A whole bunch of Plantains

See what I did there?

Plantain tee – Jan 2014

Who would’ve thought anything could replace the much-beloved Renfrew in my affections? But Deer and Doe’s new (free) Plantain tee is just lovely. How lovely? Well, over the last week I’ve made four of them, and I’m tempted to make more.

There’s a lot to like about this pattern. Not to mention it’s an easy make, and the elbow patches are completely adorable. The scoop neckline is very flattering (and not too high for once) and the looser fit below the bust helps those of us who still haven’t quite undone the effects of excessive Christmas eating. The instructions looked comprehensive though I didn’t use them, and there weren’t too many pages in the pdf to stick together (thank goodness). And being a tee, you don’t need too much fabric – with a wide width you can get this out of a metre, depending on which sleeves you use. Considering that it was free, Eléonore has put a lot of work into this and it is of exactly the same quality as the other patterns in the line.

Without further ado, here’s my four versions…

Plantain tee – Jan 2014

Version 1: Short sleeve in cotton/lycra knit

With bonus pup, of course. As a toile, I made up my first Plantain in a stormy grey cotton/lycra knit from I-don’t-remember-where (a sure sign that my stash is out of control). This is a straight 38, because I like my tees to fit pretty snug and I’m happy with the fit (I do note in the photos that I’m getting some wrinkles that suggest I need a little more bust room, but I’m going to put that down to the excessive Christmas eating I mentioned before). It’s pretty hard to wax lyrical about a plain coloured tee shirt but this is a wardrobe basic in one of my favourite colours that I’ll wear over and over.

Plantain tee – Jan 2014

Version 2: Three-quarter sleeve in merino knit

For my second, I used a lovely deep-navy slinky merino, which unfortunately hasn’t photographed well (rainy day equals indoor super grainy not-colour-accurate images I’m afraid). I added in the elbow patches in a grey marle merino, edging them in blanket stitch and I’m really happy with the result. This is my absolute favourite of the four and I can’t wait for actual cool weather so I can wear it everywhere.

Plantain tee – Jan 2014

Plantain tee – Jan 2014

Version 3: Long sleeves with embroidered details

For my third, I wanted to play around with the elbow patches and try something new. After seeing a few inspiring things on Pinterest I wanted to give embroidery a go (and I’m guessing that calling this embroidery probably is horrifying to anyone who is actually talented in the art form but you gotta start somewhere) and so I decided to attach the patches using a little star-style stitch. Along with the hot pink it is all a little bit cutesy but I still like it. You’d certainly see me coming a mile off in this thing.

Plantain tee – Jan 2014

Plantain tee – Jan 2014

Version 4: Long sleeves with leather details

This version is in another lovely merino from The Fabric Store. As I already have a long sleeved grey tee in a very similar fabric (though honestly, who can have too many of those?), I added in some leather details and I’m pretty happy with how they turned out. Surprisingly, I didn’t have any trouble with my sewing machine sewing leather – just used a leather needle and went sloooooow. I’m itching to sew something completely in leather now. Just bring on winter so I can wear it.

Plantain tee – Jan 2014

There you have it – a whole bunch of Plantains. A tee shirt pattern mightn’t be the most exciting topic ever but it is something you will use over and over again, and I call that a win.

Outfit details:

Bonus puppy-getting-in-the-way!

Plantain tee – Jan 2014

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A whole bunch of Plantains

A summer uniform

Deer & Doe Datura and Moss mini

Excuse the lack of face in these photos – they were taken on New Years Day, and I was feeling very blah after all the hard partying I did on New Years (by which I mean I watching a movie at home with the Mister).

Grainline Moss Mini

I love this skirt – Grainline’s Moss Mini. This is the 5th version I’ve made (I think) and I wear them all the time. It is just the sort of pattern I want to see – one for an item that I will buy from the shops. This version is made from great denimy-texture linen remnant I had left over when I made a Deer & Doe Chardon skirt (you really can squeeze a Moss out of a small amount of fabric – less than a metre, because of all the small pieces). The pockets and waistband facing are also linen, scraps I had left over from a dress I made last year. The only problem I have with it – and I don’t know if anyone else finds this – but everything I’ve made from linen lately has just grown and ended up way too big. I cut the exact same size as my other versions which fit fine, but this one is just hangs off me. Shrinking it up in hot water helps for about 5 minutes but after that… Super annoying.

Deer & Doe Datura blouse

The Datura blouse is a nice simple little make, a cute little loose-fitting top that has the advantage (when dealing with summer temps) of hanging off the shoulders and not touching any skin as much as possible. Of course, this comfort means that The Mister isn’t as complimentary (tough) but I’m pretty happy with it (it certainly doesn’t have the ‘is she pregnant’ vibe that a lot of looser-cut clothing can have).The 2-section design also meant I got to use a small piece of Kokka double gauze I didn’t know what to do with (it isn’t a colour I’d normally wear – there was a version with a black background but I got this one after a missing parcel and fabric-selling-out-in-the-meantime incident), and it did give the opportunity to use some super cute deer head buttons I’ve had forever. I feel like this would work best in a bit more drapey fabric, but the double-gauze might soften up with a bit of washing. I will make more of these – there are some fun combos you could do with the sections.

There you have it – my summer uniform! Not the most exciting outfit ever, but something I’ll get a lot of wear out of.

The details:

Skirt: Grainline Moss Mini in size 6 or 4 (can’t remember), only change was to add back pockets
Linen from The Fabric Store (both types), Made by Unicorns label from Sublime Stitching, Button from M. Recht Accessories

Top: Deer & Doe Datura in size 38, no changes
Black batiste from Darn Cheap Fabrics, Kokka Double Gauze from Patchwork on Central Park, buttons by Made by White (don’t think they make buttons any more though)

A summer uniform

Fence sitter

Mirage Maxi

I really am on the fence about this make. I’ve tried to get the maxi dress bandwagon before, prompting laughter from my family, so it’s taken me a year to get up the courage to try it again. I have visions of sweeping elegantly along, looking very tall and willowy in flowy fabric, but instead this dress feels like it is drowning me. Booooo.

Mirage Maxi

Such a pity, because I absolutely love this ikat jersey and the colours, and the pattern I used (the Mirage dress from Aime Comme Marie) is really nicely done, but I just don’t feel like this is me. Stumpiness: thy name is maxi-dress.

Mirage Maxi

The belt helps, maybe?

I should give a little bit of info on the pattern – now this is a French pattern, and I don’t know any French (apart from ‘cheese’, ‘table’ and ‘beef’, which don’t seem to occur in sewing patterns for whatever reason) – but the instructions are illustrated and you can muddle through quite well just with that. Don’t take my discomfort with this dress as any disparagement of the pattern at all, and I will try it again in the short length for sure.

So, what to do? Am I just being crazy and it looks fine, or should I cut it apart and try and make something else? Decisions, decisions.

Ella says no
Ella says no

Ella doesn’t think much of it either. Though, possibly, she doesn’t like cameras in her face.

The details:

  • Ikat jersey from Ixat
  • Pattern: Mirage, size M, from Aime Comme Marie (Google translate is your friend)
Fence sitter

TIme machined: A Christmas Vogue 1353

Vogue 1353

I’m surprised I haven’t seen many versions of this dress around the internet – to me it seemed the clear cut winner out of that particular Vogue release. When I was hunting around for reviews I could only find 4, and while positive for the most part, they all sounded scary about the fitting adjustments that needed to be made.

Me, being me, decided that the best course of action would be to completely ignore their advice and make it up exactly as drafted, no adjustments. Allow me an evil laugh here, *muahahahahahahahah*, because it totally worked (I know I have just jinxed myself but anyway). Fits like a dream and I love it. This is seriously the most complimented item I have ever made (I wore it to the work Christmas party and on Christmas itself after my intended dress was a complete failure).

Vogue 1353

(I did not iron it for these photos. Because: Brisbane summer. Sorry not sorry.)

The fabric is a nice crisp cotton that seems to be a perfect match for those pleats, and has the added bonus of looking like someone painted a lovely sunset as angrily and violently as possible, which I think gives a very feminine style a bit of edge. It is lined with a cotton/viscose mix – no poly going to happen in the subtropics thankyouverymuch. I used silk organza to reinforce the bodice edges, as recommended by the quite frankly excellent instructions (for once), and it came together way quicker than I thought it would – the pleats in the bodice are the hardest part. This pattern has a lot to recommend it: neckline is neither too high or too low, back scoop is flattering, covers your bra straps easily, pleats are flattering over an overindulged Christmas belly… i could go on. I really do love this dress.

Vogue 1353

And the best bit: perfect for twirling!

Vogue 1353

(Weeeeeeeeeee… I feel sick.)

The details:

  • Dress: Vogue 1353 (Kay Unger design), size 10 no changes (except not handstitching a decorative hem, because ain’t nobody got time for that)
  • Fabric: cotton from Sckafs Fabrics (was half price too, woohoo), lining – cotton/viscose blend from The Fabric Store (I think). Silk organza (used as interfacing) from Sew Squirrel, zipper from a huge lot I ordered from Zipperstop
  • Belt: French Connection
  • Shoes: Seychelles from Anthropologie
  • Messy hair: courtesy not looking in the mirror

Next up, just to balance this epic gushing, I’ll post something I’m more on the fence about.

TIme machined: A Christmas Vogue 1353

2014 – the plan

To distract myself from the impending woe that is having to go back to work tomorrow (sadface, I has it), I thought it was time to pull together some sort of plan for my sewing this year. Guidelines only of course, because I like to rebel against my own rules if at all possible.

2013 sketches
The to-do list for winter 2013

(This was last winter’s plan. As I made about half of it, I’ll call it a win.)

Sooooo, the plan:

Basics, basics, basics!
There’s a list of basic wardrobe items that would make life much easier that for whatever reason I’ve never got around to making. Things like a pencil skirt, tank top and t-shirt in black. A wool blazer and some non-daggy pajamas. As many Archers as possible. Then more Archers.

Casual clothes
Once I started sewing seriously I pretty much stopped buying clothes, and my casual wardrobe has suffered, especially for summer. My two Moss skirts are in constant rotation so I definitely need more of those, as well as some shorts. Even more Archers! A casual cardigan or jacket and some not-so-dressy dresses.

Attack the stash of doom!
Realistically, a fabric buying ban is going to last about a week and just lead to guilt (at least for a second), but storage is becoming an issue. The plan right now is to at least sew up more than I buy, and stick to my fabric budget. We’ll see how it goes!

Sewing for the Mister
If I insist on constantly dragging him fabric shopping, he should at least see some benefit. At least there are some better options around now we have Thread Theory.

Sewing something frivolous
Just because, even though I have absolutely nowhere to wear it, I want to make a special dress. Something elaborate or made of something luxurious. Something decadent!

Unfinished projects
There are way too many of these clogging up my sewing area. Just finish them already!

Well, I’ve written it down – let’s see how I do! What are your ‘guidelines’ for this year?

2014 – the plan

Way back machine: Anise Jacket

Seeing as how it is supposed to be 41 degrees C in Brisbane today (that’s nearly 106 degrees F according to my friend Google), I thought it might be a good time to get in my time machine for a little wintery-jacket action (I will be jealous of Northern Hemisphere winter right about ’til we hit winter here, at which time I will do a complete about face and wax lyrical about glorious, glorious summer.)

Without further ado, here is a little something I whipped up last year (I kid! I kid! – there were many, many hours involved) – the Colette Patterns Anise Jacket. I actually finished this in May 2013, but a trip to Melbourne where a jacket is actually justified was where I got photos (slightly blurry ones I’m afraid – but still).

Anise Jacket

This is me in Melbourne, pretending to be cool. N.B. I am not cool.

All up this took me about 3 weeks, off and on, which isn’t too bad considering the bound buttonholes and plaid matching and my insistence on modifying things without thinking it through properly. Moving the pockets did work out well in the end in terms of usefulness (not quite sure how you could stuff your hands in the pockets as they are drafted – and my poor little cold hands always, always need to be stuffed in pockets) but did mean a bit of stuffing about when I accidentally sewed the buttons right through them and realised the lining was showing through the backs of the bound buttonholes.

Anise Jacket

I’m pretty happy with my plaid-matching (look at those princess seams on the back!), even though I mucked up the sleeves (meh, next time), and the jacket is actually very warm – enough for me to comfortably survive Melbourne temps which is saying something for someone used to a sub-tropical ‘winter’ in Brisbane.

All in all I’m pretty proud of this one (maybe I shouldn’t use it as an early blog post, because it’s all downhill from here, peeps) but I am finding that this jacket risks feeling a bit too twee for my current taste in clothing, so it is going to be worn with stompy boots and excessive amounts of black for the foreseeable future (at least until I go through my next Zooey phase which, lets face it, is probably about a week away).

Anise Jacket

So, here’s the nitty-gritty:

  • Anise Jacket by Colette Patterns, size 4 (modified pockets but otherwise as per pattern).
  • Lovely plaid fluffy wool coating is from Britex Fabrics (2 yards used), lining is a (hot pink again!) sand-washed silk from this eBay shop.
  • Leather buttons from Scafs Fabrics (their website is terrible, but their physical wall of buttons is excellent)
  • Persuasion label from Scrapiana on Etsy.

This wasn’t a cheap make – materials ended up costing around AU$150 I would think (the wool was a birthday present) – but that is still significantly cheaper than the $400 Tommy Hilfiger jacket I was inspired by, so I call that a win. And it was worn through all of winter 2013. Hooray!

Outfit details:
Beanie: Otto and Spike
Glasses: Frankie Dean
Jacket: Anise
Top: Me-made Renfrew probably. No lie, I’ve made about 50,000 of them.
Skirt: Me-made Moss by Grainline (Denim from fabric.com)
Tights: Me-made Burda Magazine /2009 sometime (Merino from The Fabric Store)
Boots: Frye

(I should note that none of these are affiliate links or anything, I just like knowing where things came from on other blogs so am following the same format here)

Way back machine: Anise Jacket

A little neon never hurt anybody

Deer & Doe Belladone

For someone who detested pink as a child, I sure have embraced it in its brightest form lately. I have to confess being a hot pink addict – the more neon the better. I seriously have 2 coats, a shirt and 2 skirts in that colour in the works, plus a whole bunch of hot pink ribbon just waiting to be a garish addition to something. The combo of neutral and neon just floats my boat for whatever reason.

I have been plotting this little combo for a while now – the bound edges of the Deer & Doe Belladone just screamed out for a little neon action, and my summer holidays were a perfect time to make it happen. The main fabric is a seriously lovely and properly dark indigo-dyed linen from Miss Matatabi, which (as she kindly warned me) dyed everything blue – fingers and binding included. Hard to photograph in our lovely harsh sub-tropical sunlight too, but the top photo is pretty accurate as to colour.

The Belladone really is a lovely pattern and I want to make hundreds of them (nay, thousands) – but this version really gave me grief. From my last version I had worked out that I needed to make a ‘you have terrible posture’ adjustment (otherwise known as a round shoulder adjustment I think) and so went ahead and made those changes to the paper pattern at the cutting out stage. And of course, because: irony, that meant the bit that fit perfectly on the first version suddenly didn’t. At all. Unpicking the top crossover section was a massive PITA but I wasn’t going to give up on my neon baby. Half a season of Ergo Proxy later, I had a finished dress. Next time, I think I will leave finishing the neckline to last, just so I can get it to sit properly, to take into account my varying levels of slumpiness.

Deer & Doe Belladone

There is a reason Deer & Doe is one of my top 3 favourite pattern designers – this dress is a perfect canvas for experimentation (hem facings! pocket bindings!), and the back detail gives it that little special something. I made a straight 38 and apart from my dodgy adjustments it fits perfectly. The only issue I have with this dress is I’m afraid when I wash it that the lovely neon binding will get indigo-dyed as well, but time will tell.

Outfit details:
Deer & Doe Belladone dress, size 38
Made in indigo linen from Miss Matatabi
Neon binding from Purl Soho

A little neon never hurt anybody