Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Made By Rae Washi Dress

Have you ever fallen in love with a quilting cotton or even a printed cotton/linen that's not really a traditional 'garment fabric', and really, really wanted to wear it? Here's your answer: the Washi Dress, named for the fabric that designer Rae Hoekstra made her original version in, a quilting cotton print based on strips of colourful Japanese sticky paper 'washi tape'.
click image to enlarge

Our shop sample in the first photo is made in Field Study 'Fine Feathered' (denim colourway), a quilting cotton designed by the amazing Anna Maria Horner.

This dress truly is fabulous: comfortable and flattering to a multitude of shapes and sizes. It's fitted only around the top of the torso to just under the bust, where pleats and a slight A-line make it skim beautifully over everything on the way to your dainty knees. It's worth taking the time to make a muslin (rough test version) of the bodice section to get the size and fit just right.

Somehow, the genius design of this dress really works for quilting cottons, which can't be said of a lot of garment patterns. This leaves you with a wide open choice of amazing fabrics to use!
click image to enlarge

The back is shirred - the pattern includes full instructions for how to achieve this using shirring elastic on your bobbin. This gives the bodice great shape but the stretch leaves it super-comfy. And if shirring isn't for you, you can easily substitute narrow elastic stitched down with a zigzag or make channels to thread elastic through on the inside. (We'll happily explain these options in detail, in store.)

And did we mention pockets? Oh yes, in-seam pockets!

Here's a Washi that Jane made last summer in linens - similar available in store.

For more Washi Dress inspiration, have a look at the Washi Dress Flickr Pool and for information on options for long sleeves, linings and more, visit Rae's own blog.

Washi Dress printed pattern and a multitude of fabric options now available at The Drapery!

- Fiona & Jane xx

Friday, June 14, 2013

Warm hats with our wool tweed

Got a chilly noggin? How about making a classic flat cap with our beautiful 100% wool tweed?

This is one of those sewing projects that seems almost magical in its ability to turn small, flat pieces of fabric into something so substantially 3-dimensional and pleasing. It rates very highly on the scale of 'seriously, did you make that?' admiration yet it's really not that hard and requires no specialist tools or materials.

The pattern used here is Nicole Mallalieu's Flat Cap which is available as a pdf download. At The Drapery we also have the Sew Liberated Huck Finn Cap printed pattern, which is very similar and fits kids aged 6 months to 10 years. (Pictured below in a non-Drapery fabric!) This pattern for the littles has a clever hidden piece of elastic at the back which helps the cap fit growing heads.
We also stock the template plastic that's used inside the brims, which is the only other thing you'll need besides fabric, thread, pins and sewing machine. 

You can have a bit of fun choosing the lining. For example, this one is lined with Oakshott handloomed cotton in 'Magic Pink' (an amazing shot pink/green that's impossible to accurately convey on screen):
And this one with Anna Maria Horner Field Study Voile (in store but not yet online):

For the inner bands I chose not to use the outer fabric as specified because I wanted something smoother against the forehead. The pink cap features some Heather Ross 'moons' linen/cotton from my stash.

If you use a different fabric for the band like this, you can easily get any size cap out of two fat quarters (50cm x half the width of the fabric): you will need one fat quarter for the outer and one for the lining. We're very happy to cut these amounts of our tweeds or any other fabrics for you in store - making the project more affordable as well as extremely satisfying.

Hooray for hats!

- Jane & Fiona xx

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sewing with our Hemp/Cotton Denim

A fabric we hunted high and low to source for The Drapery was a good hemp-containing denim. Such a great basic and with the added eco-credentials of hemp.
We have two great options: the superb lightweight, versatile Hemp/Organic Cotton Denim and this one used below, which is 25% Hemp 75% Cotton, a substantial 340gsm yet actually quite smooth, supple and a little drapey. At 150cm wide, the dress below was eked out of a 110cm cut.

The dress is Style A from the Stylish Dress Book by Yoshiko Tsukiori - the translated and western-sized version which we have in the shop:

The sizing is very generous - in fact whilst I measured a size 14, I use the size 10 in this pattern and even still took it in a bit at the sides because the denim sits in a more pronounced A-line shape. The pattern has bust darts and soft gathers at the front for shaping, and for further shape and visual interest I added a button tab at the centre back to cinch it in a little. The tab was made with three layers of denim for structure and the buttonholes made with a fabulous vintage Singer buttonholer attachment. Buttons are handmade porcelain from Hobart, and have been sitting in my stash for a couple of years!
 Buttons stitched on with embroidery thread and reinforced with small circles of denim on the inside:

Friends, I cannot say enough good things about sewing and wearing this denim. It is easy to cut and sew and has enough suppleness that even sewing through multiple layers and joins is no problem. It holds its shape well and does not crease easily. Possibly best of all, it has an apparently Teflon-like ability to repel dirt: I have worn this at least five times (with tops and leggings underneath) and it still doesn't seem to need a wash. How eco-friendly is that? (I promise it doesn't smell either. Does it Fiona? No, she says!)

- Jane & Fiona xx

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Simple Linen Cowl

It's cold here! We're starting to refer to these linen cowls as The Drapery's 'uniform'. They're so soft and cosy, yet lightweight, you can easily wear one all day, indoors and out.

The construction is so simple it almost doesn't deserve a tutorial so let's just call this inspiration, shall we?


- 40cm washed linen or linen/cotton blend, 150cm wide, some of ours are double-sided which offers a lovely contrast.
- Sewing machine and matching thread or embroidery thread/perle cotton and hand sewing needle

Press a narrow, double-fold hem on each long (cut) side of the fabric. Sew by machine or hand-sew with embroidery thread.

This hand-sewn stitch goes vertically down over the hem then horizontally across on the back, then vertically up the hem, horizontally across on the back and so forth, giving two rows of small horizontal stitches on the back and a kind of tiny stick fence effect over the hem side. (Let us know if this stitch has a proper name!) ** update ** thanks to our lovely customer Emma who has identified this (well her mum did) as a version of Ladder Stitch! Hooray for the sewing community :)

Now join the selvedge ends together. Stitch together at the bottom of the selvedge, press open and stitch the selvedges down for a neat finish.

Instead of washed linen you could try a double gauze (buy 75cm and cut horizontally down the centre, then join into one long piece 55cm x 150cm)... or try velveteen backed with voile (in the shop but not up on the webshop yet, sorry) as per Anna Maria Horner's tutorial here.

Snuggle up!

- Fiona & Jane xx

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Megan Nielsen Briar Top

Have you used any of Megan Nielsen's lovely patterns? She's based in Perth, but spent a few years in the US recently. Megan has been a delight to deal with when ordering for The Drapery and her patterns have many, many fans across the world.

I've been wanting to try the Briar Top pattern for some time. Here it is in our Tangerine hemp/organic cotton jersey.

This is the cropped option, and I cut the sleeves extra long, because there was enough fabric and I thought the short top with really long sleeves would be a bit fun. I measure closer to size M but made the L because I wanted this to be quite loose for layering. I would definitely cut a size M if I wanted to wear it without a layer underneath.

(Under it I am wearing the Make it Perfect Poppy Tunic, cut shorter than usual.)

The pattern gives two options for the neckline finish. I used the binding option which is quite thick and sturdy - I like it a lot! In fact, I would usually use my overlocker to sew up anything in a knit but I decided to use my regular machine and a small zigzag stitch - partly for ease of matching thread colour, and partly so I could really recommend the pattern to people without an overlocker. In this fabric, at least, I can say it worked a treat.

This fabric is just so soft and drapey and the zigzag stitch mostly disappears into it.

The pattern instructions are great and come in a lovely little stapled booklet, which even has a section in the back for writing your own notes about fabrics, alterations and other things you always think you'll remember for next time.

Want to see more Briars? Check out this lovely Briar by Blogless Anna, which she cut halfway between the cropped and long versions on the pattern, and this one by Inder, with bonus sweet kiddos.

Can you see a Briar in your future?

Pattern and fabric available at The Drapery, of course.

- Jane x