adult's clothing · sewing

Style Arc Sian top

Kate of the blog Fabrikated recently hosted a ‘Dress Like Frida’ sewalong.  Over a number of weeks she introduced readers to Frida Kahlo‘s clothing style, including inspiration images, links to a recent exhibition, and links to patterns.  We were encouraged to use Frida Kahlo’s style as inspiration, adapting it to our own personal circumstances and cultural heritage.  This is what I came up with.

Huipil inspired version of Style Arc Sian top in hand woven cotton

I actually had way more plans in my head for this sewalong than the single top that eventuated. I had pulled out numerous fabrics and trims from stash and played around with them, but due to a variety of factors I only ended up with one item. This top is based on the Style Arc Sian top. I decided to focus on fabric and trim choice and keeping the style lines of the top simple, but didn’t want to go the whole way of sewing a traditional square huipil. Maybe another time – loose simple garments are often my choice anyway!

Huipil inspired version of Style Arc Sian top in hand woven cotton

Style Arc describe the Sian Combo Top as follows: This is a great staple to have in your wardrobe. The dropped shoulder is very flattering along with a comfortable silhouette. Create your own style by using different textures or colours; knit or woven… the combinations are endless. FABRIC SUGGESTION & DESCRIPTION Crepe, Silk, Georgette or Jersey knit.

sian-top

As you can tell, I made a few changes.  I used size 12 throughout, and cut the centre front on the fold, making sure that I took the seam allowances into account.  I left out the front split, and folded out the gathering from the upper back before cutting out.  The front and back princess seams provided slight shaping, and acted as lines to place the braid along.

Huipil inspired version of Style Arc Sian top in hand woven cotton

The centre orange braid is actually bias binding that I’d made some time ago. Because it was bias it was perfect for finishing the curved neckline as well. The other two braids were in stash, and the main fabric is hand-woven cotton from Thailand, left over from another garment. This top used much more trim than you’d think! I paired it with linen trousers rather than sewing a traditional long gathered waist skirt to go with it – I knew that I’d never wear the skirt.

Huipil inspired version of Style Arc Sian top in hand woven cotton

I’m fairly pleased with the end result. It’s definitely inspired by Frida, but I feel that it’s been brought into a context that I find more wearable. This sewalong also had me thinking and reading about cultural appropriation and how it may apply to clothing and sewing.  My general feeling is that those of us who love textiles tend to participate in cultural exchange and cultural appreciation rather than cultural appropriation, but I can see that there is the potential for there to be a fine line between the two.  I found this article, this article and this one to be interesting discussions on the topic.  As a white Australian of English/Scottish/German ancestry, so part of the dominant culture here, I feel that I still have so much to learn.

adult's clothing · sewing

Vintage Butterick 3224 top

I figure that most people reading this blog know that pattern companies re-use pattern numbers.  It’s often quite interest to see what images pop up when you google a pattern!  The first instance of Butterick 3224 is a 1920s jackets (boleros) pattern.  It pops up again in a 1970s top, dress and pants pattern.  Then you get the beauty that I recently sewed – the 1985 top and skirt version.

Vintage Butterick 3224 from 1985 in linen

I was in year 12 in 1985, and that illustration on the left pretty much indicates my hair goals at the time. Lady Diana, what a style influence you had!  I was pretty sure that this pattern would work again in 2018.

Vintage Butterick 3224 from 1985 in linen

View B is the longer version of the top, and finishes right at the waist. There was no way that I was going to wear a top cropped at that level, so I cut a band of fabric, sewed it into a tube, folded it in half wrong sides together, then sewed it to the bottom of the top. Hey presto, self-faced wide hemline.

Vintage Butterick 3224 from 1985 in linen

Now I do need to let you laugh at me a little here, because I certainly laughed at myself. After constructing the shoulder seams and neckline, the next step was to sew front and back together at the side seams. Instead, I sewed the front to the front at one side seam, and the back to the back at the other. I held it up, felt extremely confused, then realised what I’d done! Out with the unpicker…

Vintage Butterick 3224 from 1985 in linen

There was one other difficulty with this pattern – it turned out that there were no instructions in the envelope. Some assistance from friends on Instagram who had sewn the pattern or similar meant that I was able to puzzle out how to construct the neckline with the insets without too much trouble. The markings on the pattern pieces really were key to getting it right! I sewed size 14, and the fabric is linen.

Vintage Butterick 3224 from 1985 in linen

The upper body is very roomy at size 14; but the bottom width, not so much. This is because it’s designed to hit at a cropped waistline – no need to fit over hips. If I wanted to make it longer again I’d need to alter it to swing out a bit more, or include side seam slits.

Vintage Butterick 3224 from 1985 in linen

This was a fun sewing experiment, and I think that this top works quite nicely with my Style Arc Lola pants. I still haven’t quite decided whether it will stay or go though – I have other brown tops that I suspect I am likely to reach for before this one. Time will tell.

adult's clothing · sewing

Marilla Walker Maya top

Unlike the last two garments I showed you, when I put on this top I sighed a definite YES.

Marilla Walker Maya top in linen remnants

When I went to Sewjourn recently, all four of us decided to sew our own version of the Marilla Walker Maya top. It’s been around for a few years now, and I had to admit that I had passed it over due to it’s simplicity. That was really short-sighted of me!

Marilla Walker Maya top in linen remnants

Because really, simple shapes are my jam. Yes I like interesting details, or fabulous fabrics, but the clothing that I feel the best in is usually quite straightforward.

Marilla Walker Maya top in linen remnants

From the pattern website:  The Maya pattern takes its influence from my Central American mother and family. It is a kimono/cap sleeve dress or top that is designed to hang well from the shoulders and have a wide fit from the bust down, much like a traditional Guatemalan Huipil. It is intended to be playful and fun and can really showcase an amazing fabric, whether that be a bold print or luscious fibre.

Although relatively simple in design, the variations are endless and there are several lengths to choose from ranging from a cropped top to a knee length dress with a hip length top and shorter dress length in-between. Other variants include a straight or shaped hem, button or plain front as well as an option for a sash belt.

The construction is straight forward and creates a tidy finish as you work through the instructions leaving no raw edges in sight.

FABRIC SUGGESTIONS – Light to medium weight woven fabric.

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I sewed size 7, which was closest to my bust measurement, but could have gone down to size 6.  The fabrics are linen scraps from stash, and the choice of colours and the contrasting bottom panel were entirely depending on the size of the scraps.  I really like the colour combination. The yellow linen was originally used to sew the Style Arc Lola pants I’m wearing with the top, and a brown pair that is also still in my wardrobe).  I really do like working with linen.  Essentially this is view A, without the front pocket, and with a curved front and back hemline.  I cut the pattern at the shorten/lengthen line to divide it for colour blocking (and remembered to add seam allowances when I cut it out).  The instructions have you finish the curved hem before sewing together the side seams, which is an excellent tip that gives a very nice finished result. All the topstitching is done in brown thread.

Marilla Walker Maya top in linen remnants

This is a look that I feel very comfortable in.  It’s more ‘me’.

adult's clothing · sewing

Style Arc Tully pants

While I was giving new styles a try, I sewed up a pair of Style Arc Tully pants from some lovely light brown/beige linen that was in stash.

Style Arc Tully pants in linen

From the Style Arc website: This pleat-front “paper bag” waist pant features a slim 7/8th length leg with a separate hem panel. The elastic waist finishes at the side front allowing the centre front to remain flat. The ties are attached into the front pleat. We made our sample with directional stripes. Use your unique style to create your own look. FABRIC SUGGESTION: Linen, crepe, silk or fine wool.

tully-pant

These were a pleasure to sew.  I cut and sewed size 12, and remembered to shorten the main leg pattern piece before cutting out.  I wanted these to be 7/8 length as drafted, not full length on short me!  All the pieces fitted together beautifully.  The front ties are sewn into the front tucks, which is a rather nice piece of design.  Anyway, you want to see them on me, don’t you?

Style Arc Tully pant in linen

As my kids would say, yeah nah. And to be honest, I knew before I started that these just wouldn’t work well for my shape. But every now and then I am a little self-delusional.

Style Arc Tully pant in linen

I’ll show you a few photos so that you know that they pretty much fit me and so that you can see some of the details. But they are NOT a look that I like on me.

Style Arc Tully pant in linen

The tee is the SBCC Tonic Tee, a free pattern for short people that I’ve blogged about before. I sewed it in a nice quality knit from Clear It, possibly in size large. And for those of you who were wondering if the pants would look better with the tee out instead of tucked in….

SBCC Tonic Tee in knit from Clear It

Once again, yeah nah. And in case you were wondering – yes, I’ve tried styling the pants quite a few different ways, with looser tops, with the ‘half tuck’, with a loose top tucked in.  Yeah nah.

Both the pants – which I LOVE when I just hold them up and look at them – and the tee – quality fabric, well made – are now in the spare wardrobe. I wonder which of my family/friends will take a shine to them?

Style Arc Tully pant in linen

adult's clothing · sewing

Hot Patterns Jermyn Street Shirtdress

I had high hopes for this pattern.  And there’s a lot to like about the finished dress.  But also a bit that feels rather ‘meh’.

Hot Patterns Jermyn St Shirtdress in linen

I think that lots of my issues with this dress were due to the size that I chose to sew. I really haven’t got Hot Patterns properly figured out. The last few times I’ve sewn one of their patterns I’ve sewn size 10 (I measure more like a 14, 16 or 18 around the waist) and generally that’s worked out to be the best size. After some flat measuring and oohing and ahing I made the decision to cut size 10 for this one as well. And the body is okay. But the first rendition of it had sleeves so tight that I could barely get the dress on – and then I could barely move!

Hot Patterns Jermyn St Shirtdress in linen

I unpicked the sleeves and recut them in size 14 (maybe 16?), re-sewed them up, and reinserted them into the armscye with a little bit of faffing around. Then the dress fitted!

Hot Patterns Jermyn St Shirtdress in linen

That twisted, knotted front was what initially drew me to the pattern. It’s visually interesting and I wondered how it was constructed. I was aware that it could go either way in regard to being belly enhancing or belly distracting (I have a decent size belly).

Hot Patterns Jermyn St Shirtdress in linen From the Hot Patterns websiteYou’ll L-O-V-E this figure-flattering shirtdress, perfect for blouse or shirt-weight weight fabrics like cotton shirting, chambray, crepe or linen. Use a woven with a little added stretch if you’d like, but do also consider a stable knit with a little body, like silk(y) jersey, ITY knits, double knits like ponte, or a lightweight French terry. Semi-fitted, button-through shirtdress has a faux shirt-style shawl collar and an optional invisible side seam zipper. 3/4 length sleeves are finished with a slit and a deep hem facing; the skirt hemline finishes j-u-s-t below the knee with a narrow hem. Dress has a very slightly raised waist seam and a twisted front. This is the very definition of a throw-on-and-go dress; it’s easy to dress it up or down for day, night, work or the weekend, and depending on the season and your fabric choices, this one works with boots, shoes, sandals and sneakers. hp_1215_met_jermyn_st_shirtdress_end_mar_2017_env_f__28560-1490317404-1280-1280 The fabric is lovely – it’s a linen check that was a gift from a lovely friend.  It was really nice to work with; it pressed well, yet has that give in it that you find with linen and linen blends. The front facings/collar pieces were interfaced with lightweight Vilene fusible interfacing, and they turn back beautifully. I particularly like the shaping at the centre back collar seam.

Hot Patterns Jermyn St Shirtdress in linen

Now, I actually sewed this back in March, and have only just got around to photographing it. I don’t mind how it looks in most of these photos, but also feel that my hair and skin tones blend into the colours of the fabric a bit too much. And really, it fits closely. More closely than I’d probably like. I really don’t know that I’ll wear it.

Hot Patterns Jermyn St Shirtdress in linen

I do like to give different styles a try every now and then – but I always do so knowing that it could be a gamble. I’m glad that I sewed this dress, but will I sew it again? I don’t know….possibly not. Actually, this dress has already been transferred into the wardrobe in the spare room…and we all know what that means!

Hot Patterns Jermyn St Shirtdress in linen

adult's clothing · sewing · tween

Vernazza Two Piece

I quite like sewing bathers.  Moreso for my daughters than for myself.  Smallish pieces of fabric, great prints and colours, and mostly pleasing results.  My bathers pattern stash is growing, I must admit, especially with old patterns – often by Kwik Sew – that I pick up at op shops.

Vernazza two-piece in swimwear fabric from Rathdowne Fabrics

This is not one of those op shop patterns! This is the Vernazza Two Piece, a pdf pattern from Friday Pattern Company. It started appearing on Instagram, I showed it to Clare, and she gave it the go-ahead.

Vernazza two-piece in swimwear fabric from Rathdowne Fabrics

From the pattern website:  Whether you’re frolicking along the coastline of northern Italy or sunbathing in your backyard, the Vernazza Two Piece will have you feeling glamorous and comfortable. It features tank straps, an adjustable tie front, and a soft waistband. The bottoms hit at about your belly button and can easily be adjusted for a higher or lower rise. This is a simple swimsuit with a lot of style. It is fun to sew and is perfect for the very confident beginner or intermediate sewist. 

untitled-1

While writing this blog post I notice that there is also an instructional video for making these bathers!  I wish that I’d actually watched it before sewing them.  Even though I’ve sewn quite a few pairs of bathers, I’m never entirely confident and always keen to get extra tips and hints.  That said, these weren’t really difficult to make.

Vernazza two-piece in swimwear fabric from Rathdowne Fabrics

Clare prefers high waisted bathers bottoms with low cut legs. Show her any of those high-cut ’80s leglines and she recoils in horror! I sewed the XS bathers bottoms, and she is super happy with the fit. I fully lined the bathers with a beige swimwear lining from stash. The print is from Rathdowne Fabrics. I chose not to put elastic inside the waistband, and it seems to fit well (although only wearing in the water will really tell). I used the suggested elastic measurements for the leg openings. I felt as though I was over stretching the elastic when I sewed it on, but once it was all turned to the inside and zig zagged again it seemed okay.

Vernazza two-piece in swimwear fabric from Rathdowne Fabrics

The top is also size XS, and it’s really a size too big for Clare. I put it in the category of wearable muslin. Like the pants, it is fully lined, although I used the print to self-line the front because it shows at the front tie.

Vernazza two-piece in swimwear fabric from Rathdowne Fabrics

Once again I used the suggested elastic lengths, and I do think that they just were too short. The top looks pretty bunchy, as I had to stretch the elastic quite a bit in order to make it fit. After trying the outer shell on Clare I shortened the shoulder straps about half an inch at the shoulder seam, and scooped that half inch out of the underarm to compensate. It put the top in a better place on her body.

Vernazza two-piece in swimwear fabric from Rathdowne Fabrics

The instructions have you sew the neckline elastic to the lining, not through both the inner and outer. This means that you need to sew it exactly next to the seam allowance. I learned this the hard way as I sewed it too far in and had to unpick it all and reattach it. I actually found it easier to get it in a better position by sewing it after the lining and outer had been sewn together. That way I could butt the edge of the elastic right along the seamline. It still has a tendency to roll out a bit, but that could be because the top is a size too big. You can see the lining at the back in the photo of them on Clare.  If the top was more stretched out on the body it could be fine.  Either way, I need to refine my elastic application the next time that I sew these.

Vernazza two-piece in swimwear fabric from Rathdowne Fabrics

Clare is happy enough with the wearable muslin. I still have plenty of the fabric, so will actually make another top from a pattern that I know fits her, then she can mix and match a bit. Give her another year of growth and this might fit better. Physically, Clare is very similar to me at the same age.  I kept growing until I was around 18 or so, and like her was still very slight at age 15.  I am so pleased that she still likes me to sew for her!

adult's clothing · sewing

Style Arc Parker coat

I dip my toes into the waters of other pattern companies, then keep returning to Style Arc.  I really do find them reliable, contemporary, fashionable, and consistent in fit.  As long as I choose the designs in shapes that I feel best in, I rarely sew a fail from a Style Arc pattern.

Style Arc Parker coat in knit from The Remnant Warehouse

That said, some are bigger wins that others, and this coat is right up there among the wins! I love everything about it. It’s the Style Arc Parker coat. From their website: With an effortless long-line shape, this coat is a perfect option for a smart casual look. Let the collar sit high on the neck and allow the revere to fall naturally. This style features a horizontal hip seam, patch pocket and stitched back vent. FABRIC SUGGESTION ponte, knit boucle, sweater knit or rugby knit.

parker-coat

Fabric choice is really important to sew this successfully.  It’s designed for knits – take note!  It’s an unlined coat without closures, although it would probably be straightforward enough to add an open ended zip to the front between the outer and the facing if you so desired.  Although this is described as a coat, and has a collar with reveres, I am more likely to treat it a bit like a cardigan.

Style Arc Parker coat in knit from The Remnant Warehouse

The fabric is a knit from The Remnant Warehouse. It behaved a bit like a rugby knit – not super stretchy like a ponte, but with some substance. I’m not sure what the fibre content was, but it pressed nicely.

Style Arc Parker coat in knit from The Remnant Warehouse

The collar was fairly easy to set in, with judicious pinning and even a teensy bit of basting. Working with a knit fabric made it more straightforward than I expected. I used a fairly light stretch interfacing on the collar and the front facings.

Style Arc Parker coat in knit from The Remnant Warehouse

The front patch pockets are located a short distance below the feature seam, which is topstitched. This lines up with a seam on the back, also topstitched. The centre back vent has mitred corners and is also topstitched in place.

Style Arc Parker coat in knit from The Remnant Warehouse

There is no topstitching down the front opening or facings, so I stitched in the ditch along the shoulder seamlines and the lower front seamlines in order to hold the facing in place. I think that I’ll tack the back neck facing down at the centre too – it has to be fiddled with a bit to lie flat.

Style Arc Parker coat in knit from The Remnant Warehouse

This type of garment fits really well into the Melbourne climate. Although there are definitely times of year when something warmer is needed, much of the time our weather is in-between hot and cold, so this type of layer comes in handy. Being a knit, it also kicks goals in the comfort stakes.  And I’ve just realised that this whole outfit is by Style Arc!  Elle pants, Abigail top, Parker coat.  Shoes are Django & Juliette.

Style Arc Parker coat in knit from The Remnant Warehouse