Saturday, 11 July 2015

Retrospective, mini wardrobe

You might have noticed that I've not been blogging lately. Primarily, this is because I have not been sewing quite as much, yet my sewing output has been greater than my blogging, so I've a few out of date things to show you  a mini collection sewn earlier to write about.
These garments were sewn/knit for my older daughter, loosely according to the seasonal 6pac series planned by the fabulous Dr.E.

I started with a white t shirt, there is hardly any harder working garment in a young woman's casual wardrobe. This one is from Burda Style 11-2014-113, but without the undersleeves.

That might be why I made 4 of these, one for each daughter, and one each for my two eldest nieces, who (gasp) are now approaching regular Burda sizes, this up to date t shirt required only minor tweaking to work for young teenagers (some shortening and side seam slimming), whilst for my daughters I used the size 34 provided in the magazine. I used a robust cotton/lycra knit from Stretchtex for all four t shirts. I particularly liked the self fabric band at the hips, which is not only fashionable,  but meant that I didn't have to get out my coverstitch for hemming.

The t shirt is shown  with a RTW pair of mint green shorts, purchased by my daughter, which were the provoking factor for the mini collection.

Next up, naturally, was another top, this time another variation of the marvellous free Sorbetto pattern. I've made several of these previously. The fabric is an allegedly Liberty tana lawn (but no liberty name in the selvage), which despite its doubtful provenance is a lovely light fabric for a little summer top.

To actually transform these tops to a collection, the next item was Burda Style 03-2011-131 lavender drill shorts you've already seen, picking up the lavender in the print.

Followed by the self drafted crinkly woven singlet top you've also seen previously.

There was also this white sundress with pink and green in the border that I showed you a while ago too (self drafted, fabric is a 1950's sheet).


Taking much longer to complete, was the transitional piece, a casually loose jumper, knit from Sublime soya cotton, from a Sublime soya pattern book. Its an easy pattern, but my knitting is not terribly fast.

This jumper not only works with the shorts outfits and over the sundress, but transitions the tops to autumn/subtropical winter garments by also working with jeans.


The accessory was sewn by my daughter. Vogue 2907

3 bottoms (2 purchased)
3 tops
1 dress
1 overlayer
1 accessory =  a wardrobe boosting mini collection.
If only I had been so organised for Winter......

Saturday, 9 May 2015

VNA tops

I made quite a few exercise clothes just lately, and now that it is extremely chilly at 5am in the morning (those who live temperate climates may scoff where I can't hear them, I admit that I live in a warm climate), I thought I would display some running tops of Summer before I start on cold weather exercise gear.
I made a VNA top for my younger daughter, because she had just about worn out the version that was made to test the pattern.

new one
old one

The test version was too big for her, although the size didn't stop her wearing it, so her new top is sloppily graded down by hand drawing a smaller size on Melissa's pattern. Fortunately for me, this made a nicely fitting top, other than a slight tightness at the bust. The top would be XXXS in Melissa's sizing scale.


I love the colour blocking options for this top. I had bought some "performance knit" from Spoonflower, in this very appealing Galaxy print, but as I foolishly purchased from a square representation of the print,  I had not noticed that  the 1 yard print included a break in the
panel that was unsightly to me.
However, by cutting the small upper front from the odd bit of the panel, the break in the pattern is not particularly noticeable, and makes a good feature for the top whilst only using a tiny piece of the pricey fabric.
 The back is plain old navy blue wicking polyester from Stretchtex, and the lower front is not-the-best-for-exercise-clothes cotton lycra, again from Stretchtex, as are the bindings, because this will do for short runs and also general wear, such as hiking in Carnarvon Gorge.


Naturally, having made one daughter top, another top was required. This one uses a more purple section of the Galaxy print,with different coloured cotton lycra for the bindings and bottom section,  and has been made to the same circumference as the downsized VNA top, but a little longer, (at the hem) for my taller daughter.



Lucky last, I made one for myself in an XS. Having noticed the modest amount of room at the bust for my daughters, I chose to enlarge the upper bust piece, then ease this into the curved seam at the lower front, as an FBA. I also made a square shoulder adjustment, which is a common adjustment for me (Did I mention that I really like this pattern).
 Mine has an upper bodice made from performance pique, again from Spoonflower, with a pattern that amuses me greatly. See those ninjas in amongst the floral? My husband hates it. Fortunately he doesn't come running with me. It must be my (very deeply hidden) inner ninja that puts him off.
Super Purple Ninja Warriors! (Small)
The bottom section of this one is made from wicking "space dyed" Supplex, which is more comfortable to wear when exercising than cotton lycra, but the business I bought it from is no longer operating.
The back is the same wicking polyester from Stretchtex that I used for the other tops. Although this fabric is practical, hard wearing and very comfortable for exercising,  I find this particular colour is very difficult to sew, with constantly wearing thread and blunted needles. (The other colours were hard to sew too, but not to the same level as the dark blue) I bought 5 metres of it 6 years ago and I will be very glad when I've finally sewn the last of it!. I needed to mix it with these fun fabrics in order to have the fortitude to sew with it yet again.

The only change I made to the construction of these tops, now that I've made a few, is the binding of the v neckline. I don't like having to measure the neckline binding exactly before I sew it. I find the amount of stretch needed varies between fabrics, and I like to apply more stretch to the back neck, for example, than the lower front of the v. Melissa's instructions work, but I found them a bit fiddly, and not compatible with my ad-hoc neckline length preference. Instead I used Barbara's instructions here (except for the interfacing being ironed on- ironing and poly don't mix at my house), which were just as fiddly (v neck lines must be fiddly by nature), but gave me a neater result, and without having to get out my tape measure.
Disclaimer: Remember I got this pattern for free in exchange for testing? This is naturally not a completely unbiased opinion due to this exchange see Zoopolis, but you can see I've made many versions of this pattern now and all recipients are finding this a comfortable running top. The request cue is long. We like this pattern.

Stashbusting statistics, pitiful. About a metre each of blue wicking poly and cotton lycra, 30 cm of supplex print, and 50 cm or so of recently purchased performance knit, and performance pique

Monday, 4 May 2015

Tiramisu Two

I told you what a lovely surprise my last Tiramisu was to me, but I hadn't worn it much over Summer, as although the fabrics are light, with 2 layers, even silk/hemp and light as air rayon knit are too hot to wear in the subtropics from about mid October to mid April.
However, over the past few weeks, my very small transseasonal wardrobe has meant the last Tiramisu has been in high rotation. A dress is so easy to co-ordinate (you can tell I am not a fashionista, how sad).

Naturally, this discovery lead me straight back to my knit stash, and I have sewn myself another version of this frock.
Unfortunately, I had to wrestle a bit with the fabric. This particular rayon knit, although thicker in heft than the last type, has quite remarkable stretch. So much so, that although I used all my fitting adjustments from the last attempt, the waistband originally started at my 8th rib and finished at my hips. Dowdy indeed. I considered shortening it, but having carefully sewn lingerie elastic into all the horizontal seams, (for details of construction see the last post about Tiramisu), I could not bear to do it again, so just chopped off the lower seam, elastic and all, and folded over the waistband piece to sew the skirt directly to the upper bodice, with the waistband folded over the top of the skirt to act as a sort of belt addition. Very lazy, but I quite like the empire waist effect.
I wore this to work today, to do paperwork whilst hidden in a back office. It was very comfortable, and has held up well (photos taken at the end of the day), but in retrospect it looks a bit casual for the office to me, even a hidden away one where only staff would see me. I have to keep them suitably impressed ;). Maybe if I dressed it up with boots and a jacket - wait, that would mean Winter!
Currently, I plan to make another version in merino knit before the weather cools down sufficiently for me to wear a wool dress. I think it would look less casual in a solid.

Stashbusting statistics about 2m of rayon knit, 2013

Sunday, 3 May 2015

The blouse that wasn't and Burda Style 09-2011-128 turned into a tunic

With 1.1m of lovely printed lawn lurking on my sewing table refusing to return to the stash, I was on the hunt for a pattern for a blouse. After much pleasant perusal of my sewing magazine collection,  I settled on Ottobre 05-2013-03, a peasant style blouse with set in sleeves calling for 1.2 m of fabric in my size. Everyone knows that fabric requirements are over generous (that was tongue in cheek), and I am shorter than the Ottobre block.

Ottobre 05-3013-05
However, no matter how I ignored seam allowances, there was no way I could fit that pattern on my 1.1 m of lawn and still have sleeves past my elbows. This was rather annoying after tracing it out!
Back to the pattern search, I was quite taken with the Burdastyle blouses made this Summer  by Sue and Paola. I liked the covered shoulders and the interesting transition of the collar stand into front pleats.
Technical drawing from

This called for 1.1 metres of fabric also, but when cutting out this new pattern, there was plenty of fabric, in fact, it occurred to me that I would have a sizeable scrap left over, so I lengthened the blouse, despite reviews of this pattern commenting on excessive length of the garment. I am anti-scrap at the moment.
Its not quite long enough for a dress, but its not too bad as a tunic with a shirttail hem.
I don't usually wear this silhouette, and really wanted a garment with sleeves, but when considering my wardrobe balance it I felt that I would be more inclined to wear a second garment made from the same fabric if the garment in question was more suited to different time of the year than the first one. I thought I would wear my sleeveless lawn dress made from this fabric in high Summer ,and that a lawn tunic, even a sleeveless one, could be worn over trousers or tucked into a skirt, in Spring and Autumn.
You can see that I added a casing with elastic to the back (more casual than darts) for some shaping, and you can't see at all that I added bust darts via a cut and slide method in order to make a FBA.
I also used a more stiff cotton for the facing, and for interfacing in the collar stand and front bands. (Thank you to the Spoolette who donated this fabric at last year's high tea, its the perfect weight and co-ordinates nicely )

This was an enjoyable garment to make, and I am interested to see how it works as a transseasonal garment.  It felt quite an appropriate outfit to wear today to the Sunday markets.
(I bought lots of plants - its been raining.....)

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Very thrifty sewing, a skirt, almost instantly

I told you about the rejected skirt-front-with-a-seam in it from the last project, and after whinging about the wastefulness in the last post, it was clearly incumbent of me to use this left over fabric piece in a responsible manner - and straight away, as layer 4 of my stash is rather too large.

Fortunately, I have sewing blogs for inspiration. I fancied the easy wearing reputation of this skirt by Sewing Sveta.

I cut out another half skirt, a yoga waistband (well, actually I used the waistband from Jalie 2796, having just made a few of these and knowing the waistband fit perfectly), and ended up very quickly with this skirt for my older daughter.
The back centre seam is stabilized with woven cotton selvage.
There is not much else to say about it, except that it also helped with the offspring sewing balance levels.
Stashbusting statistics, another metre of that cotton lycra knit from Stretchtex in a loud colour for the April theme- only a teensy bit late in posting...
I am joining MeMadeMay this year too, in order to encourage myself to sew more clothes for work. I have exactly 4 blouses and 3 pairs of trousers for this purpose, and as I work full time, this is very hard on the laundry! I might post photos once a week - and change out of my grubby gardening clothes before I take a photo today......

Friday, 1 May 2015

The dangers of disposible fashion, not seriously


I sew. It would seem fairly obvious that disposable fashion is not my cup of tea, and I could provide all sorts of morally superior reasons for this opinion in order to impress the sewing community with my ethical standards and awareness of global issues, but a large part of my abhorrence of these garments is much more trivial. They are aesthetically displeasing and wasteful of one's clothing budget.

However, I am not in charge of all the clothes that enter my house.

My teenage daughter went to the beach for a week with her friends. They had a terrific time, and she came back with a $5 dress she had bought.
She usually has very good taste in clothing, I am sure that when she bought this little knit sundress, it was quite pretty. By the time I saw it though, it had been worn over a swimming costume for several trips to the beach, and had been washed. The print was faded, the fabric was pilled, the hem was grossly uneven, making it scandalously short in inappropriate places, the bodice draped in an underwear/swimming costume displaying manner, and the entire garment was about 2 sizes too big. (1 week of use)

The dress was, according to my standards, unwearable. I expressed this opinion, originally with some attempt at tactfulness, but as she continued to wear it - even out of the house! the expression of my opinion became increasingly forthright. To my undisguised horror, she even threatened to take the dress to Brisbane with her and wear it to University, where at least I would not have to look at it. This may have been a cunning, deeply laid plan on my daughter's part. What can a mother do about her daughter's clothing choices? I know I rarely took any notice of my mother's opinion of my clothing when I was 17 (or at least I pretended not to take any notice)
Eventually, we came to a compromise. She would agree to dispose of the dress (the rag bag was looking good), if I would make her a replacement dress. Hence my suspicions about my daughter's possible mother manipulation tactics.
It was ridiculously easy.


I traced off the stretched out, horrible gappy bodice, trimmed about 3 cm from each side of my pattern piece, added 3 cm to the length of the bodice in order to diminish underwear exposure, and traced off one section of the skirt, correcting the grain and hem, and adding more length than I was later permitted to use. This may have been a cunning daughter manipulation technique to ensure later sufficient length to the skirt. Despite the long sentence, this took about 10 minutes.
The construction and cutting out of the dress took at least 30 minutes. This was only because the first version of the dress had a seam down the front, and this was rejected in my version, the solid fabric (cotton lycra from Stretchtex) not disguising this sufficiently. I had to chop the skirt off, cut off the side seams and replace the front with a single piece.
The top of the bodice is bound with the same knit, and the straps are lingerie straps which I serendipitously had lying around in the same colour as the knit. I reinforced the waist seam with lingerie elastic to improve stability and to support the weight of the skirt.
I then insisted that the dress hang (by the waistline) for a week before I hemmed the dress, except that I didn't hem the dress, I just cut the hemline to an even length.
The dress was received with qualified approval (another 2 inches off the hemline, and some discussion about the next one having deeper armscyes)(did you hear that next one remark), and I was allowed to chop up the beach dress. It was very satisfying.
I didn't do my own sewing,and I am seriously low in the boring-blouse-for-work department. That was the locally dangerous bit about the disposable fashion
I paid a token to my environmental consciousness by cleaning the bathroom with my new rags and a biodegradable septic safe cleaning potion. It doesn't have any real effect, but I'm sure it made me feel better.
Stashbusting statistics, about 1.5 m cotton lycra knit, in a nice bright colour for the Stashbusting challenge

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Vogue 1152, Rebecca Taylor frocks and my good fortune in living where the climate encourages me to make Summer dresses well into Autumn

I was inspired by the Stashbusting group to stash bust a pattern or two from my extensive and aging collection.( As usual for my sewing plans at the moment I am a month late in following the theme for March).This Rebecca Taylor frock, Vogue 1152 has been on my to-do list since I saw a few gorgeous versions, about 2 years ago. As the season, if not the weather, is now Autumn, I thought I'd make a last-of-summer dress from this highly appealing pattern. The piping and gathering at the front waistline was definitely calling to me, although I was not entirely confident that I could carry off the gathered sleeves.
For this frock, I did not make a toile, having no throw-away fabric of the correct weight, instead chosing to use a somewhat boring fabric for a hopefully wearable first version (internet colour surprize). I read the garment ease numbers, held pattern pieces up to myself and my dress form and made a few choices based on pattern reviews, with not entirely felicitious results.

When checking the fit at the bust, it seemed to me that the centre bodice pattern piece was rather short. Being almost resigned to endless FBA and feeling that gravity may have been acting in this region, I added 5cm to the depth and crossed my fingers that the generous wearing ease would take care of any circumferential dimension issues.
However, I had failed to take account of the extension of the yoke to the front. I blame the pattern photo on the envelope. What business has all that hair on the model, and the busy print, obscuring the shoulder! I ended up with an empire waistline design sitting pretty much on the waist, which was a tad annoying.
I had fiddled around with the front neckline, raising it 5cm, and also fully lining the upper centre bodice piece rather than using facings.
This was quite successful, except that I hadn't quite raised the neckline sufficiently for my personal aesthetic, so I made a petticoat from the same fabric, using Burda Style 05- 2009-124 , which took care of modesty both by avoiding excessive skin exposure in this region and reversing the translucency of the fabric.
 I kept the high/low shirt tail hem, with a little more added to the front to both hit my knees (I have short legs, so this front hem is quite high as designed - it is difficult to believe that the dress worn by the probably 6 foot tall model on the envelope is made to the pattern length), and to reduce the difference between the front and the back, which I felt was a bit dramatic for me. I also shortened the elastic in the casing at the back to reduce the waist circumference of the garment, and added an third piece of elastic here to manage the gathers more evenly.
I did try the sleeves, thinking of this as a transeasonal garment, but I felt ridiculously puffy and juvenile with the volume at the shoulders. I much prefer the dress sleeveless. The armscyes on my versions are bound with self fabric bias, trimmed to 1/4 of an inch, then folded to the inside and topstitched.
I also used a mixture of felled seams (princess seams on bodice), french seams (side seams) and bias binding on the zip. I'm quite pleased with the finishing on the inside. 
This dress, even with an additional layer of petticoat, is floaty and cool to wear, being made of cotton voile, but I wasn't entirely happy with it due to the dull fabric and the waistline placement, so I made a second version.

This one has the advantage of a better waist placement, more personally appealing neckline depth and also a normal straight hem. Using a dark fabric, in lawn, rather than pale voile fabric, also means I do not necessarily need a petticoat, which makes the dress ideal for very hot days.
I wore this dress today for what my husband told me was the last day of Summer weather (tongue in cheek, to persuade me to accompany him on a necessary trip). After the dull and necessary activities we went to the beach at a tourist spot and had fish and chips for dinner. Perfect.
Stashbusting statistics, 3.5m beige voile print (2011) - all gone, yay!, 2.4 metres navy lawn print (2012)
scrap report 1.1 m of navy lawn left over