Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top 5 of 2014 - Hits

Today I'm going to join in with Gillian's Top 5 list again. I was intending on posting it as one post, but it got a bit long, so I'm splitting it up.

I've been pondering my 'hits' since Gillian first posted about this years lists. I spent some time this week organising and updating the pages for my blog where I've catalogued my makes, I now have pages for my sewn garments, my knits, my quilts, and my other finished items, which are also all linked near the top of the page.

It took me a little while, but I've settled on my top 5 as:


  1. My Sydney Frocktails Dress - many many many hours went into the construction of this dress. I tried new techniques, and new types of fabric. The final dress was a triumph and I hope to find other opportunities to wear it.
  2. Laura Skirt - worn very regularly to work since making it, the pairing of fabric and pattern were spot on with this skirt. The skirt is smart but really comfy, and the little flounce at the back is a great alternative to a slit. 
  3. Bouncing Birthday Shorts - worn very frequently throughout the summer, a great go-to garment for hot days. The stretch in the sateen I think is the key aspect to what has made them so comfortable, which I should remember for future iterations.
  4. Aiken Jumper - I've finished three knitted garments this year, and this one is hands down the most comfortable of them. It has just the right amount of ease and lovely and is cosy in cold air-conditioned offices.
  5. Shhh, it's a secret - the last of my hits for the year is a project that I've been working on that I can't quite tell you about yet as it's a gift that hasn't been gifted yet. I promise just as soon as it is gifted I'll show you.
I'll be back tomorrow with my misses...

Monday, December 29, 2014

19 t-shirts and counting

Taking stock of both my blog and my wardrobe while I'm on my Christmas break has reminded me that I have now made quite a lot of t-shirts, very few of which have been blogged.

I made my first t-shirt in early 2011, which I made by tracing a pattern off a t-shirt that I'd bought and liked the fit of. Throughout subsequent iterations I have tweaked the fit until I have reached a point I'm happy with.


One thing I have tweaked is the shoulders of the shirt. In the photos above you can see that the shoulders are fairly narrow, which I wanted to fix. To start with I thought that I could fix it by adding some width to the shoulder seam. However doing this ended up with a weird too-wide shoulder happening. Upon closely examining this version, I tried removing some height from the sleeve cap, and that pretty much perfectly fixed the problem (see below pics).


However, as mentioned recently, the shirt with the too-wide shoulders made a great base for screen printing on:


I also modified the neckline to be a round neck rather than a v-neck, and as I alluded in this veeeery old post, there were some hiccups with that process.

The first round necked version I made is shown above. I simply converted the v-neckline into a round neckline and added a band the same width as on the v-neck. This did not work. The neckbands on t-shirts like this need to have the inner folded edge one length, and the outer edge stitched to the shirt a slightly longer length. If not they stick out from the body. Generally the stretch in the fabric accomodates this, stretching into a nice curve.

Now if you imagine a nice narrow neck band, there isn't a great deal of difference between the shorter and longer lengths. However, with a wide neck band there is a great deal of difference, meaning that either the neck band has to be considerably shorter than the neck hole it's going into, or it will stick out away from the body. (this isn't an issue with the v-neckline as the v at the centre front removes a lot of the length difference)

In this version I went with the considerably shorter band, which was very difficult to stitch in, and has led to some puckers in the neckline, and even then doesn't quite sit flat against my chest the way it should.

In future versions I reduced the depth of the neckline and had a narrower neck band (so the finished neckline depth was about the same), which worked very well...


Unless I don't quite stretch the neck band enough when attaching it, as in this version where the neckband usually sticks straight out, or if it sits flat has unattractive folds in it:

I have played around with the sleeve length, making short, elbow and long-sleeved versions


While many versions have been made with "normal" t-shirt fabric (I'm not 100% sure but probably cotton/poly-lycra fabric), I've also made a few out of merino jersey (the green and black v-necked versions above, and the turquoise one with the dodgy neck band, and the ones pictured below).

I am massively in love with merino jersey. Warm in cold weather, breathable in hot weather, and doesn't hold a smell like other fabrics. Perfect for travelling, and to be honest pretty much all other times. And with good quality merino perfectly comfortable to wear against the skin.


It's pretty standard for me to wear a long sleeved black merino t-shirt under my outfits in winter. After making a first one, I made two more for the following winter.

Some other versions of the pattern I've done are to add some looser sleeves (by reducing the taper) and a smidge more ease through the side seams, and making out of a heavier weight knit, to make a lightweight sweater:


And lastly, leaving the sleeves off I have made a great tank-top/singlet. This one is made from merino too, and really is great in summer, including for exercising in. Rather than sewing a normal-tshirt neckband on the tank I cut a strip of the fabric and folded around the edge of the arm and neck holes to finish them. Incidentally, this shirt was a bonus top, as I managed to squeeze the pieces for both the tank and the t-shirt on the piece of fabric that I'd bought

And so that's 19 t-shirts (or derivatives) from my t-shirt block so far (or 21 if you count the wrap cardigans that I made also based off this pattern). And I expect I'll make plenty more as these and my RTW t-shirts wear out.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A quilt for baby-squirrel

This is another seriously overdue blog post, as I made this quilt about 9 months ago, eek! Time flies when you're being slack.

This quilt was a gift that I made for Sarah and her newest bub.

While that seems nice and selfless, I was a great excuse for me to use the woodland animal (plus blue giraffe??) fabric I have used as a feature, which has been in my stash for aages. I had seen the fabric at a quilt show and couldn't resist buying it because it's so cute, even though I had no plans for it whatsoever (unusal for me).

I then selected other fabrics from my stash that coordinated with the animals for the rest of the quilt top. To finish off the quilt I bought coordinating backing and binding.

To design the quilt I sketched up the design on squared paper, carefully mazximising the use of the woodland fabric, and also the solid orange I'd decided to use, which with some very careful cutting I used almost every scrap of (hence needing to buy different fabric for binding).

I also used this quilt as a way to have a bit of a practice with free motion quilting before embarking on a bigger (also as yet unblogged) project, just to make sure my free motion skills weren't completely rusty.

And I'll leave you with some lovely pics of the tiny recipient on the quilt (she's not this tiny anymore!)...

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Gingham Scout

I want to make more tops. As much as I love dresses, I find myself pulling skirt/blouse combos out of my wardrobe more often these days. However, excluding t-shirts, all my tops are either pendrell blouses or portrait blouses. I have a heap of lightweight woven fabric that I would like to make tops from (mostly from my trip to Europe last year), but I need to decide which patterns to use; it feels wrong just making heaps of the two same patterns!


In an attempt to broaden my range of top patterns, I decided to try out the scout tee from Grainline Studios. This top is essentially a "wearable muslin" to see what I thought of the pattern and the fit, made from some gingham (with surprisingly decent drape for a gingham) that a friend had given me after buying a heap for making muslins.

I cut the size 10, which is fine but I think a little big, including through the shoulders. So I've reprinted the pattern and cut out the next size down for the next version.

Despite being a bit big, this top is a nice easy 'neutral' top for my wardrobe, when worn tucked into skirts. I really like the neckline and sleeves. However, it's a bit boxy for me to consider wearing un-tucked (unlike my old faithful pendrell and portrait blouse patterns). I'm not sure if this is because it's a smidge big, or it will be that way whatever size due to not having any darts.

And so, I wanted to ask, do you have any nice top/blouse patterns you'd recommend for me to consider?
I would most likely usually be wearing it tucked into skirts, but the option to wear it un-tucked would be nice too. And being able to wear it with layers over it (eg cardigans or sweaters) is a MUST as everywhere is so over-air-conditioned!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Leafy Green Pendrell

This was another project that I cut out for SewAway back in June, but unlike a lot of the other garments from that weekend, I didn't end up sewing this one then, and finally got around to sewing it together in the last few weeks.

This is my 4th Pendrell blouse, and the third in chiffon using just the outer ruffles as cap sleeves from view B (you can see the first three here). As with the previous versions, I french seamed the blouse throughout, and used a self bias binding around the neck and armholes as per the pattern. I love how polished this gives the finish, not a raw edge to be found!

The fabric is a poly chiffon, I think I got it from spotlight ages ago, and always intended to make a blouse from it, most likely a Pendrell.

This make was nice and simple, no alterations to the pattern since the last times I'd made it, I just focused on working through the construction steps and before I knew it, it was done!

This is already a staple in my work wardrobe.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Screen Printing Workshop

This is another terribly overdue blog post to tell you about the screen printing class that I took at Handmakers Factory in July.

I didn't really know what to expect from the class, but I knew that if I didn't take some ideas with me I'd end up struggling to come up with something good to print in the class. So, in preparation I printed off some ideas the night before. As I didn't have any better ideas, I brought along some ingress related designs. I also brought along some fabric to print onto.

When we started the class we got a quick run through of the general technique and then learnt about how to make templates. Of course, I decided to start with the most complicated of the designs I brought with me. There was logic behind my madness; the design required two colours, so it made sense to start with it, as the first colour would need to dry before I could print the second colour.


The first step was cutting out the templates, the second step was printing the first colour. I was happy to discover that I could print 4-5 versions of the design before it started to bleed and need washing to start again.


Next I had to carefully line up the printed fabric with the screen to print the second colour. This step was pretty tricky, but I'm quite happy with how it came out.

(For those that are interested, this is an Australian themed play on the Resistance Logo that we designed for some keyrings. Resistance is one of the two teams in Ingress, and is the team that I play on)

After successfully printing my first design I got working on a (more simple) second ...


and third design...

I was very happy with how much I managed to get done in a day:

I have since sewn some of the fabric up, into bags...


And a merino t-shirt for the boy...

And I also printed onto the back of a t-shirt that I'd previously made for myself but rarely wore...

Overall, I had an amazing day at the class, I would recommend it to anybody that is considering trying screen printing. I want to print more stuff now! I have a stack of merino that we bought to make shirts for the boy, and am hoping to print some designs onto those too, once we have some designs.
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