Saturday, September 26, 2020

Make That Look: Zara Boat neck Top

My latest make for Gaby - an imitation of a Zara boat neck top we both have. I bought a piece of T-shirt cotton knit with navy blue and white stripes and of course the logical pattern for it was a boat neck top. I found plenty of useful tips on youtube on how to turn a crew neck pattern into a boat neck top, so i started with my Shkatulka tee pattern, modified the neckline and extended the sleeves to 3/4 length.

In order to match the stripes and make the shirt perfectly symmetrical, I cut two pieces of each front and back paper pattern, glued them together and drafted and cut the pattern pieces flat in a single layer. Even working in this manner I had to fix and align each individual stripe. From the constant movement of the fabric it was evident that if I had opted to cut the T-shirt pieces on the fold, as one usually does, the pattern placement would have been a disaster. It did take a lot of time to cut the pattern, but it was totally worth it!

The boat neck  - I watched half a dozen videos on finishing the boat neck and neither provided useful tips for the kind of finishing I was looking for - fully covered neckline and shoulders. So I had to figure it out myself. First I cut a band of navy blue cotton jersey and finished the neckline of the back. Then I stitched a longer band of the same jersey to the neckline and the shoulders of the front. Then I attached the shoulders of the back to the front. Then I folded the band to cover the front neckline and both shoulders. Finally I stitched flat the covered shoulders to the back. Et voilà - a perfect covered boat neck and shoulders!

And here's my own label, discretely attached to the back of the T-shirt.

Stripe-matching - that's another story :) I sewed all the side seams on the overlocker, carefully pinning together every other dark stripe, to ensure as accurate matching as possible. 

Pattern: Boat Neck Top, modified Shkatulka top
Size: 42, reduced to 40 (equivalent to EU 34, xs)
Fabric: 100% cotton knit
Thread: polyester, white and navy blue
Time to make: 2 days

The hems are finished first on the overlocker and then folded, ironed and hemmed on the sewing machine with white thread and double needle.

The view of the back

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Anything But Basic Tee

Autumn is in the air and I'm gradually shifting my thoughts to 3/4 and long sleeve tops. 

A pattern, that has been long on my to-do list: Women's ABB Tee by Diby.Club - well drafted knitted top, with various options for neckline and sleeve length, detailed instructions and modification lessons - what more can you want from a pattern!

I made mine size 0 (the second size), but next time I'll cut 00, as I feel the fit a bit extra relaxed, especially in the underarms. I like the length of the tee and the silhouette it creates and I'm especially fond of the 3/4 length sleeves and the scoop neck. I have a very nice cotton knit in the color on the cover page of the pattern and I intend to cut into it next for my second ABB tee.

This is the second necklace out of wooden elements I made recently. Gaby scooped the first, so i guess I'm left with this one. I'm really pleased with how these necklaces combine with plain tops, I'm thinking about a suitable pair or two of earrings to go with them.

Pattern: ABB Tee, size 0
Fabric: bamboo knit
Thread: polyester, blue
Time to make: 2 days

Tuesday, September 22, 2020


Three pairs of undies I made using the overlocker and discarded T-shirts. For all of these I followed the excellent step-by-step tutorial by TomKat Stitchery and two patterns - my true-and-tried Shkatulka pattern and the Megan Nielsen Acacia Underpants. Both of these patterns came free - the Shkatulka is free for my size and you can get the Acacia for free when you subscribe for the newsletter.

These are the Shkatulka undies, which where the first I tried with the overlocker, when  I still didn't have enough black bobbins, so one of the threads is light blue. I like the fit of the Russian 40 size (xs), my only gripe is with the height of the back, which I am still trying to reduce, without narrowing the leg openings. For this pair I used lingerie elastic.


These are the first of the Acacia Underpants, size 2, using lingerie elastic. Although I cut the elastic at 85% of the circumference of the openings, I got the lettuce effect and the undies do not hug me. The leg openings and the waist are wider than needed and I'm not sure if I have to go up or down a size for better fit, but these are not a success.


The second Acacia pair is however even worse. I decided to try the method, suggested by Whitney - using strips of elastic cotton knit instead of lingerie elastic, attaching the strips the same way as you would for the neckbinding of a T-shirt. Although my navy cotton knit is very stretchy and with excellent elastic recovery, it does not hold the undies steady and I do not feel them comfortable.

All of these notes are not a criticism of the pattern and the methods for constructing undies, but rather a review of my failure to fit the pattern to my preferences. I'm going to try a third time the Acacia, going down a size and using different fabric, to make sure that I've explored all avenues.


Monday, September 21, 2020

Make That Look: Terranova Crop Top

In my favourite fabrics shop downtown I came upon a 50 cm remnant of this sweet viscose knit and I snatched it for a crop top for Gaby. This summer she's been wearing a RTW crop top by Terranova and I knew I could make her a similar one.

On a different note, RTW t-shirts now during the sales at the end of summer are so cheap, that to a non-sewist all that money I've spent into buying sewing machines, fabric, threads and needles (and I'm expecting my own labels to arrive any time soon) seem totally pointless. But it's never been about saving money and it's not even about higher quality, though I try, it's about the love for creating, that's all.

To recreate the pattern, I used as a basis a T-shirt pattern by Shkatulka, which I cropped, extended and further modified to match the original crop top. I even made a mock sample out of a white promotional T-shirt I was about to turn in for recycling - to my surprise it turned out quite nice, Gaby liked it and might wear it at home.

The main seams are sewn on the overlocker, the back of the neck is covered with a band from the same fabric (youtube tutorial here), I cleaned the hem edges on the overlocker and then sewed them on the Elna with twin needle. NB! Always check the settings of the machine when using twin needle - I had forgotten mine on zigzag stitch and of course, I broke my only stretch twin needle :(, so I had to hem the blouse with the twin needle for wovens, using paper straps to make it work on my knit fabric.

After I finished the crop top, I had a small piece of the fabric left, so I made a pair of matching undies. The pattern I used is again one from Shkatulka I've sewn already six times and I know it's a good pattern, though I'm still fiddling with the fit, trying to perfect it.

All in all, pretty happy with this set!

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Rilska Skakavitza 2020

Photos from our hike to two big waterfalls in Rila - Rilska Skakavitza, the highest waterfall in Rila, and Small Rilska Skakavitza, a waterfall on one of the tributaries of the Skakavitza river. 

The big Rilska Skakavitza is quite popular and well visited, this was our fourth hike to the waterfall and it would have been quite a garden variety hike, as gorgeous as it was, if we hadn't decided to visit the second, little known and even less accessible waterfall. The moment we stepped outside of the well marked and treaded trails, we were deep into the wild forest - not a tourist in sight, only the GPS to guide us, steep stony hills, vertical cliffs - it was imposing and exciting, definitely the cherry of the hike. 

As the summer is at its end, the waterfalls were only at a small percentage of their capacity, yet beautiful enough to justify the efforts. Definitely a hike to remember!

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Make That Look: Reserve Blouse


This is the second blouse I sewed out of my big piece of bamboo knit - a smock top, imitation of a RTW Reserve blouse of Gaby's. For the basis of my pattern I used the Easy Smock Top by, a free pattern I've made before. As the pattern is designed for woven and I was using knits, and also as i know the pattern runs rather wide, I reduced the width of the front and the back by 4 cm each and the width of the sleeves by 5 cm each. Then I elongated the sleeves and drafted the sleeve flounces, which are 3/4 circles.

I sewed all the basic seams on the overlocker and for the flounces I applied the rolled hem function - they came out perfect!

I'm also wearing my latest hand-made necklace, designed out of wooden balls and rings on a string with an adjustable length. I was so enthused by the idea, that I made two different versions of these and I hope to be able to photograph the second one soon.

The hem of the Reserve blouse, which was the inspiration for this piece, is also made with a rolled hem, but I prefer the more structured hem with the twin needle. The neckline is also hemmed on the straight machine with two narrow zigzag seams at 1 cm distance and the elastic is inserted in the channel between the zigzag seams.

Pattern: Easy Smock Top, modified
Size: 8-10, heavily reduced
Fabric: bamboo knit
Thread: polyester
Time to make: 2 days

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Two Men's T-shirts

This past week I was very busy with the overlocker - apart from the T-shirt I showed you, I made two more T-shits for Gaby and myself out of the same bamboo knit, which I still haven't photographed. And then I made two T-shirts for my husband and my son.

The pattern I used for the men's T-shirts is a free pattern from the Russian site Shkatulka - MT030313, tailored men's T-shirt. My husband wears size 52 according to their size table, so I downloaded the pattern and printed it. As the pattern says, the T-shirt is tailored and narrow, so after I measured the paper pattern pieces I found that size 52 was more suitable for my son, than his father. So I cut the first T-shirt for Alex.

The fabric is a rayon-polyester blend, soft and fluid and the boys liked it a lot. To liven it a bit, I added a navy blue neckband. For my husband's T-shirt I decided to use the same paper pattern, just to widen it by a total of 6 cm. I also added length to the pattern pieces, as my boys are higher than the indicated pattern height of 174-178 cm.
Size: 52 and 56
Fabric: Rayon-polyester blend, 1.5 m
Thread: polyester
Time to make: 2 days

To make the T-shirts, I alternated between the overlocker and the straight sewing machine - all the basic seams are done on the overlocker, the shoulders are reinforced with fusible and straight seams, the back neck seam is covered and the hems are executed on the straight machine with a double needle.

I am especially proud of the covered neck seam - it does give the T-shirts a professional look.