Monday, July 21, 2014

Oonapalooza wrap dress!

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are gathered here to today to honour our dear sage and guide, OonaBalloona of Kalkatroona.


OonaPalooza wrap dress by Christine Jonson

Who else is there who whips up crazily patterned, eye-poppingly coloured and extravagantly swooshy dresses practically twice a week? Who else regales us of her drinking adventures and dresses up as a pink powderpuff alien overlord ? No-one, that's who. There's a special place in the world for our dear Oona.

Therefore, I felt it only fitting to combine the goodness of Cashmerette + Oonaworld (I believe the fashion world would call this Cashmerette X Oona) in an Oonapalooza wrap dress. And then to pull funny poses in an alleyway. FOR THAT IS THE WAY OF OUR FEARLESS LEADER.

Is this my best Oona face? Why yes it is. Hey girl!

If the dress looks familiar, you are not mistaken. It is my darling Christine Jonson pattern, smeared with my grubby fingerprints and rotary cut once again (it is no doubt getting slightly smaller every time, for my rotary cutting skills are poor, as my fingertip will attest). I used a fab quality jersey that I believe my dear Mum bought me last time I was in the UK, at John Lewis (please, America, bring John Lewis over here). I hope that Ms. Balloona finds it worthy.

For the neckline I have now perfected my technique: basically a t-shirt band, serged to the right side of the neckline, flipped over, and then "understitched" with a coverstitch.

And now onto the back.

Oh dear.

See the problem? Is it symmetrical over my spine? Not it is not. It's like... 3 inches out. D'OH! I am mightily annoyed at this. However, I rarely (ever?) see my back, so the citizens of the world will just have to cope. I feel that this is an attribute OB will endorse. 

On the plus side: look at that amazing sleeve pattern matching! Entirely a coincidence?! Surely not. 

So that's it! A fun little dress for wearing to the office, hanging out in alleyways, and otherwise painting the town red. I have no doubt it will get lots of use, back non-symmetry, be damned! So let's raise a glass to our dear old Oona and wish her many more years of highly entertaining sewing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Curvy Sewing Collective site launches today!

Man, it's been hard keeping this under wraps.... 

I am super excited to let you know that the Curvy Sewing Collective website, launches today! 

As Cashmerette readers are no doubt already well aware, Mary and I dreamt up the idea this Spring, and teamed up with Laurence, Tanya, Mary, T and Sophie-Lee to form the CSC.  After our successful Curvy Colette blog tour, the whole gang decided we should take it even further, by setting up a new one-stop resource for curvy sewists, covering topics such as pattern reviews for curvy figures, tutorials on common fitting adjustments, body confidence and positivity articles, and inspiration from the sewing world and beyond. 

We want it to be an inclusive community, so you can participate in forums, or submit your own blog post for inclusion - the more folks the better! Have a different body shape to any member of the collective? Tell us about how you do fitting! Have a specific need like maternity wear or lingerie-making? Suggest a topic or write a post! We're hoping that the site will have a life of its own and will become a really useful resource for curvy sewists. It is truly a labour of love for all of us, and we're so glad to be able to launch it. 

What's already on the site? Why, we have (among other things): 

- My curvy fashion idol, Gabi Gregg:

- Sleeve fitting help from T: 
How to adjust sleeves for curvy biceps

- Reviews of plus size dress forms from Tanya:

- A gorgeous TNT review by Mary: 


And is if that weren't enough, we also have a super exciting giveaway. So head on over to the site, and let us know what you think! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Thread Theory Jebediahs en France

I wasn't the only member of my family to have my birthday in Provence this year: both my brothers were celebrating too - in fact, we all have birthdays within 2 weeks of each other. So, I decided to make some boy clothes to celebrate. First up, for Tom I made my first ever proper pair of trousers, the Thread Theory Jebediah shorts. And I'm totally pleased with the result!

These are classic chino-type trousers which you can also make in a cuffed shorts version. I was a bit concerned about the length because I couldn't find anything from Thread Theory about what height man they're designed for. I can tell you that Tom is 6 feet tall and the shorts hit just below his knees which ended up looking pretty good, so bear that in mind if you're making them!

I used a really nice soft olive cotton twill from Mood Fabrics, which turned out to have a bit of stretch in it (although this wasn't mentioned in the listing). I was a bit concerned when it turned up that it wouldn't be suitable for boy trousers, but in fact it was perfect. It's almost slightly suede-y and soft...

The fun of this pattern is all in the details - many of which were very new to me.

First up: fly front! I made these before I made my Katy & Laney fly front tap shorts, and it was definitely a challenge to begin with because there are so many different parts to put together that it's hard to tell if you're doing it correctly. However, then I found the Jebediah sew-along, and in particular the video on the fly front - that made soooooo much more sense than the written directions for me. And I'm pretty pleased with the outcome!

On the back, we have a flat-felled yoke with perfect seam matching if I say so myself...! Also patch pockets with decorative stitching, and belt loops.

Please excuse the apparent slight wedgie in the photos... it's just the way he was standing, I swear they fit!

One really cute detail is the turn ups: Thread Theory recommends doing bound seams on the outside leg so that when they're turned up there's a little peek of the binding. I was going to use purple binding but I had to constantly remind myself to make something suitable for men and not women! It's an endless struggle... Anyhow, I went with a subtle brown pre-made binding. There are actually three types of seaming in these shorts: bound, flat felled (on the inside leg) and serged (on the crotch seam).

The inside waistband is also bound... and yeah, I couldn't resist making that bit purple. And the pockets.

I really enjoyed making these shorts - it's so much easier to fit men's clothes as they're a lot less form-fitting, and it was fun to work with stable fabrics after so much knit sewing. There were definitely some steps that baffled me - the fly front and method of finishing the ends of the waistband especially - but the end result was really polished and I was proud of myself. 

And most importantly: Tom likes them too!

Monday, July 7, 2014

French sailor tap shorts (confused yet?!)

Ever since I spied this ridiculously amazing Robert Kaufmann anchor chambray at Grey's, I knew a second pair of Katy & Laney Tap shorts would be mine. And then, as if by magic, Sarah Grey generously gave me some and so it was fated to happen. 

Flush with courage from my first fly fronts (to be shown shortly), I decided to try View C, which is a more traditional short style with faced pockets and a fly front. They came with me on the family summer vacation to Provence: 

Katy & Laney tap shorts view C

Not pictured: the billions of bees buzzing all around me in the lavender!

Katy & Laney tap shorts view C

This time around, I added 1.5 inches to the waistband - while the size 20 waistband was fine when I was standing up, I do somewhat... expand.. when I sit down, so that extra 1.5 inches makes all the difference comfort-wise. I adjusted the yoke accordingly but did forget to change the pockets, hence there's a little bit of pulling at the pocket joins... oh well, you live and learn.

Lovely as the chambray is, it's pretty light and my last pair made from upholstery fabric seemed to benefit a lot from the weight. So, I also underlined this pair with a midweight blue cotton from the stash - it worked really well, giving the fabric a bit more body and reducing the wrinkles from sitting down all day.

Katy & Laney tap shorts view C

My fly isn't perfect, but it's definitely passable. Just means I'll have to make more pairs..

Katy & Laney tap shorts view C

Special thanks to photographer Tom who valiantly persevered through taking hundreds of photos of his sister's pelvic area, and by the end was a dab hand at "just pull the left hand side down a bit, there's a wrinkle!" and "turn a little bit that way! no the other way! slightly more!". I feel I am teaching him essential life skills.

So, yet another pair of stylish and eminently wearable shorts for the summer wardrobe. I have a funny feeling they won't be the last. Have you made your Katy & Laney tap shorts yet, dear readers? What patterns are your summer staples?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

How to hand smock a child's dress!

One of the joys of making clothing for little kids - and let's face it, particularly for little girls - is you can do ridiculously cute things that may not be entirely suitable for adult clothing. Like contrast smocking on gingham! (No judgement on any adults who are wearing smocked gingham dresses... You go, cuties). 

I recently learned how on my summer smocked dress, so I thought that in true sewing blogger style I would take something I've only done once and show everyone else how to do it :) To wit: ignore my not so accurate stitching, but follow the instructions because I swear they're correct! 

I did this on gingham, which seems approximately 125% easier than using plain fabric and marking on all the dots and not immediately rubbing them off again. However, I am led to believe it's possible. 

1. Start with your thread behind the fabric, and come through at the corner of a gingham square.

2. Go along to the next square to the right, and take a very small stitch

3. Continue moving your needle to the left, and take a tiny stitch under your first one

4. Pull!

Magic smock!

5. Go back over to where you made the stitch on the right, and make another stitch. Basically you're re-stitching over the stitch you just did, and this is what will show on the front of the garment so try to make it neat

6. Repeat over at the next square to the right

7. Once you've finished a row, tie off and start again at the left. This time, stagger in one square so that each stitch is between the two stitches above. Below I also went *down* two stitches, but you can just do one if you want.

And there you have it! A cute little smocked dress for a special little lady in your life. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer smocking

My favourite 5 year old is turning 6 soon, so I decided to whip up a fun little sundress, and as I'd just bought a bolt of gingham for muslin making I thought it would be perfect fabric for the project.

I follow Purl Bee Soho's blog and saw their Smocked Dress and Shirt Pattern a while ago, but forgot about it until I decided to do this project. It has adorable hand-smocking at the neckline, and they recommend doing it with contrasting embroidery thread which creates a lovely effect. 

Purl Bee girl's smocked dress | Cashmerette

And who could resist this gorgeous pattern cover?!

However I have to say that I was a bit disappointed when I got the "pattern". Quotes because... it's not really a pattern. It's a booklet that tells you to cut two rectangles and make bias straps, and a short photo tutorial on smocking, which is a bit steep for $8.50 plus postage. If you were a total beginner it might be helpful for the guidance on how to attach bias strips and so on, but for me it wasn't really necessary. 

That said: gorgeous little dress! My smocking isn't perfect but it definitely worked. I hope she likes it, and it should carry her through quite a while as it'll start as a dress and turn into a tunic over time. I'm always thrilled by how easy kids are to (not) fit, and also how long dresses fit as long as the armholes are large enough - the little lady and her sister are still wearing Oliver+S dresses I made them 2 years ago. 

In the future I think I'll stick to Oliver+S and self-drafted patterns, though. What are you fave children's patterns folks? Any nice little embellishment tips?  I'll post a little hand smocking tutorial too so you can also give it a try!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Mmmmm a Moneta Maternity Maxi!

Continuing in my current selfless sewing spree, here's yet another Colette Moneta!

This time, for my friend Anna who's 24 weeks pregnant and was looking for some casual outfits for summer. I thought a Moneta would be just the ticket, especially with a slightly higher waistline to go above her ever-expanding bump. Please forgive the un-hemmed-ness of the photos below: we wanted to take pics on the roof before the light went! 

Just in case you wondered if she's really pregnant under there....

I made the skirt into a maxi in the usual way: cut the skirt pattern at the shorten/lengthen line, add in as many inches as needed, and then continue the line of the upper skirt piece, which means the bottom hem flares out considerably giving it a pleasing amount of swoosh. I used a really soft lovely jersey from John Lewis which I bought a while ago, and a very light black jersey for the lining. The bodice is a size S, graded out to a size M at the waist and the skirt. 

I think the Moneta is actually a perfect pattern for maternity wear: the gathered skirt has lots of potential for expansion, and the waistline can be altered easily. Hopefully Anna can also wear after she has the baby, although I might just have to re-hem it, because her tummy is definitely pulling it up a bit now. If, of course, I find any time in between cuddling her baby.

Yay for easy fun friend projects! As you can see below, Anna is feeling quite the high roller in her dress.... 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Winner of Katy&Laney tap shorts kit giveaway!

Aaaand the random number generator chose 96, so congratulations....

Toreapage! Please email me at with your contact details. 

 You'll be getting everything you need to make your own super-fabulous pair of anchor chambray tap shorts! Thanks again to Katy and Laney for such a generous giveaway and check out all the great stops on the blog tour below.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bag making with Organic Cotton Plus

When Organic Cotton Plus offered me the chance to try out some of their fabric, I was happy to give it a go after seeing Lladybird and Lucky Lucille's fantastic makes - not to mention the sustainable angle, which is what I do for my day job.

So I made a bag for Cashmerette Lauren!

I chose the Evelyn & Janette twill, being a print lady and all. My original plan was to make a skirt. However, when I got the fabric, it wasn't quite as I imagined - instead of being black and white, it was brown and beige on a canvas "natural" type background, and also a bit heavier than I was expecting (they do have an oz weight listed, but I'm useless at understanding what they mean). Moral of the story: best to order a swatch first.

However, though it was no longer really Jenny-skirt material, it immediately announced itself to be precisely up the alley of dear Lauren, and perfect for a summer-to-fall bag!

Left: photo from Organic Cotton Plus website; Right: my photo of the fabric

I used Amy Butler's Reversible Sunday Sling pattern. Gosh. Well. I haven't made a bag in a long time, but it seems to be the kind of thing a beginner would think "hey! I'm not really confident enough to make a dress yet, so I'll make a bag instead!"


For I swear the instructions for this bag were more complicated than for an evening dress. Crikey! I think partly it's because Butler's patterns don't follow many clothing pattern conventions - for instance, there are no notches;  instead you have to measure various lengths on your actual fabric pieces and mark them with chalk as you go along (inefficient much?). 

There is also yard and yards and yards and yards of interfacing in there, of three different types. I was super glad to get my Singer Magic Press out of the cupboard and into action. I will say though, once all the cutting and interfacing was done, actually putting it together was fairly straightforward. For the sake of expediency I left off all the various pockets.

It has cute tie handles:

And little pleats where the handles meet the bag:

All in all, a nice make! The cotton was great to work with, and clearly high quality, and I would definitely use Organic Cotton Plus again, but make sure I swatched next time.

Do any of you make bags, dear readers? Any favourite patterns? Has Amy Butler ever boggled *your* mind?!
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