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Not quite what I expected, but I can handle it…

18 Dec

I just got my christmas-present-to-myself box of fabric from Fabric.com! Ooooh pretty pretty fabric….

Just not quite what I expected though, so I’m changing plans.

Firstly, I bought some delicious rayon knit fabrics hoping some nice knits might work well with the whole weight-change crazyiness. I bought navy, plum and lavender. Can I say YUM?!!!

Stretch Slub Rayon Jersey Navy

But much lighter than I expected. And wider! But it will be too hot if I double the fabric up. *sigh* I’ve abandoned the plans and will figure out what I can get out of the fabric as I go.

I just want clothes that fit! So I’ decided to go for TNTs:

And this – without the weird elastic across the boobs effect:

A top-version of this dress of the lilac, with plum trim, I’d only need to line the bodice.

And a t-shirt out of this fabric (butterflies! I love butterflies 🙂 in the beige view of the pattern below, and if there’s enough fabric, a cute pair of undies too.

Cotton Jersey Knit Butterflies White/Blue

I also bought this stunning peacock craft cotton fabric … and yes it IS as stunning irl as the picture is.

Plume Peacocks Multi/Black

 

… as the panel in this pattern.

I bought half a yard but didn’t think it through that the peacock is upright, not on its side, *facepalm* so unless I want a sideways peacock I don’t have enough length to make the skirt panel. However it’s SO beautiful I am going back to buy a full yard. I’m very sure I can use the excess in something else because it really is stunning.

Lastly, I bought this Downton Abbey fabric (delicious colours Mmmm!)

Downton Abbey Dowager Countess Large Medallions Purple

Planning to make it up in this pattern I bought recently:

However the pattern is very large – especially when it will be draped over a rather short me! Lesson: look at the tape measure in the photo to get an idea of proportion before making plans! No way could I be bothered making myself crazy pattern-matching all those panels, and it would look like a dog’s breakfast without it. My sanity – and really, the fabric – both demand a simply-structured dress.

So…

I’ve always wanted a dress in the style of Picnic at Hanging Rock, but I’ve always been scared if I had one in white, and wore it to a picnic I’d disappear and never come back! Don’t laugh! It’s a serious possibility! Just watch the movie.

Picnic at Hanging Rock tribute by Mirko Macari, via Flickr

However I’m sure if it was in a different colour I wouldn’t be running that risk.

Or should I just go straight for the Downton Abbey styles? The simple cream, or the white with scattered motifs. Or perhaps the dusky rose though that demands two layers over the skirt. Hot 😦

 

There’s a decade or two-ish between when each is set, and really, once pared down to a tropical-wearable dress, there’d be even less difference in a dress. The question is, can one dress fulfil my desire for both a Picnic at Hanging Rock dress and a teens era dress? Must think more on this…

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Jacket sewing is scary!

12 Aug

The expression on my face in the above picture captures the scary-bit really well!

And then, bit more confident but starting to realise photographing dark blue velvet is ridiculously hard.

And even harder to do a back-view-mirror-selfie of dark blue velvet.

So uh, just what are these pictures supposedly showing? Well, glad you asked!

The Bolivian Milkmaid Jacket in dark blue velvet, (oh yum! *dies of happiness*) the bottom view, which is the ‘traditional’ version, adapted to my needs in a jacket – well what I fondly hope are my needs.

Why is jacket-sewing scary?

I have made a grand total of two jackets in my entire life. One from this cat-eaten Style pattern (I adore Style patterns) in a bottle green, that I took with me backpacking, and used for three years and yet have no photo of me in it. Go figure eh?

(I also made the trousers for my sister once in a soft crepe of a dark background with little green flowers on it, that draped like a dream. She looked fabulous in them if I do say so myself! Anyone that tells you 5 foot nothing is too short for wide-legged trousers is using the wrong fabric.)

The second was a lovely little bolero jacket out of black silk noir. Simple and beautiful. And very easy!

I’ve tried to do a few more and they became UFO’s for various reasons like the one I explain about below. I think the Scary Bit is partly because I have so little experience making jackets, and partly because the only jackets I have made were made when I was young and knew everything 😛 However, the technique I employed with both jackets, was to gather my courage up and jump in the deep end – and do something I rarely do – follow the instructions exactly. It worked! (And those are double-welt pockets lurking under those innocent-looking flaps) So I’m doing the same again. So far so good…

What I need in this jacket:

  • Look good (yeah of course, right?!)
  • Be able to be worn with anything at any time, anywhere. Kinda like The Goodies 😀 (Seriously though, I’m not asking too much. I have a black woolen coat I bought from Max 17 yrs ago in Auckland, (Italian wool because it’s somehow better than either NZ or Australian???) It fufills these needs, except for the minor detail that it’s a coat and thus a bit hot for like ooh say my upcoming trip to SE Queensland. I want all that but in a jacket that is more about cutting out cold wind in a Brisbane winter, or a temperate climate spring or autumn, than suitable for a NZ or southern Australian winter.)
  • Scrunchable. Looking after jackets isn’t my forte – I’ve got almost zilch experience!
  • Something I can actually sew in the tropics without getting either heat exhaustion or prickly heat rash. (Mmm prickly heat rash, such fun. *shudders*)

I know from sewing a couple of pairs of cotton corduroy trousers for mum that I can sew that fabric without dying. I have the most divine red boiled wool from the then Global Fabrics in Wellington 10 yrs ago. It was to be the fabled go everywhere do anything jacket. But I couldn’t do more with it than sew up the main seams before I got so hot and bothered and prickly and irritated by little bits of red wool dust that I scrunched it up (see what I mean about not knowing how to look after these kinds of things?) and threw it in the back of the top cupboard behind all my winter gear. (It’s still there. It’s too beautiful to get rid of and too hot to sew. Impasse.)

Just to explain why mum and I have winter gear when we live in a climate where 18C is a freezing cold night, I have a brother, sister-in-law and a gorgeous little nephew who live in the Southern Highlands of NSW. Fellow Aussies will know that has very cold winters. If we visit from late Autumn through to about mid-spring, I need every soft warm fuzzy thing I own, and then some! Same with Mum. My nephew’s birthday is late August; a few years ago mum and I went down for it, and Oh My GOD I almost died of ice-blockedness. I swore that no matter how much I love my nephew, I’ll have miss his birthdays 😦

Anyway, cotton velvet is very similar to handle and sew as cotton corduroy, and I’m not overheating! And what is more, I’m actually enjoying sewing it. Nice huh?

Construction notes:

After looking at reviews on sewing pattern review I decided the jacket was too short for the look I wanted, so I lengthened it. I also felt the amount of flair over the hips created by godets set into the seams and darts was just too much with the longer length. In the pattern, each seam has two godets in it, so I simply only used one. This also meant I only had 7 godets to sew in, not 14. Always a bonus 😀

This is the godet set into the centre back. Wow, appreciate for a moment you can actually see something in this photo!

Here’s the one set into the front dart. It was actually harder to do than setting the godets into a seam. Technically it shouldn’t have, but in reality it was just harder and more fiddly to get right. Fortunately, I’ve discovered, velvet is fairly forgiving of things like a bit more or less fabric in a seam allowance than is supposed to be there. I hadn’t expected that, but I’m happy to take it!

To line or not to line?

Originally I wanted a lining, one of those nice slithery things that make putting a jacket on extra-easy. I’m not that good at putting heavy clothes on. Yes, a velvet jacket is heavy! But I didn’t want acetate. Sticky. Doesn’t breathe. I tried to track down some rayon bemburg lining in a dark blue, but just didn’t find any, either in my local Spotlight (though they had signs up for the price of it. Typical Spotlight huh?) or online anywhere. I wanted dark blue because it’s BORING. Yes boring but will mean the jacket is more likely to still be in use in 17 yrs time. (I didn’t think of silk till it was too late to get any sent here)

I gave up on trying to line it, and bought some navy bias binding (yes yes, BORING, I know) to do hong kong seams.

However… after trying it on for these photos, the silly thing stuck to my clothes and seemed more to resemble velcro than anything else. So that’s it. I’ve just gone and got the nicest dark blue lining I could find in my local Spotlight, a thick viscose/polyester affair that is apparently both Italian, and anti-static.

Well, I supposed I’d better go and sew some more 🙂

McCalls 6470 or: a matter of proportion?

28 Jul

I made McCalls 6470 up in a soft craft cotton. The pattern looks designed for a more flowing fabric, like a satin, say. But it worked fine, I think.

McCall's 6470

I got mum to take some photos. She hates taking photos, but I batted my lashes nicely and she did it for me. Aw! The things mothers do for their children! (Thanks mum!) I took a look at the resulting photo (I only get one chance. She doesn’t do repeat shots! so you get a silly expression coz mum had said something that made me laugh.)

Anyway, photo. I was like … what happened??? I look like I have a ‘triangle’ figure instead of my actual hourglass one. Huh???

 

Was it the belt? Was it the fact that there is a huge amount of fabric around the shoulders and bust in this pattern, that then narrows to the hips?

Or is it that I used a soft craft cotton that stands out more than the slithery drapy satin reccomended would have?

Or is this just how I look in a straight skirt and I’m not used to it coz I hardly ever wear straight skirts?

Here’s the back shot. Again I think it’s top-heavy.

So I went experimenting on my own, inside, with some mirror-selfies. I apologise for the crap photos. I know my photos aren’t usually that great anyway, but my new phone’s photo capacity is really lousy. *facepalm*

Back to the proportions, here is the outfit without the belt. I think it does seem more balanced top and bottom. Funny a belt round the waist changes the emphasis so much.

With both the skirt and the top shortened, (below) I still think it’s more top-heavy, though the width of my thighs revealed by the top’s higher hem balance it a bit. Or maybe it just makes me look chunky all over? O_o

And with something entirely different – bloomers inspired by these from Phonograph Fashions made with my TNT retro jammies pattern, burda 7109 (I just want to buy that entire shop out, to be honest!)

Hmmm. Still emphasises the top, but the bloomers help balance the bottom a bit.

 

Yup, that’s definitely making me look broad across the shoulders. Gosh, IS it possible to look like I have (relatively) slim hips??? I wouldn’t know myself if that happened too often!

After all that experimentation and photography, the conclusion I’ve come to is that it does bring quite an emphasis to the shoulders. Or I could just be seeing things that aren’t there.

What do you guys think?

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.

Blue shoes of happiness

3 Nov

(to misquote Alexander McCall Smith)

I’ve finally made the blue shoes I bought in Freo  a consistent colour! These shoes weren’t both quite the same colour when I bought them, because one had faded to a dirtier version of the original colour while on display. The proprietor of the shop would have ordered in a new, unaffected pair it was my second-to-last day in Freo and to freight them to Darwin was unreasonably expensive. So we worked out a discounted price we were both happy with.

I could have just worn them as they were, and I bet only I would have noticed. (Oh ok, probably all the friends I pointed the fading out to would also notice ;-P) but Ms Perfectionist wanted them looking the same.

I discovered upon returning to Darwin that blue shoe colourings come in navy or navy. And my almost-beautiful blue shoes are light blue. (The light blue ones in the middle.)

I tried a number of things, from renovating shoe polish in navy, to oil pastels, but sadly nothing carried the colour to the shoe evenly. Oh no!

But this afternoon I found the solution (I hope!). Years ago I used to make shaman drums, painting designs on the drum faces with  folk art acrylic paints. Given the wear and tear a drum face goes through, such as the striker hitting it repeatedly, the constant vibrations, and the myriad things done to it to keep it dry, and thus in tune in this humid climate (like drying over a fire, or with a hairdryer) the folk art acrylic paints proved surprisingly durable.

Also, recently, I touched up the green colour on my bowhunting hipbag with folk art acrylic paint. That paint, too, has stayed put with no flaking, after a bit of hard wear thrown at it on my recent hunting trips. So, I’ve tried the paint on my Blue Shoes of Happiness. I figure even if it only lasts a few months, I still have the paint to re-touch the shoes with. And the wet season is probably going to be its worst enemy, but hey, it is every shoe’s worst enemy, so nothing changed there.

The colour is “light periwinkle”, which I had left over from decoupaging my jewellery boxes, which, I just realised, I haven’t blogged about. How remiss of me! I diluted the paint a bit so I could work it more easily around the stitching etc. And… they look fantastic! Mmmmm

As a bonus, I think I may have found the solution to my gold dancing shoes. They are a delicate gold, so much nicer than most gold shoes out there and are handmade in Australia by a Brisbane shoe company whose name has long worn off the inside of the shoe. I love love love them. But they are looking a bit worse for wear. If my Blue Shoes of Happiness stay, well, happyness-inducing, I will investigate a suitable shade of metallic gold folk art paint for my gold dance shoes. After no-new-purchases October, of course 🙂

And last but not least, a big happy birthday to my brother, Simon, my cousin Bronwyn and in memory of my late Gran, who all share today as their birthday!

Myers changing-room

8 Sep

Not much sewing round here, just holidaying in Fremantle! Of course, the small town girl had to hit the big city shops and try on lots of clothes to get ideas for sewing projects.

The colour piecing on this dress was very effective. The colour suited me well. I loved it! My fiancé (poor guy, back home in Darwin, still at work, being sent holiday photos like this from his beloved!) was making noises about buying it for me.

But sadly I am such a clothes snob and this dress had some terrible flaws when on me. There is no way I would let him buy me a dress that is just too BIG in style and line (it wasn’t from the petite range. The petite range was pretty uninspiring) and too long for pleasing proportions on me. And … the real killer, it wouldn’t be that hard for me to make myself if I really wanted to. (My fiancé is very used to this kind of reaction 😀 and just chuckled 🙂

This was a one-piece dress with this cute little peplum set in around the waist. Nice. I did actually need some work clothes. If only I was into buying rtw clothes new, this may well have come home with me.

Not so cute coz it didn’t fit right. (It was waaaay too long in the back-waist. I am sadly short.) Nice styling in a fairly boring way. Ok for work … in a boring way.

I thought this one might be nice for a day out in Darwin. I love this style of skirt on a dress, and have been eyeing off patterns like this for ages, so I was glad to take the opportunity to try it on.

Sadly, I am not convinced it looks all that good on me. I could be wrong, I could be being old-fashioned and have my Granny’s “that makes your hips look broad” ringing in my head. (Ok I definitely need to get rid of that comment. She said mostly of loving, positive things, I would rather remember those instead.) I was also disappointed in the colour – it didn’t look as good on me as I thought it ought to! Not sure if it was the lighting, which can be deceiving, or if it was just that bit too yellow in undertone for my cool colouring 😦

Lovely back hem details on an otherwise straight skirt.

I did a lot more than window shopping. Here is the proof!

I had to find room for all of these in my suitcase on the way home! From left to right: My trusty slippers;  Blue velvet mary janes (that pack beautifully flat); Purple shoes handmade in Bulgaria! Nuff said? (from a boutique shoe shop in Perth);  Blue Naot sandals (from an old-fashioned shoe shop in Freo); Every dancer needs a pair of red shoes! (from an op-shop in Freo); My trusty Cherry Docs (my travel-shoe wardrobe basics); Hiking boots.

My old pair of hiking boots died tragically 3 months ago, and it is hard to find such things in Darwin, so when I saw these lovely boots on special, I nabbed them immediately. I’m hoping to try them out next weekend!

I also ended up in a couple of op-shops in Freo, and found all sorts of clothes, including some much-needed workwear 🙂 Op shops are just much more fun than stuffy, conventional big name shops…

Last but not least, why I didn’t spend that much time in the big city shops after all:

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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