Oliver + S denim culottes for Miss Six

It’s not often I’ll race out and buy a pattern as soon as it’s been released. I’ve only ever done it twice, and both times they’ve been Oliver + S patterns. The minute I saw this pattern I knew I had to have it. Do I need to tell you why?

They’re culottes!

I fell in love at first sight with this pattern, but I also knew that I would have a bit of trouble convincing my skirt wearing six year old that she needed a pair for herself. Part of my sales strategy was to show her my denim pair of culottes and to offer to make her the same. She loved the idea. And I loved the idea that I wasn’t going to have to use pink, or sparkles, or big flowers.


I cut a size six in the pattern but I made a few changes: 

  • I like a sleeker look to culottes so I combined the two front pleats into a single centre pleat. This also gave me more room to add my pocket details.
  • The contrast waistband and pocket was attached externally, so I ditched the inseam pockets. The pocket style is very similar to the ones I made for my denim culottes.
  • I lengthened them by 1″ for my taller than average 6.5 yr old

The denim I used for these culottes is quite heavy. It’s probably a lot heavier than was intended for this pattern, but I quite like the volume it gives the pants, and I know they will  be great to layer with wool tights to keep Miss Six warm in sub-zero temperatures. I made sure the back elastic in the waistband was fixed quite tight to keep the pants up.
 
I really like the waistband design of these culottes. It’s the same as the Oliver + S skort pattern, but this time it also includes instructions to interface the front section, which I think is a smart addition to the pattern. The front of the waistband is kept smooth because the elastic is only threaded along the back, stopping at each side seam. It’s a great design feature but it also means that you need to get the waist sizing close to perfect when selecting the size you cut. If you make the culottes too large in the first place, it’s difficult to pull (the half waist-length) elastic tight enough to keep the pants tight on a little waist. Skirts and pants that fall down while they play are a personal pet peeve of my girls. 


The boxy, drop shouldered top is one of mine that I refashioned specifically for Miss Six. It was originally cropped on me so I didn’t have to alter the length at all. I simply unpicked the side seams to remove the bust darts and re-stitched them narrower to suit her. I also added two pleats to bring the neckline in a bit. The sleeves are long on her, but I think they look great rolled up. She’s pretty happy with her new outfit. I think that smile says it all.



Jaywalk version 1

I’ve said it before, this fabric is gorgeous! Of course I was going to jump at the chance of entering Tessuti’s Jaywalk competition when this little beauty was put before me. The thing I love about this comp is that the rules are few and far between. You can basically make whatever you like, in whatever size, style or shape that suits you!

Stripes are so much fun and these were no exception. I loved playing around with the way they hung and swirled as I twirled. I actually made this skirt first, before my Jaywalk dress.  

 


I’m pretty happy with this make. It was my own design, but an oh so very simple one. The skirt consists of a pencil shaped portion with a generous graduated flounce at the bottom. I am most excited with the way that I managed to perfectly line up the stripes in the side seams, although this is hardly the work of a genius. Those stripes are perfectly on grain and I basted them in place to line them up first.

I stitched the elastic waistband directly to the reverse side of the top edge of the skirt in a zig-zag stitch and then folded it under twice (you can also do this on the right side of the fabric and fold it under once so the elastic sits against your skin). I copied the method from a FCUK skirt a few years ago and have been doing it this way ever since! You might remember the top as a Kanerva hack I made a little while ago.

 

And because this skirt is just so darn HOT, here a few more action shots. I kinda feel like a celebrity in these ones, but I like the way they show the skirt in motion! Now where did I put down my glass of Moet?

Sigh…paparazzo chasing me again. 

Obviously they want another shot of this booty-enhancing skirt… 

 But look, it also twirls!

Jaywalk version 2

So this is actually my second entry in the Jaywalk series. My skirt is yet to come. But like the skirt, this dress is my own design. I used my knit, skirt block for the bottom part and sketched a bodice to match my measurements before joining them up. I then used some scrap jersey to whip up a quick muslin to check and finesse the fit.


The end product is a fitted, dare I say it…..drop waist dress. I’m pretty happy with it. The fit is spot on, the fabric is divinely comfortable, and that flared skirt just makes me smile. It isn’t quite as smokin’ hot as the skirt (yet to come), but Miss Six and I still manage to attract a little attention when we head out in our matching Jaywalkers.

 
 
 

When making the dress, I was at crossroads with regards to finishing the neck and armscye. I was very nearly going to bind those edges with a black stripe, in the same manner that I finished Miss Six’s mini Jaywalker, but then I felt that it gave the dress a ‘too sporty’ feel for the glamorous flare of the skirt. In the end, I bound them with self fabric, before flipping it under, to cover the 1cm seam allowance (which I left in place to give a bit of shape and stability), and then I trimmed very closely to the seam.

 
 
 
 
 







Summer ruffles for me

There are a few reasons why I love these Japanese pattern books. The designs are usually really simple and what you see is EXACTLY what you get.

If I could read Japanese, I could tell you the title of this book. But I can’t, so here is the front cover instead. There are heaps of great ideas in this book. I have already made the dress she is wearing on the front cover, in similar colours too. It worked out exactly as you see it. I wore it once or twice to work, but the novelty wore off this unfitted style and I ended up giving it away.



But in need of a few summer tops, I decided to make this cute number below. The book said it would look like this:
 

 
Well mine looked like this:
 
 
Not too bad, even if I say so myself! The back doesn’t look too shabby either, especially considering I was short of my main fabric and had to make do with some lovely silk/cotton voile as a contrast instead. 
 
 
If only I had some decent pants to wear with it…well I would have if I’d stuck to my guns and purchased the sensible black linen instead of my fabric splurge the other day! I’m thinking some Chloe pants might jump onto my job sheet soon, well after my next pay day perhaps! I had such a great result sewing these Suzy pants a few months ago, that I am keen to try a few more Tessuti patterns. And before I forget, I must say a big thank you to Miss 5 for taking the photos, especially in the face of quite significant adversity.
 
 
 
 
 

The completed birthday shirt

 
I finally finished the birthday shirt. My ever present assistant was not entirely pleased with my handiwork. It could have been the lack of ruffles, big buttons, or tulle that failed to meet her expectations.

I was pleased with the way the contrasting floral Liberty of London looked on the inner collar stand and plackets. It may be my best collar yet in terms of neatness, but on comparing with the other shirts in hubby’s cupboard, I did notice that this collar is a little narrower. I may have to draft my own collar next time.

 
I am especially pleased with my button choice and in the way I was able to line up the stripes perfectly down the front. I always feel rather chuffed if the patterns end up matching as planned. I purchased these little buttons from the Button shop on King Street in Newtown. I wasn’t sure about them at the time as they have a slight grey/mauve tint (not at all like the standard pearlescent white buttons you see on absolutely every business shirt). But I bought them just in case and in the end they looked perfect!

 

I am not super happy with my buttonholes or edge stitching. Because of the dark contrasting fabric on the underside of the shirt, I decided to use a dark thread in my bobbin and it showed through to the top stitching slightly. I am not sure if this is a tension/stitching problem with my machine or just something that happens. Next time I would stick to all white thread and just deal with seeing the stitching on the underside.

Here’s to the completion of another shirt for hubby. I might not get excited about sewing him shirts anymore, but it is always so satisfying to complete such a technical project well, and the joy it gives my hubby to receive them is well worth every minute spent lining up stripes. My next challenge is going to be holding out until December to hand over the shirt!

Birthday shirt cuff comparison

The birthday shirt is coming along pretty well, although I am going to reserve my judgement on this project until the very end. I made a modification to the front placket, switching it to the inside so I could use a floral contrast instead of self-fabric. But, I now realise that the width of my modified placket won’t match perfectly with the other front side. At the moment, I am still hopeful that this mistake won’t be too noticeable (at least by hubby).

What has worked out nicely so far is the cuff plackets. I am using a nice white shirting to contrast with the stripes for the collar and cuffs. And check out the difference between the cuff plackets in this pattern compared to the vintage shirt pattern I had been using before. The vintage piece is on the left.

So, to make the cuff placket, I first made a slit, then stitched a narrow hem on one side of the slit, before stitching the placket piece to the other side.

I then folded it through to the right side (folding all the raw edges under neatly with the use of my iron), and stitched around the edges. Super simple and not fiddly at all.

I know the inside doesn’t look as professional (to me anyway!), but how can I not be happy with these results on the outside!


The birthday shirt

It makes perfect sense that my first sewing blog post is in someway connected to my ever supportive (and tolerant) husband. I am pretty lucky. He lets me set up my sewing table in our living room, holds his tongue when I rev the machine while he is watching TV. He even sent me out to buy a new (much more expensive machine) when my first budget one had some problems…possibly from the 24hr use it was getting. I think perhaps he was also hoping a better machine would come with some kind of noise filter.

A few years ago, he started suggesting I make him a business shirt. But I shied away from this project for at least a year. I know my husband quite well and I know how fussy he is with his business attire. He likes quality. The fabric quality was never going to be an issue as Tessutis (in Surry Hills – my second home!) has the most beautiful selection of Italian shirting fabrics. But I did doubt my skills to sew the perfect shirt. I still feel that sewing a business shirt is quite technical. You really have to take your time to line up all the stripes and keep the edges and collar perfect. In any case, I bit the bullet about a year ago and sewed him his first business shirt. He was delighted. It worked out great. I used a vintage shirt pattern which fit him nicely, but the collar shape ,being vintage, was probably not quite his style.

 

Butterick 3364 – I just lengthened the arms a few inches for him.

 

 

 
 
So since this first shirt, I have made him another two which have been better each time, since I have learnt more about interfacing and experimented with French cuffs and a slightly different collar shape. Hubby has suggested I put a project management board above my sewing table so he can add his project requests (read shirts, shorts, jacket) to my job list and then he will know how his order is progressing in my queue.
 
As much as I love sewing all things and anything, I am actually now a bit bored of this pattern. I’d also like to see if I can learn some different construction techniques from a different pattern. So for his upcoming birthday this year, I thought I would try a new pattern. I have selected some lovely stripes from Tessuti Fabrics and I was thinking I might put a tiny bit of hidden colour behind the collar and cuffs, using a bit of Liberty of London floral. I wasn’t sure when I purchased the floral, but it is growing on me and I am starting to think that it might actually make a great men’s shirt on its own…too loud?
 
 

 
 
Not totally sold on the look of the Kwik Sew pattern pieces as they look a bit wider in the back than the vintage Butterick and I loved the fitted look of the other shirts I made Nick. I am toying with the idea of adding some back darts anyway but will cross that bridge later.