Saturday, 27 September 2014

Negroni 2: A Pattern Hack

Last month I made Tim a muslin Colette Patterns Negroni Shirt for his birthday with the promise of making more in the future. He wears his shirt to work regularly but had a few suggestions for improvements. Tim requested: slimmer cut sleeves; a traditional button band and placket rather than shirt front facings; a stiffer collar with a collar stand.

Negroni Archer shirt hack

I could have tried a different pattern, but they often lacked other must haves (e.g. back yoke, contrasting cuff placket, slim fit). So, in attempts to get the best of all worlds I spliced together the Negroni Pattern with my beloved Archer shirt pattern (made here and here). On comparing the sizing of the Tim's store bought shirts with my Archers I found that the width of the collar and collar stand was pretty much the same, but the length of the collar/stand/neckline would need to be increased. Same goes for the button plackets. 

Negroni Archer shirt hack

Note: Peter has done some tutorials on adapting the Negroni pattern for a traditional placket and collar, but of course I didn't realise until after making the shirt.
So, here what I did:
- Photo copied Archer collar and stand patterns. Added about 1/2" to each piece at the fold/centre line. Thus providing 1" more neck room.
- The Archer pattern has 1/2" seams allowances, Negroni has 5/8". Before attaching the collar stand I trimmed down the Negroni neckline by 1/8".
- I interfaced both sides of the collar and collar stand for a stiffer collar. Although I really need to buy some shirt crisp interfacing.
- I compared the Negroni shirt front to the archer shirt front. If you line up the button placement line on either pattern it's easy to see where you should add width for the right side (where the button placket is folded over) and remove width for the left side ( where you attach the button placket). It's important to consider: 1) women's shirts button up the opposite way to men's; 2) remember to use 1/2" seams allowances or add 1/8"to the right side of the shirt and the contrasting button placket; 3) add length to the button placket pieces as the shirt is much longer than the archer pattern.
- Trimmed down sleeves by 1/2". I cut and overlapped the pattern by 1/4" in two places on each sleeve. I also decreased the width of the cuffs pleat to allow for this.

Negroni Archer shirt hack

The changes worked out even better than I expected (it was a gamble cutting straight into the 'good' fabirc). I particularly prefer the crispness of the button placket on this version compared to the Negroni pattern. Next time I will take more width out of the sleeves as they are still baggy. Luckily this is a casual shirt, so Tim will wear it most often with the sleeves rolled up anyway. I'd also shorten the shirt slightly. Unfortunately I didn't notice on the first version as it's always tucked into work pants.

Negroni Archer shirt hack

I made Tim's shirt out of two gorgeous linens from Tessuti. The check is Heart On Sleeve and the solid is Indigo flip (I think). The fabric was amazing to sew with and I was pleased with my pattern matching efforts on the side seams and centre front. Sadly, I only have a small amount of the check left so I wont be able to make a matching top for myself. 

Negroni Archer shirt hack


Thursday, 25 September 2014

Open Wide Zippy Pouch

For my little sisters 18th birthday, Tim, my sister, brother in law and I bought her a basic sewing machine. It's an Elna 2000. Pretty much identical to my Janome except that it already includes additional feet. Gen's a crafty lady and I know she'll get some good use out of the machine over time.

To go with the machine we purchased a few "getting started" goodies like scissors, pins, etc. All we needed was somewhere to put those goodies. I found the perfect fabric at spotlight to make up a zippy sewing pencil case.

Open wide zipper pouch

For the pattern I used the colour blocked version of the open wide zippered pouch tutorial from Noodlehead. In the spirit of Scraptember I used scraps from two of my Alder Shirtdresses for the lining and lower part of the pouch. I also got scrappy when interfacing. I used lots of small left over pieces to cover the lining pieces. I wonder, do others throw out small pieces of interfacing or do you piece it together?

Open wide zipper pouch

The tutorial is fantastic! There are three different size options. I made the largest for my sister and a medium one for myself. I will definitely make more for makeup bags, odds and end etc. It would be great to try a waterproofed fabric version. It's a great project for using up fabric scraps. 

Open wide zipper pouch

Happy 18th Birthday Gen!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Sew Cheap September Free Pattern Review: Hot Cocoa Sweater

This month I've been dealing with headcolds and a lack of inspiration. I have a number of free dress patterns I'd like to sew up for my monthly Sew Cheap Make and Pattern Review, but the weather isn't quite on my side yet. Enter Dixie DIY's Hot Cocoa Sweater. This pattern is a one size only, loose fitting, raglan sleeve, cropped high-low knit sweater. It's been made up my many other bloggers so get google-ing for more photos and inspiration.


In terms of sizing the sweater is recommended for women with a bust size of 34". However, the finished bust is a loose fitting 39". I'm a 35.5" bust and there is still plenty of room in chest area. Because this pattern is a loose fitting knit, it will fit across a fair few body types/sizes. It's also a fairly simple pattern so it should be reasonably easy to fudge your way through some basic grading.

I made up the sweater in a cozy light weight sweater knit from the Clear it warehouse. I can't recall the fabric content. What I can say is that it's incredibly soft, is grey and has a pretty silver thread through it. The colour is fairly dull, but perfect for a cozy weekend wear.


I sewed the sweater on my overlocker following the instructions precisely, except for top stitching the collar and seams. My sewing machine despises knits and I was lucky just to twin needle the hem without my machine eating the fabric and creating holes. The instructions don't have any diagrams but are thorough enough for most beginner sewers.


Something I LOVED about this pattern was the actual PDF. Each of the pattern tiles is positioned to the top left of page so that there's only left over paper to the right and bottom of the page. That means that you dont have to trim the pages before taping them together. This made me so happy. Dixie removed an entire step from the process! Why aren't all PDF patterns like this?!


I also love the resulting Sweater. I can definitely see a few more Hot Cocoa Sweaters in my life. Changes I'd make next time are to lengthen the arms, they are about an 1"too short; take the cuffs in by about 1/2" for a firmer fit, and; vary the length and make some non high-low versions just to mix things up. Overall, the Hot Cocoa Sweater pattern is a great beginner friendly option for a loose fitting knit jumper. The only draw back being that it comes in just one size.


Only three more free pattern makes and reviews for the year. Any body else freaking out about how quickly this year is passing and the prospect of the soon-to-be here Christmas period?

If you like this post, check out my Sew Cheap: Top Tips Sew Cheap: Free Patterns and previous Sew Cheap posts. 

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Emery - Elisalex Hybrid

Early in this year I bought the Emery Dress and the Elisalex Dress patterns from Indie Stitches. I've since posted three emery dresses plus two emery skirts. In contrast, I've posted 0 - zilch Elisalex dresses. I have actually made one Elisalex, which I've finally made wearable, that I'll post another time. I ended up loving the Elisalex skirt, but the fitting issues with the bodice just weren't worth the effort for a basic princess seamed bodice (more on that to come). Enter the Emery Elisalex hybrid.

Emery Elisalex Dress

I bought this amazing fabric from kinki gerlinki who sell a small amount of varied unidentified fabrics. I have know idea what this fabric is. The rose print is embroidered on with a soft (maybe silk) thread) and the peach background fabric is sheer, crisp and melts under a warm iron. It's quite sheer so it had to be fully underlined in a white cotton lawn (e.g. what I had around).

Emery Elisalex Dress

To make my Emery Elisalex hybrid I cut an Emery bodice in a size 6, grading to an 8 from the bust down. I made my usual alterations (see here)I cut the Elisalex skirt in a size 14 and shortened the pattern by 9" (I'm an average 5'5 tall). 

Emery Elisalex Dress

After underlining all the pieces I sewed the dress pieces together with French seams (except for the waist and back seam. I basted the skirt to the bodice to see how the seams, darts and pleats aligned from the two patterns. They were way off! I unpicked the skirt pleats and re-pinned the skirt to the bodice aligning the centre back and side seams. I then re-inserted the box pleats, making them the size of the left over fabric. This means that the back pleats ended up being slightly wider, and more similar to the original pattern, than the front pleats.  This isn't too noticeable while on and I'd rather it to unmatched seams.

Emery Elisalex Dress

I used the zip I had on hand, which was white. I regret it. moving right along. I finished the armholes and neckline with purchased bias binding. So that the shell of the dress was uninterrupted I hand stitched the binding and hem. It was really nice to take the extra effort with this dress and it does make it feel a little more special.

Emery Elisalex Dress

I'm really happy with how this Emery Elisalex hybrid dress turned out. I'll definitely be combining these patterns again.  It's just a little bit extra special compared my usual makes. I wore this dress to the Melbourne Frocktails event hosted by Oanh. There were so many gorgeous dresses in one room. In fact we got asked by a man in the restaurant who we were and why we all looked so fabulous? It was a lovely night, but of course we all wished we were attending the Sydney version.

Emery Elisalex Dress

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Colour Blocked Jackie Coat

Long time, no post. Would you believe I just haven't felt like sewing lately! I haven't been much inspired by any of my fabrics or patterns. I think this might have something to do with the changing seasons. None-the-less I have something pretty special to share. I bought the Jackie Coat pattern from Iconic Patterns so I could "sew-along" with the Janelle and Maria during July and August. Unfortunately I was a little late to sew-along but was thankful for their great posts explaining each step. 

Iconic Pattern Jackie Coat

I've had my eye on the colour blocked coat style for a while and had a heap of pins-piration to draw from. I ideally wanted a swing coat and originally thought about modifying the Albion Coat pattern as I'd already made it once for Tim. But why re-invent the wheel? The Jackie Coat had just the right amount of swing and I loved the idea of playing with the blocking placement and welt pockets. 

Iconic Pattern Jackie Coat

I cut a Size 10 grading out to a 12 from the waist down. In the end I probably could have dropped down a size but more room in a coat for extra layers never hurt. To enable the colour blocking I cut the front, back, and facing pieces in half 9cm below the lengthen/shorten lines. For the sleeves I made the cut at the top turning line (makes sense if you see the pattern). I then added 1/2" seams allowances. Because the Jackie Coat is asymmetrical most of it is cut on the single layer (not on the fold). This, along with having doubled the number of pieces to be cut meant that cutting out was rather a long process. 

Iconic Pattern Jackie Coat

For the fabrics I chose a black and cream flannel wool from AH outlet and The Cloth Shop respectively. The lining is a pink silk twill with printed polkadots for the Fabric Store. I love the pop of colour. I knew I wanted to keep the coat really simple on the front so I dropped the bound button holes for these beautiful snap fasteners from The Cloth Shop. They are quite big with a lovely cream speckled plastic component as well as the heavy duty metal inner.

Iconic Pattern Jackie Coat

Sewing up Jackie was surprisingly simple. Unlike usual I took my time and enjoyed the process. I catch stitched all the inner seams allowances down so they wouldn't shift and move once the lining was in. I added black/cream top stitching at all the colour blocked seams to help define the lines. The welts aren't perfect but they're good enough and I really like how the black welt pocket intersects through the cream fabric.

Iconic Pattern Jackie Coat

The Jackie Coat instructions are very good. The only time I got a little confused was bagging the lining. I've never done this on a coat before so that's no surprise. I somehow ended up sewing my sleeves in a continuous loop so that if I was wearing the coat it would have been more of a straight jacket - a really stylish one at that!

Iconic Pattern Jackie Coat

The pattern is designed to be worn with the sleeves turned up, but I really prefer the look and length of them down. The coat buttons right up (see below), but that's not really me. I'm more likely to wear it undone. I love how my Jackie Coat turned out and I could see myself giving the pattern another go next winter incorporating a symmetrical centre front opening like Janelle has done. I'm so glad I got my butt into gear and made up Jackie before the warm weather settles in. 

Iconic Pattern Jackie Coat

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Sew Cheap August Free Pattern Review: Tessuti Libby A-Line Skirt

For my August Sew Cheap Make and Pattern Review I chose the Tessuti Libby A-line Skirt Pattern. It's a simple skirt pattern with a side zip, waistband facings (but no waistband), three length options and waist darts in the back panel. The pattern comes in Aus sizes 6 to 16.  
Libby Skirt

I haven't seen many Libby's online with the exception of Rachel's lovely French Noir version. From the looks of it Rachel's fabric choice probably influenced my own, although I didn't realise it at the time. I chose to make up Libby in a scrap of black poly from the Alannah Hill outlet. It has a large weave with polkadots. The fabric is pretty but has absolutely no give and it's shiny nature isn't that flattering around the tush/curves. My measurements were between a 10 and a 12 so I cut an 11 (between the two sizes) in mini length. This pattern is an excellent stash buster. I got this skirt out of just over half a meter of fabric.

Libby Skirt

The instructions are detailed and have accompanying photos. This pattern is totally achievable for any beginner willing to tackle an invisible zipper. The only changes I made to the construction were: 1) stay stitch around the waist of my pieces instead of using Vilene tear-away (worked fine), 2) reverse the order of the zipper insertion, 3) grade waist seams as the fabric is quite heavy, 4) Used my machine where instructed to hand stitch. I whipped the skirt up from cutting to hemming in an easy afternoon. Of course it would take a little longer is hand stitching. 

Libby Skirt

I really like how the skirt turned out, however the fit is a little off. I need a bit more ease around my hips but could go tighter at the waist. Next time I'll grade from a 10 at the waist down to a 12. I will also take into consideration my fabric choice as something with a bit more give and drape would fall a hell of a lot better around my tush/hips. I absolutely love the length and plan to whip up at least one more Libby mini. Because of the uninterrupted back and front panels (e.g. side zip and no waistband), I suspect this skirt would be a great option for large scale prints and plaids that requite pattern matching.

Libby Skirt

The weather today was perfection and has me hanging out to start sewing more spring and summer clothes. Happy Weekend!
If you like this post, check out my Sew Cheap: Top Tips Sew Cheap: Free Patterns and previous Sew Cheap posts. 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

A Grumpy Gathered Skirt

Last Saturday I had a lovely afternoon eating and fabric shopping with a great bunch of sewers. I picked up a couple of items from Clear It and also from The Fabric Store and was gifted a Cynthia Rowley pattern (S2250) from @suluswabi who was de-stashing (Thank you!). 

Emery Skirt

I was looking for something drapey to make another high waisted gathered skirt similar to my floral emery skirt hack. At The Fabric Store I was immediately drawn to this silk/cotton blend with a black background and pink, purple and blue dotty stripes.

Emery Skirt

As it was going to be such a simple make I immediately cut into the fabric and started sewing. I was happy-as-larry when I begun cutting out the skirt pieces but quickly turned into a complete grump. The main problem being that I kept changing my mind throughout this project and lost patience with it.

Emery Skirt

Here's what went down:
1. Started out with the emery skirt and pocket pattern pieces and a self drafted waistband piece. Added about an inch to one end of the waistband as I wanted to have a button tab closure. 
2. Looked up a tutorial for French seaming when using in-seam pockets and decided it looked a little messy and imprecise. Ditched the pockets.
3. Started sewing the skirt pieces together and came to the late realisation that the skirt should probably be lined as it was slightly transparent. Cut some more skirt pieces out of a skin coloured viscose which I'm glad to be rid off because it shifts around and stretches out while sewing.
4. Gathered the lining and main skirt pieces, attached them to the skirt, serged the S/As. Realised I forgot to leave the end on the waistband free of skirt fabric to allow for the tab.
5. Cracked it (the shits, not the skirt), and wondered whether my skirt was looking a little like a circus tent with these beautiful colourful stripes.
6. Unpicked the tab end of the skirt/waistband and re-gathered the skirt so that it ended where is should have. Changed my mind all together about the tab and just snipped off the extra 1".
7. After turning an incredibly simple make into a frustrating afternoon I sewed the invisible zipper into the skirt and simply serged the centre back S/A's, turned the waist band under and stitched in the ditch, and finally hemmed the lining and the skirt.

Emery Skirt

Nothing in the above is all that terrible and it was still a quick sew, but somehow I turned a simple project that should have been lovely and satisfying into a complete frustration. This skirt has taught me a lesson about thinking through a project before cutting into the fabric (no matter how simple it seems). Also, perhaps it's best to stop sewing when you start chucking a tanty over the smallest issues.

Emery Skirt

Thankfully the final product is quite pretty and exactly what I set out to make - a drapey gathered high waisted skirt. That's enough grumpiness for one day! Thanks to Jess for taking these photos at work today.

Emery Skirt

Monday, 11 August 2014

Alder Shirt's (Not A Dress)

My Alder Shirt Dresses (1, 2, 3) fit so much better around my shoulders/arms than my sleeveless Archer, even with mods. Thus, I decided to try making a shirt version of the Alder Shirt dress.  I ended up making two and I can see myself making more when the warmer weather arrives.

Alder Shirt
 
To make the dress (version A) into a shirt I simply took my Archer shirt pattern pieces compared them to the dress and drew on the shirt curve. I also folded up the button band and interfacing pieces to the length used in the archer pattern. Jen is planning a sew-along tutorial for making Alder into a shirt and I'm sure she'll have a fancier way of doing it, but for now this worked perfectly. These shirts are both made in a size 8.

Alder Shirt
 
For my first shirt I used a soft black cotton voile with a wide checked weave. It will be a lovely light option in summer. I used some cream buttons with little pink flowers on them. I have one big regret with this shirt: I used white interfacing with black voile. You can see the white through the fabric on the collar and button placket. Consider it a lesson learnt! Going out to buy some black interfacing asap.

Alder Shirt
 
For my second version of the shirt I decided to try out a pop-over button placket as a practice for my 3rd Alder dress. This placket is about 2" shorter than the one I ended up using on my Navy Alder dress. I used a stiffer cotton with a white and red flower motif that I've had for ages. For the insides (under collar, inner stand, yoke) I used a plain white cotton poplin.

Alder Shirt

I'm not totally convinced about this fabric, it's only OK. I wore it tucked into jeans and was relatively happy. I definitely want to try out the popover shirt version in a light blue chambray which I'm sure I'd wear heaps in summer.

Alder Shirt
 
The Alder Shirt (not dress) VS The Archer Shirt: Alder is narrowrwer through the shoulder and bust, meaning there is less arm hole gape. The Archer is narrower through the front waist and hips where as Alder has more of an A-line shape. The bottom button on my Archer shirt is a snug fit while on the Alder shirt there is plenty of room for belly, hips and bum.
 
I'm currently sewing something that isn't an Alder shirt or dress! In fact it's not even a Gainline Studio pattern. But I will definitely be revisiting the Alder pattern again and again.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Alder Shirtdress The Third: Popover Variation

I love the Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress. This is my third Alder dress (see 1,2), I have two Alder shirts to be blogged and I see more variations in my future. I'm sick about Alder! This particular version is another Version A (a line) but with a hacked front button placket to make it a popover /pull over. 

Alder Popover shirtdress

I cut a size 8 again after my size 6 pulled across the chest. However, I had a lot of excess room in the sides and you could see down my dress through the arm holes to I brought in the side seams by 1/4". So I guess I am somewhere between a 6 and an 8 with some clever button placement needed across my chest. 

Alder Popover shirtdress

To make the dress a popover I:
1. Folded out the centre front button placket fabric (fold at the second set of notches) and cut the front piece on a fold.
2. Created a pattern piece for the button placket. I did this by using the cuff placket piece from Tim's Negroni Shirt and simply lengthened the piece so that the placket would be around 11" (chosen arbitrarily). I also widened the under placket component so that it would be 1"wide rather than 1/2".
3. Sewed on the button placket piece as instructed in the Negroni pattern and then made up the rest of the pattern per the Alder Shirtdress instructions. 
4. Ta da! Wear dress. 

Alder Popover shirtdress

My fabric is a navy rayon cotton blend with some silver metallic thread through it. The metallic isn't very noticeable but gives the fabric a nice sheen. Going with the theme, my buttons have silver sparkles in them. I used the left over cotton lawn from my latest emery for the under collar & stand as well as the inner yoke and arm hole binding.


Alder Popover shirtdress

This fabric is crazy wrinkly. These photos are taken straight after ironing the fabric - it did nothing! I guess I need to get used to the wrinkly look.
  
Alder Popover shirtdress

I really love this Alder! It was fun trying something different with the popover variation and it's nice to know that I could do something similar with other dresses and tops now. I have just one more must-make Alder shirt dress in my mind before I can give the pattern a rest for a while. Although, I'm sure with the sew-along starting I'll need to try some of the variations Jen plans on sewing up.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Scarf Neck Cardy For Mum

My Mum's birthday is the same day as Tim's and I also made her present: a Swoon Scarf Neck Cardigan. The same free pattern I used to make my own beige cardy last month. I wear that cardigan ALL the time and it is incredibly comfortable. It seems mum's style so I whipped one up for her too.
 
Swoon Scarf Neck Cardy 
 
I made her version out of a wool blend knit form the Cloth Shop. Its a gorgeous magenta purple colour. Tim took some super quick photos before I had to hand it over. I had a hard time taking it off and putting it in a gift bag. I may need to make another version just for myself. I didn't now I liked purple so much!

Swoon Scarf Neck Cardy

My mum is a little smaller than me so I cut the same size (S) but increased the seam allowances to 5/8" rather than 3/8" to create a slightly smaller fit. I also added some cuffs on the sleeves as I really like the finish, however I didn't take any length from the arms so its really nice to snuggle into.

Swoon Scarf Neck Cardy

I've been doing a bit of selfless sewing lately and I have more to get on with. I have been telling my younger sister I would make her a Cambie dress since Christmas, so that's a priority for this month! I also need to make Tim another Negroni shirt out of the "good fabric". To keep me interested I like to sew 1 or 2 things for myself between projects for others/ commitment sewing (because I'm selfish like that!) so I have a lot of sewing ahead of me this month. How's your month looking? Any fun sewing plans?

Swoon Scarf Neck Cardy