sewing

Scribble Flower Named Kielo Dress

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Hello hello, how’re we all doing? Another inadvertent break from blogging, but I’m back with a new dress – the Named Kielo wrap dress. I’ve been aware of this pattern for ages, but I didn’t think it would suit me, so I didn’t pay much attention to it. But after a few failed projects that I *did* think would suit me and ended up being swiftly donated, I threw caution to the winds and decided to go in a different direction. And you know, I’m so glad I did, because I love this dress!

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I hesitated over what size to make – my measurements put me at a size 44 in the bust, but my fabric was quite stretchy and I wanted a flattering fit, so I went with a 42 in the end. Speaking of the fabric, I really struggle finding nice knits in NZ, but I liked this scribbly flower one I found on Trademe because it’s not your typical floral. It’s polyester, but it does drape nicely and that was my main concern. Unfortunately it’s also a little sheer, so I have to wear tights and a camisole underneath (or a slip, if I owned one) for modesty.

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I didn’t want a maxi dress, so I cut a whole heap off the length. I don’t even know how much, even if I’d wanted a maxi dress I would have had to cut heaps off as it’s drafted for tall people and I’m 155cm. I also cut length off the sleeves, as I wanted them elbow length rather than full length. I sewed the entire thing on my overlocker, because I got a new one that I can actually use! I was using some janky old Babylock previously that was a bitch to thread and frequently snapped threads and other business, so I sold it and bought a Brother 1034D second hand (which came with an instructional VHS!) that I love. I paused when it came to finishing the neckline and the hems though, as it’s quite a drapy knit and not very stable. I didn’t want it to stretch out, and I was out of that fusible knit tape everyone thinks is so great. I came across a blog post somewhere about making your own out of fusible interfacing cut on the bias, so I overlocked all the raw edges and applied the interfacing to the hem, turned it under and tried sewing it with a twin needle, but just as I was thinking it was going well, my machine had a fit and refused to deal with it any longer. I tried rethreading it several times, but nothing worked, so I unpicked it all and peeled off the interfacing and just left it as an overlocked hem – the same with the sleeves. I kind of like it, honestly, so I’m leaving it that way.

I just made a binding for the neck from self-fabric, and made it 3/4 of the length of the neckline and attached it with my overlocker, gently stretching it the whole way. I’m very happy with that finish!

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I think my style is changing a bit. Before this I tried making another Colette Moneta out of a purple jersey from The Fabric Store, but I forgot how wide the neckline is on that dress and hated it the minute I put it on, and it was way too purple. Before that I made a Sewaholic Granville shirt from a grey linen with contrast orange birds, and I hated that too because it looked stupid and didn’t flatter my figure at all. It can be hard to find motivation to keep sewing when everything turns out badly and you start to wonder if you can even sew properly or make trustworthy decisions about your wardrobe, so thank goodness for this dress – a much needed win.

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It’s perfect for hugging the neighbour’s cat, too!

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sewing

Silky Asaka for MIL

As we all know, it was Mother’s Day recently in the southern hemisphere, and for the first time in about 5 years, Luke and I were actually in a position to see our mothers on the day! I figured the occasion deserved something a little better than flowers or chocolates, so I decided to make each of our mothers a handmade garment as a gift.

For my mother, I chose the Oslo cardigan from Seamwork. Unfortunately, I have no photos to show you because I was working on it right up until the night before our flight to Australia, and my mother is extremely photo-shy, and wouldn’t allow me to take any pictures of her wearing it. I’ll tell you, though, that it was in a black boiled wool knit with handmade buttonholes (because my machine refused to even contemplate stitching them for me) and bronze walnut buttons, and she absolutely loved it and it fit perfectly.

For my mother-in-law, Kim, I decided on the Asaka robe from Named, which I bought a year or so ago and hadn’t used yet. I wanted something pretty, and also something that was forgiving when it comes to fitting, as I wasn’t sure of Kim’s actual measurements and didn’t want to spoil the surprise by asking. I cut out a size 44 with no adjustments and traced them off, as this was sadly just before their announcement that they had converted it into their new layered sizing PDF format 😦

20160515_103326Kim was more than happy to pose for blog photos!

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The fabric I used I have been hoarding for quite some time. I bought it in an op shop in Hahndorf, a lovely little Germanic town in the Adelaide Hills – it was on a bolt, and it was only $5! I liked the pattern, so I bought it. When I got it home and unrolled it, there was about 10 metres of it there…and it was by John Kaldor! What a bargain! It’s very light and silky, but not see-through. I’m not sure if it’s a silk blend or what it is, as I haven’t done a burn test, but it feels delightful on the skin so I knew it would be perfect for this robe. I prewashed it in warm water in the machine and it held up just fine (I didn’t want to give Kim something she would have to hand wash all the time).

Construction was fairly straightforward. I French seamed everything I could so there were no raw edges visible, and I hand stitched the collar down on the inside for a clean, neat finish. That took forever, but it was well worth it! I also used a starch stabiliser to stop the fabric from shifting to make sure everything was neat and straight, particularly for the belt and the sleeve vents. Then I just washed the completed garment at the end to remove any traces of starch, and it was good to go!

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Kim really loves it, and it fits her perfectly, so I’m pretty happy it turned out so well, and I was able to give both our mothers gifts they love and will hopefully use for a long time to come!

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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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