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Flora, Flora, Flora

9 Mar

Hola sewing folkaroos! It’s been a while. Life’s been crazy. Bought house, moved house, got dog, mini-breaks, christmas, new year, work blah blah I won’t bore you with my day to day life!

However, in amongst the mayhem I found some sneaky time to pattern test By Hand London‘s newest pattern, Flora! Have you seen her yet? I was delighted with the invite to test the pattern, and found the deadline very motivating to actually complete a garment in amongst everything else.

I went with Variation 1 – faux wrap bodice with pleated dipped hem circle skirt (otherwise known as a mullet skirt). I had next-door-to-zilch time to create this baby, so I lived live on the edge and proceeded without a muslin. The lovely Colette from Tessuti kindly donated the lovely floral viscose linen blend that I made Flora up in too.

ZoSews - Flora dress

I chose my skirt size based on waist measurements because hip didn’t really matter so much due to the voluminous nature of the beast, and bodice on bust size. I made size 10/14. I should have gone down at least a size because I would have preferred a tighter fit – she’s a bit loose. However because I was in such a mad rush and also decided to give you guys the best idea of the pattern fit out of the box by not making any changes, it is what it is. And I still loves ‘er.

ZoSews - Flora dress

The pattern says you need 160cm wide fabric. It’s not a lie let me tell you! I was working with 135cm and had to pinch out a whole lot of volume from the both front and back of the skirt – shown in photo below.

Cutting Flora Dress Skirt

See the sections pinched out?

I also tried to make her up with the longest size hem – I don’t like short thingys 🙂 – but it didn’t work for some reason, so I chopped all the excess back off and went back ‘on pattern’. Which means she’ll probably be more of a winter rather than summer number for me – teamed with tights and boots of course.

ZoSews - Flora dress

So what else can I tells ya?

  • Hemmed by hand – still can’t handle machine hemming – and it’s quite cathartic in front of the TV anyway.
  • Bodice is lined with a white cotton batiste.
  • I love invisible zips.
  • Next time I’ll go down a size and lengthen the waist.
  • I’d like to try the non-mullet version, and I’d also like to frankenpattern the bodice with a pencil skirt
  • From what I’ve been reading, many other testers were smarter than me and thought to french seam the skirt because you can see the inside of the mullet from the front – I wasn’t that tricksy and have simply overlocked to finish. I don’t think it looks terrible though.

ZoSews - Flora dress

Oh man I need a haircut… that fringe, gah…

ZoSews - Flora dress

So that’s Flora, give her a go!

And what’s a post mentioning a new fur-baby without a pic ‘ey? Meet George, my newest obsession 🙂 Don’t let those eyes fool you, he’s a savage monster ;p

George

Z xx

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Anna goes tropical

17 Nov

By now, pretty much the whole entire blogosphere has made the By Hand London Anna Dress. So yes, I am late to the party (or with this fabric should I be saying I’m late to the luau?), but I am still at the party! Woot!

By Hand London Anna Dress

I sewed along with the sewalong, but faltered at the last curve being late, late, late with photos.

Now she’s not a hard make, but if you’re not feeling confident, the sewalong had great tips and pics, making her even easier to sew up.

By Hand London Anna Dress

I made the maxi dress version with the boat neck, but got a little crazy and added a second split to the skirt. However craziness was dialled down when I reduced the height of the split – no-one needs to see that shiz.

By Hand London Anna Dress

I traced the pattern onto Swedish tracing paper in a 14 – it was way too big and I ended taking off about 6-7 cms off the side seams at the end. Make a toile people – it will save the unpicking!! And while I’m handing out hot tips – if you’re a tracer, GET AMONGST the Swedish tracing paper, it’s so much easier to work with than any other kind of paper.

By Hand London Anna Dress

I cut about 5cm off the hem, and my current hems are still huge! 8-10cms I reckon. I love that these BHL ladies design for us taller style people, this is the only pattern brand where I’ve ever had to shorten!

By Hand London Anna Dress

I overlocked most seams to finish them off, and hand blind stitched the splits and the skirt hem.

This lovely lady is made a tropical rayon from Spotlight that I nearly wet myself when I found amongst the fabric rolls because it was exactly what I was looking for for Anna – and I got the last 5 metres of it – HAH!

By Hand London Anna Dress

If you’re gonna get all technical like, the fit is probably not perfecto. For example, the waist seam is hitting me too high, but c’est la vie, I’ll fix it next time. On the other hand, my invisible zip insertion is divine – even if I do so say myself. What’s even more interesting is that I can’t remember the last time I actually hung out with an invisible zip. Needless to say, I was happy.

I can’t wait for some more Anna appropriate weather. However, I did wear her last week with boots and jacket, and I think she worked those boots 😉

Come at me – what are you working on right now?

Z xx

Wiggling in wool

20 Oct

A long, long time ago I finished a satin polyester muslin of Gertie’s Wiggle Dress. It fit – huzzah! I cracked straight into a wool crepe version and powered on through. Until it came to the hand sewing of the hem, zipper and sleeves. That all sat to the side for a good couple of months.

Anyhoo, it’s finished now, so I thought I’d share some pics with y’all.

Now I got a little editing happy with the photos, please excuse the frivolity! The man in my life told me I looked like an air hostess from the 50s, so I thought I’d run with it hahaha.

Gertie's wiggle dress by ZoSews

Please locate your nearest exit.

I find that taking pictures for the blog give a 30 year old lady an excuse to play dress ups – and what’s wrong with that ey?!

Gertie's wiggle dress by ZoSews

The lovely brooch I won in a giveaway from the delightful JuliaBobbin, shoes are from Wittner and pilfered from a friend just for these photos and I used the satin bias binding kindly sent to me from Alacraft to bind all the hems (skirt and sleeves). The binding was easy to sew and added a nice finishing touch compared to overlocking I think.

You can see most detail about the make in the previous version for this dress. Those darstedly gussets were just as tricky too!

Now I gotta run so I can insert my zip into Anna and finish up the Sewalong!

Z xx

PS – Anyone else doing the Anna sewalong? I’ve been trying to comment on the blog posts but no joy…

Every day I’m wiggling

26 May

Well not everyday, but I couldn’t get that line out of my head, so down it went.

So the big news is that I have finished my wearable muslin wiggle dress – woot! And, I love it – double woot! If you follow me on Instagram you may have caught a little sneaky peak last week. There is one slight zipper related issue that we won’t talk about, but it’s really quite minute and no-one else would ever notice it. Well that’s what I tell myself anyway.

Gertie's Wiggle Dress 1

And as this was originally planned as a Mad Med dress for Julia’s challenge (watched that deadline fly on by) it was inspired by this Joan Holloway number.

Now you’ve seen my gussets, but there’s a still a few other things to talk about here.

Gertie's Wiggle Dress 1

Hems

Given the ‘wearable muslin’ status of this dress it was not going to be lovingly hemmed by hand. That said, straight sewn hems irk me, which made for a great opportunity to try out my blind hem foot and stitch. Again, sneaky peak last week on Instragram. However for you non-Instagrammers, here’s how it went:

Gerties wiggle dress blind hem
Not ahhhmazing, however, still pretty good I think. I was happy anyway. And, interesting fact, apparently blind hem stitch is quite good for knits because it allows for the fabric stretching. Yes, write that down.

I didn’t want to lose any length, so I attached some wide black satin ribbon to the bottom of the dress, and then blind hemmed using it. Probably breaking some sewing god law, but wot-effa.

Gertie's Wiggle Dress 1

Sleeves

Due to my bulging biceps (tuck-shop lady arms really) the sleeves were a tad tight, so they were unpicked and re-stitched with only a 1cm seam allowance. They’re much better now, but I think a smidge too loose towards the bottom. Oh well.

They’re also a bit shorter than the pattern, maybe by 5cms due to pattern matching requirements.

I did cave and do the sleeve hems by hand.

Gertie's Wiggle Dress 1

Facings

Front facing – perfect! Two back facings – not perfect. For some unknown reason my two back facing pieces were way too short. I slashed and added 3cms to the length of the pattern piece and then recut and re-interfaced. This made them a little long, but at least they reached the zipper this way and nothing a little trimming couldn’t fix.

Gertie's Wiggle Dress 1

Zipper

The zipper was lapped as per Gertie’s instructions. I haven’t done a lapped zipper in a garment before! The only time I’ve done one was back at calico square stage all those years ago during my first ever sewing classes. I again took the quick and dirty option here and machined it in as opposed to hand picking. At first, I hated how it looked, but it’s grown on me a bit now, and I can’t see my back zipper when I’m wearing it anyway 🙂

Gertie's Wiggle Dress 1

Overall, I must say that Gertie’s patterns really work for me. There were no other adjustments made for the wiggle dress, and it fits, like a glove! I think some of the pulling may have been avoided with underlining or a slip even, but again, wearable muslin = no underlining. Even when it’s not pulling, this beautiful polyester holds the creases from sitting etc.

Gertie's Wiggle Dress 1

Oh and I must mention this, today I found a pin in the dress. That alone = not funny. What makes it funny is that I wore the dress out a week ago for dinner and dancing, and washed it, with the pin in it. Didn’t get stabbed #ftw.

And, I’ve now cut this lovely lady out in the ‘real thing’ – a lovely royal blue wool crepe  all ready for sewing together. I’m just starting to get into Vine and have put a little video of the pattern cutting on there – anyone else using Vine? You can find me there at ZoSews, inspiring name I know.

Until next time… keep on sewin’

Z xx

It’s gridlock out there…

26 Mar

So, Tessuti decided to run a competition, with 50% off the fabric and a pretty loose brief. And most importantly, no size specs! I could hardly refuse…

Gridlock Gertalex

I am so in love with my first Elisalex, that I decided to run her up again – of course with some changes 😉 PS – this is the first time I have EVER made a garment twice, so hats off to you By Hand London, you’ve hooked me.

Gridlock Gertalex

The fabric that everyone had to use for the competition, called ‘gridlock’, was nice and structured like my dotty Elisalex fabric, so I had a good feeling she’d come together well. The one key change being that I substituted the delightful oversized tulip skirt, for Gertie’s pencil skirt – the same pattern I teamed up with Sewaholic’s Lonsdale bodice – this time however I remembered to add in the skirt vent.

Gridlock Gertalex

I thought that with the pencil skirt the dress would be a bit more wearable and closer to the ‘daywear’ brief set by Tessuti. Further, I thought the clean lines of this ‘Gertalex’ would work and not compete with the strong fabric pattern. Oh, and instead of the skirt front darts, I created pretty little tucks that lined up with the princess seams on the bodice.

Gridlock Gertalex

Sooo, the rest of the details –

    • Lined in a cream cotton from Spotlight to play up the creamy background of the gridlock fabric
    • Navy blue grosgrain ribbon waist stay included to help control any zipper spreadage and maintain a clean shape
    • Hand picked zipper: Instead of focusing on neat, straight stitches, I focussed on invisible stitches, blending my stitches in with the blue pattern in the fabric
    • Blind hemmed by hand the sleeve and skirt hems

Gridlock Gertalex

  • A delicate little cream scalloped lace trim was added to the lining hem, it’s very sweet and just peeks out
  • The outer fabric hem was finished with a navy satin binding
  • Instead of sandwiching the zipper between the lining and fashion fabric, it’s attached to lining, ensuring it won’t show through to the outside. And there’s a hand sewn hook and eye at the top just to finish off.
  • Three navy and gold buttons were hand sewn to each sleeve. Just a little bit of shjooz to break up the pattern, without competing with it.

Gridlock Gertalex

Gridlock Gertalex

The team at Tessuti are simply going to pick their favourite garment as the winner, but I’m sure a few flash mobs/emails/smoke signals/telegrams telling them to pick the gertalex wouldn’t hurt 😉 Just kidding, good luck to everyone entering, can’t wait to see what y’all come up with, it’s been great so far!! You can check out all the entries on Tessuti’s Pinterest.

Zxx

Ceylon a la Zo

2 Mar

Well, we got there. Just. This girl was started before Christmas, interrupted by Elisalex and then a number of sewing, unpicking, sewing, lots of hand sewing, and button making later, just before the stroke of midnight last Saturday, she was done and dusted! Finally.

Colette Ceylon

This lady just didn’t want to come together. I was sewing things on backwards and upside down, which resulted in a lot of unpicking of both stitching and overlocking. On the plus side, I am now an expert at unpicking overlocking. If I haven’t already blocked it from my memory…

Colette Ceylon

I had a special guest photographer for my Ceylon, thanks lady! These photos were taken in St Kilda, and although we snuck off into an alley, unfortunately we still attracted a little audience. What a let down for them when they realised it’s just little old me lol.

Colette Ceylon

If you know the lovely Ceylon at all, you’ll have noticed that my sleeves are different. Not the short puffy sleeves as per pattern, rather some neat little caps. I used the sleeves from Victory Patterns’ Ava. No, I haven’t actually made Ava yet, I just used her for her sleeves 😉

Colette Ceylon

I didn’t make too many other changes really, added length to the hem (nothing new there) and added some darts in the front waist panels for a closer fit.

Colette Ceylon

Actually, there was one change that I made to the whole construction approach. The instructions tell you to apply and top stitch your pieces together, rather than the usual, “good sides together”. For my sanity, and for neatness, I stuck with “good sides together”. As far as I can tell it didn’t make any difference.

Colette Ceylon

The fabric is an absolute delight to wear. It’s a Japanese cotton from Tessuti called Black Hanataba. It’s so light and comfy, and I have some left… so there may be a very similar looking top somewhere in my future. 

Colette Ceylon

I felt this dress required covered buttons, so taught myself how to make them – yep, 16 of the buggers! Then I had to sew them all on!! I think it was worth the effort though.

Colette Ceylon

And of course 16 buttons required 16 button holes, 5.75 cms apart. LUCKILY, my machine was being friendly so this did not result in an ugly tantrum.

Colette Ceylon

I blind stitched the hem by hand. I also did the back neckline facing so that it won’t flap around. I actually find hand sewing quite relaxing – anyone else? I think I watched about five episodes of The West Wing while doing all the hand sewing, button making and button hole cutting.

Colette Ceylon

That’s it! Oh yeah, how funny’s this pic?! Unplanned, wind came and lifted my skirt and it was all caught on camera hahaha.

Colette Ceylon

I just remembered. Another user generated problem with this dress! Lets just say the inside hem looks interesting – the front panels have a 5cm allowance, and the back a 2 cm allowance. I’ll leave you to ponder why. Because I really don’t know how it happened lol!

What are you guys sewing right now? Right now! Well maybe after reading this 😉

Z xx

Dotty for Elisalex

16 Feb

I was lucky enough to win myself a copy of the By Hand London Elisalex dress via a giveaway on House of Pinheiro, becoming the envy of many a sewing blogger mwah ha ha ha.

I decided to whip it up for a wedding I was going to. Teamed with some pretty brocade style fabric from Clegs (thanks to a birthday voucher from Mr ZoSews) this is how she came up.

Elisalex dress

The gory details

The pattern

  • If you haven’t already seen the gorgeous packaging BHL are using, you’re missing out. When I first saw it, it absolutely delighted me.
  • Personally, I’d really like to see some finished measurements and a hip measurement included. I know that the skirt’s huge so there shouldn’t be issues with hip size if you get the waist right, but for a hippy gal like moi, I just like to know. Ease and height of fit model would be useful too…
  • The instructions are written in very accessible language, and provide the sort of information that’s helpful for those just dipping a toe in sewing land, for example, “Back stitch at the start and finish of your line of sewing”.

Elisalex packaging

Pattern alterations

I traced and cut the bodice in a size 10, but then…

  • I’m long in the body, so I slashed and spread and added 4 cm to the bodice length, so the waistline would actually hit me on my waist. 
  • I moved the bodice princess seams across towards the centre 1.5 cm so the line went right through the apex of the bust.
  • I did some shaping from under the bust down to the waistline for a closer fit.
  • I used a pink cotton voile for lining, and in addition to lining the bodice, I lined the skirt. All I did was reuse the skirt pattern, and cut it at around 26cm length. 

Elisalex dress

Construction notes

    • I couldn’t find a 30 inch zipper on the face of this planet! Well in the few stores I went to anyway. So I got a 24 inch and just free-styled the insertion, hand picking it in.
    • Instructions say to machine hem the sleeves. Not for this little black duck, so I blind hemmed the sleeves by hand.
    • Because I didn’t make a toile of the skirt (bodice only), I cut it out in a huge size to start with (18 I think… ridiculous now but it made sense at the time). Not surprisingly, cut at an 18, the skirt was frickin huge and looked ridiculous. I went back down in size in stages by just basting my side seams together until I hit what I liked. I now have ENORMOUS side seams, but no-one can see that 🙂

Elisalex dress

  • It’s probably due to my giant skirt plus shaped bodice, but, sheesh, easing that skirt on to the bodice almost killed me. I reckon I had at least 4-5 tries and she wouldn’t play ball. So in the end I have some tiiiiny gathers between the two waist darts, and more annoyingly the waist darts don’t perfectly match the bodice seams – but I managed to deal with that because I don’t think anyone else would notice. Phew.
  • Pattern suggests top stitching around the neckline, but in this case I under stitched.

Elisalex dressThe verdict

At first I was worried that it wasn’t very flattering around the hip region. However, I’ve since decided it’s a winner. I reckon I’ll make this bad girl again. In a less ‘icing’ fabric, I think this would be a goer for the office. I also want to try the bodice with a pencil skirt. Overall, I’m very happy with it 🙂 And it seems I like grey and pink… 

Elisalex dressPostscript

I almost forgot. Walking around in Toorak between this wedding ceremony and reception, I crossed the road at a pedestrian crossing and heard two women talking about my dress as I walked past them. It went something like this, “Now THAT, is a nice dress”. Oh yeah, as you’d expect, I was quite chuffed! Especially as I had just finished the thing standing in the kitchen hand sewing while Mr ZoSews packed my bag to leave to go to the wedding. Last minute much?

Elisalex dress

Thanks for reading. I hope I’ve enticed you to give Elisalex a go?

Zxx

Lonsdale & Gertie party dress mash up

1 Dec

You may have seen on my Instagram feed (@ZoSews, how original) a few weeks ago a sneaky peek at a hand picked zipper. This was the zipper for a dress I was planning on wearing for my (gasp) 30th birthday soiree.

This dress started last year, in my mind. I saw Sarai’s tweaked floral Lonsdale dress, and I fell in love. I wanted that one! This seemed the perfect opportunity to make it!

My birthday party consisted of cocktails at a Seamstress bar (how appropriate), delish dumplings in Chinatown and then the crescendo, hours of karaoke!

Unfortunately, I was having WAY too much fun to take any photos. Yep, that’s right, I didn’t take ONE photo lol… Luckily I was able to scrounge around and get a few from other partygoers. They all look something like this, so I won’t be repetitive and will just give you one. Don’t look at those creases, I’d been sitting down for a couple of hours before this was taken.

Lonsdale Gertie mash up

Dress details

  • This number combines the bodice of Sewaholic’s Lonsdale, and the pencil skirt (minus the high waistband) from Gertie’s book.
  • Amazingly, I didn’t have to make one change to the bodice! I made one size bigger in the skirt though to account for ease required due to no stretch in the fabric. 
  • Enlarged the front waist darts because it was puffing out away from the body.
  • Due to the long straps of the bodice, this chewed up a lot of fabric – just a note.
  • I made the dress out of a ‘vintage’ print cotton, and lined the bodice with a blue rayon, both from Spotlight. This lining is what started my love affair with rayon.
  • I hand picked the zipper – a new love, inspired by Neeno and her scandalous zipper porn 🙂 I followed a mix of Gertie’s instructions from the book,with Tasia’s.

If I had my time again I’d add a kick pleat to the skirt, there’s a lot of stress put on one little join at the moment and its already starting to show after only one wear. I only realised this would happen after cutting the skirt out – too late!

I am very happy with this dress! I love the shape, so I may even make it again.

I want to write a review for Pattern Review on this dress, but I’m not sure whether to list this as Lonsdale, Gertie’s skirt, or both (do a review for each). What do you think?

Here’s a few extra birthday pics, just for fun 🙂 I cropped others out to be polite because I am so unorganised I didn’t get around to asking anyone if they minded being put on the interwebs before writing this post.

Lol. I was surprised with a cake with my face on it - scary! (yet delicious)

Lol. I was surprised with a cake with my face on it – scary! (yet delicious)

We wore party hats!

We wore party hats!

That’s it!

Z xx

Finished: Wiksten Tova

30 Oct

Yee Hah! Thanks to your voting, I finished my Tova a coupla weeks ago now. It was an easy make, and I heartily recommend it – especially to you tunic lovers out there! I made it in Liberty of London Tana Lawn – Mitsi Green from Tessuti.

The only slightly tedious parts to sew were the corners of the inset.

Here she is, with a slightly tired looking owner!

Image

Of course I added length as well. Probably around 8cm. I’ve worn it as a dress, and as top – versatile right?!

Now, get ready for the arty (out of focus) shot.

Here’s a close up of the collar and placket too.

I want to make this bad girl again. But sleeveless, and without the collar. Maybe with some pretty buttons down the placket too 🙂 Do you reckon it would work?

PS – to those of you in the US affected by Sandy – stay safe and well. We’re thinking of you here in Aus. xx

And the Bombshell is off and running

8 Jun

I have no fashion fabric (but I know what I want); I have minimal notions. But I have loads of enthusiasm, a pattern and calico galore! So let the bombshell commence. And I also have a long weekend – happy birthday to HRM Elizabeth II, and thank you for the day off! (Yes, I know it’s not her real birthday.)

And yes, I also understand I am working on jeans at the moment – but no-one said creation was a linear process – and watching Caffy’s dress emerge has inspired me no end!

So so far Gertie’s bombshell dress is dress of firsts for me;

  • First Burda pattern
  • First time transfer paper and wheel used
  • First time dealing with freestyle seam allowances (leaving guesstimated allowances)
  • First time thread tracing

I must say, I am intrigued as to what the point of thread tracing is… I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough though!

I am making an adjustment to the pattern straight away, grading up from my bust size 40, to waist size 42 – I’m making an educated guess, but I do miss the waist point markers you’d usually get with, say a Vogue pattern.

Also, hot tip from me to you – don’t use yellow transfer paper with calico. It looks like this:

Pattern tracing

Which is why – you guessed it – I then went over all my markings again with my orange marker.

Here is the offending paper (can you believe it was nearly $10! 16c a centimetre, a centimetre – what a laugh!) and the results of my hard work.

Next up – thread tracing. (Honestly, I was supposed to thread trace tonight, but Fashion Star has just started showing in Australia and it popped up on my TV and distracted me…)

Zxx