Sunday, October 31, 2010

Three Grim Reapers

OK, we don't really observe Halloween here in Australia.  Trick-or-treating, definitely not.  But sometimes there is the odd party happening at this time that adopts a Halloween-y theme and thus provides an excuse for people to dress up in weird outfits.  So, a few years ago my eldest son and two of his friends went to such a party and decided they wanted to be Grim Reapers.  Hehe, checked out the dates on these photos, and wow, it was four years ago.  Four years ago!  Man!
I made their costumes (don't get the wrong idea, I don't make a habit of this sort of largesse...) using 4m each of black cotton fabric, and they fashioned the scythes themselves from my husband's bamboo aikido poles with cardboard blades covered with aluminium foil..
I thought they looked pretty good, no?  Tim is on the far left...! lol. How can I tell?  Well, a mother just knows, yeah.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hoodie McCloud

Don't ask me why the silly name I've dubbed my new hoodie.  I have no explanation myself.  I surprise myself with my inner loon sometimes...
The lovely Mary had a giveaway and sent me this cute hoodie pattern, KwikSew 3667, and this is my first effort.  I just used some unexciting pale grey marle fleece to try it out, but am already in love with the hoodie in this fabric, and this pattern.  It was very very easy to make up.  Probably took oh, about half an hour, cutting included.  Yes!  (air fist punch)  The most difficult part was... no, I'm teasing...  There was nothing difficult about this hoodie!  I am definitely going to make this one up again, and again.  Not that I'm going down the path of ease and comfort above all else, don't worry.  I'm never going to be that gal in the bogan tracky dacks.  And while I do like to be challenged in my dressmaking, but it's also nice to have a quick and easy project every once in a while, a soothing gel to the ego when more difficult projects are getting one down...  
Thankyou so much, Mary!
I'm really liking the way style has not been sacrificed on the altar of comfort in this pattern; I think this loose and simple shape is very chic and "now" while still being evening-on-the-sofa worthy.  Look at the below shots from the Dries Van Noten Fall 2010 and Celine Spring 2011 collections (and yes, I am planning this in white too as part of my white shirt challenge).  I loved the Dries Van Noten look when I first saw it and will wear it like this with a silky skirt one day...  But for today I am bike-riding with my friend S so the need for a bike-appropriate outfit.
Which brings me to something I've been thinking for a while... whilst I love personal style blogs and am frequently inspired by some, there have been times when I seriously question whether some of those girls are actually wearing the clothes they are posing in.  With my own personal style photos I am always just wearing what I am wearing that day... thus the periodic appearance of thongs (flipflops) and tennis shoes on a casual day.   I like to be honest about my daily apparel.  Some of the blogs I look at, the girls seem to be in very high heels and toting large heavy looking handbags on a daily basis.  Meaning, every day.  I've even seen the towering heels whilst posing with a bike... lol.   Is this honestly what they are wearing that day?  I "get" the pressure to look nice and put-together, and I do feel it myself, but ... honestly...

Hoodie; Kwik Sew 3667 view A, grey marle fleece
Jeans; adaption of Burda 7863, rust corduroy
Sunnies; RayBan
Thongs (flipflops): Mountain Design

photos below; at left from Dries Van Noten, Fall 2010, at right from Celine, Spring 2011

Thursday, October 28, 2010

An essential petticoat

The first time I wore this new cocktail dress was at a standing cocktail function; and all was hunky dory.  Felt a million bucks and the dress was perfect.  The second time I wore it was to a sit-down lunch and fashion parade at a fancy restaurant here, and a vitally important design flaw in this dress immediately made itself apparent.  I won't embarrass anyone with any pictures, but the above picture with my new petticoat worn under the dress should give you some idea of the problem I faced... luckily I was out just with my own husband who could see the humour in the situation, and also luckily there was the tablecloth as well as a huge white serviette draped over my lap the whole time I was seated...!
This cocktail dress is really lovely and I am super happy with it, but I should have foreseen this.  I actually couldn't believe it myself that I had simply not sat down in the dress up until that point and realised...!  The pattern is really a coat-dress, and has closure only at the waistband, and one button a little further down at about hip height on the inside flap.  Naturally there was going to be gape-age...!
So I bought some silk satin and made a petticoat, using an old standby sundress pattern Burda 8071.  I do already have a selection of petticoats, but since this one would undoubtedly slip into view when wearing this dress, I wanted it to match and blend in perfectly, and obviously be of a perfect length. For this reason I spent some time getting the hem length exactly right.  The petticoat sits just 2cm shorter than the dress.  The shoulder straps are of satin ribbon, and are adjustable.  Though unfortunately the only lingerie fittings I could find are these from Spotlight, which are just not very good... if I could find another range somewhere I would definitely swap them over.  Anyone know of a good supplier of lingerie fittings?
Viewing the petticoat modelled here by Bessie, you can see how much bigger than me she is.  The petticoat actually fits me perfectly, but I can barely squeeze it over Bessie's hips, and as for doing up the zip, well no way Jose.  Even here it is stretched as tight as.  Having her is wonderful and certainly makes my sewing life much easier, but fine-tuning the fit of a garment is always something I have to do on myself, obviously!

Dress; Vogue 1155, bronze-y gold silk taffeta
Petticoat; Burda 8071, beige silk satin
Shoes; Misano, from Labels boutique

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A whiter shade of pale...

Today being slightly cooler (and on a side note, man has this been a delightfully warm spring...!) I am finally able to wear the scarf that Sam brought me as a gift from his trip to France.  It is a soft-as-clouds woven chenille; ivory, or white, the colour he told me I wear the most and is convinced is my favourite colour.  Hmmm, I'm always fascinated when people tell me what my favourite colour is, since I'm so unaware myself of what it is... he could well be right.  Possibly my favourite colour changes a lot, even daily, depending on my mood.  But there's no denying white and variations of are a recurring theme for me in my wardrobe...  Even though my skirt is technically green and my top is technically blue, they are really both now just slightly off-white themselves.  A few years of laundering and drying out in the sun has bleached them to a faded shade of nothingness to satisfy even the most die-hard lack-of-colour lover such as myself...  And with a snowy ruffle of petticoat peeping out from my skirt, and pristine new bobby socks, well today I'm just a symphony of paleness, merely lacking a picnic and a hanging rock...
I have mentioned it before on this blog, my personal love for white shirts and how they are not just useful but beautiful.  As if there is an international synchronicity of minds, Barbara has started a white shirt sew-along (button over there in the side-bar), and how could I not but join in?  This is good.  My obsession with white shirts has been legitimised and sanctioned with an official outlet.  I don't have to invent a reason to make a white shirt. When debating whether yet another white shirt is actually a reasonable addition to the wardrobe, I can now easily self-justify, well, I'm committed to The White Shirt Project.  Yes.  End of story.  Permission granted. Purchase of white, and even lacy, fabric may now proceed, guilt free.
And I can semi-cheat, hehe, having just completed two white shirts quite recently... specimens 1 and 2 below...

Top; Butterick 4985, blue self-embroidered cotton with lace details
Skirt; Vogue 7880 view B, sage green self-embroidered cotton
Petticoat; Metalicus
Socks; knitted by me, white cotton
Scarf; gift from my son, Paris
Boots; Francesco Morichetti, from Zomp shoes

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"Rooster", a drawing

Of course my first love is sewing, but very occasionally from time to time, I dabble in other creative stuff.
This is a pencil drawing I did for my father's birthday a few years back.  Mum and Dad now have it hanging in their kitchen, and I took these photos the last time I visited them down in the country.
I know we have an abundance of livestock here in our house already, but if I could be allowed to have just a few more I would choose to get some chooks.  We always had them in our garden when I was growing up and my parents still keep chooks today.   I love their attitude; they are such busy, comfortable, bustling sort of birds.  Their gentle grandmotherly clucking is a very soothing sound to have in the background.  Plus they are productive.  And a good way to dispose of kitchen scraps.  Maybe one day...
Funny memories:  we always named our chickens.  This sometimes caused problems, particularly when a favourite was being served up for dinner.  "But we can't possibly eat Ophelia!" would go up the protest.  After a while Mum and Dad learnt to keep quiet about that aspect of farming.  
In later years and when my own children were staying over with Granny and Grandpa for a holiday, no one would breathe a word about the absence of Fang or Fluffy from the chook pen, and the subsequent appearance of roast chicken on the dinner table.  One learns to deal with it...!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Crisp white shirt; check

A while ago I identified a hole in my wardrobe; supposedly a basic that no woman should be without, and have now dutifully filled it.  One crisp white shirt; check.  Now my husband can relax that his white linen shirt will be safe from my clutches.  Well, mostly safe, hehehe (cue evil witch cackle).
I used Burda 8497; a wrap front and tie-at-the-side-of-the-hip style that is flattering to a person of my proportions, I think.  And a very feminine style.  Rather than a button up, which is a little more masculine.  The fabric is a poly-cotton, easy wear but not luxe, so I left the edges all nice and snowy-pristine with no topstitching and I think this ups the stylishness factor a touch.  This pattern just allows for ordinary fold down hems on the sleeves, which can be a little boring and middle of the road; so for this shirt I drafted sharply pointed fold-back cuffs which are each permanently sewn closed with two pewter buttons masquerading as cufflinks.  This gives the cuffs a vaguely evening-y or business-like air to them, yes?  And adds a bit of interest to what is otherwise a quite featureless sleeve.
And for my morning tea with some friends this morning I jazzed it up with a screamingly colourful in-your-face gypsy-ish skirt of many layers.
Aaah, the weather is so divine at present.  Walking along the beach yesterday and this morning was a sheer joy.  Everybody is making the most of these days to the max, whilst simultaneously trying not to whinge about the lack of rain ...

Shirt; Burda 8497, white poly-cotton, pewter button "cufflinks"
Skirt; Vogue 7880, printed cotton
Sandals;  lasoffitadi Gilde, from Zomp shoes

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Glazed Ginger socks

Finished some new socks!  These are the first out of the sock wool I bought in Melbourne.  This is the own brand produced by the store (now how often do you come across that nowadays, hmmm?) Morris and sons, 100% Australian merino 4-ply.  I ended up buying about eight balls of different autumn-al shades because they were just irresistible, like little warm fluffy balls of autumn.  Just my colours...
These are primarily in Glazed Ginger, or colour 410, but let's face it naming a colour with a number is sterile and boring and completely un-evocative of anything.  I like a little daydreaming with my wool purchases, thankyou.
The biggest concern when knitting socks is how to evenly halve the wool to go between the two socks.  So these were kind of an experiment to see how much "sock" goes into one ball.  I worried one ball might not be enough for the two socks, so I knitted the heels in a bit of another colour.  This one Beluga, another wonderful name bringing to my mind that Bond movie scene where Valentin gets dunked in his own vat of caviar and comes out blackly oily and dripping in expensive sludge...  hehe... Or, if you prefer, colour 430.  Obviously, the toes got finished off in this colour too.  So these socks will provide a measure for how long to knit the other socks, using this Morris sock wool. 
And for this photo-shoot, Zoe contented herself with watching from the sidelines...

Socks; adapted from the Ladies' Sockettes, Patons knitting book C11 (circa 1960-ish), Morris 100% merino in Glazed Ginger and Beluga

Friday, October 22, 2010

A good hair day

Of course, as every woman knows, a day involving a hair appointment has a high chance of being a good hair day and then, ipso facto,  a very good day indeed.
Having my hair done is a favourite self-indulgence.  Well, OK, ahem, I do have a few self-indulgences (no-one mention shoes, please), but this one is quite high up on my list!  It comes from being incapable of doing my own hair.
At my mum's suggestion I experimented with a new way of wearing this skirt; skirt "m" from the Japanese pattern book "Unique Clothes Any Way You Like" by Natsuno Hiraiwa.  The garments therein are designed to each be worn in a number of different ways.  This skirt is quite unshaped to the body and so can be swivelled around so the zip and er, flap (for want of a better description!) sits anywhere around one's hips.  Today I tried it pushed back in on itself to create a kind of big pocket.  This could make it handy for keys or a tissue, in a pinch!
What do you think?
Below is how it looks with the flap "out".

Skirt; pattern "m", from "Unique Clothes Any Way You Like" by Natsuno Hiraiwa, apricot/grey linen/cotton mix
Top(under) Country Road
Cardigan; Metalicus, secondhand
Scarf; Country Road
Thongs (flipflops); Mountain Designs

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Deep Purple

Busy busy busy...
Have you ever had one of those days in which you race madly from one thing to the next and are receiving phone calls and text messages like on no other day (usually when one is halfway through some transaction or other important thing)
But I still tried to look smart because of a few social things I had happening where I knew everybody else would be looking nice.  I'm dying to get back to my sewing machine... it's been a few days since I did any sewing and am now suffering withdrawals... plus the need to get through a small mountain of new fabric from Melbourne (blush!)
This dress has been such a goodie.  To think I felt unsure when I first made it...  The colour was a departure.  I think the simple unfussy sheath style is a look that suits me.  It's great to just know one's best looks when you are scrabbling about desperately through the wardrobe.   Having a kind of style diary like this blog has helped me with this a lot
Have you ever made or bought something about which you were a leetle doubtful at first and that later became a mainstay in your wardrobe?

Dress; Burda 8511, with modifications for fitting and lining, purple raw silk
Cardigan; Saba, op shop
Scarf; alta linea, gift
Shoes; Sandler, op shop 
Bag; Gucci

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

And the winner is...

I must admit I felt quite excited as I riffled through the entries using my high-tech lottery determination system to single one out...!
Thankyou to all those who participated and left a nice comment, you are all awesome, and so kind!
Shannon, I will pop over to leave a comment on your blog about arranging to send you your prize.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bathers, 2010

I'm feeling veeeeery brave, putting a picture of myself up here, in my bathers!  Last year I was way too shy to do this.  Please note I've modestly veiled my face,  so no one can recognise me... (lol)
So I've made this year's bathers for myself, the first project from the fabrics I bought in Melbourne from the Fabric store, on Brunswick Street.  If you can you read the printing in the selvedge of the fabric, below, you can see it reads "Zimmerman".  Well, this is quite a classy Australian swimwear brand and I was pretty chuffed to see end-of-roll bolts of their fabrics stacked up at the back of The Fabric Store.  I haven't seen the Zimmerman range for this season yet, but I am curious to see what they've made out of this very fabric!  I made a tankini, altering the one swimwear pattern I have to do this.  I just drafted the body skirt part and added it on to the bottom of the bikini top at front, and redrafted the back piece accordingly.     I had initially cut these body pieces quite long because they are self-drafted and I always allow myself plenty of extra fabric in case of problems; and at first I was planning for the ivory waistband of the bottoms to be on view when I was wearing them.  But then decided I like the look of the top long and pulled down over the bottoms; so this feature is now hidden.  I cut up an old bra to use for cups inside the bodice.
I didn't set out to make the bathers "retro" in appearance (a word I'm getting a bit bored with in the sewing world, but not as bad as "vintage") but they have turned out quite... old-fashioned.  There.  "Old-fashioned" is a less overused and therefore much more preferable term.  I'm going with old-fashioned...
And, just because everybody loves a photo blooper I've included one below for your amusement, taken accidentally while I was setting up.

Bathers; McCalls 2772, with some modifications, navy blue with ivory polka-dot swimwear fabric
Hat; Country Road

Monday, October 18, 2010

Chain and tassel necklace; a tutorial

As soon as I saw it I loved this chain and tassel accessory made by the enormously creative and beautiful Maegan, who in turn was inspired by a Blugirl original, and I wanted to have a go at making my own...  Maegan made hers as a lariat, which would be a much more versatile accessory; but I made mine as a fixed necklace. This is because I knew in my lifestyle a lariat would probably end up either tripping me up, strangling me, or slipping off entirely without my noticing...
so I bought 2 packs of 1m (40 inches) of gold chain and two black upholstery tassels, medium size.  I already had some 10mm jump rings and a necklace hook and loop.  If you are at all into making your own accessories like this it is very handy to also have some pliers and a wire cutter small enough to work with these little fiddly bits.
The chains I bought conveniently had jumps rings attached to each end already, so I just used one of these to join them together to make one long 2m (80inches) chain.
Arrange the chain to your satisfaction.  I went with three loops around the neck and left the ends hanging down in uneven lengths.
At the back of the neck, find the three links that are as close to centre back as possible and string a bit of scrap yarn through them all. Tie this in a loose knot.
Laying the chain down on a flat surface, cut through these three centre back links using wire cutters.
Loop the two jump rings through all three chains, and add the hook and loop closure.
Prise open the last ring on each chain end and thread onto it the top loop of the tassel, close the ring securely.
Use a wool needle to pull the top loop of the tassel back through the "top-knot" and out into the middle of the fringe-y bits, to hide it inside.
It can be worn with the ends hanging down loose or loosely tied up which is less swing-ey and sway-ey when you walk about as briskly as I do.  But I think I like it hanging loose better.  What do you think?

Top; Tempt
Shorts; Burda 7723, with slight modifications
Beaded thongs (flipflops); some little shop in South Africa