Thursday, 9 August 2018

Colette Mabel miniskirt x 2 and a bonus tank top comparison

I went to work one nightshift, and in the middle of the shift realised the thing missing in my life was a miniskirt.  The Mabel Colette miniskirt.  Because, like everyone before me, though I know I could draft my own or muddle my way through, the interests of a well fitting miniskirt in 1 hour flat trumped any interest I had in the self-drafting learning process.

So two days later I had two miniskirts!

First of all I took that pattern home and decided to sew the size S, based on my hips.  I shortened the version B by a few inches - making it 19" long.  The version A is supposed to be 17" long.  I removed the kick pleat.  This is a lovely purple stretchy merino with a funny texture that almost looks felted, which I have had around for a long time and really adore.  I'm happy to finally be using it.  The skirt turned out way too big though, hanging on my hips pretty loosely.  I also used a zig zag that was pretty loose and so my stitches came undone rapidly.

Version two is view A, size XS, and in a funny merino that is smooth faced with a terry like interior that is scratchy.  It is a blend with some poly and retains its shape well.  It is the perfect miniskirt, and I'm hoping the scratchiness will go away with time.  Despite that I have worn it a lot!  I've worn the other one too even though it was big, but I plan to take off the waistband and take it in when I can get to the overlocker.

The pictures of Skirt 2 are with a bonus Deer & Doe Givre tank top.  It's a size 36 at the bust sloping to a 38, and other than needing a little scoop out of the armscye it fits great.  I was comparing it to the Patterns for Pirates Essential tank, though I know they have quite different shapes I was curious how they would compare.

The P4P top is a size XS.  I shortened it by 2 inches but kept the shape of the hem.  I made these two tops too fast, and so the hems are not done very well.  That bothers me a lot.  The shape of this tank top is otherwise really nice and I like the racerback.  Probably it's good to have both some racerback tops and some plain tops in my wardrobe.  I also find the Mission Maxi tanktop to be a perennial favourite (that's what the jungle plant top is, above). 

A Review: True Bias Hudson Pants

My sewing friend Tessa went crazy over Hudson pants.  I tried to talk her into making Anima pants since I am basically a specialist in them (see here, here and here) but something about the Hudsons had stuck in her brain.  So of course like the lemming I am, I decided that I had to do a comparison test and see why Hudsons have gained a cult following.

Size 4.  (I'm 5'4" and 27-37)
Fabric is Charley Harper organic cotton from Ugh Spotlight, and the bands are a merino wool ribbing blend by Helmut Lang which I bought at The Fabric Store last year, snagging the last 30 cm piece.  That's why I went with such a dull main colour - I wanted something to go with these bands, and the organic cotton is so soft and snuggly.

Well, making the pants is nothing special.
I skipped the drawstring.

Overall, I found the fit very different from the Anima pants.

The Anima: is very long; I remove 10 cm usually.  It has a fake fly (wtf?) and the pockets are the usual fold over types which can bag out.  They are pretty high waisted and are otherwise loose around the bum and hips.  In the Anima I've been making the XXS though it took a few tries to settle on that and stick with it.  I have permanently removed a 1 cm wedge from the front waist which makes them slope down so the waist isn't quite so high, but I'd call the fit easy - they go pretty close to the natural waist.

The Hudson: has a modern, low waistband which is thicker than the Anima.  It sits low.  I would be tempted to add an inch of raise to the back to accommodate my amazingly muscular bum.  In fact I could add that inch all the way around.  The pockets are lovely and I like the addition of the bands on the pockets, which adds heft.  The pocket construction means they won't flap out.  The fit through the bum and hips is snug.  These are short.  I didn't modify the length at all, and I think I'd prefer another inch of raise...because they are so short that if I bend my knee I feel it pulling down the waistband.

I think the Anima pants are awesome loungepants.  But the Hudson pants actually if you made them in the right material, you could wear out of the house.  I guess that's why they've become so popular.  I like them despite my dedication to Papercut patterns. 

Friday, 20 July 2018

Ida clutch binge

Around the time I discovered Kylie and the Machine and her lovely cheeky labels, I found her free Ida pattern and printed it out.  I needed something to push me to actually start making bags instead of clothes...and the Ogden-Ida swap was just the thing, so I signed up!

While I was in Seattle I picked up a pigskin at MacPherson's, the local leather dealer (sorry vegans!)  I wanted something lightweight and easy to work with and this colour just sang to me so I went with it.  It was about 30 dollars for the skin.

From it I got 3 Ida clutches, one oversized Ida yarn-bag, and one undersized Ida wallet-purse.
I have some scraps left over but I have no more desire to sew pigskin for awhile.
However I think I have mastered this pattern!!

The clutches went to: my Ida Ogden exchange partner, my sewing friend Tessa, and my friend Tina who was leaving on a trip to Switzerland. 

Learning curve pearls:
snaps are fine, but magnetic snaps are better.  A normal snap pulls at the fabric itself when you try to open it.  The magnetic snaps are easy to apply and don't pull as hard.  I had 2 magnetic snaps from Seattle and bought normal snaps locally to compare.

All the zips were from my stash, and the normal sized clutch zips were all Riri from Switzerland so they are really nice.  Pretty amazing that I had that many zips in the right size!  The big one for me was a plastic one, and the small one for me I actually bought in order to choose nice coordinating colours.

The scales-lining is Liberty tana lawn.  I forget the name.

This was really fun and such a great way to get comfortable making bags.  To make the yarn bag I basically did an FBA.  I cut the pattern in half both horizontally and vertically and increased each one and then smoothed out the curve of the top.    I added a little strap made of a single strip of pigskin.  I should have taken that more seriously and either quilted it or doubled it because it feels frail compared to the rest of the bag - but I've been using this for my knitting and adoring it so much that when pink hazel sold out of bags in 3 minutes at her last upload, I didn't cry.  Luckily knitting is not heavy so I think the strap will be fine.

When I made my little wallet purse I shrunk it with a similar technique to the knitting bag.  I decreased the height and I shrunk it across, but a few inches away from midline, and then redrew the curve back up to the same centre point.  And this time I braided a strap for it.
I also added a totally ridiculous piece of coral elastic to double around it.  It's totally for fashion but I like the additional tactile element.  

My wallet purse.  It fits a wallet, phone and keys

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Jalie 3248 - Drop pocket Cardigan

This pattern was totally a spontaneous make.  My sewing friend Tessa has just Discovered Jalie, as one does.  So I have Rediscovered Jalie!  I was browsing something and this pattern totally caught my eye because of the crazy pocket action.  I bought it pretty much that minute, printed it within the day at the print shop, and started sewing with a piece of fabric that I had been planning to use for a tshirt.

This was a much better idea than yet another merino tshirt!  The fabric is from Merino Heaven - my name for a cluster of shops in Otara in south Auckland.  Merino in this little cul-de-sac goes for about 8 dollars/meter, making it worth the helldrive to Auckland.

I cut a size R based on my measurements.  I am happy with this size. I am a bust 32 and waist 27, but with wide shoulders and a muscular back and upper arms.

I read through a few reviews, but there are a LOT of reviews, and most of them are the annoying type that just say they love the pattern and it's so cool and they want to make 5 more.  So I didn't read too many and I didn't think too far ahead and I didn't consider shortening the pattern.

The instructions are sufficient but not wordy.  Construction is ingenious.  I do not recommend sewing this on a normal machine, as I did.  I think too many of the seams need to stretch well, and of course I used a straight stitch.  I have indeed discovered the uses of a zig zag but I still don't always feel like it's as strong.  Since in the front you functionally have 4 layers of fabric, a lot of weight hangs on your stitching.

I lost the very first piece - the neck binding, and made another one from whatever was handy, and now I really like the contrast.

This took two separate sewing episodes, but mainly because on night shift I sometimes sew when I should be sleeping and I was smart enough to stop before I made any mistakes.  I wore it to work right after finishing it.

What people didn't bother to mention in those reviews: this cardigan covers your back very fully.  It does have slim fitted sleeves that will go well over a tank top but not a tshirt.  And the front goes to about the nipple line.  You could certainly pull the front more closely together, but that's not how it hangs - it's made to hang open and the pockets are quite far away from center.  My instinct is that it should be lots shorter so that I can easily access and put things in the pockets.  However I see that the line of the cardigan looks good long.  If I made it again I'd be tempted to shorten it.  As it is, I wouldn't put heavy things in the pockets because they seem far away, like the entire cardi half would then pull away from my body and things would fall out of the pockets.  But they are spacious.

Everyone else really likes it on me.  I have been on the fence about it.  But I do like the look and I think it will go with a lot of my wardrobe.  

Monday, 9 July 2018

Halfmoon Atelier Tofo Jumpsuit

I was a pattern tester for this pattern, which is the most intricate that Meghann Halfmoon has put out so far.  Here is the pattern - there's a discount on until 9 July.

It was a really fun surprise to make up the jumpsuit.  Initially I was suspicious because things without straps don't generally fit me.  Unlike everyone else my high bust is larger than my full bust, but it's because of my back muscles.  Everything usually just falls down.

The jumpsuit does have straps, which go on with buttons and can be adjusted in length or crossed in the back.  I didn't put the straps on because I didn't have access to a buttonholer at the right moment!  The top has a yoke front which comes up quite high, gathers below the yoke and a bloused shape.  The back has a facing with 2" elastic in it, which creates the pull that holds the bodice on and is really secure due to the high front.  The pockets are generous and there is a tie belt with belt loops which I suppose is all optional if you wanted to skip that part.

I cut a size 3 which has been consistent for me across all of Halfmoon Atelier patterns.  I think that if you are long waisted you might want to lengthen the drop in the crotch, because it fit me perfectly.  On basically all RTW the crotch is way too low for me.  The bodice fit really well and bloused nicely, so yet again if you have a long torso you might want to lengthen it.  The bodice is pretty adjustable, in the sense that you can wear it higher or lower as you desire but I preferred to have the yoke up high to give me a feeling of security.

The fabric is rayon which was perfect - drapey but well behaved.

yay i match the balcony!

This was a really exciting pattern to see come together!  Since the temperatures here have dropped I might not be wearing it until spring but it's the first strapless item I think I've ever considered wearing out of the house, and the instructions were meticulous.  The aesthetic is unique and fun and I'm already thinking of making a top using this pattern.  

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Halfmoon Atelier Wells bikini, pattern testing & results

It's finally here!  The Well's Bikini pattern is out.  You can get a discount if you buy it in the next week.

I'm not sure how other people go about pattern testing.  I find it somewhat stressful because you are sewing with a deadline, and also very educational because it pushes me to make one item multiple times and focus on how to make it well.  I love the aesthetic behind Halfmoon Atelier and getting the chance to watch it develop and see behind the scenes.  I was really pleased when I realised that I had enough access to sewing machines to be able to test this bikini - and since I'm surfing I really tested these bikinis a lot!  They've been worn weekly for months now and are still holding up.

My first version is a size 3, which matches my measurements (33-27-37), with a size 4 front bodice.  Anyone with a chest larger than a B cup should probably size up just the front bodice piece.  I found the bottoms to fit perfectly with no adjustments, and they are my favourites of all the bikini bottoms I've sewn.  The clean finish is puzzling the first time around - I think a little video might be made to help out with that - but it's really worth it.  In terms of sewing the bottom without a serger, it works out fine using a zig zag, except on the waistband piece.  Just using one waistband piece and folding it over is better because then there isn't a horizontal seam at the waist which can pull.  I luckily had access to a serger and so I tested this on various seams, first straight stitching and then serging the edges for support.  The seam of the two waistbands for the reversible version is a weak point if you can't serge it.

The top is super minimal.  It's important to pay attention to the length of the shoulder straps to ensure they suit you as they are not adjustable once you sew them in.  Other than that it's a pretty easy make!  I surfed in this right away and found it comfortable under a wetsuit.  My general requirements of swimwear is that it's minimal, doesn't have underwires or things that stick out, and looks ok under clothes.  Other people probably have different requirements...I do not (often) swim, and I very seldom sit on beaches or lounge about in my togs.  This top would probably hold up for swimming but I haven't tested it in rough surf.

For my second one I went ahead with some changes.  I made it halter neck, and I added elastic just above the bottom SA of the flowered side only for the front bodice.  An option to add elastic has now been provided and it does increase the security of the top - you can now add elastic both above and below the bust, but I only put it in the bottom of the suit under the bust.  (I made a third version with the elastic but it looks JUST LIKE THE FIRST ONE so I won't bore you.)  I was not planning to ever reverse it so I also just used the one waistband instead of two, so I could sew the entire bottom on a normal sewing machine.

 I don't like the halter neck version as well.  I find that it compresses my chest a lot more and somehow has less boob room.  The pull from the halter doesn't balance the back tie quite as nicely.  I also discovered that the single foldover waistband ended up lower, possibly because I overlocked the double waistband and therefore used less than a 5/8" seam allowance. 

Fabric:  I did indeed have enough confidence to go right ahead with this Liberty of London swimsuit fabric, from The Fabric Store.  It's great.  The honeycomb coloured lining that I got to use with it is very tacky and malleable and generally crap to sew, but feels good on.  The black lining is stuff I've bought online and have had for awhile and is extremely solid, slippery and dense.  I expected the black/dark suit to be tighter, but it's not - the material of the pink suit really sticks to me nicely. In fact I don't love my changes.  I don't think I would make the halter neck again. 

This pattern was made to be minimal and not require special supplies.  That's why you can use strips of the fabric itself instead of elastic, and the back ties.  But since I surf all winter, including at times when I can't feel my hands afterwards, I plan to use swimsuit clips for this suit in future to make it easier to untie. 

All versions of the suit that I tested were active tester versions, and some very small changes have been made since then including increasing the coverage of the bum a bit, and lengthening the shoulder straps.  I had such a fun time testing this suit and I'm pretty happy with my new collection.  I've been wearing them 3-4 days a week while surfing since I started pattern testing in March, and can just say that it is really better to use an overlocker, but if you don't have one, then use a strong zig-zag.  Stitches that I couldn't support with an overlocker have definitely pulled and snapped with time. 

The bottom comes with the option to make knickers as well and I'm sure I'll do that eventually, because I really love the fit.