Saturday, July 12, 2014

Don't stand too close to the heater: pleather skirt (Burda 8155) plus Butterick 5528 cardi and Mission maxi tank top

A triple today!    The skirt was sewn up on a bit of a whim.  There isn't much  call for pleather skirts in my life, but I had a remnant from the Clegs sale last year and well, you know how it goes. I thought I'd have a play.   The pattern is Burda 8155  a pencil skirt designed for wovens,  but as the pleather was very stretchy it didn't need a zip so I  used ponte scraps and the waistband from the Mabel skirt instead. The skirt isn't quite as shiny as it looks in the pictures and feels quite nice on, even if it does make a rather 'swishy' noise when walking or sitting!

The pleather was surprisingly easy to sew with when I was sewing on the non pleather side. Not so much when  I tried to sew the other side for hemming the split.  Even with a Teflon foot and grease-proof paper it  was pretty ugly so I hand sewed the split, decided against hemming the skirt, and with Oanh's help (I love her attention to detail) cut it to the right length.

I'm a little undecided about the final result.  It's a bit wrinkly (pleather is NOT easy to iron!) and rather unforgiving but possibly wearable with an oversized cardie or sweater? 

Like, ta-da!, this grey cardigan:  Butterick 5528, View D  in a mystery grey wool- blend knit from the stash, made up in XS.I found the  instructions a bit strange and they seemed to do things in a different order than I would have done, and in a way that made it difficult to use the overlocker for construction. While I like the whole drapey cardie thing, I'm not totally feeling this pattern on me; the sleeves feel too wide. I actually ended up taking some extra volume out of the sleeves and adding cuffs but they are still a bit big- maybe it's the raglan style. I tried on Nic's Swoon cardigan and liked that much better so I might have a go at that one.

The white tank is the Mission maxi pattern, which  I love,  made up in some nice thick op-shop cotton knit. So quick and easy. I made this one at Sewaway in about 45 mins and when the weather warms up (Brrrrrr, Melbourne)  I think be wearing this a lot.

Thanks to Nic for  taking the pictures which,  as you can see, we took very seriously :)  She kept telling me to channel my inner rock chick. Ha ha ha.

The deets
Skirt: Burda 8155, used before = free. Fabric, remnant from Clegs, $12
Cardi: pattern Butterick 5528, on sale ($3.50?). 1.5m of great knit, $6  from Spotlight eons ago
Top: mission maxi pattern Used before = free. Fabric, $2 op-shop jersey

Outfit total =  $23.50

Monday, June 23, 2014

Oh Deer, there's moss on my Moss

That blog title folks, is what happens when you spend the weekend with 12 other sewing bloggers at sewaway.


So yes, another Grainline Moss skirt, in possibly the most awesome fabric print that I have ever purchased - Erin Michaels uptown for Moda .  It even has moss on it.  It was meant to be.
I bought a 2 yards of this on Ebay last year because I just loved it, but had no idea what to actually make.  I briefly contemplated a dress  but thought it the funky design of the Moss would make it more wearable ( I was right on this one; I wore it two days running at the weekend)

Now, as fabulous as this fabric is, it has a lot potential for embarrassing pattern placement.  No one wants deers grazing somewhere they shouldn't, those dark green clouds too close to the the fly area, or a bush on their.... well you get the idea.
EXTREME pattern matching

So, I traced the pattern pieces onto see-through interfacing and, with the help of Poppy kettle and a host of others at social sewing placed them to avoid major wardrobe malfunctions. I also did my best to pattern match across the front, back, pockets and yokes by cutting each piece out individually.  It's not perfect but pretty damn close.  Due to all the 'fussy cutting' I didn't have enough fabric to pattern match the waistband, and by then was losing the will to live anyway, but at least all deer stayed the right way up and were not decapitated., and as it's fairly thin  quilting cotton I underlined the skirt in a cotton batiste. 

Slightly fuzzy pic of my best ever zip.

Sewing this up was FUN, mainly because it was done at Sewaway with lots of people who didn't mind my happy squeals when I managed to match up a tree, but also because I really like Jen's clear instructions They make difficult things, like fly zips, much easier. In fact I think this might be my best fly zip ever. As with my silver denim Moss, I made the size 4 with a smidge taken out of the CB and 2 inches added to the length. The button is a gifted leather one which works perfectly.

What do we want? More Mosses!  When should we make them? Now!
And, as one Moss is clearly not enough for us Melbourne sewing ladies, here is Nic's much more sensible, lovely cord version. More of this on her blog.

Pattern; Grainline Moss, size 4 (used before= free)
Fabric: 2 yards of Erin Micheals Uptown in Sky $35.40 (including shipping)
Zip, button from op-shopped stash
Total - $36. More than I've spent on an item of made clothing for a while but so totally worth it.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mixing stripes and florals: the Jaywalk dress

Gosh, it has been a while hasn't it?  I've been sewing though, in fact I spent the entire Queen's birthday sewing.  Gloriously immersed in sewing with 12 other sewing ladies at Sewaway organised by the  lovely Kat.  *Sigh* total bliss.  And I got stuff finished too, and more stuff started (and finished again) which I will now get round to blogging.

First up, the dress I entered into the Tessuti jaywalk competition. No I didn't win (did you see some of  those entries? Amazing.) but did have a whole heap of fun making the dress and I admit that having a competition to enter did make me do things a bit more carefully and properly than I might have done in normal circumstances. 

Those stripes would totally line up if that floral wasn't in the way.

This dress started off as the lady skater bodice, which I've made before here and here.  There was a little extra bit of fabric at my bust in this pattern so I made a small dart and then converted this into a princess seam. Finally putting my pattern drafting class learnings into practice!   I also knew that I wanted to mix up the stripes with a floral or another colour. Actually I got the idea of 'replacing' the stripes with different fabric from a boys T shirt  pattern in Ottobre magazine. 

Originally I had the side piece cut from the Jaywalk but in the end decided to make the side insert floral too.   I self-lined the bodice using the Colette tutorial which did my head in for about half an hour until I had an ah-ha! moment (aided somewhat by Nic) and it all came together, and magically I had a finished armhole. In hindsight I should have added a little bit extra to the armsyce too compensate for the lining rather than adding a sleeve because the arm holes are a leetle low. But you can't see my bra so whatevs.

The floral 'stripes' and inserts are a scuba knit leftover from my (unblogged) Mabel skirt.  The Jaywalk was  lovely to work with but the fabrics had different amounts of stretch and I was a bit worried that there might be some puckering going on, but it worked out ok in the end.  I played about a bit with the placement and decided that a thicker and thinner one looked best.  Then, it was just a case of cutting out a slightly A line rectangle or the skirt front and back, slicing and re-joining the florals and stripes (I tried to get a whole black stripe on either side). 

Originally I tried to pleat the skirt but it was a big floppy fail so I used Megan Nielsen's method of gathering with elastic thread in the bobbin, same as my drop waist lady skater.   I did match the stripes on the side seams (honest!)  but I don't have a very good picture. I did this by 'sticking' them together with Vilesofix before stitching.  Works a treat. 

Most of the construction was done on my sewing machine with just some finishing on the overlocker.  Normally I would have used the overlocker more, but I didn't want wobbly stripes, or big holes in the bodice.  See? Told you I took care over this one.

End result?  I really like it.  It feels a bit more interesting to wear than a regular striped dress and I've already worn it to work with a black jumper over the top.   I did contemplate adding sleeves, but I want to be able to ear it in the summer, but as I have more of the Jaywalk fabric left over I might just make a top (Nettie perhaps?) to wear underneath.

And my favourite picture?   Bimble and Pimble photobomb!


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Me Made May '14: My pledge

I took past in Me Made May for the first time  last year and, like a lot of people it revealed some gaps in my handmade wardrobe as well as making me take a critical look at the things that I'd made (and realise that some of them just weren't right!)  I managed to wear something me-made almost every day and since then I've made quite a lot more wearable items so I'm stretching myself a bit more this year. 

Here's my pledge.

'I, Helen of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '14. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made or refashioned garment each day for the duration of May 2014

In addition I will also makes something from a self-drafted pattern based on what  I learnt at my pattern making class.  I might make  pants as these are sorely lacking in my wardrobe but we'll see how it goes.' 

I'm going to face a bit of a challenge with documenting my outfits this year.  MMSTL is away until the last week of May and  he's taken the camera, so be prepared for a bunch of selfies in the mirror at work.   on Instagram.  

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bring on the basics

I've been making a lot of basics recently.  T shirts, all knits, simple and rather gratifying, from a couple of basic patterns (both with some mods). Cake, rather than frosting if you like.

To save you from the tedium of pictures of four T shirts against my garden fence, I present to you the results of a little 'photo-shoot' courtesy of my talented friend, Ines (aka Humble Habit).   That gal sure knows how to take a decent picture.

We had a lot of fun scouting (see what I did there?) round her yard for shoot 'locations' and there was even a change of hairstyle and accessories half way through.  But enough about that. Let's get onto the sewing details...

1. Grey Scout T shirt

This is the Scout Tee pattern,which I've made it twice before in a woven, this time in a fairly firm grey cotton jersey from the op shop. Jen has a good tutorial on how to go about making the pattern in a knit. I wanted a slouchy look so I cut the same size as the woven (4 in the shoulders and bust, tapering down to a 0 in the hips) and scooped the front and neckline out. Actually I think I overdid the scooping as this one shows my bra straps a bit but I guess could always wear a tank underneath or just channel my inner Flashdance.

I lengthened the sleeves by about 5cm so I can roll them up if the mood takes me and I did the neckband the same way I do most of my knit necklines: finish one shoulder seam, attach the neckband (1 1/2 inches wide folded in half in this case) then finish the other shoulder.

2. White Scout T shirt

Same as above but slightly longer sleeves and less scooped, more V neckline.   The shape was a bit accidental as I forgot all the knowledge that my pattern drafting teacher imparted about having a neckline curve flat for 2cm at the bottom otherwise you end up with a V neckline.. but it works OK.  I lengthened the arms even more this time for the turn ups - inspired by Grainlines Madewell Tee variation.  Fabric was gifted and is a nice cotton knit.

3. Green Renfrew

Say Cheeeeeese

Probably my least favourite out of the lot as it looks a bit wrinkly in the photos.  Fabric is a ribbed cotton knit from the op-shop with limited amount of stretch. I do like the colour though.  I made the size 4, tapering to 0 in the hips and left off the bands at the hem and arms, finishing  with a twin needle.

4. Black Merino Renfrew

Last, a black T shirt so not much to report, apart from loving the fabric (Merino knit bought from the Fabric store in NZ last year) which, being merino, feels beea-uiful to wear. I actually made this a few months ago and have been wearing it quite a lot, tucked in to skirts as well as with trousers, although not fabulous yellow ones like the pair Ines loaned me. Maybe I should make some!

So there you go: 4 different T shirts, lots of different backyard locations.  I'm ready for Me Made May! (pledge coming up)

Patterns:  Sewaholic Renfrew and Grainline Scout, both used before = free
Fabrics: various op-shopped and gifted knits = $5 and 1m merino =#18
Thread from op-shopped stash
Total = $23

Friday, April 4, 2014

Pattern hack: drop-waist Lady Skater

Hello from (not so sunny) Wales!   Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that I actually finished this dress a week or so ago before coming to the UK to spend some time with my parents, but didn't get round to taking any pictures, so thanks Mum for being the photographer for these.

I've seen a lot of drop waist dresses around, and pinned a few like this one and this one but wasn't sure whether it would work on me. Would it be flattering?  Too young ?  Overtly bum-enhancing? But that's the great thing about sewing. I wouldn't want to shell out heaps of cash for a dress style that I was a bit unsure about, but having a bit of a play with some op-shopped knit to see what happens, bring it on!

Rather wrinkly back view
For this dress I started with the Lady Skater by Kitchykoo, which I've made twice before (but only blogged once).   To change it to a drop waist I traced off the bodice pattern piece with three quarter sleeves in a size 3 and added length to the front and back, curving out at the hips. I didn't want it to be skin tight so I measured  the widest part of my hips and added in some ease.  The skirt is just two gathered rectangles (half the width of the fabric each), gathered using Megan's Nielsen's clever method, putting elastic in the bottom bobbin which worked a treat.

Initially I added 25cm to the length but after a bit of playing around with the bodice and skirt on my dressform, I shorted it to 17 cm. This meant that the dress ended up being a bit shorter than I originally intended, but as I'm only planning on wearing this with tights, I think it's OK. I forgot to take any pictures during the construction process but I did things in this order, using the overlocker for most of the sewing apart from the gathering, shoulder seam elastic and hems:

- stabilise shoulder seams with clear elastic
- sew one shoulder seam
- sew the neckband
- sew the other shoulder seam
- sleeves in flat
- gather each skirt price separately
- attach skirt pieces to the bottom of the front and back bodice
- sew up the sides  and arms

Hems and the neckline were finished with a twin needle.  These pictures were taken after wearing the dress all day and it was stretched out a bit so I perhaps need to take in the sides a little more, especially under the arms, and also narrow the neckline. However, minor fitting issues aside it's a super comfy dress, a bit different to the other knit dresses in my wardrobe, and I think I'll get a lot of wear out it of during Autumn and Winter (and the Welsh Spring!)

Hwyl fawr!  (that's goodbye in Welsh in case you were wondering)

Pattern: hacked Lady Skater by Kitchykoo, used before = free
Fabric:1.5m of cotton knit from the op-shop = $3
clear elastic and thread from stash
Total = $3

Friday, March 7, 2014

Sometimes simple is best: Mission Maxi, dress and tank versions

See how I colour-coordinated my dress to our chickens?
Sometimes you just need a quick sewing fix. This Mission Maxi was cut out while I was waiting for dinner to cook and sewn up afterwards. It probably took 45 minutes all up (it isn't hemmed and I'm still deciding whether to  top stitch the neckline and armholes) but it's received more compliments of anything that I've made!    I wore it to work yesterday and received several nice comments, MMSTL loves it and LittleFB wanted me to leave it on to read him a bedtime story and went through my jewellery to find  necklaces that would go with it. It's pretty funny being  styled by an eight year old boy :)

I have actually made this pattern before when I first started sewing with stretch fabrics, in a drapey purple cotton knit and it was hideous.  The neckline and armholes were gaping and too low, the racer back was too narrow - hello bra straps!- and it clung to every lump and bump. Blergh. So the pattern was abandoned for a year or so.

Last week  I visited a friend  to whom I'd promised a homemade garment as a birthday present. She wanted a racer back top , in stripes, so I pulled out the Mission Maxi pattern, grabbed a size 20 maxi skirt  in a drapey viscose knit that I picked up in the op shop to test the pattern for her, and we had a little sewing session.

Her top version turned out so nicely that it's definitely a wearable muslin - look how great she looks!  The op-shopped skirt actually gave us plenty of fabric to work with (there would have been more if I hadn't stuffed up with the cutting) and we even almost managed to match up the stripes, pretty good considering we were using a regular machine, had no real idea whether they were on grain or not and the knit was pretty slippery.


Bit wrinkly at the back but possibly because I find it impossible to stand in a normal way when posing for photos
With a renewed enthusiasm for  this pattern,  I came straight home and cut out the maxi dress lenth in a size 6, adding 0.5cm at the bust as a cheat's FBA.  As this is more of an autumn version I used some heavier black double knit and did the neckline and armholes the way I usually do, by cutting a strip (in this case  1 1/2 inches), folding in half and over locking to the right side, stretching the band at the same time. This helped with the gaping and  because the bands are wider then the ones in the pattern, also made the neckline a bit less revealing.   I also raised the shoulder straps by 1cm.   You can see in the pics there is some wrinkling at the back, maybe due to the weight of the fabric, but it's not too noticeable in real life.  Also I should point out that it does still slightly show my bra straps; I've got them tied together with a strip of jersey in these photos.  Ha ha.

I think I'll get a lot of wear out of this dress.  It's perfect now for the slightly cooler days were are having, and I can see it working well layered up with a jacket or jumper over the top  for when it gets colder.  Confession: In may have worn it two days in a row... that's got to be a good sign.

See also:
Sew Brunswick
Very Purple Person
Cut Cut Sew

Pattern: Jamie Christina Mission Maxi (Used before = free)
Maxi fabric 1.5 m of black duble knit from Brunswick fabrics ($6)
Top fabric: recyled maxi skirt from Savers = $4
Total: $10 for both  and an extra win for  a bit of upcycling!