Linen Jily

Well, its been a minute since I last wrote a blog post! Life seems to have been very busy so far this year, and I’ve been pretty slack about taking photos of what I’ve been sewing. We took off to Hawai’i for nearly two weeks at the end of February for a belated honeymoon, which generated a fair amount of panic-sewing (swimsuits and other hot weather gear), which I’ll be working on posting over the next few weeks, and I should really get my wedding sewing up here too before I start sewing for autumn/winter… But here is a quick post about a useful little linen top I made to take to Hawai’i to get us started.

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This is another Ready To Sew pattern, the Jily tank. I’m super into Ready To Sew patterns at the moment, you might have noticed! I’ve got another Jazz to post as well. I really like the number of variations each pattern has, Jily has a straight hem version as well as the tie front I’ve made, and I also think it would make a great dress pattern with a gathered skirt added to the bottom of the bodice…but that might have to wait until next summer!

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I made this out of just over a metre of linen/cotton shirting from The Fabric Store, in the blush pink I’ve been so into this summer. It creases terribly, as you can see in these pictures, but it’s lovely and cool to wear! I really like the deep, curved V-neck, I don’t often wear a V neck but I’m thinking that maybe I should consider them more often. It’s also nice to have a sleeveless top with wider straps, these ones cover my bra straps nicely and the armscye isn’t too low (or high) cut.

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The armholes and neckline are finished with an all-in-one facing for a nice neat finish. As there is a centre back seam, I didn’t follow the fiddly instructions given for how to attach the facing by sewing the fronts and backs separately and then sewing them together by pulling the back straps through the straps between the front bodice and front facing, I never get that right first time! Instead I left the centre back seam open on the back piece and the back facing, sewed the shoulder seams and the side seams on both the top and facing, then sewed them together around the neckline and armhole before pulling them out the right way through the open back seam. Then I just sewed up the centre back seam, it was much easier (though I’ve done a terrible job of describing it…).

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The lower portion with the tie is fully lined, so I hand sewed the lining on the inside to avoid having any topstitching. The only change I made to the pattern was to deepen the keyhole between the ties by 1.5 cm so that the front could be tied higher on the top, I thought it looked a bit low on some of the ones I’ve seen online.

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This has been a good little top to have this summer, it was very useful in the heat in Hawai’i! Unfortunately I’ve managed to spill something on it pretty much every time I’ve worn it…maybe I need one in a darker colour or a busier print?

Finally, I feel like I can’t end this utterly frivolous post without saying something about the horrific act of violence which occured in New Zealand on Friday. A white supremacist terrorist entered two Mosques in Christchurch and opened fire on those at prayer there, killing 50 people and injuring at least 50 more. I’m so sad, and sick, and angry that this could happen anywhere, but especially that it happened here. My lovely friend Gabrielle has written far more eloquently than I can about what happened over on her blog– it’s worth a read, and I agree with her wholeheartedly.  We have to change so that this can never happen again.

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Denim Fiona Dress

Is anyone else struggling to get their head around the fact that it’s November? I’m not ready for there to be Christmas displays in the shops! This year just seems to have disappeared, I’m not sure what I’ve done with it. I mean, I did hand in my research project last week, which means that I’ve finally finished my Masters of Information Studies (provided I pass, of course, though I would be a bit salty if my supervisor had let me hand in something below a pass level!). I don’t think I realised how much space it had been occupying in my mind this year until it was all handed in and no longer in my control, and I’ve been enjoying daydreaming about all of my summer sewing plans rather than musing about my data matrix or something equally dull.

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This dress is one which I sewed up in tiny chunks in between writing up my results and discussion sections. It’s the Fiona Sundress from Closet Case Patterns, and it was a good one to sew in drips and drabs! I could sew the front princess seams, then write a couple of paragraphs, then sew the back princess seams, then draw up some figures and charts, then sew the side seams…you get the picture!

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I really loved the 90’s style of the longer version, and I loved the drama of the low backed version, but I decided to be very sensible and make up the mini-length with the high back! I just really hate not wearing a bra, and I wanted to be able to wear it without a tee shirt underneath when we get further into the summer. I do wish I had made the below-knee version rather than the mini length, but I think this length will be good with tights when I’m layering it for cooler weather too.

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Fiona was a fun wee pattern to sew up, and came together with minimal fuss or changes! I took a centimeter off the bottom of the bodice to account for my short waist, and possibly could have taken a sliver more off at the centre back for my sway back, but I’m not too bothered. I did have to shorten the straps considerably, but that’s easy enough! The instructions even remind you to wait until you get to the point you can try the dress on before securing the straps at the back, in case they need to be altered. I do wonder if I should have taken it in a bit through the bodice, there’s a bit of extra ease under my arms and around my waist, but I really didn’t want a tight dress so I’m not overly bothered!

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I used a lovely stretch denim from The Fabric Store, it was marked as Marc Jacobs and was on special for something crazy cheap so I bought a bit of it! I’ve got enough for another pair of Ginger Jeans, which is timely as my first blue pair are getting pretty ratty now. I think denim works really well for this pattern, especially for the shorter versions, but I wish I had used a lighter fabric for the strap and top band facings. I cottoned on in time to use a chambray for the pocket facings, and I think it would have worked better to reduce the bulk at the top of the button bank especially. Having a rigid fabric facing at the top there might also have helped to combat the slight gape I get under my arms too (seriously exaggerated in the above photo!).

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All those lovely copper buttons came from Miss Maude Fabrics, and yes, making 14 buttonholes and whacking in 14 buttons was a bit of a chore! Honestly, getting in and out of this dress is a bit of a chore too, even though I only have to undo the top 6 buttons. If I was going to make it again, especially in a lighter fabric like linen, I think I would stick a long invisible zip in the side seam, just to make it easier to get in and out of! I would probably still make the buttonholes, but at least it would make getting dressed in the dark at 6am before work easier.

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I am really happy with it though, I’m looking forward to getting to wear it with bare shoulders and sandals like this! It looks cute over my striped tee shirts too though, so I’ll be able to wear it no matter what Wellington decided to do with the weather…

All the linen over here please!

It’s so hot. So muggy. So unlike Wellington. We’re all wandering around in a sticky, grouchy, slightly stunned sort of way, totally not used to weather like this (we’d move to Auckland if we wanted humidity!). Obviously this is the perfect weather for a Closet Case Patterns Charlie Caftan in crisp linen from The Fabric Store.

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I picked up this 1.5m remnant of linen last time I was at TFS (I can never help myself, their remnant bins are so good), and decided I would use it to make a test run of the Charlie before I used the gorgeous piece of Japanese double gauze which I bought specifically to make view B of the pattern. I opted for view A for this linen, as I thought the architectural pleats would work better with it’s crisp hand than the gathers.

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Charlie was an enjoyable dress to sew! I love the kimono sleeves, and the faced neckline. The waistband insert was enjoyably fiddly to sew, I think sometimes I sew too many basic-straight-line garments so I should push myself more. I used the higher armholes, though you can still see my bra through them. I’ll just make sure I’m wearing a black bra with it, I’m not overly bothered! I also added the waist ties from view B, which I’m glad about. The dress itself is pretty straight up and down, and I like the hint of shape that the ties give. I also like that they’re long enough to tie in the front, the linen ties into a lovely crisp bow which I think looks really cute with the insert and the pleats.

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I’ve been playing around with different ways to tie it, I quite like it tied together in a bow at the front without wrapping around my waist. It gives the dress a little bit more shape than not being tied up at all, but is more cocoon shaped (which is great in this heat!). I don’t think I’ll ever wear it untied, simply because I don’t know what I’d do with the ties! Maybe when I make my double gauze version I’ll make the ties separate, or figure out a way to make them removable.

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Tied in front
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untied (with tails)

I’m really liking deep V necklines at the moment, surprisingly enough! I’ve always preferred a scoop neck, but I’ve sewn a couple of things with this shape neckline lately and I think its really pretty. Good for showing off some of my shorter necklaces too!

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The only issue I have with this one is that it’s a touch snug at around my hips, but luckily linen is pretty forgiving and it’s already relaxed and become more comfortable! I could have let the seams out a touch, but then I would have had to mess with the pockets, and I was too lazy. it isn’t that bad, I’ll just need to remember for next time!

Linen is having a definite moment in my summer sewing, I’ve made 3 garments in it so far with two more in the pipeline. I could have more, but I’ve put a few restrictions of my fabric buying for the next wee while, and I don’t have any more in my stash! I’m going to try to sew 3 pieces of fabric from my stash before I’m allowed to add a metre, so we’ll see how that goes. If I start counting from the beginning of my christmas break, that gives me 1.5m of new fabric owing…I’ll just avoid the Fabric Store for a little while!

Daffodil Datura

It turns out that all of my ‘summer is dead! The long winter has come!’ angst of last week may have been a bit premature, because its been sunny all week! So sunny, in fact, that I decided to pull out my Deer and Doe Datura pattern and make it up.

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That seam is straight, i promise! Its just on the hanger a bit wonky.

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It was a rather serendipitous project, really. i was at Spotlight (don’t judge me! I only go there when i have to!) looking for some cheap fabric to make a wearable muslin for my Grainline Archer shirt, when I found this beautiful Japanese cotton. Mustard and grey! Art nouveau daffodils! Its like my dream fabric! And there was a bolt of perfect grey cotton lawn sitting right next to it! I knew I needed to make something out of it, and my poor Datura pattern has been filed away unmade…(I never did get fabric for my Archer, I’ll need to have a look at the Fabric Store next time I’m up that end of town).

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Seriously, how amazing is this fabric! I’m also pretty proud of my pattern matching down those side seams. I would never manage to match it up perfectly, i was just trying to line up the stripes, but I think it turned out pretty well.

I have to say, this pattern was so much fun to sew up! It all just went together so neatly, and all of the seams joined up so perfectly, and its so tidy inside, it was a joy to make. Its easily the nicest thing I’ve ever sewn, in terms of both construction and fit. I’ve always been a bit haphazard with things like finishing seams and making everything neat and tidy, so thats something I’ve been really working on. The construction of the yoke is brilliant, with everything all neatly tucked away within the lining. I also was very careful with my topstitching around the neckline and the bias bound hem, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

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I’ve just noticed how big my hands look in this photo, now I can’t stop staring at them. They’re not actually massive, I wear size 6 gloves!

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(Really proud of the pattern matching, to be honest)

I used fabric covered buttons down the back, but I didn’t bother doing button holes as the top is roomy enough to pull over my head without them (which is ace, because I’m not great at button holes. Another thing to practice before my Archer!). I used five buttons in the end, because they’re so small that three looked a bit silly.

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I’ll definitely be making more of these tops for next summer, I like the idea of a mix of black and white or grey and white spots and stripes, maybe with some piping along the seam between the yoke and the rest. So many possibilities! Next time I’ll take a bit of fabric out of the centre back, to minimise some of the gape. Theres apparently a small back adjustment tutorial online somewhere, I’ll need to track it down and see what I can do to fix my upper back gaping issues!

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I’ve never done a bias bound hem before, its a nice neat finish.
I really enjoyed this project, its the first major thing I’ve sewn since my Jasmine blouse and it was a much smoother, happier experience! I have a couple of fairly ambitious sewing projects coming up, with the Archer shirt and an Elisalex dress by By Hand London both on the cards. Exciting times!