Thursday, 1 October 2015

When you're on a good thing...

...stick to it. In the sewing world, when a pattern works for you make it again because you know you'll love it. That's what I've done this month using Minerva Crafts remnant fabrics. This type of post was bound to happen.

So you know that the Minerva Blogger Network has a tonne of creative bods who sew and create. And... you know I've been a Minerva blogger for a couple of years now. So a couple of us chose the same Liberty print so we decided to do a challenge post. You'll read about it later this month.

Long story short, this blog post is about using the Minerva remnant fabrics I had in my stash to create Issey Miyake jeans (V1204) and a black knit top (Butterick 5497).

I know these jeans work. And the fabric is great. It's firm yet soft and has an all-over print that is distracting.

Yes I did make these jeans last year in another great Minerva Crafts print. This pattern works just as well with a non-woven denim or drill as it does with a stretch woven. That's why I've stuck to using this pattern again.

One idea I had as I was running out of fabric was to use a plain fabric for the back pockets.

Mr V voted against this idea so I managed to strategically find the same flower for the back pockets #2.

Each time I make up this pattern I check the centre back seam as each fabric stretches differently.

Getting the fit right at this stage is less of a hassle that making jeans that you need to wear a belt with.

Speaking of belts and waistbands, I did run out of fabric for the inter-waistband but I found enough for the belt loops.

There was just enough fabric left to ensure there was a flower on the front pockets.

Then Butterick 5497 was another well tested pattern that I wanted to use again. You can't go wrong with a dark knit top. I went with View B this time. View A is the version I made before.
The beauty with this pattern is it gives you a waistline. That's gotta be a good design.

This top uses elastic along the shoulder line and across your mid section. The gathers across the shoulders and under the bust means you have a lot of wiggle room. View C would be worth trying for trans-seasonal styling. I added a wide elastic lace piece on the hem to bring these pieces together.

About the fabrics:
Both fabrics wash well and feel comfortable. Yes they iron nicely but I avoid ironing weekend gear, where possible.

So what's stopping you try making jeans or a simple tee. Ok, at least grab a knit fabric for a simple tee. You'll find plenty of new fabrics to peruse over.

Keep an eye out for our Liberty print post later this month.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Xerea 1.0

This is a story about a simple dress, that's simple to make and simple to wear - Xerea by Paulinealice patterns.
The pockets really make it.
Talk about busy days - so making Xerea with no zippers, buttons or closures was a lovely way to chill.

Pauline sent this pattern to me as a gift.

This isn't a fitted style and this version is my test version using size 38. 
A-line dresses are a classic style and this has a 60s feel to it.
I did a roll shoulder adjustment and left the back as it. The dress length is as per the pattern.

The shoulder line is a bit short as these sleeves seem to ride to high on this version. It's ok Pauline, I've adjusted this on my next dress.

I was very tempted to start overworking this dress to get a more definted waist but in the end I took in the the front seams in by 1cm for a better front fit.
This is my 'not to be messed around' look.

I've worn this version to work a couple of times now it's really functional, comfortable and let's me get on with the day while not feeling constrained. Love those pockets.

I bought this fabric recently from Pitt Trading to make a 60s costume and I still have plenty work with.

There's a lined Xerea that I'll show you next time.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015


The 'thing' with fantasy shows is the costume department use loads of texture techniques to create a mood for each character. 
Dragonscale embellishments are used in Game of Thrones to create Daenerys Targerean or Khaleesi's regalness as she becomes a queen while being the mother of dragons. So that's where I headed for my round 2 'make your own fabric' challenge in PR sewing bee.

I was fearful of making something that would look 'undercooked', however online costumers are generous in sharing their costume techniques. 

This is the real deal from Michele Carragher's website.
Smocking is something I've enjoyed dabbling in. North American smocking is used to create some of the embellishments for Khaleesi's costumes and I saw one of her costumes up close at the Game of Thrones exhibit in Belfast last year. The same technique is used on her later costumes too.

The smocking template is fairly simple to mark up on fabric and there are lots of YouTube demos to learn from.
Setting up the stitching lines on the fashion fabric.
After creating a small sample in front of the telly, I realised this smocking gig is worthwhile doing.
Test smocking piece

The effect of the triangle stitches
The cotton under layer fabric was sewn as per the pattern with the darts sewn. Then the smocked piece was over laid on it. 
The bodice then was sewing with rows of machine honey comb stitching using three different colour threads.
Here's how the bodice came out with additional fabric sewn onto the shoulder pieces. The bronze sequins are also provide more 'scale'.
The final bodice with sequin scales and pieces of the bronze trouser fabric for effect.
The local fabric store had this royal blue fabric I needed for this piece and I had plenty of stray threads in my stash to machine sew lots of scales and quilting lines on each panel piece.

Skirt scale layering
This is where I was checking how the front skirt would work with embellishment.
The costume has quilt lines that look very military. But then another version has a honeycomb mesh fabric on it so I had to decide if it was work adding dragon scale mesh to the skirt.
The left is a lighter weight blue mesh. The right is a larger purple mesh fabric.
I ended up using the blue mesh fabric on the skirt over the quilting lines and fabric piecing.
The full outfit.
On the actual outfit, there's a gorgeous open back to it. 
I went for the bra friendly version - small.
Vogue 8280
Vogue 8280 was my Khaleesi costume basis and initially cut the lining using a scale like Ikea fabric. 
I cut out the pieces from this fabric first.

This fashion fabric became the outside and lining for the costume.
This costume is quite heavy and fits firmly.
By texturing each piece of fabric, one at a time and checking the photos of the original work online, I felt a whole lot more confidence in creating the textures without feeling all this work would be wasted. I think I spent 12 hours on this project. 
The mother of dragons has done well to survive through to series 5, so why not make one simple Khaleesi outfit for myself. 
With trousers.
Just the dress.

The whole box and dice.
And that's my fantasy piece for now...

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Sutton blouse

I was given this pattern as a thank you for helping promote SIM Bundle #1.
Suttton paired with Simple Skinny Jeans #comfy
I didn't buy it as I've been shying away from it because this isn't my usual style or was in a rut. The key issue I wanted to resolve was its loose look with my height and curves. I don't know if I've achieved a slender look with this blouse just yet, but I do like this top with the adjustments I've make so far.

The Sutton Blouse is a loose fitting V-neck top with kimono sleeves, a one piece yoke, and a back inverted pleat. The back is longer than the front and includes slits at both of the lower side seams.

What I like about it
I like how this blouse is easy to make and uses light-weight fabrics like silk (in the future for me). It's very roomy so good when you're  dealing with humid weather.
The inverted pleat on the centre back is quiet handy if you run around all day.

I'm not used to the high-low hem thing but I like how it covers my caboose.

I'm not a roomy clothes wearer however this style is one I'll be wearing on weekends. I'll leave the fitted  style tops for work instead.

I bought this cotton fabric with rose border through the Silhouette Patterns website a few years ago and I've been wanting to use the rose borders on something nice, like this blouse.

Making it work
I lowered the neckline more than the pattern and I can certainly lowered it a bit more in a future blouse.

Once I made this blouse and wore it, I took more room out of the centre front seam so it isn't so billowy.

I kept the length at the back but lowered the front hem so that I can raise my arms and not flash my tummy.

Now I have a Sutton blouse pattern I can use on silk blend fabrics. Yay!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Shirt or blouse?

When is a blouse not a shirt? Uhm. I'm not too sure but I can say this shirt/blouse got me through PR's Sewing Bee for Round 1.
Can you see the stress on my face? I avoid contests where possible.
This fabric from White Tree Fabrics UK, was originally earmarked for a wrap blouse, until Round 1 was announced. So I put the brakes on that project and grabbed McCalls 5433 and decided on making View A with all the sleeve bells and whistles of Views B/D.
I was really, really lucky MyHung Parramatta had matching buttons.
What was my challenge?
  •   Picking the style for this fabric
  •   Using the fabric to highlight its print
  •   Not this shirt look like a PJ shirt
  •   Making it fit me again
  •   Picking the seam finishes because this shirt is going to be inspected inside and out!
I’ve been working with Liberty prints lately so I cut out each body pieces separately and tried to match the print lines. They run diagonally.
Top Left clockwise: buttons on cuff; collar on shirt; two part collar; cutting front bodice
However there’s a button tab so I decided to cut this piece a wee bit longer to accommodate matching or not matching the print. My plan was to place the shirt buttons on the flowers of the print.

So technically, this is a shirt.  But I still can't tell you when a blouse is not a shirt.
An inside view
The inside of the back.
The seams are French seams. I machine felled the sleeve seam allowances to the shirt.
The collar, collar band, button tabs, cuffs and sleeve band are interfaced.
This progress shot showed me I was on the right pattern placement track.
Fit adjustments
Roll shoulder on the shoulder seams and sleeve curve. I left the sleeve length long so I can roll it up to bracelet length when I need to.
This already had a centre back seam to accommodate my sway back.

To make sure I could size this up at the hips, I cut a 12 at the hips.
A back view shot for fit.
Long story short, once I finished this shirt and took the photos I wore the shirt the next day at work. Well I felt it was too loose at the front, I before work I sewed the front dart in by 1cm and it fit a whole lot better but there were no ripples.
So I tried to smile but 'sheesh', this is stressful.
The ladies at work love my shirt. The roll up sleeves were just what I needed to work at my desk and I did not dirty my sleeves. I hate cleaning cuffs on business shirts and I don't intend on ruining this shirt simply because I love wearing it.

Sue and Yoshimi got through to Round 2 with over 40 others who burnt the candle at both ends to get through. There were 116 of us who were judged in Round 1.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

SIM bundle #2

In case you haven't seen the latest SIM bundle 2, here's the sale of a new stack of Indie patterns on now. The sale of these patterns (mostly knit fabrics) runs from Tuesday 1 September 1 through Thursday 10 September 10 (this week).

20% of bundle proceeds will be donated to Women for Women, which helps women dealing with violence, marginalization, and poverty due to war and conflict. You're more than welcome to donate to Women for Women directly.

Sewing Indie Month (SIM) is on all this month showcasing indie sewing patterns where designers collaborate to bring you fun blog posts and informative tutorials. 

It's accompanied by a sewalong contest with fantastic prizes. Since the patterns in the SIM Bundle 2 are mostly knits, this sale gives you time to make quick projects for the contest while supporting small women-owned businesses and raising money for charity.

This year the Sewing Indie Month HQ is Sew Independent, which Mari from Seamster Sewing Patterns took over from Donna, who decided to step back from the site. You can buy the bundle and keep up to date with the latest SIM news on 

Pay what you want for this bundle:
The more you pay, the more rewards you'll receive. 
  • Pay $25 or more to get the VNA Top, 6101 Fit & Flare Skirt, Bess Top, Nettie Dress & Bodysuit, and Pinot Pants.
  • Pay $32 or more to get the Walkley Vest & Dress and Jasper Sweater & Dress.
  • Pay $38 or more to get the Nautilus Swimsuit, the NEW Kinga Skirt, and the NEW April 1962 Coat.
Two new patterns:
The Kinga Skirt by Kate & Rose and the April 1962 Coat by SomaPatterns are brand new patterns that are being released with the bundle. During the sale you can only buy them as part of the bundle. 

Take a closer looks at the Bundle 2 designers and their patterns:
Have a look at the creations from the SIM bundle #2 bloggers:
My two pre-tested projects

1. VNA by Fehr Trade
VNA top was released last year by Melissa of Fehr Trade. Below is the first test top.
I made this top as a casual top. At the time it was the middle of winter but I was able to identify the back armholes were too low for me, so I wedged out a piece for the next top.
At the time I wasn’t able to write up a review however I made a second test VNA and made a better fitting VNA using a panel print.
Both versions use locally bought knit prints.
I still have to make this VNA up using fabric I bought with Allison C in Hong Kong last year.

Anyway...on the weekend I decided to whip up another version for the gym in dark colours.
And came up with a Super hero photo - "Sewing is my super power".
Able to sew up activewear at the drop of a hat.
And still have to use an unpicker on every garment!
Let's put that comic character aside for now.

2. Nautilus swim suit
Below is my test version I made again in the Winter. Erin included me as a pattern tester so I chose to test for the one-piece swimsuit. 
This test version has been adjusted for my short frame and I’m in the process of shopping around for swimwear bust cup inserts.

I chose to add FOE so that you can see the style lines of this swimsuit. It’s the type of feature I that would have made me buy a store-bought swimsuit if I couldn’t sew my own swimwear.

Sometimes I take the short route and construct what I need without adding the ‘bells and whistles’ that would make me buy clothes because it’s faster to sew. What I keep relearning is I need to add these finishes so that my home-made clothes are as nice as store-bought clothes.

PS: I also made the Sutton blouse from the first SIM bundle.


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