A very simple top in THE fabric of the month

I’ve had this gorgeous fabric languishing in my stash for nearly two years. I don’t use a lot of floral and I rarely have the occasion to justify sewing with silk charmeuse. Even so, this one stopped me in my tracks and I had to have at least a little bit of it. I went home with a little over 1m. In retrospect, I wish I’d purchased more. It would have been the perfect silk to use for my bias cut dress.

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I was just waiting for the right idea to come along. I should thank from Melanie from Poppykettle and Rachel from Boo Dog and Me for inspiring me with their beautiful Frocktail tops. In particular, I liked the idea of pairing such a delicate floral print with leather.

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The design is a loosely fitted shell top with straight side seams and bust darts for a little shape. I hand-stitched the binding and hem down. I felt like this fabric deserved it.

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I also tried to achieve a length that would suit wearing it out loose or tucked in. I’m very happy with how it worked out, but next time I will raise the armscye by smidgen (about 1/4 inch).

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I love the way this fabric pairs with leather. These shorts were a bit of a rush make compared to the other leather pants I’ve made (here and here), and the leather is more faux than real, but I’ve always recognised them for being the trend-piece that they are. I’m not going to love this style forever, but I have been getting a lot of wear out of them this season. No, I don’t wear them on the school pick up, but when paired with a nice top, I find them to be the perfect blend of smart and casual for outdoor parties and BBQ’s.

 

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(No affiliate links. It’s just fun to compare to RTW. See how much we save by sewing!)

floral top

                      Zara                                              St. John                                              Vince

 

The last refashion

This fabric really has been around the block. It started as a dress. Then I turned it into a playsuit. And now I’ve shortened the legs again. Shortening the legs is hardly deserving of the word “refashion”. However, there’s are reason I’m showing you this. It’s amazing how significantly different a garment can look, after such a minor change.

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I didn’t mind the previous versions, but none of them were quite right. I’m so glad I persevered.

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6 Shore Road by Pooja // Aqua // Banana Republic

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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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A blue cotton top

I’m putting this top to bed. I like it from some angles and not from others. I might still wear it, or I might cut it up and modify it, but I don’t think I want to make another.

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The fabric that I’ve used does it no favours. It’s a denim-look cotton shirting with just enough stretch to keep the bound armscye and neckline permanently wrinkled, despite a good pressing.

Perhaps I could lower the neckline and change the shape of the front armscye, or add darts, but I’m just not loving it either way. And I need to love it if I’m going to spend any more time on it. Sometimes you just have to let things go.

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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.

Coco+skirt_indigo+linen

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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WIP: these little shorts

Sometimes I just can’t help myself from changing something that already works. I made some little shorts a few weeks ago that have been an absolute winner in this house. I love the look of them and my toughest critic (Miss Seven) adores her version even more.

Even though I liked the pattern exactly as it was, I thought the shorts might look cute with cuffs too. Enter fairy shorts, and the amazing, levitating Miss Three (although she’d tell you she was bunny hopping).

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I was a bit rushed with this version. I just stitched the cuff tabs on (which I would have done anyway for a three year old). Following through with hand sewing for the little button embellishments became impossible as soon as the recipient spotted these shorts. What do you think of the camera face?

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As you can see, she’s pretty chuffed with these shorts, especially the pockets. I’m pretty happy with the new design too. The legs are a little narrower and shorter which suit a turned up cuff better. I still like the old version though, but it’s nice to have more than one option in a pattern!

Squiggles on my gaucho pants

This is the BEST fabric ever! It’s a stretch cotton in a nice medium weight, which makes it perfect for shorts, pants (and playsuits of course). Quite simply, those squiggles make me smile. I wish I had enough left for a long A-line skirt now.

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This time, I made some cropped pants of the wide leg variety. They hit high on the waist so I think I can safely call them gaucho pants.

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The white top is an oldie but a goodie. I wore it A LOT last Summer and I predict it will be getting more of the same love this year.

Cartwheel shorts

I love having little girls to sew for, and lately I’ve been having a lot of fun creating new styles for their Summer wardrobes. I’m especially excited to be sewing shorts for them in the first time in FOREVER!

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Now I know there are already some great kiddie shorts patterns out there, but I kinda like to do things my own way. I get a big thrill out of making something completely new. I also had quite a few specifications from Miss Seven that simply had to be met, namely pockets, pleats, and cartwheel worthiness.

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These little shorts were also a pretty good scrap bust. You’ve seen the yellow sateen before (here and here) and the printed sateen trim has been around the block too. I don’t know what I’m going to do with all my scraps when these girls get bigger.

White linen pinafore and Vogue 1347: DIY (a sort of tutorial)

So I stumbled across this amazingly simple, yet stunning white top on The Man Repeller the other week. I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I decided to make it! I made the linen pants too, Chado Ralph Rucci V1347, modified for use as pyjamas, post photo shoot. But I’m not here to talk about them, other than to say they are a fabulous, wide leg, elastic waist pant if that’s what you are after. I’ve made them before. They make the best PJ pants ever, especially in linen. Like my last version, I simply skipped the pockets and the lining, and cropped them A LOT.

I’m also not going to talk much about the fabric, other than to say that I won’t be buying this particular linen again. It’s Kaufman Brussels Washer Linen Blend in white from Fabric.com. It’s ok. Their service was great and the description reasonable. But I have to say that I was still quite disappointed when it landed on my doorstep. It is lighter than I expected and blended with rayon (how did I miss that?). Personally, it isn’t really of a quality I would be happy to use for outerwear, but lining it certainly helps. I should also say that I think I’ve been incredibly spoilt for quality with the linens I’ve used in the past, mostly from Tessuti Fabrics and sometimes from The Fabric Store. Linen is a very tricky fabric to purchase, especially unseen, because of the vast differences between one type and the next. You really do need to see it and feel it in person.

 
 
But let’s get back to this top and talk about how it can be made. My brain doesn’t picture pattern pieces well right off the bat. For new-to-me or unusual designs, I need to drape calico onto my dressmaker’s dummy to better understand the shape of the pieces and for my head to figure out how they will come together. Then I take my rough marked calico to the floor or the cutting mat, to modify and make further adjustments from there.
I began creating this top by draping it. I knew the design was going to be simple, but it was even more basic than I could imagine. So basic, in fact, that I was also able to work backwards on the design, to show you how it can be done even easier. Forget about draping! All you need is a basic T-shirt, woven or stable knit (without darts), to use as a template. Grainline’s Scout Tee also comes to mind as a suitable pattern that you could modify. To give you an idea of fit, you can see me wearing the T-shirt I used here.
I’m going to explain the pattern pieces in this post. I’m pretty sure most of you will be able to put the top together with just this. But if you need more instructions, just let me know. I’m planning another top already so I can photograph it through the construction stages next time if I get enough interest.
The top itself consists of three main pattern pieces: the front bodice, the side drapes, and the straps. You can probably already see how you would put it together.
Front bodice: cut 2 on the fold (one piece is the lining)
Sides: Cut 2
Straps: cut 4
So to work out your measurements, start with a basic T-shirt. Lay it nice and flat with the front facing up. You’ll need some tracing paper and long piece of calico.
Lay the tracing paper on top of the T-shirt. You need to trace around half of the front piece. I forgot to photograph this stage, but you can easily see what I did below. Mark the CF, the neckline, the armscye, and the side seam. Also mark the length, as this can be useful in identifying where you want your new top to sit.
I’ve laid my finished pattern piece on top so you can see how I modified my original lines. How you change yours is entirely up to you. I would recommend doing the following:
  • add a seam allowance to your shoulder seam (see how my pattern piece extends over the top)
  • keep the side seam line where it is (don’t add a seam allowance, you are just using it as a guide
  • lift the underarm seam (bottom of the armscye) by 1-2inches, depending on how your original T-shirt fit. Mine was quite loose to begin with.
  • re-draft the neckline and shoulder seams to fit the shape you want. It doesn’t matter how wide or narrow you want those shoulder seams to be either.

 

You can see how the entire pattern piece looks below before you add a side seam. You can also see where my pieces have been basted together.


Use the side seam you marked from your T-shirt (purple dots) as a guide to measure your new seam from. In my finished top, my side seam was cut parallel and 6″ from the original side seam.

Cutting it straight like this means that your new side seam will hang on a diagonal when you are wearing the top. I don’t mind the angular look of this, but I’d prefer my side seam to hang straight up and down, perpendicular to the ground, so I’ve drawn a new side seam for my next version. It will be about 4″ from the original line and run on a diagonal (marked in black).

It’s not essential that you mark your side seam in exactly the same place as me. The nature of the top is that it drapes and the fit is pretty flexible. But as a guide, if you are bigger than me, you may want to increase the distance to your new side seam a little, and if you are smaller, then perhaps narrow that distance a little. Also keep this in mind for when you draw up the side pieces and straps. FYI my bust measure is 35″ and my waist is 27″. I am 5″10 or 178cm tall.

 
The next step is to decide on how long you want the top. Mine was 22″ in length along the side seam including a 1″ hem. This measurement determines how low the top will sit in the front.
The side pieces simply extend straight out from the front bodice. You could just make this a big rectangle. I sloped my top edge up a little so it finished 2″ higher at the far end. My side pieces are about 34″ in length. How long you make this piece will depend on how long you want it to drape down at the back.
Finally, to draft your shoulder straps, just line them up with your bodice shoulder seams to determine the width. They can be as long or as short as you want them to be.

I made mine about 20″ in length. The seam allowance I used in making this top was 5/8″.

I sewed the bottom of my shoulder straps straight onto the top but you could attach yours with buttons. You could also close the back seam up if you want, by overlapping it, or sewing a seam down the middle. I might try doing this next time to make a dress out of the pattern instead.

Carolyn Pyjamas in Art Gallery and silk organza

I don’t buy that many new patterns but as soon as I saw this one, I knew it was meant for me. It was time for me to address the sad state of assorted past makes and retired daywear that I usually call sleepwear. Of course, that’s what I should have been doing. Sadly for my family, these pyjamas are not going to replace my current motley crew. As soon as I started sewing them, I realised that they were actually meant for somebody else, whose birthday is just around the corner. Maybe the next pair will be for me! 


It’s nearly Spring here, so the short version was the obvious choice for me to make. I thought long and hard about what fabric I wanted to use. If I was going to take the time to make a pair of pyjamas, there’s a good argument for making them in something special. I toyed with the idea of silk CDC polka dots and even Nani Iro, but in the end, I shopped from my stash and came up with a lovely Art Gallery cotton voile, leftover from some wrap pants I made last Summer. I also found some beige silk organza that matched perfectly for contrast in the cuffs and hem edge.

 

The pattern itself is great. I am so impressed with the design and the fit. The pants/shorts sit on the hips, without looking baggy around the bum, and the shirt fits more slim and comfortably than I was expecting.


I chose my size based entirely on the pattern packet and it worked out perfectly. I’d normally expect most shirts (of my bust measure) to be a bit tight through the shoulders. The shoulders are a perfect fit for my broad build. Others with narrower shoulders might find the shoulder seams to fit a little wider, which I suspect is what the pattern was intended to look like anyway.

 
 
 

I made no modifications to the pattern, apart from the organza panel at the bottom of the hem. This was a pretty simple modification, but it did involve a bit of craftiness around the seams. I will confess that I did not use French seams throughout the majority of this shirt. However, French seams in the organza were essential, so I made sure to finish the cuffs in this manner too. The side seams are half serged, half Frenched, in the same way you would do a French seam beneath an invisible zipper.