About sewbusylizzy

Australian sewing blogger

Square Top (2 ways) from She Wears The Pants

In complete contrast to my Gathered Blouse with its multitude of construction details, today I have much simpler garment from She Wears The Pants. I thought this garment was an interesting comparison.

The Square Top

The Square Top

The Square Top

This is a linen knit from The Fabric Store in Brisbane, last piece on the roll, purchased when I was in Brissy in March. I loved the vivid colour (there is no such thing as too much blue in my opinion) and had always been curious about how linen knit would work as a garment. As soon as I saw the Square Top, I imagined it in a slightly more textured knit, linen knit seemed the perfect choice…

I had read a bit about mischievous behaviour of linen knit so did some research. Some sites recommend ‘dry clean only’, other sites suggested that this could be carefully washed at home. I have this personal philosophy that any fabric or garment must be subjected to my ‘my lifestyle test’. It’s a rather simple test: if it’s not going to survive my washing machine, it’s probably not going to survive my lifestyle. Fact. There are some exceptions to the rules, evening wear and hand-knitted garments – but most garments will only be in regular rotation if I can easily wash and wear them.

So I washed it in a lingerie bag in my machine, using a gentle cycle, wool wash etc. It shrank and distorted *sad face*. This was followed by a slight panic attack as linen knit is not cheap. Fortunately as it dried it on a rack, I gently coerced it back into shape and all seemed well. Then I didn’t have quite enough fabric… *horrified face* so some of the pieces, armbands and neckbands from memory, are not cut on a grain as directed, rather across it. Given the excessive ease in this top, I’m not losing sleep over it.

Square Top - back view

Square Top – back view. Due to the view of the rectangle bosy, it drapes into an uneven hemline. A nice change from the ‘high-low front-back’ shape

I didn’t interface the neckband and I really should have – the instructions tell you to. That’s a complete DOH! moment by me #idiot. I thought it might create too much structure in the neckband and I really wanted the top to ‘droop’. That’s been achieved but due to the weight of the fabric, the buttons were distorting the buttonholes at the shoulders so I’ve sewn across the neckband near the shoulders so the buttons are not bearing all the weight of the garment.

I haven’t cut the all buttonholes open along the neckline as I felt it would look messy.

Square Top from She Wears the Pants

Square Top, worn as a shrug, from She Wears the Pants. I’m just not this cool. Fact.

I rather like this top when you wear it as a shrug. I’m not a massive fan of how it’s worn in the book, the armbands look like you have lost two arms or suffered from a serious wardrobe malfunction while getting dressed.

Square top as a shrug

Square top as a shrug

To achieve this look, I simply left my arms in the armbands and pull the top back over my head. The lower band becomes the outer band of the shrug if that makes sense.

I’m thinking about cutting all the buttonholes as I would love to do them up so the back of the shrug has a neat row of buttons along the back – it’s a rather cool design feature. Then again the peekaboo back is also rather fun if you wear a contrast coloured tank underneath. I suspect I’m a button-up girl.

These photos were taken on a very windy morning and the photos were taken inbetween wind gusts. The back looks a little like a sail!

Square Top as a shrug - back

Square Top as a shrug – back

I find the name ‘Square Top’ rather amusing as the body shape is more of a ginormous rectangle. Maybe if I made it in yellow, I might look like droopy Sponge Bob Square Pants. As yellow isn’t really my colour, we will never know.

Square Top from She Wears the Pants

Square Top from She Wears the Pants: line art

Seriously, I can’t write much about a massive fabric rectangle with armholes and feature buttons. It’s a fun and easy-to-sew garment. It’s quirky and can be worn a few different ways. It’s fun. Chose your fabric wisely, I think too much slinkiness and could transform into a massive puddle of fabric with buttons weighing it down – too much structure and it becomes rather boxy.

What do you think? Too big?? Too funky?? Versatile??

Pattern: Square Top from She Wears The Pants, from Tuttle Publishing
Fabric: linen knit from The Fabric Store, Brisbane
Also see: Handmade by Carolyn | Top Notch

There’s a giveaway for this book on this post… along with a book review and the Gathered Blouse.

Side view - Square top, She Wears The Pants

Side view – I do like the button feature.

Note: Tuttle Publishing provided this book for preview purposes. All opinions my own. No affiliate links on this post.

‘She Wears the Pants’ a review, a blouse and a giveaway

I’m not a country girl… it really gets up Willy’s nose…

Gathered Blouse from She Wears the Pants

Gathered Blouse from She Wears the Pants

Given my current fascination with Japanese pattern books, when Tuttle Publishing contacted me about reviewing a couple of their titles, it was an irresistible offer. I received She Wears the Pants (released this month) and Sewing For Your Girls (I will review this soon – I have a backlog of projects!).

She Wears The Pants - published by Tuttle Publishing

THE BOOK

The garments: This book does have a range of garments – from mini dresses to tshirts, shirts and jackets, pants and culottes. Yes, I was incredibly tempted to make that draped mini dress but I’ve got three draped dresses – my wardrobe needs other types of garments! I really like the range and style of these garments.

Some of the garments from She Wears the Pants

Some of the garments from She Wears the Pants

This book had been around for some time before being translated. Several of the garments have been made Top Notch (velour top, draped cardigan, draped dress, square top) & Handmade by Carolyn (tapered trousers, square top); and Meggipeg (Gathered Blouse).

Not all of the garments pictured are patterns in the book, ie the tank with the short/culottes pictured above or the pants with the mustard top pictured below.

There is one knitted garment in this book – a belt stole. There are some tippets – one of these is pictured below.

She Wears the Pants - back cover

She Wears the Pants – back cover

There is an excellent review of this book and more images on Japanese Sewing Books.

Photography: I might be precious but I did find some of the photography a little bewildering. The images are very dark and this is exacerbated by the matt stock they are printed on. Some of the garment details are very hard to see in the photographs. It seems to me that these images are more about projecting a mood, intended as ‘fashion’ or ‘inspiration’. The construction section of the book has line drawings that provide the design details. I love line drawings.

She Wears the Pants - example diagram

She Wears the Pants – example diagram

Instructions: The instructions are brief. There are some general instructions. In some cases, such as sewing on a collar, it is outlined once in a projects and then other projects simply refer back to those earlier instructions. Having some knowledge of garment construction is helpful. Like many Japanese pattern books, diagrams form a large part of the instructions. I don’t mind this – I find it interesting to puzzle through a project and think about how the project has been constructed and the other approaches I could take.

Sizing: Japanese sizing is small. I fit into the Small category & Medium height. While Japanese sizing puts some off I would say that they often allow A LOT of ease, in some cases much more than you might expect. Csews wrote about it in this February blog post.  My second make from this book swims on me. It’s meant to but it could fit most sizes.

 
Title: I find the translation of this title odd. To me, ‘she wears the pants’ means something completely different to ‘she’s got mannish style’. To me ‘she wears the pants’ means that in a relationship the ‘she’ wearing the pants is in control, the dominant partner/personality or the boss of the relationship. To me, having ‘mannish style’ simply means a girl dressing in a ‘tomboy/masculine’ style. Handmade by Carolyn mentioned the translation of titles on her blog recently, in particular talking about this new title and her preference for the Japanese title. I don’t mind either way but I do interpret the new title as meaning something completely different to the original title. That said, it doesn’t impact on the contents of the book!

She Wears the Pants - pattern sheet

She Wears the Pants – pattern sheet

Pattern sheet: There are two double-sided pattern sheets. They are printed in a single colour and while the print is quite clear, the sheets are quite ‘busy’ and it took me quite a while to find one piece! Each sheet does have a list of the patterns on it, and the pattern pieces you are looking for – which is very helpful. Most of the pieces are listed around the edge of the pattern sheet with a line going from the text at the edge to the pattern piece… not always! There are some lurking in the middle of the pattern sheet swamp and you may need some patience to hunt them down.
When confronted by a busy pattern sheet, I find each piece and trace around it with my fingers. This might sound odd but when I am tracing a piece I have a general idea of the shape of the pattern piece and don’t make many mistakes.

Seam allowances: This book does not include seam allowances. The layout diagrams indicate how much allowance you should add as this can vary from the hem to the side seams etc. I don’t always add the recommended allowance, I tend to add what I prefer to work with in different areas of the garment – which just comes with experience.

Different approaches: I do think that with any translated book that you need to really think every step through. Not only may there be some issues with meaning and possibly conversion of measurements between metric and imperial, I think that there are many ways to approach garment construction and you need to be mindful of that when sewing outside your ‘usual’ patterns and books.

 

THE GATHERED BLOUSE

I love clothing that was a touch of quirkiness without being too odd. The Gathered Blouse ticked that box for me.

Gathered Blouse - while this is photographed buttoned up I prefer it slightly unbuttoned... that's how I wear all my shirts.

Gathered Blouse – while this is photographed buttoned up I prefer it slightly unbuttoned… that’s how I wear all my shirts.

Gathered Blouse – while this is photographed buttoned up I prefer it slightly unbuttoned… that’s how I wear all my shirts.

This blouse has a very full back, is quite cropped at the front with a slightly longer back. The collar is rounded and the front pockets are slightly angled. The shoulders are dropped and sleeves arejust below elbow (on me anyway), quite full with pleats at the cuff with a simple finished slit  and button cuff closure. The combination of a ‘mannish’ shirt with some soft feminine features was interesting to me. Funnily enough the detail the pattern is named for is not photographed in the book – the gathered back. Unfortunately my shirt got creased in the car – but you can see how full the back of the blouse really is.

Sorry - shirt and car seat was not a happy marriage and my back is creased.

Sorry – shirt and car seat was not a happy marriage and my back is creased.

I have always steered clear of patterns without seam allowances for shirts as the accuracy required for creating a good button band, collar band and collar scared me. As I was working with this pattern that had not seam allowances I decided to re-think my former shirt making techniques and took a different approach.

The back is very full and the hemline dropped.

The back is very full and the hemline dropped – strong breeze is blowing. Oops, thought I had ironed this to death but must have missed that last bit of hem!

I decided to use sew-in interfacing rather than fusible for the first time – which has given the collar some lovely structure and I’m quite taken with it now. I traced these pieces directly onto the sew-in interfacing – without the seam allowances. I then added the allowances as I cut out. I then used a fabric glue stick to attach the interfacing to the collar, band etc. This provided me with the exact sewing line and everything went together perfectly… I think I’m sold on this method!

I can't see myself every wearing it buttoned up, I always wear my blouses/shirts slightly unbuttoned. I just did this for the blog.

I can’t see myself ever wearing it buttoned up, I always wear my blouses/shirts slightly unbuttoned. I just did this for the blog picture. I know, I spoil you and make a goose of myself far too often.

For some reason I imagined this blouse in a chambray fabric with jeans – a bit of a take on the country girl that I’ve never been. I might have spent two years at boarding school in the country but I was a ‘fish out of water’. That’s a whole other story and not for here in the middle of a sewing blog :-)

 

BUT WAIT… THERE’S MORE…

I’ve made two things from this book – I’ll post the other shortly!

 

GIVEAWAY

I had already pre-ordered this book before Tuttle contacted me so I’m giving this one away. Leave a comment below to be included in the draw.

The draw closes on Sunday 17 May at 6pm (my time EST Sydney/Australia). Open to anyone, anywhere in the world.
Pattern: Gathered Blouse from She Wears The Pants (English version), published by Tuttle Publishing.

Fabric: it’s a mystery fabric (seems to be a chambery, fine linen type fabric) from The Make It Fabrics in Logan, Brisbane. This place is a rather unexpected treasure trove, a tip off from blogless Alison (thank you thank you!). Busy Lizzie was the most obliging chauffeur on a recent trip to Brissie – mwah. Finished with matt metal buttons from Lincraft.

Note: Tuttle Publishing provided this book for preview purposes. All opinions my own. No affiliate links on this post.

Sea Change Top (by the seaside): Lily Sage & Co

I’ll confess, I’ve quite a fan of Debbie of the Lily Sage & Co blog. Debbie is Australian (in Kansas) and she has a truly distinct style. I was intrigued when it became obvious she was in the throes of designing patterns. When she put out a call for pattern testers, I couldn’t resist.

And yes, the pattern name had this Aussie coastal sewing girl at ‘hello’.

SEA CHANGE FRONT 3

Debbie has designed the Sea Change top to be worn with high-waisted pants and skirts. From the pattern description: “The Sea Change top is loosely fitted, with wide kimono sleeves. The hem is designed to fall just below the natural waist for a modest, cropped look that will both complement and showcase high waist pants and skirts. The top length can easily be lengthened through the top. The armbands and bottom hem band can also be altered in length for different looks.”

I don’t think I have a single high-waisted skirt or pant in my casual wardrobe. :-)

My work wardrobe is all fitted sheath dresses (no top-bottom coordination and very little ironing required – excellent choice for a working mum) with just a couple of black high-waisted pencil skirts and shirts. My casual wardrobe is in the opposite direction!

My casual attire tends to be hipster jeans, skinny jeans, denim skirts, tshirts, shirts, shirt dresses and shorts. So was I going to wear a cropped top with my casual clothing? Well not by itself.

Sea Change Top 02, designed by Lily Sage & Co, side view

Sea Change Top 02, designed by Lily Sage & Co, side view

Confession: I hate my stomach. Really hate it. I know people say to wear your scars with pride… but I can’t, so I don’t. And if I don’t have to, why should I? Because others think I should? I’m ok but my overall shape, I wear enough body-con clothes to prove that… I just don’t like my stomach. Don’t try to rationalise this one with me, I’m allowed my irrational quirks. So I don’t often run the risk of flashing my stomach if I can avoid it.

You might think that means no crop tops… actually no. I’m a layering devotee which probably explains my love of draped clothes. So the Sea Change has the potential to fit nicely into my wardrobe.

SEA CHANGE BACK 2

Where I live it doesn’t get very cold, so this top could easily be paired with a fitted long-sleeved tshirt with jeans on a colder day, or a tank on warmer days. I do love wearing very loose tops, I feel relaxed in them.

Construction

I sewed this in a rather ‘un-me’ patterned knit – however I love the colours in this. Blue and green – who said they would never be seen without a colour in between?… ah yes, some of the ‘well dressed’ conservative people I grew up and went to school with. More on that in a future post…

As far as sewing knits goes, this is an easy sew. I used my machine to baste the hem and sleeve band edges together before attaching to the top with my overlocker/serger.

The sleeve and hem band fabric was a fairly slippery black knit (from the stash) which wasn’t a lot of fun to work. Basting the edges together before attaching them to the main body, as per Debbie’s instructions, helped tremendously.

The front and the back pieces are very similar… which may be why I managed to sew the neckband on backwards! I had marked the back piece (I always put two pins through my back pieces) but still managed to stuff up. I had overlocked the neckband seam but made myself unpick it and reattach it. I always find the thought of unpicking an overlocked/serged seam is worse than the reality of doing it. It takes a little longer but it’s not as bad as some other unpicking I have completed lately!

Cutting

If you have directional fabric – be mindful that you need to flip either your front or back  pattern piece over as the pattern layout as the front going one way and the back the other way on the fold. If you have printed this at home or at the copy shop it’s on bond paper so you can’t see through the paper. In this case I mark the notches on the wrong side of the pattern piece so I don’t forget to cut the notches.

Edited: the pattern and instructions have been updated to reflect this comment.

The Sleeves
I suspect there will be some fearing the peekaboo armhole incident. Yes, the sleeves are enormous and low – however they are so enormous that the fabric tends to foil most peeking opportunities. As I always wear a tank under billowy or tops, it’s not a drama for me. If people get their jollies looking that my tank top, they can knock themselves out for all I care.

Sea Change top 02 designed by Lily Sage & Co, sewn by Sew Busy Lizzy

Sea Change armholes

The Length

I’m on the shorter side of average, I’m 5 foot 4 or just over 1.6 metres tall. I am quite long through the waist – for me this is a short top.

You can lengthen the top or sleeves by increasing the depth of the hem and sleeve bands. I’d only increase the hem band to the same depth of the sleeve bands but that’s just me. I think the volume/width of the body is balanced by the cropped length.

Thoughts?

People will love this top… or not… I like that as it’s quite different in style and shape to many of the other PDF tops available. Kimino style jackets and tops are quite popular at the moment and this is rather ‘now’. I think it’s a reflection of Debbie’s rather unique style. It’s ‘not another tshirt’ and it looks great on different body types.

I confess I didn’t expect to like as I was sewing it up, I was thinking ‘this will swamp me’… but I like it and enjoy wearing it. I wore it most of the day after these photos (took four garment photos this day including my Morris Double Take) – just getting changed when my friends arrived for dinner that night as I rather stank of butter chicken after a long afternoon in the kitchen!

This top is designed to be made in a knit or woven. It does use quite a bit of fabric due to the width of the top, between 170cm and 190cm.

I think this top looks very cool in a striped fabric… check out some the links below for that!

There looks to be two more patterns in the Lily Sage & Co workshop. It will be interesting to see what happens next!

PATTERN
Lily Sage & Co
Sea Change Top – I made XS.

FABRIC
M
ain body: knit of mystery composition from Dancing Fabrics in Port Macquarie.
Contrast bands: mystery knit from my stash aka The Fabric Swamp.

Pendant
Elk – a gift from a friend. I haven’t seen this piece online but their range and design aesthetic is lovely – you have been warned.

ALSO SEE
The Somnolent DachshundThornberry | Hannah Jane Fellows | Handmade by Carolyn | Miss Castelinhos (love the striped version!) | Grosgrain Green

Debbie supplied the Sea Change Top pattern to test and then resent the amended pattern after testing. All printing costs, opinions & fabric my own.

I will be back soon – I have three blogs posts waiting for you! Perhaps they include a giveaway… or two…

Thank you also for all your lovely comments lately. I’ve been a little swamped by life but I am finding time when I can to reply to all the comments and emails. Thank you!

A double take… Morris Blazer Grainline Studio

Morris was one of those patterns which just seemed to be a guaranteed hit before it was even released. Everyone was talking about it. Instagram and Twitter went a bit barmy on its release. It seems everyone is now madly printing and sewing it. I anticipate our blog feeds will be brimful with blazers! These blazers (yes I made two) are huge queue jumpers. I’ve been working on a vintage muslin and have four other projects in the blog queue. I just wanted to make Morris… so I did!

Morris Blazers

Morris Blazers

The Morris Blazer is the latest release from Grainline Studios. I will admit before I even write anything about Morris that I am a huge Grainline fan. I haven’t made all her patterns but I have made the Maritime Shorts (x 3), Moss Mini (x1), Archer (x1), Hemlock (x1) and Alder (x 3). The Morris Blazer is described by Jen as “The Morris Blazer is the perfect mix of casual and cool. It will quickly become the go-to garment to complete any outfit. With a mixture of drape and structure, bracelet length sleeves, and gentle shawl collar, it looks great dressed up or down. It works up well in fabrics with stretch, making it comfortable on top of everything else!” It’s rated as an advanced beginner and I would agree with that. I made two of these in two days (OK, one evening and one day). Probably the trickiest thing is putting in the shawl collar but it’s not that difficult. Techniques include:  sewing a straight seam, setting sleeves, sewing a shawl collar, facings, and topstitching. I made my first Morris in one of the suggested fabrics: a medium weight ponti style fabric. I have no real idea exactly what is it – it’s been maturing in my stash for about three years. I found it on the Spotlight bargain table for the princely sum of $5 a metre. Anyway, shut up Lizzy and show us some pictures… OK.

Morris Blazer by Grainline Studios

Morris Blazer: Excuse the ‘resting bitch face’. Had zero sleep the night before due to 12-year-old molars! Complete bummer as she never teethed badly as a baby!

Morris Blazer, pattern by Grainline Studios

Side view – sorry that dratted cloud in the background suddenly slid across the sun and we were done for the day. Boo!

The edges of the jacket at the lower front don’t seem to sit quite as smoothly as I would like. The jacket has a front facing, which rolls over to become the shawl collar. I think the texture of the medium weight knit tends to catch against each other or perhaps the body of the interfaced knit is not playing nice with the non-interfaced jacket front – if that makes sense. I’ve been wondering two things… if I lightly interfaced just the front section (where the front facing is) of the front pattern piece if this might alleviate this issue. I wouldn’t interface the entire front of the jacket – just the front portion. The knit properties are very comfortable and I would want to retain that quality. Would the front then have the same structure as the front facing piece and be less likely to collapse against the facing thus creating a smoother jacket front?? I have no idea – but I’m interested to find out. While it’s made from a stretch cotton, my Papercut Patterns Bellatrix blazer has the front facing and front pieces lined… just food for thought. Jen has made a hefty number of these blazers so I’m sure she will have some strong opinions about that! I’m all ears! The only step I got a little confused was Step 15. Most likely because I was tired. Earlier in the process you join the two facing pieces at the back neck. You then fold over the inner edge of the front facing pieces by 1/2in to the wrong side. You join the back and front hem facings and turn their upper edge under by 1/2in. Then you join the facing pieces to the front facing pieces.

Step 15 - Grainline Morris Blazer

Step 15 – Grainline Morris Blazer

This is where I go confused – Step 15. If you are purely a diagram person then you might not get confused – however it wasn’t clear to me that I had to fold the folded inner edge of the front facing back out before I attached the hem facing pieces to the front facing piece. You need to unfold the front facing edge before joining the pieces. Yes, the diagram does say ‘foldline’ but I managed to get confused anyway. I read the words and cross check the diagrams and they didn’t quite click for me. I’m not sure if this is any clearer but I think it better matches the diagram and desired outcome. Step 15: With the right sides together and raw edges aligned, line up the bottom edge of the front hem facing with the bottom edge of the front facing. Stitch the two together starting at the hem edge and stopping at the point where the 1/2″ front hem seam allowance is folded under. Press seam open.” Fortunately it’s about 3 inches of unpicking to rectify. Not a big drama. Maybe it should also say “Unfold the front facing edge. Then with  rights sides together… etc With my curiosity sated about this new much-anticipated pattern, I got thinking and wanted to make another straight away! A LINEN MORRIS

Grainline Studio Morris Blazer - front view

Morris Blazer – front view

Then I just couldn’t get a Morris linen idea out of my head… so I made it despite the fabric not being a stretch. It’s a rayon linen blend with a tiny bit of give. I really should have perhaps sized up or altered the pattern… or been sensible and chosen a jacket pattern designed for non-stretch wovens. Since I’m not altering guru (at all!), I decided to make it, rather than seconding guessing what would happen and trying to counteract it. I’m one of those idiots who learn best by making mistakes and analysing them. This is why I have a fabric stash – to enable excessive amounts of sewing, my imagination and sometimes my idiocy. I decided to underline the back and front pieces with very light white cotton voile. I was concerned about the soft drape of the linen. I choose a very light fusible interfacing for the front/back/sleeve facings and front facing pieces. Interestingly the jacket front doesn’t seem to have the same tension issue around the lower hemline. Whether it this is because the front and facings have the same body due to the interfacing and underlining – or whether it’s just because it’s a woven rather a knit? I’m looking forward to seeing all the other makes.

Morris Blazer - in linen

Morris Blazer in linen – back/side view. Should have rolled that collar over more, should have pulled my top down, should have worn a belt… Oh for a blog stylist. LOL

Overall the jacket sits very nicely and went together without any hiccups. As it is a casual jacket, without shoulder pads interfacing around the upper jacket shoulders etc it does fold slightly as it sits – but I wasn’t after a structured blazer so I don’t mind those features. In fact I’ve always wanted a linen jacket, I love the soft creases they get in the elbows and the gentle worn look they have. I find it very distracting to talk to people wearing linen jackets, or men in great dress shirts (I have a fascination with shirtmaking at the moment), as I have an urge to turn over their button plackets and feel the quality of the fabric. Sorry, I digress.

Morris Blazer

I’m a fiddler. Is it just me – it doesn’t how much you press – you always miss a tiny bit?

While it’s a neat fit, it is comfortable and will definitely be worn. I rather like it. It’s important to note, I don’t have broad shoulders and I couldn’t swing a golf club in this. Fortunately my golfing is limited to living within walking distance of two golf clubs and playing hydro golf with the kids… which I’m not bad at and don’t wear linen jackets to at any rate. All credit to Busy Lizzie who suggested the navy trim when I was pondering the lapel – whether to make it contrast or piped or who knows! A very indecisive morning! It’s just a navy bias binding, sewing to one side and hand stitched down. Thoughts about Morris

  • A fast  and easy jacket pattern – some sewing experience is needed or wait for the sewalong.
  • The instructions are excellent (except for possibly Step 15, although it could just be me! I read this Morris  blog post by Saturday Night Stitch and wondered if it was the same step that tripped me up.
  • Fabric choice is important.
  • The sleeves are short. I like this feature as I tend to roll up my sleeves – or shove them up my arms in the most untidy fashion.

Note: I would not recommend making this jacket in linen or a non-woven. It’s not designed for it and I respect for Jen’s knowledge and pattern drafting skills (I just like experimenting). The linen jacket works for me – but perhaps not for everyone.

Pattern: Grainline Studios, Morris Blazer. PDF purchased.
Fabric: First version: medium weight ponti style knit and a  linen rayon blend from Lincraft (purchased at a 50% off sale). All purchased by me.
Size made: 0 (my measurements: 32 bust and 25 waist)
Construction: Sewing machine and seams neatened on the serger/overlocker.

Also see: Crafting a Rainbow | Saturday Night Stitch

WordPress editing mode is impossibly slow tonight – I can’t write any more as it takes several minutes for a line to appear. No more words possible.

Vintage custodian? Or weakness?

I’ve been sewing quite a lot lately. I’ve got at least three projects waiting in the wings.

Opportunities for taking photos has been limited and, to be honest, I’m tired. I hate photos when I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. So I’m resting (ok, being lazy) and quietly sewing – I’ll be back shortly.

I’m in Tamworth at the moment with my girls. I’m typing this post on my iPhone as I feel compelled to write tonight.

Today we hit my favourite vintage/op shop – and it was a treasure trove.

I found some beautiful silk, 5 metres for just $6. I feel a decadent kimono or some loungewear coming on… 

 

The real joy for me was finding a collection of vintage sewing patterns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and this beauty, a damaged but magnificent Vogue Courtier 208.   

I believe that most, if not all, came from the stash of a lady called Mrs Williams. The collection was considerable, predominantly women’s dresses with a bust size of 34-36 inches.

It’s silly but I love knowing who vintage patterns belonged to. It makes me feel very attached to them. I’ve been gifted many patterns, including a number from Busy Lizzie , Suzy Bee Sews and a work friend who gave me her mother’s patterns from the 1940-50s. I treasure them all.

I grew up surrounded by lovely furniture that came from mainly my mother & grandmother’s home. I studied at my grandmother’s desk, I slept in a cedar bed made for my mother, I sat on a settee from my grandmother’s home. 

Now I sit in my great grandfather’s chair every morning as I drink my coffee.

My mum & dad often told stories about our furniture and other pieces in the house. I loved that these things that belonged to my family and the people that came before me. I felt connected. I grew up with a sense that everything was imbued with people’s lives and their stories.

I know it’s completely corny but there is part of me that feels a strong sense of sadness when I stumble across someone’s sewing collection tucked away in a corner of an op shop.

It’s not the possible monetary value that motivates me to take them home. It’s not huge and I’ve never been able to make myself to sell any I’ve purchased at op shops and garage sales. I have gifted a few of my finds to other passionate sewing friends. I’ve never parted with a vintage pattern that’s been gifted to me. I feel like a custodian. I know. Silly but that’s just how I feel about them. Perhaps I’m a curator at heart.

I gather them up and take them home for other, perhaps irrational, reasons. It’s that someone didn’t see that these weren’t just patterns. They didn’t see or understand their real value. These were very much part of who Mrs Williams was and her life. As much as her jewellery or favourite chair might have been. Perhaps I’m wrong but the extent of this collection and the nature of it spoke volumes to me.

Sewing was clearly a passionate hobby, something that filled her life with joy, creativity and satisfaction.

And that’s something beyond measure. Something to be celebrated and treasured.

So Mrs Williams, wherever you are, your hobby lives on.

Do you collect vintage sewing notions? And if so, what motivates you?

Seaside Spring Sewaway?

Winter hasn’t started and I’m thinking about spring. I live in denial of winter. I think if I ignore it, it will simply go away. Unsurprisingly it does… after three long months.

Last night I had dinner with Helen Funkbunny and Lee-anne, one of my sewing friends I’ve met through Instagram. I’m always amazed and grateful for the many fabulous and wonderful people I’ve met through sewing and blogging.

In the last 18 months I’ve ploughed through 25,000kms in my car. Fortunately I enjoy driving! During my many travels for work/family/sewing/social reasons, lots of people have expressed an interest in coming to my hometown. So I’m calling your bluff.

A sewing dinner. OK, there was no sewing but lots of talking about sewing!

A sewing dinner. OK, there was no sewing but lots of talking about sewing! I missed the memo about stripes.

I’ve done some initial investigations. I’ll provide a room for you to come and sew in spring (excessive amounts of chatting & laughter is also welcome). I guess it’s a little Seaside Spring Sewaway – just for fun. You can sew as much as you like. Or sew less & visit our beautiful beaches, enjoy the sunshine (touch wood) and have a nice meal or two. It’s up to you.

Port Macquarie is a popular holiday destination & we have quite a lot of big events throughout the year as well… which means there are some weekends when the town is extremely busy and that means finding accommodation or somewhere to eat can be challenging.

My last two weeks of September is taken up with one of my daughter’s (rather obsessive) dancing commitments.

I’ve been checking the calendar and the best options are

  • the long weekend at the beginning of October (3-4)
  • the second weekend (10-11)
  • the fourth weekend (24-25) or
  • fifth weekend (31 Oct – 1 Nov).

The third October weekend is out as that’s a Half Ironman weekend – the town is packed with crazy Lycra-clad people.

From November until late January my work life & end-of-year kids’ activities are in overdrive. Plus it’s peak summer holiday season here – our town population explodes & it’s not as relaxing as a ‘normal’ weekend.

Just let me know which weekends work best for you. Unfortunately I know October might not suit anyone but I probably won’t have another opportunity until this time next year or even later.

I know it’s not the most convenient location but it is beautiful (well to me anyway and I’m happy to share it with you). Port Macquarie is four hours drive from Sydney, six & a half hours from Brisbane – or about a hour flight from either.

Nominate a weekend/s below or drop me an email – you can find that on my ‘About Me’ page.

somewhere to sew?

somewhere to sew?

 

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?