Big Orange Trousers

I didn’t intend to be posting again so soon, but I realised I couldn’t let the year end without blogging about one of my favourite garments of 2017! It should come as no great surprise that it’s a pair of Flint Trousers, a pattern which has become quite the TnT for me. I loved the pattern as soon as Megan Neilson released it, but I’ve surprised myself with how wearable I’ve found them, and how much I love swanning about in them. I thought they’d be an occasional wear when I made my first pair, but I’ve now made four pairs (three sets of trousers and one pair of shorts, yet to be blogged), and I’ve been living in them this summer. My black swishy ones are a favourite for the hot, humid weather we’ve been having, but these ones are a surprise favourite for dressing up or down, or whenever I feel like I need a bit of extra confidence!

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The fabric is a gorgeous cotton sateen from The Fabric Store, which I bought in winter intending to make some high waisted pegged trousers (I still can’t find a pattern for what I want, suggestions appreciated!), but changed my mind and made these when I got back from the UK after seeing cropped, wide legged trousers on so many stylish ladies over there. I finished these in October, I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get photos of them!

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I love the colour so much! I’m surprised at how wearable I’ve found this pair, given how big and orange they are. I love them with my cropped Willow Tanks, but they look good with any of my striped tee shirts, and with most of my Ogden Cami’s as well. Maybe terracotta is a secret neutral? I wore them to my work Christmas party (the one I made my Eve dress for, but which I couldn’t wear because the weather was rubbish) with this striped Willow and some black heels, and then I wore them again for Christmas day with my cropped black Willow (I was planning to wear my Eve dress then too but the weather was, once again, rubbish). I felt pretty fancy and very comfortable both days!

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I had a terrible time trying to find a pair of buttons that worked on this colour, until I remembered that I had two bamboo flower buttons from Arrow Mountain left over from another project. I thought they might be a bit small, but I think they work OK. I did make the buttonholes a tiny bit short, so squeezing the irregular shape of the flowers through them can be a bit of an effort! They’re loosening up with wear though, thankfully…

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I’ve got a wrinkle of fabric just below the waistband on this pair which doesn’t show up on my crepe pair. I think it’s because this is a stiffer, more tightly woven fabric than the poly crepe of my first ones, so it doesn’t drape nicely around my sway back. I didn’t notice it until I had hand stitched down the waistband, and it doesn’t bother me that much, so I haven’t fixed it. I did take a wedge off the top CB of the pattern, tapering to nothing towards the side seam, before I made my black pair, and that seems to have fixed it! I really don’t have anything else to say about these that I haven’t said in my other Flint posts, I just really like them and wanted to get them up on the blog so that I could include them in my Top 5 favourites post…

I hope you’re all enjoying the holiday season, however/whatever you celebrate. I’ve eaten way too much over the past few days, finished one of my christmas books already, watched Die Hard and some Harry Potter movies, and napped with the cats in the sun. It’s been good so far! Happy holidays and see you in 2018.

 

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Fancy Pants

It’s party season! I seem to have more invitations this year than usual (that’s not to say I have hundreds, but as a card-carrying introvert I find having something on most weekends is quite a lot of socialising!), so I’ve been looking to make some separates which can do double duty as party wear and for every day. With excellent timing, Drapers Fabrics in Auckland contacted me a few weeks ago to ask if I’d like to collaborate with them on a project. I’m usually pretty reluctant to do sponsored content on my blog, but I’ve bought from Drapers in the past and I love the quality and variety of their fabrics, so I felt confident about teaming up with them! The usual disclaimer then: The fabrics used in this post were kindly supplied by Drapers Fabrics, but all opinions are honest and are my own.

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I decided I really wanted a pair of swishy Flint trousers, in a lighter weight fabric than my heavy grey crepe pair, and some cami tops to wear with them. I had been looking for some tencel twill, as I keep reading such glowing reviews of it online, but I’ve been unable to lay my hands on any in stores here. Luckily, Drapers Fabrics stocks a beautiful viscose twill (called Vivi), which sounded perfect. I asked for some advice from Lulu, who was very helpful when communicating with me for the collaboration, and she agreed that it would be the perfect drape and weight for a pair of swishy trousers. It’s so lovely and soft!

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This is actually my 4th time using the Flint Trouser pattern, but it’s only the second pair which has made it to the blog (bad blogger!). I made a pair of chambray shorts to take to the UK, and I’ve also made a pair in cotton sateen which I’ll post about later. This is the first pair I’ve made with the tie at the waistband though, I thought it would be a nice touch with this fluid fabric. I really like the way it looks, especially with a tucked-in top! Even with a cropped top like this, the tie isn’t lumpy or weird underneath it, which is nice. I was worried it would only work with something fitted up top.

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The top is a cropped version of the Grainline Willow Tank, the same as my striped version in this post. I was trying to pick between a few printed woven options on the Drapers Fabrics online store for another Ogden Cami, but when I saw Sheena, a linen/rayon blend, I decided it would make an excellent Willow Tank instead. It’s crisp and fairly stiff, so it holds the flared silhouette of the Willow perfectly, and I love the texture that the blend of fibers gives the fabric. It has a pattern of sheer and opaque lines making up a subtle plaid pattern, but the bubbly texture looks more like giant seersucker. I wondered if I would have to wear a top underneath it, but it isn’t so sheer that I’m worried about it! It makes the pattern more obvious when there is a different colour underneath it too, of course. I’ve made the Willow tank several times now, but this is the first time that I’ve made it with the bindings rather than my ‘self-drafted’ facing pieces. Because of the sheerness of the fabric I thought the bindings would look better! I used bias strips of the viscose twill that I had left over from my trousers, as I thought Sheena was probably a bit crisp to bend around the neckline and arm holes nicely. Vivi behaved beautifully on the bias, and ironed nicely, so it was a good choice!

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I’m so happy with both of these garments, I think they fill my brief of separates which can be worn to parties or casually with other pieces perfectly! I think they look dressy and elegant worn together, especially with heels and fancy jewellery as I’m wearing them here, but I can easily imagine the trousers with a striped tee shirt and some flats, or the top with my high waisted jeans or with shorts. It’s been a long time since I’ve worn an all-black outfit, but I think the mix of textures and the drape of the trousers softens the severity of so much black.  I’m looking forward to wearing this outfit out somewhere fancy.

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(pity me for my terrible sun burn tee shirt lines…)

So! I would definitely recommend either of these fabrics, as well as Drapers Fabrics online store. Drapers Fabrics have been generous enough to give me a discount code for my readers as well, use FIFTYTWOFANCIES at checkout for 15% off all full priced fabrics. They offer an online swatch service, which is awesome for buying fabric online when you’ve never seen it before, and I’ve found them really helpful and responsive to emails and direct messages over Instagram. They’ll also respond to queries through their Facebook page, if that’s your thing! Drapers Fabrics also offer a layby service, where you can spread the cost of your purchase over 6 payments. I’m going to shamelessly take advantage of my own discount code and order some more of the viscose twill, as my mum wants a pair of matching Flint Trousers, and I’d love a dress out of it too. I’m also eyeing up some of their striped Japanese knit fabric (probably Wonda, but they also have Nadia. Tough choice…), because you know I can never have too many striped tee shirts…

Rocky Bottoms

I often buy patterns that take my fancy as soon as I see them, but I don’t often bump them up to the top of my sewing queue. The Named Minttu Swing Top was one example of a pattern I bought and made immediately, and apparently the Megan Nielsen Flint Pants are another!

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I have to admit, these trousers are pretty far outside my usual comfort zone! I tend to go for close fitting garments on my bottom half, skinny jeans and pegged trousers are my standard fare. Cropped wide leg trousers are definitely an anomaly in my wardrobe, I still think they’re probably too fashionable and “cool girl” for me! I loved the samples and the line drawings though, and then I found this slate grey crepe for $3 p/m at The Fabric Warehouse sale and thought I should push myself and give them a go (also, slate+flint=rocky bottoms! Terrible pun, but I’m not deleting it…).

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The pattern sewed up really quickly and easily, the lack of zipper or complicated closure definitely helped to speed things up! Instead, the waistband opens at the left pocket, with the pocket itself acting as a kind of gusset to let you in and out of the trousers, and is held closed by two buttons (or by really cute ties, which I am definitely going to try when I make the shorts version next summer!). I made up a straight size small, and I think the fit is really good. I did have to take an inch off the bottom, and I used a 2 inch hem allowance, but I’m only 158cm tall (5’2″ ish), so that’s to be expected. I considered taking a bit more off the hem, but I couldn’t decide if they looked funny shorter or not. What do you think of the length?

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This crepe fabric was a pretty good pick for these trousers I think! Its lovely and heavy and swishy, which I think helps them not look too overwhelming or clownish. It’s pretty thick, so I did have to grade the seams at the waistband pretty enthusiastically, especially around the pleats and pockets. It’s also polyester (I know, I know, but it’s so drapey and nice, and it was so cheap!), so it doesn’t crease or press very well, so the front pleats aren’t exactly crisp, but that’s ok. it also means they won’t wrinkle with wear, which is a win!

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As usual, I didn’t exactly make things easy for myself. I somehow managed to snip a hole right in the middle of the right front piece as I was cutting it out. I don’t know how I managed it, I must have been waving my scissors around like a maniac, but it was instant panic stations because I definitely didn’t have enough fabric to cut out another leg! In the end, I fused a scrap of interfacing to the hole, and then hand mended it. Thank god it’s mostly hidden in the pleat, because it’s far from an invisible mend! Hopefully most people shouldn’t be looking too closely at my pleats…

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Realistically this is probably how I’ll be wearing my Flint Trousers most of the time, with a tee shirt and flats (the tee shirt is a long sleeved Lark Tee, in a lovely cotton/lycra from Tessuti. I’ve made a few Larks which haven’t made it to the blog yet, I’ll try to sneak them into other posts!), but I think they look nice dressed up with heels and a cami or other fancy top too. Once I have a job which requires grown up clothing rather than pyjamas scrubs, I think they’d be a good addition to a work wardrobe! I think I’ll make another Nettie Bodysuit to wear with these, anything to stop my top wrinkling up underneath them.

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Apologies for these pictures being a bit dark, it’s so gloomy today! The clocks went back for winter in New Zealand overnight, so while I was pleased to get a bonus hour, I’m also bummed that now its going to be getting dark by 5.30-6pm! I need to get a brighter lightbulb for the lamp in my sewing room so that I can do stuff in the evenings…

‘Locked and loaded

Its finally here!

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I’ve been talking about making a long sleeved merino version of the Megan Nielsen Briar top since my first post on this blog, and here she finally is! Just in time for another cold snap. Its like I planned it this way…

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The most exciting thing about this top is that its the first thing i’ve ever made on an overlocker! I’m borrowing one from my not-quite-MIL, and it was surprisingly easy to figure out how to work. The only thing that freaked me out was how expensive the thread was! It cost me over $40 for the four cones of polyester thread, I almost passed out at the till! Next time I’ll look at spotlight, rather than the local craft supplies shop, and see if its any cheaper…

I only made a few changes from the first version I made, the major one was taking almost two inches out of the centre back. It fits much more snugly across the back of my shoulders now, which is nice. The merino is also slightly more stretchy than the cotton I used for version 1. I used the neck binding option again, just because I prefer how it looks. I should try making a standard neckband one day! Instead of putting a pocket on my Briar, I used the curved pocket pattern piece and cut two out of some super thin, soft leather to use as shoulder patches.

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I topstitched the leather down just using standard cotton and my usual machine needle, as the leather was so fine and soft that I didn’t feel like I needed anything special! I really like the way the leather looks with the merino, it lifts it up a bit, and makes it less ordinary.

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The only part of this top that I’m less than thrilled with is the hem, its just a bit wobbly. The bobbin tension seems to have been a bit off, as there is a bit of a pucker between the lines of stitching from the twin needle. i’m not entirely sure how that happened, as the sleeve hem is perfect, and I didn’t fiddle with anything between sewing those and the hem! I may unpick it and re-sew it, I’ll see how much it annoys me when I’m wearing it! Its a brilliant pattern, I’m sure this won’t be my last Briar…

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I’m so excited about my overlocker success, its going to make my plan of a winter snuggled up in many layers of merino wool much more achievable!

My finished Briar

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I actually finished my Briar several days ago, but we’ve had the most ridiculous stormy weather (for mid summer) so I hadn’t had a chance to get any photos until yesterday afternoon, when the sun finally appeared! I’m so pleased with how it turned out, it was such an easy pattern to follow. I can’t believe I wasted so much time avoiding knit fabric, it turned out to be just fine to sew. The fabric I chose is so soft and drapey, its lovely to wear. I ended up cutting the hem straight, as I just wanted something really basic. I also used the neck binding option the pattern offers, rather than a neck band, which I think looks really nice. (Seriously, i can’t get over how well this turned out, its going to be in high rotation in my wardrobe this summer!) My only major mistake was sewing on the pocket, I was a bit over eager to get going and didn’t really think about where I was putting it. Once I had it all beautifully sewn down, I held the front piece up to my chest and realised that it was so far around the side of my breast that it was practically in my armpit! Not ideal. When I unpicked it, there were still needle holes from the old seam, but they seem to be fading back into the fabric. Lesson learned, I’ll pin, check and then sew next time!

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(Fur ball Oscar wouldn’t be shifted, so he ended up in the photo too)

I’m already planning my next Briar! I definitely think I’ll make a long sleeved version up in merino wool before it starts to get cold again. For the next one, I think I’ll go down a size, and look at taking an inch or so out of the centre back, as there’s quite a lot of spare fabric there. I don’t mind that in this one, as its a nice loose shape anyway, but for winter I’d like it to be slightly more tailored. I have really narrow shoulders, so I have to do that for most top patterns. I’ll have to practice with my topstitching with the twin needle first, some of my hemming is a bit wobbly…

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Bonus shot with both of the fur balls!

A New Years Resolution

Happy New Year! I’m super excited about my first crafty item, I’m sewing my first ever knit garment! I’m using the awesome Megan Nielsen Briar pattern to make a tee shirt. I found a beautiful cream knit with a metallic copper polka dot at The Fabric Store a few weeks ago, and decided I needed to overcome my fear of knits. And so far its going pretty well! Sewing with a twin needle is much simpler than I thought, and my ancient Bernina is coping magnificently ( seriously, its an early 1960’s Bernina 730 Record, it belonged to my Nana. I love it to bits, but I think it should be classed as an antique!). I’ll hopefully have it finished in the next couple of days, and hopefully the weather will clear up so that I get a chance to wear it!