Swimwear: baring all for the greater good.

Swimwear: this is a new one for me.  As you know, I don’t mind a bit of stretch but swimwear takes sewing in stretch to a whole new level.  Nervous is an understatement.

I had a deadline so no holding back, I had to plough on. I was off to Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays and my favourite swimsuit was barely holding up, one big wave and it could all be over.

The Pattern

Choosing a pattern was easy, I have loved the Sophie Swimsuit from Closet Case Patterns forever. I really like the slimming panel options and I have loved seeing the amazing versions online.  Just check out the #sophieswimsuit hashtag on Instagram.

Nerves-a-jangling, I decided I needed some hand holding, so I chose to buy my pattern with a video sew-along.  Best decision ever.  It is so well produced and easy to follow and actually at a sewable pace.  I particularly liked the fact that we had the same machine, that made it super easy.  I think the sew-along is worth the investment, especially for first timers to swimwear.

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Image: Closet Case Patterns

I love this design, I initially thought I would make the swimsuit but I threw caution to the wind and went for the bikini option.  I don’t think I have worn a bikini since the early 80’s.

The Fabric

I was quite stuck when it came to supplies as I didn’t want to go to multiple shops across Sydney. I was given a tip and tried Metro Fabrics. Wow, this place is a treasure trove of stretch fabric and accessories.  I ‘popped’ in, then stayed for hours!

I found some super cheap multicoloured stretch in the bargain bin to make my toile.  For the final piece,  I found some lovely dark purple, grey and black leopard print and contrasting black for the outer panels.

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Loving the fabric here, it’s a good quality stretch

You need lots of bits and bobs.  The kind of bits and bobs that I don’t have in my stash.  I bought what I needed, I should have bought multiple items.  Not sure why, possibly a little overwhelmed by the options.  It’s worth it though, the service is excellent.

The Make

The true test of friendship is stripping down to your underwear and asking your friend to measure you.  Thankfully I have such a friend, thanks Emily!

The sizing is really good and not at all what I imagined.  I was quite thrown by my final measurements.  I ended up with a size 12 bottom half and a size 6 top half with a size 5 cup.  We measured twice as it seemed completely wrong.  I am fairly flat chested so the largest cup size seemed strange and I couldn’t quite get my head round the size difference between top and bottom.  I was sure that the toile would throw up any issues.

The toile did throw up some issues, but not anything to do with the sizing.  It all fit perfectly.  Hi5 to Heather Lou , she clearly knows her onions. What it did do was show me that even in swimwear I have a short body and need to adjust it accordingly.

Here’s a shot of the version unaltered and a shot of the bottoms folded over to where I would like them to sit.  You can see they are very high in the first photo. I altered the pattern accordingly by removing 5cm (measuring about 8cm down from the top on each piece) and then truing up the pattern.

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The only other alteration I made was by not making the foam cups. In this case I actually bought ready-made, sculptured cups as you can see here.

It’s a bit cheaty and actually I had to do a bit of trimming in order to get them to fit the fabric cups I made.  I like this option though, they are fairly sturdy and give the cups the illusion that there is something actually in there (there isn’t). I also think they hold there shape really well.

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Aren’t you loving this fabric?  I can’t go past a bit of leopard print.

Making swimwear isn’t exactly difficult but it’s certainly a time consuming and fiddly project.  I was using things I hadn’t worked with much, like elastic and foam cups. I really enjoyed the sew-along.  It makes all the difference and I would highly recommend it.

So here’s the finished project….

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I really like the contrasting black panels here
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The cups really hold there shape
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Nothing falling out with a brisk walk up the beach!

Can I just say here that this is possibly the most embarrassing and difficult photoshoot yet.  It has taken me much soul searching to decide whether to write this blog post.  I love my bikini, but like many women, I really don’t love my body.  Some of the photos taken during this shoot were really confronting and I had to ask my husband if this was actually me (and not in a positive way).  But I decided to be a grown up and just go with it.  I have had 3 children, I do little exercise and I eat way too much chocolate so the only person who can change that body is me.  I think the big issue is my head, embracing my body would be far more constructive, don’t you think?

Final photo now, putting my bikini through the ultimate work out.  This was the first time I had ever done Stand Up Paddle Boarding and I LOVED it!  I only fell off once, when my friends decided to ram into me with there kayak. I did a proper comedy fall into the water.  Lets just say, there wasn’t a bikini malfunction in sight!

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A Genoa Tote with a touch of Sashiko

It’s present time!  A big one this year as my Mum turns 70.  I try to make something special for my parents on these big occasions, especially as I am not in Yorkshire to celebrate with them.

I made this for my Dad’s 70th a couple of years ago, it’s a gilet for the garden and it took me an age.  If you haven’t seen this before, it’s probably because it was one of the first projects I ever blogged about.  Read all about it here.

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I needed to pull out the big guns, here.  I had considered a kimono but because Mum is the ‘Queen of Returns’ (at Marks & Sparks) I thought better of it and went for a bag.

I was lucky enough to win a copy of the Genoa Tote pattern in the raffle at Sydney Frocktails back in February.  I was then gifted a set of the hardwear for the bag by the lovely Blogless Anna (Thank you Anna)! I had my pattern sorted, now for the design.

It had to be Sashiko for Mum and I really wanted to work on a design I had never tried before, I wanted impact, so I chose the triple persimmon flower stitch.  I bought my stencilled dotty fabric in navy  and some white Olympus sashiko thread from Bebe Bold and off I went.

I am not even going to begin to explain how to do this, no need, Susan Briscoe’s, The Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook tells all with helpful illustrations and examples. But lets just say it requires concentrations and patience.

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I had ploughed my way through the maze of vertical lines, feeling a little despondent as I couldn’t see how this would ever work.  But then the magic happens when you start stitching those horizontal lines… So awesome!

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Let’s not be under any illusion here, this piece took me ages.  But worth ever stitch because it is really beautiful and I like it even more for it’s imperfections, the odd wonky stitch adds to the beauty.

Now to apply it to my Genoa Tote.

I chose a heavy indigo denim which I found at Achieve Australia.  I make lots of tote bags from this fabric as it’s really sturdy stuff.  It was also the perfect match for the Sashiko panel.  To make the pattern piece I just added a strip of denim to the top and bottom and cut out the piece as I would any other fabric.

Here it is.

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FRONT: This is the smallest size Genoa, using the tan leather handles
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BACK: I kept the back Sashiko free and used the indigo denim
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For the lining I used some gifted vintage fabric. I suspect it’s Liberty, it certainly has the quality feel of a Liberty fabric but I can’t be sure.  It’s really beautiful though.  I am also super pleased with the internal zip pocket.

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Zip: Who Says Sew

This piece of Sashiko is called rice flower stitch, again from Susan Briscoe’s book.  It was a little piece I was sampling for another project. It just happened to be the right size for this pocket, so I added it in here.  I love that little hidden gem.

The Genoa as a pattern is super simple to make and I can see many more in my future.  I just loved adding the leather straps and the studs, it looks so professional.

The great thing about this gift is that it is being hand delivered by my biggest kid.  He’s flown to the UK to visit the family for a few weeks (without us). I think he is the best gift to my Mum could want, but maybe this will come a close second. A very belated Happy Birthday, Mum!

 

 

 

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The sweater dress re-run

I try not to make the same pattern over and over again.  This is mainly due to the number of awesome pattern makers out there who design such beautiful patterns, most of which, I am desperate to try.

However, I made an exception here.

I made this dress for the first time last winter when I was freezing in Sydney.  No-one ever believes it’s cold in Sydney.  I suppose by the Northern Hemisphere standards, it’s not.  It’s just that we aren’t set up for it and it often takes us by surprise.  We are also often without central heating which means I needed to wear a blanket the entire time just to function.

This is the equivalent of said blanket, you can read all about this make here.

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Onto my latest make.

The fabric:

I spotted the fabric in Faberwood’s online shop and ordered it after seeing Fiona (Queen Faberwood) wearing this pencil skirt.  Check out her blog post all about it.  How cool is that?

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Photo: Faberwood

I am generally not a stripe kinda girl (I am sure there will be a collective intake of breathe here). I like a stripe but I don’t often wear them.  This is a stripe fabric that I could not resist, a stripe on the diagonal.  It has that Scandinavian contemporary cool feel about it.

The quality is exceptional.  Something that I can always rely on with Fiona’s collections. The fabric is by Finnish brand, Ikasyr. It’s an organic jersey, mid weight stretch with great recovery.

My favourite part about this transaction was that Fiona delivered it to my Mum’s house in the UK (our Mum’s live minutes apart!)  It was then passed to my in-laws and then brought over to Australia on their recent visit.  It’s amazing what my family will do for my love of fabric.

The sleeve fabric was from The Cloth Shop in Melbourne, a super yummy grey stretch. I bought this piece many moons ago.  It’s such good quality, I am kicking myself that I didn’t buy more.

The pattern:

The Sweater Dress by In the Folds (for Peppermint Magazine) is a favourite.  It was designed specifically with me in mind (it wasn’t, but I like to think so).  It’s such an easy dress to wear, an easy dress to make and it fits me just perfectly.  Oh yes, and it’s free!

As this is a re-run, I made no changes.  I cut a straight size 10.  I would normally grade out to a 12 but there is some volume around the hips which works for me.  It also has pockets and as with my first attempt, they sit flat!

Here it is;

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It’s such an easy dress to wear, I put a layer or two underneath for extra warmth.
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No pattern matching here!

 

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Super happy with the fabric and the sleeve fabric matches a treat.

The added extra:

There is always the odd off-cut or scrap piece.  This is particularly helpful when you have a 5 year old.  He asked me for a Batman outfit for the school disco, who am I to refuse?

I managed to get a pair of True Bias, Mini Hudson shorts and a Titchy Threads, Safari Raglan tee from my scraps. Of course, there was no pattern matching, nothing like it infact.  The stripes are going off in all sorts of slightly odd angles. He doesn’t care and so neither do I.

I even rolled out the freezer paper and dabbed on some fabric paint for that Batman logo.  Such an easy process, it’s quite addictive. For a quick ‘how to’ check out Wendy’s blog and for some major inspiration, check out Shelley’s blog, she is the master of freezer paper stencils.

Of course a little cape was required so I added some velcro to the tee and some elastic to  the arms so he could do some proper flapping,  which he did, endlessly!

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Here he is with his buddies at the school disco (thanks for the photo Kristie!)

Maybe just one more sweater dress before the winter is out….

x

The Ellis Dress – hacking up a perfectly good pattern!

I think it’s fair to say that I have taken the idea of ‘slow sewing’ to a whole new level. I am not entirely sure this is a bad thing, I think that churning out make after make is, I suppose, probably as bad as fast fashion.  So the idea of slowing down and really choosing my projects with care is probably a good thing overall.  Problem is, it doesn’t quite satisfy the maker in me.  Food for thought.

The Pattern:

So, onto my latest make, a great pattern by Merchant & Mills, the Ellis & Hattie Dress. I bought my pattern from Stitch 56, it’s thrilling to have a paper pattern, I rarely treat myself.

It was the neckline, darts and sleeves of the Ellis version that really won me over.  But I did hesitate initially, the skirt part, it’s just not me.  I am not keen on a gathered skirt, it just adds volume where I don’t need it.  So, I decided to hack up a perfectly good pattern and make it my own.

The toile:

I decided to extend the bodice of the Ellis and make it into an slightly A-line dress with inseam pockets.  I also wanted to add in an exposed zip which meant I needed to alter the back by adding a yoke.  Starting point was this toile.

A couple of issues emerged.  Firstly, the shoulder seams were way too big.  I notice on the original shots from Merchant & Mills that they don’t sit right on the shoulder of the model.  They were way too big for me though, so I decided to remove a couple of centimetres.

I have altered the shoulder seam before on a previous make.  I had to add width to the shoulders on my Frankie dress, here’s how I did that.  But for this dress I needed to reduce the shoulder seam so I reversed the process.  I drew a diagonal line from the shoulder seam to the arm hole and then slit the pattern (leaving a few millimetres to allow for the pivot).  I then reduced the seam by 2cm and then trued it up.  If you try this at home, remember to do this to the front and back!

I also felt that the neckline was too high so I reduced it, again by a couple of centimetres.

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I decided to add some length to the sleeves. I just wanted them a tad longer to cover my elbow. Finally, I changed the back yoke, mainly to accomodate an awesome zip that I wanted to fit here.  I lengthened the yoke accordingly.

The fabric:

I bought this fabric at FabWorks on my recent visit to the UK in June last year.  Yep, it’s been sitting in my cupboard staring at me for a whole year.  It’s a fantastic fabric.  A heavy and slubby cotton in a dark inky blue.  The fabric works either side, but I preferred the darker option.  I would love to say that I remember the fabric specs, I always think I will and then never do.

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Both sides of this fabric would work I think, shame I didn’t make it reversible!

The result:

This all sounds easy and quick, and yes, to someone concentrating on it for a stretch of time it is.  But, I tackled this piecemeal, in mini pockets of time.  The ultimate slow sew.  After a few weeks of tinkering away,  I made it and I really couldn’t be happier with the result (even if my forced smile below suggests otherwise).

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It has a good amount of volume to hide all those wobbly bits!

I am super pleased with the fit.  The top of this dress is perfect and I think it suits my shape.  The darts give it a lovely shape.  The only issue is that the fabric is so textured that the darts vanish a bit. I really liked the top stitched darts on the Merchants & Mills version, I did consider this but chickened out at the last minute.

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3 darts at this side, can you spot them??
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I can’t believe my luck with the fit!

The back of this dress turned out much better than I expected.  My initial plan was to reverse the back yoke and have the white side of the fabric exposed.  But, when I was sent this zip by Who Says Sew it just had to be part of the dress, it worked so well.  The original pattern calls for a button closure so I had to work out the addition of the zip.  It wasn’t too difficult but what I did fail to do (think piecemeal sewing and not concentrating) was consider how to finish the top of the exposed zip.

In the end I had to remove some teeth, I used a little tutorial from Makery to help me with this.  I then unpicked the facing and sandwiched the zipper tape between the facing and the dress.  It was super fiddly and but I managed to get a (fairly) clean finish with the machine and some nifty hand stitching.

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Loving my feature zip!
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I have even managed to wear this dress 3 times already!
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With or without?

I can see another Ellis in my future, it’s really a lovely pattern.  The instructions are clear and well executed.  I am looking forward to hacking up the Hattie version in the summer. Watch this space.

There is only one gripe I have with this make, this time it’s down to me, not the pattern.  I added the inseam pockets far too low down the dress.  When my fingers hit the bottom of the pockets, my arms are almost straight.  I also feel that the pockets are adding volume just where I don’t need it.  At this point, the pockets are still in, but I am sorely tempted to remove them just to slim the silhouette down a fraction.

What do you think? With or without pockets?

x

My gift criteria = The Ida Clutch

My friend is having a birthday and a present is required! I think I have made a rod for my own back with this present giving business.  About 90% of the time, I make something.  My friends and family don’t expect a homemade gift but I do think that if I can make it, then I will.  I think a homemade gift sings of love and the precious commodity of ‘my time’.

Lately, I have made enough Sashiko zip wallets to sink a battleship, so a change was needed (for my sanity alone).

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I stumbled across this cute clutch bag pattern by Kylie and the Machine on Instagram. The Ida clutch was exactly what I was looking for.

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Image from @kylieandthemachine

I have been thinking about the gifts I make and have drawn up a simple criteria:

  • an easy make
  • only use fabrics/notions/patterns from my stash
Of course, this is not always possible but I wanted to give it a go here.
I started off this project by checking out Kylie’s website.  The Ida clutch pattern is free and easy to download from her site.  That’s one massive tick in the’ gift giving’ criteria box. So I printed it out and off I went.
There are fantastic instructions on her blog, the photography is great and the written instructions are very clear.  It’s an easy make (another tick). You will also find a whole section about interfacing the clutch, interfacing is key to the structure of this make.

The final part to my criteria is using fabric and notions from my stash.  I found it, the perfect fabric! The leftover fabric from a raglan sleeve top I made back in August last year.

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Check out my blog post “A synthetic dream!

It’s a Tessuti Fabric that I discovered on the remnant table.  It’s a monochrome nylon mesh fabric so it’s very textured as you can see here. A lovely tactical fabric for this clutch, it’s the perfect combo.

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(It also makes your eyes go a bit squiffy!)

As my criteria states that I needed to use what’s on hand, I had to be creative with the interfacing.  This is Kylie’s recommendation, a lighter interfacing to cover the outer fabric then a stiffer interfacing to cover the main body of the clutch.

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Image from: Kylie and the Machine
 I didn’t have this I used a medium interfacing to cover the outer pieces, then I sandwiched some heavy wadding and interfacing together for the body piece. This seemed to give it the structure it needed.  I also (possibly overcompensated) by using fairly heavy fabrics.  The Nylon mesh fabric has a synthetic textured structure (i.e. no drape or stretch) and for the lining I used a heavy dark denim.

I wouldn’t normally top stitch near the zip but I followed instructions and I am glad I did.  The mesh is really ‘bouncy’ and it is not a friend to the iron, so pressing is redundant.  The top stitching really helped it to sit flat next to the zip.

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Top stitching

I am always apprehensive of using a snap which was a requirement here.  I think the ones I have (of unknown source) are fairly poor quality, but I tested them out a couple of times. The fact that I was using such heavy fabric really helped me here. The snaps seemed to worked well and I have to say, they aren’t going anywhere!

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Zip: Who Says Sew

Finally for the zip, this is a new addition to the collection at Who Says Sew.  It’s a lovely YKK metal teeth zip with ring pull. The colour choice here was my only big decision; yellow, red or wine.  I think if it was a clutch for me then I would have gone yellow but as I kept reminding myself, it wasn’t! I went for the wine colour, it still gives it the ‘pop’ I was looking for.

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You can see how well the structure holds up here

I did have to alter the length of the zip slightly and because it’s a metal zip, a pair of pliers and a little tutorial by Makery was required. I will no longer be afraid of altering a metal zip, it was super easy.

So here it is…

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So yummy!
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Running away…

I see many more of these in my future, I may even resort to type and make a Sashiko version. Problem is, I don’t want to give this one away.  Let’s hope she really doesn’t like it!

x

The saga of some giant ruffles and a summer shirt!

My nerves are shot to bits… I keep catching something in the corner of my eye and it’s…. a GIGANTIC ruffle!

What am I talking about? Well, I have been lusting over this pattern for ages.  It’s the Suzon Shirt from Republique du Chiffon.  I like their patterns, understated with a twist, my kinda thing.  So I put in an order with Stitch56 and bought the paper pattern.  I don’t often buy paper patterns, I am a ‘PDF-er’ so it was lovely to receive this sweet package, a cool kraft envelope, some lovely photography and basic instruction manual.  Nothing fancy, but that’s OK, I don’t need fancy, I just need a good pattern. Mmmmm…

OK, so where to start.  I made a toile.  I thought I should as I am short in the body and narrow across the shoulders so a few things could go wrong.  I chose the size 38 and graded out slightly to a 40 for the hips.

I am glad I toiled, there were problems.

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It was way too long.  So I went back to the pattern to find the shorten/lengthen line but there isn’t one.  I took a punt and reduced it by 6cm at the waist.

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The second issue was the bust dart.  It was way too low for me, sitting right under my boob. Thought I should nudge that up by 1.5cm.  Also the bust dart is very long.  It went way past my nipple point.  It was at least 2.5cm too long.  So I reduced the length and moved the dart.

The other issue I encountered, which isn’t shown in these photos is the ruffle.  As there are no notches on the ruffle to match to the yoke or the body it left me feeling kinda lost, I had about 4cm left over at one end.

So, the toile sat there on my dummy for weeks. I knew the answer, I just couldn’t bare to tackle it.

The answer was notches. Surely notches are necessary to ensure the right amount of gathering in each section.  I did what I had to do,  I decided to notch the ruffle, front yoke, back yoke, the front body and the back body.  Overkill?  No, I don’t think so.  It took me AGES to work it all out.  Time I would assume the pattern maker should have spent.  Am I asking too much?

With the pattern altered and notched I was finally away.  The fabric I had chosen is a joy to me.  It’s a lovely piece of brushed cotton from Fabworks in Dewsbury.  My Mum bought if for me when I dragged my parents there on my recent visit to the UK.  I say recent, that was back in June. I haven’t seen fabric like this before.  There are tiny threads of colour, like a thread splatter, on an off white cotton base. I just love it,  it is subtle but interesting.  Am I finally growing up?

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I decided to take the time to mark tailors tacks everywhere, with all the pulling of the gathers I thought that the chalk marks would be lost. Tailors tacks were a better option.  I used some floro orange thread just for fun. You can just see them sticking out here.

It came together fairly quickly after that.  The collar and plackets were relatively straightforward to add.  I should say though, if you like detailed illustrations at every stage, you don’t get them here.  There’s just enough to get the idea.

I was keen to try my buttonhole function on my Bernina 350.  I have made the odd buttonhole here and there but not a row of identical buttonholes.  It’s pretty awesome in that once it has made one it goes into auto and makes all the other exactly the same.  All you have to do is move it to it’s next position.  I am sure all you lovely sewers with great machines have had this function for years.  It’s a revelation to me.  I see many more buttonholes in my future.

The only issue with the pattern here was that there were no buttonhole markings supplied on the pattern.  It tells you in the instructions where they should go, but I like to see it marked on the pattern.

It worked out well in the end, even with all the work I put into it.  It’s not a beginners pattern that’s for sure.  It’s categorised as 2/4, so is that advanced beginners or intermediate?  But it’s the design that I love so I am willing to forget the effort involved.  Because I finished it a few weeks ago, like giving birth, you forget the pain fairly quickly because you have something quite beautiful to show at the end!

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Excuse the creases, I had been wearing it all day!
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It’s so soft that it’s like wearing my pj top
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It’s not a fitted shirt, it quite boxy in shape which works well to cover my tum
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The ruffles are a bit flat here, clearly been sitting down too long.
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The finger?  Well that’s another story….

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new silhouette (aka does my bum look big in this?)

It seems like an age since my last blog post, how did that happen?

I haven’t sewn much lately, work is crazy busy and fun sewing projects seem to get put on the back burner.  So I decided to take a stand.  I put the hoovering, cooking and taxi driving to one side and thought about myself for once.

I have been wanting to make a skirt for ages but could never find the right pattern. We are also hitting autumn here and even though the humidity is unbelievable, I can feel a change a coming.  I need a transeasonal skirt and I found one in the form of a free sewing pattern from a Peppermint Magazine and In the Folds collaboration.

 

How cute is this?  It’s a pleated skirt with lovely big pockets.  I love it, but does it love me?

I am often unsure about this shape on me.  I am a pear with a tum, was this going to just exaggerate the bits I’m not keen on?  I took a gamble and gave it a go.

I usually make a toile but in this instance I didn’t.  It’s a forgiving pattern so I followed the pattern sizing and opted for a C, which is a size 10.  Normally I would grade out one size for my hips but with the pleating and volume in the skirt I just went for it and cut the straight C.  I am thrilled to say, it’s a really great fit.  I can’t remember the last time I made something without some serious alterations.  The only tweek I made was, unsurprisingly, to the length.  I reduced the length by 6cm and it sits perfectly on the knee.

I didn’t buy new fabric for this pattern, I raided my stash.  I love the patterned fabric in the magazine but I wanted something plain.  I KNOW… plain!  Sometimes you just have to put the patterned fabric aside.

This stash fabric was found at my local charity shop. I think it cost me the princely sum of $3.  Always hard to know exactly what it is, but I would say it’s some kind of brushed cotton mix with a very subtle herringbone texture running through it.  And it’s purple. Yes, that surprised me too. I am generally not a lover of purple.

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The fabric was a bugger to work with.  It was quite drapey and moved around a lot.  It also kept collecting ironing marks, so pressing was an issue throughout the whole process. I think the pleats could do with sharpening up with the iron but I was too eager to wear it to be bothered with that!

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The pattern itself was pretty awesome.  I haven’t done much pleating before, I have never really fancied them.  The pleating was a bit fiddly but with some proper chalking up it was easy to follow.  The top stitching down was a great idea as it flattens the pleats and takes out the volume round your tum. Top marks for instructions and design as always!

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But the big question is, does my bum look big in this?

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note: crazy kids making me laugh here!

Answer: Yes, probably, maybe, not sure… but really who cares?

I like it. I like the colour and I like the fact that I swish around in it. I love the fact that it has giant pockets. Time to embrace a new silhouette I think!

 

 

A sneaky bit of Sashiko stitching!

I find the summer holidays a challenge when it comes to sewing time. I am sure I am not alone.  But I do find that I can grab the odd half hour here and there of hand sewing time.  Sashiko and Boro are perfect for such moments.

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Here I am watching ‘the middle one’ at soccer training with some stitching in hand. Of course, I could be watching him train for an hour but what’s the fun in that?

I have been working on this particular piece for a couple of weeks.  I used some scrap pieces from other projects, like black denim and grey linen which I added to some beautiful pieces of Japanese fabric from Indigo Niche and some Kogin fabric from Bebe Bold.  I also used traditional Sashiko thread in denim blue, orange and white, again from Bebe Bold. Of course you can use embroidery floss but the Sashiko thread doesn’t split like embroidery floss tends to do.

I used some traditional techniques and then improvised using ideas from the slow sewing workshop I attended last year, run by Craft School Oz.  A happy marriage I would say.  I am thrilled with the result, although it was hard to stop stitching!

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Sad for me, but this piece is something I am parting with.  Yes, a present for my lovely friend.  A birthday present, a very belated birthday present.  I am hoping it’s loveliness will excuse my tardiness.

Of course I could gift this piece as it stands, she’s a creative sole, she would find a purpose for it but I wanted to send something useful. I thought that a purse of some kind would work, something big enough for makeup perhaps.  It’s a simple process making this into a purse but I though I would do a quick tutorial in my next blog post about how to do this.

In the meantime, here is the finished purse.

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I love these metal antique-style brass zips, I bought this one from Who Says Sew. I also used some grey cotton to line the inside, these pieces were from my scrap box.
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I used this Japanese fabric from Indigo Niche for the back

Lets hope this piece doesn’t go missing in the post (as some of my homemade Christmas presents did!)  Happy birthday to Bev x

 

 

I made a Christmas dress! (no santas or snowmen were harmed)

I rarely make myself anything for Christmas but this year I just fancied a little dress that would allow me to eat an extra mince pie.

I know, I know, I have made the same pattern again.  I just can’t help myself.  I have chosen to make The Raglan Sleeve Dress from Japanese pattern Book “Stylish Party Dresses” by Yoshiko Tsukiori.

These are my versions of this pattern so far, a top hack, a long sleeve top hack and a black crepe dress. I love it, it’s an easy one to make and sometimes easy is just what I need.  It’s also extremely useful when I am very time poor, which of course, I always am at this time of year.

I spotted this fantastic fabric on Pitt Trading‘s Instagram page.  It was love at first sight.  The fabric is just amazing, it had to be mine.  It’s rare that I make impulse fabric purchases but this is one of those rare occasions.  I am sure you can see why I just went for it.

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The description was polyester, large digital print, 150cm wide.  I had visions of a floaty rayon type fabric but it wasn’t that at all.  It was almost like a lightweight scuba.  Not unhappy with this turn of events I have to say.  It has body and I like a bit of body in my fabrics.   It also had a bit of stretch so I thought I would treat it as a stretch fabric.

I decided to use my walking foot throughout this process, but use a standard needle and not a ballpoint.  I also decided to finish the seams with a 3 strand overlocked edge to help the seams sit flatter.

The dress itself is an easy one, made before many times so the only things to contend with was managing the fabric.  The walking foot and the overlocking worked a treat but pressing was an issue.  The fabric has bounce.  I remembered an excellent video blog post by Did You Make That? about such issues, using a clapper and some simple ironing techniques so I followed her lead.

I don’t own a clapper and I am sure many sewers don’t so I had to find an alternative.  What I did end up using was our sleeve pressing ham.  It’s long and heavy (perhaps not as flat as it could be) but it did help reduce the fabric’s bounce.

I was super careful when pressing, using a piece of fabric as a pressing cloth just incase I scorched the fabric.  I have burnt fabric so many times, often at the end of a make, like here.  It often results in tears and a lot of swearing.  You would think that I had learnt my lesson but it seems not. I slipped, missed the pressing cloth and burnt the shoulder of the dress in it’s final press.  If it had been on a black piece of the pattern I think I could have lived with it but no it was on the peach panel, right on the shoulder for all to see.  There was no option but to remove the sleeve and recut it.

Sometimes these things prove to be happy accidents.  I wasn’t entirely happy with the neckline.  It is faced and with this slightly thicker and bouncer fabric it just wasn’t sitting as flat as I like.

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I had under stitched the neckline but when I clipped the curve (as per instructions) it started to look quite jagged and bulky.  You could also see the clipping after I pressed and topstitched.

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Pre-burn shot: I burnt the peach piece on the right shoulder.

So when removing the right sleeve, I removed the top stitching, under stitching and facing from the neckline.  Due to the clipping I also had to cut the neckline back a little, which was fine. I decided to use some bias binding to finish the neckline.  I am much happier with the result.

I decided against any kind of pattern matching but did want the neckline to be predominately black so to hide the top stitching.  I was also super anal with the hemming and changed the thread from black to peach and back again when finishing.  Has anyone done that before or is it just me?

Lessons were learnt with this make. I have since made a pressing cloth with a tag which now hangs next to my iron as a constant reminder.  I think the other lesson was to sew more instinctively.  I thought to myself that binding would be better than facing on the neckline but dismissed it.  Go with your instincts.

So here it is.  I love it and have already worn it a couple of times.

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New sleeve in place…
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Notice the machine hemming – it’s invisible as I changed the thread
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Love the green panel around the neckline here
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Much happier with the neckline (even though I don’t look it!)

I am really loving this fabric, I also have enough left to make something else.  I am thinking a little self drafted skirt??  I just can’t leave this fabric in my stash!

 

Round up – 2016!

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It’s that time of year again.  It’s my sewing oscars.  A time to mull over my makes from 2016 and reflect on my sewing resolutions.  I started this little idea last year and I quite enjoyed the process so here we are again.

The resolutions I set for myself are quite interesting and I am pleased to say I have moved a little closer to achieving them.  I have set them out here.

Resolution 1: What I would like is to be a more conscious shopper. Seriously considering what I am buying, do I need it and what are the ethical implications of the item. I plan on buying second hand or vintage and wearing homemade as much as possible.

I can say that, yes, I am achieving this.  I think the only items of clothing I have bought this year are underwear, a pair of jeans and the odd vintage piece.  I am sure that these items could easily be made, but I am just not that keen on making jeans or underwear.  Convert me! Happy to hear your experiences.

Resolution 2: I would like to try my hand at menswear. I am the only woman in our house, I don’t even have a girl pet! I think I should perhaps embrace this concept once in a while, maybe I will start with something for the hubbie. I bought the Colette Negroni shirt pattern today, maybe this is a good place to start.   I would also like to make some more interesting pieces, something that my pre-teen boys would happily wear.

Mmm… not quite made the leap into menswear.  I now have 2 shirt patterns that I am interested in making for my husband but so far, nothing.  Although I should say I have made a t-shirt for my 11 year old and numerous tees and shorts for the little one.  Not that interesting but at least I made them something.

Resolution 3: I want to slow down! I get so excited about fabric and patterns that I sew at break-neck speed. Time for reflection I think.

Yes, this has definitely happened.  Mainly due to time restrains more than a conscious decision though.  I have made far fewer pieces this year than last.

Resolution 4: Last but not least, I want to reduce the fabric stash! No new fabric. Yes I know, that’s on every sewers list but I would really like to try… (Well, I will, once I have spent my Christmas Tessuti voucher!)

Yeah, right…

THE SEWING OSCARS 2016

So here they are, nothing controversial I hope!

MAKE OF THE YEAR

I think to be considered ‘Make of the Year’ it should be something that I am proud of and also a very wearable piece.  If that’s the criteria then my self drafted denim kimono wins hands down. I lived in this throughout autumn, winter and into spring.  It goes with everything!  I also love the punk-ish tartan lining and the gigantic comedy sleeves .  It’s just my most versatile make to date.

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DRESS OF THE YEAR

Way too easy, it’s the Acton.  No doubt in my mind.  I wear this dress to every occasion.  It’s been back to the UK for a wedding, it has been to every dinner date, birthday party and even the occasional art exhibition.  It could easily have been my ‘refashion of the year’, ‘fabric of the year’ or ‘make of the year’ but then that would be a bit singular.  I have big love for this dress (and the pattern designer as you know!)

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GIFT OF THE YEAR (aka. unselfish sewing)

It’s a tough one this year because I have actually been quite selfish.  I have made a few little Christmas gifts this year which I am rather in love with (lets hope the recipients are too!)

But I think this one is my favourite, Margie’s kimono.  I totally loved making this for Margie and just look how well she wears it!

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REFASHION OF THE YEAR

Of course my Acton dress was a big contender for this, making a dress and a jacket (yet to be blogged) out of a kimono was really a huge challenge.  But, just to mix it up a bit I have chosen my “The Refashioners 2016” entry.  It’s a great refashion out of some scraps and a pair of jeans making an all time favourite sweatshirt.

 

FABRIC OF THE YEAR

Always a tough one, here are the runners up which include my own hand painted fabric (top right), some gifted fishy-ness, an old tablecloth (bottom right) and some rockin’ rayon (bottom left).

I finally settled on this rather wonderful piece from Faberwood. The quality of the knit is outstanding, it was a pleasure to sew.  But it’s the pattern that stands out.  It’s such a beautiful bold himmeli pattern and large in scale.  (A bugger to shoot though!)

 

SECOND HAND SCORE 2016

Rolling ‘charity shop score’ and ‘vintage score’ into one category this year, mainly due to lack of shopping (see: resolutions!)  I found this marvellous 90’s shirt in a cool vintage store in Sheffield in the summer.  It holds happy memories as I was shopping with one of my oldest and most treasured friends at the time, the sun was shining and it was hot.  I know, hot in Sheffield!

It feels a bit odd buying clothing that I had probably given away myself, but still, its fantastic and the colours really blow my mind.

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PATTERN OF THE YEAR

Mmmm…. tough one. I have really enjoyed a number of patterns this year, the contenders are;

The Acton Dress for its magic and interesting construction.

The Frankie Dress for it’s sheer ease and wearability.

The Raglan Sleeve Dress from Japanese pattern book, Stylish Party Dresses for it’s endless hack-ability, I have used this for a few makes this year.

But for me, the winner is a much simpler make and of course it’s a knit.  It’s the Sweater Dress from In the Folds/Peppermint Magazine.  I know it’s an easy one, but I have made it a few times and I love it for it’s simplicity, clear instructions, price-tag (it’s free) AND of course the pockets!!

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DUD OF THE YEAR

No doubt in my mind about this one.  It has to be this horror.  I look like I should be shovelling chips at the school canteen circa. 1985.  The photoshoot was also bad so I even get this ‘vaseline smeared lens’ look just to top it off. The top is too big, one size fits all is nonsense and not particularly flattering.  I am also not sure the colour is me, which is sad because the fabric is so soft and lovely.

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It is currently in pieces, mid refashion.  It may prove fruitless but I think it deserves my time.

That’s it for this years sewing oscars. Do you agree with my choices? I am pleased with my makes this year but I think there is plenty of room for improvement.

My resolutions this year are unchanged.  I think they are relevant and I want to work hard to maintain them in 2017.  Who’s with me?