Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Two remnant tops - a Nettie and a vintage raglan

For me, no visit to Potter's Textiles, in North Perth, is complete without a good rummage through the remnant bins and the scrap bags. I especially love the $5 scrap bags, which contain a lucky dip of fabrics, from small rectangles, to pieces big enough to cut one side of a t-shirt from. The array of colours, fabric types and patterns is very inspiring for piecing together and creating a unique look. There are some lovely knits in the bags and sometimes even a lucky piece of silk. You might remember the blouse I made with cotton scraps, mostly from Potter's, a while back.

My scrappy blouse (She has a Mannish Style)
Anyway, I had some fabric that needed using so I got cracking and made some winter tops. Side note: I was watching 'The Bletchley Circle' drama recently and they said "Let's get cracking". It made me wonder if that phrase originated with the codebreakers. I must look that up sometime.

The first item is not exactly a top, but a bodysuit. A Nettie bodysuit. I wasn't sure if this would be a useful item, but it turns out that it is. I like to wear it under winter dresses to keep extra cosy. This is made from a Potter's remnant, a very stretchy and slightly transparent wool blend. I went up a size after reading several reviews and made a size 12. I think this would have been wise with a less stretchy fabric, but unnecessary in this case. The crotch is a bit loose. Not my crotch, Nettie's crotch. No, I'm not going to show you. 

I had almost, but not quite, enough fabric for the Nettie. Undeterred, I rummaged in my Potter's scrap shoeboxes (perfectly sorted by fabric type, of course) and emerged with this small, striped bit of knit. I cut the lower ends of the sleeves from the striped piece and sewed them to the main sleeves before constructing them.

I quite like the stripy effect. It goes well with my Vogue 1313 dress. I have tried this Nettie with pants and my close-fitting Jade skirt, but the panty line shows, so I'm keeping it for wearing under dresses.

My second remnant top is this one, a raglan sleeved jumper from a vintage pattern. I was all ready to leap on to the Linden bandwagon when I decided to have a quick look in my pattern drawer. I found Style 3253 that I had bought in an op shop and forgotten about. Perfect!

The sleeves were a bit billowy so I just trimmed them down.

This was super easy to make. I used two matching pieces of stretch velvet from two different scrap bags for the front and back and cut the rest from some black ponte from the stash.

This has been such a useful top since I made it. It's not too heavy, so is comfortable under a jacket, or great on its own on warmer winter days.

I love those $5 scrap bags!

Friday, 31 July 2015

Presto Popover top - Savage Coco Patterns


I was recently asked to try out the Presto Popover top pattern by the hilarious and glamourous Coco. This pattern couldn't have come along at a better time. The top is perfect for wearing pretty much anywhere as it's comfortable, stylish and warm.

My favourite feature of the pattern is the neckline, which is formed by folding two front pieces along a centre seam then twisting them around to form the back neckline. I had to read through the instructions a couple of times to get my head round that part, but once I tried it out it was easy. The rest of the top came together very quickly and easily.

The neckline can be worn folded down (above) or lifted so it falls softly and feels like a tiny scarf (below).

This Presto is made using acrylic knit fabric from Potter's Textiles. I am planning future versions in t-shirt fabric once the weather warms up. In this winter version I lengthened the sleeves from 3/4 to full length and added a cuff. I also lengthened the hemline by about 5cm, which I often do due to my height, and lowered the neckline by approximately 2cm.

I made a size M and the fit is great, body skimming, but not too tight.

This is such a cleverly worked out pattern. It makes a quick top that is definitely a notch above a plain t-shirt. The doubled front and single or double layer back make it a good option for sheer fabrics too.

Check out Fadanista's lovely version with a matching cardi.

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!


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