Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Simplicity 2154 Pussy Bow Blouse

I really like the Pussy Bow Blouse look. Strangely I've only made one bow blouse before - Gertie's bow tie blouse. I wear that blouse a bit but can sometimes find it restrictive around my neck so I liked the idea of trying out a pattern with a lower neckline. I bought Simplicity 2154 in a spotty sale, sold on the idea of getting a cardigan and a skirt in the same pattern envelope.

I cut the pattern in a size 12 from a stunning Black cotton voile from The Cloth Shop which has a pattern woven through it. I love the fabric, it's interesting while still being a solid colour. I really need more solid colour tops to wear with patterned skirts.

The instructions were reasonably easy to follow, but there were quite a few more steps than I expected and it ended up taking a couple of afternoons to sew up. The facings are bias tape which is sewn over, and under, the collar. The thickness around the neck does make the collar and bow sit a bit chunkily, despite trimming and clipping into the neck seam.

I used a normal, non-lapped invisible zip purely because I'm more comfortable with this style. I do aim to to sew some lapped zipper this year, though.

The instructions state to add a button and thread loop but no detail is provided on how to make the loop. I used a tutorial Tessuti recently posted to make the button loop; the video is fantastic! I will definitely be making more button loops in the future. Tiny hook and eyes at the back neckline can some times be a nuisance to open and close, and I often need a hand from Tim. 

Note that the bow is not a self-tie bow. It is gathered at the centre and then sewn on. I found it very difficult to gather up the bow and ended up doing this with a hand needle and thread. The thickness around the bow and neckline can be tricky to handle. 

The fit is slightly off, but not enough to bother me. There's room to go down a size all over next time, but I do like the comfort of the larger fit. I think the top looks good untucked with pants too.

This pattern has been made up a lot in the sewing blog world, and I'm not surprised. It's a fun, no-fuss blouse to wear. I will get heaps of wear out of this one and may make another in the future in a different colour. Perhaps white. I wore it work on Monday with my pocketless cord V1247. I would also like to make a few more of these skirts for myself before winter as they are great with tights.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Bluegingerdoll Alicia Shorts

I pattern tested the Bluegingerdoll Alicia Shorts which were recently released as part of the "A team" collection. I really like shorts, in particular high waisted shorts that flare out at the leg and finish mid thigh. Based off the line drawings I adore these shorts.

I made up a size 12 in some slightly stretchy blue and white striped twill fabric from GJ's. I love how the fabric looks on this pattern. Very summery (speaking of Summer, please come back!)

The instructions are clear and the shorts came together incredibly quickly as there are no tricky closures (just an invisible zip) or any pockets or belt loops to construct. I think belt loops would be a sweet addition however so you can keep a belt secure around the waist.

The fit around the waist and hips is spot on and I love the look of my shorts on the hanger. Unfortunately, I don't love the way they fit around the crotch. There seems to be excessive fabric around the front region which is being pulled every which way and bunches up as I walk around. The crotch curve seems like it fits well but I wonder if I dropped the crotch lower it could help the fabric sit better at the front.

Above and below is how the shorts sit after walking around for a few seconds. They really bunch up and the resulting look is very different to how they look when smoothed down.

Overall, I love the style of the shorts, the fabric and the fit around the waist but, sadly, I'm a little disappointed about the front fit on me. 

I received the Alicia Shorts pattern for free, in exchange for pattern testing. 

Friday, 6 February 2015

Nat's Miette Skirt

I've just given my sister a Tilly and the buttons Miette Skirt after saying I would make it about 2 months ago. Thankfully there is still some summer left to wear it.

first made the made up a miette skirt in 2013. It was one of my very first sewn garments. I remember it taking a while to sew but coming out lovely and giving me a huge confidence boost. I wore it a lot for about 6 months. I made up another skirt for myself and one for Nat in black drill with green contrast ties around the same time. Over 12 months later, I found myself making another version for Nat in a gorgeous denim chambray from the Cloth Shop, and finding it to be one of the fastest and simplest garments I've sewn in months.

Sewing Nat's Miette took no more than an afternoon, plus a tv show to hand sew down the waistband facing. On my first attempts at this skirt I followed the detailed online tutorials exactly. This time I glanced at the 1 page checklist and, if I'm honest, I could have easily sewn the skirt without it. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, I'm just quite shocked to find something I found tricky to now seem ridiculously easy.

I don't wear my Miette's much anymore, as they're a bit faded and ratty, but I suddenly feel the need for another one just like this. Nat wear's her miette's around her hips so I cut her the same size that I would wear around my waist and it fits us both perfectly. But, of course, a wrap skirt is a lot more forgiving to size differences. Below is the same skirt but tied around the waist. Hmmm, yes, I may need a matching one!

There are plenty of similar vintage patterns out there for a nice A-line wrap skirt but for a beginner I absolutely recommend this pattern purely for the instructions alone.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Another Shirt For Tim: Negroni Archer Hack #2

Another shirt for Tim. I cut this one out ages ago after seeing a man on a tram wearing a similar black and white gingham contrast shirt.

I again used my hacked Negroni Archer pattern pieces. See this post for more details on that. I made one further mod by taking out a further 1/2"of fabric from the width of each sleeve and the fit is better in this shirt than the previous versions.

I made a few mistakes at the time of cutting out. I some how cut the front bodice pieces with a thinner centre front. To solve this issue I used tiny seam allowances and cut slightly wider button plackets. Thankfully, it doesnt seem to have affected the fit. 

When attaching the collar I found that the collar stand was a good half an inch larger than it should have been. I had absolutely no spare fabric so I eased those collar stands in like crazy. You can't really tell from the outside but the centre back inside is a mess! By this time I considered binning the shirt but Tim convinced me that some of his RTW shirts have wrinkly collar stands from excess fabric and that it really didn't look that bad.

I used the contrasting fabric for the back yoke, inner collar stand, button placket, cuff placket and cuff facings. Because this shirt was looking to be on the dodgy side I simply faux felled the seams by sewing the seam allowance, overlocking the edges and top stitching them to one side at the side and sleeve seams.  I don't regret this, it still looks nice inside and out. 

The final shirt fit great and you can't see any of my terrible mistakes. The fabric contrast is really fun but still professional enough for work.

The Negroni bodice really fits Tim very well but I'm keen to try other shirt patterns that don't require as much hacking to get the look he's after. Next up is a Simplicity 1544 with short sleeves. I've even gone to the effort of making a muslin. I have some gorgeous Tessuti shirting I'm going to use for the real thing and after that I might take a little break from men's shirt making.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Vogue 8901 Or The Dress With Room For Your Cat

First up let me say this post is going to be photo heavy as I wanted to show the dress in it's best and worst light. V8901 is a dress pattern with maxi or knee length options, a lined bodice front and back that overlap around the sides and a pleated skirt. The pattern provides either a centre back zip or long key hole back option. There have been mixed reviews about the fit of this dress and all versions I've seen have had at least some underarm gaping where the bodice overlaps. Perhaps you're thinking how lovely and smooth my dress looks? No gape in sight.

Yeah, right! And then I stand with my usual bad posture and the gape appears. However, it is a thousand times better than what it started out as. 

I cut a straight size 12 of version A. There are only a couple of pattern pieces however the bodice pieces are cut twice as it is self-lined. The fabric is a very pretty cotton Lawn from The Cloth Shop. It's very like liberty in its soft feel and ability to take a really crisp press. I adore it! 

I made the bodice and tried it on for size. In the below photo the left side has had the excess fabric pinned down around the side overlap. On the right side you can see that the mighty gape is a suitable pocket for keeping your pet (or pincushion) cat. The gape is oh so unflattering, revealing and just plain silly.

I pinned the excess fabric out of the sides which caused the front sides to drop below the waist line by about 3cm. I then basted the bodice pieces together and trimmed the fabric to re-balance the waistline. I had to hack quite a bit of fabric off to make it even and I was concerned about the loss in bodice length. To combat this I cut a waistband to insert between the bodice and skirt and I actually really like the look of it.  I tacked the overlapped bodice together just under the arm hole for modesty.

Regarding fitting, I also took 1/2" from the shoulders and fitted the zipper with a 1"S/A at the centre back neckline ease down to the 5/8" allowance. I still have excess gape in my centre back and centre front, but this was the best I could do while keeping this dress wearable. 

Fitting aside, the dress was a simple and fast project. The bodice and lining is constructed first with the lining pulled right side out through the bodice shoulders. A self lined bodice looks so neat and may actually be faster than neckline and armhole binding.

The pleats took some time to carefully press and sew, but I have so many gathered skirts that the pleats are a nice change. I sewed a really narrow hem (I'm 5'4). Taller ladies, add length if you want more coverage. The instructions were clear and easy to follow.

I would like to make a fancy maxi version of V8901 but I'd need to smooth out some of the above fitting issues first. Though, I had a lot of fun making this dress. It's far from perfect but I'll definitely get wear out of it over summer.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Denim K & L Tap Shorts

I'm in love with the Katy & Laney Tap Short Pattern and this pair of shorts in particular!

I wasn't, however, in love with this Tessuti Alice top on me. It may have been something to do with my atrocious hair at the time, but I just didn't feel it flattered me. Even so, I've reached for this top a heap this summer as it's so darn comfy and easy to wear. One lovely sewing friend mentioned that it would look great with denim shorts and I was a girl possessed after that. Must make denim shorts! Short story: I did, they are awesome, and they look awesome with Alice. 

It was an obvious decision to make the pockets/facings etc with the leftover cotton/ linen blend from my Alice top. The main fabric is a 3% stretch dark denim from Tessuti. It's a really nice weight and was very affordable. I'm not sure how it would perform for jeans but it's gorgeous for these shorts.

I've previously made the Tap Short's in version B Front (pleats) with Back 2 (Welt pockets) in size 8. The fit was spot on last time. This time I made version C front with a zip fly front and angled side pockets. I used a hook and bar instead of a button to fasten the shorts and finished all the insides with my overclocker. I flat felled the crotch seam for a more traditional jeans look, and stitched in the ditch to secure the waist band rather than catch stitching down. The instructions suggest interfacing the waistband and the facing, but given the weight of the denim I only interfaced the facings.

The pieces came together beutifully and the instructions were excellent. The fly went in really well. My only complaint is that some how my fly shield ended up about 1/2"  too thin but it doesn't affect the shorts at all.
Update: A friend pondered whether I had a small fitting issue around the hips that resulted in the pockets poofing open as seen above. Thanks for the constructive feedback Rachel! I definitely have enough ease around my hips and the pockets mostly sit perfectly flat. I think the photo above is the result of me rushing to stuff the thick denim and linen pocket lining back in so Tim could take some quick snaps. Not to say the shorts fit perfectly but they are pretty darn close.

After making my first pair of Tap Shorts I wasn't sure about the high waisted look. I now realise that they are actually some of the most flattering and comfortable shorts I own and I'm so glad to have added another comfy pair to my wardrobe. These shorts are going to be flogged this summer.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Catherine's Alice top

This year I sewed a present for Tim's mum, Catherine, for Christmas. 

When I made up my first Tessuti Alice Top I knew it would suit her perfectly so put away in my mind the idea that I might make her a version at some point. In November I saw this gorgeous red and white textured cotton Japanese lawn in The Cloth Shop and knew it had to be for Cathy. This fabric just looks like her. The yoke and armbands are lined with a cotton  / silk blend. 

I wanted the present to be a surprise so I had some drama's trying to figure out appropriate sizing in discussions with Tim and his Dad. I tried visually sizing her up (which was weird) but one thing sewing will teach you is that actual body measurements are different from RTW and what you think someone looks like. In the end I took a gamble and made up the top in the XS (same size as me). Thank goodness, it fits! The size is spot on and Cathy wore the top Christmas evening.

I was very nervous and excited to give this gift and so relieved when it fit. Cathy looked fantastic in this style top and the beautiful fabric. For a review on making up this top, including printing tips check out my first and second versions. That's the last of my hand made 2014 Christmas gifts. Better get started on next years. Jokes, it's going to be all about me me me for a while!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Floral Colette Iris Shorts

Last Summer I made my butcher Orange Iris Shorts. The fit wasn't perfect but what annoyed me more was that the linen rayon stretched strangely and wrinkled badly. I cut another pair at the time, then came 9 months of cool weather in Melbourne. I finally made up that second pair. 

Again, I made version 1, cutting a size 8 but with the length extended to a size 18. The only change I made was to exclude the front in seam pockets as I found them really annoyingly positioned. The fabric is a Darn Cheap Fabrics cotton sateen. When cutting out the pieces last summer I went to the effort to pattern match the front leg seam - see below. Pretty happy with my efforts! 

The fit is slightly better in this sturdy fabric without the front pockets. I sewed the crotch with a smaller seam allowance and that also helped to improve the fit. The crotch on my last pair was well too high. This pair is passable - just. But I find the waist band sits at an uncomfortable level for me. It's not on my hips or at my waist. It sits right across by stomach / food baby. For highwaisted shorts I'd prefer the K & L Tap shorts which sits comfortable on my natural waist. 

Tim really likes these shorts but I was worried the dark floral looked more like PJ shorts. I took the vote to Instagram and was convinced otherwise, thanks friends! 

I will wear these shorts this summer and I do think they are fun but I don't know that I'll be sewing up the Iris Shorts pattern again. Summer shorts need to be comfy and the mid waist rise just isn't. I think I'll go on a short sewing bender this summer. I've just sewn up another pair of K & L Tap shorts and I really want to try the Grainline Studio Maritime Shorts for a low rise short pattern. Does anyone have any other favourite Short patterns they'd recommend?

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Playing Teacher: Another Tate Top

We gifted my sister Gen a sewing machine for her 18th birthday. I knew she was interested in sewing and I kind of assumed she had some very basic sewing knowledge just because, well, why not? She didn't, because, well, why would she (silly me!)? I promised her a sewing lesson on Boxing day and arrived with a few bits and pieces that she wouldn't already have. I sat in front of her sewing machine with her. She knew nothing, and I realised just how much there was to learn before even turning the machine on!

I took her through the basics: thread the needle, fill the bobbin, straight stitch, zig zag stitch, stitch lengths and back stitching. She practiced for a few minutes on some scrap fabrics. Gen was keen to get straight into trying a pattern after this despite knowing nothing -  really nothing! I told her the first step was to iron the fabric before we can cut out the pattern pieces. She said she didn't know how to iron...

I chose the Tate Top for Gen because its an incredibly simple pattern with no tricky closures, it only requires fitting around the bust and I had it on hand. Gen cut a size 0, after talking through taking measurements, pattern sizing and ease. I ran through how to cut the pieces from the fabric and we got started with the sewing. 

By the end of the day she had a finished top, made from some spotlight cotton lawn I'd gifted her and she knew how to sew darts, finish her seams with zig zag and do french seams, make a hem, use bias binding, hand sew a hook and eye, and, get this, iron!

The top isn't perfect but it looks great and no one would be able to tell that some of stitching is a little wonky or that it was hand made. I think Gen did an absolutely amazing job and it was lovely to teach someone so keen to learn. In hindsight, maybe I should have started her on a tote bag or something similar but I think she's more interested in sewing clothes, so why not jump straight in to it?