Sunday, March 28, 2010

White and red ...

I finished the white dress this morning. It fits me better than Vera and I'm beginning to realise how useless she is. If I can talk someone in to helping me, I think I need a duct tape dummy. Overall, I'm happy with this dress. The seaming all matches and I'm very pleased with my work. As I mentioned yesterday, I ignored the instructions and did this my way, resulting in perfect machine inserted lining and not one stitch of handsewing. Of course, that's not including my embroidery and beading. Despite all the wrinkles on Vera, it actually fits me pretty well. I cut a straight size 10, with no alterations, so it's surprising it fits so well. After a wash and a press, this will probably go into rotation as a work dress. It doesn't have the 'sexy' I was after.

Here's a close up of the bodice. I had actually planned a detailed red and black design based on a piece of traditional art from the Gitskan people of the Pacific Northwest (USA). My inspiration was this frog image. I absolutely love art from this region and I even had a wedding ring carved in a design of this style (a wolf).

On Friday I was looking through an old BWOF (I think May 08) for a dress pattern and I saw an article about sashiko. It showed a blue on white checked design in simple running stitch and in that instant I changed my mind. I drove down to Moo Moo Stitches with an image of a pearlescent thread and lo and behold, they had exactly what I wanted. While I was waiting to pay, I noticed a clearance bin full of beads. There was one lonely vial white opalescent beads. This design was born.

So, what did I learn in making this dress? My hips are higher and squarer than normal people. My sewing room is dirtier than I think. If you plan to make a garment with stretch fabric, then muslin it with stretch fabric (it's too big). Cap sleeves do not suit me. I still love sateen.

Disappointed that I didn't get 'sexy', I started on this.

It's Vogue 2899 ( well, part of the front anyway) that I've had in my queue for just over a year and is proof that I am barking mad. I need one more dress to finish my SWAP. I had planned a black tropical wool dress from a pattern that is muslined and ready to go. With a month to go, I have four garments to finish both mine and Grant's SWAPs. It's lunacy that I am substituting a completely unfitted and very complicated dress.

This lightweight red rayon jersey was bought for $1.95 a yard from recently. You'll probably see Kathi make something in this same fabric soon, as we seem to keep buying the same fabrics. I'd originally planned a wrap dress for summer but as often happens with me, the fabric and the pattern were near each other and I was looking for something 'sexy' and it just sorta happened. Given what I said earlier about my high square hips, perhaps I should not be making a dress with gathers in that very area, but we've already established that I'm nuts. To make matters worse, I decided just now that I would like to wear this on Thursday night as I'm going to Brisbane to see Lyle Lovett. We shall see.

Apropos of nothing, this is my new favourite notion. I bought this about a year ago at Lincraft in Brisbane (which I think has gone now) and only just used it this week. The worst part about jeans making for me is the belt loops. If you can turn a stiff denim tube, I'd like to know how you do it. I usually overlock one side and fold the fabric into thirds, then topstitch. With this stuff, I overlocked on side as usual, then fold the raw side in one third. I ironed this tape on, then peeled off the paper, folded the other side down and pressed. Perfect! I have seen someone make beltloops faced with a different fabric (the same as he used for the pockets). I think it was Brian of Brian Sews. Next time I make jeans I will try that. It's time for dinner and then I might just make it back down to my sewing room to work on that dress.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Seriously, what was I thinking?

This is Vogue 8594. I love the dress, I've muslined it and it fits perfectly. The fabric is my beloved sateen and my work is very good. Why did I choose white? I don't wear white. I thought I could. It's just so WHITE.

You probably can't see the detail, but the bodice is embroidered and beaded. I'd planned something entirely different and then this just came into my head and before I knew what I was doing I was buying white pearlescent embroidery thread and white pearlescent beads. On a WHITE dress.

Maybe when I should stop worrying until I finish it tomorrow.

While I'm complaining, though, I will whinge about pattern instructions. I read the instructions for this dress twice and then put them carefully back in the envelope. Why do pattern companies persist in telling us to do so much handsewing when I can completely insert this lining by machine?

Come back tomorrow and see how it turns out. I'm going to drink some RED wine now.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The last pair of jeans ...

I'm a little tired of sewing jeans. This is the last pair of pants for Grant's SWAP. I didn't get a decent shot before he packed them to take to Melbourne. The fabric that I used for the pocket bag and fly bit comes from a shirt I made when I first started sewing again in earnest about twelve years ago now. I paid $30 a metre and that was a lot more money then. The fabric has held up and the shirt was worn by me for two years before I lost weight and passed it onto a more boobified friend, who is still wearing it.

With the house to myself for four days I am doing a lot of things. Today I cut out the white sateen dress for my SWAP and started on the embellishment, which I hope to have finished tonight. I've traced a couple of patterns and I aim to muslin one more dress for my SWAP. Perhaps I shouldn't have left it to now to do that. I have a backup if it fails. More tomorrow.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Grant's Pants ...

This weekend is all about Grant's pants. In his usual fashion, after saying how I needn't bother sewing for him becasuse he has plenty of clothes, he suddenly decided that he has nothing to wear. Grant is taking his 8 year old nephew, Enzo (his father is a Ferrari fan), to Melbourne for Formula One next weekend and now he needs a new wardrobe. These shorts are part of his SWAP as are the jeans I will make him today. I'm pretty happy with these, the pattern gets a little more refined each time I make them, although Grant insists there is something wrong with the pattern because his belly sticks out. You will notice that he never models his garments. I told him I need shots of him wearing them at the end of SWAP and that one comment has prompted a hasty return to the gym and an early morning surf every day this week. I once titled a post Vanit, Thy Name is Man ...

I used a quilting cotton for the pockets and fly thing and I used black satin binding on the waistband. The overlock thread seems a brilliant blue in this shot, but it actually matches quite well. After last weekend and the thread issues with my machine, I tried a few different threads. I bought a reel of denim thread just to see how it worked and I am complete convert. I didn't have a sample of fabric with me when I chose it and I fluked a perfect match. It's a Gutermann thread and I'm going to use it every time I sew denim now, the stitches just disappear. If they make it in larger reels I will buy it for overlocking next time.

I'm still on my mission to knit everything in my stash. These little beanies take about 1 and a quarter of a 50g ball of 8ply. The pattern came from Winter 2009 edition. I knit a lot of things from their website. if you're trying to get rid of small amounts of yarn they have loads of patterns for caps, scarves even headbands (as well as garment patterns).

This is the worst time of year in the subtropics. The weather man tells us that we will have several days of fine weather so I have opened the house, have all the dehumidifiers running and hopefully the house will stop smelling damp.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Slow day

I've managed to do very little today. I did spend a lot of time avoiding the things I said I would do today. When I did sit down to sew Grant's shorts I realised I had bought the wrong size zip, so I moved on to the pockets on the back. Then my machine started playing up. It doesn't seem to like the thread I'm using. The thread I bought for topstitcvhing is fine, but it doesn't like the other one. These photos show the sum total of todays sewing. I got the front pockets done and here you can see the black and white quilting cotton I've used. The back pockets are one and I've topstitched in a pale grey. I tested a few colours, but this was the one I liked most. You can even see the green nail polish I decided to wear for St Patrick's Day.

Finally, just because I know my wildlife creeps people out, I thought I'd show you a phasmid who has been walking all over my sewing table today. I was worried I would squash him, so after an hour of nudging him out of my way repeatedly, I moved him to the other side of the room. This shot was taken as he made his way across the sofa and back towards my table. He's only a little one, about 15cm long. It's Sunday night and I'm back to the television for knitting in front of Collectors.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Still sewing SWAP ...

This is Vogue 8489, which I managed to put together in half hour segments scattered throughout the week. It looks better on me than on Vera. Like most people on Pattern Review who made this dress, I left out the zipper. I cut a straight 10, but in hindsight I should have cut the 8. It's a little loose around the midsection. Everyone who has made this dress says how low cut it is, so I sewed the front bands together so that is covers my bra. It's still low, but at a point where I can wear it. The curved band droops a little low in the back, but I think it will be OK. it hangs quite nicely, but on me the band is neither at empire level or at my waist, but I think that's how it supposed to sit. I also frankenpatterned a different sleeve onto the sleeve head as I didn't like the length or shape of the original.

I should have more to show tomorrow ...

Monday, March 8, 2010

I have actually made some things ...

This week during my television watching evenings I knitted this shrug. Sadly, my poor camera work does not show the pattern. There is a lovely chevron pattern knitted into it which points downwards, making this otherwise shapeless garment way more flattering than it appears here on Vera. It was knitted in one piece, folded in half and then stitched together at the sides. The really wonderful thing about this is that the yarn (a totally acrylic ribbon type yarn) came from a top I bought easily 12 years ago and never ever wore. A few months ago I decided to un ravel it and roll it into balls. I found this free pattern on the internet somewhere (I think it was the Unicorn website) and miraculously the two ended up in the same part of the room at the same time, telling me that they should join forces and become this.

This afternoon when I came home from work I decided to work on some of the things I cut out last weekend. This jacket is from Vogue 1020. I never thought I would make this jacket, but another serendipitous moment brought the fabric and pattern together. Originally I had purchased this cotton knit for a wrap dress, but it has a crisper hand than I had realised. The Vogue pattern just happened to be there as I unpacked the box and I knew it would work for this fabric. I'm not sure I will wear it tied up, but as an alternative to a cardigan it is perfect to slip on over a dress or top at this time of year. It's fairly fitted across the shoulders and because it is crisp, it wears more like a jacket than a knit top, so it is great for work. I can see this becoming a staple this autumn. I may even slip this into my SWAP instead of the red coat I had planned.

Next up I have to finish pants for Grant's SWAP. All I have to do for him is make two more pairs of pants and a jacket (which I still haven't muslined). My SWAP needs more work (ie 4 dresses and a coat). It's going to be a busy 6 weeks!