Boxy Tee Files: Cielo Top

You might have noticed that I’m a big fan of a boxy woven tee…from the Grainline Scout to the Marilla Walker Maya tee, via the Peppermint Magazine Harvest tee and a few big 4 versions, I’ve tried a lot of patterns! The Cielo pattern from Closet Case Pattern’s Rome Collection immediately caught my eye, and it wasn’t until I made a muslin of the dress that I realised that the tee variation could also be a great addition to my wardrobe.

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This pattern has so many details I love in a tee! I love the scooped shape of the neckline, and the set in sleeves with the little cuffs, and the cropped length means its perfect to wear with high waisted bottoms. I took an extra 5/8” off the hem, to account for my short torso, but I was pretty stoked with the fit aside from that! I use the C cup bodice for my dress muslin, but I decided it felt too big across the top of my chest and through the armscye. I know the armscye is supposed to be dropped and pretty oversized, but the one in the C cup bodice felt just too big, even though I had gone down a size from what I usually make in Closet Case Patterns. For this tee, I just went back to the size 8 in their standard bodice draft, and I’m really happy with the fit.

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I was hoping that this would turn out to be a very wearable muslin, so I used the left over linen from my first Wiksten Haori. I love this colour, its so good! I had juuuust enough left to cut the tee out, with only a satisfyingly tiny handful of scraps left over. This pattern is a great scrap buster, the panels on the back shoulders and the cropped length means that you can squeeze the pieces out of some weirdly shaped left overs!

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I wanted to use some hand stitching to highlight the shoulder panels, so I dug out some similarly coloured embroidery floss and did some crude sashiko stitching on one shoulder. It’s pretty wonky and uneven, but I cant see it when I’m wearing it so it doesn’t bother me too much! I should probably have made it more random rather than trying to have neat little rows, but at least I know for next time…

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This is definitely not the last time you’ll see me making this pattern! I’ve already got another one cut out which will hopefully be part of my Frocktails outfit, plus I’m hoping to make another version of the dress for summer. I’ve got a pair (or two) of the Pietra Pants planned as well! Wish I was actually going to Rome, but sewing up the collection will have to do…

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Winter Wiksten Haori

A couple of weekends ago I hosted a sewing day at my place with my friends Gabrielle and Ruby. We sewed, we ate pizza and cheesecake, and my cats were total antisocial arseholes, it was great! I used the day as a chance to tick another item off my 2019 Make Nine list- another Wiksten Haori. I wore my linen version all summer, and I was really eager to make a warm winter version. And it’s such a quick sew that I knew it would be a good thing to make during a single sewing day!

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I made the same size as my linen version, but decided that the mid length variation would be more practical for a winter garment! I also used the full width collar, unlike the linen version where I made the collar a half width. I really like how huge and cuddly the big collar is.

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I used a great length of navy and white wool tweed from my stash, which was originally given to me by another sewing friend who had already cut a project out of it. I thought I might not have enough fabric, but after a bit of pattern tetris I managed to squeeze it all on! It’s deliciously heavy and warm and wooly, though it does get that classic wet sheep smell when it gets wet (reminds me of school assembly in the winter…). For lining I used some poly crepe de chine from The Fabric Store. Usually I wouldn’t go for polyester, but I love a good star print, and this one feels pretty nice!

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I stuck a whole bunch of extra little details on this jacket, it was fun sorting out a whole lot of bits and pieces! I added a scrap of leather for a hanging loop, and added a double pocket to one side. I liked the way the overlapping pockets looked on the pattern piece for the front piece, so I just added the smaller pocket from the short version as well as the larger pocket from the longer version. The tweed had a lovely orange selvedge, which I wanted to make use of, but I ended up only managing to get it onto the top edge of one of the smaller pocket. I do like the way they look! The smaller pocket is a great size for my phone too. On the other side, I added one of my favourite Kylie and the Machine labels, the delightfully snarky “You Can’t Buy This” ones.

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I’m really happy with my new jacket! It’s so lovely and warm, but is also really easy to throw on over just about anything, like its linen sister. It’s certainly getting a lot of use, now that winter is here in full force!

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Wedding Sewing

It’s been six months (six!) since Hamish and I got married, so I figured it was about time I posted about the wedding sewing I did before I forget completely! I started out at the beginning of last year thinking that I would make not only my dress, but also dresses for my three bridesmaids. Once I started working on my Masters research project I dropped the idea of making any dresses pretty quickly, between my project and working I didn’t have masses of free time! I wanted to make something to wear though, and once I picked out my dress (from local bridal designer Sally Eagle), I started to have a think about what I could make to complement it.

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I decided I would make a top to wear over my dress, as it was pretty much backless and I thought I would want some coverage for post-dinner dancing at the least. But I has also tried on a lace over-bodice when I tried on the dress, and that looked so pretty…So I ended up making two tops, obviously!

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For the first top (what I started to jokingly call my “ceremony look”) I used some beautiful chantilly lace, which I first saw at Silk World when we were in Melbourne last year. Unfortunately, they only sold it in 3m lengths, and I really only wanted a small bit because it turns out lace is pretty expensive! Luckily I found the exact same lace the next day at Tessuti, and they were quite happy to sell me a 1.2m length (though it doesn’t seem to be on their website anymore).

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I wanted a princess seamed bodice with a high front neckline and an open back and capped sleeves. I decided to start with the By Hand London Elisalex bodice, because I knew it fit, and I’m much happier hacking a neckline than trying to fluff around with sleeves! I traced on the front neckline from the By Hand London Anna dress, and slashed the back neckline from the shoulder to the waist. After a muslin, I took a bit of extra length off the long edge of the open back, as it was gaping a bit, and I widened the neckline a touch. And then, I took a deep breath and cut into my beautiful lace…

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I spent a long time trying to maximize the pattern placement on the bodice. I especially loved this lace for its delicate floral motif, but also because it had two scalloped selvages. One was a small regular scallop, the other was a more ornate, eyelash-y edge. I decided to use the large scallop along the sleeve hems, and I trimmed the small scalloped selvage off completely so that I could hand sew it around the neckline once it was sewn together. That left me with a pretty big amount of fabric to fit my pretty small pattern pieces onto, and I managed to match the floral motifs across the princess seams front and back pretty well! To finish the hem I sewed a strip of bias tape I made from the same silk crepe de chine as my dress, so that I could tie it closed and it would hopefully blend into the waistline of my dress.

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Because lace doesn’t fray, I was able to get away with some pretty dodgy sewing techniques when I was sewing this! I used a microtex needle and standard thread, and the sewing was easy enough. The reason I wanted princess seams was so that I didn’t need to have the large triangles of the dart showing through the lace, and to make all the seams as unobtrusive as possible in a sheer fabric. I ended up sewing the seams as usual, then topstitching the seam allowances to one side at 1/8”and trimming the rest of the seam allowance right back to the topstitched line.

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In the end you could barely see the pattern matching against the ivory of my dress, but I’m still glad I went to the effort! I really love how delicate and ethereal the lace turned out, it definitely added a bit of romance to my otherwise plain dress (which I love! I wanted something minimalist, and I definitely got it!). As pretty as this top turned out, it didn’t really solve my original problem of having a bare back for dancing and partying later on… Which is where the second top came in!

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This simple little shell top was inspired by this two piece Anthropologie wedding dress which kept popping up on Pinterest when I was obsessively looking for ideas. We don’t have Anthropologie here, but I was pretty sure I could make something close enough! I was lucky to be able to buy a length of the same ivory crepe de chine as the rest of my dress from Sally Eagle, so that was a great start. I started with the cropped version of the Grainline Willow tank, and traced on a boat neckline similar to the shape of the first top. Because the silk is so fine and floaty, I ended up lining it completely with self fabric. This took away the problem of finishing the neckline and armscyes with facings or bindings, both of which would show through. Instead I trimmed the seam allowances pretty short with pinking shears to reduce their bulk, and then they were all enclosed in the lining. I finished the bottom with a machine rolled hem, incorporating both layers.

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You know I can’t resist a button up back! I found these gorgeous wee vintage glass buttons at Miss Maude, and I had to get them. They’re possibly a bit heavy for this fine silk, but I reinforced the centre backs with strips of organza to help stop the back from buckling. The roleau loops were actually easy to make, the lightweight silk was pretty easy to turn into little loops! One thing I really wish i had thought to do is add strap-holders to the inside shoulders, so that I could hook the shoestring straps of my dress into them and stop them slipping down my arms all evening!

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This little top was exactly what I wanted! It’s a much more modern and minimalist look than the lace, and I liked having the chance to change it up for the two halves of the day. I’m still impressed that I didn’t spill anything on either top (or my dress) all day, though the hem of my dress is pretty covered in grass and other farm-adjacent stains… I think I’ll be able to wear my reception top again with a bunch of things in my wardrobe next summer.

So this post has ended up being really long, thanks for reading all the way to the end! I’m definitely not a bridal seamstress, and I’m still not really sure if I approached these two projects in the most traditional way (especially the lace), but I’m really happy with how they both turned out, and I’m glad I was able to make something for my wedding day! I’m equally glad I opted not to make the actual dress, I would have stressed myself right out trying to get that done in time… Instead it was a pretty relaxed lead up to a lovely, easy, fun day with our favourite people, can’t ask for better than that!

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The photos in this post of me (and Hamish) were taken by the lovely Billie Brook out at Ohariu Farm, and I would really recommend both if you’re getting married in the Wellington region!

 

 

 

Paper Bag Princess

Did anyone else have the book ‘The Paper Bag Princess‘ when they were a kid? I loved it, that sassy, dragon tricking princess was a definite early role model! The book really has nothing to do with this blog post or my latest pair of trousers, other than the trousers having a paper bag waist…but I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel for post titles at the moment! Anyway, its a great book, and this is a great pattern, so forgive the tenuous link. Moving right along…

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These awesome, 90’s-esque trousers are McCalls 7726, and I totally overlooked this pattern until I saw Ruby’s great versions. I’ve never had great luck with paper bag waists, they tend to look a bit weird with my short torso, like my boobs are emerging straight out of the ruffle! Luckily the proportions of this pattern work pretty well for me, I think the lack of a definite waist helps. There isn’t any elastic or anything, just the stitched down pleats and the sash, so its easier to keep them slightly below the smallest part of my waist. The pattern has several versions, and I chose the cropped, pegged leg version. I’m super keen to try the wide legged version for summer!

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I used a lovely wool crepe from my stash to make these, and it’s lovely to wear! My previous attempt at making wool crepe trousers wasn’t so successful, because the fabric was a bit scratchy (and cheap, it got all pill-y), but this stuff seems much smoother and drapier, and isn’t at all scratchy, so that’s a relief! It does make the sash pretty bulky, but I’m feeling the drama of the big bow! I might get a ribbon or something to swap out with it if i want something a bit more streamlined. I used some scraps of Atelier Brunette cotton in those lovely deep pockets to cut down on bulk, and I love the little peek I get when I look down.

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It’s been ages since I sewed a big 4 pattern, but this one is really great. It did take me a while to sort through the acres of pattern tissue to find the right pieces, but once I had that sorted out it was a pretty simple pattern to put together. The instructions for the fly were a bit interesting, but I found that if I just looked at each step in isolation rather than trying to run through the whole lot in my head beforehand like I usually do then it was less confusing! I’m not sure if i’d do it that way next time, but it’s turned out pretty neatly.

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I’m super happy with the fit of these, it was just what I was looking for in a pair of pegged trousers. I really wanted an alternative to skinny jeans for winter, I find wide legged trousers too drafty in Wellington for winter! I also think these will be good for dressing up with heels and an ogden cami or one of my cropped tops, I’m looking forward to having a play around with seeing how they fit into my wardrobe! I’m pretty sure this won’t be my last pair of these trousers…

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Green Berlin

Tessuti released their Berlin Jacket a while ago, and I remember liking it when it came out but I couldn’t really see myself wearing it. Then I kept seeing Ruby’s awesome versons, and I started to re-think…I mean, I live in my Driftless Cardigans, and I was thinking of making a Blackwood Cardi in a hefty merino knit anyway…suddenly the Berlin seemed like a great option for in-between a cardigan and a coat. So when I saw this dark green boiled wool on the Drapers website I bought it and the pattern and got working on it!

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This pattern was great to sew, and it came together so quickly! I think it went from cutting out to completed in less than 3 hours. The pattern has you overlap the raw edges and then topstitch the pieces together, so there is a raw edge on the outside of each seam. I definitely struggled to get those seams looking nice and even, and the boiled wool made it super hard to unpick, so after a couple of goes I decided that close enough was good enough! It passes the 3ft test, so I’m happy enough. The side seams and sleeve seams are just sewn wrong sides together as usual, which let me take a good 2” out of the sleeve width at the cuff to slim down the arms a bit.

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I changed up a couple of things as I was sewing, I had seen a RTW garment similar to the Berlin that had a really clean finish around the neck/front edge, so I wanted to copy that. I sewed the neck facing wrong sides together, and then under stitched it and turned and hand stitched it to the wrong side. I did the same for the sleeve cuffs as well, but I flipped them to the outside to keep the turn-up look. I’ve been folding the cuffs back a second time to get a bracelet length sleeve, but its good to know I can turn them down when it gets really cold. I’m really happy with the way both changes turned out!

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Boiled wool is so warm! I’ve had a tonne of wear out of this jacket already, its been so useful for these kinda random late autumn days we’ve been having. It was a really good layer to take down to Wanaka last weekend for a wedding we were invited to, it was significantly colder down there but this kept me toasty!

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I love the length of this one, but next time I’ll lift the pockets up a bit, I can’t touch the bottoms of these ones! If it wasn’t such a pain to unpick this fabric I would move these ones, but I’ll just deal with it… I am thinking about making a hip length version out of some pale pink boiled wool I saw at The Fabric Store, but maybe I’ll wait until spring for that! So many things to make, so little time…

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Zelda approves!

 

 

Zadie Jumpsuit for Autumn

So this is something that had leapfrogged over not just everything in my sewing queue, but everything in my blogging queue as well! You might have noticed that I’ve been into one pieces in a big way this summer, and I really wanted a simple wrap front jumpsuit. I couldn’t find quite what I wanted, as was considering drafting something like this one that Katie made (and wrote a tutorial for!), but then Paper Theory came out with the Zadie Jumpsuit and I didn’t have to! It even had sleeves, which makes it the perfect pattern for autumn…

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I was pretty wary of the amount of ease in this pattern, I didn’t want to be swimming in it, but its definitely not supposed to be tight! Helpfully, Paper Theory includes the final garment measurements in their instructions, so using those I was pretty confident about cutting out a size 8, even though my measurements fitted neatly between sizes 10 and 12. I also shortened the pattern pieces an inch at the lengthen/shorten line on the bodice, and again by an inch at the lengthen/shorten line across the crotch. I think both adjustments were spot on, the wrap hits just at my waist, and the crotch curve is just the right length! I do wish I had added that inch back onto the hem though, I’d like the trousers to be just a touch longer…

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The pockets are so good! They’re a great size, and sit really nicely behind the pleat at the waist. I also really like the drop shoulder/sleeve combo, even though I’m getting the above bust wrinkle that I tend to get with a dropped shoulder seam. I’m not sure what the deal is with that, if I need more room in the bust or not, but its something I see in this style of sleeve a lot!

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I didn’t realise until I looked at these photos, but I’ve got a bubble of fabric above my bum which I think could be fixed with a sway back adjustment. Next time I’d take a wedge out of the back waist seam at the centre back, tapering to nothing at the side seams. But I think it’s fine on this one, I can’t see behind me so it isn’t going to worry me! I cut the back on the fold instead of having a centre back seam, I’ll always cut down on the amount of seams I have to sew if I can.

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The other change I made was to draft a facing for the neckline and wrap front instead of finishing it with bias tape as the instructions suggest. I just don’t love bias tape, I often find I get it wrinkly and it annoys me! To made the facing I just added a 1cm seam allowance to the neckline and the wrap edge (on the bodice AND the trousers, I very nearly forgot about the bottom part!), then overlapped the bodice and trouser pieces to get rid of the waist seam allowance and traced off a 3cm wide facing. then I just stay-stitched the crap out of all the edges, and sewed the facing on and top stitched it down once the rest of the jumpsuit was assembled. The only problem I had was putting the ties in, I positioned the 45 degree angle at the end so that it matched the angle of the wrap edge and sewed everything down…only to flip the facing into place and realise that the ties now pointed straight down, at 90 degrees to where they should be. I should have read the instructions more closely! 20 minutes of unpicking and re-sewing later, and all was put right.

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Finally, the fabric! I picked up this lightweight denim from The Fabric Store, its brushed on one side (I used it as the inside) so it’s really soft and comfortable. I really like the utilitarian look of this pattern in denim, it means the design details really stand out! I’m looking forward to wearing it with some of my bolder jewelry and shoes, it’ll be a good canvas! I also think it’ll work well in colder weather with a merino tee underneath it, though I’m struggling to figure out what shoes to wear with it once it gets colder…I’m not sure I’ll like it paired with boots. I’ll need to have a trying on session to figure out how to extend it’s wearability!

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I’ll need to figure that out soon, it’s become very cold and wintery here all of a sudden. It was almost too dark to get photos today, so sorry that they’re a bit dim! I just really wanted to get it documented and up here, I’ve got a disgracefully long list of posts to write and limited patience to write them…

 

Linen Jily

Well, its been a minute since I last wrote a blog post! Life seems to have been very busy so far this year, and I’ve been pretty slack about taking photos of what I’ve been sewing. We took off to Hawai’i for nearly two weeks at the end of February for a belated honeymoon, which generated a fair amount of panic-sewing (swimsuits and other hot weather gear), which I’ll be working on posting over the next few weeks, and I should really get my wedding sewing up here too before I start sewing for autumn/winter… But here is a quick post about a useful little linen top I made to take to Hawai’i to get us started.

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This is another Ready To Sew pattern, the Jily tank. I’m super into Ready To Sew patterns at the moment, you might have noticed! I’ve got another Jazz to post as well. I really like the number of variations each pattern has, Jily has a straight hem version as well as the tie front I’ve made, and I also think it would make a great dress pattern with a gathered skirt added to the bottom of the bodice…but that might have to wait until next summer!

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I made this out of just over a metre of linen/cotton shirting from The Fabric Store, in the blush pink I’ve been so into this summer. It creases terribly, as you can see in these pictures, but it’s lovely and cool to wear! I really like the deep, curved V-neck, I don’t often wear a V neck but I’m thinking that maybe I should consider them more often. It’s also nice to have a sleeveless top with wider straps, these ones cover my bra straps nicely and the armscye isn’t too low (or high) cut.

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The armholes and neckline are finished with an all-in-one facing for a nice neat finish. As there is a centre back seam, I didn’t follow the fiddly instructions given for how to attach the facing by sewing the fronts and backs separately and then sewing them together by pulling the back straps through the straps between the front bodice and front facing, I never get that right first time! Instead I left the centre back seam open on the back piece and the back facing, sewed the shoulder seams and the side seams on both the top and facing, then sewed them together around the neckline and armhole before pulling them out the right way through the open back seam. Then I just sewed up the centre back seam, it was much easier (though I’ve done a terrible job of describing it…).

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The lower portion with the tie is fully lined, so I hand sewed the lining on the inside to avoid having any topstitching. The only change I made to the pattern was to deepen the keyhole between the ties by 1.5 cm so that the front could be tied higher on the top, I thought it looked a bit low on some of the ones I’ve seen online.

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This has been a good little top to have this summer, it was very useful in the heat in Hawai’i! Unfortunately I’ve managed to spill something on it pretty much every time I’ve worn it…maybe I need one in a darker colour or a busier print?

Finally, I feel like I can’t end this utterly frivolous post without saying something about the horrific act of violence which occured in New Zealand on Friday. A white supremacist terrorist entered two Mosques in Christchurch and opened fire on those at prayer there, killing 50 people and injuring at least 50 more. I’m so sad, and sick, and angry that this could happen anywhere, but especially that it happened here. My lovely friend Gabrielle has written far more eloquently than I can about what happened over on her blog– it’s worth a read, and I agree with her wholeheartedly.  We have to change so that this can never happen again.