adult's clothing · DCF Challenge · sewing

Seasonal challenge – Style Arc Lara Jane dress

This season Emma and I decided to tweak things a little bit for our seasonal challenge*.  Rather than both sewing the same fabric (from Darn Cheap Fabrics), we decided to sew the same pattern!  The pattern that we chose to sew was the Style Arc Lara Jane dress/top.

Style Arc Lara Jane dress in rayon from The Cloth Shop

I suspect that many of you may have twigged by now that the lovely women over at Style Arc actually named this dress after me! I feel extremely honoured and flattered. And fortunately – I love the dress!

Style Arc Lara Jane dress in rayon from The Cloth Shop

These photos really would have benefitted from a background that wasn’t pretty much the same colour as my arms! They blend into it and it makes it difficult to see the overall lines of the dress. From the Style Arc website:  This gorgeous “cold shoulder” dress features a feminine frilled sleeve which is perfect for all occasions. Make it in a silk for that special occasion or in rayon for a casual shift dress. As an option this dress can be made with or without the sleeve. Why not turn it into a cold shoulder top? FABRIC SUGGESTION: Silk, rayon, crepe or any soft woven fabric.

lara-jane-dress

I sewed this in size 12, but added a bit more room to the front for my tummy by cutting it a bit wider from the bust darts down.  I’m glad that I did.  I don’t think that I made any alterations to the pattern length.  The fabric is a beautifully geometrically striped rayon from The Cloth Shop.  It was lovely to sew, but did cause me a few dramas in cutting out as I did my best to centre the print and line up the stripes.  They’re not completely perfect down the centre back, but I suspect that only another sewer would notice!

Style Arc Lara Jane dress in rayon from The Cloth Shop

I can usually get most dresses and tops over my pin head without having to undo buttons (so I often leave out centre back openings and their closures) but this dress does actually benefit from having the opening. I can just get it on without it – but not without messing up my hairdo and/or makeup!

Style Arc Lara Jane dress in rayon from The Cloth Shop

I chose to do the topstitching in the same cream colour that is in the print, but in hindsight – mostly after looking at these photos – wish that I’d chosen one of the other colours. The cream stands out that little bit more than I would prefer. The only slightly fiddly part of sewing this dress is doing the narrow hems around the bottom of the sleeve flounces. I just turned a narrow hem twice and stitched it, but there are lots of tutorials around for turning very narrow hems that would probably have given an even nicer and more precise finish. I’ve read those tutorials and instructions – I’ve just never taken the time to follow them!

Style Arc Lara Jane dress in rayon from The Cloth Shop

The sleeve cut out is bound with bias binding on the inside, which encloses the edge of the sleeve and flounce and joins them together. Once again, it’s a little bit fiddly but isn’t difficult. Other than that, this was an extremely easy dress to sew.

Style Arc Lara Jane dress in rayon from The Cloth Shop

So you know what pattern Emma has used for this season’s challenge – but what version of the pattern did she sew, and in what fabric? Pop over to her blog and take a look!  From the sneaky peeks on Instagram I know that it will be wonderful.

Style Arc Lara Jane dress in rayon from The Cloth Shop

And as for me – I’m very pleased at how this dress has turned out. It’s comfortable, with plenty of ease through the mid-section, without being very voluminous. The sleeve cutouts are still on trend, but don’t actually extend to the shoulders and interfere with bra wearing. It feels a bit special – not surprising considering that the pattern bears my name! Thanks again, Style Arc!

Style Arc Lara Jane dress in rayon from The Cloth Shop

Emma and I started the DCF Seasonal Challenge a year or two ago – we buy  a couple of metres of the same fabric from Darn Cheap Fabrics each season, and each make a garment.  We then reveal it on our blogs on the same day.  It’s just a fun thing that we started when we realised how often we buy and sew the same fabrics (often from Darn Cheap).  This season we’re using the same pattern, rather than the same fabric!

adult's clothing · sewing

Style Arc Patricia Rose dress

This recent Style Arc pattern was a no-brainer for me.  V neckline, no waist definition – just what I love!

Style Arc Patricia Rose dress in hand-woven Thai cotton

This is the Style Arc Patricia Rose dress. From the website: Feel comfortable and look great in this gorgeous V-neck dress. The under-bust horizontal tuck is enhanced by the front inverted pleat, side in-seam pockets and roll-up sleeves. This is a loose fitting garment and therefore has considerable positive ease. FABRIC SUGGESTION Linen, crepe, rayon.

patricia-rose-dress

This was an easy dress to sew. As always, it is impeccably drafted and all the pieces fit together exactly as they should. I sewed size 12. And yes, as always, I should probably have considered adding a sway back adjustment. But I didn’t.

Style Arc Patricia Rose dress in hand-woven Thai cotton

This is another fabric souvenir dress. I bought the green striped hand-woven cotton on my last visit to Chiang Mai. Thanks again Gaye for doing all the reconnaissance for me and finding such wonderful little shops that sell such wonderful fabrics! I absolutely adore this one – and it’s just perfect for this dress.

Style Arc Patricia Rose dress in hand-woven Thai cotton

The V neckline is faced, and sits very nicely. I really like that tuck as well. The bust darts originating from the armhole seem to work well with my C cup too. And the sleeves! Great length for autumn or spring weather, and the cuffs are simple to sew but add a lovely detail.

Style Arc Patricia Rose dress in hand-woven Thai cotton

The hem is also fairly wide, which I rather like. It’s hemmed to pattern length which on me is right on the bend of the knee. I think that any longer would mess with the proportions. There are also side seam pockets. Often I leave them out of dresses, as I find that they just weight them down, but they work quite well in this one. I did most of the sewing on the machine but finished edges on the overlocker. Good thing that I have bright green overlocker thread!  Those cute embroidered shoes came from Chiang Mai as well.

Style Arc Patricia Rose dress in hand-woven Thai cotton

I feel happy when I look at photos of this dress, and it’s been very comfortable to wear. Another Style Arc winner!

children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · tween

Hey June Woodstock swing tee

As regular readers of my blog know, I’ve had a lot of success with Hey June patterns for tees for the girls.  When the free Woodstock swing tee pattern because available I thought that I’d give it a go as well!  I printed out the pattern, taped it together, then quickly cut out and sewed up a tee for Clare in size 12, the size I’ve used for her in the past.

Hey June Woodstock swing tee size 12 in cotton spandex from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Um, no! She could get it on, but it was very fitted through the chest and shoulders and the armpits were uncomfortably high. Fortunately, we have a smaller model available.

Hey June Woodstock swing tee size 12 in cotton spandex from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Now, that’s better! Stella was the very happy recipient of this tee. The fabric is cotton/spandex, soft and stretchy, originally from Darn Cheap Fabrics. It was left over from a previous project – my husband has a tee in the same fabric.

Hey June Woodstock swing tee size 12 in cotton spandex from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This tee has a lovely shape, with gentle swing through the body and a high-low hem with what I consider to be just the right amount of curve. There are a minimal number of pattern pieces – front, back, cap sleeve, neckband. And it’s all sewn on the overlocker. Hems were topstitched on the sewing machine.

Hey June Woodstock swing tee size 12 in cotton spandex from Darn Cheap Fabrics

By this stage I was really wondering what was going on with sizing. I printed off another copy of the pattern and this time I cut out a size 16.

Hey June Woodstock swing tee size 16 in cotton knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

So much better! This time the fabric is a cotton jersey (no spandex/lycra in this one), also from Darn Cheap Fabrics. It’s the leftovers from one of my tee shirts!

Hey June Woodstock swing tee size 16 in cotton knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

So by now I was in a huge quandary about what had happened with the sizing. It’s a pattern range I’ve used before and found to be consistent. I checked that the pattern had printed at the right size by measuring the one inch printed square, and it had. And then I emailed the designer! She was lovely and responded quickly – she hadn’t found the sizing to be inconsistent at all in the tees that she had sewn for her kids. Now, remember that this IS a free pattern, and it’s well drafted, and all the pattern pieces fit together nicely. I am putting it down to fabric choice. Let’s go back and read the pattern description.

Screen Shot 2017-11-03 at 1.19.36 pm

See that bit where it says “at least 30% stretch”?  I don’t think that my fabric choices met that requirement.  The cotton spandex black and white eyes print has a nice amount of stretch, but not the amount that a rayon spandex for example would have.  And the cotton jersey pineapple print has relatively minimal stretch.  This pattern is designed to be quite fitted around the shoulders and chest.  There probably just wasn’t enough stretch in the size 12 for Clare! The pineapples definitely needed the size 16.

Hey June Woodstock swing tee size 16 in cotton knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

It’s always fascinating to see the ways that fabric/fibre choice affect the size and drape of finished garments (and I’ve actually got another example of that coming up soon with another couple of summer tees for Clare). I’ve been sewing for years and years and I’m still learning!

Hey June Woodstock swing tee size 12 in cotton spandex from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I really need to get a photo with father/younger daughter and mother/older daughter matching tee-shirts. Isn’t it our job to embarrass our kids?

adult's clothing · sewing

Cashmerette Webster dress

Often at the first release of a Cashmerette pattern I think “nah, a bit too conservative for me” or “not really my style”.  Then I think about it for a while – and then I often buy and sew one up, and I’m really pleased that I did.  For example, the Webster dress.

Cashmerette Webster dress in rayon batik from Bali

Oh, how I wish I’d remembered to put my lipstick on before these photos were taken! Anyway, I think that this dress is a win. The pattern comes with a top and a dress version. I chose the dress as it takes less coordination and I prefer to wear a sleeveless dress rather than a sleeveless top in really hot weather – the tops require a skirt or pants,  and if it’s really hot I don’t want a waistband.

Cashmerette Webster dress in rayon batik from Bali

From the website: Turn heads in the Webster Top and Dress! Featuring a hi-low hem and playful crossover back, this elegant design can be made as either a tunic or a knee-length dress. The V-neck bodice is bra-friendly and semi-fitted, while the flowy, unfitted skirt is perfect for dancing. Intended for lightweight wovens, turn the Webster into a breezy festival top with cotton lawn or a slinky party dress with silk charmeuse. RECOMMENDED FABRIC:Lightweight woven fabric such as rayon, voile, silk or crepe de chine.

alltechdrawshopfiy-11_550x

I chose to sew size 12 C/D, as that seems to be “my” Cashmerette size.  I didn’t make any alterations – next time I sew this I would shorten it.  I feel that it’s a bit too long for my 158cm height. The armholes and neckline are finished with an all-in-one facing, and it sits beautifully when I wear it.

Cashmerette Webster dress in rayon batik from Bali

I am pretty impressed at how bra-friendly this dress actually is! I really like V necklines, and both the front and back V of this dress are quite deep yet no bra is revealed (and my bra isn’t a skimpy one). The cross over straps on the back are a really pretty feature, but they also act to keep the dress anchored and where it should be.

Cashmerette Webster dress in rayon batik from Bali

I used a rayon batik sarong I’d bought in Bali for the dress. It’s got just the right amount of flow, and plenty of happy memories! I like that this dress feels loose but it isn’t too huge. Lots of movement as it ripples when I walk. And as always, I like the high-low hemline. I’ll be sad when they are completely out of fashion!

Cashmerette Webster dress in rayon batik from Bali

Another great pattern from Cashmerette – and another good illustration of how you can make a style your own through your fabric choice.  If you want to sew this dress (or the top version) the instructions are quite comprehensive, and there is also a sewalong on the Cashmerette website.

adult's clothing · Lekala · sewing · tween

Tangled

This is a way overdue post – I sewed this dress/costume for Clare some months ago, for a Girl Guides event.  The theme was Disney; Clare wanted to go as Rapunzel – specifically, the “version” from Tangled. For reference:

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with sewing costumes. They are often a great deal of work, and often a fair bit of expense in fabric cost. But once the girls are all dressed up in their costumes and grinning from ear to ear, it is SO satisfying! The costumes I’ve made in the past have all been worn until they’ve no longer fitted (and any that I make for Clare are then worn by Stella) so when I weigh it up they are actually a worthwhile garment to make. There may be some Cosplay sewing in my future, I suspect.

Rapunzel/Tangled costume McCalls 6420

So, on to costume details. We figured out the key elements of the costume, and looked for a pattern that contained most of them. McCalls 6420 included patterns for both Women and Girls, but nothing for tween/teen sizes. However, it did provided us with a basis to adapt.

Rapunzel/Tangled costume McCalls 6420

I took a look at the smallest Women’s pattern pieces, and knew that there was absolutely no way that the bodice was going to work on Clare. I could adapt the sleeve and skirt patterns without much hassle, but not that bodice. Over to Lekala I went! Rapunzel/Tangled costume Lekala 5017

Lekala 5017 provided the basis for the dress bodice and vest. We’d decided to sew the dress all in one with the skirt and sleeves attached to it, then the corset-style vest over it. I figured that I could use the same pattern pieces for both. I altered the neckline of the Lekala pattern pieces and redrew the hemline into a point to match the illustrations and the skirt piece on the pattern pieces, then cut into some quilting cotton to sew the vest.

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

Lekala is really wonderful for the non-standard shape. I could tell straight away that this was going to work without too much drama and alteration.

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

The front of the vest is quilting cotton, and the back is cotton drill. The vest is fully lined – I used the same quilting cotton as the central skirt panel. This costume was constructed in bits and pieces over a couple of weeks. The sleeves were fun to make. I used the McCalls pattern pieces as a base.

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

The purple stripes on the upper puffed sleeve are strips of ribbon sewn to the base fabric. The lower sleeve is pale pink stretch mesh. You can see how much I had to pin out of it to make it fitted to Clare’s arm.  I completed both sleeves, ready to be attached to the bodice, then laid them aside and moved on to the skirt.

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

I used poly satin from Spotlight for the skirt. There is a hell of a lot of fabric in that skirt, and consequently a hell of a lot of gathering! The centre front skirt panel is quilting cotton. The stretch lace trim used throughout came from Darn Cheap Fabrics.

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

The bodice fabric was also a poly satin from Spotlight, but was definitely much nicer quality (and was also more expensive) than the fabric used for the skirt. I used the same pattern pieces for the bodice as for the vest, except I placed the centre front line on the fold. It is self-lined, with a zip down the back. I have to say that sewing the zip into place in poly satin was NO fun at all. It is covered by the vest when she has the entire costume on, but I still wanted it to be fairly well inserted!

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

Then it was back to the vest!  Time to learn how to insert eyelets.  After a few experiments with the setting tool that came with the pack of eyelets (which involved a hammer and breadboard) I suddenly remembered that somewhere in my stash of handy sewing equipment I owned a setting tool that squeezed the parts together – it’s the one with the orange handles in the photo below.  The other very handy tool was the one that cut the holes for the eyelets – the one with the red handles.  I think that I bought it at Bunnings a while ago.

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

The eyelets set in much more nicely than I’d anticipated – the practice ones on scrap fabric were definitely worthwhile.  We found some purple ribbon to lace through them, and then the costume was almost complete!

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

That laces up quite nicely!  Clare had ordered cheap hair extensions from eBay, and attached them to the bottom of her plait to add extra length.  The flowers were a couple of bunches from a $2 shop that we cut up and stuck into her hair at intervals.

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

So, there you go!  I present to you all, Rapunzel!

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

She was VERY pleased with her finished costume, and I think she makes a highly convincing Rapunzel!  It looks as though this costume is going to get another outing again at Guides soon in a Halloween-related activity.  Stella’s pretty pleased with it in anticipation as well.  I’m now starting to wonder what might be a fun costume to sew next…

Rapunzel/Tangled costume

 

adult's clothing · sewing

Liesl + Co Chai Tee – twice!

I love the name of this tee – it really does just roll off the tongue!

Liesl and Co Chai Tee in striped cotton spandex from Crafty Mamas

I sewed up the Liesl + Co Chai Tee shortly after release. All of Liesl Gibson’s patterns are beautifully drafted with excellent instructions, and this pattern was no exception. From the website: This simple and stylish pull-on top is much more than a basic tee. It has an easy fit and is as comfortable to wear as your favorite T-shirt, but it brings a touch of elegance to every day with its shoulder yokes and pleats and its feminine shaping. Leave the sleeves uncuffed (View A) or stitch the cuffs in place to secure them (View B). The pattern comes with separate pieces for A/B, C, and D cup sizes to help you make a great fitting shirt. Suggested Fabrics: Designed for lightweight cotton knit fabric with moderate stretch. This tee can also be sewn from drapey woven fabrics, but you may need to go up a size or two for a good fit.

Screen Shot 2017-10-22 at 10.25.40 am Screen Shot 2017-10-22 at 10.25.59 am

Liesl and Co Chai Tee in striped cotton spandex from Crafty Mamas

I sewed this striped version in cotton/lycra from Crafty Mamas Fabrics. This is a quality fabric with loads of recovery but not masses of drape. It was interesting to compare the fit of my tee to that on the model on the website. The neckline ended up much smaller on my tee – which isn’t a criticism either way, more an observation about how fabric choices affect fit.

Liesl and Co Chai Tee in striped cotton spandex from Crafty Mamas

The shoulder yokes are cut double, and they enclose most of the associated seams. The neckline is bound, rather than having a band added. The little pleats at the shoulder add some nice detail and improve fit across the bust. I folded the pleats as per the instructions for this tee.

Liesl and Co Chai Tee in striped cotton spandex from Crafty Mamas

Size wise, this tee is a mash-up to accommodate my belly. I chose to sew the C cup version – don’t you love it when pattern pieces are provided with FBA already built in? – in size Medium, graded up to XL through the waist and back to the Medium for the hips. Basically, this meant that I removed all of the waist shaping!

Liesl and Friends Chai Tee in viscose spandex from The Cloth Shop

As it turned out, one Chai Tee simply wasn’t enough! I really wanted to see how this pattern would work in a drapier fabric, and as it turned out I had this printed viscose/spandex remnant from The Cloth Shop handy. There was just enough of it to make the tee by combining it with a solid black viscose/spandex for the shoulder yokes and neckband.

Liesl and Friends Chai Tee in viscose spandex from The Cloth Shop

This is exactly the same size as the striped version. You can see that it drapes differently on me, and the neckline is a little larger. This time around I folded the shoulder pleats the other way (contrary to the instructions) and I’ve decided that I actually prefer it.

Liesl and Friends Chai Tee in viscose spandex from The Cloth Shop

Most construction was on the overlocker, with the sewing machine used judiciously for topstitching and for attaching the neckline binding. I used a twin needle to hem the bottom of the top after securing the hemline with double sided fusible tape. The sleeves don’t require hemming, as they are cut double with the hemline on the fold.  This is the pattern length as drafted, so it’s fairly long (I’m 158cm tall).

Liesl and Friends Chai Tee in viscose spandex from The Cloth Shop

This is a lovely pattern – that step up from a basic tee. In the right fabric it is definitely a great summer office top, and it’s a nicer version of casual.  There is also a sewalong for its construction on the Liesl + Co blog.  Highly recommended.

adult's clothing · sewing

Butterick 6289 top and Style Arc April pants

Butterick 6289 was an impulse purchase the last time that Spotlight had Butterick patterns on sale.  You know how it is – they never seem to have the pattern that you really wanted, so you buy another one that you sort of like to make up the numbers to get the special offer?  This pattern was one of those.

Butterick 6289 top and Style Arc April pants

This pattern was actually released  in late 2015, but there are only three reviews of it on Pattern Review.  I think that’s a pity – in my opinion it’s a really great pattern!  Maybe it’s a case of look at the line drawings rather than the envelope photo and artwork?  There are a few options in the pattern envelope.  From the website: Loose-fitting, pullover tunic has neck band, stitched hems, overlay variations with raw edge finish.

b6289_a

b6289

As you can see, I sewed view D, the long sleeved option with the overlay covering one sleeve and the entire body.  I cut the length of the underneath body to the shorter length of view A, mostly due to fabric restrictions, but left the rest of the pattern as is.  I sewed size Medium, the 12-14, and it was plenty roomy enough around my middle.

Butterick 6289 top and Style Arc April pants

I used a knit from EK Fashion Fabrics in Sydney Road for the sleeves, neckband and overlay. It has a fair bit of stretch in one direction but not as much stretch in the other, so I paid attention to the grainlines when cutting out the top. Because I was working with a panel print, and I only had two panels, I ended up with what was a pretty good print layout but not a completely perfect one.

Butterick 6289 top and Style Arc April pants

The fabric used for the underneath body of the top was a wool blend crinkly knit from deep stash. There was just enough of it! I was determined to make this top work from the metreage that I had. It was very straightforward to construct and everything fitted together nicely – but don’t skimp on the notches and markings! You’ll need them! I decided to narrow hem the overlay edges rather than leaving them raw as per the pattern instructions.

Butterick 6289 top and Style Arc April pants

The pants are the Style Arc April pant, in the very last pieces I had of that Style Arc leather-look stretch bengaline. I’ve made these pants many, many times.  They’re really designed for ponte or a stretch knit, but they worked out okay in this bengaline.  From the pattern website: Up to minute stylized knit pull on pant, make it all one fabric, or contrast side panels as seen on the cat walk and in the fashion magazines.

april-pant

These were sewed in size 10, with construction all done on the overlocker but topstitching alongside each seam done on the sewing machine.  The stretch of the fabric, combined with the wide elastic in the waist, makes them very easy to pull on and wear.

Butterick 6289 top and Style Arc April pants

The seaming makes them that bit more special than just plain stretch leather-look pants, in my opinion. I can tell that I’ll pull this pattern out again in the years to come – actually, I think this pattern is one of Style Arc’s earliest ones!

Butterick 6289 top and Style Arc April pants

I feel great in this outfit – it’s a bit “out there” and definitely feels very me.  I’d like to try the top again with a sheer or lace overlay.  There is a stunning version of it here on Sharon’s blog (also worn with leather-look leggings).