Saturday, 7 May 2016

Donna Karan Vogue 1259 a really easy skirt

One of the great advantages of having daughters is that one has suitable victims whom are forced to wear ones sewing output opportunities to try out patterns that might not be quite suitable for one's own age and figure. I must admit, that when I bought this Donna Karan pattern, I was intruiged by the construction of these pieces, but could not envisage myself wearing these lovely, but body conscious pieces. However, I don't like making things that no one wears. Its a conundrum.
So last weekend, when my younger daughter was visiting, she discussed with me an upcoming job interview and  her need for a new skirt, I laid cunning plans. She had every intention of making herself a skirt.
I provided her with a few Burda magazines, and a pile of envelope patterns, and snuck Vogue 1259 into the pile.
I was quite unsurprised when this outfit took her fancy.
She, however, did some fast talking. This pattern, she pointed out, was rated Advanced, and she felt that her sewing skills were not quite up to it.
I glanced over the instructions and provided encouragement. No, she said, definitely Too Hard. So we came to an agreement. She would trace out the pattern for the skirt, and also for another skirt that she felt would be easier to sew, and I would sew up the Donna Karan skirt for her, whilst she sewed the more traditional straight skirt herself
Now dear readers, I have a confession. There is no way that this skirt is Advanced. One simply gathers two edges of the knit fabric, stabilizes one end, and sews the skirt into a tube, overlapping the unfinished, gathered edges. I used a cotton lycra medium weight knit. The only construction element with any trickiness at all is sewing the top of the tube without catching the underneath of the tube under the presser foot.
Then, you sew an elastic casing for the waist, and hem the skirt ( I used a coverstitch, which may have involved some wrestling with my machine). 30 minutes, maximum.
She is very pleased with the skirt. She didn't sew the other one for herself. Was I conned? Possibly...but it might be mutual.

I am very pleased that I was able to try out this pattern, and that she did all the tracing out (dull) and the cutting out (slightly less dull, but not my favourite part of sewing).
I'm impressed with the design of the piece, unlike many "designer" patterns, its not a run of the mill garment, but its unique elements are not bizzare. It looks terrific on a fit 18 year old, and is a wearable, versatile garment.
It is an interesting design, and very, very easy to sew. The top might be another story!

Monday, 2 May 2016

Burda Style 09-2014-115 or 116 Is it a hoodie, is it a dress, are you wearing a dressing gown?

I had every intention of making myself a beach dress, one of those useful garments that one can throw on over a swimming costume, for not mere modesty, but some actual sun protection. However, when I put this on to take an early morning walk with my sister in Noosa National Park this week (there were beaches and swimming costumes involved), she asked me if it were my dressing gown.
 I was staying overnight with her at the time, but still.....
She kindly took a photo of me on the beach, but the slight blurriness may have been due to some sniggering on her part.
Despite these sisterly reservations I am quite pleased with this dress. I am calling it a dress because I made it to the dress length (116) but with the hood of 115 instead of the collar of the dress length.

I've actually been considering this garment for quite some time. Burda, in its fantasy beach issues, is always talking about beach cover ups, but they tend to be glamourous sundresses with navel baring cleavage, obviously designed to reveal as much of the swimming costume and its contents as possible whilst pretending to actually be clothed. I am much more prosaic. My idea of a beach cover-up does not have any need to look good with a cocktail at the fancy beach-side bar (Where are these places in Burda? Do children go to these beaches?)
Beach cover up requirements
1.Lightweight yet non transparent woven fabric that will tolerate wash and wear, be quick to dry, and cool to wear:
Bright green linen, a tad heavier than handkerchief weight, a Michael's fabrics bundle acquisition from a few years ago (I didn't actually pick the colour, which is rather bright for me)
My choice of fabric was inspired by the ever stylish Carolyn of Handmade by Carolyn. Now I know that you have never seen her looking like a blob of lime jelly, and I hope that I am not offending her greatly by mentioning any association in my mind with this possibly-a-dressing-gown dress, but Carolyn has previously used this pattern, and made it up using a  lovely crushed linen from Tessuti in a sophisticated dark brown. Now I just happened to have this exact same fabric (mine was from Sydney),which was my original pairing for this beach dress, but when Carolyn mentioned that her long version had a distinct Friar Tuck vibe, and had to be drastically shortened before she could wear it, I felt that lime green linen was a better direction for me,having a much closer figure to Friar Tuck than Carolyn does!
I also thought that I could perhaps overdye the fabric, should it prove too luminescent, and that would be another inspiration from Carolyn, but alas, I am too lazy. I can live with this colour - at the beach.

2. Long sleeves, for sun protection, that can be rolled up or otherwise shortened for coolness when it is less sunny

The pattern has long sleeves with elastic, but I left off the elastic cuffs and added a tab and button. I hemmed the sleeves and the actual hem of the dress by hand, using running stitch and embroidery thread, because I had a movie to watch with my son, and I am not sure that it is possible to watch a movie without having something constructive to do at the same time :)


3. Knee length or longer for sun protection and also for sitting on hot sand
4. A collar or other neck protection
5. Ability to cover the upper chest and shoulders.
I particularly like this front fastening. There are unusually good instructions in the magazine, this being the featured pattern for the sewing lesson, and the placket is very neat. I embellished the surroundings with machine embroidery, because it amuses me, and used snaps for fastening. There are two close together at the bust for obvious reasons, but in retrospect, I should have used bigger snaps.
The inner neck seam is covered with a strip of Liberty print bias, as are the pocket seams and armscye seams. The other seams are flat felled. I want my beach dress to last for many summers.
6. Will not look ridiculous after being scrunched up under a wet towel
(I'm not sure that we hit this one)
7. Pockets . 
I converted the side seam pockets to zipped pockets, attempting the ribbon welt pocket from Kenneth King's book,  Cool Couture, but I had forgotten that there is an error in the instructions - they are correct for a 5/8th inch ribbon but call for a 7/8th inch ribbon (leave off the 1 mm offset if using a 7/8th inch ribbon). Therefore my welts overlap, but I won't allow myself to be bothered by this. Its a design feature, right?

These pockets are perfectly sized to contain one smartphone and due to the zips, there is no risk of it falling out when you remove the beach cover up in order to go swimming. Don't ask me why this is the most important design feature of the dress.


This garment is very easy to wear. It's a style departure for me, and has not received husbandly nor sisterly approval, but I like it enough to have a go at a tunic length version. Can't you see it in shirting cotton worn over jeans whilst attending important Junior 3 Soccer games?


Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Jalie exercise skirt 2796 with Fehr Trade Steeplechase leggings

I made these exercise clothes just before the weather got too hot here to wear an exercise skirt with inbuilt leggings and promptly forgot to write about them, but yesterday, when I got out my clothing for colder weather, these went into my wardrobe too, so I thought I'd give them a mention.

The outside skirt is the terrific Jalie running skirt, made to the length of the largest size, because I have middle aged legs.
However, although I've made several of these skirts (mostly for my daughters), I've never been content with the inner shorts.
Previous skirt here  .
I don't seem to have mentioned the three or four other skirts, but they exist!

 The included Jalie  shorts pattern is only one piece, with no outer seam, and quite frankly, for my build, they are incredibly uncomfortable for running. My daughters are not big fans of this particular exercise shorts pattern either. Having no outer leg seam gives a lot of work to both the centre body seam and the inner leg seam, neither of which are in places that cope well with severe pulling during vigorous activity.

Melissa's Steeplechase leggings to the rescue.
These leggings have no outer leg seam either, but they do have other seams, into which one can insert some backside room, and best of all, no inner leg seam, so no chafing!

I've raved  written about these leggings previously, at some length, so I won't repeat myself.
Just so you know, I don't use any other leggings patterns for running anymore.
I attached the leggings, with an appropriate amount of the upper edge removed, to the skirt using the instructions in the Jalie pattern. The waistband is from the Jalie pattern.
The main fabric is strechtex titanium, a technical knit, (sourced directly from the manufacturer, Stretchtex) and the contrast fabric is a knit supplex.
 The top is another of Melissa's patterns, the VNA top, previously mentioned here

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Little white cardigan

So as soon as I start boasting about our lovely weather,  Ruthie pipes up and tells me that a short sleeve cardigan is practically useless for the purpose of warmth. Actually she didn't say anything nearly so cheeky.  I'll paste her actual words here so that I don't mislead anyone :)

SewRuthie has left a new comment on your post "Little red cardigan":

Adorable little cardigan.
(Thanks Ruthie)
By the way in cooler climes we need long sleeves in our cardigans.

It is quite true, and in fact, although a short sleeve cardigan is very useful for extending the wearable life of a sundress in my own locale, a long sleeve cardigan gives the sundress even more longevity, so I made one of those too.

I used cotton yarn again, this time in Jo Sharp Desert Aran Cotton, in an off white called "Solstice". I actually repurposed most of this yarn from a jumper I made for my younger daughter a few years ago. She only wore it a few times before some dastardly cup of tea spilt itself down the front and left an unfortunately placed stain which we could not remove.

(This link is the version I made for my older daughter - it's still in use)

As I'd knit the previous incarnation mostly in the round, it ravelled easily, and I was able to remove the tea stain by discarding the stained sections. I had a few balls of unused yarn to make up the shortfall.

Keeping to  my current theme, I used a pattern that I'd made previously, Miette by Andi Satterlund. (I just noticed that I have not yet posted about the previous version - bad blogger that I am). This pattern does not actually have long sleeves, but I just extended them from the original 3/4 length with a bit of tapering to the wrist. I particularly like the bust shaping on this cardigan, its nicely fitting for something made in 10ply.

I changed the neckline finish to an i-cord bind off, and lengthened the body of the cardigan by one lace pattern repeat, but otherwise this is knit pretty much as written in the smallest size -much to the displeasure of my daughter who tried this on and found that it was too big for her (Yay, I can keep this one)

I was wondering why I haven't made myself a little white cardigan before. It goes with nearly everything in my summer to autumn wardrobe.
Then I remembered how long my daughter's white jumper lasted. I wonder how many times I'll wear my new cardigan before it suffers a fatal stain attack.........


Friday, 22 April 2016

Little red cardigan

Gail has commented on the main problem that I have with summer sundresses. Eventually it gets too cold to wear them, even when one is lucky enough to live in Queensland.
Drawing inspiration from the deprived people who have to live in less delightful climates, I have made a cardigan to extend the wearing season of my new sundresses. (I hope you realise that my tongue is firmly in my cheek whilst I write this ;) )
Once again, I am repeating a pattern, but this time, I am extremely pleased with myself for doing so, as I've  made this cardigan once before for myself, and once for each of my daughters, but until now, every version of this cardigan has left my house, never to be seen again in my wardrobe. Fourth time lucky!

The pattern is Peggy Sue, by  Linda Wilgus. It's quick to knit, being cropped with short sleeves, and doesn't use a lot of yarn. This version is made from just less than 5 balls of Jo sharp Soho summer cotton in a shade of red that I adore. For some reason wearing red makes me feel cheerful. I must do it more often!

I will refer you to my earlier posts about this cardigan for my fitting/design modifications.
version 1,
version 2,
version 3

Doesn't it go well with my newish dresses? 



Thursday, 7 April 2016

Vogue 1086 silk/cotton batiste sundress

So when should you stop using a pattern? We all want patterns that fit well, but possibly not a wardrobe full of garments that all look the same.I'm not sure that I'm completely finished with Vogue 1353, but in the interests of variety, I made a dress from a different pattern. Again, however, it's a repeat. This time I used Vogue 1086, which I'd made two versions of previously as posted here and here (the second link has construction photos).  Neither of these dresses are still in my wardrobe, as they were in such high circulation that the fabric eventually wore threadbare.My concern with using this pattern is that I seem to have a low awareness of what looks current, in comparison to what looks terribly old fashioned. I decided to ignore my slight qualms about this issue and just make another version of a garment in which I had previously felt nicely dressed.
Part of the wearing out was due to the fragile nature of the fabric used, and the other part was due to making these dresses in 2011 and constantly wearing them through our 7 month sundress season :)

I found that my silk/cotton batiste dress, self lined, wore out more quickly than the cotton lawn version, although I actually wore the cotton lawn version dress more often, as it was both cooler and more casual.
This time, I used silk/cotton batiste for the outer fabric (, about 2013), and lined the dress with cotton voile. Not only am I very pleased with the way the blue colour shows through the print of the transluscent outer fabric, but I am hoping that the choice of lining fabric improves the longevity of the garment.

The pattern instructions have you sew vertical french seams, and I also chose to sew the horizontal seams in this manner, which is a little fiddly with the gathers, but not impossible due to the fine fabric.

My dress is once again, fully lined, rather than partially, and this time I constructed the lining so that it is separate from the outer garment at the waist seams and shoulder yokes, just attached at the neckline, armsyces and side zipper, as I prefer the appearance of the horizontal seams with fewer layers of fabric.
 I understitched the lining at the neckline, rather than topstitching, in keeping with my luxurious, non casual fabric.

I also used french seams on the lining, and did not interface the waist section at all, as my outer fabric is translucent, and I wanted to preserve the floaty appearance of both fabrics. (You can also see here that I am not terriby vigilant when ironing linings)


Unfortunately, I failed to read my own review of the pattern, and had forgotten that I made a smaller, size 8 bodice on my second version of the dress, so the bodice is a little too big on my current dress, just as it was on my first version. The shoulder slippage this causes is easily managed with lingerie keepers at the shoulders, and the floaty appearance of the dress is in keeping with a slightly oversized look, at least that's my story! It was a rather windy day when we took the photographs, so you can see exactly how floaty the dress can be :)
I wore this dress to the fancy dinner we had for my daughter's 21st birthday, and felt correctly dressed for the occasion, so I'm happy with this project despite a slighty worry that my tendency to use old favourites might make my wardrobe a tad out of date. There is nothing like a few pattern repeats to restore the sewing confidence.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Vogue 1353 as a costume, and a mermaid cake for added interest

You will be tired of seeing Vogue 1353 by now, but I promise that this is a different story. You see, my daughter has just turned 21.This is quite the important occasion in Australia, due, naturally, to the age of legal majority being set at 18 a mere 42 years ago (previously, it was 21, hence the traditional celebrations at this age). We had a family dinner at a lovely restaurant, but also, she had a fancy dress cocktail party for some of her friends. The cocktail part was extremely grown-up, but the rest of the party positively embraced frivolity, and dare I say it, reflected my own enthusiasm for my children's past birthday parties, with which I have often indulged my love of dressing up and playing games. (My inner 5 year old loves birthday parties)
 The theme was "Sea", which I thought was rather clever, as she had a pool party, held partly in the common area of her apartment building, which has a swimming pool.  She and her sister decorated their courtyard with blow up pool toys, fishing nets with cardboard cut out fish, and Chinese lanterns turned into jellyfish. It looked terrific,so naturally I do not have a single photo of it.

Now some other family members who attended this party were complete pikers. My husband and his parents claimed that they were on a sea cruise, and did not dress up at all, and my 13 year old son claimed that he was a swimmer, who had not yet changed into his togs. Pathetic!

Here is a photo of my daughters in their completely purchased costumes. (Actually I think the streamers were hand sewn on to the tu-tu). Clearly, the 21 year old on the left is a gorgeous jelly-fish, and the other fearsome character bought her costume from the children's department at Target for $5. She had to wear her own shorts though, as for some reason size 10 boy's clothing does not actually fit her very well.
I did not want to be an embarassing mother, in some outre costume, but at the same time, I wanted to make an effort to work with the theme. Originally, I was thinking of a lovely tasteful print with seashells or something similar, made into a dress that I could wear again, but as it turned out, I became completely carried away at the quilting shop.

Don't I look just like a coral reef?
I apologise to my longsuffering readers and fellow sewing enthusiasts,  it's Vogue 1353 again, this time sewn in an incredible rush within one school day. This is undoubtedly why I messed up the upper bodice pleats, sewed the zip to the wrong side when I converted the pattern to a side fastening in order to avoid pattern matching at the centre back, and also managed to sew the skirt backwards, so that it is more full at the front than at the back. Personally, I am having trouble believing that I managed to make so many mistakes in a simple dress that I had made twice already! I didn't unpick at all though :)
Despite these transgressions, and a certain related delay in leaving for Brisbane that seriously annoyed my husband, I was very pleased with my costume. It was comfortable to wear, not excessively embarrasing for my daughter, and I enjoyed being part of her theming. I might even wear it again, but maybe not to the supermarket.

I cannot resist showing you another thing that I made for the party.



I promise to write about a different pattern next time - or maybe some knitting......