Yet another Mandy

The (free) Tessuti Mandy boat tee is my go-to pattern whenever I want a quick top or some instant gratification.  I have sewn heaps.  And here’s another.

Tessuti Mandy boat tee in scrap knit for front and linen blend knit for back and sleeves

This one was inspired by a scrap of printed fabric from a friend. There wasn’t enough for a whole garment, so I scrounged around in my other scraps and found a solid linen knit (from Darn Cheap Fabrics a while back) that I thought coordinated. So I used the print for the front and the solid for the back and sleeves.

Tessuti Mandy boat tee in scrap knit for front and linen blend knit for back and sleeves

I sewed the pattern exactly as is, without modifications. There is a recent blog post from Tessuti about sewing this top with lengthened sleeves and a narrowed body. It really is rather adaptable. I secured all hem edges with Vliesofix and top-stitched them with the twin needle. The rest of the construction was on the overlocker.  There’s really not much more to say!

Tessuti Mandy boat tee in scrap knit for front and linen blend knit for back and sleeves

Cutie Cats – a study in knit fabrics

In warm weather Clare really enjoys wearing loose simple t-shirts.  I made her a few a couple of years back and they have been on constant rotation in summer.  However they were becoming a little too cropped – she has been wearing them for a couple of years, and has grown a little bit over that time!  She requested more – the same size width wise, but longer.

Ottobre 4 2011 no. 30 Cutie Cat top lengthened 3 inches in a variety of knits

The pattern is the “Cutie Cat” top, which is no. 30 from Ottobre 4/2011. I sewed size 134 again but added three inches to the length. The fabrics were mostly scraps from stash – this was a great scrap-busting project! It was also interesting as an exercise in how different fabrics affect the fall and fit of a loose top.

Ottobre 4 2011 no. 30 Cutie Cat top lengthened 3 inches in a variety of knits

This one is in a printed knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics a couple of years ago. I think it is a cotton viscose blend. There doesn’t seem to be much spandex in it. And it does crease in wear.

Ottobre 4 2011 no. 30 Cutie Cat top lengthened 3 inches in a variety of knits

These are super simple tops to sew, with just a front, back and neckband. The sleeves are simply turned and hemmed, like the bottom. I finished the necklines with a band from self fabric.

Ottobre 4 2011 no. 30 Cutie Cat top lengthened 3 inches in a variety of knits

I go back and forth between finishing edges with a zig zag or with a twin needle. In this case I chose the zig zag. I think the effect is very pretty. It doesn’t look “shop-bought” – and this is not my goal in my sewing, as I don’t think that shop-bought necessarily means professional or better! I choose the finish based on personal aesthetic and on which I think will work best on the fabric.

Ottobre 4 2011 no. 30 Cutie Cat top lengthened 3 inches in a variety of knits

This one is in a heavier weight viscose/lycra from Tessuti (bought when they were running their Jaywalk competition). The fabric hangs beautifully, and feels soft against the skin.

Ottobre 4 2011 no. 30 Cutie Cat top lengthened 3 inches in a variety of knits

All construction was on the overlocker, other than hems. I think I sewed all four tops in an afternoon.

Ottobre 4 2011 no. 30 Cutie Cat top lengthened 3 inches in a variety of knits

Once again I used the zig-zag stitch to finish edges. You can see in the photo above that the neckband is a teensy bit ripply. I should have cut it that fraction shorter. Getting neckband lengths right is a matter of trial and error, as so much depends on the degree of curve in the neckline in combination with the width of the band and the added influence of the recovery of the fabric. It’s one of those things that you get better at as you go along. I pretty much ignore any neckband pieces that come with patterns for knit garments and cut my own according to preference.

Ottobre 4 2011 no. 30 Cutie Cat top lengthened 3 inches in a variety of knits

This fabric comes from Super Cheap Fabrics in Sydney Road, Brunswick. I don’t know why I don’t go there more often – they do have excellent fabrics at “super cheap” prices! However, fabric composition is often unknown. This knit jacquard feels like a poly/viscose/spandex combination to me, but I really have no idea. It has quite a bit of substance, and also hangs nicely.

Ottobre 4 2011 no. 30 Cutie Cat top lengthened 3 inches in a variety of knits

Even with the added length, these tops will show a bit of tummy when Clare raises her arms – especially because she likes to wear her bottoms low slung. I like the proportions on her, especially as compared to the width of the tops.

Ottobre 4 2011 no. 30 Cutie Cat top lengthened 3 inches in a variety of knits

This time I used the reverse side of the fabric for a contrast neckband. This fabric is very difficult to press, and the fold of the neckband is not quite as crisp as I would prefer. Once again the edges are all secured with a zig zag.

Ottobre 4 2011 no. 30 Cutie Cat top lengthened 3 inches in a variety of knits

I often refer to this tutorial from Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow when I am sewing knit neckbands – I find it really helps to distribute the length of the neckband along the curves successfully. Give it a try if you have trouble with your knit neckbands.

Ottobre 4 2011 no. 30 Cutie Cat top lengthened 3 inches in a variety of knits

This fourth one is Clare’s favourite. The fabric was a gift from my friend Rachel, and it is the softest, drapiest, stretchiest stuff yet is still quite straightforward to handle. It flows beautifully over the body.

Ottobre 4 2011 no. 30 Cutie Cat top lengthened 3 inches in a variety of knits

I was inspired after watching “The Artful Tee” class on Craftsy to try cutting the neckband so that the stripes went across it rather than along it. I did first check that the fabric had plenty of stretch, which it did.

Ottobre 4 2011 no. 30 Cutie Cat top lengthened 3 inches in a variety of knits

And yes, it was a zig-zag again that was chosen for finishing! I was extremely happy with this neckband – it sits perfectly flat to the body, and it’s fun to have the stripes going the other way.

lots of tops

I hope that you found it interesting to see how the differences in knit fabrics translate to the finished garment. The differences can be subtle, but definitely influence the sewing techniques that are used. There are some good Craftsy classes on sewing with knits – I have watched both the classes by the Tilton sisters and highly recommend them, as well as the Sewing Fashion Knits class by Linda Lee. I actually did a KnitWit course back in 1990, so have been sewing knits for many years – although I’ve only owned an overlocker for about nine years. There is nothing like sewing a knit garment for ease and comfort.

Pattern Fantastique Falda jacket

Last year I did a little pattern testing for Nita-Jane of Pattern Fantastique.  The pattern, the Falda jacket, has just been released – and I have to say that I love it!

Pattern Fantastique Falda jacket in denim from Rathdowne Fabrics

I have a whole lot to say about this jacket, although to a large degree the photos tell the story. Firstly, about Pattern Fantastique. I first stumbled upon the Celestial dress pattern eighteen months or so ago, and have sewn three so far. Then the Aeolian top/dress pattern was put through its paces (Anna is the queen of the Aeolian), followed by the Lucent Visor.  As it turned out, Nita-Jane also lives in Melbourne, and is a trained pattern maker who has been working in industry for many years.  It certainly shows in the drafting of her patterns and in their individuality.  I really like her aesthetic.  The Falda jacket is certainly individual, so I was enthusiastic about being a pattern tester.

Pattern Fantastique Falda jacket in denim from Rathdowne Fabrics

(Although the front hemline doesn’t look like it lines up in the above photo, I can assure you that it actually does in real life – it’s just the angle).

I’ll use the description from the Pattern Fantastique website:

The Falda jacket was developed using a combination of draping and flat paper pattern making. Fabric carved into bold clean shapes. A nod to the classic Chanel tweed, the sensibility of a bomber jacket and the humour and volume of a victorian era sleeve.

The Falda jacket pattern comes with two different styles, depending on your fabric weight choice. A jacket weight cotton with patch pockets for the transitional seasons or blanket weight wool with welt pockets and full lining for deep winter warmth.

Skill Level
Style A – Intermediate.
-Lighter weight fabric.
– Zip insertion.
-Top stitching.

Style B – Intermediate / Advanced
– Bulky fabric.
– Optional block fusing.
– Welt pocket.
– Full Lining.
– Zip insertion.

Pattern Fantastique Falda jacket in denim from Rathdowne Fabrics

I chose to sew view A, in denim from Rathdowne Fabrics. And yes, I am wearing double denim – the pants are Style Arc Misty jeans that I sewed back in last winter.

Pattern Fantastique Falda jacket in denim from Rathdowne Fabrics

I sewed size 12, without alteration. This is not a quick sew, and you really do need to pay attention to the instructions. Take things step by step, and it all works out!

Pattern Fantastique Falda jacket in denim from Rathdowne Fabrics

Because I was a tester I possibly can’t comment accurately on the final instructions, but they were extremely good even during the testing phase! Nita-Jane uses a large number of testers, many blogless, and many from industry as well as home sewers. Not a lot of fanfare, but a thorough process that leads to an excellent product.

Pattern Fantastique Falda jacket in denim from Rathdowne Fabrics

This has proven to be a wonderful addition to my wardrobe. The denim makes it perfect for spring and autumn weather. I adore the weird sleeves, but acknowledge that they won’t be for everybody. I love the fact that this jacket is a bit “different” yet it still works well with basics like my jeans. I will generally style it with a scarf, like this hand-dyed one that I bought in Bali last year, which is how I prefer to wear many of my clothes.

Pattern Fantastique Falda jacket in denim from Rathdowne Fabrics

I need to digress for a moment and just point out the shoes that I am wearing – they are a brand called Poetic License and I found them, brand new, in an op shop! Hip hip hooray! I adore them and can tell they will get a lot of wear this winter (although mostly only when I will be sitting for the majority of the time – I can’t stand or walk in heels that high for too long without the balls of my feet protesting!)

Pattern Fantastique Falda jacket in denim from Rathdowne Fabrics

So, back to the jacket. All the markings were perfect and everything lined up as it should. Finding a zip in a matching colour was a bit of a challenge, but Darn Cheap Fabrics came to the rescue. I enjoyed the topstitching – it did take a fair bit of thread – and the whole jacket came together over the period of four or five evenings.

Pattern Fantastique Falda jacket in denim from Rathdowne Fabrics

I am very keen to sew up the other lined version in wool for winter, with the welt pockets. I have plenty of wools in stash and once again I think it would be an enjoyable “slower” project. If you are interested in jackets that are a little outside the norm, I highly recommend this pattern.  You can see Anna’s beautifully sewn and beautifully photographed version of it here.

Pattern Fantastique Falda jacket in denim from Rathdowne Fabrics

(No disclaimer on this blog post – I tested the pattern so didn’t pay for it, but there are no affiliate links etc).

Bootstrap Fashion 44139

Something that I really like about customised patterns such as those from Bootstrap Fashion and Lekala is the ability for me to try out silhouettes that I would normally avoid due to the significant number of alterations that I would have to make to conventional patterns.  Hey, I’m lazy like that.  Bootstrap Patterns recently offered dress 44139 as a free pattern, so I decided to give it a go.

Bootstrap Fashion 44139 in Spotlight printed Scuba knit

Bootstrap describe this dress as a “poet sleeves knit dress” and recommended fabrics include heavy weight, ponte and double knit with spandex. I used brightly printed scuba from Spotlight, which is essentially polyester double knit with spandex. The sort of fabric we’d have been cringing about ten years ago as a relic from the 1970s, but in 2016 fibre technology has changed and although it’s still polyester, it is softer and easy to sew and has the ability to hold colours and prints in a way that most natural fibres simply can’t do. I’m a sucker for the colour.

Bootstrap Fashion 44139 in Spotlight printed Scuba knit

One of the great things about taking photos for the blog is seeing just where fit issues are – and in the above photo I can tell that I have a lot of fixes to make in the back of the garment. I have realised that there is a pattern here. Although this pattern was ordered with plenty of pot belly room, and it fits well in the front of the dress, there is still excess in the back. This is where a fitting buddy would really come in handy! Once again, I need to take fabric out of the back bodice length.

Bootstrap Fashion 44139 in Spotlight printed Scuba knit

I lowered the front neckline quite significantly as compared to the pattern. If you check the fashion illustration and line drawing it is a high boat neckline. I felt strangled when I tried it on, so unpicked the neck facing (a strip of self fabric cut on the cross grain) and lowered it a couple of inches before refinishing. I used a twin needle to secure the neckline and the hems. The centre front inverted pleat is quite small on me due to my small hip to waist ratio, so it’s not as much of a feature as it would be if you were more conventionally shaped. The front pockets are rather cute, and I included them because of the diagonal line that they add.

Bootstrap Fashion 44139 in Spotlight printed Scuba knit

The sleeves gather into simple tubular cuffs. Because it’s a stretch knit, they don’t need a closure, but sit quite firmly around my arm. I made a belt to go around the waistline, as per the pattern, but decided not to wear it. It only served to highlight my stomach and relative lack of waist.

Bootstrap Fashion 44139 in Spotlight printed Scuba knit

So, final verdict? Scuba is super easy to sew with – most construction was on the overlocker. It also doesn’t require seam finishes, and the colours are fantastic. I wore this dress to work, where it performed well and did receive a number of compliments. But it’s a style experiment, and not completely “me”. That said, I don’t want to wear exactly the same silhouette all the time, so it certainly fits nicely into my wardrobe for the moment.

Bootstrap Fashion 44139 in Spotlight printed Scuba knit

Style Arc Mila Designer Dress

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. If you buy the pdf patterns via my links, I make a little bit of money that is likely to go toward buying myself yet more Style Arc patterns…

I’m not sure what criteria Style Arc use to define a pattern as a “designer” one, but I do find that they are often the styles that I am more drawn to.  Maybe the ones aimed at a less traditional fitted waist silhouette?  I’m not sure.  The Mila Designer Dress is a simple silhouette that definitely fits my personal “flattery” criteria.

Style Arc Mila Designer Dress in viscose print and stash solid

From the Style Arc website: MILA DESIGNER DRESS: Use your creativity to make this dress your own. The flattering bodice seam allows you to colour block or use different textures to suit your individual style. This is a simple pull on dress with a slight cocoon shape that is so simple to make but will look amazing once done. FABRIC SUGGESTION & DESCRIPTION: Crepe, silk, a drapery woven, jersey knit.

mila-dress

This version is a “wearable muslin”.  The skirt part is sewn from a printed woven viscose from Darn Cheap Fabrics left over after making a pair of pants, and the bodice is a lovely slightly textured but still drapey something woven that was a gift from my friend Rachel.  I used the print for the neck facing as well.

Style Arc Mila Designer Dress in viscose print and stash solid

I cut and sewed size 12 without alteration other than to scoop out the front neckline about 5/8″. I feel more comfortable without the edge of the fabric right up against my neck, but wouldn’t say that this is a routine adjustment for this pattern – it just depends on personal preference.

Style Arc Mila Designer Dress in viscose print and stash solid

Although in this photo I am leaning strangely, it shows you the smoothness of the back fit. This dress really does skim over the body towards a narrower hemline. It is interesting how the skirt falls and drapes with centre front and centre back seams rather than side seams. It is slightly different to usual, but I find it difficult to put my finger exactly on what it is. The centre back seam does mean that you could add a slit for walking ease if you felt that you needed it, but I wore this dress all day at this length and it wasn’t an issue.

Style Arc Mila Designer Dress in viscose print and stash solid

On my 158cm frame this has ended up just below the knee after taking a 2 inch hem (one inch turned twice and topstitched). Proportions might be a little better on me a fraction shorter, but I also find that with straight dresses I really need to allow for bending and sitting length. It’s easy in a short straight skirt to expose rather more than anticipated in movement, especially in a non-fitted woven garment.  I note that the pattern illustration has this dress finishing below the knee too (I took a deeper hem than indicated in the pattern).

Style Arc Mila Designer Dress in viscose print and stash solid

I chose to topstitch the seam where the bodice and skirt join, but in retrospect think that this may have been a mistake. Although it stabilises the area, it also makes the seamline pull a bit along those bias angled seams at the front. It think that it would drape more smoothly without the topstitching where it falls from the bust at the front. It’s fine along the back. The topstitching wasn’t in the instructions. By the way, I don’t tend to comment much on Style Arc’s instructions. I find them quite satisfactory and a good order of construction, but they are certainly much briefer and have less hand-holding than many other pattern companies. However, there are lots of tutorials on the Style Arc website if you need them, and Style Arc do provide illustrations of any tricky bits. I think that they are quite adequate.

Style Arc Mila Designer Dress in viscose print and stash solid

I am planning on sewing this dress again, possibly in a knit.  I wonder how it would go layered over a long-sleeved tee for winter?  The pdf of the pattern is available for download from Gumroad here, or the paper pattern is available from the Style Arc website.  I used the paper pattern, but there aren’t many pattern pieces if you download the pdf, so it shouldn’t be too tedious.  And yes, it is a quick garment to sew.

Style Arc Maddison Top

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. If you buy the pdf patterns via my links, I make a little bit of money that is likely to go toward buying myself yet more Style Arc patterns…

The Maddison Top was one of the patterns in Style Arc’s January release.  I bought a few from that release, and they are patiently waiting for me to sew them up.  I’ve been having fun lately matching patterns to fabric, both for my winter work wardrobe and for casual wear.  Many of the clothes that I wore last winter don’t feel as comfortable this year due to my weight gain, so my wardrobe really does need replenishing.  This top is a wonderful casual item.

Style Arc Maddison top in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

From the Style Arc websiteMADDISON TOP: A great everyday raglan sleeved top with a slight trapeze the body, the wide hem allows this top to fall beautifully. Make this in a stripe to show off all the design lines. This top can be made in a knit or a stretch woven fabric.  FABRIC SUGGESTION: Knit, Ponte, Crepe with a natural stretch or Silk.

madison-top

I used a stripe knit that I bought from the Darn Cheap Fabrics $2 table a while ago.  It feels like a cotton/viscose/spandex blend to me, and at the time they had loads of it available.  I suspect that it now graces many a Melbourne sewer’s stash!  I’ve used it before to make a top for Clare, and still have a small amount left.  It it lovely and soft, and was beautiful to sew with. Obviously I was swayed to use stripes by the pattern illustration, and I do think that they work beautifully in this top.

Style Arc Maddison top in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

I sewed straight size 12 without alteration, and am very happy with the fit on me. There are bust darts and shoulder darts, which I think make all the difference in changing a raglan top from sloppy to neat. The body flares, which is always my preference. A couple of my friends have also made this top and found the body to be more flared than they anticipated, but I think that the line drawing is fairly accurate, as is the “slight trapeze” description.

Style Arc Maddison top in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The deep hem turning adds to the way that the top falls. In combination there are a number of details that lift this top above the average knit raglan. For my next version (there is going to be a next, also in a stripe) I will lower the front neckline a bit. I have discovered that many tops feel much higher at the front neckline on me than I prefer, but this is more due to my anatomy than the pattern drafting. I think that over the years I have developed a forward head/neck, so need to scoop out the front neckline of tops a little more than in the past.  If you are tall you might want to lengthen this top, and I suggest doing it below the bust darts but above the deep hemline.  I am 158cm tall, and like this length on me.

Style Arc Maddison top in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The neckband is fairly narrow, which gives a really nice finish. I sewed it on with the overlocker, then used the machine to twin needle around the entire neckline to hold it in place. The bottom hem is also twin needled. The sleeve cuffs are cut double before attaching to the main sleeve, so don’t require hemming.

Style Arc Maddison top in knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This is a positive addition to my casual wardrobe, and the elbow length sleeves make it quite trans-seasonal. I’m looking forward to sewing up the next one! Style Arc have the paper pattern available from their website, and the pdf is available from their Gumroad store or via Etsy.

DCF Seasonal Challenge – Summer 2016

How is this for just squeezing Summer’s DCF Challenge* in?  Even with an extra day this summer, I’m getting my blog post up with only a few hours to spare.  Hopefully the autumn challenge garment post will be a little less tardy!

Uptown Top in Darn Cheap Fabrics woven viscose

Emma and I bought this woven viscose from Darn Cheap Fabrics when she was down in Melbourne during the summer holidays.  We came this close to buying silk for our challenge this season, but eventually the miser in both of us kicked in and we decided that the viscose would be much more practical and significantly more budget friendly.  Not only do we have similar taste in fabrics, but we have similar spending preferences!  I wasn’t entirely certain what I’d make when we bought the fabric, but thought that a top I could wear to work would be good.  And that’s what I ended up with – a top that I can wear to work, or wear casually.

Uptown Top in Darn Cheap Fabrics woven viscose

I have to admit that the pattern choice was entirely inspired by Anna.  I saw her version of the Uptown Top (from a little known to me pattern company called A Verb For Keeping Warm) and I very quickly hit the pdf pattern purchase button.   This was the pattern that I had been looking for to pair with this viscose!  The pattern company describe the top as follows: The Uptown Top is a flatteringly oversized garment, designed to be worn with a great deal of ease. Make it with the hip band and it is the perfect length to wear with tights or leggings, or make it without the hip band and it will be your new favorite top to pair with jeans or a skirt.  Wear the Uptown Top for a night out with your friends, or as a cool, lightweight layer at the beach this summer! Sew it in a variety of fabrics for different moods and occasions. 

Uptown Top in Darn Cheap Fabrics woven viscose

Yes, it is super simple.  The front and back pieces are almost rectangular, although the shoulders do slope down gently.  I lowered the front neckline an inch or so.  The sleeves are elongated triangles that are sewn to the sides of the front and back pieces.  They are sewn together across the shoulders and up most of the sides, leaving an opening at the top of the side for the armhole.  This means that there is no gaping – hooray!  I didn’t bother with the hem band, but turned up a two inch hem.

Uptown Top in Darn Cheap Fabrics woven viscose

I decided to sew the middle size, which is for a 44″ finished hip measurement.  This top is designed with plenty of ease.  It’s certainly not a top for those who like waist definition or a more fitted silhouette.  The triangular sleeves allow for lovely curved drape at the sides of the top, while leaving the front and back fairly straight.  It’s a little reminiscent of the Style Arc Hedy dress.

Uptown Top in Darn Cheap Fabrics woven viscose

You can see the shape of the top very well in these photos.  Most construction was on the overlocker, with the hems and neckline binding on the machine.  If you make this top, remember to overlock the edges of the sleeve separately before stitching them together on the machine – this makes it much easier to turn the armhole opening to the inside for a narrow hem later on.

Uptown Top in Darn Cheap Fabrics woven viscose

I made my own bias binding using an 18mm bias maker to finish the neckline.  The pattern does come with a facing option, but I tend to prefer binding in soft drapey fabric like viscose.  I chose to sew the binding to the wrong side then turn it to the right side and topstitch it down.  After a shot of steam from the iron the binding curves beautifully around the neckline and adds a tiny bit of extra detail.

Uptown Top in Darn Cheap Fabrics woven viscose

I wore this top to work today with Style Arc Linda pants in navy and heeled court shoes, and felt great in it all day.  I wonder what Emma has made from her seasonal challenge fabric?

Uptown Top in Darn Cheap Fabrics woven viscose

* Emma and I started the DCF Seasonal Challenge a year or two ago – we buy  a couple of metres of the same fabric from Darn Cheap Fabrics each season, and each make a garment.  We then reveal it on our blogs on the same day.  It’s just a fun thing that we started when we realised how often we buy and sew the same fabrics (often from Darn Cheap).