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.


Style ARC Stella coat

Goodness, another brown garment!  Well, my theory was “sew all the brown things….”

Style Arc Stella coat in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This is the Style Arc Stella coat. Other than not being able to resist a garment named after my youngest daughter, I thought that it had the potential to work nicely in a knit (despite being drafted for wovens). Here is the Style Arc website line drawing and description.

This is a gorgeous wrap coat that is so comfortable to wear. Make it in wool and line it for a cosy winter look or as light weight linen and no lining for Spring/Summer.  FABRIC SUGGESTION & DESCRIPTION: Woven winter weight wool, velvet, or use linen, linen mix.

Firstly, I used a jacquard double knit, of a similar weight to a medium ponte.  I did fully line the coat in a viscose/lycra jersey.   Check this out!

Style Arc Stella coat in knit jacquard from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I used size 12 throughout. I know, I know, I should have made some petite alterations through the body – but I didn’t. And this is why I will usually wear this jacket left open, rather than belted closed. Here are some photos that give you a better idea as to why. First, belted (the short thick waist strikes again):

Style Arc Stella coat in knit jacquard from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Style Arc Stella coat in knit jacquard from Darn Cheap Fabrics

versus unbelted:

Style Arc Stella coat in knit jacquard from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Style Arc Stella coat in knit jacquard from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Okay, I always knew that I was never likely to tie that belt, and now I am convinced. I probably should have left off the belt loops completely. However, did you look at that fit across the back shoulders? And how nicely the collar sits up against my neck despite the scarf grappling with it?

Style Arc Stella coat in knit jacquard from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The fabric is from Darn Cheap Fabrics, but I think that it was bought last year. This coat sat in the cut-out-waiting-to-be-assembled tub for a little while. Sorry coat! I did have some challenges trying to figure out how to bag out the lining, especially at the hem where it meets the facing. Luckily for me (and with a little help from instagram) there were a few very helpful tutorials around – thanks to everyone who helped out in that regard! In the end user error was the main culprit causing my difficulties, and once I had done some judicious unpicking and slowed myself down and worked through the tutorials set by step the corners worked out very nicely.

Style Arc Stella coat - bagged lining detail

I’m very glad that I lined this – it just finishes things so much more nicely than if I hadn’t, especially for a winter/transseasonal coat! There is a pleat in the centre back to allow for movement.

Style Arc Stella coat - inside with full lining

The coat is top-stitched along the front and collar edges, around the edges of the belt, and along the back yoke seam. The only interfaced section is the collar.

Style Arc Stella coat in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

When I was at Melbourne Frocktails on the weekend (blog post to come on my sequinned dress) I was asked how many hours I spend per day/per week sewing. I have to admit that this coat took quite a while. I estimate a few hours on the cutting alone – maybe three or four – and possibly around ten on construction. There are a lot of seams, a full lining, and a for me a few challenges in getting the bagged lining right. And doing the pockets – did I mention that there are pockets in those side seams?

Style Arc Stella coat in knit jacquard from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Anyway, the end verdict is that I am thrilled with what is essentially a “very wearable muslin” (considering that I made a straight size 12 without alteration and cut out a while ago when slimmer, assuming that the miracles of stretch fabric would assist where needed). This is a fairly close fitting garment, but eminently comfortable in the fabric that I chose.  My biggest dilemma now is what to do with the belt/loops – currently I have tied the belt in the centre back fairly loosely and am wearing it open. I can tell that this will get plenty of use.

Style Arc Stella coat in knit jacquard from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Take a look at Anne’s beautiful wool version – exquisitely tailored and fitted.  And see, not everything that I make is super fast or super simple – I do have mad skillz after all!

another Harper and another A-line Skirt

Another couple of pattern repeats!  One you haven’t seen for a while, the other you have.  (And look, some photographic variety – today you get the lemon tree instead of the wall!  At least this time there isn’t any washing on the clothesline behind the tree….)

Style Arc Harper jacket with You Sew Girl! A-line Skirt

The jacket is the Style Arc Harper jacket, in a divine Gorman wool knit from Clear It in Fitzroy (MaciNic has just blogged a dress made from the same fabric. Great minds and all of that). This is one of those fabrics that I wish I’d bought more of – it’s a single knit (not a ponte) but is a decent weight, and just delightful to sew and to wear. It has black flecks through it that really give it a rich appearance. Lovely!  (Would it make you laugh if I mentioned that when I bought this fabric at Clear It while on a Melbourne sewing meet-up recently the sales assistant said “whoa!” in a highly astonished but impressed voice as I tossed my fabric purchases onto the counter?)

Style Arc Harper jacket with You Sew Girl! A-line Skirt

I left off the hooks, knowing that I wasn’t likely to wear this one closed, and honestly it took about an hour to sew. So fast! I did hem the edges, turning them once to the inside and using a zig-zag stitch right on the edge to secure them. The rest of the construction was on the overlocker.

Style Arc Harper jacket with You Sew Girl! A-line Skirt

Once again I have had these photos taken at the end of a work day, so there are some creases showing. There is no suggestion that this blog doesn’t show you the reality of my everyday life! The skirt is also a new make, but the pattern an old favourite. It’s the A-line skirt from You Sew, Girl! I think it is the best A-line skirt pattern out there.

Style Arc Harper jacket with You Sew Girl! A-line Skirt

The fabric is from Rathdowne Fabrics, and I lined the skirt as well. Why do I love this pattern so much? Well, the invisible zipper instructions are superb. They are my go-to instructions for anything with an invisible zipper and a facing. Check this out!

You Sew Girl! A-line skirt - invisible zip

Oh, I lined this skirt although the instructions don’t include lining – it’s not hard, I just cut out the skirt pattern pieces in the lining and attached them to the skirt pieces around the top, leaving the sides and hem free, then basically treated them as one with the rest of the skirt. The yoke is faced, and finishes the waistline beautifully. I do my cheats method of altering for my thick waist by slicing an inch or so from the top of the yoke. This makes it narrower, but effectively grades between my thick waist and proportionately narrower hips. This is also a variation to the pattern because I have shifted the zipper from centre back to the side seam in order to not break up the textured weave as much. Now, check out my zipper and seam matching! HOW GOOD AM I!  And when the skirt is worn or lies flat you cannot see the zipper at all.  Win to me!

You Sew Girl! A-line skirt - invisible zip

Okay, I got a little overexcited there. This is such an easy skirt to wear, and I like the knee-length for work. The top is a McCalls one made quite a long time ago. It works so well with the skirt and jacket; I’m glad that it survived my most recent wardrobe purge!

Style Arc Harper jacket with You Sew Girl! A-line Skirt

Oh yes, I feel so good in this combination! This is absolutely my go-to A-line skirt pattern. Maybe I should try a shorter version for summer – although it would show off the lily-whites even more! Speaking of lily-white, those stocking are a TERRIBLE colour – after looking at these photos I can tell you they are going straight into the bin. I usually would wear this outfit with brown tights and boots, but thought I’d switch it up a bit today. Live and learn! Anyway, only a few more of the “brown things” left to show you – I’ve moved on to sewing sequins and satin jumpsuits….

Style Arc Harper jacket with You Sew Girl! A-line Skirt

Vogue 8982 – Marcy Tilton jacket

It’s happened.  I’ve become a fan of what is apparently now called art-teacher chic.  It’s right up my alley!  And the doyennes of art-teacher chic, at least in the pattern-making world that I inhabit, appear to be the sisters Marcy and Katherine Tilton.  Marcy designs for Vogue, and Katherine formerly Vogue but now for Butterick.  This jacket is one of Marcy’s designs.  It is Vogue 8982.

Vogue 8982

Vogue describe it thus: Loose-fitting, unlined jacket or vest has front extending into back collar, front darts, back extending to lower side front, no side seams, and shaped hemline, wrong side may show. B: sleeves with slit, narrow hem and topstitching by hand. D: mock front band, stitched hems, back cut on crosswise grain.  And the line drawing:

I sewed view A, in size 12, in ponte.  I did make petite adjustments at the “shorten/lengthen here” lines on the pattern, and I’m glad that I did.  Construction was quite straightforward, and was primarily on the overlocker, although I used the sewing machine for the darts, top-stitching and blind hemming.

Vogue 8982

I am SO happy with the fit across the back. And look at those beautiful curved seams! This would look fantastic colour blocked.

Vogue 8982

After some instagram input I decided on three buttons, but had to go to the shops to find some. These blend quite nicely, without being a perfect match. The collar sits away from my neck a little, and it buttons fairly high up. I’m not completely happy with the front hemline – I used fusible tape to stabilise it but it hasn’t worked as well as I would like. I would have been better just hand-stitching in place. Anyway, this is a very comfortable jacket (you know that comfort is always a priority for me) and it matches my Laura dress perfectly! I have seen some beautiful renditions of this pattern in linen, and will put a linen version on my summer sewing list. Interestingly, the pattern is drafted differently for knits and for wovens, which was rather considerate of Vogue! The vest is rather lovely too.

Vogue 8982

These photos were all taken at the end of a long work day, so the jacket has clearly worn quite well.  This pattern is a brilliant addition to my library.


Style Arc Dotty blouse

I’ve been on a brown sewing binge.  A couple of weeks ago I pulled all the brown garments from the cut-out-ready-to-sew tub, and lined them up on the cutting table.   I threaded up the overlocker and the sewing machine in dark brown thread, and began.  While I recovered from my URTI, I sewed up brown things.  All of the brown things!  One of them was in my last blog post (the Sunny knit top) and here is another.  Be warned though, there are plenty more!

2014-08-31 12.33.31

The Style Arc Dotty blouse has been waiting to be sewn up for a little while. There are lots of blouses like this one around in the shops and I notice that McCalls has just released a similar pattern. I really like the way that the front turns up and the high-low hemline. Style Arc say:  This is a clever pattern that creates the beautiful draping at the front while leaving the back as a regular shirt.  Wear it with a camisole or use a press stud to close the x over at the front. You will love this top!  And the pattern illustration:

I think that Style Arc have done a beautiful job with this pattern.  There are some details that I think set it apart form the McCalls version – the double layered back yoke with central gathers; the tucks at the neckline on the front, and the sleeves gathered into cuffs.  And best of all, the v-neckline sits in place quite safely on me without a press-stud to secure it (although I will still wear a camisole underneath for extra security – I don’t really want to flash my bra to the world).

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I sewed a straight size 12 without any modifications, and don’t actually think that it really needs any other maybe shortening the sleeves half an inch or so. The self-facings along the front are just the right width to sit nicely, and all of the drafting is spot-on. The instructions are a bit lacking in some places, particularly where they omit to tell you to finish the back neckline. I bagged out the back yoke and back piece using the “burrito” technique. You need to make sure that back neckline is finished before attaching the front at the shoulders.

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The back hemline is curved, and I did a simple narrow hem after finishing it with the overlocker. Actually, I did that before sewing the side seams. The front is automatically “hemmed” because it is one long pattern piece that is folded in half, and the fold is at the hemline. You have to be careful when sewing to ensure that you sew the tucks on the correct sides and fold the facings the correct way so that once the front shoulders are aligned everything is on the correct side.

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Half of the front pattern piece shows the “wrong” side of the fabric in this style, so it must be made in a fabric that looks the same from both sides. I found this semi-sheer printed woven in deep stash. I think that it came from Spotlight many, many years ago. It also has a slight glisten to it, with a metallic thread woven through at intervals. I have always had trouble working out which is the right and wrong side, so thought that it would work beautifully in this style.

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Anne has also made this blouse, and it’s interesting to see it on our different body shapes. She wasn’t enamoured with it on her, although I think it looks rather pretty. However, I do think that it’s great worn loose on an “apple” like mine if you’re not interested in waist definition. This would be beautiful made in a silk, I think. Maybe a sleeveless version for summer?

2014-08-31 12.33.13

Style Arc Sunny knit top again

Another repeat!  This time it is the Style Arc Sunny top.  As described by Style Arc:  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!!

Last time I made this I used a placement print.  I feel great every time I wear it, so making the pattern up a second time was only logical.  The wide mid-section of the pattern matches mine, so there are no fitting issues!

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This is a garment that looks better in real life than in photos, because the shape is unusual. The body is very loose throughout the centre, but it does come in close at the hips, and the sleeves are also tight. This balances out the volume elsewhere. You get a better idea of the shape in this photo:

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The fabric is a stretchy knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics – it wasn’t on the $2 table but I think it was in a $4 bin! It’s rather shiny and sparkly in the light. I really bought it as a bit of an experiment and was quite ambivalent about it but have since discovered that it is rather lovely to wear and fairly straightforward to sew. The leftovers will be turning into a Myrtle dress at some stage.

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I think that I said last time that you really do need a fabric that is quite stretchy and possibly slinky/drapey to make this top successfully. I don’t think that it would work well in a cotton/lycra, for example. A rayon knit would be fine – so would a silk! And I wonder if you could make it from a woven if you still used a knit for the arms and ensured that the neck opening was wide enough to get it over your head easily. Hmmmm.

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You know, this pattern might even get a third outing. Great for the “apple” shape such as myself!  The pants are Style Arc Elle pants in a stretch woven, by the way.