Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Sew Over It Lulu Dress (version 1)

Shortly after coming back from summer holidays, my favourite fabric store in Singapore (Sing Mui Heng) had a big sale...this coincided perfectly with my fingers itching to get back to sewing, and a friend who asked if I'd sew a few things for her. So off we went...and came back a little lighter in our wallets and weighed down with MUCH more than we intended to get. Isn't that always the way?!

My first finished item from this spree was the Sew Over It Lulu Dress.

It was a fun and relatively straightforward project, taking about 2 hours of sewing time in total (maybe less). I made a size 10 at the bust, moving out to a 12 at the waist and hips. Overall the fit is fine, but there's a strange 'bubble' just above my bust, below the neck notch. I can't quite determine why I have this bubble, but will keep trying to solve the problem before my next one. The sleeves are also a tiny bit snug just at the top of the armhole, so I might reduce the seam allowance a bit around the sleeves to see if that solves the issues. Otherwise, it's really comfortable to wear and looks great with a belt. 

My next Lulu top is for a friend. I should make a muslin, but I think I'll forge ahead with the first top and keep my fingers crossed that there aren't any major fit issues!

Pattern: Sew Over It Lulu Dress
Size: 10-12
Fabric: Art Gallery Fabrics (cotton)

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Colette Sorbetto tank with pin tucks

Last summer, while drooling over sale fabrics in Liberty of London, I picked up a three 1-metre pieces of tana lawn. Two were used for my Grainline Studio Lakeside Pajamas, and one sat in my stash, waiting for inspiration.

Inspiration hit about 3 days before we left for our summer holidays. I had just enough to make the Colette Sorbetto tank, and decided to add pin tucks down the centre. I liked the look of the sleeveless top on the Guthrie & Ghani website. Instead of modifying the basic pattern, as she suggests, I decided to sew the pin tucks into the fabric first, and then cut the top from the pin-tucked fabric. This works well if you want the pin tucks to go all the way down to the hem.

Colette patterns has re-issued the Sorbetto tank pattern with modified sizing, but I used the original pattern since it fits me pretty well. It doesn't appear that the original Sorbetto is still available online (it's a free download), but maybe I haven't looked hard enough. 

The only modification I made was to add 1/4" to the shoulders at the neckline (and remove a corresponding 1/4" at the armhole side) - I find all Colette and Seamwork patterns are too wide on my shoulders. 

I love sewing with cotton lawn. It's the perfect weight for clothing in Singapore, and doesn't wrinkle nearly as badly as linen. It's hard to find nice lawn in Singapore, so the few pieces I bought in London were treasured!

Pattern: original Colette Sorbetto tank with pin tucks
Size: 6, with adjustments at shoulders
Fabric: Liberty Tana Lawn (1 metre piece)*

*For some mysterious reason, Liberty of London puts giant stickers on their 1m remnant pieces in the sale bins. The glue on the stickers is REALLY hard to get off fabric, even with washing. 

Oliver + S Hopscotch Top v.2

In the midst of packing for our 4-week summer vacation in Canada, I decided to 'quickly' sew up a t-shirt for my niece (as you do when you should be packing!!). My sister-in-law and niece visited us in Singapore in May, and she bought some fabric so I could make a few things for her daughter. First up, a Hopscotch t-shirt.

Based on a previous version, I know this fits a bit small (particularly in length), so I made a size 2 with size 3 length. L is petite, but hopefully this will fit for a while. I had about 1/2 a yard, and just managed to squeeze out the long-sleeved version in this size.

I also used twill tape at the shoulders and the yoke seam, instead of interfacing. The tape was probably a bit wide, but otherwise worked well.

Pattern: Oliver + S Hopscotch t-shirt, size 2 (with size 3 length)
Fabric: not sure! A light-medium weight 95% cotton knit

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

A bit of block printing

One course in screen printing (with a bit of block printing)


An unexpected trip to India where lovely teak wood blocks are available relatively easily (and for good prices)


The decision to give emigrating friends a handmade gifts by which to remember us



2 table runners and 2 sets of 6 coasters


2 happy friends (we hope!)

Blocks from Block Beauty in Bangalore, India (they do accept online orders, and I think they ship overseas)
Paint - Speedball fabric paint

Friday, 5 May 2017

Made by Rae Bianca Dress

Here's how my sewing sometimes works:
1) Find some amazing fabric. Cannot resist buying it, but not sure what it'll be used for. Buy some (between 1m and 2.5m), hoping it'll be enough for something.
2) Wash it, and put it in stash. Gaze at it every so often, wondering what to do...
3) Spend far too long on the internet, independent pattern sites and Pinterest, looking for inspiration.
4) Several months (or years) later, find the PERFECT pattern, and the rest is history.

This dress has a similar history, except the fabric was a gift from a good friend who had the opportunity to spend a morning in the Mangaldas Market in Mumbai (so jealous!) and brought it back for me after I told her about my latest obsession with indigo dyes. And it only spent a few months in my stash, not years.

I have also spent a LOT of time checking out Made by Rae patterns, looking at other people's makes online (the researcher in me can't help it - all decisions need evidence behind them!), and wondering if the style would suit me. I took the plunge with the Bianca pattern:

I managed to squeeze the dress length out of the fabric I had. I also did the external facing, and cut the facing piece on the bias. The contrast isn't quite as dramatic as I'd hoped, but if you look closely, you can see the difference. Okay, maybe only I can! I made it in an afternoon and part of the evening (with significant interruptions from children, making dinner, etc. etc.). So not only is it fun to make, it's a quick sew too!

I was worried the style would be too 'maternity-like' on me, but I think this fabric has enough drape that it doesn't tent out too much under the elastic. It's a fairly thin cotton, so I did interface the facing pieces. I also used the elastic casing, rather than attempting shirring for the first time. 

Having worn it for a few hours, I can attest to the comfort and ease of wearing. And it's a perfect weight for the hot and humid days we're having. (Wait...that would be how it always is!)

My only issue was with the dye coming off on my fingers as I sewed (despite having pre-washed it). Hopefully this will become less of an issue after a few more washes. 

I'm inspired to make more tops with this pattern, and already have a request from a friend to make it with long sleeves. Maybe I'll even try the Washi dress/top next!

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Sew Over It Doris Dress

I have spent a very long time checking out the patterns by Sew Over It. Trying to decide if the style is really me. Can I pull of the retro look? Will it suit me? I almost bought the Vintage Shirt Dress pattern, and then decided to think some more. Ultimately, on our Christmas trip to London, I decided to leave the kids at home and venture out to Clapham ALONE (yay!) to visit Sew Over It in person. And...I walked away with not one, but 2 pieces of fabric, and the pattern for the Doris Dress. I fell in love with the cotton lawn first, and then had to find a pattern for it (not really a hardship!).

I made a muslin while my mother was visiting so I could get her to help with fitting issues. The dress has pleats on the front and back bodice, not darts. This was fine for the front, but I have a small back, and if I had used the ties to pull the dress as tight as I needed it, it wouldn't have looked great. So I re-drafted the pleats to make them darts and also re-drew the cutting lines very slightly for the back skirt pieces to fit the modified bodice.

The picture doesn't really do the fabric or the dress justice - I'll try to get a decent picture of the dress being worn! I cheated and didn't put buttonholes - just sewed the buttons on the front. The bodice doesn't have to open to get the dress on anyway.

This was my first Sew Over It pattern, and overall, I'm very pleased with the construction and the instructions. I would probably modify the way the invisible zip is added, but otherwise the instructions were clear and detailed.

So now I have my eye on the Vintage Shirt Dress again (having decided that it's a style I quite like, and I think suits me), and the gorgeous Atelier Brunette cotton lawn that is on the Sew Over It website. I'm trying to decide if it would be too indulgent to order some fabric and ask my sister-in-law to bring it with her when she visits us in a couple of weeks. It's really a good thing that shipping costs to Singapore are so high - it's the only thing that stops me from doing a lot more online fabric shopping!

Birthday Party Dress (the first)

I realised I completely forgot to blog about this dress when I first made it way back in October for A's 3rd birthday. She specifically requested an orange dress, and I was waiting for an occasion to make the Oliver + S Birthday Party Dress - perfect timing! And it was for a birthday party too!

I love this dress - the actual sewing was as fun as it was to see it on A for the first time. I also lucked out and got a lovely orange fabric. It's quilting cotton (I think it's Moda, although I can't actually remember). If I had a small quibble, it would be that the dress comes out a bit short, and it's hard to lengthen because it's finished with a hem facing. After 6 months of frequent wear, it is getting quite short, but A could wear it as a tunic with leggings.

I've made 2 of these dresses so far, and will definitely make more!

Friday, 21 April 2017

Tilly and the Buttons Miette Skirt

On our Christmas trip to London this past year, I decided (a bit impulsively) to buy a paper copy of the Miette Skirt pattern from Tilly and the Buttons. I spend FAR too long looking at independent pattern companies and their patterns online, and being tempted to get a pattern and then talking myself out of it. Usually if PDF versions aren't available, it's easy to pass up since shipping to Singapore is really expensive. But I did have my eye on Tilly and the Buttons for a while, so finally gave in to temptation and brought the pattern home. I need more basic skirts, and this one seemed quick to sew (no zips! no buttons!).

I stumbled across a lovely little fabric shop in Chinatown called Fabricity and when my mother was in town, I convinced her to go with me. They carry lovely shirting fabric, some Liberty prints, and some linen blends. So this linen-rayon blend turned into the Miette skirt:

I love the red-black colour of this fabric, but it is definitely a LOT of rayon with very little linen. It doesn't wrinkle and barely needs to be ironed. All great when it comes to wearability, but sewing it was a little challenging. It stretched out of shape, despite stay-stitching the waist, and the somehow the pocket pieces grew, so I had to put in a pleat on each pocket so they'd line up. But wow - are those deep pockets fabulous! Especially handy when you have small children needing you to carry their prized possessions around!

The pattern itself is really easy to sew, with clear instructions. It would be great for a beginner who wants a pretty end product without having to fuss with buttons and zips. 

New Look 6407

Last summer, going through my mother's sewing pattern collection, I found 2 blouse patterns that I thought I might be able to use in Singapore. It's taken me all this time to decide which one to make...and as it turns out, I ended up mashing them together into one blouse!

This was another example of having fabric and needing to find a pattern that would do the fabric justice, but also use the yardage I had on hand! 

I bought this beautiful Art Gallery voile a while ago - I love the colours and wanted something with a bolder pattern than I usually wear. I didn't have enough fabric for the sleeves in the original pattern, so I used another New Look pattern to draft a sleeveless blouse and finished the armholes with a bias binding (made from the same voile). 

Overall, I'm really happy with this blouse and the fit. The darts aren't perfect, but they're pretty close. The best part is the fabric...I am in LOVE with Art Gallery voile. It's soft and luxurious to wear, and perfect for hot and humid weather. I have another yard of voile in a turquoise that I bought for my daughter but I might just steal it away for some selfish sewing... ;)

Friday, 14 April 2017

Oliver + S Hula Hoop Skirt

Which 3-year old doesn't like swingy skirts?! So far (much to my relief), my daughter hasn't caught the tutu-craze that seems to be endemic amongst most girls her age. But she does like skirts that are easy to pull on and off. Having already made her several Badminton Skorts, I thought I should try something new. And, since Miss A is especially picky about what she wears these days, I had to check the fabric choices with her first!

I picked up the red cotton when I was in London 2 years ago, and the blue chambray is from an a-line skirt that failed terribly. I kept the failed skirt so I could re-use the fabric and there is plenty for at least 2 more skirts for little girls. If you look carefully, you'll see that I made a mistake when I cut the red skirt pieces, and the direction of the print is reversed from front to back. Oops! Oh well - hopefully no one will notice! It can be part of the 'wear this skirt inside out and back to front...any way you want' look!

I love the way this skirt goes together - fast and simple and no seams to finish! I did read some comments that other people have found their Hula Hoop skirts to be quite short. This doesn't seem to be an issue for me, but perhaps that's because A pulls anything she wears (skirts, shorts) down below her belly!

I really do love this skirt, and am already going through my stash of remnant fabric to see what else I can use for another one.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Liesl + Co City Stroll Wrap Skirt

I've had the pattern for this skirt waiting to be cut for a while, but finally got around to it after my knit sewing spree last weekend.

I used a linen/cotton blend from Robert Kauffman and thought of lining it, but decided it was probably fine without. I made my own single fold bias tape (1" folded) from a cotton fabric I used for a (only partially successful) Colette Dahlia dress rather than cutting the facing piece from the pattern. I did think of using a large hook (rather than buttons), but was impatient to wear it and didn't have time to go and buy the right hardware, so I used snaps instead, which seem to be fine. 

It's been a long time since I wore my tops tucked into my skirts, but this one definitely looks better if I tuck in my blouse/t-shirt. After test-driving the skirt for a day, I can attest to the fact that it's VERY comfortable, and only shifts slightly as the day goes on. It is a bit shorter than I'm used to wearing, so I may lengthen it by a couple of inches next time. Then again, it's perfect for the weather in Singapore.

I made a straight size 10, but you can see that the waistband doesn't overlap quite as much as it's supposed to, so next time I might do a size 12 at the waist and grade it down to a 10 around the hips. Clearly I need to be more honest about my waist measurement...

Liesl recently wrote a great blog post about a 'core' wardrobe, and this skirt definitely fits into that category. I think I need a few more in some neutral colours! And next time I'll cut the hem facing piece - the wide bias was difficult to sew flat on the inside edge and I ended up having to take a few tucks as I sewed. It doesn't show on the outside, which is good, but I'd like a cleaner finish on the inside. My inner perfectionist is rearing its head...

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Oliver + S Hopscotch T-shirt

Like so many things, sometimes the more you know, the more daunted you feel. When I was pregnant with my son, I sewed a maternity dress in a knit fabric, not having read anything about sewing with knits (I didn't even know what a ballpoint needle was for my machine!). I forged ahead, and the finished product was fine - passable and wearable as an 'around-the-house' maternity dress for the summer. I don't even know if the pattern was meant for knit fabric!

Then...then came the endless hours of reading sewing blogs, Pinterest, and the mounting fear of sewing with knits. Ah...knowledge isn't always power. So then for the last 3 years, I've felt that knits were just a bit beyond me. Give me complicated dart manipulations any day...

Two things changed in the last month. My generous parents bought me a Babylock serger (THANK YOU!) and I realised that if I was going to venture into sewing with knits, Oliver + S patterns were the place to start. Also, my daughter insisted that I buy her knit fabric with cats.

So here's what happened:

The oliver + s Hopscotch t-shirt - my very FIRST knit fabric project! I discovered that, 1) my serger is even more fantastic than I thought, 2) my Pfaff sewing machine has a great lightning stitch for knits, 3) I really need to figure out how to use the other stretch stitches on my sewing machine, but with a serger, do I really need to?, and 4) I actually LIKE sewing with knits! I didn't have a twin needle for the hem, so I just faked it and did 2 lines of straight sewing.

I immediately made another Hopscotch Dress. How cute is this pattern?!

Then I made myself a tank top, which was a frustrating experience, but more on that later.

Now I just wish I could get more nice knits in Singapore. I guess that's what online shopping is for...

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Liesl + Co Bistro Dress

I've been forgetting to blog about this for a very LONG time. I made this dress for myself last spring, and have worn it a lot since then, but somehow the picture didn't get taken, and thus the blog post didn't get written.

For this dress, I made a muslin, then after getting my mother's expert advice via Skype (yes, Skype!), I modified the bust dart by moving it down and back (using a wonderful online tutorial on dart manipulation from Itch to Stitch - thank you so much for the clear and easy instructions!). 

As with everything from Liesl + Co and oliver + s, the instructions were clear and easy, and I really enjoyed sewing this dress. The only place I differed was when inserting the invisible zip. I really like the method taught by Devon Iott on the Colette patterns sew-along for the Dahlia dress (found here). It's worked for me on other projects, so just stuck with what I was comfortable doing.

I love this dress. My only small quibble is that the armhole is slightly too tight, as is the sleeve circumference. I have since, with my mother's help (this time in person!), modified the armscye so that hopefully in the next dress, it won't be quite as snug. I might also make it without the belt next time (right after I took this picture, the front 2 belt loops fell off!).

Pattern: Liesl+Co Bistro Dress
Fabric: Cloud 9 Wildwood
Size: Bust 6, Waist 10, Hips 8 (with added dart manipulation)

Sailboat Pants

These pants have been a long time in the making. I got the fabric (Robert Kaufman Essex Yarn Dyed linen and cotton blend) several months ago and then got distracted by other projects so this kept getting pushed back. After the guilt of only sewing for my daughter took over, I finally took out the oliver + s Sailboat Pant pattern. 

These are really quick and fun to sew (even after I nearly ruined the front piece by cutting on the wrong line...thank goodness for interfacing and the facing piece of the pants!) and look great when worn. I made a size 5, which is perfect in length and just had to tighten the back elastic to fit his slim waist. The small details (the buttons, the side vent) are a great design feature and add interest when sewing. I'll definitely make them again. I'm tempted to buy the smaller size pattern so I can make a pair for my daughter!

Pajama Time - Take 1

A common hazard of taking a 3-year old to the fabric store is that she insists that you buy a very haphazard selection of fabrics that she absolutely must have. In order to deflect an oncoming tantrum in Spotlight, I gave in a bought several metres of a fabric that I originally had no intention of bringing home.

The outcome...two sets of pajamas (many months after said purchase of unnecessary fabric). They were both a mash-up. The first set, for my son, was the Sailboat Top from oliver + s with shorts from my new Japanese sewing book (Sew Chic Kids).

The fabric for the top is a nice cotton, but the gray fabric is a poplin, which isn't particularly soft. My kids, however, are both slightly obsessed with foxes (their mutual imaginary friend is a fox) so they're both thrilled with their pajamas. My son specifically wanted shorts with a long-sleeve top. 

I chose the Sailboat Top because it should be easy to put on without help from a grown-up. I used the chest measurement as a guide, but found the top to be slightly snug. It's fine once it's on, but could have a bit more ease for pulling on and off. I did lengthen the sleeves after reading some comments from other people, but think they could be lengthened more. 

The most important thing is that they're both happy with their matching pjs! Coming up soon, when she stands still long enough, the fox pajamas for my daughter!

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Grainline Studio Lakeside Pajamas v.1

After a little spree of sewing for my children, I managed to fit in something for me...the Grainline Studio Lakeside Pajamas!

The lighting isn't great (too lazy to wait until the morning to take pictures!), and I can't bring myself to model pajamas for a blog post, so the 'flat on the bed' look will have to do for now.

This is a practice run for the actual pajamas I want to make. When in London for the holidays, an uncontrollable force drew me into Liberty, and that same force made it impossible for me to pass up the chance to buy some HALF PRICE Liberty tana lawn! They were 1m pieces (presumably from a past season?), and it was hard to stop at just 3 pieces. I wandered around the store wondering what to do with this amazing fabric, when it hit me...pajamas for ME! So I bought 2 pieces of one print, and a single of a second print (I have yet to decide what that will become). Before I cut into the precious Liberty fabric, I thought I'd test the pattern and the construction techniques on some cotton I picked up in Chinatown.

I'm pleased that these are a perfectly wearable trial version. I did make a small mistake with the bias on the shorts, but hopefully no one will notice. I usually attach bias from the wrong side first, then top stitch it on the right side, but due to the way the shorts are constructed, I really do have to follow the instructions in this pattern (the first seam is on the right side of the fabric, then you turn the bias to the wrong side). Despite needing nearly 7m of bias for this pattern, I think I might just make my own for the Liberty version - I can't bring myself to put scratchy store-bought bias on such lovely fabric!

Pattern: Grainline Studio Lakeside Pajamas (Digital PDF)
Fabric: Japanese cotton from Chinatown (in Singapore)
Modifications: I used 1" elastic, instead of 1 1/4" and did a line of topstitching at the top of the waistband to help keep the elastic in place

Another knitting project

I mentioned in an earlier post that I'd picked up some lovely yarn from the Beehive Wool Shop in Victoria, BC. One skein was for a cowl for my great-aunt, who lives on Quadra Island, BC. I took the skein and my needles to London this Christmas, hoping that I'd find the time to knit something small while on holiday. Thanks to long car rides and traffic jams on the M25 (ugh!), I managed to finish most of this cowl over 2 1/2 weeks of our Christmas holiday. 

The pattern is 'That Nice Stitch' by Susan Ashcroft, and is free on Ravelry. It's a lovely pattern that shows off the colours in variegated yarn really well. The best part is that the pattern can be used on any weight of yarn, and the suggested size of needles for each weight is provided. I used the entire skein, so the cowl is quite long, but I'm sure my aunt will find a creative way to wear it!

Yarn: Zen Garden Serenity Silk Single in Feisty

Needles: 4mm circular (although you can use straight needles too)

Sunday, 22 January 2017

An Oliver + S sewing spree

It's January. Kids are back at school, life is in a 'normal' routine, and the anticipated start date of a new job has been pushed back by at least a month. AND my parents are visiting for a month. So what does this mean? An unexpected extra month of guilt-free sewing time. With the two little ones spending all their free time with their grandparents, I can happily spend time holed up in my sewing space, undisturbed.

And I've been on an oliver + s sewing spree...

Oliver + S Family Reunion Dress

Close up of the front (pardon the bad ironing crease!)

Badminton Skort 1

Badminton Skort 2

Contrast fabric for the shorts on the Badminton Skort

Sketchbook Shorts

Sketchbook Shorts - finally got the pleats right!

I bought 1 yard (54" wide) of the navy blue polka dot fabric (a Japanese cotton) and it was enough for one skort, plus the shorts and waistband on a second pair. I have enough of the mushroom fabric to make a contrast yoke on a dress or tunic, or a small skirt. 

My first pair of Sketchbook Shorts were a bit of a failure - the pleats didn't come out in the right place, I did something wrong with the faux fly, and couldn't get the waistband to sit properly. My son still wears them (thank goodness for long t-shirts that cover up these mistakes!). Thankfully, this second pair seemed to sew up without any issues - I probably just paid a more attention when I was sewing! They're quite long, so I put in a wider hem and turned them up for a cuff. If my son keeps growing taller, and not wider, they should fit for a while.

There was also a pair of (un-photographed) linen pajama pants for my husband. On to some sewing for myself...a Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress, and the Grainline Studio Lakeside Pajamas. Let's see how productive I can be in the next 10 days!