A turning point

Hattie by Style Arc patterns is very urban hence my choosing this dress for my September make for Minerva Crafts.

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Give me a wraparound style dress any day. I love them as they give me the illusion of a waist.

Lovely crepe

I chose this lovely crepe and I decided to break out and use this blush pink colour. It’s a lovely pink with skin tones so I felt this would be an ok colour to wear against my Winter skin colouring. We’re just leaving Winter behind here in Australia and I think this colour was a good choice.

This weight of this crepe is lovely for this dress style. Crepe can be heavier so when I chose this fabric, the description was very helpful. This was a good choice to pair with Style Arc’s Hattie.

I like the challenge of making dresses in woven fabrics but it can be challenging finding a fabric online that has the drape you want. The description of Minerva’s website made choosing the right fabric easy.

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There are 22 colour choices of this high twist royal crepe dress fabric to choose from. Rose pink is the colour choice that drew my attention.

This crepe is good value at 60 inches or 150cm wide. It’s listed as light weight and is 100% polyester.

It irons very easily and Minerva always has this crepe available on the website.

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Pattern changes

Hattie is described as Woven dress with a twist front and a 7/8 sleeve. I made the 8 at the bust and 10 size at the waist and hips. Having the multisize pattern makes grading so much easier.

When I’ve made previous Style Arc dresses, I’ve found the skirt length has generally been my length so the skirt length stayed the same.

My back is very curved so I did a sway back adjustment.

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I graded this pattern and made changes to the shoulder positioning to be forward facing. I do this for all my projects. The shoulders were quite tight on the 8 size.

I also made this dress again one size bigger and added a zipper. The fit is more relaxed. If you wanted to avoid sewing in a zipper, go 2 sizes up for more wiggle room. If you’re shapely, add the zipper.

Style Arc patterns know that multisize patterns enable us to their patterns to our personal body shapes. They’re very skill and style empowering. What I appreciate is multisize pattern options give me the ability to make this garment when my weight fluctuates.

The finished pattern measurements are for size 10. There is 2” (5cm) between sizes so I tend to recheck this on my pattern pieces.

You really only need a tiny button for the backneck closure.

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Construction tips

pic-6The seams are 3/8” (1cm) so I tend overlock the seams, where possible. I machine stitch internal seams for areas like sewing facings to necklines.

I machine sewed the front bodice to the front skirt. There was some excess fabric at the front bodice so I pleated this excess into the waist seam. Because this excess is under the front wrap ties, you can’t see it.

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I also machine stitch to baste pieces together so I can check the fit of the garment. Remember to sew the front bodice to skirt from the side seams to the centre point. This gives you a better seam join.

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Reality check

I made this dress mid-Winter and I found that I should have checked my body measurements twice. You know the saying, measure twice cut once.

So when I finally wore this version of Hattie, I should have made it one size bigger across my whole body.

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This is the shoulder adjustment I did to the bodice so the shoulders fit better.

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This experience made me realise I either have to upsize all my patterns or simply (famous last words) lose my Winter weight. Multisize patterns enable you to make the same style no matter what your size is.

It’s now 4 weeks since I made this dress and after eating smaller meals (no snacking) and training consistently, I’ve dropped a couple of kilos. There are still a couple more kilos to lose but I am really pleased that this dress was the turning point to stop and look after myself.

 

Jumpsuit addiction

This pattern sold out so quickly when Minerva Crafts brought Deer & Doe’s Sirocco jumpsuit, I felt I needed to see why.

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The answer is this is a very quick jumpsuit to sew on an overlocker. The seams are 3/8 inch and this is perfect for overlocker sewing. This jumpsuit has pockets! That always get a big tick from me.

The v-neckline can be as low or as high as you want it to be. A simple size 0 snap is all I added as the closure for the neckline. You don’t need to add a snap. I do so I feel more confident to wear this faux wrap neckline.

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The fabric – crepe knit

This crepe knit feels lovely and soft against my skin. I didn’t feel it before I ordered it so I was really pleased that it feels so soft.

The crepe texture does mean that there will be blue dust on your machine as you sew. I keep a craft paintbrush next to my sewing machine to sweep away the fabric dust build-up.

The crepe side is what I chose as the right side of the fabric. The colour on the crepe side is a slightly darker blue and that helped me as I cut the fabric out at night.

This knit is more fine than medium weight so it does curl as you use it. This meant I did have to sew the fabric in short bursts so the fabric didn’t curl into the seam stitching.

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Using the overlocker

I still go back and use the overlocker instruction manual to check the recommended stitching for knit fabrics. It’s also handy to go back to the instruction manual to use it for other purposes such as rolled hemming. I did consider using a lettuce edge on the sleeve hem, but I decided to use this hem finish for another time.

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Construction changes

The beauty of using the overlocker meant that I could change the order of construction.

I followed the Deer and Doe instructions for the bodice only. Then…

  1. I overlocked the front bodice, waistband, pants into one piece.
  2. I did the same for the back pieces.
  3. I overlocked the sleeves in flat.
  4. Then I overlocked the side seams from the sleeve through to the ankle.
  5. Before I hemmed the jumpsuit, I overlocked the inner legs and checked the trouser hem length.

 

Pattern adjustments- pants

Earlier this year I made Style Arc Brice jumpsuit so I used this to check the leg length for this jumpsuit pattern.

Leg length:

I took out 6 cm from the Sirocco leg length.

When I was ready to hem the legs, they were still too long. I had to remove another 5 cm from the hem.

There are some schools of thought that recommend you shorted the leg length at the knee. When I took a good look at the leg shaping, I really didn’t want the ankle width to be too skinny. That’s just my style preference so the ankle width on my version is definitely wider that the pattern provided.

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Tummy length:

I know that I am shorter from at the centre front on the pants so I took out 5 cm across the mid-tummy area on both the pants and the pocket pieces, so these would all match.

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Sway back:

I also know I have a sway back and a gravity affected behind so I took out 5cm from the mid-sway back side seam to match the front pant through to 0cm at the centre back seam. This effectively gave me enough coverage for my ‘sway back’.

I also lowered the centre back curve for gravity.

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Pattern adjustments – Bodice

I’ve graded the bodices with size 38 at the bust and size 40 at the waist. This is the shape I am at the moment.

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Front:

I took off 1.5cm off the shoulder seam as I have two shape issues.

  1. forward shoulders. I remove 1.5cm from the shoulder point.
  2. bust gaping on V necklines. This means I have to take out 1.5 cm from the neckline.

When I was prepping the pattern, I simply took this off the pattern piece.

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Where the v-neckline markings are on the bodice, I placed the neckline neckband seams at this point so the neckline would sit more securely on me. This worked out well. I did add a size 0 snap on the neckband so the neckband will stay put!

Back:

I added 1.5 cm to the height of the shoulder point.

I also added 1.5 cm to the hem of the back bodice to give me enough wiggle room to curve with my sway back shape.

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There was a few moments when I cut the pattern out that I thought ‘will this work?’

It took me Saturday morning to slowly sew these adjusted jumpsuit pieces together.

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Pocket reinforcement

I love garments with pockets. However I’m very aware of ensuring to keep pockets in the shape they were drafted. What I mean is I tend to think through how to keep pockets reinforced so they don’t’ eventually look like hip ears.

I have this tricot tape to reinforce seams when I sew knit garments.

I used this tape on the pocket seam to provide the shape I want the pockets to always have.

I have friends who have the pockets sewn closed on their ready to wear garments because they want to keep the trouser shape as is.

Winter version

I plan to make a long sleeve version for Winter soon.

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Thanks again Minerva Crafts.

Excited

There are so many times finding the right pants can be a drag. Style Arc’s Lola Woven Pants were terrific and the fit made me quite excited.

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I really wasn’t sure that I had anything that I could pair with these pants and low and behold, I found this ponte top I made last year – that’s why I was really excited.

This month’s Minerva post is about these pants. They’re made using John Kaldor Polyester Crepe Fabric. The colourway is called Olivia Pink. I simply love the name of this colourway.

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It’s a light-weight fabric. Washing this was quick and the colour is fast.

The pattern recommends ironing after each step which keeps your sewing sharp. This fabric only needs medium heat, if that.

What is perfect with this fabric is that it’s great for travel. Not much ironing needed.

The large print is bright, distracting and fun. PS. This fabric is currently on sale right now. Once it’s sold, it’s sold.

Now for the Lola pants.

The fabric is woven so I was keen to see how these Lola pants would work with a partial elastic waistband.

I learnt a new skill and relearned an existing skill.

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The new skill learnt was sewing a partial elastic waistband. This feature makes these pants look wearable to more places than the gym.

The front waistband is flat so I can wear these pants to a lot more places. I’m looking forward to making these in a plain colour fabric for work pants.

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I used elastic that wasn’t 4cm wide but it was wide enough for what I needed. I would definitely use 4cm wide elastic in my next order.

The existing skill I relearned was sewing in a normal dress zipper. These pants have pockets that give you the option of adding a zipper.

Because I’m testing this pattern for the first time, this was definitely one option from this pattern I was going to follow through with.

The other option you can choose to include is to add elastic on the hem across the back leg piece. I couldn’t see the benefit of this feature for these pants so I hemmed these pants with a row of machine stitching.

Going back to the zipper pockets, here are some progress shots I took so you can see why a bit of hand stitching can make a lot of difference to the finished project.

I will definitely use zipper pockets for future work trousers and trousers made for travel.

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Step 1: pinned in zipper

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Step 2: Checking if the pinning was accurate and seeing that it’s not good enough.

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Step 3: Hand basting these zippers in place so when I machine sew them in, I know they will be sitting in their correct position.

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Step 4: Being happy after you’ve machine sewn in the zipper and it’s read for ironing.

When you sew the pocket bag for these pockets, there needs to be enough zipper tape to sew the pocket bags onto them. I’m glad I spent the time hand basting the zippers in before machine sewing them.

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On the pattern I made my usually sway back adjustment and lowered the centre back curve.

With this fabric, these pants are really light and fold up easily if you’re packing for a quick getaway.

Sewing doesn’t always have to be serious business. It’s good to have a bit of fun and enjoy the finished product.

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Thanks
Minerva!

 

 

 

A sharing community

After blogging for 11 years, there are people I’ve kept in contact with and over the years though sharing our sewing experiences and this has given me a sharing group of friends I truly treasure.

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#sewover50 @sewover50

The #sewover50 @sewover50 team asked me to write this post to encourage you to blog if you’re not sure about blogging about your sewing life. If you haven’t seen the #sewover50 @sewover50 team, have a look at their hashtag on instagram. There are now over 24,000 posts for this international team of 3 ladies who started this hashtag and the group now has over 12,000 followers.

About blogging

Going back to the reason for this post about blogging.

Blogging for me is about documenting my sewing experience so I can go back to the post and make sure I do a better job on the next version of the same project. Readers have the benefit of looking at my blog posts and possibly gaining my insights to make their future project better that I’ve created. My most embarrassing posts were the first ones. ‘You gotta start somewhere.’

All the opinions for each of my blog posts are my own and I’ll always show you what I did to make the project work for me. A pattern or project idea are a starting point.

Sponsored posts

Yes I am sponsored by Minerva Crafts every month. Prym consumer have generously provide me with their sewing tools to use and test. From time to time other online fabric companies and indie designers will contact me to collaborate with them. I’ll do this when their projects fit in with what I’ll realistically use and when I have the time to fit them in. I love pretty things but I have to be able to wear them more than once.

Pattern testing

I’ve pattern tested for Fehr Trade, Pauline Alice patterns and sometimes for Tuesday Stitches and I check the English translations for Sacotin patterns. Overtime, Melissa, Pauline, Vero and Erin have become friends that I enjoy supporting.

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I approach every pattern as a new experience and read all the instructions as a sew. When I pattern test I don’t assume any prior knowledge because I’m being asked to pattern test as a newbie. To be honest, through testing patterns I can give my feedback so that the pattern is the best it can be for others who actually pay for the pattern. You don’t want to pay for a pattern that is poorly drafted or poorly written, so I use this opportunity to be constructive.

On Pattern Review I’ve reviewed over 480 patterns and have been a contest manager four times. I try to use the review template so that if you’re looking for a specific piece of information, you can quickly scan the review and find what you’re looking for. Sometimes I’ve added different subheadings because the pattern had something more that I want to tell readers about. Other times, I’ve removed the template subheadings because I’ve already covered that point.

This year I’ve started to co-host That Sewing Blab, and it’s been a good learning curve for me. I’ve never seen myself being a live interviewer but sewing is my hobby/focus so I’ve enjoyed working with Dawn on the show.

Why blog

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Blogging can be a bit overwhelming when you first start out. I was sewing with local sewing friends when I started blogging so I had people to soundboard with as I developed my blog. There are a bunch of questions you might struggle with when you start blogging:

Do I have anything to contribute?
Is my post worth reading?
Does this post read well?
Are my photos helpful?
Is this blog post just a piece of fluff and not worth reading?
Have I missed anything out?

If technology isn’t your friend and you want to start blogging, ask people you follow about starting a blog. I’ve gone from a decent blog on Blogger and then had to move my blog to WordPress because of the Google glitch I just couldn’t figure out.

To be honest, I’m still trying to figure out how to make the most of WordPress without dipping into my pocket.

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There’s the issue of disclosing any affiliate links you include on any recommendations you suggest to people who follow you. The Fair Trade Commission have lots of good information that you need to be aware of and practice. These rules apply across any social media platform including Instagram, Pinterest, facebook, twitter…etc.

There are also rules about protecting people’s privacy.

Within Australia there are a few issues that are on the horizon, so keep an eye on how the ATO will start to treat ‘income’ earned through social media.

Influencers, sportspeople and celebrities to be slugged by ‘Instagram tax’

Taxation of income for an individual’s fame or image paper:

Remember that sharing on anything on a social media platform is a record so be mindful of what you’re saying/writing.

Blogging was huge up until twitter/Instagram started to grow a few years and I know the sewing community has become a bigger group with all aspects of sewing covered through these platforms.

What I love about blogging

Now for the fun stuff about the benefits of blogging, if you still want to create a blog.

Through blogging, I know that I have patterns that I can go back to again and again and they get adjusted as I put on weight or take off the weight. My blog is my library of sewing notes that you have access to.
Through blogging, I have friends globally and I can meet up with them when I’m away from home. When I’m home, I can still talk to a good handful of people globally and have a laugh.

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Through blogging, I send out reference material to people from time to time to people who ask about ‘xyz’ adjustment for their sewing projects. I’m happy to share the resources I’ve bought and continue to use.

My general rule of thumb about blogging technology is, if I’m stuck with a technology issue, there will be someone out there who has already resolved the issue I’m struggling with. You are not alone when it comes to technology issues. There are also online communities that have already documented the technology challenges you’re dealing with.

Being over 50

Since sewover50 started, I never thought much about being this age and the challenges many people face and are facing. As I’ve already mentioned, I watch my weight fluctuate and sewing allows me to ensure I have clothes that fit, no matter what weight I’m at. The sewover50 team have written a lot about the lack of visibility ‘after 50’ but being a short person, I’ve always been ‘invisible’ so I’m used to making myself seen and heard, when I want to.

The hot flashes are a daily challenge but I make it a fun 60 seconds of sweating. Yes I do make it fun because I never know when it will happen or how long it will last.

For instance, I have a pink cd cover on my desk that I used as a fan when my body temp skyrockets. When I’m on a plane, I fan myself with the airline magazine. If I’m at a restaurant, I fan myself with the menu.

While I’m going through this crazy period of life, I really love running in the cold even though I use a puffer to breath properly when the air is less than 8C. When I’m running in hot, humid conditions, I look like I’m workout harder than anyone else.

The other symptom I’m enjoying is waking up during the night. This becomes my time to plan new projects, cut out fabrics, hand sew or simply chat to you all who are awake when I really should be asleep.

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Want to try it?

If you simply want to document your sewing projects and allow others to share what you’ve learnt, have a look at blogging as a starting point. Some people love Vlogging more once they try it.

I recommend you try blogging or vlogging and see if you enjoy it.

Once it becomes a chore, rethink what makes you happiest and follow that.

An evening teal

Would you believe this jacket is part of my teal wardrobe capsule as part of Minerva Crafts Network bloggers?

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I had really grand ideas of making a French jacket with lots of trimmings and a zipper.

Uhm, I edited these ideas back for a couple of reasons.

Knit fabric:

Last month I learnt a lesson about using woven trims on a base fabric with stretch.

My idea about adding the velvet trim was quietly removed from this month’s plan too.

Velvet trim:

The best option I came up with was to add the velvet trim at the seam line on the inside of this jacket, where the facing meets the teal lining.

I love adding cute trims on the inside of jacket so once I finished this jacket I was full of joy seeing this trim inside the jacket. These work well together.

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Zipper:

The other idea that got put aside for another project was adding a zipper front closure.

When the fabric arrived I was in awe of the sparkles and boucle within this knit fabric. Years ago I made a gold dress using a lace fabric with sequins stitched into the fabric. While making the dress I found that if I pulled the invisible thread, the small sequins in the fabric would fall like snowflakes in Winter.

This boucle fabric also has small sequins threaded into the base fabric with an invisible thread. I learnt last time to work with the fabric and not against it.

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The reason to not use the zipper was not because sewing it in would have been difficult. I decided to not use the zipper because I didn’t want the zipper teeth to catch on the fabric and cause an amazing snowfall of silver mini sequins in my sewing room.

I do love a good jacket with zippers!

Fur hooks:

My alternative solution was to hand sew Prym hooks and eyes that are traditionally developed for hook closures on fur pieces. There’s no real need to wear fur where I live but I’ve been waiting for the right project to use these large hooks ‘one day’ in the future.

The metal wires used in these hooks are totally covered. This means they blend into the fabric really nicely.

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When I hand sewed these hooks onto the fabric, they were easy to hold and sew on. You can sew into the fabric covering of these hooks and make them more secure.

Pattern adjustments:

I’ve been working with Butterick 6062 since I made a couple of these for the Day and Night Dress Challenge that Elizabeth Farr ran earlier this year.

This bulkiness of this fabric made me rethink the sizing I should use. I decided to use size 16 at the hips but blend up through the waist to the bust to size 12.

The sleeves were fine in the earlier versions I made so I left them as is.

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Those instructions:

This time I followed the instructions. In the earlier 2 versions I did my own thing. Somehow I missed the pocket that was in the pattern so I made a much bigger pocket.

When I began to work on this version, low and behold, the pocket piece I thought went missing appeared. It must have been folded in one of the pattern pieces. I was so happy this pocket piece was there all along.

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I’ve lined the pockets with a dark silk organza. Pockets made to sit against the pockets need lots of reinforcement. I chose this organza as a way of keeping this pocket in shape, without needing to add iron-on interfacing.

I used the same silk organza to line the front facings as well. Organza is light and breathes well so it was a logical choice that has paid off.

Lastly, the instructions walk you through hand sewing the sleeve lining to the jacket lining. I had avoided doing this on the first 2 jackets but I hand stitched the sleeve linings this time around.

I’ll hand stitch the sleeve linings in again when I made more versions of this jacket. The shoulder line sits well and I only needed to sew the sleeves in once.

What I look forward to now is when it starts to get cold and I can grab this jacket to wear out in the evenings. The sequins will look great at night and I’ll feel cozy and snug in it without it looking casual.

Let’s call this a win-win fabric and jacket combo.

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Buckingham Palace

I went to London to visit the Queen.

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The weather turned cold and wet but when Her Majesty joined us, the rain held back as did we.

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The people she spoke to were being recognised for the great charity work. I was a mere onlooker who was given the opportunity to be there on the day.

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I wore a couture dress I made last year as part of my Minerva Crafts sponsored projects but 2 weeks before I flew out my gut told me to make a coat to match my outfit and that’s what I did.

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This photo of the Beatrice and Eugenie was taken from afar.

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This photo of Prince Harry (new Dad) was taken close up. Being small, sometimes people scoot me to the front, and that’s how I got this photo on the day.

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I was really cold by mid way through the afternoon.

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Again I was at the front of the line up so there’s no way I was going to let the cold weather dampen my day.

This new coat is a Burda Style pattern and my shift dress was an Avid Seamstress pattern. I made my fascinator and the huge latte colour feathered flowers just for this event.

Yes. I did visit the Queen and loved every part of the journey to get there.