Travel Basics

I had a ridiculous list of things to sew before our big trip (and I managed to get pretty much everything done!), but I had a few basic things which I knew I really had to take. A white tee shirt, some merino leggings and a new cardigan were all things that I knew would fill holes in both my travel wardrobe (sounds so fancy) and back home for our awkward spring weather. They aren’t really exciting garments, but they’ve been really useful and I’ve taken photos in a pretty spectacular location so hopefully that makes up for it!


First up is the tee shirt. I abandoned my much loved Grainline Lark pattern to try the Deer and Doe Plantain (free download!), and I really like the shape of it. It’s apparently been slimmed down from its original iteration, but it’s still loose enough to skim my hips and tummy rather than being tight. I like the shape of the scoop neck too, it’s nice and deep but not so deep that I’m worried about leaning forward!


I’ve managed to pull it weirdly against my body here, I’m not sure why I’ve trapped it under my arm like that! 

I used a cream merino from The Fabric Store. I don’t have a white tee shirt, but when I held up various white knits to my face in the shop they all made me look a bit grey and sick, so I went with a warmer cream. It’s a lovely fabric, as merino always is, but it is a wee bit see through. I’ll need to be careful to always wear a nude bra with it!


Right, second woollen basic is another Driftless Cardigan! This is my third time making this pattern, and I desperately needed another one because I’ve nearly worn through the elbows of my second (and the first isn’t really something I wear out of the house, it’s more like a dressing gown!)


I love this pattern, it’s so comfortable and I find it a really practical and easy shape to wear. The pockets are especially good! This time I used a beautiful grey Japanese wool (also from TFS). It has less stretch than merino, which makes for a sturdier feeling cardigan and stops the dreaded saggy pocket problem. I used the plain hem band pattern pieces rather than the high-low version, but I sewed them so that they have a split at the side seam rather than as a continuous band.


I don’t have any pictures of my merino leggings, but they’re plain black Papercut Patterns Ooh La leggings. I used a merino/Lycra blend to hopefully combat saggy knees! I’ll get some pictures in conjunction with something more exiting, because they are really dull photographically. I love them though!


These photos were taken at Dun Carloway, on the Island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. It was such a cool place, and there was no one there! We just wandered into the paddock and up to this Neolithic building, then went inside and crawled through that little door and up a 2000 year old staircase to where the first floor would have been. So much history blows my mind a bit, coming from somewhere where our history is pretty recent (Māori settled in New Zealand about 700 years ago and there aren’t any structures even close to that old left), and being allowed to get up so close was awesome. All of the scenery on Lewis and Harris was breathtaking, I’m so glad we got out there. I’ll put my pictures from the Harris Tweed shop in another post!

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Double Denim

At the end of last year, Emma from Emma’s Atelier organised a sewing challenge for the Wellington Sewing Bloggers. We were going to finally stop procrastinating and sew jeans! Now, I got my jeans finished by the end-of-challenge date in March, but the date was pushed back a few times to accommodate others who were still sewing. Eventually the 6th of May was decided on, so I decided to sew up something else for the challenge as I had already blogged my jeans

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I was going to have a crack at some Ginger Jeans, but I didn’t get organised in time. Instead I decided to use the rest of the stretch denim I had left over from my Safran Jeans to make another version of the skirt from v1247. I really liked my first version of this skirt, but it is pretty short, and the fit is all a bit squiffy because I was more worried about pattern matching than the trifling matter of accurate seam allowances…

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This version does fit much better, I don’t have the odd bubbling above the pockets like I did with my first version. Guess those seam allowances do matter huh? I added 3” to the hem of this one, and I prefer the longer length. I also added an exposed zipper up the back (I thought sewing denim and using a metal zip made this skirt enough like jeans to qualify for the challenge!). I used Megan Nielsen’s tutorial for the zip, and it worked fairly smoothly. It isn’t as neat inside as I would like, due to the way the seam allowance gets clipped, but I can live with it! I bound all of the internal seams with Hug Snug, to keep the bulk down (and because I couldn’t be bothered making bias tape). It looks a bit dodgy up close, but if you aren’t looking too closely it looks pretty good!

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I’ve been wearing this skirt heaps since I finished it, I didn’t realise I needed a denim skirt but it has obviously filled a gap in my autumn wardrobe!

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I’ve also made a long sleeved version of the Deer & Doe Melilot Shirt, in a Robert Kaufman chambray from fabric.com (I think it’s this one, but I’m not 100% sure). I love my short sleeved one, so I thought a long sleeved version would go well in my wardrobe, and I was right! I really love this shirt. I’ve seen some mixed reviews of the Kaufman chambray around, but it’s really hard to find lightweight chambray in store in Wellington, so I thought I’d give it a go. It’s really nice and soft, and it pressed and sewed up nicely. Hopefully it’ll wash well, because I’d like this shirt to last.

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This is the first time I’ve sewn tower plackets, and I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out. There was a little bit of head scratching as I tried to get everything to fold correctly, but it all suddenly fell into place and looked like what I was expecting! I put a bar tack right across the top of the split to reinforce it, as I’ll be wearing these sleeves rolled up most of the time, but next time I think I’ll use a shorter vertical bar tack to strengthen that area. The long bar tack is just a bit clumsy looking! I am happy with the way the cuffs turned out, the curves on the cuffs, collar and pockets look really nice together.

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I hemmed this one with some grey bias tape, as I’ve never been happy with the turn and stitch hem treatment on my first shirt. Bias tape just sits so much flatter around those sharp curves at the side seams. The buttons are my favourite mother of pearl shirt buttons from Made Marion Crafts in Wellington.

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I’m not entirely sure what the deal is with those big wrinkles above the pockets on this shirt, I wonder if that just happens with dropped shoulder seams? Any suggestions? I have so many versions of this planned now, I’ve got some rayon for another long sleeved version, and some more cotton for a long sleeved dress hack, and some linen for another short sleeved summer version… I need a job with a smart/casual dress code so I can wear them all!

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In the end, only Emma and I had finished items for the challenge reveal, so here we are in matching denim (she used the same stuff for her Safran Jeans), and with our matching Ida Clutches, before we had delicious chips and soda at Six Barrel Soda Co!

Finally, does chambray count as denim? Is this outfit double denim? I really like both pieces, so I’ve decided not to be to bothered about wearing them together. Double denim is in now anyway, right? I’ve seen the hipsters wearing it for years! Either way, down with fashion rules…

 

Jeans!!

I was going to try to come up with a witty title for this post, but to be honest JEANS!! sums it up! I’ve been putting off making jeans for two years, ever since i bought the Ginger Jeans pattern, and now I’m really not sure why. I’ve jumped head first into sewing with silk velvet, into making lined coats, and into using unmarked, single size vintage patterns, but jeans always just seemed a bridge too far. Given that jeans are probably the biggest staple in my wardrobe (I wear them every day, as I get changed into scrubs at work and don’t have to look professional), so I finally decided to get over myself and cut into one of the many lengths of denim which I have been stashing for my eventual jean-making adventure.

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Now, you may have noticed that there are not, in fact, the famed Ginger Jeans. When Deer and Doe released their Safran Pants pattern I grabbed it, thinking that maybe a pattern which uses denim with at least 30% stretch would be more forgiving for a first foray into sewing skinny jeans. I think it was a good decision, I’m really happy with these jeans, and I’ve learned a few things that I’ll apply to the Ginger pattern when I make them up.

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The Safran pattern has a true high waist, the button sits pretty much exactly over my belly button. I really like a high waist, I like being able to tuck my muffin-top in! I find it more comfortable than a lower rise, especially when it’s a close fitting waistband. I also like the slanted welt pockets, they’re a bit different to traditional jeans pockets, but I think they’re really neat and tidy, and they were easy enough to construct. I do wish that I had followed the instructions and cut half of the pocket bag out of denim instead of my contrasting cotton. I thought I was being clever and keeping things streamlined by using the thinner cotton for both pieced, and it wasn’t until the pockets were fully constructed that I realised a line of cream cotton was visible down each side of the welt. its a bit annoying, but I’ll know for next time!

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I think the fit in the front is pretty good, there are minimal drag lines around the fly/pockets. the fly went in really easily, though I have constructed a few fly fronts now and they don’t bother me like they used to! I do however have quite a few wrinkles on the legs, particularly at the knees. Initially I thought that I had cut the front legs off grain, but they aren’t wanting to twist, I just have those weird diagonal wrinkles. I think I need a full calf adjustment (dancing in 3 inch heels at over 200 beats per minute makes for good calf muscles), as I also have a fair amount of spare fabric behind my knees and they’re a bit snug around my calves. I did a bit of a cheap and nasty fix, pinching out fabric at the knee and letting out the seams at the calf, but next time I’ll do a proper full calf adjustment.

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I have under-bum wrinkles and some across the back of my thighs too, but I’m less worried about those to be honest. I can’t see them, and they don’t make things uncomfortable! I’ll look into ways to reduce it for the next pair.

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I am pretty happy with the pocket placement! I decided to leave the pockets plain, as I was just using navy top stitching thread, and because my darling Bernina was really not happy about sewing with top stitching thread, and kept packing a sad on me. I had to take the jeans into my local craft shop and use one of their modern Janome machines to top stitch the waistband and belt loops, and to sew the buttonhole. Surprisingly, the one thing my Bernina was happy to do with the heavier thread was sew bar tacks. I used bar tacks on the fly, of course, and also at the top corners of each of the back pockets, and at the inner corners of the welt pockets. Pretty much wherever you’d put rivets, I guess!

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I’m so stoked with these jeans! I’ve worn them all week, and they haven’t bagged out at all. The waistband is still sitting flush with my waist all the way around (not even gaping at my sway back!), which I think is down to a combination of a well drafted waistband, good recovery in the denim I picked (it’s from The Fabric Store, of course), and a good knit interfacing from Made Marion Craft. I really love the shape of these, and the cropped length is really cute (though I now have slightly sunburned ankles after a weekend spent outside). I took these photos yesterday morning before I headed out to the Homegrown music festival which was held on the waterfront. I can now confirm that they’ve stood up to some seriously sweaty, energetic, probably terrible dancing to some bands which I loved when I was at high school and university, and they also coped with another hot and crowded day at the Newtown Festival today. And they still haven’t bagged out! I definitely feel like I’m onto a winner. I definitely feel ridiculous for waiting this long to make jeans, I love that now I can actually wear a fully handmade outfit every day without thinking too hard about what I’m putting on. Clearly I need to make another pair…

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(so stretchy, so comfortable!)

A very French shirt

I really like Deer and Doe patterns, and when they released their spring/summer 2016 patterns I immediately bought both the Melilot Shirt and the Zephyr Dress. I meant to make the Melilot shirt up during the winter, but I just never managed to get it done…Happily I like the short sleeved version even more than the long sleeved one, so making it up for spring wasn’t a hardship!

  

I’m so happy with the way it turned out! I think its such a flattering shape, and the little round collar and the sleeve cuffs are so cute. I was a bit worried about the very curved side seams not hitting me at the right point, since I have a fairly high waist, but I threw caution into the wind and made it up as is in my good fabric. Thankfully it worked out pretty well! 
  

I had a bit of trouble getting the hem to sit nicely around those extreme curves. The instructions tell you to hem the fronts and back before sewing the side seams, but I was a bit wary of the length so I wanted to be able to try it on before I committed to hemming it! In the end I decided to leave the length as it is, though I might play around with it next time. I ended up sewing a line of basting stitches at 1/4 of an inch to help me fold it up, then folded it up the same again and topstitched it. Maybe I’ll try bias tape next time, I’m always happy with that finish!
  

There are some really lovely details in this pattern. The pockets are lined! I’ve only ever lined the pockets on a coat, but it does give a lovely smooth edge and makes it easier to get both pockets the same. Though in this busy fabric that isn’t such a major… I also really like that the collar on this shirt is a proper two piece with a collar stand, it sits really nicely and fits really well. I noticed when I was looking at the pictures of my M7351 shirtdress that the collar is really too big for my neck to be worn buttoned all the way up, but this one is a good size. 
  

One thing I wish I had done better is matching my thread colour to the fabric. I sewed the majority of this one in the evenings, and it wasn’t until I looked at my topstitching in daylight that I realised that it was really really white against the much more cream fabric. And then, instead of fixing it, I just carried on, and sewed the buttonholes in the same white thread. And of course, the button holes look even whiter and shinier than the topstitching… I wish I had waited and matched the thread, or that I had gone and fixed it before opening the buttonholes, but I’ll live with it! Those glaring white buttonholes will be a good reminder not to be lazy next time. I know you can’t see them in these photos, but I can definitely see them when I look down at the shirt!
  

The fabric is Atelier Brunette, French fabric for a French pattern! Last month there was a vintage fair in my local town hall, so I wandered down to have a look (hoping to find a pie dish, as I had just figured out that the one I was looking for in my kitchen actually belongs to my Mum, so was in her kitchen instead). Just inside the door was a pile of stunning bolts of French fabric, attatched to a stall that I realised was being run by Miss Maude. Thank god she was taking payment by automatic bank transfer (and thank god for banking apps!), because I would have been sad to miss out on this gorgeous cotton. I also bought a length of Atelier Brunette modal, so I’m sure that’ll be making an appearance this summer! The little black buttons came from my button stash, but I think they originally came from Made Marion, like most of my new buttons. I really like how they look on the fabric, though  sewing 11 button holes was a bit of a chore! 
  

Expect to see a few more of these over the summer! I really want to make a white silk version with sleeves, and I have a really lightweight cotton plaid that I’ve been planning to make into a button up shirt for over a year, so hopefully that’ll happen this summer too…

An almost there Bruyere…

I seem to be making some bad choices lately when it comes to matching fabric to pattern…

 
I’ve really liked the Bruyère pattern from Deer & Doe since it was released last year, and I decided I wanted a plaid flannel version when I was planning my sewing for this winter. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any plaid cotton (or wool) flannel in Wellington that I liked. Then I saw this plaid double gauze on Miss Matatabi, and snaffled it up.

 
Its so lovely and soft, its gorgeous fabric. Unfortunately it was a bit of a beast to work with! It frayed a lot, and the asymmetrical plaid was so hard to try to match up! And in hindsight, it was too thick for this shirt. There are 5 layers at the button bands, 6 at the top where the facing/collar are sewn in. Its really stiff at the front neckline! 

 
It wasn’t until I was playing with the scraps after I finished it that I realised that the two layers of gauze pull apart really easily. If I had pulled the backing off the button band, facing and collar pieces, it would have been much easier to sew. Shame I didn’t figure that out at the beginning!

  
I raised the waistline by an inch, because it was a bit blousy on my muslin (yes, I made a muslin! And I traced my pattern pieces! I don’t know what’s come over me), but I think it might be a bit much. In the picture below, my hands are at my natural waist, so I think maybe 1/2 an inch would have been a better amount to raise it. 

  

When I asked Monsieur what he thought of the finished shirt he said he thought it looked like a maternity Swanndri…though he quickly added that it looked very well made! Unfortunately, I think he’s kinda right. Especially when I saw the photos of the side view…

 
Not so flattering… 

I also had a bit of trouble with the pattern matching. The bodice is all matched up nicely, but I totally failed with the side seams of the skirt, and its a bit off along the front of the skirt too. The back and yoke matched up best!

  
Its not all bad though, I really like the pattern! I think I’ll have another go at making it in a lightweight cotton for summer. And the sleeves are the perfect length! I struggled a bit getting the sleeve plackets sewn (another place that would have benefitted from a single layer of gauze), but I’m happy with the way they’ve turned out.

  

I tried some new things with the construction, all of the seams are flat felled and I faced the waistband so its all lovely and neat inside.

 
Shame I didn’t use white thread in the bobbin, then it would be super tidy!

I’m a bit sad to say that this shirt probably won’t get a ton of wear, simply because it feels so stiff and ungainly at the neckline. And because the maternity bush shirt look isn’t quite what I’m going for… Though it would probably look pretty cute under a cropped sweater, maybe I should experiment with that..? 

Two Skirts, Three Hours

I have been sewing up a storm this long weekend (possibly literally, there is a torrential downpour occuring outside as I type), which is just as well because I was feeling a bit on the out with my sewing machine after a few recent mishaps. I recieved my parcel of Deer and Doe patterns in the mail last week (sewing mail is the best!), and I decided that the Brume Skirt looked like just what I needed to get my sewing enthusiasm back.

  
I was uncharacteristically well behaved this weekend, I actually traced my pattern! I’ve never done that before, but I was a bit worried about getting the size right on such a close fitting skirt. And then I made a muslin! Also very out of character. But I had this mustard ponte in my stash, so I thought I’d use it for a trial run before I cut into my lovely Tessuti ponte which I got as part of my Pajama Party prize. 

 
This is view A, the mini length. I’m pretty short, only 158cm tall, so its not really a mini on me! Its a good length though. I really love the lines in this pattern, the curved yoke is especially flattering! Sewing it was quite unlike any other pattern I’ve tried in a knit, but it was fun and very satisfying to see all those curved panels come together. I only needed to make one fitting adjustement, and that was to straighten out the seams down the front. 

  
I had a bit of fabric pooling where the points of the yoke met the centre panel, but that mostly disappeared once I shaved some of the curve off the panel. I really like this version, its incredibly confortable! Unfortunately, the ponte I used has started to stretch out already, after only a day. I think I’ll need some reinforcing elasting in the waistband before long…

 
See the difference in size?! It hasn’t stopped me from wearing it pretty much constantly since I finished it yesterday though… 

 After trying on the first version in its finished state I immediately moved on to number two. I made it up exactly the same way, without flattening out the curve in the front as the fabric felt firmer than the mustard version (and it was an easy adjustment to make after it was assembled anyway). I used the reverse of the fabric for the yoke, just because I thought it looked cool.

 

 This ponte is lovely, quite thick and firm feeling. The skirt is definitely closer fitting than the mustard version, and I get the feeling it won’t bag out around the waistband in the same way. I didn’t need to change the curve of the front panel, as there is enough tension around my hips to pull the fabric flat and stop any pooling, so that was good! I think this one looks dressier than the other one, more like something I could wear out in the evening. Still feels like pyjamas though!

 
Monsieur likes this version best. I thought it would be because its the most figure hugging (he thinks I always sew shapeless things), but apparently its because the contrast yoke looks like the batman symbol. Boys are weird…I do like the way the contrasting colour on the yoke highlights those awesome curved seams though!

 
So there we go, two skirts in just over three hours! I really loved sewing these, and I know they’ll get a tonne of wear. I would definitely recommend this pattern! Now I think I might need some merino Nettie bodysuits to wear under them, to stop any bunching up…
 

Festive sewing part 1: Party Dress!

Warning: This post contains an excessive amount of sparkle.

For the first time in six years, I get a holiday over The Holidays! I’m really looking forward to it, I’ve worked either Christmas or New Year for the last several years (the joys of working in a 24/7 job!), but now that I’ve sold my soul and gone to work in the private sector, we get to close for several weeks over the festive season. We also get invited to a big Christmas cocktail party, which has caused me some anxiety. I’m really not the small-talk-and-mingle type, and I find these sorts of social occasions can be stressful and exhausting! Of course, they can be lots of fun too, which is why I’m going. I’ve even made a new dress for the occasion!

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Now, this dress is outside of my comfort zone for a few reasons…its relatively short, its pretty shapeless, and its GOLD AND SHINY. But, I’m kind of loving it anyway! I modified my Deer and Doe Datura blouse pattern into a dress by just lengthening the side seams and straightening out the hem, it was super simple! I also cut the back on the fold, rather than making it button down the centre back, even though that would have been cute. i just felt like there was quite a lot going on with the fabric already!

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The fabric…holy crap, what a nightmare! I fell in love with it at The Fabric Store (of course) at the end of last summer, and knew I wanted it to be a Datura immediately. Its silk, with gold metallic threads forming the pattern of polka dots. I used what I decided was the reverse (gold with cream polka dots) for the yoke, and the ‘right’ side for the skirt. Unfortunately, it was the most stressful fabric I have ever sewn with! My needle kept catching on the gold threads, which were wider and firmer than the silk theads, and would pull them out of the weave and through to the other side of the fabric, leaving an empty stripe in the warp. You can kind of see what I mean in this photo…

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So that made things seriously unfun. It shows up more on the gold side of the fabric, of course, so I could see just how many flaws I was causing as I sewed! I also had a bit of drama trying to get the clever lining origami thing to work with the shoulder seams, I couldn’t match the instructions and the picture with what i had in front of me, which made for an irritating and frustrating 10 minutes. I got it eventually, and have written myself out detailed instructions for next time! I had a similar struggle the first time I made the Datura, so I should have learned from that! I hand sewed as much of this dress as I could, uncharacteristically, just to avoid the thread pulling. The lining is hand stitched down, and the hem is hand picked. All of the other seams are french seamed.

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Looking at this photo, I am forced to accept that I need to learn how to do a sway back adjustment. I can fudge my way through fitting the back of a garment which has a centre back seam, or a waist seam, but I have no idea where to start when its a seamless shift! I’ll add it to my list of fitting issues to resolve in the new year. I like it anyway, I can deal with a few back wrinkles and flaws in the fabric! I think it has quite a 60’s feel to it, which I like for the party season. Now I just need to convince myself that it isn’t too shiny and sparkly and short and gold to wear to my work Christmas do…

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One last photo, silly face but I want to show off my new favourite earrings! I asked Monsieur to take some photos showing some of the detail on the dress while I was wearing it, but I just ended up with photos of my arm pit (the armscye), and my neck and chin (the neckline), so I gave up. Sweet of him to try!