Sunday, July 26, 2015

Wild Flowers Alder

Even though it's Winter here, I couldn't help but make another Grainline Alder dress with a gathered skirt. My first Alder, which interestingly was also made in Winter, has been on such high rotation this year that it needed a friend.

So meet my new Liberty Wild Flowers Alder.
I think I'm in love!
(Please excuse the lily white legs. They haven't seem sunlight for months!)


Despite my complete love for this frock, from the outset this dress was doomed and almost didn't survive. To begin with I only purchased 1.4m of fabric. Even for me, this is taking scant fabric purchasing to the next level. Had I have even glanced at the post for my first Alder, I would have seen that I barely had a scrap from 1.6m. Thankfully with some very clever pattern placement, I figured I could make it work.

That was until I started to cut the fabric. You see, I did that during one of my very precious kid free days during the recent school holidays. I hadn't been well and rather than sew like a mad woman, I decided to chill out and cut this dress while watching a movie.

BIG mistake! I found myself so distracted that I seriously effed up the cutting and ended up with the collar, back yoke and dress back with a seam line running through it!!! I also didn't have enough fabric to cut the undercollar... again.

Thankfully, the fabric is very forgiving (and positively gorgeous!) and you really can not tell that the pieces weren't cut on the fold.

I really adore this dress and have already worn it to school with black tights and a merino tee for warmth.

I hope you have a great week. I've really got to finish my Frocktails outfit!!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Experimenting: Rectangles and Circles with Head Holes

I recently caught up with a bunch of sewing peeps at the Canberra Frocktails event organised by the very lovely, Canberra Sewing Crew.  If you only follow me on this blog you may not know I attended as I clearly didn't publish the obligatory pics of a new frock or clutch that I made. Unfortunately, the end of semester crunch got the better of me and I wore an existing and much loved silk dress, my Milly Camber. So disappointing!! But I am planning on rectifying this crime against the sewing community by making a three piece extravaganza for the upcoming, sold-out Melbourne Frocktails!

Meeting sewing fanatics in real life is such a treat. You instantly have a conversation opener as you can almost certainly ask about their clothes, which are likely to be made. Unlike when you meet other folk in real life where you ask about kids or work...zzzzzzzz.

Another treat when meeting sewing folk is they often come with all manner of sewing patterns, books, yarn, gadgets or fabrics to drool over. My purchase of this book is the result of one of these show and tell sessions with Nicole. Thanks for being my enabler Nic!

I'm not sure I would have given this sewing book the time of day in Kinokuniya, but after looking through it during our post-Frocktails brunch, I couldn't help but to order it direct from Amazon Japan as soon as got home. Interestingly, I found this quite a cheap way to buy patterns books, but it did take a little guess work to navigate the site in Japanese.

This book (ISBN 978-4-579-11517-4) is entirely in Japanese and for that reason, I can not tell you the name of the book, so I have named it myself. It is called "Rectangles and Circles with Head Holes". Catchy right?

I know Burda has a smattering of these types of patterns in their magazines that are often criticised for their simplicity and I have never felt compelled to make them before, but for some reason I just couldn't resist this book. It might be the disinterested model or perhaps that each top is also displayed on the ground with a cat, but I purchased the book and traced four patterns as soon as it arrived.

The first pattern I made is called "Rectangle with head hole", well at least that's what I think it should be called.
I made the top in a purple mercerised knit remnant that I purchased from Addicted to Fabric earlier this year when we took the kids to Canberra.

One of the restrictions to using this book is that every pattern seems to be a fabric eater. I had very limited options in my stash to experiment with.

I believe the book is drafted for wovens, but really wanted to use knits to hopefully improve the wearability of each item. Do you really want to iron clothes to wear on the weekend??

I really like this top, but did modify it a little. As drafted, the front and back panels are asymmetrical, in that the front panel is bigger than the back and the whole top should drape forward. I chickened out of this as I felt that the excess fabric draping at my tummy wasn't going to be flattering. I also sewed a line of stitching from the hem to just under the arm to give this a better fit. I think this has improved the look, but don't have any photos to show you of the top prior to adding this stitching.
I think this top is wearable and during winter, can be layered with longer merino tops. I may even brave the circle version next to the rectangle. Verdict = interesting and wearable.

My second experiment is a pattern called "Singlet with rectangle sides"

I really like the shape of this top and plan to make another for summer, or possibly even one with sleeves for Winter.

I used a remnant of poly jersey for this one, but as much as I like this fabric, I won't be wearing this top as the finishing is appalling! I really struggled with the neck and arm bands as drafted, so next time I make it I will finish them using my own knit sewing techniques.

I really love the interesting drapes on the sides of this singlet top.

Verdict = definitely interesting and wearable. There will be an improved version coming in the warmer months.
Or like I said, possibly one with sleeves for winter.


As you can probably guess, I think "Rectangles and Circles with Head Holes" is an interesting buy. I've certainly stepped out of my comfort zone and I like that for just a short time, I was able to step away from my more fitted, preppy, safe zone, into the shape experimentation zone.

The top above will be my next make...

And you never know, I may even become brave enough to make the above "circle with a head hole" or even the "square with head and arm holes!" I think I need to stock up on some larger pieces of knit fabric to get this happening!

Note: I noticed on Instagram that Susan also recently bought this book and Nic has it too, so stay watching their blogs as I'm certain they'll make something from it soon.... :)



Thursday, July 9, 2015

Denim Pencil Skirt and 2 x New Look 6415

My first denim pencil skirt has been worn so often it is really starting to show it's age. Naturally, I decided to remake it. Because I can :)
This time I used a stretch denim, which I hope will be a little more comfortable to wear. I also faced the skirt properly, rather than just with grosgrain ribbon, which was a massive cheat on my first skirt. 
As you can see I also only used a regular skirt length exposed zipper, rather than a feature full length one like my initial skirt. I really like the full length zipper but it isn't always practical and after a full year of wear, is starting to look a little bumpy.
As I'm on a bit of practical wardrobe building bender (boring!), I have also made two new ponte tops to add to my work wardrobe.
I've made a stack of these New Look 6145 tops before. The black one replaces my first black ponte top which I made two years ago.

Fingers crossed the lining for my Frocktails dress arrives tomorrow so I can make it before school starts again. I really need an exciting project to bring me back from the land of practical... zzzzzz.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Morris in Orla Kiely

Blogging is not coming so easily at the moment. This blazer has been finished for a couple of months, I have a stack of new items to photograph and I'm only just getting to this one. I guess my lack of love for this item has delayed its post.
You see, I love Morris. I love this Orla Keily fabric (You can see Kate Middleton wearing the brown colourway of this fabric in a coat dress here). But this blazer ain't perfect. She's warm. She's snuggly, but she's saggy!!
After making this blazer, I've since read the detail in Jen's Morris blazer sew along, about choosing fabrics, and can see that she has pointed out the problems with 4 way stretch fabric sagging. I guess I was a little too late in reading that, and perhaps some more interfacing on the outer would have been a good idea.
I think this is definitely salvageable though. I fully lined this blazer, as I found the Orla Kiely wool knit a little scratchy, so I plan to unpick the lining, possibly shrink the wool a little with steam or at least affix some knit interfacing and then lengthen the lining to fit. 
The key problem with this necessary fix, is motivation and time. I'm just not feeling the sewing love this school holidays. I'm really struggling to get motivated. I've still been playing around in my sewing room and experimenting with different things, but I've not felt that overwhelming drive to make things these holidays. 
I'm not sure if that's because I really don't need any clothes at the moment, but I am sure that I'll be a dying to make something as soon as I don't have the time to do it - Murphy's law right?

I'm going to try to schedule some photography time this week so I can show you some of my more recent makes. Hopefully the weather holds for me.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Twirl To Me Dress

Many months ago, Debbie an ex Sydney-sider (I'm kinda devastated we didn't meet in person on home soil before she left) from Lily Sage and Co put out a call for pattern testers for her first pattern, the Twirl To Me dress. Thinking Adele could do with a few new dresses (couldn't we all) I put my hand up and whipped up this cute little number for her.
Unfortunately, because I'm not as committed to my blogging and photography life, as I am my sewing life, I am only just getting around to blogging this dress now. *Sorry Debbie!*

This dress is adorable and Adele loves it, even though it is seasonally inappropriate for her to wear it right now. I made it with enough length that it will still fit in a few months when the weather warms up again.

The dress was easy to make and the front bow is super adorable. It reminds me of Japanese patterns and styling.

Adele picked out the fabrics for this dress. The purple is a poly knit, which is too drapey for the front bodice, so I heavily interfaced it to get it to hold it's shape. She loves the shiny finish on this fabric and the swish, so it was hard to sway her fabric choice and steer her away from it, even though it wasn't an ideal choice. The blue is a voile which is fine, but again, I heavily interfaced the front bow to get it to hold it's shape a little, rather than drape down and be unrecognisable as a bow.

Both of these changes work a treat and the dress looks adorable on her.

Unfortunately, once again, my poor photography skills are being displayed here on this blog, but I hope Adele's hilarious poses give you a giggle. "She's gunna be a su-per-model!"

For more patterns from Debbie, check out her blog and pattern store.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Unicorn Stripes!

For my birthday earlier this year, I was lucky to receive quite a few Madelintosh mini skeins of yarn called Unicorn Tails. Well, I actually bought them for myself, because that's the way we roll in this house with gifts. No surprise little blue boxes. No gift vouchers. No sewing machines. No nothing! I know many people are really good at giving gifts in their family or relationships, but we're almost 20 years into this one and we've just never gotten there.
For me, birthdays are about getting something for myself that I would not normally buy. Something a little over the top. Something a little more than I would normally spend. For this year's birthday, it was these little skeins of wonderfully coloured, soft, squishy Madelintosh.

My inspiration for this scarf came from the Fancy Tiger Crafts blog. As soon as I saw their Unicorn Stripes cowl, I just couldn't stop thinking about it. The only way to justify this expense on yarn was through my birthday gift.

I think it was also the expense that drove me to complete this project - which for the record took just 8 weeks!! Unlike the many versions of this scarf on Ravelry, I only purchased 19 Unicorn Tails skeins. I just didn't see the need to have a scarf as long as the 30 skeins produced.
As it turned out this scarf is perfect! As you can see, I loop it around to make a double cowl which sits just perfectly around my neck. Not too high, not too low.
This scarf is so soft and squishy and not at all scratchy, which I normally find with wool garments.


Now because it's pictured in these photos, I'll point out that I also made this basic top over the weekend.

I purchased this navy ponte from The Remnant Warehouse on Saturday with plans to make another basic New Look 6145. In these photos it looks quite blue, but in real life it's so deep that it appears dark purple.

I've made this pattern many times over the past couple of years, but my most worn variations are my ponte tops which you can see here and here. I wear these tops each at least once a week - at school and at play. As a side note: I've been on the hunt for basic black ponte and have found nothing really nice in Sydney. My black top version of New Look 6145 is starting to look a little shabby and now I've looked it up and know that it's over 2 years old, so it's no wonder why! Handmade = better quality for sure. Please also let me know where I can get some lovely thick black ponte. thanks :)
Each time I make this pattern, I play around with the hemline a little, depending on the styles that I see online just prior to completing the top. This just makes me feel like they are all different and on trend. 

I adore this top and I love this pattern. I already have another ponte version made, ready to photograph and I might even share the modifications I have made to this pattern to make it so successful in a knit.

Happy sewing - only three more sleeps till holidays!!

Monday, June 15, 2015

McCalls 7083

Over our recent Queen's birthday long weekend (Happy Birthday Queenie! Thanks for the day off!), I became somewhat obsessed with McCalls 7083 and made not one, but three versions! All of which are much needed additions to my wardrobe, though no entirely seasonally appropriate, they are still being worn under layers.

I don't have too much to say about the pattern, except that it is really cute. The cut is flattering and it fits well. Shame my photography doesn't really show these tops very well.

First, with pockets in black rayon.
This is just a Spotlight rayon that I've had maturing in my stash for a while. This fabric is well suited to this top with just the right amount of drape.

I don't think you can ever have enough black tops. They are easy to wear during the day and just as easy to dress up at night with the right accessories.


Next with no pockets in a Nani Iro rayon/cotton lawn called Shirube.

This is clearly a mega photo fail, but a nice top. The lawn appears painted. It has an off white base with blush, cream and glittery mountain designs. The printed sections of the fabric are quite stiff, but I think they will soften over time. The contrast in the panels of the garment are really nice in real life, but completely invisible in the photos.

You'll have to take my word for it, this is a nice top and I am not radioactive. I tried to dull the photos, but I've just ended up looking a little grey. You can see the fabric here at Miss Matatabi or on the Nani Iro site.

Lastly, I couldn't pack the pattern away without trying this in a knit. This also has no pockets.

As this knit has a lot of stretch and good recovery, I did a dirty modification to the sleeve pattern, overlapping the shoulder dart to omit it and crossing my fingers for a successful fit. I also sewed a generous side seam to accommodate the knit as you don't need anywhere near as much ease in a knit garment vs a woven.
Thankfully my alterations worked. As you can see though, my photos are less successful. I didn't manage to capture the top of my head in any of the photos.

I hope you have a great week! Happy Monday!