adult's clothing · sewing

Celestial with sleeves

Sometimes you don’t realise at first what a winner a pattern will be.  You sew it up, wear it, maybe sew another one, then a few years pass and you realise that you are still regularly reaching for that garment.  It just works for you.  So you make it again.

Pattern Fantastique Celestial dress with sleeve hack in tencel from Clear It

I first sewed the Pattern Fantastique Celestial dress back in 2014! That dress is still in my wardrobe (although a little snug at present). I then sewed it again in 2015.  I am a little surprised that it’s taken me this long to sew it a third time, especially because there have been both a sleeveless and this 3/4 sleeved free pattern expansions released since then.

Pattern Fantastique Celestial dress with sleeve hack in tencel from Clear It

Oh, I love those sleeves. Wide elastic in a sleeve cuff has really taken my fancy over the past year! They’re very easy to sew too. The whole dress is actually quite straightforward. Sew the bodice shoulder seams, face the neckline and topstitch it down, sew in the sleeves, make the skirt, attach the skirt to the bodice. Then it’s just the finishing details.

Pattern Fantastique Celestial dress with sleeve hack in tencel from Clear It

I sized up this time to the largest pattern size as I really didn’t want this to pull around my bust. I possibly overdid it a tad – one size smaller than this would have been okay.  The fabric is tencel from Clear It. Tencel really does have a magnificent drape. It’s the shade of blue that wanders toward purple with a greyish cast but somehow remains blue. I wasn’t sure that it would suit me, given that it’s rather cool toned and I am usually drawn to warmer tones, but when I tried on the finished dress I liked it!

Pattern Fantastique Celestial dress with sleeve hack in tencel from Clear It

It does show the sitting wrinkles a bit, unfortunately, but it’s so nice to wear. The tencel flows and moves and is incredibly comfortable against my skin. I have some of this fabric left, and suspect that my daughters may battle one another for it.

Pattern Fantastique Celestial dress with sleeve hack in tencel from Clear It

I think that I need to keep this pattern beside my cutting table. I need to sew all the versions! The pattern website describes it as follows: The Celestial Hack #2 maintains the appeal of the original trapeze dress. The new sleeve billows with glamour giving this super modern style a touch of 70’s romance, whilst keeping true to its original simple, utilitarian, beginnings. The new sleeve, length, volume and gathering ratios have been carefully considered to keep in balance with the skirt. 

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The free sleeve hack (I don’t like the term ‘hack’ as applied to sewing patterns, but it appears to be a generally accepted term so I just need to accept it and move on) only works in conjunction with the original Celestial dress pattern.  From the Pattern Fantastique website: The Celestial Max Dress (Pattern #102) is our super-femme space age gown. Strong lines and careful shaping give this dress major volume and an elegant fit. The Celestial comes with length options from Maxi to Top lengths. It can be made in most woven fabrics. Perfect for getting married on Mars or becoming your favourite no-fuss dress. RECOMMENDED FABRICS All wovens excluding super-heavyweight thick fabrics. Crisper fabrics will enhance the garment shapes, making the skirt hem appear wider. Lighter fabrics will provide drape, movement and a softer sleeve.

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I think that I need some more of both dress versions, in a shorter length.  I also need to give the sleeveless/pinafore version a go.  I feel that these are fashionable patterns that will remain fashionable for years and years – they’re not ‘trendy’ but have interesting shapes and details that make them both interesting to sew and to wear.

Pattern Fantastique Celestial dress with sleeve hack in tencel from Clear It

You already know that I have sewn myriad Pattern Fantastique Aeolian tees. The other garment of Nita-Jane’s that I especially love is the Falda jacket (my version of it is here). I sewed it back in early 2016, and still wear it regularly.  It is very versatile, and is another pattern that I know I will be sewing for years and years.  Many of you have already sewn the Genoa Tote, a collaboration with Blogless Anna (I have made multiple myself), and I am currently eyeing off the Calyx Smock.  I love the look of the Terra pants and Cove pants but know that I am an elastic waistband woman, so I’m unlikely to sew either of those.  I’m definitely looking forward to the dress pattern that I know is in the works because Anna recently wore a prototype to Frocktails.  Don’t you love it when you find a pattern that works well for years and years?

Pattern Fantastique Celestial dress with sleeve hack in tencel from Clear It

adult's clothing · sewing

The Wilder Gown

The Wilder Gown, by the Friday Pattern Company, has really taken off since it’s release.  It’s everywhere on sewing blogs and Instagram!  It has surprised how I have gone from someone who first though ‘nah, it’s a nightie’ to someone who has really embraced this silhouette and pattern.

Friday Pattern Company Wilder dress in polyester crepe from Super Cheap Fabrics

One of the joys of this pattern is finding fabric that has terrific flow and lightness. This polyester crepe from Super Cheap Fabrics is just perfect for it – and the colours and print is perfect for me. It’s got a crepe texture, gathers really easily, has a bit of body while still being slightly sheer, presses well and it swishes perfectly. I often avoid polyester, but honestly there are some excellent polyesters around.

Friday Pattern Company Wilder dress in polyester crepe from Super Cheap Fabrics

I had sewn this pattern in the top version earlier in the year to get an idea of sizing before I tackled a dress.  I made the dress in the same size as the top, XL in line with my bust measurement.  Interestingly,  in this fabric I think I should have made the L.  It’s just  a more voluminous than I would prefer.

Friday Pattern Company Wilder dress in polyester crepe from Super Cheap Fabrics

Because so many people have sewn this already I was able to get some ideas from the hive mind about what tweaks might work for me. I lengthened the bodice an inch or two (can’t remember exactly which), and cut the skirt panel pieces two inches shorter than the pattern suggested. I’m not very tall! I also decided to just cut the skirt panels to the width of the fabric. So the top tier is the full width of the fabric, gathered in to the top, and the bottom tier is twice the full width of the fabric.

Friday Pattern Company Wilder dress in polyester crepe from Super Cheap Fabrics

I think that my skirt cutting decision has resulted in a top tier with less gathering than the panel, and a bottom tier with more, but it still works just fine! The bottom tier is narrow hemmed. I did the gathering the old fashioned way with two parallel rows of lengthened straight stitches sewn on the machine. I have learned how to gather on the overlocker, but some habits die hard! I also like the amount of control that I get from hand gathering that way.

Friday Pattern Company Wilder dress in polyester crepe from Super Cheap Fabrics

I suspect that part of the appeal of this dress is that it’s simple to sew and to wear, yet the gathered neckline is a detail that isn’t often found in otherwise simple patterns. It’s not hard to fit, due to the style, and fabric choice makes quite a difference to the overall look.

Friday Pattern Company Wilder dress in polyester crepe from Super Cheap Fabrics

I’m SO unlikely to wear this with the gathered neck tied at the front, but I really do like it just left open and untied. That said, I’ve seen it look super cute on others when tied in a bow.

Friday Pattern Company Wilder dress in polyester crepe from Super Cheap Fabrics

Because this is slightly sheer, I have been wearing a purchased slip under it. That’s been a bit to do with the weather too though – I’ve needed that little bit more warmth. Melbourne has been unseasonably cool this November/December. It is certainly a stand out garment, especially in this bright fabric. Although I’ve usually thought of polyester as a hot fabric, this one doesn’t feel like that. Fibre technology really has changed over the years!

Friday Pattern Company Wilder dress in polyester crepe from Super Cheap Fabrics

Super Cheap Fabrics gave me open slather to choose a couple of lengths of fabric to make whatever I liked, and share it with you in a blog post. Since I often sew with their fabrics anyway, that was an offer that I wasn’t going to refuse! They’ve also offered a discount for my blog readers. It’s a further 10% off your entire order if you enter the code Thornberry-10 at the checkout.  Although they have a couple of physical shops in Melbourne, nowadays a huge amount of their business is online, and they’ll post fabric anywhere.

adult's clothing · sewing

Maya and Daphne

More repeat patterns!  Today I present to you my most recent incarnations of the Marilla Walker Maya Top and Style Arc Daphne Duo pant.

Maya top and Daphne pants

I’ll start with the top. It was sewn back in July, so completely unseasonal. I was sorting through my stash and came across a small length of super soft black chambray (almost lightweight denim) and wondered what I could use it for. The Maya top popped into my head, so off I went.

Marilla Walker Maya top in lightweight denim

This is an incredibly simple pattern, but took me ages to sew! I remember that I slowed right down for this top, and really took my time. I used contrasting double gauze for the neckline and armhole/sleeve facings, and made bias binding from it as well to finish the hemline.

Marilla Walker Maya top

Marilla Walker Maya top

Marilla Walker Maya top

From the pattern website: The Maya pattern takes its influence from my Central American mother and family. It is a cap sleeve dress or top that is designed to hang well from the shoulders and have a wide fit from the bust down, much like a traditional Guatemalan Huipil. It is intended to be playful and fun and can really showcase an amazing fabric, whether that be a bold print or luscious fibre.

Although relatively simple in design, the variations are endless and there are several lengths to choose from ranging from a cropped top to a knee length dress with a hip length top and shorter dress length in-between. Other variants include a straight or shaped hem, button or plain front as well as an option for a sash belt.

The construction is straight forward and creates a tidy finish as you work through the instructions leaving no raw edges in sight.

FABRIC SUGGESTIONS – Light to medium weight woven fabric.

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I still remember that this was an extremely satisfying garment to sew.  Every fabric involved pressed beautifully, sewed easily, and the end result really pleases me.  I can’t remember what size I sewed – I’d need to pull out the pattern to find out – but suspect it was size 5 or 6 based on bust measurement.

Marilla Walker Maya top in lightweight denim

Athough it’s black, being chambray I feel that it’s a softer type of black and isn’t too harsh against my extremely pale skin.

Style Arc Daphne Duo pants in rayon

The Daphne Duo pants are a Style Arc pattern. I last sewed them in linen, and thought that rayon would work nicely. This fabric is from Spotlight – they have some terrific rayon and viscose prints at the moment. Just make sure that you pre-shrink them all before you cut out your garment!

Style Arc Daphne Duo pants in rayon

From the pattern website: A pant that is a perfect partner to our Daphne Duo Tunic. The side seam ankle tucks gives the legs an interesting shape and sets it apart from a regular elastic waist pull on pant. Using a stretch woven fabric for the back waistband allows this pant to sit on the waist without bulk across the hip. You will enjoy wearing this fashionable yet comfortable pant. FABRIC SUGGESTION Crepe, silk, woven that drapes. Stretch woven (we used Bengaline with 30% stretch) for the back waistband.

daphne-pant

I did as Style Arc did and used bengaline for the back waistband.  I always hold on to my bengaline scraps, so have managed to accumulate quite a few colours over the past few years.

Style Arc Daphne Duo pants in rayon

Style Arc Daphne Duo pants in rayon

There is also elastic in the waistband. The combination of bengaline and elastic with the flat centre front piece makes these pants extremely comfortable to wear and they easily accommodate my weight fluctuations. Now I’m tempted to see if I can find the time to sew just one more pair of these pants before Christmas!

Maya top and Daphne pants

adult's clothing · sewing

Fibre Mood Frances top

Fibre Mood patterns have been popping up here and there on Instagram and in blogs.  I haven’t delved deeply into them, other than working out that Fibre Mood appears to be a European online sewing commuity and pattern magazine, with individual patterns also available for purchase.

Fibremood Frances top in vintage crepe

I gave the free Frances top pattern a crack. It’s very similar to the popular Assembly Line Cuff top (which is not free) in that it  has cap sleeves gathered into elastic ‘cuffs’.  Fibre Mood describe the Frances top as Oversized top in lightweight fabric with short, loose, gathered sleeves. A round, wide neckline on the front. The top is slightly longer in the back and the neckline has a slightly deeper cut. Sizing ranges from XS to XXXL.

Fibremood Frances top in vintage crepe

The fabric that I used is a semi-sheer crepe, from very deep stash (it’s vintage, passed on to me from someone else). It’s got the right sort of hand and drape for this pattern, and I love the contrasting white/red print, but it’s probably too predominantly black for me. It was easier to sew with than I thought. I did make sure that I stabilised the neckline before sewing and binding – I knew that otherwise it would stretch out.

Fibremood Frances top in vintage crepe

The elasticised cuffs were pretty easy to do. Essentially just sew a casing, and insert the elastic. I think that you could try this with different widths; wider might have been nice. Size wise, this is actually too big for me. I can’t remember what size I actually cut out, but in some ways it was fortunately that I cut out a larger one rather than a smaller one because I forgot that this pattern requires you to add seam allowances! If you sew it, don’t forget that seam allowances are NOT included. It’s a wearable size for me, but it feels thaat bit too voluminous all around. I am hoping that Mum will want to take this one off my hands – I can see it fitting nicely into her wardrobe!

Fibremood Frances top in vintage crepe

I’m not sure that I was excited enough by this pattern to really get into Fibre Mood at this stage. Having to add seam allowances is always a downer for me; I’m just not used to doing it. But they do seem to have some interesting styles, so I suppose that I’ll continue to pop over to their website from time to time and take a look.

miscellaneous · patterns · sewing

How I manage my pdf patterns

A little while ago someone asked me how I manage my pdf patterns.  Nowadays, I buy many of my patterns in pdf format.  Some patterns are only available in pdf format.  Others are cheaper when bought in pdf format – especially if you add on the cost of postage for hard copies.  With others I want the ability to reprint different sizes.  I’m not a pattern tracer; I never have been.  I always cut into my patterns and generally make any alterations directly on the pattern pieces.  There are some patterns that I want to be able to sew for multiple people of different sizes, and a multisized pdf pattern is perfect for that.  If I am sewing a pattern that I know will only be used for me, or has large pattern pieces (a coat, for example) I prefer hard copy.

pdf pattern organisation

This is a multisized pdf pattern that I recently purchased. I printed it out on sheets of A4 paper on my home computer, and assembled the sheets. There are many, many youtube videos and blog tutorials that show you how to assemble a pdf patter – just google. I generally cut off the bottom and one side of each sheet along the guideline, then overlap and sticky tape them together. I cut out each piece as it is taped whenever possible, rather than wait until the entire pattern is taped into one ginormous sheet. I really appreciate it when pdf pattern makes lay out the pieces in a way that essentially assembles one pattern piece at a time, but the majority just divide up one huge sheet into lots of A4. Printing at home obviously costs in paper, sticky tape and ink, but I think it’s quite economical. The biggest downside is the time that it takes to tape the patterns.

pdf pattern organisation

There is often the option to have pdf patterns printed at a copy shop. I tend to use either Officeworks – I just take in the patterns on a USB memory stick, and ask for black and white plan printing – or else I go to a specialist copy centre/printing service (Ivanhoe Copy Centre is my local). This of course costs money – at Officeworks it’s about $4.10 per A0 sheet. I store these patterns rolled up and secured with a toilet roll core. It holds them securely and I can write the pattern name on it!

pdf pattern organisation

After use I fold up the pattern pieces and pop them into a large ziplock bag. I find that ziplock bags keep things secure during the sewing process, and the instructions fit into them nicely too. You may have noticed too that I do print pattern instructions. I often don’t print all the pages – some of the instructions for pdf patterns are designed to be read on a screen such as an ipad or laptop screen rather than printed and are incredibly long – but I always like to have the basics about the pattern kept with the pattern pieces. Pattern illustration, measurements, what the seam allowances are. Because the bags are clear I can see what pattern is in each one. Then I tend to store them by pattern company and then by pattern type.

pdf pattern organisation

As you can see I have a few methods of organisation. These have all developed and adapted as I have gone along, and they seem to work quite well for me. Patterns that I use for my daughters are in a couple of drawers in the wardrobe; the multi-coloured drawers beside my cutting table hold more ‘random’ patterns from a variety of companies. The expanding file holds Lekala patterns. Then we have my favourite piece of storage – the horizontal filing cabinet.  This one is from Officeworks.

pdf pattern organisation

This cabinet serves as a TV stand – yes, I have a TV in my sewing room – and also holds all my patterns from Style Arc (hard copies as well as the pdf patterns I have printed), Cashmerette, Liesl & Co, Pattern Fantastique, Jalie and patterns that I use for my mum. It’s excellent for patterns that are much larger in size than the standard envelope pattern. I don’t have any hanging files in it; I just stack the patterns on their side. It’s amazing how much fits in there.

pdf pattern organisation

I hope that give some of you some practical ideas on how to manage your pdf patterns. What works best for you will obviously depend on the space that you have available, and whether you prefer to trace patterns or whether you prefer to just cut into them (I still don’t really understand why anyone would take the additional step of tracing a pdf pattern that they have assembled and could easily reprint, but each to their own)! There is a myriad of pattern options available to us nowadays – don’t avoid pdf patterns; they open up a world of opportunity.

adult's clothing · sewing

Cashmerette Cedar dolman top

It’s another pattern repeat!  But with a twist.  Last time I sewed the CashmeretteCedar dolman top I sewed it in a woven fabric, with faced round neckline and faced ties.

Cashmerette Cedar dolman top in knit from The Cloth Shop Ivanhoe

This time around I sewed it in a knit, with narrow hemmed edges, and a v-neckline. None of these changes were difficult to do, and have given the pattern quite a different look to last time.

Cashmerette Cedar dolman top in knit from The Cloth Shop Ivanhoe

The fabric is a poly/lycra knit from The Cloth Shop, Ivanhoe, and has a lovely hand to it, as well as some excellent colours in the print. I really do enjoy the challenge of sewing garments from remnant pieces! I folded back the front pattern piece at the centre front neckline until it formed a good angle for the V-neckline, then cut it out. I used the same assembly technique for the neckline as I use when sewing the Style Arc Abigail top. It’s easy to get a good finish when there’s a centre front seam!

Cashmerette Cedar dolman top in knit from The Cloth Shop Ivanhoe

In essence, construction starts with the shoulder seams.  Then apply a narrow strip (about an inch) of the self fabric along the entire neckline, right sides together.  I stretch it every so slightly, keeping the strip taught as it is applied.  Then turn it to the inside, and topstitch it in place.  On the wrong side trim the strip close to the stitching.  Of course, I do press after every seam that I sew – it really helps to get a good finish.  Then sew the centre front seam, with either lots of pins at the centre front of the V to keep it in place, or after basting.  Then continue with the rest of construction.

Cashmerette Cedar dolman top in knit from The Cloth Shop Ivanhoe

From the pattern website: The Cedar Dolman Top is a casual, dolman sleeve top suitable for drapey wovens or knits, with a relaxed fit and an optional pretty knotted detail. Great for beginners, this pattern is as easy to sew as it is to wear. From yoga to brunch, the Cedar has you covered! RECOMMENDED FABRIC:  Midweight jersey or technical fabric with good drape (can be stretch, but not required) or a lightweight woven such as lawn, silk, or rayon. Light weight fusible knit interfacing.

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I sewed size 12 C/D.  Narrow turning and hemming the lower hem and tie edges seems to have worked out okay, although it does mean that the wrong side of the fabric can show on the ties.  I didn’t have enough fabric to cut the facings.  This has proven itself to be a terrific work top for a variety of climates.  I definitely recommend the pattern.

Cashmerette Cedar dolman top in knit from The Cloth Shop Ivanhoe

sewing · teen · tween

Mix It Up Dress

Sometimes it is really difficult to sew for others.  Getting the sizing right, getting the combination of fabric and pattern right, getting the fit right, and attempting to ensure that the finished product matches with the vision in the other person’s head.  Sewing for Stella is no exception.  She really does know what she likes, and is quite particular about how she wants things to fit.  So I try to involve her in the sewing process as much as possible.

George and Ginger Mix It Up dress in Spotlight performance knit

Stella chose the fabric and the pattern for this dress, and chose which elements of the pattern she wanted. It’s the Mix It Up dress by George and Ginger, and I was drawn to it for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it starts with tween sizes. Hooray! It’s not easy to find patterns that work for Stella – she’s really shot up in height over the last year and is changing shape, but she’s still very slight and has narrow shoulders. We’ve had the frustration of trying to find clothes that fit to her specifications in the shops (although Pavement has proven to be successful, if anyone is looking to buy tween/teen clothes) so it really is handy that I sew. The other reason we liked the Mix It Up pattern is because it allows you to do exactly that – mix it up!

George and Ginger Mix It Up dress in Spotlight performance knit

From the pattern website: The Mix It Up Dress is an all-in-one design that’s perfect for mixing and matching your favorite styles!  Five front bodice, five back bodices, six sleeve lengths (including sleeveless) and five skirt versions–all interchangeable and ready to be customized just for you! PATTERN OPTIONS:

  • Front Bodice – yoke, horseshoe, leaf, keyhole and asymmetric
  • Back Bodice – yoke, square, diamond, keyhole and full closure
  • Sleeves – sleeveless, cap, short, elbow, 3/4 and long
  • Skirts – full circle (peplum, mini, dress), half circle (peplum, mini, dress), handkerchief (peplum, mini, dress), hi-lo tunic (short and long) AND fitted skirt to add to peplum, hi-lo or stand alone

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Stella liked the look of the Leaf front bodice and Keyhole back bodice, with short sleeves and a Hi-Lo skirt.  I started off by sewing a muslin in a lightweight stretch scuba type of fabric that was in my stash and had been rejected for other projects.  Size wise I used Tween 12, the smallest size.

Mix It Up muslin

Mix It Up muslin

I was so glad that I’d done the muslin! I’ll start with the obvious issue – that hi-lo skirt isn’t a full length skirt – it’s for a tunic or to be used as a peplum in conjunction with a straight skirt! Clearly I failed to read that part of the pattern information properly. So this muslin is way too short as drafted. The second issue was the waist seam – it’s way too high. Stella’s circumferential measurements are much smaller than the corresponding size for her height. The armhole depth was okay, so I figured that if I added an inch and a half to the bottom of the bodice pieces that would get the waist seam into a better position.

George and Ginger Mix It Up dress in Spotlight performance knit Stella chose the fabric – it’s a very stretchy fabric from Spotlight, I have a vague recollection that it was labelled as a performance knit or similar. It’s a lighter weight fabric than my initial muslin, which made it very easy to do the keyhole and back ties, as well as getting a nice result on the ‘leaf’ front bodice. The bodice of this dress is fully lined, and easily constructed. George and Ginger Mix It Up dress in Spotlight performance knit

I added four inches all around to the length of the hi-low skirt. Why didn’t you just use the pattern pieces for the full circle skirt, I hear you ask? Two reasons – I’d already printed and taped the hi-lo piece, and I wanted to cut the skirt completely on the fold and have it seamless. I also moved the ‘hole’ template about an inch toward the skirt back to alter the degree of high compared to low so that it was slightly less dramatic. The skirt was hemmed with a simple straight stitch. It could do with another press.

George and Ginger Mix It Up dress in Spotlight performance knit

She’s happy, and that’s what it’s all about! There’s every chance that this pattern will be used again – Clare has been eyeing it off too and suggesting combinations. Although the sizing starts at Tween 12, it goes up to Women’s size 26. Take a look at the pattern page or join the Facebook group to see some of the combinations that others have sewn.  George and Ginger also have a YouTube channel with sewalongs etc.  Excellent pattern support for those who prefer it.