Not-quite-basics

I made this outfit up in that weird, limbo-ish period between Christmas and New Year, when I wasn’t reading my Christmas books or watching the cricket. Historically, I’ve been productive in the last week of December, but I’ve also made a bunch of stuff that has been ill-judged or that have just been total wadders (most haven’t made it to the blog). Fortunately, this Christmas I made two things which I’m totally in love with!

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This is the Kalle shirt from Closet Case Patterns, made up in linen from The Fabric Store (second item in my Summer of Linen series!). This is technically the second time I’ve used this pattern, but it’s the first time I’ve used it as drafted. I picked the cropped version (obviously), with the full length exposed button band and the full collar. there are a lot of options with this pattern, I love it! This linen has a much crisper hand than the rayon crepe I used for my first tee shirt version, so it holds the shape of the body and hem much better.

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I love that back pleat and the kimono sleeves and cuffs! I’m also really pleased with the length at the front, I think its perfect to wear with anything which sits at my natural waist. I’m slightly terrified to wear this shirt anywhere that I might come into contact with any food or drink or anything else which might stain it…I’ll need to get over it though, because it’s an excellent top to wear when it’s all hot and sticky and I don’t want anything to touch my skin.

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I think this is one of the neatest collars I’ve ever sewn, mostly due to the linen I think! It just holds a press so beautifully, and is such a lovely stable fabric. I was surprised by how high the collar stand was though, it’s almost twice as high as the one from the Melilot shirt. I don’t mind the way it looks, but it feels like a more formal collar. It definitely sits up a lot more! Irritatingly, I managed to get that top button hole slightly too far from the edge of the stand, and the top button looks really off centre. I never manage to get that one in the right place! I extended it as much as I thought I could get away with (after I had sewn and opened the original buttonhole), but it still isn’t where it should be. I used my favourite 1/2″ shell buttons, I like the subtle shine against the linen. It’s also just long enough to tuck in, if I ever want to go totally preppy!

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While most of this post is about the shirt, this skirt is one of my favourite things that I’ve made recently! It’s my favourite skirt pattern, v1247, and the fabric is a gorgeous indigo dyed Japanese cotton that I bought at Ray Stitch in London when Katie took me shopping last year. I bought it intending to make a Kochi Kimono out of it, but I once again forgot how narrow Japanese fabrics are and I couldn’t tetris my way out of not having enough fabric this time. I’m slightly sad about not getting my indigo kimono, but I’m so happy that I thought to make it up as this skirt instead! I lengthened it the same amount as I did  for my denim version, 4″ in length with a 1” hem, which I think puts it at the perfect length.

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I bound all of the seams with some vintage turquoise bias tape, and blind hemmed it. I felt like I should pull all of the stops for this gorgeous fabric! I have another length of the same fabric, but with crosses woven into it rather than the dashes on this fabric. I bought it to make a pair of trousers, but maybe it’ll become the kimono/lightweight jacket I wanted this piece to become…

I’m really happy with both of these garments, I think they fit really well into my summer wardrobe, and both are things I really want to wear! I’m planning so many versions of the Kalle shirt, I want to make another cropped version but with the hem straightened off, and a version of the shirt dress inspired by this stunning version made by Sasha from Secondo Piano (ok, it might just be a straight copy). I’d also be really keen to make a long sleeved version of the tunic length one if I could find some wool flannel or something for winter…

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All the linen over here please!

It’s so hot. So muggy. So unlike Wellington. We’re all wandering around in a sticky, grouchy, slightly stunned sort of way, totally not used to weather like this (we’d move to Auckland if we wanted humidity!). Obviously this is the perfect weather for a Closet Case Patterns Charlie Caftan in crisp linen from The Fabric Store.

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I picked up this 1.5m remnant of linen last time I was at TFS (I can never help myself, their remnant bins are so good), and decided I would use it to make a test run of the Charlie before I used the gorgeous piece of Japanese double gauze which I bought specifically to make view B of the pattern. I opted for view A for this linen, as I thought the architectural pleats would work better with it’s crisp hand than the gathers.

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Charlie was an enjoyable dress to sew! I love the kimono sleeves, and the faced neckline. The waistband insert was enjoyably fiddly to sew, I think sometimes I sew too many basic-straight-line garments so I should push myself more. I used the higher armholes, though you can still see my bra through them. I’ll just make sure I’m wearing a black bra with it, I’m not overly bothered! I also added the waist ties from view B, which I’m glad about. The dress itself is pretty straight up and down, and I like the hint of shape that the ties give. I also like that they’re long enough to tie in the front, the linen ties into a lovely crisp bow which I think looks really cute with the insert and the pleats.

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I’ve been playing around with different ways to tie it, I quite like it tied together in a bow at the front without wrapping around my waist. It gives the dress a little bit more shape than not being tied up at all, but is more cocoon shaped (which is great in this heat!). I don’t think I’ll ever wear it untied, simply because I don’t know what I’d do with the ties! Maybe when I make my double gauze version I’ll make the ties separate, or figure out a way to make them removable.

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Tied in front
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untied (with tails)

I’m really liking deep V necklines at the moment, surprisingly enough! I’ve always preferred a scoop neck, but I’ve sewn a couple of things with this shape neckline lately and I think its really pretty. Good for showing off some of my shorter necklaces too!

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The only issue I have with this one is that it’s a touch snug at around my hips, but luckily linen is pretty forgiving and it’s already relaxed and become more comfortable! I could have let the seams out a touch, but then I would have had to mess with the pockets, and I was too lazy. it isn’t that bad, I’ll just need to remember for next time!

Linen is having a definite moment in my summer sewing, I’ve made 3 garments in it so far with two more in the pipeline. I could have more, but I’ve put a few restrictions of my fabric buying for the next wee while, and I don’t have any more in my stash! I’m going to try to sew 3 pieces of fabric from my stash before I’m allowed to add a metre, so we’ll see how that goes. If I start counting from the beginning of my christmas break, that gives me 1.5m of new fabric owing…I’ll just avoid the Fabric Store for a little while!

Kalle-ish

I’m probably about to jinx the entire Wellington region here, but it’s really feeling like summer is nearly here this year! We’ve had a gorgeous spell of warm sunny weather, and it’s got me dreaming about linen and silk and loose, cropped silhouettes. As usual I’m looking to make tops which are a bit more fancy than just tee-shirts, and I’m loving the high waisted bottoms/ cropped tops look which seems to be around this year.

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I pulled the Kalle Shirt pattern by Closet Case Files out and matched it to this windowpane check from Indie Sew on my first weekend back after our trip, when I was desperate to sew something, but I just couldn’t be bothered with the idea of sewing a collar in that shifty fabric. I loved the idea of the faced high/low hem and the kimono sleeves though, so I decided to do a bit of pattern modification to get a simplified top.

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I kept all of the bits of the pattern that I really liked, the hem and facings, the sleeves and cuffs, and the back pleat, but obviously I ditched the shirt bits! I used the pop-over front pattern piece, which is cut on the fold anyway, and just didn’t put the placket in. I traced off the front and back neckline from the Willow Tank, and then traced off a facing to finish the neckline. Other than the neckline, I followed the instructions exactly.

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I love the back and the hem! If I made this modification again, I wouldn’t drop the back neckline so low so that I could keep some more of the yoke, I think it’s a bit disproportionate on this one. but I can’t see it, so that’s okay! I’m trying to be less obsessive about getting things perfect (the Love To Sew Podcast episode on perfectionism resonated with me, I definitely let my perfectionist tenancies get in the way of my sewing enjoyment), and I definitely embraced the ‘done is better than perfect’ ethos on this project…

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I really love this fabric (in fact, I was so keen to get my hands on some that I managed to submit my online order to Indie Sew twice. So glad I managed to cancel one order before it was cut out! It’s no longer available, sorry.), I’ve got the white with black check colourway too. It feels lovely, it’s a very smooth and floaty rayon crepe, but it was pretty shifty and difficult to cut out and sew! I cut it on one layer, and used all of my pins to keep it all square and in line. The finished top tends to slide around a bit too, I think that it’s too heavy in the back. Between the double layer of crepe for the yoke and the longer length, it slips back on my shoulders a bit. Using a lighter weight cotton for the yoke lining would have been a better idea. But never mind, that’s what hindsight is for!

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The highest point of the hem is a good height for my high waisted trousers (these are my Safrans, but they’re good with my Gingers and my Flint trousers too, as well as my high waisted skirts), but clearly I’ll need to be careful getting anything down off high shelves! I’m wearing a tank top under it in these pictures, I’m not quite that anaemic…

I’m definitely keen to try out the pattern as drafted, I have some lightweight Japanese cotton earmarked for another cropped version but with all the shirt details included. Looking at my sewing plans for the summer there are going to be a bunch of collars and plackets and buttonholes involved! Also some more wide legged trousers, and hopefully a swimsuit…

Kelly Anorak

I’m finally home! The trip back was pretty dire (I really wish someone would get on with inventing human teleportation, please and thank you), but that’s what I get for living a million miles away. I’ve integrated my UK fabric purchases into my fabric stash, I’ve uploaded my photos, and I’ve spent some quality time with the cats, so I thought I’d finally blog about the Closet Case Files Kelly Anorak that I made up before my trip.

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Best turtle impression

This jacket was so useful, it was the perfect weight to wear once we got further north and the weather started to cool down. I think it looks more stylish than my Waver raincoat, which I also took and wore loads (since it’s waterproof) but which is beginning to get a bit scruffy. I used a stretch twill from The Fabric Store, which I think was marked as Marc Jacobs. I’m always surprised at the rolls of designer fabric which pop up at TFS! It was the perfect colour for what I was after, and it’s quite nice to have a little bit of stretch in a casual jacket. I realised as I was assembling the navy fabric and gold hardware that I was copying this amazing Minoru hack that Sallie Oh made years ago and which I coveted, but didn’t think I had the skills (or the patience) to make such big changes to the pattern. I’m glad I procrastinated long enough for the Kelly pattern to be released and save me the hassle!

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I love hardware-heavy projects like this! I really wanted spring snaps rather than the ring snaps which I used on my Waver, but I haven’t seen them for sale anywhere in New Zealand. I was looking to buy a bunch of bag hardware at the same time, so I just bit the bullet and put an order into Pacific Trimming. It wasn’t too expensive, in the scheme of things, but shipping and the conversion rate definitely made it a bit of a splurge purchase! I got the snaps, draw string stoppers and cord ends from there, and I’m really happy with them. They’re all the same gold tone, which was important to me, and the snaps feel much more sturdy (and make a much more satisfying snapping noise) than the other type I’ve used. And they just look nicer! Similarly, the stoppers and end caps are nice and weighty and look good, I wish I had bought a few more sets. Of course, after I put the order in Closet Case Files released a gold toned version of their hardware kit, but never mind… The zip was a lucky find at Spotlight, I didn’t expect to find a gold and navy separating zip there but I got lucky! It was too long, but I don’t mind shortening zips.

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I used the scraps of Liberty lawn left over from my Willow Tank for the hem binding and the drawstring casing, and I’m really happy with how it looks against the navy. Instead of using standard cord for my drawstring I used some heavy cotton twill tape. I think it looks good, it’s a bit nautical! It’s flat, so squeezing it through the eyelet and the cord stopper (what are those called? I’m sure that isn’t the right word…) was slightly challenging, but now that they’re in place I won’t have to move them again! I also used the twill tape for a hanging loop inside the collar. Also, how good are those pockets? I love big pockets, and these ones can fit pretty much anything I want to put in them.

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So, onto the pattern! I know there has been a bit of negativity around this pattern recently, but I didn’t personally have any issues with the drafting. Because I had to shorten the zip anyway I didn’t really pay attention to the recommended length on the pattern and just shortened it until it fit. I wish I had shortened it another inch, to be honest, because the end of the zipper pull hangs over the edge of the hem when it’s undone! I can’t see it, but I know that it’s there…I did have issues with the zipper and placket though, which were my own stupid fault. I was absolutely flying along on the Saturday I started this, everything was going really smoothly and I was really happy with my progress by the end of the day. On Sunday, I picked it up again, and realised that I had sewn the zip in with the wrong seam allowance, so there wasn’t enough room under the placket for the snaps. I was so upset! I considered carrying on and just fudging it, but I knew that would ultimately really annoy me, and I didn’t want to risk messing up the snaps after getting them all the way from LA! So I gritted my teeth and unpicked the whole damn lot. It’s definitely not as square or as nicely sewn now, as I had graded those seams pretty savagely, but at least the snaps are where they’re supposed to be! it turned out that I had just aligned the edge of the zipper tape with the edge of the fabric, instead of using a 5/8” seam allowance as instructed. Lesson learned there!

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There are some fitting issues here which I need to address before making this pattern again (I’m planning a waterproof version with the hood), mostly around the shoulders. Initially, I thought that I needed to do a narrow shoulder adjustment as the point of the shoulder is slipping down my arm, but now that I’ve worn it for 6 weeks I think that the more important adjustment I need to make is for a forward shoulder. The shoulder seam is sitting about an inch behind my actual shoulder, so that is definitely something I need to look into. I may also need to take some length out of that seam, but I’ll see how it looks after moving it forward! I could also lift the drawstring casing up a wee bit I think. but other than that, I think its pretty good really! There are some funny wrinkles in these photos, but I’m chalking those up to 1) the jacket being in and out of my suitcase for 2 weeks by the time these pictures were taken, and 2) it being super windy and it being blown against my body weirdly!

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I know this has been a long post, but I should also talk about this amazing place! These photos were taken on the island of Skye, and it was just so beautiful there. This is the ruin of Duntulm Castle, on the northern point of Skye. It’s slowly falling into the sea, so you can’t get closer than the fence (which I think is actually to keep the sheep out, rather than reckless tourists), but it was such a stunning, lonely spot. There was a fisherman down on the rocks below the cliff where I was standing, who I didn’t spot until he popped up in the middle of these photos, which is why I look a bit sheepish in some of them! I absolutely loved Skye, I would love to go back for longer some time. I bought the necklace I’m wearing in these pictures (its by Wolf and Moon) from a lovely shop in Portree called Òr, where I also got my birthday present Hilary Grant scarf (this one!). I’m almost wishing we could have a bit more cold weather so that I could wear that scarf now rather than waiting for winter (but not really, bring on summer!)

 

 

Finally, Ginger Jeans!

Making myself a pair of Ginger Jeans has been on my to-do list since the pattern was released (seriously, it’s been on my 2014, ’15 and ’16 Top 5 goals list…), and I’ve finally knuckled down and made them. Just like with my Safran Jeans, they really weren’t any more difficult to make than any other garment with a moderate number of pieces, definitely easier than a winter coat (and 100% easier than the raincoat I’ve recently finished for my sister!)

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Check them out! These are view B, the high waisted/skinny leg version of this pattern, I like my jeans to sit at my natural waist and these are pretty much spot on. I didn’t make any major pattern changes to this version, I thought I should make them up as is for my first shot and then tinker with my next pair! To be honest, I was amazed at how well they fit straight out of the packet. I took 2” off the hem (next time I’ll take it out higher on the leg to keep the hem skinnier), and moved the pockets up 5/8”, and took out a bit of extra fabric at the outer side of each knee. For my next pair I’m going to play with a knock-knee adjustment, I think that should help fix the diagonal wrinkles at the knee that I have with this pair and my Safran jeans. I might also take a wedge out of each side of the yoke, there’s a wee bit of gaping at the back waistband. Other than that though, I think they’re really good!

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I put in the pocket stay option too, it does help to make the front feel nice and snug! I used more of that Liberty Poplin remnant that I’ve used for every pocket bag/under collar/yoke lining/bag lining since I bought it. There’s still plenty left, so expect to see it again! The denim I used is from The Fabric Store, of course. I bought it years ago, with the intention to make these jeans with it! When I pulled it out of my stash last weekend, I was surprised by how lightweight it was, I had remembered it being much heftier. It meant it was really easy to cut and sew, but these aren’t really winter weight jeans! It also felt quite rigid, and I was worried that I hadn’t bought denim with the right stretch percentage, but it turns out that next to the 30% stretch that my Safran Jeans have, this 2% lycra/cotton blend just feels stiff!

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I used a hardware kit from Closet Case Files (the gold colour way), and I really love the result. The zip is especially nice, the pull is really low profile compared to other zips I’ve used, and it helps the whole fly sit so nice and flat. I also love that the button and the rivets match, it looks all so nice and professional! I was really scared of putting the rivets in, I was sure I was going to ruin everything at the final step! I watched the video tutorial on the Closet Case Files Blog, and everything was really simple in the end. I just had to whack everything harder than I expected, and avoid stabbing myself with the awl (and the rivet posts, they were pointy!). For thread, I just used all-purpose Gutermann thread for construction, but I used Sulky thread for the topstitching. I’ve had so many issues with topstitching thread in my machine, and I thought that the slippery, shiny Sulky thread would show up nicely and my machine wouldn’t have a tantrum every time I tried to sew with it.

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I’m amazed at the difference moving the pockets made! They looked okay at the marked position on the pattern, but shifting them up 5/8” has made my bum look much better. I think the size and shape of the pockets is excellent, Heather Lou knows what she’s doing!

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I was a little bit worried about how firm and tight these felt when I first put them on, but after a few hours they loosened up nicely, especially around the knees (just as well, I thought I might have over-fitted them around there). I’m not sure how well this denim will hold up, to be honest. They’re comfortable now, but I have a feeling that they might keep bagging out and will need lots of washing to keep them in shape! I interfaced the waistband with the same hefty knit interfacing I used in my Safran Jeans, so hopefully they’ll stay up…

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Unfortunately, it turns out that Sulky thread really isn’t cut out for top stitching, especially not on a stretch fabric under stress! After a day of wear, I had popped several lines of topstitching on the pockets and around my bum. This morning I went back and re-did all that topstitching on the back crotch seam and pockets with normal thread in the same colour, and hopefully it’ll hold up better. I thought that since I had seen Sulky thread being used for topstitching on bags that it would be okay, but of course bags aren’t usually stretch fabric or being stressed like those seams, so I shouldn’t be surprised really! I have some heavier stretch denim in grey waiting to be made into another pair of Gingers, so for those I’ll use upholstery thread for the topstitching. I know my machine will sew with that, because I use it to sew leather!

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I really enjoyed making these, even though there were a few setbacks at the last moment! I like the precision of doing that  top stitching, and all of the other components like the bar tacks and rivets and fly make these a really fun project to work on, especially as I sewed them up in short bursts between writing an assignment. Best of all, I’m really happy with the final product! Stupid that it took me so long to make them really…

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Finally, I thought I should get a picture of this tee shirt, as it hasn’t made the blog yet! It’s a Molly Tee, from the Sew Over It City Break Capsule Wardrobe e-book. I really like the shape of it, especially the curved hem and the wide scoop neckline. I turned the sleeve hems up and hand stitched the cuffs rather than just hemming them, just for something a bit different. I keep meaning to make the dress version, but it keeps getting bumped down the list. Maybe for summer!

Old and new

It is getting cold here! I know those of you who live in the deep south or the far north will be laughing at me, but if it gets below 10 degrees celcius I think its cold. So I am making some warm clothes to get me through the next few months. To kick things off, I’ve made a Closet Case Files Nettie Bodysuit in a merino/polyprop blend to wear as a base layer. I really hate it when my top comes untucked from my jeans or skirts, so the idea of something which will stay put is appealing!

 
I made a few stupid mistakes with my choice of materials here, the biggest one being that the merino has virtually no vertical stretch. I’m really short through my torso, so its actually ok, but it does mean I have some excess fabric hanging around when my arms are down by my sides (or in my pockets). I also used seriously sub-standard press studs for the crotch fastenings, and they have a tendancy to ping apart at random moments. It can be somewhat alarming! I’m going to replace them with some industrial strength ones for added security.

 
Next time I’ll make a few changes, including shortening the waist and using stretchier fabric. I’m also going to raise the neckline by about an inch, because I do find this quite low cut! I think I’ll also use either the high neckline or high back, rather than the scoop neck and back, as I find it falls off my shoulders. I’ve added bra strap loops to this one, but if I’m going to be wearing them predominantly as a base layer under other things then a high back neckline makes sense. I’ll also shorten the 3/4 length sleeves by a couple of inches, as I keep pushing these ones up.

 
This is a rather unflattering shot of my back, but you get the idea! I do really like the scoop back, its quite glamourous! 

I wore this outfit out for high tea with the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network yesterday, and felt rather swish. The skirt is a wool Hollyburn skirt which I made last winter, but hardly wore because I was so horrified by my zipper insertion technique. I had so much trouble getting the zip to go it neatly with the piping that I ended up hand picking it, but it always looked really shitty and I just couldn’t bring myslef to wear it. Last week I found a pink invisible zip in my box of findings (I have no idea when or why I bought it, but it was somewhat serendipitous), and decided to have a crack at putting it in with my invisible zipper foot. I also trimmed down the piping cord inside the bias tape to make things a bit flatter. And it worked really well! Look at how much better it looks… 

 

 
See? So much better! Doesn’t look like I’ve chewed on it anymore 🙂 

So thats my Nettie. Bit of a boring post I’m afraid, but there we go. Look out for several more, its a pattern which is perfect for hacking! I’m looking forward to making some short sleeved ones for summer too, andmaybe a swimsuit…