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The Blackwood cardigan - a perfect layer.

Monday, 18 May 2020

When you're six foot tall and you want a long cardigan, you make it yourself.


This is the Blackwood Cardigan from Helen's Closet.  I've made the pattern before but never blogged it, so thought I'd better get on it this time.  I took advantage of the recent 30% off merino sale at The Fabric Store and purchased two beautiful premium weight fabrics in black and paprika.  The fabric is so soft and cozy.


There's a reason that just about every sewing blogger/instagrammer (is that a word?) has made this pattern.  It comes together so quickly and I love the way it looks.  It's not designed to close in the middle so that's something to be aware of.


I've made this up in a large and only made one pattern adjustment and that was to increase the length through the body by 6 inches.  The sleeves are designed to be extra long/bunched up a little and I found that they hit at a great length on my long arms.  I've left the pockets off too.  If I put anything heavier than a tissue in them, they would drag on the front of the cardigan.  The added bonus is that you then pretty much sew this up on your overlocker.


These have been in constant rotation since I finished them a couple of weeks ago.  I'm really surprised by how often I reach for the paprika colour, I really thought I'd wear the black more often but I'm enjoying the injection of colour that the paprika brings to my fairly neutral wardrobe.


I love these cardigans and think I want another one in white! 

Ticking something off the list

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

I finally finished these black ginger jeans on Good Friday.  I've lost count of how many times I've made this pattern and every time they feel slightly different.  The impact of fabric choice and quality is never more evident than when you make jeans.


I wanted a pair of true black denim jeans and found it really difficult to find fabric.  I ended up getting some from Threadbare Fabrics in the US, but it doesn't appear to be on their website anymore.  It was described as a stretch denim however the stretch is minimal and there's almost no recovery, but the colour is perfect.  My favourite jeans fabric is the Cone Mills S-Gene stretch denim.  I haven't found anything else that comes close in terms of recovery and not bagging out.


Looking back through my old posts I haven't really documented my changes to the pattern so I'm including them here for future reference.

These are a size 14, view B.  I've narrowed the leg from the knee down by around 1/4 inch and added an extra inch in length.  I've also dropped the back crotch curve by 1/4 inch and taken a 1/4 inch from the back yoke at the middle, tapering out to nothing at the side seams.  There are further adjustments I could make, but I like these and at the moment I'm not particularly concerned.  Nothing in RTW even comes close to fitting me this well or feeling as comfortable.  Also, when I look at the first pair I made five years ago I can see I'm carrying more weight but I haven't traced a larger size so that also accounts for some of the drag lines.


I'm working on my photo set-up, this was my first time using a self-timer and a tripod and they could really use some work. Black is hard enough to photograph let alone adding in a self timer!  My family has zero interest in taking photos for me so I need to get this figured out - particularly how I get the camera to focus on me, not the background!  So much to learn...

I debated whether I should even post this because I kept focusing on the flaws, but I've never been aiming for perfection, just a friendly space to share my makes, so here we are.  Also, it feels good to visually tick something off my April list of sewing plans.

April Plans

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Well what a month March was!  I started the month with a night out in the city moving from roof top bar to roof top bar and finished the month in isolation.  Along the way I also successfully applied for a new job and handed in my resignation at an organisation that I've worked for for over 15 years.  I've felt all the emotions this month!

There was very little sewing in March.  My black ginger jeans are 90% done - just need to sew the buttonhole and hems and bang in the button.  The wrap top and the bra are not even close, but I still want them and hope to be able to get it done in April.

Images via Tessuti Fabrics, Orange Lingerie and David Jones

So for April I'm planning to make:


I finish up at work on Thursday and have two weeks off before I start in my new role so I'm hopeful that I'll be able to achieve everything on my list this month.

These are all really practical items that will work well during this isolation period as well as filling current gaps in my wardrobe.

Making plans - March

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Lately I haven't felt productive.  At the end of the day I'm so tired I just want to fall on the couch and scroll Instagram - which only makes me feel worse!  So I decided to put together some simple plans for March to try and get some balance back.
Images via Orange Theory, Tessuti, Peppermint Magazine and Closet Case Patterns
Here's what I hope to get done:


The best part is that I have all the fabrics and patterns in my stash and I've made a start by cutting out the jeans and the bra.

Pretty modest plans but I'm excited to see them come together. 

Aeolian tee - the washed out wonder

Monday, 24 February 2020

Let's be clear up front, washed out wonder refers to the pictures, not the pattern!


The Aeolian tee has been incredibly popular for a reason - it's a great pattern that sews up really quickly and looks great.


My measurements placed me as 12-14 which falls in the medium size range.  As a first go around I decided to make this up as drafted with no additional length or other changes and I really like the way it fits.  I think one of my favourite features is the wide hems, I love the way they look.


For this version I used a viscose jersey from Tessuti Fabrics and I really like the drape it gives the top.  The only thing I would change would be to cut the neckband a little shorter, the drape of the fabric provides just a little bit too much give.


It has possibly been corrected by now but I did note that the pattern has incorrect instructions on the neck facing piece.  It says to cut one on fold, but there is no fold, you just cut one piece. 

I've also seen some great versions of this in a woven fabric and I'd been keen to try that too.  So many patterns, so little time!

Style Arc Sunny Knit Top

Monday, 13 January 2020

On new year's eve I cleaned up my sewing room and counted alllll the projects that I had in various stages of completion.  I had 30!  With another 10 projects waiting to be altered or mended.  This top was one of my WIPs, it was just waiting to be hemmed.


This is the Style Arc Sunny Knit top made up in a gorgeous lilac merino from The Fabric Store.  Total coincidence that my first two projects of 2020 are both called Sunny!  I was drawn to the style lines of this top, quick and easy but with a little bit of interest which is something that I think Style Arc do really well.


Given that I cut this out sometime last year I'm relying on what's in my notepad and on the pattern sheet and it looks like I've made up a straight size 12.  No extra length added and the sleeves and body length are perfect for me.


I really like the cocoon shape, I feel like it sits nicely and is easy to wear.  While the style lines are different I feel like this has quite a similar feel to the Tessuti Mandy boat tee.  Fitted sleeves with volume through the body.  Having made both I do prefer the Style Arc Sunny top. 


I'm really happy that I finished this one off, I'm pretty sure it's going straight into regular rotation.  Now I just need to tackle the rest of the list!

A sunny swimsuit

Monday, 6 January 2020

I have a gorgeous one piece bathing suit from Seafolly.  It's beautifully made, fully lined and includes an underwired shelf bra for extra support.  It's also a complete pain to pull back up into place once it's wet.  I wanted a lovely little bikini to wear in the backyard swimming pool which would make bathroom breaks a breeze.  Enter the Sunny Top from Sew Swimmingly and the Watson bikini pattern from Cloth Habit.


Let's start with the top.  I bought this bikini top pattern as soon as it was released thinking it would work for my daughters and for me.  According to my measurements I'm an XL, the largest size this pattern goes up to (I wear a RTW 12D/34D).  Essentially this is a pretty quick and easy sew, but there were some things with the pattern and instructions I disliked and after swimming in the top I'd make changes in the future.


 My first issue was with the pattern.  It says to cut 1 of the side cups, when it should say cut one pair or cut 2.  A pretty basic mistake that I picked up as I was laying out the pattern pieces (this may have been fixed since I bought the pattern).


I found the style of the instructions a bit odd.  It was almost like there was a summary statement and then the step by step instructions, which I found confusing rather than helpful.


Some information appears to be missing and at times the instructions don't appear to match the accompanying images.  When attaching the elastic around the straps and neckline, the photos show the elastic starting down from the top edge of the straps, but this isn't referenced in the instructions at all.  I started the elastic 3/8 inch down from the top edge and this worked well. 

I also found the images for this section confusing.  The instructions state that you place the lining fabric and outer fabric together and then attach the elastic, but the lining fabric isn't shown in the accompanying photo.


The extra wide neckline is lovely, but those straps aren't comfortable for lots of swimming.  I found that they tended to rub the under arms.  I would also prefer that the bottom edge was finished with an elastic band rather than a self binding - it didn't feel particularly secure.  Once wet, the top rode up at the back and I wonder is that's also because there's no elastic in the bottom to help it stay in place.


If I make this again I would use a self lining, as there was no way I could find to stop it peaking out when you finish the edges as instructed.  I would also reshape the neckline to move the straps further towards the center front, curve the top edge of the bust in a little bit more to make the fit more secure, add 1/2 inch extra length and finish the bottom with elastic.


I may tinker with this pattern and make it again if my daughters want it, but I'm not sure I'd make it again for me.

The bikini bottoms couldn't have been more different.  I sewed these up in a medium with a couple of simple changes.  I added 1/2 inch to the back rise graded out to nothing out the side seams, I removed the front crotch seam and fully lined these.  Totally love them.  Comfy to swim in and I love the way they look.


Such a long post for such a small pieces of clothing!  I love swimwear and I'm hoping to make up a few more patterns before summer is over.