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!

 

 

Margie’s kimono

A couple of months ago I received an email from my friend’s mum, Margie.  She said, and I quote,

“I have been having a clean up at home (mainly to save the kids if I die!) I have quite a lot of good fabric, no rubbish (Liberty etc) and if you could use it I would be delighted to give it to you.”

You can imagine my response (apart from snorting with laughter at her text!)  AHHHH, yes I would love it!  I have to show just a few pieces here.  Some really gorgeous fabric, and this is only some of it.

Once I had got over the shock of such a wonderful and generous gift, I started to think of a way to thank her.  I can say, Margie expected nothing from this but I really wanted to give her something so she would totally get my thrill at receiving such a stash.

I know Margie loves a bit of Japanese design, she has a very unique style herself and wears really beautiful clothes.  We had both done an amazing Shibori workshop and we were just about to embark on a Slow Stitching workshop so this was a good jumping off point.

I settled on a kimono.

I found a lovely tencel in Spotlight which was perfect for the project, it had a hint of Shibori about it with it’s random pattern and colour.  I used the pattern I had drafted for myself recently, see my punk kimono. We are similar in size so I knew it would fit.

Of course, I had to line it with some Liberty, it seemed fitting and the darker tones of the Liberty fabric worked really well with the tencel.

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I added pockets too, who doesn’t love a pocket?
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I love the randomness of the fabric here
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The lining makes it look like a 1920’s smoking jacket
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The most gorgeous pattern, I love it.

I had to try it on, of course!  I am really pleased with the result.  It’s a much lighter fabric than my denim version.  It sits a lot better for it.

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I gave it to Margie yesterday at her granddaughters birthday party (of which I was running one of my sewing parties).  Over a glass of champers I handed it over, a little nervous to be honest. She told me that it was so unexpected and that it was very special to her because of the effort and thought that I had put into it (lump in throat).  Ah, that makes it worth every stitch, don’t you think?

 

 

 

 

 

Punk it up!

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It’s 40 years since the infamous Sex Pistols gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester. It is often described as one of the most influencial gigs in history.  I love a bit of punk, really, who doesn’t?  Although I was only 2 when this gig happened, the music of the Sex Pistols had an affect on me some years later as a 15 year old looking to rebel.  My rebellion wasn’t too bad, it mainly involved learning all the words to “Never mind the Bollocks” and getting my nose pierced!

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I have been listening to some really cool programmes on BBC radio, “New Rose and 40 years of the Damned” and my favourite so far, “Punk, the Pistols and the Provinces.” This made me really laugh, especially as it referenced one of the first gigs the Pistols played in Northallerton, Yorkshire and a Christmas Day gig they played in Huddersfield. Definitely worth a listen.

So while rumours circulate that HRH is honouring the “Year of Punk” (can’t be true?), I thought I would honour it in my own special way with reference to the Queen of Punk herself, Dame Vivienne Westwood.

As winter has just arrived here in Sydney, I needed a jacket, so I made a kimono!  What it lacks in structure, it makes up for in sleeves, fullness and (a hint of) tartan! I love Dame Viv’s use of tartan in everything she designs.  For me it just has to be red.  Look at these glorious pieces.

I decided to copy an existing kimono that I love and that fits. So, no pattern for me, I am such a rebel!  It is a vintage find and it has such beautiful sleeve details.  What I wanted was to achieve a more practical wearable, every day version.

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I find denim to be the fabric of choice at the moment.  I found this royal blue denim on sale at Spotlight which is always a thrill.  The tartan lining was gifted to me.  And what a gift it is!  Such beautiful lightweight red cotton tartan.  A big thank you to you, Margi x

It is a fairly simple construction but I made a couple of tweeks.  It has no shoulder seams, so I added them, it made more sense to me as a pattern.  It also had a centre back seam which I didn’t need as it had no shaping.  I managed to draw it up.  I then asked my studio buddy to check it (that’s Emily of In the Folds).  She made a couple of adjustments, but nothing major so I wasn’t far off track.

I was very surprised at how well it came together.  Especially as I had to just ‘best guess’ on construction. I made a last minute decision to add some lined pockets.  A good decision I think.  I inserted them between the side seam and the collar extension (is that what you call it??)  I made the basic denim kimono and then made the tartan lining.

The major struggle for me was inserting the lining.  As the jacket has these sleeve vents, it really confused me.  After a couple of goes and failing miserably, I admitted defeat and asked the guru (Emily ) to help.  Of course she just pinned it all together and it worked!

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I found my best punk inspired boots and jeans for this shoot!

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There is plenty of volume in these sleeves, I feel like I have shopping bags under my arm pits.

 

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I think the hem could be a little longer.  You can also see the neckline isn’t fitting very tightly.
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Hello tartan lining, how I love thee!
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You can see the sleeve vents in more detail here, I like the hint of tartan you can see.  I added some bar tacks to keep the lining in place.
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Super pleased with the pockets, the placement and the lining.

I really wanted a grungy shoot and I think with the roadcone I fashioned into a tripod and the garage door in it’s full ‘rundown’ glory, I think it works.

There are a couple of issues with this make.  Firstly I think it could do with being about 5cm longer on the hem.  Also, I should have tapered the collar seam at the back so it fits a little flatter.  Other than that I am super pleased with it.  So pleased infact that I have worn it every day and I am yet to finish it. I still need to sew the hole in the lining and tack the lining in to the seam allowance in certain spots.  Question is, will I ever do this?  It would be more punk to say, “NO, F*** IT!”  But of course I won’t, there is nothing to rebel against these days!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love a pocket!

I love a pocket, especially a BIG pocket.  A pocket that can carry my phone, my purse and a collection of Superhero Lego Minifigures.

I have spotted a couple of corking ‘pocket’ dress patterns of late and I just made a lovely dress with giant pockets,  so I thought an ‘ode to the pocket’ was order of the day. As we are on the subject, I thought I would interview my friend and fellow pocket lover, Emily Hundt from In the Folds.  Her Rushcutter really is a dress with some major pocket work.

What inspired you to incorporate BIG pockets into your Rushcutter?

I incorporated big pockets into the Rushcutter, because I just love pockets. I love the look of them, but more so I love how handy they are. I love them for stashing bits and pieces when I am too lazy to carry a handbag (which is often), but most of all, I just love having pockets to put my hands in. Especially when I’m nervous! What I like about the style of the pockets on the Rushcutter, is that you can easily leave out the pockets if pockets aren’t your bag (don’t worry. I’ll try not to judge you) or you can swap the pockets on View A for the pockets on View B (hidden in-seam pockets), so there is lots of room to play, so that you get your ideal pocket preference. Pocket placement is always an element of my design process, as I want them to be really functional (you will never see a fake pocket on one of my patterns!)

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Emily in her Rushcutter with View A pockets
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Rushcutter View B inseam pockets (credit: Corey from Domestic 360)
What are your favourite type of pockets to make?
That’s a good question. And one I’m not sure how to answer! As I like sewing all kinds of pockets (am I starting to sound like a crazy pocket lady?). I guess one of my favourites is sewing patch pockets on shirts, when I am working with a print. It isn’t too hard to match the print, but I always feel very proud when I get it just right. And when it’s done, it’s right there on your chest (or in this case, my partner’s) for everyone to admire! 
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Some cracking pattern matching on patch pockets – nice work Emily!

Do you have a recent ‘me made’ piece with rad pockets?

To be honest, there has been very little selfish sewing this year (unfortunately), apart from Rushcutter samples. Although, I am currently working on a pattern for a pair of trousers I am planning to release sometime in the new year. And they have pockets of pretty epic proportions. I haven’t yet sampled them in anything apart from calico, so I’m not sure if they qualify as a make yet though?! 

Is there another indie pattern that you love (on your to do list?) that has awesome pockets?

As I said, I don’t really have time for much selfish sewing (although it is on the new years resolutions list for 2016) and when I do have a chance to sew I tend to draft my own patterns. But I do keep track of all the indie releases, and one that comes to mind is the Louisa dress by Compagnie MIt has two different pocket options (kangaroo or asymmetrical) which is what caught my eye. 

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The girls version of the Louisa dress (made by Sewing with Kate) – the adults version is now online!

And finally, what’s in your pocket right now?

In my pocket right now I have my phone (so that I can listen to podcasts and have the freedom to run around my studio like a headless chook, as it’s somehow December) and my house key. Oh, and a crumpled up receipt. 

Excitingly, Emily and I will be running some Rushcutter dress sew-alongs in the new year.  If you are interested and would like more information and just drop me a line through my contact page.

To continue with my pocket theme I thought I would share a recent make. I spotted this pattern on the Sew Unravelled blog, twice!  I am a big fan of Jillian (I think I have mentioned this a few times).  I really liked the two dresses, sunshine on a rainy day and the pineapple dress of happiness.  Don’t you just love the names!

The pattern is from the Japanese pattern book, Stylish Dress Book: Clothing for Everyday Wear by Yoshiko Tsukiori. As luck would have it, I stumbled across it in my library, the sewing gods were smiling down, I just HAD to make it.

You don’t really get the sense of BIG pocket-ness from the pattern.  It was only when I saw Jillian’s versions that I was convinced to give them a go.  It was a fairly straight forward make.  I graded a small top to a medium bottom as the size ran quite big.  I think in hindsight I really could have made a straight small.  I also opened up the armholes on the front to allow for my hunchback!  I did make a rather catastrophic error when drafting the pattern which meant I had to redraw and recut the front bottom panel which is the reason why there is no pattern matching (that’s my excuse anyway!)

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Could those pockets be any bigger?
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80’s vibe going on here!

It is much more flattering that I expected.  I thought the oversized pocket would make me look rather large in the hip area, but I don’t think so.  The fabric is a stiff cotton with no drape so it sits quite well and hold the shape. I should also say that the fabric is totally AWESOME.  A charity shop find.  I think it is someones home screen printed experiment.  Clearly they were not in love with it. Your loss is my massive gain!  Not bad for $2.  Yes, that’s a total of $2 to make this dress!  You have got to be happy with that.

Big shout out for pocket love!