Monday, April 30, 2012

Delightfully tacky

I like the clashiness here.  A reminder that nature can beautify anything...  The rose is a late autumnal bloomer from my garden; some litterbug chucked the Coke can onto our verge and in the act of picking it up to toss into the recycling bin I suddenly saw artistic possibilities.  We don't actually drink the stuff ourselves  :P
And below; quinces from my parents' garden.  
That classy platter is actually an old fan guard/cover that I picked up off a neighbour's verge in a council toss-out.  Pretty cool, huh?  Fair dinkum, best neighbourhood recycling scheme ever conceived!

So next, I am participating in me-made May, and we are travelling later in the month.  
Now I've had some thoughts about blogging during me-made May; and I would welcome your feedback, please!  In the past, I have posted an daily outfit picture, and blogged a few thoughts each day.  I find this an easier way for me to keep motivated and keep going with it.
But I have read quite a lot of negative feedback on other blogs about the apparent boredom of "having" to look at people's daily outfits; and if the blogger is participating themselves, lots of apologising about the "posting overload", whatever that means.  I'm bemused by this; since the feedback on the me-made flickr group is always the polar opposite; that people really do like having a bit of a squizzy at everyone else's daily outfits.   I know I enjoy sneaky-peeking into other peoples self-stitched closets and sharing a bit in everyone's daily lives, too!
So please tell me, what are your thoughts?  Do you tune out during the me-made months, or do you, like me, enjoy a daily sticky-beak at all the self-stitched goodness?
A lot of participants are talking about how they are going to up the ante this time.  I am opting to go ALL me-made, and mix-it up with a different outfit for each day like I always have for these challenges, and truthfully I don't think I can up the ante more than that!  So I will try to aim higher with my photography, and do my best to capture beautiful and/or interesting images each day.  Sound fair?  :)
I am pretty up-to-date with posting my recent creations, with only one new thing up my sleeve, yet to be photographed.  It has been a very productive month for me  :D  but this is going to be offset next month when we go away.  So, although there will not be stacks of new things over the next six weeks, I am hoping to post some lovely scenery on my blog here, along with my hopefully groovy-doovy outfits.
And I am sure going to try my best to keep it up during our travelling schedule, later next month.

And after all that, an addendum; the abysmally astronomical additions for April...

Ivory Trench Coat
Outer fabric; a gift from my friend C, from her late mother's stash
Facing fabric; $14.81
Lining fabric; $21.43
Pattern; McCalls 5525, used before
Buttons; $4.20
Total cost; $30.44
Curtain skirt
Outer fabric; a gift from my friend C, from her late mother's stash
Lining; leftover from the trench coat above
Zip; $2.20
Pattern; Vogue 1247, used before
Hook and eye; bought a new packet of 3 for $3.45
Total cost; $5.65
Leatherette skirt
Fabric; $57.98
Lining; $6.99
Zip; $1.42
Pattern; Vogue 1170, used before
Started one new overlocker thread; $1.00
Total cost; $67.39
Clipped Wings, a top
Fabric; I'm not sure since I bought this last year, guestimating $20
Pattern; drafted from Pattern Magic 3, which I have used before
Total cost; $20
Sapote cotton cardigan
Yarn; $62.70 (bought during the 30% off sale, yay!)
Pattern; used before
Buttons; $5.40
Total cost; $68.10
Gingham PJ's
Fabric; $17.45
Elastic; 1.05
Buttons; leftover from another project
Total cost; $18.50
Ultramine corduroy skirt
Fabric; $7.01
Lining; $4.19
Zip; 0.99
Pattern; Vogue 1170, used before
Thread; $3.20
Started one new overlocker thread; $1.00
Buttons; from stash
Total cost; $16.39
Strawberry Pink jeans
Fabric; $13.21
Zip; $1.99
Facing fabric; recycled old PJ's
Jeans button; from stash
Total cost; $15.20

The running total for the first third of the year; $633.04

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Strawberry pink jeans

I have made some new jeans!  Au Bonheur des Petites Mains PLH08002: Pantalon droit avec decoupes.  (my less than perfect translation: trousers right with slices?, hehe)
Now; to say I am grateful to shams for helping me to obtain this awesomely cool jeans pattern is an understatement; I will be forever.  Eternally.  Grateful!  This is a reeeally good pattern, and is destined to become my go-to pattern for non-stretchy denim jeans.
The pattern has a few quirky and unusual styling details, which I love, and which add a very unique flavour to the jeans, but the long-term value of this pattern for me is that the jeans fit beee-autifully!  If I tried these on in a store I would be slapping down the plastic due purely to the classic perfection of the fit alone.  In a pair of jeans this is a massive massive plus; I cannot stress this sincerely enough.  What is more; even though the styling is quite unique and eye-catching the pattern can also be easily adapted to make a more conventional pair if jeans if one desires just one quirky pair in one's collection.
I used non-stretchy thick-ish cotton denim from Spotlight in a cheerful shade of strawberry pink, which has white undertones in the drill weave.  Thus my selection of white thread for all the top-stitching details.  I elected to have just a single row of top-stitching throughout, and I left off some of the top-stitching details suggested in the pattern.  I highly recommend you also check out and admire shams' awesome variations on this pattern; here and here and here.
For the waistband facing and the pocket facing I used a pink print cotton, that was formerly a pair of old pj bottoms.  I cut a separate pocket facing, rather than have the pocket bag stitched directly onto the jeans front, because I had decided I wanted the front of my jeans "bare-r" with less top-stitching detailing, but obviously I was not going to forgo having those awesome pockets!
Shams elected in her second and third pairs of these jeans to put in a slanted high hip pocket because of "pooching" of the pocket opening; I decided to go ahead and make the pocket as per the pattern in this my first go at it, and see how it went.  Y'know what? it does bulge out a bit, but not enough to worry me so I'm OK with it.  The best thing about the location of the pocket is that they are perfectly situated to make slouching around with one's hands shoved deep in one's pockets very very easy.  I am pretty partial to mooching about with my hands in my pockets, so yeah  :)  The slanted high-hip pocket location that one sees in regular jeans is not hands-in-pocket friendly, imo.  A feature that is fairly high on my personal list of criteria for garment satisfaction.
hands-in-pockets, for the win
I added a zip placket, and used a red jeans zip from Spotlight.  Functionally, this was a fairly hideous zip that required copious anointing with household oil to make it zip up and down smoothly!  Inserting the jeans zip with that zig-zag front seam to look acceptably centred and evenly spaced across the front fly and with the top-stitching on each side lining up was interesting.  I spent quite a bit of time on this, and re-inserted that zip twice before I was satisfied.
I left off the pocket flaps on the rear patch pockets, and after eyeballing the placement of those cute darted patch pockets decided to situate them on opposite butt cheeks than how they had been illustrated in the pattern.  I don't know if this is visually more slimming or not, methinks this could be merely a self-delusion  :)
I did not taper the lower leg pieces, but cut the side edges straight to get more of a cargo/bootleg silhouette, which I think suits my figure.  Also, The back lower leg pieces were cut, pieced and top-stitched near the lower hem.  No, that was not because I did not have enough length, I did this on purpose.  I liked it this way  :) 
da knees...
I added quite a bit of length to the lower leg piece, a standard precaution for me when cutting out.  I'm wearing them with flatties here but I like the option of wearing heels if I want.... also, I am on the tall side.  However, this is where I came a bit of a cropper, and I cannot believe I did not foresee a now  blindingly obvious beginner's trap: of course I should have added some length to that upper leg piece, as well as to the lower leg piece!  Doh!  The upper leg piece turned out to be on the short side and so the knee piece is situated rather weirdly high on my leg...  I'm pretty cross with myself about this, I've become so blase about adding length I stupidly did not think it through and break it down into the individual pattern components, like I darn well should have.  Lesson learned.  One is never incapable of making a fundamental boo-boo with a new design.
(but check out those mad arrow-adding skillz ... howzat, huh?!  :) )
But I am not going to beat myself up over it, and certainly this little detail is not going to stop me from wearing the heck out of my fab new jeans.  Look at that yummy colour!  Plus, I decided after looking at these pics that the high-ish knee patch is not hugely obvious nor detrimental to the overall appearance.

Jeans; Au Bonheur des Petites Mains PLH08002, strawberry pink non-stretch cotton denim
Top; drafted from the Japanese pattern book Pattern Magic by Tomoko Nakamichi, white linen, details here
Thongs; KMart
Pattern Description:
Jeans, with funky unique seaming, topstitching and styling details
Pattern Sizing:
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you had finished sewing it?
Pretty much. I made a few minor modifications
Were the instructions easy to follow?
They were in French. After applying google translate, which substitutes interesting English alternatives to what are probably commonly used sewing terms in France; much hilarity ensued!
Seriously though, the instructions assume the seamster has made jeans before and has a pretty good general knowledge of sewing already, so do not go into details... they are really pretty scant. So I ended up not using them; just piecing together in the same order of construction I have always made jeans.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? 
The fit is perfection. I love love love the funky styling and the interesting seaming. If I did want to make up an "ordinary" pair of jeans it will be easy to adapt this pattern, with its great fit, to a more conventional style.
The side pockets on the hip are my favourite in jeans so far, since they enable one to mooch about with the hands shoved down deep in the pockets. Aah, sheer heaven.
There is nothing I do not like about this pattern.
Fabric Used:
thickish cotton denim
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
Cut the lower legs straight down rather than tapered to get more of a cargo silhouette, since I think this suits my figure better.
Sewed the pockets as a bag with a lightweight cotton facing, so it is not attached to the jeans front with topstitching as per the pattern.
Left off the rear pocket flaps, and some of the top-stitching details, although I will definitely use the suggested top-stitching as a feature in a future pair.
Cut the lower legs longer, but next time I will add length to the upper legs as well, since the legs are of three pieces. The knee piece ended up a little high on my leg :S
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I definitely will be using this pattern again; it is destined to become my go-to pattern for non-stretch denim jeans.
I adore these jeans! and will be wearing them to the ground. 
A very big thank you to shams! for her help, and for her never-ending inspiration!

A good hair day

A very special and super fantastic night; we went to the Amanda Young Foundation Ball.  I wore my Grecian-style ballgown, made in 2004.  An oldie now but still a goodie.  I had my hair put up professionally, which always makes me feel super glamorous!
Now please excuse my lack of loquaciousness, Cinderella is off to bed before she turns into a pumpkin....

Ballgown; Vogue 2480, sage green and oyster white satin, details here
Sandals; Sachi, bought from some little boutique in Melbourne
Earrings; Sophie Kyron

Friday, April 27, 2012

Mum's silk kimono

With thoughts of self-stitched sleepwear ricochetting about my recent consciousness like a pingpong ball being batted about by a playful pussycat... as well as unique and beautifully artistic garments that delight and inspire us creative types....
This is a silk kimono made by my mother.  Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while might remember that my mother is highly accomplished at all forms of textile art and has made many many beautiful works of wearable art.  Her creations are truly something to aspire to!

This kimono has been hand-dyed! hand-woven! AND hand-stitched!  All by my talented Mum. 
Mum hand-dyed the skeins of ivory silk for the warp of the cloth in the ikat technique, in a divinely subtle rainbow of shades.  She then wove the silk on her loom, and then made the kimono from the resulting fabric.
Isn't it utterly beautiful?
The kimono was made in 1984.  I do have nebulous memories of its creation in our laundry, even now I can remember it as a labour of love, a project in which Mum aimed high and effortlessly achieved a remarkable outcome that still inspires my awe and admiration  :)

Mum does still wear it, but since it is not so much a throw-on thing so much as it is a unique work of art it has been well looked after and is of course in immaculate condition.  However, she did not wish to model it for my blog, so Cassie has stepped in.  But I can assure you that she looks just as beautiful wearing it as Cassie does here!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yoshiki Hishinuma top; more details... response to comments, and thank you for your interest!
Barbara wished to see the Yoshiki Hishinuma top on, so here it is.  It doesn't really go perfectly with this skirt .. back in the day when I used to wear it regularly I had a sorta funky, long-ish, deep-grey patchwork skirt that suited it to a T! but I do not have that skirt any more  :(  Anyhow, the shirt is now so fragile; even wearing it for the short while in which I took this photo more little flakes of the paint detached themselves and appeared on my skirt and on the floor, so this will have to be its last outing!
Beryl expressed an interest in seeing the inside of the shirt; so here it is.  There's not much to see on the inside, actually... the outside is the interesting bit  Basically it looks like an un-ironed shirt!
If I ever get around to having a go at reproducing this garment painting technique I will be sure to take a few pics.
A few wondered how the fabric feels to the touch; the chiffon is very slightly on the thick and stiff side.  It is 100% polyester, and the heat treatment applied to obtain pleating has most likely denatured the fibre and taken away some of the natural floatiness usually associated with chiffon.  The painted sections are stiffer, natch.

And in response to some recent comments about my photos:
Jen S wondered who do I get to do my photo shoots; no one!  Unless stated otherwise all the photos on my blog here are taken by me; the ones of me wearing my creations are taken using a tripod and a remote control. 
Andrea commented, "What would the neighbours think (about your blog photos)?" well the answer is that my neighbours do not see that I go around taking my own photo...  I plan to keep it that way!  I am really very shy, and I wouldn't dream of even taking out my camera if there was somebody around watching.  I generally find a secluded spot or as close to deserted as possible, and set up out of anyone's sight.  If another person pops into view I sit quietly fiddling with my camera and wait until I'm alone again.  There have been only a couple of occasions during the last two years in which I have been approached; generally older men who are keen on photography and want to check out my camera and talk "shop".  I am always polite; I pretended to be experimenting with how to use my camera, taking photos of the view or something, but I'm secretly relieved when they walk on and I can get back to my slightly embarrassing hobby of taking photos of myself out in the big wide world...  ;)   
I read a really good line on a fashion blog once about what to say if you are challenged taking photos of yourself; "I'm doing an assignment".  Sadly I think I'm too old to get away with that one!  But "learning how to use my camera" works pretty good.  And happens to be true as well.... I am still learning how to use my camera!

Top; Yoshiki Hishinuma, polyester chiffon painted with acrylic paint, bought second hand
Skirt; Vogue 1170, PU laminate, details and my review of this pattern here
Sandals; akiel, from an op shop

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Inspirational piece by Yoshiki Hishinuma

Hey peeps!
Today I thought I would hit y'all up with some fabbo inspiration type stuff, like yo.  
I mentioned cleaning out the wardrobe recently... I have a few garments hanging in my wardrobe that have been there for years, that will never be tossed out even though I don't wear them anymore; for a number of random reasons.  Including stuff that is amazing and/or inspiring to me in some artistic or sartorially interesting way.
This Yoshiki Hishinuma blouse falls into that category.
It is a deep grey/taupe, polyester chiffon blouse; that has been heat set into randomly spaced, slightly wavey, deep permanent pleats, laid flat with the pleated folds in place, and then rollered over with some sort of stiff plastic creamy-yellow paint.  When one wears it, the pleats open, revealing the unpainted grey chiffon sections ... It must have been constructed completely right up until sewing on the buttons stage before "painting", since the buttonholes are painted over also.  The buttons themselves are of nacre, sewn on with the rough side facing out and the polished bit underneath.
I bought it in a second hand shop about 7 years ago, and it was already a wee bit damaged then.  But I loved it so much, so I still wore it carefully for a further year before it deteriorated even more and then I stopped wearing it because I was worried about ruining it completely.  Particularly, the paint in the underarm area was very vulnerable to wear.  
I have kept the blouse because it is utterly unique and beautiful, and I have often thought about reproducing the concept myself.
On the back; one can just see the faint embossed shadow of the front collar points in the paint.
It is made in Japan; of course.. in my opinion arguably the most inspiring sartorial country on the planet, and interested fellow aspiring creative-clothing devotees can read more about the designer here and view some others of his pieces here

Monday, April 23, 2012

On matters of the feet...

I went out shopping with my good friend J on the weekend, and ... well, a picture is worth a thousand words.... no?
In which case two pictures must be worth two thousand words...
Tres awesome, yes?  Now I am really looking forward to winter!
In the meantime; I am currently digging weird and ugly colours for the toenails.  Oh, did somebody say what's new?!
I got this fantastic murky olive shade by mixing three colours; gold, mint green and black.  I think it is perfect for autumn!
That reminds me of a funny little anecdote from my teenage years; a friend was talking about how C, (a boy in our class at school) had "the most awful colour eyes, like a murky horrible greeny brown colour, like a swamp, a really really yukky colour..." she stopped suddenly, leaning in closer to me, then "Hey, your eyes are exactly the same colour!"  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ultramarine corduroy skirt

Remember in my review of the Vogue 1170 skirt I mentioned I had already made a second version?  Well I finally got my act together and took some photos...
This ultramarine cotton corduroy caught my eye; (hardly surprising really  ;) ) and I just grabbed the bolt on a whim during Spotlight's 40% off sale.  I had a sudden urge to add a touch more blue to my life.  Part of my on-going campaign to maintain some colour in my wardrobe.  I cleaned out and re-assessed my wardrobe recently and realised I still didn't have very many fun and colourful options there.  I also realised I didn't have as many "bottoms" as I thought too, thus the appearance on my blog here of a little flock of new skirts recently.  
And, speaking of colour; just wait 'til you see my new jeans too... hola!!   I'm dying to show them off here ... soon... ;)
I made my skirt with a few minor adjustments to the pattern; I added lining, using the spliced pieces of Vogue 1247 as my pattern.   (I bought the acetate lining from Fabulous Fabrics, since the lining fabrics in Spotlight are the most hideous on the face of this earth....)
I overlocked all the raw edges inside; didn't go with the HongKong seaming this time because of the lining.  Plus it is just corduroy...
My pockets are approx 5cm deeper (each pocket piece cut approx 10cm longer).  I added 10cm in length to the lower skirt pieces, as I did on my first version.  Can you imagine how short this skirt would be without that extra length?  Yowza!!
As stipulated in the pattern, I hemmed the lower edge with a facing.  Since I had added 10cm in length to the skirt pieces, this made my facing pieces different from the pattern, but it was a simple process to use my new longer skirt pieces as the template for the facing.  I managed to cut the facing out of the leftovers from the shirt I made for Craig here; a perfect colour match! and just saying; it took some cutting and piecing magic to get those facing pieces cut out all along the correct grain from my scraps...!  I was chuffed that I got it out successfully!
The shaped facing method is a nice way to hem a long curved hemline; one that I have used a few times before off my own bat, but this is the first time I have seen for it to be a recommended method of hemming in a commercial pattern, with a pattern piece provided and all.  This is something I really like about the Vogue designer patterns; they often come with those nice little extra finishing touches to push you in the right direction; methods which are not the fast and simple methods that we have become accustomed to from modern commercial patterns.  Sometimes I wonder if the big pattern companies "dumb it down" for the home seamster; assuming he/she is not capable or willing to go the extra mile for those professional finishes, that interesting seaming, or an otherwise complex garment.  Vogue designer patterns are rarely guilty of flipping out quick, slap-it-together, do-it-the-easy-way patterns, and for that I loooove them!
(Please don't think me elitist here; I like the quick-and-easy patterns for basics too; but it is nice to have the option, y'know?  )
And; of course this is not what I am actually wearing today, not the heels nor the gloves!, but I just wanted to have a bit of fun with my photos.  You just have to mentally add the red carpet, the velvet ropes, the minder and the little dog in a bag.  I briefly considered having an actual dog but the reality is that she is way too big and hairy for any of my bags...  :D
This is one of those times when taking one's own photo turns out to be very useful... looking at this one above is when I noticed that that hem at the centre back seam inexplicably dipped in situ, something that was not apparent looking at it flat.  I've fixed this problem now, but didn't bother with setting up for a new photo... :D
The lovely stamped pewter buttons were kept from off an old shirt.

Conclusion; a casual version of this interesting skirt pattern, and a fun and colourful addition to my wardrobe!
LATER EDIT: got bored with the ultramarine colour and dyed it, this skirt now looks like this

Skirt; Vogue 1170 with minor modifications, ultramarine cotton corduroy, my review of this pattern here
Top; top "a" from the Japanese pattern book Unique Clothes Any Way You Like by Natsuno Hiraiwa, white cotton, details here
Shoes; Raymond Castles, had for yonks, nearly 30 years
Gloves; Vogue 7949, red cotton jersey, details and my review of this pattern here