Tuesday, July 29, 2014

An Aussie top for an Aussie sheila!

This is the tale of a top that almost ended up in the bin.

I've bought a couple of StyleArc patterns from Australia in the past, excited by the really wide size range and super modern styles, but they've all stayed in my pattern stash. Mostly, it was because I got waylaid by other exciting projects, and I suspect that it's also because they don't tend to get hyped up  much in the sewing blogosphere (with the notable exception of devotee Anne the Clothing Engineer) so I would forget about them and forge on with another Moneta.

Which brings me to... the Rosie top. It was the free pattern of the month a while ago (they always send you a bonus pattern on top of the one you buy!) and I wasn't feeling it, so I chucked it in the bin at the weekend. Whereupon my summer housemate Aussie Andrea immediately spied one of her own, fished it out of the fabric scraps and declared it to be a fine pattern specimen.

So what could I do but make it up for her?

StyleArc Rosie Top

Now as chance would have it, Andrea and I have the same measurements (except she has 1" smaller hips... apart from that, identical). That's just as well, because StyleArc is different from other pattern companies in that they only send you the pattern in one size, which makes grading tricky and is probably a non-starter if you span multiple sizes. Although Andrea and I are pretty "standard",  I was a bit concerned because I made my order for a knit dress in a size 18 and 44" bust, while Andrea and I are more in the 47 - 48" range these days. However, I decided to use a gorgeous black stable ponte knit from my stash (another John Lewis find) and see if it would work... and it did!

StyleArc Rosie Top

The only alteration I did was to bring in the side seams a bit (probably about an inch each side), which was a cinch with my serger. Everything else worked fairly well - the raglan sleeves have some folding, but I think that's par for the course with raglan sleeves and busty ladies. At the back there's a cute little pleat which still remains somewhat noticeable in ponte:

StyleArc Rosie Top

The only thing I'd change next time is to topstitch all the seams down - this ponte really doesn't press well, so the seams (especially for the peplum-y type part) are a little puffy. It's not too bad, but it would be nicer with a crisper finish. Oh well, I'll just have to make myself one too!

StyleArc Rosie Top

If you know Andrea you'll know that this is *just* her style, and she now has a reward for sleeping in my sewing room for the past month and putting away all her stuff every day so I can do some sewing. See, it is worth it!

StyleArc Rosie Top

I'm also definitely planning on pulling my other StyleArc patterns out of the stash and giving them a go - if they're anything like this one, I have high hopes! Have you made any StyleArc patterns dear readers? How did they go?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Cloudy skirt for a cloudy day

When I was fabric shopping in Vietnam recently, I briefed my non-sewing friend before we hit the stores. Key mission: stop me buying anything that's whimsical and unlike "me". You see, I'm hopelessly attracted to kitschy fabrics. If it is printed on quilting cotton, I probably love it. And yet... I never wear things like that, really ever. Nina valiantly did her job, and managed to help me resist buying peach cotton with ice creams printed on it, but I slipped through her restraints with this one: cloudy rayon! 

The reason I got away with it? From a distance it looks like polka dots! But up close, there's no doubting there's a veritable storm of clouds...

Such a floaty fabric demanded a floaty skirt, so I ordered up McCall's M6931 which I saw on the McCall Company's new Instagram feed. It's a curious skirt: it has princess seams for no apparent reason (apart from colour blocking maybe?), and is pleated at the top, and then has an elasticated waist which effectively gathers the pleats. It works well in this very thin fabric, but my original plan to use it for a cool black square eyelet I have probably won't work.

I wanted to make it quickly before summer was all but over, so I serged the insides, and used the 1 inch elastic I have rather than hunting down the recommended 2 inch. As a result, the waistband bunches a bit when the elastic slides down in the casing... which could easily be solved by making the channel a little smaller. But for some reason I am oddly resistant to changing existing makes... is anyone else like that?!

I am now totally in love with my Vietnamese McCalls Cloudy Skirt as I shall call it. VMCS for short. And thank you to the ever fabulous Katy & Laney for photography skills on this cloudy summer day! Sewing friends are the best. And we only got stopped for taking photos of a power station once.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Oonapalooza wrap dress!

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are gathered here to today to honour our dear sage and guide, OonaBalloona of Kalkatroona.


OonaPalooza wrap dress by Christine Jonson

Who else is there who whips up crazily patterned, eye-poppingly coloured and extravagantly swooshy dresses practically twice a week? Who else regales us of her drinking adventures and dresses up as a pink powderpuff alien overlord ? No-one, that's who. There's a special place in the world for our dear Oona.

Therefore, I felt it only fitting to combine the goodness of Cashmerette + Oonaworld (I believe the fashion world would call this Cashmerette X Oona) in an Oonapalooza wrap dress. And then to pull funny poses in an alleyway. FOR THAT IS THE WAY OF OUR FEARLESS LEADER.

Is this my best Oona face? Why yes it is. Hey girl!

If the dress looks familiar, you are not mistaken. It is my darling Christine Jonson pattern, smeared with my grubby fingerprints and rotary cut once again (it is no doubt getting slightly smaller every time, for my rotary cutting skills are poor, as my fingertip will attest). I used a fab quality jersey that I believe my dear Mum bought me last time I was in the UK, at John Lewis (please, America, bring John Lewis over here). I hope that Ms. Balloona finds it worthy.

For the neckline I have now perfected my technique: basically a t-shirt band, serged to the right side of the neckline, flipped over, and then "understitched" with a coverstitch.

And now onto the back.

Oh dear.

See the problem? Is it symmetrical over my spine? Not it is not. It's like... 3 inches out. D'OH! I am mightily annoyed at this. However, I rarely (ever?) see my back, so the citizens of the world will just have to cope. I feel that this is an attribute OB will endorse. 

On the plus side: look at that amazing sleeve pattern matching! Entirely a coincidence?! Surely not. 

So that's it! A fun little dress for wearing to the office, hanging out in alleyways, and otherwise painting the town red. I have no doubt it will get lots of use, back non-symmetry, be damned! So let's raise a glass to our dear old Oona and wish her many more years of highly entertaining sewing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Curvy Sewing Collective site launches today!

Man, it's been hard keeping this under wraps.... 

I am super excited to let you know that the Curvy Sewing Collective website, www.curvysewingcollective.com launches today! 

As Cashmerette readers are no doubt already well aware, Mary and I dreamt up the idea this Spring, and teamed up with Laurence, Tanya, Mary, T and Sophie-Lee to form the CSC.  After our successful Curvy Colette blog tour, the whole gang decided we should take it even further, by setting up a new one-stop resource for curvy sewists, covering topics such as pattern reviews for curvy figures, tutorials on common fitting adjustments, body confidence and positivity articles, and inspiration from the sewing world and beyond. 

We want it to be an inclusive community, so you can participate in forums, or submit your own blog post for inclusion - the more folks the better! Have a different body shape to any member of the collective? Tell us about how you do fitting! Have a specific need like maternity wear or lingerie-making? Suggest a topic or write a post! We're hoping that the site will have a life of its own and will become a really useful resource for curvy sewists. It is truly a labour of love for all of us, and we're so glad to be able to launch it. 

What's already on the site? Why, we have (among other things): 

- My curvy fashion idol, Gabi Gregg:

- Sleeve fitting help from T: 
How to adjust sleeves for curvy biceps

- Reviews of plus size dress forms from Tanya:

- A gorgeous TNT review by Mary: 


And is if that weren't enough, we also have a super exciting giveaway. So head on over to the site, and let us know what you think! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Thread Theory Jebediahs en France

I wasn't the only member of my family to have my birthday in Provence this year: both my brothers were celebrating too - in fact, we all have birthdays within 2 weeks of each other. So, I decided to make some boy clothes to celebrate. First up, for Tom I made my first ever proper pair of trousers, the Thread Theory Jebediah shorts. And I'm totally pleased with the result!

These are classic chino-type trousers which you can also make in a cuffed shorts version. I was a bit concerned about the length because I couldn't find anything from Thread Theory about what height man they're designed for. I can tell you that Tom is 6 feet tall and the shorts hit just below his knees which ended up looking pretty good, so bear that in mind if you're making them!

I used a really nice soft olive cotton twill from Mood Fabrics, which turned out to have a bit of stretch in it (although this wasn't mentioned in the listing). I was a bit concerned when it turned up that it wouldn't be suitable for boy trousers, but in fact it was perfect. It's almost slightly suede-y and soft...

The fun of this pattern is all in the details - many of which were very new to me.

First up: fly front! I made these before I made my Katy & Laney fly front tap shorts, and it was definitely a challenge to begin with because there are so many different parts to put together that it's hard to tell if you're doing it correctly. However, then I found the Jebediah sew-along, and in particular the video on the fly front - that made soooooo much more sense than the written directions for me. And I'm pretty pleased with the outcome!

On the back, we have a flat-felled yoke with perfect seam matching if I say so myself...! Also patch pockets with decorative stitching, and belt loops.

Please excuse the apparent slight wedgie in the photos... it's just the way he was standing, I swear they fit!

One really cute detail is the turn ups: Thread Theory recommends doing bound seams on the outside leg so that when they're turned up there's a little peek of the binding. I was going to use purple binding but I had to constantly remind myself to make something suitable for men and not women! It's an endless struggle... Anyhow, I went with a subtle brown pre-made binding. There are actually three types of seaming in these shorts: bound, flat felled (on the inside leg) and serged (on the crotch seam).

The inside waistband is also bound... and yeah, I couldn't resist making that bit purple. And the pockets.

I really enjoyed making these shorts - it's so much easier to fit men's clothes as they're a lot less form-fitting, and it was fun to work with stable fabrics after so much knit sewing. There were definitely some steps that baffled me - the fly front and method of finishing the ends of the waistband especially - but the end result was really polished and I was proud of myself. 

And most importantly: Tom likes them too!

Monday, July 7, 2014

French sailor tap shorts (confused yet?!)

Ever since I spied this ridiculously amazing Robert Kaufmann anchor chambray at Grey's, I knew a second pair of Katy & Laney Tap shorts would be mine. And then, as if by magic, Sarah Grey generously gave me some and so it was fated to happen. 

Flush with courage from my first fly fronts (to be shown shortly), I decided to try View C, which is a more traditional short style with faced pockets and a fly front. They came with me on the family summer vacation to Provence: 

Katy & Laney tap shorts view C

Not pictured: the billions of bees buzzing all around me in the lavender!

Katy & Laney tap shorts view C

This time around, I added 1.5 inches to the waistband - while the size 20 waistband was fine when I was standing up, I do somewhat... expand.. when I sit down, so that extra 1.5 inches makes all the difference comfort-wise. I adjusted the yoke accordingly but did forget to change the pockets, hence there's a little bit of pulling at the pocket joins... oh well, you live and learn.

Lovely as the chambray is, it's pretty light and my last pair made from upholstery fabric seemed to benefit a lot from the weight. So, I also underlined this pair with a midweight blue cotton from the stash - it worked really well, giving the fabric a bit more body and reducing the wrinkles from sitting down all day.

Katy & Laney tap shorts view C

My fly isn't perfect, but it's definitely passable. Just means I'll have to make more pairs..

Katy & Laney tap shorts view C

Special thanks to photographer Tom who valiantly persevered through taking hundreds of photos of his sister's pelvic area, and by the end was a dab hand at "just pull the left hand side down a bit, there's a wrinkle!" and "turn a little bit that way! no the other way! slightly more!". I feel I am teaching him essential life skills.

So, yet another pair of stylish and eminently wearable shorts for the summer wardrobe. I have a funny feeling they won't be the last. Have you made your Katy & Laney tap shorts yet, dear readers? What patterns are your summer staples?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

How to hand smock a child's dress!

One of the joys of making clothing for little kids - and let's face it, particularly for little girls - is you can do ridiculously cute things that may not be entirely suitable for adult clothing. Like contrast smocking on gingham! (No judgement on any adults who are wearing smocked gingham dresses... You go, cuties). 

I recently learned how on my summer smocked dress, so I thought that in true sewing blogger style I would take something I've only done once and show everyone else how to do it :) To wit: ignore my not so accurate stitching, but follow the instructions because I swear they're correct! 

I did this on gingham, which seems approximately 125% easier than using plain fabric and marking on all the dots and not immediately rubbing them off again. However, I am led to believe it's possible. 

1. Start with your thread behind the fabric, and come through at the corner of a gingham square.

2. Go along to the next square to the right, and take a very small stitch

3. Continue moving your needle to the left, and take a tiny stitch under your first one

4. Pull!

Magic smock!

5. Go back over to where you made the stitch on the right, and make another stitch. Basically you're re-stitching over the stitch you just did, and this is what will show on the front of the garment so try to make it neat

6. Repeat over at the next square to the right

7. Once you've finished a row, tie off and start again at the left. This time, stagger in one square so that each stitch is between the two stitches above. Below I also went *down* two stitches, but you can just do one if you want.

And there you have it! A cute little smocked dress for a special little lady in your life. 

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