Stylearc Mimi Top

On a recent holiday to Melbourne, I had 10 minutes to duck into Tessuti whilst my family bought treats from the nearby Lune Croissanterie.  I'm not in a stash building phase, so I picked just one beautiful silk fabric to sew up straight away.  I'm not sure what this colour is even called, but I am seeing it everywhere at the moment (Pantone 2030 seems close, but it doesn't give it a name).  

In keeping with my "sew-not-stash" desire, I chose a simple pattern, the Stylearc Mimi woven top.  The feature of this top is the sleeves.

The sleeve gathering is a little unusual.  First, as series of tucks are sewn.

I changed the order of construction and finished the hems with a rolled hem on the overlocker after the tucks were sewn.  Most of this top was constructed on the overlocker.

Then rows of shirring were sewn over the tucks.  I chose to use the shirring method of zig-zagging over the shirring elastic and then pulling it to the desired amount of gathering, before knotting the ends of the elastic together.

The final result.  If I sew this top again, I will probably sew a few extra tucks, because I would like the sleeves to be a smidge tighter.

Because I hemmed the sleeve before sewing the sleeve seams, I decided to french seam the few cm near the hem.  Looking back, I'm not sure why I didn't just french seam the whole seam??

 We had a few warmer days this week, so I was able to wear it out.  I'm not coping too well in this cooler climate and can't wait for summer, so I can wear all my favourite clothes again.  I'm thinking that green shorts or pants to match the green in this fabric might be a good addition to my summer wardrobe.  It is an unusual green, but also seems very current, so I will be on the lookout for fabric.  Let me know if you see any this colour!



Okay, so this is not Instagram, but in celebration of #BRugust, I thought that I would post some of my unblogged undies from the past few months.

First up is a pair of knickers cut from leftovers of a t-shirt I made my daughter. This is the back view.  The cotton is fairly substantial, so I made it a quick sew by cutting them as one piece and not even bothering with a gusset.

I made this sports bra to fit in with last year's workout wardrobe entry.  I modified the Sewaholic Dunbar sports bra  to have the strappy back and used fold-over elastic for the edges.

The next sports bra was made from some interesting fabric I picked up from Tessuti.  It appears to be two layers of nylon lycra bonded together.   I separated the layers in the non printed edge of the fabric to source fabric for the bindings.  It is a very supportive bra, but the fabric is not the softest, so I probably should have used something else for the bindings.  The pattern is one I made from cutting up a RTW bra years ago and have made over and over. I used the leftover fabric to make a super quick skirt for my daughter, which was essentially two almost rectangles sewn together at the side seams, with the top folded over to make an elastic casing, and not even a hem. 

The next set is more of a lounging set, as they are not particularly supportive.  It is the Barrett bralette from Madalynne, in a microrib knit.  One of the knickers is traced off RTW and the other is the Megan Nielsen Acacia

Next, the Hanna bralette by Studio Costura.  I'm not sure, but I think these knickers might be the Watson brief, by Cloth Habit.  I don't have a favourite underwear pattern.  I have a collection of maybe 6 or 7 patterns and just use what I feel like on the day, taking into consideration the fabric I am using.  This set, made from Dutch knit t-shirt scraps, has become my go-to, as it is super comfy as well as being a little bit pretty.

This week I finally got around to making a matching Jalie3131 bra for these Jalie 3886 Julia briefs, which are also Dutch knit leftovers.  You can see the briefs have faded already.  I tried to make a Julia bra, but it was a disaster, due to my elastic choice and pattern size.  The elastic on the bottom of this bra band is so firm that I have had to add an extra set of hooks to get it to close.  I haven't worn it yet, but I'm hoping it is as comfy as my previous versions.

Pretty good scrap busting!  I like my underwired bras, but bralettes are fabulous for using up scraps, and new knickers are always welcome.


Can I drape a pair of jeans?

After writing up my previous post, and reading the draping discussion at Pattern Review, I got to wondering if perhaps I could drape a pair of jeans to fit me.

I had a large piece of denim scrap, so this is how I set about finding out

  • I drew horizontal lines across the fabric, at 5 cm increments
  • I sewed the fabric into a tube and slid the tube up my leg, and used a band of elastic to keep it up.
  • I pinned in the shape of the leg, doing my best to keep the marked lines horizontal
  • I pinned in a side dart, which would later become the side seam
  • I pinned out a back dart, which would later become a yoke
  • I marked the CF and CB seams
  • I folded over the top edge at the height I wanted the waistband.
This is what I got.  The fit is a bit loose at the front, as I did the draping at night, when my belly is often bloated, and I took these photos in the morning, when everything is flat again :)

The above photo shows that the horizontal lines are going skewiff at the upper back thigh.  I tried to mark in a better crotch curve, by standing in the position shown in the photo below.  This draping is not glamorous!

I then cut up the seam lines and laid out my pieces.  I promised myself that I would not compare these to an actual pattern until I was completely finished.  You can see that the back crotch curve is a little unusual.  The legs are also curvy, which is not typical of patterns I have bought.

I marked off a waistband.

I marked off a back yoke.  It does not go as deep as the dart, because I do want them to look like regular jeans and also so that a pocket can fit below the yoke.  The bottom edge of this yoke is curved, but I might go back and make it straight.

I then marked the same horizontal lines on my next piece of fabric.  I was hesitant about cutting into new fabric, but when I unfolded the fabric from my stash, I found that it has discoloured anyway.

I laid my "pattern" on the fabric, matching the horizontal lines.  The pattern does not sit exactly flat.  I decided to follow the lines rather than have the pattern flat, in case the fabric had distorted during my process.

I then sewed up a quick and dirty muslin.  Here they are without a waistband (or fly or pockets). 

I did have to take in the side seams in several places, and I raised the crotch seam by about 15 mm.

They are not perfect, but they don't have the horizontal wrinkle under the bum that I usually have.  Is it even possible to get rid of wrinkles at the back knees?  I never notice knee wrinkles on other people.  Is that because they are not there or just because I don't notice?

I don't know whether to continue on to make a pattern and another pair.  I don't need any more jeans at the moment, but it is always good to have patterns that fit.

What do you think?  Are these worthy of a pattern?  Also, if you have any tips for further improvements, please shout out!


Sewing Jeans 2019

I made a couple of pairs of jeans for a PR wardrobe competition earlier this year.   I had to make them in a fairly short time frame.  I wanted a skinnier leg than my previous pattern and I decided to try out the Megan Nielsen Ash Jeans rather than just make the legs on my usual pattern skinnier.

Well, that didn't work out for me.  I have read quite a few reviews for the Ash jeans, most of them glowing, but nobody else has mentioned that they felt weird and couldn't walk properly in theirs.  I didn't muslin the pattern, but I did use a fabric that I no longer loved, just in case.  I tried these on before attaching the waistband and was so disheartened that they sat crumpled up in a corner whilst I got on with something else.  Seriously, I couldn't walk in them.  After a couple of days I stopped sulking and sewed on the waistband, just to see if maybe that would miraculously fix the problem, but no go.  Here is what they look like.

Probably I should use a stripe if ever I decide to muslin jeans properly, because you can see all the weird things going on under my butt and down to my knees.

I didn't want to fall down a fitting rabbit hole because of the time constrains, so I then did a rub off a RTW pair of jeans by SABA.

I lay the MN Ash pattern on top of my rub-off, just to get an idea of what was wrong with the first pair.  At first glance, the patterns don't look so very different.

Then I slid the pattern around so that the centre front seam and crotch curve lined up.  This view suggests that the leg angle is very different and maybe that's why they felt so different to walk in.

Somehow, the height at the side seems similar at the front but nowhere near matches on at the back??

I made a dark navy pair and a green pair.   The green fabric is an enzyme washed denim and is beautifully soft.  These are the photos I submitted for the competition, but since then I have unpicked the crotch seam and shortened the front crotch and resewed them back together (yes, I unpicked top-stitching and overlocking and the seam, but it was worth it).

If I am going to use this pattern again, I should do adjustments for knock knees and full calves.  I have read alterations for these, but they don't feel like the right solution for me.  I feel like I need shaped seams rather than straight seams.  I want extra width at the calf without any more width at the ankle.


Silk satin + chiffon + lace

I dug into my box of "good" fabrics for this entry in the PR "match your shoes" contest.

Here are some of the notes from my PR entry:

Fabric Used:

I have had this fabric for a very long time. Possibly 8 - 10 years. I bought it on a holiday to Brisbane, when I stumbled across the Alla Moda Fabric Collection at the Emporium. I think I had gone to the Emporium for dance supplies for my daughter, as there is a Block dance shop there. The fabrics in the shop were glorious, but way over my usual fabric budget. In the end I splurged on a length of silk satin in a gorgeous dark olive green, and a matching length of silk chiffon and a piece of lace. Of course, I hardly bought enough to make anything, just 1.4 m of the fabrics and 0.5 m of the lace. I had envisioned a slip dress that could be worn alone, or worn with a sheer chiffon overlay. Then, I wanted to draft and perfect a pattern for this fabric, which I didn't get around to, so the fabric sat in my "good" box for a very long time. Now when I go back to the Bloch store, I don't even go into Alla Moda, being scared of the prices!

Only a few days after I bought the fabric, I saw some green "bedazzled" shoes in an op shop that matched my fabric purchases so well. A bargain at $8, though I did have to spend another $20 to get them re-heeled. I didn't notice that the bottom bits of the heels had fallen off when I bought them. The frenzy of op shopping!!

Finally I have made the dress for this competition. I didn't end up drafting my own pattern. There was so little fabric, that I thought before I start drafting, I might pull out an existing slip pattern to see if I even had enough fabric. In the end, I decided to use the existing pattern. It took a lot of pattern tetris and I had to pull in an extra knit fabric and elastics (that I had bought because they matched and I thought would make lovely underwear. Still to be sewn). 

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

Change to the slip pattern

1. Adding the lace. I cut the bodice cups using the selvedge of the satin fabric as the neckline, to minimise bulk. I sewed the darts in the cups, then lay the lace over the top. I didn't add any darts or shaping to the lace, and possibly I should have to get a better fit. I positioned the lace so that the scallops were mirrored on the left and right necklines, with the lace covering the fabric at the centre of the cups, but extending beyond the fabric at the top of the cups. I machine stitched the lace to the fabric, using a zig-zag stitch on the lace picot edge and a wavy stitch on the neckline selvedge. 

2. The pattern suggests sewing a hem edge on the top of the slip and then add on straps. I decided to create a bias binding finish that would extend into straps. Due to my fabric shortage, I had to piece a number of shorter lengths together, and then I managed to stretch out the back and it didn't look or fit so well. After much deliberation, I unpicked the binding along the back, then unpicked the entire back piece. I finished the top back edge with elastic (which colour matches perfectly!). This changed the height of the back piece, as I had to use a seam allowance that wasn't there, which is why I had to remove the entire back piece and sew it back in after the elastic was applied. I changed the positioning of the back straps so that the lace scallop would sit along the edge of the outer dress.

3. Hem line. I had enough of the satin fabric for a hi-low hem, but when I made the outer dress, I didn't, so I had to even out the back hem.

4. I hemmed the dress with a rolled hem on my overlocker.

Now the changes for the chiffon outer layer

5. I eliminated the sleeves.

6. I used an overlocker to construct the dress. Silk chiffon is delicate, frays and is sheer and I find that overlocking is the neatest method to sew even seams.

7. I finished the neck edge and armhole edges with a delicate knit fabric. The was mostly because I did not have enough of either the silk or chiffon to make facings or bindings. The knit bindings were much trickier than they sound. It was a stretchy, delicate knit and the chiffon was so light, that I didn't know how much to stretch the knit as I applied it. It is also one of those knits that curl like crazy. I basted the knit edges together and then basted them to the chiffon and when I was happy with it, I overlocked the seams.

8. I used knit fabric for the waistband. This was because I did not have enough chiffon.

9. Now that I was using knit fabric for some of the dress, I decided to add a panel of knit fabric to the side seams of the bodice. This way the dress could be pulled on and I would not have the trickiness of inserting a zip in extremely lightweight fabric.

10. I had to raise the back hem of the dress due to fabric shortages.

11. I finished the hem with a rolled edge. I had a bit of trouble with the rolled hem pulling away from the fabric in large sections. I googled and did not find much information to overcome this problem. In the end I put a mictrotex 60/8 needle in the overlocker and lengthened the stitch length (to more like 1.5, rolled hems are usually sewn with stitch length 1), to reduce the cutting effect of the overlocking on the fabric, particularly on the bias sections where the distance between fibres of the fabric is a bit longer.

Now that I look at the photos, I wish I had made an SBA to the dress bodice. I might even go back and fix this now, at the waistband seam, if I can.  Best do it whilst my overlocker is still threaded with matching thread.

Now for the twirl factor...