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 –

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

Oh pants!

February’s challenge for The Monthly Stitch was Smarty Pants.

Pants shopping for me is pure torture.

Here is an old post where I vent after one particularly distressing pants shopping expedition, if you are interested.

In my filing cabinet I have a few pant/trouser patterns but I love a good bootleg/flared pant  – I don’t care what the “fashion” people say, bootleg/flare is always “in” in my books! Since Kat and I both have the Sewaholic Thurlow pattern we decided to make those up together for another Twinsies shoot.

Oh, yeah! We made Twinsies Pants!

We’ve both been super busy so we took these photos during lunchtime at Frank Kitts Park where we found one of Wellington’s many awesome sculptures. This one is Fruits of the Garden by Paul Dibble.

Pants are kind of hard to photograph…but it’s easier with a friend…and fun backdrop 🙂

Fun waistband lining? Check!

Back pockets? Check!

This was my first Sewaholic pattern from the envelope. Previously I have printed off PDFs for pattern testing only so I was really surprised at how thin the tissue paper was, probably the thinnest I have ever encountered. I am on Team: Trace All The patterns and it wasn’t the easiest to work with.

Since I had high hopes for this pattern I copied on to thicker tracing film for durability – I am hoping I can tweak this to become my “go to” solution to my pants shopping woes.

I selected some poly/viscose/spandex suiting out of my stash, bought with trousers in mind way back in March 2010. The pattern envelope stated 2.30m would be required for my width of fabric but I only had 1.60m, oops!

I am always up for a good pattern layout challenge so with Harriet’s help I did a test layout:

Harri’s face says it all, “2.30 meters? ‘sif! It totally fits!”

She loves hindering helping!

I cut all my the lining pieces from a cute quilting cotton that I picked up from one of my last trips to AT, it has teeny tiny fruits on it!

I really like the final result, they fit quite well (although a little tight at the moment since I’ve been slack in my gym attendance 😉 ) and give me the professional look I was after. I can see myself making up a few more pairs and maybe even the shorts version.

The back waist band is in two pieces which lets you stitch a snugger fit, no gaping, yeah! I also like the generous back extension and the sewing order makes it easy to adjust the whole fit as you sew.

I do feel the rise is a little low so next pair I will try to correct this.

The instructions are good, I haven’t made pants in ages and I managed fine with them however I do wish the right and wrong sides of the lining pieces had been marked on the diagrams. This slowed me down a little because I wanted to make sure the printed side of my cotton ended up inside the pockets.

Imagine if I’d gotten it wrong? I wouldn’t be able to show others the awesome hiddeness of my pockets! But I worked it out eventually and marked my instructions for next time.

Welt pockets, so sexy!

The back welt pockets instructions and fly construction were really clear but I found some of the waistband diagrams a bit misleading, more notes added for next time 🙂

I chose not to “stitch in the ditch” to secure the inside of my waistband and hand stitched it down instead. I find that machine stitching can often look messy in this instance. It didn’t take me very long and between this and the hemming my hand stitching is really improving.

Make sure you check out Kat’s awesome denim Cat’s Meow Thurlows over on her blog too 🙂

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Sewaholic 1203 Thurlow trousers, straight size 8

Fabric –

  • 1.60m of 148cm wide Poly/viscose/spandex suiting from Fabulous Fabrics, Perth, purchased March 2010 for AUD$22.95
  • Quilting cotton from Arthur Toye, Wellington

Other notions – 1 button (from stash), metal pants slider thingee

Big thank you to Sandra for playing photographer, you rock 🙂

FO: Wellington Spec’d Sewaholic Robson Coat

I love it when the independent pattern companies release a new pattern! I also love sneak peaks and I was lucky to get one at the latest from Sewaholic, the Robson Coat, before most of you 😉

The Robson Coat pattern features everything you’d hope for on a trench coat, including front and back storm flaps, epaulettes, top-stitching, tie belt and sleeve tabs. It’s unlined to make it easier to sew, as well as easier to press the finished coat.

I was selected for pattern testing by Tasia and I was SUPER excited about this coat. As soon as I saw the line drawing I knew it was the perfect opportunity for redemption from the Gok Coat of Doom and rushed out to find the perfect fabric.

And I found it! But I have to say, I don’t think I have ever squeezed a pattern out of quite so little fabric!

Standing in The Fabric Warehouse with a 150cm wide bolt of wool under my arm and converting Tasia’s rough yardage (this is pattern testing) gave me 3.4 meters…I hrmmed, that’s a lot of fabric!

I wondered aloud to my confidant, the sales assistant, at the cutting counter. I said, “maybe I’ll just get 3.2m…it is based on the larger sizes and I am cutting a 12…”, Miss Confidant said, “If it was me, I’d just get 3 meters…” we discussed it further and I went with 3 meters. This fabric wasn’t cheap ($32/m) but I knew this coat was going to be luxe so I wasn’t too bothered, confidant in Tasia’s pattern drafting, in my head this coat was going to FABULOUS!

As you can see from the description the coat is unlined which makes it more beginner friendly.

I do just want to say: don’t be scared of linings! In their most simple form all you’re really doing is sewing a duplicate and sticking them together. Linings can be super fun, a secret (or not so secret) hidden touch to your garment. However, I can see exactly what Tasia was thinking as she drafted this pattern. Not only can linings scare newbies off of a pattern, they can also almost double your sewing time and a coat with this many pieces is already going to be a longer project than most.

So, for the Robson coat, you neaten your internal seams by binding them with bias tape which still gives you an excellent opportunity to embellish the internals. I can see a patterned outer with solid coloured bias bound seams or the opposite, and we haven’t even talked about contrast top stitching yet! The fabric (and thread) world is your oyster so don’t be afraid to experiment!

Me? Well I decided to take it a step further. I bought a solid coloured cotton in bright blue for my bias binding and then I grabbed that ridiculous ikat-esqe printed cotton.

Ridiculous in a good way.

You see, in Wellington, it gets cold. We don’t get snow (well, not usually!) but the wind, wow! It will freeze your bones from the inside out! The wool I bought is warm, but I already have a few warm jackets and cardis, I wanted warmer but I had absolutely no intention of drafting a lining pattern so I thought underlining would be a brilliant cheat.

I am a sucker for punishment, I can’t remember how many meters of bias I made but after I got to the sleeves I discovered it wasn’t enough and I had to make even more! (EDIT: I just checked and I made about 12.5 meters of bias, wow!) But, I am glad I made my own, I have never seen pre-made bias in the perfect colour at the shops! So has this project cured me of my bias addiction? Not likely! 😉

DSC00468

So much bias!

So, back to the shell fabric story: When I got home I cursed the stingy 20cm I’d left behind at the shop, because that was by how much my last pattern piece was over hanging the edge after a quick pin-and-check.

It was my own fault, I gave the final call for the scissors. Luckily I always pin every piece and check before I start cutting, that way if I am short on fabric I get a second chance to re-work the cutting layout. In this case, working with 3 meters of fabric, I had to pin a few pieces to my wool and then roll it up and pin some more…so I started unrolling and thinking…

…if  I move the sleeves around…if took off all the little pieces…if I could just get all the long pieces on, maybe I can get away with just buying that extra 20cm for the small bits…

DSC00381

My saviour in the end was a combination of re-working the cutting layout and elimination. I decided to cut the underside of the back and shoulder flaps out of my underlining (I bought extra, because any leftover of that ridiculousness is becoming a skirt someday), it would be a cute little secret pop of colour that might give a sneaky show as I move or they get caught in the breeze wind and also help counter the extra fabric thickness.

Hey it was my jacket, I was just hoping Tasia would appreciate my creativity! 😀

DSC00462

All-in-all I cut the following pieces out of my underlining fabric:

  • 2 – Back  x2
  • 3 – Side x2
  • 4 – Top Sleeve x2
  • 5 – Under Sleeve x2
  • 6 – Back Flap x1
  • 7 – Front Flap x2

Then I basically stitched up the pattern as per the instructions, treating my shell fabric piece and it’s matching underling piece as if they were joined wrong sides together as a single piece. You should really baste them to each other but…well…I might not have done that 😉

DSC00465

Time constraints meant I do not have any more progress shots and since it was summer, the trying ons were quick and clammy! In fact I only survived because I have this bad habit of sewing in my underwear…don’t lie, you do it too! So I knew straight away this coat was going to be a winner against the winter winds!

Ok, enough words? Agreed! Here it is:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I decided to make a proper belt for my coat, something about the tie belt coupled with the thicker fabric of my coat made me feel like I was in a bathrobe.

You can make your own belt too, just cut one angled end off of the belt piece, then you just need a buckle and some eyelets. It’s fun because you get to use a hammer.

I also used 1 inch buttons for the front of my coat, and 3/4 inch everywhere else – I just preferred the proportion of the bigger button on the front.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I will say (and Tasia has said) that this pattern really should be made from a much lighter weight fabric than what I chose to work with. My wool was probably already pushing the boundaries and adding the underling, well, let’s just say it didn’t make it any easier! There were times when I questioned if I’d get it finished and wondered what the heck was I thinking but I got there in the end and I am super happy with the result.

Click an image to view the rest of the gallery:

Thinking about making this coat in a thicker fabric too? I have some I-am-not-an-expert tips.

The Curious Kiwi’s tips for sewing in the thick:

  • Make a test swatch – I did a test seam with two pieces of shell fabric underlined, then I sewed my bias tape to the seam, folded it over and top stitched it, just like the real coat. I also tested my interfacing and before I started my button holes. Use scraps of your fabric and double it up to simulate how thick the real seam will be to see how it goes. This is your chance to fiddle with the tensions to find the perfect stitch.
DSC00989

L to R: Top-stitching a full seam, interfacing test and a button hole

DSC00990

L to R: Full seam test (inside), and cut button hole

  • Let the machine eat the fabric at its own pace. Sometimes you do need to gently help it but you also need to remember to let the feed dogs do their own thing.
  • Most of us know that loosening the tension also helps your machine sew through multiple thick layers, but so does lengthening your stitch.
  • Use a brand new needle, nice and sharp!
  • Use your appliqué foot, it is clear so you can see through it and the split is off-centre, that stops the edge of your bias from folding up into it as you sew.

Appliqué foot on the left, regular foot on the right

Thank you Tasia for another amazing addition to your pattern range and for the opportunity to test it for you.

I wish I could do this for a living!

The deets:

Pattern – Sewaholic Patterns Robson Coat 1301 (testing phase), size 12

Fabric – Shell: 70% wool, 30% Viscose. Underlining: 96% Cotton, 4% Lycra/Spdx – The Fabric Warehouse, Wellington. 100% cotton poplin for the bias – Spotlight Ngauranga

Other notions – Belt buckle & eyelets from Made Marion, Wellington. Buttons (1″ & 3/4″ plastic 4-hole) from Pete’s Emporium, Porirua. 2 x 150M spools Mettler thread, col. 0580 from The Fabric Warehouse, Wellington

Photos – Nerdy Husband at Wilton Bush, Wellington

Something a bit Nerdy:

Has this ever happened to you? Almost at the end of the project and: eep! Thread spool starting to show through.

20130327_203827

This was my view as I was about to start top stitching the belt – my last bit of sewing – oh and one button that I had to cut off and re-attach – kind of sewed that puppy right through the pocket lining, oops! 😉 Anyway, when I see the thread running out for some reason it makes me sew faster, as if I can out-sew the quickly disappearing thread. Do you do that too?

This is all I had left by the time I was 100% finished 😉

The Nitty Gritty:

I read lots of blogs and I love hearing stories about how an item was made from thrift store fabric for $2…or the fabric was a gift so the total make cost was $0. I don’t have stories like that but even I’ve managed to make a silk blouse for $10 and another for $20, I mean: SILK!

Sometimes sewing is a cheaper option, sometimes it is not.

That said, I don’t sew to save money. Sewing is my creative outlet, it’s fun, it mentally balances my life and it’s also a great way to make new friends who don’t roll their eyes as you veer off towards the fabric sale sign when walking down Willis Street.

So you are probably guessing that I am about to tell you: this coat wasn’t a “cheap” make.

Total for fabric, buttons and thread? About NZD$160.00

But it’s all about how you look at it – check this out:

david lawrence coat

I spotted the coat on the left in the window at David Lawrence on Lambton Quay last Wednesday, mostly due to the colour, but they also have the coat on the right, which is pretty much the same style as mine. Both are made from 90% wool/5% cashmere/5% nylon and lined in 55% polyester/45% viscose.

Want to guess how much either of the DL coats above will set you back? NZD$560 each- yep, that’s FIVE HUNDRED AND SIXTY DOLLARS!

My coat’s looking pretty darn cheap now huh?

Oh but I should say that the DL coats are on special right now, NZD$450. I still don’t think the term “bargain” is applicable, but I guess that’s , umm, less?

And The Curious Kiwi still wins 😀

Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt

I haven’t been very well this last week. Nerdy Husband kindly shared some sort of cold/flu malady with me that knocked me out for a few days. I have made a bit of progress with the RNHS Rugby Jersey and it’s looking good. I’ll share that and a bit of Christmas Sewing with you soon.

But first!

Some Secret Sewing that I have been dying to share with you all!

I was really excited to be selected by Tasia to test her next Sewholic pattern, the Hollyburn Skirt, but I was also really nervous because I wanted to do a good job! No pressure or anything!

The Hollyburn skirt is designed for the beginner/novice and is a comfy a-line skirt in three lengths (and flare variation), with waistband options and pockets, it also receives a gold star for twirl-ability.

After I saw the line art I was a bit worried because I have never owned, let alone sewed, a skirt of this style before so I had no idea if I would like it or find it flattering for my body shape. I am a “pear” so I put my trust in Tasia’s hands and started sifting through my stash.

Actually that came after printing off the pattern – pattern testers received the pattern as a print-at-home style pdf that many of you will be familiar with from BurdaStyle…but I cheated and assembled my pattern pieces in Photoshop and printed them out on a large format printer that may or may not be conveniently located at my place of work 😉

I selected ‘view B’ and the button tabs option for the waist band.

Right, back to the fabric: I knew I would find a fabric in my stash because I find it easy to spot fabrics that I think would be great for skirt and stashing it. This made it a hard decision because I own a lot of great prints with good weight/drape for this style skirt.

Lightweight Cotton (Potters), Vintage Lace (new to the stash, Fabrics Direct) Cotton Sateen (Spotlight), Japanese Cotton (Tesutti), Japanese Cotton/Linen (Tessuti), Heavy Japanese Cotton (Tessuti)

I loved all the possible skirt images I made up to help me choose…so that wasn’t very helpful in the end 😉

Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt Fabric Options

Photoshop instructions here, Gimp instructions here.

So I went for the fabric with the best drape which was a Japanese cotton/linen that I bought from Tesutti in Melbourne in August 2010 – It has matured well in the stash.

My next decision was to cut the skirt front on-the-fold to eliminate the centre front seam and avert any potentially regrettable pattern twinning…large circular flowers have a bad habit of joining at the seam in the most embarrassing of ways!

In general I am not a huge fan of centre front seams on skirts and dresses but I can understand the reasoning that they save you lots of fabric but in this case removing that seam was critical. I have learnt that when it comes to pairing fabric selection with sewing pattern the scale of your fabrics print and the number/placement of seams in your pattern is really important.

It is not a difficult thing to do at all, just fold over (or cut off) the edge that is marked “centre front seam” the width of the seam allowance, in this case, 1.5cm then place that edge on the fold. For future reference I suggest you re-label that piece so you don’t forget when you next pull out this pattern!

My fabric was only 110cm wide and I had 2.0 meters of it – cutting the front on the fold meant I had just enough for the rest of the skirt!

I didn’t take any WIP photos because I wanted to just get this skirt sewn up and my photos back to Tasia asap, it’s not like I could share them with you anyway 😉

I did stumble a little during the construction – doubt set in when I first tried it on, un-hemmed, about how flattering this style of skirt was for me. This then dominoed into my doubting my birthday dress selection because that is also a flared skirt.

I pushed on though, inserted the zipper (I went for an invisible one), and started playing with the hem length and in the end I hemmed my skirt shorter than ‘view B’ but not as short as ‘view C’, if that makes any sense! 🙂

The key with this skirt, I think, is to find the hem length that flatters you the most and the basic overall shape makes this an easy customisation to play with.

Ok, you guys want to see some pics?

I wore my skirt just like this to work the next day and received two unsolicited complements so I took that as a good sign.

These are the photos I sent to Tasia. I wish I wasn’t feeling so crappy otherwise I would have taken some new photos outside in the garden…but also our grass looks terrible while we painstakingly kill off of all the clover and broad-leaf weeds that have been left to takeover the lawn for far too long… yucky dead brown circles everywhere = not so photogenic!

There was some twinning at the CB seam but is not that bad at all.

I went with a simple black button on the tabs because I think the fabric does enough work for this skirt.

I think this pattern would look great in most fabrics and amazing in a solid colour too, see Tasia’s photos on the pattern shop page here.  You could also choose a contrast for the pockets and/or waist band and even widen the waist band and add some boning for a more dramatic waistline.

This pattern is great for the new seamstress as the instructions are extra thorough with lots of clear diagrams.

Ok, last photo, promise:

footer_machine zigzag love