Saturday, October 31, 2009

Which witch

Today being Halloween and all, even though we don't celebrate it here in Australia, I decided to embrace the Halloween spirit in my daily ensemble.  Hence the witch-y colour scheme, and the appearance of my familiar in the photo at right.  However I was the only one in the family that got the reference.  Neither did I see anybody else out and about today who looked remotely Halloweenish.  Oh, apart from a photo of my 4yr old nephew who went to a party last night dressed as a skeleton.  So cute!

I love this dress.  This has to be the easiest pattern in the Vogue repertoire; it has, ooh, three pieces and one of these is a mere stay.  I ask you.  Foolproof.

In this incarnation it is my "little black dress".  I chose high quality silk jersey mix as I wanted it to look really good and to last.  The look of the dress is unique I think.  The unusual folds and interesting draping effects take it a step above your average run-of-the-mill LBD.  The pattern is an Issey Miyake design, who is a genius at realising simple, very sculptural shapes that manage to celebrate the female form while appearing quite unlike most of the dresses you're used to seeing around.

Today was very windy so I wore a cardigan for most of the day; shopping and spending time with my mother, my daughter and my sister-in-law; a girl's morning out.  To show off the details of the fabric manipulation I also included a photo of the dress sans cardi.

So.  It's a very comfortable dress to wear, obviously as its all stretch fabric.  Its also SO easy to make; oh, did I mention that there is absolutely NO hemming or finishing of the raw edges?  How great is that?!  The perfect beginners project, and a designer look into the bargain!!

Other details:
Cardigan; Scope, bought at some shop in Melbourne
Sandals; Micam by Joanne Mercer, bought in Hobbs

Friday, October 30, 2009

Post with no name

Please don't yawn, but this skirt is ... wait for it ... Vogue 7303.  Again.  I know, sorry.  
I really made this one for winter, out of a lovely winter-white wool mix, with a cream bemsilk lining, but it works just as well for spring.  I centred the (invisible) zip in the back this time.   Just a simple plain stylish skirt out of beautiful fabric, that can be dressed up or down.
I tried to get Sienna to pose in the picture, but she got camera shy this time and hid bashfully behind me!  I think she's embarrassed about her naughty barking during the night... 

Please excuse my unattractive feet but I wanted to show my Revlon Blackest Black toenails.  Aren't they cool?

Other details:

Camisole; Country Road
Cardigan; Diesel, bought in Rome
Necklace; Charmed I'm Sure, gift from my husband
Sandals; Vicenza, from Soletta shoes

Thursday, October 29, 2009

International Wear a Dress Day

Today I went to the cinema with a friend so decided to wear my NEW dress for the occasion.  Also, Dress-a-Day has decreed today "International Wear a Dress Day", so how could I not?  Any excuse...

I'm quite proud of this dress.  I made it specifically to go with this very expensive cardigan I bought several years ago.  I've worn this cardigan with other things that have now gone the way of the Good Samaritan's bin, and I needed to have something else for it to go with.  I thought this polyester chiffon fabric was a pretty good match for the (silk) chiffon pockets on the cardigan (see detail picture below), and envisaged a floaty, dreamy, pretty summer dress.
The pattern, Vogue 7748, is one I bought years ago but not yet used, so I decided to give it a whirl.  It seemed a good base for a wrap dress, with no frills.  However I thought it was a bit too basic and I wanted just a few frills!  I also wanted the final effect of the dress to be a kind of jumble of flowery colours, without a discernible pattern repeat.  The addition of a few ruffles could help achieve this.
I cut each of the skirt pieces to half their supposed length.  The right front, which ends up crossed over the left front in the finished garment, was further shaped in a curve up to the waistline.  For each skirt piece, I joined together three large part doughnut shapes, and added these to the bottom of each of the skirt pieces.
I also added a double ruffle around the neckline, although only slightly ruffled as I'm not a very frilly person!  
I didn't make the belt in the pattern; but added long sashes to the waist edge of each dress front, and left a small gap in the right side seam for the left sash to pass through, so I can tie it at the back of the dress.  I also added a sleeve detail (see below picture) to look more feminine and interesting than the plain hem indicated in the pattern.
The skirt hem and the neck ruffles were finished with a black rolled hem edge, done on the overlocker.
Because the fabric is see-through, I made a separate petticoat out of lightweight jersey (see below, modelled by Bessie).  This is simply a tanktop bodice, copied from a tanktop I already had, and a quarter-circle each for the skirt front and back.  This was just run up on the overlocker, and the edges left raw.  Its just a petticoat after all, and the jersey won't unravel or fray.

I felt good and comfortable in this dress today, so it'll probably get a lot of use this summer.

Other details:
Cardigan; Alannah Hill
Shoes; Micam by Joanne Mercer, bought in Hobbs

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rediscovering the full-length skirt

This skirt was made last summer when I felt in the mood for something long and swishy; inspired by a skirt I had seen in a parade at Ricarda.  I can't remember who the designer was.  This polyester chiffon was on super special at Fabulous Fabrics and I bought the rest of the roll, about 3m.  This skirt used every last cm! My starting point was Butterick 3134, a great basic pattern to have as it contains a pattern for each of two, three and four gore A-line skirts.  I used the three gore version, without the waistband.  Customising proceeded as follows:  each piece was lengthened and tapered down the left side to a "shark-tooth"point.  To the bottom of each piece was added a huge gathered part-doughnut shaped piece of fabric, skewed with a thicker doughnut width to the high side, narrowing to a lesser width on the low side, to create the ruffled swirly hemline.  The gores were then pieced together.  A silver bemsilk lining was cut using my old standby Vogue 7303, and the edge of the skirt was finished with a fine handkerchief hem. 
 I wore this a lot; it felt so elegant and feminine to wear as it flutters and kicks out with each step.  I tried to show this in the picture by getting an action shot as you can't capture the breezy beauty of it when its just hanging flat.
Although grey is never my first choice when it comes to choosing colours for my wardrobe, and I really bought this fabric because it was a bargain, it proved to be right on trend as Australia had a love affair with grey that lasted all last summer.  Grey, grey, grey, or alternatively charcoal, stone, cement or putty (these colour descriptions from a friend that works in a very trendy boutique!)  
Why does a country so saturated with sunlight choose the drabbest of colours to garb itself?
Other details:
Camisole and cardigan; Country Road

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Top that doesn't suit me?

Just a day working, running errands, doing chores, gardening and a bit of grocery shopping, so didn't feel the need to dress to impress.  This top I made about two years ago, and dug it out from the top of the wardrobe just to put it in the blog.  I feel like I'm wearing some real golden oldies lately... need to move on to some new stuff tomorrow...
The top pattern is my own design, polyester net cut out and draped over Bessie (the dressmaking dummy) to fit my vision.  The front has a slightly draped, cowl-y effect, and the front piece was cut about 12cm longer in the side seams, then gathered and pleated to fit the back side seam in the bust region.  I feel this makes a nice soft pleating effect over the bust.  I was going for a slightly medieval sleeve feel with the extended bit on the end of the sleeve, with limited success as I find this flappy bit extremely annoying when I'm doing housework.  The fabric is see through, so I sewed in a soft jersey "vest" lining in the body seams.  This top was sewn entirely on the overlocker making for a very quick construction; I spent perhaps ten times as long cutting, draping and pinning onto Bessie to get just the right effect.  For an artistic effect, I have put all the seams on the outside of the garment.  Not surprisingly this makes for a very comfortable top!
Even though I feel this top has had its day and I'm ready to toss it out, its been a lovely flattering shape and design and one I plan to use again.   In different colours.
In the latest Australian Stitches was an article on finding the colours that suit you, and I spent some time studying it last night, and besieging my husband with inane questions like "is my skin ivory or beige?" and "are my eyes unusual green or are they just hazel?" before he glazed over.  Seems they are introducing a new system with new categories, with names involving Bright/Dusky, Warm/Cool and Dark/Light.  I'm still not sure what I am, but I know that this top is probably not in my colours!  I had my colours done years ago, and after a lot of pfaffing around with swathes of fabric I was pronounced to be an Autumn.  I've been quite happy to be an Autumn.
The jeans are favourite summer jeans, washed so often the care and fabric label is washed white!  I do remember however that they are New Zealand made, from tencel which is light and cool for summer.  The shape is so flattering I traced it out last year and made an identical pair out of white linen which has been just as good.  I might try this again this year out of a different fabric.

On right is a picture of the wounded modelling her stylish sock, which I might say she has done her darndest to strip off.  I think purple and pinky/beige are her colours, no?  Maybe a Spring?

Other details:
Jeans; Development
Thongs/flipflops; Mountain Design

Monday, October 26, 2009

My Marni fix

Spring/Summer 07, Marni had a collection that struck me with lightning, fashion-wise.  I loved and could have worn simply everything in the parade.  On my budget, not to mention that Marni is unavailable in Perth, and also given that I love to sew, the only option was to try to recreate the looks myself.  
The slimline black oversize sports parka over a crisp white skirt was my absolute favourite look, the one I just had to have, and one I wanted to reproduce as closely as possible.  
So here is my effort, compared to the real deal.  Please excuse that the model on the right is far less attractive. 
Photo above from Marni Spring/Summer 07, see here

On pulling it out I realised its no longer a look that I am wearing as I've moved on fashion-wise, but as previously expressed in this blog, Wear Everything in the Wardrobe is my new rule.  My Monday morning gals expressed surprise this morning that I was wearing black, as its not a colour I really wear much. 
I remember at the time I was first wearing it I looked quite different from everyone out and about on the street, as it wasn't a look that had hit Perth and wouldn't yet for another 18 months when everyone was into this look all of a sudden.  We lag a bit behind the fashions here.

The skirt is Vogue 7303 view A, seen previously here, and the top is my own design.   Well, actually its really Marni's design, slavishly copied by me, but by "my design" I meant that I didn't use a pattern, but planned, cut and fitted the pieces to Bessie (the dressmaker's dummy) to achieve the look I wanted.  I was particularly pleased with the high bunchy collar and felt (still do) that the finished result is easy and comfortable to wear.
I think its a very urban look, perhaps better suited to striding about the city.  A problem with the black parka, given my lifestyle, is its tendency to attract and display animal fur, with most unattractive results.
Speaking of which, a comment asked after Sienna, the furry beast lying half out of sight in my photo.  The silly-billy has cut open a pawpad on a sharp bit of fence in our yard and is hobbling about looking woebegone (poor love), so I'm walking alone for a while.  However I promise to include her again, as requested.  The camera loves her (yeah, baby! Austin Powers style), so I think she deserves a photo-shoot... yes?

Other details:
Shoes; Perrini, bought many years ago

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A night at the ballet (and some do's and don'ts)

Last night managed to have my gorgeous salon-styled hair stretch out just a little bit further for a night at the ballet.  We saw Swan Lake by the Australian Ballet; well,  words fail me.  Just flip open a thesaurus to the entries for "magnificent" and "superb" and apply all the words therein.  Thoroughly enjoyed it... and am quite inspired to make a Dior New Look style suit or dress entirely out of ecru lace with some sort of pastel underlay... may look a bit funny on me as I'm not exactly a petite ballerina... Watch this space...
Anyhoo, this was my ensemble for the event; the skirt is Vogue 8296 view B, made this winter just gone.  The fabric is wool, a sort of winter white, overprinted with lovely brushstroke swirls of olivey taupe.  I bought it from Astratex in Melbourne on a trip with my mother.  The fabric was quite expensive and the pattern called for a lot of it, something for future consideration (ie. use different pattern).  The pattern itself was very simple and went together quickly with no drama, front and back identical to each other.  I love the look of this skirt and the fabric is luxurious and gorgeous to wear so I'm glad I went to the extra expense for an "occasion" garment.  However, the silk lining was, and is, a problem.  The pattern called for it to be cut on the bias, which I did.  However the silk I used is so clingy and is always winding its way around my legs.  It also doesn't hang quite right when I look at it inside the skirt; and I think this is because of being on the bias.  Or maybe it's because silk is notorious for being a bit precious and temperamental.  The Lindsay Lohan of fabrics.  
This has been a go-to semi-formal outfit for winter, and even though the weather is warming up considerably I knew the theatre would be air-conditioned to arctic conditions so dressed accordingly.  I'm sure the girl just along from me in a booby little mini dress was freezing.
Speaking of this, there are some does and don'ts when it comes to dressing for the ballet or serious theatre which it would be helpful to print on the ticket or something, for people who have no idea.  Just a short list, easy to remember.
1.  Do not wear jeans
2.  Do not wear an old T-shirt
3.  Do not wear sneakers, in short, if you have recently been gardening or washing your car, do get showered and change into something nice before you go to the theatre.  
That's all really.  Don't want to come across as a grumpy old bag, but there are so few events in life you can dress up for.
OK, rant over.

Maybe its just me, I so love looking at (and wearing) beautiful clothes...  

Thanks to my photographer, at right in a self-portrait.
Other details:
Top; Metalicus
Scarf; ?, bought in Paris
Boots; di Sempre, bought on sale from Zomp

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Handwoven, with love

Saturday, 24th October 2009

Today's skirt is Vogue 7303 again, I know, a little predictable; I really need to get me some new dressmaking patterns. The difference this time is the fabric; it was handwoven by my mother some years ago. She had plans to make it into a simple pullover top, but she eventually handed it on to me. I saw it as a skirt (surprise!) Unfortunately Mum had cut a slit in the middle for a neck-hole, which made for a dressmaking challenge. I had to add a bit of beige cotton on the top of the skirt back to make it long enough, and I lined it with bemsilk. The pattern is very simple, and the fabric is lovely and is what makes the skirt. In the close-up you can see the mixture of blues, greens and golds in with the nubbly oyster and neutral threads. I loved the little fluffy fringing effect of the edge and so left it unhemmed as a feature on the hemline.
I wore it to do a bit of grocery shopping and run some errands this morning, and finished up by treating myself with some afternoon tea in Applecross Village.
And just to prove I'm not too precious about my clothes, I later donned a fleece jacket and my gardening clogs and gloves and transplanted agapanthus bulbs! And repotted an orchid! And de-pooped the gardenbeds!...ok, ok, too much information... sorry. I did wash. Promise.

Other details:
Top; Ezibuy
Belt; don't know brand, but it is emu leather, bought from Luxe

Friday, October 23, 2009

Good hair day

Friday, 23rd October 2009

Had a sociable day today; met some friends this morning, went on a long walk along the beach later with another friend, and wound up the day with a hair appointment. Ah, isn't getting your hair done one of the most self-indulgent and luxurious events in one's life? I love sitting and flicking through the latest fashion magazines, getting a cup of tea, having my hair washed and head massaged, followed by the blow-dry that makes it look so much nicer than I can ever achieve myself at home! Such a treat...
Today's skirt is one I made last summer using Vogue 7880 view B, but without the silly hanging bits that are illustrated on the pattern cover. I've always left these off actually. I used a lovely burnout polyester chiffon in a wild kaleidoscope of yummy colours; chocolate, raspberry, lime, lemon, pistachio... Don't you love how colours are defined in terms of food nowadays? Makes you salivate just describing them; a sort of feast for the senses. Maybe that's the point. You don't hear a garment described as a brown top any more, its alway a chocolate top, or a coffee, mocha or toffee top (as appropriate).
Even though the fabric is chiffon and quite luxurious I've used it as a casual skirt from day 1, even bike-riding and beach-walking, like today! The skirt has many layers and bits hanging down all around which flutter and ripple in the breeze in a lovely feminine way. As the fabric is see-through I extended the front and back bemsilk lining so that it formed a self petticoat underneath, and just marked the original length as to where to attach the skirt bottom pieces to it.
This has been a great pattern, although I have to admit that the first time I used it I found it quite complicated and attached the lining pieces to the bottom skirt pieces inside out and had to unpick it all; its a pattern that you have to concentrate on and trust that it will all come together all right in the end - it does!
Other details:
Top; Metalicus
Camisole (under); Country Road
Sandals; Micam by Joanne Mercer, from Hobbs

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Uniform butchery

Not handmade by me, but this is my daughter, who you could say is a creation of mine! in some small way... One cool thing they get to do on their last day is to reconfigure their school uniform however they like, and here is her version! It is all frankenstein-ed from different components of the uniform, including buttons and hair-ribbons, some of the girls used their bathers, sports shirts, name it. We bought a 2nd hand one for this, as she still needs her real one for Speech night! She did a wonderful job, and its all her own design and handiwork. It fits perfectly. (There can be no higher praise from a seamstress!)

It was very inspiring; there is such a wealth of creative talent in our teenagers, it gives you real hope for the future. You know the world will be in safe hands, and all the rest of it... sigh...
It was wonderful to see the girls so excited and happy and full of confidence for their future and bursting with enthusiasm.
Its been wonderful to have a day this uplifting...

Big day out

Thursday, 22nd October 2009

Thankyou for your lovely comments!

Today is a big day, my daughter's final day at school. Her school makes a big deal out of it for us parents too; it started with a flower ceremony, followed by final assembly, morning tea, chapel service and then lunch; in order. Quite a day. So I needed a DRESS! I made this previously for a lunch held at the beginning of spring, but couldn't wear it without risk of freezing half to death. So, held it over for this occasion.
Its New Look 6699 view G,J,L again, a little ripper of a pattern. As the lace I bought for it was completely see-through, I lined it completely with a cotton batiste petticoat. I added wide coffee-coloured border lace around the bottom of the petticoat and a simple tube sleeve of the same lace around the armholes. I moved the invisible zip closure to the left side seam as usual and eliminated the back centre seams. The midriff is of gathered silk, and I also added a long sash of the stuff to tie at the back. You can't see it in the picture, but I added a close-enough-to invisible pocket on the right side, just big enough for a mobile phone and a credit card. I think I'll do this to all my party dresses in future... so useful...
Got several compliments for this dress today, which was very gratifying! Ah yes, we seamstresses always deflect praise, "oh, thankyou but it was easy, nothing to it, really" but its nice to get recognition, no? Here's a challenge, approach someone you don't really know very well and pay them a compliment. It will make their day and, by association, will give you a boost too!

Other details:
Shoes; Marco Santini, from Marie Claire

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How to wear menswear inspired pants

Wednesday, 21st October 2009
Just a quiet day at home, so dressed accordingly. Both pieces I've worn already recently, breaking my rule. But I'm wearing the pants again today since they won't be really dirty from yesterday, although they will be now since I walked the dog in them this morning. Working up a sweat!
And the top is such a favourite I just had to pull it out again. It is one I posted about previously here (Butterick 4985, view A sleeves, view B collar), except today it can be seen more clearly.
And again, I like the contrast of the ripped, shabby, lace-y casualness of this top with its antique type buttons against the very tailored, almost-menswear pants. I think the best way to wear menswear is to have something ultra-feminine along with it.
Oh, and this summer I am really loving Revlon's Blackest Black nail polish for my toenails. I feel so chic and edgy with it! This is such a departure for me, who is usually wearing coral pink or nude tones on my nails. Yeah, for something different!

Other details:
Pants; Morrison

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Secretarial duties

Tuesday, 20th October 2009
Today did my duty as secretary of the Ladies' Auxiliary at school, so dressed secretary-like. Kind of.
This top is McCalls 4454 view C, but made using pieces of leftover silks I had from previous projects and some velvet ribbon I had bought for something else, but not used. The ripped strips of silk were sewn to a bemsilk facing version of the camisole after draping, pinning and fitting on Bessie, (my faithful dummy) and another lining attached inside to hide the bits and ends.
I really like the combination of grey, purplish grey, and bronzy browns; giving it subtle smoky style, and the soft, shimmery layers of translucent silk are sort of ethereal. The ripped edges form a rebellious and untailored contrast to the pants.
The necklace pendant is also self-made.
Other details;
Pants, Morrison
Shoes; Vicenza, from Soletta shoes

Monday, October 19, 2009


Found this one and only picture of the other version of the dress I posted about earlier today here, from McCalls 4454, elongated to dress length; the one made out of patchwork fabric bought in Calico and Ivy. It was bought as a collection of "fat quarters", from which I cut large, medium and small squares. The squares were pieced and the pattern cut out so that the smallest squares were at the bodice of the dress, and getting larger in size down to the hem of the dress, at which all the largest squares were. All were on the diagonal.
I loved the seaside-y colours; it may not look like much from the back but it really was a lovely dress and got a lot of compliments. Sigh. I think it got a rip in it eventually.
I think it looked better than its follow-up, partly because of the pretty fabric, and partly because the skirt was a lot more billowy, a better look for me.
(On a pictorial note, I'm at the top of Mount Lycabettus looking out over Athens .... we walked up to the top and back and really earned our drinks! It was fab!)

Bouchee dress

Monday, 19th October 2009
Meeting my Monday morning gals today, so I'm wearing the hot pink Metalicus cardi they gave me for my birthday to show it off. I'm not sure about my dress this morning. Not sure because I always feel I look like an elephant in it. Its from McCalls 4454 view D, which is actually a little top pattern. I used it because I really like the bodice arrangement, and just drastically elongated the whole thing to dress length. I also added some triangular inserts to splay out the skirt and hemline, and added (artistic touch!) two HUGE pockets diagonally and randomly to the front. The pockets were also to cover some discoloured areas; as the fabric was originally from the remnant bin at Fabulous Fabrics because it had partially faded in patches.
Its not been a bad dress as its very cool to wear in summer, but ... all ladies like to avoid looking like an elephant. So this may be its last outing. If you are a pear shape, like me, then its probably best to avoid long A-line dresses with no waist definition. I think I need waist definition. The funny thing is I made this same dress (see here) before using patchwork fabric bought from Calico and Ivy, and it looked great (shrug).

The necklace was also made by me, during my beading phase. My ladies this morning admired it!!! Still, they're always nice to me!

Other details:
Cardigan; Metalicus
Sandals; Micam by Joanne Mercer, from Hobbs
Bag; Gucci

Sunday, October 18, 2009

To sleep, perchance to dream

With the lovely warm summery weather here to stay, fingers crossed, its time to don summer jammies. My choice this year is sort of what a saucy fifties housewife might choose. The colours of mint green combined with red are kind of fifties, I think. The lace with red ribbon is very lingerie, and not pairing it with either black, red or white saves it from being tarty. A final touch was the three apple buttons, (Eve, gettit?) left over from a baby jumper I knitted many moons ago. The shorts have POCKETS! Well, I had enough fabric, so why not. The shorts were made using last year's summer pyjama bottoms as a template, cut off short. The top is McCalls 4454 view C without the tie. I've used this pattern many times, and usually modify it by sewing it much narrower at the torso (about 4cm each side) and inserting a left side zip, but this time its as is and about 5cm longer.
My husband wanted to know why I'm not modelling it, well, ahem I think that's obvious, no? But thanks for the suggestion...

Golden glow

Sunday, 18th October 2009
Mum in a comment asked how I was planning to spice up my life....well, that's a curly question! But a good starting point would be to spice up my wardrobe, as if I needed an excuse to do something to my wardrobe...
Our moods and emotions are determined and defined in terms of colours, red roses are given on Valentine's Day, black is worn to funerals, brides wear white dresses, etc etc
So, here we have one cardigan, found in a secondhand shop. Oyster white. Sure its a useful colour which will go with lots of outfits, but isn't going to turn any heads now, is it? I've been known to dye fabrics with ground turmeric with great success, but this time I went with a Dylon pack, from the chemist. (I've also got an old red T-shirt which has proven fantastic for adding blotchy pink swirls to a boring blouse, but that's a story for another post....) One chemical bath later...

Other details:
Cardigan; Country Road, found in a secondhand shop
Camisole; Country Road
Skirt; Vogue 7303, olive corduroy

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Trying artistic photo shoot...

Saturday, 17th October 2009
Tried to do something different with the photos today. Every day I discover something new about blogging, so... proof; that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!
This is my favourite skirt pattern again, Vogue 7303, view A with the skirt overlay. The cardi is one I posted about here.
Other details:
Camisole; Country Road
Art; Jane Flowers