Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pisces II

... the other fish!  Because we all know Pisces has two fish, right?  :)  although I'm afraid the best I could eke out was one and a half fish from the length I had!
I made a skirt for myself from the remains of the sparkly silver sequinned fabric.   I do think that when it comes to the problem of wearing a fabric of a colour and/or texture that you don’t really feel suits you: then having it in the form of a skirt, thus away from your face, is a terrific solution!

Although I am not sure as yet as to the wisdom of drawing attention to my hips, the widest part of my body by dressing them to closely resemble a disco ball, but we shall see...
I used Vogue 8363, and made the skirt to be a single pieced, double darted front, with deep, front slanted pockets, and a two piece, double darted back with a central invisible zip closure.  It is fully lined.  Basically the same as the little black skirt I made for Cassie, except that I made the silhouette a tad more A-line, rather than pencil.
I have another piece of ... er, dressmaking advice? a thought? for this sequinned fabric: I didn't want to blunt my good dressmaking shears on those sequins so I tried using my ordinary, cheap household scissors, that I use for paper, sticky tape, cutting open plastic food packaging and just about anything and everything household-y.  They worked like a charm! And I saved my good scissors :)
The pewter/silver silk dupion I used for the pockets, pocket lining and waistband was a scrap from the bundle of fabrics, given to me by my friend C from her late mother’s stash, and the grey polyacetate lining fabric was a small leftover piece from this maxi skirt; made years ago and long since passed to charity.  btw, I switched back to my good dressmaking shears again for the "proper" fabric  :)
The darts in the lining are not stitched but simply folded at the top, and the fold sewed down in the waistband stitching line.  This is a good idea when sewing skirt linings, it reduces wearing strain on the thin lining fabric.
I even had the right shade and length grey zip and hook and eye closure in my stash too.  So this is a terrific little stash buster skirt, using up a three smallish, different but nicely co-ordinating pieces of fabric which were individually awkward but whose joining together created a harmonious whole arguably more useful than if they had remained a pile of nicely co-ordinating scraps. 
And barely a skerrick of fabric is leftover.
Well, maybe just a skerrick…. ;)

Shirt; Burda 8497, white cotton, details here
Skirt Vogue 8363 fully lined, silver sequined stretch fabric, with pewter silk dupion pockets, pocket lining and waistband, my review of this pattern here.
Sandals; Misano

Monday, February 25, 2013

the paper doll project, and a thermal

20th - 25th February
(I've pledged to wear only clothes handmade by me this year and to sketch my daily outfits in my Fashionary.  I'm calling this the paper doll project)

from left:

It's been an up and down week, weather wise.  We had tickets to Ballet at the Quarry for Friday night which we look forward to so much every year! because it is outdoors under the stars, very casual sitting on the grass, and you always take a picnic to enjoy before it starts.  The performances tend to the contemporary; raw and athletic, and set against the backdrop of gum trees and stars it is always a mesmerising evening.  And just before starting time the heavens opened, we had a sudden, crazy rainstorm; and the performance had to be postponed!  (gobsmacked)  We simply could not believe it!!!   Of course rain, is always very very welcome here ... since Perth has been as dry as a bone for about four months.  But it had to be right then?
Looking on the bright side, the garden had a good drink and we still have the ballet to look forward to now.  I'll be making another picnic.  :)
I've made a top.  This will be a thermal.  Ha! anyone in Perth reading this will be laughing hysterically that anyone here is even thinking about thermals right now!!  but while the temperatures make it feel like we'll never be cold again, of course we will!  If I am going to get through winter in only my own handmade clothing I am going to need at least a few long underthingies.  Plus the fabric was already sitting out after I had cut out the lining for Cassie's dress so (shrug)
This is a prototype.  There will be one or two more before winter arrives.   The lower hemline when pulled right down sits over my bottom  :) I know, oolala, tres uber sex-ay, non?  Non! but these things are a necessary part of any seasonally well-stocked wardrobe!
The fabric is a thin, clingy, soft, and slightly fluffy jersey knit, the last of the leftovers from this drape drape dress, and the lining from Cassie's Pisces dress.  I used my self-drafted Tshirt pattern.  btw, just a reminder, this pattern started out as Burdastyle 06/2011, pattern 120, but has been fiddled and diddled with it so much there is literally not a single cutting or stitching line remaining that is original.  Which is why I've taken the liberty of giving it self-drafted status.
Anyway, it is now a perfectly custom fitted-to-me Tshirt pattern.
The neckline, sleeve and lower hems are all finished with self-fabric bands, attached as per this tutorial.

In general blog housekeeping, I have made the decision to disable Anonymous commenting.  I feel a bit sad about this, since I do get lots of kind comments from real and genuine people who seem to prefer the anonymous option.  But I'm sorry; the spam was driving me crazy! and I just had to.  Saturday night was the last straw, in just 24 hrs so many new spam comments got through the filter that it wasn't funny.  I had to go through my published comments, and individually "spammed" about 60 NEW comments... I wish I was exaggerating or kidding, but I am not.  It was crazy.  And that is not even counting the comments that had been caught by the spam filter... then I went into the spam box and there were ALSO over 650 new spam comments there.  And I had cleaned it all out only 24 hrs previously!  I usually flick briefly through, to check that no "real" comments have been erroneously marked as spam, and occasionally I get a laugh out of some of the whackier spam comments.  Sadly spammers are getting boringly repetitive and unimaginative in their spam nowadays, and I'm over it.  So, I'm really sorry to my lovely genuine Anonymous's.  Like every other blogger I love genuine comments and feedback, so maybe you could create a google or an open ID, or something?  :)

Thursday, February 21, 2013


... the fish.  Look at my little silver tiddler!
So, a few years ago, at the annual Fabulous Fabrics Christmas sale, I was moved by some mad irrational impulse to purchase 2m of silver sequined stretchy fabric.  Exactly why is mystery to me now… since silver sequins are completely unsuited to my colouring and just about everything in my wardrobe.  Must have had a brief “ooh, pretty shiny!!”  moment, compounding the alluring thrill of 50% off euphoria.  But anywho I succumbed, and it has since been sitting in my stash taking up shelf space for too too long.  February’s stashbusting theme is to make something for someone you love.  So I made something for my daughter.
Fortunately she looks utterly fabulous in silver.  I must have unselfishly and subliminally planned it  ;)
Now, I know it seems like I am making a lot for Cassie lately, and not much for any of the boys in my life… well, I tried.  I offered the sparkly silver fabric to each of my boys, really I did.  Inexplicably they did not respond to its sparkly gorgeousness with much enthusiasm.  I only wish I could capture and show here the expression on Sam’s face, when I showed him the fabric and straight-faced said I was planning to make him a silver sequinned hoodie … priceless!!!   You’ll just have to imagine it for yourselves….   still giggling about it....
Anyhow; the only person in my family who leapt upon it with cries of joy was Cassie.  So (shrug) it couldn’t be helped.  I’ll have to make it up to the boys somehow  :)
My lucky daughter has the ideal year ahead for her to make good use of a sparkly silver cocktail dress.  She has masses of 21st's on the horizon.  Word; she goes out a lot anyway, lucky little social butterfly that she is.
I adapted a pattern that is one of my oft-repeated standbys ... Burda 8511.  This is a plain and simple sheath dress pattern, with two bust darts in the front and two long shaped vertical darts in the back.  I’ve found this an excellent style to adapt to individual shapes, just by subtle alteration of the darts and side seams.
For Cassie’s dress; I sewed up the side seams and left off any zip closure… the fabric is stretchy and doesn’t really need a closure.  The dress pulls over her head quite easily, like a fitted Tshirt dress.  It looks tight but it's actually not at all, she really is quite tiny!
At her request, I custom fit the dress to skim her figure closely, and fully lined it with a sewn-in lining.   I redrafted the pattern pieces to eliminate all darts in the lining, and used a soft, stretchy, grey marled jersey knit, leftover from this drape drape dress that I made for myself.  Note how the lining looks completely skewiff???  That marle/stripe in the fabric really is printed on that random slant.  The lining is cut perfectly on grain, I assure you!
The neckline, armscyes and the lower hem are turned under  and hemmed by hand.
Actually, a word on that.  Remember my sparkly gold cardigan, that I stitched entirely by hand??  The thought of doing more of the same was inducing a slightly depressive status, so I consulted with a lady in Fabulous Fabrics who I recalled had made herself a skirt of similar stuff.  She reckoned a denim needle worked fine.  So I tried it out... and hehe, of course it was.  (blushes)   Not that I regret stitching that cardigan by hand ......  much.  No, really; I guess it does me good to slow down and spend loads of unnecessary meditative time on a project every now and again.  Teaches one humility, yo.  
Repeating that like a mantra to retain some shred of self respect.
So, stashbusting, yeah!!  (air fist punch)  Actually, the dress did not take up the entire 2m of the silver fabric… so there might be some more silver sparkliness to appear here, anon.  
'Til next time, lovelies!

Dress; Burda 8511 modified, silver sequinned stretch fabric
Sandals; Betts

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

the paper doll project

14th - 19th February
(I've pledged to wear only clothes handmade by me this year and to sketch my daily outfits in my Fashionary.  I'm calling this the paper doll project)

from left:
pink lace dress over pink satin petticoat
border print dress
Bamboo shoot top, embroidered yellow shorts, ivory hat
navy/white check top, green gingham shorts, green knitted hoodie
blue top (worn as pictured in the last look here), white shorts, ivory hat
dress made from an old polo Tshirt

You can see we had a brief but refreshing and energising cool spell.  Sunday felt positively wintery after the last few sweltering weeks we've had, so I actually had a woolly cardigan on hand for early morning and late evening.  Today it's back to 38C.  Craziness.

eta: Thursday was Valentine's Day  :) so I wore my most romantic dress.  I made a picnic of pate and bikkies, prawn and avocado salad, and strawberries, and we took it along with a bottle of champagne down to the river, to sit on the grass and watch the sunset.  Just lovely.

Have you joined "Map the Sewintists"?  A fun and informative initiative by Vicki, of Another Sewing Scientist.  If not then get thee to Google maps posthaste and pin yourself onto your spot!

Map the Sewintists in a larger map

Sunday, February 17, 2013

You can leave your hat on...

I've made a hat.
I used Vogue 8844, and the fabric is a soft ivory corduroy, harvested from a pair of Cassie’s old worn-out jeans that has been living in my good sammies pile for the past four or five years.   As evidenced by that half gone leg there, these jeans were also the source of the White parliament, pictured here…
The hat is lined with blue and ivory striped stuff leftover from Sam’s stripe-y shirt, and the inner seam finished with white grosgrain ribbon.  
You know that very stiff, heavyweight, iron-on interfacing? that is useful about once in a blue moon?  I’ve had a huge length sitting untouched in my stash for many many years.  Well, I guess we must have had a blue moon since I managed to use a bit in this project.  The hat pieces are all interfaced with this stuff.

I felt pretty good about getting all of the hat pieces cut out from the jeans.  Most of the pattern pieces were too big to cut out in one piece, on the grain and with the nap of the corduroy (they all are, btw… self pat on the back)  So I had to do a bit of piecing.  You can see some of the seams in this picture, but I’m OK with those seams.  I feel too smugly virtuous about re-using old textiles to feel bad about a few extra seams in a thing!  Eco-smugness; don’t you just hate that biz  ;)

I wondered about the sizes, which is partially why I decided to use a re-cycled textile for my first time making this pattern… not the main reason, I am firmly committed to mindfully re-using old textiles when I can.  But anyway, about the sizing;
My head measurement almost exactly corresponded to the S, so I made this size.  And I couldn’t be more thrilled with the fit, it cups my scone snugly and is neither tight nor loose.  There was a brisk-ish breeze on the beach the day I wore my hat for the first time and photographed it here, and it stayed firmly and comfortably in place.  I never felt it was in danger of flying away!
The sizing in this pattern works, y’all!!!
incidentally there is a just-there dog in the below picture  ;)
Some advice for those wishing to re-purpose those long skinny jeans leg pieces into a new sewing project requiring wider pieces?  I recommend doing all the piecing for each component, using your pattern piece as a rough guide as to where and how much to add on, and leaving at least a few centimetres leeway around all the edges.  Stick religiously to cutting the joining edges and sewing seams along the grainline of the fabric AND ensure fabric nap is consistent.   After sewing pieces together, lay the patchworked piece down flat and only then accurately cut out the pattern piece.  This way is much easier than accurately cutting out little part-pieces and then trying to join them together to fit the pattern piece.  J

Hat; Vogue 8844, ivory corduroy
Top; the bamboo shoot top, Pattern Magic by Tomoko Nakamichi, white linen, details here
Shorts; Burda 7723 slightly modified, embroidered yellow cotton, details here

Pattern Description:
Four lined hats, each offered in XS, S, M and L.  A; contrast lining, D; contrast band and bow.
Pattern Sizing:
XS 52cm (20.5 in), S 55cm (21.5 in); M 57cm (22.5 in); L 60cm (23.5 in)  I made the S.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you had finished sewing it?
Yes. I made view C, leaving off the chin straps.
Were the instructions easy to follow?
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
It is a nice stylish hat, easy to make.  The slightly shaped top and crown lend a chic, vaguely Indiana Jones-ish air to the hat.
Really, there is absolutely nothing to dislike about this pattern; it’s a hat, and it works!
Fabric Used:
Cotton corduroy
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
None.  But if a wider brimmed hat was desired; it would be a cinch to just add a few centimeters on to the outer edge of the brim curve to achieve this.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I expect so, and yes  :)
This is a great basic pattern which I think will be very useful. I made mine in ivory corduroy for a summery-looking, wide-brimmed sunhat, but as illustrated on the pattern envelope it would work equally well made up in tweed or a richly coloured velvet or some other winter appropriate fabric to make a smart version for winter.  

let's play spot the dog again

One Week One Cat

Monday's cat ...
Tuesday's cat....
and finally; Sunday's cat

A natural to the modelling business, yes?

This is an ode to One Week One Pattern; brainchild of Tilly and the Buttons 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Paper dolls

8th - 13th February
(if you're new, I've pledged to wear only clothes handmade by me this year and to sketch my daily outfits in my Fashionary.  I'm calling this the paper doll project)

Black Issey Miyake dress, gold stilettos
aqua dress with wave-y welted pockets
blue top, hot pink shorts
purple-brown dress, ecru scarf
blue dress
Japanese print dress

I apologise if it seems like everything is way too repetitive with my paper dolls' daily outfits.  The fact is that I am not a fashion blogger; I'm making all my own clothes and so my wardrobe is really not all that chocka with stuff.  I am going to be repeating myself, on a regular basis.  But y'know what?? I'm absolutely fine with that.  It matters far more to me that I have a small number of garments to suit any particular combination of expected activities and weather conditions and man, it's been hot!!!... and that I love and value each of those garments highly enough to reach for them over and over.

And then, there are the special occasion pieces, which by their very definition are not meant to be frequently worn.
I included above a black Issey Miyake dress that was worn twice during the week, for evening wear.  Firstly, our family went to a swish-o restaurant to celebrate my daughter's birthday on Friday (thank you to the commenters who wished her a happy birthday!), and secondly, we hosted a big party for her at home last Saturday.  The party was formal; rellies* all arrived dressed to the nines, all the girls in gorgeous little cocktail dresses and towering stilettos, all the boys in suits.  Cassie looked lovely in a dress I had made about six years ago and all my boys wore shirts made by me (happiness!)  Of course the hors d'oeuvres wielding, drinks topper-upperering, cake bearer (moi) had to look presentable too... so I frocked up in my serious LBD and gold stilettos, hair up in a chic, messy bun.
The party went like a blast!!  lots of laughter and chatter, cool jazz music and dancing, funny speeches and good food.  The cleanup was fabulously easy.  Our children are at the age where their friends are quite civilised now.   I had to laugh; the following day, Craig said to me; "... and no one threw up so it was a good party"  I was like "ohhh, we have such low expectations!"

*transl. "rellies" = relatives

Monday, February 11, 2013

Liberty and crochet set

This is my new lingerie set, made in Wiltshire Liberty tana lawn, colour Cranberry.  I bought the fabric from Tessuti's in Melbourne whilst we were there last year, along with the Maker's Journal Tried & True knickers pattern.  This pattern is also available directly from the designer here.
The bra is a slightly modified version of KwikSew 3300; modified to take into account the fact that I've used a non stretchy woven fabric.
I've been dying to have a go making Liberty lingerie ever since I spotted the knickers pattern but have been nervous to adapt my bra pattern, at least until I had a bit more lingerie experience under my belt.
btw, readers might like to know that 60cm of Liberty lawn easily makes one 34A bra plus two pairs of size 10 knickers.  And there are scraps aplenty left over to make adorable little pot pourri pouches and things like that, if like me, you are not the type to throw away even the smallest scraps of fabrics as precious as Liberty.

I'ver written a review of the pattern below... but all you need to know is that I absolutely love these knickers!  They might look a bit bunchy and granny-like when pictured off-the-body, but seriously; these are the very definition of cute when they are on and particularly if you have chosen a fresh pretty print like this.  And, surprisingly for un-stretchy undies; very very comfy.
This piccie below is not of me but is the model pictured on the pattern envelope.  But naturally my derriere looks just like this too ...
They are super easy to make.
I did make a knickers muslin.  Anyone who knows me will realise how slightly earth-shattering this is... but well. we are talking about Liberty here.  Hello??  This stuff is expensive.  Beautiful, but expensive!  But hey, you're worth it, right?
I made teeny adjustments to the pattern to fine-tune fit.  I also re-drafted the front and the back to have a longer crotch from the front, and accordingly reduced the crotch length in the back.  This allowed me to install a much more substantial panty liner.  That's just a personal preference not necessarily a critique of the pattern.

Above: at left; the amended pattern with altered crotch position and a longer panty liner: at right is the original pattern.  With fair dinkum miniature panty liner.  btw; trace the pattern then flip over to trace the other half to get a full back and full front, I did this for my amended pattern and it is much easier to get an efficient layout on the bias!
The bra:
It's actually pretty easy to adapt the KwikSew pattern to work in non-stretch fabrics too!  An underwired, cotton voile muslin worn for an hour about the house taught me that the stretch factor in a bra is best situated nearly all around at the back and only a small proportion of wearing ease is necessary at the front.  I found I like the front of my bras to be quite firm and structural, and using non stretch fabric here works well... but you do need some stretch and wearing ease at the back.  So I made a modified 34A and lengthened the back bands by roughly 4cm each at the centre back; and used the same lengths of lingerie elastic as recommended in the pattern, pinned in quarters, then gently stretched to fit whilst sewing to the lawn.
Above; the lengthened bands with the same lengths of lingerie elastic as stipulated for a stretch band... see, it doesn't look too oddly puckered.  While I am wearing it, the bands have a gently gathered appearance; obviously some gathering is necessary to avoid putting strain on this delicate fabric.
I wanted the fronts to have something white and lacey and not be all solid Liberty, so found some crocheted lace, another long term resident in my lace box.  I backed the lace centre front piece with beige voile leftover from this top, which is kinda invisible against my skin.  The obsessive in me demanded that I construct my underwire casings like so...
so that on the insides of the bra the underwire casing is camouflaged as much as possible
 and there is no bright Liberty peeking through the lace from the right side of the bra whilst it is being worn.
A layer of white cotton jersey knit of a low stretch factor is sandwiched between the Liberty cups and facings; for a small degree of padding.  The edges of the padding pieces are abutted hard up to the stitching lines and hand-basted to the stitching, before machine stitching inside the edge, to the seam allowances.  This ensures the thicker jersey edges abut each other but with no overlapping which would create "ridges", and no gaps which would create a "ditch".
The shoulder straps are stabilised with iron-on interfacing and topstitched down the centre lengthways, and the stretch factor is provided by satin stitching a length of ordinary braided elastic to the back lower ends.
I chose a narrow, navy blue satin ribbon to make little decorative bows for the set.  This picks up the tiny navy blue touches in this very pretty print.
So; the theme for February's stash-busting is Love!  I'm thinking this luvverly, sorta Valentine-y set fits the bill quite well, don't you??

Bra; KwikSew 3300, Liberty tana lawn and cotton crochet, my review of this pattern here
Knickers; The Maker's Journal Tried & True knickers; Liberty tana lawn

Pattern Description:
This pattern is by The Maker's Journal.
Everyday knickers; cut to sit low on the hip and cover the entire bottom.  This pattern has been developed for lightweight woven fabrics.
Pattern Sizing:
Australian sizes 8-14 (hips 88cm-108cm); I cut the size 10
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you had finished sewing it?
Pretty much.
Were the instructions easy to follow?
The instructions are a bit simplistic; if you know how to attach knicker elastic already then you will be fine.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
The fact that this pattern is for woven fabrics is marvellous, opening a whole new world of lingerie in Liberty.  I love that they are regular bikini knickers; and do not look baggy like bloomers or boxer shorts.  They look like real knickers.  As well, these are really very very cute!!
The panty liner piece was too tiny for my tastes, and I modified the pattern to allow a more substantial one.
The required lengths of elastic for legs and waist are not provided with the pattern and you have to visit the company blog to find out how to calculate this information.  Basically; it's the measurement of the openings, minus a third.
Kinda oddly, the instructions did contain directions on how to attach a patch pocket onto your knickers.  Yep.  It outlines how to sew a patch pocket to your undies, but nothing on the measurements of knicker elastic, and how to attach the same.  Hmmm, interesting priorities there...
Fabric Used:
Liberty tana lawn, cotton jersey for the gusset
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I lengthened the crotch on the lower front and accordingly shortened the crotch on the back.  This allowed me to install a much more substantial panty liner.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Definitely, I will be sewing this one again and again and again!  I do recommend this pattern to others.  Just bear in mind that the elastic measurements are not provided and you have to MYO  (measure your own)  
I love it!!   I will use this pattern over and over again; no doubt about that.  I do love Liberty prints, but the cost of them here is prohibitive.  Being able to run up a pretty lingerie set in this very lovely stuff is the perfect way to add a touch of Liberty prettiness to your life, in a very wearable and useful form; without breaking the bank.  I'm happy!

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Remember I mentioned I had bought something rather exciting, which I was dying to show off here??
Well, here she is!
Yesterday was Cassie's birthday, and I knew that she has coveted a dressmaker's dummy for a while.  Actually I have been searching in a lukewarm sort of a way for a few years; ever since her birthday two years ago actually (eek!)....  poor Cassie!  Well, this birthday is an important one so I got serious at last.  And I didn't want to settle for something tacky; I wanted to get her really nice one; solid, well made, classy, attractive; one to last a lifetime.  In my opinion, a good dress form is just about indispensable to the serious seamster.  And even if you're not, they can just look nice standing in the corner displaying a funky dress or scarf or necklace too!
Cassie has named her Clarissa.  She is the small Lady Valet,  from Wm. C. Jackson and Co; an Australian company.  She is height and width adjustable.  Isn't she gorgeous?!
 It couldn't have been easier, I put in an order, paid, and a box turned up a week later on my doorstep.  No fuss, no hassles whatsoever.
Well, no hassles if you don't count that it took me a few years to find her, that is!
My first port of call was to check out Dummies WA, the local business that made my own beautiful, solid-as-a-rock Bessie, who has appeared here on my blog loads of times.  But her maker has retired and the business is no more  :((
I looked briefly at the ones in Spotlight, but they only had some very ugly, very flimsy models, covered in dreadful bright red nylon.  Aesthetics are important to me; and of course you can make a stretch knit cover to hide a hideous colour; in fact I will probably make a cover for Clarissa too.  But flimsiness cannot be fixed!
So I ventured online.. scary stuff.  I'm nervous about purchasing something big and expensive online.  I prefer to buy local, deal with a real person, and have the thing right there and then; but I couldn't!
There were some really good European and British companies, which did not seem to post to Australia.  And probably would have been astronomical if they had.  I found a few really beautiful Japanese ones, but I couldn't work out how to translate the websites.
So I was pretty relieved when I stumbled upon this one.  She seemed perfect in her picture online, and she is!
Cassie is thoroughly stoked; therefore so am I  :)
Incidentally, Cassie is wearing here her own version of the Burdastyle 05/2010 sundress 114.  I made another version of this same pattern for her here, and one for myself here.
Please note: this is not an endorsement; although I am a very happy customer! and I did not receive any freebies or discounts.
Later edit: below, a better picture of Cassie's dress.  I forgot I had taken this one, from last Christmas :)