Jalie 3673 Hack

The Allegra Leotard from Ainsliewear has been in my leotard pinterest page for a while.  When Jalie released their Violeta pattern earlier this year, I thought it would be the perfect base to re-create this look.

This is the result.  This was the first time I used this pattern, and there are some fitting issues that need to be resolved.  Usually, I take a wedge out at the back waist to minimise gaping, but I forgot to do that this time.  I did do my other typical fitting changes of reducing the waist shaping and grading to a smaller size in the chest.

I only changed the back pattern pieces for the style changes.  As you can see in the photo below, I traced the upper back piece, and again mirrored, and folded out the seam allowance to create a cross-over back.  I then drew in the style lines for the mesh section.  I used this pattern to add the correct shape to the bottom piece. The tricky bit was adding the seam allowances.  It would have been easier if I removed the seam allowances from the original pattern, made my changes and then added them back in.

This is what my final pattern pieces looked like.

Originally, I encased elastic in the edges and straps, but this distorted the mesh panels too much, so I unpicked it all, and redid it just in lycra.  I moved the position of the straps at the request of my dancer, and then had to add an extra cross strap because of the gaping at the back.  I'll have to remember to make that back gaping fit change next time I use this pattern!

This is what the front looks like.


Yellow leather hobo bag


This is my entry for the pattern review handbag contest.  I will just copy and paste my review entry here, as another week begins and I am not quite ready for it...things to do people!

Pattern Description: Leather Hobo Bag

Pattern Design:I drafted this pattern myself. The dimensions were taken from an Oroton bag that I have. It is basically 2 squares, with corners cut out of the bottom to give the bottom of the bag a box shape. A single strap is used to carry the bag on your shoulder. A magnetic snap is used as the bag closure. My Oroton bag has a leather facing on the upper edge of the bag, which I did not copy because I was worried about sewing through all those layers of leather (it would be 4 layers for top-stitching the upper edge of the bag).

Pockets:the best part about sewing your own bag is customizing the pockets. For a long time now, I have been sewing bags with two internal pockets - one zipped, where I keep my phone, and one without a zipper, to slip my keys quickly into and to find them quickly again. I have tried adding key hooks and more elaborate pockets, but found that I didn't use them. Before I sewed this bag, I tipped out everything that was in my current bag to help me decide what pockets I needed. This time I added an extra zippered pocket, low down and out of the way, to stash things that always stay in my bag and don't need to be accessed very often (eg medications). I also added a pen pocket and a glasses pocket. I'm not sure how well the glasses pocket will work. I made it in a softer quilting cotton, so that it squashes out of the way when not being used.

Fabric Used: The main fabric is leather purchased from The Fabric Store. It is thicker than any leather that I have sewn before, at a thickness of ~ 3 mm. It was labelled as Tory Burch.

The lining is a cotton canvas.

Hardware Used:

The hardware is from http://www.adelaideleather.com.au.
On the straps, I used D rings and bag snaphooks. They are lovely heavyweight fittings that feel like they will last really well.

I used double capped rivets to finish the straps and to secure the straps to the bags. I have a snap press, but did not have time to order dies and rivets from the supplier I have used in the past (I only have dies and parts for one sided snaps, and bags generally use double capped rivets). I set these rivets with a hand setting rivet tool, and it did not work out anywhere near as well as using a snap press. The caps do not always line up on each side.

Information on techniques used:
I used a leather needle.
I used extra strong Gutermann polyester thread.
I set my sewing machine to its slowest setting (which really tested my patience!)
I used a drill press to drill holes in my leather for the rivets.
As well as back-stitching at the ends of my seams, I also tied off my threads.

What could have been done better?
I wasn't sure what to do with my leather seam allowances. The leather was quite stiff and thick, and they didn't squash open and flat very easily. I read pros and cons for gluing the seal allowances down, but in the end, I just trimmed them to 1/4" and left them. 

At the top edge of the bag, it was difficult to fold the lining to the inside of the bag because of the leather seam allowance. I tried hammering the seam allowance turned in and flat, but it did not help much. I also have a few skipped stitches in the top-stitching around this upper edge as my machine struggled to stitch the outer leather to its folded seam allowance.

As mentioned above, the rivets could be better.

Would you sew a leather bag again?I'm not sure. Although my design was simple, the actual construction was hard work because of the thickness of the leather. I have a new appreciation for good quality leather bags! 

This was also quite an expensive make. The leather was on sale for $60 (and I have enough left over to make a smaller bag).

The hardware, including shipping, came to $50. Of course, I have plenty of rivets and some other bits and pieces for later bags, but this is what I outlayed at this time.

The cotton lining was from stash, so I don't remember what it cost. Fabric plus shipping was probably $20. The thread was probably about $8.

Zips were part of a larger order, because I can't get these sorts of zips locally. My total order came to $45, including shipping. Of course, I got lots more zippers, but I would not have placed the order if I wasn't sewing this bag. Say $10 for this bag.

The pattern was free 

So it cost about $150 to make. I have all the supplies, including hardware, to make another smaller leather bag for free, and plenty of rivets etc in stash for other projects.

So not cheap. Cheaper than buying the equivalent bag, but my finishes are not as nice as a purchased bag.

Are you happy with the bag? I am really happy with the bag. The rivets could be better, but I'm sure I will forget about those once I start using the bag all the time. I love the pop of colour from wearing the bag, and it is a nice roomy size.


Adding wires to the Watson

My bra fitting woes, both in RTW and sewing patterns, generally occurs in the upper cup.  An easy way around this is to wear demi-cup bras.  A long time back I bought a heap of demi-cup wires, but so far I have only got around to developing one pattern for them.  I like that pattern, but much as  sewing TNTs makes sense, I seem to want o have a new pattern for every single thing that I sew.  All these new patterns really slow down my sewing rate, but I can't seem to get away from it.  I think that I love making patterns more than the sewing.

Anyway, I like the low CF of the Watson bra, so I thought I would see if I could adapt the pattern to make it a underwired bra.

Here is the original band pattern with the wire sitting on top of it.  I have made a small mark where I want the width of the upper edge of the bridge to sit (I made it the same as my other pattern that fits well).

 I marked a new curve for the inner part of the wire.

The outer wire stretches out when you wear a bra, so I didn't adjust the outer curve this time,  After wearing the bra, it doesn't feel quite right, so I think I will adjust it a bit for next time.

 I added extra height at the CF of the wire, for seam allowance and wire play.

I left the outer cup the same and only made changes to the inner cup.  I lay the cup pattern over my bridge pattern and marked how much length I lost by making a bridge.

The dotted curve in the photo below shows the change I made.

I then made the bra up using some scrap lingerie lycra that I had dyed.  I didn't have enough for bra and knickers, so I combined it with a little bit of swimwear lycra.  I'm not sure what makes lingerie lycra different from swim lycra, but it is softer, and stretchier, and not so hot to wear.  

I dyed the fabric and most of the notions months ago.  Not sure why I did not dye straps at the time, perhaps I did not have strap elastic.  Anyway, I am having trouble dying at the moment, and could not get a good match in straps, so I cut these turquoise ones off an old bra.  Somehow I sewed the bottom band elastic on upside down, which irritates me a bit when I am wearing the bra.

After my last issues sewing channeling into stretchy fabric, I marked the length of channeling I needed to ensure that the fabric did not stretch as I sewed it.  It took a few goes and a bit of unpicking.

So how did it all turn out?  Not too bad,  I need to make a slight fit adjustment to the band pattern, taking out a bit of width at the bottom of the bridge, and I think I will adjust the band so that the wire doesn't have to stretch so far to fit.  Apart from that, not too bad.

I did make knickers to match.  I used an old pattern to get it to fit out of my scraps.  The crotch seams are not in the ideal position, but it fit on my scraps.


Soft bras

I have been sewing so long now, that I have plenty of clothes and mostly just sew where my whims take me.  Only now and then am I sewing something to fit a wardrobe need, but this was one of those projects.  For a couple of months now, I have been having issues with tension in my back muscles.  Some days, I can't wait to get home and rip my bra off.  I read other blogs where women are celebrating the freedoms and joys of going bra-less.  What I want to know is, don't these women sweat?  Because 5 minutes of skin on skin and I am back to putting a bra on.  So I decided to sew a couple of lounging bras.

Meanwhile, I sewed a bunch of undies a while back when I decided it was time to get a better fit.  I had sewed up Madalynne's Noelle, after seeing other people make it up, and I didn't like how it fit me, which set me on a path to getting a fuller brief to fit.  I ended up preferring a Sew Easy pattern, published in Australia in 1987, that I picked up in an op shop.  Then I decided that I don't like full briefs and cut them down to midi size.  At the same time, I tested the Watson brief in a few other sizes than then one I had been using.  I paired my lounging bras with some of these tester undies.

The first set is a Watson bra and brief, made up in a soft knit fabric.  The briefs are a size too big, but still wearable.  The straps are a grey strip.  I tried dipping them in a blue dye, but the dye didn't take.  I don't mind the grey with the blue.  I dyed the hook & eye and knicker / bra edge elastic to match.

The second set is the Noelle brief, cut down in height, and hack of Jalie 3671.  The fabric is a very soft and stretchy lingerie lycra.  It is so stretchy that I had to take in the Jalie pattern by inches (and usually I size up for Jalie).  I dyed the bra elastic months after I made the knickers and am really annoyed that I couldn't get a good match.   I have been having trouble dyeing my last few times, getting the dyes to take, especially if I mix dyes.  Sometimes only one colour will take and the other will stay in solution.  I don't know why.  Perhaps because the dyes are older now and going off?  Or maybe because I bought a new kettle and now am boiling my water in a metal kettle rather than a plastic one?  I'll have to go back to the old kettle for dyeing and see.

The third set  is the Sew Easy pattern and a bra pattern of my own draft.  Again, it is made up in a soft, stretchy lingerie lycra.  I dyed both the lace and the notions.  I adapted my demi cup bra pattern for the stretchy fabric and as a partial band bra, but I didn't realise how much the fabric stretched out as I sewed the wire channeling in, and the channel ended up quite a bit longer than my wires.  Being a partial band bra and not a full band bra means that i didn't have a stable base to sew the cups into. The stretching problem was one of those things that are obvious in hindsight!  Tricky.  I really like this bra though, so I will have to come up with a way to sew it so it works.  This set looks pretty on, and is my favourite of the three.

Wardrobe needs met...lucky I can sew, hey?


Tania Culottes

After studying my daughter's pinterest page, I went looking for patterns that fit with her fashion style.  One of my purchases was Megan Nielsen's Tania Culottes.  I bought a few lengths of rayon fabrics, and we used the cheapest one to test out the pattern.  

She sewed these herself (following the pattern directions, because she shoes not like to take instruction from me.  I have not read them, but I am guessing the instructions must be good, as she is a beginner sewer.  She did let me show her my tricks for putting in an invisible zipper).

She is an average sized 13 year old.  She cut the XS.  I think she took about 5 cm off the hem, and I showed her how to do a rolled hem on the overlocker, rather than try to hem all the way round that full skirt.  She was disappointed that the waistband was not closer fitting on her, but I was worried about the rate at which is growing, so rather than let her take it in, I added a length of elastic to a section of the back waistband to draw it in a bit.

For the top, I took a raglan shirt pattern (Jalie 3667), used just the front and back pieces, and cut them up and spread to add flare.  I then sewed a quick and dirty neck binding that ties at the shoulders.

The hem of the top hangs unevenly, because of the bias sections and the loose weave of the cheap fabric, but she is happy enough with it.   I'd like it to be longer, but she likes cropped tops at the moment.

The outfit is a win, and I think she will make up the culottes again in some better fabric.  It was the right pattern to step up her skills a step.  I don't love the top pattern...too short and too much flare at the front...but it was just a quick hack and I threw it away afterwards.