Sweet Carolina… a Mood Fabrics silk metallic brocade three-piece

I know… it’s been awhile! 

I’m having a weekend ‘up north’ with Busy Lizzie… potentially shopping for shoes, buying fabric (who me??) or eating ‘high tea’.

After a bout of sensible sewing & lots of knit fabrics, followed by a bit of blog & sewing silence, I’m back with some very extravagant fabric, courtesy of Mood Fabrics, New York.

 

These pictures were very difficult to take. We have had a lot of rain… and when it clears it is soooooo hot & muggy. It was 30 degrees celcius and very humid…. and it was 4.30pm! Despite being lined, every item of clothing kept clinging to my skin. Fortunately this was not made with outdoor leisure in mind! I prefer to take all my shots outside as 1) natural light is kind, 2) the family happy snap camera doesn’t like playing nice inside, 3) my hometown is pretty & 4) I’m not big on putting my house on the blog – a bit precious I know but that’s me.

I confess I’ve had this fabric for months and the indecisiveness nearly destroyed me. It was so different to anything I had sewn previously and I was a little stumped… and terrified. 2.5m of Carolina Herrera silk metallic brocade from Mood Fabrics NY!  

 

The flowers are enormous… and the fabric shifts quite dramatically between light & dark.

So I spent lots of time draping a fabric over my dressform, wrapping about myself, sewing some small swatches and ironing them helps me better understand what type of garment the fabric might suit best. Then I bombard my sewing friends (thank you in particular to Lizzie, Jen and Susan for their advice) and the instagram peeps!

When I google Carina Herrerra there was an abundance of cocktail dresses, with fitted bodices and full skirts. I think this would be grand… but overwhelm my frame. This fabric would make a stunning sheath dress – which I own rather a lot of as it’s my typical work dress style – they often pop up in my Instagram feed.

I nearly made a Pauline Alice Quart Coat.  It would have been perfect… the fabric does crease beautifully into pleats… however I faltered at the last step and suddenly changed my mind. 

 

Due to the body of the fabric and the structural way it fell, I was haunted by the urge to make a cropped flared jacket that emphasised the body of the fabric. I finally settled on Vogue 8145

  

This was one of my very early pattern purchases, I’ve long adored the flared back of the jacket.This pattern is an unlined jacket. As the fabric is somewhat coarse in texture I used a lining from the stash. I underlined the body of the jacket and lined the sleeves. I used a bias tape to turn up the hem to minimise bulk.  

 

The sleeves are two piece raglan sleeves with a seam running down the top of the arm which provides some shaping.

I omitted the buttons as it felt ‘busy enough’. I also eliminated the centre back seam in the jacket body piece.

Once the jacket was complete… another bout of indecisiveness followed… should I make a long pencil skirt or a mini skirt? 

So I took the very practical approach of wrapping myself in fabric and the was very apparent that a long fitted skirt would be a nice counter balance to the very dramatic flared jacket. 

 

It was very tempting to indulge in a new pattern and I nearly gave in and purchased the Sew Over It Ultimate Pencil Skirt. In a rare bout of self restraint I decided to defer to my pattern stash. I really loved the fit of the By Hand London Pencil Skirt – which I had made and blogged way back in 2012.

I lined the skirt with more stash lining and added a walking vent (yes, a lined walking vent no less!) following A Fashionable Stitch tutorials. You can learn how to draft the walking vent here and how to line a skirt with a vent here. Thanks Sunni!

While this skirt pattern calls for fabric with some stretch, the long walking vent makes it easy to walk in – I do have a huge stride (fast walker!) so I’m slightly limited – probably walking in a more ladylike fashion. I actually adore the firmness of the fabric. It feels amazing to wear and I find the high waist is very comfortable. 

The top is a Burda 2964. I had this in my stash as well! I picked this up at a Spotlight sale as, despite the rather gawky pattern envelope art, I loved the square neck and princess seamlines. The top is cropped and I think the shapely yet slightly boxy fit suits the fabric and works beautifully with the high-waisted skirt. The top is a slight miracle of pattern cutting Tetris – I wiggled and jiggled the pieces onto the scraps of my brocade.

The pattern is unlined, features a side zip and slits in the seamlines. It also comes with long or short sleeves and in a longer length.
 

THE FABRIC  

This fabric freaked me out for a while as it was so unfamiliar. However… I’ve fallen in love with silk brocade and would now love a sheath dress! The fabric is just fabulous to wear.

The oversized print is spectacular of this particular Caroline Herrarra fabric is a unique blend of opulent and grunge. It does amazing things in different lights and settings. It’s just gorgeous. I’m never 100% comfortable in ‘pretty’ things however this rather masculine yet feminine blend of colour, print and texture is very appealing to me. 

I’d read much about the frantic fraying nature of brocade but didn’t find this fabric at all troublesome. In fact it was one of the easiest fabrics I’ve ever worked with. That’s not to say it doesn’t fray but it wasn’t shedding like a beast. 

I would advise lining this fabric.

Slip stitching the fabric is a joy as the stitches just seem to disappear. 

The colours of the fabric change quite dramatically – in the first image the fabric looks quite dark & moody. The light is behind me. The other pictures the sunlight is shining onto me, bringing out the yellow gold tones.

I doubt that I would wear all three items together… then again you never know! I do love to dress OTT sometimes, it’s fun! I’ve purchased several suits in my career and usually only wear the pieces together at the most formal corporate occasions. I prefer to mix and match. I love wearing jackets with skinny jeans and heels to more casual events such as dinner and drinks with friends. I also think I will wear the skirt with heels and a loose fitting shirt tied at my waist. 

Fabric: Caroline Herrara Silk Metallic Brocade, supplied by Mood Fabrics as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network. All opinions are my own. 

Pattern, Jacket: Vogue 8146 from the stash 

Pattern, Skirt: Charlotte Skirt from By Hand London (this pattern was sent to me in 2012 by the girls. Previously blogged and loved here.  All opinions my own). I’ve modified this pattern by adding a walking vent to the back and adding lining. 

Pattern, Top: Burda 2964 from the stash 

The Quart Coat will happen sooner or later… it’s just a matter of time & fabric…

I love sewing with Mood Fabrics, I’ve tried so many new things – anything you’d like me to try next – fabric or garment?

Sew Tired Confessions…

I’ve been not feeling 100% and haven’t sewn anything too strenuous for a little while. I think disaster would  be the end result. Experience tells me so.

‘So tired sewing’ can result in some truly funny moments.

Earlier this year I was wondering what was wrong with my ‘walking foot’. I then realised it was the ‘buttonhole foot’ and decided I needed to ‘step away from the machine’!



Are you ready to confess your ‘so tired sewing’ moments? Let’s have a giggle…

Pauline Alice: the Eliana Dress

aka The Wistful Dress. Life is has been busy and TBH ‘worse than yuck’ I need something/anything to go right… my girls love this dress so I’m taking it as a ‘win’.

This was one of those projects that I wanted to be perfect but just isn’t quite. Nothing major, I’d like the straps to be topstitched (see below), I should have made the elastic slightly tighter and the armholes are a little low.

Nevertheless I’m not lying on the sewing room floor in a state of abject misery… in fact I’m planning on wearing it tomorrow!

Back view. Pauline Alice Eliana Dress

Back view.

This is the Pauline Alice Eliana Dress. I’d never purchased a Pauline Alice printed pattern before and I must say I am impressed! I purchased the Carme blouse PDF ages ago but it hasn’t made its way into ‘The Queue’ for stitching just let.

The packaging is glossy cardboard, the instructions are in a neat little black-and-white A5 booklet (in English, French and Spanish) and the pattern is printed on large sheets of bond paper. The packaging is generously sized and it all goes neatly back together with plenty of room for your traced pattern – if you are the tracing type. The paper patterns are not cheap but the production quality is excellent.

I purchased my pattern from Caitlan of Indie Stitches. Her service and packaging was outstanding, I found via Pauline Alice’s site which lists Indie Stitches as the only Australian distributor of the paper patterns. I don’t mind PDFs but I avoid them if there is no A0 option unless I’m so keen I can’t wait for a paper pattern to be delivered – The Perfect Nose blogged about this today – and I agree with many of her points.

I contacted Caitlan via email as it didn’t appear to be in stock. She replied that it was ‘on it’s way’ and would let me know when it arrived. I was equally delighted by the detail of her business packaging when the pattern arrived (ok, it was ‘patterns’ as I’m besotted with the Pauline Alice Quart Coat & decided to purchase it as well). I do love thoughtful packaging… and the Indie Stitches envelope was stitched shut, the protective packaging sealed with fabric tape and the business card is gorgeous. That sort of thing makes me go ‘squee’ at the mailbox. LOL.

Pauline Alice Eliana Dress

Front view: Pauline Alice Eliana Dress. I have a nice new scar on my leg that I’m hoping will fade. A child’s toy box leapt out and bit me a few weeks ago… or I could have been tired and bumped into it. Whatever… it was ouch and quite a bit of blood!

PATTERN ALTERATIONS

I added half an inch to the bodice as I am long waisted plus I wanted a ‘blousy’ top.  The length wasn’t an issue for me as it is drafted for a height of 165cm and I’m 164cm tall.

I graded out to 36 at the waist and skirt as I wanted generous gathering & a swinging skirt.

I decided not to put in the pockets as I was concerned they might look obvious with the knit jersey.

WAIST ELASTIC

As confessed in my Japanese skirts post, I’m not a huge fan of elastic waists but I think I’m coming around… in some cases.

I decided to omit the buttonholes and forgo a waist tie. Sometimes it feels a bit like gym shorts to me. I added a line of stitching in the middle of the elastic casing channel and used two thin strips of elastic instead of one wide one. I just prefer the look of two gathered rows than one thick one.

A very simple way to soften a thick elastic waistband- just sew two channels and use thinner elastic. Eliana Dress by Pauline Alice

A very simple way to soften a thick elastic waistband- just sew two channels and use thinner elastic

I’m going to add some belt carriers at the waistline (I’ve already made them) as I hate how a belt sometimes slides above or below the elastic.

I do like the waistline casing on this pattern. You sew the bodice and skirt together, neaten the edges together and then fold the skirt up towards the bodice, sewing a 3cm seam to create a channel. This makes the waistline hug the dress against your body which I think is a nice finish.

NECKLINE

Sewing those jersey strips in jersey was NOT FUN – yes Busy Lizzie warned us about that in her jersey Eliana dress post… but I had my heart set on a khaki jersey Eliana. If you are making this in jersey, I did some googling and you don’t need to cut jersey ‘bias’ strips on the bias. You can cut them on the grain with the greatest amount of stretch – well that’s what I read on this post by Made by Rae. Worked for me!

I machined the strips to the bodice and then turned them over and hand stitched them in place. I also slip stitched the edges of the long back ties and shoulder straps together. Yes. It turned a quick make into a long make, however I found it difficult to get a neat line of top stitching over the strips & gathered jersey. I knew wonky stitching would bug me so I opted to hand sew. I had a hideous week so the downtime taken stitching was much needed & appreciated!

I stitched a ‘boho gold’ chain along the neckline to add some interest. I also like ‘old gold’ tones with khaki. The chain meets with a necklace clasp at the centre back. I chose to wrap the chain around the shoulder straps and leave the tails hanging down my back. I left the jersey ties in tact – in case I decide to remove the chain in the future.

Simple 'boho gold' chain added to the neckline and twisted around the shoulder straps.

Simple ‘boho gold’ chain added to the neckline and twisted around the shoulder straps.

ARMHOLES

The armholes are low. My wardrobe ‘fix’ was to wear a black bandeau top over my strapless bra (which is ‘nude’ colour – not so attractive as a ‘peekaboo’ option). It cut in slightly as you can see in the pictures – which of course annoys me so I’ll have a think about that…

I don’t think it would matter as much with long sleeves but it’s something you might want to consider with the sleeveless version – plus it’s not bra-friendly.

Pauline Alice Eliana Dress

The underarms are LOW.

HEM

I used some Emma Seabrooke Knit stay tape from Stitch 56 (popped up in my facebook feed on night) and a double needle on my Bernina machine. I have no idea why but it had never occurred to me to baste the stay tape the wrong side of the hem and then turn it up and iron in place (recommended on the package). I know – I’m an idiot. So much quicker, easier and neater – this tape is very nice too.

CONCLUSION

It’s a simple make & easy to wear. Apart from all my hand stitching & attaching the chain, fiddling with pliers etc, this dress came together quickly.

I think it would make a lovely maxi dress in a woven rayon. It would make a gorgeous winter dress with long sleeves, tights & boots.

I’m wearing it tomorrow. Win.

 

Pattern: Eliana Dress by Pauline Alice, purchased from Indie Stitches- the only place in Australia to buy the Pauline Alice paper patterns.

Fabric: a rayon knit from Spotlight. From my ‘Fabric Library’, purchased for about $15 a metre.

Accessories: Shoes for Manning Valley Shoe Store - ages ago from the ‘bargain table’ for a ridiculously low sum… like $20 | bangle from my workplace shop (it’s a hazard walking in the office)

Also see: Busy Lizzie in Brissie | By Maggot | Top Notch | Couleurs et chiffons

These sunnies on-off pictures amuse me. It's like a tic!

These sunnies on-off pictures amuse me. It’s like a tic!

 

Note: Caitlan kindly offered me a little discount – however I was purchasing it anyway. I like to spread my self-indulgent expenditure around the sewing business world. A good thing too… I’ve never blogged the size of my pattern stash… it’s considerable!

Stylish Skirts – a review and a skirt (or two)

Last post I mentioned the Japan Sew Along over at Tanoshii which I discovered on Instagram. I’ve got a rather healthy collection of Japanese sewing books, in fact they outnumber all my other sewing books, I haven’t blogged my collection as I like to sew from things from them first – I’m a ‘proof is in the pudding’ girl. So I decided to try Stylish Skirts: 23 Easy-to-sew Skirts to Flatter Every Figure.

Warning: I’ve included many pictures so you get a good overview of what to expect with this book.

Stylish Skirts by Sato Watanabe. Published by Tuttle

Stylish Skirts by Sato Watanabe. Published by Tuttle

I’ve seen this book reviewed a few times but there are only a few skirts floating about on the Internet that I could find. I’m sure there are more but there is only so much time I have to hunting down slightly obscure things on the Internet!

This book is interesting because unlike many sewing books there are no pattern sheets. Each skirt ‘pattern’ is a simple diagram showing you how to draft the pattern – or in some cases a cutting layout diagram with the pieces and measurements marked in inches (centimetres in brackets). I really like this aspect of the book.

Unless you are absolutely not-a-skirt-wearer, I think many people would find something to appeal or suit their style in this book. Many of the skirts are composed of panels drafted on waist and hip measurements so the sizing is up to the drafter. The simple skirts (such as gathered skirts) could be made smaller or larger quite simply – more or less fabric for the panels or waistband. There are 23 skirts in total. I’m sharing a few below.

Warning: you need to add seam and hem allowances to the measurements provided, the instructions are brief and the drafting diagrams may take some puzzling out. There are plenty of diagrams to help you along.

You probably don’t need this book to draft some of the most basic skirts… however some of the other skirts are more complex… or quirky…

The book content pictures not fabulous – taken earlier tonight while sitting on my bed using the iPhone (eating chocolate slice) – but I think you get the idea. I often find the line diagrams are very helpful, particularly as I don’t think you can see the interesting design lines for some of these skirts.

This is perhaps my favourite. I love those 'snail' panels.

This is perhaps my favourite. I love those ‘snail’ panels.

A beautiful gored lace skirt

A beautiful gored lace skirt

a draped skirt... yes my weakness!

a draped skirt… yes my weakness!

All of these skirts are quite simple yet there is attention to detail and an appealing timeless simplicity to them.

Lovely simple embroidered and pintucked skirts

Lovely simple embroidered and pintucked skirts

Some cute wrap skirts from Stylish Skirts

Some cute wrap skirts from Stylish Skirts

I think the skirt on the left is a classic... however I suspect the nautical style of the skirt on the right will appeal to many!

I think the skirt on the left is a classic… however I suspect the nautical style of the skirt on the right will appeal to many!

Personal Thoughts on Stylish Skirts: I do like this book. It’s a little different to the rest of my Japanese book collections. The skirts range from simple through to more quirky. I will be sewing more, it’s a timeless collection of skirt patterns.

I chose a simple, irregular tiered (rather than the traditional three-tiered) boho skirt, the gathered tiers are broken or staggered.

As I was working with a number of rectangles, I drew a diagram with each panel marked with the finished measurements. I also pinned a little piece of paper so I knew which rectangle belonged where to minimise confusion when sewing the pieces together.

sewing notes to keep me on track

sewing notes to keep me on track

The skirt is very simple, composed of a front and back panel and two identical side panels. Each panel is broken into a top and bottom piece. You simply gather the bottom pieces attach them to their respective top pieces to make a panel. The panels are attached to form a tube and you attach the waistband.

A line drawing of the skirt

A line drawing of the skirt

The waistband has three channels, elastic on the top and bottom channel and they central channel with a drawstring. I’ve never been a fan of thick elastic waistbands but I think the two pieces of thinner elastic and a drawstring is very comfortable to wear. I also think the waistband is quite pretty with the three gathered rows. Once you finish the waistband you hem the skirt… And you wear it for the whole weekend… at least that is what I did!

NAVY BRODERIE ANGLAISE

My first effort was in a simple navy broderie anglaise from Spotlight. It’s a little crisp but you can clearly see the panels and gathers.

Stylish Skirts - tiered navy front 2 beach

it was very hot and very very windy – somehow this was snapped between gusts of wind!

Stylish Skirts - tiered navy side 2 beach

Side view

Stylish Skirts - tiered navy front outside

This is after the beach – later in the afternoon, post housework and other exciting events in my daily life. My arms are always in motion it seems – either to put on/take off/adjust sunnies – a habit hard to shake if you spend a lot of time outdoors I guess.

 

the wind was in-escapable on Sunday. Hot and horrid!

back view: the wind was in-escapable on Sunday. Hot and horrid!

VINTAGE FLORAL

This one is quite different, a vintage rayon (I think) from a Lifeline charity shop, I paid just $3 for 4 metres. It was quite narrow, less than a metre wide. The gathers and design details are less obvious but it’s a pretty skirt and flows beautifully as I walk. Cotton lace from the stash.

Stylish Skirts - tiered floral side beach

I think I'm mid-sunglasses installation here so let's just look at the skirt :-)

I think I’m mid-sunglasses installation here so let’s just look at the skirt :-)

Construction notes: I gathered the lower panels using two rows of stitching. I ironed the gathers flat once I had them even – I find sewing over the gathers produces a new even result this way. I overlocked all the seams together after I sewing the panels together using my sewing machine. I used lacing cord (it has some stretch) as my drawstring rather than making a self cord. This skirt is not rocket science, it’s very easy… but very comfortable and easy to wear for casual days.

I do like these skirts. They aren’t fancy or couture makes by any stretch of the imagination however I love maxi skirts… long, loose, soft skirts that I can tuck my feet under and curl up in. These will be worn a lot. Boho-style clothes and I are good wardrobe buddies. It’s one of those styles I always feel at home and relaxed in.

BOOK: Stylish Skirts: 23 Easy-To-Sew Skirts to Flatter Every Figure by Sato Watanabe
FABRIC: navy broderie anglaise from Spotlight (purchased at the recent 30% off fabric sale) and vintage floral fabric.
NECKLACE: from Mrs Peterson Pottery… love this one…
(note: all purchased by me)

Mrs Peterson's Pottery necklace

Mrs Peterson’s Pottery necklace

It’s a wrap (dress)… Butterick 6054

I’m rather amazed I haven’t made a wrap dress until now as I love them.

Butterick 6054

I think I’m rather ashamed I’ve never sewn one of my favourite styles before!

Maybe it was my early fear of knits… my inability to source quality knits locally… anyway – whatever the reason, I’ve made one now. Funnily enough it is very similar to the pattern envelope! I had planned to make McCalls 6884 however I chose this instead as the McCalls is a ‘mock’ wrap dress and I like ‘real’ wrap dresses (I still want to make 6884 of course).

CUTTING OUT

I find some knits challenging to cut out. This knit is a very soft cotton jersey from The Fabric Store, Sydney. While it’s not ‘slippery’, it does have lovely drape and wants to flop about. I started to set up on the floor (which is tiled so it’s an endurance) then suddently realised that my bed was a much more agreeable height. So I laid my cardboard mat on the bed and found the process much less exhausting – my knees thanked me. Clearly this style of cutting is not for using a rotary cutter, I used my shears.

I also thread marked all the notches, pleats and so on. I find some knits slide around if I’m trying to drag chalk over them – or any marker for that matter. Using a needle and thread is a little more time consuming but the accuracy makes it worthwhile.

PLEATS

Those lovely skirt and bodice pleats are a little challenging to sew through. The pleating is simple enough to do… however you end up with 11 layers of fabric just on the skirt piece. The bodice has two pleats and when you join the skirt to the bodice, there is another pleat across the waist line seam… to top it off you also need to attach the tie to the gigantic wad of fabric. It was quite a challenge to feed through my machine.

Butterick 6054

Please excuse my ancient cutting board, complete with toddler scribbles.
Focus on the pattern… that is a LOT of pleating for a knit…

As the front pleated skirt curves up towards the waist, the side of the top front hemline is curved upwards. I find that the squared-off corner of the other side (under the pleated wrap front) wants to perform ‘peek-a-boo’ – which I find annoying as it looks messy… to me… I’ve often said I’m stupidly fussy about minor visual details.

If I made this again I might curve the corner of the inside wrap skirt piece. I think this would minimise the visual distraction the squared off corner creates. My cure for this one? I tuck a tiny bit of the fabric on the inside into the side of my knickers to bring the edge up a tiny bit…. shhhhh don’t tell anyone. The fabric is so busy, and the pleats so distracting you would never know… except I’ve told you. Ooops.

Butterick 6054

The wrap does blow open a little and the wrong side can show… so it’s a classic wrap dress in that regard! The wrap is quite generous so I had no concern I would have a ‘whoops’ moment

TIES

I found these far too long. I’ve left them, however the tie on the side that goes under the front wrap and through the side opening is huge! I wrapped it around my waist twice (going under the front and through the side opening each time as I find all those ties wrapping around the front and over the pleats to be rather visually messy) and tied it as the side with the pleats.

I’m personally not a fan of ties that meet at the centre back. If you are sitting in a chair, having a lumpy knot between your spine and the chair is not comfortable. I also think it looks better at the side than dangling down over the junk trunk. Just personal preference.

SIDE OPENING FOR TIE

I Double stitched the seam around the opening for strength. I then used thin strips of lightweight hem tape to fuse the loose edges down rather than hand stitching them. Not because I’m lazy (I hand stitched the wrap facing down and to the waistline) but because I thought it would be neater and stronger and I’m happy with the finish. Sorry no photos… as you can’t see the fusing and the seam is now completely concealed and sealed away from prying eyes by the fusing tape.

NECKLINE

I found this neckline stayed in place all day and did not gape at all.

Butterick 6054

No neckline gaping whatsoever… happy days!

I didn’t actually cut the precise length of the band or bother to mark the notches and so on. Instead I simply pinned the band along the neckline, stretching it ever so slightly as I pinned, rather like attaching a neckband to a t-shirt. Just pulling it up ever so slightly to ensure there was a little tension to pull the neckline back against my skin. It appears to have worked a treat.

I used my coverstitch machine to stitch the band down after I attached it.

I also used some tape in the shoulder seams to stabilise them due to the weight of the fabric. Knit is strange stuff… it can be so heavy!

HEM

I always find hemming knits rather daunting. It is either smooth sailing or a turbulent trek of horror and frustration… sometimes involving hyperventilating. While the instructions have you turning up the hem and steaming out the curve etc. I found that this hem turned up very easily without any excess fabric to bother me. I simply turned it up, steamed it into place and then hand basted it into place. I often find encountering pins in the machine hemming process rather messy and sometimes results in a break in the rhythm of the stitching. I like to sew a consistent speed when hemming, no pauses and this seems to work – especially with my coverstitch machine, she’s a little… well… moody at times.

Butterick 6054

hmmmm, I’m undecided I think this makes the caboose look hmmmm, curvy….

FABRIC

It feels divine, soft and cuddly. The staff did say they had feedback that the black bled into the white when it was washed. And it did. Badly so. I washed it twice and hung it so it wasn’t touching as it dried. Only time will tell if it’s a repeat offender! I think I might search for some dye ‘fix’ solution – that must exist!

Likes

  • It’s a wrap dress. It’s a classic just not because it looks great on many body types, it feels like PJs!
  • Lovely neckline.
  • Pleats at the waistline that somehow manage to highlight curves and conceal bumps at the same time.

Dislikes

  • Not sure about kimono styles on me. I feel my shoulders look droopy. I think I prefer sleeveless or 3/4 sleeves – or a style which highlights my shoulders rather than covering them.
  • The huge volume of fabric at the waist… soooo many pleats.
  • The very, very long ties.
Butterick 6054

My choice of fabric unfortunately hides many of the details of this pattern, such as the lovely side skirt and bodice pleating. It was starting to rain – hence the little blurry spot on the camera lens right on my tummy/hip!

I don’t like this style on me quite as much as my cowl-neck dress, however it is perfect casual workdress – I don’t have to look super-corporate every day so it’s a great choice for those days at the desk when you just want to be comfortable.

While it’s not my favourite make, I wore it to work this week and got lots of compliments… and it felt like PJs #winning

Pattern: Butterick 6054. Size 6.
Fabric: Cotton Jersey from The Fabric Store, Sydney
Shoes: Sempre di by Biviel. I have had these forever… and they are slowly dying *sobs*. I actually wore my new red Miz Mooz shoes to work with this dress – however I like the monochrome look. I know – stupidly fussy again. (no affiliate links – I just buy stuff I like)

ON THE RADAR…

Sewing: I’ve sewn a Japanese pattern book skirt this weekend. It’s not fabulous but I suspect it will get worn a lot as it is comfortable! Blog post and photos soon. This is part of the Japan Sewalong (more info on how to participate here).
Life: December/January was overwhelming. Work & family stuff have been challenging to say the least. I don’t have much on the 2015 Fun & Frivolity Schedule… no holidays on the radar. However I will be hanging out with my sewing-soul-sister Busy Lizzie in Brissy at the end of March for High Tea. I have a zillion things to do in Brisbane as my Sydney trips are limited at the moment… including shoes and of course The Fabric Store, Fortitude Valley.
I’ll be down in Melbourne in August for Frocktails. Hope to see you then!

ZIGGI Jacket – Style Arc. Couching Tiger, Hidden Cougar…

Style Arc Ziggi Jacket - I always seem to push my sleeves up!

Style Arc Ziggi Jacket – I always seem to push my sleeves up!

hmmmmm, not sure where to start with this one…

Firstly, I love that fabric and not because Mood Fabrics NY gave it to me as part of the blogger network I must sing its praises. I absolutely think it’s fabulous fabric, it really is. I hadn’t sewn with ponte-style fabrics before but have discovered why people adore sewing with them. They have enough ‘give’ to make sewing a breeze, they are firm enough not to cause the headaches of tshirt style knits in the sewing process. They have enough body to skim over lumps and bumps for dresses, skirts and jackets. I’ll be back for more!

I wrote more about the fabric in relation to this pattern on my Mood Sewing Network blog post – there was too much to say to write it all at once so I focused on the fabric at Mood Sewing Network and the pattern here.

So this post is mainly about the Style Arc Ziggi Jacket pattern and my thoughts on it. Ziggi seems to be one of those patterns that is tucked away in pattern stashes or on a sewing ‘wish list’.

I’ve had a jacket fetish going on – yes, it’s out-of-season sewing. I just sew what I feel like. It was STINKING hot on this day. About 33 degrees and the humidity was suffocating. Naturally it POURED rain the next day, about 160mm in a few hours, and the temperature dropped by over 10 degrees (Celsius). I had to do a massive detour to get home from the fabric shop that day as many roads suddenly closed due to flash flooding.

STYLE ARC PDFs

I purchased this pattern from the Style Arc Etsy shop.

This is a great way to purchase Style Arc patterns (note: not all of them are available) if you have been concerned about purchasing one-size patterns – or want to avoid postage costs.

It’s important that you realise that you might get three sizes (I purchased the 4/6/8 jacket pattern) however those sizes are NOT nested. You receive three separate PDF files, one for each size. So if you are hoping to grade between sizes… it’s not going to be easy… unless you particularly like taping together 48 pages of pattern several times. I don’t know… I’ve got better things to do with my time!

Style Arc Ziggi Jacket - it's a PDF carpet!

Style Arc Ziggi Jacket – it’s a PDF carpet!

This jacket can be made as a lined or unlined jacket. Unfortunately if you choose not to line the jacket the PDF has not been set up in such a way that you can just print the shell pattern pieces.

Ziggi is a monster PDF pattern to piece together, 48 pages in total. The only print option is A4 sheets. Hopefully one day Style Arc will also provide a print/copy shop version for A0 sheets and 36 inch wide paper as provided by companies like Grainline. I don’t mind PDF patterns however I do LOATHE trimming and taping together 48 pages. I know there are bigger patterns out there but I would prefer to pay a little more for printing and have several A0 sheets printed.

STYLE ARC INSTRUCTIONS

I think everyone knows Style Arc instructions are notoriously brief. I knew what I was getting myself into. I decided everything would be OK as there are many blogger posts about this jacket, including a sewalong by Sew Maris and Stacey Sews. If you are going to make this jacket – refer to these posts. And google – lots.

The instructions for this jacket are brief. Less than one A4 page in total. I think that is very brief considering all those zips and the lining. There are also no diagrams, other than diagrams of the jacket itself. I don’t have huge issues with this as I knew that before I started. I’m just pointing it out so if you do purchase this pattern you don’t get a shock.

I didn’t refer to the instructions much at all. I generally read sewing instructions before I start any project to see if there are any new or unusual techniques I need to be aware of or research before I start. Then I may refer back to them as a guide for order of construction or to see if the seam allowances vary as I’m sewing.

The pattern pieces have the stitching line printed on them. I personally hate referring back to pattern pieces to check seam allowances. I’d rather the pattern just said ‘sew the collar outer edges together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance’ rather than ‘Sew the collar outer edges together’. Call me picky but I don’t think it’s much to ask for a few more characters in the sentence.

ZIGGI ZIPS

It’s important to point out, before you rush off and buy supplies for this jacket, that the pattern requirements state 6 inch zips for the front pockets.

Unless you like shortening your zips, you will need to alter the pocket bags and facings to accommodate the 6 inch zips. I used 5 inch zips. I have long, skinny hands/fingers and decided I could get my paws into the 5 inch openings.

Longer sleeve zips are easy enough to accommodate, you just need to change the opening length.

Style Arc Ziggi Jacket - I was stupidly proud of myself when I finished my first zip pocket.

Style Arc Ziggi Jacket – I was stupidly proud of myself when I finished my first zip pocket.

That surprised me most about this make is how easy the zips were to put in. Yes, it was fiddly but I didn’t find it difficult. Sew Maris provides a fantastic blog post on this.

My Ziggi Zip Tips…

  • Take your time
  • Be generous with your zipper window facings – cut good sized pieces, you can always trim them back. I used silk organza for my facings.
  • I like to press my silk organza facings and take lots of time to roll them to the wrong side of the jacket and achieve clean straight edges and neat corners.
  • I also like to pin the facings in place before I baste the zips into the window opening. I always put an extra pin on an angle to the corner rather than just pinning around the straight edge. It seems to help pull out the corner of the facing and create a little more tension to create a nice sharp corner.
  • Hand baste the zip into the opening you create. It’s worth that little bit of extra time and makes tops sticking around the opening much easier and smoother.

If you would like to add sleeve gussets to your sleeve zips (not part of the pattern), Shams of Communing with Fabric has a great post on this – and Ruth of Core Couture has added some helpful tips here. I chose not to add sleeve gussets but you can certainly do so for an extra finishing touch.

Peekaboo Cougar Pockets!

Peekaboo Cougar Pockets!

I’m not such a huge fan of metal zips. I know they are ‘cool’ but clearly I’m not. They interfere with how the jacket sits on the body and moves. I’m just too picky about weird things I think. My zipper for the opening as a slight ‘wiggle’ in the teeth and that annoys me senseless.

POCKETS

I only used one of the pocket facings per pocket. Maris is right, you only need one. The pattern instructs you to cut four.

TOP STITCHING

I like top stitching. I really, really do. It’s not just the look I like. I also enjoy the process.

I use upholstery thread for my top stitching if sewing with my Bernina. I find it behaves better than top stitching thread. It could just be my Bernina has issues with top stitching thread thickness and I just need to fiddle with the tension – or perhaps my Bernina is just antsy about very thick thread just like she is about shirring elastic. I love my Bernina but she’s got some quirks – don’t we all?

I lengthened my stitch to 3. I used my edge stitching foot and put my needle over 2 ‘clicks’. I also always top stitched on the same side. It might be overly fussy of me but with something like top stitching I find the more consistent your method/technique is the more consistent the outcome is.

Style Arc Ziggi Jacket - back top stitching detail

Style Arc Ziggi Jacket – back top stitching detail

I always keep a hand sewing needle close by when top stitching. When I finish top stitching an area I use my hand sewing needle to take the top stitching thread to the wrong side of the fabric and finish the thread off. I guess that’s more fussiness but that’s how I roll some days.

I top stitched a large piece of fabric and then cut my yokes and upper sleeves from the piece. I also fused some Pellon the wrong side of the fabric so some extra body. I also put in shoulder pads to bulk up my silhouette and support the shoulders and sleeve heads.

LINING

I found the lining a b.i.t.c.h to sew in. I’m not particularly happy with it. It feels slightly off and Jodi of Sew Fearless had the same issue. I found the instructions entirely useless for this step. All I can say is good luck, it may involve cursing and a seam ripper. (NOTE: GingerMakes made an excellent point – it maybe sewing a woven lining to the knit shell – probably true!

Style Arc Ziggi - back view

Please tell me next time not to keep putting my hands in my pockets when taking photos – ruins the line of the jacket… but that’s what pockets are for!

THANK YOU

A big thank you to Ruth of Core Couture. When I was vacillating about this pattern and the fabric, I googled myself silly, researched Pattern Review (a time efficient way to check what fabric people used with a pattern) and finally contacted Ruth about her experience as she had sewn this jacket in a polyester knit, most reviews I’ve seen have been sewn in a woven. She provided plenty of advice and encouragement along the way. Thank you Ruth!

I often find when I’m sewing, it feels like I’m sewing in a vacuum. So I often reach other to other bloggers via email, twitter or messaging, particularly if I know they are experienced in certain patterns or techniques. I’ve always found people to be incredibly helpful and generous with their advice and encouragement. If you ever need some extra advice – don’t’ hesitate to reach out to someone else, especially if you have no IRL sewing circle to hang out with.

JUNGLE JANUARY

This jacket is a bit of a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Cougar… I roared like a angry beast during the making of this jacket (the lining caused me the most grief). I lined it with some cougar print fabric from my stash. This fabric has popped up a couple of times on my blog… here and here!

So this one is for you Anne! I feel like some old biker gang girl…. oh dear… perhaps I am a cougar after all!

The Hidden Cougar

The Hidden Cougar (crappy tank top underneath due to the heat!)

POSTS I FOUND HELPFUL

Other than the lining, I didn’t find this too difficult to make. It’s detailed and fiddly in parts but not that hard. I did lots of research and googling along the way and found these posts very useful.

General Ziggi Tips – Core Couture

Inserting the inseam zips

StaceySews: for a list of links to the Sew Maris and StaceySews Ziggi posts

FINAL THOUGHTS

I chose the Style Arc pattern over the Kwik Sew biker jacket due to the volume of online posts and help available for the construction.

The sizing seems largish for this particular pattern. I sewed size 6 based on my measurements and the comments about the Style Arc sizing accuracy. I think a size 4 would have been better on my frame, for your reference my bust measures 32 inches and my under bust measures 27 inches (I find it helpful when bloggers include their measurements as it is so hard to judge someone’s physical size and the finished garment size on them).

I think Ziggi is quite boxy despite what the pattern illustrations indicate. If you are considering sewing this because you think it’s more fitted and sexy than the Kwik Sew biker jacket pattern… it’s not as fitted as you think it is going to be. I increased my seam allowance to 25mm between my bust and hip to eliminate the boxiness of this jacket. Given the instructions, PDF, single size pattern files, wrong zip sizes, lining issues I had… if I wanted another biker jacket, I would try the Kwik Sew next time. Yes, the catalogue images are not very enticing but I’ve sewn plenty of ‘ugly ducklings’ and been delighted by the end result.

I seem to have written a lot in this post and I suspect I will think of more to add later!

ALSO SEE: Stacey Sews | Core Couture | Communing with Fabric | Sew Fearless | Sally Bee Makes (love this one) | A Challenging Sew | Clothing Engineer (shearling) | Meggipeg (gorgeous two-tone leather) | Sew Maris | Sew Judy | Sigrid Sewing | Dodgy Zebra | Sewing Pattern Review
And a Ziggi in progress (maybe) report: My Messings

Pattern: Style Arc Ziggi Jacket
Fabric: Wool Stretch Suiting from Mood Fabrics NY
Accessories: Sunglasses: Ralph Lauren (birthday pressie from my mum) | Key necklace: Tiffany & Co | Ring: sterling silver from some random little Hunter Valley shop during a girls’ road/wine trip

Simpicity 1463 & WIPs…

Yes, I’m bored of my tshirts too – however I tweeted I was making this… there was interest… so here it is! Evening light was fading fast – we photographed this top, this top and these tops at the same time. I made them to wear with shorts, skirts and jeans so I just snapped them all at the same time, this is how I wear them – everyday casual wear.

Simplicity 1463, View A. Front View

Simplicity 1463, View A. Front View. Bit fuzzy – sorry!

I’ve made Simplicity View A – the least fancy – and I like it. It’s comfortable & easy to wear. I know… it’s a complete mimic of the pattern cover. I wanted a neutral top & this was ‘in the stash’. I do want to try View B in a deep blue DKNY lyocell I have waiting.

Simplicity 1463 - Pattern cover

Simplicity 1463 – Pattern cover

After the Simplicity 1589 top and the masses of ease, I decided to make the smallest size. While the fit of the top wasn’t too bad, I found the sleeves too snug. Fortunately my daughter Giselle loved it. It’s too big for her but she loves it anyway… she even wore it to Santa photos. That’s her wearing it on the right… I know lovely fabric (remanent bin find at Spotlight, rayon knit)

Giselle is on the right wearing Simplicity 1463

Giselle is on the right wearing Simplicity 1463.
Is that the smallest Santa in the history of Santas???

There’s not much to tell you…

SLEEVES

As mentioned above, I found the sleeves snug so be aware that if your fabric doesn’t have much stretch that may impact on ‘sleeve snugness’. The other thing that I have found just a little annoying is the sleeve sits in just around the nook of my elbow. So after I’ve been wearing it for several hours I get ‘wear creases’ in my elbow and they don’t drop out and it bothers me… I know that’s a bit OCD of me but the strangest things annoy me – perhaps that’s why I got a deportment badge at school?! I generally only dress sloppy when I drive long distances, my car isn’t very judgemental…

If you like stripe-matching…

Simplicity 1463, View A. Side view

Simplicity 1463, View A. Side view

My fabric is quite lightweight but does not stretch much so I found fitting the sleeves to the top slightly fiddly as my sleeves were difficult to stretch to fit the top. I just pinned/eased the pieces and with patience I got them in neatly. If your fabric is lightweight it makes it slightly more fiddly as the sleeves are sewn as a doubled over tube so there are three raw edges to think about when attaching the sleeves to the top. You might perhaps like to overlock the raw edges of the sleeves together before attaching them to the top. The good news is: no sleeve hems!

NECKBAND & HEMS

The neckband is two pieces. I attached this with the overlocker & used my Bernina to stitch around the neckline to hold the binding seam in place. I like the scoop in the neck, it’s enough but not too much.

I finished my hem with my coverstitch machine. I have a Janome CoverPro 1000 & I’m glad I have done several knit projects in a row as I’m becoming more confident with multiple uses.

Simplicity 1463, View A. Back View

Simplicity 1463, View A. Back view

It has a high-lo hem but it’s not exaggerated, it’s a gentle swoop rather than a massive leap from front hem to back hem. The front is also a generous length which I really like.

THOUGHTS?

Just mind the snug sleeves & due to the size of the top I would think it’s best sewn in a lighter weight knit but that could be just my preference. It’s rumored I’m into draped styles.

It’s loose fitting without drowning you and I think the length/hem shape is flattering.

Once you get used to sewing knits, tshirts are a fun project. I had not sewn many knits in my first couple of years of garment sewing. The Drape Drape books made me take a leap & challenge myself. I’m glad I did.

Fabric: a mystery knit from the Spotlight bargain table. $3 a metre.
Pattern: Simplicity 1463

 

IN THE WORKS…
I haven’t sewn in my sewing room since New Year. I’m back at work. Work is all consuming for a while & my brain feels like Swiss cheese at the end of the day. I suspect I’ll be a bit a preoccupied for a couple of months. I cancelled my 2.5 weeks holiday this January and therefore also the Tasmania holiday. That’s life, just means holidays later this year instead. So I’ll sew at night instead… I know, surprised?

Alabama Chanin: I’ve just hand sewn the funniest Alabama Chanin test tank with different seams, threads, stitches – so I could see what I like and what I needed to consider before leaping into hours and hours of hand work. It’s mistake ridden – which was the point of the exercise. I now know what works and doesn’t!
I’ve been fascinated by this for ages… and it was on my Wish List for Christmas and my sister-in-law gave it to me… so now I’m indulging myself with hand sewing, something I used to do a lot of. I’m loving it.

In the name of sewing... excuse the selfies, blue bra etc... I was excited

In the name of sewing… excuse the selfies, blue bra etc… I was excited late at night when I finished HAND sewing this. The armhole error has nothing to do with the stitch used – it’s to do with how I attached the binding. I also figured out my neckline problem.

Edith: I have a new addition to my sewing room, she’s a sweet little lady and you will meet her soon!

My latest little friend...

My latest little friend…

Ziggi: I have embarked on the epic Style Arc Ziggi Jacket. Wish me luck!

Style Arc Ziggi Jacket - 48 page PDF. No, it wasn't fun,

Style Arc Ziggi Jacket – 48 page PDF. No, it wasn’t fun.