sewing

Crafty Mamas Queen Bee dress

It seems to me that many sewing bloggers – many people in general – love a fit and flare dress.  You know, a dress where the bodice stays close to the body then it flares out significantly from the waist.  To me, a fit and flare dress is one that is shaped with princess seams and panels (not simply a fitted bodice with a waist seam and gathered/flared/circle/pleated/full in another way skirt).  The Crafty Mamas Queen Bee dress fits this definition perfectly.

Crafty Mamas Queen Bee dress in printed scuba

Firstly – this is NOT a silhouette that I usually wear. I feel that it best highlights a small waist and traditional ideals of female body shapes. I am very thick through my mid-section, especially on my abdomen. I’ve said it before – although I try to embrace my shape and accept that my body is what it is, I still don’t like to emphasise that middle, and you won’t often see side-on photos of me. I’m a committed feminist, but western societal ideas of beauty are still extremely ingrained. However, in the past I have found that Crafty Mamas patterns do a good job of emphasising the parts of my shape that I embrace and de-emphasise those that I don’t. And I’m often interesting in trying a new-to-me silhouette. Hence sewing the Queen Bee dress.

Crafty Mamas Queen Bee dress in printed scuba

The description of the pattern from the Crafty Mamas website is as follows: The Queen Bee is one pattern we guarantee you’ll be sewing up often! In ladies sizes S (4-8) up to 4X ( 26-28), Queen Bee makes you look and feel fabulous!  The flattering princess seams elongate and sling your torso, while the skater style skirt twirls magically about! Sewn from soft cotton lycra knits, you’ll also be super comfortable wearing Queen Bee .  The dress hits below the knee, we have added our very cool pixie style hood, it’s longer than regular hoods and looks amazing knotted up a couple of times/ With a optional kanga style front pocket, choice of regular OR scoop neckline and sleeve variations of sleeveless, cap, short, elbow, 3/4, wrist, or long. The tunik hits mid thigh.  Included at no extra cost is the photo shop size file to be printed out at A0 ( save you cutting and sticky taping!).  Designed for knit fabrics only.

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As you can see, I chose the dress length with long sleeves and a scoop neckline.  There are plenty of options in this pattern.  The fabric is a scuba knit, originally from Darn Cheap Fabrics but given to me from Anna – thanks Anna!  It is a great fabric for this dress for me because of the way that it skims over bulges rather than clings to them.  I also love the colours in the print.

Crafty Mamas Queen Bee dress in printed scuba

I sewed the size L, which is 12-14. I did make a short back waist length alteration (pretty much the same as a sway back alteration), but it hasn’t completely eliminated problems with excess fabric in that area. It still looks a little long there.

Crafty Mamas Queen Bee dress in printed scuba

I topstitched in green thread beside the front and back princess seams for a bit of added interest. Otherwise construction was on the overlocker, with hems and the neckband secured on the sewing machine in a zig-zag stitch – also in green thread. The overlocking was in green too – from memory, the colours that were in the machines from the previous project. Too lazy to change them!

Crafty Mamas Queen Bee dress in printed scuba

There is a LOT of fullness in that skirt, it swishes beautifully! I didn’t anticipate that the scuba fabric would drop where the curves of the skirt are on the bias, but after wearing this dress a couple of times I think that it has. Looks like time to level out and re-hem. Or just embrace the “design feature”.

Crafty Mamas Queen Bee dress in printed scuba

So, overall verdict? I have worn this dress a few times. It’s nice to play with a new silhouette, although it doesn’t quite feel like “me”. I probably wouldn’t wear a summer version of this dress, but in winter worn with stockings, boots, a scarf and a coat, I really rather like it.

Amber Wintergreen Cowl with Queen Bee Dress

Oh, I’d better comment on the cowl. It’s yet another Wintergreen Cowl, this one in yarn I had left after crocheting my Sea Flower Wrap.  The yarn is Rowan Cocoon, and I crocheted it with a 5mm hook.  Fast, satisfying, and a cowl that I have already worn quite a lot.  It just sits so nicely around the neck.

Amber Wintergreen Cowl with Queen Bee Dress

BurdaStyle top and patternless skirt

Tween sewing came up on instagram yesterday, with a question asking where are all the tween patterns? I will do a separate blog post especially about that at a later date, but in the meantime will share some current tween makes.

top based on BurdaStyle no 144 10/2014 in remnant knits

Both this top and skirt are another example of using up scraps. It’s always such a satisfying feeling! Firstly, the top.

top based on BurdaStyle no 144 10/2014 in remnant knits

This top is based on BurdaStyle No 144 10/2014, which is a pattern I have used before for dresses for Clare. I cut it at top length. So really, it’s just the basic pattern pieces for a raglan top – front, back sleeves. I used scuba scraps for the sleeves and scraps harvested from my friend Karen for the front and back.

top based on BurdaStyle no 144 10/2014 in remnant knits

I bound the neckline by applying a strip of the scuba to the neckline right sides together, stitching it down with about a 1cm seam allowance, then wrapping it around to the wrong side and stitching in the ditch from the right side. I hope that’s clear!

top based on BurdaStyle no 144 10/2014 in remnant knits

I sewed the side seams with a 1cm seam allowance by machine so that I could leave this little split at the hemline. I like the added detail. All hems were secured by machine as well. This was a very fast garment to sew, and apparently filled the brief from Clare for a top that was somewhere between casual and dressy, not to loose and not too tight.

top based on BurdaStyle no 144 10/2014 in remnant knits

I’d sewn the skirt a month or two prior, while at Sewjourn in May. It is very straightforward. Armed with Clare’s waist measurement, and her desired skirt length, I sewed a strip of fabric into a waistband with elastic encased in the centre. Remember that this fabric is scuba, so it easily stretches enough to pull on. The elastic in the waistband provides a bit more structure and stability. Then I sewed the rest of the fabric into a tube, pinned the side seams to the waistband side seam locations, and started to play.

Patternless box pleated skirt in scuba from Spotlight

I created box pleats, distributed evenly with three in the front and three in the back.  I think that in the above photo the skirt is twisted around a little bit.  This took a little bit of maths and a little bit of measuring, but basically once everything was pinned to fit and it looked okay I just went ahead and overlocked it to the waistband.  A quick hem and it was done.

Patternless box pleated skirt in scuba from Spotlight

Clare now wears her skirts on her natural waist, after years of wearing them on her hips. A style like this is SO easy to make, and in a knit fabric like this scuba is comfortable to wear as well as to put on. It doesn’t look like ayet another gathered waist skirt, as the waistband is flat and the skirt fabric is pleated, but it still has some fullness. She likes it.

Patternless box pleated skirt in scuba from Spotlight

If you are wanting to know what other tween patterns I have sewn over the past year or two, I have tried to remember to tag them as “tween” so you can sort by the categories drop down somewhere over there on the right.

Style Arc Mason Knit Jacket

This is another repeat – you can see the first Mason jacket I sewed (not in a knit though) here. This time I did as I was told and used the fabric type that the garment was designed for.

Style Arc Mason knit jacket in wool knit from The Cloth Shop

From the Style Arc website: MASON KNIT JACKET: This knee length Ponte knit jacket is given a fresh look with an interesting shawl collar, and large patch pockets , braid or bind the edges or just leave them raw. A truly staple piece for your wardrobe.

mason-jacket

Well, I sort of followed the fabric suggestions, in that I did use a knit.  But it’s not a ponte. It’s a much thicker wool knit with a fluffy jacquard design somehow woven into it.  I bought it from The Cloth Shop on sale at the end of last winter, and stroked it wondering what it would become for some time.

Style Arc Mason knit jacket in wool knit from The Cloth Shop

It took me a while and a little help from instagram to figure out what side I would use as the right side and what side as the wrong. In the end I decided that fluffy needed to be on the outside, with the smoother “painted” look on the inside. Easier to get on an off over other clothes, I figured.

Style Arc Mason knit jacket in wool knit from The Cloth Shop

I left off the pockets, and sewed this up on the overlocker. It was super fast to assemble. My next dilemma was how to finish the edges. I’d cut the selvages off the fabric before cutting out the garment pieces, and decided to apply them to the cuff and front/collar edges. I had barely enough to work with, but the end result is still okay. If I had my time again I would have done the front edges and collar before doing the sleeve edges, which would have made it easier to lay out the pieces of selvage nicely. But I didn’t. That’s the way it goes. I just overlaid the selvedge strips and zig-zagged them in place.

Style Arc Mason knit jacket in wool knit from The Cloth Shop

When working with thicker fabrics like this one it’s important to consider the seam finish of any seams that might show. I sewed the centre back neck/collar seam on the machine so that any parts that did show would be neat and sit flat.

Style Arc Mason knit jacket in wool knit from The Cloth Shop

This is an incredibly warm garment to wear, and is comfortable as well because of the fabric type. In my view, it’s a definite success.

Style Arc Mason knit jacket in wool knit from The Cloth Shop

Style Arc Issy top

I am still sharing garments that I sewed while at Sewjourn in May.  That would be okay if I hadn’t still been sewing more garments since then….anyway, this top is the Style Arc Issy Knit Top.

Style Arc Issy top in wool knit from Clear It

From the Style Arc website: ISSY KNIT TOP: This knit top can be made long-sleeved or sleeveless. The clever neck drape gives this top a distinctive look, while the angled rouching at the side seam is flattering across the front. This fabulous design can be worn casually or dressed up. FABRIC SUGGESTION: Baby wool or any soft knit with a good stretch component.

issy-top

I’ve seen some fabulous versions of this top – including some lengthened to a dress. And Style Arc are right – it is a clever neck drape. This top was surprisingly straight forward to construct. There are minimal pattern pieces – front, back, sleeves – and they all fold and fit exactly as they should. It was very quick to sew.

Style Arc Issy top in wool knit from Clear It

The fabric is a lovely warm wool knit from Clear It – I think that a number of fellow Melbournians have it in their stash. It was beautiful to sew and is lovely to wear. I sewed size 12, my usual Style Arc top/dress size. However, I’m not thrilled with the way that this fits me.

Style Arc Issy top in wool knit from Clear It

Other than the wrinkles at the mid to lower back – and I know that we’ve all seen those before – I think it doesn’t sit as well around the neckline and shoulders on me as it does on many other people. I think that I’d need to make more alterations to fit this pattern better to my shape. Of course, it “fits” me in that I can get it on me and wear it without any issues, but overall it’s not great – the shoulder width especially.

Style Arc Issy top in wool knit from Clear It

I am also super conscious of my gut in this top. The side ruching, and the angled hemline, should theoretically “flatter” my shape, but all that I see when I look at these photos is my midsection. Which is a shame, because I do like the colour on me, and the fabric and style lines are great. Just not on me.

Style Arc Issy top in wool knit from Clear It

As it turns out, my friend Rachel tried this top on when we were on Sewjourn – and it looks FANTASTIC on her. So today I’ll be putting it in the post and sending it to her. We often wear the same size, but she’s taller, has broader shoulders, and none of my midsection bulges. So my Issy top will still get a lot of love.

Hot Patterns Jetsetter Poncho

Continuing with what appears to be a theme for me this winter – overlayers without sleeves – I recently purchased and sewed The Hot Patterns Fast and Fabulous Jetsetter Poncho.

Hot Patterns Jetsetter Poncho in wool blend knit from Super Cheap Fabrics

The description from their website:  A cozy top layer for those chilly days, this super-glam poncho is perfect for medium to heavy-weight fabrics with a little drape,like ponte or double knits, boucle, sweater knits, sweat-shirting or even fleece.

Oversized, relaxed fit, pull-over poncho has a paneled front & back, shaped armholes with facing and a cowl neck.

Make this simply gorgeous style in your favorite cool-weather colors and wear it over slim tailored pants or distressed jeans…this one bridges the gap between too-cool-for-a-sweater, not-cold-enough-for-a-coat weather.

Your funky poncho goes dog walking in the park, snuggles you whilst watching the ball-game and adds that essential cozy layer when you’re jetting off somewhere fabulous.

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Hot Patterns Jetsetter Poncho in wool blend knit from Super Cheap Fabrics

I took a bit of a punt with the fabric that I used, a very soft wool/acrylic blend knit from Super Cheap Fabrics, and it has definitely affected the success of this project. It’s a little too thin, stretchy and drapey for this poncho. See that bit in the description about perfect for medium to heavy-weight fabrics? That’s not what I used.

Hot Patterns Jetsetter Poncho in wool blend knit from Super Cheap Fabrics

I did rather like the pattern. The shaping is nice, as are the arm opening facings. It’s not a restrictive garment. But I really do need to sew it again in a more suitable fabric. I’ve still been wearing it, but it’s not as it should be. Which is all due to my fabric choice. It’s a lovely fabric, and I’ve used it successfully for other garment styles.  Lesson will be learned one day!

Hot Patterns Jetsetter Poncho in wool blend knit from Super Cheap Fabrics

Kwik Sew 3977 vest

My friend Kathryn sewed a Kwik Sew 3977 jacket and vest when we were at Sewjourn in May.  Both looked fabulous – so the pattern quickly joined my stash.

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k3977

Shortly after I was at The Cloth Shop in Ivanhoe, and spotted some teal boiled wool knit.  Oh, how perfect for a Kwik Sew 3977 vest!

Kwik Sew 3977 vest in boiled wool knit from The Cloth Shop

Now, the lapels on my vest don’t fall the same way as the line drawing or the cover photos. I figure that there are possibly a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, fabric choice. This wool knit is pretty thick. Secondly, I hemmed all the edges, and the pattern instructions would have you leave them raw. I found that the knit wanted to curl so looked better with a simple hem that was turned once then zig-zagged along its edges to secure it.

Kwik Sew 3977 vest in boiled wool knit from The Cloth Shop

Deciding which side of the fabric was the “right” side3 was also difficult. In the end I went with the smoother side on the outside and the fluffier side on the inside. This also meant that the fluffier side showed on the collar. I made sure that the centre back neck seam was finished so that it would look neat when turned back. Other construction was on the overlocker.

Kwik Sew 3977 vest in boiled wool knit from The Cloth Shop

I especially like wearing this vest over a teal top and paired with my crocheted Montville shawl, which was finished in March and blogged here.

Kwik Sew 3977 vest in boiled wool knit from The Cloth Shop

I’ve think I’ve been taking photo posing inspiration from Stella!  I really love this vest – it’s super warm to wear, and that colour is absolutely me.  I plan on sewing a jacket at some stage too.

Kwik Sew 3977 vest in boiled wool knit from The Cloth Shop

More Vogue 9057 tops

I think that Vogue 9057 is the gift that keeps on giving.  I’ve sewn view D/E a couple of times already.  Time to give views B and C a go!

Vogue 9057 tops

View B is a long sleeved top with a diagonal hemline and split at one side. View C is a sleeveless top with a diagonal hemline going the other way. The two are designed to be worn separately or layered one over the other.

Vogue 9057 tops

I used a cotton/spandex from stash to sew the view B top (it could have contained some viscose as well). I sewed size Medium (12-14) after shortening the pattern through the body with a petite adjustment. Once again I’m very happy with the fit from the front – the back, not so much. I really need to start tinkering more with my patterns in this regard since I now own about six books on fitting and really have no excuse for not making more effort.

Vogue 9057 tops

I would still be quite happy to wear this top alone. As expected, construction was primarily on the overlocker, with the machine used for hemming. I think I used a zig-zag stitch to secure everything in place.

Vogue 9057 tops

You don’t get a photo of the sleeveless view C top on its own because it is actually a fairly sheer mesh! It layers very nicely over the long sleeved tee.

Vogue 9057 tops

Both the neck and the armholes are finished with bands that I attached with the overlocker. Other seams were overlocked as well. I left the bottom hem edge raw.

Vogue 9057 tops

I often wonder what to do with sheer stretch mesh fabrics – there are quite a few around. I think that layering works quite nicely for these. I have a few in stash, despite never being sure of their end purpose, and think that I could do with mixing them in more with other garments.

Vogue 9057 tops

As with the long sleeved tee, I shortened the mesh top through the body. I think that I’ll also try layering it over tees in other colours – maybe even over short sleeved tees or tanks. Won’t hurt to experiment a little! I particularly like the way that the back neckline of these tees sits flat against my body, despite the curvature of my upper back that is rapidly threatening to one day become a “dowager’s hump”.

Vogue 9057 tops

As a reminder, here are the line drawings for this pattern:

v9057

Ah, so many tops that could potentially be sewn, but so little time in which to do it!

Vogue 9057 tops