Wednesday, 3 February 2016

SEWN: THE HOMAGE

The homage. A dress worthy of Melbourne Frocktails.


I actually decided soon after Frocktails tickets were released and I snaffled mine up that I wouldn't be making a new dress for the occasion. I adore my Anniversary Dress and really wanted to wear it again, plus the timing of the event (the second week of Jan) was awkwardly wedged amongst the Xmas/New Year period and a family holiday. I really didn't think it'd be a great time to undertake something complicated.


Then I must have forgotten that... possibly because I started obsessing all things trapeze and stumbled across this dress from Alexander McQueen. Oh yes, that is quite the perfect trapeze.

I was a goner!

I also figured I wouldn't need to purchase a new pattern as I had made a few trapeze tunics from Feminine Wardrobe by Jinko Matsumoto. It just so happens that this pattern can be made into dress length as well. Oh and I'd been given a gift voucher for Lincraft and whilst I held little hope of finding the right fabric there, lo and behold, there it was! A luminous bronze-y, silvery and purple brocade. We all know my love of brocade...


It may not be clear from the shots above and my busy fabric but the pattern (for the bodice at least) is a six panel trapeze. At first I really wanted to try to do away with the "princess" seams, but that meant dart manipulation and all sorts of try and toile and try again. I just didn't have time!

So I kept the original Mcqueen design of a dress with attached bodice and skirt, kept the panels in the bodice and did away with them in the skirt.


I really wanted to encourage a bit of a kooky exaggerated trapeze shape and after a little discussion with my girl Susan we agreed that interfacing the skirt panel with a moderately stiff, sew-in interfacing would be the way to go. And it totally worked!

It does however drape a bit more than I intended because of those princess seams in the bodice. They really do encourage collapsing into the seams.


That means it also has a less-than-seamless trapeze look. But I really do love it.

And I blame that cheeky short hemline on Anna who encouraged me to shorten another inch. Oh and also it looks uber short because all my blog shots are taken with the camera slightly below me as there is an incline up into the trees. I'm really not a terrible floozy! Or terribly tall as many at Frocktails asked me when we first met... "why aren't you taller?" Ummmmm, sorry?

And then came the heartbreak. This fabric was a disaster. These shots are actually taken after the event (weeks in fact) partly because I had no time before. And immediately after... well I was in mourning.


The dress is destroyed. I know you can't see it here, but the vertical seams of the bodice are tearing apart. It's the weirdest thing I've ever seen. The seam allowances, which were all serged, are fine. The fraying and tearing is coming from the seam line itself and literally spreading. It's at its worst across the broadest part of my back and clearly the dress isn't too small in that area. Before you offer advice and love, no, it can't be saved. It really, really can't.

It's just a shimmery temptress of darkness and I want to cut it into a thousand little pieces and stomp on it. Yep, I really do. Damn you, you seemingly beautiful brocade, it will be a while before I attempt you again.

But before I do, here's a little sass.


Sunday, 20 December 2015

SEWN: STOCKHOLM ANNIE

I swear this doesn't really look like a nightgown IRL. Not selling it? It's true!


I haven't worn a maxi skirt or dress in years and never really felt they were me. I find many maxi dresses swamp me in the most unflattering way. And maxi skirts are a trip hazard. Truly they are.


But then Tessuti released their Annie Dress pattern and rather than meh (my normal response to maxi anything) I thought hells yeah, bring that to the top of the queue. I knew straight away what fabric I would use. This fabulous linen (blend?) Funkis Stockholm Cityscape fabric I picked up recently from Pitt Trading. Funkis as in the clog people. The fabric was designed by Josefine Brodd and used in their SS2014 for a short-sleeved shift dress.

I think this fabric may be a blend as it has some sheeny fibres I don't normally associate with a straight linen, but it can take ironing on a high heat and creases like crazy (hello linen) so maybe not.


I really love the cutaway armholes, in fact it may have been what swayed me to the design. But let's be clear. I tried this on with every bra in my arsenal and there is no way that a bra with straps can be worn. Not even those ones that have a clip at the back to create a "racer back". From the front you could always see the straps where the dress bodice meets the dress straps and at the back the racer/cross over straps were certainly not compatible. In fact with any bra I tried it also made the front dress bodice sit weirdly and unattractively.


So what am I wearing? Chicken fillets, my friends, chicken fillets. These types of stick on bra cup thingies are actually available fairly widely and inexpensively. I have had mine for an age and they are still going strong. I'm sure you could try a traditional strapless bra, but I for one can't keep them up and I hate readjusting all day.

I also really like the maxi midi length. It's not floor grazing and therefore more practical in my mind, but you can still get away without shaving your legs. Win!


My bust measurement put me between the XXS and XS. I decided to toile a size XXS, but it just seemed a little snug across the bust and back. I let out the seams a little but it still didn't look right. So this is an XS. I did toile the bodice again, but it's super hard to work out how the bodice will sit without adding the weight of the skirt and quite frankly that's no longer a toile - it's a wearable muslin and huge fabric suck.

So after completely lining the bodice and attaching the skirt I realised that this size is a little gapey around the armscye. I ended up sewing a dart starting at 1cm in from the side seam line and finished the point at the attachment point of skirt. It's a dirty fix, but it works and no one sees the insides right? That means I actually removed 4cm from the bust. Maybe the XXS was the right size. Sigh...


It's another woohoo make for me! And thank goodness I made sandals as they are the only shoes in my wordrobe that work with this very different silhouette for me.

Right, I'm going to rip off these bra cups, stick on my ridiculously awesome me-made bikini and hit the pool. And I'll be completely me-made. Eep!!

Thursday, 10 December 2015

SEWN: MY MOROCCAN

I feel that, creatively, 2015 has been my year.


I've made a blazer, a coat, perfectly fitting pants, a few special dresses, technical tights, and holy crap I made shoes!

What a year!

I feel like I completely came into my own. I figured out what works for me and my style and I completely nailed it. I made clothing I normally wouldn't have touched with a barge pole, because it was just too "complicated". I partially conquered my fear of knits. For goodness' sake I made shoes! I'm the happiest crafter I could be.

Then this...


Half naked me on the interwebs. You guys better appreciate this.

This is my latest conquering fears project - Lily Sage & Co's Splash Swimsuit bikini made up in the most divine Moroccan style print lycra ever. Yet another perfect swimwear lycra find at Pitt Trading. And a little internet digging revealed that it was used in Zimmermann's swimwear collection of Summer 2014. This fabric is truly delicious, behaving itself so well with a plush and buttery feel.


I have been obsessed with Debbie's Splash Swimsuit pattern for some time. I adore the one piece version and literally daydream of wearing a one piece swimsuit, but alas they just don't feel right on me. I blame my proportionally long torso. But Debbie... Debbie rocks that one piece completely. Me, though? I'm a bikini kind of girl. And that's the beauty of this pattern - you can have it either way.


I'm a particular fan of the Splash Swimsuit bottom's high-waist and comparatively low leg line. I don't like to be constantly yanking bikini bottoms down or around to cover my butt and so high-legged bottoms are the bane of my existence. I've been a convert to the 50's style bikini pants for some time and have a few RTW bikinis in this style.

Check out that inadvertent pattern matching going on at the side seams.
Be aware, however, that these are seriously high-waisted. I ended up lowering the rise of my bottoms by 1 inch all around (simply cutting it off the top) and I'd consider lowering it a bit more in my next pair (oh yes, I will). It's simply a matter of personally preferring a slightly lower waist.

Weirdly, however, it feels and looks as though the back is way higher than the front. I feel like I could remove another half inch from the back rise only and it would even it up. This may have to do with the way I graded them though. I had to grade up 2 sizes from waist to hip and it may have messed with the proportions a bit.

Let's be clear too that these are not perfect. They are actually the second pair of bottoms I made after the first turned out a little too big and I stupidly thought that the leg elastic would pull in the leg holes. Did I think I was wearing bloomers? Ah well, it's my first time making swimwear and I didn't realise that the whole pant, including the legs, needs to be firm before adding elastic - the elastic essentially just holds it in place. Major thanks to both Debbie and Susan for giving me so much assistance in getting this right and putting up with my hysterical ravings... never mind. I actually think I could size down again all over for the bottoms next time as they are a bit less snug/secure than I'd like.


Lets talk about bikini tops. I'm clearly less than gifted in the chest department and even more so post-breastfeeding. I usually wear a bikini top that is styled like a bra with underwire and foam cups. It just makes me feel more comfy and less likely to be inadvertently bared by a flailing 5yr old (Miss M) in the surf. This bikini top has a halter strap and two back straps and let me tell you it's going no where. I feel completely snug and secure.

I was very hesitant about the style as is, however, because it affords no extra oomph. I'm quite sensitive about oomph. So I made me some oomph. I added in foam bra cups labelled as "push up". but let's be honest - you'd need something to push up. I just like that it gives me a little more oomph. Any oomph.


I essentially made this bit up after googling how to add bra cups, mashing together a few techniques and just getting the hell on with it. Susan very cleverly suggested sandwiching the cups between the outer and a second lining layer and I love the smooth looking result.


In the end I'm pretty damn chuffed. I made a bikini! One that I can wear! In a fabric I adore! Woohoo!!

And now me and my darling hubby photographer are gonna run like crazy from the hoard of mosquitoes that just descended upon us. I see calamine lotion in our near future.