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.
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!
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!
But the big question is, does my bum look big in this?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
I am sure you know by now that I share a studio with Emily of In the Folds, the designer of the Acton. It has been in the works for some time and I have seen the evolution of this pattern from it’s humble beginnings to the glorious dress you see today.
Back in April, Emily asked me if I would like to test this for her, of course I agreed. I wanted to test view B which is the wrap skirt option. I knew that with my mum-tum this option would be the perfect cover up. It would remove the need to wear my ‘suck ’em up’ pants! (Before you say it, I know my stomach is not enormous, but it’s my main bugbear and I feel a bit self conscious about it!)
I started out testing a straight size B but I soon realised that this size would be too big in the bodice. My issue isn’t the boob size, it’s the depth. I am very short in the body, which means my boobs don’t actually sit where most sit, they are essentially higher. So for my first proper toile I made up a straight size A, not sure why I decided to go down an entire size!
There was a ‘new to me’ element in this pattern. I have never sewn princess panels before, how is this possible? I think it’s because I often associate them with vintage style frocks, but with the racer back and the thin straps I think the design is more contemporary. I was surprised how easy the princess panels were to place together and this is where my tailors ham came in very useful!
The wrap skirt is very unusual. From a construction perspective I had no idea how this would ever fit together. There is a moment when you are attaching the skirt to the bodice at the side seams and thinking ‘have I done something wrong here?’ and ‘this will never work!’ It does work!* I have to say I have never come across anything like it before. A little bit of sewing magic happens right before your very eyes.
*(the instructions are now fuller in this area, more details have been added).
You can see from the photos below what I mean. The skirt is essentially a giant square.
This was a good toile but after wearing it I could see there were a few issues with the fit. It’s just a bit too tight. I had initially reduced the seam allowance on the side seams and at the zip to give me some breathing space but still it was not quite right.
There is some ‘back fat’ splurge going on (not shown for obvious reasons). You can also see in the picture above that there is some pulling under the arm pit towards the boob, indicating it’s too small. I wanted the wrap to meet in the middle too and it doesn’t quite get there. Finally, I cut the hem too short, I was a little overzealous with the scissors.
But this really would have been a wearable toile if I hadn’t burnt a dirty great hole in the back of it when giving it a final press. Tears were shed.
I enjoyed the pattern testing process and I have big love for this dress. It’s a great dress to try out new skills, especially with the unique construction. It made me determined to sort out my fit issues as I had a bigger plan up my sleeve.
I can’t throw these jeans away. They aren’t particularly ‘cool’ but they are comfy and they fit me and I like them, so they are staying.
The problem with these jeans is that they are very light weight denim and so are wearing out at a very fast pace. The only solution is to keep fixing.
They started out with a single knee patch, then a second knee patch and now I am onto fixing more knee thinning.
I patching it up, to strengthen the area. I used some grey and white striped cotton fabric, a scrap I found in my box. It’s a thin cotton and because I wasn’t at the studio and machine-less, I just used iron-on glue to secure the piece. I left the edges raw. Just because.
I used the white lines in the stripe to guide the straight lines of sashiko stitching. I thought I would experiment with the crosses. I think it paid off. The white rows were an afterthought, aiming to pull it all together. You can see there is one row of straight stitching. Clearly I missed that row, oh well, happy accident!
If you are wanting some visible mending on your favourite jeans, just drop me a line. I am happy to help.
The RNIB (the Royal National Institute of Blind People) is a UK charity that supports people with sight loss with a huge range of services. These services include emotional support and campaigning for public environments that respect the needs of blind and partially sighted people. RNIB run a campaign every October called Wear Dots Raise Lots to highlight the impact of Braille and to raise money for their services.
Rosie works on a project called Online Today, which helps people with sight loss to use digital technology. All of these services mean that blind and partially sighted people are not excluded from everyday communication.
A worthy cause and a fun challenge, so I signed up. To find out more, I watched this little vBlog made by Rosie. It’s cool, take the time to watch.
Onto my project; For us sewing peeps, Rosie has been filling her Instagram feed with dot sewing inspiration which has been thrilling to see. Everything from oversized dot mini skirts to mini dotted dungarees to monochrome dotty raincoats.
My thoughts when starting this project was to use fabric and a pattern that I already owned and donate any money I would have spent. Dots are pretty thin on the ground in my stash and I can’t say I have sewn all that many pieces in ‘straight-up’ polka dots. These are the only projects I could find that are close to the brief. I think 2 out of the 3 aren’t standard polka dot patterns. The first was made from a polka dot tablecloth, the second was a random raindrop spot and the third more mesh than dotty.
So time for some experiments. I decided to produce my own dotty fabric.
I found the perfect base fabric, a piece of white linen that was gifted to my by Margie (the gift that keeps on giving!) I always feel that linen is a ‘grown up’ fabric and that I was never mature enough to pull it off. Well today is the day I am doing linen, but of course with my own special touch. I started by hand painting some small dots and then cutting into some freezer paper to produce some larger dots.
I really liked the smaller random black dots so I abandoned the grey. I liked the grey but they were quite patchy and I thought together they would be too much for me.
Now to choose a pattern. I settled on a Peplum top from Peppermint Magazine, designed by In the Folds. A new pattern to me, but a free pattern. Yes you heard me, a free pattern, just downloaded from the Peppermint Magazine website. The top had been made in a light grey linen so I knew my white linen would work a treat.
My biggest issue was the peplum. Lets just say, I am not a fan of a peplum. Anything that cuts me right at my ‘problem area’ is just not for me. So I just extended the top and eliminated the peplum.
The pattern has a lovely design feature on the shoulders which isn’t easy to see in this photo, but the diagram shows it in more detail.
I decided to paint the shoulder panels and then create a pocket to further achieve some dot loveliness. It turned out pretty well. What do you think?
It was an easy sew. The instructions are very detailed. I was dreading adding the binding to the ‘V’ but the ingenious pattern piece really helped to make my ‘V’ sharp. I am also pleased with the pocket. It was my second attempt at sewing it in place but I finally managed to make it as symmetrical as I could. It’s a bit wobbly so don’t look too closely!
It’s just the right amount of dottiness for me. I much prefer a random dot so this mini dalmation pattern worked a treat. Now all we need is a warm sunny day.
I just couldn’t help myself. I have only gone and made another Frankie dress!
After the success of my fishy dress and the fact that I haven’t taken it off since the sun came out, I thought I would give it another bash.
There were a couple of tweeks I wanted to make with the fit. I originally cut my fishy dress to a extra small on the top grading to a small. This time round, I thought maybe a straight small would be better as the shoulders seams were a little short. I also decided to add an additional centimetre for some extra room. This is how I added that extra width.
I drew a diagonal line from the shoulder seam to the arm hole, cut long the line and opened it up by a centimetre. It just gave me the extra room I needed. The final adjustment was to length. I had reduced the length on my fishy dress, mainly due to fabric shortage so this time I cut the specified short length as per the pattern. You will notice that I also chose the elbow length sleeve option instead of the short sleeves.
The fabric I used for this make is really special. I bought it from Faberwood in the UK. It’s quite a bold himmeli pattern and large in scale.
I had originally spotted it on Wendy Ward’s instagram page and went straight online and bought a couple of metres. As I was heading back to the UK in August, it was waiting for me when I arrived at my parent’s place. It was a long wait, but well worth it. It’s an amazing quality knit. This is what I like about Faberwood, it’s a well curated and quality driven fabric store. AND bonus to me, I actually got to meet Fiona who owns Faberwood while I was back in the UK.
So here it is.
I am pleased that I sorted out the fit, it feels less restricted on the shoulders than my fishy dress. I am also pleased I didn’t cock it up as this fabric is so lovely (and no longer available) that I think tears would have been shed if I had made a mistake. I am now waiting with bated breath to see what Wendy and Fiona make with their pieces.
I picked up a pair of jeans recently. They were new jeans with fake ageing. I have to say I am generally not a fan of such techniques, but they fit really well and I was in need of a quick fix. This doesn’t exactly fits with my ideals, but hey ho.
I knew that the knees would go pretty quickly as the ageing made them pretty weak and so a hole quickly emerged. Of course, cool people leave such holes, but I just can’t. I see creative possibilities and I just can’t leave them.
I have been wanting to try some more complex Sashiko for a while and these jeans presented an opportunity to experiment.
A few months ago I visited the Craft and Quilt Fair in Sydney, not exactly my bag, but worth a trip to meet Jane MacDonald, the owner of Bebe Bold, a local Sashiko supplier and teacher. It was crazy busy but she chatted to us for a while and helped me choose some thread and impart some of her vast knowledge. I bought some lovely pieces, three Olympus threads, long Sashiko needles and some Kogin fabric. Jane also gave me instructions for a pin cushion, the Hitomezashi Hydrangea pattern.
I have been dying to try it for a while but it looked frightening complicated so I have been sitting on it. Time to bite the bullet.
Here’s what I did;
I am not the neatest hand sewer, even with the dots to help me out. But it’s quite lovely all the same.
Boring mending? Definitely not. Enjoyable mending? Most definitely.
I loved sitting down with the kids, I rarely do it. They watched ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ while I stitched away.
I was asked by Maaike of MaaiDesign to join her blog tour to showcase the new range of See You at Six fabrics. Joy of joy, I just can’t resist such requests!
I joined her first blog tour back in March, way before we ever met. Although, recently I had the pleasure when Maaike popped into our little studio to say hello. The conversation was something along the lines of “Oh my! you’re so TALL!” (me to Maaike) and “Oh my! you’re so SMALL!” (Maaike to me). It’s funny how you don’t get a sense of perspective on instagram and on blogs. Subsequently, I made her sit on the low stool in the studio.
So I had a choice to make, some lovely fabrics in soft drapey rayon. These were my top 4. Decision making is not really my forte, it took a while.
There are some beautiful colours and patterns in this collection; pastels, mint green, pale pinks and some lovely florals but I was drawn to the darker colours. After much ‘umming’ and ‘ahhhing’, I decided on the black and white drops. The randomness of the pattern is appealing to me. I like polka dots but don’t often wear them but this had a more contemporary edge to the design.
Rayon isn’t a fabric I use very often, mainly because I wear more boxy shapes which require structured fabrics. But I was excited by this challenge and really, it’s so lovely to touch! Now to find a pattern.
I had spotted this dress on my Pinterest page which was just what I was looking for. I had a starting point. I put it out to the ‘oracles of sewing’ (Sydney IG crew) for suggestions. Vintage patterns seemed to hold the answer. As you know I am a big supporter of the independent pattern designer, this is usually the direction I travel, but I decided to strike out and raid my vintage pattern collection. My vintage pattern collection, I might add, is vast!
After a lengthy search I found it. A blouse (I love that word!) McCalls 8528 from 1983. The size was pretty good as it’s quite a ‘blousey’ blouse, all I had to do was hack it into a dress. I chose view D as I wanted the mandarin collar and the short sleeves with the cuffs. It also had the required kimono sleeves and the front gathering on the shoulders.
Ok, so let me just say that I am not a fan of gathering. The gathering may look minimal on the front but the back was a little more frightening. It seemed to have a lot of volume. I decided to trace it off and make a toile.
When adding the length to this blouse I literally draw it out as straight as I could, a slight A-line in shape but not too much. The toile was successful, although I prefer a little more room around my hips and so added a little extra to the back seam instead of the side seams. This gave me the room I needed. The top part fitted perfectly. It’s always a little frightening making a toile from calico, the gathering looked vast and rather comical. But I am glad I did or I would have been unhappy with the fit around my hips.
The first challenge was cutting the rayon. Luckily I have an expert on hand to help me. Emily (In the Folds) suggested I use her pattern cutting paper beneath the rayon. Firstly, I pinned the rayon together at the selvedges, then pinned it to the paper (using the guides on the paper as markers). I then went nuts with the pins and then added my pattern pieces. Here is a picture of some pieces so you get the idea. The result is crisp, perfectly cut pieces. It’s a pattern piece sandwich!
After that part, it was a fairly easy sew. I am surprised as I always image rayon to be a slipper sucker. It wasn’t, it was easy. I interfacing the front plackets and collar, put a 60/8 needle into my machine and away I went.
The biggest bugbear I had was with the yoke. Based on the instructions, this was the finishing on the inside. I just couldn’t live with that. I am not a perfectionist by a long stretch, but I think it would have bugged me forever so I decided to face it. I hand stitched it in place. I think it’s a much better result.
The final steps were the buttons and buttonholes. I actually tried to pretend it wasn’t happening for about a week before I worked up the courage to tackle them. I have done many in the past but I have never been happy with the results.
My machine has a buttonhole attachment so I did about 10 samples on the fabric. I even got my instruction book out and went through each step methodically. I just needed to get the balance right on either side of the hole (who knew this was a thing)? The results were fine but it does make me realise a superior machine may have reaped superior results, food for thought!
The button colour was another choice I was stuck on. I pinned a few options to the dress to get an idea. When Emily suggested I used all of them I went with it. The result is far superior for it. What do you think?
So here is the final result. I hope you like it as much as I do.
Lucky ducks! MaaiDesign is offering a 10% discount on the See You At Six collection from 12th – 30th September 2016. Just use the code: seeyouatsix.
For more inspiration check out these blogging chicks, ROCKIN’ THE RAYON!
The theme is Jeans only: (Not denim jackets, skirts, shirts etc) Because the specific challenge with this is the scarcity of fabric and all the hardware and heavy seaming you’ll need to work around. The majority of your finished project must have come from the source garment (ie your jeans). Other than that anything goes. Use additional fabric and haberdashery to your hearts content, as long as you turn them from something you don’t wear, into something you do wear…or use, ok?!
If you don’t know about this challenge then I suggest you hop over and have a read. To kick start this challenge, Portia enlists a bunch of uber talented sewers to give it ‘there all.’ You will see a wide variety of designs, a cool and eclectic mix, from wiggle dresses and kimonos to tops and jackets. There are some brilliant pieces, but my favourite has to be Joost’s project, err yes, Joost is a man. Quite a brilliant and talented man at that. He had me at ‘hello’.
So, to cut up a pair of jeans is a big thing. From an environmental perspective they are a huge consumer of water (among other things). Something we must be really mindful of, especially those of us here in Australia. My thinking was, if I can’t wear them then surely someone else can! So I set out to find ‘unwearable’ jeans.
My first thought was to talk to my mother-in-law, Chris. She works for a charity shop in the UK. I asked her if they had a scrap bin of ‘unwearables’. She told me to come and hunt. Luckily, I was in the UK recently so we met up and searched. I came away empty handed. There was nothing in the scrap bin.
So then I checked online, surely there was something in Australia. Nope, another blank. If I want scrap pieces of jeans I have to spend a fortune on postage from the US. I had no choice, time poor as always, I bite the bullet and found the most unattractive pair of jeans I could find in my local charity store. I put it down to saving someone from a fashion crime. It was the best I could do.
I decided to use only 1 pair of jeans and pre-loved pieces. I was gifted the pre-loved pieces by Emily. She gave me one jean leg offcut in light blue stonewash with a random square of fabric missing and two denim pockets from a early Rushcutter dress sample.
The final decision of what to make was easy. Make something that I would wear A LOT. Jeans are an everyday item. It had to be very wearable, something that I COULD wear as much as jeans. So there you have it, one word: SWEATSHIRT.
A sweatshirt is not normally made from heavy woven cotton but I did spy some inspiration on my Pinterest page and my idea came together from there.
The sleeves are always the main issue when refashioning. You need so much more fabric than you think, so I had to be savvy. I decided to hack up a previous pattern into bite size pieces. I used the pattern from my previous make, A synthetic dream. It’s a raglan sleeve dress hacked into a top from Japanese pattern book, Stylish Party Dresses. It’s a simple pattern which is what I needed. It’s also slimmer than the inspiration above, I needed to reduce the volume. If you panel it out, you will be able to make more use of the strange shapes of fabric that you have.
My thinking was to deconstruct the sleeve by adding an underarm piece and a shoulder panel. Then, add side panels to the front and back. I had seen this fabulous Dries Van Noten dress which had given me the idea. Obviously my version is way less complex.
The centre panel of the sleeves are made from the original jeans. You can see I removed the back pocket, I just have the shadow left. I incorporated the side seam with the lovely bar tack. This sits about elbow level. The side panels are from the Rushcutter pockets sliced together. The sleeves are identical.
I overlocked all the seams, pressed them like crazy and then top stitched them all down. The piece sits much flatter for it.
My main concern was getting the front/back side panel and the sleeve panels to sit at perfect right angles. Every seam matched except one. I couldn’t leave it, it just had to be right so I fixed it up and now it matches. You can see the before and after shots above.
The front and back centre panels are cut by opening up the inner leg seam and flattening it out. I didn’t insert that centre front seam, that’s the original side seam of the jeans.
Final step was adding the neckband, cuffs and waistband. I used some heavy duty ribbing from Neotrims on Ebay. It was a ribbing I had originally bought to make a jacket many moons ago. It had been cut, so I had to do a patch-up job to make it fit the sweatshirt. The ribbing gives it a touch of 70’s ‘American High School’, which I am not unhappy about!
So here it is in it’s full glory.
Successful refashion? I think so, yes!
Did it meet my expectations? Yes, it exceeded them infact.
Last week I was in the UK. A flying visit for my friend’s wedding. An amazing wedding with lots of old school friends, some of which I haven’t seen since I was yawning my way through A-level geography.
I always like to make myself a little something for my trips (apart from the obvious wedding attire that is!) so I decided on a top. I wanted something I could wear with jeans and that wouldn’t crease. I had the perfect fabric!
I had recently stumbled into Tessuti and raided the remnants table. I came out with a marvellous 1m piece of monochrome nylon mesh. Lets just say creasing would not be an issue. It’s a synthetic dream!
Surprisingly enough I reached for my Japanese pattern book collection, choosing the Stylish Party Dresses book.
I decided to hack this dress pattern, the raglan sleeve dress, into a top. Of course, I wanted to add a little interest and make the shoulder panels again. I know, I know, I do this all the time, but I just love it!!
I made a minor tweak to the pattern by lowering the neckline a little, this meant I could dispense with the closure at the back. I cropped the top quite short. It’s shorter than I would normally wear but I think it works well with this style.
The shoulder panels are made from the reverse of the fabric.
It was a quick sew and a surprisingly easy fabric to work with. It does have lots of ‘bounce’ so pressing wasn’t all that effective and I didn’t persevere as I was scared it might melt.
I did spend a little extra time in the finishing. I hand stitched the binding on the inside so there are no visible hems, cuffs or neckline stitching. It worked a treat.
I have worn it A LOT, it was perfect for the UK climate too as we had surprisingly good weather. It also took me back to the joys of 80’s synthetic clothing. Thank god there wasn’t a naked flame in sight!