TOP 5 of 2014: Top 5 misses

Earlier in the week I posted the hits of 2014 yesterday and now here are the misses. Enjoy!
Top 5 2014 #sewingtop5
1. Sigma - Bad Fit
I love the idea of this dress. The denim, the rolled up sleeves. I really love it, but the fit is just awful. I have worn it out once and I even fixed the misalignment of the waistband, but it is just too big in the bodice and under the arms and sits aawkwardly.  I haven't returned to this pattern, although perhaps I could drop a size and it might be better.
2. Victor Chambray - Bad Stitching
Despite loving the chambray on chambray styling of the photos, I have just never worn this top. I find the topstitching to be poorly executed.  It is destined for the scrap heap. I haven't returned to this pattern either. To fix it I would need to add a bit of length and work out how to attach the collar better. And maybe hide that topstitching in a patterned fabric!
3. Never worn dresses
Another Republique du Chiffon make,  I do love the Robe Monique dress, I just have never worn the dress.  It definitely feels too big (I should have made the size down - yes the same old problem) and also I just never found an opportunity to wear it. Will I ever wear it? We'll see.

I've also never worn this Saiph tunic. No reason either, just no occasion and my other dresses always seem more me. I did love doing this challenge though with Emma!
4. Chandeliers Dress - Wrong Pattern
Oh now this was a massive disappointment. This Tessuti fabric is so luxurious that I can't believe I made such a mess of it.  If I could work out a way to refashion  it in a way that I would actually wear I would.... and one day I will because the fabric is too good to waste. Poor pattern choice (for a stretch not a silk) and probably the placement isn't quite right.  I didn't buy quite enough fabric and it sits too tight across my bottom!  Aaah, my face says it all... although looking at this now it probably isn't so bad...
5. Pont des Arts Culottes - SHOCKING pattern placement!
I had a little pattern placement problem with my dungafores, but nothing prepared me for the worst of all the pattern placement fails. These Girl Friday culottes never saw the light of day, I couldn't even bring myself to photograph them on me.  They won't either because I have since cut them up for a refashion when we return from holidays. The fabric is an absolute delight though and I haven't given up on it.  I bought it from Designer Fabrics Australia and as you can see from the photos on her page, it is a wonderful symmetrical print of, what I think are, locks. I had envisioned a fabulous pair of Pont des Arts culottes, although the story of the locks becoming a symbol of danger rather than love in the linked article should have warned me.  
Front of culottes - closed they aren't such a problem
The locks are very big, bigger than I expected so was faced with a cutting dilemma. Stubbornly I never deviated from the culottes idea, but got scared when faced with these gigantic locks and the symmetry of the fabric. I should have just embraced it, but on the sides, I completely chickened out with the symmetry and cut so that the locks didn't line up. I really like this effect, on the sides, but didn't continue with it at the front or back and stoically went with symmetry.  Mmm, I should have stuck with a consistent print plan!   They don't look that bad do they...oh yes they do.  I forgot to take a picture of the front 'opened up', but just look at the back.  Mmm. Yes, those blue 'arrows' are pointing right to my bottom and what are those pink locks doing there?
..And when the back pleat opens up, which it naturally will....  What. Is. That?  
Yep, pretty awkward.

What were your biggest fails this year? Bad sewing, bad fabric choice or was it like me and a really awkward pattern placement!?

TOP 5 of 2014: The hits

For the past couple of years 2012 and 2013, I have participated in Gillians Top 5 series. I like doing it as it provides an opportunity to reflect on my year of sewing. I should probably reflect like this on other parts of my  life! I have finally written up the first two categories, the hits and the misses. The Hits in this post and the misses to follow shortly (for some reason they didn't like being in the same blog post! I don't blame them).
Top 5 2014 #sewingtop5
I had quite a few makes this year that I absolutely adore that just fit perfectly into my wardrobe. Not necessarily perfectly executed but are just right for me. It must have been a good year, because it was difficult to narrow it down, but here goes:

1. The endless procession of peplums
The Named Kanerva is one of my favourite patterns of all time and while the buttons on my jewel version aren't positioned exactly right, there is something about this style of top that I find flattering and my Atrium kanerva gets worn weekly.  I continued to experiment with the peplum during the year and ended up with two other tops I made that I adore: the wildflowers peplum and then my Rachel de Thames hoodie (which is seeing a lot of use at the moment).  Long live the peplum.
2. Dungarees
Pauline Alice produced some great patterns this year and I was lucky enough to be a tester for a few of them. The Turia Dungarees are my favourite. I tested this pattern with chambray and then made up a cute pinafore pair which surprisingly gets worn a lot!  I love my chambray pair but some bad stitching with the flat felled seams has meant that they are starting to fall apart. That doesn't stop them from being a hit though and I'll remake them next year.

3. Frocktails dress
The fabric for this dress was like a bolt of goodness at Spotlight. I just couldn't believe how fantastic it was. Fluro and textured, it was just calling out to be made up into a dress.  I was so happy with how this dress turned out. It is a simple style, based loosely on the Kanerva (of course) but I love it.
4. Culottes
It all started with #teamculottes captain Debbie, producing pair after pair of fabulous culottes, and then with the release of the Girl Friday culottes pattern by Liesl and Co there was no excuse. My first pair was made up in a difficult silk and my second in the pineapple fabric that is sweeping the nation. Both pairs are a bit big in the waist but I am sure will fit perfectly once I return from France! The movement at the waist definitely doesn't stop me from wearing them and the silk ones have already had a lot of work air time and the pineapple ones will continue to be on high rotation when I return.
5. Skippy dress
This was a surprise hit for me.  I was asked if I wanted to participate on a blog tour with this dress and on first looking at it was not sure at all what fabric I was going to use. Luckily I came across this thick stripey ponte at Spotlight which I think is the perfect fabric. This dress is 100% me, stripes, drop waist, a bit blousey in the top. The scoop neck and kangaroo pouch are two things that I wouldn't normally sew, but I just adore this dress and again gets worn a lot - both to work on casual Friday's and on weekends.
So there you have it. what I think are my hits for the year. Next up, the misses....;(

WINNER! Handmade bags in Natural Fabrics

Thanks everyone for your entries and for all your tips for hand made presents!  The winner of the Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics is.... Aussiegirl.
Email me your address at kirsty dot bunfield at gmail dot com and I'll get it out in the post tomorrow!

GIVEAWAY! Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics

I've recently been sent a couple of Japanese books (in English) by the team at Tuttle Publishing. I thought I'd talk about this one first, Handmde Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Tahashi. My mind is swimming with Christmas present ideas and for those of you who like to stress yourselves out at this time of the year - like I do- and make quite a few presents (including teacher presents) then I think you will definitely find something in here that would make the perfect present... or just something lovely for yourself.  I wish I'd had this book before I made most of this year's presents!!
This book contains 25 basic bag styles along with 60 simple variations, some are just simple embellishments. The book comes with fully sized patterns which I like for those that aren't simple rectangles, although of course the patterns are layed on top of each other so you do need to locate the pattern and trace it. The book though is layed out beautifully. There are clear instructions and guides on the techniques required including some simple embellishments. Often Japanese books feel a bit light on with the instructions, but there is plenty of help in this one.
I'd say that most of the bags in this book are simple to make. There are only a couple with zippers or frames, so the book would really suit a beginner or someone who is looking to have a consolidated set of simple bag patterns.
My personal favourites are the checkout bag and the eco bag which folds up into a pocket to put in your bag. A perfect teacher present if you ask me! I'm hoping to make up an eco bag over the next few days.
I have a spare copy of this book to give away just in time for Christmas.  If you'd like to win a copy just leave a comment.  The giveaway closes Monday 15 December to give me time to post it out before the holidays.  (Open to international readers :)) Are you making presents this Christmas? Do you have a go to handmade gift?

FINISHED! Pineapples are so hot right now Culottes

The sewing world has gone culottes crazy and I am no exception. Here is my third pair. My second pair are 90% finished but pattern placement issues have prevented me from finishing them.  I might take some photos of the pattern placement nightmare on them for some end of year bloopers as part of the top 5 series. They are definitely in for winner of worst pattern placement faux pas of the year. Stay tuned.
But back to these ones. Oh I love them so don't even start on pattern placement with these ones! This fabric is from Darn Cheap Fabrics, and I know you will see it pop up all over the blogs over the next few weeks. It's my candidate for fabric of the year! A lot of very cool people have bought it and may also be heading down the pineapple culottes route.  And why not!  This fabric has already been seen on Emma of Ernest Flagg, in a Kelly skirt. The fabric is a heavy linen blend. It has a lovely drape and doesn't crush! And well, pineapples are so hot right now!
I bought the fabric at Darn Cheap Fabrics last week in Melbourne after seeing the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition and having an all round fantastic day.  Thanks again Nic for convincing me to go down and for organising an awesome day of chatting, laughter, fabric shopping and JPG! And for driving me around!!

Please do yourself a favour and get to the JPG exhibition if you can. It is just so incredibly inspiring!!
For these culottes, I once again used the Liesl and Co Girl Friday pattern.  I really like this pattern and the fact that they are a bit full and skirt like - not just wide leg pants.   And I really like how the zipper is hidden in the pocket. I used the same size as my silk ones, although I worked out the side seams better in this non slippery fabric and gosh it looks nice.  Doing the side seams correctly also reduced the waist a fraction from my other pair.
I ended up taking 8 cms (4 from each side) from the back pleat and as a result the waistband wraps a bit further back, but I like the extra wrap. I should have taken some from the front because there is significant ease but it's not enough of a problem to bother me.  Of course I could probably go down a size, but now I know what to do with this pattern, I think I'll just stick with these changes.
And a final photo bombed shot to see how long I made them. They are long! I'm not sure proportionally for my height they are right, but do you know, they feel the perfect length when I'm wearing them... and sometimes that's all that matters.  Is this the end of the culotte making for me? Oh I don't think so!  Are you on the culotte trend?  If not, why not!!!

I'll be back very soon with a couple of very cool Japanese books and some giveaways. It's Christmas after all!!

FINISHED! Undercover Marthe

I have been working on some more culottes but I needed a break from them so decided to sew up the other piece of Liberty of London Linford Fleece I had in my stash.  It takes up quite a bit of room and I thought I might be able to make up another garment to take overseas.  I'm also off to Melbourne on Wednesday for the day and I have every intention of adding to my stash there!  This Rachel de Thame fleece came from Tessuti. I bought it off an instagram photo and was so over joyed when it arrived because, to be honest I wasn't exactly sure what fabric I was buying at the time and I have been really wanting this one.
Fabric story: Liberty of London's AW13 Five Senses collection contains a capsule pertaining to Taste. Rachel de Thame was designed by Central Saint Martins’ student Morgan Levy. The leaves are taken from blackberries, which can be used to create natural dyes. Rachel de Thame, a judge of the 2011 Central St. Martin collaboration, selected this design. 
When I made up the Republic du Chiffon Marthe blouse recently I always had in mind that I might use this pattern to sew up the fleece.  This year I have been obsessed with this silhouette and while I like the Marthe as you know I was a bit disappointed with the size of the neck. That, I should say hasn't stopped me wearing it constantly on the weekends. It really is a great weekend blouse. Anyway, I also had in mind that I wanted to add a hood to the pattern to make it a really snuggly make. 

Well, snuggly it is. Instead of the Marthe pattern, I returned to the Papercut Patterns undercover hood pattern, which I've made up here and here.  I raised the neck ever so slightly on the pattern and used the hood piece. The hood piece is heavy as it is two pieces of fleece, but I really like it.  I cut a piece the width of the fabric for the peplum and gathered to fit.   The Marthe curves this seam a bit but I cut just it straight, similar to my wildflowers make. 
Where I could, I top stitched the seams, including at the raglan sleeves, the neck and the gathered 'skirt'. I had a bit of a brain lapse and didn't overlock the sleeves, but hopefully they won't fray.  The wrists and hem are turned under then stitched with a twin needle. I keep reaching for a kangaroo pocket in this top, but I think that might have been just a bit too much.  

While it is probably a predictable make for me, I love it and can't wait for the temperature to drop!

FINISHED! Snuggly Saxby Dress

I bought 1.5 m of Saxby (colourway B) Liberty Linford Fleece from the Workroom back in the middle of winter here and because it took a little while to come all the way from Canada, once it arrived, I had moved onto Spring sewing.  Funnily enough with temperatures in the mid to late 30's on Friday, I became 'winter inspired' again and decided my next project was going to be to cut into my precious fleece.  It's not all madness as we are off to France for 6 weeks in December, so my mind has turned momentarily to what I should make/pack for the trip and today the temperature plummeted so it was perfect weather to sew up a cosy outfit. 

This is my first ever piece of Liberty Linford Fleece and it feels so snuggly. Oh so cosy! The print is Saxby and is from the Liberty Art Fabrics Collection AW 14.  The design was inspired by the decorative bird life at Mount Stuart in Scotland, in particular the parrots in the drawing room. To design the print, the birds were painted onto canvas in a loose, free style, and then merged to create a rich feather texture.
When I bought this piece I really didn't know what I was going to do with it. I don't really sew that much in fleece (although I also have another piece of Liberty Linford Fleece so watch this space!), but inspiration struck and I've sewn up a dress. I probably could have just sewn it up as a Coco, but instead I pulled out my hacked Kanerva I used to make my frocktails dress and used that as the base.  It is a medium/heavyweight with no significant stretch so I sewed it up with the darts and everything. 
I added navy ribbing to the neck and wrists, to make it even more snuggly. I worried that maybe it made it too sporty? but I kind of like it. There isn't really anything else to say about the construction, other than I added vilene bias tape to the hem for stability which worked a treat and then I double stitched it. I haven't top stitched the neck down but I'll see if it needs it.
Will it get packed in my suitcase for France? It might. It's snuggly, warm and comfortable and goes with my boots!

FINISHED! Ciara Marthe Blouse

The new Republique du Chiffon pattern, the Marthe Blouse was released last week and it quickly sky rocketed to the top of my sewing list. I adore the lose peplum style and while it is not dissimilar to the top I made from Liberty Wildflowers a few months ago, which had turned into one of my most worn tops, I thought the raglan sleeves might add interest and I was interested in making a top that had a higher neck. I was taken in with the line drawing and the fabulous photos.
I chose a Liberty that I had in the stash, which I bought on a bit of a whim when the latest collection was released called Ciara C.  The Ciara design was originally for a scarf in 1969 and has been recently redesigned for the Classic collection.   
The pattern only comes in pdf, which is fine by me and the pattern is in French, but don't let that stop you as there are plenty of pictures and this is a very simple pattern, so I didn't always use the instructions.  Like all the RdC patterns, it is necessary to add seam allowance. 
The pattern back is cut in two pieces and the pattern calls for either an invisible zip or a button at the neck. Given the closure requirement (and the line drawing), I was expecting that the neckline would be much higher, thus requiring a button, but on trying it on I realised that the neck was wide and definitely did not require any fussing around with closures. I simply sewed up the back seam. Unfortunately while I didn't need the closure this meant that the neck was not at all what I was hoping for.  I really wanted it to be a smaller round neck which would act as a contrast to the volume. Oh well, it's not bad how it is, just not what I had wanted.   
I sewed the arm seams up a little smaller to try and take some width out of neckline. I also took an inch and a half out of the length of the bodice, bringing the skirt seam up. I really like where that sits. I took about 2 inches off the length of the sleeves but I find myself wanting to push my sleeves up even more so perhaps I should have made them just a tad shorter.  
Rather than gather the 'skirt' traditionally using 2 or threads, I used my overlocker. This worked ok, but I think I'll be going back to the gathering method next time.While I hate pulling those threads I feel as if the gathers look a bit pleated on this make. 
Have you been participating in Amanda's #bpSewvember on instagram? It has been so much fun and there is still more than half of November to go! I  The other day we had to do our #favouritefinish and Jillian said her favourite finish is a Woo Hoo finish. What a great interpretation. Sadly, while this is a fun make, the fabric is fab and  I'll wear this during summer with my Iris shorts, it isn't exactly the woo hoo finish I was hoping for. C'est la vie! 

FINISHED! A dress for race day

This was supposed to be a fun post about the dress I made and wore for Melbourne Cup day. Australians all know the Cup, but for those of you not in Australia, this horse race really does 'stop the nation'! Almost everyone watches the race.  Workplaces (that still work on this day -Victorians get the day off) usually have some form of lunch and then all crowd around a tv (or mobile phone!) to watch the race at 3pm.  I love the day. I always make a special effort for work, wear something fun, don a fascinator, have a glass of champagne and always buy too many entries in a sweep thinking that I'm going to win and never do. Unfortunately yesterday was marred after two of the horses died after this years race, so I have been torn as to whether or not to share this dress, but I have decided to share it. I'm sorry if it offends anyone.
I found this fabric for $5/m, clearly polyester, at Spotlight and immediately had in mind a Melbourne Cup dress. Seriously, it has every type of horse event on it so it was an obvious decision. I have had a bit of 'post make' regret that I didn't just make a skirt that I would be able to then don a stripey top with (my usual neutral), but that wouldn't be 'Melbourne Cup'. A dress it had to be and a pussy bow seemed appropriately costumey for the Cup.
I have been extremely busy lately and I knew the time leading up to Cup Day would be limited so I decided to go with a tried and true pattern: W from 'Les Coleurs Francaise' by Tsukiori Yoshiko.
I have used this pattern many times, hereherehere, here and here, Phew That's a lot of times! It is originally a top pattern, but this is the second time that I have lengthened it into a short dress.
I didn't quite have enough fabric to match the rows of horses up exactly so I matched up the stripes but just not the exact horse pattern. I don't mind it in fact - it provides a little bit of interest on the sides. And I love the orange collar!
The colour probably doesn't do my hair and complexion any favours but a dress for the races, should be a bit over the top and the colours I think are perfectly flashy for the races. I did wear a fascinator but it was a bit boring and rushed so I don't have any photos of me wearing it.  Next year I'll start earlier and raise the standard of my fascinator. On the day, this was a very fun dress to wear and I got a lot of comments about it .. and my orange shoes!