Swimsuit making // my kind of bikini

This bikini is just a modified version of the one-piece swimsuit pattern that I’ve been working on recently. You may have already seen several versions of the pants (here, here, here, and here). There have been many more. If you are Australian, you are familiar with Bonds underwear. I can’t get my fix over here so I had to make my own. The design of the pants is based on a much loved style that I’ve been wearing for years. I began making underwear for myself in a similar (but hipster) style last year and I’ve been tweaking them a little with each make. I don’t have it in me to share my knickers on the internet, but somehow I can prance around in a bikini…go figure.

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The bikini top took me a few goes to get right. That’s what happens when you look for a complicated solution to a simple problem. Thankfully it worked out in the end. This is my perfect style of bikini. The top isn’t too skimpy. It’s fully lined, and yet it still has that carefree element that I love in a bikini top.

High waist swimsuit bottoms might be on trend right now, but I also love the extra coverage. I feel happiest with the waistband finishing a little above my belly-button. Since having babies, I feel a bit nude with too much of my belly exposed. If I had more courage, I’d wear skimpy bottoms and show the world my baby-made tiger stripes. I should. And maybe I will when I’m sick of the high waist trend. The world should know that bodies are never the same after babies, and it’s ok, and that they are still very beautiful.

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I’m not going to keep this bikini. I already have more swimsuits than I can possibly wear. This one is getting packaged up with a few other things for my sister-in-law when my parents head home after their much anticipated visit. My brother is involved with the surf life-saving community in Queensland and his family has a much more beach-going, pool-loving lifestyle than what I lead. I had him do some detective size-sleuthing and I think they should fit well, and be put to good use.

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If you are interested in testing this pattern for me (in either the one-piece or bikini version), please head over to follow my Facebook page. I still have a little bit of work to do here, but will hopefully post the sign up form for testers this week.

The bias cut dress // RTW copy

About ten years ago, I purchased a dress on whim from a little boutique in Wells, Somerset (England). I was in my twenties. I didn’t sew. I was fickle with fashion (I still am). I had no idea about fabric back then, apart from the vague understanding that silk was special.

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This is the dress that caught my eye. It wasn’t the type of dress I’d normally wear. It was silk satin (oh the splendour!) and about three times what I’d normally pay for a garment. I remember loitering in that boutique for what seemed like hours, but I eventually walked out the door with it and I’m so glad that I did. As far as semi-formal dresses go (aka wedding guest/corporate dinner attire), this one has had the most wear of anything I’ve ever bought.

I’d been meaning to copy it for a long time now, but I’ve been hesitant because it is bias cut silk. And not recently bias cut either, so whilst it still fits beautifully, it has visibly grown in different places from years spent on the hanger. I wasn’t confident that I would be able to identify the correct shapes of the different pattern pieces.

I also don’t sew a lot of bias cut garments. I adore bias cuts but I still find them a little magical. The pattern shapes are different to regular patterns because the bias stretch needs to be taken into account when drafting. I’m sure there is a formula for this but I’m not experienced with it. There are also different techniques for sewing fabrics on the bias. The unknown is further amplified by the fact that slippery, difficult to manage fabrics are the ones that often make the most beautiful bias cut garments.

My first plan was to look for a bias cut dress pattern that I could use and adapt. I found two wonderful patterns that I may still sew one day. However, because I had quite specific style lines in mind and was wary about sizing and fit, I chose to drape the pattern on my dress mannequin instead. It took me two calico muslins to achieve a fit that I was happy with. This dress is my wearable muslin.

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The fabric is inexpensive polyester with a reasonably close hand to silk. However, the drape and bias stretch in this is still less than what you’d get with a beautiful silk satin. The hem of my muslin didn’t grow by anything discernible (by my eye) in a whole week. Because the polyester is a little more stable, there’s less “cling” in my muslin than the original. You want cling with a bias cut dress. But, apart from pressing, it was also easier to sew.

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I’m very happy with the fit of my version of this dress. Seeing it side by side with it’s RTW inspiration is a great help in seeing what needs to be changed. The skirt needs to be pegged in at the bottom more. Perhaps the edge of the armscye could be moved medially a smidgen in the front. The back is a bit roomier in my version, but this is a good thing. You can’t see it in the photos, but the back darts on my RTW dress are straining and the stitches have been stretched permanently to twice their size. Otherwise, it’s pretty close. Correcting the skirt will hopefully move it from secretary to screen goddess. I might also try some little sleeves in the future.

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Daisy Chain Top for Miss Three

I made this  Daisy Chain top specifically to go with Miss Three’s fairy shorts. I salvaged my last little bits of fairy fabric and paired it with a little bit of white linen.

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I bound the hem with self made binding in a floral that co-ordinates with the fairy fabric. Unfortunately, it doesn’t match perfectly. I didn’t have any suitable white binding on hand or enough fairy fabric, or any confidence that I would like the look of a top with fairies on it anyway. For the back placket, I made use of what buttons I already had on hand (quite boring but in the perfect subtle shade of pearl blush).

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I’m not usually a fan of novelty fabric (heaven knows why I purchased the fairy cotton in the first place). My plan was to simply get those fairy faces out of my stash. It has, however, turned out to be one of the sweetest things that I’ve made for this child. I catch myself admiring her each and every time she twirls by.

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Refashioned // leather trimmed tunic

The thing about unfitted dresses (like the ones below) is that they need to be short or they can verge on looking frumpy. In my opinion, the black tunic dress that I used for this refashion went slightly over the length threshold. It’s only a very small difference, but it has a big impact. Compare the difference in look with these two very similar dresses.

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There were a few other things about the black dress that I didn’t like. The base ponte fabric, whilst interfaced, didn’t have the structure to give this style a nice shape. It drapes too much. I should have either made it fitting (as would suit a ponte knit) or choose a more structured, woven fabric and flared it out. Like the length, the fit is half-way there but neither fitted or boxy. The sleeves and front zipper don’t do this dress any favours either, but I remember why I made it as I did. I was using up a limited scrap supply at the time which meant I couldn’t cut the fabric as one piece and proper sleeves weren’t an option.

I did actually wear this dress a LOT during Winter. I’m not as fussy about clothes when it comes to dressing warm (hello minus 15 degrees Celsius!) and this seemed to be the fall-back dress I would pull out anytime we had a dinner or event to go to. It was comfortable, warm, and I usually wore it layered with tights and my Dior knock-off coat. However, in the light of Summer, I was able to make a more objective critique of the garment. And the critique led me to this:

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I love problem solving ways to make things work and I definitely enjoyed the process of making this jacket. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that anything about it is couture. I just bound and topstitched the leather and I have yet to hammer those seams flat. The waist tie is an unfinished strip of leather. I really wasn’t sure that this would work out at all. It still leaves a lot to be desired, but it is much better than I anticipated, and a good reference point for drafting a similar piece in the future (and one that might closer resemble my inspiration).

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The steps in this refashion were pretty simple. I started with my tunic and cut off the hem to the length of jacket I wanted. I preserved that hem (including the back embellishment) by dividing it in half and turning those halves into the sleeves.

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I then just unpicked the bound neckline to change the shape of it a little, attached the front leather panels, and bound or turned the raw edges under.

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I can see myself getting a lot of wear out of this in Autumn, but most likely with jeans. I seem to be without jeans at the moment or I would have worn them in the photos. Jeans are one of my few RTW concessions. I just can’t summon the desire to make myself a pair, despite admiring the amazing handiwork of others out there.

 

 

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This top has been the Summer top of the season in our household. You may have seen my first version of this top on my Instagram feed about three months ago. And since then, I’ve shared several other versions. All three of my girls loved their test versions so much that I decided to digitise the pattern. It is the perfect mish-mash of twirly-girly style and playtime practicality.

You can check out the Daisy Chain top pattern here:

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Kwik Sew 1615: Tutu togs for the cousin

I made this little swimsuit for my niece, who is very close in age to my Miss Five, but a bit more petite in size.

I used my daughter as a sizing estimate and these photos were supposed to help me adjust the straps to suit her slightly smaller cousin. It wasn’t the easiest process, because wearing these bathers instilled a sudden sense of silliness in Miss Five which rendered it impossible for her to stand still.

These bathers were made to a size 7. I think I may have lengthened them by 1/4 to 1/2 inch but I can’t quite remember. I used a previously traced copy of the pattern that I’d sewn last season for Miss Seven.

The length is perfect on my exceptionally tall Miss Five, but they are just a bit too wide. You can see how the underarm gapes when her arms are down. The front neck is also a little wide so the binding doesn’t sit flat and there are some wrinkles at her waist. However, these fit issues are hugely amplified by the straps being too long. I always err on the conservative side with strap length to begin with and only baste them in place initially. The gape and neckline fit improved a lot after I shortened the back straps, but two photo shoots were not an option.

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These tutu togs are going to be a bit big for the recipient too. In retrospect, a size 6 would have been a better match, but since it’s currently Winter in Australia anyway, too big is probably better than too small.

The fabric I used was leftover after sewing another pair of bathers for her mother. I like inflicting a little bit of matchy-matchy on unsuspecting victims. I wasn’t able to make the main fabric stretch the whole way for these little tutu togs, which is why you see the green contrast fabric for the straps.

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Tie back boots by Big Little // pattern tested

I pattern tested for Lisa Spearman of Big Little recently. You might have already seen the first sneaky peek of my test version on Instagram. It’s exciting to report that the pattern is now ready to go and it’s available in the Big Little Etsy shop until Sunday with a discount if you use the code: BOOTS.

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It was an utterly out of season make for me (38 degrees Celcius days are the norm for us right now) but I still jumped at the chance to be a tester for these. All I could think of was my stash of glorious little wool and cashmere scraps that are too small to do anything useful with, but far too good to throw away. These little slippers make the perfect scrapbust for those particular fabrics.

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My test version was made using Italian wool coating (used here) and pink wool double crepe (seen here, and here, and here). I used denim for the soles and lined them with cashmere (remnants from my Dior coat) for the inner sole and beautiful Italian brushed cotton shirting (leftover from here). I felted all my wool and cashmere in the washing machine and dryer first. Lisa advises on how to do this but it is pretty common sense. Just think hot, hot, hot, until the fabric fibres are so tight and thick that the fabric won’t stretch anymore.

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I had to hide these boots from Miss Three. She was trying to wear them everywhere and I was feeling hot just looking at her. I’ll definitely be making these boots for Miss Five and Miss Seven next. In fact, I think they would make the perfect (and seasonally appropriate) Christmas stocking fillers for those of us in the Northern hemisphere.

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