Filed under: I made that | Tags: dress, Lonsdale, quilt, Sewaholic Patterns, sewing
Gingham is in this season, I read somewhere during the flood of fashion week wraps. Gingham is in this season, I authoritatively told a colleague as we discussed his tie. Gingham is in this season, I thought to myself as I saw the new dresses coming in from some of my favourite stores. So, gingham is in this season (or possibly last season – I get a bit confused being backwards from the northern hemisphere) and what better way to showcase that than a summer frock?
The fabric is some kind of cotton (new year’s resolution: pay better attention to what fabrics you buy) I spotted in the home dec section of Lincraft while on a mission for more thread. Aha! I thought. Gingham is in this season and this gingham is not twee. Well, not too twee. It’s still kinda like a tablecloth you might use at a fancy picnic…
The skirt is from the Lonsdale dress because pockets (duh!) and I really love the shape. I cut it on a different grain angle than marked on the pattern because with the checks I wanted the straight-grain to be at the centre front and back. It possibly sticks out a little more at the side seam than on my first version, but not too much. I also cut a fair chunk of length off the bottom – like maybe 15cm – and as I did so, I remembered doing this on the red polka dots too. Note to self: alter pattern pieces.
The bodice is my first ever time drafting something from the bodice sloper I made during a Burda garment fitting course I did with my mother. I was very unsure about how it would go (scooped out the neckline, changed the armholes, split the front darts in two) but went crazy-brave and cut straight into the fabric. Result: I still had to take in the centre back a fair way (my husband is getting much more reliable with the pinning for fit) but after that I’m extremely happy with it. Will keep the pattern pieces for future use!
My pattern-matching confidence was greatly bolstered by having read this Coletterie post on how to match up plaids and stripes. The advice to cut the waistband on the bias to give a bit of room for error was especially helpful. I decided it was most important to have matching at the centre-front of the skirt and bodice, and the centre-back and side seams below the dart (where the seams are straight) on the bodice. There was much drawing of lines on the pattern, extremely careful pinning and even a bit of basting, which I don’t normally do. But the end result was totally worth it.
There’s also *almost* pattern matching on the pockets but the fabric has loosened up a bit with some wearing so it’s not as close as when I first sewed it. Remember how I was obsessed with pocket seam finishes a while back? (These ones are French seamed, same as before) Since making this dress, I’ve been checking out the pattern matching on people’s RTW clothes. Some manufacturers clearly don’t care at all!
In a last-minute attempt to toughen the dress up a little I decided to sew my first ever exposed zipper. Google and friendly bloggers with tutorials to the rescue! It’s not as neat on the inside as I’d like (the bodice is unlined to keep it lightweight for summer) but I’m still pretty pleased. I wasn’t sure where the top of the zipper should sit so I didn’t cut the tape shorter at all and instead sewed a hook and eye at the neckline. I kind of like how the ends sit straight up like magic.
For pretty guts, I French finished the side seams of both bodice and skirt. At the centre back, I had enough seam allowance from having to take it in that I folded each side under twice so it encased the raw edge in itself and sewed (like how you’d finish a hem). The waist band is interfaced and has a matching one sewn on the inside, as per the Lonsdale pattern proper. I sewed the inner band to the seam allowance where the skirt and outside band were attached, then stitched in the ditch of the bodice seam to catch the top of it (hope that makes sense).
At the neck- and arm-holes I finished the edge with this cute bias binding I bought in Paris. I machine sewed it at the seam allowance then folded the whole lot over and hand-stitched to finish. It’s a bit stiffer than the dress fabric so the catch stitching has caused some rippling around the neckline in particular but I’m not too fussed since this is a casual garment. I like having the secret surprise of the flash of orange.
Finally, the skirt is finished using a rolled hem foot on the machine. I’m still getting the hang of this and there are a few bits (especially going over the bulky seams) where it’s not quite properly rolled and may need a bit of a trim after washing.
I feel like I’ve been in a sewing frenzy lately, even if there hasn’t been much blogging happening. The #bpsewvember challenge on Instagram definitely inspired some planning and dreaming – and helped me find a bunch more sewing types to follow. My braining is turning over a few Christmas gift ideas too (yes, I’m fully aware it’s ridiculously close to the day) that will hopefully come to fruition. And then there’s been this Top Secret project…
Yup, that’s a queen-sized wedding-present first-ever quilt. I don’t tackle projects by halves (see also: sequin and silk ball gown). I consulted some quilting friends on Twitter, bought a very useful book, did some maths and set to. The front combines the couple’s favourite colours, merging and swapping in the middle. The back has a strip with bits from the front plus some scraps from bunting I helped make for their wedding decorations.
They loved it and I’m immensely proud to have actually finished something so huge (and am awoken to the marvellousness of a walking foot on the sewing machine) – but I don’t think I’ll be doing much quilting any time soon.
Filed under: I made that | Tags: #patternhackathon, Anna dress, By Hand London, dress, Flora dress, sewing
Four of my very good friends were married yesterday at two separate locations hours apart. What is a gal to do in this situation?
Make a dress, of course.
Unlike most of my sewing, this one’s been a bit of a slow burn. The fabric has been sitting out on a chair next to my sewing desk for months while I thought up something worthy of its specialness.
The internet is a most magnificent place and one of my favourite innovations is the proliferation of people who will track down the exact clothes characters on TV shows wear. Thanks to these mystery people, I have learnt nearly every one of my favourite dresses worn by the Gossip Girls was a Marc Jacobs creation. I spent far too long once upon a time fruitlessly trying to track down the Night Birds dress Blair wore, only to discover it was a season old by the time I saw the show and out of my budget anyway. So I was pretty excited to discover Mood has Marc Jacobs fabrics on its designer roster. This here is an MJ viscose crepe which seems to have come from his Resort 2013 collection (whenever that may have been created). It has a lovely drape and was not as slippery to sew as I initially feared.
I wanted a fairly simple pattern with a big skirt to show off the slinky drape and not break up the print too much. Naturally, I turned yet again to By Hand London for inspiration. I really do love those bust pleats on the Anna bodice but the skirt had too many panels for what I wanted, so I switched it out for the Flora skirt. Pretty sure I’m not the first to do this! The fabric was not quite wide enough to fit the front skirt panel on so I had to take a wedge out and make the pleats shallower but it’s still lovely and full.
So, there are clearly several pattern modifications here. Firstly, pockets. Aren’t they the best? I used the pattern pieces from the Cambie I had just made (unblogged because she’s awaiting a bodice modification) and actually worked out the placement properly after the debacle with my second Gabriola skirt. These pockets are going to get a work out, I can tell.
Second (and I guess most obvious) was the neckline. I like the original boatneck on Anna but it’s not my preferred everyday option, so I scooped the front out a whole lot. Let’s be honest, probably too much given how often I had to check my bra was still hidden. But I’m pleased with it anyway. She just needs some bra-strap holders sewn in to the shoulder seams to be absolutely perfect.
I think I’ve *finally* got the back bodice pattern adjusted enough so it fits down the centre properly, but the waistline is still a lot lower at the back than the front. I’ve noticed a couple of my RTW dresses do this as well – any suggestions on fixes? Is it simply a matter of making the back bodice shorter?
Inside I drafted my own sleeve-and-neck-in-one facings and separate linings which was exciting (I get excited by the guts of garments a lot more these days than I ever dreamed possible…). Invisible zipper, machine rolled hem, overlocked seams and she was done. Oh, and I was worried about the neckline and waist seam in particular stretching so I reinforced them with bits of salvaged selvedge of the same fabric.
All up, I think this is a dress worthy of the specialness of the fabric and the weddings it was made for! And the best part? The way it twirls!
Filed under: Frocktober, I made that | Tags: dress, Frocktober, Lonsdale, Sewaholic Patterns, sewing
As soon as I saw Sewaholic’s Lonsdale dress I knew I had to have it – not for anything to do with the pattern itself but because of the name. Over the past few years Canberra, like Hollywood’s dorky teenage girl taking off her glasses, has had something of a makeover and Lonsdale Street in Braddon has been central to that. It’s full of gorgeous shops and fabulous places to eat and I frequent it, well, frequently. The place is so achingly hipster cool now it even got a write-up in the New York Times! Obviously I had to make this dress, despite being unconvinced the bodice style would actually suit me.
So unconvinced was I that I actually made up a toile of the bodice and waistband to check. I was finding it hard to know what a good fit on this more blowsy bodice should look like and spent a lot of time scrutinising photos of others people have made and blogged. For me, there was some unsightly bulging at the underarms which I fixed (more or less) by shaving a sliver off the side seams of both the front and back bodice. It still gapes a bit if the straps aren’t pulled tight enough but I think generally it’s okay.
The fabric is a linen blend (possibly with cotton – I really should take notes when I buy fabric so I can remember) I found at Spotlight while supposedly buying something else. I used the wrong side of the fabric as the outer because I like the way the not-quite-fully-dyed effect makes it a bit more casual. If a linen sun dress needs to be made more casual.
My favourite part of this pattern is the pockets. Pockets! They’re the bestest! I have become mildly obsessed with pocket finshings of late, to the bemusement of friends and family when I demand to look in their pants, and I applied that here by making the pocket bags with French seams.
That is, I finished them with French seams after having to unpick everything because I’d attached the pockets sideways and to the wrong skirt pieces. Pro tip if you haven’t made a Lonsdale yet: the pockets are left- and right-sided and you’ve got to match them to the left and right skirt fronts otherwise the whole thing is incredibly perplexing. But it does make sense when it’s correct.
I’m very happy with all the guts of this dress. In fact, these may be my most favourite garment insides so far. The bodice is fully lined (necessary because of the straps) and the seams are all French except for the centre back, where I made my own bias tape and bound the edges beside the zip Hong Kong style. The bodice lining at the waistband and the hem are hand stitched (ugh! but it does look better).
My second favourite thing about this pattern is the back. It’s so cute with the bow (which I realise you probably can’t see because spots have a wonderfully camouflaging effect in photos…) and I like the way the straps can be a bit adjustable. I am still not entirely convinced about this bodice style but I think wearing it with a belt to better definite the waist would help. Between the linen and the spots and the bare shoulders, wearing this dress definitely makes me feel like summer is coming.
Now if you’ve made it this far, your reward is the Tina Wheeze Mini Guide to Lonsdale Street. To find:
- coffee head to Lonsdale Street Roasters. I know everyone’s got their favourite coffee joint but you really can’t go past Lonsdale’s first hipster joint, or its spinoff second outlet further down the street.
- breakfast head to Elk and Pea. My staple go-to. Try the smashed avocado and mushrooms or the dolce to eat and the chai to drink.
- drinks head to Bentspoke. They brew their own beers behind the bar (plus a cider and a ginger beer) – what’s not to love? (Well, it’s not technically on Lonsdale St but it’s only about 10m around the corner)
- rugby head to Debacle. During Super Rugby season they put on a free bus to the Brumbies games and at other times they’ll show it on the big screens. Plus they’ve got good beers on tap and excellent pizza.
- greeting cards head to Hive. I know this is a random category, but they really do have excellent cards. Also jewellery.
Filed under: I made that | Tags: Finlayson, hoodie, jumper, sewing, sweater, Thread Theory
Five hours spent at the sewing machine this weekend made three people very happy.
Andrew, whose only hours not wearing this hoodie since I handed it over yesterday have been spent asleep.
Bondy, whose taste in dubious Nordic sweater prints matches mine. And thirdly, me. I got to learn some new skills, sew cuffs that weren’t tiny toddler-sized and make some people I like very much happy.
Nearly all the sewing blogs I read are written by people based in the northern hemisphere (I’m slowly uncovering other Aussies and Kiwis – and even the odd Canberran – whose style of sewing and writing I enjoy), as are most of the independent pattern designers. That means their seasons are all off kilter and everyone is now planning for “fall” sewing while I’m hanging out for the day I can ditch the tights from under my dresses and the cardigan under my jacket. It also means a bunch of the patterns recently released are for garments of the warmer variety. But when I saw Thread Theory’s Finalyson sweater pattern in a round-up of indie releases for August I was smitten. Besides, hoodies are all-year-round wears, right?
The dearth of modern (or even just interesting) men’s sewing patterns is a common complaint. Morgan over at Thread Theory is making a fair effort to fix this but I haven’t tried any of her patterns before because sewing pants isn’t my thing and I’m scared of button plackets. I did try to talk Andrew into letting me sew him the Comox trunks but he wasn’t having any of that. But he approved of the Finlayson – after I’d bought the pattern and determined to sew him one anyway…
Gazing over the fleece selection at Spotlight (which largely consisted of plain navy blue – clearly not a popular colour this season), I had quickly identified the grey marle I knew my solids-loving man would wear when my eye was caught by this fantastically tacky alpine sweater print. A snow fields conversation in which Bondy had admired a ski jacket in a similar print came to mind and I knew (hoped) it would be perfect for him. I bought all they had left. In fact I bought them out of the print, the black and the grey marle. Hope you like navy blue if you’re headed to Queanbeyan Spotlight looking for fleece.
I’ve made a couple of hoodies before for a friend’s toddler and the bulk of the construction here was similar although (thankfully) much less fiddly. Andrew wanted variation 2, with the hood. I was a little perplexed by the fabric requirement that said you actually needed more fabric for the hoodless version than the hooded one (though now I’ve cut both out I think maybe it’s to do with how much space cutting the collar pieces takes). Any rate, for the grey version with no pocket, I managed to fit all the pieces need for a large onto 1.8m of 150cm-wide fleece. I now have enough left over from both jumpers to make a couple of fleece miniskirts, though am unconvinced that’s a good thing.
The hood lining is a combed cotton jersey and my one sneaky way of brightening things up. Take note: although, as I said, the hoodie pieces seem to fit on less fabric than stated when it says buy 0.6m for the hood lining, buy 0.6m. Don’t buy half a metre or you’ll wind up piecing the fabric before you can cut out the pattern (I don’t have photos of this because that would require Andrew taking it off…).
I’m not sure exactly how much fabric was used for this one (variation 1, size XL, with pocket) because it came from three separate cuts. I had 1.5m of the print and a roughly one metre and a half-metre piece of the black. The original plan was to cut the sleeves from the print too but the way that I had to fold it to fit the front and back on meant there wasn’t enough space left. I’m glad because I like the black sleeves much better. “Tastefully tacky” was my description to Bondy when the thing was half sewn and I think having sleeves in the print would have pushed it beyond tasteful. Same with adding the black pocket. I did sneak a bit more of the print on with the cuffs though.
I really like the square neck opening and the hood/collar crossover at the front but it was fiddly to sew. Have patience, pin carefully and don’t sew it on the overlocker first up. The second time I sewed the neckline (that’s the printed version) was definitely easier. I also love the “professional” details included in the pattern, like the decorative facing inside the back neck and covering the seam line above it and inside the pocket with twill tape. Both of these were new ideas to me but I feel like they make the final product that much nicer. One minor niggle was I couldn’t find any direction on what width of twill tape to use. I wound up with 20mm and 15mm ones and the wider version fit the neckline seam much better (though I guess that could be to do with the width of my overlocking?).
I feel like I’ve gotten cuff sewing sorted by now. I would like to try this pattern with ribbing for the cuffs and the hem band instead of self fabric – again, I think it would up the professional nature of the garment – but I couldn’t find any in the right colour. The print fleece was a lot stretchier than the grey so it gives a similar effect. The pattern includes two cuff pieces, depending on how stretchy your fabric is, so I used the longer one for the grey and the shorter for the print. It does make a difference on how much the cuffs grip the wrist but I have noticed Andrew doesn’t seem to be having any hassles with the stretch when pushing his sleeves up.
Final note: pattern matching. Oh so close! The other side seam is even closer than this one (this was the better photo) but still not an exact match. Definitely something to keep working on.
I’m keen to sew a Finalyson for myself but want to track down some French terry cotton first. Any ideas on where to find some?
Filed under: I made that | Tags: dress, knits, Maria Denmark, sewing, tops, tshirt
Over the past few weeks I’ve come to the realisation about what to sew that will actually be useful to me. There’s not been a particular trigger for this; I’ve just found myself being more discerning when looking at patterns and fabrics and actually thinking about how I’d wear the whatever I’m picturing making. Now, this is the way I’ve shopped for years (generally, although the odd frivolously trendy and totally-not-my-style garment still sneaks its way into my wardrobe) so it’s odd that it’s taken so long for me to sew that way. I guess I’ve been caught up in the excitement of creating and not thought about the utility.
That’s not to say the things I’ve sewn haven’t been worn, more that I’m now sewing things I want to wear. Over and over and over until they’re worn out. And I’m starting to see the gaps in my wardrobe and think about whether I can fill them myself before heading to the shops. Plus my skills are improved enough that I feel much more confident wearing what I’ve made.
I don’t think I’ll ever have an entirely handmade wardrobe (you can come quote that back at me in two years when it turns out I’ve changed my mind…) because I still have a big need for the kind of polished, tailored, non-stretch work wear I don’t have the patience to make well enough for myself. But my casual wardrobe is starting to go that way.
This is the third of three t-shirts I made in a week. But it’s a dress, I hear you say. True. However, it started life as Maria Denmark‘s Kirsten kimono tee (free pattern when you sign up for her newsletter). I’ve made this pattern a bunch of times now and could practically do it with my eyes shut (if I wasn’t worried I’d sew over my fingers…). It’s been in silver (worn with the Miette here), black silk, grey/black stripes and colour-blocked black and silver in my first pattern hacking attempt. Clearly it was time to break out of that monochrome rut.
The impetus for the latest round of t-shirt sewing was an imminent weekend of skiing, sharing a room with five strangers (okay – one good friend, one colleague and three strangers), and realising my pyjamas didn’t really cut it. One post-work trip to Spotlight to inspect their range of flannel, cotton jersey and patterns, a second trip to Spotlight the next day because I somehow only managed to buy enough flannel for one leg of pants, and about three hours of sewing later and – voila – new pyjamas. That yellow spotty t-shirt up there is the top half; the pants are red and white scallops with a yellow ribbon tie. I lengthened the kimono tee pattern by 7cm (actually properly lengthening by adding the extra around the waist not just the hem) to make it cover my hips and scooped out the front neckline a bit more than the original. I was so delighted with the end fit I decided to add a couple more to the wardrobe to go with jeans.
Cutting out the next two fabrics, I remembered how much use I got out of a Bonds t-shirt dress I’ve had for years and thought I’d try replicating its usefulness. I measured from the front neckline of the yellow top to my knees and added still more length to the pattern, this time going down from the hem and grading the side-seams with a French curve. To squeeze both pieces out of the 115cm wide fabric I did have to take about a centimetre of width out at both the centre front and back so the dress is a bit snugger than the tops.
All three were sewed up directly on the overlocker, with only top-stitching done on the regular machine. I’m still not 100 per cent sure of my seam allowances on the overlocker but otherwise am much more confident in its use. I’m especially proud of the neckbands on these tops. The first time I made up this pattern I attached and unpicked and attached and unpicked the damn thing about five times, just not getting the hang of stretching it as I sewed. This time the neckband went on with the overlocker stitching, no worries.
I sorta kinda thought about pattern-matching when cutting the pieces, but there wasn’t a whole lot of leeway in where to place the pattern on the fabric. And then it turned out because the chevrons (or are they just zig-zags?) go up *and* down they don’t necessarily sew together easily on a straight seam anyway. If that makes sense. The end result was the pattern kinda sorta matches on one side and not at all on the other.
Now I’m trying to stop myself thinking how awesome t-shirt dresses are and sewing a bajillion – because that wouldn’t be filling a wardrobe gap, it would be over-saturating it!
I made another dress … is anyone surprised? Actually, the surprise with this one is it’s something I’d had planned for ages. Pretty much my whole work wardrobe consists of shift dresses so I thought I’d another stretch one to the mix.
The pattern is New Look 6144, view D. I’ve made this pattern before, in a loose-weave cream linen shot with metallic gold thread, as a day-after-the-wedding brunch dress. I really love that dress but dislike ironing linen so I don’t wear it that often. Upon discovering all the ponte knit goodness at Spotlight at the start of winter I had a vision of this pattern with some colour-blocking to make it a bit more interesting.
The new design lines were pretty basic – I just cut the blue part about 15cm shorter than the pattern and then cut the sleeves and bottom part of the skirt from the black. Simple.
The pattern is a pretty easy sew apart from the first few steps, where you make that tricky neck detail happen. It took me the best part of an hour to get it sitting so I was happy and I’m still not sure it’s 100 per cent the way it’s supposed to be. Halfway through all that frustration I had a flashback to a year previously and having the same difficulty the first time round. Maybe the instructions need better explaining.
Once you’ve got that part out of the way, though, it goes together very easily. I decided after cutting to eliminate the zipper (hooray for pull-on comfy dresses) and just sewed up a centre back seam. All the insides were finished on the overlocker, even though the knit doesn’t really need it, and the sleeves and bottom are roll-hemmed on the overlocker and hand stitched in place.
There are just two things holding me back from straight-out loving this dress, one minor and one major. Firstly, it confirms that I hate facings. Ugh, they just seem to flip up all the time and get in the way. I’ve understitched and stitched in the ditch on the shoulder seams and the raglan lines where the sleeves attach to the bodice and the facings still frustrate me. So after this, lined bodices only (a declaration which got me into trouble on my next project, of which more later).
Second is fit. The linen version is a touch too large for my liking (all that ease!) so, knowing more about patterns and using a stretch fabric, I carefully compared my body measurements to the finished garment measurements rather than the suggested size ones. I can’t remember if I cut one or two sizes down from the first version, but it was smaller. A good idea in theory. However, it’s turned out a bit too tight. I tried to combat that by wearing it to work with bigger-than-Bridget-Jones’-pants underwear but instead spent the whole day worried its rolling down top was showing through the dress. Not a great outcome.
I intend to persist with rotating it through my wardrobe but it might get pushed to the back if the tightness continues to make me feel uncomfortable. A shame, but you can’t win every time.