Category Archives: Camilla cami

Silk skirt and cami // attaching a lining with a vent

This, my friends, is why I sew. I made myself a woven skirt (with not a smidgen of stretch), that fits me like a second skin. It never fails to amaze me how wonderful it feels to pull on an item of clothing that is designed specifically to fit your body, and only your body, like a glove.

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I have never been able to find a RTW pencil skirt in any kind of fabric that fits me properly. My hips are a size smaller than my waist, with the volume behind me rather than at the sides, which always made pants and skirts very painful to shop for. However, I’m pretty sure most women out there can feel my pain. Even women with exactly the same measurements can have vastly different shaped bodies, which is why we take so long trying on all the clothes when we go shopping.

The skirt I made is to a very simple design. It’s fully lined with silk habutai, with an invisible zipper and vent in the back, although the print on the fabric makes both of these features difficult to see. The fabric is a gorgeous remnant of silk twill that I picked up from Britex Fabrics in San Fransisco a few months ago. It’s a lighter style of twill, which is possibly not entirely suited to a fitted skirt, but it is what the heart wanted.

The hem is not as sharp as I’d like, even after interfacing it with some lightweight fusible.  I’m hoping another good press will get the hem and vent sitting smoother. I’m also hoping the lining will help the outer fabric withstand the strain of sitting. (Update: since writing this post, the skirt has been out for two outings and all seams are still perfectly intact thanks to the lining.)

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This was my first time lining a skirt with a vent. I entered into the project prepared. I had a reference book on hand and I pulled out my beautifully constructed Herringbone Sydney suit skirt to study (a 2006 version of this one). I literally stared at both for hours. However, my brain could simply not connect the dots. I had a mental block. In the end I knew I just had to start sewing and hope it would become clear as I progressed. I did eventually have that lightbulb moment when everything made sense, but not before I had already cut the lining in the wrong shape. The diagram below shows you how I cut the lining (same as the outer fabric) vs how I should have cut it (in pink).

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The trick in sewing a lining into a vented skirt is in cutting the skirt lining with a gentle curve so that it can join the vent to the CB zipper seam. The lining is NOT cut in the same shape as the skirt pieces. Showing you how I repaired my mistake gives you a good idea of the difference between a straight CB seam in the lining and how the curve needs to go. Thankfully this mistake is only on the inside of my skirt.

PicMonkey Collage

Here’s another tip I learned in the making of this skirt. There’s no need to sew a dart in the lining. It’s easy to get a professional finish by distributing the volume as pleat instead. I moved my pleat slightly to the side of the dart so I wouldn’t have a double layer of bulk (albeit very thin with silk) in the same spot.

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And there we have it, my first perfectly fitted woven skirt. I made a Camilla Camisole to go with it in some lovely silk CDC from Tessuti Fabrics. The bias cut looks great in this fabric because of the striped pattern.

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Shop the Look

Nina Ricci // J Crew // BCBG Max Azaria

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Turning my Esthers into pants

It’s no great surprise to anyone that I love my Esthers. I have four pairs that I pretty much rotate through the days of the week (here, here, here, and here). I love their high waisted, vintage style, and I love that they fit me superbly. It’s such a boon to find, make, or modify a pattern that fits so well. So it makes perfect sense that I would want to turn them into a pair of pants.

I’ve been wanting a slim fitting, cigarette style pant for a while now, but I just didn’t have a pattern to match what I wanted. I dread sewing pants, not for the process, but for the inevitable fit issues that need to be muddled through, as with any new pants pattern. And I don’t have a lot of experience dealing with fitting pants. I started by looking online for suitable patterns, and then it occurred to me that I already had a TNT shorts pattern that I might be able to modify.

 
 
 


It’s not that difficult turning a pair of shorts into long pants. I basically just lengthened all the side seams. The trick is in slimming them down and reducing the hip and thigh ease by enough. I was pretty happy with my first muslin, but the pants were still a lot looser than what I wanted for such a bright floral and the cigarette style I was after. So I narrowed the legs further to get what you see here. I could have slimmed them down more, but I was worried about going too tight. I don’t know about you, by I hate too-tight pants more than anything else when it comes to clothes.

And as it turned out, I already had a perfectly matching top in my wardrobe. I’ve paired my new flower pants with my trusty, much loved, and totally indestructible Camilla camisole.


Buttercup Esther shorts, Camilla camisole, and neoprene Tokyo jacket

It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me, that I am a huge fan of Tessuti Fabrics. It was this shop that got me hooked on beautiful fabrics in the first place. In 2012, I’d been sewing for about 18 months (just bibs, bags, and baby clothes, all in quilting weight cotton) when I spotted an advertisement for the annual Tessuti Awards. I’m still not sure what made me think I could do it, but making the decision to enter was a turning point in my sewing and in my belief in the fact that I could take my abilities (limited as they were) anywhere I wanted. The dress I made that year was ok. It looked pretty decent from afar but the construction was a disgrace, especially on the inside. It was the first time that I’d made ‘adult’ clothes in ‘adult’ fabrics (read silk!) and yet, I jumped head first into drafting a dress from scratch. But needless to say, from that moment on I was gone, hook line and sinker.


But fabrics aside, Tessuti patterns are something different entirely. I don’t buy a lot of patterns because usually I have an idea of what I want to make and then end up using a simple design that I can modify to suit what I want, or I end up drafting/draping the design myself (in my own muddly self-taught way!).

Tessuti patterns are timeless and beautifully designed. I always learn some clever construction technique when I sew them. And I’m not sure if this is common knowledge, but I believe some of the designs are from a lovely Sydney designer who used to own a few very popular boutiques before retiring.

I’ve sewn Tessuti’s Suzy pants before (pre-blogging days), their Chloe pants, and now, I’ve just discovered the Camilla camisole, Esther shorts, and Tokyo jacket. I’ve been living in the shorts this summer, and have just finished my third pair.

 

I’m not usually a shorts kind of gal, but this season I can’t seem to get enough of them, particularly the high waisted variety, including culottes and skorts. These Esther shorts were made using a size 10 waist but I graded them down to an 8 in the hips. I ended up nipping the front and back crotch seams in a little to narrow the waist a bit more (a little end point adjustment). The fit on these Esthers isn’t perfect but mostly because I should have just sewn a straight size 8. I actually made this pair first before my print version (a very wearable muslin if you must). Having sewn a couple of Tessuti patterns before, I’m pretty confident with the way their designs fit me around the waist and bum. I’ve since sewn another two pairs of perfectly fitting size 8’s without any modifications. The second pair is blogged here.

 

I made one other simple modification to these shorts. I added a front overlay for a more abstract, skortish look and I shortened the hem by a few inches. The gorgeous buttercup yellow, cotton sateen is from MOOD fabrics. I’m totally obsessed with yellow right now!

 

This is the perfect example of me buying a length of fabric for my girls and then using it for myself. Believe it of not, this watermelon splash of delish from Tessuti Fabrics is actually pure polyester. But it is seriously the most deceptive, drapey, charmeuse-like polyester I have ever encountered. It wasn’t the fabric I was going to use for my Camilla. I actually had the little silk satin beauty below in mind, but I wasn’t even going to risk breathing on it until I’d done a muslin first.


I cut a straight size 10 in this pattern and only added 2cm to the length. It is all cut on the bias so the pieces look very wide as you cut them, but then they lengthen as they hang out. I always worry about simple pieces like this because the design really has to be spot on or they can look terrible, particularly when you opt to make it on the bias, with no other frills or distracting patterns to hide behind.

I was very impressed with the cut of this top. It fits beautifully and feels lovely to wear. I will be making this one again.

 

I’d been thinking about this jacket for a while now, and was going to sew it irrespective of Indie Month. I love the relaxed look of it in drapey fabrics and yet, I’m also quite enamoured with the way it looks in more structured materials. Two versions of this particular jacket that really stood out for me were Sallie’s in her hand painted silk, and Kirsty’s version, in the fabric of the year.

I know there are a few other kimono style jackets out there right now, but with kimono sleeves being so simple to draft yourself, I look for something a bit special if I’m going to purchase such a pattern. The stand out points of this jacket are the clever construction of it with those pockets, sleeve cuffs and collar. No hand stitching, but a wee bit of stitching in the ditch, and this jacket is as pretty on the inside as it is on the outside.

My first plan was to sew this jacket in some lovely ivory wool suiting from MOOD, and trim it with my silk satin beauty. But somewhere along the line, I was seduced by this amazing sport lux neoprene from Tessuti. Oonaballoona may have played a part in my neoprene switch. I think her BHL blazer is the goods! In any case, at this point, I also decided to throw all my sensibilities out the window and use faux leather as the contrast.

I cut the jacket in a size M, but graded the bottom hem down to an S. I also eliminated the slight curve of the back seam to cut on the fold instead, and added a 1cm wedge to adjust for my broad back. I was after a straighter (more cocoon) look. The rest of the jacket was sewn as per the instructions. I did find the sewing a little difficult at times because of the bulkiness of the materials I was sewing with. The pattern recommends a lightweight fabric like crepe de chine!

I do NOT like sewing with faux leather. It grips and warps as you sew (even with a walking foot) and pin marks (or mistake stitches) show up forever! On the plus side though, it doesn’t fray at all, so to reduce bulk, I just trimmed the inside collar seam instead of folding it over. And I just stitched the cuffs straight on, rather than constructing them to fold over.

 Geez woman, have you heard of an iron?!!! Try to ignore the back crease!

 
 
 

Vogue 8909: Ralph Lauren fancy pant trackie dacks

So I purchased this lovely Ralph Lauren wool suiting from MOOD, stuck it in the machine for a pre-wash and eeek….it lost it’s pristine, smooth finish. I was devastated! I ironed it and ironed it, and it improved quite a bit, but not to the extent that I would like. What on earth was I thinking?!

Luckily, the fabric wasn’t completely ruined, and I’m that hopeful it might still come up better after a dryclean. I did notice as I was sewing it, that with hotter pressing it improved more, but I’m always so scared of scorching fabrics (given my history!), particularly this white wool, that has a tiny bit of elastane in it.

Because of the slight stretch this wool has, I though it would be perfect for a pair of fancy pant trackie dacks. I might have stolen a little inspiration ok shamelessly copied them from Nikki of Beaute jádore. I used Vogue 8909, the same pattern I used for my leather jogging pants last year. I was originally going to make a Tokyo jacket with this wool, but I switched to neoprene for the Tokyo jacket instead. I haven’t blogged about the Tokyo jacket yet but there are some photos on my Instagram. Likewise, I must point out that I am NOT blogging about the Camilla cami you see in the photo. Well, not in this post anyway. I’ve specifically made it for an outfit I’ve planned for week 4 of Indie Month so I will be holding off to blog about it then.

 
 

V8909 is a tried and true pattern for me now. I like the fit. They are comfortable pants. The only thing I need to adjust is the length. These jogging pants are designed to be slightly cropped, which makes them more like pedal pushers on me. I’m not exactly sure how much I lengthened these by in total since I altered an already altered (leather pants) pattern, but I suspect I may have added about 4.5″ to the longer version. I also partially lined them in china silk.


Unfortunately, the wool is a little less opaque than I thought, and I can see the outline of the lining underneath them. I should have made my lining longer, but I think I can get over this.

 
 
So once again, I’ve opted for an out-of-season make. But I do think these pants are pretty versatile, especially if we have any more cool Spring days. Does anyone else suffer from such an affliction, perhaps making strapless frocks in the dead of Winter or sewing coats in a heatwave?