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Three Maternity Summer Tops

31 Jan

It’s been a super hot week. It  was 42 degrees Celsius today, about the same yesterday, but will go down to 33 degrees tomorrow. I’ve been itching to sew, and thought it would be a good time to make some summer tops to go over the burgeorning bump.

I ran through some designs in my head, and remembered this Vogue Patterns Anna Sui V2850 top which I fell in love with some time ago and decided that it would be perfect converted into a maternity top.

I love the version with the neck flounce. I had a black, loose weave, chiffon-like polyester material in my stash that I bought from Spotlight just for it.

As usual, I drafted my own pattern. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any drafting or construction pictures (it was too hot and I was lazy…) The pattern had to be quick and easy, with lots of room for the baby bump. I didn’t want any darts or closures, so it had to fit over my head easily, but not gape at the neckline. I didn’t really follow the technical stylelines of the Vogue pattern. It was primarily the neck flounce that I wanted to copy.

When I got to work with the fabric, I decided to take it slow, and handsew. It was extremely unstable, stretching everywhere because of its loose weave. The fabric had to be underlined with something, but I didn’t have anything suitable, since the fabric had a bit of stretch. The only thing I had on hand was a red tricot, so I used that. I quite like the effect of the black on the red. The tricot is a bit shiny, but is toned down under the black chiffon, so it looks rather sneakingly snazzy.

It was a good thing I decided to handsew the tricot underlining to the chiffon. It stabilised it, so I was able to eliminate facings on the neckline and armhole. After all the seams were handsewn, I overlocked the edges with a 4-thread overlock. And neck flounce and hemlines are roll hemmed.

This top came together very quickly because there was no darts, no facings, no closures. I’m really pleased with this top. Here’s a couple more views.

I like it with or without the belt. And it looks quite like the Vogue one I think.

Because this one came so easily together, I decided to use up some other fabric in my stash on this same patter, but with different sleeves. My mum had brought over some nice summery fabrics from Malaysia, and I thought they’d be perfect.

I sketched some designs with the same bodice pattern, but with different sleeves, and decided to cut out two garments at once to save time. I made one with a circular sleeve flounce, and one with a triple cap sleeve.

This one is a very light polyester print with a raised texture, similar to a seersucker. I love how the sleeves came out.

The sleeve flounce was roll-hemmed, and the neckline bias-bound.

I used the Banded V-Neck on Woven Fabric technique described in Lynda Maynard’s The Dressmaker’s Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques. I’ve fallen in love with bias bound finishes. I used to think that it was really hard to cut bias strips out without a rotary cutter and mat, but I actually do them quite well just with scissors. And I also used to think that it was fiddly to bind an opening, compared to sewing in a facing, but I have to say that bias bound finishes are so much neater than a facing, doesn’t flip up, and they just look so good. I’ve been using them on everything lately.

This is the third top I made.

I really like this one too. I’ve been wanting to try out the triple sleeve effect on something. Looks pretty cute. Without the belt, it’s quite casual, but I love both looks. Again, I used self-bias binding on the neckline, and the the lower armhole.

Three tops in a week is my best sewing record to date. I love quick projects! (Ones that turn out all right.)

I’m probably going to make more maternity tops with this pattern, since it’s so easy, and quite the TNT (tried and true) pattern. I’ll just have to think up some different neckline and sleeve treatments to make them all distinctive.

I’m not sure which is my favourite top-Wyld Man can’t decide either. Which one do you like best?

Incidentally, I didn’t finished roll-hemming my black top till after the two others were done. When I did the neck flounce, my overlocker needle broke, and now my overlocker won’t sew properly anymore. Boohoo….I’ll have to send it away for a lookover. Hopefully that won’t take too long and I can get some more tops done soon!

Also, I’m moving blogs soon to www.allthewyldthings.blogspot.com. WordPress is good, but they do restrict Java-based widgets, which I find limiting. Blogger gives you more freedom. I’ll be double-posting here in the mean time while I get the new blog up and moving. It’s not complete yet, but do tell me what you think of the new blog.

Edited on 1/12/2014: I’ve published maternity and nursing patterns on Craftsy! Be sure to check them out!

Black And White Smock/Maternity Top

23 Dec

My, it’s been a while. And 2 days till Christmas! I’ve been busy busy busy-tidying up house, getting rid of unused things, doing some spring cleaning, running after my Little Wyld Man, who isn’t so little anymore. And also, I’m pregnant again! In between getting all of these done, I managed to pull together a simple smock from a Burda magazine, using some left over material from my maternity/nursing cocktail dress.

I was itching to sew something, but was too lazy to draft from scratch, so I decided I must make something quick and simple. I had some Burda magazines from the library and this little number caught my eye.

I love the simple lines, the yoke, and the pleats, which will allow for a growing belly. This is how it was made up in the magazine-in plaid.

I wasn’t too big on it, but I really liked the stylelines, and decided to make it.

This is the pattern sheet. You have to find the correct colour codes for the  pattern which can get confusing. In this case, I’m using the patterns outlined in blue. Burda patterns come without seam allowances, so you have to add them yourself.

I traced out the pattern using some tracing paper, and added a 5/8 of an inch seam allowance. You can use anything see through that is big enough, such as cheap sew-in interfacing, or even freezer paper taped together.

I’ve cut out my pattern pieces. This is a simple pattern, so only 6 pieces altogether.  Should come together pretty quickly. I’ve labelled each piece so that you’ll know what I’m referring to below.

The pattern markings must be marked onto the fabric at this point. I used to use tailor’s tacks, but now I just make a 3/5 inch snip into the seam allowance to mark centre points, pleating points, etc.

I’ve also cut out fusible interfacing for the facing front and back pieces, as well as the yoke. The fusible interfacing I’m using is a tricot knit, which is suitable for most light and medium weight materials. The interfacing serves to stabilise the area, and by this I mean that it will stop the fabric from stretching as you sew and handle it. It also prevents wrinkles and gives a bit more body to the fabric, although you don’t want to use interfacing that is too heavy, as this will change the hand/feel of the fabric undesirably. The interfacing should be cut using the same pattern piece, or slightly smaller.

To fuse, press with an up-down motion on a steam and wool setting till it fuses to the fabric. Wait till cool before moving.

Before stitching anything together, I finish the edges with my overlocker. Or you can use a zigzag stitch with a normal sewing machine.

Here, I’ve stitched the pleats in the front first. My order of construction is always to finish the details on the front garment, piece all front pieces together, then finish back details such as the zipper, and joint the front to the back at the shoulder seams and side seams. The sleeves  and hem are last.

In stitching the pleats, the pattern markings and centre points guide me and I don’t struggle to measure the pleating afterwards. I stitch vertically at each pleat to keep the pleats together, then horizontally across the pleats and the whole neckline.

The front yoke is joined to the main front, matching the centre points in the middle. The seam allowance is pressed upwards at the back.

Here’s I’m stitching the side seams. The shoulder seams are next. When this is done, test for fit. As this was a loose smock, the fit aside from the shoulders, weren’t essential. This top was drafted with a zipper in the back. When I tried it on, I found that it slipped easily over my head and shoulders, so I decided to omit the zipper.

Press the seams open and flat.

Here, I’m stitching the back neck facings together at the centre back seam. Next the back neck facing is joined to the front neck facing at the shoulder seams.

This is what it looks like. Press the seams open and flat. Remember, sew and press as you go.

Join the facing to the main garment at the neck edge, lining shoulder seams on both facing and main garment together. Make sure the centre points of the facing matches the centre point on the main garment. Sew with 5/8 inch seam allowance.

When this is done, turn the facing underneath and this finishes the neckline edge. However, you will find that it flips upwards very inconveniently. To remedy, you’ll need to understitch.

Open up the facing, and use your fingers to press the seam allowance towards the facing. Position your needle so that it is close to the seam line, but not on it, towards the facing. Sew the seam allowances to the facing. This is called understitching. This keeps the facing from flipping up a certain extent. However, you’ll need to clip the seam allowance as per below.

Clip at 1 inch intervals, or less where there is a sharper curve. This releases the fabric and lets it lie flat when you turn the facing under. Be careful to clip close to, but not onto the stitching line.

Next, we finish the hem on the sleeve.

I’m doing a double rolled hem by hand-you can do it by a narrow hemming foot, but I wanted to try this technique instead. Turn the edge wrong sides together around 1/4 inch and sew close to the edge. Using the tailor’s awl helps immensely as the sharp point guides the hem under the presser foot.

Now turn over the second time and do the same. Press the hem flat.

Before sewing the sleeve into the armhole, you have to prepare the sleeve for ‘easing’. The sleeve cap is drafted with extra length, usually about 1-2 cm longer than the armhole. The extra fabric must be eased into the armhole without puckering. This can be a challenge, but with practice comes perfection. To prepare the sleeve, sew a gathering stitch (I use the longest stitch length) inside the seam allowance.

The pattern will have a dot/mark where easing begins. Sew from this point with big stitches. Do not backstitch. Leave a long thread length at each end.

Pull the gathering threads and gather the sleeve cap evenly. The gathers must be ‘gentle’ rather than ‘hard’.

Pin the sleeve cap onto the armhole wtih as many pins as you need. As this is a cap sleeve, and not a full sleeve, find the markings on the armhole where the sleep cap begins and ends. The 1/3 of the lower armhole will be finished with a bias binding. Stitch sleeve to armhole at 5/8 inch seam allowance.

For the bias binding, I cut 1 inch strips on the bias, 16cm in length. These need to be folded in half and pressed. As this is on the bias, it is stretchy and can be shaped into a curve by pressing, as per below.

To attach the binding to the lower armhole, pin the so that the folded edge sits 2.7cm from the armhole edge.

Why 2.7cm? Because it is 5/8 inch plus 1cm. And when you stitch it in 5/8 inch from the armhole edge,and turn the bias binding under, it will match the finished edge of the cap sleeve perfectly. Magic!

Sew 5/8 inch from the edge of the armhole, catching the middle of the bias binding.

Trim aways the ends of the binding, and the seam allowance so that only 1/4 of the bias binding remains.

Turn under and edgestitch close to the edge, making sure the stitching catches and holds the bias binding underneath. Press flat.

Hem the bottom with a double rolled hem.

Finito!

Front view.

Back view.

Closeup of the front.

I’m rather pleased with this top. However, the neckline does gape a bit. So the next time I use this pattern, I’ll do a slight gaposis adjustment. But for now, Merry Christmas everyone!

Edited on 1/12/2014: I’ve published maternity and nursing patterns on Craftsy! Be sure to check them out!

Blackwood Opshops

13 Oct

When I first came to Australia and discovered opshops, somebody told me I had to go to the Blackwood opshops. I didn’t find the time to till last week, when I went to visit some friends there, who babysat the Little Wyld Man while mummy went-a-shopping.

Blackwood, for those unfamiliar to Adelaide, is south of Adelaide, and situated in the hills. It has 5 opshops within a small shopping radius, the best and biggest being the Salvos one. There are also the Save the Children Opshop, Redcross, Goodwill, and the RSPCA thrift shop. See here for addresses.

I went to the Salvos one first, which was the most famous. Inside was the most organized and appealing  layout I’d ever seen in an opshop, being almost boutique-like in a rustic way. That said however, I didn’t find anything  to buy. There was a trouser press being sold for $60 displayed outside, but I don’t iron enough trousers to justify buying it. But if it had been a gravity feed iron/steam generator, that would have been a different story.

The next opshop I went to was the Redcross one. Here I spied an almost brand new shawl-collared white cardigan which I snatched up.

White Cardigan

Originally it had two ties sewn in to tie the front together which I removed. I also tacked the collar in place so that it would stay in that shape instead of collapsing. I’ve worn it out twice within the last week already. $6.99. Kaching!

I also found a dressmaking book, Success with Dress by Ellen and Marietta Resek.

Success with Dress

I hummed and harred about it, but was sold when I saw that it had a section on drafting patterns.

Bodice Drafts

This is an Aussie book, and very well written. Every chapter starts with a cute little rhyme, and it covers most of the basics in dressmaking.  The sleeve draft was good, being an assymetrical sleeve. (Sleeves shouldn’t look the same front and back, the front of the sleeve has less material, and the back has more-some books get it wrong). I have an earlier book by the same authors called Successful Dressmaking, which I posted about here. $3.

I went to Save the Children Opshop next, and here I picked up some fabrics-a nude and a red tricot fabric, perfect for petticoats and lining knit garments. I also found a nice wool felt hat in cream.

Cream Felt Hat

This is a back view.

Back view

I’m not so crazy about the way the grosgrain ribbon trim is finished at the back. I think it needs something more. I haven’t decided what to do about it yet. $4.99

I also found a sewing box for $9. I thought it was a bit steep for an opshop, but I really wanted and needed one, and Spotlight sells them for $20. I’ve been sewing out of a Tupperware container, so I’m glad to have this.

Sewing box

Inside peek

No, it didn’t come with tools and notions. *pout*. Wyld Man says it looks almost exactly like his mother’s.

The last stop was at Goodwill. I didn’t find anything that I liked until I was almost leaving and then I saw this.

Buckram hat with feathers

I really, really liked it. However, the feathers were a little scraggly, and the ribbon wasn’t glued on properly. I bought it, and I’m going to refashion it one of  this  days. This is a hat for spring, while the other one was a wintery one. $6.50.

So that’s all from Blackwood. I didn’t go to the RSPCA one because my friend/tour guide said it wasn’t any good, and I also wanted to get back to Little Wyld Man. I needn’t have worried though, he was very good and didn’t miss me at all!

And while I’m posting about all things opshop, I found this little top at the St Agnes Save the Children Opshop some weeks ago and loved it.

Red Polka Dot Top

Makes me feel like Minnie Mouse! Love it! $3. The camisole came from an opshop too. Can’t remember where from now.

What did you find at the opshops?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow Nursing Top

28 Jul

A few months ago I bought some yellow jersey material from an op shop. It was a very pretty yellow, just my colour. I make it a policy to snap up knit fabrics if I see them in opshops as knits are quite pricey compared to wovens. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it then, but a few days ago I thought that I should start drafting patterns for knits. And I’ve been wanting a top for nursing-ones that have discreet access for breastfeeding. I came up with this design.

Design idea

It was to have an empire waistline, a wrap front with bust gathers, and a modesty panel behind with cutouts for nursing (see dotted line and gray shaded area). At first I wanted to make puffed cap sleeves  as in the picture, but when I made my pattern, I forgot and just make short set in sleeves.

I drafted the pattern from scratch using Winifred Aldrich’s close fitting jersey bodice block.

It's the one on the far left

I chose the option with greater ease (Aldrich gives you instructions for close fitting with maximum stretch, and another with more ease for less flexible material).

My personal jersey clost fit block with sleeve

I took some pictures of the drafting and pattern manipulating processes- but stopped halfway because the pictures weren’t that good. Here are some of them.

The back and the modesty panel for the front

This is the wrap front-I'm correcting the gape by slashing the neckline and pivoting it

That’s all I have of the drafting. I WILL take more organised pictures in the future…

Anyways,  that was a few days ago and I didn’t get to put the whole thing together till today. This is how it looks like.

Front view

Back view

That’s an awful lot of wrinkles. Methinks I have to do a narrow back adjustment, a swayback adjustment, and a forward shoulder adjustment. Or maybe it’s the way I’m standing.

Closeup

Below you’ll see how it functions as a nursing top.

Discreet nursing access

Instead of pulling the top up for feeding, this top provides full coverage.

I’m really happy with the way this top turned out-it looks completely store bought. It’s not my first time sewing a knit top, but it was the most successful. This was because I used  tricot knit interfacing strips to stabilise the necklines and armholes to keep them from stretching out of shape.

If anybody is interested, I can draft a custom nursing top pattern based on this or make you one. Just email me.