Finished Object: The Hummingbird Dress

worn with my old favorite, the Demilitarized Jacket

worn with my old favorite, the Demilitarized Jacket

She’s finally finished!  Lately, my sewing time keeps disappearing so I took my own advice during the 30 Minutes A Day Sewalong last week and worked on my dress in 30 minute chunks to get her done.  It really works to tackle a project in little bites to get it done and I’m really pleased to have finished this dress.  We went out to central Brisbane (where I go to run printing and scanning and supply errands) to take photos the other day, I hope you like seeing a little more of the city…

Dress dress dress!

This was the original inspiration.  For my own dress made using the Hummingbird Top as a base, I wanted another type of neckline interest and plain sleeves rather than pleated.

Hummingbird Dress

This is my version.  I used a lycra-rayon blend jersey, white with a black pinstripe.  The fabric is a little on the hefty side for a top and just a touch on the light side for a dress.  I cut a 30-length peplum in four pieces using this cutting layout, which is also great for directional fabrics.   After I tried on the dress with a single peplum, I decided to add a second, longer black peplum.

Hummingbird Dress

I felt more comfortable with the extra layer of lightweight jersey, and I like the way it highlights the peplum.  I think the lower layer affects the overall drape, however.


Pinstripes are hard to photograph decently!  Does anyone have tips?  I can’t tell you how many times in the past couple of years I decided against using pintstripes purely because they don’t photograph well.  I just couldn’t summon the strength to say “no” one more time, and I’m glad I used the stripes for this dress.

Hummingbird Dress Back

The back came out pretty well, too.  I took a little wedge out of the lower edge of the CB top until the back wrinkles disappeared.  I do this reflexively and don’t have many problems with lower back wrinkles.  I also reduced the width of the sleeve hem for a closer fitting sleeve at the elbow, tapering my stitching into the existing under-arm seam.

When I cut the top, I marked the stripes on one pattern piece and transferred the stripe matching points to the front pattern piece.  You can see them in my photos of cutting the top here.  Due to the angle of the seams, I had to choose where to match the stripes along my arm as I cut.  I chose the shoulder!  It starts to go a little off further down the sleeve, and I’m ok with it because it’s relatively unobtrusive in the thin stripe and I worried this fabric would ripple.   Meanwhile, in the sewalong, Kelly made some perfect sleeve chevrons in a heftier stripe.

The Soft Bow Dickie is one of many dickey inspirations I’ve been dying to try with the Hummingbird Top neckline.  It’s made of the same soft, fluid jersey as the second peplum.   The bow section is quick and simple, easy to slip into a too-long neckline or even as a re-fashion to spruce up an old top.

I thought about making the sleeve bindings in black, but I opted instead to offset the stripes because I’m addicted.

click for source

click for source

The entire hack of this dress including neckline drafting, simple knit straight skirt draft and Soft Bow Dickie drafting and sewing notes are at

Hummingbird Top With Soft Bow

Once we finished (I thought) taking photos, I slipped into my Pinkie Pants and ballet flats to take a walk through Southbank and have sushi with Lila & Stephen.  Surprise!  During construction, I wore the top around the house for a while to check that the bow covered what it should and that the binding didn’t buckle.

I fell in love with this as a standalone top, so I used a simple quartered elastic waistband to create the skirt.  The skirt slips under the peplum so I can wear it as a dress, but since I work from home I don’t wear as many “pretty” dresses as I used to.  The pretty top slips right into my wardrobe and means I get more wear-time for my sew-time.

Funny story- we passed this train station and I thought it would make a striking backdrop for photos.  I got bold and stood up, and the second I turned around I saw an older, fatherly ticket-taker sternly shaking his head at me.  I hopped right down.

Hummingbird Dress

As a dress or a top, I really dig this latest Hummingbird.  I’m also pleased at how different it looks to my others.  It has style and a certain heft for a top, but also great recovery.  If I were to make another Hummingbird Dress at some point, the only thing I’d do differently is to choose a slightly beefier knit- maybe a nice doubleknit or ponte.  This is almost the right weight.


If you haven’t yet, check out the Hummingbird Sewalong schedule for links to each day’s lesson. We’re on Day 8 and I slipped in a few extra house point challenges for fun.  The deadline to finish all challenges and Sewalong makes to be counted for the house prize is July 1 at midnight in Anchorage, Alaska.  Then we can count up your points and assign the House Prize.

Picture 18

Do check out the Hummingbird Flickr group, there’s some REALLY nifty skirts and tops already being shown off.  I didn’t get a chance for a big 3 Hours Past group post for Pavlova (opting instead to create the Community Galleries), but maybe we should do something special for Hummingbird?  What do you think?

Find the Hummingbird Top pattern on Etsy, available for immediate shipment/download.

Finished Object: Crinkle Linen Pavlova

Burbank Forest Reserve QLD | Pavlova

I’ve been sick with a sinus infection since last Friday.  Today was the first day I was feeling myself.  Stephen needed to run a work errand this afternoon(Koala Bushland Reserves), so Lila and I tagged along for a nature walk and a photoshoot in the forest.

Crinkle Linen Pavlova | Cake Patterns

This is the Pavlova Wrap Top made in the crinkled linen gauze I showed you a few weeks ago.   It’s a woven fabric, not jersey as per the pattern.  My measurements fall between 35 and 40, so I used a 35.  I hear Cake Patterns is relatively generous with their wearing ease, so I went for the smaller size.

She’s tied at the back because I did not compensate for the woven fabric when I cut the tie.  It does not prefer to stretch around my waist.

Crinkle Linen Pavlova

This is a fresh make, and it’s linen.  Experience tells me the linen will relax over time, so it’s likely that eventually the ties will go round the front.  I don’t mind either way, to be honest.

Pavlova Wrap Top in Crinkle Linen Gauze

wearing my sturdier shoes while climbing down an embankment. The stick is a useful driftwood souvenir from beach combing a few weeks ago.

The 35 is a wee bit (2″) short for my waist length, which I can get away with in a jersey.  I like this top and have worn it several times, but if I make this again in a woven I will lengthen the front.

Pavlova Crinkle Linen | 3 Hours Past

I don’t make many sheer tops, but I like this. I like it enough to make a few nice camis to go underneath. Apologies for the VBS.

I found the fabric surprisingly easy to cut and handle once I decided to ignore the texture.   I just plopped down the pieces and cut.

I used a lace motif as a tag

I used a lace motif as a tag

The handling required a little finesse and fusible webbing, and when I overlocked the raw edges in Step 12 the fabric shrank from the cutting blade.  Where the overlocking didn’t catch the edge, I simply made an old-fashioned double fold hem.

Lila photobomb on the mossy log...

Lila photobomb on the mossy log…

This fabric was an experiment, it’s just so different but I love it and had to play a little.  The Pavlova Wrap Top can be made in a woven, though I’d recommend sticking to very soft or drapey ones.  It needn’t be sheer, but I think a denser or crisper fabric won’t look right.  This particular fabric will become very soft and drapey with wear.

I posted more photos and just the facts over at

Nature Walk

The air is cool and soft, a light rain fell while we were out and it raised the fresh scent of damp trees.


What do you think?  It’s unlike me to wear a sheer top, but I do like it and think I may play with that more later.  After I make some nice camis!  Do you wear sheer fabrics?  What do you wear underneath?

I’ll be scarce around here during the rest of the Sewalong.  (Draped cardi from Pavlova later this week.) We’re up to day 6!  Then, next week, we have the Hummingbird presale!

Finished Object: Drapey, Stripey Tiramisu Dress in Cotton Nylon

Colorful Summer Lace Dress, Silk Lining | Stripey Lacy Tiramisu | 3 Hours PastI finished the Lacy Stripey Tiramisu dress the other day, just before the “end” of the 30 Minutes A Day Sewalong.  I say end because I’m watching the flickr group and checking progress to see if we’re all on the same page before I publish the final two posts.  The final two will cover documenting your customized pattern/hacking and then we’ll have a Tiramisu Sewalong Party here at 3 Hours Past on Monday!

That’ll give everyone til Sunday to finish up and take a picture, and I’ll include any finished Tiramisu Dresses marked or tagged “Finished Object” in the flickr stream.  I’ll make a gallery page, be sure to link to your blog (if you have one) in the flickr stream.  I also wanted to feature some of my favorite questions and comments from the “class,” I’ll request permission first so keep an eye out on your flickr posting…

Now that’s out of the way…

Cotton Ribbing Waistband | Stripey Lacy Tiramisu | 3 Hours Past

Thanks for all your tips and suggestions when I was putting the dress fabrics together before the sewalong started.  I knew I wanted to use some fun fabrics for this dress, I’ve shown a lot of restraint in my fabric choices for other Tiramisus.  I ended up choosing the black and white striped cotton jersey (no recovery), cotton ribbing for the waistband (great recovery), and a nylon lace fabric for the skirt.  I rummaged in my “recycled” stash and turned up silk for the lining and some old organic cotton for the pockets.  It’s firm, but very soft and strong fabric.

Lacewing TopYou may recognize the lace, it’s the same motif as another lace garment.  I like what I like. (and it was 40% off)

Woven Organic Cotton Pockets | Stripey Lacy Tiramisu | 3 Hours PastInspired by Kaddidlehopper’s long, graceful Tiramisu skirt sweep, I cut my skirt longer.  This length used 2.5m of 60″ wide fabric, and I have enough left over for a bolero perhaps.  (Check it out, I’m wearing a bit of yellow!  I’ve been trying to work it into my life for a while now…)

Recycled Silk Lining | Stripey Lacy Tiramisu | 3 Hours Past

I ended up using the recycled silk, because the colors beneath the lace reminded me of a tropical bird of some sort.  I can make a lining post for the Tiramisu Sewalong, but just briefly I cut the basic skirt from the folded piece of silk, sewed the single seam, and then stitched it to the skirt waist seam with a zig zag.  If I want to change, it’s easy and this treatment will wash.  The bias cut of the silk at the waist gives me enough flexibility to pull the dress over my head, even though it’s not a stretch silk.

Bias Drop on A Humid Afternoon | Stripey Lacy Tiramisu | 3 Hours Past More yellow!  After a little while in the sun and humidity and being on my body, my dress bias “dropped”.  We’ve been discussing the bias and the way it behaves in knits almost every day in the Sewalong and I couldn’t resist sharing this photo because it shows the bias drop so well.  The seam is a good inch below my bustline, and I had to pin the neck closed.

That’s not a catastrophe.  I gave her an underbust tune up.  Now that the fabric has settled and dropped, I shouldn’t have any more problems from that seam.

The Gape Test | Stripey Lacy Tiramisu | 3 Hours Past

I love all the gape test photos for this dress cropping up on blogs, I pin all the Tiramisus I find while reading blogs but if I’ve missed yours and you’d like to be added, just let me know with a link.

After we finished up taking photos and were heading into the house, I started to jump the back fence, as is my habit.  I do this on a daily basis, regardless of what I’m wearing.  Stephen captured the amazing no gape neckline in action:

It’s terribly unladylike, but quick and saves me walking around by the sidewalk in the heat.

Cake Roll Kawaii

I needed a neat way to tote a few simple tools to and from classes, and to put into my project box for my current makes.  A friend suggested using a bamboo mat and some fabric to create a roll for my tools.  This afternoon, I found some really cute multi colored bamboo mats for cheap and tossed this together in less than half an hour.  I’m in love.   This Cake Roll is good.

Cake Roll Width

I put in little pockets for holding a seam ripper, pinbox, needle box, notions, and may add a little mini corkboard for pins I’m using.  I wrapped it up tight and threw it hard at my floor repeatedly to see if any pieces came out or broke.  They did not.

The bamboo mats were cheap and cute, so I bought as much as I could.  I have enough matting to make about 2 dozen Cake Roll kits.  I’ll take better pictures in the morning, write out the full kit contents and link to the Etsy listing in the Cake Update email newsletter.  The entire kit is quite light, which makes for cheap shipping. ($6.30 to US, UK, etc $4.50 NZ, $1.20 Australia)


Last week, I offered 8 organic cotton fabric sateen envelope kits to the email list which I promptly sent out to the UK, US, NZ and Australia.  I have ordered more fabric panels, and the kits will be available for both Tiramisu and for Pavlova at the end of this month.  I also have a local artisan friend to help me assemble the kits, we both used to put quilt kits together so this is… A piece of Cake…

I used some black organic cotton canvas woven fabric I had lying around on a whim to see how woven pocket bags work vs. knit- WOW.  Such a difference.  I don't think I'll use jersey again, much smoother and neater.

I used some black organic cotton canvas woven fabric I had lying around on a whim to see how woven pocket bags work vs. knit- WOW. Such a difference. I don’t think I’ll use jersey again, much smoother and neater.

We’ll finish up the Tiramisu posts here at 3 Hours Past with the Tiramisu Party on Monday, then I’m going to take a little “production holiday” for a few weeks so I can stitch up all the samples I need for upcoming Cake Patterns and Kits. I’ll be tweeting and pinning, but less updating to the sewingcake site and 3 Hours Past.  I’ll also continue to answer Tiramisu flickr group questions for as long as they appear.

What do you think?  I kind of want to make the lace skirt into a separate piece, and put a solid red skirt on this dress.. Not that I don’t like it, more like I like the skirt and want to wear it with all of my tops..!

Finished Object: Polka Dot Tiramisu (with sneaky details!)

It’s official.  I can’t follow a pattern without tweaking it, not even my own pattern.  This version has several extra flourishes, small details only a sewist might notice which are not printed in the pattern but do add a nice air of “quality” to the finished dress.  I also tested an alternate grain of fabric for the skirt.  There’s very little I can say about this dress at this point, but I did want to show you a few small techniques that can be applied to a plain-sewn garment to make it just a little sweeter.

Pretty Pocketsies:

Ok- taping the inseam pocket seams with fusible stay tape is written into the pattern.  It keeps the pocket opening from drooping over time, which is especially important in a jersey fabric.  This time, I went a little crazy using some decorative stitches on my machine to understitch this seam.  I might suggest choosing one and sticking to it for a less “batty” appearance- though my pockets aren’t really all that visible from the outside.  I like to do this sometimes for the fun of it, but also because more stitches = greater durability and shape retention on the high-stress seam.

Tagging with Lace and Ribbon

I started tagging Lila’s little clothes around the time she started dressing herself.  It helps her tell the front from the back of the shirt. Surprise, surprise, a little snip of ribbon at the back neck of a shirt makes a huge difference to the overall look of the finished garment (to me, if to no one else).  I started doing it in my own clothes, too.  Sunni wrote about this a little while ago, be sure to check it out if you missed it before.

When I was stitching this Tiramisu, I couldn’t find any white or light ribbon in my sewing room.  My eyes fell on this bit of guipure lace trim.  Without thinking about it too long, I trimmed out one motif and stitched it into the back neck binding seam.

Then I pressed it down, as a good tag should lie.  Concerned the lace might flap about or become distorted in the wash, I stitched-in-the-ditch to secure the motif.

It’s a handy (and invisible) way to secure all sorts of little flappy bits in the sewing- neck facings, inner waistbands, lace tag motifs.  The trick is to press carefully, pin on a flat surface with the right side of the garment facing you, and then to stitch exactly in the “ditch” or seamline.

Twin Needling

Until fairly recently, I “hated” twin needling.  I had plenty of excuses for not using them.  While I liked the finish (and the flexibility) that a twin-needle topstitch provides, I always dragged my feet about actually doing it.  Then I started twin-needling everything I could get my hands on, to see what would happen.  Then I realized that once I felt comfortable setting up the twin needle, switching from a single only took a minute, tops.

I saved all the twin-needling at the binding seams to do all at one time- neck, sleeves, and shoulder seam.  I might have gone a little overboard, but I find top-stitching these seams in construction (single needle or double) makes for a neater wash-n-wear experience.  When I pull this dress out of the washing machine, the seams are where I left them, not all over the place.  It’s a small thing, but I find it makes a difference over time.

Cut of the Skirt

The half-circle skirt on the Tiramisu Dress Pattern has both a CF and CB seam, to allow for fun chevron effects with striped fabric, and because it allows for a scroogy cutting layout.  For this Tira, I didn’t cut the skirt that way.

I laid the CF/CB of the skirt pattern on the crosswise fold of fabric.  There’s no reason I laid it out on the crosswise fold except the simple fact that’s all the blue polka dot jersey I had left.  I made sure to “eliminate” the seam allowance by allowing it to overhang the folded fabric.

I think the drape came out just fine, if perhaps a little less “rippled” than the original cut.   If you’re a draping or pattern nerd, check out this great post on skirt grain including a handy little diagram which shows the way grain affects drape on skirts.

Sewing Along

With the pattern shipping to you all this week, and the rollout of many other things I’ve been working on, I feel like I can start to plan a bit for future blog fun.  I’d like to run a sewalong for this dress, maybe come January.  The other day, Tilly wrote a post about how to fit sewing into a busy lifestyle.  Her suggestion is to buy a kitchen timer, set it for 15 minutes and use it to cultivate a habit of sewing daily.  I like this, and I think it would work well for a Tiramisu Dress Sewalong.  Are you interested?  How does the second week in January sound?  Should we do 15 minutes or 20, or 30?  Let me know what you think and I’ll work out the details!

What’s your favorite way to spice up a TNT you’ve made half a dozen times?

The Tiramisu Dress Pattern is available for sale on Etsy, shipping this week and continually.

My Last Tiramisu And Fabric Giveaway! (Now Closed)

Today I met up with my buddy Enid in Southbank, Brisbane.  It’s a great place to bring kids to play, with a city beach and water park and gardens open to the public.  Lila especially loves visiting the water park on a hot day.  I wore my new red-stripe Tiramisu dress and Enid took photos!

I whipped this dress together yesterday from my Tiramisu Dress pattern- by the way, you all have pre-ordered nearly 250 patterns!  I’m so excited, it’s such a pleasure to be involved in your sewing!

Speaking of sewing involvement, I’ve been experimenting with letting Twitter and Facebook into my sewing room.  As I stitched this dress and another sample yesterday, I took photos for my notes as usual (it’s the simplest way, I find).  This time, I tweeted my photos and some of my notes and it was such fun.  I loved that many of you responded and I chatted back, like having friends drift through my sewing room as I work.  Thanks for the lovely sewing experience, I’ll be trying that again!

This summer, I’m working with a predominantly blue and red color palette, and trying to work in some yellow accents.  I love yellow, but yellow doesn’t love me.  When I saw these canvas and rope wedges, I knew I had to pick them up to wear with my dresses!  I don’t like heels, but a wedge offers great stability and support so I like them nearly as much as ballet flats and loafers.   The black and white hat came home with me the other day, and matches my many black and white purses.  We didn’t get any shots with my bag, note for next time!

In the middle of taking photos, I had to explain to Lila it’s a bad idea to jump into a shallow pool. The only reason I include this is as an “action” shot- no gaping neckline!  No tumbling out!  This is a big deal to me.

After splashing around in the water park, we pretended to fish in a reflecting pool.  These were outtakes, but I like them and thought you might, too.  Lila’s wearing her Book Report Dress, it’s a favorite around here.

This dress fabric is a fairly stable cotton jersey.  I tested this dress on a wide variety of knits, and I’m happy with the way it behaves across the spectrum of stretchiness.  I find the “best” knits for this dress are similar to what would be used for t-shirts, but it also works with slinkier knits.  I have not tested this on synthetics or 4-way stretch but I doubt it would behave much differently.

If you’d like to win 3m of this striped jersey, leave me a comment below!  I love sending fabric out into the wide world, especially when it’s something I have used myself.  One caveat: this is a printed stripe, not a “knitted in” stripe.  I didn’t find it terribly different or difficult to work with, and as far as I could tell the stripes are printed on grain.

Click to visit the pre-sale! $11 pre-sale, $17 retail. Ends October 5th

It’s totally worth it anyway, because I love Penelope’s dress on the new pattern cover and it delighted me to no end to bring it to life.  If you’d like to bring your own Tiramisu to life, do pop over to Etsy for the pre-sale.

If you’d like to enter the giveaway, just tell me so below along with your favorite summer time style tip.  Leave a comment by the end of The Circus (October 5th, Brisbane Time) to enter!

Tomorrow: My Tips for Sewing Knits on a Regular Sewing Machine

Finished: Linen/Cotton Bra with Fitting Photos

I just finished my second MakeBra– this one is size 75G (European, keep reading for conversions).  My first MakeBra was a size 80F, and the band was too big.  On top of that, I used the basic 1/2″ (12mm) elastic the bra band was engineered for and it feels very jiggly and insecure when I wear it.

This time, I used both a smaller band size and wider, sturdier elastic.  Lincraft in the Myer Center in Brisbane’s CBD carries a mind-blowing array of lingerie elastics and findings.  Once I nail down my fit and engineering, I’ll have so much fun making pretty bras.  For now, I used a 1″ (25mm) wide soft band elastic.

I really couldn’t stop myself using some pretty blue merino net remnants to line the cups for contrast.  It’s so soft!

I used cotton-linen slub knit for the exterior, and I reinforced the gore with silk organza.  The stitching on this bra is not perfect, but it’s lightyears better than the first one.  I didn’t need to refer to the instructions while sewing, either!  Win!

Last time, I think I might have disappointed some of you by not modeling my creation.  When I started thinking about sewing bras I thought “useful, relatively simple project, something new to play with.” I was not thinking “I’m going to take my top off on the internet.”  In fact, I dismissed the idea outright.  However, since the last bra post several of you have emailed me, tweeted, etc and I realized that showing the fit and exploring it together would be very useful to many of you.  And probably to me, too.

So.  Ok.  I’m taking my top off.  I’m not a model, I’m not a skinny beanpole, I’m a grown woman who has had a child and also become lax about personal fitness.  And I like beer, that’s just not going to change.   If you don’t want to see me in my bra, please go away and come back tomorrow for Day 1 of the Tiramisu Circus!  I can’t wait!

If you’re a grownup and interested in bra fitting as well as the “band size” debate and tackling back fat issues, read on.

The black bra at the top is the “best fit” bra I found hiding in my dresser after the first bra post.  The center gore doesn’t lie flat against my breastbone, but it’s a darn sight better than my other bras.

The purple is the first one I made from my MakeBra pattern.  I’m rather surprised it looks so cute on.  It’s pretty “relaxed,” I feel like I’m braless in it.  Not in a good way.

The white is the most recent make.  I can see the straps are set too wide (easy to fix!) and I don’t believe the cup size or shape is correct.  Again, the gore doesn’t sit flat against my breastbone and the cups just don’t hold my breasts.  It’s “empty” at the bottom even after I re-arranged the breast tissue, and at the CF the cup looks like it could use an extra 3/4″ of space.  Or maybe I should make a bra with a wider gore?  Larger cup size or wider gore?

I have to laugh at the way my breasts have eaten the thin elastic band on the purple bra.  Where did it go?  It flipped up into my breast tissue.  It feels like my breast might pop out of the bottom of the cup at any time.

The other two have a better shape, I think the shape is best on the black bra and my next bra will be made from a similar cut.  The white one feels great.  When I put it on, I forgot I had breasts.  Really.  It’s a strangely liberating feeling.  But I can see the shape of the cups is not correct, even if it is comfortable.

If I had any lingering doubts about my band size, I’m over it now.  The top and bottom are the same band, but the white is wider.  They both lie through the “middle” of my back, as they should.  The poor purple one has ridden north.  Please notice, too, that all of the bands bite into my flesh.  Apparently, this is necessary in order for the band to help carry the weight of the breast.  Breasts aren’t meant to hang from the shoulder!  (This is analogous to my hiking/travel backpack which has a hipbelt to distribute the weight of the pack between my shoulders and hips.)

Also, CBS news got something right– a smaller band does indeed make for fewer back fat rolls.

Getting Sharey

Naked Zoidberg… From Futurama. This is how I feel right about now… ;)  He does look pretty happy though.

When I saw those photos of my back (not to mention while cropping and collaging them) I almost cried.  I don’t often get hung up on body issues, and I spend a fair amount of time and energy trying to help others conquer body issues through sewing.  But to have my self-image shattered by incontrovertible photographic evidence…


I almost didn’t write this post.  I had no idea I looked like that from behind.

click for source.

I don’t weigh myself.  I don’t believe in it, and didn’t when I was thinner.  What am I, a prize pig about to be sent to slaughter to the highest bidder?  No thanks.  I don’t honestly know the point of using weight as a measure of anything, except to establish some sort of b*tchy body-size pecking order (speaking from experience here, I would love to hear yours!).  There are other ways to analyze the body for good health and fitness, which is more important than aesthetics.

I do know my measurements, and I have also noticed a steady decline in my fitness levels from a year ago.  I catch colds more easily, I can’t leap up the back stairs like I used to, less muscle tone and I haven’t been hiking or kayaking in ages.  My body also feels sluggish.  This bothers me much more than my mother’s gentle inquiry via Skype about the last time I weighed myself.

I’m only plugging this because I have found it to be incredibly useful. Click for source.

My husband became concerned about his own fitness a few weeks ago and started training for a 5K.  I joined him, and now we tag-team most mornings with our Ease Into 5K app.  I can hardly believe that in a few weeks I’ll be running at 30 minute intervals, but I know I like feeling fit and strong.  I miss it.  Besides, the program is very easy to start.  Nothing too hard-core.

But you know what will force me into my running shoes at 6am until I build the habit of a morning run?  Not the knowledge that I like feeling like an Amazon (I really, really do), but the image of my back rolls burned into my brain.

With body image issues, I’m generally of a certain mindset- “If I don’t like it, change it.  If I can’t change it, embrace it.”

Further Reading

Confidential To You: Your Bra Band Doesn’t Fit NY Times

Professional Bra Fitting: Boobs, Physics and Back Fat

The Correct Way To Measure Your Bra Size (I’m a convert.  Seriously. Also an awesome blog.)

Recent Article From NY Times: More Data Suggest Fitness Matters More Than Weight

What do you think?  Do you prefer wider bands to narrower ones?  How about the “Small band/big cups vs. big bands/small cups” debate?  What do you think about the female habit of weighing ourselves so we can compare a metric that means basically nothing?  Do you want to run with me?  What does your back look like? (You know, answer one or some or none of the above…)

This will be the last bra post for a little while, because starting tomorrow I’m spilling the beans about the Tiramisu Dress pattern, Cake Patterns, sharing knit guides and tips, and we’re having a pre-sale of the pattern (deep discount!) as it goes to print!  Squee!  I really really can’t wait to show you what’s been going on.

Finished Object: Book Report Dress

Last week, I showed you Lila’s very sensible and useful trio of tiny shorts, and we talked about some ideas of sewing cost/sewing value, and ways to express that value.  I’m not 100% with my Value The Sewing worksheet, but I’ll keep working with it until I have some kind of Epiphany (or you do!).

Book Report Dress

This week, I wanted to make a dress.  I blame the new release of the Oliver + S patterns for fall!  They’re so cute!  I especially liked this Book Report Dress, and when I saw it available as a digital download. (I bought the pattern myself, I doubt Oliver + S knows about me, a fangirl.)

Besides, I’d pay much more than the digital price to purchase the pattern here, not to mention waiting for shipping or for it to show up in a shop.  I highly recommend these digital patterns, they’re very easy to work with.

Lila wears dresses all the time, and I allowed myself to plan for one or two dresses in her Lila Wardrobe.  I chose the rainbow dandelion print about a year ago and set it aside “for Lila.”  Then the pink cotton babywale cord came my way and I thought they’d work well together for this dress.

Before I cut, I decided to make a new sleeve pattern for this dress.  The original design features long cuffed sleeves but I only had .5m (1/2 yard) of the rainbow dandelion print and we live in the land of perpetual summer, so I opted for the bell sleeves from the Oliver + S School Photo Dress.  The bell sleeves are breezy and cool, but will help protect her skin from the sun.

I laid one sleeve pattern on top of the other and used the sleeve cap from the Book Report Dress and the sleeve shape from the School Photo Dress.  I could have simply shortened the original sleeves, but they wouldn’t have a bell shape.

My other major alteration was to omit the button loops- they’d be quite bulky in the corduroy fabric.  Instead, I stitched the yokes together.  No buttons.  Naturally, when I tried the dress on Lila the first time, it wouldn’t go over her head!  No biggie, I unpicked one side and added a snap closure.  Next time I make this, I’ll draft a larger neckline for a simple pull-over dress.  I used several types of buttons Lila picked on various trips to fabric stores, something about them reminds me of baby toys or candy.  She likes them, anyway.

I took this with my phone mid-construction.  The dress needed “something,” and I couldn’t decide about the buttons.  It’s funny- I’ve become so accustomed to photographing my sewing, sometimes I can’t make decisions like that without photographing it to help me decide.  Does that happen to anyone else?  Just me?

I scrounged around my sewing room and turned up some cotton sateen bias binding left over from another project.  Eureka!  I ran the red binding by Twitter peeps- y’all are such enablers- and decided to use the binding as a trim.  I hand-basted the binding because pinning often results in a wavy final result.  Then I used a top-stitch (3.0 length) close to the edges of the tape.  It took a little time, but it’s very clean and neat.

Lila wore her new dress to preschool today, terribly pleased with herself.  I’m pleased, too.  I usually let her choose her own fabrics, but this time I did myself and managed to make something she liked.  Win!

Cost and value?

Now, this dress cost more than her clothes usually cost.  I quantified it here:

Cost: $ 26.95 (oops, small error on the sheet…)- mostly due to the fact I used a new pattern and purpose-bought fabric for this dress.

Value: $ 91.34

I didn’t go shopping online for a similar dress.  I’ll do that for some garments, common ones, but for one-offs for a little girl I won’t bother.

In the comments section from the last discussion of quantifying sewing value, Craftastrophies brought up the idea of subtracting the cost of from the value.  Someone else mentioned adding the hours spent working to the “cost” section.  I’m thinking about that- what do you think?  It seems to me if I spend more than a few hours on a garment, it has something of an inflated value… Any math minds out there want to chime in?

Oh!  And Molly at Toforet’s Empty Bobbin made a denim Burda dress, and played with the sewing worksheet!  Check it out.

At any rate, the dress was a pleasure to sew and she likes it.  Little girls can wear dresses for years if they’re fairly basic, washable, and made of good fabric.  I call that good value.

Oh!  And the pockets!  She loves pockets, and is especially delighted by these “secret invisible pockets with PINK inside!!”  She keeps trying to stuff apples and stuffed animals and sand into her pockets, good thing I reinforced the stitching!

Next Post: Bra #2.  I’ll try to be brave and take some fitting shots, for science!

Creative Commons Image

Then- finally, finally, finally, I can tell you I’ll be launching the Tiramisu Circus And Pre-Sale on the 25th of this month! I couldn’t in good conscience start the pre-sale until I nailed down some production issues, but they’re sorted so now we can have some fun!

Why a circus?  Because they’re loud, fun, exciting and *extremely* educational!

The pre-sale will help offset the cost of printing the patterns- a big hurdle in the production process.  American Duchess runs pre-sales for new shoe designs, and she helped me think through my own pre-sale for Cake.  Thanks, Lauren!  Tiramisu will retail for $17, and I’m offering it for AUD$11 during The Circus!

I’ll be posting more frequently, with shorter posts including guides to purchasing knit fabrics, handling knits on regular sewing machines, and a look at how I handled sizing for Tiramisu!  If you think of something you’d like to see during The Circus, please let me know, and help spread the word!

Finished Object: 9 Lines Sweater, Tee and Hack

May’s Hack of the Blank Canvas Tee- the 9 Lines Sweater and Tee- is complete!  Sure, it’s June 10, but I’m getting better with the dates.  I always seem to sew up the hack during the month and forget all the work that goes into writing it.  I’ll try to be more punctual.  This is the hemp-rayon jersey version.

I added three lines of pintucking to the back neck, I like the effect.  It takes so little effort to embellish a plain layering tee, and I think it’s well worth it.  This tee features a regular knit neck binding, underarm gussets for mobility (and to reduce bulk), and pintucked embellishments made with twin needles.

Though I intended the hack as a sweater, I made this one first to check if my gusset drafting would work on a knit.  It does!  I know gussets are kind of scary, but I over-explain them in the hack and I hope it’s useful to someone.  I know that some hiking and activewear uses gussets, and they’re especially wonderful for sweater weight fabrics.

The Hemp Rayon was not terribly difficult to sew with, even on the fiddly places. I still don’t see any pilling, I’ll be sure to update at the end of the winter.  So far, so good!

I re-watched Charade with Audrey Hepburn last week and this collar on “Reggie” caught my eye.  It’s one of those curious little standaway collars so popular in the 60’s.  I also have several standaway collars on my Hack Inspiration pinboard.  I wanted to try my hand at a collar like this, combined with my other inspiration (though on closer inspection, it looks like this is a standaway collar, too):

I used a very plushy merino jersey and felted it gently in the washing machine.  The result is like polar fleece, but sooooo soft and warm and magical.  Really.  I found the fabric as a second at The Fabric Store.  I’m not sure why it was a second, I couldn’t find a flaw on the fabric.  (In fact, before I cut the hack I wore the length of merino as a pashmina on a night out and was sorely tempted to leave it as a pashmina.)

You can see the seamlines. Buttons are glass and metal ones I re-discovered while digging through my stash. I love special surprises like that!  I like the shape of the collar, but I could easily add a hook and eye to keep it closed tighter.

Sewing in the button loops

Close-up of embellishment. I made 3 lines of pintucking on each line I marked, very effective for this fabric.

back neck embellishment- I hadn’t washed out the chalk lines yet, in case they were needed to help show the embellishments in photos…

This picture shows range of motion. It’s important to me that my clothes allow me to pursue a double life as Spiderman.

I really must blog this skirt… I wear it all the time.

Click image to download hack + sewing notes .pdf. It’s different from my previous hacks.

When I was about halfway through writing this hack, I had an idea about how to best present the information.  I’ve been struggling with this since I started publishing the hacks.  I’d like them to be as visually pleasing and useful as possible, to present drafting as a delightful creative exercise rather than some secret and scary skill.  I divided up the various design elements on this top and present them separately- both in the hacking and the sewing instructions.  I’d be very interested to hear any thoughts on the hack.

More shots from the mobility testing.  Clothes should be able to move, even the really lovely ones with glass buttons and pretty collars.

I’m really happy with this hack- both the garments I made and the pdf.  Time to turn around and work on June, maybe I’ll get it out before July!

Up Next: Altering the Clovers and also Welt Pocket Testing.  I’ve stumbled across several interesting welt pocket tutorials lately so I thought I’d try a few of them and pick a favorite.

Finished Object: Pinkie Pants; Or- “Crack Is Whack”

I don’t usually double-post my projects on Sew Weekly, but I’m seriously in love with these pants.  Trousers.  Whatever.  I basically haven’t taken them off since I made them.  And I put a lot of time into them…

In fact, after a week of wearing basted on pockets, I think I’ll leave them too- though I didn’t like their look at first.  But they’re useful.  My phone doesn’t fall out, and I have somewhere to stash my bus pass and coins- so they stay.

Despite all the tweaking I did on the pants, the seams still matched up.  I wish I’d been able to flat fell them, but the double-top-stitched seams help the design stand out.  And it feels pretty durable.

I took quite some time to fiddle around with the fit, more to improve the Pants Block service than because I thought of it on my own.  But now- wow.  I have to say, I can see the appeal of skinny-bootcut-stretch pants.  Thanks, Blockers, for pushing me a little.

My major criteria for “fit” involves mobility.  I don’t like clothes the restrict my movement- where’s the point in that?  I have a little kid (which involves lots of running around and up-and-down-from-the-floor activity) and I’m probably not the world’s most ladylike person either.  I don’t stand still with perfect makeup and unwrinkled clothes.  I make big messes.  I like to climb, I even go fishing sometimes.  But I hate constantly hitching up my back waistband to cover my crack and muffin tops.

Really hate it.  Which is why I love waistbands at my natural waist.  To be sure, they used to feel constricting, like I was suffocating.  I eased into it with Mad Men style pencil skirts and then that was all she wrote.  I realized I could actually wear separates that stayed in place, even if I moved around.  No cracks, no muffin tops.

I guess high waistbands have been more on my mind since Mickhaela’s post on “In Defense of Mom Jeans, Granny Panties + High Waists”  Did you see it?  She did a great roundup of changing waistbands through the decades and her own thoughts on high waists.  The comments section is pure gold.

Where do you prefer your waistbands?  Why?

(This post is also a requiem for the Lacewing Top, I’m absolutely inconsolable because something dreadful happened to her.  I can’t face it now, I’ll write about what happened tomorrow.  I think it’s some kind of voodoo.)


Finished Object(?): The 40’s Charm Tee!

Do you ever tweak a project to death and lose perspective?

Love it, hate it, make sagging fanny jokes about a failed version with your English bestie over a few Jack and Cokes, make another from appropriate fabric, then can’t decide if you love it or hate it or went too far?  That’s me right now.

At the end of last March, I set up a giveaway/contesty thing (which was way fun, we’ll have to do that again soon) to help me decide the shape of this month’s Hack.  Every month, I put out a “hack” of my Blank Canvas Tee free pattern as a way to teach a little light drafting and to stretch my design skills.

The 40’s Charm type tops proved FAR more popular than a Cheongsam riff, and after I stared at the images for a few days, I pulled out three of my favorites:

First Inspiration: Vintage 1940’s Dress Fauxlero

This looks typically late 1940’s to me- draped ruching, faux-lero, a peplum and the length of the skirt.  I have a few Jalie tops with this feature, though I never felt the curve was quite right for my body shape.  It’s rather constricting in my own size, but when I go up a size it’s all wrong too.

Binding around the faux-lero… Wondering if I should edit out the gathering for a smoother fit…

Element: Fauxlero- because it’s cute but you can’t actually take it off.

Second Inspiration- Advance Neckline

What is it about Advance 40’s patterns?  They get me every time, especially ones with funny quirky details.  I love this weird little neckline, and I knew from the outset I wanted to try to make it work in a knit.  It does.

Element: Unique neckline (What would you call that shape? A Y-neck?)

And then this one- a little asymmetrical lower bodice inset ruching.  It’s charming, in its way, and I thought the lower inset would create some extra interest on the design.

Element: curved torso inset.

Progress shots- they help me problem solve but are not terribly glamorous

I played with it first in some unknown navy knit I had lying around- just the neckline and the faux-lero.   I should have stopped there.  But I wanted to “kick it up a notch” and try some ruched insets so I chopped into the muslin.  The thing about ruching is it needs to be taut.  Any extra ease and you’ll end up with the saggy fanny effect.

Doin’ the “LizaJane”

Then I made it in a blue organic cotton, leftovers from The Little Green Man shirt I made for Stephen a few weeks back.  I like it, but I still felt it lacked… something.  So I gathered the CF.  I wore it out like this today, and no one pointed and laughed.

Still restless, I pulled out the CF gathering and stitched the front seam 3/4″ tighter.  Taut ruching.

Still, I wanted to try just one more thing– some gathering over the bust.  Why not?

What do we think?  I’m putting the last touches on the hack pdf (to be published quite shortly), sorting out the patterns for the other sizes and I’m wondering- should I forget the lower inset, or leave it in?  Just one inset looks silly silly silly or I’d do that.   I have been playing with this for far, far too long to retain any sense of objectivity, and I would very much like some constructive criticism before I consider this month’s hack finished.

And… well… here’s a Saggy Fanny shot, for the sake of “keeping it real” and having a laugh:

I used an inappropriate jersey, which grew and warped disgustingly but that’s a whole post of its own!  It’s 3,000 times worse in person.  Trust me.  It’s ok to point and laugh, I’m laughing too.