Friday, November 30, 2012

here's a thought...

Top; from Pattern Magic 3, of grey marle jersey knit, details here
Shorts; Burda 7723 modified, of grey/beige corduroy, details here
Thongs; Havaiiana

The last day of the month, the time of reckoning is at hand; and verily, an unexpected snag has raised its ugly head...  
You see, while I, of free will and sound mind (ha!), elected for this year to account for how much I spend on sewing my wardrobe and on everything sewing-related really, including all the random bits and bobs for Craig and my children; I'm shy when it comes to personal gifts.  Like, the birthday pressies I made for Mum and Dad this month, and Christmas is coming up, and since my family do read my blog...  and yeah, seeing a price tag on a pressie is so so tacky, don't you think? and all the love and the care and the thought, and the hours of sewing, ahem that go into a handmade gift are not accounted for, but become somehow negated when a number is placed upon it.
I didn't think of this in the beginning, since everyone's birthdays and Christmas are at the end of the year it has taken me this long to twig that this might happen...
SO I have decided on a plan.  I am still going to tally and publish the costs of my sewing habit but there is going to be an addendum for this and next month.. a Secret Tally.  I've already made things for my children and for Craig that I have tallied separately throughout the year, and I will add the costs of everyone's birthday and Christmas pressies into that at the final tally next month.  So, those costs will still be accounted for and published, but as part of a separate, whole and unitemised sum.  
My own personal clothing expenditure will continue to be itemised... does that sound fair and open and honest?
I hope so, because whatever; that is how it is going to be!

So behold, the noble n' neat, nitty-gritty for November...

Fabric; previously accounted for
Patterns; Vogue 1247, used previously
Lingerie holders; gift
Total cost: free
Fabric, hook and eye closure, bra cups; all leftovers and recycled from previous set
Blue chiffon and white lace for the new crotch; $10.87
Patterns; used previously
Elastic; $3.49
Underwires; $2.49
Total cost: $16.85
Fabric; after using a birthday gift voucher from friends, $4.98
Zip; $2.30
Total cost: $7.28
Miscellaneous purchases
no miscellaneous purchases this month

Total costs for November:  $24.13

the Secret Tally, to be accounted for next month:

A random thought for the day...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Red velveteen skirt; 6 different ways

A big fashion trend around about these parts currently is the red jeans trend.  It is HUGE-o-rama!  I do like it too..  however since my husband bought a pair of bright red jeans for himself while in Milan and my daughter has since bought a pair for herself too; so now I cannot possibly follow along literally myself without us running the risk of bobbing about the house looking like a little flock of Santa's helpers... but luckily I already have my ombre-dyed red velveteen skirt in the wardrobe; mwahaha.   Trend box ticked!  Well sorta.  It is to my satisfaction, anyway.
In Milan I noticed the most successful red jeans combos were with a very neutral, or at least a very conservative top; the better to tone down the woa!-ness of those eye-catching legs and avoid clown territory, and I think mixing and matching an in-your-face colour or print skirt follows the same principles.  I tend to pair the red skirt with very bland or classic garments, or just very occasionally with a colourful top if I'm in that sort of mood.

Below: at left; a classic boat-neck navy and white striped Tshirt is without a doubt the most popular pairing with red jeans I have seen here in Perth.  That combo is sooooo hot right now.  Rather French I think with little white sand shoes, and fortunately I happen to have red leggings too… At right; a men’s styled denim shirt is another perennial classic, which works well with the red skirt peeping out under, and smartened up with chunky high-heeled caramel wedges.
Below: at left; a flash of crimson from under a long-line cardigan adds a spot of cheer to an all-charcoal winter-y outfit, and at right; on a day when one is feeling particularly bubbly, a bright tunic top and ballet flats matches the strength of primary colour in the skirt
Below: at left; the freshness of white, the rumpled crispness of linen and unusual styling of this shirt is a total counterpoint to the rich colour, plush velveteen texture and very simple silhouette of the skirt.  I really love all the contrasts in this outfit here… and at right; I hope you're not bored with this orange top, since I do tend to wear it a lot!!  I guess maybe it deserves its own 6-way post one of these days... except it's been seen a tonne of times already, maybe I've run out of fresh combos!  Obviously it is another very versatile player in my wardrobe!

Traditionally I've considered red to be a primadonna colour that is quite difficult to mix and match, but I have enjoyed playing with this little red skirt.  Which way would you be wearing it?

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Don't worry if you don't "get" the title of this post; that's an in-house joke...  ;)
I have made another birthday shirt, this one for Mum.
The pattern is Vogue 1247.  Yup.  This is the seventh butterfly to emerge from this particular pattern and wing gracefully away from my sewing machine.  Yowzer.  This could be a record, even for Miss Repetitive (ie. me)....
Man.  I need to traverse fresh paddocks.
But in the meantime, Mum had mentioned she really like this top, so ...  :)
Mum tried on the two versions of this top I had made for myself and decided she liked the fit so I just made the same size and lengthened it by about 2.5cm at her request.
The fabric is is Rowan's shot cotton in Granite, with a pink warp and a periwinkle blue weft.
All the seams are French seams, and I did the lower hem differently this time... the way it is explained in the pattern is just slightly on the unnecessarily-difficult side in my opinion, when it needn't be.  Instead of the stay-stiching and the trimming, I just folded a narrow hem under twice, pressed, pinned and stitched.  So much more simple, and yes, it was a heck of a lot easier to turn under too!
Mum made her own white trousers, and her scarf is Metalicus.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Cement worker

I made a shirt for Dad's birthday  :)

I used Burda 7767 custom-fit to his size that I fine-tuned with last year's shirt, and a fine-grade linen from Spotlight in a shade called "cement".  Very appropriate for a man like my Dad who is the handiest handyman you could ever hope to find!  Srsly.  He is.  Cementing would be an absolute doddle to Dad, I'm sure  :)
Last year's birthday shirt was a sort of "nice" short-sleeved shirt to wear out to smartish events, and this new one is more casual, more suitable to Dad's usual daytime activities; like working in the shed building stuff like The Chicken-Plucker (don't ask) and his own lathe, tinkering with the ute and trekking out through the bush to tend to his hives and chop wood.  And fire-fighting, although I kinda hope not!  
Being linen it will be a good cool shirt to wear all summer, and this one has long sleeves to protect Dad's arms from the sun.  He can roll them up if he desires without fear of embarrassment caused by tatty interior finishes: since the side and sleeve seams are French seams, and the armscye seams are flat felled seams.  I used my own tutorial for flat-felling a curved seam to achieve this neatly.
The pockets are bellowed and pointed at the nadir, and button closed with arrowhead flaps.  The buttons are from Fabulous Fabrics.  The lower hemline is curved, and as always I sewed a spare button inside to the side seam.
After I had finished sewing it; it was all nicely pressed, with the creases ironed into non-existence and all perfectly smooth and neat, like a newly sewn garment always is.  I looked at it askance.  It looked so ... pristine.  A bit immaculate.  It didn't look like a "Dad" sort of a shirt at all.  My Dad is very much a low-maintenance sort of a man.  So I gave it a second wash, a good shake-out and hung it out on the line to dry in the sun.  It came up with a very satisfyingly lived-in look; comfy, rumpled and crumpled.  I did not allow the iron anywhere near it.  Now it looks very "Dad".

A little tip; when you trim off the seam allowances and points off of the interfaced pieces of collars and cuff and the like before turning out, it can be handy to keep the larger trimmings.  They can be cut down into small squares, which since they are already pre-interfaced are useful for stabilising buttons sewn in areas which have no facing, such as the cuff split button...
and yes, this was the secret thing I have made recently.... I used a small strip of the leftover linen for the waistband on my lace skirt.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Keeping the lace pure and undarted in a fitted skirt

My lace design has regular repeating rows of curlicues, scrolls and flower motifs that I felt would have been spoiled by waist shaping darts; also the lace fabric is quite thick and darts would not have sat nice and flat on the inside.  Plus, they would have been visible through the wide holes in the lace.  
SO, I aimed to eliminate the darts from my skirt and maintain the integrity of the rows of repeating motifs in the design.

Thank you so much to Robyn and Sharon who asked  :)
And I should mention straight off that I learnt this process from using Tomoko Nakamichi's Pattern Magic books of course...the point of which is to learn how to manipulate a sloper and fabrics in order to achieve a desired effect.  I probably say that each and every time I mention the books, so please forgive me for repeating myself.  I guess I just love this sort of thing since I am a bonafide maths and fashion and sewing nerd; three, not-irreconcilable passions that are wrapped up together and catered to in one neat package.  Working through the exercises has taught me loads about pattern manipulation.
Anyhow, without further ado...

I chose the skirt pattern Vogue 1247 as a starting point because:
a.  I have used it a few times already and am happy with the fit.
b.  It has only one shaping dart on each side of the front and the back, and obviously one dart is way easier to eliminate than two.
c.  It has a high straight waistband that I could transform into a yoke fairly easily.  A waistband or yoke was an essential component to stabilise the lace at the top of the skirt.
d.  It is a reasonably straight little skirt, enabling me to easily match up the lace motifs down each side seam as well.

I am showing the process using the front pattern piece only... exactly the same process applies to the back piece.
I usually use old newspaper to make up my pattern modifications, but just in honour of taking photos today I have used some nice plain brown paper instead.  Yah I know, so classy  ;)
Draw the pattern piece with the dart marked.
Mark a horizontal line from the point of the dart extending out to the side edge.
Cut along the outside edge of the dart.
Cut along the horizontal line from the side edge to the point of the dart.
Rotate the top side edge into the centre to close the dart, and tape it closed.
Just to visually simplify the next step I've traced off a new paper piece from this new, dartless skirt front piece....
Now, my lace had straight, horizontal straight rows of motifs.. to indicate how this appears on my paper pattern piece I have marked some horizontal straight rows in red.... Now, see how the sides of the skirt curve up quite dramatically from the centre front?    The visual effect of the curving row of lace, even though it is apparent curving and not actual curving; is rather unflattering imo and would look messy and chaotic.  So, I wanted the top of the skirt to be cut in a straight horizontal line, to preserve the straight line of the lace design.
Cut off that top side curve.
The lower skirt piece remaining is your new skirt front piece.  The curved piece cut off the top is used to create the waistband/yoke section as below...
The waistband of Vogue 1247 is a straight waistband; trace a new waistband including seam allowances.  
Transfer the top side curve markings to it.. this will be the new curved side seam of the waistband/yoke.
Extend the curve up to the top of the desired yoke/waistband height; then freehand draw it a bit higher and then curve it down to join onto the waistband top, to square off that top corner.
This process results in a dartless skirt with a straight top edge that preserves the horizontal rows in the lace... and with a straight waistband shaped into the side edges.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

All laced up with nowhere to go

I'm joking... of course I've got lots of nice places to go  :)
I've made a lace skirt.
My very luvverly, very perceptive friends again gave me a Fabulous Fabrics voucher for my birthday.  Ohhh, they know me so well  :D
I try to do justice to their annual awesomeness by adding something appropriately beautiful and worthy to my wardrobe... last year's voucher became the red dress, my favourite cocktail number; and then the spiral leggings.  Ok, the leggings were not-so classic but nonetheless a very designer-y perennial and something I am still pretty pleased with.
Anyhoo, I'm returning to the classics with this year's birthday voucher ... ta da.
I used my voucher for this pale latte coloured, heavily configured lace and a length of caramel coloured silk charmeuse for the lining/underlining.  For the waistband I used a piece of grey/beige handkerchief linen leftover from a little something else I have made very recently; that has not appeared here on my blog yet ... it's kind of a secret for the moment.  To be appearing in due course  ;)
The shapes of the pieces in this skirt are kind of based on those of a beautiful Chanel skirt I checked out while we were in Milan.  I saw a skirt of heavily configured lace like mine, fitted but with no waist shaping darts, all the shaping in the side seams so as to minimally disturb the lace design, and a shaped, narrow yoke/waistband.  I saw and I liked.  I took note.
I used Vogue 1247... !  yah, you'd never have guessed, right?  :)  The pattern has been fairly drastically altered: with the pieces spliced together, minus the pockets and re-configured to eliminate the waist shaping darts.  The dart allowance has instead been removed from the side edges so as to not spoil the lace design; also the pattern normally features a high straight waistband, and I have lowered this a touch and shaped it into the waist also, so it is more like a narrow yoke than a waistband.  
This is a great solution to the dilemma of fitting a lace skirt with minimal marring of the lace design.
The top of the skirt sits lower, at my natural waist.  The centre back seam has the invisible zip closure, and is a straight seam with perfectly matched lace motifs.  I hand-basted the zip in place, and the seam before machine stitching, in order to match up the lace motifs as well as I could.

The silk charmeuse underlining/lining skirt has all French seams.  Instead of sewing the darts in place I folded the dart allowances into pleats which are just folded at the top and stitched in the seam allowance.  This is a better way of treating the darts in a skirt lining; less strain on the fabric.  This is another feature I've seen in high-end skirts.
I wore it for its maiden voyage here in a formal ensemble to go to a Christmas function; showing it off, tizzying it up y'know  ;)   but I will also treat this as an everyday little thing, grunge-ing it down with casual loose tops.  I'm picturing it with my khaki army shirt, or my billow-y white shirt.  I'm very partial to that high/low look y'know.  Very me.  :)
Toodles, friends!

Skirt; Vogue 1247 heavily modified, latte lace with caramel silk charmeuse lining and linen waistband, my review of this pattern here
Blouse; Vogue 1170, ivory silk charmeuse, details and my review of this pattern here
Shoes; Misano

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Public Service Announcement

We interrupt our normal blogging schedule to bring you an important public service health announcement...
Please read carefully.  This information could save lives.
Recent clinical trials have shown that daily ingestion of one (1) lime macaron with lime curd filling is beneficial to health and quality of life; providing a plausible intervention in cases of starvation, sadness, scurvy and ... er, starvation.  
This is a clinically proven treatment, effective and simple to self-apply.  It is palatable to children and adults alike.

Please note; do not take more than the recommended dose as this product may be addictive.  Other possible side effects of overdosing on this product include weight gain and loss of appetite.

Lime macarons with lime curd filling

100g egg whites, allowed to sit covered at room temperature for 3 days
30g castor sugar
5g powdered egg white (if you can't get it, Pavlova Magic works)
125g almond meal
200g pure icing sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tblsp 
finely grated lime rind

Sift the icing sugar, baking powder and almond meal.  It takes a long time to sift the almond meal and you have to push it through with a spoon but it should mostly 
pass through the sieve eventually.  Discard the small quantity of lumpy bits that do not pass through the sieve.  Combine castor sugar and powdered egg white (or Pavlova Magic) in a separate little bowl.
Whisk the egg whites until firm and stiff enough to keep its shape when you turn the bowl upside down, I prefer to whisk by hand.  Gradually add the castor sugar/powdered egg white mix whisking continuously and vigorously after each addition.
Add the icing sugar/baking powder/almond meal mix in five batches, stirring until mixed each time.  Lastly, stir in the lime rind.
Transfer mixture to a piping bag and pipe rounds onto a baking sheet or baking paper, leaving an inch between each round, and let them sit on the bench for one hour or until they have developed a "skin" and do not feel sticky to the touch.
Bake at 120C for 6 minutes, turn the tray around, bake for another 6 minutes then remove from the oven.  Slide the baking sheet off the tray and onto the bench; partly so you can cook the next batch, but also the cold bench stops the cooking process in its tracks.  When they are completely cold, peel them carefully off the paper.

for the filling: (this recipe has appeared here before)

rind and juice of 5 limes
6 eggs
1 1/2 c sugar
125g butter

Lightly whisk the eggs and sugar together in a saucepan, then add the other ingredients.  Whisk continually over a medium heat until the mixture has thickened to a custard-like texture then allow to cool in the pan.  Decant into sterilised jars and refrigerate until set completely. 
Spread a little onto a macaron like spreading jam thickly on bread, then stick another macaron on top.

Disclaimer...  I lied.  
This actually isn't a public health announcement at all.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A pretty little thing

Cassie made a top.
I know, yes; it really does say handmade by me at the top of this blog and I did not make this lovely, but wait; there is a logical explanation...
I am posting it here mostly to show the fabudabulous Merche, because a short while ago she very generously sent Patrones no. 7 magazine over to me; muchísimas gracias Merche!  And Cassie's top is the first cab off the rank...   The pattern is number 20, a little camisole blouse with a shirred back and a shoestring strap threaded through the top of the bodice to gather it up.  It closes with an invisible zip in the side seam.  Cassie elected to cross over the straps at the back, but otherwise the blouse is made up just to pattern.
She used a very lightweight cotton from Potters Textiles; thank you to Vanessa for alerting me to the Potters sale last year!  This is the first time a Potters Textile has appeared on my blog here.  Ack-choolly....  :) this is the very first Patrones magazine I've got my clutches on, and the very first make from it, using the first piece of fabric I bought from Potters Textiles and the first time a Potters fabric has appeared here on the blog...  
So this pretty little top represents a veritable avalanche of firsts... woot!

Cassie also made her own skirt, using Butterick 5488 and cotton denim from Fabulous Fabrics.
 below left: t' back view, and below right; her invisible zips are looking pretty fantastic imo...