sewing

Tropical Summer Gabriola

Front Untucked

So, I made a maxi skirt. To be more precise, I made the Gabriola skirt by Sewaholic. I don’t know when or where I bought it, but I had the paper pattern – which is now out of stock on their website. This was quite the queue jumper, to be honest. I’d found the pattern during a reorganisation of my sewing space, and a few days later I was in Geoff’s Emporium and found this lovely, summery rayon fabric for $7 a metre. Since this skirt is a huge fabric hog (4.8 metres for version A at 115cm wide fabric), the price was right! As it turned out, I easily had 1.5m of fabric left, despite making the largest size. Slightly annoying, but I guess I’ll make a top or something out of the rest.

Side Untucked

I made a size 16. This was a mistake. My waist measurement, on a good day, hovers around 88cm. Since the size 14 finished measurement was exactly 88cm, I thought by making the 16 I’d give myself room to breathe, eat and be comfortable. Instead, I ended up having to take the waist in by 6cm, in the form of 4 1.5cm darts. It was huge. And even now, it’s looser than I would ideally like. I cut the length at the smallest size, because I am short (154cm), and I still needed to take it up by 6 inches. I was going to do this at the lengthen/shorten line, but it didn’t look quite right to me and luckily Mel and Nikki advised against it, and I took it from the bottom, to preserve the hip shaping.

Back Tucked

Making the skirt was pretty straightforward. The fabric didn’t shift too much, and it pressed nicely. I did French seams wherever possible for neat insides, and pinked the ones where I thought French seaming wouldn’t have worked very well. Well, I say it was straightforward – until I got to the zipper, that is. I had the perfect colour zipper in my stash (I have a huge vintage zip collection of all colours and sizes), but inserting it was like pulling teeth. I interfaced the zipper opening, I basted it in first…and it still took me 4 tries before I was satisfied with it. And even now, I’m not sure satisfied is the right word. More like resigned. I didn’t realise until I got to that step that the zip didn’t go all the way up to the top of the waistband. I hate hooks and eyes, so that didn’t thrill me. I ended up using some small nickel snaps I had from god knows where.

Closure

I let it hang for about 4 days before I hemmed it – I didn’t plan for it to be that long, but life got in the way. I ended up cutting another 2 inches off the bottom before finally hemming it the recommended amount. Luke kindly got on his knees and helped me pin it – I didn’t enjoy any of the hemming process, it’s a huge hem and I was worried the whole time it was going to be wonky. I did use hot pink bias binding though, because why not?

Hem

Can I confess that I’m not really loving the skirt? I don’t know how to wear it! I imagined I would wear it with a tucked-in top, but it turns out I hate the way that looks (you can see what I mean at the bottom of this post). It’s so much brighter than anything I usually wear, and while I love how flowy and light it feels when I’m wearing it, I feel like I have no suitable tops to pair with it. I’m wondering if a looser fitting top, tucked in, would look okay. I’m desperate for open to suggestions.

Funny

When twirling photos go bad…

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sewing

McCall’s 9125

Do you ever finish sewing something, try it on and just feel…blah about it? This is one of those.

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This skirt is McCall’s 9125, a vintage pattern for a skirt or culottes, jacket and shirt. I am having trouble finding a picture of the pattern online to show you, but the envelope says it’s from 1967. To be honest, this is the kind of skirt that doesn’t even need a pattern – it’s literally two rectangles, gathered and sewn onto a tabbed waistband. But hey, I had the pattern and it’s actually the perfect length for me. This is my second time making it – I don’t think I’ve blogged the first one, only Instagrammed it a while back. I do wear the first one on occasion – it has chartreuse foxes on it, after all – but I’m just not feeling this one.

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The fabric is a rayon challis from Backstreet Bargains (I think) that I’ve had for a while. I love the teal colour, and it’s so flowy and soft. I thought it would work well for this pattern, but now I’m not so sure. It does feel summery to wear, but I don’t feel like it’s very flattering?

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Especially not from the back…geez. Excuse the odd poses, I was wearing a longish cardigan and instead of taking it off, I just hitched it up and held it there. It has a handpicked lapped zipper, done following the instructions on an old vintage zip, and it has a snap fastening at the waistband with a decorative button on the tab.

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It even has self-made matching bias tape on the hem! Why did I go to so much trouble for a skirt I had my doubts about? Who knows. At least it’s well made. But I think I’ll be donating it, sadly, as I just don’t see myself wearing it.

Do you keep your dud makes, or do you get rid of them as soon as you can?

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sewing

Sewing for the husband: Thread Theory Jutland

Whee, it’s not even the end of January and I have another finished project to blog! Look at me go.

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Yes, it’s more sewing for Luke – this time a pair of shorts to go with his new short-sleeved shirt. After my failure with the Jedediah shorts, I was neither keen to use a Thread Theory pattern nor make shorts again. But, the weather in Auckland is humid and gross and warm, and Luke walks to work and back and was not digging it in jeans, so I relented. After trying and failing to find a suitable shorts pattern elsewhere, I gave in and bought the Thread Theory Jutland Pants pattern. The Jutland Pants are really more up Luke’s alley than the Jedediah – Luke is a no-nonsense, practical kind of guy, and these are no-nonsense, practical pants/shorts. He was especially keen on the cargo pockets! I used the instructions as a vague guide and I think they’re a bit better than the Jedediah ones. Or maybe I’ve just had more practice now. Either way, these weren’t a difficult make, just time consuming with all the topstitching and flat-felled seams.

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I made a quick and dirty muslin in a size 39, which is what Luke’s measurements put him at. They were MASSIVE on him, and so after pinning and re-measuring, I went down to a 36. In actuality, I think he’s probably a 37, but that size doesn’t exist on the pattern. It’s a bit odd there’s a 3″ difference between the sizes, really. I could have blended between the sizes, but Luke was impatient for shorts and so I didn’t bother. Between that and festive eating, when Luke tried on the finished shorts, they fit…just. With a helping of muffins over the side. No matter though, because one of our goals this year is to eat healthily and be more active, and I’m pleased to say that after some effort in that department, they fit him quite well! He does say the pockets are a tiiiny bit snug (and you can see kind of a weird fold where the pocket meets the side seam where the pocket lining bunches up if he doesn’t straighten it out), so when I make another pair (because of course he wants another pair) I will make them just a tad larger through the hips.

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The Jutland Pants don’t have any indication of where to cut them off for shorts (that I could see) so Luke indicated to me where he wanted them to sit, and we did it that way. I then carefully moved the cargo pocket markings up the requisite amount to fit them onto the shorts – I could not find anyone else in the sewing blogging world who had done the shorts with the cargo pockets, and believe me I tried, so I was a bit worried maybe it couldn’t be done for some reason, but they turned out great! They look uneven in the photo above, but they’re not – it’s just the way Luke was standing/the way the shorts are sitting with his belt. I did patch pockets on the back, and somehow fudged up the instructions for sewing, folding and turning with the tops of them, but I actually like the way they turned out – a design feature, if you will 😉 He declined any kind of decorative stitching on the pockets. All the seams are flat felled except the crotch seam, which is double stitched and then bound with store-bought grey bias binding, and the waistband, which is finished the way I like it – seam allowance folded in and stitched in the ditch to secure.

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One thing Luke requested was a coin pocket. It was pretty easy to make one – I just measured one on his existing jeans, added seam allowance, positioned it and sewed it on. Done. He wanted it deep enough to put his flashlight in (as seen above), so I added a little bit of depth to it to accommodate that. The inside of the pockets is just plain calico – Luke rejected all offerings of even slightly whimsical fabric from my stash.

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I’m pretty proud of the cargo pockets – I think they look pretty good! Luke chose the buttons from Masco Wools. The fabric for the shorts came from my local Red Cross op shop – they often have a basket out the front of fabric, and all lengths are $3. I brought home 5m of this blue drill fabric, so there’s enough to make some shorts for me if I so desire. Not bad for $3! It’s the perfect weight for these shorts. Zip came from my massive bag of zips from the Salvation Army I scored last year. All in all, a cheap, successful make!

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sewing

Sewing for the husband: Simplicity 1544

Happy 2016, all – I’m not going to bother doing any kind of round-up of 2015’s posts, simply because I didn’t blog that much! However, one of my resolutions this year is to blog more (and sew more), so hopefully there’ll be a bit more action around these parts this year.

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Since I’ve gained some festive weight (despite getting the flu at the end of 2015 and losing 2.5kg in 3 days), I’ve turned to sewing for Luke recently. It’s no hardship – I actually really enjoy making clothes for him, especially as he takes an interest in fabric/styling choices! Due to it being summer in NZ at the moment, he has requested short-sleeved shirts and shorts. I have made him a pair of shorts, but due to his own festive weight gain, they are a tiny bit too snug, so I moved right on to a shirt. We both wanted to move away from the Negroni, which I’ve made for him twice before (and blogged about once) – both because of the camp collar and because of the large facings. So this is Simplicity 1544, the imaginatively named “Men’s shirt with fabric variations”.

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I chose view C, with the pockets of view B. There is no option for short sleeves on the pattern, so I simply measured Luke’s arm from the shoulder to his preferred sleeve length, and folded up the pattern tissue at that point (with seam allowance, of course). I cut out a size 40, after measuring his Negronis to determine how much ease he likes in a shirt, but with the length of size 42. I then added an extra 4cm to the length, because Luke is quite tall (again, I consulted the Negroni for length). I also only cut out 1 pocket, due to fabric constraints. Luke told me he thought the pocket should be on the right side of the shirt, but after wearing it, he’s changed his mind and said he prefers the left. C’est la vie.

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Does anyone know the purpose of the yoke button tab? Luke absolutely loathes any features on clothing that don’t have a purpose, so when he discovered the button tab, he was less than impressed! I didn’t even really think about it, I just added it because it was there and I think it looks nice, even if it doesn’t serve a purpose, but needless to say it will not be appearing on future shirts. He and I were both also disappointed to discover the pleating in the pocket is only for show – the pleat is actually sewn together down the middle and doesn’t allow the pocket to open to accommodate larger items as you’d assume it did.

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The fabric is one I originally bought with myself in mind, from Backstreet Bargains, but when it arrived it was more…beige than I expected, and I popped it in the stash and forgot about it. When I came across it recently, I offered it to Luke, who initially was concerned about whether or not he could pull of tiny giraffes, but I convinced him he could, and here we are. Luke is very fond of the fabric – he said he likes the texture of the weave (ooh, get him using the lingo!) and he rather likes the giraffes now he’s used to the idea. The inside of the yoke and the collar stand are both just unbleached calico, at Luke’s suggestion. He bought the buttons himself, after I discovered none of the shirt buttons in my stash actually match.

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I didn’t entirely follow Simplicity’s instructions, although there were methods in there I quite liked – the button bands, for instance, are attached after the shirt is hemmed, and then folded in half inside out, sewn along the bottom and turned the right way out so they’re all neatly enclosed and level with the hem. I used Andrea of four square walls’ method of attaching the shirt collar, as it’s the best I’ve found. That said, now that he’s worn it for a bit Luke said he would prefer the camp style collar of the Negroni on further shirts, as it suits the casual style of the short-sleeved shirt better. I did a faux flat-felled seam on the side seams, rather than just double stitching them as Simplicity suggest. They use the burrito method of sewing the yoke, which is always my preferred method – it gives such a good feeling of satisfaction when you turn it out, it’s like magic.

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The pièce de résistance – a label, carefully hand-stitched in. I bought a roll of adorable label ribbon from Daiso for $3.50, and I asked Luke to choose one for his shirt. He couldn’t go past this lamb, and it’s what I would have chosen as well. Too cute!

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fabric shopping

International fabric shopping recommendations, come at me!

In just over a week, Luke and I will be heading to Europe! Much excitement here right now. Luke is attending conferences in Germany and the Netherlands, and I’m tagging along. Then we’re heading to Iceland together for 10 days!

Of course, I’ll be hoping to get some fabric souvenirs from the trip ;P – they’re the best kind, right? So, if you happen to know of any cool fabric shops I should check out in Jena (unlikely, but you never know), Amsterdam/Leiden (probably most places in the Netherlands, really, it’s quite easy to zip about by train there) or Reykjavik, please let me know!

I have been doing some holiday preparation sewing, but it’s of a fairly boring variety – lots of merino! Leggings for Luke and I, long-sleeved tops for us both. I have about a million projects I want to start, but due to work my sewing is being done in tiny snippets here and there, and I haven’t been able to make half the things I planned!

Because I don’t like posts without pictures, here’s one of the lovely dude I’m fostering at the moment for The Lonely Miaow – Sylvester!

Sylvesterrrr

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sewing

Sewing for the husband: Papercut Undercover Hood

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Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of selfless sewing. Luke has started showing more interest in what he wears, and as a result, is very keen on having an entirely handmade wardrobe. Somewhat surprisingly, I’ve really been enjoying the process of making him clothes – talking about his colour palette (I’m not even joking, he’s made himself a colour palette), picking out fabrics, talking style details and selecting patterns. This is my latest make for him, an oatmeal merino hoodie from the Papercut Patterns Undercover Hood pattern.

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You may be wondering why I chose to use a pattern designed for women to make a hoodie for a man. The main answer would be, because I’m cheap. I also want to make a hoodie for myself, and I figured that the Undercover Hood is a fairly boxy pattern and could suit us both. Also, at the time I didn’t think there were many other men’s hoodies patterns out there (forgetting, of course, about the Finlayson Sweater from Thread Theory). At any rate, I’d already bought the Papercut pattern on advice from Sandra at a recent sewing meetup, so I forged ahead. I cut out a size L, based on Luke’s measurements, and lengthened the sleeves and body accordingly as Luke is 6’4″. There was some to-and-fro about whether Luke wanted the hoodie version or the neckband version – I ended up cutting both out as he couldn’t decide, but in the end he went with the hood and I think it was a good choice.

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The hoodie was the most fun part for me – I went with eyelets, rather than buttonholes, for the drawstring – all the RTW hoodies I’ve ever owned have had eyelets and besides, I hate making buttonholes. I got them from Geoff’s (where else?) along with the rope cord for the drawstring. The fabric for the hoodie came from Trademe and is a sweatshirting weight, with looped terry on the wrong side. It’s snuggly warm! I’m so proud of my stitching on this hoodie – I used a triple stretch stitch for most of it, including the topstitching on the pouch pocket. I was terrified of sewing that on, but I fused knit stay tape onto all the edges beforehand, and used my walking foot and the stretch stitch and it worked perfectly – no waviness at all! I twin needled the open edges. I sewed all the other seams with the triple stretch stitch so they’re nice and sturdy and durable. I overlocked the raglan seams, but my overlocker has serious issues so I quit while I was ahead for fear of ruining any further seams.

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As for the fit – I think it’s okay. I mean, it wasn’t designed with a guy in mind, but I think hoodies are not exactly fitted garments, so it’s fine. Luke really likes it, and has been wearing it a whole lot since I finished it a week ago. His only complaint is that the sleeve cuffs are a bit snug, and I figured out why just recently – when I was packing up the pattern pieces and cutting them down to an M for me, I realised the cuffs had been cut to an M already! So no wonder it’s a little hard for Luke to get his giant man hands through them. Oops. He says they’re already stretching out a bit though, so that’s good. Otherwise it’s all good – there seems to be *something* going on with the armpit/upper bicep area with the sleeves, but I don’t know what – there’s a fair bit of wrinkling there. I don’t know enough about men’s clothing to know what the deal is, or how to fix it, but Luke is comfy in it so that’s all that matters!

Next on the Luke Clothing Project list is jeans – eep! Wish me luck…

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pattern testing, sewing

A New Black Harriet

So, as you may have seen, Named released their new pattern collection today, New Black! I’m quite a fan of Named’s patterns – they’re always fresh, different and very trendy. I’ve pattern tested for two of Named’s collections now – Ticket and New Black. They are a really nice company to pattern test for – super friendly, very quick to answer any questions, and very organised. There’s no requirement to blog about anything you test for them, but I have been dying to show you all my Harriet jacket that I tested for them this time! In case you were wondering, last time I pattern tested the Delphine maxi dress – I picked something out of my comfort zone, and although it’s a great pattern, it didn’t suit me at all and I didn’t feel comfortable in it, so I never blogged about it. C’est la vie!

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But back to Harriet. When Named sent me the catalogue to pick a pattern to test, I didn’t even hesitate. Harriet was number one on my list, and I was delighted when they let me know I was testing it! Unfortunately, right after they sent me the pattern was the unexpected start of an extremely busy period at work. Some people quit and my boss went on holiday, and I found myself working every day of the week, often for 10 hour days. Add to this the fact that I’ve never made a jacket before, of any description, and well…my delight quickly changed to terror.

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I already had a wool blend coating that I’d bought from Trademe some time ago, with the idea of making a jacket some time in the future. I did go to the Fabric Store to see if they had anything else suitable, but nothing there really caught my eye, and I was loathe to spend lots of $$ on fabric for a pattern that might not work out. So I stuck with my black wool, but I did splurge a little and buy some fabulous faux fur for the collar! For the lining, I bought a quilted…something from Geoff’s Emporium. In all honesty, I probably should have used an interlining, too – the black wool was just a little too lightweight, and I feel the jacket could benefit from a tiny amount more structure. I interfaced everything the pattern said to, and I had some fancy fusible interfacing in my stash especially for wool from making a wool circle skirt (that may or may not be sitting in my WIP pile, dating back to Berkeley days). I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s grey and feels fancy. And cost $14.95 a metre!

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I made up the jacket in a size 42. With the quilted lining, it’s a tiny bit snug – particularly in the upper sleeves, which I should have seen coming, since I always have trouble fitting my upper arms. I didn’t want to make too many adjustments though, as I figured it was most useful for Named if I made it as close to out-of-the-packet as possible. I did shorten the sleeves by quite a bit – 9cm – which ended up being slightly too much. It was hard to judge, and I didn’t have time to make a muslin. I think 7cm would have been perfect. It’s not too noticeable, that they’re a bit short – only really if I hold my arms out straight in front of me, and who does that on a daily basis? I also made a 1cm narrow shoulder adjustment, which is standard for me on almost any top these days. Next time, I’d lower the bust darts a smidge too. All of this could easily have been caught with a muslin, if I’d had the time to do one.

I used the size 40 for length – this style of jacket is something I’ve never worn before, and I honestly wasn’t sure where it was supposed to hit. Hip? Waist? I ended up going for hip, and I like it this way. I’m quite happy with the length. I left off the elbow patches, as I wanted a more simple jacket.

The jacket involve a lot of firsts for me – first welt pockets, first open-ended zipper, first sleeve heads/shoulder pads, first two-part sleeve and first lining of a jacket. Phew! It is an absolute testament to the quality of Named’s instructions that I was able to make this in the timeframe I did (1 week, basically, by the time I got the supplies and cut out all the pieces and fabric). Amazingly enough, I didn’t have to unpick anything! It all went smoothly. Notches matched up everywhere and I managed to mark the placement of the pockets and snap buttons perfectly (I thread marked them with silk basting thread that’s been in my stash for ages, because sometimes my beloved Chaco chalk pens don’t quite rub off fluffier fabrics). I was especially hesitant of the zip – it’s something that needs to line up pretty much spot on to work, and it did! Also, how awesome is my zip?!

IMG_1684Metal open-ended zips appear to be a rare beast in Auckland, and I was lucky to find this one in a basket in Geoff’s for $1. It was a bit too long, unfortunately, and I spent an unpleasant hour on the couch wrenching tiny zip teeth off with a pair of pliers – not fun. But it’s good to know that metal zips are able to be shortened! Speaking of the zip – I used my walking foot everywhere to sew this jacket (it lives on my machine now basically) except the zip – the only way I could get a nice finish with the zip was to use my zipper foot to sew it in. The instructions don’t mention this, but I found it helped immensely.

I got my shoulder pads and sleeve heads from Hawes & Freer, a local company that sells tailoring notions and fabrics. They have quite a comprehensive selection, and I chose ones on the lighter side – in hindsight, I should have gotten slightly bulkier ones, but the idea of shoulder pads was frightening and I didn’t have time to play around with different kinds. It’s possible that the ones I chose would have been fine with a more sturdy fabric, too.

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It’s not super flattering from the side – it’s quite a boxy jacket, and a bit bulky with the quilted lining and facings. But it’s not supposed to be a fitted jacket, and I think I just need to get used to a different silhouette on me. I feel very comfortable in it (it’s very warm!) and quite stylish – I’ve admired these kind of jackets on other people for ages but never thought of taking the plunge and making one myself. I’ll leave you with a couple more detail shots – I’m so proud of this jacket, it’s definitely the most complicated thing I’ve ever made! And I’ve already worn it a lot, even with the tiny-bit-too-short sleeves 🙂

IMG_1730I lined my welt pockets with rayon scraps…so soft when I slide my hands in!

IMG_1731Snap buttons from Geoff’s – I love how they look!

So, what do you guys think of the new collection? What are your favourite picks? I like the look of the Sloane sweatshirt and the Mimosa culottes…they were second and third on my pattern testing wishlist 😉

Disclaimer (I guess?): I received this pattern to test. I have received a copy of the final pattern for free as a thank you for testing. I hope you guys know by now I’d tell you the pattern was shit if it was, so hopefully you’ll know my opinion is not easily influenced by free patterns 🙂 It’s genuinely a good pattern with good instructions.

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