Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Kiera Skirt

This skirt is a little special

Ann from Designer Stitch* has done it again, with the amazing Kiera Skirt that is oh so flexible.

Tie it up.

Let it out.

Mix it around to suit your style.

The skirt is constructed with eight gored panels - four each for back and front. Along the seam allowances, you sew in some ribbons that let you take the skirt up, creating unique folds and tucks. You can tie the skirt differently each time you wear it for different looks.

The skirt has two options for the yoke. This version is shirred across the back, for a lovely fit (there's still a zipper in there to get it over your hips). You can see the bottom of the shirring in the photo above. Unfortunately my blousy top covers most of it. If you're not up to shirring, there's an alternate back yoke that sits flat.

I was nervous about trying shirring. There was something about hand-winding the bobbin that found me reluctant to give it a go. But turns out, it was easy! The trickiest part was sewing straight, parallel lines. I used the 'quilting guide' that came with my machine to help measure shirring lines.  I even managed to find black shirring elastic for this project (it's amazing what you can find at Spotlight when you look for it). Usually the shirring elastic ends up in kids' craft projects, but I may have to be more protective of it now - especially as Miss 6 saw the shirring, and wants a skirt like it.

This fabric is from Textile Traders, and is called Shimmer Crush. It's a shot fabric (like a lightweight taffeta), so the colour changes from olive to chartreuse depending on the light. It's a lot brighter it person than I imagined, but I'm loving the colour. It's been exciting sewing Designer Stitch patterns, and branching out in my fabric choices. I still love some nice solid cottons, poplins and drill, but once you start looking at the shiny drapey fabric, it's like a new world of possibilities opens up.

I added the optional ties for this version. They can tie at the side, front, wherever depending on how you're feeling.  These are sewn double sided, because of the difference in right and wrong side in the fabric, but I'm wondering now how they would have worked single sided.

The fabric choice for this skirt will make a huge difference in what you end up with. Using the shimmer crush, I have a rather dressy skirt (I'm wearing it for a Mum's night out Friday - can't wait). But make it in a light cotton, and you have a lovely summer skirt. It looks especially wonderful in a border print.  If you're after saving a little fabric, I'd also recommend using a fabric that isn't directional.  Because the fabric was shot, I didn't want to risk the gores looking a little off, so all the pieces have been cut the same way. But you can nest the pattern pieces a lot more efficiently if you rotate some of them.

Like all Designer Stitch patterns, the instructions are clearly written, with line drawings to show the steps.  This pattern includes a tutorial on shirring. I felt a lot more confident shirring my skirt after reading through the tutorial.  The pattern is beautifully graded, and consistently sized with other Designer Stitch patterns.  Usually I size out by one size from the waist to hips for skirt and pants patterns. But with the flare of the skirt, knowing that my hip measurement is rather low, and the versatility of the shirred back, I made this one based on my waist, and it fits beautifully.

The pattern is on sale for release. It can be found in the Designer Stitch Pattern Shop.

I've been able to make a few Designer Stitch garments lately.

All my other Designer Stitch blog posts should be here (or click on the photo above)

*This post contains affiliate links. If you follow the link, and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I received a copy of the pattern for testing purposes. The opinions, sewing, and awesome new lipstick I bought for the photos are all my own.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Crossroads Dress

Every time I see my girl wear this dress, it makes me happy inside.

It just looks so comfy. There is a lovely amount of flare. It's long enough to let you climb trees and build a tree house, kick a soccer ball, and go for a scooter ride. The perfect dress for a girl who likes to wear dresses, but also likes adventure.

Design by Call Ajaire's Crossroads Dress

Oh yeah ... It also has an awesome bodice. Check it out!

A groovy cross on the front with raised inverted french seams.

The first version I made of this cross-version had the fabrics reversed. That was a bit nuts. It was doing my head in trying to match the stripes all the way down the front, and match the points. So she tolerates this version. Apparently pink dinosaurs aren't her thing, and she much prefers the stripes.

The pattern comes in 4 lengths - top, tunic, dress and maxi dress. I was aiming for a maxi, but was a little short on fabric, so it's still on the 'to sew' list.  There are also 4 sleeve options - sleeveless, short, elbow and long.

There's even more options, as the pattern also includes a solid front.  I have to say that it is a super quick sew. The Crossroads version took me two hours, and the solid one is breathtakingly quick!

The neckline is bound (as are the armholes on the sleeveless version). The technique is a little different to adding a collar. But no more difficult, and the result is beautiful.  And Ajaire has even put together a video to walk you through the process.

The pattern is designed to be sewn in cotton lycra.  Thankfully it's getting easier to find this fabric in Australia. I even managed to find those lovely stripes on the clearance table at Spotlight.  Other sources I've found include clothes on clearance at Kmart, and dresses and tops at the op shop.  It's amazing where you can find fabric!

With all the sleeve and length options, this is a wardrobe staple. We're finding it a great transitional

If you don't believe how amazing the dress is, there is the opportunity to pick up a copy of the solid dress (view G) for free!  Just signup to Call Ajaire's newsletter to get access to your copy (here's a link http://www.callajaire.com/blog).

To grab the full pattern (all the lengths and the Crossroads bodice), head over to the Designs by Call Ajaire store.  The pattern is on sale for release, so grab it quick!

Friday, 21 April 2017

Designer Stitch Eleni Top

Introducing the Eleni Top (Tunic and Dress) by Designer Stitch*.

As usual, there are so many options packed into this pattern. I've made up two tops (the shortest length). But there are also tunic, dress and maxi lengths.

Added to that, there's the option for a flounce at the top.

Sleeve lengths included are short, long, with a flare/ruffle, and peasant style (with elastic at the cuff).

If you're not after a strapless look, there are options for a peasant style, off the shoulder with straps, and modesty panels to provide shoulder coverage.

Finally the pattern also includes options for a belt and neck tie.

I wasn't convinced on the neck tie at first, but it works so beautifully with this style.

You can get a picture of the versatility of this pattern when you have a look at all the wonderful versions sewn up by the tester group. Have a look at the pattern listing for more amazing versions

The multicoloured fabric is from Textile Traders, a crepe chiffon. It's nice a soft and drapey, but holds its shape pretty well while sewing and cutting.  The busy pattern also helps it from looking too see-through.  With such a vibrant fabric, I stuck to a simple view.  This top is a straight size 3 (Designer Stitch has its own size numbers - it avoids confusion between US and Australian sizes, and helps me to let go an any hangups on what size I feel I 'should' be).  For more fitted patterns, I usually size out for my waist to hips, but the loose, flowy style of the top meant that wasn't necessary.

With the pink dots (voile), I had a bit more fun.  The flounce is a shortened version of the one in the pattern, as even though the fabric is pretty drapey, it does hold its shape more than the chiffon.

Can you see the hem I've used there?  After turning under the hem, I made a scalloped (shell stitch) edge.  It's pretty easy to do. Just a matter of mirroring the blind hem stitch, and having the zig-zag bit fall just over the edge of the hem.  The stitch pulls the fabric in at that point, making the scalloped edge.

I wasn't too sure about the off-the-shoulder style at first (especially when trying to do stuff around the house or chase after the kids), but there's a nifty little trick.  I've added elastic across the arm holes (stitched in place in the seam allowance). When you put the top on, you put your arm over the top of the elastic, so it sits in your underarm, and helps to keep the top in place!  Here's a video if you want to see more details.

As usual, the Designer Stitch pattern is well written with grading consistent across the other patterns (I was feeling pretty confident and jumped into my first version without sewing up a muslin (let's call it a wearable muslin).

The pattern includes layers so you can easily see your size(s), and save on paper and ink by only printing the pages that you need.

This is a great pattern if you want to have a go at using lighter weight fabrics - not too many seams, and not too curvy either.  It also looks stunning in a border print.  I haven't added trim to any of mine, but have plans for trim on the sleeves or flounce for future ones.

The pattern is on sale for release (click here). Have a look at the pattern page, and check out all the options and variations the testers have sewn up. Thanks Designer Stitch for another amazing pattern!

* This post contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I receive a percentage of the pattern price on any purchases.  The opinions, sewing and awesome fabric choices are all my own.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Show your Stoff

Welcome to my stop on the Show you Stoff blog tour. This is where we get to show off some of the amazing patterns put together by Zierstoff Patterns*.  Zierstoff is a German pattern company that has a range of patterns also available in English. And there's also a code for 30% any  purchases from the pattern store.

It was difficult trying to choose what to make - there are so many patterns to choose from (including patterns for children, women and accessories).
I stepped a little out of my comfort zone for the tour, and signed up to sew a jumpsuit. I'd been looking at the trend of jumpsuits over the last year or so, but hadn't been game enough to try one out. I wasn't sure how well this style of garment would suit my body shape (a definite pear). And so, I was a little nervous about this sew - if I stuffed up my fabric choice or sizing it had the potential to go horribly wrong.

But it was worth it. The Henrike Jumpsuit (pattern was provided for the tour by Zierstoff). I'm so thrilled with the finished product.  The fit is great, and it doesn't make me look all short and stumpy.

I must admit that I was nervous about starting this project. I hadn't sewn any Zierstoff patterns before, and I'm often concerned about new things.  Looking at the patterns was a little daunting at first - but when I actually paid attention, it all made sense.  There are pattern files for A4 and for letter paper (as an A4 user, I always find that a nice touch), and the pieces are tiled together with no trim (the edges butting up against one another). There's a couple of files to help you check your printer settings, and I just had to make sure my paper was in straight. It was a lot quicker taping up the pattern without having to trim the pieces.

Based on my measurement I fell into a size 38 for my bust measurement, something a lot smaller for my height - I ended up settling on a 170 for length. The pattern includes a measurement for back of the neck to waist, and there are size charts on the website. The first run was a toile (muslin) in light interlock to check the fit. The pants section was really comfy (and a little long), and the bodice was a little short, so I adjusted the top half to a straight size 38 for the final version.  Taking the time to check out the pattern before cutting into your good fabric can save a lot of heartache (and wedgies).

The pattern stipulates a drapey knit fabric with good stretch.  After sewing up my version in interlock I would add a recommendation of a knit with a decent amount (at least 30% or so) of vertical stretch.  Added to my own requirements in fabric was a print that I would wear, was darker in colour, and would help to elongate my body. I ended up with a DTY Jersey (that's what was on the tag- I'd describe it as a crepe jersey) that contained spandex. I decided combination of florals and lines was a good bet.

The pattern comes together really quickly. It was lots of fun working in knits as most of the recent sews for myself have been in woven. Most of the jumpsuit was sewn up on the overlocker, which helps to speed things along.  The instructions are clearly written, with pictures for each step. There is a good amount of information on how to construct the garment (not too much, not too little).

I ended up overlapping the bodice a little more than indicated in the pattern, to get a bit more coverage. And when I've worn it, I use a small piece of Hollywood Tape (I'm sure it's just double sided tape in a special box) to make sure I don't need to worry about coming adrift (I do this with all my wrap tops).  Instructions on adjusting that fit are included in the pattern.

The pattern uses elastic at the top and bottom of the waistband. I find this helps the garment to keep its structure, and avoids it stretching out over the day.

The critical test for a jumpsuit is "Can you go to the toilet easily?" and the answer is "yes".  The cross over bodice allows you to pull it off your shoulders to take the jumpsuit off (and put it back on again).  This is another reason a degree of vertical stretch is useful, as the band is cut along the grain (vertically), so not much stretch could lead to a bit of shoulder wriggling if you're not careful.  I would recommend having a go at taking the bodice off over your hips before attaching to the pants.

All up I am thrilled with the pattern, and with my new jumpsuit.  I don't know when I have ever had so many compliments about something I've made or worn.  When I wore it out to church, there was a chorus of "Did you make that"s and "It looks great"s.

There's also a children's version of the pattern. It's super cute. And I think the child sizes lend themselves well to using contrast fabric for the neck and waist bands.

Well, thanks for reading through all my thoughts on this pattern (turns out there were quite a few). Don't forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour (there's a list below), and don't forget to use the code "MahlicaDesigns30" for 30% off Zierstoff Sewing Patterns during April 2017.  There is a large range of patterns, for kids, women and accessories

Check out the other stops on the blog tour (links will not be live until tour date)

Monday April 10- Anne-Mari Sews, Inspinration, Tenille’s Thread, Sew Cucio, Embrace Everyday
Tuesday April 11- Musings of A Seamstress, mahlicadesigns, Anna's Heirloom Boutique, Ronda B Handmade, FABulous Home Sewn
Wednesday April 12- Thread and Scissors, Kaleidothought, Idle Sunshine, mahlicadesigns
Thursday April 13- Very Blissful, Sew A Piece of Joy, Zowie Zo, Nina Makes, Thread and Scissors
Friday April 14- Tales of a Tester; Anne-Mari Sews; Bless, by Tone; Life Sew Savory; Needles to Say, Adventures with Bubba and Bug,
Saturday April 15- Sprouting Jube Jube, Musings of A Seamstress, Stitches by Laura; Tea, Dust and Stitches, Anna's Heirloom Boutique, Ronda B Handmade, Glitter in my Coffee

*This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a pattern after following one of the links I am paid a small commission at no cost to you.

The Henrike pattern was supplied for the purpose of this blog post.

The opinions expressed in this blog post, and rockin' jumpsuit are all my own.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Lemon Drop

Over here, we're starting to say goodbye to Summer. We've had 2-3 weeks on constant rainy weather, it's getting darker in the mornings and the doona's back on the end of the bed (although usually pushed down to the bottom).

But the Lemon Drop Dress is like a drop of sunshine that has been keeping winter at bay.

The pattern has options for a dress or tunic length, with or without a ruffle at the bottom.

And the gathered pockets are just gorgeous.

There is an amazing technique for getting the binding on the pockets just right.  I must confess that I often have to go back and add a little hand stitching her or there to catch binding I might miss. But my stitching was spot on with these pockets.

Tie Dye Diva patterns were some of the first pdf sewing patterns I tried, so it's pretty special to be able to test a pattern.

As usual the pattern is well written, with a good level of words and pictures. There are plenty of tips to help you get a great finish, and a beautiful garment.

This dress is a size 5 that has been lengthened to a size 6 (for my slender girl). There are instructions on how to do this included in the pattern. The fit is meant to be a little loose and flowing. Perfect for warm summer days, or for allowing room to pop a t-shirt underneath.

I dare say this dress will be still on high rotation come the cooler months, with a long sleeve tee and a pair of leggings. It's very versatile, and great for twirling.

For this version I used a vintage sheet for the main skirt, a fat quarter for the bodice and pockets, and some random broadcloth from my stash for the straps and pocket binding. I really struggle to combine two or more patterned fabrics, so I'm pretty pleased with how the purples pinks and oranges work together in this dress.

Can we just take a moment to reflect on the fussy cut placement for the front bodice .....

.... and behold the wonder of snaps covered in matching fabric (how close are the oranges in those fabrics!). I read about it in the latest issue of One Thimble (affiliate link), and now I can't get enough of fabric covered snaps.

The pattern is also available for American Girl and Wellie Wisher dolls. We have an Australian Girl doll that I have yet to sew for. Unfortunately, she has had a hair cut, and a sharpie tattoo on her calf, so no pattern testing for Annabelle. But I think a matching dress is on the cards.

The pattern is reduced to $7.50 (US) for release, and can be found here.

As an extra bonus for making it all the way to the end of this post, here's one more photo of a dress made with an earlier version of the pattern. This one has a ruffle (included in the final pattern), and the final version is a little looser in fit.