children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing

Book week 2016

It was book week a couple of months ago (yes, I am very behind with blogging so everything that appears here was sewn months ago now).  Stella decided that she wanted to go as Billie B Brown.

Book Week costume 2016

The school was focusing on Australian authors, and as it happens Sally Rippin is not only Australian, but local to us! I liked that element of Stella’s choice. Most of the “costume” was easily found in her wardrobe, but Stella really wanted a pinafore like the one on the book cover. Enter Lekala 7198.

Book Week costume 2016

This is a pattern designed for wovens, and I was using a knit from stash, so I eliminated the side zipper. I also left out the back belt and the front pockets. The pattern was folded down at the strap level to create a straight edge, and I traced off a facing to match. The straps were made from wide bias binding and were inserted between the dress and facing.

Book Week costume 2016

Buttons were added at the centre front for decoration. Stella enjoyed having input to every element of the design process, referring back to the book cover as we went along.

Book Week costume 2016

Of course, this was all done the night before it was needed. Some things never change. And the finished costume?

Book Week Costume 2016

Yes, she was pleased!

adult's clothing · sewing

Negroni shirt

Collette Negroni shirt in Liberty from Shaukat

My husband really does get the sewing crumbs from me. Every now and then I sew him a t-shirt, but if I am honest about the proportions of sewing time spent on me and the girls as compared to him, the amount of sewing I do for him is miniscule. But every now and then I pull a rabbit out of the hat.

Collette Negroni shirt in Liberty from Shaukat

This is the Colette Negroni shirt in Liberty cotton from Shaukat. It is such beautifully silky fabric to sew and to wear. I’ve sewn him the Negroni shirt twice before – a short-sleeved version here, and a long-sleeved version here. This one is also a size Medium but with the sleeves shortened considerably by taking a large fold partway down the pattern piece.  I
left off the collar button loop.

Collette Negroni shirt in Liberty from Shaukat

There is a pocket on that left shirt front – can you see it? I used one of the alternative pockets that are provided via the Colette blog here.  It’s the divet version.  You can just make it out if you look carefully.  I didn’t make any effort to match the print, but the very nature of it means that it is fairly well camouflaged.

Collette Negroni shirt in Liberty from Shaukat

As you can see in these photos, he really does NOT like modelling for blog photos – but knows that that is the price you pay if you want me to sew for you! The girls did give him a hard time about not knowing what to do with his arms. Maybe we need to find him some posing pointers!

Collette Negroni shirt in Liberty from Shaukat

The back yoke is done burrito-style, and those two small back pleats allow for a little more movement. I like the curved hemline as well. As it happens, I have another couple of lengths of Liberty in stash that are earmarked for more shirts. Maybe one for Christmas?

Collette Negroni shirt in Liberty from Shaukat

bags

Genoa Totes

Sometimes it is extremely satisfying to sew a pattern that doesn’t require fitting.  For me, that means a bag.  Or two.  Or three. Maybe even four.

Genoa Tote

Genoa Tote

Genoa Tote

Genoa Tote

Most of my readers know that I am friends with Anna, who has designed the Genoa Tote in conjunction with Nita-Jane of Pattern Fantastique. So take that into account when you read the rest of this blog post – I might have unconscious bias. But I don’t think that I do – it’s a terrific tote pattern and I think that the results speak for themselves.  But boy, bags are difficult to photograph well!

Genoa Tote

Genoa Tote

Genoa Tote

Genoa Tote

Yes, there are a million free patterns and tutorials for tote bags out there on the internet. But I think that there are a few points of difference that make the Genoa Tote pattern worth the money (I will point out here that I didn’t pay for my copy of the pattern as I helped with final testing). This pattern comes in three sizes, all nicely proportioned. I’ve made the Medium and the Large (the orange bag). The facing at the top of the bag gives structure, the lining is nicely attached to the main bag, and there is a nicely constructed inner pocket and key leash. And of course, those leather handles. They’re great.

Genoa Tote

Genoa Tote

Genoa Tote

I used denim for the outer of all my bags. The most difficult part is sourcing the requirements for the handles. I got my leather directly from Anna – she will be selling some kits – but you can get it from places like NSW Leather Company. Or you can do as I did with one of my bags and cut up some old belts!  I bought rivets and punches and other bits and pieces online from Adelaide Leather Co (their service was great) and now I have enough to sew Genoa totes for the rest of my life.  My rubber mallet came from Bunnings and the bread board from the supermarket.

Genoa Tote

Genoa Tote

Genoa Tote

It’s lots of fun putting together fabric combinations for this bag. Anna’s instructions are excellent (she has an extensive teaching/training/writing background) and combined with Nita-Jane’s drafting you are assured of a great result. I’ve already given one bag to a friend for her 50th and can tell that this will be a go-to pattern for gifts.

The pattern description from the website is as follows: Designed with denim in mind, the Genoa Tote borrows it’s name from the Italian city, where the first denim trousers were made. The Genoa Tote is fully-lined, features a zipped pouch and a clip for keys. The leather straps can be made in two lengths and two widths, and are attached with double capped rivets, creating beauty, strength and longevity.

Genoa Tote

I’ve already seen loads of these pop up on Instagram.  It’s a basic, but a basic that has all those elements that in my opinion elevate it above the ordinary.  Nicely done, Anna and Nita-Jane!

sewing

Style Arc Cara Top

Wow, that was an unintended blog break!  Work has become absolutely insane over the past few weeks and I am working much more than usual.  Just haven’t had the energy to blog.

But I do want to say thanks to everyone who has left me comments lately, particularly on my “musings” post a couple back.  I have been musing further on your responses and love that you make me think.  There will be more discussion on this ahead, I’m sure!

But in the meantime, I’ll show you my Style Arc Cara top.

Style Arc Cara top in rayon from Darn Cheap Fabrics (with Style Arc Ethel pants in linen)

Tops and dresses with shoulder/arm interest are everywhere at the moment. Cut out shoulders, off the shoulder, open sleeves – all those things that show off some shoulder and/or arm. So I thought I’d give it a whirl – why not!  Aren’t clothes meant to be fun?

Style Arc Cara top in rayon from Darn Cheap Fabrics (with Style Arc Ethel pants in linen)

This was really a muslin. I wasn’t expecting to actually LIKE it on me. But I do! The fabric is a rayon woven from Darn Cheap Fabrics – the scraps left over from another project. Just my colours! The next dilemma was how to style this top. I sewed size 12, and it’s a rather cropped length, especially considering that I am only 158cm tall and am short waisted. But I think that it needs to be on the short side in order to balance out the volume.

Style Arc Cara top in rayon from Darn Cheap Fabrics (with Style Arc Ethel pants in linen)

I rather like it with my Style Arc Ethel linen trousers. I think that it needs high waisted pants or skirts if you are planning to avoid showing your midriff. I am always planning to avoid showing my midriff! It passed the teen test – as soon as she saw it on me Clare said that she wanted a version of my outfit in her size! Now that’s a compliment!

Style Arc Cara top in rayon from Darn Cheap Fabrics (with Style Arc Ethel pants in linen)

I probably need to pull the elastic in the back of this top a little tighter – the flat front band isn’t sitting flat against my body. However, it’s very comfortable to wear. The only downside is that it requires a strapless bra (or going without – not an option I feel comfortable with) and they are never my favourite things.

From the Style Arc website: CARA TOP: This on-trend top gives a gorgeous look with its flattering, gathered, off the shoulder neckline with a floaty raglan sleeve.  The elastic at the back neck band keeps the shoulder line in shape.  Wear it with jeans or dress it up with a fabulous print to wear to a special occasion. FABRIC SUGGESTION: Silk, Crepe, Cotton, Broderie Anglaise.

cara-top

Now Mum, I know that strapless/off the shoulder has never been your scene. However, I rather like it, and I’m really glad that I gave it a go. In fact, I now have plans to sew the Hot Patterns Urban Gypsy Blouse and the Style Arc Marilyn dress pattern is in the mail to me as I type.   I’ve just sewn Clare a Cold Shoulder top, and am considering one for myself. And yes, I’ve also got a Cara top cut out in teensy size for Clare….

Style Arc Cara top in rayon from Darn Cheap Fabrics (with Style Arc Ethel pants in linen)

I’m jumping on this trend before it vanishes!  Embrace those shoulders everyone! But make sure that you have plenty of sunscreen.

adult's clothing · sewing

Style Arc Coral Cardigan

I definitely sew many Style Arc patterns more than once.  The Coral Cardigan is no exception.  This is a fairly recent release – just a couple of months ago, I think.

coral-cardigan

The website describes it as follows: Everyone needs a cardigan, why not this on trend style. It’s shortened front neck band that aligns with the inseam pocket detail give s a simple cardigan a new lease on life. Carol is a lovely square shaped cardigan, very easy to wear and make.  FABRIC SUGGESTION: Knit, Jersey, Light Ponte or any knit fabric

Style Arc Coral Cardigan in wool knit from Clear It

I really like to wear garments that are essentially quite simple, but have small details. In this case, it’s the shortened front neck band. I know that lots of people find it a little strange, but I love it.

Style Arc Coral Cardigan in wool knit from Clear It

I sewed straight size 12, which is my usual Style Arc size and pretty much correlates with what I’d buy in the shops (if I bought clothes in the shops). The sleeves are rather long on this cardigan – I could have shortened them a little. It is incredibly fast to sew. The in seam pockets are straightforward, and were sewn on the sewing machine. I used the overlocker for the rest of the construction, including sewing the wrist bands to the sleeves.

Style Arc Coral Cardigan in wool knit from Clear It

The fabric is a lovely wool double knit from Clear It. It’s possibly a bit heavier weight than this pattern recommends, but still worked out okay. It’s very warm to wear, and has lovely flecks throughout. I try to avoid buying black fabrics, but will relent for grey on occasion.

Style Arc Coral Cardigan in wool knit from Clear It

I topstitched the hem and down the front of the jacket to hold the neckband in place and finish the centre edges of the lower front. The neckband sits very nicely around the back of my neck, and those little pockets are rather cute.

Style Arc Coral Cardi in Anna Sui printed poly knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This simple pattern was the perfect canvas for a brightly coloured print! My second version of the Coral Cardigan is sewn in a polyester double knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics, that is apparently an Anna Sui print. All those colours and shapes and swirls! Fantastic!

Style Arc Coral Cardi in Anna Sui printed poly knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

This was cut out and sewn exactly the same as the grey cardigan. Because I had already sewn it once before it was even faster to assemble.

Style Arc Coral Cardi in Anna Sui printed poly knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The centre fronts and the band edges do actually line up – I must have done something weird with how I put it on before these photos were taken.

Style Arc Coral Cardi in Anna Sui printed poly knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Prints like this are loads of fun, but they definitely require more plains to go underneath! I know that many people can mix prints with aplomb, but I don’t think that I am one of them. Although I do think that stripes are a neutral, as is animal print, and spots, and can be worn like plains….

Style Arc Coral Cardigan in wool knit from Clear It

I highly recommend this pattern. Remember that the arms are pretty long, but otherwise I think that it would work well for everyone who likes knit cardigans without waist shaping. It also works well with a scarf or shawl – thanks to Mum for this knitted one!

Style Arc Coral Cardigan in wool knit from Clear It

musings

Musing

Firstly, I don’t think that I have ever had as many complimentary and supportive blog comments as on my last blog post on the lace dress I sewed for Clare.  Thank YOU all so much!  She has been thrilled to read them all, as have I.  I really do appreciate each and every one of them (I know it takes that bit more effort and time to leave comments, and we’re all under tight schedules nowadays).  I will be honest and say that I know I will be really disappointed if the dress doesn’t win a prize, but at the same time I am very well aware that there are many other stunning entries, and more are flooding in as the deadline approaches.  I don’t really know what the judges criteria are, and I didn’t really enter thinking that I’d win anything, but after it was finished and I saw all the photos I really hope that it might!  If not, just another life resilience lesson I suppose😉

So, time for a new blog post!  As is often the case my sewing has got ahead of photography and time at the computer, so I’m blogging out of order.

I’ve mentioned a few times lately that I’ve put on weight this year.  It’s not surprising – a mixture of a slower metabolism, being in my late forties with likely shifting hormones, lack of exercise, and a distinct love of chocolate and wine – and because my other health parameters are okay I’ve been alright with it.  It’s not always as noticeable in the flat photos that you see on the blog, as much of my weight increase is right on the front of my abdomen, but it’s very much there.  And now it is definitely influencing the styles and the fabrics of the clothing that I am sewing.

Which leads me to talking about knit fabrics.  I much prefer a knit cardigan to a woven jacket, and a knit skirt to a fitted woven.  It’s about the flexibility.  I find that it moves better with my bulges, accommodates weight fluctuations, and allows me to bend and move in ways that don’t result in a garment that digs in.  The elastic waist is my friend! Now that Melbourne has moved into spring I am re-evaluating my wardrobe.

Many of my summer dresses still fit me – both the wovens and the knits.  The wovens are nearly all loose through the midsection, and because my upper chest and shoulders haven’t changed a great deal with my weight gain, they mostly still fit.  A number of my knit dresses are more fitted, but the nature of the fabric means that they can stretch to fit. However, I don’t always feel good in them – I don’t like the sausage casing feeling – so a number of stretch dresses have left my wardrobe.

I am finding separates more challenging.  I definitely need those elastic waists.  Most garments with a fitted waist no longer fit me at all.  Many tops and t-shirts that are more fitted around the waist also no longer feel good on me.  I also have a number of separates that don’t really go with anything else.

So it’s time to reassess.  I’m getting rid of what doesn’t fit, and what I don’t feel good in.  (You might have noticed that I talk about how I feel in my clothes, rather than how they look.  Although it’s likely that the two are linked, I know that I won’t wear things that I don’t feel good in, no matter if they look good according to prevailing “taller/thinner/younger” dogma.  My confidence comes from how I feel in what I wear, not what others think about it – although I do of course still appreciate compliments and positive feedback!  Ah, so many contradictions).

I also think that as I approach Fifty I am reassessing many aspects of myself.  I presume that this is a common thing – those “zero” birthdays often have an impact.  Although it’s still over a year away – and I don’t mind getting older; I feel that it is a blessing – it feels significant.  I think that it’s having an impact in a number of areas.

And as for my sewing?  I want to continue to focus on sewing “outfits” that go with at least  one or two other items!  As much as I will continue to love print and pattern I’m seeing a small wardrobe shift toward solids.  I want to keep experimenting with silhouette a little as well – I am planning on trying the off the shoulder look that is fashionable at the moment.  I am fortunate to have a very large stash of fabrics and patterns that allow me to experiment as well as to sew tried and true styles.  I just need a little more focus at the moment.

I’m guessing that these feelings are familiar to many of you reading this blog.  Does your sewing change much with significant changes in life stage?

Anyway, I’m having a day to sew some of those simple basics that have been missing from my recent wardrobe – so I’d better get back to it!

cloth diapering · kids clothing · sewing

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition entry

When Tessuti announced their most recent competition, the Cut Out Lace Sewing Competition, I looked at the fabric and knew that I would never sew it for myself.  I don’t really wear lace, as much as I love it on other people.  But I had a very strong suspicion that Clare would like a lace dress.  There were three colour ways on offer – black, red and ivory.  Clare chose ivory, and I ordered two panels. When it arrived and I opened the parcel all that I could think was “tablecloth”.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition entry begins

Now that I’ve said that, it’s all that you can see too, isn’t it! I had a dilemma – how was I going to best use this fabric in a way that it wouldn’t look like a tablecloth? I ran a few pattern options past Clare, and a few lining options, and in the end we decided to base her dress on view B of Simplicity 8086 with a contrasting taffeta lining.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition entry begins

So, the first challenge. This is a women’s pattern. Clare measured a 4 bust and an 8 waist. I didn’t care about the hip measurement as I knew it was a full skirt. I also checked front and back waist lengths, and shoulder width, and knew that I had some adjustments to make.  I really would have made life easier for myself if I’d started with a girl’s pattern.  I needed to focus on the bodice pieces.  Firstly I graded between sizes where needed then did a SBA to remove the copious bust shaping.  Then I cut a muslin from an old sheet and tried it on.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition entry begins

It was SO worth sewing the muslin. As you know, I’m not usually a muslin maker, but there are times when I can really see the value.  I made some more alterations, sewed them, tried it on Clare again, then unpicked it completely and used it as the pattern to cut out the lace. Having sewn the muslin also meant that I had all the pattern pieces needed for the bodice, which made working out the lace placement more straightforward. Hooray!

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition entry

See those instructions? They were basically gobbledygook, so I discarded them completely. I cut out the bodice overlay entirely from the lace. For the under bodice I cut the bodice waistband and lower back pieces from the lace and underlined them with taffeta. I cut the upper front and back bodice from the taffeta as well, then cut all the same pieces again to sew a full bodice lining. The taffeta is a copper colour, with red threads in one direction and green in the other. It has enough depth that the patterns on the lace really stand out, yet it blends fairly well with Clare’s skin tone beneath the looser overlay.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition entry

I sewed the overlay, the under bodice, and the lining separately. Then the fun began. I needed to join these pieces in a way that would fully enclose all the seam allowances. There was a lot of fiddling, a lot of pinning, and a lot of working in small spaces involved. I started by putting the overlay in place on top of the under bodice, then sewing the lining to it right sides together around the neckline. This seemed to work okay. Then I used the burrito method to sew one armhole, then the other. The overlay is joined at the neckline and armholes, but hangs free elsewhere. Once I’d done that, I needed to finish the edges of the upper back under bodice. Once again there was a fair bit of pinning and turning inside out. I’d left the waistline and centre back seams open so that I could manipulate the rest of the bodice. By taking things slow and steady, and thinking logically, I was able to complete the bodice other than the centre back seam. I knew that I wanted to leave it for the eventual insertion of an invisible zip.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition entry

The skirt width is the full length of two panels of the lace.  I cut it as a long rectangle, without any shaping. I underlined it with the taffeta, hoping that the taffeta would add fullness to the pleats and prevent any show through of the seam allowance at the centre back skirt seam. This worked well. Pleat placement was a matter of trial and error. I spent some time manipulating the skirt fabric, measuring, pleating, pinning, unpinning, re-measuring, pinning, checking, and so on, until we had the pleats at a depth and distribution that was pleasing to the eye. The mirroring of the lace was really important here as well – some pleat depths looked better than others. Eventually the pleats were stitched in place, then the skirt attached to the bodice and the seam allowance edges overlocked together. There is quite a bit of bulk in that seam and we wanted it to sit as flat as possible from the outside of the dress.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition entry

After all of that it was a relatively simple matter of inserting an invisible zip at the centre back seam. The bulk at the waist seam made this a slightly delicate process, but once again patience was my friend. I sewed a button loop from embroidery thread at the centre back neckline, and covered a button with a flower from the lace, with taffeta underneath.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition entry

The last step was to sew the hem by simply turning the edge of the lace under and stitching it by machine. This just made it a little more substantial and helped with the skirt fullness.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

This was one of those special sewing occasions where I turned the finished dress around the right way, gave it a shake, and felt a huge smile spread over my face. I just loved it! Then I called Clare – and she had entirely the same reaction. And once she tried it on? Just beautiful. I know that I am biased – she’s my daughter, after all – but I think that this dress is absolutely perfect for her.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

We had an absolute ball doing a photo shoot down at the local creek. We managed to get some lovely photos in the natural environment, as well as some at the industrial estate nearby.  That green wall is an auto body repairers, and the grey wall belongs to a funeral director!

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

So now I’ll subject you all to yet more of the photos that I took – because I found it incredibly difficult to narrow down which ones to enter in the competition. There is a week or so left before the competition closes, and there are already a number of stunning entries. I don’t expect to win the competition, but as far as Clare and I are concerned, this dress already takes first prize.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

You can follow the entries for the competition on Tessuti’s Pinterest board here.

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition