Time Machine Sewing, episode 4: Summer Robes

It’s baaaaack!

Because if I don’t blog it, then it never happened.

I made Nerdy Husband a summer robe for his birthday at the start of the year and because unselfish sewing must be balanced I also made myself one.

Then we wore them all summer long…and last summer, it was loooong…don’t worry, I washed them occasionally. But basically unless we were at work or sleeping, or they were in the wash, we were in our new summer robes. So I just never got around to photographing them.

When winter finally showed up we swapped back to our winter robes, fluffy warm rtw robes that are next on the sewing hit-list…it’s long list, don’t hold your breath…and so I gave our summer robes a final wash, pressed them, hung them in my sewing room to be finally photographed and blogged about and then promptly forgot.

Winter is on its way out again, Spring is here (well, it will fade in and out for a few more weeks yet) so I thought I’d better get these on the blog before we start to live in them again!

So, NH requested his robe and we went to Spotlight where he picked out some dinosaur cotton that was on special and I also grabbed McCall’s 6231 – the first envelope pattern I’ve purchased from Spotlight in a looooong time.

I cut out view B minus the shorts and because the robe is unlined I decided to flat fell the shoulder seams and then I used Hug Snug seam binding on all other seams and hems.

I also used Hug Snug to finish the inside edge of the collar.

And that’s about it – here are some finished photos, courtesy of Scarlett:

It has pockets, remember this for later…

The sleeve pattern piece looked really short and I couldn’t find any finished measurements either in the instructions or on the pattern tissue. From the line art the sleeve looks like it sits right at the edge of the shoulder so I was convinced there was an error in the pattern.

So to be safe I added some ridiculous amount of length (I can’t remember how much) and as you can see in the photo below the excessive shoulder width means that the sleeve ends up halfway down the upper arm. I checked my pattern and I’ve removed the yellow paper and stuck the pattern piece back together as per normal so I’m guessing I must have chopped all that extra length off during the first fitting!

Anyway, I’m pretty proud of it and Nerdy Husband loves his robe so here are some close ups:

The only pattern modification: a handy hanging loop at the back of the neck 🙂

My robe is the Named Asaka Kimono and I shopped my stash for fabric. I bought some Michael Miller “Children at Play” cotton in July last year and instantly regretted it. I mean, I love it, but it’s far too light for me to wear everyday, I’m such a grub!

However it is perfect for this and Harri agreed. She has such good taste.

I only had 3 yards and the pattern called for 3.9 but I love a good challenge…and yeah it didn’t fit! That’s ok, I managed to piece the collar front on the outside and for the inside collar I use a contrasting colour, left overs from my Tangram Bleuet which made me very happy.

I might have managed it if my fabric didn’t have such an obvious print direction and what annoys me is that the cutting layout shows the two piece sleeve cut upside down and yet in the website sample photo they clearly have been cut right way up with the pattern…

Anyway, I really shouldn’t complain, I managed to get my robe out of 25% less fabric than recommended 😉

I didn’t lengthen the pattern at all despite reading a few comments online about it being super short. It looks pretty short on the Named model but a quick tissue fit check and then with the fabric and I thought it looked ok.

I really liked the long sleeves with the split so I made them up as per the pattern to begin with and then I realised they were going to be a pain. I run around in my robe after I get home from work so I’d probably catch myself on fire while making dinner or something equally unbelievable but highly likely. As well as being a grub I am also a klutz! I tried sewing the split shut but the end of the sleeve is huge…so finally I lopped them off just below my elbow and sewed the split shut up to the crook of my elbow. Now I have the best of both worlds: shorter sleeves that I won’t set on fire and sexy arm split 😉

Scarlett’s turn!:

More flat felled shoulder seams and Hug Snug on the other seams and hems. I own many colours of Hug Snug 🙂

I also got hanging loop at the back of the neck and remember those pockets? I used the McCall’s pattern piece and added them to my robe too. They hold a surprising number of clothes pegs.

Pockets on everything.

What’s that Nikki? Oh you want to see me wearing it?

Oh alright then! 😉

Dirty cell phone pics but at least my toenails match…


Patterns –

Fabric –

Other notions – Hug Snug seam binding

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Gosh, that takes me back… or forward. That’s the trouble with time travel, you can never remember*

It’s time to get back into the Elna TARDIS and come back in time with me, not too far, not as far as the last time I showed you my Oldest Un-photographed Finished Object!

Hold on tight, we’ve got two quick stops to make, November 2011 and February 2012, the last two times these items made an appearance on this blog.

Woah, look what we’ve found! It’s my Simplicity 2556 Vest and a 3rd BurdaStyle JJ blouse!

They’ve been finished for quite a while, worn A LOT, but never photographed, oops! 😉

The vest is an amazing OOP pattern from the Simplicity Project Runway range – I am really confused as to why it’s OOP so soon, it feels like I bought it so recently.

Well anyway, I own about 4 Simplicity PR patterns, this being the only one I’ve actually made up, but I love the concept of them.

Basically the options are broken down into individual elements that you can mix and match to create a more unique item, it feels much more value-for-money, plus you can make it over and over again with different results each time.

They also include a (ridiculously leggy) croquis and each element for you to trace so you can draw up the entire outfit before you start, sort of like making your own paper doll, super fun!

Click through for a video tutorial on how to use the croquis kit

With this vest I went with view C and chose not to add the collar or (I think they are fake) pockets. I also love view B, with the bow, cute!

The vest isn’t the best example since there are only 2 or so options for each view, a better example is this dress (which is apparently also OOP – what the?) It has 2 bodice options, 2 skirt options, 2 collar options, 3 sleeve options plus a sash and Simplicity show you only 8 or the many variations you can create!

The other great thing is that each bodice comes in A through D cup sizes.

So I made a bit of a boo boo when I bought my vest pattern, I bought the size bracket that only went up to a 12 but according to Simplicity (and the finished measurements) I am a 16 so I resized my pattern using this method from an old Burda magazine. The notes says that you should not alter the pattern by more that 2 sizes otherwise the fit will be compromised. I wasn’t sure if they meant 2 sizes as in 1 up/1 down, or 2 sizes in each direction but I just went ahead and graded my 12C bodice up to a 16 anyway 😉

Pfftt! Size 16, whateves Simplicity!

It worked, that’s all that matters! 😀

I can’t even remember where I got this fabric from, probably Fabulous Fabrics in Balcatta (Perth) – I think I may have bought it originally for pants. The lining is left overs from my Hikaru coat  – which I have lost somewhere, how sad is that?! I am devastated, lucky I have my new Lady Grey to keep me warm next winter!

Wait, who am I kidding?! I have 5 more coats planned in my head, you can never have enough coats if you live in Wellington!

Anyway, this is one of those items that I made not being sure if I would like it or not, I often choose to sew new-to-me-style as an experiment. Yeah, that’s me, can’t even be bothered to go into a shop and try one on first (that’s how much I hate rtw clothes shopping) but sewing makes me more brave with fashion. Luckily I LOVE it, I wore it a lot during winter, vests are cool!

The JJ is my tried and true blouse pattern that I always turn too when I need a new blouse – this is my third version (check out versions one and two) – I went through a phase where every time I went fabric shopping all I could see was JJ fabric.

Also I LOVE RUFFLES! Who doesn’t?!

Seriously though, this princess seamed blouse pattern is amazing for fit and adjustability. You don’t have to put on the ruffles and I like the stand up collar, it’s a bit more modern but you could totally change that out, and the sleeves. Did I mention it’s a FREE PATTERN?

Do it!

More recently I’ve put myself on a bit of a blouse ban and am currently obsessed with dresses.

Because: grown up, want pretty dresses!

But I still love this JJ, fabric from Spotlight I think, or maybe somewhere else. It’s just a simple cotton, a tad on the thin side but pretty colours, nice to wear and perfect for under the vest, over jeans or tucked into a high-waisted pencil skirt.

Right, that’s all, I’ll drop you back in 2013 shortly, but first we’ll just pop back to 2010 for that fabric sale I missed…

If only! 😉

*The Fourth Doctor, Doctor Who, “The Androids of Tara”

“Don’t panic, we’re from the future!”

Burda Sew Along

I was hoping to get my tracing post up today but I am running a bit behind so please bear with me callers, I’ll aim for mid this week so that those of you yet to trace off will be ready to tackle your pattern/s by the weekend!

When we first started discussing the Burda Sew Along idea I claimed to have hardly sewn from any of my many Burda issues.

Perhaps the warm sun on my back had made my mind sleepy because after a little bit of Sewing Archaeology I have to admit that is not entirely true.

More correct would be to say that I haven’t sewn much from them recently. I have also sewn quite a few BurdaStyle downloaded pattern items from the website before the whole Burda-becomes-BurdaStyle takeover thing, but I am choosing not to count those for my challenge.

80% of my past Burda makes are from my pre-blog days therefore we will need to find a way to travel back in sewing time to see them, luckily I have this:

Elna Tardis

Oh yes, I made a Sewing Machine Tardis!

So jump into my Sewing Time Machine, hold down the reverse lever and let’s travel back through my first “sewing-life” to approximately 2003 for the oldest make I can find:


Skirt 118a – 10/2003

You might remember Skirt 118a from October 2003 that I posted about after returning to NZ and exploring some long forgotten random storage boxes. I love the two-sided stretch denim that I would have originally bought from Spotlight, I wish I had some in my stash right now.

Now jump back in the Elna Tardis and head back towards the light to my current “sewing-life”, now we are in Perth and here are my very first projects after getting the Elna back:

Blouse 109b – 04/2008

Tunic 103B – 03/2007

Blouse 109b from April 2008 which I don’t wear any more, although I was super proud of it at the time. I can see now that my skills were rusty, the seersucker was a poor fabric choice and it was never that flattering, but we learn.

Tunic 103b from March 2007 followed quickly after and I learnt about my long torso and the need to add in length to the bodice of my future makes. I wore this blouse quite a bit and I still have both these items, but they are no longer in the regular wardrobe rotation.

Then I took a break from sewing for myself when two close friends (from different social circles) announced they were expecting within a week of each other and I got excited about trying out some miniature sewing. I got Burda July 2008 out from the library for the super cute baby section and chose two items for each friend.

One friend knew she was having a boy and the other was keeping the gender a surprise…long story short, one of those “friends’ turned out to not be that much of a friend after all. A mocking comment about my new “hobby” aimed to draw laughs from the rest of the group towards me meant that the wonderful Nicci received all the pretty baby clothes and later her new daughter looked super sweet even in the dinosaur rompers!

Baby Rompers 136 & Hat 139C – 07/2008

Bibbed Overalls 138 – 07/2008

Bibbed Overalls 138 – 07/2008

Baby’s Playsuit 137 – 07/2008

Nicci was so overjoyed she had a little cry (blaming the hormones) and therefore I had a little cry (blaming Nicci!) and I knew I had made the right decision. If nothing else this taught me the lesson that on the rare occasions I do choose to sew for someone other than myself or Nerdy Husband, that I should be absolutely sure they are the kind of person who truly appreciates the skill and love that goes into a handmade garment.

An Alice and Wonderland themed 21st party (what the hell I was doing at a 21st so long after my own 21st I have no idea) was a great excuse to sew my own costume and a simple dress to embellish came from March 2008. Clearly this is not in the usual wardrobe rotation 😉

Next was Blouse 108 from January 2008, worn here with a Kasia skirt, a great staple that I wore to death. Blouses used to be my sewing crack, I have since weaned myself off them and developed more imagination when it comes to tops.

Dress 102b – 03/2008

Blouse 108 – 01/2008

And then I had my first Burda fail. I’ve never had any issues with Burda in terms of fit, I find their draft quite consistent and the construction well tested. However this fail was stunning in its epicness, a combination of poor fabric choice, a pattern that was never going to flatter me. It’s possible this could have been saved but I moved on quickly and so we shall do so now.

Blouse 117 – 08/2009

My first shirt dress from February 2009 was a huge success, I sill have this in my wardrobe, but not my second version of Blouse 108 in black, worn here with a Jenny skirt.

Shirt Dress 105 – 02/2009

Blouse 108 – 01/2008

There was quite a large break before I picked up another Burda pattern, you might recognise these last three, we’ve travelled back to New Zealand now and I’m sharing my sewing on my blog.

The Gok Coat of Doom doesn’t look so bad now that we’ve had some time apart, still, my trench/mac coat love is firmly with the Robson Coat now…I am considering gifting this coat to my Mum, we are the same size and she loves this shade of purple…her birthday is in July, smack bang in the middle of Winter.

Is this a good present idea, or is that a bit lame to give my Mum what I consider a fail? The fail isn’t a technical one, this coat is beautifully made (if I do say so myself) and the failure is more of the personal style type. Does that make it OK? Is it not better that someone is enjoying the Gok Coat rather than it just hanging in my sewing room?

Trench Coat 119 – 03/2009

The Elna Tardis has dropped us back off, almost in the present day, I love this t-shirt from February 2009, in a kiddies print I grabbed during a Spotlight visit. I also made it in a grey Merino (worn to death) and have 2 more Merino copies cut out, waiting to be sewn up.

Top 108 – 02/2009

Men’s polo shirt 130 – 04/2007

My most recent Burda triumph was the Nerdy Husband Rugby Jersey however if we are being properly honest, not much remained of the original Burda pattern…maybe the neck line and collar…the rest was slashed and spread and re-drafted beyond recognition…but it worked!

Burda magazines contain so many patterns, including the basics, don’t discount the basics! For someone who cannot draft from scratch they make great base patterns to try out alterations.

Hmm, yes, a lot more Burda items that I thought although they do still make up a small proportion of my overall sewing “wardrobe” and a teeny tiny percentage of my Burda magazine collection!

Fellow Sew Alongers I encourage you to share your past Burda makes with us too.

Now, get out of my Sewing Time Machine, I’m off back to a few weeks ago to catch a fabric sale I missed! 😉

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Exorcising some (very old) sewing demons

Packing away all your stuff and then returning to look at it six years later is kind of fun. It’s like a weird Christmas, so many boxes, what could be inside? Huh, what is this?! It’s strange the things I chose to keep and packed away, a lot of things I thought I valued then which mean very little to me now. In amongst it all was a bag of old sewing projects, some unfinished, and a few I hardly remember making so if you can keep in mind most of these projects are between 6 & 10 years old, I’ll share them with you.

I definitely remember making this skirt, it’s a New Look pattern #6843, such a popular basic skirt pattern you can still buy it! I think this is probably view E in a light weight denim cotton that has a pin striping and polka dots over it. I embellished it with applique hearts in a pink cotton.

I only vaguely remember making this top, I think my brain has tucked the memory of the hideous fabric print deep down in my subconscious, thank goodness! I probably decided on the idea and wanted to use a printed jersey but having little money and relying only on Spolight this is the best I could find. It feels more like a Lycra than Jersey but who cares because nothing can save this print. It’s possible the basic shape comes from OOP Simplicity 7013 and I added ties to the sleeves and side seams to give a ruched effect.

This skirt I LOVED when I made it. It’s possibly a bit too flouncy for me to wear now. It’s from a Burda magazine, back in the days when I would get them from the library and painstakingly trace the patterns I liked in my size for later use. I’m pretty sure it’s from October 2003 and it’s Skirt 118a and had a matching jacket which I didn’t make. How cool is the denim? I’ve never seen the likes of it again but it would have been from Spotlight. It has a cross-wise stretch to it and is two sided! Perfect for this skirt where you get a glimpse of the inside of the flounce as you walk and look at those pockets! I’ve taken a photo of it inside out so you can see it a bit better. I still love this fabric and wish I had some in my stash RIGHT NOW. Do you like my neatening zig-zag to the seam edges? No overlocker for me way back then but I got by.

Scarlett isn’t designed to wear pants so if these have a weird crotch thing going on it’s not my sewing, it’s Scarlett’s lack of legs, there’s an adjustable dial located in a very unfortunate position 😉

These pants were cut from my own pattern. I bought a pair of pants from Shantons when they used to be in Cuba mall and I wore them to death and like everything that you love, by the time you realise that you should have bought an extra pair, they can’t be bought any longer. So I got out my unpicker and I remember making two pairs identical to the shop bought pair in black with back invisible zipper and zippered pockets at the thighs and shins and I must have started these as well. The originals never had hip pockets or domes so I’m quite impressed with my ingenuity. I haven’t tried them on (it’s far too cold to be whipping off the clothes for sewing) but they only need the back zipper to be completed so maybe…

Now for the big guns! Are you ready because it’s pretty sparkly!

This was my 1998 Senior College Dance dress (High School for all the Americans and Australians) It looks pretty terrible on Scarlett but my memories of it on myself (I am NOT digging out photos for you guys) are quite flattering. It has elastic at the sides to keep…things…in place 😉 This is actually the second version of this dress.

The original was made earlier in the year for a competition that was also part of a project in my 7th form Graphics and Design class. For the project it had a wavey hem and an overdress of paper clips painstakingly hand pieced by me and a little hat. My dad cut out fish and other sea creature shapes that I drew on a thin aluminium sheet. The whole outfit was mean’t to be about the sea but when I reflected on it later on I realised it looked more like a protest against drift net fishing, but I guess that’s also a worthy topic.

I have no idea what pattern I used for the main dress but it underwent heavy alteration, I think it was loaned to me and I traced it. I remember being really amazed at how easy it was to change a purchased pattern and being taught about facings so I could make my cut-out in the chest. Here is what it looked like then, modeled by my friend J:

We had a class parade at school assembly and again during the Variety Show, then we had photos taken (I remember it was worn at least 4 times because every time my model took it off parts of the paperclip dress had to be repaired, my fingers hated me).

It was really fun and my first real taste of that kind of sewing experience, a bit of Project Runway before Project Runway existed.

I remember getting a good mark in class and then we submitted photos and design boards to the competition people. I was chosen for the finals and my Mum took me to Christchurch for the award ceremony but that’s as far as I got. I was pretty proud of myself though. Here are the rest of the entries from my class taken before one of our school parades:

So that’s all that was inside the bag of shame, not too shameful really.

I’ve also finally stopped messing with my room, here are a few pics. It’s pretty small so hard to get a good shot and the light was terrible so excuse the poor quality images.

Sewing machines? Check!

Fabric hoard? Check!

Sewing patterns? Check! Ohh what’s that that Scarlett’s wearing? Maybe I’ll share it with you after the weekend!

I guess now there are no excuses left to not do some sewing! 🙂