Liberty of London SWIMSUITS

Did you know Liberty of London makes swimsuit fabric? I sure didn’t! But I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to sew some up recently, courtesty of The Fabric Store. The special occasion is because they are now stocking it in their online store. Given the amount of swimsuits I’ve been sewing lately, I’m super excited to have another source of beautiful swimsuit fabrics at my online fingertips.

It’s no secret that swimming has become a family affair for us. All three of my daughters enjoy the sport, and my two eldest girls currently identify as mermaids. In fact, it’s because of them that I found myself back in the water. Over the past year, I’ve been gradually increasing my swim volume and boosting my fitness with as much cross training as possible (within the time constraints of adulthood!). At some point along the way, I agreed to join the Missouri Valley team at the US Masters Swimming Summer Nationals. The key relay organiser obviously saw more potential in me than the confidence I had in myself at the time.

Anyway, to cut a long story short (so I can get back to raving about Liberty of London swimsuit fabric!), I recently got back from competing in Minneapolis. It was amazing!!! The nerves, the pain, the competition. I don’t quite know where it came from, but I raced like I’d never left the sport, and came home with golds in the 50m, 100m, and 200m backstroke, as well as three additional relay golds. My times were a lot slower than what I was doing 20 years ago (as expected!), but I was extremely happy with myself, and I can see a lot of room for improvement yet (before old age does me in!). I’ve posted a couple of photos and a race video on IG for anyone interested.

Meanwhile, my girls and I have all had a nice, little break from the pool, and we are all about to jump back in for the new season. There’ll be plenty more bathers sewn over the coming year, but I actually have bigger plans afoot than outfitting the family. At the moment, I’m busy perfecting a couple of sample blocks (both for myself (size 34) and my girls (size 26)). I’m investigating having them professionally graded. It’s anyone’s guess what will happen after that, but at the very least, it will be nice for me to have more than a single size to sew for my three girls!

I’ve already sewn up two suits from my Liberty of London fabric, and I have a few more raring to go on the cutting table. I’m not quite on top of my photos, but there are plenty of sneak peeks on my IG accounts.

This particular suit was sewn up for Miss Seven in Mistral/B. Miss Nine is wearing it in the photos for a sample size study because she fits the measurements more closely (and she’s much less fidgetty!). She’s on the upper end of the size range for this suit. It fits her perfectly and it would be great for racing, but she could stand to go up a size for practice.

It looks like a pretty simple suit, but it’s taken me about ten versions to get to this point. There is more to a practice suit than meets the eye, and it’s no different for a kid than an adult. You need to consider the height of the neckline, whether it will slip down with swimming, pressure of the straps on the shoulders, no scratchy elastic edges on the back, a secure fit through the chest and hips (that FEELS secure to the swimmer too), a bottom that doesn’t balloon with water each time you flip-turn, non-restictive leg openings, and of course the elimination of seams that rub under the arms and at the neck with repeated arm motion. I think we got it covered with this suit… finally! I don’t tell this girl which suits to wear for practice, but I can see that she prefers my design now over her multitude of others.

But back to the fabric. It really is very lovely. It’s a quality, mid-weight swimsuit fabric, with great stretch recovery and a beautiful smooth feel to the hand. I know I should expect nothing less from Liberty of London. The fabric composition is 72% Polymide, 28% Elastane, so I’m guessing it will perform well in the pool, and last even better if lined. I fully line all my suits because the lining significantly prolongs the life of the suit. It creates a barrier between a hot, sweaty body to slow down the degradation of the lycra. It also protects modesty as the chlorine and sun fades the fabric over time.

Stay tuned for more as I finish sewing up the rest of my swimsuit fabric stash. And in the meantime, I encourage you to check out the new range of Liberty of London swimsuit fabrics on offer in The Fabric Store’s online shop.

 

 

 

BHL Poppy dress

The much anticipated release of the Poppy dress by By Hand London was today. I’m so glad I can finally share it because it’s become a big favourite in my wardrobe. I actually found #memademay a little difficult this year because I was reaching for my Poppy dress every second day, and yet I couldn’t really share it!

I made my first version in a truly lovely, Liberty of London cotton jersey from The Fabric Store. I wasn’t sure about the floral to begin with (I don’t really wear Liberty!). But now I love it SO much. The fabric is glorious to wear. It launders beautifully and has been wearing well.

The design is a simple, raglan knit dress with a twist. The shoulder pleats are the winning detail for me. They probably aren’t as pronounced in my make, but they give that little bit of extra room through the shoulders which makes this dress so good for me. I’d definitely recommend it for the #sewstrong #sewingstrong ladies out there.

It’s a very quick dress to make. I didn’t hem my dress because jersey doesn’t fray. After several wears, the hem and sleeves now have a really pretty rolled look to them and look about 1/2 inch shorter than in these photos (see today’s Instastory).

I loved my Liberty version of the Poppy dress so much that I made another last week, in a beautiful neutral viscose from Tessuti Fabrics. I love viscose jersey so much but a light coloured solid is probably not the most forgiving fabric to sew. At least you can see the great style lines of this dress better.

Corduroy culottes: another Esther shorts hack

I’m here to convince you that culottes really are the new skirt. And I’m not talking about the cute little flippy variety that could be mistaken for a skirt. I’m talking about the hard-core, wide leg, knee length type, or the sharp, A-line, midi silhouettes that are probably giving some of you unpleasant flashbacks right now. I admit, I get the flashbacks too. My high school sports uniform was a pair of bottle green, knee-length culottes (that memory came flooding back to me when my ‘blue’ corduroy arrived in the mail). But don’t worry, I’m quite determined to sway all you doubters out there, and to do so, I’ve put together not one, not two, but four different looks with the same pair of fabulous winter weight culottes.

For Autumn, I’ve paired them with my Nani Iro top and a pair of open booties. A long pair of tan leather boots would look fabulous right now, but I don’t own any and I spend all my spare cash on fabric instead of shoes. Can anyone else relate? 

The fabric I used in my culottes is utterly divine. It’s a cotton corduroy by Thread, with the most beautiful velvety sheen I’ve ever seen. It’s called ‘blue’ but it is most definitely a bottle green. I knew what I was getting though. It’s nothing like the dull kiddie quality cord that I’ve sewn with in the past. I should have paid more attention.


I do all my fabric cutting and sewing in the evenings in poorer light than I would like, but that’s just the way it has to be. I don’t have time to sew during the day. So I happily cut into my gorgeous fabric, positioning the legs in opposite directions and paying complete disregard for the nap. I merrily sewed away at the project until I tried my culottes on to decide on the hem length. The lightbulb suddenly went on in my head. Nap! Why did I not consider this first? I thought I’d made a total blooper of these pants. One leg was clearly a different shade to the other.

I think the difference in nap looks more pronounced in artificial light, and from my persepective as the wearer, looking down at an acute angle. It is such a silly mistake to make that I still feel like giving myself a slap. Anyway, they are so comfortable and warm that I’m just going to wear them anyway. I think it’s pushing it a bit far to call it a design feature so I’m just going to feign ignorance. What, my legs are different shades of bottle green? No way! It’s a shadow. Go get your eyes checked!

For view two, I opted for a more vintage feel. I’m wearing my Liberty of London Kanerva with them this time.

 


The pattern I used to make these culottes was based on the Esther shorts pattern by Tessuti Fabrics. My modifications were pretty simple. I added a 10cm pleat to the front legs. I also widened and lengthened the legs. I really like how they turned out but next time I will definitely add in-seam pockets.

I also tried my culottes out with my new favourite shirt. I like chambray with cord. Hubby isn’t too sure about this combination. He can’t decide whether I look like Anne of Green Gables, a school mistress, or Brethren. 

 
 
 

And finally, I paired the culottes with my black ponte and leather top for a slightly more edgy look. I like the silhouette of a cropped top over high waist pants. 

 

Here’s a summary of the four looks. Which one do you like best? And more importantly, when are you going to make a pair!
 
 

Last stop on the Two-Piece Set-Acular

And here it is, my last stop on the Two-Piece Set-Acular train.
 


It’s not that I don’t want to make any more, but I just don’t need any more two pieces. I’ve made a few this season already.

But what’s one more between friends?

 

This glorious maxi skirt was only intended as a separate. My plan was to wear it tran-seasonally, paired with my oversized wool jersey top and possibly some tights underneath.

The skirt is a simple, self-drafted number. It’s hard to make a mistake with something so simple, but I did forget to put in pockets. Side pockets would have made this skirt perfect. Of course, being floor length, my girls swooned at the sight of it. Miss Four put in her order for an identical copy. I had just enough left over to do this.

The little mischief is wearing her hand-me-down Liberty playsuit in these photos. She was perfectly mirroring all my poses behind the tripod so I said she could jump in and join me for the last few. Her one goal in life right now is to be inside the TV.

 

The top is a design you’ve seen before. It’s made up to the same pattern as my white version (here). I just skipped the peplum. I really love this little top. It’s so cool and comfortable, and just the right cropped length for me to feel comfortably covered. I can see myself wearing it a lot with jeans.

Simplicity 6138 and Liberty of London: A business shirt for hubby

I’m slowly getting better at making business shirts. I’m proud to say that this is my best shirt ever. It’s still not perfect, but I’m heading in the right direction. The last couple (here and here) of Kwik Sew shirts I made seemed okay at the time, but the fit wasn’t as good as it could be, and my experimental flat felled seams fell a little short of the mark. This one is much improved.

 

I didn’t make the tie, but hubby felt it was necessary to include it in the photos, not because my stripes weren’t perfectly lined up down the front (they were!) but probably because this is the first shirt that actually fits his neck perfectly. He was a wee bit excited! Too excited to don trouser pants in fact.

The shirt is a slimmer fit due to the two fish eye darts I added to the back. The darts weren’t in the original pattern, but they were easy to add. I like the collar shape better as well. Hubby went on a bit of a RTW shirt buying spree after we landed in the US (he was desperate!). As much as this pained me, he did bring home a couple of beautifully made shirts which I have been able to compare and analyse to improve my own shirt making.


The pattern I used is Simplicity 6138. It’s a Henry Grethel pattern. Since I hadn’t sewn this pattern before, I compared the pieces to his very new and very favourite RTW shirt. I also used the RTW shirt to figure out how to make the contrast part of the inner cuff placket. It wasn’t difficult, but of course I didn’t photograph how I did it. It’s not that I forget to take the photographs. I usually just lack the confidence that my experiments will work out in the first place! I shouldn’t doubt myself so much.

I’ve never been completely happy with the interfacing of my collars and cuffs. Hubby’s best shirts only have interfacing on the outside fabric piece of the collar, not on the inside. I realise now, that this allows the collar corners to be made so much sharper than I’ve been able to do in the past. The interfacing they use in the RTW shirt is also so incredibly stiff, like nothing I’ve ever encountered before. I wasn’t quite sure what to do about it, but then it dawned on me that I could double up my usual interfacing and fuse them together as one to the one collar piece. I used Prowoven shirt-crisp fusible interfacing, doubled up, from Fashion Sewing Supply. It worked beautifully. It is my stiffest, sharpest collar yet.


I only used one layer of the same interfacing for the collar stand so it was much less stiff. Next time I would use two here as well, or possibly one layer of shirt-crisp and another ever so slightly less stiff one. I think the collar stand needs to be very close in stiffness to the collar or the collar doesn’t roll back quite as nicely as it could.

For the first time ever, the pattern actually included French cuff pieces. I usually draft my own for other shirt patterns because this is what hubby prefers. I only fused one layer of the same interfacing to the outer cuff, but because a French cuff is folded over, this was firm enough. I’m not sure those cuff links match hubby!

But that’s enough of my technical musings. Do you love the sneaky Liberty of London on the inside of the cuffs and plackets? I should also mention that both the shirting and the Liberty were chosen by hubby on his recent NY trip, specifically for this combo. I’m impressed!



Another Hide and Seek dress

I’d originally planned on making this dress up in white linen and lace for Miss Six, using an unloved skirt and other scraps. It would have looked lovely. But in the end, I was thwarted at the cutting mat when I realised my fabric scraps were just too short. The pattern pieces are quite long, because the side panels extend from shoulder to hem.

I ended up using some Liberty of London from my stash and another strip of lace used earlier in a Kanerva hack.


I cut a size 7 for Miss Six. I think the fit is great (just like Miss Four’s version). There’s still a bit of room for growth in it, but it doesn’t swim on her. I can see Miss Six getting a lot of wear out of this when she heads back to school. It will be cool and comfortable but it still covers her shoulders to offer some sun protection.

It’s a little ‘twee’ for my taste with all that floral and lace, but it got a big tick of approval from Miss Six. She loves the pockets and she was actually quite happy at the time the photos were taken. This is her current ‘photo face’. She switches off the smile when I say cheese. I tried to tell her jokes but obviously I’m not very funny.

Swishy skirt photo update

This little swishy skirt was one of the very last things I made before leaving Australia. I gave it to Miss Six last week for her birthday.
 
You wouldn’t believe just how many panels I had to stitch together in order to construct this skirt. The white linen was upcycled from a pair of too-tight linen pants. The blue linen and Liberty of London were merely scraps.


It is was the easiest skirt to make, really just several gathered rectangles and a folded, elastic waistband. I usually try to calculate at least 2x waist width (or skirt panel width) for the skirt (and ruffles). I find this gives a good amount of volume swish.

I’m back!!!!! And with a Kanerva to show for it.

So for my first sewing project in my new home abroad, I chose to make a Kanerva Peplum Blouse by Named. I’d had my eye on this pattern for a while now, and it felt like the perfect confidence builder for a return to my machine. It’s amazing how strange sewing feels when you use new equipment. I’m also still waiting to purchase my overlocker so I’m finding it a little slower having to consider different seam finishes.

But before I start talking Kanervas, I must first extend a big thank you to Kirsty from Top Notch for this pattern discovery. I saw her bejewelled Kanerva a little while back and was instantly in love. The style struck me as so practical and pretty, but of course, Kirsty’s choice of Liberty print was just gobsmackingly beautiful as well!


I had some Liberty of London in my stash, purchased from Tessuti Fabrics in Sydney a while back. I didn’t love it quite as much as Kirsty’s but it was still very pretty and perfectly suited to a Kanerva. As much as I LOVE Liberty fabrics, I have to admit that I don’t usually think of it as a fabric style that suits me or my personal wardrobe. With it’s delicate florals and pretty vintage feel, it is a fabric that I mostly consider for my girls.


Overall, I am pretty happy with my Kanerva. It is a very simple and satisfying project to make. I compared the bodice pieces of the actual pattern to a perfectly fitting self-drafted shirt block I already owned. I made my Kanerva up in the EU size 40 which very closely matched my measurements. I only needed to make a few adjustments to the original.

  • lengthened the shoulder seams by 1cm to accommodate my broad back and shoulders
  • rotated the sleeve cap forward by 1cm (for my forward rounded shoulders)
  • narrowed the waist by 1cm.
  • lengthened the arms by 3cm  

The fit is better than I expected. (I’m always prepared for the worst when it comes to me and shirts). I find it very comfortable and only a little restrictive, mainly in the arms, but this is really only due to the lack of stretch in my choice of fabric, and the fact that I’m not used to wearing anything without significant stretch. I can just manage to slip the shirt over my head without undoing the buttons, which is fantastic. Although I do need to strike some yoga poses in order to undo the buttons in order to take the top off. The instructions actually suggest that this top is best sewn in a fabric that has some stretch, to allow for ease of dressing. I agree wholeheartedly!

So would I do anything differently next time? I’d probably only change my choice of fabric to have a go at using a knit in this style. Even so, I won’t rule out making another one up in a Liberty, or perhaps even a silk crepe de chine. The discerning viewer might also notice that the peplum flap is missing in my top. This was not intentional, just due to a moment when I was freestyling rather than reading the instructions as I should have been. The top works well with or without this flap but I quite like the look of it as a design feature and would definitely include it next time. I’m thinking I might also have a go at making a cropped Kanerva for summer.

Two little scrappy skirts and a pair of matching bike shorts

So this is it, my very last Australian make…for the time being at least. It’s amazing what you can do with scraps, and silk crepe de chine no less! You might recognise the fabric from my recent Meissa. But I think it also works perfectly as a swirling, twirling, ballerina skirt.

 

I only had awkward lengths of bias cut silk from a previous disaster to work with. The best I could do was gather two very odd skirt pieces and then layer them together. The great thing about making little scrappy pieces like this is that I don’t feel scared of experimenting. I’ve shamefully only been using one or two stitches on my serger. So this was a great opportunity to discover how ridiculously simple it was to make nice, neat, narrow and rolled hems on the serger.

I used my last bit of viscose jersey (from here) to make the waistband, with just enough left over to make a pair of matching bike pants for her handstand sessions.

 
 

And finally, here is a little teaser that I upcycled from a pair of white linen pants. I’m going to smuggle it to Kansas for Miss Five for her birthday. More photos to come.



Leftovers for Miss Two in New Look 6016

If it seems like I only own two patterns at the moment, well that is probably not far from the truth. Even my mannequin, Alice, is wrapped in plastic and ready to take her (rather undignified) place amongst the boxes we have chosen to store while we are away.

Of course, I actually have two large boxes crammed to the brim with sewing patterns, but half of them have already made it to Kansas and the other half are boxed up for storage. Choosing which ones to take and which ones to leave behind was quite a big task. I dread the thought of carting around unused baggage for the next few years, nearly as much as I dread missing that painstakingly custom modified pattern that I unfortunately decided not to take with me.

I currently only have a small selection on hand (that will also come to Kansas with me later). New Look 6016 is one of them. I have lost track of how many times I have used this pattern. Most recently, I am finding it exceedingly useful in making simple knit tops, dresses and tights for ALL of my daughters even though it only goes up to a size 4. But I do find the sizing to be extremely large, something I am still muddling my way through in terms of fit. The problem with children, well my girls at least, is that apart from the standard chest and height measurements, any other fitting efforts are near impossible. It is like pinning a dress to a live eel! So I pretty much rely on my best guesses as to whether I should lengthen, shorten or slim down any parts of the pattern.

I think this dress worked out reasonably well. The wool will keep her warn and it looks like it will allow a little room for movement and growth. It is basically a modified version of the long sleeve top in the pattern. I used up all the scraps from my recent makes (here and here), as well as my last little bit of Lodden Blue Liberty. For the neckline, I found a band of black bamboo ribbing in my stash (If I ever have any little sraps of ribbing/stretch knit, I always cut a few neckband/cuff width strips and store it away like this for convenience. One of these bands came in useful for this dress because I simply didn’t have enough fabric for a matching neckband.) 

I started out with a size 2 and made the following modifications:

  • created a mid panel, purely because I didn’t have enough fabric to cut the entire bodice as one. The top panel is a heavier wool ponte and the mid panel is a lighter weight wool jersey. I used the lengthen/shorten line as a seamline
  • lengthened the arms by 2cm and added the curved panels at the end of the sleeves
  • lengthened the entire top to the Size 4 guide
  • Added the Liberty of London ruffle to the bottom hem

And here is a still shot of the dress from the back. The front had too many dribble patches on it from our brief photo shoot!

I think it will look better with tights but I couldn’t subject Miss Two to long pants in our summer heat. I’m actually surprised I got any decent photos today. Most of them were like this, but blurry. She’s only little but she sure can move.