Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 in Review

When I look back 2012 produced quality over quantity.  Transferring from a work from home consulting business to an executive role in the city certainly has dinted my productivity and influenced my wardrobe needs. What do you mean I can't work in my pyjamas anymore?

My top five for 2012 were (clockwise from top left)
  • My polkadot Kay Unger dress Vogue 1303
  • My paisley silk voile kaftan Simplicity 2696
  • DD's white silk party dress, self-drafted
  • My ponte art panel skirt Butterick 5566
  • My ponte jacket and matching skirt (not shown) Burda 04/09 116

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Spots are contagious!

There is something dotty going on in Blogland.  As I was in the final stages of finishing my new Kay Unger Vogue dress I noticed that several of my English friends had posted their spotted frocks.

The lovely Jane from Handmade Jane made a Ruby dress, while Tilly and Buttons posted an equally sensational New Look 6000.

I just love everything about this dress - the fit is great, the silky lining makes it extremely comfortable to wear and surprisingly crisp looking after 12 hours in the office.  I originally bought this fabric with wide legged casual pants in mind, but it has been in my stash for while and that trend came and went.  I'd glad I went ahead with dress - its classic and can be dressed up or down to suit the occasion.

My sewing productivity hasn't been so great lately. I've just completed a major assignment at work so hopefully will have more energy/motivation to stitch.  I'm not one for SWAPs but like Robin I am thinking small sets - a dress, a top, a bottom and a jacket, then sew something that is just for fun - perhaps a kaftan or a swim suit.  I've boxed together some fabrics and patterns for this purpose.  The current set includes this dress, a cream ponte jacket, a burnt orange knit top, a black ponte pencil skirt and for fun, a border print kaftan top.  Can you believe that I have six other sets outlined on my computer?

I have so much fabric and many many patterns, so I'll need to be more disciplined in 2013.  Work through the stash and buy no more until I do.  I've decided having a big stash is a bit of an impediment to a coordinated wardrobe.  I have bits of this and bits of that, all gorgeous and good quality but the colours and styles are eclectic. 

So I are my friends in cyberland is a stash a good idea?

Happy sewing, and all the best for the festive season.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The perfect summer blouse

Sewing has been a little slow here. I started on a Muse dress that had very promising beginnings but ended on the scrap heap.  I learnt a great lesson from that project - you are never too experienced to read the instructions and NEVER try to rectify you mistake with scissors until you have thought it through preferably overnight.
The sudden arrival of summer has forced me to ramp up my sewing productivity.  Having spent most of last summer in Europe, I have very few summer blouses or dresses suitable for the office.

 My delight with this blouse has made up for all the annoyance of the previous project.  I've not had much success with Project Runway patterns in the past, but Simplicity 2633 is an absolute winner for me.  I'll definitely make other versions of this blouse and I think the pleated sleeves might find their way onto a sheaf dress I'm planning.
I love the delicate orange and black Liberty print 100%cotton which I bought on Goldhawk Road in London back in January.  I added a black biased binding trim to the sleeve edge and lovely gold and black buttons.  I love the pleated sleeve detailing which I wasn't sure would suit me, but I find them extremely comfortable and quite flattering given my large upper arms. 
Not sure what to sew next.  I'm about to go to the sewing room and do a lucky dip from the box of fabrics and patterns I put together for summer sewing. That is as close to a sewing plan as I get!  Happy sewing!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I'm crushed

Made this Kay Unger design dress Vogue 1241 for a Melbourne Cup luncheon and I have to say I'm crushed  - literally and figurately speaking.  The combination of teal linen and black stretch lace is a definite winner, but the plain linen at the front is not that practical for a sit down occasion.  I look rumpled and please don't mention the barely modest neckline (the safety pin on the lining shot says it all). To be honest, I don't know how this happened.  I followed the rules, made the muslin, did the full bust adjustment, but obviously didn't take into account the seam allowances at centre front.  I do love the back, my new swayback adjustment worked well.
The Unger dress is interesting and clever from a construction point of view. If you are making this dress be sure to follow the instructions carefully or you won't be able to attach the lining. 
My other new dress is a knit maxi from some lovely jersey from Tessutis. I used Simplicity 2217 Amazing Fit dress as a base.  The main change I made was to fully line the bodice rather than use facings (I hate facings and always avoid them when I can!).  The skirt is not from the pattern, but a simple wrapped tube style.  I really like this for casual summer parties.
Next?  I'd love to sew my Issey Miyake Vogue 1309 in time for a party this Friday night, but somehow I think that is even less likely than winning the $100 million in Ozlotto tonight.  Meanwhile happy sewing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Been such a while since we've chatted and there is much to report.  After the little white dress I have been a veritable trouser factory churning out pants from the pattern I perfected in black linen.  I now have a white linen pair, including the front pockets so sadly missing from the black pair and the lovely grey wool pair pictured below.  This pair is fully lined and will be perfect when winter returns to Sydney town.  The fabric was purchased on my visit to the Goldhawk Road in London and I am so happy with the way they turned out.  I'll photograph the white pair when I finish a new blouse to wear with them.

After my trip to Spain I'm besotted by flamenco, so couldn't believe my eyes when I found this gorgeous cloth from the Australia designers Easton Pearson.  Thought for a long time that it was worthy of more than a skirt, but in the end, it seemed so obvious I went ahead.  I used New Look 0605 view D.  The pattern appears to be out of print, a shame as it includes a terrific, softly gathered faux wrap skirt in the options.  I overjoyed to discover that my fabulous flamenco perfectly matched 3 metres of Italian cotton shirting bought at a closing sale and sitting in my stash with no particular purpose.  Serendipity (the accidental discovery of something pleasant, valuable, or useful)!

My top is Vogue 8657 - a fabric hungry (the whole garment is self lined) but otherwise perfect pattern.  I cut a size 16 with a small FBA.  I'll definitely make this again, in a more drapey fabric.

Overall I love the outfit.  What to wear for business in a hot climate? Don't get me started.  This year I'm opting for this style of unstructured watch this space.

I was also inspired by Melbourne blogger Rachel to start my own balcony garden.  I have an unused sunny balcony 5 x 3 metres - a shameful waste of space.  I've planted spinach, lettuces, tomatoes, capsicum, eggplant, and a variety of herbs.  This photo was taken on the day of planting and I'm delighted to tell you that my tomatoes are pregnant and blooming.  All plants are doubled in size and the herbs have been harvested for variety recipes. 

So happy sewing ...and yeh to pregnant tomatoes.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A little white magic

Snippets of a conversation at my place that started about three weeks ago...

DD2:  Mum I'm so excited, I've been invited to [insert name of posh Sydney boy's school] social.
Mum: That's lovely darling, you'll be able to wear your black dress again.
DD2:  But I've worn that twice already.  Everyone is getting new dresses.

One week later at the store...
Mum:  $450, no way
            This one is lovely [pointing to something pink and dainty]
DD2:   Silent [rolling her eyes].  I really like this one.
Mum:  No way, I can't buy a dress that has raw edges and is see through!  I'll make a dress.  It is so simple, I can easily copy it.
DD2:  Why can't I have a new dress.
Mum:  But the dress I make will be new

Three days later at the fabric store...
DD2:  Don't expect me to be enthusiastic about anything you show me.
Mum:  [private thoughts] Spoiled brat, where did you get this sense of entitlement.

A few days later...
DD2:  You're going to Melbourne...on business...for three days...but what about my dress?
Mum: [private thoughts] I'm an idiot, why didn't I give in to her.

Two nights to go...
DD2:  Are you ever going to finish my dress
Mum:  Of course I will, have I ever let you down [private thoughts] maybe I'll have to do an all nighter.

The night of the party...
DD2's friend:  I lOVE your dress.  Where did you get it?
DD2:  My Mum made it.
friend:  Your Mum is amazing!

Amazing?..I'm not so sure, but certainly capable of a little white magic!  DD's dress is a copy of a dress by Australian designers Maurie and Eve  that was selling for $250.  While pretty, the original had poorly finished seams and was completely unlined - requiring a slip or the audacity to go out looking like a hooker.  This version is in white crinkle chiffon, lined with white silk.  It isn't perfect, in my near midnight delirium I made the skirt a little tighter than I wanted and it rides up.  But it made my DD2 happy and that is what being a mother is all about.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Black linen nirvana

I blame it on the cherry blossoms.  One look at the lovely splay of pink and I'd packed away my wool stash and reached for linen.  A whole spring wardrobe plan has been going around like a duloop inside my head.  Lovely linens and silks that have been waiting in the cupboard for just this moment turning into pants, tops, jackets and dresses.   But I must not get ahead of myself. 
I have been searching for the perfect pants pattern for years, but never achieved a fit that was flattering, wearable, and super comfortable.  So I decided to look closer to home.  Kenneth King's Jeanius course on inspired me to look at pants in the cupboard that fit and feel great.  I can't tell you how pleased I am with my new black linen pants, self-drafted from a well worn pair of grey slacks.  The linen is top drawer, thickly woven Italian - found at a dressmakers fire sale in Brisbane. I love the way they hang.  I've bound the waistband and fly seam with some snakeskin print ribbon, but the majority of the seams are overlocked.  The only thing between these pants and nirvana is the absence of pockets. Next pair...or pairs.  I have some white linen, which I will line and some beautiful grey wool bought on the Goldhawk Road in London.  Happy sewing...I know I am.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Slow sewing

Slow sewing, like slow cooking can yield great results.  And that's exactly what I've been up to...and I confess obsessive Olympic watching.  My camel cashmere coat is the first of the projects I've had on the simmer.  I wanted a soft cut jacket that could double for work or play.  I also wanted to use my remnant piece of camel cashmere bought a few years ago before the moths attacked it.

For this project I used Vogue 8756.   I don't recommend this pattern for anything heavier than a light knit, in fact I'm hesitant to recommend this pattern at all.  I cut a size 14 with a 3cm full bust adjustment.  Part of my slow sewing effort was to steam and mould the fabric into shape, starting with the shoulders which needed a shoulder pad and a bamboo sleeve head to look anything like the design drawing.  I chopped 5cms from each side of the drape collar piece to stop the jacket from looking too front heavy. After a lot of steaming, the folds sit quite nicely, much better than they appear in the photo.

The real winner is the fabric.  The fibres are long and soft, very luxurious to wear and a dream to sew.  The colour is camel not orange, much closer to the second photo.  My photographer, DD aged 16 and into special effects thought  "like it would look nicer and no I don't have time to another photo''.

My other slow burner is a red sheaf dress - my practice run for Susan Khalje's couture dress over at  I highly recommend this course, there are so many tips and techniques to take your sewing to new levels.  I've learned how to make a muslin correctly, how to apply organza underlining, hand picking zips and one little thing that I'll share - did you know that the top metal tab on your tape measure is equal to a standard seam allowance?  This fact is a prize for Burda magazine sewers.  The dress will stay simmering away while I catch up with the course video.

Meanwhile, I've cut a pair of plain black linen pants with a fly front.  Despite a cold, cold weekend, there is a whiff of Spring in the air.  I saw the first cherry blossoms yesterday.

Happy sewing!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Been a hell of a month but everything is coming up roses

This trench jacket (Burda 4/2008 107) is indicative of the frustrations of June.  I'd successfully made a summer trench dress from this pattern and started my 'winter safari' last winter but didn't make it past the finish line.  I pulled it out again determined to get it done, but no matter how many tricks I played I couldn't make the sleeves (frankenfurted from another Burda pattern).  By good fortune, I found an old black wool cardigan that the moths had found before me and voila, perfectly fitted sleeves that bring my garment into 2012.

It is not finished, as I need to cut the lining and have some self covered buttons made.  I did make the belt from a kit from Sunni at A Fashionable Stitch which I am really pleased with.  June brought other frustrations included having my house broken into, but I wont dwell on these sewing stifflers.
On the plus side of the ledger.
1) my sewing student finally finished her two garments, this skirt pictured and an overly ambitious dress project Burda 01/2011 103.  The latter took literally months to complete with too much assistance for learning.  I've sent her off to complete the hems and buttons on her own. Pictures? Perhaps next century...

 2) I've completed two quick projects:
An Alice and Olivia draped t-shirt Vogue 1261.  I can tell my readers that this pattern is not well suited to prints.  My roses on the centre seam came together so oddly that I added a flounce to cover my tracks.  I'm not in love with it, but wearing it in Spring over white linen trousers and silver jewellery might change my mind.

My second project was a resounding success, a Katherine Tilton t-shirt Vogue 8817.  Looks better on but the photographers are missing in action.  I especially like the ragged edge neckbinding which was from the fabric selvage.

3) I've started Susan Khalji's Couture Dress course at Craftsy and can't recommend it highly enough.  Still working on my muslin - a revelation in itself and will keep you posted.

Happy sewing!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sometimes I want to look prim

Sometimes I want to mix it up!  I just love my new Butterick 5566 skirts.

Now I know this Italian ponte panel print from Tessuti will not be to everyone's taste, but I couldn't resist its playfulness.  I cut my skirt rather meanly to preserve the orange 'high rise buildings' section of the panel.

Both skirts feature bright orange poly linings, invisible zips.  The only thing I'd do differently is not use a stretch interfacing on the waist facing.  I think a slightly weightier interfacing might have stopped that slightly stretchy feeling you get at the end of a long day at the office.

I have a long list of winter sewing ahead of me.  Next up - two finishing off jobs - a faux leather mini skirt for my DD and my "Corporate Should Never Be Boring"leopard print trench jacket. 

Happy sewing...

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Drum roll please...

Thanks for all the nice comments on the Beignet.  Based on my random number generator the lucky winner of the Collette Beignet skirt pattern is OzVikingPlease use my email address to send through your postal details.
A wet weekend is forecast.  While everyone around is feeling down about it, the little sewing fairy is struggling to contain her glee!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Beignet giveaway

 I finished this skirt a while back, but haven't had a chance to photograph it. I've rattled my chain about Collette Patterns before, so I won't go on. The Beignet is a clever design -a high waisted skirt with six panels, lined, 12 buttons and inseam pockets-and creates a flattering skirt.  But, and it is a big but, the initial fitting problems are immense.  I cut acres off my seam allowances and this complicatd completion of the lining panels. I'm pleased with finished product but I don't think I'll make another.

I had planned to return the pattern to Becky from whom I won the pattern gift voucher that purchased my selection of Collette patterns.  Becky has since purchased her own, so as a mini give away is in order.

If you would like to put your name in the hat, simply make a comment and follow the site.

My sewing has been rather slow of late. 
Blame work, blame school functions and just plain laziness!
I've made two skirts with my new favourite skirt pattern Butterick 5566 that can be worn with my recently completed jacket.  One is in the same tan ponte uses View D and other in a beautiful printed ponte uses View B.  Both skirts are sans lining at present, but I am ashamed to say that I've worn the first one twice already.  High on the weekend agenda.

Happy sewing!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

An insider's view

 I don't have much time for blog posts lately.  But a promise is a promise and I wanted to show off the inside view of my latest Ponte jacket.  Really there must be at least 5 metres of seam binding in this garment and I not regret a centimetre of it.  What isn't bound has French seams, not a finish I'd recommend for Ponte but it worked well enough on the sleeves and shoulders.
I've also included a photo of my nearly finished Beignet skirt.  Now here I have a confession to make.  I recut the panel with the bound buttonholes that were utterly awful.  Tonight I put together 10 self covered buttons.  I now need to make the six belt loops, attach them and sew 10 button holes.  Ah easy!!  I will donate this pattern back to the lovely Becky whose gifted me a Collette gift voucher.  Becky, I really do love my skirt but there is only Beignet in me!

Next up, I am finishing a leopard print trench that I started before I went to Europe; and will be cutting out some more workwear.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New favourite jacket is an old favourite

 I need a new camera.  This rather grainy image doesn't do justice to my new favourite Autumn jacket - an old favourite for some of you.  I've used Burda 04/09 jacket 116 and can only conclude that this is a great pattern.  My fabric, a khaki/brown/black ponte is so comfortable to wear and holds up well after a long day at work.  It is rather late and I need to head off for bed, but wanted to post a wearing photo before I changed into the jamies.  The inside of the jacket is pretty impressive, so will post a more detailed review tomorrow.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Blouse factory

Just a short post to let you all know I'm still on planet earth. While I haven't been doing much blogging due to regular interstate commutes to see my mother who has been in poor health, I've been churning out blouses from my TNT blouse pattern McCalls 5433.  This one is in navy blue silk with gorgeous filagree silver vintage buttons.  I've also made a crisp white one. 

Now I know that they say that a crisp white blouse is a wardrobe must have.  But frankly mine leaves me a little cold.  It is beautifully made, the fabric first quality, I just look frumpy in it.

Not so my DD, who looks gorgeous in just about anything.  I copied this blouse from her favourite Zara shirt.  The skirt is also self drafted.  You have no idea the joy that 40 cms of ice blue corduroy can give a young girl.  She looks pretty cool don't you think?

I started work on a new Burda jacket today and am very impressed with the results so far.  Pics shortly. 

Happy sewing ladies...and gents!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Finally a finished item and some nice awards

I feel a little larger than life in this blouse - a signal that my weight gain is getting out of control - start walking home from work.  The fabric was bought in London and I had something else in mind, so only purchased a metre.  I compromised and cut the Collette Jasmine on the straight rather than bias grain.  It works well enough, but if you are doing this be sure to add an extral centimetre of ease.  I didn't do this and feel that it is a little clingy over the bust.  The pants are from Burda, blogged about here.

I'll let you in on a secret. I'm not a big fan of Collette patterns.  The designs are nice but they are not that well drafted and not true to size.  This blouse is a case in point.  I had to nip about four centimetres from the neckline and the should have taken a little more out from the armhole.  My other issue is the unnecessary facing around the neck.  A far better result is achieved by using biased binding.  Join the binding in a vee shape at the centre front, understitch then sew inplace.  It sits very neatly under the collar and you have no concerns about ironing the facing down or having it pop out.  I've used French seams, bound arm hole seams and attached the cuff with a seam and a hand finish on the inside of  turning so the overall finish of the garment is very neat.

Now the awards which I confess to being tardy about recognising and sharing.  Apparently I'm a Versatile Blogger, according to Diana from Canada and Judith from Australia.  I have another award from Becky which I'll tell you about next posting.

To accept you follow these rules:
1.  add the award to your blog
2.  thank the blogger who gave it to you
3.  mention 7 random things about yourself
4. list the rules
5.  share the award with 15 other bloggers.
6.  inform them.

So 7 random things about myfabrication.
1.  While I love Australia, it is an island I have to get off.  I love to travel.
2.  I have an unrealised ambition to speak French
3.  I love receiving comments on my blog
4.  I see sewing and revival of domestic arts as a feminist pursuit
5.  Both my parents are still alive, but only just
6.  I have two brilliant and ambitious daughters
7.  Apart from sewing, my passion is theatre .

I'm meant to choose 15 bloggers, but despite following hundreds I find this hard. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, so instead I single out five of my favourites from around the world.  There are a few others I'd add, including Sherry from New Zealand, but I know that they have already been given the gong.
1.  Alison in Hong Kong - a talented seamstress with a great sense of style
2.  Marie-Noelle my gracious host in Paris who makes beautiful clothes for herself and others
3.  Handmade Jane who showed me the wonders of Goldhawk Road in London
4.  Paco, an absolutely charming gent from Barcelona who designs clothes that everyone should be making
5.  J.Kaori designs from the US who isn't sewing as much as she used to but when she does, you notice her work.  Check out her snakeskin parka.

I cut four other blouses when I cut the Collettee. Right now I'm working on a plain white cotton blouse from my TNT McCalls 5433.  I have a navy blouse silk from the same pattern.

Happy sewing ladies! 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Simply perfect faux and Pantene projects

 I've finally sewn the 1 metre piece of high quality faux leather I bought from the Dondaemun fabric markets in Korea in 2010.  Ok the skirt is plain, but it is a really versatile little number and I love it.  I made it from a self drafted basic skirt pattern - two darts front and back with a centre back seam, invisible zip on the side.  I've lined with yellow polyester lining fabric.

I'm wearing it with a t-shirt I made long before I started blogging, a Veronica Maine jacket circa 2006 and shoes from the late 1980s that I recently recovered from a bag in my garage.  They are Italian, in three shades of brown and tan suede with a comfortable square toe and chunky heels.  Oh and I'm also quite keen on the my $3 necklace in faux gold from Vinnies.

 What's happening with my Beignet skirt? Well the picture speaks for itself. How do you complicate the Beignet project? You insist on doing bound buttonholes... all twelve of them!  Black on black sewing at night isn't great for me at present.  I have five done and I can't face the other seven.  I even looked in the stash to see if I had enough leftover fabric to replace the panel, but alas I did not. So the Beignet languishes and I have cut out another blouse.  I justify my actions by telling myself that I need blouses much more than skirts.  I've renamed the project the Pantene know the won't happen overnight but it will happen.

Happy sewing ladies!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Spice of life

A while back, before my steely determine to focus on only essential wardrobe sewing, I signed up for a bag sewing workshop with my sewing guild.  A group of us got together today with Monica Poole working from a single pattern Spice of Life Moon Shine bag.  It was amazing to see the variety of styles that we came up with - from traditional cotton quilted bags to leopard print faux fur to my own woven upholstery carpet bag.

I'm really quite proud of my foray into bag making, although confess to leaving off the inner pockets in order to complete the magnetic closure by the end of the workshop.  The fabric and even stiff wadding made for hard going and I broke four needles in the making.  Not sure how many bags I will make into the future, but this is definitely not my last.

Meanwhile back at real sewing ranch, my faux leather skirt is nearly finished and looks great with the gold blouse and these funky vintage 80s three toned brown suede court shoes I found in a bag of junk in my garage.  My Beignet has just been unpicked and re-pinned as it was way too big.  Frankly I am worried about the Beignet as the high waist may not be the easiest look for me to pull off.  We shall see.

Happy sewing ladies!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

From boho to the boardroom

From boho to the boardroom just about sums up my wardrobe requirements.  2012 sewing wise will be a year of practical sewing, not making garments for 'fantasy me' - who by the way is terribly glamorous,  slim and wears lots of slinky knit frocks - and not following every trend in blogland.  Nope.  In 2012 I intend make at least 30 separates that coordinate with existing garments or with other pieces I'm making.  A SWAP of sorts, but not a published list to check off.

Had a bit of the slow start to the year due to a horrible bronchial infection courtesy of Singapore Airlines, but I'm very happy with my productivity to date. 

First up my second 'this is me' kaftan, made from silk voile purchased on the Goldhawk Road in London.  Sometimes you know exactly what a piece of fabric will become right away. I had actually finished my purchases at the store when I saw this fabric out of the corner of my eye.  One touch and I was handing over the plastic fantastic again.  It is not as see through as the flash photography suggests.  I'm wearing it to a friend's 50th birthday party.

My gold silk blouse McCalls 6436 was almost still born.  My original version included pockets that were so droopy they had to be removed and the slippery, stretchiness of this fabric frustrated me.  Then I ran out of matching cotton, so left it to work on the more satisfying kaftan project.  I do love the finished product.  I am planning to use buttoned down soft drapey blouses with more rigid structured skirts a key part of my 'boardroom' wardrobe.

Next up, I have two skirts cut. A brown faux leather and a black ponte Beignet.

Happy sewing!