What I’m wearing in May…continued.

Hello again!  I’ve had a rotten cold for the past few weeks; it really is hanging around and manifesting most uncomfortable post-viral symptoms like horrendous itch and general grumpiness.  Is that too much information for you?  So I’ve done some therapeutic sewing, but then have been too tired to convert what I’ve made into a blog post. You’ll get glimpses of new items in these composite photos of what I’ve been wearing over the past almost two weeks.

What Im Wearing May days 9-12

Days 9-12, from left to right: Saturday – Tessuti Mandy tee, Style Arc Elle pants, crocheted scarf. Sunday – Vogue 8950 tunic, RTW jeans and scarf. Monday – Colette Mabel skirt, Sewaholic Renfrew tee, McCalls 6844 jacket. Tuesday – Butterick 5954 tunic, Style Arc Elle pants.

What Im Wearing May Days 13-16

Days 13-16, from left to right: Wednesday – Colette Mabel skirt, Style Arc Molly top, Style Arc Marni jacket. Thursday – Grainline Linden sweater, Style Arc Elle pants, crocheted wrap. Friday – Style Arc Misty jeans, Tessuti Mandy boat tee, May Me Japanese pattern book shrug. Saturday – Style Arc Misty jeans, Pattern Fantastique Aeolian tee, Style Arc Harper jacket, crocheted scarf.

What Im Wearing May days 17-20

Days 17-20, from left to right: Sunday – Lekala 4412 dress, Style Arc Harper jacket, silk scarf. Monday – RTW dress, Style Arc Harper jacket. Tuesday – Style Arc Barb pants, Liesl + Co Maritime knit top, Grainline Morris Blazer. Wednesday – Style Arc Linda pants, Butterick 5925 tunic, Style Arc Simone cardigan, RTW scarf.

The garments I’ve made since my huge wardrobe purge have been very satisfying for me.  I feel that I’ve really started to plug some holes and to make some more items that feel very me.  There are more that I’ll get rid of yet, and others that are almost right but not quite.  It’s an interesting process of exploration.  Well, it’s interesting to me, if not to others.  Raise your glasses, GOMI!

Grainline Linden sweater

The more I look at my wardrobe, the more that I realise I gravitate towards relatively simple shapes.  Ones that are fairly loose, without structure.  Fortunately these garments are very straightforward to sew – and they are fast.  Last night I gave the Grainline Linden pattern a try.

Grainline Linden sweater in jacquard knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This really was a muslin. It’s made from scraps of a jacquard knit bought last year from Darn Cheap Fabrics and used to make a jacket. I even had to piece my scraps to get large enough pieces for the sweater – there is a seam down the centre of one sleeve. Grainline describe this pattern as follows:

The Linden Sweatshirt gives a modern update to the classic sweatshirt. Featuring a relaxed fit, raglan sleeves, and a graceful slightly scooped neckline, this sweatshirt is perfect for fall layering. View A features long sleeves with cuffs and falls to the mid hip with a lower ribbing band while View B hits at the high hip and has short sleeves. You can also mix and match sleeve and body lengths to create multiple versions of this sweatshirt.

Techniques involved include sewing with knits, straight seams, and attaching ribbing.

SUGGESTED FABRICS

Medium weight knits with a minimum of 20% stretch such as French terry, sweatshirt fleece, sweater knits, and jersey.

I made the long sleeve version, but kept the shorter length with the curved front rather than adding a bottom band. This was entirely due to fabric shortage, but in wearing it today I have discovered that I actually rather like the style. The sleeves were ridiculously long. They were meant to have cuffs, but even without the cuffs I turned under a 6cm hem before topstitching (and trimming). I don’t have especially short arms, so beware the arm length if you are making this! And the long-armed of you can rejoice, as for once you won’t have to add length.

Grainline Linden sweater in jacquard knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I found you a different background for these photos, but it looks as though the hand on the wall is about to push me away! I actually wore this today with a crocheted wrap over it as well.  Super comfortable and cosy.

What Im Wearing May 2015. 14 - Thursday.

This is an incredibly fast garment to sew. I’ll use the pattern again. Although I have old Knit Wit raglan patterns in stash I prefer the higher armhole and more modern cut. I chose to sew size 10 (even though my measurements were larger) because it had the amount of ease around the bust that I prefer. I suggest that you choose size according to the finished garment measurements – they are included in the instructions – based on the amount of ease that you like. And remember to watch that sleeve length!

What I wore in May – week one

Righteo, apparently it’s me-made-May again.  I mostly wear clothing that I’ve made all year round, so I’ve decided not to participate in the “challenge” part of me-made-May this year.  And I don’t like the “me-made” label all that much, I must admit.  I’m all for alliteration, but there’s no grammar there.  However, past experience participating in this challenge and other clothing documentation challenges has taught me that there can be significant value in creating a visual record of your outfits. Given that I’ve just done a major wardrobe cull, this is a great time for me to really take stock of what clothing I have and in what combinations I wear it.  Summer is easy – I prefer dresses.  But autumn/winter?  Much more difficult.  More garments, more layers, more to coordinate. There are months of cold weather ahead, so this really is the perfect time for me to figure out what wardrobe gaps I have and fill them in!

What I'm wearing May days 1-4

When I culled my wardrobe I took out everything that didn’t fit, was tired or worn out, or that I didn’t like much any more. I took out everything that I’d enjoyed wearing but knew I was now passing over in favour of something else. And I took out everything that I never really wore – even if there was technically “nothing wrong with it”.  This meant that I was left with some garments that are wardrobe orphans, but I still really like and want to wear. These are the wardrobe gaps. The challenge now is in figuring out what garments will be the right ones to fill those spaces.

What I'm Wearing May days 5-8

So now I’m working out what still works for me.  I think that I am style transitioning a little at the moment.  I’ve enjoyed experimenting a bit lately with different silhouettes, styles, textures, colours and prints, and think that I’m now settling on the ones that currently feel right for me.  As a result I have quite a large to-sew pile again.  I’m really looking forward to making a start once I get rid of this rotten cold that’s been exhausting me over the past ten days.  In the meantime I’ll keep taking daily photos and subjecting you to them on a weekly basis.  Navigating the waters of personal style when you’re almost 47 and don’t want to look like mutton dressed as lamb or look way older than your years – while still staying true to yourself and the way you prefer to dress – is a really tricky thing!

Mandy and Mabel – Darn Cheap Fabrics Autumn challenge

Those of you who follow my blog may remember that Emma and I have a seasonal sewing challenge with fabrics from Darn Cheap Fabrics.  Emma lives in Sydney and I am in Melbourne, so unless a trip to Darn Cheap coincides with one of Emma’s trips to Melbourne, it is left up to me to decide what fabric we will be using.  Oh, the pressure!  And it’s not as though it is easy to take photos of different fabrics and text them to Emma for her approval.  Darn Cheap Fabrics in Heidelberg is situated in a building that was once a bank.  It is a phone reception black hole!  Anyway, I chose a polyester fine gauge sweater knit, because I loved the print and thought that Emma would too.

Tessuti Mandy Boat tee and Colette Mabel skirt both in knits from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I instantly thought of a Mandy tee for this fabric. Something that would be easy to wear and a quick instant gratification sew. It’s a one size pattern and I sewed it without alteration other than folding out the pattern at the shorten/lengthen line to accommodate my 158cm.

Tessuti Mandy Boat tee and Colette Mabel skirt both in knits from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This fabric was surprisingly easy to sew. I used the overlocker for construction and my machine with a twin needle for the edges (after first securing them with double sided fusible tape). It pressed easily and is nice and soft against the skin.

Tessuti Mandy Boat tee and Colette Mabel skirt both in knits from Darn Cheap Fabrics

While I was at it I also sewed a Colette Mabel skirt. I used the longer version with the back kick pleat and front panels, in size Medium. This is also a super fast garment to sew. As per usual, construction was on the overlocker with the hem secured with a twin needle on the machine. The fabric is also from Darn Cheap, and is a heavily textured jacquard poly that is very difficult to photograph.

textured poly knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I played with the photo a bit to show you what the texture is like. The original photo actually came up white on the phone screen when I took it instead of black! Made me think of all the recent discussion of the black/blue/white/gold dress. This is a great bottom weight fabric, and I’ve also used it for a pair of Elle pants. Substantial, with a bit of interest in the texture. Yes, it’s poly, but although I have a natural fibre preference I don’t have a strong poly prejudice. There is good poly and bad poly (just like there is good linen and bad linen, good cotton and bad cotton….it all depends on the quality of the fibre). This one is a good poly.

Tessuti Mandy Boat tee and Colette Mabel skirt both in knits from Darn Cheap Fabrics

If you look really, really closely in the above photo you can see the texture. Sort of. If you get your eyes really, really close to that computer monitor. With a magnifying glass.

Tessuti Mandy Boat tee and Colette Mabel skirt both in knits from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Anyway, I like both pieces, and both definitely survived the wardrobe cull that Anna helped me with this weekend. Fired on with her moral support and the occasional “you can do better” I removed about half the garments from my wardrobe drawers, rails and shelves. I’ll pass them on to friends and the leftovers to the op shop. It feels fantastic. I recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and I think that helped to spur me on. I am generally rather tidy and organised anyway, but the volume of clothing that I had was quite overwhelming. It has been great to thank some of it for its service, and move on.

You can check out the fantastic garment that Emma made from her fabric over here.  I have enough left for another top, and am now wondering what pattern I should use.

Style Arc Misty stretch pull-on jean

You all know that I rather love a Style Arc pattern.  That particularly extends to their pants.  I don’t think that pants are hard to make – but I do think that they can be hard to fit.  It’s not just about circumferential measurements; there’s also that crotch depth and shape to take into account and where your muscle and fat are distributed in your stomach, bum and legs.  It can definitely be challenging!  I generally take the lazy way out with pants, and sew ones that use stretch fabrics and have elasticised waists.  Because my waist to hip ratio is not significant, I don’t get lots of gathers at the waist when I use elastic, so there isn’t increased bulk there.  But I do get comfort.

Style Arc describe the Misty stretch pull-on jean as follows: Want the look of a slim jean and comfort as well?  Then this is the pant for you, this style has all the features of a jean, slim cut leg, mock fly, front pockets, back yoke and jean back pockets. The treatment of the elastic waistband makes this a fantastic pant to have in your wardrobe.

Style Arc Misty pull-on stretch jean in fabric from Tessuti

First of all, the fabric. It’s a stretch woven cotton velveteen from Tessuti. It has a fair amount of stretch, and I love it. It was easy to work with, although I did need to be aware of the nap when I was cutting out.

Style Arc Misty pull-on stretch jean in fabric from Tessuti

I made these in size 10, my usual Style Arc size. My waist is way bigger than a 10, but it works for my hip measurement, and because the waist is elasticised I just cut the elastic to length (usually it’s exactly the same length as the waist of the pants.

Style Arc Misty pull-on stretch jean in fabric from Tessuti

The only alteration was my usual one to reduce the length. I removed an inch or so in two places, both from above the knee and below the knee.  That leaves enough length for a one inch hem.  I really enjoyed sewing the little details that make them into jeans rather than pants.  The front pockets – including a coin pocket, the front mock fly, and the back yoke and pockets.  All have topstitching details done with a twin needle.

Style Arc Misty pull-on stretch jean in fabric from Tessuti

So, here’s the front – complete with muffin top.  I didn’t have quite as much elastic as I would have liked, so the elastic waistband is a little shorter and tighter than I’d prefer.  That said it is still very comfortable.  The waistband is a double layer of elastic, zig-zagged together around the top, and is then attached to the top of the jeans.  If you preferred an enclosed waistband it would be simple enough to cut one from your main fabric, enclose the elastic inside it (I’d use narrower elastic than three inches if I was doing that) and stitch it to the waist of the pants.

Style Arc Misty pull-on stretch jean in fabric from Tessuti
And there is my backside in closeup.  I really, really like the back pockets and yoke.  And they are the only detail that can be seen when I am wearing them.  In future I’ll only include the back details and the front faux fly.  The front pockets are not visible when I am wearing them and I don’t use them (they are quite shallow).

Style Arc Misty pull-on stretch jean in fabric from Tessuti

And this is how I wore them!  Very happy with this pattern.  Now I just need some stretch denim…

Lekala 4078 – knit dress with inset

Lekala are about as creative in naming their designs as I am in naming my blog posts.  This is Lekala 4078 which is – surprise surprise, a knit dress with inset.

216_technical_drawing_1074

I hoped that this would be a work appropriate and comfortable winter dress, and I think that it has met up to my expectations (although this is really more a “wearable muslin” than exactly the fit I’d like).

Lekala 4078 in printed ponte from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I’ve been experimenting with Lekala patterns a lot lately (I sewed up another couple of patterns on the weekend). I have now decided that for future orders I will remove the “reduced” shoulder width adjustment. Although my shoulders are on the narrow side, the Lekala pattern alteration for this is too narrow. I think that it’s causing some pulls from across the neckline on this dress.  I could have also done a better job on where I distributed the gathers on the underneath part of the top.  I need to focus them under the bust more.

Lekala 4078 in printed ponte from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The neckline isn’t as deep a V as the illustration either – which is probably a good thing for a work dress. And despite specifying a high waist adjustment, the back waist length is still too long and has these wrinkles that you can see in this photo.  Or maybe it’s just ridden up on my under layers and needs to be pulled down a bit at the back – these photos were taken at the end of a very long day last week.

Lekala 4078 in printed ponte from Darn Cheap Fabrics

What I do love however is the effectiveness of the “full hip” measurement for my shape. In my mind, this is the “pot gut” adjustment. It means I don’t get the pulling across the front that I get on so many garments and instead there is more circumferential room in the front of the garment than in the back.

Lekala 4078 in printed ponte from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The triangular shaped insert is interfaced, and Lekala suggest that it could be effective in a contrast fabric – a woven suiting, or even leather. This fabric is a lightweight printed ponte from Darn Cheap Fabrics. It was nice and soft and easy to sew, and even easier to wear.

Lekala 4078 in printed ponte from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The more I look at this dress, the more I want to give this pattern another try. I think that I have almost worked out my Lekala adjustments now. They do a great job for me when I provide my measurements, and I think that the only other adjustments that I need to make are to specify high waist. I think that I’ll need to shorten the back waist a little myself. And I don’t need the shoulder width reduced after all. But for the grand sum of another US$2.69 (less if I buy a pattern bundle) I reckon that it is worth it to order another tweaked copy of the pattern.  When I order the next one I’ll show you the difference in drafting between the “reduced” shoulder width and the usual one.  It should be interesting!

winter Aeolian

The Aeolian tee is not just for summer!

Aeolian tee in wool jersey

I had some dark brown Gorman wool knit from Clear It left over after making a Harper jacket. I wore the jacket quite a bit last winter/spring, and knew that it was a warm fabric. There was just enough left for an Aeolian tee for winter layering.

Aeolian tee in wool jersey

I sewed size Medium, as per usual. The deep hems are secured with a twin needle, as is the neckband.

Aeolian tee in wool jersey

I nearly ruined this with a too-hot iron. There is clearly a synthetic component to the fabric. I thought I realised just in the nick of time, but in these photos can still see some slightly shiny patches. Aargh!