Festive fever

I made this little dress a few months ago, just before I started blogging. It was only recently unwrapped on Christmas day and I am happy to say that it was met with a big smile. Miss Five did comment on the fact that Santa must have pinched some of my fabric, but for some reason, this all seemed within the realm of normal to her. I think dresses will have to be a gift from Mummy rather than Santa next year if I am to keep this Christmas dream alive for as long as possible.

 
Isn’t it positively festive?! I used a pattern from one of my Japanese pattern books. The same dress is actually pictured on the front cover. However, I did raise the front neckline by a few cm.


The fabric I used is a gorgeous printed linen from Tessuti Fabrics. I fell in love with this fabric the moment I saw it and probably purchased a little more than I needed. I have made it into a fabulous pair of pyjama pants for myself (V1347 Chado Ralph Rucci), a skirt for Miss Two, and a dodgy lampshade (that we won’t speak too much of).


Hubby doesn’t particularly like the fabric base colour. He calls it ‘wholemeal’. I can see his point, but I still love it.

And so does my pretty little butterfly. But keeping her still for these photos on Christmas day was no mean feat!
 
 
 


Upcycling Nan-Nan’s skirt

My mother-in-law had a lovely cotton lace skirt that had worn out in the waistline but was otherwise in beautiful condition. The fabric was so pretty that she thought I might be able to do something with it. I wish I had taken a photo of the original skirt as well as the process I followed as it turned out wonderfully, albeit a fraction too large as it was originally intended for her bigger sister.

 
 

The skirt started out as a large, lined, knee-length circle skirt with a ribbed stretch waistband. The lining and waistband were useless but the cotton lace was lovely, even though it was mostly on the bias. All I did was cut off the waistband following the same circular waist shape. I left all the side seams intact. However, I did cut down the centre-back so I could add a zipper to the dress I was planning. I then gathered the basically intact skirt, added a simple gathered lining and whipped up a basic bodice out of a scrap of pale blue linen I had on hand. There was only a skerrick of lace remaining so I added this as overlay to the back of the bodice. In the original skirt, the lace edges were left unfinished and slightly frayed, so I kept this feature in the dress too.

And this is the result, absolutely fabulous for swishing even if I do say so myself. Miss nearly-Four claimed the dress and I think her Nan was quite chuffed to see how her skirt had been repurposed.

 
 

A beaded linen Hannah top

What does one do when on holidays? Why they practice their beading of course! I am the kind of person who finds it very difficult to be idle. I can’t simply sit and watch a movie (to the despair of my ever tolerant husband). If one does find me ‘watching’ a movie, I will most likely also be cutting fabric on the floor, stitching on buttons, or have a book of some description in my lap. I NEED to be doing things, plural. So in the absence of my beloved sewing machines, I packed up some precut pattern pieces, beads, sequins, and loaded my Kindle with Beading Basics by Carlita DelCorso and happily set off on holidays with my three little shadows in tow.

I did discover that my five year old shadow is somewhat of a thrill seeker, as she braved her first rollercoaster rides and ghost trains at Movie World on the Gold Coast. But that it another story entirely. Big rides are not my cup of tea. Give me a needle and thread any day. And even better if it comes with sequins!


This is my second Hannah top. My first one worked out beautifully in some silk crepe de chine. I made this Hannah up in a remnant of simple grey linen that I picked up from Tessuti Fabrics many moons ago. I interfaced the entire front piece, knowing that I was planning to bead it while I was away, but not knowing exactly what I had planned. I also nipped the sides in a fraction and decreased the bust dart a tiny bit. I used a lovely vintage button to fasten the back, from All Buttons.

 

My beading and sequin application was intended to be quite random. I wanted it to look like someone had splattered the front of my top with sparkles and it was just dripping down. Well this was the idea. I actually had no idea just how many beads and sequins such a vision would require, so this was a fabulous learning experiment for me. What you can see on my top is about 8hrs of sewing, half a small packet of sequins and 12.5g of seed beads. It really isn’t a lot. I would have kept going down the top with the gorgeous little seed beads but I finished the tube while I was away and by the time I got home, I was just keen to get sewing.


I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. I feel very glam in my sparkly new top and I love how the big gold sequins contrast with the natural crinkliness of the grey linen. I also learnt a lot just by getting in there and sewing on beads, as well as by reading Beading Basics along the way. The book, by the way, is a great simple introduction into sewing beads on fabric. The pictures were a bit average on my Kindle but the content was still good. I would recommend this for anyone, sewers and non-sewers, who might like to embellish clothes in their own wardrobe, or pretty up some of the fabrics they already sew.

Now that I have all my sparkles ready for the festive season, roll on those Christmas parties! Well, roll on the carol nights and sticky picnic fingers at the very least…


Liberty and linen peplum

Now I fully realise peplum is a little last season, but it is such a flattering style and I had been wanting to make myself a peplum top for a very long time.

I delved into my stash for this project, using the last of my Liberty from Coco’s recent playsuit and a little leftover linen from another project. The linen was from Tessuti Fabrics and is really quite special. It is a coated linen and the grey is actually printed on. It looks and feels amazing.

The design is my own. The top is self-faced, with an invisible zip centre front. It is probably a little looser fitting than it needs to be, but I was aiming for comfort and coolness with our long hot summer on the way.

 
 
 


My Chloe pants

I will admit that I find it near impossible to find a pattern that exactly matches the garment I want to sew, but when I do, I love to simply switch off and follow the directions. And that is exactly what I planned to do when I happened across the Chloe pants (a Tessuti pattern). They were exactly what my wardrobe was crying out for, simple, fitted linen pants with a waistband and no elastic.

The first thing I will say is that the instructions in this pattern are worth their weight in gold! That I didn’t follow them correctly has nothing to do with how clearly they were written, but because I was concentrating too much on Grays Anatomy and not enough on my sewing. I have come away from this experience with at least three new construction techniques that I will definitely use again. The fact that I made a rather large blooper and the pants still fit beautifully is testament to their great design.



Somehow, I managed to serge the inside leg seams before the crotch seams. Now this would be great if I were a mermaid or a penguin, but I am not. I need TWO legs in my pants, not one. I thought about unpicking but decided to cut off the seam instead to save time. So my pants are ever so slightly narrower and higher in the crotch than they should be. But this is hardly noticeable.  

You will also notice a couple of pleats in the front of my pants that are not part of the original design. I decided not to make a toile and just winged it with the smallest size. The fit was near perfect if I was standing still, but I knew they would drive me nuts slipping down all day if I left them as is. I quite like the pleats now. I know I will make these pants again, but I’m not sure if I will increase the darts next time or do pleats again instead.


Attaching the waistband was also simple and brilliant. I love the neat way the facing is finished on the inside near the zipper, achieved by using a zipper foot near the coils to attach the facing edge before turning the waistband in the correct way. I am so pleased with how neat and professional these pants look. I know they would look better if I invisibly hemmed the legs, but I can be a bit lazy and I don’t mind the look of a stitched hem in daywear anyway.

Now I know what I will be wearing to the Norton Street Festa today! I’m pretty happy with my top too. It’s a fabulously printed remnant of drapey poly I brought home from Tessuti Fabrics ages ago. I whipped it into a simple swing style top with a feature zip a few weeks ago and it matches my new Chloe pants perfectly.

Meanwhile, a paper aeroplane shop is being set up on my front porch by the neighbourhood kids to take advantage of the Norton Street Festa through traffic. My girls are so lucky to have an older friend who lives two doors up and is happy to knock around with them on the weekends.





Summer linen success

Remember my inspiration dress here? Well, here is my version.
 


How much do I love my new summer dress! It ticks all the boxes for me: gorgeous buttery white, crumply linen, cool and light, protects my shoulders from the sun (when I push that 60 kilo pram to school and back each day!), swishy skirt to keep Miss 3 happy, and of course those awesome big pockets to store all MY treasures in.

However, I did still have a couple of fails along the way and I am praying my buttonholes will hold up because I had to stitch them a hairbreadth from the edge of the fabric. The bodice was also a little looser fitting than I’d expected. My own fault since I was winging this project without a doing a muslin and I was sizing up a little to be on the safe side. 

I’d initially planned on using elastic to bring the waistline in for a more fitted look, but after taking the time to bind my waistline and insert the elastic inside the binding to keep it unseen from the outside, the dress looked awful and bulky with uneven gathers. For a great tip on inserting elastic as you sew, without the need to thread it though separately, you really should check this tutorial out on Sew Tessuti.

So after a fair bit of unpicking, I added a couple of pleats in the back of the bodice (just enough to allow me to step into the dress), reattached the skirt, and voila! It’s still a loose fit but I think it suits the style. I love the shimmery camel panel at the bottom, my vintage buttons in the sleeve, and the fact that my girls consider it a ‘princess dress’. What more can I ask for.


Thanks again to Miss 5 for taking the time out of her hectic play schedule to do my photo shoot. I’m super proud of your patience and determination!

Linen inspiration and Simplicity 2365

My inspiration is a dress I found recently on Pinterest.

I am using a gorgeous creamy white linen for my dress and adding a block of metallic camel linen to the hem. Once again, my fabrics are from Tessuti. In fact, most of my stash is made up of Tessuti remnants.

The closest pattern I could find to this style was Simplicity 2365, but I am making quite a lot of modifications.


I like the idea of the collar and the tucks in view A. I pretty much winged the tucks, just ironing creases and doing a slap dash sew. I really should have measured and pinned them on the linen, because in the end I had to re-do them completely, and now I have a spare set of bodice bits that sort-of match each other.


I chose the best looking bodice pieces. My tucks looked like this in the end. They aren’t perfect but I am hoping they won’t look too out of place on a soft wrinkly linen.



I am pretty happy with the bodice so far. The collar worked out quite well. I misjudged the amount of self-facing I was going to need for the front placket so my buttons won’t be centre front, which is a little disappointing. Although I haven’t ruled out using hidden snap fasteners instead of buttons, which might solve this problem.


I blended the sleeves on this pattern to recreate the slightly gathered 3/4 sleeves you can see in the inspiration photo. Basically, I just stuck the pattern pieces together, tucked in any protruding paper and cut the sleeves like that. I also cut the pattern off at the waistline to form a bodice.

The gathered skirt was super simple to make, just two big rectangles about twice the width of my waist. I decided to make pockets in the skirt at the last minute because I am a mum and all my clothes need pockets (if not for my keys, for other ‘treasures’…like rocks and leaves). I’m hoping to have some time to put the sleeves and skirt together tonight, over a nice glass of red and a movie of course. Hubby is away so I am free to multi-task with my sewing…probably why my tucks ended up so wonky in the first place.