Tag Archives: Sewing

Style 4890, butterflies, poincianas and a beautiful house

6 Jan

Just look at that poinciana. How beautiful? I love love love flowering trees, and from mid year till christmas, Darwin gets one flowering tree after another after another. The poincianas flower during the worst weather of the year (Oct/Nov), so you get a very typically Darwin-like dichotomy of horrible weather and glorious colour.

Oh yeah, sorry, forgot to mention: I made a tunic-dress from Style 4890. See the little butterflies on the fabric? So sweet. (That’s my mum on the right, wearing a dress from Burda 8379)

If you’re not into the orange-reds of the poinciana, perhaps the cooler reds of this frangipani are more to your delight?

Oh yeah, sewing. I wanted something to test the pattern before I used it on this gloriously vibrant blue and white butterfly fabric:

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This sweet green butterfly fabric jumped (flew?) out of my stash and volunteered for the job. I had enough for a tunic. Nice and cool to wear round the house, but works well with my bloomers for streetwear.

I love all the reds in this picture.

I love how easy it is to fit my back with the help of some shoulder darts so common in vintage patterns. Modern patterns should routinely have them too I reckon.

I sized the pattern up from the vintage size 12 to fit my modern size 12(ish), including an FBA, and am pleased with the result.  I didn’t have enough fabric for the pattern’s sleeves so I used my ubiquitous cap sleeve from the Amy Butler Lotus tunic pattern.

(I’ve never actually gotten round to making this pattern up, but I’ve used the cap sleeve on it more times than I can remember, so hey, it was a great buy, right?)

Amy Butler Lotus Tunic & Cami AB031LTC

I’ve subsequently sewn the blue and white butterfly dress, just need photos of it. Another post for another time.

The photos were taken at Burnett House, a National Trust property built in1938, during their sunday afternoon tea. Burnett house sits on the cliffs of Myilly Point overlooking Darwin Harbour. The architect, Burnett, designed houses especially suited to the tropics. Rows of louvres rather than windows and walls, roof cavities that let the hot air escape, and building at treetop level to catch the breezes that are cooled as they go through the trees are just some of his innovations. Apparently he was involved in designing the Raffles Bar in Singapore too.

My experience is that the more of his features a dwelling has, the cooler and more liveable it is, and (these days) the less aircon you er, ‘need’. (When I was a kid only really rich people had aircon and even then not usually throughout the entire house, nowadays everyone ‘needs’ it ;-P).

Imagine sleeping in this room. What this picture doesn’t show are the views of the cliffs overlooking the harbour, and the cool breeze stirring through the room even though it was a still hot day outside, in the hottest, yukkiest time of year. Definitely no aircon needed here!

I’ve never done a mirror-selfie in such a pretty setting before.

Well-loved sewing gear. (Remember those patterns, they’ll appear in another post.)

How special is this? The reverse is almost the same as the front. Certainly wasn’t done by an embroidery ham-fist like yours truly…

Another try at capturing the floral beauty of October/November in Darwin

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What is intermediate sewing anyway?

14 Sep

The recent discussions round the place on beginner vs intermediate sewing information have gotten me thinking too. What IS intermediate or even advanced sewing anyway?

I don’t think it’s about advanced sewing techniques or couture techniques. Not for me, anyway. These are just technical sewing skills, some harder than others. A good instruction book (of the many I’ve found in op-shops) will teach me what I need for these skills.

For me, advanced sewing involves something completely different than learning yet another sewing technique. It is about harnessing and applying creativity to my sewing. About understanding how I create, why I create and how to do so most effectively apply it to my sewing. It’s also about utilising skills of maths, proportion, size, an understanding of the properties of the materials you are using, (does it sound like I come from a scientific and engineering family?!) and applying these to the creative mix as well. Not a lot of activities so neatly combine two very differing ways of using your brain like technical and maths skills with creativity. I think the way it does is what makes it so immensely satisfying.

I find almost all the beginner sewing things online irrelevant to me. Sure, there are gaps in my skills, but most of them are because I just don’t enjoy a certain kind of sewing that requires those skills. Learning them would be pointless for me unless I branch out into sewing something unusual to me, like my recent velvet jacket make. I found all I needed in instructions to make it successfully online, and by reading the pattern instructions, and delving into my sewing technique book collection.

The reason why that jacket was challenge for me wasn’t the technicality of the sewing, it was coming up with a design that appealed, that fitted my jacket-needs. I then sought a pattern that seemed the best suited to being adjusted to fit the vision I had. I looked for and found some fabric that would work with it, having ‘auditioned’ quite a lot of different kinds of fabrics. I started sewing, I found a few problems with my original concept that I hadn’t forseen, and used my experience and knowledge of patterns and fabric to solve the problems, and eventually came up with a jacket that was 95% close to the vision I had originally had. (Minus 5 % due to the fit not being quite what I wanted but only 5% because it’s very fixable!)

As I’ve just shown, I am sewing with a different focus than beginners and even slightly more experienced sewers have. They seem to be focussed on sewing skill acquisition. (It’s been a loooong time since I’ve been a sewing beginner, so I’m only going on what seems to be popular online for beginners.) I also seem to be sewing with a different focus to the supposedly ‘advanced’ sewing information, such as couture techniques.  In the end, to me, they are just yet more fancy techniques.

For me the techniques themselves long ago took on less focus. They are simply tools to help me translate my creative concepts into reality. What’s important now, and has been since my late teens are things like how to interpret the fabric, interpret the personal style (for whoever you’re sewing for), the pattern, fit (not in a beginner way of making measurements fit and doing FBA’s but as a more fluid and creative concept of how the garment is going to behave on the wearer as they wear it, doing the things they are going to do while wearing it), finding ways round issues like the desired fabric being so expensive you could only afford half a metre of it, or that the perfect zip colour doesn’t come in the zip style you want.

It becomes about creativity, and creativity has its own dynamics – and a creative person needs to work out how to maximise their own creativity, how they personally get from start to finish of a creative project, how they maintain the enthusiasm that will help carry them through the boring bits of a project. Fundamentally it’s about getting the most satisfaction out of their creativity. It’s also as important to know how to not stifle their creativity it in some way, and conversely, manage the outflow of creative ideas so they don’t overwhelm the person to the point of stalling them entirely.

Sewing has taught me SO much about creativity generally and my own personal creativity. Having sewn steadily since about age 8, I’ve gone on to learn how transferable those skills are to other creative pursuits, eg dance, music, writing. And most of life really.

I’m figuring it’s people who are very creative that are likely to be the ones who want to sew at more than beginner level. They also probably have creative skills already that they could learn to apply to sewing – and vice versa. I think seeing sewing in this context could also help people who feel guilty about the size of their fabric and pattern stashes (There’s SO much of that on the sewing blogosphere), to feel less like they’re being Naughty somehow, and more like they’re simply making sure as creative beings that they have the tools with which to be creative. It may even help them work out ways to create stashes full of things that DO inspire them, and that they DO want to sew, rather than filled with the latest pretty fabric they couldn’t resist buying (I may or may not be refering to myself too, in this ;-P)

Sewing also requires some very technical, engineery and mathematical skills that are not of the ‘traditional woman’s skills’ type. Looking at what those are and how they apply – and if it isn’t something you’re good at, how to work around your own ‘weaknesses’ and get that part of the job done anyway (though from what I’ve observed, most serious sewers are strong in technical engineery skills too.) The same skills for harnessing your creativity also apply to the engineery things. For eg, figuring out the best way to do an SBA for a particular pattern style you’ve never worked with before.

And working with the two different things, creativity and engineery together has an entire new set of lessons to learn, like when is it best to get all technical to the last millimetre or when to go with your creative wild impulse and throw measuring to the winds.

Some of the blogs I enjoy the most are ones that show these elements of the sewist’s process. Less with the how, and more with the why and the inspiration and the struggles and triumphs as they grapple the reality of fabric and pattern and body that is or isn’t living up to their original vision.

 

Yes, intermediate sewing skills are very different to beginners! And not in the obvious ways. It becomes more about the experience of sewing and wearing your own sewn clothes, why you choose to do what you do with fabric, thread, patterns and stitches and less about how to do ‘perfect bound buttonholes’ or ‘how to set in the perfect placket zip.’

Do I sound like I think I could write an intermediate sewing book myself? YES! Do I have the health to do so? No 😦 Would I like someone who has the health and ability, to actually write it? Hell yeah!

There IS a gap in the market. I’m really hoping someone will write one, or more! One that satisfies a lot more than a book made up of more ‘advanced’ sewing techniques would.

 

Vintage pattern pledge: late but doing it anyway!

5 Aug

I’m joining in the Vintage Pattern Pledge, for the same reason A Stitching Odyssey created the pledge – I love collecting vintage patterns, (mostly from the local op-shops here) but don’t use many of them. The few I have used have been really good, and ended up in some cases becoming TNTs. It’s kind of silly to collect them all and then not use them. Especially when I’ve had such great luck with the few I have used. (might find some more TNTs in there!

I’m going for 5 by the end of this year, but won’t beat myself up if I manage less. And I’ve decided to add in three little clauses of my own to the pledge.

1) Use vintage patterns (or vintage repro, I’m not fussy) that I haven’t used before.

2 Use fabrics I’ve had sitting in my stash forever, that are too good for any pattern! You know, the ones you look at and think ‘one day I’ll find a pattern that does justice to this fabric.’ And you’re still thinking it 5 yrs later. Uh, 10 in some cases… *sheepish* (Well, when your brother sends you 1.5m of silk georgette from Como in Italy, specifically chosen as a present because legend has it that Como was the first place in the west that produced silks, in a stunning green and blue floral pattern, what pattern IS good enough for that???) (I’ve long ago accepted I’ll never cut it. I just take it out every time I ‘shop my stash’ and pet it lovingly.)

3) Make things that fit in with my wardrobe plan, so I’ll actually end up wearing them.

Well, here’s the patterns I’m intending to use:

I’m working on learning the skills to be able to sew my own underwear. I’m good with the stretch-knit undies. I’m working on the woven undies (They’re so similar I don’t really ‘need’ to work on them but I am having fun and gaining experience, so hey!). After that I’m going to work on ‘bralettes’ given a lot of my life is spent in them. Lastly will be full-on underwire bras.

This comes under the bralette category. I’m thinking the red halter second from the top, and/or the one right at the bottom. I’ll probably use up some scraps rather than cutting in to a bigger piece of fabric. That’s still very Virtuous though, I feel.

Simplicity Creative Group - Misses' Vintage 1950's Bra Tops

While I’m still on the bralette subject, I have this pattern from Mrs Depew Vintage. It’s on my bralette-sewing list. I may get to it this year. So pretty!

Vintage Sewing Pattern 1940's Pauline Matching Bra and Tap Panties PDF Print at Home -INSTANT DOWNLOAD-

 

I want to make some of this style of french knickers, just out of curiousity as to how those gussets work, and how comfortable they might be. Don’t know what fabric yet, either. I’d love to make them up in silk I have had for three or four years, but realistically I’ll use something less expensive to tral it.

These lovlies are from New Vintage Lady on Etsy. I love her shop!

NVL 1940s bra and tap panties pattern set 46 by NewVintageLady

 

However for my pair, I’m going to draw up this pattern I found through pinterest. Just the undies – unless I go totally nuts and make them all up 😛 (Actually… that’s not a bad idea! They look so light, easy to wear and cool. It’s lovely and cold and dry today, but it’s August. October and the ‘build up’ *are Looming O_O )

*The Build Up is the build up to the wet season. It’s very hot, extremely humid and the only saving graces are the magnificent and awe-inspiring storms we get during this season, and – mangoes! YUM!

 

This one I found through pinterest too. Oh how I ❤ pinterest! I drew it up full-sized, based on the schema given, last night. I was presuming it would be too small for me and I’d have to make it bigger, but measuring the flat pattern, it is bigger than it looks. Worth muslining as is, at anyrate. I love that collar…

Fabric? No idea! I do have some ‘my vintage’ fabric I’ve been meaning to make up into a simple top. Like you know, meaning to for 4 yrs, heading fast towards 5! But it’s quite busy and I wonder if the details might obscure the lovely simple lines of the blouse. Or would it work if I had the inside of the collar in a plain co-ordinating fabric?

 

 

Another pinterest find. I’m planning on drafting it to my own measurements – short-sleeved of course! I’m loving the style lines of this top, however I’m not entirely sure how I’ll work my bigger-than-A cup-bust. An FBA that still keeps these style lines intact? Hmmm.

I’m not so interested in the trim. The fabric I’m planning to use (some beautiful soft satin cotton sent to my by my ‘Auntie’ Josie a few years ago) is also quite busy. Perhaps the neckline would look good in a co-ordinating plain fabric? *ponders*

Miss Conover's blouse, 1921 | via blueprairie

Lastly, I can’t decide between making a blouse like this (short sleeved and the bow lower so it’s cooler, of course)

Lovely blouse

using this pattern. 1986 IS vintage, right? The fabric that jumps out at me for this is a simple very light grey op-shop find that a burn test suggested was either pure cotten, or cotton/linen mix. It’s a soft fabric. I’m quite in love with it. And being from the op shop it’s of unknown vintage. Perfect!

Butteric 4032

 

Or do I want to do this one, using a cotton sateen of blue roses on white? Lovely! Both the pattern and fabric have been in my stash at least 4 yrs.

I think that’s all too far in the future to worry about. I may not even get there this year.

 

However what I have to start on right after finishing this post, is a jacket in blue velvet from this Bolivian Milkmaid’s Jacket from Folkwear – the bottom view, which is the traditional one. Though I cut down some of the excesses of godets, and the width of the sleeves coz I didn’t have enough fabric for the full jacket. Yikes! It took a lot O_O.

I’m heading south at the end of August and I’ll need something nice and warm. Mmm dark blue velvet Mmmm!

Tanit-Isis’s Grecian dress goes tangoing

4 Oct

A few months ago I was looking for something different to wear to tango practicas. I had 3m of blue-and-white 1″ gingham, and an afternoon. I’ve been admiring Tanitisis’s Grecian Sundress which I’d pinned on my pinterest sewing boards. There was another, similar dress I’d pinned that was basically a long rectangle with a slit for the head/neckline. I decided to go for Tanitisis‘s dress because I’ve got quite marked sloping shoulders, and I thought her dress was less likely to fall off me. And I loved the gathers across the shoulders too. I downloaded it, stuck the pattern together (I’m getting really quick at that these days!) cut the dress out and sewed it up, all in time for the Tango Practica early that evening. Pretty darned good eh?

  • Fabric/trims/notions used
cotton/polyester gingham in blue and white
  • Inspiration

I wanted something different for practising dance in, not the usual shorts and t-shirt style.

  • Construction notes

Sooooo easy. I didn’t do the shirring, I’ve never done shirring before and I didn’t want to fiddle about learning it, I just wanted the dress done. I think I’ll go back and do the shirring as I think the gathers would sit better than the lace sash I used in the photo.

The fitting for the bust was pretty genius, actually – simply make longer or shorter in the front along the shoulder edge to suit. I made mine a little bit bigger and it hung well on me, ie wasn’t pulling up at the front hem to compensate for my bust.

I love the shoulder gathering but I think I gathered mine a bit too tight. I think looser so it falls a bit further over the shoulder would look a bit better.

  • Last word

Thankyou so much for the pattern (And free too!) Tanitisis! I really appreciate the generosity of the online sewing community!

I had my camera set to take a series of photos, so here are some action shots of me trying out some Argentinian Tango ‘ochos’ in the dress. Tying the sash (first picture) isn’t part of a tango ocho, but costume adjustment form such a part of dancing I put it here anyway 😀

 

Pink Camo Shift Dress

27 Jul

The friend in America that ended up with the white silk chemise had sent me this delicious pink camo cotton drill fabric as a birthday present back in March. I made it up into a shift dress using a Vogue pattern I’d found in an op-shop. The pattern required so much adjusting to my curvy shape it was no longer too appealing and I returned it to the op-shop. I like to think of it as renting from them! 50c for a few years of renting is very reasonable, don’t you think? 😀

However, sadly, it means I have no idea of the pattern number. It was shown on the pattern cover made up in a fabric with bright big yellow flowers on black. Don’t suppose that helps identify it though!

  • Fabric/trims/notions used
Pink camo cotton drill. No zip needed (I rarely need zips, I’ve found. I have very flexible shoulders and I wonder if that is why I can get into most dresses without one?)
  • Inspiration

I just wanted to try that pattern out! It had been sitting in my stash with its smooth, sophisticated (very Vogue!) pattern cover, for a couple of years. I think it works really well in this camo. Not quite so sophisticated. But then, I live in Darwin and Sophisticated has a very narrow span of use here 🙂

  • Construction notes

Fitting it to my figure was kinda crazy. It was a size too small in the bust to start with, and maybe 10 sizes (or that’s what it felt like) too small in the hips. And yes, the model the dress was shown on, on the pattern cover, had more in the line of gentle planes rather than widely-swinging curves. Shoulda taken that as a warning…

Somehow I managed to get it to work out by up-sizing the paper pattern to fit my measurements. Then, perhaps because of the relatively complicated bodice seaming – that you can barely see in camo (It is empire-lined, with waist darts and an upward-pointing V in the centre coming in between the bust,) I had to adjust the fit quite a lot when sewing it up.

Both the dress and I survived this distressing experience, and the main thing I had been worrying about – that it fit my hips and my short waist – proved to be no problem whatever. Yay! My upgrading and flat pattern fitting skillz are improving no end!

To be honest though, if I wanted a similar kind of silhouette and design line again I’d probably use the straight version of Simplicity 3673 without the belt.

It  looks like it’s already designed for a curvier, hourglassy figure. The flared version blogged about here worked so well on me, I’m pretty confident the straight one would work beautifully too.

  • Last word

As far as camo goes, this was thankfully a much more successful garment for me than the green camo skirt. I love this dress! Cute, fits my ‘petite hourglass’ figure well (yay!) and is nice and cool. This last is especially good considering Darwin is not having much in the way of actual cold weather this dry season. *scowls at the weather*

And many thanks to my friend for such a lovely birthday present 🙂

 

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