Thursday, 16 April 2015

SEWN: THE PHOENIX


And like a Phoenix, she has risen from the ashes.

Meet Miss Peplum (AKA The Phoenix). She needed to be shown a thing or two about elegance and appropriate behaviour by Miss Kitty.


I knew what I wanted in this top. I wanted a hi/lo, long-sleeved, swingy peplum top - similar to RDC's Marthe Blouse. But I'm not a huge fan of raglan sleeves on a woven top. Surely I could find a pattern to hack?

Enter Sato Watanabe's Basic Black Pattern A Lace Shirred Blouse (it's shown three pics down here). Go with me here. I know, I know, no shirring, no lace. But it had the basic shape I was after.

And that was about it.


That's where my trouble began. Actually no, it's not. This fabric is a beautiful printed 100% viscose I pounced upon at Pitt Trading*. It's the most gorgeous of fabrics, so incredibly light and drapey and wearing it is akin to how I imagine draping myself in butterfly wings would feel (that sounded kind of creepy and cruel... not what I intended... you know what I mean).

And my Janome wanted to swallow it down into the depths of the bobbin casing every time it got near my needle plate. I mean it really wanted to consume it and never let go. That does not bode well for beautiful French seams and silky loveliness.

So I brought out the big guns again. Miss Kitty (my 1950 Singer Featherweight 221K) did not fail. Straight stitch machines have one tiny little hole through the needle plate and anything being chewed up down there is highly unlikely. And straight stitches? Oh, my word.

Lets just say Miss Kitty sewed up this fabric like a dream.


I made some adjustments to the pattern.

I lengthened the bodice to 16.5 inches from shoulder to hem at front, curving down to gain an extra 1.5 inches at the back (the lo in hi/lo). I decided on a peplum length of 8 inches. I narrowed the sleeves to account for lack of shirring.

I was smart and toiled the bodice finding I didn't like its straight lines.

So I learned how to create a flared hem properly. Slash and spread baby. Toiled bodice number two looked the goods. Importantly, pay attention here, I did not attach the sleeves to toile 1 or 2. Da, da, daaaaaaaaaa (cue ominous noises).

I went ahead and sewed up my lovingly personalised peplum top, sleeves and all.


You'll notice a second adjustment to the pattern above if you look closely. A Broad Shoulder Adjustment. WTF?? Let's be clear. I am a classic pear shape and I have never in my life been accused of broad shoulderedness. Nup, not ever. And I was lulled into a false sense of Japanese pattern security based on my experience with an unaltered Traffic Stopper Dress. Mistake, big mistake (you seriously need to click on that last link).


Cue horrified face holding akin to Munch's The Scream. I truly did not think I had enough fabric left to recut and remake. I had to do some seriously crazy origami-like folding of my tiny piece of leftover fabric to recut the adjusted bodice and very cropped sleeves. You'll notice the cuffs (sleeve extenders)... they were cut from my first, slashed, bodice. The original sleeves weren't salvageable as I'd Frenched all the the seams.


Peeps, I am inordinately proud of this make. I worked my ass off to make it a success. All seams are Frenched except the peplum/bodice and cuff/sleeve seams. And check that final fit. First broad shoulder adjustment? BAM!


And I have a perfectly tailored peplum top pattern which I fully intend to make again. I mean seriously... after that much heartache and countless hours I'd bloody well want to.

I love this top, I really truly do.


*Thanks go to Pitt Trading who provided my choice of fabric free of charge for this project. Opinions are all my own.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

SEWN: SCUBA AND LEATHER CLUTCH



I truly feel like a bit of a designer. And let's make it clear I've never desired to be a designer. But perhaps our very creativity and individual preferences mean we are in some small part designer. A creator of our own very unique somewhat individual pieces. Did I just make myself sound completely obnoxious/wanky (Aussies at least will understand the "wanky" reference)? I think perhaps I did. Ah well.

What was it about creating this clutch that made me feel like a designer?

Number 1: I did not reference any existing bag or pattern in creating this piece (almost a first for me).

Laid out: figuring out how to attach leather inner to scuba outer
Number 2: I dreamt it up from scratch (even though I'm sure there is a similar bag or even tutorial/pattern out there). Every dimension, the weight, colour and combination of fabric and leather, every construction step.

Pegs: Super hi-tech stabilisers/fasteners
Number 3: I had to constantly make changes to the design and construction to suit the materials I had on hand and the incredibly frustrating mildly annoying problems I encountered.

Step by step: label to pocket, pocket to clutch backing
Number 4: I felt like my fearsome and fearless 15 year old self again. That felt pretty good.

Attaching outer to fully prepared inner
This little number came about when I picked up this stunning remnant of laser cut scuba knit from Pitt Trading.


And at 45cm x 150cm I really wasn't sure what to do with it. In an IG poll Nic suggested using it for the front panel of a pencil skirt and a matching clutch. The word clutch was all the inspiration I needed. I also had a hankering to undertake my first machine-stitched leather project after a few hand-stitched ones. And tada!


I had a small piece of very lightweight navy leather I knew would look great peeping out through the laser cuts. But the blue was simply too lightweight to hold the shape. Fully line the bag with a stiffer, thicker vegetable tanned leather?

Neither of my machines would take the heat of four layers of leather, throwing their hands up and shouting "Seriously?????".

But they would stitch through a layer of mid weight leather, two of lightweight and two of scuba. Final design decided. 

I let the fabric overhang the leather flap, with the selvedge creating a fuzzy little edging
And of course we all need a little pocket to hold the ID and credit cards so that we can get at the cocktails.

Scuba, lightweight navy leather and vegetable-tanned leather to lend structure
Whilst the result makes my heart sing, its creation wasn't terribly pretty with successes interspersed frequently occasionally with dummy spits and stomping of feet when things didn't go my way. Actually that's totally like a designer. Huzzah!



Thursday, 26 March 2015

SEWN: THE CAT'S PYJAMAS

 Meow


Really. Seriously. Like the best kind of secret cat's pyjamas.

Better still hubby thinks I look like a supermodel in this outfit. His words. I did ask for clarification because looking like a supermodel is not a personal goal for me...

I mean you look edgy, quirky, hot and super, super confident. You look exactly like you.

And he's got something there. Not necessarily the hot, edgy, quirky thing. But I can definitely see his point about finally being all me.

Oh my lord I have got a badonkadonk. I reckon I could almost balance a glass of champagne off that.
"I" have arrived friends. It's been a bit of a process, a process I didn't even realise was happening. But looking back I can see it culminating in the last year, or even in the last 6 months.

You see, inside me is a woman of bright colours and gregarious prints. A bit like my personality.


But until recently I hated the idea of being noticed. I'm a weird kind of extrovert. Hubby describes it as an introverted extrovert. I'm a full on motor mouth and overly enthusiastic person once I get to know you. A bit of an awkward watcher before.

Awkward watchers don't necessarily like to be noticed, at least not me. I'd rather fade in the background until I am ready to reveal myself.

I've not been a fan of drawing attention to myself. The difference now is not so much that I court attention, it's that I simply do not care if it is drawn. I dress for me, the real me, and try to stride with pride.

I am so in love with these pants I can't even tell you. Delicious, swishy, soft, buttery cotton double gauze. Super robust bonding of the two layers as the "crosses" are woven and incorporate both layers. And it's the best shade of indigo blue.

I used my culottes pattern and simply lengthened the hem by 15 inches (later to remove 4 inches), continuing the outward flare of the leg resulting in SUPER WIDE LEGGED PANTS.

Again, BAM, check that fit. Actually I think I may have lost weight as they feel vaguely roomy.

Where did those wrinkles come from?
And that sunshine yellow cotton drill? Hello deep hemmed, cropped top loveliness. Perhaps the 80's weren't all bad. The top is a cropped-by-6-inches Pattern R Sleeveless blouse with ruffles from Yoshiko Tsukiori's Stylish Dress Book: Clothing for everyday wear. Yep, I'm thinking based on the last 6 months that I am going to be continuing to sew from Japanese patterns for a long time to come. They fit me, without alteration.


Look at that swish potential. Swishy, swish, swish, swish.

Pyjamas, the best possible kind of outerwear.


And just because...