Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Year of the Sleeve

Fabulous sleeves of all shapes, sizes and design have featured heavily in the fashion scene this year. I have made Vogue 8945 to dip my toe into this fun trend.

I have had this pattern for over a year, and now I am kicking myself for procrastinating so long. Vogue rate this pattern as "very easy" and I would agree. On the pattern envelope it is described as a semi fitted dress, with neck and sleeve variations and a back zipper.

Vogue 8945
I made view B with the V neckline and the sleeve flounces, in a size 14. I love the fit of the dress. The back vertical darts give just the right amount of shaping and the front skims across the body without clinging to any bulges. It is quite flattering on my body shape.

The only alteration I made to the pattern was to only add one flounce, and instead of hemming the flounce, I lined it with the same fabric. This eliminated the need to sew a narrow hem and stopped the wrong side of the fabric showing, so was a great solution all round.

The fabric is a printed polyester georgette from Spotlight. I think this is the first time I have sewn with georgette and although it was a little tricky, it behaved quite well. I used a rotary cutter to cut the fabric and this resulted in quite accurate cutting, as the rotary blade does not lift the fabric like scissors can do. I used an invisible zipper and it turned out ok. It is a little wavy, but this busy leafy print is a great camouflage for any wonky sewing.

I stabilised the neckline with some narrow cotton tape which worked well, eliminating any stretching of the neckline. I used french seams to create nice neat insides and also because the georgette is a little transparent and I didn't want overlocked seams showing through. I didn't line the dress, but it was necessary to wear a slip underneath. The hem was hand stitched.

These photos were taken in a rush last weekend, just before we left home for my work Christmas party. I think this dress will get a few more wears this festive season. I'm loving those swishy sleeves and I'm thinking this pattern could be easily adapted to make a top too.

Happy Sewing


Sunday, 20 August 2017

Style Arc Alissa Knit Dress for "Artwear August"

Style Arc Alissa Knit Dress
This was my August MAGAM (make a garment a month) which is a sewing challenge over on Instagram, hosted by @sarahlizsewstyle. This month's theme was "Artwear August". I procrastinated for over a week trying to come up with something arty, but then I realised the Style Arc Alissa Knit Dress had a bit of an "arty" vibe with that unusual draped pocket, and I had purchased the pattern in their recent sale and had the perfect fabric in my stash.

My sewing plan posted on Instagram.
The fabric is a double knit purchased from Spotlight recently in an olive and cream polka dot pattern. I love that the polka dots are a little bit random in size and placement, also adding to the "arty" vibe.

Despite looking a little difficult, this was actually quite an easy garment to construct. Style Arc include an excellent diagram in the instructions which really was very helpful. I don't think I had any head scratching moments during the construction of this dress.

The back of the dress dips down slightly, as you can see in the photo above. I constructed most of this dress on the overlocker. Only using my sewing machine for the neckline binding and the front seam that joins the bodice to the draped skirt (as this was a most unusual shape, incorporating the clever pocket design). I sewed the sleeves in flat and they went in so easing required at all.

The back is very simple, with just a centre back seam with some shaping. There are no closures required as this dress slips easily over your head. I made my usual size 12 with no alterations. All the hems were sewn with my coverstitch.

The pocket drape construction is so clever and so easy to achieve. The only change I made was to tack the pocket drape to the seam allowance before sewing the side seams. It was then securely caught in the side seam. The instructions say to "sew a small stitch to connect the folded edge of the pocket to the right side seam" after the side seam is sewn.

This was an easy dress to sew and it is an easy dress to wear. The fabric is easy care and it will fit into my wardrobe beautifully. Love it!

Happy Sewing


Sunday, 13 August 2017

Sewaholic Hollyburn...a departure from my usual style.

Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt
The Hollyburn Skirt from Sewaholic Patterns has been around for several years, and it has taken me forever to jump on the bandwagon. I have only purchased the pattern recently and I am kicking myself for putting it off for so long. 

The skirt comes with three length variations and the choice of belt loops or button tabs. All views have pockets too. I chose view A, which finishes below the knee, and I added the button tabs to the waistband. I am wearing it here with my Style Arc Elsie Woven Overshirt.

The fabric is a 100% wool suiting in navy with a subtle stripe. This fabric was a recent gift from my mother and it originally came from my grandmother's fabric stash. I have no idea how old it would be, but she passed away in 1988 at the age of 80 so it would have been purchased a number of years prior to that. It was a large piece approximately 3 metres long and 1.5 metres wide but a big section of it was riddled with moth holes. I had to carefully mark all the moth holes with chalk before laying out the pattern pieces in order to avoid them. There was plenty of undamaged fabric available for the skirt, and there is still a large piece left over for something else.

I cut a size 12 based on my waist measurement as this is the most fitted area of the skirt. My hip measurement put me at size 8, but I decided to make a straight size 12 as I liked the idea of a nice full skirt. I am really happy with the fit of the skirt so I'm glad I didn't try to blend sizes. If your hip measurement is proportionally larger than your waist measurement then you would need to grade between sizes.

I love the roomy pockets and how neat they turned out. The instructions with the pattern are very thorough and easy to understand. In fact I was amazed at how easy this skirt was to construct and how beautifully it went together. This would be an ideal pattern for a beginner sewist. I just love the shape of the skirt and it feels so elegant to wear.

Here is a closer view of the button tab and the pocket. I cut the pocket with the stripes running the opposite way so I didn't have to worry about matching the stripes. The waistband is quite wide and sits high on my waist. I really like this and the way it gives the illusion of me actually having a waist. I did attempt to match the stripes on the centre front and centre back, creating a chevron effect, but this didn't work out perfectly. In fact this pattern is not recommended for striped fabric.  

 I used an invisible zipper in the centre back seam. The instructions recommend a regular zip so I hope this one holds up ok. I'm pretty happy with my zip insertion and getting the waistband lining up on each side. This did take a couple of attempts before I got it right.

I got carried away when constructing my skirt, and forgot to add the lining at the appropriate step. So silly, but it would have meant too much unpicking to go back and add it, so I decided to just hand stitch it in after the skirt was constructed. I'm so glad I added the lining, as it makes the skirt feel so luxurious when wearing it.

Here is a shot of the insides. I used french seams on the lining. The centre front and centre back seams were sewn on the machine, pressed open and raw edges overlocked. The side seams were overlocked together and pressed towards the back. I wanted to retain as much length as possible so I finished the hem off with some satin bias tape from my stash which was hand stitched to remain invisible on the right side.

As you might have guessed, I absolutely love my new skirt, even though it is quite a departure from my usual style. I really enjoyed sewing this wool suiting (quite a change from my usual ponte knits) and I think my Grandmother would have approved. 

Happy Sewing


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Style Arc Trio (Fay, Nina & Ann)

I bought this gorgeous printed jersey recently at Spotlight. The colours are so vibrant, and I had the Style Arc Fay Skirt in mind, as it is such a simple pattern...perfect to let the fabric shine. The skirt is self lined, which makes it much less clingy or revealing than a single layer would be and it has an elastic waist. This is my third version of the Fay Skirt. You can see the first one here and the second here.

I agonised over the print placement in this skirt. In fact, the fabric lay spread on my cutting table for several days while I dithered over the best area of the print to feature on the skirt.

I think it turned out alright in the end. I am wearing it here with my latest Style Arc Nina Cardigan in a black merino knit from The Fabric Store Online. This is my fourth Nina Cardigan and so it goes without saying that I love this pattern. 

The white top is another Style Arc pattern... the Ann T-Top which I previously blogged here. I am a little disappointed with this outfit after seeing these photos. The top is far too baggy and long. A shorter, more fitted top would have looked so much better with this skirt. Does anyone else find that photos reveal far more than just looking in the mirror?

Happy Sewing


Friday, 21 July 2017

Style Arc Salma Wrap (or is it the Shirley Shrug?)

The Style Arc Salma Wrap was sent to me by Style Arc, a few years ago, as a gift, for sending on an order that I received in error. I really can't complain about their customer service as I have only had positive experiences, even when things have gone wrong.

I can't find the Salma Wrap on their website now, but there is the Shirley Shrug which appears to be identical to the Salma Wrap. They must have given it an update.

I was trawling through my patterns looking for something suitable for this lovely blue/black textured silk/cotton knit I bought from Knitwit last year when I was in Perth. It is the same fabric I used in my Adeline Dress only in a different colour. When I came across this pattern, I thought it would be ideal. The knit is low stretch, but has a lovely drape and it has worked out well for this pattern.

The Salma Wrap (Shirley Shrug) has quite generous proportions and will work well as an extra layer over many outfits. Here I am wearing it over my Style Arc Wallis Pants, and a Black Merino Deer and Doe Plantain Tee (tunic length), but it would work just as well over a dress.

It is a very simple pattern...only one pattern piece, of which you cut one pair. The two pieces are joined with a long seam horizontally across the back. I pressed this seam open and top stitched the seam allowances down to create a nice neat finish. The side seams were sewn the same way. All the hems were turned twice, using Bond a Web to stabilise them before top stitching.

This was a very quick and satisfying project, and I'm glad to have this fabric out of my stash and into my wardrobe.

Happy sewing


Saturday, 15 July 2017

A Modified Coco Dress for July's MAGAM

July's theme for MAGAM (make a garment a month) is Seasonal Stashbuster. I outlined my plans on IG earlier in the month: 

"I am planning to sew this lovely tartan double knit from my stash into a winter dress, loosely based on the Tilly and the Buttons Coco Dress. I will reduce the flare of the skirt, add vertical darts at the back, add a bias cut split lapped collar and bias cut patch pockets. Hope it turns out as good as it looks in my head." Well, here is the completed dress:

It has turned out just as I imagined, apart from the lack of plaid matching of the sleeves to the body of the dress...woops. I somehow forgot this detail at the cutting out stage. At least the sleeves match each other. I did all the cutting out in a single layer so I could line up the stripes. The tartan double knit (from Spotlight) had only been in my stash for a few weeks and I was originally planning to make a casual winter top, but after washing it I felt it was more suited to a dress, and this is the eighth time I have made up the Coco dress/top pattern so I have certainly got my money's worth.

I did match the plaid at the side seams, but failed to get a good photo showing this. The bias cut pockets are exact mirror images of each other and I was very happy with this detail.

The vertical darts created a nice fit through the back. I completely fluked the position of the plaid at the centre back of the collar, but love how it is nicely balanced. All the hems were hand stitched so they remained invisible.

Bias cut split lapped collar

I just love the bias cut split lapped collar. It gives the dress a bit of a retro vibe. I wish I had added some interfacing to the collar because it has turned out a little floppy in this double knit, so I will have to remember that for next time.

This will be a nice comfy work dress and I think it will get loads of wear.

Happy Sewing


Thursday, 6 July 2017

A Self Drafted Poncho

Self Drafted Poncho
I have been wanting to make a poncho for ages, so I did some research on Google and came up with this. I'm really pleased with my first attempt, but already have a few ideas for poncho's I may make in the future.

I found a simple tutorial at Hammers and High Heels for this cute poncho. The photo on the left was Carla's inspiration and the photo on the right is what she made.

After studying the tutorial, I quickly realised that the poncho made following the tutorial was not going to look like the inspiration photo. It clearly had a separate collar. So then I googled how to make a split lapped collar and found this wonderful tutorial at Off The Cuff - Sewing Style and I was off.

I used this lovely Indigo Wool Ponte from Knitwit that I had left over from my Style Arc Estelle Ponte Jacket. It's lovely and warm and perfect for this project. I cut a rectangle with the long side twice as long as the short side. The measurements I used were 160cm x 80cm. I then folded the rectangle in half to create a square and tilted diagonally so that the hem points are at centre front and centre back.

There is only one shoulder seam to sew. The other shoulder is on the foldline. I cut a small neckline at the top diagonal point (just big enough to squeeze my head through) and then I tried it on. To get a nice fit over the shoulders the seam needs to be curved over the shoulder and the other shoulder needs a dart added to follow the shoulder curve. This was all trial and error and took a bit of sewing and resewing to get it right. I also recut the neckline once the shoulders were sitting correctly.

Once I was happy with the size and shape of the neckline, I measured it and followed the collar tutorial, linked above, to add the split lapped collar.

I love how simple, yet effective this collar is. My only regret is that I didn't make it wider so it would have been a little more snug around the neck.

For a nice neat finish on the inside, I pressed the shoulder seam and dart open, and top stitched the seam allowances down. The hems were turned twice and top stitched.

This poncho has been a welcome addition to my wardrobe and can be worn over many outfits, including those with wide sleeves that are impossible to fit a cardigan over. I did find it tends to stick to my sleeves a bit, restricting movement. Nothing the addition of a slippery lining wouldn't fix. I have lots of ideas swimming around in my head for future versions.

Happy Sewing