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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!

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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 🙂

A Vintage Skirt

Doesn’t look particularly vintage does it? What am I on about???

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It’s the fabric…..it’s been sitting on a bolt since the early 1960s waiting ever so patiently to be made into something.

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See – isn’t it AMAZING!!! I found this little gem at a Trunk Show held by A Piece of Cloth. Jennifer is the owner and I declare that she may have the BEST job in the world. She travels the world sourcing antique and vintage fabrics and textiles and brings them back to Australia for all of us to discover.

From Jennifer’s website:

‘Each one of the textiles we stock is hand selected on our international buying trips based on the uniqueness and strength of the print. We specialise in pre 1960s cottons as well as silks, rayons, linens, wools and acetates. We do not stock polyester, nylon or acrylic fabrics and avoid blends. We believe in quality not quantity, and as such, many of our textiles are in very limited supply.’ 

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Do you ever find a piece of fabric you love and just stand there staring at it – waiting for the inspiration to strike…….formulating a plan. Well, that was me at the trunk show. I bought what was left on the bolt, 1.2m and after this staring into space went on for a while (luckily I had no kids there with me, staring into space is a luxury only the childless can afford), I decided that a long skirt would showcase the fabric well. The skirt is floral on the front and plain black cotton lawn (2 layers) on the back. Jennifer advised that this was an early 1960s cotton  – probably about the newest fabric she had, some were dating back to the 1890s. I was amazed to find that not one of the fabrics had a musty smell (she told me she has her secrets).

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I know that I should probably cut the skirt off shorter – but how can I…….there is no more of this fabric left anywhere, ever……. I really wanted to showcase it the best I could, without letting it wear me. Anyway, what do you think? chop it off? ***UPDATE – I did chop it off and re-loaded the photos 🙂

If you’re in Melbourne, Jennifer is having a Trunk Show on the 9 & 10th of May and I highly recommend going along for a rummage. There were no inducements for this post – I just think what she does is cool.

Hanging on to summer – the Tessuti Valerie Top

As summer slowly edges away from us here in the southern hemisphere, I’m doing all I can to hold on to it a bit longer. I spotted this floral rayon in a local fabric shop a few weeks ago and it was one of those purchases where I had no real project in mind. I was tossing up between a Wiksten tank or a Scout tee. The lovely ladies on Instagram gave me some great suggestions too, but ultimately I wanted to try something a bit different. I hadn’t sewn any patterns from Tessuti before and here was a great opportunity.

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This is the Valerie Top – a lovely floaty A-line top with interesting gathered darts in the front and back. I have to say that this may just be the most comfortable top I own.

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The Pros: This is a straightforward project and quick to sew. I had it done from pattern purchase to completion in one day. The more I wear this top the more I love it.

The Cons: Be aware that the armhole is deep – there is a bit of bra on show. I took a photo to show you.

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Sizing: My bust, waist, hip measurements put me in a S-M-M, but because of the floaty nature of the top I thought I could get away with a straight small. I sewed up the straight size small and I was swimming in it – I have taken about an inch off both of the side seams and could probably have taken a bit more.

Will I sew this pattern again? Definitely! I’m thinking of a black version with a statement necklace to wear out to dinner.

Want to see more Valerie tops? Rachel made a lovely version here and Lara’s great pink version is here.

I guess I should think about sewing for Autumn now. How about you?

A Plantain Tank

Have you guys been seeing all the great versions of the Plantain top popping up lately? The Plantain is the latest pattern from the French indie sewing pattern company Deer and Doe. The best news is that it’s a free pattern – hurrah!!

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It’s a cute top for knit or sweatshirt fleece with options for long-sleeves and short-sleeves and a funky elbow patch. I cut short sleeves out of my fabric intending to make the short sleeve version, however when I tried the tee on to check the size, I loved it without any sleeves at all. Given it is the middle of summer here in Australia, a tank version will get plenty of wear.

This top was really simple to sew. The instructions are great – very clear and with plenty of tips if you’re new to sewing knits. I used my measurements to determine that I should cut a size 38 in the bust and grade out to a size 42 at the waist and hips. I only used my sewing machine to sew this top – mainly because of laziness (there was red thread on my overlocker/serger and I couldn’t be bothered to change it….). I used my double needle on the bottom hem and tried a new technique for finishing which came from this great tutorial from Abby @ Things for Boys. The double needle does not like backstitching and I was finding that my double needle sewing was coming unstitched on clothes I’ve made previously. Abby suggests that once the seam is finished, pull the top thread through to the back side and tie both threads together to secure. A simple tip that will hopefully improve the longevity of my sewing.

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To create the colour-blocked back piece, I slashed the pattern across the back and added seam allowance to both pieces. Then to add interest, I added a floral knit pocket at the front (I used the pocket piece from my Wiksten tank pattern). The green and pink knit fabric is Premium Japanese Knit from my local Spotlight and it a lovely mid-weight – light but not too light that it becomes a nightmare to sew. The floral fabric is leftover from Miss A’s Little Betty top.

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I LOVE the fit of this top – fitted in the right places and flowing where people who’ve had two babies might like it to be 😉 I’m planning to sew more of these tops, I think I’ll try a curved hem at the back of the next version.

Looking for some more Plantain inspiration? I love this version in sweatshirt fleece by Shino of Nutta!, this 3/4 sleeve version by Anna of Paunnet and this long sleeve version by April of Modern Handmade.

As for the lovely patterns at Deer and Doe, I’m eyeing off the Aubepine dress next. I think it would be gorgeous with leggings and boots when the weather cools down in this part of the world.

So, have you given the Plantain top a go yet?

Selfish Sewing Week – Batwing Top Knock Off

Are you participating in Selfish Sewing Week over at Imagine Gnats and Made with Moxie? The idea is simple – spend some time this week sewing for yourself and then share it with us. It’s selfish sewing week quite often over here at nearest the pin – I don’t need too much convincing to sew something new for myself!

With school holidays upon us here in Australia and sewing time at a premium, I needed a quick and easy project. I recently pinned this cute tee on Pinterest and decided to incorporate the pocket onto a batwing top.

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I cut a pattern from my new favourite batwing top. Two pattern pieces, no sleeves to insert – soooo quick!

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I used a grey marle cotton jersey that I had in my stash. The floral for the pocket was left over from my Washi dress, making this a very cheap project. The neckline is finished with a 1 1/2 inch wide strip of jersey. I have currently left the sleeve edges raw, but I may add binding to these too.

I think this batwing top knock off will be the first of many. Perfect for the in-between weather we are having here at the moment and so comfy. Thanks to Imagine Gnats and Made with Moxie for pushing us all to do some selfing sewing this week!

I’m linking this project up with the Professor Pincushion Closet Copy challenge over on Kollabora and the new link party at GoToSew.

Come on mum, enough photos already!!

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The Date Night Dress in under deadline.

This weekend my husband graduated from Melbourne University with an MBA. It was a big occasion for our little family (very proud!!). Anyhow, in typical fashion for me, I decided on Monday that I needed a new dress for the occasion. Plenty of time, yes! Except I then spent the next three days deliberating over what to sew………not enough time to order a Saltspring dress pattern, not enough time to order AMH rayon challis, too cold for a dress etc etc. In the end I ordered April Rhodes’ Date Night Dress pattern, to hell with the weather forecast! I have so loved some of the other versions of this dress, particularly Ashley’s, Abbey’sCaroline’s and Meredith’s. So, here is my version, sewn up in two evenings.

UPDATE: I have re-loaded the photos for this post with the dress shortened. The extra length on the dress was bothering me and like a good haircut it feels much fresher!

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The fabric is a lovely rayon from my favourite local haunt Joy’s Fabric Warehouse. I was a little intimidated by the rayon thinking it might be difficult to sew with but in actual fact it was lovely and very well behaved.

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I sewed a medium with an added 10cms onto the hem. I was wary that the dress might be quite short on me, as per Rae’s Staple Dress (a pattern also by April). Looking at the photos now, I will definitely shorten it for summer (DONE!). Next time I would sew a small in the bodice and grade out to a medium in the skirt. I will be sewing up the slip pattern that comes with the dress in white voile, but I ran out of time to sew it for the graduation.

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I’m pretty happy with my new dress, thanks April for such a lovely pattern and such clear instructions!

Action shot (pre-shortening the dress)…

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One Washi is certainly not enough

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Of course one Washi would never be enough and given that I am not a huge dress wearer, I thought I would give the tunic version a go.

There is not much to say about this pattern that has not already been said. I have sewn a straight medium both times except I added a little length to both the dress and the tunic as I’m 5’10”. I originally added the little cap sleeve that is included in the pattern but I preferred the tunic without it.

The fabric is a cotton poplin from Spotlight. Now I’m sewing clothing for myself I think it is time to invest in some higher quality fabrics to reflect the time and energy I’m investing in making clothes.

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What next? Maybe a Washi Maxi Dress. Although if there is something that defines me as a sewer, it would be a need for variety and I’ve been eyeing off some lovely versions of both the Saltspring Dress and the Date Night Dress. Stay tuned…

A Washi dress and a conundrum

After seeing so many gorgeous Washi dresses and tunics out there in blogland, I decided to sew up my own. I didn’t have a project in mind when I bought this floral cotton from the clearance table, but I’m glad I decided on a Washi dress. As the fabric is quite sheer, I followed Rae’s great video tutorial to add a bodice lining, for which I used a white cotton lawn. Looking back over at Rae’s site, I just realised that my pleats are opposite to hers…. lets call it a creative liberty shall we!

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So to my conundrum……. as a fairly new sewer, it’s sometimes hard to take a compliment even when it smacks you in the face!

Last week I wore my Washi out to lunch and while browsing in a boutique full of lovely handmade children’s clothes, the store owner (the sewer of these lovely creations) came straight over and complimented me on the dress I had made. She wanted to know all about how the lining was done and we had a lovely chat. Great! Yeah, except for feeling shattered that she could spot my handmade dress at 10 paces. My initial reaction was to want to run home and change as I felt like I had a big sign on my back saying ‘Look what I made!!’.

Wearing handmade can be a challenge and it often requires courage to step out the door in something you made yourself, especially in the beginning. The challenge for me is to try to focus on the positive of her comments and NOT focus on the fact that she could see it was handmade. I am sure that the store owner’s compliment was genuine so I’ll be plucking up my courage again – wish me luck!