Author Archives: SuitingMyself

Ladybird pyjamas

I showed my seven year old niece how the back of my Lakeside Pajamas opened up in two curved panels. “Oh! You’re a ladybird!”, she said. So, despite the butterflies, these are now my ladybird pyjamas.

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I'm a ladybird

Which is fitting as Lladybird’s is my favourite of the Internet’s many fabulous versions of this pattern.

I made these over the course of a week in early December and then promptly packed them away unworn. They are, I concluded, not suitable for an English winter.

However, they are eminently suitable for the 40 plus degrees of an Adelaide summer, which is where I currently very happily find myself. I have worn these constantly since arriving (albeit with occasional breaks for putting on clothes and leaving the house).

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Wrinkled from intensive wear

Fabric is a viscose from the bargain basement of Misan Textiles (in Berwick St, so even the bargain basement is not that bargainous). I made the bias tape from a piece of poly cotton.  Half of the half metre piece yielded about ten metres of tape, of which I used about two thirds.

I loved sewing this pattern. It is simple with few seams but applying the bias trim takes time. I found this very restful. I like a good repetitive task that requires no brainpower though; your experience may vary.

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Metres and metres of bias

I will make these again. I could use another set myself and I think they would also make excellent gifts as no real fitting is required.

Excuse the headless photos. Putting identifiable photos of me in my nightie on the internet seemed unwise.

Happy new year all.

Lady skater(s): meh or not meh?

I wasn’t going to post these because 1) i thought the blogosphere had said pretty much all there is to say about the Lady Skater and 2) I was pretty meh about my versions.

But then the weather turned cold and I started wearing my most recent version all but constantly. This made me both reconsider my mehness and also think that maybe I had something to say after all.

So. First, my major problem with this pattern.  I had a lot of trouble getting this to print properly. As have several others. I emailed Amanda and she was friendly and sympathetic but not that helpful. Luckily I have non-Adobe PDF software at work (Nuance) and managed to make it print using that. I have not had problems with other PDF patterns and was pretty unimpressed by this experience: if it’s a free PDF and things aren’t quite 100%, fine. But if I pay good money for a pattern, I kind of expect it to work. I felt quite ripped off and would be very wary of buying another Kitschy Coo pattern because of this.

Rant over; now onto the actual dresses.

I have made three Lady Skaters. The first was intended as a muslin and I used the rubbish-y navy poly knit I used for my underwhelming Plantain. I bought 2m (as recommended for the Plaintain) and had enough* for both that and a cap sleeved Lady Skater.  The Lady Skater recommended yardage is 1.75yds. So, take indie yardages with a tablespoon of salt, I guess.

*not really enough. I had to cut one skirt piece with a centre seam. But close.

The pattern was quick and easy to sew and I have nothing much to say about this version except that, as everyone else says, it is too long in the bodice, especially at the back.  I am long waisted and would usually add length. After making this version I removed about 3cms from the front and about 7cms from the back. The skirt is also pretty short. I am 167cms and added about 10cms to the skirt in later versions to make this knee length (after bodice modifications).

Lady SkaterLady Skater

My second version is in a four way stretch I bought in Spain. This dress was heavily inspired by Lladybird’s version in similar colours, also with white bindings.  Sadly, mine doesn’t have Lladybird’s tigers.  I do love the colour and pattern of this dress but the fabric is some strange synthetic that I think would have been better as bathers. I don’t find the dress very comfortable although I do think it looks cute.  As you will see from the fact that the following photos are taken in the wild, it does get worn outside the house.

Lady SkaterLady Skater

My third (and probably final) version is in a morgan crepe from Minerva Crafts. I wasn’t very happy with this fabric when it first arrived as it felt more synthetic than I was expecting and the colour was also not as deep a purple as I had hoped. But after making the dress up the fabric has grown on me. I made a long sleeved Lady Skater and have worn it pretty much constantly as it is super snuggly. Warmest dress I own by a long shot.  No photos, but it looks pretty much the same as all the other long-sleeved plain coloured Lady Skaters on the internet.  See here or here .  The morgan crepe is quite thick and, for anyone making a Lady Skater in similar fabric, I would suggest you don’t follow the Lady Skater instructions for attaching the neck binding.  The instructions have you attach the binding flat and then sew the shoulder seam but this results in a very bulky seam.  If I were to sew this again, would attach the binding in the round with the join at centre back.

I doubt I will get the benefit of my own wisdom though, as I think I’m done with Lady Skaters. The dress is very casual and I don’t need a lot of casual clothes. I would, however, like to modify the bodice into a sweatshirt pattern.  I have all kinds of lust for this Cut Cut Sew sweatshirt and I think the Lady Skater could be altered to make something very similar.  Yes, I am aware I just said I don’t need casual clothes.

Crochet slipper boots

Winter is coming. Or, more accurately, has come, at least to London.

At the end of last winter I was reluctantly forced to admit that tying the soles of my beloved NZ sheepskin slippers on with rubber bands wasn’t the classiest of looks and maybe it was time I threw them out. Readers, I threw them. Which meant, come this winter, I was slipperless and completely unprepared.

I wandered around Next and M&S and hated all their slippers and was also filled with shopping rage because there are So Many People in shops and the music is Too Loud. I know, I’m old and grumpy. I choose to embrace it.

I googled slippers thinking to buy from the comfort of my own laptop and hated all those ones too. Until, buried in the depths of page 20 of the google images was this:

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Cute right? But, alas! Not slippers available for purchase, rather, a pattern for crocheting your own. By this time I had very cold feet and was desperate so crochet-my-own it was. Also, it was a free pattern, which instantly appealed to my cheap side.

I went to John Lewis for a 7mm hook and three balls of this gorgeous wool (this was overkill, I only needed 2 balls).

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It’s 70% wool 30% acrylic and fabulously cosy.

Making these up took three episodes of Outlander over two evenings. This is how they turned out:

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I am ridiculously, smugly, pleased with them and myself.

The pattern is very clever. It uses only single crochet so is very easy, but the way the uppers are shaped gives these a much better fit and neater appearance than most patterns.  Download here if you want to try.

Anyone else crochet? I constantly see knitting in my sewing blogfeed but rarely crochet, which bemuses me. Crochet is way quicker and vastly more satisfying IMO.

McCalls 6696 Shirtdress

I’m pretty pleased with this one.  Which is lucky, as it took me bloody ages.

I really like the Logue London shirtdresses. And I like the story behind the company.  The woman who started it was a banker at Morgan Stanley and couldn’t find anything to wear to work that was both bank-appropriate and yet not hideous.  So she designed her own.  Neat, huh?

So, to show my love for the company, I decided to rip off one of their designs.  This is what I was going for:

Logue London Emma dress

Logue London Emma dress

This is what I ended up with:

McCalls 6696 shirtdress

Kind of close, right?

I used McCalls 6696.  Quite a few people have made the gathered skirt version of this pattern, but it was Purls and Pleats straight skirt version (view D), which made me see beyond the hideous pattern cover.  I really like Sew Amy Sew’s bright red version too.

McCalls 6696

Logue London’s dresses are made of wool crepe and lined in silk, but there was no way I was going that luxurious/expensive for a first try.  Cotton poplin is more my speed.   This bottle green is from Minerva Crafts and I’m really happy with it.  I like the colour and it was lovely to sew. Aside: does anyone else have trouble with the colours on the Minerva website? They display very washed out for me.  And no, I don’t think it’s my monitor settings as I don’t have this problem on other websites.

The pattern comes with three different front bodice pieces for different cup sizes (A/B, C/D and D).  I originally cut the bodice in an 8C/D but it was pulling so I recut as an 8D, which fits nicely. This gave me a nice little ego boost, which was lucky as the skirt sizing swiftly put me back in my place.  My hip measurement put me at a 12 but as I wasn’t making a muslin, I cut a 14, expecting to have to take it in.  Depressingly, the 14 fits perfectly.  When did I turn into such a (literal) lard-ass?  I blame my job.

I was lucky to get such a good fit as this pattern is really tricky to fit as you go.  The button plackets aren’t added until almost the very end.  As they run from collar to hem, without them all fitting is just a guess.  Based on trying on the bodice at a fairly early stage, I lengthened the bust darts quite a lot and thought I had them in the right place.  Once the button plackets were on, I realised the original length was far better.  Luckily I could just unpick my addition, but the darts, although now a good length, are at least an inch too high.  It was too late to do anything about this by the time I realised.  I’ll change them on the next version but they don’t bother me much on this.

Like Purls and Pleats, I took some of the volume out of the back bodice piece.  I removed 1 inch from the centre back on the pattern, so a total of 2 inches from the bodice itself.  While this looks nice (there is none of the poofiness others have complained of), I might add half an inch back in on my next version, as it feels ever so slightly tight when I bring my arms forward.  I might raise the armscye a bit too.

My other major fitting tip–if you are grading out from the waist to the hip, you will need to change the shape of the pocket pieces.  With hindsight this should have been obvious, but because the pocket pieces are one size it didn’t occur to me and I had to re-cut them.

McCalls 6696 pocket pieces

I used the altered front skirt piece as a template to re-shape the two pocket pieces

IMAG1684 McCalls 6696 pocket re-shaping

In an attempt to copy the Logue London dress as closely as possibly, I originally made the view D sleeves as drafted, with the large cuffs.  They looked hideous.  I removed them swiftly, sadly so swiftly that I don’t have a photo of the ugliness.

I used a silver grey linen-y fabric on the inside cuff, which I thought would look so pretty and Logue-esque, but the cuffs were enormous and the silver only highlighted this.  They were also weirdly tight.  The sleeves did hit the widest part of my forearm, but I have what I would describe as scrawny chicken arms so either the pattern is very poorly drafted (in this one respect, everything else is great) or I did something wrong.  It might well be the latter, as I found it hard to understand how to attach the cuffs and ended up doing quite a lot of handstitching to camouflage what would otherwise have been a random bit of raw edge where the two ends of the cuff met.

Speaking of handstitching, there is lot in this pattern.  A lot.  No, really.  The back yoke shoulder seams, the waistband facing, the inner collar stand, the inner cuffs and the full length of both button plackets are all hand slip stitched.  Did I mention the button plackets run from collar to hem? I quite like handstitching, but beware those of you who don’t.  All that handstitching does give a gorgeous finish on the inside though.  Check this out:

McCalls 6696 inners

Pretty, right?

And now, my favourite part of this dress–the buttons!  I bought them from the Hampstead Button Lady (have you been to her shop? It’s amazing) after the buttons I bought online from Minerva turned out to be too small, too yellow and too plastic-y.  I don’t know what the Button Lady buttons are made of, maybe Bakelite or something?  They have an uneven texture, almost like they are hewn from granite (they’re not) and they are all slightly different.

button

 

I have worn this dress to work several times already.  I love it.  Although next time I will underline the skirt in something silky as it sticks to my tights.  Luckily summer and bare legs are coming.

McCalls 6696 shirtdress

Fabric shopping in Spain

What’s a holiday without some fabric shopping, right? I spent Easter with friends in Alicante, Spain. Rather than spending all of our time here:

The beach at El Campello

The beach at El Campello

I insisted we also spend time here:

Aladdin's Fabric Cave, or Julian Lopez fabrics, Alicante

Aladdin’s Fabric Cave, or Julian Lopez fabrics, Alicante

This place was amazing.  I didn’t have nearly enough time here.  The curse of non-sewing friends. Actually, I take that back, they were very patient with me, it’s just that I could happily have spent a good two days in here.

It was pricey, but the selection!  You know how Zara always has fabulous prints? Well, I think I found where they get them from.  Also, printed knits!  This is my face when I discovered this entire section of prints were all stretch fabrics

Happiness is printed knits

Happiness is printed knits

Just look at them all!

Prints! Stretchy ones!

Prints! Stretchy ones!

Long story short, I spent a fortune.  (82.98EUR.  But that’s only, like, 50GBP, right? right?).  And this is what I bought:

The sunshine made me do it

The sunshine made me do it

Not sure what I’m going to do with them yet, although I quite fancy the stretch woven white floral as capri pants.  Anyone have a good pattern?  The blue is a four-way stretch knit, which I think might be a t-shirt dress, but the insanely loud jungle knit is TBD.  I’ll think of something.

The shop is called Julian Lopez and they have branches in Albacete, Castellon, Madrid, Murcia, Sevilla, Valencia and Zaragoza, in addition to Alicante, for anyone planning a holiday to Spain.

Pleated semi-sheer tee–aka blatant idea theft

Pleated sheer tee

I love Fiona’s Pleated Voile Scout Tee. Love it.  So when the fabric I bought intending to make Simplicity 2444 turned out to be completely unsuitable for a dress, owing to the fact that it was completely see-through, my thoughts turned at once to Fiona’s tee.

Except that I had forgotten on whose blog I saw it and remembered only that it was a pleated version of the Scout Woven Tee.  Google Imaging “pleats scout woven tee” happily revealed not only Fiona’s version, but also Claire’s Happy Skulls Tee, which is equally amazing.

Now, if only I owned the Scout Woven Tee pattern…

However, I did not own the Scout pattern, and didn’t much want to buy it, so some ingenuity was required.  I used the Colette Sorbetto as a base.  I wanted pleats across the bust, so the bust dart had to go.  I pinned it together then cut straight up from the hem to the bust point to flatten out the pattern.  This meant an extra couple of inches were added to the width of the front piece at the hem.  I then chopped the new front pattern piece across just above the bust and spread it out just over a foot.

I cut the front section out very roughly, made 6 one inch horizontal pleats starting just over the bust and then re-cut to get an accurate piece.  The back section was just the Colette Sorbetto back without any alterations, except my usual addition of a couple of inches of length.

I french seamed the shoulders and faux french seamed the side seams.  I use faux french seams all the time.  I’m too lazy to muslin anything and faux french seams let you fiddle around with the fit while still getting a beautiful finish.  I took the side seams in by a good 4cms on each side in the end.

Faux french seams

Faux french seams

Self-bias neckline

Self-bias neckline

I bound the neckline with self-bias binding and would have been home and hosed, except I wanted sleeves.  Fiona and Claire had sleeves, and I wanted them too. As you may know, the Colette Sorbetto is sleeve-less.  What to do?

I decided to just use the Simplicity 2444 sleeve pattern.  This did not go well.

Attempt 1.  The sleeves insert like a dream.  I have never sewn such perfect sleeves.  I am overcome with smugness.  I try the top on and realise I cannot move my arms.

Attempt 2.  I reinsert the same sleeves with a 0.5cm seam allowance.  I try the top on and find I can move my arms somewhat.  Then I realise I have sewn one sleeve in inside out.

Attempt 3.  I reinsert the sleeve the right way round.  I make a hash of it.  There are puckers and pleats everywhere.  I decide I do not care.

Attempt 4.  I realise I do care, and also that only moving my arms somewhat is not really very satisfactory.  I completely recut the sleeves, using this tutorial to reshape them to have more ease at the back.  I am very very careful when inserting them and use a lot of pins.

 

Pins!

Pins!

The result?  Not bad.

Pleated tee

Pleated tee

I have a better range of movement, and the sleeves are set pretty smoothly.  Not as smoothly as Attempt 1, but not bad.  I’m still not entirely happy with the fit of the sleeves but am not sure what would improve it.  Reshaping the armscye? Adding still more ease at the back of the sleeve?  Cutting a larger size in the sleeve?  Any suggestions gratefully received.

Despite the less than perfect sleeves, I like this top very much.  It looks exactly as I pictured it in my head, which is always satisfying.  Isn’t the fabric beautiful?  It’s a Japanese 100% cotton lawn/voile (anyone know what the difference is?) and was lovely to sew.