Wednesday, 25 February 2015

StyleArc Tammy knit dress x3 and with a variation!


The StyleArc Tammy knit dress is such a simple pattern, but something about its stylish and flattering design has got me completely hooked. My first blue and white version has been in such high rotation that I could hardly wait for it to come off the washing line. It was time for some more Tammys.


Ship Ahoy (she says in a desperate attempt to keep the poses interesting)! First up I have this nautical striped version made from ponte knit from Spotlight. I didn't change the sizing of the pattern, so it is marginally more snug-fitting than the other dresses I made from lighter-weight knits. It still fits really well though and check out that twin coverstitching!


I spent some time contemplating where to place the stripes. I settled on having the wide stripe at the waist, but I think it could have been slightly lower. Still, it's quite good that the segment of navy stripe at the hemline is balanced by the navy at the neckline. I didn't think to match the stripes on the sleeves to those on the dress. Oh well.


I am very pleased with the ponte dress, but it is way too warm to wear in our current heatwave, so I got stitching and made a cooler version.


Enter the black, sleeveless version with stripy trim. This is made with a lovely, slinky, knit fabric that I bought at a Leona Edmonson sale a while back for $5. Being slinky it doesn't cling, so feels good to wear and skims over the lumpy bits. I just left off the sleeves when I made this dress, but ended up unpicking the armhole binding and lowering the armscye to make it more comfortable.


The striped fabric is a scrap that I found in a $5 remnant bag from Potter's Textiles. There was just enough for the trim. I like that the stripes are uneven widths and colours.


Finally, I modified the pattern slightly to create an a-line version. 


This, very blurry, phone picture shows the change I made to the pattern. The original pattern is on top and the modified one underneath. I followed the hip line and extended it outwards. The tape measure shows that the increase at the hemline was 8cm.


I used some fabric bought last year from Fabric.com. It's a drapey, stretchy, chevron print, which is a bit spongy, almost like a light-weight scuba knit. There are some glittery sparkles here and there. The neckline binding is plain brown lycra.


The drapiness of the fabric has camouflaged the a-line effect somewhat. It would be more pronounced in a ponte so I've got one like that in mind for the cooler weather.



 I'm not sure that the colours are totally me, but I'm very happy with the dress overall.


I just love this pattern. It goes together quickly and produces great results. With careful cutting, it can be made with a metre of fabric, so is economical too. It's the best thing to wear in Perth's meltingly hot weather, so hopefully no one is noticing that I'm wearing the same pattern several times a week!

Also to note is that the Tammy pattern comes with a loose-fitting overlay top that I haven't even made yet. That will also be making an appearance in the cooler weather.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Papercut Patterns - Soma bikini becomes a tankini


OK. Deep breath. Swimwear pictures.

Try to concentrate mostly on the beautiful scenery of Eagle Bay, Western Australia.


I say 'deep breath' because my last swimwear blog post was one of my most popular. However, I suspect that it was mostly clicked on by frustrated men, hoping that 'Bombshell in Borneo' was going to offer them more than a middle aged sewer posing in a pair of bathers that used more fabric than the average set of protective workwear. Snigger - serves them right!

Anyway, this is my new set, the Soma Swimsuit by Papercut Patterns.

Soma Swimsuit from the Papercut website

Soma Swimsuit - I made the top pictured in the middle and the pants pictured on the left.

As you can see, the pattern is for a bikini. I wanted a bit more coverage, so drew up a tankini piece to be sewn directly to the lower edge of the bikini top in place of the edging elastic. I made the top edge of the tankini piece just wider than the lower edge of the bikini top, then drew a line outwards to the width I wanted at the hips. I curved the sides up very slightly at the hemline but, looking at these pictures, I think it would look better with a bit more of an upwards curve at the sides. The bikini pants are made according to the higher cut version in the pattern and are very comfortable. I will be making more of these to wear as underwear.


The bathers are made with navy lycra with a geometric jacquard pattern in the fabric, bought from a swimwear designer. The top and pants are lined with nude stretch lining. The tankini add-on is unlined. The straps are made using fold-over elastic and I added some bling, also from the swimwear designer.


The seam lines in the top are interesting and the fit is good and fairly supportive. This is probably because the top is actually quite bra-like at the front and back.



This was my first time using a pattern from Papercut. I forked out for the paper version and yes, the packaging is as lovely as everyone says. The instructions were excellent and very clear. I liked that they described how to layer the outer and lining pieces before sewing so that the seams were encased and not visible from the inside. My only tip would be to pull the upper elastic quite taut across the front and sides of the bikini top. I stretched it only slightly as instructed and had to redo it due to gaping. Otherwise, this is straightforward to make.


And yes, after gazing at that beautiful water, I did eventually venture in to give the tankini a road test.


The bathers performed perfectly and were really comfortable in the water. I much prefer wearing these to my Bombshell pair as I don't like the feeling of all the ruched fabric around me. I was constantly adjusting the gathers on the Bombshell, which detracted from the effortless chic look I was chasing, not to mention almost making me spill my cocktail. No, these are definitely an improvement and I will certainly be making them again.


 I leave you with a phone picture of an enormous stingray, approximately 1 metre across, that cruised through the water I had only just vacated. The risks I take for my blog pictures!

1m stingray (smudge at bottom of picture), shoreline, Eagle Bay.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Struggling to love Vogue 1152



I have had this pattern for a while and I just love the dress in the pattern photo. I finally decided to make it in this navy, printed poly fabric with a nice drape (or so I thought). There is a lot of work in this pattern, which I always enjoy, but the final result has left me decidedly underwhelmed.

Vogue 1152

Vogue 1152

The front hemline is shorter than the back, which is fine, but I think it's perhaps too short on me at the front making the proportions look wrong. The side view is not doing me any favours around the midsection.


The back view is ok, but I think the gathers at the front and the back are too high up and would look better at the waistline. The blue piping, which I agonised over, is all wrong. It highlights the area between the waist and the bust, instead of drawing the eye somewhere more interesting.



The front of the dress has a very interesting gathered section with piping, that is extremely difficult to sew neatly. This squiffiness was my best effort! If I made this again I don't know that I would add the piping, both for the look and for the ease of obtaining a neat finish. The gathered section does provide a nice fit at the bust and yes, the neckline is very low! The more I analyse this dress, the more I realise that the focus is very much in the bust department.


The back gathers are quite nice I suppose.


I'm not sure where I stand on the sleeves, but I suspect there is something a bit wrong there too.


I'll accept that this dress is not a total disaster, but I don't feel inclined to wear it. It looks kind of bulky and the proportions are off. I am still dreaming of one that looks like the pattern picture, so I'm not ready to abandon this pattern yet.

My thoughts for next time:
- use a light, cottony fabric with a lovely drape and a much nicer print that the one I used;
- leave off the piping;
- raise the neckline slightly;
- lower the front hemline;
- do something with the sleeves to reduce bodybuilder look;
- investigate lowering the gathered sections, but may require too many pattern alterations.

My thoughts for improving this dress:
- wear in the winter with tights, boots and a big coat over the top.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A pinch and a punch - modified Jalie jeans and Burdastyle top (07/2013 #103)


One of my favourite Aussie designers is Sass and Bide (no special links, I just like them). Now and then I will waft around their airy shop, touching and examining and committing to memory my favourite designs, not to mention feeling horrified at the price tags! A couple of years ago I saw some skinny jeans called 'The Pinch'. All S&B clothes have arty farty names. I liked the interesting lines created by the white stripes. Anyway, when I saw that Pattern Review were holding a Bargainista Fashionista contest involving the creation of a garment inspired by RTW (ready to wear), I decided to have a go at making a Pinch, or perhaps a pair of Pinches, of my very own.

Picture saved from Sass and Bide website. No longer available.

Were $190 on Polyvore
I didn't want these super skinny, so I went back to an old favourite pattern, Jalie 2908. I used a modified version of the jeans which I have made before (changes explained here) and which I wear often.


I used a stretch sateen for the jeans and shop-bought bias binding for the stripes. The total cost was $17, so a saving of $173 on the original!

Just imagine the photobombing dog is a luxurious rug!
I had to think about the placement of the stripes and change the order of construction a bit so they went where they were supposed to go, under the back pockets and, the trickiest bit, across the side seams. I also redid the front stripe as I didn't like the placement when I first tried the jeans on. It was difficult to get the stripes in the same place on each leg, but I got pretty close in the end. 


The shiny fabric highlights all the wrinkles, but I quite like the effect actually.

Still imagining that rug?

I'm pretty happy with the fit, although I think my Jamie jeans provide a smoother and better fit overall, for me anyway. I'm just hoping that those stripes lengthen the legs rather than widening the hips!


Once the jeans were done, I needed to find something to wear with them. What goes with gold? Why more gold of course! Enter the twisted tank from Burdastyle 07/2013 (#103). This pattern caught my eye when I first received the magazine, but it's taken me over a year to make it.

Burdastyle Twisted Tank
Part of the dilemma involved the fabric choice. The top required two layers of light fabric. I eventually settled on the gold with a nudy brown colour for the under layer, which peeks out at the shoulders, along with my bra straps. Both fabrics are polyester chiffon.


I had read on other reviews of this pattern that the construction could be a bit tricky. I just followed the instructions and didn't have any problems. The only issue I had was that my fabrics are so delicate. This top is only for gentle outings!





I am naming this 'The Punch' to remind me not to punch anyone while wearing it and because it goes well with 'The Pinch'.

A pinch and a punch for the first month of the year. Or something.


I am very happy with both items, apart from the top being a bit delicate. I definitely feel more of a fashionista than a bargainista in this outfit. I just hope I'm getting away with it!

 

Friday, 16 January 2015

StyleArc Amber blouse and Colette Iris shorts


I do like raglan sleeve tops, so was keen to try the Amber blouse pattern bought recently from StyleArc. This top has all sorts of possibilities for colour blocking which usually has me pulling fabrics from nooks and crannies all aver my sewing room and ending up drowning in the pile with no idea what combination to use.

StyleArc Amber Blouse

This time I emerged from the fabric pile clutching this Japanese cotton print (a $10 remnant from Fabulous Fabrics) along with some brown knit fabric scraps that were quite a good match. The 80cm remnant piece was easily enough for the main fabric of the top. I decided to use white for the piping detail around the neckline and down the front panel. Rather than using real piping, I used 3cm wide strips of knit fabric folded in half with the raw edges matching the raw edge of the pattern piece. Once the 1cm wide seam allowance is folded under, 5mm of  faux piping is visible. This method is super simple and reduces the bulk that normal piping would produce.


I am kicking myself for not grading the seam allowances at the edges of the front and neckline panels. They are too thick making them very obvious. Bummer. I thought of it by the time I sewed the back neckline panel, which is covered by my hair. So annoyed!


The front and neckline panels are interfaced and sewn on top of the main front pattern piece, so it would be easy to omit them and make a plain top for a change. When the panels are included, the instructions have you sew the neckline edge with front and neckline piece right sides together to give a nice, clean finish to the neckline. The issue then is finishing the neckline edge of the sleeves. The pattern includes a little bias piece to do this, but I wasn't completely happy with the result. I wonder if a neater finish would be achieved using bias binding all the way around the neckline. Not sure. 


I am very happy with this top and will certainly be making more if I can only come up with another pleasing fabric combination.


Since the colours in the top are not commonly found in my wardrobe, I realised that some new shorts would be required. I fancied white, but couldn't find exactly what I wanted in my stash. Having two boys home on school holidays has vastly restricted my access to fabric shops, much as I've tried to convince them of the virtues of such establishments. So, I pulled out a scrap of linen-look fabric from Remida. I only had a long strip so pieced the fabric together to have enough to cut the pattern pieces. I quite like the resulting seamlines across the back.


I've made the Iris shorts a couple of times before so they went together quickly. The fabric was very unstable and kept pulling completely out of shape, but I got there in the end.


 The grey doesn't exactly match the top, but I think it's close enough to look OK. I love both these items. Now I just have to clear up that pile of fabric...

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