Thursday, March 31, 2011

The dress that wanted to be a skirt

This skirt was originally a dress.  I posted about my dissatisfaction with it here, and Terri brilliantly commented that she thought this dress wanted to be a skirt.  Well, that revelation was like a bucket of cold water over my head.  Oh, I mean that in a good way, actually in this weather, a bucket of cold water over the head could be a very welcome thing.  I mean it was like I woke up and looked at the dress with new eyes and saw that yes, it did indeed want to be a skirt.  Thank you , Terri!
Was able to fashion some facing out of the old bodice, luckily.  I cut off the top of the invisible zip and held the top ends of the same over a candle flame to melt the top couple of plastic spiky zip bits into a biggish round blob, so the zip pull won't come flying off the top when I pull the zip up.  Yikes, has anyone else ever ever done this??  I have, once, years ago by accident, and learnt my lesson, never ever take that risk again.  Re-attaching the zip pull back onto an invisible zip is NOT FUN!   
Aaaand bob's your uncle.  New (very) high-waisted skirt.  I think I like this style, especially worn with my husband's white linen shirt tucked in, and all oversized at the top, setting off the slimline-ness of the skirt.  It is Craig's shirt, but I am allowed to wear it this month, since I made it.  But poor Craig.  Perhaps I should make myself my own oversized crisp white linen shirt, so I don't need to go hijacking his all the time...

Shirt; Burda 7767 with minor modifications, white linen, details here
Skirt; Burda 8071, the skirt part only, faced at the top; embroidered silk

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Brighty tighty

Me-Made March, Day 30
I'm not 100% feeling this outfit.  Both the top and the skirt are getting old and have been kicking around in my wardrobe for a few years... both were part of my earlier plan to inject some colour into my life when I first started this blog.  I'm not sure how that's panned out for me.  I feel a little conspicuous whenever I wear bright colours, so maybe they are not for me after all.  And combining two really bright vigorous colours like in this outfit is really pushing my comfort barrier...!
Actually, I'd forgotten how much I liked this skirt with its sharp kick pleats.  They lend such an old-fashioned ladylike air to an skirt, no?  Maybe I should bring it back into regular rotation.
And although I've enjoyed this month-long me-made challenge .... just one day to go!  (squeee!)  My camera will be glad of a break!

Top; Butterick 4985, orange polkadot print cotton, refashioned from a costume skirt here
Skirt Vogue 1023 shortened, some turquoise synthetic stuff, details here
Sandals; la soffitadi Gilde, from Zomp shoes
Nail varnish; Santorini Sunset

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Clad in plaid

I deemed today cool enough to wear one of ma newbies; a plaid shirtdress made using pattern no. 111 from Burdastyle magazine 05/2010.  Naturally with a one or two little adaptions...
The brushed cotton is stash fabric I've had for yonks, and have finally got around to using... actually initially intended for a shirt for one of the boys but I decided to be selfish and waylaid it for my own devious purposes instead, mwahaha.  The reason for my lack of motherly thoughtfulness; when I was out shopping the other week I tried on a delightful little plaid shirtdress in Country Road and fell in love with the style.  Had to have one.  Just had to.  So searched through my pattern collection until I found this suitable candidate and added to it some features that were absent from the pattern but are nice finishing touches for a classic shirtdress.  
My alterations to the pattern were namely, the addition of buttoned arrowhead tabs to the shoulders and also inside the sleeves so the sleeves can be rolled up and buttoned to elbow length (probably the way I will wear it most of the time!), the addition of inseam side pockets (well, really, why are these not in the pattern anyway, hmmm? tut tut, just no excuse, imo), and hemming the lower edge in a nice classic shirt curve.  Plus, instead of the straight up and down side seams of the original, mine is shaped slightly to give it some vague hint of a waist.  
Also I left off the belt carriers, which in the magazine photograph (below right) show the belt to be at a supremely unflattering spot just above the hips, and just underneath the tummy.  Err, no...  And incidentally this is right where one would want one's pockets to go anyway.  If I am going to wear a belt with this dress, it will be up around the waist where it should be.  I love Burdastyle magazine, but just occasionally their styling options leave a bit to be desired...
Oh, and please note, it may not be obvious from the photo but my plaids front and back match up perfectly!  Plaids not matching up is one of those little things that I find pretty irritating if I see it... (yah, neurotic, I know)
Below is the review I submitted to Pattern Review, if you're interested.

Dress; Burdastyle magazine 05-2010-111 with minor alterations, brushed cotton
Shoes; Bronx, from Zomp shoes
Sunnies; RayBan

Pattern Description:
Slightly flared shirt-waister with long front polo fastening and flapped breast pockets
Pattern Sizing:
38-46,  I sewed a size 38.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you had finished sewing it?
Pretty much.  I added some bits and made a few variations.
Were the instructions easy to follow?
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like the basic pattern.  It was a bit too basic for what I had in mind, so I added a few details.
Fabric Used:
brushed cotton
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I added buttoned arrowhead tabs to the shoulders (purely decorative) and also to inside the sleeves so the sleeves can be rolled up to elbow length and buttoned in place.
I added inseam side pockets.
On my version the straight up-and-down side seams are slightly shaped to give some vague hint of a waist.
I omitted the belt carriers because I saw no need for them, also to put the inseam pockets at this level of the dress.  If I wear a belt with this I will have it around the waist.
I put only one button and buttonhole on each of the breast pocket flaps, because I thought the two buttons per flap looked a little fiddly and would be annoying to open and close.
The lower edge I hemmed in a nice curved classic shirt curve.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
If I needed another shirtdress I probably would use this pattern.  And I would definitely recommend it to others as a good basic pattern.
Great pattern, very easy to make, and I love it!  I wasn't initially excited by the picture in the magazine of this dress, well to be brutally honest my first impression was that it looked awful, and outdated.  I think the belt was the problem.  But with the little added extras, lifted from RTW mens' shirts and ladies shirtdresses I've seen around, I'm now super happy with how it turned out.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Me-Made March, Day 28
This morning my Monday morning gal pals and I were discussing Mad Men and the fashions within, and it was fortuitous that I happened to be wearing this dress and my friends noticed and admired it... fashion trends come around to these parts slowly and sometimes not at all, as I mentioned in this post previously.  I can never tell when I make something for myself inspired by an overseas trend whether or not it will "fit in" for around these parts.  I would have to say this particular trend for early sixties inspired, big-skirted, floral dresses such as this one has not taken hold here (at least, not yet), and I look pretty unusual when I wear it.  To say I stick out like a sore thumb wouldn't be too far from the truth.  Sadly.  It's such a feminine fashion, maybe too prettily feminine for the likes of our extremely isolated little city with our strongly beach-y outdoors-y lifestyle.  I feel I look a bit like an extra from Hairspray, or something...
However that is certainly not going to stop me from wearing it!  It's super comfy to wear, the sort of dress that makes you feel like skipping and humming when you have it on, and I feel good in it.  Let's face it, not many of my dresses inspire me to head over to the playground equipment in a playful mood...  And I think it has enough personality that it can stand a little styling fun.  I'm already looking forward to toughening it up in the winter with boots and a biker jacket, or even my new khaki army jacket...

Dress; Vogue 8555, with pleated bodice of my own design, printed cotton, details of the bodice drafting here  and my pattern review here
Thongs; Mountain Designs
Nail varnish; Santorini Sunset

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cleaning up

Earlier in the month I wore a silk dress for general gardening.  Today I have selected black lace... to clean out the garage and shed.  Don't worry, it's not expensive lace just cheap-ish polyester-y stuff.  But it is lace, meaning cool and open to breezes; a priority.
Every six months local councils around here organise a verge pick-up.  That is, you get to toss out all your unwanted old junk onto your verge, and theoretically the council will come around and pick it all up for you to cart off to the tip.  Theoretically.  In reality however, everyone's rubbish pile is reduced to a fraction of its original size by the time of the pick-up because this is just the best neighbourhood re-cycling scheme ever devised. Cars cruising very slowly up and down the streets become a common sight; people checking out everyone's rubbish piles and periodically hopping out to retrieve a few treasures to stash in the boot for their own house and garden.   Kudos to the clever cookie in the public service who thought this one up.
And for once, this time we have managed to not pick up anybody else's junk, although we had a close call when Sam spotted an old TV on the way home from volleyball yesterday... and I had to talk firmly and convincingly about how not only did we not know whether it actually worked  (sometimes people put a helpful note on the top telling you whether things still work; not this time which tells me it probably didn't) but that personal TV's in one's bedroom are unsociable and unhealthy and not conducive to study, blah blah blah.  None of these points of view being particularly relevant arguments to the teenage mind.

Top; Butterick 4985 with different plainer sleeves, black lace and blue nacre heart-shaped buttons
Shorts; Burda 7723 modified, ivory corduroy, details here
Nail varnish; Santorini Sunset

Later: I lie.  We just got an old beautifully decorative ironwork gate from next door.  Score!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A new shoe day is a very good day indeed

It's actually too hot to be wearing my new shoes today, but I don't care.  Wore them anyway, because I  just couldn't resist their ever-so-slightly blotchy ivory leather, their pinked-edged, laced-up, strategically placed cut-outed charm.  Wore them to volleyball (we won).  To the supermarket.  Now they are off because my feet were swel-ter-ing and crying out to please be free of hot closed-in footwear... but I am already looking forward to wearing them again, soon.  Tonight, in fact, at a family barbecue...
All the other garments today are basic old favourites, all made years ago, including the necklace.  Comfort dressing.
Me-Made March has held an unexpected challenge for me in that we have had such an unprecedentedly long hot summer.  This first month of autumn has brought temperatures more like we would expect in January, meaning pretty hot.  So I haven't been able to even think about wearing some of my old or new autumn things as planned, some of which haven't been shown in that me-made group before.  I'm a little disappointed that most of my outfits have been just plain... well, plain.  I like to play around in my wardrobe and layer and mix things up, but when the days are an unending parade of 35C* one is limited to an unimaginative unlayered approach. Even so I'm pretty pleased with myself I've managed to (so far) not have any repeats, apart from my beige, sorry, sorry! nude petticoat.  The obvious inference from the fact that I am even able to do this is of course that perhaps I have too many clothes...

Top; my own design based on the basic shape of NewLook 6483, ivory cotton and crochet trim
Skirt; Vogue 7303 lined, ivory wool mix
Necklace, my own design
Shoes; Bronx, from Zomp shoes

*35C=95F in the old measurements

Friday, March 25, 2011

A girlie day out...

...  shopping and lunching with my mother and my two sisters-in-law.  Simply delightful.  We had a cocktail with lunch as well as a load of fun, and I spent a birthday gift voucher for Zomp on some totally adorable new shoes!  Will be showing them off here soon, for sure.

Top; my own design, made from an old pair of three quarter pants, details here
Skirt; my own design, charcoal jersey knit, seen first here
Sandals; Pedro Miralles, from Soletta shoes
Nail varnish; Pouty Purple, BYS

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Some thoughts on trends and inspiration

Me-Made March, Day 24
This is another day where I'm just wearing something only just recently photographed last month... and feeling a little uninspired about taking another photo.  But here it is.

Dress; Burdastyle magazine 05-2010-114, printed cotton brought home from Japan, see my review (and a better picture) here
Shorts (underneath, not seen); Burdastyle magazine 10-2010-111A, same printed cotton, seen here, with a review of this pattern

Lauriana commented yesterday about the seasonal influences and differences in the fashion scene between Australia and Europe, well I thought I would address that since it's one that provides food for discussion amongst those of us interested in fashion here too.  We follow the fashions in Europe here to a degree, more so than we follow US fashions.  That is to say, when distressed khaki was big news in Europe, a few of our local designers here followed suit.  European fashion turns to tailored minimalism, and boutiques here get back to simple neutral-toned classics too...  European designers such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada and Chanel have set up shop here, whereas we have no American designer boutiques here that I can think of (I could be wrong there...)  
But because of the enormous difference in climate, and I'm not just talking about the roundabout seasons but the fact that our summers are so very hot compared to Europe and our winters are much milder with no snow, the fashion here does march to the beat of its own drum and Australians do have their own "looks" that are distinctly ours and mark out our niche in the fashion world.  The surfie look, for example, is HUGE here amongst young people and I've never seen this look in any other country we've visited.   And yes, I'm including the US, who have their own, more polished, surfer look.  Aussie surfers wouldn't touch Hawaiian print, for example except in an ironic way, like say if it was a bit ripped or graffiti'd over somehow to deconstruct it and grunge it up.
My colourblock top from yesterday I made partly because those scraps were sitting next to each other in my fabric cupboard, and I grew to like the look of those colours next to each other.  Then I pulled them out and wondered what I could do with them, and came up with that Tshirt, based on my previous long corduroy Tshirt that itself was copied from this look at right from Marni Spring/Summer 2007 (that year I made myself a whole outfit that looked pretty much identical to this one, loved it to death! but I don't have it any more).  So in a roundabout way, my look from yesterday has sprung from a European fashion from 2007, and the colourblocking was thanks to having to use up scraps of different coloured fabric!  Yes, I was also quite happy to see that Bally dress in my latest Vogue magazine as being a look "current" in Europe, but that similarity was serendipitous and not planned by me.  Whether or not we are going to see any colourblocking happening here in the local fashion scene over the winter season and into spring and next summer, as influenced by those European trends, remains to be seen.  I might end up being the only colourblocked Aussie around, all alone and locally unfashionable!
(photo at right from Marni Autumn/Winter 2007, found here)

Where do you find inspiration for your "look"?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Colourblock, eh?

This is one of the new things I've made in my stash'n'scrap busting efforts; a new top.  Getting rid of two more smallish pieces of fabric...!  
The rust coloured corduroy used for the body is the leftover from these jeans.  I really love both making and wearing corduroy jeans, but the fabric width is just than little bit too narrow so that you have to buy twice your leg length to make a pair of jeans, because of the fabric nap.  And this means a couple of large chunks of leftovers.  Not to worry, I'm nothing if not diligent about using up those scraps as usefully as I can.
The purple sleeves are the very last leftovers from this dress.  (And I assure you the sleeves are exactly the same length, in spite of the funny way I am obviously posing...)
I know I'm going to love this top.  About three years ago I made another corduroy Tshirt that I wore a heap during winter, and was pretty darn sad when I spilled something down the front and it finally had to go.  Don't know why it's taken me this long to replace it, actually...  It is a laughably simple design, just rectangles of fabric with armholes cut into the body of the Tshirt, and bit of a boatneck-line scooped out, and long flat sleeve caps on the top of the tubular sleeves, measured and cut to fit the armhole lengths of the body.  Faced the neckline from other scraps.  Hemmed.  Done.  Simple and very easy to wear.

And happily fashionable.  My eye was caught by this outfit from Bally... quite similar, no? although this is a dress, and my outfit is a skirt and top.  I really this look of solid blocks of strong colour stacked up on top of each other; a look reminiscent of children's building blocks, simple, colourful, a bit fun and interesting.  The extra plus for the self seamstress is that these simple unstructured shapes are so easy to sew, and the different blocks of colour are tailor-made (haha, a little joke there...) for using up scraps...

Top; my own design, rust corduroy and purple raw silk sleeves
Skirt; Vogue 7303, orange raw silk, details here
Shoes; Perrini, had for ages
Sunnies; RayBan
Nail varnish; Pouty Purple, BYS

At right, from Bally Spring/Summer 2011, here

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Un-feminine, but...

I quite like the utilitarian edginess of this outfit, with vaguely military overtones, thanks to the trench skirt.  When I first tried this top on with this skirt I was a bit struck with the unusualness of the look.  Sort of  intriguingly different.  It's all quite boxy and not shaped to flatter my body at all.  But I'm OK with that.  After all, I dress to please myself; for both comfort and appropriateness to the weather, as well as to look nice.  Today is another hot one, so the airiness and unfittedness of the outfit allows for breezes.  And "nice" encompasses many things, pretty not always having to be amongst them.  This is more funky.  It's not a very feminine look, but I don't want always to look feminine.  I like an edgy unconventional look too; and I think this has that appeal.  So yeah.
The necklace is another I made a few years ago, during my beading fad.
Re Vogue 8333, the jacket with the "inside secrets to luxurious custom couture construction" (this is verbatim from the envelope, I'm actually not making that up); I bought some wool/silk mix while in Japan specifically for this jacket pattern and made a tiny start today.  I cut out the paper pieces today and read through the instructions.   Well, I did say a tiny start...
Has anyone else got this pattern and read through these instructions?
Some new concepts here; hair canvas... pad-stitching... er, bridles? I always thought bridles were for horses, apparently ladies wear them too, just in a different form, tucked away inside their lapels... ha!
You learn something new everyday.

Top; my own design, made from an old pair of ivory light cotton pants, details here
Skirt; Burdastyle magazine 08-2009-107, khaki cotton, close-up details and my review of this pattern here
Necklace; my own design
Belt; Country Road, had this for about twenty years
Shoes; Betts & Betts Brazilian collection, had these for about twenty years too