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A quick sew Azaire | by Meredith

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I’m in the midst of a major clean-up at my house. I feel like I’ve been at it for weeks, but I am slowly making progress. It's time for the Tupperware drawer to be sorted, but I just can’t face it. The Azaire by Gather has been calling my name and I’m sorry, but today, it will take precedence. I have made both the top and the dress. Clearly, I’m thrilled with the result, and decided to make the two garments.

The top and the dress have a boat neck, peplum and a short petal sleeve.  There is a ¾ length variation in the sleeve as well, but I’m sticking to the shorter length and will wear a cardigan if I need to. The hem dips slightly on the back of both the top and the dress.

I made a wearable toile in a lightweight viscose remnant I had purchased for the top and really only had two adjustments for the pattern to fit me nicely. There was a slight [2cm] gape at the front neckline that I folded out of my pattern before I cut the dress out. The other issue for me, as always, was the width of the sleeve across my arm. I added a good inch to stop any pulling.

The fabric in the dress is called Blossom Shell by Atelier Brunette. It is a viscose rayon and feels divine, nice and cool for stinking hot days. Stitch 56 does stock this brand but unfortunately, I think I got the last piece of this gorgeous little number. I did line it in a bemsilk just to feel more comfortable. The fabric is quite fine and I figured if I was standing in the sun you could probably see through it. I have to say the lning also makes the dress sit well.

I like that both the dress and top aren’t too fitted down the body. It just skims instead of being super fitted.

This felt like a fairly simple make, up to the invisible zip. They’re always tricky. My tip is to hand sew the whole thing in first, including the centre back seam, and that way you reduce any bubbling at the bottom, and minimise movement while putting the zipper in. 

The instructions are great, with little diagrams by each step, and don’t we love that! Makes our sewing life a lot easier.

I really must get back to my tidying. Do you think I could just start another sewing project before the kids get home? Yeah… what the heck!

Note the little pile of unfolded washing to the left.

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A Helmi in Shine | by Sarah W.

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I've got to say, I'm all smiles about this project!


How could I not be - a beautifully drafted pattern combined with a very chic French fabric. This is the Named Helmi, the shirt/blouse variation made up in some beautiful Atelier Brunette cotton Shine in Blue-Black, both available from Stitch 56 here and here.

As you can see, I decided to leave off the 'trench' details of the shirt - the shoulder flaps, cape and sleeve belts/buckles. I felt that the drape of the cotton might not suit those details, and I also wanted it to be less fussy. A drapey solid rayon or silk would suit those details more than a cotton with body.


The fabric was a delight to work with. It's slightly sheer, presses beautifully but does crease a little with wearing. I made sure to prewash before I sewed it up. I've worn this shirt quite a few times before I was able to get these photos and there's been no shrinkage.  


The pattern I can't fault. Unusually for me, my measurements put me in one straight size, and I'm very pleased with the fit. I made my standard small forward shoulder adjustment of 1cm, and that's it! No other alterations!

Tips to make your Helmi construction smooth - I'd highly recommend using a pressing jig (a piece of cardboard the width of the different folds) for the placket, especially if you use a slinky fabric. The placket is very easy to sew, and it's worth noting that the buttonholes are sewn before the collar is attached. I'd also recommend reducing stitch length when sewing the curves on the collar - I didn't do this, and as you can just see, the curve is just not super smooth - I know I'm being picky!



I love that button placket! My sewing machine makes rather unpredictable buttonholes, and it's so nice to have them hidden away! I still used these cute little buttons with asymmetric holes.

I briefly considered adding some cuffs and a placket to the sleeves from another shirt pattern, but decided to hold off - I've plenty of leftover fabric so could always do this down the track. I mostly wear my sleeves a little rolled, so took care to french seam the sleeves (remember Named patterns generally have a 1cm seam allowance).

I have been wearing this both with the collar buttoned right up (much to the amusement of my husband who has decided it's my new hipster look) and undone. The collar shape is very sweet without being twee. The side slits and slight high-low hemline are great details too.


I'd love to make another version - I've a piece of Helene's beautiful Merchant and Mills irish linen waiting in my stash for a shirt project. And the tunic variation.... as always, there are so many projects, so little time! 

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More time to sew! | by Sarah

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When it comes to sewing, what do you wish for the most? For many, myself included, it is time. More time to sew! Everyone has demands on their time, and if you're anything like me, you use sewing for relaxation and downtime. Effective use of time also ranks up there for me. We all know the frustration of devoting our precious time to making a garment and it just isn't quite right. But to perfect the fit on a basic garment can be such a triumph, and when those precious seconds present themselves we can dive in, knowing it won't be wasted.

I decided that this was the year I'd devote some of my precious sewing time to attempting a fabulous fit in trousers. I've tried before, with mixed success. But with a few years of sewing clothing and some fitting experience under my belt, it was time for another attempt. I wear trousers every day at work, and to have a great fit in a simple, adaptable pattern would be a dream. The Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers seemed to me to be pretty close to a trouser block - drafted for a fabric with no stretch, no waistband or pockets to faff with (just a simple faced waistline) and with multiple darts to hone a fantastic fit. 

After consulting the fantastic trousers fit book Pants for Every Body, I decided to make my toile in a checked fabric. All I had in my stash was a madras, but it still did the job - using a checked fabric helps with fit by making it easier to see distorted grain lines. I must admit initial disappointment as my first version was so tight. So tight! I was careless with my measurements. But other than needing to size up, leave off the front darts and take a 1cm wedge out of the centre front crotch (tapering to nothing at the side seams), I could see such potential.

The same day as making my toile, I signed up for a 35km charity walk with friends and began training. And 2 weeks later, I sized up without trying on my toile again. Now too big - my rump had shrunk!  But the construction of the trousers makes it fairly easy to make adjustments, by finishing the raw edges of the pieces before construction. I took in about the same amount I'd increased by around the waist and hips, and narrowed the legs a little more for a more tapered fit. The fabric choice was a bit of a disaster - a very heavy Levi's denim that wasn't at all comfortable to wear. The waistline stretched out - a combination of not stay stitching and the natural properties of the denim twill. The husband declared them "too '90s". Another version would be needed.

And so to version 3. Made in a beautiful lightweight black chambray denim, sized back down to my original toile, with a more tapered leg. I prefer a narrow leg rather than straight, and so took out a little width from the knee down, on both the inseam and outseam.

As both an experiment to prevent the waistline stretching out on this version, and an attempt at saving a little time, I sourced some very wide Petersham ribbon and used this instead of a self fabric facing. It worked fabulously, creating a nice snug fit (or, if you are my husband, a MuffinTrap).

 

I cut the waistline measurement, plus a couple of extra inches, and soaked the ribbon in hot water. I then dried it with the iron, stretching and curving it into shape to mimic the pieces of the facing. I finished the raw ends with my overlocker, then attached it like a traditional facing - grading, understitching, then securing it to the trousers by stitching in the ditch of the side seams and darts.

   

And the fit? So close to being great - there are still a few drag lines in the front crotch (that are more visible in these pics than real life) suggesting I need a smidge more length removed. And the bum is still snug - but I'm still in training and I think things will loosen up there in the coming weeks. But I really like the leg shape, especially with a little ankle cuff rolled up. It does take a little getting used to wearing trousers without stretch - it wasn't the easiest task finding a bottom weight without Lycra!

My next step with this pattern will be to adjust it for something with a little stretch. Then looking at pockets. And then learning how to make some welts to break up that bottom expanse..... Just need a little more time of course! 😉
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Sewing while never leaving the house | by Jo

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This is the first thing I have made in my new house since moving in four months ago. Moving is a crazy experience; it takes forever to unpack, organise and finally find a place for all your crap. Especially if you have as much of it as I have!
Packing up my sewing room was an eye-watering opportunity to really see how much fabric I actually have. So what better thing to do on a quiet weekend than to sew some of it up.
These pyjamas are the Megan Nielsen Reef camisole and shorts set made from the last length of viscose I bought on a viscose buying rampage I went on two years ago. The pair are a perfect match, although in a perfect world I would have contrasted this busy pattern with a plain pink fabric for the short cuffs and the camisole straps. Not today though! I was going to make do with what I had like a trooper and not buy more fabric like the compulsive little hoarder inside me was gagging to do.
Now, since Helene has asked me to make this post educational, I really wanted to show you how versatile this pattern can be. For while I fully plan to hang out in bed and sleep in these bad boys all summer, the modern single woman could also wear them while:
....looking for things....
....finding things....
.....losing things again (don't laugh, I do this all the time).....
....eating dinner.....
....then eating dessert.....
.....and then belting out All By Myself as if I were Bridget Jones circa 2001.
So there we have it, the perfect project for staying in and hanging out with all your stuff. Because if that's not part of the beauty of online shopping I don't know what is.
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Sewing For The Real You | by Meredith

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There is definitely a process I go through when deciding my next make. When choosing a pattern to make up for myself, I tend to look at shapes that will flatter my body first, and then what I would get most wear out of. The fabric comes next, determined by the pattern, and what works best with the particular style chosen.

I was quite indecisive when it came to fabric for my latest dress, Republique Du Chiffon’s Melinda dress, until the sales assistant posed the questions, “Where will you be wearing the dress?" and "What’s it for?” It didn’t take me long to see my life as it is - countless trips to the supermarket, and school drop-offs. Don’t get me wrong, this suits me just fine. If I was working nine-to-five, the lifestyle of a full-time sewing fanatic would severely suffer. This helped me enormously in my decision, and the denim-look viscose was true to the garment I was going to make.

The pattern was chosen knowing this was a style that would most flatter my body shape. I’ve written before about being a pear. As much as I’d love to wear a pencil skirt, it would look ridiculous on me. It’s really important to work out your shape, and then decide on a pattern that will enhance all the right parts, and make you feel great. Sewing can at times be disheartening, especially when a style you adore just won’t work on your figure type. Running through the measurements chart is also very important. No point cutting out a size 10, when the pattern you’re making has your measurements down as a 14. Yes, it can be that extreme. We are not buying off the rack here. If it states you’re a 14, then cut out a 14. You can always take it in.

What drew me to the Melinda dress was the detail on the top. It’s blousey, and I just love the button closure on the shoulders and the design lines across the front. If I made it again, I would probably enhance these lines with some piping in a contrasting colour. I have a feeling this is going to be my go-to dress this summer.

The most common body shapes are:

APPLE

This shape entails shoulders and hips that are in proportion with a larger waistline, often sporting good legs and a larger bust.

Apples look great in v-necks, giving an illusion of a longer torso. Also belts to pull you in at the waist, empire line tops and dresses are suitable. Shorter skirts are a great way of showing off those pins. Avoiding monochrome looks is advised.

Patterns that most suit apples are the appropriately named Appleton dress by Cashmerette and the Katha Tunic by Schnittchen.

INVERTED TRIANGLE

The triangle is often known as the swimmer with broad shoulders and a smaller waist and bottom.

You can wear bright and light colours on the bottom and high-waisted styles. Wide-leg pants and full skirts look great on you.

A couple of pattern suggestions I have for triangles are Harper Shorts and Skort by Megan Nielsen and the Astrid Wrap Pants by Named.

RECTANGLE

The rectangle’s shoulders are quite square/ athletic and are in proportion to the waist and hips. Generally, there is very little waist definition.

I would suggest choosing patterns with scoop necks or even a sweetheart neckline to create curves. Long jackets will elongate you. Tops with collars, ruffles and dresses with ruching will all work on your shape.

Both the Marie Gathered Midi Dress by Named and the Longley Drapey Cardigan in the MiY Collection would be suitable with this figure type.

HOUR GLASS

If I had a dream shape, this would be it. Proportioned through the shoulders and hips and a small defined waist. You shouldn’t hide under baggy clothes. Fitted clothes look fabulous on you. Belted waists and high-waisted skirts and skinny or straight-legged pants will look fantastic.

Pattern suggestions for hour glass are the Pulmu high-waisted pencil skirt by Named and the Safran pant by Deer and Doe.

PEAR

Last of all, the pear. Our shoulders and waists are smaller than our hips and bottoms. Anything a-line with a tapered waist is suitable. Draw attention to the upper half of your body by adding volume to the shoulders. Light-coloured tops and dark-coloured bottoms are a good idea.

Anything by Sewaholic, which are all designed for pear-shapes, and the new Rue dress pattern by Colette are great for your shape.

If you choose to make a garment in a style that suits your body shape, you will be more inclined to wear the garment. I also believe, if you’re onto a good thing and it works for you, make it again in different fabrics. Be true to yourself when choosing your pattern and you can’t go wrong.

The Melinda dress by Republique du Chiffon is the real me. It's casual and comfortable, and boasts a little bit of style at the same time. Perfect!

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