A Very Preppy Sigma Dress

Another holiday post! I’m hanging onto my holiday for dear life (can you tell?), it feels like we’ve been home forever…

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This is the Papercut Patterns Sigma Dress, made up in a medium weight yarn dyed cotton from The Fabric Store. This pattern has been out for ages, but hadn’t really been on my radar until I started looking for a simple dress pattern with a darted bodice and long sleeves to make a winter dress with. Obviously this isn’t the winter dress I was planning, I didn’t get around to making that before our trip (and it’s too warm now, it’ll need to wait until next winter), but I thought that a short sleeved version would be a handy dress to take with us.

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There was nothing in there, very disappointing.

I actually made up a muslin of this dress before cutting into this cotton, which showed that the bust dart was way too high for me. I ended up moving it down by over an inch, but now I’ve got something funny going on with fabric pooling under the dart. I’m going to have another play with the bodice, maybe doing a small FBA to try to get rid of that excess. I’m not too bothered about it with this version, it’s a bit rough anyway! I utterly failed to match the gingham across the centre back seam as well, so it’s definitely not a perfect dress. Aside from the weird fit in the bust, I’m happy with the way this pattern fits. There is a bit of ease in the waist, which I like, and I think the shoulders and sleeves fit really nicely.

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I really like the little gathered patches on either side of the skirt, they add a bit of fullness and movement without adding any bulk or making the skirt too big. I didn’t put the pockets in this one, because the pocket pieces looked really tiny and I couldn’t be bothered pulling out another pattern to find some proper sized ones (I was sewing this pretty close to the trip), but the gathers will help to hide any bulk from the pockets too.

Much as I like the pattern and fabric, I was initially a bit worried that I had made a school uniform when I finished it and tried it on! My uniform was teal, yellow, and black tartan (hideous), so not at all like this, but the grey gingham gave me an unexpected schoolgirl vibe. Definitely not what I was looking for! I’ve tried styling it a few ways, from this super-casual-with-sneakers look to a ultra preppy with brogues and tights, and I think it’ll be ok. Just as well I haven’t made that grey blazer I’ve been planning!

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I was very pleased to have this dress when I was packing for our mini-trip to Portugal, as it ended up being over 30ºc the week that we were there! I got pretty sunburned on our first day (bad!), so having this dress with a higher neck and covered shoulders was perfect. You can see a bit of my sunburn radiating up from my neckline in these photos. It was nice to have a loose dress to wear too, something to let the air circulate around my torso as we were out walking up hills in the heat! These photos were taken at the Castelo São Jorge in Lisbon, in the ‘romantic garden’. The Castle has the most amazing views over the city, it was beautiful! the loose waist also meant I had plenty of room to eat pastel de nata, the amazing custard tarts that are so prevalent in Portugal. I love custard, so I was in heaven with all of their variations on custard and pastry!

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The raincoat which nearly killed me…

I’m a very selfish maker, I hardly ever sew or knit for other people. I’ll sew for my mum (because she’s awesome), and I’ll sew or knit for Hamish (because he’s super fussy about buying clothes, and I’m still trying to get him out of tee shirts that he’s been wearing since before we got together, 10 years ago), and I’ll make gifts for special people in my life, but that’s about it. I don’t usually feel guilty about this, but when my sister asked me to make her a raincoat I felt a bit bad that I had never sewn for her before! I was planning my own raincoat at the time, using the Papercut Waver Jacket pattern, and as Abby also liked the pattern I figured it would be easy enough to make two! Now, if you’ve just followed that link to see my version of the Waver, you’ll notice that I blogged it a while ago. In fact, the fabric for both of our raincoats was bought from Drapers Fabrics when we last visited Auckland…in September 2015. This raincoat was my longest ever work in progress! It was probably also one of my worst ever sewing experiences, and there is definitely a strong correlation between those facts…

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I made her the longer version of the Waver, with the hood and the drawstring waist. I wish I had made the longer version for me too, its a much more practical length for a rain coat! My sister is tiny, so I re-traced the pattern and cut her an XXS, then took an inch off the waist and the hem. She has a lot of hair though (I’m pretty sure she got her full allocation of hair and then half of what should have been mine), so I left the hood at its original size instead of shortening it like I did for mine. I also left the sleeves at full length. I made the same aesthetic modifications to both jackets, adding in-seam pockets behind the patch pockets and a self-fabric facing to the hood.

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So the pattern wasn’t the problem with this project at all. I cut Abby’s coat just after I finished mine, intending to have both done by winter 2016. it was as I was cutting up the waterproof nylon that we’d picked that I started to realise what I had done to myself. This fabric rolled along it’s cut edges worse than anything I have ever dealt with before, all of my newly cut pieces were rolling up into little skinny tubes before my eyes! It’s also completely rigid, there was no easing anything or using any of the tricks I’ve learned to sew nice curved seams over the years. I’m so glad that we picked a pattern with raglan sleeves instead of set in ones! It wouldn’t hold a crease at all once it cooled down (though at least it didn’t melt), and it slipped all over the place under my presser foot, making the stitches an uneven length and the tension a bit wonky. I wanted to cry after a few seams! It was worse than silk velvet, than tissue knit, worse than bag leather or the finest chiffon. The shifty, slippery silk satin lining Abby picked out was honestly a dream to sew by comparison.

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So I put it aside, meaning to come back to it once I had a better idea of how to deal with the fabric. And then it languished, for a whole year, until my sister started asking pointed questions about it’s whereabouts at the beginning of autumn this year. I really did feel guilty then, so I braced myself and pulled it out of the WIP bag of shame. It was still an absolute bastard to sew, but I used a super fine microtex needle which helped with my dodgy looking stitches, and I topstitched where I could to keep the seam allowances flat. I really wanted to seal the seams to make it as waterproof as possible, especially after topstitching them, but I couldn’t find seam sealing tape anywhere, even online sources wouldn’t ship to New Zealand for some reason. Eventually Hamish suggested I get some tent seam sealing glue from a camping store (I got this one), which was a brilliant idea. It comes as a sponge-topped glue stick like I remember from primary school, and I just painted it in an inch wide strip over each seam on the inside. I doubt it’ll be as effective as a sealing tape in the long run, but it seems to be working for now!

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The press studs are the same as the ones I used on my Waver, and I used the same round elastic for the drawstring as in mine. It’s much more comfortable than a rigid cord! Abby had to have two photoshoots for me to get pictures for this post, there’s something weird happening with my camera and pictures keep coming out unfocused. And it isn’t just my shaky hands, it happens when I use the self timer too! At least I know she’s wearing it though, I would’ve hated to go through all that and then have her not like it!

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Rainy Day Waver Jacket

It’s taken me over six months, but I’ve finally made myself a new raincoat!

  

This is the Waver Jacket from Papercut Patterns, made up in the shorter length with the hood (obviously). I have to admit to competely overlooking this pattern when it was released, because the samples just reminded me of the lab coat I wore for my undergrad studies! But there have been some very cute versions popping up on my blog reader since it was released, and when I decided that I wanted another raincoat this pattern fitted all of my requirements. And I’m really glad I tried it, because I love the end result!

  

I only made a few changes to the pattern, the major one being the addition of in seam pockets. I really don’t like patch pockets for putting my hands in (its the one thing I would change about my Cascade Duffle Coat), and when I saw that Lauren at Lladybird had added side seam pockets to her Waver, I shamelessly decided to copy her. I also took an inch off the length of the sleeves and off the bottom of the hood. The hood was so massive when I first basted it on! I think having no hair means that I’m very aware of hood size, I don’t need to worry about fitting a pony tail or anything into the back of my hood! It still feels pretty massive, but I’ll be able to fit a hat (with pompom) and a chunky scarf inside the hood with no problems, which will be excelent when it gets properly cold. I possibly over shortened the sleeves, 1/2″ might have been a better adjustment. Its not a major drama though!

  

I love the drawstring at the waist, I think it looks much nicer than if it fell straight from the bust. I used round elastic instead of rigid drawstring cord, which makes it more comfortable. Its also easier to get the tension right, as the drawstring comes out on the inside of the jacket and can’t be adjusted when I’m wearing it done up! I put a pair of silver eyelets in the lining for the cord to exit through, rather than using a button hole as instructed, as the lining just got chewed up by my machine, and because I thought they looked better.

 

I also used hammer on anorak snaps instead of buttons, again just because I thought they looked professional and fancy! I used six instead of the four marked on the pattern, as they are smaller than the recommended buttons, and I didn’t want rain blowing through the gaps! Rain comes in at all angles in Wellington, so it’s always a hazard…

 

I had planned on making pocket flaps to cover the openings of the patch pockets, but when I sewed them on and cinched in the drawstring around the waist, they caused the bottom half of the jacket to balloon out like there was a crinoline under there. They were just too bulky and too close to the waist, so I unpicked them. The patch pockets are now less waterproof, but the whole thing is more flattering!

  

The fabric is possibly my favourite part of this whole project. I found the shell fabric at Drapers Fabrics in Auckland when I was up there last year (Thanks to Bella for taking me there!), its a waterproof wool from Italy. I’ve never seen anything like it before, it feels like a crisp wool suiting but when I ran a scrap under the tap it was totally waterproof! It sewed and pressed beautifully, and thankfully the holes from my unpicking self healed like any normal wool. I couldn’t find seam sealing tape anywhere, so it’s not going to be completely waterproof, but it should be fine for getting around town in the rain!

The lining fabric is some mystery slippery stuff I got for $3p/m from the Fabric Warehouse pop up sale a few months ago. It was a bit of a nightmare to sew! Its super slippery, frays as soon as you look at it, and shreds at the slightest provocation. I underlined it with some cotton to give it a bit of strenght at the seams, but to be honest I don’t have high hopes of it lasting too long. But it’s so pretty and cheerful I thought I would give it a go, I can always replace it if it falls apart…

  

Big thanks to Marta and Kat for these photos, we had brunch on Saturday and then scouted out good photo locations. Its nice to have a change from my teal wall! I had unreasonable amounts of trouble getting my snaps done up in the right order, I must have had three goes at it. Always start at the top or the bottom, not at the waist!

Ahoy!

When Papercut Patterns released their latest collection, the Bowline Sweater immediately jumped out at me. I love a good sweatshirt, and the striped sample they had sewed up just made me happy. My Aunt gave me a voucher for The Fabric Store for my birthday, so I made good use of it and picked up the pattern and some navy merino fleece backed sweatshirting. I will admit that I really wanted stripes, but I managed to reign myself in and go for a solid colour. My wardrobe is bordering on too many stripes (if there is such a thing), I need some plain things to match them with!

  

Firstly, the fabric. It is so lovely! Its a lighter weight than the sweatshirting I used last winter for my maroon Linden Sweatshirt, but is still lovely and soft and fluffy. It was really easy to work with, not too thick for my overlocker to munch through the several layers at the point where the neckband, shoulder seam and pleat meet. The brushed inner face makes it so nice to wear, and its warm and breathable and just everythingthing you’d expect from merino. (They don’t have this exact fabric on their online store, but they do have it in black, if you’re interested…)

   
 
Sewing this up was fun! The front pattern piece looks like one of those mystery patterns you get in Drape Drape or other oragami-esque Japanese patterns, but it all sewed together easily enough. The instructions are really clear and easy to follow, as I’ve come to expect from Papercut. I did take an inch off the bottom before I sewed the hem band on, and an inch off the end of the sleeves and off the cuffs (2″ off total). I always think I have proportionally long arms, until I make Papercut patterns! I like the length of the sleeves now, just long enough to tuck my fingers into, but not long enough to look sloppy. 

  
Possibly could have done with some sort of sway back type adjustment, but its a sweatshirt so I can’t get too hung up over it! I’ve worn it several times since it was finished, its a nice weight to throw on for my walk to the train station in the morning. I like wearing it with my jeans or with my casual skirts (like this Moss Mini) equally.

  
I had a terrible time taking photos today, the auto focus on my camera just wasn’t playing nice. I had a couple of pictures turn out like the one above, and the rest seem to be in slightly soft focus. I had hoped to take these photos down by the waterfront or somewhere suitably nautical, but our good weather finally seems to have given way to some much needed rain, so my trusty teal wall will just have to do! I also seem to have cut the top of my head off in all but one of these photos, just an all round bad day for photography.
 
There might be something of a hiatus here over the next month, I have some school work do do and some sewing for others that has been sorely neglected! I also desperately need to tidy my sewing space before anything will happen in there, its like a mini tornado has rampaged through it…

Raspberry Coppelia

Recently, my mum asked me if I could make her a Coppelia cardigan. We found some lovely raspberry pink merino (at the Fabric Store, of course), she likes bright, warm colours to wear with her ‘Wellington Business Black’.

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I was all ready to get sewing when I realised that I hadn’t asked her to try mine on for size! We’re not hugely different shapes, though mum is a few inches taller than me, but I needed to make several changes to the fit of the cardigan. Glad I checked first, I must be learning! Unfortunately, I cut my patterns out in my size, rather than tracing them, mostly because I’m lazy…In the end, I just added 1cm on to all of the seams, and added about 5cm length to the whole thing so that it would cover the waistband of her skirts and trousers. I also lengthened the ties, so that it can be tied in the front or back.
I did have a minor panic when I realised that I hadn’t cut out the neck band, and then slightly more of a panic when I realised that I didn’t have enough fabric left to cut it out with the extra length that I had added to the front…then I remembered how much I had stretched the band on my original Coppelia and decided it would be ok to just cut it at the standard length (and happily it was!)

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But anyway, after all of my self made complications, mum likes her cardigan! It fits and looks much better on her than it looks on me in these photos…she said she got a few complements on it when she wore it to work on Monday. Unfortunately she won’t be wearing it again for a wee while, as she broke her wrist at the gym on Monday night! Poor thing, I knew gyms were dangerous places. I’m trying to think of things she can do without her dominant hand to occupy herself while she’s off work, she isn’t very good at not having something to do…

In other news, my Miette is coming along slowly! I’ve cast it on five times so far but this latest attempt seems to be sticking, I’ve even managed to use up my first ball of wool. It has a few random eyelets where there should just be stockinette, and theres a few stretches of five or so stitches where I’ve knitted instead of purled, but I’ve decided I can live with a few imperfections in the grand scheme of things! In a few rows, I’ll slip the sleeve stitches off and try it on for size.

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Also, I’m finally seeing spring creeping into Wellington! There are daffodils about, and the trees are beginning to bud. The weather forecast for the rest of the week is rain and hail, but I’ll take any hint of better weather!

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I love it when the Magnolias start to bud 🙂

July roundup

I’m actually pretty impressed with how much I got done this month! Two of my posts contained double makes, with two Bronte tops, and two pairs of Anima pants. I also branched out into bag construction!

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I have to say, I love my Bronte tops! I wear them all the time (in fact, as I type this, I’m wearing them both and my Coppelia cardigan. Shut up, its cold.) and get lots of complements on them whenever I’m out and about. I’ll definitely be making some summer ones, maybe in a bamboo cotton if i can get my hands on any. I’ve also had a fair bit of wear out of my camisole, its really comfortable. Another pattern to go back in the ‘to make again’ pile! (The knickers are also really comfortable, if thats not TMI!)

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There are also my Anima pants. The black merino version have been worn quite a bit, but I’ve been too shy to wear the patterned ones out yet! Maybe next week I’ll get over it enough to wear them to the gym. My scrub hats get worn at every day, I have enough to wear one every day for a week.

So, this month I’ve added another 5 garments to my handmade wardrobe, not too bad really!

In short…
-two tops
-two pairs of pants
-the camisole set
-the waterproof tote bag
-the scrub hats

I’ve also learned a couple of new techniques, including sewing heavy, rigid fabric, putting buttonholes in knits (not as scary as i anticipated) and sewing with stretchy lace.

Next month is going to feature a few items I’m sewing for other people, mainly Monsieur and my mum. I’m kind of winging it for both garments, so we’ll see how that goes! Hopefully I won’t crash and burn…

Anima Attraction

Recently, I’ve joined a gym. This is surprising on many levels, as I have been anti ‘organised exercise’ forever! I’ve been feeling pretty rubbish all winter though, and so I thought maybe getting fit would help. There has to be some benefits to going to the gym (aside from being able to justify more cake), otherwise people wouldn’t spend so much time and money there, right? Once I had joined, I obviously needed someone to wear (and some footwear, which was a nightmare. Why do shoe makers think that women will only run in awful pink and purple shoes??), and coincidentally, Papercut and the Fabric Store were running the Anima Pant competition to celebrate their new patterns. So I bought it, and got sewing.

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My first pair (yes, I made two) are the full length version, made in a black merino sweatshirting. I will never wear them exercising, as I will die of heatstroke within the first ten minutes, but they’ve been good for getting to and from the gym, and mooching around the house on weekends. Monsieur thinks they are awful, and was horrified that I was planning to wear them out of the house, but meh. Its the gym, I don’t need glamour!

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If he was worried about the first pair, he thought I had seriously lost the plot when I cranked out the second lot!

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To be fair, I do see how they are completely man repelling. But surely he should be glad about that? The black and white fabric is a mystery jersey which I suspect contains a lot of unnatural fibres. But they’re much lighter and more exercise friendly! I’m rather proud of my pattern matching across the front and back and pockets, I have to say. The black cuffs and waistband are also made out a mystery knit, which is lovely and soft. I almost wish I had made the whole lot out of it!

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I made up both versions with no changes at all, except that I was too scared to try and put button holes for the cord in the waistband of the second pair because the black jersey I used for the waistband and cuffs was so soft and flimsy, even with a square of interfacing where the buttonholes should go. So no tie for that pair! They stay up fine without it anyway. Because I took these photos for the competition, I tried to ‘style’ them and make them look a bit better than normal. I’m wearing my Coppelia cardigan with the first pair, and my Bronte top with the man repelling pair.

Now for my big stupid mistake…I missed the deadline for the competition! I thought it was last Sunday, but it was last Friday…so on Saturday when I went to post the photos to Instagram I was too late! Honestly, what a muppet. And it was such a good competition, they had the most amazing prize packs! Oh well, the entries were all so amazing that I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have had a look in anyway. Next time, I’ll pay more attention! I promise that I’m actually really organised and on to it in real life, I just seem to let my flaky self out on the internet…