No, this is not a post about anything Hindu or New Age, just an end of year reflection on the pattern I have used the most now for the last three years, the Tessuti Mandy.
Knit or woven, long sleeve, no sleeve, cuffed cap sleeves, cowl or no cowl, round neck, boat neck, summer, winter and in between, block printed, stencilled, painted and dyed….. what a chameleon! It just goes to prove that simple is best.
Thank you, Tessuti!
On top of its versatility, this pattern is also very re-purpose friendly, suitable for many different fabrics and no problem if you need to piece to dodge stains or rips, or just fabric constraints.
So here it comes, a great big photo bomb of one pattern in a thousand versions. (Just remember that a pattern meant for a knit needs to be adapted for woven fabrics, in this case all that is required is to make the armscye and sleeve a little wider.)
There are quite a few I have forgotten, and also a few that are so pedestrian that I have not bothered to include them, but you get the idea: this pattern can do anything.
Possibly time now to move on, but where will I find the next pattern this good?
Red and green are the traditional Christmas colours, at least in the English-speaking world. I am not a great fan of red when it comes to clothes, although I did once make a red dress for Christmas.
But generally I like green for that day and it has become somewhat of a go-to option, like last year’s dress, a green silk/cotton semi-sheer voile with a grey block print.
This year it was to be green again. I love the Ikea Nattjasmin sheets for sewing, a mix of 60% cotton and 40% lyocell. They come in some lovely colours and especially the darker colours have a lustre that appeals to me a lot. Very subtle, unlike satin which would look crass for daytime wear. The irony is that this lustre comes out in its full glory only after being ironed, and of course nobody irons sheets. Therefore most of this lovely fabric is destined to spend its life rumpled on a bed looking like a rag, unless rescued by a sewist to make something never intended by Ikea.
The pattern for the top is very simple, the Tessuti Mandy adapted for a woven, which means the armscyes and sleeves have been widened to compensate for the lack of stretch. Long sleeves are usually too hot for Christmas, but it has been so unseasonably cool here this spring that I was hedging my bets. Once I was going to have a reliable weather forecast for the 25th, which happens about 3-5 days beforehand, I was probably going to have to take the sleeves off. Or possibly not, if this weird weather was going to persist against all reason.
The skirt is a variation of my zero waste pleated skirt pattern posted in my previous blog post, where you can find the instructions. Because the fabric is lighter and drapier this time I have made the skirt fuller, 3m circumference instead of 2m, with deeper box pleats and an additional pleat over each side seam, so 8 pleats in all. I have also made a narrow yoke, 10cm wide, so the pleats begin at high hip and there is not so much fabric around the waist. This has allowed me to make an elasticised waist instead of a waistband and zipper, which is much more suitable for a day when I will be scoffing that enormous Christmas lunch!
But then… it warmed up!
Not only that, but I scored an ‘As Is’ Nattjasmin doona cover in navy, so why cut the sleeves off the green outfit, when I can make a short sleeve navy version? I was especially tempted because I have some lovely me-made necklaces that would go very nicely with blue. Plus the photos made me think that maybe I should make the top a little narrower. The width is not so much a problem with a long sleeve top that will probably be worn with jackets most of the time, but a summer version worn on its own… a bit of a modification would be a good idea.
So here we are, blue for Christmas instead of green. No printing this time, Christmas is so crazy at work that creativity is hard to come by. Plain works better for a statement necklace in any case.
Now the question is, which necklace? Onyx?
Or maybe better pearls?
First world problem, >blush<.
Merry Christmas! Have a great time with your loved ones, that is the only thing that matters.
Yes, it is possible to make a pleated skirt out of 1m of fabric. Great for remnants or if you are hankering for something $$$ per metre. That is if you don’t object to cutting on the cross grain. I do this frequently for a number of reasons and have not experienced any issues. Fabric that is a heavier weight with a firm hand, such as home dec cotton, is quite suitable, which is fortuitous as this often comes in great prints which are ideal for a statement skirt. Of course the print has to work cut sideways if you want to stick to using only 1m.
If you like your skirts a little longer, like me, you need a fabric that is 150 cm wide, for a shorter skirt 110-120 is enough.
There is no need for a pattern.
Fold your fabric in half along the mid fold line, with the selvages meeting. Position this on your cutting surface so the selvages are closest to you and the fold furthest away. This is your skirt in the raw.
Cut off a strip all along the fold line at the top. This will be double thickness and will become your waist band. I make mine 3.5cm wide, for a 3cm finished waist band (remember this strip is double thickness).
Putting the waist band aside for now, you are left with two rectangles, 1m wide and roughly 72.5 cm long ( if using 150cm wide fabric, or shorter if not).
Time to put in the pleats. Measure your waist. Mine is 80cm, that means I need each fabric rectangle to shrink from 100cm wide at the waist to 40cm wide, by means of three box pleats. 3cm will be used for a 1.5 cm seam allowance on each side, leaving 57 cm for the pleats, or roughly 15.5cm for each pleat. If you want more pleats than three, you need to divide the 57cm by the number of pleats, and if your fabric is a little more or less than 1m wide, you need to adjust the pleats accordingly.
On each fabric rectangle, put in one box pleat at the centre and one to each side of this, spaced out to your liking. You can make a plain or reverse box pleat, whichever you like better. I sew my box pleats down about 3cm from the top edge of the fabric, to stop things moving and ending up askew when I attach the waistband. If this happens your pleats will fall slightly wonky, which is not something you want. Once the waistband is in place I carefully unpick these stitches. My skirts sit better that way, but your body will be different, so you may not need to do this step.
Sew up the side seams, inserting a zipper into the left side. Attach your waistband. I interface very little these days, really only collars and collar stands. Not interfacing waistbands does not seem to cause me any problems, but YMMV.
You will need to make the waistband overlap for the button and buttonhole. I make that overlap fairly generous, as my machine only does fabulous buttonholes as long as it is not near a bulky seam. You will be left with about 10-15cm of the strip you cut for the waist band as you will not need the full 100cm width. You can use this to make loops to hang your skirt on a clothes hanger. I have read that hobby sewists waste up to 30% of their fabric. This must be an improvement!
Cut your buttonhole open and sew on a button.
If your selvages look nice there is no need to hem. Otherwise fold them up once to the inside and topstitch.
Voila, here is the skirt ready to wear. Mine took about 2 hours to make, but then this way of making a skirt is routine to me. It may take a little longer the first time you make one.
I wear my skirt with a fairly straight cut t-shirt that ideally should come to high hip length.
Or with a tee that is cut a little more body-con. If you have a waist, flaunt it. ( I like to, to make up for my big bum, thunder thighs and industrial strength knees. You can hide a lot under a skirt!)
Stencilled with black Permaset screen printing ink on cotton
My last wavy shirt was painted freehand and it was quite laborious to get nice clean edges on the rough-ish surface of medium weight linen. I thought stencilling the edges would be much easier and so here we are with another wave top to put my theory into practice.
I cut the waves out of overhead projector transparencies, joining with sticky tape where necessary to get them long enough to cover the whole front or back garment piece from edge to edge. The OPT bought from office supplies are cheaper than acetate wet mixed medium stencils from art material shops. Using a stencil gives you a nice clean edge without too much trouble.
You need thickened dye to get a sharp edge, then fill in the middle with thinner dye in different blues to get nice colour graduations. I brush on additional soda ash solution to aid colour blending, taking care to stay away from the edges so the dye won’t bleed into the un-dyed areas covered by the stencil.
I used a new pattern for this project, the Tessuti Athina top. This is another free pattern and I feel a bit embarrassed to rely so heavily on freebies in my sewing, when I really should be supporting pattern makers by paying for my patterns. Unfortunately it is the simplicity of these free patterns that makes them so attractive to me, they are just the right canvas for my art work.
I saved fabric by putting a CB seam in, which allowed me to cut the back almost opposite the front, upside down, out of one width of fabric. You need 150cm wide though. To make it easy to have the painting match up seamlessly at CB I sewed up that seam beforehand.
And here is the finished top, worn with my Marcy Tilton pants. I took these photos in the morning after getting dressed, and the Australian bengaline used for the pants is still showing the creases where they were folded up in my wardrobe, but they will drop out very quickly. This is quite a relaxed and comfy look, reminiscent of my Lagenlook days. Because I treated the linen with soda ash it is lovely and soft, and even more comfy to wear. Doesn’t crease much either.
Sewing instructions for the Athina top are on PatternReview, not that there is much to say, as it is a very quick and easy sew.
Fabric was medium weight, 100% linen from an Ikea curtain.
Soaked the linen in soda ash solution (1/2 to 1 cup per 4L water), hung up to dry leaving the soda ash in the fabric. I left if for 2 weeks, which makes the linen beautifully soft and drapey.
Painted with Drimarene K (you could use Procion MX if easier obtainable) thickened with sodium alginate gel. Mix 1-2 teaspoons of sodium alginate powder per 250ml of water in a blender. Leave overnight for bubbles to subside.
Pour enough gel for painting job into a bowl, add Drimarene K powder and mix. Brush onto the fabric.
I used mid blue and black with navy base, which is in fact a dark blue.
Blend the two blue tones with more soda ash mix, taking care not to go near the painted wave edges so there is no bleeding into undyed areas.
Cover to keep dye wet and leave overnight to cure, then wash out and sew up.