Wednesday, 30 December 2015

End of year sewing

Hi everyone, hope you've all had a relaxing holiday period. I'm happily still on holidays from work, and for the first time in many many years we have stayed home  this year instead of leaving at the crack of dawn on Boxing Day for 2 weeks in Queensland visiting the in-laws. It's quite nice actually to have time at home with no particular plans each day. I have been sewing too - finishing up two Burda of the month projects and taking stock of UFOs that I'm planning to finish next year.

But first to blog about the few Christmas presents I made for the kids this year. I didn't want to put any pressure on myself this year so I chose to only make a few things which turned out to be surprisingly easy and quick to make. I had these made and wrapped a few days before Christmas eve - no last minute finishing and midnight wrapping for me this year!

Since Anna has had a huge growth spurt this year, a new skirt of decent length was desperately needed. I made her a skirt from an old Burda magazine - 1/2008 #135, in a bright blue ikat print cotton from the stash purchased a few too many years ago to remember exactly where from:

burda 1/2008 #135 girls pleated skirt www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

burda 1/2008 #135 girls pleated skirt www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

 I changed it slightly by using two ribbons around the waist instead of one wide one, mainly because I didn't have any wide ribbon in the stash but also because I thought it looked kind of cute. The ribbon is supposed to go under the pleats through button holes (i.e. between the skirt and the waistband facing), but somehow I did the spacing wrong and the two centre ones are hidden under the bow. Still works though, so I'm leaving it this way:

burda 1/2008 #135 girls pleated skirt www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

burda 1/2008 #135 girls pleated skirt www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Her dad is very pleased to see her wearing a skirt of appropriate length and Anna seems to like it as well, so a win all around.

burda 1/2008 #135 girls pleated skirt www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

burda 1/2008 #135 girls pleated skirt www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

I also made two singlet style dresses for Anna, self drafted by tracing around one of her RTW singlets that fit quite well. One is made maxi length and one is knee length, and since both are made in knit fabrics sewn on the overlocker except for topstitching the hems it took a little over an hour to make both. The purple gingham knit is from The Fabric Store and I used a plain white cotton knit for contrasting bands, and the stripe knit is part of my recent purchase from Janie's Fabrics.

stripe girl singlet dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

girls singlet maxi dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

girls singlet maxi dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

purple gingham girl singlet dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

purple gingham girl singlet dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

purple gingham girl singlet dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

I didn't forget Toby either, although this shirt is a few months late. You see I bought this very cute robot print cotton poplin from Spotlight back in March to make Toby a birthday shirt but then never got around to it (second child syndrome....). I have no excuses for not making this earlier, it seriously took me two hours but better late than never!

Simplicity 2907 boy shirt in robot print www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

I used snaps down the centre front instead of buttons, mainly because I didn't have any orange buttons but also to help Toby dress himself since he's decided to do everything himself these days.

Simplicity 2907 boy shirt in robot print www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

I made it from Simplicity 2907, which is a pattern I've used before and so have loads of other bloggers - it's a simple but cute pattern which includes a shirt, vest and cargo shorts for boys and a shirt dress for girls.  I made a size 3, expecting the usual excessive ease from Simplicity but this actually turned out to be a snug fit. Lucky it's his birthday in a few months and I'll have a reason to make another one!

Simplicity 2907 boy shirt in robot print www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Simplicity 2907 boy shirt in robot print www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Happy new year everyone - thanks for reading along with my sewing adventures this year. Here's to another happy, productive and creative sewing year next year!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Burda 3/2013 #110 - the Bird of Paradise Dress


I've always been rather jealous of those bloggers who can think up witty titles for their posts or give their latest project a cute/twee/funny/appropriate name. Sadly I lack that skill, and my posts are generally a literal description of the pattern name - this one is no different! It's a Burda pattern, made from fabric with what looks like a bird of paradise flower print on it.

This dress is made from Burda 3/2013 #110, which was my Burda of the month project way back in March 2013:

Burda 3/2013 #110 floral dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Burda 3/2013 #110 blue dress with ribbons www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

My previous version above was very much copied from the Burda version, right down to the colour of the fabric and the ribbon embellishments! This time I opted to keep it simple because the fabric itself is pretty vibrant and I only added some navy blue ribbon around the waist seam. Because I've made this pattern before and the blue dress still fits, I was able to whip this version out mostly in one evening, finishing the hem in the morning just before going to work so I could wear it that day to my team Christmas lunch. Of course I could have worn something I already owned, but there's nothing like a new dress to make me feel suitably celebratory.

With such a busy print I didn't bother trying to pattern match at any of the seams, so you can see the back and the sides do not match up at all. Normally this would really bother me, especially since at the centre back there is a duplicate of the print, but as you all repeatedly point out whenever I am critical of my projects - no one notices these things at all. So I'm not worrying about it at all.

Burda 3/2013 #110 floral dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Burda 3/2013 #110 floral dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

If I do make this again, which I probably will since it's a simple and classic shape I will raise the neckline a little. It's not scandalously low as it is, but it does sit a little too wide on my shoulders and my bra strap tends to poke out. But otherwise this pattern is great - it's very simple to make, the skirt has a gentle a-line shape to it so it doesn't need a walking vent at the back and I quite like those angled darts (although the front bodice darts probably finish a little high on my bust point which I should change for the next version).

Burda 3/2013 #110 floral dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

If you're wondering about the fabric, it's a stretch cotton that I bought from a new to me on-line store based in Melbourne - Janie's Fabric - which I discovered thanks to the ladies who post in the sewing down under thread over at Pattern Review. The fabrics are quite cheap (this one is $6.99/m and it's 148cm wide) so I was pretty sceptical about the quality of the fabrics.

I was pleasantly surprised when my parcel arrived - in addition to this floral stretch cotton I also bought a vibrant voile, a cotton jersey, a rayon jersey and a poly satin and all are really high quality with only the poly satin feeling a bit plasticky (which is to be expected really!).  Postage is free if you spend $100 and my purchase arrived really quickly so all around it was a good shopping experience. If you're on a fabric stash diet I'd suggest not looking at this site at all - you'll be tempted I'm sure.

So, only 9 days to Christmas now - once again this year has just flown by. We are staying home this year so I'm feeling remarkably calm about it all, although I still have a few things I want to sew before Christmas day so no doubt I'll end up running around like crazy anyway!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Review: Two Blue Birdies Stash Box

I was recently invited by Two Blue Birdies, a Melbourne based fabric and haberdashery online store to try out their Stash Box. I was very happy to discover their haberdashery range - they sell Aurifil thread and Tulip Hiroshima fine sewing needles, which in a recent workshop I did on fine sewing techniques the instructor highly recommended using Aurifil thread and good quality needles. Plus they also sell uber cool Merchant & Mills sewing patterns and tools.

The Stash Box is an interesting concept.  Each month you will receive a box of sewing and craft related goodies in the mail - you don't know what is in until it arrives which only adds to the excitement, and it sure beats only getting boring bills! It was pretty exciting opening the box to reveal this:


It's essentially a subscription service and you can choose between the Big Stash Box for $49.95/month; The Stash or the Felt Stash both for $34.95/m. You can cancel the subscription at any time which is useful if you find yourself getting behind on your creating and your Stash Boxes piling up unused. You can also buy single boxes of previous months directly from their online store if there are any left over which is a great way to try this out without any commitment.

The contents are pretty cute and useful:


There are 4 fat quarters, some cute flower buttons and pom pom trim, a sewing pattern for a stuffed toy, two pieces of felt, a fabric marker and two spools of Aurifill thread.

I must admit, as a garment sewer I'm a little perplexed about what to make with a fat quarter! Since I'm not into quilting at all, the pieces seem a little small to make anything useful although I am determined to do something with them because the fabrics have such lovely prints and vibrant colours. The fabric marker, threads, pom pom trim and buttons will definitely get used in the very near future though - those sorts of things are always handy to have, and my daughter has already been planning a dress for herself using those buttons and pom pom trim.

My verdict: I think it's a great concept, receiving a mystery box in the mail each month that will be filled with great crafty things is exciting and might give you inspiration to create at least one project a month. But as a garment sewer I'm not sure it's entirely my thing given it's focus on craft patterns and small pieces of fabric - I would prefer to buy the specific haberdashery items I need from them directly. However, if your sewing is mainly focused on crafty things and quilts then I think this box might suit you to a tee. It would also make a great present for a crafty friend - the gift that keeps on giving (for the life of the subscription anyway)!

Sunday, 6 December 2015

October Burda of the month: 10/2015 #110 cowl neck top

I'm running a little behind on my Burda of the month project, but better late than never. The last few issues of the Burda magazine have been great and I've found it hard to pick a project because of too much choice, but I do love a cowl neck and so I couldn't go past this lovely cowl neck top with an interesting v-neck for this month's project. This is Burda 10/2015 #110:

Burda 10/2015 #110 sleeveless high neck blouse www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com
Burda 10/2015 #110 sleeveless high neck blouse www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com
image via Burda Style
Burda calls this their sleeveless high neck blouse, which is a good description because that cowl neck certainly sits quite high and doesn't drape low like most cowl necks. This is because it is actually cut like a funnel neck so that even though it drapes it does stick up:

Burda 10/2015 #110 sleeveless high neck blouse www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Burda 10/2015 #110 sleeveless high neck blouse www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Burda 10/2015 #110 sleeveless high neck blouse www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

I've made my version in a lightweight poly-linen in a glorious kelly green colour that I picked up for a few dollars at the Fabric Cave a few months ago - it came in a 4.5m length so expect to see some more things in this colour soon. The fabric had enough drape to make the neckline work, but it doesn't have any stretch at all. I found this pattern to be rather tight through the body even though I made my usual 34 at the bust grading out to 38 at the hip line, so I had to let out all the two vertical darts on the front and back to have enough wearing ease. Since they are released darts they really need to be deeper to form that pleat at the top but actually fitting into it was also necessary!

Speaking of fitting into to it, I tried out the tips that a few of you left in the comments recently about sewing in zips in the side seam by sewing down the first inch or so of the seam and then installing the zip so that the zipper doesn't finish under the arm. But doing this I found that I just couldn't get my arms into the top at all - I think this one is a bit too fitted around the bust to use this method. Now I need to decide how to close that top bit because I may have been a bit too lazy to undo the zip completely and move it up to the top of the seam!

Burda 10/2015 #110 sleeveless high neck blouse www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

I really like the back neckline of this pattern - the v-neck bands are extended from the front neckline. Thankfully this pattern has the illustrated instructions to help figure it out because it is a bit tricky figuring it out. Essentially the shoulder seam of the back needs to be sewn to the front at the shoulder seam, then you need to clip into the fabric and pivot to sew along the rest of the back band. It does make a neat finish on the shoulder seam:

Burda 10/2015 #110 sleeveless high neck blouse www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Although I found getting the point at the back neckline a bit tricky to get it to sit flat - mine has a small bump but it's not too noticeable:

Burda 10/2015 #110 sleeveless high neck blouse www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

This back view really shows how odd fitting this top is on me - a bit too tight at the waist and a bit too loose above that causing that blousing out effect. I'll live with it on this version, but if I make this again I would change the fit to closed darts and add some more room around the waist so that it sits flat against my body. There is a centre back seam so it should make it easy to do a sway back adjustment too. Oh and ignore that annoying skirt waistband - the hook and eyes always pop open and I need to replace it with something more secure.

Lengthwise I found this top a little long and veering into frumpy territory:

Burda 10/2015 #110 sleeveless high neck blouse www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

But since this version is too tight to wear untucked anyway I left as is without cutting it any shorter, but it is something to keep in mind if you are planning to make this pattern.

Burda 10/2015 #110 sleeveless high neck blouse www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

And in case you're interested, I made this skirt way back in 2008 from a vintage Vogue pattern. It was actually the third blog post I ever wrote - back when my photos were terrible and my writing wasn't so great either! I recently found this skirt packed away in my refashion box, so I refreshed it by taking off the white band that I had sewn around the hem. 

So overall I really like this pattern - the neckline is interesting and a nice feature. I found the instructions ok for a change, but I did have to read them through a few times to figure out that shoulder and centre back seams. If I make this top again, especially if I make the dress version (which is the same pattern just longer) I would make it a little wider through the waist and hips and change those released darts into normal darts to get a better fit.

Check out Two On Two Off and Sew Crafty Chemist for this pattern made up in knit fabrics, including the optional snood thingy that can be worn over the top. 

Monday, 30 November 2015

Burda 7286: from UFO to wearable white jacket

Ahhh, UFOs. As hard as I have tried in the last few years not to create any new ones, the sad reality is that sometimes I get frustrated by a project and then distracted by a new project. I started this jacket about two years ago, got a bit frustrated with some fit issues and put it down for a while. And then it got lost in the mess that was my sewing room, only to be rediscovered recently during a clean up. But now it's done, I'm relieved to have finished it but I'm a bit meh about it sadly.....

Burda 7286 white tailored jacket www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

The pattern is Burda 7286, which I bought two years ago and is already out of print. I think it's a lovely pattern, but there are no reviews on Pattern Review and I could only find one other finished jacket from this pattern so I guess it wasn't too popular.

Burda 7286 white tailored jacket www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com
Since it was a Burda pattern and I've sewn so many of them I felt pretty confident that it would work without the need for a muslin. I assume the envelope patterns are drafted the same as the magazine patterns because they are from the same company, but this jacket was very big around the shoulders and bust which was a bit annoying.

Looking at the pattern is looks like it is drafted with very square shoulders for shoulder pads which I despise, so I narrowed and re-sewed the shoulder seams to match my sloping shoulders. I put in a sleeve header and interfaced the sleeve head and shoulder area, but it still seems to collapse terribly and cause those awful wrinkles on the sleeves:

Burda 7286 white tailored jacket www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

I quite like the front though - it has an inset collar which is probably my favourite style and I do like the curved fronts. I left off the patch pockets because and made faux welt pockets instead because I think that looks a bit more formal. However, those pockets are just the welts because I thought the pocket bag might show through too much - the fabric is a stretch cotton sateen that I have block interfaced with whisper weft interfacing but it still shows the seam lines through a little bit.

Burda 7286 white tailored jacket www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

It is a very shaped jacket though, and looks far better done up than worn open:

Burda 7286 white tailored jacket www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

The back is princess seam which gives a lot of opportunity for fitting. I thought it looked ok in the mirror, but I guess taking photos is more accurate than twisting your head around to look in the mirror! I can see from this photo that I have a bit of excess fabric at the waist:

Burda 7286 white tailored jacket www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Funnily enough it's a very similar style to another white jacket I made earlier this year from a vintage Vogue pattern, even down to the same button (it was a packet of two!).  Since that version is made from a wool blend it's more a winter jacket so I think they can both stay in my wardrobe - I highly doubt anyone pays that much attention in real life to what I wear anyway!



Burda 7286 white tailored jacket www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

So it probably seems I'm being a bit negative about this pattern but I like the jacket enough to wear it.  The pattern came together very easily because these style of collars are far easier than a traditional notched collar style and as usual Burda's drafting is spot on - all the pieces and notches matched up exactly as they should. And being one of their envelope patterns there were actually some diagrams to help decipher their vague instructions which is a bonus!

So will I make it again? Yes probably, especially in a winter weight fabric because wool is so much easier to steam and mould into a well fitting jacket. Plus I found this gorgeous version on the Tessuti blog which has totally inspired me to do a better version next time.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Vogue 9625: simple sundress in gorgeous Swedish fabric

Vogue 9625 pleated polka dot dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com



For this project I have used some beautiful Scandinavian fabric from Yulki's Home D├ęcor. I love Scandinavian fabric as much as I love Japanese fabric - such vibrant colours and playful prints.
Yulki's Home Decor is an on-line store based in Hobart in beautiful Tasmania, selling fabrics, tablecloths, cushions and offering curtain making services. They stock a beautiful range of fabrics, which though on the pricier side are definitely very high quality and they are 150cm wide so you do get a lot of fabric per metre. Also, they  offer free postage with Australia which is a huge selling point for me when I'm doing on-line shopping. And my Swedish friends tell me that Marimekko and Spira fabrics are expensive in Sweden too, so I think the prices are very competitive.



The hardest part of this offer was picking a fabric, because there were so many beautiful prints to choose from:

L to R: Marimekko,  Spira, Marimekko & Spira
In the end I picked Mustard Vilma by Swedish Spira fabrics which is a 100% cotton with a weight similar to a heavy drill or canvas. I pre-washed in cold water and line dried, and there was only a small amount of shrinkage but thankfully no loss of colour at all unlike my recent disappointment with the navy blue cotton sateen. After washing the fabric softened quite a lot so it's the perfect weight for garment making.

The next hardest bit was picking a project - I think curtains from this fabric would look fabulous in my living room with it's white walls and dark timber floor. But I decided to go with a dress because I hate sewing curtains and because it's summer and a colourful dress is exactly what I need right now.

I chose to make a simple sun dress with a full skirt to show off the print to it's fullest advantage because it's a pretty large scale print. I used Vogue 9625 which is from 1998 and is now of course OOP. I've made this pattern once before in my pre-blogging days as well as making a few skirts so I knew it would fit without doing a muslin (or risk ruining this beautiful fabric). Luckily I had written on the pattern envelope that I needed to shorten the bodice by 2.5cm. I made view B, the red version, without sleeves:


Vogue 9625 pleated polka dot dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

The pattern has a side zip which normally I hate in a dress because I find the top of the zipper tape sticks into my underarm flesh in an irritating way but was perfect for this fabric because it saved me having to pattern match in the centre back. I left off the hook and eye at the top of the zipper though, because I can never seem to be able to do it up myself. The bodice is fully lined so the neckline and armhole seams are neatly finished:

Vogue 9625 pleated polka dot dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

The pattern has an inset waistband, which I cut on the waistband grain to make a feature of it and again to avoid having to pattern match (are you sensing a theme here?). It was only after I had finished the dress that I realised that I should have put some white piping in the waistband seams to make it stand out more, but I think it looks good enough not to worry about undoing it now!

Vogue 9625 pleated polka dot dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

The pattern is a simple box pleat skirt with a flat centre front and back, so it's not too puffy but still has a nice full skirt. The design of the pleats isn't as clever as the previous Vogue pleated skirt I made recently but this one certainly used up a lot less fabric than that skirt:

Vogue 9625 pleated polka dot dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

And after all my aversion to pattern matching, I think I did a pretty good job on the sides of the skirt even though the skirt pieces are cut in an a-line shape and the hem is dipped a bit - it sort of still lines up in a way although the ovals aren't exactly matched:

Vogue 9625 pleated polka dot dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

And you'll note I had to venture outside to take these photos despite my neighbours all having a good sticky beak because this dress just blended in too well with the wallpaper in my sewing room where I normally take my photos! 



So overall, I love this dress and I particularly love this fabric. If you're in the market for some Scandinavian fabrics definitely check out Yulki's Home Decor and support an Australian business while you're filling your stash with lovely fabrics.


Note: I received the fabric used for this project free of charge, but all opinions are my own.