Kochi Kimono

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Mini Making

I’ve reached the age where my friends are all starting to have babies (which is lovely, but alarming. I’m sure we aren’t old enough for these things. Yes I know I’ve just turned 30, shh). Obviously, I’m using this as an opportunity to make lots of tiny cute things for them! I’ve given two sets of gifts so far, so I’ll post about those ones now and the other ones later, so that I don’t spoil the surprise in the unlikely event that the recipients read my blog…

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First up is this super cute little jumper. It’s the Livingston pattern by Nadia Cretin-Lechenne, which I fell in love with when I saw Abbey Morris post her version on instagram. I love the cute button up neck and the loopy texture on the front panel, and it was a fun wee pattern to make. I couldn’t figure out how the stitch pattern worked until I started knitting, but you slip two stitches for two rows, and then move them two stitches to either side with a cable needle on the third row. Simple and effective! Knitting the front flap was easier than I expected, though I did have to fudge it a little bit and do some tidying up at the edges of the openings when I sewed the ribbing down at the bottom of the openings on either side.

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I used Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino for the first time on this project, and it is so nice to knit with! It’s so soft, and the stitch definition is lovely. I initially bought two balls, intending to make the newborn size, but my friend is having a large baby according to her recent scans so I decided to make the 3 month size instead! I had to put a rush order in to get another ball so I could finish it in time for her baby shower, but it all worked out fine! He’s due at the end of the month, so if the sizing is right we’ll be in the middle of winter when he fits it, which would be perfect. I picked some plastic tortoiseshell-ish buttons out of my stash, I like that they’re fairly neutral but not boring.

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To finish off the gift I made up a couple of pairs of tiny sweatpants using some merino sweatshirting left over from my other projects. I used the Streaky Legs pattern from Ottobre Magazine (Spring issue 1 Kids from 2015), there are so many good patterns in that magazine! These pants are super simple, just two pattern pieces (front/back and cuff), and they’re so cute. The sizing is done by measuring the height of the child, which is a bit tough when a) you’re making a gift, and b) the kid is still in utero, but I had a guess and hopefully they’ll fit! Stupidly I didn’t look at the instructions, because they were so simple, but if I had checked I would have noticed that there were no seam allowances included in the pattern. Unfortunately I didn’t pick that up until I was checking to see how much elastic to put in the waistband. Being a European pattern from a magazine I should have expected that there were no seam allowances, so it was a bit stupid of me. Hopefully they’ll fit for a little while at least!

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For my other baby gift I made up a couple of baby bibs and a little sun hat in some super cute matching cotton. I love that there are lots of uses for craft cottons when making baby stuff, there are so many gorgeous prints that I would never use otherwise! I used two free patterns, the Purl Soho Bib and the Oliver + S Bucket Hat. Both patterns were really easy to use, and I love the results for each!

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I chose a woodland themed cotton from Stitchbird Fabrics for these gifts, as the baby I was making them for is a Canadian/Kiwi and I thought he would appreciate the bears and squirrels (eventually). I paired the cotton with more remnants from my stash, the orange is the left over linen from my Harvest Tee. I thought it was a slightly unexpected colour to pair with the muted colours of the cotton, but it matches the squirrels and deer and I liked the contrast!

The bibs were a very quick and easy sew. I used a scrap of blue drill (left over from Hamish’s first Jedediah shorts, I think) and sewed on a patch with my favourite bear on it, so that everything wasn’t too visually similar. For the backing I used a nice squishy cotton sweatshirting, with the looped side facing out. I just couldn’t find toweling anywhere, and buying a towel to cut up seemed messy and a bit wasteful when I could just use sweatshirting! Hopefully it’ll do the job just fine…

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It turns out sewing baby gear is a great stash buster, I’m so glad I’ve been holding onto all of my merino scraps! baby stuff is nice and quick to sew up too, perfect for fitting in around other projects. Expect to see a few more teeny garments being made in the next few months…

Teal Shift Dress

A few posts ago I mentioned that I was trying to sew more for others, as my wardrobe is rapidly reaching bursting point. I made linen shorts for Hamish, and at the same time I made a Pauline Alice Xerea shift dress for my lovely Mum. She was looking for a nice breezy dress to combat the hot weather we were having, but something that was still stylish and nice enough for the office. I’ve got a few sack and shift dress patterns in my pattern library, so I got her over to have a look, but  wasn’t surprised when she picked Xerea! I thought she would like the pockets and the shape of the dress, and she did. Then she picked out a lovely teal milled linen from The Fabric Store, and I got sewing!

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The first thing I did was lengthen it by about 30cm. As drafted the pattern is really short, and Mum is several inches taller than me, so I thought I would hedge my bets and add loads of length that I could trim back later! It turned out to be about the right length, I trimmed off 2cm and then turned up a 3cm hem to get it sitting just at the knee.

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We also opted not to add the short sleeves on, so I trimmed the armscye back a centimetre or so and then hemmed them with the same bias tape I used around the neckline. This is the third time I’ve made this pattern, and it always comes together really quickly and neatly! I love the princess seams/dior darts/curved pocket combo (not that you can see any of those details particularly well in this plain linen, but they’re there and are really nice), and the V neck at the back is also a lovely detail.

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The only thing I’d change for next time would be to scoop the front neckline out slightly, as Mum finds it slips backwards a bit and can become a bit restrictive, depending on how she’s sitting! She’s worn it heaps, which is gratifying, and we’re talking about trying out a long sleeved woolen version for winter. I think I’d change the back neckline to be a standard high curve, drop the front neckline, and add a centre back seam with an invisible zip for a winter version. Or maybe put a keyhole and button in the back yoke? I’ll need to have a think about it!

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Maybe I’m coming around to sewing for other people, it is nice when you can make something for someone who really appreciates it! It’s a chance to make stuff that I wouldn’t necessarily make for myself either, which can be fun. Though I think my sewing time this year is going to be a bit limited now that I’m back to studying, so it might be a while between sewing projects for other people…

Thanks for modeling for me Mum, I’m glad you like your dress! xx

Summer Favourite

Just a quick post today to show off one of my new favourite dresses! At the end of my last post I mentioned that I was going to get some striped tee-shirt weight knit from Drapers Fabrics, and here is the resulting dress (I paid for this fabric, no collaboration this time). Drapers is still offering readers 15% off with the code FIFTYTWOFANCIES, in case any of you have your eye on any of their pretties!

So…this dress didn’t start off as a winner. I initially had a lengthened version of the Papercut Kyoto tee in mind, as I thought the dropped shoulder and ruffle combo would look really cute in the stripes, and it would be nice with a belt on hot days. Unfortunately, I completely disregarded the heft of this cotton knit as I was making these plans. It’s a lovely tee shirt weight, almost like a very lightweight ponte, but it was far too stiff for those shoulder ruffles, it was like I had little wings (and not it a cute way)! I always really like the idea of ruffle or big shoulders and sleeves, but in reality adding them on top of my proportionally bigger bust and my super short hair just makes me look like a pinhead. I sulked for a few hours, and then got out the scissors and McCall’s 6886


So much better! The weight of this fabric is much better suited to a dress which isn’t reliant on draping right to look good (so obvious in hindsight, I need to put a bit more thought into these things sometimes!). Because the Kyoto Tee pattern has straight side seams (which I had flared out slightly as I lengthened it), I had enough fabric once I had cut all the overlocked seams off to re-cut the narrower pattern pieces of M6886 from the existing front and back. Which meant I didn’t have to think about matching the stripes as I was cutting out, because I had already done it the first time around!


I cut the crew neckline again, same as my merino version, but as this is a 100% cotton knit I didn’t trust that turn-and-stitch method for the neckline. Instead I traced off a facing and used that instead. There is still a little bit of gaping around the neckline from it stretching over my head, but I can live with that.



I could probably do with a sway back adjustment for this pattern, or some fish eye darts, but given that it’s such an easy, casual, pull on dress I’m not really worried about a few wrinkles back there! 

I’ve worn this dress several times a week since I finished it, it’s been perfect for the incredible hot weather we’re having. I’ve been slack and had a couple of nasty sunburns already this year, so I love not having to worry about whether I’ve got enough sunblock on my chest and shoulders. 


Yay for not wasting fabric! 

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!