Wooster Jacket

The Wooster Jacket is a timeless addition to any wardrobe. I was lucky enough to be gifted this beautifully designed piece by Sewing and the City. The description of the pattern is, “The Wooster is a loose-fitting unlined jacket with yoke detail, front slit pockets, bracelet length sleeves and a wide neck band.” This is my first time sewing a pattern from Sewing and the City and I daresay it won’t be my last. 

Sewing and the City offers tutorials for those who may be just starting out in their sewing but I found the instructions comprehensive enough for the short time I’ve been sewing. I decided to challenge myself to sew this jacket in a “Sew Everyday” challenge where I sewed for 15 minutes daily. This was such a fun way to sew and it helped me plan and understand the processes of putting this piece together. Here was my sewing process for the jacket:

  1. Complete all stay stitching
  2. Attach pockets to front panels
  3. Join front top and bottom panel
  4. Join yoke to back panel
  5. Sew on sleeves
  6. Sew side seams
  7. Sew hem
  8. Add neckband
  9. Sew sleeve hem

Just a few notes from my version, I sewed the size M which fit exactly as I liked. This pattern has a size range from 42 1/2 inch bust to 55 1/4 inch bust. I used a wool blend fabric to make my Wooster Jacket as it’s an unlined jacket so I chose a fabric that would sit softly against the skin. This fabric has a bit of polyester in the mix which made it hard to press and so when it came to attaching the neckband I stitched-in-the-ditch rather than topstitching it on. Also, there are no indications in pattern of when to overlock / serge the seams so I just noted where to do this when I read through the pattern. Other than that, it turned out exactly as the pattern promised! 

Thanks so much for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Meridan Knit Dress

Sew To Grow is an Australian based pattern maker. I came across her designs with her famous Bondi Dress and Sydni Dress on Instagram. However, I really wanted to continue to explore sewing with knit fabrics. I had been hoping to find a dress that wasn’t a wrap dress or a T-Shirt dress which seems to be the most popular beginner pattern for knit. This is why I was so excited when I came across the Meridan Knit Dress. On the website, it’s described as a knit dress, “with the beginner in mind.” The design is quite classic with a fitted bodice attached to a straight skirt. It has variations with sleeve length, rounded or squared hemline and vee-neck or rounded neckline. It’s so great when you have so many variations in one pattern.

The pattern has very clear instructions to start with a toile so I decided to make a wearable toile. I’m glad for this advice because I think the type of knit fabric chosen could significantly impact the sizing. I was told early on in my sewing journey that the pattern is only a template and fitting the pattern is the skill that makes the outfit.

You can see in my toile that I chose to sew the size M as my measurements (B:37 W:33 H:38) were in the range but it was too big and I had to bring in my seams from 3/8 inch to 5/8 inch. I did not sew down a size because I felt that the fit around my neckline and bustline were comfortable and I didn’t want that tight feeling under the arm which can happen when you size down. Perhaps, if I had chosen a more stable knit fabric, there would be no need to change the seam size. A little customisation was made by shortening the elastic and only attaching the elastic to the back of the dress leaving the front flatter but gathered between the pockets.

The fabrics that I chose to sew the Meridan Knit dress were both Rayon Spandex. This fabric has great drape and is so lightweight and comfortable to wear. It’s also wrinkle free and won’t need ironing. I could not resist this beautiful Jocelyn Proust Design with beautiful honeyeater birds. Honeyeaters are frequent visitors in my garden and provide so much entertainment with their energetic flittering from branch to branch and lively chatter.

The instructions were very clear and concise in this pattern. There was some slight confusion on the order of the instructions like hemming the sleeves and skirt before attaching to the bodice. I realised later that this would have given a neater finish if I had done it this way. For efficiency, because I had to change to a twin needle for the hemming, I had left the hemming of sleeve and skirt to the end which worked out fine as well. The bias binding for the neckline stumped me a little but that’s down to my learning style as I’m a visual learner so I decided to sew a band method to finish the neckline which I was already familiar with and liked the look of. Luckily, if you need to, there are sew-along tutorials you can access if you subscribe as a Sew To Grow Club member (monthly fee applies for subscription) and there are a lot of free tutorials loaded onto the Sew To Grow site.

The Meridan Knit Dress was an enjoyable sew and knit fabric is a breeze to work with once you’ve got the hang of it. In fact, it seemed to take less and less time with my toile taking me a couple of days to complete and my last dress only taking me half a day to whip up!

I’ve been wearing them on repeat and have had so many people ask me where I bought my dress. It’s been so rewarding to be able to sew myself something as lovely as this dress and by the way, it has pockets!

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Comfi Lounge Set

This make was inspired purely by my much anticipated annual leave. I know that the lounge set trend came about because of people working from home but being a healthcare worker rules that out for me. So, all I’ve thought about was a couple of weeks of sitting home lounging, eating, napping, reading and lots of sewing. The weather has also helped as temperatures have dropped and rains have settled in. 

I chose to sew the Comfi Lounge Set as it’s a Pattern Scout Pattern and from past experience, all her patterns have been pure joy to sew. I do love a challenge when I sew, like doing a good puzzle, but in this case, I just wanted a relaxing, uncomplicated sew. It definitely turned out to be exactly that! A very easy, relaxing sew and it does exactly what it says on the tin. The guesswork for sizing and the choice of fabric is all taken care of. 

My husband is an avid supporter of my sewing hobby. He often comes along fabric shopping with me and was the one that spotted this pineapple print cotton jersey fabric.

Who can resist pineapple print?

I cut out and brought along the stretch ruler that Pattern Scout provided in the pattern instructions which made it so easy to pick the fabric especially if you’re new to knit fabrics as I am. I used this medium weight knit for the Comfi Lounge Pants and as a surprise for my husband, I also sewed up the pineapple print jersey as a sleep shirt for him (this is not included in the pattern, his shirt was self-drafted). For the Comfi Lounge Tee, I’ve sewn up the basic short sleeved tee version and I’ve used a lightweight stretchy white cotton spandex fabric. 

Instructions were great as usual and the size 12 was a perfect fit for my measurements. All seams were sewn up on my overlocker and the hems and sleeves were finished with twin needles. I’ve seen some beautiful versions of this pattern on Instagram and it’s definitely one that I’ll revisit. The next time I sew this, I’d love to play around with fabric choice.

On a side note, sewing this has been such a joy and in general, sewing is such a joyful pastime for me. It has also been fun (and funny) to document these makes along the way. I hope joy and creativity is something that everyone can make time for in their lives. Sewing and having a hobby is something that really contributes to my wellbeing. Hopefully, whatever you’re facing or doing, I hope you’re able to find some joy in it.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

The Jarrah Sweater

The Jarrah is a pattern by a beloved local Perth Designer Megan Nielsen and comes with so many options due to the fact that it’s a modular pattern. This allows you to mix and match the different bodice options with different neck band and sleeve options. This is such a feature with Megan Nielsen’s patterns as she offers many variations making her patterns such good value. I’ve now sewn the Jarrah pattern a few times producing a different look each time. The Jarrah is such a comfortable loose-fitting sweater. I also love how the look of the Jarrah changes depending on the fabric choice so I decided to explore this by making two versions. In the first version, using a fleece lined knit and a rayon spandex with the second. 

Both were sewn up in the Size 12 without any adjustments as these were the closest to my measurements. There is a lot of ease in the pattern so you could look at the finished measurements and size down for a narrower fit but I personally liked the generous give in the fit as it feels so comfortable and great for lounging in. For both versions, I had 1.5 meters of fabric which turned out very well. I did try to see if I could use less but had to take into account the direction of the stretch in the first version and the pattern placement in the second version. With the second version, I also needed some black ribbing. You don’t need much, about half a meter should be plenty.

The choice of the fleece lined knit was just right for a sweatshirt style sweater. The fleece I chose is smooth on the outer side and has a loose nap on the underside which is just so soft and plush. It will be so warm and soft to wear against the skin. The peach is a delicious pop of colour that I just couldn’t resist! Testing the stretch of the fleece, it has a tight stretch one way and is quite a stable knit. I made View B with the high-low hemline. It has an interesting curve along the hemline and is the longest option so very good to style with jeans or even activewear. 

The peach is a beautiful colour but it was difficult to find any ribbing to go with the colour so I had to make my own neckband. I did this by cutting a longer than needed strip of the same fabric along the stretch of the fabric. You could also cut along the bias to make it stretchier, however, I felt that it had enough stretch without doing that. I then measured the band against the neckline and subtracted about 20% in the neckband so it could give some tension to the neckline and sit flush when worn. 

To finish the cuffs and hem, I used a twin needle. The cuffs were easy to sew up but it was a bit trickier with the curved hemline. I found it hard to pin the thick fabric especially going around curves so I used some quilter’s tape. Also, a word of warning when you first start sewing with twin needles, go slowly! I was chugging along full speed and didn’t notice the thread getting tangled and broke the needle. Luckily the sharp part was still attached to the thread. It really made me consider getting some safety goggles for my sewing.

The second sweater I made was with the Jocelyn Proust Magpie Printed Rayon Spandex Fabric. This is currently exclusive to Spotlight Stores. Jocelyn Proust designs are so recognizable for the Australiana flora and fauna featured in her designs. I love the unique call of the Magpie bird so I fell in love with this design straight away. 

The rayon spandex knit is a very soft drapey fabric and has amazing stretch recovery. It has quite a luxurious feel and although I’m making it for my winter wardrobe, I think this fabric is also quite good for summer. The look I wanted was a long-sleeved cropped blouse sweater so I used View A. Cropped sweaters were all the rage in the 80s so I thought it would be fun to recreate that look. I used black ribbing for the neckline and cuffs and to recreate the cropped look without exposing my belly button. I doubled the height of the hem cuff and shortened the width so it would cinch in the fabric at the waist. 

This time, everything was sewn up using only the overlocker. It was incredibly fast doing it this way. I worried about the strength of the seams but after testing a bit of off-cut fabric I felt that the stitches held very well. However, I’m very inexperienced with knit fabric so please don’t take my word for it. Personally, I felt that for the speed and convenience, I was happy to take the risk of sewing up with the overlocker.

The Jarrah is such a versatile pattern and it was fun playing around with all the options. I made my first Jarrah a year ago and I know it will be one of my “tried and true” patterns. It has also been an interesting exercise coming back to a pattern that I made at the start of my sewing journey. I feel that I’ve made huge progress and the finishes, although not perfect, are getting so much better.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em 

Reflecting on the Me Made May 2021 Sewing Challenge

So, whether you’re new to the sewing scene or someone who has been part of the sewing community for a while, you’ve probably come across a sewing challenge at some stage. I think “Me Made May”, which was the brainchild of Zoe Edwards, must be one of the longest running as it’s been going for about eight years. It was so interesting to read her blog on how and why she started Me Made May. 

So, the challenge runs for the month of May. To participate, you can make a pledge or statement as to what you are getting out of the challenge. Usually, there is a pledge to wear something you made for each day of May, which was part of my pledge. I also included that I wanted to repair and maintain items as I went along. Part of the beauty of this challenge and what makes it so useful is that you can set your challenge the way it works for you. 

The second part is documenting the challenge. Initially, I was a bit hesitant to get in front of the camera daily. There is no rule saying you have to do this as it’s left up to each individual what they want to do. After getting over the initial camera shyness, I did find myself wanting to document my outfits as I wore them as it was motivating and a useful reference.

I wasn’t sure if I would have enough to wear as the weather starts to fluctuate at this time of year. Well, this is where the surprise came as I discovered that I could comfortably wear, with a few repeats, items that I’ve made. Usually when I sew something, I wear it on repeat until my next project. Documenting it daily really motivated me to reach back for items that I hadn’t worn in a while. It also motivated me to correct a few mistakes that I had put off to “one day” fix but never did which inadvertently prevented me from wearing the item more often. This process has also made me realise what lovely investments these patterns are and made me want to go back and resew patterns and experiment with different fabrics. 

I have also realised where the gaps in my closet are. This mainly came about when we had the sudden cold snap at the last week of May which often happens here in Perth, Australia. Even when the rains kick in here, we often have quite tolerably warm temperatures until BANG! It’s freezing and down to single digits (Celsius). Due to this cold snap, my Me Made May journey was a bit patchy towards the final week but I was quite happy with what what I had gained from participating in the challenge. Looking back at my Instagram Highlights, I count about 20 days where I’ve managed to wear something “me made”.

Another bonus of the challenge was realising that all my sewn clothing has been standing up well to the rigours of daily wear and washing! I was kindly guided by a sewing friend to invest in an overlocker. I was lucky enough to find an old sturdy (and very heavy) four thread Bernina Overlocker second hand. It’s a beautiful machine and I’m so grateful that I’ve had such good advice on my sewing journey. Once you invest time and effort in a garment it’s very hard to part with it and it’s so important to be able to maintain it.

You can tell that Me Made May is a really cherished sewing challenge in the community. Participation is high even though there is no “prize” to win. There was some cheerful grumbling about getting front of the camera daily but all followed with lovely smiles and fun poses! It’s lovely to connect with new sewing friends and to see how everyone was meeting their pledges. Here are some sample “Me Made May” outfits of mine that received a lot of love! Thank you so much if you’ve been following along.

Mash Up Fun

Facing lockdown again, there has to be an upside and that upside is time. Time to indulge in a bit of sewing and to do something I’ve never attempted before. A mash up of two sewing patterns and to start a new hobby … blogging.

Patternscout and Marshastyle are two seriously talented independent sewing pattern makers. I’ve sewn quite a few of the Patternscout patterns, they are beautifully drafted and as a beginner, I find the instructions easy to follow and I’ve just learnt so much by sewing her patterns. The sizing is also always a great fit for me. I came across the Leila Dress by Marshastyle last year when I had just started out on my sewing journey. What’s not to love with the beautiful boho look of this dress? The statement sleeves are so unique and so was the tiered gathered skirt. The combination was just too hard to resist!

When I sewed the Leila Dress, I made a blouse hack to try out the bodice and discovered that the v- neck neckline was a bit too low for me. When I wear it, I usually have a cami top underneath so I found myself not reaching for this in summer when Perth hits 40 degrees celsius. As a result, I didn’t sew up the dress. I knew I would come back to it when my skill level improved and in fact, Marshastyle did a blogpost on how to modify the neckline to move it higher.

Leila Dress hacked into a top

Fast forward to the start of 2021, I found the Hana Dress Pattern from Patternscout. This is a lovely shift dress and she has given two options for the dress. One is a simple pull over the head shift dress and the other is made with a button placket starting from the neckline all the way down to the hemline. I have reached for these over and over again. I think what I love about the Hana Dress Pattern how the bodice fits me. The neckline is especially flattering on me which gave me the inspiration to try this mash up.

Hana Dress – button up version

When I came across this beautifully spring patterned Japanese cotton lawn, I immediately thought of the Leila Dress again. The fabric is so soft and lightweight. I haven’t had much experience sewing with cotton lawn but it would be the perfect warm weather fabric. I decided that I would use a muslin to line the dress as the fabric was quite sheer due to being so lightweight. The muslin also provided me with the chance to test the fit without cutting into that beautiful Japanese cotton lawn. The original pattern is not lined but lining a dress can be thought of as just an extension of the facing. From the Hana Dress, I used the bodice pattern pieces (front and back) measuring about 6 inches from the bottom of the sleeve hole (armscye) and cut straight across. From the Leila Dress, the tiered skirt was cut out but the sleeves were left off for the muslin.

Muslin lining

From there, it was a simple matter of trying on the muslin for fit and then using the same pattern pieces, now including the sleeve pieces, for the shell of the dress. The lining is attached to the shell via the neckline and the arm holes (armscye) and there we have it! A mash up of the Hana and Leila Dress. If you love the Leila Dress as much I do then check it out at www.marshastyle.com and enjoy her fabulous blog.

I’ve always wanted to do this with the sleeves.

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