Tuesday, January 28, 2014

From Northern Europe To South Pacific

This is the last of my holiday sewing series.  I really had no intention of actually making this tee before the holidays but at the last minute felt there was something missing from my holiday wardrobe.  

This gorgeous Lycra blend fabric was earmarked for a dress because I actually had two metres of it but it matched my new hoody and shorts beautifully so it was reluctantly sacrificed for version three of Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee.  Like version two, I added 1cm to the side seams and graded out slightly at the hips.  I also needed to shorten it slightly as well.  To finish the neck, I stitched on a small band before folding it to the inside and top stitching it down.  This added stability to the neck in an otherwise quite light weight fabric.

The final touch was to twin needle the armhole openings and hem. I really should get organised and use my cover stitch machine but seem to have neither the time or patience to work out how to use it properly.  Perhaps that should have been my New Years sewing resolution!

While I was writing this post, I Wikipedia'ed (is there such a word)
Denmark, because I often wondered about the climates people live in and how this influences how we dress.  The daytime temperature on my holiday was around 23 to 25 degrees Celsius with little wind, apparently a little warmer than Denmark but about average here in New Zealand, although I must say, being a little soft, my swimwear does not usually come out of the drawer until the mercury gets much closer to 30 degrees Celsius!  With shoulder and sun coverage, I found this tee the perfect weight for a day in the mid twenties.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Blue Hawaii Set

With summer upon us and holidays looming, I was quite keen to have another attempt at making swimwear for myself.  I was really happy with last years version, but like all first attempts, I felt there was room for improvement.  My gripe with version one of McCalls 5400, although small was the that slip in padding moved around constantly and I felt that the neckband and under bust would have benefited from some concealed elastic to stop the fabric stretching out when wet.  

For my latest set though, rather than cutting into a new piece of fabric, and I have have more in my stash, I chose to use up the leftovers from last years suit.  Being a mother of three, I particularly liked the coverage the halter top appeared to give and wanted to balance out my bottom half with equally adequate coverage and to cover any potential lumps and bumps that my child bearing years have generously gifted me.  This is no easy task where a bikini is concerned.  I have actually steered clear of bikinis for the last 18 years preferring a one piece which are extremely practical when in the water but not so for extended periods, if you know what I mean!

After numerous version already, in both underwear and swimwear, using this pattern, I knew that size 12 for the bottoms would be the best fit.  I set about making the high rise version.  I must have read the pattern incorrectly as the waist elastic proved to be too tight.  After quick surgery with the scissors and reattaching a longer piece of elastic, I am pretty happy.  Now the top,  I cut to a size 10 A/B cup.  The only change I made was to add elastic underneath the cup because I noticed when I searched this pattern that the versions I had seen did not seem to sit closely to the rib cage and this I felt would look and feel much better.  For the bra cups, I cut up some cups I had rescued out of an old bra to the size I wanted and overlocked around them.  I worked out where I wanted them to sit and top stitched them to the inside of my bra cup lining.  I think the hardest part of this whole project was fitting the band clasps myself.  I don't think I have ever been stabbed with pins so much in my entire life!

My verdict with this set!  Well it performed amazingly well on the Abel Tasman track.  We walked 11kms on a warm summers day, with views of bays such as this one above Sandfly Bay  along the way.  By the time we reached our water taxi collection point, I was not in the slightest bit concerned about wearing a bikini, my only thought was how quickly could I get my weary bones into that water!

After my initial swim in my new bikini, my bikini inhibitions began to disappear.  I really like the cut and fit of this top and will definitely be making this style again.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Lucky 13th

A few days before Christmas when the weather for camping was looking less than favourable, I made a snap decision to whip up another hoodie.  I had ordered a new pattern from StyleArc which didn't arrive in time but not to be deterred I whipped out my trusty Jalie 2795 pattern.  This is version 13 of this pattern, which may be unlucky for some but this hoody went together like a dream.

I did make a couple of changes though!  This pattern does not include a front facing down the zip length which has always bothered me because when the zip is down slightly, the stitching and reverse of the zip shows.  My trusty Billabong hoodie does however have a facing and this became my template for the new one.  I used some gorgeously thick brushed sweatshirting and ribbing from this op shop haul and lined it with the bottom of this maxi dress which I recently shortened so I would get more wear out of it.

As it happened this hoodie became another of my holiday favourites.  It is seen here at 8am for a walk on the beach before breakfast to see the water taxis and launches come in.  It is in my opinion the best time of the day to be on the beach, just as it is waking up for the day.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Beach Shorts

There seems to be an over abundance of ill fitting board shorts on the beach .  Now, practicality wise, these type of shorts are great for sun protection but they are about the worst item of clothing to wear when you add salt water and sand in the mix.  My youngest son who swims competitively in lycra, now really does not like board shorts in the slightest and would much prefer to be swimming in a pair of jammers (cycle short type swimwear).  

Given my aversion to brightly coloured, ill fitting boardies, I still have a large gap in my wardrobe where a pair of shorts suitable for parental life guard duties would normally fit.  Any trip to the surf with my boys always involves me getting wet whether I intend to or not, so my much loved cotton shorts simply will not do the job.  I had in my stash a piece of dark navy coloured, mystery synthetic cotton blend picked up at the op shop.  It actually feels more like a synthetic but the burn test did reveal some burning along with melting with this fabric.

I briefly considered using Sewaholic Thurlow for the pattern for these shorts but really love the fit of these cotton duck shorts that were made as a wearable muslin using New Look 6873.  I like he pleats in the front and the pocket liners that attach to the fly giving a flat front.   Because it is such a long time since I made these shorts, and I neglected to write about it, naughty me, I had forgotten the cutting details.  I initially cut my new ones out of a pair of unworn but too big pair of track pants of my husbands.  Once I had them to try on stage though, they didn't fit.  I am not sure whether it was because of the size I cut or the fact that they had zero give.  Anyway these were tossed in the bin and I recut my new mystery fabric with larger side seams some 1.5cm wider to be sure!

Unlike the last pair I made, this time because they were intended to be worn wet or at least damp, I opted to leave off the cuffs, as much as I love them.    I just hemmed them to my desired length.     The finished shorts are a little snug around the waist, but if they do easy slightly while wearing them, they will be the perfect fit!

I have titled this post beach shorts because that was the intention with these shorts when I wrote this post pre Christmas.  These shorts however, have been worth their weight in gold during my camping trip.  Why? Well, they are not 100% cotton for a start so drying them was a breeze which is essential when camping and swimming.  Also, unlike cotton they roll up to nothing so take up very little space when packing also essential when trying to squeeze in maximum clothing to minimum space.  They have been used for hiking, day wear as well as over swim wear on the beach.  Helping Courteney pack for India was quite enlightening and has made me rethink everything I usually take camping with me.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Out Back And Beyond

For those of you who wondered if I had actually fallen off the face of the earth, you will be pleased to know that actually, I had only been out in the wilderness for a little while both literally and figuratively.  I have been camping in the breathtakingly beautiful Abel Tasman National Park where there is limited internet access and unlimited real life distractions.  Our holiday of choice is 6 hours drive from home but very much another world.  Our days were spent on the beach, walking the outstandingly beautiful Abel Tasman track, cruising the many unspoilt bays on a launch, and generally being a tourist in our own country.  Sadly it all ends tomorrow when I must return to work.  Golden Bay, I will be back!

This dress was made with this holiday in mind.  The New Zealand sun is savage and I knew we would be spending a lot of time in the sun over our two week camping break.  It did indeed come in handy especially at the end of our long day walking the track.  A swim was a must to soak our wary muscles while we waited for our boat to return to take us back to our camping spot. Towels were however, not an option in our back pack due to bulk, so this dress proved perfect to throw over wet swimwear.

I had a piece of op shop aqua coloured muslin that I had ear marked for a beach dress.  I was, however, procrastinating due to a lack of inspiration.  I knew I wanted something soft and flowy but what I didn't know was the piece I had was narrow and short and certainly not large enough for anything dramatic.

Because of the limitation imposed on me because of the fabric size, I settled on my favourite tee pattern from 2011, New Look 6648.  I cut a v-neck version and added a facing which I attached to the outside.  I lengthened the top to mini dress length.  I then added an elastic casing to the inside at waist level before threading through a piece of 1cm elastic.

I felt like the dress needed something else though and after briefly considering beading and sequins for beach bling, I experimented with decorative machine embroidery using silver metalic thread.  I am pretty happy with how this turned out.  It is crush proof (well reasonably, it has been rescued from the washing basket for this photo), practical, cool and relatively stylish....win!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Tessuti Lola Tees

Am I the only one that decides two days before Christmas that they desperately needed a new tee shirt?  Of course not!  When you get an itch you have to itch it right? 

I downloaded the pattern and it seemed like spent forever taping it up and set to work with a remnant in my stash.  I couldn't decide which size to make up and based on my measurements chose size medium.  I neglected to take negative ease into account and unfortunately version one is too big.  Never mind, I will just have to wear a camisole underneath.  The pattern just left the sleeves with a raw edge to roll but I didn't like this finish so added 1.5cm to the length and hemmed them with twin needling.

Version two, I made out of much stretchier fabric and went down to size small.  I cut the neckline a couple of centimetres higher and added 1cm to the width of the neck.  This proved to be a much better size for me.  I don't know quite what went wrong with the stripe matching though!  Who am I kidding, I know exactly what went wrong!  I rushed the cutting of this and matched the stripes at the shoulder.  I should have matched them under the arm.  They do meet up but the colours don't match...doh!

The verdict though!  I love this tee!  It is very forgiving of Christmas goodies and those 4pm drinks and nibbles in the sun!  It is a definite winner in my book and there will be more when I find the right fabric.  As simple as this top is, I actually took the time to read the instructions and I am glad I did.  I finally found the secret to perfect neckline ribbing.  The instructions, although in imperial measurements (what is up with that Tessuti), have you divide the back neck in half and remove 3/4" for each section of neckband and repeat with the front.  It works perfectly and is something I will repeat on other tops.  Thanks Tessuti!  This is now my new TNT.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Little Beachy

We have just returned from a very relaxing week camping in our new caravan at the beach.  We sold our previous caravan and bought a new one in Autumn last year so this was our inaugural summer holiday in our new caravan.  

In order to inject a little personality into an otherwise beige environment, I dug through my stash and came up with some beachy colourful remnants of fabric to make some holiday inspired cushion covers.  

The blue linen was a piece that I bought to make one of my boys some curtains and stitched stripes of natural wool to add texture. After hanging my sample I quickly changed my mind and a large piece of this fabric was tossed into the cupboard for future use. The beige linen backing was a sample that I had previously ear marked for cushions for the house.  All of the other fabrics are remnants from various projects.

The first cushion was actually inspired by a similar one I had seen on the internet (source unknown) but the second cushion was copied off the shape of our actual caravan with a little bunting thrown in for good measure.  I did have a wee smile when I arrived at our holiday spot to find an actual caravan site decorated with a very similar bunting!

I am very happy with how these two turned out and did have plans for a third in an equally summery design but the demands of Christmas got in the way.  Maybe this can be my project for next summer!