Japanese Pattern Book Top in Striped Linen

It’s been a long time since I’ve made a pattern from a Japanese Pattern Book. I used to love using Japanese patterns many years ago, especially when my girls were tiny.

I made this top using the cover photo of this book. It doesn’t have an English title but I can give you ISBN978-4-579-11649-2.

I made my top up in the largest size available in the book. My chest measurement is 37 inches. I figured, since I couldn’t make heads or tails of any measurements chart, I couldn’t do too badly by choosing the largest size. This top is supposed to be roomy and oversized. It’s hard to say if mine is a little “extra” through the body in this respect. I feel like the shoulders fit where they should.

The design is pretty simple. It’s a raglan style with wide sleeves and a gathered neckline. I was drawn to this top because of the pretty collar. The neckline incorporates a drawstring to gather the neck area. It can be gathered as loose or tight as you wish. The bow can also be sewn so that it is tied at the back if preferred.

The style of this top works beautifully in linen. I feel like all of the patterns in this book would suit linen. My linen is from The Fabric Store. I used a pinstriped green linen for the bulk of the top and topped up the sleeves with a little duck egg blue. The stripes I used aren’t available online anymore, but I think this option would be also amazing.

I know it isn’t really the right season to be making a top like this, but I still love it. It’s the kind of top I can see myself wearing every day in Summer.

A Yuki Dress in Rayon Crepe

Sometimes I want to wear an easy dress in Winter. I have a bunch of fitted dresses that I can layer for cool weather. And I do. I wear turtlenecks and tights under many of my classic, fit and flare dresses. However, I love loose, floaty dresses too. I have several simple, shift-style dresses that I love to wear in Summer, but none for Winter. The Yuki Dress fit this wardrobe gap perfectly for me.

I used the Yuki pattern from Tessuti Fabrics. I made it up directly from the envelope. My body traverses three sizes in their patterns but because of the style of dress, (and to keep things simple), I chose the largest part of my body (bust) and selected my size in accordance with that. The dress is quite roomy through the body. I will probably grade the sides down a little next time.

I toyed with lengthening the dress. I normally lengthen everything I make (I’m 5″10). However, the pattern pieces seemed long to me when I was laying them out, and I wouldn’t have minded this style of dress being a little shorter. It did turn out quite long. It may be a little longer due to my choice of hem. I did a narrow hem on my dress, but I couldn’t tell you what the instructions ask for in this respect.

The fabric I used was a lovely rayon crepe in navy from The Fabric Store. It’s a gorgeous colour in real life, but like black, so hard to photograph to show details. I had to overexpose the above photo which makes the fabric look sheerer than it really is. I would love to make this dress up again in a wool crepe, a heavyweight cream linen, or perhaps a heavy silk satin. It’s a lovely pattern.

I’ve already worn this dress quite a bit. It’s a stylish, yet easy to wear piece that I can easily wear to work with a turtleneck and tights. I’m looking forward to sewing this one again one day!

The perfect merino turtleneck

As I know I’ve mentioned in the past, one of my biggest fitting issues is my broad “swimmer’s” shoulders. I usually just lengthen the shoulder seams by slashing a wedge between the shoulder and the armscye. Sometimes I move the wedge medially to broaden the back a bit too. I use a little bit of intuition when I see the flat pattern in front of me. Over time, it’s easier to look at pattern shapes and have a bit of an idea what should be done to fit your body better. It’s much the same way that I can look at a pair of RTW jeans and tell you straight away if they will fit my shape or not. It’s just experience.

I’ve digressed a little though, because I actually just want to talk about this turtleneck. It’s a pretty simple staple, but I really, REALLY love the way it fits. The pattern is the perfect blend of two patterns. I combined Thread Theory’s Strathcona Henley and Papercut Pattern’s Rise and Fall Turtleneck. The fabric is a divine Ballet Pink merino knit from The Fabric Store.

I made a slightly modified version of the Fall Turtleneck a few weeks ago and loved it. I was keen to sew it again, but I knew I would need to modify those shoulders a smidgen more. I also knew that I’d been wearing my husband’s old Strathcona’s to bed for a few years and it was a fit I could see potential in if I sized down. I tested this theory with my last make.

I basically just merged those two patterns together by laying them over each other and taking the bits that would fit my body the best. It worked out great. The wider “male” shoulder design suits me to a tee. But I also got to keep the body shape and cool turtleneck from the Papercut design.

If you follow me on IG, you’ve already seen how I intend to wear this particular turtleneck. If not, you will soon!

 

Dream Winter pyjamas

You should all know by know that I’m not super fond of sewing practical pieces. I’d much rather go buy things like leggings, pyjamas, activewear, tees, and the likes. I just don’t find it that much fun to sew staples.

A few months ago I happened across this gorgeous cotton knit from The Fabric Store. I thought the dotty print was pretty cute so I ordered myself some and made a fun little top. But I knew as soon as I felt it, that I’d much rather be covered head to toe in it as sleepwear. I put those pyjama plans off a little though, because…staples sewing.

I’m very glad I got around to it. I LOVE my new pyjamas. The fabric is a very stable cotton knit, and it actually feels a lot like flannelette after a few washings. It is so soft, thick, and cozy.

I used an old Vogue pattern for the pants. I’ve made up the wide leg pants of V1347 several times in the past for pyjamas, albeit in linen. They worked very well in a stable knit.

The top was a Thread Theory Strathcona Henley. I’ve been wearing my husband’s old Strathcona’s as pyjama tops for a few years now, so I really wanted to see how the top would work sized down once for me. It turns out that the Strathcona Henley is a dream design for strong women with broad shoulders and small busts. It fits perfectly without any shoulder alterations. I omitted the front placket for some simple binding. I feel like I also may have lengthened the arms or cuffs in the past, but it’s been so long that I can’t remember.

Anyways, we just had the first real snow/blizzard in Kansas City for the past four years. Five or six inches of snow and the whole city stops. I’ve enjoyed the snow day with my girls, but now I’m off to snuggle up in my new PJ’s!

Fall and Rise Turtleneck for Fall

Sometimes I get my hands on a fabric that is just so gorgeous that I want to make a dozen things from it. Sometimes (but not very often at all) I’ll go back for seconds, and I’ll add that exact same fabric to my cart more than once. Let me introduce this organic cotton knit to you. It’s from The Fabric Store. It comes in two colourways. Sadly, the navy option is sold out, but I can tell you from experience, that the white option is just as beautiful. I love it because it is quite thick, stable, and ever so snuggly to wear.

I have the white colourway on my sewing table as we speak. Yes, I went back for seconds but I wasn’t quick enough to get more of the navy. I desperately want some to make myself some pyjamas with it. However, I can’t stop second guessing myself, that perhaps I should make something to wear out of the house instead… Stay tuned.

The pattern I used is the Rise and Fall Turtleneck by Papercut Patterns. I made the Fall version of this pattern, for Fall of course. Well, I was actually lured in by the nice dropped shoulder shape of the top. I shortened the turtleneck a bit and I wear it folded down. I also added a bit of length to the shoulder seams (broad shoulder adjustment). I think I may have lengthened the top a smidgen too.

Obviously, the biggest change I made is to the sleeves. I very nearly sewed the top exactly as per the pattern, but I chickened out at the last minute and added myself some big old flounces. It’s not a difficult modification. I basically just measured the armscye, copied that measurement to some pattern paper and drew a big circle flounce around it (think circle skirt shape). I graduated the length of the sleeve to be a little longer in the back. So I look like I have wings…

I’ve already worn this top quite a bit. It’s warm and cozy. It’s fun to wear with jeans. It’s also easy to layer when the weather gets colder.

An updated drop waist dress in printed linen

I made a bunch of drop waist dresses several years ago. I absolutely loved them. Two are still in very good condition. They just feel a bit outdated to me, so they have been packed away for another time (or for when my girls become teenagers and want to explore all the old clothes I used to make and wear).

I used the old pattern that I drafted for myself years ago. Sorry, there isn’t a pattern for this, but it is far from complicated. I used French darts and a slightly A-line shape to the dress bodice. I like French darts for this style as then blend in nicely with the A-line shape. The bodice has a hi-lo curve to it, and the gathered skirt is a little longer than I’ve used in the past. I also modified the shoulders to create ties instead of fixed seams.

The linen fabric is from The Fabric Store. It’s such a lovely, fresh print. And for those of you who like to wear linen, but have trouble with the delicious crinkles, I’d suggest you try a printed linen like this. It still wrinkles like linen, but the print kind of disguises them.

This will be such a cool and comfy dress to slip on during hot, summer days. I’ll probably wear it most over bathers, on trips to the pool, or outdoor swim meets.

Harper Fly Suit #11002

The (slang) definition of Fly is: very good; excellent; cool; awesome. Also, as any swimmer will know, the stroke of butterfly is commonly referred to as Fly.

Therefore, it made perfect sense to name this suit after the other little swim champ in the family. Miss Eight loves swimming about as much as her ten year old sister. She is also “fly” in every sense of the word. I can see her following the same path as Miss Ten, in terms of the satisfaction she derives from achieving in the sport, and her commitment to succeed. She tries about as hard in practice and racing as I’ve ever seen anyone do. I can also see her trying to identify with a component of swimming that is her own, a niche that she excels in, above and beyond, or simply different to what her big sister can do.

Big sister’s best stroke is freestyle, and she not only has a beautiful, natural stroke, she is also fiercely competitive (as a first born often is). Big sister also does reasonably well at backstroke. She wants to be great at backstroke (probably because of her mama) but I’m not sure it comes as naturally to her as it does to Harper. Harper is very good at backstroke and is strong at freestyle, but lately, she has been doing really well in butterfly, a stroke that has not come very easily to her big sister. While she still has a very long way to go with her fly, she has pretty good timing and position in the water, and a good sense of how to pull her body forward strongly.

She won a few ribbons in fly during the short course season, and now I can see that this has changed her perspective on the stroke. She takes a lot of pride in leading the lane during butterfly sets and it obviously makes her feel good. Miss Eight may or may not become a butterfly specialist in the future. She’s only little. It doesn’t really matter, as long as it is giving her enjoyment now.

I called her Madame Butterfly recently after I saw her doing some particularly great fly in practice. And then we went home to watch some videos of the original Madame Butterfly (Susie O’Neill). She loved this. And I loved seeing my little middle child find someone or something to identify with as her own.

And speaking of sisters. Cate and Bronte Campbell are the other great Australian swim stars we follow closely in this household, for very obvious reasons. It’s a challenge finding a way to compete with and cheer for your sister at the same time. But it’s also a great life lesson that I believe we are (so far) doing well at practicing. It helps to have others to look up to who also fight that same battle. Whilst watching the recent Commonwealth Games, as you can imagine, one of the most common questions I kept getting was, “who is older…?”.

And back to this suit, you can find it in my Etsy shop. The actual suit is not the one you see in the above photo from last Summer, but the smile on Miss Eight’s face is the true representation of the joy I see in this mermaid. I am yet to make Miss Eight her own (recent) version, which will no doubt be in an animal print. The actual Harper Fly Suit can be seen in action here. But I couldn’t very well name the suit after this little six year old mischief. She tolerates swimming, and goes to practice as rarely as she can, because it keeps her water safe, and because she can have a great old belly laugh with anyone she can corrupt in her lane.

This suit is very similar in fit to the Coco Racer. My girls love this style of suit. It’s what the big (National) girls were wearing all last season, so naturally all the little kids want to wear the same.

 

Coco Racer #11001

There’ll be no prizes for guessing who this swimsuit pattern is named after. She was instrumental in testing the first samples for me…over…and…over…again, during the past 18 months. This design has taken time, but in the end we nailed it. No underarm or neck chaffe, no pulling on the shoulders, no constricting the shoulder blades, no wedgies, no catching water in the bottom or through the neck.

We like it best made fully lined, as the design instructs. However, I have made a “racing” version of the suit by just lining the crotch and omitting the front and back lining. It’s a nice suit that looks good and performs well.

I have several more swimsuit designs in the pipeline, both for kids and adults. I’m also considering putting together some kits since I have a stash of the most beautiful Italian swimsuit fabric on hand (chlorine resist, UP50, recycled). As soon as I finish juggling some of life’s curveballs, I might get on with it! 😉

Vogue 1027: a faux wrap dress

At some point, I must have decided that I needed more Summer neutrals in my closet. What better than a DKNY jersey dress in the most beautiful, weighty viscose. I’ve used several different shades of this viscose jersey over the years. It always sews up really nicely.

I’m also quite fond of Vogue patterns. I find they fit me very consistantly. I can make my standard adjustments and sew up the pattern right off the bat, without a muslin. My standard adjustments are 1/4 inch extra width through each shoulder seam, and lengthening a 1/2 inch through the bodice (#sewingtall). I usually also lengthen the hem length.

I didn’t bother with lengthening the skirt because I wasn’t planning on hemming the fabric. I prefer to leave a weighty viscose in a skirt like this with a raw hem. I feel like it looks a lot cleaner than a hem. However, having said that, I did follow the rest of the pattern instructions properly, which involved facings on the sleeves and a hemmed neckline. They worked out beautifully.

The measurements on the pattern envelope correspond very well to my actual size. I believe my dress reflects what I see on the pattern cover. I did make a few observations on the design, mostly relating to my fabric choice.

1. The waistline is supposed to be higher. Mine does technically sit in the right spot, but the weight of the fabric in the circle skirt pulls the dress and stretches the bodice down. Furthermore, I’ve folded the fabric belt half down to cover my elastic seaming below the waistline. I believe the belt is supposed to be folded up completely, again shortening the look of the bodice. It’s a catch-22. I adore the drape of a weighty viscose, but it does make for a heavier dress.

2. The instructions say to create casing for elastic with an extra seam below the bodice seam, using the seam allowances from inside the dress. Looking at the pattern cover, I’m not convinced that they did this step. I don’t like the look of this seam line on the finished dress, so I’ve tried to hide it with the belt. Also, measure your own waist to determine the elastic length required. Their measurements here are completely off. My elastic probably isn’t tight enough to hold the heavy skirt up adequately, but I was wary of too-tight elastic being uncomfortable and creating too much “gathering” through the waist seam.

3. Considering the 4-way stretch of my jersey, I probably could have sized down through the waist and skirt to achieve a more snug fit (which I feel would suit the style of jersey I used). I also wonder what the crossover bodice would look like if I ditched the pleats (I certainly don’t need the space with my bust size!). I’m not unhappy with the way this dress turned out. The bodice fit is good, and the shoulders are comfortable. And the dress even has pockets!

I will definitely sew this pattern again, maybe in a bit more colour next time. Meanwhile, I can see myself wearing this dress quite a bit over the next few months.

 

Simplicity 1366 in black lace

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I made a few mistakes when I was a beginner at sewing. I was sucked in by every pretty quilting cotton, which of course I was never going to use. I also snatched up Liberty of London remnants when I saw them. Why? Liberty looks cute on other bloggers, but have you ever seen me wear Liberty of London?

Another thing I used to do was buy completely inappropriate amounts of fabric for a project. I lived pretty close to my favourite bricks and mortar stores in Sydney, and yet I still harboured a morbid fear of winding up short on a make. Remember this dress? Now, please note the very small amount of lace I used for the back insets. Past-Debbie purchased a good 2.5m of that lace, just to make sure she had enough… The remnants had been in my stash since 2012.

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It was nice to finally put this great fabric to good use. I used Simplicity 1366 with a few modifications.

  • I extended the inside shoulder seams to create a closely fitted neckline. I worked out the gradient of the extended shoulder seam very scientifically. I put on an existing Simplicity 1366 top and eyeballed the shape and length of the new shoulder seam. I think I got it pretty spot on.
  • I also added a high collar. This was super easy, since the lace had perfectly shaped rick rack panels.
  • Because of the high collar, I added three buttons and a keyhole/slit back for back fastenings.
  • I lengthened the sleeves and added jersey cuffs.
  • I lengthened the body a smidgen and added a jersey cuff.

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I love my new top. It’s a great addition to my Fall wardrobe and I love that it works equally well with jeans and trousers.

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