0 Degrees Bleuet

You guys have heard of 6 Degrees of Separation right?

New Zealand has a bit of an inside joke regarding that saying (we even have a mobile phone company named for it), but in Wellington it seems even less and we often joke that it’s actually 0 Degrees.We know this is technically not possible but live in Wellington for even a short period of time and you’ll quickly realise the exaggeration is no understatement. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve met someone new and we’ve discovered some way we are linked through circumstance or mutual friend/s.

So, moving on to the point of this post: The Wellington Sewing Bloggers now number more than 30 lovely ladies with a passion for sewing and blogging and Wellington.  With a group this size you won’t be surprised to learn that several of us own the same patterns and we also often buy the same fabric.

Sometimes inadvertently, sometimes deliberately.

This is what spawned Leimomi’s idea for the 0 Degrees of Sewing Separation Challenge. We would all link up by pattern or fabric and create a branching chain of fabulous clothes that  all link us together.

This is my link in the chain, a second Deer and Doe Bleuet:

Excuse the wrinkles, I wore it all day at Fabric-a-brac :)

It links to Kat who has made the same dress in a cute mushroom fabric and Jenna who used the same mushroom fabric to make a Pauline Alice Alameda…and that’s how it goes. Check out all the links in the chain as they are published on Leimomi’s post.

The main fabric from Cotton and Steel and it is AMAZING (capital letters required). It was beautiful to sew and feels great even after a few washes. Japanese fabric is like that.

I had 2.5 yards but due to the narrow width I didn’t have enough to cut all the final small pieces. So I picked up some matching pink broadcloth of similar weight and weave from Spotlight.

Spot my new sewing toy – an ElnaPress – Squee! Perfect interfacing.

I initially thought I would cut the button band (which I cut off last time), collar, bow and sleeve bands from the pink but I was worried it would become too bitsy and the beautiful main fabric would be less special. In the end I squeezed the button band and upper collar (by piecing the under side) onto the Tangrams and only cut the collar upstand, bow and cuffs from the pink.

Kat helped me alter the sleeves because I didn’t want the gathers and puffiness and then I decided I wouldn’t use the chunky cuffs.

I stitched most of this on a Sunday and I had the dress about 80% finished (just needing collar, sleeves and hemming) when I put it on my dress form at the end of the day.

I felt so happy with my fabric choice and I decided that, although I normally prefer dresses with sleeves, I actually quite liked this one without. I consulted with members of the WSBN who mostly agreed with me but suggested I make up one sleeve and baste it on to check.

I tested the altered sleeve in calico first and it was pretty close. There was still a bit too much width so I folded that out and cut the first sleeve from the tangrams. I basted it in place and then I decided it needed more pink. I cut one of the cuffs down to bias width, folded it up and pinned it in place. It looked so good that I just went ahead and attached the second cuff and didn’t bother asking any more opinions ;)

I’m not very good at inserting sleeves. I usually catch each side three or fours times and have to do a lot of unpicking so this time I tried something new. I can’t remember where I first saw it or if it has a technical term other than Use All The Pins but it worked really well.

My only real hiccup with this make was running out of thread while sewing the hem the night before our meet. I had to steal some off the bobbin and even then I only just made it.

We celebrated our challenge with Yum Cha:

Mango Pudding!
Me, Kirsten, Kristina, Jenna and Kat

And then we wandered over to Te Papa for some fun group photos:

Leimomi, Me, Jenna, Marta, Zara, Kirsten and Nina

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Deer and Doe Bleuet Dress, straight size 42

Altered sleeves, removed self button placket and reattached.

Fabrics – Cotton and Steel Moonlit Tangrams Navy, pink broadcloth from Spotlight Kaiwharawhara.

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#MuseJennaB42mrw

My sew-jo has been a bit low lately, if you can’t tell from the lack of blog posts :)

But this is not a post to apologise for that, we all have our sewing ups and downs…this is a post about actually sewing.

It all started with a phone call from Kat at 4pm on a Saturday. We chatted about a lot of things and, of course, sewing. I complained about my low sew-jo and how I really just couldn’t be bothered right now…even though I have 4 projects already cut out. We talked about what inspires us to sew and I mentioned how I had a lot of fun sewing the dresses for TMS Frocktober 2014  because I was actively photographing them to share later. Kat said just recently she had really enjoyed Instagramming her Hummingbirds Clover dress progress and got a lot of fun and encouraging comments along the way…and that’s how #MuseJennaB42mrw started.

Kat’s challenge to me was to sew up one of my cut projects (specifically the Muse Jenna) before our planned afternoon tea on Sunday afternoon…the next day…

So I put the chicken in the oven for dinner, threaded my overlocker up with black and got to work, ‘gramming along the way ;)

I got as far as neckband before I stopped for dinner.

Then I finished up to the cuffs before I realised that I better choose some buttons. Nothing in my stash did the trick so I decided to go with pearl snaps. They play in with the slightly vintage vibe of the pattern and my fabric choice however by the time I dug them out it was dark and a little bit too late to be outside sewing with a hammer.

On Sunday morning I attached the snaps and then I was all done.

Apologies for boring inside photos…it’s taken me way too long to get around to taking these and the wind was not cooperating…so you get my soon-to-be-painted hallway wall ;)

The arms are a teeny bit long so I’ll adjust those next time my overlocker is threaded up black…and it’s just as comfy when buttoned up.

It’s such a fast make because I stitched about 90% of it on my overlocker, only using my sewing machine for the shoulder yoke gathers and the top stitching.

Muse has 4 patterns published now and considering it’s the creative child of one of my BSFF (Best Sewing Friends Forever) I’m a little embarrassed about how long it’s taken me to actually stitch something up.

I wanted this post to be a bit of a review of the experience…except that hasn’t happened!

I was skim reading and sewing so fast that I accidentally skipped a whole section and as I was interfacing the button band I thought, “whoa, shouldn’t I have attached the bottom band already?” And then I saw the ENTIRE page that I just flipped past in my haste ;)

But it’s ok, you don’t really need to hear what I think of the instructions because I know Kat and therefore I know they are awesome…this is the perfect wardrobe builder with lots of options, opportunity to personalise and to top it all off it’s an easy pattern to whip up in an afternoon…or you can take your time if you prefer ;)

You should check out her latest pattern, the Melissa…great name huh? ;)

The hearts are some sort of poly knit from The Fabric Warehouse but the black contrast is merino from my stash.

So this is a good time to mention that my favourite merino source is now online. Levana is merino heaven! So if you’ve been coveting some soft and warm NZ Merino then you’re in luck. Shipping within NZ is pretty reasonable and they will ship internationally, you just need to email them for a rate first. They will be adding more of their fabric range to the online store shortly.

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Muse Patterns Jenna Cardi, Size 38, variation B (hip length with long sleeves)

Next time I will shorten the arms about 2cm.

Fabrics – Poly knit: The Fabric Warehouse, $16/m. Black contrast: merino from stash.

I’m not normally a fan of cropped…anything…but I think I need to make the waist length version next to wear over some of my dresses come winter…but first I’ll sew up the Gillian dress, one of the other projects I already have cut out.

I learn’t a new NZSL sign on Valentines day…and the translation on the right ;)

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Drop down, increase speed and reverse direction!

So I made a hoodie…with Space Invaders on it…and lime green ribbing!

#BecauseGrownUp ;)

I picked this amazing fabric up from Levana in Levin. You must never drive north out of Wellington on SH1 and NOT go to Levana, it’s a rule.

I used the Papercut Undercover Hood which sews up in no time at all on an overlocker, and (not that it needs any further justification, but…) I made it for December’s Monthly Stitch G33k Out challenge.

I found the perfect lime with white polka dots for lining at Spotlight, on the discount table, natch! And Fabulous Sandra grabbed the green ribbing for me from a recent Fabric-a-brac, it was only $3, score!

I lined the hood as per the pattern but also the pocket for extra hidden colour and warmth.

This is super easy to do. Just cut an extra pocket piece, put them right sides together and sew around, leaving the bottom open, then turn through. I stitched the open pocket edges with my coverstitch and then attached it to the front as per the instructions, also using coverstitch. To strengthen the pocket opening I also added a narrow short zigzag at each corner.

I also ran a line of coverstitiching along the raglan sleeve seams.

The Space Invader fabric is a bit weird. It’s actually white and whole front is printed, including the black background, so when stretched you get a bit of white crackle where the base fabric shows through.

I pre-washed it and it looks ok but I don’t expect it to last very long.

The fabric wasn’t very expensive so I’ll call this a wearable muslin and I guess I’ll just have to make another…which I’ll be doing anyway :)

Next version I’d love to try to put a zipper in the front which should be easy…and NH is also eyeing up my hoodie sewing skills…thank goodness for speedy overlockers!

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Papercut Undercover Hood, full length version with hood, size XS

Main Fabric – Unidentifiable printed stretchy stuff from Levana, Levin

No changes next time in general, the sleeves and body are the perfect length. In a thicker fabric I might cut a size S and I’d like to try a zipper front version.

WSBN Does Christmas 2014

Every year (well, the last two years anyway, since that is how long the WSBN has been in existence!) we celebrate Christmas by swapping hand made decorations in the style of Secret Santa.

This year we used Elfster so that everyone could remain anonymous, even the organisers. Those that wanted to play signed up and received their partner along with three hints to help them narrow down all the options ;)

But first, food!

If you’ve had your eye on the WSBN for a while you’ll know there is one thing we do just as well as sewing…food.

It was a little chilly for our planned high tea picnic so we met at one of the WSBNers homes and spread out our glorious selection of treats. Yummy!

Later we got on with our swap and there was plenty of this:

Joahnna, Emily, Joy
Sandra, Juliet, Teresa
Me, Zara, Nikki

Everyone got fabulous decorations and it was so much fun to see each one revealed. Big thanks to Sandra for capturing all the reactions :D

Sandra drew me and made this hilariously accurate and super cute Christmas Harri in a Stocking.

AMAZING right?! Sandra even stalked my Facebook photos to get all the white bits in the right places. Look at Harri’s little socks!

When I showed Christmas Harri to Nerdy Husband he was super impressed and took her out of my hands to hang her on the tree right away.

Sandra also gave me her back-up ornament, the one she made first in case Christmas Harri was a flop. I really like it too but Harri wins paws down ;)

I drew Jenna and her hints included her love of birds. I’ve had a decoration idea in my head for while now involving native NZ birds but hadn’t gotten around to it so this year was the year!

I decided on trying to make a Tui since for me Tui = Christmas.

I shall explain: In New Zealand Christmas is during Summer which means BBQs, jandals, the beach and flowering Pohutukawa.

“Tui Eating Nectar” from virtualoceania.net

You might hear it called the New Zealand Christmas tree because of this (it’s also green and red) and the Tui flock to them to feed on the nectar.

Here is my inspiration Tui image courtesy of nzbirdsonline.

Tui are endemic to New Zealand, they have beautifully iridescent wings and a little white throat tuft. They are mimics and sing enthusiastic and complicated melodies that include gurgles, coughs and wheezing that have their own regional dialects. They are also super noisey in flight and sound as if in constant danger of crashing. I love them if you couldn’t tell… ;)

I started with Susan’s Gregarious Evening Grosbeak bird from her Downeast Thunder Farms blog. All her birds and other critters are amazing btw so go check them all out!

I omitted the beak piece and eye cap, extended the beak from the body and redesigned the tail. I added a second longer tail and the throat tufts then cut it all out of felt.

I cut the first body out of brown but it looked terrible so swapped to black and added green, blue and white felt for the other pieces.

I used black beads for the eyes and hand sewed the whole thing with matching thread and contrast on the wings. I really enjoyed this hand sewing because it was a lot of fun to see the bird take shape. I also slightly over-stuffed it because Tui are generally a little chubby.

When I was done NH said it needed legs to I dug out some wire and my pliers to bend some little feet. I made one foot then I pushed the wire though the body, bent the legs down and made the second foot. They kind of swing about but I like that.

I inserted a thick needle into the neck to find the right balance point and then used green floss for the hanger so that it blends in with the tree.

I liked my Tui so much that I didn’t actually want to give it away so I made another one for myself..and then two more. You can envision my evening of watching old Stargate SG-1 (mmm, Richard Dean Anderson…) while working on my Tui production line.

By the end of the third episode I’d created a little felt Tui army that I wish I’d remembered to take a picture of. I also wish I’d had my camera ready for when Harri took an experimental bite of one. I kid you not!

One of the spare Tui went to Fashionable Younger Sister and the other to my In-laws.

And that is how the WSBN celebrate Christmas, may our Decoration Swap tradition last long into the future…I’m going to need a bigger tree!

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A not very Gray Day Sandpoint Top

I have two more projects to blog before 2014 leaves us and I can start 2015 afresh.

Earlier this year during Indie Pattern Month, The Monthly Stitch helped Penny of Dresses & Me promote a little competition to encourage any budding Indie pattern designers to submit a pattern. The winner was decided by a panel of judges and the prize included some mentorship and other help to kickstart their pattern company.

The winner was Helena of Gray All Day with her cute Sandpoint top, a loose fitting T-shirt with cowl back.

Kat recently hosted a sew along over on TMS so I thought I’d whip up one of my own.

I went for a glam version, using a slinky pink knit with metallic stripe that I got from one of my final Arthur Toye visits before they shut down. I think it cost me a whole $6 per meter.

After looking at the finished measurements I cut one size smaller than the size chart suggested.

It was super fast and very easy to make. Except for one tiny bit of straight stitch I used 4-threads on my overlocker and mostly followed the instructions…I think…

I might have attached my back band wrong…but at least my stripe matching is perfect ;)

A fabric with high slink (slink should totally be a for real fabric descriptor, don’t you think?) is important for this pattern, so that the back cowl sits nice and cowly.

Cowly should also be a real word.

It’s not my usual style and has taken a bit of getting used to but it is very comfy and easy to throw on.

In terms of sewing, apart from adjusting the back band, there isn’t any fitting required so it’s great if you need a little Instant Gratification Sewing.

I’d love to see someone lengthen this into a dress.

We took these photos outside Made Marion after the WSBN Second Birthday.

We celebrated where it all began, with high tea at Martha’s Pantry.

Me, Teresa, Alison, Wendy, Gillian, Gemma, Zara, Sandra

Nina, Nikki, Jenna, Kat & Amos

The photo is on an angle because of dubious tripod balancing, but we’re all in there so that’s ok ;)

After we nommed all the sweet things we headed back to MM for photos and social sewing…which mostly involved lots of chatter, pattern/fabric swaps and buying buttons…. I managed to cut out a Gillian dress in a gorgeous textured Merino which is now sitting in my to-sew pile along with many other things…in the last two months this has grown alarmingly large but Christmas holidays will fix that! ;)

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Gray All Day Sandpoint top, size M, view b

Fabric – Unidentifiable pink jersey with metallic stripe from Arthur Toye Fabrics, $6.00/m

Next time I would lengthen it just a little, by 2 – 4 cms

 

We’re all different…especially him. But there’s something kind of fantastic about that, isn’t there?*

My second dress for The Monthly Stitch Frocktober was a Deer & Doe Reglisse.

This is my 4th Deer and Doe pattern and I feel qualified now to admit that I’m not a huge fan of their instructions, however I’m confident and experienced enough to get by. The fit on the models on the website isn’t always the best representation but if you squint past all that then the patterns themselves are cute and have interesting details.

I went a bit outside of my usual colour palette this time around. While looking at fabric on the internet I fell in love with Patty Sloniger’s Socks the Fox and after it arrived I picked up some plain grey cotton for contrast to try and tone down the cuteness. It still ended up way too cute overload for everyday wear but I do feel super girly in it and who doesn’t like to feel super girly occasionally?

The website I purchased this fabric from classed it as a quilting cotton, but it is very light weight with a soft hand. Perfect then for a floaty dress, however I struggled to get the skirt pattern pieces on the narrow width, especially after adding 5cms in length.

I had the same issue with my first La Sylphide but this time I decided to try piecing a small triangle onto each outer corner instead of altering the angle of the side seams.

It worked really well. The cotton was easy to keep still when stitching and while this photograph makes the the joins look quite prominent you can hardly see them when the dress is being worn, lost in the pattern and fullness of the skirt.

The instructions for this dress are quite good except for the collar where they suddenly become very sparse.

I knew there was a sew along on the Deer & Doe blog but I tried to get through as much as I could without it but truly I was stumped. A lot happens with very little detailed text and not enough diagrams. There is no picture of the bias being sewn onto the collar so I had no idea how much I was supposed to unfold my bias tape.

So I jumped online and found the Reglisse sew along. It’s all in French (you could translate it through Chrome) but really the photos are all you need. As soon as I saw them everything clicked into place.

It’s a bit tricky to find the posts but you can read the collar section here.

The dress is finished neatly inside, even the elasticated waistband but I am not entirely convinced on the finish at the center front, it feels a bit rough.

It would also be nice to encase the seam on the short sleeve version with bias or perhaps attach one side and then turn them over with the raw edge folded under and stitch in the ditch to sandwich them over the arm hole.

Being a pull over style dress with elastic waist, the fit is very different to what I usually sew but it makes for a comfy wear. This is the fullest skirt I have ever sewn and despite the cuteness overoad I really quite like it.

If you’d like to see more construction photos you can look at my “Sew with Us” posts on The Monthly Stitch.

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Deer & Doe Reglisse, size 42, lengthened 5cm

Fabric – Socks the Fox in Aqua from Patty Sloniger’s Les Amis range

Other notions  Elastic, me-made bias.

*Fantastic Mr Fox

Frocktober Lonsdale

In October we celebrated Frocktober over on The Monthly Stitch. I made two dresses and here is the first, a Sewaholic Lonsdale.

I was super excited about summer this year (I’m super excited for summer EVERY year) so I decided that my Lonsdale would be very summery and required birds so I pulled this gorgeous Joel Dewberry Sparrows print from my stash. I bought it a while ago with no particular pattern in mind and I could see it as the most fabulous Lonsdale…except that according to the envelope back I did not have enough.

Challenge accepted!

The cutting layout was useless to me anyway, being drawn up for fabric with no direction I put it aside and set to work. A few test layouts later (with furry help) I discovered I could fit my Lonsdale on by cutting the internal lining upside down and piecing the straps.

Another option if you want a Lonsdale from a shorter length of fabric is to cut the bodice lining from a contrast fabric. If you wanted your straps to be the same as the self fabric then just piece them on.

So, for the record, you can get a size 12 Lonsdale variation a out of 3.2 meters (3 1/2 yards) of 112cm wide fabric.

Yeah!

I’ve wanted to make the Lonsdale for a while and now I definitely need another one. It sews up really quickly and easily and I didn’t find any pattern errors or difficult to follow instructions.

It is quite long though! I’m going to mark my preferred length on the pattern for next time so I can save on fabric.

I cut about 19cms off at the front and 16 cms off at the back.

The fit is great but I was a bit worried at first about gaping on either side of the bodice front but this went away after I tied the front tie properly. It needs to be quite snug to pull it in flat.

I needed help to get dressed the first time I put this on but after the back bow is tied I can get it off and on again just by undoing the zipper. I could stitch the knot closed next time I am in a hand-sewing mood.

I do find the knot a bit uncomfortable when sitting for long periods, it digs into my spine. I have seen variations where the straps are sewn into the bodice and I think my next version will be like that.

If you are interested in sewing up a Lonsdale Tasia has a sew along on her blog and over on The Monthly Stitch I did a little “Sew with Us” series (less technical, more fun and visual) so you can take a look some more construction photos over there.

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5

Jenna and Kat took these photos for me on the Petone foreshore.

I envisioned a gorgeous day with sea views and Wellington but we got wind instead.

It was fun…even if I did have to delete about 20 “knicker shots” ;)

Taking photos with other sewists is the best, so I’ll leave you with a little behind the scenes action:

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Sewaholic Lonsdale, variation a, size 12

Next time I need to mark the hem length on the pattern to save fabric and I would like to try just attaching the straps to the back bodice instead of the loops and bow.

Fabric – Joel Dewberry print from the Aviary 2 collection called Sparrows