Sunday, November 16, 2014

a natty little nightie

This was a need.  
A very desperate need.
My lovely, fluffy, cosy, snuggly warm winter PJ's are rapidly becoming unbearably so, meaning...
I wanted the "IT'S CLOBBERING TIME!!" font for that bit there, but Blogger's font selection is lacking in such niceties so all caps will have to do.  We'll just have to imagine it, ok?
Pattern; McCalls 4454, lengthened from a pretty little camisole to nightie length.  With in seam side pockets added, just because.
Fabric; I managed to eke the pieces to the very last scrap from the leftovers of my sew bossy dress, a pretty cotton floral sent to me by reana louise.  Thanks, Reana!  It's such a nice quality fabric.  I didn't have quite enough blue floral for straps, but I found a little piece of pink and white poly gingham that I cut into bias strips to make the straps and to finish the top edge, and also made a short, super skinny spaghetti tube for the little decorative bow on the front.  I originally bought this gingham to make little pinked-edge caps for jars of lemon butter, the year I enthusiastically made jars and jars and jars recurring of the stuff to give away to friends.  Note to self: I MUST do that again next year.  Was hopelessly overrun with lemons this year. Lazy me.
Anyway, now that scrappy little leftover bit of pink gingham has proven itself useful I can smugly pat myself on the back for keeping it all this time.  Ha! that's all I need, more justification for hoarding those awful little bitty scraps!  Merely aiding and abetting the beast, that's what.

Friday, November 14, 2014

patchwork Sandpoint top

I've made a new top.  Well, kinda new from old actually, since it's made from 4 old Tshirts cut up and patched together.  My refashioning bag yielded; a light purply-brown from Craig, two pinks from Tim, and a chocolate-y one which is one of my old self-made Tshirts.  They were all old and a tad tatty here and there but still had some good bits left in them.  And I liked these yummy Cherry Ripe colours together.   mm-mmmmm  :)
The pattern is the Sandpoint top designed by Helena of GreyDay patterns.  Mel of the curious kiwi contacted me to ask me to make up the pattern and review it and well, I love trying out new patterns; so ta da!
The Sandpoint is described as "a loose fitting T-shirt with a surprise cowl in the back".  It is a nice little top pattern suitable for a beginner, having separate front pattern pieces for the two neckline options, V-neck and round neck.  I think it's biggest point of difference from other similar designs is a "shoulder band", essentially a strip which is supposed to be worn behind the neck.  I think its purpose is probably to keep the top actually up on your shoulders and not fall off, which is pretty much a given with these necklines.  However I wasn't keen on the shoulder band and decided to leave it off, and sewed lingerie holders inside on the shoulder seams.  I have previously used lingerie holders to keep up the shoulders of my other oversized cowl, drape-y tops, here and here, and have found them to work just fine for the job.  Fortunately they do for this one too  :)
Because I wanted my rather bold patchworked fabric to speak for itself I decided that arm and neckline bands would be a visually distraction, fighting for attention.  So I left these off also and finished these edges by simply overlocking, turning under once and hand slip-stitching a hem in place.  My lower hem is likewise, invisibly hand stitched, and actually my top is 6.5cm longer than the pattern... for no real reason other than my patched-together fabric had the extra length, and who was I to ruthlessly cut it off? after all that careful cutting and patching it together!?  Plus, I just happen to like tops to be a little bit long.
Because I was leaving off the shoulder band, I put my top together quite differently from the instructions... namely: the instructions say to fold the back cowl allowance inside and then stitch the front and back together at the shoulders.  However this would result in a visible end-of-seam at the neck, which in the design is to be covered up by that shoulder band.  So, instead I pinned the front and the back together at the shoulders right sides together, then folded the back cowl facing allowance out to wrap around the front; then stitched the shoulder seam.  This way, when the shoulder seam is turned right side out the shoulder seam is nicely encased and hidden away within the facing, which gives a neat, more polished finish.
Top; Sandpoint by GreyDay patterns, made using 4 old cotton jersey Tshirts
Skirt; an adaption of Vogue 1247 and Vogue 8561, blue, slightly stretch denim, details here
Shoes; c/o Misano

Thursday, November 13, 2014

simple buttoned cuff

This is an understated little feature to jazz up the end of a plain sleeve.  It's mainly decorative rather than useful, but I think it does look kinda cute  :)
To add this, you will need to cut your sleeves tapered out a little wider at the  lower hem end to allow for the overlap.  Doesn't need to be much, about 1.5cm (5/8") at each side should be sufficient.
Cut a matching facing for each sleeve, with an allowance for the slit facing situated in the centre.  Mine is 6cm (2 3/8") deep for a finished depth of 5cm (2") , and the slit facing is 7cm (2 3/4") wide and 13cm  (5") long for a finished slit length of 9cm (3 1/2").
Interface, finish the outer edge, stitch the short sleeve seam together.
Pin to sleeve edge, right sides together, aligning the seams.
Mark the line of the slit on the wrong side of the facing and pin along its length.
Turn the sleeve so the facing is inside the tube of the sleeve and stitch.  btw, always, but always! stitch in the inside of a tube or closed "circle" of any kind, sleeve, leg, armscye, whatever...  otherwise you are bound to soon be spending quality time with your unpicker when you find you've inadvertently caught the opposite side in there somewhere.   Yeah, we've all been there, right?!
Cut up the middle of the slit stitching, snipping into the corners at the top in a little V shaped snip.
Turn out and understitch the sides of the slip and the sleeve hem as far as possible.  
To help keep the facing tucked up inside the sleeve and not fall out, invisibly slip stitch the outer edge of the facing to the sleeve.  Only scant, widely spaced stitches are really necessary here.
And; buttonhole, button and done!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

a creamy little double-fronted top

My new top will come as a very un-surprise to anyone who has been following me in the Sewvember instagram challenge, haha!...
This pattern is Burdastyle 04/2014-115, with modified sleeves  and my fabric is a silk hessian from Spotlight.  It has a very loose weave, a rather pleasing slightly rough and rustic texture.  The rich, almost buttery cream colour apparently suits me.
Now, I have received a handful of patterns of my choice from Burda... however this is NOT one of them.   I had bought this magazine myself already!  and I've already made the asymmetrical turtleneck top from the same collection in the mag.  Ok, honesty here; I actually totally love just about this entire collection.  It's embarrassing to admit how easily I am swayed by colour choices.  Those peacefully harmonious shades of soothing cool non-colours; *sigh* heavenly!
So style-wise, this is a plain design.  And my choice of fabric; quite plain.  But that's ok, a bit of plain is a good thing to have in the wardrobe to set off the more eye-catching elements within.  But as I was doing the sleeves, which are likewise as plain a style as could be, I worried that they were going to tip my blouse over into the territory of Irretrievably Bland.  So I added a little feature; a faced split that has a little button closure on the corners.  I'm very pleased with how this looks; quite primitive, like a vague sort of a nod towards a tailored shirtsleeve button placket.
Construction-wise, this is a nice, quick and simple little pattern and utterly foolproof... . oh, I put the wrong front lapping over.   Haha.  We'll just pretend that I did that on purpose, ok?  Ahem.
Insider biz; the side and shoulder seams are flat-felled, the sleeve seams overlocked.  The neckline is faced with a bias-cut strip of pale yellow/cream cotton voile.

Finally, my usual criteria; if I saw this in a shop would I be tempted to buy?  Heck, yeah!  Plain is my middle name.  Along with all the other middle names I adopt when the mood strikes.  This is going to be worn a tonne  :)

Top; Burdastyle 04/2014-115 with modified sleeves, cream silk hessian
Skirt; adaption of Vogue 1247, coffee lace with silk charmeuse lining, details here
Thongs; Mountain Designs
Sienna wears her own custom-fit coat

Monday, November 3, 2014

Oblique mitred corners

I'm taking part in bimble and pimple's Sewvember instagram challenge, and on day two our mission, should we choose to accept it, *Dun Dun dundundun Dun*... was "technique".  I happened to be doing a couple of oblique mitred corners that morning so that's what got insta-ed.
A right-angled mitred corner is an easy and straightforward thing, simply folding the raw edges evenly together and sewing an easily gauged perpendicular line out to the edge from the corner.   
But I find an oblique mitred corner to be not at all intuitive... so anyway, I thought I would take a few more pictures and share my way of doing it here.  This is not necessarily the one and only way, of course.  Just mine  :)
This pattern has been cut with a 4cm hem allowance and a 1cm seam allowance.
Turn up the 4cm hem allowances on both edges and press the layers in place.  
Use a long pin to mark the underneath layer, exactly where the fold of the upper layer sits.  It's also helpful to mark that outer corner fold point with a pin.
Unfold the hem allowances and turn them out right sides together, exactly aligning the upper layer fold at left to the line marked with the long pin.  The corner point pin is a helpful guide to alignment.  Pin.
the point of that corner fold pin can be seen peeping out at the bottom there
Stitch along the pressed fold; starting from 1cm in from the raw edge and ending at the corner point pin.  Trim the corner excess.
Turn out and press.  If all has gone to plan, it should be sitting all nice, smooth and flat!
Aaaand, hem  :)

Friday, October 31, 2014

a ladylike skirt

I have lots of "little" skirts, but it's nice to have some longer, looser, wider skirts too.  To be more refined, relaxed, ladylike and elegant, and less, er, whatever I was before.  This pattern is Burdastyle 02/2014, 106, and delivers the required dose of elegance quite nicely, I think.
Even in an annoyingly brisk breeze that turned up, just at the right time to buffet it about in my pictures here!  The wind tried, but never once did I come anywhere near doing a Marilyn in any of my shots.  Thank goodness for that!  Ladylike personified.  Or, should I say, skirtified?  Yeah, I think maybe I should  ;)
So, yes, it is looking a bit windblasted here, but that's "real" or whatever.   My fabric is a mid-heavyweight, richly creamy-coloured satin remnant from Fabulous Fabrics; I suspect from the bridal section.  Probably if I'd made it up in the suggested brocade it would hang properly smart with the big box pleats standing out nice and stiffly-straight and looking just like the one on the magazine cover, at right, but I think that the luxurious feel of the satin rippling and swishing against my legs is a happy bonus.

The skirt is pretty simple; wide, deeply pleated skirt sections attached to a fitted, curved yoke.  The pattern is super straightforward, all going together very easily and quickly.  I would describe this as fast gratification; a nicely stress-free project.
There are two views to the pattern; the other, illustrated in the line drawing, is a more complex version with a bigger rectangular piece of fabric pleated over the yoke as an over layer.  This feature you can just make out on the magazine cover, above, at right.  I made the simplified version with plain yoke because hello, remnant.
I lined the yoke in ivory polycetate lining fabric, also from Fabulous Fabrics, and used an off-white invisible zip in the CB seam.  I wanted the skirt to be as long as long as I possibly could make it, and managed to cut the skirt pieces to be about 10cm longer than the pattern.  Then hemmed as stingily and as meanly as humanly possibly, by stitching to the lower edge a bias cut strip of pale ivory/yellow cotton voile in a very narrow 2/8" seam.   This enabled me to only turn up a mere 2/8" of my satin but still to have a nice deep hem.  The hem is slip-stitched by hand.

the least windy of the pictures...

Skirt; Burdastyle 02/2014-106, ivory/cream satin
Cardigan;  Audrey in Unst knitted by me, in 4ply poll dorset bought in Paris while shopping with Donna, details here

um, I'm not sure if or how I'm supposed to do this, but just in case...
Disclaimer; this pattern was given to me by Burdastyle; however I chose it myself from the large range of patterns on offer because I liked it.  All opinions are most definitely my own.  There are no affiliate links on my blog and never will be...  I'm in it because I love sewing  :) 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

studio faro pocket dress

New dress, with interesting pockets.
While browsing Pinterest, as you do, I came across a line drawing of a very elegant dress on and I immediately knew I wanted to have a go at drafting it for myself.  It is the pocket drape dress designed by Anita, of studio faro.  Subsequently I discovered her absolutely fantastic blog well-suited, where she very generously shares her considerable expertise in understanding how designs actually work.    If you're interested in exploring and understanding pattern making then Anita's blog is totally brilliant; sure to inspire and motivate.
I'd previously measured and made a custom-fit darted sheath dress sloper for myself during my early explorations of Pattern Magic and I used this to draft my pattern, following Anita's guidelines pretty closely.  I made a first test version using an old sheet.  It worked, but well, ahem.  I have to admit I looked less than chic in that thing.  I think my drape was a bit of an epic fail.
However I decided I really did love the pocket, so I went with having the pocket on both sides.  Also I fiddled about with the crossover neckline, put in a few random folds and made it asymmetrical.
The deep side pockets have flap openings that are an extension of the bodice side panels.  They are fully functional pockets, but their positioning with the opening sitting up high at the waist makes them not really conducive to shoving your hands in.  So, not as practical as they are decorative.  Well, I could put a few small things in there that I don't need to get out in a hurry.  The pockets are perfectly useable pockets, but just for things, and not hands.  But still...  a very cool design, and I reckon they look really interesting  :)
The pockets are kinda hard to explain... they are inset into the side of the dress and have an extra piece which is part of but also sitting over the pocket, that extends into a flap hanging loose and free past the bottom of the pocket.  
Working out how to construct the pockets was quite an enjoyable puzzle, and I really enjoyed the process of nutting out a way to put it together neatly!  I don't know if my way is the way Anita intended for it to be made, but it worked out OK for me.  I think  :)
I've written my instructions at the end of this post, mostly for myself, if I ever want to make these pockets up again.  Please be warned that they will probably not make sense to anyone not making up the pockets...
the pocket detail; underneath is a fully functional, 2-layer inset pocket
In the muslining stage I found that the pocket sagged down on the inside, pulling down on the pocket flap; and so decided it would be better to add a lining to the front and back side panels above the pocket, and to "tether" the top edge of the pocket to the side panel lining, by sewing the panel lining lower SA to the upper SA of the pocket bags.  Having a lining added some much needed hidden support and keeps it all holding up and together, nice and stable.
Subsequently I decided to go the whole hog and properly line the whole dress in the same creamy polyacetate.  I used the same pattern for the lining pieces.
inside view; lining of side panel and inset pocket
The fabric is a rich cream, silk dupion, slightly slubby yet still with a subtly glossy sheen, and a decadently crinkly texture.  I bought it at Fabulous Fabrics forever ago and it's been living quietly in my stash, patiently awaiting its turn.  It had gone slightly yellow but I gave it a good wash and it came up lovely and fresh, seemingly as good as new.
So I like my dress.  Well, it's OK.  It was not easy, ahem! and I've decided my self-drafting skills are kinda rubbish.  And even though I thought my muslin looked dreadful I have a sinking suspicion that maybe it was more interesting that way.  I think maybe I could've stuck with the drape, hmmm.   *sigh*
But I do love how the pockets look and I very much love that I have a nice fresh off-white dress to pop on for summer.  So I will wear it very happily.
And now all I want to do is just leap onto some commercial pattern, already drafted up for me, ready to go, easy peasy, no thought required, neat and tidy like.  Yeah.
The Pocket: feel free to skip this bit if you want.
So, you have the pocket detail, the pocket bag, the pocket bag lining and the pocket flap facing.  Also the back side panel, front side panel and their lining pieces, which have the pocket flap facing allowance  removed ...
Sew pocket detail and pocket bag R sides tog at top edge, turn, understitch.
Sew pocket bag lining  to pocket bag, R sides tog at bottom edge.
Sew pocket flap facing to pocket bag lining R sides tog, press pocket flap facing up.
Sew back side panel and front side panel R sides tog at side seam, press open, repeat for panel lining pieces.
Sew lower edge of joined panels to pocket flap facing R sides tog, trim, clip side panel pieces into corners, turn pocket flap out, press.
Align and layer 3 pocket pieces together and baste tog at sides, clip into the SA of pocket detail at junction with pocket bag lower edge.

For the side panel lining; and this is where it gets a little more complicated...
the dress pieces need to be assembled except for the shoulder seams and keeping the lower part of the pocket detail free, and the dress lining assembled likewise, leaving out the pocket lining which is attached to the dress already, meaning there is a "hole" in the dress lining where the pocket lining should be.
 Sew the dress to its lining pieces together at the underarm and neckline seams, understitch the lining as far as possible, turn; then the side panel lining pieces can be sewn to the upper pocket bag seam allowances on the inside, W side to R side.  Clip into the corners, then the SA around the three remaining sides of the dress lining "hole" can then be stitched to the pocket lining seam allowances inside, R side to W side, between the dress and its lining.
The lower pocket detail edges are turned under and invisibly hemmed by hand.

All that might seem a bit convoluted, but trust me, if you are putting together the pocket it does work!