Monday, 9 December 2013

Spots on Simplicity 2444 & a spot of fabric shopping

I didn't get a chance to do any sewing this weekend as I went to Melbourne to catch up with an old friend and then on to Geelong for a double family celebration.  I did take the opportunity to visit 2 fabric shops though - more on that at the bottom of this post.

This dress is Simplicity 2444, I wore it to work today.  There are loads and loads and loads of them on sewing blogs.  I made this version just over a year ago when I got back into sewing after a long break.  This pattern is one of the first patterns I stumbled across on the internet one day and got me back into sewing.

More specifically, it was this amazing version by Dapper Duds.  Fantastic fabric, a great fit and exceptional finishing on the inside - perfect!  Mine is not so perfect, but I happily wear it anyway.

The fabric is from The Fabric Store.  I bought it because I liked it, but it was actually on sale (tick) as the fabric had some flaws which I was able to cut around.  On the subject of cutting I had a lot of luck with this dress.  As it was one of the first I made in a long time I totally forgot that I might need to match the circles and did not give this any thought when cutting the fabric.

The circles must be printed pretty much on grain though as I was fortunate that they matched pretty well in the key places - the back zip area and front skirt seam phew. 

I put in an invisible zip - my first zip in several years and I was pretty relieved at how it went in. 

Here's a closer pic of the bottom of the zip and into the skirt back with some not so great circle matching, but its the back skirt and I don't see it so I don't care.

These photos were taken at the end of the day and I didn't iron the dress before I took them.  You can see some wrinkles in the above pic, but in general the fabric gets through the day without much crinkling.  If I hang the dress carefully after washing I can get way without ironing it - depending on how lazy I feel...

My fit is OK, there is extra fabric at the neckline that could have been removed, but again as it was early days in my return to sewing I didn't give this any thought. 

Despite my measurements more closely matching a 12 for the top and a 16 for the waist and hips I cut a 10 for the top and graded to a 12 at the waist.  I did this firstly because in my naive return to sewing state I thought how dare this pattern think I am 3 sizes above my RTW size and secondly because the pattern only went up to size 12!  In the end the only place I made any fit adjustments was the side seams where I reduced the seam allowance at the waist seam - there were a few moments when I thought the seam allowance would not have enough fabric to create a seam that fitted at the waist, but I just scrapped through - phew again.

The inside of my dress is not too bad for the facings, but in general no where near as fabulous as Dapper Duds - with its french and bias bound seams and facings. Now I am back into the swing of sewing again I am keen to work more on this aspect in future dress makes.

PART B: As is usual these days on trips I grabbed the opportunity on the weekend to visit some fabric shops.

First up was Darn Cheap Fabrics in Heidelberg.  Handily, I get to drive right past this shop when travelling to my parents from the airport.  I got the 2 bottom fabrics here.

The fabric on the left is a sateen and the smaller yellow diamonds are a neon yellow colour.  This is going to be a sleeveless shift dress.  The orange spotted fabric on the right is a silk, the spots are a very bright neon orange (memo to me: learn to use camera better).  This fabric is going to be some kind of top.

Lastly the top fabric is from the Dr Seuss range for some more pj bottoms for the kids.  I got this fabric from Joys Fabric Warehouse in Geelong, which by another handy turn of fate is just over a block from my sister's house in Geelong.  I was recently introduced to this shop by Blogless Anna and Boo Dogg and Me.  My life was made for fabric shopping!


Monday, 2 December 2013

Kelly the First

This is the first Kelly skirt I made, my other is detailed in this post.

I get quite a few comments about this skirt, which is mainly due to the fabric.  Its a cotton drill that I got from Spotlight in Wollongong when we went there for the weekend earlier in the year.  A lot of people comment on the colours, which was what drew me to the fabric.

I used the same construction methods as my other Kelly, including french side seams and bias bound pockets.  For this version I also added a hook and eye at the bottom of the waistband as the fabric is not as stiff as my other version and gaps here a bit.

You can see in this photo that the fabric quality is not quite the same as my other version and its already fading/wearing, which is such a shame as I really like the fabric.  You can also see I wasn't able to achieve the same quality of button holes that I did on my other version, particularly the first one on the placket which I unpicked several times as the automatic function did not like the bulk in this area.  I ended up doing it manually.

The other addition I forgot to mention in my previous post on this skirt is that I added 4 belt carriers to the waistband so I can use a belt.  Apart from liking the look of the belt, it also helps pull in the waist band at the back where it gaps a bit owing to the fact that the waistband is a rectangle.  The rectangle waistband keeps this skirt really simple for beginners and I don't mind wearing a belt.  I made the 4 carriers in pink and attached them at the pleats.  I used this great tutorial from Coletterie to make the carriers. 

Did you happen to notice my bangles in the top pic? I saw Sandra wearing them in the final of the Great British Sewing Bee and googled 'Sandra Great British Sewing Bee Bangle'.  I actually couldn't believe it when the facebook site for Bee Jewellery came up.  Bee Jewellery gave some great customer service and sent them to me in Australia.  I ordered 2 for me and 2 for my mum.  I get a lot of comments on the bangles too. 


Sunday, 24 November 2013

A cat in Adelaide & a drift of pigs in Sydney

Last weekend we were fortunate to take a quick trip to Adelaide without the kids.  We lived there for a year about 5 years ago so it was really nice to visit old places and catch up with good friends.  While it rained all weekend in Sydney, we were enjoying this kind of weather.

Henley Beach, Adelaide SA

Having been sewing again in ernest for about a year now I try to take the opportunity when I get away to visit fabric shops.  I really wanted to check out Catwalk Fabrics as I had heard about it when I lived in Adelaide but never visited it.  The shop is located in Brompton and has a lovely selection of fabrics.

I purchased 2 pieces, both are knits and I unfortunately can't remember the exact fabric types.  I really should pay more attention to the fabric type when I buy them so I can detail it on here!

According to the receipt the multi coloured fabric is viscose.  Its light weight and I imagine will be a bit clingy, but I love the colours.  Am thinking I might make another drop waist kirsten kimono dress similar to this.

The blue on blue spots is a medium weight stable knit which has stripes on the back of the fabric.  I got enough to make a top and am thinking I will use the stripe side for some bindings.


Adelaide often gets a rough time in Australia as not a great place to live or visit.  But don't believe it.  It was fantastic to see Kristiann from Victory Pattern's great blog post a couple of days ago saying how great SA is - check out those pics! If you haven't been there you should.  Just one more pic of me and Mr Ernest Flagg this time at Glenelg - look at the colour of the water!


This weekend was the complete opposite - Elvis and I and a couple of friends from Mum's Group went to Peppa Pig at the Sydney Opera House.  Elvis was most excited and loved the show.  The night before I decided to make him a new shirt to wear as a surprise.  I made a long sleeve tee - the Flashback Skinny Tee as it fits him well.  He's 3 and a half, but small for his age.  Currently the size 2 fits him quite nicely, although looking at the pic at the bottom of this post it could do with a bit of extra length in the sleeves and at the hem. 

I made the front from some mustache knit from Girl Charlee that was in my stash and used a black combed cotton knit from Spotlight (also in my stash) for the back and sleeves.  I thought the mustaches suited the Peppa Pig occasion.

I used black ribbing for the neck binding and added an inch to the recommended length for size 2 to allow for my sons quite sizeable head. I used my twin needle for the neck binding, hem and sleeves. 

This is such a fantastic pattern, it goes together easily and quickly.  Here's a pic of Elvis wearing his new top on the way to see Peppa.


Thursday, 21 November 2013

Something old & Something new - Simplicity 3887 & Megan Nielsen Kelly Skirt

Yesterday was a great Sydney day after quite a bit of rain and I was lucky to grab some pics of this outfit.

I made the top - Simplicity 3887 about 5 or so years ago when I first moved to Sydney.  I had made it up twice before when I was living in Adelaide with fabric from Spotlight.  But for this one I used a white spotted cotton from Tessuti.  The artwork on the front of the pattern gave me hope, even though the photography is not my cup of tea.

I made version F, but added cuffs on the short sleeves and left off the waist tie.  For the hem I did a facing a couple of inches wide.  The overall look was based on similar tops in Country Road at the time.  I quite like this make, although the sleeve cuffs are just a bit tight to allow easy movement. 

I made the skirt - Megan Nielsen Kelly Skirt recently.  The fabric is from The Fabric Store, I bought it earlier in the year at a 40% off sale.  Its 100% cotton and a nice medium weight.  I cut a medium which generally matches my measurements.  The waistband is a snug fit and perhaps the pleats pull a bit at the back but I am fine with how it looks. 

As everyone in the blogisphere knows, this pattern has pockets - nice!

I am really happy with the quality of my stitching on this make.  Its nice to make something well within your comfort zone construction wise and then spend a bit of extra time on techniques.

Some of my best top stitching and buttonholes.  I used the automatic buttonhole function on my machine, but needed to do manual button holes on the waistband and for the top buttonhole on the placket as the fabric was too thick in these areas to allow the automatic thingee do what it does best.

I don't own an overlocker, but this is a great pattern for making everything neat on the inside.  I bound the pocket seams with bias binding and also did french seams for the side seams.  These are things I had never done before I started reading sewing blogs.  Am sure I saw this skirt done with these techniques somewhere, but unfortunately can't remember where to provide the credit. 

I also used a lighter weight cotton to face the pockets so I didn't end up with too much bulk.

The inside of this skirt makes me very happy:)

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Oh The Places You'll Go! PJs

Here's some PJs I made my son in fabric from Dr Seuss Oh The Places You'll Go range.  I was given the book by a good friend when we were leaving the Kimberley region of NW Australia to move to Cairns in the Far North Queensland region of Australia.  Its a really great book for both kids and adults, and I sourced this fabric as my son is pretty keen on Dr Seuss books.

I got the fabric from Hawthorne Threads for about $10.00 a yard, but they don't seem to have it in stock anymore.  You can still get both fabrics for this price from, a lot cheaper than the around $20 a metre Dr Seuss fabrics retail for at Spotlight in Australia.

They are basic pj's with a straightforward elastic waist, so there is not much to say about them.  I particularly like this pattern - Simplicity 3584 as it is a nice fit for my son who is on the leaner side.  Looks like it is OOP now, but you can buy it on ebay.

Here's a pic of my son 'Elvis' ('the eldest') modelling the pjs - i think he likes them.


Sunday, 10 November 2013

The $3.85 (or so) Kirsten Kimono Tee Dress

I finished this dress this afternoon, though I have not hemmed the bottom as I am still deciding if I will leave it as is.

This make started like many of the things I make - with me admiring a RTW dress that one of my friends was wearing at a fabulously fun BBQ arvo last weekend.  The RTW dress is this one from Country Road.  As I was admiring it I commented out loud that I could make something like that, but didn't really think I would get on to it quickly.

Following the BBQ I was doing some catchup blog reading and saw this post from Makizy Sews on the MariaDenmark Kirsten Kimono Tee.  I have seen this tee several times on blogs before but for some strange reason had not added it to my to make list.  When I saw Makizy's it occurred to me that I could easily add a drop waist skirt and viola.

Next to find some fabric.  I do like the idea of a plain back dress (maybe next time), but found a great sweater knit from Girl Charlee Fabrics in my stash.  It was on sale at the time I purchased it and not knowing exactly what sweater knit would be I purchased 1 yard for $3.85.  I was expecting something heavy'ish and although when I got it it was lightweight I liked it a lot anyway.

On to the dress.  I cut a BM which pretty much aligns to my measurements.  Made up it is a pretty snug fit, but I am happy with it.  I was interested to see when doing some research before sewing that Sarah from Sew Squirrel said she forgot to add the seam allowances and got a great fit too.  That's what I call versatile!

Although I cut the BM size generally, for the length I just went with the biggest size.  Then when I had constructed the top I tried it on and decided which of the stripes I wanted to have as the seam line for the skirt and cut off an inch and a quarter (note to reader: I tend to use both metric and imperial measurements at different times throughout my sewing).  Using the wrists of the Country Road model as a guide I thought I could potentially cut a bit more off the bottom of the tee but I didn't want to go too far and then regret it.  Next time I will shorten the tee part perhaps an inch or two more.

For the skirt I just cut 2 rectangles as big as I could with the material I had left over (I also may or may not have measured twice, but cut wrong and therefore the rectangles ended up slightly smaller than they could have been (grrRRR cutting at 10pm...).  They ended up about 82cm X 9 and a half inches.  Given the bottom of the front and back of the tee was about 50cm wide I just decided to go with gathering and stitching them on.  I had been thinking of going for around one and a half times the width of the bottom of the tee for the gathered skirt - close enough I thought.  I think the gathering of the skirt worked out fine, but next time I will probably stick to the ratio of about 1 and a half to the width of the bottom as the gather was pretty full and I had to be careful when sewing it on not to catch the gathers.

The skirt turned out a bit short, which I knew it would as I only had a yard of fabric.  So I hit The Remnant Warehouse yesterday hoping to find a plain blue knit that matched to add some extra length.  I didn't really think I would be successful, but found a sports knit that looked ok.  It reminds me of the fabric sports clothes are made from for primary school kids.  It is heavier than the sweater knit but works ok.  I can't remember the cost, but it wasn't much - I got 30cm and used half.  So I consider this dress to be the $3.85 or so dress - yahoo, oops did I mention the Kimono Tee is a free download when you sign up for the MariaDenmark newsletter.  Thank you Maria!

I am not so happy with the neck as another cutting mistake issue meant I didn't have enough fabric to do a continuous binding along a stipe.  So I made the binding with a seam in the middle and lined the seam up with one of the shoulder seams and left the other shoulder unsewn.  I then attached the binding without measuring, but it looks like I have pulled the biding a bit tight and I didn't end up with a boat neck kind of look (interestingly though it kind of looks like the neckline of the CR dress).  I hope to improve this next time.  Sorry no close up pic of the neck on me, forgot to get one and unfortunately the top pic does not show it very well.

Neck binding join in shoulder seam

Some other things I did that were not in the instructions was to reinforce the shoulder seams with knit stay tape given I was adding a skirt.  I also added binding to the sleeves instead of turning them under and hemming.  I used my twin needle for neck and arm bindings.

All in all am very happy with this make and will definitely be making another dress, as well as several tees.  The nice thing too is that if/when I don't want the drop waist dress anymore I can refashion it back to the tee.

My photographer is away at the moment and I couldn't find the tripod, so thought I would post a pic of my 'make do' tripod construction skills.

Til next time.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Stripey Lady Skater & scrappy Flashback tees

This is the first Lady Skater I made.  I got the fabric from The Remnant Warehouse during a 25% off sale.  Its mid weight and stable, perfect for this dress.  I purchased this as I was after something stripey to recreate an inspiration dress originally posted by Portia (being new to blogging, I must say it is quite weird creating this personal link to someone I don't know).

I can't quite remember how much fabric I purchased - I think maybe 2.5m which was enough to cut the skirt on the bias with a centre front and centre back seam.  I cut a size 4 which is pretty much consistent with my measurements.  I followed the instructions of basting the side seams once I had the bodice together to test sizing as I didn't make a muslin.  I then went ahead and sewed the straight size 4.

I am new to sewing knits, but this went together easily.  Most of the care was given to stripe matching which worked out quite well in the end.

Stripe matching at front centre seam + water stain I somehow managed to get from the plants just before this pic was taken

The stripe matching didn't start so well for the sleeves.  Not having sewn stripes much before I originally cut the sleeves matching the stripes at the shoulder seam.  When I started pinning I realised this was a problem and luckily had enough fabric to cut some new sleeves.  This time I chose a stripe to match at the upper bust area and it all worked out OK from there.

Sleeve stripe matching

I used my coverstich machine for the neck, sleeves and hem.  I have never used an overlocker so it is a bit of learning curve with the differential.  Here's another stripe matching pic, just cause.

As I was pretty happy how this turned out I went and cut 2 more, but with short sleeves.  I didn't consider it at the time, but the fabric for the new dresses was lighter weight and not as stable.  I should have shortened the bodice a bit due to the pull of the fabric, but in the end I just gave the dresses bigger waist seams.  I still wear the other 2, but do think that I should unpick the seams and elastic and shorten the bodice marginally.  The only problem is I have way too many things on my to sew list so I doubt this will happen.

I also had some small scraps left over, perfect for some little tees for bub presents.  This is the flashback skinny tee pattern, which is a great pattern that goes together easily.

The second tee is made from a few tees I got for myself on sale, but when I got them home I realised I was tempted by the sale and they were just a bit tight...