Saturday, December 27, 2014

Modified Zippy Top

Hello and happy holidays! I hope you're enjoying the festive season and getting in some sewing/crafting time ;-)

I seem to have a pattern crush on the See Kate Sew Zippy Top at the moment, I've made 3 for myself and 2 for the recent school fete, with plans afoot for 2 more! What I love about it is the simple shape, lovely neckline and sleeves and the scope for adaptation.



This is my latest one, a slighlty more dressy version. I think it's the fabric that really makes this version. Last time I was at mylocal thrift shop a garment caught my eye - I don't tend to shop for clothes at the thrift shop (or anywhere else) these days but I do go looking for fabric to upcycle. The garment was a large kaftan type top from H&M in polyester. My kids say this is my zebra top :-) but I think it looks like a lovely watercolour landscape painting, or something like that. No matter what, I really like it.



I unpicked the existing seams to get maximum area and cut out my pieces as usual. This time I omitted the zip as the fabric is very light weight and delicate and I thought the weight of the zip and facing might pull it out of shape. Also the neckline is wide enough to comfortably go over the head without an opening. I simply turned over the edges of the neckline and armholes twice and sewed a small hem. I wouldn't normally do this as I find it can look messy but in this very sheer fabric and with the busy print it worked fine. I also did my usual length for the hem - I found the crop length too short but the other length too long to be flattering for me so I went in between.



As a decorative element I slightly gathered the shoulder seam and added ties (repurposed from the original top). I really love this type of detail and the extra touch it adds without too much effort.



I really like this version of the pattern. I've worn it with these grey/black jeans but I can also picture it with my favourite black stretch satin cigarette pants for a more dressy evening.

Do you have a pattern crush at the moment? Do tell!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Summer sewing : : jersey maxi skirt

I've been wanting a maxi skirt or two to add to my summer wardrobe, for those days when you know, you don't feel like having to be careful when you bend over, or maybe your legs need attention (or 'deforesting' as a friend used to say :-). I'd been thinking about the Sewaholic Gabriola but knew I would labour over the details of that pattern... what I wanted was a quick and easy project.



Trawling through my knits stash I found a quite fluid and lovely navy blue jersey-type fabric. I'm not sure where I got it, possibly my Melbourne trip with Deb earlier in the year. The GJs $2p/m and $4p/m tables were great for fabric to experiment on. Then I found a tutorial online to use as a base and kind of winged it from there (I can't seem to find the tutorial again, sorry, but there are plenty if you Google 'jersey maxi skirt tutorial').



The shape is essentially just an exaggerated A line sewn onto a yoga-style waistband. No closures or fussing, taking advantage of the stretch and drape of the fabric.

Yoga style waistbands really appeal to me as they're so comfy and also add a bit of reassuring stability to delicate or flowy fabrics. To further the safety aspect I added a row of wide elastic into the inner waistband (under the yoga band as you can sort of see below) - when my kids were smaller I had several alarming incidents with clothes where I almost had a loose skirt pulled down, loose top pulled up etc and it has left me not wanting to take any chances!!



And just a note about styling my skirt... I  knew the loose shape would suit a fitted or slimline top, but nothing I tried looked right. I tried the Wiksten tank above, untucked as I always do, but that wasn't structured enough - then a funny thing happened where a bit of the hem got caught in the skirt waist and I had an 'ah ha' moment - tucked looked sooo much better, even though I never wear things tucked (well I do now :-). I love lessons like this where you are forced to deviate from what you normally do and go out of your comfort zone. I think this old dog has learnt a new trick ;-)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Tween sewing

Several years ago I made my eldest girl a Sophie Tunic from Sisboom as a sun/beach cover-up. She's loved it and worn it to death but for a while now it's been way too small and she's been asking for an update. So when we were in a fabric store together recently I asked her to pick out a new fabric. She chose this lovely Cloud 9 printed cotton (proud mother moment ;-)

I think this is a great style for kids, not too cutesy or fussy and easy to wear. The fabric was lovely to work with and the top came together well and easily. If anything I find the Sisboom patterns a bit over-explained but then I guess that makes sure newbie sewers are covered.

The only change I made was to add sleeve tabs.  The tab pattern is from my Make it Perfect Shearwater Kaftan pattern, which is like a grown-up version of the Sophie tunic. Make it Perfect now also have a little girl 'mini' version of the Shearwater, but as I already had the Sisboom pattern I thought I'd better save my pennies and re-use it. Don't you love kids patterns with a large range of sizes!

I also made her some new shorts, which happen to go reasonably well with the shirt. The pattern is Dana from Madeit's Shorts pattern, which is a great basic, especially for someone with a few kids to clothe - the sizing goes from 12 months to 10 years and Dana includes lots of tutorials for variations on her website/ It's one of those patterns where I wondered whether I should draft them myself, but really, for $8 you get all of those sizes already drafted, and who doesn't like to support the lovely indie designers. This is the 4th pair of shorts I've made from this pattern and I'm sure there will be many more.

For these I used a piece of black linen with some stretch my my stash, redesigned the front to add sewn in pockets (easy to do if you've sewn pockets before) and added 2 large decorative buttons.

She likes the whole outfit so we're both happy :-)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Tessuti Alice top

I had one of those rare reactions to seeing a new pattern recently: I wanted to buy and make it immediately! Tessuti's new Alice Top & dress pattern was the culprit.



I made a shameless copycat version, though my fabric is just a plain old cotton (from a thrifted doona/duvet cover) rather than the fine linen of the sample. The drape is not quite as nice but it's the same thin blue and white stripe and I love it :-)



This is my first Tessuti pattern and I enjoyed making it. The instructions were easy to understand and thorough, and the top went together well. I've always loved smock tops (either when pregnant or not!)and this one has a lovely armhole detail too. I made the size small with no alterations apart from shortening it, though in hindsight I think I was a bit over enthusiastic and next time will leave a few more centimetres in length.



I'm thinking this top will be a real workhorse over spring and summer and can definitely see myself making more, though I don't think I'll try the dress, as anything sack-like tends to swamp me and my shapeless legs poking out of the bottom look a bit ridiculous ;-)

But now I really need to get onto sewing some trousers, as I'm sadly lacking! I'm thinking Spit up and Stilettos' Emma Pant (previously known as Sewloft - have you seen their patterns are free now? Such an amazing thing to do), or a woven pair of Hudson Pants... I really should make both, it's getting too hot here for jeans. What's on your list at the moment?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Another new bag and a mini Maximus cowl

It was that time again recently - time to make a new bag - and an idea had been brewing in my head for a while...

Usually my bags wear out with use, but this time the old one was still going but just didn't have the functionality I needed. You see we're going on a trip, and as much as I like the previous bag, the fact that I can't use it messenger style accross my body drives me mad. Especially when I'm walking any distance or when I'm wearing my minoru jacket - something about that jacket (maybe the big collar and raglan sleeves?) makes bags fall off my shoulder - grr!

After making so many bags (there are a stack to see if you're interested under the 'bag' category over on the right there >) I've come to know what's useful for me personally, so this time around I had a pretty tight list of practical requirements:
Something that could be worn messenger style...



Or on the shoulder...



With internal pockets for pen, phone, lip balm etc, ...



A key fob inside is handy and so is a zip pocket, and also an external zip pocket to quickly stuff keys into on the run.



Regarding the look of the bag I wanted something quite utilitarian looking but with some nice details. As I knew what I wanted I didn't use a pattern but made it by cutting a simple rectangular shape with cut away corners (not sure what the proper name for that is?) to give a hobo bag feel.



I used an old thrifted leather belt for the strap. I can't remember where I got the idea from, but I cut the belt while it was buckled and then attached each end to a side, handstitching it on with hemp thread. I hope it holds! Must remember not to carry any heavy kid water bottles in it! Using a belt sounds a bit naff and gimmicky but I think it comes off OK and does the job, plus adds the slight bit of grunge I was after. I do like a bit of grunge :-)



I had a great piece of grey linen I wanted to use for the outer, and even though it is cool toned and the belt is warm I thought they went together nicely, and decided to accentuate the warm/cool thing by adding brown taped zips (with silver coloured metal teeth) and brown toned fabric inside. It sounds like a lot of navel gazing but I really love experimenting and putting all the little details together :-)



All the materials I used are from my stash (yay stash busting!), some things I'd been hoarding for ages. I always cut off zips, buckles, buttons, sliders etc when I throw away an old bag (or whatever) and just put them away for another day. It's so satisfying being able to use them up one day, and feels great to not have to go out and buy yet more stuff, which is the positive side to stash hoarding I guess. And a friend recently gave me the inside fabric which I love (hello H if you happen to be reading! And thank you!).



The cowl I'm wearing here (note the warm/cool thing with the cowl & briar too :-) is the Maximus pattern from Chic Knits. I'm calling it my mini maximus because I ran out of wool and so it's smaller than the pattern specifies. It was such an enjoyable knit, on big needles, very quick and satisfying, if you're looking for a project I'd recommend it.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Winter Everyday Skirt

It's spring here now - yay! - and my thoughts have turned to spring/summer sewing projects, but I still have some winter sewing projects to show. This simple little skirt is the Everyday Skirt from Liesl + Co.



I had been wanting to add a winter skirt to my wardrobe and when I saw this pattern I thought it would be a quick, satisfying sew, which it was. It's similar to Simplicity 2226 which I love, but a bit simpler as it doesn't have a zip. In case you haven't seen this pattern before, it is a simple construction, the front is gathered below the waistband and has elastic in the back of the waist.



It has Liesl's typical fantastic instructions and beautiful drafting. Her patterns really are so professional and a joy to sew. I love the pockets and it's so comfy to wear. The only change I made was to raise the hem as it was feeling a bit frumpy and wasn't draping well, and I'll always wear this with tights.



The fabric I used is to be honest probably not ideal for this skirt - it's quite a heavy wool and doesn't sit as nicely as something with a bit more drape would. You can see from the pic above that it's a bit bunchy around the elastic at the back. But it's OK and I'm certainly getting quite a bit of wear out of it.


I bought the fabric back in autumn on sale from The Fabric Store (I think it was about $8 a metre). I loved the colour and thought that the metallic threads running through it looked OK, but when I grabbed the fabric back out of my stash for this skirt I thought the metallic thread jarred with the style and made it looked a bit cheap. So I started to pull the threads out one by one, it took a while but was quite cathartic really! I got some funny looks at kid activities as I dragged it around with me for a few days pulling a few out here and there, ending up with a pile of metallic threads on my knee each time. You might just be able to see the glint of the threads in the pics above (the pockets didn't get the treatment).

For summer I'm looking forward to making a couple of these in lightweight linens or cottons. Be sure to check out all of the lovely versions in the Flickr group.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Merino(ish) Coco dress

This winter I am sooo loving using and wearing wool. It is such a fantastic fibre, I could go on about it all day ;-) I have a blog post in mind based on my little experiments using wool, but for now I thought I'd show you my very latest project involving wool, this Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress...

I first found this fabric in a dark grey/khaki colour last year at The Fabric Store (my mecca for all fabrics merino) and used it to make a pair of Black Spinel pants. The fabric has 2 way stretch, making it great for pants, and I have worn them to death over winter, they're so soft, warm and comfy and a little edgy too. They don't bag at the knee and wash and wear beautifully. It's hard to describe the fabric - it's like a ponte (or 'sharkskin?') on the right side, very smooth and with a slight sheen, but then a loopy terry on the reverse. I guess the terry is the merino and the right side is something synthetic, as surely you can't get that finish with wool?!

So when I found some more of it in the recent sale I snapped it up. And at only $8 per metre (and 150cm wide) it was a bargain! The only problem was that the colour was a little crazy - it's sort of a deep teal blue with that sheen. I thought it would be OK for another pair of pants... but I got cold feet and decided to try it for the Coco. I reasoned that the simple lines and shape of the dress would balance the crazy colour.

I decided the dress would benefit from some subtle detail to keep it from looking too basic (it's a fine balance in my opinion!) and I knew from the Black Spinels that the fabric top stitched beautifully, so I added a decorative seam horizontally on the chest and also two seams on the sleeves. I considered pockets but am still deciding on that, it's a detail that can be added later I think.

The only other change I made to the pattern was to take in the side seams from the wrist right down to the hip to give it a more fitted look. Which maybe means I should have used a different size, but with knit fabrics I like being able to tailor the final fit around my curves and also each fabric behaves differently depending on stretch.

I'm pretty happy with the dress. I need to think about how to style it (don't think I've done the best job here), but again thinking of balance I'm inclined to team it with natural fibres - here with wool tights, cotton scarf and wool cardigan - to offset the synthetic sheen of the fabric's finish.

Have you come across any crazy fabrics lately? And are you a wool addict too?

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