Purple Paisley Southport Dress

I purchased this purple paisley lawn with the intention to use it to line the sleeves of view 1 vintage Simplicity 7045. I quickly talked myself out of such a dress. While view 1 has the most sensible sleeves they are still not practical for real life (a sleeve dunked in gravy)!

Having sat in my stash for over a year, and surviving the stash diet not because it was particularly precious or special to me, I decided to use it to make a toile/muslin for the True Bias Southport Dress.

True Bias Southport Dress Front

I’d read a fair number of blog posts about this pattern and took the recommendation of others to make an SBA. This SBA eradicated the front dart completely but I figured that the gathers created by the draw string waist would provide some shaping.

True Bias Southport Dress Side Clutch

I shortened the back bodice to match the new front bodice length, which, measuring from the shoulder would meet my natural waistline perfectly. The skirt pattern pieces were cut to match the bodice at the waist then graded out towards the hips. All this and I hadn’t even cut into any fabric!

True Bias Southport Dress Bodice

The purple paisley measured 1m 10cm – all the main pattern pieces just about fitted but I couldn’t do any pattern matching (consequently the front bodice is a little disappointing) and I had to exclude the pockets.

True Bias Southport Dress Skirt

I sewed it up pretty slowly, testing out 15 minutes sewing most evenings instead of my usual block of hours of weekend sewing. I followed the Southport sew-along on True Bias to break the stages down and used instagram to track my progress. The pattern lends itself to bite-size sewing and it was good to try something different.

True Bias Southport Dress Side

I hoped that this would fit well enough to wear it and it did. The only changes I’ll make to the pattern pieces for the future are to raise the front neckline slightly and take out some fullness from the back bodice. Otherwise, it was a successful toile and I wore it today, not just for blog photos, but for all sorts of Saturday admin.

True Bias Southport Dress Back

While I’m dreaming up a maxi-dress version and potential pattern hacks, tell me what’s on your sewing table? And how do you prefer to sew – little and often or long binges?

The most basic of basics: White Renfrew T-Shirt

There’s been a wave of t-shirt sewing among the blogging community lately. It’s great that we’re embracing sewing the basic items we wear frequently and shunning RTW.

Sewaholic Renfrew White T-shirt

I had a tip off that the white t-shirt jersey from Brunswick Mills (ebay seller: brunswickmill2013) was good quality: excellent recovery, washes well and has high opacity. I can fully recommend this fabric on all factors but it scores top markes for non-see-through-ability.

Sewaholic Renfrew White Tee

I used this t-shirt as an opportunity to test a few more tweaks to the Sewaholic Renfrew pattern based on the fit of my previous versions (Cowl and Long sleeve tee). With a bit more grading between waist and hip, mostly on the back pattern piece, I hoped to avoid a sway back adjustment… sadly not to be. Here I’m displaying the pooling in all it’s glory and with the t-shirt pulled down.

Sway Back Adjustment Predicament

The problem with a sway back adjustment on a garment with no centre back seam is that making it with a horizontal stripe fabric becomes impossible. The adjustment causes the hem line to rise up, the grainline gets skewed and the stripes end up all wonky. So my choice is to either add a centre back seam (really on a knit?!) or to be limited to non-stripe/non-obvious horizontal patterned fabrics. What a predicament to be put in.

Renfrew White T-shirt

Fabric necklace is still going strong after two years, I wonder whether the white t-shirt will avoid food stains for that long. What did you sew this weekend?

Elephant Pyjamas

My penchant for elephants (see here for evidence) and lasting habits of last years’ stash diet have produced a rather interesting pair of pyjamas. The weather is heating up here in the UK so some shorts pyjamas were thrust to the top of my sewing list.

Elephant Pyjamas

I hadn’t intended them to turn out quite so Muai Thai shorts-esque but I didn’t have  enough elephant lawn leftover for both a top and shorts. The contrasting cotton remnant (also from my stash) seemed a good idea at the time.

Elephant Pyjama Shorts

I used a self-drafted pyjama bottoms pattern and made them as long as I could with the fabric I had. Using a 4cm hem to match the hem of the top, I got all particular and changed thread colour for the side panels.

Elephant Pyjamas Top C

The top was a proof of concept make: Could a contrasting fabric work for the front pieces of Burda 04/2014 blouse 115? And could I competently re-draft the armscye to be sleeveless? No and yes respectively – although if you’d asked me to guess prior to sewing I’d have said the contrast was certain to work but my drafting would be doubtful.

Elephant Pyjamas Top A

As pyjamas it’s fine but I don’t think a contrast front can be achieved without some finely honed skills in fabric selection. Which I don’t have. I struggle to mix more than one print/colour into a garment so mostly I opt for matching facings/bindings/lining and avoid combining fashion fabrics all together.

I envisage sewing another shorts pyjama set in the near future… I’ve been online browsing for suitable fabric!

“Life is a pantomime so dress the part”

Let’s recap where I’m up to with Simplicity 1609…

Simplicity 1609 Retro Glasses

I started with a size 12 all over, swivelled the bust dart, lengthened the French dart, took in the side seams to a size 8 at the bust, took 3 1/2 inches from the hem, removed the centre front seam and debated how to eradicate some back neckline gape.

Simplicity 1609 Retro Glasses d

I transferred the adjustments, flagged up by the blue version, to my paper pattern and set to work. This time lining with ivory satin so that it’s a little bit special.

Simplicity 1609 Retro Glasses b

I couldn’t use fashion fabric facings because the black glasses print would show through but it is fully lined and the front neckline is understitched to prevent rolling.

Simplicity 1609 Retro Glasses c

Having just 2 meters of this narrow fabric I didn’t get much choice about pattern matching. The best I could do was ensure that the rows of glasses were level all the way around. I would have liked to match the actual frame styles though.

Simplicity 1609 Retro Glasses e

“Life is a pantomime so dress the part” was the quote that came to mind when I purchased this fabric (Riley Blake, Geeky Chic Collection this is Geeky Glasses by Dorothy Tsang). It’s been in my stash for nearly two years because it was expensive and I was afraid to use it. I’m also not one for novelty prints. Can I pull it off without looking like I’m going to a fancy dress party?

Simplicity 1609 Retro Glasses f

Mustard Tancook and Learning New Techniques

Cables. Ticked off my list of many techniques I want to learn in knitting.

Tancook BFL Debbis Bliss Shawl

The Tancook pattern from Berroco #351 River booklet (I just bought the individual pattern through Ravelry) has just enough cabling (both left and right leaning) to keep a beginner on their toes while they suss out this cabling lark.

Tancook BFL Debbie Bliss

Also, this was my first project using my Knitpro Nova Cubics. I’m really pleased with them so thanks to everyone that offered their advice when I called for help. There was much praise for Knitpros in the comments of that post.

I ripped back to the beginning plenty of times before reaching the row 20 epiphany when the cable concept clicked into place in my brain. From there I was slow but accurate, following the chart stitch by stitch.

By the time I’d finished the more complicated cable crossings of the lower third, I no longer needed the pattern (which switches from chart to written instructions at this stage). This overconfidence led to an error that I couldn’t ignore and ripping back live stitches to fix it. It was worth it though and another new technique (although not previously on the list) was accomplished.

More live stitches

I didn’t knit to the instructed 24 inches (measured down the centre) because it was already looking big enough. Plus even the model looks like she’s drowning in too much fabric in the pattern shots. I got to about 19 inches and called it the end! After blocking, I’m happy with the finished size. Plus, I have leftover yummy mustard yarn for learning another technique: Fair Isle

Tancook BFL

Can we talk yarn for a moment? It’s nice yarn. Not that I have much experience in yarns, I mostly pick on colour, gauge and if anyone else on Ravelry has used it for the pattern I want to make (fool proof but not knowledgeable). All I can tell you is it’s Debbie Bliss Blue Faced Leicester Aran made from British wool and is machine washable – both things make me happy. I need to watch the free Craftsy class ‘Know your wool‘ again. I remember it was fascinating but failed to absorb that important yarn knowledge!

The colour is mustard (46006) and was on sale at C&H for just £2.95 (it’s normally £5.99 or around £4 to £5 if you shop around online). I was wearing my navy stripe Renfrew top when I browsed the yarn selection in the shop and it seemed a beautiful pairing.

Tancook in Debbie Bliss BFL

Are you ever influenced by what you are wearing at the time of purchasing yarn or fabric?

La Slyphide = Total Flop

I’m going to say straight away that I do not like this dress. If the poly crepe fabric, the granny length sleeves and the swooshy skirt weren’t bad enough, I then chose to wear bright blue shoes with black tights on a warm spring day. Bad, bad decision.

La Slyphide l

Sure my poor styling is to blame and choosing a silhouette that I knew didn’t suit me was just foolish. Fit and flare = frump on me. I know this, yet I failed to remember when I added Papercut’s La Sylphide to my Christmas present wish list.

La Slyphide o

The fit is great (XXS at the shoulder and bust grading out to XS at the waist with a considerably lengthened skirt) and the pattern sewed up a treat. The only further fit alterations I’d make would be to raise the waist and pinch out some necktie gape at the back.

La Slyphide p

Before this goes to the charity shop, I’m going to try hacking off the skirt to peplum length. Otherwise, I think the only way this pattern will ever work for me would be to go sleeveless and narrow the skirt to A-line. Note to self: No more fit and flare and ditch the black tights in spring!

La Slyphide n

Neon Nautical Pneuma

I’m so excited to share my latest handmade sportswear today, it’s had three exercise road tests. I insist on road testing sportswear before blogging so I can give you honest descriptions of functionality, sportsbra support, sweat wicking and other details that perhaps I should keep to myself.

I pack in up to 5 hours of exercise a week so that’s plenty of time to check out what my fellow gym goers are wearing. Lately there has been a resurgence of the neon trend but toned down with neutrals. And so, the nautical neon combo For Papercut’s Pneuma pattern was dreamt up mid-press up! Papercut Pneuma Neon Nautical a

It’s always easy to get stuck into a pattern you’ve sewn before but I did make some extra changes this time:

To the sports bra, I removed a smidgen from the front arm curve. In my featherweight pneuma this doesn’t bother me but in my Halogen sportsbra it rubs a little if I’m doing lots of arm movements.

To the tank, I made a full hip adjustment to prevent the back part of the tank riding up. I guess this is to do with my pear shape, most of which I carry in my behind.

Papercut Pneuma Neon Nautical b 

And the very obvious change… the straps. I attached a single strap at each shoulder with a cross at the back to prevent slipping and because I really like funky back straps in sportswear. The four straps of my previous makes get tangled when I put them on, the plush bra elastic gets sweaty and double straps at each shoulder means shoulder muscle (can’t for the life of me remember the name for this muscle from anatomy class – hubby thinks ‘traps’) pain if I wear it for too long.

Remedying all my gripes about my previous makes in one go… these straps are made using regular elastic covered with the same lycra I made the sportsbra from. Sweaty factor reduced to the same as the rest of the sportsbra – I prefer an even feel to sweat rather than troublesome areas. The wideness of the elastic means there is no flipping over or tangling. And, now that I’m happy with the compression the sportsbra gives, I had more confidence to not make the straps as tight so shoulder muscle ache is reduced to that just caused by the workout rather than additional resistance of working against the straps.

Papercut Pneuma Neon Nautical c Inside? Well, this lycra had plenty of recovery and resistance so doubling the layers like I did on my previous Pneuma sports bra was not necessary. Instead I used some power mesh swimwear lining from my stash just because it feels nice.

The fact the functionally of this make scored highly and the colours worked as well as they did in my vision was enough for me. To receive three compliments on it’s first gym session knocked me over the edge!