Monday, 15 May 2017

Vietnam, and did I actually wear what I made?

So, it's two weeks since I've returned to reality from what turned out to be a FANTASTIC holiday in Vietnam!  After reading a not-so-positive travel biography before I visited I have to admit I was expecting Vietnam to be terrible, really hard going and not enjoyable. I had the lowest of low expectations and I'm glad they were not met. What an incredible country. Beautiful, hectic, friendly, funny, delicious and joyful. I cannot wait to go back!

I went a bit bonkers sewing for my trip and, along with some items I'd made earlier (just for everyday life), I ended up packing 2 x Mabel Skirts; 3 x Gabby Dresses; and 5 x Marianne Dresses.

Did I wear it all? Yes. And, no!

I only ended up wearing one of my Mabel Skirts - on two separate days with clean t-shirts each day. Vietnam was SO hot so I guess I was saving the second one for another day but just never got around to wearing it. Luckily it was not too hot in Hanoi (relevantly speaking to the rest of the country) so I used some anti-chaffing cream to keep my inner-thighs in good shape (just in case anyone is wondering about skirts, thighs that touch in the middle and hot hot weather).

All of my Gabby Dresses were worn - multiple times actually. All three of them were in quite cool, thin viscose jersey (bar the striped one which was a bit thicker) so did the trick. I wore them with pairs of Dave's long undies underneath to avoid the dreaded chub rub due to the hot hot weather. These dresses were good as they could be worn on the back of a moped or in a cyclo without flashing everyone.

I only wore three of out the five Marianne Dresses I packed. Two were just in a fabric that was too thick and thus too hot for Vietnam. Did I mention it was HOT! Again, Dave's long undies saved the day.

I think I over-packed. I could've left out those two Marianne Dresses that were never worn. Plus I rinsed out clothes as I needed to and we also had an opportunity to to do laundry along the way.  I probably could've left the Mabel Skirts at home -- they weren't very practical in terms of motorbike riding or sitting on low low stools at various eateries.

I would definitely pack a variety of what I've made for another hot-weather holiday. I'm really keen to visit Cambodia and Vietnam (again) in 2017 so I have my wardrobe needs all sorted!

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Learning to crochet at Sew Make Create

I have a HUGE granny square blanket at home that my mother crocheted and I've always wanted to make one of my own. "Back in the day" I'm sure I knew how to make a granny square but those skills are long it was time to take a class and remember how.

I took a beginners class at Sew Make Create in Chippendale. I've done so many classes here but until now they have all been sewing related.

We started off learning how to make a slip knot, to crochet chains and then practiced a variety of stitches -- none of which I can remember now (but all of which can be found on YouTube for refresher purposes).

Next it was on to the granny square and I'm pleased to report it wasn't too hard to pick up. I think the hardest part was actually coming to grips with how to hold the hook and the wool in the other hand. The class was 2.5 hours so enough to learn the basics and go home and keep crocheting. We didn't get to learn how to join multiple squares but I am making one ENORMOUS square so I'm good for now.

Of course, the best part of a class at Sew Make Create is getting to hang out with Pepper the adorable shop dog!

I'm well into my big blanket - I think I have about 30 more rounds to go and then I'm done. In the meantime I'm keen to learn some other types of crochet so I can have some "portable" projects to take with me when I travel and when I'm commuting to work. Watch this space as I've enrolled in a two day Amigurumi (Ah-mee-goo-roo-me) class. That translates to cute knitted toys!

Me Made May 2017

I've decided to take plunge and join Me Made May again this year. I think this will be my third year, or is it my fourth?

I, Melanie from and @whatpiggydeos, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '17. I endeavour to wear a me-made item each day that I leave the house (no me-made lounge-wear I'm afraid) - be it clothing, bag, clutch, jewelry or scarf. May will also be the mouth I sew my Berlin Jacket -- just in time for the Aussie winter.


Midi Mabel Skirt

I think I've made about 30 Mabel Skirts since the pattern was released (no exaggeration). Some successful. Some destined for the bin.

About a week ago I started obsessing about NEEDING a black calf length pencil skirt. No idea where the desire came from but I thought I'd better make it happen!

The fabric is a ribbed jersey from The Remnant Warehouse...bought online when I was searching for ribbed knits.  I'd originally set out to make a Simplicity 1366 dress from it but the neckline stretched out and the whole thing looks frumpy. I couldn't rescue the fabric despite trying so ordered more specifically for this skirt.

I'd already lengthened View A of the pattern to make it knee length on me, plus 10cm added to accommodate for the wide elastic waistband I use. I then lengthened all of this by 20cm and added a 2" hem to get a length that hits just below my calf. I pegged the skirt in a bit at the bottom and think it would be better a bit more fitted still - but then I might not be able to walk, which could be an issue?

I'm wearing this skirt at work today...very comfy. I think I made the waistband a bit too loose though (despite unpicking the whole thing and bringing it in by an inch). Good thing is if it does feel way too big I can take the waistband in even more...

The weather is cooling down in Sydney now (thank goodness) and I am keen to find some ribbed wool-knit to make a snuggly winter-version of this skirt. Any ideas where one could find such a fabric in Oz?

Pattern: "Mabel Skirt" by Colette Patterns
Modifications: 5cm elastic waistband (added 10cm to the pattern to accommodate for this), 35cm added to length, pegged in the bottom by. 1cm added to the CF and CB to accommodate for middle-aged spread.
Fabric:  Superior Rib Jersey- Black from The Remnant Warehouse (Cotton / Polyester / Elastane)
Size: XL, sewn with 3/8" seam allowance

Sunday, 9 April 2017

...just another stripey Mandy Boat Tee

My stripey Spotlight fabric makes a second appearance - this time as a Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee, a pattern I've now made about 30 times!

As with my Marianne Dress the fabric was very nice to sew with, and is nice and comfy to wear given the amount of stretch it has.

I've decided that I'm not keen on the drafted neckline treatment of the Mandy Boat Tee as I can never get the shoulder darts quite right and it looks a bit messy (though it is super easy to sew)! I'm not sure who I am anymore as I voluntarily sewed a neckband on to my top!


PatternMandy Boat Tee by Tessuti
Size: One size fits...most
Modifications: lengthened by 9cm (but hemmed at about 2"), the sleeves/arms made bigger for me a sewing class I did at Tessuti.
Fabric: Viscose knit from Spotlight
Changes for next time: might lop off a few cms at the hem, but probably not.

Monday, 3 April 2017

More holiday sewing....

Sewing SIX Gabby Dresses for my holiday and only coming out with two wearable ones means I needed to change tact and pick a new pattern to ensure I have enough clothes for Vietnam in April.

Enter the Marianne Dress, a pattern I've sewn before and like wearing (and that has my shoulders covered which is what I'm going for in my Vietnam wardrobe).

This FANTASTIC fabric is from Spotlight - honestly, they are killing my wallet at the moment. It's a cotton blended with something stretchy (the label didn't say what) and it feels very soft to wear.

The fabric is not overly stretchy so I added a bit to the back fold but probably could've done with a bit more width over the derrière but it will do for the trip. It was pretty easy to sew with -- though a bit curly at times!

I've also whipped up two more Marianne Dresses - no modelled photos as I've not worn them since making them and didn't feel like dressing up for blog photos. Hashtag lazy!

More fabric from Spotlight. This was the end of the role so I think I bought about 2.5m and also got a Mandy Boat Tee from the same fabric. The blue ran a bit into the pink on the first wash, but a second wash seems to have fixed that problem. Things went pear-shaped with my stripe matching which is a mystery as I thought I'd cut everything out perfectly. Oh well! Very comfy to wear and very easy to sew.

And last but not least!  This fabric is from Tessuti and is on sale for $11/pm. It's a lovely quality and was very lovely to sew with -- though the black bands on the neckline/sleeves did get a bit curly. I fought through it though and the result is two thumbs up! The fabric is nice and stretchy and will be comfortable for travelling around in.

So there we have Vietnam holiday wardrobe is complete! I have three Gabby Dresses that I am going to pack and five Marianne Dresses. Other stuff will be coming along with me but this will make up the bulk of what I'll be wearing.

PatternMarianne Dress by Christine Haynes
Size: 18
Modifications: as per other makes I added 2" to the neckband length, added 1" to the length, lowered the neckline all the way around by about 1cm
Fabric: as above
Changes for next time: none for the short sleeved version; but when I made the long sleeved version I need to added some width to the lower sleeve piece.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Ebony Tee(s) - Closet Case Files

The Ebony Tee is a new pattern from Closet Case Files that I bought because I had a 20% off voucher thanks to my Frocktails goody-bag. The pattern is for a dress, raglan sleeved tunic, and cropped-top. The dress is similar to the Gabby Dress I make often (except for it's designed for knits) so at first it didn't interest me, but then I started to think about the cropped tee...and had to have it.

The cropped tee is VERY cropped and not a style I wear unless I've had an accident with the dryer. I lengthened my first version by 5.5" and sewed the 3/4 sleeves. The length is good for pencil skirts but I'm not yet sure if I'd wear it with skinny pants as I tend to favour longer tops for those type of pants. I finished the the hem using the rolled hem function of my overlocker - mainly to preserve the length but also as I like the way it looks.

This fabic came from the first Sydney Spoolettes fabric swap we held in Balmain last year. It's from Spotlight (as I've seen it there before) and is a sort of polyester/crepe type situation. Not breathable and NOT for wearing in hot or humid weather. But...I LOVE the print as it reminds me of a Japanese print. It was also very easy to sew and held a crease well when it came to neckband shenanigans. 

The top will definitely make those of us who are boob-a-licous not look flat chested!

Hot off the heels of my first Ebony Tee (made on Friday) I whipped this one up this morning.

The fabric is from The Fabric Muse in Chippendale that I've used once before for an Our Fave Top and messed up a bit so it's not very neat. I wanted to use this fabric again and take better care when sewing. I'm again surprised at how well a polyester took the iron (on the proper setting course). I had always balked at sewing with slinky poly as I thought the fabric + neckband = nightmare, but with these two I had no issues.

The only difference to Version 2 is one extra inch added to the length...don't think it makes much of a difference though, so again still deciding if these tops will get worn with pants.

I'm really happy with these two tops and once the weather cools down to polyester wearing temps these will get a good workout in my wardrobe. This won't be the last time I sew this pattern either.

** I should also mention that I didn't even glance at the instructions so have no idea if they are any good or not, but this company has a good reputation in that regards. I also sewed the size 16 based on the finished garment measurements being just smaller than my bust measurement.

Pattern: Closet Case Files "Ebony Tee"
Size: 16
Modifications:  Version 1: added 5:5" to the length, Version: added 6.5" to the length. Rolled hem.
Fabric: as above

Changes for next time: none for View B? 

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

A week of me-made

Last week I decided to photograph each me-made outfit I wore...

...not sure why, but I guess I was feeling a bit chuffed that I seem to be wearing me-made more often than not these days!

I'm really enjoying my me-mades as they suit my lifestyle and style - smart, minimal, casual and comfortable. Three years ago, when I started sewing and had SO. MANY. FAILS I never thought I'd have a wardrobe with so many items I'd made myself. I've come a long way!

Sunday: me-made top, skirt, bag and necklace
Monday: me-made top, bag and necklace
Tuesday: me-made top and bag
Wednesday: me-made top, skirt, bag and necklace
Thursday: me-made skirt, bag and necklace
Friday: me-made dress and bag 
Saturday: me-made top and bag

Monday, 6 March 2017

Simplicity 1366 - as a dress

I absolutely LOVE my Simplicity 1366 top - so much that I wore it for three out of four days last week (with washes in between of course). Whenever I love a top I go straight to "can it be lengthened to a dress" which is of course what happened here. Unusually for me though I actually went ahead and made it happen. This all happened last night and I'm wearing the dress today (I sewed til about 9.30pm which I NEVER do as it's bed time but I was excited by this and wanted it DONE)!

I had already lengthened the top by 7.5cm and then I added 13" to that...I had a dress pattern made in a class at Tessuti where you "rub off" a pattern from a favourite garment. I actually just stuck the two patterns together to come up with this. Now that I love what I've made I'll trace it off so I have the dress as a proper pattern piece.

Back view! I think I'd like to add 1" to the length of the dress next time and peg it in a little at the bottom to give it a bit more shape. I think it could be a tad smaller too - but it's very comfortable as it is! Coming into cooler weather I think my next one will be sewn with the sleeves at the regular, longer length.

Dodgy neckline photo - I had to take the photos myself as Dave wasn't around. I think I could've made the neckband a smidge smaller as it's just not sitting 100% flat - but near enough. Even though the fabric didn't have 4-way stretch I couldn't help but run the stripe the other way for the band. The neck is HUGE on this top so it doesn't need to stretch to get over my head.

The fabric is from Spotlight. There's a brand new store at Castle Hill and I'm OBSESSED! They have some great fabric at the moment with a huge variety. Everything is neatly laid out and I feel so inspired when I go there. It's literally my new happy place! Anyway...the fabric is a ribbed knit I think - a rayon/cotton/polyester blend. I'm wearing the dress to work today as it's a cooler day - not a fabric for hot hot weather but good for inbetween days.

PatternSimplicity 1366
Size: 18
added 16" to the length, added 1cm to both the side of the front and back neckline and dropped the front neckline a bit. Shortened the sleeves by 5cm.
rayon/cotton/polyester blend from Spotlight
Changes for next time: add 1" to length, peg in at the bottom. Perhaps made a little snugger? 

Sewing for holidays

I'm off to Vietnam for two weeks in April. The tour I'm on goes from Hanoi down to Saigon - and it's going to be pretty hot and humid as it's the beginning of their very hot season.  I do have quiet a few casual dresses for summer, most of them sleeveless. I've read that in Vietnam it's polite to have your shoulders covered so I thought, in a first for me, that I'd sew a few dresses for the trip.

I'm going to sew up a few Gabby Dresses, and possibly take the Marianne Dress I sewed over my Christmas break. I'll also take a few of my ready-to-wear dresses to pad things out a bit.

The first Gabby Dress is made from a remnant I bought from Tessuti a few years ago. I never really knew what to do with it as the big flowers ran along the I'm glad to have found a good for it. The fabric is a lightweight 94% Viscose/ 6% Spandex blend and I hope it can stand up to the hot weather. As it's cut along the warp it does tend to "grow" during the day so it's one that I cannot hang up - it lives folded in my cupboard.

Next up is another Gabby Dress in a modal/silk jersey blend.  The fabric feels SO THIN (so will be good for the hot and humid weather especially in Saigon)! It's interesting sewing the same dress in different types of knits. This one was taken in so much it's probably an M as opposed to my normal XL. I took the one in above a quite a bit too - so I'll say it's an was also VERY long (and has a 2" hem, as opposed to my normal 1") making me think the dress stretched out somewhere along the way whilst sewing?

I think the neckband could be a smidge tighter on this one -- but the fabric was quite fiddly, reminiscent of the Liberty jersey I sewed up last year, so I didn't want to unpin it once I'd finally attached it ready to sew. Sadly, despite pre-washing, the dress shrank in the wash so I'll be going in the Vinnie's bag and not my bag for Vietnam. I tried to stretch it out when wet but it didn't work.

Straight off the back of this I had THREE fails. One, the fabric was too off-grain to work with (annoyed), another I was sewing when tired and just fluffed it up in about a hundred different ways, and then another with lovely fabric but not enough stretch to make the sleeves comfortable enough to wear (it will become a tee next summer).

And...this is successful dress #2 (that I made twice due to fluffing it up when tired - lucky I have 6m of this fabric from Pitt Trading). The fabric is a viscose and spandex knit and is quite light. It was OK to sew - a bit fiddly as it did curl a little bit but nothing too major.

 This dress is very comfy and will definitely be coming with me - it feels nice and cool to wear!

I've gone to so much effort (six dress and only two wearable) so I hope the Vietnamese appreciate my covered shoulders!


Pattern: "Gabby Dress" by Tessuti
Size: XL
Modifications: lengthened by 5cm, neckline cut lower
Changes for next time: none

Friday, 24 February 2017

Simplicity 1366 - a wearable toile

Simplicity 1366 is a pattern I've seen around a lot on social media - specifically the top, not the cami or the very fancy frou frou skirt. It's designed for woven's but I think it would be perfect for knits...and it is!  I made this is a viscose/jersey from The Remnant Warehouse.

Annoyingly I had to trace the pattern as I was pretty sure going with the biggest size on offer, my usual sewing strategy, would just be too big...I traced and sewed the size 18 and it fits well. Tracing is really annoying, fiddly and annoying. Not a fan

I've read that the top is very short so I added 7.5cm to the length - it's not a bad length now for wearing with this type of skirt, but if I were to wear it with a pencil skirt I'd probably want it longer to cover my belly. I was also told that the neckline is very wide so I added 1cm to both the side of the front and back neckline and it fits well on my shoulders. The top also has a very high neck so I dropped this a bit...I hate high necklines! I also shortened the sleeves by 5cm as it's summer and even at this elbow length it could get a bit too warm.

I'm really happy with this top...I wore it out to lunch today and it was very comfortable and I think the fit is good. Of course, just as I was snipping loose threads to give it a final press I snipped a hole in the back at the neck...gah! Luckily it was very small and I've been able to sew it up without it being overly noticeable.


PatternSimplicity 1366
Size: 18
added 7.5cm to the length, added 1cm to both the side of the front and back neckline and dropped the front neckline a bit. Shortened the sleeves by 5cm.
Fabric: Viscose/jersey from The Remnant Warehouse
Changes for next time: none

Monday, 20 February 2017

Sydney Frocktails

On Saturday night Sydney held its second Frocktails - a cocktail party/raucous catch-up where attendees are encouraged to wear something fancy and me-made. Frocktails happen all around Australia and are usually organised for members of the Spoolettes group by members of the Spoolettes groups - although anyone who sews can attend.

Saturday night saw 70 ladies descend on the The Edinburgh Castle Hotel in the city. It was a great night - catching up with old friends and meeting a lot of new sewing buddies. It was perfectly acceptable to go up to someone and say "I love your dress" and make a grab to fondle their fabric...often followed by "hello"! Priorities!

I still don't have any "fancy dress" sewing under my belt so I went with a Mabel Skirt made in a bonded lace ponti from the Fabric Muse. The fabric doesn't have much stretch so I added 2cm to both the front and back fold to ensure I could breath and not bust any seams. The top is just a cheapie modal jersey from Uniqlo -- I knew it was going to be hot so wanted something that I knew I'd feel cool in. To "pad out" my me-made skirt I also took my leather Essential Wristlet with me and made some VERY sparkly polymer beads for a necklace and earrings - I don't think I'll ever get all the glitter out of my house after making these!

I felt pretty good all night - comfortable and not too hot. Best of all I felt like me, not dressed up in clothes that I just wouldn't wear and would feel not myself in. And, best of all I can re-wear and re-use everything!

I think everyone had a VERY VERY good time and is eagerly awaiting our next Frocktails which I've heard may be in late October this year. I'm already thinking about what to sew for my next Frocktails outfit...I have an idea for a dress! Fancy!

A big thanks has to go to Caz from UsefulBox who arranged the entire event as well as some great door prizes too! And thanks to her hubby who took great photos of everyone on the night.

Friday, 17 February 2017

More leather and another Essential Wristlet

I was super chuffed  with my experiment in incorporating leather into my last Essential Wrislet so of course ploughed right ahead with another "Essential Wristlet" by Dog Under My Desk.

The leather for this purse is from a HUGE hide I bought awhile ago from Birdsall Leather - I have LOADS left and it will become a tote at some point in time as well as being incorporated here and there in other small projects. The fabric is some scraps of pineapple line bought from Darn Cheap Fabric about two years ago - the majority of the fabric is sitting in my UFO pile (an unfinished Ginger Skirt that will now be too small for me and stalled on the zipper insertion).

I decided to use the leather to make the strap and ring-holder...the leather is not particularly thick or sturdy so it'll probably stretch out over time (I'll make another strap out of the outer fabic so I can interchange them - I just haven't done it yet).

I also used the leather to make a bigger pocket (for my cash) and a smaller one for a card or two.  The lining fabric is pretty much the last of my Nani Iro haul from my trip to Osaka a few years ago.

Again I've sewn a front pocket as they are super useful. I didn't really follow the instructions for the top zipper - next time I'm going to sew zipper tab for both ends of the zip...

I now have three me-made clutches plus five bought ones...that's probably enough. For now!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Experiments in leather with the "Essential Wristlet"

Spurred on by the raging success of my first, I've made myself another "Essential Wristlet" by Dog Under My Desk - this time experimenting with some leather I had bought in a $5 scrap bag from The Fabric Store. The idea stems from this True Bias tutorial and some purses I've seen made up over on Instagram using the tutorial.

I know black leather on dark blue denim isn't "the best look" (tan leather would look better) but it's what I had on hand to play with, and I was hoping that if the purse worked out I can use it for my Sydney Frocktails clutch (which is coming up this Saturday).

The leather was very soft and didn't add much bulk to the purse, was easy to sew with and easy to turn through the lining. I curved the bottom corners (as that's what the purse in the tutorial is like) which made it easy to have nice bottom corners.

I also added in the second zipper option this time. LOVE it. I'll probably cart my phone, lip goop and train pass in here - three things I access a lot.

I found my Flamingo Purse a tad on the small side so at the advice of my sewing friend Cassiy I increased the size of the purse by printing it at 150%. I also then added a bit more depth to the bottom of the purse to account for the curved corners.

I like having a card slot in my purses so thought I'd made use of my leather and add in three! They are not particularly neat (partly due to the fact that I cut my leather out with scissors which is a bit messy {need to get myself a rotary cutter and metal ruler}), but they do the trick.

And just for a bit more *bling* I added in these cute zipper pulls to the zippers that I picked up from Spotlight in Castle Hill (which is the BEST store just FYI, unlike their Bondi Junction store which is THE WORST). If you have keen eyes you'll notice my zippers are going in two different directions here - whoops! Must pay better attention next time.

I love the way this purse turned out and am already in the process of making a second...leather included!