Another Shirtdress for Spring

I’ve had a bit of a sewing spree since the end of the University trimester, I’ve been enjoying spending my spare time in my sewing room (part of me is secretly glad that the weather has been pretty rubbish, because it means that I don’t need to feel bad about not fixing up our jungle of a garden). One thing that I really wanted to get done was a rayon dress made using the Helmi pattern from the latest Named collection. Helmi is a loose fitting dress with a curved hem and a concealed half button placket, and either a two piece collar or a simple band collar. The pattern also has a really interesting shirt variation, which is definitely on my radar now for Autumn/Winter!

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It’s definitely a loose fitting silhouette, and I have to admit that I thought it was probably going to be an unflattering disaster as I was sewing it. I was very surprised and very happy about how much I liked it when I tried it on after getting the sleeves in! I think the very soft and supple rayon helps it to drape more flatteringly that it would if it was made in a fabric with a crisper hand. This fabric is the same as the stuff I used for my Ogden Cami, and it’s just as lovely. I have another length in a different pattern in my stash, and I might end up buying some more! It behaves so well, and drapes and presses so nicely, it’s so good to sew.

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Like with all Named Patterns, there are some lovely details in this dress. I love the curved hem, it’s just short enough at the sides to stop it being heavy and frumpy, but not so short that I have to think about not flashing too much thigh as I move about! I also love the concealed button placket, it gives the front a lovely minimalist feel. The construction of it made me a bit confused when I was reading through the instructions, but once I had the piece in my hands it became clear. Typically, I think these hidden buttonholes may well be my best to date! I feel like I’m finally getting better at judging the right size of buttonhole to sew, and I’m getting much better at finishing them neatly too.

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I used plain black buttons for the placket, and they blend into the fabric nicely when the first few are left unbuttoned. For the collar button I used one of the brass buttons I’ve been hoarding off a RTW cardigan, I love them but I’ve never managed to find any similar in craft shops! I don’t think I’ll ever wear this one buttoned all the way up to the neck, it’s a bit too much fabric with the longer sleeves and hem!

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I felt like the sleeves looked a bit plain just hanging at elbow length, so I hitched them up slightly with a faux button loop. I just sewed a narrow rectangle of fabric and hand sewed it to the sleeve with another of the gold buttons, just high enough to catch the hem and add a bit of interest. It’ll be easy enough to remove them if I decide I want to do something else with them.

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This was a pretty simple sew, aside from the slightly more difficult concealed placket. The instructions are slightly more minimal than some other indie patterns, but they’re well illustrated and easy to follow. The only change I made, aside from my minor addition to the sleeves, was to top-stitch the collar stand and to take 1.5 cm off the length of the bodice (as usual). I chose to top-stitch all the way around the collar stand as the rayon looked a bit bubbly and soft without it, it sits much better now with that little bit of extra reinforcement. I did take a bit of a risk by hemming the skirt pieces separately before sewing them together and to the bodice, but after the trouble I had hemming the curve of my Melilot shirt hem I decided to follow the instructions and just hope that it wouldn’t be too long. It is longer at the back than I expected, but I like it anyway! The hem definitely sits better on this than it does on the shirt (following the instructions can be beeficial, who would have thought?).

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I like the way it looks with a belt as well, it makes it feel a bit more dressy. I think with a pair of heels I could get away with wearing this out for drinks or dinner, but with flats or even sneakers it would be fine for a casual day. I do love a dress which can do multiple shifts!

Grown up lady dress

You know how sometimes you get outfits that you can put on and immediately feel polished? Clothes that make you feel like you’ve got your shit together and can manage pretty much anything? I’m not exactly sure why, but thats how this dress made me feel when I wore it out yesterday. Like I was going to get stuff done! (I got lots of eating done, but thats another thing this dress is good for.)

  

This is the Kielo Dress from Named, with the sleeve add on they released earlier this year to make it winter friendly. I made it up in a cotton/lycra blend ponte from The Fabric Warehouse, I love the print! I realised when I was organishing my fabric a few months ago how few patterned fabrics I own (except for stripes, of course), so it was nice to use this one! 

  

The pattern was so simple to make up, once I got past the dreaded tracing/ adding seam allowance stage. The sleeve pattern incorperates a new armscye shape to trace as well, but it was all very straight forward. Sewing was simple as well, I didn’t make any changes for sewing a knit instead of a woven except for using my overlocker for the main construction. I sewed the darts with a straight stitch and used a twin needle for the hems and neckline. I really like the double ended darts in the back, it gives it such a nice shape. I thought I had increased their depth (and shaped the CB seam) enough to fit my sway back, but looking at these pictures there is still a bit of fabric pooling above and below the ties. Just as well I can’t usually see it!

I did make a few changes to the pattern itself, other than adding the sleeves and lopping about 10″ off the hem. For some reason I didn’t consider the distance between the shoulder and waist before I cut it out, so it did what every wrap dress I’ve ever tried on does and bloused terribly in the upper body if I tied it at my waist (or sat unflatteringly at the widest point of my hips if I tied it where the fabric wanted to go). Because of the shape of the wings I ended up with big scoops of fabric between my armpit and waist, not quite what I was going for! In desperation I ended up shorteneing the length of the wings by 2.5 inches on either side, tapering to nothing towards the hem. This helped reduce the excess of fabric, but does mean that they only just meet at the centre front, rather than the more dramatic overlapping shape they had before. But I’m much happier with the overall silhouette, so I’m ok with that!

  

Token blogger-in-a-Kielo-Dress shot! You can see that the wings look much shorter than every one elses…( I keep calling them wings in my head, how else should I describe them?) I felt like I was pulling a flasher pose here, hense the ridiculously hammy face!
  

I also changed up the neckline a bit, I felt it was too high with the long sleeves and relatively long hem. I just eyeballed a more scooped shape, about 2 inches lower at the centre front than how it’s drafted. I ended up drafting a facing for the neckline too, as I thought turning and stitching as instructed wouldn’t work on my now significantly more scooped out neckline (though I haven’t had great luck turning and stitching boat necklines either, to be honest). I treated the facing like I would a woven one, stitching and understitching it (though with a zig zag stitch rather than a straight stitch) and then topstitching it with the twin needle. I’m really happy with how it turned out, no waving or sagging to be seen!

   
 

The only downside to this dress is my incessant need to fiddle with it. I’m always smoothing the fabric under the wrapped sides, or adjusting the ties. Its not sitting perfectly in these photos either, probably because we’d just had lunch and I was full of delicious food and not worrying about it! I guess that makes this a more accurate representation of how it looks when being worn…

  

So there we go, my grown up dress! I think it must be the sleeves and the just below the knee length that make me feel like a proper adult… Does everyone else have clothes that make them feel like that? I’m sure it can’t just be me!

What’s black and white and black and white and black and white?

I seem to have come over all monochromatic recently. I’ve barely worn black clothes for nearly ten years, since I emerged from my mopey teenage goth years, and I can probably count on one hand the number of black clothes I’ve sewn for myself. But in the last few months I’ve bought several lengths of black fabric, and this is my second monochrome post in a row! Maybe I’ve finally got over the traumatic memories of those goth outfits…

  

This is another two for one post, because I’ve made and blogged both patterns before. The top is (of course) another Grainline Studio Lark tee, this time with cap sleeves and a boat neck. I used some 100% cotton that I picked up at Drapers Fabrics in Auckland when I was up there at the end of last year, and it is so soft and lovely! Being pure cotton it is starting to pill a little bit on one hip, where my bag rubs against it, which is a shame. I have enough fabric to make another one though, so if this one gets too shabby looking I’ll just replace it. Can’t just give up on my perfect striped tee!  
 
I took about 2″ off the length off this tee, at the lengthen/shorten line, and then took a deep hem, so I think its probably been shortened by at least 3″. I love the length it is now, just right for wearing untucked. The only thing I would change for next time would be to consider making a facing for the neckline. Turning and stitching would probably be fine for fabric with good recovery, but the 100% cotton does get a bit saggy with wear. I think a facing with some light knit interfacing would help it to hold its lovely shape.
  

So, onto the trousers! These are the Named Alexandria Peg Trousers, made up in a lovely wool crepe from The Fabric Store. I really wanted a ‘winter weight’ pair of these trousers, but realistically there are more spring/autumn weight and the Wellington wind cuts straight through the crepe! We’ve had some lovely fine weather here this autumn though, so they’ve been getting some decent wear.
  

I made them exactly the same as my rayon pair, except this time I used two gold eyelets at the centre front and ran some black grosgrain ribbon through the waistband. I didn’t pick very good elastic to use, it is very soft and I had a terrible time trying to keep it flat inside the waistband as I was topstitching it!
  

I made the pocket bags out of some scraps of black linen to help stabilise the stretchier crepe at the front pockets, and it seems to have worked really well, they aren’t bagging out or anything. I added the patch pockets on the back too, as they actually show up on this plain fabric! I loved sewing with the wool crepe, its so lovely and malleable. It is a tiny bit rough, but nothing major. The biggest downside to these pants is how much fluff sticks to them! Cat fur, thread, lint…its like wool crepe is a fluff magnet. I might have to buy shares in whichever company makes those sticky lint rollers. 
 
I got my little sister to take these photos after we had been out for lunch with Mum, its so nice to get some pictures away from my teal wall! She’s a very good photographer, but I still managed to be pulling terrible faces in about 75% of the photos. Then there are some gems like the one above… I do like this little side alleyway though, with pretty street art and trees growing out of the bricks. I really like this outfit too! Just goofy grins all round, really.
(As for what is black and white and black and white and black and white, its a penguin rolling down a hill. Obviously.)

(Not so secret) Secret Pyjamas

You know how people are always talking about how knit dresses and drapey trousers are so comfortable that they’re really secret pyjamas? I feel like these fit into that category, but with the (dubious) added extra of kinda looking like pyjamas too…
  

These are the Named Patterns Alexandria Peg Trousers, made up in a cute rayon crepe from the Fabric Store. I had bought the fabric with vague ideas to make a dress out of it, but when I bought the pattern in the Named advent calendar sale (which was awesome) I decided to put the two together instead. I really like the fabric, its light and airy and I think the drape works really well with the pattern. I do wish it wasn’t so crease-prone, but I just need to get over my hatred of ironing completed garments. (Does anyone else find that they quite enjoy pressing whilst sewing a garment, but as soon as the last stitch is tied off it becomes a huge effort to get it anywhere near the iron?)
  

I really like the pattern too, the pleating and pockets are a great combo (like on my Panthea Shorts, bit of a theme going on at the moment), and everything came together so smoothly. I made them up exactly as directed, I didn’t even have to shorten them which surprised me. I do wear them right at my waist though (thats just where I find elastic waistbands mose comfortable), so they would be too long if I wore them lower. 
  

The pockets combined with my extreme high-riding waist give me a serious case of unflattering-trouser-bum, but I’ll never wear anything tucked into an elastic waistband anyway so its ok! Good to know that the pockets are too high for me though. If I made them again I would consider skipping the back pockets, especially if I used a patterned fabric. I keep thinking that they would be really nice made up in a lightweight wool crepe or similar for Autumn.
  

My biggest problem with these is that I’m not sure how to wear them. I’ve tried them with plain fitted tee shirts, with stripes and with my lace Scout tee, and I’m just not sure. I like them best as shown here, with my grey Lark tee, so maybe I should make a few more plain ones? I want to lessen the pyjama look! Some slightly A-line sleeveless tops like the Tessuti Ruby might work too. What do you think? I’ve been wearing them around home, but I keep hesitating about wearing them out of the house, and I really want to!

  

Meh…

One of the things Me Made May taught me this year was that I could do with some long sleeved tops that are slightly more fancy than just tee shirts. After my success with the Named Augusta hoodie, I went back and looked more closely at their past collections. The one before Ticket doesn’t have anything that particularly appeals, but their first collection has some really nice tops in it. This is the Kanerva Button Back shirt, made up in a remnanat of plaid brushed cotton and a scrap of spotty silk.

 
I wish I could say I loved it, but i really dont. Its just so meh! I like the idea, and I think the pattern is a good one, but this version is decidedly uninspiring. I like the fit of the bodice, I think that turned out well. I used bias tape as a facing around the neckline, and I think its sitting really nicely. 

  

I didn’t have enough fabric to bother too much about matching the plaid, but its pretty close across the side seams, and it matches across the back. My posture in these pictures is terrible, the back doesn’t usually balloon out like that!

  

I think the thing thats really putting me off here is the peplum. I’ve never really been a big fan, but this one isn’t flouncy or gathered so I thought it would be ok. And if it was in the same fabric as the top it might have been, but I’m really not loving the sheer black. Its also sitting really weirdly around my backside…In fact, after looking at these pictures for the past 10 minutes, I think I might take it off, and just have a cropped top to wear with my high waisted skirts.

 
I do like the pattern, I’d like to find a striped fabric with some stretch (the pattern recommends a stretch woven, but this plaid is completely rigid which may be adding to my dislike of it) to make a cropped version like the example on the Named site. I also think it’d be nice in a semi-sheer fabric for summer, with no sleeves. One thing I will do next time is add an invisible zip into the side seam! I can button myself into this one ok because I have gibbon arms, but it takes a bit of contortionism. Getting out of it is even harder, but I managed (eventually).

So there we go, a fail post. I’m pretty lucky with my sewing generally, but I don’t think there is any way to rescue a bad idea! Poor fabric choice, poor fabric combination. Hopefully next time will be better! 

Augusta for Easter

Hope you all had a good long Easter weekend! I was lucky enough to spend it in the wilds of the Wairarapa with a bunch of awesome people, having a three day long nerd-out about Balboa (my dance of choice, if you haven’t heard me wax lyrical about it before). It was pretty excelent, we stayed in a little retreat in a remote corner of a huge block of farmland with no cellphone reception and no neighbours to complain about the wild gypsy jazz blaring from the house at all hours of the day and night. It was even pretty warm and sunny this year, unlike the same weekend last year which started in the middle of a howling storm and involved a powercut. But with this view, who cares about lights?

 

The Augusta Hoodie from Named jumped out at me as soon as I saw their latest collection, and then I saw the awesome version that Lindsay made, and I was sold. For some slightly irrational reason I decided that I absolutely had to have my Augusta Hoodie finished in time to take away with me, or I would be cold the whole time. There was a serious hole in my wardrobe for a mid-weight outer layer, I have cardigans and fine merino tops, and then I have my wool coats or puffer jacket, but nothing in between (which I actually wear), so I suppose it was a practical ‘must have’! I did get Monsieur to take some photos of me wearing it in an appropriately rugged location, but unfortunately I’m squinting horribly into the sun or my hair or the hood is being blown around in a big way, so I’m having to suppliment those photos with some taken in the controlled conditions in my sewing room…

  

I bought some amazing thick black and white plaid merino wool from The Fabric Store, and matched it with a remnant of plain black boiled merino knit which I bought in mid summer because it was so soft and squishy that I didn’t want to put it down! I love the fabric combo so much, its lovely and warm and fuzzy but also looks pretty sharp and stylish. Or I think it does, anyway. Augusta was really fun to make, once I got over the shock of having to trace the pattern and add my own seam allowances. What’s the deal with that? I am too lazy for that shit! I’ve never used a Named pattern before, so I was a bit unprepared. But there are so many cool details in this pattern to make up for the extra prep time. I LOVE the curved two part raglan sleeves, the fit around my shoulders so nice, much better than any other raglan sleeve I’ve tried. And the piping running down the seam is a really cool touch. I used some black satin piping, which has the added bonus of looking a bit like leather (if you squint). Unfortunately I ma a bit of a balls up when I was cutting out the sleeves. I was trying to be so good, and cut the sleeve pieces out in a single layer so that I could get the pattern matching up across the seam, but I cut both sleeves out with the pattern facing up the whole time! I had just enough fabric to recut the second sleeve out the right way around, but not to match the plaid. Bit of a bummer, but at least I didn’t have to buy more fabric…

 

(Sorry for the overexposed photos, black is hard to photograph!)

I also love the curved seam lines which join the sleeves to the front and back, and the rounded off ribbing at the centre front. I don’t know what it is, but it just looks more polished and professional than if they were all straight seams! The metal press studs down the front are the last little detail which really lifts this out of the realm of an ordinary hoodie, they’re so cool. And fun to put in, any excuse to get the hammer out! Unfortunately I didn’t realise I had only bought a pack of five, there seemed to be so many bits in the packet (four pieces per snap adds up), so I don’t have one at the very top yet. I almost did something incredibly stupid whilst setting the press studs, and didn’t poke the holes all the way through the facing as well! Thankfully I noticed that they’d be a bit hard to do up if the bits that are supposed to snap together were separated from each other by two layers of wool before I started hammering…that would have been a bit of a disaster.

 

The last ‘best part’ of this top (are you sick of the gushing yet??) is the hood. Its enormous! I lined it with some black jersey knit I had in my stash, as I didn’t want a layer of wool rubbing against my hair and making it all static-y and fluffy.

 

See? Massive! But it kept the rain off my glasses today as I ran to the bus, so I’m not complaining. The only thing I would change about this hoodie would be to make the pockets a bit bigger. I like how they’re construted, its lovely and neat on the inside (which I never thought I would say about welt pockets in an unlined garment), and the topstitching keeps them from flapping around. But I have pretty small hands, and they only just fit into the pockets when I have them fisted. Definitely no room for my phone! I made the pocket out of the slightly stretchier plaid knit I used for the sleeves and hood, so that helps me to cram my hands in, and looks cool from the inside. I think that this is the first knit garment I have ever sewn using my machine as much as my overlocker, it was a bit of a weird feeling topstitching and understitching a knit, even when it is as stable as this.

 

(Wearing my Megan Nielsen Maker tee, I love it! And its supporting a very worthwhile cause, go and check them out)

So over all I would give this pattern two thumbs up. It was fun to sew, it fits beautifully, its full of really nifty, professional little details and I’ve barely taken it off since I finished it last Thursday. I’m so happy with it! Now I just need to figure out the best way to clean all of the incredibly fine black wool dust out of my overlocker…