Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bones take two

I've restarted the project. Thanks to KBenco's tip off, I've now read Susan Khalje's article in the latest American issue of Threads and have a better idea about boning the undercorset. I also gained useful insights from Gorgeous Fabrics lace bustier tutorial. I'm now using muslin (I didn't have any more fine tuille) and rigalene boning from Tessutis. I've made the casings from biased binding and ribbon that I already had rather than buying anything new. It gets covered anyway. But the major revelation came to me in one of those ah ha moments. If I am connecting the draping from the side seams I need a side zip, not a centre back zip. This required redrafting and reshaping the back. In doing so, I was able to take the excess ease out the of pattern and achieve a much better fit. The skirt muslin is now completed and tomorrow night we cut the silk. I'm terrified and excited!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

That darned corset, footloose and Heathcliff

I've completed drafting DD's formal dress, made a muslin and fitted the bodice. Now the work has commenced on a boned corset sewn on very fine tuille that will sit between the lining and the underlining. The rationale for this is that I need to construct the front and back of the bodice separately to enable the draped sections to be secured on the side sides. The separate corset allows me to attach the outer lining and ensure that the draping follows the correct shape - in theory.

The corset fits perfectly on her body (not my dressform). However I am concerned because the boning was bought in readymade casing on a roll and is curling up when not worn. Will this be alright when I attach it to the lining? Or should I start again making my own casings and inserting the boning? I have tried iron it under a rajah cloth.

My Chanel jacket is nearly finished. I am hand stitching the lining and the trims. I had hoped to complete the jacket this weekend,
but Mini-Me and I did the Seven Bridges Walk, a 25km saunter around Sydney's beautiful harbour instead. It is an annual event - unfortunately this year the weather conditions were not favourable. For most of the course we walked in heavy tropical rain and thunder but it didn't dampen our spirits. The walk took us through so many foreshore parks and high street villages that we had never visited before. Mini-Me is a good distance runner and she urged me on to complete the course. I was so deliriously weary by the end that all I was up for on Sunday night was a BBC adaptation of Wuthering Heights. Surprisingly I'm not sore, but have a shocking 'wet socks' blister on the sole of my foot.

The day has reignited my lifelong ambition to walk from Sydney to Melbourne. I'll have to buy a copy of Gillian Souter's new book Slow Journeys: the Pleasures of Travelling by Foot while I contemplate about what a silly idea this really is!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I was looking on Ebay at patterns and saw this dress pattern from 1972. I made this dress (yes the really short version) in 1972 in purple voile. Oh my I thought I was stylish. I remember the dress being very well made, but that didn't impress the nuns when I wore it on a free dress day to my convent school.
I showed my daughter who is the same age as I was in 72. She was not impressed. "You wore that?" she asked incredulously. Strange, I'm asking myself the same question

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Careful what you wish for..

You just might get it. My eldest is daughter is wishing for this formal gown to wear to her Year 12 formal on 5th December. It was designed by her talented 13 year old sister and will be made by her mother the "sewing elf". In fact the whole family will be involved because her daddy will pay for the acres of purple silk chiffon required to make it!

This design will test my skills but I like a challenge. I think that it will require a boned underlining and draping for the bodice with a gathered overskirt. I'm combining several patterns that I have, plus using my pattern making bible Patternmaking for Fashion Design for the bodice.
So by next weekend I plan to have a pattern drafted perhaps with some help from my old pattern maker/tailor. Then we make a muslin and then, and only then, do we buy fabric. My DD would prefer to avoid these steps and go straight to fabric purchase. All that preparation is soooo boring.

DD also wished for a "quick 'n dirty" dress to be made from some pretty floral in my stash. Mother duly complied and whipped it into shape despite her misgivings about the design. I really wanted to make BWOF 07/09 116 but she as insistent as only a teenage girl can be that she wanted a tank style top with a high waisted gathered skirt. Well, as she tripped out the front door wearing it, she announced that it needs splits in the sides so that she can walk properly in it!

Meanwhile I have actually begun sewing my Chanel jacket! I'll post a progress pick on the Chanel Sew along site shortly.

Monday, October 5, 2009

News from Mars

This is the DVF smock that forced me onto the treadmill! Target is to fit into it on 4 November when I'm attending a charity Melbourne Cup luncheon. I'm not usually a "lady who lunches" but I get a kick out encouraging some of my snobbier friends to raise money for people they would normally would not want anything to do with.

I've decided that the neck is cut a little high, so I'll fiddle with that in the meantime. This is one of the rare occasions when I'm happy to show the dress inside out...French seams, silk lining and silk bound sleeves. There is not a raw edge in sight.

It has been a wet long weekend in Sydney, so I've had quite a bit of time to sew. Dianne's 50th birthday blouse is finished. It was given the royal treatment with French seams and bound armholes, but I'm now worried that I attached the neckpiece upside down! The piece fitted perfectly when attached this way ... but now I'm thinking that it looks wide at the top. I just don't know. Di lives in Queensland so I can't see it on her. Let's hope that she likes it.

I also went to Newtown and wondered all the way down King Street to Bollywood Trims in the Indian Quarter. The fellow I spoke to on the phone assured me they had Chanel style trims. Yes Memsahib we have whatever trims you are looking for. No such luck, but if you are looking for bling, 589 King Street is the place to be. Hidden among the hideous were some abolutely beautiful embellishments. I may go back for the formal dress. I ended up going to Spotlight and buying the standard trim that I was trying to avoid using on the Chanel jacket.

My next projects are to: to finish a long dress I've been making for Rachel (very quick and dirty!); start my Chanel jacket and work on the pattern and muslin for Rachel's formal dress. A chance meeting through a mutual friend has led me to an old Jewish pattern maker and tailor who is willing to help me with pattern for formal dress. I hope that he may be interested in teaching me some tailoring techniques too. My father-in-law also was a tailor, but unfortunately he died in 1986 and had not interest in passing on his skills to me.

PS...I'm doing 1 hour of exercise a day now and feel so much better for it.

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