October Round up

So I totally flaked and forgot to write up my monthly report on the 31st! Whoops. Here it is, two days late…

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October was another five make month, so I managed to finish…

A pair of Tessuti Suzy pants (though these were posted on the first, so were technically made in September. I’ll count them anyway!)
A new lining for my favourite RTW blazer
Another Sewaholic Renfrew
A petticoat for a vintage dress
A By Hand London Holly playsuit with the cross over Flora bodice

Quite a busy month really! I was also nominated for a Liebster Award, and took part in a Blog Hop. I don’t think I learned any new techniques, aside from the proper way to bag line a jacket, but I have branched out with attempts to modify and adapt patterns. I changed up the waistband on my Suzy Pants, hacked my Holly playsuit and Renfrew, and more or less made up the pattern and method for the petticoat and blazer lining. I’ve entered my playsuit in the By Hand London #patternhackathon competition on Instagram, just for fun! There are some pretty awesome things under that hashtag, go and check them out!

Finally, happy halloween to those of you who celebrate it! Its a bit of a non event in Wellington, but I used it as an excuse to make some gingerdead men 🙂

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August Roundup

Last day of winter! Yay! I’m sitting here typing this in brilliant sunshine, listening to one of our local Tui sing his wee heart out, and I’m feeling full of the joys of spring! (A tui is a NZ native bird, they have a very distinctive song. We’ve very lucky to have a number of them living in the trees in our neighbourhood!)
This month has been pretty busy, and I’ve only finished one garment for me! I did make two items for other people though, a Coppelia cardigan for my mum and a self drafted teeshirt for Monsieur.

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My button-back hemlock has had various outings this month, both over shirts and over tee shirts, so I’m very pleased with how that turned out! I’m also pretty pleased with my braided bead necklace, I like how it brightens up my outfits with mimimal fuss!

So, in short, this month has produced:
Two tops (Hemlock and self drafted tee)
One cardigan (Papercut Coppelia)
One accessory (braided beads necklace)

The self drafted tee shirt was the biggest challenge this month, it seriously had me stumped at various points. I’m pretty proud of how it worked out though, construction issues aside! The next one should be much more sturdy.

I have a big assignment due next Sunday, so my knitting has been looking very appealing this week. Funny how easy it is to find distractions when theres a deadline looming! I’ve nearly finished the bodice, then there will be the challenge of the sleeves…

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Seems a bit silly to be sitting in the sun knitting a pure wool cardigan, but Wellington is infinitely changeable, so you never know!

Professional Attire…

I haven’t been feeling too great this week, I think I have caught the cold that has been doing the rounds at work. This means that I’ve been particularly uninspired to sew as well, all i want to do when I get home is lounge around and read my book. Enter a super simple sewing job that I can do with minimal input from my brain…Scrub hats!

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I work in an operating theatre, so of course I wear scrubs all day and have to have my hair covered. Its a pretty great uniform, as far as work attire goes, scrubs are pretty much just pyjamas (and when you get covered in blood or vomit, you just change them and put them in the laundry for the wonderful laundry staff to deal with! Brilliant!), and scrub hats hide all manner of bad hair days. The hats that we are provided with are just paper disposable ones, but I’ve been making my own fabric ones for a few years now. Partly because they fit better (the paper ones are massive, and I have a little head and not a lot of hair to fill it up), and I like having bright colours and patterns to break up all the blue from the scrubs! They’re also really good to distract kids with.

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I have a very technical pattern for the hats-I draw around a side plate for the top, and then cut a strip of fabric which is then hemmed and pleated around the circle. Then I thread some elastic into a little under half of the back hem, and repeat! I’ve actually made a paper pattern this time, as a few of my new colleagues have commissioned some hats and I feel that I should try to make them the same as the sample one they tried on…

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Trust me, I’m a professional! Honest!

Since this is a bit of a short, boring post, I’ll show off some of the gorgeous new fabric that I’ve bought…

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How amazing is this embossed leather?! I have no idea how to sew with it, its quite soft but much thicker than what I (or my machine) am used to. I had to buy it when I saw it in the Fabric Store though, I love the pale blush/nude colour, and the beautiful art nouveau embossing. I think I’ll make it into a clutch, once I figure out how to sew it…

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My other stellar purchase (also from the Fabric Store, man I love that place!) is this lovely floral swimsuit fabric. I think I’ll make the bandeau version of the Papercut pattern Soma swimsuit, in about six months when its beach weather again! Its absolutely freezing at the moment, definitely not time to be thinking about making a bikini…

Hurrah for Hollyburn!

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Well, apparently I do remember how to use my sewing machine for sewing woven garments! I made up this skirt over a few evenings after work last week, and I’m actually really happy with it.

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This pink wool has been in my fabric stash the longest of any uncut length I have. I bought it on a bit of a whim, because I liked the colour (and it was on sale, I think), but I’ve never really had any plans for it. I think at one point I had aspirations to turn it into a Colette Anise jacket, but after struggling through a couple of Colette makes I just couldn’t face the fitting marathon! Maybe one day I’ll take on the challenge. But for now, I thought I would stick to something simple, and the Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt definitely fit the bill. Because it was such a nice simple shape, and there are relatively few pattern pieces, I decided to try adding in some piping detail around the waistband and pockets.

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Piping is fun! I wanted to cut down on the pink a bit, so I chose a dark charcoal cotton bias binding. I tried to finish everything as cleanly as possible. Finishing has always been something I’ve been pretty slack about, I’m ashamed to say! Originally i considered binding all of my seams with the same bias binding I used for the piping, but I was worried about adding too much bulk. So I overlocked all of my edges instead, and used the binding around the bottom of the pockets and to hem the skirt.

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Everything was moving along very smoothly, until I tried to put in the zip! I’ve never put in anything but an invisible zip, which in hindsight I should have used for this skirt as well, but the pattern didn’t expressly call for one and I just didn’t think about it. After my fourth disastrous attempt to put it in using my machine, the zipper tape was looking a bit ratty (and so was I, after unpicking it so many times), so I decided to attempt putting it in by hand.

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Its…ok. I can’t seem to get the piping at the waistband to stop pulling away from the zipper teeth, which is annoying. I’m considering going and buying an invisible zip, but I’m a bit worried that the piping would interfere with that too…Any suggestions about how to fix my current zip (or tutorials for how to sew a normal zip in by machine) would be greatly appreciated!

Problems with the zip aside, I really like this skirt. This is the shortest, fullest version (i think its supposed to be mini-length, but I’m short!). I would like to make another one up in the midi-length, maybe in some swishy black wool. This skirt is excellent for swishing…

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…swish!

Comfort clothing- Grainline’s Hemlock

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I’ve had the Grainline Hemlock tee-shirt pattern cut out and sitting in my pattern ring binder for ages, just waiting for the right fabric. I figured it would need to be quite a light, drapey knit to counteract the boxy shape of the top, and I just couldn’t find what I was looking for! I also really wanted a floral knit, but the only ones I could find in Wellington were pretty awful. Then, on my last trip to the Fabric Warehouse, I found this awesome fabric. The wide grey and white stripes called to me in the same way that the last piece of chocolate cake does, and I just couldn’t resist. Then I had some angst about whether or not I wanted to make it into a Hemlock after all. It wasn’t as drapey as I had imagined my Hemlock fabric would be, and then I wasn’t sure if the pattern would suit me after all, and it would be a waste of my lovely fabric…then I got real, spent some time looking at other versions of the Hemlock on the internet, and decided that if I made an arse of it I could just go up the road and buy more fabric.

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And I do like it, after all that. I thought it was a bit frumpy, when I first tried it on, but after I ‘styled’ it (haha) with one of my favourite scarves and my green skinny jeans, I thought it looked better. I think it’ll look good tucked into a skirt as well, to dress it up a bit.

The only changes I made were to shorten it, shorten the sleeves and take them in a bit, and take an inch off the side seams. I also added cuff bands, as my sewing machine decided it didn’t want to sew with a twin needle anymore after doing the hem. So I showed it how well behaved the overlocker was, as punishment.

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I realised last night just how huge the holes in my wardrobe are! I have a job interview at a private hospital tomorrow (argh, talking in front of people I don’t know!!) and I really don’t have any interview-type clothes. I don’t even have a normal pair of trousers, they’re all either super skinny, jeans, or wide legged 1940’s vintage ones! All of my skirts are either short or vintage, and my weather appropriate dresses are all pretty girly-polkadots-and-ribbons sort of things. Major dilemma! At work I wear scrubs, and floral Birkenstocks (don’t judge, they’re super comfortable for running around in all day, and they’re easily washed. Don’t think too hard about why I know that…) I’ll be wearing the same stuff in this new job, if I get it, so I hope they won’t be expecting me in full business attire. It might be time to invest in (or sew) a pair of adult trousers though…

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I’m adding this photo in because my face made me laugh, and so theres a picture of the top without the scarf. Also, I really need to find a new pose…

Summer dresses in Autumn

Well, its been a very wet and windy week here, but I’ve been busy sewing sun dresses! My mum jets off to the beautiful Cook islands at the end of the month, and she asked me to whip her up some dresses to take with her based on one she got in H&M last year. Its a really simple dress, just a long tank top with some elastic sewn into the waist, but I still managed to make nearly everything quite complicated. Its a talent!

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This is the dress I started off with…

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…and these are the copies I made. I fudged a lot of the ‘pattern making’ (I lay the dress out on some paper and drew around it, not sure if that counts as pattern making), and had to change quite a lot of the construction techniques to suit the tools at hand, but I think I managed ok.

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On the blue striped dress I made a neck binding, which is my preferred technique, but the black and white fabric is a really stretchy jersey knit, and I just couldn’t get the binding to sit flat! In the end I had to trim it off and sew a neck band on, the first one I’ve ever done. I think it turned out ok, though I made it a bit wider than average to compensate for the overlocking I cut off when I cut the binding off. Yay for new skills, even if they are borne out of desperation! For the arm hole and hem finishing on both I just overlocked the raw edges, turned them under and stitched with my twin needle.

I haven’t given them to mum to try on yet, so I hope the elastic hits at her waist! I really struggled with how to attach the elastic without adding the bulk of a casing, and in the end I just sewed it on with a long straight stitch, stretching the elastic out as I went. At least this will be easy to undo/redo if its too low! The other thing I noticed when I tried them on to check length was how low the armscye dips, though its like that on the original so hopefully she doesn’t mind…Mum is a good 4 inches taller than me, so maybe it isn’t so bad on her.

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This is a photo I took when I was visiting the Cook Islands, it really is paradise! I’m very jealous…

Fabric shopping! (Or, Help! I think I have a Problem…)

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Yay! How awesome is this fabric? I’m particularly enamoured with the foxy chiffon, and the wide grey and white lacy stripy knit.

I’ve been seeing everyones posts for Me Made May, and I wish I could join in! Realistically though, I just don’t have enough hand made (cold weather) clothes to join in this year, even if I was only going to wear one handmade item a couple of times a week. So I’m going to spend this month sewing comfy basics that I can put into high rotation in my wardrobe, and hopefully next year I’ll be all set to join in! I’ve got plans for a Grainline Hemlock tee, and also some long sleeved Sewaholic Renfrew tee shirts. I’ve also got some sewing to do for my Mum before she goes on holiday next month, so it won’t be totally selfish sewing (like it usually is!).

Can’t wait to see everyone else’s Me Made May posts!

April Roundup

Five Wednesdays in April means five projects, and they all seem to have been pretty big ones this month! I’ve learned lots though, and I’m happy with everything that I’ve made, so I’ll call this month a winner.

I’ve made:
Four garments (Elisalex, Briar, Coppelia and Rigel)
One accessory (merino glovelets)

I’ve also learned lots of new techniques, most notably how to use the overlocker! Its made such a difference to my sewing, everything has become much neater inside, and I’m much more confident sewing knits with it than on my bernina. I also learned how to do welt pockets, and open ended zippers (so much easier than dress zips!). I also discovered the joys of raglan sleeves and princess seams, and how much easier they make fitting things!

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My favourite thing from this month is my Coppelia cardigan, I love it! I’ve worn it a lot since I finished it, though the first time I wore it it dyed my white tee shirt pink! Happily the pink came out (love Sard Wonder Soap), and after another wash the colour doesn’t seem to be coming out of the cardigan any more. I showed it to the boyfriend, and the first thing he said was “Can it be called a cardigan if it doesn’t have any buttons?” Not sure what he’d class it as!

Today is my first day off in ages that I haven’t done any sewing, though I did get two new patterns in the post. Its great being able to get indie patterns from Dresses and Me, and not having to wait weeks for shipping to New Zealand (thanks Penny!). Now I just need to go and buy some more fabric, such a hardship…

Since I wasn’t sewing, and my mum was coming over for afternoon tea, I baked some lemon madelines. I feel very domesticated!

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The pushing-my-boundaries Bomber

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This weeks sewing project has seriously pushed me out of my comfort zone! Bomber jackets have never really been something I’ve wanted to wear, I tend to go for more fitted, tailored things. But then I kept seeing all these awesome, comfortable looking bombers made with Papercut Patterns Rigel pattern, and I thought I’d have a crack at it! I got this fantastic navy and pale blue wool tweed, with a metallic thread through it from The Fabric Shop (I wish I could just open an account there, or move in, or something…), and the navy satin I used for lining and the navy ribbing came from the Fabric Warehouse (also amazing). On the advice of the helpful lady at the Fabric Warehouse, i bought some really flexible wool interfacing, as used in RTW coats. Thank god I listened, because it would have been a total bloody nightmare to sew otherwise! Its a really loose weave (duh, tweed. Pick a more difficult fabric Kirsten), and it started pretty much falling apart as soon as I cut into it! The interfacing just made it so much easier to work with, and added hardly any bulk. Even so, I had to overlock the edges of all the pieces before I started sewing to stop it fraying.

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I cut a size XS, because i wanted it to be a bit fitted, and I think that was a pretty good choice. There were lots of firsts in this project, single welt pockets, using ribbing, sewing open ended zips, and sewing a lined jacket! The welt pockets were much easier than I anticipated, I just went slowly and carefully! I basted the pocket lines on first, rather than chalking them on, which was helpful. Theres a reel of bright pink cotton in the thread caddy of my machine that must have belonged to my Nana, its on a wooden spool and is marked ‘made in Great Britain’. Not the sort of thing that comes from Spotlight! I’d love to know what she was making in ‘Frivolous Pink’…

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The ribbing and the open ended zipper went in equally easily, it was the lining that had me nearly tossing the whole lot out the window! I decided that I wanted the facing as well, as it looks nice and clean, so I cut out the front, back and sleeve pieces again in lining, and cut the width of the facing away from the front opening and neckline. Then I sewed the lining to the facing, and then sewed the facing to the jacket as per the instructions. That all went fine, it was when I went to attach the cuffs to the sleeves that it all went to hell. I sandwiched the ribbing between the wool and the lining and sewed them together, but when I went to turn it out the right way I ended up with this…

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…what the hell?? Its a möbius sleeve! No way in, no way out…I have no idea what happened, I couldn’t have done that if I tried. Even trying to put it inside out again so that I could unpick it was a mission. I’d like to say that I won’t do that again, but given that I don’t know how I did it I can’t promise that! Eventually i got it unpicked and sewed together the right way…

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I’m glad I put the lining in, even though it was a bit of a struggle, because the insides of this jacket are not that clean! Between the mess that welt pockets leave, and the interfacing, I would never have been able to take it off or wear it open without the lining.

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Now for the bad…I think that the fabric must have shifted just a tiny bit when i was cutting out, as the right front panel just doesn’t seem to sit as well as the left. It looks like it pulls a little on the diagonal, or like its a little bit bigger than it should be between the raglan sleeve seam and the top of the zip. Should have cut it in a single layer! I’ve definitely learned my lesson there. I don’t think its a major, if I was buying this bomber in a shop I probably wouldn’t notice it! Its definitely not bad enough for me to unpick the lining and go in and fix it.

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So there we go! The Rigel Bomber, pushing both my fashion and sewing boundaries…now I have to go and vaccuum up all the sparkly little bits of thread that have infiltrated my sewing space, before they get all overthe boyfriend. He just doesn’t appreciate glitter!

Coppelia Cardigan

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This week, I continued my love affair with the overlocker and beautiful soft, warm merino wool. I love making things that I know I’ll wear all the time, rather than just special occasion items. This is the Coppelia Cardigan, by Papercut Patterns (yay New Zealand indie patterns!), the first of their patterns that I’ve made up. It won’t be the last though! The packaging is beautiful, the pattern is printed on nice paper (I’m too clumsy to really enjoy dealing with patterning tissue), the instructions are good…and the pattern itself is awesome! Its really simple and fast to make (it only took a few hours from cutting out to wearing), and it all goes together really well.

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The only changes I made to the pattern were to slim down the sleeves a little bit, and shorten them quite a lot. I have gibbon arms, so I was surprised how much i chopped off the sleeves! I had a bit of trouble with the band around the front edge, the first time I attached it I didn’t stretch it nearly enough around the back of the neck and over the shoulders, and it sat all wavy and weird. This was the point when my relationship with the overlocker soured briefly, unpicking that long stretch of overlocking was a right pain in the arse! The second time I sewed it on, I probably stretched it too much, the front of the cardigan looks gathered when I’m not wearing it. But it looks fine on, and the idea of unpicking the seam again was just a bit soul destroying, so I can live with it!

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I really like this top! It looks good with jeans and a long sleeved tee, but it’ll also look good over dresses, or with my navy pencil skirt. I quite liked it before I sewed the wrap around ties on it too, it sat open like a waterfall cardigan. If I make it again, I might have a play with missing the ties off and putting a little button on either side to secure the cross over if I want to close it. I’ve had some good sewing experiences lately, its awesome! I’m sure there must be some catastrophic failure looming, but I’ll enjoy success while it lasts…

(Sorry about the rubbish photo quality, I’m working 10 hour shifts this week so the only time I’m home is in the dark! I really need to get a better camera…)