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!

Getting started on the Henley

The thing that excites me most about blogging is connecting with other bloggers and of course, shamelessly copying being inspired by their fabulous ideas and teachings. Today I got started on hubby’s new birthday gift, his Henley top. Ok, so I did make him a birthday business shirt last month (which he loves by the way) but of course I couldn’t hold out until December to give it to him. Unfortunately he is still in Kansas for work so I can’t even show you a photo, but he tells me it is my best shirt ever, and I believe him, given the number of times I’ve seen it on Skype already.

I have Andrea of Four Square Walls to thank for introducing me to Thread Theory and expanding my foray into menswear. Hubby is forever tallying up the amount of garments I make for the females of this family vs him, so I suspect I might be tempted to try the Newcastle cardigan soon too. 

In any case, I got started on my Henley tonight, sticking and cutting the pattern pieces as I watch Gray’s Anatomy. I purchased some beautifully soft (and manly) charcoal modal from Tessuti Fabrics to use for it. I figure if it all goes Pete Tong, then at least it will make a super soft and comfy pyjama top!

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.

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.
 
 
 
 
 

Fabric splurge

This is a short post because I am still having heart palpitations over my fabric splurge yesterday. I did go to Tessuti Fabrics with the good intention of spending the remainder of my $500 voucher on some practical linen for summer staples. However, I walked away with something a little different. My third place prize in the 2013 Tessuti Awards has now been spent in its entirety…it didn’t take me long!

Thanks to this dress here:

 
and here:
 
 
I was able to purchase 4m of this dreamy Italian viscose.
 
 
 
It drapes beautifully, is machine washable, non-directional in print, and in my absolute favourite colours. I can’t even breathe how much this cost me per metre, but let me just say it is nearly double the amount I have ever paid for fabric in the past. I actually have a dress in mind for it (which is why I needed so much) but I suspect it is going to sit in my stash for a long time until I can work up the courage to cut it!

Enter swimsuit season!

My first swimsuit has been successfully completed. 

 


And I am super excited with the way it turned out. I love the way the tulle skirt worked (my little modification) and the fabric is amazing. But don’t look too closely at my stitching! Being my first attempt at swimsuit making, I had to play around with stitches a bit. I do have an overlocker but it isn’t a very high end one and I sew much more precisely on my beloved Pfaff. So after a lot of indecisiveness, I ended up sewing the suit using stretch stitches on my sewing machine. I did however, still serge the waist seam to cover the tulle inside thoroughly so it wouldn’t be scratchy. Just look at how many stitches I have to choose from on my Pfaff!


I played around with number 16 and 18 (hopefully you can just make them out in the picture), and then ended up using a plain old zig-zag stitch of varying widths towards the end. It doesn’t look too bad, but I am still not sure if I used the best stitches for a perfect result. My main issue was with achieving a smooth finish over the elastic binding at the neck, arms and legs. I was also worried that the suit would be uncomfortable if I didn’t get it right. The pattern didn’t provide much instruction on sewing techniques for swimsuit fabric apart from the absolute basics.
 


The only modification I made (apart from the tulle) was to lengthen the body of it by about 3cm. My little ballerina Harper is not quite four but she is super tall for her age. She actually reminds me of Bambi with those long legs. I compared the pattern size 4 pieces to a one-piece swimsuit she already had and thought that 3cm would be more than adequate, but clearly it isn’t. Everything else about the suit fits her beautifully. And she obviously finds it very comfortable on. (I double checked for red marks on her little body at bathtime but there were none) I still think I will lengthen it a fraction more in the torso next time, and also raise the front neckline a couple of inches too.



Note the ever present ballet slippers. It was 32degrees today, perfect weather for all day swimsuit wearing… apparently.

And of course no photo shoot is complete without the Annecy photobomb.








Christmas playsuit for Coco

It’s called the ‘Christmas playsuit’ because I used the last of my lovely reindeer print jersey to make it. I used a pattern from this Japanese pattern book.


Yes, it is written entirely in Japanese, but there are excellent pictures to guide you in the construction of the clothes. I absolutely LOVE these Japanese pattern books. There are so many books to choose from, all with relatively simple designs. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them to beginners, but once you get a bit of practice and knowledge in garment construction, then the pictures are more than adequate to guide you.


 This is Coco in her Christmas playsuit. The main modification I  made was to add a little bit of thin elastic around the leg openings rather than let them hang like shorts. I did this because my fabric is so soft and drapey but had I chosen a linen or cotton, I probably would have left the pattern as normal.


 
I am told the outfit is no good to stand still in, but is fabulous for tree climbing!