children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing

Kwik Sew 3605 for Stella

I first sewed Kwik Sew 3605 for Clare, back in 2011.  Then I sewed it again three times in 2014 (and bought the pattern again when I saw it on sale – I knew that I was on to a winner)!  So it was the obvious choice of pattern when Stella asked me for new bathers at the beginning of this year.

Kwik Sew 3605 in fabric from Rathdowne Fabrics

One of the great things about this pattern is how mix and match it is – although each time I’ve sewn it my girls have selected the tankini top.  Kwik Sew describe the pattern options a follows: Mix and match swimsuits. Halter style tops have lined cups. Tankini Top A: Ties at back neck. Top B: Band with hook closure on back, and ties at back neck. Boy-cut Bottoms C: Waist and leg openings finished with elastic. Bottoms D: Front lining and waist and leg openings finished with elastic. Pull-on A-line Skirt E: Waist finished with elastic.

k3605_a

This is a comparatively simple pattern to sew.  I completely line the bottoms by cutting them out of swimsuit lining as well as the fashion fabric, sewing them up individually, then putting the lining bottoms inside the fashion fabric bottoms wrong sides together, then treating them as one when I finish the edges with elastic.  That means that the interior seams are completely enclosed.

Kwik Sew 3605 in fabric from Rathdowne Fabrics

The fabric for both these pairs came from Rathdowne Fabrics. They have an excellent selection of swimwear fabric, both on the roll and as large remnants. The lining fabric came from them as well.

Kwik Sew 3605 in fabric from Rathdowne Fabrics

I wonder what size I sewed? I’d have to pull out the pattern pieces to check. This pattern goes from size 4 to 14. It may have been the Medium with the length of the Large.

Kwik Sew 3605 in fabric from Rathdowne Fabrics

This photo gives you more idea about construction. I use the overlocked for all the major seams and to finish seams, and use the zig-zag stitch on my machine to attach any elastic to the inside of the edges and then again when I fold the edges to the inside and secure them.

Kwik Sew 3605 in fabric from Rathdowne Fabrics

There is elastic around the underbust and along the top edge of the back of the tankini top, and on the waist and leg edges of the pants. The more you sew elastic to bathers edges, the better you’ll get at knowing just how much to stretch it as you attach it. Most of the time, you don’t need to stretch it much at all! I think that’s a fallacy when sewing bathers, that you need to have the elastic much smaller than the opening. You don’t! Think about it – bathers generally have negative ease througout, so the fabric and elastic is already stretching when it’s on the body. Add a little more stretch in places where the fabric will need to cup the body, like at the back leg/bottom, but otherwise don’t really stretch it much at all.

Kwik Sew 3605 in fabric from Rathdowne Fabrics

I notice in these photos that my zig-zag has a couple of skipped stitches. Make sure that you have the right needle in for your fabric, preferably a fresh needle! You want something that works well on spandex blends. My machine seems to prefer a sharps needle to a universal. There’s sometimes some experimentation involved in getting that right.

Kwik Sew 3605 in fabric from Rathdowne Fabrics

There are plenty of swimwear sewing references available nowadays, and I do suggest reading through many of them before you start sewing swimwear. But it honestly isn’t difficult! And it’s definitely highly satisfying, especially when you hit on just the right pattern for you.  I strongly suspect that this pattern is going to get another run for the coming summer – Stella has shot up this year!

adult's clothing · sewing

There can never be too many draped t-dresses

My cousin Julie expressed admiration when she spotted the draped t-dress I sewed in December on my Instagram feed.  So I offered to sew one for her.

You Sew Girl draped tee dress for Julie in Spotlight rayon knit

Who knows how many of these dresses I have made! I don’t think that I’m ever likely to stop – each version has had heaps of wear. It’s so great for summer, but can also work with tights and long sleeved tee underneath in winter if made from a slightly heavier fabric.

You Sew Girl draped tee dress for Julie in Spotlight rayon knit

The fabric is a printed viscose knit from Spotlight. I really love viscose or rayon blends for this dress, because they work so beautifully with the drape. You really do need something that’s a bit liquid for the best results. It’s one main pattern piece – cut two, scoop the neckline a little more on the front, add a neckband. Straightforward, simple, and surprisingly effective.

You Sew Girl draped tee dress for Julie in Spotlight rayon knit

I sewed the Large for Julie, then popped it in the mail. Fortunately it arrived right before a heatwave, and she obligingly sent me a photo of herself wearing it.  Posing for a blog photo is part of having a garment made to order!

You Sew Girl draped tee dress for Julie in Spotlight rayon knit

The pattern can be found here.

And no, expressing admiration of something I have sewn doesn’t generally mean that I will sew one for you too!  I don’t know what came over me – it must have been the heat!

adult's clothing · sewing

McCalls 7742

Hello there!  My poor neglected blog.  Thanks to the lovely readers who have emailed to check up on me – everything is fine, just lots happening!  As many of you know, I changed jobs at the beginning of the year.  I now do contract work, and it’s been busier than I had anticipated.  On top of that I finally upgraded my 12 year old Mac to a PC, and I’m still in the process of moving photos, music and other documents from the old to the new.  Cross platform transitions are not straightforward!  I’ve still been sewing, but there’s no way I’ll be able to get my blog caught up, especially given that I don’t have the photos moved from the old to the new yet.  However, I remembered a few older unblogged photos that were already uploaded to Flickr, so I’ll catch up with those!

McCalls 7742 in vintage border printed cotton

This dress is McCalls 7742, sewn back in January. It’s perfect for really hot days.  McCalls describe it as ‘very loose fitting dresses have front and back yokes with gathers and sleeve variations’.  Well yes, they do.  And yes, it is very loose fitting.

m7742

I sewed view B, with the ruffles around the armhole.  I chose to sew size Small based on the finished measurements, and I’m glad that I sized down so much.  The fabric is vintage, and I had barely enough of it to eke out the dress.  I left out the side seam pockets, and the sleeve frills had to be pieced.

McCalls 7742 in vintage border printed cotton

I used a lightweight white woven to line the bodice yoke in order to avoid show through of the print through the lightweight fabric. I like the little gathers at the centre back of the yoke too.

McCalls 7742 in vintage border printed cotton

This is a really pretty print, with fabulous greens, and I quite like how this dress looks in these photos – but I nevere wore it. I took it straight off after the photos and gave it to a friend. I wasn’t sure if it was the sleeve frills, or the delicacy of the print, or it having too much white, but it just wasn’t me. Actually, I’ve removed the sleeve frills for my friend too – she found them too much for her frame.

McCalls 7742 in vintage border printed cotton

But I wasn’t done with this pattern. I really liked the concept and the breeziness – especially in Melbourne summer heat when it feels absolutely baking. So I ferreted through my stash, pulled out some fabric that was more ‘me’, and sewed up another!

McCalls 7742 in Thai double gauze

SO much better! It’s the same dress, same size, different sleeve treatment, different fabric. This double gauze comes from Thailand (via Notionally Better on Etsy)and it’s beautiful to sew and wear. Both this version and the previous one were sewn at pattern length – I’m 158cm tall (around 5’2″) so take that into consideration if you’re making this – it’s short!

McCalls 7742 in Thai double gauze

Now I doubt that this style would be considered conventionally ‘flattering’ but I don’t care. This dress has survived a couple of wardrobe purges already, so it’s clearly striking a chord with me.  It’s also very easy to sew, and doesn’t have many pattern pieces.  Good for someone early in their sewing career too, as there aren’t as many areas to ‘fit’.

McCalls 7742 in Thai double gauze

As with the previous version, I lined the yokes in a lightweight solid woven. Looking at the photo above reminds me that I did a fair bit of faffing around to get the checks lined up properly at the centre front and through the V-neckline. It’s not perfect though. Remember that if you choose to sew in stripes or checks that you HAVE to pay attention when you’re cutting out and sewing! Plenty of pins and dare I say it, even hand-basting, could be useful to get everything lined up. The sleeves are simple rectangles, folded up as cuffs. They had to be cut as mirror images to get the same stripe colour along the fold.

McCalls 7742 in Thai double gauze

I had enough fabric to include side seam pockets in this version. I am not wedded to pockets in everything like some people – if I load them up they often pull the garment out of shape – but they do come in handy for a hanky (although let’s be real – more often it’s where a mobile phone gets put).

McCalls 7742 in vintage border printed cotton

There are some other nice versions of this pattern out on the internet. Many have found the sleeve to be rather voluminous – I think it’s all about proportion, your height and frame, and the overall dress length too. I’d recommend this pattern though – make it work for you with the style and fabric combination that you feel your best in.

McCalls 7742 in Thai double gauze

Uncategorized

Melbourne fabric shops

So, you want to do some fabric shopping in Melbourne?  Here’s some suggested places to visit, grouped by location.  I haven’t included Spotlight or Lincraft, and I’ve focused on everyday apparel.  Also keep an eye on social media for warehouse sales and markets.

This is by no means an exhaustive list – I live in Melbourne’s North, so that’s what I know best!  Also, Shelley wrote a fantastic guide to fabric shopping in Melbourne a couple of years ago.  Read that first!  It’s really comprehensive, and includes photos.

Please keep in mind that new businesses pop up and existing ones close, opening hours vary, addresses vary, and types of stock vary.  Google before you go!

North

  • The Cloth Shop, Ivanhoe
  • Darn Cheap Fabrics, Heidelberg
  • GJs Discount Fabrics, Fairfield (mostly quilting and dance but some apparel)
  • Cutting Cloth, Fairfield (mostly quilting but includes lovely linen and Liberty)

Inner North

  • Jimmy’s Buttons, Fitzroy
  • Clear It, Fitzroy
  • The Fabric Store, Fitzroy
  • Super Cheap Fabrics – Collingwood and Fitzroy
  • NSW Leather, Collingwood
  • Rathdowne Fabrics, Brunswick
  • Sydney Road, Brunswick – EK Fashion Fabrics, Unique Fabrics, Anne’s Discount Fabrics, Super Cheap Fabrics (all in the same block)
  • Astratex, Richmond

West

  • Eliza, Sunshine
  • Leffler Leather, Footscray
  • Fabric Deluxe, Footscray
  • Fibresmith, Yarraville
  • Darn Cheap Fabrics, Port Melbourne

City

  • Tessuti
  • Nicholas Building (Kimono House, L’Ucello)

South of the Yarra

  • Franke Stuart, Hawthorn
  • Silk Trader, Hawthorn East
  • d’Italia, Malvern
  • Darn Cheap Fabrics, Elsternwick

 

 

 

adult's clothing · children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · teen · tween

Love a bit of colour

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – sometimes you just need a instant gratification sew, and a circle skirt is the way to do it.

Circle skirt in Spotlight scuba

Clare loves a circle skirt, and she loves scuba. This brightly printed highly polyester fabric came from Spotlight. Digital prints really are a gift!

Circle skirt in Spotlight scuba

I used one of the myriad of circle skirt calculators that are available to figure out what radius to use. This is really easy – I fold the fabric in half, then in half the opposite way so that I have a square with folds along two edges. Try it with a piece of paper and you’ll know what I mean. Then measure the radius curve from the corner with all the folds.  Then measure the length that you want – Clare requested 17 inches. Cut – and tada! One doughnut. All you need now is to add the waistband, and when it’s just wide elastic, that’s super easy.

Circle skirt in Spotlight scuba

Sew the elastic into a circle (matching thread helps), overlock it to the right side of the skirt, then flip it so that the overlocking is on the inside. And you’re done. No hemming required with scuba fabrics.

Circle skirt in Spotlight scuba

As it turns out, Clare would have preferred the elastic to be covered by the same fabric as the rest of the skirt, but I wasn’t inspired to change it. I have done that before though and it’s also straightforward. The joy of stretch fabrics!

Circle skirt in Spotlight scuba

If you need better instructions than my hastily typed efforts, take a look at these circle skirt calculators:

There are a myriad of others – Google and YouTube are your friends.

adult's clothing · sewing

Style Arc Quinn woven top and skirt

I sit on some fabrics for ages, even when I love them.  I’m never quite sure whether it is because I am waiting for the perfect pattern, or whether it’s because I am enjoying imagining the myriad of items it could become, and actually sewing it up would eliminate the opportunity for further imagination.

Style Arc Quinn woven skirt and top in Thai yarn dyed striped linen

This yarn-dyed striped linen was purchased in Chiang Mai on my first trip to Thailand (that must be about five years ago now). When I bought it I wasn’t even sure if it was destined to be something for me or for someone else in the family. Now we know – it’s for me!

Style Arc Quinn woven skirt and top in Thai yarn dyed striped linen

There are so many great colours in that stripe – and really, the Style Arc Quinn patterns are the perfect choices.

quinn-top

From the Style Arc website: This is a great boxy shaped top. Use your creative skills with this style and mix textures, stripes or colours. Why not team it with the Quinn skirt for the perfect outfit? FABRIC SUGGESTION: Linen, crepe, cotton and silk.

Style Arc Quinn woven skirt and top in Thai yarn dyed striped linen

I sewed size 12 (my usual Style Arc size) and it’s just a fraction more snug through the bust and belly than I’d like. My middle-aged spread is definitely spreading, and I need to keep that in mind when choosing size, although the 12 is still best for my shoulders, neck and upper chest.

Style Arc Quinn woven skirt and top in Thai yarn dyed striped linen

I really like the bias strip inserts in this top – they work so well with the stripes! And as you can tell, I also made the skirt.

Style Arc Quinn woven skirt and top in Thai yarn dyed striped linen T

he skirt was more tricky, for a couple of reasons. I’d actually avoided this pattern for a while because it had a fitted waist with a zipper and facing. My waist is about three sizes larger than my hips, so I generally avoid those patterns. Elastic is my friend! So after some consideration, I decided to convert the pattern to an elastic waist. I did this the easy way – I didn’t sew the waist darts at all, didn’t include a zip, and used wide elastic a bit like a facing. I can wriggle it over my hips without much fuss, and the elastic keeps it in place.

Style Arc Quinn woven skirt and top in Thai yarn dyed striped linen

You can see the the photo above how the elastic is attached – overlocked to the top of the skirt, then turned to the inside.  I stitched in the ditch along the skirt seamlines to try to keep the elastic where it should be, and it does sit nice and flat during wear.

Style Arc Quinn woven skirt and top in Thai yarn dyed striped linen

Because the skirt is linen there is just enough fabric give for wiggling in to it.  This would be difficult if your hip to waist ratio was greater than mine – eliminating the zip makes it that bit harder to put on.  But it works for me.

Style Arc Quinn woven skirt and top in Thai yarn dyed striped linen

From the Style Arc website: Be creative with this stylish panelled skirt. Mix textures and contrast bindings or simply make it in a single coloured fabric, the choice is yours. The Quinn Woven Skirt pairs perfectly with the Quinn Woven Top. FABRIC SUGGESTION: Linen, crepe, cotton or silk.

quinn-skirt

The other tricky bit was getting the front to meet up nicely where the angled hemline panels meet.  To be honest, it’s a little while since I sewed this and I can’t remember exactly how I worked it out, but I did find that the diagrams, pattern illustration and my common sense together gave me a satisfactory result, rather than relying on written instructions.  If I sewed this in stripes again I would switch the direction of the lower front panel that comes to a point, so that those stripes ran around instead of down. Otherwise, in my opinion this outfit has turned out very nicely!

Style Arc Quinn woven skirt and top in Thai yarn dyed striped linen

children's clothing · kids clothing · Lekala · sewing · tween

Sims inspired for Stella

What would you do if your tween showed you a photo of an outfit that she’d just dressed her Sim in and asked you to sew her a real life version?

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

What I did was sigh deeply, then say that of course I could sew something similar! And I jumped on to the Lekala website to see what I could come up with. I came up with these two patterns.

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

I plugged in Stella’s measurements, and around 15 minutes later I was printing off the patterns (yes, Lekala are that fast). Then it was into the car for a trip to Spotlight for fabrics. Stella wasn’t with me, so we had a pretty funny Whatsapp video call for her to select the fabrics that she preferred. I bought them, came home again, and a few hours later we had this!

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

Not the same as the original dress, but definitely Sim inspired! So, on to the details. I’ll start with the skirt.

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

The pattern is Lekala 4645, described as ‘double skirt’.  Waist measurement is the key for this style.  There is a zip set into the left side seam, and the waistband closes with a button and buttonhole.  As is always the case with Lekala patterns, the instructions are fairly brief.  It helps if you’ve sewn a lot before, or have a sewing reference handy to assist with any potentially tricky bits such as zip insertion.

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

The fabrics are cotton sateen. We thought that it would have the right amount of body and oomph for the style, and it definitely does. While this was a perfect choice of fabric for the skirt, I don’t think that it worked quite as well for the top.

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

The top is Lekala 4656 and the recommended fabrics for this one are ‘blouse fabric, lace’. The cotton sateen is okay, but something drapier would work better with the centre front pleats, and the edge finishes would look neater.  A combination of the fabric type, self fabric bias strip finishing and the fact that it’s sewn in a rather small size makes the armholes and necklines bulkier than I’d prefer.

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

That said, the fit overall is pretty good and allows for a fair bit of growing room (much needed for Stella at the moment). I chose to sew a separate skirt and top rather than combine them into a dress because I thought that there was more chance of future wear if they were separates. I suspect that I’m right and that the skirt will get much more wear than the top.

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

You can see that there is plenty of room in the top! It was also very long – I chopped a fair bit off it and there was still plenty left to tuck in. That’s one of the hazards of using Women’s patterns for a tween, despite it being drafted to measurements.

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

Sims inspired outfit - Lekala patterns in Spotlight sateen

One happy tween – and therefore a happy mother!  It was fun to work together to turn her vision into reality.