Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Home and back in action

My absence from Blogland has been conspicuous (to me at any rate).  I've spent the last few months preparing to go away, going away and coming back again to a mountain of work!  

While ostensibly it was a business trip, with the opportunity to speak at conferences, work with colleagues in London and have a brief holiday in Portugal, I did spend a lot of time talking and thinking about sewing. 

The outfit photographed was self made for travel.  A self drafted black ponte pencil skirt, a Rigel bomber jacket made from a fabulous linen synthetic blend that doesn't crush and doesn't need ironing, and a black jersey cowl neck t-shirt.  I love this outfit and wish I had a photo that showed more garment and less of the Savoy.

I travelled to Paris for weekend (as you do!) and found stunning antique buttons at the Marché aux puces de la Porte de Vanves on the outskirts of central Paris.  I bought four lots for 20 euros and much haggling.  There is lace to be found at this flea market but the quality is variable. Expect to pay for the good stuff. I also went to my favourite fabric stores on Montmartre and was slightly disappointed.  But I did find 3 metres of interesting cotton blend for 10 euros. And am kicking myself for not buying the 3 metre 'coupon' of burnt orange faux leather indistinguishable from real leather.  I was worried about excess baggage.

Back in London I met up with the lovely Kate from Fabrikated.  We shared dinner at her house and I felt privileged to see her hand made clothes, sewing area, cloth stash.  Kate is wonderfully creative and has been dabbling in fabric printing and painting.  She is also a skilled pattern-maker and was finishing an amazing cotton maxi at the time of my visit. 

Another trip highlight was meeting Tany from Tricot et Couture.  Tany is utterly charming and amazingly generous and talented.  We spent time touring her home town in Portugal with her husband and son.  We clicked and talked about all sorts of things, including cloth...how could we not?  Seeing her work close up was really very special. Tany led me to her favourite fabric store Feira dos Tecidos which has branches all over Portugal.  A sample of my purchases is pictured below.  

 Tany also directed me to a very special supplier of trims and buttons.  I bought buttons for a Chanel jacket and the red and black braids on the counter. 


 I've just finished my first garment since my return, a tuxedo shirt which I'm pattern testing for my friend Anita McAdam at Studio Faro.  I have hundreds of buttons, but do you think I have 8 small black shirt buttons?  Fraid not!

I promise not to be a stranger again.  Please pop by and say hello.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

No boring business


 Clearly April's dress was not a winner in the popularity stakes, but what do you think of my Rigel bomber with a simple tube pencil skirt?  I am huge fan of Papercut patterns for fit, skillful pattern design and easy to follow instructions.


I bought the floral fabric on a whim from a designer fabric website Kristy recommended.  The piece was very small - enough for a pencil skirt (an obvious choice) or for a colour blocked jacket.  I did have a more structured jacket in mind until I saw just how well it blended with the mustard wool ponte that lived deep in my stash.
In theory I love this suit -particularly the back view- which I made as an antidote to boring grey business suits.  In practice I'm a little shy to wear it.  The feeling of needing to hide away wasn't helped by husband's comment to my daughter "Have you seen Mum's vomit jacket?"..."Bomber jacket!"..."Oh I thought you said vomit" (look of sheer innocence upon his face).  
I made it and some other items at an our annual Sewing Guild sewcation at Stanwell Tops.  I was joined by other bloggers; Sharon, Kristy and Beverley and 30 other talented soulmates.  Beverley posted some great photos on her blog.  If you don't get together with sewers in the real world, I recommend it.  We learn a lot and inspire each other.



Monday, May 11, 2015

Autumnal tones for April dress

You could be forgiven for thinking that I spend more time musing about sewing than actually sewing.  My rate of blogging does suggest that! April is a strange month with holidays disrupting the normal week, taxes falling due, and the month seems to fly by.   But there has been plenty of action here, just no so much inclination to sit down and write about.  

In the ages since my last post I have completed my April dress; a wild suit (see my next post); a white wadder; and a flippy skirt that is waiting on a Bellatrix Papercut jacket to match. 


Let's talk about the April dress.  The pattern is Burda 10-2014 101 made from patterned ponte I bought in Barcelona at a store that I was taken to by the charming Spanish designer Paco Peralta.  I paired it with plain ponte from Lindcraft.

The pattern is well constructed and quite easy to sew.  The centre front panel replaces bust darts and does sit quite high, but I like this effect. I added an exposed zip to modernise the look.  The only suggestion I make is to interface the corners especially if your fabrics are different weights.  


This would have helped April as the Spanish wool ponte is lighter than the denser Lindcraft variety. Overall I'm very happy with my dress and have worn it a few times already.

I love the way the fabric matches my vintage Oroton earrings.

While I am persisting with my calendar dress challenge it is a bit of a distraction. I looked into my closet and it is crying out for separates, and solid colours.  Not giving up just yet!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March takes sports lux to the office


Despite the telling wrinkles at the end of the day, I love my March dress. Perhaps I should have taken it off and waited until it was fresh again, but it is 31 March and I have a deadline!

March is inspired by the sports luxe trend so prevalent this year. Sportswear doesn't just belong in the gym does it.  I've taken it to the office using creme and black ponte from Tessuti in Sydney.  The pattern is a remash of Burdastyle 12-2014-105 which I  used for my David Jones top.




The changes to the pattern are simple.  

Open the front seam to the upper front panel; insert a zipper; add a shoulder and back yoke; and add an additional panel to both the front and back sleeve seam.  I drafted my own pencil skirt without darts using the waistband of the peplum as my starting point.  If you are using a stretch fabric like ponte you don't need the underarm zip.



What's next?  Not sure.  I have a lot of fabric ideas for tops and coats, and one dress that is still taking shape.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

February calendar dress - the bimbo

My February calendar is finally given a public viewing!  I'm calling February the "Bimbo".  Burda 09/2014 122 is attractive, but  essentially stupid.

The balanced ledger looks like this.  Credits: great flounced inset at the front and a longer hemline at the back; interesting design lines that shape the bust and waistlines beautifully; a blank canvas for jewellery.  Debits: flawed drafting of the armscye that left just enough room for a twig prior to adjustment- note the photo of the model!!; poor fabric choice - the synthetic crepe wrinkles badly when sitting and needs a great deal of ironing even after drip drying.  Not a practical dress by any measure.

I won't be making this dress again, but if I did I'd consider underlining for more stability on the curved seams.  I'd also shorten it - I was a little fazed by the different pattern pieces that required adjustment and left it as it was.  Mid calf is elegant but the shorter magazine version is funkier.

On the other hand, March is almost done and I am over the moon with the result.  Pictures as soon as the hems are completed.

Meanwhile, happy sewing!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

David Jones logo top

Despite looking distinctively like the Australian retailer David Jones's signature logo, my version of Burda 12-2014-105 is a definite winner for  summer business wear.  

I made a size 40 with no alterations, beyond adding the faux leather shoulder inset to break up the fabric and taking in the sleeves...by a lot!  I should have been vary about the sleeves after looking at how limply they hung on the Burda model.  Even for my solid arms, they are massive.  I shaved about about 1 inch from each side of the two piece sleeve.  

If you are altering the sleeves, try to maintain the existing sleeve head as they slot into the arm hole without a lot of easing.

This pattern is the prototype for my March calendar dress.  Where is my February dress I hear you ask?  February was indeed finished on 28 February, but despite two wearings has not been photographed.  My daughter has PROMISED to be around when it has its next outing on Wednesday!




Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Calendar dresses - Meet January

I do wish I'd purchased a tripod on the weekend so you could see a photo of my new dress on. 

My one sewing goal for 2015 is to make a calendar of dresses, one for each month appropriate to the season. Its a stretch assignment, but involves no stretch fabrics.  My self-imposed rules are: 1) Each pattern must be unique; 2) Woven fabrics only; 3) The design should be suitable for a number of purposes; and 4) the pattern must have some complexity - simple shift dresses will not pass.

So meet January. I've been thinking about January since the beginning of Spring when suddenly Sydney shop windows were filled with pretty floral dresses.  My floral is a cotton sateen print from Lincraft. I've trimmed with the black cotton drill that my husband rescued from someone's castaways.

January is built from Burda Style 103 from May 2014.  The design is a 'tall' pattern, something that might be a deterrent when you are only 5'2'' or 156 cms.  However, being rather long in the torso, (my shortness coming from lack of legs) the only adjustments needed were to raise the plunging neckline by at least 2 inches; dart in the raglan sleeve line and shorten the hemline by 3 inches.  The pattern calls for an invisible zip in the back seam.  Let me tell you this is really hard to do with the extra layers of black fabric and the precision required.  After two attempts that were less than pleasing I gave up and placed the zip in the underarm seam.  This worked a treat and is easier to get on and off.  All my zips will go into the side seam from now on.

I'm ecstatic about the fit and feel of January.  Happy sewing while I trace off February!