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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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.

 

Over and Over and Over {sewing a gathered skirt}

webDSC_5950I sew gathered skirts all the time, pretty much always following the same basic steps. If you’re new to sewing, let me tell you a little secret – they are pretty damn easy to make. And you don’t even need a pattern. Not really.

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Gathered skirts are made up of a few parts:

  • The front skirt panel. I make mine the width of my fabric, cut on the fold.
  • Two back panels. As above, but cut down the fold (this is where we add a zip). The best part about gathering is that you can make it fit into your waistband without any maths. WIN.
  • Waistband. Mine is curved and in three pieces (one for the front, two for the back. Again, for the zip). It’s from a vintage pattern and I use it so often because I know it fits me well. You can do one big long strip if you prefer. I like curved waistbands because I have a big difference between my hip and waist. Flat waistbands tend to gape in weird places on me.
  • Pockets if you want them (you want them). You can hide them in the side seams or sew them on as patch pockets.

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Once you have the basic shape down, you can change things up a bit. Like adding buttons down the front and omitting the zip at the back.

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But howwwwwwwwwww? Well, there are a pile of excellent tutorials online, so I won’t make another.

Here’s one from By Hand London.

And this one is for kids but the process is the same. I like to sew my zips in this way.

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I made no effort to pattern match this one, but hey – look at my cool metal zip.

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After you have the basics sorted, you can move onto sewing with really cool fabric, like this Alice McCall embroidered mesh. I lined the whole thing with black cotton lawn, which sounds intimidating, but really all I did was make another skirt. Then they both get gathered into the waistband. Not hard at all.

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This is my latest, she’s pretty right? The fabric makes it next level fancy. I know you probably want to know where everything is from, so I’ll start from the top.

Rad galah fabric by Mount Vic and Me via Spoonflower.

Tulip and bunny fabric by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller (possibly out of print).

The Twits fabric is furnishing fabric found on ebay.

Alice McCall mesh from The Remnant Warehouse.

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Now go on, make some skirts.

 

 

Rainbow {Vintage Simplicity 7189}

I know. Now I’m just showing off.

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You’ll remember good old S7189 from the lipstick skirt I made a while back.

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It’s a bloody gem. I wear it all the time. I love those giant pockets and the way it wraps around the back. Yes, another wrap thingy. That’s two in two days. Buffet breakfast come at me.

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If you haven’t noticed the fabric then you’re obviously not a child of the 80s and we can’t be friends.

Just joking. We can be friends. Please?

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YEAH IT’S RAINBOW BRITE! So cool. It’s a poly cotton I scored on ebay. I’m generally not a poly cotton lover but I’m ok with it when it’s a print that’s hard to come by. It actually drapes really nicely and won’t need ironing, which is a bonus. The pocket and tie facings are in gingham, just for fun and to break up the print a bit. Small black dog growing out of me is an added bonus. He’s a ninja, I didn’t even realise he was there.

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Weeeee! I’m an adult!

Pockets for Days {Vintage Simplicity 7189}

Another vintage Simplicity! WHAT? I know. But hold onto your hats ladies and gents, because you are about to get eleventy billion more vintage makes. Why? Because the kindest lady that I’ve never met got in contact with me recently to ask if I’d like her grandmother’s pattern stash. OMG WOULD I?! She brought four (4) boxes of patterns over for me on Tuesday and I was immersed into some kind of sewing nirvana for a good couple of hours while I went through them all. Amazing. Some kind of good karma thing happening there. Anyway, there’s a lot of vintage Simplicty (and all the usual others, plus some Australian mail order 1950s ish gems too). It’s just too good. I want to sew them all. But I had to start somewhere and this is it.

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Look at those 70s babes with their floofy hair and swagger. How could I resist? (Disclaimer: not my pattern envelope, I stole it from the internet. My pattern was sans envelope but pattern was uncut. My copy is a size 14 (waist 28 inches – lol).

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More info? Ok. Pattern is vintage Simplicity 7189, which you can read about here. Fabric is rad old Robert Kaufman. It’s splendid.

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It’s wrap skirt! Hooray! I love a wrap skirt. And check out those pockets. Are they not the best you’ve ever seen? Actually I have a bit of regret about the pockets. They sort of make me cross eyed because the print is so nuts (even for me). I probably should have done the body in black and maybe just used the print for the top, but never mind.

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I must gloat about my first ever successful intentional pattern match. I was worried about breaking up the print on the centre front seam because they are in such obvious lines and I knew it would bother me if they didn’t line up. But look! I did it! I’m still not really sure how, but I’ll take it.

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Fit stuff: wraps in general are pretty forgiving, size wise. As I mentioned above, this pattern is for a 28″ waist. Mine fluctuates between 31″ and 33″ right now. I graded the pattern up just slightly by adding 1.5cms to the side seams and waistband and it works. There’s still plenty of coverage where the panels overlap in the back. I can pull it tighter or looser depending on how much I have for lunch. Win win, really.

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The skirt is full, but not a circle. Maybe a half circle? Definitely not as fabric hungry as the McCalls wrap circle skirt (good option if you’re keen on this style).

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What else? Oh if you’re wondering about the wrap mechanics, you just leave a small gap in the waistband on one side so you can pull the tie through. It’s a pretty quick sew because there’s no buttons or zip to worry about.

I see more of these in my future!

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Palm Springs {Butterick 6285 + Circle Skirt}

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I like variety. I like change. It’s the reason I change my hair colour all the time, I’ll experiment with a new recipe every week and sew from new patterns quite often.

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Basically I have no loyalty (unless you count coffee and my hairdresser, because I’ll never stray from them).

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I also have no loyalty to a particular era of fashion. I will jump through those decades backwards and forwards all week. Sometimes it’s 70s tops and skinny jeans, sometimes it’s a perfect 60s swing coat and sometimes it’s a boxy 80s dress and Dr Martens. Some days I’m firmly planted in 2017 in leggings and a band t shirt. The silhouettes of the 50s are home to me though. That’s the era my favourite dress pattern in the world comes from – the one that started my business. And I do love me a circle skirt. That shit is timeless.

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I don’t even have a proper pattern for this one. It’s the skirt pieces from one of my dress patterns and a waistband from another. I add pockets and a petti and I’m good to go. I know you want to know the details, but they aren’t all that helpful this time around!

Circle skirt: cobbled together from a couple of different patterns, side seam pockets added.

Top: Butterick 6285 (it’s a knit wrap top and I made it a while back. It pre dates the blog actually).

Skirt fabric: From a tiny local shop that mostly does alterations and sells upholstery fabric. This lucky score is sateen and 150cm wide, making it ideal for big circle skirt pieces.

Petti: Hell Bunny.

Shoes: Swedish Funkis.

Pin: Colette Patterns.

Sunnies: Le Specs.

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Circle skirts are a great project for beginner sewists because they go together pretty quickly and easily. You’ll need to learn how to insert a zip, but after that you’re basically invincible. I added buttons to this version, but you can take the zip all the way through the waistband instead.

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I have two hot tips though:

  • Let that sucker hang, unhemmed for 24 hours. Because the skirt is cut on the bias, it can stretch over time. Hang and then trim if you need to.
  • The hem is never ending and a bastard because you’re trying to tuck a wider piece of fabric into a narrower one. You’ll get puckers and may even cry. I either overlock the raw edge and fold it over twice to create a super narrow hem or I use bias binding. I don’t pin for either method.

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Today I swished into the bank and around the local grocery shop like this. Tomorrow I’ll be slouching around in jeans and a jumper no doubt. But how good is it that we have the choice?

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A Piping Good Time {Sewaholic Alma Blouse}

A month or so ago, I sewed up two pairs of Closet Case Files Carolyn PJs. The first a flannelette pair without piping and the second a quilting cotton pair with piping. I was putting off the piping version because (like all things new to me) I was nervous and whiney and a bit lazy about it. Turns out that it was actually pretty simple and piping makes shit look rad. It’s true. Gives it a bit of something.

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Fast forward to yesterday when I was ummming and uhhhhing over the best way to use my delightful Liberty fabric. Yes, Liberty. Fancy as heck. Actually when it first arrived I wasn’t sure what the big deal was, but after a wash and a press it is so lovely and soft and really nice to sew with. I was contemplating yet another Sudley, but decided in the end that it would be really nice as a Sewaholic Alma and I hadn’t made one in a while. But what would I wear with it, besides jeans? All my skirts are prints. Wardrobe gap! Decided to make what I’d been putting off for a while (because, plain black and maths – yawwwwwn), a box pleated skirt in black sateen. Oh yes.

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Details here:

Sewaholic Alma Blouse from Sew Squirrel

Liberty Lawn from The Remnant Warehouse

Black Sateen from East Coast Fabrics

Piping on rolls was an op shop score.

The skirt was really basic – I just played with pleat width until I could fit the skirt panels into the waistband (15cms x 3). There’s a side zip and a side seam pocket on one side. I made it a couple of inches longer than normal so I can wear it when I’m working. I added piping to the top and bottom of the waistband. web-3185After a tip from one of my FB sewing buddies, I enclosed the raw edge of the waistband facing in satin bias binding instead of folding it under. Not the neatest finish, but a nifty way of getting rid of bulk and not having to worry about catching both sides of the waistband when stitching from one side.

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I’ve made a few Almas, they go together as per the pattern except for a couple of changes – I add an inch or so to the hem as I tend to wear them with jeans and like the extra length and I also omit the zipper because I don’t need it. This time of course, I added the piping and I’m freaking proud of that collar. All the practice is paying off. Oh and the sleeves on this baby are different too, I stole them from a dress pattern. I love that little pleat.

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Hot tips:

A zipper foot works brilliantly for piping.

Pull a bit of cord out of the piping so you can keep it out of your seam allowances. Your sewing machine will thank me.

Pinkers are really great for trimming the seam allowances of the collar to get it turning really nicely.

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All done. I was going to add a little cuff underneath the piping on the sleeves, but I wasn’t sure if it would make it look too much like PJs. Not sure without either, really. I might go back and add it.

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Ok so maybe together they’re a bit matchy, but I love both anyway. And they’re super comfy!

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My favourite things.

I thought a nice, sensible way to start my blog would be to list some of my favourite patterns and designers as I’ve trialed many over the years. Let’s just say I can be picky. I have very three very specific prerequisites and I rarely stray from them. I like my upper arms covered, I like my thighs covered and I like pockets. The latter being the most important, obviously. I must stop right here and add the disclaimer that I don’t believe in ‘fashion rules’, I loathe the word ‘flattering’ and I will fight to the death against anyone that tries to convince anyone else that they need to cover up certain parts of themselves. Basically, you wear whatever the hell you want and no one can tell you otherwise. So while I have no issues with whatever anyone else decides to cover or uncover, I am more comfy with sleeves and knee length skirts. With that said, here are my favourite patterns.

  1. Emery Dress by Christine Haynes.I have made so many of these. So many. Sometimes I make them with a fuller gathered skirt, sometimes with a circle skirt, sometimes with the slightly gathered A line version straight from the pattern. You can see below I’ve also made a more scooped neck, maxi version and also a bit of a heart cut out back version. It’s a dress that goes together in the most lovely, simple way and it is suitable for those of us with a curvier shape. Boobs and hips, if you will.

2. Sudley Blouse by Megan Nielsen.

Oh Sudley, how I love thee. A relative new comer to my stash, she became a firm favourite right away. And to be honest, I bought Sudley for the blouse version – but on a whim decided to go with the dress first. I’m yet to make the blouse *cough*. This is my ideal beach dress – no zip, no buttons – just a straight over the head, easy peasey, comfortable as heck dress. A nice change to the structured ones I usually wear. Perfect for a slightly dusty feeling Sunday too. Did I mention it’s reversible? REVERSIBLE. It’s another that goes together really nicely and pretty quickly because there are no darts or closures. The trickiest bit is that lovely bias facing, but there’s an excellent tutorial for that here.

 

3. Simple Gathered Skirt

Ok, so this is kind of cheating because it’s not really a pattern, but it’s something I make all the time and is super easy. I have a curved waistband from a vintage pattern that I know fits me well and I use it for pretty much every skirt I make – I just gather skirt panels the width of the fabric I’m using. That’s it. One on the fold for the front, two panels for the back and a zip up the back. So easy. Gathering is great like that because you can just make it fit. I line up the centre front of the skirt to the centre front of the interfaced waistband and add pockets. Sometimes I maxi them, sometimes I add buttons down the front instead of the zipper – but they’re all basically the same.

 

I have way more to share, but those are definitely the three that I’ve sewn the most.