Things I’ve Made Lately But Have Been Too Lazy To Blog {Woven Edition}

Here we go again, a bunch of recent makes that don’t really require a blog post of their own – this time in woven.

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This one is good old peak 80s, Simplicity 5884. The cool thing about this one though, is that I designed the print. You can find it here.

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Next up, another version of my old faithful self drafted (Joan) dress. This time with a collar and metal zip. The magic here though is in the fabric, obviously. May Gibbs artwork is quite iconic and I bought this sheet from Kip and Co because I needed to wear it on my body.

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New fave: McCalls 7834. I’ve made this twice so far and I’m not gonna lie, I could go another one. This particular version is made from rayon from Spotlight. I made the straight 16, but mine seems to have much more ease that those pictured on the pattern envelope. I changed the sleeves on this one too. Next time I might size down but I’ll definitely need a FBA. It’s comfort city and probably makes me look like a blob of leopard, but I seriously don’t care. I’ve worn it heaps since I made it. I can’t remember if the pattern has you interface the button placket (I mean, why wouldn’t you?!), but I did. I also interfaced both pieces of the collar and stand, because rayon.

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Another comfy rayon (again, Spotlight) sack, this time dashing back to the 90s to steal the big collar, empire waist vibes. Simplicity 8602 from 1993, to be accurate. I love the sleeve length of this one, which I adjusted to be between the short and long length. I also added the bottom ruffle, which it probably doesn’t need but I was just so in love with it on the leopard dress. It’s becoming quite the autumn staple as well.

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Next. Grown up Wednesday Addams. Simplicity 4119 from 1952. That’s a 67 year old pattern, friends. She’s pristine, she’s got no printing – just notches and punched out holes. I felt kind of bad unfolding it all because it was so perfectly preserved in the envelope. But patterns are made for sewing, right? Luckily I’ve made enough Carolyn PJs to know how the collar needs to be constructed so I didn’t really need to refer to the (very brief) instructions.

It’s a bit of a funny fit, as these vintage patterns can sometimes be. I graded it up slightly, after comparing it to my most loved, self drafted bodice (see above), but in the end I took it all back it. There must be an unbelievable amount of ease in it, since the pattern is a 34″ bust and I’m a 42″. I used cotton shirting with a slight bit of stretch so the fit is more forgiving. I love those gathered darts, but they need to be a big bigger at the waist for me. I also shortened the bodice a bit too much. I think next time I’ll make those cuffs a bit bigger so they can be buttoned together.

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And finally, McCalls 7200 in another of my own designs and printed on Crepe De Chine from Spoonflower. A very quick and simple make, but another that will see me through until winter. I made the length somewhere between the short and long versions on the envelope and laughed in the face of all the hand sewing the instructions request. I tacked the band down at a few points (back of neck, shoulders and bottom hem) so it stays put a bit easier. The CDC is very flippy floppy otherwise and there’s no interfacing in the band.

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All finished, well done.

 

Things I’ve Made Lately But Have Been Too Lazy to Blog {Knit Edition}

Title is pretty self explanatory, right?

Here we go.

The Sweetheart Top from Gertie’s Casual Vintage book. I designed the print and ordered it on the modern jersey from Spoonflower.

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I used the scraps of the fabric to make myself an Ohhh Lulu Romy bra and matching (self drafted) knickers. The nice wide elastic is from Darn Cheap Fabrics. Strapping and findings are from Booby Traps.

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Next up, I tried out the new Made For Mermaids Lana bra pattern. I used excellent Ellie Whittaker swim fabric, swim lining and foam. Sadly, I wasn’t impressed with the pattern – it didn’t have different cup sizes for each band size, which is a bit odd. Apparently that has been rectified now though. I enclosed all the seams, although the cup/band seam isn’t enclosed on the pattern. The whole shebang kind of looks weird on me, so I sent it to live with my mum. Excellent fabric, ok pattern. I’ll stick with my faithful Romy though.

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This next one has become a wardrobe staple, so I will share lots of pics. I wear it all the time. Like ‘drag out of the washing basket the minute it is dry’ all the time. I love love love it.

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Fabric is cotton lycra from Nerida Hansen and I used the Tilly and The Buttons Agnes top pattern, shortened to hit me at the waist and then added a basic gathered skirt. I gathered with elastic for the first time and let me say, I am quite the convert. It’s a good method. Ooh, I also added sleeve ruffles.

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Another success was this baby, a Made By Jacks Mum Hot Coffee Top. It’s just a really basic jumper pattern, with the hood and kanga pocket options. I kept this one simple, but as usual, cut the 3XL instead of the L because of the minimal stretch in the fabric (unbrushed fleece from Spotlight – I know, how good are they getting with their prints?!). I also increased the length so it covers my bum and left the ribbing off the bottom.

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And finally, a raincoat. Fabric is just called ‘raincoat’ and when I saw it in Spotlight, I knew I needed a puffin raincoat, obviously. Similar to PUL, but not actually PUL. I didn’t have a raincoat pattern, so just used the above MBJM hoodie pattern with a couple of little modifications (sized up again so it could go over other clothes, lengthened so my butt doesn’t get wet, added extra for a CF button placket and used a facing for the hood instead of lining). The fabric sews ok, as long as you are sewing with two wrong sides facing the foot and plate. It’s got a wee bit of stretch. As soon as hemming etc is involved, that thing sticks like a nightmare. So I ended up using lightweight sew in interfacing between those sticky parts and then tore it off later, which worked well. I haven’t done any waterproofing of seams, but it seems pretty watertight. I have only been out in regular rain though, not torrential downpours. Which I’d never be in, on purpose anyway. This works for rainy school pick ups.

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Ta da! Things I’ve made lately that aren’t exciting enough to deserve their own post.

 

 

Spoonflower Denim Hop {Thurlow Shorts}

The nice folk over at Spoonflower have once again asked me to work with some of their fabric, this time it’s their Dogwood Denim and coincides with a promo that they are running – 10% off 1+ yards of their Celosia Velvet, Dogwood Denim, Linen Cotton Canvas, Lightweight Cotton Twill and Cypress Cotton Canvas from February 7-February 10. There is no promo code required.

The fabric was sent to me free of charge but as always, my thoughts are my own.

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When Spoonflower first emailed me to ask if I would take part, they did suggest that I use the denim for a home decor project, rather than clothing as it is quite a heavy fabric. But since home decor isn’t really my thing, I decided I’d throw caution into the wind and make something to wear out of it anyway.

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The obvious choice would be jeans, of course. But since we’re currently averaging 32 degree (about 90F) days, I thought shorts would be a better choice. And because I’ve recently made Sewaholics Thurlows and wear them a lot, I knew another pair would be a welcome wardrobe addition.

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Right, fabric base sorted. Pattern sorted. So time to browse the huge range of prints Spoonflower has on offer. Now you know I’m a crazy print lady through and through, but I thought making something slightly more neutral would make the shorts more wearable. So what better than this mudcloth inspired print by my friend Michelle Aitchison. In a delightful dusty pink, no less. SOLD. I was pretty impressed when it arrived – the colour was nice and saturated and it washed and dried very well, without any fading.

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I did make a few changes to the pattern and the construction to make sure I wasn’t sewing through too many layers of denim (FYI it’s 395gsm or 11.7oz per square yard and doesn’t have any stretch at all, it’s more like a traditional, rigid denim). Firstly, used a heavy duty size 100 denim needle and sharp scissors. I used a lighter weight quilting cotton for linings and facings wherever I could and I finished raw edges with my overlocker before sewing pieces together, so I could press them open to avoid added bulkiness at the seams.

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It all worked really well, the only sign of a struggle was stitching those belt loops down along the top of the waistband. I’d already anchored them at the bottom by basting them on before adding the waistband, instead of sewing them on after the waistband is finished, as per the instructions. I think the finish is nicer and it’s another way to avoid added bulk.

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I treated these like a bit of a jeans hybrid by adding extra top stitching, a jeans button and a metal zip. The later two were op shop finds from a long time ago. See? It does pay off to grab stuff for ‘one day’.

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Oh yeah, she’s a fancy summer girl.

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Her welt pockets still need a bit of work, but the fit on these is pretty damn good, if I do say so myself.

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And on fit – for my first pair I made a straight size 12 and had to take them in a huge amount at the centre back seam. I quite like that method, by the way – you leave the CB seam open until the end, baste it and then try on. It means you’ve still got a bit of leeway for fit. For this version though, I graded down to an 8 at the waist and kept the 12 everywhere else. Mwah mwah! Tip top fit. Sewaholic patterns are geared towards those of us with a smaller waist and bigger hips and thighs. NOTHING fits me in the thighs straight out of the envelope, but these did. Happy jiggly thigh dance.

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Do love these, would 100% make again from the Dogwood Denim. I think as long as you make provisions for the heaviness of the fabric and use the right pattern, you’re golden.

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I managed to make a tote bag (using this pattern) out of the scraps too.

 

Man Sewing {Thread Theory Fairfield Shirt}

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So hello, here we are in 2019. The shirts in this post were sewn last year though, it’s just a lengthy process trying to get my husband in front of the camera. Shirts though, I’ve found a love for them over time. The little extra details and the fiddly bits are all quite rewarding when you pull them off. It’s a bit like bra sewing, I guess – little details that will make you yell, either in frustration or jubilation.

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I bought the Thread Theory Fairfield pattern during the black Friday sales, so it was quite a bargain. I grabbed the PDF version because they had an A0 option (I was NOT taping this sucker together) and toddled off to Officeworks to print it. I toiled this shirt because upon googling reviews, I ready many times over that it runs small. As in, comes up smaller than the finished measurements on the pattern. I measured my husband according to the very helpful Sewalong and his measurements were all over the chart. Apparently he has a big neck (really, though? I don’t think so) as well as long arms (that’s true and unsurprising for a 6’4″ human). So I toiled and made the medium, graded up to the large at the neck with some added length for height. And what do you know? It came up too small all over – even though he fit smack into the body measurements.

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Anyway. For his next version, I went with the size large, but graded down to a medium at the shoulders and armscyes and up to an extra large at the neck, as well as adding some length to the sleeves and the body, once again. And hey, look – that fit is pretty good! Still too tight at the neck (doing the top button up is uncomfortable) but he doesn’t mind as he never has a reason to button all the way to the top. This version is made from some really lovely Egyptian Cotton shirting from The Remnant Warehouse.

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New work shirt for the worker. I photographed it untucked to show the length. But he wears them tucked for work. Actually, this is a problem with RTW for him, shirts tend to be too short and they come untucked easily. Not this one though.

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I enjoyed making that one and learned so much that I immediately cut out another in this Dear Stella quilting cotton. I know, quilting cotton. The big companies have realised we use QC for clothes now though and some of them feel amazing. This one drapes really quite nicely and so does the Art Gallery range. I love them.

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As a rule, he’s not much of a print wearer, but when this fabric arrived I asked if he liked it and to my absolute shock, he said yes. He later told me it’s because it reminds him of Sailor Jerry rum, but whatever, I jumped on the idea of making him a shirt with it.

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Same process again, you can see the detail that has gone into designing this pattern. Every seam is enclosed, whether it’s frenched or flat felled. Flat felled armscyes scared the hell out of me at first, but the instructions are awesome and the sewalong is really helpful too and honestly, the end result is so worth it.

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It was also my first time doing tower plackets and now I love them.

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So here we have a happy husband. One new work shirt, the other more of a casual Friday thing. And a wife that is pretty bloody chuffed with her efforts, just quietly. Yes, he grew a beard between shoots. He does grown them quite quickly, but it does show how long it took me to get him into it.

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Getting Shirty Again {McCalls 6696 hack}

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Remember a while back I mashed a few patterns together to come up with a shirt pattern that fit me without gaping? The perfect collared shirt. Here it is, just in case you missed it. Anyway, I thought it was about time I turned that sucker into a dress, because why not, right?

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I mean yeah, I own McCalls 6696 and have made it a few times, just like every good sewing blogger ever. But I usually ended up sewing the button placket shut and putting a zip in the side because it really needed an FBA that I was too lazy to do and honestly, the collar is massive on that thing. I don’t know if I’m particularly short-necked, but it always felt oversized and grazed my chin.

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Stuff I changed:

  • Shortened the shirt front and back pieces to finish at the waist.
  • Gathered the back piece between the darts to fit it into the waistband (stolen from the original M6696 pattern).
  • Just did a regular old gathered skirt, with pieces the width of my fabric.

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Nothing groundbreaking. Besides, I’d made the shirt before, so didn’t think I’d have to change too much.

LOL.

Famous last words.

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Guess whose weight fluctuates like a yoyo and probably should have tried on her old versions of this dress first? Yeahhhhhhhh. When you think about it, shirts are pretty forgiving if your weight has changed, but fitted dresses with waistbands are less so.

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Things to change for next time (because yes, I forget stuff and often refer back to my own blog for clues on how I made things in the past. Apparently I donated my memory brain cells to my children):

  • Β Take in the shirt a smidge at the centre front (those bust darts aren’t sitting where they should be and there feels like there’s excess fabric in the centre).
  • Take in the waist band a little bit also.
  • Shorten the bodice pieces a bit more so the waistband hits my actual waist.
  • Remember that I’ve given my collar and collar stand pieces a 1cm seam allowance, not 1.5cms.
  • Perhaps try to put the buttons and buttonholes on the correct sides next time.

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On the plus side, she’s very wearable and the extra room will be good for Christmas eating and I’m just being nitpicky, really. How good is the fabric? It’s by Alexia Abegg and I got it here. I’m such a sucker for the darker, tarot-esque/witchy/mystical themes. Meanwhile, I already have plans for my next one. There’s something that feels super fancy about a proper collar and collar stand, as well as functional buttons allllll the way down. I love it.

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True Blues {Ellie Whittaker Swim Fabric + McCalls 7168}

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A while back, my lovely friend Ellie was in the super exciting phase of bringing out with her own line of fabric. She’s been a successful textile designer for a long time, but getting it manufactured herself was the next big step. She kindly sent me a few metres of fabric for feedback, in both swim (one metre of each in True Blues and Gone Coastal) and cotton sateen (two metres of the Sydney to Hobart print).

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I used the sateen first to make one of my self drafted Joan dresses. Don’t let the name fool you – it’s soft and drapes beautifully, absolutely nothing like the medium weight sateen you can buy at Spotlight. And the best part? It’s 145cms wide. SO WIDE. I cut my skirt the full width of the fabric and it’s so delightfully swishy.

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In my earlier days of sewing, print was king (and I guess it still is really), but you know what’s queen? Bloody wide fabric. Such a treat. Full skirts, circle skirts, mega bell sleeves. All the fun stuff that won’t fit on quilting cotton at 112cms. And that drape? Did I mention the drape? Ha. It’s on par with rayon.

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Next I used the 80s-esque, Aussie inspired Gone Coastal swim. What’s not to love? The colours are saturated, the fabric base itself is a nice weight – suitable for swimmers, but probably not heavy enough for leggings.

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Pattern is a bit of a mash up that I’ve made many times before. Here and here.

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These have had a lot of use so far this season and are holding up very well, the fabric still looks new and I know Ellie has done a lot of wash tests too. You definitely don’t get that kind of dedication from most suppliers!

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Which brings me to yesterday. Swimmers aren’t a new thing for me, but I’ve never actually sewn with a dedicated swimwear pattern. Weird, right? I tend to just adjust lingerie patterns most of the time, swapping picot for swim elastic and gussets for lining. I have had McCalls 7168 in my stash for quite sometime now though and I fully admit I’ve opened that sucker multiple times, looked at it and put it away for another day. It’s a sort of choose your own adventure thing, which is fine but there’s just SO MANY PIECES. Plus I read that it runs big and some of the construction stuff is quite WTF. It was just so much easier to use the patterns that I know and love.

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Well yesterday I decided to face that challenge head on. I figured it would be nice to have a different silhouette for a change. Ellie favours nice big prints, so unless I did yet another one piece, I had to face the fact that these lovely octos were going to get cut up. But I didn’t want to cut into them more than I absolutely had to, so figured the bandeau top from M7168 might be a good idea.

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I decided to go the whole way out of my comfort zone and went with the ruched bottoms. I have a negative association with ruching in general, not the look but how it’s consistently marketed as ‘tummy flattering/disguising’. Blerk. I do think it looks cute though and in this pattern it’s on the hips anyway, so decided to give it a whirl. I love the vintage vibes it has, I did not enjoy the process. Ha. Probably because I ignored the directions all together. The pattern has you cut those ruched side panels 3 times (well six if you count that you cut each one twice) – one big long one that gets gathered to fit (fine), one lining piece that’s smaller and ungathered (also fine) and another in the main fabric the same piece as the lining. WHAT?! WHY? More bulk at the leg holes to fold over and add elastic? Ugh. Seems unnecessary. Turns out though, it is necessary really, because it gives your ruched panels a size guide and extra support. Ooops. In the end I just measured the lining pieces and gathered the panels to that size. I stand by the fact that it would make for super bulky seams though.

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Still, I got there in the end (even if I did sew my waistband with the centre seam at the front instead of the back. See? I’m not immune to silly mistakes even after all this time). My measurements put me across a couple of sizes (40/31/42 – that’s an 18 for bust and hip and a 14-16 for waist) but I made the straight 14 because of the Big 4 pattern companies love of ease, even for things that are supposed to stretch. I also compared some of the pattern pieces to my tried and tested swimwear patterns, just to check the size was in the same ballpark. In the end, the bottoms are a smidge tight and the top had to be taken in, but nothing major.

I knew I wanted foam cups in the top for extra support, but adding those to the lining has really changed the construction process. There is supposed to be gathers under the bust, but of course, that couldn’t happen once the cups were in. Not a big deal though and I’m glad I added the cups because there’s no way I would feel secure without them. I used these cups and this lining from The Remnant Warehouse.

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I really need some kind of FBA for this top, which would really just involve adding height, I think. Also for the busty among us – the instructions tell you to just use fabric for the straps, but past experience has taught me I definitely need the additional strength of elastic in my straps, so keep that in mind. I think next time I might make the flounce wider too. And speaking of the flounce, the instructions want you to hem it, which I definitely did not do. This fabric won’t fray so I really couldn’t see the point of mucking around with the narrow hem on knit fabric.

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All in all, not a bad pattern, but I think there are definitely parts of the construction that could be improved for a cleaner finish. And one that does need adjustments if you are a bit bigger in the bust. Fabric is wonderful, of course. I’ve been a big fan of Ellie’s for a long time and this new range is super exciting. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

 

Slowly, Slowly {Sewaholic Thurlow Shorts}

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Well. Aren’t I the silly one? I have had this Sewaholic Thurlow pattern for years. YEARS. Around five years. And I’ve never made it. Why? I think it was my first ever pattern with a fly and I was like, oh hell nooooooo. Later on, after I’d conquered the fly, I dug the pattern out again and was like, welt pockets? Oh hell nooooooo. You get the idea.

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And even more recently than that, when I was digging for a shorts pattern, recent trials and tribulations of jeans fitting, crotch curves, flat butts, mystery drag lines and all that stuff made me think again. Did I really want to go there?

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Well, in a blast of self confidence (which happens every now and then), I decided that yeah, I did want to go there. Let’s do this. I was comforted by the fact that Sewaholic draft for a pear shape. Now, I’m a bit of an hourglassy pear, but obviously shorts don’t take the bust into account, so that smaller waist/bigger hip and thigh draft is perfect for me.

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Add to that a bit of leopard sateen action from The Remnant Warehouse and I was sold. I need leopard shorts in my life.

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I chose the size 12 based on my measurements and was cruising along through the instructions which, I admit, are a bit on the sparse side but hey, I’ve made jeans before so this was all relatively familiar territory. Until I hit those terrifying welt pockets. Right, Google? Anyone?

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And honestly, bless Google and bless Lladybird because I found her sewalong from 2012 and mate, she dug me out of that welt pocket hole with ease. Seriously, how did people learn shit before the internet?

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Cue gratuitous bum and welt pocket shots. You’re welcome.

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All downhill from here right? Well, kinda. This pattern has you leave the waistband and half the shorts open at the centre back seam for easy fitting. Pretty cool when you think about it.

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The thing is though, I had to take a lot out – somewhere in the vicinity of about four inches. I took as much out as I could without ending up with kissing welt pockets and distorting the back beyond recognition. They fit ok, but as I’ve worn them and they’ve relaxed through the day, I really need a belt on.webDSCF1725

I’m wildly happy with the fit around my bum and legs though, so I think next time I’ll either grade down at the waist or use the current waistband and just take some darts out from the pattern piece along the top.

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I’ve discussed this before, but I’m not much of a shorts wearer because I basically carry half my body weight in my thighs, but screw it – I need more of these.

 

 

 

Giddy Up, Jingle Bell… {Butterick 6453}

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There isn’t anything ground breaking in this post. No new skills or anything like that. In fact, I’m really only posting it for two reasons – for recording keeping (I often look back over past posts when I can’t remember when I made something or what changes I made) and for vaguely smug reasons.

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This time last year we were madly preparing to head over to Samoa. Christmas was not even a blip on my radar. By the time we got back, Christmas was here and I was in a mad rush to get everything done before December 25th.

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But not this year, this year I am org-to-the-anised. Oh yes. What a smug bitch. This year, this amazing Jocelyn Proust fabric jumped out at me at Spotlight sometime in September and I bought enough to sink a small vessel. Shirts for the boys (the little and the big) plus a dress for me. Did I have very cheesy Christmas photos in mind? Perhaps. I’ve always wanted cool ugly Christmas sweater photos, but you know, it’s the opposite of sweater weather here in December. Unless you mean literally sweating, which is accurate.

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Anyway, I digress. Here is good old B6453 in a cheery Aussie Christmas print from Jocelyn Proust. I don’t have much to say about this pattern, I’ve made it before and I like it a lot. I’m weird about no sleeves sometimes, but the pattern is too sweet to resist. It goes together really nicely and I very much like the way the facing is done. Two things though – it has a shit tonne of ease, so if you don’t want it to fit like a sack you should size down AND the skirt should be much fuller than this but my fabric was only standard quilting width (112cm). I could have added panels for extra fullness but I only bought 2 metres because I’m stingy like that.

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Anyway, it came up tip top and I love it. I also made the shirts for the little guys about 6 weeks or so ago, but they haven’t worn them so there’s no photos just yet.

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And so anyway, while I was washing my Christmas fabric and feeling organised and smug, something pinged in my lizard brain. Oh yes, I had ordered Christmas fabric from Spoonflower last year but had left it too late and it arrived in January. Right. Where was that cute pink Santa fabric?

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AND, in a weird twist of meant-to-be-ness, my friend Jen from Fussy Gus released these women’s tees and I needed one, of course. Because they’re amazing. And it just so happened that the pinks involved were a match made in outfit heaven. So hey, it’s a two Christmas outfits kind of year.

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For the skirt, I literally cut the curved waistband pieces (my standard curved waistband that I use for pretty much everything, just extended at the front for buttons and reduced at the back because there’s no zipper – does that make sense? Tell me if it doesn’t), and then used the rest of the fabric for the skirt. So it ended up midi length and gathered the full width of the fabric. And I love it. Suitably comfortable for Christmas festivities, whatever they might be.

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So one shirt to go for the husband and maybe I will finally get my cheesy Christmas photos this year. Fingers crossed. Husbo will be suitably horrified but generally humors me regardless.

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Fries Before Guys {Sewing Swimwear + Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes}

webDSCF1193Look, I’m a bit of a fraud because my body tends to reject chips (fries, chips to us here in Australia), even though I love their crispy, carby, salty goodness. Most of the time my skin is like ‘nah, we aren’t about those anymore. Have some acne for your attempt, though’. Who could resist this print though? It’s a bloody winner.

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I know you want to know where the fabric is from and what the pattern is, but you’re going to hate me for it. The fabric (which is swim) was a pre order from Indie Skye fabrics and I don’t tend to go for pre orders because I’m damn impatient and hate waiting longer for my fabric than is entirely necessary. But I decided this fabric was worth waiting for. The lining is lightweight swim spandex from The Remnant Warehouse because it has a bit more body than regular old swim lining. And it’s nicer to sew.

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What else? Well there’s some foam (complete with my markings still, please ignore. But it is good to mark all the points on your cups so you don’t sew them around the wrong way, they look very similar) from Sew Squirrel, underwire casing, underwires, swim elastic (all from The Remnant Warehouse also, from memory) and some sheer cup lining for the upper cups and bridge (pretty much because I wanted those pieces to stay stable and maintain their shape). Also there’s some boning in the side seams of the bra portion, which is just cable ties cut down.

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Pattern, well bear with me for that one. The lower portion is Megan Nielsen’s Rowan bodysuit. If you’ve read posts on my one pieces before, you’ll know I’ve used this many, many times. I like the fit. Obviously I line it, eliminate the crotch snap part of it and bind or band the legs, but you could use swim elastic and fold over too. I have big legs, I don’t really need the elastic to pull everything in. I just use good old zig zag because I don’t have a coverstitch machine, I hate twin needling and even though it’s very Becky Home Ecky, if someone on the beach is judging my zig zag, that’s their problem. Because they’d have to be in my lap to see it and that would be weird. You know they aren’t though, just as they aren’t judging my body. But more on that later.

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So, the bra part. I know, it’s a bit of sorcery and I wasn’t even sure that it would work. In fact, I was almost positive that it wouldn’t and I’d try it on and have cups folding over and boobs heading towards their old friend, my belly button. I figured I could add straps at the end if I wanted to, but I also wanted to just see if it would work. FOR SCIENCE. You know I love bra sewing though. I love the challenge of it, I love the precision, I’ve even grown to love the little 1/4″ seams. I love watching cups go from flat to boob shaped with foam and wire, I love making the finish really lovely and enclosing the seams. It’s just my happy place. You know?

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If you’ve been following along lately, you’ll recall my strapless bra journey. The new guy is the same pattern, shortened, with a bit taken off the upper cup (because it was too high and also to compensate for not folding over with the picot) and boning left out of everywhere except the side seams. On that note, I think the boning is part of the engineering magic. It stops it from wanting to roll down with the weight of my bust. Also, those extra long wires help for the same reason. The keep it tacked to my chest and in place under the arms.

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Here are some technical construction and fit notes you can scroll past if you want:

– Stabilising the bridge with bra lining (which is strong but super light) stops it from stretching out and distorting the cups shape. But it also makes the whole thing a bit harder to get into. Next time it might be wiser to add some sort of closure – either a zipper down the front or some kind of clip at the back. I do like the comfort of not having any closures though.

– To make sure the bra part would fit on the body part, I just lined up the pattern pieces. They were super close and I didn’t need to change a thing. I cut the back band piece of the fold and there’s no hook and eye like on the bra versions. This made it a bit smaller across the back, but the fabric has a bit more stretch than the traditional power mesh band of the bra version, so they sort of cancelled each other out.

– I was very close to cutting the upper cup pieces out of swim lining, but realised my bra versions have no stretch there, which is really important – it needs to hug in close. If it stretched out, there might be some gaping and more risk of a wardrobe malfunction. So I used the very stable bra lining there too.

– Contrary to popular opinion (I see this all the time in sewing groups!), the foam is for support, not to enhance bust size. If the foam wasn’t there, the whole cup portion would drop. Same for sports bras, especially if there’s no wire. I often see people request sports bra patterns without wire OR foam, stating that they are already big and don’t need extra padding. But foam is great for support and is often necessary for bigger bust especially. Don’t fear the foam. I’ve used straight stitch to top stitch the cups (instead of zig zag) because they don’t really stretch and I don’t want them to. The foam has a tiny bit of give, but not much else. But you can totally use zig zag if you prefer the look.

– The only other part that made me stop and think was how to finish the top of the cups. In my bra versions, I’ve used picot because I like the look and the finish. It’s a bit too ‘I’m a bra’ for swimmers for me though and using binding in matching fabric is usually the way I finish raw edges. Obviously in strapless swimmers, the top part really needs to stay put, so rather than just using strips of fabric as binding (which doesn’t need to be cut on the bias like woven, FYI), I used swim elastic in there too. Same method as usual, which is putting a bit of tension on it all the way around so it hugs towards the body. There’s a little mention of that method in my video here, but in relation to finishing the leg openings.

– I decided to run the binding all the way around the top edge, as opposed to finishing the bridge first without binding (ie sewing lining and outer fabric right sides together and flipping, which is how I generally do my bras) and finishing the upper cups before adding them into the frame for a couple of reasons. Firstly to minimise bulk. The binding plus elastic adds a fair bit of bulk, which in turn makes it harder to sew down the underwire casing at the underarm and bridge. Much easier to sew over everything at the end. Plus, I would have had to fiddle around with seam allowances at the upper cup – cut them down to counteract the fabric lost when folding over picot to make sure it lines up with the finished bridge. God I hope that makes sense. It’s really hard to explain. Anyway, much easier to cut the upper cups down as needed to line up with the bridge once they’re already sewn into the frame. Then bind the whole thing in one hit.

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As usual, I’ve used far more words than I had planned. If you have any technical questions, just comment and I’ll try to answer. I’ve never had any proper bra training, but have learned so much from trial and error. And what is that sensible black skirt I’m wearing? Is it a skirt?

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No! It’s the Tania culottes in linen from Potter and Co! Trickery! This is the updated version, which Megan so kindly sent me. Its now got pockets and extended sizes. Truly one of the most wearable things I own, especially for work. Photography work, that is. I’m often getting down on the floor and these make it much easier. The only change here is that I’ve used my own curved waistband, because as I’ve mentioned many times in the past – rectangle waistbands don’t work on this short waisted, curvy body. There’s too much of a difference between my hip and waist measurement and I get gaping in the front and back. Imagine pinching a dart out of the top of the front and back waistband pieces – that’s the shape I need.

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So, back to the swimmers. I’ve tested these babies in the pool and they passed with flying colours. The real test will be in the surf. But I can still add straps if required, probably removable ones so I have options. I really like how these have turned out.

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If you’re anything like me, you might have some of those pesky voices in your head – you know the ones, they like to say mean things and make you feel crappy about putting on your swimmers and enjoying yourself at the beach or the pool. Mostly I can shut them up, but there were a couple of persistent ones when making these. The first being that strapless things are for smaller bodies, particularly slender arms and backs. The other one was the fabric. Weirdly, I have had issues about wearing food prints before. I know it’s ridiculous, but I felt like I was saying ‘hey! look at me wearing food that contributes to this fat body!’. So with this fabric screaming its fries-positive message, all I could think of was people would look at me and think, ‘well, obviously true for her’. I know how crazy that sounds. And I’m wearing them anyway, because I made them and I’m proud and I love how fun the print is. So there, voices. You can shut up now.

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Wattle It Bee {Megan Nielsen Wattle Skirt}

My titles are getting worse, I know.

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A while back, lovely Megan asked if she could send me one of her new patterns and said she thought I’d like her new Wattle skirt. She thought correctly. It has the same waistband options as her Flint pants, which I also love.

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I made view D, which is a bias cut skirt with tie closure. I used this lovely Art Gallery Bee print and even though it’s quilting cotton, Art Gallery has this magically soft drape about it, which makes it not bad at all for a skirt like this. Although, apparently my ironing skills could use some improvement – no surprise there.

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Like the Flints, the skirt has an opening in the left pocket, which is how you get into it. There is a button and tie to secure it. It all came together very quickly and simply for me, but I have made similar in the past so there was nothing new to learn.

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I did eliminate the centre front seam because I was reluctant to cut through the bees. Next time, I’ll take a dart out of the top of the front and back waistbands, which I should have done from the beginning. Flat rectangle waistbands just don’t work on a short waisted, curvy chick like me. Curved waistbands sit much smoother.

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My top is a bit of a hack of a dress pattern (Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap dress), which I made a few changes to so it works as a top, including changing the sleeves to bell sleeves. This is my second version, it just needs a couple of more changes to get it right. It’s slightly big for me all over, particularly in the shoulders and armscye (more so on my wonky left shoulder). I do love this red and pink striped rib from The Remnant Warehouse though, it’s got retro 70s vibes.

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I do feel slightly Christmas themed in this outfit and I’m excited about starting to get into the spirit of things.