Thursday, 30 October 2014

Marvellous Missonish material from Mel!

Lovely fabric!
The wonderful Poppykettle surprise-gifted me a few metres of this wide, luxurious fabric some years back. It has been ageing gracefully in the stash, being fondled and admired every time I walked past it. In all honesty, I wanted to wait until I was closer to my goal weight before sewing it. I did not want to waste it on something that would only fit for five minutes!

This particular kind of “Missonish” fabric is both easy and hard to work with. Easy because the fabric is the star without needing a complex pattern, and it is soft and forgiving on the figure. Hard, because it’s loose, has a tendency to bag out, and has no chance of holding any shaping or piecing on its own.

I think there are two ways to approach this textile. Make something that is essentially shapeless, to drape across the body, or underline each piece of the fabric to make a moderately fitted shape. The first approach would result in things like beautiful cowls or waterfall cardigans. The second allows you to make a shaped (if not fitted) dress, skirt, or top.

My first project with this fabric was a pencil skirt. McCall’s 6654 was my base pattern.

I wore this skirt to our date night at Denny's. No, I'm not joking.
I cut the knit lining first from the same pattern and then used it as a template on the main fabric. I would never cut this knit on the fold – it’s much too loose and shifty. Using a template on a flat layout also means that you can line up the stripes as best as possible.

The seams on the shell were all sewed with a narrow zigzag. While it doesn’t ravel too easily, the seams definitely need either two lines of stitching or finishing on all the cut edges. On the plus side, it doesn’t need cutting or finishing on the selvedge. I’ve used mine as the hem! Yay for a quick clean finish.

Nugget just has to be within one metre of his humans at all times.
I sewed the lining with slightly wider seam allowances (thus making it a tiny bit smaller than the shell). Then it was simply attached at the waist, with right sides together. Next I sewed a piece of non-roll elastic into a circle. I placed this at the seam line, flipped the lining to the inside, and sewed directly under the elastic. Voila! Encased elastic waist.
This knit has a tendency to grow in all directions, but the greatest stretch direction would mean vertical lines on the skirt. It wouldn’t look “Missonish” to sew it like that though. If the skirt grows too much during wear (it hasn’t yet), I could tack the side seams to the lining.

I think I'm standing strangely because I haven't worn heels for months.

The great thing is that I used less than half the fabric to make this skirt, so I have plenty for another garment. I’m thinking about making a lined t-shirt (maybe even slightly cropped!). Or possibly a tank. Something that would look like a suit/dress, but works well for separates.

Maybe a whole outfit? Too much? (I don't care)
Have you ever used a fabric that you were afraid to cut? Have you ever had a surprise gift that makes you smile whenever you see it?

Monday, 15 September 2014

XYT - a fun FehrTrade workout top!

I have made this top before. I was about 20kg heavier and didn't build in the bra. So let's pretend that never happened, and that this pattern is new to me...

Shiny garish fabric! My favourite for gym wear.

The XYT pattern comes with great instructions, and a lot of additional handy hints. Melissa has also shared a lot of other people's makes and some extra tips on her website. I appreciate when designers are responsive and involved in this way - and this is not a trait unique to indie designers! The new McCalls blog is great too.

The Y back design is perfect for me. I like having a lot of freedom in my workout tops, as I do both cardio and weights. Anything restrictive won't get worn.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Amazing Auckland - Whatipu Regional Park


It's been a while since I've done a local tour for my internet friends! Last weekend we went out to Whatipu, a regional park on the northern side of the Manukau Harbour.


Be prepared - it's a long (though scenic) drive. It's about an hour from our house or central Auckland. The last 10km or so is unsealed. I do not recommend driving out here after a storm or when it's about to rain. The road is narrow, the surface will be slippery, and there might be trees down. Also, there is a ford you need to cross. So yeah, safety first!


Whatipu is a regional park, and no dogs are allowed as it's a scientific reserve. While it is remote, it is not hard to access. Aside from the unpaved road, there is a decent carpark with a (clean!) long-drop toilet. It is only about ten minutes walk from the carpark to the beach, along flat dunes. We didn't have to get our feet wet, but I imagine that depends on the tides and the weather.


There are plenty of sheltered and open spaces, so even when the wind is whistling off the Tasman this park would not be too bad. We were fortunate to be there on a clear and calm mid-winter day, and it was very pleasant.


There is no surf patrol here, and the west coast beaches are very treacherous. I would never recommend swimming at one, but if it was hot you could splash along the shallows.


My husband is a keen model flier, and took some amazing footage with a Go-Pro camera on a quadcopter. You can see his aerial perspective of Whatipu here on Vimeo, and more of his videos are on YouTube.


Eventually I'll do a more in-depth photo journey around my own suburb - but I can't hold a camera whilst walking my dog. It will have to wait until Chris can hold the lead while I wield the lens!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Sporty stripes - Burda 6911

I threw together Burda 6911 in a couple of hours. It doesn't use much fabric, and is a casual but interesting design.

Nugget really wanted to play while I was modelling on the deck. Who can say no to that face??
The pieces are simple enough - two front sides, a back, and two sleeves. Thoughtfully, Burda even suggests using stripes for this. As you can see below, they form an interesting geometry around the bustline. I didn't bother stripe-matching. These particular stripes are very narrow, and the flimsy t-shirt material was far too hard to control when sewing it together. I don't think it matters much.

Sorry not sorry about the leggings and uggs. It's cold here.
I struggled IMMENSELY to understand how the twist front was meant to go together. I still don't understand it now - and this is not even the first twist-front top I've made. The only way I made it work was by pinning what I knew to be the shoulders to my dress form, and then tugging and twisting until it looked right. Then I pinned the left side underbust seam, and hustled back to my sewing machine.

The shoulder seams have a small piece of elastic zig-zagged in (for stability). Then I sewed in the sleeves flat and seamed them as one with the sides. I dislike setting-in t-shirt sleeves, and this way always seems simpler.

I like the different stripe directions. Also, I'm trying in vain to ignore Nugget.
Rather than rethreading my machine for a twin-needle finish, I just used the triple stretch stitch to hem the sleeves and bottom. Next time I might just attach a band for the bottom hem. It's a nice clean finish.

I ADORE this style, and could see myself making the other two variations on the pattern envelope. I'd forgotten how much I love Burda's wearability and modern design. I also find their sizing to be very consistent, and they have a pleasing amount of ease.

What do you think of Burda's patterns? Do you have any go-to pattern companies or retail stores, when it comes to practical basics?

Just what I needed, a new top to play tug-of-war in.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Re-engineering my clothes hanger

If you've seen my older blog posts, you will know two things: 1) I don’t mind looking a bit crap in photos (I prefer the term “natural”, hahaha), and 2) I'm not thin. These things still hold true! But number one now more so than number two.

Sports bra/bikini photos below the jump...

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