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S1201: The Machu Picchu Renfrew

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After my fun with the wearable practice Renfrew (thanks so much to ElleC for the info on how the dye reacts with the fibres! I love these kinds of info tidbits!) it was time for another. 

With so many trekking websites I researched prior to leaving extolling the virtues of wool (the superior wool of course, Merino – the kind that put New Zealand and Australia on the map early last century) I was happy to stock up. Wool is such an incredible fibre – it keeps you warm and lets your skin breathe – but unlike other natural fibres it doesn’t take on the smell of body odours or sweat, making it the ultimate friend to the weary traveller who doesn’t always get the option of a hot shower at the end of every day. ie, Me.

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I ended up buying quite a few wool things – super thick smartwool socks have been my favourite so far (yay for post-Christmas sales) but I also really wanted to take as many made-by-me things as time permitted me to make. And with Tessuti stocking gorgeous wool knit fabrics in prep for the upcoming winter, I had my work cut out for me (if only that was literally true!).

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I used a lightweight wool knit called ‘Merino State’ in artichoke, which is still available and also comes in a charcoal grey. It was actually the leftovers from this dress (sadly, still waiting for a hemming job) which is actually the very first fabric I ever bought! Crazy, non? The fact that I had exactly the right amount left from which to cut this top from was like it was meant to be. Athough I did have to cut the waistband in two parts, rather than on the fold… It’s quite a thin knit, but super soft and comfy.

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Again it was an absolute cinch to put together – easily under 3 hours of cutting out and sewing all up. The only change I made was to widen the shoulders by 1.5cm to get a better fit, as my previous Renfrew came up a bit small in that area (that’s me and not the pattern’s ‘fault’). But otherwise, this is such a great little top! And good thing too, because this Renfrew underwent the toughest of wear challenges – a gruelling 3 day hike to Machu Picchu.

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And Gruelling (with a capital G) is absolutely the right word for it. Although about 4 days before we did a 3 day hike in and out of Colca Canyon, and to be honest – that was WAY harder. Maybe I was just in hiking condition! Mr poppykettle, who happens to compete in Ironman’s and does upwards of 15 hours of training each week had been on my backside leading up to this trip to get in condition. I ignored him most the time but did do a bit of stairmaster at the gym whilst wearing in my hiking boots. It helped that I discovered there’s a football team that trains at my gym on weeknights and the stairmaster machines happened to give a fabulous view across the free-weights area… ahem.

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From Huayna Picchu Mountain – overlooking Machu Picchu

But this lightweight woolen renfrew held it’s end of the bargain – I wore it two days straight in very sunny and humid conditions, sweated bucket loads in it and when I finally took it off after wearily making our way back down the machu picchu hillside to our hostel for the night, it didn’t even smell like it had been worn. Honest!

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My only bone to pick with this top is that when I made it, it fit perfectly. Very much like the practice version, but of course a little wider in the shoulders. But looking at the pictures, it looks a little… loose? Not quite as fitted as I imagined. I’m putting this down to excessive amount of hiking, a killer of a stomach bug that had me living off Dulce de Leche and Sprite for a good 5 days, and the fact that the altitude seems to significantly reduce my desire to eat. I think I’ve lost 3 or 4 kg’s! in the last 3 weeks! Yikes. 

As far as action adventure clothing goes, this little Renfrew did the job. Before heading off I tried quite a few different knit tee patterns – this one is a winner in terms of ease (love the cuffs and hem!) and the fit ain’t bad. But I have another pattern that won my heart… location pictures to come soon, of course!

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Pattern Runway’s Sweet Shorts

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Isla Bartolome, Galapagos Islands

I came across these shorts from the little independant pattern maker Pattern Runway a while ago (I’m a certified Etsy-a-holic). Gorgeous, huh? And a fellow Aussie to boot! I made them up specifically to wear whilst we were visiting the Galapagos Islands. 

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Getting amorous with a Frigate Bird that hitched a ride on our boat
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The second I put them on my immediate thought was “ah, so that’s why she named them the sweet shorts!” They’re gorgeous! I’ll admit that I had my doubts when I bought this pattern – I thought it might be a case of they look lovely but could be a tad ridiculous on me in real life. How wrong I was. The second thought that came unbidden to me was “Hmmm, I wonder what they’d look like as pants…?”

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Usually I’m quite precious with clothing I’ve made – in my mind it’s always more delicate than RTW stuff! But I’m sure that’s mostly just a mindset because these shorts have been hiked in, afternoon-siesta-ed in, sweated in (oh, the insane humidity!), exposed to copious amounts of UV and zinc sunscreen, drenched in a torrential rain downpour and basically worn for 3 or 4 days straight. And they’re still alive! (the welt pockets suffered a bit after being rained on though).

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Single welt-pocket mere moments after completion

I used a pale blue japanese cotton with a printed white polka dot pattern, called ‘Sky Yuki Small’ from Tessuti. I wanted a bit of contrast too though – so used some of the leftover stretch yellow from my Caramel Slice Marfy to make some piping for the man-style pocket edges. I love the two fabrics together! 

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Single welt pocket slightly saggy post torrential downpour, and contrast pocket piping!

I’m still in shock that these shorts fit so well straight out of the packet in the areas that pants haven’t fit me well in the past. No bunching or smiling at the front crotch, it hugs your backside, the pockets make it so sitting in them is comfy and not-restrictive too! The fit is quite snug across your waist and hips, with a nice amount of leg room for ease of movement.

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The pattern has the front legs with an inverted ‘V’ shape and the length of the back legs are slightly longer in length. I particularly love the man-style pockets; it also has a side zipper, a waistband that sits at the waist and single welt pockets at the back. I wasn’t overly happy with the instructions for how to complete the single welts – so after a bit of research and trial-and-error, I did it my own way (you can see this here) which involved using one less piece than Pattern Runway would have you use.

I made two small changes – I reduced the amount of fabric at the back leg by taking out a dart to get a slightly closer fit around my thighs, and pinched out a bit of a gape underneath the front waistband by reducing the height of the front rise slightly.

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In addition to the instructions – I applied interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric along the scallop front and the hem at the back – this makes the edge crisp and also allowed me to effectively ‘blind hem’ the facing (or in normal cases – the hem) to the fabric. The japanese cotton is tightly woven so I didn’t want any puckers from errant hand stitches showing though. The interfacing takes care of this nicely.
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a Sally Lightfoot Crab

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The Galapagos Islands have been an incredible place to visit – the wildlife is plentiful and the animals aren’t afraid to get a closer look at you! I had a white-tipped reef shark swim about 1.5m away from me whilst snorkeling – it swam away completely disinterested before I had the chance to comprehend the situation! For those of you who aren’t familiar with their importance – these islands are the reason d’être for Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

Over many, many years – species of plant and animal have immigrated to the galapagos, most probably carried by the tides, or seeds which have been eaten by birds and pooped out on these islands. But because it is geographically isolated, over time the species of flora and fauna have evolved differently (to suit their living environment) to their cousins on the mainland.

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A sea lion nursing her pup

It’s also a pretty amazing place from a geologist’s perspective – there’s heaps of volcanic activity! We walked over cooled lava/magma flows that were just 200 years old!

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Mr poppykettle being cheeky with a bit of Volcanic Rock
(it doesn’t actually weigh much at all)

One last word on the shorts – what I really loved about this PDF pattern, is that the printed out pages have grid lines on them – which makes it a hell of a lot easier to match, rather than single match points. I’ve found that in the past the more pages you have to stick together, the more likely that after a few pages, they don’t match perfectly. The grid pretty much took care of that :) Thanks Pattern Runway!

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***NEWSFLASH***
Ok, So I’m most likely extremely late to the party on this – so I’m assuming  everyone seen the new Colette Patterns? LOVE! I’m so buying the Iris shorts the second I get back home. It kills me to think I still have to spend another 6 or so weeks apart from my sewing machine… then I remember I’m on holidays, and it ain’t so bad :P
 
Colette’s Iris shorts, via colettepatterns.com

101: Single Welt Pockets

 

I made a pair of shorts to take on holiday with me (check them out here!) – and they have cute single welt pockets on the back. The pattern’s instructions for these pockets were pretty easy to understand – but the result left me cold. I went searching through my books and online sources – and after a few different attempts using calico scraps, I came up with a result I was happy with.

This 101 is a bit long winded purely because I found from all of the examples I could get my hands on they glossed over parts I wished they’d had more information on! Here’s how I did it:

1. Apply your interfacing strip to the wrong side of your fabric, approximately centered over the location where your welt pocket will be.

 

2. Grab your welt, and draw the height and width of the welt pocket you want to end up with on both the interfacing and the welt on the ‘wrong’ side of the fabric. Mine in this case is 12cm long and 1.7cm wide. On the welt piece I’ve drawn the rectangle in approximately the upper third of the welt – I’ll show you why further on.

 

3. Pin the welt to the fabric, with the rights sides facing:

 

4. Sew along the upper and lower welt pocket lines in your shortest stitch – making sure your seam starts and stops exactly at the corner of the rectangle:


5. Take a sharp, pointy pair of scissors and cut a slit in the middle between the two seam lines just sewn:

 

Cutting through both layers of fabric (the garment and the welt piece), stop about 1.5-2cm short of each end to cut a fairly sizeable ‘Y’. Get as close to the corner and stitch line as you dare – the closer you get the better the end result:

 

6. Grab your iron and press the welt upwards on the lower seam:

 

and then down on the upper seam:

 

7. Push the welt pocket through the cut you made in step 5:

 

8. Turn over so the ‘wrong’ side is facing up, and press the welt top and sides (not the bottom) so that the seam line is just on the inside fold:

 

Then underneath the unpressed welt bottom seam – press open the seam here (it reduces bulk for the steps a bit further on):

 

9. Taking the larger portion of the welt that is underneath the lower seam – fold this up so that the fold meets the top of the welt pocket and press flat:

 

Drawing the welt’s rectangular outline in the top third of the welt piece allows us to make the welt out of a single piece of fabric, rather than making a window (similar to than in a bound button hole) and then using another fabric piece to make the welt. It will now look approximately like this from the front:

 

10. With the right side facing you like in the photo above, fold over the side to expose the welt pocket piece and the little interfaced triangle. Sew down and across the triangle – staying close to the original line you drew:

 

Then repeat on the other side.

11. Nearly there! Now we’ve finished the welt, it’s time to attach the pocket. This also helps to ‘stabilise’ the welt to minimise any sag. With the right side of the pocket facing down, line up the edge with the bottom of the welt. I’ve placed mine a bit higher so you can see the welt underneath:

 

Pin in place, making sure you include the bottom half of the pressed-open seam underneath. Then sew across all of this:

 

12. Iron the pocket bag back down:

 

13. I’ve cut my pocket bag long enough allowing me to fold it up so the other end aligns with the waist-band seam of the garment. This also helps to stabilise the welt and pocket bag.

 

14. Pin the pocket bag to the welt fabric, but not the garment fabric. Sew first to the top of the welt, making sure you include the trapezium-shaped interfaced fabric:

 

Then sew down the sides of the pocket bag:

 

When you sew on the waistband (or lining) the top of the pocket bag will be included in this seam, supporting both the pocket and the welt.

And we’re done!

 

The Fabric District in Quito’s old city

La Basilica, Quito’s Old City

Three things I have learnt during the last week and a bit in Ecuador:
1. Ecuadorians are a magnanimous bunch, ever ready with a smile and a willingness to try and make conversation with me and my phrase-book spanish. Thank goodness for American tourists willing to translate when all my attempts fail!
2. I hadn’t thought it physically possible for my skin to burn faster than it does. It would seem that being 3000m above sea level not only makes the impossible possible on this score – but makes it a 100% probability instead. Ouch.
3. Wool is an incredible fibre.

No, really! I could honestly go on and on extolling the virtues of wool and the increased role it has suddenly made within my (traveling) wardrobe. And I will be very soon…. but I won’t spoil the surprise :)

Quite by accident whilst wondering through the gorgeously colourful streets of Quito’s old city in Ecuador, My poppykettle and I stumbled upon the fabric district – located along Gabriel Garcia Moreno and Venezuala (both streets are parallel to each other) and also along Euguenio Espeja which connects the two.

Whilst the array of standard every day type fabrics wasn’t much to get excited about, the extensive array of tropical weight wool blew me away. 

I lump this down to the fact that Ecuadorian’s like to dress rather formally – the men wear suit jackets and pants almost exclusively. And that’s its consistently rather humid here too!

So with a lot of hand gesticulation and general confusion from both parties, I managed to buy this:

The purchase process was made even more difficult because the shop owners naturally wanted to know what I was going to make with it.

But this little bit of wool really brought home the importance of natural fibres to humankind across the ages. There are a huge amount of yarn shops here too – so obviously Ecuadorians like to knit! I’m holding out until we reach Peru so I can find some alpaca wool (although it’s actually classified as ‘hair’!) to join in on the fun.

It has come to my attention that a few people have nominated me for a variety of blog awards! Please know I eventually get around to posting about this :) I haven’t forgotten or ignored you!

Another massive thankyou for all your wonderful comments on my Lace-but-not-as-you-know-it Dress and my Vogue Suit. My access to internet has been severely curtailed and when I’ve finally managed to get online – it’s been painfully slooooow. Makes me realise exactly how much time I spend online, not to mention how far behind I am in reading all your blogs as well! So hopefully soon I’ll be able to reply to your comments and see what you’ve all been sewing!


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