Pretty white dresses

24 Feb

I’m trying to work out how to make myself a pretty white dress. What style? Definitely full length. But what style? What feel. What allusions to what past time?

Have some eye candy…. Sorry, didn’t think to write where they’re from.

 

Picking Roses,  Percy Tarrant. (1879-1930) British  .....Note: He is Perhaps best known for his work as an illustrator of books such as 'Wuthering Heights' and 'Little Women',: Princess de Lamballe  1788, la amiga de María Antonieta by Anton Hickel at the Liechtenstein Museum, Vienna.: WW1 summer outfit, Paris Journal 1915-16, from the History Wardrobe collection:

Picnic at Hanging Rock, 1975: Edwardian dress 1908   Augusta Auctions: ❤: London-15th-June-1908: Vintage ad for Crown Perfumery Co., London, featuring Crab Apple Blossoms perfume and Crown Lavender Salts: lindsaylissy2: A photoshoot at the Katherine Mansfield Museum thedreamstress.com

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The Going Overseas travel wardrobe plans

28 Jan

Long time no write, right?!
I’m trying. I have my photos of what I sewed last year in one place. That’s a start, right? Right!

But for the meantime I just needed a place to do a brain-dump on what I’m sewing for when I go overseas for a visit..

My travel wardrobe’s never been good at in-between temps, which is what I’ll be dealing with on my trip. I’m really trying to fix that as I have plenty of sewing time before the trip.

Here goes, in order of importance.

Mid-weight Jacket – Dark blue cotton velveteen with dark blue silk lining, out of this pattern but I think I’ll make the peplum a bit longer to properly cover my hips. Have to look at the proportions once on me to work out how long.

Butterick 4020 Misses' Jacket and Skirt Sewing Pattern

To make sure it will fit properly I’m making a jacket in this high-hip length of some dark teal stretchy rayon/polyester/lycra. I wear that kind of fabric all the time in trousers for dance and pilates. It’s pretty light-weight, so I decided in my infinite wisdom to make it double-sided.

I bought this fabric; the pattern’s a LOT bigger than it looks here – those cranes are as big as my hand. And and and!!!! There’s butterflies!!! It’s gorgeous fabric, high quality and the print is so delicate it’s captured the embroidery strokes it is emulating. GORGEOUS!!! Also it’s a classic. It won’t be dated in 20 yrs. I don’t think so anyway ;-P
Oriental Printed Cotton Sateen Pink 127 cm | Spotlight Australia

The reference to 20 yrs is, because living in the tropics I don’t need jackets etc, so I only use warm clothes when I go to temperate climates maybe once or twice a year, some years not at all. So I always try to buy or make things for my travel wardrobe that won’t look dated in 20 yrs.

Jeans – I hate the buggers. I don’t know how people can say they’re comfortable EUW! but for travelling they’re so useful. I found this Jalie pull-on jeans pattern, Elanore. Simple to make (apparently) and easy to use and without all that hardware that contributes to their uncomfortableness. They come in full length as well as capri but I’ll make full length.

Jalie - Elenore Jeans pattern

I’m trying out the pattern with some lovely silvery-grey stretchystuff of the same kind of fabric as the teal. And discovered it is WAAAY too big  even taking into account the stretchiness and even though reviews said the hips were true to size. *sigh* So I’ll just fit those trousers, cut down the paper pattern then try that length out in a capri-length wedgewood blue stretch cotton sateen. I reeeellly need some more trousers like that anyway!

I was thinking about how bored to tears I get with my travel wardrobe after anything over a week. I know the suggestions are to play with accessories but I don’t usually wear anything other than hats so … I’m just not used to it and don’t know how to wear things. And even researching how to rock accessories, I know in the morning while travelling, I’ll just want to throw some shit on and get some tea into me asap. Just like at home! And because I know I’ll still be wearing it in 20 yrs, I go straight for classics, which are nice but en masse are BORING, right? And unusual, but not fashionable ie datable items tend to be hard to work into a travel wardrobe.

(Mind you I do a great lot of fun with socks, but then I need to wear shoes that need socks, but not boots that cover them, right?)

But most of all, I realise my travel wardrobe is full of plain colours. Nice colours, but plain. When at home I wear patterns, patterns and more patterns. I only use plains as a way to either show off detailed art-to-wear handiwork, like appliqued flowers or something, or just to make my print wardrobe work. Like those capris in wedgewood blue.

So … I think I might have worked out the boredom problem! Not enough prints! So …. I also bought some gorgeous stretch cotton knit with seagulls on sky-blue stripey background, and cute darling cats on a navy background.

I will use Deer and Doe’s plantain pattern to make myself some tops, the seagulls short sleeved and the cats long sleeved. I think the style will work well and be easy to wear in my travel wardrobe, as well as being good as a more outer layer if necessary. I’ve made this before in stretch velvet with a turtle neck as a skivvy and on my hourglass figure that flare over the hips is very gentle. And I won’t need to fiddle with drafting different sleeve lengths. It’s a really really nice pattern. (It would make me buy more deer and doe but hey, I can get a lot cheaper patterns when Spotlight has a sale… Mind you I’ve never seen anything with quite the simple but slightly unusual elegance of the Chataigne shorts. *desire*)

DSC_0023plantain

Speaking of cheapy-sale patterns from Spotlight I bought this pattern in the recent sales, I would love to do the orange tee version. But the seagulls are stripey and wouldn’t work and I only bought enough long sleeved with the cats and this pattern doesn’t have them. And I don’t know enough about sleeves to know how to lengthen what look like cap-sleeves. Maybe I need to go back to Spotties. There were some gorgeous duckies in that cotton/lycra knit…
B6458 | Butterick Patterns | Sewing PatternsCopenhagen Ducks Cotton Spandex Black 148 cm
Given I’m going to need to cope with lot of different temps, which is how it usually is when I travel, I’ve found really helpful three red silk petticoats I sewed while living in Canberra (silk from the old, good, lincraft – fabulous quality!) But I would love to have some white pantaloons too, I might be more comfortable in those in certain circumstances, but also I can wear them more comfortably than a petticoat, or on their own with a nice t-shirt, if it’s hot.
Sooooo I am going to use some white silk I have, to sew up a pair of silk pantaloons. I don’t know how fancy I’m going to get with it, depends, I think on how my temper is and how much time I have before I fly. This item is fairly low on the list. But I’d wear them here, too, so they might get done anyway.

I also want to sew some white bike shorts up. I have the same cotton/lycra knit in white as the seagulls and cats. I’m thinking very simple, with lace at the waist and the legs rather than faffing round with hems and such. Sewing hems on knit annoys me!

Oh and I definitely want to finish this – a half-made grey pleat-back skirt (the grey one in the pattern illustration) out of the same fabric as the teal (It’s such great fabric! It is mostly rayon, comfortably stretchy, wears for ever and comes very, er, classic, colours!) It’s to replace a grey skirt I had in my travel wardrobe that finally died *sobs* but was incredibly useful, easy to wear and easy to wash.

For goodness sake Imogheena just finish it already!
V7937

And … I’m not sure if I have enough of the blue velveteen fabric but if not I’ll go get some more, this time in green – if I get to it for this trip – to make a wrap velvet skirt fastened halfway down the front-side with buttons. I had one in blue velveteen for well over 20 yrs, and it came with me on every trip ever. Cotton breathable in even quite ‘hot’ weather, and easy to make warm with long socks and petticoat in freezing weather, and just about perfect for everything in between. And it died *cries* So I am going to make myself another one!

There. Well we’ll see how I go with all that. A lot of faffing round with patterns and fit, which is not my fave part of sewing, but I like the outcome of getting those right, so … eh. I’ll just get stuck into it!

Pretty ballet skirts.

15 Mar

I made a few ballet skirts last year as part of my sewing for dance teaching. Behold this oh so pretty satin charmeuse ballet wrap skirt.

I bought the leotard online, such a pretty leotard! And, wised up by the too-small black one, I made sure the one I bought actually fitted me. But the colour is a bit unusual and I didn’t have much that ‘worked’ with it. Again I went to Spotlight and auditioned many fabrics. This charmeuse won hands down. So pretty!  When you’re the ballet student in a traditional ballet school like where I do class, (not teach) skirts are supposed to be a bit translucent, like a georgette or a heavy chiffon, but since this was for teaching in my own school with my own rules, a solid fabric was fine ;-P

I had this idea I wanted to do some ballet photography. Couldn’t find a ballet dancer who wanted to be the subject so I used myself. I only have my phone camera which has this stupidly crazily frustratingly long focus time before it takes the photo. This is me discovering how hard it is to hold a perfectly still fifth position releve en pointe. It actually requires tiny little adjustments to not fall over, which blur the photo, or end up with you looking like you have lousy technique. Eh. Wotevs. I had fun trying!

I have also become the proud owner of my very own orange ballet skirt, sadly un-photographed. The photo below is of me wearing one of my school (Where I go for lessons, not teaching!) skirts. That’s the black leotard before I refashioned it. Nice, but too tight lengthways. Makes port de bra (ie waving the arms round prettily) difficult. I forgot to take my own chiffon skirt to class on day. The teacher found this skirt for me in the props cupboard. What a glorious orange! So I went to Spotlight and found (almost) the same colour and made a nice little orange wrap skirt of my own. Nice!

Behold how shiny and un-used my pointe shoes are? They’re much scruffier now after some good few hours on the floor working in them!

The wrap skirt pattern is a rub-off of a black chiffon wrap skirt I bought years ago through my teacher. I had asked her if I could borrow one of the skirts she had for students, to get the pattern from to make myself one. My teacher explained that one of the Ballet Mums made them and sold them for a few extra $$$. Ok, I got the point. I totally understood the value of the handmade skirts and mums needing a bit of extra $$$ for the family budget. I paid my $15 and bought one. However that was over a decade ago. I suspect Ballet Mum’s dancers might be grown-ups now! So I figured she wouldn’t object to me taking a pattern from her skirt and also her neat, quick construction methods to churn out my own. It very neatly cuts out of 1m x 1.12m of fabric. Though it too, is designed for small people. I’m sure mine was the largest size available. I want to grade it to a bigger skirt for people who aren’t shaped the way dance-clothes designers assume they must be.

I have heaps of dance gear I’m planning on sewing this year. Got all the fabrics, just need a big cutting-out session. Dancewear is generally quite quick to whip up, which is nice! High satisfaction return for input. A few dresses to put over my good leotards, a few more dance shorts, and some swishy knit tops for doing pilates in. Try  my hand at leotards. I made one when I first started ballet, like 25 yrs ago when I was 15. But none since! Should be fun. Right? Right!

Sewing for dance part 2

13 Feb

First a non-sewing dance project: A hair bun cover. It actually helped to keep my crazy hair secure in a bun but the shape was weird. Ballerina buns are rounder and flatter than this. Again I had played it safe and followed some (retro) crochet pattern. Next time I’ll keep reworking it till it’s how I want it. It’s made out of ribbon from some awe-inspiringly awesome yarn/embroidery/handicrafty shop in central Sydney years ago. Plenty more for another try, or 20!

Next, a real win created from a fail. I bought a black short-sleeved leotard online, which, in spite of the product description’s measurements, was too short in the body. Or it was assume the dancer’s body would be 1/4 the circumference of mine? (This is very common in rtw ballet gear. Normal-sized, let alone plus-sized people aren’t supposed to dance, apparently *rolls eyes*). I decided I’d lengthen it and transform it into a leotard-dress.

I auditioned many fabric in Spotlight for the part and chose on this gorgeous turquoise and black ‘dry knit’. I took the sleeves off the leotard and replaced them with dry knit triangle cap sleeves. I cut and sewed the sleeve material into a band. Then I took a very deep breath, reminded myself if I didn’t do this I wouldn’t wear the leotard anyway so had nothing to lose, and cut it across under the bust. Next I sewed the band between the bottom and top bits, extending the body by 5cm. I sandwiched the dry knit (1/2 circle) skirt  into the top seam top bit. This neatly hid the rather messy band, too. Like this!

er … Oops!

I found my unpicker and redid it. The below pictures shows the lovely swishy drape of the dry knit skirt.

This is on high rotation as teaching wear. I feel comfortable, my students can see the bits of my body I need them to see and it’s very easy to chuck on over a pair of tights. The fabric was so wide I was able to get a pair of knee-length harem pants of the same style as the blue above, too. I wear them on high rotation too, as they’re practical and comfortable for pilates as well.

Enter a caption

Enjoying myself with dance clothes sewing

10 Jan

I taught ballet to adults in 2016. Of course, one must have the Perfect Work Wardrobe, so I sewed quite a few dance clothes. Of course.

It started well. In March I headed down to Brisbane for training to instruct Barre Attack (A combination of ballet, pilates and fitness). I also checked out a few fabric stores. Of course. I found some great quality lycras – two blues and a grey (not pictured), and some red floral lightweight polyester.

 

I went for some chiffons, too.

The darker blue lycra promptly got sewn up into a pair of shorty-harem pants I wear for pilates and teaching ballet. I used my trusty stretch-knit yoga pants pattern, which is figure-hugging. I just widened the shorts-bit, gathered it onto the pattern’s normal waistband, and gathered the legs onto a leg-band I created.

I made up the red floral and purple floral, and some black chiffon in my stash, into babuchas similar to these below. (No photo of mine, found on pinterest).

Sadly though, they were terrible for teaching (or dancing) ballet in. I was landing from a pirouette while wearing a pair and my toe got caught in the gathered fabric where it joins the band. eeek. Almost fell 😦 So I stuffed all three of them into the back of the wardrobe where all my tango gear hides. Maybe one day I’ll have the health to get back into tango, but for the moment I really just have to focus on ballet.

Argentine Tango Babucha Pants with side slits - "Flowers":

My next project was to use that gorgeous purple chiffon to make something like shown below. For teaching, you understand. For teaching!

The Look: pointe:

Sadly, see the result, below. (sans straps, I didn’t bother with them, they weren’t going to save the dress.

 

Don’t they all look so lovely here?

What went wrong? the pattern was shite. I played it safe by using a commercial simplicity pattern of adult tutus. A sheath with elastic above and below the bust, with gathered elastic shoulder straps in a revoltingly unflattering way. What was I thinking??? Oh yeah that’s right. For teaching. The chiffon is too see-through as well. Or I needed ten layers of it, as it looks to be in the Inspiration Dress.

I still want to have a dress like this, but I’ll design it myself using my peasant top/dress pattern.

Stay tuned for part 2 of my sewing adventures!

 

I accidentally made some Edwardian Drawers.

18 Nov

Yanno, as you do!

Inspiration: I was perusing Wearing History’s patterns when I came across this one

 

I thought to myself ‘Oh I think that’s a circular trouser draft, like the Sunkissed Sweethearts pattern‘ (which also happens to be a Wearing History pattern). Then I thought to myself ‘Oh, but wait! I have a LOT of white broadcloth and voile, I could make one of these using the Sunkissed Sweethearts pattern!’ Then I thought ‘And I could use up all that white lace I keep collecting from op shops. Stashbusting!’

Next thing I knew I’d whipped out the Sunkissed Sweethearts pattern and my copious amounts of white fabric, and had cut out my own rendition of the Edwardian Drawers.

How?

I removed the gathers on the Sweetheart shorts draft (very easy to do) and cut them out in the broadcloth with the curve to the side and extra fabric in the back so I didn’t need closures. The lower part I simply used the curve of the hem on the top part, and cut-and-spread to create a circular ruffle to fit on it.

It was a tiny step from it being cut to having it sewing up. They’re basically elastic-waisted shorts with a fancy ruffle. Too easy! Sewing on the lace took twice as long as it took to make the drawers up. Oh, and unlike in the original pattern description, which has the drawers open in the crotch, I sewed mine together because, like, modern living, like. And I wanted to wear it as outerwear, not underwear!

I put elastic in the front to get it to hug my figure, and a draw-string white ribbon in the back, which ties at the side coz I was silly and put the openings for the drawstring accidentally on the side. Oops!

Around the curve of the upper leg.

Around the lower hem. I need to cut out the fabric from behind the lace. Taking the photo on a darker background might have made it clearer…

I then wore them styled with a white top and a pretty blue sash. The only real FAIL was getting a photo without a silly expression!

You can have me squinting against the glare…

Or me laughing with my eyes closed!

Or a nice expression except my face is turned away from the camera to show off the back.

Back home again, this is to show what it looks like without the top over it. I think they really do look like vintage drawers! *smug*

I love this view. They really do look like so many pictures of Edwardian ladies in their drawers I’ve seen on pinterest. No butt-hugging happening here!

Verdict:

They’re cool, they’re very comfy, they’re very pretty, they’re easy to get on and off. I love them 🙂

No day without a line

9 Nov

‘Remember the painter’s advice to his pupils: Nulla dies sin linea – No day without a line. Nothing is of greater importance than practise.’

From ‘The Manual and theory of Classical Theatrical Dancing (Cecchetti Method)’ by Cyril W Beaumont and Stanislas Idzikowske.

I’m studying for my Ballet teaching qualifications in the Cecchetti school of classical ballet, hence reading ‘The Manual’ as it is affectionately known. The quote got me thinking about all the lines in my life – lines of singing; a line of violin music, the line of the strings and the lines of the bow; a line of written music. Lines of the body in dancing. Lines of dancing interwoven with lines of music. Thousands and thousands of lines of writing and reading.

Oh wait, this is a sewing blog! A line of stitching, a line of pattern, a line of cutting and of course, the inescapable – lines of unpicking ;-P

But the quote is also about practise, and practise is a habit as much as anything else. I’m so out of the habit of blogging about my sewing. I’ve been concentrating so hard on my dance teaching and study this year that the sewing blogging’s fallen by the wayside, especially with the grief of losing Hattie and the strong association she had with my sewing blogging. You know, it’s been over a year, and finally in the past month or so I’ve been able to look at a photo of her without curling up in hurt. So I’m going to celebrate this with a picture of her! Look at her dear little face! And her skull and crossbones name tag, which suited her personality so well!

 

Ok, that’s all I can tolerate for the moment. Moving on hastily … I also started a ballet blog. It was supposed to be the ‘landing page’ for my dance teaching, but in reality the facebook page does that job.

It’s a lot of work to upkeep 2 blogs and one facebook page. I’ve been contemplating closing down the sewing blog and concentrating on the ballet blog. Or vice versa? Lots of lines of thought about my different options!

But all those lines of thought brought me back to the reason I started this blog. I loved reading about other people’s experience of sewing – why they sew what they sew, what challenges they have, how they solved them. And my favourite, the piccies of the outcomes. I wanted to give something back to the online sewing community that I’d gotten so much from. I think these reasons still stand. I might, however, focus more on the whys than the whats though. Just change my focus a tad, see if that is more to my liking.

And getting back to the lines in my life, and the habit of practise, keeping a blog is as much a habit as anything else. I’m going to work to get back into the habit of posting. I’ll aim for once a fortnight. If that’s a bit much I’ll try for every 3 weeks.

As for my ballet blog, while I’m working through what to do with this blog, I also want to work out what I’m doing with my ballet blog. The next few paragraphs aren’t about sewing ok? You’ve been warned 😛 But if anyone has any input about blogs, or online business presence – or even dance writing(!) – I’d love to hear 🙂

Since the blog isn’t doing the job I started it for, do I continue with it? I don’t really know what I want to say through it. I don’t want to write ‘how to do ballet’ stuff. The internet is stuffed with social media covering that. *pfft* No need for me to re-invent the wheel.
I had intended to explore ballet photography, but it hasn’t worked. My phone camera is extremely limiting and I don’t have enough $$ to buy a decent camera. My students aren’t keen on having their pictures taken. I can take pictures of me but … There’s a limit to what I want to put online. Me in clothes I’ve sewn doesn’t seem to worry me. But the dance stuff…? There’s … well, what’s out there is so ‘perfect’, with almost no normal everyday imperfect photos Sewing blogs quite a strong culture of being straightforward and honest about your sewing experiences and your body.
With ballet, I fear that anything I post that’s not ‘perfect’ will open myself up to the vitriol that is out there on the internet, especially against women. It feels like the equivalent of putting online photos of the lingerie you’ve made yourself, ON yourself, with your face clearly showing. In spite of the culture of honesty, most sewing bloggers aren’t prepared to do that. I suspect that’s also why my students aren’t keen on having their photos taken and put on my blog. Essentially, we don’t feel safe enough to put such incredibly personal images of ourselves and our bodies online.

What use then for my ballet blog? Every so often I find something I want to explore. Like the concept of lines. And the concept of the different lines of writing-style between the authors of the different textbooks, which would be my next post if I continue the blog. Then there are just more fun things out there. The more light-hearted side of dance.

There’s also fair bit of crossover between the two blogs. I’m doing a lot of sewing of dance gear. For eg, I chopped up a too-small leotard and added a skirt and cute sleevy-things out of ‘dry knit’ from Spotlight, to create an as-yet unblogged-about ballet-teaching dress. When mum my Reluctant Photographer took photos for this blog she snapped this shot which I think of as my Degas photo. That slight rounding of the shoulders and upper back of a dancer ‘off-duty’, expressive of the fatigue from working so hard is a … well, a line (!) of body I see often in ballet classes. I love how Degas captures the realities of dance. I love how mum captured that in my own stance. Definitely a crossover of concepts between dance and sewing there!

The Ballet Rehearsal on Stage - Edgar Degas - www.edgar-degas.org

 

So maybe I do have things to say on a ballet blog. Just not a huge amount. With my sewing blog there has been plenty of times where I’ve averaged one post a month. I figure that would be just fine for my ballet blog too. Having a goal is always helpful.

We’ll see, I guess.

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