Crocodile Rock {Simplicity 8342 hack}

webDSC_5315

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).

8342

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!

webDSC_1282

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.

webDSC_5367

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.

webDSC_5319

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.

webDSC_5320

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.

webDSC_5316

Easy.

webDSC_5328webDSC_5333

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.

webDSC_5317

webDSC_5360

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

webDSC_5339

webDSC_5375

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…

 

 

Advertisements

Knocking Off Ready To Wear Again {Patterns For Pirates Peg Legs}

webDSC_8870

I apologise in advance, because this is one of the most boring blog posts you’ll ever get from me. It’s about black leggings. I’m not really selling it, am I?

webDSC_8854

(From left to right: Cotton On leggings, Clio plush leggings, cheapy ebay Pegs made by me and wool blend Pegs made by me).

I read something recently where someone described sewing basics as ‘less icing, more cake’. That really resonated. When I started, all I wanted to sew were all the pretty dresses (and I still do), but there’s a lot to be said for owning damn comfortable basics.

webDSC_8856

Winter in my part of the world is pretty mild, so I can get away with wearing dresses and skirts as long as I wear tights, boots and a cardi. Fleece lined leggings are my favourites and get a lot of wear (look at that pair second from the left!). I’ve noticed them start appearing in shops in the form of active wear too and what can I say? It’s love. And since my resolution this year was to avoid buying things I can sew, I went on a mission to find fleece back spandex. Which means I asked a sewing FB group. And they delivered.

webDSC_8857

(Spenno wool blend).

The first recommended was an insanely cheap ($5/m!) nylon blend from ebay. I must admit, I had my doubts. When it arrived, it looked much the same as the fabric the Clio leggings are made from. Plush back with a definite nylon looking outer, with a bit of a sheen. Not bad though, especially for the price. I was pleasantly surprised.

webDSC_8872

(Cheapy fabric).

I figured this pair would be worn mostly under dresses and skirts, so I used the plain Peg Legs pattern with the low rise waist and contour waistband. They are comfy as hell, but that’s exactly what I expected, I love the Pegs pattern. These poop all over the RTW versions I own.

webDSC_8873

(And cheapy fabric).

High waisted, forever ❤

webDSC_8903

(Spenno wool blend).

The second fabric recommended was a pricier wool blend for $40/m from Homecraft Textiles in WA. It wasn’t on their website, so I emailed and arranged to purchase. They were very helpful. When it arrived, I was underwhelmed. The outside has a slight rib through it and the fleece is more of a reddy brown than black (not that it matters to me at all), but other than that, it looks and feels a lot like the ebay fabric. I thought it would have more of a matte outer. I guess time will tell with how they wash and wear. This fabric got sewn into a pair of Pegs with the add ons – side panel and pockets, with the same old low rise waist and contour waistband, because we already know how I feel about that combo. I figured this pair could be more for dog walking on chilly mornings. Or just hanging at home doing nothing, whatever.

webDSC_8907

Same high waist that does not require constant pulling up.

webDSC_8885

And there ends the boring black leggings chatter. I also made my t shirt. It was a bit of a Jalie men’s t shirt hack experiment out of lightweight cotton jersey. A bit too lightweight judging my my hems. But again, comfort is king.

webDSC_8877

 

 

Sweater Weather {Made By Jacks Mum Hot Coffee Top}

webDSC_7866

webDSC_7879

Pattern: MBJM Hot Coffee Top

Fabric: Mostly from Spotlight, although it doesn’t seem to be on their website.

webDSC_7869webDSC_7953

Except we say jumper, not sweater. Although more accurately, these would be hoodies. And I know this is mostly kid sewing, so sorry. Here’s the thing though, finding patterns for older boys is hard. Much like shopping for clothes for them. Seriously, look at the boys sizes 10-16 in a shop some time, they have about three racks worth and the girls equivalent is at least triple that.

webDSC_7904webDSC_7877

Luckily, these two still want me to sew for them. And when I saw this french terry in Spotlight, I couldn’t resist it. It ticked all the boxes – print not too young, suitably modern and really lovely quality. The right side is almost like a heavy cotton lycra, with a lovely soft brushed fleece underside. The grey ribbing is also from Spotlight, the grey fleece is the wrong side of another sweater knit off cut and the olive and white striped fabric is cotton lycra picked up from The Remnant Warehouse.

webDSC_7942webDSC_7917

As for the pattern itself, there is an adult version (used here) and a kids version (Hot Chocolate). I bought the adult sized one for myself and was pretty happy to see the boys would fit into the XXS from the adult version, which is about a size 12 in the kids. I even broke my ‘no PDFs if there’s no A0’ rule and bought it. The sticky tape fest wasn’t too harrowing for this one.

webDSC_7965webDSC_8140webDSC_8171

The pattern has the option of a hood, a round neck or a cowl neck and can be made with or without the kanga pocket. I chose to leave the bottom band off these as I don’t love the look. Both boys could do with a little bit more length to combat that next time.

webDSC_7900webDSC_7901

I even made a basic round neck version for myself, which happens to be my second version but the first is a special collaboration and is under wraps for a while yet.

webDSC_8079

My measurements put me into the XL, but I sized up to the 3XL because I wanted something quite oversized and the fleece didn’t have as much stretch as the pattern asked for. The ribbing however, had too much stretch. I ended up cutting off the cuffs and making them smaller. I really should have done it for the neckline too but I didn’t have quite enough ribbing left. It’s still very wearable and one of the softest jumpers I own.

webDSC_8088webDSC_8024

Sorry for the photo overload, it was just such a magic afternoon down at the beach. I should really shoot down there more often.

webDSC_8168

 

Here’s To You, Mrs Robinson {Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap Dress}

Pattern: Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap Dress (designed for knits)

Fabric: Stretch Velvet from Spotlight

(I’ve decided to start putting the pattern and fabric info at the beginning of the posts so they’re easier to find. Let’s see if I remember to do it on future posts…).

webDSC_7127

I’m not quite sure why this dress gives me Mrs Robinson vibes, maybe there’s something about the combination of a wrap dress and velvet that’s a bit old Hollywood for me. Who knows? I’m rolling with it anyway.

webDSC_7129

I’ve had this pattern for ages. Possibly years. What has stopped me from sewing it? Reviews. Whenever I’m about to sew something, I google the pattern and see if anyone has had issues with it. It’s a generally very helpful process and I do recommend it. This one repeatedly comes up as too short, too wide at the neck, too low cut and with a flippy facing.

webDSC_7094

Right. Too many things to consider, until now. Because really, they aren’t things that are too enormous to fix. And you know, we’re all unique snowflakes and what is a problem on one body, might work on another. Plus I’ve seen a bit of this getting around and I wanted in:

PRIP-WD332_V1

From here.

But I decided that to make it more wearable, I’d prefer it shorter. I mean, I have a tendency to overdress for most occasions anyway, but even I wouldn’t get much wear out of a longer length, deeeeeeep necked velvet wrap dress. Besides that, there’s probably not enough tape in the world to keep my top half contained. It does remind me a bit of the most made and blogged dress ever, Vogue 9253. Or this one, if you like the mullety hemline.

DSC_7132

webDSC_7136

Into my patterns I launched and came up with the Ultimate Dress pattern that I’d never made. Ooh why? Googling again reminded me. Right. This can be fixed though. I held the pattern pieces up to my body in the most accurate and scientific fashion.

webDSC_7087

The back of the neck didn’t look too wide for me, so I left it as is. I added 8cm to the hem to combat the short length (It’s so short. I could have added more length – I’m only 165cm and really used to shortening everything) and took a wedge out of the front neckline at about the midpoint. This is a really standard wrap adjustment for me. I’m short waisted, so they are always too long at the actual wrap part. This increases the coverage too.

webDSC_7086

My measurements (40/32/40) put me in a 16 for the bust and 14 for the waist, but I cut the 16 as knits and wraps tend to be pretty forgiving and I wanted to make sure I had enough coverage. As it turns out, I’ve tied it as tight as it allows, so I might grade it down to the 14 at the waist next time.

webDSC_7133

So that just left the facing. I knew I didn’t want it, not only because it was said to flip to the wrong side (annoying) but also because I knew you’d be able to see the edge of it through this fabric. Stretch velvet is a bit unforgiving like that. So I decided to band it. I cut a length of the fabric in the direction of the stretch (this only has stretch in one direction, which is good, because otherwise the dress would grow in length), after measuring the length of the neckline all the way around.

webDSC_7134

I cut it at 80% of that measurement and stretched it slightly as I went to make sure it sat snugly against my body. As it turns out, it was too long but that’s fine because I could just cut the excess off when I was done. The only problem with this method is there’s not a nice, neat way to add the ties (they’d normally go under the facing for a clean finish. I think that’s the only real issue with banding this dress. I lined the stitching of my ties up with the stitching of the hem so it’s not noticeable from the outside and honestly, they are wrapped over themselves anyway.

webDSC_7138

I constructed most of the dress on my overlocker, so it’s a really quick sew. It doesn’t have a waist seam either, making the cutting part quick too. I finished all the raw edges (hems, sleeve hems) with the overlocker too, then used that stitching as a guide to fold it over twice so the hems are narrow but nice and even. Stretch velvet doesn’t really press, so this is an easy way to keep it under control without pulling your hair out and throwing things. I only really used my normal machine to hem, attach the ties and finish the edges of the little gap in the waist for the ties. I just used straight stitch too because those parts don’t need to stretch so there’s no danger of popping stitches.
Hot tip: Don’t cut your ties along the stretch! Cut them so they have as little stretch as possible. I’ve made this mistake in the past and they just keep growing.

webDSC_7074

The only other thing I changed was the sleeves and I just stole them from another pattern and adjusted the sleeve cap to fit. And I put them in flat instead of set in, because it’s about 1000 times easier. I think changing the sleeves has brought it dangerously close to dressing gown territory, but with shoes and face I think we’re good.

webDSC_7089

All in all, quite a successful sew considering I’ve avoided this pattern for so long! I like the curved hem and how quickly it all came together (bless knits). The fit ended up pretty spot on and I’ll definitely make more because it’s really comfortable. I love a wrap dress but wovens are far less forgiving fit-wise, knits make it easy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wiggle It, Just A Little Bit {Patterns For Pirates Wiggle Dress}

webDSC_6609

Ah the Wiggle dress. You might not be part of many sewing groups online, but I am. And for a while, you couldn’t innocently scroll through your feed without someone extolling the virtues of the Wiggle Dress pattern. It got recommended any time anyone asked a question.

‘I need a dress pattern for date night!’

‘Wiggle Dress!’

‘I need a dress pattern for a ball!’

‘Wiggle Dress!’

‘I need a relaxed casual dress for a BBQ!’

‘Wiggle Dress!’

‘I need a pattern for my husband’s work shirts!’

‘Wiggle Dress!’

‘I need a cure for bed wetting!’

‘Wiggle Dress!’

You get the idea. It’s basically the sewing pattern equivalent of coconut oil. It got a bit weird and culty.

webDSC_6606

webDSC_6610

For me, it was my introduction to Patterns For Pirates. I saw one of the pattern testers post the dress somewhere (see? online sewing groups aplenty) and impulse bought it. Not really considering the fact that I’ve never worn anything so fitted ever – let alone sewn something like it. But it looked so cool, you know?

webDSC_6666webDSC_6665

Still, I wasn’t really sure it was for me and in a weird way, the crazed fans sort of put me off it a bit. So it got shoved to the back of the pattern stash for a while.

webDSC_6652webDSC_6649

Recently I bought 3m of this cotton lycra from Spotlight with the intention of making a Kielo dress, but my toile ended up being a disaster and to be honest, I don’t even want to look at the Kielo again for a while. I was digging through my patterns and wondering what I could do with the fabric when I found the Wiggle dress again. Enough time had passed that I decided to give it a go.

webDSC_6658

It has a variety of length, sleeve and neckline options but I kept it simple with below knee length, half sleeves and the boat neck with scooped back. It’s so straight forward that I didn’t bother with the instructions and added a neckband because it’s my favourite way of finishing knit tops. My only pattern adjustment was to shorten the front and back pieces above the waist point, which is a pretty standard adjustment for my short waisted self.

webDSC_6653

I like it more than I thought I would, although I do feel quite out of my comfort zone wearing something so fitted all over. Cute fabric though and I’m pretty damn pleased with my stripe matching effort.

 

Bra-Bra-Bra, Bra-Bra-Bra-Anne {Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra}

webDSC_4859

Over the weekend I had a craving for some rock solid bra sewing. Can you have sewing cravings? I do. I love bra sewing for the same reason I love swimwear sewing. It’s very different to sewing a dress, it’s a bit challenging and it’s one of those things that really throws people when you tell them you made it. I always feel very accomplished when I have a bra that fits.

webDSC_4861

Of course, the extra level in bras is the fit. Especially wired bras. I always say that sewing them isn’t the hard part – it’s the fit that can drive you nuts. Once you have that down though, you’re golden.

webDSC_4921

Even though these aren’t my first Marlborough bras, I went the extra fitting mile this time and compared wire sizes to my breast root. This basically involves standing topless in front of a mirror and holding up a variety of wire sizes along the underside of your breast to check which size fits best. Then you make the bra to fit the wire, rather than buying wire to fit the bra you made. The theory is the fit is more accurate and I totally agree.

webDSC_4919

So, turns out I had been making the correct Marlborough size all along (a 40D, although my measurements put me in a 40B according to the pattern), but using a slightly different wire size has really elevated the fit. They are so comfortable. I used to scoff when people would say that you don’t feel the wires in a correctly fitting bra, but it’s definitely true in this case.

webDSC_4883

webDSC_4882

The floral print in the first bra is Cotton and Steel cotton spandex jersey. Not recommended for this particular pattern because it stretches, but I’ve lined it with bra lining to counteract that. The fabric for the second is a rigid lace from The Remnant Warehouse and the fabric for the third is some sort of mesh with velvety stripes (also from The Remnant Warehouse). I wasn’t even sure that fabric would work for a bra because it’s quite heavy, but it turned out really well. All are lined with bra lining and the seams are enclosed.

webDSC_4862

webDSC_4886

All the side panels in the knickers are non stretch, which meant I compensated by cutting the front and back panels a bit bigger. The top pair use that lovely cotton lycra for the main part and I’ve used nice stretchy black spandex for the other two pairs. Bra hardware, strapping and elastic is all from Booby Traps.

webDSC_4901

Is there anything that boosts your self esteem like well-fitting, comfortable lingerie?

 

 

This Is Australia {Next State Print Active vs Spoonflower Sport Lycra}

You know what’s cool? Being able to print your own designs onto the fabric of your choice. Now, I’m not clever enough to be able to design my own fabric, but I know what I like. Sometimes you’ll find the right fabric in a print that blows your mind, sometimes you won’t. Especially when it comes to fabric that is suitable for swimwear. It needs to be a magical combination of either polyester or nylon and spandex (or lycra, which is just the brand name for spandex).

webDSC_6988

I mean, where else could you find Iced Vovo fabric but Spoonflower?

The more I sew swimwear, the more I crave those unique prints that tickle my fancy.

Like these moths from Andrea Lauren on Spoonflower:

webDSC_6004

And these little babies from Ellie Whittaker on Next State Print:

webDSC_4758

That’s right, Australians. Next State Print (based in Melbourne and possibly the most helpful company around) now offer their own version of activewear and swimwear fabric. So of course I had to order a metre and test it out as I really wanted to see how it compared to the Spoonflower Sport Lycra. Because: (a) I’m nerdy like that and (b) I really like to support Australian businesses when I can. Also, I reallllly like the Spoonflower lycra, so could another product compare? Let’s see.

webDSC_4759

Here are the stats (I told you I was a nerd):

Content:

SF: Polyester (88%) and lycra (12%)

NS: Polyester (80%) and spandex (20%)

Width:

SF: 142cm

NS: 140cm

Price:

SF: $32USD/yard (approx $41AUD per 91cm, if we’re getting picky)

NS: $37/metre

Stretch:

Now, if you’ve seen my last post, you’ll know this is a tricky number to nail down.

SF: Claim 75% in one direction and 50% in the other. I honestly find this hard to believe. It’s much firmer than that.

NS: No stretch listed but it’s stretchier than the Spoonflower version.

Sorry it’s not a more exact science than that.

webDSC_4668

General feel? They both feel good. Both are a decent thickness and nice quality. If you haven’t used digitally printed fabric before, know that they have their limitations and are different to their screen printed cousins – it’s the nature of the beast. But what I have found is the colour and quality is much more vibrant on synthetic fibres (like spandex) than natural fibres (like cotton).

webDSC_4704

The Next State Print Active is definitely lighter and stretchier than the Spoonflower Sport Lycra. But it’s also silkier and softer. It does work out a bit cheaper but of course, they don’t have as much variety in their prints as Spoonflower. My Spoonflower swimmers have been washed and worn many times now and are holding up well, I will update what happens with the Next State version as I’ve only just made them and worn them in the pool today.

webDSC_4682

Oh and if you’re wondering about this swimsuit, it’s a hacked version of Megan Nielsen’s Rowan pattern, which I’ve also made here and here. It’s a good one and I love it.

 

Let’s Talk About Stretch, Baby {Patterns For Pirates Peg Legs}

I apologise in advance, this post is going to be all over the place.

So hey, how confusing is stretch stuff? Pretty bloody confusing. There’s all those different combinations of compositions – poly/spandex, nylon spandex, cotton lycra….

Then there’s percentages of stretch. Wat?

webDSC_4719

Oh yes, not all stretch is created equal. Especially when you don’t have a fabric shop nearby and you’re just going by website descriptions. Let me explain…

When I made my very first pair of Patterns 4 Pirates Peg Legs, I used Spoonflower Sport Lycra. The pattern calls for at least 50% stretch in both directions, the sport lycra claims to have 50% in one direction and 75% in the other. I made those babies according to my measurements and could not get them beyond my thighs. WTF, man?!

webDSC_4323

If you’ve felt the Spoonflower Sport Lycra, you’ll know it’s pretty heavy and firm. Don’t get me wrong, I love the stuff and have used it for many pairs of swimmers. But 75% stretch? Nah. I even emailed them to double check and was assured the website is correct. So I’m not sure what I’m missing or what sort of sorcery this is, but it’s puzzling.

webDSC_4359

So moving right along in my peg journey, I ordered this rad printed poly/spandex blend from fabric.com. It’s described as an athletic knit with 10% stretch. Wait, what?! 10% STRETCH. FOR ATHLETIC USES. NO.

webDSC_4361

By this stage I’d lost my faith in the accuracy of any stretch percentages on websites. Whatever, I like the print let’s give it a whirl. When it arrived, it felt exactly like the Spoonflower lycra – not hugely stretchy and also quite thick. Definitely more than 10% though, for sure. Anyway, I sized up to an XL in my pegs pattern to compensate for less stretch and here we are – leggings that fit.

webDSC_4753

Interestingly, I ordered this awesome scale print spandex at the same time and fabric.com lists this one as 30% stretch. It honestly feels the same as the one above to me. Same legging size cut, fit is the same. So this description is possibly accurate.

webDSC_4722

PS I love them.

PPS I’m bad at yoga. Actually my physio banned me from yoga because I’m too bendy.

webDSC_4746

Can do a handstand though.

Making your own leggings is amazing. These ones fit properly, they don’t creep down and they are squat proof – no transparency in the butt region at all. Eleventy billion times better than RTW. But yes, stretch percentages and buying online is quite the mine field. Sometimes you just have to take a gamble.

 

 

How To Sew A Rashie and Matching Bikini Bottoms {Megan Nielsen Rowan and Acacia}

webDSC_3086webDSC_3096webDSC_3092

What I’m using:

Megan Nielsen’s Rowan and Acacia patterns.

A stretch needle  in my sewing machine, but not in my overlocker.

Swim fabric (spandex/nylon blend) from Pitt Trading.

Swim lining (bottoms only) from The Remnant Warehouse.

A chunky plastic open ended zipper (51cm) from Spotlight.

A couple of strips of light to medium weight iron-on interfacing.

 

I’ve used the turtle neck t shirt pattern pieces from Rowan, but instead of cutting the front pieces on the fold, they’ve been cut into two pieces with a bit of seam allowance added for the zipper. I’ve added the same allowance to the neckband piece. The first video covers the basic construction of the rashie – sewing the front pieces to the back and sewing in the sleeves.

The second video shows how I add sleeve bands instead of hemming the sleeves and also adding the neck band.

The third and final video shows how to interface the front edges to stabilise them before adding the zip. Then I finish off the neck band and hem.

 

Super awesome bonus round:

Making matching, fully lined bikini bottoms from the free Acacia pattern!

I make swimmers from underwear patterns quite often and this is something I get asked about all the time. What takes something from knickers to swimwear? Let me show you. Spoilers: Fabric choice, lack of gusset, including a lining and leg and waistbands instead of picot.

I also added some height to these are they are quite low.

welcome

webDSC_3107

webDSC_3117webDSC_3115

How To Sew Swimmers {Lots of video tutorials}

webDSC_1282

webDSC_1314

I did it you guys. I made a stack (seven, to be exact) little video tutorials on how to sew swimmers. I’m pretty tired. Please excuse the way I bumbled through it. Hot damn, I learned a lot of new stuff. I do hope this helps if you’ve been looking for a few hints on sewing your own swimwear.

webDSC_1308