Wednesday, January 18, 2017

MBM - Style Arc Rae Tunic

First of all, thanks for those of you who answered my plaintive cry for pointers as to how to jazz up the design of this blog for 2017. I now have a few leads that I hope to follow up in the coming weeks. Again, thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, and... watch this space.

On to the sewing...

One of the many things I like about sewing Style Arc patterns is the “buy one, get one free” pattern buying policy they have. Sure, the “free” pattern offered isn’t always to my taste, even when Style Arc offers a choice. I’ve been known to hold off on a pattern purchase to see whether the patterns offered in the following month suit me better. Anyway, I do have Style Arc patterns that I’ll probably never make up, but by the same token, patterns come in the front door that I probably would never have considered, but should have.
The Rae tunic, which was the free pattern for November is an example.

Super easy tunic top with fashionable split sleeveI purchased Adeline, and chose Rae, as my free pattern with no real intention of making it. By the time I received it though I’d been invited to a barbecue with a black-and-white theme, and the Rae struck me as perfect barbecue attire, and easy enough to sew up quickly.

Here's the Style Arc blurb:

The curved hemline and the, so popular, split sleeve give this great tunic top an easy, casual look. Simple to make with an all in one sleeve and body, this tunic will become your go to top to wear for all occasions

I really had to make something, too, as I have very little black or white, and no black-and-white in my wardrobe. I just don’t think I look that good in either. I have one pair of black bengaline pants, and a pair of RTW white linen pants, seen in the photos. I also have a long sleeve and sleeveless Granville, both in off white, which wouldn’t really work for a backyard barbie. Apart from that, nothing.

I purchased this dandelion print rayon at Spotlight. Love the print. Yes, I know, I moan about Spotlight frequently, but I have no other fabric store  choice locally!  I always live in hope that this time it will be ok, and sometimes it is. Fingers crossed with this one.
The Rae is a really easy sew. The cold shoulder thing is simply a split seam, so if cold shoulders aren’t your thing, you just have to sew the seam closed.
I made absolutely no changes to this pattern which is not that usual for me, and it fits ok.
This is the fourth split curved hem  I’ve sewn this year, which you don't really see in these photos - sorry.  Luckily I like them a lot.

I wore the Rae with the white linen pants, and it was perfect for the barbie on a bit of stinking hot day (and how many of them have we had so far this year? This morning it was 31C at 6am for crying out loud! I’m a bit over summer). And for once, I am wearing a trend when it's trendy, and not 2 years later which is my usual style.

Friday, January 13, 2017

2017 sewing resolutions

At this time of year, I enjoy reading yearly sewing Roundups, and resolutions people have for their sewing in the New Year.
I’ve done Roundups in the past, but as 2016 was such a patchy year sewing-wise, I’ll pass this year. Suffice to say I made some things I liked a lot – Paprika Patterns Jasper, for example – and I had some big fat fails, most unblogged. Swings and roundabouts.

As for resolutions, I’ve decided to declare two:Trendy jean, denim or woven jacket

1.      I will make a Style Arc Stacie Jean Jacket this year.

This project has been hovering in the queue for years. There’s something about this project that intimidates me into procrastination though. I don’t know why. The need is there – my 15 year old RTW jacket has faded to almost silver, and is fraying around the collar and cuffs.
I have the pattern. I have the perfect denim. I have the buttons. I have everything but the courage.
I will definitely have to ask my mother if I can borrow her machine, so I can have one machine threaded up for topstitching. Switching back and forth would mess with my head far too much.
So there’s a declaration of intent that I hope will make me accountable. Watch this space.

2.     Jazz up my blog design.

My off-the shelf blogger template blog design is so boring, it bores even me.
Over the four years of life of this blog, I’ve attempted to address this at various times, but as someone with zero computer design skills, these attempts have come to nothing.
I don’t want a particularly fancy blog design – a nice header might be good for a start.
I’ve asked computer nerds of my acquaintance (all men) for advice and they look at me blankly. I’ve tried to pick the brains of a professional  web designer, and even offered them money, but they weren’t interested in working with me on my tiny little blog. I’ve googled and YouTubed and found some guides to working with blogger layout (do this,’s easy!) but not easy enough for me.

So I’m putting it out there…someone…anyone…is there any advice out there for someone who wants to jazz up there blog, but doesn’t have the skills to do it. As I indicated, I’m even prepared to pay to have someone do it. Just how is the question.

I normally don't make resolutions, but these two projects have been hovering around the to do list for so long, I thought it might work to make them resolutions. I hope by the end of 2017, I can tick them off as DONE!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

MBM - Style Arc Adeline

When I saw Style Arc’s Adeline pattern on its release last year, I pegged it immediately as the ideal candidate for a Christmas dress.  With a lack of waist definition, it is Christmas lunch friendly, and loose enough to withstand inevitable Christmas Day heat in comfort.
I chose some linen I had in the stash bought from Tessuti online about 2 years ago.
This was what Tessuti called Wainscot linen, and the colour was described on the website as “Indigo”. On the monitor it looked to be a mid-dark blue.   Well, indigo turned out to be more sky blue than I bargained for, so the pants I had planned got shelved. Fortunately, though, to me there is no such thing as bad linen, so I knew that if the fabric just marinated in the stash for a while, I would eventually find some use for it. This was just one of many surprises I’ve had with purchasing linen online.
I made Adeline pretty much as is out of the packet, except I added 3cm in length because frankly,  I don’t like showing my kneecaps to the world.  And I blatantly ripped off Lara’s idea, and trimmed the pockets with selvedge because the selvedge was prettily multi-coloured, so it seemed rude not to.

I had ideas of doing flat fell seams for the shoulder and centre back  seam, but was running out of time so did plain vanilla ones instead. I normally love a centre back seam to help me address my swayback, but in this case I just sewed it up as drafted, and am not sorry I did.

I like the pronounced high/low thing happening at the hemline. Although the dress has a cocoon shape, it’s not so much that it inhibits normal walking. If it did, it would be a “fail” in my book – who needs a dress that you can’t walk naturally in?

Anyway, I really like how this dressed turned out. It did it’s job on Christmas Day admirably, and garnered an admiring comment from one of my fashion conscious sisters-in-law. So, yes, a  win there.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

MBM - Liesl + Co Gallery Tunic

First of all, Happy 2017.
Well! That was a long and unexpected blog hiatus!
After my last post in July, life got exceptionally busy. Sewing slowed to a trickle, blogging stopped dead.
Two reasons:  First, I started working longer hours. On top of that, most of my remaining  spare time was sucked into an activity vortex known as house building, so I was spending vast slabs of my weekends traipsing around stores doing things like picking carpets, tiles, furniture, and countless other tiny details for the house. The house that I mentioned that we were going to build in 2015, in my 2014 wrap up post.The house that didn’t start to be built  until 2016, thanks to a crazy bush fire rating, and a LOT of toing and froing with the local council which took up 2015.  As I write this at the beginning of 2017, I can say it’s finally finished! Yippee!
The house building process was time consuming, as well as exciting and exhausting by turns. We had the good fortune to have a great local builder working on our house, so we managed to avoid the horror stories that you sometimes hear. We’re really happy with how the house has turned out, and we’ve had lots of positive comments from locals as they walk past.
But now, I’m ecstatic to get back to normal life, including my sewing  and blogging life.

I made this top, Liesl + Co Gallery Tunic, a few months ago and it’s already had some good wear. This top is perfect for work. In my job, I’m out in the sun often so appreciate a top that offers a bit of skin coverage on the arms, but is loose and comfortable enough to deal with heat and humidity. Gallery ticks those boxes.
I came across the printed version of this pattern in a quilting shop in a town about an hour away from my house back in September. On the  journey home,  I stopped at the local Spotlight and purchased this crinkle rayon, and that night I was cutting and sewing. Believe me, that’s a first.  Normally projects spend time getting shuffled around a queue before I finally get down to them.

What am I looking up at? Search me

I’ve made a few Liesl + Co patterns now. My experience with them is that they have a great draft and instructions, and the Gallery tunic is no exception. Plackets are a source of nervousness for me, but this placket turned out exactly as I’d hoped, given the very clear instructions.
I made my standard alterations: 1”FBA and a 1” full bicep adjustment. The rest is as it is out of the packet. The depth of the placket is a bit lower than I’d normally wear, but not scandalously so.
My only beef I have with this project  is that the Spotlight rayon I’ve used is already looking a bit sad  and faded , after only a few months wear. Disappointing!  And so continues my ambivalent relationship with Spotlight - I appreciate this store exists, especially in the local regional town, but I've had so many disappointments with their fabrics that I just don't have high expectations any more.

So, the blogging ice is broken. I have a number of projects that I’ve had photographed, so hopefully it won’t be another six months  before I post again.

Friday, July 8, 2016

MBM - Style Arc Elita Designer Top

This Style Arc Elita Designer Top is made in a ponti bought from Tessuti excavated from the middle layers of the stash.
This is one of those makes that gives a lot of gratification for small amount of effort. Seriously, from start to finish this top probably took about 3 hours tops. There are only four pattern pieces. Making it in ponti means no seam finishing is needed, and the edges are drafted to be left raw. I did as I was told with the ponti, although if I was making it in a softer, drapier knit, I would probably finish the edges.
The twisted collar thingy looks more complicated than it is – it really is easy peasy.
This is what it looks like as drafted. 

It looks quite good “left hanging”, if you were inclined to do so, too.

This is my normal Size 12 in Style Arc. The only alteration I made is to add 2.5cm to the bicep and 1.5cm to the elbow.

The only quibble I have with this pattern is the "interesting back neck shape" as shown in the Style Arc line drawing.

This is how is looks in real life - it kind of scrunches up, so you lose the effect of the "interesting back neck shape". Maybe that is what the designer intended, I don't know.

This is one of those straightforward sews about which  there isn’t all that much to say. I like it a lot. I’m confident I’ll wear it a lot. It’s easy. And comfortable. Win, win, win, win. It would be so cosy in a soft merino knit, so I am planning on a second version, if not this winter then next.... 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

MBM - Style Arc Avery

The Avery Tunic Top was one of Style Arc’s freebie patterns for May. I thought it was quite a nice pattern, and would probably get made at some stage, sometime, someway, but not straight away, when I chose it.
Anyway, between placing my order, and the pattern plunking into my letterbox, I had given myself a bit of a talking-to about cracking on with sewing fabrics from the stash, inspired by the Stashbusting Sewalong Facebook group, and the process of Kondo-ising my wardrobe. My thinking being why have fabrics that “spark joy” to use Ms Kondo’s term, when it would be a whole lot better if they were garments that did the same thing. It didn’t take me long to identify fabric and zipper in the stash that I thought would work for the Avery, and because I’d made a few bread-and-butter basics recently, I thought it was time for a bit of a statement make. So Avery rocketed to Number 1 in the queue.
The fabrics are both from Tessuti. Avery is designed for a combination  of knit and woven fabrics. The sleeves and front yoke are in a viscose jersey, leftover from making Style Arc Pearl. The woven was a rayon/cotton blend (I think) that I bought on sale last year. The zip was one of a bag of miscellaneous zips I bought a Pitt Trading quite a while ago. From memory the bag cost me something like $5 for about a dozen metal teeth zips, so a bit of a bargain there!
As far as fit is concerned, I ordered a Size 12. The only piece I altered was the sleeve, in which I made a 1.5cm full bicep adjustment. I should have made it about 2.5cm – my arms look a bit like sausages. Not great, but not terrible either. The ease at bust was a bit line-ball for me, and I debated making an FBA, but in the end laziness reigned and I gambled a bit that I didn’t really need one. Happily, I think the gamble paid off.
Construction included two new-to-me operations. The first was the exposed zipper. Style Arc specifies a partially exposed zips, and to give them their due they include a number of diagrams (but not many words) to help you in the process. Unfortunately, they didn’t help me, so I went looking for tutorials. In my search I found this tutorial for a fully exposed zipper on the Craftsy blog. I quite liked the idea of a fully exposed zip, so I went with that. Because I was a bit doubtful that my drapey woven would cope well with the metal zip, I interfaced the yoke at the zip opening, as well as the yoke facing as directed. But then I always interface my zip openings, whatever the fabric.
The other new-to me operation was hem facings. I was bit nervous about this, especially getting the topstitching even around the curves, so I made cardboard templates and traced them onto the garment with a Frixion pen to ensure the topstitching lines were the same, left and right. That worked quite well.

Here is a photo that show the difference between the high/low hemline. It’s quite pronounced, not subtle! This was without any length alterations. I’m 5’9” so keep that in mind.
The sleeves are drafted quite long too. I normally add an inch to my long sleeves, but didn’t here, because I didn’t need to. Check your sleeve length!

I’m quite happy with the Avery. It’s a bit of different, and will work well with a lot of the bottom pieces in my wardrobe. The only reservation I have is how good the back will look after I’ve been sitting on it. These photos are brought to you fresh from the ironing board. This fabric holds a crease, so this could be a bit of an issue. Let’s see how I feel about it in due course

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Kondo-ising the wardrobe - what hasn't worked and why

It seems that half the Western World is Kondo-ising their life, or wardrobes at least, and I've been no exception.
If you aren't familiar with the work of Marie Kondo, her basic philosophy is that we should only keep things, whatever they may be, that "spark joy".
With this in mind, recently I had a clothing sort through.  These are candidates for elimination  that  have featured on the blog. At the time of making, I expected a bit of joy sparking, otherwise why bother? Over time in the wardrobe, though, they have proved to "spark meh"instead. Here's why:

First cab off the rank is my first version of Colette Peony. My post on this dress is my most viewed post to date, so it is slightly ironic this  dress has gone. I wore it twice, and never felt quite right in it. Part of it was the fit of the bodice, which I addressed somewhat successfully in a subsequent version. Part of it was the cummerbund, which I didn't warm to - I was always rearranging it. And part of it was the colour. Red once served me well. Now I realise I just feel overwhelmed and conspicuous in it. Probably because as I age my colouring is not as definite as it once was. I still love red though.

With Burda 2561, I was happy with the fit. But because of that red thing again, I hardly wore it . Gone.

I still have a usable length of the red wool crepe I used to make the Peony, and am wondering if I make it into a jacket ie. break it up with another colour around my face it would work? Guess there is only one way to find out..

Burda 03-2013-128. I found this top difficult to match up with anything I had. And I didn't like the print enough to address the situation. A great way to make a cowl top though. The cowl facing never
flips out.

I have a couple of Japanese sewing pattern books on my shelves, and I really like the aesthetic. However ethereal teenage waif style doesn't translate well to middle aged person, I found. This swimsuit cover up is a case in point - all the volume in the back looks edgy on some. Just looks daggy on me, especially in that print. What was I thinking?

This jacket from a Japanese magazine wasn't too bad, though. The fit across the shoulders was a bit off but the killer was again the colour. The brown marle linen did me no favours. Worn little. Gone. Might try this pattern again, though.

I quite liked this Ottobre  pleated denim skirt with fly front. I live a decidedly denim lifestyle, so it should have been a workhorse garment.  Alas,  I made it a little too short and it was worn little as a consquence

This Vogue 1357 skirt should have been a winner, with it's A-line and colour. However, I wore it few times, and it's hard to put my finger on why. It could be I  don't wear heels all that often, and I felt most comfortable wearing this skirt with heels. I don't know. And I didn't like how the front inverted pleat sat, or more to the point, not.

I really liked these patterned pants, but not being a big wearer of pink, found it hard to find things to wear them with. Didn't wear them all that often, but even so it wasn't long until the Spotlight sateen stretched out of shape. 

This Vogue 8805 dress experienced another case of fabric fade in the mid section after relatively few wears. A Spotlight buy again. The contrast with the red bands was so great it was unwearable. If I make this again, I'll drop CF at the neckline down an inch. And stay away from Spotlight linen.


I liked the Weekend Getaway blouse, but the colours meant I only really wore it with this skirt. Also the length was a bit problematic for me. If I make this again I'll add length so it can be worn as a tunic.

I also kondo-ised a number of pre-blog makes for various reasons, and quite a lot of RTW which I donated to the local Zonta group who had a pre-loved clothes sale in aid of it's various works.
One good thing I've noted is that these makes date from 2013 and the first half of 2014. I can say that more recent makes have been earning their place in the wardrobe. This could be good luck, but I hope that also means I'm making more confident choices in pattern and fabric.

I guess this brings home to me that the most successful garments are a happy confluence of pattern style, fabric (colour, content, quality), and how well these both mesh with your own personal preferences as to what you think suits you best. When you think about it, there is a lot to get right. When I note that I've made 69 garments during the life of the blog, the fact I've gotten it wrong on some level only 10 times is a bit surprising, at least to me! One out of 7 ain't bad.

Do you pick apart the reasons why your less successful garments are less successful? What have you learned?