sewing

Molly and Megan and Fay

I am delving back into the rapidly receding past with this blog post, since all three garments were sewn while at Sewjourn in May.  Two of the patterns are repeats – the Style Arc Molly top and the Style Arc Fay skirt.  The cardigan is the Tessuti Megan Longline Cardigan.

Style Arc Molly top and Fay skirt and Tessuti Megan longline cardigan

I’ll start with the patterns I’ve used before, which were for the top and skirt. The petrol blue knit is a medium weight viscose from Darn Cheap Fabrics – one of those fabrics that you wish you had more of (especially since it was from the $2 table). The Fay skirt is self-lined, and is essentially a long tube (with slight shaping) that folds into itself to fully enclose the side seams, then has elastic applied around the waist edges. No hemming needed, so it’s one of the fastest garments to sew ever. I shortened the pattern by folding out a chunk to retain the slightly pegged shaping. It does take a fair bit of fabric, because of the self-lining, but it’s worth it. The skirt was the third garment I cut out for this outfit, and used up all of the solid.

Style Arc Fay skirt in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The first of these three garments to be cut out was actually the cardigan, and there was a decent sized scrap left over. Suddenly I realised that I could cut the front of a Molly top from the printed scrap and match it with some solid petrol blue viscose that was in stash for the back, sleeves and neck band.  My cardigan has just evolved into part of a three piece outfit.

Style Arc Molly top and Fay skirt

The fabrics worked together beautifully, and the neckband is just drapey enough to fall into nice folds. This is only a small cowl, and I am finding it highly wearable. You can find my previous Molly tops here and here.

Style Arc Molly top and Fay skirt

Now to the cardigan! This cardigan is the opposite to the rest of the outfit in many ways. The pattern was new to me, and the fabric much more expensive than the petrol blue viscose used for the rest of the outfit. The print is from Tessuti, and it’s a viscose knit. I bought two metres to make this cardigan, and other than the scrap that I used for the Molly top it took every little bit. I think that I even had to piece the bands. But it’s in my colours – loads of them! It’s currently still available on their website here.

Style Arc Molly top and Fay skirt and Tessuti Megan longline cardigan

I really wish that I had some outdoor action photos of this cardigan, because it is actually much nicer than in these photos. Tessuti describe the pattern as follows: This longline flared cardigan features full length sleeves, a centre front and neckline bind and flared side seams with an asymmetrical hemline. The simple style looks fabulous worn over sleeveless tops, pants or dresses and is a wonderful wardrobe staple. Ideal for soft jersey knits such as viscose/elastane and wool jersey.

Style Arc Molly top and Fay skirt and Tessuti Megan longline cardigan

I sewed the Medium, which is my usual Tessuti size, and didn’t make any length alterations despite my lack of height. The only fiddly part was attaching the bands along the fronts. I was slightly confused by the instructions a couple of times, but once I just used my brain instead of relying on the instructions I figured out how to do the area where the bands meet the hemline. I wish that Tessuti would format their instruction pages a little more carefully so that instructions are always on the same page as the photos that they relate to. I often get confused as to whether I should be looking at the photo above or the one below. Please tell me that I’m not the only one!

Style Arc Molly top and Fay skirt and Tessuti Megan longline cardigan

This is a pattern that I know I will use again. I’m really pleased with my unintentional three piece outfit. Isn’t it great when things evolve like this!  So far this is the only way that I’ve worn the cardigan – I need to start mixing it with other clothes from my wardrobe. After all, I chose the fabric because I thought that it would coordinate well with the rest of my things!

Another Morris and Maritime

Right, another repeat.  This is my second go at the Grainline Morris blazer and my third at the Liesl + Co Maritime tee.

Grainline Morris blazer in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I really went against my own advice on this one and used an even drapier knit for the Morris than last time. But I knew to stitch down those facings to prevent the front from sagging! The fabric is a textured poly knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics. I used a khaki version of the same fabric in a Linden earlier and have noticed that Emma has sewn up the fuchsia into a top as well.

Grainline Morris blazer in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This time I added an inch to the length of the sleeves to make them full length. There were no other alterations. I overlocked around the edge of the facing rather than turning it under as per the pattern instructions, and machine stitched it into place right around the entire jacket. There is still the same turn of cloth issue under the back neck, because I was too lazy to fix it, but it isn’t a big deal when wearing. This was mostly constructed on the overlocker, other than the topstitching and neck/shoulder seams.

Grainline Morris blazer in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics with Liesl and Co Maritime tee and Style Arc Linda pants

In these end-of-work-day photos I can see that the jacket is grabbing a bit above the bust and folds are forming. I suspect that is a fabric issue more than a fit issue in this case. There was enough ease in this jacket to really not need a FBA for a C cup! So, on to the Liesl + Co Maritime tee.

Liesl and Co Maritime tee

I made the same size as my previous Maritime tees (reviews are here and here) but lengthened the sleeves to full length by overlaying the Deer & Doe Plantain tee sleeve as a guide for finished length and width. The fabric is an almost-sheer knit with a slight sheen that came to me from Anna but I think she originally bought it at The Cloth Shop. I’m pretty impressed with my stripe matching. Not much more to say about this pattern. It’s a nice relaxed fit basic. The pattern does include FBA instructions for those who need them. I intend to do a side by side comparison of this pattern and Simplicity 1366 when I get myself organised. Don’t hold your breath, but it will happen!

Liesl and Co Maritime tee

The pants I’m wearing in these photos are the Style Arc Linda pants, in a thick stretch fabric and originally blogged here. These are an excellent work pant. This was such a comfortable outfit! Thanks to those of you who commented on Dad’s leather cap – I really do appreciate your lovely words. Thanks also to the two blog readers who introduced themselves to me at the Melbourne Craft and Quilt Fair yesterday! It was really lovely to meet you and have a quick chat. I hadn’t been to the fair for a couple of years and really enjoyed my day. There seemed to be more variety of stalls, displays and crafts than the last time that I attended (and more room to sit and rest) and the quilts on display were superb. Clare and I had a ball – and came home with a bedazzler.  Hot fix crystals, here we come!  I also came home with some BabyLock brochures and a savings plan in mind….

Leather Flat Cap for Dad

I’ve sewn the You Sew Girl! Flat Cap at least twice before, but the previous versions were in fabric (as per the pattern).  This time I sewed one in leather.

Flat cap in leather for Dad

My dad is one of those guys who always wears a hat. As soon as he leave the house, a hat goes on his head. In summer it has a broad brim (skin cancers are rife in our family) and in winter it provides some warmth and a little protection from glare. Dad has worn his denim and wool versions of the flat cap quite often, and when his purchased leather cap started to look the worse for wear I figured that I couldn’t put it off any longer.  It was time to sew with leather.

Flat cap in leather for Dad

I have sewn with pleather and vinyl and other tricky fabrics before, but found that I faced some different issues when sewing real leather. After watching a leather bag class on Craftsy, googling sewing with leather, drawing on the power of the Instagram sewing mind, and simple trial and error, I determined that for my machine to sew leather effectively I needed the following:

  • a walking foot (the teflon foot just didn’t work)
  • a leather needle – size 14
  • normal Gutermann thread
  • clips and/or double sided adhesive to hold pieces in place
  • a whole lot of patience and taking it slowly.

But after all that, it really wasn’t that hard to sew! Because I’d used the pattern before – and like all You Sew Girl! patterns, the instructions are excellent and the drafting spot on – I didn’t have to think too much about the construction and rather could just focus on manipulating the leather.

Flat cap in leather for Dad

And yes, Dad really likes it! I sewed size Small (he loves the fit as he says it comes down to just the right place at the back) and after consultation we decided not to secure the brim to the front of the cap. The leather came from New South Wales Leather Co, who have a showroom in Collingwood. I actually bought three hides, as I plan to sew myself some bags. The service there was very helpful, and the range of hides enormous.  I’m really pleased that I have finally stopped procrastinating about sewing with leather.

DCF Winter Challenge – Lekala 4108 short jacket with Itch To Stitch Lindy petal skirt

We are right in the middle of winter, and the polar vortex has well and truly landed in Melbourne.  I must have been influenced by the predictable sea of Melbourne black when I selected the fabric for Emma‘s and my Darn Cheap Fabrics seasonal challenge.  I have been actively trying to get black out of my wardrobe, but there were enough shards of colour in this fabric to persuade me to buy it anyway. I also thought that it was something that Emma would definitely like.

Lekala 4108 jacket and Itch To Stitch Lindy Petal skirt in scuba from Darn Cheap Fabrics

As it turns out, Emma liked this fabric so much that she already had some of it! There is another funny coincidence in what we chose to sew as well – but you’ll have to pop over to her blog to find that bit out. So, back to what I made. The jacket is Lekala 4108, and the the skirt is a free pattern from Itch To Stich, the Lindy petal skirt.

Lekala 4108 jacket and Itch To Stitch Lindy Petal skirt in scuba from Darn Cheap Fabrics

So, I’ll start with the skirt. First off, the pattern is free – that is always a bonus! I cut out size Small for the hips but graded up two sizes to Large for the waist as per my measurements and didn’t make any alterations to the length. The waistband is cut separately, but the elastic isn’t fully encased. It’s a different waistband treatment to usual, and it seems to work okay but if I used this pattern again (and I probably will) I’ll encase the elastic in the waistband completely and sew it on to the top of the skirt.  I twin needled the hems to secure them in place.  Scuba is very easy to sew with; the edges don’t require much finishing, and it’s quite stable.  It is of course polyester to the max, but in Melbourne winter a bit of polyester doesn’t really go astray.  We need the warmth!

Lekala 4108 jacket and Itch To Stitch Lindy Petal skirt in scuba from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I’m happy with the fit and the length, although I am wearing it rather high up on my “waist”. The taller among you may need to be aware of the finished length at the centre front where the two “petals” of the skirt overlap one another.  Okay on my 158cm, but it might be a little more revealing on some.  Overall verdict on the pattern?  A definite winner. Lekala 4108 short jacket 186_technical_drawing_924

The jacket is Lekala 4108. I have learned a lesson with Lekala – wait for an illustration on a person so that you can gauge the overall proportions rather than just relying on the line drawing of the garment itself. I had no idea that this pattern was going to be so cropped – although the description “short jacket” should have given me a clue. The sleeves are also cropped, so overall this really isn’t the jacket that I had in mind.  The line drawing was extremely deceptive, in my opinion.  A cautionary tale for all!

Lekala 4108 jacket and Itch To Stitch Lindy Petal skirt in scuba from Darn Cheap Fabrics

There was also an issue with the drafting at the centre back of the jacket. It kicked out terribly where there is a seamed and faced band. I unpicked it and resewed it after removing a wedge of fabric, which has improved things and made it lie flat, but my fix has left the overall finish at the centre back hemline looking less than professional.

Lekala 4108 jacket and Itch To Stitch Lindy Petal skirt in scuba from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Otherwise the fit is good, as I hoped it would be with Lekala’s made to measure patterns. I should point out that scuba is definitely not one of the recommended fabrics – Lekala suggest “blouse fabric, lining” and it’s designed for wovens. I also left out the lining. So really, is this a fair review of the pattern? I’m not sure. I’m half tempted to sew another unlined version for summer in a woven fabric, but have a whole lot of other summer jacket patterns ahead of it in my mental sewing queue.  As expected the instructions were rather brief in parts, and I would like it if there were more notches and markings on the pattern pieces to help with alignment and generally keeping things the right way up.  Despite these minuses, Lekala patterns are definitely great value for money.

Lekala 4108 jacket and Itch To Stitch Lindy Petal skirt in scuba from Darn Cheap Fabrics

So to the final verdict – will I wear this?  I have a rather strong feeling that I won’t.  The skirt might get some wear with other garments, but in this combination, or the jacket alone?  I’ll have to wait and see.

Lekala 4108 jacket and Itch To Stitch Lindy Petal skirt in scuba from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Emma’s blog post should be going up around the same time as mine (if I know how to schedule things properly!) so head on over and see what she made from the same fabric.

Lux vest

I think it may have been Anna who first alerted me to this pattern.  Figgy’s Lux Vest is for kids.  It’s a simple one piece pattern for a vest made in whatever fake fur you are able to lay your hands on.

Figgys Lux vest for Clare

I sewed the largest size for Clare, which is the 8/9. My tips for this pattern? Print the pattern pieces twice so that you can tape them together to have one big flat pattern piece. You really don’t want to be cutting fake fur on the fold.

Figgys Lux vest for Clare

The fur was from Spotlight, and the lining from stash. I left off the closure. The fur is sewn to the lining by machine right sides together, leaving the shoulder seams open and a gap at the centre back hemline for turning.  Then the shoulder seams are sewn together, and then hand sewing done to close the gaps at centre back and near the shoulder seams.  That’s it!  You do need to take it slowly and push the fur out of the way as you go, but that takes patience rather than technique and the finished result is terrific.

Figgys Lux vest for Clare

And now I insert the obligatory “oh I just can’t take decent photos at the moment the days are so short and the weather so dismal and my phone is fuzzy” sentence. But you can still get the general idea.

This really is a fun project.  It does leave a huge amount of fluff around the sewing room, but that isn’t hard to fix.  The instructions are comprehensive, and I think that most people could sew this successfully.  Now I want one in my size.  Time to start browsing the pattern catalogues…

Figgys Lux vest for Clare

Lekala 5088 – the free three seam skirt pattern

I recently made a Lekala jacket that is absolutely FANTASTIC!  And I will blog about it – but it is a blog post that will take thought and effort and consideration because it took quite a while to figure out the lining.  Feeling rather emboldened by my jacket success, I quickly moved on to Lekala’s three seam skirt pattern, number 5088.  This pattern is free, by the way.

Lekala 5088 three seam skirt

The reason I was so keen to give this pattern a go was because of that “full hip” (aka pot gut) measurement that is part of Lekala’s measurement system nowadays. My body shape is short waisted and thick waisted with a definite pot gut. This makes fitted woven skirts quite challenging to fit. The fabric was wool scraps from stash, left over from this shrug. I had nothing to lose by giving it a go!

Lekala 5088 three seam skirt

Considering that I made this skirt from scrap fabric, and stash lining, and a stash button, and a stash zip that didn’t actually match, can you believe that I actually hand-picked the centred zip? I can’t! I started off by sewing it in by machine, but it looked terrible. I wasn’t prepared to leave it as it was considering that the rest of the skirt was coming along so nicely. So I sat down with my unpicker, unpicked the zip, then set it in by hand. It was surprisingly fast to do and way more accurate, giving a much nicer finish overall. Which is a bit funny, because no-one will ever see it other than in these photos. I never tuck my tops in!

Lekala 5088 three seam skirt

So, now you can see how it fits! I delayed this blog post because I wanted better photos, ones taken at the beginning of the day instead of at the end of the day when there were wrinkles from wear. Then I realised that a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush, so to speak, and decided to just go ahead with the photos that I had. You can see the fit from the front in the photo above. From the back in the photo below:

Lekala 5088 three seam skirt

And from the side:

Lekala 5088 three seam skirt

Now I am of course sucking my gut in for these photos, but I have to say that this is the best fitting straight woven skirt that I have made for an extremely long time. Possibly ever.  It was incredibly comfortable to wear at work all day, and none of the creases in the photo are fitting problem wrinkles, believe me. I left out the centre back slit as the skirt length didn’t necessitate it. The instructions are typical Lekala, so are all written and translated and can be confusing, but any good dressmaking book can help you with the construction of a skirt like this one if you need assistance.

Lekala 5088 three seam skirt

If you haven’t sewn from Lekala patterns before, this free pattern could definitely be the gateway drug – especially if you have a shape that isn’t quite “typical”. Go on, give it a go!  If I can make a skirt like this one as a wearable muslin, imagine what else you could make!

Sydney in green

I think that most of us have an affinity for particular pattern lines, especially when it comes to independent pattern lines.  The large companies like Vogue, McCalls, Butterick, Kwik Sew, Simplicity, Burda and New Look tend to cover lots of bases in terms of style and aesthetics, although they definitely not exactly the same as one another.  In fact, they do have different tag lines to differentiate themselves.  Vogue’s is “the exclusive source for designer sewing patterns”, Butterick are “the world’s first name in sewing patterns” and McCalls claim to be “sewing patterns for today’s fashion trends” and Kwik Sew have “making sewing a success”.  This all says a little about how they position themselves in the sewing pattern market.  Independent pattern companies position themselves in different ways.  Some design for a particular shape, like Sewaholic who design for a pear shaped figure and SBCC who designs for short women.  Others design particular types of clothes, like Jalie who specialise in sports wear.  Ottobre have what appears to me to be a distinctly European aesthetic.  Style Arc say they are “the fashion industry secret that keeps you ahead of the rest”.  You could go through a huge list of companies and work out who they are primarily designing for.

So the point of this?  I think that Tessuti design patterns for people like me.  They don’t explicitly state it, but they design simple shapes with nice details that appear to be drafted for – dare I say it – an Australian middle-aged woman’s body.  Their styles don’t look remiss on younger women or older women, as they are fairly classic but are not staid and traditional and they definitely have a modern, inner-city vibe (whatever that really means!).  I really, really like most of what they design. Which brings me to the Sydney jacket!

Tessuti Sydney jacket in wool cashmere from deep stash

First, the description from their website. This oversized, draped jacket features a relaxed collar, back yoke, extended cropped raglan sleeves and side pockets. This jacket is ideal for layering over garments and is the perfect cover-up for the autumn/winter months. Ideal made up in boiled wool knits, ponti knits, boiled felted wools and neoprene fabrics. IMPORTANT: Not suitable for woven fabrics that fray when cut.

Tessuti Sydney jacket in wool cashmere from deep stash

As the description says, this jacket is constructed without edge finishes. The seams are overlapped rather than sewn right sides together (except for the side seams).  That’s why they recommend fabrics that don’t fray when cut. However, I’ve now seen some wonderful versions in other wovens; the fraying just needs to be taken into account when they are constructed, and either used as a feature on some seams or the construction methods need to be varied. Anyway, I used a fabric that doesn’t fray. Despite owning and sewing many garments from Tessuti patterns, I don’t actually use a lot of Tessuti fabric – way out of my budget most of the time! This fabric is a beautiful wool/cashmere blend that I actually found in my stash! I think it was a gift from Jodie one Sewjourn a very ong time ago – and unsurprisingly I was thrilled that there was enough of it when I went stash diving for this jacket.

Tessuti Sydney jacket in wool cashmere from deep stash

After considerable deliberations I made a straight size Medium. Although it’s an oversized style, I needed to make certain that it would fit well across the shoulders. I could possibly have made the Small, but feel that the Medium doesn’t look too big.

Tessuti Sydney jacket in wool cashmere from deep stash

Construction was simpler than I had anticipated. You definitely need to get that chalk pencil out and mark a big cross on all the wrong sides of the fabric pieces, and take things one step at a time in order to jigsaw all the pieces together. I’d have liked a few more markings on the pattern pieces to let me know what edge went with what, but figured it all out without much difficulty. Just don’t rush!

Tessuti Sydney jacket in wool cashmere from deep stash

Like others, I had wondered what the point was in a winter jacket with short sleeves and no lining or closure – but it’s actually been very warm and snug to wear, especially given that Melbourne is so well heated indoors during winter. Thumbs up for this pattern! If it wasn’t such a distinctive style (and if I didn’t have about 497 jacket and coat patterns in stash) I’d even make it again.

Which pattern lines do you have a particular affinity for – and do you know why?