Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Calendar dresses - Meet January

I do wish I'd purchased a tripod on the weekend so you could see a photo of my new dress on. 

My one sewing goal for 2015 is to make a calendar of dresses, one for each month appropriate to the season. Its a stretch assignment, but involves no stretch fabrics.  My self-imposed rules are: 1) Each pattern must be unique; 2) Woven fabrics only; 3) The design should be suitable for a number of purposes; and 4) the pattern must have some complexity - simple shift dresses will not pass.

So meet January. I've been thinking about January since the beginning of Spring when suddenly Sydney shop windows were filled with pretty floral dresses.  My floral is a cotton sateen print from Lincraft. I've trimmed with the black cotton drill that my husband rescued from someone's castaways.

January is built from Burda Style 103 from May 2014.  The design is a 'tall' pattern, something that might be a deterrent when you are only 5'2'' or 156 cms.  However, being rather long in the torso, (my shortness coming from lack of legs) the only adjustments needed were to raise the plunging neckline by at least 2 inches; dart in the raglan sleeve line and shorten the hemline by 3 inches.  The pattern calls for an invisible zip in the back seam.  Let me tell you this is really hard to do with the extra layers of black fabric and the precision required.  After two attempts that were less than pleasing I gave up and placed the zip in the underarm seam.  This worked a treat and is easier to get on and off.  All my zips will go into the side seam from now on.

I'm ecstatic about the fit and feel of January.  Happy sewing while I trace off February!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sewing better, sewing faster

I think 2015 will be a good sewing year. Off to a flying start with an Islander Sewing System jacket in white denim.

This pattern is available through Janet Prey's Sew Better, Sew Faster course on the Craftsy.com platform.  Even with all the tricky top stitching it is very fast to put together.  I made it in about 3 hours over a few days.  The instructions for this pattern are brilliant - especially the no fail explanation for the welt pocket.

Collette at Tessuti helped me choose these unusual Italian pewter buttons.  They are fractionally larger than I'd like, but I really like the jean-like look without being too casual. Because the layers are quite thick, I will have the button holes professionally done by Mick at the Quick Buttonhole Service in Redfern.

I'm not sure what I'm sewing next - I have selected patterns for four lovely pieces of cloth from my stash.  Who knows, I might even draw lots.  Meanwhile, happy sewing!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Retro swirl

Firstly thank you for the lovely comments about my silk dress.  They meant a lot to me.

I sewed quite a lot in 2014, but didn't blog much.  The one thing that will drive me away from blogging is the lack of a tripod or a willing photographer!!  I do like this dress a lot more than the look on my face suggests.

It is a trial run of Simplicity 1651.  I've used a pretty floral print crepe bought from my favourite fabric charity The Fabric Cave.  I had enough left over to make a mini skirt for my daughter who refuses to take or pose for blog photos.

I'm still deciding which piece of fabric for the final version and need to make a few minor adjustments to the bodice. There is not enough yardage in any of the pieces being considered to make the full skirt, so I may blend my self drafted pencil skirt rather than the gathered slimline skirt from the pattern.  I also plan to make up the half circle skirt from this pattern as a winter skirt. It fits and feels so good.

Now let me swirl around one more time!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Dress, memory

In showing you this dress, I am reminded of Lorelei Vashti's coming of age memoir Dress, memory. It recounts the dresses worn for significant events over a decade, every dress with a memory stitched into it of the events and people involved.

This dress was made for a happy occasion, my niece's wedding.  However, etched into its stitches are both happiness and sadness.  Tragically, my much loved brother-in-law passed away the night before the wedding.  He had been gravely ill for three years.  In Jewish tradition, the wedding went ahead and was a beautiful celebration of his life and the positive hopes for the future for his daughter and new son-in-law.

The dress is also a reminder of the wonderful holiday I had in Italy with my daughter.  The silk panels were bought for many Euros in Rome.  

I've used Burda Style 9/2012 134 - A Matthew Williamson design.  The only change I made was to raise the v-shaped back as the original was not bra friendly.

While I've employed couture techniques, including silk organza underlining and hand stitched bemberg rayon lining, I'm not sure I can bear to wear it again. 
It will hang in the back of my closet, and every now and again I'll touch it and remember my brother-in-law and close friend.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Remember the Burda Book?

Yes that's right The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook copyright 2011!  The one you all bought and dutifully sewed lovely things from straight away.  Well I guess I'm not an early adopter.  While mine took a little longer to come to fruition I am really happy with this top.

I cut a size 38 and made a 2 cm full bust adjustment.  The only other change I made to the original design was to self face the upper front as I was working with a very sheer silk chiffon.  This gave the top of the garment more opacity and structure where it is needed.  BurdaStyle include an invisible zip in the side seam of the garment, which I omitted.  With the combination of elastic and drawstring at the waist the zip is not needed.  

One of the lovely things about it is that the fabric was a freebie from a Sydney Sewing meetup swap session. I've given the silk chiffon the respect it deserves with French seams and a satin bound sleeve head and self faced finishes - creating a very neat finish inside and out.  I don't know who it came from originally but I am extremely grateful for their good taste. 

While I have too many patterns and ideas to give too much thought to making another one, the bodice is a great starting point for drafting everything from camis to kaftans.  That was the essence of the Sewing Handbook idea after all.

I haven't been in Sydney all summer for a while now and have lost a bit of weight.  I am very conscious of having NOTHING TO WEAR as the heat approaches.  My three top priorities: a new swimsuit (Bombshell pattern and Tigerlily print lycra at the ready); shorts and light trousers (self drafting and Wyomee Boyfriend jeans pattern to try) and dresses for my niece's wedding in December. 

My daughter is still thinking about whether I'm making her dress for another wedding in Bali - pending arrival of an ebay purchase I think! 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Animal magic and blog hopping

I've been tagged by He Cooks...She Sews to participate in a blog hop about blog writing. I'm flattered to be considered for this as I don't think of my blog as writing, but I'll have a go.

What am I working on now?

As ever I have a number of projects going.  I've just finished the skirt featured in the image above, and another variant from the same pattern Burda Style 03/2014 style 104. I have a blouse and an experimental pair of wide leg pants in uber cheap black fabric cut out.  I also have Burda dress traced and begging me to make it.

Meanwhile my daughter has asked me to make something similar to Nicole Richie's lovely Issa Kimono dress to wear to a wedding in Bali.  I'm delighted to take this on and we've agreed to use some red printed silk already in stash.

Friends say I dream sewing and that is probably true.  I finish one project and immediately start on something else.

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

Seriously?  I don't think it does.  One point of differentiation might be that I make a lot of corporate wear. This is a practical decision as I work every day, I need to look good and I hate boring grey suits that are so prominent in Sydney.

Why do I write what I do?

Blog updates tend to be written in a hurry, so I no longer spend a lot of time on details. I rarely post progress posts as I usually find them annoying to read...especially the today I sewed a seam variety.  However, I do like watching complex couture or tailoring projects come to life in a progressive way.

My fundamental purpose is to create a community of interest for sewing.  I remember in my first blog post explaining that blogging would "keep me accountable".  Blogging does that - I like to share what I've made, much more than how I've made it. I never presume that I have anything to teach others, and NEVER would share personal problems etc on the blog. 

Through blogging I've met other sewers in Sydney and around the world.  That is precious to me as my friends don't sew - they cook, make jewelry or just work too hard!

How does my writing process work?

 I'm pretty sloppy when I think about it.  I don't tend to review the pattern anymore, talk about adjustments I've made.  For example, the blouse worn in the pictures is recently made.  I can't find the pattern, so can't even offer that to my readers.  All I can say is that I've lost a bit of weight since I made it and next time I'd make an adjustment to reduce the neckline and remove the full bust adjustment.

The skirt has piping inserted into the upper panel seam and at the hem panel.  The original pattern has a gorgeous flounce, but I didn't have enough from this remnant piece.  I like the solution I used.
 The way the blog hop works is that what goes round, comes round.  Many of the sewers I most admire have already been tagged, so I’m passing the baton on to some lesser known women who deserve more recognition than they receive.  Ann from Cherrypix, Fabric Ephiphanes, and Audrey of Sew Tawdry

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Disco Ball

Standing out at one of Australia's top law schools is a difficult thing, but my daughter certainly looked for attention at their ball!

Her dress is inspired by luxury women's ready-to-wear clothing designer Joseph Altuzarra's evening range. The original outfit costs around $3000 Australian dollars.  Mine cost $183 and would have been less if I hadn't overbought the fabric.

I bought the metallic silk from The Fabric Store in Surry Hills.  I self drafted the top pattern which was pretty simple really.  The shoulder straps go through a single loop above the under arm seam.  The over-sized cowl is an Altuzarra signature.  I refused to add the draping to the front of skirt.  My daughter is too petite to take all the extra fabric.  The pattern for the skirt is Vogue 8928  which I've used previously for a dress for my younger daughter.

This outfit would not have been my first choice, but I'm quite proud of the result. My daughter loved it! She received plentiful comments on the night and her friends think the woman in the picture below still pinning and refining the night below is a sewing goddess.  I'll wear that crown for litter while longer!!