Paper Bag Princess

Did anyone else have the book ‘The Paper Bag Princess‘ when they were a kid? I loved it, that sassy, dragon tricking princess was a definite early role model! The book really has nothing to do with this blog post or my latest pair of trousers, other than the trousers having a paper bag waist…but I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel for post titles at the moment! Anyway, its a great book, and this is a great pattern, so forgive the tenuous link. Moving right along…

IMG_2314

These awesome, 90’s-esque trousers are McCalls 7726, and I totally overlooked this pattern until I saw Ruby’s great versions. I’ve never had great luck with paper bag waists, they tend to look a bit weird with my short torso, like my boobs are emerging straight out of the ruffle! Luckily the proportions of this pattern work pretty well for me, I think the lack of a definite waist helps. There isn’t any elastic or anything, just the stitched down pleats and the sash, so its easier to keep them slightly below the smallest part of my waist. The pattern has several versions, and I chose the cropped, pegged leg version. I’m super keen to try the wide legged version for summer!

IMG_2303

IMG_2302

I used a lovely wool crepe from my stash to make these, and it’s lovely to wear! My previous attempt at making wool crepe trousers wasn’t so successful, because the fabric was a bit scratchy (and cheap, it got all pill-y), but this stuff seems much smoother and drapier, and isn’t at all scratchy, so that’s a relief! It does make the sash pretty bulky, but I’m feeling the drama of the big bow! I might get a ribbon or something to swap out with it if i want something a bit more streamlined. I used some scraps of Atelier Brunette cotton in those lovely deep pockets to cut down on bulk, and I love the little peek I get when I look down.

IMG_2321IMG_2327

It’s been ages since I sewed a big 4 pattern, but this one is really great. It did take me a while to sort through the acres of pattern tissue to find the right pieces, but once I had that sorted out it was a pretty simple pattern to put together. The instructions for the fly were a bit interesting, but I found that if I just looked at each step in isolation rather than trying to run through the whole lot in my head beforehand like I usually do then it was less confusing! I’m not sure if i’d do it that way next time, but it’s turned out pretty neatly.

IMG_2318IMG_2326

I’m super happy with the fit of these, it was just what I was looking for in a pair of pegged trousers. I really wanted an alternative to skinny jeans for winter, I find wide legged trousers too drafty in Wellington for winter! I also think these will be good for dressing up with heels and an ogden cami or one of my cropped tops, I’m looking forward to having a play around with seeing how they fit into my wardrobe! I’m pretty sure this won’t be my last pair of these trousers…

IMG_2324

Advertisements

Rise and Fall

An alternative title for this post could be “Sewing clothes I hate wearing to see if I like them more once I’ve made them myself”, but I thought that was a bit of a mouthful. See, I have a bit of a conundrum, I hate having a cold neck (or even worse, having a cold breeze blowing down my back!), but I also hate having things tight around my neck or across my throat. Generally, turtlenecks make me feel claustrophobic and a bit panic-y, but I keep seeing all these stylish ladies wearing them and I was jealous of how warm and toasty they must be! So I thought I would have a go at making my own, using the Papercut Rise and Fall Turtleneck patterns.

P1040499P1040484

I made both versions, to see if I preferred one over the other. Rise is a classic turtleneck, with set sleeves and a short, close fitting turtleneck. Fall is looser, with a drop shoulder and a much longer, looser turtleneck which can either be folded over on itself or left scrunched down like in these photos. My Rise version is a black merino/lycra blend, and the Fall turtleneck is made out of a dusty rose coloured merino, both from the stash. I sewed both up with my overlocker, and used my coverstitch for the hems, so they’re looking nice and neat! I used a standard two needle stitch for the hems on the black one, as I have lots of spools of black thread, but I had to use a single needle chain stitch for the pink one because I only had a tiny bit of matching thread left, nowhere near enough for two rows of stitching!

P1040495P1040491

I cut a size XS in both tops, which is my standard size when I’m sewing Papercut Patterns. I was slightly surprised by how short both tops came up, both in the body and the sleeves. The sleeves on the black version in particular are bordering on too short, but I don’t want to add cuffs! I find them a bit fussy, and I like how simple the lines on the Rise turtleneck are. I’ll just need to remember to add a couple of centimeters to the length of  them if i made it again! The sleeves on the Fall turtleneck are a better length, I think I might have turned up a smaller hem since I was using chain stitch to sew the hem.

P1040497P1040483

I’m surprised I like them both as much as I do, but I’m even more surprised that I prefer the Rise version to the Fall! I assumed that the looser neck on the Fall would be more comfortable to me, but the turtleneck on the Rise is loose enough that it isn’t pressing on my throat, and because it’s short and light it doesn’t collapse against my neck like the Fall version. I also prefer the slim set in sleeves over the dropped shoulders on the Fall, I keep feeling the dropped shoulder seam rubbing on my upper arm and thinking it’s my bra strap slipping off my shoulder! Either way, they’re both stopping the Wellington southerly gales from getting down the neck of my tops, which I’m appreciating at the moment.

P1040500

One thing I haven’t figured out yet is quite how to wear either top when I need layers. They look ridiculously preppy if I wear them under my Driftless Cardi’s, like I’m in costume as a stereotypical librarian or something. Any suggestions? Maybe I just need to wear them over a superfine thermal layer or something. I would like to have a go at layering them under some dresses, I can’t stop thinking how cute the Rise would be under a pinafore style dress like the Tessuti Claudia or the Closet Case Patterns Fiona

Yet More Basic Basics…

Hi team! My research proposal is handed in, and a month away from both blog and sewing machine seems to have helped to kick start my sew-jo again. We’ve just had a long weekend which I put to pretty good use, making a dress for my mum as well as managing to finish off the jeans and jumper I’ve had cut out for months. They’re both boring basics, but they’ve filled a hole in my wardrobe that I have really been noticing now that the temperature has dropped!

P1040449P1040459

I really needed another pair of jeans, I was rotating between my Deer & Doe Safran Jeans and my blue Ginger Jeans, and the ankle baring Safrans are getting harder to wear the colder it gets! I bought some black stretch cotton twill from Miss Maude earlier in the year, and decided to turn it into another pair of Gingers. I made these the same as my first pair, with the high waist and skinny legs and the pocket stay. I realised when I revisited my original blog post that I had meant to fiddle with the legs to see if I could decrease the wrinkles at the knee and back thigh, but I had already cut this pair out!

P1040456

To be honest, I don’t think I need to fiddle with them too much. There are always going to be wrinkles on skinny jeans, especially these ones. The cotton twill is beautiful, and sewed and pressed so nicely, but it is fairly lightweight and definitely doesn’t have the same recovery as the denim I used for my first pair. it also has a bit of a sheen to it, so those wrinkles all catch the light! I look these photos after a few days of wear, and they’ve definitely loosened up around the hips and thighs and across the front. I kinda like how they have ended up looking more like close fitting trousers rather than jeans, it definitely means they’ll be easier to dress up.

P1040458

You can see how much the back has bagged out in that photo… One thing I definitely improved on from my last pair is the top stitching. I used upholstery thread and the chain stitch function on my new toy, a Janome Coverpro 2000CPX. Because the chain stitch is stretchy, and because I used a much heavier thread than the Gutermann Sulky thread from last time, I hopefully won’t pop all of my topstitching! Unfortunately with the black thread on black fabric and my dim winter photography its pretty hard to see…

image1P1040464

The best part of these jeans is the Japanese cotton I used for the pockets! All of my jeans should have cat pockets. I opted not to put the belt loops on this pair, as I never wear belts with them anyway and I thought that skipping them would stop them looking so much like “jeans”. Also I was being a bit lazy and just wanted to have them finished…

P1040462

Next up is this super simple sweatshirt. I had a metre of absolutely beautiful lightweight ‘winter white’ wool from Tessuti, bought when I was over in Sydney a few years ago. I wish I had bought a bit more, because I couldn’t fit any of the patterns I wanted to make onto 1m (I really need to remember that I need at least 1.2m to get a long-sleeved top out of it)… In the end, after losing pattern tetris with a few patterns I decided to just go super simple and make a long sleeved top out of my favourite knit dress pattern, M6886. I cut it off at the lengthen/shorten line just below the waist point on the pattern, and straightened the side seams out. I also had to put cuffs of the sleeves, as I just couldn’t fit the full length sleeve on however I laid it out! I cut a wide facing for the crew neck, and again used the chainstitch on my coverstitch machine to sew down the facing and do the hem. I love the single line of stitching, it looks so sleek and simple. I really like how it’s turned out, I think it’ll be a great workhorse this winter.

P1040450

Yay basics! And yay for wool to keep me warm!

 

Me Made May 2017 musings

So #MMMay17 has just wrapped up (literally, its 8.30pm on the 31st as I write), and I wanted to get down some thoughts about it before I forget. I didn’t make a formal pledge or anything like I have in the past, but I thought I would use the month as a chance to get some perspective on my handmade wardrobe, and try to figure out what I should be making for this winter (if anything). I easily managed to wear at least one handmade garment each day in May, which was a nice change from my last Me Made May, but given that I tend to sew mostly basic separates it wasn’t exactly surprising! This is what I wore last month:

Photo 31-05-17, 2 29 14 PMPhoto 31-05-17, 2 32 01 PM

Looking at this collage, I can see that I definitely have favourite colours and silhouettes! Denim, stripes, grey and navy are definitely my neutrals, with reds, greens and mustard as accents. It has been unusually cold this May, with snow and freezing southerly gales, so I’ve been pretty rugged up. My hand knits got a really good workout, as did my Cascade duffle coat and Waver raincoat. I think my Driftless cardigan and Safran jeans were probably the MVP’s in my wardrobe this month (and most months), though I’ve certainly got good wear out of my Lark tee shirts too! I also used my Genoa tote bag nearly every day, though it didn’t make it into any of the pictures. I started the month putting a star emoji on the days where I wore all handmade garments, but I apparently gave up on that pretty early!

Photo 31-05-17, 9 11 31 PM
Oslo Coat by Tessuti and Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Files

So I think I’m actually pretty well covered for winter clothes, but I do have a short list of things I think would fill the few holes that I’ve noticed. I could really do with another pair of jeans, so I’m going to finally pull finger and make some Ginger jeans. Hopefully I’ll get started on those during the long weekend we have coming up! I also have a few pieces of merino set aside for more long sleeved Lark tee shirts and maybe another toaster sweater, because I can never have too many knit tops. I wear my driftless cardi so much that I’m going to make another one in some wool ponte, which will get me closer to my goal of spending the winter swaddled in snuggy wool. Finally, I’ve decided I’d really like another warm coat, but in a neutral colour. I love my Cascade duffle coat, but a bright red coat can be a bit limiting sometimes! I’ve been wanting a charcoal or navy coat, and when Tessuti released the Oslo Coat pattern earlier this week I decided it was just what I was looking for. Emma (from Emma’s Atelier) and I are going to sew the Oslo up together, its always nice to have a sewing buddy! And I think that’s about it, which is pretty good. Hopefully I can get those things whipped up soon to keep me warm, so that I can get sewing the summery pieces I want to be able to take to the UK later in the year.

I’ve enjoyed Me Made May again this year, not only does it give me something to think about and to base my sewing plans on (rather than my usual ”ooh, shiny!” approach), but I really love seeing how people wear their hand made clothes in their everyday life rather than just how they’ve styled them for their blog posts. I always find myself reconsidering patterns that I’ve previously dismissed when I see them during MMMay! My to-sew list is unreasonably long these days…

A toasty sweater

Well, winter has arrived a month early in New Zealand! There’s snow on the hills around Wellington, and a savage southerly is whipping through the city. Time to sew some of my stashed merino!

P1040140

I really wanted to make the Toaster Sweater pattern from Sew House Seven after seeing so many versions made up during the northern hemisphere winter, I love the split hem with its mitred corners and the funnel neck of version 2. I know I’m in the minority when it comes to the online sewing community, but I really hate turtle necks. I just hate having anything snug around my neck, even tightly wrapped scarves make me feel like I’m suffocating. I thought the funnel neck on this pattern would be wide enough not to freak me out though, and I was right!

P1040136 (2)

I used some merino interlock from The Fabric Store, and it is the softest, cuddliest merino I’ve ever sewn with. It has a bit more heft than most merino jersey I’ve sewn (obviously, as it’s a double knit), so I thought it might have enough body to keep the shape of the neckline but still drape nicely. I think I was mostly right, the funnel neck does sag a bit in the centre front, but I think if I had interfaced it it might have ended up too stiff.

P1040137 (2)

I cut it out in a single layer so that I could match the stripes, which was pretty successful. The merino is so soft and stretchy that it was pretty forgiving, but it was a bit tricky to keep it square as I was cutting it out. It also wanted to grow and shift as I sewed it, so I used about 15 times as many pins as I usually would when sewing a knit!

That mitred hem is possibly my favourite part. It was simple enough to sew, but looks so nice and clean! I think I’ll definitely be borrowing that part of the pattern for other tops, it will be easy enough to graft onto another hem.

P1040144 (2)

P1040141 (2)

So there were a few things about this pattern which I found a bit odd. I had never heard of a double stitch before, which is the method recommended for constructing this top, but it’s when you sew a row of straight stitches and then a row of zigzags next to it. I’m sure it probably works (otherwise it wouldn’t be in the instructions, right?), but I was weirded out by it enough that I just used a narrow zigzag stitch to sew the shoulders and neckline, and then overlocked the side seams and sleeves. the hems are all top-stitched with a twin needle, as usual. I also thought it was weird that the neck facing which folds under to give the funnel shape didn’t extend to the shoulder seams, it means that it’s a bit messy around the shoulders on the inside. Its also super short! I’m really short waisted, and this is the shortest length I would want it to be. Tall sewers beware!

P1040139

If I make another Toaster Sweater 2, I think I’ll extend the facing piece so that I can catch it in the shoulder seams when I sew in the sleeves, just to keep it neat and hold down the facing a bit more securely. I think I might go down a size as well. This is the Medium, which is where my measurements put me, but I wonder if it would be a better fit in a Small. In this drapey knit I think the slightly oversized look is fine, but I have a more structured cream wool tentatively earmarked which I think would be a bit tent-like in the bigger size!

P1040145 (2)

I do like the slightly 1960’s beatnik vibe this top has, especially with my Safran Jeans and some flats. I just need to find a poetry slam or something (I wish I could find a poetry slam, does Wellington have such a thing? I so desperately wanted to see Kate Tempest in September, but she’s only doing one show while we’re in the UK and its the day before the only other thing we have tickets for. Such a bummer!) Zelda also gives it the cat-fur seal of approval, so it must be good. A few more snuggly wool tops, and the southerly can come at me!

Grown up lady dress

You know how sometimes you get outfits that you can put on and immediately feel polished? Clothes that make you feel like you’ve got your shit together and can manage pretty much anything? I’m not exactly sure why, but thats how this dress made me feel when I wore it out yesterday. Like I was going to get stuff done! (I got lots of eating done, but thats another thing this dress is good for.)

  

This is the Kielo Dress from Named, with the sleeve add on they released earlier this year to make it winter friendly. I made it up in a cotton/lycra blend ponte from The Fabric Warehouse, I love the print! I realised when I was organishing my fabric a few months ago how few patterned fabrics I own (except for stripes, of course), so it was nice to use this one! 

  

The pattern was so simple to make up, once I got past the dreaded tracing/ adding seam allowance stage. The sleeve pattern incorperates a new armscye shape to trace as well, but it was all very straight forward. Sewing was simple as well, I didn’t make any changes for sewing a knit instead of a woven except for using my overlocker for the main construction. I sewed the darts with a straight stitch and used a twin needle for the hems and neckline. I really like the double ended darts in the back, it gives it such a nice shape. I thought I had increased their depth (and shaped the CB seam) enough to fit my sway back, but looking at these pictures there is still a bit of fabric pooling above and below the ties. Just as well I can’t usually see it!

I did make a few changes to the pattern itself, other than adding the sleeves and lopping about 10″ off the hem. For some reason I didn’t consider the distance between the shoulder and waist before I cut it out, so it did what every wrap dress I’ve ever tried on does and bloused terribly in the upper body if I tied it at my waist (or sat unflatteringly at the widest point of my hips if I tied it where the fabric wanted to go). Because of the shape of the wings I ended up with big scoops of fabric between my armpit and waist, not quite what I was going for! In desperation I ended up shorteneing the length of the wings by 2.5 inches on either side, tapering to nothing towards the hem. This helped reduce the excess of fabric, but does mean that they only just meet at the centre front, rather than the more dramatic overlapping shape they had before. But I’m much happier with the overall silhouette, so I’m ok with that!

  

Token blogger-in-a-Kielo-Dress shot! You can see that the wings look much shorter than every one elses…( I keep calling them wings in my head, how else should I describe them?) I felt like I was pulling a flasher pose here, hense the ridiculously hammy face!
  

I also changed up the neckline a bit, I felt it was too high with the long sleeves and relatively long hem. I just eyeballed a more scooped shape, about 2 inches lower at the centre front than how it’s drafted. I ended up drafting a facing for the neckline too, as I thought turning and stitching as instructed wouldn’t work on my now significantly more scooped out neckline (though I haven’t had great luck turning and stitching boat necklines either, to be honest). I treated the facing like I would a woven one, stitching and understitching it (though with a zig zag stitch rather than a straight stitch) and then topstitching it with the twin needle. I’m really happy with how it turned out, no waving or sagging to be seen!

   
 

The only downside to this dress is my incessant need to fiddle with it. I’m always smoothing the fabric under the wrapped sides, or adjusting the ties. Its not sitting perfectly in these photos either, probably because we’d just had lunch and I was full of delicious food and not worrying about it! I guess that makes this a more accurate representation of how it looks when being worn…

  

So there we go, my grown up dress! I think it must be the sleeves and the just below the knee length that make me feel like a proper adult… Does everyone else have clothes that make them feel like that? I’m sure it can’t just be me!

Rainy Day Waver Jacket

It’s taken me over six months, but I’ve finally made myself a new raincoat!

  

This is the Waver Jacket from Papercut Patterns, made up in the shorter length with the hood (obviously). I have to admit to competely overlooking this pattern when it was released, because the samples just reminded me of the lab coat I wore for my undergrad studies! But there have been some very cute versions popping up on my blog reader since it was released, and when I decided that I wanted another raincoat this pattern fitted all of my requirements. And I’m really glad I tried it, because I love the end result!

  

I only made a few changes to the pattern, the major one being the addition of in seam pockets. I really don’t like patch pockets for putting my hands in (its the one thing I would change about my Cascade Duffle Coat), and when I saw that Lauren at Lladybird had added side seam pockets to her Waver, I shamelessly decided to copy her. I also took an inch off the length of the sleeves and off the bottom of the hood. The hood was so massive when I first basted it on! I think having no hair means that I’m very aware of hood size, I don’t need to worry about fitting a pony tail or anything into the back of my hood! It still feels pretty massive, but I’ll be able to fit a hat (with pompom) and a chunky scarf inside the hood with no problems, which will be excelent when it gets properly cold. I possibly over shortened the sleeves, 1/2″ might have been a better adjustment. Its not a major drama though!

  

I love the drawstring at the waist, I think it looks much nicer than if it fell straight from the bust. I used round elastic instead of rigid drawstring cord, which makes it more comfortable. Its also easier to get the tension right, as the drawstring comes out on the inside of the jacket and can’t be adjusted when I’m wearing it done up! I put a pair of silver eyelets in the lining for the cord to exit through, rather than using a button hole as instructed, as the lining just got chewed up by my machine, and because I thought they looked better.

 

I also used hammer on anorak snaps instead of buttons, again just because I thought they looked professional and fancy! I used six instead of the four marked on the pattern, as they are smaller than the recommended buttons, and I didn’t want rain blowing through the gaps! Rain comes in at all angles in Wellington, so it’s always a hazard…

 

I had planned on making pocket flaps to cover the openings of the patch pockets, but when I sewed them on and cinched in the drawstring around the waist, they caused the bottom half of the jacket to balloon out like there was a crinoline under there. They were just too bulky and too close to the waist, so I unpicked them. The patch pockets are now less waterproof, but the whole thing is more flattering!

  

The fabric is possibly my favourite part of this whole project. I found the shell fabric at Drapers Fabrics in Auckland when I was up there last year (Thanks to Bella for taking me there!), its a waterproof wool from Italy. I’ve never seen anything like it before, it feels like a crisp wool suiting but when I ran a scrap under the tap it was totally waterproof! It sewed and pressed beautifully, and thankfully the holes from my unpicking self healed like any normal wool. I couldn’t find seam sealing tape anywhere, so it’s not going to be completely waterproof, but it should be fine for getting around town in the rain!

The lining fabric is some mystery slippery stuff I got for $3p/m from the Fabric Warehouse pop up sale a few months ago. It was a bit of a nightmare to sew! Its super slippery, frays as soon as you look at it, and shreds at the slightest provocation. I underlined it with some cotton to give it a bit of strenght at the seams, but to be honest I don’t have high hopes of it lasting too long. But it’s so pretty and cheerful I thought I would give it a go, I can always replace it if it falls apart…

  

Big thanks to Marta and Kat for these photos, we had brunch on Saturday and then scouted out good photo locations. Its nice to have a change from my teal wall! I had unreasonable amounts of trouble getting my snaps done up in the right order, I must have had three goes at it. Always start at the top or the bottom, not at the waist!