Tuesday, 22 July 2014


Two years ago I developed a bunch of Trench coat sewalong posts for McCalls 5525 
I still wear my trench and it's also a PR favouriteSo now I'm working on a couple of coats/jackets for a change. Not quick to make but rewarding to have as warm layers in the winter. Our winter lasts for all of '5 minutes' so I have to make these fast.

Jackie is one of them - and it's on sale now. 
Jackie has classic lines and is semi-fitted. It's a cool throw-over layer and has some detailing that can be achieved if you want to add to your sewing skills. Just think of this as a 'bit more straight stitching'.

The other jacket I'm making is Vogue 8732 by the talented Claire Shaeffer as my next Minerva make. 
Claire's jacket is unlined and the pocket construction has a lot of detailing. But see the forgiving back pleat and front pleats. 

  • tested the jacket pleats and taken out some of the centre back fullness 
  • adjusted the shoulder line and done the roll-shoulder adjustments to the yoke pieces. 
  • left the jacket length as is to beat the cold. 
  • decided to not add the top pockets because I don't need pockets on my chest
  • checked the sleeves and lowered the sleeve base curve by 1.5cm. You can see the pulling of the sleeve base on the picture above at the back. But it's a very simple curve change, so I'll show you that in the construction post.
  • kept the pockets on my hips. 
Here's a WIP peek at the jacket. Fabric available at Minerva Crafts UK.
I'm also binded the seam finishes on the front facing and hem. Yes. I've been using a lot of bias binding at Chez Velosewer. It's been a bias binding making hive all year really.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Alameda skirt

The Alameda skirt is very pretty and this skirt and top fabric is courtesy of Pitt Trading. The wrap top is New Look as I know this top works for me. 
It's winter here, hence the boots.
I'll make the Alameda crop top once our weather warms up with a peplum finish to wear on 'date nights'. I love the versatility of Pauline's pattern. Remember the dress?

I chose these strong colours because they're quiet warm and striking. 

One thing that I love about this Alameda is adding piping. So I got stuck into making matching piping and below is my 'join the bias' sewing picture.
How could your motivation wane when you're using such a great rich-colour fabric?  

Below is the pic of the zipper foot used to sew in the piping cord into the bias strip before sewing the piping on the edge of the skirt seam allowance. 

Pining the finished piping onto the skirt seam allowance was a bit nerve wracking but very doable. The plan to have a great finish on this skirt (and the dress earlier) worked well.
Below is how the seam looks once the piping is sewn onto the skirt seams.

You'll also notice I've ironed on strips of interfacing to prepare the centre back seam for an exposed zipper. Only the metal teeth were exposed this time and not the full zipper tape.

Here's what the external preparation was like. 
I did pin the zipper to the outside to see what version I wanted to use.

This is what I decided upon. 
The inside seams were trimmed back and pinked.

The original plan was to apply an exposed zipper on the dress. I used the skirt to test constructing the exposed zipper after making the chiffon dress.
This blue fabric is light weight but very stable for applying this zipper finish so if you want to try applying an exposed zipper to Alameda, be brave and make up the skirt first. 
Twirling for joy
If you've already bought Alameda, the skirt is fast to sew up.

Thanks for Pauline for this versatile pattern and Pitt Trading for these fabrics and notions. They're both spot on.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

PaulineAlice Alameda dress

Setting the chiffon with gelatin helped me achieve this gorgeous new Alameda dress from PaulineAlice, fabric courtesy of Pitt Trading. Pauline has designed this perfect summer dress.

I'm always excited and wary when I test a new pattern for a new pattern designer. Excited to make up their style. Wary to keep the design as intended and still look amazing (you know what I mean). Pauline's brief to me was to make up the pattern as I would wear it. So I decided to make up the dress and then skirt. I'll post up the skirt review next.
Have a look at the pattern testers so far #amazing dress.

When I went to see Sylvia at Pitt Trading, she agreed that I should make up the dress and skirt. Sylvia has a wealth of knowledge and she's very patient when you're putting together fabrics and notions for your specific project. 

Sylvia is also very grounded too so you will leave knowing the fabric and notion choices you've made will work and look good. The rest of the work is all your doing:)

Back at the sewing room:
I made my usual adjustments - roll shoulders; sway back; measured the width against mine (reality 'gulp' time).

The skirt length - I decided to 'just see' how the ruffle would work for me and used gingham on the test dress.

Granted I don't wear gingham as a first choice but I used it to practice the piping and practice matching lines across each pattern piece. Practice makes perfect when you're not sleepy or you're not hungry and not distracted with housework.

Gelatin and chiffon:
This chiffon from Pitt Trading is soft and flowy and that's why I chose it for this dress. I wanted the skirt ruffle to flow and not stick out. But soft fabrics are harder to control that quilting cotton, so I used Lena's gelatin method. Her gelatin method is also found on Threads

There was a bit of colour in the water once I treated the fabric but by the time the fabric dried it was firm - yay - and the print was ok - yay hey! I've since washed this fabric twice and the print is still as vibrant as I bought it off the roll.

Is the piping worth doing?

Here's how the piping worked out on the test dress.
Here's how it worked out on the real dress.

I'll let you come to your own conclusion. I love both dress versions and not just because of the work I put into it. 

The bodice is a flattering style and the princess lines are easy to adjust for a fuller figure or when you're 'shrinking'. Just ask Karen Ball of Did you make that? about the advantages of manipulating princess lines.

Test dress results:
There was gaping front and back at the panel/armhole area. So I removed 5cm from the front panel and 3cm from the back panel and redrew the panel curves for proper coverage.
The belt or my waist seemed too thick so I slimmed back the belt width by 1.5cm. That's not much in the grand scheme of things but I'm short so I have to get the proportions right on all my makes. That's just a given for my shape and size.
Ruffle or no ruffle:
The ruffle gives this dress and skirt a softer look. Gosh it's lovely in soft fabric.
I wore my Alameda dress to a Christening before summer 'left the building".
I love how this chiffon from Pitt Trading keeps this dress looking feminine. 

By the way, I've added lining behind the ruffle because chiffon is sheer. I've used the ruffle pattern and shortened it by 3cm and simple overlocked the lining.

Thank you Pauline for asking me to test this pattern.

A big thank you to Pitt Trading (Julia and Sylvia) for enabling me to test Pauline's pattern in the fabrics that it was designed for.

If you're in Sydney, make sure you go by Pitt Trading's stand and say hi to Julia and Sylvia at the Craft fair on this week. It finishes on Sunday.

About PaulineAlice patterns
Pauline's patterns are available in 3 languages: English, Spanish and French.
Pauline has created an ongoing collection of feminine sewing patterns… with a touch of retro.

Alameda is a street in Valencia, Spain where Pauline lives (). All her patterns names are related to her beautiful city. She's French and she's been living in Spain for more than 4 years now and the Spanish names really inspire her.

Camí comes from Camí Real, the name of a neighborhood and means a path.

Malva-rosa is the name of the beach (Malvarrosa in spanish, Malva-rosa in valencian). I think that's a beach I'll add to my travel plans in the future.

Her Ninot jacket would be perfect for our current winter conditions.
#Simply stunning.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Minerva - all things that sparkle

We're back home and I can reveal my Minerva Gold Logies dress with Mr V as my accessory.
I'm so pleased were made the trip to Darwen, UK ... the home of Minerva Crafts and met these gorgeous and creative people. The Minerva meet up was great fun and truly memorable. A gala event of sewing proportions.
We're all wearing our gorgeous outfits for our Minerva night of nights.
In Australia we have the Logies - a gold statuette for the annual glittering night for local stars. The red carpet is the main focus for the fabulous and infamous.
I'm so glad I did travel to the UK and made my 'all things that sparkle' dress courtesy of Minerva Crafts using Butterick 6582.

The dress fit was perfect as you can see from the pics above and below.
This was an easy fabric to work with on just a plain, old sewing machine. This dress uses the corded sequined lace, lining and a normal zipper. Simple.

This fabric was perfect for such a special event and using this gold sequin, corded fabric for the logical option. 
You read about my little mishap but learnt how I fixed it. This fabric is gorgeous and easy to wear/dance in. There was no pre-washing involved. This is dry-clean only fabric.
How's this for a neckline view. 
And it worked well on the dance floor too.
Here we are having pre-dinner drinks with the lovely Louise, Jo and Lucie.

And here's Stevie, Marie, Amy and Kathryn.
I'm really pleased to have been part of Minerva's big meet up and got to make this fabulous party dress.
I had to put up another group pic! Check out the Minerva pics for yourself here.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Sew active

Susan from Measure twice cut once has worked in the garment industry all her life. A simple conversation about cycling over dinner became an eye opening discussion about many aspects to sewing activewear from this one incredible lady. Susan is a sewing gem in my books. 

Here's what she's happy to share with us about making your own activewear. 

Grab a cuppa and read on...

Active wear - Where to start.

I work out/cycle/do triathlons but I want to make my own gear but sewing lycra is new to me.


What basic designs shapes should I choose?

Go with what you already use. If you wear a singlet and tights to run in then go with that. Reason being is you know how those clothes work for you. How long you like your tops so they don’t ride up, how loose or tight you like it across your chest.
This is very helpful if you are learning to work with some of the stretch and lycra fabrics for the first time. If you can try them on and go “oh wow this fits like the top I wear or those tights I do yoga in” then you have a great point of reference to start from.

If you are starting to work out and sew work out wear at the same time, then perhaps pop down to your local sports store and try some RTW pieces on. I may think running shorts are the cutest things ever but they look terrible on me and I feel more confident and secure wearing ¾ tights. That's being realistic with your needs.

Go with what works for you or what ever will make you kit up and do your workouts. Sometimes cute workout wear is all the incentive we need to get moving! #smallsteps

Where do I find basic patterns to start with?

Sportswear specific patterns can be found at Fehr trade, Papercut patterns, Jalie and even in the big 4 ie Kwik Sew or McCalls.
Fehr Trade XYT top for everyday wear
Think about what you want? High performance for running, swimming or cycling or some tights and a top for walking or getting back into exercise? Choose what is going to suit you and what is going to motivate you to get going.
Fehr Trade XYT top
Also think about a regular pattern in an active wear fabric. Consider the possibilities in the patterns you already use just by changing the fabric. A simple t-shirt goes from a t-shirt to workout wear if you use a moisture wicking fabric like polyester knit. Try a merino jersey or bamboo knit for a natural fabric with many similar properties as a starting point.


Is all lycra the same?

Not all lycra is the same. If you are looking specifically for active wear fabrics look for fabrics that have moisture management or moisture wicking properties. These fabrics have been created to pull the moisture away from you. This keeps you cooler for longer meaning you can work harder for longer.
Kwik Sew 3567 top and McCalls 6404 leggings
Other common treatments in sports fabrics are

Sun protection – has a high SPF factor so you keep protected from the sun. Some super lightweight almost mesh like fabrics can have this treatment so sun protection need not equal thick dense fabric all the time. Be careful as the Sun Protection ratings can differ between countries and standards and it’s not the same as the sunscreen ratings we already know. If you aren’t sure then look it up, far easier than ending up sunburnt after a day out cycling.

Jalie 2796 skort for beach wear
Kwik Sew 2881 rashie
Anti Microbial, Anti bacterial – treated to help keep bacteria and microbes away, Not only high in general ick factor but these little nasties can be the reason you end up with stinky workout wear.

Silver or other metals. Silver has a natural antibacterial property and it can be knitted and woven into fabrics. Most often seen in things like socks it is available in some fabrics.
Fehr trade PB Jam leggings and XYT top
And possibly the biggest one to look out for is that not all-active wear has lycra. Plenty of cycling jerseys, run tops etc have no lycra content at all. They can range from mesh’s, soft knits and even super stretchy knits but don’t actual contain lycra. Non-lycra ones can be less clingy which is a slightly more forgiving look and depending on which weights are available to you can be cooler or more breathable.

If I want long lasting active wear, what should I look for in workout fabric? –

Long lasting active wear is not only about the fabrics you choose but how you take care of them. Try and get out of anything you work out in as quickly as possible. Warm and damp is a breeding ground for nasties, which will make your garments, smell and in some cases increase the rate in which they break down.

Get out your gear as soon as you can. Don’t ball it up and leave it. If it can’t go in the wash straight away try popping it into a mesh bag. It helps it dry faster, and the airflow will help reduce smell and bacteria build up.

Wash and if at all possible hang in the sunshine.  Be careful about fabric softeners/certain cleaning agents. Some active wear has been pre treated and certain cleaners can strip all of those treatments out of your fabrics.

Look for fabrics that have good recovery, so when you stretch them they bounce back quickly and not misshapen. This is an indicator that it will continue to recover after you wash and wear.

What lycra doesn't show sweat?
Look for a polyester lycra or nylon lycra blend. Almost all cotton/lycras will show up sweat as the cotton holds onto the moisture, which creates sweat patches.
Look for fabrics that have been treated with moisture management or moisture wicking properties. These fabrics are engineered to pull the moisture away from your body.

What fabric helps keep me cool?

Certain fabrics are actually developed to help reflect heat and keep your temperature down, but for the most part keeping cool is about fabric positioning and layering.

Fabric position can be as simple as using 2 different weights of fabric. Higher heat areas will have a lighter weight fabric or even a mesh insert.

Layering seems counter intuitive when it comes to keeping cool but it works. Take a look at a professional cycling peloton and you will notice that many of the riders have a white singlet on, even on days when their jerseys are flapping open in the breeze.

This singlet is a base layer. Its tight fitting and highly moisture wicking. It pulls the moisture away from the skin allowing your body to stay cool and dry. When worn with a jersey it creates an air pocket between the base layer and the jersey, which helps the moisture, pull quickly to the outside of the jersey and dissipate. This double layer of moisture wicking ensures that the skin stays mostly dry. This feels cooler and more comfortable. Only on the very hottest of days do they go without (there are certain temps and humidity levels where the fabric technology struggles to work).

You may find a base layer works or even that a sports bra and then a top is cooler for you than a top with a built in bra.

Combine layering with fabric positioning for best results.

Are there special elastics I should buy for swimwear, cycling, running gear?

Certain garments are often made with particular elastics, but you can substitute so don’t despair if you can’t find them.

Rubber elastic is often used in swimwear and hems of some tops. Clear elastic is another one you will find in swimwear and some tops.

Cycling chamois from shop of goodies on ebay
The legs of cycling knicks or bibs and running tights sometimes have a silicon gripper on the inside. This allows the hems to stay in place and keep the fabric taught across the body and not wrinkle up. This is important in certain sports, as you don’t want the fabric creating rub points. These rub points can get incredibly painful after many hours and cause abrasions, sores and other problems. If you want silicon gripper but can’t find it take a look for the grip paint you use to paint small children’s socks with (for when they are learning to walk). This makes a decent substitute.
First attempt at sewing on silicon gripper elastic
Try looking at folded elastics for edges, wider soft elastics for waistbands and self-fabric binds and bands. Take cues from what you already know and like. Hate a waistband that cuts into your stomach? Then substitute elastic for a folded self-fabric in a yoga style band. It still keeps your pants up but can be more comfortable. Alternatively substitute a very wide elastic and remember to increase the waistband pattern piece for this larger size elastic.

Are there special zippers I should use?

The zippers aren’t special but there are a few things to consider

- Sportswear zips tend to be chunkier
- The zip pull is either larger, has a tab or special puller added
- Plenty of open-ended zips being used especially if it is an outer layer.
A right royal 6am mess ready for work out wearing Kwik Sew jacket, top and leggings.
All of these are pure function (and a little bit of aesthetics). You need to open your garment while you are on the move, so it needs to be a nice big zip that can open smoothly. You have to be able to grab the puller and just unzip, no fumbling, no looking down and consider that in cold weather or in certain activities you will be wearing gloves so dexterity may be impeded. You need to open the garment and get it off without having to pull it over your head as this would mean you need to stop working out to do this, an open ended zip solves this issue.

- Try exposing the teeth (especially if you can find a nice chunky plastic zip) for a different look.

- Try using zippers with contrast colours to draw in some colour to your clothes.
Activewear can be sewn on a sewing machine. 
What lycra is easy to sew on my standard sewing machine?

Pretty much anything can be made on your standard sewing machine. Use stretch needles and experiment with your stitching types and techniques. Find needles that suits your chosen fabric and achieves a neat, clean look.
Special lycra for activewear

Are there special trims I should look for and use or should I make my own?

Special trims would include things like reflective elements. Reflective trim is made from thousands of microscopic beads. These beads take a light source (like a headlight or street lamp) and reflect it back again. This creates the illusion of glowing and is one of the most effective ways of staying visible in dark and low light level conditions.
All sorts of reflective trims for cycling gear
Colour blocking, where you use more than one colour can be highly effective, look very sporty and use correctly can draw the eye to your strong features and cover up other areas.

Fluoro or Neon trim is very on trend and can really add a pop of excitement to your outfit. Look for piping, tapes or make your own using neon lycras.

If you want to see the most innovative activewear jacket for training at night, here's a link to Melissa's jacket.

Keep an eye out for Susan's classes at Sew Make Create.


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