Tuesday, 1 September 2015

SEWN: THE OBNOXIOUS TOP


Careful. If you look too long at this baby it'll sear itself permanently upon your retinas.


Oh, but don't you just want to look?

At that gloriously amazing perfect geo bright fabric??

Or maybe it's just obnoxious... same same.


I never intended this fabric for a garment. I did stroke it lovingly when I spotted it in Spotlight, but I thought it was just a bit too much. I actually purchased it to make a Furoshiki bag back last Christmas when every man and his dog received one from me. But ummmm... stretch cotton sateen. Hello, Jillian? Stretch fabrics don't always work particularly well for bags...

And so it made its way into my stash where I continued to lovingly stroke it obsessively from time to time pondering what exactly I could do with a scant 1m cut.

Enter this top of magnificance!!
I adore this top at woohoo levels. It might not be for everyone, but I am currently feeling crop top and peplum love and, well, Japanese patterns are pretty much my entire "thing" these days, so BIG SURPRISE!

This is Top M Circle Sleeve Short Blouse from Yuko Takada's I Love Tops. As far as I'm aware this book is yet to be translated into English so for the record I used the Japanese publication.


And no, I neither read nor speak Japanese. I don't suggest you make your first foray into working with Japanese patterns books with a non-translated volume or with limited sewing experience. If like me, however, you have some experience in sewing and have tried a few of the English translated books you should be all good. I'm a hugely visual person and the diagrams are always excellent in Japanese pattern books. There was only one step that tripped me up, but I was soon on my way again.

I made a straight size large. Which is surprising as I've not been described as large even once in my life, but that size almost exactly matched my measurements. The one conundrum was that the size chart included only height, waist and hip measurements. Makes it kinda hard to pick a top size without a bust measurement. I did therefore make a quick and dirty toile of the bodice, noting that the bust darts where too far out. I moved their position in, aligning them with the dart legs for the medium size.


It's still very roomy, particularly the armscye width and depth. If I flail my arms around like I'm going off at a dance party you might get a bit more of a view of my brassiere than you bargained for. But given my lack of a predilection for dance parties I think we're good. And I'm all for a boxy top.

It is definitely cropped, so if you are long-torsoed like me or live in hipster pants or jeans you're likely to be flashing you midriff, so if that's not your thing (and let's face it, after our teen years it's rarely what we aim for) you might want to lengthen it or layer over a longer tank.

It works great with my new wide-legged jeans and just about maintains my modesty with my every-present skinnies.


Ha! Gotcha! Outfit change - actually different day, different time. All in an effort to get a decent shot. The colours seemed to do weird things to my beloved camera.

People, I've seriously boarded my own little WOOHOO train. And all in time for the first day of Spring.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

SEWN: DENIM DISCIPLE


I am a disciple of denim.

To be more exact I am completely preoccupied with finding the perfect shade of indigo.

For me that's a deep clear indigo with a white weft (you know when the weave shows through slightly white?). Any other weft colour can make the blue look dirty or murky.


This denim is the perfect shade of indigo.

Secondly, I am obsessed with indigo blue skinny jeans (disturbingly swaying towards jeggings more and more). If I am not wearing lycra then, in winter at least, I will be found in my uniform of skinny jeans, boots/brogues and a cardigan or sweater.

This winter I wanted something a little different. Not a move away from denim, lord forbid, but maybe a different shape. In fact a shape completely at odds with the skinny silhouette.


I think I achieved it.

Mind you these babies spent some time in the naughty corner whilst I sulked about them. I knew pairing a rigid medium weight denim with my TNT pants pattern was always risky. Too much volume, not enough drape, yada yada. I felt like I was wearing clown pants. Perfectly fitting clown pants, but clown pants nonetheless.

I tried an extra few launderings to see if the denim would soften. It didn't to any great extent. I might have pouted. I may have lost a little sewjo. It wasn't pretty.


So I threw them literally into a corner, scrunched up in a sad little pile and took a time out. But I can't leave a project uncompleted. I'm not one for UFO's. If it doesn't work then scrap it and move on. And lo and behold if I didn't grab these suckers out of the naughty corner, shake them out and find that in their crinkled up state they had shamefacedly miraculously redeemed themselves!

That bit of roughing up saw them start to drape, to fall prettily, to basically live up to my vision. WOOHOOOOOOOO!


This is my third iteration of my now very-much-so tried and true pants pattern. Starting life as the perfect culottes, then the perfect swishy fancy pants and now these. Clearly I also like pairing indigo and yellow.

These underwent a few further tweaks. I kept the waist and hip fitting the same as they are still stupidly perfect.


I did want to raise the crotch depth/length (seriously I can never get these terms straight) so they'd look less skirt-like and more trouser. I shortened the length of the crotch seam by just over 1/4 inch both front and back before the curve of the crotch seam commenced (there was a handy shorten/lengthen line on the original pattern). This has raised the depth perfectly for a more standard pair of pants. I was worried it would completely mess up the fit, but the photos above and below completely put that to rest.


I also lengthened the leg by 14 inches, but kept the hem width the same as the culottes (as opposed to the ridiculous hem on the fancy pants/cat's pyjamas), and when hemming simply overlocked the raw edge, turned up 1 inch and machine sewed with a long stitch. I wanted to ensure the hem didn't get too "stiff" and structured to ensure the best drape and it worked superbly.

These are 100% completely "me". I feel utterly comfortable in these and for that reason they are perfect. Denim perfection.


And just in time for summer. Derp!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

SEWN: SECOND SKIN

I totes made activewear!


I totes feel compelled to use words like "totes" even though I am comfortably into my 40's. Whatevs! I totally made technical tights!


Tights of technical prowess. Lycra even! Python print and stretch floral lace! A second skin!

And let it be said they are goooooood.


Your gonna get photobombed... I'm sorry.

About a month ago Julia from Pitt Trading was in touch to let me know the mother lode of mother lode drops of swimwear lycra (from a local designer) had arrived. Delicious, scrumptious, totally divine printed lycra. Julia was interested in showcasing other garments that can be made out of what might generally only be considered for swimwear.

I was flummoxed at first. I mean I'm not known for sewing with knits and I certainly hadn't thought of myself as someone who wears lycra out of water.

What the....???? I spend four days out of seven in lycra and sometimes on the days in between. For those who don't know, my day job is as an Exercise Physiologist. I work in musculoskeletal rehabilitation within a combined Physiotherapy and clinical Pilates practice.

I wear lycra. Everyday.

And when I'm not working I'm often training (running usually, but my knees are giving me grief) and wearing lycra.

My thoughts turned to making a pair of technical tights. Not casual, simple leggings, but tights the likes of Nike or Running Bare. Tights I might like to wear at work in the clinic as well as out on the road.

And who better to ask for advice than the gorgeous Maria of How Good Is That? I've long admired Maria. The woman has some serious skillz. And when it comes to making one's own activewear, there really is no one other than Maria. Check. Her. Out

Maria was so very encouraging and promised to hold my hand if I needed. I nearly wept with relief. Lycra gives me the willies. Slippery, slithery, stretchy lycra. The last time I worked with you was in my 20's and you were made into a long line, side ruched boob tube. Oh yes you were. And I looked good (give me a break, it was the 90's).

Maria sews with a lot of Pitt Trading fabrics and so we decided to do a joint project - making garments from lycra our own ways, to be revealed on our blogs at about the same time.

Maria made a gorgeous dress and a technical workout tee with her fabrics. Seriously, I just want to climb inside Maria's wardrobe and learn EVERYTHING.

I hit upon Jalie 3462 Cora Running Tights and Shorts. My idea of perfect technical tights - crotch gusset (ensuring no *ahem* camel toe *ahem*), no inseam (nasty chafing, you), multi-paneled for perfect fit, and a functional pocket big enough for an iPhone or decent set of keys. Jackpot!


I picked out this awesome python printed lycra for the main, and wanted to soften the look somehow. The lovely Susan of Measure Twice Cut Once (and Pitt Trading worker on the side) suggested stretch lace on the calf - I wasn't sold. But hello, clever, forward thinking Susan - check out her genius!!


LOVE!!

I picked my size based on my full hip measurement as specified in the patterns notes and they fit beautifully. I made no alterations at all. I would suggest sizing down one size if you prefer a super tight fit and the lycra is soft-ish.

The pattern pieces all came together like a perfectly planned jigsaw making construction a total joy. I used my overlocker/serger with a 4 thread stitch for pretty much the entire garment. My overlocker adored the lycra and I made no changes to tension or differential feed!

I changed to the lightening bolt stitch on my regular sewing machine to sew in the crotch gusset (to improve precision) and the waistband to its facing. I topstitched the gusset seams with a twin needle (stitch length 3.5mm) and woolly nylon in the bobbin. The woolly nylon helps to preserve a stretchy seam. I used the same method for hemming the legs.

I used a regular zigzag stitch to topstitch the pocket and waistband elastic.
Perfect, comfy waistband - no accidental undies on show. iPhone hiding in the pocket.
Such soft, but nicely form-fitting lycra. It feels the perfect weight and divinely soft. This is actually my second pair and I prefer the fit. Even though I cut the one size for both, this lycra has a lovely stretch that makes me feel slightly less like an over-stuffed sausage.

Enter stage right... The Talaria Tights! (thank you for the name Sarah).


May I run like the wind in my winged/feathered tights of the Gods! Fabric is Amethyst Feather.

So these were my toile. I loved them when I first put them on. But on making my second, python pair I'm aware of some problems. I had to cut the fabric on the crossgrain to ensure the print ran the "right" way. This particular lycra stretched less on the crossgrain so these tights are tighter.


I used a stretch mesh on the calf in these and it's very comfy.

You can certainly see the seamlines of the panels on this version... which is nice...


But I might add that the lycra when stretched fully (think, ass when bending over or down) is slightly less opaque than I'd like. Not indecent, but I'd have to consider what undies I was wearing...

Sightly too tight waistband elastic
And the base lycra fabric is white. When the seams stretch open, as they naturally do on wearing a pair of tights, the white shows through making it looked a bit like the tights are too tight...

Tight waistband!
But I'll wear them! Even if it's just because they allow me to do this.

 I totes made technical tights!

*Thanks go to Pitt Trading who provided my choice of fabric and notions free of charge for this project in exchange for images of my completed make for their use. Opinions are all my own.