Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tea Cosy, specimen 13

Here is the tea cosy I made for a friend, S, for her birthday last year.  It is made using the pattern Harlequin Flower, with a few minor modifications, from the book Wild Tea Cosies, by Loani Prior.
I just love the soft feminine pretty colours of this tea cosy, and the whole style and shape of this pattern.  The little crocheted bell flowers were a tiny amount of crochet that I can cope with; crochet is not my forte, for sure and I struggle with each stitch...
If I was going to make any more tea cosies (and I'm not, I've only got one more to show you and then that's it with the tea cosies!!) then I would choose this pattern, as I think it's really cute and looks adorable on the teapot.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Head to toe, turquoise

Turquoise.  Lashings of it.  This outfit brings back to me cerulean memories of Santorini and all its abundance of charm.  The vivid sea, the stark and yet rustic houses.  Most beautiful holiday, ever.
(The extremely strong wind that we had this morning also was a reminder of that holiday, I am completely wind-blasted in this photo....)
I can remember a saying from when I was growing up; "Blue and green should never be seen"  Be seen together, that is.  I guess it was a fashion faux pas back in the day.  Seems needlessly restrictive nowadays as colour combinations wax and wane in popularity faster than a monthly Vogue can keep up and it seems anything goes in the fashion world.  And what about lovely turquoise?  Somewhere in between blue and green, vacillating back and forth, a tonally peaceful companion to both.  Today I'm wearing my latest turquoise skirt with blue, and a bit of green, just to be daring (ha ha)...  I think it looks OK.
Sewing notes about the hem; when I made this skirt I didn't initially purchase enough fabric to make the length called for in the pattern.  Didn't really matter, as I wanted a shorter skirt than that anyway, but when it came time to hem I realised I didn't even have the length for a decent hem, or at least one that was going to leave me with a decent skirt!!.  
So I did this: using some matching turquoise cotton I cut a 7cm strip of bias, after pressing 1cm over on each side I had a 5cm hemming band.  This I attached to the lower overlocked edge of my skirt with a 1cm seam allowance.  I pressed this up directly on the skirt/bias tape seam and invisibly handstitched the hem down at the top of the bias tape.  Voila.  Hem is now acceptably deep.

Skirt; Vogue 1023 view C, shortened, turquoise polycotton
Camisole; Country Road
Cardigan; Metalicus
Sandals; lasoffitadi Gilde
Bracelet; jade and silver, gift from my parents

Friday, February 26, 2010

Autumn trench coat

I made a trench coat!  Inspired by the beautiful coats in Burberry, but not by the sky high price tag, I set out to make my own....  I actually finished this a few weeks ago and have been dying to show it off(!)
but haven't been able to wear it because of the 40C+ temps we've been having; seriously, the weather has been stifling, and I'm wearing sunnies in these photos to disguise the fact that I'm bleary-eyed through lack of sleep...
I used Burda 7786, which is a pattern for a single breasted trench coat and one I've used before here.  I modified the front lapels to be double breasted and added tabs at the wrists to bring the sleeves in, I think this will be a welcome feature when the weather turns cold ... (please, turn cold.... ?) 
The coat is made from something called Ribstop cotton from Spotlight, and whilst I think it will be a good, very hardwearing fabric it did present some challenges in working with it.  Firstly I know from previous experience (long story!) to wash it before using it, as it shrinks like nobodies business.  I washed my length of fabric twice, in a heavy duty cycle.  Also it has a very fine dense weave, again good for a coat fabric, but in sewing it the needle didn't so much glide up and down through the weave as it did audibly punch through this tough semi-impenetrable fabric.
Setting in the sleeves was a bit of a nightmare as this stuff simply would not gather satisfactorily or iron-shrink down AT ALL.  I ended up having to increase the length of the armscye and cut down some of the sleeve cap to get the sleeves to sit in nicely, which they eventually did.
As part of my new resolution to finish things off properly, I used Hong Kong binding on all the exposed seam allowances.  For this I made my own bias binding out of some leftover black cotton.  I am extremely happy with how this turned out.  For the lining I used a nice contrast print shirting cotton which is lovely and soft on the skin and will provide an extra layer for warmth....  ha ha, anyone in Perth at the moment will laugh at that one!, but will be welcome in a few months, I'm sure!
The belt presented its own saga, as I found nothing remotely worthy in Spotlight (although I did get the brass "end" of the belt there), and Fabulous fabrics runs more to diamante buckles! so set out to tour the op shops.  Luckily for $2 found a lovely brass buckle of the right size attached to a hideous vinyl belt.  I've said it before; I would never cut up a leather belt unless it was in a really bad way, but a vinyl belt is fair game...  Binned the vinyl portion, attached the brass buckle to my self fabric belt and sewed little miniature "buttonholes" for the belt holes...
And, finally finished.
Any dramas aside, I'm thrilled with my new coat and will be showing it off lots more.... ;D !!!!
(Thanks to my husband for the photo opportunity!)

Coat; Burda 7786, with some modifications, beige cotton
Top; New Look 6252, white seersucker
Skirt; Louis (?), op shop
Sandals; Micam by Joanne Mercer, from Hobbs shoes

Thursday, February 25, 2010

An edging finish using the fabric selvedge; a tute

So I set to work on making an outfit from my python print satin.  I want to make a skirt and a top this time, rather than a dress, so I can wear the top with other pants and jeans during autumn and winter.  For the top I'm using a wrap top pattern Burda 8497 and gave some thought to how to finish the edges.  I wanted a clean smooth edge with no visible stitching on view.  This pretty much ruled out any machine finishing, and while I’m more than happy to hand finish a hem I thought I’d try something else this time…
The Feb/March 2010 Threads magazine gave instructions for an edge treatment attributed to Madeleine Vionnet.  This method utilises the selvedge of the fabric, and the accompanying photograph showed a clean smooth edge with a rather attractive almost “piping” effect along the edge that I thought would be perfect, so here we go…
For this finish, cut the selvedges off the fabric, keeping about 1cm extra fabric, giving about a 2cm width strip overall.

Fold the fabric and press, so the “selvedge” side of the pressed strip is wider and overhanging the “cut” edge of fabric.  Lay this strip on top of the right side of your edge to be finished, with the “selvedge” edge up and keeping the selvedge edge longer than and overhanging the unfinished edge.
Stitch along the strip, keeping your stitching about 2mm in from the folded edge of the strip
Turn the selvedge strip to the inside and press.

According to the instructions in the Threads magazine no further stitching is needed.

My final verdict?  There seems no way of preventing the whole strip from just falling down and into view, so I would have to say it actually didn’t reeeally work all that well and I don’t understand how this method could be considered so fantastic.  I ended up hand stitching the hem down invisibly in the end anyway.  Alternatively you could "stitch in the ditch" along the edge and this could help prevent fallout.
I guess you could say it was a nice smooth flat hem, and the selvedge edge is clean and self-finished, so looks good on the inside.  I would use this again, but it might work better on, say, a neckline where there is no danger of gravity causing the strip to fall down and out, but if you are using this for a bottom hem then be prepared for further hand stitching for an effective hem…

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Leda and the Swan

What to wear when the forecast is for 38C, and your daughter requests that you both ride your bikes into the city to take photos of buildings for an architectural assignment?
Precisely.  After a hot exhausting bike ride you're probably not going to look glamorous for your photo opportunity.  See below exhibit A, and please excuse the crumpled and bedraggled state of the model.
I know, I know, white lace again, but I needed something cool, loose and comfortable and this fitted the bill perfectly.
I'll keep this shirt until it falls apart, I think.  Even then I'll be inventing ways of patching it up so I can still wear it...  It was just made out of quilting cotton, about 3 years ago, as a kind of experiment, and it has been such a winner.  It's so comfy, and I like to think it looks kinda nice, too...  I used New Look 6483 as a basic T-shirt, but added plenty of my own design variations.  I experimented with pintucking, puffy sleeves, and inserting panels of crotcheted lace for a Victorian-inspired look.
And my little white shorts, from Burda 7723, a great easy pattern.  I've made up this pattern once more and flared and lengthened the legs a little and I preferred that look.  These have been indispensable in my summer wardrobe.

Top; my own design, based on NewLook 6483, cream cotton and crotched lace inserts
Shorts; Burda 7723, white linen
Bag; made by my Mum

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Reptilia; a trend

The last time I went into Spotlight my eye was caught by this:

Python print satin, well I got so excited and just had to buy some.  This sort of fabric is pretty much not my usual cup of tea at all.  Even my husband, on spotting it (ha ha) said, "That's not like you".  (Amazing that he should even notice the fabric I'm buying, for one;  impressive, no?)  
I think I'm getting caught up in the zeitgeist of fashion.
Does anyone remember these beauties?  Last year Prada sent these divine dresses down the catwalk, and if python print was available that season I would have definitely been buying some, for sure.  Prada has always been ahead of her time, a barometer for a future trend.  She’s a master at sending out looks that seem to catch up with the rest of us a few years later on, and it seems this collection was no exception.
Photos from Prada Spring/Summer 09

In my latest Vogue magazine imagine my excitement to see this, and this…
(from Bally)

Even Alexander McQueen, in what was sadly to be his last collection went all scaly-armoured.  Get a load of this, written by Sarah Mower for
"Then the models came out, dressed in short, reptile-patterned, digitally printed dresses, their gangly legs sunk in grotesque shoes that looked like the armored heads of a fantastical breed of antediluvian sea monster. McQueen, according to an internal logic detailed in a press release, was casting an apocalyptic forecast of the future ecological meltdown of the world: Humankind is made up of creatures that evolved from the sea, and we may be heading back to an underwater future as the ice cap dissolves."
Wow.  I wish I had that gift with words.  Instead I just have to let the picture do the talking...
Photo at left from Alexander McQueen, Spring/Summer 10

So, is my wardrobe going to become futuristic, fantastical and reptilian?  Well not completely, but I may be injecting into it just a little taste of this trend for autumn/winter...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Gunmetal blue trousers, 6 different ways

I thought it was time for another 6-way profile of an item of clothing in my wardrobe.  These are fun for me to do, shopping in my wardrobe and stretching my imagination, blasting away any preconceived ideas I've got about how to wear a certain garment.  This time I've chosen to showcase my gunmetal blue linen trousers, from Burda 7944.  Of course there is only one way to wear trousers, you can only vary the tops you're wearing with it.  However linen is such a great fibre, cool and airy enough for summer, and these pants are loose enough that I can envisage wearing thermals underneath when the weather gets colder.  So I think I'll be able to stretch them out into my winter wardrobe also.
Burda 7944 is a great menswear inspired shape, something like the look Katharine Hepburn originally pioneered in the 40's.  It does use a lot of fabric, because the legs are so wide, and require extra length for the cuff at the bottom, but it results in such a great look.  I've always loved the menswear look on women, and I've even borrowed my husband's linen shirt I made him for one of these looks!
For today I've styled it first for a casual look, for both summer and winter:

And for a slightly more dressy look, say if one is going to meet friends in town for an outing, summer and winter:

And finally a little more formal, for an evening do, both for summer and for winter:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Eco-friendly gift wrapping

This isn't a new idea, but is one I'm adopting from now on.

Recycle old cereal boxes into gift bags, by covering them with newspaper.  So easy, and quite attractive, as long as you use nice-looking pages.  I recommend you avoid ones with items dealing with tragedy and disaster...  nobody want to look at their gift and be confronted with "Con man fleeces pensioners for millions" or an expose of a corrupt local policeman...etc   
The above one, with car sales, would be good for a boy( er, apart from the flower, well I was just trying to pretty it up for the picture....)  The comics pages and crossword pages would be good to use for this idea. too  If you do have access to discarded foreign language newspapers, all the better as these add an exotic air to the gift box.
Gift wrap is so...extravagant, don't you think?  In terms of waste, as well as cost.  And most cereals come in a plastic bag within the box, so it's not as though the box is dirty when you've finished with it.
(Disclaimer; some "giftees" may find this a tacky concept.  Yeah, seems crazy, but some people may not appreciate the planet-saving motives behind this idea ....  You've been warned)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Carpet of flowers

Felt like going a bit flowery and feminine today.  We have this beautiful long row of pink hibiscus near our house so for my photo I rushed over to advantage of the local colour, so to speak...  I love hibiscus for their showy and yet elegant flowers, and their soft very feminine colours.  I only wish one could cut their flowers; imagine a huge armful in an old-fashioned cut crystal vase on the sideboard.  It would be so nice, but hibiscus are notorious for their bad behaviour once cut, they close up immediately and refuse to come out to play, one imagines they are sulking from being cut off from their bush...
I made this dress at the beginning of last spring, using Vogue 7748 as a basic wrap dress pattern but adding my own design details, for more technical information see here...  
The flower pin in my hair I made myself; it is just one of those silk flowers on a stalk from Spotlight, with the stalk cut off and the flower superglued onto a bobby pin.
My husband is working all today so I'm off to morning tea with a friend, doing girly type stuff like window shopping and looking at nurseries, thus my frilly floral ensemble....  Its nice to feel like a real girl every once in a while.

Dress; my own variations on Vogue 7748, floral polyester chiffon
Shoes; Micam by Joanne Mercer, Hobbs
Hair pin; made from a silk flower
Nail varnish; own mix of BYS Mint Condition and French White

Friday, February 19, 2010

Turquoise pencil skirt

I've made this skirt for my autumn wardrobe, but thought dang it! I'm wearing it today.  Well, with a temp of 30C it's finally cool enough to wear something like this, and I thought, what the hey, I'm going to the beach!  I was hoping the sand was cooler so there won't be so much danger of burning one's toes.  And I was right.  It was gorgeous at the beach, and I had a swim after taking my photos.
Instead of turning to my tried and true Vogue 7303 I plucked out a different pattern from my collection, a real oldie, this one dating back from my teenage years, I think.  It's Vogue 1023, no doubt out of print by now.  I'm vaguely certain my mother made the long version of this for me to wear for my school concert band formal dress...  Anyhoo, decided from the cover illustrations to make version C, took out all the pattern pieces and was quite disappointed to find the pocket piece and the waistband piece were missing... not devastating enough that I couldn't work these out for myself, but a little sad to see it wasn't intact any more...
I selected this fabric for its colour, I really wanted some punch for autumn.  (Please note I'm trying to inject a little colour in my wardrobe!)  
I love it.  Not feeling quite brave enough to pair with other bright colours yet and playing it safe today with a white shirt, but I'm sure I'll get over that...

Skirt; Vogue 1023 view C, shortened, turquoise polycotton
Top; New Look 6252, white seersucker
Necklace; from the surf shop on Rottnest Island
Nail varnish; own mix of BYS Mint Condition and French White