Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition

Here we are in New Zealand enjoying national lockdown number 2 - valiantly fighting the delta variant and basking in our "isolated dystopia". Thanks Matthew Lesh for these inspirational words which I think Tourism NZ should use in a future ad. It is always fascinating seeing how New Zealand is portrayed in the world's media. The things that grab their attention. No more so than with this current lockdown. Is New Zealand attracting criticism from the glitterati of public health and communicable disease medicine? Umm no not quite, it is the arm chair critics - the columnists and politicians. It is a bit hard whilst still in the middle of the pandemic to identify which strategy was best in the long term and I have strong feelings about how we collectively in New Zealand handled the last eighteen months. 

Whilst we won't know for a while what impact this current lockdown period had on the economy at the moment unemployment is back down to 4%. In comparison to other OECD countries the percentage change in GDP for the March 2021 quarter was similar to Australia and the United States, way better than Europe and the UK. The world has seen 214 million cases of the virus whilst we have had 3297 with 26 deaths compared to 4.46 million. On the vaccine front it has been slower than many other countries but the percentage of those fully vaccinated is not that far behind the world average (26.2% versus 27%) and very similar to our cousin Australia. The truth is no country is doing well in the vaccination stakes until the world is highly vaccinated and that is quite some way away. Below is a pie chart for each of these statistics as a percentage of the international total for eleven countries plus other (the rest) but some numbers are so small it is difficult to make the country visible in the pie chart!

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition

New Zealand also produces its own comedic content at the 1pm stand up hosted by the Government and the Ministry of Health. Public speaking is not easy and we are so quick to mock. A tiny mistake made by the Honourable Chris Hipkins (Minister for COVID-19 Response) achieved world wide notoriety last week. For any who missed it here is a clip kindly put together by The Guardian. For me the more impressive part is Ashley's ability to keep a straight face.

So now I have got that off my chest here is the real purpose of this post a review of the fabulous World of Wearable Art Up Close Exhibition at Te Papa the highlight of my Valentine's weekend away in Wellington.

What is WOW?

The World of Wearable Art was created in 1987 by Dame Suzie Moncrieff a Nelson sculptor. It was a means of promoting a local co-operative art gallery by taking art off the wall and displaying it on the moving body. It has come a long way from the marquee in rural Nelson but it still brings together a combination of art, design and fashion into a theatrical performance. Today the annual World of Wearable Arts competition attracts entries from more than 40 countries with the finalists coming to life on a stage in Wellington. Every year the show is different, a spectacle to rival Cirque du Soleil. Last year the show was cancelled and this year's has just been postponed because with lockdown they won't have everything ready to open on 30 September 2021. So it seems fitting that I take you on a small journey of discovery of the magnificent WOW costumes.

The exhibition

The exhibition closed on the Sunday I finally got to visit and was what drove my desire to stay in Wellington for Valentine's weekend and have my beloved travel up to join me. He enjoyed some people watching whilst I did the guided tour of the exhibition. The guided tour was excellent and really enhanced my experience of the exhibition. We had a thorough tour of the exhibition with the guide and then had time to wander around on our own absorbing the exhibits. Not my first visit to an exhibition of the garments from WOW but definitely one of my best.

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition
Underling by Gillian Saunders, New Zealand
EVA, hot glue and acrylic paint
2018 Open Section Winner

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition

The Supreme Award (and runners up) Winners

Of the award winners I have three favourites two for their simplicity and the third its ingenuity.

Woven In-tent by Kirsten Fletcher is for me a fabulous form and use of colour, which took over eight years to make. Amazing that such inspiration should strike leaving the muddy campground of Glastonbury with all its abandoned tents. These two powerful female guardians of her imagined tent after-life are made from over 500 tents gathered from three music festivals over five years. Her vision came to life thanks to a basket weaving class and she threaded sustainable cane through tubes of her tent fabric before weaving them.

I have seen the Lady of the Wood on many occasions and I am awed by the skill of David Walker, an Alaskan carpenter, to make an eighteenth century ballgown from wood. He starts with sketches which become patterns and then sees how far he can push his materials to create the vision. This piece was the first overseas entry to win the Supreme Award.

Chica Under Glass is one of my favourites for its seeming simplicity. Peter, a boat builder from Motueka near Nelson crafted this dress by hand for more than 300 hours over seven months with not a mould in sight. This was Peter's first entry and he credits WOW with starting his creative career, attracted by the ability to dream up artistic pieces only to please himself.

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition

Ernst Haeckel's Bride by Nika Danielska, Poland
Wire, paper, glue and paint
Under the Microscope section winner and Supreme Award runner-up 2018

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition

Horridus by Lynn Christiansen, United States
Copper, silver and gold plating
Open section second and Supreme Award runner-up 2010

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition

Persephone's Descent by Stuart Johnson, New Zealand
Mild and stainless steel, brass, chain and pewter
Reflective section winner, First-time entrant winner and Supreme Award winner 2002

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition

Ornitho-Maia by Nadine Jäggi, New Zealand
Leather - wet moulded, embossed, carved, hand dyed; copper foiled and hand sewn; bronze buckles; steel rings
Aotearoa section winner and Supreme Award winner 2008

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition

Woven In-tent by Kirsten Fletcher, Australia
Reclaimed tents, cane, wire, steel bones
Avant-garde section second, International design award - Australia & Pacific, The Residency Experience award, Supreme Award runner-up 2019

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition

The Lady Warrior by Rinaldy Yunardi, Indonesia
Metal, recycled paper
Avant-garde section winner, International design award - Asia, Supreme Award winner 2019

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition

Lady of the Wood by David Walker, United States
Wood - Mahogany, Lacewood, Maple, Cedar
Avant-garde section winner, Supreme Award winner 2009

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition

Gothic Habit by Lynn Christiansen, United States
Felt, wood
Open section winner, Supreme Award runner-up 2014

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition
Chica Under Glass by Peter Wakeman, New Zealand
Fibreglass, plywood
Avant-garde section winner and Supreme Award runner-up 2003


The New Zealand entrants

None of these are particular favourites. You have to applaud the imagination of their makers to create fantastic costumes from many ordinary materials and whilst I can appreciate the effort taken (creative and physical) none of them inspired the awe that draws you in and keeps your gaze for wondrous moments.

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition

Underling by Gillian Saunders, New Zealand
EVA, hot glue and acrylic paint
2018 Open Section Winner

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition
Mantilla by Fenella Fenton and Jeff Thomson, New Zealand
Aluminium, printing ink, bolts, nuts
Open section winner 2013

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition
Firebird by Susan Holmes, New Zealand
Hand dyed stretch nylon, sticks
Fold section finalist, WOW factor award winner 2009

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition

Axminstress by Kate MacKenzie, New Zealand
Axminster carpet, polystyrene
Avant-garde section second, Sustainability award runner-up 2018

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition
Inkling by Gillian Saunders, New Zealand
EVA foam, paint
Costume & Film: Creature Carnival section winner 2013

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition
Templa Mentis by Daniella Sasvári, New Zealand
Silk, polyester, silk scraps
Creative Excellence: Architecture section finalist, Sustainability award winner 2015

The overseas entrants

My absolute favourite of the exhibition was Kaleidoscope by Tess Tavener Hanks. Why I am so attracted to brightly coloured laser cut and engraved pieces of plastic (acrylic) I have no idea but I am. The way the light catches on the various colours reflecting back from the mirrors and the acrylic itself. It had real presence in the large gallery space. Is it a coincidence that I loved twirling the bottom of my kaleidoscope as a child mesmerised by the changing patters?

One that touches the heart is the second piece by David Walker Beast in the Beauty. Once again made from wood but with a much more personal back story this time. This garment was made whilst his wife was undergoing cancer treatment, representing the struggle to maintain dignity and beauty through treatment. There is a mirror on the ceiling above this piece so that you can look up and see the full effect of the radiation symbol skirt. The costume is inlaid with cancer treatment symbolism: the working mechanism of syringe, knife and IV system on the back representing the monkey on the back; the warrior helmet made using smooth blond wood for the hair loss caused by chemotherapy; with the blinders at the side of the eyes to highlight there is only one direction to go; the removal of the breasts replaced by radiation symbols; a small heart inlaid into the chest (his wife's idea) to represent the soul and heart within the warrior's armour; the boots symbolically laced with pink ribbon and a thorn through the sole for the pain endured.

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition
Escaped Pods by Lynn Christiansen, United States
Felt, fabric
Open section finalist 2019

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition
Spirit Bone by Guo Ziaotong, China
Plastic
Reflective Surfaces section finalist, Weta Workshop Emerging Designer award winner 2019

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition
Human Nature by Saar Snoek, Netherlands
Hand dyed wool, cotton, silk, polyester
Aotearoa section winner 2017

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition
Beast in the Beauty by David Walker, United States
Maple and Padauk wood veneers, aluminium
Open section finalist, International award winner 2012

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition
Gemini: The Twins by Dawn Mastow & Ben Gould, United States
Latex, rubber, plastic
Avant-garde section third, International Design Award - Americas and overall winner 2019

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition
Kaleidoscope by Tess Tavener Hanks, Australia
Acrylic, dowel, nylon line, fabric
Creative Excellence: Architecture section finalist, Cirque du Soleil Performance Art Costume award winner, Student innovation award winner 2015

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition
236 Maiden Lane, Lynn Christiansen, United States
Felt, wood, metal
Open section finalist, Wearable technology award winner 2018

The White Section

This section had real impact as you first entered the exhibition hall and was a great start to the journey.

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition
Front to back: Feathers of the Roc by Xu Ran, Donghua University China
Huaxia Totem by Sun Ye, Miao Yuxin & Yuan Jue, Donghua University China
Renascence by Ma Yury & Fang Siyu, Donghua University China
Ernst Haeckel's Bride by Nika Danielska, Poland
The Blomar by Akhilesh Gupta, India

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition
Renascence by Ma Yury & Fang Siyu, Donghua University China
PC solid sheets
Open section winner 2016

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition
The Blomar by Akhilesh Gupta, India
Acrylic sheet, sun board
White section second 2019

The Bizarre Bras

At the end of the exhibition as you left past the gift shop was a selection of Bizarre Bras. The Bizarre Bra section does not feature every year but it is always a favourite part of the live show, seeing these creations dance and prance about the stage.

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition

Clockwise from top left:

  • Prickly Heat by Wendy Moyer from Mexico, a fabric plastic and paint creation from 2010;
  • Epicentre Divas by Claire Third from New Zealand, taxidermy hedgehogs, fabrics and jewels from 2012;
  • Hands Off by Mark Crocker from New Zealand, a bra of kitchen utensils, nuts, bolts and bicycle inner tubes from 1998;
  • Renewal by Alexa Cach, Miodrag Guberinic & Corey Games from United States, a cicadas, crystals, wire, brass, Worbla bra from 2016;
  • aBRAcalypse Now by Wendy Moyer of Mexico a recycled clothes, silicon, gourd and wire bra from 2012;
  • Fried Eggs by Kelsey Roderick & Rhys Richards from New Zealand, using utensils, sponges, fibreglass and rubber from 2016;
  • Venus Fly Trap by Leon Vaz & Noel Braganza of India, a sequin, felt, fabric bra from 2010.

The travel wardrobe

I understand this is supposed to be a sewing blog and I did sew some of my travel wardrobe (only a small part of it) but now I have got to here I have run out of steam so here are a few pictures of the wardrobe because you haven't seen enough pictures in this post.

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition
Tuesday: Elk Valby navy stripe dress
Thursday: Elk Janeke Maize Plaid top and Peggy Yellow Flint Trousers
Shoes: Navy Trippen sandals

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition
Friday: Style Arc Palermo navy boucle jacket; V8710 KT Happy Place Bicycles top; Cone Mills Loomstate mustard denim Flint trousers; and navy Trippen sandals
Saturday: Maison blue check linen top; Cone Mills Loomstate mustard denim Flint trousers; and lemon Camper Right Nina Mary Jane flat
Sunday: Elk Janeke Maize Plaid top;  Cone Mills Loomstate mustard denim Flint trousers; and lemon Camper Right Nina Mary Jane flat

Creates Sew Slow: Travelling to WOW Up Close: The Exhibition
Monday: Elk Janeke Maize Plaid dress
Tuesday: WORLD Pink Mustard Black Stripe Positivity Tee and Peggy Yellow Flint Trousers
Wednesday: Elk Collage Print top and Peggy Yellow Flint Trousers
Thursday: WORLD The Break Up Dress
Shoes: Navy Trippen sandals

Sunday, 8 August 2021

How I do love thee The Sewing Workshop Maison top

I have long considered joining The Sewing Workshop's yearly skill building course "Sew Confident".  In 2020 with no in person learning opportunities I finally leapt in. I thoroughly enjoyed the monthly magazine, quarterly new pattern and the focus on adapting that pattern throughout the quarter. Needless to say as with most things last year I leapt in but didn't make a single thing from any of the four patterns just leafed through the pages of the eye candy magazine and enjoyed Linda's Facebook Live shows.

This year is different I feel motivated, unfortunately by sewing not blog writing but I will try to do better. I joined Sew Confident Series 10 and have now sewn month one's pattern (Maison Top) six times. Even though I bought one of the Maison kits (not used yet) none of the versions sewn is as per the pattern. For all of the versions sewn so far I threw caution to the winds and used a woven fabric rather than the recommended knit.

Creates Sew Slow: How I do love thee The Sewing Workshop Maison top

Sew Confident Series 10

The 2021 version of Sew Confident is quite different to previous years. Linda Lee and her team at The Sewing Workshop mastered modern technology during 2020 offering a Facebook Live session every week which whilst a bit of a sales pitch for all things Sewing Workshop I enjoyed. Now that Linda is confident in front of the camera the 2021 membership focuses on a different sewing pattern each month, supported by a Facebook Live sewing class and a question and answer live Zoom session. Both of these can be watched on YouTube after the event.

For the sewing class Linda steps you through all the stages of sewing the pattern successfully, with her tips and tricks. Not always the way I would go about doing things or have been taught in the past but it is always useful to learn new tricks and see alternative approaches.

Month two focused on the Maison joggers - not something I am likely to make anytime soon (although I did see a really nice pair of Trelise Cooper trousers with a rib cuff hem finish so maybe...).

Month three is a new version of the Ikina jacket. I have the old Ikina pattern and maybe I will make it sometime but it didn't happen in March as part of the sew along.

Month four is the Charlie bomber - which has already sparked a number of ideas. Not sewn in April...sigh.   But you never know by the end of the year I may actually truly join in with the whole concept of the sew along. The earmarked fabric is ready and waiting, even ventured out to The Fabric Store to buy the lining fabric so hopefully something to show soon.

Month five is the Whistles shirt which I bought the kit for (Kit A in blue, turquoise and brown) as I just loved the panel print by artist Noelle Phares who paints images contrasting nature with modern structures. I don't like shirts however and haven't worked out how to alter the pattern to keep the placket wedges when there won't be a placket.

Month six is the Hibiscus shirt. Cute but I can't see myself bothering to alter the pattern into a non shirt style.

Month seven is the Gardenia dress and blouse. There was a fabric kit I really fancied which sold out very quickly but I have now bought the pattern so something else you might see by the end of the year.

Month eight is the pieced Eureka top and I immediately leapt in and bought the Havana kit an assortment of six fabrics in tones of teal, bordeaux, black/brown, cream and fuchsia. It was a tough choice between the Havana and Belize colourways. The Havana colourway will be a good match for the black and white striped ponte I am about to make into The Sewing Workshop Pencil pants.

So here we are in month eight and I am just blogging about the January pattern.

Maison Blue Check Linen top

The inspiration for this top came from The Assembly Line Cuff top pattern. I don't have the pattern and am not really interested in purchasing a simple kimono sleeve top pattern however I am constantly attracted to the cuff detailing which I thought would be well suited to controlling the flare of the Maison top sleeve. I have since bought the dress version of the Cuff top, something else to sew this year! With ruffles being all the rage at the moment I replaced the hem band with a pleated flounce which I prefer as a means of creating fullness rather than gathers.

This top is a real favourite. The semi opaque texture achieved with the gingham weave appealed the minute I saw the fabric at Fabric Vision in Christchurch. It has the added bonus of the texture being enhanced when it is not ironed - no worrying about wrinkly linen with this top. Sewing success like this deserves a twirl on the beach on a hot summer's day.

Creates Sew Slow: How I do love thee The Sewing Workshop Maison top

Creates Sew Slow: How I do love thee The Sewing Workshop Maison top

Common wisdom is to sew the first garment as it is straight out of the envelope but that would be too simple. The first thing I did was to make two pattern alterations for fit: a ½" forward shoulder adjustment; and added a French dart. These two fit alterations are common across all my Maison tops. 

On one of the TSW sample garments worn by Erin the diagonal fold of fabric pointing to the bust was clearly visible and this was easily eliminated with the addition of the French dart to provide the necessary depth for my full bust. I chose the size medium tapering from the medium at the waist to the large at the hem.

Specific alterations for this version were to remove 6" from the bottom of the bodice and add a 7" pleated flounce with a rolled hem edge. The 1¼" pleats were made using a dinner fork (instructions can be found in the V&A Mary Quant Georgie dress pattern instructions). One inch was added to the sleeve hem to allow for a 2" hem with 1¾" elastic inserted. I measured the hem of a knit sleeve to determine how long to cut the elastic.

This top was constructed on the overlocker, with only the neck binding and sleeve hem sewn on the sewing machine. Fold over elastic was used to bind the neck edge.

Maison Pastel Dots top

The Sewing Workshop describe this semi-sheer chiffon crepe polyester fabric as "soothing colours blend together like tiny fish swimming in a pastel reef. Seafoam green, mustard, and light pink are the foundation for blue and black bubble-like dots floating on the surface. This flowing fabric is suitable for many different garments; shirts, skirts, dresses, and even flowy pants."

Creates Sew Slow: How I do love thee The Sewing Workshop Maison top

This top was just wonderful to make, using exactly the same pattern alterations as the Blue Check linen version. I can wear different camisoles underneath and it gives the fabric a slightly different look.

Maison Bonne Chance top

As soon as I saw this black and white striped lurex ribbing I knew I had to have some. Then all I needed was the fabric and pattern to pair it with.

Creates Sew Slow: How I do love thee The Sewing Workshop Maison top

Both the Bonne Chance cotton sateen (a design by Lisa Congdon for Nerida Hanson Fabrics) and the black and white lurex ribbing came from Miss Maude in Greytown. The ribbing was the icing on the cake for the bright colourful Bonne Chance fabric.

The alterations for this version were to remove 2" from the bottom of the bodice and 2½" from the bottom of the sleeve. The neck edge was lowered at centre front by ⅝" tapering back to the original width at the shoulder seam using a french curve.

Unfortunately the top is a little short. I thought the 7cm ribbing would more than compensate for the 2" removed from the bottom of the bodice but it doesn't have enough length to blouse over the ribbing. It also shows skin if the arms are raised with just normal arm movements. I haven't quite worked out how I'm going to fix this yet or even if it will be fixed. One option is to add the black and white striped cotton jersey I used for the neck binding as a yoke front and back. Or I could change it to a set in sleeve like the Spotted Gingham top version.

The top was sewn with french seams, with the neck binding and ribbing attached using the overlocker. The neck binding was then folded over, stitched in the ditch from the right side and trimmed.

Maison Pink Pastorale Floral Raw Emotion top

This sewing adventure was inspired by Trelise Cooper's Raw Emotion top for AW21. Love the fabric and top design the price not so much. As the Maison top had been twisted and tweaked quite successfully already this was the natural pattern choice to be adapted into the Raw Emotion top style.

Creates Sew Slow: How I do love thee The Sewing Workshop Maison top

The pink pastorale cotton woven fabric from Fabric Vision was irresistible and well matched with the pink nylon organza. In the original Trelise Cooper top the organza is a flat piece under the pleated flounce fabric. For my version I decided to pleat the cotton and organza together for the flounce. The rolled hem on the cotton and organza was done after the pleating when an organised person would have done it before. The rolled hem came away in places on the organza layer and the top is awaiting some remedial work to replace the organza in the bottom frill.

As with the blue check linen version 6" was removed from the bottom of the bodice with a 7" cotton and 8" nylon organza pleated flounce added. The pleats were once again made with the dinner fork and are 1¼" deep.

The sleeves just have the pleated organza added to the hem. I also forgot to roll hem the organza for the sleeve before I pleated it and once it was pleated the organza strip was too narrow to roll hem so a few threads were pulled for a frayed edge. The frayed edge was stopped from unravelling further with the addition of a small amount of fray check.

The inspiration top had set in sleeves and I wanted to replicate this in my version. The set in sleeve was achieved by measuring across the back pattern piece and marking the shoulder point plus seam allowance. Using my favourite woven back armhole template it was matched at the shoulder and swung out to meet the side seam. The back shoulder seam was then matched to the front and the front armhole template used in the same way.

Creates Sew Slow: How I do love thee The Sewing Workshop Maison top

Here is the new front pattern piece overlaying the original Maison top front pattern with the armhole template on top.

Sewing was done on the overlocker with only the fold over elastic used for the neck binding sewn on with the sewing machine.

Maison Daisy Raw Emotion top

I was so pleased with myself and the outcome I achieved for the Pink Pastorale version this black white and mustard daisy fabric was purchased from Fabric Vision with a gold nylon organza to become my second Raw Emotion top, this time more appropriate for the imminent Autumn season (it was sewn back in March).

Creates Sew Slow: How I do love thee The Sewing Workshop Maison top

The original Trelise Cooper Raw Emotion top has a high low hem which I replicated for this top by adding 2" to the length at centre back curved to the original side seam using a french curve. This was after I had shortened the bodice by 6". The flounce rayon layer is 7" deep and 8" with the organza. The organza flounce on the sleeve is 1" with ½" deep pleats.

The top was sewn with french seams. Both the bodice and sleeve flounce were attached using the overlocker. Black velvet fold over elastic finished the neck edge.

Creates Sew Slow: How I do love thee The Sewing Workshop Maison top

With the problem I had with the rolled hem pulling away on the organza of the Pastorale top I added a 1" strip of fusible washaway stabiliser to the hem edge of the organza before sewing the rolled hem. The settings on my Bernina 800DL overlocker for the three-thread rolled hem were: right needle 4; upper looper 5; lower looper 7; stitch length 1.8; cutting width 2; differential feed N. The washaway stabiliser was removed once the top was sewn by soaking the flounce in cold water. This seems to have resolved the problem of the rolled hem pulling away from the organza.

Maison Spotted Gingham top

Another sewing pattern provided inspiration for this Maison top version - The Sewing Revival Fantail shirt and sweatshirt. This is a New Zealand pattern company which names its patterns after (New Zealand) birds for a really cool reason. If you are intrigued you can find out why here.

I do have one or two of their patterns but not the Fantail - even though I love the bird. The pattern has raglan sleeves which I find difficult to fit so I used the features that I most liked about the Fantail and adapted the Maison top. The fit proved less than ideal and the elastic has now been removed, with the plan to chop off the shirt tail and hope that there is enough left-over fabric to make a 4" deep pleated flounce. The pleats will be about ½" deep based on another Trelise Cooper top Happiness Blooms.

Creates Sew Slow: How I do love thee The Sewing Workshop Maison top

The pattern alteration for this top was the addition of a shirt tail hem using the shape of the Megan Nielsen Dove blouse back pattern piece. The front bodice was shortened to match the back at the side seams plus a deep enough hem to form the casing for 40mm wide elastic.

This was sewn entirely on the sewing machine in my Wellington hotel room with french seams. The neck was bound with a sparkly pink fold over elastic. For the shirt tail hem a basting stitch (longest stitch length on my Bernina Activa 210) was sewn ⅜" from cut edge. The double fold hem was achieved by folding the cut edge to the basting stitch then folding again over the basting stitch. Once the hem was sewn the basting stitch was removed. This produced a really nice narrow hem with no torquing. Pity I didn't like the finished garment.

This top was originally made using the Maison top sleeve. After wearing the Bonne Chance top and realising it was a bit short I thought altering the sleeve to a set in sleeve would solve the problem, and it did. A modification was needed for the set in sleeve to have the same hem width as the original Maison top sleeve. The pattern piece was slashed from the hem to the armhole seam and the pattern pieces spread apart until the desired hem width was achieved. This resulted in a curved hem and a hem facing pattern piece was drafted wide enough to form the elastic casing. The alterations to the sleeve were necessary to achieve the gathering when the elastic is inserted. With a bit of reverse sewing the original sleeve was removed and provided enough fabric to cut the new set in sleeve. There was enough left over fabric from cutting out the top to cut the sleeve hem facing.

This top was made from fabric left over after cutting out a Merchant and Mills Trapeze dress which makes it a zero cost top apart from all the sewing effort trying to get it to the point where I will wear it!

The pattern

Unlike Sew Confident 2020 where each quarter's pattern was included in the membership, with Sew Confident 2021 the pattern is purchased separately. The Maison top and joggers was the pattern for January and February, with the top made first then the joggers.

The Sewing Workshop describe the pattern for the top as "a very loose fitting top slightly eased onto a hem band at the hip, bound neckline, and full ¾ length sleeves."

Creates Sew Slow: How I do love thee The Sewing Workshop Maison top

I was in two minds about purchasing this pattern as joggers are really not my thing - I have only owned a pair as part of my school sports kit and don't see myself embracing the trend this time round either. The Maison top on the other hand had some interesting features and I decided to bite the bullet and purchase this PDF downloadable pattern. A big thing for me as I really dislike assembling the multiple A4 pages into the pattern. This dislike may be alleviated by Papercut Patterns offering an A0 pattern printing service printed on their signature newsprint for those of us living in New Zealand.

The pattern cards

Creates Sew Slow: How I do love thee The Sewing Workshop Maison top

Outfits of the day

These tops have been on many a trip away over the summer so I found numerous outfit pictures but there is definitely a theme with the trousers. The blue jeans are the Untouched World Pure straight leg jean; the black jeans are the Andrea Moore Boyfriend jean which are much loved and starting to show their age; leading me on to the yellow jeans which are a poor attempt at mimicking the Andrea Moore Boyfriend jean using a highly modified version of the Megan Nielsen Flint trouser pattern.

Even the shoes are not demonstrating much variety. Top left and right, middle left and bottom right are the P448 Skate Pailettes Stroil Sneakers; top middle are the Ernest Wyler Keesha booties in Sunflower; middle right and bottom left are the Camper Right Nina Mary Jane Flat.

Creates Sew Slow: How I do love thee The Sewing Workshop Maison top


Sunday, 16 May 2021

Liesl + Co Rush Hour Lagos Laurel Blouse

Good job no one is hanging out for my every word as despite sewing up a storm so far this year I have not been very productive on the blogging front. Sometimes this is because I am not very proficient at the photography stage other times it is a lack of inclination to write the words. However after a long hiatus (more than three months if anyone is counting) I feel the need to commit my projects to the blog. I enjoy flicking through to see projects of the past so I need to up my blogging game and catch-up with the 2021 sewing. Starting oldest first this top was made in early January (twice - but more about that later) when I was still enjoying the summer Christmas holidays. Now we are enjoying the downward rush to winter.

This knit top was made as part of the therapy to ween myself off Vogue 8710 which I have sewn so many times now it almost sews itself. Two of the things I enjoy most about Vogue 8710 are the slightly flared hemline and the princess seams for fitting the bust. The Rush Hour blouse has an interesting peplum (the reason I bought the pattern) and the princess seams. Sewing it before peplums become passé was another motivator.

The big question is does the Rush Hour blouse have enough similarities with Vogue 8710 to replace it in my affections? I was hopeful the answer was yes and set off on my new pattern adventure.

The finished garment

This is version one which would never have been made like this if I had read the reviews for this pattern on PatternReview. However as I only read them after the event this version saw the light of day. It was worn on an expedition to The Fabric Store. As I stretched to reach or pull various fabric bolts I could feel a definite draft around my kidneys. An undesirable situation according to my grandmother who often exclaimed "you'll catch your death" when as a teenager my tops got too short thus exposing my kidneys to the cold. Wise words I didn't appreciate at the time but I certainly do now! 

Creates Sew Slow: Liesl + Co Rush Hour Lagos Laurel Blouse

A top that is only suitable for quiet moments of contemplation doesn't really suit my lifestyle so after a few pattern alterations a second version was born. I can reach and stretch to my hearts content in this and there are no unwelcome breezes on bare skin.

Creates Sew Slow: Liesl + Co Rush Hour Lagos Laurel Blouse

In all of the photographs I am wearing the Megan Nielsen Flint Peggy Yellow trousers and Arche Ikhini Yellow Sandal.

The fabric

Another Liberty of London fabric from The Fabric Store. This time it is the Lagos Laurel Ganton jersey in colourway B. I also happen to have this fabric in the A and C colourways. Whilst I clearly like this design this is the first of the Lagos Laurel fabric to become a garment. It is also the most recent purchase fitting in with my current yellow obsession, and my imaginary Stitcher's Guild SWAP 2021.

Creates Sew Slow: Liesl + Co Rush Hour Lagos Laurel Blouse

This Liberty jersey doesn't have that much stretch and I took that into account when thinking about the size to sew. 

The pattern

I had long admired this pattern and resisted buying it because I felt the design would be easy enough to adapt from the ever faithful V8710. Eventually I succumbed and the pattern was mine to sit quietly with its friends waiting for its turn on the cutting table. This is the second Liesl + Co pattern to join the collection but the first one to be sewn.

Liesl describes this top as a "lined, fitted peplum blouse. The princess seams on this style allow you to customise the fit easily. View B, the peplum top, features your choice of short or long sleeves and an asymmetrical peplum, with an invisible back zipper. The pattern includes cup sizes, a Dior dart, and instructions for customising the pattern to fit your shape."

Creates Sew Slow: Liesl + Co Rush Hour Lagos Laurel Blouse

The pattern card

Creates Sew Slow: Liesl + Co Rush Hour Lagos Laurel Blouse

The pattern alterations

I can't really detail the pattern alterations for this make because I didn't use the original pattern pieces for the bodice. When I looked at the pattern I discovered that the bodice wasn't a true princess seam as the centre front piece had a Dior (bust) dart, which means it has a shaped side front piece and the centre front piece has a short dart. In fairness the pattern description does highlight the Dior dart it just never entered my consciousness until I started working with the pattern to achieve the fit I wanted.

Even though this pattern comes with B, C and D cup pattern pieces I knew that the front pattern pieces would require alteration to fit when what I really wanted was the cut out and sew simplicity of a TNT pattern. Given the reason I bought this pattern was the peplum the easy answer was to add the peplum to Vogue 8710. This should have given me a perfectly fitting top.

The challenges of version one were because instead of using the length of Vogue 8710 minus the peplum length, I used the length of the Rush Hour blouse. It should be noted that the finished back length of the Rush Hour blouse is not stated.

The starting point for me for any pattern is choosing the size based on the finished garment measurements. For the Rush Hour blouse in a knit fabric I chose size 8 (D cup) at the bust grading out to size 16 at the bottom of the bodice pattern pieces (3, 4 and 5). There would be zero ease at the bust (the ease comes from the stretch fabric) and 2½" of positive ease at the waist. For no logical reason I can remember I chose the length of size 8. For a woven fabric I would choose the size 14 at the bust grading to the size 16 at the bottom of the bodice pattern pieces.

In short the bodice pieces of Vogue 8710 were cut at the size 8 length, shaped at the side seams to match the peplum / bodice seam width, and the original Rush Hour peplum added. This was done by:

  • laying the TNT centre front and back pattern pieces for Vogue 8710 on top of the Rush Hour Blouse bodice (pieces 3 and 5) matching centre front / back, size 8 at the shoulder neck edge and shortening by chopping the pattern off at the size 8 length
  • shortening the Vogue 8710 side front (piece 4) at the hem to match the seam where it joins to the centre front pattern piece
  • removing the ½" centre back seam so pattern piece 5 is cut on the fold and the zipper omitted
  • shaping the side seams on pattern pieces 4 and 5 so that the bodice seam length where it joins the peplum was the same as the size 16 peplum
  • cutting the peplum (pattern pieces 12, 13 and 14) as a size 16 with no alterations.
Other alterations were:
  • lowered the back neck edge ⅜"
  • lowered the front neck edge 1⅜" and altered the shape to more of an elongated U
  • used the sleeve pattern from Silhouette Patterns 195 Sweater Set (my favourite knit sleeve) which is the same sleeve used in my TNT Vogue 8710.

As I said at the beginning of this post this resulted in a top that was too short for anything but quiet contemplation and a few more alterations were made, as follows:

  • bodice lengthened 1½". As I had used my Vogue 8710 TNT pattern pieces I just cut them off 1½" longer than version one. If I had been using the original Rush Hour blouse pattern pieces I think I would simply have added the extra length at the bottom rather than the lengthen shorten line. For reference my lengthened pattern pieces are ⅞" longer than the size 16
  • back bodice side seam increased ½" at peplum seam line tapering back to nothing at the armhole.
  • front peplum (pattern pieces 12 and 13) lengthened ½" at the side seam hem blending back to the original size 16 at centre front
  • back peplum lengthened ½" at the hem and widened ½" at the side seam. I also wanted the back peplum to have more swing so I slashed the pattern piece at the hem up to the bodice seam line and curved out the hem edge until it was 1½" times larger than the bodice seam length
  • ¼" dart made in the curve of the U as the front neckline gaped slightly.
If the original Rush Hour blouse comes in B, C and D cup sizing why would it require fit alterations?
  • the bust dart tip is just over 4" from centre front (size 8 4⅛" and size 16 4½"). For most women this would result in the dart tip being at the bust apex, as generally the distance between the most prominent part of each breast is 8". From a pattern drafting perspective it is not incorrect as the dart can end anywhere within the bust circle. However as Ann Hathaway in that pink Prada dress will attest this is not the most flattering look. For me having a larger bust the dart tip is generally about 2" away from the bust point, as the more the bust is rounded the further away the tip of the dart will be from the bust point, with the dart stopping short of the flat part of the front of the bust
  • the bust point is not marked but measuring down from the shoulder / neck edge point, based on where the dart tip is, it is about 10" (size 8 9⅞" and size 14 10⅜"). I need the bust point to be 11½"
  • other alterations may be required but the reality is I can't ever see me making the Rush Hour blouse with the bodice pattern pieces. I have a good knit version now using my TNT Vogue 8710 and am most likely to make a woven version by adding the peplum to my TNT Silhouette Patterns 400 Traditional blouse.

The sewing

There is nothing interesting about the sewing and I didn't use the pattern sewing instructions. Apart from the hems it was sewn on the overlocker with four threads and a ⅜" seam allowance. The pattern uses ½" seam allowances so I increased the circumference of the peplum by ½" and at the bodice peplum seam line. 

The peplum hem was stay stitched at ⅜" and turned up. The open side of the right front peplum hem was mitred, using the same method as detailed here. The sleeve hem was turned up ½". All hems were sewn with a straight stitch (length 3.0).

The neck binding was a 2" wide strip of fabric folded in half and sewn to the neck edge with a four thread overlock stitch and ⅜" seam allowance to give a finished ½" band (⅛" is taken up by turn of cloth).

Sewing construction was: sew centre and side fronts together; sew front to back at right shoulder seam; attach the neck binding; sew left shoulder seam; sew the sleeve in flat; attach the back peplum to the bodice back; turn up the hems on the two front peplum pieces before attaching to the bodice front; sew up the side seams; hem the bodice and sleeves.

Take two

I wrote a lot of notes about what didn't work in the first version and decided it was unlikely to be worn as I don't want to expose skin when I reach forward or raise my arms. Luckily I had made this top from a relatively recent fabric purchase that was still available at The Fabric Store. Before I rushed off to buy more I got out the left-over fabric to see how much more fabric I would need to purchase. An amazing thing happened and the shapes of the left-over fabric were perfect to cut out a whole new top without the need for a fabric purchase. Think the cup of tea helped.

Creates Sew Slow: Liesl + Co Rush Hour Lagos Laurel Blouse


Outfit of the day

Whilst I was very happy with version two of the Rush Hour blouse it took until April to be worn in real life (for a whole day as opposed to the few minutes it takes for blog photos!)  It was worn for work and the outfit was recreated for these photos as I don't have the photographer with me during the week.

I do think I need to learn how to take timed pictures with my phone as I would like to record my outfits everyday as it gives a lot of useful insight both into what in the wardrobe gets worn as well as the different styling choices.

Creates Sew Slow: Liesl + Co Rush Hour Lagos Laurel Blouse

The Rush Hour Lagos Laurel blouse was worn with the Untouched World Weekend jacket in colourway Kowhai; Megan Nielsen Flint mustard check trousers and Ernest Wyler Keesha Sunflower ankle boots.

I preferred it styled with these mustard check Flint trousers rather than the peggy yellow ones. Both of these trousers were sewn for the never entered Pattern Review Endless Combinations 2020 competition.

The photographer found these photographs challenging to take as he kept capturing the moment I had my eyes closed. He also captured the moment I was futzing with the outfit.

Creates Sew Slow: Liesl + Co Rush Hour Lagos Laurel Blouse