Friday, May 1, 2015

Me Made May pledge and another zippy top

Hi, long time no see :-(. I really do enjoy maintaining my blog - now if only I could get all of those blog posts that I compose in my head out and into this format without any further effort that would be great! I'd be almost a daily blogger, ha ha!!

Anyway... I have been looking forward to Me Made May this year, and thinking that I could probably allllmost do a full me-made pledge, that is all me-made except for underwear and shoes, buuut... that would have meant taking a deep breath and trying my first pair of jeans - which is still on the cards but hasn't happened quite yet. So...

I, Jo, sign up for Me Made May 2015 with the goal of wearing at least one item of Me-Made 5 days a week and 2 days a week wearing all Me-Made (excluding underwear and shoes). Repeats are allowed, and I must add at least one pair of Me-Made trousers to my wardrobe over the month.

What I love about MMM is that it helps me identify gaps in my me-made wardrobe and encourages me to wear what I have.

And as an aside, here's a pic of one of my many un-blogged garments - another simple Zippy Top.

Are you doing MMM? Any new projects on the cards? Do you make jeans? Do tell!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pattern mania, the Lou box top & following the designer's advice

Don't you love discovering a new pattern?! It can be such an exciting process and generally goes like this for me...  stumble upon a new pattern (via Instagram, Pinterest or blog), fall a bit (or a lot!) in love with it, research it, find some examples that I love, daydream about making it, (deep breath) buy it, and finally make it. Only then can I stop thinking about it! Phew, what a process... is it like that for you too?

The first time the Lou Box Top by SewDIY came on my radar was with this version, and the process of getting the pattern ended up being a test of my patience as this was a pattern tester's version, the pattern had not yet been released! So of course all I could do was stalk her Instragram account waiting for the release ;-)

When I finally got my hands on the pattern I tried it in a voile (in anticipation for the dark chambray I had in mind for the next) and... it looked totally wrong. Basically I was guilty of not following the designers' direction on fabric and had chosen something without enough drape - it was waaaay too boxy. So I cut that one down to something different, which I'll show you next time, and went back to my stash...

I chose a knit next and this worked really well. You can see from the above pic that the shape is indeed boxy. I'd try this in a rayon or maybe a silk but otherwise I think I'll stick to knits for this. I have a beautiful piece of dark grey tissue weight knit in my stash which I think will look fantastic. I used a solid cream coloured back (an upcycled piece of an old t-shirt sheet that had worn out) to give the eye a rest from the crazy print.

This is a really simple pattern, and would be great for beginners. I love how several different lengths, hemlines and necklines are included, and thought this was very innovative, especially as it's her first pattern release. I did already have a few simple top patterns in my stash but each is a little different, and as I proved with my fabric stuff-up, each has it's own merits and requirements!

The fabric, by the way, was a scrap from Spotlight. As it was a small piece they just charged me a few dollars, which proves that they don't always need to give crappy service!! As an interesting aside, I've washed this maybe 5 times and realised the other day that I don't have an orange t-shirt anymore - it's faded right back to a pink! Oh well, I'll enjoy it it as it is!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Pattern favourites: Melly sews high low top and Black Spinel trousers

When I was in Melbourne last year I picked up a couple of metres of a light weight plaid cotton from Rathdowne Fabrics. It's been staring at me from the stash all summer, and though I'd envisioned making a Grainline Archer with it I haven't tried that pattern yet (though hope I get the courage to soon!) and I really wanted to use it now! I wanted to use it on a pattern I knew would work, was simple, quick and pretty fail-safe, so I chose the Melly Sews high low top. The one I made this time last year has had heaps of wear.

If you don't know this pattern, it's a free one but only available in one size (Melissa's, and as it turns out, mine too - I'm about an Australian size 10/12). There are set in sleeves, bust darts and a high low hem. As with the last one, the fit is good for me so it didn't need adjusting, the only thing I did differently again was to add elastic to the sleeve cuffs as I feel it creates a nicer silhouette on me. For this I just turned a small hem up twice and left a gap where I threaded thin elastic. Also I smoothed out the hem curve a little so it created a hemline that was easier to hem by turning up twice and sewing down. Though I kind of wish I'd used bias binding here too as well as the neckline as it makes such a nice finish and adds a little weight.

I'm pretty happy with my top and think the balance of the style with the busy plaid works well.

I thought I'd also mention my trousers here which I made ages ago but I haven't blogged. They are Black Spinel Pants from the Japanese brand Tamanegi-kobo. This is my third pair and this pattern is definitely another favourite of mine. The first pair I made 3 years ago and have worn out, the second were a merino blend khaki pair which I wore to death last winter, but these are my favourites of the three: so comfortable, versatile and just great to wear.

I love the design description on the Tamanegi-kobo website:
Super skinny leggings using stretch woven fabric inspired from knit leggings. Biker pants like cutting and engineered with three dimensional design including articulated knees. Waistband is elasticated and easy construction. Front width is narrower and pocket placement is lower, which will have the effect of looking skinny. Even coordinate with simple Tee shirt will still make you look stylish. Topstitch is the key point. Go crazy with thicker thread and color!

Apologies for the butt shot but I wanted to show you the detail of pockets, yoke and top stitching (over exposed pic so that hopefully you can make it out).

These details make the trousers look almost like jeans, or at least less like leggings, so I feel I can wear them with quite a few different tops. I'm not a huge leggings wearer, and when I do wear them I always like my tops to cover my bottom & crotch, but these are that bit more substantial. Plus they are made in a shark skin type fabric which is about a medium weight.

I have changed a couple of things along my journey with this pattern: I lowered the waist (I prefer waistbands to sit on my hips), narrowed the leg a little and to this pair I drafted some front pockets to add to the detail but also to make them infinitely more practical. I'm sure no. 4 will occur, I love this pattern so much :-)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Summer sewing: Emma & Diana

Hi! Despite my lack of blog posts - January was the first month I didn't post in the almost 5 years I've been blogging :-(  I have been having fun sewing as usual, just not taking pics and writing!

So here are two things I've made over summer that I'm enjoying wearing... Emma pants and Diana cami from Spit Up and Stilettos (formerly Sewloft). First the pants...

This is the first time I've made pants with a fly/zip opening, though I've been wanting to for ages. I've tired all sorts of pull on trousers and also fly front shorts, but not actual trousers, so I'm excited that I've tackled it, and I'm pretty pleased with the results.

What attracted me to this pattern was the shape of the trousers: slim fit, side slash pockets, lowish waist and cropped leg. I  found the instructions easy to follow and the techniques quite sophisticated. For example I hadn't used this particular method for pocket construction but loved it and found it very professional looking and well finished.

I used a light weight cotton with some stretch from Remnant Warehouse. It's a neutral grey colour and light weight enough to be worn in summer when I'm feeling like pants over a skirt or dress (shorts for me are relegated to home or beach wear). The fit is not absolutely perfect (the crotch could do with some slight adjustments), but overall they're fine and certainly fill a gap in my wardrobe. I suspect that as I make more trousers I will get more picky about fit (and possibly look back at these and cringe!), but I think that's OK - as sewists we build on our knowledge bit by bit and improve with time and practice.

Next time I would try a heavier weight fabric, as I think it would sit better, adjust that crotch slightly and also lengthen the legs a bit as I had to turn the tiniest of hems so that they wouldn't end up shorter than I wanted for my average height (I'm 5'6" or 168cm).

When I downloaded the Emma pattern I also downloaded the Diana cami and thought it might look nice together so tried it. I used a scrap of fabric thinking that it might be a wearable musline to wear to bed with pyjama shorts, but I like it so much that it's gone to the ordinary wardrobe :-) The construction is just 2 pieces, front and back, no bust darts or shaping, the neckline and armholes are bound with self bias binding and the straps are thin spaghetti straps from the same fabric.

I love the racer style back and also the boxy fit. It would obviously look different in differently draping fabrics, and I think would look fabulous extended to a dress. On an underwear note, I think this pattern deserves a strapless bra, if you can bear it, to show off the lovely back without distraction.

* Having said all that and stated how much I like both of these pieces, I struggled to decide whether to publish this blog post, as I learnt just yesterday of the copyright dispute issue happening around this pattern company (I don't think these designs in particular but am not sure). I don't know much at all about it but it always saddens me to hear of copyright issues. I would love to think that someone would not knowingly take the design/s of another and call them their own to profit, but who knows really what happens. All I'll say is that I hope the issue is sorted out as this sewing community in general is so fantastic.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Modified Zippy Top

Hello and happy holidays! I hope you're enjoying the festive season and getting in some sewing/crafting time ;-)

I seem to have a pattern crush on the See Kate Sew Zippy Top at the moment, I've made 3 for myself and 2 for the recent school fete, with plans afoot for 2 more! What I love about it is the simple shape, lovely neckline and sleeves and the scope for adaptation.

This is my latest one, a slighlty more dressy version. I think it's the fabric that really makes this version. Last time I was at mylocal thrift shop a garment caught my eye - I don't tend to shop for clothes at the thrift shop (or anywhere else) these days but I do go looking for fabric to upcycle. The garment was a large kaftan type top from H&M in polyester. My kids say this is my zebra top :-) but I think it looks like a lovely watercolour landscape painting, or something like that. No matter what, I really like it.

I unpicked the existing seams to get maximum area and cut out my pieces as usual. This time I omitted the zip as the fabric is very light weight and delicate and I thought the weight of the zip and facing might pull it out of shape. Also the neckline is wide enough to comfortably go over the head without an opening. I simply turned over the edges of the neckline and armholes twice and sewed a small hem. I wouldn't normally do this as I find it can look messy but in this very sheer fabric and with the busy print it worked fine. I also did my usual length for the hem - I found the crop length too short but the other length too long to be flattering for me so I went in between.

As a decorative element I slightly gathered the shoulder seam and added ties (repurposed from the original top). I really love this type of detail and the extra touch it adds without too much effort.

I really like this version of the pattern. I've worn it with these grey/black jeans but I can also picture it with my favourite black stretch satin cigarette pants for a more dressy evening.

Do you have a pattern crush at the moment? Do tell!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Summer sewing : : jersey maxi skirt

I've been wanting a maxi skirt or two to add to my summer wardrobe, for those days when you know, you don't feel like having to be careful when you bend over, or maybe your legs need attention (or 'deforesting' as a friend used to say :-). I'd been thinking about the Sewaholic Gabriola but knew I would labour over the details of that pattern... what I wanted was a quick and easy project.

Trawling through my knits stash I found a quite fluid and lovely navy blue jersey-type fabric. I'm not sure where I got it, possibly my Melbourne trip with Deb earlier in the year. The GJs $2p/m and $4p/m tables were great for fabric to experiment on. Then I found a tutorial online to use as a base and kind of winged it from there (I can't seem to find the tutorial again, sorry, but there are plenty if you Google 'jersey maxi skirt tutorial').

The shape is essentially just an exaggerated A line sewn onto a yoga-style waistband. No closures or fussing, taking advantage of the stretch and drape of the fabric.

Yoga style waistbands really appeal to me as they're so comfy and also add a bit of reassuring stability to delicate or flowy fabrics. To further the safety aspect I added a row of wide elastic into the inner waistband (under the yoga band as you can sort of see below) - when my kids were smaller I had several alarming incidents with clothes where I almost had a loose skirt pulled down, loose top pulled up etc and it has left me not wanting to take any chances!!

And just a note about styling my skirt... I  knew the loose shape would suit a fitted or slimline top, but nothing I tried looked right. I tried the Wiksten tank above, untucked as I always do, but that wasn't structured enough - then a funny thing happened where a bit of the hem got caught in the skirt waist and I had an 'ah ha' moment - tucked looked sooo much better, even though I never wear things tucked (well I do now :-). I love lessons like this where you are forced to deviate from what you normally do and go out of your comfort zone. I think this old dog has learnt a new trick ;-)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Tween sewing

Several years ago I made my eldest girl a Sophie Tunic from Sisboom as a sun/beach cover-up. She's loved it and worn it to death but for a while now it's been way too small and she's been asking for an update. So when we were in a fabric store together recently I asked her to pick out a new fabric. She chose this lovely Cloud 9 printed cotton (proud mother moment ;-)

I think this is a great style for kids, not too cutesy or fussy and easy to wear. The fabric was lovely to work with and the top came together well and easily. If anything I find the Sisboom patterns a bit over-explained but then I guess that makes sure newbie sewers are covered.

The only change I made was to add sleeve tabs.  The tab pattern is from my Make it Perfect Shearwater Kaftan pattern, which is like a grown-up version of the Sophie tunic. Make it Perfect now also have a little girl 'mini' version of the Shearwater, but as I already had the Sisboom pattern I thought I'd better save my pennies and re-use it. Don't you love kids patterns with a large range of sizes!

I also made her some new shorts, which happen to go reasonably well with the shirt. The pattern is Dana from Madeit's Shorts pattern, which is a great basic, especially for someone with a few kids to clothe - the sizing goes from 12 months to 10 years and Dana includes lots of tutorials for variations on her website/ It's one of those patterns where I wondered whether I should draft them myself, but really, for $8 you get all of those sizes already drafted, and who doesn't like to support the lovely indie designers. This is the 4th pair of shorts I've made from this pattern and I'm sure there will be many more.

For these I used a piece of black linen with some stretch my my stash, redesigned the front to add sewn in pockets (easy to do if you've sewn pockets before) and added 2 large decorative buttons.

She likes the whole outfit so we're both happy :-)
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