Monday, November 30, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

As soon as the weather turns warm I get all fired up to get crafty for Christmas. (Kind of Pavlovian I know). About two or three years ago I bought a kit for this hanging, "Making Spirits Bright" from the Birdhouse. I love stitcheries, but I do get a bit bored just doing back stitch in one colour, so I pull it out every now and then and work on it till I need to do something else. Consequently I've only just finished the stitchery! Yesterday I sewed on the borders from this very cool candy cane fabric I bought for it at the same time as the stitchery and today I added pellon and backing and tabs. I still need to do some sort of quilting and it's done!

In total contrast is this stocking. I bought American Patchwork and Quilting magazine last Thursday. I happily shelled out $18 for a magazine in which I only wanted one project and by Saturday I'd got to this point:

I love foundation piecing because it's so precise - it really appeals to the control freak in me! I love these warm Christmas colours. I'm making no promises that it'll be finished for this year's Christmas, since the piecing was what I was fired up over. (The top plain panel is slightly smaller because I have a little more to trim from the pieced panels.) I realised once I'd finished the toe section and lined it up with the middle section that I'd placed the gingerbread man on the wrong angle. Too bad - only way to fix it is to undo it and start again. Aint Gonna Happen.
One other comment to Mary Nanna and Katherine - I hope neither of you thought I sounded snippy about the by-line thing - I am very flattered that "my" line strikes a chord with so many people! I claim no rights to it, so feel free to spread it far and wide :-)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Drafting for the World's Smallest Bum

I think I've mentioned before that Nicholas has the Smallest Bum In The World. It's not just because he was prem - Isabella is considerably more generously proportioned! Nicholas is just little - just like his elder brother (who is now taller than me). Anyway, making him clothes means that I can at least get things that fit him properly. Trousers are ok, but shorts are another matter. His skinny little legs look like matchsticks sticking out of shorts! The weather has been beautiful lately, and he needed longish shorts - he has short shorts, but needed some more substantial ones. So I skimmed in the sides of my size one trouser draft by *quite a lot* shortened it to shorts and added a cargo pocket to the sides.

And here they are - perfectly proportioned shorts for a Very Small Bum.

Isabella could use some too, but for her I have to add a little to the size one draft. If I hadn't been there at the time I wouldn't believe these two had come from the same stomach on the same day!

Friday, November 20, 2009

I hate dial up

Once again the teenager (with probably some help from the rest of us) has exceeded our monthly broadband allowance, dropping us to dial up speed for a few days. How did we ever survive on dial up speed all the time?!

Anyway, that combined with not managing to get a pic of Georgia in her new skinny jeans meant I've been putting off posting. Oh, and the tummy bug working it's way through our family making various members throw up or have diarrhoea. Or both. With five kids it can take a while to work it's way out of the house, making me very grateful for the nice weather making washing easy to dry.

Today I figured I'd grit my teeth and brave slow internet to post.

First up is this skirt which I made for Georgia when she had her 10th birthday recently. Her grandmother took her to the Royal New Zealand Ballet performing Peter Pan, which she loved. About five minutes after Mum called to ask me if she'd like to go I realised that Georgia's wardrobe is very appropriate for climbing trees and rollerblading, but she had nothing suitable to wear to the ballet. So I made her this skirt. It's #16 from Ottobre 06/08. It only goes up to a size 128, but since Georgia is pretty slender I just added a little more to the length and it was perfect. Fabric from stash + pattern from a magazine I already owned = free skirt.

While I was getting the fabric for the skirt I found a piece of red stretch suiting perfect for skinny jeans for her (her favourite colour) and she found a left over piece of red and white knit perfect for a T shirt. She figured that since she was turning double digits, that meant double new outfits! Since I had time, I was happy to oblige so that she could have the jeans and t for her gingerbread man decorating morning tea with the neighbours (instant party) and a good outfit for the ballet in the afternoon. Left over fabrics + patterns I already owned = also free outfit! I also made her a tankini because I got the fabric very cheap at Spotlight. I don't like making swimwear, but I do like getting her a pair for less than $10. I did swear quite a lot (as Keely will attest, since I was on the phone to her at the time) at various times as my thread kept breaking and the hem just didn't want to get sewn. However, I realise that Georgia will neither notice nor care, so I just left the stops and starts where they occurred.

She still needs clothes for the summer, so I guess I'm not done with her yet. She is also very keen to have proper sewing lessons, like I give to my student. (She comes to my house for an hour every Saturday and we work through her project.) I figure I'll just do the same for Georgia. If she stays keen and gets good I could make her make her own togs!

I've also made a prototype of my own design for Isabella. Very much inspired by some beautiful tops I've seen on the net, starting with this one from the very lovely MADE blog. It and various other tutorials I've read include instructions that say things like: "I don't use patterns, just lay down a shirt that fits your child well and draw around it, leaving seam allowances". I am in awe of anyone who can work this way! I'm very much a pattern user. I play fast and loose with them and alter them and generally make them unrecognizable, but I Don't Cut Patternless. I like the precision of a pattern which I have calculated will produce the design in my head, and I have just enough scientific geekiness to like the concept of repeatability - if it works I can make it again, exactly as I did before. Having said that, I know the principles of draping, and have done it. (One side-ruched wedding dress for a friend of my sister comes to mind. Must find a photo of that)

Getting back to the point, I was tickled pink when Jess used my comment on Samster Mommy's pant refashion tute regarding my method for drawstrings. So I thought I'd take a couple of pics of how it works.

I like the idea of a ribbon tie on Isabella's top, but I wanted elastic in it so I could pull it on and off without undoing it. So I cut a piece of elastic roughly half the size of the finished neck measurement and sewed ribbon to the ends of it, like this:

When that's threaded through the neckline casing I stitch through all layers at centre front to hold it in place. That way the ends are always even and the drawstring never falls out. If the stitching is obvious you can sew a button or flower or anything you fancy over it, but when the neckline gathers up I couldn't even see it, so I didn't bother. Yet.

Have I ever mentioned how hard it is to get a modelled shot of anything on either of the twins? Yes? Well every time I try I'm reminded of that! I ended up getting her big brother to hold her while I snapped.

I'm very pleased with the basic workings of this top, but I think the armhole ends up too low. I used the raglan draft from my Aldrich book, and I think for this design the proportions are a bit off. No fault with her draft, just my use of it. I'll rework it so the armhole is higher, then slash and spread to add the gathering. The joy of patternmaking - I know exactly what I did last time, so I can use that as a starting point for the next one. This one was always intended to be a prototype for my own design, but wearable for Isabella because I hate making prototypes - really feels like a waste of my sewing time to produce something that won't get worn.

Repeatability folks, gotta love it. (Well, I'm pretty anal, so I love it!)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Clipping collar corners

This is probably something that many people know, but I wish someone had told me when I started! So for anyone who might find it useful, here's my quick technique for clipping collar points on non-right angled corners.

Firstly I fold in the seam allowances on one side like this:

I fold them in tightly and crease them so the excess sticks up straight. Then I lay my scissors flat on the table and cut across the sticking-up bit:

That leaves you with a nicely mitred corner:

(It usually leaves a a little too much fabric at the point, which you then trim off in the next step.)

Then you just trim the second side to match, shaving a tiny bit extra at the point, and you're done. When the collar is pressed (which is a million times easier if you have a point presser) and turned through it should sit perfectly smooth and flat. Easy to do and never fails!

This collar is on this shirt. I cut this one out ages ago, but never sewed it up because I was a bit iffy about the proper two piece collar. And of course once I made it up I really liked it. The collar IS pretty snug. It does go around Nicholas' neck, but there's not a lot of room! I suspect it'll be worn open anyway, but I really like the look of the two piece collar so I think I'll enlarge the neck opening and draft a bigger collar.

I had to go into Miracle today (I get my flushable nappy liners there, so I'm in there fairly often!) so I dropped off my latest creations and asked Harriet (one of the lovely ladies who works there - owns the shop I think) what she thought of the pink top I made to go under the pale tunic and whether she thought my other idea of the white top would have been better. She liked the pink, so there you go. Judging by the choice of stock in the store I trust their judgement. She said that there had been comments on my stuff, but no sales yet. (Which doesn't surprise me - I'd have been stunned if anything had sold this fast!) My stuff is in it's own little alcove on white wooden hangers and it gave me a real kick to see it hanging there all cute and nicely displayed.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pink flowers for spring

We've had some lovely spring weather lately, and the nice ladies in Miracle said that girls dresses sell well. (And commented more than once on loving the previous bubble dress I'd made) so yesterday during the twins' nap time I made this one.

It's the same pattern as the one at the bottom of this post, which I had graded up and was made by Georgia and two of the neighbours for Isabella, shown here. Predictably Georgia wants to keep this one for Isabella. I'd better make one for her just to get Georgia off my back!

Before I made that one I made this little top to go under the historic inspired tunic. I was a bit iffy about the relatively brighter pink, but it lifted and brightened the very muted tunic, so I've stuck with it.

The very simple applique/embroidery is done the same way as in this post. It is very hard to tell in this photo, but the applique is two layers. Soft white linen under the pale pink from the tunic. They are too similar though to have the impact of a contrasting border.
The twisted ruffle at the hem is also the same fabric as the tunic, cut from the selvedge so there wasn't any embroidery on it.

And here's the top under the tunic. When I first envisioned the tunic I saw it with a white linen shift dress under it, and capris from the embroidered fabric, but the practical Mum in me kept thinking - how many Mums are going to dress their little girl in something so PALE!? I still think that for a wedding or special occasion it'd be a beautiful outfit as I pictured it, but for more use a cotton top would be more practical, and I can see this with jeans as a more casual outfit.
Maybe I shouldn't second guess myself so much and just go with my original vision? I always intended to aim at the upper end of the market.

Friday, October 30, 2009

I do sew for my own kids too

I've been sorting through the twins' clothes and realised that Nicholas is going to need a couple of sweatshirts shortly, when he finally outgrows the 3 month size ones I bought and made him rather a while ago! So I drafted this one for him. I love this neckline as it's so easy to get on, and you get two layers over the tummy, which is nice if it's cool. The cute ghost applique is from an Ottobre magazine so, much to Georgia's delight, this one is definitely not going to be sold.

Then I drafted this pinafore. I was a bit iffy about the amount of room at the hem, so made a toile. It was supposed to fit Isabella, and it did, but there was no extra room, so I graded it up. And made another toile. I seldom make toiles because I can't be bothered, and I want to spend my precious sewing time on something that will be worn. But I don't want to spend my precious sewing time on something that is unwearable, hence the toiles. I'm really glad I did, because now I'm confident that this will not only fit Isabella , but also that she can walk around in it (and therefore I can confidently call it an 18 month size and sell it).

Which brings me to the best news - I went into Miracle yesterday, and to my utter delight, they are going to sell my designs! As I assumed they will take them on consignment, so I will be paid if and when anything sells. I am officially a childrenswear designer. Yippee!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Inspired by history

I get a bit irritated by the overuse of the term vintage - a three year old dress Is Not Vintage, in my opinion. I do however feel completely justified in my description of my latest creation as "vintage inspired". More accurately, it's a modern interpretation of a historic design.

I own this book ("Costume in Detail, Women's dress from 1730-1930" by Nancy Bradfield) because about 20 years ago a friend found it in a 2nd hand bookshop and thought I'd like it. (This is the same friend who introduced me to the people at the Globe Theatre, where I volunteered for quite a few productions doing wardrobe. I was actually in charge for a few, and got my name mentioned in a review in the paper once! But I digress) Anyway, every now and then I browse through it's pages, and last week I found this page. This simple child's dress just called out to me and I had to make a version of it.

It wasn't too hard to draft but I had to allow for making the neckline much less wide than the original, so in order to preserve the proportions of the back sections I gave the sleeves a centre seam so that they don't have to meet at the shoulder, .

The front is very simple. The fabric is a pretty embroidered cotton voile, which was perfect for the design. Hidden domes again.

Everything interesting happens at the back. I just loved the seaming detail!

Obviously this has to be worn over something, so I think I'll make a basic slip dress to go under it. I wish I had a wedding to take Isabella to!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Today I bought my teenage son a g-string

For his guitar. I have nothing interesting to say, but I've been dying to use that title! I know I know, small things and small minds. I just thought it was funny. We've had a couple of really careful conversations about his need for a new guitar string in which each of us tries not to suggest that he needs a g-string!

Still haven't managed to get to my new design. Who'd have thought life with baby twins would be so busy?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mine, all mine!

My aunt sent me 40 pounds for my birthday. When converted (and the bank took their fee, grr) that came to just over NZ$77. The dilemma - what to spend it on? Naturally it had to be something special. I thought about putting it towards a handbag or shoes, and then got on to sewing stuff. What did I want, but couldn't justify buying? Almost immediately I thought of the Winifred Aldrich childrenswear pattern drafting book. I knew there was a later edition than the one I borrowed from the library, and this one covered baby wear too. Perfect! About 5 mins on the net showed that Amazon had it, but even better the University bookshop had an even later edition, and Keely is a student and eligible for a student discount! So I gave her the money to get or order the book next time she was near the bookshop. 41minutes later I got a text to say that she'd got it! I had to wait till after I'd been to the gym to pick it up, and then till we'd put the twins to bed before I could read it, but then I got to study it. And I am so impressed. There is a lot of stuff in here that would have been very helpful in my efforts to date. Best of all is the stuff on babywear. I was reluctant to grade my blocks down much further since they were already modified from instructions for bigger drafts.

So of course today my desk looks like this:

The book does have a couple of very minor errors that I've come across so far, but they were very easily dealt with. I am very keen to see how this block compares to the drafts I've already done. I really really like drafting. I enjoy the process of creating patterns nearly as much as making the garments!

Meanwhile, here's the latest of my designs, made over the weekend. This one's a size two. Georgia thinks that they're too cute for selling, and should be kept for Isabella. But then she thinks that about everything, and seems to forget that I made the pattern as well as the capris and can grade it to fit Isabella!

And the back. I love these gathered pockets. I have to confess that I didn't actually draft the pockets - I pinched them from another pattern. I do know how to draft them, but I was in a hurry. I feel so much better for confessing! (It's the only thing on my own designs that I didn't draft from my own drafted blocks)
After I finish my new blocks I have another pattern drafted which I'm dying to make up. It's my interpretation of a vintage design. And when I say vintage I mean VINTAGE. It's a girl's dress from the late c18th! Just need to prewash the cotton voile I'm going to use.....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Big Birthdays

Today is my birthday. I'm 40. In the lead up to this momentous occasion people keep asking what I'm going to do to mark the milestone. I kept feeling like I should do something big, since it's a Big Birthday, but the truth is I'm sort of over birthdays for myself (there are enough birthdays in our house to get excited about - kids birthdays are way more fun!). I have no issue with turning 40. I've been alive for 40 years, I have 40 years life experience and the body to prove it! I did want to be back in shape after the twins, and I acheived that with time to spare - 12kg lost and several months of the gym have me looking how I want. I don't look 18, and neither do I want to. I want to look like a fit 40 year old. So another birthday just didn't seem to be worth getting excited about.

However, with school age kids, all birthdays require special teas and birthday cake. I agonized for ages when I realised that my birthday is a Wednesday - my gym day. When I go to the gym I feed the family and take off, having my tea after I get home and we put the twins to bed. I worried that Georgia and Oliver would feel totally ripped off without a birthday tea, and then figured, it's my birthday, I get to do what I want, and I want to go to the gym as usual! Georgia will make me a chocolate cake this afternoon and ice it while I'm out. We'll eat it (and I'm sure they'll sing me Happy Birthday) when I get home. Everyone is satisfied.

And then I got up this morning, ready for a pleasant but not overly special day. And my darling children presented me with the cards they have been working on for DAYS. Georgia bugged David to take her to the Warehouse for some craft supplies and made a very cool card, and taught Oliver how to do one too. They spent a lot of time on them, and it really reminded me what IS special about birthdays. My children got as much pleasure making those cards with much love and care as I got in receiving them. And here they are.

After that excellent start to the day my Mum arrived so we could go to Glenfalloch (a beautiful public garden on the peninsula). She came in carrying a large oblong box, which completely mysitfied me. I couldn't imagine what it was till I unwrapped it. My mother is the QUEEN of present buying. For Big Birthdays she rounds up all the family to contribute and get something big. For me: a six line, 6.5m retractable washing line. (AND a post to mount it on, AND a bag of concrete mix!) Ever since we bought this house we have been meaning to do something about the inadequate washing line (2 lines, upped to 3) and my brilliant mother figured this was an ideal present. She was so right! I did wonder what it says about me that I got ridiculously excited about a washing line for my birthday. (I think it says that I am practical minded and not overly sentimental.) We then went for a very nice morning tea at Glenfalloch. I have to say, the staff at the tea rooms there were brilliant - they weren't open yet, but the extremely obliging lady from the bigger venue couldn't have been nicer about bringing down hot water for our coffees (since they weren't ready yet) and letting us in to have our morning tea there (despite the fact that there was a bus due any minute which was going to make them very busy). Very very good service.

So, I think I've decided that birthdays ARE worth getting excited about.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Don't let the teenager clean the computer

Because now we are looking at having to buy a new computer. He is careful, and has cleaned out the inside of the computer many times before, but this time it died and refuses to go at all. Probably not directly his fault, but still! Since our laptop was away at the time this meant No Computer for two weeks. The two weeks of the school holidays. When it rained. A lot. Oh yes, fun times in our house lately! Anyway, laptop returned, we are at least back in the 21st century.

At least with no internet to waste time on I did do a bit of sewing. This is the latest crop of my own designs.

This is a tunic I drafted and cut out several weeks ago, but felt a bit ambivalent about, so left sitting. I dragged it out when I couldn't be bothered dreaming up a new project and sewed it. And what do you know, I ended up liking it! The back has the same concealed domes I used on the two pink shirts a little while back.

This shirt is the same basic pattern as earlier ones with the front pattern piece slashed on a 45 degree angle to create panels. I made one from a contrasting fabric just to jazz it up even further. After I'd spent a considerable amount of time creating the pattern pieces, cutting out and assembling the shirt I realised that I could acheive a very similar result by simply sewing bias strips to the front to create stripes. Just to really top it off I realised that I'd already had that idea and sketched it weeks ago! I should go over my sketches more often.

This one is from some beautifully soft linen I found while cleaning up. Obviously my reward for procrastinating since I was cleaning up the fabrilanche (the overflowing pile of unsorted fabric next to my desk, christened the fabrilanche by my very amused husband some years ago) instead of some boring housework I'm sure I should have been doing instead.

And finally a tunic from the same linen. It's very wide thanks to the central inverted pleat and even though it's from the 80cm height block, which corresponds roughly to an 18 month size, I wonder if it should have been a size 2. I think it'd be too short on a 2 year old, and on a hot day loose swingy tops are so comfy to play in. The buttons came from a packet I got at Spotlight when I had to go back to get the sewing machine needles I'd bought and found missing from my bag when I got home. My reward for having to go back I think!

So that's what I've been up to. I went and visited my very clever and creative friend J last week to make some care label/swing tags. When I sew for her she sits next to me and says "Uh-huh, yes, right, I thought so" at appropriate moments. When I visited her to do the labels it was my turn. She is a whizz on the computer and a scrapbooker, so she has a very good eye for that sort of thing. Yay for J! So I now have the labels I needed to be able to sell my designs. The girls are coming over tomorrow, so I think I'll pick their brains regarding what they're worth, and then I can take them in and see what happens next. Now I'm nervous again - what if no one likes them? Self confidence has never been my strong suit.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I wish I were three.....

....because then I could wear this. I think I'm a bit old for this style, but I really like how it turned out!

I wonder if I made it with non-puffed sleeves and added a couple of darts to shape the body
if I could wear this style? Or am I about 20 years too old? I made this for a size three because I wasn't sure how it'd look over a real baby belly. Toddler bellies are still very round, but a bit more spread out vertically. I can just see this on my three year old neice! (Apart from the fact that she's in France so a bit far away to model for me)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Three budding seamstresses

The girls finished Isabella's bubble dress yesterday afternoon. I helped (I did most of the pinning), but they did the actual sewing themselves, taking turns to do each seam. They are very proud of themselves, and immediately put it on Isabella. (Who needs dolls when you have two little people to play dress-ups with?) She was not overly impressed at the time, and this is the best of several photos. I suspect she will hate me for it when she gets older, but I doubt that she's going to scour my blog archives for embarrassing pictures of herself as a baby, so I should get away with it!

I took this pic a few days ago when the girls were cutting out the garments they made. They had to do it in the hallway so that the babies couldn't get at anything!

I wonder what they'll tackle next?

Monday, September 21, 2009


I finished Isabella's jacket while the twins were napping. I haven't added any detail shots because it's done exactly the same way as the previous one from this pattern.

I have cheated a bit and shot this pic from a low angle because the one I took from directly above shows the yoke seam, collar and hem uneven. They are even, but the bulk of the fabric and the thickness of the button shanks pushes everything a little askew. It was a battle getting the buttons to go through the holes! My buttonhole foot adds a little extra to the length of buttonholes to allow for this, but in this case it wasn't enough. I suspect this will be worn unfastened when she's in the buggy and I can tuck it around her and the harness will hold it closed. I considered taking it to my friend's house to make keyhole buttonholes, but I wouldn't have been able to do that till Sunday and I couldn't wait. (I'm Not Good At Waiting) The buttonholes are red for the same reason.

Mary Nanna and Jen, I confess I do really like sewing for little girls. Boy sewing is good, but not as creatively fun as girl sewing. I do like seeing all my kids wearing clothes I've made them though, so the boys do get Mum-made stuff too. At least boy sewing is mindless - by the time you turn out a few pairs of pants you can do it in your sleep, and it's quicker and easier than driving to town and shopping, with all the hassle that entails with small children! Which reminds me, Nicholas needs new pants.....

One for my own baby!

After all the sewing I've been doing potentially (hopefully) for other peoples' babies, it feels almost strange to be making one of my designs for Isabella! She has a warm furry winter coat, but with a glorious spring upon us she needed something a little less toasty. I have tried my first version of this one on her and it fit her nicely, so here we go. I shortened it to jacket length rather than coat length, but otherwise it's the same as last time, seen here.

(That's her hand in the bottom of the picture. Like Nicholas she likes to know what is going on at all times).

The fabric is a lovely soft cotton denim I was given a few years ago, which is probably rather old. It's thick and has a brushed back so it's very soft. The applique is done in exactly the same way as this one. (Clicking on the pic will make it bigger and clearer). Lining is "dancetime" satin from Spotlight. Left over from something else, so I have so far spent about $6 on this jacket - for buttons and topstitching thread. I still have quite a chunk of the denim left too!

It is getting harder and harder to sew with them around, so the hem and buttons will have to wait till today's naptime.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Back to baby sewing

After making a bias cut satin dress for me, it was kind of nice to go back to simple cotton baby shirts! These two are based on the same block as the boys' ones, but I flared them out by slashing and spreading the pattern. They have different details, which were fun to do. Both have concealed domes at the front. I just attached them to the facing only, then used my zip foot to sew right next to them through all the layers so they're anchored in place but not visible except where the top one is open. I'm thinking about tiny flower appliques over the spot, or something similar to make a feature of the fastening on future versions.

The pleated inset on this shirt was directly inspired by the beautiful creations I saw here and here. For a baby shirt I kept the cutout simple - even and symetrical. I'm really keen to try something using this technique for me, but I'm not sure what yet.
Georgia and two of the neighbours are getting really interested in sewing and decided that they wanted to make clothes for the twins. They borrowed a couple of patterns which I felt were suitable and had at it! This red vest is very largely their work. I showed them how to lay out the pattern, and I pinned it for them, then after they'd cut out the pieces I showed them how to sew each seam and they all took a turn doing one on Georgia's machine. The button and appliques they sewed on by hand themselves. This is their first effort and they are very proud of themselves, and rightly so!

They are now working on a bubble dress for Isabella. With input from me they'll get it done, and Isabella will love the attention. I'll post a pic when they finish. Enthusiasm in kids is to be encouraged!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Finished, worn, loved

I finished my dress in plenty of time to wear to dinner last night. I was right about the bias dropping. I don't know how much extra it dropped for being hung for two days, but I was confident when I hemmed it that it'd be fine.

You can see in this photo what a big difference there is in length around the hem. The longest point is on the true bias.

I had no helpers when it came time to mark the hem, so took a deep breath and did it solo. I put the dress on and marked where I wanted it to hit. It was quite a challenge to hold it steady against my thigh while I marked a point just below my knee! From there it was a simple matter of putting it on my dummy and marking it by measuring up from the floor with a long ruler. My fear doing it solo is that while my dummy is very similarly proportioned to me it isn't as accurate as getting a helper to mark it on me. I figured it wasn't going to be significantly out even if it was a tad. (I've done this before with success, but not for a while). I have one of those chalk puffer thingies for marking your own hems, but I'm, um, not sure which box in the roof it's in.

Anyway, after doing my baby hem on the dress and pressing it and putting on a decent bra (which makes a huge difference!), it looks like this:

Photo credit to the overexcited nine year old who was looking forward to being babysat by her aunt and staying up past bedtime to help her with the twins!

And here's the one she took of me and David just before we left. That's Nicholas' head in the corner. Nothing happens in this house without his investigating! David's shirt is one of approximately 15+ I have made over the years for him or his twin brother. It's my absolute favourite, Burda 8471 I can churn one out in no time - the fit needed very little tweaking, so he doesn't need to be involved till I hand him a completed shirt. He likes this.
We had a great dinner with my parents (Dad's thanks for making the boat cover). It was great fun being with just them - usually when we catch up there are lots of other family members around, and it was really good having a long uninterrupted time to natter. We reminisced about all sorts of things, like our family reunion tramp of the Milford Track when I was 15. It started raining within 5 minutes of the boat dropping us off, we nearly got held up for a day by flooding on the track, the McKinnon pass was covered in mist (and rain of course) so we slogged up all those zigzags and didn't get to see any of the view, and it stopped raining AS I WALKED OUT AT THE FAR END! (The Sutherland Falls were spectacular though.) Dad got the best work day of his life at a similar time (my bitter and twisted memory is that it was a week later, but he thinks not) by being flown over the area in glorious sunshine in a helicopter to inspect some tie-down thing he had designed for a radio mast up a mountain in the area. Tough life.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ahh - that's better!

Because I really can't leave well enough alone, here's the pic I took after I pressed the CB seam and checked that the dress was hanging straight! It's still not perfect, but I declare it Good Enough. The slight rippling you can see in the zip seems to be caused by the gaps between the sections on my dummy. As far as I can tell when I try it on they aren't there.

Now I can move on ;-)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Who was I kidding?

Um, yeah, I had that zip unpicked and redone within an hour of my last post! Natasha was right - it would bug me every time I looked at it. Thanks everyone for the helpful comments. The seam isn't on the true bias, and being a back seam it has a curve at the waist, further complicating things. My wedding dress was also stretch charmeuse cut on the bias, and I had to do the zip a couple of times to get it right. Fortunately I remembered yesterday what I did - I stretched the fabric as far as I could as I applied the zip. You'd expect that to make the zip very ripply, but it actually counteracts the weight of the skirt almost perfectly. I took a very hurried pic after I finished but before I pressed it. (Twins were waking up and sewing time was over for the day, sigh.....)

If you click on it you can see it bigger. When I put the pic on the computer I realised that one side looks fine and one puckered, but I swear both were smooth when I tossed it on the dummy! I think it "caught" on the fuzzy dummy cover as I carried it outside. Anyway, sleepless night averted, and I'm now happy with the zip. (Or I will be after I press it and check it is smooth on me.)

I left it on the dummy overnight to let the bias drop. Since the fabric has elastane in it it is less susceptible to dropping, but I'm still expecting to have to even out the hem. Today's job is to finish the neckline and armhole edges, and then I'll leave it on the dummy overnight again before hemming it tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Do I or don't I?

So far today I've joined the two halves of the dress, and I'm happy with the fit. However, I'm not thrilled with the CB zip/seam. I basted that sucker with two lines of stitching before I sewed it in, and I tried it on the dummy about five times while I was working on it. It was flat and smooth when I did it, but on the dummy it kind of puckers at the waist. I showed David when he came home for lunch and he didn't see the puckers till I pointed them out.

If you click on the picture you can see a bigger view. I took the shot outside in bright sunlight to show as much detail as possible. I have a bit more butt than the dummy, so it sits more smoothly over my backside.

So my question is this - is it worth ripping out that zip and trying again? David reckons that it is not noticable enough to be worth it, and I'm scared that a rework won't improve it to any significant degree. I have a horrible feeling that I'm going to be tossing and turning all night trying to talk myself into leaving it, and in the morning I'm going to rip the bugger out and do it over. And I'll feel so much better for doing so. (I did say I'm a bit inclined to be anal.)

Finished party dress, and MY dress

Here is J's finished dress on my dummy. She forgot to bring her undergarment when she picked it up, so I didn't see it on her. She did bring the belt and shoes she's going to wear with it. I love that red! It sits better on her than the dummy (as most things do), but you get the idea. I made red thread belt loops to hold the belt in place, so she can never wear it belt less now!

Gail asked why I didn't pin the neckline stay tape directly to the inside. Basically, because I am incredibly anal. (There's a reason I call my blog Everything Just Sew!) Bodies can be asymmetrical, and to ensure the neckline fits her properly I had to pin it from the right side. If I'd done it inside out there's a chance it would have sat differently if one shoulder was higher than the other, for example.

So after that was done, it was time for MY dress! I had no problem picking fabric and pattern from my collection. I got to it yesterday while the twins were asleep. I was planning to get as much done as possible, so needed fuel. I like this fuel. I chuck them all in a bowl so I never know what flavour I get till I eat it. (Entertainment as well as a snack!) Better not do it too often or I'll undo all the effort I've put in losing 10kg and my dress won't fit.

For my pattern I chose Vogue 2786, a vintage pattern I've had for a couple of years. I'm not keen on long dresses, so shortened it to about knee length. That also saved a LOT of fabric, since it's cut on the bias. I've had these two printed stretch satins for a couple of years as well. I love that one is a negative image of the other. I figured that would highlight the gathered section without being too big a contrast.
I'd traced it a couple of years ago to make in a cotton, but the fabric turned out to be elasticated and pulled into a wide seersucker effect when I prewashed it. Totally inappropriate for this dress, so the pattern sat forlornly waiting for the right fabric. A quick measure showed that while most of me is back at pre-baby size, my bust is still at production volume and I needed a bit more room there! The easiest way to get it was simply to add a bit extra at CF and CB and figure it out with fitting.
Here's one of the gathered insets sewn to it's stay. It's a bit hard to see, but the corners curl up because the stay is a very tight fit. This should make the inset sit nice and snug against my body, which will make the gathers sit in tightish folds - there's nothing worse than floppy gathers sitting around your middle!

And here's one completed half pinned to the dummy. I've done both halves, and hope during today's nap to get them joined together. The pattern has you do a hand rolled hem at the edges, but I don't fancy that - too wimpy for armholes and neckline for my taste. I'm going to use narrow strips of self fabric as facings instead. They also use a conventional zip, which I've ditched in favour of an invisible one, and I raised the back. Several months at the gym mean I could wear a low back with confidence, but no amount of work at the gym is going to render my front capable of going without a bra and I don't fit my low backed one at the moment! I'm really not looking forward to hemming this. Bias cut stretch charmeuse. Oh yay.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Party dress progress

After the boat cover, it was quite a change to work on a dress! Since it's a one shouldered style I decided to stay the neckline with twill tape. In order to do that I had J try on the dress, right way out, and pinned the tape along the neckline on the right side, snugging the bodice to her body where needed.
Then of course I had to move it to the inside without losing the dimensions. That was easily accomplished by marking tape and dress at several points with pairs of pins before moving the tape to the inside.
After moving the tape to the inside, I sewed it in, easing the excess as I went. I used a LOT of pins to make it even.

Since gettng to this point I've sewn in the lining (I wish I'd photographed that, since it was an interesting exercise getting it in and understitched to neckline and armhole.)
And for no useful reason, here's a gratuitous skitey photo of me sitting on Dad's boat earlier today. I went out there so we could have a photoshoot of the cover totally finished. The weather was beautiful, which never hurts. This shot just shows how the sides can be rolled up so you can fish even if it's raining. (Dad has such a tough life!)
Hmm, from this angle my legs look about three inches long.