Thursday, December 31, 2009

Autumn sewing plans

I bought this great fashion diary (called a "Fashionary") online before Christmas, one for me and one for my daughter.  It's great for planning outfits as it has figures pre-drawn very lightly on the page ready for you, which makes it so much easier for a non-drawer like myself, with no worries about getting the body proportions right...  Lots of fun to be drawing and colouring in just like in kindergarten again!
I've mapped out an autumn sewing plan, with some items I've already completed recently such as the blue/grey pants, navy blazer and the green/brown print silk dress, other projects such as the green knitted cardigan, beige trench coat, blue skirt and mustard top are all currently in progress.  The other fabrics were bought the other day.  Actually feeling like I was a bit too conservative and perhaps I should have bought more fabric ... may have to go back while the sale is still on...
I'm trying to put more effort into finishing garments off properly and perfecting something so I'm completely happy with it.  In the past I tried to finish things off quickly so I could move onto the next thing, but now I'm more about the process.  It's the journey, not the destination , as some wise person once said...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Polka Dot

All polka dotty today!  I can't believe I didn't think of this combination before; I love it!  Especially as I've still got my Santorini Sunset nail varnish looking OK, so the orange and taupe combo is perfectly matched from top to bottom!
I had a wonderful day shopping at the fabric store yesterday, and I'll post pictures of my purchases and plans for autumn tomorrow.  I've got lots of lovely projects for myself on the drawing board; some of them completed, some of them in progress and some just bought yesterday.  However as today I'm looking smartish for a family lunch at my husband's parents' place I thought I'd put in my daily outfit for today.
As posted about previously here, this top was made from a skirt I had made for a costume dinner and realised was never going to don again.  I included some close-ups of the details; the hems were all finished by hand as I didn't want topstitching.  The skirt was picked up in an op shop for $3.  It's a gorgeous skirt; made in France, in perfect nick and fits me perfectly.  Can't believe someone was getting rid of it.  Although I've tossed out pretty good stuff in the past and lived to regret it.  Deeply.  The skirt has two labels in it?? One says "Louie" and made in France, the other says "Rodney Clark".

Shirt; Butterick 4985, with sleeves from another pattern, orange polka dot cotton
Skirt; Rodney Clark, op shop
Shoes; Marco Santini, from Marie Claire shoes
Nail varnish; Santorini Sunset, Napoleon

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Heat Wave

It's just about trying to stay cool today.  Really.  Hair in a messy bun and as light clothing as possible.
We saw Avatar with Sam Worthington in the lead role last night (cinema packed with people trying to get out of the heat).  Stupendous.  Wonderful to see a local boy up on the big screen looking good.
Off to the fabric store (20% off sale!) now to spend lots of money...

Dress, own design by me, adapted from McCalls 4453, red polyester chiffon (with sparkles!)
Thongs (flipflops); Mountain Designs

Monday, December 28, 2009

Cool and comfortable

Today is to be a scorcher, 40C forecast, and at even 9am in the morning you can already discern a shimmer in the air.  On days like this an oppression and stillness hanging heavy over all, sapping strength and dulling wits.  The sky is intense and vivid blue unrelieved by any hint of cloud.  I found one lonely rose in the garden as yet unwilted by the recent hot spell, its shady spot is its saviour and no doubt by the end of the day the edges of its soft petals will be crinkled, dark and crisp, and its colour will have faded to a veined shadow of itself... 
I think I'll probably be spending most of the day in my bathers, but will need to be decent for some activities, such as watering out the front and popping off to the shop for milk and essentials!  Thus this outfit.
This skirt and blouse are light and airy and allow for maximum flow of air on the skin for when a cool breeze happens to waft by ... one can only hope... 

Skirt, Vogue 2894, floral cotton
Top; New Look 6252, white seersucker
Thongs (flipflops); Mountain Designs
Nail varnish; Santorini Sunset, Napoleon

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Tea Cosy, specimen 6

Here is the tea cosy I made for my friend S, the very first cosy I made form the book "Wild Tea Cosies"by Loani Prior.  S couldn't find her teapot on the day I arranged to photograph it, so I brought it home and set it up on my coffee table with my teapot!  The mug in the photo was made by my brother, and I like the rusticity of the rough wooden table and the handmade mug against the soft garden-y colours of the cosy.  This was a very easy cosy to make.  The pattern in the book is called "Red Comet", because the sample is a red cosy.  I guess this one must be a golden green comet...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day by the pool

Boxing day, and a quiet day by the pool planned, with just a few trips in and out to drop off/pick up my eldest son who is working.  I briefly considered going to the shops while dropping him off today to see what was on offer at the post-Christmas sales, but the crowds of determined looking ladies striding purposefully into the shops was a big deterrent...     I HATE crowds...  I'm hanging out for Tuesday; my sister-in-law, my daughter and I are going to Fabulous Fabrics (early) for their 20% off sale.  Really can't wait and I plan to spend up big!!  I don't really have a stash at the moment, and apart from my autumn trench coat and a blue skirt I have currently in construction I will be needing some new projects for the New Year.  Perhaps "wanting" is a more accurate word to use than "needing"!
Today I am wearing my cream light wool skirt from Vogue 7303 that I made about two and a half years ago, and I've included a few close-ups of the zip region with the lining sewn to the zip by hand on the inside.  I always attach the lining at this point by hand as I've not managed to do this successfully by machine.  Once or twice I've attempted it, but it hasn't really looked very good to my eye and I always end up by unpicking it and re-doing by hand.  I think a far superior finish is achieved this way.
Obviously I'm still influenced today by the whole Christmas colour scheme, but I like to think in a subtle way.  If anyone ever sees me wearing a Santa hat, or Christmas baubles as earrings, please shoot me...

Other details;
Skirt; Vogue 7303, cream lightweight wool
Top; Morrison
Necklace and hat; Country Road
Shoes; Neo, bought at Nine West?
Nail varnish; Santorini Sunset; Napoleon

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all!
Got up at the crack of dawn to pop a 6kg turkey in the oven, followed by prezzie exchange, off to the beach, then the family descended on us for lunch!  Phew!
Was given a new camera for Christmas, and I'll be spending this evening studying the instruction manual... should be producing high quality photos pretty soon, haha...
For now, here are some of the images of my Christmas (please excuse funny unfocused photo of me at right.  Methinks the cameraman had had a few too many...)

Other details;
Dress; Simplicity 3745, white spotted cotton voile with lace trim
Sandals; Anna, bought at Marie Claire shoes
Nail polish; Santorini Sunset, Napoleon
Earrings; self-made

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ball dress, my greatest pride!

My daughter's school ball has been the biggest social event in her life so far, and I was thrilled and honoured that she wished for me to make her dress for her.  We had a wonderful time together; planning and shopping for fabric and generally bonding in a girly way.
She had a firm idea of what she wanted, making it much easier for me; the challenge in this process was for me to make the dress to fit her vision of how she wanted to look.  Fortunately she loved her dress!  She had seen a Gucci dress in my Vogue magazine that she wanted for her look, with the skirt to be fuller.  I studied the dress and eventually decided that the best way for this to work would be to make the bodice as a corset with a long waist tie/train to nip in the waist, and with a separate skirt.  This immediately caused a few hassles and she emphatically did not want a skirt and a top, but a dress!!!  I had to promise that it would look like a dress and no one would be able to tell it was a skirt and top.  I think I achieved this successfully.
The whole process was deeply satisfying to me, both as a seamstress and as a mother.
I used as a basic starting point Simplicity 9775, although this was drastically altered to fit my daughter's shape and the complex style of outfit we had in mind.
I firstly drafted the skirt and overlay and a whole lot of geometric "petals" in paper and fitted and arranged them.  I then realised that the model wearing the dress in my Vogue magazine was probably over 6 ft tall, and the arrangement of petals on the original dress was not going to fit on my 5 ft 4 daughter at all!!  So I recut and rearranged until finally coming up with a dress and design that looked just right for my daughter's frame and suited the fuller style skirt she wanted.  I also put a petal design on the train, as I wanted for it to flow and mingle in with the skirt overlay to become an artistic folding of layers to draw and please the eye.
The corset caused some angst (for me).  It was very important to me that the folds in the three joining pieces (the front and two backs) corresponded exactly to each other, as well as the folds conforming to her body shape to best effect.  So, wider folding over the bust and narrow folding at the waist and even narrower in the small of the back.  I folded and fitted and folded and fitted into the wee hours of several mornings, and then some.  This, along with the applique of the petals, took the longest time.  I probably spent a week on just getting the folds of this corset just right!
The dress is entirely of silk, fully lined (obviously!), and the corset is boned.  The corset closure is by hidden hooks and eyes.  I toyed with the idea of covered buttons and silk ribbon loops, but decided the folding of the bodice should close cleanly with nothing to interrupt the sculptural effect of the folding.
The green shot silk has an orange weft (warp?), so gleams with a bronzy-coppery glow under lights.  It looks gorgeous with my daughter's strawberry blond hair.  And as we all know, the shades of ivory/cream/white are almost endless!  We both thought this particular shade suited her peaches and cream complexion very well.  The underside of the ties/train are black, like the appliqued "shadows" of the petals.  I think these splashes of black just set it all off and added a tiny touch of severity and sophistication to the gown.
I have since entrusted it to our local dry-cleaner, and she has worn this to another ball.
My finest achievement...
Photo below is from Gucci Spring/Summer 08,, see here 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dress, 6 different ways

I was thinking it was about time I did another 6-way remix of one of my garments; I had fun doing the previous one on my favourite skirt here and it helps me to appreciate the versatility of what I have in my own wardrobe myself.  Shopping in my own wardrobe!!  I mentioned recently that I would do one on my olive corduroy skirt, but that would just be another skirt same as the last 6-way so decided to do a dress instead.  Olive skirt next time.  Maybe I'll try to do one of these each month...
I made this Burda 8071, view A sundress last summer out of cream broderie anglaise cheesecloth and don't wear it enough.  I think it deserves more outings.  So here I've styled it 6 ways; as a plain dress, as a tunic over jeans, as a pinafore, over tights, as a dress over a petticoat and over a longer skirt.  As in the last 6-way, 3 ways are for summer; casual, semi-casual and a little more formal, and likewise for winter.  Although seriously when I was photographing these winter looks I thought I might die from heat exhaustion, 34C+ and only the slightest breeze!  Man!  Suffering for my blog...
So here is the dress styled for casual wear, both summer and winter;

Styled a little smarter for shopping or running errands, summer or winter;

And a tad more formal, for lunches, functions or going into the city with friends (yeah, summer and winter);

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Menswear, linen shirt

Today is my husband's birthday, and my gift to him is a linen shirt.  Handmade by me, of course!  He requested that I make him some linen shirts after he bought himself one and loved the feel of the linen and its amazing wearability.  In my opinion the only downside to linen is its high crease factor, but this is acceptable in a casual garment.
So, being a birthday present I had to make this one on the sly, which wasn't easy!  He always seemed to be popping in to the laundry(my sewing room), or coming home from work early, or getting up in the morning earlier than expected; just when I was sneaking in a bit of birthday shirt construction time!
I used Burda 7767 for the pattern; and I had decided on this pink handkerchief linen with gunmetal blue topstitching because he has a pair of pinstripe navy pants that don't really have a shirt to go with in his wardrobe.  I really like the combination of navy and pink.  Also our eldest son commented that he would like a pink shirt, so I figured that if my husband didn't like it then I thought he could have it!!
Luckily my husband does really like it.  The sizing was my biggest worry, as obviously I couldn't fit it to him during construction, being a secret.  I measured it up against other shirts in his wardrobe.  It fits perfectly well, luckily, but I will be making a few minor adjustments to future shirt-making efforts.  Namely making the armholes just a tad deeper, at his request.  I also just made a basic shirt this time, with no fancy design features, but will play a bit with other details next time...
I used the new collar construction technique that I learnt from my mother's Louise Cutting DVD (through Threads magazine), but as this was a bit of a rushed, secret sewing job I didn't take any photos of this process.  I will take photos next time and post them, as I feel this is a marvellous method that eliminates some of the excess fabric bulk within the collar and results in a cleaner more streamlined collar.
I am a tiny bit disappointed with some of my topstitching on the sleeve placket (see photo), and being such a high contrast in colours it really stands out!  However my husband nearly always rolls up the sleeves on his casual shirts anyway, so it won't really matter that much.  In future I will be more careful and spend more time on getting this just right. 

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cool and casual for a hot hot day

Remember this bright bright white top? Almost needed your sunnies just to look at it?

And do you remember me saying I thought I had way too many white tops and it was time for a dye-job?
So, I do from time to time use dyes bought in the chemist, or at a craft shop.  But for preference I will use a natural dye, or something I already have to hand about the house.  I wanted to make this top a sort of blotchy blue/brown colour, so hunted about for possible candidates to produce this sort of effect.  I made last year a jacket for myself out of navy blue hessian silk, which has been a marvellous jacket, but runs like mad when it is washed.  And I mean, like when it is dipped in the tub the water goes like ink.  Luckily, being silk, I was handwashing from the word go... 
Anyway, time to put this to good use.  I also grabbed a half bottle of instant coffee that had been languishing in the pantry for months (now my husband has his coffee machine it's nothing but the best around this place, although some of my friends fortunately prefer instant so I always keep a jar handy)

Did the coffee soaking first (24 hrs),
followed by the jacket washings soak (another 24 hrs),
and voila, I'm very happy with my "new" top.  It didn't really end up with the hoped for blue/brown splodges, but is more of an aquamarine/sepia all-over washed effect, and actually goes beautifully with the nacre buttons that I had already used on the shirt.

Other details:
Top; Butterick 4985, self striped white cotton, dyed over
Skirt; Diesel, bought in Rome
Scarf; Country Road
Hat; LLBean
Thongs (flipflops); Mountain Designs