Thursday 30 November 2017

Sun's Out! : Lisette B6464

Now that it's become seriously hot I've been getting a bit of wear from a little top that I made at the start of spring. It's the Lisette for Butterick B6464 Pull-over halter top.

This little pattern wasn't that high on my list of must-makes until I was playing around with the wrap around skirt fabric and the cream t-shirt and this unusual fabric leapt into that pile and demanded to join in the brick/cream sew along fun.

The fabric is by Kokka and is part of the Kuiskaus designer range, this one being known as Kuiskaus Kuplan Kukka. It's a very unusual fabric but absolutely gorgeous. The base is a cotton lawn of lovely quality and then it's "salt shrunk" in a process known as Enshuku to give a seersucker type effect. But instead of the traditional stripes of seersucker this is shrunk in big dots. It's been washed and ironed a couple of times and retains just enough texture and dimply-ness (too technical? At least you know what I'm meaning!)

One metre of this fabric came to me from Miss Matatabi courtesy of the lovely Emi who sent me a gift voucher a year ago. It hung around in my stash for that long until it found the perfect pattern. There are some other enshuku lawn fabrics on the Miss Matatabi site now and I know both The Cloth Shop and The Drapery have had (or still have?) these fabrics in stock. Get yourself some!

Liesl has made a few gorgeous versions of this patterns and between her recommendation and Justine of Sew Country Chick's comments (here and here) I knew to add length. I added as much as my one metre cut of fabric would allow, which I recall was maybe 2 to 3 inches.

As per their recommendations I thought I was sizing down a little from my measurements but found it still gaped a lot under the arms once it was made up. I always forget that while I've got shoulders and pecs, I ain't got no boobs! :) I tried fitting it as I went, but because the armholes get their bias binding before the neckband is attached it was hard to know just where it would sit. I ended up unpicking the bias binding around the underarm side seam and taking a good 3/4" off each side seam.

That solved the gaping, but of course it meant that the underarms now sit higher than they should. It's not disastrous but it's a minor annoyance that would have been fixed by narrowing and deepening the armhole rather than just taking in the side seam. The tip is definitely to size down and then add in an FBA if required.

I would absolutely make this top again and I think in a drapey silk it could look very formal, but in a cool lawn like this it's perfect for hanging out in the shade on a summer's day.

The extra length allows it to be tucked in as above or worn loose.

I'm not a hot weather fan at all, but I'm really enjoying some summer sewing. I've got another Liesl & Co top pattern in high rotation that still needs to be photographed and then a great sleeveless Vogue dress near completion too. Now where's my photographer....

Saturday 25 November 2017

Gingham what?

There I was, pondering whether to finally start my Frocktails dress and then up pops a photo in my Instagram feed of a Hopscotch skirt made up in pink gingham. This bit of procrasticrafting was entirely Sewpony's fault.

This fabric was gifted to me somehow and I have just never really liked gingham, nor this particular shade of pink.. But.. . I do love the Hopscotch skirt and when I saw Suz's version I was struck with the sudden need to combine a bit of less than desirable fabric with an awesome pattern and make something the kid would love.

We struggled to get good modelled photos as it was all a bit bright and sunny on that day with the camera, but it's in high rotation. And gee is it nice to see her in a skirt that is a decent length - we've had a closet clean out this week as so many favourites were just getting waaaaaay too short.

At the moment that inspiration struck we had some kid friends over for a playdate. The kids were all bickering a bit and as a distraction I invited A's friend to look through my Oliver + S patterns and choose a skirt she liked.

She picked the Sailboat Skirt and so the rest of the pink gingham was made into a Sailboat Skirt with a bit of white piping added.

I love making this little skirt. It's kinda 60's in its styling and it's super cute on. I was quite pleased with my finishing as I thought to use a little bit of the cotton adhesive tape I'd bought from Daiso to cover the seam allowance at the top of the kick pleat. Neat, huh?

While I'm not entirely managing to avoid adding to my fabric stash, I'm happy to be using much more than I'm putting in, and especially using up some of these bits that have sat in there for a few years now.

Patterns: Oliver + S Hopscotch Skirt and Sailboat Skirt
Sizes: Size 6 width 7 length (Hopscotch) and size 5 width 6 length (Sailboat)
Fabric: Mystery poplin-like gingham
Notions: Buttons, elastic and lots of pretending I didn't have something else I should be making

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Back to the Wrap Around - Part 2

Phew, such a big backlog of garments waiting in line for their blog appearance, thanks to all my procrasticrafting, and surprisingly there's almost as much for me as for the kids. So, here I am, butting in again, loudly claiming it's my turn.

Let's go back to the wrap around again....


No sooner had I made my seventies wrap around skirt than I found myself in a big barn of a second hand market convinced there would be some pattern treasure to be found...

I found surprisingly little, although the shop assistants told me there were "lots of sewing patterns". but I did come away with this seventies gem: Butterick 4137

To be honest I had no intention of trying to make the flared trousers, I just wanted to make the skirt, but then something came over me and there I was cutting out the pants.

I had some medium to heavy weight linen in the stash (from Eliza) that may have cost all of $6/metre and I figured I had nothing to lose.

Holy Cow. Wide leg pants are THE BEST. I think I've always known this, but I forget and try to get on the narrow leg bandwagon every now and then. But give me big, wide, long and swishy and I am in trouser nirvana.

So where's the wrap around bit, you ask?

At the back! Please excuse the double tie outfit, but we had a sudden spring cold snap and my merino fleece modified Metro T seemed the perfect thing to wear with my trousers - at least from the front it did.

These pants are odd and kinda genius in their construction. The waistband comes from the back and includes the pockets and side front sections then closes with buttons (or snaps if you're lazy like me) at the centre front.

Then the front portion comes up forming the front waistband and hiding the pockets openings to tie at the back.

Arguably you could adjust the waistband ease and the ties to accommodate a big lunch, but realistically you can't. Or at least I can't in this size. If I was to loosen off the front flap then the underlying pockets would start to peek out and it would get a bit ugly.

But blessedly I needed no adjustments at all. I got extremely lucky with a crotch curve and waist height that is just fabulous!

I need to remember this pattern as a reference for other pants patterns. The back darts are just right and the depth, curve and shape of the fit is amazing. That is to say, I never make pants so I have no idea, but I'd like every pair of pants I might ever make to fit like these do.

I kept the original length, which, as you can see is quite long. Half the fun of swishing about in super wide leg linen pants is wearing some heels with them. The pattern cover has me half tempted to track down some cork platform wedges and a headscarf :)

The only changes I made was to use bias binding to finish my pocket and front flap seams as well as the raw edge of the hem.

Practically I think I need to make another pair and cut them at that much-more-modern7/8ths length so that I can wear them with any shoes. But now, I just want to swish about all summer long in my seventies flares.

Pattern: Butterick 4137 circa 1970something - single size 28" waist
Fabric: Medium weight steel gray linen.
Notions: interfacing, snaps and bias binding.
Swishy fun factor: 10/10

Thursday 16 November 2017

Butterflies and Hula Hoops

It's not all about me.

If you're new to my blog that might be a surprise. If you know the blog you've probably been wondering who this showboating mum is who never seems to sew for her kids anymore....

So let me reintroduce myself: Hi, I'm Shelley, I sew for my kids and mostly sew Oliver + S patterns. Ah, that's better.

Nothing makes me more inclined to sew an Oliver + S pattern than the looming deadline of some other unknown, possibly tricky pattern. Of course, part of my "procrasticrafting" before sewing my Frocktails dress was going to involve some Oliver + S sewing. They're like the amuse-bouche of patterns, but they're also so darn satisfying that you could forego the main course and just go to bed satisfied.

I've also been on a bit of a kick to use up fabric that is languishing in my stash. So I pulled out a quilting cotton (last used way back here) and a cotton batiste to make the Hula Hoop Skirt and the Butterfly Blouse.

I've previously made the Butterfly Skirt but this was my first time with the blouse. What a perfect girl's top. Enough coverage but still frilly and fun. It's a straightforward sew with nice clean finishes and generally an absolute joy to make. My armhole bindings could have been a fraction longer but binding puckering will not make me lose sleep ;).

And we finally found a place for that single rainbow button that had been waiting for a garment to hitch up with.

The top is size 6 with the length of size 7 - exactly as per her measurements and it's a perfect fit.

The Hula Hoop skirt is a digital only pattern and with the sewing of this one I can now say I've finally sewn all the Skirt patterns by Oliver + S. As you make them each one becomes your new favourite.

This one is certainly a big hit with the kid. It's twirly enough, comfy to wear, and the bonus is that it's completely reversible so you get two skirts in one.

We had just found these Converse boots on a sale table and she is love with them. She's convinced she looks like a "high school kid" in her outfit. Slow down honey, you're only in grade 1! (sobbing)

The skirt is a straight size 6 and while I've heard comments that it runs a bit short (especially in the toddler sizes?) I love the shape and fit. The drop waist is kind of retro but then the flirty, pleated flounce is just gorgeous. It's such a quick skirt to sew I must remember to make more each summer.

I suspect she'll remind me!

Patterns : Oliver + S Hula Hoop Skirt and Butterfly Blouse (also worn with Class Picnic blouse)
Fabrics: Stashed cotton
Sewing satisfaction rating : 10/10 - procrasticrafting at it's best

Sunday 12 November 2017

Frocktails Vogue 1339 : Me and Guy

First things first... that title rhymes. If you're going to dive in deep with Vogue 1339 you will need to get on friendly terms with the Guy Laroche voice in your pattern envelope. OK, technically Guy Laroche himself passed away in 1989 and this pattern was released in 2013 but if you're speaking to the spirit of a french designer it's even more important to pronounce his name right. Right?

So... Guy rhymes with me.  Alors, let's get to it!

I think I've finally found my sewing "thang" when it comes to fancy frocks. And it's exactly this. a moderately complicated, designer Vogue pattern made up in a ridiculously cheap knit fabric. The sewing journey is fun, the fitting is forgiving if not downright easy and the price of failure is negligible.

I'd bought this pattern quite some time ago in a Spotlight $5 Vogue pattern sale and then let it marinade. After thoroughly enjoying making the Vena Cava dress, then the Vogue 1342, I knew it was time for another knit number.

There is absolutely no point in trying to pre-read and understand the instructions prior to sewing, you just have to "go with the Guy"  and sew each step as it comes. But, a little research beforehand proved to be immensely helpful...

This superb review on Pattern Review .com  set me up perfectly. Thanks Grays08!
The first tip I took heed of was sizing. I measured exactly as per the size 14 in bust, waist and hip, but the hot tip was to size down, especially for the skirt portion. Well I was never going to be a bigger size up top than down below so I boldly went with a 12 all over.

The pattern is a hefty package of eight sheets of pattern tissue and since I had no conviction of getting it right first time I traced my pattern.

The skirt is made up of an enormous skirt panel, and enormous skirt lining and then the flounces. The cutting had to be done on the biggest floor space I could find and the fabric really does need to be 60" wide knit. I think I got away with about 3.5metres instead of the 4 on the packet but I didn't measure. At $4/metre from Eliza's my fabric was so cheap that I didn't cut to preserve every last inch.

And then begins the sewing (unless you procrasticraft for weeks and make a gazillion other things for yourself and the kids because you fear once you start it might be an infernal mess), and yes, when Guy says sew the front shoulder neckline to the back shoulder armhole, that's what he means. Don't question the Guy, just sew it. Exactly as per the written and illustrated instructions.

Whats-more it's a french seam, because somehow, you don't know how yet, that shoulder seam is going to twist and a small part of it is visible. (I'm not wearing that shoulder seam correctly in these photos but that's how it lay when I put it on and it was time to go party so no reshoot). So it's like a wrong side to right side, front side to back side neckhole to sleeve hole confusion of a seam. But that's only hard if you fight it or try to think about it. This is Keanu Reeves Matrix style sewing only frenchier and way more sexy.

Oh, and on the other side you'll do a french seam with a big box pleat. Then the right armhole - an entity in itself, and the left armhole/neckline hybrid each get a tiny hand rolled hem the whole way round. Guy was playing with me and I was starting to really enjoy myself.

The bodice has a couple of pleats at the waistline which helps with the way it drapes but otherwise are not noticeable.  There are also these little triangle stays which are created with two triangles of fabric, stitched and turned, then added in to the waistband. Here they are but I think they are somewhat redundant due to Grays08's next fabulous tip off....

The intention is that those triangles, anchored to the upper part of the side bodice seam will hold up the skirt. Ah, non, ce n'est pas possible Guy.

The skirt is a lot, seriously a lot, of fabric and while you could make it as tight as you liked it would still sag under it's own weight. The only two reviews of this pattern I could find both said that adding elastic to the waistband was ESSENTIAL. Once the skirt and lining were attached I stitched a loop of 1cm elastic that was a good 2 inches shorter than my waist measurement onto the seam allowance. It then gets sandwiched between the skirt and lining and once you start stitching them together with all the gathering there would be no going back to add it later.

Another excellent tip for the skirt was to make all the pattern markings on the RIGHT side of the fabric. Once you have the skirt and lining together you would never see markings on the wrong side. I used a chaco liner but it faded a lot with all the handling and thread marking would be wiser.

The skirt and lining are gathered together along the side seam and then stitched, according to the instructions, with a single line of stitching. I went with two rows of stitching and added some satin bias binding to the inside to help support and stabilise the fabric.

This was the only part of the dress that needed a redo. The original amount of gathering had the dress almost floor length on me (170cm, 5'7") and the ruffle slit down below mid shin. I confess I thought briefly about just scissor shortening the dress - it is unhemmed after all, but the too low slit bothered me.

I unpicked my gathering and lopped about two inches off my bias binding and then also started and stopped the gathering at least an inch further above, and below, the original pattern markings. If you don't want it super-ruched I'd suggest using the pattern marking lines to shorten the skirt for anyone under about 5'10".

And there was my dress finished. Even after all my procrastinating and delayed starting I was done, with about 10 days to go.....

I tried really hard not to start anything else. Really I did. But then I remembered that wonderful Ida Clutch pattern that everyone but me seemed to have made. And I recalled some patchy, deep red fabric in the stash. Next thing I knew I was whipping up a bag...

It's a great, free pattern and a lovely size for all the necessary stuff for a night out. The only challenge is finding a 10" zip with an interesting metal puller, but I now know that Kylie of Kylie and the Machine sells them, as well as whole kits to make the clutch. There's your Christmas gift tip off right there.

Did I say the Ida Clutch is a nice, simple sew? Well it only took one evening and there I was twiddling my thumbs again and trying desperately not to start second guessing my dress. I decided I need tassel earrings and wondered if the deep red macrame thread I'd used for Pip's necklace might match. Did it ever!

Looking for a tassel in one of my macrame books I came across this bracelet pattern. I loved how the folding, cascading squares were a nod to my skirt's flounce. I had to make it.

It's from the Bohemian Macrame book that I'd used before and is actually quite simple being just horizontal half hitches and nothing more. Quite a lot of them of course and it did keep me very busy, but with one night left at the end I made my tassel earrings after all.

For these I referenced a tassel in a new macrame book (Macrame by Fanny Zedenius) that has some fabulous big wall hangings. I need to get deeper into that one.

Cheap knit fabric, pattern on sale, purse from scraps and string jewellery. That's thrifty glamour right there! I think my eyelashes cost more than my outfit :)

Thanks for reading. Au revoir et merci from Guy and me!

Pattern: Vogue 1339 Guy Laroche. Now out of print, snap it up if you find it.
Size: 12 (measured a 14)
Fabric: "dry knit" from Eliza's
Modifications: Added elastic to waist. More ruching to decrease skirt length and stabilised ruching seam.
Accessories: Ida clutch by Kylie and the Machine and macrame jewellery (links in blog post)

Monday 6 November 2017

Back to the Wrap Around - Part 1

When I was a kid I recall a wrap around skirt that I loved. We made these skirts at school. They were calico and hand stamped with orange paint and all my friends had one too. We loved those skirts dearly...

Jump forward a "few" decades and I'm in love with the 70's wrap around fashion all over again.

Some time ago I found this vintage Very Easy Very Vogue pattern (9516) in the window of the Gaye Abandon School of Sewing. It joined my pattern stash with no immediate plans to be made. This fabric also entered the stash with no real plans in mind. I bought it at Tessuti on my birthday and it's described as a "japanese technical double fabric". It's drapey enough to be made into anything, but solid and weighty enough for pants or a skirt. The two were a match made in heaven.

I show you the pattern envelope partly to help establish which pattern I've used but also as justification for a funny, to me at least, photo shoot. If you can't amuse yourself, hey?...

I've sewn View A, the shorter version on the left, but let's start with some View B style modelling:

The skirt is constructed of only two main pattern pieces and the pockets. The skirt pieces are cut very much on the bias with a centre front seam and then overlap at the back. The overlap is generous, even when I was testing the waist size by being an extra 1" over.

The waistband continues into the ties and on the left side there is a buttonhole sewn into the waistband to allow the tie to pass through. Then it simply ties in front. A super easy sew, especially if you're hasty like me and don't wait for your bias cut skirt to hang before hemming.

Ok, bring out the old golf club for a bit of View A style:

The pockets are made as patch pockets. Two pocket pieces are sewn almost entirely together, turned right side out then stitched onto the skirt. In a crisper fabric that would be fine, but this fabric was not lending itself to neat pressing or tidy edges. I should also remember to position them about 1/2" further to the front if I make the skirt again.

To complete my seventies golfing lady ensemble I also made the T-shirt. I was missing some more fitted tees in my wardrobe. This is the Liesl + Co Metro T-Shirt in a size M (but possibly with the seam allowances sewn at a bit more than 1/4"). The other change I made was to deepen the neckline by about 1/2" and then do a binding rather than a neckband, thus making it a wider opening again.

I've worn this outfit a few times already since making it a couple of weeks ago - part of the huge amount of making that was procrastinating (or #procrasticrafting) prior to starting my Frocktails dress. Of course Spring in Melbourne has not been warm and has been quite windy. So how does a rearward opening wrap around skirt fair?

Pretty darn well actually. I think it's more secure than a front overlap as the act of walking doesn't constantly open up the skirt. Also, on the bike I can simply sit on the overlap and it's just like cycling in any other kind of skirt.

It was a little bit windy for these photos and since my husband, bless him, was being photographer, the challenge became to see what it would take to get a photo of my knickers.

"Twirl a bit for me honey" he said...

Now I'm not saying it's impossible to catch a cross-tail wind and get accidental exposure in this skirt, or that faster twirling doesn't result in the same.

But since I get to edit those photos that make it on the 'net it shall remain an unresolved mystery.

Then the soccer ball came out and the photographs got really silly :)

Pattern: Very Easy Very Vogue 9516 c1970s
Size: Waist 71cm / 28"
Fabric: technical double fabric (nope, no idea what's meant by that) from Tessuti
No notions, no modifications.

Pattern: Liesl + Co Metro T-shirt
Size: M , but possibly smaller as I suspect I was generous with the seam allowances
Fabric: Oatmeal merle cotton from the stash
Modifications: Deepened neckline and used self binding instead of a neckband.