Swish swish

And hello there. Long time no see. I missed you guys.

Four months? How did that happen? You can pack a lot into four months: holidays and funerals. Kondo-ing my house (almost there). Taking stock. Reading real books again. Losing the entire contents of your blog reader to some weird glitch. Life things.

There has been sewing as well. Slower sewing, but sewing nonetheless. A backlog of things to photograph as long as your arm. But you gotta start somewhere right?

Sewaholic Gabriola

So lets start somewhere swishy. Gabriola swishy. Like the rest of the sewing blogosphere, I absolutely fell in love with Ada Spragg’s fabulous version of this pattern. If that fabric had still been available I would have out-and-out copied (it’s not – waaaaah). So I put it to the back of my mind just waiting for the right sort of crazy geometric colour explosion fabric to appear. And appear it did… eventually. A couple of weeks back I dragged my long-suffering husband along to the opening day of a new little fabric shop in Brisbane called Needlefruit, where I snagged this awesome crazy floral but not too floral rayon. Obviously it had to become a Gabriola. Swish swish.

Sewaholic Gabriola

So, the deets…

What’s to love?

Well, I think the hip-hugging pieced section looks really nice. It is precision sewing but not anywhere near as complicated as it seems (as long as you mark your pieces very well because they all look the same). The shaping of the skirt means the volume is at the hem and in a flowy, drapey fabric it all feels very summery and well, swishy. It’s a fun skirt to wear.

Sewaholic Gabriola

Sizing

Now, I am not quite the shape Sewaholic designs for, so I had to make a few mods to get this skirt to fit the way I wanted (apparently some people on the internet get very grumpy about people doing this but I don’t care). I could have just gone on waist measurement alone and kept the extra volume around the hips, but I wanted things to be a little less floofy so I graded from 6 at the waist through to 0 at the hips (keeping the length at size 6). There are good instructions on the Sewaholic blog on how to do this. (A further note here: I tend to only pay attention to finished garment measurements to pick sizes because I like my clothes to fit closer than Sewaholic designs for.)

Sewaholic Gabriola

Ch-ch-ch-changes

  • A lot of reviews of this skirt mentioned that the straight-cut waistband didn’t really sit on the body well so I decided to sub in the waistband from the Grainline Moss Mini instead. This was a bit of a dodge-fest – basically I folded that waistband piece in half, and flipped it over when I cut so that the curvier bit was on the fold and the straight bit was the cut end. This was because I figured it was my belly that needed the curvature and my back would be fairly straight. There was excess (as the Moss is designed to sit on the hips not the waist) but I just cut it off once I had sewn the waistband on. This method is a bit more work as you have to cut 2 instead of folding the waistband over, but it does sit a lot nicer on the body.
  • Another thing mentioned a lot in reviews of this pattern was the tendency of the pieced section to stretch out if you just so much as looked at the pieces sideways. To prevent this in my slippery, slidey rayon I block fused that section before I cut the pieces out so they held their shape.
  • I did a invisible zipper and skipped the hook and bar malarky – I think it gives a much cleaner finish. I added fusible stay tape down the seams where the zipper was going to go to keep everything stable.
  • I used much less fabric than the pattern says you need – I got this out of 2.5m. As long as your fabric is wide enough (and non directional enough) to put your pieces side by side you shouldn’t need as much.
  • I’d advise hanging this skirt for a long time before you cut and hem it. There’s a lot of bias to fall and it just kept on falling. I left it a week before I hemmed and I still think it has become uneven. I did a rolled hem because I’m lazy and it was the easiest option. Likewise I stitched-in-the-ditch for the waistband because I didn’t want to hand-sew anything. Lazy.

Sewaholic Gabriola

So, that’s my Gabriola. I don’t know if I would necessarily make another, just because it is such a departure from my normal style. But it is a beautiful skirt, and a lot of fun to wear. I’m jealous of all the Northern Hemisphere folks about to go into summer who can make and wear stuff like this. Though winter has its advantages (say, Cascade Coats…).

What seasonal sewing is next in your sewing queue?

Swish swish

I ate’nt dead*

Oops. Once again, I didn’t mean to disappear! A busy schedule has meant that my photographer has been otherwise occupied on the weekends, not to mention that it seems my camera battery is not long for this world.  A remote and a new battery are definitely on my to-do list! (These photos are a mix of DSLR and iPhone, so apologies in advance for the mismatched colour and quality!)

Robson Coat - July 2014

But enough excuses… This coat has been in progress for such a long time. I went out and got the Robson Coat pattern as soon as it was released, started it with the best of intentions and then promptly ran out of winter. It has sat in the UFO pile (along with a lot of other things) giving me the side eye ever since, until Brisbane finally decided it might try this winter thing out again a few weeks ago.

And yes, everyone who likes to tell me that winter in Brisbane is not really winter, I know. This sub-tropical weakling can’t cope when the mercury drops below 20C, but in my defence, yesterday morning was the coldest it has been in Brisbane for 103 years. There was almost frost and everything 😛

Robson Coat - July 2014

I went a bit rogue on this pattern really. Size-wise, I went with a 6 at the bust blending through to a 0 at the waist and hips, partly because I am not the pear-shaped person this pattern is designed for, and also because I wanted this to be reasonably fitted. I made it shorter, because I don’t really need a long coat, and after reading a few reviews I also moved up the pockets a little. I’d move them up even further next time I make it as they still feel a little low to me (and I am planning quite a few more of this pattern because… well, I like coats. A lot.) I swapped out the tie belt for a buckle belt as well, as I think they look smarter.

Robson Coat - July 2014

Another major change I made was to ignore the fabric recommendations: I went with a medium/heavy wool coating which is lovely and SUPER warm, but did mean I had to hand wheel the entire topstitched section along the collar because my machine was not having a bar of it. Despite its bulk, the coating was far too drapey for this pattern as well, which I didn’t realise until I had sewed the body together, so I had to retrofit in a whole lot of interfacing to get it to sit right (I forgot to do the storm flaps, which is why they are flopping all over the place in these photos). As you can imagine, this made the inside a red-hot mess so I decided that I would have to line it.

Robson Coat - July 2014

I am so happy with the look of the lining though – silk is always nice and luxurious and it is a nice pop of colour on the inside. After talking to other people who made this as well I’m quite happy that I didn’t have to sew in 50 thousand miles of binding! If I lined again I would add in some extra room in the lining for the sleeves, because (at least in this make) there is a lot of strain at the elbows and it is definitely damaging the fabric there.

Robson Coat - July 2014

One small problem I haven’t solved yet is finding some matching buttons for the shoulder tabs – I was one short (so frustrating!) and I really, really wanted to use these buttons (lion heads!). I’ve been hunting through etsy and ebay without luck so far, and given I got them off the sale table I don’t think I can get any more from where I bought them. The shoulder tabs are hidden under the collar so I’m not super worried about it but it would be nice to finish it properly. For the moment it can be our little secret.

Robson Coat - July 2014

One thing I do want to point out to anyone who wants to make this coat – buy LOTS of thread. More than you think. The combination of triple stitch and so much topstitching (and honestly, unpicking) meant I finished this with 6cm to spare (I think I had about 4 rolls, so 1000m). The backs of the buttonholes are done in black because I had nothing left (the buttonholes are a mess anyway, my machine was really over the layers and just massacred them). There is nothing quite as stressful as watching your thread run down and doing all those mental calculations as to whether you’re going to make it.

But it is a lovely coat, and the pattern is great. I’ve always been happy with the quality of Sewaholic patterns and the instructions and this is no exception. Tasia has a way of stepping you through quite involved makes so it all feels easy. The finished result looks smart and I have been wearing it a lot. I’ll certainly be making this again soon (in the Orla Kiely waterproof fabric I got the other day perhaps…)

Bonus photos: looks good with jeans too.

Robson Coat - July 2014

The details:

* Granny Weatherwax is my guide in all things, and I thought it was fitting to have a Pratchett reference as a footnote.

I ate’nt dead*

Jaywalkin’

So, I’m not one for competitions. They tend to stress me out, and that’s the exact opposite of what I want or need in a hobby. So when I read about Tessuti Fabric’s Jaywalk competition, I thought that it was a good opportunity to get some fabric I had been eyeing off super cheap and that I wouldn’t necessarily worry about entering. I got some in both colour ways and figured I could use the light version to make up a Moneta dress, and the black looked like a perfect fabric to knock off this dress that I pinned an age ago. No stress. Just simple, wearable sewing.

Long story short: one Sunday afternoon later I had my super cute little stripey dress. Me Made May taught me that I love wearing knit dresses on the weekend and I needed some more: job done. A few days later I was telling The Mister about all the cool things that had been entered into the comp so far and how my dress was far too simple for competitions. His response: “screw it, just do it, because what’s to lose?”. At this point I may have mentioned something about my derpy photos and the internet, but sometimes my husband is more stubborn than me, and so a competition entry it is.

Jaywalk Hidden Pocket Dress

So here it is. Let’s call it my hidden pocket knit dress. Can you see them?

Jaywalk Hidden Pocket Dress

And there they are.

This make is a mash up between my Renfrew tee dress, with the pocket structure from Vogue 1247 (which I sure as hell am getting my money’s worth from). I spent an inordinate amount of time making sure the pockets were properly hidden in the black stripe and I’m pretty happy with the result. To stop them flipping about I lined the front with some swimsuit lining and also added in some fusible interfacing along the tops to keep them from sagging down. In wearing it so far that has worked to keep them where they are supposed to be. Once the pockets were in, the whole thing could just be sewn up like a t-shirt, and I did my normal method which is basically as per the Renfrew instructions (I think the double handling of machining than overlocking means it is all super durable and I like my clothes to last).

Jaywalk Hidden Pocket Dress

No head in this picture because apparently a recipe for looking very unhappy is to eat a giant pasta lunch and then try and suck in your food belly for photos. Eh, pasta is SO WORTH IT.

BUT I am pretty happy with my stripe matching down the sides, it took a bit of wrangling (and unpicking a lot of lightning stitch) but I got there in the end with only a few stripes out by a tiny bit. In the spirit of stress-free sewing, I’ve decided I don’t care because unless you are sitting there obsessively checking my side seams it is not noticeable, and fifty-thousand times better than what I could buy in a shop.

Jaywalk Hidden Pocket Dress

The dress still felt like it needed a little something something, so I added in a fake button placket (?) on the shoulders, and I think it turned out pretty cute. Expect to see this detail on some t-shirts very soon.

Don’t think I can add much more to this: stripey dresses are pretty much always a good thing in my books. But it feels good to get something off my Pinterest to do list (only 600+ things to go!) – how many of you find Pinterest to be both a blessing and a curse?

Jaywalk Hidden Pocket Dress

Outfit details:

  • Dress mash up of the Sewaholic Renfrew and Vogue 1247
  • Fabric: Jaywalk in Black/Natural from Tessuti, swimsuit lining from stash (i.e., no idea)
  • Buttons from Spotlight
  • Voodoo wool tights
  • Jane Debster boots
  • Lean courtesy of sloping driveway
Jaywalkin’

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