Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Boucle sweater knit - what a great fabric discovery!

While places in the world with seemingly endless fabric choices (Hello America) have probably been sewing with this for ages, it's a new discovery for me. And I love it! It is boucle sweater knit from 'Fashion Fabrics Club', which I found while choosing my prize for the Pattern Review jeans contest.

The fabric is the weight of fleece and is slightly fluffy inside like fleece. The outside is textured a bit like towelling and it's soft and cosy and fabulous. I've made a jumper and a jacket with my, almost 2 yard, length.

Image source
For the jumper, my inspiration was this picture (above).

I used the Briar t-shirt pattern as the basis for this. I lengthened the front and back and lowered the front hemline curve. I made the neckline higher, drafted long sleeves and added cuffs and a hemline band in black ponte.

Simple to make and cosy to wear.

With the remainder of my fabric I made a jacket using my old favourite Jalie 2795. I used black ponte again for contrast on the shoulder pieces, collar, cuffs and hip band.

I have made this pattern up many, many times. It's a great pattern but, in some of my versions (adult and child versions), the jacket was a bit short. 

Jalie 2795
This time I added 5cm to the length of the jacket. I left the pocket openings where they were so I have lovely, deep pockets in this jacket.

I also added some piping for a bit more interest. It is made from a knit remnant from Potter's Textiles and is just a folded strip of fabric, not real piping. I'm not sure if I love the piping, but it's ok. It's a bit hard to see but I doubled the cuff length. I can fold the cuffs down to the tops of my fingers on cold days.

I bought a longer zip so it would fit the new jacket length. This one was from Spotlight.

You can see the boucle fabric quite well in this picture, although it doesn't really do it justice. Oh yes, I also did a bit of quilting on the shoulder panel. 

Jalie patterns seem to have lots of little tricks for getting a great finish on garments. These pockets, for example, are so easy to make with the excellent instructions provided.

This is just the best jacket for wearing inside and out in Perth's cooler weather, where the houses are often colder inside than outside. Heating, what heating?

I've had this finished for a couple of weeks and have been wearing it non-stop. I'll certainly be looking out for more of this fabric locally in the future. I hope I find some!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Splattered jacket - Patrones 34 No. 55

A while back, my local newsagent stocked Patrones magazines. Sadly, they can no longer get them, but I did buy a few copies when they were available. I love Patrones patterns as they tend to be stylish and current. They also offer lots of new designs in every issue, unlike the repetition we often get from Burdastyle.

Issue 34 from a couple of years ago was bursting with gorgeous coat patterns and I fell in love with this military-style trench coat. Ever since then I have been waiting for the right fabric to make one. I was after ripstop cotton, recommended by Carolyn for her army jacket and apparently occasionally available in Spotlight. However, many trips to Spotlight and elsewhere failed to locate any and I grew increasingly despondent. That is until I won a voucher for Fashion Fabrics Club, an online store in the US, in the Pattern Review Jeans Contest. Ripstop cotton was my first search and they had it! I bought some in green and orange. I also bought a few other things and spent far more than my voucher value! Note to international buyers: the postage was exorbitant (US$135 for this order, yes you read that correctly) and the amount is not calculated until after the order is packed. Also, the website doesn't tell you, but it only takes US credit cards so you need to phone in your order sometime during the early hours. Despite these drawbacks, I am thrilled with all my purchases and have already made some things.

Anyway, back to the coat which is not made from any of the above fabrics. Sorry!

This is my wearable muslin for the real deal made from the olive green ripstop cotton. I don't usually bother with a muslin, but since I was getting the fabric from overseas and it cost more to post than to actually buy AND given that the instructions were in Spanish, I thought I'd better have a practise first.

This coat is made using some black stretch woven, possibly bengaline, with bleach spatters all over it. I bought this at a designer fabric sale because, although it came as lots of oddly-shaped pieces, I thought it looked cool and interesting. I love a good rummage at a designer sale (thanks Bronwyn for the fun outing). It took quite some time to cut out this coat in the end because the pieces were often not quite big enough for my pattern pieces. I did have to sew some together to fit everything on. Luckily the bleach splatters hide the joining seams quite well.

My previous attempts of typing Patrones Spanish instructions into Google translate have yielded hilarious but wholly unhelpful results. I decided this time to just work this out myself. The only things I did translate were the names of each pattern piece, which did help a lot. However, let me just say that 15 pattern pieces plus several strips of fabric for the belt, tabs, facings etc. did not make for a stress-free, instruction-free construction experience. Unsurprisingly, I got myself into quite a muddle involving jettisoning the hood through the nearest window and redrafting the collar to fit the ever-widening front sections. When I had finished the entire jacket, I realised that the front was too wide as I'd done something weird with the zip plackets. This is difficult to explain, but I think I know what to do next time. The picture below has the zipped-up front folded over itself at the top as it's so wide. I'm choosing to ignore this problem.

Anyway, focussing on the positives, I was pleased with the way the pockets turned out. I love the long tab that runs from the upper to the lower pocket, feeding through a welt hole in the lower pocket flap.

The pockets from the side:

And the matching tab at the back, forming the belt carrier.

The bleach effect was varied and interesting and I like how it looks. I tried to match the different bleach patterns a bit like here on the sleeve and cuff.

The coat is a perfect fit (apart from the wide front) and is super-comfortable due to the stretchy fabric. My ripstop has minimal stretch so I may need to allow for this in the next version.

Can you spot some fabric piecing in the pictures above and below? Hint: at the hemline.

Making this involved some swearing and seam ripping but I got there in the end and learned some useful lessons about jacket construction. I've made several notes for next time and I've been working on some less-taxing projects as I psyche myself up for the next attempt at this coat. I actually really love this version and have worn it out a few times already on cooler evenings.

Worn here with StyleArc Elle pants (unblogged but I just love these) and Seed boots.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Burdastyle Dress (02/2015 #129) - Opinions required!

This is the descriptively named Shift Dress with Slits from the February 2015 issue of Burdastyle. I liked the picture in the magazine and, despite having some reservations, leapt on the cocoon-shaped dress trend bandwagon.

Burdastyle 02/2015#129

The final result has me feeling rather underwhelmed. Actually very underwhelmed now I compare my dress with the magazine picture. Images of Moomintrolls spring to mind...

A Moomintroll Source

Oh dear. The poor lighting isn't helping either. I had a camera problem, combined with a dog barking at new Guinea pig problem resulting in a rather shouty neighbour and a less-than-stellar photo session.

I wanted a winter dress, so chose some ponte pieces from my stash that went together. The grey was used for the main part of the dress, some black and white spots for the under sleeves and front neckline facing and some grey spots for the shoulders, upper sleeves and side panels. The grey spot with random black lines was a very thick and weird fabric I had bought at an op shop ages ago. I have no idea what I was thinking as it's more like something you would cover car seats with than make clothes from. Anyway, the colour went so I used it. I probably should have given it back to the op shop instead.

The lines of this pattern are quite interesting. I like how the side and shoulder panels meet under the arm (below) and how the pockets are incorporated into the side panel.

I incorporated the slits in the front hemline, but omitted the ones in the sleeves as I wanted this to be warm. I added small cuffs instead.

Now, I don't hate this dress, but I don't love it either and I can't quite decide why. I think the shape is not the best on me and looks oversized, even though I went down a size from my usual Burda size for this dress. I have this urge to take in the side seams, but that would spoil the nice seam lines at the sides. I also wonder about the colour. It's a bit bland and pale-looking, although this could be the fault of the black tights and boots. 

I am on the verge of chopping it off into a jumper. I would lose the pockets, but keep the shape and seam lines. I could put a band around the hem to match the cuffs, or not. I wonder whether it would look more sporty and less Moomin as a jumper. I would love to hear suggestions and I will post an update with the final decision.

Hmmm, what to do?

Friday, 29 May 2015

Paprika Patterns Jade skirt

With lots of sun about, but a nip in the air, it was time for some winter sewing. I bought the Jade skirt pattern at the same time as I bought the Jasper sweater pattern and have been waiting for some cooler weather to make it.

This is a lovely skirt for the cold weather as it's fully lined and figure-hugging, so very warm and cosy. The front is folded in a zig-zag pattern and the back is plain. After making this, I have much admiration for Lisa of Paprika patterns as it must have been a very difficult pattern to create. She has done a fantastic job of getting the sizing, instructions and drafting spot on. It is very well thought out and even has a completely clean finish on the inside.

The folds are the trickiest part, but as long as you keep your wits about you and use many pins to keep everything in place, it's quite straightforward. Each fold is held in place by a line of stitching and it helps to pin the fold back and pin all around the area to be stitched so nothing moves. Once the front is done, it's plain sailing to make this skirt.

There are two options for length. I made the longer version and omitted the back exposed zip. This skirt just pulls on and is perfect for accommodating large lunches. I used a thick, two-way stretch fabric, like ponte but probably stretchier. I used thin black knit fabric for the lining to reduce bulk. I made a straight size 4 and reduced the seam allowance slightly towards the hemline so it wasn't quite so tight.

I wore this skirt out for coffee with friends this morning and felt warm, comfy and a little bit chic! The jacket is Burdastyle 12/2012 #139, made last year.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Alabama Chanin skirt and top

This has been a long time in the making and an even longer time in the blogging pile. It's an Alabama Chanin outfit, that was not really planned as an outfit, just worn as such for this blog post.

Both pieces are made from patterns found in the Alabama Chanin books. The skirt is from 'Alabama Studio Sewing and Design' and is a simple, four panel skirt. The top is from 'Alabama Studio Style' and is a more fitted style with princess panels and a flared hemline. The edges are encased with a folded strip of fabric hand stitched in place and the hemlines are left raw.

I used two different Alabama Chanin stencils. The top is made with the 'Large Medallion' stencil and the skirt with the 'Bloomers' stencil. 

The top was made with two layers of white knit fabric. The stencil was applied using watered down acrylic paint and a sponge brush. I used mostly grey thread for the stitching, with the occasional bit of orange thrown in when I got bored. I did the stitching with a double strand of thread and used a running stitch for the reverse applique and the seams. A criss-cross stretch stitch was used for the neckline and armhole binding.

I initially didn't like the fit of the top as the lower half was quite tight and unflattering. I eventually unpicked the stitches and redid them making the seams as tiny as I dared. It now flares out more and I'm happier with the fit.

I made the skirt before the top and used two colours of knit fabric, purple underneath and grey/black on top. I used black thread and wished later that I'd chosen a contrasting colour for more interest. I also only used a single strand of thread for the applique and I worry that the skirt is too delicate to wear. 

The 'Bloomers' stencil was far more labour intensive than the 'Medallion' pattern, but I happily sewed it on holiday last year and enjoyed the process. I always think it's funny how AC garments don't pattern match at the seams when usually, we sewing bloggers, do our utmost to get that pattern spot on!

I really like the slight A-line shape of the skirt. It is very comfortable to wear.

I have had both pieces finished for ages and have never worn either of them. I feel like I should save them for a special occasion in case they fall apart after the first outing. I would be interested to hear how others have fared in their Alabama Chanin garments. Do they stand up to real life wear? It does seem a shame not to wear them after the hours of work put into the making.


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