mention Universal Studios for anyone planning to visit with their children as I found it difficult to find the information I needed for our visit there. You can buy tickets online but need to print them out. We bought tickets at one of the many tourist information centres dotted around the city. Tickets from there were a few dollars cheaper than at the gate and included $5 food and shopping vouchers. It also eliminated queueing at the gate on the day. Get there at opening time (10am) to beat the crowds a bit. We went on a summer Thursday when local children were at school (I think Friday is a holiday, so probably busier). We headed straight for the big rides where queueing times were 5-15 minutes. After less than an hour the queueing times were 40 minutes. You can buy an Express Pass at any retail store within the park for $50 (single use) or $70 (multiple use). We bought three of the $50 ones for the four of us as I don't like roller coasters. The rides are printed on the back and are crossed off by the operator as you use them. I would recommend these to avoid long waiting times although, by mid to late afternoon, even the express lines had a 40 minute wait. A couple of times I used my husband's pass to go on the gentler rides with the children. The best place to eat is the food court near Jurassic Park. We had delicious prawn laksa for $12 each there. Don't miss the Waterworld show. At mid-afternoon we walked over to the Hard Rock Hotel and had a sneaky swim in their pool. We just walked in as if we were guests. It was bliss to cool off and relax a bit. There's a bar and snacks for sale at the pool. We then returned to Universal Studios for a while. We left the park when it closed at 7pm then waited an hour in the taxi queue. Avoid that if you can! We had a great day there and the boys, aged 9 and 12, loved it. The big rides were a bit much for my nine year old and certainly for me. I brought my knitting!

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Xerea Dress - Pauline Alice Patterns

The Xerea Dress, by Pauline Alice, was first brought to my attention when I spied the gorgeous Moomintroll version made by Inna of Thewallinna. I had to have it, despite it being a summer dress and the middle of winter here. Click, click and it was mine mwahahaha.

I immediately raided my stash for suitable winter fabric and pulled out this, a recent purchase from 'Fashion Fabrics Online'. It's a ponte knit in colours bright enough to warm any dreary winter day. To tone down the print a bit I used black ponte for the yoke, side panels and cuffs.

Speaking of the cuffs, they and the long sleeves were my own variation. The pattern comes with short sleeves, which I lengthened for my winter version. 

Xerea dress line drawing
The other change I made, purely for warmth, was to omit the V in the back yoke. I cut a high back neckline with the yoke on the fold (rather than two yoke pieces for the V-back version), then cut the neckline a bit lower once it was sewn in place. It was all eyeballed in this case, but if I'd had a t-shirt pattern handy I would have traced the back neckline from that.

I love the pockets on this dress and their construction was very straightforward. Since this fabric was a bit stretchy, I had to take in the side seams, which made the pocket openings a bit narrower than intended. They are still fine though.

The length of the dress is short! I am around 5'10. I feel it's fine with leggings though. Also, the neckline is fairly high, which balances the short hemline.

I'm very happy with this dress. It is fun to wear and I got a lot of compliments the first time I strutted out in it. The pattern is well drafted, the instructions are clear and this is fast to whip up. I also like that the pattern pieces offer lots of colour blocking opportunities. I can't wait to make more!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Army-style Patrones jacket - Patrones Issue 34, No. 55

Can I just say that I'm a little bit excited about this jacket?!

This has been such a long time in the planning and finally it is here. I first saw the pattern in Patrones magazine, Issue 34, a year or two ago and spent ages trying to find the right fabric. I ended up finding this ripstop cotton on the other side of the world and it was just what I wanted. You may have seen my recent post where I made a wearable muslin of this pattern in bleach splattered fabric. I made a couple of mistakes on that one due to having only Spanish instructions, but I love it and have worn it many times. I wrote detailed notes for myself on where I went wrong and what I learnt the first time and, I'm happy to say, this jacket went almost without a hitch.

Patrones Issue 34, No. 55
Patrones Issue 34, I can't find a date for this magazine.
The pockets and detailing really make this jacket and I was careful to take my time and get it as true to the picture as I could. I assembled the pockets, and the tab that joins them, separately and sewed the whole structure on to the partly assembled jacket so the placement would be right. The lower pocket flap has a double welt opening for the tab to pass through. The lower button is sewn to the tab, but not the pocket so I can still easily slip my hands inside for warmth or stray chocolates if I'm lucky.

The tabs were sewn to the jacket at the waist for the belt to pass through, front and back.


I chose to keep the jacket unlined as designed. To keep the inside neat, I constructed the entire jacket with French seams, apart from the side seams which were neatened with the overlocker. I made some bias binding to finish the edge of the facings. I'm wearing my ponte pants and 'Mannish' gathered blouse in case you were wondering!

I decided to leave the hood off this jacket. I had lots of trouble with it on my first version (to the point of accidentally ripping it in half as I unpicked it for the umpteenth time), so saved some stress and omitted it this time.

The only other changes I made were to leave the buckle off the belt (I couldn't find one the right size) and to lengthen the sleeves a bit.

I haven't got quite the worn-in look of the magazine picture, but that may come with time.

I used metal buttons and snaps to finish it off and to coordinate with the metal zip.

I am thrilled with this jacket. It feels like a big achievement to have come to the end of such a long process. Many hours were spent plotting and planning, deciphering the pattern, scrutinising the pattern photo, jotting notes and, of course, carefully sewing. The fabric is perfect and the 3% lycra provides just enough stretch to make this really comfortable.

I love it when a plan comes together!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Boucle sweater knit - what a great fabric discovery!

While places in the world with seemingly endless fabric choices (Hello America) have probably been sewing with this for ages, it's a new discovery for me. And I love it! It is boucle sweater knit from 'Fashion Fabrics Club', which I found while choosing my prize for the Pattern Review jeans contest.

The fabric is the weight of fleece and is slightly fluffy inside like fleece. The outside is textured a bit like towelling and it's soft and cosy and fabulous. I've made a jumper and a jacket with my, almost 2 yard, length.

Image source
For the jumper, my inspiration was this picture (above).

I used the Briar t-shirt pattern as the basis for this. I lengthened the front and back and lowered the front hemline curve. I made the neckline higher, drafted long sleeves and added cuffs and a hemline band in black ponte.

Simple to make and cosy to wear.

With the remainder of my fabric I made a jacket using my old favourite Jalie 2795. I used black ponte again for contrast on the shoulder pieces, collar, cuffs and hip band.

I have made this pattern up many, many times. It's a great pattern but, in some of my versions (adult and child versions), the jacket was a bit short. 

Jalie 2795
This time I added 5cm to the length of the jacket. I left the pocket openings where they were so I have lovely, deep pockets in this jacket.

I also added some piping for a bit more interest. It is made from a knit remnant from Potter's Textiles and is just a folded strip of fabric, not real piping. I'm not sure if I love the piping, but it's ok. It's a bit hard to see but I doubled the cuff length. I can fold the cuffs down to the tops of my fingers on cold days.

I bought a longer zip so it would fit the new jacket length. This one was from Spotlight.

You can see the boucle fabric quite well in this picture, although it doesn't really do it justice. Oh yes, I also did a bit of quilting on the shoulder panel. 

Jalie patterns seem to have lots of little tricks for getting a great finish on garments. These pockets, for example, are so easy to make with the excellent instructions provided.

This is just the best jacket for wearing inside and out in Perth's cooler weather, where the houses are often colder inside than outside. Heating, what heating?

I've had this finished for a couple of weeks and have been wearing it non-stop. I'll certainly be looking out for more of this fabric locally in the future. I hope I find some!


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