Tag Archives: stash busting

0 Degrees of Separation

I haven’t blogged for a long time! I have done a little bit of sewing over the past few months and I’ve started writing some blog posts but haven’t quite got to the stage of actually posting anything but fortunately Leimomi The Dreamstress came up with a brilliant idea for a challenge which would force me to blog about it.

Based on the fact that all of us in the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network (WSBN) shop in the same fabric stores (often at the same time – just imagine the enabling that goes on!) and we often buy the same fabrics quite by accident, Leimomi had an idea to see if we could create a chain of makes linked by either the same fabric or the same pattern as the previous person. You can read her explanation here, and she has links to all the posts which are being updated daily.

A few of us caught up for a photo session in our 0 Degrees dresses.  It was a bit of a flying visit for me because I had to rush off to look at a flat with my daughter (she’s moving out!  I’m going to have a sewing room!!) but I had enough time to sit on a wall at Te Papa with everyone while we looked very happy in our dresses.

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Why am I wearing a dress with babies on it? Well Juliet from Crazy Gypsy Chronicles went into her local Spotlight store and saw fabric which horrified her so much she took several photos and posted them on the WSBN Facebook group page with a comment about how creepy and awful they were. She probably wasn’t expecting what happened next which was that a lot of us said “Gumnut Babies! Cool, can you buy us some”. So poor Juliet, having one day regarded the Gumnut Babies fabric with derision has to go back the next day and buy almost all of it. When this challenge came up and the complicated process of working out the fabric and pattern matches and creating the chain of links began it was especially easy for me because we already knew who had this fabric.

‘Twas the night before the get together for our group photo for this challenge so I thought I’d better start making the dress, so finally at 8.30 I made a start. Luckily, having made the Alder twice before and this being the easiest fabric ever to sew (it’s a lovely crisp stable cotton) I didn’t run into any problems and the dress went together quickly over the course of the evening and the next morning. You might notice the fact that I didn’t bother doing any pattern matching or centring at all. For starters there wasn’t time for that but I also thought this might be a one wear dress, after all it has babies on it! When I first looked at the finished dress I thought I should have at least centred the pattern on the front and the back but I’m not that bothered by it. I’ve seen so many quite expensive ready to wear clothes lately with uncentred patterns I figure I’m not going to get upset about this. The only thing I made an attempt to match was the pocket (only in as much as I’d cut two out and just picked the one where the pattern seemed to line up with the pattern on the dress in the pocket region).  Oddly the pattern on the back lines up perfectly at the bodice/skirt seam.  This was a total fluke because the pattern isn’t even centred across the back.  Leimomi mentioned that she liked the way I’d put the babies heads and butts on my button band, that was a happy accident too.

Grainline Alder shirt dressGrainline Alder shirt dress

One thing I’m very happy with is the buttons.  I had bought a bag of buttons at the op shop (thrift store) earlier in the day for $1 and there were some just the right shade of yellow in the bag.

I love this dress, it’s not very obvious that it’s covered in babies, it just looks like a busy print. Like my other Alders (which I haven’t blogged about yet) it’s a great comfortable throw on summer dress. It’s a pity that summer is over here and it’ll have to live in the wardrobe for a few months until the weather warms up again, even so I’ve still worn it two Sundays in a row.

Grainline Alder shirt dressGrainline Alder Shirt dress

In case you’re wondering what the story is about the weird fascination with baby fabric there is a series of children’s books about the ‘Gumnut Babies’ by Australian author May Gibbs and these fabrics feature the cute characters from her stories which many of us remember from our childhood.

There were other prints in the range.  Check out this cute shirt dress that Jo at Making it well made from the fabric she got.

Less well known are the New Zealand equivalent of the Gumnut Babies, two little characters called Hutu and Kawa from a series of books written and illustrated by Avis Acres. If anyone printed these little cuties onto fabric I’d be tempted to wear babies a lot more often.

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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

Mr and Mrs Aquarium

It's time to catch up on my blogging! This is what I was doing in November (or Movember)

The theme of my work social club's Christmas party was 'under the sea'. I thought for a bit about making a mermaid outfit or some other kind of nautical/marine costume and then I remembered I had eight metres of tropical fish printed cotton in my stash. I know you're wondering why I would have eight metres of this fabric and I must admit I wondered the same thing. I purchased it so long ago I can't remember why I got so much of it. I know it was very cheap and for me to have bought that much of it it must have only cost $2-3 per metre. I have a feeling I bought it at spotlight but can't be sure. I must have had some kind of plan for it, curtains maybe?

So suddenly I had a brilliant plan to make a matching shirt and dress for my partner and I out of this outrageous fishy print. My bloke was pretty reserved about the whole idea and his children were absolutely horrified when they saw the fabric but I kept going and got both garments finished (I sewed the last button on my dress 10 minutes before the party started). He looked spectacular in his shirt and was pretty impressed with the quality, he said he'd just expected a bag with holes for his arms and head.

Two people wearing this fabric together looks completely over the top, and if you weren't at a costume party you'd look completely bonkers, so I had a minute of extreme horror when we walked into the party and I couldn't see a single person in costume, only people in normal clothes!! Fortunately once we walked around the corner we found all the pirates and sailors, whew!

To cut a long story short I got the prize for the best dressed woman, which I think I probably got because everyone was so impressed that I'd gone to so much trouble to make our outfits. I've worn the dress again to our December WSBN pretty dress theme picnic and my bloke actually wore his shirt to work on casual Friday. He was delighted that he managed to upset so many of his colleagues with it (his boss hated it) so hopefully it'll have a few more outings. Here's a photo of him in the shirt at work. Check out that fantastic mo, he grew it for Movember and shaved it off on the 30th. November 30, most disappointing day of the year

The technical stuff:

Dress pattern: McCalls 6696

Shirt pattern: Vintage Style 1226

Fabric: 100% cotton tropical fish print

Extras: I used David Page Coffin's excellent Shirtmaking book because I'd forgotten how to do flat felled seams. I bought it years ago with the video. The techniques are fantastic for producing professional shirts. I used a vintage men's shirt pattern, men's shirts don't change much so I just chose one with a slim fit