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.

2014-04-12 10.29.39

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….

the new(ish) Vogue patterns

There have been a few round-ups on the web of people’s thoughts on the latest crop of Vogue patterns.  I am always rather fascinated to see which patterns people love, and which ones they dismiss.  I have come to the conclusion that most of us filter the patterns according to whether they fit with our own style aesthetic, body shape and lifestyle – which makes sense, of course!  These are the ones that I really like from the last lot (and they are often the ones that others have criticised).

Vogue 1396

There is usually something that I find to like in most of the DKNY patterns – especially the fact that there is often a little rectangle in Vogue’s “figure flattery” box!  This has room to play with interesting fabric combinations.  I’m also interested to see how it is constructed.  Don’t be surprised if this pattern somehow creeps its way into my collection at some stage.

Vogue 1401

When you look at the line drawing this is actually quite similar to the Tessuti Eva dress, that I have made twice before.  I like the sleeves and the relaxed shaping, as well as the detail on the front.  I think the instructions would be an enjoyable read, even if I didn’t actually make the dress!

Vogue 1390

This is the view that I prefer from this pattern, and it’s the only view that wasn’t photographed.  Those are lots of tucks on the front, I love the v-neckline, and the pattern has the potential for loads of interesting fabric combinations and fabric or colour blocking.  The overall shape is somewhat reminiscent of Vogue 8805, a pattern that I have now used four times.

Vogue 9005

I’m sure that I have seen this pattern bagged on a few other sewing blogs, but I really like it!  All three views!  It’s just the sort of thing that I would like to wear in summer.

Vogue 1395

It was actually the line drawing that interested me in this style.  I love the gathered details and the tie in the front.  It’s not quite the sort of thing that I usually wear but it has definite possibilities.

There are others that I appreciate, but these are the ones that I would consider purchasing for myself.  There are plenty of pretty dresses with fitted bodices and fuller skirts (whether gathered or flared or circle) and plenty of defined waists.  The most divine bias cut slip and matching robe.  Some wonderful uses of lace overlays, and dresses with seamlines that allow for plenty of fitting opportunities.

So basically, I have just presented to you the best of the new Vogue patterns from the perspective of a mid-forties, plump, short, works out of the home two days per week, Australian woman.

Figgy’s Celestial Pullover

One of the reasons why Clare wanted a simple, fitted long-sleeved tee was so that she’d have something to wear under her new jumper – the Figgy’s Celestial Pullover.

Figgy's Celestial Pullover

Clare chose the acrylic jumper knit when we were in at Darn Cheap Fabrics a week or two ago. The original plan was for her to sew it herself, after having a lesson on using the overlocker. In the end she chose to make yet more bracelets from rainbow loom bands, while I sewed it for her.

Figgy's Celestial Pullover

Like the other pieces I’ve sewn from the Figgy’s Heavenly Bundled Collection it was very fast to cut and construct. One pattern piece for the front, one for the back, one for the collar. Oh, there is also a pattern piece for side seam pockets, but Clare didn’t particularly want those, which made it even more speedy to sew.  I’ve now sewn five of the seven patterns included in the Collection, so it’s been well worth purchasing.

Figgy's Celestial Pullover

Clare’s jumper is size 8/9, the largest size, with no alterations. Construction was all on the overlocker, with hems finished with a simple zig-zag on the machine. I like the longer back hem length, as does Clare.

Figgy's Celestial Pullover

I hope that this has kept her cosy during her week away on camp – she’ll be home in a couple of hours and I’m so looking forward to seeing her and hearing all about it! I collected Stella from her Grandparents’ house this morning, and it is wonderful to have her home too. Although my husband and I have had an enjoyable time eating out for dinner while the girls have been away (Lebanese one night, Thai the next, Moroccan the day after) the house has been terribly quiet without them. It’s been great to have them so well looked after while we worked the first week of school holidays, but it will be even better for me to have next week off to spend some time with my girls.

simple stripes

Another simple long-sleeved tee to add to Clare’s winter wardrobe.

Crafty Mamas May-Belle Tee (with straightened sleeve)

It’s a beautiful quality cotton/lycra knit that Karen gave to me. You have seen it before – Stella has a top in it.  The pattern is the Crafty Mamas May-Belle, but with straight sleeves. That was easily done by laying the gathered lower sleeve pattern piece at the end of the upper sleeve pattern piece to see how much length needed to be added, while keeping the lines of the sleeve slim..

Crafty Mamas May-Belle Tee (with straightened sleeve)

It’s a nice slim fit without being tight, which is great for layering. Construction was the usual overlocker tee method – one shoulder seam, attach neckband, other shoulder seam, attach sleeves, sew up the side and sleeve seam in one pass. I secured the hems and the neckband with a simple zig-zag. Not much more to say about this one really!

Crafty Mamas May-Belle Tee (with straightened sleeve)

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

Figgy’s Seraphic Raglan

Clare has been growing!  Getting older, getting taller, and growing out of many of last winter’s clothes.  Not the width, but the length of the sleeves and the lengths of the hems.  So I made her a couple of new long-sleeved tees.  The first was the Figgy’s Seraphic Raglan.

Figgy's Seraphic Raglan Tee

This is a straightforward raglan tee with a small chest pocket. The sleeve seams are very nicely shaped, and I always appreciate the ease of sewing sleeves into raglan tops! I simplified the pocket even further from the pattern to make a straightforward patch pocket with a slightly curved bottom, and attached it to the tee with a simple zig zag in a contrasting thread.

Figgy's Seraphic Raglan Tee

I used the same thread and simple zig zag to secure the neck band after attaching it with the overlocker (all construction was done on the overlocker) and used the zig zag on all the hems as well. My machine skipped a few stitches while zig-zagging, which didn’t make me very happy – and it was even a new needle! It might be time for some machine maintenance again. Time to defluff everything and to get out the machine oil!

Figgy's Seraphic Raglan Tee

This is the size 8/9, with no alterations. The white knit was somewhere in stash, and the stripes were a beautiful quality knit remnant from one of Anna‘s projects. A very satisfying make.

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