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March 19, 2015 / Blogless Anna

Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one!

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My love for Pattern Fantastique’s Aeolian T-shirt / Dress pattern has been well documented, so today I’ll tell you a story about how this version redeemed itself from the ‘naughty’ to the ‘I love you’ corner of my wardrobe.

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Why was this lovely voile, a remnant from Tessuti, from a favourite pattern, in the naughty corner?  It was the hem.  When I sew a double-fold hem, I use my machine to create a row of stitching that I can use as a guide for turning up the fabric.  Even after I sewed this line of stitching I could see that due to the sheerness of the fabric it was slightly gathered but I pressed on (pardon the pun).  There was a little bit of fabric wrangling making the double-fold and then an unsightly amount when I stitched it down.  But I wasn’t going to let this top beat me.  I finished it, hung it in my wardrobe and hated it.

Lara visited soon after and we talked all things sewing.  I told her I was going to give the top away because the hem was annoying me and I was unlikely to wear it.  Lara insisted I unpick it and redo it.  Why hadn’t I considered that?  It was time-consuming to unpick but well worth it because I now have a wearable top that I love.  Sewing friends are the best!

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Some more detailed shots of the top…

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And doesn’t it go nicely with my woolen jersey Japanese shrug?

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Pattern:  Pattern Fantastique’s Aeolian T-shirt/Dress (boxy tee length)
Size: 
S
Fabric: 
Cotton voile from Tessuti (sold out)
Alterations: 
Sewn in cotton voile rather than a knit.
Accessories:  Shoes by Sonia Rykel (brought here), coloured vintage necklace purchased at an Antique Fair & cornflower blue beads from Manteau Noir

And how many Aeolians have I made to date?  Here’s the countdown…

Seven

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Six

Aeolian Tee by Pattern Fantastique

Five

Pattern Fantastique's Aeolian Dress

Four

Pattern Fantastique's Aeolian T-shirt / Dress

Three (retired, too big)

Pattern Fantastique's Aeolian Dress

Two

Pattern Fantastique's Aeolian Dress

One (also in retirement)

Pattern Fantastique's Aeolian Tee

March 18, 2015 / Blogless Anna

Golden Girl

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I still can’t believe I’m posting these gold hot pants on the internet.  You will notice that they are faceless shots, so maybe they aren’t me after all?

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Mr Blogless Anna and I were invited to a dress up party at the end of January.  Yes, it has taken me a while to pluck up the courage to publish this post.  And it seems fitting to do so on the day that Kylie Minogue will perform in Melbourne – her home-town and mine – on her current Australian tour.

I haven’t been to a fancy dress party since university and I decided in my forty-first year with nothing to lose, and knowing very few people at the party, I would go all out and channel Kylie’s gold hot pants from the Spinning Around film clip (minus the gatherng… I was trying to make things easier for myself!).  Mr Blogless Anna was an ’80s Australian tennis star – Pat Cash.  I wonder who is the more conservative of the two of us?

I did lots of research on an appropriate pattern, or pattern hack, for these gold hot pants.  After seeing Nic’s post on how she successfully used Measure Twice / Cut Once’s Mary Knickers for her tankini bottoms, I brought the pattern and started hacking.  There were two test sews.  The alterations I made to the final version were:

  • Increasing the rise by approx 3″ – 4″ (7.5cm – 10cm).  I used different sizes (see below) so some fudging was required
  • Size 12 front and a size 16 back (I needed my ‘cheeks’ to be contained!)
  • I decided not to hem the hot-pants because the fabric was foil-like and there would be no second chances

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It was a fun night!

Pattern:  Measure Twice / Cut Once’s Mary Knickers
Size: 
12 front merged to a 16 at the back
Fabric: 
Gold foil-like stretchy dance fabric from GJs
Alterations:  Increased the rise to waist level.  No hemming.
Accessories:   Shoes from Dianna Ferarri Outlet in Darebin

March 16, 2015 / Blogless Anna

Jewel in the crown

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This is my second and final contribution to the Japanese Sewalong on Tanoshii.  It’s another win from Casual Sweet Clothes by Noriko Sasahara.  I’ve sewn the Jewel-Neck Jacket with Bow (Pattern D) in a stunning Japanese cotton from Tessuti (purchased in 2014).  I do have a weakness for Japanese cotton… Liberty… linen and of course European knits (joyful laugh).

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My jewel-neck jacket is bow-less and in fact fastener-less as well.  I’ve left off the single snap for now… it maybe added later, or not!  I expect the latter.

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This is an unlined casual jacket which will be a great transeasonal piece.  Perfect for a crisp Autumn morning of shopping:

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The raglan sleeve has a separate front and back piece which gives great shaping in the shoulder. The volume in the sleeves is definitely bottom-heavy and the three-quarter length is flattering.

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The jacket is drafted for woman who are 165cm tall (that’s me) and I found the jacket length to be perfect straight out of the packet… er book? I like my jackets on the shorter side.

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Finished pattern measurements (including ease) suggested I made a medium and my calico showed no need for ANY alterations *gasps*. Making no fit changes is refreshing and I expect it will encourage me to sew more patterns from this book!

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There was one little lesson learned during this make. Japanese pattern books don’t include seam allowances and you are given guides for adding seam and hem allowance in the cutting diagram. On this occasion the back facing only required a seam allowance on the short ends and the curved edge that joins that jacket. On my first attempt I added the seam allowance to the wrong curved edge and couldn’t work out why the back facing was so big. I originally expected I might have traced the wrong pattern piece (yes, I’ve done this before too!) but after back-tracking I realised my error. A minor speed hump in an otherwise straight-forward sew.

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Pattern:  Jewel-Neck Jacket with Bow (Pattern D) from Casual Sweet Clothes: Favourite Pieces for Every Day by Noriko Sasahara
Size: 
Medium
Fabric: 
Japanese Cotton from Tessuti (purchased in 2014)
Alterations: 
None!
Outfit:  Painting a Picture Top (blogged here) & NYDJ jeans
Accessories:  Scarf and shoes from Scarlett Jones & bag from Hack Leather in Cologne, Germany – bought with my beautiful friend Anne.

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March 14, 2015 / Blogless Anna

Vested interest

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The Japanese Sewalong at http://tanoshii-schneidern.blogspot.de has encouraged me to sew up some patterns from my largish Japanese pattern book collection.  I have left my run a little late, but in my defence this is a transeasonal piece which is perfect for taming oversized shirts and adding a layer of warmth for our current Autumn weather.

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I’ve always loved the Pattern I – Bolero Vest with Braid Trim from Casual Sweet Clothes by Noriko Sasahara and I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to make it.

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Before we talk construction I need to tell you a little story.  My vest was sitting on the ironing board when my mother-in-law came to visit on Sunday afternoon.  She saw it and made a quick (wrong) assumption.  Yes, that’s right, she thought it was a dress-up for one of my daughters.  Sigh…  Do you have any good mother-in-law sewing stories to share with me?

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This is a little vest that doesn’t use much fabric, but boy it was quite the process, that went something like this…

1.  Trace the pattern and add seam allowances

2.  Make a calico version to test fit.  The medium was perfect without alteration (bonus!).  I love that this book includes finished garment measurements… they are oh so helpful.

3.  After joining the shoulder seams, the instructions specify ‘sew on decorative braid’.  Those four little words sound so easy, but without pattern markings requires the following interpretation… do your best to make the braid look presentable.

Some freehand braid pinning looked disastrous, so I took to using my measuring gauge and marking the braid placement in chalk.  I traced around a small cylinder for the loops.  Those of you with good eyes might be able to spy the blue chalk outline (bottom left).
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4.  Side seams were joined and then the facings were assembled, attached and understitched.

5.  The hem and the facings were tacked in position before blind stitching them in place by hand. I’m really starting to enjoy this hand stitching caper… and (bonus) I’m getting neater with more practice.

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And because I’m taking part in a Japanese Sewalong, it seemed fitting for some minimalist Japanese styling and poses!

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Pattern:  Bolero Vest with Braid Trim from Casual Sweet Clothes: Favourite Pieces for Every Day by Noriko Sasahara
Size: 
Medium
Fabric: 
Dark Forest Green Felted Wool from the Clear It (Alanah Hill) Outlet (leftover from this project) and trim from Darn Cheap Fabrics
Alterations: 
None!
Accessories:  Bangle by Sonia Rykel (brought here) & shoes from Zomp.

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March 3, 2015 / Blogless Anna

Eating my Sophie words

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When Tessuti released their Sophie Top and Sophie Dress last month I was a doubter.  The overall shape of each garment was pleasing, but I wasn’t sure about the single lapel.

Now that my girls are back at school, I’m in the city one day a week working for my husband (it has already been suggested I should be paid in fabric!) so visits to Tessuti are now a little too easy.  On one of these visits I tried on the shop sample of the sleeveless Sophie Top and it was time to eat my words.  The shape of the top was perfect… skimming where skimming needs to happen, hitting at my preferred length and the hem was slightly higher at the front than the back.  It was a pleasing silhouette.

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Colette recently posted her version of the Sophie Dress that has the lapel folded up and secured by a single button.  I went one step further and did away with the lapel all together.  On the front piece I drew a line from the bottom of the v-neck to the hem and traced the side of the pattern without the lapel.  I made the same adjustments to the front facing and then cut both pieces on the fold.  Yes, it was that easy!

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I sewed and traced the xs.  A mid-sew try-on revealed it was a little snug on my bust.  Time for a cheats FBA… I unpicked the side seams between the underarm and the notched and re-sewed using a 3/8″ seam allowance rather than the specified 1/2″.  It worked a treat.

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The back neckline is finished with bias binding (not visible) and the front is faced.  This was a new neckline finishing combination for me and therefore added a bit of interest to this make.

I used some liberty scraps for the binding and facing and if you look very hard you might just be able to see a touch of liberty peeking out at the top of my shoulder in the photo below.

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This is a great basic top that easily fits into my wardrobe and life.

Pattern:  Tessuti’s Sophie Top
Size: 
XS
Fabric: 
Leftover linen from my Eva Dress & liberty scraps
Alterations: 
I removed the single front lapel.  Between the underarm and the side seam notch I used a 3/8″ seam allowance (rather than the specified 1/2″) .
Accessories:  Liberty Scarf, bracelet from Christine’s & shoes recently purchased online from Yoox.

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February 28, 2015 / Blogless Anna

The new star of the wardrobe

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Pattern Fantastique’s Celestial Dress comes in three dress lengths and a top.  I’ve started with the top, but never fear, I have plans for dresses too.  Did you notice that was plural… not dress, but dresses?

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If you are interested in the dress lengths, there are already some lovely version around…

  • Sew Urbane made the mini dress length in a stunning African wax print
  • Casa Crafty stepped out of her comfort zone and made a floral midi dress
  • Thornberry has made not one, but two Celestial maxi dresses

The design of this pattern is very unique and super clever.  For me it was a minimal effort sew for a big impact garment.  How about those sleeves?  They can be worn folded back, but I like them in their full sticky-outy glory!

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My original plan wasn’t to make acolour blocked top, but I’m really pleased with the end result.  Sometimes, restrictions really do make you more creative!

My first version of this top was a straight size 10 in some stunning textured Lithuanian linen from The Drapery. This unhemmed version is looking for a new home (any takers?) as it was just a little snug on ‘the ladies’ and the back neckline gaped a little, which is not unusual for me.

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With some help from an expert, I’ve kept the 10 in the shoulders, graded to a 12 in the bust, and then back into a 10 at the hips.  A little ‘wedge’ has also been taken out of the back neckline (bodice piece and back facing) to deal with my high rounded shoulders.

For this version I raided my scraps tub for some linen.  I found some plain orange (front bodice, back bodice & back) that matched the Lithuanian orange from version 1 (front) and then I settled on some statement sleeves.  From here on in, the blue stripey linen will be known as ‘sleeve fabric’ as that’s all I’ve ever used it for (see it’s first outing here).

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The sleeves are probably my favourite part of this top, but if you thinking about a sleeveless version, Pattern Fantastique has you covered.  They have just released a free sleevelss pattern hack with new pattern piece and step-by-step instructions.  Rosie from Artworker Projects has a fabulous sleeveless Celestial Dress in her wardrobe; it’s bold, beautiful and very inspiring.

For a total change of topic… it’s very hard taking photos on a windy day!

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Pattern:  Pattern Fantastique’s Celestial Dress (top length)
Size: 
10 through the shoulders graded to a 12 in the bust and back to a 10 at the hips
Fabric: 
Linen from Tessuti (stripes and plain orange) and The Drapery (textured orange)
Alterations: 
Sizing (as explained above) and a wedge was removed from the back neckline to eliminate gape.
Accessories:  Necklace and bangle by Sonia Rykel (both purchased here) & shoes from Zomp.

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February 24, 2015 / Blogless Anna

A story about a kimono jacket

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This story starts with a fabric shopping date with Lara near the end of last month.  At a stretch you could say that Darn Cheap Fabrics in Heidelberg is halfway between our houses.  Any excuse right?  After lots of chatting and fabric patting I came across this awesome leafy jungle print on twill-like fabric with amazing drape.  A look at the tag confirmed my suspicions… 100% polyester.

Now, you have probably noticed that I’m more of a natural fibres kind of girl.  I’m happy with a touch of lycra in my knits, I’m totally fine with viscose and rayon, but until now I’ve had a serious case of poly prejudice.  Maybe it was being in the midst of Jungle January, or perhaps some encouraging words from Lara helped, but what ever happened I grabbed that roll and proceeded to take some home with me.  My plans were vague… something drapey and trans-seasonal.

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It only took a couple of weeks for the creativity lightening bolt to strike… a kimono jacket.  It would be a perfect layering piece, the swishiness factor would be high and I could throw it in a bag without a crease worry in the world.  But which pattern?  The free online tutorials looked good, but I longed for a band to finish the back neckline and front edges.  A 3 for $10 pattern sale at Spotlight sealed the deal and I purchased Simplicity 1318 with either view A or B in mind.  Then I began to waiver… could I pull this look off?

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My research then turned to Gorman’s Autumn 2015 collection, and in particular their Greenhouse Kimono.  From trying on this garment I learned:

  • It was made of cotton voile and it still draped nicely (I’m filing this information away for a later date)
  • The kimono was far too long for me
  • The design looked good when crossed over, it was actually quite dress-like, but I didn’t like how the fabric fell went left open as you saw a lot of the inside of the garment.  Also, in the ‘open position’ the ties were awkward no matter how you tied them.

Armed with this information, I bravely traced View B of Simplicity 1318 which is the same as the photographed kimono jacket on the pattern envelope sans the boarder print.  I don’t sew Simplicty, New Look, Vogue, Butterick, McCalls, Kwik Sew or Burda Style patterns very often.  In fact, this is only the second non-vintage pattern from the previously mentioned brands that I’ve successfully sewn before.  My style is obviously more aligned with independant, European (Ottobre) and Japanese patterns!

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I sewed up a quick toile of the pattern in some nasty synthetic fabric.  I’m justified in using the term ‘nasty’ as during the burn test to check fibre content the fabric melted to my finger.  Ouch!  I’m still nursing the wound.  The toile wasn’t to check the fit, which is my usual reason for toiling, it was in fact to try the instructed construction method and work our my preferred seam finishes.  My toile gave me the confidence to make the following changes:

  • I eliminated the centre back seam

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  • I joined the sleeves in the round.  I’m not sure if that is ‘proper’ sewing terminology, but it’s my way of saying… as opposed to when everything is flat!
    • I sewed the side seams of the jacket to the underarm marker
    • I sewed the underarm seam of the sleeves
    • With right sides facing, I inserted the sleeves into the body of the jacket stitched them in place
  • To minimise hand stitching on this garment, I joined the short ends of the sleeve bands, folded them in half long-ways (wrong sides facing), stitched them to the sleeve (right sides facing), pressed the seam allowances away from the armholes and top-stitched them in place.  Clear as mud?

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The front bands/facings (you cut four of the same pattern piece… two are the interfaced and become the front bands, the other two are the facings) and the back band are the trickiest part of the supposedly ‘easy-to-sew’ Simplicity pattern.  Speaking from experience, you must pay attention to the notches on the front band/facings because even though they look wrong, they are in fact correctly placed on the outer edge… the edge to be joined to the front pieces.  Be warned, the facings are hand-stitched in place.  I’m usually not a big hand-stitcher, but after this project I can definitely see the appeal.

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The back band is a right royal pain in the neck to attach to the back neckline.  If you want to have any hope of joining these two pieces you will need to follow the instructions and clip the back neckline to the stay-stitching.  It’s worth persevering as the resulting neckline sits perfectly!

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If you are interested in some other versions of this pattern..  Erica B has made a lovely fringed silk chiffon version and Trine from Groovy Baby & Mama is rocking her black view B Simplicity 1318 kimono with a stripey dress.

I personally think this garment comes into it’s own when you are moving… swishing…

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So I’ve missed Jungle January for 2015… but I’m wondering Anne if you are accepting early entries for Jungle January 2016?

Pattern:  Simplicity 1318 (View B)
Size: 
S
Fabric: 
Twill-like polyester from Darn Cheap Fabrics
Alterations: 
Removed centre back seam.  Change construction method for the sleeves and sleeve bands.
Accessories:  Necklace by Sonia Rykel (brought here) & shoes purchased at Siricco.

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