Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Making all the shorts - Simplicity 1887

Shorts were required and time was, well... short :) so I decided to give Simplicity 1887 a go having seen Emma's version (she's since made another awesome pair in Nano Iro).   I'm so glad that I read her sizing advice before I cut into my fabric. The pattern has a huge amount of ease and if I hadn't significantly sized down - I made the 8 when the measurements put me as a 12-14 - they would have ended up round my knees.

I ended up making three  pairs - a test pair in some lovely soft dark blue op-shop cotton and then two more constructed assembly-line in a cotton drill  from Spotlight and a rather bright vintage op-shop floral cotton.


Fabric choice does make a difference with these shorts. Because of the gathering and pleats, a softer fabric with some drape works much better. As a result the cotton drill pair are my least favourite - the stiffer fabric puffs out and the shorts look a bit like like big bloomers from the front despite my best attempts with the iron to get them to sit better. The back waistband gathering is also more obvious - giving them a bit of a boxer shorts vibe.  I'm a bit annoyed because I really like this fabric and had it earmarked for a par if Maritime shorts before I went crazy with this pattern so I may deconstruct them and see if I can make those instead. Or just wear a top pulled down over them which, let's face it it is the more likely thing to happen...

I like the floral pair more than I though I would, although they look best with a black (or maybe a stripy?) top and I only have one, ratty black rtw vest top in my wardrobe. Time to make some more! The blue ones go with everything and had lots of wear during our recent holiday in Thailand.

Construction of these shorts is quick - there is no zip or closures, just two channels for elastic. The most time consuming thing is feeding the elastic through.   I ignored the elastic length guide and just cut a longish length of elastic, pulled it through, pinned it in place at one end and adjusted it until the fit was right.  The waistband is wide and curved and supposed to sit just below your natural waist (I think I have it pulled up a bit too high in the above pics).They require a little bit of wriggling to get them over my hips but are super-comfy once on.

A note on elastic.  I ran out of the required width elastic but happened to have some wide underwear elastic from the op-shop on hand which was double the required width.  I ran it through my overlocker and then finished the edges of the cut peice with the overlocker sa well. Voila! new, correct-width elastic :)

Pattern: Simplicity 1887
Fabric: Drill (Spotlight), floral and blue cotton (opshop)
Sizing:  8, but cut the length of the size 12.
Adjustments: Used own elastic length

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Lovely linen layers - Tessuti Kate top


The Tessuti Kate top is a  fairly basic pattern but what attracted me (apart from the opportunity to enter the competition of course!) were the nice details: the mitred cornered hem and the keyhole fastening.   Keen eyed viewers will see that this top doesn't actually have a back fastening -  I decided that the layering and the side slit were enough and could get the top easily over my (small) head.

I did make another version in linen with contrast liberty binding with the keyhole fastening as you can see below and it's a lovely detail so it will definitely feature in future versions (of which there will be quite a few I think!). A note on the linen version - both the Liberty for the binding and linen came from a $5 scrap bag from the Phillips shirtmakers sale so it ended up being a very economical top!

For my second version I  couldn't get past the crisp, clean linen version on the front of the pattern and luckily had 1.5m of beautiful linen picked up as an end of the roll at a recent  Phillips fabric sale for the bargain price of $8 p/m.

I'd been hankering after a top like one that I'd seen on House of Lane's Instagram feed and thought that this pattern would work well (Spoiler: it did!)

I chose View B with the higher neckline. To get the layered effect, I cut two tops:  one as per the pattern but lengthened by 2cm at the 'lengthen here' line,  and a second one without the mitred corners shortened but following the hemline of the first top.  The hem falls just on the mitred corner detail of the undertop which can be seen through the linen as it is quite sheer.  The extra layer adds structure as well as making the top less opaque (good job because the only skin coloured bra that I own is really rather hideous).

A few adjustments were required.  I made the View B,  XXS with a 2cm FBA, slightly raised and lengthened the bust darts and added 2cm in length to the undertop.  The  FBA also added some width which I decided to leave, rather than take out of the side seams  as I wanted  it to be breezy and not too fitted.

I  constructed the tops separately as per the instructions up, sewing the overtop with a slightly smaller SA, until the the step of adding the binding.  The longer top was finished as per per in the instructions with the mitred hem, and the overtop with a narrow (1/4") double turned hem.

The two tops were then basted together at the neckline and armholes and finished with the binging as instructed.  I used the Tessuti turorial for applying the bias and it was a game changer.  Now I just want to add ALL THE BIAS.   Due to the thickness of having an extra fabric layer, I graded the top seam allowances as much as possible before under-stitching the binding.

The instructions for this top are great (pictures work really well for me as I'm a visual learner) and make for such a nice finish.

Glamming it up in the potato plants :)

Tessuti Kate Top - PDF download $10
Linen from  Phillips shirtmakers, Melbourne $8 p/m
Size: XXS
Adjustments: 2cm FBA

It's the prefect summer top!  And as evidenced by all the amazing entries for the competition, there are so many possibilities to customise it.  There will be more (in fact, I already have another one almost finished in Rayon!)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Ruby Sunset

Do you ever have those projects that just don't work out the way you envisaged?   This top started out as one of those - as an Inari T dress.  The black linen one has been a favourite so I thought a dresser print version in silk would be the go.     But... it just wasn't working. The 'stripes' on this beautiful silk (bought from Kinki Gerlinki a little while ago) were slightly off grain so they didn't match up at the side of the dress which I had so painstakingly cut on grain (doh!) and the dress was somehow too much, too shiny, just not right.

So, I changed tack and decided to make another Ruby top. The  silk one that I made earlier this year has been worn regularly. It's the perfect summer top really, with its floaty shape and cut away armholes, and great to wear with jeans.

Because I was working with already cut fabric pieces, plus a scant 75cm of fabric left over it was a bit of a challenge to get the Ruby pattern pieces to fit, especially as I didn't want to end up with a wide white stripe across my chest!  But with a little help from my social sewing buddies, it worked.  I ignored the grainline this time and just matched up the stripes which luckily does't seem to have affected the drape.

The 'right side' of the fabric which though beautifully vibrant, is also quite shiny so I decided to use the  matte side of the fabric instead which makes the top a bit more wearable for everyday.

To break up the paler colours near the neckline I used exposed binding - attaching to the wrong side, then flipping to the right side and topstitching.  Stitching a straight line, even with my beloved edge-stitch foot was a bit  tricky in this slippery silk, but it's passable.   I hand stitched the back facing and added a line of machine stitching to reinforce the split - I'm still deciding whether to go back and unpick this, but I don't want the split to rip. The top was hemmed using my rolled hem foot.

The button loop was made by plaiting three threads of overlocker chain together.  I watched the Tessuti tutorial on making a thread loop about 15 times and couldn't get it even though I've done it successfully before.  What's with that?   I must be getting old.

Pattern: Ruby Top by Tessuti
Size: 8 with a 5/8 inch FBA
Fabric: Silk from Kinki Gerlinki ($10 p/m)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Lounge pants or (Alexandria) peg trousers ?

I can't decide..

Got some  serious wrinkles going on here.. Probably some adjustments required - any ideas? 
Apologies for the creases -Mr 9 snapped these  pictures after I wore these for a day at work/bike ride home.  On a non sewing note - look how beautifully green the garden is  - the grapevine and the kiwifruit vine are going really well. 

These are the Alexandria peg trousers from Named. And yes, I do seem to be on a bit of a Named kick at the moment.  I was inspired to make these after Emma posted a very cool pair on Instagram (now blogged). I have one pair of very worn out, rtw black pants in my wardrobe and a few pairs of op-shop jeans so making pants has been very much on my mind.

The thing about pegged pants is that they go in  below the knee and my legs don't -  I have hyperactive calves, or something.  This makes fitting slim pants a bit tricky.  I measured the flat pattern and the size that fit my waist measurement was going to be 4cm (!) too small in the calf.
So I did a large calf adjustment  of sorts which involves adding width below the knee, mainly to the front pattern piece, and a little bit at the back. However, this  also adds width from the knee to the ankle, and therefore the pants didn't end up as fitted at the bottom as intended.

My first version (in op-shop rayon) were really baggy so I also took 4cm out of the back.  I also wasn't sure about the fully elasticated waist so this time only put elastic in the back waistband, attaching it by stitching in the ditch at the side seams.  I prefer the look of this from the front, although the waistband did end up a gaping a bit at the front so not a complete success.

The fabric is a mid-weight viscose from Darn Cheap fabrics with a slight texture. It feels great to wear but it shows all of the wrinkles and fitting flaws...

When I first finished these, I was a bit on the fence about them. This was partly due to the pockets (they had two back pockets but the placement was off because I forgot to adjust the position to account for the reduction at the CB) so I took one pocket off. I also added a leather 'drawstring',  a bit of a dodgy fix because I didn't want to unpick the waistband, but they now sit a bit higher  and it's sort of fixed the gaping.  

Verdict - not perfect but damn,  they are comfy and have been getting a fair bit of wear with a top that hides the waistband  - this is the Lou Box Top if you are interested.

Pattern: Named Alexandria Peg trousers
Size: 36
Adjustments: took 4m wedge out of the back, added 4cm large calf adjustment, only used elastic in the back waistband.
Fabric: Grey viscose from Darn Cheap fabrics - possibly $10 pm?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Same same but different - Kielo dress in rayon

There seems to be a bit of a trend happening in my last few blog posts - make a thing, and then make it again in a different fabric.  I should probably wait and write about the same things at once but I'm not that organised, and this dress does look different in a woven so I thought it might be with a few pictures.

This is the same size as my knit version ( I fully intended on tracing a new size but didn't get round to it in the end) so this is the 40 graded down to approximately size 36 by taking out some width in the 'wings".  The fit is completely different in the woven, as you would expect. I prefer it actually, and in this drapey rayon it still feels nice and fluid

The only changes I made to this version from the knit version were to shorten the ties by 10cm (they still go round my waist twice), and finish the neckline with bias tape.   I also removed 40cm from the length.

That's it, a quick and easy dress to sew, great for work and  I love it! I might still make the maxi version, just need to find the right fabric.

Pattern:  Kielo by Named patterns
Size: 36ish
Fabric: 2m of rayon from Spotlight ($20 in the sale)
Notions: op shop

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Is it a bat? No it's a Kielo wrap dress?

Look at all the different ways that this dress can be worn!

A. Looped round in front and tied at the back.
B. Tied loosely in front
C. Tied at the back
D. Like a bat (Halloween special)

MMSTL was holding out for option E. As he was taking  the photos he commented optimistically "you could probably tie it into a mini skirt right?"  Yeah. not happening.

I like Named patterns and have sewn a couple of their designs (Inari 1 and 2 ) and the Alexandria peg pants (still to be blogged). The Kielo wrap dress however didn't really do it for me when it was released but then you know how it goes; I saw Liz's great version, and Nic's and suddenly I came over all "I MUST SEW THIS PATTERN NOW!"

As my  favourite versions of these were made up in knits I followed suit and used a soft grey knit - possibly a wool blend-  from the stash that I picked up for $5p/m at Clear it, Melbourne.  Because of the width of the front pattern piece is so wide you need something fairly wide.

There are only three pattern pieces and a few seams so it's a super-simple sew.  I sewed it accordingly to the instructions using my regular sewing machine using a slight zig-zag stitch.

Due to my fabric choice I did hit a few snags. The instructions have you finish, turn and stitch the armholes and neckline.  I knew that this fabric would stretch but  I serious underestimated quite how much so my neckline ended stretching waaay out, even after stabilising it with some seam-a -seam. I unpicked and added added a band (which I cut 5cm shorter than the neckline circumference) so it's at least wearable now, but still too wide. 

The hem also caused me some headaches and despite being careful and using steam-a -seam, that stretched out too. Consequently it's a bit wonky but hopefully not too noticeable because of the way the dress falls.  If I make this is a knit again, I would chose something a bit more stable, handle the fabric more carefully or not bother hemming at all. 


  • Pattern: Named Keilo wrap dress
  • Size 38 ish. I traced this from a sewing friend and graded the pattern down by taking out 6cm from the total width. I've since bought the pattern so I'll make my actual size next time. 

  • Reinforced the shoulders with clear elastic. 
  • Obviously this is not a maxi - I cut it 40cm shorter,  The finished length is just below my knees.
  • Raised the armholes a little as they were too low
  • Used a band instead of turning and stitching the 
I like how simple, yet versatile this dress is. I'm going to try one in a drapey woven in the right size and take more care with the neckline.

As I was writing this post I just read that Named have released a free sleeves pattern for the dress.  A winter version might be on the cards!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Silk Kimono (from a free pattern/tutorial)

This kimono was made for Melbourne Frocktails - a totally winter-inappropriate top to go over my totally winter- inappropriate  dress. Fortunately it was  toasty warm at the event (especially after a few "seam ripper cocktails") so it didn't matter!

But now it is Spring and officially kimono weather - woo hoo! -  and this simple little cover-up has been getting a lot of wear. 

There's not much to say about the (free) pattern. It's basically some rectangles sewn together with french seams and finished with a narrow rolled hem.  The back pieces are slightly curved and the back is longer than the front.

The silk - a remnant from the Fabric store - was a bit of a beast to work with. It frayed and slipped and didn't want to play nice but I won in the end by just taking it slowly and using lots of fine pins.  I followed Julia's advice to set the sleeves in flat (I hemmed them first) which was good but I did struggle a bit with getting the french seams to look neat at the join when the side seams were sewn up. There's probably some ninja sewing technique to make french seams work in this scenario but I'm clearly yet to master it.

Apart from that - an enjoyable sew, and now I have  a lovely silk thing to  swish about in all summer. 

Pattern: Kimono from Elle Apparel (free, traced from Julia who has made a gorgeous yellow silk version)
Fabric: Silk remnant from The Fabric Store ($14)