Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bared ankles and showcased shoes

O hey peeps!
Today I am sporting new capri trousers, and a pair of new ballet flats!  This may not seem a particularly momentous thing to announce, but aack-choolly... I am recklessly smashing through two new-to-me fashion ceilings in one fell swoop!  
I used to worry that I was too tall and not cute enough for the capris/ballet flats look.  But y'know what?  I'm kinda newly loving this look quite a lot lately...
My capris are made using Vogue 1115, and the fabric is a pale sand-coloured stretch sateen remnant from the Alannah Hill fabric outlet in Melbourne, bought during a visit two years ago....  hmmm, high time it was made into something, non?  Well, I think this fabric was just waiting for this very pattern, like Cinderella waiting for Prince Charming.  Or was it that she was waiting for the glass slipper?  Hmmm, not sure the analogy is holding itself together there...  anyhow, the remnant happened to be exactly the right size to just perfectly fit the pattern pieces.  And they all lived happily ever after  ;)
I love the top stitching details, with the little bar tacks.
I chose this Chado Ralph Rucci pattern partly because it is rated Advanced/Plus Difficile, and I just love trying out challenging patterns.  However, a seamster of only a few years experience should not be put off by the Advanced rating; it only takes one quick scan of the pattern sheet to realise that this only applies to the matching top .... the pants could hardly be simpler!  Particularly if one chooses to leave off the full lining.  I live in Australia.  It gets hot here.  One chooses.  :)
The only other change I made was to cut the legs pieces longer, to enable me to fold up a deeper hem and so therefore to sew the side seam slits to be longer.  I really like the look of the hem slits, I think they are really cute and I wanted them to stand out!
I might be a teeny bit disappointed that the pattern posed no challenges, but I am not disappointed with my new capris.  According to the fashion mags, trousers this season are falling neatly into two distinctive silhouettes; either over-long and flared 70's style (tick!) or with higher hemlines to expose a slim ankle a la Audrey Hepburn.  Tick!  And a nice thing about capris is that the higher hemline beautifully showcases the shoes.  Like these lovely colourful little ballet flats from Misano.  
These are soooo ultra cute, yes!?

Capris; Vogue 1115 with the lining left off; sand-coloured stretch sateen
Shirt; my own design, made from an old pair of white linen pants, details here
Scarf; knotted strips of jersey, first shown here
Shoes; a gift from Misano

Following is my review of the pattern, if you're interested  :)

Pattern Description:
Lined, tapered above ankle-length pants, have seam details, side slits, zipper and back yoke.
Pattern Sizing:
American sizes 6-12; mine are a size 10
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you had finished sewing it?
Were the instructions easy to follow?
Very easy!
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
There is nothing not to like!  I love absolutely everything about these pants…  I really like the curved seamlines down each leg, and the double topstitching detail with a little bar tack.  I adore the hemline side seam slits.  Subtle, classy and cute!
One of the reasons I chose the pattern is because it is an advanced/plus difficile pattern, and I love challenging patterns.  However that rating must only apply to the matching top, because the pants are super easy!
Fabric Used:
Stretchy sateen
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I left off the lining because the climate I live in is not conducive to lined pants!
I cut the trouser legs a little longer so I could fold a deeper hem and therefore sew the side slits to be longer, because I really liked this feature and wanted them to stand out more.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Without a doubt; and highly!  I am looking forward to sewing up the top sometime too.
A very nice pattern; easy, with classic lines and a very current silhouette.  I am very happy with my new capris.  Seriously, I cannot believe now it has taken me this long to hop onto to the capri bandwagon…

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blooming lovely

Thank you so much for all the gorgeous birthday wishes!
I was very spoilt, and I would love to share the beauty of my birthday bouquet with you.  Please enjoy!
I wish I could share my birthday cake too, made by Cassie.  It was quaite delicious  ;)

Monday, September 24, 2012


Hmmm.  It's my birthday.
Yes.  Well.  I'm too shy to go into sordid details, like giving an actual number or any nonsense like that.  OK, so maybe I just don't feel like it.  But here is a hint; one of my favourite bloggers Yoshimi, and I share the same birth year.  So if you are familiar with Yoshimi, then you know!
Whoo; I haven't done a random daily outfit picture for a while, so I thought what the hey.  I must be missing those me-made months...   on which note, it's occurred to me that if there is ever another one, then I will be able to go into it having made my entire wardrobe, including all the underpinnings!  (nerdy woot)
ahh, the small things that amuse small minds....  :D
Walking along the beach with my dog is always high up on my list of favourite daily activities, on my birthday as well as any other day!  I'm also looking forward to being showered with gifts spending quality time with my family, hehe.  Tea, and quite possibly cake, will be consumed sometime during the day with my girl friends too.
Naturally, I must wear something fab.
Tootles, friends!

Dress; Vogue 1355, polyester chiffon lined with cotton voile, details here

Friday, September 21, 2012

Wedgwood blue damask, with brass zips

A new dressy-wess!  This is dress 109 from the Burdastyle magazine issue 09/2008, part of the Pattern Pyramid spoils that I had my clutches on for One Glorious Week!  I did manage to trace off a couple more of the treasures within (hehehe) before sending it off on its way to gladden the hearts of new and eager seamsters….
Brocades and damasks rich in surface texture have been popping up on the runways; and exposed zips have been hot hot hot for a few years now… so my new dress is fabulously current, ticking two trend boxes in one neat little package.  Trendiness doesn’t usually power my wardrobe choices, I tend to do my own thing….  but it does feel nice to have something that is the dernier cri every so often, oui?  Oh oui!
above: at left, glossy gold damask at Marchesa; at right; Balmain damask jacket and shirt,  heavily textured Azzedine Alaia skirt.  both pictures from Vogue Australia magazine

The damask from Fabulous Fabrics was a gift to me from Sam, for last Christmas.  The delicate lace-like figuring against a rather divine background of pale Wedgwood blue whispers “luxury” to me; bringing to my mind the type of expensive upholstery that would fit right into a chic Parisian salon.  I think it contrasts beautifully against the slightly industrial feel of the heavy brass zips that I used for the pockets and the front opening.  Shimmering luxury and tarnished toughness: together in one dress.  I love the clash.
The dress is completely lined with coffee-coloured polyacetate lining also from Fabulous Fabrics, and I bought the heavy-duty brass zips in Spotlight, of lengths reasonably close enough to those stipulated in the pattern.  Initially I was disappointed I could not find zips with pale blue tape to match the colour of the fabric more closely, but in Perth you take what you can get, haberdashery wise.  I counted myself super lucky to find four matching ones! And I came to like the white; how it holds its own; clean and fresh against the delicacy of the blue and the gleam of the brass. 
The three pocket zips are all jeans zips, and a touch longer than called for in the pattern, dictating that I cut my pockets all a bit wider.  That long centre-front, open-ended zip is 10cm short, but I opted to not hem my dress correspondingly 10cm shorter, ahem!  I hemmed the skirt to my tastes, longer than the zip.  I’m OK with that!
I left off the belt loops, so I can choose to wear it with or without a belt, whichever I so desire  :)  I like it equally both ways.
The three pockets are all perfectly functional, but the zip teeth on those hip pockets are on the scratchy side against my tender skin. And the breast pocket would look strange with anything bulkier than a credit card or maybe a single slender hanky inside.  That one is pretty much purely decorative, although I have completed it to be a perfect self-contained little pocket.  I cannot bear fake details in clothes, like zips that go nowhere and pockets with no pocket bags that are sewn shut.  Loathe that.
I liked the instruction to topstitch closely along each side of each seam, and followed it.  A subtle detail, and adds a bit of extra something...
The fabric is gorgeous, but I found during construction it is the sort that finds snags on fingernails that you could have sworn were perfectly smooth!  :S  so I will just have to wear and wear and wear my dress and thoroughly enjoy it for as long as I can!
Later edit: I added a full-length zip placket to the centre opening... those zip teeth are sharp against the tender tummy skin!

Dress; Burdastyle magazine 09/2008, dress 109, in a pale Wedgewood-blue damask
Belt; Country Road, from yonks ago
Shoes; akiel, from an op shop

Pattern Description:
Fully lined, sheath dress with high stand-up collar, princess seamed front with a centre front opening by full-length, exposed, open-ended zip, inseam hip pockets and single slanted breast pocket all with exposed zip closure.
Pattern Sizing:
European sizes 34-42; I made the size 38
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you had finished sewing it?
Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, in my opinion the instructions are absolutely excellent!
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
The pattern as is ... there was barely any shaping, and when I tried on the basted dress and looked at my reflection in the mirror the words “Easter Egg” popped inexorably into my mind.  I looked like an egg!  Not the image I really wanted to evoke, so I made alterations so the dress skimmed closely to my figure.  I'm very happy with the shape of the dress now, though  :)
I really love the look of that double topstitching on either side of the seams.
The instructions on lining the dress are really excellent; an elegant and tidy solution to lining a dress that I am sure I will refer to for other lined dresses in the future.
Fabric Used:
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
There was re-fitting aplenty necessary to transform it from a cocoon to a shapely dress …
The instructions direct you to topstitch closely to either side of the seamlines; I was glad I delayed this stitching until after basting all the seams up to check the fit, and I recommend to anyone else to do the same!  
I did not transfer my fitting alterations to the lining pieces.  Since it is quite blousy on me, there is a bit of extra wearing ease in there, always a good idea in a lining.
A minor consideration, but one you have to take into account before cutting the pocket pieces: since the zips are fully exposed, the length of the zips you buy strictly dictates the size of the pocket openings.  There were only a few limited zip lengths available to me, so I cut the pocket pieces in sizes to exactly fit the zips I bought.
I made the belt carriers, but ultimately left them off.  I thought they made the dress look tacky with no belt, and I wanted the option of wearing it beltless.
I added a full-length zip placket in underneath the central opening zip... (here) my industrial strength brass zip looked awesome but those teeth are sharp against the tummy skin!  Ouch!
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I think I will sew this again.  I know I always say this and then I pounce joyfully onto the next new-and-shiny pattern to cross my path  :)  but I do think this will have an encore.  The pattern has classic clean lines and I think has the capability to change its personality depending on the fabric chosen.  I do recommend this on-trend little number, if lengthened a tad it would make a lovely smart little dress for the office.  You just have to locate a long enough front zip!
Well, now that it fits me, I just love it! the high collar, the simple, sleeveless, streamlined silhouette.
The exposed zips are very on-trend and the rich damask fabric I chose ticks off another trend I have noticed cropping up in high-end designers this season…

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mum's knitted Noro vest

Anyone familiar with my blog might remember that occasionally I feature my Mum here, and some of the meticulously crafted and beautiful pieces that she makes.
She knitted this vest a few years ago and has up until now resisted pleas to feature it on my blog, typically protesting "oh, no one wants to see this old thing!"
Thankfully she has been persuaded so we can now all enjoy a really good squizz at a really lovely handmade garment ...
Mum knitted this vest using Noro yarn and the pattern "Sakiori 1" from the book "Folk Vests" by Cheryl Oberle.
The Noro sections of the vest are stocking stitch, with contrasting moss stitch bands in charcoal yarn.  The long front bands and side bands are made by picking up long rows of stitches along the edges and knitted in vertical rows of moss stitch.  The two underarm side sections are knitted separately.  
Mum also made the trousers she is wearing, using a custom-fit pattern.
Thank you Mum!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Full Moon, restyled

Wow!  As soon as I saw the re-styling suggestions in my comments I realised how right you all were... thank you!  I can see now my outfit was a wee bit on the frumpy side.  I guess I was being a lazy blogger; trying to kill two birds with one stone by forcing the two new things; the top and the skirt, together in one outfit and one post when they did not really want to be together... so I have taken your excellent advice to heart.
I agree, the Full Moon top does seem to appear far less weird and look a whole lot better worn with no Tshirt and a little skirt  :))
Thank you again!

Top; the Full Moon top, drafted from p12 of Pattern Magic 3 byTomoko Nakamichi, various lightweight black fleeces
Skirt; my own design, charcoal jersey knit, details here
Shoes; akiel, from an op shop

Full Moon, from Pattern Magic 3

I have made a new .... er, thing.  A top?  Yup, I think I have made a new top.  Maybe it's more of an experiment than a top really.  One of the drafting exercises exploring how the placement of apertures governs the drape of the circular pattern piece...  from p12 of Pattern Magic 3 by Tomoko Nakamichi; Full Moon.  The companion piece in the same vein is the Crescent Moon top, posted here.
I made it using some more of the fabric stash given to me by my friend C from her late mother's stash.  Two different black fleeces; slightly different shades of black and slightly different degrees of fluffiness, and I joined smaller pieces together in unobtrusive places to get pieces big enough to make the top.  One of the pieces I used wrong side out since it closely mimicked the right side of the other fabric.

Here is the thing... it may not get worn a whole bunch.  I have prepared myself for no one reading my blog to like it.  It has suffered some knock-backs already: no one in my family likes it.  Actually, everyone loathes it  :D  I put this on the first time a few mornings ago and wandered out into the kitchen... and my mother, staying with us, asked incredulously if I planned to wear this out.  I replied in a small voice, yes... and well, to cut to the chase I have been forbidden to wear this while I am out with my mother!  Yikes!  I can't believe I'm middle aged and am still wearing stuff that my mother doesn't approve...  I'm still a fashion rebel, yeah!!
But my feeling is that it is not that bad.   As a top: the pouffiness presents a dressing challenge, true; it is a sihouette that is not particularly figure flattering, which in our body-conscious world translates to not very fashionable, and so is rarely seen.  Except in circles who are really interested in sartorial innovation.  But I think that over-blousiness on a top half can be successfully counteracted by wearing a long and slim-line lower half.
The diagonal drape-lines achieved by skewing the waistband and the neckline is interesting and quite attractive, and I can imagine this concept being incorporated beautifully into a skirt design.
Oh, and btw my skirt is kinda new, to me anyway.  My mother made it for herself but it has shrunk in the wash, so I have inherited it.  I had to take the waistband off and take it in at the side seams to fit me, but I think I can allow myself to wear it since it is handmade by Mum.  The pattern she used is Vogue 8561; the fabric, a stretchy lightweight denim from KnitWit.  Coincidentally, also used inside out!  Cute, yes?  I really like the one lone little asymmetrical, disproportionate shield-of-arms pocket.  That is a very nice detail.
Thank you Mum!

Top; the Full Moon top, drafted from p12 of Pattern Magic 3 byTomoko Nakamichi, various lightweight black fleeces
Tshirt (under); self-drafted, white cotton jersey
Skirt (made by Mum, altered to fit by me); Vogue 8561, blue stretch denim
Shoes; Perrini, had for yonks and yonks

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

'nother hoodie

I've been on such a sewing bendahh lately!! making loads of stuff for the family as well as myself.   Must be the influence of spring; new growth in the garden and blissfully warm days lend themselves to thoughts of rejuvenating, renewing; everything in one's life.  I've been cleaning out cupboards, sorting through wardrobes, and adding new clothes to our lives...  :)
Somebody stop me!!
So I've made hoodies recently for Craig and for Sam; and Andrea observantly noted that I do have another man in my life; our eldest son Tim.  :D   I love making things for my boys (as well as my girl, of course) but I feel especially super proud when I see my boys heading out in stuff made by me.  Seems more of a stamp of cool-approval.  imo it is easy to make great girl-y stuff, but it is a much bigger challenge to make stuff that gets the thumbs up from a young man.
I used the same pattern copied from an old RTW one; and size-adjusted for Tim's lanky build.
Tim looks really handsome in grey, and I still had some of this grey marle jersey from KnitWit.  It is the same fabric I used for my clipped wings top as well as my grey jersey lingerie set.  Luckily; the store has had this in stock for months, which is utterly fab since I've nipped back to buy just a little bit more twice now!  I cut out all the hoodie pieces of this fabric and got halfway through construction.  Then had overwhelming and crippling doubts that it was all going to be a bit too unrelentingly pale, featureless and boring, and so at the last moment I re-cut the hood and pocket pieces from a khaki/caramel coloured cotton jersey and used these instead.  I bought the khaki jersey from KnitWit as well, last year some time.
The hoodie has a kangaroo pocket, and the sleeves and lower edge were finished with a long folded ring-band using this method.  Tim wanted the sleeves over-long, so the band method is a good way to add length to a sleeve without having to remove the length required for a hem.  
The hood/drawstring-collar was constructed using this method.
I'm really pleased with the two-tone result.  When Sam saw it he asked for a two-tone one too.... so I had to promise that his next hoodie will be like this too...  (sigh)
And: the very last leftover pieces of this pale grey marle cotton jersey was yesterday subjected to a dye-bath.... hehehe;  and I am super thrilled with how the colour has worked out  :))  Results to appear here soon!

Monday, September 17, 2012

the Wicked Witch of the East set

A new set!
I have made a new lingerie set using the very last leftovers from Craig's hoodie; a lovely soft grey-and-black pinstriped cotton jersey originally from Spotlight.  The bra pattern is KwikSew 3300 (my review of this pattern here) and the undies are McCalls 2772... surprise! my old favourites.  The bikini pattern pieces are starting to get a tad fragile now and I really should trace them off; they have yet to see a lot more use  :)
I used black underwear elastic, and a black bra closure to match.  The liners were cut from an old Tshirt.  Recycling, y'know! (pats self smugly on back)
When I had finished sewing the set I pondered what to use for decoration; anything black would disappear into the fabric, likewise something grey.  Frilly bits and bobs seemed unsuited to the utilitarian no-nonsense vibe of striped cotton jersey.  I doubtfully plucked these cute little red buttons from my stash and held them against the set.  These had been salvaged from off an old pair of PJ's.  Once they were there, on; they immediately brought to my mind the Wicked Witch of the East, from the Wizard of Oz.  You know, the sister of the Wicked Witch of the West, on whose head Dorothy's house dropped from the sky?
Hehehe....  I reckon she would have worn a set just like this, don't you?!