Thursday, 23 April 2015

New York, New York - Vintage Butterick

Wandering through Textile Traders, this New York print fabric caught my eye. It was a bit polyestery, but I thought the print would make a cool dress, so I went for it. It is all black and white buildings with yellow taxis and red other things.

I chose this vintage pattern, Butterick 5208, that I have made once before in gold fabric. The two dresses turned out completely different, which is a good thing for wardrobe variety.

I omitted the pockets as I thought the fabric was a bit lightweight to hold them. Shame, I liked the pockets. I also left off the collar. I used the all-in-one facing that I had drafted last time. This finished off the neckline and armholes nicely. I had to take in the side seams a bit too.

I cut red knit fabric out for the side panels, sewed it together and then decided the red was a bit much. I recut the panels in black, inserted one and changed my mind again. Not being able to decide whether I preferred the black or the red panel, I left one of each.

I like the squared off armholes in this pattern.

And the front zip feels quite edgy, even though it's a vintage pattern.

I wore my wellies for the photos just for fun. It was warm enough today for sandals but I'm planning to wear this though the winter with tights and boots.

A bit of blurriness and you can almost believe I'm from the 70s!

Monday, 20 April 2015

A technicolour blouse - She Has a Mannish Style

Voluminous and multicoloured, perfect for hiding the effects of too many cakes, both outside and inside!

This is the 'Gathered Blouse' from the Japanese pattern book 'She has a Mannish Style' (also known as 'She Wears the Pants' if you buy the English version).

I was immediately drawn to this blouse, I think in part because the model looked so gorgeous in those leggings and high boots! Ignoring the fact that I would never wear leggings without extensive bum coverage and I can't walk for more than two minutes in high heels, I decided to go ahead with the blouse. That I would wear, although with what, I had no idea.

I'd been having a bit of a sewing room sort-out and had piled some scraps from a recent remnant bag purchase from Potter's Textiles on my cutting-out table. I wandered in and was absently patting the pile when it struck me that I could make a patchwork version of the 'gathered blouse'. The scraps were already fairly well colour matched, as the Potter's remnant bags tend to be, and mostly big enough for the blouse pieces. I added in the orange polka dot cotton from my Wenona Shirt dress and undyed beige cotton from my Wenona shirt and I was ready to go.

When I say 'ready to go' I actually mean 'ready to trace the pattern sheet from hell'. Seriously, I think it might have been worse than Burdastyle! Had it been in English, rather than Japanese, this may have helped, but only slightly. Anyway, I got there in the end and worked out a few tricks that helped with the tracing.

Here's what I worked out, just in case you have this book and are yet to begin tracing:

- to find the pattern you want, look for the pattern number in large text around the edge of the sheet, or, less often, in the middle. The number is written in English, then Japanese and a line is drawn from the English or Japanese label to the pattern piece;

- all pattern pieces for one garment are on one sheet, just keep looking! However, occasionally a piece is not on the sheet and needs to be drawn eg. if a simple rectangle. You can see the pattern pieces on the layout diagrams on the instruction pages;

- the smaller text refers to the grainlines for each piece;

- the half circle symbol seems to indicate to cut the piece on the fold;

- you need to add seam allowances (SA). The diagrams on the instruction pages indicate what size SA to add. It seems to be 1cm unless otherwise indicated.

So, back to the patchworking. All the pattern pieces fitted on to my scraps except one front and the back piece. No problem, I just joined two fabrics together until I had a big enough piece of fabric. The choice of which fabric to put where wasn't completely random. I used the orange polka dot for the add-ons and the left sleeve. It seemed better that way than swapping the sleeves. I cut the back yoke in half to achieve a chevron effect with the print. Obviously I had too much to think about as that was a total fail.

I used grey on the shoulders and one button placket and pink stripes on the other placket. After playing around with the pockets, I decided on one only in polka dot. The sleeve cuffs match the front and back pattern.

I am pretty happy with the overall look of the fabric placement and I love the style of the blouse. I did add 5cm to the length, as I am 5'9, and this seems about right.

I wore this for the first time on a cool and windy day for an outing to a skateboarding competition (yes, I was just watching). The blouse did tend to billow, parachute-like in the wind and I was pleased I'd worn a camisole underneath.

For the construction, the instructions in the book were ok, well I mean the diagrams were ok, since I can't read Japanese. It helped a lot that I have made shirts before, especially as the instructions seemed to peter out before getting to the really tricky parts. I think they picked up again for another shirt in the book, but not being sure, I just used instructions for another shirt pattern I had.

The blouse was worn on this day with my latest Jamie jeans and boots to suit the weather. I feel the need to play around a bit with other options to get a better overall outfit. Otherwise, I'm really happy with my Mannish Style.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

StyleArc Lola farm-style

An upcoming four-day getaway in Yallingup, three hours south of Perth, prompted a holiday pants sewing session. We stayed at a farm in the bush, which was just idyllic. The boys rode horses and tractors and ate passionfruit from the vine to the point that I seriously feared for their digestion. It was only ten minutes drive to the wild and beautiful Yallingup beach where these photos were taken.

The pants are StyleArc lola, which I have made before and which are the ultimate in comfy-but-still cool-to-be-seen-wearing attire. I think so anyway! The first pair were made with silk charmeuse, which gave a completely different look to these, made with open-weave, silk/linen from Homecraft Textiles. I have also made some in fleece (unblogged), which are super cosy, while retaining the fashionable shape - think Papercut Anima or True Bias Hudson Pants.

I like the look of these rolled up, boyfriend-style, but I can also vouch for them worn with Blundstone boots (Blundies) for instant farm chic!

 That's me Alabama Chanin-ing under the fruit trees.

This random beach dog was suitably impressed.

There's not much more to say about these, but I just love the relaxed fit, the pocket placement (I used navy cotton for the pockets, see below for a peek) and the elastic waist, which is essential for long lunches at local wineries. The silk/linen was a good choice as it doesn't crease and feels cool in the sun and warm enough in the wind. It frayed like crazy while sewing, but submitted nicely to the overlocker. I would have loved this fabric as a dress too, but pants are more practical as autumn sets in, not to mention the pattern hiding a multitude of farm dirt!

I'll leave you with a gorgeous Australian Kelpie controlling some wayward sheep.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Named Wenona Shirt Dress

I had been saving this bold, orange, polka dot print for something special. Then as time went by, just for something suitable! This lovely Indian cotton, bought for $20 from a designer sale, was looking more and more like it was only suited for a clown outfit. Then, after I made my Wenona shirt, I decided it would be perfect for the Named Wenona shirt dress. To break up the print, I used some orange linen from my stash.

I finished this last December and, despite its obvious resemblance to a circus entertainer's outfit, it has grown on me to the point where I actually really like it now. I have even worn it out in public - once (sans red nose of course)!

However, while I was making it I went through a bit of an 'I will never wear this' crisis. I experimented with two different dyes on scraps of fabric to try to quieten the deafening orange. The orange linen and polka dot cotton scraps below were dyed with deep blue (left) and black (right). You will notice that the orange spots have stubbornly refused to back down. Eventually I emailed a trusted sewing friend for assistance. This wise and stylish lady said she liked the playful retro and summery look of the dress. She suggested that I wear it unaltered for a day to see how I felt in it, then perhaps shorten the sleeves or dye it if I thought that would help. This turned out to be excellent advice. As a compromise I shortened my hair, rolled up the sleeves, wore it for a day and suddenly the dress felt OK! I'm leaving it as it is...for now.

The shirtdress pattern has a seam at the waist for shaping, so looks better with a belt.

Named Wenona shirt dress
I like this pattern a lot. It goes together easily and looks very stylish. The hardest part for me was getting the the collar stand perfectly neat and symmetrical inside and outside, but the instructions do help with that. Sewing the rest was straightforward and enjoyable.

The stripe down the shoulder and sleeve is one of my favourite things about this pattern.

The button at the back of the pointed collar is my other favourite. I used irregularly shaped, black buttons with a white circle on them.

I made my usual size 40 in this pattern, but had to take the dress in quite a bit at the sides. Otherwise I didn't make any changes.

I've been on a bit of a Wenona bender actually. My, notoriously hard-to-please, sister requested a beach cover-up for Christmas. It had to be a sheer, white cotton shirt that was tunic length. I made her a Wenona in white cotton voile with embroidered cotton sleeve panels. I used the shirt pattern and lengthened it, rather than making the shirt dress. I added a casing and drawstring at the back to gather it in as desired.

The verdict: she liked it!!! Here she is wearing it on a recent beach holiday:

I love this pattern and have recently made another version, this time sleeveless. I'll save it for another post, this one is long enough already.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Biker-style jeans a la Balmain


When I spotted this khaki stretch cotton in Textile Traders last week I knew exactly what I was going to make. Grungy, biker-style jeans, that's what. My inspiration was these jeans by Balmain, recently selling for US$695 at The Store. I bought 1.5m of fabric for $18 and a zip for $3. That's more like it!

Pierre Balmain Military Green Coated Biker Jeans: Source

The features I wanted in my jeans were the front seams, quilted hip panels and partly quilted back pockets. The Jamie Jeans pattern by Named Clothing was a perfect starting point as it has the front seams and two-piece back pockets. I just needed to draw up a diagonal panel for the front quilting.

So, while my fabric was sloshing away in the washing machine, getting all nice and faded, I drew up the pattern pieces I needed. I found a strip that I had cut off a summer-weight bed quilt ages ago and cut the pieces for quilting from that. Two lower pockets and two parallelograms for the front.

I used the outer quilt fabric to keep the wadding in place.

Here are my quilted front pieces. The one on the right has been trimmed down ready to turn the long edges under and topstitch on to the side front jeans piece.

This is how the fabric looked after one wash - just how I wanted it.

Once the quilting was done and sewn in place, these were straightforward to make. I've made this pattern a few times now and it is my very favourite jeans pattern. I just made some minor fitting adjustments and added some extra leg length at the cutting-out stage. The fit isn't perfect with a few wrinkles at the back, but I'm happy.

 My finishing touch was this rectangle of leather that I stamped with my life's philosophy!

 Phew! Done in a day and a half, ready for a last-minute entry in the Pattern Review Jeans Contest.

$695 jeans for $20? Don't mind if I do!

The tank is self-drafted and made from bits and pieces from my stash. The front is a lovely soft print remnant from Potter's Textiles.

I'm rather pleased that the direction of the quilting lines match on the pockets and front panel. Completely intentional of course ;)

Overall thoughts: love, love, love these!

2015 Jeans Contest


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