Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Good golly, it's Polly

Earlier this month By Hand London released a FREE pattern for a sleeveless tank. The Polly top is a perfect stash-busting tank for beginners, or for those looking for a quick sew. I love anything that is free (!) and Polly does not disappoint!

By Hand London Polly Top times two

 I had the PDF pattern downloaded and taped together quick as lightening. I went looking in my very modest stash for something appropriate. I'd recently bought some Japanese lawn from Spotlight which I had no plans for so all I needed was something for the center piece. I rarely have any solids in my stash, I ended up rummaging through a 'for the op-shop bag' and found an old navy skirt to cut up. 

By Hand London Polly Top

I'm currently a 35-29-39, so I made a size US 8/UK 12 going off the finished measurements to make sure the top would flare out enough to fit my hippity-hips. I couldn't for the life of me get the center piece notches to match up with the front top notches. I gave up, winged it, and it turned out just fine. When I tried the top on I noticed that the arm holes were huge on me. I removed an inch on either arm. I don't know if this was a pattern tracing issue or what. At least it was an easy fix. I also altered the front of my top to be a straight hem as I am very short torso-ed and the long front made look hippier than I prefer.

By Hand London Polly Top

I REALLY tried to get some good photos of  Polly outside.  No such luck. I will keep working on the photography skills. 

Polly is super comfortable. She's already gotten a bit of wear. The only issue with Polly is she is a little big around my shoulders and chest. I made a mental note to make a smaller size next time.  

By Hand London Polly Top

My sister decided she also wanted a Polly and in opposing colours. To be clear,  we are not twins. But occasionally we dress like we are. I made my itty-bitty sister a size US 2 / UK 4. Note that I didn't have any issues with the excessively large arm holes this time, but I still winged the matching up of the center piece and front top. 

By Hand London Polly Top

My sister and I are similar in the shoulders so I thought I would try it on, being careful not to stretch it. It actually fits! It's a perfect fit in the shoulders and chest but much tighter than I would like in the hips. Polly is supposed to be a loose fit but I really like the way this version fitted me. For my next version I will make a size US 4/UK6 and grade way out in the hips. And I will defiantly make Polly again. She is a satisfying and quick make that has a unique look. Thanks By Hand London for looking after us students with this freebie!

Spotty sewing room chair

Finally, let me introduce my gorgeous (and comfy) new Freedom sewing chair! For months I've been complaining to Tim (the bf) about my sore back and stealing our super comfy computer chair when we's not looking. Can you believe I found such a good looking chair which is also really comfortable? Now its time to update the rest of my sewing space (I'm looking at you sewing table/cabinet!!!). 

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Something old, something new

Over the next month or so I will try catch this blog up on my makes from the last 11 months, as well as keeping up to date with my new makes, sewing plans and thrifting gems!

Button Jumper

Something old...Most of my sewn items are from beginner patterns. For me, easy to make also often means easy to wear. Wrap-around skirts, loose fitting blouses and floaty dresses are fun, comfy,  and weekend friendly. 

Tilly and the Buttons Miette SkirtTilly and the Buttons Miette Skirt

Tilly's wrap-around Miette skirt was the first item of clothing I ever made. I love wrap-around skirts because they are fun to wear, fit me regardless of what my weight is doing at any given time, and are also easily adjustable after a big meal. 

Tilly and the Buttons Miette Skirt

For my first attempt I very carefully and slowly followed Tilly's amazing detailed photo tutorial. Everything came together perfectly! For my first item of clothing to come together that smoothly gave me such a huge confidence boost! I made my skirt in super cheap black drill I got second hand at a local op-shop. I made the no-pockets version. The only change to the skirt I made was to make the waistband facing and tie facing in a bright orange floral quilting cotton.

Tilly and the Buttons Miette Skirt

I LOVE this skirt! I have worn it heaps and think the orange ties really give it something special. Following this successful completion I was soon asked by my sister for an exact replica but with pockets and green polka dot waistband and ties. The skirt came together so quickly the second time and was a big hit with my sister. Obviously, I decided to make myself another version, this time with pockets. I liked Tilly's bright blue denim version but wasn't able to find any locally. I decided to go with bright blue broadcloth. I used a scrap from an old skirt for the waistband facing. I haven't worn this version as much, but coming into summer I can see that it will take a more prominent place in my wardrobe. 

Tilly and the Buttons Miette Skirt

I highly recommend this pattern! It's an easy peesy make with enough steps to keep a beginner interested and feeling like they are learning something new. 

So now to my something new... While I'm still on the hunt for the perfect conference Cambie fabric, I caved and bought that beautiful dress from marcs. I always feel better about spending a lot of money on one item if I can then find a few bargains. Yes, I spend MORE money to justify spending so much money. Does anyone else also use this logic? So, today I went op-shopping with a thirfting champion (also known as my sister). 

Vintage play suit op-shop find

I found some amazing vintage dress up's which I didn't purchase. But seriously the top in that orange play suit had a wonderful cut and I did consider buying it. On a less serious note, it can be tricky finding just the right hat for the spring racing carnival...

vintage hat op-shop find

I ended up walking away from the trip with a black cotton high-waisted skirt ($7), a pink wrap around cardigan ($10), a navy woolen structured work dress ($10) which resembled the Mae blouse in the top and the Elisalex dress in the skirt, AND the below pictured jumper($7).

button jumper op-shop find

I am in-love with this heavenly spring jumper. It's so soft and warm. It would go perfectly over a silk blouse or cami with a high-waisted skirt. I adore the buttons, especially the two bunny rabbits! Of course, it would be easy to replicate. But why replicate when it's already in such a state of perfection and costs just $7?(!)

button jumper

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Sewing for science: planning a conference cambie

Each year I attend a few of conferences (although this is likely to become fewer as my funding runs out, eek). If I am presenting at the conference then I love to purchase a special 'conference dress/outfit'. Who am I kidding, I like to buy something new regardless!

A conference dress, for me, is usually vibeing something between feminine, fun, conservative and 'this means business'. The sought of dress that can go from work to drinks reception in a moments notice. For example I wore this Karen Walker wrap-around cherry dress to a conference last year.

In my conference dress

Sewing bloggers often post about making clothes for work, and there are quite a few sewing/blogging/academics out there. There are also lots of "what to wear" posts in academic focused blogs. For example the thesis whisperer has a two part post about conference outfits and finding the perfect 'meet the people skirt' and 'keynote presentation dress' (part 1, part 2). It's probably out there, but I am yet to locate a 'sewing for a conference' or 'creating the perfect conference dress' post.

In December I have a week long conference symposium combo. I will be presenting on one day and a few other days will involve dinners, drinks receptions and other excuses to wear a dress. There will also be a number of Christmas parties to attend around the same time. I would love to buy a new dress. I've had my eye on this little number from marcs. (UPDATE: Bought the dress, it's as amazing to wear as it looks!)

beautiful marcs dress

But perhaps this is the perfect opportunity to whip out my Sewaholic Cambie pattern, which I haven't made up yet (I think I'm the only one!). This is one hell of a versatile dress. I've seen bridesmaid dresses, wedding dresses, works dresses, day dresses. So, why not a conference dress? I think Four Square Walls version is pretty close to how I envisage a conference Cambie.

Sewaholic cambie pattern

I've been holding onto some beautiful grey/blue wool for a winter version, but that wouldn't suit a December day in Australia. So the hunt is now on to find the perfect 'conference fabric' which is fun, feminine and 'this means business' all in one. Let's see how I get on. The Marcs dress can always be a backup, or something for one of the other six conference days!

If anyone has blogged about sewing for a conference, or an any sought of important presentation,  I would love to read it. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


I was clearly a little slow on the uptake of Bloglovin'. Thanks to Renee at nearest the pin for educating me in the ways of blogs/blogging!

I'm sure there must be a way to add my blog to Bloglovin' without posting the following. But as I am a total noob and simply following instructions here goes.

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

So, I should now be available to follow via Bloglovin'. I'm looking forward to trying it out myself.
I wonder what I will learn about blogging tomorrow?

Monday, 14 October 2013

A post of firsts!

Unsurprisingly, as a novice sewer, I am regularly ticking 'firsts' off the list. Joining Instagram and starting this blog were huge firsts for me! I'm normally not much of a 'joiner', more of a watcher (sounding a little creepy....). I suppose over the next few months (assuming I stick with this blogging thing) I will be documenting many sewing-related firsts! 

Today's firsts include entering my first ever blog giveaway! Again, I note the unusual joining-like behaviour I am exhibiting. Quarter life crisis perhaps? Anyhow, Abbey at SewCharleston  is hosting a giveaway for a beautiful fabric bundle from the Art Gallery's Minimalista collection. Abbey made a Washi / Laurel dress hybrid which is divine. The entry also required commenting on SewChaleston's blog. So, this is not only my first giveaway entry, but also my first blog comment. I've been following so many sewing blogs religiously over the past year but I've never commented! From today I will try to regularly comment on blogs and interact with the online community. 

My third first is the completion of my first Sewaholic Alma blouse. And I'm in love! I made version A in a pink and light blue/purple tiny floral cotton print I picked up at a thread den North Melbourne market last month.  Now for some terrible quality pictures: 

Sewaholic's Alma Blouse

Sewaholic's Alma Blouse

I made size 10 and its too big. I cut the fabric a month ago and have since lost a little weight. I wore the top today for work tucked into a high-wasted skirt. Tucking the top in helps make it look a little more fitted. 

Sewaholic's Alma Blouse

It took me a while to get my head around this make as it includes more darts than I've sewn in a top before (another first). But it was so much easier than I expected! It ended up being a really fun quick sew. I especially love that the pattern includes instructions on how to enclose the sleeve seams. 

The only change I made to the pattern was to omit the zipper. I basted the side seams together to check first and actually ended up taking in the side seems a further quarter inch. I can easily get it over my head. I noticed that my neckline triangle cut out is a little smaller than some others I've seen in the blogosphere. Not sure why that might be. I might cut it a little deeper next time. 

Sewaholic's Alma Blouse

Next time I will also cut a size 8 - and there will definitely be a next time, perhaps many next times. I cannot wait to find another pretty print to make this up in. I would love to make up version B with the peter pan collar. Check out this gorgeous version b creation, and this one, and this one.

That's all for today's firsts! But I know there will be more to come tomorrow. Until then....

Sunday, 13 October 2013

You have to start somewhere

So here I am, officially trying to connect with the AMAZING online sewing community!

I've been resistant to start a blog. My photography skills suck and my writing is ordinary at best. But, and it's a big but, all the wonderful sewing blogs on the interwebs have really supported and helped me in my sewing endeavors over the last 11 months!

I've never been much of a hobby's sort of person (other than the obvious: shopping, movies, eating). After my not-so-subtle hints, my bf  bought me a Janome sewing machine for my birthday last year. It took a while before I was confident enough to make anything. My first project was easy-peasy Christmas bunting - I can't wait to bring it out again in a few months!

Before I made anything, I was absorbed in blogs, books, patterns etc. I'm a 'learn/plan first, do later' kind of girl. I have now sewn quite a few items, but my systematic checking and reading of my most beloved sewing blogs still occurs most evenings.

To dip my toes in the water, I joined Instagram . My first gram (?) was this work in progress By Hand London Polly Top. I was immediately made to feel very welcome by Elisalex (co-founder). This was so encouraging!

By Hand London Polly Top

While I am already obsessed with Instagram, I also want a place a share my sewing experiences. And so, it's time for me to try and contribute something to this amazing online sewing community.

At the very least, this blog is a place for me to document my sewing challenges and triumphs.  If my post's get read and any readers are able to help me out with my sewing questions and problems along the way than that is a bonus. If I am able to help others with their sewing, than that's even better! Wish me luck on  my sewing/blogging journey.

Also, I promise to work on improving my photography and writing.

I would love to hear from you, so please fee free to leave a comment.

Liz X