Not Everyone’s A Winner, Baby {Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress}

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This might be unpopular but hear me out. I love the style of Gerties patterns. They are the kind of silhouette that I wear all the time. I own her books, which have their issues but what I’ve made has been ok. Not perfect, but ok. Wearable. I actually really love some of her patterns for Butterick, like this one and this one.

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I know it’s rare for patterns to fit straight off the envelope. I do. But I guess I’ve been pretty lucky up until now. I have standard changes that I’ll make, often before even starting (FBA and shorten bodice), but my measurements tend to slot me right into one size (I tend to go by finished measurements) so I don’t find I have to make a lot of fitting changes. In fact, I usually go straight for a wearable muslin rather than making a practice run, getting sick of it and then never making the proper version. What can I say, I get bored easily. Unless of course it’s really special fabric and a pattern I’ve never made before. Even then, I’ll use inexpensive fabric but something that I’d still actually wear. I’ve never made a proper, unbleached muslin version.

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I loved that collar on the Night and Day Dress pattern as soon as I saw it. I own a fair few vintage patterns, but nothing with that lovely square neckline and collar. Plus I loved the bishop sleeves for something different and even thought the tie collar was pretty cute. At $53.50 USD (about $75 AUD) it did work out quite expensive, but just under half of that was shipping and you know, that’s life when you live down here. I don’t mind paying a bit extra for something I really like the look of and that I’d struggle to find elsewhere. Plus, I’m supporting a fellow woman in business, so ok.

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I was excited when it arrived and got to work pretty much right away. I was delighted to find my measurements slotted me right into the 10D. They are my exact measurements. I’d seen it mentioned that there wasn’t a lot of ease and that suited me too, but I did double check them. I couldn’t see anywhere what height the pattern was drafted for, but I took an inch out when I was tracing the pattern pieces off as I’m pretty short waisted and that’s quite standard for me. I held the pieces up to my torso for a rough idea and it looked ok.

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The whole thing went together really easily and the instructions are clear and concise. I was a bit worried about the collar, but it was find. It doesn’t lay flat when you are sewing it together, but don’t worry about that because it all turns out well in the end. The darts though, they are something else. They were massive. If you’ve ever done a FBA and ended up with ginormous darts, you know what I’m talking about. And I’m not even that big in the bust really – about a 38D. Not small, but not really big either. I had fit issues that I’ve never come across before (please excuse the phone pic).

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I used some new Tula Pink fabric – something that could be purchased again if it didn’t turn out, but also, I had high hopes. What could go wrong? HA.

Ok so too long in the bodice, even after taking an inch out. But more that that, huge across my chest and weird extra fabric under the bust and at the bust darts too. Ok. I unpicked the bodice from the skirt and made the darts bigger at the base, while trying to shorten them too – a nearly impossible feat because they were already so wide and then trying to drop the point below my bust made getting from dart leg to dart point a very short trip. I fudged my way through it and ended up here, with still too long darts. Although a glance at the pattern images shows them quite high, so maybe that’s where they’re supposed to be?

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I couldn’t keep it on my shoulders. Is this pattern made for 6’4″ footballers? Footballers with very perky busts. Is it me? I’d seen other versions popping up on instagram that looked great! What have I done?

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Ok, round two. Using an Ella Blue fabric that was quite a bargain of $5/m. Not a big deal. Probably cheaper than unbleached muslin, you guys. But this time would be fine, right?

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I went down a size to an 8D. I took the shoulders up and a bit more from the bodice. I scooped the armholes to compensate. Not enough though apparently. Still had the excess fabric around the darts. STILL.  Same trick again. Wider dart legs to fix the waist darts, not as easy to fix the bust ones. Ok. But at least this one was staying on my shoulders. I can live with the wrinkles at the sides. Whatever.

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Do my boobs sit at my belly button? Whyyyy have I never experienced anything like this before?

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Also, knowing Gertie is big on foundation garments, I wore my What Katie Did Merry Widow underneath and it definitely looks better than just with a normal bra. Unders look like this. Was hoping the neighbours wouldn’t decide to water the garden at this point in time.

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Ok fine. I was going to go back and rescue my Tula version. If it was the last thing I did. Muslin time. I MADE 8 BODICE MUSLINS. EIGHT. I dropped darts, I went up a cup size, I went down a cup size, I slashed, I spread, I shortened, I lengthened. I cried. Now, I’m not a professional dress maker, but surely this pattern is aimed at home sewers, right?

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Fresh off the sewing machine, I’d thought I’d done it – no wrinkles at the sides. Apparently not when you are holding your arm out to take a selfie, but the appear again when standing normally.

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In the end, I went back to the 10D, removed 3cms from the shoulders and 3cms from the bottom of the waist (I know, but seriously – I felt like I tried everything by that point) and the weird thing? I took 1cm from the CF. That brought everything more toward the centre so at least I could keep it on my shoulders. That was as close as I was going to get. Still had the wrinkling at the bust darts but I was defeated. I just wanted it to be wearable. So I made my new bodice and I am going to wear that sucker.

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Because finished is better than perfect.

 

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Crocodile Rock {Simplicity 8342 hack}

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The way I see it, there are two types of sewists (I’m not typing sewers, that’s where the ninja turtles live – damn English language), those who carefully plan each sew, keep lists, make sure they have everything they need, make a toile or two, hand baste zips, hand sew hems, follow instructions and generally just win at life through being patient and organised. Then there’s me. I would really like to be the former, but I fall into the ‘just do it’ category. Or as my mother likes to say, ‘you’re like a bull at a gate!’. It’s true. Sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes it bites me on the butt.

(This whole paragraph is particularly relevant to me this morning, as I’ve just asked for fitting advice in a FB group for something unrelated to this post and received the old ‘you must make a toile from unbleached muslin and make one change at a time!’. So sorry, Karen. I’d like to try harder but I won’t. Pretend this cool print is my unbleached muslin, just use your imagination).

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But I digress. Have you seen Simplicity 8342 i n your travels? Same. I actually bought it as soon as it came out because I loved the top so much and then ignored it for a while because even though I love the style, I don’t usually show so much arm and chest. I know. It’s a bit weird, but I’m working on it. But when does one show more arm and chest? At the beach! And you know I do love making swimmers. Could that top portion be used on my regular swimmers pattern? I think so!

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Here is a reminder of the swimmers I have made many times. The top portion was traced from a RTW bikini top, the bottom portion is Megan Nielsen’s Rowan bodysuit because the fit is ideal for me. I love them. I wore this style a lot last summer.

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So what happened next? OMG you guys, I made a toile (cop it, Brenda). Although not from unbleached muslin, but from some crappy old green jersey I’ve had stashed away for ages. My measurements put me into the 18, but knowing the Big 4s approach to ease (even with knits), I cut the 14. It’s a really quick sew and because of the way it’s pieced, you can use larger scrap pieces. Surprise, surprise, it was too big. Definitely too big for swimmers anyway, those things need to stay close to the body. I ended up comparing my Rowan pattern pieces to the S8342 upper bodice pieces and they lined up at the size 10 line. So that’s what I cut.

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I used this spandex panel from Pitt Trading, which I love – but I’ve ended up with that line down the centre front because of the way it’s printed. Not a big deal. I went with fabric I liked (in case it worked out) but wasn’t too attached to (in case it didn’t). That is my approach to muslins in a nutshell.

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The top part is self lined because the wrong side of the ties show when it’s worn, but I also added a layer of power mesh in between for extra support and tie strength. The construction method was a bit different to enclose everything, but the way it’s done on S8342 is a bit home ecky for me. There’s elastic in the seam allowance under the arms, as well as in the straps. I figured two layers of spandex plus power mesh would be enough for the neckline, but I think next time I’ll add the elastic so I’m not stretching the fabric out so much. The rest of the body is lined with white swim lining and I finished the legs with bands.

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Easy.

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I didn’t use rings and sliders on these straps because I didn’t have any wide enough. I found when taking these photos that they felt kind of long, so I’ve taken them up since.

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The ties ended up quite bulky, so I think I’ll make them a bit narrower next time.

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All in all, not a bad wearable toile though! Now I’m wondering if I can add a band to the bottom and wear it as a bikini top too. So many options…

 

 

She’s Got Pegs {Patterns For Pirates Peg Legs}

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My love for this pattern is well documented. I have many pairs now, handy because I wear them to walk the dog every morning. They’re so wearable that often I won’t get changed afterward.

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The pattern is free. FREE. Here is the original and here is the add on pack with the side panel, pockets, contour waistband and everything that makes them the best leggings ever.

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For these ones I used Spoonflower’s sport lycra. I prefer the nylon/spandex blends over the cotton lycra blends. I feel like they have better compression and recovery, but that’s a very personal thing. I also have a plain black pair in double brushed poly, they are definitely lighter weight and more for wearing under dresses.

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webDSC_5313This waistband completes me. It’s the contour band cut to the low rise line on the peg pieces. If you cut to the high rise line, they may end up in your armpits, unless you’re tall. Which I am not. I’ve also taken to stitching down my seam allowances at the crotch, butt and inner seams, just for extra strength.

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I get a few weird drag lines at the backs of my knees where there’s a bit of excess fabric. I’ve tried a couple of things to fix it, but it’s honestly not a huge deal for me. I have a feeling it’s because I have big thighs, big calves but maybe regular sized knees. The same thing happens with rtw and jeans. I think it’s more apparent in these ones because they are a much lighter colour than what I’d usually wear. That’s the funny thing about sewing for yourself, ‘OMG dark colours only on the bottom half’ becomes ‘OMG has that fabric for teeth all over it?!’ and here we are.

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Here’s another pair I made recently too, this time with swim spandex from Pitt Trading, plus some mesh I’ve had for ages from The Remnant Warehouse. Then there’s a couple more plain grey pairs that I’ve never even bothered to photograph. I do love these leggings.

 

You’re So Last Summer {Ohhh Lulu Cindy Bra}

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There’s a little fabric shop about half an hour from here called Johno’s. Now Johno’s has been around for quite some time, but I’d never manged to get to it until recently. I mean, I could have – but to be honest it’s not that appealing from the street. I know. I really should know better than to judge a book by its cover. I’ve since been there twice in the last month. It’s only a small shop, but packed to the ceiling with bolts of fabric in that organised chaos kind of way that old school fabric shops are. Plus the staff are lovely.

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Anyway, the second time I was there, this spandex jumped out at me from its spot (LOL) on the bottom shelf. Something about it pinged in my lizard brain, but I couldn’t quite place it. I loved the colour and those uneven splotches, so I grabbed a metre for future swimwear plans. As I was scrolling through instagram later that week, I spotted (LOL) my fabric. A local swimwear company had been using it for their previous season. Oh well, now I was going to use it too.

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I decided to revisit Ohhh Lulu’s Cindy bra, which I hadn’t made in ages. It was actually the first wired bra I ever sewn, but the cup shape wasn’t quite right on me, so it was pushed aside in favour of other patterns as my bra making skills improved. My body has changed a bit since my first Cindy attempts (as they do, those non static little vessels), so I checked my measurements against the pattern and cut another size. I am so used to making bras now with stable bridges and cups, that making one from stretch threw me a little. Would it be stable enough? Would I wiggle and jiggle like jelly on a plate? Would the cups stretch out beyond all repair and leave me with belly button boobs?

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Not really, as it turns out. I mean, I wouldn’t go jogging in it but if you ever see me jogging, there’s something terribly wrong and you should probably run too. I lined the cups and side band in lightish white swim spandex (could have used lining also, but this provides a bit more support), with powernet for the back band and stable bra lining for the bridge. The pattern calls for powernet at the bridge, but past bra making experience made me decide that I wanted a more stable bridge. Well, as always, I probably should have followed directions, because now I’ve got a bit of excess spandex at the bridge forming a bit of wrinkling. Not a big deal, but I know for next time.

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The width of these cups is spot on for me, although they do flatten me out so I need a tiny bit more projection. Next time I might narrow the bridge slightly too. If you are a bra sewer, try and forget your sizing in other patterns. I’m mostly a 40D in bra patterns, but this one is a 36DD and I could even go down another band size (I ended up taking a bit out of this one). That’s unusual for me because I am pretty broad across the back.

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As always, I made a few changes to take this from bra to bikini:

  • I eliminated the back clasp by cutting the back piece on the fold. I like a firm band and am much more comfortable without a closure digging into my back. You could change it for a strappy back with hooks or a couple of those swimwear clasps. the width makes it a bit more challenging though.
  • The bottom of the band has regular swim elastic instead of picot.
  • The top edges have binding (instead of fold over elastic) created from the spandex, as well as narrow swim elastic enclosed within the binding. I think it creates a nice clean finish, while also keeping everything hugged against my chest and back. I’ve used zig zag because I don’t mind it, but if you want a more professional looking finish, you could use a twin needle.
  • I made fabric straps, again with elastic in them for extra support, instead of using normal bra straps.

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A couple of people have asked why I didn’t add foam. I have used it in swimmers before, but I don’t mind either way. I was keen to see how this would look without and also, I was being lazy and didn’t want to have to cut down pattern pieces for foam (otherwise, I’d have foam in seam allowances, which would be quite bulky). We all have nipples, so I’m not really concerned about concealing mine with foam, but I know some people prefer to. I also don’t mind boob shaped boobs, even though the modern trend is toward foam domes. Foam has the added advantage of providing a bit of extra support too, but honestly – it’s really not a problem for me with this one.

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I forgot to mention the bottoms are my same old self drafted ones I wear constantly. I just sized down for these so they don’t fall off in the surf. I might have sized down a touch too much, but at least they aren’t going anywhere.

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Gotta admit, the whole time I was taking these photos, I was slightly concerned about being joined by this not so little friend who has been hanging around recently. The shrub behind me is its hideout.

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Lucky for me it remained tucked away wherever it is. I definitely would have ended up in the pool if it decided to make itself known. And that water is still really cold.

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Baby Got Back {Decades Of Style Siren Dress}

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It is highly likely I’ve used that very obvious title before – in fact, I’m sure I have. But in these fast paced, modern times when content is king, I’ve forgotten what I used it for and hopefully you have too. I was going to use ‘Hope It Gives You Hell’, but realised that sounds like I hope you have trouble with this dress too, and that’s untrue.

Let’s celebrate my over explaining with GIFs.

Broken up with another image because I’m not a monster.

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Yeah she does. Except I literally mean my back, not my butt.

Sorry. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me. This dress did give me a hard time, it’s Friday night, I’ve poured a sizable drink….

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Let’s talk. I used Decades of Style’s Siren Dress. Which I’ve had for quite some time but  have shied away from for a couple of reasons:

(a) I knew it would be a bit of a challenge to fit

(b) Am I ok with going bra-less? Eh, not sure.

(c) Will it show my back fat?

What eventually made me give it a red hot go:

(a) That back

(b) My cavalier attitude

(c) That back.

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Truth is, I was a wee bit bored and wanted something new to sew. The internet didn’t provide any super exciting versions of this dress, but I forged ahead anyway. With freaking awesome Alexander Henry fabric (which, I may add, is repping a fair few Australian bird species). A toile would have been a sensible idea, for sure, but since when have I been sensible?

 

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Shall we talk about the bad stuff first? Lets.

  • Neckline gaping – dealing with it for now, it’s not too bad.
  • I had a huge gape that ran from under the arm right around the back. I mean, uuuugggggeeeeee. Ok, that needed a fix. I ended up taking it in a massive 5cms under each arm, tapering down to nothing at the waist.
  • The above fix is now creating some weird bagging at the side seams. Mostly covered with the ties so not such a big thing.
  • Cut the ties upside down, so the birds are running the wrong way down my back. DOH. Could not be arsed cutting them again.
  • TIED THE WHOLE THING UP WRONG FOR THESE PHOTOS. What is wrong with me?! The ties are supposed to wrap around the waist and tie at the back. I did try this but found it was too short for a decent bow. A quick glance at the pattern envelope would have told me a knot was how it was supposed to be tied. I’ll remember that for when I wear it properly, I swear.

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Let’s talk about the good stuff:

  •  I mostly saved it! It’s quite wearable
  • I sewed bra cups into the lining. It ain’t no bra, but it provides a bit of something. And I even managed to get them in the right spots – even after the quite extensive adjustments.
  • I self lined the ties because I didn’t want to see the wrong side of them.
  •  I added my own pockets instead of the solo patch pocket. I’m not a huge fan of patch pockets, mostly because I lose my phone out of them when I get into the car etc.
  • Instead of the two hooks for a closure at the back I used two buttons and a hook and eye because two hooks just felt flimsy. It wouldn’t have felt so flimsy if I’d actually tied it up as intended, but never mind.

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I will make another and I’ll take wedges out all over my pattern pieces to sort out the gaping thing. I’ll probably lengthen the ties a bit too, just so I can tie a bigger bow at the back. I love how wide the ties are! That back though….

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Bra Restock {Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra}

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There is really very little reason to blog these bras. I’ve made them and talked about them many, many times before. The Marlborough pattern is my favourite. It fit me almost straight out of the envelope (or off the PDF) and gives me the most lift and projection than any other bra I’ve ever worn. Including RTW.

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I automatically sift through my drawer for the Marlboroughs before anything else. It feels kind of like cheating to make the same pattern over and over, but hey – I love them, so why not?

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Actually the nude coloured one was sewn out of necessity. I have so many black and bright prints, but was seriously lacking anything to wear under semi sheer clothes. I found the peachy coloured lace in Spotlight and the matte spandex was from The Remnant Warehouse.

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The other two were sewn because I like sewing in threes.

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Matching knickers, because of course. All my supplies are from all over the place, so if you want to know something specific, just ask. As always, pretty much all of it comes from The Remnant Warehouse, Pitt Trading and Booby Traps.

webDSC_2740 You know what though? I still learn little tips and tricks every time I sew. This time I learned that you can put two wires in one casing. I know. Why? I bought some wires on sale and when they arrived, they were a bit flimsy for me. But I bought a pile of them because they were such a bargain. So two in each cup for extra support.

webDSC_2776 Look at those enclosed seams. They fill me with a ridiculous amount of satisfaction. All of my bras are lined with sheer cup lining. It’s light, but strong.

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I can’t decide which one is my new favourite child. That peacock lace or the printed silk gifted to me by a friend. The nude one is nanna-functional, but the other two are a bit more special.

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Welcome to the lingerie drawer, new friends….

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Not Sewing, Knitting {Skully Sweater and Berocco Lawrence}

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I’ve never been much of a resolution maker. I don’t carefully plan my sewing with make nines or even queues. I figure I have enough planning in my life, I like to be a bit more free with sewing. That said, I did have two goals in mind for 2018: finally make jeans (have, still in progress with fitting) and learn how to knit. Both came about from a bigger resolution – no buying things you can make yourself. Which sort of snowballed from the fact that I now sew all my swimmers and underwear, as well as the majority of my clothes and the fact that I really can’t get the same fit/prints/pockets/satisfaction from RTW.

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I had lofty goals of knitting myself cute little cropped cardies and jumpers to go with my dresses and skirts. Yesssss. This would be a thing! Sew by day, knit by night. I asked the good folk of Instagram how the learned to knit. Grandma’s Youtube and Google were suggested (easily done!), along with the book Stitch N Bitch (purchased!) and quite a few people recommended being taught in person. Hmmm. I’d mostly learned to sew from the internet, so I assumed knitting would be similar. WRONG. Well, for me anyway. You might be clever enough to be taught to knit by the internet, but it felt pretty much impossible for me.

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So where to next? A few people suggested asking in the local yarn shop. LOL. We don’t even have a sewing shop anymore, friends! We do have a local arts and crafts organisation, as it turns out, so I shot an email off to those helpful ladies and what do you know? They sent me the phone number of a lovely lady named Sylvia and she told me about her weekly knitting group and how she’d be delighted to teach me. What a legend! They’re all legends actually. Patience of saints too because I absolutely sucked at it in the beginning. Learning new things is hard! Starting at the beginning again is hard! Having sausages for fingers is hard! But by the end of that first session, I had a vague idea of knit stitch. I practiced, consulted Grandma Youtube and by the following week I could purl too. YES. LET’S MAKE THINGS.

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When I first flicked through my Stitch N Bitch book, this skully jumper caught my idea. I was in love. I had to make it. So that’s where I started. It was marked as a beginner pattern, so it had my name all over it. I made the front and back by knitting a bit each night in front of the tv. Anything I wasn’t sure about was cleared up by the knitting ladies. But weeks of knitting the same black yarn got old and I’d been shopping and found some really nice Mondial Alpaca on sale. It felt amazing and I really wanted to use it, so I searched and found this relatively simple looking, free Berroco pattern. I made it in the biggest size and hoped that it would fit one of the boys. Ed was the winner of that one.

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Hard stuff – picking up stitches for the sleeves (I ended up making them separate and sewing them on) and picking up stitches for the neckband (there’s holes). Then after binding off the neckband I discovered it wouldn’t go over his head, so it had to be pulled out and started again. That’s when I learned about stretchy bind offs.

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Hot damn, it’s been a learning curve. I finished the Lawrence jumper and then it was time to head back to the black beauty. Just in time for the neckband. Woe. This one is better than my first though. Before doing the sleeves, I consulted the knitting ladies. They told me that knitting big intarsia sleeves on an already big jumper was going to be quite a bulky, heavy task. And because I really didn’t want to attempt picking up the stitches on the arm hole again, they told me to knit them separate. So I did. I was so glad I did because the whole intarsia thing was a bit of a nightmare and I redid the first sleeve 3 times in total. Once again though, I learned a lot. They are still a bit rough, but I got there.

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The sleeves are actually way too long for me, but I’ve rolled them up. I’ll be damned if I don’t wear this jumper! It was a labour of love and I’m a little bit thrilled that I did it, if I’m honest. For a while there it felt like I wouldn’t finish it. I don’t love how there’s no shaping in the sleeves and I would prefer ribbing at the band and the wrists instead of garter stitch, but I’ll worry about all that next time. My brain is full from how much I’ve learned lately.

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Now, what next?

Slowing Down In Style {Closet Case Patterns Carolyn Pjs}

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Up until a couple of years ago, I always thought that sewing pjs was such a waste of fabric (and time!). If you sew, you’ll know that people often assume that sewing your own clothes is cheaper than buying it, but in our current age of fast fashion – it’s really not. I mean, some things are, sort of. It’s cheaper for me to sew a bra than by a $60 one, but it’s not cheaper than buying a $20 one (I hope that makes sense).

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There are all the obvious benefits too, of course – a custom fit, rad fabric and the ability to add pockets to just about anything. But there’s a big divide between store bought pjs and the cost of making your own. The ones above require between 4 and 5 metres of fabric, depending on the width and if you consider a rough price of $15/m, that’s $60-$75 for pjs. A big leap from the inexpensive ones you can buy in shops. That’s without the 5-6 hours or so it takes to actually make the suckers!

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So what changed my mind? The average human spends about a third of their life asleep. I am a keen pj wearer, often having a shower and getting into them by about 5pm most afternoons – earlier in winter. I spend a lot of time in pajamas and so it makes sense that I would wear beautifully handmade ones. Plus, it really brings down the cost per wear situation.

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It’s currently school holidays and my second favourite part is the slowness of our mornings (my absolute favourite part is no homework). Sometimes we will hang out in our pjs until midday. It is such a nice change to the rush to get out the door on school mornings. What better time to shout myself a couple of new pairs? Less of a shock for the poor postie when he delivers my parcels too.

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I found the fabric for my first pair on the Spotlight clearance table. As an added bonus, they also had 40% off all fabric, so this mid weight stretch satin was quite the bargain. Being 150cms wide meant I didn’t need to buy as much either. Check out that print placement though – almost like a border print, but the print runs through the centre of the fabric instead.

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I used my beloved Closet Case Carolyn pattern, which is another expense when you think about it, but I have used it many times now – not only for me but for sewing gifts for other people too. It’s such a beautiful pattern and definitely worth it. I decided to skip the piping and let the print do the talking this time, but I did cover some buttons in some scrap satin in another print.

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I got a bit creative with the print placement and made the shirt a bit business in the front…

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And party in the back. I love these so much. The fabric is soft and slinky, and the little bit of stretch makes them very comfortable. I was on a roll, so immediately cut out another pair from this koala flannelette I’d bought a while back. Makes sense to have a fancy pair and a cosy pair, right?

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Unfortunately though, I’d skimped out and only bought 4m so had to dig through my scrap stash for cuffs and pockets. Damn you, past Katie!

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The whole mis-matched thing has grown on me though, so I’ll definitely be wearing these cosy babies once the weather decides it’s winter again. For now though, the slinky satin pair are perfect for our warmer nights.

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Tony Tiger approves. Kenny Koala remains indifferent.

 

 

Sewing For Samoa {Sew House Seven Tea House Dress}

webDSC_6875It occurred to me recently as I was lovingly admiring this dress in my cupboard, that I had actually never blogged it. It’s a really special dress for me and holds a little memory in every one of those sequins, I think.

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Created from one of my favourite patterns in the world, Sew House Seven’s Tea House Dress and sewn in a luxurious sequined silk chiffon from the Remnant Warehouse for my husband’s brother’s wedding in Samoa last November.

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Samoa in November (and really most of the year) is hot and humid. As Queenslanders, we are used to a bit of heat and humidity, but this is next level stuff. I knew I wanted a dress from a natural fibre, with beautiful drape and fabric that just offered something a tiny bit extra. Enter The Remnant Warehouse. They stock a huge variety of designer remnants so it’s the place I stalk online when I want something extra special.

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I cut my pieces very carefully and following some info I’d read online, started painstakingly removing sequins from the seam allowances. THIS. WAS. THE. WORST. It would have taken a year of unpicking in front of the tv each night. Further research online showed a few rebels that just sewed over the suckers. I held my breath and gave that a go and… nothing. Totally fine. No causalities (eyes or needles). These sequins were quite small and soft, as well as not too close together, so sewing over them was completely fine. Phew. Life saver. The cut ones are scratchy though, so I did french seams wherever possible and trimmed any rogue sequins out of the way.

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I stitched the hem of the dress and sleeves by hand because I didn’t want any stitching showing from the outside. It was totally worth taking the extra time and care. I did the same with the front and back facing pieces, after removing all the sequins from those so they weren’t rubbing against my skin. After initially thinking all those sequins were individually knotted, with trial and error I found the magic unraveling thread in each bunch. It was heaps of fun to pull it and watch gold sparkles fly around my lounge room (side note: what they say is true, 8 months on I’m still vacuuming those buggers up).

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I didn’t want to line the dress so I made a slip out of cream silk voile which worked really well. The sequins make the dress heavy though and you can see it’s a fair bit longer than my others in the sleeves and the actual length. I don’t mind at all though.

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I photographed the wedding, so it was important I was comfortable and could move around easily – hence the sandals too. But let’s be clear – if you ever see me wearing heels, chase me down and tackle me because I can guarantee it’s an imposter. I never put myself through that kind of torture.

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One of my husband’s lovely cousins grabbed the camera off me a few times through the day to make sure I was photographed too. It was very sweet and I’m so grateful to have these images. Note to self: phone does not belong in the pocket of this dress!

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In other news, my sister in law (to be, at that stage) asked if I’d make her a dress to wear to her reception. She pretty much had the same pre requisites as me, but wanted a sleeveless dress and something with a lot of skirt.

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She came over and we sat together in my sewing room, digging through my patterns. We settled on Simplicity 8013, which is a reissue of a 70s faux wrap dress. There is a massive 8 metres of rayon in this dress, it’s a huge fabric hog. The skirt is made up of big panels all gathered together and it’s so delightfully swishy and full. I fully lined the bodice to eliminate the facings and provide a bit more coverage because the fabric is so light.

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It was very nerve wracking sewing for someone else, especially someone with a body shape so different to mine, but it all worked out ok in the end. She looked so beautiful moving around the reception.

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PS I made the flower girl dresses too.

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And if you’ve made it this far, well done. Here’s a gratuitous selection of images from our stay. Yes, I made the boys’ shirts too. Ok, enough words.

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We Are Helping, We’re Helping Hands {MBJM Hot Coffee Top in Spoonflower Fleece}

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Recently, the lovely Allie from Spoonflower got in contact to ask if I’d like to take part in another blog hop featuring Australian makers – they kindly provided the fabric of my choice but my words and opinions are my own (as always). They’ve also provided 10% off their fabrics with the code katie10 (valid for a month).

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Since winter is on its way, I chose this awesome print by Amy Blackwell on Spoonflower’s fleece and used the MBJM Hot Coffee pattern. Even though I’ve blogged makes from this pattern before, this version was my very first jumper from it.

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Let me tell you a bit about winter where I live. It’s mild. Google tells me the average winter temperature is 22 degrees celsius (that’s 71.6 F). It’s a nice winter, some people even swim all year round because the water is still quite warm (Google also tells me the average is 21.4C/70.5F, so pretty much on par with the air temperature). So the southern states do smirk when we complain about the cold. Let me tell you something else though, our houses are built to keep the heat out. We have homes equipped for summer, but not really for winter. For that reason, it can be a balmy 22C outside and a chilly 15C inside the house. I have been known to go outside and lay on the lawn in the sun, trying to warm up like some kind of pale, blonde reptile.

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There is a point and I’m getting to it. On the days when I’m stuck inside, either at the sewing machine or computer or maybe even just on a Netflix binge, I like to wear an oversized, cosy hoodie to keep me warm. In the past, I’ve pinched my husband’s hoodies, but sometimes he needs them, so it’s nice to have my own.

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I was excited to get my cool handsy printed fleece and sew it up into a big snuggly hoodie. When the fleece arrived, I was a bit surprised. I’m not sure what I was expecting – maybe something like what we get here called polar fleece – but it was definitely different to that. It was quite dense, almost like a felt and it really had very minimal stretch. I figured I’d wash it, tumble dry it and then reassess. Turns out the washing and drying process fluffed it up quite a bit and it came out softer than it had gone in. It was still very different to what we call ‘fleece’ here, but it didn’t feel bad – just different.

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My measurements put me in an XL for this pattern, but I erred on the side of caution and made a 3XL to account for the minimal stretch (the pattern asks for 50% stretch) and because I wanted it to be quite big. I don’t usually like ribbing on the bottom of my jumpers, so I left that off and lengthened the pattern slightly to compensate. The kanga pouch sits on the bottom of the jumper between the main fabric and the ribbing, so I had to change my construction process slightly too, but it worked out fine.

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I wasn’t keen on the ribbing I had for the cuffs, so went a bit fancy and used stretch velvet instead. It’s not as stretchy as ribbing, so I did cut them a bit longer. I also needed to take about 2 inches off the sleeve length. The inside of the hood can be self lined or you can use a contrast. I used the wrong side of a grey printed fleece scrap I’ve had  in my stash for ages.

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Most of it was constructed on my overlocker and I used my new bestie, lightning bolt stitch for the hems and pocket. It is quite a quick sew (I think about an hour from cutting to finishing) and the fleece was really nice to use too – it didn’t slip or slide or stretch out of shape like polar fleece can.

Awesome prints in sweater knits are really hard to find (especially here), so it’s great to have the custom print option in fleece. I know this one will get a lot of wear, so I’m already planning another. Bring on winter.

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