September 29, 2015

FO: City Stroll Skirt

Filed under:Blouses/Tops,Finished Objects,News!,Skirts,Stash Down — Aileen @ 17:06

As promised! Let’s talk what was underneath my Abria the other day.

First up, the skirt! This is one of the more recent releases from Liesl+co, called the City Stroll Skirt. I made it out of some pretty ordinary dark denim I picked up in Hickey’s. It was about a tenner – I only had a metre so I forwent the facing, opting instead for a bias binding finish inside.


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As always, the instructions are impeccable and everything matches up nicely. In fact, there is little else to say, except that this is one of those deceptive skirts in terms of length! It looks ok on the model, right? Even the pattern pieces look about right. But… I think I would like it a bit longer. I like to use my pockets, but unfortunately, very often, when I have my hands in my pockets, I still move them around. So, depending on what angle you face your audience, you could give them a very interesting accompaniment to your dialogue! I am a little annoyed, in fact, because I even wrote on the pieces to lengthen them by two inches, but in the heat of cutting out, I forgot.

I love the buttons. I got them in Rubanesque about a month ago. They were selling all of their buttons at 50% off, so I doubt there are many left.


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The blouse was one of those things I had on my list (you have one too? isn’t it funny how it can morph from being inspiring to overwhelming to redundant back to inspiring in just one sitting?) but almost didn’t get to. I got the pattern, Burda 6810 at the beginning of the summer. It has two winning aspects: multiple sleeve options and a covered button placket. I might be a little crazy but when you’re wearing a blouse under a close-fitting sweater, the covered placket prevents the buttons from showing through the sweater! Anyway, I had barely a metre of white cotton voile left over from another blouse I made, and I thought it would be good to see if it fit. In any case, the more I thought about it, the more I think a sleeveless blouse is useful for layering under dresses. I love long sleeved dresses, and I love the look of a collar underneath, but I don’t ever wear the two together simply because of the bulk of wearing a blouse. Doesn’t this solve this problem?

Don’t let my glowing countenance fool you…! I’m actually not thrilled with the blouse. In fact, it pushed me to face the fact that I needed to learn how to make a full bust adjustment. I always need a little bit more room at the front, even when everything else – shoulders, waist and hips – fit just fine (as you can see). Any minor pulling you see would be fixed by this. So… I spent the princely sum of e6.50 on 1.2m of white polycotton and thirty minutes doing a little research for another version. It’s actually not that hard at all. I cut out a new blouse and hopefully I will have an idea of the fit in a day or two.

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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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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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October 29, 2014

October Outfit

I decided to bite my stagnant photography in the behind and went on a photoshoot-splurge today. Stand by for many, many belated FOs and outfits. Today, we’ve got a three-for-two! It’s the Bruyere shirt dress from Deer and Doe paired with the Sara leggings from Named.

Let’s start with the shirt!

If you click through on the link to the shirt pattern, you’ll see the style lines much more clearly than on my shirt. It has a waistband with a pleated skirt coming out of it. I really like this idea because it leaves it open to you how long you want to make the skirt. I kept mine to the original length which is more suited to being a tunic.

As you can see, there’s a really nice amount of ease all around the skirt. In terms of sizing, I cut a 36 for the neck and shoulders, 38 for the bust and tapered out to a 40 for the waist and hips. The fit across the back and shoulders is perfect but I need a tiny bit more room in the front so when I make this again, I’m going to add about an inch to the centre front between the neckline and the waistline.

The way the button plackets and the collar are finished off is great. There’s a front facing so everything is enclosed and it gives an amazingly clean, but easy-to-control, finish to the centre front points. I like the sleeve plackets but I think they’re a little narrow to be able to control with total precision. I think for the next time, I will add a bit more width to the piece.

What about those leggings, hmmm? I dared myself to make them. What an insane colour. I was hoping it would be darker than it turned out and then put off making them up because of it. By happy coincidence, it matches the fabric of the shirt perfectly so I had to make them!

I was really inspired by Novita’s version and used her adjustments as a guide. However, they turned out pretty short! Who knew that you need to bend your knees! I still really like them though.

The fit looks pretty good across the back but I had to take out about 6cm of excess after I put in the zip. Unfortunately for stretch materials, especially for fitted pants, it’s impossible to truly judge the fit until you have the zip in. Rather than take everything apart, I just removed the excess at the zip, which is why it doesn’t lie totally flat.

For my next go at these leggings, I didn’t remove any length at all. I left the front pieces alone but removed the 6cm evenly through the back pieces. They’re a little snug at the waist but I think given fabric’s tendency to loose its elasticity, they’ll probably wear in to be a good fit. Fingers crossed!

Here’s what they look like with just a normal pullover (from the shop… forgive me…).

If you’re interested in having a go at skinny pants, these are a really good place to start. Generally, I’ve found the Named patterns to be excellently drafted and well-fitting. These leggings take into account the stretchy nature of your fabric so don’t be put off by the finished measurements. They’re very straight forward to make, with just two pieces for the front and two for the back. There’s the centre back zip – I just used a normal one because my bum is usually covered. The only thing that makes them not a lightning-fast make is the top stitching down the front and back seams. You could totally forgo this. I personally like that detail so I did it both times.

I got smart on this pair and instead of just tacking down my facing like I did on the peach ones, I stitched in the ditch at side and centre front seams. This means I stitched right into the seamline from the right side to invisibly attach the facing. Errr… it’s not very comfortable. I could barely close them! They fit much better since I took out that stitching and just tacked the facing down like a normal person.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking with me and I’m really excited to share all my FOs from the last few weeks with you!

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