Look at moi (but not too closely)…

I actually made jeans.

Yes jeans.

Okay, so they don’t have a real fly and the front pockets are fake…but I made jeans!

And, they fit…really well.

And I am never tucking tops in ever again, so I don’t care they have an elastic waist.

And the topstitching got better as I did more of it.

Did I say that they fit?

IMG_20180317_151116.jpg  Gosh that mirror is filthy 😦  IMG_20180317_150838.jpg    IMG_20180317_135439.jpg  My daughter commented that ,”They are very flat”; I told her that flat is good when you’re fat!!!

I am chuffed in case you hadn’t picked it.

They are the Blakley Jeans by StyleArc, bought as a pattern and fabric (the denim has 5% elastane) in a size 14. The only modifications were the removal of 5cm off the leg lengths and the faux fly front put onto the male side (like almost all jeans these days).

Oh happy days 🙂

A piece of cake it was not!

Well this piece of cake took forever to make, it was supposed to be my Christmas dress, but never made it to the day.

This is the Piece of Cake frock by Jody Pearl. It is called the Piece of Cake because it is supposed to be a very straightforward make and to be fair to Jody, the troubles I had making this dress were because the bodice is not suited to my body shape, but I was impressed with the photo img_2742 and went ahead without thinking. You can find out more about Jody here.

I am drawn to an empire waistline, I don’t like the feeling of constraint around my body, which is why an empire waistline is one I really like wearing. Unfortunately, this bodice has no provision for anyone with more than a B cup bust, nary a dart or shape is to be found and the length of the shoulder “strap” was just too long for this shorty 😦

I did do some fitting through the making of the first version, but thought I could deal with the bodice length problem afterward.

WRONG!

When I shortened the bodice, it brought the waist up too high and squashed my breasts to billyoh- I could hardly breathe! I became quite despondent and disgustedly put the dress into the too-hard basket.  There was another problem with it and that was the colour of the bodice. There are no pictures (they were quickly erased), but the bodice was a very pretty solid blue poplin, unfortunately it was just too much blue and I hated it.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, Christmas is over and I have 3 more weeks off work to fill, out comes the Piece of Cake. I started unpicking the bodice, but gave up and cut it off the skirt, I thought I might salvage it, but I think it is destined for the bin.

I thought I would try making a new bodice pattern, customised to me. I did a Connie Crawford workshop years ago on making a bodice “sloper”, but tbh it was a bit beyond me at the time. This time, I pulled out my trusty Threads fitting guide and attempted a full bust adjustment. I know many seamstresses do this as a matter of course, but it is a first for me (and it does stick in my craw because I had a breast reduction years ago!).

img_2741

So I took the dartless bodice and added side darts and waist pleats and it turned out pretty well, it also gave me a new bodice pattern to use for remaking this dress.

I had to shorten the bodice again, but without worrying about the end result as this white poplin was never going to be the final version. It did however give me a new colour for the bodice and I ended up making the final version in some white bengaline left over from my sage pants (bought from Spotlight last year), the skirt is made from a really nice stretch woven cotton from Knitwit in Nedlands. I did a sway back adjustment, added a waistband to compensate for the shorter length at the shoulder/neckline and raised the back to accommodate a bra band.

It is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it is okay and I will wear it. The inside is a mess which needs tidying up and there is a bit of topstitching to finish (not compulsory, but I do like a bit of topstitching!). Unfortunately, being sleeveless, it does accentuate my tuckshop-lady-arms (yet another point I failed to take into consideration when buying the pattern), but I am working on those and will probably end up looking like a weightlifter instead of someone with two huge, flaccid bags swinging from my shoulders. The waist darts look a little odd, but I can live with them, I stitched down the skirt pleats (you may have problems seeing them as the skirt fabric hides them), so as to not accentuate my tummy, but it is not the most flattering garment I have ever made.

 

img_2738  img_2740  img_2739

Forgive the unironed appearance, that will be remedied before it is worn outside the house!

Will I make it again? The jury is out, I may, but probably just the tunic version and in a lighter-weight fabric. I have learned a lot making this little dress and will not shy away from altering patterns to make them fit better in future although I do prefer clothing that is looser to wear.

A new toy and some pants

I recently made another pair of the StyleArc Sage pants in a white bengaline, lovely slim fit with a flat front (and I really need a flatter front 😉  ).

img_2472  img_2470  img_2471

 

Anyway, I used the Janome to make them and found it has a really nice overlock stitch which got me thinking…

I had a rush of blood to the head… I needed wanted a side cutter presser foot. The question I ask myself is why? Why, when I had given away my overlocker/serger a couple of years ago, it wasn’t a finish I was looking for on my garments (I didn’t want anything that made my clothing look like it had been commercially made) the conclusion is I guess I am my Mothers’ daughter after all (oh she of the multitude of kitchen gadgets).

Here it is in all it’s $15 glory  (free postage from Hong Kong)

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That little round knobby thing at the front is the cutter. Can I say it’s not perfect (hey, it’s a 2 thread overlocker which nobody would ever buy), but it serves a (limited) purpose, here are the first two attempts on a piece of calico- not too bad methinks

img_2491  img_2492

Unsurprisingly it has its limitations, they being mainly that it doesn’t cope with thicker fabrics or more than two layers of thinner fabric. I am currently making a dress for Christmas and the foot did not deal with a lot of the work so my opinion is, the foot is cute but a bit meh (unlike the pants)!

 

The head is getting bigger…

Sorry, still proud.

Over the weekend, I made this FullSizeRender Um, no, I didn’t make the whole thing, just the teal-coloured slipcover. 12 square metres of stiff cotton (covered in sizing because I thought it would be easier to control- wrong, just bent a whole heap of pins), tailored to fit my oversized three seater sofa.

It was relatively straightforward, draping, folding and pinning in stages, but incredibly bulky and difficult to manoeuvre in the space on my little Pfaff. I had to engage the machines IDT because occasionally the fabric just wouldn’t budge, there was just sooo much of it.

I topstitched all the seams FullSizeRender (3) and made the ties in the same fabric IMG_2441 now I need to make new cushion covers in a complementary shade as that red is just a bit too jarring 😦

You may ask why am I recovering a sofa? It’s simple really, back in the day when my (now ex) husband and I had more money than sense (and no children or dogs), we spent a ridiculous amount of money on a Parker lounge suite. It was late eighties peach coloured in the softest leather, truly a marvel of furniture-making and I am loathe to get rid of it. He got the chairs, I got the sofa. Sadly, the leather has deteriorated over time, helped along by dog toenails and the usual family high jinks, but it is still amazingly comfortable. Now I am on my own, I cannot afford to replace it with anything close to its quality, hence the cushion covers and slip cover.

I think one day, it may find itself in a share house with either of my young adult children taking it with them, only then will I replace it (and I will be a little sad to see it go), but for now, it is staying put.

One question, given I am into colour, what do you suggest for the cushions? All helpful hints will be considered 🙂

Update- thanks everyone for your help, I went with this very busy boho printed upholstery fabric, nice and thick and comfy- I love it!

image

Now all I need is a party!

As mentioned in a previous post, I recently bought a 1960’s Hostess Gown from a lovely vintage shop in Dunsborough, if you are ever down that way “do yourself a favour” and check it out (Oroton mesh bags, skirt suits a la Jackie Onassis etc etc, it’s a treasure trove!).

Anyway, this lovely dress caught my eye, the fabric colours are my two favourites. I don’t know the maker Noble Frocks of Sydney (last mention I found online was 1969), but I think they must have been a high-end manufacturer. The dress was very well made, with pattern-matching and tailoring techniques- it made unpicking the whole thing quite a chore, but oh, so worth it 🙂

dsc_0533.jpg  I didn’t even bother trying the dress on in the shop as it was very tiny around the waist (and those days are a distant memory for me) and the bust sat so high, I don’t think I was ever that pert!!!

The first step was to harvest some fabric from the lower hem, I took about 20cm as the dress was very long and I am not particularly tall. I added 5cm to both sides of each shoulder to drop the bust points to where I am and also to keep the balance at the back. Then I added another 5cm to both sides of the dress. Unfortunately the pattern matching had to go as what I had available just couldn’t be wangled that way. No matter though, the pattern is pretty busy and the areas I added the fabric are not glaringly obvious.

The sleeves were left open at the bottom edge. The fabric is synthetic and I wanted to have as much air flow around sweaty bits as possible. I had enough fabric left to close the sleeves with a seam, but decided against it, I may well change my mind in the future, but I am happy with the decision at the moment.

I finished the bottom with a finger-rolled narrow hem, to be honest, it’s a bit of a dogs breakfast, that chiffon just moves around so much when trying to cut accurately, methinks I will need to investigate Tear-Away… anyway, the hem is far enough away for it not to be an issue (really?).

Now all I need is a party to “hostess” !

I wonder if the original owner would recognise her dress now? It has gone from a long, elegant gown for a slim and pert 1960’s woman, to a shorter and slightly less elegant one for a slightly plump middle-aged woman.20160229_195433.jpg   20160229_194830.jpg

It is funny though, I am gradually coming around to liking this stage of my body’s evolution; it is a strong and capable one that has borne children and worked hard.  it is pretty fit and getting even fitter as I write; it is good 🙂

 

UPDATE: This may well be my last post for a while. Personal stuff is pretty overwhelming at the moment and I haven’t much energy for sewing or commentary; hopefully things will settle over the next few months and I can get back into this…

 

 

Another foray into bag-making

My previous attempts at bag-making have been of mixed success, my Mum’s art bag has worked well but lacked a good finish, my Japanese knot bag for my Brother’s wedding was really too cutesy and I’ve not used it since.

This time I needed a bag to match my outfit for my Daughter’s valedictory evening, I decided a clutch would suffice for the ‘phone, keys, a hankie (I have a feeling I will cry buckets) and spare lippy. So off to the interwebs to find a pattern!

I settled upon the http://www.patternpile.com/sewing-patterns/free-scrapbuster-clutch-bag-pdf-sewing-tutorial/ and went to work.

I confess I did not use stash fabric for the outside, I found this slubbed silk-look upholstery fabric at Spotlight and bought 30 cm of it for the princely sum of $2.10. The shop assistant thought it was silk, but it is actually viscose, cotton, poly mix; the colour is a dark grey which I thought would be a nice contrast to the pale grey of the dress I am wearing (and have yet to finish).

bag front

The most expensive things on the bag were the trim and the magnetic closure, it is lined with remnant Ikea sheet fabric and is stabilised with a heavy sew-in interfacing and a remnant of blue fleece for some padding. On the whole, I think it would have cost in total about $7 for materials, considering it’s luxe look and feel, I am thinking it was well worth it (especially as it was much more enjoyable to make than the weeding I had planned to do! bag inside

internal pocket It came together pretty straightforwardly (is that even a word?), the only alterations were that I made the bag slightly bigger and my strap is made of the main fabric and is long enough to be on my wrist and still be “clutched”.

My daughter’s comment was, “It’s wonky”, oooh grrr! It isn’t actually, it just needs a good press!

Long time no see..

It’s been a while I know. It’s not like I have been doing nothing, I just find the transitional seasons very tiring for some reason and Spring is always a big fat lie, the sun shines but it’s too cold to wear bright, light things. So brr, I have been in a bit of a fug.

I have done a bit of sewing in between work, household stuff, supporting two young people coming up to life- changing exams and a husband who has been in the depths of black dog despair. Malcolm Fraser is often quoted as saying, “Life wasn’t meant to be easy”, but sometimes I do wish it was a bit easier.

Of course, what do I have to whinge about, really? I am not a refugee stuck in a detention centre wondering my future, I am not a Syrian father whose family has drowned trying to get to a better life, I am just a 52 year old woman trying to get by the best way I know how.

Anyway, I went down south to be with my Mother for a weekend and while was there I made the Gorgeous Gore skirt by StyleArc. skirt 1    more info here This is my second and it is a joy to make up, using stretch woven makes it just so easy and the personalised sizing means no fitting issues. The fabric is a stretch woven and I think it may be either denim or a very heavy twill, I bought it from Knitwit in Nedlands, my son wants a pair of shorts in it (apparently flowery pants are big with male uni students this year).

As far as the make went, I did go a bit overboard …I wanted as much of an invisible hem as possible, so I did a tailor’s hem in colours co-ordinating with the pattern of the fabric  tailors hem . It was no small task and it took a long time, as the six gores make for a lot of hem! When I had finished, I looked closely and found a few stitches that showed, I was so disappointed but was thoroughly fed up with the handsewing so they have stayed skirt 3, three stitches .

My daughter’s Valedictory Celebration is coming up in November, fourteen years of education will close that night and then we wait to see if she gets her preferred option for university in 2016. It is a stressful time for her as she prepares for “Mocks”  (the exams which are preparation for tertiary entrance exams) and, although she seems to be coping quite well, she is reporting that emotions are running high at school amongst the Year 12 cohort. The Valedictory Night will be a lovely occasion and the brief is “dressy, casual”…eh what? WTH fits that description??? Also, the night starts off with a late afternoon church service, then carries on with a formal dinner, speeches and prize-giving…aaaaagh, what to wear?

So I chose and am nearly finished making up the Muse Patterns Gillian Dress http://sewingmuse.com/products/gillian-wrap-dress. I thought a wrap dress in a beautiful fabric will do the trick and I still think it will. There have been a couple of issues with it though; the fabric is a very light jersey (I thought it was cotton but it could be modal or bamboo judging about the fineness of it) and does cling in unwanted places, this means a petticoat on the night will be necessary. Also, I have some gaping at the rear neckline, so I am planning on sewing a strip of clear elastic to the neck hem to remedy this problem. It isn’t finished, but I emailed a pic to Kat (the designer) so here it is, let me know what you think?  gillian with issues  I am tossing up between pearls or silver as the jewellery… or should I go with something more bold in colour to offset the muted tone of the grey and white spot? Opinions will be much appreciated, but remember, it is my daughter’s night to shine, not mine, so nothing too loud!!!

Don’t look at the pocket!!!

I mean it, just don’t (or if you do, wipe it from your memory!). dressing gown

My son at the ripe old age of 21, has decided his dressing gown of the last 7 years is too small and he asked if I would make him a new one, I mean, how much leg does a young man really need to show?

The problem was, he wanted it long and the patterns for men’s “bathrobes” were all cut off just below the knee. I know I could have just bought one and lengthened it, but that was not part of the plan…instead I bought the Lekala (women’s) kimono pattern! Of course, I had to put in “my” measurements and I cannot imagine what sort of Amazon they thought they had as a customer! One with a height of 185cm and an almost straight up and down body, I reasoned that a kimono can be worn loosely and so measurements did not need to be accurate.

The fabric is a heavy poly fleece from Spotlight, 3 enormous metres of it. I don’t like synthetics and I especially don’t like cheap synthetics, this was $10/m and I think the price was about right- it feels horribly plastic to me and very different to some fleece I bought from Knitwit years ago that was more than twice that price. Still, it was what he wanted and he is happy with it.

Men’s sewing is boring. There, I said it.

Lots of very long, straight seams, there was no challenge and little enjoyment in this project. It all came together quite boringly straightforward, except that dear son is ill and refused to get out of his sickbed and try the thing on. Eventually I guesstimated arm length, body length and (unfortunately) pocket placement. The pattern had in-seam pockets, but men’s robes have patch pockets, so I thought I would do the gender-specific thing and go with a patch. It is ridiculously low (yeah, I knew you would look at it). My problem now, is that he won’t let me unpick it and put it in the right place 😦  He just doesn’t care enough about it, but I don’t want him telling anyone I made it either!

On the upside, the dressing gown is roomy, warm and soft, what more does it need to be?

The Lekala 5088 skirt, working with wool and a bit from Claire Schaeffer

So I made the skirt that Thornberry blogged about recently. 

I think Lara (Thornberry) and I have similar fitting issues; lack of height, lack of waist and a bit of a poddy tummy. I am not a fan of skirts for the very reason that my lack of waist means they ride up or slip down. For Lara to recommend a skirt pattern (and for it to be FREE!) was a great opportunity to deal with my skirt issues 🙂

It is Lekala 5088 and I just happened to have some lovely checked wool given to me by Mum’s cousin, all ready for the Monthly Stitch July Challenge. image4

image3 (evidence of poddy tummy with unfinished waistband)

The pattern looks very simple and it is, but as is my way, I made things a little more complicated for myself. Firstly, I wanted it completely lined. I have skin that is prone to itch, especially with wool right next to it, so not lining was not an option. I had some colour-matched poplin in my stash which worked perfectly. lining and hem

Secondly, I decided to finish it a la Claire Schaeffer’s book (Couture Sewing- Tailoring Techniques) which I purchased recently. Unfortunately, I had almost finished the skirt by the time I had bought the book, so this isn’t really a couture garment, more of a hybrid.

The wool frayed amazingly! I only had to look at it and it would shed threads, so all the edges had to be zig-zagged (I don’t overlock any more) prior to construction. On the plus-side though, it is very stable, there was no stretching anywhere and being yarn-dyed, meant that keeping to the grain was a piece of cake.

The construction was straightforward, I didn’t look at the directions as skirts are not rocket science. As far as Claire Schaeffer’s book goes, well I am very happy with the finish I used from the book, but I am also very glad that a DVD was included as the pictures are not that easy to follow… I used what she calls a Tailor’s Hem at the bottom, it is a hand stitched blind hem, a really nice finish. tailor's hem

I also pick-stitched the invisible zipper and am pretty happy with it. Invisible zippers are my nemesis, but I am getting better with each that I do, only hand sewn these days. skirt back The waistband has hooks and eyes, the button is purely decorative (but a nice touch methinks).

So here is my low-down:

Lekala pattern- easy and well-fitted at a great price 😉

Wool fabric- lovely to work with but prone to fraying

Claire Schaeffer’s book- a good resource that I will use to hone my finer sewing skills, thank goodness for the DVD!

All-round it is a winner!

Flogging a dead horse?

When do you call it quits on a favourite garment? Do you patch and refashion until there is little left of the original?

My son went on a school trip in Year 9 and spent 1500 Yen on a yukata from one of the hotels he stayed in. It is his preferred lounging around the house clothing (how appropriate!).

Seven years later it has been ripped and repaired on countless occasions and the last mending job I was a bit lazy and just used iron-on mender… unsurprisingly it didn’t last.

So, the dilemma was do I patch or does it get cut up for dusters?

Because it is sooo special to him, I decided to bring out the big guns and do a decent repair job this time.

right side darning darning:quilting

I initially started darning by hand, but gave up fairly quickly as the fabric was so fragile, you may be able to see the glue that was left after the iron-on mender fell off, it made the fabric very stiff and unyielding. Anyway, I decided to patch and darn…

This was my first attempt using my free-motion foot and I found it quite challenging, still it did the job and the end result is a very stable patch.

To cover the unsightly mess on the outside, I decided to go with a Japanese theme and so embroidered my son’s name in Katakana (alphabet). The attempt was to emulate the use of lettering in Japanese art, a bit like this…

 

251r53f (This lettering is Kanji alphabet and my son’s name doesn’t really translate, so Katakana was used) and this is what we ended up with

katakana Huw his name only has three letters (phew!).

So, here we are, the final result. Unfortunately, the navy fabric is a knit (pilfered from my stash), so there was a bit of stretching when it was sewn to the yukata, but he is pretty pleased and I am just glad it’s over. finished yukata

 

The plan is that he is going back to Japan at the end of his undergraduate degree, he plans to teach English for year meanwhile honing his Japanese language; after that who knows- the world is his oyster 🙂