Monday, July 21, 2014

Grainline Alder Shirtdress in Liberty

Like many others, I jumped when Jen first posted her latest pattern, the Alder Shirtdress and whipped one up straight away.

I adore this new dress! I love shirtdresses (always) and was instantly attracted to the gathered skirt. During construction however, I doubted my choice and I worried about ruining this Liberty. Now that it's finished, I can't believe how much I love it!! (If only I'd have ironed it better before taking these photos!)

I managed to finish most of this dress before our renovations began. I now have some access to my sewing room, so managed to finish the rest on the weekend.

As you would expect from Grainline, this pattern is drafted impeccably. If you've made an Archer, you'll have no trouble with the Alder. I made a straight size 6 and it fits really well. As this is a more fitted style, I sized up from my preferred Archer shirt size. The Archer is a loose fitting shirt that I've sized down from my measurements to achieve the fit that I like.

Surprisingly, the waist seam sits exactly where it should. The only changes I will make for future versions, would be to raise the bust darts and pockets and play a little with the button placement to accommodate the raised bust dart.
I purchased 1.6 meters of  Liberty Tiny Dancer and used almost every scrap. I was thoughtful when cutting to align the rows of dancers, but wasn't too obsessed with pattern matching. I'm not even sure you can pattern match with this fabric. I didn't have enough fabric to cut the under collar or bias binding, so used black rayon cotton scraps from my stash.
I'm seriously excited about this dress. It's a little too cool to wear it at the moment, but with thick tights and a warm cardigan or jacket it's OK. I have this Liberty that may become another version for Summer and some lovely dark chambray, but I guess I need to think about how many shirt dresses I really need....

Fabric: 1.6m Liberty from Shaukat inc part postage: $49
Pattern: $14
Buttons: $6
Total: $69

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The last New Look 6145

This will be my last New Look 6145 for a while. I think this is the fifth time I've used this pattern. Gosh I love the simplicity of this shape. It is a little boring, but it is so wearable.
For this version I used a stable charcoal and black spot double knit that I picked up for a steal from Pitt Trading during their recent sale. Only $5 for a odd shaped piece just over a  meter long.

The pattern came together easily. I tried not to get too hung up on pattern placement, choosing to try to keep things even and on grain, but not centered.
To maintain shaping without distorting the spots, I added to darts along the back.

I really like this dress. It's perfect for work, even though I haven't worn it yet. I'm still locked out of my sewing room, so am almost exclusively wearing knit garments while I don't have an iron.

Pattern: New Look 6145, used before = Free
Fabric: 1m double knit from Pitt Trading = $5
Thread from stash
Total: $5!! About time I made a truly cost effective garment!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Denim Shirt Dress: Simplicity 2246

My love for shirt dresses continues. I have wanted a Winter denim shirt dress for a while, and now I have one!
For this, I used a very popular Simplicity Lisette pattern, the Traveller Dress - Simplicity 2246. Oliver & S patterns are known for their wonderful instructions, so I did expect something different from this pattern which is drafted by the same designer, but the instructions are stock standard Simplicity type. That's OK for me, but I thought they might be different to cater to beginner sewers.

I wasn't a fan of the mock collar and stand on the dress, so drafted my own true collar and stand as I prefer how they sit. I used a cotton/rayon, black spot remnant for the stand and button band facing for a little interest.

I omitted the pockets as they didn't look as clean and crisp as I'd have liked. I added proper cuffs to the dress, as full sleeves make it easier to wear a cardigan or jacket over a dress in Winter. I also added sleeve tabs for rolling sleeves, and belt loops so I don't need to wear my belt tight.

I made a straight size 10, my standard size (though my measurements always put me between a 12 -14) and it fits perfectly, surprisingly perfectly, though I wouldn't want the hips any smaller. The fabric is a light-weight, 4oz denim from Kelani Fabric and was just delightfully soft to work with, though I may not have washed it enough before wearing this dress as my hands were a little 'smurf-like' toward the evening yesterday.
When I read Carolyn's post a little while ago about paying attention to the finishing on our home sewn garments, I could help but connect to her words for the wrong reasons. I only own 4 serger thread colours and don't often pay the best attention to the inner finishing of the garments I make. I know! Tut tut! :) So thinking of her words, I took my time with this dress to make it special. In total this dress took one and a half weeks to complete, slow and steady and not at all rushed. I flat felled all the seams (a first!) and really took my time to ensure the whole finish of the dress is very neat and crisp.When I look at this dress now, it makes me happy and I'm surprised by how smooth flat felled seams are to wear. There will be more of them in the future.

My only complaint with this frock is that the hem is probably half an inch too short, and although I thought dipping the hem at the back would be a good idea, I don't like it, so I will be re-hemming this frock.

I'm very satisfied with this make and very proud of the finish. I also have another shirt dress cut and ready to sew tonight, because I just couldn't help myself and bought the Alder dress pattern and whipped out some new Liberty - yum!!!

Pattern: Simplicity 2246, purchased on sale $3
Fabric: 1.8m lightweight 4oz denim from Kelani Fabric: $34.20
Buttons: Many!! from Tessuti only 20c each!! What a miracle! $2
Buttons: two from the stash for the cuffs, as I didn't have enough matching ones: free??
Thread: 2 spools!! $6
Total: $47.20

Monday, July 7, 2014

New Look 6145 again

I'm not sure I've ever made a pattern as often as I have made New Look 6145.
This time I've used a deep plum ponte purchased at The Fabric Store in Melbourne to make another simple, boxy, but nicely shaped top. I purchased this fabric intending to make a dress, but a top like this will get worn so much more.

I adore this colour. I wish there were more of it in my wardrobe.

To add a little interest I split the hem, dipping the length at the back. I think I look a little pregnant in this photo as I'm touching my tummy, but I assure you I am definitely not! It was only to show you the hem. I didn't know where to put my hands!

I've modified this pattern a little over time, raising the armpit, slimming the sleeves and slightly extending the front darts. I have another version of this pattern to show soon.

Pattern: New Look 6145, used before here and here and here = Free
Fabric: 1.2m ponte from The Fabric Store  $26
Thread: $3
Total: $29

Sunday, July 6, 2014

BIG Home Projects

While I am enjoying my Winter holiday break with the kids, relaxing, doing school work and trying to sew, we are also planning quite a significant home renovation. It has kinda crept up on us. We were always planning to undertake a large kitchen, laundry room, back room renovation at some point, but then cabinets started falling from the kitchen walls, appliances started breaking and our builder friends were available to do work, so we moved the renovation forward a year and will shortly begin.

It has been all consuming deciding the directions that we head with this reno. Not only are we thinking about kitchen cabinet styles, splash back tiles, bench tops, appliances and all the other fun stuff in the kitchen, but we have also had a number of discussions about steel beams, footings and supporting the very structural wall that we want to knock down. I have been re assured by the builder and my very handy husband, that we can take the wall out without the upstairs bedroom ending up in the kitchen, but am still doubtful I'll get the slick, seamless flow that I want.

While I won't bore you too much with the details, I thought I'd share a few inspiration pics that have led us during the planning phase.
1. Artwork from here. We have a delightful flock of black cockatoos that moved to the bush land behind my home about a year ago. Whenever we hear their cries, we still all run outside to see them gliding around in the sky. I adore this print and may even buy another. 2. Pendant lights for over the breakfast bar. I'm still not certain this will be the one. I have a few on Pinterest that could work - feel free to offer suggestions :). 3. Taps are so expensive! This one if from Abey. 4. Breakfast bar stools, these are way cheap from Ikea. 5. I already own this Kitchen Aid. I just need to find a home for it in my new kitchen. It may no longer live on the bench top. 6. I'm planning some open shelves to show off some vintage treasures from Nan's house. 7. I love white cabinetry. 8. Stone bench tops from Caesar Stone. This is called Clam Shell. 9. The Cypress Pine flooring will be added to the back room and refinished throughout the house. 10. Modern 'cube/matrix' tiles for the back splash from Skheme. 11. Shutters to hide from our neighbours. 12. Sleek cabinetry with hidden pulls.

As I'm sure you can imagine, a significant part of my house will be out of action for the duration of the renovation, including access to my sewing room :( I am planning a few slower makes that require hand stitching to maintain my creative outlet, but my output is likely to slow considerably.

I'm not sure how long this renovation will take, but I have a sneaky suspicion it will take about twice as long as my husband says.

I'll be back shortly with a few makes from the holidays so far.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


When one isn't sewing, one often stashes.
The end of the school term isn't the best for sewing, and idle time on the lounge at night often lends itself to stashing. I have worked a number of Fridays recently and have chosen to spend my extra play money on fabric and boots. Bonnet pattern sales have also been quite strong this Northern hemisphere summer, so a lot of PlayPal money has also been donated to online fabric stores. Just because I know you are somewhat interested, I thought I'd show you some of my finds.

This fabric is from The Remnant Warehouse (not online) and it is simply divine! It's a panel print polyester from the designer Bec & Bridge, who I had never heard of before. You can see it made up here in a maxi dress, but I'm thinking it would look hot made into Vogue 1395 for summer. It was a steal at only $5.95 per panel and I just phoned and they have more in stock if you are quick.

Liberty is always high on my shopping list when I have spare money and these three pieces aren't new, but I like 'em. I might look a bit crazy, but the Anne Tyrrell print is my favourite Liberty print ever. I've made two items from this print already, but those styles aren't high in my wardrobe rotation these days, so I purchased another piece :) Is that totally crazy?? I also purchased Tiny Dancer cuz it's so damn cute and my 'pot luck' purchase is the bottom piece of cotton twill/canvas called Childhood Treasures. I really like this fabric. It is thick and stable and more like denim with a little mechanical give. I really want to try making patterned skinnies, but don't think they are in fashion - are they? advice please??

The PlayPal purchase below is from an Etsy quilting fabric store called Pattern Crush. I often fall  in love with quilting company voile and this one doesn't dissapoint. It's called Budquette in Nightfall Gray and designed by Bari J for Art Gallery Fabrics. Won't it make a lovely summer frock, maybe with Simplicity 1654?
Another PlayPal purchase is this awesome Milly border print. I'm yet to recieve this, but am excited just waiting for it.
I have Carolyn to thank for finding this for me. I've wanted this piece of fabric since I saw Heather's Milly frock. This photo is from Carolyn's blog

So that's enough sharing for now. Please let me know what you think about floral skinnies - have I missed this trend?

Now back to my sewing cave to make good use of my holiday time!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Crochet complete!

Finally this mammoth crochet blanket is complete. I started it in December 2010, thinking it would take 2 years, but it has ended up taking about three and a half years to complete.
I guess this isn't too bad considering there are 300 squares in the blanket (15 x 20 squares). The crappiest part by far was weaving in and trimming the ends. I've worked out there are about 2,480 ends that have been woven in one by one. Ugh! Seriously, the crappest and most tedious job ever!

Thankfully it is done now and I love it. I love the colours and the look. I love the warmth from the wool and I love that I am able to hog it for myself on the lounge - the kids can't touch it yet.

Perfect for the chilly weather we've been getting

Details on Ravelry here