Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Glad to see the back of this year ...

I don't have any pictures of my dress or current sewing to show today. Two close deaths this past week have rendered me incapable of much at all. My mother passed away just before Christmas and my oldest and dearest friend, who was closer than any family member, died this past Monday.

I do have pictures of the finished dress and the therapeutic sewing I've been doing, but right now I can't be arsed plugging the camera in and uploading. It's hot and humid and I'm too weary, so you'll have to wait until next year.

Happy New Year to anyone who might read this. I look forward to a bright and happy 2009 and wish you all the same.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Nearly there ...

The progress on Vera's Vogue dress has been slow this week. I've changed my mind about several things many times, but now have a simple result that I'm happy with. Special thanks to Carolyn, whose suggestion of using organza ribbon under the diamantes helped me figure out what to do with the straps. In the end I made self fabric binding and handstitched the stones to it. It doesn't photograph well, but here it is. It fits me better than it fits Vera.

To go with the dress, I've almost finished a bag. I used the teardrop kit from Nicole Mallieu. I've made one of her bags before and will make them again because they are cute, easy to make and I get a real kick out it. This one is made from the same fabric as the dress and is finished with clear glass beads, which also don't photgraph well. I haven't decided what to make the strap out of yet, but I think I'll keep it simple, either self fabric or black cord.

I might make a cape/shrug sort of thing tomorrow because Sydney has been a bit cold lately. Up here, we're getting unbelievably hot and humid weather, so I know I will feel the cold in Sydney. I'm not sure what pattern I'll use yet, but as I only have a week I need to make a decision ...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

SWAP on hold ...

With a 50th birthday party looming and a dress not even cut out, I've put the SWAP on hold for the weekend to start on this ...

It's Vogue 7365. This is the shell so far, no pressing, no seam finishing, no lining and no straps. I've been investigating diamantes on a string for the straps and now I've got the dress this far, I'll take it with me to the store and see what I think. I particularly like the back view of this dress. Here's a shot of the ass ruching.

That 40kg I damn near broke my back squatting has all been worth it now I've tried this on. It will have a vintage marquisite leaf clipped onto the back. I'm making a matching bag, which I'll show in my next post but right now my mind is fixed on finding the right shoes. I happen to have a blingy pair that I love to death. Jock, what do you think???? They're not too much, are they??? I have about six other options (in black) in my wardrobe, but I like the silver and if these don't work I may be forced to buy a pair of ridiculously high silver heels.

And just because I couldn't help myself, I made this dress. I think it's BWOF 5/2008 117. I never really liked the dress in the magazine, but I bought this fabric at the op shop for $2 this week and really wanted to make a dress with it. I just happened to have the BWOF magazine out to look at something else and I thought I'd give it a try. I haven't hemmed it or pressed it properly (seems to be a recurrent theme for me) but that's my plan for this evening so I can wear it to work tomorrow.

Let me know what you think about the shoes ...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Weekend sewing ...

I've had a fairly productive weekend, sewing wise. I've traced off a load of patterns, I've cut out several garments, I've muslined a special event dress, I've made the shell of a jacket and I've finished a blouse.

The blouse is BWOF 1-2008-108 and is the second top from my SWAP. I've made this before in short and long sleeved versions and its safe to say this is probably now my TNT blouse pattern. It comes together fairly quickly and it fits me straight, if you don't count the extra centimetre I added in to the bicep band. I eased up on the weight I was lifting with my biceps so I didn't get too big, but my trainer tells me it's not my biceps getting bigger, it's my triceps! At least they won't be waving in the breeze!

I've been inspired by Cidell's wonderful tuxedo front blouse. She mentioned that she found it hard to do an all white blouse. Although my blouse is cream (yes, I know you can't tell from my crappy photo), like Cidell I still struggled with the all one colour thing. So I topstitched with rainbow thread. This photo doesn't show the full range of the thread colours, but I really like it. I opted to do the button holes in cream, although I will admit I seriously considered the rainbow thread. The buttons are off white with a pearl effect through them that shows pink and blue. I tried to photograph them but couldn't make it happen, so you'll have to believe me. Looking back at these photos, I realise that Vera's tits are way more ... perky ... than mine. Perhaps that's why I'm having trouble using her to actually fit garments!

I love, love, love this blouse and will probably wear it tomorrow. After I've pressed it properly. You'll see this pattern a lot more.

The jacket I've started is Kwik Sew 3334. This has got to be the easiest jacket I've ever made. The pattern is unlined, but I'm lining it in a white matt satin that I found recently at a really cheap price. Can't remember how much, but I remember it was cheap so I bought a lot.
The pattern doesn't call for shoulder pads, but I've shoved a pair in and I think they help. These are a little too big, you can see them poking out at the neckline, but I will get a smaller pair tomorrow. The fabric is from Fashionista Fabrics and is called Spring Tweed. I've never sewed with a boucle like this, but I am very happy with the results so far. Although you can hardly see them, I even did bound buttonholes.

I'm really looking forward to finishing this one, even though I won't be able to wear it for six months!

The other thing I did this weekend was make a muslin for Vogue 7365. I'm making View C to wear to a 50th birthday party in Sydney in a few weeks. It's being held in an art deco building, so I decided to go with an art deco theme. This dress has all the classic art deco styling from the 30's, with the bias cut and lines. I've chosen black satin back crepe or crepe back satin and the straps will be a string of diamantes, with a diamante art deco leaf brooch (borrowed from a friend) at the back. I'm making a bag to go with it, but I'll post about that later in the week. That's all for now, I'm off to have a glass of red wine and cut out a skirt.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Vera's first SWAP garment

I've completed my first garment for my SWAP. It's orange. It's Kwik Sew 3497. I like it but don't love it. I'm not sure I'd make the mock wrap front again. Quite frankly, that much fabric over my stomach in this climate is way too hot. I'll make the plain front though. I'll also use clear elastic on the armholes as well as the neck. It gapes a little. It fits me better than Vera, but it still gapes.

Cidell and I had a discussion this week about making separates that languish in the closet because we have nothing to pair with it. For this reason alone, I have undertaken the SWAP and as Cidell said, we will have a workable wardrobe if it kills us. This top sat on my coffee table still pinned to the pattern for a week. I have never left a garment pinned to a pattern before and I don't want to make a habit of it. Part of the reason for that was that I'm not terribly confident with knits. I can do loads of things that others find difficult, but knits scare the crap out of me. I seem to have mastered the twin needle thing finally, so I'm rather happy with the way the neckline has turned out.

Apropos of nothing - here is the view from my sewing room. I took the picture from outside because the window is filthy and you wouldn't have seen past the cobwebs.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

An addition to Vera's summer wardrobe ...

I've finished another frock for Vera, once again made with Vogue 9668. I think this is View C. The fabric does not show up as warmly as it is in real life. I've had a bit of a fascination with orange for a while now and it has sneaked into my wardrobe in many ways. This morning I was looking at my favourite blogs and noticed that Erica has posted a lovely photo from her sewing room showing all the luscious autumn colours that I never get to see here in the subtropics. I am very envious of the view from her sewing room. When I was photographing Vera in her new dress I tried to capture a little of the background I see every day. Not much orange there.

I also took a picture of the back so you could see how badly I mismatched the pattern. I noticed when I was uploading, that you can see the back of Grant's crappy old orange kombi in the background as well as Molly the orange dog. Oh and the tree hanging over Vera's head is an African tulip tree which I just realised has orange flowers (and should not be in an Australian rural garden).

That's all for now. I'm off to start on my SWAP ...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

SWAP 2009

Foolishly or not, I've decided to have a go at a real life, full on SWAP. That means I need to make eleven garments between now and April 30 next year. As I didn't realise this was happening until last Friday, my plans are only half baked, but here they are any way.

I need to make the following;

1 jacket or coat

4 bottoms

6 tops

They all must suit a week in my real life. Here's what I propose;

1 jacket made from a lovely spring tweed purchased from Fashionista Fabrics. I have a few ideas for this one, but will probably go for Kwik Sew 3334.

I'll make a skirt in the same tweed from an old Vogue Claude Montana pattern I found at the op shop for 20c. It has a nicely tapered skirt, rather than straight, which seems a little more flattering. I may also make an a line or box pleat skirt from a very old New Look pattern that I have made to death. Depends on what fabric I find - I'm thinking orange.

I'll definitely make a denim skirt from BWOF 1-2008-109.

I'll definitely make jeans from an as yet undetermined pattern.

I'll probably make a pair of Vogue Alice and Olivia pants from a caramel stretch sateen ($4 at the op shop).

Tops are undecided. Most likely I'll get BWOF 1-2008-108 in there somewhere, although I may lose the puff sleeves and do regular ones. I have a whole pile of patterns for tops and blouses that I'll audition in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, here is my very rudimentary story board so far ...

Go Patterns

I've just completed another dress for Vera from the fantastic Go Patterns 4001 dress. This is the second time I've made it. Last time was in orange and gold poly satin This time I've made it in a day fabric, in fact a piece of grey and black striped cotton blend loosely woven something or other that I picked up at an op shop for $4 (and I still have plenty to make a blouse). I had a recycled invisible zip in my stash and the white poly lining I used came from a 10metre length I bought a few weeks ago for about $2 a metre. The grey thread I had in my stash (that is a perfect match) came from a plastic bag of about six half used reels of mixed colours that I bought at an op shop for 50c. All in all, the dress cost me around $5.

I'm pretty happy with the way this turned out and was pleasantly surprised to see that the stripes matched up and I didn't even try!

Here's a picture of me wearing it with a pair of favourite black slingbacks and a little cropped cardigan that has become a fast favourite this spring. It's really hard to take a decent picture of yourself in the mirror, but at least it gives you an idea of how it looks. I've tried it with red shoes and cardigan as well, but I couldn't get a decent picture at all, so I gave up. In this picture you can also see the mirror is part of a beautiful vintage wardrobe that I bought recently for $90 (it's around 1930's) and restored to use as a linen press in my bathroom. Sorry about the mess in the background.
That's all for now. I'm back off down to my sewing room to finish planning my SWAP. Watch out for a post outlining my plans ...

Monday, October 13, 2008

At last some sewing ...

Vera has a lovely new dress. It's made from Vogue 9668. I've mixed two views, using the top from B and the skirt from C. I originally wanted to do B, the halter style with the fuller skirt, but the fabric has a strong border and it couldn't be cut diagonally without looking silly. Then I tried to do a gathered dirndl skirt but it just looked silly. So I did the straight skirt.

It looks a little like an apron in this picture as Vera is not the same shape as me. I have bigger hips and my boob area seems to be shaped differently. On me it actually looks a little 50's bombshell as it is rather ... fitted.

It's completely lined and I used a method for the skirt that means there is no hem - I guess it's a bagged lining for a dress. First time I've done it and it seems to work very well. I am planning a little bolero/jacket thing to wear as halterneck dresses are great outdoors, but a little cool in airconditioning.

I have made other things recently, but they've all been crappy so I am not bothering with showing them to anyone. I should have more sewing complete this coming weekend ... at least that's the plan ...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What I've been sewing lately ...

This pile of stuff on the chair is bits and pieces of six shirt muslins and a pattern that has been chopped and restuck so many times there is more tape than paper. This is part of an outfit I am making for the too muscular man in my life. When I say too muscular, I don't really mean that he's TOO muscly, it's just that he's too well built for a regular shirt pattern. His chest and shoulders are about six sizes bigger than his waist, so to get a pattern to fit his chest, the waist goes around him three times. So I've chopped and redrawn, done a sloping shoulder adjustment - years of weight lifting have created a big wedge of muscle near his neck that has become the biggest fitting problem I've ever encountered - and now I think I have a reasonable fit.

I was a little suprised to find that there is a complete dearth of sewing patterns for men. I can find voluminous business shirts and basic pants, but what about funky, modern wear for modern men who don't want to dress like they're off to the RSL or Bowls Club. BWOF has the odd shirt and jacket, but even they are not too exciting.

Where are the panelled, fitted shirts for men, the knit shirts and tops? I couldn't even find a vintage body shirt pattern for jersey. Are the only people who sew for men making clothes for middle aged men with beer guts and no arse and no interest in how they dress?

My muscle man has chosen this fabric for his shirt. It's a little more loud in the flesh. There is quite a bit of glittery gold in it. The ladies in the quilting shop (it's a quilting cotton) where he bought it were quite excited and he's promised to model it for them when it's done.

The shirt is part of an outfit that DH has wanted for some time. It is to go with a buttercup yellow safari suit that I am in the middle of making. It's from a vintage pattern Simplicity 7647 which I forgot to photograph to include here.

I was relieved and pleased to find that the pants fit straight from the pattern, with the exception of the six inches I had to chop off the length. (DH is a little height challenged). You'll see a picture of his perfect little behind in buttercup yellow suiting very soon. The jacket had to be widened about 50cm, but it's been a relatively simple alteration after the shirt. Two days worth of top stitching has paid off and tonight I will put in the sleeves and lining.

It's been fun and the results are worth the effort, not to mention the fact that DH is thrilled. The ladies in the shop where he bought the yellow fabric are convinced this outfit is for a fancy dress party, but no, he just wants a yellow 70's safari suit and I didn't have the heart to refuse.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

July sewing still going ...

My July sewing is progressing nicely. Here's what I've achieved so far.

This is the Vogue 8409 dress nearly completed, save for the hem which will be sewn tonight whilst watching television. It's been a really easy pattern to construct, even with the addition of a self drafted lining. I put in a regular zipper, but then took it out and put in an invsible one. Much better that way. I only lined the front of the bodice and the skirt, not the back of the bodice. I'm not sure why I decided to do that, but it works fine. Depending on what I make it out of next time, I may do the same again or I may line it. The cuffs need extra handstitching. This has been the only time I found myself frustrated by the microfibre. Otherwise, it's been a dream.

Here is the other thing I've worked on this weekend. The chenille knit long cardigan dress thing. It looks like a sack on Vera, but it actually looks quite nice on with a wide crocodile belt and my brown and caramel FMHFM boots. This is from a vintage pattern, the manufacturer and number of which I have forgotten in the time it took me to walk upstairs from my sewing room to the computer room.

I hope to have a pair of hotpants made soon to go with this, although I don't have a pattern in mind.

Next up is BWOF 1/2008 116 from this golden brown paisley jersey as modelled here by Vera.

I'll be cutting this out and have some progress shots in the next day or two.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

There is a July sewalong

Thanks to Margaret left a comment on my blog, I now know there is a July sewalong.

Here's my official notification of what I intend to sew;

The Vogue dress shown in my previous post
A gold knit/chenille long cardigan/dress thing from a 70's vintage pattern. I aim to wear it over the dress or it can stand alone as a dress (I think - it may be frumpy - we will see)
A pair of pants of perhaps winter shorts - think hotpants and boots with the long 70's cardigan
The BWOF wrap top from the JCC that I rather foolishly decided not to make at the time

I will post some sort of story board tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Still doing it in July ...

The June Capsule Contest is over and judging has commenced. The standard of work is spectacular and in a way I'm not sorry to have pulled out, even though my garments were techinically complete in the time frame. My work is simply not up to the standard of the others.

There has been talk of continuing the sewing spree into July, but I don't know if it's official or not. So I'm challenging myself to my own July Capsule Contest. My aim is to complete a further four garments this month, to complement the previous garments and extend the wardrobe in another direction. Stitches Magazine does this regularly, each issue adding 4 - 6 garments so that by the end of the wardrobe (which may have spanned a whole year) the garments may not match the garments from the beginning, but form part of an extensive wardrobe that spans seasons.

To this end I am starting with a dress. It's Vogue 8409. I'm making the version in green using a lovely brown paisley microfibre I purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics .

I am quite liking Vogue patterns at the moment. After years of working mainly with Burda World of Fashion, it's rather nice to have complete instructions. I still trace my patterns off, rather than cutting them, because I find sometimes I need to make different sizes, depending on the fabric but this is relatively quick.

Here's the dress so far. It's gone together really easily. I decided to add a lining, so I drafted a pattern for a front bodice lining and used the skirt pattern for the skirt lining.

Here is Vera's latest dress without the sleeves. I love this fabric. Just yesterday, after sewing the bulk of the dress, I got a copy of Claire Schaeffer's book, Sew Any Fabric and in that book she talks about how hard it is to sew microfibre. I did not find that at all, in fact before I read the book I was trawling the internet looking for more microfibre because it was such a dream to work with. Here's a close up of the bodice, although my shitty photography makes it hard to see how nicely the folds sit.

I hope to add the sleeves tonight and finish the handstitching. It should look pretty good with the jacket from the JCC and new (from the opshop) pair of tan boots I bought today.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The best laid plans ...

In my haste to complete the June Capsule Contest, I neglected to check whether or not my garments would actually look any good together. They don't.

This is my skirt. It looks pretty crappy hanging on a hanger against my crappy curtains (which only go up in winter). It's Vogue 8426, which Karen made so much better than I did. It fits really nicely on me, not so on Vera. She's not made for wearing skirts, hence the picture on a hanger. I'll never sew this skirt in corduroy again, however. I think I'll try denim like Karen's.

Now, whilst my skirt goes really well with the jacket shown here in all it's completed glory, except for the thread trimming that happened after the pic

and it goes spectacularly well with the Go Patterns dress (which I love to pieces), it does not go with the Plan C blouse from last post. In fact, it looks really bad. It makes me look fat, old and frumpy. I'm not showing those pictures. The Plan C Blouse looks great with a slim fitting pair of jeans and the sexy patent leather ankle boots I bought last weekend. I might show you that outfit next time. In the meantime you get this.
This was taken before the jacket was finished and with a piece of brown and orange ribbon tied around the waist to see how it looked. Note my very messy sewing room and the completely filthy hearth in the background (which has not been cleaned since last winter). This outfit has necessitated the purchase of a pair of shoes with the dubious name Barbarella. I couldn't import the picture, so go over and have a look. I LOVE the shoes as much as I love the dress. With my matching handbag as shown last post, I will probably be too much orange, but I can live with that.

So I have withdrawn from the June Capsule Contest, but at least I can still vote. I've seen some wonderful wardrobes so far and there are many more to come, so I know it will be a hard choice.
I really enjoyed this experience and I've learned a great deal. The most important lesson I have learned is this;

Wardrobe planning is about more than artfully draping pieces of fabric across furniture to see if they 'go together'. You also need to consider your choice of styles and make sure they go together as well.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Bag and the Plan C Blouse

Here's my Plan C Blouse. It's BWOF 1/2008 style 107. I made this in the first week of June before I started the rest of the capsule, with the intention that I could wear it to work with the skirt and jacket. It looks pretty crappy on Vera, but it sits really nicely on me and is the most unbelievably soft and fine cotton. In hindsight, I should have used a slightly stiffer interfacing as the neck drops a little. I've also made version 108 from this same issue, which is the same blouse with short puffy sleeves and a cute round collar. It's a great style and the design detail on the front makes for a close and flattering fit.

Here's my accessory. It's made from a kit I purchased from and was incredibly easy to make. The picture on the right shows how it matches the walls in my living room. I highly recommend this bag to anyone. I've never made anything like it before and I would say it took me around three hours. The instructions are very detailed and at first seemed a little daunting, but I read them through twice before cutting a single thing, then spent about half an hour cutting the fabric and lining and checking the markings. When I started sewing, I worked through it step at a time and it was surprisingly simple. I love the results and can't wait to use it. I'm definitely going to make this bag again.
Stupid me forgot to photograph my skirt, so I'll post pictures of that tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Vera's orange dress

I'm pleased to say that I've finished the orange satin Go Patterns 4001 dress. This pattern went together like a dream. I made the size 10, which fits without alteration from the original pattern. I did shorten it considerably because I prefer to wear my dresses mid thigh. This is still a little longer than I usually wear, but the style of the dress needs a little length. The picture is not great as it was hard to photograph satin and not have it reflect. When the whole wardrobe is complete, I'll get someone to take pictures of me wearing it, so hopefully you will be able to see more.

I love this dress! I love this pattern! I already have fabric standing by to make another. It is such a versatile pattern. In a satin like this it makes a great dinner dress, but in a cotton it will make a fantastic summer work dress. I'm going to try it with a few belts and a ribbon as the pattern suggests.
I've also tried it on with the still unfinished swing jacket from last post and I really like the look. I'll post pictures of the two things together when all my hand sewing is complete.
Next up; the Vogue skirt. It's mostly constructed, I just need to put the zip in and the waistband. I decided this morning that I will line the skirt, so that's my first task tonight. Hopefully you will see that in a day or two.
So far, I appear to be on track to finish the JCC by June 30. If the handbag kit I ordered turns up before the weekend, that will be my accessory. If it doesn't, I will go with Plan B; a Vogue cap.
I am waivering about the top. I'm thinking of changing my mind about it and making something else ...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Vera's new jacket

Here's my dummy, Vera, modelling what will be her new jacket when it finally gets finished. So far, the shell is constructed and the lining sewn in. Neither the sleeves or bottom have been hemmed and the shoulder pads aren't sewin in yet because I want to try another pair and see if they are a better shape.

These pictures show Vera's jacket with no buttons, two large buttons and four smaller buttons. I'm still deciding on which and how many. The big and small buttons are the same, even though they look like different colours. They are vintage and unused, from a great op shop score some years ago. I think I'm leaning to the four smaller ones.

I've lined the jacket with orangey gold satin and I used the same fabric for the pocket bag to reduce the bulk, but also because I like seeing the satin peek out from the pocket to help break up the solidness of the jacket a little.
I've still got a long way to go on this capsule, but I don't feel too bad because the rest of the garments are easier than this one!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

June Capsule Contest

I've started this blog to try and keep myself on track with the June Capsule Contest I have entered. The goal is to make a four piece wardrobe and one accessory and they all have to match!

So far, my sewing has always been very random and not at all thought out. I see a pattern I like and I buy it, with no thought as to fabric choice. I see a piece of fabric I like and I buy it, with no thought as to what I will actually make out of it. As a result, I have boxes and boxes of fabric and patterns that I've collected over the years and never used because they don't go with anything.

In entering the June Capsule Contest, I am determined to make use of some of my rather large fabric stash at the same time as getting into the habit of making garments that actually match other things. I've tried to plan for full SWAPs but they are beyond me at the moment, so I am getting in training with a smaller wardrobe. If this works for me, I will just keep adding as I go.

The June Capsule Contest has a twist: no black. That turned out to be easier than expected.

So, without further ado, here is the story board for my June Capsule Contest. It has the rather unimaginative title, Tropical Winter.