Grainline Studio – Morris Blazer

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Hey everybody, how are you doing? My week didn’t start exceptionally well as my throat is in flames and I feel pretty floppy, but I’m sure I’ll get better soon! Let’s talk about something more cheerful, shall we? Have you seen the latest addition to the Grainline Studio patterns? It’s the amazing Morris blazer which can be made up both in knit and stretch woven fabrics. I was very excited when I first saw it and I became even more excited when I found the right fabric in my stash. I bought this double knit on Etsy, from Miss Matatabi, and I love it. It’s extremely soft, has polka dots and on top of that is double face! Perfection, if you ask me. As you can see, I’ve chosen the navy side as the dominant color and used the ivory side as contrast for the collar and sleeves facings.

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I decided to skip making a muslin because I was using a knit fabric, but I know I’ve forward shoulders so I’ve adjusted the paper pattern right away. I’ve pivoted the shoulder line, moving it forward by 1 cm and also moved by the same amount the sleeve cap, so the notches would still match up, and I think it all worked out ok. I’ve also lengthened the body pieces by 2.5 cm because I like my jackets to cover my waist as I can’t stand getting cold around that part of my body. Apart from that, I cut a straight size 8. I’ve chosen the size that fit better my bust and shoulders area, even if my waist measurement fall in a size 6. I think the little extra room at the bottom doesn’t affect the look of the blazer and I’m happy with the fit.

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The sleeves are slightly falling off my shoulders, but I think it’s all fault of the stretch in the material I’ve used and I’m confident they’d look all right in a more stable knit or stretch woven. If I’m gonna make this patterns again in a knit fabric, I’m gonna stabilize the shoulder seams with some tape, which I totally forgot to do this time. I might add some if they keep stretching out of shape, we’ll see what happens.

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Sewing together this blazer was quite enjoyable and easy and the whole construction is very clever. The only thing I might do differently – above all if using a woven material – is sewing the sleeve facings and understitch them before sewing together the sleeve itself. I find the process of stitching small circumferences very annoying and I rather avoid it when I can. I’ve to admit I’ve cut deeper facings, as I wanted to roll up the sleeves to show the other side of the fabric, so probably it contributed in making that step even more ‘painful’. Anyhow, not big deal.

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As other bloggers already noted – see the cute versions of the Morris by Lizzy and Ginger – the front facings tend to collapse towards the bottom, probably because of the weight of the collar, creating some sagging lines. To avoid that, I’ve hand stitched them down and the problem was solved. I tried to use the sewing machine, but the two lawyers of fabric kept shifting creating even more unwanted ripples and it didn’t look nice at all, so catch stitching it was.

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I’m really curious to make a stretch woven version of the Morris, even if sleeves in less stretchy material are not exactly my best friends. I’m still trying to fix my shirt, which is now hanging in a corner, full of pins, waiting for me to become brave enough so I can deal with it. I really hope this pattern is gonna work for me because it’s the perfect shape/weight for this season in this sort of climate – not too heavy and easy to wear on top of t-shirts.
I’m on the lookout for a nice stretch linen in a sort of magenta/wine color but it looks like it’s impossible to find so I might need to direct my searches towards a stretch cotton sateen instead. Which means I’ll probably end up buying some more floral sateen. Whatever.

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Have a good week, everyone!

A Wee Quilt

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Happy Sunday everybody! How is your Anzac weekend going? Here in central Queensland the weather has been extremely good: blue sky, lots of sun and finally a nice temperature. Perfect for yesterday Anzac’s dawn service.

In the last few weeks I’ve been trying to fit a shirt. I’ve put aside the Granville and swapped it for B5678, which suits my body shape a bit better. It still needs loads of adjustments to fit me right and I’m on my third muslin right now, trying to understand what to change to make it better. It’s not an easy path and I feel quite overwhelmed and not up to the task, but I’ll get there eventually. I’m a bit demotivated and to get my sew-jo back I thought to make something fun and easy.

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An Italian friend is about to have a baby boy and mum asked me to make something for him. I initially thought about knitting a little cot blanket, but then I’ve seen this lovely circus themed fabric panel and decided to make a quilt instead. I find those animals so cute that I couldn’t resist!

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Needless to say, it has been a much easier project than the first quilt I’ve ever made. All I had to do here, was to chose a backing, sandwich a layer of batting in between the two pieces of fabric and quilt it. No need of joining any piece together, so it has been a very quick make too.

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I’ve used my sewing machine for the longest and straightest lines and quilted the smallest details by hand instead. It has been my first go at hand quilting and I’ve quite enjoyed the process: it’s obviously quite slow, but once you get the hang of it, stitches flow faster and faster.

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As you can see, there are a few ‘bubbles’ here and there. That’s all the fault of my sewing machine that decided to start changing stitch length by itself, creating very small stitches now and then. I couldn’t understand why – my sample came out perfect! – so I’ve decided to leave the stitching as is and call those bubbles a design element. Next week I’ll bring the sewing machine to the mechanic and see what happens.

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For the binding, I’ve used some poplin I had in my stash which matches very well the dark blue of the panel and the red and white polka dots of the backing. I really like all these fabrics together, I think they create a very happy quilt. So, that’s what I’ve been up to lately – plus a gorgeous red Ondawa on my needles. What are you making instead?

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Dad’s Pullover

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Happy hump day everybody! How is your week going? Mine has been pretty good so far. I finally got back to jogging, the weather is nice and slightly cooler and as I’m going nuts about shirt-making, I’ve finished a knitting project.

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I decided to knit my Dad a pullover with some leftover yarns I had around, so I could kill two birds with one stone! I really can’t stand wasting yarn, above all when it’s a precious one, so I’ve put together a sort of gradient scale with five different sort of greens and I’ve added a neutral to blend them all together. Also, I’ve mixed two different yarns, my ever favorite Cephalopod Yarns Traveller and Tanis Fiber Arts DK Yellow Label. They really knit up very well together and you can’t really tell the difference unless you look very closely. The weight is basically the same, Traveller is a bit softer thought.

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From the bottom up, I’ve used: TFA Spruce, TFA Olive – left overs from this zip up cardigan, CY Peaks of Otter – from my Oranje, CY What Cheer and San Francisco Bay – both from my Bluesand Cardigan. The beige one is a  CY Traveller custom made color: it complements nicely all the other green-aquas, highlighting rather than of overpowering them.

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As you can see from the photos, this pullover is way too big for me, but I’m pretty confident it will be perfect for my dad. Because I wanted to knit the sleeves in the contrasting color, I’ve knit them separately and then sewn them to the body. The last time I’ve constructed a sweater this way, it was ages ago, years even, and I’m impressed by how smoothly everything went together. I was worried I couldn’t do it and I was already ready to post the pullover home and let my mum put it together, but I did it! Even if the seaming came out pretty good, I’m not in love with the shape of these sort of sleeves. I prefer the look of yokes knitted in the round along with the body, in a whole piece, but that’s me. Anyhow, I’ve knitted the body in the round and then front and back separately and joined them at the shoulders with a three needles bind off. The sleeves have been knitted flat and then sewn to the body. Here it is a very clear tutorial on how to do that, on Knitty.com.

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I’ve added some stripes to the sleeves to echo the colors used in the body. I really wanted to avoid those sort of patchwork sweaters that you can guess from far far away that they’re made out of leftovers and I hope I’ve succeeded. I love every single color I’ve used and I like the fact they’ll always remind me of other projects I’ve knitted. As you can guess, I’m very attached to what I make!

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Now I need some very selfish knitting and I’m looking for the perfect pattern. I want cables, lots of them and I’m thinking to cast on Ondawa by Michel Wang for Brooklyn Tweed. Or maybe Chainlink by Norah Gaughan, again for BT? What’s on your needles instead?

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Sewaholic – Granville Shirt

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Happy Easter everybody! Did the Easter Bunny pay you a visit yet? Here brought some chocolate, but you know how it goes, it’s never enough! :) Today I want to share with you my first go at the Granville Shirt by Sewaholic. It didn’t turn out as good as I wished, thought. I fell in love with this pattern as soon as I saw it and I decided to sew it even if I’m not pear shaped and I knew I had to make few alterations. As everybody knows, in fact, Sewaholic patterns are designed to be flattering on ladies with a more heavier bottom so, who like me, has a totally different figure, needs to modify them. Mind you, I need adjustments on patterns from other companies too, so I think it’s not a big deal. It’s nearly impossible for me to find a pattern that fits me straight out of the envelope and I guess it’s the same for most of us.

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I had a very hard time trying to decide which size to make. First of all because the finished ease for the size I was supposed to cut at the bust is quite a lot, considering we’re talking about a slim fit shirt. Looking at the photos of the lady modeling the Granville on the Sewaholic website, I can’t really see and believe she’s wearing a shirt with that much ease. Secondly, my measurements fall in three different sizes: my bust is nearly an 8, my waist a 4 and my hips a 0. That said, I traced a size 6 at the bust (and sleeves), grading down to a 4 at the waist and to a 0 at the hem. The Granville has a very accentuate waist curve and I thought that if I cut an 8 at the bust, it wouldn’t connect smoothly to the size 4 at the waist and look silly instead.

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The only adjustment I made before cutting into my fashion fabric, was to eliminate some of the fabric excess at the back, horizontally, where the waist is, because I know I’ve a sway back sort of thing. I’m also conscious of my forward shoulder/head and rounded high back, but I really didn’t know how to alter the back yoke without messing the armhole and sleeves placement so I left these adjustments out. Wrong, very wrong!
Anyhow, I took my time in sewing this shirt. I really tried to do my best on the topstitching and the collar and I think I really did a pretty good job. But, there is always a but. Once the shirt was finished, it didn’t fit properly. All my fault, I didn’t bother making a muslin and I basically sew ‘blindly’ until I was done. The reason? I’ve always avoided garments with sleeves because I know I’ve many problems in the shoulders and bust areas but I don’t really know how to correctly solve them. The main problem here is the fact that I can’t raise my arms without the risk of ripping open the back of the shirt. It also feels fairly uncomfortable. You can see what I mean in the photo below.

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Also, my rotated shoulders cause this unflattering pulling at the back of the sleeves and therefore the sleeve hem isn’t parallel to the floor as it should be. I think I need more fabric somewhere towards the front of the sleeve cap. Maybe. Plus, the center sleeve is not aligned with my shoulder line, and it looks like the shirt is falling off my shoulders, towards the back, so I need some more length there. In fact, the yoke front seam is on top of my shoulders, instead of being towards the front where it should be.

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At the back, there is still a little excess fabric at the waist and if you look closely you can also see the yoke seam is curving down at the sides. I think this is all fault of the rounded high back. I also know I’ve prominent shoulder blades, which this hearts print camouflage well, so I might need to fix this problem too. I suppose the pulling on the armhole is an effect of all these issues together. But I might be wrong, of course.

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Finally, at the front, you can see I might do with some more room on my boobies area. The button is under a slightly pressure and the side pulling from both upper arm and waist, point towards my breasts. Not enough room then. Also the dart is probably slightly too low, but you can barely see it as is lost in this busy print.

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I think I know the causes of all these fitting issues, the problem is I’m not sure where to start solving them. Should I go up a size at the bust and see what happens? Should I stay with this size/s and try to create the room I need for all my bumps? Any advice is very much appreciate.
Despite all these problems, I tried to be as accurate as possible in my sewing and I’m very happy with what I’ve done. This is my third collar and by far the best one. Tasia’s instructions are a bit different from what I’ve seen on other patterns and with the help of her blog posts, I was able to sew a very nice collar.

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I also nearly got all the hearts matching on the pocket, apart from the side where the dart is, obviously.

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The print was screaming for orange accents, so I made sure to cut the inside yoke and collar stand out of some orange poplin. Also, I hemmed the shirt with orange bias binding – I find it easier than folding the hem twice and stitching it in place – and used orange thread for all the topstitching and button holes.

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And of course orange buttons!

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One last thing, as you can see I’ve gone for short sleeves. I don’t really wear long sleeve garments here, so I’ve just decided how short I wanted them to be, cut the pattern there and added faux rolled up cuffs. I really like the look.

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It’s not perfect, but I love this shirt, maybe because of all these hearts, or better because wearing fitted button downs is just so nice. I really want to get this pattern fit me right and to do so I’ve already enrolled a Crafty course on fitting and started on my muslin. I’ll let you know what happens!
Have a sweet Easter Everyone!

McCalls 6760 as Culottes

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Hey everybody! Another week is gone and Easter is nearly here. I think I’m gonna spend the few days I’ll have off sewing and hopefully eating loads of chocolate! What have you planned instead for the holidays?

Last week I’ve shown you my first pair of culottes, today I’ve another one! I’m in a serious culottes-mode at the moment and I can’t wait to get my hands on the new Butterick and Vogue patterns for more options. Here in Australia we are a pattern season behind and I’m itching to buy the new releases!
For this second try, I wanted something with a bit less flare than the Tanias, just to play a bit with the width of the legs and also with a different shape. I was curious to see how I’d look in a slightly slimmer culottes, so here they are. As you may guess, I’m still trying to understand which style suits me the best.

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This is an adaptation of M6760. It’s a jumpsuit pattern, but it wasn’t hard to modify to get a pair of culottes out of it. I’ve basically traced the leg pattern pieces and shortened them by 31cm, slashing and overlapping so the bottom is still the original width. I then trued the side seams and that’s it.
To get the fit right, I’ve done a 2 cm sway back/flat derrière adjustment, removing the excess just below the back seam allowance, tapering to nothing at the sides. Also, as I chose the size based on my hips measurements (size 8), I’ve narrowed the seam allowance to 1 cm at the side seams at the waist, gaining the 2 cm total I needed there. I’ve also left out the inseam pockets as I really don’t use them a lot and I prefer the look of classic trousers pockets better.
Looking at the pants spread open, I probably could have reduced the crotch length of a few cm. As I said, this pattern is designed to be a jumpsuit and therefore the crotch has to be longer to allow for movements, when joined to the bodice. If I’m gonna make another pair, I’ll give this modification a go.

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For the waistband I’ve used the BHL Charlotte Skirt pattern piece as I l really like its width. When I sew it in thou, it was gaping a bit so I’ve stitched a dart in correspondence of the side seams, creating a sort of shaped waistband. You might also have noticed – or maybe not because it should be invisible! – that I’ve moved the zipper to the side. This was completely a boo boo, as I’ve accidentally sewn the center back seam close and serged it. Instead of removing all the stitching, I’ve moved the zipper. Not a big deal, I think.

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For a neater and nicer inside, for the first time, I’ve used some bias binding to finish the edge of the waistband facing. Why I’ve never done it before?? It looks so professional! No more trying to blindly catch the folded facing while stitching in the ditch from the right side for me, thank you very much.

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The fabric I’ve used is a floral cotton sateen left over from my BHL Georgia Dress. I really like the print and it is the perfect weight for bottoms. This sateen holds beautifully the wide legs shape, without collapsing and draping too much. To accentuate the width of the legs even more, I’ve hemmed the culottes with 5 cm horsehair braid, which I was able to find in this lovely matching gray. I bought it online from a millinery shop and they carry all the colors in three different width and I was really tempted in buying every single one!

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I’m very happy with the look of this culottes, but I probably prefer the Tanias. Maybe I could try to sew them up using this kind of material and see how they look. I’ve another cotton sateen with big blue flowers that would be perfect. What do you think? Too much body for the Tanias? Tell me.

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Midi Tania Culottes

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Happy Sunday everybody! Autumn is here, but the weather is still warm and sunny, so not much to complain about, I guess. But let’s talk about sewing and let’s talk about culottes, please! I’m seriously obsessed with this sort of pants, that’s why my latest makes are two pairs of them. As you might guess, I’m very easily influenced by the mass trends and I often try to imitate what is see in the shops or on the magazines. I know it’s not one of the most original ways to put together a garment or outfit, but I like to think I add to it my own share of creativity sourcing the suitable materials in the colors and the prints I like and also adapting patterns to achieve a certain look. And if not so, at least what I make is of better quality of whatever I usually find in the shops.

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Anyhow, I’ve always been convinced that culottes wouldn’t suit me, but then I thought it was all about finding the right shape. I was just doing that when Megan Nielsen came up with this awesome tutorial on how to make midi length Tanias. It was a matter of just a few days and I was already tracing and cutting my own pair!
Megan’s tutorial is very easy to follow and the pattern alteration didn’t take long at all. Megan suggests to make your modifications based on how much ease you want at hip level. I add, make your decision based on how much fabric you have on hand or want to use as this is a well known fabric-eater pattern. I didn’t want to splurge on fabric too much, so I did my best to make the pieces fit in a 60″ wide material folded in half. I basically traced a size S from the original Tanias and then slashed and overlapped to about 29 cm at hip level, included seam allowances. The length you want your culottes to be is also a factor to keep in mind when altering the pattern: obviously, the longer the leg, the more fabric you need. I lengthen mine of about 28 cm from a size L hem.

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Being this pair a trial, I decided to use a cheap fabric and I’ve opted for some polyester suiting in this sort of light army green. The marvelous fact about polyester is that barely needs ironing and I can basically wash this garment and wear it straight away once dry. Very easy to care. I’m pretty sure I’ve only used 1.8m of fabric and I could have probably been able to squeeze the culottes out of 1.7m if the material wasn’t cut all crooked.
As with my previous pair of Tanias, I let them hang for over a day to let the fabric relax before the hemming. Then it took us – Owen helped a lot! – a whole afternoon to get the bloody hem right and I think we could have made it a bit more even, but It’s ok. For the hem itself, I’ve run a line of stitching a 1/4″ from the raw edge, folded the hem under following the stitch line and then folded again. Heaps of steam and pins helped keeping the hem in place while I’ve machine stitched it down. Easy breezy even if a bit time consuming being the culottes legs pretty wide – the downside of DIY I suppose.

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I’m very happy with this first pair of longer midi and I think I’m not going to modify the pattern any further. I like the overall ease and the length too, even if making a full length of culottes-pants is very tempting! Fabric wise, next time I want to use something lighter to see the difference the fabric can make over the look of this pattern, I just want to find something opaque so I don’t need to hem a lining too ;)
Tell me, have you been trapped into the culottes-mania too? My second pair is on its way…

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In Swim Style!

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Hi everybody! It has been a long time since I wrote my last post, more than a month, but fear not: I’m back! Today we finally hit the beach – literally, as there was low tide and no sign of ocean! – to take some photos of my latest make. Let me said it out loud: I’ve made a bikini! A bikini!!! But let me show you the no-water beach first . I really find this amazing and strange at the same time, in Italy we don’t have this sort of tide changes and the sea is always there for you to enjoy… very different isn’t it?

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Anyway, as it often happens with me, it all begun with the fabric. I regularly check the new arrivals section on the Tessuti website: they always list beautiful fabrics and several months ago I set my eyes on an awesome cherry print swimwear Lycra in pink. I simply had to have it, even if I’ve never sewn with this kind of material before and I had no swimsuits in my plans either. It took me a few days to finally decide I really needed that fabric in my life, so I bought some along with a matching plain pink one. This fabric is now out of stock on the website, but there is some left in aqua and let me be honest, I’m doing my best not to buy it. It must be because of the cherries!

Once I got the fabric, I needed a pattern. At the time everybody was going mad for the Papercut Soma Swimsuit and the few versions I’ve seen around the blogosphere let me decide to buy it. It really is a very cute pattern, my favorite variation is the one with the bustier style top and front triangle detail. I tried to make it, in a cheap black Lycra as I didn’t feel confident to cut into that awesome cherry print yet, but the size I chose was completely wrong, too big, and so I left my yummy cherries rot in a corner until today.

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It took me months to finally decide to give swimwear another go. Probably and partly because of the lack of nice patterns for this sort of garments: I find the ones by the Big4 pretty dated-looking and there were very few other alternative options around (now that the new Named Ticket Collection is out I can say I’m in love with their bikini and can’t wait to make one!). Anyhow, I then stumbled over an Australian swimwear pattern company that I’ve never heard of, Swim Style, and really liked their bikinis. I bought two straight away, the Sun Lover and the Bandeau Bikini and ended up making the first one as it is a bit easier.

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The Sun Lover bikini includes two styles of briefs, high and low waist, which I chose, and has bra cups inserted between two layers of lining. I really appreciate this as I’d never wear a bikini without the protection of foam cups. The straps are crossed over the back and threaded thought the casing at the center back. More about it later on. The pants back continues toward the front, creating a flattering panel which gives you the opportunity to play with color blocking or different prints.

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I cut a size 10 for both top and bottom and I’m pretty happy with the fit. I followed the instructions step by step and didn’t have any problems – wording and diagrams are clear enough and I loved the elastic measurements charts telling you the exact length of elastic needed for each size. I found this very helpful as I often wonder how much should I stretch the elastic as I sew, usually resulting in a too tight or too loose application. I think this is a great tip, this way you are pretty much sure your bikini will hug you nicely without cutting into your skin or dropping off you. It’s the first time I find this sort of information in a pattern and I’m extremely happy about it. On the other hand, I haven’t sewn lots of knit garments yet, so maybe there are other companies out there suggesting elastic measurements.

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Once my top was finished, I tried it on and noticed that the back sections weren’t staying put, but they were collapsing under the pressure and the pulling of the straps fed through the casing instead. I think it’s the same sort of problem I’ve seen written somewhere about the Soma Swimsuit with the back cross over elastic, the back bands collapsing in an unwanted way. It wasn’t a very appealing look for a bikini so I tried to fix the problem inserting some boning at side seam points and next to the back casing. This helped, but didn’t solve completely the issue so I had to find another way to keep the top closed and flat at the same time. I decided to un-stitch the casing and sew the two ends together, eliminating the opening – there is enough room for me to put the top on and off without rip it open and I’m now happy with how the back looks. If I’d sew it again, I’d probably cut the top out of a unique piece or add side seams, eliminating all together the center back opening/seam. I’d also insert the boning before sewing the binding for a more neat finish, to hide the ends of the casing.

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The bikini is constructed so that all the seams are encased and the resulting look is very professional. The only step I’ve done differently was sewing the straps following the Papercut tutorial here. To form the straps, the Sun Lover has you to fold and tuck under the binding and top-stitch it as you go, which I find rather annoying as it is hard to keep everything in place and aligned using such a slippery fabric. The Papercut method instead, is way faster and easier: just sew the straps right sides together to reach the edge of the top binding, turn them right side out and top stitch. Easy breezy.

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I’m very happy with this top, even if it’s quite different from the store bought ones I have, offering a bit more coverage than what I usually reach for. I find it very comfortable though and surely I won’t be worried of flashing too much skin on the beach. Similarly, the briefs are quite low cut too, covering a good amount of bum. I don’t find this style particularly flattering on me, but I do love the front panel so I think I’m gonna wear this pants a lot anyway. For a more tan-friendly sort of bottom, I’ve sewn up another pair of briefs too, the low rise ones from the Soma pattern. There is only one problem, can you spot it? Of course you can, the print on this pair is bloody upside down! What was I thinking of when I cut them?? Argh! Too bad, I’m gonna wear them no matter what and one day I’ll make another pair with the print going the right way, but at the moment I’m too annoyed to even think about it. How stupid!

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The back of this pair of briefs is plain pink, I really like playing around with color blocking!

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About the rest of the supplies, the white swimwear lining I used comes from Booby Traps, the molded foam bra cups – which was a real pain finding in the right shape – are by Sullivan, and 1cm wide elastic and thread are from a local shop. That’s all.

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Sewing with Lycra is definitely more challenging than sewing with a jersey or other knit, but it’s nonetheless doable. I’ve completely sewn this bikini on my sewing machine, without using the serger or a walking foot – as it was badly pulling the threads of the lining – and the whole process hasn’t been that stressful either. I’ve used a 75 stretch needle and the zig zag stitch for all my seams, a narrow one for the seams and the widest for the top-stitching. I find sewing small projects is way more time consuming than stitching together a dress or a skirt, but it’s very rewarding as well. There are a lot of little details to take care of and it’s harder to get seams matching on such small pieces, but if you get things right, the result is a unique piece of art. I did my best here and surely there is room for improvement, but at least I’m familiarizing with this sort of material and trying to learn the best way to handle it. I’m curious to try other swimwear patterns above all now that I’ve stocked up on some very cute Lycra prints in Melbourne! Here in Australia is already autumn, but temperature are still warm so you’ll probably see a Beverly Twisted Bikini very soon…

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