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Monday, 20 April 2015

Sea Change Sea Change One Two Three !!!

I do love a top with interesting details, especially one that has fabulous drape from big pattern pieces, fits me without headaches, and where I can move about freely without readjusting it over the day.  Having bands to finish the hem and sleeves neatly and making it both woven and knit suitable ... I'm sold!

Introducing Lily Sage & Co's Sea Change Top.
The Sea Change top is loosely fitted, with wide kimono sleeves. The hem is designed to fall just below the natural waist for a modest, cropped look that will both complement and showcase high waist pants and skirts.

The top length can easily be lengthened through the top. The armbands and bottom hem band can also be altered in length for different looks.
Recommended fabrics:
Light to medium weight, drapey fabrics will be the most flattering choices for this top.
Options include knit fabrics like jersey. Cotton, viscose, and rayon are fibres that will all work well. Woven fabrics like silk satin, silk crepe de chine, and habutai will also suit this pattern.

I volunteered to Pattern Test this top for Lily Sage & Co, so a copy of the pattern and instructions were given to me in exchange for my feedback and I've since received a copy of the released pattern.
I used an Opp shop sourced stable knit for my tester version (my displeasure with it's intolerance to the iron was made on Instagram), and have since re-worked this to become the striped top. I'm still unhappy with the amount of poly in this mystery knit as it meant that I couldn't use fusible web to line up my stripes and assist with my twin needling, however it's had a surprising amount of wear and I will finish it off properly.


My second and much worn version is the yellow rayon that I dyed in the Arashi style. This top is a size M, widened to L at the waist. I lengthened this version and it's 49cm in total down the CF. The unaltered M is 45.2cm in length. My wardrobe doesn't have enough high waisted items (yet), so this length works really well with my low-mid rise jeans and pants. The neck binding is purchased cotton bias binding from stash, a pattern piece for self-bias is included.


My grey (third) version is an XS in bust size and length and an M in waist circumference. It also has narrower sleeve and hem bands as I was eking the top from a length of silk-cotton from Darn Cheap. The bias neck binding was cut from a piece of 'koala' grey/brown rayon and it behaved beautifully, I can see more rayon binding in my future. This version is to wear with my high rise black pants & it works very well.
Sea Change is a perfect pattern to showcase an amazing piece of fabric, it has a front and a back, and I found that if I had 2 pieces of 50cm in length and 80cm across, I could make a version with contrast sleeves and hem band. If I only had one piece, I could use a contrasting back - with straight seam lines, those silk remnants in my stash are looking like they've found a project.
Inside 3 Sea Change Tops
Lengthening at the body and adjusting the hem and sleeve bands was very simple. Instructions are clear, have diagrams and include useful reminders such as stay stitching necklines and stabilising shoulder seams. I found basting the long edges of the bands on my overlocker to be very efficient as they were then neat and I could use that row of stitching to line up my seam line as I attached them to the garment body.

From Saturday's post where I talk about dyeing the yellow version:
I adore the sleeves, both on their own with their perfect breeziness for summer, and as a layering piece over a fitted top for Melbourne's autumn. In regard to questions of potential visible side boobage, I've found that the volume of drapey fabric collapses onto itself in normal wear, so I feel quite secure. I do love these sleeves.
SeaChange is available now at Lily Sage & Co, with a discount this week

Better learn balance. Balance is key. Balance good, karate good. Everything good. Balance bad, better pack up, go home.
Oh those magnificent sleeves, how I adore them!

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Dyeing for a Sea Change 1 - my experiment in dyeing rayon

I have just had my first experiments with procion dyes. (in contrast to hot water dyeing which I've never been terribly good at)

This glorious yellow rayon was the first solid rayon I found at Spotlight a year or 2 ago. I had great visions of a summery dress, however it is, rather, yellow-gold... Lovely to feel, nice and drapey, but, far to overwhelmingly yellow for a dress for me. So, inspired by all of the indigo workshops that have been filling my Pinterest feed, and Nicki's solar dyeing for One Year One Outfit, I set out to learn a little bit about dyeing.
Rayon is a cellulose fibre, like cotton and linen, so procion dyes with a Soda Ash pretreatment seemed to be the way forward. I found the instruction sheets on KraftKolours' website to be really useful, so I obtained Sodium Carbonate (Soda Ash) from the supermarket, pre-soaked some linen and the rayon, then ventured out to KraftKolour, a local dyeing supplier(This isn't an ad, I have no affiliations with anybody & my only other link to local dyeing suppliers has relocated to the country)

The staff at KraftKolour were fabulous - really knowledgeable and enthusiastic with sharing their knowledge, able to meet me where I was (theory rich with zero experience), and with no hard selling. I purchased the primary colours, and black, and a bottle of Dynazol rinse off. And 2 small sets of perspex resists, a circle and a hexagon.

That the primary red was a pink had perplexed me and I'm still not 100% sure on the chemistry involved, but I've got a better understanding of why; and more importantly, to mix it with yellow for a scarlet or 'paint primary' red.
While looking up 'dyeing recipes', I found the visuals of the Dreamline Textile Painting Recipes  to be very valuable as there were actual colours, and not just names of colours. (Memo to Bendigo Woollen Mills, Malachite is green, not blue, just saying...). My primary colours are closest to the first table (mine are in brackets)
I was aiming for an oriental/eastern red (a brownish red), so I followed the directions for the colour described as "quartz" which were 40%yellow (KK MX8G), 40%ruby (KK MX8B) & 20%turquoise (KK MX4-GD).
Reserving the right to add black (KK MX2R) if needed.
Assembling my supplies
I adore Shibori, the Japanese word encompassing the art of manipulating fabric to resist the uptake of dye, often seen in stunning Indigo blues and white. I indulged, in a beginning manner, my love for all of the Japanese resist dyeing techniques, on my pieces of yellow rayon. Next time I hope to do some stitched resists as well. The tutorial at Honestly WTF: Shibori Dye was invaluable for visualising the steps to take in folding my fabric for dyeing. In choosing which resist techniques I would try, I was particularly inspired by the textile artist Kaizen Journey, such gorgeous patterns using three densities of dark blue, and I appreciated seeing the folded fabric before and after dyeing.

I adore the Arashi 'storm' pole wrapping technique and attempted it on my largest piece. Tightly binding the rayon around the piece of pvc pipe on the bias did stretch it off grain however. It was the quickest and most relaxed of the techniques I sampled.
My test crease = yes I like the patterns created by wrapping it tightly around the pipe
I concertina folded each of my other pieces, ironing each crease and attempting to get them fairly even. I wanted the 2 longest pieces to be near-identical and after concertina folding them again into a square, I clamped them with rectangular blocks of wood. These are the 2 in the most bottom left of the image below. The grey linen is also folded this way - the piece of linen is much smaller than the rayon, yet the finished parcel is about the same.
all prepared and ready to be dyed
For some variety, I used 2 circular perspex 'resists' under the wood blocks for the circles design (the red clamp). The 2nd concertina folds were doubled and it shows in the depth of colour on the finished pattern. I'll stick to folding one layer at a time in future.
The final piece was folded into triangles and a hexagon resist was placed off centre, on one of the triangles' sides, this is the floral design (the triangles above).
The bucket! Awaiting the dye
My dye bath musings led me to the following (possibly wildly inaccurate) concentrations. For a strong colour, 5g dye to 100g dry fabric, 20g dye to 400g dry fabric in 300g tepid water initial concentration, plus 4L. 8g dye needs 100g salt, diluted 1:20. (Yes, I was just thinking/typing aloud)
I poured my dye bath down the wrapped pole and into the bucket where the other fabric was waiting.
After 20min, I added tepid salty water and left them all for another 30min.

I could have left them in the dye bath for much longer, and had initially intended to wrap the pole in plastic overnight, however excitement got the better of me and I placed them in a solution of tepid water and Dyzanol rinse off (2mls/L) for 20min, unwrapping and releasing them from their bindings during this time. At the very centre of the rectangular resist, the rayon was still dry.

L-R: 2xRectangle wood resists, circular resist, Arashi, triangular hexagon & sample grey linen rectangle at back
That I hadn't left them long enough can be seen in the blue/dark tinges of the burgundy dye, especially on the Arashi piece. The different aspects of the mixed dye hadn't finished progressing through the fabric. Fortunately I quite like the effect ;)
I was nicely surprised that the washing machine rinse water (after the initial soaking in tepid water) was barely coloured, such a change from when I've played with dyes in the past!

There was a method to my madness in pre-cutting my rayon, each piece was the right size for a pattern piece for Lily Sage & Co's new pattern The Sea Change Top. In the end, I used the undyed yellow rayon for the top's bands and really like the effect.

Sewing the Sea Change Top was a pleasure, so much so that I did it twice ;) I was a pattern tester for this top as, besotted by Debbies two amazing versions, I knew I really wanted some of them in my wardrobe and volunteered for testing. I've got third top just cut out, so I'll let Sea Change have a post all of it's own soon.

fabulous sleeves and photobomber
I adore the sleeves, both on their own with their perfect breeziness for summer, and as a layering piece over a fitted top for Melbourne's autumn. In regard to questions of potential visible side boobage, I've found that the volume of drapey fabric collapses onto itself in normal wear, so I feel quite secure. I do love these sleeves.
SeaChange is available now at Lily Sage & Co, with a discount this week.

and I am very excited about both Shibori resist dyeing and Indigo vat workshops to be run by KraftKolour later this year!

Monday, 9 March 2015

Sunny Summer in the Seventies

This is a dress of my childhood, a vintage pattern, sewn in fabric possibly older than it is ;)
I can imagine my mum, grandmas & aunts wearing lightweight loose dresses like this during summer in the 1970's. They're not common in family photographs as most pictures were taken during celebrations when everyone was more dressed up, but I'm sure I remember dresses like these as 'house dresses'.

I was given this lightweight yellow cotton from my lovely MILs stash. I think it's from when they were living in the tropics in the early 1970's. It's delightfully smooth and cool to touch, however it's been maturing for a while as I couldn't picture it as anything. Then, I was browsing my shirt dress collection, the sleeves on view 2 of Style1578 circa 1976 jumped out at me and declared, "our time has come again, make us now!" So I did.
I made View 2 sleeveless, size 12, 34" bust
I wore this to a family birthday (it was summer and 40C) and mum took one look & knew the era I was unashamedly revisiting.
The collar in its full 1976 glory
I did make a concession to current fashion by not including the 70's winged collar. Don't get me wrong, I only narrowed it 2cm before attaching it & polling IG - well, ok, I'd already researched 1940's collars & minimised one side before putting a pic up. I do love the 70's but I can't quite carry off the collar, not even in a print of the era.

Basted and pinned to check for fit
This shirtdress has a yoke rather than shoulder seams and I wasn't sure how I should adjust it for my forward shoulders, so I didn't. I could have taken some width out of the bodice front, the gathers aren't quite right. And that 70's collar hid them better...
I do love a single sized pattern for the it's clarity and beauty, this dress is size 12 for a 34" 87cm bust, 26 1/2" 67cm waist and 36" 92cm hips. I widened the CB by 2cm for the first 17cm under the back yoke, and again from 52cm for my hips.
a detail of the sleeves;
I love the simplicity of the vintage single size pattern with its marked stitching line, anatomical and cutting details
I also dropped the side seam pockets down 15cm to sit where they are most comfortable, and as they're making no effort to be inconspicuous with their top stitching, I increased their size as well. They're good pockets and very handy.
The original pocket pattern piece, my extended piece, and at the top, the new placement
I also love vintage patterns for their illustrated instructions. Lots of basting.

I took great delight in putting the buttons & buttonholes just where I wanted them. I also deliberately chose to place my buttonholes in the horizontal axis. I know there's often debate about strain and vertical versus horizontal buttonholes - I believe the conclusion is that horizontal are for coats, while are vertical for shirts as shirts are tucked in. I don't tuck shirts or shirt dresses in, so there's little vertical pulling, which allows me to choose horizontal placement.
I also like horizontal as it gives me a smidge more stretch between different bras without gaping, and I dislike the bulge of strained vertical buttonholes.
And in the instructions for this 1976 shirtdress pattern? it opts for horizontal "worked or machine" buttonholes as well ;)

The just-above knee hem transformed this from 'frumpy summer sack' to 'cute summer vintage dress' and it's a great length for ease of wear. The big, double folded 70's hem gives a nice weight too. - Jillian, I like a 38" length!
The front button placket is folded in three, mainly as I used the selvage and preferred to fold it twice rather than cut it off & finish the edges.
My buttonholer preferred the three layers too ;)


Monday, 9 February 2015

Japan Sew Along: Muslins and DD2#4 the fourth

I do love Japanese Pattern Books and Magazines, and I have quite the collection...
So, joining the Second Japan Sew Along over at Tanoshii seems a natural fit ;)
This post covers the first 3 weeks. I've been following along and chatting on Instagram, being inspired by the community's discussions and progress to date.
Basic Black semifitted shirt bodice as a top
Japan Sew Along, schedule (january 26 – march 9, 2015)
The weekly meetings of the sew along will take place on Monday when I will publish my article here on „Tanoshii“. 
Montag, january 26, 2015 Do you already have experiences with japanese sewing patterns, or is it the first time you are stepping into this field? Do you already have concrete plans, or are you still looking for inspiration? --- For all those who live in the northern hemisphere: What are your ideas for styling the light blouses and tunics to make them wearable in winter?

A photo posted by Nic (@maci_nic) on
Montag, february 2, 2015 Which pattern did you chose? Do you already know which fabric to use for it?
I have many Japanese pattern books/magazines, mainly as I adore browsing through them for inspiration. I'm definitely most inspired by the more unusual designs, I adore the Drape Drape series by Hikato Sato and Shape Shape by Natsuno Hiraiwa. 
I'm quite happy that I fit into the L/XL sizing of many of them. I did make my 2nd DD2#4 with the stretch running lengthwise and it required an additional 4cm of ease over my hips, so I'd say it's really  drafted for hips of 38". 
Montag, february 9, 2015  The pattern is prepared. Are you planning alterations? Do you already have the fabrics? Will it be necessary to make a muslin, or are you brave and cut “good” fabric?
To 'cleanse my palate' and remind myself why I adore Japanese sewing patterns, I made a quick DD2#4, my fourth version of this pattern, and it was as delightful as my previous versions.
The grey striped fabric is so wonderfully soft, although those stripes have no relationship to the grain of the fabric in any way.
I also used the semi-fitted bodice (K) from BasicBlack, which I've previously made up as a cotton shirt, to make a 3/4 sleeve top in a stable cotton knit to check my fit. This is the size M bust (cut on a CF fold), graded out to XL at the waist & hips, with the darts unsewn.
The book is the Octonauts and the Sea of Shades, it matches my top!
Both of these books are in English in my library, so I felt it would be prudent to revisit them before I tackled a pattern from one of my Japanese only books.
A very familiar pattern piece ;) DD2#4
 I'm still undecided about which pattern I will choose next (does that take me back to Feb 2nd?)
#1: As it is finally warm here, I have thought about making Top a/1 from Shape Shape 1, in a divine blue Liberty that I've been procrastinating about sewing with. The attached contrast scarf will be in a well loved silk that is worthy of the Liberty.
I'll use my Basic Black bodice overlaid on the Shape Shape #1 #1 top to confirm that the top will fit me and then cut it out.
If I choose to also make a top from 'she has a mannish style'  or 'I am cute dress book' (yes, I like #21 'I am shift into tunic'), I will use the same method of checking for pattern ease before cutting my fabric.
Option #2 is #11 'square cut and sewn' from 'she has a mannish style' and I think there will be several versions of this sewn during this Sew Along. I have a Japanese cotton (very stable) knit earmarked for a light summery top.
And #3 is from Drape Drape 1, top 12 'drawstring detail drape top'. I cut this out in a very stretchy knit at Sewaway last year and it was ridiculously large. I've tissue fitted the pattern and removed 2" of ease from each side seam and have a gorgeous reversible striped knit that is looking for a pattern to showcase both sides.
and one day I'll score a photo shoot without strong wind... one day...
....more to come in a few Mondays... or on march 9 ;)
Montag, february 16, 2015 Have you started already? Would you like to share your first experiences with the pattern and the fit?
Montag, february 23, 2015 Current state I: Is your first project ready? Are you planning another one? Or are you stuck and need some help and advice? Do you like your garment and its fit? Or does it need alterations? Are you satisfied with the fabric and pattern size you chose? How are you going to style and wear it? Will you need shirt/jacket/pants to combine?
Montag, march 2, 2015 Current state II: Share your progress! Do you like it more after making some alterations? --- Or did you sew another piece?
Montag, march 9, 2015 Finale and conclusion: More japanese sewing?
Some remarks for those who share their sewing projects on Instagram: Please use the hashtag #2015jsa so we can all find your contributions and tag @stoffbuero so I don’t miss any! Thanks!

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Jungle January 2015 - V1347 Rucci PJs

It's Jungle January again over at Safari central!
Last year I sewed up my snow leopard-ish surf top and this year I was so busy frolicking on my Tiki beach that I completely forgot!
Hmm.. or did I...
I went on a delightful safari, past the hippo's and into a pineapple grove where I donned the native vegetation for a hike amongst some towering palms and all the ingredients for a divine cocktail.
Feeling a little 'glow' (horses sweat, men perspire, ladies glow) I dived into the silver waves and basked among the pink sails until a lovely native lass brought me more drinks in coconuts and showed me to my beach hut where I could retire for a little siesta...
Clearly I needed something appropriate for my rest, so I whipped up this delightful pair of rayon PJs, Rucci of course, inspired by the tiny owls I could see fluttering around.
It was a tad chilly when I woke to find my hut gone and the stars twinkling overhead, so I grabbed the nearest furry thing I could find, kindly left by one of my jungle friends, and donned a top that they'd all clearly autographed, then dashed for home.
All photographic evidence was on film that didn't survive the experience, so here's my sole pic ...
Pineapple Culottes, Tiki Tankini, Rucci Owl PJ bottoms, Basic Black Shadow print top, Furry wrap.

Owl Rayon, Furry wrap backing and Shadow top fabric all from Darn Cheap fabrics (DCF)

Pattern V1347 by Ralph Rucci, size 16 modified: PJs, so I didn't line them or add the zipped fly. They're shortened by 10cm and have 1 inch hems. My pattern only goes to size 14, so they're sized up from there. Apart from being deliciously comfortable & soft rayon PJs, with pockets (v.important!), they were a muslin for my geometric purple silk - the jury's still out on which pattern I'll use for it.
I finished the waist with elastic and ribbon.
Pockets in the forward side seam, not on my hip.
I was hoping for a 1920's or 1930's beachwear feel to my 'cats' pyjamas' (Thanks Catja) and they are so soft and swishy to wear, completely different to the linen image on the pattern envelope. I do enjoy wearing them, although as DH remarked, they are 'quite wide' and I'm not sure that I have the height to wear them well. Don't be surprised if an 'out of the house' version appears at some stage :)

Yes, I've made a Rucci sarong & now PJs.... not sure if it's his vision..


My furry wrap is a 150x40cm rectangular piece of faux fur (so, so, so soft!) from a Clegs remnant sale, finally backed with a random textured fabric from DCF with ties. Pattern inspiration is from the Alabama Chanin knit wrap (in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design)

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Swimming into 2015 with a Tiki Tankini (Mary & M6623)

My tiki beach huts on my bikini bits
Swimmers, bathers, togs... An essential part of an Australian summer, but how mine have changed in the past 10 years! I've always been more of the 'can I body surf in them' view rather than the 'urgh, tan lines, be gone' view, however the blissful weeks spent bush camping in no more than a bikini, sunscreen & hat have morphed into hats, rash vests & shade, and 'will it fall down/off if a toddler tugs too hard'.
This time last year I used Cake's Cabarita top pattern to sew a beach top in a spongy swimming knit and it's had almost constant beach use since ;)

Casual swimming times at the local indoor pool require less spf (sun protection factor) friendly attire though, so I thought I'd best add some more traditional bathers to my wardrobe.
I adore last season's Seafolly collections, tankinis, malliots, oh my! and the current Gorman range is so much fun & seems so comfy - chip anyone?
I was very excited to spot some Seafolly fabrics at Rathdowne Remnants! They're lighter weight than my other stashed swimming fabric (orange stripes from The Fabric Store) and the designs are perfectly me ;) The tiki is 'South Pacific' & the navy ropes are 'Coastline in Indigo'

I realised as I browsed the pattern books in Clegs that swimwear isn't a staple of the Big 4's offerings and that it's not easy to find; is it sportswear (Simplicity)? accessories? lingerie (Burda)? intimates +/- sleepwear (really Butterick)? activewear (McCalls)? costume? womenswear/misses (then swimwear, thank you KwikSew). I still failed to find any Vogue or New Look...
To the indies; I have the ClosetCaseFiles Bombshell. My Bombshell remains incomplete, I don't think the ruching is for me, and the solid navy I chose isn't quite me either, so I'm not really motivated to finish it ;)
In the lingerie section, I can see the vintage potential of OhhLouLou's Bambi bra & MeasureTwiceCutOnce's Mary knickers.
To the pattern stash I went... Classics, all.

So I made a bikini, from my lingerie patterns.
The Mary bottoms are awesome, they're proper boy leg hipsters, stay put & are comfy. They've had almost constant wear since their first surf outing in December.
with my messy tilted pelvis/booty hack; it works though as the waist sits straight when on.
I did have to add a 7cm CB height adjustment as a 'booty' fix and that works for me, I cut the size 14 & used 6mm seam allowances on my overlocker, reinforced with a narrow zigzag just inside the overlocked stitches.
I sacrificed the Bambi bra strap for the Mary hack, so the top doesn't exist anymore as it needed tweaking anyway ;)
I ventured into the treasure cave that is Trimmings 'n' Remnants for swimming bra cups, lining & elastic. There are crates of bra cups and my only hint to the next adventurer is to remember that holding each likely suspect up to check the fit while wearing a bra, is perhaps, not so helpful...
I brought 3 pairs home, all different shapes, and the ones that worked best when braless, were my 3rd choice...
Cup stitched to lining, then sandwiched between lining & outer
So, with my Mary knickers extended 10cm to sit on my waist, a feature that is invisible when worn as a set, yet looks cute as a retro bikini and has added tummy coverage for boogie boards, I chose a tankini pattern. Meet McCall's 6623, a Carefree TM pattern, released in 1979.
I chose view A, adding the bra cups & widening the straps to a finished width of 2cm. My straps were 48cm long.
I sewed a size 14 (36" bust), narrowed the pattern at CB (by 6cm!) after a muslin of lining, & took the underarm seams in 2cm on each side after basting the side seams. I think swimwear fabric is a lot more stretchable now ;)
Pattern placement was a hoot!! Ignore the pointy Mary waist, it wasn't required.
Construction was straightforward with both patterns' instructions. My only hiccup came at the 11th hour when, being over confident, I was finishing my seams on the overlocker and sliced off the bottom corner of the left bodice triangle, sigh... Required re-doing of the twin needle topstitching as well as a tuck to reattach bodice to front - sigh..
I initially toyed with fully lining the suit, however I followed both patterns' instructions & only the bra cups & crotch are lined.
For my next pair of vintage high waist bottoms, I'll use a top waistband in the style of the tankini straps. I may still add one to these, however they sit smoother under the tankini without it. I've got enough fabric to make the Bambi top for a 'proper' vintage styled bikini, however I'm more tempted to make an updated 'rash vest' for the rest of this summer ;)
Just focus on the glorious beach at low tide
yes, it was very windy, blissful otherwise.
With my swimsuit fabric being 150cm wide, I can make a pair of high waisted bikinis, or a tankini with hipster bottoms from 60cm (depending on the pattern matching desired). This full tankini set took 1.1m. Less fabric is necessary for hipster Mary's with the Bambi bra.
Layout: ignore the dodgy perspective & focus ;)