Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Birthday fabric dress

Back in December for my birthday my husband took me out for brunch, then let me loose in the fabric shop! I bought two pieces- both are a little different to my usual palate of old fashioned feminine florals. This deep purple and blue floral had stood out to me a few weeks before, and was still on my mind for the birthday trip, so I took that as a sign.

This week I decided it was time to sew it up before summer ended. I went with my classic fit and flare dress pattern- Simplicity 2444. This time I went sleeveless and I lined the bodice with self fabric. Not much else to say about it, except I probably should have taken a smidgeon of length out of the bodice.

I'm on a sewing roll right now- I organized and cleaned out all my sewing things earlier this week, and have a back log of unfinished projects to share with you.

My two birthday fabrics


Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Ella Skirt

 
Have you ever had a sewing project that has been in your mind for years? For me it is this brown skirt. Back in the 1980's my grandmother, Ella, made my Mum this gorgeous brown gabardine skirt with a curved yoke and two deep pleats. I loved it, but it was much too small for me, so I decided that I would make my own version. Surprisingly, the original pattern was long gone. I dithered over what to do for a while, but then I decided I needed to draft it myself. I'd already bought some chocolate brown chino (that matched my blouses better than the original colour) and I knew I wouldn't be satisfied with a simple gored skirt.

I've done a smidgeon of pattern drafting over the years, usually fiddling around with pre-existing patterns, and the most I've done was with my wedding dress skirt, which took a number of attempts to get right. A few months ago, I just decided to jump in. I got out my Simplicity 6862 basic fore gore skirt pattern and using that as the block I spent a couple of hours drawing yokes, adding and removing seam allowances, and working out how to sew the pleats. I then made it up in some  navy, and it worked! I was so relieved. The brown skirt followed soon after. So that's the story of the pattern I've christened the Ella skirt. I'll be back next week with a post detailing construction etc, as the beauty of this skirt is in the details.

The blouse is yet another Smooth Sailing in a rayon that started life as a 1980's opshop dress made in Indonesia. I have very little to add about this pattern, other than I still love it and cannot see myself stopping making it any time soon.

Thanks to my sister for the photo!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

2017 Make Nine

These are the nine patterns I've decided I'm making this year. As you can see, they are all vintage ones! I already have the fabric put aside for several of them.

Last year I did not get as much sewing done as I wanted to, but I am happy with what I did get made, especially moving into sewing a lot of separates. The Smooth Sailing blouse has become an indispensable wardrobe staple.

This year's plans are as follows:

1. Sew more vintage.

2. Pencil skirts- fit a pattern for my hips

3. Keep the sewing area under control. We live in a tiny apartment and my sewing is everywhere. We are planning on moving in the next few months, so hopefully that will mean I can get more organised.

4. Sew more regularly: again this will be easier when sewing doesn't take over everything including the bed! However, a lot of it is just having that motivation to get started.

5. UFOs. At this point last year I was lamenting the same. I need to finish what I start. A lot of things only have hand sewing left, which I love to do, but it does take time.

6. Blog once a week. I love having this platform, and I want to be able to grow it more.

7. Take part in at least two sewing challenges.

8. Increase skills: grading, bound button holes etc.

I'll be back later this week with yet another Smooth Sailing blouse!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

The ongoing saga of the Liberty shirtdress, and a red skirt

Long time readers of my blog might remember my Third Time Lucky Blouse from last year. I had bought a vintage Liberty shirtdress that was several sizes too big. First round: Resize it, second round: remake it into a M6696 shirtdress with a straight skirt, forgetting I have hips, third round: blouse with a mandarin collar. As I said in the post at the time, I realized I should have tapered the placket at the neck to make the collar sit properly, but I was happy to wear it high buttoned. However, I only ever wore it the one time, and back to the pile it went. I had enough left over scraps to piece together the collar sections, and once I'd sewn it together, I unpicked the top seam on the collar stand, and sandwiched the collar in before hand stitching it in place. Two hours worth of work, and finally the blouse is wearable, and the saga of the liberty shirtdress comes to an end.

 Every year my grandmother's retirement village has a big spring fete. I al ways end up at the craft stall (when not at the books). Most of their stock is handmade items made by residents, but this year I was lucky on the sewing front. I bought a large amount of vintage zippers and bias binding, patchwork scraps for my hexagon quilt,  and this red fabric. It seems to be a wool, but it's light enough for summer.  I managed to just cut out  Simplicity 6862, the best ever skirt pattern and I
added in a side seam pocket out of some old red floral from my first dressmaking project. Nice and simple. It's going to go with a lot of my blouses.

That's all to say on that. I've been loving reading everyone's plans on sewing in 2017, so I'll be back in a few days to share mine. Needless to say, it's a lot of vintage florals!

Monday, 3 October 2016

Of buttons and press studs

Another Smooth Sailing blouse! This is hands down my favourite blouse pattern, and at this point, there's not much left to say about the pattern itself.

For this iteration I used a length of fabric I found opshopping, and paid $3 for. It's a beautiful red floral but the fabric itself was a bit funny. It's a polyester of some sort, and it had a very slight stretch to it, which did make sewing the collar a bit frustrating. It's not a fabric I would have bught new, but I refuse to pass up good fabric at opshops! Make do and mend, especially as this is a 1930's blouse pattern.

The make do attitude really spilt over when it came to buttons. I had sorted out my buttons a few months ago, and was eager to use what I had. As would have it, there was no buttons I had enough of that also matched! I finally decided to go for "fake" buttons. The blouse actually closes with five press studs, and then I sewed on three green vintage buttons over the three top press studs. This worked perfectly. I always wear my blouses tucked in, so the balance isn't thrown off, and these great buttons get to be used. I was also glad to not have to make button holes in the fabric, as I'm not sure how it would have behaved.

I have a new dress to share with you later this week, where I also use the press stud/fake buttons trick, it's a good one!

What sewing tricks do you use?

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Spring has sprung

There is nothing quite like a big full skirt covered in pink roses.
I bought this fabric back at the beginning of the year for $4/m at my local Asian fabric shop. I loved the colour, and thought it would be perfect for Simplicity 1459, a 1950's reproduction shirtdress with an oversized collar. However, it was not to be. I did make the bodice, but I ran into a lot of problems with it. Firstly, I didn't make a muslin, and I got the sizing off. Secondly, the fabric is a very stiff polyester. It wasn't pressing well, especially to make the collar sit flat. I put the dress to the side as winter came around, but every time I thought about remaking the bodice, I just didn't feel like it. I finally decided a dress out of a very stiff polyester would be too uncomfortable, so it was skirt time instead.

The actual sewing up of the skirt was very quick. I used Simplicity 2444 and just added a waistband. I lengthened it a few inches for a more 1950's look, and all good to go! This is going to be the perfect skirt for summer with a nice white blouse. The stiff fabric gives it a lot of body- much better as a skirt than a dress. I am still on the look out for a suitable fabric for Simplicity 1459 though.


I am so glad I decided to change my plans on this one. Have you ever been able to mitigate a sewing disaster into something else entirely?
 

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The Spanish Dress

More unseasonably hot Sydney weather has lead to more UFO's being finished so I have something to wear! (My off season clothes are stored at my Mum's). I only started this dress a few weeks ago, but this burst of spring heat led me to madly finish it off last night to wear today.

The fabric for this dress is a special one. Last year, my best friend went to Spain and brought this back for me. I am making her a skirt, and I got the leftover yardage to play with. I decided to go with a dress, as the colour is not something I would usually wear, and I didn't think it would get too much wear as separates.

The pattern is a mash up of two of my favourites: Simplicity 2444 for the bodice, and Simplicity 6862 (the amazing one metre skirt pattern) for the bottom. The fabric is quite stiff, so I decided a flared skirt would do nicely; it certainly has a lot of body.

This was a very quick and simple make: the zip is handpicked, the neckline is faced, and the armholes and hem are finished with bias tape. I love the shape of this; it's definitely one I'd like to try again.

I've paired it up here with my white sandals and pearls thanks to some styling advice from Mum; it's such a good summery combination (even if it is meant to be winter).

So this is another successful dress which I will get a lot of wear out of come summer. I wore it today to my new job; I am teaching at the university's ancient history museum, so I had a fun morning grossing kids out with Egyptian mummies.