sewing

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!

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!

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!

Sea Change Top

I’m going to start this post with a disclaimer:  I pattern tested this top.  Which means that I didn’t pay for the pattern.  I provided the fabric and my time free of charge.  This was all done willingly because I liked the style of the pattern and I also like the designer.  I think that I’m still able to give an unbiased review, but according to research the simple act of being given something does influence you, whether you think it does or not, so take this blog post as you will.  There’s a well researched and thought-provoking series about this and how it applies to sewing blogging over on Zoopolis here, here, here, here and here.  Anyway, I’ll let the photos tell the story!

Test sew - Sea Change top by Lily Sage and Co ini viscose jersey from Tessuti

I love a knit top. I love a loose knit top. And I love a top that can be constructed entirely on the overlocker.  In around an hour.

Test sew - Sea Change top by Lily Sage and Co ini viscose jersey from Tessuti

Debbie of Lily Sage & Co, who designed this top, is very tall and very slim, so I was curious to see how it would work on 158cm plumpish me. I have to say that I think that it works very well! I sewed a straight size Large as per my measurements and made no alterations at all. That’s how I usually do things if I am pattern testing – I think that feedback on the pattern exactly as it stands is important.  From the pattern page:


The Sea Change top is loosely fitted, with wide kimono sleeves. The hem is designed to fall just below the natural waist for a modest, cropped look that will both complement and showcase high waist pants and skirts.  The top length can easily be lengthened through the top. The armbands and bottom hem band can also be altered in length for different looks.

Recommended fabrics
Light to medium weight, drapey fabrics will be the most flattering choices for this top. Options include knit fabrics like jersey, viscose, and rayon. Woven fabrics like silk satin, silk crepe de chine, and habutai will also suit this pattern. Extra fabric may be needed to match plaids, stripes or directional prints.

Test sew - Sea Change top by Lily Sage and Co ini viscose jersey from Tessuti

This is definitely loosely fitted, and I could possibly have made the size Medium, but I think that the Large is absolutely fine. I used one fabric throughout, but the arm and bottom bands can be made in a contrast. The pdf pattern went together well, and the instructions were very thorough.

Test sew - Sea Change top by Lily Sage and Co ini viscose jersey from Tessuti

The fabric is a rayon/lycra jersey remnant from Tessuti. I pre-washed it (as I do most garment fabrics) and I have a very strong suspicion that it is going to fade and pill very quickly. I love the colours and the drape but am quite uncertain about the quality of this fabric. I won’t be happy if it deteriorates after just a couple of wears!

Test sew - Sea Change top by Lily Sage and Co ini viscose jersey from Tessuti

There is a discount code for Lily Sage & Co at the moment. It also applies to the Twirl To Me dress, which I pattern tested as well. I’ll get it up on the blog once I have some better photos.  This is a top pattern that I will definitely use again.  I’ll be interested to try it in a woven.

Test sew - Sea Change top by Lily Sage and Co ini viscose jersey from Tessuti
My husband has named this my “woman on fire” top!  The rest of my outfit is all from warehouse outlets: skirt from Mesop; necklace from Elk; tights from Mesop; shoes from Diana Ferrari.

Tessuti Mandy boat tee

Now first of all – I didn’t actually make this tee!  I was going to, I have the (free) Tessuti Mandy boat tee pattern, but when my friend Karen offered it to me because she thought it would suit me better than her, I wasn’t going to say no.

Tessuti Mandy boat necked tee

This tee has definite similarities to the Grainline Hemlock tee (also a free pattern), but there are some subtle differences. The Mandy has a boat neckline that is turned and stitched, whereas the hemlock has a straightforward round neckline with a band. The Mandy also has tighter sleeves, which balance the large boxy shape of the body. The Hemlock is oversized and boxy through the body as well, but not quite as much as this – and the sleeves are not quite as fitted.  Both patterns are one size only.

Tessuti Mandy boat necked tee

So yes, they are same same – but different. I rather like the Mandy boat neckline, that is turned and twin needle stitched before the shoulder seams are sewn. I did actually do a very small amount of the sewing on this tee – I hemmed it, so maybe I do have some small claim to it being of my own making. The fabric is a beautiful quality cotton/lycra that Karen found somewhere and I’ve used before for a Renfrew top. Isn’t it great when friends share their stash and their sewing?

Tessuti Mandy boat necked tee

By the way, the skirt in these photos is the reverse side of the handbag printed skirt by Ngati Fifi that I mentioned a couple of blog posts ago.

Lunch Box tee and culottes

The Oliver + S Lunch Box tee and culottes pattern really appealed to me when it was first released.  Despite culottes being fashionable at the moment, I just haven’t been able to bring myself to make a pair for me.  Being 158cm tall, thick around the middle and middle-aged could have something to do with that – as well as having worn them the last time around (which reminds me of knickerbockers…who else had corduroy knickerbockers, worn with a checked ruffled shirt some time around the early 80s…anyway, I digress).  So when I spotted the Lunch Box pattern, I thought that I could make some for my kids!  For Clare, to be precise.

Oliver + S Lunch Box tee in striped knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics with Lunch Box Culottes in cotton/viscose twill from Rathdowne Fabrics

I’d better get things straight from the outset – this pattern was my choice, not Clare’s. I really, really wanted to make some culottes. So it’s probably not surprising that although Clare has said “it looks good” she has also said “but I’m not sure that it’s really my style”.

Oliver + S Lunch Box Culottes in cotton/viscose twill from Rathdowne Fabrics

The Oliver + S pattern description says this pattern features wide, pleated culottes that look like a full skirt but can be worn for activities from biking to climbing on the monkey bars. The knit top can be sewn up as a T-shirt with cute cuffed sleeves or a sweatshirt with pockets. As always, it was a pleasure to sew. In my experience Oliver + S patterns are consistently excellent, both in terms of the pattern drafting and the instructions. No criticisms there! I sewed size 10 for both the top and the culottes.

Oliver + S Lunch Box Culottes in cotton/viscose twill from Rathdowne Fabrics

The fabric for the culottes came from Rathdowne Fabrics. It was describe on the roll as 100% cotton, but it certainly didn’t feel like it. In fact, it felt like it had a large rayon or viscose content. A burn test in the shop supported my theory, and the saleswoman agreed. It is a twill with a super soft washed finish, and sewed beautifully. It also feels lovely against the skin. The elastic is just in the back of the waistband of the culottes, and it is pulled rather tight for Clare. This is reflected in how the back really does look like a skirt, whereas you can more easily tell from the front that it is divided into culottes. Can I mention how peeved I am getting at the moment with wide legged pants being called culottes? They aren’t! They’re palazzo pants, or wide-legged pants, or gauchos. But they are NOT culottes, which really are divided skirts.  (I do think that these DO meet the definition of culottes, by the way).
Okay, rant over.

Oliver + S Lunch Box tee in striped knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The top is made from what I think is a cotton/lycra (although it may also involve viscose) knit from the Darn Cheap Fabrics $2 table. I really, really like this knit, and am glad that I have quite a bit left! It’s lovely quality and the colours go perfectly with the culottes. They will also work well with jeans, and I suspect that I will most often see them worn in that combination. The pattern is a great one for playing with stripe direction. Because the fabric has a fair lycra content it was also okay to cut the neckband on the cross grain.

Oliver + S Lunch Box tee in striped knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics with Lunch Box Culottes in cotton/viscose twill from Rathdowne Fabrics

There are little pockets in the front, tucked into the seam between the upper front and the lower band. Potentially useless, but really cute. That seam was sewn on the sewing machine, but everything else was done on the overlocker.

Oliver + S Lunch Box tee in striped knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Would it be really bad if I used the same fabric and the Bento Tee pattern to make myself the same top as Clare? I’m sure that my younger girl would be thrilled if I did that, but I’m not so certain that my tween would agree.

Oliver + S Lunch Box tee in striped knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics with Lunch Box Culottes in cotton/viscose twill from Rathdowne Fabrics

Simplicity 1366

It seems as though most of the sewing blogosphere has already made Simplicity 1366.  I now understand why this has been such a popular pattern.

Simplicity 1366 top in size 12

Simplicity describe this as a “loose fitting short sleeve top”. Well yes, it is. But they don’t say that it is dartless, with elbow length sleeves, and a slightly cropped length. Or that it has dropped shoulders that set in beautifully and seem to sit well on everyone.

Simplicity 1366 top in size 12

Yes, there’s a fair bit of fabric pooling there – I should have shortened the back waist. But otherwise, it fits as an oversized woven top should. I made size 12 without alteration. Remember that I’m only 158cm tall, so this would be slightly cropped on lots of people. I finished the neckline with contrasting bias binding, but no-one can see that when I’m wearing it. So here is photographic proof.

Simplicity 1366 bias binding detail

This is very easy to construct and doesn’t take a great deal of fabric. From what I’ve seen elsewhere it can be made successfully from knits or wovens, and it’s easy enough to alter the sleeve length. Those dropped shoulders are in just the right spot.

Simplicity 1366 top in size 12

I actually made this top so that I would have something to wear with this skirt that I recently – gasp! – bought. I find it so hard to buy things that I feel I could make myself, but this skirt really called to me. I adore the African wax cotton print. And it’s bags! How could I resist! The skirt comes from Ngati Fifi. It’s a wrap skirt with poppers that make it highly adjustable, and it’s reversible! I’ll show you the other side in another blog post soon.

Simplicity 1366 top in size 12The yellow cotton I used for the top was originally in Anna’s stash – it’s lightweight and has a shot appearance.  Although I love mustard, I don’t generally wear yellow – in fact, it’s only been in the last year or two that I’ve come around to giving it a go.  As long as I accessorise with colour and wear lipstick, I think it’s okay.  I’ll definitely be using this pattern again to make some more simple tops that will work with this skirt.