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!

Friday, February 20, 2015

High-waisted apricot skirt

I've made a new skirt; a high-waisted, knee-length straight skirt, with a self-belt, long double belt loops and in-seam arrow welt pockets.  This is skirt 114 from the Solo in White collection from Burda style magazine 04/2014.  I've waxed lyrical about this collection previously just because of the dreamy colour palette, but a closer perusal of the design lines had me lost in admiration anew for the designs themselves.  This is now the third piece I've made from the collection; others here and here.  May not be the last either, because all pieces are quite lovely; classical but still with their own interesting little twist.  Honestly, it has to be said; Burda magazines are simply the hands down best value for money around.
The fabric is from the Fabric Store in Melbourne, bought during my last trip there with Mum and Cassie.  I think it's a linen/something mix, woven of various thickness fibres, stiff-ish and almost like thin upholstery fabric.  I didn't think it too thick for the slightly more complex sewing required of those arrow welt pockets, and think they turned out ok.  I got the skirt pieces cut out of my piece with the barest of scraps to spare.  Honestly, my wastage was less than a scrunched handful of fabric.  Win!!!  After cutting the pieces I overlocked all edges before doing a single other thing, because it frays like a madman.
Changes: I cut a size 40 at the hips grading into a size 38 at the waist.  In fitting to myself I ended up taking a little bit more off each edge at the waist.
I cut my pocket pieces to be substantially bigger than the pattern piece.  My one gripe with Burda patterns is that the pocket pieces are nearly always laughably small.  Or do I have giant flipper hands?  Ummm, probably the latter!
Another small gripe I have with this style of skirt is that the in-seam pockets are frequently situated too close to the CF for my liking, and so when you've got your hands in your pockets you end up feeling like you've got your hands sitting coyly and weirdly right over your crotch.  Hate that!  So I cut my skirt pieces so the front piece was 4cm wider at the CF, and folded 2cm down the centre of each side front piece.  This moved the seams 2cm further out to each side, which is just enough to make hands-in-pockets feel not so weird to me.
I fully lined the skirt with cream coloured polyacetate from Fabulous Fabrics, mostly because my fabric has some stiff and sharp fibres in it that I could imagine over time would become scratchy and super annoying against soft tummy skin.  Lining pieces are not provided with the pattern, but it's easy enough to make a lining; by splicing the front pieces together along the seam lines, cutting from the facing allowance down; and folding the width difference in along the top as a pleat.  The back dart allowance can also be folded as a pleat in the lining.
I cut the facing and pocket pieces from pale yellow polycotton, and pieced the pocket with a strip of the self-fabric at the opening edge, so that is what shows if the insides are glimpsed during wear.
The instructions for the in-seam arrow welt pockets, contained in those for skirt 113, are quite difficult to follow; I was thinking vaguely of doing a little pictorial here to illustrate how they are done.  Maybe.
Anyway, that's it!  It's still too hot for this skirt yet, but I'm happy to tuck it away in the wardrobe, awaiting some lovely cool weather.  I bought some perfectly matching fabric to make a top to go with it too, so should get on to that thing next.  Ever onwards!

Skirt; Burda style 04/2014-114, apricot/cream linen/cotton woven
Top; adapted from the loose drape top from drape drape, by Hisako Sato, cream jersey knit, details here
Sandals; Zomp, from Zomp boutique

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Red dress; 6 different ways

It's been a while since I did one of these!  I don't really have deliberate dress-up sessions to test out my clothes' versatility any more, but it's still interesting for me to look back and get a general overview of just how well my self-made wardrobe mixes and matches and whether everything works together.  This red cotton dress has been an absolute beaut!  it's been worn a tonne and proved itself to be quite a versatile year-rounder too.  I made it late 2013, using an adaption of dress pattern M from the Stylish Dress Book by Yoshiko Tsukiori.
I think its usefulness has lain in several factors: firstly the cheerful tomato-red colour is supposed to be one of "my" colours, as well as a shade equally at home in both hot and cold weather, and also the style of the dress is quite plain and simple, lending itself very well to mixing and matching with a bunch of other clothing pieces and stylistically not fighting with anything.
Some of the highlights in its life:
At left, its raison d'ĂȘtre was for me to have something for Wildcats games ... I wore it to just about every single one and fitted in fine with everyone else!  At right, during a long hot summer it was fabulous to wear just all on its own, sans any adornment.
At left; the colour looked good with just about every colour cardigan and scarf that I own; and at right, I'm wearing it here inside out! for Fashion Revolution Day.  I chose it for that day mostly because it had patch pockets and not inseam bag pockets, making this the least weird-looking inside-out option in my wardrobe.   Hehe and yes, I was brought up that the insides of a piece should look presentable enough for them to be worn inside out without embarrassment, but not that I purposefully make things with the actual intention of wearing them that way very often!
Speaking of that; the mission statement of Fashion Revolution is a comfortable fit for those of us who sew... after all; the question is "Who made my clothes?"  If you can give an answer, and by that I don't think they mean just "Brand x" then you are making a difference.  Albeit a small one, but still.  If your answer is "me", then that can only be a very good thing!  I am planning to do the inside out challenge again this year on 24th April, please join me!
At left; on cooler days I liked wearing my red dress with my paprika tights because they were such a good colour match, note to self; having matching tights and dresses/skirts is actually an excellent wardrobe idea, I must plan for this more!  At right, I really liked this winter outfit a lot too.  I know summer dresses can be kind of a weird choice for winter, but if the style is loose enough to enable wearing with lots of layers under and over for warmth then I think it can be done very successfully.  I was perfectly warm in this wintery ensemble.  Wintery for Perth, that is.
Sadly, at its last wearing I decided that this red dress was now just a bit past its best *sob*.  It's faded soooo much and has developed a very noticeable seat in the bottom-al region so out it's gone to the rag/"potential refashion" bag.  Leaving a giant red-dress-shaped hole in my wardrobe :( but I'm hoping my recent red gingham dress is going to step in to fill that.
We shall see, we shall see....

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

dress of plastic splattered linen

I've made a summery little dress for myself.
This is dress F from the Japanese pattern book Stylish Dress Book, by Yoshiko Tsukiori.   I've made this pattern up once before here, and that polka dot dress is still in my wardrobe and remains one of my perennial favourites.  I don't know if this new one is going to topple its big sister from my favourites list, but anyway, it'll still be a goodie and bound to get worn a lot in this long, loooong, very hot summer we're having!
I made a couple of teeny changes, adding inseam side pockets and also leaving off the sleeve ties.  Instead the sleeve opening has a button sewn on to close.  Still looks quite cute and meant I didn't have to try to sew and turn out those skinny-binny sleeve ties in this lovely but rather challenging fabric.
I know... it doesn't look particularly challenging in my pictures; it appears from a distance to be a quite ordinary duck-egg blue, handkerchief linen.  Only closer inspection reveals random dots of what appears to be clear plastic, splattered all over it.  This has the happy side effect that in the sunlight it appears to sparkle like diamonds, *squeals, oooh pretty!* and the less than happy side effect that it was quite difficult to actually sew the splatters and they don't fold well at all; also it, how shall I say this? presents an Ironing Challenge, to say the very least.
 See, obviously linen requires the hottest setting on your iron but the plastic splatters turn into soft and sticky, glue-y spots that stick to your iron and everything else when they're subjected to heat.  I've pondered it for four years; four! since I bought this lovely stuff from the Fabric Store in Melbourne! wondering what I could make with it that would do it justice, finally hit upon this.  Also, reflected all over again upon how super silly it is to leave lovely fabric languishing in le stash when I bought it for the fun of making it up and wearing it, what the heck.
Happily, I think it did work out!  :)
sleeves finished with buttons in lieu of the ties; and pockets
I finished the neckline with a bias-cut strip, but it was nearly impossible to attain neat looking top stitching over the splatters! so I ended up unpicking all attempts and just hand-stitched it down with invisible fell stitches along both fronts.  I kept the double row of machine stitching on the back neckline, where it miraculously turned out kinda neat-looking.
During construction I pressed either using my ironing cloth or on the wrong side of the fabric, and had to peel it off the cloth or the ironing board each time! and wondered if the splatter dot situation, while a cool concept and I visually I loved it! was in practice going to be a massive pain to iron.
Well I've washed and ironed it once now and fortunately I don't think the dots are going to be a problem.  I ironed the dress inside out and even though it does stick together it's no biggie to just peel the layers apart while turning it right side out again.  And the plastic does cool and dry hard again pretty quickly. Thank goodness.
The hem line has a tuck around the bottom.  This is actually a crafty fix of a cutting booboo.  You see, when I made my first dress F I had screenprinted my own fabric and I forgot to note that I had actually lengthened the pattern pieces to fit my print.  Actually I find it good practice to add by default like, at least 10cm in length to any dress from a Japanese pattern book.  Anyway, this time I carefreely cut out the pattern as is... result; scandalously short dress.  Darnit.
Fortunately I had enough fabric to cut extra lengthening bits and sewed them on to the bottom, hiding the joining seam up inside this tuck.  You can't see the join on the inside because I turned up the hem long enough to enclose everything.  The hem is hand-stitched using invisible fell-stitching, and I caught the upper fold of the tuck in the same stitching to secure all the layers together.
Problem solved!
In fact, I have to say that this is a very simple dress which belies its unexpected difficulty-factors! but I am so pleased that it all came together quite happily and satisfactorily in the end.  :)

Dress; dress F from the Stylish Dress book, by Yoshiko Tsukiori, plastic splattered linen
Hat; Vogue 8844, ivory corduroy, details and my review of this pattern here

Monday, February 9, 2015

Carolyn pyjamas

I was supremely flattered when Heather of Closet Case patterns contacted me to ask if it was ok to name her latest pattern after me… wow, seriously?!
*deeply flattered moment*
So the Carolyn pattern is for pyjamas, hehe.  Yep, I inspired pyjamas!  Honestly I'm not sure why I find that borderline hilarious, but there it is!
I have to say though; it’s amazing that Heather totally has her finger on the pulse of what everyone is currently needing to wear and sew.  
Very astute.  I mean, I love Vogue patterns for their smart little fitted designer dresses, and have often thought that the working woman can do no wrong by sewing up nothing but little Vogue dresses for her office/working wardrobe… so smart and stylish and absolutely perfect for a businesswoman's life.  but here’s the thing, the number of people working from home has increased significantly over the last few years and comfortable loungewear is definitely a thing that work-from-home peeps are stocking up on for their working life, not just for their after hours life.  A few years ago, who’d have thought it? But now totally this is a real trend.  I mean, I work from home myself. And although I need and want to dress up smartly for many things in my life, my real wardrobe workhorses lean towards the easy-to-wear and casual.
Enter stage right; stylish and smart loungewear.
The things one would actually wear to bed are generally loose-fitting to enable minimum chance of ripping or restraint while one is unconsciously flailing about, but Heather’s new Carolyn (pinch me!) pyjamas have a slightly sleek and tailored air to them; a body skimming rather than blouse-y line, that in the right fabrics one could happily wear outside the house if one so wished.  Without looking like one is wearing pyjamas!
With that in mind, I chose to make my test pair in luxe-ish, not-bedwear but daywear like fabrics; namely silk hessian for the body of the top, poly organza for the sleeves and a silk/cotton for the collar and cuffs.  The little shorts are in a soft, lightweight polycotton.  These were all from the remnant table at Fabulous Fabrics.
I chose to make view C with long sleeves on the top and leaving off any piping.  I love piping as much as the next person... however I felt piping in this shirt/shorts style IS going totally “pyjama” and I'm serious about wanting to wear my outfit out and about.  In the streets even!
The shirt is a classic, sleek, unfitted style, with notched collar and a gently curved hemline.  I felled the seams in the body of the top and French seamed those sheer sleeve seams.  The armscye seams were overlocked before stitching down to the shirt body to finish; faux felling, if you like!
The shorts are super quick and easy things to whip up, with satisfying huge pockets.  The pockets are the same fold-back design that Heather used in her Ginger jeans, which was the very first time I had come across pockets like this in my 40+ yrs of sewing .  Yes, really!  I’m starting to think of them as her signature pockets.
I made my shorts with the cuff as per the pattern, but sans piping and with the cuff invisibly stitched in place from inside the fold, so it appears to be a folded-up cuff.  I like this cuffed look on the bottom of shorty shorts like these  :)

So... do I love the Carolyn pattern, well heck yes!  The shirt especially is an easy classic shape and tres chic, in my opinion.  I will definitely be making both pieces again, maybe even as actual pyjamas!
As for my fabric choices for my test sample here... well, I was using all remnants and my favourite part is the sheer and floaty, leaf organza sleeves, and I also love the strength of the black accent collar and cuff details.  However while the roughly textured, stone silk hessian seemed like a good idea at the time, now I'm not so sure if it's letting down the rest of the ensemble.  Hmmmmm.  I'm gonna wear it for a while and sleep on it - by that I mean figuratively not literally, of course!   but don't be surprised if a dye job or small subsitutory type of refashion happens on this bit in the near future!

Set; the Carolyn (eek!) pyjamas by Closet Case patterns, shirt in silk hessian, poly organza, silk cotton; shorts in polycotton

Monday, January 26, 2015

red gingham

... new dress!
I feel like I've been wearing the same little summer dresses over and over and over.  Not that there's anything wrong with that! because I like them all   :)  but a few of my standbys are getting on their last legs and the wardrobe needed new blood.  And there's still a lot of summer to go.
I've been eyeing off dress E from the Stylish Dress book by Yoshiko Tsukiori ever since I got the book, in fact it was my Sew Bossy dress of choice for Reana Louise!  I loved hers and alway wanted to make one for myself too... one day.  The book is chokka with patterns for cute and practical little summer dresses that are absolutely perfect for our hot Australian summers, and this pattern is yet another goodie although I ended up making quite a few little changes.  Some due to my fabric;  a red/cream cotton gingham with a very slightly crinkly, seersucker-y texture, from Spotlight.
The front of dress F has five box pleats in the bodice and I was determined for the gingham pattern to match perfectly on the front.
Please excuse and/or feel free to skip the following; where I boast obnoxiously about my perfect pattern matching.  Yes, there are five box pleats up there *insert smug self back-patting*
There's only one way to pattern match to that degree, and that's to pin the flippin' heck out of it.  I pinned at each and every check intersection, basted each pleat and inspected for flaws obsessively before the final sew.  I'm pretty pleased, even to my eyes I can't see the joins at all.  And I'm pretty fussy  :P
Matching the pleats into the gingham weave like that necessitated cutting the front piece to a different width from the pattern piece.
It's not hard to work out how to do this, the only criteria is that the front fits onto the front facing piece once pleated.  A little quality time with the tape measure and some mental calculations to exercise the ol' brain cells a bit.  Each box pleat is 6 checks wide, with 4 checks in between each one and it turned out that the overall width of my front piece is slightly narrower than the pattern piece.
Other changes:  gathering looked terrible in this bouncily textured fabric, so I cut the back skirt straight, eliminating gathering into the bodice.  The sides were slimmed down considerably, tapering out to 10cm off each side at the hem, I added in-seam side pockets instead of patch pockets.  I did put the little cap sleeves in to start with but they just felt a bit too "busy" in gingham, so I unpicked them off and finished the armholes with a bias-cut strip inside instead.  The pattern is quite short so I lengthened my dress by 10cm, with a little tuck at the original hemline, just for fun  :)
So yeah, I have nothing much more to say!
I've made a cool and breezy, simple and uncomplicated little summer dress.  I love it already  :)
this one made me laugh... hmm; terrific maternity dress! 

Oh, and Gabrielle and I are twinsies today!  I had nearly finished this dress and was amazed when Gabrielle posted a picture of her red gingham dress on instagram!  great minds thinking alike, of course  :)  check out Gabrielle's gorgeous gingham dress here

Dress; dress E from the Stylish Dress book by Yoshiki Tsukiori, red cotton gingham
Thongs; Havaianas