Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The Birds of a Feather Top

Given that I spend 5/7 days of the week at work, I am always after more work-appropriate clothes I can wear into the office. I have a self-inflicted work uniform - suit, heels and a top - to make getting ready in the morning much easier. I haven't been brave enough to make my own suits yet, but I do like to sew up tops and blouses that I can wear with my suits. This pattern from the May issue of Burda magazine is just one example!

I have to admit the photos of the top in the magazine are not particularly inspiring - for some reason, they are all sewn in crisp fabrics, making the top look weirdly cheap and ill-fitting. I could see there was potential though if a drapey fabric was used, so I decided to give it a go in this bird-print crepe-textured polyester fabric I got from Spotlight a few years ago.
The details:
Fabric: Polyester crepe from Spotlight
Pattern: Bow tank #110 from the 05/17 issue of Burda 
Size: 38
Special touches and alterations: Used bias binding instead of facing for armholes and neckline

I picked the same size as the other burda tops I have made to date, and found the fit good. The back is nicely shaped with seams, while the fit on the front is very forgiving, and the shaping comes from tying the waist ties in, which cinch the waist. 
The main alteration I made was using bias binding to finish the armholes and neckline instead of the provided facing pieces (I hate facings!). The only problem was that I forgot to trim down the seam allowance to account for this, so the armholes are a tiny bit tight.
The back has an opening slit with a button at the top. I couldn't find a colour button I liked in my stash, so I found a nice round brown one and painted it red with nail polish! It worked well, but after a few washes it has started to peel a little around the edges. I'll see how it holds up, but I may need to repaint it down the track. I used a piece of elastic to make the button loop, which it turns out has enough give in it that I can get the top over my head without undoing the button!
I was a bit confused about how the ends of the waist ties were supposed to be finished (the open end on each tie after turning it inside out), and ended up just overlocking the inside edge. While this top could potentially be worn in two ways (ties tied to the front or the back) the way I finished my ties means the overlocking would be visible if I tied my ties to the back. I knew I wouldn't want to wear it that way, but it's something to think about if you want the versatility.
One thing I only noticed when looking through these photos is that the drape of the fabric when tied does cause some pointy sections at the apex because of the way the fabric folds. The fabric is almost forming itself into a dart! I don't think it's that obvious in real life, but certain angles seem to emphasise it.
I love this print because it looks geometric and abstract from a distance, but has cool little birds up close! The colours are very me and I've been getting a lot of wear from it. It looks great with jeans, and is a nice change to wear under a suit to work, as the ties distinguish it from most work tops I have.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The Fresh as a Daisy Set

I've already mentioned that the Cloth Habit Watson set was the pattern that inspired me to give lingerie making a go. I guess it would make sense then that the release of the Harriet bra was also what pushed my butt into gear to try my first underwire bra!

The yellow elastic with white lace look was one I'd seen around a few times, including in the Watson samples as well as another Harriet bra made by Closet Case files. I debated a few other color combinations but when I showed some quick illustrations to my boyfriend he was adamant white and yellow was the way to go!
The details:
Fabric: White lace from MintFrog (sold out) and cotton jersey from Lincraft, cup lining and powernet from Booby Traps
Notions: Strapping elastic, band elastic, underwire casing and hook and eye from Booby Traps, piping elastic from kimthayer, underwires from Lincraft, rings and sliders from sewingcraftnotions
Pattern: Harriet bra from Cloth Habit, Claudia briefs from Ohhh Lulu
Size: 30DD in the Harriet and M in the Claudia 
Special touches and alterations: Made view B in the bra and view A in the briefs. Moved side seams in the Claudia briefs backwards to account for not enough lace.

I had a few white laces in my stash, and ended up going with this one from MintFrog on Etsy (my favorite shop for lace!). I dyed the elastics, underwire casing and hook and eye with the Brilliant Yellow acid reactive dye from Dharma.
I usually wear an Australian 10D in bras, which translates to a 32D in European sizing. However, based on my measurements, I went with the 30DD in the Harriet pattern (which is consistent with the size note saying this pattern is designed to have a tighter band, so you may be a band size down and cup size up from usual). For reference, I measured 28.7" underbust, and 33.4" at my full bust, giving me a 4.7" difference between full bust and underbust. I rounded up the 28.7" to a 30 band size, and the 4.7" to a DD cup size.
I had purchased a few different sizes of underwire from Lincraft, which are labeled by Australian bra size rather than wire size. The didn't have a full range so I went by sister sizing to get a few more options, and ended up feeling most comfortable in a 14C, which would translate to a 30E in sister sizing, or a 38 size wire. I had speculated that I have a broad but less projected shape than bras usually design for, so it made sense that I would feel comfortable in a larger wire size than usual for my measurements.

Given the 30DD is designed to take a 36 wire, which is just one size down from what I had, I decided to risk it without doing any further adjustments to the pattern. This seemed to work fine - the wire still fit into the wireline nicely, but just splayed a teeny bit more than a 36 wire would I think.
I cut the cups and bridge from lace with a beige cup lining, and used powermesh for the band. After sewing it all together, I was surprised to find the fit was great! The only problem was some excess fabric in the upper cups, which you can just see in some of these photos (although I also have pads in for modesty in the photos, which might help fill out the bra a tiny bit more than usual!). As you may have seen, I fixed this problem with my second Harriet bra by taking a wedge out of the cup to decrease the volume.

I decided to make a matching set of briefs using the Claudia pattern from Ohhh Lulu. I didn't have a lot of the lace left, so I shifted the side seams backwards so that there was a greater proportion of the solid fabric than the lace. Other than that I sewed them up as usual and have to say they are surprisingly comfortable! The cotton jersey I used on the front doesn't have great recovery, but I haven't found this to be too much of a problem as the stretch lace seems to make up for this and keep things tight and in place.

So that's my second Cloth Habit/Ohhh Lulu success story! And I can't wait to fill my lingerie drawer with many more :)

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

The Botanical Blues Dress

When I first started sewing, I was obsessed with trawling through op shops to find fabrics, patterns and other notions. In those early days I picked up a fair bit of rubbish which has since been re-donated, but this little piece of fabric has survived in my stash for almost 8 years, waiting for the perfect project. The large scale floral print really appealed to me and reminded me of a cover of a book I had as a kid.

After making my first Myrtle dress a little while ago, I thought I would like to attempt it again, since the fit on the first one wasn't quite right. This fabric popped into mind and I thought it was finally time to sew it up!
The details:
Fabric: Op-shop navy scuba-like knit with a large floral print
Pattern: Colette Myrtle
Size: S
Special touches and alterations: Added 1cm to bodice length above armhole and 3.5cm to length below armhole. Added 4cm to the hem. Had to add center back seam to bodice and take a small wedge out of the front of the skirt due to fabric restrictions.

The fabric is a thick knit, it has a spongy feel and is almost scuba-like. I didn't have a huge piece of it, so had to be careful with my cutting, and ended up adding a center back seam to the bodice and taking a bit of volume out of the front of the skirt piece so it would fit on my fabric! With the fabric limitations I wasn't able to do any pattern matching, but I probably wouldn't bother too much with this sort of print anyway. It worked out well and I particularly like the "wreath" effect that happened on the back of the bodice, which was completely unintentional! The insides were finished with my overlocker, and I used a twin needle on the hem (which did insist on "tunneling" - I think I need to try some wash-away stabiliser to fix this next time!).
After having made the pattern up the first time, I knew I needed to add some more length to the bodice both above and below the underarm. The first time I made this pattern I added 2.5cm to the bodice length (which I seem to have neglected to mention in my notes for that post, whoops!) so this time around I added an extra 1cm, plus 1cm above the underarm. Although I had found the waist a bit tight in my last version, given this time I was sewing with a knit I decided to risk not adding any more room there, and that seems to have worked out fine. If I were to make this in a woven again I would definitely add to the bodice side seams though!
I think I may have gone too far with this version and that the bodice is too long, although I don't mind the slightly blousey look. I would usually wear this with a belt but wanted to show the elastic waist here for your reference. The only other thing I would note with this pattern is to be careful when leaning over - I found when I did that the cowl draped down and provided a view all the way to my belly-button from a particular angle!!
I really like the end result and have been wearing it with tights while the weather here in Melbourne is still more winter than spring. While the fabric is on the thicker side, I think I'll be able to keep wearing it into spring with bare legs!