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August 12, 2015 / Blogless Anna

Alexa in green

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I was wearing this top yesterday and it reminded me that although it had been photographed, it hadn’t been blogged yet.  Time to remedy that…

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When I blogged my Sunny Knit Top last month I mentioned that my wardrobe is in need of some basic long sleeve tees to wear with RTW jackets.  This Alexa T-Top is one of those gap fillers.

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It’s not the first time I’ve sewn this pattern, and it won’t be the last… I actually cut another out last night!

My weight and shape have changed since I last used this pattern over two years ago, so it was back to the drawing board with regards to size.  This is a small with the body and arm length of the petite and I’m happy with the fit.

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The fabric is a lovely Italian cotton knit from The Cloth Shop.  Even though this top has an overall green look about it, it’s actually a fine green and grey chevron print with orange, red, blue and white flecks thrown in.  When you describe it like that it sounds like there is a lot going on, but it’s actually very subtle.

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Construction and hemming were shared between the overlocker and a twin needle.  I used fusible stay tape on the neckline and back shoulder seams to avoid them stretching out.  This is my go to way for constructing tees.

Pattern:  Tessuti’s Alexa T-Top Pattern
Size:  S
Fabric:  Italian cotton knit from The Cloth Shop
Alterations:  The front, back and sleeve length were shortened to the petite size

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July 20, 2015 / Blogless Anna

A new jacket and a new job!

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Tessuti named this cotton/polyester fabric Jaffa Pad… but let’s face it, there is definitely a construction site vibe going on here.  So, I got myself a new job in traffic management.

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These photo shoots seem to be getting sillier and sillier!  Thanks to the lovely construction guy who lent me his ‘gear’ and laughed heartily when it was pointed out that I was matching him.

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This is my second Saunio Cardigan and I love it just as much as my first.  Construction was as per the first one (pun intended) and it really is a quick and satisfying sew.  If this style is your kind of thing, then I’d recommend this pattern without hesitation.

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The fabric was almost dry when it came out of the washing machine confirming my suspicion it’s more polyester than cotton.  This is the first ‘structured’ item in my wardrobe and I’m enjoying the different silhouette.  It’s also a good contrast to the rest of my clothes.  I find that sewing allows for easy experimentation, and it’s one of the things I love about my hobby… or was that obsession?

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And where is my scarf and/or beads?  Believe it our not, I decided there was enough going on with the florescent quilted orange fabric to forego accessories.  Wonders never cease!

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And just for the record, my traffic management role was very short-lived.

Pattern:  Saunio Cardigan by Named
Size:  38-42 (the sizes are grouped… this is the middle of three sizes)
Fabric: 
Cotton/polyester (woven) from Tessuti (now sold out)
Alterations: 
NA
Accessories:  Boots from Scarlet Jones.

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July 17, 2015 / Blogless Anna

Sunny Knit Top on a not so sunny day

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It seems ironic to be sewing and blogging about the Sunny Knit Top when we are experiencing what feels like the coldest winter in years.  Note to self… I must stop whinging about our weather.

My wardrobe is currently lacking long sleeve tops that I can wear under RTW jackets with three-quarter sleeves. I therefore decided that it was time that Sunny and I danced the sewing dance.

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This purpley blue viscose from Tessuti (purchased 18+ months ago) tones beautifully with my jacket and it had the perfect drape for a Sunny Knit Top.  It was all systems go!

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I own a few Style Arc patterns, but I must confess I haven’t sewn many of them… which is for no other reason except something more shiny comes along first!

My impression from other sewers/sewists is that the design and drafting at Style Arc is spot on, and that’s exactly how I found this top.  Yes, it’s over-sized, but I think the slim fitting arms and the cocoon shaped bottom band balance the volume nicely.

This is a great oversized knit top with the new cocoon shape

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Several reviews on this pattern suggest that the arms are very tight.  I made the size 10, as per my bust measurement, and the arms are a little long (perfect for cold weather) but not tight on me.

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The line drawing, and all other examples of this top I’ve seen online, indicate that it’s on the longish side.  I like my tops to finish around my high hip bone, so I shortened the pattern in two places.  I took an inch (2.5 cm) out of the front and back pieces as well as an inch (2.5 cm) out of the cocoon shaped bottom band.  The latter adjustment really had me scratching my head.  In crude terms, the pattern piece is shaped like an upside down half circle skirt, and I could see three different ways of shortening this pattern piece. I could have either:

  • Removed the length directly from the hem… making the circumference of the hem band bigger (not ideal)
  • Drawn a straight through the pattern piece and adjusted at this point… creating a lot of distortion at the side seams (not ideal)
  • Drawn a curved line, following the arc of the seam that connects this piece to the front and back pieces, and adjust here… less distortion at the side seams than the straight line option (the method I used)

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I’m really happy with this top and I look forward to wearing it in spring without all the layers!

And to finish, more photos…

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Pattern:  Style Arc’s Sunny Knit Top (paper or pdf)
Size: 
10
Fabric: 
Viscose knit from Tessuti (purchased 18+ months ago)
Alterations: 
Removed 1″ (2.5 cm) from the front and back pieces as well as 1″ (2.5 cm) from the cocoon shaped bottom band
Accessories:  Boots from Florsheim.  Scarf worn with jacket from Scarlet Jones & Sophie Digard scarf from Luccello worn with top.

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July 14, 2015 / Blogless Anna

Lucent Visor

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I know we are supposed to be in the middle of an artic vortex here in Melbourne, but Pattern Fantasique has released it’s Lucent Visor this week and I must tell you all about it.

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The visor comes in three brim sizes – small, medium and large.  I would like to say that with my fair complexion and freckles, I chose large brim for maximum sun coverage… but the truth is that it was only size available when I was testing the pattern early this year.  That being said, I do have a large head and I think this size of the brim balances it nicely.  Am I right in thinking that I am wearing the visor rather than the visor wearing me?

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The brim of the hat is sewn first and then the hat band, which is custom fitted to the wearer, is constructed and added.  Here are some of my ‘in progress’ happy snaps from my phone.

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The hat band is a little fiddley, threading thick elastic through a fabric tube not much bigger than the elastic requires patience, but it’s worth it as it gives a great finish.  As I mentioned earlier, the hat band is fitted to the head of the intended wearer and it covers head circumferences from kids up to 62cm.  I’m expecting orders from my girls this summer.

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The visor has been designed so that you can throw it in your bag without a care in the world, and when it’s time to wear, it just pops back into shape.  The secret sewing ingredients are buckram & plastic millinery wire.

I wasn’t familiar with buckram when I started this project, but I now know that it is 100% cotton interfacing, can be sew-in or fusible (I used fusible) and like most interfacings it comes in several different weights.  I’ve purchased buckram from Clegs where it’s sold under the brand/product name Shapeform and would probably be classified in the ‘lighter-medium’ weight category.

It was also a case of first-time-use when it came to the plastic millinery wire.  It’s not difficult to use and I think it really adds to the professional finish of the visor.  The plastic wire is joined by jewellery crimps, or ferrules as they are sometimes called, so you will require a pair of pliers for this step.  As part of my pattern testing pack I was given the plastic wire and crimps, but I believe they are best sourced from online millinery supply stores.

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This pattern is a great scrap buster.  Do you recognise the Japanese cotton I used?  It’s left over from a Japanese Jacket I made earlier this year.

Did I also mention it that this was a very satisfying sew?  And the results… well I think they speak for themselves.  Are you tempted to dabble in a little visor making?

Now if our weather would just warm up so I can wear my new visor.

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Pattern:  Pattern Fantastique’s Lucent Visor
Size: 
Custom fit hat band… with the option of three brim sizes.  I sewed the largest brim size.
Fabric: 
Japanese Cotton from Tessuti (purchased in 2014)
Alterations: 
None!
Accessories:  NA

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July 13, 2015 / Blogless Anna

Linen, Liberty and Nell

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A Verb for Keeping Warm is a new-to-me pattern line from a yarn, fabric and dying bricks-and-mortar shop of the same name in Oakland, California.  Their about page explains more:

Spinning, dyeing, knitting, felting, weaving, and sewing are all verbs used to describe how communities have created cloth, garments, and other fiber-based goods. Such acts embody love and creativity. And such objects provide protection from the elements and keep us warm. Our company honors these traditions by offering a wide range of textile related raw materials, such as fiber, yarn, and fabric, along with classes to instill the skill and practice of creating your own clothing and warmth. 

To me, that just sounds like one big, long hug from a dear old friend.

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Enough of the warm and fuzzies, I’m here to tell you about the Nell Shirt.  I can’t remember how I stumbled across this pattern (there are very few versions of this shirt on the internet or social media) but the interesting collar and cuffs drew me in.  I purchased the paper version of the pattern from Caitlan at Indie Stitches.

The Nell Shirt Pattern - DOWNLOAD

The sizing of the pattern is a little different to what I’m used to… it relates to the bust measurement of the finished shirt.  I made the size 39″ (which allowed for 2.5″ of ease) and I’m happy with the fit.  This is one of those rare pattern that fits me out of the box without any alterations!

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Let’s talk fabrics.  The grey linen is a remnant (yes, another remnant!) from Tessuti and the Liberty is from my stash.  Although grey is a colour I can wear, I tend to lean toward brighter hues, so for this make (and I was aiming for a wearable muslin) I added a splash of Liberty to brighten things up.  To say I’m a little pleased with the outcome is an understatement.  After I finished my Nell Shirt I tried it on and I didn’t want to take it off.

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The pattern is well drafted, and it came together nicely, but at times it did seem like a labour of love.  It’s fair to say that I often sew simple patterns with only a few pattern pieces that can be sewn up in a few hours.  This is not one of those patterns, and I must confess that I got a little shock when I was working on the front bib lining and the instructions said ‘finish by hand’.  Perhaps sewing patterns including hand stitching should come with warning labels for lazy bones like me?

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On reflection, I actually really enjoyed being challenged, and dare I admit, a little out of my comfort zone with this make.  For the first time in a long time I had to read, rather than skim, the sewing instructions.  The instructions are grouped into sections and are easy to follow, but they do assume a certain level of skill.  I did find it a little confusing how to sew the v-front, but the lovely Lara talked me through her way of doing it and it worked a treat (yah for sewing friends!).  One super small thing that was missed in the instructions… please add ‘back lining armhole edge’ to the list of pattern pieces to be overlocked or zigzagged before you begin sewing.

Speaking of the back lining, I also deviated from the pattern to sew down the lower edge of the back lining.  I have a ‘thing’ about unfinished raw edges on necklines with facings.  Sewing them down helps me sleep soundly at night (sad but true)!

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One tiny disappointing thing about my shirt is that I followed the instructions on the pattern piece and cut the back lining from the main fabric without reading the cutting information.  Those cutting instructions on the inside cover were a little more detailed and suggest you cut the back lining from either the main fabric or the lining fabric.  The back lining would have looked better in Liberty (see photo above) but it’s not a deal breaker.

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In my opinion, it’s all the little details that make the Nell Shirt a winner.  The gathering at the bottom of the front bib and the sleeves, the interesting collar (both front and back), the cuffs and the shirt-tail hem.  The contrast collar and cuffs are right up my alley and didn’t disappoint.

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I can definitely see more Nell’s in my wardrobe.  I might even dip into my Nani Iro stash for version number two.  And as a reminder for myself for future versions:

  • Understitch the collar and cuffs seam allowances to the main fabric (I will always wear the shirt with the linings on show)
  • Hem the front and back pieces before joining the side seams for an neater shirt-tail hem

After success with Nell, I’ve just ordered the Uptown Top Pattern.

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Pattern:  A Verb for Keeping Warm’s Nell Shirt (paper (US readers), paper (Australian readers) or pdf
Size: 
39″
Fabric: 
Linen remnant from Tessuti & Liberty from the stash
Alterations: 
Sewed down the lower edge of the back lining
Accessories:  Boots from Florsheim

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July 11, 2015 / Blogless Anna

Canberra Frocktails : Clutching leather

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As soon as I decided I was going to Canberra Frocktails I had a vision of a silk dress, a leather clutch and some knock-out heels.  Making the dress was a no-brainer (it was a sewing gathering after all!) but I decided that I would ‘have a go’ at making the leather clutch.  It was time to learn some new skills!

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With no real leather-making experience I trawled the internet and Pinterest for inspiration, tips and tricks.  I soon decided that a zippered clutch was out of the question as my sewing machine wasn’t fond of sewing leather… even if I used a leather needle, top stitching/embroidery thread and a long-stitch length.  I’ve since learned that a walking foot might solve all my problems… so I’ll be testing out that theory soon.

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As using a sewing machine wasn’t on the cards, punching the holes and hand stitching stitching it together was the next best option.  I’ve recently subscribed to Creativebug and the leather classes were really helpful.  Little tips like using craft glue to secure the two layers together before punching the holes, were gold.

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After checking out the leather on offer at the NSW Leather Company (they have a showroom in Collingwood) I ended up buying from The Fabric Store as they are able to cut some some hides and this magenta had my name on it!

I designed my clutch myself, ensuring that a mobile phone, credit-card sized purse, hankie and a room key would fit.  I mocked-up a paper version to test the size and then cut my leather with my trusty rotary cutter, quilter’s ruler & self healing mat.  The edge of the flap is actually the natural edge of the hide and I really like how it softens the whole look.

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My leather tools (hole punch, hammer & some other things for another project) were purchased at Leffler Leather.  Leffler’s also have a huge range of hides and let’s face it… all things leather!

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With my leather purchased, my how-to research completed and the template sorted…. well that just left the closure.  This is where my previous bag making experience (see here) came into play.  I opted for a small magnetic clasp which lead to a little bit of ‘making it up as you go’ crafting.

The clutch wasn’t going to be lined and the areas where the magnetic clasp are attached (remember there is a front and back to secure) requires interfacing.  My solution was a little square of leather sown on the inside of the flap, hiding everything underneath, and creating some decorative top stitching on the front.  I was pretty pleased with my solution… I mean design feature!

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The other on-the-fly decision was to add interfacing to a portion of the leather to give the clutch some much needed structure.  I have no idea about the ‘rules’ when it comes to interfacing and leather… I just did my own thing.  This is one of the benefits of being a newbie!  After testing it out on a scrap of leather, I ended up using 100% cotton fusible interfacing which is sometimes referred to as buckram but is I purchased it from Clegs under the brand/product name Shapeform.  I only added the interfacing to the section of the leather that became the inside of the clutch pocket (the bottom third of my piece of leather).

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Jillian also made a clutch for Frocktails (did I mention that I was in fine company?) and she stitched a thinner piece of leather to line the back of her clutch and add structure.  Something I’ll definitely keep in mind for next time.

I brought waxed linen thread for this project from Luccello.  I used orange for the design feature and a bright blue for the rest of the stitching.  If the truth be told, I’ll be looking for slightly thicker waxed linen for any future leather makes.  I used the smallest hole punch available and I would like the thread to ‘fill up’ those holes a little more than they did on this.

I can attest to having caught the leather making bug.  Currently, I’m dreaming about making a leather tote.  I wonder if it will become a reality?

Leather:  The Fabric Store
Leather Tools:  Leffler Leather
Thread:  Waxed Linen Thread from Luccello

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July 10, 2015 / Blogless Anna

Canberra Frocktails : The dress that stayed home

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In my first Canberra Frocktails post I eluded to the fact that my Plan A dress didn’t meet my expectations.  I’m after all, rather a fussy lass at times.  This is the vision I had in my head when I purchased the leather for my clutch and my shoes.

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The fabric is an old stash resident.  A lovely crepe de chine with an awesome print that I purchased on sale from Emma One Stock when US shipping rates were reasonable.

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The dress is one I’ve made this year… Pattern E ‘Blue Embroidery’ from Simple Style Dress by Machiko Kayaki.

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My first version was blogged last month.  I wrongly assumed that the silk would tame a little bit of the volume in the dress.  The front is fine, but there is just too many fabric in the back.  Maybe I just need to grown hump on my back?

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Two things I learnt making this dress:

  • Black thread is sometimes more invisible than cream!
  • Fancy glue (Vliesofix Tape) is fabulous for gluing binding in place before top stitching it down.

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So this dress didn’t make it to Frocktails in Canberra last month, but I must admit that distance does make the heart grow fonder.  When putting it on today for these photos I realised that it’s actually fine.  I suspect in the heat of our summer I’ll be reaching for this dress and pairing it with some flat sandals.

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Pattern:  Pattern E ‘Blue Embroidery’ from Simple Style Dress by Machiko Kayakih (Japanese language only)
Size: 
11
Fabric: 
Silk crepe de chine from Emma One Stock
Alterations:  NA
Accessories:  Handmade leather clutch, beads from Scarlet Jones and shoes purchased at Luisa

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