Tuesday, December 2, 2014

denim mabel skirt

Next up is a Colette Patterns Mabel Skirt. This is my first Colette make! I picked up the pattern in their black-friday sale (along with the Moneta & Negroni - can't wait to give them a try!). I love that Colette patterns are drafted for a C-cup, so I'll be interested to see how the Moneta fits, but obviously with a skirt it's a non-issue. 



This is a great pattern. Even though I have (successfully) self-drafted a knit skirt before I liked the variations of this pattern and the price was right! The pattern is really well thought-out. You get 7 pdf files! A different file for each version - so if you only want to make one you can save on pages. But there is also a "master file" which includes all versions tiled together. I thought that was pretty clever. The instructions are of course very thorough, and I do have the corresponding Sewing with Knits (ebook) that they released at about the same time (although I didn't need to refer to it while sewing the skirt). 


 I made version 2 with the faux button placket.  Here's my notes
  • This is a quick make! They're not kidding when they say you could make this in an hour (as long as you had some decent sewing experience, I would think).
  • I cut a size M after checking the size with a favourite knit skirt I own.
  • I cut the back on the fold, omitting the seam allowance. I'm not sure why you'd want to piece the back together, except if you were expecting to chop out a wedge for a sway back adjustment? In a knit? I think this makes for a neater look, and then you don't have to worry about stretching out the seam when you sew it.
  • The denim stretch fabric was originally bought for some leggings (jeggings? I hate that word!). It's a rayon/poly/spandex (5%) 4-way stretch (bought here, for Australian readers). It's stretchier than recommended, but it sewed up great. I've also made leggings in a cotton spandex version of this and it's worn/washed very well. Maybe I'll need the size L for a sturdier knit. (note to self)
  • I used a corresponding black knit as a waistband lining, but it has similar stretch to the main fabric.
  • I was on the fence with button choice. I did buy some lovely contrasting wood buttons, but decided on the anonymity of the darker buttons. Maybe they're a bit small, but it will make it easier to match tops with it.
  • Double needle for the hem, using wooly nylon in the bobbin. I only have white WN at the moment, but it doesn't look so bad as the wrong side of the fabric is quite light.

I'm really happy with this skirt and can't wait to fit into it!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

exposed zip tiny pocket tank

Here is the first of two easy makes to have come out of my dining table sewing room lately! I'd love to give you modelled pics, but... I don't actually fit into either of these makes! My full-term pregnant belly is a bit in the way, but I know both of these will get a work out after bebe arrives.


The first is a Grainline Studio Tiny Pocket Tank. I made a muslin of this about a year ago and it desperately needed an FBA which I have only just got around to doing. I cut the size 10 and added a decent 8cms (3in) to the chest (4cm either side). I also added an exposed zipper to the front, because I love the look, and it will make nursing a bit easier. I just drafted an easy zipper placket thingy. There's a few tutorials around the web for exposed zips and I used a mish-mash of them all really.


The fabric is a printed viscose hacked out of a dress I picked up free at a swap meet. I love the fluidity of the fabric, and the zip breaks up the crazy print a bit. I used bought cotton bias tape to add a bit of structure, and a baby hem.


I know this top will be well-worn during our hot Australian summer to come...


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Nani Iro Kimono Robe

With my bump increasing at a rapid rate, I've been sewing lots. A few maternity makes, up-cycling thrifted clothes into easy bump-wear, and some basics for the toddler. With a December deadline (due date!) I want to make ALL the things! Especially knowing my sewing machine will probably not see the light-of-day for a little while.



One little splurge just for me was some beautiful Nani Iro fabric to make into a dressing gown. I know I will get a lot of use out of this. I've always wanted an excuse to get my hands on some of the lovely Japenese double-gauze, and needing a summer-weight dressing gown was the perfect excuse. I spent an excessive amount of time trawling Etsy and the internet to find just-the-right pattern & colour way. I needed something that would hide all manner of sins (baby-vomit and other baby-related-unmentionables). It was super hard to choose, but in the end I decided on this gorgeous (2013 season) Fuccra Rakuen Aegean floral with a navy/deep purple base. I'm not usually a floral-print person, but for lounge wear it's perfect. The only slightly down-side is the wrong side of the fabric is a lighter cream/white colour (not navy to match the print) so it is quite noticeable when the gown is open. It's a tiny little detail, but not having used Nani Iro fabrics before I was perhaps (naively) expecting it to match. 


  • I used 2 yards to cut out my basic kimono. 
  • I used a self drafted a pattern, comparing my construction method with 2 easy patterns - Purl Bee's Women's Robe (sign up for their newsletter & you can get this pattern free!), and also from the book "Print's Charming". 
  • Having made one kimono gown before, I did slim-down the fit a bit for personal preference. The sleeves are above-elbow length and the hem sits just above my knees.
  • I also added in-seam pockets which does make the sides appear a bit fuller than I'd like, but the functionality wins in my book. I just didn’t want patch pockets (and couldn’t have fit them in the fabric anyway).
  • I used french seams for the shoulders and sleeves, then just overlocked the side seams. It was just easier to do this, construction wise. It’s not as pretty but the overlocking stitches are quite hidden in the lighter underside.
  • I used just about every scrap to make this - I even had to patch the pockets with a contrasting colour. At least the contrast isn’t visible from the outside opening.
  • I used satin bias strips to add a contrast to the neck facing and sleeves. I love how it breaks up the print a little bit and picks up on the lovely peach tones (one of my favourite colours. Along with Navy. basically this fabric has all my favourite colours in it).
  • The double gauze is just heavenly. I can see this as a perfect summer AND winter fabric - it is cool to wear, but quite cosy at the same time. Everything everyone ever said about Nani Iro is true - it’s amazing stuff!
  • I used the same satin bias for the hem for a lux look and also to retain as much length as possible (as it was a long as I could cut it!). The back hem is slightly dipped - i liked the look as well as having a bit of extra length at the back.
  • Both the hem and the neck facing are hand-stitched down on the underside.
  • Because of yardage I couldn’t cut a matching waist-tie, but I do like the contrast one better anyway. I used a thrifted linen which is a perfect match for the fabric and the bias. The texture of the linen holds the bow so nicely.



I really took my time with this. So many times I had to force myself to slow-down my sewing and construction to get everything right the first time. I love the almost-instant satisfaction of sewing and just want to wear everything I'm sewing NOW. I spread out this make over about 4 weeks, a little bit here and there and the result is exactly as dreamy and perfect as I had imagined. So bring on this little one and lazy days lounging on the couch soaking up all that newborn goodness!
(last pic - with our stunning Kangaroo Paw - a native Australian plant).


Saturday, September 13, 2014

striped ruched maternity skirt


My new motto in life is: "embrace the bump". I've definitely hit that stage of my pregnancy where the bump is obvious & (in my opinion!) cute. I'd bought the Ruched Maternity Skirt pattern by the fabulous Megan Nielsen a few months ago & I'm so glad I did. It really makes getting dressed in the morning pretty easy, in a stage where finding things to fit is a bit hard! The beauty of this pattern is that this skirt covers the bump. Which means I can wear non-maternity tops (that wouldn't otherwise fit) very easily by tying a simple knot in them. 


A few notes:


  • I bought the PDF pattern and it goes together SO easily- only two pattern pieces (there's a third only if you add the optional frill)
  • I cut a size medium, and with this fabric is a great fit. Like Megan mentions in the instructions, you need a pretty stretchy knit fabric for this make (minimum 40% stretch & she explains how to figure out what % your fabric is). If your knit is a bit stable, I'd definitely go up a size. 
  • The fabric is a lovely Cotton Viscose Lycra from The Fabric Store. Well, that's what I think it is. I bought a whole heap of knit fabrics in their recent sale & trying to remember exactly what everything is is a bit of a nightmare. I need to take photos of the fabric tags when I go shopping. What do you do to remember??
  • Construction was super easy & super quick, thanks to the great instructions. I serged the side seams, then just used a zigzag stitch for the waistband & hems & ruching elastic. 
  • The heavy-ish fabric means I might find this a bit hot as it heats up here in Queensland. I'll just chop to to a below-waist skirt, which will also be great once bebe is here.



I can't wait to try a dress-hack with this pattern. I think it will be my go-to uniform as the days are getting hotter.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

denim jedediah shorts [for him]

I've sewn for me, for the kid, for the dog, for the house. But so far, I haven't sewn for him (except for fixing those hems, split seams & buttons). It was Fathers Day on the weekend so it was time to tackle Sewing for [big] boys. And of course for amazing mens patterns, there are only two words: Thread Theory. 



Seriously, Morgan & Matt are on the money. I love everything they've released so far. Their designs are classic and on-trend at the same time. I whipped up the Arrowsmith undershirt a few weeks ago (unblogged) in Merino Rib for a cold-climate holiday, and found their patterns to be great. Easy to print, use & sew. I knew from all the reviews out there that the Jedediah pants would be no exception. Prior to adding the waistband I asked J to try these on for fit. His comments from the first were "these are so comfy". He wore them all day yesterday with the same comment at the end of the day.



  • I started these while J was away, so I wasn't able to get his measurements. I just cut the size he would usually wear: The size 36 fit perfectly.
  • Fabric is more of the stretch denim from my Jamie Jeans & Anima pants. I used it as a wearable muslin. It's pretty rubbish fabric, but it's easy to sew with (not too thick, a tiny bit of stretch).
  • I made the shorts version, and initially was planning the cuffed version, but didn't like the lighter "wrong" side of the denim breaking up the darker "right side" colour. 
  • I serged all the seams, using binding as an extra for the bottom 15cm of the outer leg seams (as I originally was going to use the cuff), and also for the inside of the waistband.
  • These were a JOY to sew. Seriously, every step. just. worked. I used the instructions mainly, checking the sewalong posts just to make sure I was doing the right thing. 
  • BUT THE FLY. Oh I know it's crazy to get so excited about putting a fly front in. I've sewn a few pair of Maritime Shorts and every time I make a fly front I am as confused after as I am before, I just sort of fluff my way through. I will be using the amazing video from the sew along for all future Fly-insertions (guys & gals). It looks so easy. And it is!
  • I also LOVE the waistband instructions, binding the inner waistband edge, not turning it under. It makes for less bulk, not to mention a 100 times easier to topstitch from the right side and catch the underside. Another feature I'll be using in my next pair of (my) shorts.
  • I used a light grey thread to do a bit of extra topstitching detail - on the belt loops, around the fly, waistband, pockets & hems. I love the bartacks - my first time I've actually legitimately tried to do them. I think they just add to the professional finish. The whole make gives a totally professional finish.
  • What else can I say - these could be my best make EVER. Seriously, I'm so happy with them. And so was J. 





Will be giving the Strathcona Henley a try next! (Aussies - I bought the 3 Parkland patterns - Shorts/Henley/Cardigan) for a sale price at Stitch 56 - worth a look!)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

sewing for [little] boys

There's a pretty steady stream of tshirts & shorts that get made for my little man (3 yrs). They don't take much fabric, often I recycle old tshirts from myself & the Mister, and they take pretty little time. I don't usually blog them because they're too busy being worn! But here's a few I've made recently...

instead of continually self-drafting (can you call it that when you just copy a RTW garment??) I bought 2 of See Kate Sew's boys patterns - the Recess Raglan Tee & the AZTEC hooded vest. I debated on spending the $$ for two simple patterns, but the styling and longevity of the patterns (both go to kids size 8) means I'll get lots of use from these two. And they sew up great!!


Above: I've got the long-sleeve raglan in size 3T twice, with cuffs. Fully sewed on the serger except for the zigzag hem (seriously can't be bothered rethreading the double needle!). I scooped the hem on the blue/white one for a bit more style.

The larger short-sleeve top is a size 6T I made for gift. I used the sleeve tabs and added a pocket. Both the sleeve tabs & pocket use a woven, and I cut the pocket (just winged the shape) on the bias so it can stretch a bit with the shirt.

To be honest, I don't follow the instructions much that come with this pattern. I would much prefer to set the sleeves in flat before sewing the side seams, as well as the neck band. In fact for a beginner pattern I think that would be a much easier method to use. But there are lots of pictures in the instructions for you to follow if you need to.





The vest is the AZTEC hooded vest. Obviously I omitted the hood, and just drafted a neck band. I omitted the open welt pockets too. I didn't think either of those would be used much by my little boy. This pattern comes with a super cute topstitching pattern which totally won me over on this pattern. Although you can't see it very well (just normal thread getting lost in the beautiful french terry from The Fabric Store) it is there if you look.


I fully lined it (as the pattern has you) and instead of having to top stitch the arm holes which is where you turn it right-side-out I just hand stitched a small gap in the hem, allowing me to make the arm holes nice and clean. If i used a reversible zip this would be a fully reversible vest! It looks super cute on, although was a little bit too big (which i did on purpose). I just sewed up the side seams with a long stitch to take out as he grows a bit.


Both of these patterns are definitely in the TNT section of my pattern collection & I totally recommend them!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Darcy Boxer Shorts

I've read a few sewing posts lately about "fast sewing", and the shortcuts people take. While I do think it's great to streamline your sewing to suit yourself, I'm totally guilty of not reading/following instructions & not taking the time to fit properly. Even if I do make fitting changes I'm not very consistent in marking those changes on my pattern for next time. Add to that my growing baby bump and not wanting to make something that will only last a short while wearing-wise. 

All this is to say: I've had a few sewing fails lately that have just left me frustrated (and mostly at myself for cutting corners). So I needed a project to make me slow down... Something easy that I knew the end result would be totally "satisfaction guaranteed".

I downloaded the (free!) Darcy Boxer Shorts pattern from Measure Twice/Cut Once a few weeks ago and then saw Jo's make over at Jo-Sews. This was the perfect pattern just to make me focus on my sewing & finishes. 


A few notes
  • It's a great little pattern, giving varying instructions for female & male versions. I think the fly front is a cute addition even on the gals shorts.
  • I used a (stash piece) Japenese cotton from Spotlight. A cute print, and perfect weight/texture for sleep shorts.
  • I sewed the Large size and they give a roomy but comfortable fit (which is what you want in a sleep pant, right?)
  • While I made the shorts up almost to the letter, I did topstitch the fly closed & omitted the button holes as I wouldn't use that feature. 
  • I also made a casing for my elastic (just folded down the waistband) because I envisage altering the elastic length as this belly grows/shrinks). I also didn't have any nice soft elastic in my stash that would look/feel good enough in the exposed band suggested. I love this feature & totally want to make up a pair for The Mister. 
  • Next time for the next ladies version (there will definitely be a next time!) I'll cut two of the Left Front piece, (omit the Fly Facing piece) and just make a faux fly. I prefer not having the extra bulk that the (interfaced) fly piece gives when I'm not using that feature. But! I appreciated following the instructions and trying something different for boxers.


fly front

cute side hem detail

So, just a few hours of  sewing gave me a cute pair of sleep shorts & a healthy reminder that it's not a bad thing to be a bit more disciplined in my sewing :)

I'm joining in with the Shorts on the Line competition too :)



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

denim & black ponte anima pants


pattern: anima pants, papercut patterns
fabric: stretch denim & black double ponte (cuffs, waistband & pocket)

here's my entry into the (amazing) #animapantcomp run by Papercut Patterns and The Fabric Store. Seriously, there are some amazing prizes and this was just the incentive I needed to get these made up quick-smart. The fabric recommendations suggest any type of fabric with a bit of stretch & I was happy to use up the rest of this denim left from my named jamie jeans make. I liked the idea of the contrast black cuffs, waistband & pocket & the double ponte is super comfy in these places.


I cut a size up that what i measured (large??) because the denim isn't super stretchy, but in the end I should have stayed as is because i took a bit in on the side seams. They're a quick make & what could possibly be better than track pant jeans?? A bit more stylish, its easy to get down to kid-level to play and super easy to dress up or down.

My styling? Here's me on a (Qld) blistery winters day, a puff vest & a scarlet red scarf. And a bit of bling in the ears. Easy but pretty pulled together. Also hiding in there is my (little) bump but that's the beauty of elasticated pants! These will be a maternity staple but also a non-maternity one too. LOVE!





Friday, July 4, 2014

country road/grainline archer & some leggings


pattern: combination of rub-off of my favourite RTW Country Road blouse & Grainline Archer
fabric: cotton navy/white gingham, spotlight

this is the make that i bought the Grainline Archer pattern for many months ago (? I think i picked it up in last years thanksgiving sale!). I think it also started #thegreatsewingbinge - it was the creative challenge that really got me & my sewing machine reacquainted in a big way. And I've finally made it! My favourite RTW shirt is a few seasons old from Country Road (Australian). It's the perfect length for leggings or jeans, with rolled up sleeves & a small stand-up collar. I knew the Archer pattern would get me half-way there. There were just a few mods to make.

the original



 my version

Here are some notes

  • I used the pins/paper/cardboard rub-off method that seems to be a popular technique. 
  • The modifications basically involve - a yoke which continues to the front of the shirt, using both collar pieces but sewing the outer collar down into the seam creating a cute little feature, but basically looking like a mandarin/collar stand only, added length to the back with curved side seams and a little extra triangle of fabric where the front/back side seams meet. Also, there are subtle gathers at the CB where the yoke and back piece meet, and some gathers where the front of the yoke/front piece meet.
  • To check my rub off, I compared it to the archer pattern (which I have made several times although never with sleeves). I also used the Archer method of construction completely, including all those fabulous sew along videos (yoke burrito, I'm looking at you).
  • This was my first sleeve placket and it really ain't pretty. But i knew I would be rolling these up so didn't worry too much.
  • I added a little bit to the side seams to account for the (almost half-way) baby bump. I will take the side seams in post baby & still have a great fitting top! (good for feeding).
  • I wish the check of the gingham was a bit bigger like the original. But you can't have everything!
Now for some more pics...

Here I'm wearing this top with a pair of self-drafted leggings. I was too frugal to pay for a pattern so used the self-drafting tutorial from Etsy, then compared them to a RTW pair to check. I made the front rise lower to account for the baby bump & I'm really happy with the fit. 






 strange little collar feature. I like it!

 extra little "patch"? where front/back hem meets at side.




A little story: when I went to my local sewing store to buy the buttons I took my whole shirt with me so I could make sure the overall effect of the buttons wasn't too noticeable. The lady behind the counter then proceeded to critique all the little things she didn't like about my construction & then started bad-mouthing .pdf patterns! I know she was an older generation than me but I really credit indie-designers with encouraging a NEW generation of sewers to get their machines out (and go to fabric stores to buy the fabric) and it really was just such a frustrating outing having something I love (indie patterns, sewing and my actual sewing construction!) totally dismissed. Just wanted to put this out there that a little bit of encouragement can go a long way! And also: Long Live Indie Patterns :)


Friday, June 6, 2014

Maternity Jamie Jeans


Jeans in June! And they're the Jamie Jeans by Named Patterns. That's a lot of J's.

Where to start? I think it was a previous season of Project Sewn and I kept seeing these jeans pop up in the competition. Prior to this my thoughts were "Jeans - why would I EVER sew them?". Suddenly, it was " Why WOULDN'T I sew Jeans?". Just like the first Archer shirt I made (collar! buttons!) I was a bit intimidated. But then I sat down at my machine, took it step by step and I'm so happy with the result.

But the twist? Well, my waistline isn't quite as trim as it was. And won't be for the next 9 months (give or take).


yep, that's a baby bump! I'd cut these jeans out earlier this year, but the weather was too hot in sunny Qld I just couldn't bring myself to sew them, let alone wear them. So they sat in the UFO pile. And then the weather chilled down, and all my other pants are beginning to... ahem... feel a bit tight. So what could I lose? Maternity pants are pretty pricey in Australia, and I was happy to make something that fits right!

Here's a brightened pic to show the fit.


And some notes (looks like a lot, but all pretty straightforward)...


  • Fabric: pretty poor quality denim from Spotlight. It's nasty, really. A bit of elastene, but quite thin & doesn't feel nice. But! It's a nice colour & the lack of quality means I won't be so precious with them and just wear them out! (not too bad anyway considering they'll have a shorter wearing life).
  • Size made: size 42. My (pre preg) measurements were between a 40 & a 42 and because the pattern pieces aren't all nestled, I decided to print out the 42/44 size, and thought I'd take in the seams where needed. TIP: instead of tracing my pieces, I just reprinted the pages I'd need to make sure I could cut all the pieces out directly from the pattern. It's a few extra pages to print, but meant I didn't have to trace anything (win).
  • Construction: Because I knew i'd be decreasing the front rise considerably to make a pair of jeans that will sit below the bump, I omitted the front pockets lining and just made them faux. I use the back pockets more anyway.
  • I also made a faux fly front, with the low rise and the elasticated waist they are fine to pull up.
  • Otherwise, I constructed the jeans as per instructions really until instruction point 9: (zipper, then waistband).
  • For the waistband I added a stretch ribbing band with a loop of elastic sewn into it, using this tutorial as a guide. I lowered the front rise by trying them on and guessing what felt right. I probably skimmed a cm or two off the fly? Side seams and back remain as the pattern intended.
  • Topstitching: it's a bugger. Changing the thread over every time? a bugger. I used a navy colour so if there were any mistakes it wouldn't be so obvious. But I'm happy I did it. By the time I hit the leg seams, though, I just used normal thread. And that got ripped out a few times while I adjusted the fit. Learn from me: Don't do the leg topstitching until you're happy with the fit! I thought I could get away with just adjusting the side seams, but in the end needed to take a bit from each (front and inner leg too) to keep the proportions right and the front seam central.
  • Fit: These fit pretty good out of the box! I was so surprised (I don't think I've ever made a pair of trouser I'm happy with). It's tricky because the denim you use (and it's stretch factor) will change the fit considerably. For me, I took my usual wedge out of Centre Back. I skimmed the C-Curve down maybe 1/2 a cm, and maybe a cm or so out of the side and inner seams. In the end, I wore these around the house for a day and let the denim stretch (as it does) then tidied up the seams again. I hate too much of a sag in my jeans.
  • As it is, I've got the whiskers at the front and they're not skin-tight, but for me with a toddler to chase around after - they're just perfect!
So there you have it. Want to make maternity jeans? Do it! Any questions, just ask. I'd definitely recommend the Jamie Jeans (maternity or not) for their lovely style and easy instructions. 



PS: Photos taken with a nice, basic Plantain tee. Love that free pattern!




(apologies for bright white tummy! Wanted to show the waistband and where it sits).




The fairly messy insides (threads not chopped!). But showing the faux front pockets and fly.