Minttu Swing Top

Just a quick wee post today to show off my latest finished garment, the Minttu Swing Top from the new Named collection. 


I love Named patterns, I always look forward to their pattern releases, and their SS17 collection Playground didn’t disappoint! Even though I’m in the wrong hemisphere for them to be seasonally appropriate, I still immediately bought both the Minttu and the Ansa butterfly sleeve dress patterns. We’re having a late burst of summer weather in Wellington at the moment, so I thought I might as well squeeze in another sleeveless top!


I have to admit, I didn’t really read the fine print on this one before hitting buy, I didn’t realise it was meant for knits until I was reading the instructions! I swapped out the woven rayon I was planning to use for this rayon/wool knit, I thought it might be better to try the pattern as intended before branching out (though now that I’ve made it, I’m sure it would work in a lightweight woven. I’ll need to size up and adjust the neckline so I can get my head though it though…) This knit is super soft and very drapey, so I think it works pretty well. I made a Scout tee shirt out of it last winter and have worn it heaps, but it is quite thick and weirdly heavy, so it tends to stretch out all over the place.


The combination of weighty knit and lots of stretch and drape means that the hem of this top often looks uneven, but it’s just because I’ve tugged it down unevenly or it’s got caught up on my jeans pocket or something, it goes back to sitting evenly once I settle everything back to where it should be! I do like how this swingy silhouette looks with the drape of this fabric, so I’m not too fussed with having to readjust it occasionally.


The pattern calls for interfaced facings, which has definitely helped to stabilise the neckline and armholes. The main fabric is quite thick, so I used a much thinner, less stretchy knit and a knit interfacing for the facings and I think it has worked well. It’s definitely helped to retain the slightly angular shape of the armscye. I’m not going to lie though, the instructions for attaching the facings at the armscye did my head in! I managed it in the end, but it took me ages to get the pinch and turn-through method that they described right. It looks lovely and clean inside now though! 


It’s really hard to see the seam details in this knit, but there are no side seams, just two side panels which form the shape of the armscye when they intersect with the front and back pieces. I love the cut away armscye, though it isn’t terribly bra-friendly. I need to get one of those clips to turn my bras into racer backs!

I think this is a great pattern, and I’m going to use some of my precious striped rayon knit to make another one. I think the panels offer a good opportunity to play with stripe direction or pattern placement! I think it could be lengthened into a really cute dress as well, but that might have to wait until next summer…

Spotty chambray sheath dress

I’ve been really wanting some easy to wear dresses this summer. Last summer I was all about the Southport dress, but I’ve had a couple of nasty sunburns this summer (bad Kiwi! Should know better!) so I was wanting something with a bit more coverage. I bought McCalls 7464 in the post-Thanksgiving sale last year, and I thought the jewel neckline and sleeves would give me a bit more protection. It helps that a sheath dress was one of the items in my #2017makenine too…

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I used a lovely Japanese chambray from Miss Matatabi. It’s so soft and comfortable, but I think I bought the last of it sorry! It was really lovely to sew, and I have a chunk left over for a top. I find some chambray too blue (I know that sounds stupid, they’re obviously all blue), but this softer cornflower blue is the perfect colour for me. I imagine it’ll be lovely in the heat, though I haven’t had the chance to test that theory yet due to our stormy, chilly summer!

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M7464 is a ‘petite’pattern. I wasn’t 100% sure what that meant, but it turns out that it means the patterns have a shorter nape to back waist length which is perfect for me! It was a simple enough pattern to sew up, I read through the instructions once before starting and then didn’t really refer to them again. I really like the shape of this dress, with it’s front and back princess seams, I think it’s really flattering but not too form fitting! I made view C, but with everything cut on grain rather than cutting the princess panels on the bias (so technically probably view A without the pockets. Either/or.)

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I do wish I had a better match with my zip colour. I thought this pale blue one would be best, but I might have been better with a navy one! Either way, it isn’t too bad really.  One thing I did change from the pattern was to omit the full lining, as I was after an easy breezy summer frock. Instead I used the tutorial for drafting Non-Flip Facings from What Katie Sews. It worked really well, they haven’t popped out of the neckline once! next time I will make the front facing an inch deeper at the centre front neck, as I failed to take the seam allowance into consideration and so it’s only about 1 and 1/4 inches deep at the CF. Even so, it stays put!

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I am really happy with this dress, but there are a few changes I’ll make for next time (and I have two pieces of fabric set aside for another summer version and a winter version already). I feel like the waist of this dress is sitting at the right place, but I have about 2 inches of excess fabric in the upper chest. You can see it bubbling around my collarbones in some of the above pictures. If I pinch it out, the whole dress just feels perfect around the upper chest, rather than feeling a bit sloppy. I’ll need to do some research into the best way to remove that excess fabric and how to modify the sleeve to fit the new armhole (any suggestions or tutorials appreciated!). The back length feels fine, but I might experiment with removing excess from the front and back as well as removing it all from the front. There are toiles in my future! Once I’ve got that sorted, I think I’ll have a perfect dress pattern.

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Furry photo bomb! Zelda is so nosy, she always needs to know what’s going on when  I have the door of my sewing room closed. She must get terrible FOMO when I leave for work every morning…

 

More Secret Pyjamas: Sallie Playsuit

I feel like I’ve spent weeks sewing for a summer which still hasn’t shown up! We’ve had gale force winds all week (strong even for Wellington, I thought I was going to have a Wizard of Oz moment one night), and now that they’ve finally dropped off the clouds have come down so low that I can’t see to the end of the street. Get it together Wellington, I have shorts and lovely floaty linen tops which need to be worn! I did manage to wear this play suit for most of yesterday, until it got a bit chilly in the afternoon and I had to revert back to jeans…

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I made this up just after Christmas, during my manic stay-home-and-sew holiday. I bought about five metres of this black knit from the Fabric Warehouse’s massive fabric sale sometime last year, and its lovely and soft. I can’t remember what it actually is, but I’m assuming a cotton/lycra/something blend. It was very easy to cut and sew, the edges only rolled a little bit and it went through my overlocker and sewing machine with no trouble. I have so much left, I think I’ll make myself a slip and some camisoles out of some of it and them stash the rest of it until inspiration strikes!

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The pattern is the Sallie Jumpsuit and Maxi-dress from Closet Case Files, the only alteration I made was to lop the legs off the jumpsuit at the length I wanted them! In hindsight I wish that I had widened the shorts slightly, or maybe just gone up a size in the bottom half, just so that I had a bit more room for the pockets and a bit more flare in the shorts. When I went back and read the post Heather Lou wrote about her playsuit she outlined exactly how to make the shorts more swingy, and I’m kicking myself for not looking up that post before making this!

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Even with the narrower shorts I think it’s a pretty cute and easy to wear garment. I love the front and back V necklines, and the little cap sleeves. I must have stretched one side of the neckline out slightly, probably when I was fusing the inferfacing to it right at the beginning, and it does annoy me slightly. You can see in the first photo that the left side of the neckline isn’t sitting quite right. I do love the clean finish that lining the bodice gives though, and the double layer of this thin knit means that it doesn’t show the line of my bra which is nice. In fact, I ended up using a double layer of fabric on the shorts as well, as they were a bit clingy and definitely showed too much VPL! Two layers is a nice weight, but it was a bit of a fiddle adding the lining into the shorts once it was all assembled. I do like to make things difficult. for myself…

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I’m pretty sure I’ll always wear it with a belt, but here it is without. I have a few changes I’d like to make if I make it again (and I would like to make it again, I think it’d be a great travel garment!). Firstly, I’ll pick a slightly thicker knit to try to avoid the clingy shorts thing, and just line the bodice with something lightweight. I’ll also follow the tutorial to make the legs wider. I had a bit of an epiphany when I tried this on for the first time, never having had any success with RTW playsuits (or the woven one I so ambitiously made when I was new to sewing). Because I have a really high waist I need to take length off the bodice or it’ll be way to blousy/gapey, a mod which I make automatically now, and which doesn’t really affect anything when I’m making a dress but really does when I’m adding a pair of shorts instead of a skirt. My crotch depth is pretty standard, so of course I need to add length to it if I’m hoisting the waist up by a few inches. It seems so basic now that I think about it, but I hadn’t ever considered it. So next time, add the amount I take off the length of the bodice to the shorts! I also want to have a go at the dress, I think it would be another lovely easy to wear summer garment. So many plans, so little time…

Even though it isn’t perfect I’m pretty sure it’ll still get some wear (if summer ever shows up), because it really is so soft and comfortable. And yes, getting out of it to go to the loo is slightly more hassle than if you were wearing a dress or shorts and a tee shirt, but it’s really not a problem. The neckline is plenty wide enough to make it quick and easy!

2016 Top Five

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It’s that navel gazing time of year again! I love reading everyone’s annual round ups, and I’ve enjoyed participating in Gillian’s top five series for the last two years (I’ve nearly been blogging for three years, that blows my mind!). This year I was only going to to my top five hits and misses, as my goals and reflections are pretty much the same every time, but when I was looking though my posts for the year I realised that I wouldn’t class anything that I’ve made this year as a miss. I’ve had less sewing time this year, so I think I’ve been more considered and careful in my general approach which has only benefited my sewing as a whole! This morning I saw Katie’s top five post, and I really liked how she made a list of the garments which weren’t sewn this year, but which are still being worn regularly. I find that I fall out of love pretty regularly with stuff that I’ve made (I’ve just sent a huge pile to a local charity shop), so I thought I’d be a shameless copycat and do the same in the hope that it might reveal some common trends.

But first, here are my Top Five Hits for 2016…

  1. My 1960’s Party Dress

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It’s been worn to two weddings this year, and I’ve felt amazing in it both times. I adore the fabric, love the shape of the skirt and the neckline, and I feel like it’s a solid addition to my wardrobe. I can’t think of many formal events it wouldn’t be appropriate for!

2) Waterproof Waver Jacket

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A water resistant jacket is an absolute necessity in Wellington, and this one served me well over the winter (and Spring, and Summer so far…thanks Welly), too short sleeves and all!

3) My Leather Genoa Bag

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Another happy marriage of pattern and material! It’s so practical, and so pretty, and I’ve had so many complements on it since I finished it!

4) Wool Crepe Alexandria Trousers

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They’ve been an excellent alternative to jeans, and always make me feel a bit more dressy, even though they feel like pyjamas. What more could I want?

5) Helmi Dress

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This one surprised me, but I love it! I wore it to my work Christmas party, and I’ve worn it out a few time since I finished it, and it’s so comfortable but still looks so cool.

 

Top Five most worn from previous years:

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Probably nothing too surprising here! My first Southport Dress had so much wear over the summer, I’m looking forward to pulling it out again soon. The mustard Brume skirt is a favourite for the weekends all year around, I love wearing it with fleecy tights. My Cascade Coat is still one of my biggest sewing achievements to date, and it got just as much wear this winter as it did last year. Same goes for my Wickerwork Jumper, its just so squishy and cozy, and now that I’ve bought a de-piller, it’s looking just as good as when I finished it! Finally, the oldest of the bunch, and probably the most worn, my knit scout tee. It still gets worn about once a week, I love it so much! The fabric is still holding up really well, its only showing a little bit of wear. In fact, I’m wearing as I write this post!

I’m intrigued that no knits made it into my top five this year. I’ve sewn a lot of tee shirts this year, but I suppose they aren’t really top five material! I definitely like my basic easy-to-wear clothes, as evidenced by my most-worn. If I put together a similar list next year, I’m sure that there will be a huge number of Lark Tee shirts on it. I definitely haven’t been wearing my Scout tees as much this year, a few of them went in the donation bag. Though that was more due to changing taste in fabric than because of the pattern. I feel like I’ve moved away from the sack silhouette I was sewing a lot last year, even my Helmi dress gets belted rather than left loose. I did buy the Grainline Studio Farrow and Willow patterns in the Black Friday sale though, so who knows what’ll happen when it gets hot again?

And finally, here are two of my favourite things from the past year:

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Mr Scotty!

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…and Zelda! We’ll have had them for a year next week, I love their fuzzy little faces so much ❤

Another Shirtdress for Spring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pyjama Party!

Last month my beloved Peter Alexander fox covered pyjama pants suffered a catastrophic fabric failure, rendering them somewhat unfit for function (the bum fell out of them, in short). I was pretty sad, they were so comfortable and soft, but I had been wearing them and washing them for over 4 years, so I suppose it wasn’t unexpected! Obviously that meant that I should make another pair of Carolyn Pyjama pants, out of a super cute Cotton + Steel cotton print. Before I show you them though I’ll start with a pair of Carolyn Shorts which I made way back at the beginning of the year, when we were experiencing some seriously hot summer nights, and which I never got around to blogging…

  

Zelda the fuzzy photobomber busted her way though the door just as the timer on my camera went off…

These shorts are made from a lovely soft Japanese cotton lawn which I found at Spotlight. They’re made exactly as the pattern instructs, but I piped the pocket opening as well as the cuff just because I thought it looked cute.

  

I made the piping from some hot pink bias tape, I like how it picks up the pink in the print (try saying that five times fast). I made size 8 shorts again, same as my previous pair.

 

The tee shirt for both sets of pyjamas is a Scout Tee, made up in soft cotton knit. I love making knit Scouts, they’re such a comfortable shape to wear, especially for sleepwear. I cut the smallest possible size, like I did last time I made it in a knit, and just winged it when making the neckband.
 

My latest pair are pretty basic, to be honest. I didn’t bother with cuffs or piping, I just let the super cute fabric be the focus! It’s a Cotton + Steel print, from their recent From Porto With Love collection. Its a bit heavier than the Japanese cotton I used for the shorts, but that’s ok for Winter. I’ve never used C+S quilting cotton before, and it is rather nice. I have a length of it ready to be made into a dress for Summer (alsoa navy cat print, I’m so predictable), so I’ll be interested to see how much these soften up with repeated washing.

  

I seriously considered making a size 10 for these, but stuck with an 8 in the end. I’m not totally convinced I made the right decision, they are slimmer than I’m used to for pyjamas, but they feel comfortable enough!
  

I love this fabric, the chunky little cats remind me of my own chunky little cat! I asume that the pattern is meant to look like the gorgeous blue and white ceramic tiles that cover buildings in Porto, so I love that they remind me of the amazing week I spent in Lisbon and Porto four years ago. Portugal remains one of my favourite places that I visited on that trip, I’d love to go back!

Carpino Pullover


This post is brought to you by the colour teal (and the letter B, for ‘bloody hell, I can’t believe it’s finally finished’)! I didn’t realise how monochromatic this jumper was against my sewing room wall, hopefully I’m not too camoflaged…

This is the Carpino Pullover, from Brooklyn Tweed Wool People vol. 6. It’s a 4ply jumper knit top down and in the round, with a mesh/lace panel on the front.

I really love the shape of this jumper, I was initally attracted to the boat neck with the i-cord neckband and the curved lines at the raglan sleeve/body junction. It didn’t hurt that the sample was knitted in my favourite mustard colour either!

The pattern has the waist shaping on the back of the jumper instead of at the side seams, and I love how it fits. It hasn’t completely removed the pooling I get at the small of my back, but it has reduced it considerably! I would definitely consider borrowing the shaping from this pattern for some others.

I picked out some Quince & Co. Finch wool for this, in the belize colourway. I loved knitting with it, its so squashy and nice! Knitting a whole jumper in 4ply wool definitely tested my patience though. Even if it felt like I had been knitting for hours, it would only have grown by an inch! Ravelry tells me I started this at the end of September, with plans to have it finished in time to wear last spring. Such optimism! It took me four months to finish the body, mostly because I found it quite boring to knit. The lace was a really simple pattern repeat, which was good because otherwise I might have found it hard to keep track of where I was…

I’m glad I have it finished, even if it is in time for Autumn rather than Spring! Its still way to hot for a wooly jumper, even a lightweight lace one, which is partly why its taken me so long to get photos. I also had to wait for a weekend when I didn’t want access to my sewing room so that I could lay it out on the floor in there to block it, as the kittens thought it was a great sleeping spot! Zelda in particular loves this jumper, she always wants to knead it and rub her face on it when she sees it out. I’m terrified she’s going to put pulls in it, but she’s been very well behaved so far…

When I was knitting this I said I would never knit a 4ply jumper again, but then Quince & Co. released this pattern in February, which is making me wonder if I should break that promise (though technically April is knit in 2ply, so maybe it doesn’t count? I must be mental, either way…)