Upcoming and Planned Projects

Monday, 25 January 2016

Tropical Splash Swimsuit

Yay I made a new swimsuit! This is the Splash Swimsuit by Lily Sage & Co. It comes in both one piece and bikini. She released it last Northern Summer, so I'd been waiting for it to warm up before putting it on my sewing list. Then I needed to make a few work-appropriate clothes (more to come soon), but I finally got around to starting it last weekend.

I bought these fabrics at My Hung in Hurstville which has a huge range of lycras. When I went looking for fabric, this wasn't really what I had in mind. The pattern has the option to do the straps and waist and side bands in a contrast fabric which I'd decided to do, but I'd been thinking of using a fabric that was, well, at least a bit more restrained than this one. I was thinking block colour contrasts and colourful but muted main fabric, but once I saw this fish+flowers+waves+seaweed+gold foil nothing else looked interesting. And with the contrast accent again I did try and look for something that would tone it down, but nothing looked like a good match. So instead I went the whole hog and got some fluoro orange to match the fluoro orange fish. Very grown up.

Making the suit itself was pretty good. The instructions are well written, although I did need to reread how to do the straps a few times just to reassure myself that I was doing the right thing. But it was easy to follow. Sewing lycra, swimsuit lining, and swimwear elastic isn't easy - they do all have stretch, but different amounts which can make it awkward to keep things in place. There's a fair amount of basting in this pattern, which is helpful in address those issues, though.

I made a straight size 6, the smallest size. I'm long waisted, and so one piece swimsuits are often a problem for me as if they're long enough they're far too wide, but if they're fitted enough they're often too short. I'd seen a few others made up and lots of comments that the bottoms are quite high waisted. Because the pattern sat high I decided to not make any adjustments, but if I make the one piece again I will lengthen the bodice a little, maybe half an inch. As it is at the moment, the bodice pulls the bottoms up just a little bit over the waistline. It's not something that's a problem, but it is something that I'd fix in a future version.

I finished it off this past Saturday, finally getting the straps sewn. I won't post any pictures that give you a close view of them because, well my stitching is pretty woeful. I used a three point zigzag like the instructions say, and the stitching is fine. The straps themselves, however, are not so good. Trying to fold the lycra over the swimwear elastic, keep it even, keep it straight, and feed it through the machine takes either a lot more practice, or an extra five hands, or probably both. Either way, mine certainly don't look anywhere near professional. But they are functional, and they're tied up behind my back where I can't see them, so I think I can put up with them.

I made one change to the pattern, adding contrast bands on the legs. The pattern says to put in swimwear elastic and fold over the main fabric of the bottoms and stitch it in. But I tried the suit on and it was definitely already fitted enough and didn't need any elastic to keep it snugly in place. Also I was still a bit frustrated from sewing the straps and didn't want to use any more elastic unless it was necessary. Instead, I decided to cut a couple of extra pieces of fluoro orange lycra to act as contrast bands. Given every other edge has the contrast orange, I thought the legs needed the same. So I cut out the extra pieces, stitched the ends together to make one piece, stitched them right sides facing to the bottoms, then folded them over to the inside and finished off with a three point zigzag.

Although I finished the suit on Saturday I wasn't sure when I'd get to photograph it. Although Sydney's had a very tropical summer this year - constant temperatures up in the mid-high 30s followed by big thunderstorms - by the time I get home the storms are in full blast. And then this weekend was a bit grey and not really the right weather. Luckily not only is today a public holiday but it's also been fairly warm and sunny, so I took the opportunity to get the photos done.

I'm also very lucky that we have a pool so I can get the pictures in the suit's natural environment. With bonus fake rock waterfall and ferns for a 'tropical' feel. I even gave it a quick test swim (our pool's looking a bit dirty because of all the storms) and it did fantastically, no loosening or slipping out of place.

Overall, I am very happy with this suit, even if the straps are badly done. They're on, and they work, which is the important thing. And I love the slightly garish tropical fabric! I have a fair bit of it left - who knows, I might even make the bikini version and give myself a matching set.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Hot Day Work Outfit

First post for 2016! It's taken two weeks, so it's a two-for one post this time. I did get some sewing done over the Christmas-New Year's break but hadn't gotten around to taking any photos until before work this morning. It's lucky I took these photos first thing this morning, because after reaching 40° around lunchtime Sydney had some big thunderstormsthrough the afternoon, and I got soaked to the bone crossing the road from the train station to the bus stop on my way home.

As with my silk Kate Top, this outfit is specifically things I made that I can wear to work. Both of these patterns are from Japanese pattern books. The top, which I'll call the tie shell, is pattern I from les couleurs francaises. The skirt is the first variation of the straight skirt pattern in the blouse, skirt and pants style book. Neither are English translations of the books, although there are a few diagrams and illustrations. Still, it's best to have some reasonable sewing knowledge before tackling a pattern you can't read.

The top is made with a poly crepe from fabrics by Gertie, bought at Spotlight. Unfortunately, given that it was a remnant-sized piece I was pretty limited in what I could do. I chose the tie shell because it didn't use too much fabric. I had to compromise slightly. though. Japanese patterns don't have seam allowances included, but my fabric was not quite wide enough to add seam allowances for the back piece. It still fits and the back looks fine, but there should be a little extra length in the front upper bodice. But you do what you can with the fabric you have.

Other than that little issue the top was a very easy make. I did French seams, the narrowest folded hem possible to keep as much length as possible, and finished the neckline and armholes in off-white satin bias binding. As the shoulder straps are fairly narrow, the binding overlaps itself. I decided to sew the neckline first, and then only sew the armhole binding up to the neckline stitching, rather than having overlapping stitch lines. That way it has a cleaner, even line, and looks more professional.

The skirt is made with a heavy cotton from Tessuti Fabrics. I bought it at the same time as the silk for my Kate Top. I wanted something light in colour that was simple but not completely plain. This cotton is textured but not printed, so it fight the bill well. As it has a fair amount of body it needed to be a skirt with a more solid shape, and this six gored A-line skirt seemed just right.

This pattern was trickier to use than the top. The pattern book has a handful of basic patterns and then gives options for how to vary it to make other styles. This was a relatively easy variation, except that I decided to make some extra changes. The diagonal pieces on the side fronts of the original pattern are fake pockets, but I decided I wanted real ones. Measuring out the extra pattern pieces I needed was okay, although I did manage to sew a pocket bag on inside out. Putting the zipper in was a bit more of a problem. Because the fabric is a little heavier, once you put together the lower skirt front, the pocket bag, and the pocket top, it starts to get pretty thick. My machine wasn't too happy about that, and so the stitch line is a bit wonky and the zipper is unaligned by about 5mm at the top. I thought about redoing the zipper, but decided it's not obvious so I couldn't be bothered.

So apart from getting rained on coming home, I'm happy with both top and skirt. The top is light and breathable, and the skirt's shape and neutral tone will make it a really flexible item. Plus, pockets! It's been a while since I've used a Japanese pattern and they're always a bit daunting, but I've always had good results with them. Both books have a number of other great patterns, so I've no doubt I'll make a few more of them in the future.