Friday, March 27, 2015

Jasper Sweater Dress Review (Paprika Patterns)

You can find my review of the Jasper Sweater Dress from Paprika Patterns at the Curvy Sewing Collective blog.  There is also a giveaway to win a copy of the pattern.

You can find my full review here:  http://curvysewingcollective.com/jasper-sweater-review-and-giveaway/ and a sneak peak of my version below:


Monday, March 23, 2015

Hey June Evergreen Jacket (Pattern Test)

I can't believe I didn't post this sooner - it's been on the bloggy backlog for too long!  I put my hand up to test Hey June Handmade's Evergreen Jacket back in February.

This was perfect timing for me as my old winter coat is looking very shabby.  I originally wanted to make a copy of it, but since moving to warmer climes that probably isn't a good idea as it wouldn't get much wear.  My version of the Evergreen Jacket is a great lighter weight option instead:



The Evergreen is an asymmetrical "biker" jacket with ribbed cuffs and waistband.  I had to put "biker" in air quotes, because it seemed odd any other way, given the semi-floral print I used :)

The pattern is designed for stretch fabrics and can be made in anything from sweatshirt fleece to a woven (assuming you are careful about sizing appropriately).  I really want to make another in a ponte, though I feel like even that might be too warm for Sydney...



I used a cotton sateen (from Spotlight again!) which had a fairly minimal stretch.  I think the recommendation was no less than 10%, though the advice was there to size up and go for a woven if that was your preference.  As my fabric did have some stretch I got away with sticking to size, though I wouldn't have been able to if I wanted to wear big jumpers underneath or similar.

I made this a while ago but don't recall anything confusing or off in the instructions or construction. I did muck up and miss the step where you interface the collar, so mine is a little floppy but otherwise I like this jacket!  It's not lined, though that probably suits me as I wanted to keep it light.  I am planning to go back and bind the seams inside so it looks pretty, given I think I might get some wear out of this one.

The only thing I would change if I made this again would be to add a little to the length, but as I am nearly 6 foot this would be a me-thing and not a comment on the pattern itself.  The size range of the pattern wasn't remarkable (I was near the top end) which is about standard for most.

I leave you with a rather disturbing picture in which I look like either I know all your secrets, or I am about to calmly murder you.  You decide which...


Nice jacket though :)


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Named Alexandria Peg Trousers (Shorts) - Pattern Test

It's been a while since I got to blog much of what I have been making - a few pattern tests recently and a lot of other life going on!

When Named (Uber-cool Finnish pattern company) asked for testers for their SS15 pattern range Ticket, I jumped at the chance (I literally jumped up and down when they sent my pattern to test!).  In particular, I was excited to see they included 5 plus size patterns in their range (actually 6, as one is a two-in-one).

I tested the shorts version of the Alexandria Peg Trousers and Shorts:

http://www.namedclothing.com/product/alexandria-track-shorts/?lang=en

I didn't have many issues with the pattern - it was mostly very straightforward and a pretty quick make.  The pattern is a "three scissors", which means average difficulty - I would say that was accurate.  I had some trouble the first time I sewed the facing onto the edge - the advice in the pattern to handstitch at the top of the vent is a good suggestion!  Once I did that it fitted very well and lay nicely.

I actually made three versions of these shorts (and am looking forward to cooler weather so I can make the trousers!).  The first didn't really work - I used a very lightweight woven and I managed to stretch out the curve of the hem in a most upsetting way.  My bad :(

My second version however, are one of my favourite things I have ever made:



I love them so very much.  The fabric is a very drapey interlock (from Spotlight) which makes them feel more dressy as they are slinky :)  I also like the "sporty" hem, though this version feels smart enough to me that I have worn them out for dinner with heels and felt good.

I look a bit startled in this picture...
I should note that these might be a slightly more relaxed fit on me than if your measurements are true to the sizing - I am between sizes so just cut the larger and was happy with the amount of ease, particularly in the drapey fabric.

My other note would be that these are SHORT!  For me anyway...I am nearly 6 foot tall, so I added some to the length (I think about 1.5 inches from memory).  The curve of the hem means they are still pretty short at the sides.



I then made another version because I live in Sydney and it was summer, so shorts are definitely a good thing.  This pair was out of the Birch Organic Jersey ("Flight").

Annoyingly my hands in pockets thing here is actually pulling them up heaps so they look a bit dodge...

I love this pair for more for daytime, though I wish I had used a jersey which was not light on the underside, as you do see a lot of the back of the fabric, given the side vents.



Here I am again looking pleased with myself :)

I guess my only other comment would be on the rest of the collection itself.  I really love several items in the collection, and I am really pleased to see the company including some plus sized patterns in their range for the first time.  I hope they continue to expand that range!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes - Review for Curvy Sewing Collective

In a fit of summer-weather inspired Sunday sewing, I recently decided to buy and alter the Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes pattern.

I had previously stayed away from this pattern as I when I lived in Tassie I didn't think I would get enough wear out of them (it can be on the chilly side down there!).  Now I live in Sydney and I have to stop myself wearing them every day...I must make more :)

Anyway, head over to the Curvy Sewing Collective to see my review, plus all the awesome other reviews and tips!  There aren't many of us who don't have to adjust patterns in some way, so it's a great set of resources.

I will leave you with the picture I didn't include in my review for someone else's site (I was pretending to be grown-up!).  Me proving they really are culottes:


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Purse Palooza 2014 Guest Post - Scallop of the Sea Clutch (Katie Canavan)

This post was originally part of Purse Palooza 2014 over at Sew Sweetness.  I wanted to repost it here for my own records to remind myself of what I liked and didn't like in this pattern!

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I was very excited when Sara asked me to be part of this year's (2014) Purse Palooza and instantly knew I wanted to make the Scallop of the Sea Clutch by Katie Canavan (available from Holla Knits here).

This clutch is definitely a statement piece.   It's oversized (compared to most clutches) and the outside is made of knitted scallop shapes.  Yep, I knitted a bag!  It felt good to both knit and sew a bag - catching three of my favourite pastimes all in one!  The bag is stranded colourwork and is knit in the round to form a big tube.  The tube is blocked, lined and interfaced, seamed and then folded over to make the big envelope clutch shape.

Here is the version which inspired me to make this pattern:

image from Holla Knits website
I mean seriously.  How could I not make this bag?  It probably didn't hurt that she is wearing a totally kick ass outfit too...

Aaaanyway.  Here is my version:



The bag is fully lined, with a pocket inside and a zip closure.  As the pattern itself mentions, it's large enough to hold something like an iPad as well as a wallet or other more usual clutch contents.  The yarn requirements seemed sensible - I had some left of each ball but not so much that I was annoyed by the waste :)  The pattern is clear and well written, with sufficient tips and hints about the construction of the lining that I think a non-sewing knitter-type could probably make this without issue.

It would also be easy to make this smaller or larger, depending on the intended use.  A quick check on Ravelry for other projects using this pattern proved that to me - the VERY gorgeous grey, black and lime green version you can see there by doroti has been modded to the right size to hold an e-reader.  You would just need to make sure to scale down the lining pieces, pocket inside and zip accordingly.

Me, being all happy with my bag on a very hot Sydney day...

My version was made from Mila Mia yarn purchased from The Stash Cupboard in Hobart.  Rather than a blend like the pattern recommendation, the yarn I used is 100% Merino.  My suspicion would be that it makes very little difference though perhaps mine might wear a little less well as Merino is softer?  I also added the magical Soft and Stable in place of the interfacing.  If there is one thing making bags from Sara's patterns has taught me, it's how much I regret it when I don't use Soft and Stable!  As the knit textile is so floppy and pliable it seemed like a good addition to help add structure.

My only complaints about this pattern relate to my poor execution of it.  The picture below is a close-up on the surface of the bag, which you can see has little divet-type imperfections on the surface where the knit stitches aren't lying super flat and lovely like in the sample pictures.  I am almost 100% sure this is because my stranded colourwork is not "strandy" enough :(  apparently the looser the better for the loops which are passed along the back of the work, which I didn't really understand until after the knitting was complete. I don't mind it so much and don't think it's so noticeable to others, but of course I see it every time!  If you decide to make this - it's probably worth practicing the technique to ensure it turns out smooth and even.

My poor colourwork skills on full display...

My only other complaint with my version is that I don't like the yellow in it.  You can see I didn't repeat the yellow stripe and instead changed to another lighter blue - I wish I had done that from the beginning but I didn't realise how "primary" it looked until I had gone too far to want to lose all the work I had done.



Overall I would definitely recommend this pattern for something a bit different.  It would be especially good for taking an iPad, wallet, keys and phone to a meeting (I have already done so at work!) and your colour choices could change this from a bold statement piece to something more subtle (I would like to make one in two shades of grey!).

Thanks to Sara for inviting me to take part and Happy Palooza to you all!



Monday, January 26, 2015

I made SOCKS!

I probably shouldn't be all boasty about these - as I first cast them on sometime in 2012 - but I can't help but be proud of myself!

Presenting my very first pair of me-made socks (ravelled here):


As part of my self-imposed "really must finish some stuff" mission, I picked these up again just as we headed into our (rather toasty) first summer in Sydney and finished them as summer hit it's height.  It was 35 degrees here yesterday, so these babies are not getting a lot of wear yet!

I used the Purl Soho perfect fit socks pattern and some Sausalito (merino and nylon) yarn in Firebird from The Stash Cupboard in Hobart.


I have to say I really love this pattern.  They are right that they are perfect fit - something which always worries me as I have size 11 (Euro 42) feet.  Part of the perfect-ness of the fit is that you knit the foot part until it's 2 inches less than you want them to be in length, and then knit the toe, guaranteeing they will be long enough.  If you were knitting them for a gift there is a recommended length per shoe size also.  You could also knit more of the leg portion to make boot socks I think.

All up the pattern was easy to follow, even when doing the more complicated bits and when (clearly) stopping for long periods of time and then returning to the project!  I did try quite hard to match the striping but did better at that on the leg part than on the feet.  I am not sure this yarn would have that much predictability anyway.

So I am not sure if I caught the sock bug.  People say knitting sock is addictive but for me it was somewhat of a slog, though the second sock took about a month where the first one took several years (!).  I think I will try another pattern which uses chunkier yarn (because am totes lazy!) or perhaps one where you knit both socks at once on a circular needle.  The most disheartening moment was finally finishing sock 1 and realising I had to start again :)

All up am very happy with them - I just need some winter so I can actually wear them!!!


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Thread Theory Camas Blouse

Edited to add:  this pattern is actually on sale at the moment ($7.50 instead of $11) - not sure how long for but I would go grab it now!

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A few weeks ago, Thread Theory (of awesome menswear pattern fame) introduced their first pattern for women:


[As an aside, I am seriously hoping that the totally rad pants the model is wearing in this shoot are womenswear pattern number 2 from Thread Theory!  That's a truck sized hint...]

The Camas Blouse is a comfortable yet super chic button up (or faux button up!) which is designed for knit fabrics.  The lovely people at Thread Theory sent me a copy to try out and review.

Given it's the season of partying and sparkling, I went for a dark blue version with some contrast sequin areas.



Sorry for the darkness of these pictures - Nick obviously wasn't on his game on the day we took these!

I also went sleeveless as it's full on summer here in Australia.  It can be difficult to feel dressed up when it's always so hot so something like this is perfect - nice and drapey and cool and comfortable, but still a bit elegant :)  I stay stitched the sleeves, adjusted the armhole a little and then just turned under and stitched.  It worked well, though next time I think I will bind the armhole for a cleaner finish which will match the neckline / placket too.

Here is a less flattering picture but which lets you see the actual colour and details a bit better.  I went for the buttonless version, and also added a band around the hem (mainly because I got overexcited and forgot to lengthen it before I cut it out...oops!).  I quite like how it looks though:



And the back, in all its sequinned glory.  I love the femininity of the back gathers - the top drapes beautifully and is really flattering



I am not sure whether I like it better tucked in or untucked.  I think for the next one I will make it quite a bit longer and have it untucked...


Its not awfully visible in these pictures but I actually added a band of the sequin down the side seams.  Tbh this was mostly because I didn't do an FBA (will I ever learn??!!) and it was originally a bit squeezy in the chest area.  I will do the FBA next time and the shirt will be more gracefully draped at the front...


All up a lovely shirt and I can see myself making tons of these.  Sleeveless and shorter sleeved for summer in both casual and more dressy fabrics, plus with longer sleeves for work and once we head towards winter.

Another picture, mainly because I liked this one :)



I see another of these in my very near future, so hopefully I will be sharing that soon!

Ciao for now...

p.s. if anyone knows what my hair thinks it's doing in these pictures do let me know...
p.p.s. check out some of the other versions popping up around the bloggy world - I especially like this one