Renfrew and Elle

I did make a Renfrew that worked.  And another pair of Elle pants.

Sewaholic Renfrew with Style Arc Elle pants and Collette Dinnigan silk scarf

I also used my overlocker to make a rolled hem around the edges of some beautiful Collette Dinnigan silk chiffon that I bought from Rathdowne Fabrics recently – they are clearing the last of her fabrics since she closed down.  There were some absolutely exquisite items there, as you would imagine, but I stuck with things that I knew I would actually be able to incorporate into my life.  Which excluded sequinned and embroidered lace and chiffon, unfortunately.  I was planning on doing a beautiful narrow double fold hem around the edges of this silk or a hand-rolled hem. Then I realised that I was better off hemming quickly on the overlocker so that I can actually wear it rather than leave it languishing until I get around to doing the nicer hem (which I will still do; this fabric deserves it). Don’t start counting down how long it takes me to do it though. In the meantime, the overlocked rolled hem looks quite okay, and gives nice colour definition to the scarf edges. I need to learn some new tying techniques for large silk scarves – off to google for help with that!

Collette Dinnigan silk scarf

The Elle pants were made from exactly the same pattern as my last pair, but due to the fabric choice the fit is much larger. It is rather fascinating how changing a fabric changes fit!

Stretch something from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The fabric is a very beefy, rather spongy, vibrant fuschia knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics. I just couldn’t resist the colour. After consultation with some sewing buddies I chose to sew these with the “ribbed” side as the outer side. The “ribs” run across the grain, with interesting results during the construction process as the legs got longer and longer. The waist comes up higher than usual for this pattern too!

Style Arc Elle pants

The Renfrew is sewn from a striped cotton/spandex knit that I bought at GJs. It makes for a great basic that will fit easily under other layers. I have made a few things with dropped armholes or dolman sleeves lately, and as much as I love them, it’s harder to find garments that fit comfortably over them. The Renfrew is a great top in this regard with the higher armhole and more fitted sleeve. And I really do love that cowl – even in the thicker fabric.  And I am definitely feeling an attraction to stripes at the moment, despite the little bit of extra time and attention that it needed to match them.

Sewaholic Renfrew

I should have rearranged the cowl after taking off the scarf for that photo! I shortened the sleeves a little before attaching the cuffs. My Renfrew is a combination of about three sizes to better accommodate my measurements. I just grade across from one to the other.

Sewaholic Renfrew

It still clings a bit to the roll between the bottom of my bra and the waist of the pants. Possibly should have pulled it down a bit! I do enjoy sewing this entirely on the overlocker – because of the band at the bottom, the cuffs and the cowl, I don’t need to touch my machine at all when I make this. Unless I want to topstitch anywhere, but I don’t really need to.

Sewaholic Renfrew with Style Arc Elle pants

I’m definitely on a getting ready for winter knit sewing binge!  Oh, Melinda asked about the fabric I used in my last pair of Elle pants.  Yes, the Elle is designed for a stretch woven, and I have made a couple of pairs from the recommended fabric type.  However, most of my Elle pants have been made from ponte or other similar double knits with plenty of stretch.  I just find them more comfortable – especially around that thick waist of mine.  Good question Melinda!

oh, Elle….

I’ve been making StyleARC Elle pants again.  They really are my staple bottom garment throughout the cooler seasons.

Style Arc Elle pants in ponte from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I can get away with these in a size 10, due to the combination of stretch fabric, slim styled legs, and an elasticised waistband. Love my pull-on pants!  I shorten them in two places, about an inch and quarter above the knee and the same below the knee, to allow for my 158cm height.

Style Arc Elle pants in ponte from Darn Cheap Fabrics

They really do sit on that bridge between pants and leggings, I think. But they’re too thick and a bit too loose to be leggings – and they do have side seams! I love this pattern and am rapidly losing count of how often I have used it. Actually, I made another pair after this one.

Style Arc Elle pants in ponte from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The fabric is a lightweight double knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics. It’s fun to have a little print on my legs!

Lekala-along: what are we up to?

Behind the scenes there have been emails going out to the Lekala-along participants, hopefully keeping them on track and sewing!  Three of us have finished our jackets, and I have a strong suspicion that there are still a couple who haven’t started.  Just to update you and provide a blog record, I’ll include my “instructional” emails from the past few weeks.

Week 4 – Lekala instruction 5. Construct the collar. Sew the right collar to the left collar at the centre back seam. Repeat with the facing pieces. Sew the outer collar to the collar facing with right sides together along the outer edges. Grade seams, possibly understitch, and turn to the right side and press. Pin to the neckline, matching notches and centre back seam, and the lower edge of the right collar to the hem markings on the bottom of the right lower front, and the lower edge of the left collar to the pivot point on the left upper front. Baste into place.

Week 5 – Lekala instruction 7. Insert sleeve heads, sleeves and shoulder pads.

Week 6 – Attach the facing and assemble the lining.

In terms of the lining, it consists of the Lining parts as per the Lekala instructions BUT in effect also includes one the main fabric lower front part (times 2), the main fabric lower back part, the main fabric button stand (times 2) and the back neckline facing. The main fabric button stand and the back neckline facing are sewn together to form facings for the entire front, and the lower front/lower back parts effectively form facings for the bottom “peplum” part. Clear as mud? These will eventually be sewn to the lining pieces – but we’ll get to that bit later as well. At this stage if you ignore the “attention” part of the instructions and just cut the lining pieces for the front part and back part from the main pattern pieces, that will be fine and we’ll trim them to the correct size to be joined to the facing pieces (back neck plus button stand pieces) later on. By the way, I cut the back lining piece so that I could incorporate a centre back pleat for wearing ease.

Lekala 4329 jacket progress - altering the lining to accommodate the facing

Lekala 4329 jacket progress - altering the lining to accommodate the facing

Lekala 4329 jacket progress - altering the lining to accommodate the facing

Lekala 4329 jacket progress - front lining

In the photos you can see that I have cut out the lining pieces the same size as the outer garment pieces (with the added centre back pleat already sewn in place). Then I laid the facing pieces on top, with the raw edges even, and made marks around the edge of the facing pieces. If you look carefully you can see them. I then remarked TWICE THE SEAM ALLOWANCE inside those markings. When I say inside, I mean closer to the raw edge. If you look carefully you can see that too. Then I cut along that line. After that I sewed the facing pieces to the lining pieces, knowing that I had allowed for the seam allowances. It sounds weird, but it works. You should then have facing/lining pieces that correspond in size to the outer fabric pieces. Sew all the facing/lining pieces together, leaving a centre back gap for turning through later. Sew the lining sleeves on too. Then you’ll effectively have two jackets – one of the outer fabric and one of the lining/facings.

Lekala 4329 jacket progress - front facing/lining

Lekala 4329 jacket progress - back bodice lining/facing showing unstitched area

Week 7 – Insert the lining.

This is where it is useful to use whatever references that you have about lining jackets. There are plenty of web references that are helpful to get you into the right headspace, even though they might not exactly apply to this style of jacket.  One that I particularly like is this one from Threads.

Essentially, turn your outer jacket inside out, then put the lining inside it so the right sides are together. Pin everything in place, matching all essential seams and markings etc, then stitch. You can then turn it around the right way through the gap that you left in the back of the peplum seam, and the body of your jacket will be lined. Next you need to sew the sleeve lining to the sleeve hems. There are a couple of ways to do this. You can turn them hems of both the jacket outer and the sleeve to the inside and hand-stitch them together, or you can do it by machine working through the opening in the back lining. Just make sure that you pin things carefully so that the lining sleeve isn’t twisted inside the outer sleeve!

Lekala 4329 - lining

Lekala 4329 - lining

Week 8 – Any finishing details.

Sew up that gap in the back lining, make the buttonholes and sew on the buttons, and press your jacket! Voila!

Lekala 4329 - buttons

And guess what – this is Week 8, so those of you who haven’t finished, how about finishing during the school/Easter holidays, and we’ll kick off the new term with our new jackets?

Lekala 4329 jacket - finished!

not everything works

Sometimes you can make something with a tried and true pattern and it still doesn’t work.  For example, a recent Renfrew.

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At first glance you notice those fantastic stripes and the texture.  Then you realise that it is big.  Way too big for a semi-fitted top.  And what you don’t know is that it is also itchy and feels awful next to the skin.

This sweater knit was on the Darn Cheap Fabrics $2 per metre table, and I bought it just to play with.  Due to the sweater knit texture, it was very hard to cut out accurately, despite using a pattern that I have used many times before.  Hence it being too big. But the main problem is that I can’t wear it as a next-to-skin layer.  The fabric would work in a coat or another overlayer, but not in a Renfrew for me.  Off to the oppy with this one….

Lekala 5801 tunic

Yes, I definitely have more success with the Lekala patterns that are shown on “fuller figured” models.  Such as Lekala 5801.  The illustration:

And my version:

Lekala 5801 tunic

Okay, I’d better show it to you without a scarf obscuring the details! There are five pleats at the centre front, a roll collar, and bands finishing the hem and the raglan sleeves.

Lekala 5801 tunic

I’m not entirely happy with the collar, as it is rather floppy on. Somewhere between a band that is way too loose and doesn’t sit flat, and a cowl which isn’t wide enough to drape down or to fold in half. But it’s fine with the scarf!

Lekala 5801 tunic

I really like the fit through the body. Having the centre front pleats means that the front of the tunic is wider than the back, so it skims over my central bulk. Yet at the back it’s loose, but not too loose.  And raglan sleeves are SO easy.  Other than the front pleats and some minimal top-stitching, this dress was entirely constructed on the overlocker.

Lekala 5801 tunic

The fabric is a double layered knit that I found at Super Cheap Fabrics in Brunswick. My shopping companions also bought some – but I haven’t seen any finished garments blogged yet!  The top layer has holes in it, but it is attached to the grey underlayer.  I’ve been sewing in black/white/grey for myself quite a bit lately, even though I don’t think that they particularly suit me.  But they do make an excellent foil for a pop of colour elsewhere in my outfits!

Lekala 5801 tunic

Vogue 8771 and StyleARC Fay

One of the joys of using a pattern that you have used in the past is that you know what alterations you would prefer to make, and you know how to construct it. Everything zips along so nicely!  I’ve been pondering what to make from the fabric left over from Lekala 5806 for some time.  Eventually I settled on patterns that I have used before – Vogue 8771 and the StyleARC Fay skirt.

Vogue 8771 top with StyleARC Fay skirt

There really isn’t anything subtle about this outfit! First to the top. Last time that I made Vogue 8771 I noted that the neckline was too open.  I fixed that this time by adding a neckband, cut from the same fabric.  When I top stitched it down I used the twin needle, aligning it so that one row of stitches was on the neckband and the other on the body of the garment.

Vogue 8771 top

The cuffs were cut with the hemline on the fold of the fabric, effectively cutting them double and eliminating the need for a hem at the wrist. Once again, I like the way that princess seams have been incorporated into the armhole seam, allowing for some shaping. I shortened the top through the body to allow for my lack of height. The lower curved hem was finished with the twin needle as well. I used different coloured threads in each needle – because I could! One is pink and the other is orange.

Vogue 8771 top with StyleARC Fay skirt

There isn’t a great deal to say about the StyelARC Fay skirt that I haven’t already said. Like the last time I made it, I folded out a large chunk of the pattern to make it a mini length. Side seams, elastic waist, done!

Vogue 8771 top with StyleARC Fay skirt

I won’t always pair this outfit with bright orange leggings, but I couldn’t resist this time. It might find itself toned down a little with more subdued leggings, boots and jacket. Or it might not.

Vogue 8771 top with StyleARC Fay skirt

Deer & Doe Plantain tee

Oh, the free tee patterns.  They are proliferating at the moment!  I jumped onto the Plantain bandwagon recently.

Deer & Doe Plantain tee

There’s not a whole lot to say about this pattern, other than I like it! It is quite similar to the Tessuti Lola pattern in that the body has a gentle flare through the waist and hips. Coincidentally, the Plantain pattern came out less than 24 hours after I bought the Lola tee. However, when I laid one pattern on top of the other there are some differences in the armhole curve and the degree of flare.

Deer & Doe Plantain tee

I cut across a few different sizes, grading across from one to the other through the shoulders, bust, waist then hips. I’ve already packed the pattern away so can’t tell you which ones exactly I used, but remember that I pretty much chose the sizes according to my measurements, and my waist measurement is about two sizes larger than my hip measurement and one size larger than my bust measurement. Clear as mud? I completely ignored the instructions and constructed the t-shirt in the usual way. Sewed up one shoulder seam, attached the neckband, sewed up the other shoulder seam, attached the sleeves, then sewed up the side and sleeve seams in one go. Hems and neckband topstitching were done with the twin needle on the machine.

Deer & Doe Plantain tee - neckband

I used fabric from the Darn Cheap Fabrics $2 per metre table. It is lovely and soft, but I don’t know that I particularly like this fabric on me. I think it needs a red scarf or similar to lift it a bit. Maybe the stripes are just that bit too far apart.  I definitely won’t be styling it as in the below photo – I was just desperate to get it photographed!

Plantain tee

I should have taken a side photo, because I have to say that my stripe matching down the sleeve and side seams is perfect!  The Plantain is a great free tee. I’ll definitely be adding it to my arsenal of tee patterns.

invasion of the knit fabrics

The last couple of weeks have been knit fabric mania.  There’s nothing quite like the instant gratification of a simple knit t-shirt or tube skirt when you’ve just finished sewing a tailored jacket (yet to be revealed in it’s completed glory).  Especially when they are made from familiar patterns.

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The top is the Hemlock tee, a free pattern by Grainline that I have made before. I made this one exactly the same way, with 3 1/4 inches off the sleeve length and 2 1/4 inches off the hem. Construction was on the overlocker, with hems and neckband topstitching done with the twin needle on the machine.

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The fabric is from the Darn Cheap Fabrics $2 table, and this one really was a bargain in that it feels like a good quality and was easy to sew. I also made a matching StyleARC Fay skirt.

I love that this skirt is self-lined.  It means that you can use lighter weight knits without them sticking to clothing or being too flimsy for a bottom weight garment.  I shortened it to one of the lengths that Lena Merrin‘s perfect skirt length calculator suggests for my height.  It’s from the “mini” range, but at the longer end of that range.  I think it works well!

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Because the skirt is self-lined it can’t be shortened by simply lopping off the hem. I fold the pattern piece in half along the hemline, then take a deep fold through it about half way between the waistline and the hemline, adjusting the depth of the fold until the length is what I am after. I pin that fold in place, making sure that I pin each side of the pattern piece separately so that I can open the piece out again.

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But really, you want to check out those leggings, don’t you? Here they are in maybe a bit too much detail.

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The StyleARC Laura legging pattern, in a printed stretch mesh from Super Cheap Fabrics. Just one pattern piece, with the seam down the inside leg. Elastic around the waist, simple zig-zag hem.

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These are in size 12, and they’re actually a little too big for leggings. Not loads, but enough that I’ll cut them smaller next time. After making these I now feel the urge to sew up many more in all sorts of patterns and colours! Fun!  Actually, Shams has been sewing up a whole lot of these lately.  Maybe it’s her influence!

StyleARC Sunny

What a beautiful response to Clare’s artwork!  And wouldn’t you know it, she has now completed a number of drawings in a similar vein – and Stella has done some of her own too, very keen “to have them put onto fabric”.  So it looks as though I’ll be getting familiar with Spoonflower this weekend!

There has been some selfish sewing going on lately too.  I’ve had a knit fabrics binge.  One of the tops that I made was the StyleARC Sunny.  From their website: This is a new shape for a knit top. The oversized look becomes very flattering because of pattern drafting and the cocoon shape which is the new on trend look. Try it, you will love it!!

Now, as many of you know I love a top without waist definition – mostly because I don’t really have a waist.  Some of my clothes can give the illusion of a waist, but overall I feel the most comfortable in clothing that doesn’t fit closely to my middle.  So I knew that I would love this pattern.

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And yes, I do love it. This is size 12, with no alterations. It took me quite a while to figure out how to arrange the pattern pieces on the placement print.  The fabric came from Super Cheap Fabrics in Sydney Road, Brunswick, for $3 per metre.  Score!

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The knit fabric is fairly lightweight but is super soft and super stretchy. The sleeves are very slim, so this pattern really does need fabric with plenty of stretch to make them comfortable. I think that they need to be fairly slim to balance out the shape of the bodice.

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It’s definitely a style that needs to be balanced with a slim lower half. My pants are StyleARC Elle pants, made in a stretch woven some time last year. I finished the hems and the neckband on my sewing machine with a twin needle, but the rest of the construction was on the overlocker.

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I did made an effort to cut the neckband from the print – the background beige-grey is not very flattering near my face. I can already tell that this top will get a great deal of wear as it gets cooler. I might even make another one!

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StyleARC Jessica

Most people reading my blog know that I like to mix things up a little bit when I am sewing.  So while the Lekala jacket was slowly progressing, I put aside a little time to whip up a quick knit dress.

StyleARC Jessica dress

This is the Jessica dress, by StyleARC.  They describe it as a “Great easy to wear pull on knit jersey dress with up to the minute twist front feature that is flattering and eye catching.  This dress can be worn to the office then add a piece of your favourite jewellery then you’re ready to party!”

I sewed this in a straight size 12, with no alterations.  It is possibly a little roomy on me, which was surprising – often size 12 StyleARC can be fairly fitted on me.  However, I think that the style is extremely flattering. The back view is broken with a horizontal seam, that also provides the style with a little more structure.

StyleARC Jessica dress

And that plunging neckline and twist feature are fantastic! Having Ada to pin the dress front to as I figured out the twist really helped me to make sure that I had it all right. The pleats really help the dress to flatter, because there is no pulling across my belly.

StyleARC Jessica dress

I highly recommend this pattern if you are looking for a knit dress that has some special touches. It is quite fast to construct, with only five pattern pieces (including the back neck binding piece). The front folds back to finish the neckline with self-facing pieces that are sewn into the shoulder seams, giving a lovely clean finish. I used Vliesofix tape and a twin needle to secure the skirt and sleeve hems.

StyleARC Jessica dress

And although the neckline does plunge, it doesn’t really expose all that much as it isn’t too wide. It would be simple to secure it with a few judiciously placed stitches if need be. The fabric is from a newly discovered bargain fabric shop, Super Cheap Fabrics in Sydney Rd, Brunswick, where Italian wool coatings were $10 per metre and everything else in the shop $3 per metre….

StyleARC Jessica dress

I’ll definitely be giving this pattern another whirl!  I think that you could do some really interesting things with colour blocking the top and skirt too.