FINISHED! A stripey spring skippy dress

When I first started out sewing, one of the first patterns I ever bought was the Little Explorer pattern by Make it Perfect, to make little pants for Elliot. I loved this pattern and made it up a number of times both for him and for others.
It was with excitement then that I got an email from Toni Coward from Make it Perfect, asking if I'd like to be a part of a blog tour for her latest pattern, the Skippy.  The Skippy also has a little girl variation, the Joey, which Renae made a super cute version during testing.
It has been great to reconnect with this Australian pattern company and discover and rediscover the many patterns that Toni has released. If you don't already know about this company, you will find a plethora of patterns there for the whole family!  Anyway, I couldn't say no to the Skippy.. let's face it... it is a drop waist! And the gathered sleeves add such a cute touch.

The PDF was a cinch to put together and I really liked that pages were only joined for a particular piece of the pattern. I am the biggest fan there is of the instant gratification of the PDF, but it can be a little bit annoying taping a lot of pieces together and ending up on the floor because the result doesn't fit on any table. The instructions are thorough and were easy to follow.

I set off to find the perfect fabric but struggled as I didn't want it to be plain (no surprise) and I couldn't decide whether I wanted to make a spring version or a winter version. I do love the winter version with the twisted cowl neck. In the end this stripey ponte won out and a spring skippy it is.

The fabric choice however caused it's own problems, as a heavy ponte from spotlight (this is my favourite stripe ever but it is so hard to find it anywhere in a deep blue,so when I saw it at spotlight I had to pick it up) it has very little stretch, almost none. It is a heeaavy ponte.  I love the result on the fit and the way it hangs, but obviously such a fabric isn't great for attaching a neckband, unless you use a different fabric. 
I did the neckline an embarassing amount of times. First with the neck band, but it didn't sit flat and was never going to with so little stretch so I unpicked it and opted for the turn down approach, with some clear elastic and the twin needle. As the hours progressed I got fussier and fussier and unpicked and resewed and unpicked and resewed. With relief I can say I'm happy with it now. And I'm surprised at how much I like this scoop neck on me. Quite a different style.
The gathered sleeves went in well. I've always covetted the sleeves on this dress of Tilly's and I think next time I might make them a bit like that - especially with such a heavy knit. 

I took about 2 inches off the length of the bodice to account for my short stature, and I took a substantial amount, about 15cms off the hem.  I left the arms long and didn't cuff them but just turned them under and twin stitched. Same with the hem which I twin stitched after overlocking.
Now that it's made up this dress ticks all the spring dress boxes.  Thick enough to add a bit of warmth,  but an opportunity to get the legs out for the first time in months. I love the slightly loser fit in the top and the kangaroo pouch which could hide any lunchtime sins. This skippy I know, is going to be a workhorse during spring!

A Blog Hop

Hi, I'm popping in today as I am honoured to have been nominated in the Blog Hop by Bianca from Vintage on Tap. Do you read Vintage on Tap?  It is a new to me blog, but already a firm favourite in my reader. I'm so glad Bianca contacted me. She is clearly a lady after my own heart with some Liberty makes (including a tie out of fabric that I have - the temptation to copy is very high!!), but more than that she has a great style. I particularly like her 'set up' blog posts and her philosophy of focussing on slower, quality sewing. Defnitely go and check out her blog. I know you'll like it.

The blog hop was started a while ago and I am ashamed to say that I don't know where it started but the idea is to answer 4 questions and then pass onto 2 other bloggers who will respond to the same questions in one weeks time. First to the questions:

1. Why do you write?
I started writing so that I could participate more in the sewing community. I think instagram has now removed a little the need to have a blog for this, but when I started Top Notch in 2012, it seemed like the only way to be able to connect with other sewers. At the time I didn't really know anyone else who sewed and so talking about sewing was all online.

Like most sewing blogs, mine documents my sewing journey and love that it reference of all my makes. I started right about the time of Me Made May 2012, which allowed me to document a lot of my earlier makes as I wore them.  The blog helps me remember what I made, what went wrong, what went right.  In a way it also helps me to identify what looks good and what doesn't.  I'm sure I never used to analyse my clothes in the same way as I do now. I defnitely never had so many photos! I wonder has it made me more creative in my clothing choices as well?

Oh and of course it is a place for me to document my obsession with Liberty of London  through my Library of Liberty!

2. What are you working on?

Currently I'm working on the Skippy Dress by Make it Perfect. A wonderfully casual dress that I'm making as a 'get outside and be active' kind of dress now that spring is here. 

I am also completely besotted with some patterns in a new Japanese release, Clean and Natural, which I can't wait to start on.

3. How does it differ from others of it’s genre?

Maybe it's all about the patterns,

I'm not sure my blog is that different from anyone elses, but I do like an interesting piece of fabric. I love Liberty of London fabric and I make a lot with it.  I look forward to each of their 6 monthly releases. There are not too many finished pieces that go by before a Liberty make will pop up. Liberty fabric makes me sew better - and no I wasn't paid to say that. It just does. I always sew better with it.  Even more I love to document the history and story of this fabric, so you will always see the story behind the fabric.
The Perils of Patterns.  Limited edition print of an original watercolor painting.
'The Perils of Patterns' by Vivienne Strauss. Available on Etsy
I think most of us have problems identifying their style, but we know it when we see it.  At the moment I find the style of Republique du Chiffon, Pauline Alice and some of the Named Patterns really work for my aesthetic.  I love stripes and drop waists! I wear my handmade clothes everyday, but I wouldn't say that I ever make basics, nor do I really want to.

4 How does your writing process work?

Nowadays I usually only post on finished makes unless it's something special. I used to post more but find that this routine is working for me better.  I try to provide as many details on the make as I think are ok and won't bore everyone and as a reminder to myself if I make the pattern again.   Once I've made something, I'm definitely in a rush to post about it! 

So now to the next blog hop..

I'm nominating Myra from My-Zee-Moo  and Jen from the Stitcher and Gatherer.  Having this blog has opened up a lot of great friendships, with people who I will probably unfortunately never meet in real life, people I know I will one day meet and now people who I've met in real life and who have become really good friends.

I now have a wonderful posse of Canberra gals  after a few stars aligned earlier in the year and we all met.  I mentioned last post that Myra, Jen and Amanda and I went up to Sydney on the bus together to Frocktails. All four of us stayed together in a little hotel room and for being able to put up with my constant nose blowing and snuffling I'm now sending the blog hop to Myra and Jen, two super talented sewers with their own unique style and approach to sewing.  You can read up on their answers next week.

FINISHED! My Frocktails 2014 trompe l'oeil dress

This weekend, Amanda, Jen, Myra and I got on a Murray's Bus and road tripped it to Sydney for Frocktails. A fantastic event organised by Kat, I'm sure there will be lots of links on various blogs as there was simultaneously one in Sydney and one in Melbourne. It was so wonderful to finally meet so many sewing friends in real life.  What did I wear? Well my frock was made out of more magical fabric bought from my recent trip to Spotlight where I picked up fabric for my sister's saunio.  I spent most of yesterday in a mild state of nerves that someone else might be in a dress in this fabric. Two ladies in this fabric would have been difficult to hide. 
Yes, this one is also a 'polycotton' with a dubious mix of 96% polyester 4% spandex. But just look at those colours.  This fabric is fantastic. The colours are vibrant and neon.  At first glance the fabric looks like it should be a tweed, the fabric fooling the eye that it is woven. But no, the fabric is a thick stretch with a lovely 'bobbly' plastic like texture that is hard to not want to stroke. The back of the fabric as you can see is a white/cream. These indoor photos show the colours the best.  Needless to say I couldn't get any good photo indoors at the actual event so these will have to do. 
The dress itself is a Named Kanerva hack.  I've always loved how that top fits me so I thought I'd try making it into a dress with an invisible zip at the back. 
It is a simple shape letting the fabric do all the talking. I would have liked the top to have been slightly snugger but the slightly loser fit in the bodice has it's comfort advantages.
I love the slight A shape to the skirt and the curved hem.  I hemmed it twice worrying the first time that the curve looked odd, but realised after unpicking it that a straight hem wouldn't have allowed the dress to hang right so redid it.
I am such a fan of the higher scoop neck and long sleeve look.  Because the fabric is stretchy and quite thick, the neck is simply turned over and stitched. In order to make sure the neck sit nice and flat I put in some clear elastic...I may have pulled that just a little tight, but hopefully it's not too noticeable.  I particularly like how well I matched the sides and the back zip. Oh of course it's not perfect, but the waistband matches up and the stripes are pretty good. 
All in all, I loved wearing this dress, it felt fun and different and can't wait to pull it out again for a wedding in a few weeks.  Big kisses to all the frocktails gals and to those who would have loved to have been there but couldn't. Til next time xx

FINISHED! A selfless saunio

I have a bit of a nerve parading around here in a cardigan-jacket I made as a present for my sister, but there you go.
This is a loooong overdue birthday present for my sister. I used the Saunio pattern again by Named Clothing, last seen made up in ocean neoprene
I had a trip out to Spotlight a couple of weeks ago for tracing paper and found quite a few 'treasures' like this while I there for tracing paper. This fabric is a strange mix of cotton/polyester/spandex which provides for a fabulously textured and slightly stretchy heavy knit. It is also gentle machine washable and the slight stretch makes it, in my opinion, a perfect 'professional woman who also needs to wrangle children' jacket.
The wonderful design of the crossing over front and the dropped sleeves means that it also super easy to fit for a present. 
Constrution wise, I understiched the large facings to the jacket rather than edge stitched all the front to the facing as the fabric ironed slightly better than the neoprene. I also fixed my problem from my other jacket with the attachment of the facing and hem. So that is heaps neater on this one.
With the jacket I'm wearing an old top from several years ago in Liberty Mike B.  Blogs are all awash with Nani Iro fabric and makes at the moment and Inna and a recent make of hers, reminded of a time when I made and wore a lot of this pattern (Top C) from the Nani Iro pattern book. In fact I think I have 5 of them in my wardrobe with variations (including collars). All of mine are much shorter than the pattern and all have round necks(!).  There is definitely enough of them to do the one week one pattern challenge!