Carolyn pyjama shorts

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Here is another in my discouraging backlog of ‘fine but not quite right’ – a pj/lounging set made up of Carolyn pj shorts and a springfield hack. I’ll cover the springfield at the end, since I’ve made a similar hack  before. But first, the shorts!

As I keep yammering about, I’m trying to up my loungewear game. I thought a pair of nice pj pants might help matters, so I decided to give the Carolyn pjs from Closet Case Files a go.

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I made the largest size in these, which is what my measurements indicate. I’ve misplaced my notes on these so I’m guessing a little bit about the specific adjustments I made. Hopefully I cover everything. I muslined these up first because my experience with the ginger jeans led me to believe this crotch curve might not work for me. I was definitely correct in that suspicion.

I had way WAY too much fabric at the waist and, like the gingers, this was all focussed at the centre seams. When I pinched it out the side seams sat perfectly. I ended up taking almost the same adjustments as the gingers – 2″ total out of the front crotch and I think not quite 4″ out of the back. I was originally going to just elide the faux fly but in the end I chopped it off and reattached it to my adjusted pattern, so it is there. I didn’t bother unpicking the basting on these though.

I also found the back of the legs way waaaaaaaay too wide. Like just sticking way out and I knew that would also result in chub rub, from too much fabric at the inseam. I slashed and folded out some amount of width – I think maybe 1″? The fronts were fine. I couldn’t find any other larger ladies who have made the shorts – I suspect in full pants I would appreciate that extra room in the back, but in the shorts it was just ridiculous. I also lengthened them 1.5″ to get them below where my thighs touch, to reduce chub rub. I had to adjust the cuff as well – the bottom of the shorts is the same size as the cuff so I just measured and chopped.

I was a bit worried they’d be too tight across the bum – there’s just a slight bit of pulling there – but actually they’re ok. They are snug though, and I would consider doing a full butt adjustment next time – one like this or this, not like the colette blog one which adds to the inseam. I don’t need more width at the inseam I need it across the widest part of my butt, basically in the middle of the pattern piece. You can see the pulling more clearly in some of the photos below. It’s ok for this pair – I have movement room and I’m not worried about busting them or anything but I think it’s worth fixing in the next go round.

I was feeling a bit (unreasonably) cranky about the amount of changes I had to make to these, but in the end, I absolutely love them! They feel elegant and comfy at the same time, even though they’re just a simple pair of shorts. The only thing letting them down is that the elastic I chose is a bit firm and I should have made it a bit longer. They are fine, but they are firm enough that I will wake up in the middle of the night needing to go to the bathroom, because they are pressing on my bladder. Not ideal. I don’t think I’ll bother going back and making these looser (the elastic will get a bit less rigid over time anyway), but when I make this pattern again I’ll make sure I don’t go too nuts on that negative ease. I’m also not sure I’d make the pockets again – they’re a bit too tight to use – too much thigh! They add a nice touch though, I guess.

I am definitely keen to make a longer pair, and I want to make the matching top – I’d like to make it out of this same fabric but I need to see if I can get more. I’ll also be planning a warm pair when it gets colder again. I am also seriously seriously considering just making them up in a linen or something and wearing them as actual pants. Do you think I can justify them as fashion pyjamas? I’m on trend! I also think the shirt would make a nice casual camp-shirt style top if you made the collar pointy. Tell me, dear readers – am I losing my grip or is a shirt a shirt?

As for the top I made to go with this, I did the same Springfield/lakeside hack I’ve done before:

I couldn’t find the same pieces I used before, though, so I had to re-draft them. I don’t know if I did something different or if it’s just the vagaries of fabric differences, but there are… issues with this one. The back flaps definitely don’t overlap as much as my last one did, and it drags the yoke down. I think it needs to have a wedge taken out of that yoke – you can see the extra room in it – and the flaps need to overlap much further. I considered unpicking this to do that but honestly I don’t think I’ll bother. Although this is lovely to lounge in (and gets a big thumbs up from S), I do always feel a bit exposed in it. I think if I can find more of this fabric I might just replace the back overlaps with the regular Springfield back. That way I will also be able to sleep in  it without getting myself all tangled!

I actually thought through the finishing on this one and bound the bottom edge all in one. But unfortunately by the time I got to the neck and arms, I had run out of fabric for binding – I cut one of the backs wrong and had to recut so I was short. Instead of doing something sensible like using a different fabric for the binding, I cut what I had in half so it was 1″ instead of 2″ and did THE dodgiest binding job that has ever been in the whole world. It’s truly awful, flips out, is fuzzy… So essentially, this top is pretty much unwearable until I fix that. I mean, it’s fine. It won’t fall apart or anything. But I can’t look at it without wincing.  This is why I don’t like to sew on a deadline – I tend towards rushing enough anyway, I don’t need the help. I was trying to finish this to take with me to Bali and I shouldn’t have.

The back of the pants – you can see faint straining over my butt. I never thought I’d be posting my butt on the internet and telling people to look closer… what a time to be alive…

I did wear this a bit in Bali but I think the top is going to be put away until I can source more fabric to fix that back. I’m glad I tried this style but in the end, I just don’t think it’s for me. The original Springfield back will make it perfect pjs though. At least it goes with my robe?

100% unfaked yawning

Morgan dress

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Hello folks! I’m working away at some of that blog backlog, so I’m starting with the last thing I had intended to blog. To be honest, I think this one might be responsible for my general feelings of malaise re: blogging. Quite unfairly, I now think.

Here’s another version of the Dorothy Lara dress by Decades of Style.

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Construction-wise, there’s not much to say about this one. I made it almost exactly the same as my last version. It’s a size 44″ bust with a 3″ wedge taken out of the top neckline to reduce the blousing. I switched the zipper to the right hand side and left off the pockets. Simple. I did think about changing where the skirt gathers and making it across the whole dress or maybe even only at the sides. but because of how the dress is assembled, that would be a bit fiddly, or I’d had to have changed the construction order. So I left it as is. I did gather both the front and back bodice evenly across the middle, rather than at two points as directed by the pattern. I also left those un top-stitched. I did top-stitch the skirt and the neckline in black thread.

However. because of the fabrics, this one feels and acts really different to my last.

This one is in a rayon from Spotlight – it’s printed with little zebras:

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It was originally just a black and white print but I dyed it at the same time as I did the material for the sav-anna dress. I was always intending this to be a dress in this general silhouette but after sewing the green fabric up and realising that I just don’t really like wearing prints that much, I didn’t feel very motivated to sew it up. It’s also a little bit splotchy – I really should have gotten a bigger pot to dye in, so it’s slightly uneven. I avoided the worst bits when cutting but I ended up with a darker patch at the top of the skirt, and a lighter patch in the middle of the torso. I don’t think  it’s super noticeable – I see it because I’m looking – but I do worry they might look like weird shadows. If i decide it bothers me I can always overdye it another shade darker, to even it out.

He cried until I picked him up and then he wouldn’t let me put him down for the rest of the shoot.

After my first DL dress, I decided that I might like this print in this dress. I can’t figure out exactly my beef with prints but it’s specifically on my torso, and somehow the folds and gathers on the DL mitigated whatever it is that I’m not so keen on about prints. Honestly, I just can’t work out what my problem is with them, just that I feel not like myself if I wear prints near my face – the same way I do if I’m wearing autumn colours or super short skirts. Just not me.

Look at this ridiculous animal and his ridiculous feets.

I also knew I wanted to sew a rayon version of the DL dress to wear in Bali – last time I went I wore my Japanese flowers dress all the time and it was perfect – light and breezy, shoulders covered, easy to wear. I knew the DL would be even better and a rayon DL would just be perfect. So I cut this out and sewed it up and was very pleased with it. And then I tried it on and took photos and when I looked at the photos I just felt bleh about it.

I’m glad I waited to blog this – I did start before I left for Bali and the tone of that post was ‘I feel frumpy in this dress, I kind of hate it’. Now I’m back and looking at the photos again I don’t even know what my problem was! It’s fine! It looks good! I think it was a combo of being very very tired and also it didn’t look quite how I was expecting. Compared to the cotton version, the waistband is considerably looser even with interfacing, and also the rayon is heavy and drapey, so the torso area is much more droopy. For comparison, here’s me wearing both dresses in Bali, on the balcony of our villa.

 

S took these photos and insisted I posed

 

You can see the rayon version is much more sack-like and has less shape in the body. This was absolutely a plus side in humid Bali, but it left me feeling a bit glum. Like Leah said, I still do wince a tiny bit when I see myself in this dress, especially that photo where it’s loosened up a bit with wear. It’s not the silhouette I was expecting, quite, and my personal style is really sensitive about that sort of shape. It’s so interesting to me how such a tiny difference takes me from thrilled to disappointed in a make. I think this is why I tend towards overfitting for things that need ease in the mid torso, like shirtdresses. I have a fine line there between what I feel good in vs what feels ill fitting. I think I need to work on this because it’s objectively not accurate and, frankly, it’s not practical because a gals’ gotta have sitting room in her dresses!

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I did in fact wear it almost constantly in Bali. Honestly, I should have sewn one more DL dress and then taken only these dresses and maybe one pair of shorts. That was all I wore. It was as perfect for the climate as I had predicted.

In-action shot making peanut sauce at the cooking class we took

The waistbands are noticeably different – I notice in the cotton one that it sits right on my body whereas the rayon one sort of hangs out from it. So I suppose I could always take it in a bit. But I don’t think I will bother. Body image issues aside. I do wish that I had remembered that I was intending to take some length out of the centre back to account for my swayback. It droops quite a bit there and I can feel it dragging a bit as I walk. I also need to increase those neck darts to reduce how it sits up at the back of my neck.

I also can see that I could have taken some length out of the front in this version – the waistband sits a little bit below my actual waist and there’s folds and gaps there in certain photos. So if I were to make this again in rayon, I think I would take maybe an inch or even just half an inch out, to find a bit more of a compromise between fitted and loose and comfy. I am also hanging this draped over the hanger rather than with the hanger in the shoulders (does that even make sense??) to reduce the amount of dragging that the bodice is subjected to. Rayon is heavy!

That said, it’s possible that the rayon will firm up more in multiple washes, in which case it will be perfectly fit in about six months. Even if it doesn’t, I am still (now) very happy with this dress. It’s not how I was picturing it but it’s definitely fine, and it will be a perfect summer dress. It will probably be a weekend dress rather than weekday because I don’t feel quite neat enough in it to wear it to work but honestly I need those in my wardrobe just as much – and my office is too cold to ever wear rayon dresses in, anyway.

So there we have it. I’m very glad I waited to blog this and I think I might finally be getting the lesson to not judge my makes by how I feel the second I put them on, because that moment is often overshadowed by too high expectations and weird body image feelings.

I reckon I could manage at least one more Dorothy Lara in my wardrobe, too… what a great little pattern this is!

Fabric shopping in Bali – Klungkung market and Jalan Sulawesi in Denpasar

Hello everyone! I took a little unintentional hiatus there. I’m not going to apologise, however, because starting a blog post with an apology about how long it’s been since you posted is even more boring than asking, during a monopoly game, ‘what if this money were real’?

I do have a bit of a backlog of makes, which I had initially intended to blog and schedule to go up while S and I were on holiday in Bali a couple weeks back. However, when it came down to it I… just didn’t want to. I’d been doing a bunch of sewing in prep for the holiday, because my summer wardrobe is a bit minimal, and I was also pattern testing (that post to come soon I hope) and I just ran out of steam for blogging. So I didn’t. No need to make blogging a chore, right? It’s a hobby, it’s supposed to be fun. I’ll get to those makes eventually, but I picked up a revolting cold on the plane back and now I’m back at work and not feeling very motivated to blog OR to sew. Honestly it’s nice to have a break, and it will all still be here later, when I feel like it again.

I thought, though, that I would do a quick post and tell you about the fabric shopping I did in Bali, because before I went I looked into it and found other people’s blog posts very useful. I also found that there’s much more from the point of view of quilters, so I thought some garment-fabric perspective might be good. I will apologise for my truly terrible photos in this post, though. I was quickly snapping them while buying stuff and they’re fuzzy and wonky and… well… I was focusing on the buying not the photographing! I’ve linked to the trip advisor pages for both locations and they have more photos if you’re curious, they give a pretty good idea of the places and what there is there to buy.

I hired a driver for the day – we had a day tour earlier and hired the same driver. We were thinking about doing shopping and then maybe something touristy on the way back, time allowing. In the event, S stayed home as he was a little unwell and I went by myself, so I ended up just doing the shopping.

Klunkung market

The first place I went was the Klungkung traditional markets. It’s ostensibly about 30 minutes from Ubud where we stayed but with traffic that was more like 45 minutes. I’m not sure if there is anything particular around the markets but we passed some attractions like the Elephant cave on the way (closer to Ubud), so if you were staying in Ubud and wanted to go, you could maybe fold it in to a trip to look at some temples. The scenery on the way was spectacular, too, frankly the drive itself was a wonderful experience.

The market was just amazing. It was PACKED with gorgeous fabric, woven traditionally (although not natural dyes) for about 1/3 of what you would pay for it elsewhere in Bali – which is again drastically cheaper than in Australia, if you could even find it. The most expensive fabric I saw was 120,000 IDR which is about AU$13 per metre.

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Just stacks and stacks and STACKS of gorgeous Ikat. There was also plenty of non-Ikat fabric. I bought two lengths of ikat, two of solid coloured fabric, and also a large scale gingham. There was also lots of stripes and checks and all kinds of patterns. Mostly shirting weight or a bit heavier.

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Here’s my haul. I had real trouble photographing those solids, the colour is so rich and the photos wash them out. They’ve got a bit of a shot cotton effect.

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I bought 5M of each of these solids thinking that would be enough to make a shirtdress but of course it’s woven on a traditional loom so they’re only 1M wide. I should still get some kind of dress out of that length, it might just have to be short sleeved and not have a giant pleated skirt. Perhaps another B6055? Whatever I make out of this will be glorious, the fabric has such a wonderful hand and the depth of colour is stunning.

The solids were something like IDR 60,000 (about AUD$7) per metre and the ikats were just under IDR100,000 (about AUD$11) per metre. A steal. The woman who I bought the majority of this from had very minimal English, but everyone in the market knew ‘how much?’ and ‘per metre’ and if things got hairy after that they would punch the number out on their calculator. As I was buying these a couple of French women were buying with only hand gesticulations, so language isn’t an issue. You can bargain, but I didn’t really bother because everything was already so cheap – a 50c per metre difference is not much for me but it’s a lot for the vendor. I did get an automatic discount for buying multiple lengths in one spot, which is a standard thing around Bali, so bear that in mind.

The Ikats, hanging out to dry
The Ikats, hanging out to dry. They were a bit stiff but softened up nicely with a wash.

I was actually so overwhelmed by the fabric that I didn’t even look at the other areas of the market! I will just have to go back another time… If you are considering going and you have the time during a stay in Bali, I would definitely recommend the Klungkung markets. Even had I not bought anything, I think it was worth it as an experience. I wish I’d had enough money to buy more of the stripes and planer fabrics because I think they would be excellent ways to work a bit more interest into a handmade wardrobe like mine, where I prefer solids but don’t want to be boring. I also wanted to get some Ikat with a black background to maybe make a shirt with Steven, but without him there I couldn’t find one I was sure he’d like, so I left them behind.

Jalan Sulawesi in Denpasar

The next stop was Jalan Sulawesi in Denpasar – the fabric street. This was about an hour’s drive or perhaps a bit more from Klungkung. If you’re already staying in Denpasar, or going there on a day tour, I would definitely recommend a stop over at Jalan Sulawesi. I spent just under an hour there and got some excellent stuff.

In the Trip Advisor photos it looks quite open and easy but my experience was that it was CRAMMED. The parking is down one end of the one-way street, and there were tonnes of cars. It was very hot and sunny, and the strip of shops have awnings pulled down to protect the fabric and people from the sun so it was a lot more claustrophobic than in the Trip Advisor pics. The shops themselves are just totally filled to the brim with fabrics, so you have to sidle through, the exception being the store selling quilting fabric, which is very open. I did stop and buy a jellyroll as a gift and it was reasonably priced and the fabrics look beautiful. However of course I was much more interested in the garment fabrics.

I found the first couple of stores a bit of a bust, lots of fussy prints and polyester. Some nice fabrics (lots of Liberty knock offs) but not to my taste. But further in there were some real gems. I find it hard, in Adelaide, to find good, solid basics, especially in bottom-weight fabrics. Here I found plenty, as well as lots of shirting weight cottons and linen in every weight and quality you could want!

The viscose I ended up buying
The viscose I ended up buying

I did find I got hassled a fair bit – there was a woman there who I think must be a bit of a broker for some stores because she followed me down the row trying to talk me into buying things at various stores. She did in the end talk me into some linen. She saw I was also interested in the viscose there but at that point I had run out of money and didn’t buy any. However after heading back to the car I decided that I would just go back to our resort rather than stopping for lunch, and that I would regret the viscose so I went back and spent my lunch money on it! The store owners seemed pleased that I was paying them directly, so I don’t know what that woman’s relationship with the stores was or if I did something very rude by not going through her. Honestly I found her very annoying and it made it hard for me to shop like I wanted to. Next time I would be more aggressive about refusing people like that and just doing my own shopping.

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Viscose selection

I spent the most in a shop a couple down from the quilting store. Partly because they had some really excellent basics, but also because they pretty much left me alone unless I asked a question. They had tonnes and TONNES of linen, and they also had swatch cards so you could flip through easily and then they’d find that one for you on the shelves. There was some lovely patterned linen that I lusted over but didn’t buy because I was mostly looking for solids. I did buy there two long lengths of ‘baby canvas’ – a rich warm beige and a black – and honestly I wish I had bought about 10m of each instead of 3 of the beige and 5 of the black. This is exactly the sort of thing I always want and is almost impossible to find here. It was about AUD$5 a metre. I bought this with my grandma in mind – she has asked me to make her a skirt but lamented the lack of good fabric. ‘What’s happened to gaberdine?’ she wanted to know ‘Where did gaberdine go?’ Good question, Grandma, I wish I knew the answer. Anyway I also got 5m of ‘supernova’ fabric for a shirtdress, although now it’s pre-washed I’m worried it might be a bit light for that. It’s like a very very light chambray. If it doesn’t become a dress it will be an excellent top of some kind. It was about AUD$4 a metre.

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My haul from jalan Sulawesi – plus the large scale gingham from Klungkung markets.  The two on the left are the baby canvas and the middle are linen and ‘supernova’ cotton – or maybe it was a cotton linen blend?

Swatch cards - very handy
Swatch cards – very handy

The store where I tool the most snaps was the one where I eventually caved and bought the linen – again to make a skirt for my grandma, if she likes it. I hope she does like it because it’s a bit too beige for me, but it’s a very lovely heavy, drapey linen. This store had a lot of nice linen also, higher quality than the other store and appropriately a bit more expensive. The linen was more like AUD$12 a metre. This is also where I bought the viscose and they had some really nice prints – a nano iro knock off and some nice botanical prints. I went with the ferns. No idea what it will be, I got 3M so that’s enough for a plain dress or a top maybe. It’s a nice weighty fabric. What would you turn it into?

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Look at all those linens! I am in lust with those stripes but I keep buying shirting weight fabrics in blue and white stripes so I’m not allowed any more until I make something with them!

Anyway. That was my haul and I only got about five stores down! Then I’d spent all my money and went home😛 Another time I would like to go the whole length of the street before buying anything, which was my intention but then I started getting hassled and got flustered. It was quite overwhelming, lots of things happening and lots of choices, so be prepared. It absolutely was worth it for me because I honestly just don’t have access to those fabrics here, at least not within my budget. I didn’t see many knit fabrics – a few but not many – but who knows what was further down the street!

I was going to go to Alta Moda in Kuta as well, but given that with traffic it’s another 45-60 minutes each way, and that I’d already spent my money, I gave it a miss. I’ve heard it’s a wonderland, although more expensive. I bet I would have found some knits there. Perhaps next time.

Even considering the cost of the driver for the day, this came out at a very good price for fabric – especially for a fussy cheapskate like me! Got some good quality stuff at very low prices. I’ve managed to cram it into my stash but only because my pre-holiday sewing cleared up some room. I really really need to focus on sewing down that stash. I’m helped by the fact that the Spotlight in town has closed, so it’s much harder to get sucked in to sales prices for fabric I don’t really need. I’m hoping this will mean fewer, but better, stash acquisitions. There’s still Lincraft for notions and they have better basic fabrics and zips etc anyway, so it’s not like I’m deprived.

Anyway, I hope that was of use or interest to someone! Now I just have to start planning what to do with my haul…

Turnstone skirt

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Hello lovelies! Here is my new favourite make (my favourite is always whatever I most recently finished, ofc), the skirt from Simplicity 1166.

I’d already made the top, but the skirt was what originally made me purchase the pattern. I don’t buy many skirt patterns because how many variations on ‘cut a rectangle, maybe shape it a little, attach it to a waistband’ does one person need? About three, according to my stash… but I do keep an eye out for skirts with a bit more shaping or some drafting details, and I thought the pleats and shaped waistband of this one would be interesting.

The fabric is a very lightweight cotton denim from DK fabrics. I stopped in to get some silk organza for a presscloth and interfacing, and ended up also getting 3 metres of this at $5 a metre. Couldn’t resist. It’s quite light with a thin stripe through it, and a denim weave, and it’s got a lovely slubby natural quality while also being gorgeous and soft. It’s a dream to wear and I suspect it will wear well. I’ve been thinking about going and getting more to make a shirt, but I think it would make me look washed out if it were close to my face.

I didn’t buy it with this specific pattern in mind, but just because I need some more casual, nuetralish skirts that I can wear with tshirts on the weekend or on casual Friday. I settled on this pattern and then discovered I didn’t have quite enough fabric. This fabric is about 120cm wide, which meant the pattern didn’t quite fit. Which was annoying, since I’d already cut out one front panel. Holding that panel up to my waist I realised the skirt is also LONG, and hit me at a place which made it looks very dowdy, so I folded 3″ of length out of the pattern and managed to fit it on the fabric, just. I had to cut the waistband with the stripes running horizonatally, but I was considering doing that anyways.

Here it is with its intended shirt:

My waist measurement is just over the largest size for this skirt so I held the waistband up to my waist and decided it would be a bit tight, so I added and extra 2″ total to the back waistband. I had meant to add some extra to the side seams when cutting but forgot – and it wouldn’t have fitted on the fabric anyway – so I just sewed the side seams smaller. I also put some elastic in the back – I zigzagged the ends of the elastic to the waistband facing, pulling it tight so it gathers in. I do need it – I suspect the waistband would have fit me perfectly as drafted but then it would have been too tight when I sat down. I don’t at all mind the gathers on such a casual skirt and anyway, a gathered elastic band is better than a falling-off or cutting-in-half skirt.

I do want to move that top button in because it sits where my stomach starts to go in again so right now it sticks out a bit. There’s supposed to be a snap on the inside between the third and fourth button but it sits fine without it so I didn’t add it.

It needs to come in maybe 0.5cm

I also had trouble putting it together. This was about 50% user error and 50% poor pattern writing. I was still a bit sick while sewing this and also did not read the pattern very carefully because it’s a skirt, right? How complicated can it be? Well. I got all the skirt bits together but then they didn’t fit the waistband! I checked and it hadn’t stretched out – I’d stay stitched – although I did find a pleat marking I’d ignored, because I hadn’t been able to work out what the pleat paired with. Always a good sign. Like finding one leftover screw.

I was feeling CROSS with this skirt by this point, so I ended up just sewing it up the back until the skirt fit the waist, and then chopping the extra off. I basted it to the waist and tried it on and it looked… fine, but a bit awkward. I decided I’d go buy some buttons and put them in and see how it hung when properly buttoned.

Before doing this though, after a day of cooling down, I googled to see what other people had made. Seamstress Erin has made one, and mentioned no  issues, and La Sewista has made one – she DID have problems and, like me, couldn’t work out where that pleat was meant to line up. But I could see from both of theirs that their pleats were closer to each other and to the front than mine, and the side seam was not at the sides! You can just see this in the line drawing but it’s not clear, and it’s not explicitly mentioned anywhere in the instructions. The instructions also don’t point out where the pleats line up – they just say ‘sew the pleats by matching up the markings’ or something similar. But there was enough information to tell me that I had done a bad. So I unpicked everything and serged the bits I’d cut off back on. Luckily, in the stripe, you can barely see this at all! Here is the back side of it, so you can see (and also see the evidence of the denim weave:

And here it is on, the join is just barely visible, if you look.

So I re-examined the pattern to figure out where I’d gone wrong. The back panel is actually marked ‘back and side front’ panel, because it is meant to wrap around the front. And there was a pleat line I’d missed – one of the larger size pleat lines is mislabelled ’14’ rather than ’24’ so I’d not seen it. The trick is that there are the two front pleats and then the third pleat goes around the pocket – so there’s a pleat line about two inches from the side seam of the front piece, and another two inches from the side seam of the back piece. The pocket therefore sits in a deep pleat, and it and the side seam are hidden. I found this very hard to photograph, but here are my attempts:

you can just see the pleat seam to the left of the pocket
I’m holding that third pleat open
Pulling the pocket bag out – no dollars but no moths either, thankfully

I still think the sizing is off on the larger size, though. Even after working out my error, the skirt was too big for the waistband – and this is the waistband that I’d added 2″ to! I ended up sewing the side seams at the regular seam allowance, and also taking a bigger pleat. I suspect that the two front pleats should be bigger, and perhaps a bit closer to the placket. From the diagrams, it looks like the front is supposed to be small enough that the pocket bag sits under the facing, which is not the case for me, but perhaps that’s to be expected for the bigger size.

I am still struggling with taking good photos of the insides, sorry.

Anyhow, after a bit of fiddling I got everything together, and the pockets sit exactly where they should, and it looks GREAT. The first time I tried it on after I had sorted out my error I was just thrilled. Luckily this fabric is very forgiving and shows no sign at all of all the times I had to unpick things.

I did consider lining it but decided to keep it breezy and light. It’s long enough that it weighs itself down and I don’t miss the lining. I just top stitched the hem, although I note it drags at the back, just enough that I notice. I thought this might be because I didn’t account for my swayback but I noticed the back hem shows even on the hanger, so I suspect a cutting error when I took the length off. I’ll go back and fix it eventually but I might leave it a while in case the hem drops on the bias. I hung it for two days before hemming, with no dropping, but sometimes it takes a while.

Cat-meo. Cameow?

I also initially put in some square buttons, because they were the only ones I could find that I liked. I knew before I sewed them on that they would always look wonky, and they did. So I took myself off to the Button Bar and Veronica sorted me out, as always, with these round wooden look ones. They’re actually plastic and sewn on backwards because they have an engraved star on the front that I didn’t like. I should have known better than to go anywhere else (the square ones were from Lincraft) but Veronica only works later in the week these days and I bought my buttons on Monday. Didn’t want to wait! Should know better.

I don’t think it really shows in the photos but the placket is a bit wonky at the top. Another time I would top stitch it – the pattern doesn’t say to and I complied, but the wonky is from it rolling a bit unevenly so I would topstitch or at least understitch. I also initially pressed the darts to the side because I find that more flattering, but it looked odd because the side pleat was going the other way, so I went back and pressed them to the front as the pattern directs.

The pockets are pretty small and shallow – they perfectly fit my work pass card, and my phone and wallet fit but feel a bit precarious. Anything too heavy drags the skirt down a bit though so I don’t think I’d bother to change them if I made this a second time. I find the length perfect and would have been overwhelmed if it were any longer. The waistband does fold over the day but I don’t think it looks bad. It just is.

Here’s a TL;DR of the changes I made and problems I had:

Changes

  • I made the largest size – size 24 – for my 110cm-ish waist
  • I shortened the skirt 3″
  • I added 2″ to the back waistband and then added elastic to it.
  • I used sew in interfacing because that was the heaviest interfacing I had.

Problems:

  • The pattern is very unclear about where the pleats go
  • The first two pleats pleat on the front piece
  • The second two pleat around the pocket and side seam – one side of the pleat is on the front, and one is on the back.
  • I found that the skirt was still too big for the waistband, despite having added length to the waistband, so something is very off there.
  • I suspect that the larger size pleats haven’t been sized up enough. If you are making this, I suggest lining everything up to check before you sew the pleats, to see if it will all fit together.

I’m a bit unimpressed with those drafting and instruction oversights, to be honest. I’ve not come across any discrepancies this large before in a Big 4 pattern. However, the original vintage drafting is so clever and neat, and I feel like it gives a perfect amount of volume without compromising on comfort or ease of movement at all. I think this will be the perfect casual skirt – I don’t intend on doing much housework in it but if yoga pants didn’t exist I think this would be the next best thing, and very practical, although I think this fabric might be a bit warm in full summer. I will definitely put this on the list to make again.

 

Dotty L dress

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Hello everyone! Here is my version of the Dorothy Lara dress from decades of style. I’ve been eyeing off this pattern since seeing Tanya’s many wonderful versions – this is the one that tipped me over into wanting to sew this pattern. I started thinking about it more when we started planning another trip to Bali. My teal rayon dress was kaput by this time and I knew I wanted something to take to Bali that would replicate the things I liked about it – short sleeves that covered the shoulders, blousy bodice but this time with a loose skirt, easy to wear fabric. I knew the DL dress would fit the bill but with the conversion rate and postage it would have cost something like AUD$50 to get the pattern! That’s too much for me.

I posted on the CSC asking for recommendations for similar patterns and as a result picked up a Vogue pattern that wasn’t quite what I wanted but is lovely so will definitely be made at some point (thanks to all who helped me out in that thread!). I also started drafting something similar myself, but slowly because – well for one because it’s freezing and I find it hard to sew very unseasonably, and for another because I really wanted to sew the DL dress. I guess it was good because I was only halfway through drafting something myself when Tanya let me know that DoS had released the DL dress as a pdf! I immediately downloaded it, despite being on a bit of a pattern buying freeze until I actually sew up some of the ones in my queue.

The fabric is some I bought last month when I was in Melbourne for the weekend for my sister’s birthday and to see a show with my cousin. It’s from Unique fabrics on Sydney road which is my new favourite place to fabric shop. I initially intended it for pyjamas but then I thought about how good that border print would look as a dress and I couldn’t get the thought out of my mind. It’s a little bit out of my usual wheelhouse in terms of colours and design but I really love it. They had it in several colourways including hot pink and orange, and I wish I’d bought some of the others.

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Selvedge says 100% cotton satin indofab

It really does feel and drape like satin. Glorious. I bought three metres intending to pattern match my pjs, which meant I had not quite the amount recommended by the pattern. I managed it just fine although wanting to place the pattern in specific ways meant I had to do the layout and cutting all at once – which meant on the living room floor, which I always find a pain.

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But I’m getting ahead of myself. First was muslining. I traced out the size 44″ bust which is the second to largest size. I have a high bust of 41″ and a full bust of 46″ but I figured there’d be plenty of ease in that bodice. I was going to trace a size down for the shoulders and neck but when I looked at the pattern, there wasn’t that much difference there so I just traced the straight size 44″. Here’s that first muslin:

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It was VERY baggy. I could probably fit a couch cushion down there! When I pinched out the neckline it sat much nicer so I took a 1.5″ wedge out of the front neck – losing 3″ in all. This meant taking the width from the bodice piece, the neckline stay and the bias neckline strip. There wouldn’t be much difference in the amount of room between sizes, that part of the pattern piece is a very similar size for all sizes. It says on the pattern that the higher sizes are C cup (if I’m reading correctly?) but I’m an E and there was lots of ease for me, I think this would adapt very easily to various bust sizes.

Anyway here’s the second muslin:

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Much better. When I’m making just one change like this I only cut out the one new pattern piece. I only baste my muslins together with a long stitch so it’s easy to take them apart and sub in the new piece. I don’t just muslin for fit – I like the way a muslin lets you figure out how a pattern goes together before sewing up the real thing. I also always tuck or pin a bodice muslin in to a skirt, because I find the weight of the skirt makes a huge difference to fit. Without it this bodice looked pouffy still but with the skirt pulling it down it’s perfect.

I also decided the waist was a bit tight for such a casual blousy pattern. It technically fit but only just, so I added and extra 1″ to just the front waistband. I didn’t change the amount of gathers at the bottom of the bodice, but I brought the gathering area in further to distribute them a bit better, because they looked a bit odd all bunched up with a bigger gap between them. I know that’s the design but I didn’t like how it looked on me. Next time I think I will gather across the whole bottom of the bodice, not just those two spots under the bust – it looks like I did a bad job gathering rather than being deliberate.

I did that for the back bodice – the bottom of the bodice is designed to gather to two points on either side but with my swayback it meant that all the extra fabric was exactly where I didn’t need it, so I simply gathered across the whole. I also didn’t sew down the gathers on the bottom of the bodice, just as a style choice. Where I did sew down I didn’t pull the thread to the back and tie as the pattern says, I merely backstitched at the end of the row of stitching as I would when sewing a seam.

Gosh I love how crisply this fabric gathers. I also left a little gap right at the centre of the neckline where it’s barely gathered at all. In my muslins, when I gathered evenly I got a big ridge of gathers in between my boobs which I didn’t like. When I finished sewing it I was worried it was going to look strange with that gap, it’s really obvious on the hangar. But on me, it has exactly the effect I was hoping of the blousiness falling evenly, so it’s not noticeable – in fact so unnoticeable that I can’t find a photo that shows it!

I’m not sure about the front skirt gathering. I debated distributing it over the whole front skirt, or perhaps moving it just to the hips and leaving the front flat. I really don’t need the extra bulk at the front of my stomach, and it has ended up looking a bit apron-like. But one of the beautiful things about this pattern is that it is assembled as a full front and a full back, and then sewn together at the sides. This makes taking in and letting out easy, and I didn’t want to compromise on that, so I left it as is. I think it’s a bit more pronounced in real life than in these photos but also I am coming to the conclusion that I am not too fussed by it. It’s fine, and it’s clearly in line with the style of the dress. I think there’s about a 50/50 chance that next time  I’d gather the whole front, as well as whether I’d sew the gathers down or leave them free.

I like the just-over-the-butt gathers on the back, though. I feel fine about extra floof there😛 The back neckline goes up a bit high but again, I’m not fussed by it. I could maybe pinch a small wedge out or take bigger darts next time. Or not stand with my hands on my hips so much… I wasn’t sure about how I cut the waistbands – I was running low on fabric and so the front has the dots and the back is plain. I wasn’t sure about the dots because they mirror the dots on the bodice rather than being offset, but now I’ve decided I like it.

I was really sick last week and spent most of it home from work, in bed. I sewed this dress when I started to get a bit better, I was just desperate to DO something. So the finishing on this is not what I’d like. The waistbands don’t quite meet on the sides, for instance, and they are not quite even in width because I was sewing wonky. It’s a bit of a shame because this fabric and pattern deserve more.

I also did a quick and dirty sleeve hem, so they stick out a bit.

That said, it’s an incredibly forgiving pattern that I think would be a good beginner pattern, because there’s a lot of wriggle room. However, I found the instructions pretty bare bones. Specifically I don’t know if I missed it or if it’s never said which way up the sleeves go. I eventually worked out that they go with the triple notch pointing up, since that’s the notch for the shoulder join, but it took me quite a while. Again, perhaps that was just my fever-addled brain but if you’re a beginner sewing this you might need someone helping you interpret it.

Zip – can you see it?

I wasn’t going to put the zip in – I can technically get it on without it, although it takes some… manipulation. In the end I did though, and I’m glad of it. I want this dress to be something I wear a lot so making it easy is good. I switched the side and put the zip on the right side. I have a bung shoulder – and big boobs! – so reaching around to the left is sometimes tricky. This meant I left off the pocket because I don’t know that I would use just the left pocket. I did cut them out so I can always go back and add them in after. I should work out how to add a pocket in a side seam with a zip, maybe.

Btw there’s no cat involved in this photo shoot. This is what he was doing while I was taking these photos

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The neckline, bodice and waist and skirt seams are all enclosed so I left those raw, for better gathers. I serged the sleeves and the sleeve seam of the bodice before attaching them, and once everything else was attached I serged from armpit to skirt and back up to the other armpit, before sewing the front to the back. The waistband hypothetically catches itself in when you topstitch but that’s something I’m bad at so I hand stitched the bits I missed.

the neckline and sleeves go together so cleverly. It’s a really neat design – and it’s the place where I feel the worst about my dodgy finishing, but i am refusing to feel too bad about it because it’s fine and done is better than perfect. But next time, when I’m not sick, it would be easy to take just a little extra time and make this neat and beautiful.

I really liked the length when I tried it on so I did the teeniest hem. it had to wait until I went and bought more thread though because I didn’t have any purple thread! I just topstitched the hem. A piece of the selvedge art shows at the front but I don’t care.

I am so thrilled with everything about this dress. I can see myself living in it in summer – it’s so easy and pretty and neat. In person it’s hard to miss the retro lines – I feel like it looks a lot more modern in photos somehow. It still looks modern in person, too but somehow the 1940s-ness is more obvious – maybe it would be less so if I changed the gathers on the front skirt. I loved the way the construction hinted at the time of design in its conservative use of fabric and the pieces clearly intended to be easily mended and replaced – or to fit a person as they gained and lost weight, or to be the perfect handmedown as well as the perfect dress to throw on with little notice to go to your office or factory job… or a dance hall. Plenty of room for movement while still looking fresh and cool. Which makes it absolutely perfect for modern women today!

In fact I love this one so much that I have already cut out another one! This one only took a few hours to throw together so it should be long before the next one is hanging up in my wardrobe.

Wear are they now 2016 – part 2

Continuing on from the first part, a review of the makes of the last 18 months or so, in roughly chronological order.

This bluegingerdoll hack:

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Nope. Too short, felt weird in it, it went to the op shop almost immediately after I blogged it.

Tennessee dress:

Felt pretty iffy about it at time of construction, but ended up wearing it a TONNE over summer. It’s definitely a ‘home and to the shops’ dress – I wouldn’t wear it to a picnic or anything – but it’s a nice version of what it is. The hem has grown though, so I have to hack it off and even it out before this summer.

 

Japanese flowers dress:

This is actually the dress that prompted this series. I took this dress to Bali last year and it was exactly the perfect dress for there – not too much fabric in the skirt, breezy blousy top, shoulders covered, the rayon means it feels like I’m barely wearing anything. But when I got back home, I barely wore it. I just don’t feel good in straight skirts anymore – plus a straight skirt in rayon means it wrinkles like woah when I sit. I did wear it a few times and one of those times was to a colleague’s retirement party. The man standing in front of me during the speeches kept edging backwards, so in order not to have his butt pressed against me I also had to edge backwards. Somewhere towards the end of the speeches I ended up pressed up against the catering table, and eventually sat on a cupcake. It was very undignified, and the icing left a large (brown) grease stain on the back of the skirt which nothing I have tried can get out. I have enough fabric left to recut that panel, but by that point I had decided I didn’t like the skirt and I don’t have enough to cut a fuller skirt. I am keeping an eye out at spotlight for more of this rayon but despite this  colour continuing to appear in their catalouges, none of the stores I’ve visited have had it in stock. If I do see it I’ll grab it and change out the skirt because I do like the bodice of this dress. I am considering making another version, new, with a 1/4 circle skirt.

(Those sandals also died at the end of summer and I miss them. They were the best)

Christmas skirt and dress:

I mean obviously these haven’t gotten much wear since I made them… Still very pleased with them though. I did make and almost finish another version of that dress but I’m dissatisfied with it. A large part of that is that the collar looks very odd with a jumper or cardigan, making it not wearable in my freezing office. I’ve put it away to think about and might come back to it when it’s closer to the actual kind of weather I would wear it in.

Gingham skirt

Wore this a bunch last summer but I really need to do some fixes to it. It sags at my swayback so I need to figure out a way to retrofit some elastic or something to suck it in. the lining also creeps up over the waistband, and it’s not a simple fix because it’s the teeniest bit smaller than the outer fabric so I can’t just topstitch it. I might have to hand tack it down. I’d like to do that soon because it’s a very versatile skirt and I’d like to have it in my wardrobe rather than the mending pile, as the weather warms up.

By Hand London Anna dresses:

Number one

Loved this dress in summer. Made me feel like a queen. However, I think either i need more ease or the rayon has tightened up just a bit or both. By the end of summer it felt a bit tight. Need to pull it out again and see how it’s fitting now. I also think that, in general, I need to  be careful of overfitting things.

Number two

I absolutely adore this fabric, but this one is definitely too tight. I feel self conscious in it. Again I need to try it on and see how it is now. I am loathe to part with it because the fabric is so perfect but it might have to go.

Number three

I’ve worn this maybe twice. I just feel self conscious in it. This is the dress that made me realise I just don’t like prints very much, especially near my face. Objectively I think it looks good but I always feel a bit awkard in it. I’m waiting for warmer weather to reassess whether I should keep it because it’s comfy and cool, or if I should remake the skirt, or if it needs to go. Either way, I wouldn’t call this one a success.

Rayon moneta:

Also wore this a tonne in summer. Hem has also stretched, needs fixing. love this dress, the firmer fit and more organise print makes it feel a bit neater than the Tennessee rayon dress. Would happily make another of these if I find more knits I like in summer. The moneta is such a good pattern for me.

Kimono tees

These two rayon ones are also having the hem stretch business. They got worn a whole lot in summer, they’re lovely and floaty. The various black and white ones I made in firmer knits were worn in high rotation until it was too cold for anything but long sleeves. I love this pattern although I might have enough of these for now. I do need to trace it off in a smaller size to make one for my cousin.

Denim skirt

Still one of my easiest, most worn skirts. Total win. This pattern is now also my standard pattern I use to cut lining for skirts.

School witch skirt and Jungle skirt

 

I’m lumping these in together since they’re the same pattern. I haven’t worn these for a while – I keep wanting a bigger bottom silhouette and in winter I wear enough layers on top that that + the thick pleats make my waist feel bulky. I’m putting these on hold till warmer weather and if I haven’t worn them by summer they might go. Even if that happen though I still consider these successes, as I loved them and wore them every week for a full season.

That brings me up to about six months ago so I think I’ll leave it there. I plan to keep doing these regularly, it’s really interesting to  see common threads in the fails (bad pattern to fabric match, poor style choice, poor workmanship, overfitting, not picking styles I will actually wear) and also to see how my style has changed. Some of these photos I just want to hike the waist up to sit higher, whereas I used to always prefer skirts to sit at my natural waist I like them at my high waist these days. Wanting bigger skirts, and leaning into cut on sleeves are all recent things for me. Some of it is finding my style and some is just my style shifting.

Also it’s nice to see that my photos are  consistently much better! Very pleasing.

KaiHua robe

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Does anyone else find it hard to start a blog post? I always feel like I should have an introductory paragraph before launching into the actual details. Perhaps I’m just over educated. This blog post will lay out the reasons behind, and the making of, a robe. It will aim to prove that the robe is very nice, making things is good, and that sometimes patterns are worth paying for even if they are expensive and you could hypothetically draft that yourself. The author will argue that pink is not a colour she normally wears but actually it’s quite nice.

Ahem. So. A robe. This is part of my plan to step up my ‘loungewear’ game, I made it before my Springfield hack. I specifically had in mind that I am going to Bali again in October and I need to sew some more weather and holiday-style appropriate things, and I thought a robe would be a nice, luxurious start – something to swan around in in the morning before putting on proper clothes, or in the evening after a swim and a shower. I thought a bunch about drafting my own because like… it’s basically a couple of rectangles, right? In the end I bit the bullet and bought the Named Asaka robe because I figured I only wanted to sew one robe rather than test a bunch of shapes, and I was paying for someone else having thought about proportion, drape, etc. Plus those sleeves.

The pdf was easy to put together and everything went fine. I initially lengthened the robe by 6”, so it took up every single inch of the fabric I had, and I had to piece the belt in about four places.

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The fabric is voile from spotlight that I bought because, despite the fact that I don’t really wear pink, or prints, or busy florals, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The fourth time I went back to look at it it was on sale so I bought it. I got I think 4 or 5 metres, which would have been enough for a dress, but then couldn’t pull the trigger on actually making it up because… I don’t really wear pink, or prints, or busy florals. So I was really pleased to be able to both use my stash and also make use of this fabric in a way I love. Because it is a directional print I couldn’t flip the pieces to be more efficient, and I lengthened the robe and therefore made the bottom swing out even wider so I just fit everything on. I had fun playing pattern layout tetris though!

I made a size 44 shoulders grading to 46 at the top of the armscye, which is my standard MO (I think I have those sizes right. I didn’t take good notes, but I definitely graded betwqeen sizes). I made no other adjustments, figuring it’s a robe with lots of ease so specific bust fitting wouldn’t be needed. I didn’t bother with a muslin, either. I used heavy iron-in interfacing from spotlight, and I think I need to up my interfacing game. This stuff is fine but not great, and I can see that as my sewing gets better my makes are going to start being let down by dodgy, bubbly interfacing. Anyone have any in-Australia interfacing recs?

I French seamed everything which meant the belt loops were a bit fiddly – I just did the first step of the French seam and then sewed the loop in with the second pass. It took a couple of tries to get everything caught in the seam properly, but was definitely worth it. I also added another loop at the neck, using the same pattern piece, for hanging the robe up.

French seamed armhole
Hanging loop

The neck facing is a bit of a bodge job, I was ready to be done by that point so it’s a bit wonky but coming back to it after a few weeks to photograph it I went to check the flaws and couldn’t really find a bit that was particularly bad so… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. It’s certainly not my best sewing but it’s not going to be something I notice every time I wear it, you know? I also forgot to lengthen the facings when I lengthened the robe, although I don’t think I would have fit that on my fabric anyways.

Belt loops

However, once I had the robe made up, I tried it on and felt like it was too long. I lopped off 4” so that my finished robe is 2” longer than the pattern intends (and with the last 2” pieced). And it’s short! Like ‘make sure you’re wearing underwear you like before you bend over’ short. So be warned. I actually did like the longer length and might consider making it up like that in a warmer fabric, but it wasn’t what I was aiming for with this.

Seamed placket
Sleeves

 

The sleeves are cut so it’s easy to do a french seam and then separately finish the edges. The sleeves are really well drafted. I am idly considering piecing the fabric leftovers and sewing them into a tasuki to keep them out of my way if I want to do dishes or whatever. But on the other hand, I’d like to discourage myself from doing any form of housework while wearing this robe😄 I could probably tie them in a knot if I really wanted to do something that they’d be in the way for.

You can also see here that my swim bottoms have worked their way down below my belly button

I was a bit surprised by how little instruction there was for finishing it nicely, I think it’s a pattern that lends itself to a beginner intermediate sewer and I would have liked to have seen French seams at least suggested, at least for the seams that will be visible.

Personally, I was paying for the drafting not the instructions so even though I would consider this quite an expensive pattern, it was worth it for me. This is a simple pattern but the proportion and design is lovely and much better than what I would have drafted myself. I am thrilled with my robe and cannot wait for the appropriate weather to wear it!

See also: Bimble and pimble; Lily sage and co; Pigeon wish

Do not see: this white nonsense photoshoot (I feel weird enough about wearing a ‘kimono’ can we not do the hands thing please??)