FINISHED! Girl Friday Anna and Boy Silk Culottes

Second only to my love of drop waists dresses is my love of culottes. Debbie must be sick of me saying that I'm a culottes fan and how I'm going to make a pair, but never do. Well, finally, here is my first attempt.  The pattern is the recently released Girl Friday culottes by Liesl & Co. The pattern provides for a pair of culottes with a reasonable amount of volume.
The pattern itself was well put together with good instructions, but I was punching above my weight the whole way with this make. It was foolish to think that I could try a new pattern, with a check silk.  I bought the fabric from the The Fabric Store in Surry Hills when I was there with Emma, Amy and Maria in January this year.  It is an Anna and Boy silk, which I noticed was still there in September. Uurgh, silk. I always want to buy it but in reality I don't really enjoy sewing with it.
I hate to have things too tight around my waist and the pattern didn't provide for finished measurements so to be on the safe side I went up rather down where my waist measurement fell between sizes (though to be honest it was closer to the lower size). The result was that the waist was enormous.  I ended up altering both the front and back darts by an additional (whopping!) 7cms each.  I could have taken more in except that I was worried about how the silk was hanging at the darts and I didn't want it to pull. I still have significant ease in the waist and as a result they slip around a bit.
The other issue I had was the pockets which are supposed to be nicely hidden in the sides aren't quite perfect on the left hand side where the zipper is. I put this down to slippery silk and sewing or probably a cutting error.  I will have to put my hands in my pockets when I'm wearing them so it's not so noticeable.  I managed to get most of the stripes lined up so thank goodness for small mercies. 
I interfaced the waistband with a lightweight interfacing but in hindsight wonder if it couldn't have used a slightly heavier one.  The waistband is supposed to close with a trouser clasp but I really hate those and find that no matter how I put it on the fabric flaps a bit. I ended removing the clasp and putting a button on. The waistband and hems are hand stitched.
I kind of like these but I found most of the making of them a bit of a chore (silk not pattern issue). I think they are more flattering in real life (maybe?) but regardless, they will definitely go on the work wear rotation as they will be breezy and I hope fun to wear as we move into the warmer months. For my next pair, I definitely need a different fit in the waist and for a heavier fabric - a little less volume. 

FINISHED! A stripey spring skippy dress

When I first started out sewing, one of the first patterns I ever bought was the Little Explorer pattern by Make it Perfect, to make little pants for Elliot. I loved this pattern and made it up a number of times both for him and for others.
It was with excitement then that I got an email from Toni Coward from Make it Perfect, asking if I'd like to be a part of a blog tour for her latest pattern, the Skippy.  The Skippy also has a little girl variation, the Joey, which Renae made a super cute version during testing.
It has been great to reconnect with this Australian pattern company and discover and rediscover the many patterns that Toni has released. If you don't already know about this company, you will find a plethora of patterns there for the whole family!  Anyway, I couldn't say no to the Skippy.. let's face it... it is a drop waist! And the gathered sleeves add such a cute touch.

The PDF was a cinch to put together and I really liked that pages were only joined for a particular piece of the pattern. I am the biggest fan there is of the instant gratification of the PDF, but it can be a little bit annoying taping a lot of pieces together and ending up on the floor because the result doesn't fit on any table. The instructions are thorough and were easy to follow.

I set off to find the perfect fabric but struggled as I didn't want it to be plain (no surprise) and I couldn't decide whether I wanted to make a spring version or a winter version. I do love the winter version with the twisted cowl neck. In the end this stripey ponte won out and a spring skippy it is.

The fabric choice however caused it's own problems, as a heavy ponte from spotlight (this is my favourite stripe ever but it is so hard to find it anywhere in a deep blue,so when I saw it at spotlight I had to pick it up) it has very little stretch, almost none. It is a heeaavy ponte.  I love the result on the fit and the way it hangs, but obviously such a fabric isn't great for attaching a neckband, unless you use a different fabric. 
I did the neckline an embarassing amount of times. First with the neck band, but it didn't sit flat and was never going to with so little stretch so I unpicked it and opted for the turn down approach, with some clear elastic and the twin needle. As the hours progressed I got fussier and fussier and unpicked and resewed and unpicked and resewed. With relief I can say I'm happy with it now. And I'm surprised at how much I like this scoop neck on me. Quite a different style.
The gathered sleeves went in well. I've always covetted the sleeves on this dress of Tilly's and I think next time I might make them a bit like that - especially with such a heavy knit. 

I took about 2 inches off the length of the bodice to account for my short stature, and I took a substantial amount, about 15cms off the hem.  I left the arms long and didn't cuff them but just turned them under and twin stitched. Same with the hem which I twin stitched after overlocking.
Now that it's made up this dress ticks all the spring dress boxes.  Thick enough to add a bit of warmth,  but an opportunity to get the legs out for the first time in months. I love the slightly loser fit in the top and the kangaroo pouch which could hide any lunchtime sins. This skippy I know, is going to be a workhorse during spring!

A Blog Hop

Hi, I'm popping in today as I am honoured to have been nominated in the Blog Hop by Bianca from Vintage on Tap. Do you read Vintage on Tap?  It is a new to me blog, but already a firm favourite in my reader. I'm so glad Bianca contacted me. She is clearly a lady after my own heart with some Liberty makes (including a tie out of fabric that I have - the temptation to copy is very high!!), but more than that she has a great style. I particularly like her 'set up' blog posts and her philosophy of focussing on slower, quality sewing. Defnitely go and check out her blog. I know you'll like it.

The blog hop was started a while ago and I am ashamed to say that I don't know where it started but the idea is to answer 4 questions and then pass onto 2 other bloggers who will respond to the same questions in one weeks time. First to the questions:

1. Why do you write?
I started writing so that I could participate more in the sewing community. I think instagram has now removed a little the need to have a blog for this, but when I started Top Notch in 2012, it seemed like the only way to be able to connect with other sewers. At the time I didn't really know anyone else who sewed and so talking about sewing was all online.

Like most sewing blogs, mine documents my sewing journey and love that it reference of all my makes. I started right about the time of Me Made May 2012, which allowed me to document a lot of my earlier makes as I wore them.  The blog helps me remember what I made, what went wrong, what went right.  In a way it also helps me to identify what looks good and what doesn't.  I'm sure I never used to analyse my clothes in the same way as I do now. I defnitely never had so many photos! I wonder has it made me more creative in my clothing choices as well?

Oh and of course it is a place for me to document my obsession with Liberty of London  through my Library of Liberty!

2. What are you working on?

Currently I'm working on the Skippy Dress by Make it Perfect. A wonderfully casual dress that I'm making as a 'get outside and be active' kind of dress now that spring is here. 

I am also completely besotted with some patterns in a new Japanese release, Clean and Natural, which I can't wait to start on.

3. How does it differ from others of it’s genre?

Maybe it's all about the patterns,

I'm not sure my blog is that different from anyone elses, but I do like an interesting piece of fabric. I love Liberty of London fabric and I make a lot with it.  I look forward to each of their 6 monthly releases. There are not too many finished pieces that go by before a Liberty make will pop up. Liberty fabric makes me sew better - and no I wasn't paid to say that. It just does. I always sew better with it.  Even more I love to document the history and story of this fabric, so you will always see the story behind the fabric.
The Perils of Patterns.  Limited edition print of an original watercolor painting.
'The Perils of Patterns' by Vivienne Strauss. Available on Etsy
I think most of us have problems identifying their style, but we know it when we see it.  At the moment I find the style of Republique du Chiffon, Pauline Alice and some of the Named Patterns really work for my aesthetic.  I love stripes and drop waists! I wear my handmade clothes everyday, but I wouldn't say that I ever make basics, nor do I really want to.

4 How does your writing process work?

Nowadays I usually only post on finished makes unless it's something special. I used to post more but find that this routine is working for me better.  I try to provide as many details on the make as I think are ok and won't bore everyone and as a reminder to myself if I make the pattern again.   Once I've made something, I'm definitely in a rush to post about it! 

So now to the next blog hop..

I'm nominating Myra from My-Zee-Moo  and Jen from the Stitcher and Gatherer.  Having this blog has opened up a lot of great friendships, with people who I will probably unfortunately never meet in real life, people I know I will one day meet and now people who I've met in real life and who have become really good friends.

I now have a wonderful posse of Canberra gals  after a few stars aligned earlier in the year and we all met.  I mentioned last post that Myra, Jen and Amanda and I went up to Sydney on the bus together to Frocktails. All four of us stayed together in a little hotel room and for being able to put up with my constant nose blowing and snuffling I'm now sending the blog hop to Myra and Jen, two super talented sewers with their own unique style and approach to sewing.  You can read up on their answers next week.