Monday, 13 January 2014

Fehr Trade XYT Workout Top review - it's a winner!

My husband recently convinced me to join our local gym, and I needed some new workout gear. I've admired the XYT Workout Top since Melissa first posted about it. The sizing is skewed to the slightly larger lady, which was a deliberate choice by the designer and highly appreciated by this larger lady! If I can even get decent gear that fits (big if), it's always hideously expensive for something I'm just going to sweat in.

A lot of effort has clearly gone into the illustrations, instructions, and information about fabric quantities and so forth. While it's not aimed at total knit beginners, the instructions are good enough that a confident beginner could make a success of it.

This is the X back - I'd happily wear this on the street in a different fabric!
I even appreciated that the printed pattern was economical on paper! When you live in a small house like me, it's great to not have to clear everyone out of the lounge room to cut a pattern. The pattern is very clearly marked with all the necessary information, and it's easy to grade between sizes. For example, I cut a M everywhere except the waist, where my measurements indicated L. This worked perfectly.

Sufficiently modest at the front, even with a larger bust.
I don't have an overlocker (serger), so I used my favourite 3 step zigzag to sew the elastic edges and the hem. The side seams are a long stretch stitch, which is like a flattened zigzag.

The fabric I used is some sort of nylon stretch from Spotlight's dancewear section. Honestly, it's a bit crap. But it does the job for a wearable muslin. I only had 6mm braided elastic in my stash, which worked fine for the neck/back/armhole edges. I sewed the elastic straight into the fold at the seamlines with the 3 step zigzag. The tension I put on the elastic was a little uneven, so the pulling at the back neckline is totally my fault.

I love Shock Absorber sports bras. Hard to do up, but it feels like having no boobs at all!
My first attempt does not have the bra lining. I can't find powermesh in NZ for a reasonable price, so I thought I'd test the outer pattern first. As it was a success, I will try the bra lining next. My bust size is significantly larger than the pattern is designed for, but other reviews suggest it can be done! For weight training I don't need quite as much support, so I'm optimistic for its success.

My final thoughts? I love the versatility of the back designs. I can't wait to try this again with the bra lining, and to give the coordinating leggings a go! It only took me a couple of hours from taping the pattern together to being able to wear it - and that's without an overlocker.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Strappy top for summer days

I made my first finished object in bloody ages... a simple knit top. This is from BurdaStyle 06/2013, top 108. It has a corresponding maxi-dress style too. You can download the pattern here.

Love the double-strap style.
My fabric is a weird, shiny foil-print knit from the dancewear section at Spotlight. I think I was channeling Anne. Back when I was young (late 90s/early 00s), I was never without a shiny top to throw on for a night out. I'm too old for the backless/skintight/lowcut styles I used to wear. But it's still good to have an easy-to-wear dressy top.

Looks fine with a regular bra. The elasticated back is comfortable, too.
I love this style. It's a bit longer, has straps that allow me to wear a normal bra, and is not tight around the guts. It was really easy to sew - the instructions are even useful (if you need them)!

Shiny shiny shiny. With some inadvertent puckering (let's just pretend it's designed that way).
I made the back in a size 42 and the front in a size 44. This gave me a little extra hip/bust space, without a baggy back. I forgot to leave enough allowance at the top of the back to put the elastic in a channel... so instead I sewed the elastic on the seamline directly with a triple zig zag, then folded this over and sewed the allowance under.

From my Brother manual - this stitch is great for attaching elastic
From cutting out and setting up the machine to having a finished garment, this took less than two hours. That's without a serger, and with a cheeky late-afternoon cocktail!

Thought you might laugh at this like I did - it's really windy here!
If you like the style, I recommend this pattern. I'm thinking about giving the maxi dress a go before summer ends! I'd use a slightly heavier-weight knit next time. This should reduce the puckering at the front seam and help it to hang with a little more elegance.

Have you tried any new styles this summer? Or revisited a favourite style from your youth?

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Creative pursuits?

I'm still alive. Hooray!

Sooo, here's why I've been quite absent. Currently I'm the Quality Manager for a $130m construction project. As of last week, I'm also the Quality Manager on a separate $50m job. And my work life was relatively busy before. Sigh. I will still post here when I find inspiration (this is even more of a problem than finding energy). I'm always available on Twitter for a chat, too.


I have done very few creative activities in recent months. A tiny bit of crochet. A wee spot of sewing. And a monstrous amount of house-fixing and family-visiting. Shout out to Deirdre and Kirsti, for the fun Dessert Day when I was in Melbourne though!

One creative thing I've done lately is create a calendar for 2014. The link is at the top right of the blog. A few years back, I made a similar one for a few family members and it was wildly popular. If you love pictures of New Zealand, this is the calendar for you! It makes a BRILLIANT Christmas gift too, especially for extended family members or if it needs to be posted.

Here's a little preview for you! (no watermarks on the printed calendar, of course):




Order early to get one in time for Christmas!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Scary September - prints!

Beajay, I have not forgotten the challenge! I promised to finally sew some clothing in a printed fabric. The colours even match those in my swatch.

See, I checked my swatch. It's all good!

During a month of unpacking, dealing with tradespeople, throwing parties (all the normal house-moving things), I have indeed managed to sew something. It's not exciting, it's not even a new-to-me pattern.

I present Style Arc Mia, in a knit WITH A PRINT.


There isn't much to add to my earlier review of the pattern. I used some clear elastic on the surplice front edges, to minimise stretching them out. I didn't use any facings, as they would have caused more problems than they would solve in this slinky knit. At this stage the front is held with a pin, but I'll add a snap or hook and eye when I get a chance.

Clear elastic is useful if you sew knits regularly. I just attach it with a zig-zag.
This dress is such a great "throw it on and go shopping" style.

Now that the house is (kind of) sorted, I should be able to post more regularly!

New sewing room! Hooray!

Monday, 9 September 2013

The next post will have actual sewing

Now that I've written it, it *must* be true.

In the last twelve months, I've been overseas twice, gotten engaged, sewed my wedding dress, got married, bought a house, and turned 30. I also learned to crochet! What I'm saying is that I've been busy.

Of course, I also pledged to BeaJay that I would sew an item of clothing WITH A PRINT in Scary September. Because I need more challenges in my life, apparently! Seriously, my whole wardrobe is block colours. I need to branch out. BeaJay has given me a bit of much-needed inspiration.

So that will be the topic of my next blog post. I promise. In the mean time, here are some tidbits from my last few weeks. In that time we moved house, [I turned 30], and we travelled to Akaroa via Christchurch.

All our new neighbours stopped by to say hello within a few days of us moving in. One of them brought cupcakes! This is such a friendly neighbourhood.

This is the sunset view from our deck. South Auckland is prettier than people think!

The guestroom/sewing room is slowly taking shape.

Akaroa is gorgeous. This was the view from our motel patio.

It has some of the oldest surviving buildings in New Zealand (the warning tape is on one that was earthquake damaged in February 2011).

The harbour there is pretty darned scenic too.

Lyttleton Harbour was breathtaking, though.
We also went to Christchurch when we were down south. I took a lot of photos there, but I'm not sure about sharing them. Seeing the damage (two and a half years after the quake) was really upsetting to me - and I've never even been there before. It feels somehow too raw and intrusive to publish the photos... maybe later. I don't know.

Have you snapped any photos that took your breath away when you reviewed them? In a good or a bad way?

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