Sew for me

Selfish Sewing Week: Belcarra Blouse

Argh! Selfish Sewing Week was last week – yes I realise! I did sew this top last week, I just couldn’t manage to get it photographed and blogged until today.

It’s the Sewaholic Belcarra Blouse – a pretty straightforward raglan sleeve top for woven fabrics. I used rayon for this version – I’m a big rayon fan, it’s not difficult to sew with, feels nice to wear and is easy to look after.

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I made a few small changes to the pattern. I left off the sleeve cuff that comes with the pattern and instead used my narrow hem foot to finish. The pattern calls for a deep hem, but given my height (5’10”), I used a smaller 2cm hem. I also added about 3cms in length to the pattern when I cut it out – just to make sure it wouldn’t be too short.

This is a size 8 graded out to a 10 at the hips. I could have gone more fitted than this and I may do in future, especially for work tops. The floral fabric in this top makes it casual or dressy, so I think the looser fit is ok. There is a great sew-along on the Sewaholic website, including options to narrow the neckline if you don’t want to be worrying about your bra straps peeping out. If I was making this top purely for work, I think I would definitely go that route.

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I love this fabric sooooo much! In fact I may have gone back to the fabric store and bought the rest of the bolt (another 3.5m). A whole wardrobe of floral on navy….. why not??!

Some outtakes with my trusty assistant.

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Did you manage to blitz Selfish Sewing Week? I hope yours was more productive than mine!

Around the World Blog Hop

My sewing buddy Jenya invited me to participate in the Around the World Blog Hop. It’s a fun way to get to know each other a bit better and hopefully find some great new blogs to follow too.  I’ve invited two of my favourite international bloggers to join the blog hop – read on to see who they are. Nearest the Pin is turning one and I have to say, it’s been a blast! Starting a blog is scary – putting yourself out there is scary. Being part of a community is great though, especially when your hobby involves long periods of sitting by yourself late at night.

The blog hop challenge, involves a few questions, so read on friends.

What am I working on?

Currently I’m working on a blog re-vamp. It’s exciting, but also a challenge as I’m not the most tech savvy. Thankfully I’m getting some professional advice as left to my own devices I’d probably break the blog all together.

Other than that, I’ve been doing a lot of dreaming and planning and not a lot of actual sewing. I’m planning a few more Staple Dresses.

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and some spring weather sewing

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How does my work differ from others in my genre?

I guess the main difference between Nearest the Pin and lots of other sewing blogs, is that it’s almost 50:50 between women’s sewing and kids sewing. This is not totally unique by any stretch, but it’s certainly not as common as sticking to one type or another.

Why do I write / create what I do?

Who can tell really?! I create because I love it and I think most bloggers would answer the same way. I create the things I do for many reasons – because I’ve been influenced by something I’ve seen, because I see a pattern or fabric I have to try, but basically because I can – or I want to see if I can.

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How does the writing / creating process work?

Sometimes it’s a pattern that sparks my interest, sometimes it’s fabric. Sometimes the process is really quick – like this tunic below, that had no pre-planning. I went into the sewing room pattern in hand and looked through the stash – worked all day and finished with this (you’ve got to love how quick and easy little girl’s summer dresses are).

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Other times the process is really looooong – like this jacket. I bought the dressing gown a year ago with the idea to make a jacket – it took 12 months for the idea to take proper shape and for me to decide on the right pattern.

Rigel Before & After

Photography, writing and blogging are harder for me than sewing. I’m on a learning curve and I’m determined to keep improving, particularly (ahem) the photography. I get frustrated at times that I’m not as good as I want to be, but on the other hand, I love that there is so much to learn.

And now comes the super fun part where I get to introduce you to two really fun sewing bloggers who I love to follow. Given this is an international blog hop, I decided to go well and truly international. Firstly I’m passing the blog hop over to Shino at Nutta! Shino has just moved home to her native Japan after living in the US for a few years. Her blog is great and she is about to host a Japanese Sewing Book series which will be invaluable to sewers like me who love Japanese patterns but can’t read Japanese. I thought that Nutta was a strange name for a blog, as a ‘nutter’ in Australia is a slang word for a crazy person, but it turns out that nutta is Japanese for ‘I sewed it’. Ha, so it’s actually a perfect name for a blog. Apologies Shino!!

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Secondly, I’m inviting Olu of Needle and Ted to join the Blog Hop. Olu sews and blogs from London – she took on the amazing goal of making all her daughter’s clothes for a year and I think it’s fair to say she is smashing that goal! The clothes she makes are seriously amazing and her photography is fresh and interesting – you have to check out her blog if you haven’t already.

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Thanks so much Jenya for inviting me to participate – a chance to reflect is always fun. I’m looking forward to hearing more from Shino and Olu soon x

Refashioned Rigel Bomber

I’ve been dreaming and scheming up Rigel Bomber Jackets since the pattern was released earlier this year. Finally I’ve got one to show!

This make was inspired by Amy of Sew Amy Sew. She is hosting a fun ‘Repurpose, Reuse, Rafashion’ challenge during August. I love a good refashion – although I’m still quite a novice. I’ve just managed to sneak this entry in before the August 31st deadline.

Rigel Before & After

 

So, I started with the very stylish old lady dressing gown on the left and ended up with the bomber jacket on the right (above). I found the wool dressing gown at a local op-shop (thrift store) for $8 sometime last year. I had a jacket in mind when I bought it – but I was kinda waiting for my sewing skills to catch up with my ambitions a bit more before I attempted it. Amy’s competition was the motivation I needed to get busy.

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This is the first Papercut Pattern that I’ve sewn.  I JUST managed to squeeze the pattern pieces out of the dressing gown – raglan sleeves take a lot more fabric than you think. I didn’t have the luxury of pattern matching, although I did match the lines across the zipper….mostly…. 😉 As I’m pretty sensitive to itchy woollen fabrics, lining the jacket was a must. I am a little perplexed that a $30 pattern comes without pattern pieces or instructions for lining, but fortunately for us, other sewers have already blogged instructions for how to line your Rigel bomber (see Liz’s post here). Given I had already made a lined jacket, albeit a tiny one, I pretty much just winged it. Fortunately it all turned out ok.

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Given this is a Reusing challenge – the lining is cotton drill left over from this bag. The only thing I purchased specifically to make the jacket was the zip.

On to the pattern: I made the jacket in a small after reading online reviews and I’m happy with the fit. I read that others had lengthened the sleeves and I should have followed this advice too. Other than that (and the fact that it’s not lined), it’s all good! The instructions are adequate and if you’ve made a jacket before, or have some experience with welt pockets and zips, you’ll have no troubles.

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Amy has a Flickr group for all the lovely entries that are part of the competition. Head on over there to see more refashioned creations. In the meantime, I’ll be getting as much wear as I can out of this super warm jacket before it’s too hot to wear it.

How about you, do you like to refashion things?

 

 

Continuing the (Fun) Work Wardrobe: A Floaty Skirt

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Ha, sorry for the super serious face – I was pretty cold, taking these pics 🙂

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Todays make was so simple – but I love it!! Mostly because of the fabric – rayon (I think!) and it’s from Tessuti, but sorry folks, it’s all gone 😦 I bought the fabric with the intention of making a Belcarra blouse, but somehow it became a skirt.

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I used the free Easy Gathered Skirt pattern from Pattern Runway. There’s not too much that can go wrong with such a simple pattern. It’s super easy and well explained. I haven’t tried a Pattern Runway pattern before, but I was impressed with the layout and instructions provided with this pattern. The only changes I made to the pattern were (1) to add a lining due to the light weight of the fabric and (2) using a narrow hem, which is just a personal preference of mine.

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My shirt is RTW – to be honest, I’m not sure I’m motivated enough to sew staples like shirts. My automatic buttonhole function and I are not friends. Anyway, back to the skirt,

Fun: 5/5

Cross-Functional: Yes, I’ve worn this skirt to social sewing and out to dinner 5/5

Wearability: 4/5 (only because it’s a skirt and requires me to make my legs presentable before leaving the house)

Does It Fit In?: Yes, a very welcome addition to my work and general wardrobe 5/5

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If you are keen to make yourself a skirt but don’t want to print out a PDF, there is a tutorial over on Gertie’s blog to make a similar skirt by using your measurements. I’ve seen two cute versions recently, Jess used Gertie’s tutorial and Liz just made up her own pattern (clever lady!).

I’m soon going to have to move beyond my love of sewing prints, otherwise nothing in my wardrobe will match – but I’m not sure I’m ready yet 🙂

Sewing a (fun) work wardrobe

I recently headed back to the workforce and I’m pretty darn happy about it. Not so happy about the state of my work wardrobe though. After 3 years at home with kids, the closet is full of jeans and sloppy tees. All very well for cleaning and finger painting, but no so professional. Soooo, I’m finding myself in need of some respectable duds. As my work is not corporate, there is some flexibility in said work attire – still no jeans and sloppy tees 😦 – but I’m hoping to create some work outfits that still retain an element of fun, can still be incorporated into non-work life and are appealing to wear.

This is going to be a journey, due to sad state of my current wardrobe. So I’ll hope you’ll join me, leave some feedback, suggest patterns and the like.

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Piece one in my wardrobe’s road to recovery is the much sewn and loved Staple Dress pattern by April Rhodes. I know you’ve seen this dress all over blogland, but there’s always room for one more.

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Yep, ha ha finally got myself a camera remote! 

And so, how does the Staple Dress go in my work wardrobe?

Fun: yes, definitely. I’m loving the dress in Amy Butler voile, the fabric is light, breathable and beautiful to wear 5/5

Cross-functional: yes. I wore this dress out to dinner with heels, so it will fit into both the work and non-work requirements 5/5

Wearability: although I do prefer pants, this dress is pretty darn comfortable 4/5

Does it fit in?: given the sparsity of my work wardrobe, it does fit in. Having said that, the print I chose doesn’t make it a mix and match piece or a wear to work 3 times a week and no-one will notice piece 3/5

Here’s how I styled it for work:

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Staple dresses all over the internet inspired this make, but here are my picks if you’re after some more Staple Dress inspiration:

Staple Dresses Inspiration

1. Staple Dress is Denim by While She Was Sleeping 2. Polka Dot Staple by Shona Stitches

I’m loving these blue versions – please click over to their blogs for more info and pics.

So tell me, do you have a ‘go to’ pattern you love for work wear? 

A Foxglove Tank in Indonesia

Sewing time has been at an absolute premium lately. We’re getting used to some big work and family changes at home, all positive and exciting, but it has meant that the sewing machine has not been getting much love 😦 Having said that, nothing was going to get in the way of me sewing up a Foxglove tank to wear on our recent family holiday.

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The Foxglove Tank is the latest pattern release from Lauren of Selvage Designs. I’ve previously sewn her Soleil Dress pattern for my daughter and was super happy to hear she has started designing for women too – hurrah!!

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The Foxglove is a super quick and fun project. I whipped this tank up the night before we flew to Indonesia, when I should have been packing. I trusted that the pattern would live up to my previous experience of sewing one of Lauren’s patterns, and I’m happy to report that it has. Her attention to detail is excellent and the instructions will walk you through the pattern step by step. Lauren advises that the pattern is designed for a 5’6″ woman and gives clear lengthening/shortening lines on the pattern to take the guesswork out of making these changes. As I’m closer to 5’10”, I added approx. 5cms to the length of the front pattern piece. The tank has a hi-low hem, so the hem on mine has a much more subtle change in length than the original pattern (because I didn’t add length to the back). Adding length is the only change I made to the pattern.

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The fabric is a super thin mystery knit with not much stretch. It wasn’t too difficult to sew with, except for the hem. The print on the knit kept causing the sewing machine to eat the fabric and so due to my time constraints, I decided to leave the hem raw.

This was my first attempt at the Foxglove and even thought the fit feels great, I can see some creasing at the bust in these pics. So I think I’ll add a little width next time. I’m loving that this pattern can be used for both knit and woven fabrics and Lauren gives 8 different options for ways to make up the pattern including different seam finishes. Given the number of options included and how comfortable this tank is to wear, I can see this tank becoming a wardrobe staple come summer.

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You can find Lauren’s pattern shop here and if you’re interesting in seeing some more Foxgloves, I’m really loving these versions from Monica, Heidi and Teresa.

And now we’re home, the Foxglove will be back in the closet for the next few months. Back to some cooler weather sewing!

A Brynna Dress

In amongst my Willow & Co. sewing bonanza, I did manage to squeeze in a project for me. As much as I’m loving participating in blog tours and pattern tests, sometimes it’s really fun to just sew something because you want to and without deadlines. This is not a pattern I have seen anywhere else in the blogging world. It’s the Brynna Dress from Sew Liberated.

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The dresses that I’ve made for myself previously, the Saltspring, Washi and Date Night Dress are all very summery and I was looking for something a bit more trans-seasonal. The Brynna is just that – with a 3/4 sleeve and a short sleeve option. Meg McElwee, the talent behind Sew Liberated certainly has an excellent reputation as a seamstress and pattern maker. There have been many fantastic versions of her Schoolhouse Tunic pattern around the web. From what I can tell, I think the Brynna dress, along with the Myla Tank and the Aida Top were released late last year. I follow a LOT of sewing blogs, but somehow I missed the release of these patterns and only stumbled on them recently.

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I made this dress from a fairly heavy weight rayon. I love working with rayon – it’s slinky, but not at all difficult to work with. I didn’t do a muslin as I should have and you can see that the bust darts are too low for me, however the non-fitted nature of the bodice means it is not much of an issue.  I also did my usual trick of sizing up one size from my bust measurement and then finding that the bodice was too big. How many times I will do that I can’t say – seems to be a habit of mine…… Anyway, it all worked out in the end and fortunately I don’t ever choose really form fitting styles.

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I’m pretty pleased with the end result. I’ve found this dress to be really versatile, I’ve dressed it up for dinner and also dressed it down with leggings and a denim jacket. I really like the collar detail, what do you think?

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This pattern is only available in printed form – something I did not realise when I first planned to sew this dress. I originally wanted to make it for Mother’s Day lunch, but assuming I could download it as a PDF, I didn’t leave enough lead time for the pattern to be posted from the US. I’m a PDF pattern devotee – a pattern has to REALLY impress me for me to wait the lead time for postage. Please Meg, consider releasing your patterns in PDF form in addition to printed!!

One tip I have  if you’re making this dress. As the elastic waistband sits on the lower part of your ribcage, I suggest inserting your elastic, adjusting to the length that you think is comfortable and then securing with a safety pin. Wear the dress for a few hours to check that the elastic is still comfortable BEFORE finishing the elastic ends and finishing the dress side seam. In my experience, the elastic length that felt comfortable when I tried the dress on is actually a little tight on my ribcage after I’ve been wearing the dress for a few hours. It will be a pain in the b*#t to fix.

All in all, I’m happy with how this dress has turned out and I’ll definitely consider making the short sleeved version when the weather warms up. Do you have a favourite Sew Liberated pattern? I’m thinking I’ll get on the Schoolhouse Tunic bandwagon next assuming I can wait for the postage time!

Ojai Wrap Pattern Tour

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Hi all, here’s a new pattern you may not have seen yet. It’s the very simple-to-sew Ojai Wrap from Justine Marie Patterns. I’m a bit partial to easy to throw on layers that add interest to an outfit and this wrap top fits the bill perfectly.

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If you think you haven’t heard of Justine Marie Patterns, trust me, you know Justine – she is the very clever lady behind the Sew Country Chick blog and Sewing Rabbit contributor. This is her debut for sale pattern, but Justine has some amazing experience behind her – amongst other things, she designs and sews theatre costumes – seriously clever lady!

For the wrap I found a really light and flowy knit fabric in a local op-shop (thrift store). It’s definitely the lightest knit I’ve ever been brave enough to sew with. The sewing went very smoothly as this is a pretty straightforward top to sew. I was a little nervous about hemming such fine fabric, but I just went slowly with my double needle and it’s honestly one of the neatest hems I’ve ever done (high-five self). I finished the top in an afternoon and I’m definitely not the speediest sewer out there.

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In a size small, my top was a little bunchy around the arms. I’m always between sizes as I have small shoulders and bust in relation to my waist and hips. I sewed a small based on my bust measurement, however, a medium sleeve fitted me better. The great thing with this design is that because there are no set sleeves, taking the sleeve band off, widening the armhole a little and attaching a new sleeve band is no biggie.

Here’s an action shot – see, the perfect top for playing aeroplanes!

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Justine made a great version for colder weather and as we’re about to hit winter here in Australia – I’ll be sewing up a heavier knit version next. How snug does this look?!

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Image courtesy of The Sewing Rabbit.

So there you have it. A really simple and cute top which will be a great addition to my wardrobe. This pattern would be a really good place to start if you’re learning to sew with knit – however, definitely choose fabric that is heavier than mine. Light knit fabric is NOT a good place to start if you want to keep your frustration levels down 😉

There is a pattern tour going on this week, so be sure to check over with Justine at Sew Country Chick to see some other inspiring versions of the Ojai Wrap (and I think you’ll find a giveaway there too). Thanks so much for having me on the tour Justine!

 

 

 

 

Selfish Sewing Week: A Striped Blazer

Yay! I love Selfish Sewing Week. Rachel has been clever with the timing, we’ve all been spending quite a bit of time lately sewing for the kids so some selfish sewing was definitely needed! There are a few firsts amongst this project – my first ever blazer and, get this, I went out in public to take photos of myself with my tripod for the first time! Scary stuff!! Took a fair bit of courage on my part to leave the relative safety of the confines of our driveway – but I did it and I was super proud of myself.

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Another first for me is the pattern – it’s the Everyday Basic Blazer for knit fabric from Ottobre 02/2014. This is the first women’s pattern I’ve sewn from Ottobre (it’s a Finnish pattern magazine that comes out 2 times a year for women and 4 times a year for kids). I have sewn a few of the kids patterns here and here but there is a big step up in the degree of difficulty between those projects and this one.

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I was completed obsessed with this Old Navy striped blazer that I saw on Merricks Art recently and I had it in my mind to recreate it. I was not having any luck finding a heavy weight knit with stripes in any of my local fabric sources, until last week! I think the sewing gods were looking out for me as I stumbled upon 1.3m of navy striped knit in an op-shop (thrift store) that I was rummaging through. It was meant to be!! The fabric was perfect – not too stretchy, not too thin. Ahhh but I couldn’t muck it up as there is no more fabric…..pressure!!

I made a few changes to the pattern too – it had a waist seam and the bottom pieces were more flared. I didn’t want the difficulty of more stripe matching than was necessary, so I got rid of the waist seam by attaching the upper and lower pattern pieces together. I also omitted the pockets, button, buttonholes and the ribbing knit sleeve cuffs. This is a size 42, however as I am small in the shoulders and bust compared to the rest of me, I took about an inch out of the side seam from the arm to the waist and decreased the size of the sleeve to fit my changes. I’m pretty ecstatic with how this project turned out – I love this jacket!!

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So, the thing with Ottobre is the instructions are written only, no pictures or diagrams at all. I’m an indie pattern devotee – in a big part because I am self taught and I need all the technique help I can get. I’ve tried sewing big 4 patterns twice and I’m pretty traumatised – I need some big glossy photos and step by step instructions thanks!

Having said that, I ventured into this pattern with written instructions only and we all came out the other end in one piece – even the jacket! It really would have helped if I had put a collar together before – going and looking at the other jackets in my wardrobe really helped. I muddled through and the result is not perfect, but it’s very wearable and I’m seriously pleased with it.

Are you sewing something for yourself this week? I’d love to hear about it!

 

 

 

Fashion Revolution Day – Who Made Your Clothes?

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Today is Fashion Revolution Day – a day to stand shoulder to shoulder with poorly paid garment workers in the third world and ask the high street clothing retailers – Who makes these super cheap clothes we are buying? and how much are they being paid? how are their working conditions? can they join a union? All these rights that we, in the west, take for granted.

It’s one year today since the Rana Plaza Garment Factory collapse in Bangladesh and this campaign is about putting pressure on the companies that buy clothing from factories like these. We want these companies to become more accountable for the conditions that workers in factories that they buy from are working in.

In addition, sewing bloggers are uniting, lead by Abby, Celina and Laura, and wearing our handmades inside out. We want to stand in solidarity with these garment workers as we know, more than most what it’s like to sew from scratch.

But, how lucky I am. I sew for fun – because I love it. How would it be if I had to sew for 10 hours a day in squalid conditions for a pittance? No thanks. I don’t want to do that and nor should these workers have to tolerate such a life.

How can we all contribute to turning this problem around? I think the answer will be multi-facited. This is what I’ll be doing… buying less and making more, up cycling more often and steering clear of those $4 children’s t-shirts in Target. This is an easy statement for me to make – I love to sew and the more I sew the better I get at it. I would encourage you to join me. Why not give it a try – I encourage you. You never know, you might just love it!

#insideout #handmadeinsideout