Hudson fever

How good are comfy pants? Comfy  pants made of stretchy, warm merino? (Answer: so good)

Enter: Hudson Pants…

Hudson Pants - July 2014

I’ve been wearing these a lot. I look forward to getting home so I can put them on. I am not really okay with wearing pants like this out of the house (any elastic waist pants make me feel slightly kid-like) but these are way more stylish and really comfortable. I won’t lie, I’ve been wearing these as pyjamas every single night (a really good thing if, like me, you apparently try and run marathons in your sleep).

Hudson Pants - July 2014

So, the details: I made these in a size 6 to start (for my second and third pair I shaved a wee bit off the waist as they felt a little big) but the sizing seems pretty accurate. The instructions were good – clear and concise, with step by step illustrations, and I think this would be a pretty good project for people starting to sew with knits. The PDF pattern lined up nicely which is actually fairly rare I find (I don’t think paper warpage or not having the correct settings explains a lot of the inaccuracies I see in pdf patterns – and granted, yes maybe this seems like an easily fixed issue to me who has access to all the nice design programs, but still…). I like the fit of the legs – not too baggy (which is the reason I picked these over the Papercut Animas) and I think they look pretty good. As a bonus, they don’t use up much fabric – I got these out of just less than a metre of fabric.

Hudson Pants - July 2014

Your height will make a difference to how they sit – I think they are drafted for someone around 5’5″ and I’m around 5’6″ which means they are more close fitting than if you were shorter. Lovely Lizzie’s post about her version (same fabric, from the same fabric store trip: Hudson twinsies!) gives you an idea of how the fit changes if you are a different height.

So far, you might have noticed I’ve mentioned 3 pairs of pants, but I’ve only shown you two…

Well, this is also a cautionary tale: a tale of ignoring the recommendations and not really thinking things through. May I present to you my third pair of Hudsons, or, the most expensive and ugly pair of pyjamas ever.

Hudson Pants - July 2014

It is amazing how much better they look in photos. ‘They’re… interesting’ is the general theme of the comments I’ve received when wearing them, which I’m not taking as a good sign.

Let’s go through all the reasons these pants were a bad idea:

  1. Making decisions when I had the flu
  2. Making decisions about very expensive fabric when I had the flu
  3. Neglecting to take account of the qualities of said fabric when I had the flu
  4. Ignoring husband’s funny looks while telling him about the decisions I had made while I had the flu
  5. Persisting long past the point where I knew I was Doing The Wrong Thing (while I had the flu)
  6. Getting out of bed while I had the flu

I bought this amazingly soft and lovely (and $$$$) Liberty cotton fleece (yes, I know, and yes it is a real thing) last year with grand intentions: an awesome bomber jacket, or moto jacket or maybe even both. I had done that thing where I had just uncovered it in my stash and wanted to do something with it RIGHT NOW but trying to work out a new pattern wasn’t really appealing when I was feeling so blurghy so I thought: ‘Excellent! More Hudsons! I love Hudsons!’. Which would have been fine if a) I liked wearing floral patterned pants (I don’t) and b) there was any actual stretchiness in the fleece (there isn’t).

Cue epic fail. I had to hack off the ankle cuffs and replace them with black merino because I couldn’t get them over my feet, and the knees will bag out at the slightest provocation. I had to retro-fit black merino detailing on the pockets after the legs were sewn up so the cuffs didn’t look out of place, and I did a really dodgy job of the elastic. Basically I did that thing that I think a lot of sewists do on occasion: persist halfheartedly because ‘maybe they’ll turn out great in the end’.

Nope.

But… all is not lost. They are INSANELY warm and they are on their way to my sister who may possibly appreciate their epic craziness. And I still have enough fabric left (I hope) to make an awesome jacket.

The moral of this story? The Hudson Pants are great. But don’t try and make them when sick. Stick to watching Jane Austen movies and eating junk food instead.

The details:

And: bonus thoughts that have nothing to do with Hudson Pants…

I’m feeling a little weird about blogging at the moment. I do love being part of the blogging community and the people I’ve met through sewing blogs. But the other day I discovered one particular website/forum (I’m guessing a lot of you would know the one I mean, and if you don’t I don’t want to be driving traffic there if I can) which brought home the risk you take when you put yourself out there. I found it really unnerving. One the one hand, I don’t think blogging should be exempt from mockery (very #firstworldproblems), and I certainly think that some blogs can be bad for your mental health in the same way that glamour mags are, and I am very aware that ‘being nice’ is often just a method used to silence people, especially women. But there’s a line where I feel like the boundary between criticism/discussion* blurs to nastiness and a lot of what I read felt that it went to a darker place. I don’t know what the answer is, but it was kinda eye-opening and I don’t know how I feel about it. So: weird.

*I really do think that the current discussion and debate going on in the sewing blogosphere is really important (the whole pattern testing/disclosure issue that has been talked about ad nauseum over the last couple of months – if you’ve had enough feel free to skip this). My 2 cents: I work in marketing, and I see the sort of ‘blog exposure’ that is starting to be sold as a form of advertising there. So I feel like blogging in general is finally having to come to terms with issues about transparency and disclosure – no longer can we think of blogs as having no impact when they are actually used by people to make purchasing decisions. I do feel like openness is going to be really important to maintain blogging’s integrity – and if that means people should be declaring when they’ve received things for free (like patterns to test, or free fabric or whatever), or have a relationship to a business I am 100% behind it. (I also think that if you are running a business then you should be paying your pattern testers, in the same way you pay your accountant because skills should be valued, but that’s a whole other [endless] discussion.)

Okay, I’ll shut up now.

Hudson fever

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*

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

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

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