Friday, September 30, 2011

A weepy day...

... not because it is the last day of self-stitched September natch, which would ordinarily make it a day of yay!-ness.  No, today is the last day of school for my son Sam and we attended a mother/son service together in the school chapel this morning.  It was pretty moving and I will admit to the lump in the throat and a few odd tears...  One thing the boys do is to present their mother with a rose, and it was a pleasant surprise to me when the colour of the rose Sam gave me accessorised my ensemble so well ... fortuitous, or what!  We had morning tea together and strolled around the garden and chatted.  So a sorta emotional morning; but nice and sweet emotional, not horrid emotional, so that's OK.
Thoughts on the dress:
You've seen this exact ensemble before, when I introduced this dress here on the blog.  I was pretty happy with how these raspberry pink sandals went with it, really says "summer!" I think.  I just may have been saving this dress for this special occasion this month...  :)  It received several nice compliments from friends, which is always a plus, hehe.  It is super comfortable to wear, and the skirts ripple and swish most satisfyingly around your legs as you walk, and in the breeze, so I'm pretty happy with it.  I can see it getting a lot more use for barbies, parties and get-togethers over the next few months as the social season starts to kick in and roar into life.  The last few years my party dresses have been relatively colourless (the three lace dresses I wore recently during this month; the pink, the beige-and-silver and the beige-and-black, are all ex-party dresses from previous years)  So you can see this super-saturation in colour is a big departure.  Good to have something different once in a while, yes?  I reckon it's always wise to be well prepared with a fab party dress way in advance of the social season.  The last thing you want is to be madly running up some complicated number in panicky desperation mere hours before a big event.  Much better to have worked through any problems of a pattern and/or fabric in a stress-free environment... and I've already discussed the teething problems I had with this pattern!  But it all worked out to the best in the end; realistically if I'd ended up with the planned white version working out then that would have been yet another colourless party dress, right?  So it was meant to be, I reckon.

Dress; made utilising the twisted front design from Pattern Magic by Tomoko Nakamichi, teal silk jersey and with a yellow lycra petticoat of my own design underneath, details here
Sandals; Pedro Miralles, from Soletta shoes

Self-stitched September; I was planning to write some claptrap insightful meaningful thoughts on my feelings about self-stitched September this time around, but hmmm.  I don't want to say this the wrong way... I really appreciate the great community that Zoe sets up each time, and there is a little core group of people that always make it worthwhile.  We leave supportive comments for each other and I look forward to seeing what everybody has been sewing and how they put it together.  However I did receive one dodgy comment when somebody called me a show-off.  That made me think I didn't want to do it any more.  But when I start something I see it through, so I finished off the month, in hopefully as non-show-off-y a way as I could.
I've written before about how one tiny seed of negativity can sadly and wrongly wipe out a whole host of positivity.  It is wrong and it shouldn't be that way.  But it just is.  So I am a bit doubtful if I want to go there again.
But to finish on a positive note; the other nesting black swan I mentioned has successfully hatched her brood today (or last night maybe, in between yesterday's walk and today's walk anyway...) I was thrilled to see four cygnets in this batch...  So it is baby season in a big way down at the river... here are some more brand new families that I have seen over the last few days.  Please enjoy the baby bird cuteness!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Futuristic Nun

Self-stitched September, the penultimate day!!
Some thoughts on the day; lovely weather, things are warming up beautifully around here!  Walking this morning was so lovely, the highlight of my day.  Apart from that a fairly uneventful schedule; office work, cooking, blah blah blah.  Oh I forgot, I have been sewing!  And I have a couple of new things to show off now!!  But I'll hold off until after self-stitched September is over.  I'll write more about my thoughts on the challenge this time around, tomorrow... when it is actually over (tiny yay!! with a self high-five that I've almost finished)
My dress; I know it's kind of an unusual one... I made it a few years ago inspired by the fabric.  I've always loved the contrast between the heavy shimmer-y grey/purple fabric and the flimsy white fabric that is a pseudo petticoat.  Together they reminded me somehow of a nun's robe.  Soon after finishing it I read a report about a runway show (I think it might have been Rick Owens, or Helmut Lang, someone like that??) and the journalist described the parade as like being confronted by an army of futuristic nuns stomping down the catwalk... well who could resist an image like that?  Certainly not me.  So that is how I've always thought of this dress.  It isn't a copy of any dress, or doesn't even look like anything that was in the collection, but I picture sister Perpetua giving aid to the needy on board a space-ship being garbed in something like this.  You see I do sometimes play little games with my apparel, even if they are very silly games, hehe.  I wore my brown cardigan for some of the day too.
Yesterday a birthday gift from my parents arrived.  LOOOOOK!
Here are some of my favourite projects, that will probably be attempted first.  Ohmygosh, I just have soooo many plans...

Dress; my own design based on Burda 8511, grey/purple shimmer-y stuff and white cotton, white velvet ribbon
Cardigan; my own design, of Jo Sharp Silk Road DK Tweed in Brindle
Shoes; Country Road

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sherbie jacket

... so named because it is exactly the same colour as of one of my favourite childhood lollies.
Thank you for the feedback on the Spring colour challenge yesterday!  I am still up in the air over whether I will actually join in officially or not; but in the meantime I have chosen a colour palette based on stash fabrics that I want to make up, and realised that this little jacket fitted in with it perfectly!
I'm embarrassed to admit that I made this about three years ago, and have barely worn it.  It has probably been worn about three times in total!  But I was doing a bit of clothing rotation; cleaning out my wardrobe and sorting out some warmer weather gear for the new season and came across it again in a suitcase of spring clothes and decided it was high time I brought into regular circulation.  It is actually quite a goodie if I say so myself... ;) and I plan to make it a staple for this spring.
It is Burda 7723, a pattern which has been seen here quite a lot.  That is because I have made up the shorts loads of times... but the jacket just this once.  It is of sherbie-apricot coloured raw silk, and has a contrasting darker apricot coloured hessian silk collar and pocket flaps.  Those pocket flaps are not just for show, there are real pockets underneath but they are pretty small and probably not useful for anything bigger than a mobile phone, house key and a credit card.  Well, all a woman needs, hehe.... :)  The jacket is fully lined in black acetate lining fabric.  Goodness knows why I chose black, I guess I must have thought it was a cool idea at the time.  I'm thinking the black lining looks a little weird now...
Some thoughts on the other things;
The pale pink layered damask skirt made about four years ago, I was super sad to spot a few areas around the welt seams where the fabric is starting to wear through age... and I still adore this skirt.  Noooooo!
The little sleeveless white wrap blouse, another old spring/summer staple.
Now I have to explain the extra random piccie below, I feel like a bit of a fool because I stuffed up.  I went out on my walk and took a nice picture for self-stitched September, and to show off the jacket... and thought that was that.  Then remembered that today was day of the mini-challenge; the night-shot; doh!  So normally I can't bear there to be more than one photo of the same outfit in a post.  You've probably noticed that I will generally have one photo only, except for details shots or a back/side view or if there is some extra added feature and so on...  I'm just like, one shot is enough already!  But I just have to join in the mini photo challenge, so I nipped out to our street tree and took a night shot too... and there it is below.  So I'm sorry if you too hate multiple photos of the same outfit; and I sympathise.  But unfortunately you just couldn't see much detail of the jacket in the night-shot, so it just had to be done!
But the good news; I did learn how to take a night shot on my camera... something that is new to me.  The shutter speed is set to 30 seconds, and I just stood as still as possible for those 30 seconds.  That is why you can see some car lights zooming down the street behind me!  I'm just amazed the picture worked out... pretty cool, huh?

Jacket; Burda 7723, apricot raw silk, darker apricot silk collar and pocket flaps, lined in black acetate
Top; NewLook 6252, white seersucker
Skirt; my own design based on Vogue 7303 (a basic A-line skirt pattern) pale pink shimmer-y damask, to see this skirt styled in 6 different ways go here
Sandshoes; Country Road

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Green is good

Just to explain the winter-y-like apparel; well it has been insanely wet and windy today; everyone here is incredulous about how cold it is for this time of the year.  I look fairly dry here, but I was rained on earlier and then blasted dry by the wind...  Whatever happened to spring?!
Some thoughts on my outfit; I really like how all these sludgy greens blend harmoniously together, and almost unconsciously I've been slowly accumulating more items in these colours.  I would like for them to be more of a staple colour in my wardrobe because I think they suit me.
Lately I've been toying with the (alien) idea of actually planning my wardrobe... up until now I have just happily made stuff up as whim and whimsy took me; buying fabric that I loved, and making up things as inspiration and need has hit.  But I've been reading up on Collette's "fall" challenge and even joined up! although for us southern hemispheries it is a Spring challenge...!  I've looked through my stash and selected a few pieces of fabric that go together nicely and started planning a little mini collection of pieces that should actually go together. Even though my current random approach has always worked out quite well, I'm sort of excited at the thought of being more organised.
But I do have a few reservations; mostly that I will rebelliously lose interest in making something if I feel "I have to", even if it is me who in the first place told myself that I had to.  The planning stage is always the fun part, and the actual sewing up can turn out to be a bit of a hard slog, maybe even a chore.  I want my sewing to be fun.
Has anybody else found these challenges to be successful, or are they difficult to follow through?

Shirt; Burda 7767 with modifications, dark olive linen, details here
Jeans; Burda 7863, khaki stretch gabardine, details and my review of this pattern here
Scarf; knitted by me, from a wool kit
Socks; not seen but knit by me also, details here
Shoes; Francesco Morichetti, from Zomp shoes

Monday, September 26, 2011

Not the same dress at all...

Looking back at last year's self-stitched September, I can definitely see how this spring has been colder, and we have had a lot more rain.  I was wearing a lot less during last year's challenge, and complaining petulantly about the lack of rain.  And unfortunately we will be having an unseasonal cold snap for the rest of the week; meaning I cannot actually wear just yet several of my new creations for the last few days of self-stitched September.  I have just finished two new dresses and am starting on a new skirt, but they are all just a tad too summery for right now and will have to wait a bit. 
But I still have some suitable nice things that haven't been worn here for a while.  This may at first glance appear identical to the dress I wore two days ago, but it is not.  Trust me...  True, these two dresses were made up using the same pattern.. but wait; that dress was silver and beige lace; this dress is black and beige lace.  And this one is sleeveless (better view here) See, huh?  Totally not identical at all  right??  :))  I'm sure anyone could appreciate the vast difference between the two dresses...   any true lace-lover will completely concur with the wisdom in buying these fabrics and sewing up two NewLook 6699's, without apparently fully realising that I would end up with two pretty similar dresses.  Totally understandable, I'm sure anyone could make the same mistake  fabulous wardrobe decision.
Well, they were made a year apart from each other, so I can be forgiven.  Sort of.  But perhaps I should hold off from buying any more lace just yet, hehe.
And worn with my little snakeskin cardi for wind protection.

Dress; NewLook 6699, black and beige lace, with ivory silk lining
Cardigan; my own design, rubber coated knit embossed with a snakeskin print, details here
Tights; Kolotex
Shoes; Django and Juliette, from Zomp shoes

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Red, white and blue

Self-stitched September, Day 25
Thank you all for your beautiful birthday wishes yesterday!  I was very very touched that so many lovely ladies took the time to wish me well, and I did have a delightful day and evening too, thank you.
Today we met up with extended family for a breakfast in Kings Park, because as well as my birthday yesterday it is my mother's birthday in a few days.  So we had a BIG meet-up.  And I bullied requested nicely for Craig to take my photo today for the challenge... and since I usually take all my own photos of my creations it is kind of funny to me to see how weirdly self-conscious I look when someone else takes my photo.  Eek!  Who is that woman and what on earth is she smirking at?!
Now; for the self-stitched stuff...
This skirt, one of the first really ad-hoc and creative things I attempted, donkey's years ago, will be a lifelong keeper I think.  Years later I still really love it, and am proud of it.  I feel sorta shabbily feminine when I wear it, which I think are adjectives I could happily include when describing my own style.  Along with alternative and slightly weird too, hehe.  Up until now I have only ever worn it with either white or blue tops.  Ever ever...  A red jacket is really branching out.  Now I've got them on together I can't think why it didn't occur to me to try different colours with this skirt sooner!  Proving to myself yet again that see, doing this self-stitched challenge can be quite educational, in really forcing me to stretch my sartorial wings and really use my own wardrobe...  
And the "crisp white shirt" which is not particularly super crisp any more and I really should get onto making myself another, pronto, because this is now a firm staple in my wardrobe which I can't imagine a self-stitched life without...
And my little red bracelet sleeved jacket which I love more and more with each wear and am looking forward to wearing even more now the spring weather is approaching.  Yay! for spring!

Skirt; my own design, various cottons, front and back views here
Top; Burda 8497, white cotton, details here
Jacket; Vogue 2894, red silk hessian, details and my review of this pattern here
Sandals; Pedro Miralles, from Soletta shoes

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I'm gonna party... it's ma birthday...
'Cos it is!  Hehe, and I'm going to take full advantage, by doing exactly as I please... which means very little office work.  Sadly Craig is working all today  :((  but we are all going out to dinner together as a family tonight, so I am looking forward to that.  This morning I stayed in bed for a bit, super self-indulgently flipping through Vogue, then Cassie brought me a cup of tea as well as one for herself and we sat chatting for a good half hour.  It was so nice!  She is a very sweet and spontaneous daughter like this sometimes ...  Then I wheedled Tim and Sam out of bed (who are also sweet, if not so spontaneous) and we went out for brekkie together.  Again, so nice!  I'm glad my children are great fun company...
I plan to walk the dog and sew too.  (so nice!  oh, OK I'll stop that now...)
So today being a please-myself kind of a day, I picked out my favourite (self-stitched) spring-time dress to wear.  Thankfully the weather gods are smiling with a delightful 23C and only light-ish breezes, so I can. 
I can, so I do.
I dress, therefore I am.
(Descartes, you know... sort of)
Being lace it can look quite dressy but I happily downgraded this dress to casual status a while ago, and so it gets worn anywhere anytime now.  Weather permitting, obviously...!  It used to be one of my formal choices and I have worn it to weddings, cocktail thingy-s and dressy afternoon gatherings but I think it looks perfectly elegant with thongs or low casual sandals for ordinary days.  I think favourite dresses should be worn whenever, don't you?
First thing this morning was a little fresh so I also had on my own brown cardi, which I am carrying here.  Even with that old textured cardi it looked quite good together.  Or should I say; the dress made the cardi look good...?  When we go out tonight I will fling on my grey wool spring coat, step into some heels, put up my hair, and be perfectly elegant for a swisho restaurant too.
Hope you all avagoodone!

Dress; based loosely on NewLook 6699, beige and silver lace, purple/brown shot silk chiffon, beige border lace, beige cotton lining
Cardigan, my own design, Jo Sharp Silk Road DK Tweed in Brindle, details here
Shoes; Bronx, from Zomp shoes

Friday, September 23, 2011


... and thank you so much for your kind well-wishes yesterday.   Sorry, I'm still a bit flat.  Today our schizophrenic weather who doesn't know if it's Arthur or Martha, turned so so beautiful.  This was such a contrast to the last few dismal days I couldn't bear the thought of wasting it, so I forced myself to get out and involved in my normal daily activities.  That could have been a mistake.
Today I am wearing a skirt (with side seam pockets) and shirt, all re-fashioned from three of Craig's old business shirts here.  It is still one of my favourite re-fashions, and just pulling it out of the wardrobe and putting it on kinda inspired me to think about a few more of the men's shirts that I still have in my re-fashion pile.... oh dear, so many plans and so little time to actually implement them!  
Hehe, in case you didn't know by now, I do often like a little "weird" or at least a little twisted, with my clothes.  I think I was so pleased with this outfit because it looks like a sort of freaky monster version of the mundane boring business shirt.  So the fabric is business shirt fabric, quiet tasteful stripes and all (even the orange fabric has a very tiny pinstripe although it is hard to tell from this picture) and the general shape of the shirt and skirt has that business shirt aura.  But first impressions can be deceiving, the eye, on first registering "business shirt" then takes a second look and goes, "hang on a minute... this is NOT a business shirt.  This is like the business shirt after that twisted little next door neighbour kid in Toy Story who frankensteined his toys got a hold of it... !"
(cue twilight zone music) this is the psyched-out, butchered, business-shirt-on-elm-street!
Hmmm,I've just read back that whole load of nonsense above, apparently written by me.  Perhaps I'd better go and lie down...

Shirt and skirt; my own design, a refashion of three old business shirts, details here
Shoes; Bronx, from Zomp shoes

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Back again

I’m feeling a bit woolly-headed so I’m warmly rugged up and back to standing in a familiar place for self-stitched September today.  So I'm not feeling very imaginative.  But fortuitously so; I think the thickly clouded whiteness of sky, the smooth beige stretch of pale river sand and the glassy grey stillness of the river set off the rough tweedy textures and dull blue and rusty red colours in my (self-stitched) outfit quite well, no?
I’m going to squeeze a few lemons and consume some vitamin C now… later dudes.

Top; based on top “a” from Unique Clothes Any Way You Like by Natsuno Hiraiwa with a collar of my own design; blue shot cotton, details here
Jacket; the “wearing a square” design from Pattern Magic 2 by Tomoko Nakamichi; blue grey mystery fabric, details here
Skirt; Vogue 8363, rusty red wool and silk tweed, details here
Shoes; Francesco Morichetti, from Zomp shoes

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Having a cuppa...

Self-stitched September, Day 21
Today's mini photo challenge, to be eating/drinking.
I whipped up a new Tshirt yesterday.
Hehe, "whipped-up", a phrase that is music to the seamster's ears, no?  Don't you just love the very thought of it; whipping something up.  Especially since I am normally not much of a whipper-upper, but more of an agoniser-over-the-smallest-detail-er... well whipping something up is nice thing to do once in a while.
As whipping-up implies, my Tshirt is devoid of exciting or innovative dressmaking features.  It's just an ordinary white Tshirt and is not exciting at all.  But I decided to be kinda official about it this time... usually I lay down one of my existing Tshirts and trace around it but I've decided that I should do something about getting a proper pattern that is reproducable over and over.  In the 06/2011 Burdastyle magazine I noticed this Tshirt pattern 120 immediately and thought I would give it a whirl.  So traced out my size based on my measurements, cut it out, machine basted and tried it on (normal modus operandi for trying out a new pattern)  Was a bit surprised to find out I swam in it!  Look at the photograph; the model is hardly swimmming in her Tshirt now, is she?  In fact it looks like a remarkably well-fitting garment, so what is going on here?  Here below are my pattern pieces; the black lines are the stipulated stitching lines and the red lines are my adjusted stitching lines in order for me to get a garment that looks like the one in the picture.  Only the shoulder seams remain unaltered...  ridiculous, no?  
I also noticed that the pattern calls for an invisible zip closure in a centre back seam and for front and back neck facings. Personally I think that is overkill for a Tshirt.  Invisible zips?  Facings?  I think not.  Instead I opted to cut the back in one piece on a centre fold and cut bands to finish the sleeve and neck-hole edges.  This is a very nice finish I learnt it by studying some of my Metalicus tops to see how they finish some of their knit edges, so I think of it in my head as "the Metalicus finish".  I think it is a beautifully clean and easy finish.  It uses the self-fabric so blends in nicely with the garment and doesn't require you to find matching ribbing or to own an expensive coverstitch machine.  You just cut a band to fit (or a little bit smaller), sew it into a ring and fold in half along its length, then serge the raw edges together with the raw sleeve and neckline edges in one seam, like so.  I like this finish for a Tshirt.  For the lower hem I just overlocked the raw edge, pressed under by about 4cm and hand slipstitched into place.  This is a flatter and smoother finish than the Metalicus band method, so works well for the lower hem where I wanted less bulk.
I also altered the neckline of the pattern, cutting a deeper and wider curve, and lengthened the sleeves to elbow length.  Hehe, I guess it is not even the same top now, is it?  
So, since I haven't really used the pattern as intended I won't write a pattern review, but will save that for a time when I actually check out the pattern properly!

Tshirt; kinda my own design, using Burdastyle 06/2011, 120 as a starting point, white knit stuff
Dress; the gathered hole dress drafted from Pattern Magic by Tomoko Nakamichi, grey wool mix, details here
Leggings; my own design, beige knit stuff, details here, and my tutorial for making your own custom fit leggings pattern here
Hand warmers; knitted by me using Morris 4 ply wool in Imperial Blue, details and my pattern here
Boots; Andrea and Joen from Uggies in Dunsborough (now Eco boutique)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shades of grey...

Self-stitched September; day 20:
Awkward time of the year.  Donned tights again this morning because of a pessimistic weather forecast, only to later find myself too hot.  Lol!
And not sewing or handmaking related at all, but still exciting... the first batch of cygnets has arrived!  Here they are below with their mother and father; and did you know that swans mate for life?  They are always in pairs; very romantic, I think...  and I've also noticed that swans are extremely good parents.  Once their cygnets have appeared, both parents stick close together with their little family until they have fully grown into adults, and then the group still hangs around together for even a bit longer, presumably until the second generation find their own mate and leave.  There is still another nesting swan nearby here, and I'm looking forward to seeing how many are in her brood too...
Some reading this may not be aware that black swans are native to Western Australia, or possibly that they even exist; I only mention this because when we had our delightful foreign exchange student staying with us she was quite amazed to see black swans hanging around.  She had seen them in the movie Black Swan, but had assumed the ones in the movie were fake.  Well, of course, black swans are not fake at all, and occur naturally and plentifully here.  It is the white swans which are exotic around these parts!

Jacket; my own design, a re-fashioned pair of old pants, ivory cotton drill, details and tutorial here
Tshirt; self-drafted, leopard print knit stuff, part of a twin-set, details here; and to see this styled in 6 different ways go here
Skirt; self-drafted, charcoal knit stuff, details here
Tights; Spencer & Lacy
Shoes; Francesco Morichetti, from Zomp shoes

Monday, September 19, 2011

Unique Clothes, top "p"

A new top; this one is top "p" from the Japanese pattern book Unique Clothes Any Way You Like, by Natsuno Hiraiwa.  I was intrigued by and loved the look of this little thing from the first, and always knew I would get around to making one up.  I love how when you see it from the front you are just like... oh, an ordinary little top, it's OK but not breaking any ground here; but from the back, wooo, what is happening with that top?  Is it a wrap, is it a shawl or is it a top?  As is usual with the delightfully unpredictable nature of Japanese designs, one isn't quite sure.
I finally got brave enough to use some of the fabric I bought from Tessuti's in Melbourne nearly a year ago (!), a piece of milk-chocolate coloured heavy-ish silk that has a quietly textured matte surface, and blessedly no right side, making it ideal for this project.  It is completely divine against the skin; soft, slippery and drape-y, so naturally a real *&%# to work with.    Out of the three pieces I bought in Tessuti's this is the first to be made up.  So if you hadn't worked it out, I have to confess right here to being pretty overwhelmed by those fabrics; I know that is pretty silly and illogical, but you know when you've bought something really special the likelihood making a big ugly expensive mistake looms a heck of a lot more menacingly...   Well, it's not like I can just pop back to the store to get a bit more now, is it?  Hmmm, whole different kettle of fish when you're two thousand miles away, right?  And fabric from Tessuti's is not cheap even to start with... I think you can grasp at the foundations behind my trepidation here now.  But I think my new top is a success.
The design is a simple concept once you've seen it laid out flat like below; the back when worn has one twist in it, and the two fronts are attached one positioned up the other the down, and the back piece has the armholes; one up and one down.  So clever, no?
The top is not difficult to make, the only proviso is that care must be taken with the finishing.  Since the hemlines are sometimes inside sometimes outside the finishes are visible and so have to be done well.  Hence, the side and shoulder seams are flat felled, and the lower/upper hems are finished with a self bias strip and hand-stitched down to the other side.  So the bias strip ends up half on the inside and half on the outside and switches from one to the other halfway along the hemline.  Hmmm, if you're not understanding well it's kinda hard to explain.  But nowhere near as hard as it was getting those silk bias strips stitched down neatly in an even width hemline... whew.  This fabric is soft and drapey, but it has quite a springy robust nature and was not the slightest bit obedient.
I need get out some nice easy cotton or linen next I think...

Top; top "p" from the Japanese pattern book Unique Clothes Any Way You Like by Natsuno Hiraiwa, made of brown silk
Shirt; my own design, a mix of patterns, black cotton, details here
Jeans; Burda 7863, khaki stretch gabardine, details and my review of this pattern here
Boots; Andrea and Joen, from Uggies in Dunsborough (now renamed Boutique Eco)