Monday, 21 July 2014

Grainline Sutdio Alder Shirtdress - Wearable Muslin

I snapped up the much anticipated Alder Shirtdress immediately! I normally like to read about others experiences with patterns before purchasing but I'd so been looking forward to its release and I love Grainline Studio Patterns. Thus, I couldn't help myself.

I was immediately more attracted to version B with the gathered skirt details. When I've bought straight or A-line shirt dresses in the past I've often had too much bust room and not enough butt room. However I thought Version A would provide a better idea of the overall fit for my first attempt/wearable muslin. I made up this dress in some lovely pink/maroon chambray I bought at Clear It. I have some polka dot chambray put aside for my next gathered version. 

I made a size 6 which fitted my measurements and is also the size of my Archer shirts (1, 2). I made the shirt as per the instructions only deviating at the yoke insertion and sewing the front to the back where I prefer to use the burrito method. I also french seamed my side seams so there are no raw edges within. The sewing process is almost identical  to the Archer Shirt so if you've made the archer before you really shouldn't have any problems with the Alder Shirt Dress.

I  never had any worries about the upper body fitting me so it came as quite a surprise that I could only just button up the dress over my chest area and I prefer the look /fit with it left undone for this reason. This really surprised me because both my Archers shirts fit so well. I ended up unpicking the french seamed side seams and re-sewing as 1/4" which made the total side seam allowance 3/8"rather than 1/2" but I still feel more room is needed for my next version. The back doesn't look too bad just some slight strain at my under arms. The dress fits well though my lower body so next time I'm just going to trace/cut my fabric slightly wider at the chest area.

I've two possible explanations for the different fit compared to my Archers: 1) the dress is meant to be more fitted in the chest area (hence bust darts and no back pleat at the centre back. 2) I noticed when I was folding over the left button placket that the button placement I chalked on was totally wrong and ended up laying on the fold. It's possible that  I folded the placket wrong which left me with approx 1/2" less at the centre front than would be expected. This would be strange though as the construction is the same as the Archer Shirt and I've never had this problem before. I'm puzzled! If anyone else has had a similar experience or knows what I did wrong please comment!

I sewed up the dress in A navy thread which I think gives the dress some interest (it's especially interesting spotting all my terrible top stitching ;) ) and added some lovely foe wood plastic buttons. As this version of the dress is quite plain I thought it looked nice belted. I wore it out to a movie over my black merino renfree and under my Wool Drapped Coat. It's the perfect length for my drapped coat! Hooray for me-made outfits! 

Overall I love this dress (fitting issues and all) and I cant wait to make more. I can see a whole lot of Alder Shirtdresses and, variations of, for my 2014 summer uniform. My only other suggestion for my future makes is to add in-seam pockets.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Sleeveless Archer Shirt In Winter

I've been getting some serious shirt on lately. Here is my Sleeveless Grainline Studio Archer Shirt. Soon to be bloged are my Alder Shirt Dress (wearing it as I type) and my first ever men's shirt for Tim. This weekend I sewed 30 buttons holes and hand sewed on a button for each hole. Safe to say my next make will involve a zip and absolutely no buttons!

Sleeveless Archer Shirt

So, it's winter and quite cold in Melbourne at the moment, but after making my first archer I wanted to try a sleeveless version immediately. And, actually, a sleeveless shirt in winter is quite practical! I've layered it here over a Merino Renfrew top and under a store bought Merino jumper. I wouldn't normally be able to layer over and under my long sleeve shirts as it would all get caught up at the sleeves and drive me crazy rearranging it all day.  Plus, nobody can tell it's not a long-sleeve shirt when I have my jumper on. 

Sleeveless Archer Shirt

The detail's: To make a sleeveless archer I adapted my existing size 6 pattern using Jen's tutorial. As instructed I brought in the shoulder seems by 3/4". I didn't add any darts of remove an ease from the armhole so it is quite large and even a little gapey. This is unfortunate but not really an issue in winter and in summer I'll probably just be glad for the extra breeze.

Sleeveless Archer Shirt

I made the shirt in a White and Navy Gingham and used a larger Red and white Gingham for the contrast. I love that shirt yokes and collars take so little fabric, so you can use up scraps or fabric from no-longer worn garments. The red and white gingham is from a circle skirt I never wore but got second hand because the fabric was lovely. I used white bias binding for the armholes and some red plastic buttons.  

Sleeveless Archer Shirt

The only other changes I made to this shirt were: 1) Sew the front button plackets at a 5/8 seam allowance in stead of a 1/2. This was purely as I was tired and confused. Thank goodness I realised early in the project! 2) Use the burrito method to sew the yoke pieces to the shirt front and back. It's less fiddly than the method provided and I think it provides a cleaner finish.

Sleeveless Archer Shirt

Once again, I think the fit is pretty spot on and I'm super happy with how the shirt looks untucked and tucked in. Below I have the front ends tied in a bow and tucked under which is how I'll wear it in summer with shorts.  I freakin' love the flashes of red! I was tempted to put the red and white yoke on the outside but Tim suggested it looked like I was wearing my shirt inside out. I'm supper happy with the final product and it is more versatile than it would have been with a contracting outside yoke.

Sleeveless Archer Shirt

Second time round the Archer shirt was a dream to sew up. I will definitely sew more in the future and I can't wait to try a pull over variation like this gorgeous chambray version by Kat.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Simplicity 1419 Round Trip Dress: The Final Product

Last month I made up a wearable muslin of the Simplicity 1419 Round Trip Dress. The pattern, in a size 12 -grading to a 14 from the waist down, worked out perfectly other than the bodice needing to be shortened. So, I cut into my beautiful Blue Bloom Tessuti Fabrics Japanese Cotton.

Simplicity 1419 Round Trip Dress

For 'the real' version I decided on pattern variation B, which has no collar and short sleeves. Once again I cut a size 12, grading to a 14 from the waist down. The only change I made was to shorten the bodice by 3/8".

Simplicity 1419 Round Trip Dress

The cotton was gorgeous to cut into and to sew. It's quite a wide weave so I did wonder whether I should line or underline the dress but decided against it. The cotton frayed like crazy so I overlocked all the dress pieces before beginning to construct the garment.The fabric is a bit heavier than the lawn and broadcloth I used in my previous version and I really like how the skirt hangs.

Simplicity 1419 Round Trip Dress

There's not to much more to say about this one. The dress came together very quickly having made the 'practice' version. This version was made ever easier without having to fuss over the collar.

Simplicity 1419 Round Trip Dress

I like the fit. The bodice is short enough now and I didn't find the neckline too high, as others have. I haven't decided yet whether I prefer the dress with the sleeves or sleeveless. Unfortunately, I feel a little frumpy in the bold print. Fortunately, I love the dress so much that I'm going to keep on wearing it frumpy or not!

Simplicity 1419 Round Trip Dress
Thanks to Jess for taking these shots in our lunch break. Can you tell we are having more windy weather? No complaints though, look at blue sky and sunshine!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt(s)

I bought my Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt pattern in October last year from Indie Stitches. The skirt is a simple design and much loved by the sewing/blogging community.

Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt

I made up the Hollyburn pretty much straight away in a fabric which I was drawn to in a pop up fabric store. I couldn't decide whether I was drawn to the fabric because I absolutely loved it or hated it. Turns out, I hated it! Off to the opshop this pink, white, and brown flower Hollyburn goes.

Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt

I finally got the nerve up to try the pattern again with some herringbone woven thick grey wool for a winter skirt. I cut a size 10, version C with added waistband tabs from version B. I made a simple change to the pocket piece: I cut the pocket pieces along the fold line (with added S/A) and cut the facing part in a contrasting pink patterned rayon and the other half out of the shell wool. I sewed these pieces together down the 'fold line' and then treated them as a single piece.  I love the flash of pink in the pockets of an otherwise plain skirt.

Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt

The construction of the skirt was simple. I overlocked all the edges to finish and inserted an invisible zip instead of a regular. The wool is very thick so I changed two aspects of construction to avoid sewing through multiple thick layers. 1) I hemmed the skirt with pink bias binding so that I didn't have to fold the hem over twice and create excess bulk. 2) I sewed the waistband tabs on to the waistband before folding under the facing. This made it easier going on my sewing machine. I added some pearlescent white buttons to the tabs.

Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt

I really like how this Hollyburn turned out! It's one of my rare non-patterned makes so it goes with heaps of my wardrobe, while still being a bit special with the flash of pink in the pockets and on the hem. The fit is spot on. I'd usually make a size 8 in Sewaholic patterns but with such a thick wool, and a skirt which only will be worn in winter (I'm talking winter weight here!), I thought the 10 would be a safer option.

Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt

Here, I'm wearing the Hollyburn with a my white Renfrew top and pink Coppelia Cardigan. I'll be sure to make more hollyburn's in the future. Especially in winter medium weight fabrics. I like the idea of trying the longer variations but don't think they'd suit me. I think my next version might be a lightweight dark denim with belt loops.

Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt

Friday, 4 July 2014

Draped Coat & Renfrew Top

I've had the Draped Coat pattern from Teach Me Fashion for some time and I finally got inspired to make it up after a trip to Tessuti with the lovely Deanna I picked up 2m of grey medium weight wool/poly blend, which I knew would be perfect for the coat. How did I know this? Well, it was the same colour as the one in the pattern cover photo - aren't I creative?!

Teach Me Fashion Draped Coat

First off, let me state that it was very windy today! My sister, Nat, took these photos and, while I know I could have waited for another day, I have a growing pile of unblogged clothes and I didn't want to add this coat to that pile. In the end we embraced the wind. See below photos  of coat billowing in the wind. 

Teach Me Fashion Draped Coat

Back to the Coat. This sleeveless shawl collared coat has just three pattern pieces: Front, back, pockets. Given this, and the unfitted nature of the coat it should be no surprise that this is a very simple sew! I whipped up the coat from start to finish in just over 2 hours. This time including cutting out the fabric and watching the pattern YouTube tutorial. Teach Me Fashion Instructions are brief and don't include diagrams, so the YouTube video provides a fantastic a visual guide. 

Teach Me Fashion Draped Coat

The only techniques used in the coat are stitching & finishing the pieces, hemming all around the coat & armholes, and creating one flat fell seam where the two font pieces meet at the centre back collar. Without a doubt this will be the simplest coat you ever make! The project is perfect for beginners.

Teach Me Fashion Draped Coat

I really like the finished product of the coat. I especially love the pockets! The coat is a little different to my usual style though. I generally don't like jackets to finish around my low thighs as I think they accentuate my bottoms/hips. The coat goes so well with jeans but I hardly ever where pants, and the style really wouldn't suit my fit and flare dresses or high waisted skirts. On the other hand. It's super comfortable, looks polished (when the wind stops blowing it around) and goes well over basic long sleeves. I think it would go well with knit pencil skirts, too! I may get more wear out of it then anticipated.
Teach Me Fashion Draped Coat

In these photos I'm wearing the coat with an Olive Merino Sewaholic Renfrew Top. It's so satisfying being able to make your own cardy's, t-shirts and other basics. Especially in the cold months! Every winter I go shopping for new long sleeve tops and they get worn so much, and the fabric quality is normally so poor, that by the next winter they need to be replaced. So, I bought the Renfrew Top pattern while the PDF copy was on sale. 

Teach Me Fashion Draped Coat

I was shocked at how many pages it was, but with 3 neckline and 3 sleeve variations I guess I shouldn't have been. Only one suggestion for improvement - the instructions helpfully tell you what pages you should print and put together for different the variations so you don't have to do it all at once. However, unhelpfully, there are no page numbers included on the PDF pages.

Sewaholic Renfree Top

I immediately made 5 versions (two black versions aren't pictured), all size 8, all version A (round neck long sleeves), except for one with 3/4 sleeves. The pattern recommends 1.6m of wide fabric to make version A. I managed to get most of these out of just 1m each. I made 2 from merino (black & olive) and 3 from various weight cottons (a sheer black, white, and a gold/brown). I followed the instructions precisely for the first Renfrew and the pieces came together perfectly. The only change I made was use the overlocker for construction rather than my sewing machine. The next four Renfrews came together in a quick afternoon.

Sewaholic Renfree Top

I think the fit is spot on for comfy layered long sleeves. I love the scoop neck but I will certainly be giving the cowl neckline a go soon. I absolutely adore cuffs and hem bands on knits as it means no hemming, i.e. no use of the sewing machine! However, I've found the extra thickness of the hem band under skirts and dresses a little annoying. I might make a few extra without the hem band by lengthening the bottom and hemming with a twin needle.

Sewaholic Renfree Top

I have more Renfrew's planned as well as some Deer and Doe Plantains. Sewing basics like these has allowed me to begin wearing fully me-made outfits, which  I love, and control the quality of fabric used. My yearly tradition of shopping for long sleeve tops will now be happily exchanged for fabric shopping and sewing.

*Teach Me Fashion generously gifted me the Draped Coat Pattern. Of cours
e, all opinions are my own.*

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Sew Indie Interview: Teach Me Fashion

It's about time for another Sew Indie Interview. Today we're getting to know Heather, owner and creator, of Teach Me Fashion patterns. TMF is another Melbourne based indie sewing pattern company, and a relatively new one at that. In less than a year Heather has released six for sale patterns, and one freebie. So far, TMF patterns have included wardrobe basics with simple elegant lines. TMF patterns include brief instructions, but each pattern also has an accompanying youtube video showing the garment construction from start to finish! 

Heather and Harrison have kindly offered readers a coupon code ("TEACHMEFASHION") for 25% off any of there patterns. 

Heather, could you tell us a little about yourself and the role of sewing and design in your life?
I studied at Emily McPherson College back in the 70's then worked at the House of Merivale and Mr John in Sydney. I then returned to Melbourne and was given the opportunity to teach at Emily Mac, as it was affectionately called. I had loved my time as a student so I jumped at the chance. I was working with wonderful teachers who had a lifetime of experience and loved every minute of it. After a few years I travelled overseas to visit schools and colleges similar to our college. After returning to Melbourne I decided I needed more industry experience so accepted a position at Sportsgirl in their production & design team. I then returned to teaching fashion design at RMIT, where I have been for over the past 34 years! I love teaching students who share my passion for sewing & fashion design, the classroom is a great environment where I have taught some extremely creative and talented students, I feel very lucky to have had a job I am so passionate about. It was only once I retired, and realized I wanted to keep teaching people that the idea of Teach Me Fashion was created. I had wanted to do something for a long time, but hadn't found the time between work and children! The truth be known it was my son, Harrison, who planted the seed!
The Wrap Dress
When/how did you decide to take the plunge in beginning an indie pattern company?
I had wanted to teach a wider audience sewing and fashion design for a long time but it was always just an idea. I was originally thinking of creating a VCR to teach people, which shows my age! I recently retired which is when my son showed me all the people learning sewing on YouTube. I thought YouTube would be the perfect platform to share what I had learned over my years of teaching and teach anyone who was interested about the world of sewing and fashion design. We have created our first videos with patterns as I think that's the best way for people to get started, creating garments that they can wear and get excited about making.
Draped Skirt
Your very first pattern, the free Two Tone Singlet, was released late last  year. You have since released 6 more patterns! What's the secret behind your success?A great Mother & Son team. The obvious age difference means that Harrison knows a lot more about the internet, YouTube etc. I am learning fast but without each other's capabilities it wouldn't work. I focus on all things relating to sewing & fashion design and Harrison  handles all the website / YouTube and online parts of the business. We both have very different backgrounds and bring different skills to the business which helps us find answers and solutions to the problems we have encountered. However, we now spend a lot of time around the dinner table discussing Teach Me Fashion and learning a lot from each other. I can honestly say Harrison has developed a great appetite for fashion along the way. 

Draped Coat

Could you tell me a little about your design process? How does an idea grow to be a physical pattern?
We focus on finding out what the ideal garment is and aim for a garment that will suit a variety of body shapes, be possible to sew for almost any skill level, be 'fashion forward' and incorporate some good essential sewing techniques. I draft up the pattern and make it out of a basic fabric to see if Harrison & I like the look of it. Once we are happy with the garment I digitize it using a Gerber machine, then Harrison separates it into individual pattern pieces onto his computer. We have a fantastic team at Bison Creative who have done all our graphics and the layout of the introduction pages of the patterns (which is why they look so fantastic!). Bison Creative also  film & help us create the sewing videos on YouTube, they have been absolutely fantastic and we couldn't recommend them highly enough! TADA, our patterns are ready for the world. It is a lot of work with help from lots of talented people. We couldn't do it without them!
Draped Skirt
What is the inspiration behind your patterns? I have taught over 1000 students whilst being a fashion lecturer, so a lot of my inspiration comes from designs and garments that students have made over the years. It's something I think about and deal with every day, so when the opportunity came to make instructional videos and patterns I had a fairly clear image of what I thought would be great to start out with. I have found the videoing a new experience. Not quite as easy as a responsive classroom environment but hopefully I will improve over time! Since discovering Pinterest I also get a lot of inspiration from there.


Two Tone Singlet
What have you learnt throughout your career in fashion and pattern design and what advice would you give home sewers and wannabe pattern designers? Practice makes perfect! Stay inspired and make sure you try patterns and techniques that might be beyond your current skill level, that's the best way to grow your sewing skills. I'm biased but if you're really serious about progressing your sewing, studying Fashion Design at university gives you a great variety of skills and a platform to work in the industry. 
Elastic Waist Pants
Any hints about what's next to come from Teach Me Fashion? We are aiming to release 30 (!!) patterns by the end of the year. If the videos & pattern business is successful enough I am looking to create a pattern drafting course after, this is my real specialty within the world of fashion design & something I am very passionate about doing. If I can pass on this knowledge then people who can't access a university degree can gain a wealth of knowledge to enable them to develop their own designs. We will have to wait and see!

Thank you so much to Heather and Harrison for sharing their story with us. What an incredibly interesting life Heather has had, and continues to have, within the fashion and pattern design industry! I am so looking forward to making up my next TMF pattern, and can't wait to see what patterns Heather and Harrison release next. I purchased some beautiful grey wool blend yesterday. I see a Draped Coat in my horizons!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Grainline Studio: Archer Shirt & Moss Skirt

I had very good intentions about entering The Monthly Stitch's Indie Sewing Pattern Month weekly competitions. Alas, it's the last weekly challenge and this is my only entry for the month. I recently bought Jen's Archer Shirt PDF pattern and was quick to put it together and get started on it. I decided it would look great paired with a Red Moss Mini and I should enter in it the Fangirl Competition: and outfit made from two or more garments from one indie sewing pattern company. I'm definitely a fangirl of Grainline Studio!

For my first version of the Archer shirt I made version A: a simple button down shirt. I cut a size 6 out of lovely cotton I've had in the stash for an age. It's lightweight, but not sheer, with a white and dark navy polkadot and flower pattern.

The shirt itself is beautifully drafted and came together very well. I began sewing the shirt by following the pattern instructions only. The instructions are lengthy but I found a few minor details missing. I've never sewn a button down shirt before so I wanted to take it slow and get all the details right. I went to the sewalong for more details. Again, some minor details were missing but in most cases the photos helped me figure out the necessary steps.

Other than the tedious button holes I found the shirt came together muck quicker than expected (around 1 days sewing). I think the final product look pretty professional, except for where the pattern mismatches. I didn't make any effort to pattern match this first version, but it looks no worse than many store bought shirts.

The shirt is quite boxy and maybe ever so slightly too roomy in the back. The shirt will be worn tucked in mostly thought so the excess fabric wont be noticeable. For future versions I might play with narrowing the shoulder a bit and lengthening the arm, but other than that I'm pretty happy with the fit. The shirt looks fab tucked into my newest Moss Skirt. I've made the Moss Skirt 5 times before and my denim moss remains one of the most worn items in my wardrobe (handmade or store bought). I can now sew up a Moss in an easy afternoon.

For this version, I was very inspired my Andrea's moss and archer outfit. I was desperate to find a fire engine red twill, heavy drill or wool. I searched and searched and found very little red at any of my usual fabirc haunts. In the end I settled for this striking tweed wool at Rathdown Remnants. Bright red and white wool are woven together so that it looks orange.

I cut a size 10 (my usual) and made no adjustment to the pattern other than to increase the length of the skirt by 2". Even with the added length this is a mini skirt for me.  For the facings and pockets I used the left over linen rayon blend from my Butchered Orange Iris Shorts. Talk about a perfect match! I overlocked all the insides with white thread.

Interestingly the fit of this moss is a little off. I find it ever so slightly too tight and hate that you can see the pockets outlined in the front. In hindsight, I wish I had of sewn the side seams 1/4" rather than 1/2"and also lined skirt. Without a doubt I will sew more Archers Shirts and Moss Skirts. I also look forward to trying more Grainline Studio patterns (especially the soon to be released shirt dress!). 

Above is a photo of how I actually wore the skirt and shirt out shopping with Tim. I felt a little self conscious in my very bright skirt at first, but I'm now fully in love with it!

Friday, 27 June 2014

Sewaholic Cambie Dress: A Wearable Muslin

I bought the Sewaholic Cambie Dress from Indie Stitches late last year with great plans for a 'conference Cambie'. Clearly I got a little distracted. Also a really long time ago, I promised my little sister I'd make her a dress of her choosing out of some elephant fabric she'd bought. She chose the Cambie! Well, I wasn't about to give her the first version I made up. I needed to have a practice run to make sure hers was perfect. This version acts as a practice run for Gen's dress as well as a wearable muslin for my future Cambie's.

Sewaholic Cambie Dress

For this dress I made version B (full skirt) in a size 8. I'm pear shaped so I can cut a straight size when using Sewaholic patterns - fantastic! I made no adjustments to the pattern other than to use the width of the folded over fabric for my skirt pieces as it was slightly narrower than the pattern pieces. Hard to believe my skirt could be poofier!

Sewaholic Cambie Dress

My fabric is a a floral lightweight cotton  which I also have in the pink colour way (see Gerties Bow Tied Blouse). This dress is fully lined in white cotton lawn.

Sewaholic Cambie Dress

 I had so much more fun sewing this dress than I antitcipated. There are just so many pieces that I thought it might be a tricky make. But, It really wasn't! Tasia's instructions are spot on. I didn't even need to reference the online sew-along. Simply put, the garment construction just involves making the dress shell, the dress lining and then sewing them together inside out. Gen's dress will be a version A (a-line skirt) and unlined, as she chose a thick fabric, so I imagine her dress will be an even easier make.

Sewaholic Cambie Dress

When I tried on the almost finished dress I could see that the straps would need to be adjusted, but I didn't realise by how much! I ended up removing 3/8" from both the front and back shoulder as well as easing the front sleeve in a further 6/8". Thus, I removed a whopping 1.5" from the sleeve. The finished dress is much improved but some fabric could be removed from the centre front and I also find the bodice a little too long. For my own future versions and Gen's dress I will remove 1/2" from the bodice length.

Sewaholic Cambie Dress

I love this Cambie. It feels super girly with the lined poofy skirt and it totally fits into my preferred fit and flare style. I'm sure I'll get a heap of wear from it in spring. Anyone in Melbourne will know that its too damn cold to be wearing this very springy dress in the middle of winter. So I layered it up with tights, my pink Coppelia Wrap Cardy, another store bought Cardy, a scarf plus my jacket for outside. 

Sewaholic Cambie Dress

Unfortunately, as you can see, these are more indoor shots. I tried to patiently wait for weekend photo opportunities with some of my other makes but I like to wear them as soon as I've made them and then they end up in the washing basket before I get the chance to take photos. The above photos I took in our living area. My sewing room gets better light during the day. But photos in my sewing room are filled with a back drop of WIP's and carpet littered with thread. Bring on Spring/summer!

Sewaholic Cambie Dress