Authentic 70’s cold shoulder blouse

I’m calling this authentic because the thread and the fabric were both picked up at an estate sale. It’s plausible that the fabric is from the 70’s. It certainly looks the part.

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To be perfectly honest, most of the fabric I find at estate sales is truly awful. There’s lots of old, rough quilting remnants, ugly home deco cottons, and dusty poly knits. The pricing is often absurd too, clearly valued by people who know nothing about fabric and sewing. I walk past a lot of rubbish. However, every now and then I find a gem and a bargain.

This fabric was a part of several bundles that I found at one particular house several months ago. Each bundle was $1-3 and contained 3-5 remnants of varying lengths. I was immediately apparent to me that some of the fabric was of high quality, but sometimes it’s hard to tell the exact fibre content of a fabric without a burn test, particularly with “nicer” synthetics. So I nabbed three of the more appealing bundles and took them home to inspect more closely.

Subsequent burn tests revealed a LOT of silk in that bundle, including this absolute gem. Needless to say, I popped back to the sale later that day and grabbed the remaining decent bundles. I ended up with several long lengths of pretty silks, two really long lengths of Liberty of London (one was a wool blend), and a few nice poly and cotton florals. Some prints are old fashioned, but even so, are still delightful for the right project.

I was able to determine that this particular floral fabric was a synthetic. It doesn’t press. It definitely melts (please don’t ask me about this!)! It’s stiffer than a silk chiffon. It’s not my kind of fabric at all, but I LOVED the 70’s vibe of the print. It was going to make the perfect partner for my suede mini and flares.

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I wasn’t planning to spend much time or effort on a horrid poly like this but I didn’t have a lot of choice. I needed to bind the raw edges somehow. Self-fabric binding would have been beautiful (but an awful job with a fabric that won’t hold a crease). My solution was to use some sheer pink, silk organza that I already had on hand. Obviously, silk organza presses well but I’ve never used it for bias binding before. It’s a very crisp fabric to begin with but after several washes, silk organza turns super soft. It was the perfect compliment to this sheer blouse.

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Pattern tested // Sew DIY Baseball skirt

I had a reasonably uncluttered week recently, so I put up my hand to do a little pattern testing. You’ve already seen the Tie back boots I tested. This time round, I tested the Sew DIY Baseball skirt.

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I’ll confess up front that this is not the kind of skirt I would normally sew for myself. I chose to pattern test this because I wanted to support the designer and because the skirt looked like such a quick and easy make. It is an elastic waist skirt. It IS quick and easy. Now I’m not sure how many beginners follow my blog, but if that is you, this skirt is a winner.

The pattern is clear and concise, as I would expect from Sew DIY. It’s also very professionally put together. I like the curved hem shape. I also like the idea of the other hem options that are described in the pattern.

I used a little leftover silk twill with the intention of making an everyday-version of this pencil skirt. However, when I paired it with the silk cami, it wasn’t really the vision I’d hoped for (see below).

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From a styling perspective, this one initially had me stumped. It’s designed to sit at the natural waist, which isn’t really my style right now, so I dropped it to my hips. As you’d expect, anything with an elastic waist is going to carry a little more bulk than a fitted waistband. However, I suspect some of the volume in my photos is coming from the way the pockets are hanging internally. My skirt was made to the tester version and I think Beth may have improved the pocket design for the final pattern.

In any case, to balance out the silhouette of an elastic waist skirt, I prefer it paired with a top that is similar in volume and that has a little more coverage through the shoulders (like the Lou Box top or the Branson top). To me, a spaghetti strap cami looks a little off kilter in terms of proportion and silhouette.

Please excuse the bare feet and wrinkly linen. I’d been wearing this outfit all day and was in the middle of chasing my little monsters in a game of tag (or tip…or whatever it’s called this week) when I suddenly thought to photograph the skirt again.

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P.S. It has now been several weeks now since I made this skirt. Paired with my white linen Branson top, this outfit has become one of my favourites this Summer. Cool, loosely fitted linen and silk is an absolute dream in the Midwest heat and humidity. I don’t feel too scruffy either.

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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NEW PATTERN // Cartwheel Shorts // custom made in linen

Introducing my newest pattern, the Cartwheel Shorts. These easy, comfy, cartwheel-compatible shorts are suitable for ages 3-10 (approximately). They work well in a variety of woven fabrics, but my favourite versions have been made up in silk CDC and the linen that you see below.

I have ulterior motives in my pattern making. I only make patterns that I love, or that I love seeing on my girls. If I don’t want to see several versions of the same item on my girls every day (or in my own wardrobe), then that pattern isn’t meant to be. I’ll confess that a big motivation behind taking my pattern making to a new level (to include grading) simply comes down to two words: three daughters! I love being able to print out a pattern in three different sizes, and to the exact design that I’d been dreaming of. This shorts pattern is a perfect example. I wanted a dressier looking shorts pattern that would suit my aesthetics, tick their box of approval, and be practical enough for them to play in and wear to school. There were a lot of boxes for me to tick!

The version that you see below was specifically requested by Miss Seven. I drew the line at turquoise linen. Purple was also mentioned in the order, but I neither had purple in my stash, nor was I inclined to compromise my perfectly beautiful Tessuti linen with a purple hem and waistband. I have, however, since changed the buttons that you see below to purple ones.

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I made these shorts up in  View B, which is the same (very slightly tweaked) design as Miss Seven’s recent Cartwheel shorts. An example of View A is Miss Three’s recent fairy shorts, which are shorter, with a cuff.

Miss Seven is wearing an Oliver + S Badminton Top with her new linen shorts.

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Cheetah Two-piece Set-actular

A few months ago, Miss Five fell in love with a Cheetah print silk swatch that I’d ordered from Mood Fabrics. It wasn’t in my plans to purchase fabric for my daughter, let alone silk. I prefer to use up all my (albeit lovely and sometimes silk) scraps on the clothes I make for my girls. It’s the way I offset the cost of my wardrobe.

So I purchased two yards of this silk. The shock. But then shortly after, I saw this RTW skirt that retails for $78. The even bigger shock. I pinned it because I like the simple design. Then a few days later I saw that True Bias had put together a tutorial on making an almost identical looking skirt. Score! Check it out here.

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I know I am a little out of touch with RTW prices (Target is my go-to and I really only shop there for emergency kidswear these days) so price of this skirt floored me a little. Or perhaps it enabled me. And this is what it enabled: a cheetah two-piece set-acular. It’s probably a $45 dollar outfit for a kid (outrageous, I know!). But my goodness it’s cute. It’s hard to see the details of the shorts under the top, but they are made to the same pattern as these, with little side pockets and a botton hem band.

And just so you know, cheetahs run very, very fast!

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I will confess that it wasn’t all about Miss Five with these makes. I wanted to test the shorts pattern in a slinky woven. The top is another pattern that I’m working on, but have sewn enough times already to know that it would work beautifully with this fabric.

I also took my time deciding what to sew with this silk. It’s a beautiful print, but I wasn’t quite sure a playsuit (as was requested) would get enough wear due to the toileting aspect. I thought a two piece set would be the best value but it could have easily turned into a tacky animal print overdose. I think I hit the target with this one, even if I do say so myself.

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Tutorial // adding a flounce to the Wonderland Skirt

And here it is. Apparently I’m not the only one who’s had the idea of turning the gathered section of the Wonderland skirt into a flounce. I’m going to show you how to do it. It’s a very simple modification once you know what to expect.

1. Fit and sew the yoke (in it’s entirety). The design of the yoke is very, very subtly A-line. It’s possible to peg it in a little, but be sure to record those changes on your pattern pieces first, so you can draft your flounce correctly.

2. Once you have the yoke fitting as you’d like, you are ready to draft the flounce. On the bottom of the back and front yoke pieces, draw in the 5/8 inch (16mm) seam allowances (I’ve used red in the diagram) for the bottom and the centre back (CB) of the back yoke. There’s no need to worry about the centre front (CF) on the front yoke because it was cut on the fold (without a seam allowance).

3. On a large piece of paper, trace the bottom seam allowance (in red) of the yoke. This will become the top seam line of the flounce. It makes sense that you’d want the top of your flounce to be exactly the same length as the bottom of the yoke because you will want your seams to match up when you sew them. Wonderland flounce2-01

Pay attention to the CB and CF seam allowance. In the original pattern, the Front Yoke is cut on the fold. The Back Yoke is cut as two pieces. If you want to cut the back skirt on the fold too, you will need to subtract 5/8 inch (16mm) from the red line you draw. This might depend on how wide your fabric is.

4. Line the ruler up with the bottom of the yoke and use it as a guide to smoothly extend the side seams and CB/CF seams of your flounce. Imagine you are just making the yoke longer. Decide how long you want the flounce to be and extend the side seam and the CB/CF seams all by the same amounts. My flounce is about 14 inches long (but this might still come to below the knee on some).

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4. Draw in the bottom of the flounce. Try to mimic the curve at the top of the flounce and measure along the way so that the entire flounce is the same length. It’s also a good time to draw in the top seam allowance (then join it up with the side seams – I haven’t joined mine up in the diagram). Also make some markings on the pattern pieces (they are a bit oddly shaped so do this before you forget).

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If you attached the pieces you have just drawn, you would have a straight (ever so slightly A-line) extension of the yoke. However, we want a flounce, so now we need to add some flare. You can add as much or as little flare as you like. I’m going to show you what I did.

5. Use a ruler to draw two straight lines, vertically down the flounce pieces, to make a division of three. Space them an even distance apart, but you don’t need to measure.

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6. Now you are going to slash and spread those lines to create a flounce. Cut along the black lines from the bottom to the top, BUT stop just before you cut through the top. The top will be your pivot point.

Place some paper underneath your pieces and spread them by as much as you want. I spread each slash by about 1.5 inches (16mm). You could spread them by more than this or add an extra slash to make your flounce more dramatic. Tape the spread pattern pieces onto the paper. Because of the curved shape of the yoke, the front and back flounces will look quite different.

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7. Draw in smooth curves for the top and bottom of your flounce pieces.

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Congratulations! You now have flounce pattern pieces that will perfectly fit the yoke of your skirt.

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Wonderland Skirt // made by makers // and a flared version

Before I talk about how I modified my skirt, I’d like to share some of the great Wonderland skirts that have been made so far.

Carly in Stitches //Ernest Flagg // Miss Castelinhos

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Tinker and Stitcher// Anna Gerard // Elle Gee Makes

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And now for my modified version. Remember this scrapbuster? I unpicked the gathered portion of the skirt to see what it would look like with a flounce. I’m in the process of putting together a tutorial on how I did this. It’s not a difficult modification but it does change the look completely.

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Gladiator arms

Hiding beneath the bows and dangles of this top is actually a design that I’m perfectly happy with. I love the uneven hem and the interesting back. I like the shape of the neckline and the back yoke buttons.

I’m not so sure about the turbo-boosters. But it was a lot of fun experimenting. And you all know how much I like to experiment. It’s the thing I like most about sewing. There isn’t really anything you can’t do with fabric, even if it doesn’t always work.

My first idea was shoulder bows. I don’t dislike them. But they don’t suit broad shoulders like mine. I think they’d look pretty on a pear shape, for a special date.

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For a bit of fun, I tried some gladiator arms. Now this is a trend I could push… if I was seventeen or Leandra Medine.

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This top is still very wearable for me. In real life, I think I’ll leave my turbo boosters hanging, a little bit like drifting seaweed, I guess. The fabric is beautiful though and can let me get away with almost anything. It’s the same gorgeous striped linen that I used in my Wonderland Skirt.

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I’m going to work a little more on finessing the design and fit of the top underneath. It’s my attempt at coming up with a more wearable version of this white linen tunic and I like it best kept simple. I’m listening though. If you do like the bows and gladiator arms, speak now, or forever hold your peace.

The Wonderland Skirt: optional steps to fully line the yoke and skirt

This is a little bit of a follow on post. I introduced you to my new pattern a few days ago. Now I want to share my favourite version of those that I made. I also want to share some steps to fully or partially line the skirt.

But firstly, I don’t know about you, but I’m a firm believer that stripes pretty much make everything awesome. And this skirt is a combination of stripes and linen, two of my favourite things right now. You can check out the Wonderland Skirt pattern here:

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I had a very close call during the making of this skirt. I forgot to allow for the fact that white linen can be a little on the sheer side (especially in a closely fitted skirt yoke!), and that I should have lined the yoke from the get go. As it turned out, I had to unpick my waistband to fix this little oversight, but attaching the lining was actually very quick and simple to do and could be done so completely by machine.

Steps to line the yoke:

1) Re cut the front and back yoke pieces in lining fabric (I used silk habutai because it’s beautifully light and slippery)

2) Stitch darts in the back pieces of the lining

3) Stitch the front and back yoke lining together at sides, right sides together (just as you did with the fashion fabric).

4) With right sides facing, and the raw edges *almost* lined up along the centre back seam and zipper, pin back yoke lining to the back yoke on each side of the centre back seam. I like to pin the lining about half a cm from the raw edge to ensure that my lining is not too tight for the skirt (just in case I wasn’t very precise in cutting my slippery lining) – too tight lining will result in pulls and bubbles visible on the outer fabric, but if the lining is ever so slightly larger, nobody can tell from the outside.

5) Stitch from the top of the yoke to the end of the zipper on both sides of the back yoke centre back edge. You might have to undo the zipper to do this more easily.

6) When you reach the bottom of the zipper, pull the lining apart from the back yoke and pin it right sides together with raw edges matching (lining only). Stitch to the bottom of the yoke lining, being careful to keep the seam allowance the same as when you were stitching alongside the zipper (half a cm shorter because we didn’t line up the raw edges perfectly).

7) Turn lining and skirt out to the right side, so that wrong sides are now facing. The lining is attached only at the centre back zipper. Pin the lining to the top and bottom raw edges of the skirt and baste these edges together with long machine stitches.

8) Double check that the outside yoke is sitting flat and smooth (adjust the basting stitches on the top or bottom if needed).

9) And now you are ready to stitch on the waistband and skirt as per the steps in the instructions.

10) If you want to line the skirt too, sandwich the bottom raw edge of the lined yoke between the gathered skirt and skirt lining, right sides together, and raw edges lined up. Stitch. When you turn it to the right side, the inside of the skirt will look as beautiful as the outside.

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Little gathered top: Part 1

I’ve been playing around with a little top design for my girls. I wanted something that would look cute with shorts and skirts, but wasn’t your typical cotton t-shirt. I also had some lovely little scraps of linen and cotton that I wanted to make use of.

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My first version of this top was for Miss Seven. I used some lovely soft linen. I forgot to include an allowance at the CB for a button placket in my original plans, so I had to make do with a hand-worked loop and button. It works, and I really love the look of the little loops and buttons, but they aren’t quite as sturdy as a placket. This top has to hold up to some serious physical activity.

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I’m very pleased with the fit and I love the shape of the little ruffle sleeves. I also like the high jewel neck. I wasn’t completely sure that Miss Seven would like the neckline but she seems very comfortable in this top and I know it’s getting a lot of wear because I find myself ironing it every other day. I HATE ironing (except when in the process of sewing!), but I make the odd exception with certain items of clothes that really need it. This is unfortunately one of them.

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