Block Printed Tops

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The blue top is a bit of a blast from the past, made maybe three years ago when I was up to my neck in making Tessuti Fave Tops. I have moved on now sewing-wise, but only after, it has to be said, upwards of 20 versions of that pattern in every conceivable fabric. There are still plenty of them populating my wardrobe.

This is one I had not been wearing much, as it felt a bit plain. It had also got shorter than I like with washing, one of the rare times when not prewashing a fabric before sewing it up has come back to bite me. Normally, with the loose styles I prefer, it is not a problem. This one not only got shorter and wider after the first wash, but kept going for quite a few subsequent ones. Other than that the fabric was great, a substantial linen jersey, whose quality I got to appreciate after buying some rather lousy thin ones, and so I was reluctant to get rid of it.

Block printing it was of course the answer, nothing much to lose at this point and everything to gain. After testing my carved stamp on a scrap bit of fabric of a similar colour I was happy with the print, but didn’t do my usual test print on paper to work out how I was going to place the prints. Bad idea, because although I like the top, I wish I had placed the stamps closer together. Too late now!

If you are interested in block printing and want more information on the nitty-gritty of the technique, click on ‘Block Printing’ in the list of categories to the left of this post. It will take you to my other block printing posts, and especially the earlier ones explain in detail how it is done.

This is the first time I have printed a top after it has been sewn up, rather than printing straight after cutting out the pieces, but it went reasonably well. I put some paper inside the top so the ink would not bleed through, which proved unnecessary with the thickish jersey. Essential though, I would think, with silk or cotton voile.

You could quibble a bit about the way the pattern has been handled at the side seams, but I can live with the small imperfection. The top no longer languishes in my wardrobe for weeks on end, but has turned into a weekend favourite. Good enough, I would say. ¬† ūüôā

 

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A success always puts me on a high, so fired with zeal I printed another top, again a linen jersey. I bought this at the same time as the turquoise, and it had been sitting in my stash for years. I prewashed it, you will be glad to know, and hopefully it won’t get shorter and wider like its turquoise sibling. If anyone is interested in the pattern used for the top, I have written detailed instructions on how to make it on¬†PatternReview.

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I still have a brown piece of linen jersey, bought at the same time, and here are some ideas I have floating in my mind for printing. They are all black or grey on white backgrounds, but my background is of course brown, and the prints will most likely be black.

 

 

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…And Now for Something Completely Different

I feel very brave posting about swimwear at my age, or possibly courageous in the ‘Yes Minister’ sense of the word. Not only is my head above the parapet, but the rest of me as well, jumping up and down for people to take pot shots.

Please don’t.

Even grandmothers like to swim, and so we need swimsuits. I could of course wear board shorts and a rash vest, or forego the fun to be had in the water altogether, like many older women, but being able to sew I feel I have other options. This is an attempt to create a swimsuit I feel comfortable in, even — shock horror! — to wear in public. It is a very personal choice, catering to my insecurities. Yours will be different and you may therefore prefer a very different solution to the problem. But you get the idea. There are alternatives to deprivation. No need to play dead yet, as they say.

But before I take the drastic step of displaying myself scantily clad on the internet, I want to put things in perspective. Nobody, ¬†but truly nobody, looks like the swimwear models in the advertisements! To see real women you need to look at the beach, but of course you only see those who are young enough and/or brave enough to be there. And even those who look fabulous aren’t happy with their figure.

So get over it! Don’t swallow hook line and sinker what the fashion industry serves up as what a woman ought to look like. It’s all fake.

Dont believe me? Then look at these pictures. First the photoshopped version:

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… and then what the models REALLY looked like.

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Ah, but they only photoshop plus size models, I hear you say. Really? I mean, seriously?

All I wanted was something I could feel comfortable in, maybe a bit sporty looking, something that would be kind to my far from perfect figure and hide as much of it as I thought I needed. I couldn’t quite find what I wanted, so in the end I went for a very simple pattern, Jalie 3138, that I would be able to hack to my hearts content.

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I particularly liked the boy leg and it would be easy to extend to a longer length, in my case to below the knee. Yes, you did not misread this, I did say below the knee. I have no great love for my thighs and I am hiding them because am a sewist and I can!

As I was making a swimsuit and not a leotard, I lowered the back neck edge quite considerably and I took the instructions from another suit to make a shelf bra using a layer of lining.

My choice of fabric proved to be not ideal, as there was unfortunately no print I liked enough to buy when I visited the one brick and mortar store within reach selling a reasonable selection. I settled for a plain turquoise blue, which, as I soon realised, had to be lined in order to avoid arrest after getting it wet.

To add some interest and as an attempt to make the suit visually slimming, I added a wide cobalt blue stripe along the whole side of the suit, from under the arms to the leg hem. To do this I shaved 4cm all along the side seams of both the front and back pattern pieces and inserted a 9cm strip of the cobalt blue. So there are now two side seams where this strip joins the main body of turquoise at front and back. Looking at the photos the dark stripe could have been even wider.

The necessary lining for the turquoise is sewn into the seam joining the cobalt. I lined both front and back to be on the safe side. I must say that it does make the suit slow to dry. Next time I will try harder to find a dark print for the centre panels, which hopefully will make the lining unnecessary. The side panels can be as light and plain as you want, as there is nothing sensitive that could show through.

To lengthen the legs I just continued on from the bottom of the boy leg to the length I wanted, narrowing the front and back centre panels progressively from the hip down. The pattern had a rectangular crotch piece, which I lengthened all the way down both legs to the hem. I used the cobalt blue for this too, creating a contrast stripe on the inside leg as well as the outside.

I finished the suit with special swimwear elastic around the armscyes and neck edge, sewing it onto the wrong side with a zigzag stitch and then new folding this to the inside and topstitching with a triple zigzag. This stretches as much as it needs to and looks rather nice. I did not want elastic at the leg, so I did a hem with my coverst√ģtch.

I have reviewed this pattern on PatternReview, if you want o read more about the construction details.

The suit is quite wearable but I have to say that there is still room for improvement. The centre panel is a bit of a wide expanse of fabric that could have been broken up a bit, maybe with some diagonal panels. The calf-length legs work for my comfort level, but here too diagonal seams would be a plus.

It has to be said that people tend to look because this suit with its longer leg is visibly different to what everyone else is wearing. If you prefer not to be noticed it may be better to stick with the boy leg or maybe lengthen it only to shorts length.

From a sun protection point of view, this suit is fine for indoor pools and less intensive European ultraviolet rays, but in Australia I would certainly want an empire length, long sleeve rash jacket. I planned one, but have not made it yet. Wearing it over the top I would only have to put sunscreen on my face and neck, and maybe on my lower legs if I am in the sun for extended periods. Beats having to oil up all over and still worry about getting burnt!

 

 

 

 

 

RUMS

 

Bubble Dress Mark II

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So I had another go at perfecting my bubble dress. This one is frankenpatterned using two Tessuti patterns, the Eva bodice and the Lily skirt part.

Instead of cutting the bodice and upper skirt in one piece as I did with the last bubble dress, I decided on a separate empire bodice, fitted, but just loose enough for me to be able to slip the dress over my head without needing a zipper. For the rest I thought the circular upper skirt and inverted circular lower skirt were still basically a sound solution. The addition of an inverted box pleat at CF and CB would control the volume below the bust but release it lower down for the skirt. This proved to be quite a good approach. For variety I also added some short sleeves, just a little longer in length than a cap sleeve.

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The picture above shows the copied off skirt piece from the Lily. Any voluminous A-line skirt will do, or if you are confident you can draft it yourself. This will become the upper part of the skirt.  The bottom circumference is around 65cm. Cut this out twice for front and back on the fold. I actually place  the pattern piece about 5cm away from the fold to make the skirt even more voluminous. (You need to do this both with the upper and lower pattern piece, to keep the circumferences where you are going to join both pieces the same.)

Then you draw a line 30cm parallel to the bottom edge and cut along this. You can see in the photo below where I have already done this, resulting in a wide piece which is flipped over vertically and will become the lower part of the skirt. I have tapered this inwards at the side seams and added 16 tucks around the hem, clustered both sides of the side seams, to take it in further. I think I should have used deeper darts, not just tucks. Elastic would have done a similar job, just more evenly all around. I might do that next time.

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As I have already mentioned, I made the upper edge of the skirt fit the lower bodice edge by means of a very deep inverted box pleat. While I was sewing this I was a little worried that it might result in the dreaded pregnant look, but having tried it on I don’t think so. Ironically no pregnant women wants to be seen dead in a smock these days, everyone is determined to show that they are still slim above and below the bulge. Not a problem, leave the smocks to those of us who want to be cool and comfortable!

I must say I am rather pleased with the result of this experiment, it looks very much like I have a new TNT. The only further improvements I can think of is deeper hem darts and perhaps a flange at the bottom of the empire bodice, but the latter is not essential. The linen I used has a loose-ish weave and so the empire seam turned out slightly shaped, being pulled down at CF by the weight of the box pleat. You could call it wonky but I rather like the effect.

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Talking of the linen, it started life as a remnant of a boring cross weave in light yellow and cream. After an encounter with my dye pot is is a nice textured turquoise. I think I may have been naughty and did not wash it properly prior to dyeing, because it didn’t take the colour all that well, but there was enough fabric to cut around the streaks and lighter patches and it looks quite respectable.

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I was also worried it would be the kind of linen you have to iron every time you want to wear it, and still it would look like a rag after a couple of hours, but it is actually not too bad. I took some of the photos at the end of a work day and it looks ok.

I am still searching for a good spot to take decent photos. The garden looks nicest, but the mozzies are fierce right now and they really love me. So eventually I had to retreat back to the bathroom. Better luck next time.

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Bubble Dress

 

While I have been writing about variations of the Tessuti¬†Lily¬†dress I think I might show one that wasn’t 100% successful. I made it a couple of years back and it is not a disaster, actually I have worn it quite a lot, but casting a critical eye over it I think I might do things a little differently if I make something like this again.

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While the pretty fabric of this dress rather saves it from languishing unloved in my wardrobe, it falls a bit short of the grand vision I had. What I was aiming for was a bubble dress, of the sort Rundholz does so very well.

 

So let’s analyse what went awry with my attempt.

Clearly, looking at these pictures, the Rundholz bodices are much more close fitting than mine. I dislike tight clothing and don’t want to go as far as that, but there must be a happy medium. I think my dress could easily have been a bit more fitted above the waist without being too restricting.

The other difference is the dramatic volume of the skirt. I know that Rundholz is fond of tulle petticoats to achieve this signature look and I can see one peeking out in a few of the photos. But as I have no intention of prancing about in tulle petticoats, anything that cannot be achieved in other ways is probably beyond my reach. A fairly substantial, non drapey fabric is a good start, as it will hold the bubble shape fairly well. I used quite a hefty cotton elastane for this dress, which is not bad. Bringing it in more at the hem with a couple of pleats or tucks would help too. In addition I could have made a lining, shorter than the dress and narrower, and attached the hem of the dress to that. With a sleeveless summer dress meant for hot weather a lining is not necessarily welcome, but for another season it would be fine.

What would improve the silhouette further would be more of a contrast between bodice and skirt to accentuate the bubble. A princess seam in the bodice where more volume can be added to the skirt part, or vertical darts from below the bust to the waist or high hip, taking in volume there, would do that nicely. Or possibly a separate bodice with the skirt pleated into that to achieve more volume. I think Rundholz uses all these techniques.

I definitely overdid the width of the A-line with this dress, at least between bust and waist, because it has to flare out so much at the side to get to such a wide circumference by the time it hits the horizontal seam. More restraint overall without any other modifications would have looked better, I think. I will have to experiment to find out if this is true. A large scale grey paisley is already earmarked for this, which is more in keeping with the Rundholz colour scheme of grey or black or both. Bit out of place for summer, but eminently suitable for autumn.

I have documented the sewing process of this current dress on Pattern Review and with the modifications outlined above I might get a little closer to my goal next time.

 

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And a bit more Rundholz eye candy…

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A looser bodice can work with the right pattern. This dress looks like it has princess seams which allow more width to be added to the skirt not only at the side seams but the princess seams as well. A band at the bottom pulling in the hem produces a gentle bubble shape. Something to think about.

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A different take by Moruyu, again with a looser bodice. The skirt part is very wide and shaped, methinks, only at the side seams. This should look baggy by all my rules, but I know from other pictures that the model is very petite, so maybe that makes a difference. Or maybe she is holding this skirt the way she does for a reason, her elbows pushing in the dress at the waist…

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Linked to RUMS

Sticking to the Basics

Some sewists really enjoy the challenge of exploring new patterns and mastering advanced techniques. Not me! I am really more into the overall look of an outfit than into technical excellence in my sewing, and if I can get away with something simple to achieve my ends I will run a mile from complicated.

Fortunately I am into the Japanese Lagenlook aesthetic of simple and uncluttered, and fiddly details just don’t attract me. I also like wearing comfort and no longer want to tolerate anything tight or restricting. To me tailored garments very much fit into that category. I suppose that over the years I have learnt to sew what I like to wear, and to a point have learnt to like what is easy and quick to sew. Which side has made more of an accommodation than the other is hard to tell.

Pattern companies need to sell patterns to make money, and people who enjoy sewing also enjoy browsing patterns and consequently end up buying lots. I personally think that my sewing does not benefit from being driven by new patterns, especially not by the patterns offered by the Big 4. I prefer to start with fashion shots of garments I like, often on Pinterest or designer websites. Then I go looking for a pattern to achieve that look. Almost always I can adapt one of the basic patterns I already have.

That small number of patterns is all I need to cover 90% of the garments I make. Two skirts, 2 pants, 2-3 woven shirts, 2 knit tops and 3 dress patterns have actually, over time, resulted in a rather gargantuan wardrobe with something to wear for every occasion. The fabrics I have used make all the difference between super casual and special occasion, winter or summer.

These patterns are my TNTs (Tried N True) because I know they suit me and¬†will turn out so I can be happy with the result. Having made them many times before and knowing all the ins and outs is a bonus, and I can vary each one just enough to get the look I am after and avoid a strong personal style turning into ‘same old same old’.

The sleeveless version of the Tessuti Lily, a simple A-line dress, is probably my most basic pattern and I have made it many times in all sorts of incarnations. I have blogged about this here in a previous post. That was 3 years ago and I am still finding ways to use this pattern for something new.

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This post is about my latest version, somewhat lengthened from the original and with a short overblouse adapted from yet another one of my TNT patterns, the Tessuti Jac shirt. The inspiration was something like this top by Bryn Walker, although my version has short sleeves and not as many layers.

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To make the top I extended the fronts of the Jac shirt past the mid line, about half way towards the side seams, so they would overlap. Much like a double breasted shirt, except I skipped the buttons. I stitched the fronts to each other at the neck edge and instead of the collar I widened the neck to a circumference of around 70cm and added a cowl. The sleeves were shortened and folded back to form a cuff. I also shortened the top to waist length.

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I modified the neckline of the Lily from a boat neck to round, as a boat neck can be problematic with bra straps. I also used normal sleeveless armscyes from another pattern instead of the cutaway shoulders, because nobody needs to get a good look at the little rolls of fat in my armpits. ūüôā

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The dress can be worn sleeveless or with this top when it is a little cooler. I quite like the look of the top and am planning a couple more to wear over other sleeveless tunics or dresses when the weather gets cooler again. There is no need for them to match, just plain ones that coordinate will do the job. I think this style will also work for winter in a Ponte or merino knit, possibly with long sleeves. A variation could be to leave off the cowl, as I wear a lot of scarves in winter. That opens up the possibility of closing the fronts with a button at the neck edge, and if they are not stitched down they can also be left to hang open.

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RUMS

 

Easy-Peasy Batik

Batik is a wonderful fabric for hot weather, and we sure are in the middle of summer right now and it is HOT. We had the hottest day since 1938 in Sydney yesterday, so I am really grateful it was a Sunday and I didn’t have to work. It was so hot that some of my tomatoes got partially cooked on the vine! I spent the afternoon with my little granddaughter playing around in her paddling pool and it was absolutely delightful.

When i spend time with my grandchildren the last thing I want is to have to worry about my clothes. Something that will crushed or show up little sticky finger marks just won’t cut it and batiks are a winner in that respect as well as keeping me cool.

No problem with the fabric then with this tunic, but on the sewing side there was a bit of a history, illustrating the vital importance of proportion. I have had to remake this tunic twice to get it right. I used the Tessuti Lily dress (https://www.tessuti-shop.com/products/lily-linen-dress-pattern) which is one of my TNT patterns, shortening it a bit and modifying the cut away armscyes to regular ones, and all should have been well. But unfortunately I fell into my usual trap of trying to use up all the fabric at my disposal, as I hate waste. Much as I think frugality is laudable that was a bad idea in this case, as the tunic ended up not only too wide but also far too long. I could have shortened it and taken some volume out of the side seams, but that would have been too easy. So I let it marinate over winter to see what could be done to improve it.

In the meantime I had seen these dresses with tucks on Pinterest.

That gave me the idea to do similar tucks into front and back to take out length. I angled them a little and made them deepest at CF and CB, petering out to nothing and meeting up at the side seams. Sort of a very shallow moon shaped dart on the outside, front and back. This was not as visible on my batik as it would have been on plain fabric, but I still liked it and it solved part of my problem.

Not all of it though, as you can see in this photo.

I think the tunic is still too long, and the pants possibly too short. To improve the proportions I decided to fold up the hem at the side seam. You make a a small fabric loop at the hem and sew on a button about 15-20cm up from the hem along the side seam, then hook the loop over the button. The front and back hem hang free as before, more or less. You could just stitch it, but this way you can unbutton for ironing, which may or may not be needed at some stage. It also allows me to have one side up and the other down, or both down worn with leggings instead of the wide pants.

(view on the inside with part of the hem folded upwards at the side)

I also relaxed the elastic in the pants so they would sit on the hips, not the waist, which brought them closer to the fashionable new length of just-above-the-ankle.

Its probably not the most spectacular outfit I have ever made, but I am much happier with the proportions now. I will get a lot of wear out of it, precisely because it doesn’t look too dressed up, and I won’t need to stress about a mark or two from grubby little fingers. Even a whole Vegemite sandwich would probably not be too noticeable smeared across this busy batik! ūüôā

 

 

RUMS

Heavenly Balinese Ikat

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I finally got around to making a dress from one of the ikat fabrics I bought on my trip to Klungkung earlier this year. These fabrics are hand made on traditional looms, which makes them almost too precious to cut into for something as pedestrian as an everyday garment.

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(Photo of loom is courtesy of http://www.dajuma.com/2014/11/10/traditional-weaving-looms/)

However, I buy more ikats to use for making clothes than I would otherwise, which apart from keeping these crafts alive, puts money into the pockets of both the weavers and the traders at the traditional markets. That must be a good thing. Wearing my dress around Bali I also got some positive comments from Balinese women, for whom it was a novelty to see this fabric made into a western style dress. You see lots of garments made out of batiks at the tourist markets, but strangely enough only ikat sarongs. Maybe some bright spark will pick up the idea and start a new trend making dresses featuring these hand made treasures.

Traditional looms are only 1m wide and the ikats have a border at each selvage. This poses some problems in terms of design, as of course all border fabrics do, except being particularly narrow does not help because it restricts options even further.

I had 3m to play with and being the middle of summer I decided on a tank style empire bodice with a pleated skirt. I have an ancient pattern with a bodice that has just the right amount of ease to slip into without needing a closure, which I have used many times because it is such a boon. I have no problem with installing zippers, but not needing one does away with having to find one that matches, and the additional ease of the looser bodice makes for great wearing comfort.

Because of the borders the whole dress needed to be cut sideways, on the cross grain. Initially I planned to have a border at the bottom of the bodice and again at the top of the skirt joining it. But the two heavy horizontal lines around my middle proved to be unflattering, plus the bodice was too long and so the proportions were off. I could have cut the border off the bodice and skirt and rejoined, but I am such a lazy lump that the extra work did not appeal. I solved the problem by making a flange, a deep 4cm tuck or flap, going to the outside, at the very bottom of the bodice, making it 8cm shorter. The border on the bodice is on the underside of the flange and the flange flaps over and hides most of¬†the border on the skirt. If you enlarge one of the photos you can see the line of stitching creating the flange, but I don’t think it is visually offensive as it blends into the pattern.

I originally started doing flanges to hide where gathering is joined to a bodice. I hate doing gathering and endlessly fuss over getting it even. With something to hide the top of it, it tends to looks much better and I am more relaxed during the process. Even so, these days I prefer to pleat rather than gather, but still like a flange as it does away with the need to get the pleats absolutely even and I can just eyeball them instead of measuring and marking. Much faster.

For more sewing tips, visit Pattern Review.

So here is the dress, again with hat. I don’t tend to prance about in a hat at home, but on a tropical holiday it seemed appropriate on the beach promenade or sipping my cocktail watching the sun go down. At least for one week of the year even I can have a life style suited to hats!

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RUMS

A Red Dress For Christmas

Some time ago I came across Kaliyana’s Diamond Dress¬†online and it was love at first sight.


At almost $300, the original was out of the question, but it thought I could probably have a go at running up something similar. These days I very rarely make something because I see and like a pattern, but rather because I see and like a fashion shot of a garment on Pinterest or elsewhere online. THEN I go hunting for a pattern to try and reproduce it. Mostly I find I already have the basic elements in my pattern collection and it is quite rare that I need to buy something new. Notable exceptions in the last couple of years have been a Vogue Marcy Tilton skirt and  the StyleArc Toni dress. The latter seemed like a good starting point for the Diamond dress, with the bonus that I have made it before in several incarnations and know that it works for me.

Close up of front pattern piece:

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However, I always do some modifications, I just can’t help myself. My apologies to the designer, because this time I have made quite a lot.

First of all, much as I love the look of  the Toni cut on cap sleeves, they are problematic with my very square shoulders. The top seam always pulls and puckers and never looks quite right. I think on someone with sloping shoulders, where this is not a problem, they would look great, but sadly not on me. Believe me, I have tried.  Р So sleeveless it had to be.

V-necks have never been much of a favourite with me, even though they are supposed to be flattering. I just prefer a round neck or a cowl, much easier to sew, plus I know how high or low to make them to end up with a satisfactory result. With V-necks I always worry that they will end up too low and I will need to take care when moving about to avoid showing bits of myself no innocent bystander needs to see.

The next question was whether to keep the Toni front seam? I would definitely have done so with a plain fabric like that used for the Diamond dress, but the red batik I had on hand had a faint leaf pattern and I thought I might leave it alone and not interrupt it right in the middle of the dress, so to speak. After that I had a good look at the V shaped yoke and flanges you can see in the close up of the Diamond dress. I don’t dislike the design, but it just seemed an unnecessary complication. I definitely like simple lines and clothes that sew up quickly, without too much fussing about.

So after having eliminated just about everything from the original pattern and inspiration dress, all that was left to do was to join the Toni pattern pieces to a sleeveless bodice pattern I know fits me well, to be left with one front and one back pattern piece cut on the fold.

 

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Perfect! Sew both pieces together at shoulders and sides, and with the addition of bias strips to tidy up the neck and the armscyes the dress was finished in a couple of hours. ¬†— Oh yes, there was a narrow hem too, which I folded twice and topstitched.

If you need more sewing details, have a look at Pattern Review.

So here is the finished dress, minus the black jacket, at least for now. I have one, but not with me as I am on holidays in the tropics at the moment, where jackets are quite unnecessary and so got left at home. To make up for it I am sporting a hat at least twice the size of the one worn by the model in my inspiration picture, — and no shoes!

 

With me-made necklace. This is simply silver plated beads strung on black silk cord, with a knot below each bead to hold it in place. No skills required whatsoever except in purchasing the materials! I knotted the cord at the back, leaving two long ends, with a bead on each. They sometimes dangle at the back and sometimes swing to the front.

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RUMS

Something Fishy

Last time I came to Bali I had a great time buying batiks and ikats. One of my favourites was this fish pattern.


In reality it is the deepest French navy with lighter blue fish, instead of grey on grey,  but you get the idea. I bought 5m of it and so far I have made a tunic, with a long sleeve Jac shirt planned for next autumn. If there is enough fabric left after that I may make cropped pants to match the tunic. Matching sets seem to be making a comeback and no longer look so much like pyjamas.

To make the tunic I used a pattern that I have recently developed using the bodice of the Tessuti Eva dress, one of my all time favourites. As you can see from the photo below, I lay the bodice on the fold, at a slight angle, which in turn causes the armscyes to be at an angle as well. This pushes some of the fullness of the skirt to the middle, distributing it nicely in folds all along the hemline, rather than having all the fullness from the diagonal side seams hang limply at the sides like a bit of tacked on extra.


From the bottom of the armscye I run a diagonal side seam to the selvage, then cut the hem a good 20-30cm below that, making a straight bit at the sides which will become an open vent. The back is cut the same, using the back bodice pattern.

To sew, ¬†I sew up the shoulders, then make a narrow hem all along the side vent and the bottom of the tunic. Lastly I ¬†sew up the diagonal side seam, overlock it and tuck the overlocking tail back into the seam, making a neat finish. The last step is to neaten the armscyes with a self bias strip, and often as not the neckline as well. In this instance I made a narrow stand up collar, cutting a strip of fabric the same length as the neck opening and about 20cm in width. This was sewn to make a round, doubled, sewn to the neck edge, overlocked and then the seam allowance topstitched down toward the bodice, so I won’t flip up and show when the tunic is worn. I then folded this strip over again to make small stand up collar.

There are more detailed explanations of my modus operandi on Pattern Review.

Sadly the batik print does not show up as nice in the photos as in reality, much as I have tried to lighten up what looks like black from head to foot. ¬†Looks great in real life though and one of these days I will figure out how to do these very dark colours justice in photos. ¬†ūüôā

The 16:8 Diet

I’m rather a fan of Michael Moseley’ s health documentaries on the BBC and have tried his 5:2 diet with some success. But then life intervened with a couple of deaths in the family, not untimely ones, but we were still grieving and the aftermath of dealing with the personal effects was very stressful too.

I kept putting on weight, feeling helpless, nearing a BMI of 30. Yikes, that’s obese! I could not imagine succeeding at a traditional low calorie diet, necessary over many months to get enough weight off, and even the 5:2 diet seemed to offer only measly rewards for the effort involved. It had been easy in the beginning, but after a while sticking to the 500 calories on fast days was quite hard and I wanted to overeat on the days in between. A loss of 1kg a month was not enough of an incentive to make this type of dieting attractive for the time span necessary to lose 10+ kg.

That was when I came across the 16:8 diet, again via Michael Moseley and reinforced by other sources I respect. In the end my doctor brother told me I had to lose weight and why not try it? I came up with a lot of reasons why I couldn’t possibly fast for 16 hours a day, but the idea marinated in my brain until, several months later, I decided to give it a go.

There are much better explanations elsewhere of how this diet is supposed to work, but very simply put the idea is that you give your body a daily break from food. A lot of sugar in your blood is bad for all your organs, so eating for a restricted period each day limits exposure. Regarding weight loss, after twelve hours of fasting the energy stores in your liver are exhausted and your body is supposed to use your fat reserves to keep going.

The 16:8 diet isn’t supposed to restrict or count calories, and this might work, but it didn’t work that way for me. Practically as soon as I started it, it became so easy to eat much less that I did so simply because I could. I also had not intended to cut out sugar, thinking it was too much change all at once, but this too proved so easy that I would have been silly not to. ¬†The first few weeks were like a miracle, my body seemed to be embracing this. I cut down to 1100 calories of totally healthy food a day, with absolutely no cravings. That was the key: no cravings. I couldn’t believe it. I did feel hungry at times, but it was just a feeling I noted, it didn’t make me want to go and eat. The kgs melted away at one per week, an absolute record for me. I was on a constant high of feeling so incredibly virtuous!

Of course it did get more difficult down the track, but the initial phase of that very easy weight loss lasted for 7kg, a hell of a good start and very encouraging to continue. I had kicked the diet off in early January, but by Easter I had hit a bit of a plateau. A friend gave me some good advice to just ease off and eat normally for a while. I did so over that long weekend and it worked like a charm. By the time I was going on holiday at the end of April I had lost nearly 10 kg and decided to put the diet on hold and enjoy myself. By that time though my stomach had shrunk and I had realised how much I used to overeat, so it came quite naturally to eat sensibly. While I didn’t lose any weight in the 2 weeks I was away I didn’t gain anything either. Win/win I would say.

It is now mid July and I have lost almost 14kg. I had planned for 10, but as I went along I became more ambitious. I am still losing because I can and am planning to continue until my next holiday at the end of September. I have slowed down a lot, I would eat around 1400 calories on a weekday and probably close to 1650 on the weekend, which is my daily requirement. Weight loss is around 1/2 kg per week, sometimes less. My scales are old, but as long as the trend is downwards I’m not too fussed about the actual amount. I have definitely lost many cm from bust, waist, tummy, hips and thighs. My clothes look much better and I feel fitter.

A disappointment is that some of my food weaknesses have reappeared. I just love cake and other baked goods, and I am allowing myself one sweet treat on the weekend. I am trying to make this myself to have some control over what goes into it and cut down drastically on any sugar in the recipe. Butter is fine!

On the upside I can look at sweets and chocolate all day without feeling tempted. I used to be such a chocolate and sugar addict, but it’s a bit like alcohol: if you have it you want more. I am still having a glass of wine several times a week with dinner, but I am wondering if I really want to continue that.

I thought I would share this with you in case you find it useful, but dieting is such an individual thing. The 16:8 diet works for me because it seems to suit my body, but it probably won’t suit everyone. Still, as my brother said, it’s worth a try.