Sunday, 23 August 2015

Jungle Top (V1454)

I think Jungle January just arrived in Sydney...

On the Saturday of the Frocktails weekend, I met up with Christie (Clever Tinker) and Rachel (RachelSews) to get a tram from the city out to Fitzroy to visit Clear It and The Fabric Store. And then a bit later on we met up with Sarah (FabricTragic), who'd offered to drive Christie and Rachel out to Darn Cheap Fabrics in Heidelberg.  Having seen so many lovely pieces of DCF fabric blogged as clothes by Lara (Thornberry) I was very keen to tag along, and Sarah was absolutely fine with it :).

Deep gulp of air. Darn Cheap Fabrics - wow.

I don't know if that weekend was a special one, but DCF was incredibly full of fabrics I wanted.  It was tough to choose just a few... They had Dolce & Gabbana silk organzas and silks and crepe de chines, they had the famous pineapple print, they had crazy pinocchio fabric, they had jungle print polyester...

I bought the jungle print, some grown up looking cream and blue silk cotton, a 3 metre length of fake pearls and some stretchy gold stuff for a dress up party, and a couple of D&G silks (red and white polka dot silk chiffon, another silk chiffon featuring squirrels and other critters on a blue background, and some pretty floral silk organza).

Breathe out.

So back in Sydney, full of sewing inspiration after a night of decadent and desirable frocks, I got cracking - cheapest fabric first, of course! And this DKNY top pattern, Vogue 1454 from the Spring/Summer 15 pattern range, is what I sewed up:

It's a boxy, loose-fitting, pullover top with no closures or fastenings. There are side slits that are just the right height if you want to use your pockets without flashing your stomach, and there's a back flounce or peplum which is longer than the front - I like it very much, and I want to make it in a solid colour like the original :).

In the next picture you can see how the side slit works out, as well as the length difference between front and back:

That back flounce is sewn on in a curve, like sewing just the back half of a circle skirt, and makes for smooth, graceful lines on what some like to call a "butt canopy":

I like the length of the front on me - it's hip length, and long enough to cover my stomach even when I lift my arms! 

Now you've seen what the top looks like sewn up, let's talk about the sewing details.

I sewed a straight size 12, and the result is a top that's very loose and boxy - however, the top is described on the pattern envelope as being "very loose-fitting". To date I've found the Vogue designer patterns to be a bit more roomy than the Vogue basics, so if you've yet to try out a designer pattern that's something you might want to bear in mind - the difference is probably less than a full size though. 

The pattern comes together very easily, with the hardest part being the narrow hems around the split  - and of course they'd be super easy with the sort of fabric that irons crisply - and I was able to knock the top together over two late evening bursts of sewing.

In terms of fabric yardage, this pattern is also a winner. The pattern envelope suggests you'll need 1.4 metres of 150cm wide fabric; I had 1.5 metres of this width. For a size 12 I was able to cut the pattern out with two quarter folds to the centre of my 150cm width, and although I did need about 1.4 metres of length I've now got a decent rectangle of fabric left over - maybe enough for a simple bag lining. 

And if you're wondering how close the pattern is to the original designer garment, I'd say very!

I spent a bit of time searching this top out among past seasons of Donna Karan and DKNY, and it looks to have come from the DKNY Spring 2014 collection - which doesn't seem that long ago to me because we haven't yet had Spring 2015 here in Australia!  Here it is on the runway:


It looks the same as the pattern to me, though perhaps a bit larger - though I'm not sure if that's just because the models are very thin under the tops? Here's a back view of the top as shown on a retail website:

All the DKNY versions of the top look to be made from crisp cotton, and on the retail sites it was listed as 97% cotton and 3% elastane - I think I want my next version of this top to be cotton too! 

Final thoughts? Well obviously I love the pattern, but I'm not sure I love this fabric on me - I don't mind its polyester-ness, but I'm not convinced this is *my* green. On the positive side, I may be on my way to a Jungle print conversion...  

Up next I'm planning to blog my frocktails outfit. The weather was stunning yesterday so I went out for blog photos, embarrassed myself horribly (I even ran into the whole family of a good friend of my son's, arghh!) BUT I think the photos are going to be alright.

See you soon

- Gabrielle xx

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Print Charming

In the weeks leading up to Melbourne Frocktails I had grand delusions of sewing myself a whole new casual wardrobe to wear while in Melbourne - some denim culottes, a cool top, a skirt in a great print and a vintage swing jacket. Of course there wasn't time for all that sewing, but I did manage one thing on that list: a cool top which I wore all day on Saturday before the party.

I think the colours are pretty true in the above photo - I don't normally like butterflies but the flowers and lovely orange, teal and pink are right up my alley!

I bought this fabric from Tessuti's Chatswood store a couple of months ago, within about a day of seeing someone in Melbourne post their purchase of the fabric on Instagram. Instagram is just terrible for making you realise there's a fabric you need, but it can also get you on the case quickly before a fabric sells out :).  This fabric is a digital print ponti, and it came in two colourways - both sold out very quickly so unfortunately I doubt you'd still be able to get it anywhere.

I only bought about a metre as from memory it was quite expensive - I think it's an Italian fabric, and it is a beautiful quality, but I don't like spending too much on stretch fabrics for some reason! Anyway, I soon had buyer's remorse and wished I'd bought more - I would really have liked to be able to make something like Kirsty's dress.

Oh well, with my little metre it had to be a top or a skirt... I thought I'd get more wear from the fabric as a top, given I spend my weekends in jeans and weekdays in a fairly conservative office, plus the colours seemed pretty good on me when I held the fabric up against myself, so a top is what it became!

I can see in these close up shots that the top had wiggled to one side - oops :). When it's not moving off to the side the shoulders actually fit very nicely!

And what pattern is it, you ask? Well this is very boring, but for a basic top, these days I seem to be using the same pattern over and over... and that staple pattern is Vogue 8916. I've made the top pattern before both as a t-shirt (my Splat! top) and with lengthened sleeves as a sort of sweatshirt (this pink / striped top).  It's very simple, but I really like the fit - it's about a million times better than the Papercut's raglan-sleeve Undercover hood on me!

As usual I sewed a size 14 in this pattern as it runs a bit smaller than the Vogue designer patterns. I cut the body to hip length according to a bit of tape measurement work (shorter than the pattern) and lengthened the sleeves based on my arm length. The neck band is a simple addition; a rectangle of fabric folded in half lengthwise, and pinned to fit to the neckline with the excess length trimmed away at a small centre back seam.

I think I have the fabric at 90 degrees to the right way up, but the fabric stretches in both directions so this direction feels fine on. And this orientation allowed me to place the flowers and butterflies where I wanted - an orange flower with a starring role in the front, pink flowers on the shoulders, and butterflies positioned to be less noticeable on the front. I know there are butterflies up high on the back, but as I can't see them they won't creep me out :).

In terms of sewing techniques, this was dead simple - I used a straight stitch on all the seams (yes, heresy, I know, but I think a straight stitch works perfectly well on a stretch seam so long as that seam isn't under stress!) and then used the overlocker to tidy everything up. The hems are top stitched with a single line of coordinating teal straight stitching at a stitch length of 3. Easy peasy!

I've come back from Frocktails incredibly inspired to sew and blog - in terms of sewing, the denim culottes are still on my radar but they're now competing with some really fun fabrics from Darn Cheap Fabrics and a couple of Named pdf patterns I bought in their recent sale. Where to start!!! And blogging - well I still need to get photos of my frockails dress and cape (sorry, I had too much on this weekend!) but I've also got a bit of a backlog of basics to blog (maybe consolidated in a single post so I don't bore you to tears) and a new top made over a couple of evenings last week with some of that Darn Cheap Fabric...

See you soon!

- Gabrielle xx

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Melbourne Frocktails - the Frocks!

I have just had the most amazing weekend - a weekend in Melbourne with the loveliest bunch of sewists from Melbourne, Sydney, Port Macquarie and even New Zealand. I imagine you want to see the photos?

Well come on in then! Everyone's getting to know each other...

I'm terrible with names so you'll have to introduce yourself, but everyone's really friendly :). And if you're anything like me you might find you already "know" some of the unfamiliar faces - everyone's getting name / instagram stickers to wear.

ALL the standard frocktail games go down a treat - "Guess That Pattern", "Feel That Fabric" (permission required for this one), "Is That Silk?", "Ooh I Have That Fabric In My Stash!", "Do I / Don't I (Follow You On Instagram)" (complexity dependent on Instagram selfie level), and "Didn't You Only Finish That Last Night?"...

So many amazing dresses, tops, skirts and jackets; so much awesome fabric; so much FUN!

I'm really hoping most of the frocktail creations are going to be blogged so I can see them in good light and in detail ...

And yes, I will blog about my cape and my dress!

After 6 or 7 hours the crowd will thin out...

And people will start making their way...

.. to the chips before bed!

Come back next year!

Thank you very, very much to Kat (of the deep red, sleeveless, plunging V-necked gown in a couple of the photos above) for organising the Melbourne frocktails party and a host of events before and after the party. I imagine it was a huge amount of work! I believe Kat is already thinking about the next Melbourne frocktails... and if that's too far for you to travel, look out, frocktails parties are cropping up everywhere! 


If I didn't get a photo of you OR my photo is so dreadful it makes you feel ill (yes, I know a couple of the photos are appallingly unflattering!) I am very, very sorry - I'll try to do better next time!

See you soon

- Gabrielle xx

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