Wednesday, 23 August 2017

A silver skirt

In my last post about the Burdastyle miniskirt I mentioned that the pattern is actually for a metallic imitation leather skirt. Spotting a roll of silver stuff in Spotlight recently, I thought I'd try version 3 of this pattern with the fabric it was intended for. And I'm rather pleased with the result.
Sewing this skirt was not the most pleasant experience, due to the tendency of the fabric to stick under the presser foot and the necessity to avoid using pins (which make holes that remain visible after sewing). Sewing with the wrong side up helped the fabric to move under the foot smoothly, but I found that wonder clips left indentations on the fabric and washi tape was less than ideal for holding things together. Still, I muddled my way through and managed to assemble the various pieces, even doing a bit of double-stitching on the front pockets and hem.

I modified the pattern in the same way I had done for version 1: I sewed buttonholes at the sides of the inside waistand, then threaded buttonhole elastic through the back part of the skirt for a better fit. The fabric is surprisingly soft and comfy on the inside due to cotton backing, and the fit is really quite nice. R's eyes widened with excitement when she saw the silver skirt, and she insisted on wearing it into town today. I thought she had quite a 60s vibe in her mini and black top and leggings!

Sadly, modelling was cut short when R realised she'd left her new water bottle at the Japanese place where we'd had lunch, meaning we had to hike across town to get it. After that, things went downhill rapidly - her feet were sore, she was tired, she didn't want to be photographed etc etc. Still, the skirt is a huge success and I know she'll wear it often!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Burda + Ottobre + A Sunny Spot = a new outfit

Three garments, made in bits and pieces over the past few weeks:

1. Ottobre (Autumn 4/2010) 'Montparnasse' hooded jacket
2. Burda miniskirt revisited, and
3. A Sunny Spot's 'Ribbon tie tunic'.

First, the jacket. Luckily for me, I noticed a tutorial for the jacket on the Ottobre blog - what a find! This made it super easy to sew, even though I mixed up elements from the two different jacket styles (I made the longer jacket with the gathered pockets and hood elastic of the shorter version) and ended up with a zip that was slightly too short (totally deliberate, naturally). The fabric is a midweight cotton French terry that I picked up at an op shop a while back, and the hood lining is a scrap from another op shop fabric, so all I had to buy was the too-short zip and a new double needle as my old one had disappeared. Love the fit of this jacket on R and will happily use this pattern again.

Next, the skirt. A while back I made a denim mini for R using the same pattern, which is actually called 'Girl's metallic skirt' and is intended to be made in metallic faux leather. I loved the skirt but R wouldn't wear it because the zip and waistband fastening were scratchy - it needed a fly guard. So I remade the whole thing in a denim that R chose, adjusting the waistband so I wouldn't have to elasticise it like I did last time and - of course - adding an improvised fly guard. Although R is really happy with the new skirt, I don't like it as much as the old one. The denim isn't as nice a colour, the less A-line shape doesn't look as good and the waistband is still too big. Clearly I will have to have a third go at this one!

The top is a simple little pattern from A Sunny Spot - you can see my previous version here. I made this one the same way, lengthening the sleeves and omitting the hem facing. Although it is not what I would call tunic length, the 'tunic' cut gives it a nice flare at the bottom. For this one I used cotton jersey bought on clearance at Spotlight, so it was another cheapie.

Yesterday was freezing and windy (and today is even worse!) so I had to photograph quickly, but I predict the hoodie in particular is going to get a lot of wear.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Merino for a Melbourne winter

Although R likes reading on her own, I still read to her most evenings, often from the books that I loved as a child. In this way we've read through several books that she would have found difficult on her own: Little Women, What Katy Did and the Anne of Green Gables series, among others. At the moment we're reading The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig, about a Polish Jewish family who are deported to Siberia in 1939 and spend the wartime years enduring hunger, isolation and extreme hardship. Of course there are plenty of descriptions of the harsh Siberian winter, which have left me feeling very, very lucky to have only our relatively mild Melbourne version to get through. But still, our winter is more than cold enough for us. A couple of weeks ago we happened to be near The Fabric Store and I dashed in and bought this beautiful olive green sweatshirt merino. It has a small amount of nylon in it which I imagine is what gives it a lovely soft fleecy underside - perfect for cosy winterwear. This fabric was a steal at $12 a (very wide) metre - I bought 1.4 metres and I think I have enough left for a long-sleeved top for R.

This is the fourth time I've made this pattern, from one of my all-time favourite Japanese pattern books Girly Style Wardrobe (other examples are here, here and here). It's meant to have a back placket and a strip of lace around the waist, but I left out both of these; the merino is so stretchy it doesn't need any kind of opening. I made a long tie in the same fabric, sewed a couple of thread chains at the sides and threaded it through. I think it saves the dress from being too drab, and although you might think a nine-year-old wouldn't care for such a plain garment in such an un-girly colour, I'm pleased to report that R loves it!

This deliciously soft merino was a joy to sew with, and while it probably wouldn't keep you warm for five seconds in Siberia it's cosy enough for Melbourne, where winter still sucks, only a whole lot less than being on the steppe!

Friday, 2 June 2017

A tic tac toe dress in shweshwe

Here is my second version of Sewpony's wonderful Tic Tac Toe dress (you can see the first one here). This time I opted for the long sleeves, plain bodice, piped collar and piped pockets. It's not obvious at first glance, but the fabric has patches of bright blue in it, and I thought piping the collar in blue would bring that out nicely.

As I didn't make the pieced bodice this time, the dress should have been quite quick and easy to sew, but I made a monumental stuff-up: I cut the front neckline too high due to a late-night pattern-tracing error. Tragically, I didn't notice this until I tried the finished-except-for-hems dress on R and realised something was wrong. There was nothing for it but to unpick the sleeves, lining and collar so I could trim down the neckline and reassemble the bodice and sleeves. I can't begin to express how frustrating this was... and how disappointing, just when I thought I'd finished the dress! But it was all worth it, because with the correct neckline the dress looked so much better. So let my mistake be a lesson to anyone tracing off patterns in dim light, while watching a subtitled television series and being harassed relentlessly by a tissue-paper-loving cat: multitasking does not go with pattern tracing, and neither do cats.

The fabric is shweshwe, a traditional South African cotton fabric. A couple of years ago I asked my dad to bring me some Three Cats brand shweshwe from Cape Town and instead of the usual shades of indigo and brown, I received this green one. I must confess that initially I wasn't that excited about it, but the colour and pattern have really grown on me and I'll be looking out for more greens next time I put in an order.  This particular shade has a lovely autumnal quality and goes beautifully with the fallen leaves in our garden.

The lovely deep pockets are one of the best features of this dress, and I love the centre gathers on the skirt. R and I are both really happy with this one.

To finish up, here are a couple of photos featuring a feline guest star - and it's NOT the one who mucked up my pattern tracing!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

A drop-waist Laure and a cosy cardi

I was so thrilled with my first Laure dress that I could hardly wait to make another - but real life intervened and when things got tough I didn't feel like sewing. Now that things have taken a turn for the better, I'm back at the sewing machine and loving it!

So this is the drop-waist version of the Laure, made in Three Cats shweshwe, a traditional South African cotton fabric. There's not much to say about this dress except that it's a great pattern with a great fit and I love it just as much as the qipao. R showed me a special spot in a local park that's full of lovely trees and we had a nice little wander, with her pointing out items of interest and me clicking away. 

The red cardigan is from this Japanese pattern book and was a nice easy sew. I used the same beautiful wool jersey I used for R's Arrietty dress and some scraps of red shweshwe for the facing. I think it goes perfectly with the Laure dress and it's also nice and cosy for autumn and winter.

I have a couple of other sewing projects on the go and I'm so looking forward to getting stuck into them. Pity it's Monday tomorrow...

Sunday, 19 March 2017

An overalls-dress and fancy-sleeve t-shirt

Life's been challenging lately - sick relatives, financial troubles and toothache. Desperate for some sewing therapy, I did something a little out of character: I made something for R just because I wanted to. After much flicking through my Japanese pattern books I settled on an overalls-dress from this book (I have no idea if there's a 'proper' name for this style) and a t-shirt with decorative sleeve details from this magazine. I really can't pretend R needs another dress or another t-shirt, but since they served a therapeutic purpose I'm telling myself it's OK! What's more, both were made from stash fabric - even the buttons were from my little collection.

The dress is made from a lightweight black denim and was a pretty straightforward sew. I ran into a bit of trouble attaching the straps to the back waistband, but serendipitously my sewing friend Jing had just made the pants version of the same pattern and was able to set me straight.

The t-shirt is made from some interlock-ish jersey (previously used to make this top). It's a really nice, loose style with a pretty sleeve detail. I will use this pattern again I'm sure.

How annoying is that loose bit of hair??! R loves the dress and was pleased to find not only inseam pockets, but a pocket on the top section as well. It took me days to get her to model this outfit, but once she got it on it was clear that she really loved it. Turns out this dress is quite twirly, too!

Monday, 27 February 2017

An ikatee top and two pairs of shorts

A while back I downloaded a lovely pattern from the French pattern company Ikatee. They offer a free pattern when you join their mailing list, and I chose the Ibiza top, a voluminous swing top with shoestring straps. It's a sweet pattern and very easy to sew. Having made a new top it seemed right to add some bottoms, so I made two pairs: the 'Shorts with Back Pockets' from Happy Homemade, and the fabulous (and free!) City Gym Shorts from Purl Soho. 

I made the Ibiza in a cotton-linen from Spotlight, with a bit of gold piping. It's a lovely, floaty top that's perfect for hot Melbourne days. The City Gym shorts are a Cloud 9 cotton with linen bias binding. This is a fun pattern to make - super easy, and the binding gives a really nice finish. I made size 6-7 for R but they're on the tight side so I suppose I'll be making another size before too long... 

The Happy Homemade shorts are made from some leftover denim. I added decorative machine-stitching to the back pockets in the same hot pink as the top. Although she is still a huge fan of dresses, R is loving wearing shorts for cricket and bike-riding at the moment!

Do you have a go-to shorts pattern? R probably has enough to last her through summer and autumn, but I'm sure she'll be wanting more next year...

Saturday, 4 February 2017

A Laure qipao dress

Three years ago I made a qipao (also known as a cheongsam) for R in a brocade fabric. She loved the style and the shiny material, but it was poor quality and didn't wear too well. The front opening was also difficult for R to do up herself, and I remember thinking that next time I made a qipao I would try to redesign it with a back closure. When I saw that An of Straight Grain had released a qipao pattern with a back zipper I was super excited and bought it right away!

This dress was such a pleasure to sew. There are several different options for sleeves, neckline and even dress shape, but I went for the traditional qipao style and opted for the short sleeves. R is never a straight size, so based on her measurements I made size 5 width with size 8 length, and it proved to be spot-on for size (I sewed up the bodice lining to use as a muslin before cutting into my main dress fabric, and I really recommend doing this to check if the fit is right).

In her blog post announcing the release of the Laure dress, An included a clip from the film In the Mood for Love, in which a woman in a qipao carries an enamel thermos. It just so happens that I have a small collection of Chinese enamel thermoses, so I decided to give a few of them a starring role in my photo shoot - it's not often that they get to actually be useful!

The fabric is from Birch Fabrics' organic 'Acorn Trail' range and I've been hoarding it for a couple of years, waiting for a special project. I adore the colours and the vintage-style rose design, and the cotton is so smooth and soft. For the piping and lining I used a coral-coloured cotton from Spotlight and I have to say, it was not easy finding this matching shade! R's scrunchie is made from a pattern from Kids Clothes Style Book.

I'm so, so happy with this beautiful dress. The simplified qipao design works really well and the shape of the dress retains the traditional fitted shape of the bodice without being too constricting in the lower part. R wore her qipao to a local lunar new year festival today and had no trouble climbing in the playground and doing some hula-hooping - check out this amazing performer!

Next I'm looking forward to trying out the drop-waisted Laure dress with the pussy bow. In the meantime I predict that R's new qipao is going to get a lot of love from her!