By Hand London Victoria blazer

I had high hopes for the By Hand London Victoria blazer.  After all, it isn’t every day that I pay that much for a pattern!  But for some reason, I put off actually making it.  Maybe I was distracted by something else…oh look, new, bright, shiny…. Anyway, it worked out well for me that I did hold off for a little while, because the lovely Rachel started making one but half way through didn’t like it on her, and passed it on to me!  So this blazer is actually a combined effort – Rachel provided the fabric and made the outer; I added the cuffs and the lining and sewed it all together.  And kept it.

By Hand London Victoria blazer

First things first: this is the BEST fabric. It is metallic coated linen and it’s just superb to work with! This was the left-over fabric from a beautiful jacket that Rachel made a couple of years ago.  Very special stuff.  It creases the second that you look at it but that doesn’t seem to matter because it is so lovely.  I lined the jacket in some fabric that I think Anna gave to me – goodness, this really is a combined effort!  It is lovely and slippery and makes the jacket very easy to wear.  The pattern description reads: The Victoria is a casual blazer featuring 3/4 length sleeves, a turned up French seamed cuff and side seam pockets, with cropped and sleeveless variations. Designed with a generous amount of ease for a laid back style, this blazer is the perfect throw-it-over-everything wardrobe staple.

By Hand London Victoria blazer

But what you really want to know is what I thought of the pattern overall, isn’t it! Well, I’m not convinced. There are things about it that I really like. The shaping around the neckline is lovely. The rest of the blazer is very boxy, which I rather like too. Everything fitted together well and the sleeves set in nicely. The cuffs are attached with a french seam, so they look attractive if folded back or left down. By the way, the collar and cuffs of this blazer were sewn with the reverse of the fabric out – they’re exactly the same linen, just the non-metallic side.

By Hand London Victoria blazer

BUT – I don’t especially like the lapels. And I noticed that in most of the photos I have seen of this jacket, people are holding the lapels flat. Otherwise they open up and flap around and don’t lie back against the rest of the jacket, possibly because they aren’t really an integral part of the blazer fronts with a roll line but are just sandwiched between the blazer outer and the lining. At the back the collar is very narrow and doesn’t even cover the neckline/stand seam.

By Hand London Victoria blazer

I think that the biggest issue with this blazer is that it is lined edge-to-edge. There aren’t facings down the front edges or especially along the hemline, so as designed it’s difficult to get the hem to sit flat without the lining either peeking out or pulling it up. This all adds up to a relaxed casual style, but I’d prefer my blazers to have a little more structure to them. Not much – after all, and I am huge fan of stretch fabrics and cardigans, so I’m not looking for heavily tailored structure – but enough to have everything lie where it should lie.

By Hand London Victoria blazer

All that said, I will wear this blazer. I think that this pattern would look rather good without the collar or lapels, as the shaping around the neckline is rather lovely, but it could benefit from facings through that area.  However, I won’t rush to make up this pattern a second time.

In-House Patterns Kimono Tee

This pattern was on my Pinterest board of “pattern ideas” for a little while, but not a long while – my “buy it now” finger got too itchy one Friday night after work and a glass of wine!  I was rather certain that this was a pattern that would suit me.  And yes, I think that the finished product bears that out!

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The pattern description from the website says: This is the perfect pattern for quick sewing and easy wear. Designed specifically for knit fabrics and a D bust cup, this top features a contrast lace yoke, front bodice gathering, and flattering “V” neckline. The extended shoulder line and easy fitting bodice will keep you cool and stylish all summer long. The top also features a centre front and centre back seam for added interest and gives you the option to make this a colour block style. This is a multi-size downloadable PDF sewing pattern in women’s sizes XS – XL. This pattern is great for a beginner; an expert will find it a breeze!

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I took a punt on sizing and cut out size Medium, even though my bust measurement was more like the Large. The pattern is designed for a D cup – and I’m a C cup – so I figured that there would be enough ease in the finished design to accommodate and the Medium would be better around my upper chest and shoulders. I didn’t make any alterations to the pattern at all, and am very pleased with the fit.  The gathers are a lovely feature and help it to sit just right.  I used both the sewing machine and the overlocker during construction.

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And yes, it was easy to construct. I used the last scraps of my Tessuti Jaywalk fabric, and barely managed to get the front and back pieces out of them. The back is actually pieced together! The top has a centre front and centre back seam, but both could be left out if you like and the pattern cut on the fold (although the V-shaped neckband is definitely easier to attach with that centre front seam). The yoke is from some black pleather (pleather – a fancy word for FAKE LEATHER made out of some type of polyurethane, I suspect) that was in the stash. I wore this on the weekend with black Style Arc Elle pants and my Collette Dinnigan scarf (made by buying a length of fabric then hemming the edges on the overlocker) and felt very smart!

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And yes, there is already another Kimono Tee cut out…

moss mini #3

Yes, it’s another Grainline Moss Mini.  Yes, you’ve seen this skirt a million times in the sewing blogosphere by now.  And I’ve made it not once, but twice before.

Grainline Moss Mini - fabric from Spotlight

The deer printed fabric is canvas from Spotlight – I think they might call it cotton duck, or something similar? I have to say that it is pretty terrible quality. I pre-washed it, concerned about potential shrinkage, and the colour faded and shifted all over it. You can see some paler lines across it if you look closely. Grrr.

Grainline Moss Mini - fabric from Spotlight

I finally got a bit braver and left off the lower band, leaving this skirt at the shorter length. I’m rather glad that I did – I do quite like my legs, and it’s not as though this skirt will be worn to work at any stage, so it’s fine to have it short. And short means that I can show off bright tights and boots! In summer I often prefer longer skirts, as I worry about sun exposure, and the glare from my legs is rather phenomenal too. But at the moment I’m listening to all those people who say “make it shorter Lara, make it shorter!” and am doing exactly that.

Grainline Moss Mini - zipper detail

I used a metal zipper – I find them nice and substantial in jeans-style skirts like this one. The Grainline instructions are rather good, and this inserted beautifully. I cut the entire skirt at size 10, and it fits well. It was much faster to construct than I remembered – maybe third time around I am getting more efficient! The pockets and waistband lining are in a beautiful voile that I am now completely out of – I even had to introduce a seam to have enough to cut these pieces!

Grainline Moss Mini - interior

Next time I need to remember to overlock the edges of the centre front before sewing the seam or doing any zipper installation.  Once again I stabilised the pocket edges with fusible tape, which is really important to eliminate them bagging or stretching out.  I sewed a rather narrow hem on the machine after overlocking the edge and turning it once.  I like to reduce bulk in these fabrics.

Grainline Moss Mini, fabric from Spotlight

And this is how I wore it! I’m planning on a plain black version in a heavily ribbed black woven I bought from Darn Cheap Fabrics’ $2 table when I was there last week but as per usual have a lot of other items in my queue at the moment. I did manage to sew myself a tunic last night for some sewing therapy, and have a few more items on my list for the beautiful weekend ahead. While others are watching the Grand Final…I’ll be sewing!

Asymmetrical drape top

When the latest Perfect Pattern Parcel popped up in my feed reader I jumped straight on it.  Patterns for tweens – just what I’m after!  And it includes casual patterns for knits – plus the Figgy’s Sunki dress, which I had been considering buying anyway.  So a click or two later, a pattern download and a press of the “print” button (plus some scissors and sticky tape) and before I knew it I was cutting out an Asymmetrical drape top for Clare.

Asymmetrical top from Pattern Parcel #5

This is such a simple top, and has similarities to the You Sew Girl! Drape dress that I have made myself a couple of times and the almost ubiquitous side draped top from Drape Drape 2, the Japanese sewing book. After measuring Clare we decided to make size 8. It’s still rather roomy, and long enough to wear as a tunic over leggings. I suggest choosing the size by hip measurement.

Asymmetrical top from Pattern Parcel #5

The fabric is from Darn Cheap Fabrics, and is an ombre print that fades from orange down to almost white. We cut the neckband from the orange part, and the bottom band in a way that it incorporated the white and the orange. The bottom band is great – it means that Clare can easily hitch it up higher to give it more side drape, and it stays in place.

Asymmetrical top from Pattern Parcel #5

The neck band is very narrow, as it is only recommended to be cut at 1.5 inches wide and is folded in half. When I stretched it to fit the neckline it narrowed ever further. Once it was pressed and top-stitched the viscose knit gave quite a nice neckline, but I suspect that if you were using a cotton/spandex mix or similar that you would need to cut the neckline a little larger and the neckband a little wider and longer. As with most knits, experimentation is the key!

Asymmetrical top from Pattern Parcel #5

Since I had the pattern out, and it was only one piece for the front and back (with the front neckline cut lower than the back) plus the hem band and neckband I figured that I should just go ahead and make two. This brightly striped viscose knit (also from Darn Cheap Fabrics, I think) behaved in pretty much the same way as the ombre fabric, also resulting in a narrow neckband. The sleeve hems were finished by overlocking around the edge then turning to the inside once and topstitching with the twin needle. I did the topstitching with two colours this time, bright pink and bright orange.

Asymmetrical top from Pattern Parcel #5

The pattern actually gives two options to create more or less drape on the side – this is the one that creates more. The lower band and the neckband are also optional. These should fit for all the summer and potentially next summer as well.

Asymmetrical top from Pattern Parcel #5

I sewed these on the weekend – Clare wore one the following day and the other the day after. Clearly they tick all the right boxes! I’m looking forward to making more from the Pattern Parcel – next on the list is the Lily knit blazer, in the leftover fabric from the Finlayson sweater.  The Pattern Parcel is such a cost-effective way to buy patterns from different independent designers you may not have encountered before – I suggest taking a look at this one if you have a tween girl to sew for.

Asymmetrical top from Pattern Parcel #5

Thread Theory Finlayson sweater

Sometimes – just sometimes – I sew something for other people.  Usually the other people are my daughters (although my cousin and mother occasionally get a look in) but this time I have sewn something for my husband!  It’s the Thread Theory Finlayson sweater.  I bought my copy from Stitch 56.

Thread Theory Finlayson sweater in navy and cream rib effect knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

As soon as this pattern popped up in my blog feed I knew that I wouldn’t be able to resist – how many of you realise what my last name is? If you didn’t know it before, you do now! And it looked like a straightforward sew, in a style that I knew my husband would like. The roll collar sets it apart a little, and the hem and cuff bands make it very easy to construct.

Thread Theory Finlayson sweater in navy and cream rib effect knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Thread Theory describe this pattern as follows: This sweater is a grown up version of the classic hoodie. It will be a wardrobe staple due to its cozy boxy shape and hard wearing cuffed hems but there is no worry of looking like a slob while wearing it!

Both versions contain stylish features that elevate it beyond pure utilitarianism: Variation 1 features a unique squared neckline and a stylish shawl collar. It also includes an optional neckline facing that can be used to feature contrast fabrics as a finishing touch to the garment interior. Variation 2 includes a roomy lined hood that crosses over at the front to join to the squared neckline as well as the classic kangaroo pocket to protect hands from the elements.

This pattern, as part of the Alpine Outdoors Collection, is a hard-wearing design with a classic fit. Create a hand-made wardrobe of these designs so as to always be comfortably and stylishly ready for the next adventure!

Thread Theory Finlayson sweater in navy and cream rib effect knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

As this was really a test garment to check sizing and fit, I measured my husband and decided try the Medium without any alterations. He is very happy with the fit. I thought that the sleeves were a little too long, but he says that likes them that way. It also allows for a little bit of future shrinkage, I suppose! The fabric is a knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics.  It looks like a navy/white rib, but it’s not ribbed on the reverse but is solid navy. It does really weird things when looking at it it on the computer monitor.  My favourite part is the collar. I ran a line of topstitching where the collar attaches to the neckline to help it sit nicely, but omitted omitted it across the front. I think that I’ll go back and topstitch there as well.

Thread Theory Finlayson sweater in navy and cream rib effect knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Construction was mainly on the overlocker. It was surprisingly quick to make, and it’s been worn solidly for the past two days! I’m going to have to make him another one.  He’s put in an order!

Thread Theory Finlayson sweater in navy and cream rib effect knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Ah, gazing into the distance, wondering how quickly I will finish with the camera…I cannot tell you just how much he did NOT enjoy modelling for these photos!

a little bit of sparkle….

I haven’t been blogging, but I have been sewing!  Once again my sewing mojo has run far, far ahead of my blogging mojo.  I blame instagram – it makes it so easy to share a little snippet of what I’ve been up to.  So, have you been waiting with bated breath to discover what resulted from the sequin cutting that I did a couple of weeks ago?  Well, it was my dress for Melbourne Frocktails last weekend (Helen, Oanh, Liz and Neeno have already blogged about their gorgeous frocks and our lovely evening of food, cocktails and chatter).

Vintage Vogue 2055 copyright 1988 in sequins from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Well, hello! This dress is certainly an attention getter. I’ve never sewn with sequinned fabric before, and bought this remnant from Darn Cheap Fabrics a little while ago. It is an imperfect piece and was sold very cheaply, so was the perfect candidate for learning to sew sequins. I paired it with a vintage Vogue Designer Calvin Klein pattern (copyright 1988) that I recently won from Valerie in a giveaway. I bet that she didn’t expect it to be used so quickly!

vintage Vogue 2055 Calvin Klein

I made the size Medium (12-14) and petite-ed it through the body and the sleeves. I was rather glad that I did! As the pattern wasn’t designed for sequinned fabric, I did have to give some thought to how I would construct it. In the end I cut a full lining from black viscose/lycra knit, and basically bagged out the entire dress. I sewed it with a jeans needle on the sewing machine and left the edges unfinished. The lining enclosed any rough sequins around the neckline and sleeve openings, and covered them on the inside as well. I under stitched the neckline, but it still had a tendency to roll to the outside a little. There were a few things that were not done to a high standard. Firstly, the hem. It wasn’t noticeable in wearing, but it certainly is in these photos. You can see every stitch of the hand done hem in these shots!

Vintage Vogue 2055 copyright 1988 in sequins from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The light was fading rapidly when these photos were taken, and I just haven’t managed to get dressed up again to retake them. I really don’t think that the hemline was as obvious when I wore it, and I did stitch the hem down fairly loosely. It shows how the light reflects off every angle of the sequins. You can also see that definite ’80s silhouette with this dress, and some of the dodgy patches where sequins flipped up rather than down. I did say that it was an imperfect remnant!

Vintage Vogue 2055 copyright 1988 in sequins from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I also made a big error when cutting out – I cut the sleeves with the “nap” of the sequins running up instead of running down. This definitely is not a couture item. No-one else noticed, or at least they didn’t say anything! I didn’t hem the lining, as the dress was rather weighty and had dropped a bit while hanging on my mannequin waiting to be hemmed. I needed the lining to cover as much of the sequinned seams and hemline as possible – those sequins can be a little scratchy.

Vintage Vogue 2055 copyright 1988 in sequins from Darn Cheap Fabrics

My husband named this the “rainbow fish” dress, as he thought that the sequins were reminiscent of the fish scales in the children’s picture book. There’s not much more to say about this dress – it’s a bit of fun, not one of my finest examples of sewing, but certainly a statement piece! To finish off, a couple of photos from the night:

Carita and Helen at Melbourne Frocktails

Carita (in her stunning wool crepe Anna maxi dress) and Helen

Lara and Oanh at Melbourne Frocktails

Me with Oanh

Vintage Vogue 2055 copyright 1988 in sequins from Darn Cheap Fabrics

A sack style dress is actually very comfortable for an evening of eating and drinking!  Who knows if this dress will ever get another outing, but it was an enjoyable exercise either way.  The pattern definitely will get another run, but in one of the recommended fabrics.