Wednesday 27 June 2018

M7574 Cropped tee

When I was making my pleather pencil skirt I remembered this little remnant of textured knit and thought to make a top to go with the skirt.

They didn't work well together in the end as the skirt wasn't as high-waisted as I'd imagined it would be. But, here's my new top with a pair of wool trousers that I bought in Worcester back in 2001 (I don't do much clothes shopping you know!)

I've been wanting to use this fabric for myself for so long but it was only a small remnant and I couldn't find a pattern that fit on it. I desperately hoped I could make the long sleeved version of this top, but no, no luck.

The pattern is the Melissa Watson M7574 Knit raglan sleeve top and dress. I've previously made the View D dress (here and here) and this one is the cap sleeved, cropped View A top.

Again I struggled with getting the shoulder seams to not be too wrinkly. It took a few passes at stitching them to feel like they were behaving. But then the lack of sleeve weight makes the poor fitting at the front underarm really obvious. I don't see that area looking problematic on my dress versions with their slightly longer sleeves. There are fitting adjustment lines all over this pattern and it would be an interesting exercise to really try and get it right, but I suspect I might be ready to move on and say it's all a bit too difficult.

Not that I don't like this top. It's OK. The fabric is lovely: A thickish, cream knit with this geometric, embossed pattern in it. I picked it up as a remnant from The Fabric Store years ago.

My memory is shoddy and I didn't take notes when I was sewing, but I'm pretty sure I cut the length to use all of my fabric, so it's a bit longer than the intended cropped length. I suspect I've added an inch and a half perhaps.

Not much more to say about a little t-shirt.... I've finally resigned myself to winter being here to stay and I've put away all my summer clothes and brought out the wool trousers and coats. This little t-shirt can stay in the wardrobe as a winter top since it works well under a coat and is perfectly comfortable indoors where it's warm (that is to say, anywhere except at my house! brrrrr)

Wednesday 20 June 2018

Double Knit Double Dipped

Let's not ask who wore it best, OK?

When it comes to modelling sewn garments for the blog, the champion in our house is this kid. He schools the rest of us every. single. time.

It's the same wonderful and weird, double sided poly knit from Fabric Deluxe.

The pattern is my go to T-short pattern for the kids: The Oliver + S School Bus T-shirt

I went with the size 10 again and added the usual 15cm of sleeve length. Yes, you read that right, 15cm! I'm perfectly prepared to concede my kids are monkey-like in their arm length, but I'm sure this pattern must also have shortish sleeves. Don't tell me I'm the only one who adds length to the sleeves on this one?...

For a bit of fun I sewed the neckband using the reverse orange side of the double knit. The pattern has a standard round crew neck, but my tutorial for sewing a V neck is right here. It's super easy and looks great. Also, kinda handy when the fabric has less stretch than a regular t-shirt fabric and you want to make your neck-hole a bit more generous.

Not much more to say about a t-shirt, but he can model it with his skateboard....

And only gets caught out looking silly when I say he has a spot on his face....

I'm sewing the other colour of this fabric now, and it's looking great. Come on over to the inner west and get some. The coffee is awesome over here too.

Monday 18 June 2018

Vogue 8805 double knit dress

This dress jumped the queue when I found a fabric that forced me (seriously, I had no option to resist) to break my no-new-fabric intentions.

The fabric is a curious double sided poly knit from our new local, and utterly fabulous, fabric shop: Fabric Deluxe.

These photos don't do the fabric justice and you must know how incredibly annoyed I was to discover that my thermal top had curled up at the bottom and created that weird line across my lower abdomen. My ever patient husband takes the pictures but has absolutely no eye for that kind of thing bless him.

I had only gone in to Fabric Deluxe for some thread and was doing really well at avoiding all the lovely fabrics until this bolt of knit caught my eye. I have always had a weak spot for double faced knits, ever since P had a little Euro ready-to-wear hoodie that was two different striped knits bonded together.

The blue and orange were such a fun combination and I loved the subtle pinstripe and the curious embossed chevron/swoosh things. Given it's a double faced knit it has quite a thick, almost spongey texture and I figured it would make a nice long sleeved T for my son.

Of course once I'd decided to have some, and then found out it was half price, I suddenly found myself buying a bit more knowing I could make this dress pattern with it. Then they showed me the other colourways and I picked up a bit more for a dress for A too. The bolts turned out to be from a previous fabric store closing down and possibly is a fairly "vintage" fabric. It's curious and I like it.

The dress pattern is a variation on Vogue 8805. That's intended for a woven fabric and has options for colour blocking the dress. I went with the straight View B, sewing the elbow length sleeves and using the one fabric throughout. The topstitching still makes those seam lines stand out.

Not long after I'd bought the pattern I lent it to a friend and she sewed it up. She had also used a knit fabric and I tried on her version, which was a size down from what I would normally chose, and decided that was plenty big enough. The only thing I needed was two inches extra length through the waist. Even though it's a fairly straight dress, the slightly wider hip part was sitting oddly high and sticky-outy on me in my friend's version.

The pattern usually has a centre back seam with a slit opening at the neck with a button and loop closure. I figured that with a knit I could get away with cutting the back top section on the fold. Then I finished the neckline as instructed with a bias facing. Now of course that took nearly all the stretch out of the neck opening anyway. It just works for me, but if you have a head that often doesn't fit though headholes then don't do this, do as the pattern instructs!

We've had a definite turn towards winter in the weather over the last few days, and I was wearing this dress today with a thermal top (better tucked in!), tights and boots. It was lovely and warm and every bit the secret pyjamas we all love in a winter dress.

The elbow length sleeves have a fun straight width that looks almost a little flared.  The dress comes in different cup sizes and while I didn't know which one I'd tried on, I plumped for the A/B version which fitted my lack of boobage. I was very happy to find the bust darts were just the right height and length.

I would very much consider making a version of this dress in colour blocked crepe. Maybe with a sway back adjustment or even centre back seam to give it a bit more shape. I think it could easily turn out to be one of those fancy looking but super easy to wear dresses. My funny poly knit version certainly doesn't look fancy, but boy is it nice to wear.

Speaking of boys, I'll show you the kid's long sleeved T in another blog post because, of course, he nailed the modelling and he makes me look completely hopeless by comparison.

Pattern: Vogue 8805
Size: 12
Modifications: 2" extra length at waist, omitted back neck opening
Fabric: Double sided poly knit from Fabric Deluxe

Tuesday 12 June 2018

Pleather Pencil Skirt

When Liesl + Co released the Extra Sharp Pencil Skirt pattern I immediately thought of a length of brown, faux snakeskin pleather I had in my stash.

But I'd forgotten it was super shiny. Not to be a skirt for me. (I tihnk A wants it as a bomber jacket, which would be insanely cute)

Thanks to my seven year old for photography
Then I thought of the remnant of pink stretch cord that I'd made A's pants out of. Nope, there wasn't enough. Then I remembered this olive green stretch pleather and dived straight in. (after tracing off 4 other skirt patterns trying to use up the oddly shaped and small remnant of pink cord anyway).

I measured about a 6 waist and 8 hips, but that seemed weird since I'd only just recently made the size 10 Soho shorts and I haven't changed since then. or have I? Anyway I went with the 8 thinking it would be tight. It's obviously not, but maybe that's my fabric?...

The skirt closes with an invisible zip at the back and has a lovely generous kick pleat so it's really easy to walk in. In fact, in this stretch pleather I think I've got a good chance of being able to cycle in it. Not tried it yet but I don't doubt I'll get dressed one day and then realise I'm about to ride off. That either results in the skirt being cycle worthy or me hoicking it up into my knickers, but I never bother going back indoors to get changed! :)

The pattern very kindly has you sew the zipper and back panels first. That means that all the fitting can be done using the side panels. I love that 'cause often the zipper is the last thing you do and the time when you realise it's not going to fit all that well after all. So then why didn't I get the tight fit I was after?...

The pleather has quite a bit of stretch and when I put it on I convinced myself that once the interfaced yoke facing was attached and the waistband stabilised with twill tape it would feel much smaller. I did take in the side seams above the hip. Each seam has a 1/2" seam allowance, and I stitched at 3/4" on all 4 seams for about 5" from the top of the skirt. Effectively my waist size has come down by 1" and is closer to the size 6 after all. Maybe a straight size 6 next time (bet I use a non stretch fabric and it's too small, aaargh the indecision!).

I didn't take photos of the insides, but I finished the edge of my waistband facing with some of the bias leftover from my recent jacket. The twill tape on the waistband seam allowance is great, and stops it from turning into a stretched out mess throughout the day. It sits low on my hips rather than high waisted, but at least it doesn't sink lower as the day goes on!

I pretended my pleather was a bit more real leather looking than it truly is, and edgestitched the side seams on both sides. It keeps the seam allowances tidy and other than that I didn't finish them in any other way. But the stretch pleather doesn't really look or hang like real leather, and now I feel like I want to size down and make the real thing in leather. Or maybe leather front and back with thick ponte side panels - I just saw an olive green leather/ponte Calvin Klein skirt in a consignment shop that was just like that (it didn't fit or it would have been mine), maybe that's why I was inspired to use this fabric from my stash.

So while i didn't get this one quite right, I've worn it a couple of times and it's not too bad. I love the pattern and will definitely be going back for another round, or two. There's a sew-along coming up on the Oliver + S blog with prizes available. I should try and time my next one to join in with that as it's always fun to feel a bit less isolated and less like a crazy lady when you're home alone sewing into the wee hours

Meanwhile, I'll keep wearing this one, and as someone pointed out on Instagram, I could spill my lunch in my lap and just wipe myself down with a sponge!

So long as it wasn't a hot lunch as I fear my skirt would melt!

Pattern: Liesl + Co Extra Sharp Pencil Skirt
Size: 8, but probably reduced to 6 around the waist
Fabric: Oliver green stretch synthetic pleather - I suspect a remnant from GJs, but so long stashed I forget.
Notions: invisible zip from Eliza, interfacing, bias binding, twill tape, thread.

Monday 11 June 2018

Tried and True T-Shirt Pattern

I've sewn a lot of T-shirts for myself but there's only one pattern that I've ever felt really worked for me. Other patterns have had curious features that I thought at the time were worth paying for, but they let me down in some other regard. Ultimately I've decided I'd rather play around with a well fitting T-shirt block and make my own changes.

And so it's the Metro Tee by Liesl + Co for me. I have seven of them now, and the first five have all featured here previously. You can see them all together on the Oliver + S blog or just stay here to check out the latest two...

Of the first five only one was made straight up as per the pattern. I thought it was time to go back to the beginning and sew another regular, straight up Metro T.

I sized down to the M, which is just below my current measurements, in order to get a tight fit, and made myself a long sleeved T-shirt out of some great stretch velour.

Please forgive the crappy modelling - I'd give excuses but really, I'm just crap at it. I took these pictures and cropped my grumpy face and/or closed eyes out of each of them before writing the Oliver + S post, and while I've worn the T-shirts since I can't find any motivation to rephotograph them.

This lush midnight blue stretch velour came from the remnants bin at Rathdowne Fabrics. It's pretty glam and while this is just the straight, crew neck t-shirt the fabric makes a lot of difference. Worn with black trousers and heels it could easily be a night out kind of top.

I think I was nervous that the long sleeves on the size M may prove to be a touch short so I added 1/2" when cutting. But it's obvious I didn't really need to. This pattern has a lovely generous sleeve length, so I guess that's a warning to the short arm blog audience.

When I was rummaging through my bag of thrifted vintage fabrics from Topbikephysio's mum I rediscovered a couple of cuts of vintage, semi-sheer, slubby cotton. I immediately wanted to make one more t-shirt so I could have seven, one for each day of the week!

I was interested to have a go at binding the neckline with a strip of woven bias binding. Much like this ready-to-wear t-shirt that I wore here

It turned out to be crazy simple. I cut the V neck to the depth I wanted but also so that the tip of the V would finish on a stripe. I managed to cut the front and back to get the stripes perfectly aligned at the side seams, but the fabric remnant was only small and there was nothing I could do to match the sleeves to the body. Curiously they match very well at the back - but I didn't get a picture of that. I guess you can have a sleeve head that suits stripes, or a sleeve head that suits my chest, arms and back, but not necessarily both.

This bias strip is only about 3/8" wide when double folded. To work out the length I simply layed it around the neckline from centre back to centre front under a little bit of tension. I marked the centre front point. To create the chevron requires a little mountain range looking thing that I really should have photograped - next time I promise. Then the bias strip is folded and pressed. If you press it so that the underside is fractionally wider than the outer then it's easy to stitch it on from the outside and be sure of catching the underside perfectly.

Size-wise, this one is back up to the size L and I think I cut the sleeves on the lengthen/shorten line - that may, or may not, have been intentional ;) The body is about 2 inches shorter than the t-shirt usually is due to fabric restrictions. All up I think it worked really well and I'll have to play around with some other quilting cotton scraps and bias bound V necks in future. I'll be sure to take pictures and write it up, it's a lovely finish to a t-shirt.

Seven T-shirts all very different but all from the one pattern. It's definitely my tried and true T-shirt pattern.

Saturday 9 June 2018

Rope Crochet Basket - more string tinkering

When we were on holidays in April I dropped into a beautiful string shop: String Harvest.

Some cotton rope and linen/silk twine became my souvenirs from out beach holiday!

I was thinking of trying to make a rope bowl or basket by using the twine to crochet over the rope. I dabbled in some crochet with my hemp twine bowl first and then sought out some tutorials for crochet over rope.

There are plenty of online tutorials but they all tend to dictate a pattern which requires counting stitches and knowing what you're doing. Completely contrary to how I approach any other craft task I seem to be a freestyle crochet type. By that, I guess I mean I can do a stitch but I don't know what it's called or how to read a pattern.

The only bit I ended up taking from a tutorial was how to start. It begins with a chain of crochet stitches. Those are laid alongside a section of rope and then the next row of crochet is done with the rope sandwiched between the crochet stitches.

An extra stitch or two at each corner allows the rectangle to form with nice rounded corners.

To create the angle between base and sides it was simply a matter of skipping a stitch every 4 or stitches. The sudden reduction in stitches gives the increased tightness that pulls the rope in and creates the sides.

Once I was happy with the depth - I was going for something shaped a bit like a small loaf pan - I made some handles. This was done by simply continuing to crochet over the rope but not catching the underneath crochet in each stitch.

Since it's essentially a coil pot it has a certain uneven wonkiness that I'm calling charming rather than wonky. Where the rope finishes I covered it with a little tab of Kraft-tex paper which I punched holes in with an awl and then stitched on with the Habu linen paper/silk thread.

That stitching was the only thing that the Habu thread really was not suited to. In trying to stitch with it, the thin, black silk thread that is wound randomly around the flat, linen tape just gets pushed into a big bunchy knot. It was necessary to have the holes in the Kraft-tex quite large and to make sure I went through the more open parts of the basket rather than trying to stitch through the cotton rope itself.

I looked again at purchasing some spray starch but baulked at the fact that it only seemed to come in a single use aerosol can. While I'm quite happy to create probably unnecssary crochet rope baskets I have a strong hatred of unnecessary packaging in general!

Instead I mixed some cornflour with hot water, stirred most of the lumps out then squeezed it through a bit of muslin to get a nice starch solution. I added a few drops of an essential oil (labelled as toilet room freshener but definitely the same thing!) in the hope it wouldn't end up smelling like a musty pancake with the cornflour starch. Dunked the whole thing then left it to dry in front of the heater.

I think it makes a nice little bathroom basket and if my mum didn't have such expensive taste in handsoaps I would have filled it for her and gifted it filled. As it was I photographed it with a few of my things in it, then took them out and put chocolates in it instead!

I still have lots of rope left over and next time I feel like tinkering I think I'll try the sewing machine zig zag version of a rope bowl.

Saturday 2 June 2018

A vintage trench - B6331

Or the blog post where I changed my mind a hundred times then made something anyway... And you know what? I kinda like it.

This trench coat was all about the fabric. I had to have it, and I had to use it somehow. When my friend @topbikephysio invited me round to her mum's house to rummage through the fabrics that were about to go to goodwill, one of the ones that caught my eye was this one.

As I pulled it out of the pile, topbikephysio's mum (let's call her Barb) exclaimed "oh, that's awful! I don't know what I was thinking"
No Barb, I said. It's fabulous and I know just the pattern for it.

I was thinking of this very pattern, the Lisette for Butterick B6331 cropped trench coat.

The fabric is curious, and like nothing I'd ever felt or seen before. It has a very tight weave, a moderate matte sheen and a feel almost like a laminate. It didn't feel greasy like an oilskin, neither did it feel tacky or plasticky like a laminate. All I knew was that it was destined to be a trench coat.

Barb was happy to see it go and I squirreled it away.

Of course I didn't cut it straight away, and in that time I fell hard for a completely different pattern:

Vogue 1564, a Katherine Tilton raincoat pattern was released and I snapped up a copy from the Vogue/McCalls US website when it was on sale. Of course I still didn't sew it up straight away (my excuse was it was summer after all) and a few months later, in Spotlight, I was so enthused about the idea of this pattern and this fabric that I bought the pattern again. Not on sale this time. Doh.

As the weather cooled I traced off what I thought would be my size, laid the pieces out on my fabric, found it would fit, and then hit up Jimmy's buttons for the perfect leather closures

Oh it was going to be so good! I had even made a muslin to check that the fit would be OK.

Finally it was time to lay it out and start cutting. It was then that I realised that I had no pattern piece traced for the facings. Given that the facing is the whole inside of the hood it's hardly a piece you can do without, although I hadn't needed it for my muslin fit check.

I went back through my pattern tissue sheets and it seemed I was missing three pattern pieces, so probably one whole sheet of pattern tissue. How fortunate then that I'd double purchased the pattern. Sure enough, the other pattern had one more sheet of pattern tissue and all the pieces present. But now it was apparent that while I had 4 metres of this amazing fabric, it was only 90cm wide (very retro) and was not going to be enough. Absolutely no way could it be done. There were tears.

By this time, the idea of a coat of any description made with this fabric was so entrenched (ha!) in my head that it was going to have to happen. Back to plan A then.

I only had the one size range of the Lisette B6331 and it was the larger 14-22 envelope. The 14 was bound to be roomy enough so I traced that off, adding an arbitrary 1" at the waist lengthen/shorten line and an additional 3" at the hem, which was as much as my length of fabric would allow. I used every last bit of this fabric and so it was now doubly obvious that a longer coat with a giant hood was always going to be an impossibility.

While I didn't make a muslin I did do a little internet research on the pattern. I found SewManju's version with extra sleeve and epaulette tabs and loved that. She had attempted a lining that didn't work out as well as she'd hoped and I also wanted to add a lining to mine.

I went with the easy-cheaty method of lining where one cuts an identical jacket from the lining and then just bastes the lining and the jacket together before attaching the facings.

The lining is from ClearIt and is quite cute: It has tiny birds and flowers on it and the words "tweet tweet, I am so sweet". While the green is an odd mismatch there is a purple in the lining that exactly matches one of the background shades of the main fabric. It's hard to see but 'behind' the green and black brushstroke pattern of the main fabric are little splashes of light blue and purple. I think it works, and heck, it's on the insides anyway.

The edge of the facing is finished with bias binding cut from the same lining fabric. And then the facing edge is slipstitched to the lining. The only changes I made in cutting the lining was to cut the centre back half an inch off the fold, then baste along that half inch line. Once the lining was all sewn in, I've removed the basting stitches and that has given me a 1" pleat centre back to allow some ease and movement in the lining.

Also the lining sleeves were cut to be shorter than the coat sleeves (of course) but then to have half an inch of extra length once seamed together to allow some extra movement up and down the sleeve.

The other snippet I learned from other people's experience with this pattern is that if you keep the original length then by hemming the garment you will stitch straight through the bottom part of your pockets.

They're dinky little inseam pockets anyway and would be utterly useless if they were cut short by a row of hem stitches. Thankfully my 3" extra hem length means the bottom of my pockets are just a scant inch or so above the hem.

For the perfect buttons I hit up Buttonmania. I knew I wanted a plastic button typical of a mackintosh button and it had to be this oddly blue shade of green, Of course they had just what I needed, and also had them in a slightly smaller size to use on my shoulder and sleeve tabs.

A point to note is that the button on the inside which helps to close the coat (the outside buttons on the wearer's right are purely decorative) should be a much flatter button. To have two chunky coat buttons on top of each other, one inside, one outside, would be a big lump.

Before I cut the fabric I did run it under the tap to see how it took to water. Water beads on it and stays there for quite a while before beginning to sink in. I haven't worn it in a rain shower yet and I know it won't be waterproof, but I imagine on a damp morning bike commute it might stay dry on the insides for just long enough.

I'd prepared for the worst in sewing the fabric. I bought a Teflon foot and got all worked up with memories (lets be frank, nightmare recollections) of sewing this one. But this fabric was a dream. It wasn't tacky under the sewing machine. It took a good ironing without threatening to melt or catch fire. In fact, it behaved just like a nice cotton. And you know that may well be what it is. In talking to Leslie of FibreSmith I mentioned the fabric and how much I was enjoying working with it and she told me about "polished cotton". Apparently all the rage in the 60/70's (Barb's fabric stash vintage), it was a cotton twill that was so highly polished and burred on one face so as to give it a super tight, semi water proof finish. Bring it back I say! - only in wider bolts than 90cm please.

And so there it is. A funny little garment. I wasn't sure about a cropped trench coat, and perhaps I'm still not. But it has it's benefits. I can cycle about in this one, whereas I suspect the narrow hemmed, longer Vogue pattern will be a pedestrian only coat. It definitely fills a gap in my wardrobe for a light, wind, and possibly shower, proof thing to throw on over a jumper on sports mornings.

Arguably this size might better fit someone with a larger bust than mine, and perhaps I should have gone out a size where I've added the extra hip length....

I still have a little burning candle inside me that's devoted to that Vogue pattern. So maybe that's what's stopping me declaring my pleasure with the mini trench. Or maybe it's just not me. But, whichever,
I'm wearing it most days for lack of anything else and I suspect it will grow on me day by day.

Pattern: Lisette for Butterick B6331
Size: 14
Modifications: added 1" torso length, 3" hem length. Added lining. Added tabs at shoulders and around sleeve cuffs.
Fabric: Vintage "polished cotton". Alannah hill lining from ClearIt
Buttons: Buttonmania of course