Style Arc Meg raglan tee and Lola pants

More Style Arc!  At the moment I am rather partial to a raglan sleeve.  You have probably worked that out already!  And Style Arc recently released the Meg raglan tee pattern.  The description is as follows: This gorgeous elbow length raglan sleeve Tee has a relaxed fit that is designed to flow with the body. It features a high low hemline and a high scoop neck. This style is beautiful made in a soft flowing silk.  It is also worth noting that this pattern is for wovens, not for knits.

I felt that this pattern really lent itself to using a combination of fabrics.  I had a very small remnant of printed cotton sateen from Tessuti, just enough to cut the front and back body pieces.  And in deep stash I found some beautifully quality black woven jacquard, originally from June’s stash so possibly from the 70s or 80s.  And together, they became the Meg tee!

2014-10-12 11.56.22-1

I really wish that I could get a photograph that showed the subtle pattern woven into the black fabric, but as you know black is hard to photograph at the best of times. This is a lovely light weight fabric and has combined nicely with the print. The neckline binding is cut on the bias, and the darts at the shoulder of the raglan sleeves provide the opportunity for shaping the top to your body nicely.

2014-10-12 11.55.54

Once again I made my usual Style Arc size 12. I need to pull out the pattern pieces and check if I shortened them through the body to petite it (I possibly did). As with the last Style Arc top I posted, the drafting for the mitred corners at the side splits of the top was particulary nice. The hems are wide, which makes the whole top sit better, and everything went together perfectly.

2014-10-12 11.56.42

And by now you’ve already figured out that I also sewed a pair of Lola pants to coordinate, in the same black woven as the sleeves of the top. I didn’t own any summerweight black pants, and they do come in handy. I think that I’ve made about four pairs of pants from this pattern now, and can sew one up very quickly. They are size 12, shortened both above and below the knee. I’m sure that they will be worn quite a lot.

2014-10-12 11.56.14

The loose fit is cool and comfortable to wear, but the elastic in the back hem edge bringing them in at the bottom gives them a more modern look than if they were wide and loose. Although I do like wide and loose as well…another sewing plan perhaps. The pockets also come in handy.

2014-10-12 15.43.23

I’m really enjoying my Style Arc sewing at the moment! I think that by now most of you know that their instructions are sometimes lacking, but their drafting is always fantastic and styles are definitely up to the minute. I can always find a style that I like, and they design for a broad variety of shapes. I really enjoy their patterns, and have actually grown to like the one-size-only aspect. I know what basic changes I need to make, and it’s actually less confusing than if there are lots of other lines on the pattern pages.

2014-10-12 11.56.05

As has often been the case over recent weeks/months, I am well behind with blogging finished makes. I’ve got a few very busy weeks ahead with work commitments, kids’ school commitments, school council commitments, and extended family commitments, and am hoping that since I won’t have the time (or possibly the energy) to get any sewing done, I might actually get some more blogging done and get up to date! So if there are a plethora of posts don’t think that I’ve been sewing like a maniac at the same time as juggling everything else – the projects will actually date back weeks and weeks.

Style Arc Lu Lu Tunic Top

I think that the Style Arc Lu Lu Tunic Top may have been the free pattern when I ordered one month. I really do like the Style Arc freebies, and must admit that I often will hold off an order to see what the freebie for the following month is going to be if I’m not all that enamoured with the current month’s offerings. I’m glad that I received this one.

Style Arc Lu Lu Tunic top

I sewed this in size 12, my usual Style Arc top/dress size, and am pleased with the fit. The pattern drawing and description are as follows: This is gorgeous layered top that is perfect for wearing over your narrow legged pant. It has an interesting darted neckline and a flattering dropped shoulder. Use two different textured fabrics for an on trend look or a beautiful coloured silk will create a total luxe feeling.

After reading other reviews, I decided to eliminate the back opening and button/loop.  This was an easy change to make.  I just seamed the centre back right up to the neckline, and sewed the neckband pieces together at the centre back as well.  Otherwise the construction was fairly straightforward.

Style Arc Lu Lu Tunic top

I finished the edge of the neck and sleeve facing pieces on the overlocker, and stitched them flat in the ditch from the right side rather than turning them inwards. This has kept the bands sitting flat, and eliminated the need to hand-sew the facings in place. The fabric is from Darn Cheap Fabrics. It’s a textured woven, linen mixed possibly with some cotton and maybe a little metal? Creases didn’t iron out easily. I haven’t worn this yet other than for the photos, and it did feel a little itchy next to my skin, which might be the metallic component. We’ll see!  Otherwise it was quite good to work with.

Style Arc Lu Lu Tunic top

I was a little uncertain about how to attach the bottom pieces to the top to make the fold at first, but when I slowed myself down and read the instructions a few times it worked out quite well. The diagrams were particularly helpful. I really like the wide hems on this top, and the pattern piece is drafted so that the corners mitre beautifully. A lovely feature.

Style Arc Lu Lu Tunic top

The tunic also coordinates well with the Style Arc Lola pants that I made for SWAP – because it is also one of my original planned SWAP garments! I’m glad that I followed through with this one.

Some more SWAP items – Vogue 8805 and Style Arc Fay

You’d pretty much forgotten about my SWAP plans, hadn’t you?  Because it certainly appeared as though I had!  Although I missed the SWAP deadline by many, many months I am still making some of the garments that were part of it.  These ones were actually sewn many, many months ago but I was slow getting photos.

Vogue 8805 with Style Arc Fay skirt

The top is Vogue 8805, sewn in a ponte and shortened. I was using a remnant piece of fabric (I can’t even remember where from!) and it took considerable juggling to get the pattern pieces out of the small amount that I had. I decided to bind the neckline and sleeve hems rather than simply turning or facing. The neckline was also scooped lower than the pattern. The shaping of this top works well for me.

Vogue 8805 with Style Arc Fay skirt

I completely eliminated the centre back opening – I don’t need to use it to get this on or off. There is plenty of ease through the back, which makes it super comfortable to wear.

Vogue 8805

There is not much to say about the skirt – it’s the Style Arc Fay skirt, but unlined as once again I was working with a small amount of fabric. The fabric is a floral textured jacquard knit from Tessuti. Side seams, elastic in the waist, hem turned once and sewn in place.

Vogue 8805 with Style Arc Fay skirt

I also made a third item to wear with this top and skirt, a Style Arc Floating Fran cardi (actually a vest).

Vogue 8805 top, StyleARC Fay skirt & Floating Fran cardi

I used fabric from the Darn Cheap Fabrics $2 per metre table for this one. It’s quite sheer, and is a knit, but doesn’t actually have a great deal of stretch. And as it turns out, every time I put the vest on I take it off again. In this fabric it’s just that bit too firm around the bust. And the colour isn’t quite “me”.  So it’s been donated.

Vogue 8805 top, StyleARC Fay skirt & Floating Fran cardi

Despite that I do like the flare and the overall shape and fit – it just needed a softer and stretchier knit. I did shorten it throughout the body to accommodate my height, and it’s still quite long at the back. The fronts are faced, and the armholes are bound. Because of the flare it takes quite a lot of fabric. I’ll definitely use this pattern again.

Vogue 8805 top, StyleARC Fay skirt & Floating Fran cardi

So, I still have two pieces of the three in this SWAP 3-pack.

Vogue 8805

Kate & Rose Roza dress

Some months ago Anna set a chambray challenge.  She provided Leith, Rachel and myself with a few metres of beautiful quality chambray from GJs, and challenged us all to make something gorgeous from it.  I believe that Rachel finished hers ages ago, with more than one item from her length of fabric.  After spending a great deal of time to-ing and fro-ing with pattern choice, I have finished mine.

Kate & Rose Roza dress

This is the Kate & Rose Roza dress. A few things drew me to this pattern. The description is as follows:

The Roza blouse & dress was inspired by easy, flowing, and sweet peasant blouses but modernized for today’s makers.

The pattern includes three styles: View A has a cropped hemline, gathered front inset and bracelet-length sleeves. View B has a curved high-low hemline, short sleeves and flat front inset. View C is a knee-length A-line dress with flat front and short sleeves. Mix and match hemlines, sleeves and front inset styles to create your own version.

This pattern is suitable for beginners, with detailed instructions and illustrations for every step of construction. The Róza’s front panel inset is also great for embroidering on (one of our favorite things here at Kate & Rose).

Suggested fabrics: light to medium-light-weight fabrics like cotton voile, gauze or lawn, lightweight silk, rayon challis, lightweight linen.

As you know, I rather like a loose sack dress during summer – and summer is coming!  The raglan sleeves also appealed, as did the chance to use a beautiful piece of ribbon that was languishing in stash.  But I have to say that I am not thrilled with my finished dress – which is not the fault of the pattern, by the way. The pattern was well drafted and the instructions were also nice and clear. There were no issues there at all.

Kate & Rose Roza dress

I cut this out at a size Large, as per my measurements, but I really should have down sized. It’s too big, especially around the neckline. I often make garments with a smaller shoulder/armhole/neckline size than bust size, and this would have paid off here as well. It stays nicely on my shoulders, but the neck opening just looks too big, especially from the back. It’s better from the front.

Kate & Rose Roza dress

The short gathered sleeves are quite sweet, and the ribbon is lovely. The neckline is faced with a strip of bias binding, a technique that I always quite like. This is a fairly easy dress to make and I don’t have any particular construction issues or tips to report.  In fact, I did a lovely job of construction.

Kate & Rose Roza dress

I’m not quite sure what to do with my dress. I adore it on the hanger. It’s just not quite “me”. I really do need to improve my visualisations of “Lara in this dress” before I make things, rather than just visualising the dress but not necessarily with me in it! I am toying with the idea of making it a bit smaller, or just wearing it as it is, or passing it on to a friend. What to do? I will probably use the pattern again, maybe for the longer sleeved blouse with the high/low hemline, as I really do like the design! Fortunately I still have some chambray left and the challenge isn’t yet over….Vogue 8805, I’m probably looking at you!

Big Joey dress for Clare

A number of my sewing buddies know that I actively avoid Make It Perfect patterns after a not-so-good experience with them a few years back.  I suspect then that they will be surprised to discover that I have recently purchased and sewn one!  I rather liked the look of the Make It Perfect Big Joey dress when I saw it pop up on a few blogs (actually, more than a few) and when the patterns were on sale for half price, I decided that it was time to give them a second chance.  And I have to say that I really like the finished dress on Clare.

Make It Perfect Big Joey dress

This pattern comes in three size ranges. The smallest is 0-5 years, then the Big Joey for 6-10 years. There is also a Women’s version. The size chart only lists chest and base of neck to finished hem as a guide to sizing. It didn’t say if the chest measurement was actual chest or the finished garment chest. Clare measured size 6 around the chest if “chest” meant actual body measurement, but I had a feeling that just wasn’t going to work so made an executive decision and went for size 9, guided by the base of neck to finished hem measurement. As it turns out the size 9 is fine but certainly doesn’t have much room for growth. I will make size 10 next time.

Make It Perfect Big Joey dress

The pattern description from the website: A mini version of the Make It Perfect women’s Skippy dress, Joey is a pretty, everyday dress for little girls made with your favourite stretchy knit fabric. There’s plenty to smile about with its pretty gathered sleeves in a choice of three lengths, an optional cowl neck and a swingy skirt. Joey has a great, everyday shape featuring handy kangaroo-style pouch pockets. Make it in a solid colour or mix and match prints and patterns for endless different looks. Easy to put on, comfortable to wear and perfect for play. Joey is a dress for all tree-climbing, puddle-jumping and bike-riding adventures.

Make It Perfect Big Joey dress

The front pocket definitely attracted Clare to this pattern, and she also liked the dropped waist. Although the skirt is described as “swingy”, it’s really a simple A-line. It’s drafted with the hem extending in a straight line to the side seam, which makes the skirt longer at the sides than in the centre front and centre back. I measured the length of the side seam and altered the pattern piece to lengthen it at the centre front/back, curving it gently to meet the side seam. It’s only a small amount, but makes a difference. As far as I am aware – and do correct me if I am wrong – the designer does not have formal pattern drafting training or experience, and to me it is in areas like this that it shows. The skirt on Clare’s dress is the same length all the way around, and it falls and sits much more nicely in my opinion than many of the others I’ve seen.

Make It Perfect Big Joey dress

Clare chose the short gathered sleeve option for her dress. I didn’t pay much attention to the instructions when constructing the dress, both because I am fairly experienced in making knit dresses for kids and because I’d not been enamoured by my previous experience with Make It Perfect instructions. However, I did look at them briefly for this section. They suggest that the sleeves be inserted flat before sewing up the side seams and before adding the sleeve band. Since these sleeves were so short and had a fair degree of gather at the sleeve head I did it differently and inserted them in the round after sewing up the side seams and attaching the sleeve band. Once again, the drafting wasn’t great at the bottom of the sleeve where it attaches to the band, but because it’s a knit there is some leeway and it all worked out okay. I’ll alter the pattern piece a bit in that area before I make it next. The armhole depth is not all that great, although the shoulders are fairly wide. I might alter that too.

Make It Perfect Big Joey dress

The fabric came from Clear It, and is lovely quality. You’ve seen it before in Stella’s Ethereal dress, and the other colourway in Clare’s Belinda dress. The contrast bands were a random cotton/spandex knit from stash. They really give the dress a bit of added pop!  Construction was primarily on the overlocker, with the machine used for gathering and for twin needle topstitching.

Make It Perfect Big Joey dress

Next time around I’ll make the size 10 for my almost 12 year old, and will make the same pattern changes listed above. It is quite a versatile pattern, and one that I will use again, but I’m still not all that thrilled by the pattern drafting from this pattern company. However, I do like the finished dress, and so does Clare. Hooray!

Make It Perfect Big Joey dress

blog hopping

Thanks to the gorgeous Debbie of Lily Sage & Co, the blog hop baton has been passed on to me.  I first came across Debbie’s blog when she was a finalist in one of Tessuti’s competitions a couple of years ago – and yes, I did vote for her dress!  I always enjoy watching what she comes up with, for herself and for her husband and daughters.  Beautiful fabrics in divine combinations and the fearless ability to refashion and mix textures and patterns.  Thanks so much Debbie for getting me involved in the hop!  So, straight to the questions.

1. Why do you write?

I started my blog when I was pregnant with Stella, so almost eight years ago.  Blimey!  I had googled “headband tutorial” and found Heather Bailey’s blog, and from there I was sucked into the vortex of craft blogs.  At that stage the blogs I found and read were mostly patchwork, bag-making and children’s clothes.  With the encouragement of another online friend (Hi there Jodie!) I decided that I could share what I made as well, and things went from there.  My blog is a making journal, with the odd rant and miscellany.  There’s a bit about the family, but not too much, and it morphed into a travel blog when we went to Thailand earlier in the year.  But basically I write to keep a record of what I have made, whether it is sewn or crocheted.

I have been sewing since my teens – so that is over thirty years now.  I’ve never been a person to keep a diary, but for some reason I don’t find it too hard to maintain my blog.  It is the place where I record the details of each item, such as the fabric type and where from, any alterations, successes and failures.  There are very few finished items that haven’t made it to the blog.  I don’t edit out the unsuccessful projects, because this is my journal.  Sometimes things slip through the cracks, but I’d say that about 99.5% of what I have made over the past seven and a half years is on this blog.

I suspect that I continue to write the blog for a number of reasons.  Unsurprisingly, the big one is to feel part of the sewing community.  I am so blessed to have made real life friends who share my interests and understand the obsession with fabrics and patterns and how they can be combined.  I thoroughly enjoy the interactions with the people I have met through my blog, whether I have met them in person or whether our contact is still in the online realm!  My Chiang Mai fabric shopping trip with Gaye would never have happened without my blog, nor would my trips away to Sewjourn, weekends at Sew It Together or attendance at Frocktails, Sewcietea and various other blog meets.  I also feel that maintaining my blog is a way to give back a little to the sewing and crafting community.  I know how much I enjoy seeing garments on everyday people, and hopefully others also gain from my creations and opinions.  And of course, it’s a chance to show off and say “hey, look at what I made”!  It’s online show and tell to the whole world!  And I love positive feedback as much as most people.

2. What are you working on?

I have another trip to Sewjourn coming up in a few weeks time, so I’m really trying to prepare for that.  I’m finishing off the garments in the already-cut-out-waiting-to-be-sewn box, so that I can made a fresh start for the season ahead.  And I’m nearly there!  There is a huge pile of fabric matched to patterns on the cutting table, just waiting for me to start cutting.  These include:

  • Grade 6 graduation dress for Clare
  • Floral neoprene top for Clare
  • Finlayson sweater for my Dad
  • Liberty short-sleeved shirt for my husband
  • Another summer knit dress for Clare
  • A knit jacket for Clare
  • An Oliver + S dress for Clare
  • A skirt for me
  • A top for me

Hmmm, there’s a theme here – lots of these are about Clare!  She does need some summer clothes.  Stella has heaps, as she has all of Clare’s hand-me-downs in addition to the extra things that I make her.

I keep a number of sewing lists on my phone.  There is one for garments already cut out, one of sewing plans for me, and another of sewing plans for others.  The last two are very long lists.

Currently under the sewing machine is a Marcy Tilton “shingle” dress, in lurid neon green and black stripes.  I probably have less than an hour of sewing left to do before it will be finished, after spending an hour unpicking it this evening because I’d sewn one right side to one wrong side and then had bound the neckline.  The unpicker is my friend.

3. How does your blog differ from others of the same genre?

This is an interesting question!  It’s probably not all that different, in that it focuses on sewing, crochet and crafting, but I suppose that as each person is different, each blog is different.  I reckon that I’m a fairly typical sewist of my generation.  My blog is pretty personal – there is no sponsorship, and the only ads are the annoying ones that come with free wordpress hosting (and I never see, but I think that you do).  I like to think that I’m pretty upfront and honest about what I make, and about my own sewing strengths and weaknesses as well as those of the patterns I have used.  I write pretty much the way that I talk, and what you see is what you get – all the while remembering that a blog like mine only ever reveals a small slice of who I am and what my life is like.  I like to think that my blog makes a positive contribution towards the representation of  middle-aged plumpish women in the sewing world who know their bodies and like themselves and what they make!  My blog also includes the garments that I make for my daughters.  I think that they have grown up on the blog!

4. What is your writing process?

I suspect that Instagram has impacted negatively on my writing process.  I used to blog a project very soon after making it, and now it can take some weeks before I get around to writing a proper post after sharing an Instagram snap.  That said, there is nothing like the blog for providing a good record of what I’ve made and how I found the experience.  I keep a list of finished items that are waiting to be blogged.  I try to get each item photographed as soon as possible after making it, which is why my blog photos are generally taken on the back deck by either my husband or by Clare.  It’s about ensuring that I have a record.  I take some photos during construction when I remember to, or of particular details.  Once photos are taken I crop them as needed, then upload them to Flickr where they can sit for weeks before being incorporated into a blog post.

I don’t have a blog post writing schedule – I write when I feel like it, then often write a few posts at once and schedule them.  It really depends on what the rest of life is like and how tired I am.  I suppose that is part of the reason why I am so behind with blogging finished items at the moment.  What with my current full-time work and juggling that with family and other commitments, I tend to sew something when I have some time rather than writing a blog post.  I usually prefer to finish something, photograph it, and blog about it before moving on to the next thing, as otherwise I forget many of the details about any construction or fitting issues.  That just isn’t happening at the moment.  I try to incorporate about four or five photos into each post to show most aspects of the garment, and although it’s nice if they are also good photos of me, it’s more important that they show the garment clearly.  Then I blither on a bit, making sure that I mention the name of the pattern, the size, what the fabric is and where I got it, any alterations, and any other information of note.   I like to break up each paragraph with a photo, and don’t often have blog posts without photos.  So overall my process is rather haphazard.  However, it is often improved by a glass of wine.

Time to pass on the baton!  I’ve enjoyed reading about others who sew and blog about it, and would love to have both Anna and Gaye answer these questions too.  I count myself very fortunate to have met these two women through blogging, and even more fortunate to now count them both as “real life” friends.  Over to you!

McCalls 6841 vest

This top was a bit of an experiment.  I’ve sewn McCalls 6841 before, but in view C.  This is view A.

McCalls 6841 vest

MISSES’ TOPS: Loose-fitting, pullover tops have draped front, and back collar. Wrong side may show. A: self-lined back and very narrow hem for front hemline. B and C: front pleated drape and narrow hem.
Designed for Medium Weight Wovens and Knits.

McCalls 6841 vest

This was made from scraps of a Spolight polyester knit that were left over from an earlier failed dress project. Great colours and interesting print. There was very little fabric to work with, so I pieced the back pieces with a centre back seam that also enabled me to get a fantastic print effect.  I sewed up the size Medium. This fabric has tremendous drape, which is perfect for the front cowl neckline. There are only two main pattern pieces, plus strips of fabric for armhole bindings.  It is worth making just to figure out the drafting and construction, although I struggled a LOT to get the inside facing seams looking half decent.  But when I sewed it up and put it on Ada, I knew that I would never wear it.

2014-09-29 16.04.17

But I did know who would wear it and look fantastic in it – my friend Jen, who loves to layer and loves colour. So I gave it to her, and she wore it to work the next day layered over a long-sleeved tee and straight skirt. It’s a wonderful vest – that neckline is super low and could never be worn without a top underneath – and I’m so pleased that it worked for someone! Now to get photos of her wearing it….