Sunday 19 November 2017

Vintage maxi skirt in Balinese rayon batik

Hey guys! I have an exciting project to share with you today. Hubby and I came back from the beautiful island of Fuerteventura earlier this week, where we enjoyed a much needed relaxing break. 

Although my holiday wardrobe is already full of handmade outfits (what can I say? I have a soft spot for holidays and holiday sewing), I couldn't resist but squeezing in a little project before we set off.  
Vintage Butterick 5884 maxi skirt batik
And it was a maxi skirt! Remember my first ever maxi skirt, ever? This is a prime example of how sewing has changed my life. Until 3 years or so ago, I had never owned a maxi skirt, because I thought that us petite ladies couldn't pull off the maxi look. This was not helped by the fact that most of the maxi skirts that I dared to try on in shops were dragging on the floor, unless I put on heels that I was not able to walk in. Yet here I am, feeling great in a flowy maxi that I made ;) 
Vintage Butterick 5884 maxi skirt batik

Yep, I was feeling proud ;)

The fabric is an amazingly soft piece of rayon batik, from my Bali trip last year. I loved the bright colours, and the different layers of dye, and knew instantly that I wanted to turn it into a maxi skirt. 
Vintage Butterick 5884 maxi skirt batik

If this skirt looks familar, it is because I used the same pattern as the one for the first maxi, Vintage Butterick 5884. I did make a few changes though, following all the great advice received to my bumpy side zipper problem:

  • I cut it on the grain, rather than on the bias. The fabric is really soft and drapey, so I didn't want it stretching out of shape;
  • As a result, I cut the front piece on the fold, rather than sewing together 2 pieces at the centre front; 
  • Specifically to prevent the zipper issue, I took the belt and braces approach by:

    1. Moving the side zip to the centre back, where there is less of a natural curvature;
    2. Interfacing the seam allowance;
    3. Handpicking the zipper.  

And if I may say so myself, it worked perfectly! 
Vintage Butterick 5884 maxi skirt batik

Here's a close-up of the handpicked centre back zip: 

Vintage Butterick 5884 maxi skirt batik handpicked zipper

On the topic of finishing touches, I also finished the side seams with French seams, and also hand stitched the hem.  
Vintage Butterick 5884 maxi skirt batik hem

P.S. rolling it up really helped minimise the creasing when it was packed in my suitcase. Who wants to be ironing on holiday? 

I'm absolutely in love with this maxi skirt. It's the perfect holiday skirt. 

Let me finish this post by showing you a completely different side of Fuerteventura. It is one of the best places in Europe for stargazing, so I'll leave you with a view of the stunning night sky. 

Sunday 22 October 2017

Simplicity 1366 take two - floral silk top

As alluded in this post a few weeks ago, I was very excited to make another top with Simplicity 1366, due to its easy construction and effortless style. 
Simplicity 1366 top silk floral
Determined to make the second version distinctive from the last, I chose a beautiful piece of floral silk, which had a completely different feel to the polka dot seersucker. The silk was a remnant piece that I picked up on a trip back to Beijing many years ago; it felt great to finally be able to promote it from my vintage suitcase (where I keep my stash, or more accurately, some of my stash) to my wardrobe. 
Simplicity 1366 top silk floral
I just adore the print. It reminds me of a cosy cottage garden at the peak of the summer, where everything is in full bloom. Ahhhh... remember those days? 
Simplicity 1366 top silk floral
I also loved this fabric for its body; it's not at all drapey, and gives great structure to a little boxy cropped top like this. 
Simplicity 1366 top silk floral
The whole project was a dream to complete from beginning to end, thanks to the well-behaved fabric, together with an oh-so-simple pattern. I'll be proudly wearing this in the cooler months, partly to remind me of the summer, and also because the slim sleeves are perfect for going under cardigans. What more could you want from a top? 

Enjoy your week everyone! I'm off to do a bit of pre-holiday sewing next, getting ready for my first ever visit to the Canary Islands in a couple of weeks time ;)  

Sunday 24 September 2017

Giveaway winner

The wait is over -- it's time to reveal the winner to the giveaway

And the winner is.... Donna Louise Flanagan, who made the 10th comment, which was the one randomly selected by my beloved Excel ;) Congratulations, Donna! Please email your postal address to xinyuealice0803(at)gmail(dot)com and I'll get this lovely piece of batik sent over to you. 

Finally, thank you all for entering, and also for your very kind words welcoming back. 

Have a great week all! 

Sunday 17 September 2017

PJ bottoms in Simplicity 1605

Can you believe it? I've been doing a spot of selfless sewing!

Most of you will know that I don't particularly enjoy sewing for anyone else but me. Selfish, I know! The only times that I did engage in selfless sewing were for special occasions. Remember the matching bolero, the favours, and the baby blankets (1, 2, and there was actually one more)? Yep, it either had to be a wedding or birth to get me to sew for someone else.  
Simplicity 1605 flannel pyjama bottoms

There was one exception. I also made a pair of flannel PJ bottoms for my hubby for our 2nd wedding anniversary (the gift was "cotton"), back in summer 2013. They were made with a lovely and soft cotton flannel, based on New Look 6764, and hubby wore them at home all the time, to the extent that some of the seams were slipping (!). TMI, sorry!

However, when we were in Hong Kong & Bali this time last year, hubby left those PJ bottoms in one of the hotels by mistake! He would like me to add that he was feeling rather unwell for a couple of days, and it was in a hazy state that this had happened.
Since then, those PJs were terribly missed by us both. Thankfully, I knew that I had initially bought too much of that fabric, so I desperately hoped that there was enough leftover from making the last pair so that I could knock up another as a surprise. 

Simplicity 1605 flannel pyjama bottoms

As soon as I got my sewing room back, I dug out the flannel from my stash, and started measuring. Luckily, I just about had enough to make another pair, as long as I was not overly fussy with the pattern matching. 

I used a different pattern this time, due to some struggles with the fit with the last version. I chose Simplicity 1605, and cut a small. I have to admit, I much preferred the style with the Simplicity pattern, as it was much more relaxed, and in my view better serves the purpose of PJ bottoms/lounging around. In fact, the legs were so roomy that hubby asked me to take them in by half an inch from the bottom to just below the hips. 
Simplicity 1605 flannel pyjama bottoms
In terms of the construction, these PJ bottoms were really straightforward to put together. The only thing I noted was that the pattern instructions ask for the crotch seams to be sewn before the in seams, whereas I know that I prefer to sew up the leg seams, before doing the inside out leg in other leg trick to sew up the crotch seams. Know what I mean? 
Simplicity 1605 pyjama bottoms

We are both really happy with the finished product, and it was lovely to see the surprise on hubby's face! That was almost enough for me to engage in more selfless sewing... almost! 

How about you? Do you prefer selfish sewing, or find sewing for others more rewarding? 

Sunday 10 September 2017

Boxy top - Simplicity 1366

Thank you for all your lovely messages welcoming me back, and I'm now ready to show you my first make. Don't forget, the giveaway is still open, so don't miss your chance to enter ;)

It's a little cropped boxy top, Simplicity 1366. It's not only fabulous, but incredibly easy to put together. It has no darts, or closures, and the sleeves are sewn flat, rather than set in (setting sleeves is a little pet hate of mine). Need I say more?
Simplicity 1366 boxy top seersucker

The only thing that I did slightly differently in terms of construction was the neckline finish. As usual, I made self fabric bias binding and used that as a facing.  
Simplicity 1366 boxy top seersucker

The fabric is a beautiful piece of vintage seersucker that I picked up from our trip back to Cardiff (where hubby and I first met all those years ago) last summer. It was an absolute dream to work with, and super comfortable to wear.  
Simplicity 1366 boxy top seersucker

There's not much more to say, apart from that I'm already planning on making another one! It's truly a doddle to put together, and the design is so versatile. Watch this space :D 

Have a fab week everyone! 

Sunday 3 September 2017

Back with a giveaway!

Guys, I can't believe it's been almost a whole year since I last wrote on this little blog of mine. Where has the time gone?! What's new with you?

The main reason for my absence has been quite simple. It sounds like a cliche, but I struggled to find the time and space to sew. Let me explain. We've done quite a bit of work on the house since I last posted, and after the last 3.5 years of hard work, it is starting to feel more like ours. It does mean, though, that whenever a room needs refurbishing/renovating/ripping-out and starting over, my lovely girl cave becomes the storage room, or during the most recent project, our bedroom. 

After a few big projects, followed by quite a lot of clearing up, I've finally reclaimed my sewing room, and it is time that I get back to sewing. 

Oh how I have missed sewing, and my little blog, which, coincidentally, has turned 6 this Friday!

I'm partly reassured, however, that upon return, a) I still seem to know my way around my sewing machine(s), and b) whilst vlogs and instagram have transformed blog-sphere, there still appears to be people blogging, and reading blogs. 

Now, what better way to return than with a giveaway? 

In my trip to Bali this time last year, I made a special trip to Denpasar, to visit the batik shops, including the wonderful Dewi Mas, to top up my stash with some more exotic pieces. After buying a couple of fun cotton batiks and a vibrant piece of viscose for myself (projects featuring them are coming soon!), I couldn't not pick up a beautiful cotton piece (2m long, 1.06m wide) for a lucky reader as well ;) 

What do you think?

To enter, simply leave a comment before midnight (BST) Friday 22 September, and the winner will be picked out of a hat. 

A couple of pictures from the shop:

Before I go, I wanted to share my sewing to-do list with you. Remember my sewing blackboard? Most of these are pretty simple yet effective, so should be perfect for easing me back into sewing, before trying out more ambitious projects (like sewing activewear and more undergarments, which I really want to do). What's more? They are stash busting, which is much needed.  
Aaah I must admit, it is great to be back. I can't wait to share my completed projects with you very soon. 
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