V1247: Romance Is Born… & Frocktails!

My goodness, the weather has been completely against me ever getting photos of this new wardrobe addition. But with Frocktails on Saturday – I really had no excuse. I was going to wear this dastardly silk top out for the first time, dammit!

I’m not usually one for floaty, formless garments, but this Rachel Comey one has been on the radar for a loooong time. There are just too many amazing versions out there on the interwebs not to be sucked in. What better time to try a completely new-to-me garment style than the here and now?

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Actually, I lie. I decided to try my hand at a shapeless, flowy garment because I’m currently halfway through being pregnant, and it seemed like an appropriate time to try a new form… Obviously when I made it there wasn’t anything sticking out, but I had rather intended to be able to wear it once the warmer weather decided to show up!

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Pretty unimpressive for a 20 week bump, really. My jeans are held together with a hair tie but.

I bought this pattern a loooong time ago… well before I realised from PR reviews that you really do need to size down at least 2 sizes. I understand that it’s supposed to be a baggy top, but really? There is good baggy and then there is bag baggy. I am usually a Vogue 14-ish, so ideally needed the 10. I had to cut the 12 though due to the size range on the pattern I had.

After I made a muslin – in which I made a fair few changes – giving shape to the straight centre back seam, taking in the side seams to mirror the waist curve I had at the time, and lengthened the hem slightly – I was really quite pleased with the result. I was definitely tempted to overhaul it to make it more form fitting, but I managed to resist. I’m not sure if it’s because of the interesting seaming, or because it still looks like it holds some shape, but I have a real affinity for this top – even though I’m moderately ambivalent about how it looks on me.

I do love that it’s the perfect opportunity to bust out the lightweight silks, which I am so easily tempted into buying but never really have a ‘practical’ outlet for.

I deliberated for a loooong time over whether or not to use the fabric that you see here. I had originally bought it with a dress in mind (I even have a matching chiffon) and breaking from that mindset was hard. Definitely the right decision though, as this top will get infinitely more worn and appreciated than had I sewed a dress for a formal occasion.

It’s a silk charmeuse with the kind of soft, painterly pattern that I never fail to fall hard for.

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Whilst I sewed the muslin in the ‘normal’ way (1.5cm seam allowances) – I just don’t think you can get the best result when sewing with silk in this fashion. Especially on those bias seams. Especially not on my base level Janome, which loves nothing more than making a dog’s breakfast out of lightweight silks. So for the real thing I did ‘my normal’ of what I guess is often called couture methods – seam lines marked and no specific seam allowance. It’s also underlined in white silk crepe de chine, which carried the seam line and pattern markings, but which also has the dual function of ensuring this top is utterly opaque. You’d never know if I was wearing a fluoro bra underneath this puppy. And as I love brightly coloured underthings, this works well for me.

The crepe de chine underlining does probably make it slightly less flowy that many other makes I see on PR and Burdastyle (especially the chiffon ones!), but I don’t mind it as it is. If anything, I feel a bit more ‘secure’ in it!

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Otherwise, I mostly followed the instructions for this pattern – they’re really quite adequate. Except I handstitched the neckline facing down to the crepe de chine underneath (another genius reason for underlining – avoiding topstitching on tricky fabrics!).

Also – I sewed this top together in 2.5 days straight (I did all the cutting and thread basting prep work before hand – you know I’m uber slow, right?) at a 4 day sewing getaway with a bunch of fabulous sewists I go to social sewing with. Turns out my patience for french seams and slow sewing has a very finite limit, which is clearly visible here:

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Usually I sew in spurts and chunks – 15min and a seam here and there. But locked away at a ‘quilting retreat‘ with no life interruptions for four days straight tested my fancy seam-finished resolve. With access to overlocker, I caved.

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In other sewing news, I finished my second French Jacket (for mum) in late July which has been sent off to Queensland. Plus I’m nearing completion of that Marfy Jacket I showed you the muslin of – and I’m loving it to bits. Then I’m really going to have to get stuck into some maternity sewing!

I’ll leave you with some (sadly, rather over-exposed) photos from Frocktails – so much self-sewn fabulousness! 51 ladies from Australia’s east coast AND New Zealand joined in the fun – we had a private function space at Collins Quarter and a signature cocktail which was named the ‘Seam Ripper’ (Gin based, of course. I was devastated to not be able to partake!). It was an amazing night and I’m already looking forward to the next one!

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Hello, Strangers!

“Hi, my name is Melanie, and it’s been 6 months since I last posted”.

Yep, and about 5 of that have had zero chances to sew. But – our unlivable house is now moderately livable. Sort of. Still a lot of work to do! But the last month has had some productive sewing in it, culminating in a seasonally inappropriate top that is very different to my usual style. I do really love it though. Photos just as soon as I find my missing camera battery charger, and brave the cold! (Some sunshine might be nice too, but I wouldn’t want to be too demanding or anything…)

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Just a little seam matching perfection…

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I’ve also been working on the French Jacket for my mum. I originally thought having it done for her birthday in early May would has been SO achievable. But that didn’t quite work out, so the new delivery date has been set for early August. Better get my skates on…

Because I’ve also started sewing a new jacket (for me). Marfy 3022!

F3022 SS 2014-15 Jacket

The muslin for it is getting me very excited. Even with no adjustments I really love the proportions. Having been out of sewing practise for so long, and also because this pattern had a rather tricky looking dart/pocket configuration – I went to a lot more effort than I normally would in a muslin.

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But that’s all come to a screaming halt, because my usual size 46 is a little on the snug side. After many months of intensive renovating, with a non-functional kitchen and limited time – a continuous succession of bad dietary choices (and an underactive thyroid!) have left me about 6kg’s heavier than at the beginning of the year. So I’m deciding whether to buy the Size 48, or make it as the 46 as by the time I finish it, it will be Spring and I should be back to normal by then. Decisions…

Regardless, it’s so lovely to be back and sewing!!

 

Style Arc Cyd

Style Arc: A Zimmermann Cyd

And back to normal blog programming! My goodness, it feels like it’s been forever… not to mention I’ve had a seriously sloooow start in getting back to normal sewing. I’m enjoying taking things at a more relaxing, non pressured pace.

I’ve always browsed the Style Arc website and been pleasantly surprised at the awesome range of patterns – especially because they’re all things you’d expect to see in a clothes shop. Wonderfully everyday style stuff. But nothing had quite pushed me over the point to make a purchase… until I saw the Cyd Top.

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The (woven!!) style lines are utterly fabulous, and it was kinda awesome to buy a pattern online that was both in Aussie dollars AND sizing.

Another love of mine is an Aussie clothing company called Zimmermann – I’ve watched their collections evolve over the years since they came about as a swimwear brand and I’ve always seen many things I’ve loved.

Also, I would probably be willing to commit acts of physical violence to get my hands on their fabrics. (Not really).

I was in one of their shops late last year because that collection was the first that they’ve expanded their swimwear to fit C/D cup sizes (took them bloody long enough). I of course bought some new bathers because we were about to head to the Philippines for a week of beach R&R with friends on Boracay Island (which was amazing).

Also, whilst in there I noticed they had their scarves on sale, so I bought three with the idea of including the fabric in a top of some kind.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this pattern – it’s a totally new to me company. The pattern was well marked up, with both the seam lines AND the seam allowance lines marked, and match points that made perfect sense in their placement. No bust point or waist/hip point marker though.

I’m a sucker for ‘interesting design lines’, so when I saw those exact words printed on the line drawing, I laughed out loud!

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Style Arc’s are single size patterns – I bought the size that corresponds to the largest part of my body – the shoulders. That was a size 12. It was true to size, and accordingly I did end up taking it in at the waist as from that point downwards I match the size 10 measurements there.

I glanced over the instructions and they certainly meet their reputation of being pretty lousy, but I never intended to use them anyway. They did have a handy picture of what the inside seams of the top front looks like, which does help with construction. If you’ve made a princess seam top with facings before and you lay the pattern pieces flat in order, it’s quite simple to see what the construction process should be otherwise.

Even once I’d unpicked the seams of my scarves, I didn’t quite have quite enough length to get the full thing cut from the floral fabric. So after I’d muslined it, I played around with some curvy lines to make it a bit more interesting and simultaneously take care of the fabric shortage.

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Thank you, harsh overcast winter lighting, for making the smallest of creases incredibly obvious.

You’ll note not a single piece is in that scarf fabric from top to bottom! This required a bit more work in ‘walking the seam lines’, prep and sewing to make sure everything would match up, but it was totally worth it. Of course, I had zero space to play with pattern matching, so getting the same print on two of the back pieces kinda sucked.

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A very good friend of my gifted me some 30 year old cream crepe de chine, which was intended for lining my Wedding Dress. For various reasons I didn’t end up lining that, so this is it both providing the lining, the contrast and the underlining for this top – the scarf fabric is quite sheer.

And that’s where it got a little tricky. That crepe is utterly see through, so I decided to line just the white parts. Lining the entire top would have been possible but tricky due to the shapes of the pleats and flounces at the front, but what I should have done is a full lining a the back and a top-half lining at the front. I’d already cutout the pieces when I realized this, so the inside of the top is over-engineered in the extreme.

It looks pretty, though. And I did enjoy all the fell stitching.

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Were it not for the sheer crepe, I would have just stuck with the facings (or better yet, drafted an all in one facing). I used bias to finish the section of the armscye that didn’t have the cap sleeve sewn to it.

During muslin stage I moved the centre back zip to be a side zip, mostly because it’s just easier to get dressed that way. That doesn’t work well at all because of the fabric volume at the hem, so it was back in the centre back seam for the final version! This is quite possibly the best invisible zip I’ve ever done.

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I do really love this top, and how flouncy it is depends on the fabric you sew it with. Sewing with a cotton twill like Novita did – you get wonderful body. My fabrics are softer, so the flounce is less pronounced. I did also take them in a little, mainly to account for the fact that I’m a 10 at the hips and a 12 up top. Proportion and all that jazz.

The only thing I think one should be aware of is that the little cap sleeve style doesn’t provide much in the way of forward arm movement. I’ll be putting on shoes and socks before zipping this top up. Just a side effect of the style!

I will absolutely be making another of these – I’m currently on the hunt for the right kind of organza so I can recreate this seriously gorgeous Lela Rose dress (2013 Fall Collection) in top form…

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Perfect pattern match to designer knock-off, yes?

Until soon!

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NL6735: Lavender Lace Tops

I wear my latte and lace top a LOT. So when Helen unexpectedly dropped a whole stack of really gorgeous lace offcuts from her pink linen and lace dress into my lap at social sewing in April – I knew exactly what it had to turn into.

Another lace yoke tee, using my TNT New Look 6735 pattern of course! Sadly, my first go around the merry-go-round with the lace produced a result I’m really not keen on. Mix in lousy weather and a killer hangover and you get this…

IMG_5863This knit fabric is an oyster-coloured ponti from Clegs – I had to modify my pattern a bit by allowing for a bit of extra breathing room as this ponti doesn’t have the stretch a normal knit does, so I needed less negative ease! Problem is, there’s ponti, and then there’s ponti. This ponti is really, really stiff. I’m actually a little sad at how this creation turned out… it feels very straight-jacket-y to wear. This is yet another lesson in the importance of correct fabric selection, it would seem.

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Rather than staying with the triangular design of my original Latte and Lace top and pulling my hair out with all those pinpoint turns, I decided this time I would simply baste the lace – this would be a top for winter with 3/4 length sleeves, so I didn’t really want somewhere for the wind to blow through! With some matching silk thread, I pinned the lace where I wanted it, basted it down, then cut out some of the lace at the front to get some shape to it before then prick-stitching the edges in place. I rather like lace that continues around the sleeves as well, so to get it perfectly matching:

I pin the sleeve into the armscye first

I pin the sleeve into the armscye first, marking where the lace meets the seam

Then place the lace so it matches at the front and back

Then place the lace so it matches at the front and back

Lying the sleeve flat you can strategically baste it in place

Lying the sleeve flat you can strategically ‘prick-stitch’ it in place

Followed by basting along the selvedge so it doesn't stick out.

Followed by basting along the selvedge so it doesn’t stick out.

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The sleeves and hem are finished with a twin needle, but I used some hot pink store bought bias binding to finish the neckline. Due to the ponti being seriously thick and unrelenting, I had to prick-stitch all around the neckline to help hold the seam fold in place.

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Unsatisfied with this latest creation, I actually went back to Tessuti and bought some more of the creamy-latte coloured knit (a viscose/spandex poly blend) I used to sew the original Latte and Lace top.

So you know what? I ended up tearing my hair out again over a few pin-point turns anyway:

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I reinforced the shoulder seam and finished the neckline with bias strips of silk organza, all other seams were left ‘unfinished’.

Unfortunately I stretched out the neckline a bit when sewing the organza binding on… to the extent that even a serious steaming couldn’t save it. I ended up running a hand-basted gathering stitch on the inside of the organza which I pulled until the bubble lay flat, then secured with a knot. Not that you’d ever know it now. Phew!

Organza binding hand gathered to pull the neckline back into shape.

Organza binding hand gathered to pull the neckline back into shape.

No more sagging neckline!

No more sagging neckline!

I do love a happy ending!

The Stats: Ponti Lace Top
00:00  Pattern Preparation
00:00  Toile (cutting/sewing/fitting)
00:25  Fabric Preparation (cutting/basting/interfacing)
07:15  Sewing
07:40  hours

The Stats: Triangle Lace Top
00:00  Pattern Preparation
00:00  Toile (cutting/sewing/fitting)
00:40  Fabric Preparation (cutting/basting/interfacing)
03:15  Sewing
03:55  hours

Fabric Utilisation = 1.0m, due to both gifted and bought fabric.
Stash total remains = 79.9m (Goal = 50m)

P1003 & P1004: Plenty of Papercuts

After an extremely challenging start to this year and having nurtured some pretty bad habits as a means of dealing with it all, I’ve found myself a victim of mid-section blow-out and general blergh-ness (If you only click one link in this post, make it that one. Hilarious!). What better way to get back to being better than with some new exercise gear?

Unfortunately, photographing exercise gear is not exactly glamourous. Weather and minimal daylight hours have conspired against me at every opportunity for photos… I’ve been running and weight training in this outfit for nearly a month already! Count yourselves lucky it’s still mid-winter here so sweat is kept to a minimum…

Enter the Ooh La Leggings:

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And they are awesome.

As with any new pattern, I started with some recon over at Pattern Review. Kbenco has written one of the most informative reviews I’ve ever read, Katherine wrote fabulously about them too and of course, Melissa has sewn so many of these I can hardly cry for lack of inspiration.

Lucky me – I exactly matched the waist and hip measurements for the Size S. So I traced it off, cut it out, then machine basted it all together to see what was going on. This pattern has zero info on the amount of stretch your fabric of choice should have – and recommends a merino knit. Hmm. The basting was to test size, fit and fabric appropriateness. The second I pulled them on – a triumphant ‘YES!!!!’. They fit me fabulously*. Long legged peoples, Rejoice! This is a pattern for you! Sadly, I will not be rejoicing:

This is what a pair of leggings look like when they are 21cm too long for you.

This is what a pair of leggings look like when they are 21cm too long for you.

But hey, this is a standard adjustment for me. About the only time I don’t have to take pants up is if they began life as pedal pushers. I chose to use Melissa’s way of sewing in an elastic waistband – the pattern instructions do the old-fashioned ‘make a casing and thread your elastic through’ way. Yeah – no thanks, that never looks good!

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At first I made the elastic waaaaay too tight (like, bayonet tight!) so after unpicking that and making it a little bigger, I was good to go. Also, somewhere between the basting for fit and the actual sewing, I added in a turquoise band at the curved seam at the hips. Once finished, I quite literally pulled them on and went for a run.

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I will absolutely be making more of these in the future! Not being in possession of a coverstitch machine or an overlocker, I was worried about the seams being either irritating or uncomfortable. I’ve been exercising in these 4+ times a week for nearly a month now (yeah, I’m that far behind documenting finished makes!), and no dramas so far – but the fabric I used is really quite lightweight, and hey – it’s not exactly like I’m training for a marathon or anything.

Completely unintentionally, I sewed the side panels in reverse, and as the black fabric was shiny on one side and matt on the other, it created an effect I rather like. Here are some daring shots up close:

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I also made the Undercover Hood, the version of which you see here is my first attempt – very definitely a wearble muslin made with a double-sided wool/nylon blend (from New Zealand Merino and Fabrics). I cut the straight M as it was bang on my bust measurement, and was pleasantly surprised as how quickly it came together. But wow – its long! Usually I have to lengthen bodices, but this time I’ll be shortening it a bit and grading down to an S at the waist and hips (the S matches those bottom two measurements for me). The sleeves are also very long… I actually ended up leaving the cuffs off on this because a) The sleeve would have gone past my finger tips in that case and b) I sewed the cuffs on-grain by accident leaving them with no stretch for me to ease the sleeve into. Unpicking lightning stitch on knits is NOT fun! So I finished it with a twin needle. The result is a half-fitted, half-baggy rather long sweat top great for wearing to/from the gym and running in the chill evening air:

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Silly me cut the pocket out in two pieces, rather than on the fold. Oops! Next time I’ll be taking it up the length of the waistband, to get this length:

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It’s comfortable, warm and lightweight – but if I wanted to convert this from being sloppy-at-home-wear-only to something I could do the supermarket shop in, merino knit wouldn’t be my first choice. A terry-towling/sweatshirt fleece would be great for this, like what Zo made hers from. Additionally, the instructions call for the front pockets to be just top-stitched on – making it a little flimsy. I’d be tempted to at least understitch the topside first to anchor it down. Minor construction quibbles for what is an entirely practical top, really.

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*  bar some standard adjustments, naturally.

The Ooh La Leggings Stats:
00:30  Pattern Preparation
00:00  Toile (cutting/sewing/fitting)
00:30  Fabric Preparation (cutting/basting/interfacing)
02:20  Sewing
03:20  hours
Fabric Utilisation = 1.0m (only because I committed the cardinal sin of not laying pattern pieces out directionally)

The Undercover Hood Stats:
00:30  Pattern Preparation
02:55  Toile (cutting/sewing/fitting)
00:00  Fabric Preparation (cutting/basting/interfacing)
00:00  Sewing
03:25  hours

Fabric Utilisation = 1.8m
Stash total remains = 80.9m (Goal = 50m)