Sunday, January 27, 2013

Denim Thurlows

I believe the summer of trousers is now over for me. This is my last instalment in this crazy out-of-season sewing bender!
I made further modifications to the Thurlow pattern with these trousers. The main change was drafting slash pockets, which are based on Simplicity 3850. I didn't slim the outer legs as much as my last pair as I am a little worried about how the denim will pull when tight. I haven't sewn flat felled seams or anything fancy. I've just sewn these as regular trousers, but with a jeans zipper.
I also re drafted the curve of the waistband. I found my previous pairs to peak a little at the back as I don't have a standard waist or curvy lower back. To do this, I re-traced the waistband using the curve of the largest size of the pattern as a guide. I gauged this change on the height of the peak on my previous pairs. Luckily it worked a treat and I'm super pleased with the fit of this waistband. It's certainly my best yet. My welts are better again, but I think next time I'll widen them a little to just over 4 inches or so.
The denim was purchased from Tessuti during our last Sydney Sewists catch up and it was a dream to work with. It's lighter than jeans denim with a good amount of stretch. It is quite over-dyed and even though I pre washed, the bleeding on my hands was insane. I'll definitely have to wash them a few more times before I wear them to work.

Again, I'm super happy with these trousers and with three new pairs of well fitted pants in my wardrobe, I think I'll have more than enough to last the whole year.

Pattern: Sewaholic Thurlow, used before = free
Fabric: 1.2m lightweight stretch denim from Tessuti = $27.85
Zipper: Jeans zip from Op Shop = 50c
Button & slide: 40c?
Total: $28.75

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Craziness of Pinterest.

Like many of us, I love the time-wasting enjoyment that Pinterest can provide. However, I can't help but giggle about the fact that Pinterest has made this post, my second all-time hit post with over 15,000 hits!

Who'd have thought that so many people would be interested in a stack of vintage Pyrex bowls??
I've received many emails and Etsy convos from people interested in these bowls. Some asking for a photo of the stamp at the bottom (which for the record I'm having trouble photographing), others asking if there were more where I got them (no), their size (about 12cms in diameter) and others just offering me money for them (tempting, but no).

I've resisted selling them for now, as I think they're cute, but thought it was about time they got used.

So with a can of mashed pumpkin from my sis (we can't get this in Australia), I made pumpkin pies for dessert - YUM!
5 bowls, 5 family members - I think it was meant to be!
Naturally they were served with a good dollop of whipped cream.
Yum! Might go have that last slice now!

Thursday, January 24, 2013


The Tessuti Valerie top. I swear Colette should have called this the 'Christy top'. I don't think pattern could possibly scream my style any more! Needless to say there will be many of these in my future.
There aren't that many pages to stick together and the pattern itself comes together quickly and easily.
I don't often wear higher necklines, but I love this style and the gathers are just awesome! Subtle, but a super cool and flattering feature. Just what I need for skinny trousers and pencil skirts.
I experimented with my photography today. In summer, my backyard is ridiculously sunny with just a hint of shade along the fence line. Where is best to take photos?? Can someone offer some advice or an opinion?
The only changes I made to the pattern was to slightly take in the sides, as there was a little too much ease for me and I used double fold binding as the fabric was very light and otherwise tricky.
This fabric is a silk crepe from The Remnant Warehouse. I asked Rachel to get it for me, so that I wouldn't be tempted into purchasing any more fabric. There is clearly more room for fabric in my stash given my holiday productivity, but I want to save myself for our Tessuti shop-a-thon. Speaking of whick - Are you coming?

Pattern: Tessuti Valerie Top $10
Fabric: 1.5m silk crepe from The Remnant Warehouse $17.95
Thread from stash.
Total: 27.95

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Petal Power Sundress

A little while ago I helped Marina of Wink Designs with some test patterning. Her revamped Petal Power Sundress is an easy and enjoyable make. The cute ties on the shoulders are just the right size for easy tying and wearing. I didn't make the tiered version, as I didn't have any coordinating fabric in my stash, but Adele loves this bold red dress. The bodice is made with this denim from Kelani.
I should note that the dress would be a little shorter if I'd have remembered to remove the seam allowance from the tiers that I didn't use. This is what happens when you finish dresses late in the night when little ones are fast asleep in bed!

You can get your Petal Power Sundress here on Etsy and you can get 25% off until the end of January by using the code PETAL2 - yay!!!

Happy sewing friends!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Charcoal Thurlows

The summer of trousers is continuing for me. These trousers were finished on the very muggy eve of our recent 45 degree day. I'm not sure what possesses me to sew pants in hot weather.
Again I am happy with the fit of these trousers. I have made a few more modifications and will make a few more for the next.  Modications this time include
- trimming the inner and outer back leg at the top, which has minimised and straightened the back leg wrinkles.
- pinned the fly facing to the pant piece before cutting and cut both front pieces the same. After doing this I was able to use Sandra Betzina's video for the fly zipper insertion. Seriously, you can't go wrong using this video for a professional flat fly front zipper.
- incorporated the belt carriers into the waistband, rather than just top stitch them on after the waist band is sewn on. I think this looks much nicer.
 - reinforced the pockets to prevent sagging. I did this with my last pair too. I just sewed thin grosgrain ribbon to the seam before turning under.
 - reinforced the crotch seam, just for further protection from a wardrobe malfunction. No split pants at school thanks!
 - I don't know if this is right, but I hate sewing trousers and having the waist band sag even though it's interfaced. If my fabric has any stretch, mechanical or otherwise, I cut the waistband on the grain with less stretch, which is usually up and down.
 - Used  Melanie's tutorial for single welt pockets, but mine are not functional. They are a little slimmer this time and nicer again.
I don't normally ever wear clothes like this. I'm just trying to show off the fit and welts :)
For my next pair I'm going to work on the curve of the waistband. While the waistband fits, it does peak a little at the back, as my waist does not allow the final back curve seam to meet where it is drafted. I'm also planning for my next pair to have true slash pockets and to be made of the denim I purchased at our last Sydney Sewing Social.
Speaking of the Sydney Sewing Social, are you coming to our February meet up?? Kristy reminded me this week that I think we are supposed to wear something made with the fabric that we purchased on that day. Yikes! Despite my sewing frenzy these holidays, I've only managed to sew two pieces (one is to be blogged tomorow). I've been stalled a little with lining fabric for my lace and that silk linen fabric just isn't softer after washing twice. I also don't think the viscose jersey will be touched until winter.. Best not to think too much about it! Let me know if you can come.

Pattern: Sewaholic Thurlow trousers - used before = FREE
Fabric: 1.1m charcoal, wool blend fabric from The Fabric Store on sale= $17??
Zipper: $1.29
Thread: From stash = free
Buttons and slide: $3 yet to be sewn on as I need to get these
Total: $22.29

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Vogue 1300

This dress, was an impulse make. I spied this cute version online and fell in love with the pattern.
It's clearly not my usual style. I actually asked a friend who was heading to Spotty to purchase this pattern for me. When she saw the envelope she baulked. Not liking the pattern photo and doubting my style choice, she opted not to get it for me! The nerve! Thankfully after driving my husband to the Big Day Out I passed a Spotlight, snapped up the pattern on sale and the rest is history. Take that judgy friend!! Yes, it's a sack, but I think it's a stylish sack!
Despite the sack shape, I like the dress and I think I can work it.  I did slightly take in the sides at the waist and removed the slight tulip shape to the bottom, but didn't change the pattern too much. The flounce grew a little during the make as I did no stay stitching, so I simply shortened it once the dress was finished.

Rather than bother with mini hems, I just used a roll hem stitch on my over locker. After adding length to the dress when cutting, I opted to keep it short, as drafted, as I think it helps tone down the flounce. I don't normally make flouncy dresses, so I do feel a little self conscious in this style.
The fabric is a silk/nylon or something from The Remnant Warehouse. I've never heard of a silk nylon blend but it's nice enough.  It's almost black with a slight purple tinge and has a twill-like weave. It was quite stable to work with, but I suspect I cut the back slightly off grain as the hem has dropped. Subtly and stylishly though, so I don't think I'll fix it. :)

Pattern: Vogue 1300 from Spotlight on sale $13.25
Fabric: Approx 2m silk nylon from The Remnant Warehouse $14 (the receipt price is $24.87, but I have a little under two meters left so my price here is only for part of the piece)
Thread from stash
Button: 25c??
Total: $28.50

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sydney Sewist's Social

Are you ready for the next Sydney Sewist's Social? Well, get your fancy pants ready cus it's happening!

When:  Saturday, February 9th
Where: Tessuti Surry Hills and possibly moving up to The Fabric Store.
Time:   1pm

Leith and Rachel are coming up to Sydney, so we'll have a couple of Southerners to join in the fun. I believe they are also planning on heading to The Remnant Warehouse for some fabric fondling, so if you are interested I'm sure we can add this location to the festivities before Tessuti.

Naturally everyone is invited - bloggers, non-bloggers, serious sewers, starting sewers, any sewers or sewists - whichever you prefer to be called.
I'm excited! Are you? Let me know if you can come.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Another slouchy tee

Similar to the last, but without the mixed prints.
This time I used a duck egg blue ribbing to bind the neck and sleeves. I also incorporated a slightly high-low hem.
Easy to make. Easy to wear.

Pattern: Self drafted
Fabric: 1 yard chevron knit from Girl Charlee. $10 inc part shipping
Ribbing: Given to me by one of mum's friends.
Thread from stash
Total: $10

Monday, January 14, 2013

Pomegranate Burda 06/2010 #118

Yes, I did it again! I found a pattern that I love so much that I made it twice in the same week, but in a different fabric!
I'm a little predictable like that. Regardless I'm still pretty darn happy with this frock.

Now you'll have to excuse the out of focus pics in this post. I wrangled the husband into photographing the dress as we were running late for a party and he accidentally flicked the camera into manual focus and didn't focus.
The dress came together very quickly, especially as it has been sewn and fitted twice before. Again I used elastic for the back, but this time instead of three chunky channels of 1 inch elastic, I used about 9 or 10 10mm ones. Basically I used the elastic I had in my stash. I think this dress would work well with a shirred back, but that would have required me to purchase shirring elastic, which I never have. The dress is a little snug to get on and I wish I'd have allowed more ease, but it's OK. For a full list of the modifications I've made to this pattern, please check over my past two posts.

The fabric is a new Anna Maria Horner voile called Fine Feathered in Pomegranate. I love the quality and feel of Free Spirit voile and often jump at the chance of buying some of these more workable prints. I lined the skirt with some plain yellow voile that I had intended to line a tank, but it arrived in a colour that I couldn't work with. Regardless, it has now been used and I'm happy with that. As you can see I played with the design of the fabric a little with this dress - cutting the waist band horizontally, the centre bust on the grain and the side bust on the bias.
I wore this dress to a birthday party on a predicted stinker that didn't eventuate, but still it's light  and summery and cool.

Pattern: Burda 06/2010 #118 = free
Fabric: 2 yards Fine Feathered Voile by Anna Maria Horner $28 inc part shipping
Lining: 0.75 yard of yellow Free Spirit Voile $11 inc part shipping
Elastic: 10mm $2.55 for the pack
Thread: $2.75
Total: $44.30

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Circus Comes to Town! Burda 06/2010 #118

There's a story about this fabric. I purchased it from Spotty on our recent holiday down the NSW South Coast. We intended to pick up some printed muslin to make baby wraps for my pregnant sister, but instead, I found myself rummaging through the Boxing Day sale fabric. I couldn't help myself!

When I picked this fabric, my sister asked what I intended to use it for. I thought I'd make a maxi dress. She warned me to be careful as I may end up looking like a circus tent!
So here's the tent :) The maxi was vetoed at the last minute. There was just a little too much wild fabric in it!

I used a pattern from one of only two Burda magazines I own 06/2010 #118. I've made this pattern before and I think I will again.
Like the last dress I made with this pattern, I added a band under the bodice to minimise the pregnant look. I also omitted the tiers as I'm really not a fan of that. This time I also added elastic channels to the back of the dress, rather than a zipper. This makes the dress a little more comfortable for everyday wear and allows me to eat anything and everything without any discomfort.
I really like this dress. It's quite vibrant and summery. I have some of this voile in my stash and I think I'll use it to make another. Just one more dress from this pattern should be OK. I might make it tonight to wear for the next 40+ day we are expecting tomorrow.

Pattern: Burda 06/2012 #118
Fabric: Cotton Poplin from Spotlight 2m = $8
Thread and elastic from stash
Total: $8

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mixed up tee

My six year old son thinks this t-shirt is "so cool!" I'm not sure if that's a compliment or something to worry about....
When he saw the front, he told me he loved the bird on the pocket. Then I turned around to show him the back and he yelled out, "wow!". Funny thing, I just finished sewing a dress and asked his opinion of it. He wanted me to turn around, then said he didn't like it as it didn't have birds on the back - ha!
I remember seeing some mixed up t-shirts online a while ago, possibly at Anthropologie. I can't find the image now, but I guess this is my take on a mixing things up.
The pattern is self drafted. I made it earlier this year by tracing a cheap RTW t-shirt that I owned. The chevron and bird fabric are both purchases from Girl Charlee. I purchased a dress length of the bird fabric, but it is too light and sheer for a dress, which is a little disappointing.
The floral binding is a remnant of a piece purchased some time ago from the Op shop. I knew I'd find something to use it for eventually.

Pattern: Self drafted = free
Fabric: 1m chevron inc part shipping $10
Fabric 1m bird inc part shipping $20
Binding = free as it's too cheap to account for
Thread from stash
Total: $20 and there is still a bunch of this fabric to make another item with. :)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Thurlows for real!

Yesterday was a stinker! What did you do? swim? beach? movies? shops? Well I did none of these things because I was too busy finishing my first 'real' Thurlows! Yep, trouser sewing on a 40 degree day. I'm sure the fad will catch on...

I feel quite nuts sewing trousers in the height of summer, but I'm quite aware of how time consuming sewing and fitting pants can be. Given that my work schedule will be quite busy this year, I figure it's a good use of holiday time to build these essentials in my wardrobe. I currently only own two pairs of trousers, a RTW pair from Witchery and these ones, which don't fit the best and the back tabs feel a little home-made for me. I certainly need more variety to get through the work week, especially as autumn approaches.
I'm quite pleased with how these trousers turned out. They fit well, they are comfortable and my style. However, there is still room for improvement. My next pair I will work a little more on the back leg creases. It isn't too much of a problem and definitely less that my RTW trousers, but isn't that the fun of perfecting fit just for you?? I'm planning to further remove from the back inside and outside leg to remove fabric excess. I'll also re-adjust the curve too.
The fabric is a mystery roll end that I purchase from Tessuti way back here. It is lovely. Very drapey and smooth with a little mechanical stretch. Definitely worth the $10!
I had a little trouble fitting the zipper this time, which may have been my late night sewing, but I think my next pair I'll use this Sandra Betzina video tutorial again, as I've had success with it before.

I also made my first welts!! I didn't have the pattern pieces to make the ones Tasia had drafted (I think Rachel cut them and kept them with her tracings) so I used the super clever Melanie's tutorial for single welt pockets. Considering I didn't sew a practice welt, they turned out pretty neat. Now I do have a small confessional about these welts.... they are non-functional, purely decorative! I know that I don't need back pockets. I don't use them, nor do I intend to use them at any time in the future, but I like that welts and pockets break up the butt area. All I did when I came to attaching the pocket bag was that I only attached a backing that extends to the waist band. Easy.

My next pair is now cut and I'm hoping that after they are sewn I'll have filled a troublesome void in my wardrobe for work.

Pattern: Sewaholic Thurlow -modified. Borrowed from friend = free
Fabric: Mystery roll end from Tessuti = $10
Zipper: $1.29
Thread and interfacing from stash
Total: $11.29

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Megan Nielson Perfect Nursing & Maternity top

Whhhaaaaaatttttt??? Pregnant!!???

No my friends. I am not in that kind of way, but my sister is and I've been putting my sewing powers to good use and making for the lady with the baby.

My sister arrived in Australia from Canada in December with Megan Nielson's Perfect Nursing and Maternity top pattern and a piece of really nice Liberty knit fabric - Oh my the fabric! She came requesting 'help' to make one. "Yeah, yeah" I say. "Give it here".
The finished top is quite nice. It fits well and Sarah says it's comfortable. I toiled the pattern using some basic grey t-shirt fabric from my stash as I couldn't bring myself to cut into the Liberty without testing first. The fit was spot on. There is a little more room for her to grow and the top has that funny under thing for breast feeding. I didn't know these tops existed when feeding my little ones, but they sure look handy for keeping things discreet.
The pattern came together easily with no dramas. Most of the top was constructed on my overlocker, except for the hems. For any machine sewing I used a zig zag stitch, set to .5mm wide.

My sister and her family are back home now and enjoying some cool freezing Toronto weather, just as we are preparing for a scorcher with temps over 40!

We actually discussed our bushfire safety plan last night. I'm sure you've noticed the trees over my back fence in my photos. There are many and they are close and they connect to a national park, so we are somewhat at risk. My husband wanted to show me how to use the fire hoses, but my plan, with three kids, is to leave early and stay at mum's. She has a pool and good AC :)

Stay cool and stay safe friends.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Thurlow toile = awesome!

Tasia has done it again! She's taken a simple garment and made it fit so, so well!!
The fit of this first toile is AMAZING!! You hear? AH-MAY-ZING!

I wasn't terribly excited about the Thurlow pattern when it was first released. I normally wear straight leg pants and sewing pants can be rather tedious with fitting. I should note that I've felt similarly un-excited when I first saw the Renfrew pattern. But then I made it, it looked awesome, the finish and fit were fab and I was super-duper happy.

So to alleviate any pattern purchase regret (you know you've felt it!), I borrowed Rachel's pattern and traced away. Rather than modify the leg once the toile was constructed, I spent quite some time prior to sewing, slimming and straightening the leg, using a RTW favourite as a guide.
My pant leg both front and back, is 8.5 inches wide inc SA from knee down

I'm so glad I took the time to modify the leg prior to sewing as I was able to ensure the legs remained on the grain and didn't twist, which is a problem I've had before.

The only two changes I made to the fit was to sew deeper seams along the sides, about 2-2.5cms and I took a small dart out under the bumba area, which I've now been able to fold out of the pattern piece for my next 'real' pair, which are in the works right now.
My mini dart

Seriously, I didn't think I'd get very excited about this pattern, but I am. Hopefully I'll have a proper pair to wear by the end of the week.
I should note, this toile is totally wearable (with slightly better underwear :) but still unfinished - no button, slide, hems or back welts. The fabric was the last of a roll that I purchased here from Tessuti. This roll has served me well with two Clover toiles, a dress and a simplicity toile. I would wear these trousers to work, but the fabric pinstripe seems a little corporate for teaching. I've also saved my first welt attempt for the real pair, and they look pretty darn good so far!

Saturday, January 5, 2013


I feel like I'm the last to jump onto the Clover band wagon, but here I go *jump*
I first toiled this pattern quite some months ago, but didn't have any suitable stretch wovens in my stash to make a final version. My first toile was OK, considering. I removed from the front rise, added to the back rise and nipped them in all along the leg. The second toile was better, but still they were too big in the leg.

Fast forward two months and with some Sky Walking from Tessuti, I decided to give them a crack again.
I'm quite pleased with the end result, they aren't perfect, but will they ever be?? The quality fabric has certainly made a difference with the end result. They don't appear to bag out as much as other stretch fabrics, but I've only worn them once. It's been to hot recently to wear pants.

I also used a metal YYK invisible zipper that I found at the op-shop for just 20c. I'm always worried about zipper failure in tighter garments, so this was a handy find. The zipper is grey, not navy, but you can only see the pull under any top and I'm OK with that. I wonder if you can still buy these as they would be handy to have around...
Unfortunately though, it appears that as my second toile was tried on so many times that it may have stretched it out. These pants are snug on the legs and I have no seam allowance to let them out. I really must add an additional quarter inch to the sides next time. They calves are also a little snug, still wearable, but next time I'll straighten the pant leg from the calf down.
Still they are nice and comfortable. The fabric is lovely and good quality. I'm definitely going to try to use more higher quality fabrics this year and just be careful to test patterns first.

Apologies for the fuzzy photos. I've let my sis borrow my SLR so my 4 year old took these with my iPhone.

More pants to come - I'm on a roll right now!

Pattern: Colette Clovers $16 from Sew Squirrel
Fabric: 1m Sky Walking from Tessuti $29
Zipper: Metal YYK invisible from Op Shop 20c
Thread: $2.70
Total: $47.90

Friday, January 4, 2013

Goodbye 2012. Hello 2013!


Tis' that time of year when every blogger ponders the year that was and dreams about the year to come. I love a good reflecting and planning post. They are good to giggle at when the next year rolls around, so here goes.

It appears I made 62 items in 2012, which you can see here. This log doesn't include sewing for others or sewing for the home. It also doesn't include items that have been knit or crocheted -although there hasn't been much of that this year.

In total I've made:

25 dresses including 6 with stretch fabric
15 stretch tops
13 woven tops, shells, blouses and tanks
5 skirts
1 Jacket
1 Cape
1 Cardigan
1 Pair of trousers

From this, my most worn items include:

My Favourite items, but those which are yet to be worn as much as I'd like:

The greatest disappointments:
All in all though, I'm happy with where I'm at with this year of sewing. I've had an incredible amount of successful items that are worn frequently, and while there have been some disappointments, I can salvage fabric from two and the memories of the third will surely fade soon, or else I'll give it to someone else.
In 2011, my goals were:
  • Make less dresses! No one needs 25 dresses per year! - FAIL! I made more dresses, but better quality and more work-friendly ones
  • Make more separates - pants, skirts and tops - things that are suitable for teaching. FAIL-ish. I still need skirts and more pants, but I think I have enough tops.
  • Make a couple of winter jackets and maybe another cape - Cape = yes. Coat = No
  • Concentrate on finishing my crochet blanket. Getting there, but still not done.
  • Focus on knitting projects until they are finished. Frogged one project and am still completing the other. Thanks to our recent holiday I'm now off sleeve island :)
  • Focus on quality and finishing with each garment - there's no prize for finishing the most things - Yeah, I think so..
  • Use more solids and less wild prints - this will be hard! - Getting there, but def more successful at this.

  • After looking over this I'm actually quite surprised by how good my 2012 goals were. So much that I think I'll keep them for this year. I'll also add that I want to become even more proficient in stretch sewing, as it is nice not having to iron every day.

    Tis all for now. Am madly sewing for my sister and trying to cut items out ready for my 'holiday' time!

    Yay 2013!