rennous-oh-glennus

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Itchy Feet

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I feel like the recent blog writing blog-hop has opened a bit of a can of worms, don’t you?  It seems like there’s been a genuine interest to find out a little more about what makes the people behind the blogs tick.  I know in one of my comments I said that I was a bit hesitant to share much other than sewing on my blog as I know that’s what most people come here for & I wasn’t sure whether there would be much interest in posts about other stuff.  Which is silly because I’ve always loved reading everyone else’s non-sewing posts!

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But I have definitely been encouraged by the response to the blog hop and I hope you have too!  I hope we all continue to to share posts on whatever interests us and not limit ourselves to any external expectations we think might exist.

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Anyway, today I wanted to write about a thought that developed in my head over my days off this week. 

After work on Tuesday, I headed off in the car to go camping.  This is something I used to do religiously once a month a few years ago.  It was what kept me sane, and if I was overdue for a trip my co-workers would observantly point out that it was time I went.  Then when I started to really get into sewing I would spend all my free time doing that.  As much as I loved camping, I found that I had discovered another way to help me switch off.  It wasn’t until I went away this week that I realised that while they’re completely different, sewing had become my new camping. Instead of dreaming about maps and the bush I was dreaming about fabric and patterns.  It was what occupied my mind outside of work.

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I feel fortunate to have taken up hobbies that are all consuming.  But in a way I feel like they’ve been a bit of barrier to learning, discovering & doing other amazing things.  I also think that having a sewing blog to maintain adds a little bit of pressure- you know, the need to make stuff so that there are blog posts to write.  I don’t think I’ll ever stop sewing, but I do feel like it’s time to broaden my horizons a little bit.  That, and I really have more clothes than I need.

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So this got me to thinking about all of the other things I wanted to make more time for:

- reading more

- learning to knit

- learning more about DSLR functions & capabilities

- learning how to weave

- learning more dyeing techniques, especially natural dyeing and shibori

- learning about pottery/ ceramics

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I love making and I love the satisfaction and excitement of learning and mastering new crafts.  I have some pretty tight space restrictions in my apartment so some of these things will be on hold indefinitely. That’s fine though, I’m in no hurry.

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So that’s where my head’s at.  Does any of this ring true for you as well?  Do you have a long list of crafty adventures on your to-do list? Or anything else that you’ve always wanted to try but never made time for?

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Seeing Double, Twice - Grainline Alder Dress

Well this is something, innit?

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Two things you’ve seen here before but combined into new & improved awesomeness!

When I posted my Hannah Top a while back, y’all went a bit dotty (went there, I did) for the fabric.  And it would seem that we were on the same page ‘cause I thought to myself ‘I need me some more of that fabricy goodness’.  So I went back & got myself another 2 metres.  Not intentionally, of course (I went in for buttons), but I felt it my duty of care not to leave it there gathering dust & feeling unloved.  Fabric has feelings too, you know.

And then there’s the Alder, this time made up in View B.  I honestly wasn’t sold on the gathers & hi-lo business from looking at the line drawings, but after seeing the samples, my objections had been somewhat altered!

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I’m so glad I gave this version a go because it’s so floaty and fun!  One of those things that you don’t need to fuss with at all and you can relax and feel great in.  It’s still been a bit on the chilly side, so with the exception of Mocktails a few weeks ago, I’ve been wearing it with a t-shirt underneath & tights.  Verrrrr Melbourne!

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As with my first Alder, I followed the sew-along to the letter.  Two posts I found particularly useful were the ones showing the Mandarin Collar variation  and gathering tips.  No word of I lie when I say that these gathers are in a league of their own compared to any I’ve done before.  If you haven’t seen the post, do yourself a favour & go check it out, pronto. 

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Since I’ve finished this dress, Jen also put up a post on French seaming a right angle which I’d be interested to try out should I make this again.  In the absence of this tutorial, I decided to bind my edges instead.  My feelings towards bias binding have been well documented, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I could have mitred the corners but instead I did the top and sides separately. It does give a lovely result, despite being a bit of a bore to apply.

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I can also tell you  that for the first time I attached all of the buttons using my machine.  I have an old & pretty simple machine (a 70s model designed for use in schools, I’m told) so there’s not a heap of functions to play around with, but I had always wondered about the buttons. Often I’ll use buttons with a shank so they need to be sewed on by hand but since I was using holey buttons here, I thought it was time to experiment.

Obviously I’m not sure how it works on other machines, but for mine it is ridiculously easy.  In a nutshell:

1. Remove foot

 2. Set stitch length to zero

3. Set stitch width to 3-ish (depends on how far apart holes in button are)

4. Lay button on fabric, lower arm & stitch

You can see that the arm is really just holding the button in place. My machine amazingly also still has the button reed which can be slotted between the button & the fabric so that you get a little thread shank rather than the button being flush with the fabric.

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Lordy, lordy, lordy.  Why did it take me so long to try? The whole process was over in a matter of minutes!  Way to finish off a project in a flurry!

So this is me and Alder done for now.  I do have a plaid cheesecloth shirt-length version in View B floating around in my head, but that will have to wait till I finish off some of that massive list of WIPs :p  Not to mention all of those other ideas floating around in my noggin’.  So many ideas and never enough time or closet space. Sigh.

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Behind the Scenes at r-oh-g HQ (Blog Hop O’clock)

Hello friends! 

I hope you’re not all sick of the writers’ blog hop just yet, ‘cause I’m the next stop & am here today to share my thoughts on the subject!  I’ve been really enjoying hearing about everyone’s writing inspirations & processes so I was pretty chuffed when Nicole who blogs over at The Somnolent Dachshund deemed my lil’ ol’ blog interesting enough to hear more about.

 Over the past little while, Nicole & my friendship has progressed from sewing buddies to actual buddies.  These days we catch up over Japanese beverages- sake for Nicole, umeshu or yuzu for me, or beer for both of us.  This is the power of our online musings.  New buddies.

Anyway, without further ado (or waxing lyrical) let’s crack on with business.   

Why do you write?

As some of you know, a little while ago there was a bit of an issue between Tumblr & Bloglovin’.  What this meant for me is that none of my posts were showing up for anyone following along on Bloglovin’.  It was very quiet over here & I was considering changing platforms like Gillian did.  But then I had a bit of an epiphany because I realised:

I write for me.

I’ve always been a bit of a closed book.  I was once told that I’d erected a big wall around myself & that there were a whole lot of people banging on the outside to get in.  So obviously, being open does not come easily to me, and this is me trying my very best to put a bit of myself out there.  Even if sewing may seem like folly, it’s been a great vehicle for me to share, which is not something I’ve ever done a lot of.  And even if no-one is reading, I’m still sharing. 

Having said that though, I guess I also thought I had nothing to say that would interest anyone, so to read your comments is such an enormous encouragement.  You are all the people banging on the wall… thank you!!

What are you currently working on?

In every other aspect of my life that I can think of, I tend to be disciplined. Sewing however is a different story altogether, and it makes me very happy to write that.  First & foremost, sewing for me is fun.  It’s my way to unwind and to remove myself from the pressures that I put on myself by being disciplined, I guess.

So that’s my way of saying, no judging my massive jumble of WIPs:

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In my infinite wisdom, I decided I wasn’t going to have a bar of that million kilometres of binding business, so instead I’ve made my life really difficult by drafting facings & adding a lining.  Not my finest hour but I’m chipping away a little bit at a time. It WILL work.

 I’ve made 2 pairs so far, have another 2 cut out & there will be more on top of that.  Most comfortable undies I have ever worn. Full stop.

  • A whole bunch of singlets.

I made a rub-off of my favourite singlet earlier in the year & it’s always first cab (singlet) off the rank when it’s out of the wash.  I’m also working on a tutorial on how I bind the neckline & make the straps.

**Anna, I actually have something for you!  A test run actual top. For real  :) **

  • A pair of jeans. 

Initially I drafted my own using my block but, well…….. yeah, nah.  I’m now trying Burdastyle 03/2014 #115.  They’re ok, but I think I’m going to have to franken-pattern the top half of my block with the bottom half of the Burdastyle pattern.  It hasn’t been a walk in the park, I can tell you that much.

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It looks like I’m about to teach myself how to do an FBA with a French dart dress.  Hmmmm, this project may just have lost some of its appeal ;)

I was soooo close to having this one done, but I need to go back & do some unpicking & bring in the sides.  The unpicking is going to involve some of the understitching; the thought of which makes my blood run cold for some reason.

This is how I roll, people. Just try & imagine the state of my apartment right now. Bedlam I tells ye, BEDLAM.

How does it differ from other sites of its genre?

Much to the disappointment of my Grandma, I was never interested in trying to be different (this is not the same as saying I want to be the same as everyone, oh no!  I am me, and I don’t much see the point of trying to be different just for the sake of it [read: to get more followers], is all). To be honest, I’m really not sure what keeps my readers interested & coming back for more.  I don’t have a particular style and I find myself jumping all over the place.  I don’t think I’m privy to any secret sewing know-how. I don’t take pretty ‘location’ photos.  I’m not a comedian.  I dunno.  Maybe you all dig the complete random selection of stuff that pops up on these pages.

Besides, I think we can all agree that humans have come to far too many blows, and will continue to do so, over focussing on differences.  We are all one, yo.

How does your writing process work?

Usually, although not always, I take my photos, edit them & then base my words around that.  I’ll take notes as I sew if I think of anything that might be of interest or use to others, or if I think of a witty little quip (this in particular does not happen very often :p ).  I’ve never been an especially eloquent person so writing gives me the opportunity to slowly put my thoughts together & say what I want to say, in the way I want to.

Sometimes writing is HARD.  I’ll go through a patch where I haven’t really felt like writing & when I come back to it I’ll read what I’ve written & it feels incredibly dry.  Those are the times I start to question why I write because I feel like I have nothing interesting to say.  At other times the words flow more freely and I feel like I get ‘me’ down on the page.  The biggest compliment I can receive about my blog is when an IRL friend reads it & tells me “I can JUST imagine you saying that, Jenny!”  That’s the best.

Writing for me is a pretty slow process.  It takes me several hours to write each post, not including all the time taking & editing photos. I write & re-write, read & re-read probably at least 15 times for each post. I usually write in the afternoon when I get home from work & when I do, it’s basically the whole afternoon/ evening gone. How people like Peter from MPB post nearly every day is beyond me.

Passing the baton

As a wannabe 2nd & 3rd language speaker, I’m ever impressed by the likes of Inge & Yoshimi (& others, of course!) who write in a language that is not their first.  God knows I have enough trouble in English, so I really don’t know how they do it.   Ladies, if you’d care to share your thoughts on your writing process, I’d be all ears, but of course, there is no obligation and there will be no hard feelings if you decide this isn’t your cup of tea.

Thank you everyone who stayed with me this far, it’s been a wordy one today. Looks like you caught me in an especially introspective mood, Nicole!

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Things I Love About Winter- Tamanegi-kobo Peridot & New Look 6265

In the interests of breaking up the Grainline fever round these parts (2 posts down, 2 to go!) I thought I’d share a couple of things I’ve been practically living in since I finished them.  This could be one my favourite ensembles ever:

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I use the term ensemble loosely, of course :p

Not really much to write home about, I know.  Not a French seam in sight. Nor a hand stitch.  Or even a scrap of silk.  Nope, this is about as basic as it gets.

And yet I love them so!  They have been keeping me comfy and warm for a good part of the winter. 

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The jumper is the Peridot Pullover from Tamanegi-kobo.  I have Nicole to thank for this purchase.  I had no idea that some of their patterns were available in English till she gave me the heads up.  I know there are plenty of other hoodie patterns floating around, but this one ticks all the boxes for me:

  raglan sleeves - check!

  hood - check!

  kangaroo pocket - check!

  slim shape - check!

  cropped length - check!

The instructions are sparse, but that’s pretty standard for Japanese patterns.  The simple nature of this project and the diagrams mean that this shouldn’t be an obstacle for most people though.

One of my favourite things about this pattern is the way the hood is put together.  Instead of having an outer hood piece and a lining hood piece with a seam around the edge, there is a single piece for both left and right sides that get folded in half so that there’s a seam running over the crown.  I’m not sure how much sense that made, so have a look at this instead:

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Neat, huh?

After finishing, I decided that the ¾ sleeves combined with the cropped length made the whole thing look like it had shrunk in the wash.

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It took me a few weeks to work up the patience but I finally unpicked the cuffs and made some new extra-long ones that are 7cm longer than the original length.  Much better, I think!

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The tracksuit pants are New Look 6265 (OOP) that has been taking up space in my stash for a good 10 years, I reckon!  Again, I know there are other ‘on trend’ trackie patterns going around but these were never intended to be a fashion statement.

For such a basic pattern I’m super, super happy with how these turned out.  So happy in fact that I made two pairs! The fit you see is direct from the pattern.  Thank YOU New Look!

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My waistbands are a little bit different from the one included in the pattern.  I just used casings for the elastic and added 3 rows of stitching through all layers of the grey pair because the elastic was twisting and turning and driving me nuts.  I also decided to ditch the ties, because I don’t need to be chasing those stupid shoe lace thingies around when one end gets pulled into the casing, you know?  I know you know! 

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Also, I skipped the slits at the bottom of the legs ‘cause I want warm ankles, yo!  Down with cold ankles!!

Well, for such a seemingly uninteresting pair, I sure had a lot to say!  I’ve pretty much given up trying to second guess what people will find interesting because the posts I don’t expect to garner much interest always do!  So, there you go.

Conclusion:

Snuggly and very awesome.   

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Same, Same, But Different- OWOP 2014

So OWOP has come back with a vengeance and I won’t say I wasn’t excited by its return!  For friends & family not familiar with OWOP: a) hello! *waves* and b) follow that link to find out what this is all about. My pattern of choice this time round was a no-brainer… enter the Grainline Moss Mini Skirt …again! Now, now, no eye rolling please, you all knew where that was going.

True to form, the past week has seen a whole gamut of weather conditions hit Melbourne.  Normally it does my head in, but this time it’s been a great chance to show you how I style the Moss Mini for all seasons.

Anyhoo, let’s let the pictures do the talking!  Actually, before we do that, I’ll do a bit more talking.  Since my week involves going to work for 5 days where I promptly change out of my civvies & into a uniform, you’ll probably notice a discrete lack of makeup & accessories most days.  That’s my life.  In other words, if the thought of Jenny au naturel offends, tune out now!!  Fair warning.

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Those of you with a keen eye & good memory will notice a sneaky new Moss on Wednesday!  I’ll do a proper post in a little while showing you all the mods I made.  It was all pretty straightforward & I’m really pleased with the results.

So that was my week that was OWOP.  I don’t think I had any major revelations- I think I always knew that I liked tights, scarves & cardis and that this skirt is a great layering piece that can be styled in many ways for every season.  I have actually enjoyed wearing the same thing styled differently for the whole week though because it’s forced me to be a bit more inventive & less repetitive with my outfits.  I especially like Saturday and Wednesday’s efforts.  I hope all of you participating in OWOP had a fun week & discovered some new styling options for you favourite patterns! 

And lastly can I also say a big howdy & welcome back to all my Bloglovin’ friends!  Tumblr & Bloglovin’ have kissed & made up (big yay!) so now you’ll be getting your regular dose of r-oh-g! (not that you’ve really missed much in the past little while ) Woohoo!

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Queue Jumper- Grainline Alder Dress

I have so many things ready to share with you, but I was so excited when I finished this yesterday that I decided I needed to bust out the camera ASAP!

Most of you will already be familiar with Grainline’s Alder Shirtdress.  Jen has developed a really distinctive style to her pattern line and this is such a great addition.  One of the things I really appreciate about Grainline is that the patterns aren’t dumbed down and there’s always some way you can improve your skills- without doubt my favourite patternmaker.  I love both versions of this pattern.  This one is View A, and I have another dress in View B waiting on a collar & buttons.

I followed the sewalong religiously as I was making this.  There are so many nifty tricks & tips that really help you achieve a beautifully made garment.  The collar instructions are a lot more user friendly than those in the Traveller Dress. It’s still a bit of a fiddle, but it feels like there’s less room for error.  Proof is in the puddin’, yah?

I also tested out both methods for assembling the yoke- the method found in the instructions for this dress, and the burrito method for my other one.  Both give great results, but I love the burrito method purely for the ‘hey presto!’ factor!

The only alterations I made to the pattern were to lengthen it by 3cm through the body and to remove a tiny 1cm wedge from the yoke where it meets the dress back at the arm/ shoulder.  Consequently it’s a little tight under the arms but I’d rather that than gaping.  I could probably also use a swayback adjustment but honestly I don’t really mind on this dress given that it’s a looser and more casual style.  You’re too busy looking at that awesome fabric to notice anyway, right?!

It’s Nani Iro’s Pierre POCHO in teal that I picked up earlier this year in Japan.  It was about half the price of what we pay here & I’m kind of bummed I didn’t buy more but you know… only so much room in the luggage an’ all that :(  By the by, have you seen the most recent additions to Nani Iro’s 2014 range? Biscuit Rare & Fruity Pocho….. ummmm, HELLO & yes please!

I also managed to perfectly match the buttons, and from the stash no less!!  Finding a good button match is mega-satisfying at the best of times, but stash shopping… well that’s just NEXT LEVEL!  They came from Buttonmania during the Nicholas Building’s Open Studios last year.  I was so looking forward to stocking up again during open studio last week but there was a tailor set up in there!  Oh well, good for him & a bit disappointing for me, I guess. Boo!

I made sure I was extra careful with my buttonholes too.  I often run out of patience towards the end, but was so chuffed with my sewing up to that point that I thought the effort would be worth it.  Those of you with your fandangled automatic buttonholer doo-dads will find this kind of hilarious no doubt, but hot-diggity, it totally worked!  Will you just look at those 4 step buttonholes?!

Like a pro!

I can’t wait to wear this once the weather warms up properly.  My mood is instantly elevated when I look at that fabric and it’s going to be so comfy in the heat.

Stay tuned for View B…. and other stuff!

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Process Over Product: Du Barry 5813

This year has been all about knits for me.  You probably wouldn’t know it from poking around here though.  The thing is that I haven’t felt inspired by many of my knit makes enough to share them on my blog.  There’s been more Plantains, a Bronte Top, more cardigans and countless other things.  I guess the thing for me is that while they’ve all been on high rotation (actually, some don’t even get rotated… just worn straight through till next wash :s  ) and therefore a success as far as wearability is concerned, I just haven’t got any satisfaction from making them. 

Sure, it’s a great feeling to be able make all your own clothes, and make things that get worn, but sewing is more than that for me.  It’s not that I necessarily  feel the need to learn something new every time I sew.  It’s more that I had to work for it, I guess.  You know, like when you earn something rather than have it handed to you.

Anyway, I suppose my point is to try and aim for balance.  Too much fanciful sewing = a wardrobe full of clothes with nothing to wear while too much practical sewing = little satisfaction.  

So for no reason other than ‘I felt like it’, I decided to bust out my old fave Du Barry 5813 again.

You may have seen my 2 versions from last year (poly chiffon here & silk cotton voile here) and I have to say I’m still very much in love with this pattern even after version number 3. It features so many cute 40s details but somehow doesn’t look dated or overly twee.  A pattern that has really stood the test of time!  And it’s fun to make, to boot :)

For this version, I wanted a fabric that would be a little more everyday friendly; something  that is not only easy to wash but also not too dressy.  I settled on a cute cotton seersucker from Miss Matatabi. While I’ve spent many an hour over the years trawling through her selection of almost edible fabrics, this was my first time ordering.  Making a decision was virtually impossible (kind of reminded me of shopping at Nomura Tailor…. what is it about Japanese fabrics?!) but in the end am very happy with my choice.  The colours are a little less saturated than I was expecting (I know, always risky with online purchases) but that’s probably for the best if I’m going to extract maximum wear.  The prices are great and my package arrived within the week!

Anyway friends, since there’s nothing to see here that you haven’t seen before, what I’d like to know is what it is about sewing (or any other creative pursuit) that gets you going.  Is it the making?  The wearing? The using?  Or something else?

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Silk Shibori Scarf à la Tribute August

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Inspiration.

It’s everywhere and it can get awfully overwhelming…the state of my apartment is testament to that… hello 4 projects on the go at one time!  Despite its tendency to make me feel a little claustrophobic at times I wouldn’t have it any other way- it brings me and my home to life.  And that’s thanks to the likes of all the Sewcialists (and other creative types, of course) out there… yes, YOU!

This here is my very modest contribution to Tribute Month.  It’s impossible to say that one person influences me more than any other, so for this particular project I decided to combine elements from 3 amazing ladies who are inspiring me at the moment; Morgan and her lovely shibori experiments, Melanie and her mad hand sewing & couture skills and Sophie and her outdoor, DIY photo taking courage.  It’s highly likely that you’re already familiar with these lovelies and the high calibre of their work, so to see their names pop up here should be no surprise at all!

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For the shibori, I decided to try itajime (or shape resist technique) and I used some supplies that I had on hand, all from Beautiful Silks (now sadly online only). The fabric is silk habotai and the dyes are black and rose heatfix dyes for protein fibres.  I won’t go into detail about the process, because this is only the 4th time I’ve tried shibori so my approach to it is extremely trial and error and I’m not sure I could give you insight that you couldn’t find elsewhere.  Given the experimental nature of this dying project, I’m pretty chuffed with both the colours and pattern.  And I just love the surprise when you unfold your fabric- you never quite know how it’s going to turn out. The element of letting go that comes with shibori is the best.

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Usually I’m not one for optional hand stitching. I’ll do a little bit when I have to, but for scarves, I’m shamelessly a rolled hem foot kinda gal.  But since this project was all about channelling inspiration, I thought I’d take a leaf out of Melanie’s book at hand stitch that sucker!  I used the hand rolled hem tutorial on Coletterie as a guide but put my own spin on it by overcasting the edge.  My stitches are far from even but I quite like the effect nonetheless.  Much prettier than a machine hem, that’s for sure!

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And photo-wise, I really have to push myself to be creative with how I document my projects.  I love photography, but I hate drawing attention to myself and stepping out solo & taking photos of yourself is a sure fire way to achieve that!!  I had initially planned to get all carefree and do some outdoor self-timer shots with me wearing it, but I don’t have a tripod & was seriously struggling to get the focus right so I settled with some outdoor still life instead :)  This is tribute month, not copying month after all! 

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So that’s my little tribute to not just 3 superstars, but every superstar.  You all continue to inspire me whether you know it or not…. and whether I know it or not! You push me to consciously as well as unconsciously try new things and develop new skills. Thanks all you SUPERSTARS, you!

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Outback Chic

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Fact of the day: bare legs and spinifex do not mix.  And that’s how these wadders ended up in the Kimberly.

These pants are M Patterns 145- Semi Straight Pants (can’t find a link for them anywhere), generously gifted to me by Yoshimi when she was visiting last year.  While I have a pants pattern that fits to a T, I thought it would be fun to try these out anyway as this is just the silhouette I’ve been trying (unsuccessfully) for.

Needless to say they don’t quite cut the mustard! But they’re actually perfect for a trip to the bush where function reigns over form.  I mean, lightweight pants that not even the prickliest spinifex can prickle through… that’s a win!

Anyway, this got me to wondering- what do y’all do with your wadders?  Do you use them as pjs, do you do the gardening in them, do you use them to polish the silver, does the cat use them as a favourite cosy nap spot, or do you stuff them in the gramophone?  I’m all ears! Let’s breathe life back into the wadders!

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Holiday Hits

As much as I dream about winter coats at this time of year, truth be told is that after singlets and tights, the thing I find most useful is long sleeved t-shirts. 

There’s so many basic t-shirt patterns around that it can be difficult trying to decide which one to make.  But I love me a raglan sleeve, and the gathers on Burda Style 01/2014 #122 are a lovely detail that make the pattern a little more interesting than your average t-shirt pattern.

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The body of this is a super-stretchy remnant that’s been hanging out in the stash for a few years, and the sleeves are from some fabric I picked up at the Clear It Outlet on Brunswick St.  It may look like your run-of-the-mill black jersey, but the wrong side looks like it’s been brushed and is so snuggly!  After spending a couple of days working with it though, I felt like I’d surfaced from a week in the coal mine- black fluff up the nose, under the finger nails, in the ears, not to mention that the entire apartment was covered in a not-so-light blanket of black dust! Ick!

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Back to the pattern though.  For once the instructions were easy to follow- this is the feature pattern in this issue that comes with the detailed instructions.  I do wish Burda Style would include the more complex patterns in this section though, rather than the easy ones!  The only thing I did differently was to make long cuffs rather than turning the hem under & twin needling. Next time I’ll also shorten the neck binding as it’s gaping a little bit at the back:

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Quick multiple choice:

If this was you, would you

A)     Unpick, cut a shorter binding and re-do

B)      Leave as is but make note for next time

I was originally planning on option A but seriously, who enjoys unpicking knits, especially in black?  Life’s too short, so… no thanks!

This t-shirt has been finished for some time & is already one of my ‘go to’s’.  And you may (or may not) be interested to know that it makes an excellent maternity top.  I don’t have any photographic evidence but it looked smashing on my friend Annie (who was 6 months pregnant at the time)- perfect amount of gathers and much appreciated longer length.

I’ve mostly (alright, exclusively) been wearing this with my most recent version of the Jalie Drop Pocket Cardigan

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This time I rounded the pocket corners and I also went down a size from my first version and it’s now the perfect size!  It’s made in the same fabric as the sleeves of the t-shirt as is unbelievably warm for an open cardigan.

These have been brilliant additions to my holiday wardrobe- I’m not really one to glam it up while I’m away & these have been so useful. They’re definitely not those items that return home unworn that leave you wondering why you packed them!

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A+ For Wearability

After much sewing with knits lately, it felt so good to really sink my teeth into a bit more of a complex woven pattern.  I’ve always thought of myself as a not where you’re going but how you get there kind of person, and so it would seem with sewing, too.

This is Simplicity 2246/ the Lisette Traveller Dress, and it’s one of those patterns that has given me a guilty conscience over the years.  Looking back through my blog, it was part of my autumn/ winter sewing plans for 2012!  Ah well, we all get distracted from time to time :p

Anyway, I must finally have been in the mood because there is so much love and patience in this dress :)

It started with the toile, or should I say three toiles.  I was determined to get the fit just right since I had a piece of Japan holiday fabric earmarked for this project.  Souvenir fabrics are always more precious: I’m not sure if it’s because you can’t go back for more in case you mess up or if it’s the memories and sentiment that are attached.  A combination of both, probably.

Now, I won’t lie, there were plenty of fit changes needed here- probably the most I’ve ever been bothered to make:

  • Lowered bust darts by 2cm using this tutorial from Megan Nielsen
  • 1.5cm FBA using the Colette Sewing Handbook
  • Lowered the armscye by 0.5cm
  • Removed 6cm length through the body and another 4cm-ish from the hem
  • Added a centre back seam so that I could add shaping (which I decided against it in the end)

In hindsight I could have done with only a 1cm FBA- let’s just call that a lesson in making your toile in a similar weight fabric to your fashion fabric, shall we :s

Then there was the construction.  Anything denim just screams ‘FLAT FELLED SEAMS’, don’t you think?  The major credit here goes to Inna for putting together this brilliant flat felled seam tutorial.  Inna, you are a bloody marvel and your tutorial is the BOMB!  No more pesky seam trimming & turning under for me, nuh uh!  The only thing I did differently was to use 8mm measurements instead of her 5mm as I was working with 1.5cm seam allowances. 

And feel free to call me Captain Obvious here if you like, but these flat felled seams are all so neat and, well, FLAT! They’re definitely up there with French seams as the perfectionist’s seam finish of choice, I’d say :)  I might just make the point though, that if you’re preoccupied, tired or a combination of both, it could be a good idea to leave flat felling your sleeves till you’re feeling less distracted!  Yes… three tries and one tanty later….

Anyway, as you probably gathered from the post title, all was not in vain! I absolutely love this dress and have already worn it several times since I finished it a couple of weeks ago!  I’m pretty sure we’ve all been the victim of over fitting so you’ll understand how good it feels to make something in woven fabric that you can move around in comfortably as well as have room for a big lunch in (tested those capabilities out in this dress  twice already….).  I can’t actually remember what size I cut, but from memory it was one or two sizes below their recommendation- pretty standard for me & Simplicity. I also love that denim makes anything instantly wearable.  This fabric is so beautifully soft and although it wrinkles quite a bit I still feel put together. 

I decided to break up the dress a little bit by using the wrong side of the fabric as contrasts for the under collar, sleeve hems, left placket and pocket edges.  I’m so happy with how it turned out and don’t feel like I’m drowning in denim.

 There are only a couple of things I’ll change if I make this again, and that’s to cut the under collar a couple of millimetres shorter on all edges so that the top curls under, and I might also do a narrow shoulder adjustment.  Aside from those minor changes, this is an absolute winner!

Many thanks to my buddy Annie for a day of good company, big lunch, millions of photos & lots of laughs!

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A Spotty Hannah Top

I’m loving floaty things at the moment!  And after a couple of wins with this style of neckline-  Victory Patterns Simone & my 1970s wrap top- I wanted more of those too!

That’s where Salme Patterns Hannah Top comes in.  There’s a million woven shell patterns out there I know, but this one is really cute with its high neckline, bare shoulders, and button closure at the back.

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It looks pretty simple doesn’t it?  HA! Don’t be fooled!  This was a beast to fit & as fitting isn’t my strong suit, that this didn’t end up balled up in the corner is a testament to my perseverance!  I must have had vision or something?! Who knows… most unlike me, anyway!

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I can’t remember all the alterations I made, but the main ones were to fold out about 3cm of length above the bust (from armscye to armscye) and then to rotate the bust darts to the armscye so I could create princess seams.

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I had to add quite a bit of width to the side seams from the waist down as it was pretty tight around the hips.  There were other tweaks along the way, but honestly, I got sick of taking notes & I lost track somewhere along the way.  It feels like a lot of effort for something so simple but it’s the simple, well-fitting garments that I reach for most often, so it feels like time well spent.

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On the plus side, the neck & arms are finished with complete facings & you all know how much I love them!  I’ve just never been able to achieve that beautiful flat finish with bias strip facings, especially on drapey fabrics like this viscose voile.   

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So there you have it: a bit of an effort but a winner in the end.  And totally unseasonal, but I’m just not in winter sewing mode, so I’m going to go with the flow!  How are all my southern hemispherian friends coming along with their un-wintry winter wardrobes? :)

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Team Work!

Many things in life are improved with the addition of team work, wouldn’t you say?  Maybe not the eating of chocolate, but most other things for sure.

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So while this is admittedly a pretty simple project, it’s another testament to the awesomeness of all of you! 

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The pattern is Jalie 3248- the Drop Pocket Cardigan. Christy sent this to me after I won a pattern of my choice from Sew Squirrel.  I had a hell of a time trying to narrow down my choice I don’t mind telling you, but I’d had my eye on this pattern for a while & reasoned that I probably had enough party frock patterns already :) The year so far has definitely been the year of the cardigan for me!  Anyhoo, many thanks again to Christy for the pattern and to Sarah for sending it on :)

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As you can probably see it’s a bit wide across the shoulders & the sleeves are also a bit loose.  According to the pattern envelope I should fit size ‘S’ but I’m definitely going to downsize next time.  Following Christy’s advice I also shortened it by taking 10cm out through the body.

Fit issues aside, this is a pretty neat pattern and there are several things I really like about it.

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The neckline binding is attached in a way I’ve never seen before & to be completely honest, I was a bit baffled at first. But after walking away & coming back a little while later it all made perfect sense- funny how the longer you try to persevere with something the harder it can get!  I just needed some fresh eyes.

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One of the other things I really like is the way in which the hem is finished. If you’ve made a Tokyo Jacket you’ll have come across a similar  situation where the front hem is finished before you attach the back.  I couldn’t get a particularly neat finish using the Tessuti instructions but this pattern has you fold the right side of the longer back hem over the right side of the finished front hem, sew along the seamline & then bag it out.  It makes for a much cleaner finish and I’ll definitely use this method should I make up the Tokyo Jacket again.

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And of course, I also love the pockets!  Each front is cut on the double so that when it’s folded back on itself the inside becomes the outside of the pocket.  I love the drape of them & they make for great hand warmers.

Now, you must have noticed my more-interesting-than-usual photos!! In more teamwork news, Tj & I had a catch-up on the weekend & we managed to squeeze in some photo taking time.  It was a lovely sunny afternoon for the last day of autumn.

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We found a recreation reserve at the end of her street & had a great time messing around with some photos.  It definitely wasn’t all glamour shots though, that’s for sure!

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I’m usually too impatient to plan blog photos properly but doing them this way is definitely more fun than the usual self timer & bedroom door scenario!  Must endeavour to do this again!

But seriously, thanks everyone for your help with this project, as always this fab-o community continues to brighten my day :D

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Un-seasonal Sewing Extraordinaire!

It’s been a hive of activity here at r-o-g HQ lately! Isn’t it funny how going on holidays or even just being away from home can reignite your passion for doing things that you love? When I come home, you just can’t get me out of the kitchen.  How about you? Gardening? Reading? Sewing? Cooking?

This most recent bout of sewing fervour has definitely been inspired by last month’s mad dash to Japan.  I know I said it in one of my previous posts but  Kyoto really did feel like a creative hub & I think a little bit of that must have snuck (sneaked? who knows?) its way into my suitcase.

Anyhoo, while the season has most definitely changed, I still felt the need to sew up a pattern I picked up over there.  Seasonal, schmeasonal! image

This is “No Sleeve Yoke Dress” from M Pattern Research Institute (available here on Rakuten).  I like a lot of the patterns from this company and find them a bit more inspiring than those you find in Japanese pattern books…. I just can’t picture how I’d wear those most of the time, you know?  That said, this is still a style that I find a little unfamiliar.

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But gosh, look at all of the cute details on this pattern would you?  How could I resist?

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Even though this fit pretty well out of the packet - only a small sloping shoulder adjustment and for future versions a change to the shape of the armscye- I found the silhouette a little bit strange on me.  It’s kind of similar to Victory Patterns Roxanne in that if you have boobs (check!) the front will stand away from your body & from side on you’ll look… not big per se, just wide! To combat this I added a little casing made from bias tape to the inside of the back of the top at waist level, 2 buttonholes & a little tie.   

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It’s still not my favourite thing ever but the colour makes me happy so this will definitely be seen out & about!  And it works ok layered too, so this will be great for beating those forthcoming winter blues!

What’s your take on trying new to you styles & silhouettes?  I like to experiment a bit (I definitely wouldn’t say I have a signature style) and put myself in the camp of ‘try it & keep wearing it until it becomes familiar’ but that initial stage is so difficult!  Is that you or are you more of the thought that if you’re going to invest your time/ money/ creative energy etc. that you’re going to make damn well sure it suits you?

Me? I’m going to keep playing, success or no.

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Winning!

Friends, thank you for entering the Afternoon Blouse giveaway during the week!  According to the random number generator dooby whatsit, the winner is comment #3 (with #1 being the oldest & #7 being the newest)…

…..which makes Rachel the winner, whoo!  So keep your  eyes peeled for her sludge green take on the Afternoon Blouse everybody!

I’ve also just noticed that Rachel has nominated me for a Liebster, thanks Rachel!!  I’ll put my thinking cap on & do up a post before too long!  I can see a few tricky questions in there (zombies vs. machines for example…) so bear with me while I ponder this & other quandaries :)