Sewing

Three new things

I’ve been working on building up my wardrobe of winter clothes, as well as sewing some distraction projects – the ones that I feel like sewing as opposed to actually needing!

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I’ll start with the things in the ‘need’ category. This Grainline Studio Driftless cardigan is so cozy!! I made it with the same merino blend fabric as this dress. It was heavily inspired by Lisa’s version, posted on the Tessuti blog, where she used the wrong side of a thickish knit. I wasn’t brave enough to go all-in with the wrong side so instead I just used it for the hem, cuff and front bands. It’s very warm and each time I wear it I feel like I’m wearing a big hug. What could be better?

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The cowl is another essential item, but I knitted it way back in March. At the time I had a major obsession with this colour, rusty red, which admittedly I’m still in love with. I found my dream pattern/yarn combo with the Elena cowl and Quince and Co Chickadee. The cables look impressive but they were simple and fun to knit. The colour is bold but seems to go with everything in my wardrobe.

Now for the top that I probably didn’t need but that I really love!

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This is a Rachel Comey for Vogue pattern. I’ve probably said this here before but I LOVE Rachel Comey. I want to own/wear pretty much everything she designs. This pattern (Vogue 1503) came out in the most recent release from Vogue, along with some other beauties, all of which I snapped up in a hurry. Recently I made my first version of this pattern out of some linen scraps (posted on Instagram) and pretty soon I decided to made a second one.

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The coolest feature of this design is probably the shoulder, where the back overlaps to the front. It’s very simple to construct but is a really great detail. The sleeve cuffs and front ruffle are also bonuses in my book.

For this version I used some Marimekko linen that I had been coveting for some time. It was pricey so I only bought 0.8m! Pattern matching was out of the question, and I had to use the selvedge at the CB and the sides of the ruffle. One of the sleeves is cut on the cross grain, and due to fabric shortages I used a black linen from my stash for the lower back and the cuffs. The scraps from this top are non existent.

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I kind of like how you can see the designer’s name on the CB join. The laundering instructions from the selvedge are visible on one of the side seams but I’m just rolling with it.

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The only drawback to this pattern is that the armholes are cut quite low, so range of motion is slightly impaired, but only if you want to do some arm swings. I like the way that it fits with my arms down and it’s still very comfortable, so I didn’t make any adjustments. I’d guess that raising the armhole would not have helped my range of motion issues considering how loose this is under the arms anyway. This is a Vogue size 12 which is the size that corresponds to my measurements. I’m happy with the fit but some people might want to size down depending on ease preferences.

So there you have it! Two cozy things and one thing that I just felt like sewing. Now back to sewing the pile of merino tees that I actually need 🙂

 

Billowy goodness

Ever since coming home from holiday, all I have wanted to wear is this billowy dress, posted a few weeks back. So I took my cue and made three more (more is more, right…?!), based on the same idea: take an existing bodice pattern, crop it, and attach a gathered skirt.

  

This version was made using the top from Simplicy 1366, a very popular pattern in blog land. I like it for the cool easy fit and fashionable dropped shoulder seams. I have already made another gathered dress from it, in my all time favourite Marimekko linen. I haven’t blogged about it but I did post it to Instagram. Back to this dress though: 

 

For this version I used a Nani Iro double gauze from my stash. I think this print is called Jewel Song. Double gauze is so soft and perfect for hot weather so I know I’ll get a ton of wear out of this one. The only modification I made was to scoop out the neckline a bit and finish it with a top-stitched facing. Facings seem to get a bad reputation but I really enjoy sewing them!
 

This type of dress gets to the core of what I enjoy about sewing: find a beautiful fabric and parade about in it! In fact, making this dress has cured me of the sewing doldrums so it must be good.  You’ll find me swishing around in these dresses until the weather cools down – my latest version is made from a large scale peach and white gingham linen. If you see someone looking like a giant picnic blanket, that’s me!  

 

Alice and Alexandria

Whoo it’s hot here!! We’ve just spent five weeks in the (non-humid) South Island and I got used to the drier heat. Now we are back in Auckland and it’s sweat central! Luckily I got some summer sewing under my belt before Christmas, the last-minute, pre-holiday kind that has totally paid off. 

  

Linen is my absolute favourite in the summer, and I made these Named Alexandria pants out of a cool double faced linen/cotton. It has the appearance of a loose weave linen but without the transparency, thanks to the bonded cotton under layer. (I got it at Drapers Fabrics on Teed St in Newmarket, for anyone interested in Akl fabric shops.) I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it on the blog but I’ve made this pattern FIVE times! Talk about a TNT! Two pairs in black dress fabrics for work, and three in linen. This pair is my favourite though, and get the most wear. A few things that I love about this pattern:

  • Elastic waist
  • Useful pockets that are neatly integrated with the front pleats
  • Back patch pockets
  • Tapered leg
  • Comfy!

So much to love. Over my various pairs I have: raised the crotch, so that I can wear these low on my hips; lengthened the leg a little; put a smidge more width in the calf to account for non-stretch fabrics. Beware that if your calves are on the muscular side you might need to take this into consideration as they are quite pegged. 

 

Ok moving on to the more colourful part. This is of course the Tessuti Alice top, another winner of a pattern. This is my second go – the first time I made it in size XS, which came out too big for me. For this version I made an XXS and it’s a better fit. For reference, my bust measures 84cm/33″. I used the Liberty print Felix and Isabelle, and I chose to interface the arm wings as per the pattern.  

 

It’s lovely to have the use of my sewing machine after such a long time away, but unusually for me I’m feeling a bit low in the inspiration department. I have plenty of lovely fabrics but am feeling so indecisive! Let’s hope that a bolt of sewjo hits me soon.

Anyone else suffering from a sewing malaise? Got any tips to escape the sewing doldrums?

Finished: Tamarack Jacket and Lark Tee

Hello readers!

Today I have a project that I’ve been obsessed with ever since Jen of Grainline started hinting at her new pattern on Instagram. I’ve always been a bit partial to a quilted jacket (not so much the puffer jacket variety although they have their place), but the perfect pattern had never presented itself. Until now, that is.

I finished my Tamarack a few days ago, and yesterday I convinced Ben to join me on a walk around our neighbourhood  to take some photos. Our blog photography is still firmly embedded in the experimental stage (i.e.  no idea what we are doing) but I think we got some cool shots.

Tamarack jacket

Tamarack jacket

Lately my sewing has been pretty frenetic, with a lot of quick projects being pushed through my machine. Which is great, lots of new clothes and all, but I really enjoyed slowing down and taking my time on this jacket. I’ve had a bit of spare time over the last week so I was able to take my time with the quilting and binding that this pattern requires.

For my fabric I looked to my stash, which I must admit has become a bit overwhelming. I’m making a concerted effort to sew from it instead of buying more fabric (not entirely successful) but I did find the fabric for this jacket in my existing collection (do I get a gold medal?). For the outer I used a really beautiful linen/silk blend. It has a subtle irregular woven stripe parallel to the selvedge, and going the other way are lovely silk slubs, raw silk style. I had been hoarding it for who-knows-what and I’m so happy I used it for this. For the inner I used a gorgeous silky Liberty lawn that I ordered from Shaukat a few months ago. I think that these photos show the colours the best:

Tamarack jacket

Tamarack jacket

I went to Spotlight to find batting, and ended up getting both wool and cotton batting because I couldn’t decide. I’m pretty sure I’ll end up making another of these jackets so I don’t mind having extra on hand. After quilting a couple of samples I chose the wool batting, as my outer fabric has some body and I felt like the wool batting had more drape and softness. I didn’t find it puffy to work with but it probably depends on what thickness you get, not sure if there are thickness options but mine was reasonably thin. Some of the loft flattened out with pressing, too. I quilted straight lines about  2″ apart, using my *new and amazing* walking foot. The guide that it came with meant that I didn’t need to chalk many lines on my fabric – I just set the guide to my quilting width and used that for each new line.

Tamarack jacket

In keeping with my relaxed sewing pace I chose to bind all of the inside seams using bias binding cut from my inner fabric, including the pockets. This pattern calls for lots of binding and I would recommend practicing on some quilted scraps, which I didn’t, because it tested my skills at times. The instructions are great but when binding two layers of quilted fabric, as I did on the inside, there are some serious turn-of-the-cloth issues to contend with. You’ve been warned! Here’s an inside shot, although the colours were hard to capture indoors:

Tamarack jacket

While I’m here I might as well show you another Grainline project I sewed up recently, which is the Lark tee. Now that I’m not buying any RTW clothing, making tshirts is a necessity even though knits aren’t my favourite thing to sew. This was relatively pain-free though, and as usual I am a mega fan of the fit of Jen’s patterns. I used a cotton knit for this tshirt and chose the boat neck + 3/4 sleeve combo. It’s super comfy! My overlocker and I are not best friends right now but once we’re back on good terms I’ll definitely be making more. My one comment would be that this pattern is longer in the body than I expected, which is great for tucking in, but next time I’ll shorten it a smidge. I am about 166cm/5ft 4″ for reference.

Grainline Lark Tee

Grainline Lark Tee

 So there you have it, two Grainline slam dunks that I am super pleased with!

Do you have any plans to make a Tamarack? And how many quilted jackets is too many? Because I know I’ll be making more….

Have a good week!

Alders for Spring

Hi everyone!

Lately I’ve been churning out Spring appropriate clothes in anticipation of warmer weather. Today was one of the first bare-legs days so far, so I twisted Ben’s elbow and we hit the streets to get pics of two of my newest Grainline Alder dresses.

Grainline Alder

This first one seemed quite popular when I posted an in-progress shot to Instagram and I think that’s all down to the amazing fabric, which is a gorgeous medium-weight cotton that I bought at Tessuti on a visit to Melbourne last month. It has a fantastic geometric pattern that I think looks quite cool broken up across the Alder style lines. With a full-on print like this I don’t think you can go past self covered buttons, so I had some made at Hawes and Freer. I like the way they blend in while still providing an opportunity for some extra print placement fun.

Grainline Alder

Grainline Alder

Grainline Alder

For this view B version I cut a size four and lengthened the hem by about an inch, as well as raising the bust darts a little as they sit a bit low on me. Originally I sewed the pockets on but removed them after determining that too much was going on. I’ve been wearing this with my favourite new cardi, which has proved to be super versatile and is featuring in most of my outfits at the moment!

Grainline alder

My view A denim Alder came about on a bit of a whim, as its my belief that since sewing is my favourite hobby I’ll sew what I want, when I want, otherwise the fun might diminish! Anyway it was very enjoyable to make and I am surprised by how much I love the finished dress – I thought that I preferred the view A gathered style but I’ve really fallen for this one.

Grainline Alder

Grainline Alder

The denim that I used for this is a lovely medium weight. I’m not sure if it’s technically denim or more of a thick chambray, but either way I’m into it. I used some nice black metal buttons that I got from a wholesaler, and I really like the way that they look with this fabric. Looking at the photo below I wonder if I should have played with the shoulder slope a bit, but I’m not too worried about it – I’ll definitely wear it even if it has some shoulder wrinkles.

Grainline Alder

Grainline Alder

I used a scrap of Japanese quilting cotton for the inner yoke and the armhole bias binding. I love the way it looks!

Grainline Alder

I’m so happy with how these two dresses are fitting into my wardrobe, they seem to go with everything. Right before I made these I sewed up another view B Alder in a gorgeous dark navy cotton with a textured stripe, and it’s been on high rotation. I would show it here on the blog but I’m not sure that photos would accurately depict the fabric, and at this point I don’t think I need to blog a fifth Alder! You can see my previous two versions from last year here and here.

How about you guys, are you sewing for the new season?

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!

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?

Papercut Saiph Tunic

Hi y’all, I’m back again with another make I sewed up to wear on holiday.

Papercut Saiph

It’s a Papercut Saiph Tunic, heavily inspired by Sallie’s gorgeous versions of this pattern (here and here). I used a ponte-like merino blend (I think it’s merino and nylon) that I found in the remnant bin at The Fabric Store. Score! It’s a very stable knit, quite thick, and with a textured wrong side. It is fantastic to sew and to wear.

Papercut Saiph, Bellbird

I made a toile to begin with as I’ve been feeling very rule-abide-y lately. I think I started with an XS but the shoulders were a little wide and the back neck gaped a bit, so I squared off the shoulder seams and cut more of an XS/XXS hybrid. I’m glad I did since the knit has a bit of give anyway. I pretty much sewed it up as written, but I did add a couple of inches to the hem, and I interfaced the pocket pieces so that they wouldn’t gape. I sewed the neckline facing down with my machine which is something I’ve been doing on a lot of garments lately. I like the way it looks, and it fixes the facing flappage that can be so annoying! Also, I cut the facing out of a scrap of Liberty lawn, and interfaced it as usual. I’ve found that a woven facing works just fine with a knit as long as the knit is a stable one. Using a woven instead of the thick knit helped to cut down on bulk. Unfortunately I don’t have photos of the insides so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Papercut Saiph Bellbird

I’ve been wearing this a lot over wool tights and a thermal top. It’s roomy enough that you can layer up underneath, which I like. It’s extremely cozy and comfortable and doesn’t wrinkle. Must make more of these.

The hat that I’m wearing is the Snoflinga hat pattern by Wiksten, made up in wool leftover from my Lila pullover. This too has been getting lots of wear, I’m liking that Zealana yarn more and more.

I hope that everyone is enjoying a well deserved break, either on the beach or in the cold. I for one am staying cozy!

Bubble coat conquered

I’m finally getting around to sharing photos of the coat that I completed recently! I’ve been sewing like mad, preparing for an upcoming trip. I’ll keep this post short as my work is not yet done! (I.e. Packing!)

I made this coat using a Burda pattern, bubble coat with front ruffles. I skipped the ruffles though! I’m just not a ruffly kind of girl.

Bellbird burda bubble coat

It’s definitely a bubble shape, no doubt about it. A certain someone suggested that it could be rather hip accentuating, but I’ve really been into the whole oversized look lately so I say ‘bring it’.

Definitely some pressing required here!

Definitely some pressing required here!

The style lines of this pattern are what really drew me to it. I love the way that the yoke and the sleeves are one piece, and I really like the front inset too. It’s such an architectural look I think. And so cozy with the rounded seam lines that come in a bit at the bottom hem.

Bellbird Burda bubble coat

The fabric for this came from my stash, but before that I found it on sale a couple of years ago at a little shop near here. It’s a wool/cashmere coating with a slightly furry nap, which meant that I had to be really careful about cutting everything in the same direction. For the lining I used a silk twill in a matching deep red. I’ve worked with silk twill before and it has to be about the trickiest fabric for me. It’s just so slippery! The cutting out took the longest, I’d say. After that it wasn’t too bad, especially when I tamed the fraying seam allowances with my mighty overlocker.

Bellbird Bubble coat

This was my first ever coat project, so I took some time to read up on tailoring techniques. The design of this coat meant that I couldn’t take the traditional route involving hair canvas and roll lines, so I sort of made my own way. I ended up block fusing ALL of my outer fabric, for a few reasons. The main reason was that the wool itself is quite soft and not very thick, and I really wanted the shape of this coat to be quite exaggerated. I knew that the yoke and the front would most certainly need to be fused, and because of the yoke-becomes-sleeve thing I concluded that I may as well fuse it all! I enlisted the help of the professionals at Hawes and Freer,  who fused the whole lot for me in their industrial fusing machine. I should probably dedicate an entire post to it at some point as I think it’s an interesting process. Here is one photo of my fabric coming out after the pre-shrinking step:

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Overall I’m pretty happy with my new coat! It’s cozy and interesting, and I learned so much along the way. All of those inset corners were a first for me, as well as bagging the lining, which was quite fun. The one thing I’m not quite sure about is the front, in terms of closures. I’m predicting that I’ll wear this open more often than closed, but I wonder if the front of the coat could use some embellishment in the form of one or two big buttons? The pattern recommends large snaps but I think they could look a bit unsightly if I were to wear the coat open. Thoughts welcome! Also, I catch-stitched my seam allowances down invisibly, or so I thought. Anyone know why they are showing through? Will a good final press with some steam take care of it?

Bellbird Burda bubble coat

I must say a huge thank you to Lindsay, my coat-along partner in crime. I’m not sure that I would have completed this if it hadn’t been for the deadline we imposed! Check out her gorgeous coat if you haven’t already. And three cheers for the others who joined us in our mission!