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!)

 

 

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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…

Luxury Jammies

At the beginning of this year I decided that I was going to wait a bit to buy patterns, rather than just jumping on any new releases which took my fancy. I have several patterns which I haven’t made up yet, and I do like seeing how other people interpret patterns before I make them up. However, there have been a tonne of patterns released recently which I love so much that I didn’t hesitate in snapping them up! The Linden Sweatshirt, the Cascade Duffle coat, The Watson Bra, The Granville Shirt…all of them were in my shopping basket and winging their way to my mailbox or inbox before I knew it. And I can now add the Closet Case Files Carolyn Pyjamas (or pajamas, as they’re officially called. Is that an Americanism?) to that list. With the exception of the Linden, the Carolyn jammies are the only ones of my new stash of patterns that I’ve made up!

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I’m not sure I can call these jammies, to be honest. They’re silk cotton! And monogrammed! Far too luxe to just be jams. These have to be luscious loungewear or something! The fabric is so, so lovely, I was very excited to find it in The Fabric Store’s recent sale. Its lovely and soft and has a lovely sheen from the silk, but also has some crispness which made it lovely to sew with. I was all set to make my own piping, until I realised that the pre made stuff was the same price per metre as the satin bias tape I was looking at, so I figured I might as well make my life easy! The piping and the gorgeous black and gold buttons came from Made on Marion.

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The instructions were all really clear and easy to follow, and everything came together really easily. I had never sewn a notched collar before, but it worked out very neatly. The only thing I think I should have done better was my choice of interfacing, it might just be a bit too crisp for the fabric. It seems to have softened up a bit with wear though, so hopefully it will keep doing so! I’m also really happy with my buttonholes, I think they’re my neatest to date. Buttonholes are a constant battle on my sewing machine, theres always something that goes wrong…

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I really like the combination of the cream with black piping, it feels very classic. I wanted to do something else to make them a bit fancy though, and when I remembered Leimomi’s post on 1920’s monogrammed sportswear on her blog The Dreamstress, I decided it was time to learn a bit of embroidery! This was the picture that especially caught my eye…

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I love the monogram topped with the back cat! I spent a few hours playing around with a variety of Art Deco typefaces (typography is something I love, I kind of wish I had studied design instead of science sometimes!) and sketched out a stylised cat to top it off. I did struggle a bit with the letters, K and M are both pretty boring shapes in Art Deco fonts, too many straight lines and not enough sinuous curves! K is a bit tough to turn into a nice monogram too, as it looks unbalanced. But with the help of Instagram, I worked out a Charles Rennie Mackintosh inspired design that I’m really happy with. Then I drew it out neatly using a compass and right angled ruler to make sure everything was centred and squared, and inked it in before tracing it onto my square of fabric. Usually I would tape my tracing paper and image to a glass table with a lamp under it as a DIY lightbox, but we don’t have a glass topped table here! So I improvised with a window and a sunny day.

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I’ve never done any embroidery before, aside from the odd cross stitch when I was a kid, but I think it turned out well!

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I decided to just use the plain pocket piece, I thought that piping and embroidery might be overkill. I’m so happy with how they turned out! And they’re really comfortable, which is even better. I made a 6 in the top and an 8 in the shorts, though if I make them again I might just make both in the 8. They fit well, and if the top was for daytime wear it would be fine, but I sleep with my arms under my pillow so I need a bit more room across the back of the shoulders! The shorts are great though, and all pyjamas ever should have pockets. I said this to Monsieur, and he said that the lack of pockets was the main complaint that he had about the pyjama bottoms I bought him. (Actually, he said his were “useless modesty shields, with no actual functional purpose”, so I might have to make him some with pockets to stop him whingeing.)

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These photos were taken in the kitchen of the lovely house in Napier we stay in for Art Deco Weekend, how awesome is that radio? I completely failed to get any photos of the back, but I’m sure you get the idea. They’re also a bit rumpled looking, because these photos were taken not long after climbing out of bed…but I think thats only appropriate! I’ll do an Art Deco 2015 outfit post later in the week, I managed to wear handmade outfits for two of the three days, so that was fun. I’ll aim for three out of three next year!

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As an amusing aside, I saw this in the local paper last week…

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I am fully aware that I don’t usually save any money by sewing clothes, I do it for love and for some ethical reasons, not for economical reasons. But I appear to have saved a substantial amount of money here, the ones in the paper are silk cotton shortie pyjamas nearly identical to the Carolyn Pattern, but those ones are over $400NZD! Astonishing! I’m glad I can fully justify the luxury of sewing my own silk sleepwear now…