Oh Ricki, you’re so fine…

What year WAS that song written?*  Why does it feel part of my era?  Whenever I hear the name Ricki it’s the first thing that I think of.  Now I can think of the Style Arc Ricki top instead.

Style Arc Ricki top in french terry stripes from Clear It

This is my “wearable muslin”. It is so wearable that I am wearing it right now as I type this blog post.l I made straight size 12, no alteration. It’s roomy, which I think suits the style.  At first glance the primary appeal of this pattern was the back.

Style Arc Ricki top in french terry stripes from Clear It

The two back pieces wrap over one another beautifully, and don’t actually seem to gape open during wear (although I think that your fabric choice would influence that). They do however create more weight at the back of the top than at the front and tend to pull the neckline toward the back, which can make it a little high at the front. The sleeves are slightly bell shaped. I was concerned that the wider hemline could be annoying during wear, but that hasn’t worked out to be the case.

Style Arc Ricki top in french terry stripes from Clear It

The pattern drawing and description from the Style Arc website are as follows:

RICKI TOP: This back wrap top is perfect for a weekend project! The back is fully wrapped and is designed to cover the back but retaining the look that is so popular at the moment. The long sleeve is slightly belled or make it with the new longer short sleeve. This top is perfect for the new Scuba fabric but can be made in almost any fabric be it woven or knit.

FABRIC SUGGESTION: Knit jersey, Crepe, Ponte, Scuba, Linen

This version was sewn in striped french terry from Clear It.  It was very easy fabric to work with.  Construction was on the overlocker as per usual, with hems secured with Vliesofix tape then twin needled.  I did pay attention when cutting to match the stripes as well as possible – and think that I did a pretty good job!  I’d like to try this again in linen for summer with a short sleeve.  I think it would be lovely and cool to wear, with the added interest of the back wrap.

Style Arc Ricki top in french terry stripes from Clear It

* yes I googled it – and was reminded that the song I was thinking of – released in 1982 when I was at high school – was Mickey.  Ricky was the “Weird Al” Yankovic parody.  It’s a bit worrying that I remember the parody as well as the original…

Style Arc Esme

Sometimes a pattern sits on my wishlist for ages.  Other times it doesn’t even make it to my wishlist – because as soon as I see it, my finger hits the buy button.  That is pretty much what happened with the Style Arc Esme Designer top.  Except because I wanted it NOW, I restrained myself for the couple of days it took between the release of the paper pattern and the release of the pdf pattern on the Etsy site.  The printed patterns can sometimes take a few days to be printed to order then sent out – whereas those pdf patterns are dangerously instant.  Even if they do take trimming and taping.

Style Arc Esme top in quilted knit from The Cloth Shop

I was almost as fast to buy the fabric as I was to buy the pattern. The printed knit is pre-quilted, and came from The Cloth Shop. I bought the very last of the roll, and had to do some pattern tetris to eke the top out of the small amount of fabric that I had – all while trying to centre the design and match it at the seams at the same time. Unbelievably, I was successful. Clearly it was meant to be.

Style Arc Esme top in quilted knit from The Cloth Shop

I cut this as size 12 with no alterations. The collar did have to be cut on the straight grain rather than on the bias. I figured that with a fabric like this one it would be fine on the straight grain.

Style Arc Esme top in quilted knit from The Cloth Shop

Because the fabric is quilted it has substantial body. I needed to finish all the cut edges, as there was a layer of “fluff” between two layers of thinner fabric all quilted together, and when it was cut those layers all separated a little. You can see that more clearly in the next photo.

Style Arc Esme top in quilted knit from The Cloth Shop

This was a very easy sew. I used a zig-zag stitch on the machine to secure hems, and used the overlocker for all the rest of the construction. The front hemline is shorter than the back, and there are slide slits. Those are all details that I really enjoy in a top. The pattern illustration shows the collar worn up, but in this fabric that just felt (and looked) weird, so I’ll always wear it folded over.

Style Arc Esme top in quilted knit from The Cloth Shop

The pattern drawing and description from the Style Arc website is as follows:

ESME DESIGNER KNIT TOP: “The Wanted” garment of the season. This knit top has a fabulous bias cut collar that can stand fashionably high or turned over. Make it sleeveless or with sleeves for the cooler months.

FABRIC SUGGESTION & DESCRIPTION: Ponte, Scuba or any fabric with a stretch component

Style Arc Esme top in quilted knit from The Cloth Shop

I’ll definitely be using this pattern again!

Frocktails 2015 dress and coat

Well, this time last week I was busily assembling lining pieces, hoping to get my coat finished in time for Frocktails.  I can’t believe that it was a whole week ago – although I have the yellowing bruises on my shins from falling down the stairs on the way out to prove it (and no, I hadn’t overindulged in alcoholic beverages – those steps were just deadly)!  So, what did I make and wear?  I think that many of my blog readers may have spotted me on other blogs by now.  Unfortunately lots of my photos didn’t work out well – the hazards of an ageing phone camera – but they still give you a good idea.  I’ll start with my dress.

2015 Frocktails outfit - Burda 02 2015 No 129 dress and vintage 1965 McCalls 7493 coat in fabrics from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Now I have to say that I LOVE my dress and I LOVE the way that I look in it! No false modesty here! The pattern is from BurdaStyle and is described as “shift dress with slits”. It’s pattern #129 from the 02/2015 edition of the magazine, but I bought the pdf copy online here. The line drawing shows the style lines more clearly.

Burda 02 2015 number 129 for Melbourne Frocktails

And here it is on the model:

Burda 02 2015 number 129 for Melbourne Frocktails

I wonder if the colour of her dress subconsciously influenced my choice of fabric? I first came across the pattern on another blog, and thought that it would be a good option for me. It’s from Burda’s “women’s petite” range, so I didn’t have to make any of my usual short woman alterations.  I chose the size based on finished bust measurement – I think I sewed size 19 but will need to double check that – it could have been size 20.  The petite range are drafted for women between 160 and 167cm tall.  I am 158cm, and think that it still worked quite well for me, especially in such a straight silhouette.  There are some other versions of the same pattern in the BurdaStyle magazine and I think I might give them a try at some stage too.

2015 Frocktails outfit - Burda 02 2015 No 129 dress and vintage 1965 McCalls 7493 coat in fabrics from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The fabric is a double sided woven jacquard from Darn Cheap Fabrics. From memory it is polyester, but may have been a blend. It has loads of body and was very easy to sew, and is perfect for this style of dress. I took advantage of the interesting seaming to reverse the fabric for the angled panels at the front hem and on the sleeves. The lower hem slits and sleeve hem slits are formed by leaving that part of the seams unstitched then turning the grown-on facings to the inside.

2015 Frocktails outfit - Burda 02 2015 No 129 dress and vintage 1965 McCalls 7493 coat in fabrics from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I sewed the hems by hand. It really didn’t take long, and reminded me of the days when I first started sewing (a long time ago – I’ve been sewing garments since before I started high school) and all my hems were hand stitched. That was just the way it was done! I only swapped to machine sewn hems when I realised that everything in the shops had machine sewn hems and the world hadn’t collapsed as a result. And I knew it would be faster. But I digress.

2015 Frocktails outfit - Burda 02 2015 No 129 dress and vintage 1965 McCalls 7493 coat in fabrics from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This was a rather straightforward garment to sew, and I managed to finish it weeks ahead of deadline. Go me! But then I decided that since winter in Melbourne was super cold, I might need a coat to wear over it. If I had time. So I cut out McCalls 7493, a vintage pattern from 1965. Yes, the pattern is older than me.

2015 Frocktails outfit - Burda 02 2015 No 129 dress and vintage 1965 McCalls 7493 coat in fabrics from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This is a half-size pattern in size 18 1/2, which means that it was drafted for shorter women. Hooray! I still shortened it through the body length (I think a couple of inches) and half an inch or so through the sleeves. I have decided that I really like working with these older single sized patterns, especially with all the markings they contain and the printed tape measure at the shorten/lengthen here marks – they make alterations much faster and more consistent. It didn’t take long though before I hit a major snag. I cut into my fabric before checking that I had enough of it. And as it turns out, I didn’t have enough.

2015 Frocktails outfit - Burda 02 2015 No 129 dress and vintage 1965 McCalls 7493 coat in fabrics from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I contacted Darn Cheap Fabrics, where I’d bought the fabric a year or so ago, to see if they had any more. Sadly, they didn’t. I also put out a call for another metre on instagram, but with no success. So the only option was to use a contrast for the remaining pattern pieces, which were for the raglan sleeves. With only a week to go before Frocktails, I met Anna at Darn Cheap Fabrics and we foraged for a contrasting fabric that would “go”. And when your main fabric is a large-scale print of Australian birds and animals, finding something that will go with it can be quite a challenge! So we went all out with a statement choice, and this is how the coat ended up.

2015 Frocktails outfit - Burda 02 2015 No 129 dress and vintage 1965 McCalls 7493 coat in fabrics from Darn Cheap Fabrics

2015 Frocktails outfit - Burda 02 2015 No 129 dress and vintage 1965 McCalls 7493 coat in fabrics from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This fabric was a superb weight for a coat. It’s a poly/cotton/spandex blend, printed on a jacquard weave. So much to like about it! It was incredibly easy to work with. The sleeve fabric is a woven poly/spandex jacquard. I used it for the bound buttonholes as well as for the sleeves. The buttons came from Clear It, so I assume that they were used for the Alannah Hill range.

2015 Frocktails outfit - Burda 02 2015 No 129 dress and vintage 1965 McCalls 7493 coat in fabrics from Darn Cheap Fabrics

2015 Frocktails outfit - Burda 02 2015 No 129 dress and vintage 1965 McCalls 7493 coat in fabrics from Darn Cheap Fabrics

There were a number of hours that went into the making of this coat. The pattern was beautifully drafted, and everything fitted together perfectly. Facings and linings were the perfect length, as were interfacings that were cut and applied after some pieces had been joined together. I used fusible woven interfacings on the collar and facing pieces. I did manage to sew in my label (I plan to order new labels soon, as I don’t like the typeface of these ones and as a consequence tend to not use them) and add a ribbon hanging loop.

2015 Frocktails outfit - Burda 02 2015 No 129 dress and vintage 1965 McCalls 7493 coat in fabrics from Darn Cheap Fabrics

2015 Frocktails outfit - Burda 02 2015 No 129 dress and vintage 1965 McCalls 7493 coat in fabrics from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I need to rave about the collar a little bit. The under collar is cut on the bias, and the collar rolls beautifully and sits just as it should. With the lining, I feel as though I’ve made a quality garment. The lining was mostly bagged, but with a little hand stitching for those tricky corners where the front facings meet the hemline. It was easier and faster for me to do hand stitching for those than to alter the pattern pieces a little bit and work out the puzzle that eventuates. The lining fabric is a mid-weight satiny woven that Karen kindly gave me (she had a whole roll). The finished coat has a lovely heft to it.

2015 Frocktails outfit - Burda 02 2015 No 129 dress and vintage 1965 McCalls 7493 coat in fabrics from Darn Cheap Fabrics

For those who asked, the shoes are by Django & Juliette, and the beaded bag was bought last time I was in Bali. So, how WAS Frocktails?

2015 Frocktails outfit - Burda 02 2015 No 129 dress and vintage 1965 McCalls 7493 coat in fabrics from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Over 50 women ranging in age from twenties to over fifties, all who love to sew. Despite the relative dim lighting, we all managed to ooh and aah over one another’s clothes, recognising fabrics and patterns (or learning about fabrics and patterns) and even sometimes getting the chance to touch and stroke them (the fabrics that is)! I was able to chat to women I already knew and women I didn’t, and to finally meet many who I felt as though I knew already (thanks to their blogs and instagram). The evening flew past and I didn’t get the chance to chat to everyone I would have liked to. I can’t remember the last time I caught a taxi home after 1.00am….

2015 Frocktails outfit - Burda 02 2015 No 129 dress and vintage 1965 McCalls 7493 coat in fabrics from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Huge thanks go to Kat who organised the evening. There is a great deal of work involved in running something like Frocktails, especially as it ended up having a number of ancillary events like fabric shopping trips, brunches and dinners on other surrounding days. And everyone? It was fantastic to see you in your wonderful garments. There are some recaps and more photos from the night here and here and here (lots of photos on that last one!).  Looking forward to the next!

2015 Frocktails outfit - Burda 02 2015 No 129 dress and vintage 1965 McCalls 7493 coat in fabrics from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Vogue 1410

So many patterns, so little time!  I pounced on Vogue 1410 pretty quickly when it was released.  Because I wasn’t sure about how the length would work on me, I decided to make a muslin (gasp!) – but one that I hoped would be wearable.  I shortened the pattern pieces at the shorten/lengthen lines – all two pattern pieces; fastest cutting out ever – and cut it out in some digitally printed cotton twill from Spotlight that had been lurking in stash for a year or two.  And this is what I ended up with!

Vogue 1410 in digitally printed drill from Spotlight - adjusted to longer length

It’s certainly out of the ordinary and is definitely a statement piece! This is the line drawing and pattern description from Vogue’s website.

MISSES’ DRESS: Very loose-fitting, pullover dress has very narrow hem finish on neckline and armholes, front and back pleats, inside button/buttonholes forming drape and three adjustable lengths, French seams, and narrow hem. Purchased cord stopper and elastic cord form front drape. FABRICS: Stretch Poplin, Seersucker, Silk Dupioni, Lt.Wt. Wool Crepe. Unsuitable for obvious diagonals.

Now, did you notice that bit about adjustable lengths?

Vogue 1410 in digitally printed drill from Spotlight - adjusted to shorter length

They weren’t kidding! There are buttons at different levels on the inside of the side seams and it is simple to button up the hem to any of the levels. As well as altering the length it adjusts the shape; the shorter the dress, the more bubbled the hemline.

Vogue 1410 in digitally printed drill from Spotlight - adjusted to shorter length

There are pleats/tucks that provide shaping in the back and pleats/tucks in the front that have buttonholes in them to provide shaping in the front with the use of a drawstring to alter how tightly the dress is pulled in.

Vogue 1410 in digitally printed drill from Spotlight - adjusted to longer length

The neckline, hem and armholes are finished with narrow hems before the side seams are joined together with french seams. This is actually very fast to sew, and the instructions were very clear. I had no issues. I think that I sewed size 14 but would need to double check that – it is a couple of months already since I made it. My blogging is very behind!

Vogue 1410 in digitally printed drill from Spotlight - adjusted to longer length

So far I’ve only worn this at full length. I’d like to make it again in a different fabric – possible a solid or a more subtle print – and wear it alone as a summer dress. This is a pattern that will definitely get another outing at some stage. But in the meantime my wearable muslin is lots of fun!

Vogue 1410 in digitally printed drill from Spotlight - adjusted to longer length

Lekala 4393

So, another experiment – this time Lekala 4393, described simply as “knit dress”.

Lekala 4393 knit dress

Lekala patterns are so cheap that I really don’t mind experimenting with them. They are a great way to try out different styles, since I know that they will basically fit me (depending on what measurements I plug in) and consequently my opinion on the final garment will be more about whether I like the style on me than about whether it fits me or not.

Lekala 4393 knit dress

Because this was such an experimental garment, I made it in scraps left from an earlier project. The fabric is a knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics, and I think it is still available on their website. I used both sides of the fabric, with the more solid side as a contrast.

Lekala 4393 knit dress 1721_technical_drawing_11381

I think that the line drawing looks more fitted than the finished dress, although the fashion drawing on the Lekala website is on the loose side as well. When I ordered this pattern I asked for “reduced” shoulder width. It turned out to be much more reduced than I needed – my shoulders aren’t broad, but they’re clearly not as narrow as I thought either. Subsequent Lekala orders have left the shoulder width alone as “regular”. The shoulders on this dress look okay in these photos, but in wearing are a bit weird.

Lekala 4393 knit dress

Did you notice those pockets in the princess seams? I love that! If I made this dress again I would lengthen the sleeves to full length, as a winter knit dress is a little useless with elbow length sleeves. They’re also a bit tight around the hem.  The collar needs a brooch, pin or button to hold it in place.

Lekala 4393 knit dress

When I first made this and tried it on I put it straight into the op shop pile. But by the time I put it on again for these photos I decided that I actually didn’t mind it and gave it a reprieve. I still haven’t worn it though, so if it doesn’t get an outing soon it is unlikely to survive my next wardrobe purge. Still, it was an enjoyable experiment, and I may well order this pattern again at some stage – without a reduced shoulder width adjustment!

Lekala 4393 knit dress

Sutton and Wendy

Another non-seasonal garment; another True Bias Sutton blouse!  This is my third go at this pattern.  The first was for my Mum, and the second was intended as a wearable muslin for me.  I only wore it once then passed it on to a relative as I found that the fabric I’d made it from stuck to me too much.  This time I sewed it in a reptilian-like print from Tessuti.  It’s a silk remnant, and feels lovely against my skin.

True Bias Sutton blouse in silk remnant from Tessuti with Style Arc Wendy pants in Style Arc bengaline

Once again I sewed size 6, and I’m happy with the fit. I took my time in construction, following every step of the instructions instead of my usual “glance then toss them aside” approach. It was rather enjoyable to basically let someone else tell me what to do. I sewed it exactly as I’d been told, french seams and all. The only slight deviation was to stabilise the neckline with fusible tape rather than with stay stitching.

True Bias Sutton blouse in silk remnant from Tessuti with Style Arc Wendy pants in Style Arc bengaline

I had pre-washed the silk in the machine, figuring that I should start as I intended to continue, and found it surprisingly easy to sew. The fabric has a slightly textured feel to it, rather than being slippery, and although it is light and luscious against the skin it pinned easily and was straightforward to cut out and to stitch.

True Bias Sutton blouse in silk remnant from Tessuti with Style Arc Wendy pants in Style Arc bengaline

The pants are the Style Arc Wendy pant, sewn in stretch bengaline also from Style Arc. I bought the pants and pattern together in a kit; they run special offers like that from time to time. I sewed size 10, making my usual length alterations.

True Bias Sutton blouse in silk remnant from Tessuti with Style Arc Wendy pants in Style Arc bengaline

You really can’t tell much about how pants fit when they are sewn in black, can you! Here is the pattern drawing and description from Style Arc’s website.

A great pull-on pant featuring a wide waist band with false opening, these full length pants are a must have wardrobe staple piece

These are a nice option if you want to avoid an elasticised waist.  I’m not sure that they would be easy to get on and off if you have a large waist/hip measurement discrepancy.  My hip and waist measurements are pretty close to one another, and I still had to do a little wriggling in and out.  There is no fly; rather the wide waistband undoes and does up with velcro.  I’ll probably stick with my usual Linda or Barb pants for work, but these would be a great alternative for lots of people.

True Bias Sutton blouse in silk remnant from Tessuti with Style Arc Wendy pants in Style Arc bengaline

Unfortunately my photographer didn’t spot that the hem of one leg was caught up on my shoe – and neither did I! I suspect that this isn’t the last time I’ll use the Sutton blouse pattern – although I do have the very similar Hot Patterns Trilogy pattern waiting to be sewn dress length for Bali first.

Winter Playhouse Dress

The first things that I sewed when I was at Sewjourn way back in May were for my daughters.  This dress was intended to be Stella’s birthday dress.

Playhouse dress in stretch velour from Darn Cheap Fabrics

As is often the case, she decided to wear a different dress on her actual birthday. Oh well. That’s how it goes! Fortunately, since then she has decided to wear this one as well – and still refers to it as her birthday dress.

Playhouse dress in stretch velour from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The pattern is the Playhouse Dress by Fishsticks. I’ve sewn it before, in a short sleeved summer version. Stella loves the twirly-ness of the skirt. I love the ease of construction.

Playhouse dress in stretch velour from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This is pretty much all sewn on the overlocker. I did use the machine to baste the purple stretch elastic used as piping to the front and back bodice seams and zig-zag it in place to secure it, and I zig-zagged around the neckband to secure it too, but that was about it. The cuffs are stretched to fit, and provide a nice belled shape to the sleeve.

Playhouse dress in stretch velour from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The fabric is stretch velour from Darn Cheap Fabrics. I was pretty sure that Stella would love the variety of colour. And she does!  It is also highly stroke-able, which suits my tactile girl right down to the ground.