Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What next?

So I need another epic project obviously, and a dress in Alabama Chanin's 2017 build a wardrobe series caught my eye. I could wait till it's released in July and buy the pattern, or.....

Yeah, waiting so isn't my strong suit!

The pattern is made up of parts of several, all modified further to acheive my aim. The front is from AC's camisole dress, much modified, the back from the wrap top I drafted a couple of years ago, which I think started life as AC's T shirt pattern, lengthened and flared to match the front, and nipped in both vertically and horizontally at the waist.

The toile I freely admit doesn't look amazing. It looks tight. When made in a fabric with no elastane, it should give just enough to be perfect. I'm completely satisfied with it as a pattern, but need to get started on something very soon so I don't have to look at this picture for too much longer!

I am now mulling over fabric colours, stencil ideas, further embelloshment ideas and so on. I think I know where I'm going with this.....

Monday, October 10, 2016

Epic and done

Well, I finished! This is how they looked together.

This is how the collar and pleated hem trim are attached to a separate vest. They have domes to hold the two layers securely together when worn. I may never wear the jacket without them, but you never know!

I'm having trouble getting my tablet to cooperate writing this, so I'm giving up for tonight! I may have to resort to the desktop computer tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The WOW jacket saga continues

It feels like I have been at this forever. (Which I pretty much have.) This jacket has been an extremely time intensive project! I have to confess that it really makes me smile when I read other people's sewing blogs when they mention something that took many days being a major project. While they are right, that makes this one truly epic.

Most days I put in multiple hours on it. (And have done for many weeks) Today was four and a half hours, which I manage several times every week. Often more at the weekends.

I've got the fronts, collar pieces and sleeves beaded, stitched, snipped, sequined and ready for assembly. The backs have been beaded, stitched and snipped, but there is further beading and sequin applying to be done after The Gecko. The vest to which the collar will be attached has yet to be started, but is very simple and won't take long.

The CB seam is done...

And after waiting aaaaaaaages for it's release, I got Magical Jungle by Johanna Basford last Friday. For this guy.

He's been enlarged to 122% and mirrored with a photocopier. One foot needed to be moved slightly to avoid a beaded leaf.

Then traced onto press'n'seal and applied to the seamed jacket back. Now the ever so time consuming process of backstitching the whole thing.

I can't change the order of these photos on my tablet and I'm too tired to find a teenager to do it for me, so the last pic should have been earlier, the photocopy pinned to the jacket to determine placement.

Since I took these photos a few days ago I've got right around The Gecko's perimeter and I've just about completed all the tail.

As much as I am enjoying every aspect of this Most Epic project, I don't much like the sense that I must work on it in every available moment just to be certain of completing it. The fact that I am always wanting to work on it is so far dominating the attitude, but if obligation to meet a deadline overcomes desire, that would majorly suck. Not terribly likely!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The bug dress

Here it is. Complete (probably) apart from a meandering flight path to be added with bugle beads for the two bees.

Thanks to Ange at work for quickly snapping these between customers. My shoes are a perfect match for the jacket I'm feverishly working on, and one of those the-op-shop-gods-are-smiling-on-me! moments. A pair of Mi Piaci shoes with the $210 price tag still on the sole, look unworn, in my size, for $25 at the Hospice Shop a couple of doors down from work. I LOVE that place!

Can you guess what the back of my running top looks like?! I have sock tan lines too, which I really hate. At least I only see these tan lines if I see a photo of my back.

A few gratuitous detail shots.

Now I am anxiously awaiting the release of Johanna Basford's new colouring book, Magical Jungle. I saw her show it on Facebook, and there are at least two images which would look amazing on the back of my jacket! A jungle nymph and a gecko. I should have a month after the book is released to embroider one onto the jacket before WOW. No pressure....

Saturday, May 28, 2016

What to Wear to the World of Wearable Arts aWard shoW in Wellington.

Moving along, sorry, had to see just how many Ws I could get in the title. Anyway, Georgia and I are counting down till we go to Wellington with my sister to see the WOW show with a couple of our cousins. It should be a ton of fun, and an excellent excuse to wear a bug embroidered dress. So now I need a jacket to wear with it.

The pattern is based originally on the Alabama Chanin t shirt pattern which I modified for my wrap top a couple of years ago. Three iterations were needed to get the pattern right. Sometimes the simplest designs are the hardest to execute - few seams and no  darts to help with shaping in order to minimize breaks in the stenciled design. I ended up literally eyeballing the sleeve cap after copying the shape of the lower sleeve from a work cardy, and measuring the armhole of my new pattern. I laid a tape measure on it's side to give me the right dimensions and winged it. To my smug delight, I was completely happy with how it sat when I made up a toile.

Then I went to stencil, and opened my jar of white fabric paint.

Rude words were said, and a trip was made to Warehouse Stationery. Then back to stencilling with the New Leaves stencil from Alabama Chanin.

And now I have all the top layer stencilled and drying.

I have a few cunning plans for this jacket. I just need to finish a whole campervan of curtains, and formal dresses for Georgia and one of her friends, and my bug dress (which is almost done) and there are only four months to go......

Monday, January 4, 2016

Alabama Chanin meets Johanna Basford

I have been awfully quiet here lately. Blame it on Life, lack of mojo, who knows? Sometimes I'm inspired to document my makes, sometimes I'm not. Usually I post finished items, but this time I thought I'd post a progress report! If I get around to it I should post about the feather stencilled/embroidered Alabama Chanin skirt I made too.

Currently working on a four panel dress, in Alabama Chanin's new leaves stencil, which I purchased as downloadable artwork from their website, printed out, and traced onto laminator plastic as a stencil. I'm really pleased with the green fabric, which was my first attempt at dying for years. (All the pictures are of the same fabric. Vagaries of indoor photos and phone camera make it look different.) The underlayer is off white.

Anyone not living under a rock recently will be aware of the current craze for adult colouring books (boy did it make me cringe typing THAT into google!). I happened upon some by a Scottish (I think) illustrator called Johanna Basford and leafing through one saw a page of gorgeous bugs. That set the wheels spinning in my brain, and this dress exploded into my imagination, because, BUG DRESS!

No effort is being made to be biologically accurate to any actual insect, or arachnid.  I blew up the picture in question as the bugs were too small to render on my cotton knit fabric.  Stitches are a simple back stitch, chain stitch and couching. I'm using hand/machine embroidery thread, mostly polyester, one or two rayon. The metallic emroidery thread is being couched with embroidery thread.  I have no idea how this will stand up to wear, so the bugs are being embroidered onto scraps of fabric which I will applique onto the stitched dress panels. Then I can remove or replace as required. I can play with placement ideas this way too. When the excess fabric around each bug is cut away more leaves will show and they won't look so chunky on the dress.

I bought three of Johanna Basford's books, and nobody is allowed to colour in them! It could be a while before this theme runs it's course....

(This is the first post I've managed to write using my tablet rather than desktop computer, and since I use my tablet almost exclusively, maybe that's why I don't post more often!)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Gray skirt.

Hehehe - only time I will spell the colour "gray".  (In honour of David Gray naturally. Yes I'm that easily amused.) I finished my skirt in time for the concert, which was seriously bucket-list amazing!  Best.Event.Ever.

Here's a dodgy phone pic of how I wore it to work afterwards.  I wore the silver top (a Vogue Issey Miyake design I made a few years ago), no tights, and a dressier jacket to the concert.  Too excited to get a pic of that! Did I mention that the concert was AMAZING!?

And after I finished that I started this dress.  Which I put aside for a while to work on something else, then came back to and finished in record time.  If I'd gone full-on from start to finish it would have been done in less than a fortnight!  

I wanted to try this dress pattern (the long version of my words top) before I commit to a more labour-intensive embellishment idea.  I like it!  I love the cardy I'm wearing in the above pic - a mid weight long sleeved bolero from work, which I do not yet own.  It matches my dress perfectly, so I think it might be my next purchase.....

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Queue jumping projects

I've long been guilty of abandoning a project part-way through in favour of one which takes my fancy Right Now.  Unless I have a specific deadline I have come to embrace this - I won't be working on the project I'm not inspired by anyway, so I might as well set it aside.  Usually I come back to these projects with renewed enthusiasm or ideas.

I've just set aside my current Alabama Chanin project (the pale orange skirt and top I set aside to go back to the rose dress which in turn had been set aside for those!) because in April David Gray is playing in Christchurch.  He is my absolute all time favourite singer so I am positively bouncing with excitement and counting down till the concert (which I'm going to with my sister).  Naturally that needs a new outfit.  I would LOVE to have made a grey rose dress, but two months isn't long enough, so I figured I'd make a skirt. (I've been having fun winding up Georgia by saying I should wear all grey because his name is Gray.  She says "No. Mum. Just No")

I started with this dress, which I got in an Op Shop (I think it was Paperbag Princess) for $2 last year.  No way would I wear it like this.
However, it's a lovely soft rayon knit and has only one side seam and one shoulder seam, meaning I could harvest the whole thing for fabric.  After cutting the four skirt panels there is a nice big chunk left, which will become something else.

Therese asked how I print onto fabric.  Well it's very low tech.  I cut a stencil from laminator plastic (I get the nice people at Warehouse Stationery to run me through an empty piece, which costs me a few dollars).  This one is made from some offcuts they gave me for nothing, taped together.  I apply the fabric paint (Fastex brand, because that is what is available locally, and it works just fine) using a foam roller and tray which cost about $9 from Bunnings.  I leave the painted panels to dry overnight then heat set the paint with an iron.

This is the first panel with most roses stitched and snipped, a few beaded, and a few left to bead if I have time before April.

Closer shot.  The underlayer is pale blue, but appears quite greyish against the darker grey.  The paint is white, but looks pale grey on the dark grey as well.

How long till April?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Nougat. Finally.

I abandoned this dress last summer, in a bout of apathy over our dismal summer.  It sat in many, many pieces for a very long time until I found my "to sew" list actually empty of stuff for other people.  I've been chipping away at it for a while, and today seemed like a good day to finish - start the new year by completing a UFO! (Note that for a change I am looking at the camera, and smiling - David is on holiday and took these for me!)

I'm not thrilled with it, but that is not the fault of the pattern, which I absolutely love.  I used two rather light, and not opaque cottons. Underlining gave the required opacity but created considerable bulk which was difficult to deal with.  Inside there are places that look like a total dog's breakfast, and my seam matching along one side seam is sooooooo not up to my usual very anal standard. Since matching the seams was going to cause more problems I elected to leave them be and be satisfied that at least the seam lengths matched and the zip is smooth.

The biggest issue is simply that I am not the same size that I was when I started it.  It fits, but not that well. Not the fault of dress or pattern.  Being cotton, it will give a little with wear, which will help. (Oh  yes, I am definitely going to wear this!)

I'll just have to make it again, in a more appropriate fabric and size.  Because I still neeeeeeeeed this dress.  It is such a cool design, and a fun, challenging make.  Things I really love in a pattern.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Slow roses

Well these were a long time coming - both dress and post!  Shortly after I last posted the manager at work resigned, and I worked full time for two months while a new one was recruited, worked out her notice at her previous job, and was trained.  (She is really lovely, so worth waiting for!) I know plenty of women work full time and manage a family, and sew, etc etc etc but I found that by the time I got home at 6pm (when it was dark, since it was winter) I was totally lacking in motivation to actually sew anything.  I continued sporadic work on this dress (which I know I'd begun by January) missing two deadlines by which I'd considered finishing, before a final full-on push to finish in time to wear it to a barbecue we were invited to the day after a wedding we were also invited to, in Wanaka last weekend.

Tada!  End result of almost a year's work, around 100 hours probably.  Alabama Chanin six panel dress, rose stencil adapted from a design I found in a library book.

Once again  a side turned head I'm afraid - I could not get a shot of my face that didn't make me go "Urgh!" and hit the delete button.  The tripod pics get the job done, but a real live person behind the camera gets a much better shot!

I also made a new dress to wear to the wedding (naturally!) but did not get a single photo of myself at said wedding, so will have to dress up for the camera some other time.  Not today because the dress on which I based the pattern is in the laundry and I need to show both of them.  Hopefully it won't take me four-ish months to get around to it.  No promises.

Edited to add - I've just proofread this after publishing and noticed some words are underlined and link to ads!  I'm not active enough online to have any idea what that's about, so my apologies for the annoyance, I'll get my tech support team (ie, the teenagers) to explain it to me and see if we can make it go away.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

I made a dress. And undies.

I find the sewing mojo tends to desert me in winter, despite the fact that my sewing desk is in a lovely sunny corner of my house, flooded with sun and natural light and lovely to work at.  This winter is no exception, and I have a pile of projects in various stages of completion - some just vague plans, some concrete plans with pattern and fabric selected, some cut out, some partly sewn.  I find it best to just go with whatever project fires me at the time.

Which was this dress a week or so ago.  I'd seen it in the April Burda (style #106) and decided that I Must Have It.  I even had that issue out of the library before it hit the store shelves here, but didn't get around to tracing it because I didn't have fabric chosen.  Then when sorting my fabric stash I came across this one which fit the bill perfectly - very drapey, neutral colour. I bought the magazine on a Friday and finished the dress Monday night, leap-frogging SEVERAL other already started projects. Typical.

The front collar thing drapes really nicely, but I did end up hand sewing it from the point to where it is joined a bit further up the neckline. It flopped just a bit more than I liked. Next time I make this (I feel a shorter version coming on, to wear with jeans) I'll just sew it in all along the neckline seam.

It is a bit wrinkly from wearing, which I didn't notice till I looked at these pics, and rushing to get in front of the camera after pressing the timer button means that I didn't get the collar to sit perfectly either, oops. I love the shapely little cap sleeves.

I made a straight unaltered size 36, which with the benefit of hindsight would be perfect if I wanted to wear it like this, but it is winter here, and COLD. So I wear it with my cosy warm tech merino under it, bulking things up a bit.  For work I wear it with this mid-weight cardy over the top, leggings and my beloved pink boots.  I love that this colour was introduced by work because it matches them perfectly!

I feel I should apologise for the pretty uninspiring photos here. Today is my day off and quite frankly I've been that busy lately that the thought of brushing my hair, let alone styling it nicely, or in any other way making an effort was just Too Much. I figured I'd snap these and at least get it posted.  Maybe next time I wear it to work I'll take some better ones - better yet, get David to take them because he makes me smile. I feel like an idiot smiling at a camera on a tripod so tend to look a bit dour.

My other quick project was these - the Rosy Ladyshorts from Cloth Habit.

I haven't made myself undies for over 20 years, but find as I get older I'm getting fussier about how I like them to fit, so thought I'd give this pattern a go. The fabric is an offcut from a drapey cardy I altered for one of my craft group friends. It needed the droopy front point reduced, and what I cut off was big enough to trial these undies. I made them exactly according to instructions and I like how they turned out.  I haven't worn them yet since I only made them yesterday evening and wanted to photograph them before wearing, so I'll report later on how they are!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The $7 Tinkerbell costume

Georgia was going to a Peter Pan themed birthday party (can we just take a moment here to rejoice in a bunch of 14 year olds who think this would be fun, rather than something involving pretty much any celebrity of their demographic?) Anyway, she wanted to go as Tinkerbell, which I thought would be a really easy costume to make. It was. It was also very cheap!

I found this cotton waffle weave dressing gown in Tinkerbell green in an op shop for $1. Score!

After cutting out the pieces for the dress, this was all we had left. The pattern for the dress was a blend of two patterns - bodice from #124 and skirt from #110 from Burda 06/96. This is why I have a large collection of Burda back issues. I can always find a pattern which will speed up any drafting required for any style I need! Fabric constraints meant that I had to fold out one of the skirt pleats which reduced the very pronounced hips that Tink has, but it was close enough. Georgia requested that her skirt be a tad longer than Tink's also. (ie, not in danger of showing her knickers if she bent over) Phew!

And here's Tinkerbell. I bought her wings at a dollar type shop for $3.50 and she bought a can of yellow hairspray for $2.50. She made a wand from a twig painted pink and tied on various scraps of organza ribbon which I had lying around. My clear strapped bra and green shoes finished her off.

I did pin fit the bodice on Georgia, but that was the total extent of care taken! No internal structure whatsoever (the dress is safety pinned to her bra), no seam finishing other than clipping and topstitching open. The hem is raw and the only time any of the project saw an iron was when I needed to press the dressing gown's front band open to cut facings from it. Rather different from my usual anal attitude that Everything must be Just So.

And to finish, while we were taking photos Isabella wanted in on the act. Big sisters being what they are, Georgia photobombed.

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!