Hi folks!

So it looks like I’m capable of doing one post per month. Clearly I am not destined for the successful blogger’s award (if there is such a thing). Truthfully, I do a fair amount of making, but the normal amount of ‘fail’ and an inability to take a decent photo is besmirching my blogging record.

But enough of that – let’s talk raglans!

IPM 2015 One Pattern Four Takes

No idea why, but I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to make raglan t-shirts. I have a favourite one that recently got a huge rip in the sleeve, which made me sad; but what’s a sewing room for if not to fill holes in wardrobes?

I started out with New Look 6054.

New Look 5054

Looks like a normal raglan tee on the pattern, right? Well, yes and no. The sleeve is cut in two pieces, front and back, so you have a seam down the top of the arm. While I didn’t love the idea of that seam, I realised that it would create a more curved profile for the shoulder, so I gave it a go. Being thrifty, though, I made it up out of some recycled tee’s from my refashion stash.

Raglan 1

I quite like the colour combo actually! And there are little sequins on the top left shoulder there. Cute.

Now, while the seam over the top of the arm is shapely, I don’t think it’s worth the extra cutting & sewing time for a t-shirt! And despite taking a bit of excess fabric out at the head of the shoulder there, it doesn’t fit well. So the extra cutting & sewing is not really worth any advantages in fitting.

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So I went trawling around the internet looking for raglan tee patterns. It was a toss-up between Liola’s Zoe Raglan and Hey June’s Lane Raglan. In the end I went for the Zoe, because I really dug the pleated sleeves. For my first muslin, I hit the refashion stash again and used an old martial arts tee I’d picked up at the op shop, plus some black cotton lycra & scraps of animal-print jersey for the neck band.

Raglan 2

To get the bodice pattern on the tee, I had to turn it upside-down, so the kanji & text are upside-down! I don’t really care.

For this muslin I folded out the sleeve pleats on the pattern (just for ease of making a muslin, really) and made the sleeves shorter, and put bands on instead of hemming the sleeves – you can see it looks slightly ‘shiny’ which is the animal print jersey. I made the large, according to my measurements, but It’s a bit longer than I like my t-shirts. However I’ve worn it several times already, and got a few laughs at the dojo for my upside-down text :-)

Muslin number two got the same old-t-shirt treatment. This time I graded to a medium around the armhole and took 3cm out of the length.

Raglan 3

Yes, it’s another martial arts t-shirt.

As you can see the neck band didn’t sit well at all, I think I overstretched it as I was putting it on. Not to worry; this tee was in the refashion pile due to colour-run stains and was always destined to be a pyjama shirt anyway!

Finally it was time to make a real version using proper fabric. I found this nice cottony jersey, with a touch of lycra I think, in a sort of maroon marle at my local cheap fabric store. This time I made a straight medium, but still took the 3cm of length out of the body.

Raglan 4

I LOVE IT!

The pleats worked perfectly!…. Well, they would have, if I hadn’t sewn half of one sleeve inside out and spent the next episode of Doctor Who unpicking triple stitch….

It went together really well. As mentioned I used triple-stitch (lightning-bolt stitch) to do the pleats, but the rest of the seams I did on the overlocker. The neck band (which I topstitched with the double needle) sits nice and flat which I am very pleased with. The hems I serged and then folded under and used my regular machine with a double needle. I can’t seem to get the tension right with the double needle, it always seems to create a little ridge. It’s not too noticeable though, and it could pass for deliberate.

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And then, because you can’t have too much of a good thing, I made a ‘sport’ version, because I liked the designer’s example so much.

Raglan 5

I probably could have gone down to a small, to get a more sporty fit, but mostly I like a loose-fit shirt for exercise so I stayed with the medium. The fabric is a polyester lycra, and the contrast some scraps of nylon lycra (also used here!)

Not wanting to spend an hour triple-stitching the pleats again (seriously, on the red shirt it took FOREVER), I hit on the idea of using the twin needle with a contrast thread. I played with the tension some more – it’s still not right but it smoothed out a bit after I pressed it.

I made a bit of a hash of the contrast piping – you can see the back left is substantially wider than the right!! This is what happens when you are too lazy to tack the piping in first, before serging.

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I finished the hems by overlocking, then turning and stitching down with a zig-zag; the same for the neckband topstitching. The neckband gave me some issues, as my overlocker didn’t really love the bulk at the seams created by the piping, so stretching the neckband to fit got a bit out of whack. I don’t believe it’s too noticeable though.

So – three wearable muslins and two excellent shirts! Total cost of fabric was $12, and the pattern itself was US$7 – what great value, as I’m definitely going to be using it again. It’s such an easy top to make and turned out to be a great fit. Plus the pattern has plenty of versatility – I’m thinking of versions with only some of the pleats, or short sleeves, and maybe I can figure out how to add a thumbhole/handwarmer to the end of the sleeve.

Did you participate in IPM 2015? Was it a challenge? Did you discover new designers, new blogs, new sewing friends?

Hello gentle readers.

Well it’s been Me-Made-May this month, a sewing challenge presented by So, Zo…..

As usual I wasn’t organised enough to really participate and generate daily posts, with photos of my fabulous creations…um…. that is, some things I made. Also, I forgot to actually make the pledge!! Here’s what I had in mind at the start of the month:

 ‘I, Laura of makebakesisters.wordpress.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15. I endeavour to wear two me-made garments (or refashions) each week for the duration of May 2015′

I started off well at the beginning of the month, really making an effort to wear me-made garments. Towards the end of the second week though I realized that the season was turning and most of my handmade items aren’t cold-weather-friendly!

Which was what prompted this horrible-dress-to-sweet-top:

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The cooler weather reminded me of this cute floral number I made using a retro pattern and some vintage brushed cotton/flannelette fabric from the op shop. I made this top last winter and actually wear it quite a bit.

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And also the thermal top I originally purchased at a real, honest-to-goodness thrift store (Thrift Town in San Francisco, actually!!) and creatively mended has had a few wears this month.

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Last week I dragged the winter clothes suitcase out of the garage and found this cardigan, which was also a refashion-and-mend:

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And of course I have been actively, haha, wearing the tights and tops I made whilst doing the Burdastyle Activewear course. I have had a couple of desperate fails in the activewear department, and I’m really not going to share them here. These ones here were a success, though!

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Yep, matching running tops for me and my flatmate, for the Mother’s Day Classic fun run which raises awareness (and funds!) for Breast Cancer and related research. Everyone wears pink for this run:-)  I also whipped up the little matching armband using Fehrtrade’s free pattern. Even my bandanna, in fact, was me-made, a couple of years ago for the same race.

Last weekend I spent a few hours wrestling with Fehrtrade’s PBJam leggings. It did not go so well. I may or may not explain this at some later date. So to make up for the fail I did this:

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These are made from the legging pattern I drafted during the Burdastyle course. It is a double-knit with four-way stretch that I picked up at one of the many cheap fabric shops in my area. I thought it would be good for early morning runs in winter. I used a little bit of orange lycra for the diagonal flash to give them a bit of interest. I wore them running this morning! They were indeed cosy, although I need to make the waist elastic a little tighter as they rode down a little in the thigh department.

All in all, although I didn’t wear me-made on a daily basis this month, I probably averaged two items a week, so I’m pretty happy with that. Now that I think about it, some of my pyjamas are also handmade – so that’s some me-made nights as well!

Did you pledge or participate in Me-Made-May? Did you have fun, and would you do it again?

Self-imposed refashion challenge:

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Aaargh aaargh make it stop!! What is that THING??

It is a square-necked, puffy-sleeved, drop-waisted, pintucked nightmare in pale maroon. Ye gods. It has a button-up back, too. Here’s a closeup of the bodice:

DSCF9162It had a clothing label, but was made on a domestic machine (zig-zagged seam finishes are always a giveaway there!). No fabric identification label though. It’s crisp and lightweight, irons beautifully, crushes easily and has that almost ‘crunchy’ feel that silk gets after being handwashed a bit too much. I did a burn test and the results seemed to match silk, but I guess we believe what we want to believe.

Anyway, I’d had this monstrosity in my refashion pile for some time. Yesterday afternoon I’d been vacillating between projects, unable to settle on what I wanted to make, pulling out patterns and fabric and generally creating additional chaos in my tiny sewing room. Eventually I gave myself a mental slap and yelled (with my inside voice, of course) ‘JUST CHOP IT UP FOR GOODNESS SAKE’.

So I did.

The fullness of the skirt is created by the bodice tucks, um, stopping, and there’s some gathers at the sides too. I cut the skirt off at that line, and cut the sleeves off as well. There were these big under-puff puffer thingies designed to keep the puffy sleeves from loosing their puffiness. Needless to say they are now in the bin. No puff required in this refashion.

DSCF9165New sleeves were cut from the skirt offcut, using the existing hemline as the sleeve hems, because I’m lazy, and this is a refashion. You know, one of the things I love about refashioning is it allows me to be pretty relaxed about finishes and construction. The thing cost me $3; I’m so not worried about the curved bit of hem which created a little ruck on the inside. It’s on the INSIDE!!! No-one can see it!! Press that sucker from the outside – looks the ticket – job done!

Also not too worried about the sleeve fitting, which was a gamble from the start. I just used a basic sleeve pattern, there was no way I was going to spend time drafting a sleeve head to match this armhole. So the fit at the back of the sleeve is a little wonky. Don’t look to hard.

DSCF9166My goal at the moment is to make a few shirts for work now that that weather is getting cooler. I want to have a go at the 2-hour-top by SewDifferent but as usual can’t decide what fabric I want to use. I also caved in and hit StyleArc during their Etsy shop sale and bought the Elita top, which I have fabric for but am dreading tiling the pattern together. I like the slightly boxy-shaped tops that are trending at the moment, and I think I have managed that with this top.

Do you enjoy refashioning? How do you find it compares with from-scratch garment making?

The Activewear course is now over, and I must say that although it kept me rather busy for the last 6 weeks, it was certainly a fun and rewarding experience.

I now have slopers for activewear and enough pattern-drafting know-how to create all sorts of wacky workout wear!

For example, here’s my effort for the Sports Bra.

Sports bra front & back

Don’t judge me on the outer finishes. This is, essentially, a muslin.

I used a printed lycra that had had a previous life as a failed pair of leggings, elastic at the lower edge and plain black lycra for the upper binding and straps. The strap configuration was kind of organic, as in I put the unfinished bra onto Suzanne (that’s the dressmaker’s model, not a real person) and did a bit of ad-hoc draping with the straps.

The course had us sewing in bra cups, but a) I didn’t have any in my stash and b) I’ve never found them to be either comfortable or useful. So instead, I just lined the entire bra with powernet:

sports bra lining

Again, don’t judge me on the finishes.

Anyhoo, I gave this sucker a test run during the week. The compression factor was excellent, but I will have to adjust the front armscye as it was a little too high for comfortable movement. You can actually see that in the first photo.

The course also included shorts and yoga pants, both of which I didn’t make (but may yet return to). However, I used the shorts waistband instructions and drafted a pair of leggings of my very own!

Side stripe leggings

Here’s what my draft looked like.

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It’s all made of the standard slightly-shiny lycra. Here’s a couple of truly terribly pictures of the leggings on me:

side stripe leggings ON

In hindsight (or possibly thighsight) those green panels at the hip hit me at exactly the most unflattering point. “Look world, here’s my widest bit!” Still, I love my sidestripes. This lycra is stretchy-er than the the gray one I used for the previous pair, so the tights aren’t as close-fitting as I would have liked; also the reduction on the waistband wasn’t quite enough to create a nice tight fit.

I solved the waistband problem with some elastic zig-zagged to the upper edge. Things got a little tricky around the in-seam pocket, but I managed. I actually haven’t given these a test run yet – I’ll let you know how they travel!

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So yesterday, all inspired I went and haunted the fabric consignment shops in Marrickville. There’s a lot of truly horrible nasty stuff in those shops, but there’s also some bargains to be had. I got these fabulously raucous printed lycra’s for $12/m.

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I adore that spacy rainbow one on the right. I think that just gets made into a plain pair of leggings with no extra embellishments, and just let the print speak for itself!! These are all nylon/lycra blends (I quizzed the shop guy fairly heavily on fabric content). From what I understand, nylon lycra takes colour a lot better than polyester. Polyester is apparently better for workout wear though, due to it’s hydrophobic qualities (meaning it takes up no water at all, as opposed to nylon which is hydrophilic and will take up a small amount of moisture – hence why it takes colour better!). Then there’s wicking, which is a combination of fibre type, fibre shape and the actual construction of the knit. It’s all terribly complicated. Have a look at this article.

Have you tried making any activewear? What patterns and fabrics have you used?

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Today’s loaf is brought to you by … hmm, that should be despite. Today’s loaf is brought to you despite the challenges  of buying a new phone half way through the breadmaking process and finding it trickier than expected to get pics out of an old phone that no longer has a connection and a new one that didn’t have email set up. Well, it does now, and here we are…

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A few weeks ago I spend a wonderful afternoon making bread on an apple farm south of Sydney. Spending five hours or so making bread is always always going to be fun for me, but this was extra special. I was attending a breadmaking class run by the lovely Tara Mills of Mill Lane Workshops.  The workshops are held at Glenbernie Orchard, a farm run by the Fahey family, with a lovely rustic shop selling apples from the farm, potatoes, eggs, honey and more.  You can read more about how Tara found the right place to realise her workshops dream here.

The classes are held in a tin shed just a very short stroll from the farm shop – very handy for wandering across and picking up some fresh produce during a break in the breadmaking! There are hay bales with padded hessian seat-tops around a wooden table in one corner; apple crates along the walls; long wooden tables for work benches; boxes of preserving jars for sale; and flowers and herbs from Tara’s garden tucked here and there.

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We were welcomed with a cup of tea and a slice of cider fruit cake – a recipe I tried to wangle from Tara as it was superb, just the sort of old-fashioned, hearty fruit cake, not dry, not too moist but just right that I love. It’s an old family recipe apparently, and I hope that if Tara ever writes a book, she’ll share it there!

 Tara – a self-taught cook who previously ran a micro-bakery for a year – teaches breadkmaking and pastry classes, as well as a one-day workshop on creating an edible garden. She’s planning to add others later in the year. She’s an excellent teacher, reassuring to the beginners in the class, full of good advice, funny and knowledgeable.

I was there for the a class in making French breads. Essentially, a dough made using a poolish (a pre-ferment, where some flour, fresh yeast and water is mixed up and allowed to ferment for 12-18 hours; the rest of the flour, water, yeast and salt is then added, before kneading, rising, shaping and proving). We turned two batches of dough into fougasse (that’s Tara showing us how to do it, below), epi and an eight-roll loaf. There was kneading instruction, tips from Tara on fitting breadmaking into your day by using the fridge and freezer, shaping, baking, chatting and eating (more tea, more cake).

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The day ended, while the last of our loaves baked, with a cheese platter, bread Tara had baked earlier in the day and glasses of bubbly or cider (made using apples from the farm). And we were sent on our way with a bag with class notes, flour (in a lovely little branded calico sack – you can see that above, ready to be put to use in my own kitchen), some fresh yeast, a dough scraper and all the bread we’d made during the day. Those are my loaves below.

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So today I used Tara’s recipe to make a plaited tin loaf – started the preferment last night, made up the dough this morning, let it rise while I went shopping for the new phone (which took a lot longer than expected – a good thing it was a coolish day and the dough didn’t hurry along too much!) and shaped it when I got back.

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Above you can see the preferment at the top, and then the dough mixed up the next day, before kneading.

Tara taught a method of kneading I haven’t used before, a kind of grabbing and slapping down on the bench. It’s very satisfying, and effective, although I’d best not test the neighbours by using it if I’m making bread late at night or early in the morning! This is the dough, below, after several minutes of slapping, and then several more minutes of stretch-and-fold kneading.

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After the longer-than-planned rise, it was actually at just the right stage for shaping – divided into three, rolled into three long pieces and plaited, then tucked into a tin.

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And there we have it – a loaf created either side of a shopping expedition and posted here despite camera tech challenges! I thoroughly recommend Tara’s bread class if you’d like to learn how to make bread, or if you love breadmaking and would like to pick up some new tips and tricks. If you’d like to see more of Tara’s baking, you can also find her on instagram as @mysouthcoastkitchengarden

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hey guys!

So I am currently undertaking one of the many online courses Burdastyle are offering, the ‘Activewear’ course. I have been quite keen to have a go at making my own for a while now. I’m especially inspired by Fehrtrade‘s range of sports gear, and her latest pattern, the Steeplechase Leggings, are pure genius. I previously bought the PBJam leggings pattern but of course haven’t made them yet!

Anyway, the Burdastyle course includes slopers for tops and leggings, and video tutorials to draft and make six different articles, including a sports bra. I am quite behind but luckily we will still have access to the videos after the course is over.

My first item was a running tank which was a disaster.

running tank 1 backThe fabric is cool, but something went horribly wrong with my draft at the back neckline there.

Next there is a panelled tank and a t-shirt with some interesting design lines, both of which worked quite well.

Tee front & backThis is the t-shirt, which I made from some plain black cotton lycra, and some black animal-print stretch fabric left over from these leggings.  In hindsight I should have done the sleeve panels the other way around, with the lycra at the underarm and the animal print on top, but as a totally wearable muslin (and yes, I’ve worn it already!) it’s just fine.

yoga tank front & backThe panelled tank worked well as far as size and fit goes, but sadly my overlocker decided that thread tension just wasn’t something it wanted to do anymore, so all my seams are going to need re-stitching. This tank is meant to have binding on the armholes and neckline, but I’ve left it off for now so I can go back and fix the seams, as I quite like the way it’s turned out. The black is more of the cotton lycra, and the stripe is something I’ve had in my stash for years – I’m pretty sure I got it on sale somewhere. It was a similar weight and stretch as the black fabric so worked well in this top.

And yesterday I finished the leggings assignment, after much hmm-hmming about the stretch factor of the fabric I wanted to use and the stretch factor required by the pattern.

LEGGINGS FRONT & BACKIt looks black, but it’s actually a dark-ish grey. I used a polyester lycra for the main fabric, and the contrast is some random stretch fabric I picked up in an opshop ages ago. I’ve no idea of the fibre content (apart from it being man-made, that is.) I’ve still got about 2.5m of that contrast fabric so be warned, you may see more of it being used for stretch muslins!!

The leggings fit okay, probably a smidge tight in the thigh (and definitely a bit loose in the ankle) but I will give them a test run this week and see if they are wearable.

I don’t want to give too many details of the course content as I believe they will be offering it again in the future. I’m only halfway through but I have learned quite a bit about pattern drafting, as well as many handy tips for sewing with stretch fabrics.

Stay tuned as there are a couple more garments to go in the course!

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Two of my favourite Discworld novels. Although ‘favourite Discworld novel’ is a bit of an oxymoron, because really, how could one choose?

I remember when I first got my hands on a Pratchett book. I was probably about twelve or so. My sisters and I spent a lot of time reading, because when you grow up in the country there’s not a lot else to do (especially on the interminable drives into and out of town). We regularly visited a secondhand bookshop in town, the kind where you could take in a pile of books, the lady behind the counter would do some esoteric maths and give you a credit to pick out some books to take away.
I picked up a (slightly preloved) copy of The Colour of Magic for two reasons: one was of course the fabulous Josh Kirby artwork, and the other was the title – anything with the word ‘magic’ in it had my vote in those days.
And I was hooked.
I returned to that cover art many times as I read the book, and not just the first time either – every time I read that scene (or any scene featuring The Luggage, really) I would flip back to scrutinise that incredibly detailed cover.
That copy of The Colour of Magic is no longer in my possession, having been lent out and never returned; I did replace it with another secondhand copy though, just so it would feel right.
Favourite character? Well, it used to be Granny Weatherwax, until I met Sam Vimes. Which is why the two pictured above are my favourites.

I haven’t yet read Raising Steam, but I’ll be dashing out to pick that one up as soon as I can get to a bookshop; I’ve also got The Long Earth waiting on my bedside table, and obviously the other two in that trilogy are on the reading list too. I hope the publishers think to do an extra-large run of The Shepherd’s Crown, because I have a feeling that puppy is going to sell like hotcakes.

Sir Terry will be terribly missed. My heart breaks for his family and I wish them every sympathy.

EDIT: I chose to read Monstrous Regiment, which I haven’t re-read in quite some time. I wasn’t sure why until I came across this line:

“….. all the sound in the world could not have filled that sudden, tremendous silence.”

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