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S1302: Mix’n’Match Tofino’s

Time for something easy to sew, thank you very much – there was a time not so very long ago I thought that if I even sewed a cushion cover in the next year, that would be too much, too soon. Couture techniques and hand sewing have been (temporarily) banished from the realm… and lets not even talk about this new law being 1 garment too late!

These are the Sewaholic Tofino pj pants, and there were gasps of shock at Social Sewing when I asked to use one of several overlockers hauled to GJs for sewing with on the day…. I’d honestly forgotten such a machine even exists!

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I’ve got a fair bit of Liberty in my stash, but criminally – I’ve yet to sew with hardly any of it. I got these gorgeous prints from Mill Rose in Ballan – they have easily the biggest range of Liberty I’ve EVER seen in person. They have virtually every print, in every colour way, on the shelf and readily available for petting. It’s worthy of a bit of hyperventilation. The front tie and the piping are from silk satin from the stash – there was the perfect amount of silk leftover from the cuffs on my silk robe, which matched wonderfully.

Crazy how here the silk looks like a dirty yellow... but more lime green on my robe!

I absolutely adore this print/colour combo. Crazy how here the silk looks like a dirty yellow… but more lime green on my robe!

Were it not for the fact that Sewaholic patterns are designed for a body shape that I’m very definitely not, that would probably be the end of this post. However, there was two full sizes between my hip and waist measurements. Really, I should have just bought a Vogue/McCalls pj pattern, but hey – I got caught up in the hype back when this was released and bought this against my better judgment. I’m sure I’m not the only person to have ever done that…

So because old habits die really, really hard (or in my case, not at all) – I wearable muslined them in a super cute cherry blossom print flannelette, with pink piping. Here they are, in a straight size 8 which according to the Sewaholic Size Table, I match from the hips down (I measured a 12 at the waist):

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Desperate need for a Flat Butt Adjustment going on there. I think that photo just put to bed my life long dream of being a professional pyjama-bottom modeller!!! hehe.

Ahem. For my liking there is way too much baggy space at the back, and the wide-leg just a tad too wide for my shape.

So a few adjustments were in order.
– I shortened the leg length by a ridiculous number of inches (I did that before I cut the flannelette ones)
– I removed the widening taper of the side panel, so they are straight up and down (rather than getting slightly larger towards the ankle)
– I reduced leg width by taking out fabric from the seam between the side panel and the pants back… around about 4 inches all up. Probably about an inch too much, really. This simultaneously made the leg a little slimmer and fixed my need for a Flat Butt Adjustment.

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Confession time – so I may have lied a little about the overlocker thing. I overlocked the side seams of my cutesy flannelette pj pants… but I totally frenched the seams on my liberty pj pants. Guilty as charged.

I did a quick test on some scraps to make sure it would work with the piping in it – no dramas there so I moved on. It should be stated that making your own piping is boring prospect. I’d buy over DIY if you can!

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I think the amount of rise on these pants is just about perfect.

The instructions would have you tie your tie around the two non-functional button holes sewn into the waist band. I reinforced my buttonhole then ended up sewing the silk tie to that reinforced section so it can’t be lost in the wash.

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If I were to make these again, I would not sew the two tie pieces together, and instead sew them to my waistband reinforcing on the opposite side of the buttonhole… so there is zero strain on the buttonhole, like you see below. It’s a pretty long tie and has a surprising amount of weight to it.

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Otherwise, I now have three perfectly good pairs of lounge-about-the-house pants, doubling as pyjama pants when I need to stay overnight somewhere. Because I’m one of those people that would rather take the risk of getting caught out if there’s ever an emergency in the middle of the night…

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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!

S1201: Renfrew and an experiment with dye

After travelling from the top of the northern hemisphere to the bottom of the southern hemisphere – please welcome Sewaholic’s Renfrew top! 

This pattern makes mince meat of the simple knit tee we all love to purchase, rather than make ourselves. I feel like Tasia and I are on the same wavelength as we both like to use bands to finish off our hems and the like! This top will be fabulous for relaxing about chez poppykettle. If and when I come across a funky knit print, I’ll definitely make it up again.

This one is made up in a rather boring cream knit pulled from a dark and foreboding stack of fabric bolts at Lincraft. I’m calling this a wearable muslin because whilst I like the top, I ain’t in love with the fabric. But that was the point of this exercise – as I was intending it to be a bit of a canvas… I’ve seen on Carolyn‘s and Dixie‘s blogs their recent foray into the world of iDye – and like a 3-year-old who sees another 3-year-old with a lollypop – I wanted to try too! Grosgrain also has a fab post on fabric/notion dying.

Every single craft/fabric shop I went into didn’t have iDye, but instead Rit Dye or Dylon. I’ll admit, I was sucked in by Dylon’s pretty packaging. They also come in small quantities (50g and the larger 100g). I ended up purchasing the washing machine dye ‘Intense Violet':

Problem with this fabric is… I had no-idea what it’s content was. So a recon mission back to Lincraft it was. Turns out it was a cotton blend (97%) knit, and according to the dye instructions, non-natural fibre blends (they recommend at least 65% natural fibre) would come up slightly lighter than indicated on the packet. I was willing to deal with that.

This 100g sachet says it can dye 500g of fabric to the intended colour, or 1kg of fabric to a lighter shade of fabric. As my little Renfrew only weighed 150g, obviously I needed a lot less dye, requiring a small ratio calculation:

100g of dye   =      ?g dye  .
500g fabric        150g fabric

?g dye = [100g / 500g] x 150g

?g dye = 30g

So I needed just 30g of dye. The result? You’ll see it matches the little colour circle inside the ‘O’ on the front of the packet (There’s a bigger colour chart on the back):

Next time I make it, I’ll probably widen the upper bodice piece a little, to account for my b-r-o-a-d shoulders (at least, they are according to every pattern I make). The dyed result is nice, but it’s not something I’m going to climb a mountain to scream about from the summit for all and sundry to hear. I’m not sure it’s possible to get vibrantly bright colours from a homestyle dye. 

You can see that the colour is … flat? One dimensional? Either way, the colour my cotton tee turned is all but identical to the colour indicated on the back of the dye. You could get a darker result by increasing the ratio of dye to fabric weight, or by re-dyeing again. 

Not surprisingly, the polyester white thread I used to overlock the seams (after I’d basted them together to check for fit) didn’t turn violet – more a dirty off-white. So if you’re wanting to dye a synthentic, make sure you choose from the non-natural fibre dye range. 

You’ll be pleased to know that there was no dye fallout in my washing machine – it all washed away!

Like my new steampunk brass bits necklace? Then check out Urbandon’s Etsy shop. Or his blog. Either one is equally cool.