Friday, 21 November 2014

Not Birthday Tops: Maya & Noelle

I bought one of my sisters some lovely blue linen to make her a birthday top. We did a few practice tops to find the style and size she wanted. The Maya Top I posted here was trial number one, she wear's the top but it wasn't quite right for the special linen. I got a chance to take a few photos of the Maya top on my sister today. For more details on Maya see here or here.

Trial number two was a modified Noelle Top by Ulooop Patterns. I've sewn this top before and I love the outcome. I again modified the back to have a colour blocked gathered lower back bodice. I also added 6" length front and back for my tall sister who likes her tops quite long. I cut the smallest size (8).

The fabric is left over Tesutti linen (need more!) and some thrift-ed spotty who-knows-what for the back.

I top stitched  1/4" from all the seam lines in navy thread. The Noelle top is designed to be oversized but even so the initial version was just too big. I had to rip out all the top stitching as well as the seams to take the top in an 3/4" at either side grading to nothing at the hem, as well as taking the top up 1cm at the shoulders.

The final product is pretty darn sweet if I do say so myself and hopefully it will get loads of wear. Check out my gorgeous niece wearing her polkadot Made Kid Shorts.

My sister's actual Birthday top is now being sewn and the pattern ins't either the Noelle or the Maya top. Talk about spoilt! I'm currently sewing up a storm for other birthday and Chrissy presents. I was also able to sneak in a dress for my own birthday. I cant wait to get photos and post it later in the month.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Tessuti Alice Top

When the Alice Top / Dress pattern was released by Tessuti I knew a) it was lovely; b) the dress wouldn't be flattering on me, but the top had potential; c) it would be a great pattern for the copious amounts of eating bound to happen over the Christmas period. After seeing Rachel's beautiful version(s) I bought the pattern.

I picked up this stunning floral linen cotton remnant from The Fabric Store immediately thinking it was a match made in heaven. I used left over lime linen for the yoke and sleeve linings. Note,  many Tessuti Patterns include pattern pieces for Tearaway Vilene to be used at necklines or curved edges to prevent stretch the fabric. I just stay-stitch instead. As recommended in the instructions I interfaced my sleeves for some extra stiffness. 

I bought the PDF pattern, printed it off and started sticking. I knew that I wasn't going to be making the dress version so I was a bit peeved that I didn't know which pages to print and which I could avoid printing to save paper, ink, time. For those interested, my recommendation is to print the following pages if you only want the top pattern: 2,3,8,9,24,25,30,31, 33-50. If making the dress its probabaly easier to just go ahead and print out the whole file. If you also wish to cut a tearaway Vilene pieces then print pages 23-24 for size XS-S, p4 for XL or p10 for M-L. I know that sounds super complex but I'll definitely be doing this if I need to print out another size.

I find Tessuti patterns to be on the larger size, as confirmed by Rachel's experience with the Alice pattern, so I cut an XS despite my chest measurement falling between XS and S. The top was also very long, more like tunic length. I cut 2" off the hem, turned under 1" and then turned under another 1.5" (4.5" total). Some may like it longer, but I think the width of the top needs to be toned down by a short hem line.

The instructions were well detailed and the top came together easily. The fabric is incredibly bright and fun. The fit is pretty spot on and I really like the outcome, but I'm not sure that this style is a flattering look on me. I'm glad I gave it a try, and I can see myself throwing this top on in summer, but I probably wont make more for myself, at least not in linen. Perhaps a drapy-er fabric might crate a different look? I can definitely see this shape working on some family members so there's no doubt in my mind that the pattern will get used again, even if not for myself.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

K&L Outfit: Geometry Top & Tap Shorts

Katey & Laney are well known bloggers and now pattern designers. When they released the Tap Shorts pattern I was really intrigued but decided to wait for spring and some reviews (which there are now many). Then the Geometry Top was released and I took the plunge and bought both PDF patterns. Funnily enough the patterns go really well together and I just happened to pick coordinating fabrics.

First up, the Tap Shorts. 
I love that the pattern has a couple of different variations, including a more traditional front fly variation. For my first version I tried front B (open front pleats) with back 2 (welt pockets). I really like the high waisted style but I'm not totally convinced about it on my body. We'll see how I feel after a few wears. 

Fabric is leftover from my my most worn Alder shirt dress. A navy rayon blend with silver metallic thread woven through it. It wrinkles terribly but I love the sheen and weight of the fabric. I cut a size 8 which seems to fit perfectly. There is the perfect amount of room at the waist to fit in a summer BBQ. 

The pattern instructions were fantastic! Incredibly detailed and pretty much fool proof imo. One of the best tips was to remark your welt placement after sewing the back darts which was absolutely necessary.  I ended up sewing only one welt, because why not? The welt instructions were slightly different to what I'm used too but it turned out pretty fantastic thanks to the instructions.

The only changes I made to the pattern was to keep the front pleats sewn down rather then unpicking the basting stitches. I've seen others do this as well. I tried opening them up but there just isn't enough fabric in the front piece to accommodate a nice drape (in my opinion, on my body). The pleats pulled toward my sides despite the shorts fitting me quite well. I also bound the waistband facing rather then folding under and stitched it down by machine.

Now the Geometry Top.
I made version B but sewed the centre front and side pieces together right down to the hem rather than leaving a slit open. I cut a size 6. For the front and sleeves I used a lovely stripey viscose, with a navy remnant for the back ( I think a poly). Both fabrics are from The Cloth Shop, actually the whole outfit is!

The top is quite over-sized and very long, particularly in the back. I ended up hemming the top with a 2" hem to remove some excess. I think over-sized style and the length makes it look like there is just too much fabric in the back. A cropped length might be better suited. Otherwise I like the style and think it looks quite good tucked in. Once again the instructions were very good.

What I don't like about K & Patterns: 
K & L Patterns include a different PDF file for each of the variations, however there is a lot of overlap in pattern pieces between versions. This is not a problem, maybe even good news, if you only ever plan on sewing one variation. But I like variety, so I printed 2 different variations of each pattern to begin with as I had plans for both. For the Top I printed Version B to find that 7 pages were superfluous as they'd already been printed, taped together, cut out from version C. For the shorts there were 10(!) repeated pages when I printed out Version C, after already printing Version B. If I had printed all three versions of the short pattern then at least 20 pages would have been wasted. 

I think these separate files are a great idea in theory, but actually a bigger waist of paper. The ideal would be to have the pages listed that we could skip if already having printed an earlier variation. How do others feel about all this wasted paper? 

Overall, I love my new outfit and I hope to get lots of wear from the separates this summer. I'll definitely make up both patterns again and am particularly impressed with the Tap Shorts. I look forward to seeing what's next from K & L Patterns. 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Some Selfless Sewing

I haven't felt much like blogging lately. I've a few things I need to get photos of but I've mostly been focusing on selfless sewing as it tis' the season afterall. So, I have a few bits and pieces to share with minimal text.

First up, my niece has out grown the MADE Kids Shorts gifted to her last Christmas so I whipped up a few more pairs from fabric scrapes. Dotty chambray, green cotton, and pineapples with yellow mini pom poms. They were all well received, most of all the green pair. I know I'm bias, but isn't the above photo just ridiculously cute?!

I've been wanting to try Melissa's drawstring skirt tutorial since she posted it. I made up a size 2 in some really fun fabric. My niece loves this skirt and I'll definitely use the tutorial again and again for her as well as my older nieces as the tutorial goes up to a size 16 girls. I'm not always a fan of tutorials that require maths, measuring your self/ child, or drafting pieces but this one really couldn't be easier. A sizing chart is even provided. 

I made much smaller pockets than suggested ( I cut 5x6" rather than 6x9"). I also find the drawstrings a little tough to tighten through the single hole so next time I'll make two button holes, one for each end of the drawstring.

Finally, I promised one my sisters a simple loose fitting summer top for her birthday. We have the special linen put away while we try out a few pattern styles and sizes. First up is the Marilla Walker Maya pattern which I made not long ago for myself. I cut the smallest size but I could see from the measurement chart that it may still be too large.

I made the top from stash fabric: the front is a white and navy voil from spotlight and the back is a lightweight cotton from The Cloth Shop. Unfortunately the fit is just too large, even for a boxy top. Next time I will fold out some width at the centre front and back before cutting into the fabric. My sister also asked for added length. I added 1.5"on this version but next time I'll probably add around 3"total. Bedsides some fitting issues, it's a very sweet top and hopefully it will get some wear. 

Next up is some sewing for me (yay!), probably following my Xmas sewing. I'm sewing some Katey and Laney patterns and hoping to also get some photos of previous makes this weekend. So, who else is sewing Christmas presents out there? Only for the children in your life, or adults too?  

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Sew Cheap October Free Pattern Review: 1950s Prom Dress

I'm so glad it's warm enough in Melbourne to sew and wear summer frocks again. This month for my Sew Cheap Make and Pattern Review I chose the 1950's Prom Dress featured in Peppermint Magazine. The pattern features a fully box pleated skirt, a V-cut back bodice neckline, facings around the neckline and a cute collar. The pattern comes in sizes S to XL (bust measurement: 33"to 39.5"). 

Peppermint mag Prom Dress

As per my measurements I cut a small bodice grading out to a large at the waist. The fabric is a lovely grey and off-white cotton lawn with a textured pattern woven through the fabric almost like a brocade. 

Peppermint mag Prom Dress

The PDF pattern is a little unusual. The back bodice, collar, facings are designed to be cut on the fold / double layer of fabric but the front bodice pieces, collar, facings and skirt are full pattern pieces to be cut on a single layer of fabric, despite the pieces being completely symmetrical. My kitchen bench just isn't wide enough to cut on a single layer and I prefer to keep off the floor so I cut the skirt and front pieces down the centre front and cut them on the fold.

Peppermint mag Prom Dress

I made a couple of changes. First, I left off the collar as I didn't think it would look nice with my fabric choice. Second, I added a skirt lining. I decided late in the piece that the fabric was just a little sheer. I had some white silk cotton floating around my stash so I cut a rectangle gathered it up and attached it at the waist seam.  I didn't bother attaching it to the zipper. The lining gives the skirt a little more volume which I really like. I also interfaced the facings and tacked them down which wasn't included in the instructions.

Peppermint mag Prom Dress

This pattern has the most box pleats I've ever sewn and all those nothces and pleat directions did get a little confusing. Thankfully it all worked out, but you do have to be very precise so that the skirt waist ends up the same width as your bodice.

Peppermint mag Prom Dress

The instructions are very brief. For example: "pleat skirt and sew waist seam". Step 10 around the zipper insertion is a bit of a mystery to me. I couldn't get my head around it so I just inserted the zipper using my normal method. As such, I would rate the pattern at advanced beginner level. You need to be comfortable completing each step without having to rely on the instructions. Despite the instructions this dress pattern is a great free building block for so many fit and flare dresses and could be easily modified by changing the neckline and skirt.  

Peppermint mag Prom Dress

I'm quite happy with how this dress turned out. There is some excess room around my waist and next time I will cut a straight medium, but otherwise the dress fits quite well. The dress is not easily taken in at the sides as the skirt has no side seams, only a CF and CB seam. The extra room wasn't such a bad thing though as I wore this dress to a high tea at the Windsor Hotel with Tim. It was delicious! There was ridiculous amount of delicious food.

Peppermint mag Prom Dress

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

Friday, 24 October 2014

Elephant Cambie Dress

I mentioned ages ago that I promised my sister Gen a Sewaholic Cambie Dress. This promise happened around Christmas time. I made one for myself in June to practice, and I finally got my act together in September so that the dress was ready for her 18th.

Elephant Cambie Dress

For Gen's Cambie I cut a straight size 2 in version A. Gen had chosen a large scale elephant print canvas fabric from Spotty. I didn't bother lining this dress because, well, canvas! The Cambie goes together quite easily and very quickly without lining. I used pre purchased white bias binding to finish the neckline and sleeves.

Elephant Cambie Dress

As the print was quite loud I wanted to use a constrasting fabric to tone it down a little. For the pockets and the waistband I used the wrong side of some denim chambray. I'm really pleased with how the contrast looks.

Elephant Cambie Dress

Elephant Cambie Dress

I didn't muslin the dress so the fit was quite a gamble. I made no alterations other than bringing in the shoulder 1/4" as I expected them to be too loose on her, given that they were on me and a lot of others in the blog world. Before inserting the zipper I got her to try on the dress and wow what a lovely fit!

Elephant Cambie Dress

I didn't make any effort to match the print anywhere. I probably should have matched up the back but chances are I would have stuffed it up anyway.

Elephant Cambie Dress

I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by this dress. I really didn't think the white and grey giant elephant canvas would translate well into a dress. I was wrong! It looks super duper cute and the shape of the dress skims Gen's body so nicely. Before next winter I plan on making myself a version A Cambie in some lovely grey wool. I'll be stoked if it fits half as well as Gen's.  

Elephant Cambie Dress

Thanks for letting me post photos of you in your elephant Cambie dress Gen, and for bringing some fresh new poses to the blog! Good luck with your exams this week. x

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Marilla Walker: Maya Top

Happy hump day everyone. The year is flying by, and I'm so enjoying sewing for the coming summer. Marilla Walker recently released her first for sale pattern, the Maya Dress and Top Pattern pattern. Marrila has great style and isn't afraid to delve into what I consider to be "scary sewing". For instance, check out here gorgeous Shibori Maya Dress and amazing red leather handbag. The Maya Dress and Top fit pretty perfectly into my current obsession with boxy tops and shirt dresses so I was thrilled when Marilla asked me if I'd like the review her new pattern.

Marilla Walker Maya Pattern

Maya  is a kimono/cap sleeve dress or top which hangs from the shoulders. The pattern includes heaps of variations: button or plain front; curved or straight hem; pockets; various lengths; as well as an option for a sash belt. The pattern is designed to include sleeve and neckline facings that are top stitched down and French seaming so that final top / dress has no internal raw edges.

Marilla Walker Maya Pattern

For my first Maya I chose the top variation with a curved hem. I went with my bust measurement and cut a size 12. I decided to use polkadot chambray left over from my 2nd Alder Shirtdress  for the back, and for the front some soft white linen cut from a hand-me-down dress. The instructions are thorough but I suggest reading all the way through first as you need to know which parts of the instructions are relevant to the version of Maya you are making.

Marilla Walker Maya Pattern

I decided not to use French seams as the linen and chambray felt a little thick when folded over each other. After attaching the facing you are instructed to press under the outer seam allowances and top stitch around. I love the clean finish. However, you can see the facings through the white linen and the folded over edge really stood out under the white. I ended up serging the edge of the facing instead before topstitching down.

Marilla Walker Maya Pattern

I know some people prefer to use facings over bias bindings or vice versa, so I really like that the Maya pattern includes facings as it gives you the option of using them or instead using bias binding around the neckline and hemming the sleeves. In the instructions, Marilla suggests hemming the bodice pieces first if sewing the curved hem option as it can be fiddly sewing around the curve at the side seams. This is a great tip and really improves the finish of the hem.

Marilla Walker Maya Pattern

I really like how this top turned out. I think it will be another high rotation summer top. My favourite features are the kimono sleeves and curved hem. I often have trouble fitting sleeves properly but kimono sleeves are so effortless and comfortable. I'm also pretty in love with the contrasting back and front. I'll definitely be making up a few more of these tops for summer. I want to try the cropped variation next, oh and also the button up version. How cute is this version made by Jenna! 

Marilla Walker Maya Pattern

Disclosure: Marilla provided me with the Maya Pattern for free in exchange for a pattern review. All opinions are my own and I was pretty darn keen to try out the pattern regardless.