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

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?

 

Top 5 Hits of 2013

Top 5 of 2013

Top 5 of 2013

This is a tricky one… am I cheating if I have categories and post multiple makes?
I’ve hyperlinked all the images to the original posts – in case you want more pictures or details…
I’ve also created a Made-by-Me 2013 page where you can see all my makes…

BY HAND LONDON
I love all of these makes. The latest girl in the BHL Club has surfaced many many times this party season – with both heels and bare feet… Georgia is a go-anywhere girl… and seriously comfortable. I asked my husband if it was appropriate for an informal event… and he said “oh well I’ll just have to put up with having the hottest wife in the room again…” LOL I think that’s a good sign.

The new kid in town - Georgia from By Hand London

The new kid in town – Georgia from By Hand London

Elisalotte dress - back

Elisalotte dress – a combination of the Charlotte Skirt and the Elisazlex bodice

The Sari Edition - By Hand London Victoria Blazer

The Sari Edition – By Hand London Victoria Blazer

Charlotte The Second: By Hand London

Charlotte The Second: By Hand London

and my lovely Anna dresses… I love all these…

Anna Rose - a girly girly dress

Anna Rose By Hand London – a girly girly dress

Anna Blue by the seaside

Anna Blue by the seaside. By Hand London

Jungle Anna - there's that wild thigh slit... I finished it a little higher than Anna Roses...

Jungle Anna – there’s that wild thigh slit… I finished it a little higher than Anna Roses… cos Jungle Anna is a wild girl…

MEGAN NIELSEN
Love both of these makes and wear them a lot!

Tania Culottes and the odd giraffe

Tania Culottes and the odd giraffe

Love this skirt! Megan Neilsen's Cascade Skirt

Love this skirt! Megan Neilsen’s Cascade Skirt. Perfect perfect perfect fabric for this make.

GRAINLINE
It’s a recent love affair but I love the modern simplicity of Jen’s designs.

Grainline Maritime Urban butterfly

now I’m wondering if there is some halo graffiti around town somewhere….

Grainline Maritime Shorts in floral denim

Grainline Maritime Shorts in floral denim

Grainline Studio - Archer It was extremely windy - so this looks hard more fitted than it is!

Grainline Studio – Archer
It was extremely windy – so this looks more fitted than it is!

KNITTING
I re-taught myself to knit. All I can say is YouTube is a wonder! Of all my makes I adore Idlewood the most. Long, warm, casual AND it has a monster cowl.

Idlewood by Cecily Glowik MacDonald.

Idlewood – taken after 36 hours of travel. I knitted the last four rows just after I landed!

Idlewood by Cecily Glowik MacDonald COWL

Now THAT’S what I call a cowl!

Sewaholic Cambie and Whole Wheat cardigan

Sewaholic Cambie and Whole Wheat cardigan

Sewaholic Cambie & Andi Satterlund's Marion

Sewaholic Cambie & Andi Satterlund’s Marion

Chuck by Andi Satterlund - front view

Chuck by Andi Satterlund – front view

MARIA DENMARK & VOGUE MASH-UP
I adore this pattern mash-up. I wear the blue dress a lot on the weekends.
And Clairy – she’s my kinda gal… I’ve worn her to Frocktails and to a work function.
In both versions I feel fabulous and I get loads of compliments.
My original Maria Denmark day-to-night top is also heavily worn.
Buy this pattern!

Maria Denmark day-to-night dress - take 2

Maria Denmark day-to-night dress – take 2

Clairy Dress - pouting lips, shaking hips...

Clairy Dress – pouting lips, shaking hips…

HONORABLE MENTIONS

I’ve made lots of things I really like this year! I know – fatheaded of me but it’s true… so the honourable mentions go to…

Hot Mess Birthday Dress

On the beach before Birthday dinner

Hot Mess Birthday Dress – I’ve worn this quite a lot. it’s easy to wear and the b/w scheme make it as classic – despite the craziness!

Liesl + Co Late Lunch Tunic aka my beach shirt…

Liesl + Co Late Lunch Tunic SewBusyLizzy

The Beach edition of the Late Lunch Tunic (and my Michael Jackson moment)

McCalls 6611 Fashion Star Jacket

McCalls 6611 - Fashion Star

McCalls 6611 – Fashion Star

Sewaholic Lonsdale

Sewaholic Lonsdale - the front view

Sewaholic Lonsdale – the front view

There are a few more – but that’s enough 🙂

Timeless: Vogue 1351 for Minerva Crafts

Vogue 1351 - the neckline

Vogue 1351 – the neckline

When Vogue 1351 was released, I was underwhelmed. The styling, the fit and photography – it does the dress no favours – I look at the models and think EAT A HAMBURGER & STAND UP STRAIGHT! Despite that I kept returning to it, perhaps because I am a cowl junkie (see here, here and here for evidence)…

Vogue 1351 - who wore it better...

Vogue 1351 – I look positively beefy here and I’m a towering 5 foot 4 & weigh in under 50kg.

I’m glad I did. It’s simply lovely. It’s not fancy, it’s not attention seeking… it’s just quietly ‘there’. Simple clean lines…

Vogue 1351, front view

Vogue 1351, front view

I know that bias-cut patterns scare some people. However the simplicity of this dress means that the construction is simple, there are minimal seams to stretch out, very few seamlines to match. The skirt skims and flares. The bodice is simple and drapes. The fit is not complex. I love bias.

This triple crepe fabric is quite heavy but falls nicely. I think the weight of the fabric lends itself well to a bias cut as it’s more forgiving over any lumps or bumps than a clingier knit fabric.

Kathryn and Laura have also made this crepe up and both commented about how it frays. As all my pieces, except the back piece, were cut on the bias, fraying was not an issue for me.

Vogue 1351, back view

Vogue 1351, back view. The skirt on this dress is simply lovely.

Here is the good news…

  • Lining: 5 pieces & Shell: 5 pieces.
  • Zip: invisible
  • Just two darts in the front bodice lining. There are no tucks, no pleats.

The dress is beautifully lined. The cowl attaches to the lining and the inside of the dress is fabulous.

You could just line the bodice if you are not a lining fan.

Vogue 1351 - interior

Vogue 1351 – interior

I adore the colour of this fabric – it’s not too purple if that makes sense. And there have been two recent Minerva makes from exactly the same shade of triple crepe – there is something about the aubergine (Kathryn’s New Look dress * Laura’s Lisette Dress)… I almost made this in ‘jade’ which I think would be gorgeous… and black would be absolutely perfection as a LBD…. note to self: make this in black…

Lining a sleeveless dress is a little bit fiddly. I needed to concentrate (ie not tweet) when attaching the cowl to the lining and bodice – and joining the shoulders.

I lined this dress with a heavier than usual ‘Italian anti static’ polyester/viscose lining. It was lovely to work with – and much easier to cut out and handle than bemsilk for a change.

Things I did differently..

  • The patterns asks you to sew above and below where you insert the zip. It’s an invisible zip and I could see no good reason to make the zip insertion more difficult. I inserted it as per a usual invisible zip insertion and sewed the seam above and below the zip afterwards.
  • I also found sewing the lining to the dress waistline very tricky after sewing the lining to the zipper tape. I would sew the lining to the waistband first next time… I think!

This dress construction is not rocket science. It’s simple yet lovely. It doesn’t need a billion pleats, pockets or design features. It just is what it is and it works.

Things I would do differently…

I should have interfaced the seam where the zip is inserted. It does ripple slightly. Not enough to be a bother but I do notice it.

The pattern features a narrow rolled hem. My last Minerva project I showed how to do this – this time I used a rolled hem foot as I got one for my birthday in November (tricky getting around the side seams though!). At first I didn’t like the rolled hem. I thought the crepe was too heavy for it… but looking at the photos I love the subtle fluting it creates so I think I will leave it. The other way to finish this hem would be creating a facing as Sam, another Minerva Blogger, did with her pink crepe skirt.

Pattern: Vogue 1351, made as a size 6, no alterations.
Fabric: Triple Crepe in Aubergine from Minerva Crafts.
Kit: available from Minerva Crafts.

Also see (fabric): Laura | Kathryn
Also see (pattern): Little Betty | Sunny Gal Studio | Very Purple Person

I’m lucky enough to be able to stop at the beach after work and stroll across the sand like this… I know, life is tough…

Vogue by the seashore

Vogue by the seashore

A VERY Merry Christmas Skirt! Vogue 8882 – Minerva Blogger Network

Hooray! I am in a state of shock – while I did not manage to punch out a birthday or Christmas make in 2012 – this year I have done both!

Last week it was the Hot Mess Birthday dress – a rather complicated but very pretty and enormously satisfying make.

This week I have my first Minerva Bloggers’ Network project to share.

A Very Merry Christmas Skirt

With my Minerva makes I wanted to make things that I felt anyone (any age, any shape) could wear, sew and feel fabulous in. I also wanted the kit to have pretty much everything they needed to start sewing, or at least most of it… the fabric, pattern and thread. So once you have pounced on the postman, you can rip open the envelope and get sewing. You might need the odd notion or some interfacing – but many stitchers do have these things in ‘the stash’.

I’ve always wanted a ‘Christmas’ skirt or dress but never quite got around to making one (and I have rather a lot of party clothes anyway…). The festive season hits and life is a merry-go-round of parties, concerts, holidays, meals, drinks, family and friends. Life gets busy – no time for sewing…

So make that Christmas skirt now! I’ve chosen a project that will minimise your time at the sewing machine and maximise your time at the party.

I know. I’m good to you 🙂

Vogue 8882

Vogue 8882

I’ve been eyeing off this skirt since Vogue released it – even though big skirts aren’t really my gig I just fell in love with it. When I spied this this lovely shot WINE taffeta on the Minerva site, I felt it was a match made in heaven.

The taffeta transforms in different lights…

Vogue 8882 as the sun grows down

Vogue 8882 as the sun grows down

The colour transforms when the setting sun hits it!

The colour transforms when the setting sun hits it! hmmmm, I have that bronzed Aussie look going on as we approach summer…

Bows and frills scare me BUT I can’t imagine the skirt without that monstrous sash and bow. It’s perfection…

As my Christmas Day is never ‘white’ except for the sand on the beach, I paired by skirt with a simple cream tank top and rose gold strappy heels. I think this skirt could easily be translated into a wintery wear – the claret tone looks gorgeous with black (yes, I experimented for you too).

You can read lots more over on the Minerva site… so go over there for more pictures and how-to.

My major changes were…

  • Invisible zipper instead of standard.
  • I did a roll hem. My legs would look like toothpicks coming out of a even oomph-ier (yes, that’s a technical term) skirt.. If you like lotsa ‘oomph’ I’m guessing you have some petticoats stashed for this purpose!
  • Taffeta is not a fan of iron-on interfacing – use sew-in. Listen to SewBossyLizzy and weep no more.

So let’s twirl together this festive season… I know you want to…

This skirt is loads of fun to wear… it even rustles! I’m not a gentled-footed creature. I sound like a mini herd of elephants stampeding through the African grasslands but I’m ok with that.

Giddy with Happy Happy Joy Joy.

…giddy with Happy Happy Joy Joy… and I’d just like to let you know that it takes a lot of concentration to not wedge a stiletto heel into timber decking! Check out the Minerva site where I’m spinnin’ like a whirlgig.

Miss 8 teaches me to party with attitude!

Miss 8 teaches me to party with attitude!

Pattern: Vogue 8882
Fabric: Wine shot taffeta.
Kit available from Minerva Fabrics – you know you want to – I’ve done all the shopping and pattern testing for you! Sew one and party on (perhaps Miss 8 should do a blog post about party style – she’s got it down to a fine art)

If you are concerned about shipping costs… I purchased 4m of this blue fabric from Minerva (apparently I’m a Shimmer Twill piglet – I need MOAH) and the shipping was just 10 pounds and arrived in no time at all. Love.