Capsule Wardrobes are go….nearly

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Yes, believe it or not this is a capsule wardrobe…

I’m a girl who loves a challenge. So when the Curvy Sewing Collective posted about their mini capsule wardrobe month my interest was piqued. I’ve been stitching a couple of years now, and would call myself an “advanced beginner sewer” (actually I’d call myself a “impatient, prone to lapses of concentration, fabric obsessed , crumbs of talent but needs focus, sewer”…fit that on a badge if you can?). The issue is my tendency to see a shiny new pattern, some pretty fabric, an amazing outfit idea….and be blinded by the light (with apologies to Manfred Man). If you can picture a 44 year old woman running around a candy store doing a mad Golum impression and exclaiming about “my pretties”, well don’t, its horrible.

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I thought it was quite neutral really

So, to reign in my excesses? A focused mini wardrobe, small enough to feel achievable, but every element earning its keep. As you can see from the second post on CSC there is a lot of information available on this topic. I even brought the Marie Kondo book a while ago. She advocates a pretty extreme mode of “decluttering” which, while I could see the concept behind it, felt a little extreme for me. I also found her quite frankly a bit bizarre. If your teenage years are spent figuring out ways to declutter your bedroom, you need to get out a bit more. I say that as someone who grew up in a house that was always bursting at the seams. I feel physically irritated if there is to much crap cluttering up my space, but I think you can take things a bit far.

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Patterns are go!

So my approach to the whole exercise?  I have realized wearing too much black, or very dull colours makes me feel, well, dull. I was intrigued after reading the second post in the series. I am clearly an Impulse Buyer, in which case a capsule wardrobe could really work for me. However I’m also clearly a Pattern Lover, how to reconcile the two?

For me, it starts with fabric. Then print. Then colour, the thing that will reconcile the two. A couple of complementary colours that make my heart sing, then as much print as I can get away with! In this case, a Navy Blue & a Plum crepe. I have found a couple of house pegs & trusty Diana my dressmakers model (she’s no dummy darling) invaluable for playing with fabric combos. I left the fabric tops over the plum crepe looser as I see that as a skirt, the blue crepe as high waisted pants I would tuck tops into , hence some peg action at the back…

A capsule wardrobe could work for many areas of your life, I decided to start with my work wardrobe, I work full time, so to get up & be excited by my outfit choices, without having to think too hard (this is pre-coffee people!!) is a win.

I’ll leave you with a couple of my potential outfits (with apologies for the terrible lighting, if its daylight, I’m workin’ for the man), feel free to leave thoughts/opinions/your experiences in the comments, I’m off to get this thing going…!

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Thinking High Waist trousers for the Blue Crepe
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Planning on a box pleat skirt for the Plum crepe
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I think this has a very 30’s feel which I love…Dubonnet Miss Marple?
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That fabric, seriously?
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Love this colour combo…

Next post, actual outfits, on actual me. No pressure then. What would your capsule wardrobe look like?

Kristina xxx

 

Lunching with Imogen

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Lovely Imogen, how delightful you are! Described on the packet as a Shakespearean heroine “steadfast, loyal and an all round good egg’, I feel much the same about this top. She isn’t a show pony. No crazy bells & whistles here kids. Just a lovely drape, a flattering neckline, and that most wonderful of things for this fair maiden, sleeves!

The fabric is a rayon from Spotlight (on sale!), despite my previous issues sewing this slippery minx of a fabric, the birds were irresistible. I was concerned the pink wasn’t really me, but, you know,  birds. The very next week I noticed a work colleague in a shirt made of the same fabric, purchased from Zara in Melbourne. After that, two separate TV presenters , also wearing the same fabric. Birds are popular it would seem!

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Hustle, I want my lunch!!

This is my second make from Sew Me Something, and I wont deny it, I have a pattern company lady crush going on here. Pattern companies design based on a particular shape (their “block”) , grading up and down from that basic shape to create different sizes. Finding a company that works for your shape is gold. I realized recently that while I love for instance Tilly & the Buttons styling, the patterns are simply not designed for my shape. Tilly is a wee wisp of a thing, and her patterns look amazing on her shape. I made a Bettine & looked quite frankly, dumpy.

Sewaholic patterns are designed for pear shaped woman with smaller busts, again, not everything is going to work on my DD’s! Don’t get me wrong, of course you’re going to design for your shape, why wouldn’t you? But having the time/patience to find what works is worth it, however tricky.

I made a straight size 20, with no alterations required (hooray!). The fit is loose, without being baggy, gathering around the neckline with a nice placket detail at the front, and shaped hem. Their is the option of short or long sleeves, I went long, which has elastic gathering at the cuff. It looks cute and makes the top feel a little more streamlined.

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Excellent butt coverage!

The only tricky bit for me was, as usual, dealing with the fabric. By the time I got to sewing the neckline my interfacing (despite nuclear amounts of iron heat) had managed to completely un-attach itself from the facing fabric. I was already having issues with my bobbin thread tension, so decided to just solider on, the “she’ll be right attitude” I continue to persevere with despite no evidence of success thus far…

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Kinky Boots Top!

I wasn’t careful enough keeping a consistent distance sewing my neckline facing (a cavalier approach to seam allowances is coming back to haunt me!), so its a bit wider at one end. I need longer hair to cover it obviously!

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Well one side is fine at least…

Despite all of this, I wore my lovely top out today with jeans & long boots to a fab birthday lunch with friends, it felt great to wear & I could happily consume three delicious courses with ease, Happy Birthday to me!

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“I’m as free as a bird now…”

I had this amazing cake made by the super talented Gourmet Gannet for my work morning tea , Tropical cake, made with passionfruit, pineapple & lemon, light , delicious and full of fruit so probably quite healthy…

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Nom nom nom!

Obviously my next make will be some form of stretchy waist yoga pant (yes alright, it should probably should be some form of “active wear”……..ok, lets not get silly shall we?)

Kristina xxx

 

Springfield for Autumn

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I didn’t intend to make a sleeveless top for Autumn. I didn’t intend to make one for Summer either if I’m honest. Like my mother, her mother, and doubtless many of my ancestors I have “sturdy” arms. The kind that render much of what is on offer on the High Street unwearable (or in some memorable cases, “untryonable”. Oh friends, the indignity of being stuck in the changing rooms at Gap, in a misguided shirt-dress moment, my arms stuck in the air like some tragic 90’s throwback, unable to free myself because of a skimpy bicep allowance!)

So when Jenny at Cashmerette patterns released her Springfield top last year, I was less than excited. Or so I thought…

I’ve worked in many interesting buildings in my time, the one thing they have in common?* Terrible Air Conditioning. To pay for my fabric habit, I’m an accountant for a law firm in a rather swish building in the Auckland CBD. On any given day at my desk I can be freezing, sweltering or pleasantly temperate…

How does one dress for this, in Auckland’s already notoriously changeable weather? I like to call it Cautiously Optimistic. I’m cautiously optimistic I’m dressed appropriately, just in case I’ll take a cardigan/jacket/umbrella/socks/sunscreen…

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My solution? layers . Its a bit of a uniform, pants (in the non-knickers sense of the word UK readers), a pretty top/blouse and a cardigan, often topped off with a scarf of some sort. I tend to avoid jackets , they are usually made from woven fabric and often the arms end up being so tight I cant lift my coffee cup….and I really need that coffee ok?

After reading Jules’ post about Planning to Sew , and realizing I couldn’t even begin to plan without organizing my stash , I had a big sort out. Several things I learnt (besides I need to stop buying fabric & patterns for  while?)

One, throwing out all the UFO/Disaster projects I’ve been holding on too because I like the fabric, is good juju…

Two, almost all of my disasters are in rayon

Three….I need to get better at sewing rayon before I commit even more fabric carnage…

A simple pattern I could make in rayon, in my size, which would look great under layers? Why hello Springfield…

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First up a toile. In my wisdom I decided to ignore what I learnt making my Dartmouth top, and instead cut a straight size 18. Nope, no idea what I was thinking either.

As my toile ended up a little big around the bust (surprise!), I followed the instructions from the Cashmerette sew along here , and graded the pattern at the bust & waist for a much better fit.

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80’s power ballad moment…

For this version I didn’t do the Princess seams at the back, the fabric is so drapey I thought the looser flowing cut would work better.

Its a simple sew, although I did take the time to do French Seams, and I was super careful with my binding (hint, stay stitching and LOADS of pins are really important when binding slippery fabric!)

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“The inside should be as pretty as outside” – my Mother

I’m really happy with this top, I love it with jeans as per the pics, for work I have navy blue pants & nude patent heels that will work a treat. It feels lovely to wear, and the floral print elevates a super simple shape into something a little more special.

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Jenny has released a Pattern Hack course for this top, I already have a V neck faced version lined up, and that’s just the start…

Open kimono: I wont lie, I agonized over these pictures, do I really want my bare arms online?? Arms quite frankly I wish looked better/firmer/more tanned…. Talking the talk about body positively is one thing, walking the walk, online, bare biceps banging in the breeze, is quite another. It feels a bit weird, but the reality is, while I still covet Michelle Obama biceps, they are never going to be mine. Accept and move on…

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Gap moment recreation/flashback!?

Kristina xxx

* One of my first jobs in London was in an old building (that’s UK old, like properly old!), the Air Con consisted of opening the windows. The older gentleman who managed the office liked the blinds down, some issue with light on his screen apparently….but one day, in a fit of heat induced rebellion I opened a blind, and guess what was out the window? The most glorious view of St Paul’s Cathedral, the dome was literally glistening in the sunshine. I gasped, it was the most fabulous sight, which I enjoyed it for a full forty five seconds until I was politely asked to please lower the blind…

Dancing with Helena

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Those colours!

That thing when you make something you are really pleased with, and have several strangers stop you in public & ask where you brought your dress, and you try and be all modest/cool saying “oh I made it myself”, when really your doing a deeply uncool “whoop whoop/solo high five” inside and feeling like a sewing ninja/fabric whisperer/superstar. Yep that thing.

So after the success of my last Helena , I intended to make a plain shorter version to wear with jeans or skinny pants. Then I saw this amazing fabric by Karen Walker , (a designer I can neither fit nor afford) AND it was 50% off. I was so taken with the colours  I brought it despite being polyester. I didn’t actually notice the wonderful ladies until I got it home. We were in Drapers Fabric and while my husband was being chatted up by all the females in the shop, in about 10 minutes I managed to purchase three knits, a cotton and the most lovely silk you will be seeing here soon! Thanks ladies, diversion tactics!

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All the single pretty ladies!

Now I’ll be honest, I would never normally buy polyester. It makes me sweat. Actually , when we were kids in the 70’s here in the Antipodes, we were taught females didn’t sweat, they “glowed”. Either way, given I live in a city that has a mean humidity in Summer of about 98%, my purchase was probably more a triumph of hope over experience, but whatever, I’m a (glowing!) optimist.

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Oh hi you lovely boots.

I left the pockets off this time, the fabric is stiffer than linen, and given the busy print, kept the sleeves simple. Have I mentioned how much I love I dont need to do a bicep adjustment for this pattern. If not, consider it mentioned.

I did find the neckline does not sit as flat as the linen version, I’m not used to sewing a polyester fabric like this (its quite thick & slightly slippery), it also has zero natural stretch.

Despite this, I think it looks fab, and huzzah, wearing it with leggings and boots I can avoid the dreaded “chubb rub” (goodness, we’re all about the sharing today kids!) I have chunky calves, so boot buying was always an epic fail, until I came across this UK company . They are not cheap, but they are really comfy and the quality is fantastic, I have pairs over five years old that just require resoling every now and again. It opens up a whole world of winter dress wearing , and I can run for the train, result!

 

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Spotted the snafu yet…?

Now, the elephant in the room. The sleeves. Continuing my longstanding habit of making the simple into something ridiculously difficult, I managed to cut my sleeves upside down. Yes, really. I then compounded the issue by being completely clueless of this fact until AFTER the sleeves were not only inserted, but hemmed, ironed & being admired by yours truly. After consulting the lovely ladies on the rather awesome Curvy Sewing Collective, we decided to consider it a design choice, which would also have potential for fabulous hands in the air dancing. I fully approve obviously.

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Throw ya hands in the air, like ya just dont care…(with apologies to the neighbors, and passing birds temporarily snow blinded by my milky white arms…)

Apparently black is “slimming” . Possibly, but I’ve decided I’m just fine with the amount of space I occupy (and quite frankly, I wear lovely perfume, clean clothing & have few sharp angles, if only every commuter on public transport was as considerate!). Some days a loud print just makes you smile. Now, I feel an interpretive dance coming on…

Kristina xxx

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I’m calling this one “Have I left the oven on?”

Another day, another Dartmouth

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I’ve just realized I dont need to iron this top….oh yeah!

In what could well be a first, I not only made a muslin, I then took onboard some advice & altered my pattern for the next make. What a difference it makes!

While I was actually pretty happy with my first Dartmouth ,  it was a wee bit loose around the bust. I am often bang on pattern waist & hip measurements, but slightly smaller in the bust. In this instance the difference was exactly one size, so I put my big girl pants on & bravely graded between the bust & waist. Actually it wasn’t particularly tricky, I just drew a (hopefully curvy not wobbly ?) line between size 16 down to 18 at the waist. I think it worked a treat!

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Well it made sense to me…

The fabric is a sumptuous drape  Liberty jersey in a wonderful “splatter” print. Now I wont lie, this fabric is pricey. Enough to make me take the trouble to get my fit right before I cut into it, even then I had to have a few sips of Chardonnay to get me on my way (just a few sips, sewing while lashed will generally always end in tears/lacerations)

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Just standing around in heels in the garden as you do…

I’m thrilled with the result. Ironing? In my house that’s Mr PK on his special ultra tall & wide American ironing board  , slowing (glacially!!) doing his shirts watching NRL on a Sunday (you should have seen his face when I slipped my new fav dress onto the ironing pile) . Me at 7 am? Jersey please. A perfect top for work with nice pants , or the weekend with jeans. I love the higher neckline, flattering but totally work appropriate for a law firm. I like the length,  long enough for no ride up issues as I  dont tend to tuck, but with skirts it might work a little shorter.

More jersey please!?

Kristina xxx

 

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P.S What I do when I’m not sewing/baking/dodging housework? Make headboards of course. This weekends project, a one day workshop with my BFF, so much fun! If your in NZ check out Mollies Make & Create for details.

 

 

Dartmouth for Wonder Woman…

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Sparkle in the garden…as you do

Its been a tricky sewing week, after a  couple of misses earlier on I finally listened to those much smarter than I and made a muslin! Impatience, combined with a certain amount of “she’ll be right” have previously ensured I throw caution (and in some cases rather lovely fabric) to the wind. Then I brought some delicious Liberty jersey from my favorite fabric store and realized if I mucked this up I would actually cry . Or swear. Or both.

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How cute??!!

When I saw Cashmerette’s latest pattern Dartmouth, a stylish crossover knit top with three sleeve options, I knew I needed to get back on the knit wagon. I’ve had two previous attempts and made a complete mess of both, mainly due to bad fabric choices. Confident the Liberty would be gorgeous, but less confident in my ability not to make a complete Horlicks of the whole sew I turned to some cheap but cute Spotlight knit. Not quite the same stretch as the jersey, but at least I would have an idea of the fit.

And most importantly? GOLD STARS! Who doesn’t want a gold star? Or a whole heap in my case.

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I’m wearing gold stars,  from now on I shall be known as Wonder Woman  x

I recently went on a weekend Overlocking (Serging) workshop at my local sewing store, it was brilliant, and gave me the confidence to actually know what adjusting the tension, stitch length etc will do…….rather than fiddling around with various knobs and hoping for the best. That said, its still very much a learning curve…

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Pick a width, any width…

It certainly isn’t perfect, but I’m pretty happy with the size and  shape. The neckline certainly isn’t as snug as it should be, and I possibly need to adjust the bust size .

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Neck not quite right

I love a three quarter sleeve, although my twin needle stitching needs (much) work. But its a lovely comfy style, great with jeans or dressed up for work. Ok maybe not the gold stars for work…

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Just a hint of an Elvis style cape, circa 1976!

Cant wait to get cracking with my Liberty! How about you, can you see Dartmouth’s in your wardrobe?

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Sassy!

 

Kristina xxx

Crushing on Helena…

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Hangin’ in the garden with my new pal Helena…

As soon as I saw her I knew it was meant to be. You know when you see a pattern and just KNOW you are going to love it. Everything about it says yes , that is my style. Not just linen, but a gorgeous rust colored linen. Cute little pin tucks, tick. Excellent sleeve coverage with button action, tick tick. Stylish, but not really trying too hard,  BOOM tick!

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Just like the one on the packet!

This is the Helena dress, from UK based Sew Me Something. The pattern comes as a paper & PDF pattern, in sizes UK 8-22. For reference I made a 20, the fit is definitely relaxed, even the sleeves, which as you darlings know, is my nemesis!

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Relaxed pose for a relaxed frock (yep I used the F word, love it)

I brought this gorgeous Merchant & Mills linen a wee while ago, intending to make a pair of pants to go with this top. The pants pattern I ordered took an AGE to arrive, and in the meantime that minx Helena caught my eye!

I have a long standing love affair with linen, particularly in “autumnal” hues. When I met my now husband, my absolute fav item of clothing was a forest green linen shirt, which I liked to wear with dark brown cords. It was the mid 90’s and I was channeling a slightly grunge (only very slightly mind, ’cause otherwise ewww?!) Seattle look…. (never having actually been outside New Zealand )  My intended described it as “your dressing like a tree phase”. Yes dear reader, astonishingly I did still marry him.

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Brown Steel!

This is a pretty easy sew, I cut out and made up in a weekend (with all the usual mundane weekend “stuff” fitted in comfortably) There is short & long sleeve options, I think the placket and button is really cute and makes the dress slightly different. The instructions are excellent, Jules  who designs these patterns also runs sewing workshops, I think her teaching experience shows.

While the fit is relaxed, the darts and gathers mean this doesn’t feel “sack” like, I want to be comfortable, without appearing to drown in fabric. I wont bother with the pockets next time, I never actually put anything (besides hands) in them anyway. I like this with leggings & sandals, in winter jeans and boots will step up. Jules has great personal style, she wears this dress a lot, check out her Instagram feed here

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So is this a lasting relationship? Will I make more Helena’s? Absolutely! Next up is a tunic version with shorter sleeves and some pretty stitching around the neckline.

So, are you tempted??

Kristina xxx

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Ok, give me that!

Sailor top for a landlubber…

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I’ve been accused of looking a bit miserable in my pics (thank you darling…), so this is me in my lovely new top looking happeeeee! I can truly say this was not always the case DURING the sew…but we got there . I think it was worth the effort.

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I love this style of top , a simple shape with a flattering neckline and huzzah SLEEVES. So wearable , yet so pretty. This is my first make from Fancy Tiger Crafts, I saw it made up by a clever lady on this rather magnificent Facebook group and thought it would be perfect for work with nice pants (in my neck of the universe that’s trousers, I dont work in my knickers:)

I made up a size XXL, the top size in the range , which was plenty big enough, but I think this would be an easy pattern to grade up, with so few pattern pieces & the gathering.

Now the fabric. I adore this print, its a delicious woven viscose by Atelier Brunette from my fav fabric store Miss Maude. It is slightly heavier than a cotton, drapes like a dream and those colours! I really wanted to do it justice…so did I?

 

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Giving sleeves a bad name since 2003…

Its some kind of inverse universal sewing law that say’s if you do something complicated well, you will almost surely cock up that super simple thing you do next. Shirt WITH cuffs, plackets & 400 button holes? No sweat baby. Simple gathered top with nary a zip or button to be seen…..grab the popcorn and watch this train crash in slow motion kids…

I struggled mostly I think because of my cavalier attitude to fabric marking. I have yet to find a really reliable method of transferring pattern marks to fabric, chalk that crumbles, pens that mark then disappear, tacking threads that get pulled out four seconds after I put them in???

Consequently when it came to gathering, I was basically doing it blind (but not silently, the swearing that accompanied this particular sew was both rich & varied, ably assisted by a mean humidity of about 97% the entire time)

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“Stitch in the Ditch” meets “Wander along the stream and dip a toe in now & again…”

My beautiful fabric , while draping magnificently, is a pain to turn & hem, it has a wee bit of stretch , just enough to make my sleeve facing  a bit wobbly…indeed

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Sleeve facing….second attempt

 

So despite the wobbly gathering, drunken stitching and bitty sleeve hems, do I like this top?  Actually yes, I like it a lot.  If feels wonderful, the neckline is flattering for me, the sleeves fit straight from the pattern (no adjustment needed, yeah!), it has enough length….the issues are operator error, I dont tend to make toiles (muslins), so it not unexpected there will be some areas where the sewing could be “neater” , as my mother would say. The pattern instructions are clear , with line drawings and concise written instructions

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Still smilin’

Would I recommend this pattern, yes I would.  I know now the areas I need to concentrate on , the next version will be so much “neater”… 🙂

Kristina xxx

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Normal transmission is resumed…

Birthday lovely…

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Now you’re probably wondering, does this woman make anything but shirts & shirt dresses? I do! But this particular make was for my sisters birthday (in December, so I’m only two months late…). It was originally going to be this pattern, but when Cashmerette  released an extension to their popular Harrison shirt (see my version here), I decided to give that a crack instead. I think it turned out pretty well!

The pattern was released as a sleeveless dress, but the birthday girl definitely wanted sleeves. A sleeve guide to insert the original long sleeve was later released , but as its the middle of summer here in New Zealand, we decided to do short sleeves instead.

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Oh sleeves. I do sound like a woman obsessed , but upper arm coverage is a serious business people! I’m still learning the ins and outs of arm syncs & such things, so I decided to use the Harrison shirt sleeve but make my own hack from this pattern , cutting it at elbow length and adding the faux cuff. Wrinkly elbow optional obviously.

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Now buttons. Buttons , buttons and more buttons. While I dont mind doing 16 buttons holes, I do appreciate doing it with my lovely wizz bang Janome, the old Toyota might have sent me over the edge….! The cute wooden buttons are from Spotlight, at first I balked at so many small buttons, but actually the quantity meant no annoying gaping.

The princess seams give a nice fit over the bust, although I did trim some excess fabric off the hips , I think over all the sizing is true to the pattern measurements.

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So, the curvy:

Harrison shirt dress by Cashmerette

Size: 20- true to size

Fabric: Chambray from Miss Maude

Difficulty: Just be careful tracing off the arm sync, all the matchy matchy stuff matters when it comes to arm holes/sleeves

Next time: I would again trim the hip seams, as they were a touch wide across, and make the collar a little smaller

Fuel: This make was fueled by Chardonnay & sister hustle!.

Will there be a sequel? I’m already planning one for myself…

So, shirt dress yes? Have I convinced you??

Kristina xxx

Getting shirty….again

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Here I am, back posing in the garden. At least now the garden has a floral theme right? This fabric caught my eye leaving a local (sadly closing down) fabric shop. I very nearly made it out the door with just what I went in for. Nearly. But it was so pretty, and I kept seeing fabulous dresses all over Pinterest, and it was 25 % off the sale price…what could I do?

I chose Simplicity 8014 for my first foray into Shirt dressing, and I’m pretty happy with it.

Simplicity Pattern 8014 Misses' Shirt Dress

I made view D, but with view C hem. Well that was the plan. I actually got thoroughly confused and cut the hem for D, which meant when I tried to straighten it up, I ended up with a hem shorter than I intended (I generally consider my knees are for private consumption only) oh well! I chose not to add the pockets , I never actually put anything in them and feel like my hips are one area that probably does not need any additional fabric.

As I did with my Fielder dress I enlarged the sleeve for a comfortable fit, oh the thrill of being to raise my arms easily , often an issue for me with RTW shirts and dresses. I really like the faux cuff detail which I will use again .

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Looks terrible, but it worked…

The one thing I wasn’t so thrilled with was the fit at the back, the gathers were fine, but I ended up with a balloon of fabric underneath. No doubt this would be gathered in with the belt, but I felt the dress looked better on me without the belt.

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Hmmm, what is going on under there???

The collar and pockets were fine, the instructions clear and it all came together well. Because the fabric is so busy I chose not to use a contrasting topstich colour, does make for a slightly easier life. It looks mostly like the one on the packet!

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Sharp….ish.

My next project is an extension of the Harrison shirt, I’m hoping the princess seaming will eliminate the bagging effect at the back. I’m going to add similar sleeves to this one though, I wish I could just throw caution to the wind and go sleeveless but I really feel more comfortable with upper arm coverage. Am I obsessed with sleeves??

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I need to talk to my photographer about unfortunate reflections on my hair….eyes on the dress people

 

Have you made a shirt dress? Any tips and tricks gratefully received!

 

Kristina xxx