Saturday, October 3, 2015

Inari the second

The fabric recommendations for this pattern include wovens and knits and having already tried it in a scuba, thought I'd give it another go in linen.   My last version was slightly loose so I chose not to make any adjustments to the sizing, apart from removing some length  (possibly a little too much..) as Named patterns are drafted for tall Finnish ladies.  Sack dresses are comfy but can look a bit dowdy unless the proportions are right, so shorter is better!

Originally, I wanted to add leather sleeves to this dress, inspired by this one on Pinterest but they didn't want to go in nicely (wrinkly, lumpy, yuck) so I gave up on them. In hindsight, leather sleeves would have been waaaay to hot and sweaty for summer anyway - sewing fail turned sewing win. I'm not giving up on the leather sleeves idea all together though, I just need to find the right pattern.

Sewing this up was really straightforward.  The sleeves set in nicely and the linen pressed and sewed beautifully.  I finished the neckline with a facing this time and hand-sewed it to the inside of the dress all the way round the neckline to stop it flipping out.  It's a good idea to reinforce the split at the top so I did a few lines of stitching here.

The fit is good. As expected it's more snug than the scuba version, but it's perfectly comfortable and it doesn't feel restrictive to move my arms.   Length wise, it is on the short side, especially at the side splits. I guess I could sew those up a bit further but I have been wearing it as a tunic over leggings a and jeans  and I'm not adverse to showing a bit of leg as the weather warms up :)  Being linen, it creases of course but it'll be cool and breezy for summer.

Not much else to say about this one - a  basic that will probably get a heap of wear.   Now, should  I go for a hat-trick and make a  slightly longer silk version?


Pattern: Inari T by Named Patterns
Size: 36, UK size 8, US size 4.
Fabric: Linen from Supercheap fabrics ($4 p/m)
Adjustments: Shortened by 4cm  at front and back by folding up the pattern (side split is the same length as drafted).

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Trippy scuba Inari T dress

I picked up a couple of metres of crazy scuba fabric in the Spotlight sale with the vague plan of making a midi-skirt but the sewing squirrels got to me and I had the sudden urge to make an Inari T dress. When you buy the PDF versions of the Named patterns you get all the sizes, with seam allowances, but only two are nested each file so you need to choose and then trace off.  I went with the UK size 8 which was closest to my measurements.

Named patterns are on the pricey side, especially seeing that you still need to trace them, but I really liked the details of this one:the cocoon shape, the way the back curves round to the front and the split hem which is longer at the back, so worth shelling out $20.

There were plenty of opportunities for unfortunate pattern placement with this fabric so I cut in a single layer and hopefully avoided any clangers. It was straightforward to sew and everything went together really nicely - especially setting in the sleeves. As the scuba was quite thick, I trimmed any joining seams down as much as possible to reduce bulk and pressed seams open where I could.  The neckline was finished with a band and twin-needled. Seams were mostly left  unfinished because scuba doesn't fray although did finish the sleeve/armscye with the overlocker.

Strangely, despite its 100% man made fibre content, the scuba knit feels quite nice to wear and has a good drape, plus it was no trouble at all to sew. I'm not sure I'd test its breathable qualities on a 30C day but it's likely to get a fair bit of wear until the weather warms up (I've already worn it a few  times with tights and a jacket )

Inari T dress by Named patterns 
PDF download
Size 36.
Fabric: Scuba knit from Spotlight (less than $10 pm with discount)

Changes for next time
The sleeve cuff needed an extra  couple of stitches at the top to it from flipping back due to the fabric thickness.
I've already got another dress cut out in linen  which I've shortened by 5cm so we'll see how that goes. Making it in a woven might also change the fit.

It's a bit of a sack from the side, but I rather like the bonkers print, and funky hemline - a fun dress to make and wear! There are already more in the pipeline.

See also: See Amy Sew | Groovy Baby and Mama | Randomly Happy

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Vogue 1342: the Frocktails dress

So, it turns out that "advanced" Vogue  patterns are rated advanced for a reason - they are not for the faint hearted! To be fair, most of the steps were fine, but there was one that totally stumped me.  And I mean completely stumped, tearing-my-hair-out,  unpicked-the-same-seam-at-least-ten-times-and-about-to-throw-the-thing-in-the-bin-kind-of stuck.

Thank god for sewing friends.  

Sarah came to my rescue and armed with her superior sewing brain, several cups of tea, a bag of quilt clips and a lot of basting, we managed to get over the bit in the instructions that were confusing me and get the lining in.  (Step 21 in case you are wondering). There were also offers of help via Instagram and blogs.  The sewing community I tell you, is amazing. 

And I'm happy to say, even thought I'm still not entirely sure that I did everything entirely right, I did end up with a wearable dress in time for Frocktails (at a fraction of the cost of the Designer version) and felt pretty damn good in it too!   Even though it is form fitting, the lining holds everything in place and the gathers soften the dress so  it was really comfortable on the night. I wore it with a silk Kimono - pattern from Elle Apparel - that Julia brought along to social sewing one day.  I completely forgot to get pictures of that so I'll do a separate post.

Back view - the pleat detail is really nice but can you see that slightly dodgy pucker at the top of the gathering?
  • Pattern:Vogue 1342, A Donna Karan pattern. 
  • Fabric: 3m of Navy dry knit from Super Cheap Fabrics in Brunswick.  I was actually really surprised how well this fabric worked given its price ($5p/m). It has really nice drape, was very robust (good job with all that unpicking) and sewed up really nicely.  There is a of of gathering and pleating in this dress, sometimes both at the same time!  so you want a fabric that isn't too thick but with really good drape. It also needs to be at least 150cm wide to accommodate the size of the main pattern piece. 
  • Size: 12 according to my measurements. I would normally size down, but I was in new territory with this drapey number so thought I'd better play it safe.  

Helpful hints if you are mad enough to make this yourself

Unfortunately my phone camera broke down during the construction phase so I didn't get many in progress pics but here's what I can remember:

  • Cutting out: There are only two pattern pieces to this dress.  One humongous piece about the size of a 12 seater dinner table and a smaller shoulder piece so you need a BIG cutting surface. I cut mine out at social sewing when I had access to a large bench and multiple cutting mats. I pinned the pattern piece all around the edge and used a rotary cutter.  The reason for pinning rather than using weights so that I could then transfer it off the bench to do all the marking. 
  • Marking with tailors tacks: I followed Katherine's advice and used different coloured thread for the large circles, small circles and squares.  DO NOT MISS ANY MARKINGS.  You will regret this and end up even more confused.  My problem was that even though I diligently used tailors tacks to mark everything some of them fell out of the slippery fabric so I should have done a little stitch to keep them securely in place. 
  • I based seams first and then sewed with a slight zig-zag and finished most of them with my overlocker. When i came to the step where you sew the lining to the seam allowances,   it was easier to sew the lining to the overlocked seams than those that had been left raw. 
  • Step 5 was confusing.  As I was at Sewaway, Sarah helped me at this point too by laying the fabric flat and following round the markings, referring to the pattern until she found the right ones.  
  • I used skin-coloured Power-mesh for the lining.  The power-mesh was a good idea, the colour was not as it peeks out a little at the sides.  I should have used a black or navy power-mesh instead. 
  • The best way I can describe putting the lining in is that it was similar to making a bag where you insert the straps upside down and inside the dress,  with the lining wrong side to right side then flip the whole thing the right way round. This step confused me most and all I can advise is to baste (or use clips) and try it (or go round to Sarah's house!) 
  • It's not actually possible to really gauge the fit of this dress until the lining is sewn onto the internal seams as this "pulls' the whole dress into shape.  I did have to make some sizing adjustments in the later stages by doing more gathering at the left shoulder strap as the back was too big and drooping a little. 
  • Sizing:  I'm not sure if I made the right size - I wouldn't want the dress any tighter in the bottom area for sure, but the back was quite large although this may have been because I missed a gather somewhere... 
  • The instructions tell you to twist the straps once towards the CB but don't really indicate where the twist should be anchored.  I found they looked best if the straps were twisted on the shoulder. I used some small stitches to secure the folds 
  • I hemmed the dress using a twin needle, keeping the length as per the pattern.  I wouldn't want to go on a significant hike in this dress but it was easy enough to walk in  :) 

Changes for next time

No f-ing way I'm making this again, but if I did...
  • Use matching lining so that it is less obvious if there is a little peekage. 
  • Make the back smaller by increasing the gathering  at the strap.
  • I think I may have done something not quite right at the back as my version doesn't look quite like the pattern envelope. If anyone has any ideas  of what/if I went wrong- please let me know!

  • Despite the trails and tribulations of making this dress, I'm really glad that I persevered. It was like a puzzle that I  was determined to solve and with a little help from my friends, I did.  

Here are a few pictures of the dress in action at #Frocktails.  If you want to see more pictures of this fabulous night out,MelanieNic and Gabrielle  have all published blog posts. Hop over there and see pictures of all the amazing creations. 


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Sydney Jacket #2 and a Renfrew/Nettie mash up

Hello!  I'm writing this snuggled up on the couch in front of our wood burner which a pretty nice place to be on this cold evening. I realise that 'cold' is relative - the temperature is due to drop to 1C tonight- which is nothing to some of you in the Northern hemisphere, or even in parts of Australia. When I lived in Maine, northern USA we used to have really cold winters. When I was there in 2003 in February the minimum temps were around -25C and it stayed well below 0C during the day so when it started to get warmer  (above freezing!) it felt quite warm. In fact I remember one day in Spring where there was still snow on the ground and I saw some students in shorts and T shirts having a BBQ in their front yard.  So, yes, it's all relative!

Anyway, I digress.  Here are some more winter appropriate garments - another Tessuti Sydney Jacket and a dress made with the top of the Sewaholic Renfrew and the skirt of Nettie by Closet case files.

Stripe matching wiiiiiiinn!

This 'Rettie' (sounds rather too much like an indigestion tablet?) is a  'mash up' of the Renfrew and Nettie. Well when I say 'mash up'  I just measured roughly where my waist hit, laid the skirt pattern pieces over and blended the lines.    I had to add more at the waist to the back of the skirt than the front and the fit isn't perfect (you can see some wrinkling where the dress is pulling a bit on my hips). The fabric was a wool remnant from Clear it and is super warm and snugly.  The dress ended up bit on the short side due to fabric restrictions but I'm only going to wear it in the winter with tights or leggings anyway so whatever :)

I am chuffed with my stripe matching  at the side seams-  thanks to lots of pins and a walking foot - but I'm not 100% happy with the hem.  Despite using steam a seam it still stretched out and you can that see the dress 'kicks' out a bit at the bottom. I tried streaming it back into shape but to no avail.  Adding a band might have worked  - and would have helped with the length issue -  but I didn't have any fabric left (that cowl is hungry for fabric). Any other suggestions as to how I might fix it?  Size wise, I cut the 6 Renfrew, and the 8 Nettie with a bit of grading to get the pattern pieces to fit. I also added some length - although I can't now remember quite how much. Must get into better note-taking habits while sewing,

I made the XS this time despite the petite fitting well for my other version.  There were a few reasons for this:  the boiled wool had no stretch compared to the pink wool; I wanted this to be extra blanket-y and with longer arms.  I'm pretty happy with the size actually.

The fabric is the same gifted boiled wool that I used for my Simplicity 1366 zippy top. It's soft, warm but also light - perfect for this jacket. The only problem is that it is a total lint magnet and I spend a lot of time picking off cat hair.....

I think I might be done with winter sewing for now - time to start dreaming of Spring!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Simplicity 1366 as a layering piece & Libby skirt


This pattern has been doing the rounds for a while now.  It's shown on the pattern envelope in a silky woven so naturally I made it in boiled wool :)

It works though - the loose dropped shoulder silhouette makes it perfect for layering over long sleeved merino tops or a white shirt and I've been wearing it a lot this winter.  Nothing like having a layer of warm wool over your body to keep you toasty.   I made the size 8 after reading reviews that it was pretty oversized and it's fine.

To add a bit of interest to the basic black I put in an upside down exposed zip at the back the instructions from Megan Nielsen's Brumby skirt.  I'm unlikely to wear it open so it's more of a 'design feature'.  The edges and neckline were finished with bias and the sleeve hems were left raw.

The skirt is the Tessuti A line Libby skirt (free pattern) . It's a total copy-cat version from their website which should have been an easy sew but I managed to make waaay to big first time round (I made a 12) but did not realise this until I had sewn the whole thing up and had to unpick it all. I ended up taking about 3- 4cm out of the waistline at the side seam and darts so should have made the 8 *sigh*.   The fabric is from Spotlight  and was a bargain $11 p/m in the sale, pretty good considering that Tessuti had some identically printed fabric available a while ago and at rather higher prices (although probably better quality).

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Go anywhere dress - the knit edition, plus a couple of Stylearc Harpers

As I mentioned last time, I'm behind in blogging so it's a three for one special today - the Go Anywhere dress, this time in a soft double knit and two versions of the StyleArc Harper jacket.

Bit wrinkly mainly due to the fact that I'm standing  a bit funny (again...)
The dress
I've made the dress before in a stretch sateen - it was my Melbourne Frocktails dress and I've worn it heaps. In need of another warm knit dress for work, I thought this pattern might work.  Most of my work knit dresses are 'fit and flare' like the lady skater and Moneta so this makes a nice change. Size wise I made the same as before rather than sizing down for the knit as I didn't want it to be super fitted. I did end up  taking some excess out of the top of the princess seams though.

I originally made it with full length sleeves and it looked seriously dowdy.  Fortunately as this was another Sewaway creation,  there was someone on hand to give the sleeves the chop.  Funny how a small change can  make a big difference.  Oh, I also managed to sew one of the sleeves in back to front - and they have elbow darts so there was no getting away with that one.


  • Dress: Go anywhere dress by Sewn Square One patterns.  I'm not sure this pattern company has made any patterns since 2014 judging by their website, and most of them aren't my style but this is a winner for me. I've already started making version 3!
  • Size: Small
  • Fabric: Double knit from Clear it, $5 p/m


  • Took out 3cm from the upper chest and 2cm from the hips (easy to do with the Princess seams)
  • Finished all seams with the overlocker.
  • Did a band neckline like you would on a t shirt, folded  to the inside and twin stitched.
  • Three quarter sleeves using the "chop them off where they look right" method.
  • No zip required, although I kept the back panels to add interest.

Things to change for next time
  • Long sleeves looked all sorts of wrong on this colour/shape dress.  
  • I did contemplate top stitching all the seams but didn't want to risk stretching then out. 

A work-dress winner.  It does need a slip underneath to keep things looking smooth and stop clinging tights but it's easy to throw on.   It does need a necklace - without it it feels a little bit star trek :) 

The Cardis/jackets
The Harper jackets are more like cardigans as they are both made up in fairly drapey knots - a black merino looped back one which was a lucky tip hop find - over 10m of quality merino for $20, total bargain. The grey stripey/ spotty knit was also an opshop find - the same fabric I used for my drop waist skater hack.  Because of the way the collar falls on this pattern, it's best to use a knot that looks good on  both sides.  This was my first time working with Style Arc patterns and I liked it - I got the printed pattern which only comes in one size, but given that it was such a drapey style I thought that it wasn't too much of a gamble.  The instructions are brief but there are plenty of markings and the pattern  was well drafted.

The only thing that is a bit strange (and this has already been pointed out on a few blogs) is that instructions tell you to do a french seam on the back collar.  I kind of understand this  because the collar can be worn flipped back, but an overlocked seam would have been fine.  I didn't finish the edges but if I get any serious unravelling I might go back and do a rolled hem round the collar and hem.

StyleArc Harper jacket
Size: 8
Fabric: Merino fleece and double knit

I left off the hook and eye but actually I might go back and sew on a snap because the cardi/jacket looks pretty good closed as well as open.
All edges apart from the cuffs were left unfinished.

Super quick to whip up and I've already worn both these lots of times which is a good sign!

Monday, July 6, 2015

A splash of winter colour - Grainline Morris blazer

I'm waaaay behind blogging my finished objects, many of which were completed over the Queen's birthday holiday during sewaway - a fabulous break at Mill Rose where a group of us sewed, ate, drank, slept and sewed some more.  Bliss.

First up is a Grainline Morris blazer in stretch sateen.  This was the 'people's choice' pattern  at Sewaway when I put it to the vote as to what to make from 1.5m of this cheery stretch sateen that I picked up in super cheap fabrics for $6 p/m.  Why did I only buy 1.5m?  Who knows?, but it certainly made for some serious pattern tetris  when it was suggested that I try and get not only the jacket but a front panel of a shift dress out of the fabric as well.  With some advice from the pattern tetris experts Liz and Rachel I managed it, with only a few scraps to spare!

I've made this blazer before in black ponte and liked it, but found the shoulders a touch too wide so for this version I did a narrow shoulder adjustment.  In this stretch woven the whole blazer definitely sits differently and is a bit more of a snug fit so I'll probably get more wear out of it in the Spring/Summer with a light layer underneath (I'm currently rugged up in 3 layers of wool!).  The plus of making it in a sateen is that it doesn't have the sagging lapels issue that the ponte version does.  I kept the length the same as the  pattern but lengthened the sleeves by adding a cuff. This was partly due to fabric limitations but I also liked the idea of being able to roll them up and see a contrasting colour.

Forgot to take a pic of the blazer on with the cuffs rolled up, but here they are..


  • Pattern:  Grainline Morris Blazer
  • Size: 4
  • Fabric:  Sateen with a bit of stretch.  I squeezed the blazer out of quite a bit less than 1.5m.  Cuff fabric, textured poly from Darn Cheap. 

  • Added a 9cm cuff with a contrast fabric on one side.  To do this I just cut two rectangles the same width as the bottom of the sleeve, taping slightly towards the wrist, added seam allowances and sewed them like you would a waistband on a skirt. 
  • 2cm narrow shoulder adjustment using this tutorial.
Things learnt

  • I think that I could have done a slightly smaller adjustment on the shoulder - they feel a smidge too tight now.  
  • The sleeves didn't go in particularly well - there's too much gathering.  It's quite possible that  I stuffed up when I did the shoulder adjustment.  I'm pretty sure that I didn't alter either the armscye or the length of the sleeve curve, but I couldn't get them to go in nicely, despite a few attempts. Thankfully it's not all that noticeable in the busy print.
  • Buy more than 1.5m of fabric when it's nice quality and $6p/m.  Duh. 

This is a fun jacket that I think will get decent wear both for work and play.  It works well with a white tank and jeans and would also be cool with a stripy dress (might have to try it with my Nettie dress).

See also: Little Betty (I was clearly inspired by her version), Sew Busy Lizzy, Carly in Stitches