Contrado fun

Last year Contrado checked in with me while I was recovering from surgery and asked if I wanted to design fabric again.

It was easy to say yes and I jumped into my photos to figure out what fabric to print again.

I had plenty of time to run through my photos to plan the fabric without having the fabric sample in my hands. Their website does provide lots of details about each fabric so I had a good idea about what would work best.

Dress cover up

This beach cover up is printed on their loose knit jersey.
“With 5% elastane, loose knit jersey has excellent stretch and recovery, making it a comfortable and easy fabric to wear. This is a very breathable fabric and has an interesting construction. The knit is somewhat uneven, creating a random pattern where the yarns are dense in some places and sparse in others. Loose knit is ideal for creating beautiful lightweight summer clothing.” 

I chose purple images because purple is big this year. I changed the images for a rich purple colour and this dress shows how good my photo turned out.

Wendy Ward’s new knit book “A beginner’s guide to sewing with knit fabrics had the perfect tee pattern that made the most of the print for me – Winnats tank.

I did pattern test this pattern so I would know how to best use the print.

The instructions and pattern pieces were spot on.


What I could have done to make my project decisions easier was to get the swatch pack offered by Contrado but as you can see from the fabric description, I was happy with this result.
classic natural paper swatch packs
Next time.

Garden party dress

With our ongoing Summer my next Contrado choice was their linen fabric.

Above is the original dress using my basic dress pattern and it worked out fairly well.
But then I thought I should do something more to make it more contemporary.

Above is the adjusted version with a sleeve ruffle.

Once I tried this on with the sleeve ruffle, I didn’t like where the ruffle was sitting.

After a spot of unpicking the ruffle I remarked the ruffle on the dress and used these cool chalk pencils from Prym to place it on the right spot.

As you can see from this close up, I’ve used my block pattern with a square neckline and I added a ruffle sleeve attachment.

I’ve machine sewed this ruffle onto the dress. Once this cold shoulder crazy ends, I’ll remove the shoulder ruffle.

The linen in this fabric took a lot of the purple saturation from the image out of the print. This print has a 1950s, country woman feel to it. Initially I was disappointed with the outcome but I decided to make this print work for me.

Contrado do offer a service to send you a test version of your print. That’s what I should have asked for before committing to this fabric.

The green in this print was the base of the image I used so I decided to use is at in the skirt.

Thanks to Contrado to giving me this opportunity to work with their fabrics again. I really enjoyed this experience and I’ve learnt more about how the extra services they provide so you can get a good result.

Summer espadrilles

There was so much more to learn from Prym’s dvd instruction video for espadrilles.


I received this pack and have only just had the chance to go through it in more detail. There is a Prym YouTube video that is great to get your started.

I watched this video when I made my first pair of espadrilles last year.

This year I have more Prym espadrille tools and the Prym dvd gave me a lot more information about making better ‘store bought’ espadrilles.

The dvd runs through the full details of making these 3 classic espadrilles. The information in this dvd gives you so much more information to make great espadrilles!

These are the Prym tools I had to work with. I’m quite grateful to the lovely people at Prym for providing these tools to make more espadrilles.

This Espadrille tool kit saved my fingers. Last time I made espadrilles, the stitching stressed my fingers. This year I had this tool kit and sewing through the sole and shoe fabric was much easier. See, I can still type out this blog post with no pain.

These are the pieces I worked with. These peep toe espadrilles have a denim outer fabric and a bold print on the inside of the show.

The back heel is a pre made piece.

This is nothing flash but it does blend into the colour of the sole and I did pair this with the same coloured ribbon.

The dvd showed me the right way to line the sole.
I made sure the print on the inside of the shoe matched.

The level of detail in the dvd was so handy.
My next challenge was making sure the toe finish was balanced.

I decided to add crotchet floral lace in the same colour as the heel to balance the design.

I was feeling very unsure about my choices here. Was there too much detail on this espadrille?

You can see I chose to use dark navy stitching thread.

Here’s where the heel and toe pieces are pinned to the espadrille sole.
The ribbon is sewn to the outside of the heel piece so that it doesn’t rub against the back of the foot.

Did I mention these espadrilles are a gift to a friend?

I felt it was important to present the final shoes in a beautiful box.


Here are the final espadrilles ready to be boxed up.

Wrapped in pretty blue tissue.

These are a great gift.

Now I’m just showing these off.

This dvd has so much useful information and has certainly helped make these espadrilles great.

Thanks Prym for providing me with these new espadrille tools. You can purchase these from Minerva Craft and use the discount code ‘maria’ to get 10% off any Prym purchase.



Summer motivation

Classic styles used with modern prints are what made me create this two-piece swimsuit.

Kwik Sew 3300 is a classic bra pattern that I’ve used and Kwik Sew 2689 is the bottoms pattern.
Most of the fabrics and elastics were bought from Pitt Trading.
While I chose to make this swimsuit on a whim this week, I could do this because I had everything.
What you see above is my placing the fabric patter so I’ve stuck with the dark parts of this pattern.
Pitt Trading has lots of swimwear fabrics and notions.

The bra piece has a bra cup in it. I’m looking to acquire proper bra cups for swim suits soon.
The bra bridge has the lighter colour print.
You can see that the bra has proper underwires and powermesh on the bra bands.

You’ll also notice I’ve used a bikini closure and the bra cups are fully lined with the lighter colour parts of the fabric.
By the time I finished making the bra, I was revved up to complete this whole set.
Making this two-piece swimsuit so fast was also facilitated because I had tested and used these patterns before.

Now my goal is to have a beach-ready body. 

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Terrigal swimsuit

Making a splash

Friends who know me call me a designer so I took the plunge and used a holiday photo to design a digital print fabric through Contrado UK.
Contrado have a good range of fabrics and this one is their swimwear/activewear fabric. In fact they now have 98 fabrics to choose from Contrado so I knew this project would be heaps of fun.
Even now, I can’t believe I designed my own digital print fabric with a pic I took on my iPhone this Summer. Can someone please pinch me? I sew clothes and now I can design my own printed fabrics.
I sew anything so it made sense to try a couple of fabrics and be a ‘designer’ with Contrado.

This Terrigal swimsuit is one of three projects I’ve designed. I took this photo during the Christmas break unaware that I could use it for a digital print fabric.

Designing your own fabric
Without having any formal design skills or skills using a design app, Contrado’s fabric design makes this easy to do. This is my first time designing fabric and I was impressed that I could do this on my iphone as well as on my laptop.

They’ve thought this through from a user’s perspective so you don’t need design skills. I have none and I was able to get this fabric printed for my new cozzies*.
The fabric
I’ve used the Slinky Matt Lycra 210gsm. This fabric lives up to its name with its sexy and slinky form-fitting drape (#blushing).
This custom made Lycra has a smooth and slippy face, with a slightly softer inside. The firm, medium weight of this 4-way stretch Matt Lycra makes it a supportive fabric with an almost completely opaque finish. Highly elastic, it has a slightly firmer resistance than a lighter weight Lycra.
 For this project I printed 3 panels of this landscape on swimwear fabric. The panel sizes are 0.5m lengths and 145cm wide. I had no real idea what pattern I would use so it made sense to get 2 lengths.
A full size cozzie is about 70cm long so when the fabric arrived, I had a few options to make the most of this print.
You can kind of see the join from this inside view.

The key idea was to place the start of the sky just above my chest. The rest of the cozzie body had the dark landscape for a more flattering look.

Print tetrus was fun and I got the best option by overlaying some of the waves at the base and some of the sky on the shoulders.

The overlay markings are on the pattern pieces.
Would you believe I’m still thinking through a two-piece cozzie style that highlights this print? I’ll take any pattern suggestions you have. Just leave a comment and I’ll consider it.
Making my cozzies
Making these cozzies was child’s play (Kwik Sew 2962). I added powermesh lining for the bust shelf.

As it was important to try some pattern matching, I redrew the pattern pieces and placed them on the fabric to make sure the horizon was across my chest and balanced.

 Delivery
This fabric design was finalised on a Thursday and I received it on the following Tuesday. I enjoyed watching the delivery tracking online as this fabric made its way from the UK to Australia.
Research
It’s only now that I googled previous reviews of Contrado and found that last year Katie (http://whatkatiesews.net/printing-with-contrado) and some UK sewing bloggers including Rosie (http://diy-couture.blogspot.com.au/2016/04/making-bespoke-fabric-in-london.html) visited Contrado last year. Have a read about their visit to Contrado.
When I ordered my fabric, I did this sight unseen. Other sewing bloggers received fabric samples. I relied solely on the website’s descriptions and I am really pleased with the fabrics I’ve received. 

If you have a particular fabric/project in mind, I would order fabric samples.
What else do they have
Well…Contrado also has a decent range custom clothing you can print on and homewares are being added. I was tempted to print on the kimono but I decided theimpact of the photo on it because you would be lost.
The turnaround time for this is between 2 – 3 days.
So what are you waiting for?
Try Contrado for yourself.
*cozzies is Australian for swimsuit.

Eliana: Beach and Autumn

While planning a few Autumn items, I made a last minute beach Eliana. Pauline Alice sent me her new pattern to try. I used a January sale rayon print from Pitt Trading to make this beach friendly version.

Test dress for fit.

I prefer dresses that allow me to wear support and since this summer version has exposed shoulder (gasp) I made a modest adjustment this version is henceforth known as the beach Eliana. When I’m on holidays at the beach I’ll wear my swimmers underneath and not fuss with the straps showing – C’est la vie.

It was this beach Eliana that forced me to make my convertible bra, so ‘it’s all good’…


Fluoro prints aren’t my first choice but this print is certainly a great play on LBD. 

The rayon fabric is soft and not see-through (yay). I should have bought more…

Pauline has added pockets that are sewn into the waistband so the pockets don’t drag the skirt down. The only change I made to the pockets was to shorten them by 5cm and I’ve used this pocket pattern for a future make.

Finished neckline view. This fabric and notions are courtesy of Pitt Trading.

I’ve also shortened the bodice by 2.5cm. The both versions are 38 bust, 40 waist, 38 hips. 

The Autumn version has shortened sleeves (8cm) and adjusted the sleeve dart for forward shoulders for the Autumn version.

Sleeve hem finish

After making the test version, this Autumn version was a much quicker make.

I spent a fair bit of time making the gathers on the neckline even. You can see the stitching and a bit of hand stitching to keep the gathers in place during sewing.

It’s nice having a warmer dress from the same pattern.

Jalie skort 2796

I owe you a pic of this skort in action. Well, taking a break on the beach is where it came in very handy.

Henley Beach, Adelaide on Australia Day.

We hired some bikes and cycled from town to the beach on the road and then cycled back along the Torrens river. The return trip was 22kms so it wasn’t a hard ride. The bag that I’m holding had my cycling gear in it plus a standard issue hotel towel. It was a 38C day but because Adelaide has dry heat it was bearable and great to get away from our rainy summer.

At West Beach a few days later.

This time we took a Go-Get car to hang out at the beach for the afternoon. This skort is now my favourite beach skirt. I really love Jalie patterns.