Crazy Cat Lady Belladone…meow

I have been procrastinating a bit over writing this post because it is out-of-order.

I stitched up two other dresses before this one but I am behind in my blogging so it makes my eye twitch to write this post first…however I am late to The Cat Lady party so here goes…

When I spotted Miss Crayola Creepy’s Cat Lady Sewing Challenge on Instagram I shared it with the WSBN and as is our style is became a Big Deal.

A picnic was planned and we spent several days sharing cat fabric image after cat fabric image with each other.

It took me a few days to decide on my final selection. I trawled the internet like a crazy cat woman because I wanted kitties but nothing too crazy. If I am going to spend time making an awesome dress then I need to be able to wear it out in normal situations…like to work!

Kokka Japan, Tossed Kitties in Pink and Aqua Images from fabricworm.com 

In the end I settled on this Kokka fabric called Tossed Kitties. The cats are a small enough scale to not be in-your-face but still recognisable.

Plus it makes me think of this:

BEG8

I went for the slightly less crazy Aqua and I was really pleased when it arrived because the light blue was actually much darker and more teal in real life. I love it!

Deer and Doe’s Belladone was my pattern of choice, selected for cuteness and lack for bodice/skirt seams.

This pattern has been on my to-sew list for a while. I pulled it out and traced it a few months ago, compared the bodice against another favourite pattern, decided it needed 4cms in length and then got distracted by another project.

So my pattern was all ready traced with a small sticky note attached reminding me about the 4cms. I just needed to decide where to add them! The bust darts are super high so 2cms went there and the other 2cms below. I find it a little bizarre that this bodice is so short when the Bleuet dress fitted me really well with almost zero alterations.

I did briefly consider sewing a muslin of just the bodice to test out my changes but…well I couldn’t be bothered so traced a second bodice piece, added my extra length and tissue fitted it to Scarlett.

Looks good to me!

My only other alteration was to add an extra 6cms to the skirt.

Harriet approved of this fabric early on

After I had cut everything out and started sewing I found a pretty big drafting error. My pattern is a bit older so I’m not sure if it’s been picked up and corrected.

The upper back bodice pieces square off at the side seam but the squared off section is 2cms wide. With a seam allowance of only 1.5cm this means that after stitching the side seam you would end up with 0.5cm raw edge poking out on each side. Not good 😦

It made me kind of mad at first. Is this not the sort of thing that should be picked up during pattern testing? Lucky I had extra fabric to re-cut these small pieces after altering the pattern. It’s an easy fix to extend the angled edge to a point.

My grey bias tape was left over from one of those dresses that I haven’t yet blogged. I originally intended to use a dark blue but it wasn’t right with the teal. The grey bias strips were already cut and ready to be ironed into shape.

Win.

I mostly followed the instructions except that I attached all my front pieces together and then all my back pieces so that I could sew the side seams as a continuous line and adjust the fit.

I also saved attaching the neck binding until last so that after inserting the zipper I could adjust the fit there.

When it came to joining the back of the neck I came across the same drafting error of a 2cm squared off edge. This edge is too large for the bias to cover, it looks nothing like the image in the instructions, which has these edges finishing in points.

I was not going to recut the same piece for a third time so I trimmed the edges to points, adding a bit more scoop to the neck, then I pinned my overlap to test and tried it on

I found the under bodice pieces a bit gapey so I hid a small pleat under the overlap and I will adjust the pattern to take this out for next time.

I put in an invisible zipper and I’m not super happy with how the upper edge is finished. It looks fine from the outside but inside it looks messy and exposed at the top. It’s a bit tricky to line up the bottom of the V so I ended up putting my zip in a little low so I fixed that with a hook and eye. I’m still thinking about how I’ll do it better next time.

Even after the few hiccups and grumbles I have with this pattern I really love my dress and now that I have ironed out the issues I am definitely making a couple more. I’d love to use the bodice with a different skirt pattern and vice versa and maybe even make up the skirt just as a skirt.

Sandra took these fabulous photos at the Wellington Botanic Garden. We had a lovely picnic and everyone had a Cat Lady outfit, even our newest member Alison who was given almost no notice. She made a cute hat with cats on it.

This sounds pretty cool but wait…the cats are wearing hats.

It’s like hat inception…Cat in the Hat-ception.

Awesome.

Here are a few group photos taken by various kiddiewinks who tagged along.

Laura, Alison, Joy, Sandra

Teresa, Me, Juliet and Sophie-Lee

Laura, Me, JulietSandra

Sophie-Lee, Teresa, Joy and Johanna

Does anyone else own the Belladone? Does your pattern have the same drafting errors as my older pattern? I’m keen to find out.

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Deer & Doe Belladone, size 42

Next time I will remove 1cm from below the bust darts because it feels a tiny bit long now. I need to adjust the inner upper back bodice to remove the excess fabric. Outer upper bodice piece has already been adjusted at side seam but I need to adjust CB at neck as well.

Fabric – Kokka Japan Tossed Kitties in Aqua from Voodoo Rabbit

Other notions – Me-made bias, grey cotton from Spotlight

 

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Let’s do this! Indie Pattern Month June 2014

In June last year Kat and I hosted the first ever Indie Pattern Month – a whole month devoted to celebrating all the wonderful independent pattern designers that we love.

We interviewed many of those fabulous designers, stitched up lots of Indie patterns and showcased your amazing Indie pattern makes. You can read all those posts here and here.

It was a lot of fun and inspired us to start The Monthly Stitch, a huge ongoing group sew-along blog with a new theme each month. That’s right, Indie Pattern Month 2013 was the catalyst behind The Monthly Stitch and all the fun we’ve had since!

Ever since then we’ve had sewing peeps telling us how much they enjoyed sewing Indie for a whole month and asking us when we were going to do it next…

Well guess what? It’s time!

June 2014 will be our second Indie Pattern Month, repeating each June, but this time run through The Monthly Stitch, bigger and better than ever!

Along with the usual monthly theme of sewing Indie and celebrating all those fabulous labels and the people behind them who inspire us and keep sewing amazing clothing, this year we also have some Indie themed competitions, one each week, and we have lots of loot to give away. Yes, that’s right: PRIZES!

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Each week we have a new sewing contest theme, starting with an easy one: “Dresses”, which is all about sewing, umm, dresses 😉 and working on up to “Indie Fan Girl: Level Ultimate”, a whole outfit from your favourite Indie label.

There are a few simple rules you need you to follow, check out Kat’s post to find out more details, but ALL independent pattern designer labels are eligible.

We have other give-aways, interviews and discount codes too so keep your eyes on The Monthly Stitch during June for more.

Want to find out more, sign up to take part, see what designers are involved, and maybe check out the competition categories? We’ve got everything you need all in one easy to find place.

So jump on over to The Monthly Stitch and sign up so that you can blog your Indie Pattern Month make on The Monthly Stitch during June for your chance to win some amazing prizes from our fabulous sponsors.

Indie Pattern Month June 2014, YEAH! 😀

 

The one in which we eat some cake…while wearing some Cake…but not like that…

I’m going to start off this post by saying that my Tiramisu dress and I are friends now…we weren’t during the construction, there was some grumpy sewing…in fact I was grumpy at this dress before I even started it which probably didn’t help but we’ll get to that.

What is important is that we are friends now, I am even wearing it today, at work, here is your evidence:

As you can see I went with the black and white ($2.00/meter) flavoured fabric. It was a hard decision, you guys actually liked the Phony Missoni the most:

What began the grumpiness was the fact that the bodice sizing seems to be crazy. When I started tracing the patterns I loved the idea of grading between the circle and the triangle to combine different sizes for bodice and skirt and I initially liked the idea that the bodice was sized by cup size.

Great! I’ve done this before, with a Simplicity Project Runway pattern, it worked out perfectly.

However it turns out that the “cup” sizing for Cake patterns does not relate in any way to your bra “cup” size. So I was stumped on what size to cut and became even more confused when I heard how much trouble some of the other girls were having selecting their size.

Let’s talk about some measurements, I’m not embarrassed to share. My high bust is 97cm and my full bust is 103cm, I wear a 14D bra. Since the instructions suggest going down a size if you want a snug fit I decided to cut the 35 bodice and since everyone seemed to be finding the bodice cups oversized I cut the C cup. The size chart said this would suit a 95cm bust so I was hoping this would be correct and achieve a more fitted look. I also cut the 35 midriff and graded to the 32.5 sized skirt.

I had to be extra careful cutting this fabric out, the stripes are not symmetrical so I had to think really carefully for each skirt piece so I’d end up with correctly mirrored pieces! 🙂 To help with this I traced several of the stripes onto my butter paper to help line everything up.

Harri helped too, her new “thing” is burrowing.

I stitched the entire dress on my overlocker using 4-threads, AFTER I cleaned out all the Lady Grey fluff babies!

Everything went really quick and smooth. I didn’t have any fusible stay tape for the shoulder seams so I used my sew-in stay tape and caught it with the overlocker. The only problem I found at first was that my back midriff was larger that my back bodice by 1cm each side. There was a brief moment of panic when I check the paper pieces and wondered if was supposed to have added seam allowance instead of assuming it was included but a couple of quick messages with the WSBN and it was all ok. I decided I would  just overlock that off when I joined the side seams.

When I got to try on my bodice it fitted great across the back but the cup area was HUGE! My girlies looked super saggy and non-existent and I definitely failed the bend-over-forwards-to-see-if-anything-falls-out test. The only way I could think to fix it was to unpick the midriff band and then I stood in the mirror with some pins and modified the overlap and the attachment to the band. I ended up pulling the front overlaps down below the band.

This photo above is of the band pinned in place, right sides together. You can see how much the bodice pieces stick out past the stitching line. Now that the dress is finished I think I should have overlapped them a little bit more and pulled them down at least another centimetre as the weight of the skirt didn’t help with any further fitting. My cleavage is just covered but for work I really need to wear this dress with a singlet.

Once I was happy with the bodice the rest of the dress went together so easily. I was careful to place a pin at each stripe intersection in the skirt, I really REALLY wanted perfect stripe placement. It was an intense few sewing minutes, I kept stopping to check the underside, to make sure it hadn’t slipped!

I needed a break after that and when I came back I found this:

I  think Harri was trying to tell me something about this dress, she approves…or perhaps she was just making sure the white got some black fur on it…and it’s only fair that the black gets a little bit of white 😉

I made a few more final fitting adjustments. I took the waist in by a huge 4cm each side and lopped 7cm off the bottom, then I turned up 1.5cm and top stitched my hem down. Hem length is a personal choice but I wonder if some of the fitting issues are due to different amounts of stretch between fabrics, there is no stretch gauge with this pattern but taking it in was really easy, I just didn’t expect by that much.

The final result? I actually really like this dress now and I am contemplating another one. Excluding the bodice issues (who likes unpicking 4-thread overlocker stitch?!) and my extra careful cutting out it was a really fast make.

My only problem now is I have no idea what size I should have cut! I really don’t understand why the bodice is sized with something as universally known as a “cup” but then not be related to that familiar concept at all.

I think the 35 was the right bodice size so do I cut the A cup next time? Or do I go down to the 30 but still cut a C or a D?

I have no idea, when I work it out, I’ll let you know.

Ok, enough grumpiness, enough words, I’m past it, it’s all fixed now, let’s look at some cake and some Cake, there was a lot of both!

Prepare for a bombardment of photos:

If there is one thing the Wellington Sewing Bloggers know how to do (besides sew and blog) it’s make food!

Lots and lots of food

And then more food!

Would you like to see some other Cake now?

So many talented ladies! (Photo thanks to Sandra M)

Back row, left to right: Nicola, MaryLouise, Sandra M, Zara (new member, yay!), Myself, Emma, Johanna, Joy, Holly, MaryAnne and Sandra J (new member, yay!)

Front row, left to right: Nikki, Wendy and Gemma (new member, yay!)

And here are just the Tiramisu girls:

Myself, NikkiNicola and Johanna (Photo thanks to Sandra M)

There will be lots of other group shots popping up on the other blogs in the next day or two so please take a look.

Here are a few more of my Tiramisu, thank you to Nikki and others for whealding my big-girls camera.

Check out that stripe matching…

…front and back!

Myself and Holly (in her fabulously reversible Cabarita) doing the black and white thing

Bodice close up with cake

YUM!

Now how about some Cake with cake? And what better cake than a delicious Tiramisu made by one of our new members Sandra J? This lady knows how to make friends!

Tiramisu with your Tiramisu?

As per usual we had an amazing afternoon chatting about sewing, eating cake in our Cake and laughing far too much. It was so nice to meet three new girls in our group.

So, did you attend a Cake Day or take the suggestion to sew and eat some C/cake? Please share your post with me and photos, we’d love to see your Cake with cake 😉

I’ll leave you with our “duck face” out-take:

“Everyone do a duck face!” (Photo thanks to Sandra M)

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Indie round up: Hello Josie from Handmade by Josie!

I’ve got two more interviews to share with you (maybe a third if a certain someone sends me her answers soon 😉 )

Today it is Josie of Handmade by Josie’s turn.

If you missed the last few interviews, here is where to read about their awesomeness:

Hi Josie!

What do you like the most about sewing with indie patterns?

The fit. Indie patterns tend to fit a whole lot better in my experience and also the finished product actually looks like its supposed to! I dont know how many things I’ve made that come out looking nothing like the picture on the front cover!

I’ve found that Indie patterns usually come with a tutorial that provides a lot of guidance for novice sewer like myself. That really has helped me lot and kept my interest in sewing going strong. Also a lot of indoe patterns come with add-ons and variations like how to turn a top into a dress, different types of sleeves etc.

What’s your favourite Indie pattern, and why?

I really like the Mathilde top from Tilly and the buttons and also the Washi dress by Made by Rae. They were both really easy to sew and actually came out looking like they are supposed to! Also I feel confident in actually wearing them out as they don’t look “handmade”.Also both patterns have really detailed instructions and great pics to guide you along the way.

(Click on any image to learn more)

What’s your favourite thing you’ve made from an indie pattern?

My Washi dress. I wear it all the time!

Which is your favourite indie pattern company, and why?

So far I’ve only had experience with Tilly and the buttons and Made by Rae, so they are both my faves.

Which indie pattern are you planning on making next?

I have just purchased Megan Nielson’s Darling Ranges dress and The Wiksten tank.

What indie patterns are on your wish list?

Colette – Hawthorn, Peony, Iris

Deer and Doe – Sureau and Belladone

Sewaholic – Pendrell

Sewliberated – Clara dress and Schoolhouse Tunic

I love your first few Indie makes Josie,  and judging from your wishlist there are heaps more to come! 🙂 You have shown me some great new patterns , thank you so much for participating last month xx

Introducing: The Monthly Stitch!

Hi everyone! I’ve been laid low with the flu the last few days (why does it always strike on the weekend?!) so please excuse me if this post begins to waffle due to any remaining flu-induced delirium.

First up I just want to say a big Thank You to everyone who has contacted me about the last few shaky days here in Wellington. The earthquakes have been incredibly scary, the aftershocks continue today, and the whole of central New Zealand is on tender hooks.

As a kiwi I’ve always been aware that New Zealand is highly geologically active, that’s part of the reason why our country is so beautiful! Wellington in particular is divided by several fault lines and over time they’ve created our hills, our harbour and even our airport!

Very early on in school you learn all about what to do in an earthquake and I’m married to a geologist but in all my time here in Welly the quakes building up to that 6.5 on Sunday night were the largest I have ever experienced and none of that  knowledge makes it easier.

It’s really nice to know that random strangers on the Internet are worried about me and my family. I’m just kidding, you guys aren’t strangers! All of the Curious Kiwis are safe and sound with no damage to any of our burrows. l hope all my other kiwi readers are safe too, sending you internet-hugs!

It’s a good reminder for EVERYONE to have your emergency kit and family plan well prepared in advance.

Thanks again guys xx

Right, on to more exciting things!

Over the last few months I have been quietly scheming with my fellow Wellingtonian’s Kat, Juliet.

It’s been a few months in the making but we are finally ready to launch our sparkly new concept: The Monthly Stitch.

The Monthly Stitch is an ongoing Sew-along with a new challenge each month.

The idea is simple: sew one garment (or more) each month that relates to the theme.

Our challenge themes are designed to be open to interpretation and fit in with your own personal sewing skill level, style and geographic location.

Our aim is to build a collaborative collective of enthusiastic sewists all over the world for some inspirational sewing show-and-tell, increase our sewing productivity and have a heap of fun.

Our first challenge begins in August and has already been announced over on The Monthly Stitch, so how about you pop on over and check it out?

While you are there make sure you visit our About page to learn more and then read over the FAQ to find out how to join us.

Fell free to sew along in spirit but if you really want to take the big plunge you should jump on board! Signing up is easy and we’d love to have you here from the very beginning 🙂

Harri approves of this!

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Indie round up: Hello Lizzy from Sew Busy Lizzy!

I hope you guys are enjoying reading these interviews with out fellow bloggers and indie pattern lovers.

Now it is Lizzy of Sew Busy Lizzy‘s turn.

If you missed the last few interviews, here is where to read about their awesomeness:

Hi Lizzy!

What do you like the most about sewing with indie patterns?

I love supporting individuals who are out there doing something they love, taking a risk & putting themselves out there. Most indie companies have a distinct style or niche that they design for and I respect that – they are not trying to be everything to everybody.

What’s your favourite Indie pattern company, and why?

I adore Sewaholic, everything is so well drafted and Tasia has incorporated clever finishes (the beautiful Cambie dress lining, the Pendrell sleeve frills) and smart design elements (back seam of Thurlows for fitting, piping the Tofino pants to visually lengthen your legs).

That said, By Hand London is pounding on my door to be a favourite with their first three patterns. I adore their designs & packaging. They are really going to be the one to watch. They are very ‘now’ and filling the niche for funky street fashion sewing – something that is needed – sewing is the new rock n roll. Go girls!

What’s your favourite thing you’ve made from an indie pattern?

In the spirit of the Olympics – I’ve got gd, silver & bronze!

Gold would be my Maria Denmark Day to Night top. I’ve worn it to death, it’s flattering, uses next to no fabric & took less than one hour to make! I will be making lots more of these!

(Click on any image to learn more)

Silver to my By Hand London Elisalotte. I just love the visual punch of this dress – I feel amazing in it. It’s not something I can wear everyday but it is awesome.

Bronze to my Sewaholic Cambies. I’ve made four and am working on number 5!

Which is your favourite indie pattern and why?

Oh goodness that’s such a tough one!! I loooove the Cambie, it’s a well documented fact!

I also love the cowl-neck Sewaholic Renfrew (doesn’t everyone?) and Maria Denmark cowl day-to-night top. I think I may have a cowl fetish going on…

Which indie pattern are you planning on making next?

I’m finishing off a Cambie but after that I’d love to make another By Hand London Victoria blazer, an everyday one – something a bit less luxe than my sari lined one!

I’ve also got Victory Patterns Nicola queued and Jalie jeans at some point… then there is that bombshell swimsuit – although swimwear gives me a cold sweat.

What indie patterns are on your wish list?

GRAINLINE! I still can’t believe I haven’t made the Archer, Moss or Scout. It’s ridiculous. I must rectify this situation soon.

Thanks so much Lizzy, I love ALL your Cambie dresses, each one is different but they all look great on you, it’s no wonder you are addicted!

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Tasty fabric

I am still working on my Lady Grey (and I’ve put the rainbow swallows shirt dress back on Scarlett for fitting), but the progress didn’t happen on the weekend quiet like I hoped then to top things off I was a silly girl and banged my head (and strained almost all the muscles in my neck) on Monday night so my evenings of Me-sewing also aren’t happening this week!

After my headache finally settled down I cheered myself up by doing some Tiramisu fabric fondling last night.

When I can’t actually sew, I like to mentally sew instead 😉

Fabric makes me happy and my stash contains many suitable Tiramisu fabrics.

I joked with the WSBN girls at lunch on Monday that I probably have about 40 pieces to choose from…they gasped and giggled…but actually it wasn’t far off the truth!

I have narrowed it down to three:

What do you think?

From left to right: First up is a “phony Missoni” from Fabric.com, it cost about $14.00 per meter. I really love this fabric, it is a slightly smaller scale pattern than I’ve shown in my mock up. I worry about matching the zig-zags but I have heaps of fabric, about 3.6 meters, which means I will hopefully have enough leftover for a skirt too. I’ve wanted a Missoni style knit for aaages and I love the colours so I want to make sure it ends up with the right sewing pattern. This could be it but will the zig zags do weird things to my ladies?

Next is the newest stash addition – a $6.00 per meter pink jersey with sparkly stripes I picked up during our failed Levana trip from Arthur Toye in Palmerston North. I love the tone of pink but I only have 2 meters. However, based on what the other WSBN girls have said, I think I could squeeze it out of that. It feels really soft and slinky, the stripe is a nice scale and, well, SPARKLES! But could it potentially end up a bit pyjama-like?

Last is a black and white jersey that was only $3.00 per meter from Fabric Warehouse Pop Up Store – I like that the pattern changes widths, so it doesn’t look like prison garb and I could put the smaller stripes at my hips and waist for potential slimming effect. I have over 4.5 meters (I only paid for 3 so technically that’s $2.00 per meter and this could mean a dress for under $5.00 plus plenty left over for a top too) plenty of allowance for stripe matching. Plus it will look great with bright coloured tights and boots for winter or a pretty cardi in spring.

I think I know which I will go with but I love them all. I canvassed the WSBN for their opinions but I think that might have made the decision even harder! So now I am curious for your opinion.

Lets have a vote and let me know what you think in the comments.

I can’t promise I’ll listen but a pretty Tiramisu will show up by July 28th! 😉

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