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

Top 5 Hits – 2014 (or perhaps 4)

Before we even start this Top 5 blogging journey, I’d just like to say that I might not always blog ‘five’ things. It’s not that I can’t count, it’s just that I’d rather pick one thing, four things or maybe eight things or more… it’s just what feels right.

I enjoy these posts – for me. So skip over it or read on if you like. I find it interesting to sit back and think about the year just gone. Whether it’s sewing or life in general, it’s good to think about what worked, what didn’t and ‘where to next’.

TOP 5 HITS

Today I’m blogging my Top 5 Hits. The makes I’ve worn the most and feel most ‘like me’. It’s easy to get caught up in a trend but more and more I simply sew the things that appeal to me and my sense of style (or perhaps lack thereof!).

Drape Drape

My mother-in-law gave me Drape Drape book last Christmas – and I immediately ordered Drape Drape 2 & 3. These books really changed my sewing approach and ricocheted me off into a completely different style zone – where I’ve never felt more comfortable. They finally provided me with some options that were really what I wanted to create and wear. Some of the makes were perhaps a little crazy but I’ve found these patterns fascinating. Drape Drape posts are here…

As recently blogged, the draped singlet dress from Drape Drape 2 has been the runaway winner in this year’s sewing. This little make is simply a misshapen singlet/tank dress. It’s incredibly easy to make and takes just 1.1m of fabric. When I’ve worn them people want to know ‘who the designer is’ – that gives me particular delight with my red/white/blue one which cost me just $6 in fabric.  

No 2. from Drape Drape 2. Without the drapes in view, it is a very simple singlet dress.

Excuse the stupid pose. blowing a gale and the camera went flat. No 2. from Drape Drape 2. Without the drapes in view, it is a very simple singlet dress. This is perhaps my favourite. I love the lyocell DKNY fabric and the vibrant colours.

No 2. from Drape Drape 2. Side view - with the drapes.

Side view – with the drapes.

Vogue 8780 – the Ugly Duckling

Despite the incredibly uninspiring pattern artwork or even more ‘blah’ Vogue photography, this cardigan is one of my most loved & versatile pieces. It’s made from a very fine merino knit from The Fabric Store in Sydney – plucked from the remanent bin for just $19.

It’s lovely with dresses & jeans. I wear it at work as much as I wear it casually. It’s got lovely drape at the front, a flared hem and it’s fitted across the back. I will make a size smaller next time (this is a small) as the sleeves are quite roomy – but I don’t mind, I love wearing it as it is. To me, this is the perfect cardigan (or whatever you call this!).

All I can say is, you need this in your pattern stash, buy it before it becomes OOP.

Vogue 8780

Sorry can’t see much of the ‘make’ but I love all the natural tones in this shot.

Vogue 8780 - so versatile

Vogue 8780 – so versatile. That’s in the work lift… it has rather a lot of mirrors. Helpful for selfies! I didn’t make the pink dress, it’s an old Metallicus which I had bagged for the op shop – then I thought would lovely it would look with this cardigan. So glad I saved it!

Vogue 1250 & Maria Denmark Day-Night Dress

I’ve made five of these dresses, my most beloved is the Sew Dolly Clackett dress which I’ve worn to work many times. It’s a versatile, comfortable, fun & flattering dress. I’ve been surprised by how much people admire this given the somewhat ‘unusual’ print – it’s not for the faint-hearted! I love the quirkiness and the fact it’s a different colour palette to what I would usually wear.

I love this picture - not because it's a great one of me - but that 'window' in the print looks like a peephole into my soul... or belly button LOL

I love this picture – not because it’s a great one of me – but that ‘window’ in the print looks like a peephole into my soul… or belly button LOL

Grainline Alder Shirtdress

A very recent sewing hit. I’ve worn this a lot!. It’s easy to wear & I’m quite proud of my collar, placket & overall finish. I think I’m also emotionally attached to it as it was sewn on a happy, stress-free day – something I relished after some long, tough months.

I’ve got another Alder to share in the next few days!

Alder, view A - back view. I sense this will be worn A LOT this summer.

Alder, view A – back view. I sense this will be worn A LOT this summer.

CONCLUSION

There you have it. One indie (Grainline). One Vogue. One Vogue & indie (Maria Denmark) hybrid. One Japanese pattern book.

I love slightly fitted, draped clothes. I adore casual wear and love nothing more than an outfit that I can wear barefoot or with heels. It suits my lifestyle. I work fulltime (so corporate office wear five days a week) and when I’m not at work I like to relax – mentally and physically. We really do go to a quiet beach almost every weekend with the dog and spend plenty of time outside the house.

I’ve loved plenty of other things I’ve made, including my By Hand London Hollys or the dress Holly hack which were fun to make & joyous to wear (and I love that bodice). However for my everyday wear, these four makes/patterns are the ones I reach for the most often – clothes that feel most like ‘me’.

I often sew simply to experiment and challenge myself. I’ve always said I’m not always a practical blogger. I make things that are buzzing around in my head or make me happy (or I try to). My sewing room has many resident squirrels to distract me and one drunk monkey who wrecks havoc on my hems, buttonholes and topstitching when I’m too tired to fight him off.  However on my favourite sewing days, I’m making something I have envisaged and desperately want to wear – and it comes off the sewing machine like magic. Those are the great days.

Top 5 of 2014

Top 5 of 2014

The Coat of Many Bloggers – Eagle by Vanessa Pouzet

This fabric haunted me. I saw it on the Mood Fabrics website and just needed it in my life and wardrobe so decided to select it for one of my Mood Sewing Network makes.

And then of course I couldn’t decide what to make. This is typical Sew Busy Lizzy style. Buy a fabric and then spend HOURS picking a pattern… and unpicking a pattern… and picking a pattern… and unpicking a pattern… you get the idea… I get so sick of my indecisiveness. I guess that’s my creative process and I just have to live with it. This jacket was the nearlyMcCalls-nearlyBurda-nearlyVogue-and-finallyVanessaPouzet project!

My Mood Fabrics Make that I've nicknamed the Coat of Many Bloggers - in honour of the amazing community of people that searched for the pattern, encouraged me and helped me translate the pattern!

My Mood Fabric Make that I’ve nicknamed the Coat of Many Bloggers – in honour of the amazing community of people that searched for the pattern, encouraged me and helped me translate the pattern!

I loved this Italian Carolina Herrera Plaid Suiting from Mood Fabrics NY as soon as I saw it. I’m a complete sucker for anything blue. I adored how the weave of this plaid produces almost a holographic look and graduates softly between black/white/blue. It’s not a harsh plaid with solid lines.

I had originally thought to sew McCalls 6442 (which I have always loved and had stashed for ages) however it just didn’t feel right for this fabric.

Italian Carolina Herrera Black/White/Blended Blue Plaid Suiting from Mood Fabrics

Italian Carolina Herrera Black/White/Blended Blue Plaid Suiting from Mood Fabrics

I had wanted to sew a more traditional coat but keep coming back to the idea of a waterfall/draped long-line loose jacket. I’ve always found it best to go with the heart when you sew. If you look at a fabric and immediately envisage it made up as a certain item of clothing… then go with that.

Strangely I like plaids, checks and ginghams if they are slightly messed up when sewn up. I like the juxtaposition of the orderly fabric pattern set with a design which throws out the regularity of the fabric print/weave. Others are the master of stripe and pattern matching such as Lauren aka The Mistress of Plaid who makes the most amazing things.

My Hot Mess Dress of 2013 is one of my favourite makes so  I decided to find my ideal Messy Plaid Jacket pattern.

My jacket crush, the fabric and Burda Style 10-2012 #103. Perfect pattern match but horrid on me

My jacket crush, the fabric and Burda Style 10-2012 #103. Perfect pattern match but horrid on me

Then I stumbled across an image on Pinterest – I know that fabric… tweeted about the perfect coat and where could I find the pattern? Orange Lingerie suggested Burda 10-2012 #103 which I had in my stash – which is indeed the nearly perfect match…

So I made a super rough muslin, BurdaStyle patterns with their lack of seam allowance and somewhat wacky instructions always make me nervous… and while the coat fitted – the collar absolutely dwarfed me. Sorry no picture as I was ‘home alone’, the dog turned it into a sleeping mat for a week – and it rather grossed me out to put it back on after that!

So I decided to make another muslin (this never happens) of my favourite draped jacket/cardigan pattern, Vogue 8780 – and this definitely did not work in a woven – the arms were uncomfortable…

I tweeted along the ‘woe is me’ lines about the lack of draped patterns for woven fabrics..

Then a miracle happened.

  • The Perfect Nose tweeted a new jacket pattern called Eagle from Vanessa Pouzet – who I had never heard of…
  • Vicki Kate Makes saw the design, thought it was just what I’d been looking for and tweeted me (thank you VK!)…
  • I broke out into joyous celebration – the pattern was found… I tweeted and Stephanie of Love Teach Sew also purchased it. She has translated and made up the jacket – just not finished yet. She was enormously helpful in providing some assistance in understanding the pattern – not to mention encouragement – which I badly needed as I felt quite daunted by the project. Thank you so much Stephanie!

This pattern is in French, it has diagrams but they don’t convey the full construction process – and no I can’t speak French. Never mind I thought… there’s always Google Translate! Unfortunately I seriously think some Googlebot-thingie was doing a mechanical giggle as it translated for me as I just got more confused!

CONSTRUCTION

The construction is slightly unusual. I haven’t sewn too many jackets but I have never sewn a lined jacket with this order of construction.

  1. You sew lining and shell back pieces together along the hemline (leaving a gap for turning).
  2. You attach the shoulder pieces to the front shell and lining pieces.
  3. You sew the front shell and lining together along the front and hem seam. You turn them right side out.
  4. You then attach the back to the fronts along the side seams – overlapping the back hem (hard to explain but it makes sense as you sew it – you just need some blind faith) as the back is longer than the front until this point – you stop before the armhole.
  5. You sew the shoulder seams.
  6. You sew the neckline
  7. You then attach the sleeves to the lining and then the shell. Yes I’m serious.
  8. You then machine the sleeve hems. I personally love machining my jacket sleeves hems. It’s a bit of a brain buster the first time you do it – but it is worth learning.
  9.  Turn right side out – and sew up the lower jacket hem.

Sorry, I’m writing from memory so I will amend the above construction order if I find it to be wrong when I find the pattern in my sewing room (my work life is at its annual peak right now so time is scarce) – however in essence this isn’t your ‘usual’ jacket construction – well not that’s I’ve experienced.

If you are nervous about plaids and all that pattern matching. Don’t be. Look for simple patterns or patterns where you can play with the plaid rather than be hemmed in by its rigid nature.

Italian Carolina Herrera Black/White/Blended Blue Plaid Suiting from Mood Fabrics.  Vanessa Pouzet Eagle pattern. Sewn by Sew Busy Lizzy

The Eagle Jacket – side view. When you move the fabric seems to play tricks on your eyes. It’s quite unusual. And my legs are doing some weird pigeon-toed spin for your entertainment – you’re welcome…

CUTTING OUT

While this pattern may be draped, there was still some plaid matching to be done. To match the plaid I decided to cut the pieces out flat. So I created a full pattern piece for the back and two of the front piece so I could lay them flat and double check that all the plaid would intersect correctly at the side and front seams. I know you can pin your fabric, matching the plaids and cut on the fold… I just prefer this way…

And a confession… I often use a sharpie to trace around my patterns if I know that they excess fabric will be trimmed off. With a bond paper PDF it is so much easier than trying to pin it to the fabric. There – I’ve said it.

To match the sleeves, I cut these out last – after I had constructed the body of the jacket. I often work that way with pattern matching if I know I have plenty of fabric to play with – I cut out a piece at a time as I sew. I put the sleeveless jacket on my dressmaking form, held the paper pattern pieces up to the armhole and marked where the black plaids on the armhole were meeting the sleeve and marked this on the pattern piece. I then laid the marked pattern pieces on the fabric, matching up the plaid and the pattern marks and then cut out the sleeves. Due to the leather shoulder pieces it was impossible to match the back and the front. So I elected the match the front piece and front sleeve.

The shoulders are leather – cut from a piece gifted to me by my lovely friend Susan of Measure Twice, Cut Once from her stash. The shoulders also mean that there are a few less seams to pattern match. You can focus on matching the side seams and the fronts.

This fabric has enough drape to fall into a single fold when left unbelted.

This fabric has enough drape to fall into a single fold when left unbelted.

I think the full flare of this coat unbelted, it’s massive and swingy – perhaps swamping me a little but I love coats and tops that billow about. There is something fun and dramatic as they swing around your legs and body as you walk, especially if you walk as fast as I do!.

Wearing it unbelted, the jacket fronts hang with a single fold, when I belted it I folded them back to get a ‘plaid origami’ look. I also love how it transforms from a freeform coat into quite a soft feminine shape with a belt.

I can't help myself - I always push up my sleeves unless it is bitterly cold.

I can’t help myself – I always push up my sleeves unless it is bitterly cold.

I must say, this jacket isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But it’s mine (always black tea with two for me). The patterns isn’t particularly difficult… once you figure it out. Clearly I battled with my language limitations but it was a fun challenge.

And now I have a big snuggly jacket for my January holiday – yes January is still my summer but we will be in alpine Tasmania for a week which can be hot – or sometimes throwing down a bit of snow at that time of the year.

Fabric: Italian Carolina Herrera Black/White/Blended Blue Plaid Suiting
Pattern: Eagle by Vanessa Pouzet (French, untranslated)

I’ve just got to say – this jacket epitomises the reasons why I love sewing and blogging. Lots of people helped and encouraged me. It was like being wrapped up in a big warm sewing hug when you ask for help. Corny but true. Thank you!

 

I went to Frocktails in Brisbane last weekend, I combined it with a work trip… I think I squashed in too many work appointments and took too much work with me – oh well, tax deductible travel I guess! So many lovely people… while this photo wasn’t taken at Frocktails it’s one of my favourite pictures of the weekend… this is me and my lovely sewing friend Busy Lizzie (I think it’s fate we launched our blogs within days of each other with the similar names – what are the chances?) who is so supportive in some many ways and has become a great friend. Mwah, you are a treasure!

Busy Lizzy and Busy Lizzie

Busy Lizzy and Busy Lizzie (I’m in an unblogged red/white/blue variegated stripe Drape Drape dress and Lizzie in her Miz Mozelle dress)

This was taken at the lovely Marjorie Sews’ home – not only did she cook a cracking dinner but she also let us play with her hat collection… yes people she made these. Check Marjorie out on Instagram – so very very clever and an absolute sweetheart… and I do want to buy that red/white/blue hat one day Marjorie!

If you are in Brisbane sometime before 15 February 2015 then you must check out Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion. I went and saw this with Lizzie and Marjorie. Loved it – thought it was fascinating. And I really do want to see Undressed: 30 Years of Underwear in Fashion and Costumes from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Why are there always too many things I want to see?! And then there is The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk in Melbourne… argh!

Not such an ugly duckling… Vogue 8780

I love those ‘makes’ that seem like a crazy idea but just sing to you when you put them on…

Vogue 8780 - an easy layering piece

Vogue 8780 – an easy layering piece

This is Vogue 8780 – which I’m guessing many have skipped over in the catalogue because it doesn’t exactly scream ‘sew me’… well to me it’s a bit of an ugly duckling (jacket not model)… why did I pick it? I wanted a long draped cardigan/jacket layering piece and this had potential…

Vogue 8780

Vogue 8780 – the catalogue edition. I totally get some will love this but the high-low emphasis and colour is just not ‘me’. And drawstring pants? I’m out.

Yes it doesn’t have the shape of my McCalls 6844. It doesn’t have the cute peplum. I’ve deliberately sewn it in something with much more drape than pictured or suggested. It’s not a vivid colour…

Vogue 8780 - back view. A more softer flared shape than the deliberate peplum of McCalls 6844

Vogue 8780 – back view. A more softer flared shape than the deliberate peplum of McCalls 6844

I don’t care, I love it. I love its lack of deliberate shape and gentle soft flare. I love its neutral tones…

Vogue 8780. Soft gentle colours...

Vogue 8780. Soft gentle colours…

It’s quiet and easy. I could own a million of these… and it’s very easy to make…

Perhaps the only issue I have is a raw seam is visible where the collar rolls over (which you can just see in the back view image above). If I made this in another lightweight knit (I desperately want another in merino but will have to wait for my next city trip which should be soon), I would probably French seam the collar – it’s a short seam and would improve the finish. A French seam would clearly would not work with a heavier fabric which is why it’s not suggested. With my long hair, it is not a big deal but I do notice it (#OCD).

I made this ‘small’ as I didn’t want such a lightweight knit clinging to my arms. The sleeves are slightly too big… but I don’t really mind. I tend to shove my sleeves up, I’ve just pulled them down for the pictures. The fabric is so light it would look odd too fitted I think. I made the shorter version. I didn’t want to morph into Casper The Friendly Ghost… Although he’s kinda cute…

The only things I did differently was 1) use an overlocker for everything and 2) the hem on the neckline and sleeves. I simply didn’t hem them. I took my queue from one of my favourite RTW brands Metalicus – which often finishes its lighter pieces with a very simple overlock rolled hem. I also finished the hemline with a rolled stitch. I just dislike raw edges on my clothes. I know – I can be a bit precious.

no 'hems'. I dislike 'raw edges' so I finished the edges with a rolled hem on the overlocker

no ‘hems’. I dislike ‘raw edges’ so I finished the edges with a rolled hem on the overlocker

This merino was so light that I felt a hem would look clunky and stop the fabric from floating and settling around me. It’s rather wispy and cloudlike. I love that.

Vogue 8780

Sorry can’t see much of the ‘make’ but I love the stillness and natural tones in this shot.

I’ve paired it with a latte-coloured lace singlet. I don’t often wear such muted colourways but I think I’m falling in love. I’d love to wear this barefoot with a silk bias-cut slip dress in a soft floral print… that would be so pretty…

This is one of my favourite places. It’s right in town, a tiny secluded beach nook which is always sheltered and calm. I feel peaceful here.

One of my favourite places...

One of my favourite places…

I have a type of anaemia, it slays me some days – it’s a mystery what causes it and I no longer really care. The treatment manages it well enough. I suggested marking my medical file with #notbuilttolast or if that was too harsh #special would be fine. I suspect it makes me more susceptible to the cold which I am really struggling with this year. And also more vulnerable than I like to be – I don’t deal with that well… at all…

Fatigue can be insidious, it just quietly slides up, wraps its arms around you, steals your breath away and whispers in your ear. I guess that sounds like a rather bizarre description of how I view my fatigue but it feels like a creeping shadow that I never quite escape. Generally it’s fine but you have moments when it rules your life – I had several moments in Brisbane were I wondered if I’d have to catch a taxi because walking back to my accommodation was so daunting – but I always manage because like a fitness trainer once said ‘The day you turned up to bootcamp I thought, “man she’s a delicate one”. But you get this ‘look’ on your face and despite everything we throw at you, you just keep going… a tiny mouse that roars like a lion…‘. Physical limitations are annoying, mental fortitude is everything.

I’ll be OK. I’m always OK eventually.

Thank you all so much – I’ve had so many emails, messages, tweets and comments. That’s really the best medicine. Knowing there are people that want to put you back together. xo

Pattern: Vogue 8780
Fabric: cream NZ merino jersey from The Fabric Store, Sydney (it was a 2m remanent for just $19 – major score)

… and did you see that McCalls Pattern Company have a new blog?

 

Saved by accessories… McCalls 6844

I said that I was going to make another pair of jeans. And I haven’t. I will, just not within a fortnight. I’ve decided to be kind to myself. I didn’t want to rush and stress myself out any more than I have been lately. Sorry about that. I will blog at the end of July and see who else managed to battle through the Jeans Challenge!

I made some knit cardigan/jackets to wear with my jeans – compromise?

Today I’ll share with you the one I thought I would really, really like… and just don’t. Boo. Not the win I was hoping for – or needed.

Ever since McCalls 6844 came out I’d been dying to make it. I used a precious piece of divine blue NZ merino jersey from my stash (from The Fabric Store, Sydney). Perhaps if I’d made this in a heavier fabric I might feel differently, however I’m just not feeling the love for this pattern which has received such rave reviews on Sewing Pattern Review… I don’t think it’s a bad pattern, in fact it’s easy to make… it’s just not for me – or more likely I’ve made it in the wrong fabric. My bad.

Perhaps if I stumble across some heavier knit fabric I might give it another go…

McCalls 6844 - just not feeling the love.

McCalls 6844 – just not feeling the love. I was so disappointed as I adore this fabric. It’s lovely!

I wish I had not interfaced the collar piece as instructed. I think it would work much better without interfacing in this lighter fabric – making it more of a drape cardigan and much softer looking.

I found the collar once interfaced didn’t really line up with the hem of the jacket. Rather than hacking a ton off the hem (I didn’t want it any shorter). I simply left the collar slightly shorter than the jacket hem – I’m always going to wear this with a scarf which does help hide that small sewing sin… and really unless you have seen the pattern you wouldn’t know.

I do like the swingy peplum back, it’s super cute.

I made the smallest size – it’s not super small – I think the sizing runs large… or I run small… or the truth is somewhere in the middle…

McCalls 6844 - back view

McCalls 6844 – back view. My favourite feature, I love how the back hangs.

These light jackets and cardigans are a great wardrobe addition. I often have one in my handbag – they are not heavy enough to ward off a cold winter’s day but they are perfect to pop on to keep the chill off inside, under a heavier jacket or throw on during a spring or autumn morning/afternoon.

I used a light hem fusing tape to turn up the hem and sleeves. Then I finished them with a twin needle on my Bernina. This gave a great result – no tunnelling at all!

I’m rather OCD about some of my finishes and since I could not get a matching overlocker thread, I made this entire piece on my Bernina sewing machine, using lightening bolt & overlocking stitches, my walking & overlocking feet. You don’t have to have an overlocker to sew knits. It just makes it faster and easier – that is all.

DRESS THOUGHTFULLY

I collect accessories like some people collect stamps or coins. You can never have too many scarves, necklaces, earrings, bangles, stockings in your arsenal – simple little touches which can transform an outfit. While I don’t love this jacket/cardigan I do like it with a scarf.

I think it’s great to sew yourself sensational clothes. I think it’s even better to learn to wear them well. I rarely sew or purchase anything without thinking about the complete overall look. I see a fabric or a garment & picture the shoes, the belt, the bag and so on. It’s not just a piece of clothing, it’s a package deal.

I know plenty of people who have amazing clothes. Expensive, well cut, designer clothes. That doesn’t always make them stylish or interesting. Individuality and ‘wearing the clothes’ rather than letting them wear you is the key I think.

I get stopped frequently and complimented or questioned on the clothes I’m wearing – often by strangers. I’ve got a very diverse mix of designer, homemade, vintage and charity shop pieces – I tend to wear them mashed up. To be honest, those compliments always surprise me. I’ve never seen myself as particularly interesting – especially to random strangers. I don’t think I’m any better dressed than anyone else, in fact I’ve never ever perceived myself as glamorous, stylish or beautiful. I find it weird & unsettling some days – and sometimes highly amusing.

I love to select one statement item and then build the rest of the outfit around it. You can get ‘too busy’ in a visual sense. It’s important to figure out what the key element is and make sure it sings, rather than competes with everything else you are wearing. Any opera singer will tell you – there can be only one diva!

I’ve got lots of thoughts on style and clothes. I never really blog about them but I’ve been reading some different blogs that really interest me and I think it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot more about. Maybe it’s something I will write more about, not because I’m a guru but the concept of personal style interests me greatly… maybe…

Accessories are important

Accessories are important! And never underestimate how much warmer your legs are in winter in high boots LOL!

I’m a bit of a scarf and necklace obsessive – do you have an accessories weakness?

I’ve also made Vogue 8780 – which is a complete ugly duckling on the envelope and I love to pieces. It’s coming up next! I’ve posted a sneak peek on my instagram feed (yes I know you can’t see much of it – that’s why it’s called a sneak peek.)

Pattern: McCalls 6844
Fabric: NZ Merino from The Fabric Store, Sydney
Also see: Girls in the Garden | Suzy Bee Sews | Mimi G | Beebee’s Vintage Dress

Finally…
A huge thank you to all the people who have sent me messages, emails, comments and more. Your kindness and courage to say something when it’s often difficult to know what to say is much appreciated. Like so many people, I need more people in my life that value me enough to put me back together rather than pull me apart.
The people that weather the storm and wait on the other side.

BOWL