Friday, 2 June 2017

A tic tac toe dress in shweshwe

Here is my second version of Sewpony's wonderful Tic Tac Toe dress (you can see the first one here). This time I opted for the long sleeves, plain bodice, piped collar and piped pockets. It's not obvious at first glance, but the fabric has patches of bright blue in it, and I thought piping the collar in blue would bring that out nicely.

As I didn't make the pieced bodice this time, the dress should have been quite quick and easy to sew, but I made a monumental stuff-up: I cut the front neckline too high due to a late-night pattern-tracing error. Tragically, I didn't notice this until I tried the finished-except-for-hems dress on R and realised something was wrong. There was nothing for it but to unpick the sleeves, lining and collar so I could trim down the neckline and reassemble the bodice and sleeves. I can't begin to express how frustrating this was... and how disappointing, just when I thought I'd finished the dress! But it was all worth it, because with the correct neckline the dress looked so much better. So let my mistake be a lesson to anyone tracing off patterns in dim light, while watching a subtitled television series and being harassed relentlessly by a tissue-paper-loving cat: multitasking does not go with pattern tracing, and neither do cats.

The fabric is shweshwe, a traditional South African cotton fabric. A couple of years ago I asked my dad to bring me some Three Cats brand shweshwe from Cape Town and instead of the usual shades of indigo and brown, I received this green one. I must confess that initially I wasn't that excited about it, but the colour and pattern have really grown on me and I'll be looking out for more greens next time I put in an order.  This particular shade has a lovely autumnal quality and goes beautifully with the fallen leaves in our garden.

The lovely deep pockets are one of the best features of this dress, and I love the centre gathers on the skirt. R and I are both really happy with this one.

To finish up, here are a couple of photos featuring a feline guest star - and it's NOT the one who mucked up my pattern tracing!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

A drop-waist Laure and a cosy cardi

I was so thrilled with my first Laure dress that I could hardly wait to make another - but real life intervened and when things got tough I didn't feel like sewing. Now that things have taken a turn for the better, I'm back at the sewing machine and loving it!

So this is the drop-waist version of the Laure, made in Three Cats shweshwe, a traditional South African cotton fabric. There's not much to say about this dress except that it's a great pattern with a great fit and I love it just as much as the qipao. R showed me a special spot in a local park that's full of lovely trees and we had a nice little wander, with her pointing out items of interest and me clicking away. 

The red cardigan is from this Japanese pattern book and was a nice easy sew. I used the same beautiful wool jersey I used for R's Arrietty dress and some scraps of red shweshwe for the facing. I think it goes perfectly with the Laure dress and it's also nice and cosy for autumn and winter.

I have a couple of other sewing projects on the go and I'm so looking forward to getting stuck into them. Pity it's Monday tomorrow...

Sunday, 19 March 2017

An overalls-dress and fancy-sleeve t-shirt

Life's been challenging lately - sick relatives, financial troubles and toothache. Desperate for some sewing therapy, I did something a little out of character: I made something for R just because I wanted to. After much flicking through my Japanese pattern books I settled on an overalls-dress from this book (I have no idea if there's a 'proper' name for this style) and a t-shirt with decorative sleeve details from this magazine. I really can't pretend R needs another dress or another t-shirt, but since they served a therapeutic purpose I'm telling myself it's OK! What's more, both were made from stash fabric - even the buttons were from my little collection.

The dress is made from a lightweight black denim and was a pretty straightforward sew. I ran into a bit of trouble attaching the straps to the back waistband, but serendipitously my sewing friend Jing had just made the pants version of the same pattern and was able to set me straight.

The t-shirt is made from some interlock-ish jersey (previously used to make this top). It's a really nice, loose style with a pretty sleeve detail. I will use this pattern again I'm sure.

How annoying is that loose bit of hair??! R loves the dress and was pleased to find not only inseam pockets, but a pocket on the top section as well. It took me days to get her to model this outfit, but once she got it on it was clear that she really loved it. Turns out this dress is quite twirly, too!

Monday, 27 February 2017

An ikatee top and two pairs of shorts

A while back I downloaded a lovely pattern from the French pattern company Ikatee. They offer a free pattern when you join their mailing list, and I chose the Ibiza top, a voluminous swing top with shoestring straps. It's a sweet pattern and very easy to sew. Having made a new top it seemed right to add some bottoms, so I made two pairs: the 'Shorts with Back Pockets' from Happy Homemade, and the fabulous (and free!) City Gym Shorts from Purl Soho. 

I made the Ibiza in a cotton-linen from Spotlight, with a bit of gold piping. It's a lovely, floaty top that's perfect for hot Melbourne days. The City Gym shorts are a Cloud 9 cotton with linen bias binding. This is a fun pattern to make - super easy, and the binding gives a really nice finish. I made size 6-7 for R but they're on the tight side so I suppose I'll be making another size before too long... 

The Happy Homemade shorts are made from some leftover denim. I added decorative machine-stitching to the back pockets in the same hot pink as the top. Although she is still a huge fan of dresses, R is loving wearing shorts for cricket and bike-riding at the moment!

Do you have a go-to shorts pattern? R probably has enough to last her through summer and autumn, but I'm sure she'll be wanting more next year...

Saturday, 4 February 2017

A Laure qipao dress

Three years ago I made a qipao (also known as a cheongsam) for R in a brocade fabric. She loved the style and the shiny material, but it was poor quality and didn't wear too well. The front opening was also difficult for R to do up herself, and I remember thinking that next time I made a qipao I would try to redesign it with a back closure. When I saw that An of Straight Grain had released a qipao pattern with a back zipper I was super excited and bought it right away!

This dress was such a pleasure to sew. There are several different options for sleeves, neckline and even dress shape, but I went for the traditional qipao style and opted for the short sleeves. R is never a straight size, so based on her measurements I made size 5 width with size 8 length, and it proved to be spot-on for size (I sewed up the bodice lining to use as a muslin before cutting into my main dress fabric, and I really recommend doing this to check if the fit is right).

In her blog post announcing the release of the Laure dress, An included a clip from the film In the Mood for Love, in which a woman in a qipao carries an enamel thermos. It just so happens that I have a small collection of Chinese enamel thermoses, so I decided to give a few of them a starring role in my photo shoot - it's not often that they get to actually be useful!

The fabric is from Birch Fabrics' organic 'Acorn Trail' range and I've been hoarding it for a couple of years, waiting for a special project. I adore the colours and the vintage-style rose design, and the cotton is so smooth and soft. For the piping and lining I used a coral-coloured cotton from Spotlight and I have to say, it was not easy finding this matching shade! R's scrunchie is made from a pattern from Kids Clothes Style Book.

I'm so, so happy with this beautiful dress. The simplified qipao design works really well and the shape of the dress retains the traditional fitted shape of the bodice without being too constricting in the lower part. R wore her qipao to a local lunar new year festival today and had no trouble climbing in the playground and doing some hula-hooping - check out this amazing performer!

Next I'm looking forward to trying out the drop-waisted Laure dress with the pussy bow. In the meantime I predict that R's new qipao is going to get a lot of love from her!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

More swimwear - a rash top and pants

I love R's new Cosi swimsuit, but Melbourne's extreme UV levels sometimes require a more sun-smart option. R's previous rash top and pants having been well and truly outgrown, I made a new one using the same patterns as last time: an Ottobre raglan-sleeved top and the Cosi swimsuit's pants.

The floral fabric comes from Joelle's fabric warehouse and is apparently a Sea Folly remnant. It's  lovely quality and has quite a slinky feeling. I teamed it with some plain blue swim fabric for the fully lined bottoms, taking a couple of inches off the top of the high-waisted pants. The rash top is exactly as per the pattern with the exception of the neckband, which I widened for better neck coverage.

These bathers were really put through their paces on their first wear. Besides swimming, R spent lots of time rolling around in the (very hot) sand, digging pools and building castles. We had a few moments of excitement when my friend spotted a shark's fin above the water, prompting me to run along the beach screaming at people to get out of the water. I had just managed to clear the beach of swimmers when we realised that our 'shark' was in fact a dolphin. Rather embarrassing - but at least our kids ended up with a good story to tell!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Another nightie in Japanese lawn

R has been wearing the same much-loved summer nightie for the past three years, during which time it's gone from very long to way too short, and has become rather difficult to get into. When the fabric - thin from so much wear - started to tear in a couple of places, I knew I had to move quickly on a new version. And since the old pattern had proved so perfect, and the fabric was so light and soft, there seemed no need to reinvent the wheel; the same Japanese pattern and the same kind of fabric would do perfectly.

The pattern is from Girly Style Wardrobe, and is intended as a slip to be worn under another dress, but its loose-fitting style with no closures makes it perfect for nightwear. The fabric is from Spotlight's Japanese lawn range and the trim is cotton lace (and plenty of it!).

R is thrilled with her long nightie and is now requesting a long dress - which won't be happening until she drops her demand for an off-the-shoulder style. I'm just happy she's no longer squeezing herself into a tiny torn nightie!