Back to (polka dot) basics

First of all, thank you all so much for your wonderful feedback on my Kielo dress! Already it is in high rotation and I may even wear it to a wedding this weekend!!

Every now and then it is nice to make a few “no brainer” pieces, items where you don’t have to worry about fit, so you can just sit and sew and enjoy the process. Don’t get me wrong, I love trying out new patterns and making them work, but sometimes it is nice to take the easy road. Enter the Hollyburn skirt.  This great little skirt is straightforward, few seams and you only need to fit the waistband. I have made this a couple of times before, here and a couple un-blogged.

Hollyburn & Wiksten

I originally intended to take this overseas with me as I figured the black polka dot pattern would make it a good neutral, I know it is polka dots, but they really do go with everything! My plan was not to be, I inserted my invisible zipper, tested it and it promptly broke.  Not happy. Not having a spare, I threw the skirt aside in disgust to fix when I got back.

I have a bit of a bad history with invisible zips having had several break, I have now decided that from now on I will only buy the Vizzy “lifetime guarantee” ones. I am not sure whose lifetime – mine? the skirt? the trend? Either way, the fact it says lifetime guarantee at least says to me that they have tried to make something unbreakable. Whilst it means making a special trip to a different store from usual, I think it might save some headaches in the future.
Hollyburn & Wiksten
Now a Hollyburn skirt by itself might be a boring post, but how about if I spice it up with a fun Wiksten Tank?  This fabric is another amazing piece from my Alannah Hill hoard collection of 2013. I believe it is a silk blend and it feels delicious, (although creases like a bitch!).  It was challenging to cut out, what I thought were regularly spaced large polka dots are not, so making sure they didn’t end up where they shouldn’t was tricky to say the least.  I cut the front in single layer to avoid any weird pattern placement.

The tank was made with the same adjustments as previously, but this time due to the super drapeyness of the fabric I had to take the shoulders up a further ½” in order to reduce the size of the armholes also ensuring my darts end in the correct spot.  All the seams are frenched and the bias around the neck and arms I have turned to the outside and topstitched.

Hollyburn & Wiksten

For the neckline I decided it needed something to make it more interesting, I know the fabric is fab, but it just looked like something was missing, so in true Alannah Hill style, I decided to embellish it with a little trim.  This is some ribbon from my stash that I pleated and then stitched on.  To make your own, just pinch the ribbon with pleats every 1.5cm and sew down the centre (let me know if you’d like a tute or more photos of this process)

Excellent cat hair collecting fabric

To be honest, I am not 100% sure this is my best most flattering look, I think I suit dresses better than separates as I think the single colour/pattern is better for my shape. I feel like the separates cut me in half and make me look a bit shorter and wider. Of course if I wear the skirt with a black or dark more coordinating top this changes the look completely and I feel less cut up.  The top is great with dark capri pants. So all is not lost, I am just not sure this particular combination is a winning one.

Hollyburn & Wiksten

PS – the matching nails are just a coincidence!!

Details:
Pattern – Hollyburn Skirt by Sewaholic Patterns
Fabric – 1.5m light cotton drill from Spotlight
Notions – thread & one zipper from my stash, and one new one

Pattern – Wiksten Tank
Fabric – 1m silk blend from Alannah Hill (from stash)
Notions – thread & ribbon from my stash

Plantain Love

This post was supposed to go up on Friday for Valentines Day, but sometimes things get in the way. This time technology was the problem. I completely lost all internet at home, in fact my whole street has been out for 5 days! I normally work from home 3 days a week and Friday is one of them. With the internet being out I couldn’t work on Friday, but couldn’t go to the office as I had to wait at home for a technician – frustrating! I was going to spend the day sewing but I also had some home stuff to get out of the way and ended up completely re-painting my kitchen so at least that left more of my weekend free.  Sometimes you just have to find that silver lining.

Anyway, onto the sewing.  I am sure all you sewing peeps are aware of the free Plantain Tee pattern downloadable from Deer & Doe. I had heard it described on Twitter as “life changing”, so of course had to see if this was true.

Plantain tee love

I am not sure I would go so far as to call it “life changing”, but it is pretty damn cool.  The fit is great and it makes up super fast. If you have an overlocker it can be done in about 30 minutes start to finish.

Plantain tee love
I really like the neckline – it is the perfect shape to be universally flattering

I started by making a plain pale pink short sleeve one. The observant amongst you will have you noticed this isn’t it. This is in fact my third Plantain and I think, the prettiest one.

I made no alterations to the pattern, cutting a size 38 in the shoulders, grading out to a 42 bust and 44 in the hips based on my measurements.

Plantain tee love
I had a lot of this grey Wool Jersey, I only asked for a metre, but when the lady at the store pulled it from the roll she noticed an almost invisible flaw about a metre in and started measuring from there – this meant I ended up with 2 metres for $5 – gee I love a bargain! The fabric is also 150cm wide so a little goes a long way. I ended up getting two long sleeve tees out of this.

In my world, one cannot have two completely identical garments, so I needed to differentiate them somehow. This is how my coverstitch was introduced to Plantain and a match in heaven was made.  Since buying the machine I have been wanting to play with the decorative stitch. Using pink thread I top-stitched the sleeves, neck and the cute elbow patches.
Plantain tee love
The elbow patches are just modified into the shape of a heart that I did freeform with my scissors eyeballing the shape. Bizarrely over the weekend I saw Anna do the exact same thing on the Deer & Doe blog and she even helpfully made a tutorial, which is a lot more technical than my dodgy method. Great minds think alike huh?

Plantain tee love

I have a couple more planned that I hope to make this weekend – it is a fabulous wardrobe staple. I highly recommend this pattern and did I mention it is free??

Plantain tee love

Details:
Pattern – Plantain Tee by Deer & Doe
Fabric – 1m pink cotton rayon knit from fabric.com, 2m of Wool Jersey from Alannah Hill, Melbourne
Notions – thread from my stash

Stash update:
New total = 154.5m
(I also made an unblogged Hollyburn skirt)

Shorts!

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:
This post is picture heavy, it contains pictures that may be disturbing to others (of my butt) you have been warned!

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Something you won’t have seen from me before…shorts!  Plus another Wiksten Tank.

Please excuse the wrinkles – it was such a humid day, which really makes it worse. These pictures were taken right before a tropical storm.

There are some great shorts patterns out there; Sweet shorts from Pattern Runway or the Grainline Maritime ones, but they are not for me, I don’t like short shorts on me, I just don’t have the legs for them.  However I do have a favourite RTW pair that I have had for at least 4 years, but tragically recently I wore them to death.  Not able to let go, I hung on to them with the idea I would take a pattern from them. Originally I was going to unpick them, but the seams were predominantly double top-stitched and overlocked.  Scissors were the much faster option.  I carefully cut one half of the shorts apart leaving the other half intact so I could refer to it for construction.

Original shorts

I ironed and then carefully traced around the pieces adding seam allowances. From there it was just cut out my fabric and sew them together. With the other half of the shorts still intact this was reasonably straightforward especially if you have made pants before.

LizShorts-1
Faux coin pocket

The shorts have loads of interesting detail, a divided front section, front yoke, back darts, patch pockets, fake coin pocket and lots and LOTS of top stitching. Those of you who follow me on Instagram would have seen my excitement as they started coming together. Man, that top stitching took forever.

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All the top stitching was done using my normal machine, my normal foot and a steady eye to make sure it was lined up. I couldn’t use my coverstitch machine as I had lots of sharp corners to negotiate.

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I can see there is some extra fabric under my butt in the above picture, but as the fabric has no stretch, I need this so I can sit down.

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Excuse the wrinkles, I had been wearing them all day!
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Proper fly insertion – even a fly backing!

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In my excitement I nearly forgot to mention my Wiksten tank. Made from a floaty (but creasy) rayon. The only change to this pattern was to do an FBA, or in reality add a bust dart which was rotated out of the armscye. I cut the small in the shoulders, grading out to a large in the hips and shortened it by an inch.

LizShorts-6

Can you tell I am super happy with how these turned out? The fit and length is just what I wanted, I love the detailing and I don’t have to mourn my old pair any longer!

Happy dance!

wiggle

Details:
Shorts:
Pattern – my own
Fabric – 2m of cotton duck from Spotlight
Notions – Lining, zipper & thread from my stash

Top:
Pattern – Wiksten Tank
Fabric – 1.2m of rayon from Spotlight
Notions – thread from my stash

Stash update:
169.5m – 2m-1.2m = 166.3m

PS – Reana took the photos, isn’t she amazing?!

Scout tee – when one is not enough!

This is Reana’s fault, she made me do it!!  Well her and Amanda of Bimble & Pimble. First Amanda very kindly sent me the pattern and then Reana went and made up three of these lovely tops, so of course I had to give it a go too.

I was extremely sceptical, I mean, how is a woven, baggy top without any darts going to look any good on a somewhat boobilicious less than waif-like body?  Well, I tells ya, it does, I just love it…so much I made three! Well I couldn’t have Reana beating me or anything, life is a competition right?? 😉

I don’t have too much to say about the construction, it’s pretty straight forward, there are only 4 pattern pieces; front, back, and two sleeves. Plus there is a bias piece you can either cut from your fabric, or of course you could substitute with your own purchased bias.

The first version I made with a lovely soft cotton voile – I bought about 5m of this so I wasn’t too worried if it didn’t work out.

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I got to use my new coverstitch to finish the hems, which has really given it a professional look. The best thing I really like about the twin-needling is that it doesn’t pull like it used to when done on my normal machine.

After this Scout was finished, I was hooked. Not only did it look good and was comfortable, it only took 1m of fabric and about an hour to make! Brilliant for a quick satisfying make and I think we all like those from time to time.

Next I decided to make one in a poly georgette that I have been hoarding saving for the right project. Pretty sure this had been in my stash for at least two years!

2013

The sleeve and hem were finished using my rolled hem foot, and the neck (due to the curves being tricky) were finished using the manual method of rolling the hem.

Finally, for my third version, I used my new obsession, metallic finished fabrics. This is a foil voile! (hehe I like the rhyming).

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Sorry, it is really hard to capture the foil finish of this fabric, but I can assure you in real life it is lovely. Essentially the right side of the fabric is printed with an opaque gold/silver finish – fun!  Again, I finished the hems and neckline with the coverstitch machine.

The pattern recommends 1 7/8yds of fabric, but I only used 1m for each of these tops. I cut the back and front side by side and then the sleeves laid out beneath. The bias piece I folded in half and then cut from the double layer of fabric. This uses much less fabric, you just need to remember to add the seam allowance for joining the pieces.

It’s not often that I fall in love with a pattern and make it back to back and then again! If you haven’t tried this pattern, give it a go, it is nothing short of sheer brilliance!!  Thanks Amanda and Reana for your enabling!!

Details:
Pattern – Scout Tee by Grainline Studio
Fabric – 1m of voile/georgette/voile
Notions –  thread

Floaty Flower Power Banksia

I think this is my fifth Banksia top!!  Previous versions here, herehere and here. So sorry for another of the same pattern, but on the plus side you all get to see how easy it is to change this pattern up for different looks!

Floral Floaty Banksia

Can you just tell I love this pattern?  It is such a great basic for making those wardrobe staples that we all need.  Just to let you in on a bit of a secret, I have about three more currently planned so look out for those in the coming weeks.

This time I had an inspiration to draw from, this lovely top from Ruche. If you haven’t seen their site, go check it out, they have some gorgeous stuff, but I think the postage to Australia would be a killer, besides I can copy/mimic right??

Inspiration

So as I said, I used the Megan Nielsen Banksia pattern as my base and made the following alterations:
– placed five pintucks around the neckline.  I didn’t compensate by adding any extra width to the neckline as I find the top to be roomy in that area on me anyway and I normally pinch some of this out of the pattern
– sewed mini ric rack over the pintucks and around the collar
– omitted the placket (obviously)
– raised the shoulders by ½”
– reduced width of collar (I have always found this collar to be too large and flappy)
– I didn’t need to alter the collar length to make it meet in the middle as the pintucks already took out enough fabric out of the neck opening

Floral Floaty Banksia

The fabric is a viscose from my favourite clothing store, Alannah Hill who make fabulous (but expensive) pretty, girly clothes, but also have a clearance store in Melbourne that sell the fabrics.  Whenever I am in Melbourne I make sure I go there.  This fabric is from last year’s haul purchases.

Floral Floaty Banksia

I love getting good value out of a pattern – sort of makes up for the duds doesn’t it?

PS – the offer is still there if anyone wants V1247 – free going to a good home?? Let me know in the comments.

Snuggly Sweater

My original plan for this top was just going to be a comfortable and warm hoodie, but it kind of evolved as I was making it.  I started by cutting around an old favourite hoodie that I have just about worn to death. It is tired, pilled, faded but oh, so comfy. The shape started as just a normal sweatshirt, however on trying it on, it just looked blah.  Plus I didn’t have any ribbing or enough fabric for the hood, so really my plan was doomed from the start.

Faux Briar
Firstly, I cut the neck wider and deeper and finished the cuffs.  But the length was still meh and felt really unflattering.  Having seen so many of the Megan Nielsen Briars online I thought I would try a similar hemline to see how it looked. Normally I do not like a high-low hem at all, so I am not sure kind of madness made me cut into my fabric without thinking! However, I love my new snuggly sweater!!
Since finishing it I have been wearing it to death.  I really like it over the top of my Tiramisu dress but it also works over a long top with jeans.

Faux Briar

The colour is a light aubergine, not one I would normally wear, but it feels really appropriate for winter. I only seem to wear it with black but that is the majoirty of my winter wardrobe anyway. What other colours would this go with do you think?

Faux Briar
Sorry for the frowning, our sun is super bright!

Construction-wise there is nothing fancy, I sewed all the pieces together with my overlocker only, and then finished the hems and neck by simply turning them under once and finishing with a twin-needle. It came together in about an hour even with all the hacking!

Have you ever started something and then just hacked it to get a result quite different from the original?

Pattern: Self-drafted
Fabric:  NZ Merino –1.25m x 150cm wide 

MMM – Days 6-10

So far Me Made May is going well but I am definitely learning my wardrobe shortcomings and where I need to focus going forward.

MMM is also really good for getting me to blog some of the items I haven’t previously blogged as I didn’t feel they deserved their own posts.

So, onto what I wore and some things I have learnt so far:

Day 6

MMM'13 - Day 6

Skirt – Kelly skirt 
Top – Coppelia Cardi by Papercut, to be blogged soon 
From prolonged wear, I have realised this skirt is still too big around the waist and I really should have used a stiffer interfacing to stop the waistband stretching further. I have already altered this once and am not super keen to pick it apart again…hmmm hot wash perhaps?? BTW – the picture is taken at our gorgeous B&B we stayed at in Kentucky, a historical mansion. 
Day 7

MMM'13 - Day 7 
My Lorna Suzanne cardi blogged here.
I love this cardi, although the collar means I can’t wear it with any of my Banksia tops as collar on collar looks weird. The three quarter sleeve also limits wearability. I still love the pattern though.
Psst…check out the brekky, yum-o, this is what we got served in the morning at the B&B!
Day 8
MMM'13 - Day 8
Top – Colette pattern SorbettoSkirt – BurdaStyle Denim skirt
I love this skirt and wear it loads, it seems to go with everything and makes a nice change from jeans.
Day 9
MMM'13 - Day 9 
Skirt – Kelly skirt again from above Top – Hole-y moly Banksia
Day 10
MMM'13 - Day 10 Ok, so this day I kinda cheated! We went to Mammoth Cave on this day and the caves are really cold, so I wore long cargo pants and a thick jumper, not made by me at all, but practical and warm. I didn’t pack for super cold weather and so didn’t really have any much warm with me, besides what if I got my nice me-made things dirty? So we walked a lot and exhausted when I got to the hotel I changed into my Pjs which I remembered I did make! Not previously blogged as I didn’t fancy posing on the internets in my jammies, but you get the idea!

Beige, bland…never!

My latest outfit is a vision of beige! This is not a bad thing I feel as it makes for two super versatile pieces.  I’m not too sure about wearing them together all the time, but for a classic summer look I think it works.

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For the top I used the Megan Nielsen Banksia pattern, my TNT top pattern of late.  I really like the fit and it is easily modified.  As usual (for me) the armholes and neck are faced with bias binding.  I also modified the collar to reduce the depth, I ended up taking about 1.5″ off the total depth, which with my narrow shoulders I feel works better, it’s not so overwhelming on me.

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The skirt is the Kelly skirt also by Megan Nielsen but with the button placket omitted. To do this I simply used the buttonhole markings as my centre seam and cut on the fold. I did not cut the back on the fold as instructed, instead I cut it with an extra seam allowance on the “fold” side so I would have room to put in a lapped zipper.  I am pleased with the end result although my fabric is stiffer than I expected and it creases like a mofo!  I will eventually make this in a gabardine or something that doesn’t mind being sat on. 

I have noticed the weather starting to change so I have to start thinking about my autumn/winter wardrobe.  What are you working on for the new season? Do share, I am super nosy!!