Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A new name and a new look- introducing Lavender Lane

Introducing Lavender Lane
I have been working in the background creating a new site, with a new name and a new look, and today I am excited to tell you about it, and hope that you follow me there.

Therefore, I am excited to tell you about, I hope that you like it and that you follow me over there! I've got a bit of a backlog of things to post, so there should be plenty of new posts over there soon.

While it is a brand new blog, with a new name, look and platform, you’ll see that all my old posts have been transferred over.

Please update your links, bookmarks and subscriptions to reflect the new address. Some common subscription options are linked below:

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Friday, May 29, 2015

Out with the old and in with the new...

A bit of a hodge-podge post today, in two parts....

Part 1: Out with the Old

After seeing comments about it by a few different people on instagram I decided to see what this whole "Konmari" thing is about. It's a very interesting concept, and as someone that definitely struggles with keeping things tidy I was eager to give it a go.

The key points I've taken away from the Konmari method of tidying are 1) choose what you want to keep, not what you want to get rid of, 2) keep what brings you joy, and 3) sort by category, not location. The brings me joy part was a little tricky to start with, but I figured I could interpret that how I wished and in the end, despite my scepticism, it all turned out fine.

The author of the method, Marie Kondo, also outlines a suggested order for going through your possessions. You start with clothes, as she describes them as one of the easiest categories; a statement I'm not sure is quite as true when you have made most of your clothes. Therefore, I tweaked the order a bit by starting with the categories of clothes with the least me-mades to ease me into the process.

It took me an afternoon to go through all my clothes and shoes, and at the end of it I had a big pile of bags full of clothes I'd chosen not to keep. I've since sorted these out and have a pile of hand-mades that are still in great condition that I'm hoping to sell, as hopefully some other people will be able to get some joy out of them now instead of me.

In the first instance I've listed all the items I'm hoping to sell on this page of my blog.

If you are of a similar size to me, or know anybody that is, (some things are a little big or small, but most fit me, size information is listed) please click through to see the items that I'm hoping to sell. I wasn't sure how much to try and sell them for, mostly hoping to cover the costs of the fabric, so if you are interested in anything but aren't sure about the price please shoot me an email and we can discuss.

Part 2: In with the New(s)

And one other exciting thing that I wanted to share quickly is that Darren and I are engaged!!

We are both very happy and excited, and I am particularly excited about my new ring. We had the ring custom made by a local jeweller to our ideas and description, and it was perfect for us to be so involved in the process since we are both very creative people.


So of course, I have now started thinking about making wedding dresses, which is a just a lot scary!!! I haven't gotten any further in the process than knowing I'd like to make it, but since we're not planning on the wedding for a while yet I've got some time to up-skill!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Ralph, now with added cherries

Do you remember Ralph? Ralph is a skirt pattern that I drafted and shared the first version of here (wow, back in March of 2013, how time flies!). That first Ralph was a little big to start with, and then became unwearable when I lost some weight.

I examined that version and determined that the back (and placement of the side seams) was largely alright, it mostly needed width being removed from the front. So, after determining how much width to fold out of the front panels of the skirt I have remade Ralph, and this time the fit is perfect!

I want to say that the fabric for this version is a printed stretch denim (or something similar), but I don't know, as the fabric was a gift from the lovely Mindy when she was culling her fabric stash quite some time ago (Thanks Mindy!).

Now the fit is perfected, I'm looking forward to making another version of Ralph with some of the fabric I got in Vancouver last year.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Important social sewing update!!!

For anybody that doesn't already know, GJs are moving.
They are moving on the 24th of May, which means that our next social sewing on the 30th of May will be at the new location.

Their new location is:
31 Steane Street, Fairfeld VIC 3078
( Cnr Sparks Ave & Steane St )

I have also updated this information on the social sewing page of my blog.

Unfortunately the new location does not have great public transport access. There are a couple of buses that run along Darebin Road nearby (the 510 and 250 I think but check that) but I'm not sure what the Saturday timetable is like. Some of the lovely ladies attending have already offered up their car pooling services so if you need a lift hopefully something can be sorted out if you shout out.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Amazing Fit Blazer - Some confusion

My quest to make a couple of jackets this year has certainly slowed down. There hasn't been any update on this goal as progress has somewhat stalled.

I made my decisions on patterns to try back in January, and the ziggi pattern turned out a bit of  pain at the muslin stage and so, is in the naughty corner.

Therefore, I subsequently turned to the other pattern that I had selected; the Simplicity 2446 "amazing fit" blazer pattern. However, I have only gotten as far as unfolding the pattern sheets and identifying the pattern pieces before I got confused and put it all away again.

To recap, I chose the 2446 pattern because I liked the idea of it having different bust sizes, meaning I could avoid a FBA and hopefully reducing the number alterations I'd need to make.

Because it's an 'amazing fit' pattern, it has quite a large section in the instructions on selecting your size. The principle is that "there are three unique sets of pattern pieces, each one for the different bust cup sizes". When it says 'three unique sets of pattern pieces' it actually means that there are three versions of the side front piece, all the other pieces of the jacket are the same.

The instructions for determining your size tell you to first find your bust cup size: by comparing the bust and high bust measurements, and determining cup size by subtracting one from the other; a 0.5-1" difference is an A cup, 1-2" a B cup and 2-3" a C cup. With a bust of 37.5" and a high bust of 35", that puts me comfortably in the C cup section.

It then says that the "patterns have all been based on the body measurements given. once you have selected your pattern size, compare your bust measurement to the chart given on the pattern envelope". So, I refer to the size chart...


The size chart refers to "bust" measurement, so based on that and the instructions I interpret it as saying I should select size 14/16 based on my 37.5" bust.. and this is where I got confused. Am I supposed to select my size based on my bust or upper bust measurement?

And this is where I got confused... It seems to me that if I select the size for my bust size and also select the option for cup size C I'm just going to end up with a jacket that's way too big for me all over (rather than too big everywhere except the bust).

Since the only difference between the cup sizes is the added size at the bust in the side front piece, it makes more sense to me to choose my size based on my high bust measurement; the overall bust circumference will be correct for my bust size, and the rest of the jacket will be proportional to my bust:high bust ratio.

However, the pattern doesn't actually say to do that. (I know sometimes I can take things too literally, but I think instructions like this is somewhere I can expect to take things literally).

Am I reading the instructions wrong? Should I select my size based on my high bust measurement? How would you proceed?

Unless I'm thinking it through completely wrong and somebody points it out to me, I think my plan will be to make up size 12 based on my upper bust measurement, along with the C cup side front piece for the same size. I've got some twill to use to make a muslin, as I figured I was better off using something with a little more body than

As an aside, I wonder if you also spotted the (other) glaring error in two of the pictures of the pattern above? The instructions refer to the three side front pieces as 2A, 2 and 2B, but the pattern piece inventory (and on the actual pieces) they are named 2A, 2B and 2C. Great work there Simplicity *rollseyes*

Friday, April 3, 2015

A new shirt for Bear

Back in 2009 I made a nightshirt for "Bear" and he's been wearing it ever since, except for the odd occasion when I've washed it for him, and it's showing its age.

[Left: 2009, Right: 2015]

Therefore, I've been scheming for a while to make him a new shirt. However, everything I've made that's had big enough scraps to squeeze out a shirt for him hasn't been a very flattering colour for his blue-grey fur, so it's taken me a while.

However when cutting out the bright pink merino recently I managed to cut him a shirt out as well. Constructed almost exactly the same way as any of my shirts, except smaller, I made this one production-line style along with my pink merino plantain of the same fabric.


And so, the two of us have our matching shirts, and bear is looking much better dressed!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Colour Blocked Kimono Tee

The real reason that I made the blue kimono tee is to test the pattern out as a candidate pattern for this shirt.

This shirt all started when I was preparing to cut out my pink merino plantain. I laid out the pattern pieces and saw just how much left over fabric there would be if I just cut the one shirt out of the fabric. I tried seeing if I could get a shirt and a singlet out of the fabric, but failing piecing one of the pieces of the singlet it wouldn't fit. I had thought of adding a horizontal seam across the back of the singlet to make the pieces fit, and asked other's opinion on instagram, at which point the suggestion of colour blocking came up.

I did some searching, and with some moral support from Jen I decided to have a go at making a shirt like this one I found on a google image search:

I selected some grey merino jersey from my stash that didn't have any immediate plans as the other colour for the colour blocking.

I considered a few patterns for this, but settled on the kimono tee as the most promising prospect, but decided to first make a wearable muslin.

As mentioned in this post I extended the sleeves to just above the elbow, to similar to the inspiration pic. Following the wearable muslin I also took a wedge out of the centre front and centre back, about 1" wide at the top tapering to nothing at the hem. I also adjusted the angle of the hem on the sleeves slightly.

Then I altered my base pattern to cater for the colour blocking, splitting the front and back pattern pieces in two, by drawing a line starting about 1.5" to the edge of the neckline on the shoulder seam and ending at the centre front at the hem. I then added the seam allowance to these new pieces.

If I were to do this again I would start closer to the neckline and make the seamline continue across past the centre front.

This time around I finished the neckline with a narrow strip of the grey merino and it's a much nicer finish than the clear elastic I used on the blue one. (I used the 85% rule for the length of the strip)

Overall, it's not as similar to the inspiration pic as it could have been, I probably could have added more ease through the bust. However, it's very comfy to wear as pictured here with jeans, and also works tucked into a skirt, so overall I'm pretty happy with this experiment.

Pattern: Modified Maria Denmark Kimono Tee
Fabric: Merino Jersey from the Fabric Store
Notions: Thread

Friday, March 13, 2015

A Couple of Merino Plantains

I love my first plantain. I am still surprised how much I love the cut. Before making it I was expecting it to be too full around the hips and not flattering. However, if I cut a straight size despite my hip measurement falling in the next size up, it's not as full in the hips on me as drafted. It's just the right amount of hip skimming.

Since my first version has become one of those tops pulled first out of the pile after washing, I decided that some of the merino jersey in my stash should become plantains. Merino is perfect for the plantain pattern as it has beautiful drape to it. It's definitely suited more to drapey patterns than clingy ones.

The blue version is made from some merino we got for much cheaper than most of the merino. I don't know why it was cheaper, perhaps it was the previous seasons stock or something, as there's absolutely nothing wrong with it that I can tell. It's the merino I tried screen printing on for Darren, and is essentially my "muslin merino".

When cutting out the pink version I couldn't stand how much fabric was going to be left over so squeezed some other things onto the piece, so keep an eye out for those in coming weeks.

A few people have commented about the relevance of merino jersey in hot climates (with merino being wool). While yes, it's great to wear in cold weather, it's also great in hot weather. It absorbs moisture and is breathable; ideal! It really is a wonder fabric in my eyes! (I even took the blue version on my recent trip to the gold coast, and actually found it more refreshing to wear than the cotton/lycra tanks I wore on other days)


I still have a pile of merino jersey in my stash, so we shall yet see what it becomes, more plantains or something else?

Pattern: Deer and Doe Plantain
Fabric: Merino Jersey from the Fabric Store
Notions: Thread

Thursday, March 5, 2015

On the hunt for the perfect fabric pouch...

Firstly, thanks to everyone that has filled in my little measurement form from my last post. If you haven't filled it in yet, please hop over to the post to get the details and link.

And onto the business of this post...

We potentially have some travel coming up, so I've been contemplating options for organising our things in a flexible and portable way. One obvious option is sewing up some fabric pouches for storing things in.

I quickly made up this Open Wide Zippered Pouch from the tutorial by noodlehead from fabrics etc from my stash to try out the style.

I quite like the pouch, as it has a square base so sits nicely on surfaces, and you could even line up a few in a drawer for example and when open they'd tesselate together quite well. I'm not sure if this size is the right size for my needs, but overall I like the pouch so far, I've found it quite useful for ferrying things various places.

Does anybody have any other zippered pouch patterns or tutorials they can recommend?
I would like to try out a few before settling on my favourite and making multiple.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Will you share your measurements with me?

Will you do me a quick favour?

I am hoping to collect some data on women's measurements, so I've created a quick form to collect this data. I am collecting four core measurements, along with another 5 optional ones. If you'd grab a tape measure and take a few minutes from your day to help me I would be incredibly grateful.

Even more good karma will be sent your way if you share around the link to other women you know.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A quilt for Neal and Helena

Today I am finally sharing a very special quilt. This is the project I alluded to as my 5th hit in my hits of 2014 post. It is now with its intended recipients so I can blog about it all I like. This is a very special quilt, and a true collaboration between myself and my Gran.

My cousin Neal got married to his lovely wife Helena in November of 2013. The wedding was on the beach on Stradbroke Island in Queensland, and it was absolutely beautiful (see above), a really lovely day to be part of. If I'm remembering correctly they had requested/suggested a quilt as a wedding gift from my Gran. Granny and I decided that I could help with the quilt, so we started working on it when she was visiting Victoria for the first few months of last year.

Granny wanted to make a medallion quilt design, so we sat down with some paper, a ruler and pencil and experimented with a few designs. I had learnt with the previous the medallion style quilt I've made that it's a lot easier to design the quilt if you have a base unit of measure that each border is a multiple of. We tried a few variations and different borders and such, and eventually settled on the design you can see in the photos, involving quarter square triangles, squares, flying geese, applique and plain fabric borders.

Granny knew she wanted to include turquoise as one of the main colours (the main colour chosen at the wedding, for the decorations, bridesmaid's dresses and groomsmen's ties), and also wanted it to go well in their bedroom, which has a royal blue wall and a lovely painting on the wall with some orange in it (which isn't the room pictured here). From here we had our main colour scheme so went hunting for fabric.

All the fabric was bought at GJs Discount Fabrics, and we tried to pick a range of colours, from pale to bright to dark, and a range of print sizes, from large prints to small prints to solid colours. I particularly like the addition of the orange with the blue and turquoise, I think it's made for a really fresh looking quilt.

One of the fabrics we chose had a larger floral motif, that Granny decided to applique onto the large turquoise border, along with some bias strips and similarly cut out leaves.

Granny did the majority of the piecing of the quilt, although I helped with a little bit of it and with some of the cutting. For the quarter square triangles in the middle we used this method and for the flying geese we used this method.

Once the piecing was finished, I was in charge of quilting, and I ended up doing a combination of free motion quilting and straight line quilting, varying the quilting design to suit each border. We discussed a few different options, and quickly settled on stippling on the quarter square triangles in the centre and the border of squares. It took a little more thought for the other sections.

Darren made the fantastic suggestion of cross-hatching the background of the applique border, so I stitched all the way around the edge of the applique, and then marked the cross hatch lines at 1" intervals, first doing one direction then the other. There was quite a bit of quilt manhandling required to do the cross hatching, as I went back and forth along the lines but I am thrilled with the outcome so glad to have bothered. Having spent my time basting properly and using my walking foot, I didn't have any issues with puckering of the fabric when I was doing the second pass of the crosshatching, which I had been a little concerned about.

In the end, after trying a few different options (including in this baby quilt) I decided to just stitch in the ditch of the flying geese. I just went back and forth in a zig-zag along each side of the geese to reduce the rotation required of the quilt.

For the larger blue outer border I had decided very early on that I would just do concentric squares around the border, and when deciding how far apart to do them I decided to make them progressively further apart as they reached the edge of the quilt.

The quilt is finished with some orange binding, and it has a turquoise backing (from the backing section at GJs so we didn't have to piece the back, hurrah!)

A big project, and I'm absolutely thrilled with how it turned out. I was secretly hoping that Neal and Helena wouldn't like the quilt and I'd be able to claim it. Sadly that wasn't the case, so it has a happy new home with them.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Felicity Dress

In January I pattern tested Jennifer Lauren's newest pattern, the Felicity Dress. The timing was great, because I ended up with a lovely summer dress that's seen a reasonable amount of wear already.

The bodice is cleverly designed, with the shaping through the centre front seam and neckline gathers. The dress is unlined and the arm and neckholes are finished with bias binding. I made up a quick muslin of the bodice, and was very pleasantly surprised to discover that in general the bodice fit fantastically as drafted! I have since learnt that Jennifer drafts for a D cup, something I didn't know before. For reference, I made a size 12.

Now, I'm a rebel. I knew I wanted to make the 3/4 circle skirt view, but the pattern states that I need 150cm wide fabric tor this. However, I wanted to make the dress from fabric from my stash, and selected this lovely cotton lawn that I've had in my stash for aaaages (it was originally going to become a Jasmine blouse before I decided that Collette patterns aren't for me as they require too many alterations to fit me). The problem was that the fabric I selected was only 115cm wide. The limiting factor with the fabric width is the front skirt piece, so to make it work with my narrower fabric I added a seam down the centre front of the skirt.

Because of this I disregarded the cutting layout. I made two layers by folding the fabric lengthwise, cutting it in half and rotating to preserve the direction of the print. My fabric was 2.4m long, and was the perfect amount for View A in size 12.

With regards to the pdf pattern, I like how Jennifer has separated the pattern pieces for the different views, so you can easily print just one view. However I missed the existence of ‘markers’ to line up my pages while I was sticking them together.

The one thing I don’t like about my dress is the pockets. I find the functional part of the pockets too small/shallow and am concerned as to the security of the stuff in my pockets when wearing the dress (I’m a big pocket user), at minimum my phone lives in my pocket. I think that my issue with the pockets is primarily due to how low the top edge of the pocket scoops down, so if making this again I would raise the top edge of the pockets by at least 1-1.5” at the side seams, and potentially also add some extra depth to the bottom of the pocket. To check dimensions I think I would compare it against another pocket I know I like, for example the Hollyburn pockets, to check these alterations.

I made some small adjustments to the bodice, which I would do again for subsequent versions. I shortened the bodice by 2.5cm and raised the bottom of the armholes by 1cm. Jennifer has actually raised the front bodice at the shoulders by 1cm after the pattern testing was completed and by 0.5cm at the front waistline, so if I were to use the final version of the pattern I wouldn’t need to adjust the armholes, and would only need to shorten the bodice by 1cm. However, I would need to bear in mind that the neckline is 1cm higher than on my version.

I also took the bodice in by about 3cm total (8mm at each side seam) at the waist. I don’t know if this is an artefact of my fabric, because the maths on this don’t make sense, as there’s only 0.5" ease drafted for the waist, and my waist measurement is the same as that for the size I made. This alteration I wouldn’t make on the pattern, but would play it by ear during construction in case it was an artefact of my fabric.

I found the bias binding instructions confusing in the pattern testing version, however they've been rewritten and look much better now. One thing to note however is that I purchased 25mm binding as I couldn't find 20mm in the right colour so planned on cutting it down (I figured this would still be easier/cheaper than buying fabric the right colour and making my own). However, when I measured my 25mm binding flat it was the desired 40mm width, so just repressed it without cutting it down. So there’s a tip for you; always double check the flat binding measurement too, in this case you want 40mm binding.

Which brings me onto my next comment, the neckline and armhole have a 10mm seam allowance, which is marked on the pattern pieces. However, the finished edge isn't actually 10mm from the edge of the pattern piece, but is exactly the same as the pattern piece, as you stitch bias binding enclosing the edge of the fabric. That felt like a convoluted sentence, hopefully it made sense.

The instructions have you do a lapped zip. I tried following the instructions and my zip was a massive fail, somehow my seam allowance wasn't anywhere near wide enough for the lap to actually work. I'm not sure where I went wrong, but in the end I just unpicked the whole thing and did a hand-picked centred zip. While I’d always thought you should do a 2cm seam allowance for lapped zips, my failure is most likely due to me and shouldn't reflect badly on the pattern. I understand that Jennifer is going to be doing a detailed photo tutorial of the lapped zip insertion method as part of her sewalong for the dress, so I look forward to reading that to see where I went wrong.

I also made a change at the top of the zip at the centre back, changing the order that I folded the bias binding under as I think my order made it a bit neater. I also hemmed the dress differently to the instructions, just overlocking the edge and then folding it over once with a 1cm seam allowance and topstitching. This is my go-to hemming method on full curved hems on a lightweight dress like this. It made the dress 1.5cm longer than drafted, which I'm also happy with as I love the length I've ended up with.

Pattern: Felicity by Jennifer Lauren
Fabric:  Cotton Lawn from Spotlight
Notions: Thread, Bias binding, 24" dress zip

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