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!

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.