Miss Fisher goes to Hogwarts

Happy New Year everyone! I’m writing this in a few stolen minutes between wedding prep and heading away to spend New Years Eve at the beach with some friends, so forgive any typos! I’m not on the cocktails yet, I promise…I’m also not parading around in silk velvet, but I really wanted to get this final post for 2018 up! This was my second garment made for the #sewfrosting challenge over on instagram, and I’ve finally got some halfway decent photos. Silk velvet isn’t so easy to photograph, it tends to look like a big navy black hole, so I’ve had to do some fiddling with the contrast etc. Hopefully you can still get the idea!

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This is one of the more ridiculously luxurious things I’ve ever made! When a 3 metre remnant of navy silk velvet popped up on the Drapers Fabrics Instagram page I bought it without much of a plan for it. I was initially thinking it would be a dress of some sort, but then I kept thinking it might be more practical as a piece of outerwear (I’m using practical in a relative sense here, obviously). I nearly made it into a Kochi kimono, but then when I made my first Sapporo Coat I thought it would be very lush as one of those…

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…and I was right! It’s so soft and heavy and slippery, it feels like sometimes if I move too fast I’ll leave it behind like a cartoon character, but it feels lovely to wear and I feel very dramatic and elegant in it. I thought cutting it out would be a major pain, but it was actually very well behaved throughout the cutting and sewing process! I wrapped my tailors ham in a big scrap of velvet and used that when I was pressing the seams so I didn’t crush the pile, but for the most part I managed to get away with blasting it with steam and finger pressing the seams open. The lining was almost more trouble to sew than the velvet, I used a heavy viscose satin twill from The Fabric Store and it kept trying to escape. It’s navy with violet threads streaked through it, which I utterly failed to capture in these photographs but which looks pretty in person!

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This version is obviously much less structured than my wool version, and I made a couple of changes to account for that. I hand sewed some tape along the diagonal seams on the fronts, which runs along the open edge of the pocket bags. They still drape open, which I quite like the look of in the velvet, but hopefully that’ll help them to keep their shape a bit more and not stretch out. I also substituted all iron on interfacing for sewn in silk organza, which was a bit of a faff but seems to have worked ok. I do wonder if I should have used more, or doubled it up in some places, as the collar and the front edges still collapse under the weight of that velvet draping. But then, I think any more structure might have looked strange with the velvet? I’m not sure, and I’m definitely not going back in to add more!

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I think it had a very art deco-ish cocoon coat vibe in the velvet, especially from the back! When I showed it to Hamish he said it was a bit Hogwarts-y, so not quite the Phryne Fisher look I was aiming for, but I think art deco witch works quite well! I also think Phryne Fisher and Minerva McGongall would have had excellent adventures together, I would definitely watch that show…

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Funnily enough, this isn’t my first silk velvet coat NYE post on this blog, I posted about my velvet Tessuti Tokyo jacket way back on my first blogging New Years Eve! I had hair! and I had only been sewing for a year or so, and had no idea what I was getting into with silk velvet. It turned out alright though, all things considered…

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A little bit of Frosting

I follow Drapers Fabrics in Auckland on Instagram, and every so often they post a remnant for sale in their insta-stories. Usually I manage to resist, but when I saw this delicious blush and mustard abstract silk crepe de chine pop up I messaged them and bought it without a second thought! I’m obsessed with this colour combination at the moment (see also: my Wiksten Kimono), and I’ve been in desperate need of some ‘nice’ tops to wear when I don’t want to be full on dresses up but also don’t want to just be in a tee shirt (any one else struggle with that in-between dress code?).

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I waffled a bit about what pattern to pick for this fabric, but then I remembered seeing Chloe (@faburikku_) post about her Papercut Patterns Kyoto tee which she made in a woven. I thought the ruffled sleeves would be lovely and floaty in this silk, so I threw caution to the wind and cut it out…

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And it worked! I didn’t make any changes to the size, as it’s a pretty loose fit (and my knit version had plenty of negative ease through the bust), but I did draft a facing for the neckline. I also had to crop it by several inches, as the hem wouldn’t fit over my hips with no stretch, but I think the cropped length really suits the shape of the pattern. It balances out those ruffles a little bit!

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I used French seams throughout, remembering too late (as I always do) that Papercut uses a 1cm seam allowance. That means my French seams are lovely and small, but does add to the fiddle factor! I rolled the edges of the ruffles and the sleeves on my machine, but I did the hem with the blind hem stitch, as I wanted a bit more heft to the bottom edge.

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I also got a bit fancy with my facing. The silk is so fine that I didn’t want a rolled seam or an overlooked edge showing though where the edge of the facing was finished, so I sewed the facing and some super lightweight fusible interfacing with the wrong sides together, then trimmed the seam allowance, flipped them right sides out, and pressed to fuse the interfacing to the facing. It’s not invisible, but it has a much softer edge than if I had finished it another way.

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I’m so happy with how this top turned out! I think it fills the gap in my wardrobe perfectly, and I love the way the silk feels. In fact, it turns out that this is really pretty fancy silk, because I spotted a whole rack of garments made out of it when I walked past the Juliette Hogan store in Wellington a few weeks ago! Juliette Hogan makes gorgeous but eye watering-ly expensive clothes, and the ones made out of this silk seem to be priced at upwards of $400. I wonder if I would have chopped into my remnant so happily without making a muslin if I had known? Just as well it worked out so well… I’m considering this top the first garment for my entry into the #sewfrosting challenge, because the fabric is apparently so fancy and because a silk tee seems pretty frosting-like! I’m still up to my elbows in velvet dust working on my other garment, so stay tuned…

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I’ll also talk briefly about my trousers in these photos, they’re a pair of Named Alexandria Peg Trousers in a linen chambray from The Fabric Store. I’ve made this pattern twice before (here and here) but neither pair is still in my wardrobe, for one reason or another. I really love this pair though! The linen is soft and cool, and I think it suits the pattern really well. I can see them getting so much wear over the summer!

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The fit on these trousers is great, I should use the crotch curve to adjust less well fitting patterns! I also love the pleat-and-pocket combo. And elastic waists are always a good thing. I did the two rows of top stitching around the elastic waistband, but just looped the twill tape through the two buttonholes and tied it in a bow instead of threading it around the whole waistband.

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Is anyone else furiously sewing up their #sewfrosting entries? The end of November seems to have crept up super fast!

Floral Meridian Dress

I always love it when Papercut Patterns release a new collection, even though it means I have to immediately re-arrange my entire sewing list to accommodate the new patterns that jump to the top of my queue! This time I was lucky to get a sneak peek of the patterns- I responded to an Instagram tester call, and made up the Sierra Jumpsuit. It’s a super cool pattern, but that’s not what I’m posting about today! I haven’t moved past the muslin stage with the jumpsuit yet, but once the collection was released I nabbed myself a copy of the beautiful Meridian Dress and immediately sewed it up for my upcoming work Christmas party.

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The dress came together really easily, but has some clever techniques and drafting to make the front wrap portions of the dress. I did have a bit of trouble figuring out how to shorten the bodice, as the front pattern piece is a pretty weird shape, and I probably didn’t do the best job, but when it’s all wrapped up it’s hard to tell if there’s anything amiss! I considered using french seams to sew this up, but in the end I just went with overlocking them and pressing them open. I wouldn’t have been able to use a french seam for the centre front or back seams, so I figured I might as well treat them all the same! I did the hems with a blind hem stitch on my machine, I love that finish.

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I think the back is just as pretty as the front! The invisible zipper finished half way up the back bodice, leaving a keyhole and button and loop to close the top of the dress. I used a small fabric covered button, and I think it’s turned out pretty cute! I really like the length of the ties as well, they’re really well proportioned with the length of the skirt. The pleats on the front and back skirt help to give it enough wearing ease and swishy-ness to be comfortable, but the skirt still feels slim and modern to me.

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Before I saw the patterns I had bought myself a length of this gorgeous Atelier Brunette viscose pique from Miss Maude Fabrics, and once I saw the patterns I knew it would be a perfect match for the Meridian dress! It was lovely to sew with, it’s really light and floaty but also fairly stable. It didn’t seem to want to slip off the table or out from under my pins like some silky fabrics do! I do wonder if it camouflages the details of the pattern a bit though, the wrap front and the pleats in the skirt aren’t as obvious as they would be in a smaller print or a plain fabric. And I’ve only just noticed that I’ve cut the front skirt piece upside down to the rest of the pieces, I didn’t think the print was directional but those big pale pink loopy flowers are definitely up the other way on the rest of the dress!

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I’ve been playing around with different ways to wear the wrap front, the top picture is just wrapped around my waist as shown in the sample photos, but the second picture is the ties knotted together in the front and then tied in the back. I really like the second way as well, it’s hard to tell in the photos but it gives the bodice a slightly looser, more blousy fit and changes the overall silhouette of the dress.

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I love this dress! I love the shape and the length and the sleeves, I love the weight of the fabric and the print and the colours. I feel really good in it, and I know I’m going to get a bunch of wear out of it! Now I’ve just got to get going with my Sierra Jumpsuit, and also the Palisade Pants…and maybe the Pinnacle top too…

 

Marshmallow Coat

Hi team! I’m having a bit of a sewing hiatus at the moment, aside from finishing a few bits off. I really need to put my head down and get some solid work done on my research project, I need to hand it in next month! I’ve finished the data collection phase, and I’ll hopefully be done with my data analysis this weekend…then I just need to finish writing the damn thing. I’m really looking forward to mid October! But in the meantime I have a few new things to post to keep things ticking over here.

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This is what I’m affectionately calling my marshmallow coat, which I’m sure doesn’t need explaining! It’s the Papercut Patterns Sapporo Coat, a pattern which I had admired on Instagram (where there are some amazing versions!), but had never really felt the need to make. I was sure it would look too oversized and daft on me, and the fact that it has no front closures made me think it would have limited wear-ability in Wellington. Then I got the opportunity to try on the beautiful grey wool version made by Gabrielle, and I flat out fell in love with it! It is huge and oversized, but in a dramatic and elegant way, and I had bought the pattern and was cutting it out before I knew it.

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Look at those beautiful swooshing seams! I had a lot of fun sewing this coat up. It’s a big but pretty simple project, as far as coats go. The sewing is all simple, with it’s dropped sleeves and grown-on facings and pocket bags, but each seam seems to go on forever! I made a couple of simple alterations, based on what Gabrielle had done with hers. I made the smallest size, and took an inch off the top of the sleeve and from the armscye, to shorten the sleeve by 2 inches total. I wanted the bracelet length sleeves from the sample photo, and they would have covered my wrists as drafted. I also opted to line the sleeves with my lining fabric rather than the wool I used for the outer, which cut down on bulk and made the coat feel lighter overall. Finally, I ran some seam tape along the diagonal front seam, which will hopefully help the pockets retain their shape.

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I used a blush pink wool/cashmere blend which I’ve had in my stash for over a year, it originally came from The Fabric Warehouse. I really love the colour, but I struggled a bit to match it to a pattern. I was seriously planning to use it to make a Gerard Coat from Republique du Chiffon, but in the end I’m glad I went with Sapporo! The wool behaved beautifully, of course, it sews and presses like a dream. It does crease a bit, as you can see in these pictures after a day of wear, but I can live with that!

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I lined it with another stash fabric, a Liberty Tana Lawn from The Fabric Store. It’s so smooth and lovely! I’m glad I finally used it for something, and I think it looks really pretty with this pink. And how nice are those mitered corners? This really is a lovely pattern to sew. Because I was having such a nice time sewing this I decided to pull out all of the stops and use one of the beautiful “HANDMADE” labels that I bought from Arrow Mountain to finish it off. It’s subtle, but I love it!

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I’m not going to lie, when I finished it and put it on for the first time I was worried that I just looked like a big pink lump. But after wearing it for a day (and getting a few complements from strangers on it!) I decided I really loved it. Funny how that happens sometimes! I’ve only managed to wear it out a few times since I finished it a couple of weeks age, the weather has been less than ideal recently, but I think it’ll be perfect for Spring and for Summer mornings. I’m looking forward to getting out and about in it!

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Rise and Fall

An alternative title for this post could be “Sewing clothes I hate wearing to see if I like them more once I’ve made them myself”, but I thought that was a bit of a mouthful. See, I have a bit of a conundrum, I hate having a cold neck (or even worse, having a cold breeze blowing down my back!), but I also hate having things tight around my neck or across my throat. Generally, turtlenecks make me feel claustrophobic and a bit panic-y, but I keep seeing all these stylish ladies wearing them and I was jealous of how warm and toasty they must be! So I thought I would have a go at making my own, using the Papercut Rise and Fall Turtleneck patterns.

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I made both versions, to see if I preferred one over the other. Rise is a classic turtleneck, with set sleeves and a short, close fitting turtleneck. Fall is looser, with a drop shoulder and a much longer, looser turtleneck which can either be folded over on itself or left scrunched down like in these photos. My Rise version is a black merino/lycra blend, and the Fall turtleneck is made out of a dusty rose coloured merino, both from the stash. I sewed both up with my overlocker, and used my coverstitch for the hems, so they’re looking nice and neat! I used a standard two needle stitch for the hems on the black one, as I have lots of spools of black thread, but I had to use a single needle chain stitch for the pink one because I only had a tiny bit of matching thread left, nowhere near enough for two rows of stitching!

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I cut a size XS in both tops, which is my standard size when I’m sewing Papercut Patterns. I was slightly surprised by how short both tops came up, both in the body and the sleeves. The sleeves on the black version in particular are bordering on too short, but I don’t want to add cuffs! I find them a bit fussy, and I like how simple the lines on the Rise turtleneck are. I’ll just need to remember to add a couple of centimeters to the length of  them if i made it again! The sleeves on the Fall turtleneck are a better length, I think I might have turned up a smaller hem since I was using chain stitch to sew the hem.

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I’m surprised I like them both as much as I do, but I’m even more surprised that I prefer the Rise version to the Fall! I assumed that the looser neck on the Fall would be more comfortable to me, but the turtleneck on the Rise is loose enough that it isn’t pressing on my throat, and because it’s short and light it doesn’t collapse against my neck like the Fall version. I also prefer the slim set in sleeves over the dropped shoulders on the Fall, I keep feeling the dropped shoulder seam rubbing on my upper arm and thinking it’s my bra strap slipping off my shoulder! Either way, they’re both stopping the Wellington southerly gales from getting down the neck of my tops, which I’m appreciating at the moment.

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One thing I haven’t figured out yet is quite how to wear either top when I need layers. They look ridiculously preppy if I wear them under my Driftless Cardi’s, like I’m in costume as a stereotypical librarian or something. Any suggestions? Maybe I just need to wear them over a superfine thermal layer or something. I would like to have a go at layering them under some dresses, I can’t stop thinking how cute the Rise would be under a pinafore style dress like the Tessuti Claudia or the Closet Case Patterns Fiona

Kochi Jacket

Hi team! This is another long delayed blog post, I sewed up this Papercut Patterns Kochi Jacket last spring, but I’ve only just got pictures of it. I was planning on making another one in a Japanese cotton that I bought in London, and I planned to post them together, but I didnt have enough cotton in the end so it ended up as as this skirt. Then I planned to make a lightweight version in a wool/silk blend, but that hasn’t happened yet either…so you just get my original version!

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I made variation 1 in a fairly hefty felted wool blend from deep in my stash. The pattern does say you can use any type of woven fabric, but I think this is probably at the upper limits of what works for this garment! It’s heavy and stiff, but I actually love the severe, architectural look of it. It seems like a pretty deliberate contrast to a standard silky open jacket, and I like it, even though Hamish said it was very batty art teacher-ish! I love the split hem and the big roomy pockets, though the pockets end up being a bit weird when I have it done up.

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I made a couple of changes to the pattern to accommodate the thickness of the wool. I narrowed the sleeves by an inch at the armpit, tapering to nothing at the wrist and hem, to get rid of some excess bulk there. The fabric still forms pretty large folds at the underarm, but I’m beginning to think that’s just the way dropped shoulder-style sleeves sit. If anyone had a fix for this let me know! Of course, that fold would be much less obvious in a softer fabric…The other change I made was to omit the ties, and replace them with a length of grosgrain ribbon on the left hand side, and two gunmetal D rings sewn into the seam that attaches the neckband on the right. I love the more industrial style of this closure with the rest of the jacket, I thought bows or ribbons would be a bit soft looking, and it’s not too silly looking when it’s undone.

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I didn’t finish any of the seams, as this felted wool doesn’t fray. If I had known how much I would end up loving this I would have bound the edges with something pretty, but never mind! I hand sewed the neckline binding over on the wrong side, so at least that’s nice and neat. All of the other hems are topstitched.

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I’m definitely going to make another version (or two) of this for next summer, I just need to remember what a fabric hog it is! I had 1.5m of the Japanese cotton, but as it was only 110cm wide I couldn’t fit the sleeve piece on. I think it would be especially nice in velvet or satin for a dressy jacket, something which is definitely missing from my wardrobe…

 

 

90’s throwback

*edit to add: for some reason the pictures failed to upload properly for the first version of this post, which is the one that was emailed out if you follow me via email. I’m sorry about that!*

This revival of 90’s fashion is weirding me out a little bit, it’s the first time clothing I remember wearing when I was a kid is back in the shops! I vividly remember having a slip dress when I was 8 or 9, it was chocolate brown and had a cream ditzy floral print. I wore it over one of those white ribbed tee shirts that everyone had, probably with jelly sandals, and I thought I was so cool. And now, 20 years later, I’ve cycled back around to the cami-dress and tee shirt combo! I’m not doing jellies again though, those things gave me wicked blisters…


This is the Mito Cami/Dress from Papercut Patterns. I admit, I passed over this one when it was first released, it looked a bit too cleavage-y and the low back makes wearing a bra hard. Then I started seeing the whole slip and tee shirt combo coming back, and I changed my mind about it! I really like the shape of this pattern, the triangular bodice pieces and the scooped back are so pretty. I chose my usual Papercut size of XS, which is a size down from where my measurements put me, but which seems to fit best! 


I chose a very drapey dark teal rayon crepe from deep in my stash to try this out. I love how flowy the crepe is with this pattern, but it does hang very heavily from that central point where the skirt and bodice pieces meet. Something with a bit more structure (or less weight) would sit more smoothly there I think! I debated about whether I should sew fixed length straps, but in the end I followed the instructions and used lingerie sliders to make them adjustable. If I shorten the straps heaps I can hike the back of the dress up high enough to cover my bra band, though I doubt I’ll be wearing it alone! It’s a good option for a slip though…

I did make my life slightly more complicated by changing the order of construction so that I could line the bodice cleanly. I sewed the skirt pieces to just the outer bodice pieces, and then hand sewed the lining pieces over the seam so that it’s all nice and tidy inside. 


The tee shirt I’m wearing here is also a new one, it’s a crew neck Lark tee made in some more of the striped cotton/Lycra knit that I made a long sleeved version out of last year. I’ve used every version of the Lark pattern now! I used the short sleeve piece here, but I prefer the cap sleeve I think. Something to remember for next time!