Monday, January 26, 2015

Two-Piece Setacular

Hi! Happy new year. It's been so long since I blogged. After Sewjourn in December last year I sprained my neck. That has seriously curtailed my sewing, blogging, fun etc. But I'm slowly on the road to recovery and have something I sewed at Sewjourn to show you.

I really love Gorman clothing. Their most current collection had a bunch of 'sets' of clothing - predominantly full skirts and culottes teamed with a cropped woven tank. I really wanted my own version. I was also hugely inspired by the round of Setaculars, the brain child of Sophie from Ada Spragg, that were everywhere in blogland last year.

First, I found the perfect fabric - an Italian cotton called Ink Floreale from Tessuti, which is now no longer available. I then decided to make a circle skirt and a matching cropped top. I used vintage Style 3863 for the skirt - a full circle skirt pattern from the 1980's.

I borrowed this picture from the Tessuti blog - Lisa also made this recently.

I then used my staple woven tank pattern, OOP Simplicity 2599, to create a cropped tank.

So, here she is! My Gorman-inspired two-piece setacular.


I tried to get it so that tank finished just over my waistband, and would only flash teeny bits of skin when I stretched. One of the women at Sewjourn helped me mark the length - I can't remember who it was, but they were spot on! Thanks!

Can you see my invisible zip at the CB? Me either!!

This all came together really well. I have made the tank a million times so no thought was really needed. The skirt hung from the first night at Sewjourn until last weekend.... so over a month. This wasn't intentional, I just couldn't really sew for a while after spraining my neck. I had to machine stitch it (I wouldn't usually) as I'm still not up to long periods of hand stitching (or sewing full stop).

I feel amazingly feminine in this outfit. There is something about wearing a waisted skirt with the cropped tank, and the swishy-ness of the skirt that makes me feel all w-o-m-a-n.

I'm glad to be back blogging. I have a backlog from Sewjourn and one item from since I've been back. I'm also really looking forward to sewing a bit more now my neck is on the mend.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ruby in Manning

Tomorrow Michael and I have been married for 7 years (we've been together for 12 years). Happy anniversary babe!

To celebrate, I booked in my sister to babysit lunch time next Sunday (she's pretty busy at the moment so no night-time hot dates for us). Then my lovely friend Therese (chooktopia on Instagram), who is also mum to Little M's BFF, asked if Little M could come for a playdate today at her place, and told me and Mike to go out for lunch. As if we would refuse!

In anticipation of next Sunday, I had made myself the new Tessuti pattern, the Ruby Top/Dress to wear on our date. Any excuse for a new frock, I say. I made it in a Liberty Lawn called 'Manning' that I have had in my stash for some time.
Tessuti list suitable fabrics as "light to medium weight linens or linen blends, rayons, viscose and silks". I think I am just scraping in using a lawn. I tried on the sample in Tessuti, made of silk crepe de chine and it flowed over my body better. It also sat at the neckline a tad more nicely.

Don't get me wrong - this lawn version is super comfy and I really like the way it looks, but that crepe de chine sample was all sorts of divine.

See how the lawn billows a little? The silk didn't do that.

I made the size 8, grading to a size 10 at the arm-holes (I know there is a more correct term than that, but I'm too tired to google it and find out) only. I do have quite broad shoulders. I also lengthened the dress length by 8cm and used the teeniest baby hem. I have cut out a viscose crepe version to sew at Sewjourn soon and lengthened by 10cm.

I really like the cut-away arms and the key hole back. I do wish there had been information in the instructions on how to make a thread loop though. I had to search around for a tutorial - the one I found was on the Oliver and S website. 

I didn't stitch-in-the-ditch for the binding on the neck and arms. I don't possess that level of finesse in ditch-stitching and love hand-stitching anyway, so I hand-stitched that binding down. Worked a treat and it meant I could control the tension on the binding to. Take note if you make this - you really do need to stretch the binding a little to get it to sit nicely. 

So, there you have it! A Ruby in Manning. I think I'll wear this a lot. It was very cool to wear on this 37 degree day here today. I have cut out a linen version and the viscose crepe I mentioned before - both to sew at Sewjourn. I also think I'll buy some silk crepe de chine in the fabric sales post-Christmas and make another Ruby dress to wear to my sister's hen's night in February. Are you going to make this? I think it is a great basic with an edge. I see many of the tops in my future too.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Simplicity 1366

Simplicity 1366, a drop-shouldered, cropped top has been doing the rounds of late. I thought it looked good, but wasn't going to buy it. Then three bloggers whose style I adore made it up, and I decided to take the plunge. Check out Mixed Emotions version,  Groovy Baby and Mama's version,  and Lily Sage & Co's version.

To start, I decided to make it in leftovers of a viscose I bought from Tessuti last Christmas - I made a pair of Suzy pants and had about 1m leftover. So I made a 1366!

Warning: these photos are fairly terrible, sorry. It was rainy and yucky and I was en route to work and had about 2 minutes to get photographed. My motto these days is to get things photographed. Otherwise they never will.

I made a size 12 and after some advice from fellow Instagrammers of similar height to me, lengthened it at the hem and at the sleeves by 2.5cm.

In future versions, I will pinch about 1cm out of the back neckline. It is a tad too wide across there.

I wore it with my black Libby A-Line skirt. Perhaps a teeny bit short for work, but I am used to government attire. Would never wear this to a government job, but I was sitting in my office all day that day. Although I did go out for lunch with my boss. I think next week I will wear it with my black Papercut Patterns Pleated pants and brogues.

I think this looks like one of those professional school photos were you turn slightly side on and smile, usually with a white sheet behind you.

Have you made one of these? I'm going to make a Liberty one soon (maybe at Sewjourn), and like the idea of lengthening it into a dress - perhaps in a nice rayon or viscose. How about you?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Alice - the Dress AND the Top.

So... I made myself a 'set' of sorts. I made the new Tessuti Alice Pattern in both the dress and top options, in the same fabric (also from Tessuti).

Am I weird? I have feeling I am. 

When this pattern came out, I knew I would make it in this lovely linen from Tessuti (all sold out, unfortunately). I bought 3.2m of it a while back, thinking I'd make a maxi dress. I changed my mind - a sewist's prerogative, I say!

Let's start with some pictures of the dress:

I made the top and dress simultaneously, so will discuss them together. The length of the skirt portion in both the top and the dress is very long  - I used a 10cm hem for both (5cm doubled over) - so perhaps think of shortening if you are shorter! I am 173cm for reference.  

I cut a size small, however, it was enormous. I do measure closer to an extra small in the Tessuti Patterns these days, but chose to cut the small because I have swimmer's broad shoulders (I don't swim except for leisure, but was told constantly as a young person that I have a swimmer's physique). 

Unfortunately, I found out the size small was too big when the dress AND the top were completed, bar the hems. Gosh I was cranky at myself for not trying on during sewing. I unpicked the arm band/cap sleeves (overlocking, under stitching, all stitching!) and took them in under the arms by 5cm on each side. That meant I also had to take in the arm bands by 5cm on each side. 

The linen I used is quite lightweight and ever so slightly sheer, so I used a white linen to line the yoke and cap sleeves/arm band thingies. Colette from Tessuti also mentioned on Instagram that the linen size small she has made 'grew' by an additional size - mine however was much larger than one size difference. I can't honestly say if it is a sizing issue or a fabric issue. I do plan on making more of these, and will cut a size small, but try it on before I sew on the arm bands. It is easy enough to take in - if you don't sew on the arm bands first!!

Maybe a tiny pregnancy vibe? No, I'm not :-)

I really love both the dress and the top. The fabric is divine - it, and the Alice pattern remind me of Gorman's current collection. I love everything in the current Gorman season. I think I will wear both of these a lot this summer - will you be making one?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Gabriola the Great.

I have decided that this summer, I will wear only maxi skirts. Does that sound dramatic? I hope so, because my Gabriola makes me feel dramatic.

Sewaholic's Gabriola Skirt pattern is a different maxi to those I have worn in the past. It is pieced and flared, rather than being more of a dirndl skirt. I love it.

I made it from a rayon from Tessuti. The rayon was gorgeous to sew with. Check out that beautiful fluid drape!

I did a few things differently. Firstly, I didn't like the idea of a straight waistband on curved yoke pieces. So I used the Clover pants waistband. It fit perfectly to the size 8 Gabriola skirt pattern pieces.  Secondly, I cut the yoke pieces on the straight grain instead of on the bias. I read quite a few reviews saying they buckled along the seam lines when cut on the bias and sewn together.

Look - no buckling!

The zipper was horrible to insert. I used an invisible (the pattern calls for a regular zip), and it took 4 attempts of basting, sewing, unpicking etc to get all those yoke pieces to align. Grrrrrr.

Have I mentioned I love this skirt?

I have received soooo many compliments wearing it. A rather hilarious one was I was wearing it at the Gr'lld Burger place in Hawthorn with my sister Ruth and Little M. I ordered the 'Hot Mama' burger (love chilli) and the barely-out-of-puberty waiter said to me 'the right burger for you, love your skirt'! Embarrassing beyond belief.

Are you going to make the Gabriola? I urge you to!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Yves Saint Laurent Set-Acular Goes to the Nurse's Ball

My lovely sister Ruth asked me a while back if I would like to go as her date to her annual nurse's ball. Matt, her fiancé, has decided it is not his thing. It is most definitely my thing. Getting dressed up, swanning around sipping champagne, being generally a little bit fancy. Being the mother of a 3 yo, I do not get fancy. I get dirty, rumpled and generally tired. In short, I jumped at the chance to have a fancy night on the town with my dear sister.

I had planned another dress, out of silk I got for Christmas. I stuffed the bodice. I could fix it, but could not fix it in time for the ball. I don't really have a fancy fabrics stash, with lovely silks waiting my attention, so with just under two weeks until the ball, I paid Tessuti a rather panicked visit, and bought 2.2m of Musk Graffiato, a divine silk crepe de chine that Trish told me was a Yves Saint Laurent fabric. Let me tell you, it is amazing.

As I didn't have much time, I decided to go super simple. I also really wanted to make something I would wear again. I have done a wardrobe purge recently and need flattering clothing I feel good in. I have also been lusting after a very simple maxi skirt that Debbie made a while back, and so decided I would do a maxi skirt and shell top.

The top is Simplicity 2599 a very simple shell top with a few variations. I made the most simple of tops, no frill, in a size 12. The only things I did differently were binding the neck and arms and I used french seams. No way an overlocker was coming anywhere near my beautiful silk!

The skirt is a basic gathered skirt. I used a straight waistband with the zip going all the way to the top - I really don't like button overlaps on these types of skirts.

I didn't line either - I wanted them to be summer garments, light and swishy. The fabric was an absolute dream. Just wonderful to sew with.

I wore it with an Elk necklace and earrings, Elk shoes and a Saba belt.

Here I am with Ruthy. Little M said she looked like a ballerina queen. High praise. 

I had a great time - it was nice to be out and about, nattering away and eating nice food and drinking champagne. And of course, being all dressed up!

I see myself getting a lot of wear from these two pieces as separates. I think it was a good idea to sew something like this. I'm doing some serious planning for my Summer wardrobe. I want it to be a thoughtful plan, with coordinated pieces that will last. Do you plan your sewing? Or are you like me usually - sew the newest pattern in whatever fabric takes your fancy? 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Vogue 1395: The Meat Dinner Dress

Every year, Michael's family has two fancy-pants dinners together where we all go to a nice restaurant and eat (way too much), drink and be merry. They are generally scheduled around birthdays - one in April, one in October. The one this October was last night at San Telmo, an Argentinian restaurant here in Melbourne. It was a meat-fest and I woke up craving some crisp greens and tomatoes. Michael suggested we have lamb chops for dinner tonight and is still laughing at the filthy look I gave him. I like meat (love a good quality rare steak), but not to that extent - I have reduced my intake of red meat drastically in the last year and feel much healthier for it.

Anyway, I decided to make a dress to wear - I'm a bit sick of the good old sack at the moment, and feel like some waist definition. I decided I would sew a new pattern - one of the Rebecca Taylor for Vogue ones - V1395.

This is a fairly basic dress made less basic by the addition of a back overlay that extends into the ties at the waist. I was intrigued after seeing Morgan's Bee Version. Morgan is one of my favourite bloggers. I decided to use my rather precious length of rayon from Darn Cheap Fabrics that I bought after Jenny made this top out of it. The fabric is lush, but was horrible to sew for this dress. Narrow hems and slinky rayon were not made for each other and I had to unpick a lot. Luckily I made this when Little M was out, as she would now have a lot of very choice swear words in her vocabulary too. This is what I ended up with:

I made some adjustments after a muslin. I had to take 3.5cm out of each shoulder seam, beginning at the neck edge. I then added 3cm to the length of the bodice, and 5cm to the skirt length.

In these photos, the neckline looks way too high, and I admit for the first two hours I wore it, it annoyed the living daylights out of me. Magically though, after those 2 hours, it somehow settled in place and sits about 2cm lower - which is where I wanted it. I wonder what happened? So weird.

My wings. That is the back overlay being extended out, which you then tie in front (obviously). I found I had to cinch it in pretty firmly, otherwise I looked a little pregnant (which I'm not).

That's a pretty awesome tan line happening there!! I accidentally got burnt at Phillip Island last weekend. I am usually so anal about being sunsmart. 

While I didn't completely enjoy making this dress, I really enjoyed sewing something different and something that wasn't a sack. I'm not ruling out future sacks, but I don't reach for them as I used to. Maybe when summer properly hits I will.

I'm currently making a dress to wear to my sister's professional ball in two weeks. I have barely started - I have no sewjo!!! What are you sewing?