I still have a handful of projects I made at March Craft Camp that never got blogged. Since another CC is upon us, I figured I’d better get to that! Some of the photos are from this past weekend, and some from right after the camp, which explains the hair difference.

First, what’s not here. I made another binge dress out of gaberdine from spotlight. I had some fit issues with it, and some construction issues (invisible zip wouldn’t cooperate, gaberdine is lovely to work with but shows imprecise sewing quite clearly with puckers and pulling seams) but the biggest one is that I had thought I added seam allowances to the pattern when I adjusted and traced it. And, can you guess? Yup, I had not. So I sewed a dress that was beautifully fitted dress except that it was 1cm too small everywhere. I soldiered on but when I got home and was going to fix the zip, I finally admitted that it was just too small ever to be comfortable. I threw it into the bin. Whomp whomp!

Also there is another binge dress, thankfully started after I figured out why the first one was so tight, so that I could add s/a. It’s made out of lawn from Spotlight, read with butterflies on it. It just needs a zip and a hem, but given it’s turned for too cold to wear it, I haven’t been motivated to fix it. This was what held up blogging – I was holding off until I finished the butterfly dress and the Anna dress but it’s not going to happen any time soon.

Anna dress! I have been wanting to sew the By Hand London Anna dress for a long time. In fact this one has been to craft camp twice now. Once I muslined it and determined I’d definitely need an FBA – the front panel looked perfect, the pleats were placed and released perfectly, but the side seams were at a sharp angle. I seriously considered just angling them out but decided to be proper and do an FBA. So this craft camp I did that, rotated the dart created by the adjustment into the pleats and made up what I was hoping would be a wearable muslin. However, the poplin – just the cheap polyester stuff from spotters – is so rubbish I doubt it will be. And since it’s poly it’s not breathable enough to even be a pleasant summer housedress.

I WRESTLED with the pleats, just could not get them to sit right, to release properly, nothing. It was so frustrating, since the ones in the too-small bodice had been just perfect. I ended up making them darts. I got the bodice fitted, and sewed on the skirt – I needed to sew the seam allowances smaller, to allow it to be big enough for the adjusted bodice, so the side seams don’t match. It appeared to fit well. When I got home I sewed the zip in, and…

Huge. Sack.

I have lost a little bit of weight since I muslined it, and while it’s not much it has slightly changed the shape of my upper bust. But not my waist, where it is also too big. So…. I don’t know whether the new fit issues are a result of that, or of the change in fit once the skirt is dragging it down and it’s actually zipped, rather than held together while I look in a mirror, which of course would change my posture. So I’m not sure whether to go back to the original bodice, which appears to fit now, or whether to add in a couple more pleats. I suspect, given that the skirt doesn’t match up, that I probably should have made the pleats wider to begin with – I was kind of winging it because I forgot to mark their placement and then got cross about it all and we all know that being cross and sewing really lead to good decisions, right?

Here it is with extra pleats pinned in. Much better, but I’m not super thrilled with the big fold above my armpit. I guess it’s not so obvious here, but when I’m wearing it and looking down at myself it’s very obvious and annoying. And affects the way the dress sits as I move, which is more to the point. This is why I avoid kimono/cut on sleeves, they are not kind to those of us with a big difference between high and upper bust, I’ve found. I mean it stands to reason, there’s basically a big hollow where the sleeve would meet, so of course there’s going to be a fold. It’s why I have such struggles with too-low armscyes, too.

Anyway, I’ll have to play around with this a bit I think. Maybe next craft camp! I have some rayon I want to use to make a maxi version, and it’s already been two summers since I planned this, I’m determined it won’t be a third.

I also sewed some skirts.

First up is another Simplicity 1541, as made here, in the same gaberdine as my ill-fated binge dress. I liked that skirt but I had had to adjust it so much after wearing it for a while, that it was a bit of a disaster. So I cut it apart and compared it to the pattern.

Pretty big difference. I traced my skirt piece and made it up again.

There are pull lines here but I don’t think they are that obvious in person. It has also settled a bit and the seams, which started out a little bit puckery, sit fine now. The zip insertion could have gone better, though.

This is why I didn’t do zips on my other things at camp. I am not precise enough to be able to sew  invisible or, indeed, lapped zippers without leaning heavily on my tools. Suse kindly lends me her lovely old Elna, which is a delight but offers no crutches for the sloppy seamstress. So, zips at home. Also this is not technically an invisible zip, I discovered upon sewing in. It’s a ‘separating zipper’. Because Spotlight is perpetually out of black zips, so I took what I could get. You’d think they’d be on top of that, since I’d assume they want to sell lots of zips. (Hahahahaha! Good one, right?) I stocked up on skirt zips at the Fabric Store in Melbourne, though, so I should be right for a while.

You can also see that the back kick pleat is a bit wonky, I can’t remember why I furfed that one up. It’s not too bad on, but here it is flat

At some point I might redo the zip because it’s not super great, and occasionally gets stuck halfway. Luckily I don’t need to unzip all the way to get it on.

And here’s the front, with a slightly wibbly hem. Note to self, next time make the hem longer so you can do a proper blind hem.

Not perfect, but I wear it all the time and it’s holding up well and looks perfectly fine in person. At least, no one’s said anything yet!

Next two are what I guess you could call binge skirts! That same ottobre skirt I’ve made a million times. First in plain old drill

I see I am having that same pulling issue. I wonder if it is a sewing flaw I keep replicating, or something to do with the angle of my stomach? Perhaps I should smooth out the bottom curve of that facing?

This one hasn’t got much wear because… something. It’s in the mending pile and I can’t remember why. Hem, I think? Also it wrinkles easily and gets covered in cat hair as soon as you look at it. But I think, since it’s quite a light drill, it might see more action in the warmer months. I did a very dodgy lapped zipper:

I flat felled the seams, which was my first time doing that. I liked it! Except that it makes it hard/impossible to adjust. And this skirt needs it – I panicked when I sewed it that I’d made it too tight, but TURNS OUT I just shouldn’t try on things with a fitted waist after dessert on the second night of craft camp… It’s actually a bit loose. The curse of the delicious dinners. The next one I made is also a bit loose:

In denim with a slight stretch, from Rathdowne Remnants I think. I’ve had it for years. And with scraps for the facing, and an exposed zipper

Which I had to attach a hook and eye to because otherwise it slides down.

And it currently sits a bit funny – the zipper I mean, but the whole skirt too. Folds at the front and the zipper and sticks out at the sides.

I think actually it would benefit from coming in a couple cm at the back zip, tapering out to nothing. But since the exposed zipper was a pain to sew, and I just serged to finish the edges, and then sewed a regular seam, I think I will go the lazy route of just sucking in the side seams… eventually. Mending ain’t my favourite thing, obviously.

And that brings me up to speed!

So here is my second M6696, which I DID finish in time for my self imposed deadline and wore when I was in Sydney for the Thrilling Adventure Hour shows. Which were, by the way, amazing.

First let me apologise for the blown out photos. I have really limited photo taking opportunities since it’s so dark all the time, and not much shade in the backyard, so I had to take what I could get. Which is annoying because you can’t really see the details, so I tried to take some detail shots in the shade. And also it explains the sunnies – my choices are wearing sunglasses, or having squinting death glare. I chose facial expressions. You’re welcome.

Squinty death glare

It was a bit of a push to make the deadline. I was intending to work on this the weekend before we left, and I would have had plenty of time. The dress actually comes together pretty quickly. I cut it out right after I finished my black one and sewed up the bodice during the week. Unfortunately, I ran into some issues which lead to me needing to take apart and resew the bodice, which was quite time consuming. And then the weekend before was busy and I didn’t get much sleep on the Saturday due to sleeping in a caravan on a friend’s property in 80kmph winds (not restful. 2/10. Do not recommend) and being totally zombified on Sunday. I didn’t want to attempt fixing the bodice in that state. So I sewed this whole dress during the week. I meant to time myself but forgot, but I spent maybe three hours on it on Monday and Tuesday night, another couple on Wednesday and then Thursday it was done enough that I could actually pack the rest of my clothes! I think that’s not too bad, really, for a dress with this many bits.

So, the bodice issues. As I noted with my black voile version, there was pulling at the armpit. I was a bit worried it would become an issue in the heavier fabric, and it did!

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Yes. My room is 100% trashed.

I spent some time tugging and pinching it and seeing what would help. I had just enough fabric to recut either the bodice or the sleeves – I bought 5 whole metres but since it is a narrow fabric with a directional print, and the skirt pieces are wide, there was not much left from the initial cutting, at least not big enough to do anything with. I thought maybe I needed an FBA after all. I even adjusted the pattern piece but I just wasn’t sure that was the problem. In the end, I think the issue is armscye shape, which is a thing I have had problems with many a time.

During problem solving, I laid the sleeve pattern over a pattern I know works for me, the sleeve from my Ottobre tops and my ottobre dress.

There is a substantial difference. The slope of the ottobre sleeves is gentler, and less peaked. A while ago I tried muslining the Colette Jasmine blouse and had exactly this issue. I had to make so many changes to that, and armscyes are tricky things to change, that the muslin is still sulking in the bottom of a box, all wadded up in fury. So I was worried about changing things but I also knew from that experience that small changes can make a big difference. So I mashed up the sleeve, basically tracing the ottobre dress sleeve (because it was closer to the shape than the tshirt sleeve) but copying the hemline from M6696. I recut the sleeves and basted them in and it WAS better. But not fixed. I tried pinching out a wee dart from the armscye and that made a BIG difference.

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Pinched out dart on the left. Unchanged on the right.

So I figured that as close as I was going to get quickly, without recutting.

I think, from this and also from the fold lines my black one gets when worn, that I actually need to grade in a couple of sized from the armhole up. I do usually have to do a narrow shoulder adjustment, even when I’ve chosen my high bust size and done an FBA. I have sloping shoulders, I think is the issue. So next time (oh yes there will be many next times) that is what I will do. I won’t bother with an FBA unless the next one seems like it needs it after the armscye adjustment, but I think I will move the horizontal dart up just 1cm and maybe make it a bit shallower. It seems like I need the room there, a bit. I know I have wide-set boobs – I can’t wear underwired bras because no matter the cup size the underwires come in where my boobs still are, and it HURTS. So I guess I just need more room there? There’s plenty of room under my boobs, which is good.

The sleeve does rouche up a bit, and twist, on this, but not enough to really notice (except that of course I am minutely scrutinising any flaw) and I think lifting the seam towards my torso by grading it in will help.

Still some pulling. Luckily my sunglasses make me real cool.

Apart from that, the sewing was pretty straightforward! I did end up with two major flaws and a minor one. The minor one is that the pleats at the back somehow ended up being as intended one side, and box pleats the other

D’oh! Box pleats on right, as intended on left

But I figure if you’re looking that close we have other issues. I think this happened because, when I went to sew the skirt to the bodice, it was somehow massively too small. I guess I pinned and basted the pleats too generously? So I had to kind of wing it because I was pushed for time at that point, and I guess one side got caught up weird.

Also the gathering at the top is not entirely even, as you can see here it’s bunched up to one side.

The major ones are 1) the button placement and 2) the front waist placement, both of which exacerbate each other.

I sewed the buttons last (obviously), and late at night (and there’s one missing because I needed another card of buttons and Spotlight is out and clearly doesn’t restock often). I sewed by placing the waistband button first, because I wanted that to line up, and then working up and down from there. Looking at the late night photo I took of it, I can see it’s every so slightly off, but not very much

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It’s not very clear, but this was the photo I took at almost midnight, when I was done bar buttons. With a mostly-meeting waistband.

But look at it now

That’s not just waving in the breeze.

Washing must have loosened something up, I guess. So now the waistband is off kilter and, as a consequence, the bottom of the button bands don’t meet! I only noticed this when I went to put it on for its first outing, in Sydney. Luckily I had brought needle and thread and I quickly sewed up the longer hem to match

I don't know if you can really see it, but the left side is tacked up.

I don’t know if you can really see it, but the left side is tacked up, so they meet in the middle.

Obviously this is not a great fix, and it makes the front noticeably shorter than the back!

Also exacerbated by the way I’m standing, but not actually that much, it looks pretty much like that angle when I’m standing normally. I was trying to show the wonky waistband, but it got blown out.

But it’s relatively easily fixed by cutting off and replacing the buttons in better positions.

However, it’s also exacerbated by the fact that the front waist is too high. When I was sewing them together I noticed that the front was shorter than the back by about 1cm. I figured this was due to wonky cutting of the back bodice, which I had adjusted, and I simply cut the back to match. Which was a good move in the sense that now the back is absolutely perfect. But bad in the sense that I think actually what happened was I somehow cut the front bodices too short.

The adjusted back piece. I think I need to straighten it out so the side is the same length as the centre back, which is how I ended up trimming it anyway.

The adjusted back piece. I think I need to straighten it out so the side is the same length as the centre back, which is how I ended up trimming it anyway.

I have no idea how I did that but that must be it. It is much shorter than the bodice of my black dress. I have been going back and forth between fixing and not fixing but it’s annoying me a lot, both to wear – it means the waist is actually on my ribs, and it constricts me when I’m sitting down – and to look at. And the pockets sit too high to be useful. So I’ll have to fix it. SIGH. Once I unpick the button band and the waist seam (and all my lovely topstitching, boo hoo!) I’ll just sew the front seams at a smaller seam allowance, it only needs a little bit extra at each seam. No biggie. And then re-place the buttons. And then hopefully the front will sit right!

Sloping hemline and visibly higher waistline at the front.

It’s also annoying because it makes it almost empire line, which is not at all the silhouette I’m going for. Even worse when wearing the petticoat I bought, because it is a bit longer than I need it so I have to wear it high up on my waist, which mean lots of poofiness at my belly where I really don’t need the help. That said, I am still plotting ways to wear a petticoat in my every day life without people thinking I’m mad. They are SO fun to wear!

Yeeeaaahhhh! As worn to the Friday night show. I should have bought a petticoat a good 3″ shorter. But I kind of dig the maximum puff + peep out the bottom. The neck tie is just a piece of silk satin I bought at the Fabric Store in Sydney. It has abstract flowers on it and it also came in teal. Don’t think I wasn’t tempted to buy more of it.

Construction wise, I French seamed the armscyes, serged and then sewed the skirt pieces, and sandwiched and French seamed the waistband as I did last time.

French seamed bodice

 

Sandwiched waistband… except where it’s not.

I topstitched the button band – it was much easier in a stiffer fabric, although you can see bits where it flipped out and I kept sewing – that was in the home stretch and my deadline was LOOMING. I did slipstitch the collar, it was just quicker. Unfortunately the top buttonhole is in an area where there are too many seams meeting – I didn’t clip carefully enough I guess – and it’s in fact impossible to get the button through. That might soften up with washing, maybe?

I also am tempted to fuss with the collar. The collar itself is great, but it feels like it’s 1/2” too high up on my neck. Is that a thing? Maybe because I have a dowager’s hump/my head is forward on my neck? I am tempted to try to move it down next time, because I feel like it makes the collar sit funny, because it’s all perched up high with nothing to support it where it should be supported. I also wonder if there’s too much room in the centre front and maybe I should rotate some out, but I’m going to adjust the shoulders first and see what that does to that problem.

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Part of it is that because of the button issue, the right side is actually sitting a bit too high. But… does the collar look like it’s in the right place to everyone else? I’d really like some opinions on this one.

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You can also see the pooling above my bust, still. Just not sure about the right fitting fixes for this. Help?

In summary!

Changes made:

Took 1” out of the back both horizontally and vertically. Pleated back instead of gathering. Swapped sleeve for one with a wider and shallow sleeve cap. Pinched out a small (probably 1cm) dart in each armscye, where I felt it needed it.

Fixes needed:

Need to fix the too-short bodice/waistband. Need to re-locate the buttons.

Changes to make next time:

grade the shoulders/armscye down two sizes, front and back. Move horizontal dart and make it a bit shallower (not sure about this one). Maybe adjust where the collar sits? Or perhaps leave that until I see what the other changes do. Make sure to cut the bodice long enough!

Even with its flaws, I’ve worn it out a couple of times since Sydney, to great acclaim. I do still love it, but I know the flaws will bother me.

I am planning to make another cotton one to test these changes. I have some cotton with spots that I bought planning to replicate a dress I had as a child. I thought I had this blue spotty one and a multi-coloured spotty one but I can’t find photographic evidence of the latter.

I'll probably give the socks and sandals look a miss, though.

Pretty sure this was handmade, either by my mother or my paternal grandmother.

No matter. I’ll probable wear it with knee socks, too (although not socks AND sandals), which I probably should be concerned about. Actually I realised when we were in Sydney, I was wearing the anchor dress with knee socks, the nurse-like shoes I am wearing in these photos, and a thin knitted jumper the same colour of the socks… I had recreated my school uniform. Thankfully in a MUCH nicer colour scheme. I feel like I should feel some kind of way about that but… I don’t. Shirtdresses are forever, so there.

Anyway the point is, spotty shirtdress. I’m thinking about swapping the skirt out for a circle skirt with no pleats. And then I have three metres of flannel that I bought for pjs but might be destined to be one of these, but I think I only have enough for a straight skirt, especially if I want long sleeves. AND I have some of the teal flannellette from my shirt, probably enough for a dress. Oh, AND, I bought some sparkly, glittery snowflake fabric to make a solstice dress from. So, that’s less than a month away.

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This stuff! It’s much less see through when it’s not wet, although it will still require a slip.

 

So it seems I’m destined for a wardrobe full of this one pattern. Partly because I want to nail the fit of this, but also because, I just love shirtdresses, I love this pattern in particular, and I feel totally fine with having multiple copies of it and being that woman who wears all the shirtdresses. There’s many a worse fate.

I cut this dress out about seven months ago. WHOOPS. It’s McCalls 6696, and just about everyone has made one.

I know it was that long because I remember cutting it out in my last house, and that it was after S and G had moved in because I didn’t have a dedicated sewing room anymore. The cutting process was therefore fraught because I couldn’t use the kitchen floor as I had used to do for large patterns (too much through-traffic) and had to use the floor of what used to be the craft room but was then a combined study/craft effort. And it was hard. And the light was not so good in that house and this fabric is both floaty and black, so there are a few things a bit off grain, which made me cranky when I realised but turned out ok. I also know because I commented on Mary’s post about the autumn/spring of shirtdresses  about how I had the pattern cut up and was going to sew it up soon, intending it for that sewalong. Whoops, again. I know I didn’t start it much earlier than that because I bought the fabric after seeing Mary’s first one and falling in love. I HAD TO HAVE a voile 6696.

The fabric is black voile from Lincraft, and I got it at one of their half price sales. It’s actually very nice. They only had black, white and an insipid lavender. I considered getting white and dying it because what I really wanted was a teal dress but decided to try the black first and I could always go back. Can’t go too wrong with black (unless you have to sew it mostly in the evenings in autumn, which I did…). I bought 3.5 metres for a total of $18.87. I used pretty much all of it. The buttons are Lincraft as well, I don’t recall how much, they’re the basic cheap line but I did have to buy two packets because there are 11 buttons on this.

So it took me about 7 months to get this sewn up. In my defence, it was quite hard in that house to find the sewing time, because I had to kick other people out of the room and there wasn’t anywhere much for them to go since the house was so small, so I felt bad doing that for long periods of time. And I wanted to sew this right, so that meant it took time. I did sew a muslin. I was looking for photos of that and I can’t find any but I CAN find, a week after Mary’s post, photos of the house we now live in. So I guess that was the week we bought it! Well no wonder I didn’t sew this dress up, then.

As I was saying, I sewed a muslin. I definitely took notes but who knows where they are now. I remember cutting a size 16 or maybe 18, based on finished garment measurements, and finding it too small. I think my reasoning was, although the pattern has cup sizes, I am still larger than a D. So I would still need an FBA. And then from memory, I found the fit of the size 16/18 D cup close enough except too small at the side seams. So I cut out a size straight size 20D, with the vertical bust dart extended 1”. I see Mary did exactly the same thing, I think we have a very similar torso. I did the bust darts at the old house, tacked them properly and everything, and stay stitched things it said to. Which did NOT include the neckline, and I think it should. It does tell you to stay stitch, but not until you’ve assembled the whole dress, just before you attach the collar, by which point there’s been plenty of opportunity to stretch it. I will stay stitch it after cutting, next time.

I was always intending to get back to this and I’ve been slowly picking up sewing steam so I am sure I would have gotten to it soon – except that I still have some craft camp projects I would like to finish so I can blog last camp’s projects before the next one! But this dress got bumped up the queue for a nerdy reason. This’ll get a bit convoluted.

I’ve been a fan of the comedian Paul F Tompkins for a long time. Comedy is my favourite entertainment, podcasts are my main consumption of media, and PFT is my favourite podcaster and second favourite comedian (Sandra Bullock is my first favourite, make of that what you will). PFT is guaranteed to make me laugh, or more accurately, gasp ‘what? What is happening??’ through laughter, which obviously is even better. He also dresses VERY nicely. My cousin M is also a fan, and she’s a big fan of the Thrilling Adventure Hour, which is a podcasted live show in the style of old time radio. Specifically, we’re fans of Beyond Belief fan (in fact that she maintains the BB part of the Thrilling Adventure Hour wiki). The Thrilling Adventure Hour is coming up on its last shows, two of which will be in Sydney next weekend. We’re going, naturally.

One year ago, PFT posted this. It’s a recreation of a jacket from Jaws, apparently – I’ve not seen the movie and tbh most of the things I know about Jaws are from hearing PFT talk about it on podcasts, which he seems unable to prevent himself from doing.. M sent the photo post to me saying I should have that outfit, since I 1) always like PFTs outfits 2) like things with anchors on (I like nautical stuff but not like full on sailor suits so anchors on not-blue fabric is PERF). I wondered if I could find the fabric. She found it. It’s Sarah Jane for Michael Miller, the out to sea line which I should have spotted right away (sewing nerd fail). I bought some. And I spent a year wondering what the right outfit would be to recreate the feel of a three piece suit in a form that I would actually wear.

If you’re guessing I decided on M6696, you’d be right.

So for ages I thought I’d just sew it up when I finished the black dress. And then when we booked the tickets for TAH in Sydney I thought I’d sew it up to wear there. And then three weeks ago I thought ‘oh shit, that’s soon!’ and pulled out the black dress to work on as a wearable muslin before starting the anchor dress.

This meant the progress was a little bit rushed. Unfortunately there was a bit less ‘doing it right’ on this than I had initially intended. On the OTHER hand, it’s actually a finished sewn object, so, swings and roundabouts.

The actual sewing process was pretty straightforward. I did most of it over a day a couple of weekends ago. I did some changes, and I gotta say it was a good thing I’ve sewn a shirt before because these instructions were CONFUSING. I sandwiched the top yoke, and I also sandwiched the bottom of the bodice in the waistband. Then I French seamed the skirt onto the waistband. I French seamed everything else too, because the fabric is light and a bit seethrough, and mildly ravelly – no problems with it while sewing, or even unpicking, but it will definitely unravel in the wash. I also did the collar like Andrea’s tutorial. Basically I did the construction like the Kwik Sew shirt I made.

The hem is folded over 1cm and then folded up 4cm and top stitched. I’m wondering about taking it up a bit further in future makes, but I haven’t decided yet if I like the length or not. It’s a bit longer than I usually would make my skirts but I might be into it? It is pretty crinkly in this fabric, I did iron it before wearing but in future I’ll spend more time steaming the hem in particular because it’s pretty creased still. And the collar is sitting funny – it was fine before but I think I steamed it at a wrong angle. I’ll have to pay attention to that. In general, though, I like to wear natural fabrics and that means some creasing. If Queen Vic herself can’t beat creasing I don’t see why I should try.

I also had initially planned no pockets, because I was planning French seams and didn’t want to deal with that ish. Then when I pulled it out again I decided no, definitely, pockets are necessary. So I sort of worked that out myself and they don’t really sit quite right. It looks fine when worn, but if you look at the pocket you can see it wants to cave in on itself before the seam. I’ve done some googling and found a better method (that is to say, any method at all), and I could probably go back and fix it but I’m worried I’d make it worse and the fixes would be visible – this happened a few other places where the voile made fixing things hard. Nowhere very visible but the pockets would be, so they’ll stay that way for now, but hopefully next time I want to sew pockets into French seams I’ll feel better equipped.

Then I ran into some troubles. For one, the button band turned out to be too small somehow. I’d cut it too long initially, and then when I trimmed it I guess I trimmed it too short. So it technically fit the dress but without room to turn over, when it catches the hem, which is how I didn’t notice it until it was sewed on – it looked like it fit. So I extended the button band which will be at the back, since that was even shorter, somehow (??) and then I just sort of… fudged it. I ended up having to fold the hem up a little bit under it on one side, so the hem is a bit wonky. Whoops.

I also mucked up the button band width. I didn’t fold it over totally uniformly – I suspect it was cut a bit wonky (should have used my rotary cutter for the shifty, light fabric), and then I just folded the edges in half instead of actually making sure it was straight. So it gets a bit wider, right at chest height, just where you would ideally want a flaw like that, right? To make matters worse, when I folded it over and top stitched it (instead of catch stitching. Who has time, right? Turns out it probably would have been quicker…) I missed a bit. It caught ok (because I top stitched twice, after missing the first time. So much for being careful!) but the edge had folded out instead of under, so the raw edge was sticking out. At this point I was a bit frustrated about other fit issues which I haven’t covered yet, so I just trimmed it off and called it a day. Except that where I trimmed it at the bust, turns out I also trimmed the seam allowance of the bodice. And so it only had like a 1mm seam allowance. So it ripped. ARGH! I ironed on some black interfacing and zigzagged it down the seam line and S, who is picky about these things and has good eyesight, says you can’t see it. It’s black, I believe him. I was going to take a picture of it for full disclosure but despite fussing over how it looked before taking photos, I totally forgot about it. So I guess it’s fine!

Wibbly button band from width issues, and also being determined to line up the wasitband and needing to muck with button placement a bit. I can’t see the zigzagging but I can’t tell if that’s because it’s invisible, or because the photo is so unfocussed. Still trying to get the hang of the self timer on my new camera.

 

The button bands are also a bit flimsy in general. The voile itself is light, obviously, and I initially interfaced it with a medium weight interfacing, which is white. When I went to sew it up I noticed I’d forgotten to interface one button band, and decided I’d use black interfacing on the outer button band, to prevent it showing through white at the buttonholes. It does peep through at the collar so I think this was a good choice, but the only black interfacing I could find is a bit light. So the band is a bit softer than I think is ideal. But the other areas are appropriately interfaced. Still deciding if I should use the same weight for the anchor dress, which will be quilting cotton and therefore heavier. And the waistband does drag a bit, I think through a combination of the back waist being too low, and just being a lightweight fabric.

See the bendy waistband?

 

Ok now to the fitting woes which had me frustrated and sewing sloppily.

It’s impossible to try this on until the button bands are on, because of the construction order. Well you could just before you sewed the bands, I suppose, but then you’re not quite sure how much extra to allow for. It was looking pretty good as I went so I put the bands on. Then when I tried it on, the waistband was tight. It was juuuust ok standing, although tighter than I think a dress I’ll need to wear with a slip should be. But when I sat down it was no go. Button popping awaited!

I measured where it was when I was comfortable and decided I’d add 2.5” to the waistband. Then I last minute decided I’d just cut a size 24 waistband, which is 4” bigger, because I somehow became convinced I’d need the extra room. I guess once again, I have no idea how big my waist is. I had juuuust enough fabric to recut the outer waistband, slightly off grain. I pieced the inner. I had to unpick the waistband from the buttonband, the bodice, and the skirt, because of the way I’d sandwiched it all together. I was still doing things properly, you see! I should know better. I just eased out the back skirt pleats to account for the extra room, which was pretty easy except for right at the centre back, where one of the bigger pleats grew about .75” longer than the other. It wasn’t very noticeable at that point, in fact I didn’t notice it! Not until later. As for the bodice, it has so much room in the gathers that I just basically let the gathers out to almost nothing. I had been worried about how poufy the back was (a common complaint with this pattern) and I thought, I would make it up buttons and all and see how it sat. If it was still poufy after ironing I could maybe pleat them instead.

When I tried it on it sat ok but I couldn’t be sure without buttons etc. I was worried that there was too much room in the top bodice (no photo of this – too hard to hold it together and photograph without flashing you) and maybe I needed to bring the shoulders up, or maybe I needed a small FBA or maybe a hollow chest adjustment… I decided I’d do the buttons, because the button band wouldn’t change, and I’d see how it sat once it was actually buttoned up.

So I did that, BLESS my new sewing machine (who I have yet to introduce to the blog) and her delightful automatic buttonholes. Eleven neat buttonholes, and one quite pleasant evening of sewing later (I quite like hand sewing, although I was sick of it by the tenth button), I had a complete-but-flawed dress!

The back’s still pretty poofy but I’m ok with it.

 

I tried it on, and the bodice sat PERFECTLY. Just perfect. All the fit flaws totally disappeared. Funny how different a buttoned dress is to holding it closed, huh? (duh). I was so thrilled, this fit me basically out of the packet, once I got the size selection right! The shoulders are in the right place and everything (although I suspect the armhole of being too low). But. The waistband was now clearly too big. LE SIGH. 2” too big, to be precise. Should have gone with my first instinct. And the back was poufy. The too long waistband was also making the back hang really low and weird. I did try to take some photos of this but it was night and just too dark.  But basically it was a sack at the back.

I couldn’t face unpicking the waistband and buttonband again and I was also worried that the fabric would fray too much. So I hacked it. I pleated the waistband in the middle, and hand-sewed it shut. TADA! This created a little pleat in the back bodice and another skirt pleat. It’s just slightly off centre because of one of the back pleats being longer than the other – once I did the centre pleat, it became really obvious. So I just folded it until it looked right.

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At the same time I also catch stitched the hem to sit a bit neater (but still curved up, curses) at the centre front, and catch stitched the collar where the turn and top stitch hadn’t quite caught it, despite all my pinning. Next time I think I’ll just catch stitch, since it appears I’m going to have to anyways. I don’t know why I can’t manage to turn and stitch like that, but I can’t.

Next time, I will cut a size 22 waistband and back skirt. And I will take a wedge out of the bottom of the back bodice, for a swayback adjustment. I will pleat the back bodice instead of gathering – maybe a nice neat box pleat. I might take 1” of width out, tapering up to nothing at the top, but tbh, I do need almost all the extra width at the back – just not at my swayback. I don’t know that there’s a neat compromise there. I’m debating fussing with the armhole, because I suspect it will be more pronounced in a thicker fabric, but I’m not sure I feel like futzing with a sleeve/armscye adjustment. I guess I could raise it a half a centimetre or so without too much ripple effect. Famous last words? And with the thicker fabric I think I’ll take some ease from the sleevecap. I love the little gathers and puffs here, but not in a thicker fabric and I think probably it’s not really my style, in general.

Demonstrating that I need the room at the back See the strain lines? Although I suspect some of that would be mitigated by lifting the armscye.

 

I also think it does need an FBA, looking at these photos. There’s strain at the bust and underarms, so I think a small FBA, shifting the horizontal dart an inch to the side, and raising the armscyes by a half an inch would solve that. That said, all these things are cosmetic, it feels VERY comfortable to wear. I hope that stays true in a heavier fabric because I’ve already cut out the next one so it’s too late for those adjustments! But there WILL be a next time.

Yeah, that bodice wants an FBA. Check out those strain lines. Luckily I don’t stand like this too often.

 

So. A very imperfect dress. But I love it. Every time I’ve put it on I’ve picked it up feeling disheartened about the flaws, but when it’s on I fall in love again. I think it just looks so good – and it’s exactly 100% how I want to look all the time. It’s totally in my style wheelhouse. Another black dress, totally boring, but I feel like a million dollars in it. And despite the flaws and corners cut I feel very proud of how I persevered on this and got it done.

Unfortunately it’s also a light, floaty, see through dress, and it’s FREEZING here right now. I’m going to have to make a slip for it, I’m considering also making a version of M6559  in a fleece-backed merino knit I got from The Fabric Store when I was in Melbourne a few weeks ago – I meant to buy one length of fleecey and one not, but mixed up and got 6 metres fleecey instead! That may have been a blessing in disguise, because if I make a ‘slip’ out of it, I could wear this dress in winter and be WARM! Although I am wearing only a black bra under it in these photos and I think it’s fine. I’d still probably wear a cami for work but I don’t feel immodest at all. I always wear bike shorts anyway so my lower half is properly warm and modest.

Oh, also, it’s already covered with cat hair. Sigh. But I LOVE IT ANYWAY!

 

Before we start, the Get Your Knit ON competition is up at Bluegingerdoll. If you’re so inclined, mosey over there and vote for your favourite make.

Continuing in the theme of knit dresses (I love them. They don’t have darts to get all pointy or ANYTHING), I made a Jasper sweaterdress, from Paprika Patterns. The designer/model has such a different bodyshape from me, and the look of it on her is something I love but have accepted I will never achieve in the same way. So I probably wouldn’t have put it on my ‘to sew’ list except that I saw Gillians’ version at Crafting a Rainbow version and fell in love.

I had some rayon ponte from Spotlight that I’d bought when it was on special. I was planning to make a plain straight skirt, but I bought two metres of it and it’s 150cm so there is a LOT of fabric. I have no idea why I thought I would need that much. I bought some black at the same time, to make a ¾ circle skirt (as yet unmade) and I guess I just bought the same amount for both without thinking. The ponte is nice and dense, although it is something like 90% polyester, so it’s also a bit shiny and weird, in the way that oil-based fabrics are. But the rayon does take the edge off. It was really nice to sew with, I have to say. The pattern calls for a heavy ponte or thicker, and this worked pretty well, I think.

The photos aren’t the best, I’m still working out how to focus my camera properly with the timer, and it was early in the morning before work. So I just snapped some quickly and my face looks like it’s a ghost but just go with it, ok?

 

Anyhow, the dress. It comes with really thorough instructions on how to pick a size – the smaller sizes are drafted for a B cup and the larger ones for a C cup. I’m a DDD or an E, so obviously I knew I would need to do something about that, but luckily Paprika patterns also provides some excellent instructions for adjustments. There are also details on which pattern pieces you need to print for which version but I got overwhelmed and just printed them all. It wouldn’t be that hard to spend five seconds thinking about it but there you go. Anyway, it means that if you know you just want to make the jumper with the hood for example, you don’t ALSO have to print all the length of the dress and the collar, and wrangle that paper. I really appreciate the thought that went into making this pattern easy to access and use.

It was a nice pattern to tape together – I generally don’t mind taping but sometimes you get patterns that make it hard. This one was simple. It had circles to match up the sides and I found it much easier to make sure the circles were round rather than that triangles met each other, or other systems I’ve seen. Also the pieces are laid out sensibly so even though I didn’t selectively print, I could cut pieces off as I went. It took me maybe an hour to tape together, and I was going slow because I basically only ever tape patterns together when I am too tired and useless to do anything actually creative.

I cut it out the next day, when I was home from work with a migraine. That’s how nice and simple this pattern is, I could even sew it with a migraine. I did the FBA then, too. It’s a freaking MIRACLE I made it through that. Thankfully, the tute was extremely clear, and it links to Mary’s tute which I needed, because I did a 2.5” FBA and ended up with a weird, ripply, 3D piece of paper. I almost cried but then Mary was to the rescue and taught me how to straighten it out. I think this was probably great practice for doing a princess seam FBA on a woven – I figured this one’s a knit so it would be a bit more forgiving if I fudged things while I worked out what I was doing. The FBA has lots of steps and looks complicated but is actually one of the easiest adjustments I’ve ever done. I’d say it’s easier than an FBA on a darted bodice, even. Just a bit more mind bending trying to think about it.

I really should have pressed that skirt seam.

 

My high bust is exactly 41.5”, and my full bust is 46” so I cut a size 7 and did that 2.5” FBA – probably a bit generous of an FBA for my measurements, but it turned out well. I also folded the back piece in so that the centre back tapered up – I still cut it on the fold but it meant there was basically a built-in dart for my dowager’s hump (such an attractive term, no? JOKES ON THEM you have to have been married to be a dowager. Ha HA!!), basically the no-seam, pre-cutting version of the back adjustment I did on my Violet. I left the pockets off because I wanted to see how the fit was first, and also I was hoping to get a dress I could wear to work on those days when you just can’t be bothered and it’s cold and you’d rather stay in pyjamas, but you don’t actually want to LOOK like you can’t be bothered. I thought pockets would make it more casual. I also taped the bottom band pattern to the bottom of the pieces, and cut them together [get photo], again because I thought it would make it look a bit more casual than I was after.

Pattern piece with the cuff piece taped to it.

I always knew I wanted to make the plain dress, and I don’t love big collars on me – they make me look top heavy and also I feel like I’m choking all the time – so I just ‘self drafted’ a binding. That is to say, I cut a strip of fabric and pinned it until it looked like it’d be tight enough, and then sewed it on. Tres fancy, non? (How do you say ‘fancy’ in French?) It was a good thing this was how I wanted it because I would have struggled to get the collar out of the fabric I had, and the hood out have been totally out. If I’d cut the bands separate I might have been able to do some tricky cutting, but as it was I was left with about 25cm of fabric once I was done cutting.

I didn’t follow the sewing instructions, just sewed it up myself. I did glance at them and they looked very clear, with excellent diagrams.

So, I sewed it up sloooowly over that day (see, migraine). When I tried it on it looked like a SACK.

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It looks like an inmate’s uniform. Not precisely the look I was after…

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Sorry for the poor photos, I was just using my phone. Also please excuse my pants in a pile behind me. I am SO CLASSY, for reals.

I could see, when I pulled it this way and that, that most of the extra fabric was in the centre front. I tried unpicking the front princess seams and taking 1” out of the centre front when I sewed them back together. I also nipped this seam in at the waist a bit. This helped but it was still saggy baggy. There is the front piece, a side piece which wraps around, and a back piece that starts after your shoulders, so I couldn’t really just nip in the sides.

You can see the two seams here, indicating the three pieces – front, side, and back.

 

Besides, I realised, the front seam wasn’t anywhere near my actual bust. You can see the same thing in Chloe’s version here. I ended up unpicking the front piece altogether, and recutting it to take FOUR INCHES out of the front. I tapered it back out so the bit where it meets the shoulder is the same width, because I didn’t want to futz with the armholes if I didn’t have to – they were fitting ok and also armholes are the devil to futz with. I think this is just a body/pattern meeting in a weird way thing. The front doesn’t get adjusted at all with the FBA (except to lengthen it to match) and it DOES fit in the upper torso just fine, so… idk. Is it a shape thing or a drafting quirk for a body that’s not mine? Who knows. It was an easy fix, anyway.

I can see that there are significant drag lines, here. It’s not at all obvious in real life. I’m not quite sure how I’d go about fixing this – a bigger FBA, since I have reduced the centre width? Or maybe a big booty adjustment – actually I think that’s what it’s dragging on. It does hitch up slightly when I sit down, and I have to tug it down. I think, because of the three-piece construction, the back affects the front more than if it had more pieces, like the penny pinny.

Looking at this, I can see the back seam straining a little, so I think that probably is the problem. Obviously there is also a whole bunch of fabric pooling in my lower back, as well. Just for funsies. Not sure how to deal with that without a waist seam, I think I could probably narrow the back piece there, but to be honest it’s not a fitting issue I’m particularly concerned about at this point, especially on a knit dress. I’ll get to figuring out my back fitting issues once I’ve dealt with the front.

I did think about cutting it to match the centre piece of the penny pinny, because I think part of the problem is that Jasper goes out a bit where I would probably want it to go in – see comments above about it being a different shape than I would normally choose. It’s NOT a ‘fit and flare’ type pattern. I didn’t use the penny pattern piece (say that six times fast) because the penny is constructed differently (three pieces for front and back, not a front, two sides and a back), and I didn’t want to have to deal with that + adjusting the front curve if I didn’t have to. Not with a migraine.

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Penny pattern on top of the already cut out Jasper size 7 (before my adjsutments)

 

It came out great! I am really pleased with it. It still is not a shape I am used to, and I feel a bit self conscious that I might be sack-like. But objectively I think it’s totally fine and it’s just that I’m not used to it. I didn’t finish the inside seams at all. I did end up taking 1” off the end of the sleeves because they were too long, and I wish I’d tapered them down a bit and made the cuff smaller, because it’s a bit large. And also, I discovered when I wore it yesterday, the cuffs are cut slightly off grain. Whoops. I topstitched the sleeves and neck and did the hem with my twin needle. My babylock and I still aren’t on speaking terms.

I’m not 100% sure the deep hem is the look I want but I’m going to wear it a bit and see, I can always chop it off at a later date.

I’m really happy with this make, it was a really pleasant experience. I’m keen to make a jumper with a hood and a pocket, too. I have some fleece in the stash but it’s just from spotters, I think I might wait and get something better quality because I think this is a pattern that could feel fancy and nice, I don’t want to undermine it with sub par fabric.

I also have some two-sided doubleknit I bought from the Fabric Store yonks ago that might make a nice sweater dress? It is deep stash now and I’m kind of scared to cut into it, so I’d like to get over it and make it into something this winter. I’m going to wear this dress and if I like it as much as I think I will, I’ll cut into the doubleknit.

 

I’ve been eyeing off Abby Horskin’s designs at Bluegingerdoll for a while now. They keep popping up and every time they do I love them. I think I first saw them on Idle Fancy or maybe Handmade by Heather B. I love the proportions and the lines, and how they are classic and a bit retro while still very wearable in a modern context. I can safely say I’ve loved every make I’ve seen from these patterns, so a while ago I took the plunge and bought a pattern package. I’ve looked at them a lot since then, and took a few to craft camp, but my sewing hasn’t been particularly prolific so nothing got made yet.

Posing with some very fancy plant-protecting shadecloth

 

Then Abby announced the Get Your Knit On competition, and it gave me a bit of a kick in the rump. I already knew I was going to make a Violet someday, so I bumped it up the list. I still have a pile of finishing to do from craft camp – things needing zips or tweaking, and I probably should be prioritising those. On the other hand, it was very invigorating to sew something quick and simple like a knit dress!

The instructions for this dress are great – very clear, great illustrations, some clever little drafting and construction bits. Even though it’s a reasonably complicated shape with the three piece bodice, it was so simple and easy to sew. I loved about everything about sewing this dress up. I sewed view C, with the long sleeves and the flared skirt. (Which is symmetrical, just so you know, in case you cut it with the wrong bit on the fold and freak out. Not that I would know anything about that. But if I did, it would be fine.)

I did make a bunch of adjustments before I even started sewing. Although the patterns are drafted for a D cup, there was still a two size difference between my upper and lower bust. My favourite bra is a DDD, but otherwise I wear an E. But I also have a low-ish bust, and sloping shoulders, which make my upper bust and shoulders proportionately small. I struggled with this with the Lady Skater dress and tops I made, and although I wear them all the time I also am really bothered by the way they sit. It’s an area where I really notice the fit – partly cos it’s close to my face and I see it but also because it makes the shoulder seam sit below my shoulders, and then the sleeves drag down and the neck drags out and I’m always adjusting it and feeling kind of sloppy and ill dressed.

The three-piece construction of the front bodice made this pretty easy to adjust for, actually. I cut a 16 at the top of the middle front yoke, tapering down to a 20 at the underarm, and the same with the corresponding back piece. I cut the skirt and the main front as a 20, and everything else as a 16. Oh except I cut the arms as a size 20 sleeve and a size 16 sleeve cap. As I was making it I was worried it would be too short in the torso, but I did want to make it up mostly from the packet to see how the pattern behaved, because sometimes it’s hard to tell from the flat pattern. Especially in a knit. In the end it worked out really well but I would consider dropping the waist a half inch or so if I made this in something more stable like a ponte – I do have a long waist but the fabric stretched enough that it sits about perfect.

Standing with my arms down reveals a bunch of fit issues. Unfortunately I don’t spend the majority of my time with hands on hips…

 

The results were… good. Ish. It was not as… something, as I was thinking it would be. I think a lot of that has to do with the fabric, which is pretty thin and has good recovery in general but because it’s so thin it does sag since the skirt is pretty heavy. I think a more stable fabric would be better for this pattern – for most knit dresses in general, to be honest. Instead of looking like a vintage pinup girl I just look comfy. Which is fine! I like to be comfy and this is a pretty fancy version of comfy, but I would also like to look a bit neater, too, sometimes. So I think I will hunt down some more stable fabric and make this again.

The fabric is some jersey from spottters that I bought ages ago to make bikeshorts out. I have been doing that too, but there was enough left for this dress, and probably another pair of shorts from the scraps. I have no idea what the fabric content is but from memory it has some spandex in it but is mostly cotton. It’s the same material that I used for my lady skaters. Good to be using stash!

Actually standing hand-on-hips reveals fit issues, too. Just on the back. You can see the gaping neck here.

 

Apart from, or maybe also exacerbated by, the fabric, I still had problems with the upper bust/shoulder area. I could tell right away this was going to be a problem, as it was bunching there, but I wanted to see how that would change with wear and as the fabric settled and stretched.

Closeup of dragging shoulder, gaping neckline. You can juuust see my brastrap here. Not a great look.

 

I wore this out for a few hours after I first made it, and it just kept dragging down off of my shoulders. It was really disappointing. I was thinking up all kinds of fixes and future pattern adjustments, but then I realised that the back was really really baggy.

Holy gaping back neck, batman! At least my glasses are real cool.

 

When I pinched out that excess, the shoulders sat beautifully. I got S to pin it for me, traced it in chalk, sewed it up and cut off the excess. Problem solvered!

Good place to show you my unfinished seams – I sewed the whole thing on my machine with lightning stitch, and twin needled the hems and the neckline topstitching. And you can also see the elastic stabilising the ruching. I would apologise for the cat hair permanently covering everything, but you know what? It’s not MY fault..

What???

 

The excess was mostly, conveniently, in the top portion of the back bodice. I cut about 2.5 inches total out of the top, tapering to nothing at the bottom. I kept the cutout bit so I can make the change on the pattern piece (should get on that). I also took regular seam allowance out of the rest of the back, so I probably brought it back down to an 18. And I tapered the sleeves in a bit from the elbow down, too.

I promise it does not sit as wonky as that, I was trying to capture a twirl here and the light was getting weird so most of the pictures of my fixed version came out funny. So. This will have to do. It does wrinkle a bit, as you can see here. Hazard of adding an impromtu seam where there shouldn’t be one.

Next time I would consider still taking a little wedge out of the upper bit of the lower front bodice. You can see it pooching a little here – I also didn’t manage to take any good arms-down photos of the fixed dress. Good work, me. Anyway, doing that would basically be making it a proper FBA shape. Conveniently the seam hits me right where I need that change. And I should work out what I need to do for a swayback adjustment, to get rid of the back bunching.

Also I would either staystitch the skirt pieces or else just not cut them out until I was about to sew them – I forgot to cut two pieces because it was getting late by that point, and the one I cut with the rest of the pattern had stretched out a bit by the time I sewed them up.

I also need to re-hem the sleeves because I had to unpick and re-do them after I fixed the shoulders, as they were way too short once the shoulders weren’t dropping low, but my twin needle broke. So they are not as neat as I like.

Yup! I’m pleased! Also in case anyone is wondering, my shoes are from Wittners and they are SO COMFY

 

All up, though, I am very happy. I will wear this dress a lot, even with the limitations of the fabric. It is comfy and I think looks nice. The ruching and v neck and the other little touches of the pattern save it from being just a plain old knit dress. The pattern was an utter delight to sew and makes me really keen to delve into more of Abby’s patterns!

Ta da!

 

We recently moved house. It’s great! I will hopefully blog some actual house stuff at some point, since I will be doing curtains and the like. For now, let me just say, it’s bigger, cleaner, lighter, and near the beach. This beach:

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So that’s pretty amazing (I still can’t quite believe it). Also, I have a craft room again! The king bed fit perfectly in what was the last owner’s nursery. So all that’s in there is the bed, side tables, and the built in wardrobe. A couple of people have expressed surprise that the biggest room isn’t the bedroom, but that seems like a real waste of space to me, since for sleep hygiene purposes I don’t like to hang out in the bedroom.

Instead, I scored the big room. Mwhahahaha! I do have my/the spare bed in there.We always like to have a spare bed since both of us snore, usually mildly but if we have a cold or it’s very pollen-y it gets worse. So it’s nice to have somewhere else to go when that’s an issue. Plus we have pretty different body clocks, so it’s nice to be able to pass out without someone keeping you up if they aren’t ready for bed yet. At the moment my sister is home – she’s come back from Ireland to study in Melbourne, and she’s spending a couple of weeks here first. So she’s got the use of the room and the bed. Very nice to be able to host people easily!

Before we moved, most of my stash was in the shed for six months or more. I did have crafting space but I gave most of it up for general living space, since the last house was so cramped. It was much better for everyone but it meant organising to craft was a big palaver. I know having designated crafting space at all is a pretty big luxury, but it was hard to adjust to not having any after having a whole house to myself.

In the summer holidays, our task was to unpack all the shed boxes from the last house. We’d unpacked the everyday stuff but stuff from the last shed just went into this shed. I knew if we didn’t get to it soon it would just be there for the next five years. It included the majority of my stash, and I wanted it. So I got to the task of finding it a home.

You guys… I have a lot of stash.

I am ok with having a lot of stash. I use it. I like it. But it’s a bit unbalanced and poorly planned and used. I have a lot of random crafting supplies that I’ve been hanging onto for years. I have nice materials that I am afraid I’ll ruin. I have a WHOLE BOX of plain black fabric. I keep buying it because I think ‘oh! I need some more plain black work skirts!’ and then I don’t sew them, and then the next time I see appropriate fabric and it’s nice or on sale I think ‘I DO need some work skirts. This is a sensible purchase!’.

I have no problem with having stash, but I want to use it. I want it to be useful. I want it to be small enough that I know where everything is, and it would be nice if it were small enough to fit into my room! Or at least mostly. At the moment I have:DSCF7595

Drawers of my sewing table have mostly bits and pieces in them, since this is the most sensible way to store this stuff. There is a drawer for things I use while sewing, like pins and scissors. A drawer for projects I am working on and have put aside for now. A drawer for interfacing, one for knitting needles, one for computer stuff, stationery, you get the idea. I have more of these drawer units but I’ve put them in the shed because I want the legroom more.

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This will eventually be my cutting table. I mean it IS my cutting table, perfectly functional as is but it’s not finished – I need to paint the wood and attach it and put castors on it so I can wheel it away from the wall and get all around it for cutting out. (also, say hello to my purple terlet). Those bins hold a whole lot, which is nice! This is where my fabric is, and it basically all fits, with a few exceptions. I also have my patterns in a big IKEA box in one of the cubes. They all fit, but just. Books obviously are on the shelves above the desk. I need to re-sort the bins so they are logically organised, and maybe label them.

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Half the linen closet. Ok, it’s a big space and we don’t have that much linen but really I would prefer to not have filled this up as much. It’s not an ideal use of the space, and if I AM using it, the stuff in here isn’t very well arranged. There’s a lot of misc. crafting stuff here – beading stuff, tatting, candle making stuff that I ordered and never used, quilting, vintage sheets that I want to use for crafting that don’t fit in the other room. Notebooks that I’ve never used but they’re cute and I don’t want to throw them. I just realised I bought most of them in China, which means they are 10 years old. What is wrong with me? That was rhetorical, thanks.

This is the bit I am the most unhappy with. It’s just not what I want to be using this space for, and it’s not organised in a way that I can access the stuff anyway. It’s basically just shoved into a cupboard to be forgotten about. (Soap making stuff is in the laundry cupboard and can stay there, it fits nicely and it gets used).

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One third of the wardrobe in S’s study. S has the third bedroom as his study, although the plan is that when G moves out in a year (or so) S will move into the external bedroom – it was the garage and the last owners refinished it to be a room, and added a carport instead. When that happens the study will probably just be a spare bedroom, but the details are still in flux. In the meantime it’s S’s study/private hangout room, but he kindly volunteered the wardrobe for misc. storage. Most of it has things like board games and winter coats, but this side holds my yarn, in four fabric bins. I have been pretty brutal in culling the yarn, to be honest. I don’t want to have stash yarn I am not excited to knit with, since knitting takes so long. I do not knit at the speed I used to!

So, that is what is there. It is too much, not proportionate to how I use it, and poorly organised. But that’s ok! I have a plan!

I almost didn’t blog this because I want this to be pretty loose, and not to set myself up for (inevitable) failure. But I think I need to put it out there and make it solid. You’all won’t judge me if I proceed to not do any of this… right?

I am going to do a fairly casual quarter based stashdown. I need a bit of a push, I think, to get back to crafting as a default activity. I just totally got out of the habit when I didn’t have designated crafting space. I am trying to not look at screens after I get home, which is actually going ok now, after a rocky start. Not a strict rule, more a guideline to get me to stop frittering away my time – I’m on the computer in the evening now, for instance, but I’m DOING a THING, not just checking Instagram every five minutes. But I often find myself at a loss without a screen, and I want to use that time to craft instead of looking at my craft room and thinking ‘nahhh, no time’ and then staring at the wall for an hour. (Ok not exactly but you know. Not doing anything that couldn’t be put off or done quicker).

I was going to start this from January but obvs that’s almost over, and my sister will be in my craft room until start of Feb. So I’m starting it for myself Feb 1st, which also means the last quarter will get some of my regular summer break in it. It also means the first three quarters all get a craft camp in them – whether I go or not, there’s an extra push there to prioritise crafting. Here are my aims:

Q1 (Feb-April) – Basics

Gonna get through that tub of black fabrics. Gonna sew some things I know will work and get worn, and some new things that fill specific needs. Gonna pump up my wardrobe which needs some gaps filled (I was going really well and then dropped the ball).

Q2 (May-July) – Non core crafts

My main crafts are sewing and knitting. I also have, as you have seen, random craft tools. Some of those are useful and worth keeping. Some are crafts I regularly dabble in. Some are… not ever going to be my thing, not unless I retire and have far far more time I need to kill. So I would prefer to use the space they are taking up. This quarter will be about getting some of those crafts out, having a go  If I reach the end of the quarter with a particular craft untouched, that means I am not into it and the supplies have to go.

My main focus in this bit will be quilting, though. I’ve got most of a quilt cut out that I started in my honours year. It’s flannel (mmm snuggly!) in autumn colours (uuugh) because that’s what I could find at the time. I don’t love it. But I am pretty sure S will! I need to take it out and assess if I want to finish making it. If not, out it goes. If yes, I would like to at least get a good way through piecing the top. I also have some random jelly rolls etc that I’ve been given over the years, it would be nice to make a mini quilt for the living room, and maybe one for the spare bed. Not that I think all those things will happen in this quarter, but aim high, right?

Q3 (August-October) – Knitting

Wintertime! Crack that yarn out! As I said I was pretty brutal with the yarn but there are some jumper’s worths of yarn that could be knit up or gotten rid of. I would actually like to accumulate some MORE stash yarn, more yarn I am excited about, but I want to clear the space for it first. I’d like to keep my yarn stash essentially the same size, but with more good stuff in. I don’t anticipate knitting several jumpers, but winter is a good time to concentrate on the pointy sticks and get some movement happening there.

Q4 (November – January) – No pressure!

Back to sewing. I have things in my stash I am scared to sew because they are too nice. Or clothes I want to wear that I am putting off sewing because they are fiddlier and harder, like fitted shirts and shirtdresses and a dress out of that butterfly fabric I bought two years ago, and a By Hand London Anna dress with proper bust darts and maybe that Sewaholic maxi skirt with the pieced hem, or a Colette pattern or two. This is the time for them! Possibly setting myself up for failure at the tired end of the year, but it’s got to be some time.

 

My aim in this is to focus on those themes in those quarters, but not exclusively. I particularly want to be knitting and sewing basics throughout the year. The stashdown doesn’t only mean using things up. It also means assessing the stash and passing it on where it doesn’t suit my needs anymore, or is unlikely to get used in the next five years. It also means no acquiring new stuff until I at least START to make some headway. Unless it is perfect and/or on sale. No, wait! Not even then. If I’m not sewing all of these things I have the supplies for and am really excited about, then I’m not going to sew whatever it is I want the new fabric for. I’m not making strict rules for myself about when I am allowed to buy stuff again, just going to try to be a bit sensible about it.

Ideally, I would LOVE to be able to fit my yarn stash into my craft room, and the linen press stuff into where the yarn is now. Even getting close to that would be great.

Anyone else out there have too much stash? Don’t lie. Anyone else have exactly the right amount of stash, but needs to use it? Want to play along, with mine or your own goals?

 

 

Sometimes I find looking for gluten free recipes to be frustrating. A lot of the ones explicitly labelled as gf come with a lot of diet/weight loss/’clean food’ baggage, which I find hard to take. And then I’ll read ‘regular’ recipes with an eye to adaption only to stumble across gluten where there’s no need for it – in soba noodles and tortillas, for instance. Or THEN there’s the recipes where you would think conversion would be simple, but every recipe has five billion flours and heapings of xanthan gum instead of the flour. Nothing against xanthan gum, I just don’t want to use it where it’s not necessary.

All this to say: gnocchi. It’s mostly potato, right? So, I thought, surely a gf recipe wouldn’t be too hard to find! Especially since any time I’ve tried to make gnocchi with gluten flour, they’ve come out tough and gluggy, surely a sign of overworked gluten. So a gf recipe would probably be EASIER! I spent an afternoon wading through recipe after recipe with the above millions of flours and additives. Sorghum gnocchi, anyone? No thanks.

I did eventually find one, from Italy on My Mind. The recipe is here and I won’t reproduce it, but I’ll tell you what I did differently.

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The first time I made it I was pushed for time, so instead of boiling the potatoes I did them in the microwave. This worked so well that I’ve done it every time since. They take about ten minutes, although my microwave has an autocook function that does them to perfection. Actually, they take about twenty minutes, because I doubled the recipe. One batch is about right for three adults, or two adults and leftovers. Since we’ve got two adults + one teenager + I want leftovers for lunch the next day, a double batch is about right. Plus, it’s not much more work so why not!

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The pink bits are potato skin. Yum!

So, a double batch, and I nuked ’em, and since I was pressed for time I also spread them on the tray and then popped it in the freezer. Last time I did one (double) batch of potatoes, put them in the freezer, then decided I would double the batch after all. The twenty minutes the second batch took to cook was about perfect for the first batch to cool down – they actually work up easier if they are still a teeny bit warm.

The first batch I also didn’t read the instructions all the way through. Instead of making a loaf, I rolled them individually by hand. This meant they were flexible enough to make fork dents on, and they look more like ‘proper’ gnocchi, but they were a bit chewy for my taste. The boys loved them, though, and prefer them this way. Too bad, I’m the one cooking them cooking them. So the next time I compromised. I still didn’t do a loaf, instead I rolled squarish snakes and chopped them.

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This was much better, I could get a real rhythm going so it was quicker, and the gnocchi came out fluffier and lighter.

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The first time we had them with the sauce from the original recipe (first picture in this post). I forgot to take a photo until my bowl was almost finished. The second time we had them with a sauce of cream, white wine and mushrooms (above). And we just had them again tonight with pesto and cream, and a salad on the side (below, looking… look I am not a food blogger ok. Use your imagination).

 

 

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I am DEFINITELY not a food photographer. But it was delicious.

Tonight’s batch was made and frozen last time. I wanted to test the freezing process. It worked really well! I just put them in the freezer on a tray when they were made, and the next day I popped them in ziplock bags. Then to cook, I just did them as normal. They take a bit longer but not really even noticeably, and they are a little bit wetter and goopier but not by much. Enough to make the photo less appetising, though. Sorry.

I am very pleased to be able to make up some of a weekend and stock up my freezer – or my best friend’s freezer – with good, simple, delicious food. And the teenager asked if we could have it again, and has requested it twice since. I’d call that a win.

Do you ever do that thing where you think about an item of clothing you’ve never considered owning, and suddenly you HAVE TO HAVE IT? The other day I was on my way to work, and people watching, and I saw a few women in a row wearing variations on ‘wafty, loose white top’. And all of a sudden I knew, I had to have one. I had a clear picture in my mind – not too loose, but not fitted. Must be white. Must be flowy and drapey but not so big as to be sack like. Must have a high-ish neckline, but not so high it makes my proportions look weird. Must have set in sleeves, not raglan or cut on, and sleeves must be at least halfway down my upper arm. I don’t know why this was the top I needed, but it was.

I spent some time that day looking at patterns on the internet. Most of the commercial patterns were, unsurprisingly, terrible. If you only take the ones that come in my size, they were TERRIBLE. Not a set in sleeve among them. Barely a raglan. So so many kimono and cut on sleeves. Which are fine, but they look odd on me and really do we need FIVE plus size patterns in one pattern line that are variations on ‘sack, with cut on sleeves’? It’s bad enough that those are my options when buying RTW clothes. I debated buying the Scout woven tee, but it doesn’t come nearly big enough, and I resent paying a premium for something I then have to grade up. So I decided to look in my existing pattern stash, thinking that Ottobre might be a good bet for something like that – basic, but with SOME understanding that fashion at least exists somewhere in the world.

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Ottobre came through, with not only my dream haircut but the exact shirt I had in mind. It’s called ‘Painted roses’ in the pattern list, and it’s in the 2/2014 edition, with the trenchcoat on the front. Quite a few nice basics in this one.

You’ll have to excuse my dead face in all of these. It was early and I hadn’t had breakfast. Also that’s pretty much what my face looks like…

I made a quick muslin, and decided the arms were too baggy and it made it look frumpy, so I took some width out of them, which turned out to be a mistake. They were far too tight when I tried them on. I let the seams out as far as they could go  and it’s wearable but I should have just let them be, as you can see there’s still some pulling. The only other adjustments I made were to raise the armscye a tiny bit and taper the shoulders in a tiny bit at the sleeve, and also at the neck so the neck opening is about 1cm smaller. I made a size 50, and for reference my bust is 116cm.

I don’t know why these photos are so grainy, but they’ll have to do.

Then I made another one! And….

Another!

They are all rayon, the white and roses from Lincraft, the teal from spotters. All of them were on sale, so none of these shirts cost more than about $14, which is pretty great in my books. I did buy 2m, the pattern says you need 1.5 but I only had about 30cm left. So I’d say budget for 1.75 and you should be right. They feel nice too, we’ll see how they wear. I should note that the white one was worn for one day, and when I took it off I hung it on the back of the bathroom door to air/get passively steamed. The next day it was as wrinkle-free as rayon will ever be. They do crease but not so that it looks messy. The other two are straight from the wash, just hung up quickly to reduce wrinkles. No iron involved.

The rose is not really my usual kind of thing but I saw it when I bought the white and couldn’t get it out of my head so I went back for it.

I set the sleeves in flat, and french seamed everything. The neckline is finished with a teeny bias facing, which I topstitched in two rows because it was flapping around – the instructions have you just understitch it but it wasn’t cutting it for me. I was worried I wouldn’t like how it looked but I think it looks pretty neat in the end.

The sleeves and bottom are finished by just folding under twice and sewing. This was a bit fiddly because the rayon is slippery and getting it straight was a bit annoying, especially for the bottom hem. I think it ended up a bit wonky in the teal one (or maybe just being pulled up by my boobs? Both?) but I intend to mostly wear them tucked in so… whatever.

The second two took exactly 1.5 hours, including cutting. I timed it. Really happy with this pattern, I’m definitely keeping it on my ‘basics’ list. I can see this made up in cotton or linen – I think it probably needs some drape but could be pretty versatile. My only regrets are the sleeves on the white one (the other two are sleeves as-is, from the pattern) and that I didn’t self-line it. I debated, because I thought the white would be a bit see through, and I talked myself out of it. But it IS see through, you can’t tell in the photo but it’s just enough that you can see my bra. Not too scandalous but too see through for work so I wear it with a cami, which is annoying. I’m thinking of making a cami from the leftover white rayon, which might be less annoying than the too-long, clingy jersey one I have now, but I wish I’d gone with my original plan to make a self-lining joined only at the shoulders, and stopping a few inches shorter.

Here’s a bonus one with the swoon cardi, and my princess line pencil skirt which I ended up doing some adjustments on (the waist ended up being too big. More on that later if I can be organised enough) and now is in high rotation in the wardrobe.

Most of my work wardrobe now is me-made. It feels really good. Both because my skill level is at a stage where I really CAN just whip things up, provided they’re simple, or I CAN plan and sew a more complex thing over a few weeks without quitting in a rage because I got stuck on a hard bit. And also because it means I am wearing clothes that fit me, fit how I want to look, and feel nice to wear. Such a luxury!

I had a cardigan-shaped gap in my work wardrobe. While noodling around on various sewing blogs, I came across the Swoon Scarf Neck Cardigan. I wish I could remember where I saw it, but that’s lost in the mists of time, but I liked it, it was free, I printed it off and taped it up.  had some heavy merino knit fabric that I bought at the Alanna Hill outlet at least six years ago, that I’d been mulling over. I had initially bought it to make a jumper dress, but put it off because it’s SO nice I didn’t want to muck it up, and then eventually decided it was probably too heavy to hold up to a whole dress. But I thought it would make a perfect cardi.

First I made the pattern up in some random jersey I had lying around. It’s from spotters, I bought it in an end-of-line sale some time ago, for I have no idea how much.

The pattern construction is a bit confusing – you sew the front pieces together and then connect them at the cowl part, which sits over the back of the neck, and then sew THAT to the back. But the instructions were really clear, and included a diagram and notes on the pattern pieces, which helped.

The only thing I did differently was to sew the sleeves in flat and then sew them and the sideseam together, instead of sewing the sideseam and then setting them in. I sewed the whole thing up on my overlocker, and hemmed the bottom and the sleeves with a twin needle. I left the collar edge unfinished, since I didn’t want to mess with the drape. The pattern suggests french seaming if you don’t have an overlocker, as some of the seams might be visible. I’d never thought of french seaming a knit! It would be neater but to be honest, I think a regular seam would be fine. The seams are hardly ever on show.

This is a thicker knit than would be ideal, I think. It would be lovely in a really drapey thin jersey, but this was deep stash and now it’s being worn quite a bit, so that’s a definite win! The only thing is I think the colour is a bit washed out and powdery, if that makes sense? I bought a RIT packet dye to dye it a darker navy, and it did exactly nothing. Should have gone with the dylon dye which I know works, even though it was twice the price.

The sleeves are REALLY long on this pattern, btw. Which is good – it meant I could try it on and fold them down to how I wanted them before hemming. But if you’re trying to save fabric, I ended up taking a good 10cm off them, so you could measure your arms first. It did cause a problem, though, because when I was trimming the already-hemmed sleeves, I took a chunk out of them in what I was hoping would be an inconspicuous place but turned out to be right at the top of the sleeve, near my wrist. I zigzagged over it but it doesn’t look great, gotta say.

The thread colour is how dark I wish the fabric was.

I have worn this to work three or so times, because the cardi gap in my wardrobe is large, but I feel a bit frumpy in it because of the less-than-crisp fabric. I like it better as a casual weekend top. Luckily, I FINALLY got around to hemming the black merino one, which I did make.

Not much to say, once again just made the pattern up as is. I overlocked this one too, it would have been nice in a nicer finish but the fabric is so heavy and drapey and puckered under a straight stitch, and I thought it might need the extra strength of the serging.

Can’t even really show it to you, it’s so dark! But it’s so lovely and buttery and soft. This fabric is really special. I have a bit left over but not enough to really do anything with, more’s the pity. I can see this one getting a lot of wear, though. It feels so luxurious.

And here’s another one where you can’t really see anything, and it’s fuzzy to boot, but my witchy stance is making me laugh:

Do they even make gluten free gingerbread cottages?

As for the vests, in my craft camp catchup post I was prevaricating about my white shirt being sheer. Sooz mentioned the idea of vests, and VERY kindly traced and sent me an Ottobre cowl neck knit vest pattern from issue 2/2010. I’m pretty fussy about cowl necks, I find they often are too voluminous or else sit too high, but this one looked pretty good. I wanted to make this in the same merino (I cut out the vest and the cardi at the same time, to be sure I had enough for both). But first, I made a muslin, with some remnant fabric from the fabric store.

I’m attempting to circumvent the ‘I’m too embarrassed to take photos outside on weekend when everyone else is home’ issue by taking them inside. The quality isn’t great, but it’s better than no photos I guess.

I should have taken a photo before I made adjustments. I did a few – nipped in the side seams from the waist up by about 3cm, took the shoulders up at an angle, brought the armscye in although I should have done it a bit more I think. Then I just turned it under and hemmed it with a twin needle. I left the neck unfinished, although I might hem the back because as you can see it sticks up quite a lot. But I think this will only get worn as a summer at-home top, so I might not bother.

I thought it worked well enough to make up in my merino knit, but I wish I’d tweaked a bit more.

It’s hard to see, with the black, but I’ve actually basically hemmed the cowl out of the top. Again, I wish I’d thought to take photos! But it ended up just looking like a regular shirt with a stretched-out neck. It still does! I might put a pleat in it maybe. I don’t know. In the heavier knit the cowl was just not pronounced enough, or maybe it’s because I fiddled with the shoulder seams. You can see the front sticking out more in this super unflattering photo:

As well as the back bulging. The back is sort of cowled too, which I find a bit weird actually. And I should have made the armscye higher, wider at the bottom and thinner at the top. Oh well, bygones. I also should have shortened only the BACK shoulders, it ends up pulling forward and the shoulder seam sits in front of my shoulders, which can’t help the cowl. Really, looking at these photos, what I should have done is just drawn the armscye higher, and left the shoulders alone.

This photo is unintentionally Fashion Pose. I’m quite enjoying it.

This has actually been sulking in the WIP pile because when I first sewed it I was so disappointed by how different it was from my expectations of the pattern and for the beautiful fabric. I only just hemmed it today. I am hoping it will get wear because the fabric is so lovely. I think probably not with this shirt – it doesn’t sit well enough to avoid tugging at my clothes all day, which I do NOT want to be doing. Maybe over a jersey top though? The more I think about it the more I think I will put a tuck into the neck. Maybe an asymmetrical one. Bit bummed out about this to be honest, but then my expectations were probably much too high. I’m going to try and wear it and maybe I’ll discover that it’s fantastic, after all.

Guess it’s time for my yearly blog post where I go ‘so I’ve been to two craft camps and made some stuff and I never blogged it’.

I really wish I’d managed to blog these sooner, because when I blog right after craft camp I can remember the flavour of it, when I made what, who had input, bad jokes we made, all of that. Now I can barely remember whether I made something in March or June.

March

March craft camp I started off with some quick and easy knits. I’d just bought the Lady Skater pattern after seeing it all over the internet and noting that it looked good on just about every single person I saw wearing it. I cut the largest size and muslined it (I can’t remember what fabric I used for that though) and ended up adding 3cm to each side, tapering out from the armpits. I like knit tops to be tight but I find it uncomfortable when they cling to my stomach, so that’s where I wanted extra room. From my notes it looks like I made the dress first.

No idea where I bought the black fabric. Spotters I guess? I’d forgotten to bring clear elastic so I used regular old elastic on the waistline. I’m glad I did, it does need the support, but it makes it a little bit less comfortable to wear. I noted at the time that I thought the waistline was too low, but I didn’t go back and take length out because the skirt is hitting me exactly where I like it to. If I made this again, which I would like to because it’s a very nice dress to wear and a really well drafted pattern, I will take a centimetre or so off the body and add two to the skirt length.

As you can see, though, the neckline is too wide. This was the case with all of these but I didn’t figure out how to fix it until the next camp. In fact, I didn’t figure it out at all – Sue suggested that I cut a size or two smaller on the shoulders. It’s wearable as is but I do find myself tugging on it a lot. I cut long sleeves, but when I cut the muslin the sleeves were too long to add the cuffs to, as the pattern required. So I cut them shorter, and then they were somehow shorter this time? So if I’d put the cuffs on they would have just come to my wrist bone. So I just hemmed them, and the bottom hem, with a double needle.

Next up I made a lady skater top in the same fabric.

I adjusted the shoulders by sewing the seam at an angle, so it starts at the same place on the arm side, and then tapers in almost 2cm at the neck side. Surely there is a neater way to say that? Also I added 1cm more to the sides, for a total of 4cm. I left the sleeves at the ‘long’ length and as you see they are over my wrists.

Same problem with the neck, and the top has stretched out, so that it’s a bit daggy to wear now. I have worn it pretty constantly since I made it, to be fair. I still wear it, but mostly under things. Here it is a couple of months ago, the photo is blown out but at least that means you can see it.

Heaps of bagginess at the shoulders. Ugh that’s annoying. At least this one doesn’t bother me when I wear it, only when I look at it. I also made a short sleeved version which got lots of wear until I tucked it in the back of a drawer and forgot about it until I was taking photos of this post. And then I didn’t even take one, because it’s just a black tshirt. Here’s one from camp. Look how smug I am about it!

Again with the poufiness at the shoulder, but since there isn’t as much weight from the arms, and the jersey is pretty light, it doesn’t feel as annoying.

Then I girded my loins and made a shirt for S.

It’s Kwik Sew 3883. I’d made a muslin before camp, and noted some adjustments needed. I don’t recall exactly what, since I can’t find the notes I made. I did adjust the pattern pieces so I know they’re fine. I know I brought the shoulders in a bit, so the back width is smaller. I think maybe it needed shortening as well? The fabric is just cheapo homespun or broadcloth or something from spotters. He wanted a coverup type shirt for when we go to the beach, because he burns easily. So it wasn’t too intimidating because if I mucked it up or it was a bit dodgy that wouldn’t matter too much.

But I think it came out great! (Those collar points could be sharper, now I look at them.) I took my time over it because I wanted to use it to learn how to make shirts properly, so I could make some for me. I was really impressed with this pattern. The instructions were really clear, and suitable I think for a semi-beginner like myself, or even someone slightly less familiar with general garment construction.

I borrowed someone’s machine to do the buttons – Sue’s, I think? Those automatic buttonholers, man. I covet them. My dinky Brother machine at home does pretty well but it only has a manual buttonholer with one of those flimsy plastic efforts, and it is just impossible to do two the same.

The shirt hasn’t been worn more than once because by March it was getting cold, but it got the tick of approval.

I also muslined the By Hand London Anna dress, but there was too much adjustment needed so I abandoned it for the time being. And I finished my Essential Cardigan but I might give that its own post.

June

For June craft camp I decided to stick with a winning tactic and sew some quick and easy knits first. This time I started with the Penny Pinafore.

I’d cut out a pinny in blue knit fabric at the end of March craft camp, intending to sew it up at home. Obviously that didn’t happen! So I sewed that first at the June craft camp.

Backfat ugh! Oh well. I have fat on my back, whadya gonna do? Also there is pooling fabric on my swayback but I don’t really care, not even enough to scoop that out if I make another one.

I really really love this pattern. Princess seams 4 lyf. I sewed this up with no adjustments, largest size, and it fits like a dream. EXCEPT the dang shoulder issue. You can’t really see it here but it’s super puffy. This one makes it a bit clearer:

Look at all that excess fabric! After I’d sewn this, Sue M suggested the grading down two sizes at the shoulder, and I cut out another one to try it.

My face is a bit weird in some of these photos because I was watching my cat get shouted at by the local magpies and it was very entertaining.

MUCH better. Still bra showing, though. I might need to cut in a centimetre or two on the neck side. Almost everyone else I’ve seen make this, their necklines seem much thinner and firmer, even on lighter fabric. I sewed this one really tight because I’d had issues with gaping with the black skaters, but I think it might just be the shape of my shoulders.

I really love these dresses and I wear them all the time. But I wish I’d known about the shoulder thing for the blue dress, because the sleeves bug me. I can see them out of the corner of my eye, and feel them poofing up. I thought they might settle a bit with washing but they have not. It makes me sad because I really love the colour of the blue. I am not really sure about the red one, it’s a bit more orange than I’d normally wear. And somehow it feels a bit pyjama-y. I feel like that would be less of an issue with a darker colour but I’m not sure why I think that. I’ve considered overdying it but I haven’t been bothered yet. I do wear both dresses all the time, though. Both fabrics are a discontinued spotlight knit called ‘seaspray’ or something like that. I bought a whole bunch on clearance, and I wish they still had it because it’s nice and thick, with enough cotton that it’s not too hot for summer, and the recovery is great.

I also made a tunic length penny.

The only decent pics I could get are super blown out. Otherwise it just looks… black.

This must have been before the red one, come to think of it, because it has the same sleeve issue. That’s exacerbated by the fabric, which is a merino knit from the Fabric Store. It’s lovely but it doesn’t have much recovery, and constantly slips off my shoulders. I am debating sewing some elastic behind the neckline all the way around, to pull it in, because it doesn’t get much wear which is a shame.

Another reason it doesn’t get much wear is that it’s still A-line shape. I just cut to the ‘tunic length’ line on the pattern. I wish I’d straightened out the princess seams and made it straight because I just don’t really know what to wear it with. I have exactly one pair of jeans, which don’t get much wear, and I am ok with leggings as pants in theory but I just feel uncomfortable with it for me except for photo purposes, apparently. It’s a feeling physically exposed thing, I think, not an aesthetic one. Anyway, mostly I wear this under things, tucked in. Like this:

It was bright. Also, egg-on-sticks effect going on here again.

Here I am wearing my long sleeved skater, and this over the top, tucked in to a skirt, and then I had a jumper over it.

I would like to make up a pattern of this that’s straight from the waist down, because I would like to use the pattern to make some simple knit tops and also perhaps a jumper, like Heather did.

I then made a pair of Juniper pants that were a complete disaster. My last pair are great but the crotch curve is clearly not long enough. I did take in the legs and wear them much more now, although they are still linen so obviously not very warm! But they still creep up my bum a bit so I wanted to try to fix that. I adjusted the pattern and lengthened the crotch curve and scooped it out a bit, like this, and like Patti did here. I sewed them up, with the fly and everything, and tried them on and… they were too small. I clearly needed more room at the front where I couldn’t let them out any more because that’s where the fly was. I looked for them to take a photo of, and also to diagnose what went wrong, but I can’t find them. Maybe they’ve slunk off in shame.

I’m considering trying them again but moving the fly to the side, which might make it easier to adjust especially since I clearly have issues with my crotch depth because of my full belly. Or maybe I’ll pull out Simplicity 3688 and see how they go, since they already have that feature. I’m not going to do either of those things short term, though.

Back to what I made that was a success. When I got S’s shirt home after March camp, I tried it on and found that it was a PERFECT fit, except obviously being too big in the torso. So I decided to make myself one and whack a bust dart in it.

I clearly did not iron this for photos. Also god I look like my mother when I stand like that. Note to self. Never stand like that again. Or maybe it’s the oversized shirt + leggings = mothers in the 80s?

The fabric is this GORGEOUS brushed cotton from DK fabric. I had seen it there ages ago and I didn’t buy it because it wasn’t what I was there for. But I thought about it all the time and when I went back not only was it there, but it was on special for $8 a metre. So I bought something like five metres. I should have enough left for a dress, maybe it wants to be a binge dress? Or maybe a shirtdress? It’s like wearing a hug.

Anyhoo, I made this up exactly as I made up S’s, tried it on, and improvised bust darts. I did make the arms and torse, and nipped in the side seams some arbitrary amount, but didn’t shape them at all. I wanted this to be snuggly and big. I LOVE IT. Although in fact I haven’t worn it at all this winter because I took forever to find buttons I liked, then when I finally sewed them on I put it on over my head and broke the shank off of the second-to-top one. It’s almost like you’re meant to unbutton things when you put them on? Like that’s what buttons are for or something??

Anyway I have new buttons now – plural because I also bought some more for the cuffs, which are buttonless because Caroline kindly lent me her machine to do the buttonholes, but it couldn’t cope with the thickness there. I am debating whether to hand sew buttonholes, take it to a place that does alterations and get them to do it, or just sew press studs on and fake buttons on the top. I’ll probably hand sew them, it’s not like they take that long in the scheme of things. In the meantime it’s crumpled from being in the mending pile, but I did wear it for the rest of the day after taking these photos, over a thermal shirt and a tshirt and with the sleeves cuffed. I’m considering going back and putting a pocket on the front, too.

I also made a version of the shirt in this light voile, also from DKs. I bought enough to underline it with itself but then couldn’t be bothered. It actually isn’t as see through as I remembered – obviously it is still sheer, you can see my bra but I would be ok wearing it like this in summer, or with a cami under to work. It is VERY crumply and wrinkly though.

This one I nipped in at the waist a bit, and I think I shortened the arms a bit more than the flanney. You can see when I stretch they pull, but they pull at the arms not at the shoulders, look at me showing off how I can totally cross my arms in this without it pulling! Such a novelty for me. And they are the correct length when not reaching for the sky.There are still pull lines across the front, I could probably tweak the fit a bit more but you know what? I don’t care. It fits way better than a boughten one would, and it’s comfortable and looks fine. And I don’t want to overfit it and end up not being able to move.

After not having looked at this for ages and then putting it on for photos, I like this far more than I remembered. I think I was put off by the sheerness and wrinkliness making it less practical. But now I’m thinking about making another one of these in the heavier cotton I bought for work shirts, before I attempt the princess line shirt. Although both have the issue of needing to put in buttonholes. I’ve been debating chucking a pleat in the back next time, but I don’t know that it needs it. I need the most width in the upper back/yoke area, so if that’s big enough for my hunched shoulders then the rest will be broad enough for my back.

Both of these just have a turned and rolled hem. The pattern also only calls fro 0.6cm seam allowances. From memory on the sheer one I upped the allowances so I could french seam it, because it was so sheer, but I think that’s nice to do for a shirt anyway so you can roll up the sleeves or whatever without exposing overlocking. The only exposed seams are the sleeves, armholes, and sides, anyway, since everything else is encased in a cuff or the yoke. Also next time I would shift the buttons a bit so that there is one exactly on my bustline where it pulls the most. They’re big enough, just the physics of it means it will always pull and gape a bit there if the button isn’t right in the right place.

And now I am almost all caught up!

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