Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Red wool 1960s outfit

Did anyone catch Season 4 of The Great British Sewing Bee? I downloaded it and watched in on my iPad and fell in love with Jade's little cropped jacket in the 60s Week pattern challenge. I discovered this was the pattern she used:

I couldn't find the pattern for sale anywhere, so searched eBay for something similar. I had no luck at all! However, I did find this little number, in my size, and thought it was a good enough substitute. I could have kept searching, but there were only 3 weeks of winter left and I wanted to get it done in time before the weather gets hot.

I found some red wool mix at Spotlight for only $4.95/m and grabbed four metres of it. Turns out I didn't need that much as it is super wide, but it will all get used!

I started with the jacket. I transferred all my markings using carbon and a tracing wheel. I'm so glad I took the time to do this, because attaching the little yoke insert thing at the front would have been impossible without clear markings. As it was, it's a little dodgy when you look closely. In hindsight, I should have seen the lining first to practise the fiddly bits.

It is fully lined to the edges, and therefore is completely reversible. The arms are pulling up a bit due to the lining but the rest of it sits really well. It's very simple and smart. It doesn't have any fastenings- the pattern says to put buttons on the yoke thing but I left them out since they are purely aesthetic.
Not bad for my first jacket!

The dress was pretty quick to sew up. It's unlined- I thought about lining it due to itch factor, but decided I could just wear a slip underneath if I needed to. Turns out it's not itchy at all so that's good.

I had to unpick the side seams and reduce the seam allowance as much as I could around the hip area. I also need to extend the back darts up by a couple of inches. The fit on the back is not great but I'll hopefully fix that on the next one I make. I also chopped 3 inches off the length.

I've worn the outfit twice this week, but with the jacket inside out as I don't like to be matchy-matchy, and I might get mistaken for a flight attendant if I wear them together. 

If only I could put my hair up into a beehive!!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Soccer Mom Dress: Lisette Traveller

Helloooo! Gosh, I really have been a slack blogger this year. I haven't really been doing a lot of sewing anyway. But now that the winter months are here (if you can call 24 degrees celcius 'winter' [ok, the days start off a lot colder than that, but end up in the 20s in the middle of the day]) and this is the time of year when I usually make something a bit different to what I normally would wear.

In winter, my work wardrobe doesn't really change- I'm a dress girl and just add tights and scarf (and leather jacket or vintage woollen coat if it's really cold). But on the weekends I live in either jeans and some kind of top, or leggings with a tunic-length top. I've noticed that tunic length chambray or denim shirts are quite popular, so thought I'd make myself one- even though it's the kind of item that screams 'soccer mom' to me, and I'm so not a soccer mom.

Spotlight had 30% off their denims about a month ago so I picked up two metres of this at $11/m 
(I bought extra so I could make a skirt or something for Lizzie). I already and a pattern in my stash- this one by Lisette for Simplicity, which is known as the Traveller Dress.

I've already made View A but need to remake it in some cuter fabric and with some alterations. I made View B, but with the collar instead of a silly little neckband thing pictured on that view. Since I already knew that the size 8 would fit, I just went straight ahead and cut out an 8.

This was a pretty straightforward sew. I took my time over the course of a week. I made the pockets using the wrong side of the denim to give some contrast. The denim is quite thin and was really nice to sew.

I did a couple of really stupid things. Firstly, I cut the front pieces right on the selvage, thinking that the button plackets would cover the silly little holes near the selvage. As you can see in the above picture, the holes are clearly visible. I also didn't follow the directions for hemming the dress/shirt/tunic/whatever (I overlocked it then turned it once, instead of turning it up twice) which made the button placket shorter than the hem. Not a huge disaster. 

Also, when I wear it, the bottom two buttons don't sit right. It's pulling across my hips so I probably should have decreased my seam allowance down there.

I *think* I like husband says I look like a nurse from the 1970s, but what would he know? I think it needs some really bright leggings to make me feel not so much like a soccer mom. Stay tuned, they are coming!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Some recent projects

Hello! I'm back....and it's only been about a month! Whoops. I have been doing a little bit of sewing. 

I made this simple little A-line dress for Lizzie- I actually cut it out a year ago along with another one, and when I made the first one I decided to leave this one for a while as it was a bit big for her. It's super simple- just a front, back, facings and a little slit at the top of the back that closes with one button. I actually have two dresses made from this fabric, and we both wore our birdie dresses on Mother's Day. We looked totally cute.

I also made her a couple of Galleries by Boo! Designs...I think she has 5 or 6 of them now. I just love this pattern as there are so many variations. This was the first time making the top and I really only did that because I didn't have enough cherry fabric to make a dress.

I modified to opening at the back to make it super simple- just a small slit with a button, same as the birdie dress. She loves this one. I also have a dress made out of it and we wore them out to dinner last week for my birthday whereupon lots of ladies were pointing and oohing at our cuteness.

This was also my first time making a long sleeved version. I don't usually make long sleeved things as our winters are really short and I'd prefer to make things that she can wear all year round. She told me she doesn't like the sleeves so that's kinda annoying. I'm trying to convince her to wear it to her violin concert this weekend, and I'll wear my matching dress...

I made this a few months ago using a pattern that I almost got rid of because I didn't think it would suit  me. It's a great dress for work. I erred on the side of caution and added extra to the side seams and it's a little big but I can live with it. I'll be among another one soon. This is the pattern I used.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Megan Dress by Tilly Walnes

Hello, dear readers...if I have any readers left after my huge blogging hiaitus! Gosh, I haven't blogged since February, and it's almost May. What a slacker! I have an excuse though...teacher, first term of the school year....say no more!

I've actually made a couple of things but haven't had time to take any decent photos of myself wearing them. I like to have at least of couple of photos of me wearing my creations because it's kinda boring looking at Jane (my dummy) wearing them. I'm much cuter than her.

Anyway! I've wanted to revisit a few of my favourite patterns, but I promised myself to sew new-to-me patterns this year. I doubt I'll be able to stick to that for the whole year but we will see how it goes. I've had my eye on the Megan dress from Tilly Walnes' book ever since I bought it, but put it off because I have this weird notion that patterns from sewing books are a bitch to fit. I blame the Colette Sewing Handbook for this. I made a toile of the bodice in about July last year, and finally bit the bullet a few weeks ago.

It's so cute. I love the little dart tucks at the bust and have never made a dress with them. Also, the high waist intrigued me, and who doesn't love a little puffed sleeve? In the back of my mind I was worried that the shape of this dress would not suit me at all...happily, I was wrong!

I cut this is a size 2 and made absolutely no alterations. Could the fit be better? Yes, probably. It could do with some back neck darts as it sticks out a bit at the back, but the rest is pretty darn good! 

I've worn this twice and have had loads of compliments. It is such a cute, flattering shape.

The fabric is some quilting cotton that I got from the clearance table at Spotlight for $4/m. This dress does not use much fabric at all and is great for using up smallish cuts of fabric in your stash.

The instructions were clear and concise, not that I really needed to follow them.

All in all, a most pleasing make!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Lizzie's birthday

My baby turned six on the weekend. Crazy!

I always make her a special dress, and this year I decided on the Bow Peep Dress from the first issue of One Thimble magazine.

It's so pretty and girly!

For this dress, I wasn't my usual lazy self, and I actually went out and bought fabric specifically for this project. Some gorgeous black floral quilter's cotton, and some kind-of-matching polka dot quilter's cotton. The problem was that as I was cutting out the dress, I realised I was 30cm short. I didn't have enough to cut out the bodice front. I checked my local stores but they had sold out. I put out a call on Facebook and asked my non-local friends to look for it and post it to me. Then the following week, I went back to one of my local stores and they had it. Yay. But the next day, a friend in Brisbane sent me a text saying she'd bought me some from her local store. So I actually have a fair bit of it left now!

Anyway, this dress has some lovely features- the most obvious of which is the gorgeous thick belt loops which give a lace effect. It also has flutter sleeves (I doubled mine to make it even cuter), a massive sash, and button and loop closure at the back. How cute is it?!

I loved making this. The instructions were  good, but if I make it again I'll attach the skirt differently. It says to press in the seam allowance of the main bodice, and to sew the skirt to the bodice lining, top stitching the main bodice afterwards. It just looked too messy to me and I should have trusted my instinct which told me that my pressing wasn't straight enough for it to work that way.

All in all, a most enjoyable sew. Lizzie lives it. I don't have any action pics yet as they are still on my camera.

 I also made some cute bunting for her bed. It came all printed out on a panel- all I had to do was cut around the triangles, sew them together, and add binding. The panel also had a little owl shaped cuddly toy which I sewed up, but which is too boring to be photo-worthy.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Scary sewing....swimsuits!

One of my sewing goals this year is to make Elizabeth and I some super cute bathing suits. I've never made one before, and am still slightly scared of sewing with lycra. So I decided to cut my teeth on the Boo! Designs one piece swimmers with some leftover bits of lycra.

The instructions for this pattern are amazing, and a really great starting point for those who have never made swimmers. I took the skills I learned from this pattern and used them on my second pair of swimmers.

I made up a size 5 without taking any measurements, and they are gaping at the top. I'm not sure if this is because they're too big or if I stretched the neckline whilst attaching the binding. I'm not too concerned because they were just a practice pair, and Lizzie loves them anyway. 

I bought this funky 1970s bikini pattern on eBay the other week and I started on it as soon as it arrived. 

I had some pretty good quality lycra that has been sitting in a drawer for ages as it really isn't my colour, and decided to practice with it. I cut the largest size for the bottom, according to my hip measurement, and a B cup for the top.

I used the skills I'd learned making the Boo! swimmers to attach the elastic and make the binding/ straps, and they turned out much nicer than I think they would've if I'd followed the instructions. It told me to use cord in the straps but I used elastic instead. I used my overlocker for all the elastic and the side and crotch seams, and used my regular machine with a zigzag stitch and stretch needle for all my top stitching. I used a twin needle when I made Lizzie's and was not happy with the result so I will stick to zigzag from now on.

The boobie cups have a dart, but when I sewed one up and tried it on, it looked ridiculous. So I drafted another cup without the dart and now they are a basic triangle shape, which works much better for someone like me who is not well endowed in the bust department.

My stitching is pretty dodgy but I wasn't trying to go slowly or be perfect. I just wanted to practice making swimwear and figure out what does and doesn't work. I didn't line any of it so its a bit nipply. Now I can order some better quality fabric and make something really cool.

The bikini bottoms are VERY brief. They only just cover my buttcrack. Crazy 70s fashion! I think they make my bottom look super cute though!


Sunday, January 10, 2016

New Look 6587

I finished my first project of the year two days ago. A couple of weeks back, I went to Spotlight and they were having a sale on patterns- any three for $10. Seriously, that's a crazy price! I couldn't pass it up. This is what I got- 

Some fabrics for Elizabeth's birthday dress (which is the reason I went there in the first place), and three patterns. I absolutely love the little dress, and I have so many little girls' patterns but I couldn't resist this one. The retro top pattern is nothing exciting, but I needed a third one to get the deal. The one I really wanted was New Look 6587. I'd seen a cute version of it on Dolly Clackett's blog (otherwise known as Roisin Muldoon, my favourite blogger and sewer of literally hundreds of dresses).

The pattern cover is incredibly underwhelming. The sample dress is just fecking ugly. Ugly length, way too much frippery going on at the bottom, and terrible fit. And is it just me, or does the model look like Stifler's Mom from American Pie???

Anyway, it's View D that drew me to this pattern. It's like a totally different dress to the fugly sample one. It has a cute scoop neckline bound with double fold bias.

I used some quilter's cotton from my stash, and ordered some picot bias from an Etsy seller called Junee and Pop. I ordered tomato red and white, intending to use the red, but when it arrived it was more orange than red so I used the white.

Modification wise, I removed 6 inches from the skirt length as I hate anything below my knee. I also did my regular alteration of removing an inch of width from the neckline to account for my bony chest.

It all came together very easily, except for the binding which was a bitch. My machine doesn't like sewing through bulk at the beginning or end of a seam, so I had to take my time with the front opening bit where the binding ends. I also neglected to stay stich the armhole edges (the pattern didn't tell me to and I didn't even think of it), so the first time I bound it, it was all stretched out of shape and horrible. I managed to shrink it a bit by stay stitching with a small stitch and steaming it with the iron, but the armholes aren't as nice as I'd like.

I am quite happy with the fit. I erred on the side of caution and kept it a bit looser but next time I will play around with the princess seams to get a closer fit. I also think the pockets should be closer to the middle and not so far to the side. The 12 buttons are all functional- I didn't bother with 'fake' buttons.

I really like this dress and will probably make another one soon. It just screams summer to me!