Joining the Jenna fan club

Perhaps Kat of Modern Vintage Cupcakes has a time machine of some sort, because she has such a busy life and how else could Muse Patterns exist? I’d really love a time machine too, but instead I’ll settle for her patterns; they’re gorgeous. The Jenna cardi has filled a niche and I hope it’s a huge success. It’s a great pattern and I can’t think of anything like it out there.

There are lots of versions already on the internet and here’s one more:

Muse Jenna cardi

Muse Jenna cardi

I made this in a very fine merino from Levana. I used my high bust measurement as some people had found it too big using their standard measurements. It’s still a little bit wide in the shoulders, maybe because my fabric is quite stretchy. Next time I’ll size down again in the shoulders, grading out to the waist. I lengthened it by 2cm and it’s a good length for me.

Muse Jenna cardi

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As in all my knits, I used tape to keep the shoulder seams stable. Also I sewed the button bands on, rather than overlocking them, so the inside is neater.

This involved:

  1. Sewing the flat (unfolded) button band to the front piece, right sides together
  2. Folding the band lengthwise, right side together, and sewing across the ends so they’re level with the top of the neck band and bottom of the waist band
  3. Turning the button band inside out, pinning it carefully so it just overlaps the seam in step 1, then (from the outside) stitching in the ditch along the length of the band.

There are some really nice features in this pattern. The topstitching looks really good, and so do the sleeve bands. Now to make versions 2 and 3!

a-slippin’ and a-slidin’ (and a-hidin’)

I’m a convert to slips. They’re highly functional but also make me feel like a grown up lady. I made these using some rayon from Spotlight, and the free Vera Venus bias slip pattern. It only goes up to a size 39″bust/41″hip, so I had to grade up, but it worked well. The rayon is perfect: sturdy, no special washing needed, but still light. And, since it’s a natural fibre, it breathes well and doesn’t get stinky.

Vera Venus bias slip Vera Venus bias slip

For the top front edge, you can add lace or finish with a decorative stitch; the pattern suggests a shell stitch. For a laugh, here’s the black one I did by hand, compared to the white one I did by machine (using a blind hem stitch).

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Oh dear. Remind me not to take up embroidery.

And, just for the record, some fun PJ pants made out of Spotlight flannelette, and a basic self-drafted pattern. Judging by the selvedge, the print seems to have been made by a student at RMIT.

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Can you see the animals hiding badly? Aren’t they gorgeous?

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(These have been worn a bit already; sorry about that! I love them.)

Presents are the best, featuring Colette Hawthorn

Colette Hawthorn blouse

For my birthday this year, my awesome sisters gave me a Colette Hawthorn pattern and some fabric to make it with. What do you think?

Colette Hawthorn blouse

I’m one of the lucky people for whom this pattern is a perfect fit. When I first looked at the pattern pieces I thought “Just one giant waist dart? That’ll never work” – but somehow it does. And I love the little neck darts at the back that prevent back-neck gape.

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Changes:

  • I made the sleeves a wee bit longer, rather than the cap sleeves in the pattern.
  • I lengthened the front of the collar by 4.5cm on each side, so it ends at the centre rather than halfway up the neck opening.
  • I neatened the edge of the facing by sewing it and the interfacing right-side-together before turning it inside out and then pressing (Sophie-Lee explains this better than me).
  • I hemmed it with bias tape and a blind hem.

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  • And I retraced the facings into two pieces, with a seam at the centre back. No particular reason, other than that it saved sewing a few seams.

However, if you change the pattern you’ve got to turn your brain on, and not cut two identical facing pieces! Can you see this? One of them is wrong-side-up (I didn’t have enough fabric to cut another one).

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And make sure you sew the facing seams right-side-together! (Luckily this is at the back neck and no-one will see it but me – I might even cover it with a label).

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So, minor errors aside, this is a total win. I love it. Best present ever.

Travelling light with the Lady Skater

This year I had a rather nice holiday to central America, and wanted to travel light. I was inspired by people who can manage with a carry-on suitcase. So, I made three Lady Skaters. Possibly this is the most popular pattern on the internet, and for good reason. It’s perfect and I have nothing to say about it, so here are three travel tips instead:

1. Pack light

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2. Don’t forget your hat

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3. And have fun!

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It’s a wrap – McCall’s 5974

OK, I’m on a major catch-up before 2015 arrives, forgive me. Here’s a dress I made months ago.

McCall's 5974

This is McCall’s 5974, allegedly “the perfect knit dress”.

McCall's 5974

I borrowed the pattern from Jo, after seeing her lovely grey one. Mine is OK but I wouldn’t say it’s perfect. It’s made from a cotton/nylon knit from Levana, and lined with a mystery fabric from the Fabric Warehouse pop-up sale.

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Things I like:

  • The colour! It’s cheerful in winter.
  • It’s super comfy and warm. It’s basically one step up from wearing a sweatshirt.
  • I made the sleeves really long to keep my hands warm.
  • The wrap/pleat detail is really nice.

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Things I don’t like:

  • On me, it’s a bit low-cut to be work-appropriate, hence the stupid-looking pin at the front.
  • There’s not enough fabric in the front piece, and so it forms a bat-wing with the sleeve. Maybe it needs a FBA? Is that even a thing in a knit pattern?

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I could make it again and try to fix these things, but I probably won’t bother.

Humming along

The first WSBN event I ever went to was called “Sewing Cake”. Everyone was wearing a creation from Cake Patterns, and (needless to say) cake was on the agenda in more ways than one.

Wendy was wearing a blue corduroy Hummingbird skirt, and I knew I had to have one. Fortunately fabric-a-brac delivered me a length of blue pinwale corduroy, and so the Hummingbird was mine. In fact there was twice as much as I needed, so if anyone else wants to copy Wendy, let me know. Imagine a whole army of blue Hummingbirds!

Hummingbird skirt

Hummingbird skirt

Hummingbird skirt

Hummingbird skirt

I love it just as much as I thought I would. I liked the Cake fitting system, to make it easy to grade between sizes, and the instructions were easy to follow. The corduroy is lovely and soft, and I put some fun “travel the world” cotton inside the pockets.

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There were two things I didn’t like, though. One is the huge difference between sizes, up to five inches. Just as I was about to start this, I ran into Joy at the bus stop, and she was in the middle of fighting with her Hummingbird, which she’d cut out in the size bigger than her measurements, as directed. Which turned out to be FOUR INCHES too big for her actual measurements, which is a lot for a skirt. Cake is doing a great job catering for such a big range of sizes (35 to 57 inch hip measurements), but there needs to be a better way for people between sizes to get a good fit. I ended up sizing down, and using smaller seam allowances to give me the extra inch, and it fits pretty well.

The other thing I struggled with is the shape of the bottom of the flounce. Caveat: I did lengthen the pattern pieces before cutting out, and potentially this might have contributed, because people I’ve spoken to who didn’t lengthen it didn’t have this problem.

Anyway the pins in this picture were put in when I was standing up, so that the bottom of the flounce was even. Before leveling , the sides at the back were actually 9cm shorter than the side seams, and the centre back was 2cm longer.

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I redrafted the pattern piece based on these changes and came out with something much more like a semi-circle (original at top, new version below).

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Anyway, the bottom line: I love this skirt, wear it all the time, and will definitely use the pattern again. Thanks Cake! Thanks Wendy!