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 because 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.
It’s that time of year again! Shorts on The Line time! I’m mucho exited to be taking part once again in this month-of-shorts-appreciation hosted annually by Imagine Gnats and Small and Friendly. Today I’m sharing some shortspiration, which um, as you can see has turned into two-piece setspiration too. Now I, for one, am never shy of an excuse to sew shorts, however if you’d like to get involved and make yourself a pair, all the incentive you need is right here in the massive list of prizes (read: fabric $$$) up for grabs in the Shorts on the Line competition. Alternatively, if you’re a lover not a fighter, just make yourself some damn shorts and share them on Kollabora! As 2014 is the year of finding and sewing the ‘perfect pair’, my list of ‘shorts to sew’ is a long and winding one. And a growing one. Just recently Tessuti Fabrics released their first shorts pattern, the Esther shorts, which they describe as a ‘classic, vintage-style’ pattern with a high waist, invisible side zipper and narrow waistband. All I heard was something something, invisible side zipper, something something. Invisible side zippers are good stuff! With no extra bulk being added by a fly front, they make for a super streamlined and flattering fit and are my favourite way to enter and exit a pair of shorts or pants. I was sold, even before Tessuti offered up a copy of their Esther shorts pattern for review, along with a choice of some short worthy fabric from their eye-poppingly gorgeous selection…see confetti print, triangle print and beach scene bombshell fabric. Oh, and because the ladies at Tessuti are mucho generous and just generally awesome, they threw in an extra hard copy of the Esther shorts pattern for someone special! Which is all of you so I’m turning it over to Ronnie the random number generator. If you’d like to win, leave a comment and this time maybe tell me what you ate for breakfast (last time was lunch) and I’ll announce the winner on Friday.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) the closest Tessuti is a whole state away so I chose a piece of this ‘Niwa’ Japanese printed cotton from their online store (they ship worldwide btw) for my Esthers. But back to the Niwa. It’s comes in four pretty colors, this pink is still available here. The fabric itself is a soft, textured cotton and a good weight for shorts but with an open weave that said ‘please don’t thrash me’. So I listened and tacked a silk cotton to all the pieces for less risk of splitage. The construction and instructions were quick and user friendly but it was about half way through when I realised the shorts wouldn’t be complete without a matching top. It is two-piece set month, don’t ya know?!
The top pattern is Simplicity 1366, aka, the boxy crop, and pattern I’m calling as go-to top half for two-piece sets. I just love the extra volume! Which I think helps to balance out the Esther shorts, being quite toit. For once I didn’t know which size to choose, because I did want it quite large and boxy. I chose the larger of two sizes (12) but even now I think I could even have sewn one size larger and still been happy with the volume. This pattern is dead simple and potentially addictive since all you’re dealing with is front, back, sleeves and neck binding. I skipped the neck binding and drafted a quickie facing for the neckline. And when I say drafted, I mean was feeling totally lazy and just hacked the facing straight out of the front and back pieces of the pattern itself. I’m sure it’ll stick back together just fine for next time. And there will be a next time…curious to see how it sews up in something silky like the pattern cover shows and also in fabric with more density…like scuba!
I had a few thoughts on taking photos this week which maybe you’re interested in. And a massive breakthrough! This year I invested in a lightly pre-loved DSLR which I’ve been using for everything except my ACTUAL BLOG PHOTOS. Up until now it’s been royally convenient to have someone else take photos of hand-made outfits for the blerg. All the while, knowing the time was coming when I’d have to break out the tripod, which I’ve been simultaneously wanting to try out and successfully avoiding for about 6 months. But somewhere between Friday and Saturday I realised I had no-one to photograph these shorts for Tuesday. And out of pure necessity, on Sunday afternoon, I found myself in a paddock at dusk, sandwiched between a carpark and a main road, with a camera remote I didn’t know how to use, my brother’s schmancy lens, my dad’s tripod and a big fat cloud of doubt.
In the space of two hours I figured out how to use the remote, stick the camera on the tripod, manoeuvre the legs of the tripod ( like wrestling a newborn giraffe) and give it a 2 second delay. I couldn’t work out how to take multiple shots on one press of the remote so it was all click. position. click. position. Not exactly free flowing and relaxed but that’s the next assignment along with editing skills. And because I expected the photos to turn out sub-par, I took a LOT of photos. Surprise surprise in between ALL the bloopers and blurred pics (something ain’t set right), there were actually quite a few passable / blog worthy pics. So I am officially mind blown, and more than a little bit proud for putting my big girl panties on /getting into the situation of having to do it solo or it probably would have been another 6 months before I ventured out.
Oddly enough, the easiest part of the whole ‘shoot’ was the looking like a twat in public thing. Generally I try to go about it as if taking photos of myself in a field at dusk is the most appropriate thing in the world that I could possibly be doing right now. Not that I’m immune to feelings of self-consciousness. I don’t enjoy having other people watching me take photos, even when someone else is behind the camera. But I’ve kind of realised that people are just curious and they’re going to stare whether you like it or not. So give them something to stare at! Amp up that music that only you can hear, prance, dance, hair toss and generally enjoy your party for one while any onlookers back slowly, slowly away. Then run for their lives. I find going about it with an air of ‘WHAT?! You mean you DON”T take photos of yourself in a field at dusk?!’ helps.
Well that turned into more than a few thoughts! I guess I found the whole debarkle interesting in a terrifying sort of way. But back to shorts. Between all the indie companies and commercial pattern designers there are soooo many good looking shorts patterns out there. I’ve listed a whole lot here but even since then more have been released like Katy and Laney’s Tap shorts and Papercut Anima shorts. For shorts inspiration all month long, here’s the line up…
Sometimes you get a idea for an awesome DIY outfit and you’ve just gotta follow it through to the bitter /sweet end. Even though you know that what you’re about to make is pure icing and what your hand-made closet needs is pure cake. Okay enough cryptics! So, the icing and the cake discussion is always popping up on sewing blogs and I find it fascinating! To summarize unceremoniously, the cake is the stuff you want your closest to be made up of. Good basics, pieces you reach for daily, things that are actually pretty boring to sew, but usually get more wear. Then there’s the icing. In summary: my hand-made closet. Or 90% of it. For me, its a constant tug-o-war between the Jeckle and Hydes of my closet: the prints and solids. And more so a battle because things I wan’t to make are not necessarily the things I want to wear, which is a conversation for whole other day. But hey, when you have an vision for a two-piece set in possibly the most ICING-ISH fabric you’ve ever owned, you follow that whim, right? This purple pastel fabric is a synthetic something and I love love LOVE the color even though I am not technically an animal print girl. Presenting round two of Two-Piece Set-Acular…
So the icing won. Which it mostly does and I’ve been happy to let it, up until this year’s Me Made May, which was my first and kind of a catalyst for my hand-made closet. Don’t get me wrong, my coset is certainly bursting with life! But some days I would look longingly over at the hand-makes of those who’s pieces were understated, went together so effortlessly and just looked so freakin comfy. Like Kelli’s, Katie’s and Leith’s. Then there were a couple of days I watched from the side-lines because I didn’t want to wear ANY of my hand-made stuff. And here’s an even bigger admittance. There were a couple when I changed out of my Me Made May outfit into my ‘home clothes’. Oh geez. Anyway May was a tipping point for a more balanced wardrobe which will be reflected in my next lot of sewing, post Two-Piece Set-Acular. It also happened to be right around the time I fell in love with this crazy two-piece thing. Like the prints knew their days of sole domination of my closet were numbered and crescendoed into a whole new level of printy love…two-piece sets!
I knew this outfit was icing before I started but when I wore it for the first time I realised just how much so. Firstly, I don’t really ‘do’ strapless. I’m a paranoid strapless wearer, never entirely trust them. Second, I had to drive really fast to the spot where I was taking photos because I was losing feeling in my legs because this fabric has NO stretch whatsoever. Third, when I finally peeled myself off the car seat, I realised the pattern called for woven with stretch for a reason…with my stride length halved, my walk was reduced to a totter even with a split in the back. As we were taking pics, it did occur to me that should I have to flee in any kind of hurry (bush fire, wild boar, football fans) it would have been bye-bye skirt.
Impracticalities aside, as a totally fun and frivolous make, I do feel pretty fabulous in this two-piece! As for wearing them as separates, the skirt looks really great with quite a lot of things. So I will reserve it for occasions where I’m only required to take small steps or don’t need to eat. But moving on to the next comedy, the construction. I was all enthused for an uncomplicated piece-o-cake project, which the By Hand London Charlotte skirt is. And would have been except I like to make things as difficult as possible when I sew by choosing a fabric with NO stretch. Which I then cut out in the total wrong size. Please explain? So, I was lucky enough to slip into this pretty Charlotte for sizing purposes, which was deemed a great fit, only I didn’t take into account that Reana’s fabric had stretch and this one didn’t. So the size 10 was too small, as in, side-seams-won’t-meet kind of small. Fortunately there was enough fabric to go back and cut a size up (a 12) or we’d all have been washed away in the river I cried, never to be seen again.
So possibly I am the last one to the Charlotte skirt party and have much the same things to say as others before. Cute pattern, generous hip ease, easy-to-navigate instructions etc etc. I had some confusion over adding a lining (for aesthetic purposes) which I cut out in a silk-cotton using the same pieces as the outside. What I really wanted to do was join the skirt and the lining at the hem, or more sort of tuck the lining into the skirt hem for a really neat finish. But when I did this, the outside of the skirt got all bunched up in places as if the lining was pulling on it somewhere and making it sit all gross (sad face). In the end, I resorted to letting the lining hang loose , but then I could see it poking through the split at the back so I cut it off shorter. One thing after another! Something to think about, should you insert a lining into the Charlotte is how many darts you will be sewing. Me and darts, we go okay but I’m always frothing to get stuck into the ‘meat’ of a pattern and then I remember the darts come first…16 in this case!
I’m especially happy with the insides and little details here. I think they really make a garment, don’ t you? I never used to be bothered making the insides pretty but now it’s almost an obsession. Here I French seamed the insides and hand-stitched the waistband to the inside of the skirt.And finally I feel like I’ve got my invisible zips down pat, which was one of my ‘sewing goals‘ for the year. This fabric is kind of neat, being almost reversible and I had some fun alternating between pieces cut on the right side and wrong side for the bustier pieces and the skirt waistband.
Clearly the most exciting bit here is the Bustier! Exciting because it was my first time sewing with boning. Unhelpful because I made it from an already existing bustier. Basically I gutted the whole thing, traced the pieces and pilfered its boning, zip and the sticky stay tape that makes it cling to your skin. Which turned out to be a good way to have a go at a structured bustier, having all the hard work done before me and knowing it would turn out if I could just sew it all back together. And because I feel bad about being a big fat tease, should you want to try sewing a bustier from a pattern, there’s a couple of good looking ones on Burdastyle (See here and here) and there’s always Gertie’s Bombshell dress. Hey, and it turns out boning, is not made from whales, but wire! Something I kind of knew but I guess like some modern day archaeologist, deep down I thought I still might find actual bones inside the casing.
I am so excited to see some SET-ACULAR two-piece sets popping up already. There will be a round-up at the end of August, but in the meantime you can see who’s making what with the hashtag #twopiecesetacular on Instagram.
Fashion is a funny thing, hey?! Take it back a month or two and you couldn’t have paid me to leave the house in a matching set. Or you could, but it would have cost you a lot of fabric. And here we are, me in my first edition to Two-Piece SET-ACULAR feeling pretty fine and dandy and you, probably asking Two-Piece Set-WHAT-ular and wondering if you’ve stepped back onto the set of Clueless. So, let’s recap. In This week’s See It Sew It post, I admitted a growing fondness for this 90’s throwback trend of matching sets, or’ Co-ords’, and invited the Blogosphere in for a Two-Piece Set-acular! And yes, I was a leetle bit nervous that it might be a party for one so I’m pretty flippin happy that you guys want to play along! Literally tongue hanging out to see your sets. As for a time frame in which to sew & blog / instagram your makes, I’m declaring August (or between now and then) official two-piece fiesta month!
Ok, so I mentioned here that why this trend is so much fun is that pretty much anything goes. There are all sorts of silhouettes that make for rockin two piece sets and I got all inspired and sketched up some combo’s that work with suggestions for sewing patterns you could use. This is a the perfect time to experiment with new shapes & styles OR return to those favourite sewing patterns, the ones you know and love and feel good in, which for me are these two: the Hannah Top by Salme patterns, previously sewn here, and Vogue 1247, from this recent polka+ floral combo. I think these two patterns work together as a Two-Piece Set because there is balance between the snug-ish skirt and the loose boxy fit of the top. The skirt is relatively short but the top has a high-neck, which all make me feel comfortable and not ‘exposed’.
How LOUD you like your two-piece sets is a matter of personal preference. I think this one is pretty tame really and proves that can do this trend with subtlety too. It all has a lot to do with the fabrics you choose. This print, a plain cotton check, is not something I’d usually go for except that I had a vision of it becoming something a little left of centre. It’s not a fabric you’d expect to see in a 90’s style crop or a two piece set, which is why it’s so FUN! But both pieces have slotted so easily into my closet as separates too. The top often gets worn with this pencil skirt, while bottom half looks cute with a white tee & my RTW navy blazer. Together they’ve made my hand-made closet more versatile, especially because the print is kind of neutral. So, a great idea before you start on your two-piece is to consider how it will mingle with the other items already in your closet. And when that sad day comes when no-body is wearing matching sets again, you don’t have to retire it!
Top // Size? 10 Mods? Extended the neck facing down into a full lining for more stability (fabric is quite light). Loved? The facing makes for an uber clean finish around the neck and armholes. Just cos? I made a matching self-cover button which didn’t make it in the photos & lovingly hand-tacked the hem.
Skirt // Size? 12 Mods? Same as this one, sheered a little off at the bottom side seams and back seam for a closer fit. Also, added the extra length I needed this time to make a proper hem. As well as a little extra length to the waistband so it overlaps lol. Loved? The way it’s all put together, especially the joey pockets and the insides, with their pretty binding. This time I used some left over bits in my stash and I like the effect, even if it makes me hungry for gelato!
So, what do you think? If you’d like to join in the festivities but want some more inspiration, there’s whole lot of matchy matchy goodness here and if you’re button-happy, feel free to grab yourself one here. There are even two-piece sets out in the blogosphere by a few girls already on it and yards ahead obviously: a summerlicious set by Sallioeh and this lovely by Madalynne.