Satin pants – Vogue 1347

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Some time ago, I was the recipient of several large remnants of lovely vintage fabric. Mostly, it was made up of silks, but there were a few synthetics in there too, including the pale green satin I used for these pants.

This satin (although very beautiful and silk-like) is a pretty tricky colour to pair with most of the skin types in my immediate family. Harper, Annecy and I have very fair skin and blue eyes. I have a very warm undertone to my skin which gives me the illusion of a looking tanned at times, but (for example) I use the palest shade of Lancome foundation available. This particular shade of green is probably one of the worst colours you could ever put on us. Miss Eight, with her coppery hair and green-tinted, blue eyes, could have pulled it off, but even so, I think there are more beautiful colours I could put her in when she gets old enough to wear a heavy satin like this.

It probably would have sat in my stash indefinitely had the thought of satin track pants not occured to me. And pants, being a considerable distance from my face, would not be as likely to drain me of all my human colour.

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I used a Chado Ralph Rucci pattern (Vogue 1347) that I’ve used a few times before. I like the fit of the elastic waist pants, and the legs are drafted long and wide (even for me!). I made a few small modifications to the pattern.

  • I changed the waistband construction, by stitching on a separate waistband casing, rather than simply folding down (albeit with some tidy bias facing). This *may* have dropped the waist height by about a half inch. I can’t quite remember. I also made my wasitband extra wide. I stitched a seam 1 cm from the folded edge of the waistband so it would “ruffle” slightly above the encased elastic.
  • I omitted the pockets because I though they might be too visible/bulky under the satin. I regret this decision a bit now! I do love pockets.
  • I added a black panel down the side of the leg. I seamed the back leg portion of the pants to include this panel.
  • I added 1 inch to the length of the legs.

I took a while to decide whether I wanted to line these pants or not. In the end I chose to fully line them in a beige-coloured, acetate lining fabric. The lining will increase their comfort against my skin since acetate is breathable and poly satin is not. It also adds warmth (Winter!), smooths and strengthens the outer fabric.

These are fun pants that I will enjoy wearing during Winter as a change from jeans. I’ve paired them with the satin cami I made recently, because it was still very hot when I was taking photos. I’ll probably be wearing them differently in a few months, perhaps with a button down shirt and blazer, or a sweater and coat. I’m sure I’ll have more photos to share on Instagram soon.

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One shoulder top… times two…

What do you do if you can’t decide if your top should have a sleeve or not? You make both versions of course!

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I originally only had the sleeved version of this little one-shoulder top in mind, but that changed mid-construction. I left the sleeve off the first version, but since I’d already cut the sleeve, I decided to follow through with the sleeved version too.

The fabric is a vintage score from an estate sale. It’s some type of seersucker, but most likely a poly version, which means I’d already delegated it to the “wearable muslin/kid” section of my stash. I love having a few good lengths of stress-free fabrics like this in my stash. It takes the fear out of experimenting with new designs and styles, but still makes a fun, wearable item if I do end up liking it.

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Now, let me talk about the design a little, because it is something you can easily replicate yourself. I used my Branson Top pattern as a base because I love the more fitted back and slightly dropped shoulders of that design. You could use any TNT top version that you already have on hand.

Here are the steps I took in making the modifications:

  1. Removed the CF seam and traced the front and back pieces in full. You won’t be able to cut any pieces on the fold because the pieces are all asymmetrical.
  2. I raised the front hemline to match the back (the front hem dips lower in the Branson top).
  3. I brought the neckline of one shoulder seam in towards the neck by 1.5 inches.
  4. Sliced diagonally across the pattern pieces to create the one-shoulder shape. I shaped this line with a very slight curve in my version but you could keep the line straight. The diagram below shows the back pattern pieces, but I kept the line the same for the front.

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In the sleeveless version, I simply added some elastic in a strip of casing at waist level in the front of the top only (the waist is marked by the back seam above the peplum in the Branson top). The back of my top is fitted so it doesn’t need any elastic. I used pre-made bias tape for the casing.

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I bound the neckline with pre-made bias binding, turned to the inside to function as elastic casing for thin elastic. The neckline only needs a lightweight/thin elastic to pull it in against the body, rather than hold it up.

For my sleeved version, I just shortened the sleeve and added elastic casing.

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These tops were both super easy to make and will be a fun addition to my wardrobe for the last half of Summer.

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White Esthers and a knit raglan

There’s never any fabric waste in my house, especially when it’s something as lovely as this Saratoga knit by O! Jolly!. I only had the tiniest amount left after finishing my Megan longline cardigan, but I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it.

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I used the raglan view of V8952 as a base for the top. I made a few fit modifications, raised the neckline, and added my own neck and hem bands. I used some plain white ponte for the back and sleeves, and seamed together three scraps of Saratoga knit for the front. I love the texture of the spongy knit as a feature and the contrast of cream against white.

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The shorts are an old favourite and TNT for me. I used the Esther shorts pattern and simply added an asymmetrical overlay at the front. I used scraps for this make too. I salvaged some gorgeous, meaty Theory cotton sateen (from this dress) to use for the back of the shorts and for the front overlay. The dress was tired (with a few stains) and needed to be retired. I didn’t have quite enough sateen though, so I used some scrap linen for the shorts front and overlay lining. The linen was too lightweight for the shorts on its own, but perfect for this design where the front is layered.

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I’ll wear these shorts a lot. I made a yellow version a few  years ago which are still on the go, but have been downgraded to gardening/painting gear. It feels good to replace a wardrobe item that was very much loved.

 

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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Oliver + S Apple Picking Dress in bird fabric

When I went fabric shopping for my bias dress muslin, I may have purchased a little too much of this particular bird fabric. It has a lovely, light-weight feel and drape, but it is still 100% polyester. I find it easier to overlook the poly-factor when filling my childrens’ wardrobes.

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Miss Seven was the recipient of this Apple Picking Dress by Oliver + S. There are quite a few details in this pattern that require a little extra care, but nothing is particularly complicated. In fact, the only thing that made this dress difficult was my choice of slippery, press-resistant polyester. Pure cotton or silk would sew up like a dream.

I really like the double, front button placket and collar/tie. I also love the loose bodice and drop waist shape. My front placket is far from perfect. I didn’t match my interfacing well enough to the fabric and buttonholes. There’s some puckering on the buttonholes which I find very annoying. I should have gone a little sturdier on the stabilising. Maybe it also would have helped if I’d lowered the stitch tension.

A size 7 in this pattern fits Miss Seven very well. The shoulder width and arm length looks good to me. I sewed the full length arms and they are probably designed to sit a little longer, but this length is very practical for a child. I’m not sure why the front placket is pulling up when the dress is worn. It could be that I tied the collar a little too tight. It could also be due to the way she is standing (with her shoulders back and arched slightly).

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I’ll definitely sew this pattern again. My choice of fabric works beautifully with this style of dress. It’s a design that would also sew up exceptionally well in silk for a special occasion.

 

Embroidered organza shift with sleeves

I decided to make a birthday dress for myself this year.  The fabric was purchased for me as a birthday present last year when my husband was on a business trip to NY. He chose it himself which impresses me to no end. At a glance, it’s gorgeous. In real life, it’s a fabric I wouldn’t  have checked out myself. I would have taken one look at the label and put it back on the shelf. And I would have missed out on a lot of fun.

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My friends, this delicious embroidered organza is pure, flammable polyester. I suspected as much, but was hoping for a miracle. A burn test outed this beauty. The fibres melted rather than burned. Further confirmation was delivered by an IG buddy who recognised the fabric and remembered its content.

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Silk organza would have made this dress an enduring beauty. Polyester organza means this fabric does not breathe. It is stiff, scratchy, and uncomfortably hot. I can deal with the comfort issues by moving the dress into my Winter wardrobe. I think it would look good with a black slip and black tights. The contrast under the sheer organza would be fun.

Unfortunately, my birthday is in the middle of a sweltering Kansas Summer (we’re talking tropical Top End weather to my Aussie friends out there). I could have forgone the sleeves, but the sleeves are an important feature of the dress for me (these were actually the 3rd sleeves I trialled for this dress).

The fabric also does not press or hold a crease. To work around this fact, I kept the design as simple as possible. It’s a sheath with bust darts, French seams throughout, a hand-stitched bound neck, and sleeves. I toyed with the idea of back darts or a CB seam for shaping but after some online research into sheath dress shapes on designer runways, I decided to keep mine without. I’m wearing a white slip underneath it for modesty.

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I wasn’t keen on hemming the dress and sleeves because the embroidery makes the organza quite bulky and of course it doesn’t press. My solution was to cut the dress and sleeves on the cross-grain so I could incorporate the beautiful selvedge into the design. After putting the dress together, however, I decided that didn’t like the pretty frayed edges after all. I ended up cutting them off but keeping a portion of the un-embroidered selvedge. I also felt that the original flared sleeves were a bit much for the loud fabric so I cut different, more streamlined sleeves instead.

It was a lot of fun making this dress. I loved problem-solving the fabric issues. I will wear it, but probably not during Summer. It might become my Christmas or New Years dress instead.

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One scrappy Christmas skirt

I keep most of my little silk scraps because they make such beautiful swishy little skirts. Mostly, the scraps are all off grain, and in awkward shapes and lengths but this doesn’t matter one bit. I just hem the edges, gather the pieces, and then layer them randomly until a skirt is formed. The waistband is just a length of elastic, encased in a fabric waistband.

I made this skirt with leftover Cracked Glass CDC from my Summertime Anna, Chanel-inspired ensemble, and little birdie polyester dress.

 It’s a very swishy skirt!

But now I must take my handbag and go Mummy.

Just another twirly skirt

There’s not much to say about this skirt. It’s simply made by layering panels of gathered polyester chiffon to a waistband. The fabric was chosen by one of my girls when we were shopping at Jo-Ann, although I’m still not sure what possessed me to purchase it…perhaps my daughter’s big blue eyes, or maybe it was the $3/yard price tag.

 
 

 
 


I’m pleasantly surprised by how this skirt turned out. I can make my girls the coolest culottes and tops, but the thing that lights up their faces the most is, without fail, the simplest of gathered skirts.  

 

Simplicity 1435 and self-drafted aprons in vintage fabric

I was given a little bundle of vintage fabrics recently, in the hope that I would put them to good use. Coincidentally, my daughter’s preschool teacher asked me that very same day if I would mind sewing a few aprons for their school. I don’t bake cakes, but I do sew, so it was a big yes from me.

Now, I’ll admit that none of the fabrics were of a style or fibre that I would normally buy. But those little aprons turned out great. I winged the design by sewing together a couple of squares and adding gathers here and there. I varied the sizing randomly to allow for all the different sized peeps in Miss Four’s class. There were four aprons made in total, in vintage floral, tiger stripes, poly plaid, and some white linen scraps from my own stash. The tiger stripes were everyone’s favourite.

Miss Two claims to like every fabric that I touch, including the floral jersey in the bundle. It’s a very old style polyester with a slightly shiny surface so I’m not entirely sure how it will wash and wear, or breathe for that matter. Bearing this in mind, I kept her dress pretty simple. I used the same little dress pattern as here. It’s perfect. She’s perfect. In fact, she’s so edible (even when she’s grumpy), that I’m surprised she’s nearly made it to her third birthday.

Most important criteria met. It twirls.

Still grumpy though.

Did somebody say Scraptember?

I’ve said it before, my girls aren’t fussy. That’s probably a little bit of a lie. They refuse to wear jeans or long pants, but I think we’ve finally progressed beyond the ‘everything needs to be pink and sparkly’ phase. Queue me jumping for joy!

Like most other seamstresses out there, I’m forever collecting fabric scraps. I don’t actually ever put any fabric in the bin. Useable pieces go in my scrap basket and the rest gets lumped in a pile on the armchair where it quickly discovered by small hands and turned into all kinds of pretend food, dresses for toys, train tracks, bows, blankets, and decorations. There is a downside to this imaginary play though…my sewing mess is distributed throughout the entire house!

I often dig into my scraps to find a little bit of cotton to line bodices and skirts for my little peeps. My girls are still quite small so scraps go a long way. I usually try to colour coordinate and match the scraps when I sew, but sometimes I just go on a bit of a scrap-busting binge and wind up with all kinds of eclectic makes. Quite often, it’s the most miss-matched pieces that get the most love from my girls.

Here’s a little round up of my recent scrappy makes.
 
1. First up is a pair of Go To tights for Miss Six. The little skirt overlay is the perfect compromise. I modified the hem length and shape on my version. She thinks she is wearing a skirt. I think she is wearing practical pants. You’ve seen my Ikat jersey before, here, here, and here.
 

 2. Miss Two wanted what Miss Six had, so I made her a smaller version to the same specifications. Hers is the ultimate scrapbust. It’s hard to see in the photos, but I’ve used wool jersey for the front of the tights (here), white solid knit for the back (here), and of course, that infamous Ikat for the skirt.

 

 3. My girls virtually fell over in awe when I walked out in my last Two-Piece Set-Acular. It was the maxi skirt they couldn’t keep their eyes off. So I put my nice mother hat on and made them all a maxi skirt. I took more care making the matching version for Miss Six. It isn’t dangerously long so she can wear hers to school.

 
But it is still most fabulous for swishing and twirling.


4. Miss Four’s skirt was made using the most beautiful pink textured poly remnant from Tessuti Fabrics. Miss Six chose it for her birthday more than 18 months ago but I couldn’t quite bear to cut it up. She didn’t care though. Miss Six isn’t really into pink. Miss Four is though. She’s paired it with her big sister’s Badminton top


Miss Two’s skirt is pure scrap and an ugly little thing, but she doesn’t care. It trails on the floor and swishes which is all she cares about. I purchased the cotton voile on sale a while ago. I’ve since discovered that it’s probably a poly blend, having seen how much and how quickly it has pilled in the other little clothes I’ve made using it (here and here). I didn’t want to waste it, but I wanted to be rid of it. The ruffles are left over from my kimono. I must have pieced together a dozen little lengths to make that ruffle.

Here’s a bit of insight into what goes on behind the camera. The photo shoot basically consisted of Miss Four doing her poses while Miss Two inched closer and closer, before finally pouncing. The smiling assassin.