adult's clothing · sewing

Boho Banjo Aurana top

I have admired Pearl Red Moon‘s patterns for some time now.  She is an Australian textile and mixed media artist and in addition to selling jewellery, fabric (via Spoonflower) and finished garments, she has a line of patterns that encourage the maker and wearer to explore their creative side.  Pearl sells via her Etsy shop Boho Banjo art to wear.

Boho Banjo Aurana top in linen scraps

I bought the Aurana top pattern a year or so ago. I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand why I sew some patterns immediately after purchase, but sit on others for a while! I pulled it out back in October when I was strongly feeling the need to ‘play’ a bit with fabric in a creative way. The Aurana top is perfect for mixing and matching.  From the pattern page: A boxy loose fitting womens top. Pulls on over head and has short sleeves. Round neckline with facing. The front of the top features patchworked sections. The back is plain. There are multiple ways the design could be interpreted and here are some of the designers suggestions:
1) make as a “bojagi” type patchwork, with the garment made in a sheer fabric like silk or organza and with either flat felled seams or french seams on the outside of the garment.
2) patchwork made in 2, 3 or more solid colours.
3) patchwork made in a combination of stripes in varying directions. Stripe fabrics of varying widths could be used and even different colours.
4) patchwork made in a combination of solid colours and prints.
5) Make the centre front V section in a sheer or lacy fabric and the remainder in solid.
6) To make the black and red version with textile art embellishment as shown on the Aurana Top cover page visit my blog at http://www.pearlredmoon.com and download the link given to the FREE TUTORIAL in the right side bar.  The tutorial is for a fabric embellishment technique that can be used as a surface applique on clothing. In it I outline how to apply the piece that is made to the Aurana Top. However, experienced sewists could easily use the technique to apply to any other item of clothing. The tutorial is available to anyone for free, without any obligation or need to purchase the Aurana Top PDF sewing pattern.

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I love that Pearl gives many suggestions to spark the maker’s creativity and shows each pattern made up in a variety of ways.  For me making this top involved pulling out my many linen scraps, then getting to work with the scraps on the pattern pieces to figure out how they’d best work together. I pulled out a selection of colours then moved them around to get a sense of the most pleasing colour combinations and proportions.

Boho Banjo Aurana top in linen scraps

Once I’d figured out which fabrics would go where I pinned the pattern pieces on and cut them all out, then carefully assembled them in the order of the pattern instructions. I decided to use different colours for the sleeves and to simply piece the back as well.

Boho Banjo Aurana top in linen scraps

Rather than using the supplied facing pieces to finish the neckline, I cut bias strips from other scraps of linen and ran them through one of my handy Clover bias binding makers. The binding was then sewn to the right side of the top before being turned to the inside and machine stitched in place. The nice wide hems were overlocked then turned to the inside and machine stitched as well.

Boho Banjo Aurana top in linen scraps

I’m very happy with the way that this top fits me. I sewed size Small, which is for bust sizes between 100-109 cm (39-43 inches). Side note – despite being Australian, and brought up entirely using the metric system, I tend to talk about sewing in a mixture of imperial and metric systems. I blame this on learning to sew from American patterns. I’ve been forced to think in both systems for body measurements and seam allowances!

Boho Banjo Aurana top in linen scraps

The pdf printed and assembled well. I used the print at home version, but it also comes with a copy shop file. Instructions were thorough and comprehensive. I’ve recently bought the Zambeesie jacket pattern, which I also plan to sew from scraps, and I also own the End Point dress pattern. I rather fancy the Marama coat and the Pheenie dress. The pattern sizing starts with the Small that I made, and goes to Extra Large with a 49 to 52 inch bust. They’re designed to be roomy.

Boho Banjo Aurana top in linen scraps

If you like ‘art-teacher chic’ (which I do) and want some encouragement to get a bit more creative and find patterns with unusual design lines I really encourage you to check out Boho Banjo art to wear.  They’re the type of designs that could look completely different sewn in a single fabric versus in a combination of fabrics.  You can sew them in ways that are really ‘out there’, and are truly pieces of art to wear, or you can sew them in ways that are more subtle and low key. It’s really just up to your own style and your imagination!  No-one has asked me to promote these patterns, by the way – I just reckon that they’re great.

Boho Banjo Aurana top in linen scraps

adult's clothing · sewing

Style Arc Martha overshirt and Tessa pant

I’m going to start by saying that I like both these pieces, but I don’t love them together.  I didn’t actually sew them with the plan of wearing them together, I just threw them on to get photos.  So don’t be distracted by the styling; focus on them as individual pieces rather than as the outfit (not that it’s all that bad).

Style Arc Martha overshirt and Tessa pants

Style Arc Martha overshirt and Tessa pants

I might start at the bottom, with the Tessa pant. Although this pattern has been in my collection for a while, it’s the first time that I’ve sewn it. From the Style Arc website: The pants have an elastic waist with little fullness to allow them to sit flat when on the body. Optional pockets are set into the side seam. The leg has a lovely new shape that is not too slim and not too wide just perfect!! FABRIC SUGGESTION Linen, crepe or silk.

teesa-pant

I made my usual Style Arc pant pattern alteration before I cut into the fabric, shortening it in two places above and below the knee.  However, this wasn’t enough – I folded over and restitched the hem another inch before I took these photos.

Style Arc Tessa pant in linen

They’re still a bit too long, and although I really like the leg width and shape, I’d like a higher rise. The pants currently sit right across one of my belly rolls at the front instead of encasing it. I like my belly to be covered – it’s more comfortable for me.

Style Arc Tessa pant in linen

You can see that at the back as well – the rise just isn’t all that high. Now it might sit differently on someone else, because our shapes obviously interact with where things fall on our bodies. I need enough length to cover my tummy curve. If you have a flatter tummy, the waist would probably be higher on you.

Style Arc Martha overshirt and Tessa pants

I sewed them in linen, in size 12. The inseam pockets are straightforward, and overall they’re an easy pant to sew. The elastic is overlocked to the top of the waistband, then it’s turned to the inside and stitched to secure. I probably won’t make these again – I have other Style Arc pants that I prefer. So, on to the Martha overshirt.

Style Arc Martha overshirt in Thai cotton

First off – I really, really like this shirt! I think that I got the pattern as a freebie with a recent order. And it’s such a great pattern! From the Style Arc website: Instantly update your wardrobe with this designer swing shaped over shirt with an extended shoulder which creates a small sleeve. The back has a sharp angled design line and box pleat to create a fabulous full back. The neat little collar balances this shirt beautifully. FABRIC SUGGESTION Poplin, silk, rayon.

martha-overshirt

I paired this with fabric I’d bought on my first trip to Thailand.  I’m not sure what fibre it is – probably cotton.  It presses well and feels nice against the skin.  I sewed size 12 without alteration.

Style Arc Martha overshirt in Thai cotton

That back detail really is lovely! It’s not hard to sew, but gives beautiful swing and flare to the back. I topstitched it both as a detail and to give more stability as the fabric is a fairly open weave.  And I just realised – I folded the box pleat to the inside rather than to the outside as per the pattern illustration!  It still looks good, but it’s not how it’s intended to be!

Style Arc Martha overshirt in Thai cotton

I don’t often sew shirts with collars, but I do like this one. It’s a small collar that is well proportioned. The front button bands are cut on and just turned to the inside twice. I had no issues with sewing the collar – 6mm seam allowances make all the difference! I did hand-sew the stand facing to the inside of the shirt before topstitching around it. I sewed the buttons on by machine after using double sided tape to stick them in place. Why hadn’t I done that before! It made sewing on buttons twice as fast!

Style Arc Martha overshirt in Thai cotton

Because the sleeves are cut on, and are simply hemmed, this is a shirt that actually comes together rather quickly. I was surprised at how fast it was to sew – and believe me, I wasn’t rushing things. I have definitely slowed down the pace a bit this year! I need to try it on with a few other wardrobe items to really figure out the way that I best like to wear it, but overall it’s a win. Recommended!

Style Arc Martha overshirt and Tessa pants

adult's clothing · sewing

Tessuti Valerie top

One of the benefits of maintaining a blog is that I can easily check back on old projects.  I’ve just sewn the Tessuti Valerie top for the second time.  Thanks to this blog, I know that the first time that I sewed it was in January 2013!

Tessuti Valerie top in crinkle cotton or linen

I am forced to confront the passage of time when I check back though – I looked so much thinner and younger then – probably because I was! It’s just what you’d expect; most people really start to show the ageing process once they hit their mid forties. And now I’m fifty.  And SO much has happened over that time.

Tessuti Valerie top in crinkle cotton or linen

So, back to the top. I sewed size Medium, the same as when I first sewed it in 2013. This is a simple style, very forgiving of circumferential changes. From the pattern website: This sleeveless Valerie Top Sewing Pattern is loose and comfortable, ideal for a cool summer top and features gathered side darts on front and back, the gathered sides sits just under the bust line. Ideal for fabrics with weight and drape eg: silk crepe de chine, rayon, double georgette and silk/cotton voiles. 

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I tend not to follow Tessuti’s instructions to use Vilene shields around the neckline and armholes to keep them from stretching out of shape.  I generally use fusible stay tape instead.  I’m also not a purist in applying the neckline and armhole bindings, generally altering the application method a bit to suit personal preference and the properties of the fabric.  That said, I did pretty much follow the instructions in constructing this top.

Tessuti Valerie top in crinkle cotton or linen

This beautiful crinkled linen (well, I think it’s linen, but it could be cotton or a blend) came to me via a friend – I suspect that it was from Tessuti’s remnant table.  There was just enough of it to eke out this top. There are two thread colours in the weave, and rather than thread matching either of them I attempted to match the colour that the fabric read overall.

Tessuti Valerie top in crinkle cotton or linen

This pattern would work nicely in a dress length (actually, it would be a great summer nightdress). It’s roomy through the body, doesn’t slip off shoulders, doesn’t show bra straps. Very cool and comfortable for summer.

sewing · tween

Modkid Mara skirt for Clare

I think that I’m a sucker for a pattern that is marketed as for tweens/teens.  They’re a little few and far between, so I tend to snap them up when I see them.  The size range generally means that they should work for both my daughters, over a period of time, so I’m quite happy to add them to my stash.  But I don’t just want to add them to stash – I actually want to USE them!  This one didn’t take long to go from electronic file to finished skirt.

Modkid Mara skirt in white denim from M Recht

The pattern is the Modkid Mara skirt. It also comes in a size range for younger girls – this is the tween/teen option, that ranges in size from girls size 10 to 18. The thing that makes the teen patterns different to adult patterns is that the waist to hip ratio isn’t generally as extreme as the sizes go up.

Modkid Mara skirt in white denim from M Recht

The pattern website describes this as follows: The Mara Mini Skirt oozes modern chic style. It is cut short with a high banded waistline in an A-line silhouette featuring a snap front, contrast stitch detailing, belt loops, and extra large side pockets to fit her smart phone. SUGGESTED FABRICS: Bottom-weight fabrics like denim, corduroy, velveteen, cotton sateen, twill or canvas, 54″-60″ wide. Use lighter woven fabrics like shirting, quilting cotton or lining material for the pocket lining in order to reduce bulk in the seams.

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Choosing fabric was easy – I had a small amount of lovely M. Recht stretch denim left in stash, just enough for a denim skirt for a teen.  Choosing size was the next issue.  I decided on size 14 – Clare is a little taller than a 14, but her waist measurement is smaller.  And boy, we found out that her waist measurement is WAY smaller.

Modkid Mara skirt in white denim from M Recht

Lara, write a big sign for your sewing room that says ‘try things on Clare as you sew them and don’t wait until it’s finished’! Because this skirt was way too big everywhere (other than the length, which was only just enough). We did try it with a belt, but then there was just too much pulled in bulk for that to be a solution.

Modkid Mara skirt in white denim from M Recht

You can especially see why that wasn’t a satisfactory solution at the back:

Modkid Mara skirt in white denim from M Recht

So out came the unpicker. Fortunately I have a beautiful quality Clover unpicker that really does make the job straightforward. I decided that I’d take the skirt in along both side seams. I didn’t fancy unpicking the side front and side back panels, which were all neatly topstitched. However, taking in the side seams still required unpicking the waistband and hem topstitching, then unpicking the waistband for a decent section along both side seams. Then I re-sewed, also straightening out the A-line of the pattern into a more streamlined look (‘it’s too sticky-outy at the bottom’).

Modkid Mara skirt in white denim from M Recht

If you look closely there you can see how much I took it in at each side seam. I tried it on her again before I overlocked off the excess and restitched the waistband. I also restitched the hemline after making the hem a little smaller in order to gain a fraction more length.

Modkid Mara skirt in white denim from M Recht

Fortunately the finished skirt now fits her just as she likes it! The deep pockets are a definite bonus, as like most teens her mobile phone is ever present. I lined the pockets in a pretty Anna Maria Horner voile that’s been in stash for years. At first we were concerned about the print showing through the pale denim, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem in wearing.

Modkid Mara skirt in white denim from M Recht

Overall this was a good pattern to work with. Nice details, clear instructions. I chose not to use snaps as the fastening, instead opting for buttons down the front. I did all the topstitching in the the same colour as the denim; Clare didn’t fancy anything contrasting. She figured that the skirt would coordinate with more tops if it was just the one colour.

Modkid Mara skirt in white denim from M Recht

I think that Clare is almost set for summer now. I do have a dress on the ready to sew pile, and I’m sure that other requests will appear, but many wardrobe gaps have now been filled. I’m currently busy with Christmas sewing!

Modkid Mara skirt in white denim from M Recht

adult's clothing · sewing

Lotus Blossom Blouse in red

And it’s another pattern that you’ve seen before!

Love Notions Lotus Blossom tee

I have one of these in dark blue and another in black (with a gold fleck throughout). This time, it’s red! Although it’s that rich, dark red, not quite maroon or burgundy, but definitely not brick or pillar box.

Love Notions Lotus Blossom tee

The Love Notions Lotus Blossom Blouse is SO easy. One piece for the front, one piece for the back, and cut a strip to finish the back neckline. From the pattern website: Do the twist! This top is simple but packs a fun surprise. The dolman sleeved blouse is a flattering top meant for light weight drapey knits that are the same on front and back. The neckline features a gradual v-neck that is a breeze to sew. The back of the blouse can feature a special fabric such as stretch lace or a really cool scrap of knit you’ve been hoarding for years. The surprise in this blouse is the twist at the front. The shirt-tail hem really makes this top a great choice for just about any pants or skirt style. Available in girl’s sizes 2T-16 as well as ladies XS-XXXL.  Fabric recommendations: Lightweight and drapey knits that are the same on both sides such as cotton/rayon, jersey, modal, activewear, dancewear, jersey/rayon.  Knits that are the same on both sides are usually solids and stripes. If you have a print you’d like to use that is not the same on both side you may piece the front.

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I’ll be honest with you, I have no idea what size I sewed.  I would need to pull out the pattern to check, and by now it’s somewhere under a pile of other recently sewn patterns.  I imagine that I sewed a Medium.  Construction was mainly on the sewing machine, with the overlocker used for the side seams.  I finished the hem and sleeve edges with a simple zig-zag.

Love Notions Lotus Blossom tee

The fabric is very soft and drapey, and feels like a rayon spandex. It’s been in stash for a little while (Clare has a tee in it too). This top does need a double-sided fabric, as half of the front shows the reverse side.

Love Notions Lotus Blossom tee

Clearly this pattern works well for me. I haven’t finished with it yet.

children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing · tween

New Look 6389 dress

Because Stella has had a growth spurt, clothes have moved more quickly than usual from Clare’s wardrobe to hers.  Stella is about two years ahead of Clare (maybe a little more) in height for her age.  Outgrown garments used to go from Clare’s wardrobe into plastic tubs for a couple of years before they entered Stella’s wardrobe – now it’s straight from one wardrobe to the other.  They are wearing the same size shoes (pretty much the same size as me) so there’s no more passing those on!  I wonder if Stella will end up taller or if she’s just doing her growing earlier?  Clare didn’t really have a growth ‘spurt’ as such – she just kept on steadily growing and is now quite an average height among her peers.

New Look 6389 in vintage John Kaldor woven

So, the point of all this? I sewed New Look 6389 in the romper version for Clare a couple of years ago, and Stella is now wearing it. Seeing Stella in it prompted me to pull out the pattern again and sew the dress version. Mind you, Stella made all the design choices. Dress, high-low hem, halter neck strap, tie belt at the waist.

New Look 6389 in vintage John Kaldor woven

I’ve mentioned before that New Look have some terrific tween/teen patterns. Kids can be awkward to sew for once they’re no longer little kids. Height, breadth, development, they all vary so much from kid to kid. These cover quite a size range, up to girls size 16, which really helps when sewing for kids that are still kid shaped but larger overall, who wouldn’t fit properly into the shaping of adult patterns.

New Look 6389 in vintage John Kaldor woven

With my girls sizing issues are always at the other end of the spectrum. They’re pretty skinny (which I have to say isn’t due to their abundance of exercise or any disdain for eating junk food – it’s just the way that they are built) and they’ve generally been quite short for their age. Stella is no longer short for her age – she’s one of the taller kids among her peers now – but she’s still skinny. Because I this I chose a style with elastic, which allows for fitting adjustability, and I cut size 10 in the width of the bodice and skirt but size 12 in the length of the bodice and skirt.

New Look 6389 in vintage John Kaldor woven

New Look patterns are also quite consistent in their sizing, so once you’ve worked out what you need to do in one pattern, you can pretty much apply the same principles across the board. Of course, what you need to do will depend on who you are sewing for!

New Look 6389 in vintage John Kaldor woven

The fabric is from very deep stash – I think that it was originally part of June’s stash (a friend’s mum who kindly passed the bulk of her stash on to me when she moved into a retirement village). It’s a John Kaldor woven, possibly polyester, but amazingly good quality. I suspect it’s from the early 80s, guessing from the fabric width and the type of print. It’s random little black dashes on a coral background. Stella chose it. It was fabulous fabric to work with, and had just enough texture that it wasn’t slippery at all.

New Look 6389 in vintage John Kaldor woven

I sewed it predominantly on the sewing machine, using the overlocker to finish seam allowances. I decided to use the rolled hem setting on the overlocker to finish the skirt hem and the bodice flounce, rather than a narrow double turned hem. I think that this was a good decision, especially for the bodice flounce. It is a true flounce, cut as a curve, rather than a frill cut straight. This gives it lovely flare along the bottom edge, much better suited to a rolled hem.

New Look 6389 in vintage John Kaldor woven

From the pattern website: Girls’ pattern includes pull-on jumpsuit, romper, short dress and high low dress each with elastic waist. Jumpsuit and short dress have halter neckline, romper has straps with bows, and high low dress has thick straps.

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The cover claim of ‘easy’ is correct – there’s nothing too complex in either sewing or fitting this garment.  I did try it on Stella and adjust the elastic to size, which I’d recommend over just trusting the elastic lengths given in the pattern.  This pattern has been around for a few years now, and I’m not sure how long New Look keep things in print.  If you’ve got a tween girl to sew for I’d recommend adding this to stash.

New Look 6389 in vintage John Kaldor woven

adult's clothing · sewing

Another Athina

Tessuti actually released the free Athina top pattern last December.  I hadn’t seen it around the internet much until the last few months, but it appears to be rapidly gathering steam.  It wasn’t long after making my first that I made a second (and there is a third planned).

Tessuti Athina top in hand-woven cotton from Laos

I think that I bought the fabric in Luang Prabang, but it could have been Chiang Mai. It’s handwoven, with a border along one selvage. There was just enough for me to cut out this top on the cross grain, placing the pattern pieces along the selvage. It’s size Medium, in the shorter length.

Tessuti Athina top in hand-woven cotton from Laos

Actually, I had to modify the pattern slightly to fit the pattern pieces onto the fabric. The extended sleeve section is not as long as designed – there just wasn’t enough fabric for that. So when I cut out the sleeve part, I had to widen the top of it so that it would be the same measurement as the end of the sleeve section on the main body. The sleeves are shorter overall than the pattern because I had to remove length from both the main body part of the sleeve and the actual sleeve. I feel that I’m writing word soup here, but I hope that you know what I mean.

Tessuti Athina top in hand-woven cotton from Laos

I finished the neckline with some bias binding from stash. The hemline is the fabric selvage. The next time that I sew this pattern I’ll do a forward shoulder alteration – just a centimetre or so should make a bit of difference. I’ll also make the full length sleeves as per the pattern, as I like the look of the longer sleeve rolled up. However, I’m very pleased with how this fabric and pattern have worked together.

Tessuti Athina top in hand-woven cotton from Laos