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

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