Friday, 28 October 2016

SEWN: OPPORTUNE BLUES

I am definitely a summer person.


A cold-blooded (not like a murderer, as in reptilian. Actually... that sounds bad too. Gah!), warm weather yearner.


A person for whom cold weather is to be grouchily, and very ungracefully, tolerated, until the darling buds of spring deign to rear their pretty heads again.


Whilst my naturally white as the driven snow skin might trick you into believing otherwise, I am a lover of the sun (but always slathered in SPF50. Sun safety and all that).


As soon as Spring started to show its warm rosy little head in Sydney a month ago I started to obsessively scheme warm weather making. Are you motivated to make by specific seasons? My desire to sew is nowhere near as great in the colder months.

So how very opportune that I was walking past a local opp shop one day and just happened to stumble across the motherlode of all vintage frock pattern motherlodes??


And that's not all of them! All in my size! All of them!! From the era that makes my heart sing!! The angels sang and I snapped those babies up quicker than I could growl come anyway near me and this amazing basket of patterns and risk certain injury.

I adore Style patterns. No other pattern range draws me to their designs quite like Style patterns - at least those of the 70's. But, like most Big 4 patterns I have significant problems with ease and the need for copious adjustments (unlike my beloved Japanese patterns). I usually pick size 12 to try and hover somewhere between my bust and hips measurements which vary at least a size either side. But this bundle included some Size 10's. Including this one, my absolute favourite...



View 2. Oh view 2, how much I love thee. It could be the stripes. I didn't do stripes. Maybe next time.

With the loose skirt my hips could happily be accommodated. I did toile the bodice to make sure the fit wasn't too horrendous and lo and behold it fit pretty much perfectly!

Now fabric... can there be any doubt? I am a lover of indigo denim. A big fat sucker for indigo denim. If I could wear nothing else for the rest of my livelong days I'd be a pig in mud.

Happily I had a piece of mid-weight indigo denim in my stash purchased long ago for another make where I wrongly estimated yardage needs. Happy days!

I'm actually amazed and delighted that the fit is pretty much spot on sewn exactly as drafted. A definite first for me!

For next time (oh yes I'm fairly sure there will be a next time), however, I will move the dart point down a little as it definitely sits too high on my bust (didn't detect that at the toile stage). I think I have also hoiked the bodice higher than average as I don't like a deep V neck on me. Bony chest, so attractive.

With some judiciously placed topstitching I had just the right denim jeans type feel I was after. After polling IG I decided to sew the front straps down with blue thread (against all advice) as I didn't want to overdo the jeans look. I'm really happy with it as it's largely camouflaged and a clean finish.


I also had in my stash this amazing piece of crochet, also sourced years ago from an opp shop. As soon as I stumbled upon it again in a stash dive, I realised it was almost perfectly sized for a large patch pocket. And wow, how amazing it looked against the indigo denim.


The topstitching extended to straps and pockets. I even carefully topstitched down the denim of the crochet covered pocket as I'm not sure how long I'll keep the crochet on and wanted the option of taking it off.


I do notice that there is a very small amount of gaping at centre back. I have got a hook and eye above the zipper, but it's also likely that I needed to nip it in slightly at the side-seams. I just didn't want it to be too constrictive, but then you get that annoying slight gape, especially with crossed straps.



It's quite a different look for me. I am a lover of minis. But I was so inspired by the gorgeous midi-length frocks Lisa of Tessuti and Rachel of Boo Dogg and Me were churning out, I had to have one for my very own. And the length is awesome! I can bend down to deal with a small child and not flash my knickers! Win! Why didn't anyone tell me??

I also used my new-to-me Singer 201P (same as 201K) to sew this frock and that baby sewed through layers of denim like it was tissue paper. 

And because any blog post would be incomplete without posing yet again in my one and only photo location, here's a last shot. I wouldn't want you to think I was going to start getting all clever with finding new locations of anything.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

LEATHERWORKED: SPRING SLING

I bought the most marvelous leather hide over a year ago.


Burnished to a beautiful hue - neither gold, nor bronze, nor pewter or platinum.


But somehow a magical mix of all, straying to one hue or another in different lights and with various backgrounds.

Magical perfection.


And LARGE! So far I have made a clutch, sandals and this latest bag and I still have plenty left!

I had been dreaming of making a supersized tote out of this leather. I even stalked my neighbour's RTW tote, whose design lines and seaming intrigued me no end. I borrowed it and took photo after photo of all the details. But I just couldn't figure out how I'd achieve all the exposed seams and a similar pattern was not forthcoming.

And so my hide languished, occasionally brought out to be stroked and yearned over.

Then at the library last week, I stumbled across this book...


And lo and behold as I flicked through it's lovely projects, I saw this awesome sling bag...


And the decision was made. It's big, it's interesting, but still simple and stylish.


This make wasn't without swear words. Whilst the outside of this hide slides beautifully through the feed dogs of my Janome, the insides... oh my, the insides.


You see this beauty has a black heart. Literally. The backing of the hide has been dyed a very heavy black and the suede tends to flake off and get on everything. My Janome was not pleased or enamoured. Oh no, she spluttered and misstepped and basically told that leather to get the hell off her.

But I am nothing if not completely single-minded and bullish and I forced that baby through. I might want to consider a leather foot or walking foot for future leather projects, I know.


The topstitching was dicey to say the least. The bag is formed from four pieces, with the front and back composed of two pieces joined in the centre, with the handle cut on and seamed at the top. Those seams are sewn as normal with right sides together, then the seam allowances finger pressed open and topstitched down from the right side.


I used a size 16 leather needle and regular polyester thread to start, but realised the thread broke very easily which alarmed me (wasn't my regular Gutermann, let's just say that). So I switched to upholstery thread (which I used on my clutch) which I do think is great for leather sewn on a machine. It's strong and I think it's weight is more visually appealing on anything above garment weight leather when the stitching is exposed.


Side and bottom seams are not pressed open or topstitched.

Needless to say I am ecstatic with the result and see myself getting bucketloads of use out of this. It's truly a statement bag and since metallics are my neutrals it'll go with pretty much my entire wardrobe... especially those lace ups...


Stay tuned to see my next pair of leather sandals which are in progress. Just waiting for an awesome water-based (non-toxic, yippee!) glue to arrive.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

SEWN: THE IMPOSSIBLY PERFECT TOP

Sometimes a fabric just screams to be scooped up and taken home to be loved and stroked and perhaps even made into a garment that makes you squeal hell yes!


Special fabrics. Delightfully soft and spongy woolly fabrics.


In the most unusual and vibrant shade.


A golden shade. A shade of perfection.


In a boiled wool that surpasses all my previous experiences of boiled wool.


Even when said fabric is a small remnant 90cm x 150cm from Pitt Trading and you're in the habit of making voluminous tops of the trapeze/sack variety.

And that's where Japanese pattern books completely come to the rescue yet again.


This is Pattern S from a book with ISBN 978-4-579-11517-4 and my translator app tells me is titled The Form of Clothes. But I like Christy's interpretation after making up a piece. She made up the title Rectangles and Circles with Head Holes, which is kind of an accurate description!


As such it is untranslated, but after making up many many Japanese patterns before and based on the utter simplicity of construction it was a breeze to sew up. From tracing the pattern, to lengthening said pattern, to cutting and sewing - all up maybe 90 minutes max. That's partly due to the beauty of boiled wool which requires no edge finishing or hemming. Yeeha!


This is a very cropped over-top as drafted and since I am long bodied it would have hit at a weird place on my torso. The pattern calls for 90cm of fabric and my remnant when I measured it was closer to 1m. As a result I was able to add 5cm length to the top and I'm so pleased with the result. It's cropped, but not too cropped and in fact hits basically at the top of my jeans waistband when viewed from wearing height (all my photos are taken on a mound so the camera has to point up a little. It makes me look tall and my clothes short!).


The pattern calls for applying fusible stay tape to the neckline, lower hem edge and sleeve edges to stabilise those edges. I followed those directions except for the sleeve opening, as it would have been visible during wear. I also stabilised the entire length of the shoulder/sleeve top seam with the same fusible tape applied to the back seam allowance only.


The raw edges of the neckline, sleeve openings and hem are finished with a row of topstitching 1/8" in from the edge as directed by the instructions. This is to assist in ensuring fraying doesn't get out of control, which is not necessary with a boiled wool, but I figured it would stabilise those edges further.


My skin is normally quite sensitive to wool, but this fabric is so delightfully soft I can wear it directly against my skin. I am wearing a tank under the top in these shots, and in colder weather I'd add a long sleeved tee. I didn't pre-wash the fabric as... wool. It will have to be a dry clean only garment which I'm ok with as I will always have a layer underneath and wool is very good at repelling soiling. Famous last words??


I don't care, this top is such an impossibly perfect surprise I'm gonna kiss it and hug it and maybe even sleep with it. Yep, you read it here first!


And dang if it doesn't look fabulous paired with my new gold lace ups. It's a good day people, a good day.