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!
The second last stop on the Sewtionary tour is here today! Which means another chance to win your very own hardcopy of this beautiful new sewing book on the block. For nearly the whole month, Tasia from Sewaholic, has been celebrating the release of the Sewtionary. The name of the book gives it all away really: inside you will find an A-Z ‘from “Applique” to “Zippers” and everything in between!’.
I have a very modest collection, more a huddle, of sewing books that I refer to from time to time to refresh on basic techniques. But in between, I’m still always ‘google-ing’ for things like ‘welt pockets’, ‘zipper fly tutorials’ ‘how to sew spaghetti straps’ etc. So I’m a little bit excited that the Sewtionary includes all of these plus many more skills I’ve been wanting to try or at least know the proper way to do something. This book has all the answers to basic sewing questions like ‘how to make your own piping’ to the more obscure like ‘what is horse hair, and why the heeeeeel would I be sewing it into a garment?!’.
So yes, I am super impressed with the Sewtionary and a little jealous that this copy is leaving my hands but happy it’s going to one of you lucky ladies! If you’d like a chance to win the Sewtionary, leave a comment, maybe sharing your most feared sewing technique (you’ve been avoiding button holes for years, right?!) and the winner will be drawn on Sunday. You can find the rest of the tour details here.
There’s nothing, I’ve decided, quite so annoying as being restricted in some way by the clothes you are wearing. Whether they be too tight, too short, too good or too silky, it’s all bad. Now, if you’ve been here for the ride thus far you may have noticed I have a small penchant for silky things, specifically, silks. But here’s the thing…many of my most favourite silk items hang, rarely worn, in near-mint condition in my closet. Which is a bit sad considering how much time and love got poured into them. I would like to wear them on a daily basis if it weren’t for fear of small people grime and the fact that I could still probably do with a bib when eating sometimes. When I petitioned (mostly against myself) to sew more ‘fiercely attractive mum-friendly clothes‘ this year, I didn’t know what that would look like. But I knew what was needed were things I could throw on, go about the day’s mostly un-glamorous activities, all the while looking put together, or at least like I’d changed out of pyjamas. Finally, with this legging and blouse combo, I feel I have arrived! At a craggy isthmus somewhere between BabeTown and MumTown.
In hopes of reigning in the silk-monger within, I’ve been looking out for some happy replacement for silk; something drapey and nice against the skin, without the omg-dishwater-on-my (insert most-beloved item) factor. Step in Viscose, Rayon and whatever else is in this glorious man made fibre! I saw it, petted it, decided it was the softest, most buttery SOLID I ever laid eyes on and stowed it away for a worthy project…something like the wrap-style Dotty Blouse by Style Arc. You may have seen this deep cross-over silhouette doing the rounds, see here and here. I saw it, loved it and before I knew what was happening, the pattern was making it’s way to my house. McCalls have put out a similar blouse and Burdastyle released this cute variation but it was the line drawing of the Dotty that sold me.
So much to love here! A double yoke, gathered back, good butt coverage and a cleverly designed front with the wrap section cut as one whole piece. The instructions imply you can sew a double yoke in your sleep and with my experience of double yokes being mostly of the breakfast variety, I decided to seek help. I followed this tutorial on the Style Arc site, up to the point where it became obvious that attaching a double yoke in a normal scenario, where the shirt front has two pieces (like a normal button up) is one thing. Attaching a yoke for a shirt where the front is made of one long joined piece of fabric, is something else all together. Also, the tutorial makes sense for a shirt that would eventually have a collar attached, in which case it is no problema to leave the neckline raw. But for the collar-less Dotty blouse, I realised that the neckline would have to be sewn shut at some stage in the yoke attaching otherwise it be left raw foreverrrr! To be honest I don’t really remember how it did it and wish I took better notes on the process but just know, it’s possible. Your double yoke will be okay. It will, however, take some manoeuvering that I cannot explain without wild hand gestures.
This is actually my second version of the Dotty Blouse. I thought I should probably muslin it (see! I can be a responsible) before cutting into this fabric. The pattern recommends silk, crepe or a jersey knit. After muslin-ing it in a feather-weight cotton voile, I learned that lightweight and good drape are not one and the same. The recommendation for jersey knit should have been the give away that whatever fabric you choose, it has to hang-well (not the same as well-hung). In fact I don’t think it mentions light-weight anywhere. No it does not. I made that up. But having now sewn the Dotty up in something lightweight with no drape and something with lots of drape, the drapier fabric produced a front section that cascades instead of puffs out and an all round nicer looking top.
The sleeves are my favourite! The instructions are to gather them into narrow bands and left long. But I liked rolled up sleeves. I like their utilitarianism. Especially on a top with so much party in the front. Plus I thought that the addition of sleeve tabs could take this top some place special. So, after asking the deep questions about sleeves, I omitted the sleeve band, sewed a straight hem and ‘borrowed’ the sleeve tabs from another pattern. For the buttons, I covered some regular flat shirt buttons using a great little technique I learned here. I much prefer their compactness over the clunky store bought self cover buttons.
Now seems a good time to address the pink elephant in the room: how is that front section staying shut?! Well, it’s not really and even standing relatively still on a not windy day, my photographer copped a few eyefulls. So, short of wearing a velcro bra, I’ll have to go back at attach a press stud, which I was trying to avoid but is what the pattern suggests anyway. I should also point out that even with the double yoke fussing, it was possible to French seam the whole thing, which makes this one of my most meticulous and most un-hand-made looking pieces yet. Save for a few dodgy bits sewing the curved hem…
Short and sweet for all involved, DIY leggings are the ultimate quickie project! These here were my demo pair for the Leggings Workshop I taught at the recent The Craft Sessions weekend. I chose leggings because they’re beginner friendly when you’re starting out with knit sewing and instantly satisfying. At the start of the workshop, I told the ladies they’d laugh once they realised how straightforward leggings are: one pattern piece + 4-way stretch fabric + a ball point needle + stretch stitch = DIY legging fabulousness. Anyway, they all produced beautiful leggings (some I wanted to snatch for myself) and left with new sewing confidence!
Now that leggings season is coming to an end here, these are finally making it to the blog. The fabric is swimwear lycra from here, which I really don’t mind against my skin. My favourite sources for leggings fabric are Tessuti Fabrics, Wanderlust Fabrics, Girl Charlee and random Etsy shop, Fabulace. I used the same Burdastyle pattern as this pair (now retired to pjs), which I love for the extra length in the legs and torso.
To think I fretted over it being a Two-Piece Set party for one….turns out I was in the most set-acular company ever! I have been dying to share your two-piece creations and what I love most is that for all the sets below, no two are alike. And each is an extension of the sewer / blogger’s personal style. Which does totally back up the case (the one laid on heavy, when trying to sell two-pieces to you) that you can make this matchy-matchy trend your own. You made it your own, added two cups of magic and took the two-piece places no set has gone before. The results are jaw-droppingly good…
Amazing huh?! And become I’m allowed at least one proud mother hen moment: thank YOU so much for taking part! I think I’ve covered my bases: Instagram, google search but in case I missed anyone’s set, or if you’re still working on your two-piece, let me know and I’ll add it to the round-up.
Oh me oh my! So I knew late August to early September would be a cracker, what with the three patterns to sew in preparation for workshops at The Craft Sessions retreat + this final two-piece + a tutorial in conjunction with Britex Fabrics. What it was supposed to look like was pulling it off with grace and flare and my-not-previously-mentioned superpowers, in the two days per week that my littlest has kindy, all the while bringing you regular posts here. What it actually looked like, during that time, was one broken arm, courtesy of my littlest, emergency surgery and a hospital stay where I must have attracted some sinus thing, timed especially for my flight which resulted in a mass-pattern tracing right up until an hour before I left. Life stuff and lots of it. Whereas last year I pushed and pushed, this year I’m trying to practice the art of letting things go in the interests of self-love and its resulting good mental health. Which I guess makes me two weeks not-so-fashionably late to my own Two-Piece Set-Acular. Ugh. Thank you for waiting. AND for your two-piece sets, which I cannot wait to share. There’ll be a mass two-piece round-up hitting the blog soon, sooner than this set but I won’t set a date in case someone breaks a femur.
It’s hard to pick favourites with your hand-made closet, but this here, is my favourite make this year! One, it’s a two-piece, two, it’s made from SCUBA (amphibious makes are all the rage) and three, both Simplicity 1366 (top) and Vogue 9031 (skirt) just worked. This is my second go at Simplicity 1366 (previously sewn here) and first attempt at this freshly released Vogue pattern. Just from the pattern cover, I thought it had potential. Okay, I lie…I knew it was going to be AMAZING! Hellooo?! This shape + my shape + this shape + scuba = heaVEN! It works in the other direction too, equally there are pattern covers I look at and know will be terrible on me. But this fitted through the hips, flared out below silhouette is really fun! Kind of like a hybrid pencil / A-line I think it creates the perfect balance between clingy and, well, not clingy. There are four side panels made up of quarter circle skirt pieces that lend themselves to fabrics with volume, like scuba or ponte. I love it so very much I’m now dreaming up a second version in some solid fuschia ponte from the stash and / or a leather version, since the pattern is actually designed for a woven and includes some tips for using leather.
A fun sew on both accounts and I want to stress the fun part because, if you’re like me and you harbour a lingering association between beautiful hand-makes and a certain amount of hard-labour / cussing, it’s always exciting to be proven wrong! What made these pieces both so fun were several things: firstly, scuba (or neoprene) is, quite literally, wetsuit material and a dream to sew with. It is stable and meaty (yes I did just say meaty) and orgasmic to cut into. Cannot tell you how good it felt to man-handle a fabric on the back of several flimsy fabric projects. And speaking of man-handling, the other perk is scuba loves the serger. Now I for one have never sewn an entire knit project on the serger. Didn’t entirely trust the stitching would hold together. But with a fresh new serger to play around on ( a birthday up-grade) and being completely time poor I had a go…HALF AN HOUR, my friends, from start to finish. Even the skirt, which couldn’t be sewn on the serger alone (lots of seams to be left open), slapped together in half the cutting time.
Ahhhh the cutting time…deserving of it’s own paragraph! This beautiful intricate ‘Chinese Dragon and Lotus‘ print scuba was supplied by Britex for whatever I deemed suitable. A two-piece set…DER! What I didn’t pay attention to in the ‘ideas stage’ was the perfectly symmetrical nature of the print. If we include the time spent staring at the fabric and nudging pattern pieces around on it with my toes, in the cutting time then it took 12 hours. I got so frustrated the first night I tried to cut, I had to walk away, watch some consolation Sex And The City and return to it in the morning. Which turned out to be the best call ever! Okay so the cutting time turned out to be three hours and the challenge was not only getting individual pattern pieces to match their opposite but trying to get a total of five top pieces and twelve skirt pattern pieces out of one full repeat and two 3/4 repeats of the design. The only way I could make sure things were symmetrical was to lay the fabric out flat (as opposed to doubled over) and cut each piece separately. For pieces marked ‘on the fold’ this meant, cutting one half, flipping the pattern piece over and matching up points in the design before cutting the other half….hence the three hours!
One of the other nice things about scuba is you can be really lazy with hemming. You know, make your unfinished hems a design feature! Vogue 9031 calls for the hem to be left raw. Considering the pattern is meant for wovens, I thought this was a curious “”feauture””, what with fraying and longevity and all. But for now I think the unfinished hem looks pretty appropriate with the Scuba although I may take to it with a coverstitch eventually. There are so many things to love about this pattern: the front and back are made up of intersecting pieces, which make for a super sweet feature and flattering lines. The waistband has a schmick facing finish, which I lurve! Size: I made my usual Vogue size, a 12. Mods: The 12 was good, but I ended up taking it in at side seams from waist to hips. Sew-tricky: At the risk of sounding totally masochistic I loved the challenge of getting those corner semi-perfectly square, where the side panels meet the front and back. The first one was great, the second was a little dodge, but by the fourth one I was sad there weren’t any more. You can see at the front the fabric is pulling across this area a bit which I’m sure is to do with using a stretch here.
Simplicity 1366 is a great pattern on its own, but I wanted to modify a few things to make it more like a super comfy RTW boxy crop I have. I took the shoulders in a fraction, shortened the sleeves, raised and scooped the neck and added a binding / ribbing. Because it’s a knit, it didn’t need any sort of closure but I thought an exposed zipper would make a banging feature on both the top and the skirt. I started with the skirt, and followed this tutorial up to a point, which covers inserting an exposed zipper when there is a seam running through the middle. For the top, to insert an expose zipper, literally in the middle of no-where, I had a play around and am so very proud to come up with this working tutorial for inserting an exposed zipper into scuba. Maybe the Sewing Greats would cringe at my errr ‘technique’ but hey it’s simple to follow and the result is pretty darn fine.
So there it is, the last of the two-pieces! It’s been fun. If you’re thinking about dabbling in some scuba sewing of your own then you should jump in! I’ve been collecting scuba sewing inspiration here and have included some links to Scuba fabric resources too.