Hello Beryl

I had such a fun night wearing this to dinner last week. This fabric just sparkles at night while still being a quasi ‘little black dress’, sponsored by Minerva Crafts.

I did get asked ‘is that a coat or a dress’? Beryl fromNamed is a dress from their ‘Earth Science’ collection. This is a dress and a fun one with this fabric.

I had limited time to make this dress so I jumped into the instructions and found the key piece of information I needed to adjust this pattern. Beryl Bomber dress is designed for 172cm height. That’s really all I needed to check before I swung into adjusting the pattern to suit me.

Ok. I did check the bust, waist and hip measurements so I cut out the 38 size. Keeping in mind this pattern has lots of ease in it because of the bomber style, my main adjustment was to shorten the skirt with the view to recheck the waistline down the track.

There was one Instagram review stating the dress was big so I was comfortable to keep the roominess because of the fabric.

This geometric metallic brocade fabric is gorgeous. Well technically it has metallic fibres so I knew this was going to require as many enclosed seams as possible. I used French seam finishes. My bias binding stash also came handy to finish the centre front seams and hem.

One piece I didn’t used was the front facing. Because I enclosed the centre front seam with bias binding, there was no need to use this facing.

I was a bit befuddled where the dress needs a piece of ribbon to encase the elastic at the waistline. Hence my using a medium weight cotton fabric from my stash for the internal waistband. This is the only part of the dress that is firm against your body so I decided to use a fabric that wouldn’t scratch.

The pattern also recommends using a firm rib knit for the collar. The rib knit from Minerva Crafts is soft and really feels great against my skin. When I sewed the knit to this fabric I did stretch it a smidge to make it curve against my neck. It’s a great collar feature.

When there are external pockets on a pattern I do a simple check on the garment to make sure the pocket base can be reached easily. When I pinned the pockets to the dress, I lined up the geometric design so it sat along one of the geometric lines.

My couture sewing skills swung into overdrive as I thread traced the waistline from the pattern piece.

Once I was at the stage to sew on the waistline casing, it sat higher on my waist line by 3 cm.

This did result in my sewing the base of the elastic casing over the top of the pocket so I’ll have to lower the pocket piece to match my body size.

I had fun making this dress and I certainly had fun wearing it too. Bring on Winter.

I’m so tempted to try another colourway of this metallic brocade fabric for a coat…another time.


A coat with colour

This week Winter came to Sydney and my new teal coat using Minerva Crafts fabric is ready.

I call this fabric friendly coating because if you’re scared to make a coat, this fabric can be easily molded into shape as you sew.

The weave is firm, open and soft. It looks like a knit fabric but it’s woven.

When I needed to ease the sleeve into the jacket, the fabric was quite obliging and sat in across all the notches. Hand-stitching the lining and the press studs didn’t tire out my fingers and that’s why I felt this fabric is friendly.

Paisley lining
Minerva Crafts has recently purchased a huge range of paisley linings. Finding a matching lining for this coating would have driven me to distraction and this antique gold that was easy to choose from their website.

Butterick 6062 is a classic styled jacket but I prefer to use it for coats. There’s just enough shaping for my height.

Thick fabricThis coating is thick. Very thick so that can seem scary. How will my little sewing machine cope with sewing through 4 to 8 layers of this fabric?

The collar is where I had to sew through many layers of this coating. But I simply slowed down my sewing machine speed dial; took in a deep breath; relaxed; and started sewing slowly. Slower than usual.

This coating doesn’t fray so it held together nicely as I sewed through each construction stage.

I bet you noticed Butterick 6062 doesn’t have a collar? You were right. It doesn’t.

When I made the Burda jacket last month, the collar pattern was a simple rectangle folded lengthways and sewed onto the neckline. Such a simple concept!

That’s all I did.

While there are always constructions hurdle to tackle as you sew a coat, I love the detailing.
This is where I can add or subtract the details I want to add.

I really don’t like patch pockets. You have to be accurate and I’d love to find a patch pocket pattern where the lining doesn’t peek over the pocket opening.

Once I start sewing on the Berisford grosgrain ribbon, I got an idea of how the coat might look.

The pattern suggests minimal interfacing, but it suggests softer fabrics.
I wear coats and jackets all the time and what makes them long-lasting is using interfacing to keep it’s shape for longer.

There’s interfacing in the collar, on the facings and I’ve added interfacing across the front and back shoulders. 

The interfacing Minerva Crafts provided was a medium-weight iron-on woven. It irons on easily with some steam. The interfacing glue doesn’t seep onto my iron. 

The prospect of sewing welt buttonholes wasn’t in my plans because this fabric is quite thick so I chose these 15mm Prym snaps.

We don’t have a lot of Prym products in Australia so it’s a treat to be able to use these for this coat. They were easy to sew on too.

Thanks for keeping me warm again this Winter Minerva Crafts!

Anita: great leggings

Making ponte pants can be a hit or miss exercise. Anita Ponte Pants pattern by Tessuti’s is a quick sew and with the right ‘body’ dimensions and good quality fabric, these are perfect for winter.

Making trousers or leggings will be frustrating if you don’t know your shape. Investing time and help to know your shape is invaluable. I’ve been making pants for a while now and I know that my curves have changed so I can add these changes to many pants patterns.

For me, being ‘petite’ means I have to get the shape right and the length right at two places. 

As a cyclist, I also need to avoid creating baggy knees with ponte pants. There’s a lot of muscle in these little legs so some shaping happens at the knees. Nothing scientific. It’s all based on my shape at the time.

Here’s the original pattern.

Here’s ‘my’ ponte pants pattern. Shorter legs. Shaping at the knees. My curve mark are drawn rough on the pattern.  Sway back adjustment. Shortened the centre front seam. But – they fit like a dream.  And – it was worth the effort.

I’ve now made these four times. I live in these ponte pants when it’s cold. My days of wearing baggy, RTW leggings are over.

Ponte pants paired with Anita winter tee

This test version uses ponte from my stash. As you can see from the front view, I didn’t have enough fabric (not usually a petite problem) so I made a feature of the join below the knee.

The ponte quality is ok and I was able to resew the seams to get the fit right at my knees.

Here’s the ‘good’ version made with a basic Chorizo Squad ponte and elastic from Tessuti’s.

Chorizo ponte pants with Mandy boat tee.
The difference is how the ponte feels smooth against my legs and how this fabric holds me in place too:)

This fabric has a good amount of spandex (Oxblood Red 66% Viscose 30% Nylon 4% Spandex Ponti Double Knit. Width:150cm).

I use less than 1 metre so I’m pleased at being able to make great leggings that keep their shape and colour using Tessutis ponte. 

I used clover clips to avoid making pin holes in this spandex

And for a bit of shine, I bought a $10 remnant from the Melbourne Tessuti’s store in July and made these.

Anita shiny ponte pants with Anita knit winter hoodie.

Just for fun – I think the ‘disco-chick’ in me is still there somewhere – just waiting to get out. 
Mr V chuckles when he sees me wear this pair. 

So I had a nice Winter collection this year.

That bright pair on the far right – is ‘far out‘!

Mum’s updated collection

When the seasons change, I check Mum’s clothes to see what I can do to give her ‘options’ for her lifestyle and less flexible hands. This time I’ve developed a beige collection with easy to wear skirts and I’ll working on some light coloured knit tops for some new winter layers.  I made her a fleece coat last winter so this will also go with this collection. The previous skirts I made her were all dark and her measurements haven’t changed since 2010.

These skirts are dead easy but she expects good straight skirts to be lined, so they are lined with sunsilky (my fav) and I’ve used non-roll elastic in a waistline casing. Her hip measurement is 44″ so I added 2″ and cut them long enough for a 2″ casing and a 2″ hem. The beige print is similar to a jacket that Mum already has so she might or might not style these together.

Each skirt has a centre back split so she can hop into the car when we go out. And she’s very social so she gets out and about quiet a bit.

Kwik Sew 3658

Kwik Sew 2694

I’m leaning towards Kwik Sew 3658 with long sleeves or 2694 view A for her new basic winter top layers. She has some great chunky knit cardies from last winter that I know she wears often so that’ll give me time to make her a new casual jacket in the coming months. 

The new jacket will be Kwik Sew 3716. I have the beige woven fabric and a print on beige for her. The outside pockets are a feature she loves so I think she’ll be happy with this.
DH isn’t feeling the sewing love so I can feel some DH alterations approaching my sewing room soon…

Jacket #3 – M4596

Trying to be photogenic
With DH away most of last week, I had time to play with this jacket. The days started to warm up last week so I freaked out and decided to finish this jacket asap.
Today it’s cold again so it was great to wear the jacket, after finishing the hand stitched hems after breakfast.
Yes I need a life.

The fabric is a soft thick woollen so the sleeves were easy to manipulate into the jacket body.
I’ve used sunsilky lining – my favourite – because it performs really well.
I’ve made this jacket in linen but on seeing the basic jacket basted together, before adding the sleeves, it was big and bulky.
side view
The body was 5cm too long at the front so I snipped away until it sat just above the crotch line.
Back view with additional darts
I’ve added in two additional darts in the back and the back sits really well. 
If I taper the front darts, the side pockets will sit open and not close properly.
You can see the pocket lining from the back in this picture.
The fabric is interfaced throughout with armoweft to help keep its shape.
The collar has pad stitching so that it sits up at the back neck.
I’ve resewed in the sleeves because they just wrong – too far down my arms.
I did use shoulder pads.
Now the sewn-in ribbon thread was the only way I could make the front opening sit properly. I initially used the ribbon on the collar and I realised this was the only method I could use to sew through a four bulky layers and avoid break more sewing machine needles.
I didn’t break any sewing machine needles this time. My fingers however are killing me.

The fabric is a remnant from a coat I made at least four years ago and I still can’t recall where I bought the fabric from.

If I attempt this jacket again, and I will, I’ll use zippers on the side pocket to make the jacket more figure hugging. I did a jacket stash count and there are four more jackets in the pipeline, but once the weather hots up again, they’re going into the “freezer.”
front view

Keeping warm – McCalls 8971

This is a favourite pattern I’ve used for coats McCalls 8971.
The pinky coat is fabric I purchased at Pitt Trading. The fabric is silk and the weave is fairly open so I made the seams wider to ensure it would unravel too quickly as I sewed it up. The pockets are in the side seams so they don’t make me look smaller.

The beige coat is a softer wool fabric that has lots of interfacing and tailoring so that it stays in shape for a long time.
I can’t remember where I bought it from, but it took a few seasons to get the courage choose a pattern and make this coat. They’re both comfortable, warm and fit nicely over a tailored suit in the winter.
PS. If you’d like some more technical details, drop me a line.