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?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Kids pj sewing

I've decided that sewing kids pyjamas is a great way to gain experience and feel more confident sewing with knits... small pieces of stash fabric can be used (ie not precious pieces), and it doesn't matter if the finish isn't perfect as they're just going to be lounged in and worn to bed. The finished piece gets worn lots and children stay warm - win win!



On a bit of a roll recently I made my boy a pair out of this cute woodland animal print jersey from Spotlight. It's has a really nice soft feel and good stretch & recovery. For the top I used the Oliver & S Filed Trip raglan t-shirt pattern. I bought this recently thinking it would be great for all 3 kids for both tshirts and pj tops (and more - show you later) and it also appealed that the pattern goes up to size 10, which shoud do us for a while. And the pants are based on the Sleeping Johns pattern from Growing up Sew Liberated. They are basically just loose leggings with an elastic waist and cuffs at the ankles.



He's such an easy kid, loves everything I make for him (at the moment!! Guess I should enjoy this while it lasts ;-). He loves these and I love seeing him warm in his mama mades.

 

I also made my girls nighties, you can see one on my middley above. For this I used my much-used Made by Rae Flashback Skinny tee, which I lengthened and flared out to an A-line shape.

In all I've made about them about 2 new sets each and been able to finally throw away those tatty, stretched and stained old pjs (why did I not do this ages ago?!). My stretch sewing is definitely looking neater and I can whip around cuffs and hems pretty quickly now, which is useful. I'm even starting to get my preferred ways of sewing things which I'm hoping to use on future projects. I love how it's also opened my imagination up to how I can adapt patterns.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Burdastyle asymmetric jacket

Hi! I've been completely immersed in organising a fundraising event at my kids' school for the past few weeks and though I thought of this little space often, it's been totally neglected... along with the just about everything else! I'm glad to be back :-)



OK, Burdastyle Asymmetric Jacket. Now firstly I should apologise for the extremely ahh lived in look of this jacket. All those wrinkles and creases are from all the wear it's had since I made it a couple of months ago (and have been meaning to blog ever since), which shows that I'm getting a lot of use from this garment, which has got to be a measure of success!



I like the challenge of sewing something reasonably complicated now and then, and this one had a few challenges for me, but I've got to say that I don't think Burdastyle patterns (or least this one) are the patterns to learn from as the instructions are so brief. A certain amount of knowledge is presumed, and this one's difficulty rating is 'Intermediate', which I'd consider myself to be, but when you come across a technique you haven't tried before, like the sleeve openings, you get no help at all to explain it - no drawings or detailed explanantions. I know lengthy descriptions of each step annoy some sewers, but for me I'd rather have that and be able to skip it rather than not have it at all. Anyway, it all turned out OK but I just fudged my way through those sleeves in the end.



The other thing I'm not fond of with Burdastyle is the lack of seam allowance on the patterns. I'm just not used to it and find it hard work. But I did get through it, needless to say I was pretty happy when the pattern printing/cutting/sticking/tracing stage was over! The base calls for a magnetic snap, which my kids laugh at each time it sticks to the car ;-). This makes the front hem sit well. I didn't add the button to the top inside flap as called for in the pattern but it seems to sit OK without it. I also haven't added buttons to the sleeves as I couldn't find what I wanted... hopefully one day! Another thing I clearly didn't understand properly was the lining pleat in the back seam, which seemed hopelessly small, as it's split! So some maintenence is required!

Having had my whinge I now want to say though how much I love this jacket :-) The style is lovely with all its little darts and shaping. I love the asymmetric opening, and like wearing it open, closed and half open. It's extremely versatile, warm but lightweight and just very wearable (hence all those wrinkles ;-)



I used a mid weight deep blue linen bought at The Fabric Store which I'd stashed away waiting for the perfect project, and lined it with an ordinary lining fabric (also from the stash - yay, stash busting!). And I found a heavy weight metal zip, which I think adds weight and a nice touch to the softness of the linen. I'm almost wishing I'd interfaced the lapels/front sections as the linen is sluming a bit as it relaxes and softens, but I think that's part of the beauty of linen.



Also I deviated from the pattern by adding pockets to the front seams. I had almost finished the outer jacket when the niggle in my mind got too loud "you'll want pockets!!" and I had to listen to it! I wanted them to be reasonably hidden and flush with the front so as not to add bulk, and they work pretty well, and are certainly used well.

So, apart from a few things that annoyed me with the pattern, a great jacket! And a great addition to my wardrobe. Have you tried Burdastyle patterns? Love the style but don't love the pattern details? Or is it just me!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

MMM findings: trousers needed!

Well, I had good intentions for posting here weekly on my Me Made May progress, but in the end it all seemed too hard and too time consuming (I blame Instagram for making me blog-lazy ;-) So if you're interested please have a look over to the right there at my instagram feed to see what I've been wearing.

The month is almost over now, and as with last year it's been fun (mostly!) and revealing too. My findings:

1. As the weather has been so pleasently warm aside from the first week, I've had plenty of wear from my light short sleeved tops. Next summer I must make some more, they're so easy and wearable.

2. May is a bad month for dress wearing for me. I guess it's just because the weather is too cool for summery dresses but not cold enough for thick tights (which I love). And I've also lost my enthusiasm for my knee high boots, though my Fly London ankle boots are getting loved to death at the moment ;-) On day 16 I loved wearing my Moss Mini with opaques, and my denim Simplicity 2226 got a look in on day 20, but apart from that the only other dress that got a look in was a self drafted dress worn for a night out on day 24. So...

3. More pants needed! I basically live in jeans most of the time. My lifestyle at this time in my life requires very casual clothes. I did wear my Tamanegi-kobo Black Spinel trousers several times (unblogged), but apart from that it was all RTW on the jeans front. I've resisted trying to sew jeans in the past but I'm coming around to the idea, especially after seeing other lovely versions around the blogs.

Top contenders on the pattern front are:



Named Jamie Jeans. They seem to have a cult following... must be a good pattern!



Burdastyle Floral skinny jeans (but not in floral), I've also seen some lovely versions of these around (though can't say I'd be thrilled to tackle another pattern without seam allowances again in the near future. Grrr)


Burdastyle Anita jeans. Nice. And look, seam allowances INCLUDED!



and I also like the Named Alpi Chinos for their classic styling

Any recommendations welcome!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tova with modifications

I've had a design for a blouse in mind for ages... loose but flattering, with gathers, cap sleeves, a gently curved hem and some interesting details. When I couldn't find a pattern like it I decided to give it a go myself.



The closest design I could think of was the Wiksten Tova so I started with that and modified it.

Firstly I modified the sleeves, as I did on this one to be capped, then did a circular cut-out, binding around it and tieing a bow.



Then for the back I seperated the pattern horizontally along the shoulders so that it made a yoke, added width to the lower piece and gathered it in the centre.

I also modified the collar to be smaller, cropped a few inches off the hem of the pattern and the curved the sides, making the back slightly lower than the front.



The fabric is one of the lovely Japanese lawns from Spotlight that I've been enjoying using lately. It's really soft to wear and washes well too. I love the cute design, and the dusty pink with the little splashes of blue on the birds is really sweet.



In hindsight I don't think I needed the gathers at the back, they make it a bit pouffy. But overall I'm pretty happy with this top. It's easy to wear and a nice change from t-shirts. And the loose fit and drape go well with skinny jeans.
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