Friday, February 28, 2014

Drape Drape quickie

Having long been a fan of the Drape Drape garments showing up all over the internet, and having had Drape Drape 1 out of the library already, I was beside myself with glee to find 2 and 3 on the shelves a couple of weeks ago.  I LOVE the Dunedin Public Library!

I have several patterns traced and in the queue of stuff-I-have-to-make, but as a first dip of the toes into these books I started with this design, #4 from Drape Drape 2.

My measurements suggested I could make a size M, so I did.  My fabric is possibly slightly less stretchy/drapey than would be ideal, resulting in the right sleeve thingy not hanging as gracefully as I would like, but when I'm not standing with arms at an angle to show this, it looks fine!  I raised the neckline by about 5cm as I was a bit worried that it would be too low.

Back. It's cut in one piece so those stripes have been manipulated into this direction! The one pattern piece looks like this.

It was very quick to make and is really comfy to wear. Today I'll wear it to work, styled like this. One of my Glowing Sky skirts, and my long drapey cardy (which I loooooove - this cardy is divine to wear and looks great with EVERYTHING!)

When I showed Georgia the T shirt yesterday after I'd finished sewing it, she gave it the teenage seal of approval, and suggested styling it like this for work. My other GS skirt, her black GS shrug  and my recently thrifted $8 pink boots.

I'm in trouble. The teenager has OPINIONS.

Speaking of the teenager, I recently made a wedding dress for her intermediate school textiles/food tech teacher.  Here it is.  Miss M is a stunning 6 ft tall brunette, so the dress doesn't fit my dummy at all well.

Bodice detail. Those lace straps sat perfectly on her shoulders, trust me!  Since the straps are purely decorative, the dress is constructed as though it is strapless, with a separate boned corsolette inside which provides all the support. On her it is slightly off the floor. I wish I had taken photos to show the lace borders carefully and painstakingly appliqued by hand onto the upper and lower edges of the bodice.

Anyway, Georgia was in her textiles class the other day, with other girls who had been at intermediate with her, and they were looking at bridal magazines. She casually drops into the conversation "This dress looks a bit like Miss M's wedding dress, but the lace on the bodice comes down a bit further". To which (of course) the response was "How do you know what Miss M's wedding dress looks like?!". Which of course gives Georgia the golden opportunity (probably waited and plotted for for weeks) to nonchalantly say "Oh, my Mum is making her dress. She comes to my house for fittings"  Her friends were suitably awestruck and impressed.  And Oliver (who is still at the intermediate at which Miss M taught) took a photo of her in the dress (which I took when she picked it up) to school to show his teachers.

Nice to know I can give my kids something to brag about :-)

Monday, January 27, 2014


Hiya! Back again! I've been a bit busy since I last posted *ahem*, almost three months ago.  I've done some sewing, mostly for other people, and as I mentioned in my last post, WORKING!  I loooove where I work.  I'm working part time at Glowing Sky, which is a company who make merino clothing.  The wool is grown in NZ, and the company manufactures here in NZ too.  It gives me a warm glow to work for people who are so committed to NZ, and to know that no sweatshop labour is involved in making the clothes! And having to wear it as work uniform is no hardship either!

Anyway, this lovely merino really lends itself to bold accessories, and I've long wanted to make myself a really wide corset belt, so finally got around to it last week. The pattern is from Burda 11/03, #129.

Exhibit A: (top and skirt are from Glowing Sky.) Side turned head is less about artistic posing and more about the manky, unsightly coldsore currently on my lip.

Back.  The black panel at CB is made of strips of elastic sewn to a lycra backing.

And this is how I wore it to work. The shrug is Glowing Sky too.  Note to self: wear a better bra.

And that worked so well that I made another one.  This fabric was left over scraps from a handbag I cut out years ago and have yet to sew up.  It's pretty flimsy, so I fused two layers of lightweight interfacing to the face fabric and one to the (much beefier) backing, which worked perfectly.

Back. Exactly the same construction.

The silver belt was made from three layers - face fabric, buckram, backing fabric.  The face fabric wrinkles a bit when worn because it has a bit of stretch and I should have cut it slightly smaller to allow for that. You live and learn.

The back panel is just strips of 5cm elastic, which I sewed to a backing of swimsuit lycra, to give it more beef.

When making the 2nd one I found the bulk of the seam intersections was near impossible to reduce/flatten.  No way would I wear this mess!

So I used a strap seam. I cut away all the seam allowance and sewed each side to a strip of fabric at the back so they butted exactly, then sewed binding over the front. After this shot I inserted boning which made it look even better.

Going back a bit, one of the projects eating into my sewing time before Christmas was this trench coat.  Keely was to be Godmother to a Very Special Baby, and the best gift she could think of was to commission me to make something.  Between us we came up with this. Influenced very largely by this one which I had pinned on Pinterest.

And in the mean time I am beavering away on Alabama Chanin projects, as always. While the kids are home on holiday I can do this in tiny bursts while constantly interrupted.  I'm working on a 4 panel skirt, and I have a matching 4 panel top to go with it as well.  IF SUMMER EVER ARRIVES.

To start this project I put off this project - the rasberry/maroon rose stencil dress I have wanted to make for months. I finally found the right shade of rasberry and got stuck in.  Then I thought, perhaps I should make a summery outfit, and do the dress (which I can wear year round) nearer winter.

As far as Dunedin's summer is concerned, lets just say it's a good thing I work in a store that sells merino clothes!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Using up leftovers

When one has no Alabama Chanin project lined up  after the one on which one is currently working, one tends to panic slightly, which actually lends itself to a bit of creative thinking, which led to this skirt.

I figured I could make this skirt (the skirt pattern is from the Alabama Stitch Book) from scraps left over from other projects, stencils created for other projects (except the rose one, which is for my next project), one paint colour, and thread also left over from other projects. Sort of a free skirt.
It was Georgia's idea to make the waistband (I prefer a waistband with elastic in it to foldover elastic at the waist) from  sections which matched the under layer of each panel. She shows great creative promise, that girl!

The skirt is comprised of four identically shaped panels, which means I can wear it with any two as the front, or with one panel centred, like this:

I love the shape of it, so there will be more of these in my future! I'm up to a dozen Alabama Chanin garments now, with no easing up on the love of making and wearing them!

Meanwhile my poor Nougat has been languishing as I suddenly got busy with sewing for other people, general busyness, and most excitingly, a new JOB! I am now working part time in a store which sells NZ made merino clothes. So I get to spend my work time fondling lovely merino, and of course I have to wear it too.  I really really really love that! At least when I do eventually finish my Nougat it will look lovely with my new merino cardy and shrug!

Oh, and I had a really hilarious 15 minutes of fame last week when I got press ganged into dressing up as though I were going to the races to illustrate a story for the paper on Melbourne Cup day. I was on the front page. My name was printed. And not even my parents recognised me!  Best comment was from Georgia, who showed the paper to her friends at school, and they didn't believe it was me.  When I asked why, she said "Because they've met you".  Um, yeah, I don't look like this EVER.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Red wine and roses...

..usually go very well together, except when a glass of the red wine in question gets knocked over and stains a pile of cream coloured fabric onto which you have just stencilled the roses. Fortunately google had a remedy which utilized stuff I had at home and the resulting stains became so faint that in the end I decided to leave them.  I did swear a bit though.

Anyway, I don't think I've shown any of this project.  It's something I can do with hordes of kids around, so I made good progress over the holidays.  I have always loved this Alabama Chanin wrap top, and having the skills required to create the pattern meant it was easy to make one of my own.

I'm very happy with the front, but I think I could improve the fit at the back.  It's a little loose around the waist.  Next time (of course there will be a next time, there always is) I will probably deepen the armholes slightly and I may take in the CB a little.  Or not, looser clothes are comfy, and leave room for the layers needed for a large part of the year and these 100% cotton knit garments give with wear, and the armhole may well not need adjustment.

And now it's time to panic because I do not have my next Alabama Chanin project lined up, and I get pretty antsy without one on the go at all times!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Slow progress on the Nougat

I'm proceeding with all the pace of a turtle stampeding through peanut butter at the moment. I'm posting this mostly because I really really want to get that "Why yes, I have had five children, how can you tell?" midriff shot off the top of the page!

My Nougat currently looks like this. Front bodice panels all joined apart from the centre, nothing pressed. sorry for the wonky angle, I clearly can't hold a camera straight.

You can see that I've done away with the waist seam.  I'm not keen on waist seams, and figured that I could probably align the bodice and yoke pieces and eliminate it.  They look like this.

One minor problem I've found with this pattern is that some of them didn't match.  The side seam on bodice and yoke didn't match.  This was very easy to fix, and no big deal.  (I just added to the bodice seam line to compensate.) Over the length of an entire waistline you'd just ease in the tiny bit extra, but in such a short panel length it would be less straightforward.

I mentioned in my last post that I'd lower the waistline.  I did it like this. I drew a line perpendicular to the centre front, starting at the waistline (because that was where the lines I'd be crossing seemed easiest to alter) traced the bodice to that line, then slid the paper up 1.5cm and traced the bottom.  Then I had to true the lines and make sure that panels would meet at the seam lines. With all the panel seam lines this required a bit of care and attention, but worked just fine. I did one more toile to check, but didn't take a pic of it on me.  It was perfect.

There is one other problem with the pattern that I have found.  The yoke pieces for the back are labelled E1-4, and they should be E4-1, if that makes sense. As far as I can tell the pattern instructions have them correctly labelled, but the pattern sheet has them mislabelled. They work perfectly, and the only problem is that if you are using two different fabrics the "Fabric A" and "Fabric B" labels are transposed.  I really don't want to be negative about this pattern.  It is a gorgeous, complex,  pattern, and these are incredibly minor issues.  I'm mentioning them only as feedback to AnaJan and just in case anyone reading this finds them helpful.

Here are two of the many, many, many things causing me delays. Keely's daughter bought a formal dress online, which arrived on Tuesday for a Saturday formal.  It needed altering, and they had me on standby!  Keely is on a very very short list of people who'd get 10+ hours of my time and expertise with that tight a deadline! they came over with the dress on Wednesday so I could start, then Thursday with shoes to mark the hem, then Friday to collect. PHEW!

The bodice was too long, and needed a simple reduction in length at the shoulder. Easy. Apart from this.

I needed to take off the beads, take up the shoulder, and resew them.  In one of my prouder moments I thought of pressing press'n'seal onto the beads and marking where they were.

Then after the shoulder alteration I just sewed them back on through the press'n'seal, which pulls out leaving no residue. Easy!

And this is why I didn't get much done in the last couple of days.  Georgia is making herself a quilt, and needs technical assistance from Mum.  My daughter is sewing. My dress can wait :-)

Oh, and it's school holidays so I get interrupted approximately every five minutes with requests for snacks, meals, clean clothes, missing item location services, bathroom assistance, permission/money for outings,  mediation, entertainment....

Monday, September 23, 2013

A taste of Nougat

Excuse the cheesy title - couldn't resist.  Anyway, I started salivating over the Nougat pattern as soon as I saw it.  I seldom get excited over patterns produced by hobbyists because they are usually pitched way below my skill level and interest, and so frequently something I could draft myself very easily.  AnaJan may not be a "professional" patternmaker, but she is trained, and boy did she produce a cracker!

Enter the frustrations!  Firstly I had to wait a day to get the pattern because after you purchase on Etsy AnaJan sends you an invoice, you pay it, then she makes the pattern available to download. She warns that this can take up to a couple of days, and given her location in Serbia and mine in New Zealand, I expected a delay.  In fact from purchase to download was less than 24 hours, which I thought was pretty good! (I have no complaints about the purchase process, I'm just totally crap at waiting for anything).  That was Monday.  I had the pattern first thing Tuesday. Since my home printer is running low on ink and the pattern is 60 pages I figured I'd pop along to Warehouse Stationery and print it there.  At which point Isabella threw up.  And the poor thing had a not-very-violent, but very dragged out tummy bug.  She was off school for the rest of the week, at which point Nicholas got it, and was off for most of the following week.  Since you can't take sick kids anywhere, that meant I had to wait till the weekend to get out and print!

You know that bit where they tell you to print out the test square first? Yeah, you should totally do that!  I didn't, and when I finally got time to check the pattern I realised it hadn't printed to scale! I wondered how far off it would be if I just went down a size, and with nothing to lose I gave that a shot.  This is a size 34 printed slightly larger than it should have.  (The 10cm square came out more like 11cm) It isn't terrible, and I toyed with the idea of just working with this and making it work.

But grading doesn't increase evenly in all directions, so it was going to take work to make this fit properly, and there are all those lovely swirly lines to contend with, and I figured I'd be nuts to waste all that time!  As I was moaning by text to a friend, she kindly offered to do the re-print for me (I owe her a HUGE favour now)  And this is how a correctly scaled size 36 looks.  So much better! (She suggested putting the test square on page 1. I'd forgotten to tell her where it was and it took her a while to find it)

Just a note, there are no seam allowances on the neckline, armhole or waistline edges. I find with a fitting toile that it is easier to visualise the finished garment if you have the finished dimensions.

So, all the kids are over their bugs and back at school, giving me time and space to get started.  I'm very happy with the fit of my second toile, so I'm going to go ahead and work from that.  I may lower the waistline a little bit, but everything else is fine.

I spoke too soon. Literally just as I finished typing the above the phone rang. Oliver has been vomiting at school.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Swearing on my clothes

Not that you can see it of course, which is the point, but here is my Alabama Chanin poetry tank, with added f-word.


I love the fit, the colours, everything about this.  I'm keen to have a crack at making the dress version of this pattern.  I can't see myself ever getting bored with this technique.  The possibilities are endless!

Next up I'm going to make the Nougat dress, by Stepalica patterns.  Once my children all get over their tummy bugs....

Oh, and Georgia bids me tell everyone that I nicked her jeans again. She still hasn't realised I've been wearing her pink ones for weeks. Well, she's reading over my shoulder, so now she does!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Make it in every colour

I love this style of shrug. This is the third one I've made for myself, and it won't be the last. It's McCalls 5398, which is OOP. There is enough coverage at the back and around the back of my neck to be cosy enough even in winter (given the number of layers I typically wear!) but being open in the front means that my tops or dresses (which are usually my more interesting garments. Not today obviously) are visible.

Back. See what I mean about the coverage? Nice and cosy.

Flat.  It is essentially a folded rectangle with sleeves and a band, but those diagonal seams are shoulder seams, so it has a nicer shape than a simple rectangle.

The hat I'm wearing (conveniently hiding my post-run not-fit-to-be-seen hair)  is what I managed to eke out of the scraps after eking the shrug out of a 0.9m remnant of merino/nylon/polyester/lycra which I picked up for a bargain $7 at the Fabric Store! (formerly Global Fabrics, for locals)  This stuff is smooth and silky feeling on the outside with a really soft loopy interior. Incredibly lovely to wear.

And my jeans? I nicked them from my daughter. My 13 year old daughter. (She'd gone off them and hasn't noticed I've been wearing them since I had a pair the same colour but bigger!). Yep, I'm becoming that Mum. The one who wears her daughter's clothes. Oh dear.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Quick pair of gloves

It's my Mum's birthday next month, but she will be in England for it, specifically Devon.  After which she will be in Scotland, for which these might be appropriate!  These gloves (fingerless mitts from Alabama Studio Sewing and Design) are quick and easy to make, so are ideal for a gift.

Meanwhile I am still working on my Poetry Tank.  Here are the four sections laid out in order LF, LB, RB, RF. If you click to enlarge the pic you might see the secret word I added.  One letter per panel.

Or maybe this will make it show up better.

Yep, pretty juvenile. I do like a good swear at times, as anyone who knows me will attest! It was actually Keely's idea - she suggested breaking the word up over a seam so it wasn't obvious, and I thought if I put one letter per panel, not painted, nobody would notice (I DO NOT like swear words out there for all the world, ie children, to see) but it will make me smirk to know I am walking around saying f*** all day. Man I am way too easily amused. I should grow up and act my age.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Well that was quick.

Um, this took about a month. I knew it'd be quicker than my last dress, but even so, it worked up way quicker than I expected!  Based on the amount of thread used, I'm guessing 60-80 hours of work.  This is the Alabama Chanin corset top, and the skirt from their tank dress pattern.  I intend that these two pieces can be worn together or separately.

This is what normally happens when I try to take photos during the weekend.

And because I CAN'T be without an Alabama Chanin project, and haven't found the right shade of rasberry pink for the rose dress I want to make next, I raced out this morning and bought this lot, directly inspired by the fitted top with poetry stencil shown on the Alabama Chanin Journal last week.  M did roll her eyes slightly when I went into her workplace to print out the stencil and get the laminator plastic to use as the stencil.  Can't think why.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Spring flowers - oops, wrong season.

I'm letting impatience to post overtake desire to look fabulous here. I finished my latest Alabama Chanin dress last week and it has been TOO FRICKIN' COLD to venture outside for nice photos. Snow, rain, howling gales - the works!  Fortunately Dunedin has not fared too badly, unlike many other parts of the country, but still it seems like it has been a long wait for decent light.  Today I grabbed an opportunity, and here is the result of around 120ish hours of work. A tank dress from Alabama Studio Style, with Abbies Flower stencil, which I resized a bit and fattened up a bit.

I base the 120ish hours on the fact that I timed one 1.5m length of thread to take about an hour to work and I used 200m of thread.  It's a very rough estimate, but no way am I timing one of these babies for real!  I know I started this dress before I went to Wellington in March, so it is months of work.

And I am so in love with it I cannot express it! Now all I need are an appropriately coloured merino thermal top and leggings to go underneath and I will be able to WEAR it!

My craft group ladies are probably a bit sick of seeing this dress every fortnight for the past three months or so, so here you go ladies - this is what you'll be seeing for the next while. Not three months though as this is waaaaaaaaaay quicker to stitch!  This is one panel of a six panel skirt, which got to this point in only a day or two.  I'm also making a matching corset top, to be worn together or separately.

Close up of the stencilled, stitched and snipped dots and the appliqued ones.  I want to get a thread which matches the top layer to blanket stitch the maroon appliqued dots.

Not even close to getting tired of the Alabama Chanin style, making it or wearing it.  I am actually a bit antsy because I know what I want to make next and I'm worried that I won't be able to find the shade of fabric I want. No I don't have an Alabama Chanin problem, why do you ask?