I have a really bad habit of trying to cram in a bunch of last-minute sewing just before I go away on holiday, when most normal people would be packing their suitcase or reading through guidebooks. But no, I decide to sew up a pair of trousers and a bikini in the week before I leave!
I’d sewn up a swimsuit once before, but I’m not even sure whether I actually wore it in the water at all, as I hardly ever go swimming, and I’d moved away from one-pieces and that one had zero bust support so it just flattened the girls. But discovering that Team GB had been allocated the posh beachfront hotel with the pool, sauna and jacuzzi for the World Transplant Games gave me renewed enthusiasm to cram in the retro bikini patterns included in the August Seamwork magazine (which you can buy separately if you’re not a subscriber).
The Reno halter bikini top has ties around the neck and the back, separate seamed cups, and is also fully lined. The August issue (free!) gives tips on selecting and sewing swimsuit fabrics and elastics, and also how to insert boning, underwires, or foam cups if you prefer. I opted for the latter, since I had some in my stash anyway, though my foam cups were a little bigger than the lining piece, and I had to trim some off.read more >>
I’ve been a subscriber of Seamwork magazine since issue one back in December, and can I just say that they are killing it with the digital format, pattern bundling, and freemium vs add-on price point? Seriously, this is the future of not just sewing magazines, but magazines. I’m proud to be both a subscriber and a contributor (look out for more of my writing in the June issue!), to be honest! When I saw the cropped “Astoria” sweater in the April 2015 issue, I just knew I was going to sew it! The nice thing about Seamwork (which is made by the Colette Patterns team) is that subscribers get both patterns on the 1st of the month, but if you’re dawdling and don’t notice a great pattern until someone like me sews it up a month or two later, you can still go back and buy the pdf pattern on its own (and they include Copy Shop versions, too).
All the Seamwork patterns are designed to be sewn in an hour, and, just like the Oslo cardigan I made back in January, this one came together in a single evening. Also, I appear to only make Seamwork patterns in wool jerseys, ha!
I couldn’t believe my luck when this pattern appeared, as I’d just bought some gorgeously soft green merino wool jersey at Mood in NYC mere days before! I’d only bought 2 yards (which I’d regretted once I got home!) for $18/yd, but happily there was enough there to cut the long-sleeved version of this plus still have enough leftover for a winter running buff.
I made size Large since my waist and hips corresponded best to that size, though my bust is a Medium on their chart. At first I made size Large with no alterations, but I wasn’t 100% sold on the fit. It took a whole day of me wearing it to decide that it’d be better with the sides taken in by 2cm (an inch) on each side. In hindsight, I could’ve gone with the Medium, I think.
So I cut off the hem band, took in the sides from the armpits down (taking off the same 2cm from each of the hem band seams, too!), and overlocked the hem band back on, this time with only the minimum seam allowance to avoid shortening the hem any more than necessary. And the fit is waaaaaaaay more to my liking now!read more >>
Last Friday I talked about the new digital magazine, Seamwork and my article on activewear fabrics in the latest issue. Each issue comes with two quick-and-easy pdf patterns, which you can get on subsciption for $6 USD an issue (so they’re $3 each).
I’m a little behind, but on my last day of the Christmas holidays, I decided to sew up the Oslo Cardigan from the first (December) Seamwork magazine. Since this is from a former issue, I’m not sure whether you can actually purchase this pattern anymore (if you subscribe now, you’ll get the January patterns – a very nice bias cami and cuffed leggings).
My measurements fit pretty neatly into their size Medium but all the Seamwork patterns go up to 3XL, which is brilliant for plus-sized sewists! I was really happy with the fit on this cardigan – it’s nice and slim without being either baggy or tight, and the sleeves are the perfect length for me (a little over the wrist). The hem comes down just over my bum.
All the Seamwork patterns claim to be able to be sewn in 2 hours or less. After piecing together the pdf pattern (it also comes with a copy shop version) and cutting out my fabric, it only took 55min for me to sew together!read more >>
A few months ago, I went and sewed up the Clover trouser pattern for the first time, in dark green sateen. Having fixed the zipper (my own mistake), I realised that I love the great fit of these trousers, but they’d be even better with traditional pockets and a front fly more like jeans… in fact, I’d actually just like some Clover jeans.
So that’s exactly what I did!
I first altered the pattern to create the front pockets (and I extended the pocket lining piece to the centre front to make a “gut slimming” panel), add a fly-front, and extend front waistband to match the fly underlap. I also added back pockets and belt loops off another jeans pattern. I didn’t bother to draft a back yoke as I actually prefer the look of jeans without them, and the back darts just disappear into the pockets anyway.
This stretch denim is ex-designer from Ditto Fabrics and it’s the exact same stuff I used in these designer jeans (I loved it so much I bought more). The pocket linings and waistband facings are fun Spoonflower cotton prints – Rainy Day Doodles for the pocket linings and fly underlap, and foxes for the inner waistband (the latter by my mate Galia!).read more >>
I know this is sure to shock you (ha!), but I received a fair few sewing-related Christmas gifts this year…
The Colette Sewing Handbook – I’ve only cracked the surface of the content here, but I love it already. It’s so comprehensive and ends up being greats for beginners as well as old hats like me. And how chuffed was I to see FehrTrade.com in the Recommended Reading List??
I received a slew of novels and cookbooks from my WishList, amoungst those were the sewing-related novels Pleating for Mercy and The Seamstress of Hollywood Boulevard. I’m just hoping they’re better written than Laura’s Handmade Life, which I struggled to even finish earlier this year and is now on the charity shop pile (god knows why it has so many 5 star reviews on Amazon – it was so bad it was almost insulting)…
I also received a really cute ModCloth spool headphone keeper – it’s made of silicone to look like an oversized thread spool, but to keep your headphones tidy (my earbuds are tucked inside).read more >>
Back on the 17th I set some bold goals to finish by New Year’s:
I thought it was time for a little progress report, seeing as how I only have a few days to go…
Paco’s Drape Collar Tunic– I sewed this up in an evening before Christmas. Though I had to get very creative in order to get long sleeves out of the 2m of sweater knit I bought… Note to self: Buy more yardage, or shorten the body length next time! Clover jeans– I just finished these! I’m totally loving the fit and the (IMHO) improved pockets, too.
- Holly’s maternity maxi-dress, Burda 08/2008 #125 – Having no place to cut the fabric of the enormous skirt pieces, I actually took it along to work yesterday and cut it out on the big (and empty) lunch table at lunchtime! The few guys left in the office already think I’m weird anyway. Shrug. In any case, this is now ready to sew!
- Ruby Slip – I wanted to cut the skirt pieces at the same time I cut out the maxi dress, but the low table height was killing my back by the time I finished with the maxi dress. I don’t think this will take long to sew together if I can ever find somewhere to cut the single-layer, bias layout… A good cutting area is my new productivity choke point.
… I want to make:
- Clover jeans – I love the fit of my Clover trousers so much, but I don’t like the pockets or side opening. I’m altering the pattern to be more like jeans! (oh yeah – I did fix the zipper in the end…)
- Ruby Slip – The pattern is printed and taped, but not yet traced. I have the perfect silk in my stash, and I bought some to-die-for wide lace at MacCulloch & Wallis on Friday
- Paco’s Drape Collar Tunic – This is already traced and I’ve got the perfect purple sweater knit hanging around from last winter. This should be a quickie on the overlocker
- Holly’s maternity maxi-dress, Burda 08/2008 #125 – The bodice is traced, I’ve done a first muslin, and the fabric is ready to go. Her birthday’s on Boxing Day, so I’m aiming early!
I’ve got to go into work on the 27th-29th, but I’ve still got a lot of days off to hole up in my sewing cave. Most years I end up making a coat over the Christmas break, but I don’t really have much need this year so I thought I’d focus my attentions elsewhere instead.read more >>
There’s only four pattern pieces (five if you count the pockets) so this is about as simple as trousers get, and Colette have rated this as for Beginners, too. My first step was to make up a quick muslin in some super cheap stretch viscose I had on hand, but I hadn’t realised that the stretch was lengthwise until midway throgh cutting it, meaning there’d be no stretch around the body.
And you know what? These trousers still fit like a dream, with zero fitting wrinkles! I kid you not! It’s like Sarai came and measured me in my sleep or something (really, that’s bordering on creepy right there!). The only alteration I made with this final version was to add 2” to the leg length at the indicated line. Otherwise View A (the longer length) were still above my ankle bone when unhemmed. I’m not sure what height Colette drafts for, but I usually have to lengthen Burda trousers, too (but not Knip!) so I’d guess it’s around the 5’6” range.
I’m happy to say that this version in a nicer (but not terribly much more expensive) fabric fit just as well around the waist and hips, and are now the perfect length, too!
Even Bosco couldn’t resist coming along to rub up against them!read more >>
I went on a wee pattern spree last week! With my monthly supply of pattern magazines, I don’t tend to buy one-off patterns very often, but I’ve been very tempted by some new offerings from independent companies, so I decided to splurge and buy a few.
Cinnamon is a bias-cut camisole or dress, and it’s from their previous lingerie collection. Reading through the instructions, there are a few changes I’m going to make to the cups to improve the finish, but I’m really keen to give this a go, and I don’t have anything similar in a bias-cut already in my magazine archive.
Clover is their first trouser pattern from the newest collection, and I was so excited to try this that I’ve already made up a muslin and my first pair! I knew it was Meant To Be when I tried on the muslin and had zero fitting wrinkles, but even crazier is that I’d accidentally made my muslin in fabric with zero width-wise stretch, which means the pattern is that awesome on me with no stretch to help it along!!read more >>
Every now and then I mention a few people from my personal life when they enter into my sewing world for whatever reason, but regular readers will probably recognise the name of “Neighbour Helen” more than most. As a neighbour, close friend, and convenient fashion industry alumni, she’s helped me assess muslins, balance proportions, learn how to rotate darts, and she even drew the amazing illustration for my free ruffled wristlet pattern!
So I was very saddened to hear that she and her husband are moving their barge to France in a few weeks’ time, to travel through the French canals for the foreseeable future (ok, saddened and jealous!). Since it was also her birthday, my gift to her was to make her a silk blouse of her choosing.
She chose the gorgeous chrysanthemum silk that was leftover from my blouse and I even let her try mine on, but she felt my top was too blousy for her and requested a simple shell instead.
So I turned to the new (and free!) Colette Patterns Sorbetto top!
I made a few changes, though – the most obvious is that I eliminated the central pleat (which would have been too busy with the large scale print), and I lengthened hem by 3” as others said this came up short.read more >>
My favourites of 2010:
- My wedding gown!
- Silver tweed jacket
- Navy riding trousers
- Nude sheath dress
- Patrones cowl top
- KnipMode draped dress
(and I switched to a larger thumbnail size when I revamped the site, too!
Standout moments in sewing land:read more >>
It feels like I’ve been talking about sewing the Colette Patterns Beignet skirt for ages now, but it’s mostly because I’ve just been so busy with life (running, socialising, wedding planning, the boat, and my garden, mostly) right now that I’ve been sewing in tiny increments here and there! But it’s finally complete, and I even managed to sew up the bias cowl top from Patrones 292 (#19) to wear with it!
Even though these go so well together, I’ve actually got no shortage of other things in my wardrobe to wear with either, so there’s no “orphan coordinates” here! And I managed to sneak some mustard and navy into my wardrobe a bit earlier than I’d planned, too!read more >>
Last week you got to see the newest Patrones that Aisling sent over, but you all have been far too good to me, because last week I also got a surprise parcel from Daisy!
She did some awesome detective work and worked out my size and style and picked out Simplicity 2754 and Butterick 5317 for me! And she did a great job, because I really like them both! I always have a hard time seeing the potential with the Project Runway patterns because the pattern covers are so horribly done that you can’t see any details at all, and Simplicity’s site makes it really awkward to browse by technical drawing (what I do as a general rule with Burda magazine previews). Anyway, as it turns out, I really like the details of this one, and doing some research myself, I remembered that Trena made it a few months back and I absolutely loved it! And she’s so got the right idea with those back view enhancements! And the Butterick Maggy London dress is just screaming out for a border print, as far as I’m concerned – the skirt is just a rectangle with pleating, so anything with a border or lace at the edge would go perfectly as you don’t have any cut, curved hem or side seams. So it actually is as easy as it’s labelled, seeing as how you’re really just making the bodice…
These patterns all came at the perfect time, because not only did I finish the second bridesmaid dress this weekend (photos coming later this week), but London has stumbled into a mini-heatwave which always gets me raring to sew! After spending the last two months solid on these dresses for my girls, I’m more than ready to sew for myself now, and I’m not scheduled to start on my wedding dress muslin until July.
Sooooo, how much can I cram into the next month, eh? Granted, I’ll still want to make a few things here or there while I’m working on my gown, but I thought it’d be a good idea to get all the things I want to sew together in one place. I’m not calling it a wardrobe or SWAP since they don’t all go together, and I don’t want to commit myself to ALL of these since I tend to get bored easily, so let’s just call this a shortlist so I can choose from these at will…
The FehrTrade Summer 2010 Sewing Shortlist!
From the top:read more >>
Sorry for the delay – I finished the Colette Patterns “Eclair” dress last week but couldn’t quite squeeze in a photoshoot until we were actually at the wedding venue on Saturday (the very nice London Canal Museum in King’s Cross. Though all the tiny canal boats made me feel like the 50 Foot Woman in comparison!).
If you recall from the previous post describing the invisible zipper details, I’m making this newly released dress pattern in gold silk crepe, with aubergine silk crepe ties and gold silk habotai lining.
I was a beta-tester for this new pattern company, so mine was only a rough photocopied draft, but it was enough for me to see that this is a definite keeper! I’m really jealous now after seeing the finished storybook packaging that I almost want to buy it again, just to have a pattern as beautiful as the dress itself!read more >>
The Colette Patterns “Eclair” dress is not a quick, one-weekend project, but it’s well worth taking my time over and going through all the careful steps in the instructions to get a nice finish. I inserted the side, invisible zipper last night (more on that in a second), so now I only have to attach the lining to the zipper tape, stitch in the ditch along the waistband to join the shell and lining, and hem the two skirts! I’m doing well on time, too, since the wedding’s not until May 9th and I’ve got a bank holiday between now and then, too.
So here’s the invisible zipper on the side seam (yes, I am rather proud of matching the waist seam there!):
You can’t tell on the tech drawing, but this dress has inseam pockets, too, and the instructions have a very clever way of dealing with the pocket, side seam, and invisible zipper area that makes it all nice and neat!read more >>
These both just need photoshoots this weekend! (Actually, I’m wearing the former for the second time today…)
In some vague order…