Holiday Wardrobe Preparation {Megan Nielsen Flint and Rowan}

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Ah, Flint and Rowan. They go together like peas and carrots, don’t they? I’ve made both before – Flint pants here and Flint shorts here. Rowan was more recent and a stretched a bit further than the original pattern into a swimsuit.

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I love my past Flints but unfortunately they’re a bit big now. And an upcoming holiday is the perfect reason to sew another pair right? This time from sweet drapey tencel that I picked up at Spotlight. The Rowan body suit is lovely soft Timeless Treasure cotton jersey from fabric.com.

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I went for the tie version on the Flints and couldn’t help but to brighten the inside a touch with a vintage fabric covered button (I pick these up  from op shops, but they are often just singles, which is perfect for this use) and some rayon off cuts. The rayon is the right weight for lining the tencel. I think quilting cotton would have been too heavy.

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The closure on the Flints is pretty magic. It does your head in a little bit while you’re sewing them, but the instructions are really great and you just have to trust the process. There isn’t a zip, you just get into these bad boys by opening the pocket. Superb.

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The Rowan bodysuit has nice details at the closure too. There’s not a fancy way to say it, but at the crotch. But who doesn’t love a fancy crotch? The facing pieces can be cut from just about anything. I used some soft lawn scraps I had. It’s a nice detail. Oh and I used those old metal snaps because I don’t have a snap press, which would obviously look much more professional. Still, they do the job and I can’t feel them at all when I’m wearing it.

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So size wise the Rowan is perfect (straight large) but the Flints aren’t. To be honest, my body has changed a fair bit over the past few months and I’m still getting used to it. It seems it doesn’t matter if it’s weight loss or gain – it can still feel like your body isn’t quite yours when it changes. I made the straight medium in the Flints because I went by my waist measurement. I thought there would be enough ease in the hips and thighs but I really should have graded out to the large. My waist seems to be about a size different to the rest of me at the moment and I’m not really used to my new proportions yet.

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They’re not as swingy as I’d like, but they’re still wearable. And who knows, my hips could catch up to my waist eventually. One can only hope. But even if they don’t, that’s fine too.

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I know there’s a few sewists who’ve eliminated those front pleats, but I actually quite like them. They bring out my inner 80s mum chic.

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Girt By Sea {Ken Done Smock Top}

Ken Done, what a legend. If you’re Australian, you’ll know him. If you’re not, let me explain – Ken Done is an amazing artist best known for his bright imagery of Australian landmarks. I remember his work was huge when I was a kid in the 80s, my Mum had one of his bags and every second person would have had something featuring his artwork in their house.

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(Image from Time Out Sydney).

A good friend of mine, let’s call her Phoebe (coz that’s her name) has been keeping her eyes peeled for all things Ken Done for me. She’s the best shopper of vintage I know. She found this doona cover for me via a seller on Instagram. Of course I had to snap it up immediately. It’s languished in my sewing room for the last couple of months while I decided what to do with it. I can’t just be cutting into Ken Done willy nilly, you guys.

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As it turns out, I’ve been working on a big collaborative project with some very talented women lately (more about that in a bit), so I’m currently feeling quite a bit of love for Australian designers. I was admiring my Ken Done again and decided that it was going to be an Illawong top. This style of top is something I sew up and stock in the shop and was inspired by a 70s girl’s smock top pattern. It has a yoke (which I usually sew in a contrasting fabric) , bell sleeves and an oversized fit. They are super comfortable and a great top to wear with jeans. I will often wear them when I’m photographing as I can bend and move and not worry about flashing anyone. I generally make them out of lawn or rayon because they need something with drape, regular old quilting cotton is too rigid.

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The old doona cover was so washed and worn that it had softened over time and I knew it would work in this style, I’m pretty sure it’s a poly cotton blend.

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Yep, it works and I love it. I kept the Ken Done signature (?) and made sure I cut it so that it could be seen (it’s on my left shoulder in the pic). The yoke is from the bottom of the fabric which has a bit of a border print.

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So what’s the other project I’ve got going on? It’s Girt Squad and you can follow along on Instagram and Facebook. It was started by the lovely Ellie Whittaker, who has designed some pretty damn cool work for a bunch of us makers to use to create a cohesive and unique collection. If you’re been following me for a while, you’ll know I’ve used a couple of Ellie’s prints in the past. I love those bright Aussie themes.

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We haven’t launched yet, but it won’t be too long now! I’ve created a completely brand new design for Girt Squad and can’t wait to share it. Wait until you see what the other ladies have come up with, it’s pretty amazing. There will be women’s and children’s clothing, accessories and home decor – all available in the one shop. Stay tuned…

 

Thrifted Fabric Weekend {Ohhh Lulu Kate Camisole}

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Hello again. I know, two posts in two days. Who even am I?

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I know I’m generally anti PDF pattern, but I make an exception for Ohhh Lulu because she’s rad and also lingerie pattern pieces tend to be quite small so there’s not a whole lot of cutting and sticking paper together.

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That said, the Kate Camisole (pattern here!) is cut on the bias so the front and back pieces are entire (not place on fold pieces) – does that make sense? So they are a bit bigger and there was some cutting and sticking required. But I survived.

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There’s not much to this one, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t make mistakes! Oh no sir! Would have helped if I’d read the instructions properly, but honestly, I’m like a bull at a gate. MUST. SLOW. DOWN. The bias tape is meant to be bias facing, not binding. I used it as binding for the front. Oops. Too lazy to fix it though and it ain’t so bad. Sarah has a super helpful tutorial for this, which can be found here. I recommend watching it before you sew, not after like I did.

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There are a number of variations on this pattern and I chose the lace back, she’s pretty cool right? The lace has a bit of stretch so I made it more stable with elastic (which is an option in the pattern instructions). It’s not scallop lace, but it has all these rad shapes in the fabric so I just cut around one of them and it’s the perfect size, really. I didn’t use sliders on the straps because I found they were a bit short on me. Next time I’ll lengthen them a bit.

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Oh the fabric. It’s another op shop score. Same shop as the hanky panel fabric from yesterday, actually. It’s most definitely polyester but handled a hot iron really well, so I didn’t even have to swear or cry. I have a feeling it’s vintage, but I don’t know for sure. I only had about two metres of it, so it was perfect for this project – which uses a bit more fabric than you’d expect because of the bias cut thing. I’ll definitely be making this one again.

 

It’s Not You, It’s Me {Sew House Seven Tea House Dress/Top}

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It was a post on Cotton and Steel’s instagram that started it all for me. They’d shared a post by Sarah who’d made the most stunning version of this dress from C&S rayon (her design). I bought the pattern less than five minutes later. I so rarely do that. I’m allergic to PDFs so bought the paper version and had to have it shipped from the US. But I just had to have it. And usually I’d sit there an imagine what fabric I’d use and how I’d make it mine, but I really just want an exact copy of Sarah’s dress. To be fair, I think she’s a legend and I love pretty much everything she does.

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The pattern arrived yesterday after about a week or so of winging its way across the seas and I basically ignored my to do list, shoved everything off my desk (not really), traced it out and decided I needed to sew this RIGHT AWAY. Problem was, I didn’t have any suitable fabric. Which seems hilarious if you’ve seen my stash, but most of it is quilting cotton and this dress really needs something with more drape. I dug around and pulled out a few options before actually reading the back of the pattern. I knew the dress was fabric hungry (4.3m) and though, no worries – I’ll make the top first. HOW SENSIBLE OF ME. It would be a toile of sorts and I never make them. But heck, if there’s fitting issues it saves wasting 4.3m of fabric (how on earth do people think sewing your own clothes cheap? Quick calculation: 4m x $20/m = $80 vs about $30 for the Target equivalent. Anyway, I digress).

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Turns out the top likes a bit of fabric too (3.3m) and the only suitable amount I had was some outlandish faux silk that I grabbed from Spotlight over a year ago. Now don’t get me wrong, I love this crazy fabric. But it’s pretty bright, even for me. Still, I love those Ken Done/Gorman vibes it gives me. What I don’t love? It behaves about as well as a three year old getting dragged through Woolies right on nap time. After a birthday party. And after you took their party bag away. A ticking time bomb of antagonism. Dramatic, no?

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I had been saving it for a skirt, but nup – I had to make this top right now. She’ll be right, mate. No she won’t. The pattern is amazing, truly. Yes, there are a number of pieces but the instructions are very clear and detailed and it is finished beautifully. That was part of the problem. My darling faux silk doesn’t want to be pressed. You can’t have the iron too hot or the fabric will melt but even if pressed under another cloth, she just wanted to spring back up like nothing had ever happened. She could not be steamed into submission. Which was a big problem for that front yoke. Ugh. It’s making me cringe to show you, but I have to.

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Really I should unpick that whole front yoke and hand sew it into place. I might. But I probably won’t. About halfway through I realised I wasn’t going to love it as much as I wanted to, but continued because I’m stubborn like that. Look at the cool yoke and box pleat at the back though. I love the whole Japanese vibe. No closures and the obi style belt ties make it super cool.

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I thought maybe wearing it with ripped skinny jeans would make me feel less high school art teacher and it actually does. But I’m still on the fence a bit. I will definitely make the dress version, but I just need the right fabric. I know it will redeem itself.

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I probably just need to give it a week or so and I will change my mind. To be honest, it’s been a rough week or so. I wasn’t going to talk about it, but a few people have commented, so here’s the overshare. Yes, I have lost some weight. I have been plagued with weird skin problems since I was 14 and at the age of 36, I am done with it. So done. My doctor’s final step was to try some heavy medication that I wasn’t comfortable with so I took matters into my own hands and overhauled what I eat. And guess what? It worked. For the first three months my skin was the clearest it’s been in my adult life. With that change came some weight loss and that’s the reason I’ve been sewing so much for myself recently – half my wardrobe no longer fits. Then about two weeks ago I started getting a new skin problem, not cystic acne this time, but red itchy patches of psoriasis. I’ve been told it’s most likely a reaction to dairy (which I’ve been eating a lot more of recently). So now I’m trialing dropping dairy. It’s harder than dropping sugar and grains because damn, I love dairy. Those cows, they know how to make some delicious stuff.

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A while back, I was lucky enough to be asked to write a guest post for The Curvy Sewing Collective and that was published over the weekend. It was really exciting for me but one tiny FB comment was made about me not being ‘curvy’. And really, why should I let that bother me? But you know, it did. For my whole life, I’ve felt like the fat girl and then, when I felt like I finally fit in somewhere, I’m not curvy enough either? It annoyed me far more than it should have. That’s the thing with blogging and sewing blogging in particular, I think. Body comments will be made. For the most part though, it’s all very positive and rewarding and I don’t do it for anyone but me. I’m selfish like that. So you’re stuck with me, internet.

Ack, too many words. The pattern is tops, my fabric was not. But I’ll be back with another version when I get some kick ass fabric. The end.

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Like A Pirate {McCalls 7542}

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If you haven’t seen McCalls 7542 in your travels yet, well quite frankly, I don’t know what you’ve been doing with your life. Or maybe you’re not a sewing nerd like me. In all honesty, you’ve probably seen similar in RTW while you wander around the shops. I wanted it as soon as I saw it, as I knew it would fill that ‘what to wear with jeans’ gap in my wardrobe. The curse of too many dresses.

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I nabbed the pattern and the fabric (which is cotton poplin) from my local Spotlight over the weekend. Apparently this pattern is sold out in a lot of places, so I was lucky to score it. I know you want to know about my awesome bee necklace, it’s from the lovely Natalie over at Fancy Lady Industries. It’s a Teddy bee, which I love, because we have those cute fatties hovering around our lavender from time to time.

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Overall it went together super fast. The instructions have a bit of a weird way of attaching the lower sleeve to the upper sleeve but I just ignored that and went about it my own way. There’s no zip or anything, just a hook and eye at the back of the neck. I was lazy and just overlocked the sleeve hems, folded them over and stitched, but I think I’ll finish them with binding next time.

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The shape is quite boxy and although poplin was one of the fabrics recommended on the envelope, I can’t wait to make a version in something much more drapey, like rayon. The sleeves remind me of something a pirate would dig, but I think I’m ok with them.

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Oh and you know the best part about this pattern? Good old McCalls do cup size variations. So I went straight to my old friend the D cup pattern piece and it’s a great fit at the bust. No FBA! YAS! I have plans to use this bodice again with different variations. Including a very 80s collar.

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