Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tracing through the years

I have a small collection of Burda magazines from the late 70's and early 80's.  These were bought new back then by my mother for her own use and I have them now for safe-keeping.  I loved looking through these magazines, and still do!  These were absolutely fascinating to my younger self, and part of the inspiration behind my decision to sew for myself.  Along with, naturally, my mother herself; hugely influential to my creative self.  A very inspiring lady who was always either spinning, weaving, dyeing, knitting, sewing, or all of the above; magnificent creations for her own wardrobe.  And still does today!
Something that interests me now is that the very garments that I loved the most back then are still my same favourites today.  What does that say about me?  That my tastes have not changed much?  I would like to think I am so happily consistent and not all over the place like a dog's dinner which is how I sometimes feel sums up my tastes...  Looking closely at my chosen favourites I can see I'm attracted to a simplicity of line, an absence of clutter in the silhouette, and a certain... something else.  I guess what that nebulous "something" is; is my "style" that I am still trying to define today.  I did notice that something made up in neutral colours and particularly in white, always attracts my attention, and is almost guaranteed to be one of my long-term "favourites"; LOL!  That predilection has not changed!
Back then, the patterns came in one size, or two if you were lucky.  The patterns did not come in all sizes, nested together like they do today.  So, say one might see a dress that one simply had to have.  Looking at the small print, one would then either be transported with joy to discover that it was indeed blessedly in one's own size, or at least close enough to enable one to fudge-fit it to oneself; oh happy day!  One the other hand, one might be plunged into doom to see that the one dress you loved the most was only available five sizes too big.  Darn!
Another thing; the pattern sheets themselves.  You think today's Burdastyle patterns are difficult to trace?  Take a look at this!
That is a pattern sheet from the May, 1977 issue.  Compared to Burdastyle magazine today.  05/2010, to be more accurate...
I've put my tape measure in there for an idea of scale....
I think we've got it easy today, girls!
Just for fun, here are some of those 70's styles.  I would welcome these two garments happily into my wardrobe.
Some other lovelies from the Spring/Summer 1977 issue...

Finally, I have decided to go ahead with putting out here my wardrobe addition costs, as outlined here.  So, completing my summary for January...  I think doing a monthly overview will be better than giving a cost each time... a better distribution  :)

My Darling Clementine top
Fabric $34.60 (includes a portion of the shipping cost)
Pattern; Vogue 1247, first time used $7.00
Thread; $3.20
Total cost: $44.80
A Sludgy Little Skirt
Fabric; all leftovers
Pattern; Vogue 1247 used before
Zip; $1.00
Dye; $7.77 (bought during Spotlight's 40% off sale)
Total cost: $8.77

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A sludgy little skirt

Hooo boy.  We are having an insane heatwave right now... been 37C or above for over a week now.  Australia Day was 42C, phew...  We all spent the entire day in bathers, in and out of the pool.  The fireworks teetered on being cancelled because of the fire risk, but luckily at the last minute some clouds rolled in, the temps dropped and we even got a few fat raindrops!  And then the fireworks competed with an amazing lightning display (pictured below)  Today is supposed to be another 42C-er, so I am in my bathers ... again!
But unable to resist a smidge of sewing, as can be seen.  And dyeing.
I've made a skirt.  Now, it probably doesn't look very exciting, but I know this will be a wardrobe staple that I will wear into the ground....  You see, part of building up a wardrobe that is well-suited to each individual woman, that you enjoy wearing and is versatile and comfortable, is recognising items of clothing that are indispensable for you and your own particular style.  For a while now I've been wanting to replace an item that I determined long ago is one of my own indispensables; a short straight sludgy coloured skirt.  I was pretty sad when my old khaki corduroy one finally died, it got all stretched out around the waist in an ill-fitting and ugly way, and for the last six months of its life I could only wear it with long shirts hanging out over the top, which was an utterly ridiculous state of affairs, so I finally said goodbye to it.  I tried to move on, do without it, but eventually conceded I really wanted another skirt just about exactly like that old one, and soon!
That skirt was thisclose to perfect, but of course a skirt does not qualify as actually perfect in my opinion unless it has pockets.  When I checked out the line drawing of the skirt in Vogue 1247; I was pretty excited ... Little skirt; check!  Plain and basic; check!  Pockets; check AND check!!!!  These are all the features adding up to the perfect little skirt in my book...  and it also has a waistband, something I am currently into in my skirts.... WIN!
I made the skirt from purple stretchy denim, the leftovers from my plum jeans here.  The waistband is black corduroy, with its wrong non-fluffy side out, leftovers from these jeans, and instead of folding the waistband in half so it is self-faced as suggested in the pattern, I pieced the waistband in half horizontally with a lightweight cotton (shot cotton in Ice, also a leftover) to reduce bulk around the waist...  just a personal preference.  The pockets are lined with the same lightweight cotton.

The waistband is a contrasting black; for the following reason....  usually I add a bit of length to my pattern pieces, but I was working with scraps here and could only cut all my purple skirt pieces to their pattern-stipulated length... and this skirt is short!  Now, I like my skirts short it is true, but this one was going to be really short... even by my standards.   So I didn't hem, but instead enclosed the lower raw edge of the skirt in the same black bias binding used for the HongKong finishes on all the other raw edges inside the skirt.   And cut a new black waistband, so as to have the colour of that black edge picked up somewhere else in the garment.
The HongKong seaming does constitute part of the pattern instructions and there is a pattern piece to aid you in constructing your binding.  I dutifully cut this out and make up the continuous bias binding as instructed.  However it was too skinny to work effectively on my thick denim fabric, so I ended up cutting a whole new new lot of 50% wider bias binding in black quilting cotton.  Which means I have 6.5m of skinny off-white bias binding now, to use in some other project  :)

I dyed the finished skirt using 1/4 tsp of iDye in Brown.  I'm very happy with this final colour.  It is very satisfyingly muddy and richly sludge-y, wouldn't you say?  I would describe it as eggplant, rather than either brown or purple.  A sort of deep n' dirty purple, that reads as a strong chocolate brown on first sight, but still recognisably has that warm purple-y base underneath when you look at it more closely.
(at left: front, before dyeing, at right; the back after dyeing)
Inside the skirt: at left; the front, before dyeing, and see the pale blue waistband facing? and at right, the back view after dyeing the skirt... that 100% cotton waistband really picked up the brown dye beautifully compared to the denim, which having some synthetic elastane in it didn't pick up the colour quite as vividly....

Skirt; Vogue 1247, purple stretch denim and black corduroy waistband; dyed with iDye in Brown
Top; top "a" from Unique Clothes Any Way You Like by Natsuno Hiraiwa, of white cotton, details here
Sandals; Micam by Joanne Mercer, from Hobbs shoes, details here

Pattern Description:
Short straight skirt with deep front pockets set in a horizontal seam.
Pattern Sizing:
6-12; I cut the size 10
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you had finished  sewing it?
Yes, except that mine is 5cm longer because I did not hem, but finished the raw lower edge with black bias binding.
Were the instructions easy to follow?
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I just love this skirt pattern; the slight A-line shape with a minimal flare, and the pockets most of all.  The smaller pattern pieces also enable you to make use of smaller leftover pieces of fabric, which is a big plus... 
I like the HongKong seaming in the skirt and the French seaming in the top; that the instructions are encouraging users to finish their garment to high standards.
The skirt is very short as it is, but that is the easiest thing to alter in a skirt pattern...
Fabric Used:
Medium-weight stretch denim, corduroy waistband, lightweight cotton for the waistband and pocket facings, quilting cotton for the bias binding.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I finished the lower raw edge with bias binding instead of hemming; this skirt is short!  In stead of the self-faced waistband, I pieced the waistband horizontally in two halves; the outer half is the fashion fabric and the facing half a thin lightweight cotton.  I thought this a better choice to face the thicker denim I chose for the skirt fabric.  Likewise the pockets are lined in lightweight cotton.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I will definitely sew this again sometime!  Probably lengthened... :)
A short straight fitted skirt, AND with deep pockets?  it doesn't get much better than that!

For interest: the lightning vs. fireworks over Perth on Australia Day...
photo by Matt Titmanis; source

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Australia Day

Today is Australia Day, and what better cuisine to enjoy than a meat pie and sauce served on a paper bag.  Mmmm mmmm.
Fabio approves.
Wishing all a perfectly wonderful day!

Monday, January 23, 2012

My darling Clementine

I have made a new top! 
A nice floaty loose top perfect for our fiercely hot summer days.  And we've sure had a few stiflers lately  :S so I will be wearing it immediatemente.
I used Rowan shot cotton... again.  This colour is Clementine (and please note I am wearing it with my little lime-print skirt, hehe! gettit?)
I am so addicted to this fabric!  It is gorgeously light, an almost not-even-there type of fabric.  Which is great for this particular pattern.  Why?  Well, the pattern specifies French seams throughout, and has a number of convergent seams.  Like where there are pleats on both front and back, joining together at the shoulder seam, and particularly! that centre front bit, where there are six French seams all converging to a single point in a star-shape, and themselves all being joined in a final French seam too... if your fabric was even a little bit bulky I would class this a quite a tricky area to get looking nice, and particularly situated where it is, right boom in the centre front of your top it pretty much has to be perfect!  Luckily this shot cotton is so marvellously light it wasn't too horrible a job, and I think I got it looking quite neat and tidy.
Of course you don't have to do the French seams here if you wanted to make life easier for yourself... which I stubbornly do not  ;)
I used a newbie-to-me pattern Vogue 1247.  This was a Christmas present from Sam; but I'm still adding the cost of it to my little 2012 personal-clothing-expenditure ledger, since in reality I chose, sourced and bought it myself!! and he just "gave" it to me.  We are very practical when it comes to present-giving in our family...
This pattern is classed as Average; a rating which was a little head-scratching to me.  I guess maybe the instructions for finishing throughout with all French seams made them decide to up the difficulty rating a notch, since I can't really think of any other feature that could make this pattern anything other than a very easy project easy imo!
The neckline is finished with a narrow self bias strip...  Noice, no? at right; that convergence of French seams from the inside view
I really like the bias-cut facings, folded out over those kimono sleeves....
Narrow hem...
Since the neckline is quite wide I slip-stitched lingerie holders to the shoulder seams to keep those straps outasight, these were a gift from the very lovely Yoshimi... thank you so  much Yoshimi!
Probably this top would be far more fabudabulous on a lady with.. er, more fabudabulous assets, but I'm still pretty happy with how it looks on me.  I am planning to make the little skirt too, and will review that separately.
Ciao, bambini!

Top; Vogue 1247, shot cotton in Clementine, from here
Skirt; Vogue 7303 modified, lime print cotton
Sandals; anna, from MarieClaire shoes
And that colour?  See below the happy marriage of a light pumpkin warp juxtaposed against a truly neon orange weft; giving rise to that beautifully citrus-y iridescence..

Pattern Description:
Very loose-fitting top; wide V-neckline, kimono sleeves with fold-back facings, the body of the top falling softly from shoulder pleats, interesting geometric seaming on the front creating a nice textural feature.
Pattern Sizing:
6-12, I made a straight 10 (Later edit in response to a comment: this is my usual choice, and I would say the sizing runs true to other Vogue patterns I have made up.  It is supposed to be a loose-fitting top!)
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you had finished  sewing it?
Were the instructions easy to follow?
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I really like the very loose and unstructured shape of this top, and the fact that it will be delightfully floaty and cool for our scorching summers.  It's pretty easy to make up.  And one just slips it on over one's head with no closure, making it soft and simple to wear.   The interesting reverse-situation of the bust darts and the convergent seams at the centre front are nice subtle design features, and best showcased in a plain solid-coloured fabric imo.
And since I did choose a plain solid-coloured fabric with no nap this also meant I could lay the pattern pieces down either side up, allowing a far more efficient pattern layout and leaving myself with plenty of leftovers!
Fabric Used:
Lightweight shot cotton
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
No alterations.  I added lingerie holders at the shoulder seams; that very wide neckline means strap exposure would be a given otherwise!
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I will like to sew this again  (I always say this and then it could be years before I do! however I would like a few more of these in my wardrobe, if not right this minute then certainly in another colour in another season.  
My only advice is that if you are going down the path of French seams throughout as recommended in the pattern, then a thin and lightweight fabric is essential; all those French seams converging together are quite bulky on the inside, and would be difficult to get nice and neat in anything thick.  Of course you could always leave off the French seam finish on that horizontal central seam if your fabric was not co-operating...
Would I recommend this to others? yes!
I love it!  The design of this top strikes me as very fashion-forward.  Something about the spare minimalism of the silhouette, the sharp lines of that geometric seaming, the beautifully drape-y kimono shape.  I could imagine this particular top design on a high fashion catwalk.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Coming to my senses...

Employing that pleasing dichotomy of minimal with steam-punk in my outfit today... yeah?  
Is good stuff.
Now, I've had a re-think.  And thank you all for helping me to come to my senses!  I did feel a little out of my comfort zone after posting yesterday, and after sleeping on it I felt even worse about it ...
The specific cost of my personal things is, I have decided, personal.  It feels very uncomfortable for me to be publicising it.  That's just the way I was brought up, so I'm not going to excuse that.  
Even amongst my closest friends I would not dream of announcing how much an outfit cost.  That would be like extreme bad manners... so why did I think I would be OK with doing the same on the blinking internet?? (face palm)
Besides, the numbers I put down here are meaningless to most people who might even read my blog, apart from other Australians.  And only fellow Perthies will understand about the fabric and yarn limitations here...  And I do not want to attract judgement, condemnation or pity from the inevitable comparisons, which I would certainly do if I really started publicising how much things actually cost here... so I will be keeping tabs on my clothing creations this year, in exactly the guidelines I laid down yesterday, but I will probably be keeping the figures to myself.
Unless I change my mind again  :)  
A woman's prerogative, you know.... ;)

Top; top "b" from Unique Clothes Any Way You Like by Natsuno Hiraiwa, white cotton, details here
Skirt; Vogue 7303, ivory wool-mix suiting
Sandals; Micam by Joanne Mercer; from Hobbs shoes

Necklace; urbandon , here
Isn't this the coolest thing?!  My new favourite accessory...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Crunching the Numbers...

I've been pretty inspired by reading some posts by other bloggers on the sum total of their clothing expenditure; particularly Waves with her very interesting breakdown of her clothing costs for 2011 and her feelings and thoughts on the same, and Terri with her plans to stick to a set budget for 2012 and the documentation of such in her blog, and Veronica with her strict accounting during her very impressive Sew Weekly year of 2011.... and I have decided to put my own expenditure under the microscope.  
A self-audit.  Yikes!  Nail-biting stuff, no?!
When Craig and I were first married we were frantically saving and had a very strict control on our costs; I totted up all our incomings and outgoings constantly and stuck to a budget  rigidly....  but all that is in the past now!  I haven't had to add up each and every cent for a few years, and although I don't think I spend a lot I really have no idea unless I actually do account for myself... and so...
I am going to keep tabs on all the costs of my clothing creations for this year.
Now someone accounting for a RTW wardrobe has it pretty cut and dried, as your clothing just comes with a price tag attached and bob's your uncle...  when you are making your own stuff things get a bit more complex...  so I've jotted down here a few basic guidelines as to just how I'm breaking it down...

Time frame:  I am going to start my accounting from the 1st January to include all the clothes that I finish making in 2012.  
Fabrics costs: I'm counting all the materials for all garments made this year.  If I don't have the receipt for the fabric anymore and can't remember what it might have cost (some of my fabrics are years old!!) then I shall make my best guestimate.  If the fabric was a gift, I'll state that, and count it as free.
I shall not include fabrics bought this year unless I also finish the garment this year.  No really, this makes sense.  It does!  I'm costing my actual clothing here you see, not potential clothing...  
Also, the first time I make something out of a piece of fabric I shall include the cost of the entire piece in that garment, and any leftovers used down the track will be considered as already accounted for.
Pattern costs: I shall include the cost of the pattern I use; but only the first time I use it.  That is, the full cost of a new pattern will be included in the cost of a garment the first time I use it, but each subsequent time I use the same pattern I shall consider that pattern already accounted for and not include its cost again.
Likewise, for haberdashery: the first time I commence using "something", I shall include the cost of the entire"something" in the cost of that garment, but not for any subsequent garments.  So, say, the first time I pop a new reel of thread on the machine I shall count the cost of the entire reel in the cost of that garment, but not for any garments after that until it is finished.  Likewise dyes and other sundry bits and pieces... 

Does all that make sense?  I realise some of those rules might seem a bit odd and are going to seemingly inflate the cost of some garments at the expense of others that will appear artificially inexpensive, but that is the simplest way I could think of doing it...

And please note...!  I'm not planning to change my habits at this stage, but merely account for them...  This is not an exercise to see how cheaply I can possibly make everything!  (Cheap?  moi??)  There will still be plenty of silk and lace popping up here... (sigh) well, let's just say I would like for that to happen!...  I still passionately love beautiful fabrics and yarns, and interesting designer patterns, and I'm not going to deprive myself!  I believe my time and effort is worth good quality supplies, and my aim all along in making my own wardrobe has always been to make it the best I can.  Still being fabric efficient, naturally.  I really just want to see how I am going, cost-wise.  So, I will continue to source fabrics and yarns to meet my standards of ethics; supporting my local fabric store as much as I can; and buying fabrics and yarns from countries that have ethical manufacturing practices.

But in the meantime; here is a breakdown of my costs in adding to my wardrobe this year, so far...
The Double-Sleeved shirt:
Fabric $34.60 (includes portion of the shipping cost)
Sleeves; from an op shop shirt; probably cost around $3??
Pattern; been used a whole bunch of times! so free
Buttons; $5.20
Thread; $3.20
Total cost: $46.00
The Calico Cotton cardigan:
Yarn; $80.55
Pattern; $5.95
Buttons; $6.05
Total cost: $92.55
The Sorta Missoni dress:
Fabric; a gift from the lovely Passiona Cottee
Bodice; leftover scraps
Pattern; been used stacks of times, so free
Zip; $2.20
Total cost: $2.20
The Blue-Collar Crime top
Fabrics; leftovers
Pattern; the third time it's been used
Snaps; part of a box of 50 that I bought last year for the boys' birthday coats, still going strong... so I'm counting that as free too
Total cost; free!!

Shirt and skirt; refashioned from 3 of Craig's old business shirts (so if I was costing this, it would be a freebie!), details here
Shoes; Bronx, from Zomp shoes
Reading specs; a permanent new addition to the wardrobe (sigh...)
and btw, Bessie is wearing a sneaky peak of my next creation... you saw it here first!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hot pink shorts; 6 different ways

So, shorts, and particularly linen shorts are always going to be a warm weather thing and perhaps not an obvious candidate for "see how useful this item of clothing is!"....  But I am an Aussie after all, and typically lead a very relaxed and outdoorsy lifestyle that means shorts are an essential part of my wardrobe for just about half the year  (I wouldn't choose to wear shorts in winter personally, although I've seen a few magazines trying to sell the idea of shorts-with-tights look; that's just not for me, sorry...)  
And I do like to use these 6 different ways posts to showcase garments that have proven themselves runaway useful little wardrobe builders, and that I have grabbed and put on regularly, and have enjoyed wearing.  And these shorts that I made using Burda 7723 are sure fitting into this category.  
So here are just a selection of the daily outfits that I have worn including my pink shorts lately, each photo taken on each of the days that I wore them... and I've given a few thoughts on my styling choice and how I felt wearing each of these outfits on the day...
At left; I just wanted to try this one because this is the jacket designed to match these shorts in the very same pattern.  I felt a little oddly formal wearing this out and about, although I absolutely loved these colours together (reminded me of Frenchy's fab outfit with the pink hair in Beauty School Dropout, Grease)  But maybe jacket-and-shorts together is not strictly "me"?  At right; with a chambray shirt, sleeves casually rolled up?  Definitely "me"!  A gardening and sewing day, bliss.
At left; felt quite fashion-y and rather dressed up in this outfit, even though it is actually just a linen shirt buttoned up and tucked in... I received a few compliments!  Worn out meeting up with some gal pals... At right; with my little white linen Pattern magic top.  Wore this out and about, walking the dog and running errands, and it felt like a perfect match.  Will wear this one over and over again...
At left; with a little coffee-coloured, triple-collared shirt, and a light cardi (to avoid sunburn)  I thought this cardigan would be a good colour match but was interested that it made my shorts look purple!   Loved wearing this, it was a great outfit for a cooler day, and I do prefer a cardi-with-shorts look...  At right; with a pale chartreuse loose linen top and matching scarf.  I really like the colour wheel opposites here, and the fact that the greens are so pale against the vividness of that pink peeking out underneath. And that it's so comfy and cool...
I've been pleasantly surprised at how this rather in-your-face, look-at-me colour has settled happily into my almost pink-less wardrobe, and how much I have enjoyed them... years of avoiding hot pink because of some misguided fear that it would mark me as "not serious";  I think I've relaxed a bit!  So, which one of these outfits would be the most "you", do you think?  
(And fyi, the outfit I am wearing today is the last one with the pale chartreuse top and scarf.)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Blue-collar crime

The charge; gratuitously making for myself the same shirt, a second time. Namely the Vogue 1248 triple collared shirt.  Well, how many collars does a girl really need?? (tsk tsk)
No plea entered, as the defendant is so clearly guilty as charged.
Sentenced; to wear it during a humid 37C day and attempt to look cool, calm and collected for a picture.
Verdict for that one; hmmm...  what do you think?
OK, I've made another loose 'n light little triple collared shirt.  Again??  And so soon after the last effort?  I seeeee.   Shouldn't you be starting on some of those (ahem) piles of other new patterns, awaiting your attention?
Well those three collars were just begging to be constructed in three different colours, no?  I was simply itching to give it a try... and after all that Christmas shirt-making I had just the right selection of leftover scraps to piece together what I envisioned would be a kinda cool look.  Not just tri-coloured collars, but a tri-colour shirt, like allover...
I really like this sort of patched look.  The blocks of various blues together reminds me of those refashioned denim jeans garments that you see; made of cutting up and re-patching together old blue denim jeans to give a mixed up patchwork of varying shades of indigo.   It also reminds me a little of another look I admired in Celine pre-fall 2011, below.  Still going with that refashioned denim jeans vibe;  I've topstitched all the seams in orange.
The shirt is all shot cotton, bought here.  The left front and right back are Sky, the leftovers from this shirt, and the darker blue sections are True Cobalt, the leftovers from this shirt.  The right front and left back are of a very pale blue named Ice; and technically speaking this might not qualify as a leftover scrap.  I bought this about two years ago with the original intention of making another shirt for Craig, but the very pale baby-blue colour did not find favour... so I have gradually been using it up bit by bit for facing, pocket and lining purposes in other projects, but so far it has not been used in any publicly viewed part of a garment!  I managed to cut the pieces for this shirt out of what is left after all that nibbling.  So, does that make it a leftover, or not??
This cotton is thicker and more robust than the thin voile I used for my first cafe latte version of this shirt pattern, so the collars do not sit as flat together.  But on the other hand, the snaps on those buttonbands feel a lot more secure, and less likely to rip the fabric.  Speaking of the buttonbands; I wanted the third blue fabric to feature here, so the four of them have been constructed as separate wraparound bands that sit up over the body of the shirt.  That took a bit of extra fiddling and measuring, but nothing drastically difficult.
(below right; from Celine pre-fall 2011, source)
All the seaming in the body of the shirt is flat-felled, and the raw edges of the armhole facings have HongKong finishing, using bias strips cut from the Ice shot cotton.

Shirt; Vogue 1248, different shades of shot cotton, in Ice, Sky and True Cobalt, my review of this pattern here
Skirt; Vogue 1248, cotton voile, my review of this pattern here
Thongs; ??  crappy blue and white rubber things nicked from my son's wardrobe.  I think he must have grown out of these years ago...