Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Something from nothing

When my kids were little I used to read them a book by Phoebe Gillmore about an old Jewish tailor who could make something from nothing. Over the years he refashioned a piece of cloth from blanket, to vest, to tie, to hankerchief, to button, until finally even he couldn't do anything with it. I grew up in my grandmother's house and was counselled against waste and shown how my aunts had refashioned their old school uniforms into office outfits in the war years. So there has always been a bit of mystery and magic for me around refashioning.

I take my hat off to Antoinette for reigniting my interest in refashioning and ethical fashion. Thank you for all your lovely comments on the last effort. This current tunic began life as a tube skirt with a fold down on the waist. The inspiration came from Nikki's new favorite top. All I needed to do was cut out arm holes and narrow down the side seams from the original A-line. It looks great with jeans or black pants. I'm thinking about making a red wool brooch as an embellishment, but it works just as well with one of my vintage brooches. Hope you like it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Blog expertise needed

This may appear narcissistic but my followers have disappeared and I want them back! Something really odd has happened to my site because my dashboard shows I have 29 followers but can't see the list on the dashboard or on the blog. I've tried deleting the gadget from the blog layout and resetting. Is there a techno savvy sewer who can help or point me in the right direction?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

New ways with black

Lets face it, I'm no more likely to give up black than I am to be a Caroline. Rather than making my planned t-shirts I spent this weekend report writing and doing family stuff. I did find a few hours to do some clever remaking of old black clothes. The idea was to remake them so that I could wear them with colour more effectively. Maybe it was just so I could wear them!
So take one polo shirt style dress with a totally unflattering A-line, slightly too short above the knee and refashion into a cropped jacket with frilled hem. The fabric in this dress is very good quality heavy weight black jersey. It was fairly easy to do. I opened up the base of the polo front and cut up the centre of the garmet leaving a hem allowance of about 2 cms. Then I took about 10 cms from the original hem of the garment, gathered it in and re-attached it. The only hitch with this design is that if you want to keep all the original seam lines in place, there will be more gathering in the back than the front because the front panels were previously overlapped. To overcome this you would need to add an extra front panel on each side to match the button channel. This jacket looks great with jeans but also matches my black pencil skirt which is in the same fabric.

This jacket began life as a very mumsy black blouse that I bought in a hurry and never wore. To refashion it into a jacket I cut off the wide waist band and opened up the front to the key hole neckline then sewed the front edges and rehemmed. It doesn't look fabulous on the mannequin but it really works with a singlet under and my silk sarong skirts for evening. It can be worn open or closed as it appears in the picture.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Winter solstice

Just the outfit for the winter solstice - my Burda Jacket and my Vogue pencil skirt. This weekend I'd like to made a few new t-shirts, but I also have a report to finish. Who knows what will happen.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Being a Caroline

Meg's blog about Princess Mary (Australia's greatest export) reminded me of a childhood fantasy. When I was ten I wanted to be a Caroline, preferably Princess of Monaco, but Kennedy would do. Or, the rough end of pineapple, Caroline X a girl in my class who was, perfect.
Forty years on Caroline X has faded in my eyes and I like myself a whole lot more...but I still have a hankering to be a Caroline. Or grab some of that understated, patrician style for myself. And no...neither of my girls are called Caroline!

Do you still admire the icons of your youth?

Fountains in Paris Skirt (upside down!)

Florence Broadhurst was an eccentric Australian wallpaper designer from 1920s who is undergoing a resurgence of popularity. Signature have been reproducing her designs in gorgeous rugs, wallpapers and fabrics. Originally I was planning a coat from this fabric, but never found a pattern that suited the huge print. My skirt Burda 04/09 101 uses a print called "Fountains in Paris" in a knit which I bought at Tessutis

I decided to cut my 'fountains upside down' - I liked them better that way. I altered he Burda pattern slightly by not allowing the button flap to open. This allowed me to insert the piping more easily. Pure laziness!

I'm happy with the way it turned out. Matching the pattern was quite difficult and I needed extra fabric to do it. I'm planning to wear this with a bright red silk blouse and my cropped black leather jacket while the weather is cooler. I'm wearing this in the photo, but It didn't quite work out. I can see why everyone is making this skirt - its fairly quick and looks great in a range of fabrics and weights. I will make another one for summer in linen.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chanel envy

I went to a school function at the weekend. The speaker was a successful female barrister, interesting enough but I confess to not listening to a word she said. I had Chanel envy. I'm paying too much in school fees and have too much of a social conscience to even contemplate a $4000 jacket, but I've got to tell you, the real thing is TDF. Hers was white with red and black trim and the most fabulous red, black and white buttons I've ever seen. I'll have to satisfy myself with faux.

I've been working on adding colour to my winter wardrobe and have a mini SWAT underway. Now this might not rate as colour for many of you, but my plan includes:

A black and white skirt Burda 2009/04 101 with red buttons and piping (fabulous Florence Broadhurst print) ready to post picture tommorrow.

A simple button down white blouse, a red t-shirt using Burda 2009/04 112 and a red jacket (still deciding).

After the weekend, I've added a white and black/red trimmed faux Chanel to the list. I'll use Simplicity 4954 - which I think is now out of print. I picked it up on one of my recent country trips.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Just when I thought that nobody cares about my blog, the lovely Julia from Tennessee sent me this lovely blog award. So because I know just how nice it feels to be recognised in this way, I am passing on the award to six other bloggers. I follow a lot of blogs so had to think hard about who to send this on to.

First to Carol for her cyber friendship and support. We must have coffee when you are in Sydney!

Then in no particular order: to Lindsay T for pure New York style and admirable sewing skills; to Mary Nanna for quirky style and wit (and as an apology for a rude comment I left on your blog once!); to Cafe Couture for the best of French chic and because I miss her (Où êtes-vous ?); to Gay for her dedication to passing on crafting and sewing skills and finally to Amanda the first sewing blog I ever saw.

If you gals want to join the mutual admiration society heres what to do. To pass this on these bloggists should copy and paste this award to their own posts.Then choose 5 or more blogs that they have recently found and link to them from their posts. Then they need to go to those blogs and let the fellow bloggists know they have been awarded.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Addiction to black

I am addicted to black clothes. They make me feel safe and well, thinner. My husband took this photo on washday to send me a message - I look like a Greek widow.

I am aiming to inject some colour into my winter wardrobe. So why have I just sewn a "wearable muslin" in black crushed velvet?

Mental note to myself - don't finish it. Whip up something in that red or green in the stash.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Nothing is impossible...just difficult

In the process of making this jacket I have learned that bound buttonholes need to be completed on the front panel before completing the garment! I spent hours looking for a method to get around that fact, even listened to endless replays of the treacle sweet Candy Cane Canso on Expert Village (worth looking at for the pink sewing machine and pink fabric samples!) trying to work out a way of putting bound buttonholes on my finished jacket.

Well I ended up pulling up my lining and opening out the already topstitched front facing as far as I could and made them anyway. You have no idea how difficult it was to create straight, even sized welts this way. The result is only passable. If only I had known what to do at the outset.

Which is a good segue into my next topic. I need lessons! I have booked to take an intermediate class with Sydney dressmaker Bernadette Doherty starting 23 June at 6.30pm in Roseville. The only problem is that so far I am the only person in the class. We need two more people to join the class of three students. If you are interested please contact Bernadette directly through her website. See the link to tuition.

I was also very excited to hear that my fellow countryman Geoffrey Rush won a Tony Award for his performance in Exit the King on Broadway. I had front row seats to see this play when it played at the Belvoir Street theatre in Sydney. This is a very intimate space and I felt that I was witnessing something very special. Certainly one of my memorable theatre experiences, including the occasional spray of spittle from the great man!

The other theatrical highlight of my week has been my daughter's school performance of Anything Goes. R played Reno Sweeney - a standout performance that would give the great Patty Lupone a run for her money. She wants to study musical theatre when she leaves school this year. Unfortunately there is only one musical theatre school left in Australia that takes 30 students from 1000 hopefuls each year. I say some luck and chutzpah are needed as well as talent.