Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas gift - pink dress

Today I made this dress for the 1 1/2 y.o. daughter of some friends. Originally I put a deep hem in, but when I measured it, I realised the dress would be floor length - not really practical for a toddler. So I turned up the hem a second time. I hope that next summer her mum can let down the second hem, revelaing the froggies on the bottom of the dress. The out of focus photo at the bottom is a length of uncut fabric, taken before I cut it up for the straps. The gingham is in the first deep hem.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Re-fashions in green


These were both quick and easy refashions. The green knit top was not flattering, and not worth sending to an op-shop. Instead, I put it on over a favourite singlet top and traced the neckline of the singlet top onto the front of the knit. Then it was simply a matter of cutting off the neck, evening up the new neckline, and doing a roll-hem by hand. All up it probably took about 1 – 1 ½ hours (I’m a slow stitcher).

The sleeve of the woven shirt tore and was irreparable. Not wanting to toss it out, and knowing its only a matter of time until a similar tear appears in the body, I took off the sleeves and the collar, stitched the collar edges together, and finished the arm holes with bias binding. This was one of the first projects to come from the new machine, and with the 30+ days we had in Nov, I was very glad of it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

These are a few of my favourite things

About half-an-eon ago Villana asked me to post about some of my favourite sewing blogs. So here they are:
This is the one the probably started it all. I think I found it via mrsbrown’s f’list, but it may have been that someone else pointed it out to me (if it was you please do let me know, I like to give credit where its due.)
I think the next few came from Google reader’s recommendations.
I think I found this one via google reader, its one of the most recent additions to my reading list, and it has inspired me to look at my wardrobe off-casts in a whole new light. I think I will take up the pledge for 2 months.
I really enjoy Miss Celie’s writing style. I enjoy the way she talks about selecting fabrics, patterns and notions, her thoughts about pattern alterations, and the way she rocks her finished garments. I think this is where I first read about Burda magazine (formerly Burda World of Fasion or BWOF) and
I love reading Carolyn’s blog. She has such a joie de vivre and a joie de sewing! Sewing is Carolyn’s one and only hobby, and her blog is full of tips and tricks, great ideas in inspiration. I love watching a garment develop from an idea – often inspired by catwalk fashion – to wearing it out in the world. She is happy to answer questions, is very encouraging of less-advanced sewers, does a weekly New Sewists post, and generally makes me feel really good about where I am at in my sewing journey – I want to be like Carolyn when I grow up!
Reading Celie’s and Carolyn’s blogs have also alerted me other sewing/fashion blogs, some of which I have enjoyed, others I have passed by after a few entries. Here are some examples that (I think) came from these ladies’ recommendations: (I don’t think she sews, but she makes jewellery) (check out her “Don’t Showcha your Chocha” entries. They will change the way you view the world, I promise) (Lindsay and I have completely different aesthetic, life stages and experiences. Some days I scroll right over her posts, other days I am intrigued by what’s going on in her world.)
I’m not sure how I found Dawn’s blog, but I enjoy her writing. She lives in Alaska, has 3 kids (twin girls and a son), works as a teacher, runs something like 5 miles a day, and yet find time to sew more garments in a week than I finish in a month. She has been sewing for a relatively short time, sews from Burda quite often, and is at the level I;d like to reach in the next year or so. Her “courageous” sewing, i.e. experimenting with her sewing, is inspirational.
This is my friend A. Although we’ve lost touch over the last year or so, both busy with our respective lives, I enjoy seeing what she’s been up to, and what she is producing in her sewing/craft room.

I hope that you enjoy reading some of my favourite blogs. Please feel free to comment leaving links to any of your must-read sewing/fashion blogs that you’d like to share.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Going about sewing the wrong way?

As I came back to the office from my coffee run today I was struck by the notion hat I am going about my sewing preparation backwards. Inspired by Caroline of diaryofasewingfanatic, I have for some months been intending to use my week nights to prepare fabrics, patterns and so forth, so that on the weekends I can sit down and sew (or perhaps more accurately, construct). The problem has been that I often can’t be bothered with the ironing board, fold-out dining table, patterns and fabric on a weeknight, so inevitably I fall behind on my sewing plans.

This week I have been working on construction of SammyHubby’s robe for Armageddon. I am finding it quite easy to come home, have dinner, then sit at the machine for an hour to get a few seams done than I find it to start on project preparations. The added bonus being when its time to stop, I can just get up form the machine, throw the dust cover over everything and walk away, whereas if I am cutting, ironing etc, I feel I need to tidy up and put away at the end of the evening, especially if I have been working in the lounge room rather than the sewing room.

So perhaps I will try doing things the other way around – prepare for projects on weekends when I can dedicate several hours to it at once, then sew in fits and starts on weeknights.

Monday, May 04, 2009

BWOF & PatternReview

I have recently discovered Burda World of Fashion Magazine (BWOF) thanks to some sewing blogs I have been following – which I have also added to my blogroll here, in case you are interested in who has been inspiring me.
I have just joined, mainly because I wanted to read the 3 reviews of the pattern I am about to tackle: BWOF Aug 2008 Jacket #119A. Turns out you have to be a member to read reviews older than 6 mths old. So my username over there is Bellestar. Not sure if I’ll be active and posting or if I’ll just use it as an info resource. I may sew along with some of the competitions; whether I actually enter them is yet to be determined.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wardrobe in Progress: Merovingian - coat

I have almost finished the reconstruction of the brown wool/silk blend coat – or as I affectionately call it, Mervin. I removed the collar, pulled it apart at the side seams, took 15 cm off each side of the body panel, raised the gores to start in the underarm, added extra length and width to the gores, put it all back together and reattached the collar. All that remains now is to hem it.
In spite of the initial frustration of trying to get it figures out and the disappointment that many people looked at the first version and declared it unattractive or, worse yet, inaccurate, I am very proud of my work on this project, and with the finished product. Firstly, I took the research and had a go. I still stand by my initial interpretation of the construction. If I had made it up in a very light silk, as was the extant garment, I believe my original garment proportions would have been appropriate. However, I listened to and took on board people’s comments and observations, and decided to rework the garment, necessarily reinterpreting the research, to make it more practical, and more appealing to the modern aesthetic.
I showed the coat to (Mistress) Margie last night and we had a good chat about the difficulties of reproducing garments from early eras when there is so little surviving extant evidence. We also discussed the fact that, as modern people, we view things through our own filter, and make assumptions about how garments were made or looked in the period, based on our own aesthetic bias. Perhaps big, sack-like coats were how it was done, we will probably never know.
In any event, I will be warm, comfortable and dry at Festival in my woollen coat, although I worry a little about rain on the silk collar. On the other hand, the collar is easily detached and replaced, so I will try not to fret too much.

Still on the ‘to do’ list:
Re-hem the red tunic, taking about 10 – 15 cm off the length
Finish green linen tunic
Make 1 – 2 more pair of hose
Make red coat (maybe. I hope I get time, but it’s not essential)
Make 2 more under tunics, hem and alter current under tunic.
Buy 2nd pair of shoes – I wore my leather shoes with my hose last night. Not only were they comfy, but they also attracted compliments, so I will definitely buy a 2nd pair - Perhaps a red pair? Or black?
Have belt made to fit new buckle fittings from FC Pewter.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Birthday Dress – the beginning

I really wanted a new dress to wear for my birthday outing at the end of the month. I don’t need a new dress - I have plenty of lovely things to wear, but I wanted one. I had thought of going to Fashion Incubator and splashing out on a designer dress (, but I also want to save my pennies for my trip to Festival at Easter.

The other day I was running through my stash in my head, thinking about another project I suspect, when I remembered the purple crepe I bought earlier in the year. I had planned to make a Golden Age Cat Woman dress for a fancy dress party (, then realised the party clashed with a mate’s gig at the Espy. Since we was driving overnight from Wollongong to do the gig, the least we could do was attend – so the dress was never made.

With less than 3 weeks until my birthday, rather than trying a new pattern, I have decided to make a new version of a dress I made several years ago: Simplicity 9258. I chose the pattern size based on measurements Villana took of me in January – does anyone else find they take bigger sizes in patterns than in off-the-rack clothing? Perhaps it’s because the patterns are not Australian.

Last weekend I cut out all the pieces. I have realised that, for me, I need to break sewing from a commercial pattern down into small steps. First, I cut out the patterns pieces, then I leave it until the next day/weekend to construct – otherwise I suffer delusions of grandeur about the speed with which I sew, and get upset when the piece isn’t finished in a day.

Today, I constructed the bodice section. I am taking my time, reading the instructions carefully and following them precisely, not cutting corners or rushing. And as a result, I am not only enjoying the process, I am really happy with the results (so far). It means I haven’t finished my dress in a day, but I think I will end up with something of which I can be really proud.

So I am not a fast seamstress – I can live with that, as long as I look good doing it.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Tim Gunn Challenge (1)

In his make-over show, Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style, Tim Gunn asks his subjects to select ten items from their closet that they cannot live without, and explain why they selected each item. These items, says our stylist, should be ‘soul stirring’. Inevitably the subject chooses practical, comfortable, “safe” garments that have been in high rotation in their wardrobe. Rarely are the items classic, inspirational or irreplaceable – and rarely do they meet with the approval of Tim and his co-host Greta.

In the interests of investigative fashion reporting, I have decided to share with you some of the garments I cannot live without. For the purpose of this challenge, I define item as a garment of outer wear, excluding underwear, hosiery, shoes or accessories.

1. Black tulip skirt from Camden Markets, England – so called because of the embroidered tulips, not because of its shape. I love the drop waist with full skirt, which I think is flattering as well as comfortable; the flowers are beautifully done and the red border gives the piece interest and contrast; it moves well when I walk; it is appropriate for a variety of situations and weather conditions.

2. Brown vintage wool coat – well to start with it’s not black! Again, the shape is beautiful and flattering; the black velvet ribbon detail is elegant and glamorous; it works with pants or skirts; it’s practical for winter without being dull, bulky or ugly.

3. Light tan cotton coat from Cotton On – again I like the shape; it’s comfortable; the button detail adds interest; it goes with pants and skirts; it’s a good weight for trans-seasonal wear.

4. Green vintage coat – again, shape is a big factor; the fabric and collar details are interesting and I love the colour; it’s another trans-seasonal piece; it’s a one-off (in fact I think it’s a bespoke garment); and I have altered it for fit and flattery, so it is now bespoke to me.

5. Jeans from Sara

6. Brown Ojay wrap dress – although this is getting on a bit, it’s still one of my go to garments; it can be worn alone or over pants, with boots, sandals or heels, and works for a variety of occasions and weather conditions; the shape and fit I think are flattering; the colours are good for me (I think), and the pattern is interesting.

As you can see, there are only 6 items on my list. I had listed more garments, but upon contemplation, realised they are not soul stirring, merely comforting and comfortable.
So, over to you – what 10 items can’t you live without? Do you have 10 in your wardrobe that are soul stirring? Can you limit it to only 10? Leave a comment here letting me know you’ve taken up the challenge including a link to your own Tim Gunn challenge results.

Yours in fashion,