Sunday, 8 May 2016

Not My Wedding Cape: Peppermint Winter Wool Cape

A couple of weeks ago Tim and I got hitched and it was perfect!

I had considered making my wedding dress and even bought a few patterns but ended up falling hard over a dress I tried on when inspiration shopping. I absolutely loved my dress. And I'm really glad I bought a dress as Tim and I had a short engagement and trying to decide on a style, find the right fabrics, muslin and sew a dress in that time frame would have been an added stress that I didn't need.

But, I wasn't too sure what to wear over my dress in case of cool weather. I had a second-hand jacket that would do the job, but I couldn't get the idea of a blue cropped cape out of my mind. I searched the internet for inspiration and loved the idea of somehting like this, but wasn't totally convinced it would go with my dress. I decided to just give it a go and cut out the free Peppermint Sewing School Winter Wool Cape pattern. I cut a size small in some beautiful blue wool blend and blush silk fabric from Tessuti.

I made the pattern up as instructed with the following changes: I understitched the silk edge to wool seam allowances to help it stay inside the cape a little better. If I made the cape again I'd cut the silk a couple of mm's smaller than the main fabric to help with this also. I attached the neckband the opposite way around to the instructions so that the hand sewing would be on the inside. I used a hook and eye rather than a button and loops.

I love that this pattern has shoulder seams and arm space, rather than being just a semi-circle. You can still use your arms! I love the cropped length and the style. But, it wasn't right for the wedding. My dress was fitted up top and having a boxy cape took away from the shape of my dress. Also, the blue and white reminded me of an old fashioned nurse's outfit. My sister took some photos of the cape over my wedding dress for me a few days before the wedding. Below is the ridiculous photo that sealed the deal: the cape was not quite right.

But it is a lovely little cape. So that leads to question, where and how do you wear a little bright blue cape?

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

A Belated Tessuti Sydney Jacket

A post that's been half written since last winter:
I love the Tessuti aesthetic. The designs are modern, minimalist and often offer comfort through oversized, boxy or flowy styles. There are a few bloggers on my feed who make just about all Tessuti patterns and they look stunning wearing them. I'm not so sure about these boxy, flowy, often lengthened garments on my body. I generally admire these patterns on others and avoid them for myself.

This was true of the Sydney Jacket initially. And then these amazing coats kept popping up all over my blog feed. I went to a Frocktails fabric shopping get-together last year and I saw four different ladies in four equally gorgeous coats in one morning! About an hour in to the day I was convinced I'd give it a go.

I bought my fabric (wool/poly blend) from The Fabric Store and cut a size S. Due to fabric wanting to fray a little I excluded the exposed pockets and cut the front piece along the selvage. I didn't both about pattern matching because the pattern is a little origami like at first and I didn't want to stuff around figuring out the perfect match only to get it wrong. Especially as I wasn't convinced I'd even wear the coat.

The sewing was pretty darn quick. I found it helpful to mark in chalk the overlapped seam lines on the fabric when lining up pattern pieces. I really like the look of the exposed seam lines but they can get a little messy if you're not careful. On the edges of the coat I sew a line of stitching parallel to the raw edges and then purposeless frayed the edges a little.

These photos are from last winter, wearing the coat over Jeans. But since, I've been more likley to wear it over another drapey long sleeve cardigan with a fitted skirt. I wouldn't say I feel totally myself in it and I think I look a bit like I'm just wearing a blanket, but it's very warm and comfortable. I've been considering making another version but can't decide between a colourful tartan I've been dyeing to cut into and a basic black or tan.  I wonder also if a slightly thicker fabric would give it more structure and remove some of the blanket look?

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Skirt for V and her doll

Even though I've been sewing less I've still managed to fit in a little bit of sewing for others. For my nieces V's 3rd birthday I whipped her and her doll Penny matching layer skirts.

I used the free tutorial from Dana MADE It as a guide. I cut the fabric just under twice the required width for a nice full gather. I used some treasured liberty fabric paired with the same denim chambray I used for her a skirt for mum, my sister.  I sewed up the two layers and hemmed them. I then attached them together at the waist with a wrong side of one layer meeting the right side of the other.

It sounds counter-intuitive but you can then hide this upper waist seam inside the waistband by turning down both layers as appropriate and sewing them together at the lower waist seam line.  I think the skirts turned out super cute and V and penny look pretty darn cute in them.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Cropped Tate Top & A Break

First up, a favourite new top. A cropped version of the Workroom Social Tate Top. This is a free pattern which I've made (and reviewed before) as top, a lined silk dress and a teaching top for my little sister. It's a great basic modern top pattern.

I thought a cropped version would look amazing in some black voile eyelet from Tessuti. But, the cropped pattern includes a slightly curved hem at the back and an angled hem at the front, which would mean cutting into the beautiful scalloped edge of the eyelet fabric. Instead, I straightened out the hem line in order to incorporate the scallop and made the hem line even to the longest point of the top. Otherwise, I cut a standard size 8.
As I was using eyelet fabric I decided to line the fabric in some black crepe poly I had on hand. I cut the lining bodice about half an inch shorter than the main fabric so that, after hemming, it wouldn't be visible in the lower scalloped edges.
I followed the steps I used when making a lined Tate Dress. I sewed the darts and shoulder seams on the twop tops separately; sewed them together at the neck and arms; turned the tops right way out and then sewed the side seams, centre back, and lining hem. Again, I used a hook and eye in preference to a zip.
I love how this top turned out and a have warn it quite a few times. Before this version, I began sewing and abandoned a lovely lawn cropped version from fear of it showing too much stomach. I will definitely use this straightened out longer cropped hem for future versions.
Now, to my sewing/blogging hiatus. Before I started sewing I shopped. A lot. I would buy a new garment/item probably every week or two. In 2014, I was so excited by my advancing sewing skills and the ability to make the exact garment in my head for any particular occasion or just for fun. I averaged 2 garments sewn per week, sewing late into every evening. There was little need to shop anymore. As well loving learning a new skill, sewing was also an outlet during a rough patch in my PhD (the inevitable "why am I doing this?" stage).
From about mid-year last year my sewing slowed up. I since sew around once a month and blog less than that. I'm still an avid reader of sewing blog posts and take great pleasure in looking through my fabric stash, but I rarely feel the pull to sew. I haven't reverted back to weekly shoping trips. While I still love shopping, I don't like buying things I know I can make and I also just feel less need to have a new outfit every other week. I sew when I need a specific garment for an occasion. I'm not too sure why my sewing has slowed up so much but I still get so much joy from my occasional making. I'm not going to question it, just sew when I feel like sewing. In the mean time I'll probably blog few items I never got around to.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Itty Bitty Baby Clothes

My sister and brother-in-law recently had twin girls! I wanted to make something for their arrival and the free Made by Rae Itty bitty baby dress pattern came to mind, along with the free MADE diaper cover bloomers. There are so many free patterns out there for kids, but especially for newborns to 12 month old's. Aren't we aunties lucky?!

I made two 0-3 month old dresses using small pieces of liberty of london fabric and bias binding I found in my stash with contrasting pink and white gingham cotton I cut from an old dress that I no longer wear. The cotton is lovely and soft. The dress came together very quickly! Baby clothes are so quick to sew, being tiny and all.

For the bloomers I used the old MADE diaper cover pattern as I already had it printed. However, the pattern and tutorial have since been revised to improve the fold over leg holes that the leg elastic is threaded through. I made the bloomers as per the instructions except for adding a few strips of ruffled fabric on the backsides. I cut stripes around 1.5" by 10". I used my overlocker to finish the edges before attaching.

Congratulations parents Steph and Damian, and big sisters A & A,  on you're two beautiful new daughters/little sisters!

Friday, 25 September 2015

Tim's Birthday shirt 2015

It's been a couple months between posts. I haven't been sewing much and when I have been sewing I haven't felt like blogging. I've really enjoyed a break for Instagram, blog reading and my sewing-related social networking. But, with the weather warming up, I'm getting ready for some spring/summer sewing. In the meantime, some catch up posts with average (at best!) photos.

In August last year I made my first men's shirt for Tim's birthday; a Colette Patterns Negroni shirt. I made him another for his birthday this year, which marked the fifth shirt made in the last 12 months. All of his shirts are in high rotation and I love rushing out of the house each work morning realising we're both wearing clothes I've made us.

I bought this blue and white small gingham cotton shirting from Tessuti earlier in the year. I love the italian cotton shirting Tessuti have been stocking and look forward to buying more when they receive more stock. The fabric is soft with a slight sheen and it presses really well. For the contrasting sleeve plackets, under collar, and inner collar band I used salvageable fabric from one of Tim's worn out shirts. I also reused all the buttons of the old shirt.

Why yes, that is my finger at the bottom of the photo...

I was hoping to make a long sleeved version of the Simplicity 1544 I'd made Tim this summer, which has a nice traditional collar and button placket. However, Tim prefers the fit through the body of the Negroni shirt, which means I have to stick with my Negroni Archer Shirt pattern mash up to get all the shirt features his likes. For details on mash up process see my previous posts: 12.

Before I attached the buttons

I didn't do anything differently this time around. I double interfaced the collar to make it extra crisp. I overlocked the edges and sewed the S/A to one side to create faux flat fell seams. for some reason this verson seems a little tighter around Tims under arms, but it doesn't bother him.  The one main difference with this shirt is the amazing fabric which, I think, makes it look much more professional.

Tim loves his new shirt and wore it the day of his birthday. We started the day off well, filling our bellies with with nutella french brioche before heading off to work. Delicious! 

Friday, 3 July 2015

Maxi Ilsley Skirt

One last garment made and photographed in Vietnam: a maxi Marrila Walker Ilsley Skirt. The Ilsley skirt is a free pattern (woo hoo!) which, because of the elastic easy fit style, is very easy to modify into a number of different looks. My first version mostly followed the instructions and the pattern apart from changing the elastic casing method and style. This time round I made quite a few super simple modifications.


I wanted a maxi version which was very easily achieved. I just measured my desired length against my legs from where I wanted the skirt to sit at my hips; cut the pattern in three (although two would be fine) and inserted the additional inches between the top and bottom of the skirt pieces. 

Given the fabric was a drapey viscose (bought from Darn Cheap Fabrics) I wanted a bit more gathering in the skirt to "go with the flow". So I added 2" at the centre front and centre back fold. I'm not a huge fan of pockets on very drapey garments so I placed the pocket pattern piece under the front skirt pieces when cutting out the fabric to effectively remove the pocket.

I also made a few adjustment to the waistband. I still don't have any 5cm elastic on hand and I wanted this skirt to sit on my hip wear a wide waistband would be unflattering. Changes: I took about an inch of the waistband width when cutting out the fabric and sewed two button holes at the centre front to be used for the drawstring. After attaching the waistband I inserted a 3/4" piece of elastic, squished it right down toward the skirt and sewed a line of stitching right above it. This made the elastic channel the perfect width and created a nice gathered top to the skirt, kind of paperbag-esque. It's hard to describe, but it's a feature I've seen on lots of floaty maxi's in summer/surf clothing stores.

I made this skirt in a bit of a rush and the quality of the seaming at the curved hems is pretty average. None the less, I love the way it turned out and it was perfect for Vietnam. Light and cool and conservative enough for any temples we decided to fit into our day. Having a few maxi items in the luggage also helped when my white skin was struggling with the sun.

Here's a "how you doing" photo outtake. Sadly, my posts will consist of winter wear from here on out. I'm well and truly back to the reality of post-holiday life.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Scrappy Spotty Alice Top

In preparation for Vietnam, and while avoiding more time intensive winter sewing, I made another Alice top. There's not much to say this time round. See my frst, and the two I made for family here (1,2).

This time round I made the XS, but shortened the hem by 2" as the previous versions were long. Otherwise I didn't make any changes to the pattern or instructions.

I made this scrappy spotty version using various fabrics left over from other projects. I used white and blue cotton voile for the back skirt and front yoke; navy and white large spot silk crepe for the back bodice and sleeves and the small navy and white spot for front skirt. I used all these fabrics previously when sewing tops for my sister.  I lined the the front bodice pieces with a scrap of white cotton/silk blend and the back bodice with the Navy cotton with small white spots.

I wore this top heaps in Vietnam. The breezy lightweight fabric was perfect in the heat and it went really well with my denim Tap shorts. The Alice Top is a great pattern to use up scraps. 

Friday, 26 June 2015

A Maxi Emery Dress

Tim and I just came home from a 2 and a bit week holiday in Vietnam. It was absolutely amazing and we can't wait to start planning our next holiday. Before we left I made a couple of summer items for the trip. First up, a maxi version of the Emery Dress pattern by Christine Haynes.

I've made this pattern quite a few times  (1, 2, 3, 4).  I find the bodice really comfortable and easily paired with various skirt styles. A few of temples in Vietnam require conservative dress and my summer wear is mostly sleeveless tops and shorts so I thought a maxi dress (with a scarf over my shoulders when needed) would fill a luggage gap of conservative as well as evening wear.

I made the dress up using some $2 table Darn Cheap Fabric Viscose that you'll have seen around the blogosphere (here and here). The fabric seemed perfect for the tropical weather - bright and summery but cool and flowing.

I made an unlined sleeveless version in size 6 as usual. I took 1.5 cm off the arm holes at the shoulders grading to nothing at the underarm, scooped out the neckline a bit and took another .5cm from the centre back seam which I'd already modified in a previous iteration. Viscose has more stretch to it than other fabrics I've used for this pattern before and unfortunately I distorted the fabric at the centre back seam a little when inserted the zipper. For the skirt I used all the fabric I had left from the bodice, including selvage edges. I simple cut four rectangles and sewed them together before gathering and attaching at the waist. The width of the rectangles isn't substantial so I including leg slits to allow more room to move.

Excuse the dark photos. These were taken at the Sky Deck in Ho Chi Min City on our last evening in Vietnam. We went just before sunset and stayed to see the city lights after dark.  I also wore this dress, along with a scarf over my shoulders, to Ho Chi Min's Mausoleum in Hanoi on what was one of the hottest days of our trip. It was a great dress to have on the trip and I look forward to wearing it again once summer comes around in Australia.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Megan Nielsen Brumby Skirt

I pattern tested the Brumby Skirt for Megan Nielsen and I have nothing but positive things to say about the just released pattern. It's a gathered skirt with deep curved pockets, an exposed back zip and various length and fullness options.

I made up version A in a size M out of some gorgeous lightweight black denim from The Cloth Shop with a 7" zip and liberty offcuts for the facing and pocket lining. I love the length of version A. It's mini without being too revealing. I also like that this pattern has a curved waistband, it's absolutely necessary for such a wide waistband.

The instructions were clear and detailed. I found the instructions for the exposed back zip really interesting and thorough. I'll definitely use them again for other patterns as they made for a lovely and easily inserted zip.

I did a lot of top stitching on this skirt and it was my first time using topstitching thread. In some places the thickness of the denim and the thread threw the tension off so it's a bit bubbly on the wrong side. But, I love the way the tan thread looks against the denim.

This is a super fun pattern to make and wear and I'd really like to make a midi version despite knowing that it just wouldn't suit me. Especially as I rarely wear heels. I look forward to seeing others versions pop up all over the web to see how they wear the midi style.

I've previously made up two patterns by Megan Nielsen (Tania Culottes and the Cascade Skirt), both skirts that are just a little bit different and special. I wear them both, but the simpler design of the Brumby skirt means it fits more into my everyday lifestyle. It's a go to option on the weekend in winter (with tights) or summer. I took the pattern testing photos in summer but I've got a heap of wear from the skirt since the cooler weather hit. 

* I received the brumby skirt pattern in exchange for  pattern testing. It was my choice to blog the final garment*