Tutti frutti

Of all the things I love to sew, my favourite is a woven top. Having been sewing for quite a while now I have no shortage! Archers, Scouts and Belcarras abound, especially in prints. They form one half of my self-imposed work uniform (the other half is jeans), so why not add another one to the mix?

RDC Marthe

I decided to make a Republique du Chiffon Marthe blouse after seeing Kirsty’s version (if you haven’t seen her hoodie interpretation, click here, it’s a thing of genius!). Originally I tried to modify the Scout tee with a hem ruffle but it didn’t work out, and being a sewist of limited patience I just caved and bought the Marthe pattern. I really like the combination of the raglan sleeves with the hem ruffle, plus the volume created by the A-line shape makes it really fun to wear.

RDC Marthe

RDC Marthe

I decided to use some Liberty that I ordered from Shaukat a while ago. This print is called Jack and Charlie and is covered with pears! The muted blues are really lovely. I’ve really enjoyed wearing this top. But when a gust of wind comes along, behold, triangular torso woman:

RDC Marthe

RDC Marthe

What’s your take on ruffles? Are you a fan? Any other excellent top patterns that I’m missing out on? I’m probably at wearable capacity but something tells me there will be more in my future!

Vogue 1298 // Rachel Comey

I’m back with another pattern that didn’t initially catch my eye, but that I’m now smitten with! This is my version of Vogue 1298, a design by Rachel Comey.

Vogue 1298

I am a huge fan of Rachel Comey’s designs in general, so I’m surprised it took me so long to buy this pattern. Inspiration struck via Pinterest (as it so often does), where I stumbled upon some images of the original designer dress made up in a paint spattered white denim. Here are some pics of said dress, arranged into a collage using my extremely rudimentary photo editing skills:

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If you search for ‘Rachel Comey Tippet dress’ on Pinterest you’ll be able to find these images. The dress pictured on the top left is another original Rachel Comey version. Sometimes pattern envelopes don’t show all of a garment’s true potential (this dress is shown on the pattern envelope in a purple snakeskin-ish print, neither of which are my thing) so it’s good to know the style name of a designer dress in order to seek out alternative versions. For example if you search for ‘Rachel Comey Navigator top’ you’ll see some really great versions of the original designer top that is featured in the Rachel Comey V1247 pattern. Maybe this isn’t news to you but it opened up a whole new world of inspiration for me!

Vogue 1298

Garment deets: the pattern envelope suggests lightweight linen, silk dupioni and sateen, but having been inspired by the denim version I went with a medium weight silk cotton from my stash. It has a denim-y, twill weave to it but has a smooth feel on the wrong side, which makes it good for wearing over tights. The medium weight meant that I didn’t need to line the skirt. I lined the bodice with a scrap of left over Liberty:

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Construction was fun, and the instructions were clear, however I had a few issues with the back waistband (the two pieces adjoining the top of the zip in the photo above). The pattern piece was odd looking but I went along with it, only to find that it was too long and deep for the CB seam. I had to cut off about an inch on either side to make it meet correctly in the middle and line up with the bottom of the bodice. I spent quite a while trying to figure out my mistake and I’m still not sure what went wrong, but it all worked out in the end.

Vogue 1298

The back is definitely where all the action is with this dress! I originally wasn’t sold on the open back since I’m not usually an open back kind of person, but I think it looks pretty cool over this striped top. You’d run into bra issues if you wore it on its own, plus it makes a great winter dress layered over a top and tights.

Vogue 1298

It’s hard to tell in these photos, but another very cool detail is the curved hem, which is finished with a deep facing. If I make this again I’ll ensure that the skirt is a couple of inches shorter all the way around. As it stands I think it’s giving off a bit of an apron vibe. I think for a summer version a shorter length would be a must. Excuse the wrinkles below, I had been test driving this dress all day!

Vogue 1298

All in in all I enjoyed sewing this dress and I really really like it. The fabric was nice to work with and the pattern has all sorts of great details, so I’d definitely recommend it. Unfortunately the Vogue website lists this pattern as being out of print, but perhaps there are some leftover copies to be found online. I really hope that Vogue releases some more designs by Rachel Comey!

Top No. 64

Lately I’ve had a bit of a thing for raglan tops. And kangaroo pockets. Top No. 64 by Merchant and Mills has both!

Top 64

You know how sometimes you see a pattern and it registers vaguely but you have no intention of making it? And then, a few months later, something clicks and suddenly you just MUST have said pattern? Yep.

Top 64

This happened to me when I saw Lisa’s version on the Tessuti blog. I think she made it a while ago but I only recently saw it, and all of a sudden I saw untold potential.

Anyway enough about what convinced me to buy the pattern, let’s talk about the top I made. The pattern suggests canvas and the like for a kind of work top look, but I went for a squishy boiled wool from my stash. For once I did a toile first, using some wool flannel, but the resulting garment was a bit restrictive for my liking, and the neckline a bit high. For the version you see here I widened the neck by about 1cm all around, and sewed the underarm seams at 1cm instead of 1.5. It helps that the boiled wool has some give to it, so this came out like a very cozy jumper. Bonus: boiled wool doesn’t fray, so I didn’t need to finish any of the seams! I just turned and hand stitched the hems. I used an interfaced Liberty scrap for the neck facing.

Top 64

Top 64

This is the first Merchant and Mills pattern I’ve tried, and I really enjoyed the experience. I didn’t splash out and get the super duper cardboard pattern, I just got the tissue version, but it was lovely to use and I liked the way that the instructions were illustrated. I’ll definitely use this pattern again.

I’ve been wearing it to work over Scout tees and with jeans, and it has proved to be a very practical and warm addition to my wardrobe!

Top 64

Have you tried a Merchant and Mills pattern? Which one and what did you think? I’d be keen to try others!

 

 

Wintergardens

Last weekend, my Mum came up for a visit, and we explored the Wintergardens in the Auckland Domain. Perfect opportunity to photograph some new makes!

Vogue 1247 and Papercut turtleneck

I’m wearing my third and most successful version of the skirt from the ever popular Rachel Comey pattern, Vogue 1247, along with a merino Papercut Rise Turtleneck. I’ll talk about the skirt first, since it’s my favourite of the two.

The fabric I used for the skirt is a luscious stretch cotton sateen. I love this stuff! I purchased it at Britex a couple of years ago when we were on holiday in San Francisco. I originally intended to make pants with it, but just recently I had the idea of using it for V1247. I feel like I’ll get much more wear out of this fun print in skirt form. Also, hooray for holiday fabric!

Vogue 1247 skirt

The best bit about this pattern is definitely the kangaroo pockets! I’ll admit that in every day wear I don’t have much impetus to put my hands in them, but for whatever reason, this little photo shoot is full of hands-in-pockets shots.

Vogue 1247 and Papercut turtleneck

The pattern doesn’t call for stretch fabrics, but I find that a little bit of stretch can make a garment so much more forgiving, i.e. after a big lunch! I’ve never been a big fan of restrictive wasitbands, so I used a  lightweight interfacing with a bit of stretch so that I could retain the give in the waistband.

Vogue 1247 and Papercut turtleneck

I didn’t fuss too much over pattern matching but I did try to have things going in the same direction where possible. The print was a bit off grain, very irritating, but I don’t think that it’s too noticeable on the finished garment.

Vogue 1247 and Papercut turtleneck

On to the top! This is the Rise turtleneck from Papercut. I’ve now made two of these, one of each style (the Fall turtleneck has dropped shoulder seams). I think I made a size small in these photos, but I probably should have gone down one or two sizes since it’s pretty large, and the shoulder seams aren’t quite where they should be. I think that any issues I have with this version are through maker’s error, so I’m quite keen to give it another go in a smaller size and perhaps in a heavier weight merino. I think that the combination of this slightly drapery merino + too large size result in not quite the look I was after, but for the purposes of keeping warm, it’s great! It’s definitely a cozy garment and I really love the big turtleneck. I should mention that this isn’t fully the Rise version since I took the baggy turtleneck piece from the Fall version and just stuck it on the Rise neckline. The Rise is supposed to have a lower neck piece but I went for maximum neck coziness.

Vogue 1247 and Papercut turtleneck

Prior to this I wasn’t much of a turtleneck wearer, but I can definitely attest to the comfort factor!

Are you a turtleneck fan? Do you think you’ll try the new Papercut pattern?

Sew Bossy

Late last year, Annett of Kohlrabi Bohemia suggested that we try the Sew Bossy challenge. My reply was something along the lines of, sign me up! Fun surprise packages sent across the world? The chance to solidify an international friendship? Since I knew Annett to be particularly stylish, I was sure she would pick out something great.  

If you haven’t heard about Sew Bossy, here is a brief description: Thought up by Heather, Sew Bossy entails choosing a surprise project for someone else to sew. You can send anything you like, but it must include all of the supplies necessary, including pattern and fabric. I think it’s such a fun idea, and having never done it before, I jumped at the chance.

After a few months of chatting and discovering our mutual dislike for wearing pink, Annett and I prepared to exchange packages.  Annett’s parcel blew me away! I don’t think I’ve ever received such an exciting piece of mail. Among some beautiful hand made knitting markers and assorted crafting related goodies, Annett enclosed the most beautiful kaleidoscopic silk cotton fabric, along with a blouse pattern from a new-to-me pattern company, Stoff and Stil. Shirts are one of my favourite things to sew, and that coupled with the gorgeous fabric made sewing this up a total joy. This weekend I went to a local park with Ben where he took some photos of me frolicking in my new top!  

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Although I had intended to make a toile, impatience got the better of me, and after comparing the pattern pieces to the Archer pattern (which I know fits me well), I made a few changes to the pattern before cutting my fabric. Firstly, I adjusted the back yoke so that it was a little wider across the shoulders, as there’s nothing more annoying than a tight back. I adjusted the fronts accordingly. I also changed the straight hem to a shirt tail shape at the back as well as the front. Finally, I widened the sleeves to enable gathering at the cuffs, put in sleeve plackets, finished the gathered cuffs with bias binding, and added shell buttons with thread loop closures. I think that the sleeve and hem adjustments helped to add a bit more interest and up the femininity stakes a little bit.

Where's that sleeve placket?

Where’s that sleeve placket?

There it is!

There it is!

I enjoyed using the Stoff and Stil pattern, especially since the pattern pieces come pre-cut out of a fusible interfacing type of material, but without the glue, if that makes sense. It means that it only comes in the size that you order, but saves a lot of time when it comes to preparing your pattern. I can’t speak for the instructions, except to say that Annett’s English translation was super helpful!

Ignore my colouring in, those line drawings were very helpful for planning purposes!

Ignore my colouring in, those line drawings were very helpful for planning purposes!

Back view

Back view

In the end it probably turned out slightly oversized, mostly due to my preemptive shoulder alterations, but I really love a good oversized top and I think that this fabric lends itself to the shape really well. It’s as light as air and floats around me as I walk. The one thing I’ve considered doing is shortening it a smidgen. The good thing about the current length is that it’s legging appropriate, but at the same time I think shortening it by about an inch could make it slightly more versatile. Tell me what you think.

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Thanks, Annett, for choosing such a fun project for me! I’ve had a blast. If you’d like to check out what I sent in exchange, check out Annett’s blog here!

Kasuri Top

Just a quick post to tell you about one of my favourite tops!  

 

Over the last couple of years I’ve been taking classes in pattern making, on and off. I now have a set of blocks made to fit me, and this little top was drafted from my bodice blocks.

My absolute hands down favourite thing about this garment is the fabric! Those who know me well already know of my love for Japanese fabric, and for me this traditionally woven kasuri fabric is the pinnacle of amazing. I was inspired to make something from kasuri after seeing the gorgeous clothes from Crazy Wind, they make the coolest stuff.

A really great description of the complex process behind this fabric can also be found on the Crazy Wind website, here.

I found these vintage pieces of kasuri on EBay a while ago and ordered them with a top in mind. I actually made the top from two different fabrics, if you look closely you can see that the sleeves are a slightly different pattern to the body. This was more out of necessity than anything else since I didn’t have enough of either fabric.

 
The other thing about this fabric is that it is extremely narrow (40cm from selvedge to selvedge), the reason being that it was woven on a traditional Japanese loom. Hence the seam running down the centre front. I really had to eke this out!

 Despite this being made from my bodice block, when I first made it, it didn’t allow me as much arm movement as I would have liked. For a long time it hung unworn in my wardrobe (very sad), until I had the idea of retrofitting a box pleat into the centre back. 

 

Ta daa! Here’s a better photo taken on the dress form:

 
I love when a necessary adjustment becomes a pretty awesome design feature. Now this top gets more of the wear it deserves, although its ‘specialness’ does lead to me being extra extra careful when I do wear it.

One other cool thing about this particular fabric. Can you see the little repair on the sleeve below? That was on the fabric when it arrived in the mail, and I’m pretty sure it’s from this fabric’s former life as another garment. I decided not to cut around it as I like the reminder that this fabric had another life before this top. 

 

By the way, if you’ve been seeing any weird unfinished blog posts from me, it’s because of technical difficulties and I apologise. Time for a new computer I think!

Two Scouts in Liberty

Look at me, back so soon! Here are two more of the tees I’ve made recently as part of my enthusiastic Scout making spree.

 

 If you follow me on Instagram, you might recognise this fabric from a picture I posted the other day. The print is called Dancing Ladies, and it feels like every time I look at it I see something new. 

 

I first used this fabric to make a dress (pre-blog), but it never got much wear, so the other day I cut it up to repurpose it into this tshirt. I’m so glad that I did because I’ve worn it so much already! I think it’s such a pity to leave gorgeous fabrics languishing in the wardrobe.

I told a work colleague the story of this dress-to-tshirt transformation and she commented that sometimes you just don’t want to wear a print all over. So true! Until recently I figured that you might as well MAXIMISE a gorgeous print by making a dress. Suddenly I understood why all those pretty print dresses in my wardrobe don’t get much wear.

Of course, sometimes cute print dresses are just the ticket, but I feel like this was an a-ha moment that I probably should have had a while ago…. Moving on!

I don’t remember the name of this beautiful print, but it’s a seasonal Liberty that my Mum requested I make a top for her from last year. I JUST managed to eke this out from the leftovers – I had to cut the sleeves on the cross grain to make all my pieces fit. (Mum, I hope you don’t mind that I used up your remnants!)

 

I guess that one of the reasons I like the Scout pattern so much is that it’s the perfect simple canvas for beautiful prints. That, and it fits me right out of the envelope, which is always a bonus. And it’s so quick to sew. What’s not to like?

I promise I’ll be back soon with a non-Scout make! What have you been sewing lately?

Uniform (Ginger jeans)

It’s been a long time since my last blog post. I’ve been sewing, that’s for sure, but for whatever reason I just haven’t felt compelled to write about it. So, I have a backlog of projects to share with you.

 

Here are my two latest makes, a Scout tee and…. Jeans!

I made these, my first and only attempt so far, from a black stretch denim that I ordered from Girl Charlee while I was on holiday in the US. They are the high rise, skinny leg version, a shape that I am rather fond of in RTW jeans, so it felt like the obvious choice. 

 

I really took my time with these. I think I cut the fabric about a week ago, and over the past seven days have methodically basted, fitted, unpicked and re-sewn until I reached the point where I felt reasonably satisfied. For sure, they are not without fault, but I’m pretty happy for my first go.

Adjustment wise, I made a few small changes:

  • Took a wedge out of the waistband and yoke CB for my sway back
  • Shaved a good 6mm from the hips
  • Removed about the same from the upper inseam
  • Lowered the crotch about 1cm
  • Straightened the front crotch curve

I had really been dreading any crotch fitting issues that I might encounter, but ultimately it was reasonably easy to figure out which adjustments I needed using Heather’s great sewalong. Despite shortening the back inseam by a little bit and easing it to the front (this was suggested in order to help minimise back leg wrinkling), I still have several big wrinkles on the back thigh that are bothering me. As was pointed out in the sewalong, you’ll always have one or two or else there won’t be any sitting ease, but I wonder if there’s another way I could minimise them further? If you have any ideas then let me know.

The back pockets sit a bit low on me so I’ll raise those a couple of cm on my next pair. 

And another pair, there will be! 

The thing is, I used to be such a dress girl. These days, I much prefer jeans and a nice top, especially for work. We don’t have a dress code for rehearsals, so anything goes really, and although some days I have a distinct idea of what I want to wear, most days I would prefer to not have to think too much about it. My aim now is to build up a wardrobe of interesting basics that I can easily mix and match. 

Dress + double bass = not gonna work (unless the skirt portion is very generous in width). Jeans + double bass = yes. Mind blown.

So now I’ve got the jeans part covered. Enter the Scout Tee:

 

Why have I never made this magical pattern before? It’s such a good workhorse and I love it. I’ve made four already. This one is made from a luscious wool and silk blend that I scored from the remnant bin at The Fabric Store. It is gorgeous and I love it. Unfortunately, and despite my best efforts, I somehow managed to cut it off grain. This oversight irritates me no end, but oddly enough this imperfection has led me to feel less precious about it and will probably mean that I’ll wear it more. Strange but true.

Now I’m planning all kinds of variations on the Scout. For the next one I’m thinking hem ruffle.

Have you made either of these patterns? Do you have any cool ideas for Scout tee variations?

Block fusing, pro style!

Hi again!

It’s been a long time coming, but I’m finally sitting down to write the post on commercial block fusing that I promised a couple of months ago.

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You might remember this coat that I completed at the end of last year. Due to the unusual design and my very novice coat making skills, I decided against any traditional tailoring techniques, instead opting to fuse my entire yardage prior to cutting. As you can imagine, the thought of fusing two metres of heavy coating fabric using a domestic iron was off-putting. By sheer coincidence I happen to live remarkably close to Hawes and Freer, a business that caters to the New Zealand fashion industry with their extensive stock of interfacings, interlinings, and specialty fabrics. They also happen to be the loveliest people you could ever meet, even agreeing to help out small fry such as myself! One of the great services they provide is block fusing, and that’s what I did for the fusing of my coat fabric.

The wonderful Erin was kind enough to take these photos of my fabric being fused, along with explanations for each step of the process.

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Here, the wool is being fed through the fusing machine for a preliminary pre-shrinking. From Erin:

You’re using the 4025 fuse on 100% wool fabric. Machine settings: Temperature – 145˚c, Time – 14 seconds, Pressure – bar 2.5.

imageLaying the fusible onto the fabric. The glue side of the fusible lays to the wrong side of the fabric.
“X” marks the wrong side.

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Fabric and fuse laid up ready to go onto the continuous fuse machine belt. Sometimes we re-trim
the fusing to fit within the fabric after the initial shrinking
.

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The material being fed through the fuse machine coming out the end. The fuse is now set onto the
fabric
.

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How great is that machine! Using a high quality interfacing really makes a difference, and in this instance I really appreciated the uniform bond between interfacing and fabric that I probably couldn’t have achieved with my home iron. Plus, of course, all of the time I saved. I feel really fortunate to have such a great resource on my doorstep! Check out the Hawes and Freer website to see their range of interfacings, linings, shoulder pads, buttons… they even stock some of the beautiful Merchant and Mills range.

I hope you found this explanation of the commercial block fusing process as interesting as I did!

*All opinions are my own, and I was in no way compensated or sponsored for this post. Just sharing info on a great service and a fantastic Kiwi business!*

A fluffy number

Happy New Year everyone! I hope that wherever you were, it was a good one!

I’ve been reading everyone’s year-end posts with admiration, and it’s got me thinking about the way that I sew. In general I’m always looking ahead, to the next fabric or pattern. The second I complete a project I’m immediately thinking about the one to come. As a result I don’t often reflect on what I’ve made, other than to be pleased that there are clothes in the cupboard! I’m sure a round-up of sorts would be useful, to take stock of what I’ve made, and to determine what worked and what didn’t. But… I’m too impatient to tell you about the last thing I sewed, so there you have it. Maybe next year.

Bellbird/vogue 8805

This fluffly, wooly number is a rendition of Vogue 8805, in 100% wool boucle. As usual the fabric came first, and the pattern followed. I found this satisfyingly loopy stuff at The Fabric Store, my usual haunt. To be honest this fabric felt quite far out of my comfort zone, and I wasn’t sure what I’d make with it at first. I think it worked pretty well for this tunic dress though.

Bellbird/vogue 8805What drew me to this pattern in the first place were the oversized dolman style sleeves and all-in-one sleeve and yoke, and I quite like the way that the thickness of the boucle helps to exaggerate the shape. When I wear it, it feels akin to a dress-shaped blanket.

Bellbird/vogue 8805

Like lots of wool, this fabric is a bit scratchy on the skin, so I underlined the whole thing with silk cotton. For the neckline facing I used a scrap of Liberty, and top-stitched it down to the dress, including around the back neck opening. I had to extend the facing to accommodate this, as the pattern just instructs you to fold and stitch, but I like the clean look of a full facing. To eliminate further scratchyness I drafted facings for the dress and sleeve hems, too.

Bellbird/vogue 8805

Overall this is a really comfy and cozy dress that will get lots of wear! I’m looking forward to making it up in a linen for summer. Til next time!

Bellbird/vogue8805