Saturday, July 18, 2015

Sydney Jacket #2 and a Renfrew/Nettie mash up

Hello!  I'm writing this snuggled up on the couch in front of our wood burner which a pretty nice place to be on this cold evening. I realise that 'cold' is relative - the temperature is due to drop to 1C tonight- which is nothing to some of you in the Northern hemisphere, or even in parts of Australia. When I lived in Maine, northern USA we used to have really cold winters. When I was there in 2003 in February the minimum temps were around -25C and it stayed well below 0C during the day so when it started to get warmer  (above freezing!) it felt quite warm. In fact I remember one day in Spring where there was still snow on the ground and I saw some students in shorts and T shirts having a BBQ in their front yard.  So, yes, it's all relative!

Anyway, I digress.  Here are some more winter appropriate garments - another Tessuti Sydney Jacket and a dress made with the top of the Sewaholic Renfrew and the skirt of Nettie by Closet case files.

Stripe matching wiiiiiiinn!

This 'Rettie' (sounds rather too much like an indigestion tablet?) is a  'mash up' of the Renfrew and Nettie. Well when I say 'mash up'  I just measured roughly where my waist hit, laid the skirt pattern pieces over and blended the lines.    I had to add more at the waist to the back of the skirt than the front and the fit isn't perfect (you can see some wrinkling where the dress is pulling a bit on my hips). The fabric was a wool remnant from Clear it and is super warm and snugly.  The dress ended up bit on the short side due to fabric restrictions but I'm only going to wear it in the winter with tights or leggings anyway so whatever :)

I am chuffed with my stripe matching  at the side seams-  thanks to lots of pins and a walking foot - but I'm not 100% happy with the hem.  Despite using steam a seam it still stretched out and you can that see the dress 'kicks' out a bit at the bottom. I tried streaming it back into shape but to no avail.  Adding a band might have worked  - and would have helped with the length issue -  but I didn't have any fabric left (that cowl is hungry for fabric). Any other suggestions as to how I might fix it?  Size wise, I cut the 6 Renfrew, and the 8 Nettie with a bit of grading to get the pattern pieces to fit. I also added some length - although I can't now remember quite how much. Must get into better note-taking habits while sewing,

I made the XS this time despite the petite fitting well for my other version.  There were a few reasons for this:  the boiled wool had no stretch compared to the pink wool; I wanted this to be extra blanket-y and with longer arms.  I'm pretty happy with the size actually.

The fabric is the same gifted boiled wool that I used for my Simplicity 1366 zippy top. It's soft, warm but also light - perfect for this jacket. The only problem is that it is a total lint magnet and I spend a lot of time picking off cat hair.....

I think I might be done with winter sewing for now - time to start dreaming of Spring!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Simplicity 1366 as a layering piece & Libby skirt


This pattern has been doing the rounds for a while now.  It's shown on the pattern envelope in a silky woven so naturally I made it in boiled wool :)

It works though - the loose dropped shoulder silhouette makes it perfect for layering over long sleeved merino tops or a white shirt and I've been wearing it a lot this winter.  Nothing like having a layer of warm wool over your body to keep you toasty.   I made the size 8 after reading reviews that it was pretty oversized and it's fine.

To add a bit of interest to the basic black I put in an upside down exposed zip at the back the instructions from Megan Nielsen's Brumby skirt.  I'm unlikely to wear it open so it's more of a 'design feature'.  The edges and neckline were finished with bias and the sleeve hems were left raw.

The skirt is the Tessuti A line Libby skirt (free pattern) . It's a total copy-cat version from their website which should have been an easy sew but I managed to make waaay to big first time round (I made a 12) but did not realise this until I had sewn the whole thing up and had to unpick it all. I ended up taking about 3- 4cm out of the waistline at the side seam and darts so should have made the 8 *sigh*.   The fabric is from Spotlight  and was a bargain $11 p/m in the sale, pretty good considering that Tessuti had some identically printed fabric available a while ago and at rather higher prices (although probably better quality).

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Go anywhere dress - the knit edition, plus a couple of Stylearc Harpers

As I mentioned last time, I'm behind in blogging so it's a three for one special today - the Go Anywhere dress, this time in a soft double knit and two versions of the StyleArc Harper jacket.

Bit wrinkly mainly due to the fact that I'm standing  a bit funny (again...)
The dress
I've made the dress before in a stretch sateen - it was my Melbourne Frocktails dress and I've worn it heaps. In need of another warm knit dress for work, I thought this pattern might work.  Most of my work knit dresses are 'fit and flare' like the lady skater and Moneta so this makes a nice change. Size wise I made the same as before rather than sizing down for the knit as I didn't want it to be super fitted. I did end up  taking some excess out of the top of the princess seams though.

I originally made it with full length sleeves and it looked seriously dowdy.  Fortunately as this was another Sewaway creation,  there was someone on hand to give the sleeves the chop.  Funny how a small change can  make a big difference.  Oh, I also managed to sew one of the sleeves in back to front - and they have elbow darts so there was no getting away with that one.


  • Dress: Go anywhere dress by Sewn Square One patterns.  I'm not sure this pattern company has made any patterns since 2014 judging by their website, and most of them aren't my style but this is a winner for me. I've already started making version 3!
  • Size: Small
  • Fabric: Double knit from Clear it, $5 p/m


  • Took out 3cm from the upper chest and 2cm from the hips (easy to do with the Princess seams)
  • Finished all seams with the overlocker.
  • Did a band neckline like you would on a t shirt, folded  to the inside and twin stitched.
  • Three quarter sleeves using the "chop them off where they look right" method.
  • No zip required, although I kept the back panels to add interest.

Things to change for next time
  • Long sleeves looked all sorts of wrong on this colour/shape dress.  
  • I did contemplate top stitching all the seams but didn't want to risk stretching then out. 

A work-dress winner.  It does need a slip underneath to keep things looking smooth and stop clinging tights but it's easy to throw on.   It does need a necklace - without it it feels a little bit star trek :) 

The Cardis/jackets
The Harper jackets are more like cardigans as they are both made up in fairly drapey knots - a black merino looped back one which was a lucky tip hop find - over 10m of quality merino for $20, total bargain. The grey stripey/ spotty knit was also an opshop find - the same fabric I used for my drop waist skater hack.  Because of the way the collar falls on this pattern, it's best to use a knot that looks good on  both sides.  This was my first time working with Style Arc patterns and I liked it - I got the printed pattern which only comes in one size, but given that it was such a drapey style I thought that it wasn't too much of a gamble.  The instructions are brief but there are plenty of markings and the pattern  was well drafted.

The only thing that is a bit strange (and this has already been pointed out on a few blogs) is that instructions tell you to do a french seam on the back collar.  I kind of understand this  because the collar can be worn flipped back, but an overlocked seam would have been fine.  I didn't finish the edges but if I get any serious unravelling I might go back and do a rolled hem round the collar and hem.

StyleArc Harper jacket
Size: 8
Fabric: Merino fleece and double knit

I left off the hook and eye but actually I might go back and sew on a snap because the cardi/jacket looks pretty good closed as well as open.
All edges apart from the cuffs were left unfinished.

Super quick to whip up and I've already worn both these lots of times which is a good sign!

Monday, July 6, 2015

A splash of winter colour - Grainline Morris blazer

I'm waaaay behind blogging my finished objects, many of which were completed over the Queen's birthday holiday during sewaway - a fabulous break at Mill Rose where a group of us sewed, ate, drank, slept and sewed some more.  Bliss.

First up is a Grainline Morris blazer in stretch sateen.  This was the 'people's choice' pattern  at Sewaway when I put it to the vote as to what to make from 1.5m of this cheery stretch sateen that I picked up in super cheap fabrics for $6 p/m.  Why did I only buy 1.5m?  Who knows?, but it certainly made for some serious pattern tetris  when it was suggested that I try and get not only the jacket but a front panel of a shift dress out of the fabric as well.  With some advice from the pattern tetris experts Liz and Rachel I managed it, with only a few scraps to spare!

I've made this blazer before in black ponte and liked it, but found the shoulders a touch too wide so for this version I did a narrow shoulder adjustment.  In this stretch woven the whole blazer definitely sits differently and is a bit more of a snug fit so I'll probably get more wear out of it in the Spring/Summer with a light layer underneath (I'm currently rugged up in 3 layers of wool!).  The plus of making it in a sateen is that it doesn't have the sagging lapels issue that the ponte version does.  I kept the length the same as the  pattern but lengthened the sleeves by adding a cuff. This was partly due to fabric limitations but I also liked the idea of being able to roll them up and see a contrasting colour.

Forgot to take a pic of the blazer on with the cuffs rolled up, but here they are..


  • Pattern:  Grainline Morris Blazer
  • Size: 4
  • Fabric:  Sateen with a bit of stretch.  I squeezed the blazer out of quite a bit less than 1.5m.  Cuff fabric, textured poly from Darn Cheap. 

  • Added a 9cm cuff with a contrast fabric on one side.  To do this I just cut two rectangles the same width as the bottom of the sleeve, taping slightly towards the wrist, added seam allowances and sewed them like you would a waistband on a skirt. 
  • 2cm narrow shoulder adjustment using this tutorial.
Things learnt

  • I think that I could have done a slightly smaller adjustment on the shoulder - they feel a smidge too tight now.  
  • The sleeves didn't go in particularly well - there's too much gathering.  It's quite possible that  I stuffed up when I did the shoulder adjustment.  I'm pretty sure that I didn't alter either the armscye or the length of the sleeve curve, but I couldn't get them to go in nicely, despite a few attempts. Thankfully it's not all that noticeable in the busy print.
  • Buy more than 1.5m of fabric when it's nice quality and $6p/m.  Duh. 

This is a fun jacket that I think will get decent wear both for work and play.  It works well with a white tank and jeans and would also be cool with a stripy dress (might have to try it with my Nettie dress).

See also: Little Betty (I was clearly inspired by her version), Sew Busy Lizzy, Carly in Stitches

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Finished - Brumby Skirt (Megan Nielsen patterns)

Top: Mission maxi tank, Necklace: Elk, Shoes: opshop

So apparently I've been on a mission to make all the pink things.  Although I did actually finish this skirt as a pattern tester for Megan way back in January.  I signed up (along with most of Melbourne it seems!)  with the intention of making it in denim but somewhere along the way decided that a midi in this vibrant viscose would be the way to go.

As a tester I did receive the pattern for free, as well as one of Megan's Maker Tees as a thank you - such a nice touch :).  The pattern envelope has been redesigned and all the finished measurements are printed on the back which is great - takes the guesswork out of how much ease is going on.


  • Pattern: Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt
  • Size: my measurements fell between the XS and the S, and talking to other testers and finding out that the test version ran a little large, I cut the XS and did a smaller (1cm) seam allowance. This sizing may have been adjusted slightly in the final version though. For reference my waist is 27 inches.
  • Version: 2, midi length with pockets. There is also a shorter version with less gathering for thicker fabrics (like denim) and a knee length version with no pockets.
  • Fabric: Viscose from Darn Cheap fabrics from the $2m table

Changes made

  • As I was testing I didn't make any changes apart from the sewing the waistband with a slightly smaller SA  and  due to the slippery nature of my fabric I elected to use an invisible zip instead of an exposed zip.
  • I also chose to  hand-stitch the waistband facing down rather than top stitching.

Things learned

  • This was a nice easy sew, especially as I decided not to do the exposed zip due to the light fabric.  I did recently use the instructions for the exposed zip in a top and they worked perfectly.  I've tried (and failed) to get this type of zip insertion before so it was great to have some clear instructions. I'll definitely be using them again!
  • Because my fabric was quite thin I gathered using the basting method but it was good to have details of an alternative method (using string)  if using thicker fabric.  Dental floss would have worked too.
  • The waistband 'walked' bit when I put in the zip - my fault for forgetting to stabilise this area (which the instructions do tell you to do!). 
  • The waistband is a little bit wrinkly- the soft fabric doesn't have quite enough structure-  so I probably should have used slightly stiffer interfacing.
  • The pockets on the test version were a little shallow but I think this may have been rectified in the final version.  In this softer fabric they hang out a little which I actually rather like the look of.


I thought that this skirt might feel a bit 90's but it got a lot of wear over the summer with a white tank and I've also worn it a few times with boots and a long sleeved top.  Got to love a trans-seasonal garment! The wide, curved waistband is really comfy and with the lighter fabric if feels like there is just about the right amount of gathering - floaty and full without being pouffy.

The pattern is now available in print and PDF format.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Tessuti Sydney jacket: so good it made me start blogging again

Temperatures dropped suddenly and rather unseasonably in Melbourne last week and I've wanted to sew All The Warm Wool Things which has meant pulling the wool out of my stash. Between the op shop, generous friends sharing their relatives' stashes and the odd random fabric purchase  I realised that I actually have quite a few pieces of boiled wool.  I previously thought that boiled wool equalled traditional coats and I don't actually wear coats all that often.  When I'm going from A to B I tend to ride my bike and therefore wear a waterproof Gortex jacket (and unlike  Jenny I'm not up to making my own !). So, I was a bit stumped as to what to make.

Shoulder dart 
But then Tessuti released their Sydney jacket pattern and now all that boiled wool has a perfect purpose! I downloaded and printed the pattern on Wednesday, taped it and cut out the fabric on Wednesday night and sewed it up in a few bursts on Thursday night and Friday morning, so a pretty quick project.  The colour is really hard to capture - it's less pink than in these pictures, but still a lovely rich raspberry colour - so nice for dreary winter days!

Pocket - yes, my stitching could probably be neater :)

  • Size: My measurements were just slightly bigger than the petite sizing so I made that, but cut the XS length  (my fabric had some stretch in it) 
  • Fabric: Mystery boiled/felted raspberry coloured wool from super cheap fabrics in Brunswick. It has some stretch in it but is definitely mostly wool and it was only $10p/m. I cut a piece and pulled at the edges and it didn't fray so I hoped it would work! Time will tell I guess...
  • My fabric was 1.50m wide and I did use around 1.85m - although I probably could have been more careful with my cutting. 
  • There are no seam finishes so I sewed the whole thing up on my Bernina.  Some of the seams were a bit bulky but it was no problem. 
Marking and overlapping the seams

Things learnt
  • The instructions were really clear and I didn't have any real issues with any of the steps.
  • Accurate cutting is important as there are no seam finishes - I used my rotary cutter - although you can trim the seams after sewing if they are a bit wonky.
  • I've never sewn overlapping seams before and although it's not difficult - accurate sewing is important to ensure that the seams look neat and even on both sides.   I marked the 3/8" seam line on both pieces and then overlapped and sewed int he middle, moving my needle position to the correct place and  using my presser foot edge as a guide. 
  • Sewing wrong sides together for most of the construction is counter-intuitive so remember to mark the right and wrong sides of your fabric. 
  • The shoulder dart has to be cut out and overlapped. This was a bit tricky to catch both pieces of fabric at the tip of the dart.
Changes for next time
Even though the fit is good - it's supposed to be an oversized garment- I think I need slightly more room in the arms - it feels a little tight when I move my arm up, and the sleeves pull up a little so I think I might size up, and definitely add some length in the arm too.

I absolutely love it!  There was some discussion on Instagram that winter coats with short sleeves are a bit pointless but I see this more as a layering, cardigan-type piece  rather than a coat.  Mind you, I bumped into my neighbours this morning - she was wearing some crochet hand warmers and I was wearing this and her husband was quite puzzled by our joint desire to make 'incomplete garments' :)

Will there be more?  Well with a few more pieces of boiled wool in the stash I think so!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Items I've forgotten to blog #1: Ruby dress

I made this before my silk Ruby top and then forgot to blog about it.

Nic, who took these pics said that I had to have a 'prop', hence the wine.  Not that I took much persuading...

Anyway,  I thought I'd better get in quick before  the warm weather is completely over in Melbourne and looking at pictures of bare legs is just plain wrong.  Although having said that, at Easter we are off for a couple of weeks on a trip up the East coast and driving from Sydney to Brisbane so maybe there's still a chance to wear it.

Side view, not the most flattering but good for eating big dinners

Wrinkly (my elbows and the neckline!)
There's not an awful lot more to add about the dress version except to note that I had a lot of trouble with the neck binding in this fabric (a lovely but very mobile viscose remnant from the Fabric warehouse in NZ).  I used the method suggested by Lara, of turning and top-stitching rather than stitching in the ditch but despite several attempts I got a lot of wrinkling at the neck.  I'm calling it a design feature.   Any ideas how to stop this happening in the future?

This pattern definitely needs fabric with good drape and viscose feels lovely to wear so even though this dress is a bit of a bewb tent, and not my best sewing it was a godsend in the hot weather.

I used a small piece of hat elastic for the thread loop and an opshop button and finished the arm bindings by hand. And no, I'm not sure why I have hat elastic in my stash either.

Pattern: Ruby Dress, Tessuti PDF download (made before), size 8 with an FBA as for my Ruby Top.
Fabric: 1m of viscose from the Fabric Warehouse in Wellington, NZ (NZ$5)
Necklace: Elk
Shoes: Swedish Hasbeens