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.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

LEATHERWORKED: I MADE SHOES!

I tried to come up with a witty project title, I really did. But seriously... I MADE SHOES!


Real shoes.


Out of leather.


That fit.


And look awesome.


These sandals were made up using the Silvers Sands Sandal pattern by Atelier Louise.


And they are good. Really good. As is the pattern and its accompanying instructions.


With a little patience, some clever leatherworking and a great deal of excitement you too can have your very own me-made pair of sandals.

You do need an array of tools that may not always be terribly cheap to invest in. It helps that I had the bulk of what I needed since myself and hubby have undertaken quite a few previous leather projects.

A small selection of the tools I used
The shoes are entirely glued, there is no stitching required. This is new to me as those previous projects have been sewn either by hand or machine. And let me tell you - get yourself a fume protection mask. Ask me how I know... being vaguely and unpleasantly stoned off the incredibly horrid and toxic glue fumes and with an awfully bad headache is not the way you want to end up. Trust me. I got me a mask after that first gluing incident. And it's my own fault - the pattern tells you clearly to WEAR A DAMN MASK, IDIOT!!! Or words to that effect.


You carefully craft slots to assigned parts of your insole and then feed previously cut and glued, butter soft self-lined straps through to form your top straps. I had to use pliers to pull mine through as it's hard to get a perfect fitting slot based on the thickness of your straps (the pattern calls for specific leather thicknesses, but I worked from my stash, I'm a renegade like that). The straps are then wrapped under the insole and glued to the underside. Tada! Like magic.


That's the best part: being able to try them on as you go and deciding exactly how tight you want those straps and the angle at which they should sit for comfort before gluing. So fabulous.

And you definitely need awesome friends like Jodie who insisted on being my outsole materials provider. In this case TOPY rubber soling. The pattern calls for a resin soling, but I was finding it seriously hard to get my hands on some and rubber is AOK with me (Peta Louise has let me know you can get resin soling from Leffler Leather in Melbourne) (and you need to check out Jodie's ridiculous shoe making. Ridiculously amazing!!)


The outsoling did present some problems. The side of the soling you stick to the underside of the insole is smooth. It stuck beautifully to my insoles. But, as you can see from the photo above, the outer side of the rubber soling is finished with little "knobs" that help to provide grip on the ground and are naturally very hardwearing.

But that heel piece you see above? It's not going to be staying put for very long. You have to stick the smooth side of the heel piece to the knobbly part of the outsole. Yeah, that doesn't create a great gluing result. Peta Louise has suggested I leave off the heel piece in this scenario, or try a belt sander to remove the knobs from the heel area to create a smooth gluing surface. I will definitely be trying one or the other of these options. As you can tell Peta Louise is incredibly responsive and helpful.

In terms of fit, I'm pretty happy. They are certainly comfy, that's for sure. I made a straight size 9 (I'm usually a size 8 AUS, but my foot measures size 9 according to the pattern) and you can probably see from the shot below that the forefoot might not be quite wide enough for my foot, with a little toe peeping over the edge on both feet.


This certainly can't be felt when I'm wearing them, but it would be an easy pattern adjustment to broaden that part of the sole. And I'm certainly considering another pair with that alteration in mind.


Oh! And be super careful with your gluing. I swear I took as much care as a first time mother with a newborn, yet I have an annoying array of little bits of glue residue on the outer of my straps. And no, I can't get it off. You only see it from up really close anyway. So if you stay up here, and my feet stay down there, I'm looking the goods.

I really wasn't sure what info you all would like so please do feel free to ask away in the comment section and I'll gladly get back you. But in the meantime I think it's best to finish with a further shot of adoration.  I know, I know, I've taken more shots than could ever be called reasonably necessary. But peeps... SHOES!!!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

SEWN: DAISIES FOR KAREL

This is a special dress.


A dress as a tribute. A tribute to my father-in-law, Karel, who passed away suddenly and tragically a few weeks ago. This is not a sad post. This dress was made to attend a celebration of his life.


Karel got such a kick out of my me-mades. Always drawing attention to my makes when we were out and about together.


Apart from being an exceptional musician, playing oboe and English horn for the Czech Nonet, the Czech Philharmonic, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and finally the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Karel was also fantastic with his hands, repairing instruments in retirement and always being handy with needle and thread.

Karel learnt to sew by assisting his mother in socialist Prague when he was young and appreciated and carried this skill throughout his life reupholstering couches and fashioning curtains and all manner of things.


Karel would have loved this dress and I wore it with happiness and sunshiny rays of warmth.

This is the Xerea Dress (view B) by Pauline Alice Patterns: a sleeveless tent dress. A dress of awesomeness. A pattern made specifically with me in mind.... obviously.

And even more special, it was gifted to me by Kirsty for my birthday back in August. Thank you, lovely Kirsty!


Such a fabulous trapeze: a shape I'm having quite the love affair with.

I made the size 36 at the bust and finally figured out how to grade out to a 38 at the hips. It was entirely unnecessary as it relates to fitting in my childbearing hips, but I'm always paranoid things will be too tight and anyway - trapeze! Big trapeze!

Oh and I did lengthen the dress by 1 inch to bring it to my standard preferred hem length (yep, I know exactly the length I like my hems and all my dresses are exactly the same).

It's made up in a super comfy heavy cotton (maybe drill/twill) with a touch of elastane (I think) from Pitt Trading. There was just enough left on the roll for this make.

It's hard to see in the shots above due to the ridiculous lighting conditions when I photographed the make (seriously I gotta shoot when I can shoot). But here is a shot of the top of the bodice...


I pressed the centre box pleat all the way to the hem and it has a lovely effect.

I'm  a little uncertain about the fit across the shoulders as you can see some excess fabric just above the bust near the armscye. Maybe I require a narrow shoulder adjustment (which is hilarious because...), or perhaps an SBA given the pattern is drafted for a B cup. Without any darts, however, I'm not sure how that's done. It doesn't bother me and I think we are sometimes a bit too pedantic in criticising our makes.


But I do think the armscye is the wrong shape for me. I reckon I can pinch out a dart in the rear armscye line as they do sit away from me.

And what a lovely back upper bodice... who doesn't love a v-back?


This is yet another woohoo! I really adore it. It's so comfy and the print is fabulous.


And now I need to go get a haircut. My curls are outta control!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

SEWN: NO-BOW MARIMEKKO

If I could surround myself with Marimekko for the rest of my life, I'd be pretty happy.


Marimekko embodies so much of what I love. Scandinavian design, a vintage sensibility, bright clear colours, and "look at me" prints that just scream happy!

What's not to love?


These bold large prints are perfect for loose fitting garments cut simply to allow the fabric to truly be the star. I particularly love a trapeze shape for this type of fabric and I knew from the moment it was purchased that I'd be making it up thus.


This print is Ajatus in Tärkein (in the white/red colourway) by Maija Louekari (2013). The Ajatus on tärkein ("it’s the thought that counts") pattern represents the different kinds of gifts that surround us during the Holidays. For the designer, the most important ones are moments spent together with friends and family. I didn't seek this information until after purchase and it's kind of cool since I bought this piece in Melbourne whilst on a long weekend break with the hubby for our 10th wedding anniversary.

It's a heavyweight, 100% cotton, with quite a stiff hand and no drape to speak of.


I pulled out my trusty and beloved Giant bow-tie tunic (Pattern A, Version 2) from Jinto Matsumoto's Feminine Wardrobe. I've made it before and I really believe there is at least one more in me. I adore the shape and the fit is perfection.


And check out that swing...


Seriously, the moment this thing even began to take shape I was squealing with joy. The capacity to make garments exactly as I dream them is such a precious gift.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

SEWN: THE ANNIVERSARY DRESS


Ten years.

In two weeks time I'll have been married to my sweetheart for 10 years.

I can't believe how quickly it's gone by.

And we've been together for something like 20 years. Hoo-wee!


This is my anniversary dress. An I really don't get out much dress. A me-and-he weekend away for only the second time in over 5 years kind of dress. A very special I want you to remember how beautiful I can be kind of dress.

And I feel very beautiful.


This is the Flutter Tunic from Papercut Patterns. I really wasn't completely sold on this for me. I'd flirted with the pattern, but it was only the advent of a Papercut Patterns birthday sale recently that pushed me over the edge. And I am glad.


When I originally picked this fabric, an Italian viscose/cotton delustered satin called On Parade, for my next Pitt Trading project* I actually thought I'd make a top. But the print is so glorious, and the fabric so special, I knew it had to be a simple elegant dress to really make the fabric queen.

I made a size XS from shoulder to waist, grading to an S at the hip and bottom hem. I did toile this first to ensure no major alterations were needed and was ecstatic to find it fit perfectly. Even the French darts finished at the exactly right point on my bust. That never happens for me without an SBA.


The pattern suggests binding the neckline (and the pattern pictures show the sleeve hems bound as well) with self-fabric or contrasting binding that can be seen from the outside. I'm not a fan of exposed bias binding for me, so I used a silvery grey satin acetate bias binding as a facing on the neckline, hand blind-stitched down on the inside.

I couldn't make self-fabric bias as this fabric frayed like a maniac. Seriously, it came undone faster than a business executive at a yoga retreat. The fraying sent me into a mad panic that nearly required me packing myself off to said yoga retreat.


I was forced to serge the raw edges of most of the cut fabric pieces and sew the rest like a business executive needing a trip to a yoga retreat to get it constructed before the fraying ate my (very miserly) 1cm seam allowances. Weirdly I noticed it frayed on the cut crossgrain edges, but barely at all on the cut grainline edges. So my neckline, sleeve head and hem, and dress hem were at serious risk of being eaten up. I added one inch to the length at the lengthen line on the pattern, which makes it the exact finished length of all my me-made sack like dresses. When you're onto a good thing...

I also hand blind-stitched the sleeve and skirt hems as I really didn't want any visible topstitching to mar the perfection of this print.

In the end I'm really liking the oddly curved and dropped shoulder, the fluttery sleeves and the cheeky hi-lo hem. And how well it pairs with my me-made bronze leather clutch.


And with that, I'm off to knock my husband's socks off.

*Thanks go to Pitt Trading who provided my choice of fabric free of charge for this project in exchange for images of my completed make for their use. Opinions are all my own.