Two dresses, a jacket and no funerals… yet

This all happen last month.  I was so excited about my amazing accomplishment and wanted to broadcast it to the world but life got in the way.  My mum got out of hospital after a three month stay and I’ve been kept extremely busy looking after her since then so haven’t had a chance to blog about this but here’s my big news:

I made three garments in two weeks! Wow! I’m not sure I’ve ever managed that before. I probably have in the misty obscurity of my past when I was young and full of the joys of life but these days I’m just not normally that productive.

First I made my Pacifika garden party ensemble for the big garden party we’re going to have at work this Thursday.  I’m kind of a bit too wrung out now to organise the party but my colleagues are going to help.  I’m really looking forward to wearing this crazy outfit, it’s been a bit difficult to resist the temptation to wear it before the party now that the weather is improving.  My daughter has told me that I’m not allowed to wear the dress and jacket together unless I’m at the garden party but sometimes she’s still asleep when I’m leaving the house and what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.

I love these bright colours and now I want to get more of this kind of fabric to make stuff.

I seem to have put the patterns I used away and can’t find them to show you but the dress is the super-cute Simplicity 1873 by Cynthia Rowley and the jacket is a discontinued Butterick pattern.

The second dress I made for my lovely friend Tracy to wear to the Porirua Business Excellence Awards.  Tracy is my double neighbour, she sits next to me at work and we live really close to each other.  She asked me if I could copy a dress, which she’d bought recently, in a more evening appropriate fabric and I said yes, crazily thinking a week would be plenty of time.  It would have been if things had gone normally, but you know how sometimes stuff which is normally a piece of cake and you’ve done it a million times before so you can normally do it blindfolded and with one hand tied behind your back just doesn’t go as you know it should.  The pattern just didn’t work out.  What should have taken me an evening took a whole extra day of mucking around, but fortunately once I got the pattern wrestled into submission the rest of the project behaved and I got it finished at lunchtime on the day of the Awards.

First we went for a speed shopping trip to The Fabric Warehouse which had just had a huge shipment of gorgeous spring fabrics arrive and this fabric jumped out when Tracy saw it.  It’s an utterly gorgeous cotton/polyester blend with a little bit of lustre so it can be worn for dressed up daywear as well as in the evening.  It has a subtle brocade type texture in coral, peach and hot pink. This is what it looks like in natural light.

 

This is the dress I copied, it’s the Loobies Story Indochine dress and it’s very beautiful, the fabric is a lovely heavy textured cotton which holds it’s structure really well.  To get the same structured effect I underlined the fabric with a silk organza.

The fitted dress has princess seams, pleated cap sleeves and a slit in the front, which turned out to be a bit indecent without the mini pom-pom trim on the neckline of the original so I sewed a modesty panel behind the slit so everyone at Tracy’s table didn’t get an eyeful of her spectacular cleavage all night. The original dress has a vent in the back but I didn’t put one in the replica because the skirt isn’t tight.

I used an old Vogue princess seam sheath dress pattern I had in my stash. It’s a size 10 and Tracy is slightly bigger than that with a full bust but the fit was ironed out with a FBA and some adjustments to the muslin.  It’s been a long time since I made a garment for someone with a bigger-than-B-cup bust.  I’m so used to patterns just fitting me out of the envelope, I had forgotten what an interesting exercise it is to get a 2-D object to fit around a very 3-D surface, but it all came back to me pretty quickly.  I had trouble with drafting the sleeve and adding in the pleats, it kept pulling and not sitting right so in the end I just draped it which was what I should have done in the first place.

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The assembly was very straight forward once I’d got all the organza and fabric layers hand basted together. It’s a simple dress and it went together really quickly. I had to use my walking foot to feed the layers of silk organza underling and outer fabric evenly and I hand tacked the invisible zipper before machine sewing it in with my invisible zipper foot otherwise the feed dogs were going to pull the fabric too much and kind of gather it onto the zip. I overlocked/serged the raw edges after I stitched the seams.

Muslin used as the pattern which is marked onto the silk organza with a tracing wheel and dressmakers carbon
Hand basting silk organza onto fashion fabric with silk thread

I was intending to line the dress but by the time it was underlined I felt it was heavy enough for a spring-summer dress and didn’t want Tracy to roast if she chose to wear it in warmer weather.  I can always put a lining in it later if she decides she’d like one.

The only hand finishing was the hems, stitching down the facing and sewing in the panel behind the slit.  Then I dropped it off after a thorough press over my ham.  After Tracy put it on she had to dash off to the event so there was no time for a photo so, until I get around to visiting her and getting a proper picture of her modelling it I just have a hanger picture, which really doesn’t do it justice because it looks about a million times better on.

My timing was a bit out on these projects, I was a month early for Froctober over on The Monthy Stitch and now I’ll have to make another dress for that. I have plans to make a lot of really nice dresses for the coming summer and my daughter has a growing list of sewing projects for me too.

I’m very tied up with looking after Mum so hopefully I’ll manage to get something done, in between spending almost all my time, when I’m not at work, looking after her, and hopefully I won’t die of exhaustion or go crazy before she’s able to move into a rest home in two weeks.  As I type this at 10pm, she is getting things out of the pantry to make her breakfast because she thinks it’s the morning even though I’ve told her twice that it’s time to go back to bed.  Hanging out with her while she wanders around the house six times a night thinking it’s time to get up could be quite entertaining if I didn’t have a full-time day job as well.  Thank goodness I only have to do six nights of sleepovers before her night carer comes back from her trip away, then I’ll be back to just visiting two or three times every day.  She’s pretty hardy despite her dementia, I’m definitely not as resilient and I’m finding it really hard to keep up with all my commitments.  When she gets into her rest home apartment I’m going to be so excited to have a break.
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The Great WSBN Sewing Room Tour of 2014

This month the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network is doing a sewing room tour after Gemma from Sixty Six Stitches brilliantly suggested it as a good way to kick off our southern hemisphere spring.  I wonder whether she was secretly trying to get us doing a bit of spring cleaning in our sewing rooms?

Check out the other great creative spaces starting with Gemma’s, followed by Laura, Sophie-Lee, Nikki, Juliet, Sandra J, Kat, Holly, MaryLouise, Nina, Sandra M and yesterday was Melissa’s turn but today I’m hogging the limelight, yeah!!

Unlike most of the other WSBN bloggers I don’t have an actual sewing room.  My daughter, Monica, and I live in a two bedroom townhouse with an open plan lounge/kitchen/dining area and my sewing space is along one wall.  It is supposed to be contained there but frequently expands into the rest of the room, partly out of necessity – I have to use the dining table for cutting out and overlocking – but I’m also quite messy and have far too much fabric and other stuff.  Poor Mon puts up with a lot and she’s a very tidy person so she regularly cracks the whip to get me to tidy up a bit, otherwise there’s no telling what the place would look like, we’d probably end up on one of those ‘world’s worst hoarders’ TV shows if I hadn’t already suffocated under a fabric avalanche.

I’ve had dedicated sewing rooms in other houses but I actually really love living in a little house, it only takes  minutes to vacuum the whole place and it’s really easy to keep warm, and not having a dedicated sewing space might keep me a bit tidier than I would otherwise be, however Mon might disagree with that.

Here’s what my sewing space looked like this morning before I started getting it ‘sewing ready’.  I have a big screen which is supposed to hide everything, in theory I can put it in front of my sewing area and it just blends in and looks like a wall.  Mon hates it and thinks it’s ugly but I think it’s a vast improvement on looking at what’s hiding behind it.  I can turn it around so that the cross braces don’t show which looks more wall-esque.

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The green ivy print object in the bottom right corner is the back of my couch so you can see how small the space is.  The couch is covered in a hideous fabric which looks like Popeye had a huge feed, then threw up all over it, but it has really good bones.  I purchased it on Trademe for $100, it’s over 60 years old and came from Maple & Co in London and from there travelled to the Middle East and San Francisco before settling in New Zealand.  One day I’m going to have it recovered and it will be fabulous.

But back to sewing….

I bought a vintage blonde oak veneer wardrobe and installed shelves so I could store just about everything in it.  It’s on the right behind the screen.

  • From the top:  baskets and bags contain wool, knitwit patterns and other bulky things.  Bluey the cat by textile artist Pru Durrant keeps an eye on the action.
  • On the top shelf I keep boxes, baskets and tins of notions – buttons, zips, laces, bindings, embroidery threads etc.
  • The second shelf holds stationery, drawers of pens, art materials and equipment.
  • The third shelf is the home of my cameras and accessories, paints, our wireless printer and paper supplies.
  • The sets of drawers store sewing and craft equipment and art supplies.  Knitting needles are stored in canisters in the gap beside the drawers
  • Monica’s sewing machine and my two overlockers live on the bottom shelf.  There’s space for another sewing machine in there but that’s currently living at my lovely man’s house because I need to sew sometimes when I’m there.
  • I’ve got PDF and traced patterns for projects I want to make soon hanging on the door

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I collect interesting tins for storing different types of buttons and other small items

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Larger stuff like lace, trims, zips and elastic live in baskets and boxes in the top of the cupboard.

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Out of everything in my sewing area these two get the most use, my Bernina Favorit 740 sewing machine purchased  for $40 on Trademe, which must be the bargain of the century.  It was made in 1964 so it’s a bit older than I am, but she’s ageing very gracefully.  I love this machine, it purrs like a kitten and sews everything beautifully;  and my Phillips iron which I chose because it was the steamiest one I could find at the time.  I like to have plenty of steam to shape and manipulate wools and get a good sharp crease in natural fibres.

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I like to keep some things close to hand so my thread snips, pins, bobbins, machine feet, needles, seam gauges, tailors chalk and stuff like that live in the drawers in and on my sewing machine table.

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On the right of my sewing table I’ve got an untidy bunch of rolls of fabric, horsehair interfacing and tracing vilene.  I’m part way through reupholstering the lid of the basket on the left which will then get some kind of as-yet-undecided-on paint job.  Once it’s finished I’ll use it as a place to hide WIPs and not so much a surface to dump things on.

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And speaking of projects for my sewing room I have a small shelf and a set of drawers from a treadle sewing machine waiting for a paint finish to match the basket.  Eventually I’d like to paint my sewing machine table and apply a paint effect to my big storage cupboard.  Someday my sewing area will look coordinated and stylish like other people’s.

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The stacks of boxes on the left contain interfacing, linings, my top priority patterns and WIPs.

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Here are the ‘girls’.  The svelte white one adjusted down to it’s smallest size is Mon and the Singer one wearing my latest WIP – the Style Arc Zara dress – is me.  Occassionally when Mon’s boyfriend, Wiremu, visits strange things happen to Mon’s double, I sometimes find that the hips and chest have been dialled up as large as possible, it’s quite unsettling.

My Singer is getting quite elderly now, I’ve probably had her 20 years and she’s seen better days.  Her velour covering is detaching from the metal plates.  When I tried sticking it back down with spray glue it just left a white mess on the fabric so she’s due for a nip and tuck.  I was going to try recovering her with a jersey knit with a thin cotton batting underneath which would be a major undertaking because she’ll have to come apart completely, but I saw Sandra J has a black cover on hers in her sewing room tour, so I’m going to keep it simple and just cover up all her flaws.

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You may have noticed I quite like old things.  I have my mother’s chain stitch sewing machine which she used as a child in the 1930s and 40s. I used to sew with it as a child too but the needle has broken and a standard one is too long.  One day I’ll go on a hunt to find the right size so I can get it working again.

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I’m unintentionally accumulating a collection of vintage buttons and buckles.  Most of these are from vintage fairs and fabric-a-brac.  There’s an amazing button lady in Wellington who does the rounds of vintage and sewing markets and most of my favourites have been purchased from her, but the rococo buckle at top left was bought in a Dunbar Sloane antique auction in Wellington and the silver mermaid buckle is a family piece.  I made it into a belt with wide black elastic and wore it with a half circle vintage taffeta skirt in the late 80s – early 90s, it looked amazing and I wish I still had a little waist like that.  When I see beautiful old things like this I can’t resist them, I have to buy them because I might never see anything like them again.

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I have a domestic goddess section in my bookshelf which includes my sewing books and my collection of Mrs Beaton’s books of household management, but considering how messy I am I don’t think anyone would believe I’ve ever read them.  I mainly look at them for the entertainment value and interesting recipes like mock turtle soup, pease pudding and syllabub.

Because space is limited in my house, I’ve started buying ebooks rather than physical copies which brings me to my favourite piece of technology, my iPad.  I’ve got everything on there – ebooks, PDF patterns, all 170 Threads Magazine issues off my Threads archive DVD, Craftsy videos, blog readers and blog creating apps, and a database I’m building of my fabric and patterns.  Luckily I got the 128GB one, I’ve already used half of that, 24GB alone in downloaded Craftsy videos.

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I know what you’re thinking, where is all the fabric?!  Well we have to go somewhere entirely different to see that – the garage.  Some people think that garages are for cars but, as sewers, we know better.  Garages are actually for storing fabric, only sad people who don’t own enough fabric to fill a garage have to put cars in them.  I do have more boxes of fabric and patterns in my garage but the back corner is the part I’ve tidied up and it’s the only bit suitable for public consumption.  Hagrid is standing on my vintage Singer 201K sewing machine.  I’ll take you on a stash tour another time, that could be a very big blog post!

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You’d think that having my sewing space in my living area would actually allow me to sew a lot because I could do it while spending time with my family or watching TV.  I could probably even sew a couple of seams while cooking dinner, and sometimes this does happen, but not as often as I’d like.  I don’t have any particularly good excuses, my TV is even on a big, extendible, swivelly arm so I can pull it out from the wall and point it at the sewing area (which does come in handy if I want to stream a Craftsy video from my iPad to my TV via my Apple TV).  I think it’s mostly due to overcommitment, disorganisation, lack of prioritising and exhaustion which are actually all things I can change.  How does that saying go?  If you don’t have a plan you might end up where you’re going, ie nowhere.  I just Googled that and couldn’t find anything close so perhaps I just made up a quote!

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Here it is relatively respectable and ready to sew.  Sewing is my happy place, so this is my happy sewing space.  I’m wondering why I don’t spend more time there…

So, what am I going to make next?  Well we’re planning a staff ‘garden party’ at Pataka, the gallery where I work, because we’re about to install an exhibition of beautiful Karl Maughan garden paintings and we haven’t had a silly dress up party for a ages.  Our children’s activity space has been turned into a ‘garden’ so we’re going to hold it in there – why should the kids have all the fun?  I’ve decided everyone needs to wear floral and I’m going to make myself a pasifika theme floral outfit, here’s my fabric and pattern.  I’m really looking forward to the party, I think we’re going to need lots of Pimms and cucumber sandwiches.

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A tour of my sewing space wouldn’t be complete without my little ‘helpers’.  These are our fur-babies, Hagrid up top and Spider, lying on my traced patterns.  Hagrid was having some emotional issues recently, he was very grumpy and anti-social and he was getting a bit vicious – not his normal cuddly affectionate self at all.  We thought we were going to have to take him to the vet to get some kitty prozac (I kid you not, it’s actually a real thing) but then I left an unattended ball of wool on the table.  After he shredded the lovely ball of alpaca boucle we put him on a diet of cheaper odd balls from my stash.  Now there’s always a messy tangle of wool somewhere in our house, usually on the kitchen floor because he loves sliding around in it.  It’s good to see that my stash makes the cat as happy as it makes me.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour of my sewing space.  I love seeing other people’s creative spaces and I’ve really been enjoying the WSBN’s sewing room tour.  There are still plenty more to go so remember to check in and see The Crafty Mermaid’s tomorrow

Happy creating everyone :-)

 

Shopping!

That got your attention didn’t it :-)

I love fabric shopping but what sewer doesn’t.  I’ve almost given up on calling myself a sewer, I think I’m more of a fabric collector and curator.  Unfortunately I work with museum professionals who laugh heartily when I say this and tell me that I’m definitely a hoarder, but what the heck do they know.

I live in a city north of Wellington called Porirua.  Here’s a couple of interesting facts about my home town.  We have the youngest population in the country and also New Zealand’s youngest Mayor, Nick Leggett, who along with our Deputy Mayor, ‘Ana Coffey, form the country’s youngest mayoral team.  Here’s a rap video they made recently all about Porirua’s bid to win the Gigatown competition and get cheap access to gigabit speed ultra-fast broadband.

Here’s a more serious video showing a day in the life of Porirua.  It features my second favorite thing (next to fabric) – Whittaker’s chocolate which is made in our city.  If the wind blows in the right direction on roasting day the whole CBD smells like chocolate.

We’re young, we make the world’s best chocolate, and we also have a very large Pasifika population.  While Pacific people make up 7.4% of the entire population of New Zealand, in Porirua it’s 26.2% so fabric shops in my town look like this!

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A riot of joyous colour and everything is really cheap.

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We’re having a garden party at work soon and I figure I’m going to need a fun floral dress to wear so I’m going to have to make a shopping trip this week.  Yipee!  It’s going to be so difficult to decide what to buy though.

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Lady Skater dress – but with stripes and without skates

Indie pattern month on The Monthly Stitch is going to be the death of me! I missed dresses week but next up was “New to me” week and I managed to make two entries for this section of the competition. Early in the week I finished the Watson jacket from Papercut Patterns and now I’ve made the Lady Skater dress from Kitschy Coo. If I’m still alive by the end of the month I’d like to enter the “The Indie Fan Girl, Level: Ultimate” however as this one involves making an entire outfit (two garments minimum) from one indie pattern designer I’m not sure I’ll be getting it done, mainly because I don’t really feel like making two indie patterns up at the moment, but that could change of course.

I usually don’t manage to submit anything for The Monthly Stitch because I’m not that good at managing my time.  Life tends to get in the way, other things take over and meeting deadlines in my personal life (as well as at work) just seems a bit daunting most days.  Then there’s the blog writing and posting wrestle with WordPress which is made tricky by the fact that I prefer to use my iPad for everything and WordPress and the iPad don’t play nicely together.  However the prizes on offer for Indie Pattern Month were so good I had to try to win something.  The competition is very stiff though, head over to TMS and take a look at the other entries for yourself.

I had four hours sleep last Tuesday after finishing sewing at midnight, then waking up at 4am and not being able to get back to sleep because I started thinking about sewing so I got up at 5.30am to trace patterns for some more indie sewing projects. But who needs sleep when you’ve got indie pattern challenges?! It would be nice if 40 hours of potential sewing time a week wasn’t taken up by my job, but I guess that’s how I get money to buy fabrics, patterns, notions and all the other sewing stuff I love (just between us, I do have a large enough stash to probably keep me sewing full time for months so maybe earning money isn’t that essential).

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Meanwhile I present my lady skater….! Isn’t it lovely. It was great to make something very easy for a change and it took just one evening to put together including cutting out. I have carefully and deliberately not matched most of my stripes except for the dominant white stripe on the skirt. I didn’t have enough fabric to match them anyway but I thought that the mismatching would compliment the casual style of the dress and fabric. I wanted to have chevrons in the front and back skirt panels and, because this was a cheap fabric and it’s effectively a wearable muslin, I didn’t pay any attention to the grain line when cutting the skirt pieces, just cut them the way I wanted the stripes to go. The grain is on various angles of bias, not the true bias, but that doesn’t matter at all, knits are so much more forgiving about this kind of thing.

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I had fun deciding on stripe placement and I’m hoping that by putting the white stripe across my bust and the dark stripes around my waist I’m creating the illusion that I actually have a bust and waist.  I was a little disturbed about the arrow I accidentally created at the top of the skirt but I have been assured by everyone else that it’s fine.

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This dress is fast and easy to make. I finished it in one evening, and that included cutting out. I’m afraid I can’t comment on how easy the instructions were to follow because I only glanced over them to see what seam allowance to use, then put them aside.  Ironically I managed to get the one thing I consulted the instructions for wrong – I’ve just had a look at the instructions so I can comment on them and discovered that the seam allowance is 3/8″, I thought it was 5/8″ and used that throughout.  Thankfully it ended up the perfect size anyway so maybe 3/8″ would have made it too big.  I like the way that there are two levels of instructions though.  One comprehensive and illustrated with lots of colour photos, and a second entitled “Skater Dress crib sheet for advanced bad*sses”. Even without the instructions this went together well and was very simple to make.   I’m feeling like a total bad*ss now.

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I would highly recommend this pattern to anyone, it’s simple enough for a beginner and the instructions look extremely comprehensive. I got the pattern when I purchased the Perfect Pattern Parcel #1, along with 4 other lovely patterns, all of which I’m pretty keen to make up at some stage in the future.  If you’re a fan of indie patterns (or patterns in general or just sewing) take a look at the Perfect Pattern Parcel website.  They release parcels of indie pattern parcels periodically and you can purchase a parcel of indie patterns and choose from a range of prices depending on what you’re willing to pay for them.  Part of the purchase price goes towards children’s education.

Fabric: 100% merino from Levana textiles which I bought on the recent Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network road trip. This fabric is a bit weird and the wrong side sticks to itself like Velcro.  I prewashed it twice and I’ve worn and washed the dress again and it’s definitely improving with each wash and sticking to itself and me a lot less now.

Photos were taken at our WSBN group photo shoot with Kat, Nikki, Laura and Sandra.  Here’s a photo of Laura and I freezing while modelling our Monthly Stitch New-to-me entries in the cold Wellington wind

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“Elementary my dear Watson”

Here I am channelling Dr Watson, but I seem to have misplaced Sherlock

It’s indie pattern month and this is my first make from a Papercut pattern, the Watson jacket. I’m ecstatic about how well it turned out. I had my first outing in it today and it think it is probably the most complimented garment I’ve ever worn. It’s a gem.

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The pattern was an absolute dream to work with. I’m a standard block size in the big 4 so I’m used to being able to make my size out of the packet without alterations and this pattern was no exception, I made a size small with no changes. The pieces went together beautifully, it’s such a well drafted pattern. It was a very quick make for a jacket, the absence of pockets and fiddly details made the pattern quite simple.

I made a few changes to the construction, my rebellious nature won’t let me stick to the rules entirely.

I used a fusible interfacing on both the centre and side front panels, rather than just the centre as recommended in the pattern. I normally interface the entire front and side front when I’m making a jacket, it stabilises the front and helps it to sit smoothly, and details like pockets sit better on an interfaced fabric.

I made the sleeveless version, mainly because I didn’t have enough of the fabric which I purchased at Fabric-a-brac a couple of months ago, but I also think the jacket is better without sleeves because my fabric is so busy.

I’ve got eight buttons instead of six, because why use only six when you have buttons this cool? I totally ignored the button placement on the pattern and put them where I thought they looked best (actually where my 18 year old fashion stylist told me she thought they looked best). My front is pulled in a little more that the pattern specifies, I lined up my front edges with the princess seams because I wanted to avoid breaks in the continuity of the plaid pattern lines of the fabric.

For the collar I cut the under collar on the bias and interfaced it with horsehair canvas. I normally do that for coat or jacket collars, it probably wasn’t necessary with this collar because it’s cut to sit very flat.

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Trimmed and clipped curve
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The fabric is wool, which I would always shrink before cutting out. I use pretty time consuming methods, either the London shrink or just spraying the fabric with water and then steaming the crap out of it with my iron suspended above it. I thought I’d try the dryer method with this to save a bit of time because it wasn’t a fabric I’ve spent a lot of money on. The method involves putting your dry fabric in the dryer with hot wet towels, then running the dryer on hot for a while. This didn’t work at all for me, I don’t know what I did wrong, my fabric was virtually exactly the same size when it came out as when it went in. I thought perhaps it just wasn’t going to shrink but then when I used my normal spray and steam method on it it shrunk up like crazy.

My fabric’s long and fruitless joyride in the dryer

 

Oh look, it’s a sarcophagus, perhaps Sherlock is in here

In case you’re wondering what all this marvellous art I’m surrounded by is, I’d like to be able to tell you that it’s all at my house, but unfortunately it’s not, it’s actually the David Trubridge exhibition at Pataka gallery. He makes some seriously gorgeous furniture, jewellery and lighting which is available worldwide, or if you’re in New Zealand you can come ogle it at Pataka. You can also listen to David being interviewed on Radio New Zealand National recently here. His holiday home is featured in the current issue of New Zealand House and Garden and he’s also written a brilliant book So far

What are you doing up there Sherlock?
David Trubridge lampshades in the Pataka spine

 

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The Crazy Butterfly Dress

Apparently there is an age limit on wearing butterfly fabric. I’m fairly sure that at 43 I’m well past that age limit, luckily however I’m also well past the age where I care what anyone thinks of what I wear so when I put this dress on, and my 18 year old daughter said I look like a crazy person, I thought: Good! I was hoping it would look nice but crazy is any unexpected bonus. No one is going to mess with me when I’m wearing this dress. Maybe I should wear it to work… every single day.

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I actually made it for the Zoo at the zoo event today with the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network (WSBN). We all turned up to Wellington Zoo this morning with some yummy food (food is always a fixture at our get togethers, which I’m happy about, food and sewing are my favorite things) wearing something we’ve made which is animal themed in some way. Ok butterflies are an insect but let’s not get too hung up on technicalities. I had five metres of butterfly fabric in my stash and the pattern for the Flirty vintage day dress class on Craftsy turned up in time for me to get it made. I’m not sure how much flirting I’ll be getting done, I think any sane man is likely to run a mile from a crazy lady in a butterfly dress.

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My slip is showing!

I’ve never made myself a 50s style dress but it’s the kind of thing I’ve always wanted to try and recently I’ve acquired two vintage 50s petticoats while clearing out my mother’s house. She’s downsized from a massive 6 bedroom house with a 4 car garage to a 2 bedroom apartment so I’ve acquired a lot more than just petticoats!

So with all the stars so meaningfully aligned it seemed like the time to dive into sewing retro.

It all went quite well, there were no major hiccups. I didn’t make a muslin as Laura Nash recommended in the class because the pattern is drafted for a B-cup which I am so I figured I’d just crack on. The great thing about this pattern is that, with seven pieces making up the front bodice, there are plenty of places to make fitting adjustments on the fly so when I found that the fit in the bust was much too big it was very easy to eliminate the extra in the under bust seam.

Left: before alteration. Right: after

The upper bodice is obviously a bit roomy for my little B-cups so I pinned the excess out of the under bust seam.

I didn’t want to make the lower bodice/midriff piece any shorter as it was actually just right for my midriff so I took all the excess amount out of the bust section. I measured the distance I had pinned out and then doubled it and marked that on the bust piece.

Then I unpicked the under bust seam and matched my pen marks to the seam line on the midriff piece, tapering to nothing at the centre front and the sides.
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Because my alteration slightly shortened the length of the bust piece, after the seam was sewn the midriff jutted out about 6mm past the edge of the bust piece so I just trimmed it off tapering to nothing at the waist.

I have a special technique for sewing perfect intersecting seams which I used to get a really good result on this bodice. You can check my tutorial out here.

After that everything went swimmingly. Here’s my clever lapped zipper with “privacy panel”. With the wind in Wellington today I could have used some kind of privacy contraption to stop my skirt blowing up over my head, there was quite an updraft by the otter enclosure!

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Here are the WSBN having a photo break at a hut in the African village. I had a fantastic time, it’s always great hanging out with the other sewing bloggers and I enjoyed scaring the animals. From front left: Sophie-Lee, Kat, Sandra, Gemma, back row: Jo, Juliet, Joy, me

The particulars:

Pattern: Sew Chic Tia Dress

Craftsy class: Sewing vintage: The flirty day dress

Fabrics: This project was made almost completely from stash stuff, the only thing I had to buy was the zip. From left: Quilting cotton for trim, spotted cotton lawn for privacy panel on zip, fine striped stretch cotton for lining, butterfly print cotton

But wait, there’s more

Here’s some interesting useless information. There are a bunch of collective nouns for butterflies. According to Ask.com they are; rabble, flutter, kaleidoscope, rainbow or swarm. Christchurch City Library gives only two collective nouns; rabble or flight.

I think, because of the Wellington-wind-assisted aerodynamics of my dress I’m going to name it ‘a flight of butterflies’

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A useful wind control technique
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Kat’s photobomb

Perfect intersecting seams tutorial

I’ve just used this technique to make the Sew Chic Tia Dress and it works so well I thought I’d share it.

Here are the bodice pieces from the Tia dress. I’ve sewn the upper bodice pieces together and on the centre seam I’ve marked the point 1.5cm from the centre front and lower edge with a dot and finished my stitching there.

Pin the upper bodice to the lower bodice matching notches and the centre front dots.

Stitch each side of the seam separately. Hopefully you can see that I’ve sewn off the edge on each side a little. There is a minute gap at the intersection which will allow the intersecting seams to lay perfectly flat.

In case it’s not clear here it is with some lines to help show the gap. The blue lines show the positions of the edges and the centre front seam, the yellow lines are the stitching. The gap is very small, only the width of a stitch.

Clip seams and trim the point a little. Press one side of the seam open.

Then press the other side open creating a neat fold with the excess fabric at the point.

Et voila!