Thursday, 26 May 2016

Amber trousers - Paprika Patterns



A little bit slouchy, a little bit chic! That's how I would sum up the new Amber trousers pattern from Paprika patterns. 

Amber trousers line drawing

These super-comfortable pants fall softly from a fitted and flattering yoke. Inverted front pleats give a nice draped effect and lots of room to move. They can be made with a wide or tapered leg. I chose the tapered style, View A.


I was given this pattern for no charge in exchange for an honest review. I made size 4 based on my hip size and tapered the yoke to a size 5 at the top to fit my waist measurement. This was perfect for me and the pants required no further adjustments. The only thing I would say is that the legs were a bit short on me - more like 7/8 length instead of full length. I am about 5'9. I didn't mind the shorter length and have rolled them up a couple of times in these photos to make them even shorter for warm weather.



The fabric I used was a printed polyester that I have had in my stash for some time. It is very drapey, so perfect for these pants. I would love to make them again in silk.


The pants are fastened on one side with an invisible zip. This would be the trickiest part of making the pants. I followed the instructions, but used Washaway Wonder Tape to hold the zip in place before stitching, rather than pins or glue. I was put on to this brilliant product by Savage Coco Patterns (she knows her notions, that girl) and it is the best thing ever for invisible zip success.



The yoke is interfaced to hold its shape. I used lightweight interfacing here, which was just enough to be supportive but not too stiff. The yoke is comfortable and flattering.




The pants have side pockets, which are deep and just right.

I have made most of the Paprika Patterns range, often several times over. All the patterns are well thought out and have really clear instructions. The online tutorials are also great to supplement the written instructions if anything needs further explanation. This pattern is no exception. I didn't use the online tutorials as the pattern instructions and diagrams were very detailed. The Amber trousers are not difficult to sew and could be tackled by a confident beginner.


 I like this pattern. It's easy to sew and easy to wear. You can get it at a discount for the next few days of May 2016 here. I'm wearing the pants with a Scout Tee made with remnants.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Hannah Dress - Victory Patterns


As soon as the Hannah Dress by Victory Patterns veered onto my radar I knew I had to make it. I love the deceptively simple shape that, on closer inspection, reveals spectacular and unusual details. Check out those slanted side seams ending in deep pockets, the foldover back pieces, the hemline, the covered button placket. Oooh I'm getting dizzy again with the excitement of it all!
Victory Patterns Hannah dress
The Victory Patterns website features a Hannah dress in pale grey wool. When I spotted this dark grey flannel (wool/rayon/poly) in the Textile Traders 50% off sale, I decided to go for it for my first Hannah (and yes, there will be more). The pattern says you need 3.1m of 137cm wide fabric. I bought 2.5m of 150cm wide fabric and had almost 50cm left over. I made size 8.


This is quite an involved pattern to make and I enjoyed every minute! I have no idea how Kristiann drafted this and worked out the instructions. It's really clever. I was surprised many times at the way it came together. It was also impossible to try on until quite late in the construction process and I kept draping myself in pockets and plackets desperately trying to imagine the finished dress!



My first ever covered button placket. Phew, that gets your brain working! Great instructions though.



The back of the dress is perhaps the most unusual feature with folded pieces draping from each shoulder. This results in five layers of fabric at the back neckline that are then bound with bias binding. Here is my back neckline with the bias binding attached, but not folded over. Six layers with one to go! Surprisingly this worked out fine and not too bulky, even in my wool fabric.



The fit is pretty good on this. The darts need to be moved slightly and I could do with a sway back adjustment. I may also need a FBA (full bust adjustment). I might also lower the armholes slightly next time. These are all minor changes and I'm quite happy with the dress as it is.
Update: there is a tutorial for bust adjustments on the Victory Patterns Website.


Those deep pockets are fab.


The blue tights are my first attempt at a self-drafted pair of tights from a leggings pattern. Let's just say it's just as well I'm wearing boots!


This is a warm and comfortable dress that will be so lovely to wear in the colder weather. I will definitely make another one of these for cooler weather and then get started on a summer one! I'm so happy to have discovered this lovely pattern.


Saturday, 7 May 2016

Named Clothing Marie Blouse and StyleArc Lola pants hack

 

A couple of months ago, Lauren of Baste and Gather made some gorgeous Hudson pants in stretch woven fabric with added patch pockets. I had to have some. Immediately. Determined not to buy any new patterns and not owning the Hudson pattern, I searched through my collection. I emerged with the StyleArc Lola pants pattern. I have made this pattern numerous times in knit and woven fabrics, but never in a stretch woven. I set about drafting front and back pockets and an elasticated cuff so they looked just like Lauren's. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?



I used a fairly lightweight stretch fabric, nabbed for $2/m at a local designer closing down sale. You should see how much I bought at that sale. Everything was $2/m. OMG!

I made the front pockets quite large, maybe a bit too large at the opening, but I love hanging out with my hands in them! The side seams were taken in a bit until they seemed about right, then I added some bar tacks to strengthen the lower pocket opening. Yeah, I ran out of topstitching thread and changed colour halfway. I tell myself it's hardly noticeable. It bugs me every time I notice it.



The back pockets are rectangles with the bottom corner folded in. I pinned them here and there on my rear end until they looked ok in the mirror, then sewed them in place.


The lower cuffs were made the same width as the waistband and with the same construction method - insert elastic, stretch elastic to match cuff, sew two parallel lines of stitching through elastic and cuff, attach to pants.

HOT TIP: don't make the elastic fit your ankle as you would fit your waist. It will be too tight! The ankle elastic should be a bit loose-fitting. Mine could be slightly looser.



On to the blouse. This is the Marie blouse by Named Clothing. You may have seen the Marie dress I made with the same pattern. I bought some floaty silk/cotton fabric for this at Potter Textiles. It is beautiful to wear.



I deviated slightly from the instructions by adding elastic to the sleeves above the elbows, as in the dress, and by leaving off the elastic at the waistline. This resulted in a comfy and relaxed top that suits my lifestyle. 



I love both these pieces and the pants have been worn constantly since I made them. Thank you to Lauren for the inspiration. I'm already planning my next pair!

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Baggy jeans refashioned into a dress

 

These men's, hip hop style, Guess jeans have been languishing in my sewing room forever waiting for a good overhaul. The denim was pretty nice and there was a fair bit of it in those legs, despite the waist almost fitting me. I recall with a smile the skater boys sk8r boyz of the 90s getting about in similar ludicrous styles and thinking they were the beez kneez! It was time to do something with these and with the Aussie Sewing Guild's Castaway to Couture competition currently running, now was the time.


Had I known how much work it was going to be I may not have embarked on this project. I nearly scrapped it halfway through when it was a shapeless, disjointed muddle, but I'm rarely one to give up on a sewing project so I pressed on. It took many hours, but I think it turned out alright in the end. 


I believe that a successful refashion incorporates some features of the original garment into the new one. I wanted to make a dress from my jeans and, after contemplating many options, I decided to use the upper part of the jeans for the skirt and the legs for the bodice. I thought a front-opening bodice would tie in nicely with the skirt and I found this vintage Simplicity pattern with a zip front that I used to start me off. By the way, that small pile of scraps above is all I had left of the jeans when the dress was finished!


My first step was to cut off the legs leaving enough fabric for the bodice and skirt in the two sections. That first cut was a bit scary.


I then cut along the crotch seam so I could start forming the skirt. It ended up being really tricky to get the front and back centre seams of the skirt sitting nicely. I had to unpick nearly all the original seams to finally get it looking ok. Since the original waistband almost fitted me, I left that as it was. I managed to cut the bodice pieces out of the legs and the unpicked jeans cuffs became the collar. You can see the fading where the cuffs were originally turned up.


I adjusted the bodice to fit the waistband, while still fitting me, and sewed the bodice to the skirt. The button stands were cut from small scraps and their insides were pieced together as there weren't big enough pieces left! I redid the unpicked topstitching on the skirt and used similar topstitching on the bodice seams to match the original as closely as I could. The armholes were finished with bias binding, from the op shop of course. The seams above and below the armholes at the back are the original jeans seams.


The final touches were the front snaps and some rustic sashiko-style stitching here and there (with op-shop embroidery thread) for some added interest on the plain denim. The belt is the original jeans belt.

And now for some pictures!




 I just love those deep pockets. I can't keep my hands out of them!

 

I am so pleased that this competition pushed me into doing this refashion as it's been ages since I did one. I really enjoyed how the process evolved and changed to suit the challenges imposed by fabric quantity and existing seams. I also loved using nearly every last scrap from those jeans and embellishing with recycled bias binding and thread. The five metal snaps are the only new thing I used. I am very happy with the final dress and I look forward to wearing it proudly!

If you would like to enter the competition or see (and vote for) the entries, visit the Australian Sewing Guild Facebook page. You need to like the page to vote. Entries close 31st May 2016.

 

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

StyleArc Tammy Dress, handstitched Alabama Chanin style


This project has been on the go for a while, which is exactly how I like it. I really enjoy having a little something to work on in the evenings or while on holiday.


I dyed the fabric, a white 100% cotton knit, with indigo last year at the studio of Trudi Pollard. In my enthusiasm, I forgot to pre-soak the fabric in water and added it dry to the dye pot. This is not recommended as it introduces air into the vat. However, it did produce this lovely splotchy blue and white pattern as the dye penetrated the scrunched up fabric.


I just love that faded denim colour.


I used the StyleArc Tammy dress pattern as it's one of my favourite patterns. I used two layers of fabric in the dress, the blue on the outside and the same fabric in plain white on the inside. They were treated as one piece and handsewn together to create the dress. This gives the dress more structure. I used navy blue embroidery thread for the topstitching.


The neckline is finished with a strip of fabric folded over the raw edge and stitched in place with a decorative stretch handstitch. I have taken to basting the neckband on by machine before the hand sewing as I find it easier to stretch the band while machine sewing it. It's quite hard to stretch the band enough while hand sewing. This way the band sits nicely and doesn't flip out. I removed the machine basting afterwards.



The neckline is also embellished with tiny blue and white beads sewn in a random pattern. I had to hunt down my tiniest needle to fit through the beads. The beads are sewn all the way around the neckline, none of that RTW only-on-the-front nonsense!



The sleeves were finished by turning under and hand stitching in place.


The hemline edge was left raw and I stitched three narrow strips of fabric above the hem with little pleats here and there and a few beads to catch the light. This ruffled technique is one I've long admired from Natalie Chanin's books.


I was rather sad when this project came to an end. I kept thinking of new embellishments I could add, but decided that there was enough going on as it was. This was very quick for an Alabama Chanin project as there was no applique. I have done a reverse applique project before but I think this plainer design probably suits my lifestyle better. It doesn't stop me drooling over Alabama Chanin applique though, most notably Carolyn's beautiful outfit she posted a few days ago, which is probably the best I've seen anywhere.

Happy Stitchin!

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