Thursday, 24 March 2016

SEWN: VINTAGE INDIGO-GO

Denim.


Indigo denim.


Is there any other kind? I think not, not in my world.

And then there is vintage. An even better kind of denim.


Gorgeous vintage stretch indigo blue denim. I was gifted this fabric along with a few other amazing pieces by a dear friend a few years ago and it has languished in the stash ever since. I'm thinking it's 20-30 years old, but admit to not knowing for sure.

And topstitched denim. Can it get any better?


Luscious coppery coloured topstitching thread.


Exposed facings.


Raw edges beginning to fray and show their perfect white weft threads.

Ginormous pockets!!


There's a lot to love...

You know when you have a vision? A vision of a dress that could quite possibly blow your mind, if only it worked. This is my vision and it has completely lived up to its expectations.


This is of course my now tried-and-true Pattern N Deep-Pocket Shift with Ruffle Trim from Yoshiko Tsukiori's Stylish Dress Book: Clothing for Everyday. This is my third iteration of this pattern and I decided there was only room for one of these shifts with epic ruffles in my wardrobe. I don't feel like wearing "costume" everyday of the week.

There's not a lot more to say about this one other than I hemmed it a little longer than my other versions, mainly because I sewed it specifically as a dress to be worn in all seasons, from summer right through winter with the addition of a long sleeved tee under or a cardigan and coat over. Add tights and boots and I'll be good and cozy to go.

But for now.... hello lingering Sydney summer...


Friday, 4 March 2016

SEWN: THE BOTANICAL TANK

There's not actually much to say about this tank. But there is a story to tell about how it came about.


First, the tank. You'll recognise the fabric and I'm so very happy I had just enough to eek out this top! It's another Grainline Studio Tiny Pocket Tank (sans pocket). I started with my small bust adjusted pattern from last time and made a few changes.


I raised the neckline by a further inch (my first version was raised by 2 inches) to bring it up a grand total of 3 inches!!! I know I'm not a huge fan of deep scoops (personally I don't find them altogether flattering for a small bony chest), but man that original neckline would be around my belly button. I'm so happy with where it sits now.


I also lowered the bust dart point a little when I noticed that my last adjustment left those darts points a little high. I think I should probably have moved the dart point back a teensy bit too, but meh, there is always next time.

Front armscye gaping
As an aside I found out the hard way that raising the neckline considerably also has the effect of making the upper bust area smaller. The ease, and the capacity for those straps to sit comfortably across the upper chest/shoulder, is partly due to the lack of fabric between them in a lower cut neckline. Raising the neckline 2 inches kept things fitting beautifully - raising it another inch has left that upper bust snug and the front armscye strains out away from the body. It's actually not obvious all the time, but grrrrrr. I'll have to sort out a fix for the next one. I do like this basic tank.


But why this top? Why now? Well a couple of weeks ago my closet rail literally, completely, collapsed. Let's be clear, I didn't have a ridiculously large amount of clothes and I know that rail was flimsy and about 35 years old (dodgy old wardrobe), but I felt like the universe was sending me a pretty clear message. I was being ninja'd - it was a ninja KonMari intervention!! Decluttering may not always be the most fun thing to do, but this collapse presented the perfect motivation.

I went nuts. Completely, decluttering nuts. I took a leaf out of Rachel's book. Rachel recently decluttered and estimates she got rid of about two thirds of her wardrobe using some pretty simple but incredibly effective criteria such as...
  • Was the piece worn in the most recent season?
  • Is there something just not quite right: the colour, fit, fabric, length?
Pretty simple, right? It all comes down to joy in some ways - does this item spark joy (a cornerstone of the KonMari method)? I was ruthless. I really did have a whole heap of RTW clothes in particular that never quite fit, were not the right fabric/colour, would not suit my current or future career and everyday life. There were even a few me-made items that did not make the cut. And I really was ok with that. Every last piece (unless it was actually worn out) was donated to a local charity shop. So it will hopefully go to a new home where it will be happily worn and spark joy in the new owner.

How incredibly liberating. I really paid attention in my decluttering and those decisions now inform my every clothing decision.

Like: I don't really like wearing knits. Which is totally weird as I happily wear a knit cotton (uniform) t-shirt to work everyday with lycra on the bottom half. In context that stuff is ok, but I would not wear it in my non-work life (Except when I'm training. Dammit this is really not going in my favour!).

I like wovens, plain and simple. I typically feel most comfortable in tops with a loose, swingy silhouette. For separates I like prints mixed with denim. My wardrobe was now comparatively bare of tops and I had to toss my ancient denim shorts as they were both ill-fitting and horribly worn out.

Hence, I made a woven, printed tank and I'm wearing it with a newly purchased pair of denim shorts.


Yep, RTW shorts. I have a love/hate relationships with shorts - they never fit me. And life is too short to undertake a me-made pair with all the inherent fitting woes for something I consider slouchy clothes. I bought this well-fitting pair with no regrets. They also cost a ridiculous amount of money. But I don't care because rather than several pairs of ill-fitting cheaper shorts making a home in my wardrobe that are grudgingly worn, I have this one perfect pair. Win! And one pair is all I need.


To wear with numerous lovely, me-made, swingy, woven summer tops.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

SEWN: CONCHETTA

Meet Conchetta.


Ah now, that's not quite true. That isn't Conchetta... this is!


Isn't she lovely?? No, just me? Come on, who doesn't adore a full metal beast from the 80's that purrs like a kitten and sews like a dream?

And this 80's lady is super special to me. You might recall we lost my father-in-law last October and he was quite the renaissance man. He learnt to sew as a young boy and went on to sew his own curtains, reupholster couches, you name it, as an adult. This was his machine and it has come home to me to be lovingly safe-guarded and most importantly, used. She was in awesome condition and with a little bit of lubing and cleaning she has proved herself to be quite the little machine.

This dress is the first project I've sewn with her.


Had you fooled for a second didn't I? You thought this wasn't yet another sack dress. But she is a sneaky sack, giving the illusion of some shape at the front, but being all sack business at the back.


I've been intrigued but this pattern since I got my hands on Aoi Koda's Pattern Lessons for Autumn and Winter Wear. Even though it is quiet clearly summer here in the southern hemisphere.


This dress is Lesson 3A.


You can see more detail in the picture from the book sewn up in a plain. But those who know me, know I haven't yet come to the party with a love of plains and so I chose to sew it up in this surprisingly delightful find at Lincraft. A vibrantly printed, mid to heavy weight rayon linen blend I scored in their 40% off sale at Xmas and purchased with a gift card. Win!


It attracted a lot of love from other sewists when I posted it on IG and I ended up going back for more for the lovely Sophie of Ada Spragg when she sweetly asked if I could do so. I mean how could I resist enabling a fellow sewist? In the end, a bit of detective work by Sophie and then myself, led us to see this very fabric made up in these fabulous trousers on Pinterest.

Photo source
No amount of additional sleuthing has helped me to find out the designer or label, so I apologise for that, but hell we don't need to know right? My creation is way better. Bwahahaha!

Don't you just love the design of the front?


You actually cut out a half circle on the front bodice, gather the lower curved edge and then align it with the straight upper edge of the half circle and sew them together. This is followed by creating a pleat to hide that seam and sewing it down. Clear as mud? Hmmm trust me on this. What results is that hi-lo hem and waterfall type front.

The design is drop shouldered as can be seen, and can also be made up with long sleeves. As a result the armhole is hugely gapey. Hugely. If you lift your arm at all unfortunate passersby can see right inside to the chest delights below. I knew this might be an issue and am wearing it with a white tank to preserve my modesty and spare the eyes of others.


According to the pattern, this is the dress length. The sleeveless version is actually designed as a tunic length. I sewed a straight size 7 including the prescribed dress length and whilst that resulted in a much longer hem at back than I would normally wear, the front, which gets hoiked up, could not be shorter or risk indecency.


The fit is just lovely. Since it's so oversized I chose to sew a size with a bust measurement slightly smaller than mine and I'm happy I did. You can see that it drapes nicely and looks "right".


I used a hook-and-eye closure rather than my usual button and loop and I really like the clean finish at the back neck.

The book is not translated from Japanese so some experience working with English translated Japanese pattern books would be useful, to help get a feel for the usual techniques. As I've noted before the diagrams and/or photographs of the construction steps in these books is very clear, especially to a visual learner like me. But just to be sure I used a photo translator app (Scanner&Translator for iPhone) which proved surprisingly accurate.


In the end I really like the dress. I've styled it very casually with flat me-made sandals, but it looks fantastic dressed up with heels and I can see it made up in a silk for a slinky night-time cocktail dress. I was off to a BBQ following this shoot and I was breezily comfy all day whilst still feeling rather stylish. It's a woohoo people, yet another woohoo!