Saturday, February 21, 2015

Large scale floral silk Ruby top

Top: Ruby (Tessuti pattern)
Shorts: Grainline Maritime
Shoes: Funkis
Bangle: opshop

I've been holding onto this precious remnant of Clegs digitally printed silk chiffon for just over a year. There was just enough for a tank top and when I saw the Tessuti Ruby pattern I thought it would be a good match for the large scale floral print.   I probably should have had a go at drafting my own pattern as it's  a very simple shape but well, I wanted to make it NOW and this was the easier option!

The top itself is an easy sew. I had actually made the dress version first (post to come) so had worked out the instructions but this silk was like butterfly wings so working with it was a bit tricky. I ended up doing a lot of hand sewing, including the rolled hem. No biggie- it seemed fitting for such special fabric.

  • Pattern: Ruby top/dress, Tessuti patterns, download ($10)
  • Size: 8 with an FBA (more info below)
  • Fabric: 80cm remnant of digitally printed silk from Clegs ($20 ish?), underlined with what I suspect is pale green silk cotton from the opshop ($3).

Innards - bit creased from wear


  • Did a 5/8 inch FBA using this tutorial (thanks to BloglessAnna for the link) 
  • Underlined the silk with silk cotton.  I tacked the underlining to the silk around the edges and then sewed the two layers as one.
  • Turned and hand stitched the bindings and the facing to the underlining rather than stitching in the ditch. 
  • Hemmed the underlining separately and slightly shorter than the silk using the machine.
  • Did a hand-rolled hem on the silk using this tutorial. 
What I learned
  • This was my first time working with silk this fine so I cut everything in a single layer, using a rotary cutter and lots of weights. 
  • Hand rolling a hem is a thing!  (and quite relaxing). I used my tailors ham to pin sections of the hem as I worked which made it easier. 
  • Followed the tutorial on the Tessuti website to make the thread loop.
I really like how it turned out and it feels lovely and floaty to wear.  The only downside,  as has been noted by a few other bloggers, is that this top is not bra friendly (I'm wearing a strapless one in the pics).

See also: Blogless Anna , Thornberry and Boo Dogg and me

Friday, January 30, 2015

Tomato bottling day

We interrupt this sewing feed to bring you some preserving goodness.   If you follow my Instagram feed then you'll know that there have been tomatoes a-plenty in the garden this year.  The plants are looking a bit sorry for themselves now but they have pumped out a good few kilos which we couldn't possibly eat before they went bad.  Freezing sauce would have been an option, but after the great fridge experiment of 2013 we decided to buy a much smaller, and much more energy efficient fridge/freezer which doesn't have enough space to store large quantities (We are a small family and having a smaller fridge works fine for us. I realise it would be more challenging with a bigger family or if you do a lot of cooking meals ahead of time).

So,  the alternative for us was  to use a Fowlers preserving unit to bottle the tomatoes.  We picked ours up at the local Trash and Treasure market. I know that some people are nervous of bottling tomatoes because they are lower in acid than most fruit which creates a slight risk for some bacteria growing in the jars.  However, we have never had an issues and as an extra insurance policy we put a few tsp of vinegar in each jar before adding the tomatoes; it's not enough to change the taste but it raises the acidity.

Bottling can be fun!  We set up a family production line:  MMSTL was on chopping duty,  LittleFB stuffed the jars and I did all the cleaning up :) After all the jars were filled - we did nine this time - they went into the Fowlers as per the timings and temperature settings outlined by Tanya.   The jars were then left to cool in the water and each jar checked for a proper seal before putting away in a cool dark place.

In a world where everything has to be quick and  convenient, it's nice to do something from scratch. We grew these organic tomato plants from seed, nurtured them, harvested the fruit and spent time to preserve its goodness.  When we open one of these in the depths of winter, it's will be like opening a jar of summer.

This quote from A Year in a Bottle by Sally Wise sums it up for me:

" So while preserving is beneficial from an economics and nutritional point of view, to capture the seasons in a bottle is about more than the simple preservation of food. It's about capturing a memory, the mood of a moment in time. It's about the thrill of the find - of the fruit and its flavour, the company of friends and the sharing of the produce and the end products." 


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Stripy Nettie dress

Shoes: Funkis
Hat: Op-shop
Necklace: Elk

Here's a new summer dress,  it's a Nettie dress with a few modifications.   I wanted this to be more of a day dress rather than a slinky going out number, so I cut a few sizes bigger, lengthened the skirt and raised the neckline a bit. Turns out that this fabric  from Clear It in Melbourne, which comes in a number of colourways, has been very popular and has either already been made into some fabulous creations or is residing in  the stash of many Melbourne bloggers so expect to see it pop up again!  

  • Pattern: Nettie by Closet Case files
  • Size: 8. Going by the pattern, my measurements put me as a size 4, but this pattern is drafted with negative ease and I wanted a slightly looser fit.  I think I used about 1m of 160cm wide fabric. 
  • Fabric:  Double -sided knit from Clear It, $5 pm. Soft, stable fabric, easy to sew and lovely to wear.  I used the 'wrong' side of the fabric for the sleeves and neckband for a bit of interest (and also because that meant less stripe matching!). 

  • Added 2cm to both the front and back neckline and rounded off the curve a little bit with my french curve so that it was less square. 
  • Added 6cm to the length of the skirt by slashing the skirt pattern piece and adding in the extra. 
  • Used a 1/4 inch seam allowance instead of 3/8 inch.
  • Cut the neckband  slightly wider. 
  • I contemplated adding a contrast pocket in  leather but decided that the dress would be easier to accessorise without. 
Stripe matching and cat photobomber
What I learnt from this project
  • I've already made the Nettie bodysuit so it was a pretty easy project. The hardest part was cutting out and matching the stripes. 
  • On stripe matching,  I think I did a pretty good job - it's not perfect but good enough.   I pinned every other stripe, based using my walking foot on my sewing machine and then used the overlocker to sew the seams.  The hem and sleeves were finished with a twin needle. 
  • I still need to add some bra strap holders like I did in my last Nettie. Even though the neckline is higher, it still slips off my shoulders, perhaps I need to bring the neckline in a bit if I make this again. 

I think this will be a great summer staple.  Even though it is form-fitting it still feels comfy and casual enough to wear during the day,  and the neckline makes it a little bit different from a regular T shirt dress. Thanks to Alison for taking the pictures :)


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Alder...doo doo doo, push pineapples, grind coffee

Sorry, that blog title was corny but I grew up listening to bad 80's music and this song by Black lace was in my head a lot when I was making  this dress.   I blame someone on Instagram.

So, as you probably already know pineapples are everywhere. They even have their own hashtags: #pineapplesaresohotrightnow and  #pineapplesaretotallyathing !

Clearly this pineapple dress is fun to  wear.

Buttoned up all the way.  I'm not hipster enough to wear it like this but anyway...
Why? who knows,  but that was one bandwagon that I was more than happy to jump on when I saw this chambray in darn cheap. I thought a simple, modern shape would suit the fairly ridiculous fabric so went with the Alder after enjoying making my first version so much. Sometimes you have got to have a little fun with sewing, right?

Double pineapples, oooh yeah. 

I'm pretty happy with the collar :) 
  • Pattern: Grainline Alder, size 4 with fitting mods (see below) 
  • Fabric: I squeezed this out of 1.5m of 140cm wide chambray from Darn Cheap ($15 pm) 
  • Topstitching was done in a regular mustard yellow Gutterman thread.  
  • I used a fairly lightweight woven interfacing (also from Darn Cheap ) for the collar and button band.
  • Buttons were a slightly mismatched selection from the op-shop which actually look almost the same when stitched on.

Changes to the pattern/method
  • 1 inch full bust adjustment using Jen's tutorial.  This did work, although I ended up with some extra width in the waist and a little bit of extra length which forgot to add onto the button band so I had to do some creative hem trimming. 
  • Finished the hem with navy bias tape to retain as much length as possible.  I used self-fabric bias for the armholes as per Jen's instructions and they came out really nicely.  It's really worth those extra steps of trimming and understitching. 
  • My buttonhole attachment threw a tanty and kept chewing up the button holes so I lightly  ironed on a little scrap of fusible interfacing before making each one and then tore it off afterwards which seemed to do the trick. 
  • I used glue stick to anchor the  bottom of the collar seam allowance down when top-stitching and it worked well. 
  • All buttons were sewn on by machine.  Why oh why have I not done this before?!!
Changes for next time
  • I should have added some length. It's just about OK when worn loose but it's shorty-short short when belted.  
  • Add the extra length to the button band after doing the FBA!

Pineapples, chambray what's not to like?  Seriously though this is another great summer dress, although perhaps I prefer the shape of the bum-ruffle version a little more?  This is a little shapeless, although could be worn belted and perhaps even wearable with tights and boots in the autumn/ winter.  It would certainly  cheer up a dull winter day!

I'll leave you with this.

Happy New Year!!  Pineapple flash mob anyone?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Alder number 1. I've joined #teambumruffle

I look like an Amazon here.  It's all down to the photography angle!
Every now and again I make something that makes me feel like my sewing has improved, like I've taken a bit of a leap in understanding garment construction and being able to finish things nicely. Making this Alder, largely thanks to Jen's excellent sewalong, was one of those times.   I  enjoyed every minute of the process (well perhaps not when I sewed the collar on backwards) and found the step-by-step visuals really helpful in tacking unfamilar-to-me elements like collars and button stands. I especially liked the burrito method for finishing the yoke  which gives a lovely neat finish.

I used the edge-stitch foot on my Bernina 730 Record for a lot of the sewing: attaching the pockets, the bias binding and all the topstitching.  It really made a difference to get nice straight lines.

Bit of wrinkling here - FBA required

Go the bum-ruffle!
  • Pattern: Alder shirtdress, by Grainline, version B 
  • Size: 4 which corresponded to my full bust and waist measurement. My hip measurement falls into the smaller size but I figured that with this design  it wouldn't really matter.
  • Fabric - soft cotton with a slight twill texture from the op shop. 
Challenges/what I learnt from this project
  • Collars are fun!  Although  I did attach it backwards the first time, but I think using Jen's method gave a great result.
  • Take more care with turning up the right seam allowance when attaching the bottom part f the yoke as it was tricky to catch the seam properly (I used a glue stick in the next version and it worked a charm!)
  • Measure the pockets carefully or you will end up with wonky pockets. Ask me how I know. 
  • Finishing the square seam was a bit tricky - I just used the overlocker- but there is a tutorial on Jen's blog about how to french seam which might be nice in a silk. 
  • None to the pattern sizing, but  as I was making it I panicked that the top part might not fit so I sewed a smaller seam allowance at the bust, which of course resulted in bigger armholes (duh!).  JUST DO AN FBA HELEN! 
  • I finished the armholes and hem with mint green bias tape. 
  • I changed the button spacing so that one was centred at my bust to minimise gaping and then measured from there.  
Changes for next time 
  • Do a full bust adjustment!   I really should have done one as you can see some pulling at the shoulder but it's not too noticeable. 
  • Maybe add length?  It's pretty short at the sides but I think the dipped hem at the back makes it OK. And it's summer right?  So maybe leave as is.   Probably shouldn't have bothered with that last dot point. 
I Love LOVE this dress. It's perfect for Melbourne's hot summer. I wasn't sure how I would feel about the bum ruffle but it adds some shape to the dress and feels kind of fun, although perhaps a little risky to wear on a windy day! I've already made Version A in some crazy pineapple fabric - they are addictive!  A big thanks to Nic for the photos and for choosing especially flattering angles :)

See also

Monday, December 8, 2014

Gabriola, Nettie and a reminder of why sewing with poly charmeuse is a bad idea.

Helloooooo there. Where did the last two months go? One of them was spent immersed in Sewvember.  Fun times. And then there has been gardening, work, helping building a tiny house and also sewing. Lots of sewing actually, mainly on my new (old) Bernina 730 record.  I'll do a dedicated post on her soon because she's worth it.

This Nettie top and Gabriola skirt  were not made on the Bernina. Maybe she would have made an easier job of sewing with the slippery poly skirt fabric but I'm not sure.  It was hard going, but I do love the result - I feel all swishy, floaty and glamorous in this get up.  Actually the first time I wore this out I got an unsolicited " ooh I love your skirt, where did you get it from?" comment. And not from my partner either which has got to be a good thing right?

I'm definitely  not the pear shape that Sewaholic designs for but I think this skirt has unique design lines that I haven't seen in any other patterns so I thought I'd have a go at grading between sizes.  I cut a 6 at the waist, grading to a 0 at the hips for the first yolk piece and then just graded the other yoke and skirt pieces to match. It worked pretty well I think.  The waist turned out to be too big but I think that was due to to the fabric stretching out rather than the pattern measurements. It's still a bit too big (you can see it dipping down at the back in some of the pics) but wearable.

I fell in love with this fabric at Darn Cheap Fabrics. The rational part of my sewing brain was yelling "Nooooooo, slippery poly. Don't do it!!!" but the pretty fabric part was saying 'oooh, silky... you must be a Gabriola immediately"  Guess which side won? Be warned: this skirt is a fabric eater . Usually I make do with 1.5 - 2m but I used almost 3m of 140cm wide fabric for this skirt.
Very bad side seam matching.   
So of course cutting and sewing this fabric was a nightmare.  It just slid off the table at any opportunity, refused to take a press, stretched out along the bias and laddered when I was sewing it *sigh*. It's a miracle that despite using a walking foot, and stay-stitching, I managed to get any of the seams lined up at all (I failed at the sides) or get a zip in.  It's far from perfect, but the print hides a lot  of the sewing sins.I couldn't face hemming it so I just used my overlocker to roll the hem. It's fraying a bit but is doing the job.

Better job at the front

I've not got a lot to say about the top that hasn't already been said on the interwebs - it's the Nettie bodysuit from closet case files. I made the size 6 with the medium scoop back and scoop front in some 'dry knit' from super cheap fabrics. It's stretchy stuff which works well for this top.  I haven't actually finished it properly - I wanted to see whether I could cope with a bodysuit before adding the snaps so it's just tacked together at the crotch at the moment. You see, I did the whole bodysuit thing in the early 90's and wasn't sure I wanted to go there again but I'm somewhat surprisingly rather liking the clean lines under this skirt. I just won't be pairing it with acid washed jeans.

Despite loving the scoop of the back, and the cut being just perfect for hiding my back bra strap, I found that it was constantly falling off my shoulders so I added some bra holders as suggested by Cut Cut Sew and now it's great - no bra flashing at all.  I must make a few more of these. So quick and easy, whizzed up on the overlocker in about an hour.


Skirt: Sewaholic Gabriola.   Pattern from Sew Squirrel $15
Fabric: 3m of poly from  Darn cheap fabrics $30

Top: Nettie body suit, size. $10. Fabric: 1m of 'dry knit' from super cheap fabrics $4
Notions from op-shop stash

Saturday, October 11, 2014

FunkBUNNY goes hop hop hop

Funkbunny... hop hop... geddit?  I was approached by two Melbourne sewing  friends for this one: Nic who writes at The Somnolent Dachshund and Sarah from Sew Squirrel.  For those of you who don't know her, Nic is a Melbourne sewist whom,  amongst other things makes me want to sew cool Japanese patterns, drape things on the bias and own a dachshund.  I'm still convincing MMSTL about that last one. Sarah is a purveyor of fine patterns and aspiring eco-house owner.   I always have the best time hanging out with these ladies so thanks for the nominations.

Why do you write? 

I've had my blog since 2009. It started out about as a way to document my gardening and cooking adventures and share them with my family who live in the UK.  In 2011 my neighbour gave me a bag of fabric scraps from her cushion making business and it renewed my interest in sewing. I used to sew with my Mum as a teenager - remember that patchwork denim jacket Mum?  Actually, maybe it's best forgotten.

My blog has changed to reflect my sewing interest  a lot more and at one point I stopped blogging for while when I wasn't sure whether Funkbunny's garden was still quite the right platform.  I  considered starting a separate blog  but decided against it in the end - it seems that people who garden quite like to read about sewing and vice versa.  At the end of the day it's just a way to share all my creative pursuits with my family and friends. In case you were interested, Mum likes the sewing posts and my Dad prefers the gardening ones.  Sorry Dad, I really should do a few more more garden posts!

It's also been a fantastic way to connect with the online and Melbourne sewing community; something I never anticipated when I started blogging.  I'm naturally a very social, chatty person who likes to be around lots of other people (ENTJ alert) so having the opportunity to regularly meet up with like-minded others is one of my favourite things to do.  The Social Sewing, Sewaway and Frocktails events that have all started up in the last year or so have been an unexpected and lovely aspect of this hobby. Like Oanh, I look forward to Social Sewing every month and get a bit grumpy if I can't go (although I think I have only missed two and I was overseas both times. Dedication hey?!)

Connecting with other sewing peeps in real life also changed my mind about being anonymous on the Internet.  When I first started blogging I was either headless, blurry or artfully hidden behind the camera but seeing as so much of my inspiration comes from real people with heads, I decided to brave it. Turns out,  rather like making buttonholes, it wasn't too bad.

I like to look back over my posts- both gardening and sewing - to see progress.  It's satisfying to see the evolution of both the garden and my sewing.  I realise that I still have a lot to learn in both areas but it's nice to know that progress has been made and that I'm capable of learning new skills.

What are you working on?

I'm actually in a bit of a sewing rut at the moment.  The last two items that I made were the Sewaholic Gabriola skirt and Nettie top which I must get round to blogging.  The skirt was a bit of a frustrating project (entirely due to fabric choice) so I think I'm still recovering.  I'm sure my sewjo will return soon though and next up are a Bellatrix blazer, after trying on both of Rachel's immaculately made versions,  and pants of some description.

Proof that I made a pant pattern, from Instagram.  Did I mention that I like Instagram?
I've never made pants before but I took a pattern drafting class at the CAE last year where we developed blocks for a bodice and pants and I really loved it.  It  gave me the confidence to alter and adjust existing patterns, which I have been doing,  but haven't really used my blocks yet so I would like to spend some time playing with those over the summer to make the perfect pants!  

I also need to get some sewing happening for (not so) LittleFB. At eight, he is growing like a weed and needs new summer clothes.  At the moment he's quite happy to wear things that I make for him, (although I realise that this will probably change very soon) and I'm happy that he's wearing ethically produced clothes!

How does it differ from others of it’s genre? 
Not even a vegetable - a fruit!

I don't really think it does, other than it has a bit of an emphasis on sewing with recycled fabric and features the occasional vegetable but that's OK. I'm not really trying to be different, just to have a bit of fun and connect with anyone who might be interested.

How does your writing process work?

I actually find writing quite challenging. I'm a visual, pictures, arm-waving, draw a diagram sort of person so the blog is a way to practice and to try and find my voice. Sometimes I compose blog posts in my head as I cycle to work. In fact I have all sorts of conversations in my head as I ride to work.  Is this normal commuting behaviour?  Whatever. It works for me!

I'm not very good at taking pictures during the sewing process as I tend to sew in a bit of a frenzy and forget so I usually end  up roping in someone to take pictures after the event.  My friend Ines who blogs at Humble Habit takes especially nice photos so it's always good when I can beg a photoshoot with her. It's possibly time to invest in a decent camera and tripod though. Anyone have a recommendation?

Finally, even though these following  questions are not part of the blog hop I thought it might be fun to share:

Where does the name of your blog come from?

Many moons ago  I lived in Scotland and dated a drummer in a funk band.  They all had crazy stage names and seeing that I went to most of their gigs and they didn't want me to feel left out,  gave me an honorary 'funk name' - Funkbunny. 

What does MMSTL stand for? 

MMSTL is my partner and it stands for mild mannered Sam the lawyer.  He's actually not a lawyer (used to be, gave it up to be an academic/writer/sustainability advocate) and he's more gentle and kind than mild mannered, but there you go. 

OK then. Time to pass it on. I'm nominating Winnie at What would maude wear. She's a friend, has been sewing for yonks  but is relatively new to blogging. She writes for a living and makes all the patterns  in the best fabrics. I'm also nominating Nicola at Woes and wins. Nicola is a talented quilter and has started to make some gorgeous clothes recently too.  I had the pleasure of spending time with her at Sewaway (we were roomies) and I can also attest to her excellent coffee making abilities. Over to you ladies!