adult's clothing · sewing

Sea Change – the layering version

I tested the Lily Sage & Co Sea Change top a couple of years ago (yes, time does fly) and ever since have been intending to sew it up again.  I always thought that it would work well as a layering piece for winter over a long sleeved tee.

Lily Sage Sea Change top in mystery knit

I had some knit fabric in stash (originally from the Darn Cheap Fabrics $2 table, I suspect) that had a fairly open weave that I thought would match well with this pattern. The edges are all finished with bands, and the whole thing is constructed on the overlocker. Ticks all the boxes for working with open weave knits!

Lily Sage Sea Change top in mystery knit

As you can see, this is a very relaxed style of top. The front and back pattern pieces are slightly different in width and neckline, which definitely makes it sit better on the body. I sewed size Medium, I think. Could have been a Large. Oh well. It’s loose and roomy either way!

Lily Sage Sea Change top in mystery knit

My biggest issue with this top is one of user error. I cut the neckband according to the original pattern piece, but it wouldn’t stretch enough in this fabric to fit the neckline nicely. So I re-cut a longer neckband piece. Now it’s really too large and the neckline is too wide. And I have a feeling that I don’t even have scraps of this fabric left to do it a third time. I might stitch some elastic into it to draw it in a little.

Lily Sage Sea Change top in mystery knit

From the pattern website: The Sea Change top is loosely fitted, with wide kimono sleeves. The hem is designed to fall just below the natural waist for a modest, cropped look that will both complement and showcase high waist pants and skirts.  The top length can easily be lengthened through the top. The armbands and bottom hem band can also be altered in length for different looks.  Recommended fabrics: Light to medium weight, drapey fabrics will be the most flattering choices for this top. Options include knit fabrics like jersey. Cotton, viscose, and rayon are good options. Woven fabrics like silk satin, silk crepe de chine, and habutai will also suit this pattern. Extra fabric may be needed to match plaids, stripes or directional prints.

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I think that I’ll sew this pattern up again in a different fabric – it’s not as though there isn’t plenty in stash!  Because the style is straightforward and non fitted, fabric selection makes a big difference. And this afternoon I’ll be addressing the loose neckline of this version.

Lily Sage Sea Change top in mystery knit

bags · sewing

Day in the Park Backpack Tote

The Liesl and Co Day in the Park Backpack Tote pattern has been in my collection for ages.  I felt guilty every time that I came across it, because I knew that I’d really like it once I made it, yet I’d left it to languish.  A couple of months ago I attended Soul Craft, and knew that a backpack of the non-sporting-aesthetic variety was just what I needed to take with me.  So finally, out came the pattern, out came the fabric, and I sewed it up!

Liesl and Co Day in the Park Backpack Tote

Bags are super difficult to photograph in ways that really show their true glory. Kudos to those who photograph them professionally! For me, the big drawcard of this bag is the convertible straps. It can be carried as a tote bag, or the straps can be worn differently and it becomes a backpack. It is all to do with the rings and how the straps are threaded through them during construction.

Liesl and Co Day in the Park Backpack Tote

The fabrics are denim from Rathdowne Fabrics (love their remnant bins) and quilting cotton that has been in stash forever. I had a vintage button to use on the outside, and the brass rings and other hardware were in my stash. I’ve got a fair few bag supplies stocked up. There’s also a fair bit of quality fusible woven interfacing throughout. Don’t use low cost poor quality interfacing – it makes such a difference to the finished product if you use the good stuff. You won’t regret it!

Liesl and Co Day in the Park Backpack Tote

This is a fairly simple bag. There is the outer pocket, and some patch pockets on the inside plus a zippered pocket on the inside. Shaping is done through the use of a gusset. It takes patience and lots of pinning and clipping to sew the curved bottom edges nicely, but in the end it all comes together well.

Liesl and Co Day in the Park Backpack Tote

From the pattern website: This versatile bag can be worn as a backpack, shoulder bag, or tote and is suitable as a second project for new sewers. Fully lined interior includes zippered pocket and divided patch pocket for pencils, cell phone, or other small items.

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This worked really well at Soul Craft to carry my keep cup, water bottle, purse, glasses, and the other bits and pieces that I needed to have with me, all while keeping my hands free to pat yarn and fabric.  This pattern definitely gets a thumbs up.

Liesl and Co Day in the Park Backpack Tote

books · sewing · Uncategorized

and the winner is…

Thanks to a random number generator, the winner of an e-book version of Sew…the Garment-Making Book of Knowledge by Barbara Emodi is:

Sewing wisdom-clean your machine and change the needle. The machine will run smoother and your sewing will improve.

Congratulations Marilyn!  Please send me an email with your details and I’ll organise for you to receive a copy of the book.

Many thanks to all the people who shared their sewing wisdom – I encourage you to read through all the comments on the previous blog post; there’s terrific information there!  What a wise lot you all are.

books · sewing

Sew – the Garment-Making Book of Knowledge

When I received an email from Barbara Emodi asking if I’d be interested in being part of a blog tour to promote her book, I was extremely happy to oblige.  As it happens, I had already bought her book in the first week of release!  I have been aware of Barbara and her sewing skills for a long time, having read her regular column in Australian Stitches magazine many, many years ago.  I’ve enjoyed following her blog and instagram, and knew that her book would be a valuable addition to my sewing library.  And did you know that the Style Arc Barb pants are named for her?

Sew...The Garment-Making Book of Knowledge

So, another sewing book.  What makes this one different?  To me, it’s a combination of things.  Barbara writes in a super friendly, chatty and wise way.  She often makes me laugh.  And she’s super realistic!  She says things how they are.  I love that!  She’s got a wealth of expertise and knowledge to share, and has written this book to pass on sewing wisdom.  I’ve been sewing for years and have still benefitted from it, but I think it would be especially good for people who have just started out with garment sewing.

Sew...The Garment-Making Book of Knowledge

This isn’t a textbook – it’s more written like a conversation about sewing (and don’t those of us who love sewing love to talk about it!) and information is imparted in a variety of ways.  There’s anecdotes, mini-lessons, diagrams, photographs, thoughts and discussion.  Rather than being straight technical advice, Barbara weaves together the information that you need to know in order to sew garments successfully.  She talks about things like when to ignore pattern directions, how to determine what size to sew, and how to choose fabrics.  She does all of these in a practical (and often humourous) way that acknowledges the realities of our bodies and our lives.

Sew...The Garment-Making Book of Knowledge

There is also plenty of information across the sewing spectrum.  How to set up a sewing station, what equipment you really need and why, how to alter flat patterns.  The mini-lessons include separate techniques that could be applied to a variety of projects.  Barbara also has a youtube channel where she demonstrates techniques, which is really useful for those who are more visual learners.

Sew...The Garment-Making Book of Knowledge

Like Barbara, I learned to sew as a child.  I watched mum sew, she taught me the basics and answered my questions, I read the instructions on patterns, and devoured any Golden Hands magazine that I could get my hands on.  I continued to read extensively about sewing, gave lots of things a go – after all, it’s only fabric – and progressively improved my skills.  However, I reckon that my sewing plateaued for a number of years – until the internet arrived.  Being able to interact so easily with other sewers and talk about my hobby has been such a terrific thing.  It’s that sharing of personal experiences and collective wisdom that has helped me to step things up a notch.  Barbara’s book is definitely part of that conversation and is full of sewing wisdom.

Sew...The Garment-Making Book of Knowledge

C&T Publishing have offered to give away an eBook copy of the book to one of my blog readers.  If you’d like to enter please leave a comment sharing a piece of your sewing wisdom on this blog post, and I’ll draw a name on Wednesday 8th August.

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS NOW CLOSED.

Sew...The Garment-Making Book of Knowledge

The blog tour schedule is as follows:

Pop over to their blogs and see what they have to say and maybe enter their book draws too.  I highly recommend this book to any new garment sewer, plus those who’ve been sewing for a while and still want to learn more.  Many thanks to Barbara for sharing her knowledge so generously.

Sew...The Garment-Making Book of Knowledge

adult's clothing · sewing

Concord tee and York pinafore

I didn’t plan to sew these two pieces as an outfit – but I’ve discovered that they work together beautifully.

Cashmerette Concord tee and Helens Closet York pinafore

The striped tee came first. It’s the Cashmerette Concord tee, the scoop neck and long cuffed sleeve version, in size 12C/D. And I don’t have any photos of it without the pinafore over it. Oh well.

Cashmerette Concord tee and Helens Closet York pinafore

From the Cashmerette website:  Meet the Concord, your new favorite tee! Fully customizable, this knit T-Shirt is a classic wardrobe staple that’s designed for curves. Choose from three hem lengths (cropped, mid-length or long curved), three necklines (high, V-neck, or scoop), three sleeve lengths (short, medium, or long), two sleeve finishes (cuffed or hemmed), and optional sleeve tabs. Whether you layer them over jeans on Friday night, or pair them with floral skirts at the office, you’ll want a closet of Concords!

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I sewed the the curved and faced hemline.  I possibly wouldn’t both again; I’d just do a regular straight hem on this.  I find that the facing creates a ridge – possibly a combination of the fabric type and my body.  I shortened the tee before cutting it out by taking out a fold from the front and the back – it’s very long as drafted considering that I have a short torso.  The fabric is a viscose/spandex (possibly also some cotton in there) that I bought from Rathdowne Fabrics a year or so again.  They’re great colours!  As always, I took care when cutting out that the stripes were aligned, and I used a fair number of pins during construction to make sure that they were.

Cashmerette Concord tee and Helens Closet York pinafore

My overall verdict on the tee pattern is a definite thumbs up. I really like the fit around the upper chest and shoulders, and the scoop is perfect for me. As always I used this tutorial to get the neckband length correct, and I used a twin needle to secure it after I’d attached it to the tee. So, on to the pinafore.

Cashmerette Concord tee and Helens Closet York pinafore

The York pinafore was definitely an impulse buy and sew. I think I may have sewn it the weekend that the pattern was released. The cocoon shape and the overall simplicity really appealed to me (once I got past the initial ‘you’re fifty, you can’t wear a denim pinafore’ thought).

Cashmerette Concord tee and Helens Closet York pinafore

From the Helen’s Closet website: The York Pinafore is a playful addition to your handmade wardrobe. It is easy to layer over tank tops for summer or turtlenecks and leggings for colder weather. The York Pinafore is a modern take on a classic pinafore dress with a cocoon shape and two views. View A features large scoop pockets, a dipped neckline, and comes to the knee. View B is a shorter length with a high neckline and a kangaroo pocket. Recommended Fabrics: Medium to heavy weight woven fabrics such as cotton twill, denim, wool, linen, corduroy, and canvas. Crisp lightweight fabrics such as cotton and lightweight linen can also be used for a warm-weather pinafore. Drapier fabrics such as tencel twill, wool crepe, rayon crepe, or viscose poplin work well if you prefer a softer, less structured look.

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This pattern didn’t take long to tape.  I decided to sew view A, the longer version with the lower scooped neckline and the curved pockets.  I love those pockets!

Cashmerette Concord tee and Helens Closet York pinafore

Now, what size did I sew? Hmmmm, racking my brain. Probably the Large (12-14).  I did shorten the shoulder straps an inch, and after I sewed up and tried on the pinafore I went back and took another two inches from the length by folding over the hem for a second time. By the way, the fabric is dark brown denim with a teensy bit of stretch, from Rathdowne Fabrics remnant bins. I love those remnant bins.  I made my own bias tape from printed quilting cotton to finish the curved armhole and neckline edges. I like using bias tape like a facing – it works so nicely around curves, although you do need to ensure that you shape and press with plenty of steam as you go.

Cashmerette Concord tee and Helens Closet York pinafore

I really, really like this outfit. I feel good in it, it’s easy to wear, and layers well under my bright green merino Tessuti Megan cardigan and a scarf. I’ve worn it to a few events since I sewed it, and it is very me. I will definitely be using both patterns again (I have some wool earmarked for the pinafore already – I’ll use the same pattern pieces to cut a full lining so that it doesn’t stick to my tights). Definitely recommended.

adult's clothing · sewing

Laura has a Tonic with Parker

A couple of old patterns with a newer one! I’ve mentioned before that I like to sew entire outfits, where possible. Less wardrobe orphans that way!

Style Arc Laura cardigan, Parker ponte pants, and SBCC Tonic 2 Tee

So, let’s start at the bottom – which is the newest of these patterns. The pants are the Style Arc Parker Ponte Pant. They actually sold these in a bundle with a top and coat pattern. I purchased the whole bundle, but haven’t sewn up the top or coat yet.

Style Arc Parker ponte pant

From the Style Arc website: You will love the simplicity of this new ponte pant shape. This style features an elastic waist and a straight cuffed leg which sits on the ankle. Trendy, comfortable and an easy sew.

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This pattern is designed for ponte, and that’s what I used. This is a beautiful quality navy ponte that came to me from a generous friend. Ponte is one of those fabric that varies wildly in quality. In general I try to buy ponte that doesn’t contain polyester. I find that poly ponte pills extremely quickly and just doesn’t wear well. This ponte is divine – I’m not sure of the fibre composition, but it’s beautiful to sew, wear and washes well too!

Style Arc Parker ponte pant

I generally sew size 10 in Style Arc pants, but since I got larger I am experimenting with sewing size 12 pants instead. These are size 12, with the legs shortened about an inch and half by taking a fold out. I think that this pattern had a handy lengthen/shorten line on it. Otherwise I sewed them without alteration, mostly on the overlocker. Only the angled upper front detail needed the sewing machine.

Style Arc Parker ponte pant

The waistband is nice and wide, with wide elastic inside it. These pants are super comfortable to wear. I’ve decided to try sewing another pair in stretch corduroy – we’ll see how that goes!

Style Arc Parker ponte pants and SBCC Tonic 2 Tee

So, to the striped tee. The pattern for this one is the SBCC Tonic Two. I think – but am not certain – that I cut the neckline a bit lower, using another pattern as a guide. I’m very pleased with the finished depth for a long sleeved tee – not too high, not too low.

SBCC Tonic 2 Tee in soft knit from Super Cheap Fabrics

This fabric is absolutely scrumptious to wear. It’s a viscose/spandex knit that I picked up at Super Cheap Fabrics. It’s incredibly soft next to the skin. I did make sure to match the stripes when cutting and sewing – a pin in each stripe, then straight to the overlocker. Just don’t forget to pull those pins out before the fabric gets to the blade!

Style Arc Parker ponte pants and SBCC Tonic 2 Tee

My young photographers don’t always tell me when my clothes are caught up on my bum. Size wise, I think that I blended between sizes with this one, cutting the shoulders a size smaller than the bust and removing the waist shaping. The Tonic 2 tee is a free pattern by the way, as is the sister pattern Tonic that has short sleeves and a lower neckline. From the website: The Tonic 2 T-shirt is your new go to layering piece. If you loved the Tonic Tshirt, this is the next step up. The Tonic 2 has the same great fit but with updated details. This is a perfect transitional piece for your wardrobe in between seasons as you layer it or wear it alone. The Tonic 2 features a long, slim sleeve, and a crew neckline. Also, the body length is hip level for petites, but the good news is this will also work for regular height gals as well. Make the Tonic 2 out of any two way stretch jersey in solid or that fancy print you have been saving.

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SBCC patterns are designed for short people, so I really should pull this pattern out more often! The armhole depth on this tee works really nicely for me. The patterns also cover a significant size range.

Style Arc Laura cardigan

So last, but definitely not least, we come to the Style Arc Laura knit cardi. This pattern is one of the first Style Arc patterns that I ever bought and sewed. From the website: This simple shawl collar cardi is suitable for a knit drapable fabric. FABRIC SUGGESTION & DESCRIPTION Any knit fabric with plenty of stretch.

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The fabric that I used is fairly open and loosely knitted. Definitely a fabric that benefitted from the overlocker! What is missing from the line drawing is the centre back seam in the ‘hood’. From experience I know to sew that seam WRONG sides together – as when the cardi is worn the inside of the ‘hood’/collar is exposed. So that’s what I did – sewed it wrong sides together on the overlocker, then pressed it gently to one side and stitched it down on the machine, a bit like a flat felled seam. The rest of the construction was on the overlocker. This is a very quick cardi to sew.

Style Arc Laura cardigan

The instructions suggest that the edges are finished with a rolled edge on the overlocker. I decided to turn a 1cm hem over twice and secure it with a zig-zag stitch on the sewing machine instead, which gave me a really neat edge that also added a nice amount of weight to the bottom of the cardi. I made sure that the zig-zag was right along the fold, especially important as this fabric is pretty sheer.

Style Arc Laura cardigan, Parker ponte pants, and SBCC Tonic 2 Tee

This isn’t a warm winter cardi, but one that will provide that little bit extra when needed throughout much of the year. I find that the Laura cardi is a great pattern for knits that are a bit more difficult to handle – there are minimal seams, and because the edge finishing is simple – no bands etc – it’s not hard to get an effective result.

adult's clothing · sewing

Love Notions Canyon Cardigan

Over month between blog posts.  That was unintended.  Most of us go silent when life is full-on – either in good ways or in bad ways.  The last couple of months have been particularly intense for me, both with good things and with others that have been and will continue to be extremely challenging.  That is what life is, I think.  It’s full of ups and downs, and they can all coincide.  The older I get – and YES! I turned fifty a couple of weeks ago! – the more that I realise that life is complicated, it’s often very difficult, and it has moments of joy and delight.  Overall I am very fortunate, I know that.  It’s so important to make sure that those people that are important to you know that they are important, and why.  And while planning for the future, don’t forget to make the most of now. Because really, now is what we have.

Love Notions Canyon Cardigan in textured knit from Super Cheap Fabrics

I sewed this up a couple of months ago – yes, I am that far behind with blogging. Oh for the days when I would sew something and get it photographed and blogged pretty much immediately! The pattern is the Love Notions Canyon Cardigan.  From the website: The Canyon Cardigan is a great, transitional piece for your wardrobe. Three views are included; the skirt portion of the cardigan can be changed while the bodice stays the same. This cardigan is a more fitted style perfect for light layering with subtle shaping at the waist and center back. The three views included: a-line, gathered, and waterfall. All three are meant for stretch fabrics. Three sleeve lengths are included as well: vest, 3/4, and long. Also included are optional pockets and elbow patches.

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I have a couple of cardigan patterns that I really love and have sewn multiple times – the Style Arc Simone and Style Arc Coral – but every now and then it’s nice to add something slightly different to the mix.  I chose to sew the long sleeved cardigan with the A-line body.  I left out the pockets.

Love Notions Canyon Cardigan in textured knit from Super Cheap Fabrics

The fabric came from Super Cheap Fabrics. It’s a knit, with textured self-stripes. Looked at close up it appears to be two layers, with the top layer folded into the self-stripes of different widths that are held in place by the lower layer. I’d love to see the machines in operation constructing this! It’s quite spongy and thick, and is probably highly polyester in fibre content.

Love Notions Canyon Cardigan in textured knit from Super Cheap Fabrics

I sewed size Large, which was definitely a size too big for me. I’m still figuring out what sizes work best on my fatter-than-it-used-to-be shape. One of the things that I love about Love Notions patterns is that they show many, many sample garments on all sorts of shapes and sizes. It’s helpful to see how they fit and drape on different people. I need to choose the size of my tops mostly on upper bust and shoulder width, and make sure that they are styles that will accommodate my mid-section (or grade them up through the stomach). The shoulder width on the Large is much wider than I need.  I recently has a three dimensional body scan done, and will share my learnings from that with you later in a future blog post. It’s really helpful to properly look at yourself when you’re a sewer!

Love Notions Canyon Cardigan in textured knit from Super Cheap Fabrics

There aren’t many pieces to this cardigan, and I doubt that I paid much attention to the instructions. Construction was primarily on the overlocker, with the sewing machine used for the twin-needled hems.  I did need to shorten the sleeves quite a bit – and my arms aren’t especially short – but otherwise I didn’t make any changes. I think that it’s a nice style with a few interesting options, and well worth adding to my pattern arsenal, although I’d sew a smaller size in the future.