A feathery Meissa

Perhaps there is some sort of sewing collective consciousness? How else to explain that the lovely Amy from Sew Amy Sew beat me to posting her fantastic Liberty Meissa blouse by just a few days? I feel like such a copycat now, but as the weekend was full of Mother’s Day celebrations and Eurovision (magnificent Conchita!) I haven’t had a chance to photograph anything else. Such is life and all that.

Feather Meissa – Apr 2014

What to say? This was one of those impulse sewing things – I had a hankering to make a shirt and I wasn’t sure this feathery Liberty print was quite suited to a Grainline Archer. I’m not entirely comfortable wearing large scale prints like this, and I thought the extra detailing in Papercut’s Meissa blouse might help stop it from wearing me (as opposed to the other way around), and besides, I was feeling bad that I hadn’t sewn up anything by Papercut yet.

Feather Meissa – Apr 2014

To help moderate the print even more, I took inspiration from something I have been itching to do since I saw something similar on my husband’s shirts (which I was reminded of because of Lauren’s equally lovely version), and used grosgrain ribbon as a detail behind the buttons and in the cuffs. I would have run it around the inside of the collar stand as well except I couldn’t for the life of me work out how to wrangle the curve at the end. I also topstitched in navy but you can’t really see it at all (oh well).

I made an XS and I’m pretty happy with the fit. As others who’ve made it attest, it has a special type of sleeve placket situation happening that makes it virtually impossible to scrunch up the sleeves, and given I will never wear a shirt without scrunched sleeves, I added in a placket as per the Grainline Archer (I would’ve attempted a tower placket for the first time, but I had barely any scraps left after over-enthusiastically cutting out a Datura from the remains of the fabric). I would recommend doing this BEFORE you set in the sleeves, because if you forget (*ahem*) then it is a massive pain. Massive. And yeah, you have to remember that this will change the size of your cuffs as well. Ask me how I know all this? Let’s just say fixing the sleeves was somewhat of a scramble and involved cursing and sulking.

If I did make it again in another similar fabric (and I take this small moment to attest to how lovely to sew with Liberty is, each and every time) I would make a few changes to the way the gathering sits – as drafted, the gathering I feel starts a little too close to the underarms, so it can look a little funny in fabric that has this kind of ‘body’. It would be an easy fix, just to compact the area the gathering occurs in. In a slinkier fabric, I think you would not have the same problem (and it would look fantastic).

Feather Meissa – Apr 2014

While I’m pretty happy with the look of the final shirt, and I will be making another Meissa, I’m not 100% sold on how well this version fits into my wardrobe. This could just be that the shirt looks too summery for me to judge properly while I get deeper into my winter black and grey fest, so I’m going to put it away for 6 months and see how I feel at the end.


And… I haven’t forgotten the Liebster either – I will respond very soon I promise – just want to give it the attention it deserves!

A feathery Meissa

An ode to black

I wonder if you’ll indulge me in a little rant here?

I read a post the other day talking about someone’s experience at one of the big US sewing conference things, where a speaker gave advice along the lines that black should never be worn at all by anybody.

What the?

Quite apart from the fact that I think there is no call for anyone to tell anyone else how they should dress – DRESS HOWEVER YOU LIKE PEOPLE (I call this the Tilda Swinton principle, because, well, Tilda Swinton is THE BOSS) – black is fantastic. It can be dramatic or fade into the background. It is versatile. It goes with pretty much everything. It makes other colours pop. If you have an office tan like me it is the difference between ‘porcelain’ and ‘pasty’. Black is the best. Besides, I’m a designer by day therefore wearing black is practically mandatory.

Maybe this waxing lyrical is all a little overkill, but honestly, life is too short to have people arbitrarily blanket statement out an entire colour. Rules, schmules. If you like black, wear it. If you don’t, then don’t. </rant>

Black Renreau – Apr 2014

In case you hadn’t guessed, I like black. I am gleefully planning a mostly monochrome winter wardrobe as we speak. This dress is one of the first items from that plan. I have been in desperate need of some comfy-yet-pulled-together items and a knit dress seemed to fit the bill perfectly. You are spoilt for choice for knit dresses these days (the Lady Skater or Colette’s new Moneta amongst many examples*) but being too lazy to paste together PDF pages I went with a mashup of my tried and true Sewaholic Renfrew, the neckline of the Plantain and the gathered skirt from Deer & Doe’s Sureau dress. I can’t take credit for this combination – Deer & Doe’s Eléonore made a similar thing here and she and I seem to have the same issue whereby an a-line skirt on a knit dress isn’t quite flattering.

Black Renreau – Apr 2014

This is a pretty easy thing to put together if you are comfortable with knits. I used a quite solid merino (with a touch of elastane), almost a double knit I’d say, which was super easy to handle, and is nicely warm. To make the skirt section have more body I added around 20cm of width, and I gathered it on some elastic to keep the weight off the top. I use Sewaholic’s method of treating knits like wovens, in that I always sew my seams twice, first with the sewing machine and then the overlocker, because I’ve found it makes things last longer and helps with keeping everything lined up. This takes a little longer, but with practice I find that I can make something like this in an hour and a half. I don’t even bother with a twin needle hem, because my stretch stitch is small enough that it looks fine as a finish (also, I am lazy).

Black Renreau – Apr 2014

I love this dress. I’ve already made up another variation just because it feels like otherwise I’ll wear it out too quickly. Can we have three cheers for lovely dresses that feel like pajamas?

Outfit details:

(*There are so many very, very similar versions out there. I am actually quite surprised that so many companies are bringing out what is essentially the same dress but all power to them. I should note I have bought the Lady Skater and the Moneta for no apparent reason other than, quite frankly, that I’m a sucker for new product. I’m sure they will be lovely when I make them but I really didn’t need either of them because I could just make the same thing with what I already own. But anyway, I do like supporting indie designers so…)

While I’m here, a little housekeeping…

It’s that time of year again: Me Made May. I’ve always watched with interest over the last few years but have never taken part before. But this year, I think it is time to take the plunge! Realistically I think the best way to handle it is to do a couple of round up posts so I’m not bombarding people, and I’ll probably Instagram my outfit every day.

I do wear something I have made most days, so in that sense it isn’t as much of a challenge as is intended, but the challenge for me will be a)taking photos and b)finding out what it is that I actually wear, and what I don’t, and why. It will actually be really interesting to record this data and I’m hoping that it will give me a clearer picture of what I actually need in a wardrobe.

So, without further ado:
I, Amy of What Miss Amy Did Next, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear one me made item each day for the duration of May 2014.

Also, The lovely Emily of Dressing the Role has nominated me for a Liebster Award (I’m so excited!). I think I will save that for another post as this one is pretty long now, but I’m looking forward to answering the questions. Thanks so much Emily!

I think that’s enough blabbering for one day! Off to watch Orphan Black

An ode to black

A floral Chloe

Oops. Didn’t mean to disappear for that long! Life huh…

I have been a busy sewing bee though – just didn’t have any good weather to take photos in (boooooo to fast approaching winter and getting home in the dark). BUT a long weekend and lovely autumn sunshine mean the backlog has been photographed and is blog ready.

Floral Chloe – Apr 2014

Let’s start with the lovely Chloe dress by Victory Patterns. I have no idea why this took me to sew up (it has been out for a long while now surely?) – I had got as far as sticking together and cutting out the pdf pattern but then obviously I got distracted. I know I swore off linen after my pink skirt but this was too pretty to pass up – an impulse counter buy at The Fabric Store’s 50% sale earlier this year. I was intending to do a pencil skirt with it so only got a metre, but there was just enough to squeak out this dress (if I had had more fabric I wouldn’t have had the annoying repeat issue on the back panels that you will see in the photos below).

Floral Chloe – Apr 2014

I love these painterly flowery prints that aren’t quite your traditional style – they seem like a less ‘girly’ way to wear floral. I paired it with a mid-grey linen for the pocket and bindings, and lined the whole thing with some beige cotton/viscose I got when I was feeling responsible (buying linings is SO BORING yes?). The dress has a nice 60s vibe going and is quite forgiving of say, overly large meals and a lack of exercise. Also: pocketses. Pocketses are the best.

I made a straight size 6 and it fit pretty well – the only things I changed were to take a small dark on the back neckline and a extra tiny dart at the bust to tighten things up. As other people have noted (which I realised afterward) the armholes on this dress are drafted too large so you get a bit of bra showing at the sides. Next time I will fix that up before I cut out – the way the princess seam at the back is drafted means you can’t retrofit a fix for it without your seam showing. The other thing I would change is to somehow make the pockets one big kangaroo pocket instead of being separate – they have a tendency to flap about and sit funny and I think it would be neater to have the whole thing joined up (I tacked mine together at the centre as a quick fix). Other than that – this dress is super cute and really quite easy, especially if you machine stitch the binding (instead of painstakingly by hand like this idiot).

Floral Chloe – Apr 2014

Outfit details:

  • Dress: Victory Pattern’s Chloe in size 6 (very small mods)
  • Fabric: 1m of floral linen from The Fabric Store, 1m of cotton/viscose from The Fabric Storefran, grey linen scraps from deep dark stash
  • Glasses by Frankie Dean
  • Frye Veronica Boots from Amazon (the best thing about cooler weather is I get to stomp around in these again, they are THE BEST)
  • Deck: has needed a damn good clean for 2 years now. Living amongst the gum trees has some disadvantages
A floral Chloe

Doh! A Deer!

A hipster deer?

Deer Vogue 1247

A little while back I was feeling very uninspired and blah about everything. I was spending a whole lot of time on Pinterest and not actually creating anything for myself, and I was feeling terrible. There was lots of moping about and a hellava lot of indecision, made worse by reaching Sunday night again and feeling like I did nothing but work and work and work. But then I read this post by Rochelle of Lucky Lucille. She put into words everything I hadn’t worked out for myself, and the comments… well… there was one that just made me cry (way to get strange looks from your husband I can tell you). Lauren said: “This post was like having someone turn on the lights for you, when you hadn’t even noticed it was getting dark out.”

Yes: that.

Something had to be done. I still didn’t really feel that I could make a choice, but I could at least decide I could ask The Mister to pick something for me to make. I pulled together 2 or 3 options, things I’d made before so they weren’t too taxing, and got him to choose. Not really surprisingly, he picked this super cute polka-dotted, glasses-on-deer Echino print and the skirt from Vogue 1247.

All up, this took me 2 hours from cutting out to finishing – I was up past midnight but it was worth it. The skirt is a simple design but it is really lovely (albeit short) and it comes together really easily. The kangaroo pockets add an extra something, and if you don’t bother with the binding on the seams it is a very quick make.

Deer Vogue 1247

I put a huge amount of effort into matching the front up (look at those deer on the pockets!) and making sure the deer placement was even – but I overestimated my yardage when it came to the back and I had to squeeze it out any old how. I figure I don’t have to look at that side so I’m not too worried. The ‘grellow’ colour just makes me happy (it does look terrible on my skin tone so it will have to be worn with stockings – but it will need to be worn with stockings anyway given the length), and the little glasses-wearing deer? Swoon.

I have this fabric in the black colourway as well so expect to see more hipster deer in my future!

Outfit details:

  • Skirt: Vogue 1247 (skirt) in size 10 (no mods)
  • Fabric: 1m of Echino ‘Deer in Glasses’ in Chartreuse from Bolt of Cloth (linen/cotton and SO nice to sew)
  • Tee: Espirit (which reminds me – make black tees)
  • Shoes: Camper from Endless (which is now Amazon)
  • Antler necklace: from Wunderkammer in Melbourne

Let me leave you with this:

I’m not the only one who has this deer link indelibly embedded in my brain right?


Doh! A Deer!

What’s that? More pencil skirts

(Oh, and if anyone is finding that images aren’t showing up on my posts could you let me know? They are only showing up for me 50% of the time at the moment for no apparent reason.)

I feel like a bit of a broken record here, but having stitches in my neck (nothing serious) mean I have been not able to do much sewing over the last week or so (recipe for insanity that – couldn’t even knit!).

Which means, unfortunately for you – more pencil skirts. So. Many. Pencil. Skirts.

Flippy Skirt - Feb 2014

Though I lie – the first, while based on my trusty Burdastyle Jenny, is in fact a super cute Mui Mui copycat based on this fantastic tutorial on Frau Fleur. If you have a pencil skirt pattern that you’ve already worked out the kinks to (or a skirt block) then this is a super easy make – especially when you have By Hand London’s handy circle skirt app to do all the maths for you.

This is made in some mysterious composition suiting that I got last year in Sydney – I feel like it must have at least some wool because I don’t usually buy poly, but who knows? It is spongey and frays like crazy, presses well, but is almost impossible to photograph. The closeup below attempts to show the colour – it is actually black and white, but is looking quite brown in the photos.

Flippy Skirt - Feb 2014

There’s not much I can actually say about this make – the hardest part is the endless hemming. I was going to do this one all fancy-like with bias binding, and had it all on and perfect before I worked out that I had sewn it on the wrong damn side. I was not going to unpick it all so off it was chopped. I actually like the length (thank goodness), though, as with any flippy skirt, the risk of wardrobe malfunction is always there. I’m planning another one of these in something more sculptural – wool perhaps.

Polka Dot Jenny Skirt

And on to pencil skirt no. 5239239545435: again, photographing weirdly brownish.

I broke my own rules with this – I rarely sew with quilting cotton for reasons covered ad nauseam all over blogdom. (This is not to say I have a blanket rule at all, but it has to be for very specific items. I could show you some terrible and never worn items that were my lessons.) This is very lovely fabric, an organic cotton by Monaluna, in an uneven spotty pattern that I fell head over heels for. Why is it so hard to find irregular spotty fabric? Why???? But, this fabric has a very tight weave. A tight weave that means, despite using the same pattern I have used 50 million times, that this skirt is too small. Barely zip up small. Can’t breathe small. ‘How much exercise can I feasibly do’ small.

Such a pity. I spent ages and ages on this to make sure everything was impeccable. Interfacing in all the right places. Handstitched inner waistband and hemline. Lined in lovely silk cotton. The best work I was capable of doing. I can’t quite cope right now with the idea of having to undo so much of it to fix it, so it sits, abandoned, in my wardrobe.

Polka Dot Jenny Skirt

Never heard a tale of more woe?

The lesson, of course, is to have less of the ‘she’ll be right’ attitude and perhaps try it on a little more carefully before you put the zip in. Oh well. One day…

Outfit details:

Flippy skirt

  • Based on Burdastyle Jenny pencil skirt, in size 36. Cut off just at the top of the leg, plus circle skirt to fit the bottom
  • Fabric: mystery suiting from The Remnant Warehouse in Sydney (I could tell a good story here about how a trip to this place meant buying an extra suitcase and $110 of luggage fees, but it still makes me weep a little)
  • Top: French Connection (is NOTHING cut on grain any more?)
  • Shoes: Seychelles from Anthropologie

Spotty skirt

  • Burdastyle Jenny pencil skirt, in size 36 (modified waistband)
  • Fabric: Organic ‘Polka Ott Black’ by Monaluna from SewFineFabric on Etsy
  • Lining: silk cotton blend (Donna Karan) from The Fabric Store
  • Shoes: Seychelles from Anthropologie
  • Fabulous Captain Wentworth (the BEST Austen hero) quote tee-shirt from Brookish on Etsy
What’s that? More pencil skirts

Drape Drape! With bonus pencil skirt

I’ve been thinking about what I post and write about on this blog, and I came to the conclusion that I should try and be a little more thorough in the details of what I make, especially for things I haven’t seen much around the internet. I certainly appreciate those bloggers who go the extra mile to give honest information on sizing and fabric requirements and so on, so I’m going to try to be equally useful. I like to think that my reason for blogging is to be helpful to others in the way that sewing blogs have helped me improve my sewing over the years, rather than just showing off on the internet. I’ve never been 100% comfortable putting pictures of myself up online, but one of the best things (I think) about sewing blogs is that you are seeing handmade items (which is a whole other best thing) on people of every single shape and size and I think that is wonderful and valuable, especially when the visuals we get from magazines and television are so very homogenous and frankly, judgemental. Hooray to that!

(The other side of this of course, is if you try and add my images to your judgemental and sexist ‘women look better in this rather than that’ flickr group I will block you. End of story.)

Sorry! Brain dump. Let’s get to the sewing part… (long post is long)

Drape Drape Top & Jenny Skirt

I have to admit to being a complete copy-cat with this top. I’ve had the Drape Drape books sitting on my bookshelf for at least a year, but it took seeing Sew Busy Lizzy’s lovely version to give me a kick up the pants to make one. Screw the sewing queue!

I’m going to call this a next level tee-shirt. It looks super complicated and elaborate but it is actually really easy to pull together. The hardest part of this was tracing the pattern (in three parts in a Burda-esque mess of lines) and finding a big enough surface to cut it out on – I could just fit it on my dining room table but certainly not on my cutting mat! The actual sewing part is dead easy – 3 seams, hemming the sleeves and hem, and finishing the neckline. I did the whole thing (including tracing and cutting) in less than 3 hours.

It helps of course that with something like this fitting isn’t quite the issue it is with other items. If your arms fit and your hips fit it is a-okay. HOWEVER, because this is a Japanese pattern the sizing is very small. I did the largest size (it comes in two sizes – S-M and M-L) and I’m the equivalent (roughly) of an Australian 8 / US 6. If you needed it bigger, Sew Brunswick explained her method here (and doesn’t it look fabulous on her? I think this is one of those patterns that is universally flattering and elegant).

Dodgy iphone pic is dodgy
Dodgy iphone pic is dodgy

The pattern piece looks bizarre (see bad iPhone pic above) but actually makes perfect sense once you take a minute to work out what is where. The Drape Drape books are out in English now (which is the version I have), but from what I saw the original versions as well as the English one mostly rely on illustrations to show you what to do (I have to admit I didn’t really use the instructions – just skimmed over them and then made it as I would normally make a tee-shirt). If you have made a tee-shirt before I think you would be fine.

Drape Drape Top

The fabric requirements are 1.5m long  by 1.5m wide, but I *just* got this out of 1.1m (with a slight change in grain) – I think you’d want 1.25m to be safe. I made this in the most amazingly silky smooth and drapey viscose jersey that I got (ahem) from my fabric buying binge in The Fabric Store’s 50% off sale recently. It really is lovely – we were all petting it in the store. Something this drapey works really well for this shirt – I’ve since made it in a normal cotton knit and it doesn’t look anywhere near as good, nor feel as nice on. If you do make this it’s worth keeping this in mind – the silkier and drapier the fabric, the easier the drapes fall over the body rather than gripping on to your skin or underwear.

Not sure if it is a quirk of my particular physiology, but when I wear it the shoulder seams do sit at least an inch backwards off my shoulders, but it is actually a good thing or the neckline would in no way be suitable for work. If you aren’t as happy with low necklines as I am you can easily modify the pattern to reduce it. I did also change the ‘normal’ sleeve side to sit more like the other (tighter and a little more angled) rather than how it was drafted, just because it felt more balanced. This is easy enough to do – just hack a bit more off with the overlocker after trying it on to see how it sits.

I really like this top – the draping means it just feels a little more dressy than your run-of-the-mill tee-shirt, it hides all manner of ills and/or large lunches, but it doesn’t take much actual effort… Sometimes a lazy but fantastic project is just what you need.

Drape Drape Top & Jenny Skirt

Now that I’ve gone on and on about the top, I don’t feel like I have many words left for the skirt!

This is another Burdastyle Jenny pencil skirt (I really have got my money’s worth out of this pattern) made in another of the ikats I got from B&J Fabrics. Because I spend half the year in tights (in work’s arctic air-con) I bothered to line it with a silk cotton blend (hot pink of course) – I used the same pattern pieces as the outer skirt, and just changed the darts to pleats to allow more movement, a trick I picked up somewhere on the interwebs (sorry, I don’t remember where). Because I forgot when I was cutting out, this skirt has a slit rather than a kick pleat (and I notice from the photos that I forgot to tack the lining down so it doesn’t show, oops) but the skirt is perfectly lovely and serviceable anyway. But: I haven’t worn it much, which is a pity. I’m realising that the pencil skirts I reach for are the ones that have stretch in them, probably because sitting for 10 hours a day is more comfortable in stretchy waistbands. I’ll have to try and remember that if I ever allow myself to go fabric shopping again (hahahahaha).

Outfit details:

  • Top: No. 4 from Drape Drape 2 (English version), size M-L, slight change to sleeve shape
  • Made from 1.1m grey marle viscose jersey from The Fabric Store (half price – yeeeessssss!)
  • Skirt: Burdastyle Jenny in size 36, waistband shortened, used slightly smaller SA because using a woven
  • Made in appx .75m of Japanese cotton ikat from B&J Fabrics, lined in silk cotton blend (it was Donna Karan so a bit of a waste) from The Fabric Store
  • Shoes: Seychelles from Anthropologie
Drape Drape! With bonus pencil skirt

I’m blue

… do ba dee, do ba doo (I can’t be the only child of the late nineties who has that annoying song lingering in the memory)…

You know when you’ve got the lighting just so, done your makeup properly for once, even blow dried your hair… and then your camera battery is dead? Yeah, that. So apologies for the epic blurghface of these photos because I was pretty damn grumpy. But enough of that: what have we here? Apart from excessive amounts of blue? 

Blue Ikat Jenny Skirt and Vogue 1389

So. Much. Blue. I made this skirt late last year after falling in love with the fabric (a linen blend by Dear Stella). Being such a large print, it really needed something simple or it was going to be a disaster, so I went with an old favourite: the Burdastyle Jenny pencil skirt. This is a great pattern, especially for the price: comes together really quickly and is nice and easy. The waistband as drafted is pretty huge, so I usually make it half the height so it doesn’t end up somewhere around my chin 🙂 (I kid, mostly).

Blue Ikat Jenny Skirt

The only problem with this skirt really is the sticky question of pattern placement. Katy of Katy and Laney has covered this issue (hilariously) in her post here. Get it wrong, and you can have some rather unfortunate results: once seen, these things cannot be unseen.

However, there is only so much you can do with this fabric. Inevitably there is going to be something pointing or spotlighting exactly where you don’t want it to. I’m okay with the front (though again, refer to Katy’s post for what I can no longer unsee), but in my careful attempt to avoid a (how to put this delicately?) a circle in the wrong place on the behind I’ve managed to give myself butt-nostrils instead. Thank goodness I mostly wear shirts untucked!

Actually, the more I look at this fabric, the more I see creepy faces with snakey eyes and sharp teeth. Eeek!

Vogue 1389

(Yes, I am one of those people who can’t be bothered matching their overlocking thread.)

The blue top is one of the newer Vogue patterns – 1389, that I haven’t seen anywhere on the interwebs yet. It’s a Donna Karan design so none of the seams go quite where you expect, which is a nice touch (damn hard to photograph though). I would normally go with a size 8 in Vogue for anything stretch, but I was using a double-knit and I wasn’t sure how it would go so I used a 10 instead, and it works fine. The pattern comes together really easily – it took me no more than 2 hours to cut and sew, even though I top-stitched all the seams to highlight them more. The only problem with it that I see, and I’m kicking myself about it now, is that I didn’t trust my instincts and shorten the neckband piece. In a neckband this wide, unless you stretch it significantly, you will get wobbliness because the ‘inner circle’ needs to be so much shorter than the outside. I steam-shrank as much of it out as I could but it is still annoying. Hopefully it will shrink out in the wash (without me minaturising the rest of it). Time will tell…

I apologise in advance for the excess of pencil skirt posts you are going to get over the next little while – I made a whole bunch for work and just photographed them all.I promise I’ll make something different next.

Outfit details:

  • Top: Vogue 1389 in size 10, no alterations
  • Fabric: A cobalt merino double knit from A Fashionable Stitch (she doesn’t seem to have it anymore, sorry)
  • Skirt: Burdastyle Jenny in size 36, waistband shortened
  • Fabric: Linen blend ikat by Dear Stella, from Hawthorne Threads (again, sold out I think, though I’ve seen it on Etsy)
  • Shoes by Siren
I’m blue