A little bit of Lisa Ho for hubby

A few months ago, I made a great pair of Suzy pants using some of the most amazing Lisa Ho fabric that I picked up from the Fabric Store. The fabric was gorgeous, a lovely lightweight silk and cotton blend, with the most beautiful silky satin finish. Now as I was making my own pants, the fabric caught hubby’s eye. After a closer investigation of my fabric he declared that HE would like some pants in this fabric too. Now he may very well have been joking…but as it turned out, I had the exact amount left to make him his very own pair of boxers slash pj’s!

I used this great little pattern and made up the longer version of boxer without the side slit.


But I can definitely see the shorter style of boxer coming in handy for an 80’s night/Magnum PI party down the track.

I think they turned out rather swanky in the end. Who would have thought Lisa Ho could translate so beautifully into a pair of men’s boxers? Not I said the cat. But I am really hoping they fit…I used his undies elastic as a guide since I wanted them to be a surprise. But even if they don’t, I know they will make him smile because he loves a joke. I’m not totally sure he will model these for a photo but if he relents, I will be sure to update this post in a few weeks.

Vintage floral

We are having a great lazy start to the weekend here. For a pleasant change, all I can hear are little voices excitedly pretending to be fairies, teachers, campers and whatever else their little minds are thinking up on the spur of the moment. I can never keep up with the rules of their games. But at least there is a lot of love in the air today.


My girls are lucky enough to live in a quiet street, with some great neighbourhood kids to play with. They have a lovely time scooting up and down the pathway in front of our house, and generally spend their days running amok. 


Today Miss 5 was out racing around in her new top. A lovely little number made using some cute vintage cotton. Miss 3 is wearing her little Ralphy dress (made with a Tessuti fabric) with some gorgeous green vintage buttons we handpicked together from All Buttons in Newtown.


This is the pattern I used for Coco (View 2), but I scaled it down a bit to fit my size 5 girl.


I’d started out making it for my seven year old neighbour but when it looked like being way too small, I ditched this plan, slimmed the side seams a little and shortened it a smidge for my daughter. But the best thing about it has to be my zipper insertion. I am rarely excited by the way my zips turn out, but I think perhaps I may finally be getting better at them. God knows I’ve inserted enough into all my dresses and tops over the last two years for the sake of my little Midgie.




This dress was made for twirls!

 

I’m actually very comfortable with how I look now. I can’t change who I am and I love myself exactly as I am (although this wasn’t always the case!). Some people would say I am incredibly lucky. I am blessed with those tall, lean genes that we see in so many magazines, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t dreamt of being smaller or curvier, or bustier in the past. As a dietitian and mother, I spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to convince girls and women that they can’t all look the same and to love the body they were given. Make it healthier, yes! But to love and embrace themselves for the way they were born. 

Having babies, in particular girl babies, played a massive role in making me reassess the way I judged and treated my own body. I realised that if I couldn’t speak aloud about the things I loved about myself, to accept my flaws, as well as compliments with aplomb, then how was I ever going to teach my daughters to do the same. Every time my daughters call me a princess or tell me I am pretty, I make sure I say thank you and agree with them wholeheartedly. Over time, you start to believe what you say. But what makes me the happiest of all is to hear my daughters talk about themselves and their bodies with such love and confidence. I know they are young yet, but I am hopeful we are getting off to a good start for a body-loving future.

Now, the point of this post is not to analyse the intricacies of body image, but rather, to introduce you to my latest creation…the product of my fabric splurge! How I got off track in the first place was because this dress is just made for curves, of which I clearly have none. It is a significant departure from my usual style of relatively fitted clothes. But it is also a style of dress that I have secretly always wanted to own. Slinky, trapeze dress, thank you for finally finding me. I think we are going to have lots of fun together. Especially since I have discovered that I can solve the problem of my missing curves by swishing and twirling and never allowing this wonderful dress to sit still. So if you see me twirling down the street, you will know why. This dress is made for curves or failing that, big twirls!


 


On the sewing side of things, I was a wee bit nervous about getting stuck into this project, not only because of the decadent fabric I was using, but because the type of dress I was making was outside my comfort zone. Most things in my wardrobe are quite fitted. I also wasn’t entirely convinced that my fabric choice was going to be able to sufficiently ‘modernise’ the vintage pattern I had chosen to use. View B by the way! But with a lowered front slit opening instead. I am still thinking of adding a little seed bead cord/tie to fasten or loosely tie the front edges. I love the sleeves at the moment but I can convert the dress back to a sleeveless option if I want. It has fabulous big pockets and I love that it is tea length. Although after seeing my photos, I realise I should have made mine a smidgen longer. 


Making the dress was a great experience. I learnt a few valuable lessons. Viscose is tricky! At least, long lengths cut on the bias are tricky, but not unmanageable. I needed to take my time, pin carefully and baste often. I also learnt about the power of patterns. NEVER, ever disregard the pattern. Now I knew this gorgeous fabric had a pattern, but I thought it was random enough to skip matching the circles. I also didn’t think I would have enough fabric to match them. But now I look at my completed dress, and the mismatched pattern is a little bit of a disappointment to me. At the very least, I should have thought to reposition the blues and greens at the centre front instead of the sides, since they are my favourite colours. You can see my mismatch below.


But on a positive, I also learnt how to fit sleeves into the armscye better, specifically fitting them for my own body shape. Sleeves have always been a great source of frustration to me. No matter how carefully I attach them, they still never quite fit me properly. So I referred back to a great little book I had read in the past. Apparently, with forward pointing shoulders like mine, I need to rotate the sleeve cap forward a bit and redistribute the ease accordingly. Amazing! This was one of those lightbulb moments that make all the frustrations of sewing worthwhile. Now, I finally GET it and will look forward to lots of perfectly fitted sleeves in the future! 

 
 

The back to front switcharoo

So my last fabric dyeing session wasn’t a great success. I decided to have a go at creating some floral designs on a light cotton/silk voile. Somehow, my hand decided to draw monster flowers, rather than the delicate buds in my minds eye. I also realised later that I hadn’t mixed the dye thoroughly enough and you can see grainy ‘dots’ of dye all through my flowers. You can only just see this dotty effect in the photo, but in real life it is quite an obvious flaw in the semi sheer fabric.

I can’t bear to throw away fabric, so I decided to make a summer nightie for my daughter using the pattern below. I chose to make the sleeveless nightie in View D, albeit a little shorter.

This is probably the oldest pattern I have ever attempted. The instructions were very clear and the tissue pieces were so delicate with several parts missing. I must also admit that I rushed through this project and didn’t take the time to transfer the markings from the paper correctly (well those that hadn’t been lost in time). I also skipped the ribbon seam binding because I didn’t have it at hand. The dress may have looked a little better with the ribbon, but I still don’t think it could have salvaged the nightie. But hang on…what happens if we turn the nightie around?! It’s just fabulous Mummy, all problems solved, and I especially love the big flower at centre front!

 

The big TWO


Happy birthday my little midgie! No, that’s not really her name, but that’s what she goes by in our house. She is the delightful little runt of the litter, average in height compared to her tall sisters and Miss Five quite likes the fact that ‘midgie’ is also the name of a tiny biting fly.

It may come as no surprise that her gift from me was a birthday dress. Made with some beautiful cotton/silk voile from Tessuti Fabrics. I lined it completely in cream voile because the fabric was a bit sheer. It is a simple lightweight frock in my own design, perfect for the summer heat, and a little loose to see her all the way through summer (assuming my midgie grows!).

My finished Henley

Yes, I do realise I shouldn’t be calling it ‘my’ finished Henley because it isn’t meant for me. But the fabric I made it with is just so soft and delicious that I won’t be too disappointed if it doesn’t fit hubby and I am forced to claim it as my own!

I used the pattern below by Thread Theory and my fabric of choice was a charcoal modal from Tessuti Fabrics. Modal is a gloriously soft type of rayon fabric, made from trees (usually Beech). It is divine to wear, but it does pill a little over time. I find it holds it’s shape well, and if I am making a top for myself in modal, I wouldn’t usually finish short sleeves as it rolls prettily and doesn’t fray (although that’s hardly what I want for this very manly shirt I am making).


I enjoyed following this pattern, but I did find it a little fiddly making perfect buttonholes and plackets with modal. My bottom buttonhole was a disaster, but thankfully it isn’t too obvious with the button in place. Even though I interfaced the placket (in little strips under the fabric but not the facing fabric), it still moved all over the place when I was stitching. I think I will fuse lighter weight interfacing to the entire placket piece next time before putting it together.  

I love the modern, slimline shape of this top. I find it hard to find great menswear designs, so I must thank Andrea from Four Square Walls who introduced me to Thread Designs in the first place. Her review of this pattern is here.

I chose to make the Large size for hubby and lengthened the arms a little. I lined up another similar top he owned to check the pattern pieces for sizing. I am a bit worried the top will be too long, but this is easy enough to change at a later date.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how my Henley turned out and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it fits. I’m a little bit out of season here, but I think it will make the perfect top for layering in Autumn and winter.

Tory Burch handmade by Coco


My eldest daughter started ‘big school’ at the beginning of this year and she has been lucky enough get a particularly lovely Kindy teacher who is caring, engaged with the children, and who seems to genuinely know my child (at times better than myself!). So I knew we would get to the end of the year and want to give her a thoughtful gift that would reflect our gratitude (and hopefully suit her style).

It is quite early to be thinking of Christmas gifts, but today was one of those rare opportunities when Miss Three was out shopping with her Nan, my littlest imp was sleeping, and I had my big girl Coco all to herself. Given the cost of the materials, this was a job I was not going to attempt amidst grabbing hands and over-zealous helpers.

I saw this great idea for making a little clutch using Tory Burch laser cut leather on the Fabric Store blog.

 

Now this particular material costs about $220 per meter! But the beautiful thing is that you only need a teeny tiny length. It cost me $45 for my remnant and I will be able to get two clutches from this, plus have some spare bits left to use as trim on outfits or make a small purse. So for less than $20, Coco has made her teacher a super stylish little clutch that we really hope she will love.

I loved the idea of this project because it was something my daughter could do mostly on her own. She was so excited to get started.

And only needed a little help from me to untangle those leather cords every now and then. It was also lovely for us both to spend some quality time together doing what I love most.

She is so chuffed with her creation and has already snuck a little handmade drawing inside it. But she does assure me that she “still loves me more than Ms W”.

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!