Monday, 8 February 2016

Anyone for tennis? - Jalie 3023 skirt x Virginia leggings and a Briar tee

I sewed up a storm for my Christmas presents last year and, now it's February, I am starting to recover enough to blog about it!

My sister requested a tennis outfit and emailed me very specific, illustrated instructions. Anyone who has read this blog for a while may know that my sister is not only super particular, but is also a lifetime member of the brutally honest brigade. I was feeling the pressure as I planned and sewed this outfit to her exact specifications!

The skirt was to be slightly A-line with a pleated lower back section under a second frill. It had to also have built-in shorts.

I chose stable lycra/ponte fabrics for the outer skirt in polka dots and plain black.

I used the swim skirt of Jalie 3023 as a starting point. I made a few changes to the pattern, which began with raising the waistline and adding some length. Then I cut the back pattern piece into two horizontally and created the lower frill by slashing and spreading the lower back pattern piece. The middle frill was made from a strip of black fabric cut on a curve so it only flared slightly.

Jalie 3023
I assembled the back of the skirt and added some decorative white topstitching along the seamline of the middle frill.

The box pleats are underneath the black frill.

The plain front piece was sewn to the back at the sides. Then, before I attached the waistband, I made some little, black, cotton lycra shorts using Megan Nielsen's Virginia leggings pattern (the best-fitting leggings pattern ever). The shorts and skirt were sewn together into a doubled-over waistband and hemmed with a cover stitch.

The black and white top was requested to provide some sun protection. I used the Megan Nielsen Briar T-shirt pattern and added long sleeves. The length was altered to somewhere between the t-shirt and crop top lengths. I used a lightweight, cotton knit fabric for the top and added a black neckline and decorative black topstitching on the hem and cuffs.

I was very nervous as my sister opened her present on Christmas Day, but she liked it! Then, the other day, she sent the pictures of herself in the outfit that you see here.

I was blown away. She looks amazing! OK, her legs look amazing, but the tennis outfit shows them off to perfection, doesn't it?

I was thrilled. 

And I bet no one else could concentrate on their game!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Jungle January - Named Inari Tee

It's my first time swinging into Jungle January, so I thought I'd better go all out and sparkle. I even had a glittering event to which I could wear my new disco leopard ensemble - dinner with some lovely Perth sewers last Sunday. Eagle-eyed Sue spotted that this was the Inari tee pattern before she'd even got out of her car. That girl knows her patterns!

Pretty Grievances - Jungle January
The idea of Jungle January is to have some fun sewing with a jungle-inspired fabric. I was in Spotlight last week buying some embroidery thread for an Alabama Chanin project when I noticed the lady in front of me buying this cotton knit with a silver leopard print. "Ooh, that's nice" I said. "Yes, I'm making my daughter a mermaid costume" she replied. My visions for the fabric were momentarily shattered, but I decided to be bold and buy a metre anyway.

I have experimented with this pattern in a ponte knit and a woven (unblogged). The woven version was a bit tight across the shoulders, but the ponte one was a pretty good fit. This knit fabric was lighter than the ponte and there are some drag lines at the front, which probably indicate that I need to do a FBA (full bust adjustment) for next time.

Other than that, I'm really pleased with the dress. It was simple to make, so I took my time and did the best job I could. I made it according to the pattern, omitted the sleeve cuffs and the neckline facings and lowered the neckline. I used a strip of the fabric inside out to make a very small, almost piping-like, neckline band with a double line of topstitching. The sleeves are finished on my new Cover Stitch machine (a Bernette 009DCC) that I bought a couple of months ago for $100 on Gumtree.

I'm still experimenting with the Cover Stitch machine as it certainly behaves better under certain conditions, but it gives a great finish to hems.

The back is slightly longer in this pattern, which is a nice feature.

I am very happy with this dress. I think I get away with the wild fabric by balancing it with the casual t-shirt dress pattern. I hope so anyway! It is super comfortable and hides the effects of several courses of Japanese food admirably.

And if all else fails, I can say I'm a mermaid.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Named Wyome Jeans

I have made the Named Wyome Boyfriend Jeans before, but I changed the pattern a bit this time to get more of a loose, boyfriend fit. These jeans look much looser on the Named model than in real life if you follow the size chart and I have seen others make a larger size, for example Novita who made a gorgeous pair one size larger than her usual size.

Rather than print and tape together a second PDF in a larger size, I decided to cheat a bit and just cut it out a bit bigger than the size 40 pattern that I had used last time. I kept the crotch curve the same (which I had previously altered to be more like the Named Jamie jeans curve) and just cut about a centimetre bigger around each pattern piece. I kept the front pockets the same as my original pattern and used the Jamie jeans back pockets and pocket placement. The pocket stitching design is from the Wyome pattern. I tried these on as I went and took in the side seams a bit to achieve the fit I liked.

I used a heavy cotton drill fabric (no stretch) that I had bought for $2 in the Potter's Textiles remnant bin. There wasn't quite enough to get all the pieces on there, so I used a bit of leather from Remida for the back yoke and front upper pockets. I love adding a bit of leather here and there on jeans and I merrily throw it in the washing machine and hang it in the sun with no ill effects.

These haven't ended up super loose, but they do feel much looser than my usual skinny jeans style. I love them! They are so casual and comfortable. In fact, I got a bit carried away and decided to distress them a bit. I got the cheese grater out and shredded the left back pocket and left mid thigh.

The first time I wore these my son pointed out the shredded patches in horror. "Oh yeah, I know" says totally cool Mum (me), "I did that on purpose". He stared at me in disbelief for a long time, trying to come to terms with why I would damage a new, handmade pair of jeans. "You shouldn't have done that" he said. Now I wouldn't admit it to him, but I think he was right. Oh well, it was rather fun doing it!

So there we are. Distressed boyfriend jeans with leather accents. They could be looser and more boyfriendy, but I'm pretty happy!

T-shirt from Uniqlo, Singapore. Sandals from Beverly Hills Polo Club, Singapore.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Boylston bra - one, two, three and success!

I bought the Boylston bra pattern by Orange Lingerie a few months ago. I had briefly (!) dabbled in bra-making with a couple of Kwik-sew 3300 bras (below), which were good, but I was keen to make a foam cup bra. 

Then I found a bag full of bra-making supplies at the op shop. Score of the century! I could wait no longer and got cracking on the Boylston.

Notes on Boylston sizing for anyone interested

I measured myself carefully, studied the size chart and decided I was a 34C. This ended up being very wrong and way too small and I will explain why for anyone contemplating this pattern (I would be interested to hear how the sizing worked for others). 

For the band size, the instructions have you take your underbust measurement in inches then add 4 or 5 inches depending on whether it was an even or odd number, respectively. This gave me 34, but the 36 was actually the right size band for me. 

For the cup size, you need to find the difference, in inches, between the high bust and full bust measurements. My difference was 2.5 inches, which put me between a B and C cup. As instructed I rounded up to a C. After making two C cup bras, I eventually decided I was a D cup in this pattern. 

The fitting of the three bras I made was as follows:

34C - way too small to put on and do up.
36C - comfortable and wearable, but the bridge sat away from my chest and the bra tended to ride up with wear. Thank you Mr Humphries (showing my age with that one!).
36D - very well fitting and comfortable with the bridge sitting against my chest. If I was being very picky I would have the top edge of the cup pulled in slightly.

So, my experience was to go up a full band and cup size from what was indicated in the size chart. This meant going from 34C to 36D. My RTW bra size is generally 36D.

The foam I used was 3mm thick. I removed the seam allowances from the foam pieces, so they were stitched with no overlap. Use of foam and its thickness may influence sizing.

I made my first bra, the 34C, from this pretty Potter's Textiles remnant and used some foam I found at Remida for the cups. The back was made from power mesh. I'm so upset this was too small.

 The 36C was made from some spotted polyester satin left over from some dance costumes I made a while back. This is wearable and I love the spots.

My latest, and best fitting, version was made in white cotton with pintucks and lace detail as part of the fabric. The back band is a double layer of mesh. I wanted something that wouldn't show under summer clothes. I'm really happy with this one. It's not a pretty as the others but I love wearing it and don't want to take it off for washing. I need another few, ASAP!

And here it is on me. Now I have the sizing worked out, I'm really happy with this pattern and will certainly be making many more.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Class artwork for school art auction

Every second year my son's school employs an artist in residence who inspires the children to create lovely things. These lovely things are then sold off to unsuspecting parents at an evening exhibition. In addition, each class produces an artwork to be auctioned off during the evening to raise money for the school. The parents coordinate the class artworks and, strangely, it's the same parents every time doing it. It will come as little surprise that I am one of those parents who always gets sucked in enthusiastically volunteers!

Secretly I love doing it, but don't tell anyone.

I am of the strong opinion that the artwork should have obvious input from the children. My idea for this year was to do a beach scene (beach scenes sell well, right?) populated by the children's beach-inspired self portraits.

Inspired by this SmartClass tutorial, I painted the background on a large sheet of stiff paper using a combination of acrylic paint, fabric dye and food colouring - basically whatever I could find in the right colours. I placed the paper on a slanted board, wet the section I wanted to paint and then dribbled the colour down the page, light blue for the sky, turquoise for the water and yellow for the sand, allowing the paint to dry between colours. I rocked the board and paper from side to side to gently mix and move each colour into place. The turquoise had a bit of salt sprinkled on while it was still wet to give a bubbly, sea foam effect.

Once the background was ready, I went into the Year 4 class (9 and 10 year olds) and played teacher for an hour or so, which was great fun. We talked about what the children liked to do at the beach, what they would wear and what they liked to bring with them. I then got them to draw themselves doing whatever they wanted and said the figure needed to be about 10cm high. I didn't worry about exact sizing as I knew I could use different sizes to create perspective later.

The teacher was worried that the pictures wouldn't be good enough, but I knew they would be fabulous. And they were!

 If a child finished their picture early I encouraged them to draw some extras for the scene, whatever they wanted. I got some lovely birds, helicopters, dogs, the hand of a buried person and a cute table that I ended up placing on side as I couldn't fit it on the sand.

The children really enjoyed doing their drawings and several told their parents that they HAD to buy the class picture as they'd done such a good drawing for it!

I spent a long time carefully cutting out and placing the self portraits on the scene before glueing them on and framing the picture in an Ikea frame. I was so pleased with how the picture turned out. It looked good from a distance and there was loads of gorgeous detail to look at once you got closer.

The auction was great fun and raised several thousand dollars for the school. My picture raised the second highest amount, over $600, so I was thrilled with that.

I wonder what the class and I will make next time!

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

The Zircon Sweater/dress - Paprika Patterns

As a fan of Paprika Patterns (love my Jasper Sweater and Jade skirt), I was rather pleased to be given the chance to review their brand new Zircon Sweater/dress pattern, which was released yesterday.

A light jumper for cool, summer evenings is just what I needed, so I chose the sweater option.

This is a simple, raglan sleeved pattern with pizzazz added in the form of an attractive, geometric yoke and hem insets. The result is unique and sleekly stylish. I love the clean lines of the insets, which look complicated, but are actually a breeze to sew if you follow Lisa's clear instructions. I was running a bit late with this review, what with all the Christmas parties and end-of-year concerts on at the moment, but this went together in a couple of hours.

I decided to use some sturdy, cotton, knit fabric in pale, denimy blue, for the main pattern pieces and some leftover navy, stretch denim for the yoke and hem contrast pieces. I used the knit for the neckline.

I made a size 4 according to my measurements and the size chart. The fit feels just right. I like the hem length and the sleeve length, although the sleeves are just short of full-length on me (above). I think this was intended in the design, but it could be due to my monkey arms. Either way, the sleeve hem is just right for staying in place when pushed up, which is how I will mostly wear them. This pattern is available in a wide size range and can be printed with other sizes or on its own, which is a great feature.

The inset pieces were stitched with a straight stitch and the rest with an overlocker. I found it easiest to sew the insets without pins, but do follow the instructions for a neat finish. The hems are coverstitched. In addition to the printed instructions for this pattern, which I found to be perfectly adequate, Lisa has provided excellent tutorials on her blog. These would be super-helpful for a beginner or visual learner.

I was very pleasantly surprised by this pattern. I expected to like it, but not as much as I actually did when I finished making it. I can see myself wearing this a lot.

Lisa has a 20% discount on the pattern and on perfect Zircon fabrics at for a short time. Get in quick!


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