Not Sewing {Spoonflower Wallpaper}

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Booking in the concreter to update our floors sparked a bit of a cascade of intervention and I decided that we needed a feature wall of wallpaper in our loungeroom. Oh yes we did. I’d been eyeing off the Spoonflower wallpaper for a really long time and this was the perfect excuse to order. But what to chose? Oh GOD. Decision making is not something I usually agonise over, but this would be in the middle of our house. Will it make the room look smaller? Will it date really quickly? Will it be a nightmare to put up? Turns out I don’t care. Inspired by Pinterest, I was gravitating towards botanical prints, something leafy. I had planned on banana leaves, but didn’t find the perfect print. In the end, I decided on this monstera print by Charlotte Winter because I loved the watercolour vibe and also how vibrant it is (no muted tones in this house!).

Here’s a bit of my Pinterest Inspo:

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When the wallpaper arrived, I was bloody thrilled to be honest. The colour was really saturated and exactly as the website images showed. But alas, I had to tuck it away for a couple of months until our floor was done (the last thing I wanted was for it to get covered in concrete dust or damaged during the process).

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So yesterday was the day! Putting up wallpaper is definitely a two person job, so I made sure I enlisted the help of my husband to do the hard yards, while I stood back and checked that the whole shebang was straight. Hot tip: Most walls aren’t completely square. We lined it up with the side of the wall and it went above the ceiling at some points, but that’s cool because you just cut that off later. We used the smooth, water activated paper and here’s another hot tip: really wet that sucker down. It worked much better than ‘lightly dampened with with sponge’. Once the top was where we wanted it, we taped it in place with masking tape and rolled the rest down the wall, matching the pattern as closely as humanly possible (in some points it’s slightly off, but I really don’t think you can tell). Then using the wet sponge, we smoothed out all the air bubbles.

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I’m pretty damn pleased with how it turned out. My only niggling concern is that it gets so hot and humid here that the glue will give up on me (especially since the paper is removable). Anyway, time will tell. In other news, dress sewing for everyone else started again this week! Can’t wait to update the shop with all the new beauties, which will probably happen next weekend, all going well.

Concrete Love {Sewing Room Makeover}

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I am lucky enough to have a spare room as a dedicated sewing space in our house. It gets lots of natural light, is close to the front door (so I can see people coming and watch the kids play in the yard) and has built in wardrobes with lots of storage. One thing that has always bugged me though are those terracotta tiles. Just a cosmetic thing, but they throw an ugly orange cast on all my images and we always had plans to get rid of them.

This week, that finally happened. We decided on polished concrete, which meant ripping up the existing tiles (and carpet in our lounge), then getting the professionals in to grind down the slab to expose some of the stones and then polish it until it is shiny.

This was the before:

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And the after:

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Because the slab is 17 years old, it does have cracks and there is a faint grid visible on the concrete underneath from the tiles. The cracks got filled in though and to be honest, I quite like the faults. It’s definitely not a floor for the perfectionist though.

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Most of my dressmaking fabric fits onto the big shelves and my lingerie fabric on the smaller shelves. All my patterns are in the lockers. Looking forward to getting in and starting to sew because I haven’t been able to do much in there for quite a while. If I can stop staring at my new floor for long enough….

Sunshiney Coat Sewing {Vintage Simplicity 8591}

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Do you remember that episode of The Great British Sewing Bee when Jade made that awesome vintage coat with 3/4 sleeves, cute collar and covered buttons? No? Just me? Well, from that moment on I had to have a coat like that. It was love.

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So when I was raiding my friend Phoebe’s pattern stash in Melbourne the other week and found this beauty, I almost did a little happy dance on the spot. Or maybe I just muttered ‘Heck yes’ to myself. I’ll never tell.

Since then my insta sewists have informed me that this pattern has been reissued as Simplicity 1197, so you can get your hands on it if you are that way inclined.

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As soon as I saw that pattern, my fabric stash flashed before my eyes and I knew exactly what I would use. This amazing yellow wool blanket for the outer and cotton sheet for the lining. Both vintage, both scored from op shops. Match made in heaven.

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Then, to complete the holy trinity, I found these vintage green buttons at another op shop on Monday. Bigger than anything I had in my stash, I knew they would be ideal for the coat. But how cool would it be if I could cover them in the sheet fabric? Could I? A quick google told me that I could and here we are in cute button heaven.

And even though it was still stupid hot today (hello, autumn) at a balmy 34 degrees, I just tortured myself by sitting with a woolen blanket in my lap most of the day. Sweating it out, sewing this beast. Once I have an idea in my head, there’s no stopping me. I’m stubborn that way.

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So, details. Every piece of the coat is vintage and scored from op shops, which I think is kind of special. As far as fit goes, it has its quirks. This pattern is for a 38 inch bust, which falls short of my 42 inches. But again, knowing how vintage patterns love their ease, I risked it and it’s completely fine. I love the fit actually. It’s quite possibly designed for a climate much colder than ours, therefore needing room for multiple layers. But since the most I’ll wear under this is a long sleeved t shirt, we’re all good there.

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Can we talk pattern matching? Because I was pretty successful with the front and sleeves, but failed on the back. Oops.

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See those raglan sleeves? They puzzled me at first, but I love them. They fit really well on my shoulders. I thought the darts were a bit weird, but they’ve grown on me. The only major change I made was to the length. If you look at the pattern illustration, it shows the coat hitting just above the knee – when I tried this baby on it was hitting about 10cms above my ankle. Um, what? Were women of the 60s amazing amazon women? I looked like I was wearing my dad’s dressing gown. So off came about 40cms. I could have made it shorter again, more just below waist level, but I’m happy enough with how it turned out.

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Welt pockets. OMG. First time attempting those sneaky bastards. I was trying to follow the directions on the pattern, but because vintage patterns assume errrrrrybody knows how to sew, the instructions left me throwing them and saying all the swears. I had a little google and found some good tutorials, but I figured the best way to learn was to just jump in. Jumping in is hecking scary when it involves slashing your fabric. So they aren’t the best. But they’re in. And I learned something. Sort of.

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The pattern calls for a lot of hand sewing. Basically the entire lining is hand stitched to the outer. LOL, no. I machine stitched it to the facings and then hand sewed the sleeves and hem. Again, sort of. I don’t really know what I’m doing and probably should have used a blind stitch, but I’m happy with how it turned out.

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My machine refused to auto do the buttonholes due to the thickness of the fabric, so they’re a heady combo of machine hack job and hand sewn hack job. Also I think maybe the sleeves should be shorter? Are they in the ‘oops she cut her sleeves too short’ zone? They look in line with the illustration, but I’m not sure.

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Thanks for reading such an epic post and sorry I look slightly drunk in most of the images today. Not sure what’s going on there. It has been an epic couple of weeks.

Banana Dress Giveaway {Vintage Simplicity 5445}

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It occurred to me today that when I’m anxious about something, I sew. I sew when I’m happy too, but my stressy sewing is all about new patterns and the trickier makes. Stuff just for me. I think it’s because I have to concentrate harder, therefore pushing everything else out of my brain. That’s my theory anyway.

I’ve been doing a lot of this lately. BTW things are fine, we’ve just had to make some pretty big decisions and there’s a bit of upheaval. Coming to the end of it now. So anyway, last weekend I was down staying with some of my beautiful friends in Melbourne and this beautiful friend has quite the pattern stash. Quite the vintage pattern stash. It pretty much brought tears to my eyes. So I pinched a couple of the patterns to trace off and make. One of them was this gem:

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Version 1 with sleeves. It had to be done. If you’ve ever looked at vintage patterns before (this one is from 1964) you will know they only contain the one size, listed as bust size, rather than the nested patterns today. Bigger sizes are like hens teeth. A bust of 37 inches is still 5 inches smaller than mine at 42. But in my experience, vintage patterns love the hell out of their ease, so I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to grade this up much at all to fit me. And guess what? I was right.

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I compared the bodice pattern pieces to my beloved McCalls 6696 and there was only 1.5cm difference, so I added that to the vintage pattern. Sorted. This one has a simple collar (no stand) and facing.

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Technically, this is a toile – a practice version of the pattern. Some people will make their toiles (or muslins) from calico, old sheets or some other cheapish fabric. Because then if it doesn’t fit, you haven’t wasted your good fabric. I tend to make my muslins from fabric in my stash that I’m not super attached to. That way if they do work, they are still wearable. That’s what I’ve done here. But while the dress fits and it’s a cool print, I’ve decided that the shape of the skirt is really not me. I’m going to make it again with a much fuller skirt.

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For that reason, I’ve decided to give this one away, rather than let it sit in my cupboard not getting worn. I should really give away more of them, so watch this space. It’s going to be a thing.

Anyway, about the dress.

It’s made from a relatively lightweight poly cotton and has wooden buttons, a collar and ginormous pockets. It’s tea length on me (I’m 165cm) and has a few gathers in the front and back of the skirt.

It’s an Australian size 14-16, but please go by the measurements. Mine are bust: 42 inches, waist 34 inches and hip 44 inches. Slightly smaller than these measurements will work, but not any bigger. If this sounds like you, please enter by commenting below and let me know why you need this dress. I will choose a winner in a couple of days (Australian entries only please) and post her out to you.

Thanks gang πŸ™‚

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Sewing Bras Again {Orange Lingerie Esplanade Bra}

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The Esplanade bra – is it on your radar yet? I haven’t seen many out in the wild, so I think maybe for the first time ever, I’m sewing something pretty damn new. As opposed to checking out everyone elses versions before I commit, which is my usual MO.

Pattern: Esplanade Bra by Orange Lingerie

Main Fabric: Some poly goodness that I assume is vintage. John Kaldor on the selvedge. A little bit of stretch against the grain, none in the other direction. Got it from the op shop for the princely sum of $1.

Power Mesh: The Remnant Warehouse.

Wires, elastic, foam etc: Booby Traps.

This is the first time I’ve sewn with foam and to be honest, my machine didn’t love it. I used a new size 70 universal needle as per the instructions, but it was skipped stitch city and involved a few swears on my part. We got there in the end though.

I was a bit of a crap blogger and didn’t take any construction photos, mainly because I was sewing most of it last night and no one wants ugly night time images. However whenΒ  I make my next one, I’ll share more of that stuff.

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So as you’ve probably noticed by now, the Esplanade bra is a long line, strapless bra with foam cups and boning. It’s quite rad and pretty different to most of the bra patterns out there right now. I love sewing bras, I love the process and I love how it all comes together in the end.

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I’m probably more proud of the guts of the bra than the outside. So pretty.

Every time I sew a bra, I get asked really similar questions – so I’m going to do a bit of a FAQ here, followed by some fitting images and info.

 

– Is it hard to sew a bra?

This is tough to answer because it depends on what you’re used to sewing. I think the biggest difference to sewing clothing is the seam allowance. In bra sewing it’s generally 1/4 inch, which feels tiny at first, but you get used to it quite quickly. You’re also sewing with some fabric that behaves quite differently to the usual wovens.

– You included wires?!

Of all the parts of bra sewing, people seem to balk the most at the wire part. It’s not that hard. In fact, even if you want a wireless bra, a lot of patterns will still add the casing as it covers raw edges and provides a bit of structure. Wires aren’t the devil, they’re actually pretty cool.

– How did you learn?

From Beverley Johnson’s Craftsy Class (affiliate link). I wouldn’t be sewing bras if I hadn’t watched that class. It is bloody excellent. My first ever bra was a Pin Up Girl Classic, which is demonstrated in that class. It’s my tried and true bra pattern and I love it like a child.

– Where do you get your supplies from?

I always blog where everything is from, but in Australia try:

Booby Traps (fabric, elastic, hardware and pretty much anything else bra related)

The Remnant Warehouse (fabric)

Pitt Trading (fabric)

Sew Squirrel (kits and patterns)

Measure Twice Cut Once (kits and patterns)

Kits are a really good idea for your first bra, then you’ll learn your strap elastic from your underwire casing.

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Let’s talk fit. I don’t think sewing a bra is hard, but I do think fitting can be. Bras have far less room for error when compared to something like a dress. They have to be just right. And because we’re all individual little snowflakes with all sorts of boob sizes and shapes, this can be a bit tough. I honestly don’t know how RTW bras fit most of the population. I suspect they don’t and we settle for ‘good enough’. I’ve been pretty lucky with fitting, my bras have all been pretty spot on the first time, although I’ve always made slight tweaks to them all on the next round. Nothing has been so far off that it’s unwearable. I’ve watched some poor ladies in bra groups on Facebook make 6, 7 and 8 toiles. And the tough part about it is that you can’t try it on as you go, you have to make the WHOLE DAMN THING and out of the same fabric you intend to sew the final version in. Not for the faint hearted. But when you get it, angels descend from the heavens and you no longer find bras a torture device to be ripped off as soon as you get home. It’s worth it, I swear.

So this bra is probably my worst fit right off the bat. There’s gaping in the upper cups and the whole shebang is too long. The length is easily fixed next go, but the upper cup part will need a bit of extra tweaking. On the plus side, see how the bridge is flat against my chest wall? That’s sometimes a tough one to get right, so I scored there. Nevermind, it’s still wearable and I might even add straps to this version to eliminate a bit of that gape action.

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There’s that pesky gap. Not enough fullness at the top of my boobs. That’s age, gravity, babies and probably genetics. You’ll note at this stage I hadn’t closed off the casing. The wires are the last thing that goes in so you can test the fit before committing to wire size. You do not want to ever have to unpick bar tacks from underwire casing. NO. Different bras require different wire lengths. I tend to trial and error from my stash until I find the best fit.

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What about support? Strapless bras aren’t really known for it, are they? I think the support in this one is decent, would be better if that upper cup was the right size. Still, I’m not going jogging in this bad boy and I think expecting to is just unrealistic, because gravity, cup size and physics.

I’m very happy with this pattern though. It goes together really well, all my notches lined up and besides the foam troubles, there were minimal melt downs. Will make again and will also make a beach version from swim spandex. With straps though, because my sort of swimming involves waves.

More Collar Love {McCalls 6696 hack}

 

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Continuing my collar making binge (my third in a week – what?!), I decided to make another McCalls 6696. I made this one a couple of years back and remember the collar being the most head scratching, tear inducingΒ  part. I’m going to blame that partly on the fact it was my first time ever sewing a proper collar with a stand and partly on McCalls tip top instructions. Anyway – pug shirt dress:

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It’s a bit of a fabric hungry pattern (the skirt panels are wide) and I really didn’t feel like sewing a million buttonholes (slight exaggeration), so I decided to just sew the bodice with the buttons and leave the skirt as a regular gathered skirt, thus saving me on fabric and hand sewing buttons.

I also decided I didn’t want a button on the waistband because that little guy always manages to work his way free after a big meal. Ahem. So I decided to put a zip in the side seam to make sure I could actually get it on and off. Sorted.

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I didn’t even look at the instructions this time, as I was making some changes and with the lovely Rosa dress still fresh in my head I was able to figure out how everything went together without them. Stark contrast to the last time I made this dress.

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I completed the entire bodice first, not even looking at the skirt pieces. I even did the buttonholes because I thought it would be easier to manage before the skirt was attached. I tacked the bodice pieces closed before sewing on the waistband. Obviously the waistband notches no longer match anything because I started and finished at the side seam rather than in the centre.

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I made sure I didn’t close up the left side seam so I could add a zipper later.

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A pocket from chambray scraps went in the right hand side of the skirt, because I’m not clever enough to put a pocket and a zip in the same side. Still, one is better than none.

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I made the best collar I’ve ever made, taking so much care to roll the seams towards the facing of the collar and then promptly sewed it on the wrong way. So now the seams show. Idiot. I didn’t even realise I’d done it until the end. I can live with it though.

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Discovered the most perfectly matched buttons in my stash. Awwww yeah, love it when stuff like that happens.

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We didn’t talk about fabric! Now, I’m not much of a floral girl, but occasionally there’s an exception. This is one of them. It’s so pretty, isn’t it? Love the navy, love the types of flowers and I especially love the tiny little snails. It’s Heather Ross from Hawthorne Threads – as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have it. Added bonus: it’s a beautifully light and drapey lawn, which is so perfect for our super hot summers. Our winters are pretty mild too, so I’ll be able to get away with wearing it with tights, boots and a cardi. Quite looking forward to that right now!

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There’s a bit too much ease in those sleeves, I’m going to take some out next time. Other than that, I’m pretty damn pleased with this one.

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Collar Love {Tilly and The Buttons Rosa Dress}

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Current obsession: proper pointy collars complete with collar stand. Peter Pans have their place, don’t get me wrong – but look at that edgy delicious collar.

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So you’ll see from my images that our lawn is pretty much dead – Australia in February, baby. Also Australia in February – relentless heat coupled with cloying humidity. Result? Dress that I literally just ironed before these photos looking like it has be balled in a corner of a dark room for a month. Sorry. Probably shouldn’t have used quilting cotton, but I do like to bend those rules. Look at that Charley Harper print.

Pattern – Tilly and the Buttons Rosa

Fabric – Birch Organic from fabric.com

Buttons were an op shop find.

Shoes are Saltwater Sandals and sunnies are Quay, just in case you’re interested. Pretty much my uniform right now.

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Ah Rosa. She’s pretty cool, right? I like Tilly’s patterns – they are well drafted and seem to fit me quite well. Plus her instructions are really clear and she has lots of images to look at and provide direction too. And I like how she doesn’t have standard numbered sizing. I’m a 7? Cool. That holds no negative value to me.

I sort of fall into a couple of sizes in this one, so I cut a 7 and graded down to a 6 at the waist. As it turns out, I could do with a tiny bit extra at the bust, so I’ll add that next time. There’s no gaping, just a slight pulling when I move my shoulders back. I cut an 8 for the sleeves because I have big arms, but ended up taking them in anyway. The only trouble I had with the whole thing was my button placement mark was off, so I’ll have to check that on my pattern pieces to see what I did there.

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Look at that cool back yoke. I’ve always had trouble with those sorts of curves and while it’s not perfect, this is definitely the best one I’ve ever done. Tilly’s instructions for that are great. This version has cool mock flat felled seams, which feels never ending at teh time but the result is so worth it.

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Sorry I don’t have any construction pics, I did most of this at night and they would have been horrendous. There’s nothing too tricky about it though.

I’m a bit self conscious about the length of this one (hello weird knees), so will probably end up wearing it mostly with tights and boots in winter. I’ve already ordered some chambray for another version, as well as some delicious double gauze that might end up being a shirt with piping.

All in all, an excellent pattern with rad details.

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Knickers With A Twist: The Interpretation

Here it is – the fifth and final installment!webdsc_3153

It’s a bit of a stretch calling this one the interpretation, as most of these challenges have had a hack or two, but I tried to go that step further with this one.

Look at this amazing cotton spandex from Orinoco Designs. Rainbow plaid? Yes please! Not only does she look pretty, but she’s deliciously soft also. Would you like to win some? Go on….
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The mesh used in this one is from Booby Traps. I think. I bought it a really long time ago.

webdsc_3147So. Hacks. For this pair I followed the directions from Beverly Johnson’s Craftsy class and added a godet. Mostly because it sounds fancy, but also because it looks cool. In the class, Beverly uses lace for the godets and leaves the lovely scalloped edge open (open? unfinished? not encased in elastic like the rest of the leg). However, because I’m using mesh and the edges need to be finished, I used picot elastic as usual.

I also lowered the waistline by three inches. Scandalous!

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And that’s pretty much that. You know the drill by now. Thanks for letting me flash you my knickers. Thanks also to Brooke for playing along and to Jess for brainstorming the whole shebang. I’m off to continue bra making so I basically have a brand new underwear drawer to start the new year. Spoiler: it’s not even a drawer. More of a tub. A nice tub though. A felt bucket, if you will.

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Knickers With A Twist: Reworked in Woven

First things first – awesome fabric giveaway here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pop over to see what clever Jess and clever Brooke have come up with too.

Challenge number four – this one ended up being my favourite! Even though I had to use my brain parts a little bit because here’s the thing – knickers are generally made with a negative ease. Meaning, they are smaller than our bodies because they have to stretch a bit to fit. Items made of wovens (like a dress made from quilting cotton) have ease so we can move our bodies once they are on. The amount of ease you like is a purely personal thing and some items need more than others. So using a woven for knickers, means you either have to make them bigger than your body or do as I did, and just use a small panel of woven and the rest in stretch. I hope that makes sense.

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In this case, I hacked my pattern once again, as you can see below. Hot tip: Beverly tells you in the Craftsy class not to cut into your original, but to trace it off every time you want to make changes. Do as the smart lady says. I did not and ended up having to rewatch the entire class and redraft my pattern. Idiot.

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Back and side front from stretch lace, centre front panel and gusset outer from satin (cut on the bias for a least a wee bit of mechanical give) and gusset lining from black jersey. Navy would have been better, but alas, none to be found.

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I bought the stretch lace and satin from fabric.com about a year ago when I first started bra making. Then when I actually received it, I realised the lace has too much stretch for a bra and would need to be lined, which seemed a bit scary back then so I never actually got around to making it. When I saw it in my stash though, I knew it would be perfect for this challenge.

Cool pom pom elastic is from The Remnant Warehouse.

All done and another super comfortable pair. I ended up turning the seam allowance of that front panel back towards the centre and stitching it down so it couldn’t be seen through the lace and to provide extra strength. I was a bit worried about them being a bit smaller because of the woven panel, but they are perfect. Sewing that lace felt a bit like how I’d imagine sewing spider webs feels, but all up it was pretty painless.

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So inspired by these cool knicks, I finally sewed the bra to match, using the Pin Up Girl Classic pattern, with all the bits and bobs from Booby Traps. Cups and bridge are lined with nude tricot, band is lined with nude power mesh.

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webdsc_3537webdsc_3539And because they look so rubbish when I photograph them flat, all curling over themselves – I got brave and took photos of them on.

So scroll down if you dare.

Are you sure about this?

Really sure?

Last chance!

I take no responsibility now….

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How good is that fit though? Pretty pleased with myself. This is why I sew.

Hope your eyes haven’t melted.

Knickers With A Twist: The Upcycle

Oh the upcycle.

When Jess first asked me to take part in the challenge, I was all in. Cool on each of the themes – except this one. I was madly wracking my brain for something to upcycle. Something big enough to cover my entire butt region.

In desperation, I started to dig through my kids’ cupboards when I found this baby. Oh yeah, cotton spandex blend t shirt that no longer fits – come to mama.

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I grabbed my pattern pieces and folded, flipped and tried all sorts of pattern tetris, but it just wasn’t going to happen. One size 6 t shirt wasn’t going to be enough fabric for a pair of knickers to fit me.

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So never fear, a bit of pattern hacking to the rescue! In Beverly’s Craftsy class (that I keep banging on about), she not only shows y0u how to draft a knickers pattern from your own measurements, she also shows you a pile of cool hacks. One of them being forward side seams. Which was pretty much perfect to use the print on the t-shirt. So off I went on my merry way, not really considering the seam allowance for those leg bands (sorry Bison).

Still, I think the end result was pretty cool.

What stuff did I use?

No elastic this time – cotton lycra bands from that same black fabric I keep using for gussets (although not this time).

To do those I pretty much just measured my thigh circumference and took away 2 inches. Same for the waist band. EASY. SOFT. NO DIGGING IN OF ANY KIND. This is actually my favourite way to finish the legs and waist. Sure, elastic probably looks more ladylike, but this is comfy as heck.

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I also used some blue spotty cotton lycra I bought from fabric.com a long time ago. And an old kid’s t shirt too, but we’ve talked about that.

I used my overlocker for all the sewing on this pair, but again – not necessary. Zig zag on a regular machine will do.

And that’s that. A headdress wearing bison with no sense of smell. The colours are cool though.

(Those leg bands are even, promise).

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Oh and don’t forget the giveaway from lovely Orinoco Designs!

a Rafflecopter giveaway