Thursday, September 30, 2010

Curiouser and curiouser...

Hi, the last day of Self-Stitched September; and I’m coming to you live from sunny Melbourne!  Haha.  That’s an in-joke amongst Australians, as Melbourne is … er, not very sunny.  The weather here is notoriously fickle.  The sky today is white white white…  But dearth-of-sunshine notwithstanding, I still adore Melbourne.  This is the shopping capital of Australia, and I’ve already laid down the plastic in two fabric stores and a wool store, and also visited what must be the most kitsch-ily fabulous (but kinda pricey) second-hand shop in the whole of Australia, the RetroStar Vintage Clothing Company, and therein bought a pre-loved maroon velveteen jacket and a beaten-up (in a good way) pair of shiny black men’s brogues.. hola!!  It’s been a very successful day.
And as if the haul wasn’t enough, I spent the morning in the Royal Botanic Gardens and was totally spoilt for choice when it came to stunning locations.  And the soft grey light that this city is famous for (thanks to the cloud cover) makes for dreamy photography.  Win!
Today I feel a bit Alice-in-Wonderland-ish, wandering through the beautiful other-worldly treescape of the gardens in this floral floaty dress with black tights and booties (for warmth, I did say Melbourne is dismal, today is 18C or 66F, freezing by current Perth standards)  It reminds me of the illustrations in my old copy of the book, by Arthur Rackham, and which shaped my childhood imagination of the dreamworld that Alice visited.  My mother once said this dress was one of her favourites (thankyou Mum)  It is based loosely upon Vogue 7748, a basic wrap dress pattern, but with a two layered frills around the neckline, a deep frill around the lower edge, back waist ties and sleeve ties added.

Dress; partly my own design, based upon Vogue 7748, printed polyester chiffon, with petticoat (not seen) my own design, pink jersey knit, seen first here
Tights; Kolotex
Booties; Django and Juliette, from Zomp shoes

Illustration below by Arthur Rackham, from Alice In Wonderland, published 1907

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gardening gracefully

Today I am wearing a little sundress I made a few years ago, with the intention of it being a beach dress to pop on over bathers.  As it turned out kind of fancy and pretty I've ended up wearing it on loads of different occasions...  I used the halter bodice from McCalls 4453 which is a top pattern, and altered the design to have a side zip opening.  I drafted a skirt that is a sort of faux wrap around design.  Long at the back and with two tapered fronts lapped over each other and both secured in the side seams.  The dress is fully lined with pale pink lining.  I like the softly pretty luminous effect this has under the sheer red swirly pattern of the fashion fabric, which actually has sparkles.  Bonus!  
And the little lace cover-up has been another pretty as well as useful little thing that is my own design and was whipped up on a whim.  
Today I felt the need to be a bit ... colourful and quietly cheerful.  After all life has to be appreciated and celebrated and lived.  With spring springing all around us and new growth bursting relentlessly forward in the garden one cannot push away the quiet and inevitable mechanism of new life.

Dress; partly McCalls 453, partly my own design, pink/red sparkly polyester chiffon
Top; my own design, cut-out embroidered linen
Sandals; Pedro Miralles, from Soletta shoes

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Black dress

So, I hardly ever wear this dress and it just sits there on its hanger and I reach for it once in a blue moon.  I wasn't even planning to use it this month. 
This can be a toughie to wear because of its body-con nature and I have to be mindful not to slouch when I'm wearing it as even the tiniest lump and bump shows to the full...  and even though the harsh sun in Australia can be very unflattering in photos (like most Aussies I've learnt this the hard way so please be kind if you do care to comment!) I posed in the full sun for this one to show the lovely folding and draping of the design; being a black dress these features wouldn't show up in a shady photo.  The artful folding of the thin silk jersey around the midriff area that becomes a random geometrical frill along the opening edge is my favourite feature of this dress.  Come to think of it, the only feature of the dress...!  It is a very simple design.  
I am wearing black today because I am attending a funeral.

Dres; Vogue 2556, black silk jersey
Shoes; Misano, from Labels
Sunnies; Rayban

Monday, September 27, 2010

Domestic diva XI

Hehe, realised that my most loathed domestic duty has not yet been immortalised here; the dreaded office work... (groan)
I used to be an analytical chemist (yes, with a degree n' all...) and so led a reasonably interesting life with every day different from the next in terms of the samples I was required to analyse and for what.  I used my brain; that long neglected part of the body that begs for me to find something new for it to do... poor thing...  Nowadays I run our office mostly from home, and while it is necessary work and somebody has to do it, it is ... just not my forte.  Said lamely...
Once, early in this career sea change, I had finished our tax after dogged hours pouring over paperwork, and had proudly mentioned it to my friend D, a proper accountant.  She replied with touching faith in my abilities "Well, that wouldn't have taken you very long, surely?"    Er, hehe.  Give me a lab with an HPLC and a sample of pesticide with the order to develop a procedure for the identification of, and then determine the purity level thereof, thankyou...
And yes; I often do dress up like this for work, even if I don't have to run out on an office-related errand.  I feel more professional, and Pavlovian-ly think it makes me more efficient.  Said hopefully...

Dress; Vogue 1087, navy blue striped jersey knit, for my review of this pattern see here
Jacket; Simplicity 4698, navy blue raw silk (really should do a review of this wonderful pattern too...)
Shoes; Sandler, op shop

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Domestic diva X

Woah, same skirt as yesterday; snap!  Though this version is view C and is made out of a bright cheery, bohemian, gypsy-ish print.  This is another skirt pattern I've used a lot, although not as much as my old standby Vogue 7303.  Come to think of it, if I'd kept all the skirts I've ever made using these two patterns, I could go a whole month of Self-Stitched September with no double-ups, no worries.  I've used them both heaps of times.  (I know, boring)  Don't worry, I've been branching out lately and have a few new exciting summery items and patterns to post here once this month of self-stitching documentation is over... one photo a day is enough imo.
The top is my own design, made from an old pair of three quarter pants; for the original story and a short tutorial on how to do this see here. Although the pants in their original form were dag-city, the fabric was in very good condition and I loved the soft yet still sharp citrusy colour of the linen.  So I saw potential.  Took the scissors to them and never regretted it.
We've got a nice afternoon planned seeing our friends; it is my friend E's birthday too, and we are looking forward to having a drink (or two) and viewing their latest holiday snaps.

Skirt; Vogue 7880 view C, printed cotton
Top; own design, made from an old pair of green linen 3/4 pants
Sandals; Anna, from Marie Claire shoes

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Domestic diva IX

Post celebratory let-down; I did have a lovely day yesterday, and thankyou so much for your lovely birthday wishes!  Hmmm, re this morning's outfit; both old favourites.  Both of these pieces I contemplated throwing out last summer and both got a last minute stay of execution.  Later I was so glad I hung on to both of them.  These are the sorts of clothes that are definitely me.  Maybe looking a little old-fashioned now? but I am feeling the pull of my collection of soft lacy crinkled clothing in dreamy faded colours now the summer days are almost upon us.  The weather is so lovely and warm now! but we are still desperate for rain.
Looked through the wardrobe this morning, and even though there are only six days of self-stitched September to go; not that I'm counting...!  I have probably a dozen more ensembles I could have chosen from.  So I don't know why I'm feeling a melancholic lack of faith in my sewing abilities at the mo.  I do know I really need to clean out my wardrobe...
And yes, I did skim the pool and do a few hours yardwork in this outfit, but sans heels of course.  Heels and gardening are not an efficient match.  I put the heels on again afterwards.  Domestic divas need to keep up appearances...

Skirt; Vogue 7880 view B, sage green self-embroidered cotton
Top; Butterick 4985, cream broderie anglaise cheesecloth with random lace overlays and crocheted lace ties
Scarf; refashioned old jumper, cut up and felted, see here for tutorial
Hat; Country Road
Sandals; akiel, op shop

Friday, September 24, 2010

Domestic diva VIII

For those of you wondering if the domestic diva series is nought but a ploy then wonder no more, for I do actually do housework around my house as well as sewing, er which OK admittedly has got unnecessarily high priority in the scheme of things.  And my pretty pale pink iced chocolate mud cake, baked today here in my kitchen by me and pictured below will definitely go to good use, later on I may put some little pink and white striped candles on it, light them, wait for my family to sing me a little song, and then blow the candles out.  Yes, today is the one day in the year reserved for my turn at this particular activity...
I have been showered with birthday pressies and spoiled rotten by my friends and family, which is a nice thing for a domestic diva, no?
To celebrate in the sartorial way, I am wearing some of my favourite creations; the pale pink skirt which, like my blue patchwork skirt the other day, was created mostly patternless in a maelstrom of frantic sewing activity one magical day when I was hit by an urgent inspiration; and miraculously turned out just the way I envisioned it, this is not always a foregone conclusion.  To see this skirt styled in six different ways, see here.
My top is my own design, made from a pair of old three quarter pants, for the original story, see here.
I did not make the adorable little brooch, it was a birthday gift from my dear friend S.  This comes from a range made in Western Australian using a bits of old china plates to make new and very pretty and whimsical decorative items.  Isn't it sweet?

Skirt; partly Vogue7303, mostly my own design, pale pink damask
Top; my own design, charcoal linen/cotton mix, seen first here
Shoes; Vicenza, from Soletta shoes
Pin; Mashida, gift from a friend
Roses; gift from my husband

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Domestic diva VII

Went on a recky (translation; Aussie slang for reconnaissance mission) through the husband's side of the wardrobe for this morning's outfit.  Oh, btw, that's just the shirt here, not the skirt hehe, in case you were wondering...

Shirt; Burda 7767, blue linen, seen first here
Skirt; Vogue 7303, green cotton velveteen, see first here
Socks; handknit by me, using Patonyles sock yarn, seen first here
Belt, kept from some old cargos that have long gone
Hat; Barmah, leather stockman's hat
Shoes; Francesco Morichetti

Re yesterday's post: my husband reckons I was far too mysterious and should not have told just half a story.  I can see now he was right and I wasn't fair.  Talking about private stuff makes me uncomfortable, but I appreciate that many of you are now like my pen-pals and we are interested in each other's lives and not just visiting each other for the sewing and fashion so I should try to open up more...

A friend lost her son to cancer.  He was 24.  He had been ill such a short while, so while the end was not unexpected it was still too shocking.  Of course would always be too shocking, no matter how much time you have to prepare, of course.  I saw her and the family yesterday and they were just amazing.  So loving and so positive.  My friend C makes me want to be a better person.
That's all.  Just go and hug your children.  I am.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Domestic diva VI

Yesterday was a very sad day.  I decided not to blog about it as I'm not the sort to pour myself out, but covered up my feelings as is usual for me.  It was a busy day, but I also received some awful news; result, I was rushing about madly, but simultaneously on the inside contemplating the meaning of life in an introspective miserable way all day...  Well, that's all.  It may sound shallow to say doing my blog is a little bit of silly fun and a joy that I look forward to each day, but it is true...
Sorry if this sounds all downer.  I suppose my blog is a realistic snapshot of my days and bad days will happen too...  
With regards to today's outfit; all you style mavens can relax, no heels were harmed in the taking of this photo.  But I did wear them for the rest of the day!  The dress is a recent creation, Vogue 1152, made out of chambray.  For my review of this pattern, see here.  I've used this pattern again recently, but drastically altered. And after making my chambray top I still had a tad of the fabric leftover...  well last night I used some of this to put inseam pockets in the dress... and took some photos to show how easy this procedure is to do.
Firstly I traced around my hand to make a pocket shape, and cut out four of these from the fabric,... alternatively you can use a pocket piece that fits you comfortably from a pattern you already have, but a pocket is a pocket is a pocket really...! (also, as the final result will ideally be invisible on the outside you can use either matching fabric like I have, or contrasting fabric, no matter)
I unpicked the side seams of the dress along the area where I wanted the pockets to go, with about 1.5cm further unpicking top and bottom also, for seams.  If you previously overlocked the raw edges of the seam allowance together, like I did for the left hand one in the picture then the unpicking of all that will be a bit painful... if you've overlocked the edges of the separate pieces before sewing your seam, like the righthand one in the picture, then you're laughing (translation; an Aussie expression meaning it'll be easy for you)
Then with right sides together, sew two pocket pieces to each front, and two to each dress back, using a smaller seam allowance than used for the side seams.  This is important, especially if your pocket pieces are cut from contrasting fabric that you don't want to show on the outside of the dress.  It's probably hard to see in the picture, but the yellow pin marks the fold of the old side seam and the pearl pin marks the new joining seam of pocket piece to dress piece.
Now, with pocket pieces right sides together, sew the pocket seam all round the pocket pieces.  Lastly resew the side seams of your dress.  Extend these seams just beyond where the round-the-pocket seam joins into the seam allowance, by about 0.5cm or so.  This will make the finished appearance on the outside neater.  Even more lastly, overlock or finish the raw edges, if desired...
To help make this a bit clearer I've drawn a diagram...
The purple seam (pocket piece to dress) is sewn first, the green seam (pocket pieces together) is sewn second.  The blue seam (dress side seams) is sewn last.  The dotted blue line (do not sew this one!) is the pocket opening, right along the seam line of the dress.  See how the blue line extends just beyond where the green line joins up, and how the purple line is inside the blue dotted line?  I hope this helps make clearer my no-doubt muddled explanations...
And pocket-wise you're home n' hosed! (translation; an Aussie expression meaning you're finished)

Dress; Vogue 1152, with sleeve and fitting modifications, see here for pattern review, cotton chambray
Sandals; Pedro Miralles, from Soletta shoes

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Domestic diva V

Skirt; old favourite, since it was one of the first really artistic things I made for myself without using a pattern.  Lots of bits and bobs of fabric.  Attached long white cheesecloth petticoat underneath with handkerchief hem.  Random strips, stitching and shapes.  Unexpected geometric flounces.   The colours of blue-willow china, reminding me of my grandparents.
Top; real simple.  Wraps and ties at back.  Useful.  A bit of a bra-strap-revealer, but forgiven because of its cuteness and coolness during hot weather.  Days definitely getting warmer now.  Good stuff.
I apologise for the silly telegraphic nonsensical style here today, but I'm a bit rushed although I don't look it in this photo, but looks can obviously deceive...!  and I have a lot on my plate.  Thankyou for your lovely comments, I appreciate every one and I'm glad the domestic diva series is giving a smile to some, thankyou!  Back again tomorrow, and wishing you a happy Tuesday!

Skirt; own design, various blue and white cottons, bias and bias binding strips
Top; New Look 6252, white seersucker
Shoes; Franco Burrone, from Marie Claire shoes

Monday, September 20, 2010

Domestic diva IV

Hmmm, so you can tell I'm getting a bit jaded with my usual photo spots lately?  Just jazzing it up around my own home at the present... and trying to inject a bit more fun into this daily fashion post thing!   I'm impressed with how fashion bloggers manage to do it and maintain interest...
For today's Self-Stitched September effort; a purple sheath dress, made using Burda 8511, with my fitted-to-me custom fitting modifications.   And altered zip placement.  And incorporation of a full lining.  And a different neckline and hemline.  Just minor modifications...  Lol, I read once about someone who had bought a whole new sheath dress pattern, just because they liked the slightly different cut of the neckline to the one on the dress patterns they already had...?!  why you would get a whole new pattern just for this is ... well, it's unnecessary of course.
And the retro-swirly tights, first seen here.  With a major modification (hehe, new pattern not necessary for this!)... I chopped the feet off, and hemmed at ankle length instead.  I decided they'd be a little more useful and kinda more interesting to wear this way.  I had a lot of requests on Burdastyle to publish a pattern for these; well, a leggings pattern graded to suit everybody is beyond my amateurish capabilities, but I thought I'd do a little tutorial soon on how to draft one's own leggings pattern to fit yourself at some stage... after this month is up.  This isn't a difficult procedure and is a quick and easy project.  I promise.  Stay tuned.

Dress; Burda 8511, minor modifications, purple/blue raw silk
Leggings; self drafted, printed jersey knit
Shoes; Perrini, had forever

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Domestic diva III

This is an all-new outfit for today; another pair of corduroy jeans, these in my new favourite neutral, greige.  These are made using Burda 7863 again, fitted to me, with a zip placket and coin pocket added, and flared out from knee to ankle by about ten centimetres overall circumference wider than the pattern.  To line the waistband and pocket I used the very last of the leftover fabric from Sam's shirt.   (and thanks, for your kind words of comfort about Sam being away, he will be back in a few weeks!)
The T-shirt is made from the leftovers of my Jailbreak dress, my own design, drafted roughly from T-shirts I already have.  I wanted to have the neck, sleeve and hemline binding stripes lined up perpendicularly to the body of the T-shirt; the only difficulty to achieving this effect was that the jersey fabric had no stretch in this direction.  However I managed to make it work; the bands fit nicely over my wrist but don't contract snugly over my arms like a stretch would, c'est la vie...
The scarf is merely a strip of leftover fabric from my greige top with half-raglan sleeves, seen worn together like this it can be seen the new pants are going to be a perfect match for that top... yay for mono-tonal dressing!  According to my latest Vogue, mono-tonal is in in in!!  Along with the sailor-striped top... nice to know I'm looking sort of  "in" when just doing the housework, no?!
The socks are handknit by me also...
In blogger news, Trudy, of Sewing with Trudy, has awarded me with a Beautiful Blogger award, thankyou so much Trudy! Trudy always takes the time to leave a kind and thoughtful comment on my blog, and she has been so sweet and supportive of me!  I have received this award before so I am, however, thinking of you when I say I won't try to think of yet another ten things about me (truly I'm not very interesting!), but if you wish to read the 10 things I wrote about before then you can click on the Beautiful Blogger button in my sidebar.

Jeans; Burda 7863 with a few modifications, greige corduroy
Top; my own design, striped jersey knit
Scarf; strip of greige jersey knit
Socks; handknit using Noro Kureyon sock yarn and Koigu sock yarn

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Domestic diva II

Captain's log: Self Stitched September, Day 18; finding my no-double-up rule for this month tough...
Yes, I know this is self-imposed and I don't have to, but I'm stubborn that way and will see it through.  Heaven knows, I have enough clothes.  It's just making oneself wear some of the lurkers; garments that have been shoved back to languish in the far rear corner of the wardrobe...
There is actually nothing wrong with this dress.  It doesn't deserve to be a lurker.  In fact the fabric is Gorgeous, capital intended.  In the close-up below can be seen the detail; sequins, silk embroidery, velvet/chenille ribbon threaded through, tiny cylindrical wooden beading...  the design is exquisite.  The fabric was a remnant from my favourite shop; Fabulous Fabrics.  The problem is in the pattern.  I just felt frumpy whenever I put it on.  This morning I decided it was the combination of the high collar with the general shapelessness of the dress that made me feel that way, so I did a bit of pinning and refitting and resewed the side seams to make it more form-fitting (Marilyn-esque? even though I hesitate to bring a mental image of such a bombshell to the reader's mind when my more ordinary silhouette is there for comparison...!)   But now I feel far less "mother-of-the-bride", and will hopefully wear this dress a lot more, like it deserves...
This evening we are going to the ballet, so I required a dress that would pass muster for this classy event.  When I went out during the day I just left off the stole and popped my trench coat on over...  The stole is simply a length of fake, fluffy fur that I just narrow zig-zagged along the cut edges... it is the perfectly warm and slightly glamourous evening wrap.
And yesterday saw my son Sam off at the airport for his big trip, he is off to France!  Exciting for him, but I will admit to a slightly choked-up moment at the departure gate... and I'm missing him already!  Funny, on the way home from the airport in the car I glanced at the car clock and a thought popped into my head; must get home, Sam will be coming home from school soon! then realised immediately.  Oh.

Dress; Vogue 2538, sequinned and beaded silk
Stole; strip of fluffy stuff, edges narrow zig-zagged
Shoes; akiel, op shop

Friday, September 17, 2010

Domestic diva

The Maternity dress.  Oh, sorry, not aiming to mislead, I'm NOT expecting.  This is just the name I mentally gave to this dress ever since its debut out of the home atelier.  This final form here is quite a bit slimmer in line than its original incarnation, but it's still a distinct "possible" to go to nine months with triplets in this dress...
Ok, ok, I am exaggerating...  I made this dress inspired by the Duro dress that was making a few waves on the fashion scene at the time, touted as being the dress shape that suited everybody... well not this body unfortunately.  After finishing it and staring aghast at my reflection in the mirror (and being told by the whole family that I did, indeed, look pregnant) I embarked on some frantic alteration; top-stitching the body pleats in order to streamline this thing... or people will have been asking me "when's the happy time?" and I have been down that path and have retired gracefully from that particular stage of life, thanks...  after reducing about a third of the volume around the waist I was quite happy with the dress and wore it a lot last summer, so all is well that ends well, no?  The big, pleated patch pockets on the front are my favourite feature of the dress.  As well, it is a fabulous garment for hot weather; breezy, light and very comfortable, and I do feel pretty and feminine in it.  Just don't want to look so feminine as to tip over into fecund...
The socks are handknitted by me, also.

Dress; Simplicity 3745, white dotted swiss voile and crocheted lace trim
Socks; handknitted by me, Noro Kureyon sock yarn
Shoes; Francesco Morichetti, from Zomp shoes

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Colour me Carpark

I've made a new top... and the colour is some sort of colour not really grey but not really brown, but something in between.  Brey?  Gr-own? Or just a darker version of my new favourite neutral; greige...  (later edit, duh, taupe!!)  I went into town today and it struck me my new top was the colour of carparks.  The colour of dirty cement and sooty steel piping.  That makes it sound awful, but really I find the colours, shapes and textures found in industrial and manmade environments can be just as artistically inspiring as natural ones...
The pattern I used is Butterick 4985, except with the sleeves from another pattern, as I prefer these "ordinary" sleeves to the rather frilly fancy ones supplied with the pattern.  I've used this pattern many times before...  The fabric is pre-gathered or shirred in an unevenly spaced wavy pattern on chiffon, which itself is printed with tiny paper-crane like motifs in ink blue.  It was only when cutting-out time came around that I noticed that the black shirred lines did not meet up nicely in a pattern repeat at all; all up and down unevenly, making pattern matching an absolute impossibility... I just had to give up on the idea of matching up those radiowaves!!  With the shirring it wasn't terrifically easy to sew either, so I'm happy with how it turned out.  I just barely had enough fabric to cut out the blouse, so for the collar used some of the leftover lace from Cassie's latest balldress (see here).  After sewing the sleeve hems by hand, I decided the edges looked unfinished, so I top-stitched some black lace braid along the edge.  I chose these little mis-shapen grey swirly buttons to finish it. 
The skirt; actually I'm not feeling this skirt anymore.  Remember when patched and shabby skirts with bits n' bobs hanging off them were fashionable? well this skirt hails from that time.  It no longer excites me, I'm into a more tailored and simple pared back look in skirts at the mo.  But I decided to just utilise it for Self-Stitched September, and it does go quite nicely with the top, I think!  I used Vogue 7303 to make a lining (which is blue), then just patched together bits of black lace (see here) to make an over-skirt shape and sewed over the joining seams with black lace edging.

Top; Butterick 4985 with other sleeves, shirred printed chiffon with lace collar
Skirt; partly Vogue 7303, partly my own design, black lace and black lace edging strips
Shoes; Micam by Joanne Mercer, from Hobbs
Necklace; my husband's very first gift to me! for my 21st birthday (not telling the year, so don't ask!)
Bag; Gucci
Sunnies; RayBan

showing the lace collar, but check out the reflection in the sunglasses, lol!!