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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)

P1003 & P1004: Hi-tech Fabric

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but in the last decade of so fabric technology appears to have developed in leaps and bounds. These days there are all kinds of sports-related garments with hi-tech fabrics spruiking various benefits, from the moisture-wicking quick-dry standard gym fare we probably all have, to compression undergarments designed to decrease muscle fatigue and aid in recovery. Or just suck in your gut, like spanx.

Mr poppykettle competing in the Shepparton Half Iron Man, 2012

Mr poppykettle competing in the Shepparton Half Iron Man, 2012

Open any of the cupboards at chez poppykettle and you will find all these things and more – and not just because I enjoy a bit of gut-sucking-in action, but because Mr poppykettle’s hobby is competeing in triathalons and IronMan competitions (he even has a wet-suit that purports to increase buoyancy by up to 40%, thus allowing you to ‘save’ your legs for the ride and run segments). The pictures above and below are him during his first and second 70.3‘s. A little gloating if you don’t mind – he completed last years competition (a 1.9km/1.2mile swim, 90km/56mile bike ride and then a half marathon – 21km/13.1mile run) in 4 hours and 22 minutes – just missing out on a podium finish by coming 4th in his age group, and 41st overall out of nearly 1400 competitors. Proud much? Just a bit! Unfortunately due to a stress fracture injury he’s had to pull out of his events this year, but still.

2011 Half IronMan

2011 Shepparton 70.3/Half IronMan

For me though, fabric technology began back in 1935 with the creation of Nylon. Like most fabric developments since its time, it was originally a military innovation. The thermoplastic polymers that make up nylon give it a ‘silky’ and smooth texture, and Nylon was designed as a replacement for silk which was scarce following the end of WWII. Likewise, viscose rayon, polyester and other synthetic fibres were also designed to mimic their natural counterparts.

Image via allposters.com

Image via allposters.com

Side tracking yet again – Nylon was first used for fishing line and toothbrush bristles – but ask anyone what you associate with Nylon and undoubtably the answer will be stockings! The original stockings made from Nylon were so strong and durable that they could be used to tow a trailer behind a car. In my world, that is just pure awesome. They were obviously a big hit with women as no longer did our fore-sisters have to worry about runs and holes appearing. Of course, this also meant that manufacturer’s weren’t selling as many units, because Nylon stockings lasted so much longer than their predecessors made from silk, wool and cotton. Big Industry sent their engineers back to the drawing board to decrease the life of nylon stockings – and so this product became the second documented instance of the manufacturing phenomenon called ‘planned obsolescence‘ – where products are engineered to fail. (The first was the humble incandescent globe – check out this info on the Pheobus Cartel if you’re up for a bit of conspiracy theory).

So the next time your $14 pair of Levante‘s ladder, tear or rip – you’ll know who to curse. Your friendly neighbourhood engineer.

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But marketing of fibres has of course moved on from stockings to sports fabrics that combine the technologies developed in the 20th century, and now it’s the turn of the high end stuff to get the high-tech treatment. ZZegna (the younger, more fashion-forward brother to Ermenegildo Zegna) has been including some pretty cool fibre innovations in his collections, like Microsphere – with which you can wipe off those pesky wine and mustard stains at the swipe of a damp cloth. Giotto New-Gen (an Aussie brand) have applied the slip slop slap mentality to their fabrics, launching Cold Black – a “special finishing technology for textiles which reduces heat build up and provides reliable protection from UV rays”. Presumably this will make wearing your favourite tux on a warm summers evening feel like you’re really just wearing a seersucker suit.

Or this rain jacket from ZZegna‘s Autumn 2013 Menswear collection which sports rubber bonded onto wool garbadine to keep your beau warm and dry:

via style.com

via style.com

Then you’ve got the flip side of fibre technology mixing with recycling – Sax Altman makes chino’s (Repreve) from cotton interwoven with recycled plastic bottle polymer strands; although this would help offset the rising cost of cotton I doubt you’d end up saving much. You’ve also got fashion houses like Martin Margiela perhaps taking the fabric/recycling cross over to the extreme – with this jacket made from recycled polyethylene garbage bags:

Many thanks to the article bty David Waters in the Qantas magazine for bringing these designs and fabulous fibres to my attention. But really, there hasn’t been to the best of my knowledge any new commercially significant developments in fabric since nylon, lycra and maybe kevlar. Actually, one day I’d really like to sew something out of kevlar. A wicked-ass biker jacket would be totally appropos made from kevlar! What we’re seeing here in sports gear and rubber rain jackets isn’t actually new, it’s just taking already existing technologies and combining them together to get the next evolution. Kinda like mixing chocolate, caramel and salt (all equally delicious in their own right) to get the mouthwatering creation of salted chocolate caramel. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts?

via mushitza

via mushitza

…. Sorry, I got distracted thinking about salted chocolate caramel for a minute there.

But I’m here today to talk about sports fabrics. Because these innovations have trickled their way down into our fabric stores and even though I don’t spend upwards of 25 hours a week training like my beau, I’m not a complete couch potato either (well… maybe sometimes) – I’m in the market to make some gym clothes – I’m sure I can’t be the only one suffering with ill-fitting sports gear?

I’ve got my eyes on New Zealand’s Papercut Patterns: the Ooh La Leggings and the Undercover Hood.

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I’ve been looking high and low (not really, just googling from the comfort of my couch) for some high tech fabric I can get my hands on to make the leggings with, ending up with some 80% Nylon 20% Lycra black and turquoise fabric that looks and feels identical to the fabric my current Nike gym pants are made from, and some pink, grey and black striped unknown fabric with good recovery from a mystery bolt at Trimmings and Remnants.

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And some gorgeous textured blue merino wool/lycra blend from New Zealand Merino and Fabrics for the hoodie:

wool lycra blend fabric

Because hey, you can fiddle with fibre as much as you like but as far as I’m concerned, wool will always be the ultimate in high performance – and you don’t need a lab to create it. It’s renewable too! Keeps you cool in summer, warm in winter, sheds water to a degree (even if you do end up smelling like a wet dog) and most importantly to me – is breathable.

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NL6735: Latte and Lace

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Ethereal geometric lace, some coffee coloured knit and a whole lotta pivot points. Mix them all together and you’ll end up with something that looks a bit like this!

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I’ve been wanting to make another version of my loversandhaters tee for what feels like forever now. It’s been ages since I’ve sewn with a knit though, and it really showed! Whilst sewing up a few test pieces I was wondering why it kept jumping stitches and snowballing my bobbin – duh – you need a ball-tipped needle specially for knits, Melanie. Your micro-needle really isn’t going to cut the mustard with a knit fabric. This is just proof that if your sewing machine isn’t doing what you want it to do, it’s most probably your fault. A mechanised inanimate object can only ever perform as well as the person operating knows how. 

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I don’t have many New Look patterns, but I really like this one. The main reason is that it’s got a centreback seam as well as side seams – meaning I can get a good fit around my waist and not have it pulling tight across my bust at the same time. I’m often 2+ sizes bigger at the shoulders and bust than at my waist/hips, and this pattern caters for that wonderfully. As I wasn’t sure of how this fabric would fare, I got enough to make a basic tee out of it to test size and stretch first.

The neckline, shoulder seams and back yoke are all seam-reinforced with some bias cut silk organza strips.

I also learnt that twin needles are twice as nice as normal needles – especially when paired with some wooly nylon in your bobbin! Using a twin needle for stretch fabrics to finish off hems has been on my to-try-list for quite some time – it works wonderfully! I hand basted first so my knit didn’t distort all over the place (a walking foot is next on the to-try-list), and it worked beautifully. You don’t have to use wooly nylon in your bobbin, but from testing out that and normal thread on some scraps first, the nylon definitely gives you extra stretching room.

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That milky-coffee coloured knit is of an unknown composition – I completely forgot to take a picture of the tag when I bought it like I usually do. I’ve nicknamed it the Charlie Sheen of the fabric world though. It made me mad, behaved like an unruly child, my pins/scissors and my machine all hated working with it and somehow it got lucky enough to co-star alongside that gorgeous Chanel Lace. Instead of dumping it by the wayside like I should have, I just kinda ignored all that, pushed on and despite itself, it ended up being a success against the common sense odds.

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With Belle, mere moments after completion at Social Sewing

The Chanel Lace is of course left overs from my Lace-but-not-as-you-know-it Dress. I’ve had the remnant set aside for this project even since I saw this utterly gorgeous blouse on Pinterest…

The Stats:
01:50  Pattern Preparation (tracing/draft changes)
01:10  Toile (cutting/sewing/fitting)
00:40  Fabric Preparation (cutting/interfacing)
11:10  Sewing
14:50  hours

Fabric Utilisation = 1.6m
Stash total now = 79.8m (Goal = 50m)

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117-08-2009 Serenageo’s Blouse

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Today I’m going to blab on about how much I love the sewing blogosphere. Everyone is just so awesome. Case in point – when serenageo of Burdastyle posted this gorgeous, floaty top from the August 2009 issue of Burda mag, I commented that I loved it so much that I was going to try and track that issue down. Turns out that issue is coveted by many a sewing-enthusiast, so my extended bouts of online searching went mostly in vain. When I logged back in a few days later, she replied to say she’d be happy to send me a copy of the pattern. Cue ginormous grin!

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A little while later, I received a package from Romania. Not only had she traced the pattern for me, but also written me a lovely letter and included a super gorgeous crocheted collar (which I’m planning to include in another top at a later date. It’s taken me nearly six months to get around to making this though, so don’t hold your breath!). 

My initial muslin for this was a bit of a joke. Besides having bucketloads of ease, clothing in general that is straight up and down just doesn’t suit me. Unless you like the bag of potatoes look. So I took in a lot of ease, added a bit of shaping to the seams, a dart above the bust and cut back the ‘sleeves’ for a more flattering fit. The top itself was a breeze to put together – I even found two perfectly matching buttons to go at the front so had the added indecision of deciding which one to go for. From Buttonmania, naturally.

I finished the armscye with some self-fabric bias tape, but it ended up stretching and just generally looking a bit lame. So that got tucked under and sewn up:

BEFORE                                       AFTER  .
 
I made it with a cotton voile called ‘Then Smell the Mauve‘ from Tessuti. The fabulous thing about this fabric is its so light and breezy – but it’s almost impossible to tell the wrong side from the right side – perfect because the frill detail is single sided. I made this plus bias binding for around the frill edges.


All this from a meter of fabric – another meter is soon to be on its way to Romania for serenageo, so I hope she likes it as much as I do. So thanks Geo, you’re one totally awesome dudette!

The original Burdastyle photo:

 

The Stats:
00:00  Pattern Preparation (all thanks to Geo!)
07:30  Toile (cutting/sewing/fitting)
00:50  Fabric Preparation (cutting/interfacing)
03:55  Sewing
12:15  hours

Oh, and Merry Christmas everyone – hope you all have a wonderful, safe and happy break!

Melanie xo