Saturday, December 3, 2011

Summer is where?

If I look a little tense it may be due to the weather.  The spell of early summer has been broken by chill westerly winds and heavy rains.  I wore my new dress to a Christmas lunch with my real life sewing friends from the Australian Sewing Guild and asked Sharon from Petite and Sewing to take a blog photo.  Much better than asking a reluctant DD or grumpy husbie.  The backdrop is the Parramatta River, just near the Sydney Olympic site.

The first thing I need to say is McCalls 6163 - a faux-wrap dress with raglan sleeves and rouching into the side seam - is a great pattern.  The pattern calls for a zip into the side seam - don't bother as it is not needed for the majority of stretch fabrics.  Next time I make this dress I will pinch in the pattern slightly at the neckline to bring the collar lower and allow it to sit better.  Otherwise I am happy with the fit and feel that it flatters my increasingly lumpy figure.

Next?  I really really do want to make up the Donna Karan jacket, but I'm headed for Paris, London and Spain in early January so should focus on a travel wardrobe - black ponte pants, black dress, two infinity scarves, overcoat (?) and finish a nearly done animal print, faux suede trench jacket. 

Happy sewing!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

There is nothing like a wet weekend

There is nothing like a wet weekend to boost sewing productivity!  Saturday in Sydney was torrential rain, followed by a steamy Sunday. Saturday was also Sewing Guild meet so I managed to finish four projects.
I'm a recent convert to New Look patterns.  My new polka dot cotton blouse New Look 6808 is way out my comfort zone but I'm very happy with it.  The pattern has four collar variations and four sleeve variations, so I expect that I'll make another version before too long.  The closure is zipper on the side seam.  While the pattern uses a fully opening zip, I inserted an invisible zipper and closed the seam at the hip.  This works very weel.  I also added red piping around the collar for a retro feel.

Remember the Donna Karan jacket that I cut a muslin for last summer?  Well I took advantage of our fitting workshop to piece it together and resolve a few difficulties.  I'm now really looking forward to making this up - it's another tricky jigsaw puzzle but the results are very pleasing. 

I also finished my maxi dress Simplicity 3503.  I'm also quite pleased with this, although I have some advice from the fitting expert on how to raise the sides.  I need to find a skimpier bra to wear with it.

Also finished another basic tshirt from lovely butter soft pinstriped jersey.  The sleeves are hand hemmed and there is a twin-needle hem at the base.  I've probably made this pattern six times now.  Time to try something new.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Princess Gail

There's nothing like a ball to stir up the inner princess in every girl.  Last night I finally had the chance to show off my ball outfit and think I scrubbed up pretty well.  Excluding earrings and hairdo, the total cost of my princessery was $85!  Danced the night away and it felt wonderful!!

The skirt is based on Burda 12/2008 125 with adjustments to change the design from double fronted to centre fold.  I used horsehair stiffening in the hemline to emphasise the fishtail hem line.

I changed my mind a dozen times about the blouse as I wanted something practical that I would wear again.  The Japanese fabric origami patterns intrigued me but they are very fabric hungry and I wasn't sure that silk would hold the structures well enough.  Husbie and DD  also convinced me that the design should be quite simple to highlight the skirt. 
In the end I opted for an olive green silk wrap blouse which I created from a Vintage Vogue dress pattern from the 1980s.  I created the cap sleeve by cutting a half circle on the centre fold.

I've also completed a version of Simplicity 3503 which I'll show you in my next post.
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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Frocked up

Ok it's not a frock, but it IS frocked up.  This is a sneak peak at the bottom half of my ball outfit.  It is made from beautiful embroidered taffeta silk that I bought on-line for $15 a metre. I bought it on a whim with no particular expectation or project in mind. I remember the elation I felt on opening the package - it was so much more beautiful than the e-shop picture.

When I started thinking about my ball outfit my thoughts went immediately to Allesandra Rich and her beautiful, structured lace and silk dresses. But looking on net-a-porter, I saw a beautiful $1000 + fishtail skirt and I knew immediately that this was a practical solution.  I haven't been to a ball since I was 25 and I'm not likely to go to many more, so investing in good lace was not very sensible.

I used Burda 12/2008 125 as my base pattern.  This is a double fronted evening skirt with a fishtail hem.  To redraft as a plain skirt, all I needed to do was to make the centre-front line a centre-fold on both the skirt and the waist band and voila!  You'll have to wait until after November 12 for wearing photos, but it is a very good fit.  The next photo shows the embroidery in more detail and the degree of pattern matching I was able to achieve. No mean feat with only 2 metres of fabric.  I'm yet to complete the hem - still deciding if I need horsehair stiffening or just stiff interfacing to accentuate the fishtail.

The last photo shows you where I'm going with the top half.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Beware of Ottobre Magazine

In Australia, the notion of a 'standing subscription' would be considered a dodgy business practice at best.  Not so in Finland.

I purchased two copies of Ottobre magazine having seen some great back issues.  The issues duly arrived and personally I thought the designs were really dated and uninspired.  So I did not bother to renew my subscription. Lo and behold I received the next issue - worse than ever in terms of patterns and styles - and an invoice for 15.9 euros.  I wrote to Ottobre in protest but was told to read the fine print.

Given my overall lack of satisfaction with my Finnish friends, I am posting this as a warning to all current and potential subscribers.  If you don't want future issues you need to send then notification in writing.  Otherwise you'll receive lots of threatening notices to pay.  But perhaps you'd do better not to subscribe in first place.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Frocktober No 2

I'm loving 'Frocktober'.  Frock No.2 is my Tracy Reece dress Vogue 1224.  The fabric was bought for $6 from a charity store.  Originally intended a cheap test fabric, it was only when I started sewing I realised what I gem I had.  1970s silky woven jersey, very reminiscent of early Dianne Von Furstenberg.  It behaved like a dream under the needles.

Tracy Reece's design is very flattering when you get it right.  I don't know what it is about Vogue's young designers - the designs are beautiful and clever, but their drafting skills are a little under par.  I am only 5 foot 2 inches and added more than two inches to the top half and another two inches to the hemline.  Without the adjustment it would have gathered under the bust and come up very short.

 Overall I'm happy as I have a dress that I can wear to the office under a jacket or more casually with sandals.

Next up I'm making my outfit for the ball in November.  It was to be a frock but I'm opting for the practicality of long embroidered duponi silk skirt and a silk cowl neck and back blouse.  At least I know that I will wear the blouse again.  So watch this space.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Frocktober off to a good start

October is a month of dress-making for me - literally making dresses.  I've started the spring season with my version of the Vena Cava dress Vogue 1258.  I've used a very soft, drapey knit jersey - a rare quality find from Spotlight. A little too drapey on reflection as the weight of the front ties drags the neckline to dangerous depths.

There are a few things to remember if you are making this dress.
1) read the instructions
2) read the instructions and
3) read the instructions!

Seriously, this pattern is a pleasure to sew and cleverly crafted, but it is not an 'intuitive' pattern.  You need to follow the map or you will veer off the road very quickly.  The other thing to remember is that the neckline from the pattern is very very low. It isn't too much of a problem to adjust.  On advice from Alison who made the dress before me I took the neck up about two inches. 

If I were to make this pattern again (maybe... but with sleeves for winter) I would also take a little of the taper from the hip to knee.  As Erica Bunker warned Alison, the results are very "body conscious".  I certainly don't want the answer to the proverbial "does my bum look big in this?" question.

Frocktober no. 2 is the Tracy Reece dress Vogue 1224 in black and white jersey.  It is coming along nicely.  I can see that I need to seriously work on my blog photos.  My daughter takes them and the attitude is no care, no responsibility.  DD 1 who is away at university was much more accommodating.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

At home with Julia

Sadly only my Aussie readers will get the joke about Julia our much maligned Prime Minister, Julia Gillard who has a perchant for while jackets with deep necklines.

The white jacket Butterick 5619 is my latest from my long spring/summer sewing list to be completed. I made it for the Jewish New Year as it is a Rosh Hashanah custom to wear white garments. The color white symbolizes purity and renewal and on Rosh Hashanah, we wish to make a fresh start and renew ourselves for the new year.

The jacket is unlined and I've used Hong Kong seam bindings and French seams on the sleelves.  The jacket is a great fit, but I'm not sure the flying saucer neckline is for me.  The lapels are so big that a gust of wind fly the tip of the lapel into my red lipstick.  I'll use the pattern again, but will change it to a more conventional neckline.  

The fabric for my jacket came from the Tessuti's roll sale. I shared a $10 roll with another buyer - there was just over 4 meters on the roll.  Not the greatest quality as it has a lot of spandex in the weave, but great for testing ideas.

 I've completed a new silk chiffon blouse Butterick 5561. I struggled with this garment as the pieces didn't seem to fit together in the way they were intended.  I found the pleat in the bottom of the sleeve made the sleeves tight and puffy, so I removed it and re-cut to achieve a straight (straightish?) line.  Overall, not a winner, but pretty and wearable, especially under a jacket.
Next up - I had a cutting binge recently.  I cut my jacket, two Vogue knit dresses and two t-shirts.  I also have an unfinished faux suede leopard print trench jacket perilously close to finishing. I made great progress, then the weather warmed up and I lost motivation to complete. Now it is a little cooler the sewing room poltergiest has stolen the upper sleeve piece.  I have searched everywhere.  I have contacted the company I bought the fabric from.  They have none left!! My solution - I think - will be to cut the upper sleeve from an old black sweater and add a matching sweater trim somewhere else on the garment. 

I am also very happy to announce that I was lucky enough to win Becky at Sew and So's fantastically generous gift voucher give away.  Becky makes lovely garments and is a great refashioner.

Finally, to my fellow Jewish sewers (are there any out there?) Le Shana Tova and to the rest of my friends happy sewing.  May this year be a sweet one.
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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Band wagoning

We've been a little late to jump onto the Vogue 1250 bandwagon down- under.  Now that Spring is here I'm keen to wear more dresses and man this is an easy dress to piece together.  I whipped this up in two hours from cutting board to hand finished hemline, just in time for my friend's 50th birthday party.  The fabric is a butter soft gold and black knit jersey from Tessuti.  I love it with my orange cardigan (the best mistake I ever made) and boots and can't wait to shed the outer layer and show my pedicured toes again!

My spring/summer sewing list is long and I have a stash in serious need of busting.  I've set out some of the priorities:
  • 5 blouses for work (white, black & pale pink polka dots, gold silk, printed chiffons)
  • 5 weekend t-shirts that can be dressed up (striped, red, fine striped, black, blue)
  • 3 tunics/casual chic wear (from the linen stash)
  • Dresses - I have 8 patterns (mostly DKNY and Tracy Reese) that I would like to make in no particular order.   
  • A maxi dress (Simplicity 3503)
  • New white pants
  • A ball gown (I have a big event in mid-November thinking Alessandra Rich simple lines with contrasting lace)
  • 3 lightweight summer jackets or suits
Now you can see why I don't make lists!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tangerine dreams

 Colour blocking is everywhere this season and I love it.  Perhaps I'm taking the idea too far with my double helping of burnt orange?  For the skirt I've used Simplicity 2475, a favourite pattern of mine.  The detail isn't evident in the photo, but my version has false pocket flaps with buttons to match the cardigan and belt carriers. The fabric is Italian ponte bought at Tessutis a while back, not quite as bright as it appears in photo.   Unfortunately it is no longer in stock or I'd be back for more to make a suit jacket.  I've had to satisfy myself with a soft knit in burnt orange merino wool knit.  This garment actually started out as my self drafted basic tshirt. Sadly, the merino is very fine and rather clingy.  So I bought another metre, drew a line up the middle and added the button panels. It was a happy mistake I think.  Eventually I'll make up a cowl neck singlet with the remaining fabric to brighten up some of my blacks and greys.

I was planning to show you my grey trousers (Simplicity 2700), but I have to tell these pants are a victim of my own stupidity!  They were always a test garment made from $2 a metre fabric but I have rendered them an unwearable muslin by the trimming the zip with the excess fabric around the fly. A definite no no as the zip has frayed into obvilion. The zip is sorry saga beginning with pattern notions calling for an 18cm zip (7 inch) when a 7 cm zip is required.  Having discovered this after shop hours, I grabbed a recycled zip in the wrong colour.  Another big mistake as a highly contrasting zip will show even under a fly front!!  Oh well, at least I have worked through the fitting issues.

Not sure what to sew next.  I have two more winter garments cut but now the weather is warming up, I'm in the mood for dresses.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Little red dress success

Ok, this was an act of major motherly love, but I'm more than happy with the results.  We used Burda 03/11 108 with the sleeves from 107.  Both these patterns were part of a bridal theme.  As you can see they lend themselves nicely to a party dress.  I cut the smallest size, made up the front and back of dress then awaited the arrival of my dd from Melbourne to fit the side seams.  I had to take it in about 7 cms on each side at the waist to make it fit properly. Surprisingly though the dart placement was exactly right!  I also took multiple centimetres from the sleeves and hemline. My dd is a thumbalina!
The bodice is lined with red poly lining. It is machine sewn around the neckline and through the centre back. I handstitched the lining in at the side seams and around the sleeves. The hems on the sleeves and at hemline are finished with cotton bias binding.  All very neat, but no photos as DD was rushing off for a 'pre' before the party.  Let's hope the 'apres' is not too devastating!  PS she is not wearing this peep-show bra. PPS she loves me, she really really love me...and the dress of course.

In the meanwhile, I've started a new job in the city, have cut five new pieces for me and completed the boring grey pants except for two button holes.  They fit well but the fabric is cheap and they are no more than a wearable proto-type.  More photos to come.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Daughter loving

Email from my daughter - 960 kilometres away

"could you make this for me for next saturday night in a bright red fabric, perhaps jersey?

i saw it in zara and when i went back it was gone...

it had three quarter length sleeves in the shop, this was the closest thing i could find to it.

if you cant thats ok, i know your starting your job next week."

Now I just happen to have a piece of fire engine red synthetic in my stash that I was wondering what on earth I'd do with it and why I had it.

I also found just the pattern in my Burda mags. Snip, snip this space.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

No boring business

Heading into the city for winter meetings, I am struck by how much black and grey Sydney women wear.  Not just black and grey, but boring black and grey, basic jackets, trousers or skirts teemed with equally boring pinstriped or white blouses.  Young attractive women looking as inspiring as Mao Tse Tung's Red Brigade revolutionaries.  So I'm leading a revolution of my own - the No Boring Business Wear revolt.

This jacket in vintage green and white cotton knit is my first assault on top end of town conservatism.  The wool khaki trim from Tessuti reminds me of my militancy and the buttons, also from Tessuti show that there is no need to sacrifice elegance in pursuit of the cause.  I love the results, its a little bit Armani and a little bit Chanel, but not slavishly copying either.  It is also very comfortable to wear, thanks to my Sewing Guild buddy Sharon who suggested cutting the acetate sleeve lining on the bias so it moves in the same way as the knit.  This wasn't necessary for the body of the garment which I gave more body with fusible interfacing. 

Practiced my bound buttonholes and top stitch free pockets (used in my husband's jacket). I also developed a new method for sewing pocket flaps without bulk or top stitching.  Sew binding onto the top of the right side of the flap and handstitch all edges.  Turn over and press, the handstitch in place.  The result is very neat and provides a couture finish on the outside of the garment.  I ran out of binding to go around the sleeves - what do you think? To bind or not to bind?


Next up...I'm whispering now....boring grey flannel pants (Simplicity 2700).  But fear not, I plan to team it with a camel cashmere trench jacket (Burda 4/2008 107 - with long sleeves), gold silk blouse (Burda Style 4/2011 113) and my new Midas brogues that insisted on following me out of the store.

Now ladies, what are you stitching for the revolution?  Vive la revolution de la couleur!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Grey for a grey day


Mental note, smile in all future photos and never allow your daughter to take a photo with camera held at waist level. It makes you look twice your real size!  But guys it's cold, wet and misable here in Sydney.  Time to bring out my new skirt made with a remnant piece of grey and black leopard print ponte from my stash.  I made another skirt using this fabric that I have worn to death, blogged about here. I used Vogue 8603 again, this time including the gathers front and back.  It is lined with red synthetic lining however after a day in the city I've decided to remove it as is doesn't move with the garment.  The fabric is quite thick so doesn't really need a lining.  Think I'll take the opportunity to shorten it as well.  The coat is also self-made and well worn from last winter.  I blogged about it here.
I am making a very interesting jacket at the moment which I hope to finish on the weekend.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Nice outfit, bad photo

Husbie arrived just as I was about to leave so I asked for a photo.  Four shots later, this is the best of breed.  Next up another version of Vogue 8603 in grey and black leopard print ponte and a vintage style jacket in green and white crinoline.  No they are not a set! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Simply stylish my opinion

 In the absence of the household photographers I'm adding a quick shot of my lastest project Butterick 5472.  This a very easy pattern that hasn't received enough attention in blogland.  Firstly, it is great to have a cowl neck pull on dress that can be made in a woven fabric.  The front is cut on the bias.  I've used a satin faille from Tessuti.  The jacket is made from a beautiful soft jersey also from Tessuti.  My only suggestion is if you use a knit for the jacket, don't use woven lining (the back is lined with lining, the front pieces are self-lined making it a fabric hungry pattern). It hangs and moves differently.  My only other suggestion is that the pockets would benefit from interfacing - they droop a little too much in the knit fabric.
Wearing it with boots to the theatre tonight - Sydney Theatre Company's production de jour - The White Guard with Miranda Otto.  Also thoroughly recommend Terminus by Ireland's Abby Theatre Company to my fellow Sydney-siders.
More corporate wardrobe builders on the way.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mission Accomplished!

The coat had its first outing tonight and I think it has just the right feel - casual rumpled intellectual.  We still need to work on the modelling and the shirt is looking a bit tired.  He likes the coat and conceded that I'd done a good job.  But he's not so keen on the khaki.  Can't get past the military thing and the fact that it is the same colour as my daughter's school blazer.   There are a few little things that I think could be improved, but overall I'm proud of it.

I have recently acquired some OOP men's patterns in my armoury, Burda 6111(parka), McCalls 8409 (shirts) Vogue 8043 (trousers) and McCalls 3363 (pullovers and zip jackets), so expect further forays into menswear. 
Next up I'm working on Butterick 5472 for me.  My mission - should I choose to accept it - Tessuti's sale is on after all - is to make up the dress, top, jacket and pants as a coordinated set using only fabrics from my stash.  Certainly worth a try.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Victory by stealth - Mission underway

The man jacket is coming along nicely, after a wet long weekend in Sydney.  So far, so good.  I did make one fundamental mistake, but not a fatal one.  When I adjusted for a large chest, I forgot to move the dart over by about 2 cms. Not that noticable, just annoying. 

The other minor annoyance is that the my pad stitching doesn't exactly match the turn of the collar.  I had to guess it as it is not marked on the pattern.  I'm sure it would be there on a classically tailored jacket pattern.  No matter. 

Making a man jacket is a great way to explore new sewing techniques.  I've been guided by a great book Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket.  The illustrations and explanations in the book are so clear.   I managed half-way decent bound buttonholes and a bound wallet pocket in the lining.

I also owe the pocket technique to my friend Diana in Canada who posted a great method for adding pockets without top-stitching.  So good I've added a few pictures to explain.  Step 1: attach the lining in the pocket placement position, leaving the top seam allowance open. Step 2: press the seam allowance upward into the pocket. Step 3: attach the right side of the fabric pocket to the lining.  Step 4: pin the pocket in place and hand-stitch in place. 
Overall, I'm happy with my progress. All that is left to be done is to piece together and insert the lining and sew on the buttons. Snappo!  I think my Mojo is back!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Venturing into menswear and mojo sapping projects

Sydney is having the coldest winter in forty years and my dear, daggy husband hasn't a warm coat that is fit for wearing in public.  After a quick perusal of the store offerings, he asked me if I could make him one.  Challenging, yes.  But the positive side is that it may be my chance to change his rag bag ways. A coat here, a shirt there - victory by stealth is my plan.
Fitting and pattern preparation was not as easy as I'd planned. Burda Style 08/2009 133 was cut as a muslin and we couldn't fit the sleeves.  Despite a number of adjustments they refused to hang correctly.  So we opted for Vogue 8719.  Fitting was again an issue - partly due to husbie's delusion that he was a size smaller than his measurement's suggested.  Tissue fitting showed that we needed the next size up and several centimetres more in the chest.  Is the male equivalent of a full bust adjustment a BCA (big chest adjustment)?  Fortunately my adjustment worked a treat and with a good fitting muslin, I cut into my khaki green pure wool, purchased from a deceased estate.  I'm using a combination of traditional, custom tailoring and fusible interfacings, as shown in this illustration.  This method is surprisingly quick and quite meditative.  The hand stitching on under collar makes shaping the collar quite easy.  The pattern isn't lined, so I've had to change the front facing piece and add a back facing.  It also has no collar stand or back vents.  Great for ease of sewing but not particularly tailored.

 The red jacket is almost finished.  I've used Simplicity 2313 version D .  This version has strange pintucks to hold the frill erect which I ignored. I'll probably add a few handstitches near the bust point to stop it from flopping down. I need to unpick and redo the button holes which were a bit of a disaster in terms of placement.  MOJO SAPPER NO. 1.

My Chanel style jacket wasn't finished last winter and I fear it may never see the light.  It needs one sleeve to be handsewn into place, the lining hand attached and the sleeves shorted with bands added.  My heart isn't in this project - MOJO SAPPER NO 2.

Rachel came home from Melbourne last weekend for my B'day and asked me to make some t-shirts for laying under sweaters etc.  I made one from Burda style 12/2009 121 using some cheap fabric in my stash which didn't behave under my needles.  The finished tee is fine but it made me cross - MOJO SAPPER NO 3.

But a nice piece of khaki wool and a mission - MOJO RETUNRED!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Its red white and blue, but its not a flag

Another new blouse and skirt set completed and I am very happy with the results. The blouse is made from very sheer silk chiffon using a combination of Simplicity 2732 and the sleeves from McCalls 5433

These are both terrific blouse patterns that I highly recommend. I should post a picture of the inside of the blouse - I've used French seams and binding around the sleeves and under the bust and it is very well made.

I made the skirt to match in navy blue Italian ponte from Tessutis. The pattern is Vogue 8603. I only used the gathers in the front and kept the back plain. The skirt is lined, with an invisible zip at the centre back seam. It was easy to fit and very quick to make. I will definitely made a few more of these.

Next up, a red ponte jacket to finish the outfit and I am planning a few more corporate sets that can be mixed and matched.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Leopard print in action and new projects

I wore my new silk blouse to the city today and received two unsolicited compliments - one from my client and the other from my daughter. I am wearing it with my Vogue 8426 skirt made in March 2009 and an Anthea Crawford pure wool jacket I bought at St Vincent de Paul for $25.

I am pleased to report that my health is much improved and I managed a little more sewing over the Easter/Anzac Day break. I'm sewing another blouse in silk chiffon using the body of Simplicity 2732 and the sleeves from McCalls 5433. So far so good, pleasure to sew and surprisingly cooperative fabric.

I also helped DD2 sew a mini skirt. It is a copy of one she wanted from American Apparel that I refused to pay the $64 asking price. She proved remarkably resourceful, using my pattern drafting book to draft a simple but very accurate pattern and did all the sewing herself - very neat for a new sewer. Her sewing has increased her 'cool girl' status at school. She wore it to a party with flat tan biker boots (mine), one of my black t-shirts worn baggyish and long silver necklaces (pinched too) - very Alexa Chung. Her friends are placing orders for their own skirts. More recently DD2 been seen flicking through my Burda magazines.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Autumn safari and why is G##d a baritone?

Lots of things have been getting in the way of sewing lately - Passover celebrations (not to mention the fitting issues a week of Matzo ball soup and flourless chocolate cakes can cause!), illness and a major job interview.

Husbie and DD2 went off to Melbourne last weekend to visit DD1 and I aspired to a lovely weekend of sewing and solitude. Came home from Sewing Guild meeting on Saturday afternoon all fired to put together my silk blouse after a silk sewing and fit workshop with Angie Zimmerman. Managed to keep it together until 9pm when I came down with the worse dose of influenza ever. One week later I'm still coughing and feeling less than average.

Easter weekend in Australia combines with Anzac Day, an extra long weekend. Great time for sewing I say to myself. Also a great time for going to movies, walking along the beach or slumping lazily in front of TV watching Charlton Heston do what Charlton did best and drinking brandy (for medicinal purposes). Why does G##d have such a deep voice?

I have managed to finish two items and am close to finishing a matching skirt which I'm calling my "Autumn safari" - it has that out of Africa feel to it and the palette is definitely Autumnal.

I am delighted with my blouse in leopard print habitai silk bought in Hong Kong. I used McCalls 5433. I thoroughly recommend this pattern, especially if you are new to full bust adjustments. I cut a 14 with an FBA an a slight additional adjustments to the back and sleeves. The result is a TNT pattern than I will definitely use again. I cut the blouse to the longer length so I could wear it as a tunic or tucked into skirt. The inside of the blouse is very good too. I used French seams, cut a bias binding from the fabric for sleeves and on the hem used a double rolled hem - a new technique taught by Angie. Rather than struggle with a rolled hem foot, turn up a single layer, stitch, trim close to the stitching line then turn up again and stitch again just below the first stitching line. Only one row of stitching is visible from the outside of the garment and it is very effective on a silk garment.

I am also pleased with my other blouse, really just a test garment made in a cheap piece of polyester bought from the charity store. I used Simplicity 2732 one of those fabulous patterns that already do the FBA for you! I made several changes to this pattern. One choice was not to include the darts which run from the hem to the bust line and at the back. I think they look really busy, especially on the busy print I used. Next time I make the blouse I will include one dart on each side to give it more shape. I also shortened the sleeves, due to lack of fabric. Overall I'm happy with the look and fit of this blouse. I'll wear it, but would like to make another in a better fabric.

I've also been working on another test garment using Simplicity 3924 (OOP). This pattern is from skinnier days and my adjustment wasn't generous enough at the waistline. It looks fine but 1) I can't tuck anything into it and 2) it is an instrument of torture. The plan, cut another blouse and leave the skirt until the ravishes of Pesach have passed over me.