Monday, October 31, 2016

Dress rehearsals

I'll start this post with a disclaimer. I never go to the races, but the Spring carnival racing season always turns my head towards making dresses. I'm rehearsing dresses that might be worthy of my beautiful yellow frangipani silk.

Vogue 8902 is a worthy contender but not short odds. I love my new dress, just can't picture it in the yellow silk.

So the good stuff:
The beautiful quality cotton fabric was gifted to me by a woman I met at a sewing function.  
The pattern includes a D-cup size so needed very little adjustment.
The bias cut of the bodice makes for a comfortable fit.
The lining gives the garment a couture feel and looks great inside out.

Would I make it again?  Yes, perhaps in stripes or colour blocked version.  I will take the gathers out of the sleeves - uber feminine isn't really my thing!

I had just enough fabric left to trial Cynthia Rowley's 
Simplicity 1366.  This pattern has been appreciated by sewers from the start and I've been wanting to make my own version for a while.  I'm really happy with the top - even drew a rare compliment from my husband!  I wore this to work today and it looks only a bit crumpled at the sleeve. 

I have some blue silk to make other one.   Next time I'll take the neckline in by about 1cm, but otherwise its a comfortable fit, especially in the hot weather.  It is very quick to make - less than 2 hours including hand sewn hems, french seams and a hand stitched neck binding.  

I have five patterns and fabrics on my sewing table and I expect that I'll make a choice in my usual random way.  Meanwhile, happy sewing!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Ponte, silk and other musing

Yes, once again its been a long time between drinks.  Just over a week ago my beloved 90 year father passed away after a long illness.  Spending as much time with him up in Queensland trumped sewing and blogging.  I was greatful for this time and miss his crazy humour so much already. So enough of me and onto sewing.  I've completed two items and have another on the way.

The first is my self-drafted striped preppy jacket. The fabric is a very good quality ponte from Tessuti.  I've also used their buttons and fabulous wool bindng.  Call me crazy but I handstitched the binding for a flawless finish.   It's not a perfect garment, but I can't tell you how much I enjoy wearing it.  I'll use this pattern again.  Next time, I'll add a little more fullness across the bustline and use interfacing to fill in the gap under the shoulder pads that are showing us as wrinkles in the photograph.

I wish I could say I loved my second completed garment given the effort that went into creating it.  Cut from a "silk" (burn test screams polyester) sari that I bought online from India for $10, Rebecca Taylor's Vogue 1367 (OOP) looks like pjyamas.  It does look better tucked into a skirt.

 Finally I wanted to introduce you my two favourite Brisbane fabric stores - Irma J Smith House of Fashion and Gardams.  I bought this gorgeous Italian silk in memory of my father, who loved frangipanis and was always urging me to wear a "nice frock" - as opposed to mini skirts and jeans when I was a teen.  So Dad, a nice frock it will be! 

I didn't actually buy this fabulous linen from Dorothy Gardam, and have been obsessing about it ever since.  I did buy a nice piece of printed cotton and bright pink cotton.  underlining to set it off. Gardams have moved to Adelaide Street opposite the Town Hall.  Irma J is in the Strand Arcade.  It was run by two amazingly talented and glamourous sisters.  Sadly, one of the two also passed away last week.  Hopefully their exquisite (but expensive) store will continue for many years to come.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Not like Coco

When I was gifted one metre of very loose weave wool/silk blended plaid by my real life sewing pal Angelika I didn't have a jacket in mind.  My initial idea was a pencil skirt, but such a loose weave wouldn't have withstood up to all that sitting and standing.  
The inspiration for the jacket came from a woman I saw walking down the main street of Sydney in a checked red and black unstructured jacket with wide lapels and leather (real, I think) sleeves.  She looked stunning!

Alas my one metre was not going to deliver wide lapels, so I cut a very old Burda pattern with princess seams for a "Cocoesque" jacket.  I think the faux leather sleeves rescue my jacket from looking frumpy.  Glad the sleeves serve a purpose because setting them into the plaid was very difficult and the results are far from perfect.  The welt pockets were also challenging.

I've worn it a few times - it was actually finished before I started on my tailoring project - but I lacked a photographer.  After putting up a plea on the Sydney Spoolettes Facebook group, I found I was not the only sewer with a neglected blog in need of a photographer.  Today enjoyed the radiant winter sun in Sydney's Hyde Park with with Susan from Measure Twice-Cut Once and Pamela.  Hope to turn it into a regular Thursday meet up.

I wish I could say I've finished my tailored jacket.  In my rush to bring it home, I really messed up the lapels.  So out comes the seam ripper for a re-make.  I put too much into it to accept second best!

Meanwhile happy sewing!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Good foundations

The more I tinker with tailoring, I realise that it is a form of structural engineering.  Just like a bridge or building, it is the bits that you can't see that provide the strength and longevity of the garment.  

My Anne Klein jacket is coming together nicely.  As you can see from the interior photo, this traditionally tailored jacket is fashioned with multiple layers of canvas and a softer flannel fabric to provide extra structure to the shoulder and arm hole area.  One of the key advantages of using underlining and layers of horse hair canvas is that as you wear the jacket the canvas conforms to your body and will never stretch out of shape.  It's not visible in the photo, but I've also used a shaped felt sleeve head which helps to keep the rounded shape.

I'm itching to finish this project and stitch something simple like a t-shirt. I need instant gratification!  Still to do are the hand-sewn hem interfacing, attaching the facings and sewing lining.  I've chosen a burgundy satin with a huge colour wheels for the lining.  It's not a lining fabric - one of those "what was I thinking" fabric purchases off a remant table at Tessuti.   

I'm going inter-state this weekend to visit my ageing father, so no sewing.  

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Dreaming jackets

I have to admit to an obsession with making the perfect jacket lately. Since my last post I've completed an unlined Style Arc Cindy jeans jacket in a stretch woven, have another plaid and faux leather combination finished awaiting closures and am now working on the scaffolding for a traditionally tailored navy blue wool blazer.  

So first lets talk about the Cindy, a slim fitted jean style jacket that lends itself to more sophistocated styling.  The design lines, with extensive shaping in the centre front panels and princess seams really enhance the fit.  I made a size 12 and only adjusted the sleeves - my usual widening and shortening.  I also decided to sew the upper pocket flap into the front yoke seam as it didn't make sense to stitch down above the seam line and used a self yoke at the back rather than a facing.  The latter alteration proved to be quite tricky and not recommended if working with difficult fabric.  Mine definitely fell into this category - fraying a lot and somewhat resistent to pressing.  I'll definitely make another jacket like this.  I saw a fantastic version using contrasting fabrics on Pattern Review that really has me thinking. One of the other things I love about the pattern is the way it showcases great buttons.  Do you like these fantastic decahedron shaped buttons by Marc Jacobs that I found in a jar at the Fabric Store in Sydney?  I have made several flawed attempts at a wearing photo, but black fabric against Sydney's winter grey sky doesn't make for good photography.   

As the photos suggest, I've also been working on some traditional tailoring.  
The patten is an oldie V2853 by American designer Anne Klein.  I'm following Alison Smith's classes on  She is a fantastic teacher who illustrates very well not only the how to of traditional tailoring methods, but the purpose of doing things in a particular way.  I'm not sure why my canvas looks so lumpy in this photo as it is actually quite smooth.

Hand-sewing has always been my drug of choice, so as you might imagine, I'm addicted!  Hope to show you more soon.  Meanwhile, happy sewing!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Morris blazer

Grainline Studio's Morris Blazer is a winner for me.  I finished it a couple of weeks ago and it is already a high rotation garment in my autumn wardrobe.  While the pattern is great and I love the finished product, a word of caution about fabric choice.  I bought this interesting double sided ponte (?) print from Tessuti's Surry Hills store with a Morris blazer in mind.  What I didn't realise is that four-way stretch isn't suitable for the design.  So I ended up with an odd bubble at the hemline on the right front. To fix it one of my clever real-life sewing mate at the Australian Sewing Guild suggested a tuck dart under the collar.  It's an invisible mend that rescued my project.

Next weekend is a sewcation - three blissful day with nothing to do but sew with women who share my passion.  I'm always over ambitious about what I can achieve at the annual getaway.  True to form, I've cut out four garments and plan to cut one more.  Lets see just what can be achieved.  Meanwhile happy sewing and thanks for your encouragement.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Happy returns

I'll let you in on a secret.   I often think of dropping blogging, turning to instagram or not recording my sewing at all.  So I take a break which somehow turns into a lengthy absence and it becomes apparent to me that blogging and the virtual friendships I have are important to me.

So here I am making a comeback with a long list of completed projects to talk about.

Project 1: Stylearc's Edith top pictured above was a dream sew in light weight cotton chambray purchased from Tessuti.  I'm a recent convert to Stylearc.  Their designs are contemporary and their pattern making precise and true to size.  I wore it lunch at my friend's gorgeous home on Sydney harbour.

Project 2:  Vogue 1247 (OOP) Rachel Comey's popular A-line skirt design with inseam pockets.  This project was a test run for a leather skirt that lives inside my head.  I agree with my daughter's comment that the colour is a "bit odd" but the verdict is yes go ahead with production in leather.  

There are a few tricks to this pattern. First use a woven without any stretch as the weight of the pockets will cause the yoke to stretch and bubble slightly, and second, make sure you use a tape or interfacing to support the pockets.  

Project 3: I raced to put together two t-shirts in merino wool from an ancient copy of Ottobre magazine (May 2010) to take to Japan trip.  They were worn to death but Japan in March/April is very cold and rarely came out from under layers of wool for a photo. I really love the teal design for its versatily.  It looks equally good over jeans or under a suit for work.  The sleeves on the casual t-shirt are a little long and baggy at the wrists. If I could be bothered I'll taper them in one day.

I've completed a few other projects.  I'm especially happy with my Morris Blazer and that will be the hero of my next post.  Promise not to be a stranger...again...! 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Apparently the 70s are back

Cullottes are a runway trend that I've shyed away from.  It's a tricky look to carry off, especially the wide and wondrous varieties in street style blogs and magazines.  

Let's face it, front pleats and overly wide legs aren't likely to be worn successfully by an woman who is only 156cms tall, with a 100cm hip circumference!  

But after seeing a particular pair by Sir the Label I was keen to try out the type of cullottes I wore in the 70s.  These pants were flattering, fitted through the hips without a pleat in sight, roomy pockets without adding bulk and wide floaty legs.  

Having committed to try it out, next came finding a pattern with that 70s feel.  A relic from my history,  Vogue 9873 to the rescue, the most perfect cullotte pattern on the planet.  Unfortunately the pattern was more suited to my 70s body and needed 10cms extra in the hips - an adjustment not for the feint-hearted.

I made them up in a polyester, that has the look of distressed silk on the outside and a satin finish on the inside.  Loving the results, pants that do equally well for weekend laziness and glammed up with heeled sandals and a shirt.  They've gone to work on casual Friday with chunky heels and been worn twice on the weekend in the first week of their life.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Street wearables

This post is a bit of a cheat.  I finished the skirt in December during my blogging hiatus.  Anyway I wore it up the street for lunch with my daughter and asked her to take a candid snap or two.  The thumb print in the corner shows just how seriously she took my request, but you get the general idea!  The pattern is 01/2008 109 from Burda magazine's golden age of plentiful and practical designs, printed on four sheets.  I made it up from a simple cotton gaberdine, that doesn't have any stretch.  I recommend sewing this skirt in a stretch denim as the diagonal shape of the pocket seam takes quite a lot of tension as you walk.  I had pocket rivets and a jean stud button (not visible) inserted by the lovely Mick at Quick Buttonhole Service in Alexandria.  May he never retire!  I love the man.

Speaking of love, I also love the princess seams at the back of this design.  They make fitting easy and create a flattering line over the booty.  

I made the t-shirt a few years back- another ancient Burda.

I'm currently working on some culottes from a 1970s pattern.  Meanwhile happy sewing!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Weekend winner

 I'm going to give you three reasons why I love the Sutton blouse by True Bias.  

One - the pattern is well put together with good instructions that provide a garment that is quick to put together and looks almost as good inside out.  

Two - the front is slighter narrower than the back which creates shape and allows the fabric to drape well.  The longer back is also great cover.  And three - the design is economical and uses less than a metre of 150mm fabric.  Great scrap buster too if you are working with contrasting fabrics.

I've used printed crepe purchased in Portugal last year and some black crepe from stash.  I made it up in size 12 without any alterations.  The only change I'll make when (note I didn't say if) I run up another is to use bias tape for the arm hem.  This is simply to reduce bulk from the French seams. 

Not sure what I'm making next, so meanwhile happy sewing! 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Italian job

Thanks for all your comments welcoming the prodigal sewer back into your midst.  I value your encouragement.

I'm surprised Vogue 1351 has been overlooked by sewers.  What's not to like about it?  It is easy to fit, falls nicely on the body and the construction techniques are excellent.

I've posted a photo of the inside of the cowl neckline, which is machine sewn into lining.  This is much better than a facing which can flap up when you least expect it.

I understand why the DKNY team made the dress in a block colour.  The entire garment, except the upper back is cut on the bias, and finding fabric that works on the diagonal can be quite a challenge.  In the end I choose a silk twill purchased in Rome a few years ago.   I just love the result and am sure it will be a high rotation frock for summer.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Spot the dog

One of my goals for 2016 is to make time to post my finished work, so here is the first of many (I hope!).  I've been absent from the blogosphere for so long I'm not sure if anyone is still following.  

My first garment of 2016 is exactly what I needed - walking the dog weekend wear-  but it is not a favourite.  The fabric is fabulous navy and white Japanese (?) linen purchased at my spiritual home Tessuti Fabrics.  

Unfortunately Rachel Coomey's design (Vogue 1247 OOP) doesn't exactly thrill me. 

My point of comparison is the Sutton Blouse by True Bias.  Kelly's pattern is beautifully put together and the cut is more flattering falling softly against the body.  Will post wearing photos and more details shortly.

I've had a great start to 2016 with two other completed projects to show you.  My new dress is being worn tomorrow, I guess you'll see that next.

Don't be strangers - stop by my blog and say hello!