OMG!!! I am Wearing Shorts …. Intoducing the Harper Shorts by Megan Nielsen

I haven’t worn shorts since way before I was married, actually probably not since high school, and that was for sport or swimming. Well, that is a teensy lie, do culottes count?

Harper shorts front 1

                                                              Harper shorts front 2

This was probably a really inappropriate seasonal pattern test* that I did during winter, but I signed up because the two pairs of Tania culottes by Megan Nielsen, which I love, are the only pairs of shorts I have worn since my younger years. Is it cheating a tiny bit though since they look like a skirt?

I love Megan’s patterns and have accumulated a fair few that I am yet to sew up. The Harper shorts and skort are lined, so they feel a bit dressier than the run of the mill sports shorts and I guess for that fact could be worn during winter with tights. I love pockets in anything so these are an extra great feature and the skort option is fantastic as it’s a 2 looks in one pattern. It was a bit difficult to get my head around sewing shorts during autumn now but I’m considering it good planning since the warmer weather is very,very slowly starting to creep into the southern hemisphere.

Harper shorts back 2

Harper shorts side

My tester version was made using some long time stash olive broadcloth (100% cotton) and black pongee lining (100% polyester). I found the fit spot on and love the invisible back zip closure. These aren’t my normal choice of attire but think they are extremely appropriate for taking kids to the park or beach. I was hoping to get the skorts sewn up before this blog post, which mind you is already months overdue, but life has kept me busy. The skorts are a longer cut and probably most suited to my current lifestyle. Stay tuned for those some time in the probably not so near future!!

*The pattern was provided to me free of charge for testing but all opinions expressed are my own and I received a copy of the finalised pattern for taking part.

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TEEN/WOMENS Lil Luxe Maxi Dress by Lil Luxe Patterns

The story behind this is that Lil Luxe Patterns released the cutest children’s party dress, the Lil Luxe dress early last month. All the tester versions appearing on the web were just gorgeous and I am usually smitten when it comes to seeing pretty girls things aided by the fact you could use horsehair braid on the hem contributing to extra twirl.

As luck should have it, a tester* call went out for the women’s equivalent. I would love nothing more to have a beautiful, full, twirly circle skirt dress BUT without an occasion to wear it I opted for the maxi dress version instead. A bit more practical for my lifestyle. The Lil Luxe Teen/Womens dress is available in sizes 00 to 20, with either a gathered maxi skirt or shorter circle skirt option and a back zip (either invisible or exposed).

It was my first time making anything from Lil Luxe Patterns, although I have the mini button up blouse and moto pants cut, ready to sew for my oldest. The dress went through many versions as the designers wanted to ensure they were delivering the best product to their customer. I really value that attitude and work ethic and it made the process rather enjoyable.

My first iteration was made with a cap sleeve to make it a bit more sun friendly. I used cobalt rayon (100% rayon) for the bodice which was self lined, and the skirt was multi printed rayon zig zag (100% rayon). The major draw card for this design is the low back. I chose to use invisible zips for all my versions however instructions are provided for an exposed zip also.

Lil Lux coral side  Lil lux coral side 2 Lil Lux coral backLil lux front belted

After some pattern changes, such as removing the cap sleeve option. The next version was ready for testing. I ended up making a top as I was short on fabric, I used the circle skirt option instead this time, although the pattern calls for joining 2 circle skirts together to get extra fullness and the pleats. I used black and white printed dots rayon (100% rayon) with black pongee (100% polyester) for the lining. After wearing my “blue” version I realised I probably should go down a size in the bodice, and the fit was pretty much spot on this time.

V2 top front                      V2 top side 2 V2 top back

The pattern was tweaked a bit more by the designers such that the fit around the armholes and bust was near perfect and the back was lowered further. The great thing is you can still wear your normal undergarments with this design. Thus the final version I made using aqua tribal rayon (100% rayon), white pongee (100% polyester) for the lining, and green rayon chirramon plain (100% rayon) for the skirt. I would say for myself, the final pattern release is perfect. I normally need to shorten the bodice but it sits perfectly, although I did shorten the skirt mostly due to the fabric as it has a crinkly texture that stretches.

                    V5 front V5 front 3 V5 side

                                     V5 back (2)              V5 back 3

The pattern is easy to print and put together. Detailed instructions and photos are provided for dress construction and there is also lots of information in regards to materials required as well as sewing techniques. So in a short time frame I have added 3 new items to my wardrobe and have worn all versions of the Lil Luxe Dress and they have been positively commented on.

The pattern is being released today and you can get a 10% discount when buying both the childrens’ and TEENS/WOMENS patterns, using the code LILLUXEDRESSBUNDLE.

*The pattern was provided to me free of charge for testing but all opinions expressed are my own and I received a copy of the finalised pattern for taking part.

Butterick 5947 Yellow Satin Dress

I was desperately trying to get rid of UFO’s before the years end and came close, bar 2 tops and a skirt. This Butterick 5947 dress was cut out in July of 2015 and thought it would be an appropriate New Years dinner dress. The dress is made from yellow delustered satin floral #1 (100% polyester) and the lining is black pongee (100% polyester).

Butterick 5947 front       Butterick 5947 side 2             Butterick 5947 side Butterick 5947 back

I had all the pieces cut for view A with view C skirt length, and just needed to sew it together. It took me much longer than it should have because I made the same mistake twice while sewing the bodice pleats, which aren’t highly evident in this busy print anyway and haven’t turned out as neat as I would have liked. Probably not the best choice of fabric on my part.

pleatsI cut the included lining pieces for the bodice first to check for fit and decided to completely line the dress so used the skirt pieces to cut the skirt lining. Instructions call for attaching outer fabric to lining at the armholes and neckline and then ironing down the seam allowances for the lining shoulder seams and then hand stitching them together, if that makes sense. I much prefer bagging my lining, of which there are many tutorials online.  I also under stitched as far as I could, mainly because the pleating at the neckline has a bit of bulk and I wanted it to stay as flat as possible. Although all the seams were enclosed for the bodice, I trimmed the seam allowances with pinking shears as both the lining and silk frayed terribly. Probably would have been just as quick and more secure to serge them. I installed a 22 inch (56cm) primrose invisible zip – stash busting. I serged the hem of the skirt and lining separately and turned them both up by 1cm for the first fold and then 1.5cm for the second fold and stitched however I cut the lining about an inch shorted to begin with so it wouldn’t show.

                                     lining back lining front

I ended up shortening the bodice by 1 inch, my usual body adjustment. I also took in the upper back by a fair bit, about 3.5 cm from each centre seam and tapered to the normal seam allowance at the waistline. I didn’t bother trimming the seam as it would be enclosed within the dress anyway. I also went up a size for the skirt compared to the bodice as I wanted a bit of extra room as this fabric has no give.

I chose not to make the included self belt as I would wear this with black mostly but wish I had made belt loops. The fabric is very slippery and the belt has a tendency to shift up when worn.

Whilst I didn’t love this dress initially after completion, maybe it’s the colours, I don’t normally wear yellow. I did receive lots of compliments when I wore it, funnily enough, because of the colours. Goes to show that everyone has a different perception on things.

I think the pleats add a bit of fullness to the bodice, and I’m not sure if that is distracting or not, but overall the dress has grown on me. It fits nicely but next time I would probably go with a single coloured fabric and one less slippery to work with.

Ladies Classic Cape from Big Little…It’s Fast, Simple and Classy

I have been doing lots of pattern testing lately. I always put my hand up because I really enjoy working to a deadline and being methodical about following instructions,  helping out with alterations, errors etc. and stepping out of my comfort zone, trying silhouettes that possibly aren’t my style.

This pattern is a big winner for me, designed by Big Little and they have so many of what I would call, winter wonderland patterns. When the call went out for testers*, for the Ladies Classic Cape I was very eager. I don’t have anything like this in my wardrobe and envisioned a lovely and warm wool version however my environment is hot and humid. I am savouring the day I can wear this though, I love winter fashion.

Cape hanger

buttonIt’s a pretty straight forward sew for such a classy item of clothing. You have the option of the collar or round or pixie hood. Lengthwise you can make a shrug, classic length or cloak length. It can also be made reversible. The number of buttons is also down to personal preference.

I went with the collared, classic length for my first attempt and used a black and white wool boucle blend (8% wool/ 92% polyester) with a black pongee lining (100% polyester). My wool was a nightmare and frayed like crazy so I had to serge all my pattern pieces before assembly and then also used Fray Stopper in the corners and where I thought there may be some strain.

As aforementioned construction was quick and simple, took me about 2 hours start to finish including taping and cutting out the pattern.

cape front 3

                           cape side 2 cape back 2

I also chose to test the shrug version. I initially had visions of ‘faux’ fur and pleather but couldn’t find the appropriate fabric so went with premium black cotton sateen (96% cotton/ 4% spandex) and black printed sateen pluses (97% cotton/ 3% spandex) for the “lining” but really I was planning on making it reversible, thus using the same fabric. I followed the instructions as specified and then simply added a button to the outside and inside in the same position so the loop works for both buttons.

    Black side              Black back 3

Pattern back 3Pattern side

It’s a well drafted pattern with a nice curve for a good fit around the shoulders. There are optional lengthen/shorten lines included. The possibilities are endless with this pattern depending on fabric choice. Really happy with the outcomes of this test and am so looking forward to wearing them.

Stay tuned for a kids version coming soon!!!

*The pattern was provided to me free of charge for testing but all opinions expressed are my own and I received a copy of the finalised pattern for taking part.

Simplicity 6746 Feather Maxi Skirt

Continuing on with my maxi endeavours I pulled out this pattern from my stash, it’s from the 70’s. I can’t remember where it came from and is only in single size, mind you a lot smaller than what I wear. I had to enlarge the pattern amongst other alterations but I think, actually I know, I like the style of this skirt better than my self drafted one and will probably become my go to from now on, with a few touch ups of course.

simplicity 6746

The fabric is a boutique poly print (100% polyester), a bargain buy at $3/m and judging at the fabric it may be due to the fault on the border which didn’t affect my cutting layout whatsoever. It is quite sheer and of course being a light colour it required some lining. I use white pongee lining (100% polyester) from my stash but unfortunately in the sunlight is still sheer and requires a slip underneath for modesty. This is a four gored skirt pattern, a real fabric hog actually. I didn’t want to break up the feather repeats with a seam so cut my front piece on the fold and following the straight grain.

Fabric

My measurements were about 20cm larger than the pattern so had to enlarge both front and back by 10cm (5cm at each side at the waist and hip) and then straightened out with a curved ruler. In the end my pattern pieces didn’t fit the width of the fabric so I slimmed the skirt by about 17cm in total at the hem but as you can see it still has lots of movement and is quite flowy.

simplicity 6746 front 2

           simplicity 6746 frontsimplicity 6746 front 3

I constructed the skirt using french seams because of the sheerness of the fabric and eliminated pockets for this reason too but next time will definitely add them in. I also used a french seam at the centre back using this tutorial from Handmade by Carolyn when putting in my 7 inch white invisible zipper. The lining was cut narrower than the fashion fabric and finished off with a straight stitch and neatened with the serger. The lining is slightly too narrow however to take large strides when walking so I will probably need to go back and open up the side seams to create some splits.

I attached the waistband last and used the width of the pattern piece provided and extended the length to my measurements and to create a fairly big overlapping waistband at the back to include a trouser hook and eye. I hand stitch the waistband from the inside. The fashion fabric was too big when putting the skirt together so I added in two back darts to compensate and they aren’t very visible anyway. One would think perhaps they were part of the plan if they didn’t know any different.

simplicity 6746 zip and darts

 simplicity 6746 lining

The lining was attached by machine at the zip for a neat finish and I added some small pleats at both the front and back to allow for ease. The skirt was hemmed using a narrow rolled hem. I’m happy with how this has turned out and worn it twice already but as I mentioned I would love to add pockets and perhaps take out some width at the hips next time.

simplicity 6746 side

             simplicity 6746 skirt width simplicity 6746 back 2

Metallic Simplicity 1354 Dress Fit for a Wedding

This pattern is one that I am using to make an LBD for my wardrobe staples and although planned to make that dress first, time was of the essence, or lack there of. So I thought I would jump straight in and make it for my friends wedding with my metallic fabric.

There are no reviews of Simplicity 1354 that I can find but it is an Amazing Fit pattern and I have never used one of those before. I know this is a bit of a risk right! I made view B but opted for a pleated skirt rather than gathered as I think it is more flattering on my body. I was hoping that with all the princess seams and back opening that fitting issues could be tackled during construction. My fabric is 140cm wide poly metallic (100% polyester) with pongee lining (100% polyester) in nude.

 DSC_0342 1

A new to me, but not a new process by any means is chainstitching. I am making a concious effort to increase my productivity/efficiency and this has been a somewhat difficult habit to start. I tried to do it as much as possible in the construction of this dress but required a different level of concentration and organisation on my part to not get my pieces confused. Regardless, the dress got made and that is the bottom line.

The dress is unlined but I thought since it was a ‘special’ dress I would add lining and just as well because the fabric was so scratchy. I made up the lining bodice shell first to check the fit and just as well. Sorry there are no photos of this process but needless to say it was a tad tight all over although I felt the actual design lines and shape were a good fit. I figured rather than cut another lining I would decrease the seam allowances and unpick the ‘basting stitches’ and all would be good. So for my metallic fabric I cut the size larger and figured it would be easier to take in rather than let out. During the initial stages I had made the sleeves but wasn’t sure if I like them and they made the dress too matronly so decided that perhaps a cap sleeve was the way to go such as this inspiration dress although I don’t have sequins or a chiffon skirt and my neckline is not that low. So really nothing like my inspiration after all, I guess that’s why it’s called inspiration. After making up the bodice in my final fabric I decided to eliminate the sleeves altogether. There was so much going on with the metallic fabric alone and then the open back and pleated skirt, it just felt overdone. Keep it simple right!!!!

Bariano Sabina Beige Sequin DressBariano Sabina Beige Sequin Dress

The metallic fabric frayed so easily so I tried to minimise handling and serged the seams as soon as the fit was right more so to strengthen the seams. My fit modifications were to take in the side seams, about 3cm from the underarm, tapering to nothing at the waist. The fit felt pretty good everywhere else and I figured I could alter the back once the dress was assembled and I was up to putting the zipper in.

In the process of adding the lining, I forgot the “burrito” method and should have researched before steaming ahead. I sewed up the side seams of both fabric and lining and couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working, cue Google. I then had to unpick my side seams (straight stitch and serger) and then do what I was supposed to. It all worked out in the end so I’m a happy camper. Due to the addition of the lining, there were portions of the instructions that weren’t relevant for me but I think overall they were quite comprehensive. The pattern calls for a facing instead for the neckline. For a long time, I avoided adding linings to my garments if it wasn’t in the instructions as I wasn’t confident it would always work out but what I go by now is:

“If the seam is being attached to something, ie collar, sleeve, skirt, then the lining doesn’t need to be sewn to the fashion fabric at these seams”

So now it’s not such a daunting task and far more manageable, although at times head scratching still occurs. But I digress.

DSC_0347 (2)

After attaching the lining, trimming seam allowances and clipping where necessary, I turned the bodice right side out. I understitched as far as I could around the neckline and armholes and am pretty happy with the result.

DSC_0348 (2)

 DSC_0349 (2)

The skirt has pockets and I wasn’t sure about them in a more formal dress but thought if sewn correctly they should be pretty invisible and it’s a practical solution to have pockets in skirts and dresses with children to carry say snacks, snacks and more snacks to keep them quite during a wedding ceremony.

I didn’t even attempt pattern matching with this garment because of my busy, shiny fabric – it was too hard in my opinion and I was on a time restraint, starting this dress a week before I needed to wear it.

The pattern sequence of construction was okay overall to allow for fitting adjustments but because I wasn’t sure what skirt I would be making until the very end I changed up the order by fitting my bodice first and then attaching the skirt whereas the instructions get you to sew the bodice to the skirt and then baste the entire front and back of the dress together at the side seams to adjust fit.

I made self fabric buttons as none at the store were appropriate for the fabric.

After wearing the dress the lining of the centre front occasionally peaks out even though I understitched as far as I could. Realistically I don’t think it will bother me too much on subsequent wears. I also found that the back opening appeared to have stretched during sewing as it didn’t lay completely flat. From memory there was no stay stitching required on these pieces which have a bias edge but in future I will do this. I also should have added belt loops to the dress as the belt kept slipping up above my waist due to the slippery nature of both the belt and fabric.

DSC_0344 1

Overall the dress was really comfortable and I will definitely make it again but with the gathered skirt this time. I would recommend this pattern because you really can adjust the fit to suit your body type.

PS. Sorry about the minimal photos. I lost my phone the day after I arrived interstate for the wedding and thus have only a couple of photos to share of the front view and perhaps not the most flattering. Not sure what I was or wasn’t thinking at the time but I left my dress there too so can’t take any photos after the event to show those details, sorry!!!

Vogue 8899 Midi Dress..Jungle January Here I Come!

I think I went through an animal print buying phase as I have about 4 prints in black and browns that I have recently cut into and am in the process of making since, hello, minimal thread changing.  Maybe I’ll say it was a subconscious decision to join Jungle January. Anyway, here is the first of them.

Vogue 8899 front

Vogue 8899 side 3

I’m not quite sure why at the moment I am making things with splits in them as I have been sewing them partially closed or completely closed anyway, must be the other features that I’m really drawn to. I used Vogue 8899, view A. It’s a lined, pullover, sleeveless dress, loose-fitting bodice with insets, elastic waist and side front slits.

I used a polychiffon 4615 in a green colourway, although looks more brown even to the naked eye, 150cm wide. It’s 100% polyester and a pain to cut but sewed up quite easily. For the lining I used a pongee 100% polyester cream lining. I followed the instructions as written for the order of the bodice construction however because my chiffon was sheer I used the lining as underlining as I think doing french seams at the gathers and the bodice insert would have been near impossible. I serged all the seams to give a nice clean finish. I was a little surprised though that the gathers around the triangle insert were not as pronounced as on the pattern envelope on the front and non existent on the back but I think that’s because the triangle cut out stretched out and became the same length as the seam even though I stay stitched it.

Vogue 8899 front insert

 Vogue 8899 back insert

I assembled the skirt fabric using french seams and attached to the lining at the waist. I did completely sew up the splits but I think the volume of the skirt conceals them anyway unless in motion – lots of swish factor.

Vogue 8899 skirt

  Vogue 8899 swish sideVogue 8899 swish back

I left the dress to hang for a couple of days before hemming with a rolled narrow hem on both layers. Here is the oh my god moment, at the final press on the hem I noticed a cut in the fabric, I was almost in tears after being so meticulous about everything.

Rolled hem

Tear

Initially I was going to mend it with light interfacing but that would have changed the drape of the fabric and possibly have been visible so I ended up cutting off that part of the hem and re-hemming.

It’s not that noticeable due to the full skirt but I’m still so annoyed as it’s such a careless error. Lucky I was able to mend it in this case.

I remembered this time to adjust my armholes by cutting off 2cm from the underarm. Due to the fact my construction was different to the instructions, I sewed up my side seams and overlocked them and then trimmed the armhole to what was comfortable. I finished them off with some bought bias tape and top stitched which matched the finish of the neckline which was turned twice as per the instructions to make a narrow hem. With visible topstitching it makes me wonder how best to match thread with fabric? I initially was going to use black to sew this dress together but decided on the cream in the end, especially as my lining is cream. From what I have read it is best to use the thread closest to the background colour and which blends in more. Do you have a fail proof method of deciding what colour to use or are you not as fussy?

Overall the dress went together really easily and I think if it was made up in a non-transparent, thicker fabric it would be extra quick as you could eliminate the lining all together except for the triangle insert for stability. I may make this again but it has to go to the end of the sewing line.