Saturday, November 28, 2015

Ruby Sunset

Do you ever have those projects that just don't work out the way you envisaged?   This top started out as one of those - as an Inari T dress.  The black linen one has been a favourite so I thought a dresser print version in silk would be the go.     But... it just wasn't working. The 'stripes' on this beautiful silk (bought from Kinki Gerlinki a little while ago) were slightly off grain so they didn't match up at the side of the dress which I had so painstakingly cut on grain (doh!) and the dress was somehow too much, too shiny, just not right.

So, I changed tack and decided to make another Ruby top. The  silk one that I made earlier this year has been worn regularly. It's the perfect summer top really, with its floaty shape and cut away armholes, and great to wear with jeans.

Because I was working with already cut fabric pieces, plus a scant 75cm of fabric left over it was a bit of a challenge to get the Ruby pattern pieces to fit, especially as I didn't want to end up with a wide white stripe across my chest!  But with a little help from my social sewing buddies, it worked.  I ignored the grainline this time and just matched up the stripes which luckily does't seem to have affected the drape.

The 'right side' of the fabric which though beautifully vibrant, is also quite shiny so I decided to use the  matte side of the fabric instead which makes the top a bit more wearable for everyday.

To break up the paler colours near the neckline I used exposed binding - attaching to the wrong side, then flipping to the right side and topstitching.  Stitching a straight line, even with my beloved edge-stitch foot was a bit  tricky in this slippery silk, but it's passable.   I hand stitched the back facing and added a line of machine stitching to reinforce the split - I'm still deciding whether to go back and unpick this, but I don't want the split to rip. The top was hemmed using my rolled hem foot.

The button loop was made by plaiting three threads of overlocker chain together.  I watched the Tessuti tutorial on making a thread loop about 15 times and couldn't get it even though I've done it successfully before.  What's with that?   I must be getting old.

Pattern: Ruby Top by Tessuti
Size: 8 with a 5/8 inch FBA
Fabric: Silk from Kinki Gerlinki ($10 p/m)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Lounge pants or (Alexandria) peg trousers ?

I can't decide..

Got some  serious wrinkles going on here.. Probably some adjustments required - any ideas? 
Apologies for the creases -Mr 9 snapped these  pictures after I wore these for a day at work/bike ride home.  On a non sewing note - look how beautifully green the garden is  - the grapevine and the kiwifruit vine are going really well. 

These are the Alexandria peg trousers from Named. And yes, I do seem to be on a bit of a Named kick at the moment.  I was inspired to make these after Emma posted a very cool pair on Instagram (now blogged). I have one pair of very worn out, rtw black pants in my wardrobe and a few pairs of op-shop jeans so making pants has been very much on my mind.

The thing about pegged pants is that they go in  below the knee and my legs don't -  I have hyperactive calves, or something.  This makes fitting slim pants a bit tricky.  I measured the flat pattern and the size that fit my waist measurement was going to be 4cm (!) too small in the calf.
So I did a large calf adjustment  of sorts which involves adding width below the knee, mainly to the front pattern piece, and a little bit at the back. However, this  also adds width from the knee to the ankle, and therefore the pants didn't end up as fitted at the bottom as intended.

My first version (in op-shop rayon) were really baggy so I also took 4cm out of the back.  I also wasn't sure about the fully elasticated waist so this time only put elastic in the back waistband, attaching it by stitching in the ditch at the side seams.  I prefer the look of this from the front, although the waistband did end up a gaping a bit at the front so not a complete success.

The fabric is a mid-weight viscose from Darn Cheap fabrics with a slight texture. It feels great to wear but it shows all of the wrinkles and fitting flaws...

When I first finished these, I was a bit on the fence about them. This was partly due to the pockets (they had two back pockets but the placement was off because I forgot to adjust the position to account for the reduction at the CB) so I took one pocket off. I also added a leather 'drawstring',  a bit of a dodgy fix because I didn't want to unpick the waistband, but they now sit a bit higher  and it's sort of fixed the gaping.  

Verdict - not perfect but damn,  they are comfy and have been getting a fair bit of wear with a top that hides the waistband  - this is the Lou Box Top if you are interested.

Pattern: Named Alexandria Peg trousers
Size: 36
Adjustments: took 4m wedge out of the back, added 4cm large calf adjustment, only used elastic in the back waistband.
Fabric: Grey viscose from Darn Cheap fabrics - possibly $10 pm?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Same same but different - Kielo dress in rayon

There seems to be a bit of a trend happening in my last few blog posts - make a thing, and then make it again in a different fabric.  I should probably wait and write about the same things at once but I'm not that organised, and this dress does look different in a woven so I thought it might be with a few pictures.

This is the same size as my knit version ( I fully intended on tracing a new size but didn't get round to it in the end) so this is the 40 graded down to approximately size 36 by taking out some width in the 'wings".  The fit is completely different in the woven, as you would expect. I prefer it actually, and in this drapey rayon it still feels nice and fluid

The only changes I made to this version from the knit version were to shorten the ties by 10cm (they still go round my waist twice), and finish the neckline with bias tape.   I also removed 40cm from the length.

That's it, a quick and easy dress to sew, great for work and  I love it! I might still make the maxi version, just need to find the right fabric.

Pattern:  Kielo by Named patterns
Size: 36ish
Fabric: 2m of rayon from Spotlight ($20 in the sale)
Notions: op shop

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Is it a bat? No it's a Kielo wrap dress?

Look at all the different ways that this dress can be worn!

A. Looped round in front and tied at the back.
B. Tied loosely in front
C. Tied at the back
D. Like a bat (Halloween special)

MMSTL was holding out for option E. As he was taking  the photos he commented optimistically "you could probably tie it into a mini skirt right?"  Yeah. not happening.

I like Named patterns and have sewn a couple of their designs (Inari 1 and 2 ) and the Alexandria peg pants (still to be blogged). The Kielo wrap dress however didn't really do it for me when it was released but then you know how it goes; I saw Liz's great version, and Nic's and suddenly I came over all "I MUST SEW THIS PATTERN NOW!"

As my  favourite versions of these were made up in knits I followed suit and used a soft grey knit - possibly a wool blend-  from the stash that I picked up for $5p/m at Clear it, Melbourne.  Because of the width of the front pattern piece is so wide you need something fairly wide.

There are only three pattern pieces and a few seams so it's a super-simple sew.  I sewed it accordingly to the instructions using my regular sewing machine using a slight zig-zag stitch.

Due to my fabric choice I did hit a few snags. The instructions have you finish, turn and stitch the armholes and neckline.  I knew that this fabric would stretch but  I serious underestimated quite how much so my neckline ended stretching waaay out, even after stabilising it with some seam-a -seam. I unpicked and added added a band (which I cut 5cm shorter than the neckline circumference) so it's at least wearable now, but still too wide. 

The hem also caused me some headaches and despite being careful and using steam-a -seam, that stretched out too. Consequently it's a bit wonky but hopefully not too noticeable because of the way the dress falls.  If I make this is a knit again, I would chose something a bit more stable, handle the fabric more carefully or not bother hemming at all. 


  • Pattern: Named Keilo wrap dress
  • Size 38 ish. I traced this from a sewing friend and graded the pattern down by taking out 6cm from the total width. I've since bought the pattern so I'll make my actual size next time. 

  • Reinforced the shoulders with clear elastic. 
  • Obviously this is not a maxi - I cut it 40cm shorter,  The finished length is just below my knees.
  • Raised the armholes a little as they were too low
  • Used a band instead of turning and stitching the 
I like how simple, yet versatile this dress is. I'm going to try one in a drapey woven in the right size and take more care with the neckline.

As I was writing this post I just read that Named have released a free sleeves pattern for the dress.  A winter version might be on the cards!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Silk Kimono (from a free pattern/tutorial)

This kimono was made for Melbourne Frocktails - a totally winter-inappropriate top to go over my totally winter- inappropriate  dress. Fortunately it was  toasty warm at the event (especially after a few "seam ripper cocktails") so it didn't matter!

But now it is Spring and officially kimono weather - woo hoo! -  and this simple little cover-up has been getting a lot of wear. 

There's not much to say about the (free) pattern. It's basically some rectangles sewn together with french seams and finished with a narrow rolled hem.  The back pieces are slightly curved and the back is longer than the front.

The silk - a remnant from the Fabric store - was a bit of a beast to work with. It frayed and slipped and didn't want to play nice but I won in the end by just taking it slowly and using lots of fine pins.  I followed Julia's advice to set the sleeves in flat (I hemmed them first) which was good but I did struggle a bit with getting the french seams to look neat at the join when the side seams were sewn up. There's probably some ninja sewing technique to make french seams work in this scenario but I'm clearly yet to master it.

Apart from that - an enjoyable sew, and now I have  a lovely silk thing to  swish about in all summer. 

Pattern: Kimono from Elle Apparel (free, traced from Julia who has made a gorgeous yellow silk version)
Fabric: Silk remnant from The Fabric Store ($14)

Friday, October 9, 2015

Activewear, activewear... hanging out in the garden in my activewear

So yeah, I've been making some activewear.

I've always been pretty active but at the start of the year I decided to get a bit more serious about fitness and join a local training group.  If you are in the area I'd recommend you check these guys out - the sessions are great fun and it's been great for my strength and cardio fitness.

The thing about working out a few times a week is that some appropriate gear is needed, preferably comfy, stretchy, sweat-wicking gear.  This stuff is expensive to buy but fortunately, thanks to the bulk-order queen of supplex a few great patterns and an industrial sized roll of elastic from the op shop, it was easy enough to sew up my own.

Fehr trade Duathlon leggings/shorts

I've made these three times now. My test pair were a vision in pink and gold which, while were are very fun to wear are not all that breathable. Sorry Amanda, I know you loved these ones.

The second pair are between the booty short and the biker short length, made up in grey supplex with a contrast panel of swimwear fabric.  These have been great for warmer weather workouts and the little pocket comes in handy for carrying my keys or phone.

The third pair were made most recently to go with the Pneuma tank in the same grey supplex as the shorts with an upper contrast panel of blue wicking material and some powermesh for the lower panel.  The blue fabric is not all that stretchy but because it is only a small piece it just about works, although I can't fit my phone in the pocket.  These are a bit shorter than the capri length -  due to fabric restrictions but I don't mind this length. Because of my 'generous' calves, I find that capris tend to ride up anyway.  These have been on high rotation.

Melissa's instructions are clear, although this is a very simple pattern. I think my last pair took me less than an hour to make, almost entirely on the overlocker.

Both the shorts and capri versions have been washed and worn many times and are holding up well - no pilling or sagging so far so I'd really recommend the supplex.


  • Pattern: Dualthon leggings/capris/shorts Fehr Tade
  • Size: XS
  • Fabric:  Supplex and blue wicking fabric from Stretchtex $12-16 pm (part of a bulk-order, including delivery), Powermesh and swimwear fabric  from Rathdown Remnants.
  • Alterations:  Took a little bit out of the front crotch curve, only put  in one pocket. 

Pneuma tank, Papercut patterns

First off I have to say that I love the style of this top. It's more interesting than a basic tank, but still gives plenty of support and there are so many options for playing around with fabrics and strap colours.

The pattern includes either a standalone bra or the version here with the tank attached.  The instructions were good, but there are a couple of tweaks that could be made to ensure a neater finish on the inside and next time I might try lining the bra so that the straps can be tucked neatly inside.

I did end up making  a few changes to the pattern.  I originally cutting out the bra in a size that matched my upper bust measurement.  Yeah, there as no way that that tiny bra was going to fit me. My attempt at an FBA was to trace the medium for the front piece, grading down to the XS at the sides but keep the XS for the back and add 4cm in length for both the front and back pieces.    The result is that the front fits quite well, but is a little bit too long, but the back is definitely too long (you can see it wrinkling up in the pics)  so I still need to make a few changes.  I cut the tank part in the XS size - the fabric is upcycled from a rayon op-shop maxi skirt.  It doesn't mater so much that it is not wicking fabric as this part of the top is loose.

For some additional support I underlined the bra with a single layer of  powermesh - I just tacked the layers together on the sewing machine and then treated the layers as one.

Instead of folding and hemming the edges of the tank I used the 3 -thread rolled hem function on my overlocker which made this a pretty quick project.

I've got the back of the bra pulled down here which is why it isn't level.

I didn't have any bra strapping so after a bit of googling used fold over elastic instead which seems to be doing the job just fine. I guess bra strapping would be a bit firmer but using FOE provides way more options for colours! Getting the straps right was a bit tricky. I recommend using a safety pin rather than a pin to hold them when adjusting thus avoiding getting into the top without injury. Clever huh?

This is a great workout top - a little bit Lululemon but without the crazy price tag!  It provides good support and the loose fit makes it nice and airy. For activities that require require upside down movements (circus?  trapeze? yoga? )  it does result in some tummy-baring though so be warned.   And yes, there will be more of these in the future - pneuma tanks, not upside down circus moves that is.

  • Pattern: Pneuma Tank by Papercut patterns.
  • Size - XS with adjustments.
  • Fabric - Wicking sports fabric  & Powermesh (as for the Duatlon leggings).   Tank: upcycled rayon.
  • Changes:  FBA of sorts, finished the tank with a rolled hem, used FOE instead of bra strapping. 

Changes for next time
  • Reduce the length of the bra
  • Figure our a way to use powermesh as a lining so that it encloses the edges of the strapping. 

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).