Jaywalk refashioned

This time last year, I made myself a dress and a maxi skirt in some striped jersey fabric. The dress is no longer with me. I literally wore that dress to death. I still like the skirt in theory, but the length of it was a bit off-putting for everyday wear. It was a simple issue to fix.

This refashion was quick and easy. I chopped the top off the skirt, tapered the side seams in a bit to fit my hips better, and re-attached some elastic to the waist. The top I’m wearing is my Camilla camisole. It’s a simple, bias cut cami that fits beautifully.

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I didn’t waste an inch of fabric in this refashion. The length I chopped off was just long enough to make a simple skirt for Miss Seven. I bought the side seams in by about 1.5 inches and shortened the elastic in the waist. She’s pretty chuffed because it fits the definition of a ‘fitted mini-skirt’ for her, which is something (along with heeled shoes) that I refuse to let a seven year old wear.

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Swimsuit for Mama

Again, this post starts with a disclaimer: I was given some of these fabrics for free by Funki Fabrics in exchange for making something and blogging about it. The fabrics I used from the Fabric Store and the Fabric Fairy were purchased by yours truly.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I wore a bikini or anything other than a hardy old pair of chlorine resistant Speedos. Actually, it was probably about ten years ago, when I was still trying to impress the husband (before he was the husband). I also used to pretend I liked camping and watching rugby back then….bwahaha, entrapment!

In any case, now that I’m all about honesty….um, no that has nothing to do with it. I’m not actually sure why I suddenly decided I needed to make myself some swimmers. Perhaps it was FOMO because I completely restocked the swimwear department of the other Iles girls. Perhaps it was seeing Sophie’s awesome two-piece a little while back. Perhaps it was just that someone gave me free fabric and I thought it would be fun to challenge myself with something a little new. Who knows.

In the end, I made myself TWO pairs. The first pair was more of a muslin to test a design and use up some scraps. The neon fish are from Funki Fabrics and the gorgeous lemons are from the Fabric Store (some Anna and Boy spandex I picked up over a year ago in Sydney).

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The bottoms worked beautifully but the leg elastic could be a smidgen less tight. I modelled their design on a favourite pair of hipster undies I own. It’s remarkably simple to turn a pair of undies into high waist bathers. Just measure your circumference where the undies end and again where you want the high waist to end. Subtract 1.5″ off those measurements (because of negative ease) and draw a diagonal line between them. I added some clear elastic and a waistband to the top of mine. Note: If using clear elastic around the legs, you want it A LOT looser than undie elastic. About 2″ looser worked for me, or pretty much the same as the circumference of your leg. There are two reasons for this: a) clear elastic is firmer and less stretchy than  lingerie elastic and b) aesthetically, you don’t really want the elastic to be cutting deep into your curves.

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The top, for this first version, was a fail. I started with Kwik Sew 3153 and modified it into a top. The fit is too wide, unflattering, and offers no support. It might work better on a busty gal, but not so much on me. Those busy little neon fishies actually disguise a lot of the issues in the photos, but in real life, they are more apparent. I could see that the top was failing early on so I just wacked it together so I could experiment a little with construction, and to see if I would even like the look of a two piece.

My second effort was much better. It’s a one-piece from the front and a bikini from the back; the best of both worlds! Those of you on Instagram may have seen my red ponte muslin in this design. I tweaked the length and fit a bit, and muddled my way through much of the construction. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. It’s fully lined, front and back (which is how I like my bathers). I feel quite secure in it and I like the way the busy floral and gathers in the bodice help to disguise the fact that there’s not much going on under there. I’m not keen on padding in my bathers.  The construction is not quite perfect, but I think if I can find a way to remove the centre front seam, it might help.

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The pretty floral in the bodice is from Funki Fabrics. I was originally going to use some Funki Fabrics stripes for the contrast too, but I changed my mind in the eleventh hour. And that’s how I discovered The Fabric Fairy. Their seriously amazing blue swimsuit fabric and the my-colour nude lining  came from them. I thought it would be interesting to order some swimsuit lycra off somebody else new-to-me to make a more objective comparison of the different swimsuit fabrics available online.

So I stand by my original observations in my last post on Funki Fabrics. For a great choice on prints, their selection is unparalleled. They also have pretty quick postage, which can sometimes be a deal changer for me. But for solids in swimsuit fabric, I am SO impressed with what the The Fabric Fairy has to offer. The Bermuda blue swimsuit fabric I purchased from them is insanely smooth and it has the most beautiful robust feel to it. It’s also slightly thicker, with fantastic stretch and recovery. It’s probably the most luxurious swimsuit fabric I’ve ever worked with. I suspect I’ll be checking out their other knits and stretch fabrics in the future now.

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Seeing double: Simplicity 1435

Simplicity 1435 is my go-to kid pattern for easy knit dresses. I’ve made it a few times already for my littlest peep. This time I really stretched myself and whipped one up for Miss Five too. The fabric I used is a very drapey viscose knit. The fabric is quite heavy so it does drag the dresses down a little at the waist, but I’m fond of a drop waist anyway, and I just love those stripes.

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These two girls are little peas in a pod. I spoke not a word during this photo shoot. It’s quite hilarious to watch them getting flowers for props and posing together.

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Every time I make a dress using this pattern, it always becomes a firm favourite with Miss Three and I know why. Fuss free knit dresses are so comfortable. She can dress and undress easily as there are no fastenings and the layered skirt provides just the right amount of swish-factor.

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Simplicity 1435 is a very simple pattern, a super quick make, and very practical for everyday wear. There’s nothing perfect about these versions. I whipped them up so quickly that the stripes aren’t precisely matched, but I know they will be worn to shreds. I just wish the little one would decide to like this dress too (which I think is utterly adorable), which hangs forlornly and completely ignored in her cupboard.

 

Little shorts

It’s taken a full five years, but I’ve FINALLY had a request for shorts. Both Miss Five and Miss nearly-Seven have come to the joint conclusion that skirts and dresses are not conducive to the most effective cartwheel, handstand, and monkey bar practice. Hallelujah!

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I was quite unprepared for this backflip in clothing preferences, so I thought I’d start with something simple. It didn’t take much effort to come up with this pair of shorts for Miss Five. They are a very simple style, with bottom panels for contrast and an encased elastic waistband. I used the ribbing as the contrast, not for it’s elasticity. Miss Five is all about comfort right now. I compared my design to a pair of her favourite tracky dacks to check on fit, and I think I managed to get it spot on.

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Miss nearly-Seven is a different kettle of fish. Her shorts won’t get a look in if they don’t have pockets. I think she’s also starting to appreciate unique design features like bows and pleats. She’s also noticed that I’ve been working a lot more on designing my own patterns and she quite likes the idea of me making things for her that have never before been made by anyone “in the entire world” (for example, her Twirl to Me dress). I’m constantly amazed at what children notice and how they interpret things.

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Vogue 8975…comfort over style

Last summer when I was in the middle of my summer drop-waist frenzy, I made a particular favourite using a stunning printed cotton from Tessuti. It was one of those rare occasions when I had a dress in mind and then went shopping specifically to find a fabric to match that vision. Usually, I fall in love with fabrics first and then draw inspiration from them.

Now this particular fabric suited my purpose well and I liked it well enough, but I probably wouldn’t have chosen it without a specific project in mind. However, it ended up being one of those prints that I fell madly in love with more each time I saw it, which was very often, believe me. So when I happened across a lovely jersey version of the exact same print (on my farewell trip to Tessuti), I snapped it up.

I’ve been desperate to use it ever since but have been struggling with ideas. I spent a bit of time looking for a suitable pattern and eventually found one I quite liked, Vogue 8975.

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I just love big, draped pockets right now and I think that was the thing that drew me to this pattern. In hindsight, none of the dresses on the cover are really my style, but I was on a mission to sew up that fabric! Can anyone else relate?

 

The experience of sewing this dress was fantastic. The drapey knit was a little fiddly to work with, but not impossible. I still don’t have my overlocker, so I used the opportunity to experiment with the stitches on my Pfaff. I have a stitch and overlock stitch-in-one feature on my sewing machine. It works well but is very slow going compared to using an overlocker. You also have to go back and trim every seam after you sew them. But the end result is good (as long as you are VERY careful not to stretch the fabric as you sew).

The drapes on this dress are just lovely and the pocket construction was ingenious. I loved making this dress and watching the puzzle pieces come together. I would have loved to place the floral pattern a bit better on the dress, but I barely had enough fabric as it was. I wasn’t planning to use any contrast fabric in my version of this dress but unfortunately necessity demanded it. I found the contrast jersey knit at Jo-Ann. It was my first fabric purchase in the US, having been somewhat underwhelmed by the fabric shopping in Kansas. I was totally spoilt in Australia, living so close in proximity to the amazing fabric shops of Surry Hills. I now realise that I am just going to have to do my shopping online, but I have prepared for this with a nice 30″ screen to view my fabric on!

But back to this dress. I think it is a fraction too roomy in the upper chest and arms for me. It may be that the size is a little large, combined with the fact that my fabric is a little lighter and a bit more drapey than that on the cover photo. You can see the sizing problem best when my hands are on my hips. A closer fit would make for a nicer silhouette.  But I have to admit that it is still quite a lovely dress. I’ve since seen some other great versions of this dress in the blogosphere, here and here, and here which you might also like to check out. Call me boring, but I think I like the monochrome versions best.

At the moment, I’m a little undecided about the hems at the sleeves and bottom of the dress. At the moment I have left them raw (they roll nicely in this particular fabric). I just felt that hemming them with a twin needle would add bulk and affect the clean drape of this particular fabric. I’d prefer to do a narrow hem on the bottom of the dress using an overlocker (when I eventually get one). I could probably do this on my Pfaff using some stabilizer but I don’t want to lose any length on the dress. I’m also thinking of adding contrast cuffs to the sleeves, or simply removing the sleeves altogether.

End note: So when I had the photos taken and first started writing this post, I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t wear this dress again. But the fabric is just so deliciously soft and the style so comfortable and perfect for Spring, that despite my misgivings, I have found myself slipping it on at the end of most days. It is a shame that this beautiful fabric doesn’t get the proper show-time of a regular day out and about on the town, but at least my neighbours get to admire it (styled with the regulatory in-house Ugg boots of course). It really has become the perfect little French house dress for me! 

Drop waist obsession

I have suddenly become a little obsessed with drop waist dresses. I’m not quite sure what happened but I woke up a few days ago and everything in my wardrobe seemed dated. I was craving something much like this!

My first port of call was to track down the marvellous Malvarosa dress pattern by Pauline Alice that I had seen a while back. Of course, at that point, I couldn’t remember the name of either the dress, blog or designer, and when I searched my bloglovin account, I couldn’t find it there either…disaster! So after racking my brain, Marvelosa, Malarosa….and fruitlessly searching Ebay and Etsy for other suitable matches for the picture in my head, I finally ended up drafting my own design with the help of Alice (my beloved dress mannequin).

After creating the pattern pieces, I decided to create a wearable muslin using a cotton knit rather than use my ‘nice’ fabric right off the bat. I chose the cotton knit for two reasons. I have a tendency to misjudge the amount of ease I need when I drape on Alice, and secondly, I wanted to use up a fabric that I wasn’t quite sure I loved anymore. I must also add that halfway through cutting my own design, I had a massive moment of doubt, finally tracked down the Malvarosa pattern, and purchased it.

But I really shouldn’t have doubted myself! I love the way my dress turned out and I love this fabric all over again. I don’t regret purchasing my Malvarosa pattern as I might still make a long sleeve version of this in a few months time, using my own bodice pieces as a guide (assuming they fit as well in a woven fabric).