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A green cropped blazer

9 June 2014, 12:40

I’ve got a wedding rapidly approaching, and for once in my life, I actually bought a dress instead of sewing it (ok, technically James bought it for me when we were in France!). But I couldn’t let this occasion go by without sewing something so I decided I wanted a little cropped jacket to go along with it. Luckily there are a lot of colours in the dress to pick out, and a good friend gifted me this green, ex-Karen Millen piqué specifically for this purpose!

I sifted through my pattern magazine archive (made easier since I’ve got each issue overview online) and decided on a sharp little cropped blazer pattern from the September 2013 Manequim magazine (curiously I’d overlooked it when I reviewed the issue!).

I love that this jacket is short in the body so it won’t interrupt the full skirt on my dress, has got 3/4 length sleeves which are so nice for summer evenings, and best of all – a shawl collar with little tuxedo styling at the bottom. There’s no front closure, either, so it’s a nice one to just slip on over the dress and not have it look like it should be buttoned or something.

Many of you ask how I deal with Manequim patterns that aren’t in my size – the short answer is, I don’t. I’ve got so freaking many issues and patterns to choose from that most of the ones I want to sew either either in a 44 or 42 (this one’s a 44), or if they are significantly smaller, I just graft the interesting features onto an existing base pattern that fits me.

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My light-up, twinkling running jacket - the sewing bit!

16 May 2014, 10:16

You heard all about the electronic components earlier this week, but the sewing of the jacket itself was in no straightforward, either! If you missed the video of the LEDs in action, have another look:

You might think, that, as a pattern designer for exercise wear, I might view other exercise patterns as competition. On the contrary – when I first saw the StyleArc Steffi jacket, my first thought was “Brilliant! Now I don’t have to draft it myself!”. I’ve got enough ideas in my head for patterns already, so I’d rather refer folks to other good patterns if I can rather than constantly reinvent the wheel.

This pattern was a birthday gift from my inlaws, and I was initially concerned because they’d bought me a size 10 instead of the 12 I’d asked for, but as it turned out this fits me really well anyway. It’s a smidge too tight in the chest for me to run in (my trainer has me focus on pulling my shoulder blades back to open up my chest for better breathing), but is utterly perfect as a warm-up, cool-down jacket, so hurrah for happy accidents!

I chose to do my colourblocking like it’s shown in the technical drawing – I used a grey/black sportshell as the main body, then I used the black reverse of this black/grey “budget” sportshell as the contrast panels. The main sportshell is really nice – a soft, technical jersey with a thin layer of fleece bonded to the inside – it feels really RTW and high quality. The budget one, well, lived up to its name. The grey side looks a bit naff, there’s no fleece, and the black side is just smooth like the other fabric’s grey exterior. So it was fine for my purposes here, but I wouldn’t recommend skimping if you want a similar jacket – go for the more expensive option and you won’t regret it.

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My light-up, twinkling running jacket - the electronics!

12 May 2014, 17:41

This is an epic jacket, and something I’ve been wanting to do for, ooh, 6-7 years at least. You see, I really liked the idea of wearable electronics, and clothes that do something and interact with their environment, so I started buying LilyPad components many years ago with the hopes of making something.

Then I realised that I know nothing about circuits and electronics, and it all seemed really confusing every time I tried to sit down and learn about it. Finally, I decided that I’d bring my suitcase of tricks (no really, I have a little yellow plastic “suitcase” with all my beginning circuitry stuff in it!) along to France on holiday and I’d sit down and teach myself how to do it then. And I actually did!

LilyPad is the sewable line of Arduino products, made especially for folks like us. They’re easy to attach onto clothes, and (apart from the batteries) are machine washable, too. For this jacket I used a LilyPad battery pack (I started with the Coin Cell one but it wasn’t quite enough power), a Lily Twinkle controller, a bunch of LEDs, and a spool of conductive thread.

I used a mix of the regular LilyPad LEDs and the Micro LEDs because that’s what I had – the micro green ones were much brighter than the bigger purple ones, but you can really only get about four loops of thread around each terminal of the micro ones, so if you need to connect it to more than two lines, go for a bigger one. The Twinkle controller is really just a tiny board with four connection spots for LEDs and makes them fade in and out randomly (though you can connect more than one LED to each spot & they’ll twinkle in unison). I wanted to make things easy for myself this time around so I left out any input sensors, though I do have an accelerometer in my stash…

I’d thought to bring along this “Fashioning Technology” book and between that and this Lilypad Twinkle tutorial, I pretty much taught myself how to make a simple circuit to do what I wanted. When I go to do my next project, I’ll need to read a few different chapters and watch some more tutorials, I’m sure!

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A colourblocked Cynthia Rowley satin jacket

13 November 2013, 12:00

Last week I mentioned a few projects I’d been working on, including a little satin jacket to wear with both my purple Matthew Willamson birthday dress and my swirl sheath dress. Well, the Welsh wedding was over the weekend and we managed to squeeze in some photos in the hotel room before the big bash so you all can see how it coordinates with the Matthew Williamson sheath!

As I mentioned before, the pattern is the same Cynthia Rowley Simplicity pattern I used for my fuschia party dress – a simple, loose, open jacket with dropped shoulders and wide sleeves.

I didn’t have enough of either satin to make the entire jacket in one colour so I decided to colourblock it. Since there weren’t many seams in the jacket itself, I just drew some extra seamlines onto the pattern pieces for my colourblocking.

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My sparkly StyleArc Marie jacket

12 April 2013, 14:06

Right – where were we? I mean, I know I’ve been away so my brain is fuzzy and perhaps a little jet-lagged… Right! Easter weekend sewing! I had a four day weekend and most of it was spent in my sewing cave, so I’ve got an awful lot to show you, starting with my Stye Arc Marie jacket, which I made in that gorgeous black and silver heavy jersey from Minerva. It’s hard to tell from the description, but this is a little heavier than a ponte, with good stretch and recovery, and a slight rib to it. The exterior have little silver lurex threads running through it, and the reverse is a simple grey and black stripe (and, as you recall, Minerva kindly sent this to me as a gift).

I was really surprised with the shape of the pattern pieces when I opened it up – it’s not obvious from the tech drawings but this has a shawl collar and the centre fronts also double as the facing pieces, meaning you get a lovely turn on that cowl neckline, too, but the shoulder is kept nice and fitted. Genius drafting from Style Arc again!

I took the opportunity to use some different locations for photoshoots while we were away, so these were taken at my cousin’s house in Baltimore. Down there, it’s really popular to build a deck over the roof of your house, but it does mean you get the wind as well as the views!

I wasn’t really in a wind tunnel, but it certainly felt like it that evening!

I really like that this is a perfect spring-weight, unlined knit jacket which can be worn open or closed. With this fabric, I wore it over jeans during the day, and then again over dresses at night, too. The only downside to this pattern is that there are no pockets (nor really anywhere to add your own), which I really kinda need in a jacket.

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A Year of Burda Magazine Patterns - Challenge Completed!

14 January 2013, 14:16

I (silently) set myself the challenge to sew one garment from each issue of Burda magazine (aka BurdaStyle) in 2012, and I’m proud to say I completed it! I’m not the sort of person to make New Year’s resolutions, or proclaim lofty goals to everyone who’ll listen – I’m more the sort to quietly commit myself to something, and see if anyone notices what I’m up to before the completion… I do know that Kristy has also been keeping up with the Burda challenge this year, and it’s been fun to see which patterns she’s chosen from the same issues (and on occasion we selected the same pattern!).

There were some roaring successes, a few fails (both my fault and not), and some that I changed my mind on only after months of wear. So I thought it was worthwhile to have a look through all the projects from this year, and my thoughts on each looking back from now…

January



Rating: 9/10
Link to original post: Great Basic – Grey Flannel Trousers

At the time I said: There’s nothing particularly earth-shattering about this design, but I just thought it looked nicely versatile, and something I could wear to business meetings as well as just team with a teeshirt if I fancied it.

My thoughts now: I don’t think these look as nice in the photoshoot as they do in real life. I genuinely love and adore these, and have worn them pretty much nonstop, at least once a week to work, since I made them a year ago. I wouldn’t change a single thing about this pattern, and the silk pocket linings fill me with glee everything I slip my hands inside. I really do need to make some more of these!

February



Rating: 7/10
Link to original post: The Blue and Black Burda February sheath dress

At the time I said: But really, I just love this dress! It’s so comfortable, and I’ve gotten so many compliments even in just the two occasions I’ve worn it in the past week. I also like it because it reminds me both of my beloved September dress pattern but also of traditional cheongsam dresses…

My thoughts now: I think the pattern is fabulous, but the fabric I chose was too thin, and the upper chest is a bit lumpy where Burda tried to tell me to have a facing when it should’ve just been sewn closed. I wore this a few times a month over the summer, but the short sleeves keep it from being in all-year rotation. I’d really like to sew this pattern again in a ponti jersey, like my other favourite dresses.

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Fall/Winter 2012 Sewing Shortlist

30 October 2012, 13:34

A lot of sewers like to “Sew with a Plan” (SWAP), but I prefer to call this a “Shortlist” rather than a “Plan”, so I’m free to still change my mind and add/remove items as I go along! My main goal here isn’t so much to create a capsule wardrobe that can be worn together, but more to use up fabrics and/or that have been in my stash for a while that I’d really like to just wear.


(Click to enbiggen!)

From the top down, in no particular order: