Cashmerette Concord Tee – sewing win!

Cashmerette Concord Tee – sewing win!

I was soooo excited when this pattern was released (link here). A t-shirt drafted on a curvy block, with cupsizes- awesome! I had actually had disappointing results from the Cashmerette Washington dress (unblogged) but was determined to make this work. My end aim was to make my own graphic printed tees that fitted perfectly by refashioning commercial tees, and this has totally worked out!

Iteration 1
I used an old t-shirt of my husbands for this – is is 100% cotton jersey with not much stretch, the neck and sleeve bands are stash fabric.

I emailed Jenny for a sizing suggestion and she got back to me quickly – such good service. This is a straight 20 C/D. My measurements are 45-40-52 (with cup size much larger than C/D but it works). I went for a size that gave me zero ease at the bust rather than negative ease as the knits I was planning to use are not very stretchy.

Iteration 2

This is cotton-elastane jersey from the stash, and the V-neck option. Wearing this around convinced me that I needed a smaller size in the shoulders and a full bicep adjustment. I also added an inch of length at the waist.

Iteration 3

This is a refashion of a mens 3XL short sleeve shirt from threadless on clearance. Sadly these lovely designs are printed on a 45% polyester shirt – ugh.

I feel that the fit is getting very good by this tee. It is an 18 C/D down to the underarm and then 20C/D on down, with 1″ full bicep adjustment and 1″ added length at waist. You can see I reused the sleeve hems from the original tee.

My only regret is that I straight stitched the neckband seam allowance down. I did stretch as I sewed, but is has still caused unsightly gathers and pulling in. I have worn this shirt a lot though.

Iteration 4

This is my favorite, another threadless mens 3XL.

You can see I had to cut off the top of the design to get my pattern piece on, but I still think it looks ok. I zigzagged around the neckline this time. This version gets worn straight from the wash – I love it!

Iteration 5 – a tangent.

Well actually this threadless mens 2XL long sleeve was too narrow in the hips to fit my Concord pattern piece so I refashioned it for my 8 year old. Lucky girl! I love this print. This tee is also 100% cotton.

The pattern is Ottobre 3/2010-31 Funky Sisters. This is size 152 with 3cm added to each side seam. I compared the pattern pieces to some of her current tees and this pattern is super-super slim fit as drafted.

So I’m now in search of some more awesome graphic tees to refashion. unfortunately I’m going to have to use a raglan pattern to get long sleeves, but I’m ok with that. And the Cashmerette Concord tee pattern – 100% thumbs up from me, it’s a super curve flattering draft with great instructions. Thanks Jenny!

Flared denim skirt – McCall’s 5431

Flared denim skirt – McCall’s 5431

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So I’ve managed to sew a wearable skirt! It’s a bit of a win, it’s been so long since I had a success. The pattern is McCall’s 5431 which I bought in a pattern sale a few years ago. It’s now out of print. This is a really flared skirt.

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I picked the pattern because I find yoked waists quite comfortable to wear and the pockets seemed quirkily cute.

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They really are giant, but secure enough for my phone.

The fabric is a mid weight, reasonably drapy non-stretch denim from my stash.

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The pattern sizing is a bit annoying. I graded the pattern up three sizes from a 20 to a 26 which should have had a 40″ waist according to the pattern sizes. I was aiming for a 43″ waist and had to take out the zipper and remove 2″ from the centre back. It’s still a bit big and I do really need to wear a belt to keep it up. And I measured the pattern pieces and everything!

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I initially made the view D in the longer length but the mid-calf length plus the volume was pretty dowdy, so I hemmed it back to knee length and used package bis binding for the hem facing.

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This is not, dare I say it, the most flattering skirt shape in the world, but it’s comfortable and practical and get the feeling that I might end up wearing this skirt quite a lot. It also looks good with the shorter length of my silky wool customfit jumper, so that’s a win too!

 

2016 reflections

2016 reflections

I’m sitting here with coffee and sourdough toast, and it’s 6am on the first of January – I guess it’s time for reflections. After 2014’s year of massive change (having a third baby, moving across the world), I consider 2015 a year of consolidation. In 2015 Althea became much happier at school and has some lovely friends, Julian started at a new, friendly co-op preschool, and Tessa turned into a talking, walking toddler. My Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is finally under control and stable, and I guess I’ve settled into, and accepted, my role as a stay at home parent of three children at this time.

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We managed to get our entire family able to bike ride together – Althea on her own bike with gears and the younger two in a trailer, which is really, really heavy to pull especially since it’s so hilly here, but for someone who used to love her daily cycle commute, being able to take a family Sunday morning bike ride is a big achievement.

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I managed to get into a great lap swimming routine, two evening a week, then it fell apart. I joined a great choir, then it fell apart. That’s ok. I’m starting with a new choir next week, and I’m going to try to set up a home yoga routine, starting with a 30 day yoga camp.

My sewing mojo just disappeared this year, but my knitting mojo fired, probably partly because of my awesome Sunday knitting group. Such an interesting group of women – I’m so lucky to have found them. I did manage to sew a few things including a pieced duvet cover for Althea’s birthday in September. Since Santa brought me an automatic buttonhole foot for Christmas it might actually get it’s button closures some time soon.

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This dress/skirt for Althea is my favorite piece of sewn clothing for the year.

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This skirt is one of the few useful bits of clothing I made for myself this year. I made a lot of duds.

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I made my first Customfit sweater this year which I am very, very happy with. It’s a bit short but is still a great fit improvement on every other sweater I’ve ever knit. I have almost finished my second Customfit, it’s an alpaca Foyle’s cardigan. I am so determined to have it finished while winter is still in full swing – it’s going to be warm.

A wearable sweater – huzzah!

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I’m pretty proud of this Welcome to the Flock set I made for Tessa.

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Baa-able hat for Julian

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The lace required a lot of concentration but I’m so proud of this alpaca Rosewater hat.

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We had three lots of Australian visitors in 2015, my mother-in-law in March, my dear friend in August and my sisters in December. This was just so wonderful and I’m so grateful that they all gave up so my of their time and money to cross the vast Pacific Ocean to see us.

The beautiful rose garden in Portland, Oregon, that I visited with my friend Kate.

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I also survived the three month summer school vacation which was, well, pretty challenging. Our house was very hot, with no cooling and we had quite a few nights when it was too hot to sleep. Three months of being the sole source of entertainment for three children was tough, even with a few activities (holiday programs/day camps) thrown in. I also eventually calmed down when taking taking my three little drowning hazards swimming in the lake. We only took a two day/one night weekend away to Mt Rainier. Next summer we’ll definitely try for more.

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I’m looking forward to 2016. We are taking out first trip back to Australia since we moved here, and it’s going to be timed for sunshine and Womadelaide! It’s going to be bittersweet seeing all our dear friends again and then leaving though. Hopefully summer will be less exhausting.  Julian is starting school in September and Althea is changing schools. I’m going to try Tessa out with a few hours of preschool. Hopefully full nights of sleep will materialize. I’m not going to make crafting goals, as that is too much pressure for me. Crafting fits around the other non-negoitatable things in my life. I make things as the mood takes me, catching the sparks of joy.

A baby in January, a toddler in December 2015.

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Wishing you all the very best in 2016. Another year, another adventure.

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Rayon floral dress and simple skirts

Rayon floral dress and simple skirts

I’m not loving sewing clothes for myself right now, but as this blog is my creative journal I’m going to put this out there. Here’s McCalls 6073. I don’t like it very much.

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The top is a very stretchy rayon knit, and the skirt is a rayon challis. There is elastic in the midriff which is really needed, as the skirt pulls it down. I made a size 20 top grading to a 22 at the waist and a 24 skirt with 2″ extra length. I might add that my measurements are close to a 24 in the bust and it’s still too big, good old Big 4 sizing….

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The thin knit is a bit of a PITA to get a nice finish on, to be frank.

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I actually shortened this dress to knee length and then reused the fabric to make a simple no-pattern pull on skirt.

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The waistband is a much stronger and more stable cotton-lycra knit. I don’t make it quite tight enough but I still wear this skirt all the time.

I also made a simple shirred waist light denim skirt that I also wear multiple times a week.

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The four year old photographer cut off my head, sorry folks.

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It is also a bit loose in the waist but I couldn’t make it any narrower and still be able to walk without restriction. The shirring was time consuming but it’s very comfortable.

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Which just goes to show that quick and easy is sometimes better than ambitious when it comes to sewing.

Three A-line skirts

A-line skirts are a basic everyday wear garment for me. I purchased You Sew Girl! (Nicole Mallalieu)’s A-line skirt pattern when I was pregnant with Tessa, planning to make it up postpartum. This pattern has a very funky inner north Melbourne vibe to me. It’s absolutely the kind of thing you’d see people wearing walking down Sydney Rd in Brunswick, or you could pick up at the Ceres Market, or at Inspirasia in Fitzroy.

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I also find yoked skirts very comfortable to wear. I tried to fit a very similar New Look pattern back in the day, and gave up the face of massive adjustments. So desperate for clothes, I decided to fit this basic skirt and then make a few iterations.

Version 1

I had to grade up the pattern, then I made it up in this olive green cotton corduroy that I think was a short piece I purchased years ago from GJs in Brunswick. I don’t love the colour but it actually goes with more of my clothes than I expected. Fitting changes involved running in the side seams above the hip and shortening the front hem quite dramatically.

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The instructions and constructions methods advised in this pattern are really excellent. My only issues is that the way she has you trim the yoke seams make letting the side seams out at the (later) fitting stage impossible in the yoke area. The invisible zipper method gives you a beautiful clean finished result with no hand sewing, but the way you sew up and over the end of the zipper creates a 2cm seam that is bigger than the rest of the back seam and so takes all the stress of movement. Given that it’s a high stress area (you know the bit you sit on) it actually pulled a hole in  my fabric – so I wouldn’t recommend that instruction step either.

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Version 2

I had a lovely piece of Nicola Cerini fabric that I bought in the sale when she moved out of her Abbortford Convent workshop. It is a stamen design, and the fabric is upholstery weight. (I actually have a Nicola Cerini handbag that I use everyday – I love her botanically inspired designs). The pink is a bit of a departure for me but I thought I’d give it a try. The denim is a really lovely quality stretch denim that I bought at Tessuti – what I used here was a leftover piece from some pants I had made.

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I used an invisible zipper but I have a lot of trouble doing it up over the yoke seam – really the fabric is too heavy for an invisible zip.

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Version 3

I decided to make a shorter version, to be worn with leggings, and add some front pockets as somewhere to keep my phone (that is not my bra) is a bit of an issue for me. I drafted the pockets myself – they are pretty shallow and designed to be just a little bit bigger than my phone.

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The beautiful crochet scarf I’m wearing was a gift from the talented designer – Sara of Illuminate Crochet. Isn’t it gorgeous! It’s called the Fresh Air Scarf and you can buy it here. Yes, learning to crochet is on my list of things to do 😉

The fabric of the skirt is a very heavy non-stretch denim that was a gift. I imagine that it will last forever, but sadly does look better ironed, so I might just have to do that! I also put in a a simple centered zipper, plus added pockets.

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I actually had to let out the side seams of this skirt below the yoke as it turned out too tight, even though it was theoretically exactly the same size as the last version. The fabric obviously make a big difference to fit.

I’m done with A-line skirts for now but I suspect that some light cotton ones for summer might be a good idea. I would highly recommend this pattern – it would actually be a great first pattern for a beginner, and it is a lovely shape and comfortable fit.

 

The curse of the empire seam

So my sewjo seems to be returning, finally. I wish I could say this is because I’m getting a full nights sleep, but sadly I’m not. Someday, someday….

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Totally frustrated with pattern fitting and all the hard work, time and disappointment that entails for me I decided to try a new tack – Lekala patterns. This is a Russian company that offers pdf sewing patterns, thankfully in English, that are drafted to your measurements, including height. I thought I’d try the free knit top pattern #8004. I entered my height, all my measurements and also selected the low bust alteration.

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I sewed it up exactly as drafted in a polyester jersey that I purchased years ago from Cotton onto Craft in Cowes, Victoria. I was very pleasantly surprised to find garment fabrics in a small coastal town. Well actually I did make some changes. I added a banded neckline finish, stretched on, as a turned and stitched hem on a thin knit like this looks very homemade in my opinion. This top is also unhemmed.

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I’m actually quite disappointed and won’t be wearing this top (it was intended as a test garment, perhaps wearable if it worked out). Despite telling the program that I’m 176cm tall this top is miles too short in the body. It barely reaches my jeans when standing straight and I would add 10cm plus a hem allowance if making it again. The sleeves are just long enough now and would be too short if hemmed. But my biggest source of anguish is that damn empire seam.

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It’s too high, sitting on the bust rather than under it. You can see it’s too high at the side seam too and there is weird pulling going on. So much for using that low bust setting, I know I’m wearing a soft cup nursing bra, but still….  Empire seams are horrible to fit. I love the look of them (when fitted properly), they lend themselves very well to attractive crossover V necklines but I have rarely, if ever managed to fit them properly.

Back when I was five months pregnant with Tessa I sewed this monstrously ugly wadder.

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OMG! Baggy boobs. This was my attempt at the Ottobre magazine Loving nursing top.

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I looked at the very small busted model they used, measured, pinned, deliberated and lowered the empire seam….way too much. I gave up. For reference this is what a RTW empire seam looks like on me – this top is the Target nursing/maternity top that pretty much every pregnant or nursing woman in Australia owns (photo taken when 5 months pregnant with Tessa).

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And here’s a me-sewn Simplicity 3503 from 2010 that was not intended as maternity wear but ended up only maternity suitable – and with the too high empire seam.

 

 

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I also made a wadder of Jalie 2804 Empire crossover top back in the day.  The only empire seam that I’ve made that fit was the Cake Tiramisu dress – and I didn’t think the end result dress was very flattering so never wore it much.

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What should I do? Give up on empire seamed knit tops as too hard to fit? The different lengthwise street of different knits, the contracting effect of the neckband, the great difficultly of adjusting the seam once sewn all make fitting very hard. But… I really like the look of them. Dear readers, is the Lekala top pattern worth adjusting and remaking or should I give up on empire seams?

 

Grey denim skirt

So here’s the first thing I made on my new machine – a grey denim skirt using the OOP Kwik Sew 3362.

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This is the fourth time I’ve made this pattern. I made it in purple corduroy as one of my first sewing projects back in 2008 (photo here). I made a full length version in dark red ponte (pictured at the bottom of this post), and a I made a blue denim version that I later maternity-ized with a stretch waistband. I was still wearing that version a month ago, and I wore the red one recently too.

This time I graded the pattern to an XXL, added back waist darts, reshaped the side seams considerably and used an invisible zipper. I also had to shorten the skirt a fair bit which is pretty unusual for me as I’m 5’10”. I top stitched all the panel seams too.

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The invisible zipper foot on my new machine is quite different to what I’ve used before so I had quite a bit of trouble with it. I sewed it too close for the zipper to close and unpicked it several times. Now it’s too wide, but in the interest of gaining a wearable skirt sooner, I left it.

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You can see that the back waist facing is rolling up already which is a pain, and not something I’ve ever managed to solve.

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I think I’m done with this pattern. I wear the skirt all the time, but I’m not in love with the way the grading made the curved panels come so far down onto the thigh. I think I would have been better just to cut wider side seams so I could do the dart/shaping that I needed to.

Overall this is a very useful wardrobe basic that I was desperately in need of. Sewing time is incredibly precious and rare these days – this skirt took me weeks of 20 minutes here and there. However on I go. I have a floral maxi skirt in progress…. I think it’s destined to be worn with leggings the way the weathers going. Oh well!