Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Flat Bottomed Flos

Like many others I was very excited to see Style Arc release this pattern and I am very pleased to say that it has lived up to expectation.
 First I made a pair of shorts in the same blackish denim that I used for my Barb jeans. After wearing these for a while I decided that the only change needed was to take 1.5cm from the centre front down to nothing at the side seams. (Or what would be the side seams if they weren’t moved forward as they are on the Flos.) This is not because the front crotch length is too long (that fit was great from the start) but because I am very short waisted and the waistband was creasing and folding over.
As a a comparison here are the Barbs next to the Flos so that you can see just how much less fabric there is under the bum.
I then made a full length pair of in navy cotton spandex. And they were a complete FAIL. No photos because I can hardly get them on. Completely my fault due to poor fabric choice. I thought that the navy was the same as the red cotton spandex that I used for my first Barb shorts. But it wasn’t. It was much lighter weight and with considerably less stretch. But I did not let that defeat me.
I bought some lovely very dark indigo stretch denim. It is great fabric. Really soft and black on the wrong side so that you don’t get that light look when the denim is stretched.
IMGP3442_Fotor_Fotor_CollageAnd let me just say that I love these Flo jeans. They are hands down the most comfortable jeans I’ve had in years. i think I may have said that about the Barb jeans but these are even better. My husband was like “Wow, they fit you better in the bum than other pants you’ve ever had”. Actually he said that when I first made the shorts and it was completely unprompted. It seems he is paying more attention than I perhaps give him credit for :)
I used gold topstitching thread on the yoke,waist seam, pockets and side seams.
Some of the topstitching on the pockets is a little dodgy. Largely because I added the pockets to the already sewn up jeans, which is not a good idea. I was so eager to confirm that these would fit that I forgot that I intended to baste the side seams and then undo the side seams and add the pockets. After realising that they fit really well I went straight to finishing the side seams. I won’t make that mistake again.
But really I know that the whole point of the pattern is the back view.
I’ve had to really overexpose these so that you can see at least some detail. On the next pairs (there will be several more) I will make the pockets smaller.
UPDATE: I’ve changed the photos to some slightly better ones. Apologies for the all round terrible photos. I’ve got a bit of a cold and wasn’t in the mood to muck around for more than 2 minutes (as you can see from my expressions in the front view). But you will be seeing these again with the new tops I’m making to go with my fab new jeans. And then you’ll be seeing the next versions of these. I have some great black denim up next and I’m planning some capri length and next summer there’ll be more shorts.
So if you’re flat bottomed I can’t recommend this enough.
Is this your fitting issue? Have you tried the Flos yet or do you plan to?

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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

I'm moving

Hi all

I'm moving over to Wordpress. Hopefully, those of you who follow on Bloglovin will be automatically redirected. If not, or if you follow on some other way, you can find me at

I'm sure it's going to be an improvement so I hope you'll follow me over there.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Fabulous fabrics for hot weather

This is pretty much an update on new fabrics in my shop so if you aren't interested then just skip it. But hey, it is fabric...

The Loy kratong celebrations last week signal the start of the holiday season for me. It will be no time at all before it is December and all the parties and socialising that come with it. Which can often mean new clothes and therefore fabric buying for sewing new clothes.

Now it is officially cool season here. While that means that the mornings and evenings are cooling down, they still aren't cool (they just aren't hot) and the days are still 30 plus degrees. Which kind of rules out a lot of fabric options. So if, like me, you are looking for vibrant colours, unusual and sometimes dramatic designs, with the cool comfort of cotton, then these may be for you.

I made my Loy kratong top from Chom Tong cotton and it comes in many stunning colours.

Chom Tong cottons

In April, I made my Songkran dress from handwoven mudmee (ikat) cotton.

And I still love that dress. The fabric lifts what is a very simple design (Vogue V8805) into a really nice dress. Oh, and April is the hottest month here (think 40 plus degrees) and this is still cool and comfortable. I also probably shouldn't admit this but I machine wash it (on delicate) and line dry it in the shade and the colours have not faded. But of course, you should hand wash it:)

These cottons are only 100-120 gsm (3 - 3.5 oz/yd) and so are fabulous for warm weather and special occasions. Because of the weaving style you get lovely changes in colour as the garment moves and the light changes. And they come in some glorious colours and designs.

Mudmee cottons

They also come in more understated designs.

Three colour mudmee

And they also come in some very festive colour combinations.

Five colour mudmee

But if you are looking for more muted tones, I have a new line - Thai double gauze. Only a small selection to start but there will be a few more added soon. Although unfortunately double gauze is quite hard to find here so it will never be an extensive range. But it is so lovely that I'll take what I can get.

Thai double gauze

So if you are in the market for some fabulous fabrics, have a look at my Etsy shop. And if you have looked before, you will be pleasantly surprised by the reduced prices on the mudmee cottons. Because I have found new suppliers and am buying in larger quantities the prices are 15-20% lower.

So are you in the market for some special fabric for those special occasions?

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Tuesday, 11 November 2014


Last Thursday was Loy kratong, which is one of my favourite Thai celebrations. You can read more about it here, but basically you float kratongs down the river and release khom loy into the air. It is truly beautiful to see.

I didn't take any pictures (which was rather neglectful of me) so I have shamelessly stolen some from my friend (but I'm sure she won't mind).

These are kratongs which are all handmade from natural materials.

These are from google images but show how the kratongs are made (above) and some other kratongs below.

This is my fabulous friend, Jantra, about to launch a khom loy, which is basically a large paper lantern. 

Another google image, khom loys being floating in the night sky.

I decided on Thursday morning to make myself something new to wear, which obviously I probably should have thought about a bit sooner, so it needed to be a fairly quick make.

I wanted it to be fun, cool and comfortable, and bike friendly. Because of the nature of the celebration, one of the many gorgeous Thai fabrics I have seemed appropriate. So I chose this Chom Tong cotton.

This is not the lightest weight fabric (190 g/m or 5.5oz/yd) but we are heading into cool season here  and the Loy Kratong celebrations are at night, so it would be fine. Although it also doesn't really drape. I'm hoping that the simple shape and bright (obnoxious?) colours will make up for it.

I was going to use M6566  because if you are using fabric like that a simple pattern is all you need. I knew that the first version had some neckline issues among others so I was all prepared to make some adjustments. And then I remembered that I had always planned to use the bodice of my Going Global Thai dress as a blouse pattern because I really like the fit. So I used that but without the buttons so the front is cut on the fold. As is the back, even though the original has a centre back seam.

I also knew that I didn't want the wide purple and white stripe to run down the centre front (or heaven forbid, around me). So this is what I came up with.

And it is fun, cool and comfortable, and bike friendly. 

No, the stripes don't match on both shoulders. Because there is more fabric in the front than the back they can't both match.

I wore it with jeans but I know it is going to get a lot of use with shorts to bike around town running errands.

EDIT: I forgot to put this in the first draft. I finished the neckline and sleeves with bought bias binding. I thought about perhaps making some from this fabric but that would have been a disaster. Because this fabric frays like crazy. I mean you only have to look at it and it frays. But only really from the warp (maybe?) so the neckline and hem were ok (they frayed but only a little). So careful handling, and early seam finishing is the way to go.

I'll be back with some photos of it on me soon. The camera batteries just died and I had just changed especially to take pics:( Oh, and I'll be wearing it with my Style Arc Flo shorts. Which are excellent by the way. More on that in the next day or so.

Would you ever use a fabric like this or is it just too much?

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Saturday, 8 November 2014

Barb skirt

Yes, you did read that right. Maybe you remember that I made these as a muslin for my Barb pants.

Well, it turns out that I don't actually have much use for bright red shorts. But it seems I do have a use for a bright red skirt.

Although it looks bright pink and no amount of colour correcting works unless I'm bright green. So pink it is.

To change this from shorts to a skirt, I simply drew a line from the fullest part of the front and back crotch curve to the original seam line at the hem. I left a short slit at the back for walking ease.

So a quick and easy alteration and a new favourite skirt. It also works well with the Black Thai Affair tunic which had been a bit of an orphan because its length makes it slightly difficult to pair up.

I can definitely see more Barb skirts in the future.

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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Finally finished

Yep, H's shirt is finally done. As I mentioned in the blog hop post, just about everything that could go wrong with this did go wrong. I have sewn just about everything twice (at least).

So first, the finished product...

I probably could have ironed it before I photographed it. But it is linen so this is probably how it will usually look anyway.

Like last time, I used the free pattern Lekala 6207. Last time I narrowed the shoulders and it fit better, but H requested an exact copy of a RTW linen shirt and so this time I left it as per the pattern. I also drafted a new collar based on the RTW  - as is, it is quite large.

So what went wrong? Well, the first thing to go wrong was the thread. Yes, the thread. I happened to have a matching thread already but it must have been at least 20 years old. And it kept snapping. Said thread is now in the bin. I wish I had read this excellent post  by La Sewista before starting on the shirt and I wouldn't have had this problem. Also after reading that post I decided to try her do-not-backstitch idea (you just dial down the stitch length instead) and I must say I am impressed. Actually the whole NLS (Next Level Sewing) series are worth a read.

So the problem with the thread snapping was that it is on the topstitching of the pocket. So I had to unpick that and being quite loose weave linen it really didn't like the extra attention. It stretched a bit. Which is why my previously pefectly matched stripes ended up a teensy bit off.

So close but yet...

So the next thing to go wrong was the side seams. I flat felled them but somehow when pressing before the final row of stitching, I pressed in a crease of excess fabric. On both sides. And didn't notice. No, I don't know how either.

Then came the abomination that was the first collar and stand. I, as always, used this excellent tutorial by foursquarewalls which constructs and attaches the collar in a different (and more logical) order. The problems with the collar were entirely of my own making. When I was doing the collar I hurt my lower back. Bending down to put something in my handbag which was on the couch would you believe. I mean seriously, I have no idea how or why just bending over hurt it - but it did. So sitting in any one position for any length of time was uncomfortable. But I had determined that I would have the shirt finished for H's birthday so I kept sewing for too long. And all the sewing I did was rubbish. But somehow my pain addled brain thought it was ok at the time. When the pain cleared the unpicking began. So moral of the story - if you can't sew, don't.

As I said previously both the collar and stand looked ok as long as you didn't look at both sides at once as both were very asymetrical. Because I had enough fabric I just chucked the collar and stand in the bin and recut both. Let me tell you, attaching a collar stand on an already trimmed and clipped neckline is not easy.

But it was worth it.

I also had to redo the topstitching on the front placket because the first attempt was far from straight and even.

Fortunately I did the yoke properly the first time. I cut it on the crossgrain so that the stripes ran horizontally. And I changed the one centre pleat to two smaller ones nearer the shoulders because H prefers them that way.

A full back view.

I should point out that H did suggest several times that I just leave this and sew something else but I feared that if I left it, it would be a UFO forever. I am now very glad that I persevered.

So I recommend the Lekala pattern if you fancy making a shirt for the man in your life. Although if it's your first man's shirt you may find the instructions somewhat lacking. But with the many excellent tutorials available around the internet you shouldn't have too much trouble. And I do really recommend the collar tutorial, you really should give it a try.

Next time I'm going to use one of the many collar point tutorials and see if I can improve them. What about you? Do you have any favourite men's shirt tutorials, tips or suggestions?

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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Reluctant Barbs

Actually the Barbs aren't reluctant. I'm just reluctant to publish this post. Once again the photos have thrown me. 

See I love these Barbs. They feel fabulous. Hands down the most comfortable jeans (yes, I'm calling them jeans) I have owned in years. Which admittedly isn't actually saying much. I'm really short waisted with a muffin top even in loose clothes so the waistbands always scrunch up and the button digs in.

But first, Barbs aren't jeans, are they? This is how I justify calling them jeans.
1. They are made of denim - albeit cheap not quite black stretch denim. (They were always meant to be a wearable muslin).
2. They have jeans pockets

I just copied a pocket of an old RTW pair. But note to self - interface stretch denim for pockets.

H also says they look good and fit my bum better than others. Then I look at these photos and think - really? Look at all those wrinkles. (And don't look at all the loose threads from my very dodgy first ever machine rolled hem)

Maybe the wrinkles are because of my awkward midstep, pigeon toed stance...

Nope, apparently not. Maybe if I just stand awkwardly with a stupid look on my face?

Yeah, well that helps but of course this is the front and there are still wrinkles.

These are a size 16 and they are actually too big and so I was going to make the 14 now that I have it too. Of course, they'll still need a flat bum adjustment.

Except they won't... because this just arrived at my place.

I was pathetically pleased when I saw that Style Arc had released these. I have never instantly clicked on the buy button before, but I didn't even hesitate. These were bought within minutes of the email arriving to announce the pattern release.

I'd also like to point out that I am so glad to have finally posted this. It's been cathartic and I'll never have to look at the pics again. I must remember that next time I'm procrastinating for this reason.

So, are you planning on making Flo? Or maybe you have already?

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Monday, 20 October 2014

Blog hop

The blog hop baton has been passed to me from the lovely Lara of Thornberry. Lara is a prolific stitcher who makes fabulous clothes for herself and her gorgeous daughters. One (of the many) things I appreciate about Lara's blog is that she experiments with shape, colour and fabric and shares all the results - even if they aren't always quite what she was hoping for. 

1. Why do you write?

I started sewing again about a year ago after nearly 30 years of not sewing. I didn't even realise that there were sewing blogs and I don't remember how I found them but boy I'm glad I did. I am continually inspired by sewing bloggers. I love to see how patterns have been interpreted and how fabric choice completely alters the finished garment. I also really appreciate being able to see finished garments on a wide variety of people; different ages, shapes, sizes and styles.

This last point is especially important to me. And quite difficult to explain well.

I live in Thailand and so don't usually see women who resemble me in any way. (Yes, there are lots of foreign tourists in Chiang Mai but they are on holiday and I also don't live in Chiang Mai.) The few other foreign women I know, or just see around, are generally significantly younger than I am. I am surrounded by women who are just so much smaller than I am in every respect.

Also clothes that fit me are very thin on the ground so I can't try on RTW to see how a particular style looks. And most of my existing RTW was bought when I was working in the Middle East and so was both professional and conservative. My life now is neither of those things.

Sewing blogs allow me to see how garments look on someone who looks more like me. So a big thank you to all the nearly 50, not quite shaped as they used to be, bloggers out there.

And I still haven't mentioned why I write. Basically, it just seems that since I gain so much from the blogs of others that I too should contribute in some small way. I really appreciate the opportunity to discuss the best way to construct a collar or the joy of french seams or to just celebrate the completion of a garment. I don't know others who sew because home sewers are basically non-existent here. Tailors are plentiful and affordable and so many people have professional or formal wear tailored for them. (And I can't tell you how tempting that is when you're grappling to fit pants for example.)

And of course without sewing blogs I would not have had the pleasure of meeting and fabric shopping with both Lara and Seamstress Erin and made two new IRL friends as well.

By the way, this is an open invitation to anyone visiting Chiang Mai to get in touch. I'd love to go fabric shopping with you.

2. What are you working on?

That my friends is a shirt for H. Well it will be... eventually. Just about everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. The mess you see above is actually a completely unpicked collar and stand. The collar actually looked fine as long as you only looked at one side at a time. It was completely asymetrical. And that was both the collar and stand. I'm not sure exactly how that happened but I do know the main culprit was me. I'll fill you in on the trials and tribulations when it is actually finished.

3. How does you blog differ from others of the same genre?

As many people have already said - I'm not sure that it does. Although I am still relatively new to it and still finding 'my voice'. I am finding it hard to make the switch from my professional, managerial and/or academic writing style into something more personal. But I am working on it.

I could give you a long list of what my blog doesn't have or do compared to others but then you already know that, don't you? And yet you still read it... you are kind.

4. What is your writing process?

Ha! What is this process of which you speak?

For someone who is generally very organised, I am surprisingly haphazard about blogging. I blame the necessity of taking photographs. I do not like having my photo taken and never have. Because of this, makes often don't get posted immediately. I am constantly writing blog posts in my mind; while I'm sewing, cycling, ironing, but by the time I get around to actually writing, the thoughtful/interesting/important/useful/amusing points often do not make it into the written version.

I also seem to either sew or blog and not the two together. So I often sew several garments and then when I eventually have photos I will write several posts. I also (strangely) get hung up on blogging makes in the order in which they are made, or in some other order according to my own mental list. Seriously, sometimes I think "I'll write a post about y" but then I think "No, I haven't posted about x yet. I have to do that first." And I have no idea why and now that I actually contemplate this properly - it is just plain stupid. So I will be working on that too.

But enough fairly random rambling from me. I would like to pass the baton onto bobbinsbikesandblades and onedabbles, both of whom take the time to comment on what can be some fairly mundane posts. Thank you both for that.

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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

A Black Thai Affair

I ended up with this Thai mudmee cotton quite unintentionally. I had bought it for the shop but on closer examination discovered that it had a couple of faults so I had to use it myself. What a shame, eh?

M6702 in Thai mudmee

In the photo above you can quite clearly see the faded patches, which I unthinkingly placed pretty much exactly at my bust.

But back to the beginning. This is McCalls 6702 View C, minus the pocket but with View D length.
I am actually surprised by just how much I like it. Of course this is after basically reducing it down one size while making it. On top of the usual lots of ease there is actually more ease than stated as the finished garment measurements are wrong. Oh, and it is definitely tunic length (like nearly low thigh as opposed to mid-thigh) and I'm 172 cms or about 5'7".

It is remarkably comfortable and I think a lot of that may be down to the two piece sleeve.

As you can see, I used a solid black lightweight linen for the yoke and front of the sleeve. Purely because I didn't have enough of the mudmee. It also matches better than it looks here - we all know what it's like to photograph black, don't we?

You can also see a few stray threads. This cotton, while beautiful in most respects, frays if you so much as look at it. And yes, there are threads poking out of my otherwise lovely french seams, which I did everywhere, even on the armholes.

The placket is also solid black lightweight linen, although the less said about it the better. The collar shape is just off and the topstitching isn't too flash either. Most of these problems were caused by my far-too-stiff interfacing. But it was the only one I had in black so I used it anyway.

That placket is also seriously long. I handstitched it closed to make it decent. On the next versions, of which I think there may be a couple, I would probably just add buttons and perhaps even buttonholes. Although since they wouldn't need to be functioning, I may be too lazy for that.

I also think I will move the shoulders forward. As it stands the yoke finishes at the shoulder seam - as you'd expect. But that also means that the gathers sprout directly from the shoulders. I think they'd be better moved down some. And I'll probably make them tucks not gathers. I'm not really a gather type of gal.

I also can't stop thinking about a shirt dress version. I reckon it would make a great shirt dress. I have looked at so many shirt dress patterns and there's something 'wrong' with all of them. Either they have a waist seam (no thanks) or lots of pockets (safari style) or a retro vibe (not my thing). Plus of course I already have this pattern and would only have to add a little length - an easy adjustment. What do you think?

You may also have noticed from the photographs that I have a new sewing friend. I was passing a shop in Chiang Mai and saw a 'plus size' dressform. Miraculously, she shares my bust and waist measurements although her hips are bigger than mine. This seemed so serendipitous that I just had to bring her home. I think she's going to be a tremendous help.

So what do you think of this as a shirt dress? Good idea? Bad idea? I'm also open to 'perfect' shirt dress pattern suggestions.

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