Monday, 28 July 2014

The Soma is hot this summer!

I've  decided to sew a swimsuit because:
  • all the swimwear I like costs more than I am ready to pay;
  • there is a poor swimsuit selection where I live;
  • I hate the process of trying swimwear on in fitting rooms; 
  • my old one-piece swimsuit has just celebrated its 7th anniversary;
  • I wanted to sew a cool swimsuit!

My doubts about purchasing this pattern disappeared when a friend said:"Hurry up! The summer will end in no time!".  

The pattern is the Soma swimsuit by Papercut Patterns: the sexiest and the trendiest swimwear pattern out there at the moment! If you know anything cuter, more flattering and easy to sew, give me a shout.

When it comes to the sizing, I find that Papercut Pattern adds a rather generous ease. With this in mind, I cut a size XXS for both top and bottom, although according to their size chart my upper body measurements corresponds to a S and the lower part would be a M. As the result, the swimsuit fits well enough.

Both the lycra and the lining come from the Okadaya, one of my favourite craft shops in Tokyo, where I bought it last summer. Due to the fabric's thickness and one additional layer of lining, I could feel the bulk in some areas, particularly around the waist. I wish I knew some tips to eliminate the bulkiness. Anyone?

When I started researching online sources for the fold-over elastic (FOE) and bra strapping, it turned out that I would be better off making my own than having them shipped to Ireland. Most US websites' estimated shipping added up to $50 and UK sites offered a mere £20! Instead of making tons of silly purchases to justify spending $50 on shipping, it took me less than one hour and some self fabric to produce 3 metres of straps!

I used this tutorial, Method 1, for the straps. As for the FOE, I cut a 3cm wide strip of fabric on the crosswise grain and sewed together folding in two, as if I had made a wide spaghetti strap.

I really like the high rise bottom part and how it hugs my body. Last weekend I have baptized it in the Irish Sea! Good news though, the swimsuit did not fall off in the sea!

By the way, the Papercut Collective girls are in the midst of running a Soma tutorial. So hurry up and buy your fabric and supplies because it may ran out: everybody needs a Soma!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Hand stitched hem

Whilst we're seeing many cool new patterns appear every week, I am sticking with creating my Spring/Summer capsule wardrobe.

In this post, I would like to cover some of the sewing choices in advance of sewing the Dotty blouse by Style Arc. 

As you can see from the technical drawing above, the pattern instructions suggest to fold back front facing and stay stitch along the seam on both sides of neckline, left and right. But the drawings from their website don't explicitly show the stitching. In addition, I personally think that the blouse would look nicer without the stitching line, damaging the floaty look of my crepe-de-Chine.

Therefore, I have made a very important hand-stitching decision: to use a blind hem for the neck. Two of my favourite sewing books suggest slightly different hand-sewing techniques for the hem.  For my type of fabric, Claire Shaeffer in her "Couture Sewing Techniques"suggests to use blind-stitching. Following her advice, before I attach the hem to the seam allowance, I would also need to overcast the raw edge to prevent raveling. But on my opinion, this would give me unnecessary hand work + extra bulk. As much as I like hand sewing, it still can't hurt to optimize my sewing.

So I cast my eyes to another great sewing book by Line Jaque, "Coudre vite et bien" ("Sew fast and good"). This book deserve some special attention, but because it only exists French, I was not sure whether I should talk about it. Madame Jaque wrote this book as a manual for both beginners and professionals and covers tonnes of sewing techniques for machine- and hand-sewing. Her method of blind-stitch that I will be using is called le rouleauté meaning "rolled hem".

The principle is somehow similar to blind-stitching with the only difference, instead of being overcast, the raw edge is folded inside. The stitch then runs in the middle of this "roll", sandwiched between two layers of fabric, and is invisible from the outside. Not that I am worried about it (I doubt that anybody will look inside my neckline!) but in the case with the Dotty blouse, this finish should look neater and seems more logical to me.

I am sure there are other techniques which I am not aware of! If you had to sew this blouse, what kind of finish would you apply for the neckline? 

Friday, 18 July 2014

Summer casualwear : Nettie bodysuit and Origami skirt

To bring you up to speed with my unblogged projects, I'll start with this casual pair.

Heather from Closet Case File knew what she did when she released her Nettie bodysuit because everybody needs one! I don't like to tuck my tops in. But a bodysuit - it's another story: it would stay perfectly in place whatever your body movements are!

I decided to go with the low back variation in size 4. Although, according to the measurements, I should be a size 6, my fabric had enough stretch to fit into a 4. I did not make any adjustments but I wish the armholes were located slightly lower.  Next time I would redraft and position them lower by approximately 3 cm. The armholes are not tight or anything but you can clearly see from pictures that my biceps don't fit the armhole which creates wrinkles. But, hey, I should have muslined it beforehand!

For this Nettie, I did not add bra cups but used super-duper adhesive bra cups from Women's Secret. I bought them when I studied in Barcelona in 2003 and they still work, I swear! On average, I use them once or twice a year and clean after each wear. I don't know how they work for girls with bigger breasts but for my 34A they do wonders and I would recommend them to anyone who enjoys dresses with opened backs.
Magic adhesive bra cups!

Sewing the Nettie with a low back, I had to overcome another personal hang-up : a scar left after heart surgery. This scar contributed to so many complexes and feelings of un-femininity that when I was a teenager I never kept my back straight let alone wear a dress with opened back. Now I really don't care!

Last month, I had the honour of meeting the adorable Maria, a.k.a Velosewer, who stopped in Dublin overnight on her way to the Northern Ireland. Seriously, bloggers' generosity knows no bounds: Maria brought me some knit fabric all the way from Sydney! The fabric is a medium-weight knit, very soft and drapes nicely. As soon as I sew it, I knew which pattern I'd use it for: the Origami skirt by Klein Format. The Origami skirt #1, which I sewed from a woven fabric in the past, became a real staple in my wardrobe.

I enjoy sewing casual outfits, especially for the very practical reasons: since I moved to Dublin, I cycle everywhere and, let's be honest, pencil skirts are not super practical for biking. So I decided to alternate: cycle one week and wear more casual clothes, then walk to work on another week in fancy dresses.

Does your lifestyle/commute also dictate what you wear?

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Scottish Whisky Boat Trip

Is it OK that instead of swimsuits or skirts and dresses I post photos from my holiday? Last week I spent on a boat, sailing from one Scottish Isle to another, tasting whisky. The trip was so amazing that I can't help sharing with you some of my photo-memories!  I'll be back shortly with several unblogged projects.