Sunday, March 29, 2015

Carolyn shirt and shortie shorts, take one

Hello!  So what's new? hmmm not much.  
Well OK, of course I am wearing something that has not yet appeared here on the ol' bloggeroonie.
My shirt and my shorts are another pair of Carolyn pyjamas by Closet Case patterns, made a few months ago.  These are the first ones that I made actually, months ago! using an earlier version of the pattern, before Heather changed the shape of the collar for her final pattern release.
So technically they are not really new, nor are they "pyjamas" for me either since I have every intention of wearing each of the pieces as daywear, actually out and about and in public.  Why? well, I used such really nice fabric, a particularly lovely slubby soft cotton from Fabulous Fabrics and I feel like it's just too good for bed!  Also, maybe I'm biased, since well, you know, they have my name on them and all! but I do really like both the pieces in this pattern such a lot.  The shirt has such a crisply classic, yet easily swingy shape to it, with a very nice curve to the lower hemline.  I left off all piping, and I like to wear the shirt with their long cuffs casually and cooly rolled up.
I made the set really as nicely as I could, flat-felling all the seams in the shirt.   Well I've been flat felling all the seams in the shirts I make for my boys for ages so felt like maybe I too deserved a little of that same attention to detail  :) 
My own tip for flat-felling a shirts curved armscye seams is here, and another for just regular flat-felled seams is here
I think the shortie shorts are very cute too, and I actually have worn these out and about! in public! *gasp* several times during our holiday, with the elastic waistband hidden away underneath a longer overhanging top, so it doesn't show.  I am slightly allergic to visibly elasticated waistbands in daywear.  But yes, of course they are super comfy, that cannot be denied.  I think the shorts with a turned-up cuff, peeping out underneath a long top, make a really fun and playful look for summer.
Just exactly the same as I did for my previously blogged black Carolyn shorties, I like for shortie shorts to have the turned-up cuff look, so I constructed the cuff slightly differently to the pattern to have this feature.  I left off the piping, and sewed the cuffs on with a narrow seams allowance and then turned up and pressed a 1cm fold-up.  Then turned under the cuff and pressed under the other SA so the SA fold sits directly underneath that stitching line.  Then underneath the first fold, I sewed all the layers underneath together by stitching-in-the-ditch of the shorts/cuff seam; so that folded-up cuff is sewn securely and permanently in place and you can see no visible stitching on the outside, since it is all hidden inside the cuff.

Shirt and shorts; Closet Case patterns Carolyn pyjamas, in white cotton

Thursday, March 26, 2015

raspberry/navy Alabama Chanin tank top

I've finally finished my latest Alabama Chanin project...  
Below is how it appeared on this blog previously...? (shudder) well, that dress has undergone extensive renovation over the past five months and now at last, I am quite satisfied.
I received loads of fantastic suggestions, thank you so very much to everyone who gave me so much helpful and wonderfully thoughtful advice  :)  I am very grateful  :) *mwah*
The pattern is the fitted top from Alabama Studio Sewing + Style, by Natalie Chanin, and I had modified it slightly by giving it a higher rise at the neckline at CB, which will help keep the straps firmly on my shoulders and not slip off, like they occasionally do in my previous, first version of this pattern.  The print is Abbie's Flower design from the same book, enlarged by hand and printed as described here, and I employed the reverse appliqué method from the book, stitching running stitch around all motifs using crimson Gutermann upholstery thread, and then cutting the printed motifs away to reveal the base layer of fabric underneath.
I really liked Ann's suggestion to bring some navy into the equation.  I bought some royal blue cotton jersey from KnitWit.  This was but a starting point; the original blue was a nice colour, but flat and not quite as edgy as I would have liked against the warmth and liveliness of the raspberry.  Some dyeing fun was called for.  I made haste for the lair and dragged out ye olde dye-pot, mwahahahaha
A short stint in a half-strength bath of iDye in Brown later and it was darkened and deepened up very nicely; transformed it into a very satisfactory shade of mottled dirty-navy.
Hehe, I just re-read that description and had to laugh at how the exact opposite of attractive that colour sounds!  well, I do love me some ugly colours, hehe.
The seams are all hand stitched in running stitch, with the occasional backstitch to "stop" the seam, something I learnt to do in hand- stitching quilts; and the seams then felled using running stitch, as per the Alabama Chanin way.  
I cut the binding strips for the armholes and neckline from the same dyed navy jersey and hand stitched them down in herringbone stitch using navy blue Gutermann upholstery thread.
A new tip; in my previous Alabama Chanin embroidery forays, I pinned the fabric layers together for the embroidery stage, this time I thought of a better solution.  I pinned and basted around all raw edges, then simply ran rough basting lines of long stitches, about 4-5cm apart, right across the pieces using my sewing machine.  Quick and dirty, nicely stable, and the long stitches are very easy to pull out as the embroidery progressed.  And far better than having to worry if my pins were going to fall out, only to get discovered on the sofa and produced as hard evidence in the Case against Sewing Taking Over the House.  Please, take a moment to consider the danger to one's beloved husband whose bottom came to rest right beside that tiny little pearl-headed pin! not to mention one's innocent offspring and cute fluffy pets!  
Hehe, no need to add further fuel to that particular flame  :)
 My next Alabama Chanin project? already in the works!  Fortunately I made my original dress double layered and so I still have quite a good quantity of the raspberry fabric left after cutting this out; and I also dyed enough of the navy so that now a matching, though not identically patterned, skirt is awaiting in the wings to be made, as we speak.  Type?  Read?  One day, someone is going to come with a satisfactory verb for this kind of interaction  ;)
Anyway, I am super pleased with my new Alabama Chanin top, and the good thing about that satisfaction is the renewed enthusiasm it brings for me to get on with that skirt quick sticks, to have something else to wear it with.  Ever onwards!

Top; the fitted top from the Alabama Studio Sewing + Style book, hand-dyed, -printed, -embroidered and -stitched in two different colour fabrics
Jeans; the Closet Case patterns Ginger jeans, navy stretch cotton denim, details here

Monday, March 23, 2015

watercolour silk dress

I've made a new dress  :)
Every year, my friends give me a Fabulous Fabrics voucher for my birthday; aaaah! they know me so well...!  :)
and last year I spent it on this gorgeous, water-colour-y silk charmeuse.  And have made it into dress 35 from Patrones 7; this magazine was itself a gift to me from Merche Martinez from a few years ago.  This is the second time I have used this same dress pattern, my first version is here.
So, I have worn it a scant handful of times so far; for dinners during our recent holiday, and I'm wearing it today as well to show it off to my gorgeous gal-pals who gave the voucher to me... and I have to say I'm quite besotted with my dress already.  Honestly, bias cut silk, there's just nothing quite so lovely to wear.  It's a beautiful gift from you to your skin.  Seriously, my skin is thanking me every single second I spend in this dress.  It's pure and utter heaven.  *dreamy sigh*    
To go the whole nine yards silk-wise, I fully lined the dress with creamy-coloured silk habutai.  Pinky-purple lining seemed at first to be a better colour match; but upon checking how the fabrics looked when layered together I found any colour just very subtly dulled those large white-ish feathery-floral areas, whereas a lighter creamier-coloured backing really enhanced the colours of the charmeuse and gave them a beautiful inner glow that I preferred.   Something to bear in mind when choosing a lining for lightweight, patterned fabrics; hold lining underneath the fashion fabric to check how it affects the colours before making a final decision.  Sometimes an unexpected colour choice will look better.
The dress lines are quite simple and feminine, with a slight a-line curve, small cap sleeves and I lengthened the neck-tie to extend right around the length of and beyond the v-neckline, so it is both a tie and also a sort of "collar" that finishes the neckline.  The skirt is cut flatteringly on the bias and I gave careful thought to the colour placement over the body.  I wanted the darker, moodier colours to feature mostly and aimed for the splashes of those big abstract feathery flowers to appear over one shoulder and to bloom down the side and hem of the dress, front to back.  ie. not on my tummy or right boom on the derriere.  The dress closes with a burgundy invisible zip in the left bodice side seam, and I hand-rolled a narrow hem on the sleeves and lower hemline.  All seams in both dress and lining are French seamed.
I altered the bodice pattern piece substantially from my first version because ultimately I decided that that dress incorporated an excessive degree of blousiness for my particular shape, or lack thereof, ahem.  I pinned out about 3cm width from the lower edge and curved the lower edge up as marked in red, cutting out up to 5cm in height at CF, this removed a tonne of blousiness and so is only about a thousand times more flattering on me, rough estimate there.  In lieu of lightly gathering the bodice evenly along most of its width into the skirt, instead I folded the width into four little folds, evenly distributed just out from either side of CF, treating the lining as underlining and folding them together.  These folds can be seen more clearly from the inside of the dress.
I also added about 4cm in length to the skirt at the lower edge.  I'm slightly doubtful about this added length, I don't hate it but also am not bowled over with love for the length right now either.  I may just live with it for a while but that extra 4cm may or may not just get lopped off at some point.  I'll just have to see how I go; weighing up the pros, such as would it look more chic if it was a bit shorter? against the cons; the main one being that I would have to re-do that hand-rolled hem.  Hmmm...
Now, on another note: anyone who follows me on IG would know already about our recent, most utterly paradisiacal holiday ever!  yep, I took my pictures on the beach during our holiday in the Maldives.  And I thought I would show one example of my set-up for taking my own pictures when away, an activity at which I now consider myself an expert!  I'm a big fan of packing as light as possible and saving myself any packing and carrying around bulky camera equipment.  Just cannot be bothered with all that.  Yeah, lazy, I know :) 
When travelling, I just take my small travel camera and nothing else.  And I look out for and take full advantage of any flat surface that I may come across, although if nothing presents itself I can at a pinch just sit the camera on its own little soft case.  This is not completely ideal, but it's doable if no other handy flat surface is around.   Good flat surfaces include, but are not limited to: park benches, curbs, low walls, a level spot on a rise in a path.  Rocks sometimes too, though rocks can be tricky and it's imperative to check carefully that the camera is sitting perfectly stable and isn't going to topple over and smash.  
In the case of our last holiday, our cabin was on the beach and I used a flat-bottomed cup from our room.  My camera sat up, safe and clean, up off the sand as pictured.
Anyway, whatever flat surface is at hand; I just set the timer function on my camera, pop the camera up on said flat surface, push the button and then race out in front.  Voila.  Does the job, and requires no big bulky camera equipment.  Win!

Dress; Patrones 35-7 modified slightly, silk charmeuse
Location: Valessaru, the Maldives

Monday, March 9, 2015

purple skirt, with "tulip" pockets

I've made a new skirt.  This new skirt is un-noteworthy except that I gave it some rather unusual little side pockets.  They sit down at the hem, inserted in off-set side seams.  They're not very big pockets, just a nice size to hold my fitbit and maybe my phone at a stretch.  Really, I was playing; got the idea to put them in a skirt and went for it.
The pockets are based on those in this picture, which ?I think? is from a vintage design.  To accommodate them in this otherwise very plain little skirt I drafted for myself a 4-panelled skirt pattern using an old favourite Vogue 1247, a straight skirt with waistband, as a starting point.  I treated the pattern like a "block", and spliced, cut and spread and sliced and rotated to eliminate darts etc to make a 4-panelled pattern with a narrow front and back and two, even narrower, waist-to-hem side panels which host the pockets.  
Fabrics; outer and lining fabrics are both from Fabulous Fabrics, a greyish purple silk hessian for the outer shell from the remnants table and burgundy polyacetate for the lining fabric.  I only had 60cm of the silk hessian, barely big enough for anything at all!  Extreme laying-out skillz were employed, hehe.
lining was cut using spliced-together Vogue 1247 straight, with the waist darts simply pleated into the waistband.
The grey cotton jersey edging on those pocket panels is harvested from off of an old Tshirt of Tim's, and lack of fabric forced me to use it for the waistband facing too.
front view is kinda boring

So...  skirts.  I've been having some deep thoughts.  Well, about as deep as can be expected on the subject of skirts, which is approximately puddle-depth in the scheme of things ... but still.
Keeping tabs of my wardrobe over the past few years has not been totally fluff n' puff with no substance, believe it or not some actual useful conclusions have been reached.  *gasp!* 
Into Mind writes about finding your "uniform" and I find I tend to favour two quite distinct and different kinds of skirts; plain and straight "little" skirts like my new one here and then longer, three-quarter length ones that can be a bit more visually interesting, more pfouffy with layering and/or detailing. 
During winter, well I could happily and comfortably live in the former, plain, straight, little skirts, all winter long.  I like to wear jeans every now and then, but really, if I'm being honest, skirts are just far more "me".  
It's nice to have some skirt-and-top "outfits", that go together so well they don't need to go with anything else, ie. my Alabama Chanin ensemble; but obviously solid-coloured separates are the absolute best workhorses for mixing and matching the sometimes disparate elements of my wardrobe.  Colourwise, I have seasonal favourites and basics and neutrals, sure, and I also like to have some odd colours, "outliers" in my wardrobe to choose from too, to suit whatever changing mood I'm in.  And, I don't know if it's because I pluck them from my wardrobe more frequently, or because of their straight shape, or both; but all my "little" skirts always seem to bag out and die more quickly too.  
Sadness ensues.  Cue tiny violins.
Anyway, just some random thoughts.  Ergo, I'm stocking up on some little skirts in a few different colours.  So sensible!  It's early to judge it yet, but I think this sludgy purply-grey colour might be a totally excellent one in my winter wardrobe.  It's not obviously a neutral, nor a colour, but manages to be a bit of both, if that makes any sense at all.  We shall see, we shall see...  :)
 back view, also kinda boring

Skirt; my own design, derived from Vogue 1247 as a "block", deep purple silk hessian
Top; the loose drape top, modified, from drape drape by Hisako Sato, white cotton jersey, details here
Shoes; Zomp, from Zomp shoe boutique

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Cassie's terracotta dress

I made this belated birthday present for Cassie; we recently went on a girly shopping expedition together for her birthday present and spent hours browsing, looking at pretty things, chatting, having hot chocolate and enjoying ourselves! we had lots of fun but she couldn't decide on anything that she liked.  Finally I suggested, hesitantly, would she like to go to Fabulous Fabrics to get some fabric of her choice and I could make her a dress of her choosing? and she delighted me by immediately agreeing.  She's so sweet  :)  I say "hesitantly", because while I love to sew things for my family I absolutely do not want to force the products of my sewing on them.  And I often worry that my love of sewing is influencing them to ask for me to make something for them, just to make me happy; if you know what I mean.
Anyway, happily she says she loves the new dress, and plans to wear to work at her office with her black ballet flats as well as sometimes on the weekend with sandals.  The pinky-brick/terracotta viscose from Fabulous Fabrics is a fabric Cassie has loved for "ages" and she chose the dress style based upon one we had seen in Morrison, with some minor design alterations to make it what she wanted in her birthday dress.
The result is quite plain, with its main feature being a wide front tuck emanating from the neckline and disappearing into the body of the dress.  I started out with my standby, plain sheath dress pattern Burda 8511, and rotated out all darts, cut it with an 8cm tuck allowance in the front panel, i.e. an extra 16cm width at the neckline tapering off to nothing by the hemline.  I scooped out and widened the neckline, added inseam side pockets, rouleau belt loops and a long self-fabric sash.  
The side and pocket seams are French seamed, with a hand stitched, narrow hem.
I'm extremely happy with how chic Cassie looks in the new dress  :)

Dress; own design, using Burda 8511 as a starting point, terracotta viscose
Shoes; from Hobbs shoe boutique

Friday, February 27, 2015

Inseam arrow welt pockets

My example shows a skirt pocket with a 16cm length opening edge bordered by 1cm width welts, although obviously all measurements can easily be altered to give any width of welt or pocket desired.

Apply a strip of iron-on interfacing to the wrong side of the garment, where welt pockets are to be situated.
Fold bias cut welt strips wrong sides together and press, pin to the stitching line of the garment edge; with folded edges to the outside.  Mark the upper and lower points of the long edge stitching line.  It is essential that the upper and lower markings on each welt be as square as possible and give exactly the same length on each side; in this example, the stitching lines are 14cm long.
Stitch, starting from exactly the upper marking on each welt and finishing exactly at the lower marking.  It is most important that your stitching be an even width from the outer folded edge of the welt, rather than the cut edges.
Snip the seam allowances of the garment from the raw edge in to the first and last stitches of the previous stitching, taking care to not cut into the welt.
Turn the seam allowances of the welt inside the garment and press.
Mark on the folded edge of the welt the upper and lower tips of the arrowhead, in this example 1cm out from each stitching line for a 16cm finished pocket opening.
Turn out the garment over the welt again, with the snipped seam allowance splayed over the welt and raw edges squared.  Pin through from the previous marking to determine where the short seam will end, secure seam allowance to welt with another pin.
Stitch from the snip point diagonally out to the marked top point.
Turn welt back out, press; stitch the remainder of the garment seam from the upper/lower points of the welt out; press open.
Pocket pieces; in this case I pieced the wider pocket piece with a strip of the self-fabric at the opening edge; this is the under pocket piece that will sit under my hand in situ.  
From inside; open out the welt again and pin the relevant pocket pieces right sides together to the seam allowances of the welts.  Stitch pocket pieces to the welt SA from underneath the welts ie. with interfacing uppermost.  This is to ensure that your stitching goes directly and exactly over the previous welt stitching line.
Stitch the pocket pieces together and finish edges.
From the right side of the garment, stitch in the ditch through all layers along the two short diagonal edges of the arrowhead.
And, ta da! finished!