A Little Bit of Sunshine

I’ve been waiting to take photos of these two garment since just after new Year, in the desperate hope that I’d be able to get photos of them outside in the sun somewhere, but life kept conspiring against me. Picnics were rained off, or I was unable to attend, or it was too cold to wear shorts…eventually I decided to just photograph them in my sewing room as usual! Of course, once I did that the rest of the day was stunningly sunny, so I could have got my outdoor shots if I had been willing to bribe someone to take the photos, but never mind! You’ll just have to use your imaginations.

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These are some more of the things which I sewed during my stay at home sew-a-thon over New Year. I’ve made both patterns before, the camisole is the Ogden from True Bias (see versions one and two here), and the shorts are the Grainline Studio Maritime Shorts. I made my first pair of Maritime Shorts two years ago, and I think they may have been my first ever go at sewing trousers. I still wear them, but they definitely have some fitting issues! I knew they weren’t quite right when I first blogged them, but I wasn’t sure where the problem was originating, or how to fix it…

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When I went back and looked at the photos from that post, I thought that probably the problem was not enough length in the crotch curve in the bum of my original shorts. I laid the back piece of the maritime shorts over the back piece of the Ralph Pink Panthea Shorts (because although I think there are some serious issues with that pattern, those shorts fit my bum well). The crotch curve was definitely longer on the Panthea shorts, so I traced it off, blending into the original Maritime curve about half way up.

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That’s the original underneath, with my modified version sitting on top. It’s such a tiny difference, but it really has made a huge difference to the fit and comfort of the shorts. I also added an inch to the hem of my traced version, and them added another two inches to the hem when  I was cutting out, as I remembered how short my other pair is!

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The other major modification I made to the shorts was to remove the fly front, and put an invisible zip in the side seam.

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This is a modification which I shamelessly stole from Sarah over at Fabric Tragic, and it’s such a good idea! Not only does it remove the hassle of sewing a fly (I know, I know, it isn’t that hard, but it can be a fiddle), but it gives a nice smooth front which I think I prefer in shorts, especially when I’m wearing looser tops. It was easy enough to do, I just sewed straight up the front crotch, and cut the waistband on the fold (at the CF mark instead of the edge of the pattern piece, otherwise it’ll be too long!). Then it was as easy as sewing the invisible zip in the side seam, all the way up though the waistband.

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The fabric is another Cotton + Steel/Rifle Paper Co. collaboration, this time in a cotton/linen canvas, again from Miss Matatabi. I really love this one, I think it’s so pretty, and the colours in the print fit perfectly into my wardrobe. I used some more of the spotty lining remnant which just keeps on giving for the pockets (I’ve lined a blazer and a skirt with it, and used it for a few pockets, and there’s still some left!), I like the combination of floral and polka dots. I have a metre of the flora fabric left, I’m trying to decide what to make with it…

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I dont really have anything new to say about the Ogden Cami, I love all of my versions! this one is made up exactly the same as my other ones, but this time I used some linen from The Fabric Store rather than soft drapey rayon. I like the different silhouette that the crisper linen gives the camisole, and it’s nice in the heat to not have something that sits against my skin. I love the colour, I was really happy when I realised that it was the same colour as the seed pods on the C+S fabric. I also have some of the same linen in pale pink, I think I might make it into a shirt dress, if I don’t run out of summer!

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Traditional New Year Sewing

If you do something three years in a row that makes it tradition right? This is the third year in a row that I’ve started the year with a post showcasing a new pair of shorts and a summer top, so I’m going to say it’s now traditional! My first year was a Grainline summer outfit, last year was my weirdly constructed Panthea shorts and an Emmeline tee, and this year it’s a True Bias party.

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I’ve already posted about the Ogden Camisole, so I won’t talk about that too much. This one is also rayon, a lovely rayon crepe which I bought from Tessuti in Melbourne when I was there in November. I find rayon crepe can be so variable, I’ve worked with some which is really drapey but loosely woven and which seems to grow as you work with it (or wear it, alarmingly), and also some which has been stiff and scratchy (but which holds it’s shape). happily, this stuff has the best qualities of all of the rayon crepes I’ve used, it’s smooth and drapey but hasn’t sagged out. Even still, I was careful to stay stitch everything, and tried not to handle the pieces too much until they were sewn together! I really love this top, I’ve worn it lots since I finished it at the end of December. It was a good thing to wear to casual festive parties.

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I’ve also made the True Bias Emerson Shorts! I’ll say straight away that I really like these shorts. The elastic back waistband means they are really comfortable, but the flat front waistband stops them looking too casual. I like the slash pockets and the front pleats too, and they were a really quick sew. What more could I want in a pair of shorts?

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I could maybe want a less crush-able fabric. I made these with the remnants of linen from my McCalls shirtdress, so they’re really cool and soft to wear, but man do they crease! I ironed these just before putting them on, but I made the mistake of sitting down to put my shoes on, and this is the result. Oh well, linen!

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I’m happy with the fit, though looking at this picture I can see that there are drag lines towards the inseams. I don’t know if I need more room for my bum, or if I’m just standing a bit funny! I’m not too worried about them for basic shorts, but if I make them again I might have a fiddle with the crotch depth. I do like the length and the width of the leg, I think they’re quite flattering!

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These are a really quick sew, they only took me a few hours one afternoon to put together. Actually, both pieces are really quick projects, nice and easy for the slow days between Christmas and New Year! I really like how the cami looks knotted (this is me ripping off the outfit from the True Bias sample photos…), but I find that there isn’t quite enough fabric around my hips to get a decent knot that doesn’t just fall out. I might have a play with some future versions, I could either grade it up a few sizes towards the hem, or I might try adding some cut-on ties to the hem. There are so many things I want to do with this pattern, expect to see a few more before the summer is done!

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I was wearing this outfit the other day, and I managed to get horribly sun burnt on my 10 minute walk to the shops! I have very itchy/sore shoulders, in a lovely shade of raspberry striped with white (cami straps and bag strap). I’m really hoping it’s faded by Thursday, it’ll clash terribly with the yellow dress I want to wear to the wedding I’m attending…

Also, it was my third blogging anniversary on Sunday! Thank you all for reading and commenting and offering so much help and inspiration, I do love the sewing corner of the internet ❤

Layering for Spring

Ugh, this week. I’m very glad it’s over! Last Sunday evening the hard drive on my laptop gave up completely as I was trying to back it up (oh the irony). Normally the loss of my laptop wouldn’t be the end of the world (I don’t use it too much), but my final assignment for trimester two is due tomorrow, and I had everything I had written and all my research on it. Thank god the partner of one of my friends is an IT guy, and he managed to retrieve my info off the hard drive before it completely crapped out, so I managed to get it all done (though I still need to edit about 500 words out of it, bit of a pain…). I’ve also been struck down with my usual spring hay fever (thanks pine trees, you dicks!), so I feel like a bit of a snivveling mess. But now that my paper is written and I’ve bought myself every antihistamine on the market things should be looking up, and I have some new sewing projects which I’m really happy with to share.

  

First up is my first True Bias Ogden Cami, in a lovely rayon from The Fabric Warehouse. I’m really going to have to get over my hatred of strapless bras, because I really like this top and have several lengths of fabric earmarked for more! 

   

It was such a quick satisfying project, I was able to easily get it out of the metre of fabric I had and it probably only took two hours from cutting to finishing. I took the advice of the instructions and added a ribbon to the back facing so that I can tell the front from the back, which was a good call. I love the facing, it gives such a lovely smooth finish at the neckline, and the double layer of fabric means that it sits really smoothly over my bra and a coloured bra won’t show through. 

  

I wore this for a night out dancing the same day that I made it, and it was very comfortable in the heat! Unfortunately I clipped the seams around the straps a bit severely, and the next morning I realised that one of the back straps had partially pulled out of the seam. It was an easy enough fix, and I went around and reinforced the rest of the strap attachment points too. Next time I’ll leave a bit more length in the seam!

  

Next up is my Grainline Driftless Cardigan. This is actually the second Driftless Cardigan I’ve made, though the first one never made it to the blog (I made it out of a beige wool sweatshirting, which is lovely and warm and got worn a lot over winter, but it has pilled horribly and definitely looks like a house-only garment). This one is a cotton/poly blend from the remnant bin at The Fabric Store, and it has an amazing bobbly bouclé texture. I had only just enough fabric to squeeze this out, though I did have to piece the neckband. The texture of the fabric means the join is invisible though, I can only find it by feeling for the extra thickness of the seam. 

  

I really wanted to use the high/low hem bands from view B, but due to the aforementioned fabric shortage I could only manage the standard hem band. To compensate, I followed the split hem instructions anyway, and I like the result just as much! 

  

I do like the cocoon shape of the cardigan! I also like the way the slim sleeves balance out the volume in the body, making it look oversized but not like I’m wearing someone else’s much bigger cardi.

  

I overlocked the whole thing, even the neckband (the instructions say to hand stitch or topstitch the neckband over to give a neater finish), which seems to be staying in plave after a good steam. I’ve been wearing it so much, its the perfect weight for this time of year. Unfortunately I realised this morning that I’d managed to get something yellow on it, I suspect it might be a bit of curry paste from dinner last night! So its soaking down in the laundry, and I’m desperately hoping that it’ll come out. Otherwise I might have to get a black felt pen out to disguise the worst of the yellow!

  

So those are my new layering staples! I’m so happy with both, though I can’t wait for it to get warm enough to be able to wear camisoles without a wooly layer over the top…

Southport the Third: the birthday version

I know, I know, this is the third True Bias Southport dress I’ve posted about in as many months. But this one is special, its my birthday dress!

Once again its made out of rayon, because why change a good thing? This time its rayon challis, and it is much better behaved and much nicer to wear than my crepe version. I have a well documented stripe obsession, so I was pretty excited to find this fabric last year! I had originally earmarked it for a jacket lining, but I decided it really wanted to be a dress. And as my sewing skills seem to have gone out of the window since I went back to work this year, I thought I would stick to something familiar, which I knew I’d wear heaps.

So it should have been easy! I remembered that I took 5/8″ off the straps of my blue Southport, so I cracked on and took 5/8″ off these ones too. I got all the binding on nice and smooth first time, the skirt went together beautifully, all my stripes matched up perfectly, and I was really enjoying myself. I tried it on to decide where I should hem it (I had a feeling it would look weird if the skirt ended on a white stripe, so I left a narrow black border, which I think was a good decision), and found that the arm holes were so high and tight that I felt like Quasimodo. At that point I remembered how I had modified the straps and traced off my new bodice shape after my last Southport, so I had now removed 1 1/4″. Shit. No wonder it was a bit tight! I was so miffed that I had to unpick all my beautiful binding… Happily I could let the seam allowance at the shoulder out to a tiny amount, and they’re almost right. The armhole is still a bit high, and the binding isn’t as neat as my first go, but at least its wearable! And did I mention my stripe matching?


Even inside the pockets!

I can’t believe that I’ve done something stupid each time I’ve made this dress. I’ve now made a clear note on my bodice pattern piece, hopefully I won’t do anything so silly again!


I do really like this dress though. Perhaps not quite as much as my blue version, but a close second. I love the matte black buttons that I chose (thanks you instagram for persuading me that plain black was the way to go!) and I stuck with the easy option and used grosgrain ribbon again. I’m hoping I might have enough of this fabric left to make myself a Tiny Pocket Tank or something similar! I wore it all day on my birthday, and it took me from posh morning tea with my Mum, Sister and Aunt to present shopping and burgers for lunch with Monsieur, to a cup of tea with my MiL, to Sangria and Tapas with my lovely friends without ever making me feel out of place. What more could I ask of a dress?


Fancy cakes (I’m not even sure if cake is the right word, but they’re delicious!), my chocolate cake-salted caramel-chocolate mouss confection, a super cute vintage pattern I found when we were present shopping, and the kitty seal of approval for my dress. A lovely day!

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Missing: my sew-jo. It has been gone for at least a month now, and I am desperately seeking its safe return…

Funnily enough, when I look back at my posts from last year, I was saying exactly the same thing last February. Maybe its the heat? Its so hot in my little sewing room, its like a sauna in there. I also have a pair of extremely cuddly kittens demanding my attention at all times (such a hardship). I’ve been trying to get some things done, I have so many things I want to make, but nothing seems to be going right. I think I just need one good project that I enjoy sewing and that turns out really well, and I’ll be away again. Fingers crossed! 

Anyway, before my sewing slump, I finished another Southport dress in rayon crepe. This seems to be the summer of rayon for me!

  
 

I love the colour of this fabric, it was called ‘raisin’ on the tag but I think its more maroon than brown. Either way, I think its really pretty! 
  

I had a bit of trouble with the crepe, it just has so much give it it that it felt like the bodice was growing as I sewed, even with rows of staystitching! It definitely feels bigger and saggier in the bodice than my first version. I had enough fabric to make a self-fabric tie this time, and I turned that whole narrow tube inside out and threaded it through the waist casing before I realised that the crepe fabric was far too rough and sticky to slide smoothly and gather the waist in evenly. Happily I managed to find some ribbon in just the right colour, which makes it much easier to cinch in the waist!

  

I only made one change to the patten this time, which was to make an all in one facing for the arm holes and neckline. I had so much trouble getting my binding to sit flat around the armscye last time that I thought this might make things easier, but in hindsight the lack of rigid bias tape around the neckline might be contributing to the crepe drooping the way it is. 
  

It was easy to make the facing, I just traced off the neck and armscye shape down to the bust dart from the front and back, and drew a curved line from the side seam up to the cente back and front points. If I do it this way again I’ll reinforce the neckline with twill tape though!

I’ve got fabric for one more Southport this summer, I’m hoping I’ll have it done in time for my birthday at the end of the month. Next weekend we’re heading up to Napier for another Art Deco Weekend, so I’ll have a bit of vintage sewing to share, the first of three garments I want to sew as part of the 2016 Vintage Pattern Pledge. After that, hopefully my sewing equilibrium will have returned, and everything will go back to normal!

All good in the end

This is the dress that very nearly never was…

  

It shouldn’t have been difficult, really. The pattern is the Southport Dress from True Bias, one I bought as soon as it was released. It’s a style of dress I love for summer, and I was pretty impatient waiting for the warm weather to show up so that I could get to it! The fabric is Cotton + Steel Frock rayon, which I got from Miss Matatabi as part of my Carolyn Pyjama Party prize, and it is so lovely. Its quite different feeling from most of the rayon I’ve sewn with (mostly crepe), very smooth and soft. It was so nice to sew, it pressed beautifully and was generally just a joy. 

  

However, I only had 1.5 yards of the rayon, and the pattern called for 2.3. I figured that I could cut the pocket pieces out of some matching navy silk which I had in my big scraps pile, and I bought some navy grosgrain ribbon for the tie (I asked for groz-grain ribbon in the shop, and the lady had to tell me it was pronounced gro-grain, what a pleb! I’m also scared of asking about tricot knit, is that french pronunciation too??). I laid out all of my pieces, and realised that I could do it if I cut the skirt pieces with the selvedge in the seam allowances. The selvidges are something I’ll need to be aware of if I buy more Cotton + Steel fabric, not only is it really narrow but it has quite wide contrasting selvedge (how many times can I fit the word selvadge into a paragraph?).

  

I quite like that I’ve got the fabric details running up my skirt seams! So I cut the skirt and back bodice out, then opened the fabric out flat so that I could match the diamonds running across the bodice. Then I cut out two right bodice pieces, because sometimes I’m a total muppet. I had enough to cut a left bodice, but that meant I needed to piece the waist tie casing. Not a major disaster, but annoying! Must pay better attention when cutting out.
  

The other thing that caused me grief was getting the binding right on the arm holes. It went on fine around the neck, but I just could not get it to lie flat and not pucker around the bottom of the armscye. I had at least 5 goes at it before I got it sewn in pucker free, but it’s still not sitting flat. I think I might have picked binding that is a bit heavy and wide, but its not a problem I’ve had before! Next time (because there will be a next time) I think I’ll cut a facing for the arm holes at least.
  
 After that wee drama everything went smoothly. The instructions were really good, and it was a pretty quick sew. I omitted the buttonholes and just sewed my mother of pearl buttons through both plackets, as its easy to get over my head as it is! I also took 5/8″ off the straps, as I have a short torso.
  

I really love this dress! I wore it today to the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network Christmas picnic, and it was lovely and comfortable and cool. And the expandable waist tie was good with all the food we had! Big thanks to Leimomi for taking these pictures, it was nice to get some direction from the photographer and not have to run backwards and forwards setting the self timer!