Sewaholic Protea Lonsdale

I made my first Sewaholic Lonsdale dress in late 2014 in a Joel Dewberry print. I really liked it and always intended to make another version with a couple of tweaks but, distracted by other patterns, I never got around to it.

I’m a big fan of Sewaholic patterns and I’m really sad that after Tasia sold the business on it just kind of…died. I like and own a lot of indie pattern brands and Sewaholic was in the small group of brands I hold in really high regard. Her fit and instructions were always on point. She used clever and interesting construction techniques and she always listened carefully to her pattern testers and the community.

At the start of this year I finally remembered to make another Lonsdale and the fabric that called out from my stash just happened to be another Joel Dewberry print!

I only had 2.7 meters (3.9m required) but I’m never scared of a good game of pattern tetris and I usually win.

Remembering that my first version was very long I chopped 10cm of the skirt pieces. Then I thought I was being very clever and efficient cutting the back bodice pieces in a single layer in between all the bigger pattern pieces…well that was the theory…

Oops!

This is efficient, if you remember to flip the pattern pieces! Luckily I had one more scrap just big enough to re cut that piece.

I always found the bow at the back of this dress really uncomfortable. It would dig into my back when I sat down or leaned against anything. I could get in and out of the dress without having to undo the bow so I actually cut the ties and stitched them to the back tabs after a few wears.

For this second version I wanted to insert them into the top of the bodice. This meant I could cut the neck ties shorter but I still had to add a join to get them out of my fabric length. These extra seams are completely hidden in the busy print.

That’s kind of about it. Excluding the ties and using an invisible zipper I made this dress exactly following the instructions for a change.

So here are lots of pictures (and eventually a cat):

My usual spot under the Kowhai tree was too shady so please enjoy the mint textured concrete of the lower section of my house. It kind of works 😉 It will be changing colour sometime later this year.

A sunbathing Harriet eventually decided to come over and “help”.

And that’s that…oh wait, I forgot:

Pockets!

Which is the perfect opportunity to suggest a fantastic podcast all about the history of clothing and in particular this episode about pockets and why we should appreciate them even if declaring your love for them is becoming a bit clichéd.

May all your clothes have perfect pockets!

THE DETAILS:

Pattern – Sewaholic Lonsdale, variation a, size 12

Skirt shortened approx 10cms, back halteneck tie omitted (ties captured in top seam at back of bodice)

Fabric – Joel Dewberry, Cali Mod, Protea in Midnight

Other notions – Interfacing, thread, invisible zipper

Previous versions of this pattern –

Back to school…Shoe School!

In September last year I went back to school…

Shoe school!

Lou recently relocated her Shoe School from Dunedin to Wellington and offers 1 and 2 day workshops for pattern making, leather sneakers, sandals and a 5 day workshop in shoemaking. She studied shoemaking in Australia and has twice been to Tokyo to intern with a Master shoemaker.

I enrolled in the 2 day sandal workshop.

The first day started in Lou’s fabulous workshop located in Newtown. While we waiting for everyone to arrive we explored.

Sewing machines…of course

Beautiful leather

Tools, thread, Franken-shoes…AND A KITTY!

We began by talking about our inspiration images and sketching our ideas.

I had been working on a Pinterest board with way too many ideas but ultimately I narrowed it down a Chie Mihara sandal. My goal for the weekend was to replace my worn out “Romies” with a more “grown up”, sophisticated, me-made version.

“Romies” in NZ refer to a specific Roman sandal style that both genders usually wear to school in summer. My pair was made in NZ by a company called HealthForm. I don’t think you can get this brand anymore and it’s sad to see that all the examples I looked up online are made overseas.

This is my second ever pair of Romies, they are at least 10 years old, they last a long time (or at least this brand does). After wearing them for school most people never wear them again. When I was at school the manufacturers realised they were getting really popular and so they went from a cheap summer shoe option (~$10) to an overpriced one (~$50).

I bought my first pair later as a grown up and loved them. They take a little while to wear in, you’ve got to persevere until the leather straps gets nice and supple and the sole molds to your foot curves.

When I wear my romies in summer they get noticed. The comments are all good, people usually reminiscent of summer school days. I guess it is is a bit odd to wear them as a grown up.

After sketching and chatting we started to look at the leathers and discussed accessories. My roamies would need a buckle so I grabbed a few of those first.

I swayed between so many leather options, it was too hard to choose. I saw a lot of sandal inspiration using a bold colour with a metallic. I came so close to using the green and gold however I kept coming back to the simple and timeless brown of my original idea.

My next pair of sandals could be more extreme, the second goal of the weekend was to come away with something I loved and could wear all the time…but I still used a little of the gold for some fun bling.

Next we drew around our feet. It was weird to see my foot like that, it looked so flat and…huge! But just like in sewing, when you write down your measurements, accuracy is more important than flattery.

We then adjusted some base patterns to suit our sandal design.

The whole process for me was very similar to sewing. From picking fabric, the right pattern, making adjustments, it’s the same methodology.

We tested out pattern in paper first and made adjustments.

(Also super proud with myself for remembering to paint my toenails)

“ghost shoe”

Next we transferred our modified patterns to cardboard, adding on seam allowances and noting strap and other critical placement points.

Pattern card matches nail polish, check ✔️

And then it was time to cut the leather. I also cut out some lining leather which was glued to my outers.

Rand was attached to our soling next. This it glued on, the stitching is just decorative.

We chose our soling and EVA foam. Layers of EVA foam will add of thickness to the sole and also create the heel.

I covered my insole with more lining leather

My ankle strap was to be hand sewn on – I used a punch to create the holes in both my strap and shoe. The buckles we’re attached using a rivet.

And then things started to come together really quickly.

After another check for fit there was a flurry of gluing and trimming.

First the straps…(outside because the glue is very smelly!)

Then the EVA foam and soling.

The glue is heat activated. After it dries on both sides we used a heat gun to get it tacky before joining the pieces. I wooden roller helped to apply pressure.

Lou did the scary skiving and trimming part – that blade is sharp!

Insoles were tacked in place and…OMG they were finished!

Here’s a comparison with my old roamies above.

The fit is really comfy and I was so happy with my colour choices in the end.

Bling, bling!

Yay!

The 2-day course was a lot of fun and with only 4 of us we got a lot of teacher time with Lou and her assistant. This is an expensive pair of sandals but there was nothing we did in the course that couldn’t really replicate at home so with a few purchases I’m looking forward to trying to make a second pair by myself.

If you’re even vaguely interested, are in Wellington, or could get here for a few days, then absolutely DO IT!

13/10! I really want to do the 5-day shoe course next.

Rifle Paper Co La Sylphide

Have you ever had that feeling that you are the only person in the entire sewing universe that doesn’t own a particular fabric?

I give you the Cotton + Steel Rifle Paper Co. Les Fleurs Rayon Challis, Birch Floral in Navy:

Last year it felt like EVERYONE had this fabric and the more I saw it the more I wanted it too.

So I caved.

I don’t blame anyone, this challis is so silky and drapey. And as far as I was concerned there was only one pattern in my stash that was perfect for it.

I’ll give you a hint:

Why stop at five La Sylphides when I could have six?

I cut this one out in April but it took me a little while to finish.

2018 was The Year of Distracted Sewing. I started many projects and kept getting drawn into more new projects, putting the most recent one aside for a few months at a time. I think an early winter shelved this dress until I finally found some focus in the second half of the year.

I’m not suggesting I’ve stopped getting distracted in 2019, oh no, I’m still all over the place with my sewing decisions but so far this year I have at least been finishing things! 😉

I found the perfect matching coral buttons at Pete’s Emporium.

The Papercut La Syphide was a great choice for this pretty flowing fabric and I really love the colour combo on me. In fact this is one of my favourite makes of all time and I love wearing it.

The Wellington wind loves it too!

It will work great with tights in winter too.

I took these photos in Spring just as our Kowhai tree was reaching peak flower.

I love this tree, even if it does make a huge mess. we’re so lucky to have such a large, mature tree in our backyard.

Here’s a close up of the bell-shaped flowers.

The Tui flock from everywhere to drink the nectar. They’re loud, boisterous birds with very unique calls. Some days I lose count just trying to gauge how many are in the tree.

By October all the flowers are gone and the whole tree looks a little dead, all bare branches and brown seed pods but it’s not long until it’s lush and green again with new leaves.

Here’s to new beginnings!

THE DETAILS:

Pattern –Papercut Patterns La Sylphide dress, straight size S

Skirt lengthened approx 16cms, side seams taken in 1.5cm at the waist

Next time I’ll try an XS

Fabric – Cotton + Steel Rifle Paper Co. Les Fleurs Rayon Challis, Birch Floral in Navy

Other notions – Interfacing, thread, buttons from Pete’s Emporium

Previous versions of this pattern –

Like a motorbike? The Pfaff 332-260

The Pfaff 332-260 came from Wainuiomata in a cardboard box and later that day it was joined in the boot by a Brother.

It was, of course, filthy.

The machine hasn’t been inside it’s own suitcase for many years, the zipper seized shut.

The jewel of an original manual that the seller was so excited to offer with the machine is water damaged and many of the pages are stuck together.

Two of the dials are seized and while others move with force they do so unhappily.

She cost me $18.50 and she needs some work.

The top cover came off easily revealing all the little fingers and internal dials that work the stitches.

And the years of grime.

Just a little TLC made an improvement but there is still work to be done.

I have a service manual with beautiful diagrams like this:

Inside the tin were some things that belonged and others that definitely did not.

Umm, a shuttle?

I love her little collapsible table that reveals the free-arm when stowed.

It has a clip on extension.

She’s from the 1960s and I’ve been looking for one ever since someone told me they were “chain-driven, like a motorcycle”.

It’s not exactly a chain but the timing and drive belts are really interesting and unlike anything I’ve seen before. They’re multi-stringed and held together with metal cleats which slot into the grooves in the sprockets, driven by a 30-watt electric motor.

I’ve read it’s very hard to find replacements.

Along with the manual there should have been a double sided stitch dial card that revealed the dial positions for a vast array of embroidery stitches.

I easily found a pdf of the card online, there are 80 stitches in total. On my to-do list sometime I will print it off and make a working copy of it.

While working on this machine I kept thinking, “this must be the heaviest VSM I own by far!” and that got stuck in my head so much so that I decided I’d have to check.

So I got out my highly accurate (not) scales and decided to fat shame all those lumps of metal and the plastic ones too. Here’s how it shook out:

Brother 190: 15kg
Singer 99K-13: 13kg
Apollo HA-1 Generic: 13kg
Pfaff 332-260: 11kg
Bernina 125: 9kg
Singer 348: 9kg
Bernina 1150MDA: 8kg
Janome 1000cpx: 8kg
Elna One: 6.5kg
Elna 2130: 6kg
Singer Featherweight: 5kg
Harriet for reference: 4kg

The Pfaff is not the heaviest, easily beaten by the Brother 190 boot buddie, a half-sized Singer and it’s clone. All the modern machines are in the middle between 6kgs and 8kgs.

And no surprises for the lightest, living up to it’s name.

And because I put something down on the floor and paid close attention to it of course the Sewing Cat wanted to play as well.

It’s no use arguing with a cat.

Meet the rest of my VSM collection here.

More photos of the Pfaff here.