Saturday, 23 January 2016

Zebra Print for Jungle January

This year I have garnered my inspiration for Jungle January  from the savannah rather than the jungle. I think the only requirement is that the garment be made from an animal print, not necessarily from the jungle, and who doesn't love a zebra print.

I found this lovely zebra print in a poly/spandex knit on a recent trip to Spotlight. I actually made a top from this very fabric a couple years ago, so I was quite excited to find the fabric again. I loved the top but it was just too tight and is no longer in my wardrobe.

I used the Named Clothing Kielo Wrap Dress pattern for this dress which I have made before here. However I did make some changes. Inspiration came from Anne Whalley on Pattern Review.

The dress was shortened to just above the knee and the ties were left off completely. This allows the wings to drape loosely at the sides, creating a loose fitting, yet stylish dress.

I found the drapes did need a little bit of arranging to sit nicely. I sort of turned the corners back in on themselves, telescoping the drape rather than leaving them as flaps. Hope that made sense, it is rather hard to explain.

I also lowered the bust darts by about an inch which put them in the correct place for my body. The neckline was also lowered and the neckline and armholes were finished off with a self fabric band. This is a very comfortable dress and I think it suits my rectangular shape so much better than the wrap style of the original pattern. How is your Jungle January sewing going? I'll leave you with my inspiration picture.

Happy Sewing

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Colette Mabel Skirt & a repeat of the Style Arc Esme Top.

Colette Mabel skirt worn with Style Arc Ann T-Top. The denim jacket is RTW.

I have made the Mabel skirt from Colette Patterns several times before... see here and here, although I have not been completely happy with the fit until now. This is a great pattern for a simple knit skirt, but I have found it does need a little tweaking, depending on the fabric used. The stretch factor of different knits can vary so much.

This fabric was originally bought with the Style Arc Esme Designer Knit Top in mind. It is a gorgeous printed scuba knit that I purchased from Spotlight a while ago. It just screamed casual summer to me...specially when combined with white. I did make the Style Arc Esme Top and I managed to eke out the Mabel skirt from the left overs as well.

I made version 1, without the design seam lines on the front, and lengthened it considerably. I had planned to add the kick pleat at the back, but the amount of fabric I had left did not stretch quite that far. Instead, I created a split in the centre back, for walking ease. This seam was pressed open and then the seam allowances were top stitched down. I find scuba knit to be very springy and hard to get to lie flat, but this worked a treat. I used some left over white cotton lycra from the T Shirt to line the waistband.

Instead of just rushing ahead with this one, I decided to take my time and work on getting the fit more to my liking. I machine basted the side seams several times before I was happy with the shape. From memory, I pegged the skirt in a little from around the hip line down to the hem, to create a little more of a curve. My body is rectangular in shape, so benefits from any added curves. I also added elastic to the waistline, as I find it slips down without it. The hem was hand sewn.

Don't mind the snoozing dog.

Now onto the Style Arc Esme Designer Knit Top that was the original reason I bought this fabric.

 This is the second time I have made this top. The first one was made in a ponte knit which sewed up beautifully. This time I used this printed scuba knit. The scuba knit was not as well behaved as the ponte and I did have to unpick and redo a few bits, so overall it was a bit more fiddly to sew.

I kept the pattern pieces exactly the same as my first Esme, including the length alteration, as I was happy with the fit the first time around.

Again, I have paired it with white. This fabric combination just looks so fresh and summery to me. These denim pants are RTW purchased from Rockmans a few years ago. As my 23 year old daughter was taking these photos for me, she made the comment that "Mother's look good in white pants". I questioned why she thought that and her reply was that "she could never keep white pants clean". I thought that was quite if mothers have some super power to keep their white pants clean...I actually find it a struggle.

The collar was cut on the bias and sits beautifully in the scuba knit, just as it did in the ponte. Don't try and skimp on fabric to cut this on the straight grain. I don't think it would sit nearly as nicely as it does on the bias.

I had a bit of trouble getting the collar points to look as good as the ones in the ponte, but they are not too bad. I had picked this side to be the one I wanted to show as it looked the best, but I somehow got confused and sewed it on inside out. Glad I persevered and unpicked it, and resewed it on the right way. 

Both these garments were sewn during my Christmas/New Year break from work. In fact, I could have called it a Sewcation. I don't think I will ever wear this top and skirt together though...far too matchy matchy. What do you think?

Happy Sewing

Friday, 15 January 2016

A Style Arc Ginger Knit Top for Jungle January

There's nothing like an animal print and a loose fitting top to camouflage those extra few pounds that have crept on over the festive season.

I managed to whip this top up over a couple of evenings during my first week back at work, and wore it to work on Friday with my Style Arc Barb Pants. I have made this top once before here, so it seemed easier the second time around.

Style Arc Ginger Knit Top

This top is really quite a simple, yet stylish design. The front shoulder pleats and the cross over wrap create a flattering fit, and the top works well with pants and would look great with a slim fitting skirt too.

The fabric is a gorgeous jersey purchased from Style Arc a while ago. It is very good quality with a lovely drape...perfect for this pattern.

There are only three pattern pieces: front, back and back neck binding. The back is the full pattern piece so it can be cut out in a single layer. You are supposed to cut one pair of the front piece, but I found this pattern piece was too wide to cut on a double layer (fabric folded in half), so I had to cut it out on a single layer too, carefully remembering to flip the pattern piece over so that I was cutting a pair, and not two identical pieces.

The wrong side of the fabric does peek out a little at the front hemline when standing a certain way. This was a huge issue with my first version and I had to remove a large wedge of fabric from the under layer to stop this occurring. I made this version exactly as per the instructions and have not had a problem, so I don't know what I did wrong with the first one.

The print was quite a large design and I was concerned with positioning the pattern evenly over the top. I didn't have a lot of fabric to play with so I spent quite a bit of time playing around with the positioning of the pattern pieces before cutting out.

I am really pleased with how this turned out and I am glad I spent that extra time at the beginning of the project. It would have looked terrible if the same large pattern motifs had been placed side by side.

The hems were all sewn with a very narrow zig zag stitch because I was being lazy and couldn't be bothered setting up the twin needle. They all look fine and have enough stretch to prevent the thread from breaking.

This is actually my second Jungle January item sewn this month. The first is yet to be photographed...hopefully this weekend. It features a zebra print. Have you sewn something up for Jungle January yet?

Happy Sewing

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

A Rainbow Style Arc Twiggy Dress

Continuing my love affair with Style Arc patterns, I have tried the Twiggy Dress and I have not been disappointed. Hot off the sewing machine, I wore this to work yesterday, my first day back after the Christmas/New Year break. This was a lovely bright dress to cheer me up as my holiday came to an end.

Style Arc Twiggy Dress

The pattern had  a few details that I thought were unnecessary and only made the construction of the dress a little more complicated, with out really adding anything to the look. I eliminated the side zip and the button closure on the back yoke. The back yoke was cut as one piece like the front yoke and the neck opening is plenty wide enough for the dress to slip on and off quite easily.

The print caught my eye as soon as I laid eyes on it at Spotlight in Queanbeyan. It is a scuba knit and the black contrast is a ponte knit purchased from Knitwit.

I cut a size 12 which is my usual Style Arc size. I found the fit to be a little loose and I ended up running the side seams in a little to get a better fit. Next time I will take in the princess seams at the back for a little more shaping there too. The seam allowances were all top stitched down to get them to lay nice and flat. The scuba knit is quite springy and doesn't hold a press very well.

The neckline and sleeves are finished off with separate two piece, interfaced, shaped bands. Constructing the bands was probably the most fiddly and time consuming part of making the whole dress. However, they sit very well and add a nice quality finish to the dress.

The photo above shows the bands a little clearer. It is quite difficult to photograph details in black. I turned the hem up 3cm and stitched down with a twin needle as I thought this finish looked good with all the other top stitching on the dress. My mind has been racing with more colour blocking ideas for this dress, so expect to see another one in the not too distant future.

I got a few lovely compliments on my rainbow dress from my work colleagues and also one from a complete stranger I passed in the carpark at the shops. There is nothing better than that feeling, when you get to say "and I made it myself".

Wishing everyone a successful and joyful sewing year ahead.