Saturday, 24 June 2017

Jenny Gillies Enchanted Garden Exhibition

For anyone in Christchurch, New Zealand there is a wonderful exhibition of Jenny Gillies floral art to wear at the Botanic Gardens Kiosk Gallery until the end of June 2017. So if you hurry you can still see it.

Jenny Gillies has bought floral creations to life with her 'Enchanted Garden' exhibition. The Seasonal collections of these acclaimed botanical “works of art” are inspired by the beautiful surroundings of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. A must see attraction, which has been featured both nationally and internationally in exhibitions and live performances promoting our beautiful Garden City. Beauty, humour and an abundance of colour are showcased in this enchanting exhibition which will “grow” and fascinate the senses seasonally.

I think even I could keep this vase of flowers alive.

Jenny Gillies Enchanted Garden Exhibition

Many hours could have been spent at the exhibition watching the video of Jenny's garments in stage performances. I miss seeing her performances at the Christchurch Cathedral as part of the Flower Festival. The garments were often worn by ballet dancers and they provided grace of movement that really suited the flowers.

The sunflower in the picture below was the first costume Jenny created and led to her over twenty year career in designing these floral garments.

Jenny Gillies Enchanted Garden Exhibition

It is a true visual feast with these garments featured in the exhibition.

Jenny Gillies Enchanted Garden Exhibition

The kiosk isn't very big but the round shape really suits how the garments are displayed. I took lots of photos here are three to give a feel for the exhibition.

Jenny Gillies Enchanted Garden Exhibition

Jenny Gillies Enchanted Garden Exhibition

Jenny Gillies Enchanted Garden Exhibition

Just love the Banana Passionfruit it really demonstrates Jenny's quirky risque sense of humour with the placement of the dangling bananas.

Jenny Gillies Enchanted Garden Exhibition

Saturday, 17 June 2017

TSW Odette Top Pattern Alterations

When I made The Sewing Workshop Odette top I made the size small straight out of the envelope with the only change being to the side seams which I stitched at 3/8 inch instead of 5/8. Whilst this top is wearable (and perfectly acceptable if it was RTW) there are a number of changes that I felt were necessary to the pattern to get a good fit for me.

I have seen other versions of this top on the internet with the same problems, particularly in the bust area, so I thought it would be useful to include pictures of the alterations to better explain the process. Having a wearable muslin makes it easier to identify the changes that need to be made.

The pattern line drawing

The Sewing Workshop Odette Top Line Drawing

The full bust adjustment


Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Top

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Top

I have enough circumference around the bust but have the horizontal drag lines indicating I need more depth for my full bust. In the pictures the lines are more pronounced on the princess seam side but in real life both sides are equally bad and need fixing.

For the left front princess seam I removed 1 inch at the raglan sleeve end tapering to nothing at the bust curve.  This was achieved by removing 1/2 inch on each pattern piece. The photograph below shows the alteration made to the princess seam. With my altered pattern piece on top of the original.

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Top Pattern Alterations

For the right front the bust dart needed to be made larger but the problem appeared as gapping at the arm hole.  I created a 1 inch dart on the right front into the raglan armhole then pivoted it into the side seam enlarging the existing dart, shown in the photographs below.  I marked the bust point on the pattern piece as I thought the dart was a bit low.  I found the bust point by measuring down 8 inches from the neck edge point on this pattern piece and in four inches from centre front.  Once I knew the bust point I raised the end of the dart up half an inch - could possibly have raised it 1 inch but felt a bit funny about all my alterations being 1 inch. Stupid I know but pattern alteration is not instinctive and for me there is always a degree of second guessing myself.

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Top Pattern Alterations

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Top Pattern Alterations

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Top Pattern Alterations

The raglan sleeve

At the front of the garment I seemed to have excess fabric in the raglan sleeve.  Normally when I do a full bust adjustment I redraw the shape of the armhole back to the original size and don't alter the sleeve pattern piece.  For the raglan sleeve I actually removed the same 1 inch as the front pattern pieces by creating a 1 inch dart in the front raglan sleeve tapering to nothing at the back. I then redrew the front seam line. This is the one aspect of the pattern alterations that I am unsure about - was the fabric really extra or have I just altered (ruined) the shape of the neckline?

For some reason I also forgot to alter the top when I originally made it for my forward shoulder so I moved the shoulder dart point towards the front 5/8 inch. This meant that I had to re-shape the dart edge so when the dart was closed the fabric is level. The top wasn't too uncomfortable to wear without the forward shoulder adjustment but I still noticed it.

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Top Pattern Alterations


Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Top Pattern Alterations

The sway back

Once again a normal alteration I completely failed to do. Even though the seam in the back is not at centre back I just removed 1 inch at the nearly centre back seam line tapering to nothing at the side seam.

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Top

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Top Pattern Alterations

The style changes

I don't like the fact that it is relatively straight across the back and would also like it to cover more of my bottom so I have changed the back pattern pieces to have more of a shirt tail. The changed pattern piece is at the top of the photograph with the original underneath for comparison.

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette top pattern alterations

Something else I'm thinking about is increasing the peplum circumference at the hem by slashing and spreading the pattern piece. I'll save that idea for another time.

So now I have altered the pattern I just need to make another one to see if the changes were completely successful in correcting the fit or if more are needed. As well as seeing if the shirt tail idea is as great as I think it will be.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

TSW Odette Tundra Top

I have been intending to sew The Sewing Workshop Odette top for some time, as I just love anything asymmetrical. The pattern has been lurking around the sewing room ever since it was purchased it just took a while  to reach the top of the making queue.

The finished garment

As I haven't found my size or standard alterations yet in TSW patterns I decided to make the top in fabric I wouldn't mind sacrificing to a wadder. The finished garment is good enough from a RTW perspective but when you sew for yourself you expect a higher standard so I consider this a wearable muslin.

Despite my general ambivalence about the colour/pattern and fit of this top it will be put into wardrobe circulation.  How often it is worn will determine its lifespan in the wardrobe versus the charity shop bag.

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Tundra Top

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Tundra Top

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Tundra Top


The fabric

Creates Sew Slow: AGF Village Tundra fabric

Another AGF cotton jersey this one from their first organic cotton collection Hello, Ollie by Bonnie Christine. It is called Village Tundra in colourway sprout, a 95% cotton 5% spandex knit. A nice weight at 260 gsm and lovely and soft. It came from Stonemountain and Daughter earlier this year.

When I purchased the fabric I really loved it and could see it clearly fitting into my wardrobe. But that strange phenomena happened during its journey across the Pacific ocean, so that by the time it reached New Zealand it was less ideal, the pattern less attractive, even though it will absolutely fit into my wardrobe aesthetic. Why does the excitement of fabric buying sometimes overcome discernment?

The pattern

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette & Ivy topsCreates Sew Slow: TSW Odette line drawing

This is The Sewing Workshop Odette and Ivy top pattern. I used Odette in a size small.  Odette is described as a pieced top with right front dart and left princess seam, side front and back panels, tapered peplum. Long sleeves have shoulder darts. Neck binding and stitched hems.

The pattern alterations

None - well I cut a size small and used 3/8 inch side seams rather than the required 5/8 inch giving me an extra 1 inch through the body. I also didn't use the neck binding.

To choose my size I looked at the finished garment measurements and considered how much ease I wanted.  I thought the size small might be just a titch too clingy and am happy with my choice to include that extra inch.

So what alterations should I have done? Quite a few.  I have noticed other versions on the web have some of the same challenges. Maybe I will do another post detailing the changes I should have made to this pattern as it would probably be helpful for my aging memory to make the pattern changes whilst they are still fresh in my mind.

The sewing

The top was sewn together on the overlocker as normal apart from the hems and neckline which were sewn on the Featherweight with a straight stitch. I was careful to only sew the side seams with a 3/8 inch seam allowance but all other seams were sewn at 5/8 inch. I mitred the corner then hemmed the peplum piece on the two sides before I attached it to the body of the garment as per the instructions which made it easier to handle.

Being a bit OCD I love getting the perfect mitred corner. The instructions had you trim the seam allowances but I think that gives you a lumpy mitred corner.  Instead I fold the seam allowance open which makes the little square you see in the picture below to give a really flat sharp mitred point a la Louise Cutting.

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette mitred cornerCreates Sew Slow: TSW Odette mitred corner

The styling

No real styling. Here it is after a day at work and the flight home with my red Andrea Moore cropped zip leg pants and United Nude Step Mobius ankle booties

Creates Sew Slow: TSW Odette Tundra Top

Creates Sew Slow: UN Step Mobius Ankle Boots

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Machine Embroidery in the Wild


A few weeks ago The Quilt Show shared a link to a YouTube video of Harriet Riddell an intrepid machine embroiderer. I bookmarked it because I didn't have time to watch it, only to promptly forget about it. Having rediscovered it and watched it I just had to share Harriet in India.


Harriet describes herself as a performing machine embroiderer and she travels with her trusty sewing machine which has been converted to operate from a battery or the sun or a bicycle. Harriet sketches what is around her using a sewing machine and what she produces is amazing. Here is Harriet in Kenya.


Love machine embroidery and to see it being done out in the wild by someone so passionate is inspiring.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Ready to Sew Janis Two Ronnies Top

This is my third version of the Janis top view one by Ready to Sew. All of them have the basic style lines but only the first version is entirely true to the pattern. This version whilst it achieved my vision is less successful on the body. It won't stop me from wearing it as I really like the fabric.

The finished garment

So sleeves as a statement have made a comeback but in a way that is a bit too close to the Eighties for me. All those ruffles to dip into the gravy - quelle horreur. Still with statement sleeves in mind and as usual a shortage of The Two Ronnies' fabric I thought a stripe was the answer. The statement part being that the stripe in the sleeves match the one in the body. Not a very smart idea to have a visibly widening effect at the waist - live and learn, maybe.

Creates Sew Slow: Ready to Sew Janis Two Ronnies Top

Creates Sew Slow: Ready to Sew Janis Two Ronnies Top

Creates Sew Slow: Ready to Sew Janis Two Ronnies TopCreates Sew Slow: Ready to Sew Janis Two Ronnies Top

The fabric

The spectacle fabric is an Avalana jersey 95% cotton and 5% elastane by Stof Fabrics.  The stripe fabric is also an Avalana but with 94% cotton and 6% elastane, which is just not as nice to the touch as the spectacle fabric nor does it stretch the same. This fabric was purchased from All Things Patchwork on our Easter trip away so once again not a very long maturation period.

Creates Sew Slow: Stof Avalana Spectacles

Creates Sew Slow: Stof Avalana Stripes

So why call this the Two Ronnies' top you ask. For anyone familiar with British 1970's comedy the answer is clear and for everyone else there is Wikipedia.

The pattern

Janis is described as a peplum style top with two collar options, both available in short and long sleeves.  It's fitted at the shoulders and falls into a relaxed fit below the bust. This is a modified version of view one with the round neckline and 3/4 length sleeves.


Creates Sew Slow: Ready to Sew Janis Top

The pattern alterations

I used the same pattern with changes as per my first version with the neckline lowered that extra 1/4 inch as per my second version. The additional changes made to the front and back pieces were:
  • Fold up the front and back pieces at the lengthen shorten line to remove the curve. Add 2" to the length
  • Taper the side seams to remove 1/4 inch at the base
  • Cut a band the width of your front and back pieces x 4 1/8 inches (mine was 39 3/4 x 4 1/8 inches)

For the sleeves a short sleeve was cut using my TNT knit sleeve. This was cut longer than I thought I needed then after one had been basted into the garment to determine length I cut both measuring 11 7/8 inches from the cap. Cut two rectangular strips the width of the short sleeve from both the stripe (4 1/8 inches) and spectacles (3 5/8 inches). Sew these rectangles to the short sleeve and then re-cut to shape using the sleeve pattern.

Given the widening effect of the stripe at the waist I wonder if it would look better with a narrower waist stripe of 2 inches, and the top and peplum both increased by 1 inch to retain the overall length. Or even reduce the waist by tapering in the side seams more. Oh well it is made now but possibly some good thoughts for next time.

The sewing

Yet another simple knit top sewn on the overlocker.  Hems (sleeve, peplum and neck edge) turned under and hemmed with a straight stitch and ballpoint needle in my little Singer Featherweight.

The only difference to the previous version is sewing together the different fabrics and working out the length of the sleeve so the stripes match up.  The sewing order was:
  • Overlock the shoulder seams
  • Overlock one side seam
  • Add the striped band to the bottom of the body
  • Baste in the round one short spectacles sleeve to determine the length where it would meet the spectacles on the body. (You can then cut both sleeves accordingly and assemble the three sleeve pieces together)
  • Set in the sleeves (one in the round and one flat as normal)
  • Overlock the other side seam
  • Add the peplum to the bottom of the body
  • Hem the sleeve, peplum and neck edge

I really do have some more interesting sewing percolating around in my head. A couple of coats in fact from two late 90's Vogue designer patterns. As usual there is a bit of procrastination at the start due to the effort needed to think through and do the necessary fitting alterations, as well as the waste of fabric fear (will this fabric be as great made into this coat as it is in my head). Another knit top is quite a good delaying tactic and I certainly have enough fabric to feed the machine.


The styling

This week I had a bit of a black and white theme going with my work outfits so I added my pink Sable and Minx wool/cashmere cardigan to brighten things up.

Here is my casual Friday outfit. Janis Two Ronnies top worn with black trousers from Witchery, my aforementioned pink cardigan and United Nude Eamz Alexa Black shoes.

Creates Sew Slow: Ready to Sew Janis Two Ronnies Top

Here is my outfit minus the cardigan and a better picture of the shoes.

Creates Sew Slow: Ready to Sew Janis Two Ronnies Top

Creates Sew Slow: United Nude Eamz Alexa

So it's goodnight from me and it's goodnight from him.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Vogue 1250 Elevenses Dress

I wasn't jealous that my crafting partner in crime Cath was having a textile adventure in Japan without me.  It was pure coincidence that when I went into The Fabric Store a fabric which made me think of Japan came home with me.  Obviously it was really the tea theme and the colour that influenced the buying decision, not to mention that it was a lovely cotton jersey.


The finished garment

I think of this as my Japanese tea dress. The fabric was absolutely desperate to become this dress, there was no maturing in stash it was bought on Saturday, washed on Sunday and made on Tuesday (ANZAC day so a holiday in New Zealand). And I instinctively reached for Vogue 1250, no dithering about which pattern to use. Really not a typical Creates Sew Slow make. I didn't even use the seam ripper during construction.

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 1250 Elevenses Dress

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 1250 Elevenses DressCreates Sew Slow: Vogue 1250 Elevenses Dress

Wearing this dress to work made me feel good.  Another successful iteration of Vogue 1250.

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 1250 Elevenses Dress

The fabric

Another Liberty of London Ganton 100% cotton jersey, from The Fabric Store, this time a pattern called Elevenses in the azure colourway. Described by the Fabric Store as a bold and bright china teapot and teacup print in azure blue, crimson and sunflower yellow on a crisp white base.

Creates Sew Slow: Fabric Store Liberty Elevenses in Azure

There is enough fabric left over that it could be combined with something else to become a creative top of some sort. Or maybe this is when it sits in the stash for the next 20 years.


The pattern

My third version of Vogue 1250, a DKNY pattern simply described as a close fitting dress.

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 1250


The pattern alterations

This is a TNT pattern with alterations that allow it to be used straight out of the envelope. From memory my version has a deeper cowl facing; forward shoulder adjustment; raised armholes (to eliminate bra exposure) and 3/8 inch seam allowances.

The sewing

As usual pretty straight forward on the overlocker.  The back neck seam allowance is pressed under and stitched down on the sewing machine with a straight stitch - no back neck facing for me.

The armhole hem allowance is pressed under, but not stitched down, before the shoulder and side seams are sewn. The back armhole hem is sewn turned under when the side seam is overlocked.  Once the side and shoulder seams are overlocked the whole armhole edge is turned under and straight stitched in place. This makes the finished armhole edge much neater.


The major change to how I normally sew this dress is that I actually hand stitched the hem. Just didn't want that line of stitching marring the fabric pattern.


The styling

No styling just an outtake from the photo shoot. The photographer was making fun of my toy soldier pose so I started being stupid and he captured it for posterity. That pose looked much better in my head, in reality it's more akin to the dance from the Morecambe and Wise show.

Creates Sew Slow: Vogue 1250 Elevenses Dress

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Self-drafted Tessuti Leggings

So I finally used my self-drafted leggings pattern to make actual leggings, as opposed to the samples made in class back in July 2016.  The class was excellent, ably taught by Audsley Jones at The Make Company. There were only two of us and it was a very pleasant way to while away a Saturday afternoon.

The finished garment

Love these leggings - not surprisingly they fit well and the fabric makes a difference from the usual boring black.

Creates Sew Slow: Self-drafted Tessuti LeggingsCreates Sew Slow: Self-drafted Tessuti Leggings

The fabric

This fabric came from Tessuti Fabrics within the last couple of years. It is a lovely soft knit but I have no idea of its composition. Not sure it is entirely suitable for leggings and it is possible they won't wear that well.

Creates Sew Slow: Tessuti knit fabric

The fabric does have two-way stretch which is probably essential for leggings. In order to fit the pattern on the fabric the maximum stretch goes up and down the body rather than around.  There is still enough stretch around the body to make these leggings comfortable.


The pattern

I took my measurements according to the instructions and made the pattern last year in class.  For some reason both myself and my classmate ended up with leggings that were way too long. So when I got home I re-measured myself and adjusted the pattern.  These leggings only have an inseam (no seam on the outer leg) which makes the knee area baggy if you don't have enough negative ease but this is easy enough to adjust when you sew them. Being self drafted you can decide how high you want the waistband to come - for me it is just slightly below my belly button.

Creates Sew Slow: Self-drafted leggings pattern

Creates Sew Slow: Self-drafted leggings pattern

If you want to make your own self-drafted leggings the Live Free Creative Co has a good how to guide for both the drafting and sewing. The drafting is simple - a great project if you have never drafted a garment before from scratch.


The sewing

Couldn't be easier. The drafting instructions advise you to use 1" or 3/8" seam allowances depending on the stretchiness of your fabric.  Despite using the crosswise grain with less stretch I still needed to use 1" seam allowances to get the appropriate negative ease.

The inseam of both legs is sewn on the overlocker, then one leg is put inside the other right sides together matching the inseams and the crotch curve overlocked. The hem is turned up on both legs and stitched with a straight stitch on the sewing machine using a ballpoint needle.

For the waistband I used 2" elastic purchased from Silhouette Patterns in a 50 yard roll, which will probably have perished before I use it all. My personal preference is to use wider elastic for waistbands as I find it more comfortable and it helps hold in the tummy. The elastic was cut the same size as my waist then overlapped 1.25" and a large cross sewn to hold the overlapped edges together. The elastic circle was quartered and matched at quarter points on the leggings. The overlapped elastic was placed at the centre back seam. The elastic was overlocked onto the leggings waistband, the fabric / elastic were then turned under and straight stitched in place once again using a ballpoint needle in the sewing machine.

Creates Sew Slow: Self-drafted Tessuti Leggings

It really helps having your garment label in these leggings as it identifies centre back, which despite being higher than centre front I struggled to find when I tried them on pre-label.

The styling

Here are my leggings worn with The Sewing Workshop Bristol Top I made last year, and United Nude Step Mobius ankle booties which you can't really see.

Creates Sew Slow: Self-drafted Tessuti Leggings

And worn with a Storm Well Covered Poncho and my Arche Tykado ankle booties, out in the late afternoon sun.


Arty angle shot photos courtesy of my beloved, who is finding this blogging lark a bit tedious and is worried about my escalating narcissism - hence no head.