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Sunday, 12 July 2015

A Canberra Capsule Wardrobe #CBRFrocktails

I recently flew up to Canberra for the inaugural #CBRFrocktails and after a few false starts landing through the fog, was warmly greeted by the local sewing spoolettes, coffee and a sunny sky. 
Seven items proudly made by me ;)
Most importantly, what did I wear! Well, I took great delight in packing a small case with a co-ordinated selection of favourite RTW and new and favourite me-made items. Basing my daytime outfit around a pair of dark denim mid-waisted boot cuts (I found my 'perfect' RTW jean at the 11th hour before sewing a pair), I simply required a top each day to go under my Named Patterns' Saunio +/- layered with my teal Swoon cardigan. Two perfect workhorses that, conveniently layer beautifully together.

I tried to recreate the magic of my snuggly teal Swoon with a purple merino, however I can report back that only having 1.5m isn't enough - I have a cropped version that fits, but isn't as fabulous. I managed to fail to sew the sleeves incorrectly, again, there seems to be an extra right angle of fabric at the back shoulder that I can't place. It didn't make it into the capsule wardrobe.



Oh, you mean for Frocktails, the gala event of Saturday night?! What did I wear to meet a room of beautiful and talented seamstresses?
Following from my personal success at Sydney's Frocktails last year, I again went with an outfit based around a silk maxi skirt.
Catching up over bubbles was perfect.
I've loved this purple, grey, black and white geomentric print since I spotted, and nabbed, it at Rathdowne Remnants a few years ago. I had 3m, and used every last scrap.
What maxi skirt would give no spare change from 3m? Well, the distinctive swooshy 7 panels of the skirt and the angular pieces of the yoke might give the game away; yes this is Sewaholic's glorious Gabriola.
I have always adored the glamour of the Gabriola, but feared she & I were not to be, she's for curvy pear and hourglass girls and well, I'm a rectangle. I shouldn't have ignored her for so long, the sewalong over on the Sewaholic site had the answer all along, how to grade from a  size 12 waist to a size 8 hip - thank you.
In hindsight, I wish I'd fussy cut the yoke pieces first and had the horizontal lies flowing vertically, but I was focussed on getting the maxi length from my yardage and the yokes came second. I didn't shorten it, however I omitted the straight waistband (very frumpy on me) and this pulled it higher onto my natural waist.  In doing this I managed to remove an inch at CB, and a few cm from the side seams, so maybe I could have made a different size, although I'll consider a contoured waistband as well. My waist edge is enclosed and stabilised with black ribbon.
The black ribbon before the excess was trimmed
The lovely Helen brought her vintage "Helen Mirren" over to give me a neat narrow hem and I admit that I finished hand stitching the lining to the yoke while in Canberra.
I do wish the Gabriola sewalong had gone into a tad more detail about changing the waistband, using an invisible zipper, french seams and adding lining. I stabilised the yokes as I remembered reading many reports of the bias seams stretching, there's not a right angle to be seen!
It was SO good to chat to these lovely ladies again
To pair with my geometric skirt, I tried many silhouettes. In the end I settled on a classic, my third V1250, made with a slightly shiny grey/silver knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics, it's divine to wear and such a fabulous drape, look, I even have cleavage! ;)
Accessorised in hand crafted silver
 - necklace made by my talented DH
I also made a zipped pouch in silver pleather from Spotlight, I'm not quite brave enough to cut into a hide for a proper leather clutch yet, although I've been taking notes from Jillian and Anna as theirs are very covetable!
It's sized to fit my 10"tablet and to then fold over, fully lined and based on this tutorial.

For our Sunday brunch, I 'whipped up' another DrapeDrape2 #4 Asymmetrical draped top, yes the same top I wore as part of OneWeekOnePattern, it was my 5th version.
Two (Four) way stretch definitely helps with the comfort and fit, and with only 2 seams, a neckband and folded sleeve & hems, it took no time at all. This gorgeous navy viscose/spandex knit was snaffled for me by Lara, from Darn Cheap Fabrics, and it's really quite divine.
And with all of the craze about the Sydney jacket, I simply had to steal Jillian's from her back, not unlike what I did with Helen's, hmm, I see a trend here ;)
and finally:
Amanda is The Best Photobomber
Thank you SO much for a fabulous weekend Canberra!


Friday, 12 June 2015

Named Saunio

Such an unassuming blog post title for such a little workhorse of a cardigan.


Named Patterns released the Saunio cardigan in their SS14 All Things Nice Collection well over a year ago. I've seen it made up, by the always on-trend and stylish Kirsty of Top Notch, three times, however I never really noticed it, until now. Her third version, and Blogless Anna's, combined with Named's discount code for The Monthly Stitch's separates competition, tipped me over the edge, I wanted one, and I wanted it now.

I was in Spotlight for some thread, when this furry wool blend caught my eye. I had the purple thread for my frocktails skirt in my hand and my eyes were drawn to it, so what was a girl to do but look up the fabric requirements on the Named website and buy 1.2m. Umm, yes.. the fabric requirements do state:
Materials & supplies:
  • Fabric 115 – 175 cm / 46 – 69”
  • Facing (if other than the main fabric) 70 cm / 28”
I played pattern Tetris and managed to get all the pieces on in a single layer. There are no scraps.

Confession, this is a mock layout before I unfolded the fabric & made it work
on a single layer - am quite glad there was no nap.

I declared my love on Instagram and will do so again here - I adore the overlapping pieces of Named's .pdf layouts. There are 3 sizes nested, each with their own seam allowances and sewing lines charted, and only 12 pieces to tape together - my idea of heaven.

I'm a little bit sad to see that some of the current patterns are no longer overlapped, The cropped jacket Lourdes takes 28 A4 pages ;(, but 'everyone else' can rejoice and buy it with glee.
(The Asaka kimono is still overlapped, at 24 pages... I'll be converting it to copy shop format I think!)

I traced out full pattern pieces (I really prefer to never cut 'on the fold'), and tracing paper is SO much easier to store than taped A4 pages.

seam allowances and sewing lines printed for 3 sizes

I also love that when you buy Named patterns now, you get .pdfs for ALL the sizes (in different files, 2 sizes per file), I've not ventured into the world of Marfy as buying only one size doesn't appeal to me. I'm happy to buy patterns, but I'd like them in all the sizes I may be & not one that I've guessed might be mine. And yes, trying to decide if I'm a 'big' Vogue or a 'small' Vogue annoys me no end - yes, I'm the size smack bang in the middle & have to guess how much ease is in each designers version.


Saunio is a quick and easy little jacket which goes with everything, in fact, I've worn mine every day since making it, over dresses and with jeans and skirts. Yes, I will be making another, I've been quite impressed by how easy it is to wear.
This is a the 'medium' size 38-42 and I'm right in the middle of that range. If you're bigger through the bust or have more muscular forearms, it might be worth leaving larger seam allowances.


I really love how it works both draped and closed. I wasn't sure how it looked closed until I made it, and it crosses both R-L and L-R equally easily. I haven't added any snaps to keep it closed as my fabric grips itself just enough, especially when I have my satchel slung across my body on windy days!


This is a wool blend, it's got no mechanical stretch and has a tight, almost boucle weave to it. I omitted the facing's interfacing and added an extra line of topstitching 1cm from the front edge to give some structure to the edge but not the entire facing. It works well. 
I varied from the instructions when it came to hemming the facing and simply sewed it and the front together, then turned it to the inside before hemming the entire cardigan.



All it needs to be perfect is a little welt or patch pocket, maybe next time...

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!