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!

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.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

SEWN: BRONZED LEATHER

Sometimes a fabric demands to be used even when you know it's not quite right.


I adored the burnished finish of this leather the moment it winked at me from a shelf up high.

Oh yes, this was the one. The perfect fit for my Quirky Diva.


Interestingly the metallic shade in my Diva fabric is silver. But it seems to be warmed by the charcoal accents making this warmer bronze/gold shade a match made in heaven.

This leather's super soft hand made this a clear emotional purchase rather than a considered one... super soft leather is not exactly the best choice for what I originally wanted to be a fairly structured bag. But when a fabric demands to be used, you make it work, dammit!


This is a self-drafted envelope clutch very similar in construction to my Scuba Clutch. In fact, I had to do the same fix to ensure the bag had enough structure.


As you can see, I used a piece of slightly lighter weight black leather to line the back of the clutch, combined with an internal credit card pocket.

I used a very nicely coordinating upholstery thread and machine sewed the seams. I fully intended hand punching and hand sewing the seams and was quite wedded to that idea, even buying the waxed Irish linen thread.

But I was finding it impossible to punch through three layers of leather and time was running out. Canberra Frocktails was but one sleep away and I had no more time to lose!


And this time my Janome completely behaved itself - for the record I used a size 14 leather needle, a regular presser foot and upholstery thread. I did not use a Teflon foot or walking foot and I truly did not have an issue.

I did remember the Wonder Tape! The side seams were "pinned" in place with Wonder Tape for sewing. A much better option to ensure accuracy than the pegs I used last time.


I used a post thingy as a fastener (seriously, I cannot for the life of me remember the name for it!). It works a treat and I like the look.

I love the result. Gold/bronze is a neutral to me and I can see myself getting lots of use from this clutch.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

SEWN: THE QUIRKY DIVA

Meet The Quirky Diva.


Not me! The dress!


Though to be honest she makes me feel quite the quirky diva myself.

I am finally creating pieces that make me squeal with delight at how very me they are. I'm not joking about the squealing, I'm squealing now. It's getting a little embarrassing. I'm not normally a squealer...


This mind blowing fabric is a divine Collette Dinnigan brocade I scored from Pitt Trading*.

But boy was she quite the diva. She actually sewed up beautifully, no slippery shenanigans and pressing quite nicely, though I only pressed the reverse side. Her diva-ishness showed up in her ability to unravel before your very eyes, her fraying eating away at my very modest 1cm seam allowance like a crazy thing at the lightest of handling. I am sooooooo thankful I didn't pre-wash and if you do I would definitely suggest overlocking/serging the raw edges prior to that process.

I decided to keep this dry clean only and skipped a pre-wash. I adooooooooore the hand of this fabric. Huge amounts of body and little to no drape. It was exactly what I had in mind for my Frocktails dress. I did not want to potentially lose those properties to a dunk in the sink.


Yep, you'll be seeing this just as I'm donning its gorgeousness and swanning off to Canberra Frocktails for an evening of cocktails, fun and frivolity (and a fair bit of fabric stroking) with a bunch of other sewing/crafty bloggers. Squeeeeee! So much excitement!

And it's a remake! Did you pick it? It's another Traffic Stopper albeit with some alterations and deviations from the original (click on that blog link for further info).

I removed all topstitching...

Utterly perfect neckline
... instead blind handstitching the neckline bias binding to the inside.

Definitely a TNT sleeved dress pattern for me - perfect fit across the shoulders
And let me tell you - I'm converted. This is the most perfect neckline I've created. I'm sure sending that neckline through the machine twice with completely machine-stitched bias facings just lends itself to significant stretching and warping of the neckline, even when I'm careful and have stay stitched (which I always do).

I finished all seams with my overlocker. I originally considered French seams, but this fabric is quite lusciously heavy and I wasn't convinced it would work. The overlocking has kept those raw edges perfectly well-behaved.


You'll notice I also omitted the neck slit and sewed the top sleeve seam slit closed whilst retaining the beautiful tulip shape to the sleeve (also hand stitching the hem).

I envisaged echoing the tulip shape of the sleeve by creating a definite A-line shape to the skirt. I achieved this by grading the pattern from the size 8 bodice out to size 12 at the lower hem. I knew this fabric would hold the shape well and I'm so pleased with the result. (NB: excuse all the "penguin" poses as I was trying to show the full shape!).


It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but this is, for me, my biggest ever WOOOOOOHOOOOOOO! It's everything I would want in a winter appropriate cocktail dress that I'd likely never find in store, in a perfect fit and at a price that allows me to get the cocktails in. Next up.... the matching leather clutch.

I'm off to Frocktails now...



*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.