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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!

Vintage Suit sewalong

8 May

So yes, I’ve joined the Vintage Suit Sewalong, because my track record with sewalongs is just so good, and I desperately need a suit in my life, and need a vintage suit even more!

<returns to reality>

I’ve joined the Vintage suit sewalong because even though I don’t think I’ve ever properly completed any sewalong I’ve joined, I love seeing everyone else’s sews coming along, and the finished products. I really don’t need a suit (I need leotards! I’m doing so much dance at the moment.). And I need a vintage suit even less. But the other reason I joined? Well… I have this pattern:

Photo in paper pattern file - Google Photos:

 

Indeed I’ve had this pattern for a very very very long time. I believe it is actually my first ever op-shop vintage pattern buy. I also believe, if I’m recalling correctly, it was 20c. Hit me hard in my hip pocket this pattern did! Oh wait hang on, we’re back in reality aren’t we. Yeah 20c. No wonder I nabbed it 😀 I haven’t sewn it yet. It is one of those patterns I’m sure I’ll sew one day. Maybe its time has come.

Let us take a look at the divine details:

A classic knee-length A-line skirt with two small darts in the front. I adore two small sweet darts instead of the usual boring tedious but perfectly serviceably single dart.

The jacket is a delightful length. Waist length, but just long enough no midriff would show as you move around. I have no problem with showing my midriff but I prefer to show it in the context of bellydancing, not so much an everyday context. But, but, but!!! That length of jacket would allow a nice swish of air round the waist. Inbuilt airconditioning is always a bonus in the tropics.

Behold the angled bust dart – I much prefer angled darts at the bust than boring, tedious but perfectly serviceable horizontal bust darts. The angled dart helps shape the waist of a garment without necessarily creating a curved waistline. It looks great on pinafore-style dresses too.

I don’t mind a notched collar. I’m not greatly excited by the pockets, mainly because all I can see of them is an extra few layers of fabric. HOT!!! so I’ll probably leave them off. And I like the sloping shoulders, considering mine are a classic coat-hanger-ish shape that requires more of a slope than most modern patterns have, to fit them properly

I really really like the fact this jacket won’t need a dicky or a camisole to be modest in the cleavage department. I won’t need to move the buttons up, coz believe me, there is no way I’ll be wearing anything under the jacket. That would constitute wearing more than one layer of fabric. HOT. Waaaay to hot.

Speaking of too hot, the sleeves are too long, so I’ll shorten them, and create a little summer suit of the style that I saw so many of in Brisbane’s CBD in summer when I lived there. Suits like these:

High quality professional summer ol lilac short-sleeve pant suit women's fashion business work wear twinset free shippingNew Pink Business Suits Women Work Wear Skirts Sets Short Sleeve Blazer Suits With Leopard Printed Spring Summer Suits Plus SizeTB2rFxEcFXXXXajXXXXXXXXXXXX-2126658491

 

I was, in fact, so in love with these adorable, short-sleeved suits that even though I didn’t work in a fancy office job in Brisbane’s CBD I made my own pantsuit out of a soft sage green ‘tropical’ wool randomly found in a dusty unkempt fabric shop in my local shopping centre. I wore it when I moved back to Darwin, too, because amazingly, that ‘tropical’ wool was cool enough to do so. For the record I used this pattern. So mid-90s! (hey, isn’t that vintage nowadays? ;-D)

I guess I’m trying to recreate that feel of being so put-together yet so well, er, suited, ahem, to the tropics. Having the experience of tropificying a suit pattern already, I feel equal to the task of tropficying my vintage suite pattern too. I’m considering making some trousers as well as the skirt – probably my usual 3/4 length ones, which could look quite cute with a short-sleeved matching jacket. Not sure though… Must think on it.

According to the Vintage Suit sewalong timetable, May is for muslining the suit. I’d better get on with it then!

Setting in 200 zips?

29 Jun

Well it was only 5 this weekend. But it reminded me of when I was about 11 or 12, shopping for fabric with my mum at a very fondly-remembered fabric store in Parap, one of the older suburbs of Darwin – and home to the wonderful Parap Markets. The fabric shop woman taught me a lot about sewing simply by giving me good customer service. She also sewed professionally, as well as running the fabric store, her little workshop up the back behind the back rack of fabrics, but open to customers.

This particular day, she was setting is a zip as we came in. I said to her ‘oh, zips are so hard to set in!’ She gave me an ever so slightly stern look over the top of her sewing glasses and said ‘Not after you’ve set in 200 of them.’

One of the most important lessons I’ve learnt, not just for sewing but dancing, and music and pretty much everything else in my life. Do it enough times and it’s no longer hard or intimidating. Except Pilates, where the moment it gets easy, the teacher makes it harder.

However 5 zips in one afternoon was a lot, even though I ‘m sure I hit the 200 zips mark long ago.

Why was I sewing 5 zips up all at once?

Well I’d been working on these items of clothing and kinda crawled to a stop with each of  them because I had to set the zip in. In the end, after they’d all been sitting there unzippered and unsewn for a while, I collected them all up, set up the iron, got out all the zips, found all the colours of threads I needed along with their matching bobbins, dug out the zip interfacing from the bottom of the interfacing draw, and set them all in!

And look! Here’s the proof! They’re all done! Woohoooooo!

Here’s what they all are…

The red one’s the skirt from this retro pattern:

Simplicity 4044

The light blue chambray is a pair of shorts and dark blue chambray a pair of trousers, both for my mother from Simplicity 2700. It’s her latest TNT trouser pattern. She’s totally in love with it. So am I, because the fit for the curvy figure trousers was almost perfect for her straight out of the packet.

Photo

 

Speaking of chambray, I looked it up to check I had the right spelling and found some interesting stuff on it in Wiki. I had thought it was the same as cambrik, as in the Simon and Garfunkle song. But I was half right and half wrong.

The coral butterflies (which didn’t photograph too well, it’s way nicer in reality) are to be a pair of shorts from some trousers in a Burda magazine that is over 10 yrs old.

And the green and black shot fabric (Although I’ve just learnt, presuming the Wiki article on them is accurate, it could also be called a chambray!) is for a pair of 3/4 length trousers based on this pattern (Previously blogged about here)

 

However I adjusted the pattern by basically cutting it as wide as I could, trying to approximate this recent burdastyle pattern. Although now I look at it again, I think my green ones are going to be a whooooole lot wider than these 😀 :

120_0514_b_large burdastyle cullotes

 

Well, now the zips are all set in, I’d better go sew the rest of the clothes, right?

Enough with the sewing already!

1 Apr

I need a break from it @_@ <— crazy-looking eyes emoticon. I’ll write about sewing instead. (Kinda like when my mum was writing a physics textbook, and she’s play computer games to have a break from, er, writing at the computer. Amused her offspring no end!)

I’ve been sewing hard all the lovely long Easter weekend. Mmmm! And I’ve well and truly gone over my (attempted) 3 projects only, at a time, rule. Oops!

Here’s the mischief I’ve been getting up to:

1) All the main seams done on the sunburst-pleated version of this New Look dress, in a “wedgewood” colour sateen. (God I love that cotton/lycra sateen as used in my red dress) All the fitting done, just need to finish off.

Interesting note: The sunbeam pleats looked pretty awful across my tummy. Woulda been fine if I had a nice rounded potbelly, or was 5 months pregnant O_O. So I turned the pleats into darts at my mum’s suggestion, the middle one stretching almost all the way across the waist, the others in proportion to it. Looks fantastic!

I’m gonna try making the collar/neckline wider so it will be cooler. Not sure how it will work. Wish me luck!

2) Sewn the main seams and partly fitted a dress in a mid-grey sateen, in this pattern. (Told you I loved that sateen!)

Interesting note: I’ve always wondered how a trapeze-y dress would look on my hourglass figure. Now I know:  sadly, depressingly loose around the middle, unflatteringly tight round the hip. Luckily I’d somehow managed to cut it out so that it was HUGE on me. It was when I took it in to the right size that I discovered the style looked  awful. Thank goodness I cut it out so huge. I’ve got fabric to play with, which gives me high hopes I can fiddle-faddle round with it and get the line and ease to work nicely rather than end up being an ugly paper-bag-over-the-head kinda affair.

It was, however, when I had to pull out yet another version of fitting-basting stitches that my brain went *click* “Can’t do this anymore! I need a break argh!”

Maybe tomorrow…

3) I’ve almost finished a long-sleeved blouse for my mother for our trip to the NSW Southern Highlands to visit family. (The significance of this is that we’ll need much warmer clothes than we ever wear in Darwin). The blouse is a lovely Monet-ish print (sorry, no photo yet) I received from … argh!!! I think it was Modern Vintage Cupcakes? in the recent Swap Your Stash project, (Such fun!)  The fabric  print was a smaller in reality than I’d envisioned from the photo. For some reason that made it a fabric that suited my mother far more than it suited me. Odd eh? But true!

Her go-to blouse pattern is Butterick 6085. I just extended the sleeves to full-length. I highly recommend this pattern btw. Easy, sews together nicely, seams all match well. It’s flattering due to the darts, including on plus-sized figures like mum’s. A rock-solid pattern. (Should do a review on patternreview.com, shouldn’t I!)

Photo

4) And now to my latest favourite pattern. I’m so in love with it!

Photo

I need a pair of trousers for the trip to the Southern Highlands *shivers*. Hopefully I’ll be meeting up with Amanda of Bimble and Pimble to sing 80’s hair band songs enjoy cake, coffee and fabric together! I’m so looking forward to it.

Anyway, trousers, yeah. I’ve done the main seams and fitting on a pair of trousers in black “mechanical stretch” polyester suiting. (Mechanical stretch apparently just means the stretch is in the weave, no lycra added.) I did all the flat-pattern fitting recommended – crotch depth, crotch length, hip width, leg width (not exactly an issue with this pattern :-D) before cutting, and when sewn, I discovered that yippeeee! It needed only minimal adjusting in the back crotch depth and it fit perfectly. I am a Trouser-Fitting Legend, guys! A Trouser-Fitting Legend!

I’m thinking of putting a waist stay or similar in it, coz I know from past experience any stretch round the waist will mean the trousers slide down an inch over the course of the day, lowering the crotch uncomfortably. Usually I just hide a bit of elastic in the waistband but the shaping on these might make a proper waist stay work better.

And just to indulge in more pattern-love (And add a much-needed skirt to my wardrobe) I’m making the skirt out of a raspberry 100% cotton ribstop (ie it’s got pretty little squares woven into it, all in the one colour.). All I did was shorten the pattern in the hip a bit, and voila! it fits perfectly. YAY!

I’m seriously thinking of using this pattern to make something like this skirt in some dark grey cotton ribstop (I ❤ ribstop as much as I ❤ sateen) Channel my inner steampunk. And as I mentioned before, I need more skirts, especially after losing this one 😦  *ponders the picture and the pattern* Might need to be a bit fuller, which wouldn’t be hard to do. I may or may not have the hardware stashed away.

Last but not least, (actually it may not even be last, I’ve probably forgotten something) I’ve been experimenting with undies patterns (aka panties or knickers. In my neck of Australia we call them ‘undies’), but that would take up an entire nother post.

***

Oh, wait! I knew there was something else! I’ve been sitting on a half-finished blue linen, calf-length version of this pattern for a while, not sure how to finish it off. I’ve decided on a ruffle round the hem, complete with pintucks, and ties in the seams to allow me to pull it up. Channelling my inner steampunk again, and here I was, totally unaware I had one till today!

Camo skirt!

13 Mar


One of my TNT patterns is Simplicity 9053.  Almost all of my skirts ever since I got it have been based on this pattern, and half of my trousers. I love it!

 

Here is the latest incarnation – a camo skirt! I added a few cargo-style pockets on the side and back for good measure.

 

I’m really proud of this pocket! And you can see the purple topstitching. Well… it IS purple, honest! I wanted something contrasting but not predictable red or orange. Purple was my solution.

  • Inspiration: I was in love with the camo fabric, and wanted something less predictable than a pair of cargo-style trousers in it. A long, fairly straight skirt with side-slits to the knee is actually quite practical (though I wouldn’t want to wear it bowhunting of course!
  • Fabric/notions/trim used:

Camo-print cotton drill, plain khaki green cotton/linen from my stash for the belt. Doubled ordinary sewing thread in purple for the top-stitching. Invisible zip at back. Button and pattern from my stash. The button looked pretty boring and plain, and not the right colour (dark blue) so I dry(ish) brushed purple nail-polish over the top. Worked really well! And it survives washing just fine.

  • Construction notes:

I put the cargo pocket on the side but at the front at first. It looked really strange so I unpicked the whole lot and repositioned it evenly over the side-seam. Looked much better.

  • Cost:

2m cotton drill @ $9pm

Invisible zip @$3A

Button, thread, pattern from stash.

  • Final word:

Well, the story of this skirt didn’t have a happy ending 😦 It worked well, fitted nicely, and looked great. I got plenty of admiring comments on it when I wore it. What more could a girl want?

I’ve thought long and hard about writing the rest of the story then decided I will, because it’s not talking about these things that allows it to keep happening, leaving children so terribly vulnerable, and people in ignorance (or denial) about the impact of such abuse on the child and the adult they grow into (if they survive to adulthood and don’t commit suicide). It’s also been easier to talk about it ever since I gave evidence in the family court to make sure my much younger half-brother was kept safe from my father (I, and all the other people trying to keep him safe, succeeded, thank goodness).

Cutting a long story short, my father is a sadistic pedophile, and as a result of his severe abuse of me, I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and am on a disability pension because of it too. He worked outside most of his life and wore army-issue style clothes for work. Mostly in khaki.

The colour of this skirt was just overall so much like my father’s standard workwear it ended up triggering me really badly. Some triggers are easy to work through. Some go really deep and are almost impossible to sort out. This colour trigger was one of the deep ones. It hasn’t ever really triggered me when I see others wearing it, and because this colour doesn’t really suit my colouring, I’ve never really worn it, but I figured in a skirt it wouldn’t matter if it didn’t suit me.

I just hadn’t realised I’d react so badly to it. *sad*but wearing it myself and seeing it every morning in my wardrobe when getting dressed was causing really bad memories to come up. I ended up deciding the kindest thing I could do for myself was to send the skirt to the op-shop and hope it finds a Forever Home with someone else who didn’t have that trigger-reaction to the colour.

It wasn’t the only piece of clothing I reacted to that way. I had some green and black gingham I was making into repro 1950’s dress in this pattern was triggering me the same.

Although the green was a nice kelly green, with the black it kinda smudged into khaki out of the corner of my eye. I did myself a favour and stopped sewing it up and sent the whole lot to the op-shop as well. I’ve got a lovely apple green with roses on it, that isn’t triggery at all. I’ll make that into the dress above instead.

Pattern Love

10 Oct

Thurlow Trousers…

Sewaholic Patterns Renfrew Trouser pattern

The pattern description: Finally, a modern trouser pattern designed for curvy hips, fuller thighs and a narrow waist! The Thurlow Trousers sit below the waistline, with a slightly flared leg. Pockets in front are subtle slash pockets that won’t add bulk to the hips.

Did you read that? Curvy hips, fuller thighs and narrow waist. Me me me. That’s me! Me!

Look at how lovely Dana_knockouts’ linen trousers look. Mmmmm. I could do the Thurlow Trousers in a linen like this. Mmmm…

 

 

I’m intrigued and inspired by these Zoot Trousers by Weekend Designer (who wrote 100 awesome blog posts then sadly went on to other things.) They make me want to dance in them! The author makes it look so easy to draft your own. However if it isn’t so easy after all I have a Plan B. I’ve got some beautifully-fitted wide-legged TNT trouser pattern. I can adjust that as per his directions.

A friend sent me some real Liberty of London fabric, actually from London. So soft and fine! Exquisite. And it is such a lovely subtle floral design.How lucky am I? Thanks Josie!  I think I’ll use it for my version of these.

Weekend Designer's Zoot Alors

Weekend Designer also showed how to design some pleated shorts. We’re heading straight into shorts and tiny singlets weather. I’m thinking I might make a pair.

Weekend designer cuffed shorts

And I have the perfect fabric for them, sent to me by a friend in Florida. Thanks Jackie! Funky Flamingos or what? I’ve only got 1m of it, so I found some blue with white polkadot fabric to co-ordinate with it. I’m thinking pink for the main shorts, blue for the cuffs. Maybe a co-ordinating plain pink for a tie belt, too.

Flamingo cotton fabric

Pleats have really been grabbing my attention lately. This entire dress is lovely. I like the shoulder pleats and the neckline, but it’s the side pleats on the skirt that really drew my attention.

McCalls 4633

Then I saw this New Look pattern and realised for my leafy green cotton lycra sateen, it was perfect. View C (what the model is wearing). I’ve used a TNT skirt pattern, and made the hemline slightly asymmetrical (Good for short people like me!) and the ruffle not as full. Almost finished it.

However I can’t seem to let go of the idea of a pleated skirt. I love this patternless skirt  made by kbenco for her daughter.  I have some red cotton/lycra sateen burning a hole in my stash …

 

There isn’t a pleat at all on this hat, but the shape is so divine I had to have it. My excuse is I live in a climate where hats are almost mandatory, even if almost no one wears them but me. The Heather Bailey Boho ClocheGlam up your wardrobe with Boho Cloche hats. Reminiscent of the flapper hat of the roaring 1920s, this cloche (French for “bell”) offers a comfy design that flatters every face shape. Perfect for a day in or a night out, the Boho Cloche embodies French flair in a carefree style that is très magnifique!

This one is in the mail as I type. Hurry up Mr (or Ms?) postman!

Heather Bailey Boho Cloche pattern

My made June-ish

17 Jul

June is usually the coldest month here, and my warmer clothes are usually just op-shop finds to see me through an average of all of 3 weeks of cold weather. So I didn’t sign up for Me-Made June.

But this June turned out sooooo cold I had to dig out some of my southern travel clothes for their extra warmth. One old favourite is this blue velvet skirt. I found the skirt, a straight wrap-around in I think a size 8, (too small for me) in an op-shop in Darwin when I was 19. I made it into this straight skirt that buttons up at the side. (Gorgeous buttons. Mmmm!) The fabric was a tad worn and frayed in places when I found the skirt, and I do secretly love that. It has Character!

It turned out to be the perfect weight for the extra-cold weather. Yes yes, I really was barefoot even though it was freezing 😛 I wore this skirt so much that, especially on days I wore a top I had also made, like this one, I was doing a Me-Made June after all.

One day I will work out how to fit the back of my bodices so they don’t have all that extra fabric in them. I already take some length out of the waist. I have trialled taking some of that excess out of the shoulders/neck, without affecting the armscye. I think it is working. More on that in a later post when I am more confident of what I am doing.

The top is my “wearable muslin” of Sense and Sensibility’s swing era dress pattern, started when I optimistically joined Casey‘s Swing era dress sew-along earlier this year. I ‘fess, I went on holiday in the middle of the sew-along and never started the actual dress The muslin worked out just fine, however, so I finished it off as a top, (practised that crazy shoulder corner seam!) and it soon became a wardrobe favourite. I suspect it is partly to do with the colour (looks lovely on me and goes with everything in my wardrobe), partly the weight of the fabric is so nice (cotton poplin), the style is comfortable (love that back pleat!) and it suits my figure. What more can a girl ask for?

(For the record I have some red, red, red cotton sateen in the cupboard to make the actual dress up.)

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