Sewing the Familiar Pavlova

A meter of purple cotton jersey, which missed the inspiration branches when it fell out of the fabric tree and into my stash last year, suddenly uttered the word ‘Pavlova‘ to me.

Purple Cake Pavlova Wrap Top d

A familiar pattern sewn once before would be the perfect relief from my last few makes which involved complicated pattern hacks and new-to-me patterns. Not to mention a perfect opportunity to drag myself out of a sewing funk (the constraints of my stash diet as I near the end of the year-long challenge has zapped my sew-jo).

Purple Cake Pavlova Wrap Top b

Last year I asked the lovely lady behind Red Point Tailor how she adjusted the pattern to make her long sleeved versions and she generously obliged with not just a reply but a post on how to. This was my only change to the pattern and really easy to do.

Purple Cake Pavlova Wrap Top c

Pneuma Compression

With my chest size (what a way to start a post!) I can get enough bounce control with a regular compression sports bra. I much prefer the cropped tank style since there are no clasps or hooks to cause ab-workout bruising along my spine and no strap sliders to come loose after multiple wash-wear cycles.

Papercut Pneuma Navy Straps

To adapt the Papercut Pneuma Tank pattern, for higher impact workouts with greater oscillatory bounce, I needed further compression to flatten dem’girls against my ribcage. I didn’t want to compromise ribcage expansion (yes, breathing) for the sake of compression though so it wasn’t simply a case of grading down the pattern. What I needed was increased tension of the fabric.

Papercut Pneuma

Simple answer? Two layers of lycra. The inside is the navy nylon lycra I used for my first pneuma tank and the outside is printed lycra from Funki Fabrics leftover from my Halogen bikini.

Papercut Pneuma Halogen 1

The two layers enabled me to sandwich the straps between them to give a really nice finish. I guess this could make it reversible but my strapping is plush on one side and satin on the other so not quite reversible for this make.

Papercut Pneuma Halogen 2

I had a small amount of navy fold-over-elastic so I used that to finish just the front neckline to bring the colour scheme together.

Papercut Pneuma Halogen 3

The double layer works a treat. Not only is it an excellent wicking layer to line the printed lycra (some areas of the design are white unprinted lycra) but bounce and jiggle are completely eradicated. Win.

Some interesting (but not too in depth) resources on the physics of sportsbras and the female anatomy during exercise: Sports Bra Basics, Breast pain and sportsbras, Breast pain research, Bra Physics

Featherweight Pneuma

The Pneuma tank pattern and some sportswear lycra were a birthday present. That’s not to say I hadn’t done my homework in scoping out some better sportswear fabric than I’d used before (here, here and here). I contacted Winnie (who I think you’ll agree knows her stuff when it comes to sewing sportswear) specifically asking if she knew of a suitable top and bottom weight sportswear fabric and she helpfully guided me to UK Fabrics’ nylon lycra. Winnie, thank you, I am so pleased with the navy gorgeousness that arrived after placing my order.

pneuma papercut 1

Having cut into a lot of lycra over the summer for bikini‘s this one was fairly well behaved with just a little curling and no slippage when sewing together. I put some wooly nylon into the loopers of my overlocker to give the extra stretch in the seams that sportswear necessitates.

pneuma papercut 2

The tank part of my Pneuma is a regular cotton jersey, as it’s loose fitting a technical fabric is not completely necessary. Although I don’t normally choose pink, the feathers and navy sucked me into this fabric it’s just a shame it languished for so long in my stash (I have lots leftover though). The Pneuma tank reminds me of the LuLu Lemon sports tops that I incessantly add to my Pinterest Workout Look Great Board, but at a fraction of the cost. Especially the woven crossover straps at the back. I decided that straps as narrow as recommended for this pattern would flip over, twist or dig in too much. I immediately opted for something wider, choosing navy plush one side, satin the other bra strapping from Sewing Chest.

pneuma papercut  3

So you know how I never post a sportswear make without testing it out first? This one scored high for style, compliments and functionality. During two hours of dancing, the wider straps didn’t flip over or move around. The sports bra also exceeded my expectations. I sewed up a straight XXS with no alterations. I expected that they’d be some tweaks to the fit required and that perhaps the level of compression would be suitable for low impact only. Wrong! The fit in the sports bra area seems perfect because I had no riding up, slipping or pinching. Also the compression is about right for dancing (medium to high impact for the type of dancing I do) and I have an idea to increase it for higher impact workouts. And by higher impact, I just mean regular bouncing like running on the spot or jumping jacks. Dancing doesn’t usually induce this unless I’m moshing!

pneuma papercut 4

Stash Diet 2014: Quarter 3: Weigh In

Just one quarter remains for Stash Diet 2014 which means it’s time to track my progress with a weigh-in. Much like a real diet when you realise your clothes feel more comfortable (or even loose), I managed to pick up and weigh my stash as one pile this time!

Stash-tistics at the end of Quarter 3:

Stash fabric height: 45cm (starting 90cm/ Q1 76cm/ Q2 56cm) 
Stash fabric weight: 12.4kg 
(starting 23.5kg/ Q1 18.8kg/ Q2 14.8kg)
Scrap fabric weight: 0.7kg 
(starting 1.3kg/ Q1 1.2kg/ Q2 1.7kg)
Total stash weight: 13.1kg (starting 24.8kg/ Q1 20.0kg/ Q2 16.5kg) —> Goal weight 12.4kg

September Stash Diet

The tape on the wall indicate my starting, quarter 1 and quarter 2 stash heights.

Last quarter I was getting desperate over the bulging scrap fabrics box. I don’t enjoy small crafting projects and I’m constantly fighting the clutter to keep my home minimalistic. It turns out someone was willing to pay a few pounds to buy a kilogram of scrap fabric on ebay for their crafting needs and that suited me. This listing was an experiment but it seems a viable option for keeping scraps under control in the future. I’ve also started to use scraps fabric for pockets, binding and facings in some makes. I used to stick with self-fabric facings for fear colours/patterns would look silly together but I’m slowly coming round to the idea that I can cautiously make good pairings.

What else? Well there have been fabric purchases here and there this quarter. I crumbled under the excitement of sewing bikinis and splurged on printed-to-order lycra, although I have sportswear plans for the off-cut giving that purchase some milage. Then I created potentially my favourite make ever, made possible only by purchasing a viscose-cotton blend which wasn’t available in my stash. Finally I wangled a birthday present fabric to elevate my sportswear sewing. But enough of me justifying fabric purchases. I need to stay focused for the final quarter as I have just 0.7kg to go to achieve my goal stash weight. Although I’ve always striven to exceed expectations so I won’t stop at just meeting a goal, I’m motivated to smash it.

8 Month Knit Project

8 months to the day and it’s sleeveless!

Rainy Day Vest 2

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to stop knitting accessories (mainly cowls) and finally make something more substantial. I do most of my knitting while traveling (trains and planes, not my daily commute) so it was always going to be a long haul project. I just didn’t realise quite how long and I had grown frustrated by slow progress within a few months. By the time I divided for the armholes I had renewed enthusiasm and could see the end in sight.

Rainy Day Vest 6

Oh and what an end it was. Exactly 8 months since I started the project, I stayed up late, YouTube ‘three needle bind off’ and ‘bind off in seed stitch’ waking poor hubby up. I managed to figure out a three needle bind off in seed stitch but it was more through a lucky first attempt. It was the slowest, heart stopping bind off ever as I awkwardly held the needles, clumsily tried not to drop any stitches and worked the yarn in time to hubby’s snoring.

Here's the inside shoulder seam - three needle bind off in seed stitch.

Here’s the inside shoulder seam – three needle bind off in seed stitch.

And the same shoulder seam on the right side.

And the same shoulder seam on the right side.

So you’d like some details now, right? Okay.

Rainy Day Vest 8

The pattern is Rainy Day Vest from Emma Robertson’s Knitting by Design. I really like the book with it’s more modern patterns and thoughtful approach to choosing yarn. I’m going to forgo the leather pocket… I don’t like the feel of leather and never intended to attach it. I knitted the smallest size, for a 34 inch bust, exactly as set. I know nothing about altering the size of knitwear through tweaking the pattern but I knew the open style would lend itself to being slightly too big.

Rainy Day Vest 5

The yarn is Malabrigo worsted in Tortuga. It’s a charcoal, smokey black and plum merino – gorgeous. I’ve knitted with the same yarn in different colourways before and knew the feel of it well. I was glad I added an extra skein to my basket because I used about 8 meters from the last skein and the armholes would have been too small to join the shoulder seams any earlier.

Rainy Day Vest 9

I’m really pleased to have got this make off the needles and onto my shoulders. I learnt some new knitting techniques and got a totally wearable item out of the process. Although I’m not too keen on the outfit I chose to photograph for this blog post, I’m sure after a few wears I’ll have found better ways to style it.

Rainy Day Vest 7

What’s on your needles?

Thurlows with Wings

Sewaholic Thurlow Side 2

Just so you know, I’m not over my Lonsdale Love affair  (dress, skirt, jumpsuit), not yet anyway. I’m playing the Sewaholic field, flirting with Thurlows.

Sewaholic Thurlow Fron

The toile/muslin to adjust the crotch depth and curve to my usual specifications went smoothly. However, I made a toile in shorts length so I couldn’t have forseen the crazy fabric ripples that are the back view…

Sewaholic Thurlow Back

I can’t find this exact problem in Sewing pants that Fit (my only trouser sewing resource) so if you know how to fix this fitting issue do enlighten me! While we’re at the back, can we briefly discuss the back extension? It’s a nice idea but just redundant for me. I doubt I’ll gain weight in my sway back to need to adjust it in the future, a huge seam allowance is just going to show through the trousers like a glaring VPL not to mention interference with the pockets and the multiple steps of attaching the waistband is a right faff. I edited the feature out and now I feel guilty because Tasia put a lot of thought into that area being difficult to fit and I’m just so ungrateful for it. I’m sorry.

Sewaholic Thurlow Welt Pocket

I’d never made welt pockets before but after practicing two on the toile using both the pattern instructions and Lauren’s sewalong posts, I was ready to chop into my fashion fabric. I’d also never made a zip fly before but I didn’t consciously realise this was my first time till it was all sewn up.

Reversible fabric

In fabric terms I had just my stash to work with but handily the grey suiting I made my Simplicity 4044‘s from had a good looking wrong side. The right side is a blue and light grey pinstripe on a dark grey background while the wrong side is a mid-grey speckled herringbone… yay for wrong sides and extra meterage! I’ve also been showing my friends the wrong side at the hem to prove it’s the same fabric!

Sewaholic Thurlow Front Fly

And remember the penguin quilting cotton I made a glasses case out of for a Christmas present? I had just enough of that left over for pockets and fly-facing. So these Thurlows have wings!

Sewaholic Thurlow Penguins 1 Sewaholic Thurlow Penguin Pockets

Heritable Crafting

Unfortunately I returned home from holidays to sad news. I didn’t sew for the remainder of August, instead slowly sorting through four biscuit tins of crafting items with mixed emotions as you might imagine. I wanted to share some of these things with you as it’s always nice to see crafting implements of days gone by and I need some help identifying some of them!

Unlike me, this lady had a penchant for scissors with 5 pairs in these four tins alone (I am told there are more if I want them – I wouldn’t use them though as I really like my left-handed fabric scissors). I’ve also never seen a tailor’s chalk holder like that but I imagine it’s quite useful.

Inherited Scissors

This next little lot tickled me. Coats bias binding for 27 1/2 pence – the half pence went out of use in 1984. The lace is a little faded but what a racy colour of red, don’t you think?27 and a half pence binding

Next up just a tiny selection of the thread that was stored in the tins. Some are wooden like these ones but most are plastic spools. One of the biscuit tins has dividers in so I sorted the thread back into it by colour. Limes and yellows were the most popular and I got wondering whether this was because my relative liked to sew garments in those colours or if the thread is leftover as she made those shades less frequently?


Inherited wooden spools


And finally, can you help me to identify any of these items? I think the top left is a stitch holder for knitting but the other two have me baffled. Any ideas?

Inherited mystery items