FINISHED! Sigma Denim Dress

When I returned from Sydney on Sunday, the Sigma Dress pattern was waiting for me in the post box! I didn't buy this dress originally when I purchased the Rigel bomber and the Saiph tunic, but after seeing some cool versions popping up around the blogs, I decided that I could probably do with this dress in my wardrobe.  Just have a look at verypurpleperson (with good info on fitting), jolies bobines, offsquare and my-zee-moo!
I've also had this denim dress on my pinterest page for a while as well and started to see it made with the Sigma pattern and used it as a loose inspiration.  Oh and I also just bought some new ankle boots on sale and thought a little denim Sigma would go well with them! Of course.

I had heaps of denim I bought last winter from Spotlight in my stash, the same as I used for the Miette skirt and knew that it would give me the look I was after with the turned up sleeves.  The problem with this denim - and why I will never buy denim from Spotlight again, is that the colour is not set. (of course this can happen to the best denim but still...) This fabric was washed twice before using it and since finishing it I have washed it twice more with those 'sheet things' that you put in the wash (hopeless) and then once after soaking in white vinegar.  It seems better now, but probably needs another dose of vinegar. My hands still have a tinge of blue.  Sadly my Miette rarely gets worn because of the problem with the denim.
I made variation 1 without the gathers in an XS (despite clearly falling into an XXS at the bust and hips) as I was very worried that the size would be too small around the waist.  This was unnecessary worry as my waist is slightly smaller than the finished measurements and this denim has stretch in it, but I hate the idea of not being able to do something up.  And when I asked Ben to pin the bodice on me to make sure it fit he said that it was really tight! Mm, clearly fitting isn't his area of expertise. Next time I really need to grade from an XXS.  At least I think this is the answer? The front is fine - with the darts lining up nicely - it's just there is a lot of excess fabric around the top of the back and shoulders. You can see in this photo the excess fabric.
I find the sizing of Papercut Patterns really big and given I've sewn one, two, three Papercut Patterns now which are always too big, I should be onto the sizing by now.  But I'm not.  Next time.

There has also been mention of how short the dress is. I am 5'2" or maybe just a bit shorter and I made it as per the pattern. I like this length on me, it isn't exactly work appropriate.. but I wasn't making it for work. And with stockings on in the winter it will be fine.

The dress in total took only 2 days, plus a night for tracing. It comes together well, using a flat construction method. It is overlocked on the inside with pink thread just as I did with the Miette.
The only slow point was at the pockets which took me a while to figure out. These aren't the neatest but I know what needs to happen now, so next time I'll nail it. The inside of the pockets does show, so be careful of your fabric choice here. My whole dress is made out of denim including the facings and the pockets.
I found the facings in the pattern a little small, but ended up running a top stitch around it at the neck.  I would normally just under stitch the neck facing but felt a top stitch would be ok with the denim and something a bit like my inspiration piece.  Despite becoming almost obsessive about my ironing and grading I failed to staystitch the neckline.  I think it's ok, but gosh I was so annoyed. The step isn't in the pattern instructions, but still I should have done it.
I was also being really careful with my invisible zip but clearly not careful enough as I completely forgot to check to see if it was lined up at the back.  Urrgh. I could have unpicked it but given it was in so nicely and opening and closing like a dream (despite that somewhat major problem of not being lined up) I wasn't going to unpick a 55cm zip only to find that there were little threads all over the place to get stuck into the zipper, because that has happened before! Most Sigmas I've seen around are worn with a belt, so when I find a belt to match my boots I'll probably wear it with a belt to hide that atrocity..
So, in the end I really like this dress in denim, despite the fact that it is a bit big. I can almost see me making another lighter denim one! If I make it again, here are the changes I'll make.

1. Grading the pattern from XXS at the bust to XS at the waist
2. Shorten bodice by 1/2 inch ?
3. Stay stitch the neck
4. Insert zipper higher to reduce the gap at the back and match the seams at the back
5. Nail the pockets.

Sydney stash additions

I have just returned from a week in Sydney with somewhat more fabric for the stash than was entirely necessary, but that's what happens when you go fabric shopping at Tessuti and The Fabric Store and it is really only when I visit these stores that I stash add like this. I was joined by the very lovely Amy, Emma and Maria and my sister. This was my first 'in real life' official meeting with fellow bloggers and gosh I was nervous!  Luckily the girls were even lovelier than I had imagined them to be and I can't wait to do it again!
My workable* stash of fashion fabric is now at an all time high of 12 pieces.. not counting the boxes and boxes of scrap fabrics that I have.  A list of all the fabrics in the stash is on my current project details page.

The top piece is a checked lurex (!) which Emma and I both bought 1.2m of from the Fabric Store.  We have a mini challenge going on with this fabric and we have decided that the big reveal of our respective makes will be Valentines Day.  If it works I might wear it to a wedding in March. 

There is a stretch lace in the pile which I also noticed on Little Betty Sews blog post last night. Also some striped denim for maybe a Ninot Jacket and this cord (sadly only in the Autumn colour way) for another attempt of the Rigel Bomber.  
Those of you who follow me on instagram, may remember this fabric. It is baby blue faux fur and I just love the idea of it made up into a Rigel Bomber, but alas I left it on the shelf frightened by the construction.

For now, I have another week off to potter around the house with the kids before they go back to school and I go back to work next week, to tidy up the sewing cupboard so I can fit my new fabric in and to finish the Sigma Dress which arrived in the mail while I was away.  

*In the interests of disclosure, I also have 2 other pieces that I will probably never use that are sitting on the very top shelf of the cupboard - which I can't reach so forget about them.

Monthly focus: January, the little things

Goal number 2 for this year is to keep on improving. so despite it now being more than half way through the month I thought I should say what I'm doing in January.  This month I'm focussing on the little things... like pressing and topstitcing and grading seams.  Exciting isn't it.
I received these fabulous presents: a talilors ham and a sleeve board from my sister for Christmas which she bought at Tessuti. I never realised how useful they could be until I made my Archer and my Saiph using them. (I just wished that I'd waited until after Christmas to put the sleeves into the Archer using the ham).

I am also working my way through 40 Techniques every sewer should know on Craftsy. Has anyone else taken this course? It sounds like it would be reaaaallly dry but it's actually interesting and I am learning quite a few things.
In exciting news I am on leave now until the boys go back to school on the 3/4 February. This week we are in Sydney. We came up last night to see David Sedaris.  Aaaaaah, he was so good. Such a funny night. We laughed and laughed. If you ever get the chance to see him. DO! Even if you've never read his books or stories.  I've posted previously this story in the New Yorker which pretty much sums up my ability with the French language and his skill as a story teller.

No sewing this week, but I have a voucher to spend at Tessuti (also from my generous sister) so a mandatory event while here will be a trip to Tessuti and also my first ever visit to the Fabric Store.  This will all depend on the weather as we are staying at Bondi but I think it will be on Saturday. Let me know if you are going to be around those parts on Saturday or any other time this week!  We just received and invitation to a wedding in March where the dress code is formal/cocktail so will be keeping my eyes open for some fabric for that. No plans as yet for a pattern, I'll just wait and see what fabric I find first. 

In the meantime, I'm sure to be posting plenty of touristy Sydney photos on instagram.

FINISHED! Striped Saiph

Today I have my finished Papercut Patterns Saiph tunic to show you!  I know, another 'drop waist' style. I promise I have some non drop waist styles in my future.  Really!

Toni Maticevski
At Addicted to Fabric late last year I found a lovely navy striped linen. Very sheer but with a lovely stiff drape - a bit like a silk organza? They don't often have navy based fabrics - usually stocking a majority of black and grey fabrics, so quite a few times, I picked up the roll, walked around the shop and put it back, not so sure what I would do with a sheer linen. Of course by the time I decided that I had to have it, there was only 1.5 m left.  I took it home still completely at a loss as to what to make with it - knowing that I'd probably have to line it and it wasn't enough to make a dress. Eek. I rarely buy fabric that doesn't have a plan attached to it, but this was one of them.

Inspired partly by this dress by Toni Maticevski (an Australian designer) that I saw on one of the screens at the Modern Love exhibition in Bendigo (Fortunately a bit of detective work by MaciNic yesterday identified it as his. I had taken a blurry photo of it on my camera but couldn't remember the details of the dress) and also by Marc Jacobs (of course) I decided to trial the Saiph tunic with stripes.

I bought the Saiph pattern and the Rigel Bomber when the new Constellations season was launched last year, and on Friday I purchased the Sigma dress.  I see a few papercut pattern makes in my future! Papercut Patterns really are beautifully packaged, but I'm going to go against the grain. I prefer a PDF pattern now.  I hate tracing and I enjoy sticking those sheets together! Anyway, the Saiph has two variations. For a really cool version of Variation 1, check out the inimitable Sallieoh. Obviously I didn't have enough fabric to make it with sleeves so made a sleeveless version of Variation 2 and this variation provided an opportunity to use the stripe.
I lined the whole thing in a cotton voile, which works pretty well with the linen. The lining is just a mimic of the actual dress attached at the arms and neck. I wasn't sure whether to attach the lining to the dress or just let it hang, but opted to join them about an inch or so on each side.  It works, but not sure if this is 'constructionally correct'.  I'd love to hear your thoughts as to what you would have done.
Overall, I'm very happy with my workmanship on this dress. The construction is simple (only 3 pieces and a simple button closure - which could easily be omitted), so I tried hard on the little details like pressing and understitching and matching. I did a simple rolled hem from my overlocker on the lining, but for the dress did a teensy tiny hem using the same method I learnt with Gertie's Sailor Blouse. It worked well. As you can see the dress is pretty short so I was trying to limit the hem.  By the way, I'm short. Just shorter than 160cm (5'2") so if you are taller you might need to think about how long you might like the dress.  With a bag over the shoulder it does tend to ride up a little!
The only issue is really the size. I was approaching this dress as an experimental dress and part of that experiment was to check the size.  I made an XS but in hindsight could/should have made a XXS. It is big although the plus with that and due to the fabric drape it has a great trapeze look.  
The only major problem is the armscye. It is huge.  Noted for next time! I think even with a sleeve in it would be too big. If I keep my arms down though it's not noticeable.. so the arms will stay down when I wear it.  
This dress makes me feel very 60's mod.  It is fun!  Many years ago I used to have a little pink shift dress made by Morrissey Edmiston (in the late 1990's? that's how old I'm talking) that I used to love to wear out and about when I lived in Sydney. This dress makes me feel how I did in that dress all those years ago!  

FINISHED! Bubble Shorts

I really like the Colette Iris shorts. They are a great pair of classy shorts and the ones I made with my giveaway denim are on high rotation in my wardrobe. I plan to make another pair, but I also like a slightly slouchier, baggier short.

For ever I have had a pair of shorts pinned on my pinterest board from Hello Beautiful The problem is that they are for a little girl. Not a woman of substantial more years...but I didn't care and continuted to think about them. Oh who cares about age appropriate! 
I was down at the fabric shop on Saturday for no other reason than it was Saturday and they are closed on Sunday and I have a voucher so was looking for something to do (!!!?) and found some navy linen which reminded me that I wanted to make a pair of baggy/cuffed shorts. I then started flicking through the pattern books (which I never do) for shorts patterns and found Burda 7227 which I figured looked easy enough and sort of the same style.  So given all the patterns were half price I bought it and 1.4 m (as per pattern). By the way, I was surprised that these shorts would need that much fabric but there you go.
Once I got home I googled the pattern and  found the cheekychacha had made them for her daughter. Not sure what to say about my style icons! A 5 year old and a tween.. feeling a bit like a phoney making a burda 'young' pattern I continued. I wanted them to be slightly 'rounder' than the pattern picture, so cut out the 12 although realistically should have cut the 10 as there is a bit too much fabric around the waist which you can see bunching up a bit in the photos. 
The make is easy but seemed to take me quite a while to finish. I used elastic in the waist as per the pattern  but instead of putting elastic in the legs, gathered (not very evenly sadly) the legs and added the cuff on. 
There's not much more to say except that pocket sits pretty low so it's hard to comfortably put your hands in - I feel like I have to lean down.  Clearly made for someone with longer arms.
I think this is a semi success. I'm a fan of these shorts despite the fact that they might not be the most flattering thing I own. I feel very comfortable in the style.  It feels me. The only thing is that despite wanting a slouchy, casual elastic waisted short, I now feel that the elastic in the waist lets it down and I probably should have looked harder for a style with a  zip closure.

But will I wear them? You bet! In fact I'm going to wear this exact outfit to work tomorrow for 'casual' friday.

The shorts are of course paired with my Valentino Silk Scout tee and yes, I have to take those Christmas lights out of the garden this weekend!

FINISHED! A bit of selfless sewing to start the year

I decided to start the year off with a bit of selfless sewing prior to getting on with my current project. A little sacrifice to the sewing gods for a year of great sewing perhaps? 

First up some oven mits.  I had made a few of these oven mits for Christmas presents and Ben complained as he had been asking me for a pair all year to replace the oven cloths I had made him when I first started sewing.  I must say that I had reached the point with those oven cloths that they were an embarrassment and felt compelled to replace them.
The pattern is Lotta Jansdotter from her book Simple Sewing.  The fabric is Melody Miller, Ruby Star Sparkle & green colourway of a fabric with writing on it for the inside including Je Vous en Prie and of course Insulbrite.

I also had an overdue baby present, so made up a pair of baby bloomers and a baby kerchief in Liberty of London Tom's Jets.
For the baby bloomers I used The perfect diaper pattern.  Lotta Jansdotter has a good pattern in her baby book which I had made ages ago.  I varied the pattern and attached a small waistband casing for the elastic and also used binding for the legs which I folded to the inside.

I used this tutorial from Tessuti for sewing the elastic in:
The kerchief is using my own 'pattern'.  I love a kerchief for babies, especialy little boys, they are just too cute.  I used jersey (yes jersey) for the back left over from my sewing dare.  This was the first time I had used jersey on the back and I love the result.. it is so soft. Perfect for a baby. This kerchief is a bit big for a baby but is easily adjustable by folding it over such as in the photo.

Sewing karma now back in the positive.. it's back to sewing for me.

What is your first project for the new year?


The final post in the Top 5 of 2013 series.   There is such a long list of sewers who have taken part in this annual event- check over with Gillian for the full list.  

First a quick reflection on 2013. I loved a lot of my 2013 makes (though I still look at them with critical eyes and think I could have sewn them better), I virtually 'met' heaps of supportive sewers, guest posted and was featured in Sew Liberty. I wore a large percentage of me mades during the year, but mainly blouses, skirts and dresses oh and one swimsuit.

During the year I also took on a Sewing Dare from Gillian and Maria, which is such a fun outfit
Sewing dare outfit in the wild!
to have in the wardrobe.  I knitted using double pointed needles (but only baby leg warmers and baby beanies) and I abandoned only one garment., the dastardly Rigel Bomber.

My goals for 2013, were:
  1. Me Made May - Yes!  And will do again in 2014. Despite the sometimes annoying burden of the daily photo, there is such great camaraderie that it is a bit addictive. Like Gabrielle last year, maybe in 2014 I should try and take photos at different locations. 
  2. Sew Independent Pattern Makers - Yes, but not exclusively. I did try out new patterns by Tilly, Papercut Patterns, Pauline Alice, Sinbad and Sailor, By Hand London, Tessuti and Grainline. 
  3. Choose Wisely - I think I did. I tried not to overcommit. I sometimes felt the pressure to have something new to post, but in 2013 took on some slightly longer (for me) projects. I bought patterns though that I'm never going to make up so I need to do another giveaway soon I think. 
  4. Keep on improving - this year I made muslins for the first time (quick and dirty but they were made). I tackled marginally more difficult projects, but in 2014 I'd really like to be able to talk about a make without feeling like I have to point out all the problems with it.
  5. Be organised - I started the year with a spreadsheet of all my makes but gave up on it.  I think I might set up a binder/book like Gail to better record my projects.  I didn't accumulate much of a stash but have a few pieces that need sewing up.
Anyway, not a bad scorecard for the year.  So with all that in mind, here are my 2014 Goals

1. Canberra sewers group/meetup.

There has been talk of this lately with Amanda and Maria, and Myra and Jen and I'm sure there are other Canberra sewers who might be interested in a catchup - regular or once off.  It seems a shame to live in such a small city and not try for a meetup. Maria suggested one for Me Made May which is a great idea.  Perhaps an earlier one could also be organised and I really like the idea of a regular sewing catchup.

2. Keep on improving

Maybe this year I might even build project checklists that ensure I read the instructions first (!) and allow sewing in smaller increments to take the 'rush factor' out of each garment.  That sounds ominous but I like a checklist and I would like to be proud of the sewing on my garments this year.

I'm going to continue to take online courses to build on skills (I'll know what I need to learn because I'll have read the instructions first). I would like to take a course but the times don't work for me so I think this year I will need to do 'virtual' classes. 

Oh and maybe sometimes I might make a muslin 

3.  Try the things that seem too hard and master the things I have tried.

It's probably destined for failure if I put a specific make on this list, but I really want to do the Rigel Bomber and after seeing the flower bomber on Lily Sage and co in THE Fabric of 2013 I am more determined than ever to get this made up. I just need the right fabric now.

This year I should master zippers.  And shirts collars. End of story.

4. Knit Socks ...?

I really want to be a sock knitter. I feel like all the cool kids do it and I want to be able to do it as well. We have a few holidays planned this year including France in December/January and remembering how I was last year away from sewing for so long I really want to master this. Knitting those little baby leg warmers on dpn was really fun but surely I can do more than that?  
Outside la droguerie, Strasbourg
That's enough goals for 2014!

Thanks everyone for all your comments and support and friendship over 2013.  It really is an amazing community.  Hope to see some of you in person in 2014.

 Happy days of sewing and crafting for 2014.