Friday, 16 June 2017

The Sizzler Sundress - Naughty Bobbin Patterns


Well, if you're ready to amp it up to full volume this summer, this is the pattern for you! Being a pattern tester and not having seen a photo or drawing of the dress, I had no idea of the va va voom factor until I'd finished it. Then I pulled it on, looked in the mirror, and I was strutting around like Kim Kardashian at a beach resort!* This is the Sizzler Sundress by Naughty Bobbin Patterns and if you want to look like you've dropped two dress sizes in 30 seconds, you need this pattern now!

*I hasten to mention that this was all in the privacy of my own home and that any public strutting will slightly more subdued. Just slightly!


The dress is fitted with a flattering front neckline and gorgeous v-back. It is designed so that bra straps won't show and I can happily report that mine were well hidden. The bodice is lined, the front has a ruched overlay and the back can be lined if desired. I chose to line the back, which helped to smooth out any underwear lines or other imperfections beneath! I used my main fabric as lining for this dress.


The bodice has a faux-wrap design with pleats below the bust. It is surprisingly supportive, stays firmly in place and shows things off very nicely. Insider tip: hoick up the boobage once the dress is on and you can gain a cup size or two as well! The ruched front panel is very flattering and cleverly covers lumpy bits. Who's going to look at your tummy with that neckline on offer?!


The dress is straightforward to sew with a couple of little tips included for a really great fit and finish. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about this. I love it! It's such a sexy and fun design and I feel like a million dollars in mine. Go on and get it.


I received this pattern free of charge. All opinions are my own.
Apologies for the brazen hussiness of this post. I blame the Sizzler Sundress!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Refashioned StyleArc Ziggi Leather Jacket


I love a good refashion and was inspired to do this one when I read about the Australian Sewing Guild's 'Castaway to Couture' competition. The idea is to refashion up to three secondhand garments into one new wearable garment with minimal waste. The competition closes on 31st May and is open to Australian residents, so get in quick!


I wanted to make a leather jacket and the StyleArc Ziggi was the obvious choice. I have made it before in two tone brown leather and I love the fit and style. This time I wanted a classic, black, leather jacket.



I started off with a leather jacket that my grandmother bought for me many years ago and which I no longer wear. It was made with lovely soft, thick leather, but there wasn't enough leather in it to make the Ziggi, which did surprise me a bit. I cruised the op shops and found a second leather jacket for $20 and a silk, leopard print maxi dress for the lining for $8. Interestingly, op shop leather jackets vary hugely in price, even between stores in the same chain. Also, I really struggled to find a silk dress. In the end I just went down the dress rail looking at every label until I finally found one that said it was silk. 


Next came the planning. The Ziggi jacket has 23 pattern pieces, 14 for the main fabric and 9 for the lining. This part took absolutely ages. I wanted to try to avoid holes made by the original stitching and buttons and to minimise the wastage. I planned to cut all the main body pieces from the thicker leather jacket and the sleeves, large front facings and other bits from the thinner one. I also wanted any original seamlines to be symmetrical in the new jacket. I had to draw a rough diagram to remember the layout. As luck would have it, the collar from one jacket was exactly the right size and could be re-used intact. 


Next, I unpicked the original jackets to give me large enough pieces from which to cut my new pattern. I got impatient a couple of times, but that resulted in tearing the leather, so I was forced to go slowly! I was then ready to cut everything out. I ended up having to make some changes to my first cutting plan, partly because I forgot to mirror the side front piece and cut two the same and partly because I did a last minute broad back adjustment, but I eventually got there. The dress was not quite enough for all the lining pieces, so I cut the midsection of the sleeves from some of the original polyester jacket lining. This doesn't show in the finished jacket.


I topstitched any remaining seams from the original jackets and all the new seams so they would match and look intentional. Those blasted side fronts didn't have their original seams matching after my cutting error, but all the other pieces did. The lower edge showed some original stitching holes, but these were hidden once the hem was folded under.


 I decided to quilt the upper sleeves like some jackets I'd seen online. I was very happy to have found the wadding at Remida recycling centre, so that was also saved from landfill. The only thing I bought new were the zips. They were from Homecraft Textiles.



I inserted sleeve gussets that weren't in the Ziggi pattern. For the sleeve gussets, and the pocket zips, I used tutorials by Shams of 'Communing with Fabric'.


Leopard print is not really my style, but I quite like it as jacket lining. The silk feels lovely to wear. You might just be able to see the original hanging loop (below) that I saved and restitched into the new collar seam. You can also see the original seamlines in the leather front facings. These are mostly hidden when worn.


 The finished jacket, which is completely recycled except for the zips:


I like how the original seamlines add extra detailing to the new jacket.

And here is what was left over from the project. Some leather scraps that I will save to make something else, most of the original linings and tiny scraps of the dress.


This has been one of the most ambitious projects I've ever done and the whole process was incredibly time consuming. I really had to think carefully and go slowly the whole time to avoid silly mistakes. It was incredibly enjoyable and satisfying though and I have ended up with a jacket that I absolutely love. The fit is excellent and the leather and silk are soft and comfortable to wear. I will be wearing this at every opportunity. I am also very happy to have breathed new life into my treasured, but long unworn, jacket from my dear old Nan.






This is the collage I put together for my entry. Voting for the competition begins next week on the 1st of June. If you are an Australian resident with some spare time over the next few days, get refashioning and enter yourselves. There are some great prizes on offer.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Sophie Swimsuit with custom-printed fabric


I am very excited to show you the second garment I have made using fabric printed with one of my Mum's own paintings. You may have seen the dress I made a few weeks ago with a Eucalyptus design.

Painting by Chris Oxberry

This painting depicts masses of everlastings (flowers) on a red-earthed, Australian outback landscape. I chose the lower part of the painting for the design with just a bit of the tree at the top.


I had the fabric printed by Contrado UK. This is the 'Slinky lycra matt 210gsm' and I absolutely recommend it for a swimsuit. The fabric is beautiful quality, soft but firm with good stretch recovery. The printing turned out really well on this fabric too as the colours are accurate and very vibrant. I have spoken about ordering from Contrado in this blog post.


I ordered a piece of fabric 100cm wide by 60cm long and just squeezed this swimsuit out (size 8 body, size 5 cup) with only tiny scraps left over - perfect! I had worked out my exact fabric requirements before ordering so I didn't have any waste. I cut the pieces from a single layer of fabric, which meant more cutting, but much less wastage, so totally worth it when working with special fabric.


The pattern is the Sophie Swimsuit by Closet Case Patterns. I have made this before and loved it, so the choice was easy. This time I added an inch to the torso length as my last one was just a bit short in the body causing a rather unfortunate chesty wardrobe malfunction on a very crowded beach! I think now this one might be a tad too long as there is some wrinkling at the back, but it's definitely to be better safe than sorry. The swimsuit is lined with orange lycra from my ridiculously extensive lycra stash. Other than that, everything was the same as for my previous Sophie Swimsuit.


This project took a lot of plotting and planning with my Mum, detailed measuring of fabric requirements, designing and ordering from the Contrado website, super careful cutting and slow sewing. 

I loved every minute!

I'm thrilled with my one-off swimsuit and can't wait until it's warm enough to actually swim in it. Maybe I need to plan a tropical holiday...





Monday, 8 May 2017

StyleArc Autumn Dress


I was drawn to the StyleArc Autumn Dress pattern as soon as I saw it and grabbed it in a recent Etsy sale. I love the deep overlap at the neckline that extends into a front pleat, the loose fit and the curved hem. The back pleat is also an interesting feature - more on that later. 


Since we are now in the season of autumn, I chose a lightweight corduroy for this dress. The fabric came from Remida as an unwanted factory offcut so I'm doing my bit for sustainability! I wasn't sure about the colour at first, but it's grown on me and now I rather love it.


This dress is not difficult to sew and the front came together quickly. That neckline and collar are so lovely.


The back, however, caused me a few problems. Despite following the diagram in the instructions, I just could not get it folded correctly. I tried to match the folded back with the width of the yoke, but still could not work it out. I tried for over an hour, studying the website photo and drawing diagrams, before giving up and going to bed. I pondered it overnight and went straight to it again in the morning. After almost another hour, I finally got it. I can't remember the last time I got so confused over a simple bit of folding!


I drew a diagram each time I thought I'd got it right. The one at the top is the correct one. It's a bit messy but may help someone. It's also quite different from the diagram in the instructions, which is more like my discarded diagrams.


From then on, it was smooth sailing again and I'm so happy with the way the dress turned out. As always, StyleArc's drafting and fit is spot on and this is a gorgeous pattern.


  

Monday, 1 May 2017

A foray into fabric design


The Divine Dinner Dress by Savage Coco

I am VERY excited about this project! I'm not sure if I've mentioned it here, but my Mum is an artist. She paints vibrant pictures of Australian landscapes and native flowers as well as memories from her overseas travels. You can see some of her work here

It occurred to me that some of her designs would look gorgeous as fabric and I began to ponder how to go about it. I talked to Mum one evening a couple of months ago and, as soon as I suggested it, Mum was off and racing with ideas! 



I was keen to use her Australian paintings as they are beautiful and unique. Mum said to leave it with her to think over and, before I knew it, she'd been through my blog, found her favourite things and chosen paintings that would make suitable fabric for each garment! 

Meanwhile, I'd been looking at getting the fabric printed. I'd seen that Velosewer had used the UK company Contrado to have fabric printed with a photo for swimwear. Rather fancying some custom printed swimwear myself (more about that in a future post), I decided to give them a try. I was not disappointed!


The Contrado website allows you to upload photos, tweak the design and size, select from a huge number of fabrics (105 from memory) and send the design for printing.

Contrado Swatch Pack

I wanted to be sure the fabric was exactly what I wanted so I sent away for a sample pack before I made my decision. The swatches were sent from England to Australia in less than a week and I found it a huge help to feel the fabrics. I loved some of the sporty, technical fabrics, but decided to see how I went with natural fibres to begin with. After narrowing down my fabric selection, I decided to make three garments each with a different print and fabric. This dress was made from 100% cotton Pima lawn 75gsm.

You need to set up an account with Contrado to get started, then select 'fabric printing' and choose your fabric type. From there you can start your design by uploading images.


Once the image is uploaded you can play around with it using different tools. I chose to print this design as a mirror image. This worked really well for the dress as it meant the front and back of the dress were pattern matched at the sides.


I then carefully measured my dress pattern pieces to work out exactly the amount of fabric I needed. Contrado enables exact measurements to be printed. This is useful to keep costs down and reduce waste. I prewashed my fabrics and measured them before and after. This piece stayed the same width, but lost 2cm in length after washing. 



The Pima Lawn fabric was perfect for this dress. It's light, but not transparent, and was lovely to sew. The printing turned out beautifully and has not faded with washing. The Contrado service was easy and fast and I was very happy with everything.


So, the dress! Mum chose this pattern as she thought using contrasting fabric at the neckline and hem would 'frame' the printed fabric. It's the Divine Dinner Dress by Savage Coco. I have made this dress before and it remains one of my favourites. Savage Coco now has a new website called Naughty Bobbin Patterns, but this pattern and excellent tutorial are still available on the old site. I shortened the dress, and took in the sides. It's perfect for showcasing a special fabric.


You can see here how mirroring the design gave a nice print match (and a totally different look) on each side.


Mum's original painting depicted leaves and flowers of Eucalyptus miniata. I love the colours and smell of Eucalypts and the way this print turned out is unmistakably Australian. It took me ages to decide on the contrasting colour, but I think the soft green goes well with the print.



I am over the moon with this dress and I will wear it with a very special pride knowing that it was the result of an exciting collaboration with my beautiful and talented Mum. Stay tuned for the other two designs we worked on together.


 Love you Mum xx

NOTE: if anyone is interested in using these designs for fabric printing (or other things), please let me know and we can discuss it further!

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