Kelly Anorak

I’m finally home! The trip back was pretty dire (I really wish someone would get on with inventing human teleportation, please and thank you), but that’s what I get for living a million miles away. I’ve integrated my UK fabric purchases into my fabric stash, I’ve uploaded my photos, and I’ve spent some quality time with the cats, so I thought I’d finally blog about the Closet Case Files Kelly Anorak that I made up before my trip.

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Best turtle impression

This jacket was so useful, it was the perfect weight to wear once we got further north and the weather started to cool down. I think it looks more stylish than my Waver raincoat, which I also took and wore loads (since it’s waterproof) but which is beginning to get a bit scruffy. I used a stretch twill from The Fabric Store, which I think was marked as Marc Jacobs. I’m always surprised at the rolls of designer fabric which pop up at TFS! It was the perfect colour for what I was after, and it’s quite nice to have a little bit of stretch in a casual jacket. I realised as I was assembling the navy fabric and gold hardware that I was copying this amazing Minoru hack that Sallie Oh made years ago and which I coveted, but didn’t think I had the skills (or the patience) to make such big changes to the pattern. I’m glad I procrastinated long enough for the Kelly pattern to be released and save me the hassle!

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I love hardware-heavy projects like this! I really wanted spring snaps rather than the ring snaps which I used on my Waver, but I haven’t seen them for sale anywhere in New Zealand. I was looking to buy a bunch of bag hardware at the same time, so I just bit the bullet and put an order into Pacific Trimming. It wasn’t too expensive, in the scheme of things, but shipping and the conversion rate definitely made it a bit of a splurge purchase! I got the snaps, draw string stoppers and cord ends from there, and I’m really happy with them. They’re all the same gold tone, which was important to me, and the snaps feel much more sturdy (and make a much more satisfying snapping noise) than the other type I’ve used. And they just look nicer! Similarly, the stoppers and end caps are nice and weighty and look good, I wish I had bought a few more sets. Of course, after I put the order in Closet Case Files released a gold toned version of their hardware kit, but never mind… The zip was a lucky find at Spotlight, I didn’t expect to find a gold and navy separating zip there but I got lucky! It was too long, but I don’t mind shortening zips.

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I used the scraps of Liberty lawn left over from my Willow Tank for the hem binding and the drawstring casing, and I’m really happy with how it looks against the navy. Instead of using standard cord for my drawstring I used some heavy cotton twill tape. I think it looks good, it’s a bit nautical! It’s flat, so squeezing it through the eyelet and the cord stopper (what are those called? I’m sure that isn’t the right word…) was slightly challenging, but now that they’re in place I won’t have to move them again! I also used the twill tape for a hanging loop inside the collar. Also, how good are those pockets? I love big pockets, and these ones can fit pretty much anything I want to put in them.

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So, onto the pattern! I know there has been a bit of negativity around this pattern recently, but I didn’t personally have any issues with the drafting. Because I had to shorten the zip anyway I didn’t really pay attention to the recommended length on the pattern and just shortened it until it fit. I wish I had shortened it another inch, to be honest, because the end of the zipper pull hangs over the edge of the hem when it’s undone! I can’t see it, but I know that it’s there…I did have issues with the zipper and placket though, which were my own stupid fault. I was absolutely flying along on the Saturday I started this, everything was going really smoothly and I was really happy with my progress by the end of the day. On Sunday, I picked it up again, and realised that I had sewn the zip in with the wrong seam allowance, so there wasn’t enough room under the placket for the snaps. I was so upset! I considered carrying on and just fudging it, but I knew that would ultimately really annoy me, and I didn’t want to risk messing up the snaps after getting them all the way from LA! So I gritted my teeth and unpicked the whole damn lot. It’s definitely not as square or as nicely sewn now, as I had graded those seams pretty savagely, but at least the snaps are where they’re supposed to be! it turned out that I had just aligned the edge of the zipper tape with the edge of the fabric, instead of using a 5/8” seam allowance as instructed. Lesson learned there!

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There are some fitting issues here which I need to address before making this pattern again (I’m planning a waterproof version with the hood), mostly around the shoulders. Initially, I thought that I needed to do a narrow shoulder adjustment as the point of the shoulder is slipping down my arm, but now that I’ve worn it for 6 weeks I think that the more important adjustment I need to make is for a forward shoulder. The shoulder seam is sitting about an inch behind my actual shoulder, so that is definitely something I need to look into. I may also need to take some length out of that seam, but I’ll see how it looks after moving it forward! I could also lift the drawstring casing up a wee bit I think. but other than that, I think its pretty good really! There are some funny wrinkles in these photos, but I’m chalking those up to 1) the jacket being in and out of my suitcase for 2 weeks by the time these pictures were taken, and 2) it being super windy and it being blown against my body weirdly!

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I know this has been a long post, but I should also talk about this amazing place! These photos were taken on the island of Skye, and it was just so beautiful there. This is the ruin of Duntulm Castle, on the northern point of Skye. It’s slowly falling into the sea, so you can’t get closer than the fence (which I think is actually to keep the sheep out, rather than reckless tourists), but it was such a stunning, lonely spot. There was a fisherman down on the rocks below the cliff where I was standing, who I didn’t spot until he popped up in the middle of these photos, which is why I look a bit sheepish in some of them! I absolutely loved Skye, I would love to go back for longer some time. I bought the necklace I’m wearing in these pictures (its by Wolf and Moon) from a lovely shop in Portree called Òr, where I also got my birthday present Hilary Grant scarf (this one!). I’m almost wishing we could have a bit more cold weather so that I could wear that scarf now rather than waiting for winter (but not really, bring on summer!)



Minimalist Jacket

Something that has been missing in my wardrobe for a while is a light-ish weight casual jacket. Not a blazer (though I would like another one of those too), just a jacket that I can throw on to go out at the weekend during the weird, in between temperatures we get before Winter sets in properly. I was lucky enough to fish a remnant of wool/cashmere blend out of the remnant basket at The Fabric Store a few weeks ago, and it was the perfect weight for what I wanted. It was only 1m long and 1.5m wide, but I figured that would be enough for something simple! I was debating a number of patterns, but then I remembered the simple zippered jacket in The Beginners Guide to Dressmaking by Wendy Ward. I’ve had the book for a while, but this is the first time I’ve used it. 

(A brief note: I’ve fiddled with the light/colour gradient in these pictures slightly so that the black on black details on the jacket stand out a bit. Unfortunately, this has made my jumper look almost the same colour as my skin tone…don’t be alarmed if it looks like I’m not wearing anything under the jacket, I promise I’m fully dressed!)

The pattern is super simple, but it was pretty much exactly what I wanted. A very simple, minimalist silhouette, no collar to interfere with scarves or shirt collars, and quick to sew. So quick, in fact, that it came together in a day, even with all the hand sewing I ended up doing! 

All of the edges are faced with bias tape, and the side seams and centre back seam are also bound. This helps to make it a very quick sew, but to be honest I think if I made it again I’d make facings! The bias tape is less grey in reality than it appears in these photos, but its still definitely noticible. A couple of the samples in the book use contrast bias tape, and I think it does look better when its made a feature rather than trying to get it to blend in! Self bias tape would be the other option, but the wool was too thick to contemplate that…
I hand sewed all of the bias tape, as topstitching is super obvious with the slight nap that this fabric has. I really like the clean finish, especially around the neckline. The fabric loves steam, so I had fun blasting all of the seams flat and molding all of the curves! It also loves cat fur, I’m beginning to come to terms with the fact that everything I make from now on will be at least 20% cat fur…
The other thing I would change if I was going to make it again would be to cut the left front panel into two, and hide the zipper tape in the seam. Again, having it exposed is a fast solution, but I think it’d be pretty easy to incorporate it into a seam. 
It is slightly too broad across the shoulders when I’m wearing something lightweight under it, but with one of my chunkier hand knit jumpers under it the fit is spot on! I shortened it by about 2 inches, because I couldn’t find a zip the right length, but I think this length is better on my short torso anyway. 
I like it open or zipped up all the way best, I think, but I’ll probably wear it partially zipped the most! Monsieur said it looked like a motorcycle jacket and “those aren’t fashionable for girls are they?”, but I think I’ve managed to prove him wrong, given that every other lady in Wellington seems to be wearing Biker jackets at the moment… I think the lack of collar moves it away from beign too like a motorcycle jacket though.

Theres not really very much to say about this one, it was so simple and easy to make! I’m really happy with how it turned out in the end, even though there are a few modifications I’d make next time. It would be a really good ‘first jacket’ project, as promised by the book! Now I’m looking forward to making the sheath dress from the same book…

New Years Eve in Tokyo

Sadly, not Tokyo, Japan. Tokyo, the pattern from Tessuti!


I love the kimono jackets that are fashionable at the moment, and I spent all of the southern hemisphere winter lusting after the amazing summer versions I kept seeing popping up on everyones blogs. I promised myself I would make myself one for our summer! Unfortunately, summer in Wellington is somewhat unpredictable, and a light silky jacket would get next to no wear. I really wanted a lightweight wool crepe, or a medium weight rayon crepe or something similar, but I just couldn’t find the fabric I wanted. Then, this month, I kept seeing beautiful festive dresses being made up in velvet. Suddenly, all I could think of was a silk velvet Tokyo, preferably in a rich, jewel tone like forest green or goldenrod yellow.


Now in hindsight, this is the point when I really should have taken a step back and examined my mental state, because I had clearly lost the plot. But my head was too full of dizzying mental images of me swanning around a glamorous New Years Eve party in my yellow velvet jacket, drinking gin and generally doing my best Zelda Fitzgerald impression. The only snag was that I couldn’t find yellow velvet anywhere. I should have stopped then, but instead I bought this lovely deep purple/blue silk velvet from The Fabric Store. Still drunk on the idea of all of the 1920’s glamour that would soon be mine, I took it home and started to cut the Tokyo jacket out of it. This was the point when the first few doubts began to trickle into my mind. Turns out silk velvet is just as shifty and slippery and tricky as normal silk, but with the added difficulty of having a nap. I cut everything out in a single layer with the nap running down the jacket, and hoped that things hadn’t shifted too far off grain.


Turns out, the cutting out was the easy part! I must have used every single one of my pins trying to put the pocket bags and bands onto the jacket fronts, and they still slid around all over the place. I wanted to cry, or hurl it out of the window. I really wanted to jam it back into the bag and stick it in the corner. The dream was well and truly over by this point! Instead I unpicked and restitched and unpicked and restitched until I reached the point where I decided it was good enough. The side seams and shoulder seams were easier to sew, though just as pin heavy, but the neckband gave me similar issues. I hand stitched the neckband to the inside, as the idea of topstitching made me feel physically ill, and did the same for the hem.


The worst part is, after all that struggle, I don’t really like it. I was hoping to have a jacket that I could wear with all of my vintage dresses, but also with trousers or something if I was going out in the evening. It looks ok with my vintage gear, and I’m sure it’ll get worn at Art Deco Weekend in February, but I’m not sure if it’ll get worn many other times. Its also finished terribly, because I was so disheartened with the whole thing. Originally I was going to try to finish the seams with binding, but I just couldn’t be bothered once I realised that the finished garment wasn’t going to live up to my mental picture of it. I like the pattern, and I’m sure it would have worked much better in a lightweight, drapey fabric, but I just feel frumpy in it. When I showed it to Monsieur, he said it looked like a wizards outfit, but without the benefit of the giant sleeves. And I think he’s kinda right…


I did learn some things about working with velvet though:

– If you have to iron it (which I did, because it had been crushed on the bolt), fold it in half with the fuzzy sides together, and iron in the direction of the nap. Use lots of steam, and minimal pressure. I found that I was mostly just steaming mine, and it came up fine, no crushing of the pile. For the seam allowances I used lots of steam and very light pressure, moving the iron in the direction of the nap.

– Use all of your pins, or baste things together, because velvet is shifty and not to be trusted.

– Velvet dust will trigger your hayfever, beware!

So there we go, my last post for the year and the garment which concludes my 52 week creative challenge. I wish it was a winner, but never mind! I’m still unbelievably proud of myself for achieving the goal I set for myself this time last year. And I’m pretty damn proud of nearly everything I’ve made this year, so thats a win, over all. I’ll be back tomorrow with my last Top 5 Post, and with a some number crunching from 2014. Hope you all have a good New Years Eve, whatever you have planned!


It does go beautifully with the lovely fan I was given for Christmas, and with the marcasite art deco cocktail ring I was given by Monsieur, I was very lucky this Christmas!