Friday, 29 May 2015

Polka Dot Dress

Hi guys! My blog's a bit dusty at the moment, as I got swallowed up by uni work. But I promise I've still been reading and enjoying your blogs in my spare moments, even if I haven't taken the time to comment. I read all my blogs on my phone in the Feedly app, which makes commenting a real pain. If only it was easier....

So, the dress. I made this before my life was absorbed by schoolwork, but didn't get around to blogging it till now.  Polka dots! And a boatneck! If this sounds familiar, it's because I've basically made this dress before, but in red. Well, I likes what I likes... hey, and this one is better than my previous effort so there's that!

Firstly. Pockets. Pockets forever! I use them all the time, though mainly just for my hands.
This one also has sleeves, which isn't necessarily better, really, but it fills a different niche in my wardrobe. It's getting into tights weather and I've been wearing it with cardigans. I wish I'd photographed it with a belt too, as I love it with a skinny belt!

The sleeves don't fit perfectly. I though I had them pretty sorted as I've used the sleeve in my other versions, but the difference is that those ones were gathered. This one seems to pull a little and my thought is that I need to widen the shoulders by moving the shoulder seam outwards a bit. You can't even really see it in these pictures! Just one of those micro tweaks I find myself getting into as I refine my favourite patterns more and more :)

This dress was made with my bodice block, which has been getting a good thrashing, which I'm very happy about. I drafted the boatneck onto it (drawing a neckline hardly counts as drafting though, hah!), and I also drafted the 3/4 circle skirt (again, circle maths is not fancy drafting, just maths). But it did take me long enough!

Know what else took me a while? Matching the spots at the centre front seam! Omg, what a pain. I had to add a seam there since the fabric wasn't wide enough. I'm sure no-one would have noticed, but I matched the dots so the seam is hardly visible. 

GOOD LUCK FINDING THAT SEAM! Also, you can see the little bit of extra ease I leave in the waist for comfort here.

My bodice block neckline needs fixing as it isn't high enough on the back neck, so I actually raised it for this boatneck style. Ideally a bodice block should form a very close neckline but mine doesn't, since I made it out of a pattern with a scooped back, and didn't raise it enough. Anyway, my point is that raising the back neckline for this garment caused it to gape, as I didn't increase the dart at the back neck!

Cue angst about my hunched/freakish neck, hah! I am as Rochelle at Lucky Lucille would put it, a lady turtle. Eventually I decided I'd rather just put some darts in all my garments than agonise over it. 

But here is my dark confession- I was too lazy to alter the dart on the garment and facing! So I ended up putting in some elastic in the seam allowance! This gathers it in at the back of the neck so it doesn't gape, while being relatively subtle. And lazy, did I mention lazy?? To be honest, it probably wouldn't have been much extra work to alter the dart, but didn't want to fiddle with stitching and re-stitching if I didn't get it right...

Look, no gape! I promise I won't do dodgy things with elastic again. Maybe. Hah! Well at least I know to increase the dart intake next time :)

Here is a picture of my secret naughty elastic stitched to the seam allowance. I stretched it as I sewed it on to gather the neckline a little.
Here you can see the slight gathering effect.

I feel like this dress is just right for my style right now. Did you notice I obnoxiously matched my shoes to it?? I love matchy-matchy nonsense. 
And full skirts are so great, if a pain to hem. First I overlocked the raw edge. Then I used my blind hem stitch on my vintage bernina.  I need more practice, as I find I get chunks where I don't manage to catch that little nip into the outer fabric. I hope you know what I mean! I gabbed about it a bit more the first time I used it, which was on my other polka dot dress.

Machine blind hem.
All worth it for the twirling. :)

Look, proof of the centre front seam on the skirt! 
As you can see, no fancy finishes in the guts. Just a simple neckline facing and overlocked seams.

I hope you like this dress, as I photographed my latest finished cardigan with this dress too! Heh. Make hay while the sun shines eh? So you'll be seeing that pop up sometime in the future :)

Oh! By the way, you might have noticed my blog is less awful-looking now! I'd never really cared that much about how my blog looked, until I suddenly did, so I changed it (hopefully you agree it looks better now!). I even made my own cute little clicky buttons on the sidebar, which took me forever since I really had no idea what I was doing!
This youtube video helped me with the blog icons...most other things were googling and trial and error! I managed to delete my Disqus in the process, but succeeded in getting it back. Heh!

Let me know what you guys think and if you spot any bits that need touching up ;)

Old blog, eew!
New blog, yay!
Now that I've handed in (most of) my assignments it seems I'll finally have some free time. 

I look forward to it, and finally getting back to making things for myself! :)

Friday, 17 April 2015

Completed: First Fair Isle

Hi guys! I hope all your overseas readers are enjoying the weather warming up....The winter chill is approaching here and I am not amused! Anyway, here's a top I finished a while back!
This was my first attempt at fair-isle knitting and it really wasn't too bad!

This came from a book I reviewed when I got it for my birthday last year, Learn to Knit, Love to Knit. I recommended it at the time, but now I say stay away! My first project from it was a bit of disaster; I've frogged it and hope it remake it into something I like.
The problem with this book is not only the poor fit on the first pattern I made- none of the patterns have schematics and I have no trust in it anymore. lol. 

So this is basically inspired by the book, but it is nearly all reworked by me. I just used the chart and garment style from the book; everything else I made up!

So what does that mean? It means custom stitch counts for every part of the pattern. I used a different weight of yarn from the pattern and also created my usual custom bust/hip/waist shaping. I also went for about 3" of negative ease, unlike the pattern. 
Some of the elements of the pattern are borrowed from Peabody, a pattern I knitted a long time ago.... which I have also frogged! I know! I'm killing my yarn babies, to make them into something I wear more often. I currently have 3 projects frogged, waiting to be reborn.
I borrowed a lot of the shoulder shaping and neckline from Peabody, as well as the sleeves, although I modified them a little.

I made the pattern without side seams, which is my preferred method of construction. :) So much easier!

The yarn I used was Valley Yarns "Goshen", which is a cotton/rayon/silk blend. I knew that fair isle was easiest and most suitable for wool yarns, because they are "sticky" and the fibres hold on to each other well. Being 100% stubborn, I decided my first try at fair isle was to be in this slippery, smooth yarn. I was concerned about the negative ease stretching it out too, and possibly letting the floats show through. First, I asked my knitting guru Gail what she thought, and she said you could do negative ease with fair isle. And you know what? It didn't work out too bad! It's not perfect, and I think it stretches a little at the bust, but I think it looks acceptable.

This is the closest shot I grabbed. Now if anyone is inspecting my chest more closely than this, I don't approve.

I think the fair isle pattern is really cute and I'm glad I started simple. I'd like to do more fair isle, but I'm not buying any more yarn till I work through what I have. Also, does anyone else find picking colours for colourwork quite the daunting task??

Guts! Pretty floats.
I honestly don't know how often I'll wear this top, but it was a good experience. And I KNOW I will wear it more than if I made it out of 100% wool like the sample in the book is. Why would I want a 100% wool top with short sleeves? First, it would run the risk of irritating the skin, as a lot of wools aren't skin-soft. And then my torso will be too hot in wool, or I'll be warm in wool but with freezing arms. I don't quite "get" the concept of a short-sleeved wool top. Then again, I do have a sensitive personal thermostat. 

The sample from the book. CUTE styling, except for the mega positive-ease.
I do need a pair of pants that actually fits me though... I have to wear these jeans with a belt to keep them up (that pesky pear-shape waist-to-hip ratio). You can see the belt buckle makes a funny lump underneath the top!

I went to the trouble of adding bust short rows, like I've done before. They're really quite invisible. It's just my knitting nerdiness coming out, but I like how they improve the shaping :)

Knit tops always seem to ride up on my backside and create wrinkles in the small of my back. I guess it doesn't bother me too much *shrugs*. Anyway, I'm pretty pleased with this top! It seems my love for knitting isn't going to wane anytime soon.

One of my favourite bloggers, Tassadit from Rue des Renards recently mentioned how some bloggers seem to hype up certain techniques as SUPER SCARY, and it can psyche you out! Well I agree with her: don't listen to those people! Fair isle is one of those techniques people seem to freak out about, but it's way less hard than it looks. And it's fun and it looks awesome. I used to listen to those people and get scared, and I probably have been one of these scaremongers on occasion, unintentionally! But I'm much happier now that I've learned not to fear techniques... well, most of the time.

Have you guys ever attempted a "scary" technique and found out it wasn't so bad? :)

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Completed: Creepy Cute Shirt Dress

Why hello there! Nice to see you guys again. I'm back to school and got swallowed whole by that, as well as getting sick on top of it all. So long time, no blog. And I haven't been sewing at all either (boooooo), but I have a few posts to catch up on.

I feel I look pretty dull and lifeless in these pictures, and well, it was because I was feeling a bit dull and lifeless. I'm feeling a bit better now, thankfully. And I hope I look better too... lol.

So anyway, I made a dress with tiny babies on it. If you don't think that's a good thing, I question your outlook on life. Actually, these babies are from an Australian book series, which I remember from  my childhood, featuring the adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie AKA the Gumnut babies. They're cute tiny Australian tree babies! I couldn't resist the weirdness of this print, even though my husband threatened to burn it.

Even he had to admit the dress was quite cute though; from a distance you don't even notice the tiny babies, it just looks like a nature print. Out and about, I did get an unsolicited comment from someone who recognised the Gumnut babies though- that made my day!

I didn't change much from the last time I sewed it, though I had to make the skirt a bit less flared in order to accommodate the pieces on my narrow fabric. This is my second shirt dress, but I want more, more! I just think they are so easy to wear, but make you look put-together, even when you didn't really put any effort in, hee hee.
I've gotten into the habit of wearing these shoes all the time, they're just so comfy! I'd love to wear cuter shoes on a daily basis, but nothing beats the practicality of these, though they perhaps do no favours for my naturally chunky legs. Haha, such a pear shape.

I did change the collar construction a little, and I'm very happy with it. I drafted a separate undercollar, and sewed it in two passes, which is fast, neat, and the points turn out really great! This lovely finish is thanks to Fashion Incubator's collar tutorials. Fashion Incubator is a great site, run by an industry professional. The tone can be almost disdainful at times (especially to lowly home sewers), but does have some very good content. Now if only I understood it all... lol!

In this picture I seem very bored with pockets, but in reality I'm very excited with them.

I made it a bit bigger at the waist, because I was worried that this stiffish cotton would make a difference, but I was totally being paranoid and didn't need to. Now it's a bit loose, but I like it with a belt, which fixes that problem. I have a history of being paranoid about making garments that pinch me at the waist. I just hate that feeling! I think I can trust my bodice block now though, considering I've used it a billion times. Okay, I think it's actually only 7, but that's not too bad. It would be easy to take in, but I have bigger fish to fry (in other words, I can't be bothered). I DO think it might be worth adding belt loops, but let's just see if I get around to that....

Another shot of the cute babies, with the buttons!

Yay naked babies dress. (I never imagined myself uttering that phrase). What do you think, is this a novelty print gone TOO FAR? 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

A small post about smalls

I've posted about undie-making before, having made made myself pants from Ohhh Lulu, and some for my fella too, from Thread Theory. The blogosphere seems to be a bit obsessed with bra-sewing at the moment (see SewaholicLladybird, Very Purple Person, and Clothing Engineer for a few examples!) but I haven't ventured that far yet! (Though I certainly would like to... I'm definitely a bit scared though- mainly of the fitting I admit!)

Anyway, this is a super simple free undies pattern from "So, Zo, What do you know?". It's faster to sew than the Ohhh Lulu pattern I have used, because this one only has side seams, rather than side panels! I still like the Ohhh Lulu pattern though, because it gives you more fun opportunities to play with fabrics. However, I can't deny that the speed of sewing these ones from So, Zo up is extremely satisfying.


This was my first encounter with fold-over elastic, having used picot for my previous underwear efforts. I must say, I really like the finish, and found it quite easy to sew on! It feels more durable than picot and feels really smooth and comfortable (some nasty-quality picots I've gotten are a bit scratchy). I also think it looks great. I used So, Zo's instructions for how to assemble them, but I have decided I don't like that way (though it is perfectly fine).  

You can see in the picture below, the top edge has been finished my preferred way. This way, I enclose the side seam in the elastic. It looks smooth and neat.
The bottom edge has been done with the side seam finished last. I don't like this because it looks lumpier, and also my overlocker struggles to get over all those layers.

And oops, omg rogue threads need clipping!

I made the UK size 12, which equates to an Australian size 14. That's larger than I wear, but I thought I'd better size up. And I'm glad I did! They're definitely not too loose.

I chose to sew my elastic on simply by sandwiching the fabric in between the two layers, although some instructions advise you to sew it in two passes. One to secure the first side of the elastic, and then another pass to secure the other side. That way is slower, but more fool-proof. I lived on the edge and did it in one pass, and it worked fine, so hooray!

As you can see, I sewed the elastic on with a wide zig zag (and not a terribly straight one, but hey, I was learning as I went). I stretched the elastic slightly, as I'm used to stretching picot in the same way. However, I'll try doing it without stretching next time; the undies pinch in a bit at the elastic.  Not in a way that hurts, but it is enough to give me subtle lumps, haha! I don't wear clothes tight enough to reveal the pinches though, so it doesn't matter.

For next time, I've added a little bit more butt-coverage, so hopefully that works well! I'm looking forward to perfecting this pattern in terms of construction and fit, and then making a little run of them, production-line style. I'll never want for undies again!

The fabric is the leftovers from the dress I made here. Using leftover knit fabric means the elastic and thread is really the only cost. :)
This post has been a little sparse on pictures, but I hope it's helpful to anyone considering making their own undies. I encourage it, as they are cheap, fast, and fun :)

I know a lot of you have made your own, and I'm keen to hear your opinion on which elastic you like and your fav finishing techniques!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

(Finally) Complete: Red Linen Skirt

Hello there! This post comes to you from the depths of the U.F.O (UnFinished Object) pile. This skirt sat unfinished for probably... a year?

The pattern is New Look 6106, a simple A-line skirt with pockets. As you can see, there is a band around the hem, which allows for contrast fabrics. I don't think that style appeals to me currently though. I feel like colour-blocking works better for a dress; I like the idea of keeping the skirt simple. That way, mixing and matching it seems easier.

The fabric is linen, and I heroically fit the skirt out of the remnants of my linen dress (which I totally don't wear because I over-tightened the shoulders). Wow, my blog's getting old now! That dress was blogged over 2 years ago... I'm pleased to say I've improved my sewing since then, heh.

The top is actually a Sewaholic Pendrell blouse I made ages ago, but I found the big pleated footballer-looking sleeves inhibited its wearability. The fabric is lightweight, but has lots of body to it, so the sleeves stuck out! It took very little time to unpick that part of the seam, pull them out, and re-sew it, and I'm glad I did! I'll get way more wear out of it now.

Here's the original sleeves!

So why did this skirt sit in the UFO pile for so long? Well, I wasn't having a great feeling about how it was going to turn out, so I moved onto something shinier. I'm TERRIBLE like that, and I'm trying to fix that habit!

The skirt has pockets, but they stick out a bit. I'm wondering if they stretched out on the bias? I didn't stabilise them. You can see this best from a bird's-eye view:

I took this while wearing it.
Not overly attractive! I don't know if I'll bother making this skirt again. I think the reason it was so hard to finish was because it didn't overly inspire me. But hopefully I get some wear out of it on a casual basis.

Also, it was stupidly windy when I took these photos:

I'm sure I can't be the only blogger who hates doing the photo bit? lol!

Side one, the waistband appears to tilt a little (tilting waistlines are my nemesis!). I swear it looked fine in the mirror too. Can I blame the wind? No?

I even lined the dang thing (sometimes I think I used to have more patience with my sewing, and now I rush too much!).

Aaand, these pictures of the insides totally went hot pink when I uploaded them! Thanks Blogger!! (This is a mystery to me and I'm too lazy to explore it).

At the time when I made this, I tried to tinker with the fit to give me a full butt adjustment. This involved adding length at the centre back and increasing the width of the back darts too. 
I'm not really sure this is even necessary for an A-line skirt, but oh, I just can't resist the urge to tinker. I also altered the yoke to fit my curves, and graded out at the side seams. The annoying thing about that is that it messes with the pockets, so it's not as simple when it could be. Sigh, fitting and pattern alterations!

Though it's PRETTY hard to evaluate the fit when the wind won't let the skirt settle for even a moment.

I'm glad to have finally finished and blogged this skirt. Now, how many more garments lie in the U.F.O pile, just waiting to be shown who's boss? Hmm, off the top of my head, at LEAST 3. And that doesn't count knitting U.F.Os. Go on and confess guys- how many do you have? And what's your oldest U.F.O? :D

Monday, 16 February 2015

Completed: One more Beignet Skirt (plus bonus top)

Isn't the Beignet skirt from Colette patterns great? I first made it in corduroy, then in wool, and now in a heavy cotton.

And you may recognise the top fabric from my birthday dress. Don't you love when you have leftovers enough for something else? It is the same modded-beyond-recognition pattern I used here, which I made with a scoop neckline this time. I'm still not 100% on the fit, though of course you can't really tell much when you tuck it in. The main issue I have is with the back armhole, there's something weird going on back there, and I intend to get to the bottom of it...

It looks like there's a centre back seam, but it's just a crease from being folded...
Speaking of fit, my Beignet skirt is allllmost there. I thought I had it about perfect, but there's a bit of straining on the side. I believe this indicates I need a bit more curve in my side seams at the high hip! There's also a slight bunching above the back. I first noticed it in my wool Beignet, but this confirms to me it wasn't just a fluke! I wonder if the bunching will relax when the side seams are let out?

This picture shows the strain quite well, though the (weird) way I'm standing is probably not helping.
Also, it was super windy on the day, so in most pictures I'm being blown around like crazy, heh. This is fairly standard for Wellington, but it doesn't stop me getting frustrated at it! It does not mix well with my love for floppy hats, yet I insist on wearing them...

"Curse you, wind!!"
I was a good girl and took shots of the guts, because I'm proud of them, hah!

Look at the corner, omg so sharp! That is some HOGWARTS-level magic.
I tinkered with the pattern and pattern instructions to build in turn of cloth to the facing, and just to be generally fancy. I am really pleased with how it worked, though it took me a while to figure out how to do turn of cloth on both the waistline AND the hem (I had to change the construction a bit). It was worth it though. Just because I'm a nerd really, and I find that kind of thing satisfying. I guess it's rather unnecessary, heh. 

As you can see, I used a light-weight cotton for the facings, as the shell fabric was quite stiff. I don't know much about the fabric as I got it at a pop-up store. I would describe it as denim-weight, but not denim. Hey, it works. I need to shorten the lining next time though as it's too close to the hem. That was my fault for adjusting for turn of cloth at the hem!

WIND, stop!
The top was fairly straight forward. Have some more guts.

I pressed one of my neck darts in the wrong direction. The shame.

On the plus side, the sleeve and neckline bias facings are some of the least terrible I've done!
I found the bias of this fabric to be rather agreeable and malleable. I pressed it into a curved shape before applying it, and I found that helped.

Overall I hope I get a lot of wear out of these garments! :) I think they'll be pretty versatile!