Thursday, 26 May 2016

Thread Faction - Blog Tour

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity of testing a couple of patterns by Thread Faction.
Pattern #103 (shorties) and #104 (racerback tank), part of the Spring/Summer Collection. And now I get to talk about them as part of this wonderful blog tour.  There's giveaways, discount codes and all sorts of wonderful stuff happening. Check out this post for all the important details.

My daughter loves dresses and skirts - getting her to wear jeans is an exercise in futility. But she has also just learnt to hang upside down.  So stylish clothes that are great for an active young girl are always high on my list of priorities.  And we had a winner with these patterns from Thread Faction.

To be honest, I was a little concerned when I first saw the pattern for the shorties. I thought they might be a little short. But I'm a total convert. There's plenty of coverage with these patterns, and they are super cute.

This set was made in a double knit fabric (possibly scuba knit) I picked up from Spotlight - at the time they were selling knit fabric based on colour rather than type (go figure). It's nice and stable, with a good amount of stretch. And the binding is a light cotton lycra.

I learnt a lot making these patterns. Who knew there could be so many ways to attach a binding? But Liz figured out the best method to suit the pattern, and it shows.

What I really like is the flexibility of the garments. There are a few muslins floating around the house that have been appropriated for also sorts of wear. They were pyjamas in summer, then the shorties were worn under skirts and dresses for a girl who likes to hang upside down.  Now we're approaching winter, the shorties are still under skirts, but the tank tops will be finding their way under tops and dresses.

Of course, worn as they are, they're a great set for activewear - running, jumping, swinging, hanging, practising ballet or whatever you fancy.  As I've made more garments from these patterns, I've appreciated the simple, clean lines (not too much frou frou). And so has my daughter. She's the kind of girl that will want to wear a party dress to a playdate, but she's regularly wearing one of these garments - even though it's finally starting to get cold.

And the change in weather was the inspiration for this pattern (almost) hack. The kidlets have swimming lessons year round, but I missed buying Miss M a new pair of cossies (swimming costumes/bathers/togs/swimmers etc) this Christmas. And it would appear that trying to buy a regular pair this time of year is out of the question.

So I looked at the #104 pattern, and I looked at the free bikini bottoms pattern, and I looked at the lycra remnants in my stash, and the clear elastic I grabbed on our recent trip to Hobart (as you do) and the germ of an idea started to grow.

So I sized down #104 a size - I didn't want it to be too loose.  And I downloaded the free bikini bottom pattern. And ended up with this great tankini!

A few comments and confessions .....

This top is a size smaller than the blue floral one. Looking at the fit, I should have kept the length of the larger size (without adding any extra width to the hemline).

The Lycra/spandex isn't swim fabric. It's just dance lycra that I found in the remnant bin. I hadn't done any sewing with Lycra before, so was a bit nervous, and figure I could sacrifice this fabric - if it didn't turn out, no big deal.  Well the scary Lycra wasn't that scary at all, it sewed up a treat. Looks like I'll be on the look out for some swim fabric.

The bikini bottoms are a really easy sew. The construction seems a bit magic - the way the seams are contained between the lining and the main fabric.  I'm not sure if it's proper swimwear lining, and I used clear elastic rather than swim wear elastic (what I had to hand) - so looks like I might need to head out to find some proper fabric.

So from two patterns, I've made tanks and shorts for play time, and coordinating with other clothes, pyjamas, and a pair of cossies. And I have plans for a bunch more shorties to wear under school tunics.  All up, the more time I spend with these patterns the more I love them. I'm sure you will too.

If you don't believe me about how versatile these patterns are, make sure you check out the other posts in the tour (links won't be live until their publication date).

26/5 Nap Time Creations   |   Miss Castelinhos   |   Swoodson Says   |   Needles to say
27/5 Made By Sara   |   Sew Not Perfect   |   Hello Holli   |   Whisk 'em
28/5 House of Estrela   |   Made By Amanda Rose   |   Max California   |   Brave Fabrics
29/5 Create 3.5   |   Bless by Tone   |   The College Seamstress
30/5 Ma Me Mi Mo   |   Paisley Roots   |   Skirt Fixation
31/5 Sew Very  |  Rebel and Malice   |   Call Ajaire
1/6 Better Dressed Child   |   Buzzmills   |  Handmade Frenzy
2/6 Lamb and ewe crafts   |   All Things Beautiful   |   Pen, Seb & Rox

Monday, 16 May 2016

Crossover Flounce

I may have a rather fickle young child, but she has declared this to be her favourite dress.

Designs by Call Ajaire has designed the Crossover Flounce Dress, released as part of One Thimble Issue 11.  It was a privilege to be able to test this dress. The design is really magnificent.

The boatneck collar allows for easy dressing, with no need for any closures.  But for those children with larger heads, there is the option of a keyhole closure secured at the top with a small piece of elastic - no fiddly buttons to struggle with while getting dressed, or get caught in hair.

I tested the long sleeve version (I may have mentioned before that I'm a bit of a fan of longsleeve woven dresses) as we're approaching Winter.  There is also a capped sleeve version, which will be perfect for Summer - short sleeves, but still plenty of coverage for sunny days.

The sleeves are kind of a dolman - cut in one piece with the bodice, so not too many pieces to cut (or pattern pieces to lose).

The glory of the dress is the crossover skirt. Two eccentric circle skirts overlapping to give amazing flounce and twirl. Miss M loves twirling in this dress, the amount of twirl is HUGE - shorties are a must under this dress.


One of the great features of the dress is that it is reversible - two dresses in one. The construction is clever, but easy to follow.  The second one of these I made was a 'one-night' sew, nice and quick.

The dress is a little fabric hungry - there are four layers of skirt in there, and the dolman sleeves chew a bit up too. I used some vintage sheets for the first version - lightweight, plenty of fabric and oh so soft to wear.

The second version I made using a mix of voile, lawn and eyehole synthetic I found from a thrift store.  I wanted to use just voile, as it had the lightness I was after, but a little more structure. But I was concerned about having enough width to make the skirts, so grabbed some lawn in the same colour (just about).  Either would have worked out fine. In the end I was pretty happy with the outcome of the overlay of the eyelet fabric over the pink.

I love this dress (even if it is a pain to iron). I can see a lot more of these in the future.

I like to think of this as her 'Jedi' pose. Love the look of concentration on her face.

Knowing the quality of this pattern, I was so excited to see all that was in One Thimble.  I hadn't bought an e-zine before, and wasn't too sure what to expect. It was just like reading a normal magazine (except I have a copy sitting in my pocket for whenever I want to check something). It's full of interesting articles and patterns I can't wait to sew up - especially the ones for boys they look like such a great mix of comfortable and cool/trendy.

The pattern is available as part of Issue 11 of One Thimble. Or as a standalone pattern.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Miss Clarissa

Sometimes there is a need to make a dress that's a bit vintage. A hint of a ruffle, a pleat here or there, an empire line and a hint of French style.  When that need comes along, there's Clarissa, by MCM Studio Designs

What had me sold on this dress from the beginning was the long sleeves.

I'm not sure about you, but I'm always on the lookout for a nice woven dress with long sleeves.  It's a tricky call, you need to make sure that the front of the armscye is different to the back or you're wearing a straight jacket - none of the knit fabric shortcuts allowed. Clarissa has long or short sleeves, both with a ruffle, and plenty of shoulder coverage on the short, so great for an Australian summer.

I sewed this version up in a floral quilters cotton, and I love it. I'm also having visions of it in silk and lace, so I think another one is on the cards.

 I always have to take my time with pleats, and read the instructions carefully. I don't know if it's just me, but it seems like every time I do them, there's a different technique used.  But the instructions are detailed with lovely clear line drawings, that walk you through any of the slightly tricky steps.

Well Autumn has finally decided to show up, so this dress should get some wear. Although I don't think the weather has been quite so cold as Miss M would have you think in this photo.

The pattern can be found on Etsy here
And on Craftsy here

Sunday, 8 May 2016

A Pair of Princesses

My daughter has a friend that she's grown up with. These two are so cute together.

So when the pattern testing for the Princess Peplum and Royal Raglan (by Debbie Brooke Patterns) came up, I thought it would be a great opportunity to make these two 'matching tops'

The pattern has 2 sleeve types and 2 'skirt' options, so 4 versions in total.

These are View A  (Tshirt Peplum)

and View C (Raglan Peplum)

There is another skirt option - a ruffle, in woven material.

These were made from more of the precut cotton Lycra fabric from Big W.  It's amazing what you can get from a 1m cut of fabric. There was enough for both shirts, and one side of a peplum (the under side of one, and both sides of the other are in jersey knit)

The raglan sleeves are 3/4 length, and fantastic for Autumn weather.

I must admit that I'm a sucker for puffed sleeves, and these are just gorgeous. I suspect I will be using this pattern to make plain t-shirts.

Taking photos of these girls was so much fun! We managed to get them both down at the beach with all sorts of wardrobe options.  Of course as soon as we got them all organised, the 'proper camera' stopped working. So these were taken with my camera phone.  Fortunately, they were so excited to be working together in a photo shoot that they listened to instructions, and actually stood still (mostly)

Ready, Set, Jump!

Given that both of these girls have been regularly pulling their t-shirts straight out of the washing basket I can see this pattern getting a lot of use.

All patterns at Debbie Brooke Design are on sale to celebrate the launch of the Princess Peplum and Royal Raglan. Use the code "Lauch30" for 30% off all patterns. 

Also, you can join the Debbie Brooke Designs Facebook group to keep up with new patterns, check out what the other testers have been making, and share your creations.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The Lisbon Cardigan

So I have a new favourite item of clothing.

The Lisbon Cardigan by Itch to Stitch. (affiliate links)

I rarely get to sew for myself. Which is why I don't mind testing women's patterns. A great excuse to sew for myself.  I'm starting to get my head around women's sizes in the US - although when sewing I always ignore the size numbers, and check what fits my measurements.  For this pattern I made a straight size 6, and the fit was spot on.

And my lovely husband is getting used to my photography instructions. It's rough being at the other end of the lens. And even harder going though photos of yourself (a lot more make it into the recycle bin than when I'm photographing the kids).

So back to the cardigan.

The construction means you can colour-block, and add panels to your heart's content.

I decided to use lace panels in my cardigan. The blue dotted fabric is a french terry that I found in the clearance section of Spotlight (hooray for change of season fabric changeouts).  I had resigned myself to having a solid fabric cardigan, as I'd looked at the lace, but even on special, I was having trouble justifying the cost. On a whim, I popped into the op shop at the end of the road (how cool is it to be able to say that!). And I found a top in a stretchy crochet knit that would work well, brand new, for $8. Some careful holding up to my front confirmed that it should be big enough, and voila, lace panels for my cardigan.

This cardigan is perfect for the weather we're having at the moment (hello Autumn, good to see you finally stopping by). It's pretty light weight, and I can throw it in my bag in case of 'emergencies'.

The buttons line up so nicely, with no pulling across the front. Or you can leave the buttons off - if you're not into buttons (or in a rush).

I was very excited to be able to find knit interfacing at Spotlight without too much drama (I found some tricot in the Legacy interfacing stand if you're trying to find it yourself). I think I'll have to go and stock up.  I'll be the first to admit that my buttonholes on knit fabric are not always the prettiest things. But these turned out beautifully. It also helped that the holes are vertical, so you don't need to deal with a heap of stretching.

The pattern has other options - a cropped length, and 3/4 length sleeves.  So if you mix up the bodice and sleeve lengths, you have 4 cardigans. And even more when you start mixing around fabric combos.  I would show you my first tester version (cropped with 3/4 sleeves), but it's a black and white stripe with the front band not quite matching up, and makes my eye twitch just a little. So it's sitting in timeout for the moment (the fit is great, it's just matching those stripes along the front band that's causing me pain).

Also included in the pattern are instructions for a Hong Kong seam binding. I've seen how some of the other testers were able to use it, and it's pretty schmick. I'm keen to try it out on my next version - a bit of animal print sneaking inside a basic grey cardy anyone - for a professional finish.

The Lisbon Cardigan is available from Itch To Stitch patterns, and is 20% off for the first week of its release.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Sprouts - Back Pockets Hack

I've had the opportunity to test an amazing pattern by Flosstyle. It's the Sprouts pattern and has 6 base styles of pants (3 short and 3 long) from one pattern piece.

I could go on and on about what a versatile pattern this is. How comfy the finished items are. How cute they are. All the extra mods and mashes that you can do (it mashes with the Zoo Pattern). But that would take too long. So check these photos out instead.

All that from one pattern. Woohooo.

To shake things up, I've put together a little tutorial on adding the back pocket. Have you got your pattern (grab it here).  Ready. Here Goes.

The pattern includes directions on placing the pocket on the side leg (like in the Trees below) but what if you want your pocket somewhere else? What if you've promised your girl a 'monkey pocket' but only have enough coordinating fabric for shorts? (true story) What if you just like the look of a back pocket? Well, read on.

  In this photo, you can see a pocket I added to a pair of Stumpies (straight cuffs, but with a paperbag waist).  This original pair is a size 4, with the largest pocket.

I'm going to apologise in advance for the late night flash photography coming up. It's not my best, but daylight and sewing time rarely coincide for me.

In this tutorial I'm adding a back pocket to a pair of size 3 straight Bloomies - gathered cuff shorts with a paperbag waist.

There isn't a heap of room back there. So for the size 3 I've chosen the medium sized pocket.

Add your pocket while you have nice flat pattern pieces (before you sew any leg seams or anything).  While it is possible to sew the pocket on the larger sizes after the shorts/pants are put together, it is a little tricky, and I wouldn't like to give it a go on smaller sizes.

Sew up the pocket as per the pattern instructions. Now it's time to figure out placement. Refer to the image below when working through the numbered steps.

  1. Make sure you position your pocket on the back portion of the pants. The back 'rise' will have a deeper and longer curve (cause there's a little more flesh at the back to go around). Choose what side you want your pocket on. In this one I've chosen the right side.
  2. Fold the fabric in half with the inside leg seams roughly lined up. This will give you an idea of what fabric forms the back of the pants.
  3. Check the pattern directions, and find out how much fabric will be taken by the waistband. This will be the amount the raw edge is folded under, then two lots of the casing depth, and will be quite large for the paperbag waist.  You don't want the pocket to get caught up in the waist band.
  4. At this point, I draw a line in disappearing marker to show where the bottom of the wasitband stitching will be (can you see it in the photo above)
  5. Position the pocket on the back of the pants to suit your aesthetic. Usually the centre back of the pants gets pulled upwards, so I have positioned mine on an angle, with the bottom of the pocket approximately parallel to the bottom cuff. Don't forget that some of the fabric will be taken up with seam allowance, so I have nudged mine towards the outer edge of the pants.
  6. When you're happy with your placement, carefully pin it in place (to just one layer of fabric) and stitch in place as per pattern instructions.
With your pocket in place you can finish off your shorts or pants according to the pattern instructions.

 To these ones I added ties at the bottom cuffs.

Who says blue and green should never be seen????

This pair are for my daughter's friend's little sister (did you get that?) I can't wait to hand them over tomorrow afternoon. I think she'll like them.

If you want a copy of the pattern, follow this link right here. It's on sale until the evening (AEST) of Friday 20 May - $7.50 for 6 base patterns is a great deal.  Then go and add pockets to all the pants!