Techno and sequins

Now that all the 2009 projects are out f the way, here is the first of my sewing partnerships I dreamed up around the end of the year! This skirt & top partnership consists of an “egg skirt” from the April 2009 Manequim magazine

…and a cowl-neck sleeveless blouse from Simplicity 2580 (which is a dress pattern that I modified before to become a very versatile top).

I always pictured these two fabrics together, and I am loving the resulting outfit! I really think I got it right in matching both the fabrics and the patterns! I originally saw it as club/party wear, and it turned out that I finished it just in time for a big party on Saturday night!

Sequin running vest and purple leggings

I’m going to break from tradition here and actually post my next two outfits out of sequence from when I made them, mostly because I just shared my elastic waistband tutorial with you, but also because I’m really freaking excited about sewing exercise gear right now. Honestly, it’s starting to become nearly lingerie-levels of hysteria with me – super quick to make, easy to fit, and lots of wild colours and patterns in small doses! But you’ll get to see my “civilian” top and trousers later this week, so no worries if you’re starting to glaze over at all the lycra…

For this set of running gear, I’ve paired up the Papercut “Ooh La Leggings” pattern (UK stockist here) with my self drafted knit block (from Metric Pattern Cutting). And in the case of the top, I altered the seam lines and armhole shape to suit!

You may remember the ex-Prada sequin trompe l’oeil fabric from a few years ago when I used it to make a cowl top. I wear that all the time, but I only had a small piece leftover in my stash, and it was far too lovely to throw away. But with a bit of creative thinking, it was enough for this! Though I think I’ll lower the curve a bit for my next running vest so the peak is just at my underbust…

As you can see with the leggings (or maybe not, the purple fabric is quite dark!), there are no side seams here! The shaped front and back yokes give some really cool, curved seams, and they merge nicely into front- and back-leg seams instead.

A terracotta Hummingbird skirt

The latest in my my upcoming Mexico trip travel wardrobe is the latest Cake Patterns design – the Hummingbird skirt! There are two views included: a shorter pencil skirt with plain back, and the pink view, which has an awesome “tailfeather flounce” in the back. Of course I chose the fancy version, what else!? I’d seen that the orange view sews up quite short, and I was expecting this to be rather long, but it hits right at my knees which is perfect.

I discussed it before when I sewed up their Cabarita top, but Cake Patterns’ “draw your own size” system is pretty cool – here you pick your pattern size based on your hip measurement (my size was a 40), then choose your waist measurement (mine was a 32), and draw a line between them. The only part that got really confusing was figuring out where the darts should be drawn, as there’s numbers and dots all over the place!

The only problem is that I’d cut out my pattern pieces a few weeks ago, and as you’ve seen, I’ve lost a significant amount of girth in the past two months, and when I went to try on the skirt mid-construction, it was hanging off me – seriously, I took six inches in total off the side seams! This isn’t anything to do with Cake’s sizing – this has got everything to do with me dropping a bunch of weight between choosing a size and sewing it up. Happily, I was able to take in the skirt at the side seams and the back darts and get a really nice fit before finally adding the waistband on.

The fabric is a terracotta cotton sateen which I picked up for free (you can’t beat free!) in the swap at the recent Goldhawk Road meetup. It’s definitely best as a bottom weight, and it sews and presses really nicely, but it does have a tendency to fray quite badly. I originally thought the Hummingbird was lined, but then when I realised it wasn’t (and that I couldn’t be arsed to draft my own lining), I decided to overlock the edges of all the pieces before sewing. This prevents fraying, and should prolong the life of the skirt, too.

Worn here with my Prada Trompe L’oeil Sequin Top

The Fuchsia party dress

Ooh I am so excited to show off this dress to you, and even moreso because it has a great origin story!

Did you know there’s a new sewing, knitting, and jewellry-making social network in town – Kollabora? It’s from some of the people behind the original and I helped beta-test their new site a few months ago.

As a big Thank You for sending in tons of detailed bug reports (a nice side-effect of my day job, which involves a lot of online testing, is that I can write a mean Steps to Replication!), they offered to send me any fabric and pattern combo from their shop! They stock loads of great independent patterns like Colette, Wiksten, and Sewaholic, but I thought I should pick something I wouldn’t normally buy myself. So keeping that in mind, I chose this very! bright! fuchsia stretch cotton sateen from Mood + matching thread + Simplicity 1873 (one of the Cynthia Rowley designer patterns).

I made View C – the low neckline & short hem option, but without the button tabs at the waist. I ended up making size 14 instead of my usual Big Four size 16 because 14 was the biggest size in the envelope I was sent, but it turned out just perfect in the end – nicely snug at the waist, but not overly tight. With a skirt this full and pleated, I really think it needs a nipped-in waist, and that’s another reason I didn’t want to add any bulk in the form of the button tabs there, either.

First running gear muslins

I love it when different areas of my life start overlapping! I’ve been a runner for about 7-8 years but I’ve only really sewn running gear a few times (mostly because my mom knows what I like and gets good stuff on sale for me!). But I’ve got the itch to sew the lycra again, and so I made the first steps towards making my own running gear designs a reality.

First step was to make quick and dirty muslins to check the fit and mark style lines. The Jalie 3135 skinsuit pattern was my basis for my running leggings (minus the top half and the front zipper opening!). I used the “silk touch” lycra jersey from Tia Knight as my muslin fabric here since it was the cheapest 4-way stretch she had, but it’s surprisingly really nice! It’s got a hand like a silk jersey, but seems a bit too drapey to be ideal in exercise gear, though it should be fine for the occasional accents or panels if I want to.

So I made my muslin, tried it on, and while I was wearing it, drew lot of placement and design lines straight on the fabric with a Sharpie:

  • I drew in my waistline just under the pattern’s torso double line
  • I marked the knees on front & back, and also where the curve of my bum lies (helpful for placing design lines later!)
  • I took out some excess in the ankle (no cankles here!) and about 4 inches off the length (the legs are reeeeeeeeally long – maybe to cover skates?)
  • And then, finally, I drew in some curved design lines where I thought they might look nice around my thighs and calves

The end result looks a bit like a liposuction patient (which is why I’m not modelling it!!), but it definitely served its purpose!

Hungarian holiday report

We’re back from our Hungarian holiday and feeling wonderfully relaxed, though it’s debatable how long that’ll last! This was my fourth time in Budapest in the last ten years (and James’s third!), but it was the longest we’ve been able to spend there and our first trip outside the city.

Our main reason for going was so we could celebrate our first anniversary at our favourite restaurant, Karpatia (last time we were there, Michael Palin and his film crew were in the other room!), but to also soak away our boat work aches in the city’s plentiful hot spas! In four full days in Budapest, we visited three different hot spas: Szechenyi, Palatinus Strand on Margaret Island, and Hotel Gellert. Think swimming pools, but filled with bath-water warm mineral water (no chlorine!) with assorted jets, bubblers, massaging fountains, wave pools, slides, and whirpool baths and you’re still only halfway there…

In an astounding bit of coincidence, we enjoyed amaaaazing traditional Hungarian food, tokaj, and palinka stalls at the Nemzeti Vagta (“National Gallop”) festival. It was mostly about Hungarian horsemanship with incredible costumes, chariot races, and Heroes’ Square set up like a Ben Hur set, but there were also stalls representing every region in Hungary, some showcasing amazing embroidery:

I really like that you can focus on the stitching when you only use one thread colour! Unfortunately, I didn’t see any needlework kits for traditional designs on sale anywhere.

Then we took the train out to Balatonfured on Lake Balaton for a few days, and I made great use of the train time to finish the last hand sewing on my trench jacket! (I’m also wearing my silk jersey Lekala cowl top here.)

While we were there, we rented bicycles from our hotel and cycled the 6km to the next town, Tihany, and back along the river. My trench jacket and my navy riding trousers came in very handy here as it was the only cool and cloudy day of our trip!

My Image Fall/Winter 2011

The newest issue of My Image Magazine came out a few weeks ago, and since I’ve liked their previous two issues so much, I went any bought this new one without much hesitation! Besides the fact that they’re a new magazine with a great small business story, they’re always really friendly over email, and keen to improve things like translation and note any corrections on their website. In other words, they’re exactly the sort of company I want to support! I’ve only made one of their patterns so far, but there’s quite a few in this issue which are begging to be made!

And scroll down to the bottom for an exclusive discount for FehrTrade readers, too!

My Image is published twice a year, so this is the Fall/Winter issue:

First off, I really like this colourblocked knit dress! They have you use two different knits in the pattern layout, and I like the effect here with a print and a matching solid. I also really like the floppy collar and the skirt shape (which kinda reminds me of my Manequim egg skirt!).

Molde & Cia magazine – #65

Following on from yesterday’s review of the Brazilian pattern magazine Moda Moldes, I’ve got another magazine my friend brought back from her holidays in Brazil, Molde & Cia magazine.

I couldn’t find a month/year anywhere on the cover or masthead, but I believe this must also be the April 2011 issue as it shares a celebrity photo with Moda Moldes. I couldn’t find an official site for MM, but Molde & Cia have one, and its issues are much easier to find on US Ebay, too. I’d be interested to learn from any Portuguese speakers if it’s possible to order individual issues of Molde & Cia or Moda Moldes anywhere outside Brazil (that aren’t eBay), however, as Manequim requires a subscription for international customers.

Without further ado, here are my picks from this issue!

I really like the gathered bands on this mint green sundress, and it looks to be a pretty universally flattering style.

This cutaway top and skirt are based on the same model photo as seen in the same month’s Moda Moldes magazine (on the right)!

The Caramel turtleneck

“Oh”, I hear you think*, “another one of those Burda turtlenecks?!?!”

Endless others have already made this, and I admit I was hesitant to make it myself because:

  1. When a pattern gets made a LOT, it kinda makes me want to sew it less (maybe it’s shades of “I sew so I don’t wear the same thing as everyone else” coming through?)
  2. I love love loved the Burda September issue and it almost feels like a cop-out to make the super easy pattern from it first when there’s just so many great patterns in there

But in the end, I still really needed more long sleeved tops and I already had the fabric and the overlocker and coverstitch were still threaded in the right colours. So it’s fate.

So here is my version of the Burda Sept 2010 turtleneck, in caramel-coloured bamboo jersey

La Mia Boutique November 2010

With KnipMode pulling out all the stops for their fantastic new December issue, would La Mia Boutique rise to the challenge and present an issue full of wonderful, glitzy holiday wear?

Err, sadly, no. But let’s have a look anyway…

This minidress has some interesting pleating going on at the centre front, but it’s a detail I’ve seen countless times in RTW, and one that Burda published patterns for at least two years ago. But it’s still a nice, very wearable look, and hems can always be lengthened.

This knit cowl dress with shoulder yokes would look great in a luxe, drapey fabric like silk jersey…