Wednesday, 15 February 2017

A Tale of Two Swimsuits

I always wanted a pink swimsuit. When I saw Pattern Review's Activewear Contest, I said, that’s it, it’s time to make a swimsuit. I had NEVER made a swimsuit before, and had zero idea of how difficult it could be. But the optimistic me thought that there are so many online resources nowadays and I could learn, so I took the plunge.

Finding the pattern, learning the skills, choosing fabric and supplies...

I started with last year’s PR contest winner treefrog’s Swimsuit. I really like the design of that swimsuit. I tracked down the seller (also the designer) of that pattern on Esty. I locked my eyes on this swimsuit pattern because: 1) the underwired cups and lapel/turn-back are so eye catching 2) the design is quite unique and modern without straight side seams. So I ordered the patterns all the way from the Netherlands.  

As I was determined to make this swimsuit, while waiting for the pattern, I started reading blogs about bra making.  I got a little bit of an idea what the components of my bra were, but I was still so confused how to install the channelling and sewing the cups.

Two weeks later, I received the pattern in my letter box. I was excited to open the pattern but soon disappointed and stressed after I found out the sewing instructions were like the Burda Style Magazine type – concise, only words and NO ILLUSTRATIONS. I read the instructions many times and I just couldn’t understand and visualise all the steps and the materials.  I GOT STUCK.

The breakthrough is when I posted a question on Melbourne Spoolettes’ FB page (closed group) asking other group members where to source the materials and tips for making swimsuits. One of the ladies recommended the Closet case’s Sophie swimsuit pattern and their online workshop.
I enrolled in the course and it comes with a free pattern. I was surprised. This is the best money I spent on an online sewing course ever! It’s so well presented and extremely informational for a beginner like me.

By then I had met with Georgina at (also recommended by the ladies on FB) She helped me with buying the supplies I need. She explained to me what power net, bra foam and swimwear lining are in great details with the actual product. Combined with the online workshop, I can imagine putting together my swimsuit.

The Remnant Warehouse has a great range of chlorine-resistant swimwear lycra. Most of the printed ones come from Jets Swimwear, a premium Australian swimwear brand. I ordered the

Making it… Muslin #1 Sophie Swimsuit

Initially I only planned to just watch the videos for the bits that I needed for my swimsuit project. I ended up watching the whole course and made a sample of the Sophie Swimsuit. Heather, the presenter, is such a well-spoken and hands-on teacher. She really inspired me to give it a go with her Sophie Swimsuit.
Sophie Swimsuit.... First swimsuit I ever made.

This is the first swimsuit I made. It’s not too bad. There are a few things I can improve on if I make the pattern again (I think I will). But, for now, I learnt some important tips:
1.     Use a walking foot for Lycra. I didn’t know until I watched Heather’s video. It makes a huge difference.
2.     Use straight stitch to sew the cups and use a serger to sew the other seams.
3.     Use clear elastic to stabilise the top edge of the cup (more details below).
4.     The long arrows on swimsuit patterns are actually stretch lines. You need to find the more stretchy direction of the fabric, which can be lengthwise, or crosswise depend on the fabric, and align the pattern pieces along the stretch line.

Finally making it… Muslin #2 my swimsuit
After practising sewing a swimsuit with Sophie (above), I still wanted to make a muslin of my swimsuit to check the fitting, and practise again.

Luckily I made this muslin, I found a couple of areas I need to improve such as the cups. As you can see in the photo below:

Finally Really Making it… the Real Swimsuit

Yay, I am finally cutting the fabulous fabric for my swimsuit.

Apart from the fitting changes mentioned above, I also make some changes on the construction:
1.     I added a power net to line the upper cup (see the photo below)
2.     I added a swimwear lining to the front body piece and the shoulder straps because the printed fabric is thinner than the plain one.

So it’s done

I would really like to wear it to the beach and take some photos, but I only finished it today and I need to post it up for PR’s activewear contest. However, I will put up some photos once I have a chance to go to the beach.


The past month is such a steep learning curve for me. I really enjoy the whole learning experience, although sometimes it’s a bit stressful with a deadline at the back of my mind. Like making my wedding gown from zero knowledge a few years ago, this is such fun learning a whole new skill and it’s really encouraging for me to take on any project in the future. I am looking forward to starting making my own bras.

Happy sewing.
Cloud is such a good companion

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Late to the Renfrew Top Party

I am really late to the Renfrew Top Party, although I have had this pattern since three years ago.  The main reason I hadn’t sewn it is because I kept avoiding knits and only seriously wanted to starting sewing it once I bought a coverstitch machine. I did buy a Janome CoverPro a couple years ago, but I wasn’t fully satisfied with it. I could have given a lengthy review about the machine and that will only discourage you from getting one.

So fast forward to the beginning of 2017, I was frustrated by my CoverPro enough to have the courage to buy a brand new Baby Lock BLCS-2 Coverstitch Machine. I spent big $$ for it. I wouldn’t say it’s worth every cent because Baby Lock’s prices are highly inflated in Australia, but it’s a GOOD coverstitch machine. I finally have all the motivation to make my first Renfrew top (I reckon there will be more).

I cut size 6 although my measurement is a size 8 according to the size chart. I didn’t make much adjustment except shortening the sleeve by ½ inch. I am happy with the fitting.

I am not familiar with the different types of knit fabric. I can’t tell what fibres are in this fabric. The fabric is very comfy and warm. I use 1.2 metre @ $4/metre.

I always try to match the stripes at the side seams if I am sewing stripe fabric. It just looks much better.

Stripes at side seams matched.

The construction is very straightforward. Most of the knit fabric patterns give 5/8 inch seam allowance. At the beginning, I followed the instructions and sewed 5/8" S.A on my sewing machine, then I ran it under the serger, trimming off 1/4" S.A and left a narrow S.A. I found this a bit time consuming. So when I did the waistband (the last seam of the project), I just stitched on the serger, eyeballing 1/4" seam allowance to trim it off. It is actually really easy and saves lots of time. I think I need to get used to sewing knit fabric directly on the serger from now on.

At the neckband, I made good use of my babylock coverstitch.

Like all my other Sewaholic projects, I always want to make another one after the first. Renfrew is no exception. Plus, I love wearing knit tees.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Colette Hawthorn Dress

Happy New Year! I hope you achieve whatever you want to achieve in 2017. One of my ambitions this year is to sew at least two projects a month and upload some tutorials on my blog.

I hope you had a good break. I spent lots of time sewing during in the last few weeks. I just came back from China in early December with lots of goodies (mainly haberdashery) and can’t wait to use them all. But for now, here is my review of Colette’s Hawthorn Dress.

It’s a popular pattern in 2013.  I've had it in my stash for long time. This is also my first time to sew Colette. I am not used to reading the 20+ pages of instruction. I just flipped through for the illustrations and thought of the steps as I went. You may have a different view, but for me their instructions are too pedantic.

The style

I really like the collar and the neckline. I happen to have a jumper that fits perfectly to the neckline of the dress. The skirt is very flaring. I wanted to make this dress because it reminds me of what Bernadette often wears on The Big Bang Theory.
Bernadette Style... Cute geeky look
Back and side view

The Size

I cut size 4 and graded to 6 from waist. I always knew Colette’s Pattern is more for busty women, but I underestimated how busty it was intended for. I am a B cup chest, and followed the chart to pick size 4. I thought I would be safe and did not make a muslin. Well… I was wrong. The front bodice ended up having a bit too much fabric for me. When I wore it to work, my friend pointed it out straight away for me (red face). I needed a SBA! Well… Lesson learnt – absolutely make a fitting muslin on all Colette dresses. I shortened the Skirt by 1 inch.

Not happy with the excess fabric on the front bodice
SBA done… only after I have made the dress

The Fabric

I used 2.1m (2.3yard) Japanese Lawn (112cm width) from Spotlight. For a size 4, The amount is much less than the yardage on the envelope. The lawn is good quality and I like a dotted blue floral pattern very much. It’s very light and drapey. In that sense, the skirt doesn’t have a big volume but is very flowy.

Pattern Layout for the bodice and facings

What’s next?

There were lots of sales and specials during Christmas time and I am sure lots of you must've grabbed some bargains. I bought some Colette Patterns at 30% off and McCall’s Patterns for $5 each. I am making a couple of them at the moment and hopefully I can finish soon.

Rue, McCall's M7116 and Aster

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Burda 03/2015 #118: Piped Dress

I have made a few things that I haven't blogged about over the last couple of years. Now my blog is catching up with my sewing. This dress is one of them. I started making this dress in mid 2015 and finished it  at the end of 2015. Yep... that's a more than a year ago.

So I here present the Piped Seamed Dress from Burda 03/2015 #118. I initially wanted to use this project for the Burda's Ultimate Member Model Challenge in April 2015. But the lazy me did not finish it in time. Then came winter, so I put it aside for six months. I decided to finish it in summer late last year.... It could be a long story but finally I am putting it up.

I used only 1.5 meters of light-weight floral drill (120cm wide) for this project.

It felt like a breeze to wear this dress out for a coffee with friends on a sunny warm day.

I also want to mention that I went to some wood working class this year and make a stool. It's perfect for sitting at my cutting table which is higher than a normal table so it doesn't hurt my back. 

We adopted a cat in March this year. Cloud has brought us so much joy. I love to feature him in my photos, although he is not friendly toward photo shooting :)

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

A gathered dress: by Cotton Friend

As you may have noticed, I haven't blogged much the last couple years. I have been sewing though, on and off. Now, in the 10th month of 2016, I finally got my sew-jo and blog-jo back! And it's all thanks to this dress.

My friend just came back from Taiwan and brought me two new Cotton Friend magazines. It's a Chinese sewing magazine that has been translated from the original Japanese version. There are lots of fabulous bags, aprons, and casual clothing patterns. The clothing is of a very Japanese style - simple, loose, baggy.
Cotton Friend sewing magazine

As gratitude, I let her choose a dress to make for her. And she did:
model 1 from the magazine

Model 2 from the magazine

The fabric
The fabric is printed Japanese lawn. My friend chose this pattern. It's $12 (Australian) per metre. I'm sure it'd be much cheaper in Japan (oh yeah, forgot to mentioned I went to Japan twice last two years. Maybe I'll blog about the fabric shopping there). The lawn is soft and smooth, perfect for this dress. It needs 2.6 metres of fabric.

The dress
The dress has a gathered neckline, waistline and puffy sleeves. It only has three pattern pieces. The only not-so-easy part of the dress is making the casing for the elastic band, but it's good practice for me and I think I will be faster with elastic next time.
I made size M. No adjustment is needed. The dress fits her perfectly.
The pattern is very easy. 

I made this dress with her. It took me five hours in total from tracing the pattern to finish. It's a long time for a simple project like this but it's because I hadn't sewn a dress in a long time.

I like the gathered raglan sleeves. 

Both she and I are happy with the result. It looks exactly the same as the one in the magazine. I particularly like the puffy sleeves matching the puffiness in the bodice.
Looks just like the one on the magazine.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

First time quilting - A Baby Boy Quilt (Cars)

Dear sewist friends, have you ever been tempted to make a quilt? I took the plunge! Yes I have started quilting! The motivator was my that my friend was having a baby soon and I wanted to make a baby quilt for the new born and first time mum.

I gathered some ideas online and fixed my eye on this design.

To my surprise, I was able to find the ‘car’ fabric from my local quilting shop. The rest was easy, some shades of blue and aqua.
Preshinking the fabric
It’s an easy patchwork for the quilt top. I drew it on paper to work how many pieces of 3x3” for each colour. [pic of drawing] Then next thing is cutting. Of course I added ¼ seam allowance. We all know that a quilt is make of three layers (we call it sandwiches): the quilt top, the batting and the backing. Now that I had made the quilt top, next thing was to quilt the three layers together. This is showtime for my beloved Bernina 440.

Binding is the last thing. Please note, different to dressmaking, binding in a quilt is not a BIAS strip. They use straight strips! I found the this video from Missouri Star Quilt Company on binding. What an absolute help!

The quilting clips come in very handy when binding

Add the verdict is....

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