I recently joined the testing group for Threads By Caroline. The first pattern I tested was the simple (and free in their Facebook group!!) Vera Skirt Pattern. It has what all little girls need; pockets!!
At the end of January Caroline put out a call for testers for her latest pattern, the Elsa and Elliot Coat. No.1 was delighted to hear he would be getting a new coat but his first question was “Does it have a secret pocket?”
Hmmm… the pattern comes with great little external patch pockets, but no internal secret pocket. He has been looking for a secret zipped pocket for as long as I’ve been sewing clothes for him. I thought to myself, sure I could add a patch pocket and it shouldn’t impact on the pattern test significantly.
So I asked him “How about a pocket that could hold a few Pokémon cards?” “How did you read my mind Mammy?!” was his delighted response. With that promise made I figured I had better clear it with Caroline that I hack a pocket to the test garment…
So here we are. Caroline suggested that I could document my “secret pocket” hack and write a post for Threads by Caroline’s blog on how to do it! You can read it here and also check out Caroline’s blog here.
The Elsa & Elliot Coat that I made is size 128 (size 7-8) and therefore the pocket is sized to sit neatly into this pattern size. I’ll explain below how I decided on the size of my pocket and zip and you can use the same approach to decide on the appropriate size for yours.
Firstly a note on my fabric selection. The outer skin of this Elsa & Elliot is Fern Green Trench Dry Oilskin from Merchant and Mills. A water resistant fabric that is a tight woven canvas-like cotton fabric impregnated with wax that prevents water penetrating it. I had intended lining it with a grey teddy fleece but when I was in my local fabric shop, The Fabric Counter, I spotted this yellow fleece in a gorgeous happy shade that I knew would work great with the green oilskin.
Let’s get started!
Step 1 – Decide the zip/pocket size and location. I positioned the zip on the right hand side of the jacket as my eldest son is left handed and so works well for him to reach in for his hidden cards. You might like to consider placing your pocket on the opposite side.
I orientated the zip running vertically with the top sitting a few cm below the curved part of the front lining. I suggest you cut out the relevant main coat lining piece (front left or front right) and play around with a few zip locations/orientations. You’ll see in Step 3 below that I positioned the final location of the zip opening about 3 cm from the edge of the lining piece. This allowed for the 1cm seam allowance where the lining will be sewn to the facing, with finished distance of about 2cm from this seam to the pocket opening.
I used a YKK 15cm pocket zip and left the fabric extend about 2cm wider around three sides of the full length of the zip. I checked the critical dimension; that a Pokémon card would fit neatly into the pocket, while making sure the pocket wasn’t going to be too big. Overall the fabric for the pocket lining was approximately 22cm wide x 29cm long. The pocket bag will be created by folding the pocket lining fabric in half and sewing around the three edges. You can see from the picture above that the fold line (that crease under the Pokémon card) is about 3cm from the edge of the coat lining allowing plenty of room for it not to get caught up anywhere during the main coat construction.
Step 2 – Draw out a rectangle, 1.5cm wide and the desired length of your pocket opening onto your pocket lining. (My zip was marginally too long, but this can be cut down shorter without a problem.) I positioned the rectangle approximately 3cm from the edge of my pocket lining fabric and cut the fabric to be about 3cm wider, on both sides, from each end of the pocket.
Step 3 – Pin your pocket lining to the right side of your lining.
Step 4 – Stitch around the rectangle, pivoting at the corners. I used a small stitch length, just under 2mm.
Step 4 – Cut down the centre of the pocket hole, through both layers, then clipping into the corners very closely to but not cutting through the stitching.
Step 6 – Pull the pocket lining through the hole you have just made to the wrong side of the lining. If your fabric will take pressing, (my fleece wouldn’t really iron, but I did give it a gentle press from the cotton pocket lining side) give it a good press to flatten the corners and fix the shape.
Step 7 – Position your zip behind the pocket hole. Make sure to centre it within the narrow width of the pocket hole and line up the end of the zip with the end of the pocket hole. Pin it in place carefully. You could use sewing tape to fix it in place, but I didn’t have any!
Step 8 – Using your choice of thread top stitch around the pocket opening rectangle as close as you can to the edge. I used thread colour closely matching my coat lining. If you are brave you could use a contracting colour, perhaps matching the main shell fabric of your coat, or matching the pocket lining fabric.
(Note: My zip had plastic teeth so I just carefully sewed across it, hand turning the needle where I knew it might go through the zip. If you use a metal toothed zip you will have to make sure that it is the correct length, shorter than the pocket mouth, and that you do not sew over it.)
That’s the difficult bit complete!
Step 9 – Fold the pocket lining up to create the pocket bag. Pin around the 3 open sides.
Step 10 – Stitch around these three sides with a 1cm/1.5cm seam allowance. Remember I had left a 3cm gap between the zip stitching and the edge of the pocket lining. That gives plenty of room to manoeuvre at this stage. Make sure not to catch the main coat lining while you sew.
Step 11 – You can finish these seams if you like, but they will be enclosed within the coat lining. I decided just to trim them down using my pinking shears to help prevent too much fraying. (In the end, after this photo was taken, I trimmed back the seam allowance running parallel with the main coat lining back another 3 or 4 mm to make sure it didn’t get in the way when constructing the coat.)
Finished!! You are now ready to get cracking with constructing your Elsa & Elliot Coat!!! Enjoy!!
I would love to hear your feedback on the tutorial – I’m VERY new to this and have so much to learn, about sewing, and also about how to describe a process clearly. I do hope you found it useful!
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I’ve admired Sansahash‘s cool patterns for a while now and when they put a call for new pattern testers to join their testing team I jumped in with an application. I was delighted to be invited to join the team! The first chance to test a pattern was for their Niva Leggings. This lovely simple pattern was the perfect opportunity to settle into some New Year pattern testing.
This is Sansahash’s first free pattern and you can get it via their blog here, or by heading over to the pinned post in the Sansahash Sh-ew & Tell Group on Facebook!!
No.3 has grown out of many of last summer/autumn’s sewing so I was delighted to make a few new pairs of leggings for her. The pattern is designed to be sewn with stretch faux leather, and this certainly creates a superb look, and also works perfectly with knit fabric with 25-50% stretch. I had a look around local fabric shops but couldn’t find any appropriate faux leather so instead raided my stash of jersey fabric.
Mgeni (the boss over at Sansahash!) paid very close attention to the accurate blending of pattern sizes by the testers. This approach ensures accurate testing and feedback on sizes, hopefully ensuring a really well working pattern! She was also able to advise on the adjustments needed to the full-rise to accommodate a nappy. For a simple pattern great care has been taken to achieve a really good fit.
It proved a little tricky to achieve a good fit to the calf area of the leggings for every tester, as children can have very varied leg proportions. One of the testers suggested the inclusion in the tutorial of a table with calf measurements. This great was a great suggestion ensuring really good fitting leggings can be achieved for all shapes!!
The leggings of course need pairing with a top half and I chose to make two final sets, both made up of the Niva Leggings paired with Sansahash’s Lilah Top. I added a bit of length to the back of the skirt part of the Lilah Top, giving a lovely high low look; maintaining the higher front, thus still showing off the Niva Leggings, while affording a little more growning room!!
A while back, during their sale I “invested” in a big (for me) order of fabric from Elvelyckan Design. For my first Niva/Lilah combo I used their “Leopard – Ginger (024)” printed jersey for the Lilah top paired with their vertical striped jersey. It was my first time sewing the Lilah pattern and it came together beautifully. I had never used the “burrito” method to sew lining into a garment before. The instructions were very clear and I was delighted with the result.
A beautiful sunny winter’s morning made for some lovely photos of No.3 in her gorgeous new outfit. Here’s hoping spring arrives soon so she can get some great wear out of it!
Check out some of my fellow testers’ amazing makes!!
One of the things I love about pattern testing is getting to “meet” lots of like minded makers and getting inspiration from all the different approaches to the same pattern! Check out some of the stunning work below with links to their own blogs/insta accounts!! (Links under images running left to right.)
If you scroll down to the end you’ll find some more fellow testers’ Nivas. But now it’s time for a little wannabe astronaut…
“One small step for Niva…”
One the first lovely jersey fabrics I bought, about a year and a half ago was some space patterned jersey from Madeline de Stoffenmadam and I still had a little left in my stash. Just enough to make another pair of Nivas.
I appliqued a little spaceman from this fabric onto the front of her Lilah, and an little rocket onto the back lining. The white sweater fabric came from Quilt Yarn Stitch and I used grey interlock from Elvelyckan Design for the skirt and the lining. All so lovely and soft!! Perfect for wearing with her favourite dressing up item – her brother’s astronaut helmet.
I really enjoyed testing the Niva pattern; a gentle warm up to this year’s sewing!! Huge thanks to Mgeni for the opportunity!! I’m looking forward to the next chance to test for her and looking forward to another great sewing year!
The pattern is released today, 4th February 2019, and tomorrow I will be hosting a giveaway of a free copy of the Lilah pattern on my Instagram page!!
Now relax and browse through some more of the wonderful variety of Sansahash outfits made using the Niva Leggings made by my fellow testers.
A few people have expressed an interest in how I recently went about creating three animal themed appliqués. So here is a little insight into my very limited appliqué experience to give a bit of context, finishing with some of the steps I took to make my favourite piece to date; that Rhino sweater.
(I am pretty inexperienced in appliqué work and am certainly still learning as I go. Would love to hear any tips you have to share to! I love to learn!)
How I started.
Up until recently my efforts at appliqué have been intermittent and very modest. A polar bear made an appearance on a cosy sweater. A snail and a ladybird became best friends, a space alien landed and a lion roared. I’ve added little fish to quite a few makes; from tops to toys; jumping out of water to hiding behind a penguin or an octopus. I’ve adorned necklines with a sun and then a flower.
Bondaweb is your friend.
In the springtime of last year I discovered the wonders of Bondaweb – essentially a fine layer of iron on glue that fuses two layers of fabric together. I was introduced to it by Deirdre Osborne, if you haven’t already discovered her stunning work go and check her out here on Instagram. She’s an amazing creator of delightful children’s clothes with the coolest appliqués full of inventive humour. I love seeing all her posts when they pop up on Facebook and Instagram. As well as the inspiring designs she comes up with, and beautiful combinations of fabrics, colours and patterns, she was also very generous in giving some tips when I enquired about her creations/methods sometime last year. (I can’t remember exactly when and the interaction is now lost in the world of a zillion Facebook posts.)
She suggested the use of Bondaweb (Deirdre may have suggested a different brand, but this is what I can get easily here in Dublin). It’s an appliqué game changer! It makes the sewing them so straightforward!
I have found that it has more than a few benefits:
1) It sticks the layers of fabric together so they can’t slip about when sewing. This includes holding the cut edges in place allowing you to sew closely to the edge with confidence;
2) It stabilises the fabric quite a bit, eliminating some of the stretch. This might not always be a positive but it certainly helps you to sew them with a normal straight stitch on your sewing machine. I’ve not yet had to worry about the stitches ripping. This does mean you’ve lost some of the stretch of your main fabric, but there is still plenty of give in it. I haven’t yet had a problem;
3) It makes it easier to cut your appliqué pieces out with accuracy. Because the fabric has been stabilised it can now be cut much more easily and correctly – without pulling it out of shape as you cut.
Deirdre also suggested the use of cotton interlock fabric as a good medium for appliqué. It is a lovely soft, flat fabric that, most importantly doesn’t fray. Nor does it curl up much at the edges, even after plenty of washes. I’ve yet to find a local (or even Europe based) supplier of a wide range of cotton interlock but Elvelyckan Design has a small, but beautiful selection of interlock shades, and this is what I have used where the colours work for me. In the absence of the right shades have used French terry, which has worked just fine too. Of course you can use whatever fabric you like; different fabrics bring their own texture and life!
If you really want to read a clear tutorial on applique from someone who knows her stuff go read Deirdre’s post on her blog here. It is so very clear, not like this muddling exploration!!
A Snail, a Ladybird and a Lion.
Last summer a spot of pattern testing for Misusu Patterns had me sewing pockets onto Piper Tank Tops which forced me to practice some topstitching. This in turn gave me the confidence to make a very special appliqué patch…
Based on a gorgeous drawing of a ladybird holding hands with a snail drawn by No.1’s first ever school friend, I made a special Piper Tank top for that same friend (modelled here by No.1 before we handed it over to his charmed buddy).
This was the trickiest appliqué I had attempted with lots of little pieces. Without a doubt the use of bondaweb made it feasible.
Most of the appliqués I have done have been based on my own drawings. The exceptions being the lovely hand-holding pair above and this miniature feisty lion below.
A few years ago I purchased Soledad Bravi’s “the noisy book” for No.2 and it is loved in this house. All three children have thoroughy enjoyed it and I really love how the phonetically spelled sounds really make sense/sound right as you read them aloud.
Inspired by the illustrations I was delighted to make this little gift for a friend of mine who was then pregnant with a baby boy. But you know what? Small fiddly appliqués are tricky!
A Whale of a Time!!
So, a few weeks ago the real appliqué fun started for me!! I’d had this idea floating around in my head for months… About six months ago I reckon, while doing some drawing with the children I was asked to draw a whale. This is what appeared and to my surprise it was a pretty good looking humpback whale! The tale fluke wasn’t quite right but I stuck it on the fridge thinking that it could make a cool appliqué.
A couple of weeks ago Fiona Murphy (a super sewist I who’s makes I look forward to spying on Facebook and Instagram; see her gorgeous stuff here!!) posted a really cute little appliqué of a dog on a sweater that sparked my imagination again! Being part of a sewing community really is a wonderful side of Facebook – there are some super sewing groups out there. I love the inspiration, encouragement and comradery found within!
I found the whale sketch under a pile of other drawings hanging off the fridge, googled “humpback whales” and worked on getting the shape a bit more life like. I don’t feel under pressure for it to be perfect, but there is something satisfying about getting the overall form feeling right. I also knew I wanted the tail sticking up out of the water, so needed to move things around a little.
Part of the plan in my head for this was to crack out my Bobbinhood screen-printing kit and print a silver/golden moon and stars in the sky. (I bought it for myself from my husband for my birthday back in August and have yet to use it!) In the end I decided that the pink and grey contrasted so well against each other that I didn’t need the gold/silver paint. An idea I will save for another project!
I kept the pink theme running through and cut out a few little inquisitive fish to have a chat with the whale. I like how the little fish give scale to the enormous whale, echo the reflection of the setting sun, and help balance the overall design.
My favourite part of this project are the little lines of stitching that give an impression of the textured lower jaw of the humpback. And that little eye that I imagine is looking back at those little fish.
I was concerned that No.1 would react against the pink colour in the t-shirt, but he didn’t comment on it at all – just said “Oh Wow! Not bad! Mama you invented something – a jumper with no sleeves!” Ha ha ha!!
Narwhal for No.2
My middle man is an animal lover, and is particularly fond of “swimmers”, so he immediately requested a top of his own. We decided on a narwhal and I got to work.
What I like about drawing of any kind is that it makes you really look closely at what you are drawing and notice those defining features/shapes/colours/textures/details. Narwhals have a pretty simple form. They have that defining tusk and a particular shaped tail fin. They can be quite mottled in colour so I added some little pieces of fabric to try and represent this.
With the whale top I colour blocked it simply with just a dividing seam across the chest. This time round I got a little more adventurous and added some curved colour blocking to try and represent the rolling seas. This took quite a while for me to figure out as I had never done it before – but it worked! Success!
A narwhal would seem more than a little lost without some ice, so this fellow is looking out across the sea to some distant icebergs. And here are the little nosy fish again!
Appliqué in Action! Rhino Style!
My littlest wanted in on the fun and she loves visiting the rhinos in Dublin Zoo; next appliqué decided!! This time round I took some photos of the process. I couldn’t possibly call it a tutorial, but it might be interesting to some!
For the Rhino I used google to find some pictures to sketch from. Those days I spent copying pictures of dolphins and butterflies from Encyclopaedia Britannica are paying off! I traced over the sketches a good few times to get the shape right and then to even out the lines.
Once I was happy with the main rhino image I cut out the sweater pattern. I used the Misusu Patterns’ Jolie Sweater pattern again. I loved the shape of it on my skinny mister No.2 and couldn’t wait to make one for my littlest, lengthening it a little to give it a bit more coverage for winter wear.
I used the size and shape of the front main panel to figure out and get the scale of the appliqué correct. I lay the early sketches over it to check the scale. When I had the sweater fabric cut out I checked it again, remembering to allow for the seam allowances.
When I had the size and position of the rhino right I did one final trace so that I could safely cut out the shape and not lose the original for reuse.
I cut off the pieces that would be separate; the two horns and the back ear, leaving an extra couple of mm on the main panel at the horns which would sit over it. When I cut out the fabric horns I added the couple of mm back in at the bottom so that they were the correct length and would overlap with the main piece. For the ear piece it was the opposite as it sits under the main panel. I cut along the drawing line then added the extra onto the ear for overlapping.
It would be easier to just trace the individual pieces separately adding the overlap extra where needed. Noted for next time!!
I ironed all the rhino parts onto the sweater front (above) and then copied the lines onto the rhino (below) using water soluble marker. I just eyeballed where the lines should go, but there is probably a way to use transfer papers of some kind to get them in the right place.
My sewing machine came with this foot on it and I use it almost all the time. I really like that it has a clear plastic part in the middle which allows me to see where I am stitching.
When I stitch along the edge of the applique parts I keep the edge of the fabric in the middle of the clear part to the right of the needle and this gives me a nice even 1.5/2mm spacing to the edge.
Bit by bit I follow the blue lines around. For the sake of neatness I don’t backstitch at the start or finish of each line. Instead I leave enough thread on at each end so that I could sew the ends through to the back of the fabric and then sew them into the back neatly to secure the threads. It is a bit time consuming though, I wonder if there is a faster way to do it while keeping it neat?
You can see here in the ear I went off course a bit. Perfection is far from important. As long as the stitches don’t wander way, way off I’m happy leave it just how it turns out.
I got distracted from taking photos as I worked at this point. Too caught up making some final decisions/changes of mind…
Next I ironed on the three dark grey pieces of interlock for the nose, eye and ear, and stitched them.
I had cut out the little bird a little too big so had to trim it down and then when I went to place it on the rhino’s front horn it didn’t look right. No. 1 suggested it should go on the rhino’s back, and he was absolutely right! I probably should have positioned it a little closer to centre though.
I had intended using the orange fabric for the bottom waistband and light grey ribbing for the neck band, but when I had the rhino finished he was a little lost looking. So I used the same yellow French terry that I used for the Oxpecker bird to make some grass for the rhino to stand on. This then led to another change of plan; to use matching yellow ribbing for the bottom waist band and the neckband.
I think the grass is very effective, the colours all tying together beautifully, and I’m delighted with the overall result!
Wow, that was a long post. I need an editor!! Well done if you read all the way to the end and thank you for your interest!! I’d love to hear your thoughts so please feel free to leave a comment! And please pass on any tips of your own!!
I’m still very new to this sewing lark, and especially appliqué, but I am really enjoying adding another layer of texture and colour to the clothes I make. I wonder what animal to add next?
When Misusu Patterns called for testers for the DIA patterns a very special project immediately came to mind. I had never before sewn something for Marlie, my mum, nor did I have any photos of me, my daughter and my mother together. As it worked out I couldn’t test the ladies version, a trip to Romania got in the way (oh poor me!), but got my hands on the pattern as soon as it was ready, thank you Elles! Once the kids testing was done I got cracking on a sweater for myself and my mum.
A DIA for me!
I had fallen in love with the little pink DIA I had made for No.3 as part of the Kids testing and luckily had just enough left to make one for myself. (I gently encouraged my mum to select other fabric from my stash for her sweater. Sneaky of me I know…)
A DIA for Marlie!
Marlie chose another fabric I had bought on that one splurge made on Guthrie and Ghani‘s website; a heathered pink quilted sweater fabric. I decided to mix it with some of the lovely soft white sweater fabric from Quilt Yarn Stitch, (I had restocked my stash with more of this fabric when I visited their super stand and this year’s Knitting and Stitching Show). The use of the white sweater fabric really lifts the overall result and the second colour allows for a bit of play with the asymmetrical colour blocking potential of the DIA pattern.
I didn’t quite get the pieced diamond as perfect in Marlie’s sweater as I would have liked. I’ve found that you get the best results in the DIA when all the fabrics you use in one garment have an equal weight but more importantly an equal stretch. In this case the quilted fabric was a good bit more stretchy than the white sweater fabric, so it is a little tricky to keep all the seams lining up perfectly evenly. The overall effect is pretty successful so I’m happy enough, and more importantly Marlie seemed thrilled with it.
It was a bit of a challenge to photograph the three of us in our DIAs. I got a few of Marlie and Julianne playing with some recently acquired wooden toys (Pojga toys from that trip to Romania and some Ostheimer Toys from Nimble Fingers). That wasn’t too hard, she’s mad about her granny and sure who doesn’t love a few new timber toys.
It was then time to get the kitchen counter and timer button on the dSLR set up! Usually it is a case of hoping the day will be bright enough to get good clear photos, but as our kitchen window faces south east on clear days the low winter sun can play havoc when trying to take pictures. I figured out a solution! A few meters of light weight muslin was just enough to take the harshness out of the direct sunlight and actually provided lovely, gentle variation and highlights to the light. It took a while, and poor Julianne had enough of the pair of us by the end!
Thanks Marlie (and Misusu)!
This sewing experience has been an extra special one. Firstly, the Misusu Patterns DIA is one hell of a pattern. I’m a big fan of a high-low cut, the slightly cocoon shape and the construction of the pieced waistband finishes this sweater pattern perfectly.
But more importantly, I’m so grateful for the opportunity it has afforded to make something unique for my mum, daughter and myself and for the chance to photograph together these two most special ladies in my life. Marlie is an incredible woman, an inspirational mother, full of energy, resilience, generosity and joy. She is a wonderful grandmother to her 13 grandchildren, including my littlest here, the youngest of them. I’m looking forward to doing lots more sewing for both of them.
Misusu Patterns have just released their updated DIA Kids Sweater and Tunic pattern. The size range has expanded and an amazing number of options added (I personally love the high-low hem option that has been introduced). And what’s more; Misusu has now released a DIA Ladies version!! It is their first ladies’ pattern and what a super pattern to start with!!!
This post here is all about the DIAs for my pair of divils – more on the ladies to follow!!
I was delighted to get the chance to test the new children’s version. I must, here at the outset, admit to previously having been daunted by the pattern; it looks a bit tricky. When you’re trying to squeeze sewing in around the busy routines of life sometimes a pattern that requires a little effort can feel like a step too far. But this is why I love pattern testing. You’ve got to make that extra effort. Any by goodness this DIA pattern is worth every bit.
If, however, you’re still daunted Misusu have added both a basic front, a simple diamond piece and a constructed diamond piece. So you can decide to jump in with the full constructed diamond option, or take it easy and sew some lovely simple sweaters with some great hem and seam shapes. Pattern perfection for sure!!!
Misusu’s patterns are incredibly well conceived and constructed. The tutorials are detailed and comprehensive and when you follow the instructions the pattern just falls into place. Yes without doubt the constructed diamond requires careful attention to keeping your seam allowances even, but other than that there are no difficult techniques at all. Just a little patience. Which, when it comes to sewing, it turns out I am developing!!
For my first test version I decided to jump in with the constructed diamond and puff sleeves on the high low sweater version. I used quite stable sweater fabric, a combination of a purple/aubergine sweater from Metermeter and a floral liberty sweater fabric from Guthrie & Ghani. The little puff sleeves are very cute, though I reckon would be more effective in a slightly lighter fabric. A pretty perfect fit from the outset and my little diva was delighted with her DIA!
We love CANDY!!
Next up I decided to go or the tunic length version, high low again, and this time used a combination of three contrasting French terry fabrics. The yellow and rust colours from See You At Six and the pink from Elvelyckan Design.
I love this bright candy coloured combination!! The tunic length is just great for those chillier days when an extra bit of cosiness is needed. Pretty damn stylish too!!
The last test version I made is perhaps the most perfect little sweater I have ever made; a high low sweater in a soft, light but stable double sided French terry fabric from Guthrie & Ghani.
The front of the fabric is a soft flat sweater finish while the “reverse” of the fabric is a pink looped finish. The stability of the fabric really helped achieve those perfect diamond points. I found it makes it so much easier to keep the seam allowances even and the seams lining up when there is not too much stretch in the fabric.
The high-low hem created by Misusu, isn’t just a simple hem on a slightly longer back, but a carefully detailed pieced waistband that results in an shape that works beautifully with the diamond theme. Subtly angled side seams meet those waistband seams delightfully. It is so satisfying when it all comes together at the end!!
Neon Diamond Maddness!!
I had finished my testing makes but No.2 was feeling a little neglected in the sewing stakes so I decided to make him a DIA. From his measurements I should have graded the pattern to make it narrower, as he’s a skinny tall chap. But with my pattern tester hat no longer on I was back in lazy mode and just went with his height measurement. So plenty of room for layers under this snuggly neon fleece DIA!!
I went with the straight waistband option for this one and used some neon polar fleece from Fabrics Ireland combined with French terry from Elvelyckan and See You At Six! You might need sunglasses for this!!! The grey ribbing was a little too heavy for the main fabric along the waistband, especially at the back, so ended up swapping it out for some lighter weight See You At Six ribbing.
A pair of DIAmond DIVILS
No.2 is madly in love with his sister. She tolerates him most of the time, but deep down loves him too. They have the craic together, that’s for sure.
As always there was a great atmosphere within the DIA Kids testing group and the quality and inventiveness of my fellow testers was incredibly inspiring!!! A huge thanks to Elles for having me on the team; it was super experience once again!! While I didn’t test the DIA ladies pattern, I did get my hands on it as soon as it was ready (thanks Elles!) and straightaway got to work on a very special sewing project… more of that in a later post.
This post goes live right in the middle of the madness that is the Black Friday/Cyber Monday long weekend. Misusu Patterns are holding a big giveaway over on Instagram and there is 25% off all their patterns from the 23rd to the 26th November 2018!!
When Olga Becker from Coffee and Thread asked if any of the Lana KIDS testing team would like to join a Lana Pattern Tour I put my hand up immediately! Anything to encourage a bit of selfish sewing and with such a lovely pattern how could I refuse!
I intended making myself a Lana Dress, as I could definitely do with a few more Me Made dresses in my wardrobe (I have only one!!), but ended up making a couple of casual tops that are immediate favourites.
First, I made a t-shirt using some of See You At Six‘s latest collection of fabrics. I wasn’t supposed to buy any more fabric when this collection came out, but couldn’t resist those flying geese on such a lovely shade of yellow.
I sized up to allow for the french terry fabric that has a little more body than the jersey fabric intended for the pattern. It’s a relaxed fit on me and the lovely soft fabric makes it nice and cosy. Honestly, it will get more wear next summer than over the winter months but already has had quite a few outings, layered up as necessary.
For Round Two I promised myself I’d make a dress, but then came across this lovely soft white sweater fabric in my stash and knew that it needed to become a jumper.
The sweater fabric came from one of my favourite Irish fabric shops Quilt Yarn Stitch and I married it with more of that yellow See You At Six ribbing and some striped organic cotton interlock from Fabwork Mills. Yellow, White and Grey. Yum!!
I used the ruffled short sleeve and hacked it to an extra long sleeve with a yellow cuff to keep it practical and cosy. Olga has actually added a straight long sleeve to the pattern that can be used by itself or with the ruffle piece layered over it, but I wanted just a gather to the main sleeve so gave it a go. Not perfect but I’m happy!! (Notice a pattern developing? I love a cosy top!) I added a waistband to finish the bottom.
I spent a while thinking about the arm fabric. You don’t often see a jumper with a different coloured sleeve and was worried it would look weird when it was made. I wanted to used the lighter weight fabric to avoid the sleeves being too bulky and love the soft white and soft grey combined with the yellow. I’m delighted I risked it!!
I must say I was delighted with myself heading off to the Knitting and Stitching Show the day after I made this sweater in my largely Me Made outfit. This sewing addiction of mine is so rewarding! Even if it results in a lighter bank balance and neglected household…
I’m so thrilled to have been able to join so many talented seamstresses on this pattern tour. If you check out @coffeeandthread over on Instagram you’ll see all the fabulous work. So very inspiring, and I love the comradery fostered in the Facebook sewing groups!
Over at Coffee and Thread there is a 20% discount on all their patterns for the duration of the Lana Pattern Tour, 5th -16th November 2018, code: ‘lanatour’; so well worth a visit!!!
A couple of weeks ago I spotted a call on Instagram for pattern testers to test a new children’s pattern being released by Coffee and Thread; the Lana KIDS Dress and Tee. It looked like a gorgeous little pattern, within my skill range and so I decided to apply! Low and behold I was selected. Yippee! Cue some more late night sewing…
I had admired their adult Lana Top and Dress pattern and it has been on my wish list for a while, so was delighted to get the chance to test a children’s version. I applied to test the Lana Gathered Dress version for my little No.3. and she measured perfectly for the 18 months size.
I must admit to being a little nervous at joining a testing team for a new designer. My experiences with Misusu Patterns testing have been wonderful and I was worried that this experience wouldn’t measure up. I am delighted that this turned out to be another great experience. Coffee and Thread are based in Chicago and the testing group was made up of lots of sewing folk who I had not encountered before, so a lovely way to discover new people. Olga was great to test for; super engaged and so very helpful with advice/suggestions. Very gentle in her admonishing of those of us who hadn’t pressed our seams (yes, that would be me, oops!)… and more than a few good sewing tips thrown in too!
There are always a few surprises when testing patterns and this was no exception. The construction of those lovely little sleeves was a bit tricky to master. And I was nearly pulling out my hair at one stage, but thanks to the great support and ideas from Olga and the other testers I figured out a good method and conquered them! This is why I do pattern testing. It’s a great way to push my sewing boundaries and to learn from the experience of others! The most useful tip was to stay stitch the corners of the shoulder and snip into the corners a bit before pinning the sleeve on, sniping in a little more if needed. I found I needed to be quite careful when serging this seam, pulling the sleeve fabric as needed to avoid grabbing too much fabric. It is so satisfying when you master a new skill!!
The pattern comes with three versions. A Gathered Dress, a Tee Dress and a Top. I tested the two dress options and love them both. It’s a relaxed fitting pattern and much of the focus of the testing was to get the fit just right; relaxed but not too loose.
I made a couple of gathered dresses for testing purposes early on. The first (as modelled by Gorilla here!) was in a lovely green organic cotton interlock combination and was a little too wide. The fabric is quite loose in weave, and so gave it an even looser fit.
The second (as modelled by the Gorilla’s beautiful friend) is the blue jersey version made with some lovely Elvelyckan Design jersey. A tiny bit long (not a problem for me – always happy for growing room!) was my only comment!
Next up I got stuck into a Lana Tee Dress.
This first version is made using the softest jersey from Quilt Yarn Stitch. I have a good bit of it left in my stash, and have used if for a few other projects. It has a lovely generous stretch, and is really very soft. And those clashing blue and green stripes are just super!
I love the dropped shoulder detail in this pattern. The curve to the shoulder is just perfect and ends with a beautiful fluttered sleeve. I think Olga had older girls in mind with this Tee Dress version – but my goodness it is cute on my little maggot.
I called into The Fabric Counter during testing and was seduced by this gorgeous flamingo print jersey. It is just perfect for the Lana Gathered Dress version.
I learnt a new sewing tip during the course of this testing. I’ve made dresses with gathered skirts before but this was the first time a pattern called up adding a 15mm strip interfacing to the bottom of the bodice where it meets the skirt. And it works a treat! It prevents the bodice rippling along this seam and keeps it lovely and neat looking!
The pattern calls for the use of a knit fabric; jersey or similar. As we are settling into autumn here in Ireland I decided for my last version I would use some sweater fabric for another Tee Dress. And what a super fabric it is! Oh my, those colours! It’s a Liberty sweater fabric I bought from Guthrie & Ghani, a UK based fabric shop. I splurged a little and bought it with a sweater for myself in mind, (I’m thinking another Bel’Etoile Isa Sweater) and think I’ll have just enough left after eating into it a little here…
I was concerned that the heavier weight sweater would make the dress a bit too constricting, but I needn’t have worried, it fits great and No.3 was well able to run about and hunt for conkers in it. Combined with some Elvelyckan Design ribbing for the neck band and the ruffled sleeves it’s pretty much perfect.
I’ve really enjoyed making the Lana Dress versions and suspect No.3 will get a lot more in the future – along with some Lana Tops! I might even have to embark on some rare mum and daughter twinning too and invest in that adult Lana pattern for myself!
A huge thanks to Olga for inviting me to join the testing team! I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Lana KIDS Top and Dress is released today, 2nd October 2018, and it is on sale for the duration of the week of release (2nd October till 9th October 2018) and can be snapped up here for $6.50, instead of $9.00 after.
Back in July I was thrilled to be invited to join the Bel’Etoile International Pattern Tour. I had purchased two of their patterns earlier in the year but never got around to making them, so this was the perfect kick in the bum to try them out! Here’s how I got on…
Over on Instagram today (3rd Sept. 2018) I’m hosting a giveaway of one Bel’Etoile pattern – so go check it out for a chance to win!
At the same time I was also lucky enough to have spent a day walking from Shannon to Limerick with “Walk While You Can“, a charity walk travelling the length of the country to raise awareness and funds in aid of Motor Neurone Disease research. I decided to take advantage of being family-free on the other side of the country. So the next day I undertook a mini road trip home via Tuam to visit Quilt Yarn Stitch, and then on to Kells to visit Dress Fabrics. It was a great excuse to go visit the real life shops of two of the best online fabric shops based in Ireland.
I didn’t go crazy buying fabric, as my stash is getting a little out of control, but had hoped to use some Irish sourced fabric in the outfits I made for this tour.
In Quilt Yarn Stich I had to close my eyes to all the lovely printed jersey fabrics. I just can’t let myself buy more till I’ve used up some of what I have. I did fall for some lovely white quilted stretch sweater fabric and some cream/white solid sweater fabric too. Quite what I was doing buying white to be worn in a household with three small children I don’t know… (but I’m very glad I did!)
ISA, ISA, ISA
The first item I made was the Isa Dress and used some of that lovely quilted sweater for the front and back panels. This is the first Bel’Etoile pattern I bought back in April. I was drawn to the cool v-shaped colour blocking options. It also has lots of fit options to it – Sweater, Cropped Sweater, Sweater Dress and Dress.
I went with the dress option and, despite loving the v-shaped colour blocking potential, I decided that the quilted fabric provided enough texture. I paired it with some soft pink French terry from Elvelyckan Design that I’ve had in my stash for a while. The combination of soft colours and textures worked out just great!
The fit is lovely and relaxed with plenty of room for climbing about. It will be prefect in autumn/winter paired with some leggings/tights.
We managed to get away from the lads for a bit while on holidays in Castlegregory, Co. Kerry a couple of weeks ago and No.3 really enjoyed collecting stones on the beach – she was delighted to discover the big patch pockets the dress offers!!
Next up I decided to make the Lux Dress, well, two Lux Dresses! As there is now a women’s version as well as one for children! (During the blogtour, anyone who buys the Isa or Lux pattern, gets a free copy of the women’s pattern!)
So No. 3 and I were to get some matching gear for the first time! It occurred to me as I was finishing the Lux Dress for me that I hadn’t sewn a dress for myself in 10 years!! Not since one of my brothers’ wedding! Think I need more now!! I’ve pretty much lived in my Lux Dress since I made it.
For both dresses I used some lovely soft organic cotton interlock from Fabworks Online, a UK based online fabric shop that sells a lovely selection of organic cottons. A finely striped one for me and a whale patterned fabric for No.3. Beautifully soft.
The pattern calls for either a decorative surface positioned elastic waistband, or a concealed one using shirring elastic. I had neither so added in a casing for some normal 1″ elastic I had in my sewing box. I went about it arse-ways for No.3’s dress but learnt from that and improved the technique for my own, so was a much easier undertaking.
The little cuff sleeves are designed to be turned up, but I didn’t sew them up in either dress. There is also an option to hem the armhole, think I’ll try this for me next time. I will sew mine up, but I do like how they form little sleeves on No.3’s dress when left folded down.
I was a little concerned at the waist position – my narrowest point is a good bit higher than the pattern’s elasticated waistband – so it wouldn’t necessarily be the most flattering, but I decided to stick with the pattern for this first attempt and see where it led me.
I’ve got to say I do love the dress. The only adjustment to the pattern I made was to lengthen it by 7cm, as I’m 178cm tall . It is incredibly comfortable and while it’s very casual looking here, another fabric selection would make it so much dressier
This means nothing to me… Oh Vienna!!
Oh , but it really does mean so very much to me to be able to sew!! Next up I made a gorgeous little Vienna Dress for No.3 (the lads were really starting to feel left out!) using some lovely denim from Dress Fabrics and some quilted pink fabric from Fabrics Ireland.
I had picked up a remnant of a lovely soft denim when I went to visit Dress Fabrics’ garden party. It was such a relief to arrive at Maeve’s sheds! I had been driving all day and was greeted with tea, sandwiches (thank you to Maeve’s mum and sister!!) and best of all lots of beautiful fabric! Once again I resisted buying too much, but it was so good to see the fabrics up close. Buying fabric online is so very easy, but it is hard to know exactly what you’re buying. It was wonderful to have a good look around and now to be able to trust in the quality of everything she stocks! I got some lovely yellow French terry and some designer fake suede scuba fabric (not sure what to do with that, but couldn’t resist!) too.
The Vienna Dress is a more formal, structured “pretty” pattern than the Lux or the Isa. The little capped sleeves, and the ruffled seam to the front are lovely details. It calls for a zipped back, but I have never done a zip (!!) so instead added 3 lovely wooden buttons. Zips are on my list of things to learn to do, but hadn’t built up the courage at this point!
I’ve no idea what the pink fabric is! I bought it from TWI / Fabrics Ireland to line a coat that I made earlier on in the year and had a bit left over. It is quite thick and has a lovely bouncy quilted texture and is very soft. I wasn’t sure how it would work but am delighted with the result.
I love the contrast in colour and texture between the two fabrics and the buttons add yet another layer of contrast. It really is a very pretty pattern!
There are so many amazing Bel’Etoile outfits made as part of this blog tour by some terribly talented seamstresses (sewers? sewists?) and I would really encourage you to check them out over on Instagram. Just search for Bel’Etoile and you’re sorted!!
Thanks a million to Isabel from Bel’Etoile for inviting me to join the tour and to Tina Eklund Philp for making the introduction!
It has always been a pleasure to engage with Misusu Patterns. I’ve done a couple of rounds of pattern testing with them and I love the warm, generous attitude that Elles Lanfer promotes within the testing groups. Within the testing group there is a shared goal; to help perfect a great pattern and there is always an atmosphere of collaboration and enthusiasm. So, when Elles put out a call for bloggers/”inspirators” to help inspire others to take part in the “Misusu FREEkin’ Sewing Challenge” I applied immediately.
Please check out Misusu Patterns’ blog with details of the challenge and – links to the blogs/Facebook/Instagram posts of all my fellow Inspirators.
Around the same time as this got going See You At Six released their latest fabric collection and I got well and truly sucked in by the gorgeous patterns and colours. I hopped online to Madeline de Stoffenmadam, who stock See You At Six along with an amazing selection of tempting fabrics, and ordered gorgeous rusty brown giraffes, bright yellow painters, some dusty blue cotton lawn and some plain solids/ribbing to match the others. You see them in featured in pretty much all of the outfits I made for this project. Think I got a little obsessed…
The challenge involved is to make an outfit using Misusu patterns, at least one being one of Misusu’s free patterns and, before getting stuck into some hopefully inspiring sews, I had a pair of birthday pressies to make for two boys. They’re the same ages as my No.1 and No. 2 so did a bit of practice with some easily bribed models on hand to test on. And as seems to happen often these days I didn’t want to give them away…
I used the Rowan Tee pattern and a simple hack introducing a seam along the back giving a few more options for playing with colour/pattern/texture. My two lads enjoyed modelling them!
And did you notice the placement of that giraffe on No.2’s top? Entirely luck that the giraffe ended up where the pocket could sit with perfection!
I love the relaxed fit of the Rowan Tee – it looks just right even when there is plenty of growing room. Growing room; always a must when you spend time and love making something for your children. Just before the beginning of the challenge Misusu Patterns released an updated version of the Rowan Tee with adjustments to the fit and a long sleeved version! She also expanded the size range – it now goes all the way to size 13-14/164!. I’ll get years of fun out of this pattern!
On Your Marks! Get Set! Go!
First up for inspiration time was a long sleeved Rowan Tee for No.1, in French terry, so more of a sweatshirt version than a t-shirt, paired with a pair of Misusu Alex Pants. The great little pockets on the front make these a really lovely pair of tracksuit bottoms. It was my first time sewing the Alex pattern and really enjoyed it. No. 1 was delighted with them! He’s really starting to care about what he wears and loves a bit of coordination, so the matching ribbing was appreciated!
I didn’t want to try and wrestle with pocket/pattern placement on the front of the sweater so used solid yellow for the arms and back and relocated the breast pocket to his right arm (he’s a lefty). You can’t really tell in the pics, but I used ribbing for the back yoke that I introduced and solid yellow to the rest of the back.
He’ll soon outgrow the pattern size range for the Alex Pants (expand it Elles!!) as this is the biggest size (5-6/116). It’s a little big on the waist, and I added a couple of inches to the length. That all important growing room box ticked!
While I have greatly enjoyed the pattern testing I’ve done it’s rare that I would aim to make anything to fit my children perfectly. When testing a pattern you have to try for a perfect fit in order to fulfil the brief but, as I’ve said, I usually aim for a little big so that they get more than a couple of months out of something I’ve spent care in making. Most everything I’ve made for this inspirator project has a bit of growing room included.
Giraffes for the animal lover…
Next up was back to a giraffe Rowan Tee for No.2, this time paired with Misusu’s new Summer Olli Shorts. Both are free patterns!! The Olli shorts (or pants) pattern available through the Misusu Patterns Sew and Tell Facebook group. So join up to get it!
After the luck of the pocket placement in the first round of birthday Rowan Tees I deliberately made sure the giraffe would be well placed in this version. I went with the same fit and simple hack of adding a yoke to the back.
The Olli shorts is a great little pattern (you’ll see it appear throughout the outfits made for No.3) with an elasticated waist and deep side pockets. I knew immediately that I’d need to make No.2 a pair in the lovely yellow linen I got a while back from The Fabric Counter. He loves yellow! I used the same fabric for the Rowan Tee pocket to bring the outfit together.
If there’s one thing that No.2 loves more than animals it’s his little sister…
… and she loves him too, though gets a little fed up with his overwhelming “affection”.
Row, Row, Rowan your Boat
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream… cliche I know but No.3 got the Rowan Tee treatment too so seems appropriate. This time with added gathering to a curved seam at the back. I also lengthened the back hemline for a high-low look. I love how the gathering gives extra width and air to the fit. The gathering and high-low hem also make it a little dressier.
I made a draft of this top that wasn’t quite right but with some great feedback from my fellow inspirators in our Facebook group I think I nailed it. I dropped the mid-back seam position, curved it and also kept the gathers more in the central part of the back. Love the collaboration you get in these lovely Facebook groups that Elles facilitates!
I think the French terry fabric works so well with this Rowan Tee. It is so soft and cosy while the gathers add airy lightness that we have really needed with the hot weather of late. I paired it with those super Olli Shorts again, this time using a lovely zebra printed cotton fabric I’ve had for a while. A bit of a safari theme running through…
I’ve been only dying for an excuse to make another Louise Sweater for No.3. It’s up there with my favourite patterns. Some of the first sewing photos I took using the dSLR were of this lovely Louise Sweater on a very little No.3. It still fits with room to spare about 8 months later! Rumour has it Misusu might be preparing an adult sized Louise… Oh I would love one!
So, back to the challenge. The second outfit I made for No.3 included the Olli shorts again and this time coordinated with the Louise Sweater. I love the diagonal line to the side seam and the ability to use sweater and woven fabric together. See You At Six fabric got some use again in this one! In hindsight I would probably have used the giraffes for the front panel as a bit of added pattern would have been good. You live and learn!!
The Olli shorts are a really lovely pattern. There is an option for a buckled strap at the back and another for a tied bow to the front. Most of the shorts I made for No.3 included the bow option. It really dresses the shorts up. For this version however I thought I’d try adding a ribbed waistband.
I love to see my little girl in shorts. They are so practical for exploring and running around. When graced with such a big round belly skirts often end up under her arms, so shorts are practical and just plain perfect!
All MAXed Out!!
I thought I had finished up all my projects for this Misusu FREEkin’ Sewing Challenge but then decided I’d go for one last outfit and stretch my sewing skills!
I decided to try two techniques I’d never attempted before and one that is a little tricky. This time round I went with a Max Tee paired with, yes, you guessed in, some Olli shorts! I had made one Max Tee before – this lovely green and blue striped one for No. 1. Those front corners are that tricky technique mentioned above – but they are sure worth the risk/effort!
Misusu patterns come with really excellent, clear tutorials. They have always given me the confidence to give the trickier parts of any of their patterns a go. And, touch wood, I’ve always managed to pull it off! Long may that last!
So, first new technique I decided to try – embroidery! I’d never done any embroidery but had seen some amazing examples on Instagram – in particular the work of @defnegunturkun and I thought I ‘d give it a go. Nothing as fancy as the examples I’d seen; I started with the basics.
The Max Tee is designed to be used with woven and jersey fabrics together. So the woven bib was a perfect spot to try some simple embroidery stitches. The corner angles on that bib are a little daunting but having made a few other outfits I was happy to take some risks this time round.
I googled “embroidery stitches”, got myself an embroidery hoop and also some embroidery thread and was all set. I decided to keep it simple and at first embroidered little flowers and petals using a “Detached Chain Stitch”. I then got some confidence and decided to infill with some “French Knots”, a little more tricky.
The second technique I had never tried before was sewing a button hole! I’ve always avoided it. When I realised I had only one snap fitting left in my sewing box I knew I was going to have to bite the bullet – and so glad I did!
Not perfect, but so very close! And along with those two very neat corner junctions I was delighted with the result!
The other adjustments I made to the original pattern were to 1) shorten the sleeves and add a ruffle to the top the shoulder, 2) a gathering to the back yoke seam (I’m in a bit of a gathering mood it seems) and 3) a slightly longer hem to the back to give another high-low look.
I was going to make a pair of white linen Ollis to go with this and then thought “Are you crazy? White linen shorts for a 19 month old?” Thankfully I regained my sanity and made a grey chambray pair. It’s a lovely soft lightweight chambray from Quilt Yarn Stitch and far more practical that white linen! There’s actually a little pink and green fleck in the fabric, but it doesn’t really show in the photos. Love that little front bow!
Thank you! That’s it for now!
There was a super gang of inspirators tasked with coming up with some inspiring outfits for the Misusu FREEkin’ Sewing Challenge – and there are some amazing and inventive hacks to be discovered! Check out Misusu’s blog with links to all their Instagram accounts! I’ve loved seeing all the work as it’s be created and hope you have enjoyed seeing my projects!
I should let you know that Misusu Patterns are offering 15% off all their paid patterns during the course of this challenge and have all their free patterns available to enjoy too! You’ll find the discount code on Misusu’s blog post.
Don’t forget the Misusu Pattern Giveaway!!
Over on my Instagram profile on 5th August 2018, I will be giving away the chance to pick one paid pattern of choice from Misusu Patterns. You’ll see all the details of the giveaway at my Instagram account, @incompletestitches. All the other “Inspirators” will be hosting similar giveaways on their day of the social media tour so there are lots of opportunities to win!
When I realised I had used so much fabric sourced from Madeline de Stoffenmadam I got in touch with them to sheepishly ask if they’d be interested in sponsoring some fabric for my giveaway. I was thrilled when they said they’d love to! So for all you sewing enthusiasts based in Belgium and The Netherlands they have kindly offered the chance to win 1 metre of the See You At Six “Painted” French terry fabric in Sulphur Yellow – as used in this Rowan Tee:
You’ll see all the details of this bonus giveaway on the 5th August 2018 over at my Instagram account @incompletestitches – just remember you’ll need a postal address in The Netherlands or Belgium to be eligible for this one!
(All the links are included entirely due to my love of the fabric/shop/pattern. I think it is great to be able to give a shout out for all those talented, committed people who help me enjoy this sewing lark as much as I do!)
Thank you for joining me on my stop on the social media tour for the release of the Misusu Piper Tank Top pattern.
(Please check out the gorgeous work of all the other testers – links to their blogs/Facebook/Instagram posts can be found on Misusu’s blog page; here.)
Piper! Pick your Pattern!
My previous, and only, experience of pattern testing (I’m a newbie to all this), the Doris Skirt by Misusu Patterns, was a super one. It was so lovely to be part of a group effort to assist in the perfection of a great pattern. The group was full of talented, inspiring seamstresses with a wonderful atmosphere of support, sharing and generosity. When I saw the call for testers for a new Misusu Pattern I jumped at the chance to be involved and I am delighted to have been selected.
This time round the pattern to be tested was the Piper Tank Top. A versatile pattern suitable for boys and girls with lots of options for different versions. And boy did I get sucked into making lots of them… This post is pretty long, so get a cup of tea, or else just have a browse down through all the lovely Piper Tanks I thoroughly enjoyed making.
Perfecting the pocket? Well, nearly…
I don’t know if it’s the architect in me, but I find the construction of Misusu Patterns’ really enjoyable. There are always carefully considered details and interesting diagonal lines. The Piper Tank is no disappointment! When I signed up for this test I was thinking, ah yes, a nice simple pattern; this will be a breeze… And I was right to a certain extent, but I was also happily surprised to find lots of options to the pattern that would allow me to stretch my sewing skills.
I had never attempted a patch pocket before, and this patterns calls for a lovely little pocket on the left front breast (and 3 variations now in the tutorial!). It requires topstitching. Topstitching that will remain very visible. This has always put me off pockets in the past. Well, not any more!! As you’ll see, every version I made included a patch pocket, (or a decorative patch) and each one turned out great! Such pocket success inspired me to add a pocket to a pair of shorts I had in the mill, and I even stretched to using a double needle on that one!! Mightily adventurous for me! I’m guessing there will be pockets on most everything I sew from now on!!!!
As I said, the Piper Tank pattern comes with a host of options for the construction of the back panel. The highlight for me was the “penguin” version of the pattern that has the neatest, most satisfying construction to the bottom hem that I’ve had the pleasure to sew. A little tricky looking at first glance, but it comes together sooo very neatly…
The first Piper I attempted, and although I struggled a little to control the loosely knitted fabric, turned out beautifully. It wasn’t the easiest fabric choice, but its challenges were offset by the forgiving texture that hides a multitude of flaws! I used a zigzag stitch for the bottom hem and, though you can’t tell without very close inspection, I ended up having to sew over the hem twice.
The pocket stitching ain’t perfect, but I’m happy enough to have missed out on perfection when the end result is as gorgeous as this!
It is light and soft and perfect for the astonishingly hot weather we’re having here in Ireland at the moment.
I paired this version with my first attempt at Misusu’s Culottes Tutorial. With the penguin back and the slight A-Line cut of the Piper Tank these culottes work perfectly. The fabric is a cotton double gauze fabric I purchased from Madeline deStoffenmadam at the same time as the stripy fabric – and the colour match is almost perfect. I love the contrast in textures afforded by the double sided nature of the Piper Tank fabric and an additional texture with the double gauze is lovely.
From Penguins to Petals
For my second attempt I went with the Petal version of the pattern. Once again there was an unusual element to the pattern that I enjoyed getting to grips with. The curved hem makes it a little tricky to get the hem to sit flat. The pattern includes a great suggestion to adjust the differential tension on your serger to make the fabric pucker a little; assisting the curve to sit flat. I tried, and I failed; however even a failed attempt looked great from the outside!
I’m not one to let a hem beat me, so I tried the technique once again with another Piper Petal, this time in a more stable jersey fabric; it worked perfectly!!
A pair of Pipers for a couple of Pranksters
At this stage the two lads were getting a little jealous of all the sewing I was doing for No.3. So for my next versions I decided to make a penguin version for No.1 and a straight backed version for No.2. In both cases I used the optional back yoke. It’s the perfect place to use a contrasting fabric/play with the direction of fabric. The penguin version is brilliant for playing with pattern too as it just cries out for using the diagonal line of the bottom hem.
You’ll have noticed that Elvelyckan Design‘s fabric keeps popping up here. It’s a company that produces beautifully patterned fabrics with a lovely range of colours, in gorgeous soft jersey, interlock and French terry (what they call “college”) fabric. Unfortunately their shipping costs to Ireland are very expensive (they are based in Sweden) unless you order quite a lot of fabric. The positive side to this (oh there’s always a positive to HAVING to order lots of fabric) is that I waited till I had a few pennies to spend and splurged on a big order with lots of narwhals, waves and solids. No.2 loves “swimmers” (his term for any water borne creature) so the narwhals were his cup of tea. No.1 is getting very grown up in himself these days and the waves caught his attention. He’d love to be a surfer…
All the Piper Tanks I made have a slight A-Line shape. It was suggested during the testing phase that a straight version might be useful for a more boyish look. Elles Lanfer (the exceptional designer and person behind Misusu Patterns) introduced this option to the pattern, so all bases are well covered! I used the A-Line version for all as I think it is very subtly A-line and works great for the penguin especially, but is perfect on my boys in all versions.
One thing I didn’t mention with my Version 1 is that the pattern matching of my back seam got the better of me. I could blame the late night sewing or the tricky fabric, either way those diagonal lines just didn’t match up. So for my last Piper Tank I went back to the lovely soft stripy fabric I had used before and was determined to master matching those stripes…
I also wanted to use that double gauze fabric to make a patch pocket and use the option for a yoke to enjoy the contrast between the front and back faces of the fabric and play with the stripe direction. This is what Misusu patterns are so perfect for!
No.3 had been more than a little under the weather for the previous few days but she has taken to this modelling malarkey like a pro and managed to give me a few smiles…
I’m a little tired after all that sewing, but definitely not tired of the great pattern that Elles has come up with. Suitable for pretty much all levels; the Piper Tank has simple options for the beginner and interesting details to give the more experienced sewer something to enjoy. And for those of us in the middle, plenty to prompt us to push our boundaries.
I’m so grateful for having been given the chance to get involved in pattern testing again. It was another super opportunity to engage with and learn from the talented bunch of seamstresses and to stretch my sewing skills again. With the added benefit that my family are now well and truly kitted out for what continues to be an incredibly warm and dry summer!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post, or even just having a browse! The Piper Tank Top Pattern can be purchased here!
( Please also visit my fellow testers’ blog/social media Piper Tank Top posts here!)
UPDATE! A special birthday Piper…
Between writing this blog and setting it to publish I made a very special Piper for a friend of No.1…
A couple of weeks back No.1 finished his first year in school. He had met one boy from his class in our local park a couple of weeks before and they bumped into each other as they walked into school on their first day. They have been firm friends all year.
No.1 showed him the space alien that I had made from a drawing of his last year and his friend asked me if I could make him something too.
So I suggested he draw something and I’d figure out what to make. This gorgeous little drawing of a ladybird holding hands with a snail is what he came up with. It is such a sweet little drawing and is evocative of the lovely friendship the two boys have built. Who knows if they’ll remain friends as they grow up, and I hope they do, but it’s been lovely seeing them enjoy life together in this past year at school.
Friend’s birthday was coming up and I had conveniently just finished testing the Piper Tank so I decided I would make him one and try my hand at an applique. I had put a decorative patch on one of the tanks I had made for No.3 during the testing process so thought I could make a similar badge for Friend and that way replicate the scale of the drawing.
I made only a few adjsutments to the drawing; I simplified the number of legs the ladybird had and I added a swrl to the snail’s shell, just to make it a little clearer that it was a snail. Other than that, I similified the ladybird’s spots a little and was good to go!
I ironed bondaweb on each piece of fabric and assembled both animals separately by ironing their component pieces together. I then top stitched it all before fixing them to the patch and the patch to the front of the tank. I was surprised at how easily it all came together and was delighted with how well it represented his original drawing.
I went with the penguin back version of the Piper Tank – the shape reminded me of the ladybird’s shell. No.1 excitedly modelled the tank for me and was sure that his friend would be delighted.
No.1 is a little taller and broader than his friend, so I made the slightly smaller of the two sizes of Piper Tanks that I had made him during the testing phase and hoped for the best.
No.1 was very excited to be giving this to his friend and thankfully it got the thumbs up from his friend too!! My plan for world domination begins with dressing all the children in my son’s classes…
(All the links are included entirely due to my love of the fabric/shop/pattern. I think it is great to be able to give a shout out for all those talented, committed people who help me enjoy this sewing lark as much as I do!)