Monday, May 31, 2010

Last day of autumn

Today is the last day of autumn :(
So I thought I'd mark it by wearing my favourite autumn made garment; my trench coat.  I've got it on over a Tshirt and skirt here, but I like how trenches can actually pass for dresses on a warm day, which it is today, sort of.  I was quite toasty here in this photo and wishing I could take something off...  well, I always feel warm during our dog walk in the morning and only start to slowly freeze when I get into the office.  Australian weather being like it is we don't have central heating here like northern hemisphere dwellers have.  I've got the little gas heater warming up my toes right now...!
I left off the belt I made for the coat and instead donned an old black leather belt I've had since teenage years; and I like how the accents of black set off the sandy beigeness of the coat.  The black buttons, black legs, black booties, black belt... the colour of winter is creeping insidiously into my wardrobe and before you know it Perth will be clad all in black and grey, yeah it's hard to believe on a bright sunny day like today! but it will happen!  One thing is for sure, I will be wearing this coat all through winter too, it's so comfy and feels so nice to throw it on; instant outfit!  I'm so glad I've got it!

Coat; Burda 7786, modified by me to be double breasted and with added wrist tabs, beige cotton
Belt; had for donkey's years
Tshirt; Country Road
Skirt; Vogue 7303, olive green corduroy
Tights; Kolotex, David Jones
Booties; Django and Juliette, from Zomp shoes
Bag; Gucci

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dining room curtains

Sewing curtains is a real drag.  No seamstress will say otherwise.  Boring, all straight seams, no challenge in it.  And mundane.
Most of the curtains I've made have been plain rectangles with curtaining tape sewn on at the top, which then just hangs there in an unobtrusive way.  I like plain curtains.
But for these dining room curtains I did something a little more interesting; I picked up the two bottom corners and the centre of the bottom together, inserted a big safety pin through all these layers, and pinned the whole lot to the central curtain ring.  That's on each curtain, btw...  Just for something a bit different.  Oh, also, there is no curtaining tape sewn to the top of the curtains, but the hooks are sewn directly onto the top hem of the curtains.  Again for something a bit different.
The little pussycat figurine standing on the window sill was hand-carved by my grandfather.  Often there is a real pussycat there too.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Beautiful blogger award

I was so thrilled to look in my comments and see an award from the lovely Anne; thanks so much Anne!
Whooo, now I have to list ten things about myself...  I always find this so difficult because I'm not very interesting... and this is meant to be primarily a sewing blog and not supposed to be about me.
What to say?
1. I've been sewing for over 30 years.  And I still love it!
2. I love "Desperate Housewives"  ;D!!  But loathe Sex and the City  :S Not even the wardrobe can hold my attention on the latter...
3. The British band Muse is my current favourite music.  (I"m not crazy about the clip but trust me the music is awesome...)

4. We lived in the United States for a year.  It was an interesting education.  USA is so different from Australia.  We made some great friends!
5. Typical Hollywood blockbusters bore me.  I love quirky foreign films with a twisted unexpected storyline.  The Sixth Sense is that rare Hollywood film that hit the jackpot for me.  One of my all time favourites.
Phew, ten things is a lot to think up...
6. I'm addicted to fabric.  It's terrible.  Even though I might have 1000m of fabric stuffed into my laundry cupboard so I can't shut the door, I still kid myself I will have time for just one more sewing project...  Crazy.
7. Knitting socks is another "what am I thinking?" secret addiction.  I'm not sure I could ever buy another pair of socks... well, one must have something to do whilst sitting in front of the TV of an evening, no?
8. I secretly wish my kids would never grow up and leave home.  I would miss them horribly.
(at right, my children and me in Italy)
9. (also related to the above picture)  I wish I could learn another language.  I learnt Italian at school.  Over the years, and having no Italians to converse with, I completely forgot it all, or so I thought.  When we visited Italy a few years ago I was amazed at how much I understood of conversations around me, and how the right phrases popped into my head when I needed them...!
10. I know I said this in my last award, but it's such a big thing about me I'll say it again.  I am extremely shy.  If you met me I'd be so tongue-tied you'd think I was a stuck-up snob.  I'm not really.

Now I name five others to award to.  It's difficult to pick just five out of the many fabulous blogs I enjoy reading, but I'm awarding to:

Faye, of Faye's Sewing Adventure

Karin, of ancien-nouveau

Lily, of The House of Mirth

Stephanie, of The Naked Seamstress

Caroline, of Church Sexy

Friday, May 28, 2010

Champagne in the city

I am sometimes accused, by family members who shall remain nameless, of never wearing an outfit more than once.  Well, ahem, I do wear things more than once, but choose not to bore readers of this blog with repeat photos of the same outfit worn the same way over and over.  I do try to mix it up a little if I'm a posting a daily outfit shot, by mixing and matching items in my wardrobe for a slightly different look each time...
The Mossy Feathers dress I'm wearing today is one that can't really be mixed and matched much; it's pretty much a stand alone garment.  And today being such a beautiful autumn's day I didn't want or need to cover it up with a coat or cardigan.  And please excuse my fierce expression, my husband is always telling me to smile more in my photos...
Today I met up with some friends for lunch in the city and a fashion parade; Aurelio Costarella.  The dresses were gorgeous, natch.  All evening wear, which is his specialty.  He talked a bit about what he was up to; he is currently working on Winter 2011, having already wrapped up Summer 2010/11.  The garments we were seeing today were of course Winter 2010.  It was funny when he confessed that some of the looks today were like new to him, too, as he had forgotten about parts of the collection since completing it over a year ago!...  they work so far ahead in the fashion industry and are always moving on, always looking ahead and not back over old seasons...
A fabu-dabulous day out.

Dress; Vogue 2820, printed silk and chocolate brown net piping and necktie
Tights; Kolotex from David Jones
Shoes; Sandler from David Jones
Bag; Gucci

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pattern Magic; page 11

The latest in the Pattern Magic toiles; this one is on page 11.  There is a minuscule chance I will wear this toile.   Maybe it is a bit young for me; much as I detest that phrase "age appropriate dressing" that is so stifling to feminine flair and creativity in apparel.  I can't bear that women should be forced into a pigeon-hole by their age group... however that being said I'm not sure this top would do for me.  Perhaps I should re-phrase that; not too "young" for me, but too ... flirty and girly.  Too cute.  I'm too tall for cute.  As it happens my daughter has already asked if she can have it, so it will not go wasted...
I'm just loving the challenge of Pattern Magic, by Nakamichi Tomoko.  However I've realised, through a few recent remarks and conversations with others, that it is a book for advanced seamstresses.  A beginner would struggle.   Even more so if you have no Japanese...
Up until now I've gone steadily through the book in order but for my next project I've decided to skip ahead a few as there is a top that I really want for my winter wardrobe... soon!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Satisfyingly swishy skirt

Dug this skirt out again from the recesses of my wardrobe... I don't know why I'm not wearing it as often as I once did.  I love it.  I made this last summer; not the summer we've just had but the one before that.  When I walk it twirls and swishes around my ankles in a most satisfying way, and always attracts compliments.  This morning on our dog walk (can you see Sienna's furry butt behind a tree in this photo?) a lady crossed the street to say something nice to me about it... little incidents like that can give one a lift for hours, no?  I'm going to make an effort to give more compliments from now on.

Skirt; my own design variations, based on Butterick 3134, first posted here
Top; my own design, refashioned from my old 3/4 pants here
Booties; Django and Juliette, from Zomp

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Karajini socks

So named because I knitted these as we drove up to Karajini for a camping holiday with our friends the A's.  I knitted one sock on the way up, and the other sock on the trip home.  It is my second pair of socks, and the ones that I determined how many hours it takes to knit a pair of socks; it is two and half days drive up to Karajini; taking into account that my husband and I shared the driving equally; and that we camped overnight; means it works out to roughly about ten hours per sock, given that I didn't knit continuously...
Again using the pattern for Ladies Sockettes from Patons Knitting Book No. C11, except that I only did 8 rows of rib at the top, then the rest of the "leg" part in stocking stitch; so much easier and quicker this way.  Knitting in the round means that you are just knitting "knit" stitches all the time and none of that time-consuming yarn forward, yarn back that comes with knitting rib...
Whenever I wear these socks I think about our camping trip in the outback.  It was great fun! even if the drive is a killer...
(if you wish to look it up; Karajini is up in the Hamersley Ranges of Western Australia, about half a day's drive north from Newman)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Navy blue jacket

Digging through my winter wardrobe is producing some old creations...  This jacket I made about two years ago and wore quite a lot for the last two winters.  This year I looked at it a bit sideways, wondering if it would "do" for this year, but I think so...  Sometimes I feel as though this jacket is a bit "classic" for my taste.  I wouldn't describe myself as a "classic" dresser.  I don't know how I would describe my oeuvre, but it's not classic...
This jacket is made of intense navy blue Indian silk hessian, I mentioned I used it here, for dying.  When I wash this thing the water is like ink.  Seriously, I kid you not...  I dyed a white shirt pale blue from the washings of this jacket once... yes, on purpose!  Amazingly the jacket is still as intensely dark dark blue as ever.
I had read somewhere that in couture jackets iron-on-interfacing is a huge No-No, capitals intentional, and they use a very light strong fabric instead.  So when I made this I decided to bypass the iron-on interfacing, as an experiment.  But what to use in its place?  I don't know what they actually use, and short of pulling apart a couture jacket to see for myself I don't know how to find out.  And is that going to happen?  No...!
In view of the clues "light" and "strong" I decided to try bemsilk, as both the sew-in interfacing and as the lining.  And do you know what?  It worked a treat!  It made the sewing process a bit more challenging as bemsilk is so darned slippery-dippery, but the jacket is, yes, it is light and strong, with no stiffness.  The beauty of the silk hessian is how it looks as smart and tailored as linen but without the very high crease factor.
The pattern I used allows for a lining in the shoulder/back area of the jacket but is otherwise unlined; I decided to line the jacket fully, sleeves and all.  And I'm very glad I did, not just for the warmth during winter, but also the aforementioned un-colourfastness of the fabric... all my shirts would have ended up with blue underarms if this jacket was not lined!!  Wisdom in hindsight!

Jacket; Simplicity4698, navy blue silk hessian
Skirt; Vogue 7303, bottle green cotton velveteen
Camisole; Country Road
Cardigan; Metalicus
Stockings; Metalicus
Boots; Fornarina, from David Jones

Sunday, May 23, 2010

2 Raspberry Cushions

Flash-back about seven years: we picked this chair up at Melville Markets (a local carboot sale) for $5; it was pretty rickety because it was missing its front foot-strut.  My clever husband whipped up a new one the same afternoon and we had a nice new chair for our entrance hall!
I had a piece of foam cut to fit its seat and covered it with fabric from the remnant bin in Laura Ashley, and added piping I made from some leftover raspberry pink Indian cotton I had used for curtains in our previous house.  I think from memory the piping cord I used for inside the piping is actually rough old rope I found in the shed, rather than the proper nice white cord you can buy in upholstery stores... yeah (shamefaced), I'm of the waste-not-want-not kind...  
The cushion has little self fabric tabs with velcro sewn on, inserted in the back seams to loop around the back rest struts.  This stops it from sliding off and across the hallway if a pussycat happens to do a flying leap up onto the chair...
The embroidery in the other cushion was a little kit I picked up on a craft store exploration excursion I went on with my sister-in-law S one day, this was back in the dark ages when I was into cross-stitch!  I know it's not centred very well in the cushion, but meh...  The fabric for the main of the cushion is the same raspberry pink curtain fabric as the piping...
I often wonder if those raspberry pink curtains are still up in our old house.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cloudy with a chance of brights

Yes, (air fist punch) we got rain!  And lots of it.  And my favourite kind, overnight rain.  The garden doesn't smell at all now ... well, OK just a tiny bit, but not like yesterday.  When the timing of these household maintenance chores turns out so right, you can feel so undeservedly pleased with yourself at your own wisdom in hindsight...
Today I was a soccer Mum.  And popped into Spotlight to pick up a few bits and bobs to complete some top secret projects I've been working on...  got some family birthdays coming thick and fast in the next month.  Not to mention my own selfish winter sewing plans, well, since I started on the Wardrobe Refashion pledge to buy no new clothes, ipso facto I now have to make them.  This is no hardship since I love sewing, but I feel like I have about a million plans in my head, and am realistically only capable of producing a limited number of items each week...
All I can say is it's a good thing my family is happy with simply cooked food with no fancy trimmings...
Speaking of good plain fare, the grey cardigan I'm wearing today is so old but so comfy, it's like an old warm cuddly friend now.  Comfort dressing, the sartorial version of scrambled eggs on toast for dinner.  And whenever I wear this little mirrored pony necklace it takes me right back to when I got it, on my girls' weekend away with my friends A and D.

Skirt: Vogue 7303, burnt orange silk hessian
Camisole; Country Road
Cardigan; Country Road
Necklace; from some little shop in Melbourne
Boots; Enrico Antinori

Friday, May 21, 2010

Need a deluge; now

Please take my word for it that my hair looked quite nice before I got to take this photo; an sudden evil wind struck up out of nowhere and I went from looking unusually chic, smooth and polished to my usual messy-haired self...  and I even used a hairdryer this morning.  I don't know why I bother.
After a quick attendance at a Biggest Morning Tea (for cancer research) this morning and a few errands I have Dynamic Liftered my whole garden and now have my fingers crossed for rain!  (for those unacquainted with Dynamic Lifter, it is pulverised chook poo)  You can imagine the rich heady aroma now wafting through our open windows...  I thought rain was forecast for today, but about five minutes of light drizzle and that's been it...  desperately need a downpour to water in that smell!
As I'm typing this, brilliant sunshine is bursting through the few patchy clouds remaining in the sky to taunt and tease me.  Oh, I love the sunshine, don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about the divine weather we are having, but... we need some rain!  
Does anyone know a good rain-dance?

Dress; Burda 8511, purple/blue silk hessian
Cardigan; Morrison
Shoes; Timberland
Bag; Gucci

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cute kitten photos, with glimpses of lounge suite re-cover, version 2

Not very good photos today, I'm afraid, if you're looking for high quality pictures of sewing projects.  However, if you're into photos of impossibly cute kittens, then this could be your favourite post of the day!
I was hunting for pictures of my second re-cover of our lounge suite (re-covers 1 and 3 posted previously).  As I was not into photographing my sewing efforts back then,  I neglected to take any worthwhile photos of re-cover 2, which was of chocolate brown chenille-y type fabric.  Mum made a bag for me out of some of the leftovers (at right).    
So, here are the only photos I have with glimpses of this particular project.  The photos are ostensibly of Zoe, the kitten, being cute and of Sophie, the enormous big grey cushion of a cat.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ruthlessly cutting off 4 inches of python...

Something had been bothering me about this python skirt (first posted here) and I finally realised what it was.  The length.  It just wasn't me.  I think skirts suit me best when they are either quite long, like mid-calf to ankle length, or above knee.  Just below the knee or sitting just at the knee is not a good look for me.
It's a peculiar thing how a skirt length can suit some women so well, and just look frumpy and awful on others.  One's OK hem length is a personal thing.  It's taken me a while to work this out, and I'm realising it's no good fighting this innate truth.  Once you have determined your OK Hem Length (let's call this your OKHL), then it's a good idea to stick to it.  Yes, hem lengths are dictated to us by current fashion trends, but every once in a while you just can't wear it, no matter how fashionable it is.  It may be the OKHL for some fashion mavens but not for you.  Luckily the hem lengths of today's fashion change faster than anyone can keep up with so any one of them will still be in keeping with a current trend from some design quarter...
Determining her own OKHL is every woman's quest in her sartorial life.  It takes time and persistence and, yes, mistakes to get this right.  We've all had this experience.  You come across it in a boutique, the most fabulous skirt you've ever seen, has you racing into the changeroom with inner whoops of joy, already mentally buying it and the trying on a mere formality to see for yourself in the mirror how utterly gorgeous you are going to be in your new skirt... then it's on, you look in the mirror, whoomp.  All your excitement evaporates at the hideous reflection of yourself in that skirt in the mirror.  It's all ...wrong.  You feel like it's you.  The skirt is perfect, but its you who are not.
Well, my friend, at least half the time it won't be you that is the problem, but the hemline of your fabulous skirt.  It's just not your OKHL.  
It's no coincidence that a lot of the "re-fashions" I see on Wardrobe Re-fashion are simply either the shortening of a too-long dress/skirt or adding-on of strips of fabric to lengthen a too-short number.  OKHL's are being realised here.
I feel a lot better about this skirt now.  What do you think?  
Have you determined your OKHL?  What were your experiences in working it out?

Skirt; my own design variations on Vogue 7303, python print satin
Top; Metalicus
Shirt; from Tinga Safari Lodge, borrowed from my husbands wardrobe
Belt; from my cargos
Boots; Mina Martini, from Marie Claire

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Santorini socks

When my very talented mother starting knitting socks I must admit to a sneaking moment of thinking "What on Earth...?" but she proved herself to be ahead of the zeitgeist and it was no time at all before I became just as hooked on knitting my own socks, too...  Except that Mum knits socks for all the family whilst I am still selfishly knitting only for myself, except for a couple of my old pairs that have shrunk in the wash which have only then been passed grudgingly along to my daughter with the proviso that she never ever throw them out...!  See how mean I can be?
More than a few friends have given me the sideways stare when it becomes known I am knitting my own socks.  After all when shop bought socks are so cheap, and after you've bought your wool, and spent hours and hours knitting, its obviously not a cost or time saving exercise here.  But I will say this in defence of sock-knitting; it is enormously rewarding, and no other single handcrafting exercise has ever been the equal in teaching me the importance of keeping alive old traditions.  
It's a Zen appreciation of time and energy spent on a small task.
This pair of socks I'm modelling here today was my first pair of socks, called the Santorini socks, because they were partially knitted whilst I was there.  They have developed one hole in 3-4 years of use, which I darned.  When you have spent 20 or so hours making something, you do not toss out lightly, but mend if at all possible.  Which goes back to what I was saying before. 
These were made using a pattern from my mother's old booklet; the Patons Knitting Book No. C.11, subtitled Gloves and Socks for Toddlers, Boys, Girls, Men and Ladies.  I like how back then ladies were ranked last in the list, even in a pattern book aimed at this market...  This pair of socks is the only time I have made the socks exactly to pattern, all subsequent pairs have some small variation or two...
The booklet cost my mother 1'6, which is one shilling and sixpence.  Yes,  such was the currency in use in Australia prior to 14th February 1966, when we changed over to Australian dollars with 100 cents in them.  A little history lesson, there.  See how instructive this blog can be?!

Socks; Ladies Sockettes from Patons Knitting book No. C11

Monday, May 17, 2010

Feeding the soul

Stopped in this morning at Samudra, one of my favourite-ist cafes, ever.  The ambience in this place is breath-taking.  They grow most of their own produce to make up the menu, enabling a guaranteed fresh and seasonal selection to chose from.  Although the attraction to me isn't necessarily the food (I could never be accused of being a foodie) but the atmosphere; the abundance and health of the kitchen garden, the majesty of the surrounding trees, the gorgeous chairs and tables made of wood sourced from everywhere, so some furniture is of huge slabs slapped together any-old-how, others of recycled parts of jetty and fencing, and some of hand-adzed old logs, the randomness of it all is what is so charming to me.  The table decorations are always comprised of some sort of seasonal or natural offerings, today it was bright lime-green gourds heaped up about in casually artistic disarray.  It is such balm to the soul to just be there.  In an ideal world I would just go there with my laptop and sit there every day; order a "Jubilant Juice of Joy" (a divine concoction of fresh OJ, lime juice and mint leaves blended) and make this my office away from home.  If only....
This skirt I'm wearing is an oldie from a  few years ago, made using Vogue 7856, view B, and free fabric that a local designer was throwing out.  There was so much of this fabric I made another skirt and a jacket out of it also; I think it was free because the black floral screen-print was a bit scrappy in places, but I just went over the scrappy bits with a black felt-tipped pen (or Sharpie) where it was visible and that seems to have done the trick.  After I had finished the skirt I realised it went up quite high at the sides, way too high for a winter skirt... so I ad-libbed some wide triangles of black cotton to the side edge seams underneath for contrast, interest and modesty.

Skirt; Vogue 7856 view B, grey printed cotton, with black cotton add-ons
Cardigan; Country Road
Scarf; Luxe, from Uggys in Dunsborough
Boots; Andrea and Joen, from Uggys in Dunsborough
Bag; Gucci

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cosy brown cardigan

Wintery weather is well and truly upon us today (glum face).  We even got a little wet on our beach walk here today.  Just a light misty shower thank goodness…  eau de “wet dog” is not my favourite fragrance to have around in the house and car…
Traditionally as the weather turns cold and stormy and wild my thoughts start to turn to knitting and I get more excited about getting out the old knitting needles and hunting through the available wool and yarn stores.  I’m not there yet, still daydreaming about my current sewing projects for now, but it won’t be long before I’ll be curling up in front of the TV of an evening with the rain and wind battering on the windows and with a knitting project in my lap.
As well as the usual socks, which are always in the process of construction (ooh, haven’t shown you any of my socks yet!) this year I plan to make an infinity scarf, a few of which I’ve seen on the net, and a slouch beanie/beret or two.
This is a cardigan I knitted last year.  I bought 7 balls and just made it up as I went along.  It’s a very cosy cardigan and colourwise I just love the tiny flecks of gold and burgundy mixed in with the rough brown/grey marle.  My favourite part of this cardigan is the button on the front, handmade by Dad.  He sliced a bough of birch tree (grown in Mum and Dad’s own garden), drilled two tiny holes in it, and hand polished it to produce this perfect button.  Isn’t it the most beautiful button ever?  Dad is an extremely talented craftsman, and his handmade items are always hotly sought after prezzies at Christmas time…

Cardigan; my own design, Jo Sharp Silk Road DK Tweed in Brindle 
Jeans; Development
T-shirt; Country Road
Sneakers; Lute, from Betts and Betts