Sunday, April 13, 2014

Chambray Obsession: A Spotty Camber

Readers, I dream in chambray at the moment. I see it everywhere. It haunts me, making me believe that every garment should be in chambray. And yet, I cannot find dark denim chambray anywhere. Tessuti had lovely pale stuff, but the colour was much too pale for me. Over summer I did find some dark coloured spotty chambray at Tessuti Surrey Hills. I bought the last of the roll - about 1.6m of it. I   had thought I would make a bomber jacket out of it, but then realised it was too fine.

So I decided to make another Camber Dress by Merchant and Mills. I wear my linen version so much I knew this would be a wardrobe staple, and it only takes about 1.5m of fabric.

Guess who loves her Santa hat so much it is being worn as a trans-seasonal, every day hat? Hint: it's not me or Bessie.  
I made it the same as my last one. Size 14 at the shoulders and a size 10 through the body. I accidentally cut it too short however, so I bound the hem to preserve as much length as possible.

Look at my spot matching down the back through the yoke and dress! Almost perfect.

I love this dress. The chambray is really soft. It is perhaps a smidge too short. I wore it to Little M's birthday party yesterday (a blog post on that to come!), and had to be a little careful with how I sat/bent etc., especially as it was a fine day (phew!) and I wasn't wearing tights.

So, my question is -- where do I find lovely dark plain chambray? Please, if you know, I need all the details!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Favourite Pants Copy

For a while now I have been wanting to do something different. Sew something different. Move a bit out of my comfort zone, learn a new skill etc. I don't really have the head space for this, as work is kicking my butt, but once I had the idea I had to start moving.

I decided to start up-skilling by copying a favourite pair of my pants - these relaxed fit, elastic-waist with a drawstring pants from Elk:

I own these - in the 'splatter' print pictured, in a black viscose, and I did own them in an apple-green colour, that I got to wear once. Only once because they met with a cranky toddler in an airport wielding fried rice. Then they met with an overzealous husband wielding stain remover, who may have applied it onto dry fabric, which then resulted in bleach marks all over the pants. Lessons learnt? Never wear new pants while wrangling said toddler by yourself at an airport, and never let husbands attempt to remove stains from brand new clothes.

Anyway, the ruined pants gave me the opportunity to unpick these pants and have a pattern to work with. These pants are pretty simple to copy. They are pleated at the hem, with a cuff to bind the hem, they have an elastic waist and a drawstring casing and they have welt pockets on the back, and welt pockets on the side front. I didn't do either of these welt pockets - I totally wimped out, and decided to do no pockets at the back and in seam side pockets at the front. I wimped out mostly due to my fabric choice - a silk viscose. I'm going to look for something more stable for the next version and will most likely put the welts in. Here is what I came up with!

I think they are pretty spot-on. I will say that the silk-viscose does not move in the same way as the cotton 'splatter' ones I own - I am slightly concerned about the durability of the lighter silk-viscose, but I guess time will tell.

Next time I will put some stay tape on the side pockets (if I use them!).

Copying these pants was remarkably easy. As I unpicked them I drew all over the pattern, indicating fold lines, pleat markings and seam allowances. I also made a list of construction notes - I tried to unpick the pants in the order I thought they could be sewed - I sort of achieved this. In the end I wrote out the order as I sewed these together, so that next time I have my own instructions.

I felt kind of weird copying these. Elk is a small Melbourne business, and I wondered if it was ethical to copy one of their garments. I talked to Michael about it and he asked me if it meant I would no longer buy stuff from there. Ummmm.... no. Since I unpicked these pants, I've bought the shoes I'm wearing in these photos, the shirt I'm wearing in these photos, a necklace as a gift...... and I've requested a pair of these same pants for Mothers' Day in an awesome print that I would never be able to find the fabric for. I don't know if any of this reconciles me copying the pants - what are your thoughts on this issue?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Let's Par-tay: Simplicity 1873

I mentioned in my second-last post that a little while ago I asked my Instagram friends to weigh in on whether I should sew Simplicity 1688 or Simplicity 1873 for my sister's first engagement party (a dinner at Seamstress Restaurant - how befitting!):

Overwhelmingly (apart from two people!) the answer was 1873. Well, you already know that I mashed up the two patterns to make a sheath, but I also did as I was told, and made 1873 for the engagement dinner!

This one is made from an amazing mid-weight Italian cotton with some stretch from Tessuti. I lined the bodice only in blue anti-static lining, also from Tessuti. 

Here are the changes I made :
  • I took 10cm out of the neckline - a standard adjustment for me, but I do wonder what is going on drafting wise. 
  • For the under arm seams only, I used a 2.5cm seam allowance tapering to the standard 1.5cm at the waist.
  • I took a 2cm horizontal dart out of the skirt the entire way around as I had some very odd pouching just above my hips. 
  • I extended the back darts by about 1.5cm as I had excess fabric there. 
  • I lengthened the skirt by 10cm so that I could keep it short with a 10cm hem. I like a really deep hem (5cm turned up twice) in a full skirt. 

This is actually really comfortable. The bodice has some ease in it so it is excellent for eating a huge meal in. Ruth's 30th Birthday dinner was last night - we went to Meat & Wine Co. in Hawthorn. I've been to the one at Southbank a couple of times for business lunches, but the one in Hawthorn is a bit nicer in my opinion. The decor is a bit fancier. I had a very good steak. And a creme brûlée. Then we went back to Ruth's house and played cards for a while. Little M was at a sleepover at her mate's house - although she's had a few sleepovers before, I still feel weird coming back to the house without her there. And my stupid body clock woke me at 7am. Grrr. 

So this is my par-tay dress! I haven't really been sewing for myself of late. I have had lots of birthday presents for kids, and Little M's birthday dress and leggings. I have toiled the Sigma Dress by Papercut Patterns and am really hoping to start that this weekend. Wish me luck!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Pia in Linen

It will be no surprise to you that I've sewn up Tessuti's latest pattern, the Pia Dress. I have well-documented my love for their designs, in particular the dresses. I'm planning a Tokyo jacket soon, and a Zoe top. When I saw the Pia Dress released, I knew I'd sew it quickly. And I did!

I sewed it in a lovely medium weight enzyme washed black linen from Tessuti. The weight of this linen is amazing, and it is soft and drapes beautifully. I had an issue washing it though - weird slightly raised lines have appeared on the fabric - has anyone had this issue? I pre washed without detergent and the lines appeared then washed with detergent and they remain. Weird.

This is the size small, sewn with larger seam allowances than the pattern provides. I sewed a size small in some linen Anna gifted me, and it was huge and quite unflattering. So I made this black one with approximately 1.7cm seam allowances instead of the 1.25cm the pattern directs you to use. I now have a much more flattering fit.

When they released the pattern, Tessuti showed Lisa wearing hers belted. I decided to give that look a go last night to go out for dinner with my mothers' group. I can't decide which look I prefer. What do you think?

I don't have much to say, review wise. Apart from using larger seam allowances, I shortened the dress by 3cm. Yes, I shortened it!! Amazing.

It was a comfy dress to wear to dinner. We went to Pizza Farro and I had an extremely delicious Margherita with buffalo mozzarella. Yum. I ate the whole pizza - that is pretty unusual for me! Then I had a scoop of homemade chocolate gelato for dessert. It was intensely rich but so good.

I'll leave you with this last picture. I was so tired when I went out. I can't remember if I've told you but my sister Ruth is getting married! Woohoo! We have been wedding dress shopping, and yesterday was an all-day affair. I'm finding my energy levels after working 4 days are fairly abysmal, so after a full day of wedding dress shopping I was bordering on too tired to go out for dinner. I had a small cat nap while posing for pictures….

I'm hoping I get used to this 4th day soon - I need some energy to sew!!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Cynthia Rowley Mix-Up Dress: A Sateen Sheath

It has been a month since I last posted! And just over a month since I returned to work. Hmmm… I'm doing 4 days a week for this semester only. I'm lecturing again - a first year course with a lot of students (about 200). Dipping my toe back in the lecturing pond has been both exciting and exhausting. It's been almost 5 years since I last lectured in Queensland - I'm on a bit of a (re) learning curve. Plus I really have extremely limited time to sew. Little M is with Michael on the fourth day, and I don't think has completely adjusted yet. Despite him being her father and being an excellent, hands-on, caring, wonderful father. The mother-kid relationship is certainly an intense one!

Anyway, I'm sure you'd much prefer to hear about my dress! A while back I asked my Instagram friends which of these patterns I should make for Ruthy's (my sister's) first engagement dinner:

Interestingly, everyone bar two said 1873, with the full skirt. I did make 1873 for the engagement dinner (post on that to come!) but I got obsessed with having a dress with the slim skirt. I really liked the skirt portion of 1688 but felt the bodice was not what I was looking for at that point in time. So I spliced them together:

Okay, be honest please. Is the placement of that bottom white flower a bit interesting…….?! Michael assures me it is not, but I have paranoia. I do wish I'd spent more time cutting and thinking about the placement of the print.

The fabric is a cotton sateen from Tessuti - one my mum gave me for Christmas. Ruthy tells me it is a Ted Baker print. It is gorgeous anyway!

I had to make a lot of alterations to get this to fit nicely. Here we go:

  • I took 10cm out of the neckline - a standard adjustment for me, but I do wonder what is going on drafting wise. 
  • For the under arm seams only, I used a 2.5cm seam allowance tapering to the standard 1.5cm at the waist.
  • I took a 2cm horizontal dart out of the skirt the entire way around as I had some very odd pouching just above my hips. 
  • I extended the back darts by about 1.5cm as I had excess fabric there. 
That's only four adjustments - but it felt like a lot. The only thing I am left wondering is whether I should alter the bodice so it is not so cut away at the sleeve-armhole area. The straps do not seem to come in so far on the model in the pic - what do you think? 

I also lined the entire dress, and because I forgot to lengthen the skirt, I bound the hem and sewed it by hand (I would have done it by hand anyway, but usually I turn up the hem twice). 

Like the colour of my lining? Only colour I had in my stash - but I love it!

I really do like this dress and have another one half made (has been half made for some time….). I wore it to work today to attend orientation for my students and felt pretty swish. Professional but young(ish) and not too conservative. I do need to get used to not wearing a sack though. I wear them so often that when I wear anything fitted I feel exposed. Does anyone else have this issue? Which do you prefer a sack or a more fitted garment?

Friday, January 24, 2014

It's All About the Fabric

For some of you, this may be the most boring project I've ever posted.

Because…. I made ANOTHER Gabby dress!

But for others among you, this dress may be very exciting, because, well, look at that beautiful fabric!

Isn't it divine? It's a Japanese cotton-linen I got ages ago. It had been in my stash for a long time, waiting patiently for the right project or occasion. Finally the right occasion came around… a 46 degree day in Adelaide fabric shopping at The Drapery with Anna. Readers, I don't think I've ever experienced that type of heat before. I wasn't in Melbourne for Black Saturday and in Queensland it is pretty rare to get to 40, let alone well above it. I didn't enjoy the heat at all, and the next day (Friday of the Melbourne heat wave) it was still 44 degrees. I actually think I had some mild form of heat stroke as I felt soooooo tired and a bit sick in my tummy.

So I knew something very light, loose, and airy was needed. Inspiration struck and I decided to cut into my beloved piece of Japanese fabric. I wasn't sure what to make, and then just decided to make a Gabby as (1) I had very limited time to sew - I was back at work and knew I could knock out a Gabby in about 3 hours, even with hand stitching the sleeve hems and dress hem, (2) I wanted to let the fabric shine through, and (3) I knew I'd wear this dress a lot.

The spot is placed to irregularly to try and pattern match, and I'm okay with that.

Now onto Adelaide. It was so much fun and extravagant to fly somewhere for the day to go fabric shopping at one fabric store. Thank you Anna. What a treat you gave me! The Drapery is an amazing place to shop. Anna has reviewed it beautifully, but basically, if you love linen, Japanese double gauzes and fine wools, this is your place to shop. The linen in particular was amazing - I bought a Japanese teal linen and a Japanese Ikat-type printed linen. And a piece of Nani Iro double gauze. And… a linen scarf kit and some wool felt bead balls. Did I mention that I saved for this trip for months and I'm now banned from fabric shopping until May?!

P.S. - I'm wearing it with my lovely Elk sandals and and Elk necklace.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

More Vintage Patterns For Sale!

Thank you to everyone for your commiserations on my last post. I really appreciate them. I debated whether to post about it at all, but decided to as I would want to know about something like that if I were thinking of using a store/quilter/service. So thank you.

I'm also selling another batch of my vintage sewing patterns. I sold quite a lot last time, but I guess I have quite a collection! I'll be putting more on ebay throughout this week, but here is a sample of what I'm selling (on ebay):

Somebody asked me why I was selling them a while ago. In case you've been wondering too, I have three reasons:

  • While we have an office in which I have a dedicated sewing area, I don't have heaps of storage room. I figure if I don't use something, I should probably move it out.
  • My figure has changed post-baby. I have a softer and more sensitive tummy (do any of you also have a more sensitive mid-section after having a baby? I never anticipated that), and a completely different lifestyle. For me personally, I don't find the occassion to wear more vintage style clothing, and don't find it as comfy for my lifestyle with Little M.
  • I'm trying to make a bit of extra pocket money - tight finances around here, so if I want a new pattern or bit of fabric I have to really think about where it comes from. Selling a few patterns has meant I could buy one of the new Papercut Patterns in time to sew it for a very special event - more on that to come!
I hope you're all having a good start to the week - Little M woke me up at 5.59am this morning so I've been at my desk since 7.45am. I guess it means I can leave a bit earlier, but by golly, I've already had one coffee (albeit an instant) and am clock watching for my boss to arrive so we can go and get the real stuff!