Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sewing Grey

Last weekend I didn't get any time in my sewing cave at all! Even on my busy weekends, I always manage to potter around in there for a short while. Picking up fabric or patterns to contemplate my next project. But last weekend, there just wasn't any time and I've felt lost and stressed all week, which I've put down to this lack of peace in my sewing happy place.

The school term is almost finished and I am hanging for holidays. We are all tired and stressed and in need of a few lazy mornings. My sewing time has suffered this term, largely due to my increased workload - working full time, kid in kindy, two busy boys refusing to do homework or hand in notes and husband working crazy hours in his new job. One would think that the additional work that I've undertaken would mean that I'd been crashing in bed each night, but alas this is not the case. My sleep has been worse than ever. :(

Reading has always helped me sleep, but I don't find reading in bed works for us as it hurts my eyes and the light keeps my husband awake, which means he becomes the cranky one. So I coughed up some $$ and bought myself a Kindle Paperwhite - which I LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! I can read in bed with no light and my eyes don't hurt!
Naturally with a new gadget, I needed a new case and that is something simple enough to knock together without hurting my brain too much. I made this Kindle case the weekend before last from an old felt laptop case which I don't use anymore - who even owns a laptop that big anyway?? I cut it apart, attached velcro, sewed up the side and voila! New case.
The original laptop case.
It was so simple that I made another for a friend too.

While sewing grey, it only felt right to knock up a simple grey tank with some fabric left over from the tee in this post. This tank has been on such high rotation since I finished it. I can't believe I've never owned a simple grey knit tank - it's so versatile!
To make this an even quicker project, I simply turned under the edges and cover stitched them. It's not the best finish for all knit fabrics, especially thin ones, but worked a treat here.

I hope you have a great week! only 4 more work days till holidays!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Grainline Cascade

Whenever Jen from Grainline releases a pattern, I buy it. She has fantastic taste and impeccable pattern drafting skills. Her Cascade Duffle Coat pattern was no exception to this.
I really like the simple lines of this coat. Although I didn't really end up making a duffle coat with her pattern, more a casual jacket.

Clearly I don't have much need for a very warm Winter coat living in Sydney. Although some people may disagree with me, I just don't feel the cold like some of my friends.

This jacket was an absolute delight to sew. I've read a few reviews of the pattern where people remark on how easy this is to sew and I have to agree with them. Nothing is terribly hard with this pattern. The collar fits perfectly, the pieces line up and the sleeves set beautifully.

I even fully bagged the lining for this jacket - a first for me - thanks to the help of Jen's great tutorial - yay!!

As you can see though, I did make a few changes to the pattern to achieve my look. For fit, I shaved a little off the top shoulder to accommodate my slightly narrow shoulders. The only other change I made was to omit the toggles (as they weren't the look I was going for) and to narrow the button bands slightly to better fit my buttons. I also omitted the zipper, as it really isn't needed for a lighter casual jacket.

The fabric is a grey and navy wool from The Fabric Store, which I picked up over the Summer holidays on sale. It has a irregular herringbone pattern with tiny specks of fuschia and turquoise. I lined the jacket with a poly satin from my stash, just so I could avoid going out again to buy fabric, which is always a minefield of temptation! I found the buttons at the Remnant Warehouse, which has a good range of buttons that don't cost the Earth. Speaking of buttons, has anyone noticed how atrocious the selection at Spotty is these days? And they got rid of all their tubes. Insane!

Anyway, I am super pleased with this jacket. It is exactly what I was after and fits perfectly. My only word of advice for those sewing this pattern, is I found the shorter length jacket to only just fit me in length, both sleeves and in the body. I am 163cm tall, so if you are taller than that, or have long arms, you may want to test the length prior to cutting your fabric.
I am contemplating making another casual jacket with this pattern this Winter. Perhaps with some cute Orla Kiely coating that I also picked up from The Fabric Store this Summer (you can see it here on Insta). 

Happy hump day!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Floral Burda Maxi Skirt

I've always wanted to make a maxi skirt, but have been worried about looking short.
I don't think I should have been worried! I really, really love this!!!

If you know me in real life, you'll know that I don't walk, I race. I speed walk everywhere. There are running jokes at my school between the teachers and students about my pace. Everyone knows they are expected to keep up with me if they want to talk to me.

This is my ideal maxi skirt with oodles of swish and ease to walk around at my speedy pace without reducing my stride. I saw one of those funny videos recently, which now I can't find, that showed the problems with wearing maxi skirts including walking with a tiny stride, limited by the fabric. I certainly don't have to worry about that in this skirt.

The only change I've had to make to my walking to wear this skirt, is that I have to hold it up at the front when racing up stairs or risk tripping on it and face planting. Not ideal when in public or at home, best just hold the front a little.

This pattern is the Burda Train Maxi skirt pattern 9/2014. As I was feeling frugal when making this skirt, I borrowed this Burda mag from the library and traced it for free. The pattern is interesting and there is more going on than you realize - the drafting and design lines are impressive. The front is relatively straight and wraps around the sides. Then the two back panels create the volume at the back, which is hard to photograph in this fabric, but you can see the folds of fabric right?

As you can see I omitted the back train as clearly it is not a practical design feature. I also didn't sew the large darts on the front panel and instead chose to just tuck the fabric, which I think is a much neater way to add a little shape to the skit.

The fabric is a viscose twill which I ordered online last year, but it never arrived. I whined and carried  on about it so much at my mum's house, as I tend to do when obsessed by something, that she colluded with my sister to re buy it for me. yay!!

I am super pleased with this skirt and have worn it 5 times already. I'm also scheming to make another, once some fabric inspiration hits.

I also made this white tee to wear with it, but I rather like the orange singlet too. The white tee is made with a remnant of super nice white jersey from Tessuti. As with most of my t shirts, I used the Grainline scout pattern and slimmed the sides a little.  I can't remember the last time I owned a plain white t shirt. I wonder how long it will stay that brilliant white shade?

Hope you have a fab week! It's a little cool in Sydney today, so I might try to photograph some of the more Wintery clothes that I've made recently.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The dress she hates

This isn't the first dress that I've made for Adele that she hates. She hated her Peri pullover from last year and pretty much boycotted it all of Winter.

This dress has been finished since the Summer school holidays. Adele picked the fabric. We discussed the pattern. She watched me sew it and then she refused to put it on. It took me weeks to bribe her to take these photos and most of them are with her pulling an 'attitude' face or sticking her tongue out like a brat.
This is the Oliver and S Pinwheel dress made in light denim chambray with Liberty trim. I think this is cute, but I guess it's not interesting enough for this opinionated little girl.

Oh well, perhaps it will become a gift, or jarmies, or just sit in her wardrobe unworn until she grows out of it.
I have so many items to show you. My Grainline Cascade jacket, more trousers and a maxi skirt, but the just too hot to photograph them right now. Perhaps I'll brave the heat tomorrow.

Happy Friday!

Sunday, February 22, 2015


After quite a binge of trouser making in early 2013, I'm only now finding that I need more nice pants to wear to work. After making a number of Thurlow based trousers, I thought it about time I try a new pattern. 
While I really like the idea of the Republic Du Chiffon Jacques trousers, I'm not sure they are for me. Maybe I'm just a little too stuck on the skinny/slim trouser look.
I think my fabric choice, which isn't as crisp as it should be, has also made these a rather ho hum make. I used a cheaper drapey poly twill fabric from The Remnant Warehouse. I think you need a crisp fabric to hold the pleat and the crease along the leg with this style of trousers.
When making this pattern, the biggest hurdle I stumbled upon was the sizing. After making a muslin, I found my size almost unwearable as there just wasn't enough ease. As a rule, I size down almost all of my projects. However, after researching the pattern a little online, I found that you are supposed to size up when picking your size. To avoid re tracing the pattern, I just added a little along the side seams and a few other places to size them up to my size. Yes, it's a little gung ho, but it mostly worked.
As you can see from these pictures, I modified the waist band significantly, adding a regular fly front rather than buttons (which are definitely not my style) and using my regular curved waist band, rather than the one drafted.
I was also not sure about the cuffed look, but think I'll go back and loose a little length to add them back on again.

Look they aren't that bad, but I don't love them. Perhaps when we get a cooler day in Sydney I'll try to wear them to work and see how I go. I think I may also try making them in a much crisper fabric, probably with a little stretch for comfort. 

See also

Friday, February 6, 2015


You know when you need to dash up to the shop to get milk first thing in the morning and the only thing you can find it an un ironed Archer? A crumpled up Alder? crushed Thurlows? Yes - it's a wardrobe crisis!! You need more t-shirts!!

Sewing basics isn't as much fun as sewing icing, but it is necessary evil. This basic tee was made with the Grainline scout tee pattern. I love the loose fit.
Even though this is a pattern for wovens, it quite easily translates to knits and just finishes more relaxed. The only change that I make to accommodate the knit fabric, is that I sew standard 5/8 inch seams, rather than the specified 1/2 inch.
The fabric was left over from this cardigan, which doesn't get as much wear as it should. I think it's because it's a busy pattern and my tops are often busy. So busy and busy don't go, right? Anyway, as I was working with a small, choppy piece of fabric, I didn't have enough to cut the whole back piece in one, so added a contrast back yoke with the fabric running vertically. Design feature right?

While on basics, I've also recently sewn another Scout in grey knit with Liberty binding.
This Liberty isn't a knit and it does not form to the shape of the neckline properly. So to fix, I ran a line of hat elastic inside the binding and pulled it in so that it sits on my skin properly. It's not a technical fix that you'd read about in a sewing book, but it works.

Lastly, I finally made myself a Grainline hemlock. Nothing terribly spesh about this top, but I like it. I often wear my Liberty Archers to the beach to stop sunburn and made this to have a knit beach top that will look less crumpled after sitting on the sand while I swim.
It works. It's good. Shame about the crappy photography. 

Fingers crossed I steal some time at the machine this weekend. TGIF!!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Another swishy dress

I love my confetti dress so much, that over the holidays I made another just like it.
Again I used a thin, drapey Spotlight poly knit. I found this print on the sale table for just a few dollars a meter. I don't normally wear red, but I really love this dress.

This dress is fairly similar to my confetti dress and based mostly on Vogue 1351 with the front drafted as a regular sleeveless dress rather than with a cowl neck. With this version, instead of sewing a tie to the dress, this one is removable. I added belt loops to the side so I can wear a regular belt or the tie that I made in the same fabric.

This dress is fully self lined, so it is very swishy and doesn't at all cling or show wobbles, which is always a risk with a knit dress. I was a little more successful at cutting the lining shorter than the dress outer, which gives a much nicer blousing look to the dress. I think this keeps it from looking too formal for school.

I hope you have a good week. It's going to be cracker in my house.