The winner of the Tessuti Alice Top pattern by random number (unfortunately I am technically inept and can’t seem to transport the little number generator to my posts – see Instagram for photographic evidence), is Erin from OppKnits. Congratulations Erin! Big thanks to y’all for entering. And yes, I do think your 80’s bed sheets, shibori-dyed cloth and precious hoarded liberty fabric would make a spectacular Alice top and should be actioned RIGHT NOW while the inspiration is fresh!
I know, I know! A second posted project in as many weeks. Cannot quite believe it myself but there you have it. Momentum is a beautiful thing. For you today, I’m so excited to share my version of the Alice Top (and dress), a recent pattern release from Tessuti, which you may have already seen gracing your Instagram feed recently, maybe yes? Firstly, I love love LOVE it. Second, it wasn’t part of any official sewing queue. It was a pure impulse saw-pattern-had-glorious-vision type project, which are the most fun and often turn out the best, don’t they? Something about freeing yourself from your own sewing shackles. Fly my pretty, fly! I’ve been trying to remember what came first: the pattern or the inspiration. And I think it was one of those situations where you keep seeing a particular style around and then suddenly there’s a pattern released for it. In this case, a whole influx of tops with beautiful woven embellishments like this one and this one. To be honest, it’s not a style that I normally go for and I don’t want to put little Alice in a box but she definitely has the potential for some folksy, peasant-y, free-lovey vibes. Which, I am not opposed to, no no…just haven’t dipped my toe in the boho-pool yet.It all comes down to fabric selection anyway. And playing with fabrics is SO much fun here! The Alice top is divided into yoke, sleeve and bodice sections and could not be more perfect for using up small remnants of extra special fabrics. You know, the ones you only purchased a little of (because they wouldn’t take a trade for your first born) or you loved so much that there’s hardly any left but you’ve kept every last scrap anyway. Those fabrics that are crazy-embellished or heavily woven or embroidered and would make more of a statement in small doses. Hey, even those two cushions that you only recently purchased for your lounge…those would make a killer Alice top! Yes, it’s true, I’m wearing cushion covers. Give it time, it’s going to be big. The rest of the top came from elsewhere too; I literally cut the gathered skirt straight off a silk/ cotton RTW dress. Which makes the whole thing re-fashioned, which makes me very happy. And not just because it appeals deeply to my smug environmentalist within. But also you would never guess to look at it! This is probably a good point to talk about fabric selection for the gathered part of your Alice top. I had originally bought some lightweight linen for the gathered bodice and washed it several times to try and soften it, but even so, the gathers would have been quite stiff. Because of the style of the top, you have the gathers sitting right on the fullest point of your bust. I’m open to extra bust volume, really, I am. But here, you’ve already got a loose boxy shape so you may want to consider a fabric that will gather softly and ‘flow’ ‘cascade’ and ‘shimmy’ down your front, instead of puff out. Silk / cotton voile good. Stiff starchy linen bad.A word on sizing. After a bit of pre-sewing investigation, it seemed the general feeling was you could size down and still end up with a good fit. So, I measured the small, but made the extra small and the fit is perfect, still plenty of room under the arms, across the back etc. As per usual, with my previous makes from Tessuti patterns here and here, the instructions were great to follow and it sewed up beautifully. Actually, I was surprised by how quick it was overall. Okay, so maybe the lower half that I borrowed was already gathered and side-seamed and had this nice scooped high-low hem sewn for me. But still! The yoke and sleeve area are both lined and under-stitched and they seemed to sew up quickly too. Oh my! I almost forgot to touch on the Green-Sleeve vs White Sleeve debate. Not quite on par with the Gold & White or Blue & Black debate, but still. During the making I got stuck not knowing whether to continue the green fabric across onto the sleeves or sub in some white sleeves for contrast. I posted a picture on Instagram with one of each and asked my most trusted advisers, you lot, for advice. Your responses kept me entertained for hours. Some solid points were made too. Team white said it was more ‘classic’ and ‘balanced’. Team green said it was more ‘fashion’ and less ‘folksy’ and that white was more ‘little girly’. Team green was infinitely meaner. In the end, I went with green and love the contrast between this structured shoulder section and soft and flowy down below. So, thanks, you’re the best.The lovely ladies at Tessuti have offered up a hard-copy of the Alice pattern to give-away to one of you! Maybe you have some home furnishings that you’d like to hack up too? To enter, leave a comment and I’ll draw a winner by random number on Friday. Open world-wide.
Well hi! Did the new year begin already? Its been a sluggish start and I admit I have a huge backlog of hand-made lovelies to share, starting with this one, a second Vogue 8280, my beloved, aka the Roland Mouret Galaxy Dress in a particularly galactic looking fabric. I can say straight up, that this project was a queue-spiter (aren’t all the best projects?!). I was part way through my first attempt at sewing a capsule wardrobe, for last Spring, which had started giving me the shits when I realised I’d bitten off way more than I could actually sew in a season. If there is one thing I do well it’s setting the bar un-reasonably high and getting upset when I can’t meet said expectations. Still, the Spring Wardrobe wasn’t a complete failure, I got about half of the things sewn, which I will share over the coming weeks. And I did also learn a lot about how I want sew and how much I can realistically produce in a season without the sew-jo taking a beating. It is not twelve items in three months, not it is not. More on this soon.Now, the story of this fabulous frock is a great one! Sometime last Spring, I received a very lovely and random email from a woman in Australia, announcing she had set up an online store, Designer Fabrics Australia, to sell off her stash of beautiful gourmet fabrics acquired from around the world and could I please help her get the word out to the people of sew-landia! But of course. The timing really couldn’t have been more perfect with the Brisbane edition of sewing get-together, Frocktails, coming up and the fact that I was desperately needing a sewing pep-up in the face of Perceived Spring Wardrobe Failure. As all the best relationships start, Liz sent me some fabric and I vowed to love and hold it forever more / make it into something spectacular. Which was not hard considering it’s freaking intergalactic, geometric SCUBA! Because of the nature of selling ones stash, the pieces listed at Designer Fabrics Australia are mostly once-off cuts, with enough meterage to make a garment but no more once its gone, so if you see something you like you have to pounce. Alas, there is no more of this particular fabric but there are new pretties listed weekly by designers such as Anna Sui, Oscar De La Renta, Isabel Marant and friends.Scuba, aka, Neoprene, faux wetsuit material is pretty exciting stuff to sew with. It’s thick, but not too thick, stable and co-operative (I feel like a dirty one-liner belongs here but I’m all out of sass today) much like a ponte knit. If you want to know more, I preached its joys with my previous scuba project here. And I knowwwww its a novelty and probably one of those trends we’re all going to look back and laugh at in the next few years still I have not had my scuba fill, it really is so fun to play with. Quite a few online fabric stores are stocking scuba, like Emma One Sock and Britex Fabrics among others. The thing I love is that it holds it shape perfectly and makes for super plumped up pleated sleeves like these ones. Volume Baby!
The most exciting bit of all was getting to tap into my SEWERS INTUITION!My first Vogue 8280, I followed the instructions religiously as I tend to do with most things because I get scared to go off the path. But because I was feeling wild and unchained and using a stretch fabric I figured I would just size down to a 10, remove all the darts, join the bodice and the skirt, leave out a lining and eliminate a zipper. And tie it up with a bow, honey. It was all ‘I’ll just tape this here, pinch that out there, see if this will join up here’ and so so rough. I felt like I was on a reality sewing show. Will she make it? Will it work? There’s just so much potential for things to go wrong when you’re doing a hack-job. The whole time I felt like I was following the quiet guidance of that little inner sewing guru, the one who chimes in at helpful times with things like: ‘ Girl, do you REALLY want to place that uterus shaped print right THERE?’.
Without a lining, the whole construction changed and the instructions became even more useless than they were to start with, although they were absolutely necessary for the sleeves, which have a little contraption underneath for extra puffed-up-ness. My first Vogue 8280 took the good part of a week. Condensed, it would still have been a day or two worth of sewing. Sub in scuba and it sewed up in an afternoon and a night and mostly on the overlocker. I then switched over to the coverstitch for the hem, sleeves and backline, which sped things up again. Anyway, suffice to say, there are days when you become your own sewing legend!
Photography By Daniel Maddock
If you happen to follow my Instagram feed, then you’ll probably have noticed it’s all about the planning over here! The sewing planning that is. For me, the planning is almost as much fun as the actual making. I relish the whole process and it is indeed, turning into a process. Not to say I don’t enjoy adding to the hand-made closet piece by piece, but I love love LOVE the idea of churning out a little mini collection each season, just for fun! It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for so long, after the original inspiration of seeing Jen’s seasonal wardrobes start out in illustration form and come to life over a few months. I attempted a seasonal wardrobe this winter. I made plans, I had sketches, I had swatches. And by the time my winter wardrobe was finalised…it was Spring! Ahem, so, this seasonal sewing thing is rather tricky I’ve decided. Seasonal Sewing Confusion Disorder (SSCD) is what’s it is. Being out of sync with the Northern Hemisphere, I feel like it’s this battle between sewing for the season I’m in or sewing along with the opposite seasons. Where I live, in sunny Queensland, Australia, the seasons looks like this: 9 months of warm weather, three months of “”winter””, I use the term loosely. Right now it’s Spring, so I figure I’ll just sew for Spring / Summer up until late Jan / Feb and then start the cool weather sewing after that in Autumn. For this Spring, I’ve come up with 6 outfits: 12 pieces in total. Which sounds like a lot but it will be spread over a few months, so I’m aiming to sew and blog two outfits or 2-4 pieces a month. Allowing some lee-way here in case of dem curved balls.
The idea of actually sticking to sewing plans and following them through is a new thing; there’s nothing so fun as spiting your own queue to sew something not in the queue! I thought maybe I’d feel restricted, or ‘locked in’ by these plans but quite the opposite. I’m very very excited to be approaching this bunch of hand-mades with a whole new way of thinking (who knew sewing could be so deep). As a statement piece kind of sewer at heart, I live for the thrill of sewing something unique and spectacular. But I also not so secretly admire and covet the hand-made closets of fellow sewing bloggers with their more sensible, thought out and very wearable items! So, for my DIY Spring Closet, instead of going on autopilot, I’ve been thinking about what I could sew that would build on what is already in the closet. Who are you and what have you done with Sophie?! What it looks like is reigning in the statement pieces and boosting up the solids (solids being as close to staple pieces as we’re ever going to get here). Out of 12 pieces, 6 are prints and 6 are solids which feels as unnatural as a machine needle through the fingernail, but we’re going with it. Without further ado…
First up, two soliddddds! So, this stretch cotton twill was always going to be a bottom half piece. I was thinking shorts initially, but then it got fashioned it into a pencil skirt in front of the mirror and…phwoar! For a pattern, I’ll probably return to the Burdastyle Jenny skirt but add a good 3 inches so it hits below the knee. I especially love the silhouette of a fitted skirt with a billowy tee or tank and so I’ve been longing to make a simple singlet out of this beautiful cobalt sand-wash silk. As for a pattern, still undecided. I love the dartless-ness of the Wiksten tank but I’m imagining narrower straps and less flare at the hem, so it can be tucked into said skirt. Possibly the Eucalypt tank? Taking suggestions…
This fuschia Silk CDC was always going to be top half! This is my color. MINE, I tell you! It makes me look alive. Plus it goes with many other bottoms in my closet. So I’m feeling the pressure here to pick the perfect pattern. And I think I’d like to make a top similar to this one. As for the pattern, a dartless version of view B could be close but the collar needs to be shorter and higher and I’m not entirely sure about importing a collar from elsewhere. Maybe there is another pattern out there that would be closer straight from the pattern? Eeeeee, the skirt! So excited for this one. I used some of my Project Sewn winnings to purchase a couple of hides of this olive green, super svelte lamb leather. It smells funny, but it’s lover-ly. And because I love this skirt, Vogue 9031, so much, I’m making a leather version! Again, going for the fitted skirt + billowy top half…
CULOTTES! CULOTTES! CULOTTES! Okay, it’s on. The Culotta-thon. I had a great pair of Culottes once, when I was 18. They were bright aqua, stretch denim and they fitted perfectly through the butt and hips before flaring out below. Where are they now? I do not know. But what I firmly believe is if you’re going to embrace this Culotte trend and you don’t want to join the ranks of the poofy puffy pants brigade, then they need to be fitted through the hips and waist. You’ve already got all this extra volume in the lower leg, do you really want to be adding extra volume through the tummy / hips with pleats and other festivities? I don’t! You saw how these pants turned out. Now imagine them with even more volume down below. So no, the style of culotte I am going for is this, this and this. Made up in this crazy grid print linen! As for a pattern, I’ve got about 5 or 6 vintage culotte patterns from the 70’s sitting in my Etsy cart and they all kind of nail that fitted-through-the-hips, flare-out-below thing. Okay, I’m not going to lie…my entire inspiration for this outfit is this silhouette here. It’s so fun and so fresh and I wants it. So, for the top we’re going sheer! I’m thinking the Kanerva button back shirt. Yes, it’s entirely a novelty outfit but I have a vision and I’m a slave to it!
Now I think about it, it was pretty cute to assume I’d be done with matching sets just because Two-Piece Set month had finished, wasn’t it?! But how could I stop? Not after I happened upon possibly my favourite fabric find ever…the exact eye fabric from this Moschino dress. It was totally random, of course, on Etsy. I was looking for printed denim. And even more random because I’ve pinned this dress and this skirt so many times, each occasion thinking how amazing the fabric was, wonder if there was any left in the world, anywhere? Mwahahaa! So, I have 5 yards and my inspiration is THIS amazing two-piece. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to which patterns to use here, since I want to be able to wear them as separates, or possibly together, thought not sure where. School drop-off? For the top, I’m knocking off a RTW top, with spaghetti straps, a slightly flared hem and no darts. I’ve copied it once before and it’s a super flattering shape that I wear all the time. Although I have my heart set on culottes for the bottoms, I wonder if the closet will reach culotte-saturation and I’m also not sure how they would look in something flimsy and silky. Maybe like pyjamas? Other ideas were some kind of crazy pleated skirt like the Anne-Marie pattern or even a draped pencil skirt. Would love to hear your thoughts, speak now…the top half is done!
This boxy crop + full midi skirt silhouette is a new one for me. I keep seeing it everywhere and there’s just something about it! It’s so feminine without being toit and looks killer with some statement heels, see here! So, for the top, I’m cutting into this heavily woven cotton and either going to make another modified version of Simplicity 1366 or try something new. For the skirt, I’m thinking the Lumme by Named patterns. The sateen is quite thin, so I’ll probably back it in something to enhance the color and avoid flashing.
MORE Culottes! And yes, the color in the sketch is a very inaccurate representation of the actual fabric. So, this khaki stretch cotton, was the very last addition to this little collection. I actually bought it several years ago, originally to make a Minoro Jacket. But when I held it up to the mirror one fateful evening, wrapped it around like a giant 90’s maxi skirt and pulled it through the middle to look like pants, it actually turned into the most awesome pair of structured culottes ever! And so it was decided. I’m actually thinking for this pair, I may start with the Katy and Laney Tap Shorts as a base and make use of those ever-so subtle diagonal lines. This little cropped jacket I am royally excited about. I’ve got a few inspiration picks collated here on my Spring /Summer Sew board, but in particular this pretty one! I’ve been wanting to make up the Bernadette cropped jacket for so long, just waiting for the right fabric. And then I found this amazing embroidered FLEURO (my camera does not do fleuro), TRIBAL cotton at Spotlight, of all places! Now I’m trying to source some fleuro piping or fabric to make into piping. Either that or metallic silver. Gah! So many decisions.
What are you sewing this Spring / Autumn?
Thanks for entering! And sharing your sewing fears. It seems our common sewing nemisis’s are button holes, zippers and welt pockets! My least favourite is button holes I have to say, because even though my machine should handle them just fine, sometimes it chooses not to. So yes, destroying something in pretty much the final step before you finish is why I don’t love them so much. Okay! So the winner of The Sewtionary Giveaway, by random number generator was no.1. Congratulations Nicole from coledabbles.blogspot.com.au!