Monday, 1 January 2018

Favourite Things Top: Ruffle Sleeve Noelle

There were several more makes for 2017 that I'll (maybe) blog another time. This is my very last make of 2017. Finished just in time to wear for a relaxing New Years Eve with Tim. Featuring spots, ruffles and navy fabric, this is definitely my "Favourite Things" top!


My sister and I saw some fabulous linen tops and dresses with ruffle sleeves being sold at a local market recently. We fell in love, but, as all too common for us, didn't make the purchase and later regretted it. I searched for the designer online and at the same market a month later but haven't come across the tops/dresses again. This top is inspired by the one that got away. 

I started with the Ulooop Noelle Top pattern (sewn previously: V1, V2). The Noelle pattern is an incredibly simple (but effective) design: boxy top, dropped sleeves, no closures, bias bound neckline. My first version was very cropped (with nearly no allowance for then hem) and roomy in the front bodice. For this version I made the following mods: 
- Added 1.5" to length and removed curved front and back hem. 
- Removed 1.25" width from the centre front of front bodice piece. There is still plenty of room to get the top on and off without an added closure. But, the neckline sits more comfortably now and I'm less swamped by the fabric. 
- Used a wide 1.5" hem and included 2" slits at either side seam. 
- Cut 5" (including seam allowance) wide ruffles, twice the length of the sleeve opening. Overlocked and hemmed outer and side edges and attached the ruffle to the sleeve opening.

The fabric is a gorgeous Japanese linen blend (?) from The Cloth Shop. Its a dark navy with lighter shades throughout and an off-white polka dot pattern. This fabric is what my dreams are made of!

I've really happy with how the top turned out, and I feel great in it!  I'd like to make one or two more in block coloured linen fabrics. But, I find it difficult to look past beautiful blues. My motto is, of course, all the things in blue! This makes it difficult to pair tops and bottoms together without looking too matchy matchy. Not to mention, also heavily matching with Tim's navy dominated wardrobe.  Perhaps I'll start slowly with a few white and black items in 2018. 

Tessuti: Spotty Alice Top

The Tessuti Alice Top pattern is one on my most sewn and worn items.  I previously sewn two for myself (V1, V2), and the first version I made in 2014 is still on high wardrobe rotation! I've also sewn two for some special women in my life (V3, V4). I know I'll continue to sew and wear this pattern for years to come!

This Alice is made from a transparent white and black polka dot cheese cloth fabric recycled from summer maxi dress a friend gave me.  It's wonderful when friends and family see potential in an old piece of clothing and generously donate the fabric to me.

I lined the upper bodice in off-white cotton I had on hand. I added an extra  few inches of width to the lower bodice front and back in the hopes that the extra fabric would reduce its transparency. No luck, so I typically wear the top over a cami.  I like the look of my Alice tops tucked loosely into my jeans or shorts. The fabric stays lovely and flowy (so I can eat all the things!), but I find the cinched in look a bit less overwhelming. 

I've been reaching for this top a lot this summer! Note, when berry picking the Alice top does not provide adequate coverage to avoid sunburn or thorns.

Tessuti Lois Dress: Very Wearable Muslin

Tessuti released some great patterns in 2017! I was most facinated by the Lois Dress. Lois has a low cut front, is midi length and skims over the stomach and hips. All beautiful features, but ones I would normally avoid for myself. This is a dress I would walk straight past when shopping thinking it wouldn't suit my shape. It turns out I'm more adventourous when sewing my clothes compared to buying, and I'm really glad about that! 

For my first attempt I used a cotton fabric, white with black squares, from my stash. I cut a size 10 with size 8 shoulders. I followed the intructions with some very minor deviations: I stay-stiched rather than using tear away vilene around the neckline and waist, and I cut and sewed the darts in one piece (as ususal) rather than as the pattern / instructions detail. I dont think either vilene or the alternative darts are nessecary.  

The dress comes together reasonably quickly and the instructions a great! Lots of detailed photos to take you through each step. The most fiddlly aspect was joing the top to the bodice at the centre front. It's tricky (but doable) to get a nice point at the neckline, and worth taking the time to get it right. I love the 3-step process for attaching the bias binding, which creates a really firm and neat neckline. I was worried about the low-cut neckline, but the plunge stops just above my bra bridge. Perfect!

As usual for Tessuti patterns, the number of pages to be printed is execcesive!  The pattern could definitely be repositioned to spread across fewer pages. It would also be useful if a legend was included stating which pages need to be printed for what pattern pieces. This way I could have avoided printing pages for the vilene shields and the bias binidng piece - niether of which are nessecary, IMO. This would also be useful if you need to reprint a pattern piece gone missing, or go up a size only in the bodice pieces, for example. 

Overall, I really like this pattern and am pleasantly suprised at just how flattering it is on me, and on women of varying shapes and sizes across the sewing blogger community. This dress was intended to be a muslin, but I've already worn it a heap! I've also sewn another version in a darker viscose. Looking forward to seeing what patterns Tessuti release in 2018.

Megan Nielsen Wool Flint Pants

Happy New Year! I hope you have had the chance to take a break over the festive season and make plans for a wonderful year ahead. I didnt blog much throughout 2017, but I actually sewed quite a bit. So, I thought I'd take the chance to post a few makes before getting into my 2018 sewing.  


First up, my navy wool Megain Nielsen Flint pants. I actually made these before my linen version but found it difficult to get good photos. Given it's now summer, I'm going with my early morning, pre-work photos, bad lighting and all. The overexposed images really pick up every crease and pull line and they don't look particluarly flattering. But, I actually love these pants and feel great in them; bad phtotos be damned! 

Fabric is a midweight boiled wool from The Cloth Shop. Construction: Similiar to my other versions (1, 2), with following modifications: flat front, wide hem facing, double button closure. Given these are winter pants I intened them to be a little longer than the cropped length, but I forgot to add length before cutting the fabric. An obvious fix was to add a wide hem facing, and I really like the added weight and swing of the hem. 

Looking forward to wearing these again next winter. In the mean time, I might need another linen pair.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Party Gabby Dress

Hello again so soon! It was my little sister's 21st birthday this week and I wanted a new party dress for the occasion. A quick and easy silk Tessuti Gabby Dress did the trick!

I initially cut a straight size small (short length) out of some lovely patterned crepe silk bought from a fabric sale at Phillips Shirts. Pre-hemming I tried on the dress and found it a little too short. I rummaged through my fabric stash for some inspiration on how to add length. I wasn't convinced by a straight contrast hem panel (View A) - a ruffle is much more party-like! 

The ruffle is made from a spotty black textured silk from The Cloth Shop. I was saving it for a summer blouse - hopefully, I still have enough for that project. The gathered ruffle is 2.5" after attaching and hemming. During sewing I worried the ruffle might look like an afterthought and a bit too 'crafty',  but I think it actually makes the dress. 

I've made the Gabby twice before (12). I've worn my rayon floral version to death and quite a few times since holes started appearing at the seams. I'm glad to have a new version I know will get heaps of wear winter through summer.  The shape may not be the most flattering on me, but it's so comfortable! And, I think the Gabby looks great cinched in with a belt too.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Megan Nielsen Flint Cropped Linen Pants

Hi there, long time no blog. This very intermittent blogging is beginning to become a pattern! I've sewn a few bits and pieces this winter. I'm definitely not sewing at the rate I was in 2014. These days, I tend to sew less, sew more slowly and only spend my time on garments that are going to be well loved and worn. This approach is more sustainable financially and environmentally, but also emotionally.

In May I blogged about my Megan Nielsen Flint shorts, which I loved! I've since made two pairs of Flint pants. The first is a beautiful heavy weight blue boiled wool. I haven't been able to get photos of these yet. I find it difficult to match up sunlight hours, good weather, and motivation for outdoor photos during winter. The second pair I made is a lovely navy linen cropped summer pant.

I'm more of a shorts and skirts girl in summer, but our travels to South East Asia have meant having a couple of pairs of light weight pants in the wardrobe for more conservative tourism. I have some easy-wear harem pants for this purpose. I really hate them and I'm thrilled to have replaced them with my new linen flint pants! I made these the weekend before heading off on a holiday to Malaysia with Tim. These photos are taken from our hotel balcony in Langkawi.

The fabric is a medium weight linen from The Cloth Shop. I made these pants in exactly the same way as my modified flat front Flint Shorts with two changes. 1) I used the button closure option instead of the bow. I like the look of two small buttons in line on the edge of the closure. This also feels more secure and the fabric lays flatter at the corner.  2) I like the longer cropped length but also wanted a deep heavy hem. So,  I added a 2" hem facing instead of hemming as instructed. 

These pants worked well for a day of touristing as well as for fancier dinners out. They were very cool and comfy to wear in the heat. I hope that they will be a good summer work wardrobe option as well.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Megan Nielsen Flint Shorts

I fell quickly in love with the shorts version of the most recent Megan Nielsen Pattern, "Flint".  The high waist with side tie closure were perfect! But I had my doubts about the open front pleats. I was worried that the pleats would always want to sit open, with my large-ish thighs, and perhaps be unflattering. Thankfully, Meg put together an easy to follow tutorial on removing the pleats to create a flat front. Arent we spoilt!

I made Version 4 in a straight size medium. This fabric is a lovely light cotton denim bought from The Cloth Shop. I've used it previously for a Ilsley skirt and Miette skirt. It's a super versatile fabric and very lightweight and comfortable for summer. It's Autumn here and much too chilly for shorts, but I actually really like them over tights. Bare leg modeling will have to wait for an upcoming trip to Malaysia. 

I followed the instruction booklet exactly with the exception of the front flat and reducing the hem by 1/2". I also back tacked at the bottom and top edges of the pocket opening to strengthen and take some load of the main seams. The instruction diagrams and steps were clear. Really, sewing this pattern is a cinch and so quick. Very surprising for a shorts/pants pattern.

I'm reasonably happy with the fit. There a couple of minor issues. The internal waist button is not in the right spot (you can see the pulling), but thats an easy fix. There is a small amount of excess fabric at the back waistline that could be pinched out and then added to the crotch. There are also a couple of pull lines around the front waist/pockets but this is really an issue of excess winter layers (and winter weight).

I now really want to try out the pants, perhaps in a heavy linen or lightweight wool. There are some beautiful versions in the blogosphere. I especially these "magic pants" by Helen (FunkBunny).

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Peppermint Patterns Peplum Tops

In 2014 I set myself a goal to review 12 free patterns over the year. I still have a penchant for sewing on the cheap by using free patterns, refashioning and using scrap fabrics. There are some excellent free patterns available online. In particular, I love the selection on Peppermint Mag, including the Peplum Top Pattern

I've sewn two of these tops. The pattern is easy to follow with no darts of closures. Smoothing the bias binding flat is a little tricky. Especially at the back v neckline. 

This is a  great pattern to use up fabric remnants. The peplum flounce uses quite a bit of fabric, but I found that I didn't need it to be as full as the patterns asks for. The flounce on the black version is about 1/3 short. The floral version is a cotton silk remnant I had left over from this dress. The black spotty silk version i refashioned from this skirt. I found the skirt frumpy. The fabric was too good to be wasted on something I rarely wore.

I love the boxy cropped style of the top and the deep V back neckline. The top is incredibly comfy and goes well with my high waisted skirts and jeans. It's tricky to see, but in the photo below I'm wearing the top over a long-sleeved tee. Yay, for versatile clothes! This is a fantastic free offering and I absolutely recommend it.

I don't have many photos wearing these tops- strange, given I wear them all the time! These two photos are from this weekend. Tim and I stayed in the city to celebrate our wedding anniversary. 

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Sparkly 2015 Frocktails Dress

In August 2015 I attended the famed Melbourne Frocktails event organized by Kat. It was about that time that I fell off the sewing/blogging wagon and I never got around to blogging my dress. So here goes. My frocktails dress was definitely not a priority the months, weeks, or even days leading up to the event. I was, however, very excited about catching up with all the lovely sewers attending.

I considered all of my patterns carefully and sorted through fabrics for inspiration.In the end, I decided to make a quick and nasty Tessuti Gabby dress and hide behind the sparkle! I made a size small, as my medium version is on the big side. I sewed a lining and a sequin outer and joined them at the neckline. The lining is a terrible black poly satin that felt awfully hot to wear, even on a cold winter's night. The outer was a black mini sequin. Both fabrics were from GJ's discount fabrics. I inserted a back slit neckline closure and hemmed the outer fabric with black bias tape.

This dress was very fun to wear on the night. But it is hot and heavy to wear. I haven't worn the dress since. But I'll keep it in the wardrobe - you never know when a black mini sparkly number will be called for.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Tessuti New York Cape

Hello again my blogging friends! It's been almost 12 months since my last blog post. As the old saying goes, "how time flies when you're... finishing a PhD". I've sewn a few bits and pieces in the past year, but I finally feel motivated to blog again. This renewed energy is partly inspired by a good friend Jess who has just launched a fantastic blog spotlighting women who cook, create and curate food for a living. I definitely reccomend a look - especially if you're a local (Melbourne, Aus).

Ok, onto my lovely Tessuti New York cape. I bought this pattern and cut out my fabric close to three years ago. It then sat unsewn until I picked it up earlier this month. I was intrigued but not absolutely in love with my fabric choice - hence the delay. But I'm really happy with how it's turned out.

The pattern instructions were detailed and the pattern surprisingly simple to put together. The only change I made was to cut an 1" from the bottom of the cape. Given the lack of shaping, I felt a slightly shorter cape was best for my height and proportions. The pattern was a pleasure to sew and I'd definitely make another in grey/black shades.

To brighten up the insides I used a navy floral tana lawn bought from Spotlight to bind the seams. External edges were bound with a luscious wool binding from Tessuti. This stuff is pricey but worth it. I don't think any other binding would work as well for this pattern. I machined sewed on the wool binding. Other bloggers (1, 2)have recommended hand sewing. I'm sure this would have prevented the slight tension puckering I'm getting in the front of the cape. But it's not bothering me enough to fix it. Another good steam might resolve the issue.

My cape currently lacks buttons. After traipsing around the city and trying to convince myself that several different buttons look "fine", I've decided to just go without. At least temporarily, until the perfect button finds me! In the meantime, I've tacked the undersleeve together. I'm not sure I'd wear the cape closed very often anyway as it's a fairly lightweight coat.

Thanks for reading. It's great to be back!