Bold and Neon Southport Maxi Dress

This fabric has a much bolder print than I would normally wear. I had circled ‘the man outside Sainsbury’s’ stall on Walthamstow market a few times selecting a red jersey and a grey marl jersey (both plain, staple fabrics that easily fit into a wardrobe). It was a particularly hot day and this fabric kept catching my eye. I asked him to add a few meters to my bag figuring that the worst case would be using it for a drapey toile/muslin.

Southport Maxi Dress a (480x640)

The neon bias binding I tracked down on ebay. Despite selecting the colour via a computer screen, it turned out to be a pretty good match for the random neon green/yellow splotches on the fabric.

Southport Maxi Dress e (640x450)

After making my first Southport dress, a maxi version leap frogged my sewing queue to meet an end of summer deadline. I removed some excess fabric from the skirt and bodice at the back and raised the neckline by half an inch. Other than that, the details for the pattern were the same as my previous make.

Southport Maxi Dress b (457x640)

I had a long hard think about pattern placement. A large flower on my back, I am fine with but I really didn’t want one on the front bodice. Yet, on the front I had to do some pattern matching at the button placket or it would have looked too haphazard.

Southport Maxi Dress d (480x640)

I’m still not sure it’s quite the right print for me but I’m willing to give it a few test wears before making a final decision whether to add it to the charity shop bag or not. As for the other purchases: the grey marl jersey is cut out and the red jersey it is awaiting blog photos.

Southport Maxi Dress c (480x640)

Liola Patterns Ella Top

I hope you are enjoying the summer as much as I am. Between sunny weekends, weddings, christenings and birthday barbecues, I haven’t done much sewing. However, my latest finished items epitomises summer and was finished just as the rain arrived: a cotton voile tank.

Liola Patterns Ella Top f

Have you heard of Liola Patterns? I hadn’t either till I saw Elena’s Ella Tank. The yoke and pleat caught my attention and the easily wearable shape helped me to justify the pattern purchase!

Liola Patterns Ella Top b

The fabric was spotted during an idle ebay browsing session (ebay seller: ontrendfabrics). I was won over by the abstract print, colours and because I hadn’t sewn with voile before it was going to be a new fabric experience.When it was delivered, the voile was (excuse my ignorance if you are a fabric identification whiz) a lighter, more sheer version of lawn. Yep, all the joy of being easy to sew coupled with a surprising amount of drape for a cotton.

Liola Patterns Ella Top i

The drape and sheerness was lovely but just a little too indecent to be worn as a top – I underlined in plain white voile which made the bright colours pop just a little more.

Liola Patterns Ella Top g

The Ella tank pattern has a faced yoke but having already underlined the shell fabric, I French seamed the yoke seam and omitted the facing. And why stop there, I French seamed the shoulder and side seams too – a great way to turn a quick project into something more substantial and double the sewing time required to complete it!

Liola Patterns Ella Top d

The neckline and arms are finished with bias binding so I echoed that stitching by top stitching the back yoke.

Liola Patterns Ella Top c

I made a few alterations to the pattern pieces: raised and rotated the bust darts, lowered and scooped out the armscye, graded in at the waist, full hip adjustment and a forward shoulder adjustment.  Some typical alterations for me and a couple of new ones.

Liola Patterns Ella Top a

I’m happy with the end result though. Very wearable and very me.

Liola Patterns Ella Top e

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?