Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Scirocco Dress by Figgy's for Issy

Before we went away for our trip my daughter asked if I could make her a new dress.  She came to the fabric store in Surrey Hills with me, and chose some wildly inappropriate (light and difficult to wash) fabrics, after I steered her away from the Collette Dinnigan silk.

I made the Scirocco Dress from Figgy's, which she chose because of the flouncy tiers and open twist back.

She is pretty happy with it.  We layered the fabrics she chose and included some optional details, like the trim either side of the central pleat.

Pretty neat, if I do say so myself...
She is right on the upper end of the size range for these patterns, so am glad I got to make this for her this year.  The fit is fairly good, though I wouldn't want it to be much smaller.

The twist back is interesting.  We added a contrast fabric to line it with - so there are peaks of pale green at the twist and when she moves.  The construction was fairly straightforward, but if you do want to line with a contrast you will have to plan to do so before you cut your pieces out, as the pattern expects you to line and outer in the same fabric.

She was very pleased with herself and saved it to wear on the special evenings out in Greece - so it's definitely a winner!

Ciao for now!

Sallie Jumpsuit (or Secret Pyjamas)

When Closet Case Patterns released the Sallie Jumpsuit a while ago I bought it straight away.  I don't have a jumpsuit and have never been sure if they would suit my figure, but this one looked flattering and comfortable.  I also love Sallie Oh's blog and her style, which was an influencing factor!

While I love Heather's black, long and wide legged pant version (here), I was staring down the barrel of a trip to Greece in mid-summer, so I modified the pattern to make a shorty version.

I used a black and white print I have had in the stash for ages (result!  stash busting!), with a contrast red version (same print) for the lining and the tie.

To make the shorts from the pants I made two changes - first was to shorten them to the length I wanted (plus hem allowance).  The second was to modify the shape to make them essentially straight leg shorts - a little wider than they would be if they were the top of pants.  I did this by drawing a straight line from the top of the pattern piece on the outer edge, and from where the crotch meets the inseam on the inner edge. It seems to have worked.

I also needed to adjust the top, making it both longer (by really quite a lot) and also wider.  I was a bit stumped by this - I have never done a full bust adjustment (FBA) on a kimono sleeve garment and didn't really know what to do.  A quick google shows a few tutorials out there, but I actually decided just to widen the piece at the seam for a couple of reasons.   I am generally pretty broad across the shoulders and around the ribs, so adding width generally (rather than just focussed at accommodating the chest) seemed like a good idea.

It mostly worked pretty well.  The fit is good and feels comfortable, and in a stretch fabric there is a reasonable margin of error anyway.  There looks to be a bit of pulling at the chest in this picture, but I suspect that's not usually there and might be because I have my hand in my pocket?

Let's just pause for a second there and discuss how much more awesome everything is with pockets. Thanks.

Moving on - what didn't work was my other bodice adjustment, which was to length it.  It didn't work because I didn't trust myself.  The amount I needed to add seemed totally ridiculous, so I decided I must be wrong and lengthed by less.  Seriously - in what world would that be a good idea???!!!

So I ended up having to sew a channel for the elastic which also lengthened.  I thought maybe using the contrast fabric would make this look more deliberate:

I don't really like the result.  It looks messy and isn't especially flattering.  I was pretty gutted.  Then I remembered a belt which seems to work OK:

From the look on my face here my husband was clearly doing something wrong...

It's not brilliant, and tends to need me to adjust the fabric around to stop it bunching too much - that's because the belt is tighter than the elastic would have been so there is excess fabric to distribute around.  But I felt it looked better than the red casing hack...so there it is.

Overall I LOVE this pattern and plan to make another asap.  They are truly #secretpyjamas and I think fairly flattering.  They suit the Sydney weather to a tee!  Here I am out in Rhodes on our trip with my sister wearing it "in the wild"

Ciao for now!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sloan Travel Bag from Sew Sweetness

This is one I made some time ago as a pattern tester, but never blogged as I wasn't sure when it was released.  It's the Sloan Travel Bag from Sew Sweetness.

This is definitely the biggest bag I have ever made!  I used a blue and white kind of weird fabric from the dreaded Spotlight:

The reason I say this fabric is weird is that it is kind of like an ikat, in that it has the opposite colours on the reverse side, but it's actually two fabrics glued together.  I have no idea what that's called (aside from kind of weird).

As usual with Sara's patterns, this is an easy to follow pattern, even for more complicated construction elements.  There is lots of cutting out which always feels like it takes forever (I just want to start sewing dammit!) but lots of cutting it out is how you end up with lots of pockets, so it's totally worth it.

This bag doesn't look so big just sitting there in a picture does it?  Here it is with me for scale:

So - pretty big!  It's actually the perfect two-nights-away size, and has several pockets for additional bits and bobs you might want to keep separate, both inside and outside.

You might not be able to see them that well, because I did a GREAT job of pattern matching - here is a side close-up

Oops - a bit blurred!
There is also a pocket on each side:

Less good pattern matching here :)  These side pockets are supposed to have visible snaps for closures, but I didn't have any and thought they would just disappear into the fabric anyhow.  I used magnetic ones inside the flap instead.

This bag definitely takes up some materials - with lots of interfacing, multiple zips and some bag hardware.  I think it's worth it and the use of heavier weight structural elements like the soft and stable, peltex bottom and bag feet makes this a much more "store bought" result.  You can almost imagine making coordinating travel sets - one of these for on the plane and a portside duffle in the hold?  Sounds like a plan...!

I really love this bag - I did some parallel lines on the zipper recess in the top, which look super cool in the denim.  My only issue is really that it's a weekend away bag, rather than an everyday one - I really like the fabrics so might have to make a more regular-use bag in the same fabrics soon!

Ciao for now!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Book Week Outfit - Darcy from the Magic Ballerina (and I'M BACK!!!)

So I haven't posted SINCE MAY.  As my six year old son would say:  "what the...?"

I did go away to Greece and the UK for a while but tbh, that was only 3.5 weeks of this time! Anyway - no apologies, straight back into it with some catch up posts.

When we got back from our trip, I realised that the dreaded book week was nearly upon us.  I really loathe book week, mostly because I usually don't remember about it until it's upon us, but also because as a parent who can sew I feel a totally ridiculous (and largely self-imposed) pressure to sew something for it!

This time I was fairly organised and this is the result - Darcy from the Magic Ballerina books:

Sorry it's blurred...I didn't realise until now!
I made the dress and we had some fun painting the shoes to be the special red, magic ballerina shoes.

We used fabric paint from Spotlight and then I sewed some red elastic for the "ribbons".  I didn't want to use actual ribbons, as they would probably fall down all the time.  The elastic worked a treat.

The dress was made by tracing a top she already had:

and making some binding from the same fabric to cover the raw edges and make the straps.  This method worked really really well and was ridiculously fast.  The bodice is a nice, stable knit which was super easy to sew.

I then cut a two layer circle skirt (or indeed, two circle skirts of different fabric) to attach to it.  Layer 1 was a slippery pale purple satin stuff (a total nightmare to cut out!) and layer 2 was a shimmery see through crystal organza-type of fabric.  Also a total nightmare to cut out.

It looks like this isn't a proper circle skirt in this picture, but I promise it is!!!

I made the hole in the middle to be more than the circumference of her waist by "a fair bit" (yes, highly technical methodology here!).  The idea is that you need enough width to allow the top to stretch without popping the stitches on the skirt.

I basted the two layers together by machine, then attached the skirts to the bodice via overlocker.  You basically mark the quarter points of the waist and of where you want to attach it on the bodice.  The skirt should be bigger than the top.  Then you stretch the top to match.  Sew on (overlock on, whatever).  The top will return to shape (note - your jersey should have reasonable recovery..) and create the very loose gathers in the skirt.

basting the skirt layers - how awesome does the iridescence of the organza look???
I didn't hem the skirts, but I did trim the inner skirt to be a bit shorter than the outer skirt - which looked nice.  The organza stuff frayed a bit too much over the day, so I am going to have to go back and hem that sometime as she likes the dress and wants to keep it.

And there was the joy of hand sewing sequins on the bodice and in areas of the skirt:

I tried glueing but too many fell off.  I would recommend glueing, then sewing in place if you have time - it's actually a lot quicker if you do the placement up front, then return to secure it.

So that's another book week achieved - I quite liked this one and was pleased to be able to just make something up which looked quite similar to the character.

Ciao for now...

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A dress win! McCalls 6884

I recently did an audit of my patterns (see here) and was disturbed by how many of them were dresses.  The upshot is, I own about 20% dress patterns when I would probably wear them less than 5% of the time.  I also discovered I make more dresses than other things, despite them not ever really making me feel comfortable.

So, of course my most recent finish is a dress (argh!).  This is McCalls 6884 in Robert Kaufman Laguna Knit Jersey and was a kit from Craftsy.

Sorry for the terrible lighting - it was a rush job on a cloudy day before work..Also - what am I looking at??

I have to say I like this dress.  I believe it to be more flattering than it looks here (though perhaps I have made the crossover a little too high, given I am likely to wear a cami underneath anyway).

Overall the dress is pretty comfortable and I like the length of the sleeves.

The pattern was pretty straightforward to make up, though I didn't like the way the wrap at the front was handled.  I came very close to stretching the neckline beyond saving because I kept having to frick about with it.  I also had to take a fair bit (like several inches each side!) off the side seams from the waist down - they were expecting a very different hip and thigh profile to mine for the size!

A quick look at the model in the dress confirms for me that they are expecting this to be quite plunging at the neckline.

Just looking at this and realising I like the length of her sleeves better.  Why didn't I make that?

Am also thinking I wish I had made view C, where the tie doesn't wrap around the body (see below).  Maybe I can work out how to tie it differently so it doesn't wrap around the front...

Not much else to say on this - it was quick to sew and the fabric is really soft and has reasonable recovery for jersey.  I am likely to wear it to work and feel pretty good, though it's not knocking my socks off (the tie gets a bit annoying).  It's pretty exciting to have another dress win in my arsenal, though I really want to stop sewing things I won't wear so much and get on with some pants!!!

I leave you with a delightful picture of me in the dress which should have been an out-take.  Whatever just happened I am seriously underwhelmed...!!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Onyx Shirt from Paprika Patterns (Pattern Test)

I put my hand up to test for Paprika Patterns a while back.  I had a great experience with making the Jasper sweater and it's getting a lot of use now the weather her in Sydney has chilled down a bit.

Their newest pattern is the Onyx Shirt, which is designed for lightweight to medium wovens.  There are a number of variations between sleeves, necklines and cuffs, as you can see from the line drawings below:

I made two versions, both with the scoped neckline shown on view B and both with sleeves.  They both have a hi-lo hem, which is more exaggerated on the crop version than the longer version.  While a crop top isn't usually my thing, I thought I might try this out:

I used a thinish woven of unknown composition acquired from Spotlight some years back.   I think it actually has a small amount of stretch but not much.    I lengthened this top by about 2 inches and think it was 0.5 inches (or maybe a full inch) too much.

Excuse the terrible pressing job on this and the awkward pose - I was trying to show the hi-lo hem...

I actually don't mind the crop version on me, which was a surprise as it wouldn't be my usual comfort-zone!  I am unlikely to wear it without a vest under, but as it's winter here that's no huge deal.  I need to make some high waisted pants or a skirt to see whether I would wear it a lot I think.

I did also wonder about fitting it in under the bust and adding a closure (invisible zip) at the side seam - this might make it more flattering.  My husband also suggested that it felt like "it should actually be a short jacket" but I suspect that was more due to the lack of drape in my chosen fabric...

My second version was View A, with the neckline of View B:

I used a fairly sheer printed chiffon-type fabric for this (again, Spotlight many years ago) with a kind of chevron pattern on it.  This has so much more drape than the other version and I like it and wear it a lot.

It has all the comfort and ease of a drapey jersey t-shirt, but looks just a bit smarter - enough that I wear it to work all the time.  I didn't add the button cuffs - only really because I liked the clean line of the cuff with the pattern going the other way on it.  I usually love a button cuff sleeve so it was a surprise that I didn't end up adding them,

I again added some length to this one, and again I feel I added just a little bit too much.

Not much else to report on these.  I liked the neckline treatment - it was pretty easy to get it to lie nice and flat on both versions I made.  Those drag lines aren't usually there when I am moving around either :)

I also liked the boxy shape and the hi-lo hem, though as mentioned I think I added a little bit too much length.  I used french seams throughout as this was super-prone to fraying.

Both versions were a very quick sew and as mentioned in other posts, I like the sizing approach that they take in their patterns (there is a little flow chart to guide you towards the best approach if you don't exactly match the size measurements).

While the jury is still out on whether I will wear View B much, I suspect I will be making more of View A - nice and quick, not a huge fabric hog and looks smart or casual depending on what you wear with it:  that's a winner!!!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Patterns I Own - a disturbing exercise...

A couple of weeks ago I got a new little file drawer thing to keep sewing patterns in (not all of them, because it's little, more the "working set" or queue).  It was a bit of an impulse buy but it's soooo pretty:

Anyway, the purchase led to some sewing room reorganisation.  That sounds very grand, but "sewing room" is actually part of our bedroom, and "reorganisation" means I swapped one shelving unit and the chest of drawers around :)

The "reorg" led to me deciding on a whim to catalogue all the patterns I have.  Because that wouldn't take long right?  I figured I would use Pinterest, as it's visual, and when Sara Lawson (Sew Sweetness) starting doing this a while back I was jealous.

Many hours passed...

WHAT???  I own 93 patterns for women alone (note - this is now 94 as I realised when writing this I had missed one).  You can see them all here.  This doesn't even really capture it because several of those pins are entire books, with multiple patterns in.  Plus there are other boards with substantial numbers on (bags and childrens patterns, I am looking at you...).

I decided to do some analysis.

We can ignore "Other" in the graph - this is mostly knitting patterns which I decided not to further categorise.

My stand out in the above is that out of 94 pins, I have 18 dress patterns.  Why?  I don't wear dresses very often and I don't think they are ever the most flattering choice for me, yet nearly 20% of my patterns are dresses.  It gets even worse if we included books in the tally, because one of the books is actually called "Little Green Dresses", so my dress pattern count is in fact artificially low.

[As an aside, I am a bit shamed by the books as I have made seriously little from them - perhaps that's a challenge to take on in the future...]

Oddly, when I look at what I have actually made from the patterns I own, the dresses are well represented there also.

So.  I wear trousers pretty much all the time and have made 1 pair (Tessuti Chloe Pants), but have made 8 dresses.  To be fair, there are several pairs of Alexandria Peg Shorts which aren't shown in here because I forgot to count them and was too lazy to go back and add them in...but STILL.

I think this shows where I am going wrong with sewing and the things I have made - I have made a lot of clothes for me now, but could never attempt me-made-May as I am not making things I want to wear in high rotation or that I even wear at all.

To illustrate how successful my dress making is not - here are the 8 dresses and their status:

One of the first things I ever tried to make.  I never finished it.

I found this the other day and it doesn't fit so now I will never finish it.


The second and fourth dresses I made.  By far the most successful dress pattern and results - I love these dresses and find them flattering!    I will probably make more of these - it's a TNT pattern for me :)


The third dress I made, when everyone else was too.  I wore this once.  Made me feel so self-conscious and ridiculous.  Not me at all!

Then I cut it off into a top and wore it a few more times, though I need to go back and fix a wavy hem issue.  Maybe I will or maybe I should just abandon it?


This one was my favourite in "concept" (colours, stripes - yay!) but every time I wore it I felt it made me look pregnant.

It's now a maxi-skirt and gets a fair bit of wear, though probably doesn't count as a successful dress.


Again - made when it was the dress de jour in the blogosphere. Similar pregnancy vibes to the above and never got worn very often.

I had plans to make this a skirt but can't recall where it is or whether I did that...


One of the more successful efforts - I have worn this a few times.  I definitely have a shoulder / chest fit issue with this one, though most versions I have seen have a similar issue, so perhaps it's the pattern (see the little crease coming from the armhole on the stripey version?).

Worth working on further and possibly making again - as its comfortable and fairly flattering.


The work in progress eighth dress.  This is a craftsy kit so I am actually making the dress she is wearing in the same fabric.

Stay tuned for results!

Out of 8 makes, 2 are still worn a lot, 1 is not perfect but worth adjustment and another is still on the sewing table.  It's not really a high strike rate, but for some reason I am making a type of garment I don't usually reach for.

Despite this realisation that I don't wear the dresses I make, my current work in progress is a dress :(  The law of not creating UFOs means I must press on until the end, but my new mission statement is to MAKE SOME DAMN TROUSERS ALREADY!

On a final note, I was interested in the breakdown between indie and non-indie patterns.  I believed I had more indie than others and was happy to see I was right.  The Big 4 patterns are mostly dresses (godammit...) and shirts, which is something I seemingly want to make more of, as I have at least three rather similar patterns there :)

Go indie!  And hello pant-making :)