Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Studio Faro Dinner Shirt

Anita at Studio Faro is working to expand her range of patterns.  I was thrilled to test her dinner shirt pattern which I started back in July before I went overseas.

I'm ashamed to say this sat finished but without buttonholes for nearly a month. Last night I dragged myself to the machine and did the deed.

Anita's pattern isn't available on her website yet, but look out for it.  She describes it as a "production-ready women's shirt pattern in nine sizes 6-22".  The instructions and seam allowances are geared to commercial construction, but not beyond the home sewer.

My vintage John Kaldor fabric worked really well with the pattern but tends to hard the design lines.  This traditional tailored shirt features a dinner shirt bib panel with princess seams, double layer back yoke and full gathered sleeves with continuous placket.  

I made a size 12 with adjustments only to the length which is suited to someone around 5 ft 7 in.  Next time I make this shirt - and there will be a next time - I'll add about a cm to the bust for wearing ease, but otherwise I'm very happy with the fit and practicality of the design. I'll also make more of a feature of the bib, perhaps with pleating or fabric variation.

I've finished a few other garments so will make the effort to post.  Love to hear your comments, meanwhile happy sewing!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sparkly business

Couldn't let lack of a willing photographer get in the way of showing off my latest business wear.  It's all a little bit sparkly with a subtle metallic back thread.

I love the 70's vibe of the jacket.  It is begging for a button down A-line skirt, but for the time being I've teamed it with a flip skirt, Burda September 2014, no.104.

The pattern for the jacket is from January 2008 Burda magazine (no.117).  The details are great, especially the extra large cuffs with an extra decorative band.  The leather trim was the result a "happy accident".  I cut the garment and forgot to trace the collar stand.  There wasn't enough of the brocade left to cut the piece.  The Fabric Store had run out of the original fabric but did have an unusually small skin of soft lambskin in the perfect collar.  My old friend Mick from Mick's Buttonholes at Alexandria did the studs.  May he never shut his doors!

I've also completed two blouses and a striped skirt since my last post.  I've been promoted recently and I'm spending more of my free time sewing than my blogging about it.  Not sure what is coming up next, so until my next catch up happy sewing!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The magic of the colour wheel

Emerald green has been described as the most magical, refined and elegant shade in the color wheel

I'm not sure I'd go that far in praise of the colour, but it does look amazing with so many other colours and suits every shade of skin and hair.  I bought 2 metres of this rich emerald/teal green ponte from Tessuti in 2013 when emerald was the major Spring colour trend.  The black ponte is also from Tessuti - a more recent purchase.

I missed the boat for being exactly on trend, pondering over loads of ideas for this piece of cloth over the years.  But the colour hasn't exactly gone away.  I must confess that the end product is the outcome of pattern laziness. Rather than trying to fit something new I reworked a recently made dress pattern Burda 10/2014 101 coupled with my standard simple ponte pencil skirt. These skirts are becoming staples in my business wardrobe.  I'm loving the A-Grade comfort and pop of colour they add.

My black ponte skirt works just as well under the peplum top.  Overall, I'm very happy with the outfit and feel that it is more versatile than the dress.  Pop by and let me know what you think.

Meanwhile happy sewing!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Home and back in action

My absence from Blogland has been conspicuous (to me at any rate).  I've spent the last few months preparing to go away, going away and coming back again to a mountain of work!  

While ostensibly it was a business trip, with the opportunity to speak at conferences, work with colleagues in London and have a brief holiday in Portugal, I did spend a lot of time talking and thinking about sewing. 

The outfit photographed was self made for travel.  A self drafted black ponte pencil skirt, a Rigel bomber jacket made from a fabulous linen synthetic blend that doesn't crush and doesn't need ironing, and a black jersey cowl neck t-shirt.  I love this outfit and wish I had a photo that showed more garment and less of the Savoy.

I travelled to Paris for weekend (as you do!) and found stunning antique buttons at the Marché aux puces de la Porte de Vanves on the outskirts of central Paris.  I bought four lots for 20 euros and much haggling.  There is lace to be found at this flea market but the quality is variable. Expect to pay for the good stuff. I also went to my favourite fabric stores on Montmartre and was slightly disappointed.  But I did find 3 metres of interesting cotton blend for 10 euros. And am kicking myself for not buying the 3 metre 'coupon' of burnt orange faux leather indistinguishable from real leather.  I was worried about excess baggage.

Back in London I met up with the lovely Kate from Fabrikated.  We shared dinner at her house and I felt privileged to see her hand made clothes, sewing area, cloth stash.  Kate is wonderfully creative and has been dabbling in fabric printing and painting.  She is also a skilled pattern-maker and was finishing an amazing cotton maxi at the time of my visit. 

Another trip highlight was meeting Tany from Tricot et Couture.  Tany is utterly charming and amazingly generous and talented.  We spent time touring her home town in Portugal with her husband and son.  We clicked and talked about all sorts of things, including could we not?  Seeing her work close up was really very special. Tany led me to her favourite fabric store Feira dos Tecidos which has branches all over Portugal.  A sample of my purchases is pictured below.  

 Tany also directed me to a very special supplier of trims and buttons.  I bought buttons for a Chanel jacket and the red and black braids on the counter. 

 I've just finished my first garment since my return, a tuxedo shirt which I'm pattern testing for my friend Anita McAdam at Studio Faro.  I have hundreds of buttons, but do you think I have 8 small black shirt buttons?  Fraid not!

I promise not to be a stranger again.  Please pop by and say hello.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

No boring business

 Clearly April's dress was not a winner in the popularity stakes, but what do you think of my Rigel bomber with a simple tube pencil skirt?  I am huge fan of Papercut patterns for fit, skillful pattern design and easy to follow instructions.

I bought the floral fabric on a whim from a designer fabric website Kristy recommended.  The piece was very small - enough for a pencil skirt (an obvious choice) or for a colour blocked jacket.  I did have a more structured jacket in mind until I saw just how well it blended with the mustard wool ponte that lived deep in my stash.
In theory I love this suit -particularly the back view- which I made as an antidote to boring grey business suits.  In practice I'm a little shy to wear it.  The feeling of needing to hide away wasn't helped by husband's comment to my daughter "Have you seen Mum's vomit jacket?"..."Bomber jacket!"..."Oh I thought you said vomit" (look of sheer innocence upon his face).  
I made it and some other items at an our annual Sewing Guild sewcation at Stanwell Tops.  I was joined by other bloggers; Sharon, Kristy and Beverley and 30 other talented soulmates.  Beverley posted some great photos on her blog.  If you don't get together with sewers in the real world, I recommend it.  We learn a lot and inspire each other.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Autumnal tones for April dress

You could be forgiven for thinking that I spend more time musing about sewing than actually sewing.  My rate of blogging does suggest that! April is a strange month with holidays disrupting the normal week, taxes falling due, and the month seems to fly by.   But there has been plenty of action here, just no so much inclination to sit down and write about.  

In the ages since my last post I have completed my April dress; a wild suit (see my next post); a white wadder; and a flippy skirt that is waiting on a Bellatrix Papercut jacket to match. 

Let's talk about the April dress.  The pattern is Burda 10-2014 101 made from patterned ponte I bought in Barcelona at a store that I was taken to by the charming Spanish designer Paco Peralta.  I paired it with plain ponte from Lindcraft.

The pattern is well constructed and quite easy to sew.  The centre front panel replaces bust darts and does sit quite high, but I like this effect. I added an exposed zip to modernise the look.  The only suggestion I make is to interface the corners especially if your fabrics are different weights.  

This would have helped April as the Spanish wool ponte is lighter than the denser Lindcraft variety. Overall I'm very happy with my dress and have worn it a few times already.

I love the way the fabric matches my vintage Oroton earrings.

While I am persisting with my calendar dress challenge it is a bit of a distraction. I looked into my closet and it is crying out for separates, and solid colours.  Not giving up just yet!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March takes sports lux to the office

Despite the telling wrinkles at the end of the day, I love my March dress. Perhaps I should have taken it off and waited until it was fresh again, but it is 31 March and I have a deadline!

March is inspired by the sports luxe trend so prevalent this year. Sportswear doesn't just belong in the gym does it.  I've taken it to the office using creme and black ponte from Tessuti in Sydney.  The pattern is a remash of Burdastyle 12-2014-105 which I  used for my David Jones top.

The changes to the pattern are simple.  

Open the front seam to the upper front panel; insert a zipper; add a shoulder and back yoke; and add an additional panel to both the front and back sleeve seam.  I drafted my own pencil skirt without darts using the waistband of the peplum as my starting point.  If you are using a stretch fabric like ponte you don't need the underarm zip.

What's next?  Not sure.  I have a lot of fabric ideas for tops and coats, and one dress that is still taking shape.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

February calendar dress - the bimbo

My February calendar is finally given a public viewing!  I'm calling February the "Bimbo".  Burda 09/2014 122 is attractive, but  essentially stupid.

The balanced ledger looks like this.  Credits: great flounced inset at the front and a longer hemline at the back; interesting design lines that shape the bust and waistlines beautifully; a blank canvas for jewellery.  Debits: flawed drafting of the armscye that left just enough room for a twig prior to adjustment- note the photo of the model!!; poor fabric choice - the synthetic crepe wrinkles badly when sitting and needs a great deal of ironing even after drip drying.  Not a practical dress by any measure.

I won't be making this dress again, but if I did I'd consider underlining for more stability on the curved seams.  I'd also shorten it - I was a little fazed by the different pattern pieces that required adjustment and left it as it was.  Mid calf is elegant but the shorter magazine version is funkier.

On the other hand, March is almost done and I am over the moon with the result.  Pictures as soon as the hems are completed.

Meanwhile, happy sewing!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

David Jones logo top

Despite looking distinctively like the Australian retailer David Jones's signature logo, my version of Burda 12-2014-105 is a definite winner for  summer business wear.  

I made a size 40 with no alterations, beyond adding the faux leather shoulder inset to break up the fabric and taking in the a lot!  I should have been vary about the sleeves after looking at how limply they hung on the Burda model.  Even for my solid arms, they are massive.  I shaved about about 1 inch from each side of the two piece sleeve.  

If you are altering the sleeves, try to maintain the existing sleeve head as they slot into the arm hole without a lot of easing.

This pattern is the prototype for my March calendar dress.  Where is my February dress I hear you ask?  February was indeed finished on 28 February, but despite two wearings has not been photographed.  My daughter has PROMISED to be around when it has its next outing on Wednesday!

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 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!