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….

Style Arc Tia Knit Wrap Dress

As regular readers of my blog know, I love a knit.  I love a dress.  I love a wrap.  And I especially love a knit wrap dress – even better when it is not REALLY a wrap dress and will fly open exposing leg whenever a breeze passes by, but is a “faux” wrap that has a full skirt piece underneath.

Style Arc Tia Knit Wrap Dress in fabric from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This is the Style Arc Tia. The description says: This is a designer wrap dress that is easy to make and easy to wear. Make it in stripe jersey for an eye popping look or choose a plain jersey for a more understated feel. The all in one sleeve and shaped front overlay gives this wrap dress a point of difference to this timeless style.  

How could I NOT make this in a stripe, when the illustration showed how effectively a stripe could be used and when the pattern pieces had placement markings on them to make it even easier?  This stripe cotton/spandex from Darn Cheap Fabrics was just the ticket for this dress.  Substantial without being heavy, and not super-drapey or super-clingly.  Just right for something fitted.  The rusty orange/red of the stripes really appealed to me too.

Style Arc Tia Knit Wrap Dress in fabric from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I made size 12, my usual Style Arc top/dress size. However, it’s a bit too tight through the mid-section for my apple shape, which is particularly evident when I look at these photos of the back. I am currently in the process of losing some weight, so by the time that summer really hits I think it will be fine. Otherwise I need to remember to cut it a bit larger through the middle if I make it again. I shortened it a few inches at the hemline, but otherwise didn’t alter anything. Half an inch out of the back bodice length would probably have been a good idea, however.  The shoulder curve keeps the extended sleeve sitting in the right place, and the neckline also sits smoothly and doesn’t gape. I actually followed the instructions and stabilised the neckline with elastic before turning it to the inside and twin needling. It’s worked rather well.

Style Arc Tia Knit Wrap Dress in fabric from Darn Cheap Fabrics

But check out that stripe matching! High fives to me! I took much more time cutting this dress out than I did in sewing it, in fact. There are only four pattern pieces – the back, the front (cut twice), the skirt (cut twice) and the front skirt overlay. Each piece had to be cut separately with a great deal of care taken to match the stripes and keep them all running from thinner stripes at the top to thicker stripes below. The fabric isn’t symmetrically striped – take another look at it – so there was a definite “top” to it.

Style Arc Tia Knit Wrap Dress in fabric from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I left off the belt – why would I want to cover up those perfect stripe intersections? I used loads of pins to hold everything where I wanted it before basting on the sewing machine then whizzing the seam through the overlocker. Hems were stabilised then turned to the inside and stitched with a twin needle.

Style Arc Tia Knit Wrap Dress in fabric from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I’m fairly sure that I’ll sew this pattern again, maybe in a print (which would be super fast to cut as well as to sew). It will be a great pattern for the warmer days when I don’t want to wear one of my usual sack style dresses.

Style Arc Carly jumpsuit

While I was making “fun” items, I made a jumpsuit.  Yes, a jumpsuit.  On a plump, short forty-six year old woman.  Quite different to Debbie in her recent vintage jumpsuit pattern mashup!

Style Arc Carly Jumpsuit in fabric from Darn Cheap Fabrics

What the heck, I say! Why not! In fact, why not make it in animal printed polyester satin from the Darn Cheap Fabrics $2 table?  Despite the recommended fabrics being crepe, rayon or silk?  Anne, I thought of you when I stroked that satin!

Style Arc Carly Jumpsuit in fabric from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Why not go absolutely all out! If making a “wearable muslin”, you may as well have fun with it!

Style Arc Carly Jumpsuit in fabric from Darn Cheap Fabrics

So, for the pattern diagram and description of the Carly Jumpsuit from the Style Arc website.

This very stylish jumpsuit features a cross-over blouson bodice with tucks falling from the shoulder line, into the channelled elastic waistline. This pant has no side seams. Optional welt pockets and a false fly.

Because I was making a hopefully wearable muslin, I left out the welt pockets and the false fly. It just made it all much faster. I had issues with the waistline casing – trying to follow the instructions there was rather disastrous. The casing just wasn’t wide enough to do what was requested. It needed to be at least double the pattern piece!  In the end I folded the casing width in half around the elastic then sewed the casing into the bodice and pants seam as I joined the two together. This means that on the outside of the jumpsuit you just see the bodice/pants seam – when not covered by a belt – but on the inside there is a narrow piece of fabric containing elastic. Clear as mud? It also means that this is probably shorter through the bodice than intended, but that isn’t a problem at my height.  The lack of side seams and subsequent impact on grain makes the legs twist around a bit, which is pretty obvious because of the darker wavy lines in the print.

Style Arc Carly Jumpsuit in fabric from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I sewed size 12, my usual Style Arc top/dress size (I often make a 10 in pants). I think the sizing runs pretty much true to the average Australian ready to wear. There’s no hiding the lower body bulges in this style – especially in this fabric. The bodice is slightly blousy, and it needs to be so that you can get the jumpsuit on and off! I find it quite easy to get into but I really do have to wriggle a little to get out of it. The neckline is pinned closed in these photos. I need to replace the pin with a proper snap! You can’t sew it shut or else you could never get it on or off. I shortened the pants quite a bit both above and below the knee, as I usually do. Otherwise there are no alterations.

Style Arc Carly Jumpsuit in fabric from Darn Cheap Fabrics

When I walked out in this my husband said “NO”. The kids liked it. A quick instagram/email poll of my sewing friends was divided, but mostly positive. I think that this jumpsuit would be great in a draper fabric, such as a rayon or silk crepe de chine. I would also feel better in it a couple of kilos lighter. But either way, I’m glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone and just gave this a go! Now I wonder if I will actually WEAR it?

a little bit of colour….

I am often heard saying “I do like a little bit of colour”.  Actually, I rather like quite a lot of it.  That’s not to say that I don’t also sew and wear neutrals, because I do, but I find it very difficult to resist purchasing fabrics like this one.

Tessuti Tokyo Jacket in digitally printed poly crepe from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Bright digitally printed polyester crepe – so bright that it is close to fluorescent! I came across this fabric at Darn Cheap Fabrics early in the year. It was in the remnant basket practically begging me to take it home – so I did. I have taken quite a while deciding what it should become, and in the end chose the Tessuti Tokyo Jacket.

Tessuti Tokyo Jacket in digitally printed poly crepe from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I used up every scrap of my fabric making this jacket. I went with my measurements and cut out the Large, but would possibly size down to a Medium if I made it again. I might make it again – it’s that bit more structured and shaped than many of the kimono style jackets that are very fashionable at the moment, and because of the collar band it stays nicely on my shoulders. The pockets are an unusual touch, but not hard to construct. Especially if you slow down and read the instructions!  The sleeves are a dolman style, cut in one with the body of the jacket.  The website description is as follows: Our Tokyo Jacket is a loose fitting, relaxed jacket with three-quarter length magyar sleeves. The neckline, cuffs and pockets are trimmed with a band that provides smart and simple detailing. This jacket is suitable for all ages and can be dressed up or down. Best made up in drapey fabrics such as viscose, polyester, wool crepe as well as medium weight silk. Not suitable for jersey fabrics.

Tessuti Tokyo Jacket in digitally printed poly crepe from Darn Cheap Fabrics

There wasn’t enough fabric for me to really play around with print placement, so it is what it is. I’d have preferred it if the dominant bird wasn’t doubled up in the way that it is, but beggars can’t be choosers. The cuffs mirror the pocket fold nicely, and overall construction was straightforward. Most was done on the overlocker, with topstitching on the machine. The fabric behaved surprisingly well during cutting, construction and pressing. This pattern would be gorgeous sewn in silk crepe de chine.

Tessuti Tokyo Jacket in digitally printed poly crepe from Darn Cheap Fabrics

So there you go – more than a little bit of colour, and definitely a great way to keep the fun in what I wear.

animal Myrtle

The name Myrtle makes me think of florals and gentle colours.  Not animal print.  Especially not shiny animal print.

Colette Myrtle in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This was a second sew of the Colette Myrtle dress. Last time I sewed size Large, and was intending to sew the Medium this time. But I forgot. Oh well. It’s still quite wearable! I did make one substantial change,however. I cut the back bodice piece twice and lined the bodice completely, rather than just at the front. This meant that I didn’t need to bind the back neckline or armholes.  I did take around an inch out of the neckline when I cut the back bodice pieces by shifting the pattern piece across the fold at the neckline edge.

Colette Myrtle in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

(Oh my, that double chin! Eek!) I altered the construction by sewing the back bodice outer and lining together at the back neckline. Then I sewed the front and back together at the shoulder seams, outers together and inners together. The next thing was to finish the armhole seams. I laid the top down with the right sides out then rolled one armhole back around to meet its counterpart right sides together – the burrito method that is often used for yokes. I sewed around the armhole, pulled everything back around the right way, then repeated the process on the other side. After that it was a simple matter of sewing up the side seams with the front and back outers right sides together up to the armhole and the front and back linings right sides together as well. Oh, I should have photographed the process, but many of you will get the general gist of things. I should have stabilised the armholes and the back neck with fusible tape before sewing, but I didn’t and they grew a little bit. I was rushing and being lazy. Live and learn.

Colette Myrtle in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The front neckline drapes beautifully in this fabric. I love the way that the cowl falls in a V shape. I took a fairly deep hem and sewed it to just above the knee. The elastic in the waistline casing is very soft and quite wide, which makes it very comfortable to wear. It sits fairly high up, even on my short torso.

Colette Myrtle in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

So there she is, my animal print Myrtle! The fabric is a very soft and stretchy knit and came from Darn Cheap Fabrics. A very satisfying sew.

Colette Myrtle in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics