Jersey Layers

I got my daughter to take a quick snap when I realised that two of the garments in my outfit today are not-quite-recent unblogged makes.

The top is Tessuti's Mandy boat tee, made up in a silk jersey.  I made a slight modification by adding side splits and cutting a hi-low hem.  Possibly I made adjustments to the length also.

The bottoms are a shorter version of this track pants pattern mash-up, made up in a rayon jersey.  I wish I had made the elastic a smidge tighter as they have a tendency to slip down when I am wearing them.

The tank top was previously reviewed here.  It hasn't worked its way into my wardrobe too much, so I was pleased to incorporate it into an outfit today.

My daughter made me the necklace from some shrinky dink plastic.


Funki Steeplechase leggings

This is my first time running in less than tropical conditions, so when Melissa posted about a sale at Funkifabrics a couple a weeks ago, I thought it was time to give them a try.  I bought a metre of FL0134 fracture purple printed titan and made it up into a full length pair of steeplechase leggings.

Melissa did a great review of funkifabrics technical fabrics, but the temperatures that she considers warm (15 - 17°C) are temperatures that I find cold.  Up until now, most of my running has been done at 25° to 32°C.  Once, I ran in Brisbane, at 12°C, and my ears hurt, my hands hurt and I wore 2 t-shirts.  Call me soft :)  So anyway, last weekend we had a cool moment of only 12°C when I started my weekly longer, slower run and seeing as I had made these leggings just the day before, it was perfect timing to test them out.

First up, I didn't know whether to wear my knee guard inside or outside of the leggings.  I have never worn full length leggings to run in, and I thought if I put it under, I would not be able to access it if I wanted to adjust it, but if I put it on the outside, it might slip around on the lycra.  I chose outside.  Big mistake.  Even when it was done up so tight it was cutting off my circulation, it still slipped down and I fussed with it the whole run.  I don't have to wear it.  My current physio is not convinced the braces help (her words...they are like "farting against thunder"), but I wasn't wearing it in the months leading up to my current need for physio, so I have decided to go back to it.  I am allergic to tape.

Apart from that, how did the fabric go?  Well, at the 1.5 km mark my legs started feeling warm.  Not enough to bother me, but enough for me to notice.  At the 5 - 6 km mark, I was running in the rising sun by the waterfront, and I would have happily swapped my leggings for a pair of shorts.  I ran 10 km in total, and whilst I was "warm", it wasn't like that feeling when I wear synthetic clothing and I start to sweat and prickle and get irritated.  10 minutes after I stopped running, I went in search of a jumper as the day was still cold.  When I took off my knee brace, the area under the brace was wet, which means that the fabric must have been wicking moisture away from everywhere else, the brace just stopped the water escaping.

I did buy this same fabric in another print, but I think I will use it for a capri version, to eliminate the knee brace issue.  I have taken up cycling, on the recommendation of my physio, so might save these full length ones for that (and hello...duathlons and surf-to-summit...nothing like needing to sew new clothes for a new hobby!)

Now, some notes about the pattern, as a record for next time.
- I started with my test version of the pattern, as it was already cut out
- I shortened the upper leg by 3cm.  This gave me the right length, but I should have checked that my marks for each side of the leg still matched up before I cut it out.  I didn't, and the pieces didn't match so I had to ease the legs together at the back.  This had made the back thigh area a bit loose, as you can see in the photo below (well, maybe you can't see, if you don't know where to look...the unusual seaming on this pattern combined with the graphic print might make it a tad hard to spot) .  For my own reference, I have corrected this on my pattern for next time.

- I lowered the front rise by 3 cm
- I used 4 cm wide elastic instead of 2 cm.  I have a long torso, so Melissa's pattern don't reach anywhere near my natural waist.  I don't know if it is my long torso, or the having had 3 babies thing, but I prefer to wear my pants under my belly.  The combination of lowered front rise and wider elastic put these in the perfect place for me.
- it is hard to stick the back pocket in the right place with the waistband this low...it runs into the yoke seam, so I left it off.

I did feel a bit self conscious running in such bright clothing, but my kids are fighting for the scraps!


Not actually a kimono

I have been loving all the kimono fashions around lately.  I have been on the look out for suitable fabric for a few months, and as you know, good things come to those who wait!

So then I set off to find a kimono pattern.  There are plenty of instructions to make your own pattern on the internet, but I thought that I would flip through my pattern magazines to see if there was anything suitable there first.  It turns out that I do have a few variations on kimonos (well, it is a rather large pattern collection), but in the end I was more taken by the line drawing for Burdastyle 9/2010 #117 & #118.

технический рисунок модели

Never mind that the originals were in heavy wool. 

Жилет9/2010. #118 tall

So it is not a kimono.  It does not have kimono sleeves.  Actually, these ones are better because they do not fall in my cooking or my washing or whatever else I am doing.  Mostly, I liked the inset panels.  I made mine up in a floaty silk, somewhere between the two in length and sleeve length and without the collar or pockets.

The back, so that you can see the inset panels at the back.

This is what it looks like pinned closed (excuse the death stare!).  I'm not planning on wearing it this way, but I could, and it shows off the angled hem.

 Today I wore it with jeans (duh), but I also like kimonos styled over shorts or summery dresses. 

I must admit though, the first few times I wore this out of the house I had to shake off the feeling that I was stepping out in a bathrobe :).


Construction of V-back dress bodice

So, moving on from the previous post, which was a tutorial for inserting an invisible zipper into a V, here is the order of construction of bodice with zips and facings.  This is my actual dress, not a sample, so the fabric choices and details are not as clear as the previous tutorial.

1.  Here you can see my prepared bodice and facing pieces.  The front bodice is sewn to the back bodice at the shoulder seams.  The darts are sewn.  The back neckline and opening are interfaced (the only reason that the interfacing does not go all the way to the shoulder seam is that I added it as an afterthought).  The zipper opening is overlocked.

The front and back facings are fully interfaced.  The bottom edges are finished by overlocking.  The front and back facings are attached at the shoulder seams.

2.  Pin the facings to the bodice, right sides together and lining up the shoulder seams.  Stitch the armholes of the facings to the armholes of the bodice.  I only have 1/4" seam allowances here, so no need to trim.  If you have larger seam allowances you may want to trim, clip and grade these seam allowances.   I think it would be a good idea to understitch the armholes at this point.  I did it later, but I think it would be easier here.

3.  Stitch the facings to the bodice at the neckline.  Leave half of the back neckline open to allow for the zipper insertion.  If you look carefully at the photographs, you can see my thread tails where I stopped stitching on the back neck line.  Again, it would probably be a good idea to understitch the front neck line now.

Trim, clip and grade the seam allowance on the front neckline, if required.

4.  Pull one of the backs through to the front, turning right side out, through the shoulder seam.

 5. Repeat for the other back.

6.  Mark the placement of the zipper stop on the outside of the back bodice pieces, as per the previous tutorial.

7.  Pin the zipper in place, placing the stops right on the mark.  The zip is right side to the right side of the bodice, zipper teeth facing away from the edges.  My zipper tape is only 3/8" wide, not 1/2" wide, which is why they are not lined up on the edges.

8.  Baste the zipper in place with a regular zipper foot.

9.  Do up the zipper and check that nothing is twisted or misaligned.

10.  Undo the zipper again and sew in place using an invisible zipper foot.

11.  Mark 1/4" in from the edge of the back facing (remember that the back facing has NO seam allowance on the back seam).

12.  Line up the facing and seam allowance of the back bodice on the 1/4" mark.  This will be your stitching line.  Stitch the facing to the seam allowance using a regular zipper foot.  The zip will be sandwiched between the facing and the bodice seam allowance.  You may wish to refer to the previous tutorial to see this more clearly.

13.  Fold the bodice on the CB seam line, so that the edges of the facing and bodice are aligned.

14.  Stitch the facing and bodice together along the back neckline, joining up with your previous stitching in Step 3.

15.  Turn facing to inside.

16.  Understitch as far as practicable.

17.  Now the side seams of the facings and bodice can be sewn together in a single pass.  You can see that I have two side darts on my front bodice.

I have not attached the skirt of the dress or sewn the zip all the way down.  I drafted this bodice as part of a craftsy class and I haven't actually decided what sort of skirt to stick on it yet.  Hopefully I will get to that later this week!  Then I can show you the completed bodice on me.


Tutorial: invisible zipper in a V-back dress

I have been drafting a pattern for a V-back dress.  Being my own draft, it doesn't come with any "destructions".  I googled for a tutorial for an invisible zipper in a V-back dress and came up short.  So I have made a tutorial.  It is not that different from any other invisible zipper insertion, but it is nice to see it illustrated.

Now my disclaimer:  I have no professional training in pattern drafting or garment construction.  I don't know any "industry" secrets.  I am a self-taught home sewer and this is the first time I have made a V-back dress.

For this tutorial, I have not used the full pattern.  In my next post, I will show you the real thing.

First up, the pattern.

A few things to point out about the pattern.
  • There is a 1/2" seam allowance on the CB seam.  This is the same width as my zipper tape. 
  • The CB seam allowance mirrors the main panel, so there is a V at the top of the seam allowance, rather than a slope that continues in line with the neckline
  • I have used a 1/2" seam allowance on the V.  1/4" seam allowances are often used on necklines.  I wanted 1/2" to give me more "thinking space".  You can use 1/4" and this tutorial will still work.  You can see that I have used 1/4" seam allowances on the armhole.
  • Notice the notch on the CB seam allowance, which is 1/4" from the edge of the seam allowance.


There is no seam allowance on the CB seam of the facing.

1.  Prepare your pieces.  The pink fabric is my main panel.  The white is my facing.  The facing is fully interfaced.  The main fabric is interfaced along the zipper insertion length and along the V-neckline.  I like to interface where the zipper goes.  I continued this interfacing up along the neckline as the neckline is cut on the bias.  I finished the edge of the zipper insertion length with an overlocker.  Normally I would finish the bottom edge of the facing, but I have left it raw in this sample.

2.  Mark the exact point where you want the top of the zipper.  I don't want to use a hook-and-eye, so I want the top of the zipper to come right up to the neck seam line.

3.  Pin the zipper so that the zipper stop is right on your mark.   Right side of zip faces right side of fabric, zipper teeth towards bodice.

4.  I like to sew my invisible zips in two passes.  First, baste down the middle of the zipper tape, using a regular zipper foot.

5.  Check that everything lines up ok.

I like to do the zipper up and check that nothing is twisted.  It doesn't matter on this sample, but on the real thing, it is easy to get the bodice or zip twisted when you are pinning it in place, and it is easier to unpick at the basting stage.

6.  Undo the zip again and sew a second time, using an invisible zipper foot and sew right next to the coils.  I DON'T iron my zips flat.  I tried that once and ended up with a couple of melted zipper teeth.  Because the zip is basted in place, it is easy for me to hold the zipper coils flat as they are being sewn.

I use a plastic invisible zipper foot rather than the shinier elna one that goes with my machine.  I get better results with this one.  My mother gave it to me when she was cleaning out her step-mother's sewing supplies.  It is really old and I have not seen one like it being sold anywhere.  I know that the plastic won't last forever and I am dreading the day it ever breaks.

7.  Now the zipper is in and we can attach the facing.

Mark the facing 1/4" in from the edge.

8.  Line up this mark with the 1/4" notch on the CB seam allowance of the main panel, right sides facing.  The stitching line is 1/4" in from each edge, so you want to line up the top of these 2 pieces exactly on this stitching line.  This is why we made the seam allowance a V shape.

I didn't actually cut a notch in my main panel, but I know that my overlocking is 1/4" wide.

9. Stitch the facing to the main panel along this stitching line, using a regular zipper foot.  The zip is sandwiched between the 2 layers.

10. Now fold back the facing on the CB seam line so that the neckline edges of the facing and bodice are aligned.   The photograph below shows it better than words.  The zipper tape is folded over the facing so that the interfaced seam allowance of the main panel is exposed.

11.  Stitch the neckline.   Here I am using my 1/2" seam allowance, but yours may be 1/4" or otherwise.

See the wobble in my stitch line.  This is where my 13 year old son walked in and asked me to sew him some gymnastics longs.   As in, an actual garment that he will wear in front of other people.  And maybe in something cool like purple lightning fabric.  You would have wobbled too!

 12.  Turn right side out.  I have not done any trimming or clipping.

13.  Understitch as far as practicable.  Do sewing patterns still say that?  As a child, I learnt to sew by following the instructions on commercial sewing patterns and I was always taken by that phrase "as far as practicable".  Not completely specified and a little open to interpretation and ability. 

In the photo below you can see where I have pulled out stitches because I understitched on the wrong side.  I was still thinking about the gymnastics longs and lost concentration for a moment.

14.  Press and ta-da, a beautifully neat zipper. Outside....

... and just as neat inside.

And there you have it.  Of course, it is a little trickier when the back bodice is attached to the front bodice and the back facing is attached to a front facing.  I did my actual dress before this sample, and took some photos during the process, so I will show that in my next post.

Let me know if any step is not clear, or you see any typos in my tutorial.  Happy sewing,