February 19, 2015

FO: Carme blouse

Filed under:Blouses/Tops,Finished Objects,Sewing,Stash Down — Aileen @ 13:09

Hi everyone! I’ve a lot on my plate these days so forgive my infrequent posts. Between concerts, competitions (small, local, soon and big, in Italy and later) and actual work for money, there’s a lot going on! Well, no, not right now, but there will be. Mostly it would be fine if I wasn’t doing competitions abroad, but I am!

Anyway, I have for you today a blouse I finished before Christmas. I wore it once but the cuffs were far too tight and narrow, so it sat in my mending pile until January.

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It’s the Carme blouse by Pauline Alice patterns. She’s sort of the Spanish equivalent of Deer and Doe. I bought the Alameda dress pattern as well, as I have a wonderful check will that would look fabulous with those bias panels.

I digress! I used a plain polycotton that has been sitting in my stash for ages – I needed a blue blouse and this wasn’t so precious that I wouldn’t mind if it didn’t work out perfectly. I didn’t have quite enough for the sleeves and that meant that when I put on the little cuffs, they were finishing higher up my arms than intended and so were too tight. What I did was replace them with a pair of cuffs from another blouse. I also left out the gathers and just did a normal pleat instead.

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As for the body, I didn’t cut a straight size as it’s kind of oversize – I cut my proper size for the top, tapered into the smallest size at the waist and then a size bigger at the hips. It looks like an extreme curve but when on is just fine.

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You can see that there’s still plenty of room in the body. You might spy, as well, that I have a collar on my blouse when the pattern has none. The pattern has the important bit – a collar stand – so I just popped a collar from another pattern into it.

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The placket and bib were really straight forward and well explained in the instructions. It’s a nice pattern, with lots of options for variety, and it goes well over leggings or jeans.

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January 17, 2015

Bonne année!

Many happy returns, dear readers, I wish you all a fruitful 2015. I think for most of us it is fair to say that any year, in retrospect, was a mixed bag. I feel like I really progressed in my sewing; I found my knitting mojo again; I travelled loads. I made it to my third year teaching full time and still cycle most places. I had alot of good concerts, one shaky and one fantastic; I played out of my skin in two different competitions, came third in both and didn’t give a damn.

I’ve just been looking back through this last year’s makes, looking for my favourites, but I love and wear them all! I made tonnes of separates over the last two years so I’m naming 2015 the Year of the Dress! Dresses make things very easy. Other than the few wool shifts that I made (quite some time ago now), I don’t really have any simple day dresses. Everyone’s situation and wardrobe needs is different but maybe you feel the same way… I put together some inspiration for you!

As mentioned here, I searched long and hard for a good princess panel dress. I ended up going with New Look 6124, but other options I found along the way include the Aydan dress by Named, which has sleeves and the Attaché dress by Lisette (Simplicity 1666 – I made both the top and the dress version and found the dress just too flared to really want to make again).

But what if princess panels are too busy for you? You just want something simple, maybe to show off a really nice fabric? I found this a while ago – New Look 6302.

I really like the little jacket that goes with this. The only downside to this pattern is that it’s not lined, but if you’ve never sewn a dress, this is a really straight forward sort of pattern to start with. I like this Burda pattern for similar reasons.

It’s a petite pattern so measurements such as armhole depth, torso depth and so on, are more in proportion with a petite height. I really like how you have the option to make only the skirt, and the dress has sleeves. The main reason I haven’t tried this one out yet is because I always worry that this sort of style, with the long sleeves, would be just overpowering.

Speaking of sleeves, I have always loved the Hazel dress by Victory Patterns.

The high collar and bow mean that you can still have attractive details if you leave off the sleeves. I like the colourblock option, too, though I would worry about finding complementary fabrics too much to actually make this up!

Sticking with bows, another that I love (and have and am dying to make up!) is the La Sylphide blouse and dress by Papercut Patterns.

This is a deceptive pattern. For a start, I loathe the way all of the Papercut patterns are styled. I think maybe they’re going for a gritty, cutting-edge sort of look but they all just look bedraggled to me?! It’s a real shame because when their last collection came out, I totally discounted it because of that. I have since grown to really like many of their patterns, though have yet to make one up. La Sylphide is good value for money because you can make a blouse with a peplum, a full dress or just the skirt part of the dress. I really like all three options – the blouse would be lovely with a little pencil skirt, and the skirt is perfect for summer.

Another lovely, more casual option is Colette’s most recent offering, the Dahlia dress.

Like all of their patterns, it is really pretty but there seem to be some fitting issues! I’ve read a good few reviews that say that the neckline is a bit strange and there’s a problem when lifting your arms in any way. Luckily for us, there’s a sleeveless option and I think this version would be lovely for summer.

Speaking of summer, a super hit last summer was Grainline Studio’s Alder.

At first I was a little non-plussed at its release, as it’s quite similar to the Archer shirt. But I do like the ruffle skirt option, I think it’s so quirky and fun! We don’t get much weather for sleeveless dresses, even in the summer, but I think this would be nice with a little cropped cardigan, don’t you think?

Keeping with the shirtdress theme, I can’t leave out Named’s take on it from their last collection, the Wenona.

It’s one of the few shirtdress patterns I’ve seen out there that actually has the option for just the shirt. You’d think it would be kind of an obvious thing to include, right?! I love this pattern. I love the pleating option, and I lovelovelove all the possibilities opened up with the panelling, especially down the sleeve. You could keep it simple but do lots of coloured topstitching to highlight it. Or, you could use up some fabulous precious scraps and really show them off. I think I’m going to need to make one of these next Autumn. While I’m on the topic of the Named patterns, you should really just check out all of their dresses here. They really offer something a little bit different. Having made quite a few of their patterns now, I can unreservedly recommend them; their fit and drafting is the best that I have found amongst independent designers.

Last, but by absolutely no means least, we cannot forget little Bruyere by Deer and Doe! What a smashing pattern! (See my version here)

Now, I know it’s more of a tunic than a dress, but there’s nothing to stop you from making it a bit longer. Like all of Deer and Doe’s patterns, they fit just as they say they will and always have beautiful feminine touches. I love the fitted bodice and the small pleats in the skirt on this one. I think I will definitely be making another one of these! It is such a versatile top to pop on over leggings or skinny jeans.

I hope that has whetted your appetite and that you will join me in sewing up a few!

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December 29, 2014

A forgotten FO and nearly FO!

Filed under:Finished Objects,Knitting,Sewing — Aileen @ 09:00

I realised after publishing my last post that I had, in fact, never shared with you my new kit bag!

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I sometimes have a piano lesson on a Thursday evening in Rathmines. One day I was early so I decided to avail of the opportunity and pay a visit to Sew. It was my first time visiting so I wasn’t expecting what lay in store – a wonderful little nook bursting with fabric, notions, ideas and inspiration! They have a classroom, too, where they teach a full range of classes.

I fell in love with the sewing-themed fabric and bought a fat quarter and a matching solid to make this bag. I used the Open Wide Zipper Pouch tutorial by Noodlehead. It’s excellent! I wanted a bag big enough to tote a fairly substantial project, such as a shawl or a sleeve, and it fits the bill perfectly.

Another FO I forgot to show you is a very simple black skirt.

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As you can see, I had to brighten the photo up considerably but you get the idea! I used a black scuba fabric from Michael H fabric basement (about €8 I think) and I have quite a bit left. The pattern I used was the Shadi skirt from the recent Named collection. I tapered between sizes 38-40 I think, because it’s very close fitting. I think it was originally designed as a type of slip. I have been wearing the heck out it and I think I’m going to add at least one more pencil skirt to my wardrobe – you can wear them with anything and you immediately look dressed up.

Lastly, I have for you my ‘nearly’ FO. I had to leave this to one side to work on something else that I hope to share with you very soon. On the same day I bought the black scuba above, I also bought some houndstooth wool check for a simple winter dress.

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There is a lot of dart detail so it turned out to be slower going than anticipated. I just tacked the sides together and threw it on to see if it fitted. It was my first time sewing from a Japanese pattern book so I was unsure. My doubts were misplaced, though, as the finished measurements were spot on, and the fit is perfect. I simply have to sew the sides so that the pattern matches and sew in the lining.

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November 27, 2014

Coup de Coeur

Filed under:Blouses/Tops,Hats,Knitting,Sewing,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 21:13

I recently developed an inexplicable but undeniable urge to knit a red hat. It had to have ear flaps and it had to be Malabrigo. Do you ever get these fixations? And the immense, trivial, satisfaction when you find all of these things condensed into one item?

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This was taken a few days. It’s since been finished and graced with a white pompom. I have enough left for mitts. I think they might need to have matching pompoms too!

On the sewing front, this has been happening:

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I rejected a bow thanks to adequate floweriness but there are gathers. Finished soon, I hope.

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November 24, 2014

Nascha Mini Skirt

Filed under:AW Wardrobe '14,Finished Objects,Skirts,Stash Down — Aileen @ 07:00

Here’s a little something I made a while ago. Maybe I have mentioned before but I am smitten with the Named sewing patterns. I don’t think that every pattern is for me but I adore their aesthetic. They have such a clear idea of their style – their distinctive design is like no other.

Needless to say, I was excited to see what their Autumn/Winter collection would hold. I wasn’t disappointed. There are lots of trendy items but the ones I am most drawn to, other than this little skirt, are the Wenona shirt-dress and the Shadi knit skirt. I think this collection, of the three they have released so far, have the best spread of ability. There are fun, stylish patterns suitable for a quick sew or a beginner, but there are more challenging ones too. I think they hit the balance just right with this one.

Anyway, let’s see the skirt!

This is really just a wearable muslin. I ended up with a strangely shaped remnant piece of coating that I struggled to use so I thought this might be nice. I wasn’t sure about the sizing but having made a few things from this company now, I know I can trust the finished measurements and sizing suggestions. I think I sewed this in a straight 38. Because it’s supposed to sit below the waistline, I wasn’t sure about tapering to a 36 at the waist.

The only downside to this project was my choice of fabric – it was just a bit too thick. Sewing that exposed zipper was a bit of a pain because the fabric just wanted to squidge out at every opportunity. But I got there and it looks ok!

This isn’t a very flattering photo but it shows you how low the skirt sits on the hips. I totally regretted using such thick fabric for my facings :O It looks like I’m wearing a tyre unless I pull my top down.

The one thing I love about this pattern is the level of finishing that’s detailed. It’s not quite the quick sew you would imagine it might be but it’s quite posh in there.

I especially like the way the points at the front are handled with the lining. There is very little hand sewing required.

I’m not really one for short-short skirts so I was not prepared for how… immobile this is. I can just about sit down in it. I was looking about for other reviews and someone, somewhere, mentioned about sewing this in a thick knit or a ponte. I would definitely entertain something like that – anything with a tiny bit of stretch would be amazing! I do like to sit down every now and again.

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