Sunday, October 27, 2013

Getting There...

Oh, semesters. How they impinge on the creative process. I've done very little sewing for the past month. Mostly just assignments. And following sewing blogs.

Yet, somehow I've managed to stumble across a new source of patterns and I wonder if anyone has tried Style Arc patterns (assuming anyone ever looks at this blog apart from me). If nothing else, there's a fantastic jumpsuit pattern on there, and a pretty neat Tuxedo Jacket pattern (although, I have one in a Burda magazine that I want to try out first).

Right. Until after November 18th, sew well, sew happy. xo

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hanging On By A Thread

Good Morning!

Uni started back a few days before my last post, and somehow nearly two months have flown past in a whirl of study balance with work and spring-time illness. I haven't given up on sewing though.

All the blogs that I love to sew lean heavily towards making dresses (particularly Dolly Clackett's. Oh, howI love her creations. And Oh! The shoe envy!!). But I have a wardrobe full of dresses that are too lovely to part with but that I rarely wear. I'm really a pants wearing kinda gal. So my latest project is working towards making some Giant Bug Kwiksew Dungarees...which we call Overalls in Australia...out of some duck cloth that I found in Spotlight the other day. It has GIANT BUGS all over it. They are brilliant and awesome. However I am doing a practice run on some cheap, garish blue plaid suiting that I picked up for a few dollars a metre for just these kind of things. It's the kind of fabric that screams Private School Uniform, although at time of purchase I had an image of Dr Who floating around in my head. I don't know why!

There are no photos to share of the Giant Bugs at this moment, but I'll add them in later. I'm trying to be a good girl and not spend money on fabric (that I don't have time to sew) while I have an ever-growing stack of bills on the fridge. September seems to have been designated Annual Bill Overload Month.

I can however update on two earlier planned projects:

Project 1: The Practice Dress is currently still a disaster. I need to completely unpick it and then recut it. Or turf it altogether (which would be a shame, given the fabric is so lovely). Although I've gained a bunch of weight in the past few weeks, so maybe the looseness is not so loose anymore. Sigh. I've never loved unpicking things.

Project 2: The Perfectly Pleated Manequim Blouse is stalled due to a wee translational issue. That being that I missed the point that the pattern is about 3 sizes smaller than will fit me. The result of a cross between my blind enthusiasm and lack of attention when reading pattern sizings in Brazilian.
So I need the time to make serious adjustments, and more butter paper. Curious Kiwi pointed me towards Jackson's in Fremantle for Butter Paper which is brilliant for tracing patterns, but I ran out after tracing off my Elisalex pattern. So I'm contemplating buying an industrial length roll of tracing paper and installing it into one of my bookshelves on a little curtain rod.

Alright. I just wanted to do a quick update for the whole month of September (slim as those pickings may be). I'm desperately keen to make a Robson Coat after seeing Curious Kiwi's purple model, but I'm hanging out for Spotlight to have one of their ridiculous sales on Vogue patterns to see if I can get my hands on V8884 for a fraction of the price instead. I'll probably fold and get a Cambie and a Robson in one hit, but the logic saves my bank account for a bit.

In the mean time, Happy Sewing!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Completed: Elisalex #'s 1 & 2

Well. I've been on a bit of a procrastinatory bent sewing purge this week. My impulse purchase made it from bolt to machine in record time, AND I busted my stash for one of my planned Elisalexes. I LOVE THIS PATTERN. No wonder everyone's been making 500 versions of it. The fit is immaculate, and even if I'm a shitty photographer and look like a total looming squint-machine, I feel fabulous in them. I also think I look pretty good in the mirror. If only I was like Garbo, and transformed into a magically gorgeous being before the camera lens, but alas, it is not so.


Goldilex is the result of giving into the shiny pretty fabric buying impulse last week. Turns out that metallic fabric is almost as difficult to sew as slippery silk! Because of the way the little hearts were woven in, I turned the pattern 90˚ and cut across the grain, so that the hearts would sit upright and flow around the body. Matching up the little lines is not one of my strongest suites, but I think I did ok.

And look - Cowboy print pockets!

I apologise for my terrible photography. But I do love the shiny, pretty! Partly because it is (a) shiny and pretty, and partly because anything (a) makes me think of (b) a Jimmy Neutron episode where Jimmy's brains get totally fried and he says "Shiny. Me like shiny." And besides that, I feel like the femme fatale from a Bond movie (and I always did think they had the most fun of anyone, death be damned).

The bodice fit was beautiful, and easy as to achieve. Hemming the skirt was less so; but damn it was long! Not a problem I often encounter (in all my 6'2"ness). This particular fabric frays like hell, so I having carefully lined the skirt up with the selvage I was want to trim it up to reach the desired length. In the end, I kind of rolled it, and stitched it in place every two inches, which preserves the gold-foil effect somewhat. I'll probably only wear it a handful of times, so what the hell! I also adapted a pocket from one of my New Look patterns, and stitched it into the side seams with a couple of little furfies. 1) I really should sit it down the hip a little, and 2) I stitched the pocket onto the side seam at 5/8" instead of 3/8". Stumbling across Charlotte's fabulous pocket sewing tutorial lead me to think about all the things I'd done wrong and correct for the next version...da-da-daaah! 


Having tested on the Elisalex pattern fit with my shiny pretty slipper fabric, it was time to crack out the Starry, Starry Night fabric from Spoonflower. I bought this fabric to make something that I could remember my friend Adriaan by. Adriaan was a blacksmith, and a complex and wonderful friend whom I've known for 13 years. Last year, he took his own life after a long battle with depression, and his family chose Don McLean's Vincent (Starry, Starry Night) as the funeral song to reflect his life. 

I apologise for my own goofiness, and somewhat half-heartedly for my pocket obsession. They're Pockets! You're surely aware of how few dresses actually have them. Apparently it's got something to do with not making women's hips look bigger. 

I'm afraid I got a little over enthusiastic and stuffed up the patten matching in the bodice-to-skirt direction. Spoonflower's Cotton Sateen is BEAUTIFUL to sew with, but expensive, so I had to squeeze this dress out of only 2 yards. It was quite a challenge, and I did manage to match the pattern around the bodice, if not skirt-to-bodice. If I were doing this again, I think I'd cut the bodice first and patch the skirt together to work a better flow; and possibly invert the pleats. But then on the other hand, it does become something of an example of the disjointed nature life experiences of mental illness. And in a similarly disjointed segue, I did not stuff up the pockets this time. (Win!)

For future reference, I think I'll not wear it with the thicker belt again. It just makes me look too top-heavy.

Overall, I'm quite in love with By Hand London's patterns. This one goes together so quickly! I suddenly need all of their patterns. And the tutorials are fabulous.  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My name is Liz and I'm an addict

I should be shame-faced about it. I should hide the plastic bags under my bed until such time as I can complete the dreamed of project and show it off. I should bust my stash before adding to it.

But it was shiny and pretty and had little hearts woven all through it. And it was 40% off!!! Not only that, but I can literally see it as a long sleeved Elisalex looking very, very sexy.

What else can a girl to do?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Fi, Fo, Foe, Fum!

For reasons known best to itself, zee blog is having trouble saving and this is about my fifth attempt, but never no mind!

I've just come back from a proper long holiday at Mum & Dad's, where I had meant to finish off Practice Dress 1, possibly an orange gingham shirt (I had gingham envy after I saw this little number and this one), and definitely The Giant Jacket for my Dad.

In reality, I got the huffs with Practice Dress 1 because it was all baggy like a sack even though I've managed to gain weight in the process of making it. So I've slung it across Celia until I can be bothered hemming it and either gaining more weight or unpicking the damned thing and stitching in all that ease. 

So instead, I give you: The Giant Jacket, from KwikSew's K3123.

My Dad is 6'6", you see, and has a life long issue buying clothes that fit him properly. At least, he did after his Mum (that'd be Celia) stopped making things for him. His sister has the same issues, and apart from Long Tall Sally, so do I. So when I rocked up at Spotlight to buy the fabric, the lady behind the counter was all "This is enough o make a dressing gown you know. Is he a giant or something?"

"Yeah. He kinda is."

Not that you can tell from these photos, but check that arm length! I stuffed up the arm extension a little because I forgot that the shoulder seam actually drops down the arm a little, extending the arm length already. The toile (AKA lining, coz I can't bear to throw it away if I can use it ;-) touched his fingers!

The buttonholes proved a bit of a challenge, as I hadn't buttonholed before. Naturally I stuffed up the first one, which by dint of poor judgement was the top one! But it's not too noticeable, really. Pocketing it up was a bit of fun too. The welt pockets sit perfectly, hands in place. And I pulled out my handy ol' Reader's Digest Guide to Sewing & Knitting from eons ago for a how-to guide on doing those sneaky inside pockets, as they weren't included in the pattern.

My topstitching went a little skew-whiff in places, but it always does with thicker fabrics. I'll have to work on that.

All in all, this is a really easy pattern to sew, even with extra secret pockets, and I'm fairly pleased with the result. I'm most pleased with my Dad's reaction though. And I might make another one later. We'll see. 

Oh, and I did cut the gingham out...I just need to stitch it together. Maybe next time ;-)

Giant Seamtress, out. 

Friday, June 28, 2013



It came today @_@


I literally jumped up and down next to my mailbox and said everything I just typed above.

And I have two versions planned:

1: Using a cotton fabric from Aboriginal Fabrics in Alice Springs printed with a design called Bambilah by Nambooka. The fabric is soft and silky and kind of poplin-ish. Bambilah are also known as sugar gliders, which are the cutest things out and unfortunately illegal to have as pets in Australia.

2: A beautiful cotton sateen from, printed with Vincent Van Gogh's Starry, Starry Night. This I am making in honour of a dear friend who passed away last year. The song his parents chose for his funeral was Don McLean's Starry, Starry Night, and while Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah will forever be the song I associate with my Adriaan, it makes this fabric is a poignant choice.

But I guess I should finish Practice Dress 1 first!

I'll probably disappear for the next three weeks. I'm going on holiday (and making my giant Dad a jacket that actually fits him).

See you in July

Monday, June 24, 2013

FBA AKA Full Bust Adjustment

I am what our beloved Gertie calls "bodacious of bust", and since my Nanna lost her marbles well before I developed this particular attribute I've never really learnt how to do a bust adjustment. I used to just throw together a larger size, pin it in a bit in places and be slightly annoyed that the shoulder seams stuck out so far past my shoulders or so much armpit flesh and side boob gaped. Then I'd go travelling and not give a rats' aluminium nut about it.

Which is what I did with Project 1: The Practice Dress, Take 1. Chop-chop, stitch-stitch. So when I'd pinned  in and placed it on Celia, I went "There's got to be a better way." All these blogs I've been following have convinced me that I really must learn to do these things properly.


Enter Gertie's guide to bust adjustment, which lead me to a bunch of how-to's on standard bust adjustments. The tiny little wrinkle being that I completely stuffed up my pattern selection and picked one with princess seams <sigh>. So google "full bust adjustment princess seams" I did. By Hand London's guide for the Elisalex seemed the easiest to pull off. As luck would have it, I'm waiting for an Elisalex pattern to drop into my mailbox. Please by Friday! Please by Friday! Please by Friday!

After several false starts (one looked a bit like Pacman) I found myself with a workable pattern that I whizzed together, taking care to do a little easing-in stitch on the extra bustiness, and slung on. It fit beautifully on me, except for when I attached it to the skirt for Project 1: The Practice Dress, Take 2. Triumph turned to self flagellation as I discovered that I had a inches of extra fabric at the waist. <FACEPALM!> Madame Brilliance had skipped Step 8. Ee-gads!


So after a little line drawing, I yield at this particular midnight.  I had hoped to blog the entire finished Practice Dress today. But I shall push on tomorrow instead. For it is a brand new day! And I am on holiday, after all ;-)

Sweet dreams all xo

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Burgeoning Blog

Dearest Readers Who Aren't There Yet,

I am very nearly ready to blog my first project. There have been a few bits and pieces to sort out, because my now-sewing corner has undergone a little transformation from stash of everything to somewhat sorted:

The journey to this stage has felt like an eternity, but not to worry. Somehow the hell which is renovating has only just managed to dampen my fabric and pattern habit (I submit the top shelf full of patterns in the right hand photo as exhibit A). And as soon as I've whipped up some calico curtains to hide my shame (that would be the aforementioned Exhibit A), there's going to be some regular stash busting.

Which brings me to the pleasure of introducing a couple of intended projects:

Project 1: The Practice Dress

As ever, there is Back Stash for this one, but I've been searching for a basic shift pattern in two parts (bodice & skirt) that would allow a little lot of play. And thanks be to Spotlight's end of financial sale, I found a $3 gem: New Look 3824. It's a bodice with darted back & front, different sleeves and two styles of skirt. It's actually the skirt that I intend to play with the most, but a good fit is required on the bodice and this is a style of pattern that is incredibly easy to adjust for my bust.


So I'm going to do a practice version with a beautiful Japanese print cotton that I fell in love with. It's a great fabric to work with when you haven't sewed for a while, and has a consistency similar to calico.

The end goal is to create a Ted Baker-inspired lace number (that's his Aliana dress in what they call Natural down below) from this gorgeous moss green lace that I picked up in Madrid about a decade ago. It's one of those fabrics that I just haven't been able to find the right pattern for.


Project 2: The Perfectly Pleated Manequim Blouse


I've been following a bundle of sewing blogs this year, and sucking up information like a sponge. It's been great fun. Along the way I got wind of Manequim magazine from the illustrious Melissa over at The Curious Kiwi, and managed to get hold of the November 2012 edition from eBay. Oh the excitement!!!

I'm sure that Blusa 460 isn't the easiest of choices, given that I haven't done a button hole for some time...and that the instructions are all in Portugese. But it's the perfect style to test out my brand new Clotilde Perfect Pleater, as the peplum is fully pleated. I've dragged out a red and white striped shirting cotton from my stash that I'm not overly attached to with this end in mind. If I stuff it up "Meh! Doesn't matter." And if I don't, I hopefully won't mind wearing it anyway.

I promise to try to be a good little blogger and show pictures of each project underway. And I'll see if I can work out making these pictures a little smaller so they don't take an eternity to download.

 Much love,
Liz & Penny (the long suffering companion hound).

Monday, June 10, 2013

Getting Organised.

Getting organised is a wonderful concept, and one that I've long struggled with. Apparently being in the midsts of renovating doesn't help, nor does living in a one-bedroom unit.

But I've been going through my sewing paraphernalia and coming to the startling realisation of just how many patterns I have amassed over the years. I really need to make every single one of them! And I need to finish a couple of projects that are currently...stalled, shall we say.

But sew we shall! In the nearish future.