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

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

adult's clothing · sewing

Pinnacle top

By now you’ve figured out that I’ve only just started blogging what I sewed in January.  I really don’t want to let my blog lapse, for about a million reasons, and I won’t ever stop blogging, but sometimes it just takes a little more effort than I can find in me.  I started a new job in February, and as with any new job it is a little exhausting learning new processes and procedures.  I’m lucky – I’m working alongside people I’ve worked with before, doing types of work that I’ve done in the past – but it still takes a while to get into the groove.  Much of the work is done remotely from home, and I’ve traded off a permanent job for an hourly rate with flexibility (yay for having every school holidays with the girls). Overall it’s great, but I’m still in the early days of adapting to change.

Papercut Patterns Pinnacle top - lengthened

One of the first things that I sewed for the year was the Papercut Patterns Pinnacle top. I bought the pdf pattern when it was on sale – I consider Papercut Patterns, like Named patterns, to be very expensive, and as a consequence I don’t own or sew many of their patterns. There was a lot that appealed to me about this one, and I admit that I was probably influenced by the number I’d already seen popping up on Instagram. My purchase was also influenced by the number of options – it can be sewn as a knit sweatshirt as well as a woven top, there are a couple of sleeve lengths, and there are two neckline options. I also really wanted to check out the construction and the shape of the pattern pieces.

Papercut Patterns Pinnacle top - as drafted

So, to start. Sizing. I sewed straight size Small, despite measuring the Medium. And have you noticed something else in the two photos I’ve already posted? The second one (immediately above this paragraph) is the pattern exactly as drafted. See how long this top is(n’t)? I am only 158cm tall, and I have a short torso. This top really is designed for high waist bottoms or for those who feel much better about their bellies than I do.

Papercut Patterns Pinnacle top - as drafted

So, what to do? I knew that I was unlikely to wear this top at this length. I rifled through my scraps – and there weren’t many – and managed to cut a band to add to the bottom. So that’s what I did! The width of the band was entirely dictated by the amount of fabric I had left. I think it added about 5cm to the length overall.

Papercut Patterns Pinnacle top - lengthened

Oh, it’s looking crumpled in these photos! I really like this printed cotton/linen that my friend Kathryn gave me – it was lovely to work with and the print is subtle yet defined.  However, it obscures the lovely design lines.  It’s really worth sewing this pattern in a solid – which will definitely happen at some stage.

Papercut Patterns Pinnacle top - lengthened

The fronts and the backs are cut in one – there is no shoulder seam. So there is a centre back seam, and by the time you get to sewing front fronts to the centre front inset, the fronts are on the bias. It’s interesting drafting! You really do need to pay attention when sewing the fronts so that you get the point nice and neat. It’s helpful if you’ve done patchwork in the past! You really do need the line diagram to have a better appreciation of the pattern.

Screen Shot 2019-02-24 at 9.42.50 am

I sewed variation 1 with the shorter sleeve option, in a woven.  I’m going to try variation 3 in a knit at some stage for winter, but will need to think hard about whether it will need lengthening or whether the bottom band in the pattern will be enough.  In regard to the V neckline – it’s a deep V, but I found it quite wearable.  However, that will depend a bit on the distance of your shoulder to bust point.  I have noticed that many people have raised the V, so take note of that if you are planning to sew this and prefer not to have a deep neckline.  I imagine that it also depends a bit on what type of bra you wear under it.  I am a boring beige cotton bra wearer, and it didn’t expose the bridge of my bra but certainly came down very close to it.

Papercut Patterns Pinnacle top - lengthened

Hopefully if you zoom in on that photo you can see the seamlines a little better! The neckline facing is also stitched in place from one angled front seam around the neckline to the other angled front seam. There’s actually lots that I like about this pattern. It is simple – there are very few pattern pieces – but it’s clever. It is designed to be oversized, so choose the size that you want to sew taking the design ease and your own preferences into account. Consider the finished length, and the depth of the V neckline. Or just launch in, like I did, then adapt as needed!

Papercut Patterns Pinnacle top - lengthened

adult's clothing · sewing · teen

Tuesday Stitches Nautilus Swimsuit top

Way back at the beginning of January we had a run of insanely hot weather in Melbourne.  The evening before a predicted 44 degree day, Clare asked me to sew up the Tuesday Stitches Nautilus Swimsuit top that was in pieces in my sewing room, so that she could wear it with the Vernazza two piece pants I sewed a couple of months prior.

Tuesday Stitches Nautilus bikini top with Vernazza two piece bikini pants.

This actually took me much less time to sew than I had anticipated. The instructions were excellent. The pattern description from the website is as follows: The Nautilus swimsuit has an elegant twist center front, like the shell of its namesake cephalopod. The pattern is fully lined and comes with 4 different cup size options (AA cup, A/B cup, C/D cup, or DD+ cup) to make fitting a breeze. Available as a one-piece suit (View A) with a cute little peek-a-boo under the twist or a bikini (View B/C). The bikini comes with twists on the bottom that echo the bodice twist (View B) or plain (View C). Instructions are included for optional cup insertion and side boning for coverage and support. The straps can be tied around the neck halter style or can be attached to the back.

nautilus_1000x1000-800x800

I sewed the bikini top, view B/C, in the smallest size with the AA cup.  The fabric is from Rathdowne Fabrics, and I think that the lining also came from them.  I had to nip out to Spotlight at the last minute to find the clasp to close the back – fortunately I got there just in time!

Tuesday Stitches Nautilus bikini top with Vernazza two piece bikini pants.

Tuesday Stitches Nautilus bikini top with Vernazza two piece bikini pants.

Tuesday Stitches Nautilus bikini top with Vernazza two piece bikini pants.

Tuesday Stitches Nautilus bikini top with Vernazza two piece bikini pants.

Tuesday Stitches Nautilus bikini top with Vernazza two piece bikini pants.

Sometimes photos give you a better idea of construction than I can put into words! This was completely assembled on the sewing machine – no overlocker got anywhere near this. I adjusted the back after she’d tried it on so that we knew the clasp would be in the correct position for a snug fit.

Tuesday Stitches Nautilus bikini top with Vernazza two piece bikini pants.

There is a sewalong for the Nautilus bathers over on the Tuesday Stitches blog.  As with most sewing, bathers get easier and easier to sew the more often you do it.  The sewalongs are very useful when you start off.  I find that the biggest problems are to do with how much to stretch the elastic when applying it.  The basic answer – don’t stretch it much at all!  Bathers are designed with negative ease, to cling to your body.  As soon as they are worn the elastic stretches out further.  If you cut the elastic much smaller than the bathers pieces they are likely to cut in to you when you wear them.  On flatter parts of the body I don’t stretch the elastic at all.  On curvier ones, like on the back legline, I stretch it a little more.  I use a simple zig-zag to apply the elastic – first to apply it to the wrong side, then again after I turn it to the wrong side to secure it.  Once again, you can see that in the photos.

Tuesday Stitches Nautilus bikini top with Vernazza two piece bikini pants.

This top pairs beautifully with the Vernazza bottoms, and Clare was extremely happy wearing this in the backyard pool with her friends on that absurdly hot day!

Tuesday Stitches Nautilus bikini top with Vernazza two piece bikini pants.

adult's clothing · sewing

Autumn dress for Mum

Another of the Christmas gifts that I sewed for my Mum was the Style Arc Autumn dress. I’d sewn myself a version around a year prior, and Mum expressed interest in one for herself at the time.

Style Arc Autumn dress in printed linen from The Cloth Shop Ivanhoe

I took these photos on an incredibly hot and dry day – you can almost see the heat radiating in the glare! Fortunately I sewed the dress from linen (from The Cloth Shop) which made it about as comfortable as you can be in those types of weather conditions.

Style Arc Autumn dress in printed linen from The Cloth Shop Ivanhoe

I sewed Mum size 16, without alterations. This dress is a little shorter than her usual preference – although I think that it looks quite perfect at this length. Because I’d sewn it before, constructions was relatively straightforward – except for that large pleat at the back yoke!

Style Arc Autumn dress in printed linen from The Cloth Shop Ivanhoe

From what I’ve read on blogs and instagram, pretty much everyone has trouble getting that pleat correct. I note that I think I have it as designed for Mum’s dress, but when I go back and look at how I did the pleat on my dress I reckon that I got it ‘wrong’ the first time that I sewed it. My tips: make sure that you have included EVERY marking. Have the pattern pieces close to hand. Study the illustrations. Pin the yoke to the ironing board to act as a width and marking reference. Pin the back piece just below it, aligning it with the yoke piece, starting at the outer edges until you get to the first markings. Then take it slow with the folds, patiently folding and refolding until all the marks line up correctly and the back piece is folded to the size of the front piece with all markings lining up as labelled. It does work in the end, trust me. But be patient!

autumn-dress

In included the inseam side pockets – always handy for a hanky if you are Mum, or a mobile phone if you are me – and included all the topstitching as marked.  Construction was mostly on the sewing machine, with the overlocker used to finish seam allowances.  I hand-sewed the collar stand facing in place on the inside of the dress.

Style Arc Autumn dress in printed linen from The Cloth Shop Ivanhoe

This dress has a number of details that make it a pleasure to wear. I particularly like the curved hemline, which works nicely with the slight fullness provided by the front pleat, as well as the back pleat. Note that the back pleat creates lots of room and airiness through the body of the dress, but the pattern piece narrows in again by the time it gets to the hemline so there’s not lots of excess there around your knees.

Style Arc Autumn dress in printed linen from The Cloth Shop Ivanhoe

The lack of closures also makes this a very easy dress to wear – just slip it over your head and go!

Style Arc Autumn dress in printed linen from The Cloth Shop Ivanhoe

When I sewed this for myself I wondered whether it would have benefitted from a high rounded back alteration – and I wondered whether I should have done one for Mum. It looks fine in these photos however. I’ll need to ask Mum how she finds it to wear.  I really love the colourway on Mum, and the fabric was definitely a pleasure to sew.  The more I sew with linen, the more that I love it.  This dress should be perfect for summer in the climate where Mum lives.

Style Arc Autumn dress in printed linen from The Cloth Shop Ivanhoe

And by the way – Happy Birthday Mum!