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Silver silk jersey Lekala cowl top

I feel like I made this top so long ago, but the delay in showing it to you really wasn’t my fault! First it got delayed for a week while I went and bought more grey topstitching thread for the shoulder bands (and then immediately afterwards I found my other spool inside the case of my vintage hand crank Singer machine! Isn’t that always the way??), and then I had another week delay in taking photos while we waited for a break in the awful weather (mid-50sF and rainy for the past week, guh).

But cast your mind back with me and you’ll recall that I chose Lekala 4020, only I opted to create echoing sleeve bands on the back to decrease the “coffin back” look:

I’ve got full instructions on this pattern alteration and my order of construction coming shortly (honestly, they’re ready to go – I made the wise decision to write them right after making mine), so if you like the design and you’re roughly a Burda size 44, you may want to snap up this pattern while size 44s are free on Lekala’s site for another few days….

I made this top using some more offcuts of silver silk jersey, either leftover from Gez’s bridesmaid dress or from my sister-in-law’s LMB tunic, I’m not entirely sure which. But this stuff is so lush and drapey and easy to wear that I just can’t bear to let a single scrap go to waste! And the cowl neck here definitely benefits from a nice, drapey fabric, too.

Flashes of gold and silver

the gold

Yesterday I ran a 10km running race to celebrate my 2nd rebirthday of my bone marrow transplant (well, it’s a month early but this race is so much nicer than the July one I ran last year!).

The race went really well, and I truly gave it EVERYTHING I had, running the first 4 kilometers at an astonishingly fast 5min per km pace, and then I tailed back to a bit more realistic 5:30/km pace until the last 200 meters, when I gave an all out sprint for the finish!

Like last year, I ran with the memory of my three departed BMT friends firmly in my mind – this was for Vera, Rob, and David, who fought so so hard, and who even today inspire me to push and fight even harder on their behalf.

I wasn’t quite sure how well I did until I viewed the official chip times on the website last night… 51:21!! That’s only 7 seconds off my pre-illness Personal Best! I really was only trying to beat last year’s time of 53:38, and I honestly didn’t think I’d come anywhere close to that magical 51 minute point for me!

(Vote for my) March Mini Wardrobe

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was first laying out my initial plans for this mini wardrobe, but now I’ve had some time to step back and have a look over what I managed to accomplish last month. I made this wardrobe mostly for myself, to use some luscious fabrics from my stash in combination with patterns that really appealed to me, but I also kept one eye on the contest requirements running over at PaternReview.com to make sure I remained within their rules, too. Here’s my entry into their contest, or you can just read on below…

I started with a blue viscose, draped knit top that I’d bought from ASOS and really liked, but I wanted to wear with both casual and dressy bottoms.

To coordinate, I sewed:

1. Jalie jeans – I’d made a muslin but the waistband was horrible so I had my work cut out for me on this pair using great quality stretch denim from Mood in NYC, plus some London streetsign fabric for the waistband facings and pockets. I used my vintage hand crank Singer machine for all the topstitching, plus I got to use my vintage buttonholer attachment and high quality rivets for the first time! I fixed all the waistband issues in this pair and these are now my favourite jeans. Read more…

Manequim silk birthday blouse

I love this blouse!

It all started in Paris last June when I saw this amazingly gorgeous silk satin (charmeuse) in Tissues Dreyfus that I just had to have. But it was €22/m (zoot alors!) so I only bought 1 metre. But even now I still love it love it love it love it so it was worth it worth it worth it!

Ever since, I kept my eyes open for a good blouse pattern that only needed 1 metre of fabric, and along came Manequim Feb 2011 #158, which called for exactly the amount I had – 1 metre long and 150cm wide!

These two were clearly meant to be together! I don’t often do prints, but this one is just so gorgeous with the psuedo-floral/paint splatters of silver, black, orange, and fuschia that I wanted it to form both the centrepiece of my March Mini Wardrobe as well as be my special birthday garment this year!

Silver silk jersey tunic

Cast your mind back a year ago, when I totally raved over a certain Plus-sized La Mia Boutique tunic pattern (La Mia Boutique 12-2009 #19)…

This pattern was SO in the style of my sister-in-law, Aileen, that I proposed it to her right away, and even made the muslin for her almost exactly a year ago! Thankfully I made all the changes to the pattern as soon as I got home from the fitting session, and I even bought the silver silk jersey she wanted from Classic Textiles on Goldhawk Road… But then I totally lost momentum and the altered pattern pieces have been hanging on my pattern rack making me feel guilty ever since!

So about 3 weeks ago, I finally sucked it up and made this for her (rather belated) birthday gift. All in all, it only took an afternoon from fabric cutting to completion – why didn’t I just do this months ago! We finally visited Aileen yesterday to give this to her, so I can now post about it. I didn’t get to see her in it since she had her hands full with her 6 year old’s birthday party, but she texted later last night to say it fits well and she loves it, so hopefully I’ll get to see it at some later family gathering!

Until then, you’ll have to make do with Susan modelling:

Foldover wool trousers

Let me start by saying that I hate drop-crotch trousers! Hate.

These are not drop-crotch trousers.

I chose these because the crotch is where it should be – they are in no way “Hammer pants”, let’s be clear about that! But there’s a large pleat that runs from the right knee up to the mid-left waistband that creates the drapey folded roominess instead.

I was instantly drawn to KnipMode 01/2011 #5 when I saw it, but since I made these I realise that the idea must’ve been stewing in my subconscious for quite some time, as carottesauvage made an awesome similar pair last year, Burda magazine actually had something similar in the Plus section back in August, and KnipMode had a less severe draped version all the way back in September 2009(!) that I found going back through my archives.

So even though these feel absolutely bleedin’ cutting edge, the idea has been floating around for a while now. I made these with a gorgeously soft made in 80% wool / 20% acrylic flannel (bought from Fabric.com in Dec 2008 for $14/yard) that tends to look either pale green, slate blue, or even brownish depending on the light. In order to shield my skin from the wool and prevent the knees from bagging out, I entirely underlined these in black silk/cotton voile. I had to hand baste these two layers together to keep them nicely aligned and not bubbling, and this took a couple of evenings.

The Winter Coat

Hooray, my winter coat is finally finished! As you may have seen with all the coat sewing activity going on around the internet lately, making your own coat is no mean feat! While you’re perfectly able to take some shortcuts, it’s still a several week time investment no matter how you look at it. It’s for this reason that lots of us chose to sew them over the holidays, as it doesn’t feel like quite such a long ordeal if you’ve got several full days to devote to it at one stretch.

If you remember, I used Patrones 285 #29, but with the collar from #28 and major changes to the pockets so that I can easily put my hands inside while I walk to work (which I did today wearing it! yay!). After a muslin, the main changes I made were to lower the waist seam to match my natural waist, shorten and widen the front darts, add walking ease to the lower centre front, and change the pocket design.

I’ve already made a lengthy post about the coat construction and hair canvas interfacing, plus tons of HAWT handstitching action, so if you’re interested in the couture techniques I used or some interior shots of the coat shell, please click through before reading on…

The Winter Coat – construction

About a year ago I bought some gorgeous, ex-Burberry wool coating fabric from Ditto with plans to eventually make another winter coat. The muted turquoise wool has a patterned herringbone weave on one side but it’s also very thick and un-drapey but has the advantage of not fraying at all (almost like a boiled wool or Melton).

The fabric is so thick that I knew had to choose my pattern wisely, leaving out coats with lots of pleats or gathers that would’ve meant lots of bulk here.

As soon as I saw the Armani knockoff coat in the September Burda issue, I thought I’d found the match for my fabric, but as you recall, that pattern was just downright awful. So I started looking through my coat patterns again for something suitable, and Claire (Seemane) suggested I combine Patrones 285 #29 with some elements of the other coats in that issue, which is more or less what I ended up doing (though I need to change my tech drawing here to show the applied welt pockets I finally decided on rather than buttoned welts).

Our DIY wedding – the dresses, makeup, and final photos

Either groan or rejoice, but this is the last of the wedding posts!

The bridesmaids dresses

If you cast your mind back, you’ll remember the selection process, how I fitted and then hand-pleated, the lined, silk jersey dresses for my two bridesmaids, but even after I finished them, there wasn’t a chance to see either P or G wearing their dresses, let alone together!

It was really nice on the wedding day to be able to see both of my great friends looking so happy and nice, and comfortable, too, in the bridesmaids dresses I made for them.

Their colour choices really suited them both, too, and even though I offered to shorten them after the wedding, I know P (in purple) is definitely keeping hers as a wonderfully posh maxidress. (S was my Man of Honour, but no, I didn’t make his suit!)

My dress

You’ve seen it in pieces and finally, in comparison with my grandmother’s original gown, but here’s some more photos where you can see the seamlines particularly well: