Great Ambition

I’ve only knitted a couple of smaller colourwork pieces before (my arrow pompom hat and my acorns teeth mittens), but I’ve always wanted to do more. I was thinking of a jersey, but when I saw these amazing colourwork mittens pop up on Instagram I immediately knew I would be making a pair for my sister for her birthday this year…

They’re called Lion, Badger, Eagle, Snake, by Dianna Walla. I had to make her the Great Ambition ones, and though I don’t get her love for Slytherin (they’re basically hitler youth, right?) I do love their colour scheme! I bought a skein each of Quince and Co Finch yarn in Boreal and in Kumleins Gull, and I’m really pleased with those choices. I think that Boreal is the perfect dark green and really makes the light grey stand out. Finch is really nice to knit, my stitches came out beautifully crisp and clear! I managed to knit both mittens easily out of a single skein of each, which was nice. I’ll need to figure out a project to use the random lengths of 4 ply yarn I’ve been accumulating…

This pattern is really great, full of little details that make knitting them really fun! I find knitting colourwork really satisfying, I always want to carry on with another row just to see the pattern emerging. I did get a mild case of second sock syndrome when it came time to knit the second mitten, but I gave it a week or so and managed to get back into it!

The only change I made to the pattern was to leave the tops off the thumbs, I knew that they’d never get worn if they weren’t smartphone friendly! I knitted to the point where the decreases start, and then knitted three rounds of ribbing to stop them rolling. I also knitted the cuffs in 1×1 rib instead of 2×2, but that’s just because I didn’t read the pattern carefully enough and then decided I didn’t care enough to rip it back and change it…I prefer 1×1 rib anyway! I do wish I had looked up how to knit jogless stripes for the cuffs, that would have looked better than having that step at the beginning of each stripe.

The pattern is written in such a way that there aren’t very many places where there will be big floats left on the inside, but there are a few so I had to be careful to remember to catch those long floats up so they didn’t get snagged on fingernails or rings! I always love how the wrong side of colourwork projects look, it’s very satisfying. I did find that these ended up a bit smaller than the schematic, but that’s a good thing as my sister has pretty narrow hands! I did manage to stretch them out a bit when I blocked them, so it’s all good. I think my gauge in stockinette colourwork is tighter than it would be in plain stockinette, which is something I need to remember…

I might need to knit myself some Ravenclaw ones next!

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Zadie Jumpsuit for Autumn

So this is something that had leapfrogged over not just everything in my sewing queue, but everything in my blogging queue as well! You might have noticed that I’ve been into one pieces in a big way this summer, and I really wanted a simple wrap front jumpsuit. I couldn’t find quite what I wanted, as was considering drafting something like this one that Katie made (and wrote a tutorial for!), but then Paper Theory came out with the Zadie Jumpsuit and I didn’t have to! It even had sleeves, which makes it the perfect pattern for autumn…

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I was pretty wary of the amount of ease in this pattern, I didn’t want to be swimming in it, but its definitely not supposed to be tight! Helpfully, Paper Theory includes the final garment measurements in their instructions, so using those I was pretty confident about cutting out a size 8, even though my measurements fitted neatly between sizes 10 and 12. I also shortened the pattern pieces an inch at the lengthen/shorten line on the bodice, and again by an inch at the lengthen/shorten line across the crotch. I think both adjustments were spot on, the wrap hits just at my waist, and the crotch curve is just the right length! I do wish I had added that inch back onto the hem though, I’d like the trousers to be just a touch longer…

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The pockets are so good! They’re a great size, and sit really nicely behind the pleat at the waist. I also really like the drop shoulder/sleeve combo, even though I’m getting the above bust wrinkle that I tend to get with a dropped shoulder seam. I’m not sure what the deal is with that, if I need more room in the bust or not, but its something I see in this style of sleeve a lot!

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I didn’t realise until I looked at these photos, but I’ve got a bubble of fabric above my bum which I think could be fixed with a sway back adjustment. Next time I’d take a wedge out of the back waist seam at the centre back, tapering to nothing at the side seams. But I think it’s fine on this one, I can’t see behind me so it isn’t going to worry me! I cut the back on the fold instead of having a centre back seam, I’ll always cut down on the amount of seams I have to sew if I can.

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The other change I made was to draft a facing for the neckline and wrap front instead of finishing it with bias tape as the instructions suggest. I just don’t love bias tape, I often find I get it wrinkly and it annoys me! To made the facing I just added a 1cm seam allowance to the neckline and the wrap edge (on the bodice AND the trousers, I very nearly forgot about the bottom part!), then overlapped the bodice and trouser pieces to get rid of the waist seam allowance and traced off a 3cm wide facing. then I just stay-stitched the crap out of all the edges, and sewed the facing on and top stitched it down once the rest of the jumpsuit was assembled. The only problem I had was putting the ties in, I positioned the 45 degree angle at the end so that it matched the angle of the wrap edge and sewed everything down…only to flip the facing into place and realise that the ties now pointed straight down, at 90 degrees to where they should be. I should have read the instructions more closely! 20 minutes of unpicking and re-sewing later, and all was put right.

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Finally, the fabric! I picked up this lightweight denim from The Fabric Store, its brushed on one side (I used it as the inside) so it’s really soft and comfortable. I really like the utilitarian look of this pattern in denim, it means the design details really stand out! I’m looking forward to wearing it with some of my bolder jewelry and shoes, it’ll be a good canvas! I also think it’ll work well in colder weather with a merino tee underneath it, though I’m struggling to figure out what shoes to wear with it once it gets colder…I’m not sure I’ll like it paired with boots. I’ll need to have a trying on session to figure out how to extend it’s wearability!

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I’ll need to figure that out soon, it’s become very cold and wintery here all of a sudden. It was almost too dark to get photos today, so sorry that they’re a bit dim! I just really wanted to get it documented and up here, I’ve got a disgracefully long list of posts to write and limited patience to write them…

 

Linen Jily

Well, its been a minute since I last wrote a blog post! Life seems to have been very busy so far this year, and I’ve been pretty slack about taking photos of what I’ve been sewing. We took off to Hawai’i for nearly two weeks at the end of February for a belated honeymoon, which generated a fair amount of panic-sewing (swimsuits and other hot weather gear), which I’ll be working on posting over the next few weeks, and I should really get my wedding sewing up here too before I start sewing for autumn/winter… But here is a quick post about a useful little linen top I made to take to Hawai’i to get us started.

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This is another Ready To Sew pattern, the Jily tank. I’m super into Ready To Sew patterns at the moment, you might have noticed! I’ve got another Jazz to post as well. I really like the number of variations each pattern has, Jily has a straight hem version as well as the tie front I’ve made, and I also think it would make a great dress pattern with a gathered skirt added to the bottom of the bodice…but that might have to wait until next summer!

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I made this out of just over a metre of linen/cotton shirting from The Fabric Store, in the blush pink I’ve been so into this summer. It creases terribly, as you can see in these pictures, but it’s lovely and cool to wear! I really like the deep, curved V-neck, I don’t often wear a V neck but I’m thinking that maybe I should consider them more often. It’s also nice to have a sleeveless top with wider straps, these ones cover my bra straps nicely and the armscye isn’t too low (or high) cut.

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The armholes and neckline are finished with an all-in-one facing for a nice neat finish. As there is a centre back seam, I didn’t follow the fiddly instructions given for how to attach the facing by sewing the fronts and backs separately and then sewing them together by pulling the back straps through the straps between the front bodice and front facing, I never get that right first time! Instead I left the centre back seam open on the back piece and the back facing, sewed the shoulder seams and the side seams on both the top and facing, then sewed them together around the neckline and armhole before pulling them out the right way through the open back seam. Then I just sewed up the centre back seam, it was much easier (though I’ve done a terrible job of describing it…).

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The lower portion with the tie is fully lined, so I hand sewed the lining on the inside to avoid having any topstitching. The only change I made to the pattern was to deepen the keyhole between the ties by 1.5 cm so that the front could be tied higher on the top, I thought it looked a bit low on some of the ones I’ve seen online.

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This has been a good little top to have this summer, it was very useful in the heat in Hawai’i! Unfortunately I’ve managed to spill something on it pretty much every time I’ve worn it…maybe I need one in a darker colour or a busier print?

Finally, I feel like I can’t end this utterly frivolous post without saying something about the horrific act of violence which occured in New Zealand on Friday. A white supremacist terrorist entered two Mosques in Christchurch and opened fire on those at prayer there, killing 50 people and injuring at least 50 more. I’m so sad, and sick, and angry that this could happen anywhere, but especially that it happened here. My lovely friend Gabrielle has written far more eloquently than I can about what happened over on her blog– it’s worth a read, and I agree with her wholeheartedly.  We have to change so that this can never happen again.

All my faces

So, I know I said in my last post that my Jazz jumpsuit was probably one of the most complemented handmade garments in my wardrobe, but I think that this shirt might have outstripped it already! I even had a lady in a shop ask me where I had got it, and then asked me if I made them to order when I said I made it. I’m really not interested in sewing things to sell, but nice to know there might be a market if I ever change my mind…

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This is my second Closet Case Patterns Kalle Shirt, and it’s taken me over a year to get around to it even though I intended to make another one as soon as I finished my first! I’ve got some lovely Japanese cotton waiting to become another version, but its quite heavy and I thought I might try something a bit lighter and airier for summer. I love this Crowded Faces fabric from Lady McIlroy, and had been seeing it all over instagram, but I had been struggling to find it anywhere. Then Emma said she was putting in an order to La Mercerie, and did I want to split the shipping with her? Obviously I did! I ended up with 1.5 yards, which was plenty to made this shirt, and gave me the wiggle room to be a bit pedantic with how I placed the faces on the shirt. I’m especially pleased with how the print sits on the collar!

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I even got out my tiny stash of embroidery floss to give one of my collar faces some lipstick. I’m so happy with how it turned out! I used a plain white cotton for the inside yoke and the under collar and inner collar stand, because the cotton lawn is fine enough for the print to show through pretty clearly and it looked a bit messy. I also made a couple of changes to the pattern after my last one, including shortening the height of the collar stand. I felt like the whole collar was really big on my first shirt, and thought that decreasing the height of it might help. I think I should also decrease the size of the collar for my next version (that Japanese cotton, finally!), just to keep it a bit more proportional. I’m ok with the size of this collar though, as it means I can get both of those faces on the collar points!

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The biggest change I made was to straighten out the hem. I kept the cropped length, but just ruled a new hemline straight across from the longest point at the centre front, and kept it mostly level across the back as well. It has a bit of a dip in the back hem, and I’m not sure where that came from, but it looks nice! I also decreased the size of the box pleat in the back by half, as I thought it might be a bit too voluminous without the longer back hem and the wide hem facing to keep the volume under control!

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I’m really happy with the length and fullness I achieved with this one, I think it looks good with my high waisted shorts (these are my Landers) and trousers, and doesn’t flash as much skin when I lift my arms up as my first version does. I still love the shaped cuffs that this pattern has, I think they’re so great. I don’t always love the way a simple bias rectangle cuff wings out on a cut on sleeve, and these two piece cuffs follow the line of the shoulder so nicely. Such a nice touch!

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I finished the shirt off with my favourite shiny black shirt buttons from Made Marion Crafts, and added a ‘Hand Made’ tag from Kylie and the Machine to the back collar. I love it when all those little details add up! And I’m really glad I spent a bit more time and attention on this shirt, from cutting it out to those final details, because I really like the finished garment! It’s been great to wear in this heat over the past few weeks, but I’m also really looking forward to having that collar peeking out over my handknitted jerseys later in the year. I’ll need to get moving on sewing up my next version!

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Jazz lover!

Is it too soon to proclaim this my favourite make of 2019? I suppose it might be a little premature, but I can definitely say that this is one of the most complimented things I’ve ever made, and I’ve only worn it twice so far…

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This is the Jazz Jumpsuit from French pattern company Ready To Sew, and I loooove it! I’d seen a few pop up on instagram every so often (Shauni has some awesome versions!), and thought it looked like an interesting pattern, but maybe not for me. Then it got really warm just before I went back to work, and I was trying to figure out something easy and breezy and comfortable to make with this awesome rayon crepe, and Jazz popped into my head and wouldn’t leave. I had the PDF printed out and assembled tout de suite, and I was away! The PDF was great to print out, there are a bunch of options with this pattern but there are very clear instructions for which pages to print out for each view, which makes it super easy and means there isn’t much wasted paper.

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Big trousers! I only had 2m of this awesome Japanese rayon crepe from The Fabric Store, and it was pretty narrow, so I had a huge headache trying to get the pattern to fit on the fabric and also match the plaid at the vital points. It’s not perfect, but I think I did a reasonable job getting the stripe at the centre front to match across the waist seam, and I got the horizontal stripes to match across the crotch curve and at the side seams, so I’m happy with it. I had only just enough fabric left over to squeeze a matching tie belt out of the scraps! I went down a size from where the size chart put me, looking at the finished garment measurements I knew there would still be enough ease in the size down! I also sewed the centre back seam and the crotch seam with a 1.5cm rather than 1cm, just to bring it in a little bit, and I’m really happy with the way it fits.

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There are a couple of things I’ll change when I make this again (I’m already planning a dress version and a silk jumpsuit), the main one being the zip up the back. I can get it done up all the way and undone again on my own (thank god, I refuse to take an assistant to the bathroom with me), but only because I have long arms and flexible shoulders. My friend tried this one on, and couldn’t get it done up on her own! Next time I’m going to put in a shorter zip, maybe a 30cm one, and then leave a keyhole opening with a button and loop at the top, like the one on the Meridian dress. That should make it easier to get out of, and keep the contortion-ism to a minimum! I’ll also make two belt pieces, and secure them into each side seam, so that I don’t have to deal with it being a separate piece (also irritating in the bathroom). I like it unbelted, but I think I’m pretty unlikely to wear it that way out in public!

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This fabric is so lovely, I wish I had bought more while they had it in stock! I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with rayon crepe, sometimes I find it really rough and weird feeling, and it grows as you sew it…but this is one of the good ones, it’s soft and has a lovely heavy drape, but its still airy and easy to wear. It was really nice to sew and press as well, I think the texture of the crepe sticks to itself and stops it shifting around.

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This pattern is so great! I love the pockets, and the V neck, and the dropped shoulder. Its so comfortable, but I also feel really put together and stylish when I wear it. Its like the holy grail of summer clothing! I’m really looking forward to trying some more Ready To Sew patterns, I think the Jily Tank top will be my next one. It’s on my #2019make9 list!

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This is me bribing Scotty to be in my photo with a treat…he’s a bit camera shy!

Traditional Summer Sewing

The first few weeks of 2019 have swept me along in a flurry of wedding related business, but all of that is finished now, and I’ve got some space to think of other things! Our wedding on the 10th was perfect. It threatened to rain on us, but managed to hold off, and we were able to have the ceremony outside on the lawn overlooking the farm, which I was very glad about! The venue we picked has a beautiful outlook, it would have been a bummer not to get to see it. I managed to get my wedding sewing finished in plenty of time, and I was really happy with how everything turned out, and the whole day was just really happy and relaxed and full of our favourite people. I’ll do a post about my wedding sewing when we get some photos back!

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But first, I have a traditional first-post-of-the-year post, new shorts and a tee shirt! I’ve been meaning to make a pair of Lander Shorts since I made my linen Lander Pants, and I finally dug out the scraps of cotton drill left over from my black Ginger Jeans and just managed squeezed the pieces on. They went together really easily, I used the whole 1” seam allowance down the side seams as this fabric has 2% stretch, and they’re very comfortable!

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I swapped out the button fly for a standard zip fly, as I really dislike the pulling I get at the buttons on my linen pair and I was concerned that the drag lines would be even more apparent in a stretch fabric! I swapped in the instructions from the Grainline sewalong for the Maritime Shorts, and it worked really well. I had intended to play with the pockets too, I thought maybe I would flip the patch pockets on the front to the inside and turn them into standard slash pockets, but I decided not to in the end. I think the pocket bags would have shown through really obviously in this fabric, and with the black topstitching I used the patch pockets blend in so well that I’m glad I didn’t fluff around with them! Unfortunately the fabric is an absolute cat-fur magnet, I’ve basically given up trying to de-fluff both these shorts and my jeans…

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I made the shorts up between Christmas and New Year, and was wearing them a lot with my cropped paprika linen tee. I had the Maya Tee pattern from Marilla Walker on my #2019make9 list, so after New Year I thought I should make a cropped version to give the harvest tee a break! I used more leftover fabric from my stash, this time some super soft double gauze left over from my Myosotis dress. I didn’t have quite as much fabric left as I remembered, so I ended up cropping it by about 2” from the ‘cropped’ tee line of the pattern. On my short torso the ‘cropped’ length would be mid hip, so it all worked out pretty well!

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This is the basic tee version of the Maya pattern, with the plain front and straight hem, no buttons or pockets or anything flash. I top stitched the facings around the neck and sleeves, and remembered to pop a label in the back neckline so I can tell the front from the back! Aside from cropping the length, I also took an inch or so out of the side seams at the hem, tapering up to nothing at the bust. It was just a bit too bell shaped in this double gauze, which has quite a lot of body, and that adjustment helped to tame that fullness a bit! It’s lovely and breezy as it is now though. I really love the ikat-style print on this fabric, so I’m glad to have it as a slightly more wearable garment than my full and floaty dress! I’m definitely planning another one or two of these, and I’d love to try the cuff variation I’ve seen people make on instagram too…

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I’m pretty chuffed that my first two garments posted this year are both made from leftover fabric, and that I’ve already ticked off one of my Make9! I’ve set myself a challenge to not buy any fabric between the first of January and Easter this year, so expect to see more sewing up of remnants and stash fabric in the next few months…

Miss Fisher goes to Hogwarts

Happy New Year everyone! I’m writing this in a few stolen minutes between wedding prep and heading away to spend New Years Eve at the beach with some friends, so forgive any typos! I’m not on the cocktails yet, I promise…I’m also not parading around in silk velvet, but I really wanted to get this final post for 2018 up! This was my second garment made for the #sewfrosting challenge over on instagram, and I’ve finally got some halfway decent photos. Silk velvet isn’t so easy to photograph, it tends to look like a big navy black hole, so I’ve had to do some fiddling with the contrast etc. Hopefully you can still get the idea!

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This is one of the more ridiculously luxurious things I’ve ever made! When a 3 metre remnant of navy silk velvet popped up on the Drapers Fabrics Instagram page I bought it without much of a plan for it. I was initially thinking it would be a dress of some sort, but then I kept thinking it might be more practical as a piece of outerwear (I’m using practical in a relative sense here, obviously). I nearly made it into a Kochi kimono, but then when I made my first Sapporo Coat I thought it would be very lush as one of those…

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…and I was right! It’s so soft and heavy and slippery, it feels like sometimes if I move too fast I’ll leave it behind like a cartoon character, but it feels lovely to wear and I feel very dramatic and elegant in it. I thought cutting it out would be a major pain, but it was actually very well behaved throughout the cutting and sewing process! I wrapped my tailors ham in a big scrap of velvet and used that when I was pressing the seams so I didn’t crush the pile, but for the most part I managed to get away with blasting it with steam and finger pressing the seams open. The lining was almost more trouble to sew than the velvet, I used a heavy viscose satin twill from The Fabric Store and it kept trying to escape. It’s navy with violet threads streaked through it, which I utterly failed to capture in these photographs but which looks pretty in person!

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This version is obviously much less structured than my wool version, and I made a couple of changes to account for that. I hand sewed some tape along the diagonal seams on the fronts, which runs along the open edge of the pocket bags. They still drape open, which I quite like the look of in the velvet, but hopefully that’ll help them to keep their shape a bit more and not stretch out. I also substituted all iron on interfacing for sewn in silk organza, which was a bit of a faff but seems to have worked ok. I do wonder if I should have used more, or doubled it up in some places, as the collar and the front edges still collapse under the weight of that velvet draping. But then, I think any more structure might have looked strange with the velvet? I’m not sure, and I’m definitely not going back in to add more!

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I think it had a very art deco-ish cocoon coat vibe in the velvet, especially from the back! When I showed it to Hamish he said it was a bit Hogwarts-y, so not quite the Phryne Fisher look I was aiming for, but I think art deco witch works quite well! I also think Phryne Fisher and Minerva McGongall would have had excellent adventures together, I would definitely watch that show…

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Funnily enough, this isn’t my first silk velvet coat NYE post on this blog, I posted about my velvet Tessuti Tokyo jacket way back on my first blogging New Years Eve! I had hair! and I had only been sewing for a year or so, and had no idea what I was getting into with silk velvet. It turned out alright though, all things considered…