Ready for summer - wide leg linen pants

Sunday, 9 August 2020

I had absolutely no reason to make a pair of summery linen pants since we've had torrential rain and cold weather lately (which is great, because we need all the rain we can get!). But since I'm at home going nowhere with more clothes than I currently need why not make whatever takes your fancy? Plus I know the warm weather is only just around the corner and this time I'll be ready if I ever go back to working in an office, going out with friends or just doing anything other than working from home.

pink linen wide leg pants Burda 10/2016 #113

These are Burda 10/2016 #113, which I first made as one of my Burda of the month challenge projects:

Burda 10/2016 #113 wide leg pants

After years of wearing skinny pants, it does feel strange but also freeing to wear wide leg pants. Thankfully these aren't too wide - more just a straight leg from the hips down.

pink linen wide leg pants Burda 10/2016 #113

A few years ago I was on a mission to perfect pants fitting and used a whole 10m bolt of calico making multiple muslins and I still didn't make a pair I liked. I've realised that wide leg pants like these suit my lumpy legs best the fabric just hangs straight down, but still every time I make pants I continue to make fitting adjustments.

This time I used the crotch curve of the largest size but the leg and waist sizes in my normal size, and I also increased the height of the back rise by adding a wedge and spreading the dart open to keep the crotch curve correct - I didn't do this properly last time and it made the pants gape open at the back. I've read so many resources on pants fitting I can't remember where I learnt this from, but this is what it looks like:

pants fitting adjustment to increase the height of the back Burda 10/2016 #113

I do love the wide curved waistband - it's quite comfortable and sits over my mum tum because these are high waist pants (well probably at the natural waistline which feels high to me!).

pink linen wide leg pants Burda 10/2016 #113

And how nice is this white top? I bought it from an op shop without even trying it on thinking I could salvage the fabric for a refashion but it turns out it fits perfectly and looks smashing with these pants:

pink linen wide leg pants Burda 10/2016 #113

The only thing I'm not sure on is the length of these worn with heels - these days I tend to wear flat shoes most of the time so that's the length I hemmed these to. They are perfect when worn with sneakers and flat sandals, so I guess that's what I'll have to wear with these pants

pink linen wide leg pants Burda 10/2016 #113

pink linen wide leg pants Burda 10/2016 #113

It's not often that I make pants and like how they look, but this pattern is a winner in my books. I've made these two times previously - firstly in 2016 in a white pinstripe cotton that sadly no longer fit and then again in 2018 in paprika linen which I do still wear frequently.

white wide leg pants Burda 10/2016 #113

paprika linen wide leg pants Burda 10/2016 #113

I never thought I'd be wearing and loving a pair of pale pink linen pants but it turns out that pink is a neutral that goes with just about any colour. As much as I love winter and the cold weather, I'm slightly looking forward to summer now so I can start wearing these pants out more than just the quick dash to the supermarket I did today!

Cozy winter dress - Simplicity 8014

Saturday, 1 August 2020
It's the middle of winter here in the southern hemisphere, although it doesn't really get that cold in Sydney which means anytime of the year is the right time for a new dress! Especially when it's made from a brushed cotton / flannelette (are they one and the same?)

black and white check shirt dress simplicity 8014

It's not very often that I make all the versions of a pattern, but Simplicity 8014 is firming up as a favourite pattern for both of its styles of shirt dresses. I've made two versions of view A/B with a full skirt and now I've made view C. Literally I have made view C - even using the same fabric as the illustration!

I wasn't sure how this pattern would turn out because I know with my wide hips and smaller waist that patterns with a waist seam work best and look the most flattering on me. So I cut the pattern out a size larger than I needed below the waist to make sure that it would flow and drape around my widest part rather than strain across my hips and thighs. So it's a little wider than the pattern illustration but still not as wide as the full skirt version of this pattern. 

black and white check shirt dress simplicity 8014
Without a belt it doesn't look too frumpy, but it does have serious night gown vibes so I think I'll stick to wearing a belt with it.

black and white check shirt dress simplicity 8014

black and white check shirt dress simplicity 8014

I really like the button tab on the sleeves to wear them folded up - it makes it look a bit more casual. 

black and white check shirt dress simplicity 8014

And even though I intended this as a casual dress I couldn't help but match the plaids - it makes my eyes twitch when it doesn't work out but thankfully on this dress it did. After pre-washing this fabric it was really off grain so I had to iron it back into shape which I'm glad I did because all those seams match. Not on the shoulder seam though - matching sleeves to the bodice is super super hard!

black and white check shirt dress simplicity 8014
I think I've really got my money's worth out of this pattern, especially since I would have bought it during one a pattern sale. I can definitely see a few more of these dresses in both versions in my future.

So simple: Tessuti amara vest

Friday, 24 July 2020
After finishing that tailored green jacket I needed to make something really quick and simple - the Amara vest by Tessuti patterns was just the thing. It probably took me longer to print out and assemble the pattern than it actually did to sew it!

A woman modelling a plum coloured vest worn over a white shirt

It's a very shapeless and boxy style but still drapes quite well so it doesn't make me look like a child in adults clothing. I made the smallest size and while it's quite wide across the body which is only really noticeable when my arms are up, but luckily I don't need to use my arms robot style too often:

A woman lifting her arms to show the width of the wool vest

The fabric I used is a felted wool bought from Addicted to Fabric in Canberra last year on a road trip with some Sydney Spoolettes to see an exhibition on the costumes from movie The Dressmaker. This pattern is exactly the project I had in mind when I bought this fabric, I just had to wait a while for someone to draft a pattern for me! 

Because the wool is felted I knew it wasn't going to fray, so I've left the bottom hem unfinished and instead of binding the neckline and sleeves I just sewed on strips of the fabric and left them on the right side. I was going to turn them to the inside and topstitch them down, but I quite like the look of the bands even though they are roughly cut so I decided to make a feature of it instead.

a close up shot of a neckline of a wool vest

a close up shot of the sleeve of a plum wool vest and a white shirt

The shirt I'm wearing underneath is one I made a few years ago but never blogged for some reason. It's made from a vintage Simplicity pattern:

photograph of an old sewing pattern cover showing four different styles of shirts

Given that it's a learn to sew pattern it was super simple. The fabric is a crisp stretch cotton, and I found some black and white buttons which is just perfect for the fabric.

a lady wearing a white and black polka dot shirt

I even managed to find some photos from three years with the same jeans - they are a bit blacker than they are now, I'm about 5kg lighter and I was still taller than my children. The good old days!

a lady wearing black jeans and a white shirt standing in front of a wrought iron door

a photo of a woman and two children in front of a colourful wall mural

So all in all a lightning quick but great project. It's surprising warm wearing a wool layer even though it's sleeveless. It might be my inner nanna coming out, but I do like a comfy vest so I can see a few more of these vests in my future.

woman standing beside a fence


Green + Blue

Wednesday, 15 July 2020
I thought that being at home practically all the time now would mean I would have lots more time for sewing and blogging but it turns out that I don't! I am super busy with work at the moment, and most days I barely brush my hair (messy bun for the win) and only slap on tinted sunscreen so it's even harder to take photos than before.

Case in point is this green blazer I finished sewing two weeks ago - I only just found the energy to put on some make-up and real shoes to take these photos today!

I bought this beautiful vibrant kelly green wool boucle from Super Cheap Fabrics online and it turned out to be exactly the colour I hoped. I was inspired by this outfit worn by Peggy in episode 11 of the final season of Mad Men:

I used an old Burda pattern - 4/2014 #103 which isn't available on the Burda Style website but you can download from the Russian Burda website here (I often buy my patterns from the Russian website because they are far cheaper).

This pattern caught my eye because it has the notched lapel and trim like the inspiration photo, but I also really like the curved front hem and the princess seams that extend into the shoulder which make it easier to adjust the fit. I left off those patch pockets and also removed the vents at the back because I found that they stuck out awkwardly and they weren't needed for a close fit.

I did my usual fit adjustment of a 1.5cm forward shoulder adjustment and slightly narrowed the shoulder too. This fabric has enough loft and with interfacing in the shoulder area it didn't need a shoulder pad but still managed a neat fit through the shoulders.

I hand stitched the navy grosgrain ribbon on which was really tough on my fingers but I thought I'd have more control doing it that way. I tried to make the corners as neat as possible but they aren't 45 degree angles so it took a little fudging to make it work. It looks a bit messy in this photo below but we all know that people don't stand close enough to see this level of detail, especially now that we're all social distancing.

The buttons were also really difficult to resolve. I just couldn't find any that matched the colour of the grosgrain ribbon in my local stores, so I ended up making fabric covered buttons for the two front ones, and some smaller navy blue buttons that were already in my stash for the sleeve buttons.

I absolutely love this jacket and colour and I almost can't wait to be back in the office so I can wear it for real.

For these photos I've paired the jacket with a navy blue dress. Navy blue just seems natural to wear with this colour jacket especially since I used navy blue trim and buttons!

I made this dress maybe two years ago but haven't blogged it. It's made from a 1970s vintage Style pattern:

The fit is quite good but the fabric choice wasn't the best. The fabric is a thick herringbone cotton that doesn't drape so it has quite a pronounced a-line shape to the skirt and it is a magnet for every bit of fluff, lint or strand of hair in near proximity.

I don't actually wear this dress too often and have been considering refashioning it into a skirt instead because the fabric is really quite nice (except for the fluff factor). And I think this pattern made in a more drapey fabric like crepe would work a lot better too. I'll add it to my really long list!

Sweet + simple: Burda 11/2019 #105

Saturday, 20 June 2020
As the world is slowly emerging from Covid-19 social isolation bubbles, I am still working full time from home and will be for the foreseeable future. My employer, the NSW Government has decided that all back office public servants will keep working remotely to reduce the pressure on the public transport systems. Which suits me, because I quite like working from home especially now that my kids are back at school and my husband is back at his office!

I did re-evaluate my sewing plans because I don't need to be making corporate clothes since these days it's all casual. However I realise that what I like sewing the most is tailored and structured garments, so I'm going to keep on making them even if I won't be wearing them for a while yet.

I recently made three simple long sleeve blouses that will be perfect for layering under a blazer when I'm back in the office, but also work well for video conferencing even I'm wearing them with sweat pants. First version is from a very soft cotton voile with white polka dots:

woman posing in a pale pink long sleeved top

Then I made a much brighter version in a glorious emerald green linen floral:

woman posing in a bright green floral top worn with a navy blue pencil skirt

And finally a version from a jumbo sized navy gingham which I cut on the bias for a bit of a difference:

woman posing in a navy blue gingham top worn with a yellow necklace beside a timber fence

The pattern is Burda 11/2019 #105 which is a really simple top with three pattern pieces - the front and back on the fold and the sleeves:

photo and technical drawing of a sewing pattern for a long sleeved top

For each of my tops, I shifted the neckline opening to the back and drafted a facing instead of self fabric binding for the neckline. I find making and sewing binding for necklines really fiddly and I prefer the cleaner look of a facing.

close up photo of a womans face wearing a pink polka dot top

close up photo of the back neckline of a womans top

I really like the elastic cuffs to the sleeves - it brings in the volume of the sleeve nicely at the wrist which means it doesn't flap around and makes it possible to get the sleeve into a jacket when needed.

photo of a woman holding a tea cup and showing the cuffs of a long sleeved top

For the navy gingham version, cutting it on the bias made it slightly more difficult because I tried my best to pattern match. For some reason, I managed to get a good match on one side but not the other! I don't know how that happened, but as we all know hardly anyone else ever notices these things so I'm not too worried.

photo showing the side seams of a top to demonstrate the matching of gingham stripes in the fabric

It's not often that I make the same pattern multiples time in a row, but this pattern seriously takes about 2 hours to make and only uses up slightly more than a metre of fabric so it's a good way to quickly turn fabric from the stash into something wearable.

Simplicity 8014: my new favourite shirt dress

Sunday, 31 May 2020
a lady posing in a black shirt dress with leopard belt in front of a lounge room

Earlier this year while it was still summer here in Australia I finally got around to making a pattern that had been in my stash for a while - Simplicity 8014 shirt dress. If you google this pattern number it throws up many great dresses made by lots of other ladies, so I really don't know why I waited so long to make it.

This is quite a simple pattern with a few great variations:

The front cover of Simplicity 8014 sewing pattern showing 4 variations of a shirt dress

I particularly like view A and B because that waist seam is a god send for those with sway backs, and the flared skirt is also great for a pear shape.

side view of a lady posing in a black shirt dress in a lounge room

I did a slight narrow shoulder and forward shoulder adjustment which I do to all patterns, and graded out from the bust to two sizes larger at the hips - all of which are pretty standard changes for me.

close up view of a lady wearing a black shirt dress

I've made this out of black heavy weight linen from The Fabric Store - it's really great quality and didn't lose any colour when I did a hot pre-wash to shrink it before sewing. Being linen it did wrinkle after a full day of wear in the office (back in the good old days when we went into our offices on the regular), but nothing too outrageous:

photo of a lady wearing a wrinkled linen shirt dress in the front yard of a house

side view of a lady wearing a wrinkled shirt dress in the front yard of a house

Before I made this version though I firstly made view B which is essentially exactly the same but it just has a mandarin collar made by leaving the collar off and just sewing on the collar stand. It makes it look quite different without a collar, probably because it seems natural to wear it buttoned up completely instead of open like the collared version:

woman in a blue and red floral dress posing next to a pool

This fabric is also linen, bought online from Super Cheap Fabrics that I bought during one of their sales. It's also great quality - the colours didn't run when I washed it and it has a great weight and opaqueness for a dress.

I didn't try to pattern match at all, but it's not obvious in this busy print. And even without wearing a belt this one sits nicely around my waist and the two small waist pleats (not darts) don't fluff out too much.

woman posing in a blue and red floral dress next to a swimming pool

photo of a woman in a blue and red floral dress posing next to a swimming pool

Please excuse the dirty pool in the above photos - these were taken in February while we were still having those awful bushfires and the slight amount of rain we got washed all the ash and dust into the pool and everywhere else. We're now having a wet May and with all else that has happened last summer feels like a lifetime ago.

So overall this is a really great pattern that I can highly recommend. I'm thinking about trying the other view as well because I think it would be a more casual style which would definitely suit these current times, but I'm not so sure it will look as good on my pear shape.