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I wish…

25 Feb

I didn’t get a chance to do the whole “new year, what am I gonna make of it” (no pun intended 🙂 post. Real Life took over. I really thing Real Life ought to be banned from taking over Online Life. I’m trying to get back into the swing of blogging, with a goal of one blog post a week at least.

Anyway I was going through my stash looking for a particular fabric. White broadcloth. I have a separate stash of white fabrics like muslin and japarra (Weirdly good as a sew-in interfacing) and I thought the white broadcloth was with them. It wasn’t, but in looking for it, I came across a UFO that I honestly think is going to forever be a UFO. And I just thought wistfully  “I so wish I could just throw out the things I’ve sewn that were mistakes, or don’t fit into my lifestyle or just never quite worked as well as I want to.”

I tend to hold onto that kinda stuff in the hopes that I’ll refashion them into something that does work. Sometimes I do. Sometimes quite spectacularly well. For eg this skirt here just didn’t work too well in its original incarnation but I turned it into something that though I don’t wear it very often, certainly works in my wardrobe, looks good and makes me feel good when wearing it. Win! But there are other things like the UFO I saw today, that just won’t. Or I’m so totally OVER I don’t want to.

I have to explain what this UFO is. It’s a pinky-lilac silk dupion skirt and top from this pattern here (The outfit on the right):


A friend was getting married at 11am on the foreshore overlooking the sea. Beautiful location! Imagine that pathway is actually grass (Like it is further along where the ceremony took place.) Nice place to get married huh? (That path is so beautiful to ride along, for the record! One of my fave haunts.)

In addition to making my own outfit out of very expensive silk dupion, I was doing a few adjustments to the bridesmaids’ outfits. My friend had ordered them when they were down south and the hems of some of them weren’t quite the right height, so she asked me if I could take them up. They were polyester and if you’ve read much of this blog you’ll probably have noticed I mostly sew natural fibres. So there I was, about to press one of the hems and I forgot my iron was on the cotton setting. I burned a huge hole in the front of the $900 bridesmaid dress 3 days out from the wedding. Oh. My. God.

I ran into the bedroom and literally curled up on the floor in the corner and cried and shook and basically had a little nervous breakdown. Then I called my mum. (I’ve told her she’s not allowed to grow old and die, coz I don’t know what I’d do without her!)

Mum dropping everything straight away and came to the rescue. See why I don’t want to live without her in my life? She’s awesome! And she was even more awesome coz she found a fix for it. The dresses had a sort of mock-wrap-around front that curved up to the waist. I’d burnt a bit of that about 4 inches in. Mum said “You could just adjust that curve, cutting out the burnt bit, and it wouldn’t look too different from the others.”

I’d rung the bride too, and Confessed All. She was so totally over the whole wedding preps she said she just didn’t care, it was fine. And she came over to see what could be done. But by the time she arrived mum had already worked out what I could do. And in the end, especially because all three bridesmaids, though wearing the same style of dress, were all very different body types and heights, you could only see it looked a bit different if you already knew it had happened.

Oddly enough I never got my own outfit finished, and it’s still sitting there in all of its $80 worth of silk dupion glory, unfinished. And since I was still quite ill in those days and skinnier, it’s probably too tight on me now too.

For the record, it would be around a size 10 Australian. Anyone thinks they could do something with it, please comment and let me know. I’d be very happy to send it on its way to a better life than I’m giving it at the moment.

Hmmm. That last sentence might describe why I hang on to things so much. I feel for them. I’m anthropomophising my sewing projects! The point of the whole post was just a wish that I could let these things go more easily. In fact that is kind of like one of my new years resolutions I made about sewing. That I wouldn’t sew stuff I didn’t like sewing, like yoga pants for pilates in fabrics that don’t last very long because that is all I can get. Go buy a pair from K-mart already!!! If I don’t like sewing it, it becomes a chore and I love sewing too much to do that to it.

Maybe I need to make another new years resolution (or this could be a birthday resolution, a present to myself, seeing how my birthday is saturday!) If something just isn’t working or isn’t really getting finished coz I’ve lost enthusiasm for it, no matter how much work I put into it and no matter how much the fabric cost, then let it go.

Sense and Sensibility Ladies’ 1780 portrait dress

24 Jan
  • Pattern picture
  • Fabric/trims/notions used
Light floaty cotton voile for main garment; polyester chiffon for the sash; a bit of elastic for the waist
  • Piccie of finished garment

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  • Inspiration (for the garment)
The above pattern picture. I love the fresh simplicity of it.
  • Useful info
There is no length measurements or lengthen/shorten lines. This seems to be normal for Sense and Sensibility patterns, and as someone sadly short-waisted, it drives me nuts.
However, just to drive me more nuts, I didn’t adjust the back-neck-waist at all, and yet, this dress is short in the back. It is long in the front too. How confusing. My suggestion is because there is little-to-no shaping from below the bust down, cut both front and back with plenty of length to spare. Then cut the waist length after checking it on the person. Alternatively, you could do a muslin with just the bodice, the skirt is so simple it doesn’t need one unless you really want to get a specific effect of fullness or lack of fullness.
(This dress was my muslin! I am into Wearable Muslins 🙂
The extra gathering at the front in this style is not necessary. Only a small amount – at most 5cm total at the front would be enough. So the effect is overly bouffy. More so than the picture suggests. However, it is rather nice, in a non-modern, non-showing the figure off kinda way. Comfy.
The “racer-back” style is really funky! And very comfortable too.
I simply put elastic into the waistband. Much easier and comfortable. If I made this dress again I would probably trial elastic in the neck too. I didn’t with this dress and it was quite hard to get the right amount of  gather around the neck. Elastic would be a LOT easier.
As you can see, I am not a Purist. I am sure those ladies in 1780s would have used elastic if they’d had it ;-P
Ok, only relevant to people in hot climates. The sash is HOT!!! And the voile was so light I needed a voile underskirt too. Thus this dress turned out as a wear around the home without sash and underskirt kinda dress. Or, with sash and underskirt, a Special Occasion where I will be in cold airconditioning most of the time kinda dress.
Previous posts:
  • Cost
Pattern: $15.95, postage $10
Fabric: 3m voile @ $8pm = $24
Elastic and thread from stash.
Underskirt cut from an op-shop find – $3
Total: $52.95. Heh, if I get my mental arithmetic wrong one day, feel free to correct me! (I will say here and now I am slightly dyslexic and it shows up most when working with numbers. Using a calculator instead of my own brain won’t fix that.)
  • Last word

This was a trial of a possible wedding dress. Well it did its job. I don’t like it!!! ARGH!!! I like the dress, ok, fine. Actually apart from the short back and long front bodice, it is really lovely to wear. So long as I am in airconditioning.

However, it is … froufrou. The skirt in particular. Wide and soft and floaty. And that is only in cotton voile. The thought of it in a slithery silk just … no. No no no.

I am seriously considering just getting married in a sack. I’ve discussed this with my fiancĂ© and he said so long as I was legally covered up so didn’t get arrested and carted off mid-ceremony, he really doesn’t care what I wear.

Good thing we’ve not set a serious date yet. Could be a good few years yet before I work out what I want to wear.

Wedding dresses aside, this is a really nice dress!

Men’s costume/historical shirt pattern roundup, or: What will he wear to our wedding Pt 1

12 May

My darling fiance (aka DF)  felt left out from all the Wedding dress discussion and none of his Wedding shirt. Especially as he has agreed to wear a  “girly” lacy, romantic shirt.

And … he seemed to think I ought to sew his shirt too. I was thinking of simply ordering one from somewhere like this Most Awesome Site In The Entire Universe. (aka known as Gallery Serpentine)

Ahhh. Can’t resist putting some examples up! Why, I ask, does he want me to sew him a shirt when we could deck him out from the Most Awesome Site In The Entire Universe in this?

Cravat shirt from Gallery Serpentine

Cravat shirt from Gallery Serpentine

Or this?

Mr Darcy Waistcoat from Gallery Serpentine

Weeellll… actually I think it has something to do with how much I love him and how every stitch of a shirt sewn by me would be stitched full of my love for him. (ok ok, don’t groan, I know that is sadly sentimental and my Very British Mother would roll her eyes, but hey, I am marrying him for a reason, ok!) (Besides, mum would secretly think that was terribly sweet of me :-P)

Never fear, though, as unlike the trepidation that fills me with the thought of sewing all that silk into a wedding dress, I once made my brother* a “poet’s shirt” (or in his case, and opera-singer’s shirt), and it was fairly easy. In fact I made the pattern myself using a standard man’s dress shirt as a base.

So huh! I’m not scared of them! (but don’t quote me on this. Especially you, DF!)

But since I don’t know where that pattern went, here are some commercial pattern examples for him to consider:

McCalls 5446 Men's and children's pirate costume. Don't worry darling, I'm not suggesting the make-up, just the shirt 😛

The following are technical drawings of 3 sets of patterns, each with 4 variations in them. (Blokey-talk – they love “Technical” things. I feel very proud of myself for speaking in his language, here.)

McCalls 4862 Misses' and Men's poet shirts.

I think in the above I like the one with the sash the best.

Butterick 4486 Men's costume shirts

I don’t particularly like any of these above, but I am perfectly happy to sew any of them if they takeDF’s fancy 😉

Butterick 5008 Men's costume shirts

I rather like the top-right one with the little ruffle round the collar. And now I think of it I do like the ruffle at the cuffs, too.

Butterick 4574 Men's costume shirts

And for the next one, I know running round Sherwood Forest is a part of my ancestry, not yours, DF, but just think about the style of the shirt 😛 (Though I’m happy happy to make you the vest and cute hat as well if you bat your lashes hard enough.)

These next ones are from Folkwear. The piccies aren’t that great but if you click in each one it will take you to their page, which shows the pattern off a lot better.

Folkwear 117 Misses' and mens' Croatian Shirt

Folkwear 202 Victorian shirt

Folkwear 217 Misses' and mens' poet shirts

Folkwear 204 misses and mens Missouri River Boatman's shirt. This is almost exactly like the shirt I made for my brother. Really really nice.

A few more links – but to be honest, they are all starting to look very similar…

I could go over this and edit it to be either talking directly to DF or about him instead of swapping between the two, but I think it would probably make him laugh as it is 🙂

*I just googled my bro to see if I could find an easy-to-grab piccie of him and instead found this book he wrote. I am so proud of him!

A wedding dress (my own) pt 1

6 May

I wonder how many posts I will get up to on my wedding dress by the time it is all over and done with?

Not to mention there are the bridesmaid’s dresses, the flower-girl dresses, and the page-boy outfits. And my fiancee has (I am shocked) graciously agreed to wear a shirt with some romantic-style ruffles and laces. Yes! I am making the most of this unusual agreeableness to non-Aussie-blokey Non-kiwi-blokey styling while I have it!

Speaking of my fiancee, he reads my blog. He has long been one of my closest fashion/sewing consultants. (“Yes, dear, it would look beautiful with that trim.” “Oh, well, dear, if you really love that fabric, you had better buy it then.” “Actually, you are right, dear, a sewing shed would be fantastic for you, of course we can get you one.” * )

In short it is all too hard to hide The Dress from him. After discussion we settled on me talking and sticking up pictures to my heart’s content, but I can’t let him see the final dress till our wedding day. No worries!

Enough of this talk. The pictures, the pictures!

My original dress idea: Vogue 2788

Such a gorgeous dress.

Ok, the Plans for this dress were: no train; the lovely little capped sleeves in chiffon; a chiffon overskirt edged in the same lace as the neckline, ruched up a few inches into scallops around the hem, the ruching fastened with little blue flowers.

There were two problems, namely that although I would wade in and make this dress with confidence, when I got the fabric I found the metres of slithery delicate satin silk terrifying slightly intimidating. In short, I doubted my technical ability to pull it off, and figure a dress this important reeeelly isn’t the time to extend myself too much. (I want to enjoy my wedding day, not be overwhelmingly frazzled by sewing-stress)

The other problem is, even with the modifications, this style just seemed a little too formal and sophisticated for my personality. (I do try to be relatively sensible and all-growed-up, but am not that great at it.)

One day I was checking out (as you do ;-P) and realised she had finally finished this pattern for adult women. (She has long had a girl’s version).

It was an instantaneous and totally heartfelt decision. THIS is the dress I want. I ordered it within the hour. It has the added bonus that the flower girls (my daughter and my niece, the new mothers of the jemima dolls) can be in the matching girl’s pattern. (I reckon I could also make two matching Flower Dolly dresses too 😉

Btw, I recommend clicking on the photo which will take you to the website, where you can see some of the paintings that inspired these dresses. But for a sneak preview, this is my absolute fave 🙂

*This seemingly wonderful (if foolhardy) comment came about from a total mis-match of our concept of “sewing shed”. Mine was a huge, airconditioned, fully-powered shed with wide windows overlooking a gorgeous view, letting in lots of natural light; a soft-but-not-carpet floor covering so I wouldn’t lose pins but my feet wouldn’t get sore; floor to ceiling storage, and filled with every kind of machine and paraphernalia and cutting tables any seamstress could possibly want.

His version was one of those tiny little cupboard-style zincalume sheds you can stick the fertalizers and a few brooms in…

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