Monday, 31 December 2012

Painting the town red (and blue and yellow)

Its been about 40 degrees in these parts since Christmas day.  I was feeling seriously in need of a light, cool, easy to pull on dress.  I managed to sneak a visit to Spotlight a couple of weeks ago.  Its an hour away and it was my 1st fabric buying trip in over 3 months.  I found this lovely painted cotton voile in the clearance rolls.  I really don't have much in thse sorts of colours but I loved its boldness, and was looking for some voile so $12.50 later I had 2 1/2 meters of it.  Its by an Australian company called Wenzel. Most importantly it also matches my new red salties.

 This dress from the cover of Burda 11/2012 looked like it would fit the bill.  I liked the ruffles and the dropped waist and its pull on comfy easyness.

In the background you can see hordes of people trying to cool off at our usually quiet beach.

My lovely new shoes!

 I really like it and have worn it 3 times already since I finished it just after Christmas.  I made a few changes to the pattern.  Infact the top part is the same as the tank I made just cut a bit shorter.


  • I didn't twist the shoulders as my fabric didn't have 2 good sides.
  • I took the sides in at the waist.  The pattern flares here and I tried it on before I added the elastic and it just gave me an extra kind of roll around the middle that I just didn't need.
  • I accidentally cut the top without a seam allowance at the bottom so its a bit shorter than it was meant to be.  I also forgot to prewash my fabric so i'm hoping it won't shrink too much.  Fingers crossed.
 Thats about it.  It was easy to make.  I did french seams and bound the neck and arms with bias binding.  I've started under-stitching it and it make it sit much better.

Happily its just started to rain.  All that heat was getting a bit too intense for me.  Still a pom at heart.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Fishy Dress

My daughter is pretty cool.  Definitely cooler than me.
She might be only 2 and a half but she knows what she likes.

She picked out the material in Spotlight.  I was looking for something for me and she picked it up from somewhere and asked for a dress out it.   Its velour with fish printed on it.  Certainly wouldn't have picked it out myself but there you go.  She was adamant and we got a meter.

I also happened to have Burda Style 12/11 out of the library and it had a sweet sweatshirt dress in it.  I really like the pocket with the gathers round the edges and the pocket all the way through.  Its kind of sweet how it means it stretches nicely over round toddler tummy.

As if she wasn't cool enough whe then found the glasses as we were paying for some christmas lights.  At her height she picked them off and put them on.  The co-ordinated perfectly with her dress in both colour and style and at only $6 I couldn't really say no.  She was very good and put the large bag of sweeties back on the shelf. 

I hope I grow up to be half so cool!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Blue Checks

I made this one over a year ago but I've only just started wearing it. 

Its from Burda 04/11.

 I made this one from an old duvet cover.  I really like the colours and the check, its nice and casual and just my colours (I have too many blue things really but if only had to wear one colour then it would have to be it).

There are a few reasons why I only just started wearing it.
  • I made this when I was pregnant.  It went over my head but I couldn't get it on over my bump so it was pretty hard really to amke an assessment of what it was like or how long it should be.
  • After that I was breastfeeding which also made it completely impractical as to do this I would need to pull the whole dress up under my armpits...not really the best look, even with people you know well!!!
  • It was the wrong length.  Once I was no longer pregnant or breastfeeding I still didn't wear it and it took me a while to work out why as I liked the fabric and the style of the top.  It was just too long, about 5 inches below the knee.  I had never really been in to short dresses and would l way wear dresses this length but with this straignt style it just made it very boring and it just looked wrong.
So emboldened after making my short Lola, and probably still with the navy blue in my overlocker, I hacked about a foot off the bottom.  And it worked. I like it.  Its a nice easy dress to wear to the beach or just relaxing when I don't want a dress up dress or one that is too fiddly.  It just pulls on nice and easy.

I did put the elastic lower than the pattern called for.  About 5 cm probably.  I had the idea that I have a long torso.  I'm not sure anymore if this is true and think that it was just that as a very straight up and down person I never really liked to wear things on my real waist as it just made me look wide??  I've got a bit slimmer now (strangely after 2 babies) and have a bit more waist and realise that styles that do have waists actually work better if the waist is on my waist.....obvious really....but strange how your hang ups make you think things like this.

Having said all that I like the low waist on this one. 

 I also made a top from the same patter, a couple of pics below.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Easy Breezy

I call it easy breezy as that's what it is to wear. 

It gave me a couple of small headaches sewing it though. 

I decided to do the bands as per the instructions and turn them over to create a binding rather than just use them as a little cuff.  Mine ended up a bit thicker than they should have been (i'm never sure if the bands in burda patterns include seam allowances or not).  THen when I tried to sew them down with my double needle it kept skipping stitches.  I tried a couple of times, then resorted to a ballpoint needle with a slight zig zag stitch.  It worked.

Its lovely and cool to wear and the length and big band make it more interesting.
It was also a perfect use for the fine cotton jersey that I picked up in the op shop a year or so ago.  This pattern was the one.


Sunday, 4 November 2012

Recycled Roxanne


 This Roxanne Top is not as simple as it seems.  Its been with me for the last 20 years and was probably one of my longest serving items of clothing before it got this reincarnation.  My school 'Lecture Dress' - see below for explanation.

This dress had definitely reached the end of its useful life for me.  It was a bout 3 sizes too big not to mention a bit of a frumpy style.  BUt I totally love the material.  Its Indian Block print by Annokki on the finest, softest and most flowing cotton.  I love it.

Luckily the large size and frumpy style meant I had oodles of material to work with.  I had thought I would make a Roxanne with long sleeves and would have thought this collar was totally not 'me' but then I saw Paunnet's version and it all came together.  I had enough of the blue for the collar left over from the lining of my Chloe and the dress had enough material for a short sleeve version.  Yey.

  • All nice and easy really.  
  • I made a size 6 (I've made 8's of victory patterns before but I figured it was pretty loose fitting). 
  • I made 2 left hand collars, I cut it right but as the material is the same on both sides I must have sewn one up back to front only realising as I went to attach them.  Grrrr as it meant more fiddly cutting and interfacing, but luckily I had enough fabric.
  • I interfaced the collar but it does make it quite thick.  I am not totally sure that I would next time.  I guess it gives a more 3 D effect at the front but I think just the double layer of material might be just fine.
  • My back yoke is about 1/3 from the top.  Its made from the old waist band which wasn't quite wide enough.  Luckily the pin tucks mean it doesn't notice much.
  • Lovely instructions meant it all came together pretty easily really.

I love it.  Its cool, floaty, pretty and a bit different with the collar.  I think it looks like something I might have paid a lot of money for in a posh shop (not why I love it but it makes me feel a bit smug!).

 So the story of the original dress......

I went to one of those English boarding schools where you had to go to Chapel on Sundays and occasionally to an edifying lecture on Thursday evening.  To attend these events you were required to wear a lecture dress (and no not having one was not a way to skip).  This was meant to be a smart dress, I think it was probably specified that it needed to be below the knee and have sleeves.

I would guess that 90% of the girls at my school had a Laura Ashley dress as these generally fitted the criteria pretty well only problem being that as a 15 year old it wasn't atall what you wanted to be wearing.

I was a bit fat and a bit grungy so really the whole Laura Ashley thing was not working.  I think after trawling round shops for about 5 hours with my mum we finally found this one in Annokki.  Long Sleeves, below the knee, floral without being chintzy and I would have liked the Indian thing.   Still do in fact.  Totally love Indian Block print Cotton. 

So here it is.  On the left I am 5 months pregnant in 40 degrees C in Fremantle Perth.  It was nice and cool and floaty. My Lovely Ma thought of it and brought it over here for me.  which is how it ended up in the right hand picture hanging on the wall waiting for the chop!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Vintage Sheet Victory

I've not been here.  Not because I've not been sewing...I've made loads.
I've even got a new camera, but no tripod so not so good at doing photos of myself.
Well that's my excuse  but lets get going.  We'll go one by one

BUT be warned this blog will appear to turn into a bit of a Victory patterns love in.  But hey, I love things I've made from them, so here goes.

1st up my Chloe.

I do love it really, just squinting at the sun!

I dug up the sheet in one of those op shops which you know don't get visited all that often.  I've got a lot of vintage sheets but this one was total love, beautiful design and soft colours. I immediately had this dress in my mind and happily I was able to find this light coloured lightweight denim in Spotlight and away I went.

My 1st lined dress.  Yey.  All went well.

My 1st time using my invisible zipper foot.  The zip has about 10 lines of stitching down each side tring to get it right and attach the lining well.  Luckily as there is a lining you can't see any of this.  Yey.

I initially cut out the sleeves in the floral but realised it would work much better with the denim and the floral as binding. 

Think maybe I should have graded down to a 6 for the bottom half but really no big thing, nice to have space to move. 

My 1st mini dress (mini-er than my Lola, which after all grows as I wear it - see post for details).  getting good at doing that bending down thing by bending from the knees and not the waist so I don't show my knickers off too many times a day.  (haven't yet made a matching pair!).

I considered sewing on 4 big blue buttons on at the neck, like it suggests in the pattern, but in the end I decided maybe it made it look a bit childish / crafty so decided to keep it simple.  

Its good for visiting waterfalls in too. 

Friday, 3 August 2012

Love my Lola

I totally love this dress and I loved making it too.  

Its the Lola by Victory Patterns.  Making it involved many 1sts for me.

  • My 1st downloadable PDF pattern.  What a great way to buy one.  Just press a button (and fill in your credit card details of course), and PING.... there it is in your inbox. Yey.  It was easy to print out and I just stuck it together and cut it out infront of the TV.
  • My 1st time finding that all the pattern pieces matched up perfectly and I paid proper attention to my seam allowances (I mostly sew burda mag patterns and just eyeball it) and it all came together really neatly.  I nearly got caught out with the pockets as I couldn't work out why the tops of the sides didn't match up with the side panels as I knew I had cut it right, then luckily realised they were meant to be bigger so the top of the pocket hung out a bit.  
  • My 1st time totally stuffing up my cutting out and managing to cut it on the cross grain!!!  It was dark, the material was dark, the TV was on again.  I did think the back of the material looked like it was the wrong way round (its sweatshirty type stuff) and that it was very wide but I remembered that the woman in the shop had commented on how wide the material was and so I ignored all these things and just cut it out.  Luckily for me the material is 2 way stretch cotton with spandex so it still works. Iit gets a bit longer as i wear it, probably no bad thing?!!
  • My 1st short dress, all my others are just below the knee. I like it.
  • Probably one of the 1st things I've sewn which just feels totally me.  Yey for that too.

I totally love the cut, its so clever, and original, and flattering and comfy.  I had had the material for a while, (in the spotlight clearance, so nice...wish I had got some red too) and when I read on the Victory website that it would be enough for this pattern I brought it (it would be really helpful if this could be included for all the patterns rather than just in comments where someone asked... I have lots of material and often looking for patterns for it), and so glad I did.  I sewed a size 8 which I think corresponds to a UK/Aus 12 and it fits just perfectly.

I have already cut out to a fleece version, shorter with long sleeves, a front pouch pocket and hopefully a cowl neck if I can get what's left of my material into one. 

p.s. sorry the photos are a bit weird, using the flash inside in sunlight or something but think its the best i'll manage for a bit.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

B##### I broke my machine!

We were away for a month in the UK so I didn't get any sewing done, although I picked up patterns and a couple of UFOs from way back (actually really quite nice and I am quite surprised at how neatly I made them!).

Back in Oz and with Big Small Persons birthday the next day I was doing a bit of last minute present making.  I made the fatal mistake of trying to save myself 30 seconds when winding a bobbin by not un-threading my machine (I have 2 spool holders).  All very well but I also didn't disengage my needle as the wheel you need to undo to do it is done up too tight.  It all ended in a horrid grinding noise and the thread getting stuck round the bobbin case then the needle not picking up the bobbin thread.

It was late, I went to bed.  Skye was going to be 2 so I reckoned she wouldn't really know either way if it was her birthday tomorrow or not.  I skulked off to bed, feeling a bit guilty for being a useless mum ( I had also burnt a cake earlier in the week) and for breaking my lovely old machine.

Luckily there is a nice man called Pete who fixes machines, who knows a Chinese man in Sydney who can get gears for an old machine like mine.  Its going to be $75, the machine only cost me $20!  But I love it, and I've got some new feet for it and finding a new one I loved would likely cost me much more than $75.

Best thing though was that while I wait for my machine to be fixed Pete lent me a machine.  A nice old Bernina and so I have been able to make these......

An apron and an art smock for Big Little One.  They are both from my Sew Liberated book.  Not complicated patterns but much easier to make for having a pattern.

The apron is from some drill which was on offer in Spotlight.  She loved my brother's cat Hobo when we visited and keeps talking about him, thought she might like some cats on her apron.  The smock cotton is printed patchwork from my stash.  I realised its business was perfect for something liable to get covered in paint.

I love them both ..... small person is less keen.  She did try on the apron for me but refused to have anything to do with the art overall.  Hey ho.

I have also knocked up a pair of cable fingerless gloves.  My 1st cables.. yey.  I've managed to wear them once but its really not cold enough (not a bad thing but it does make knitting less useful in Australia!).

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Treasures from my Ma and Grandma

We're back in the UK for a few weeks applying for a new Australian Visa (fingers crossed, its all a bit stressful but that's another story). 

Its given me a chance to raid my Ma's sewing room and see that my sewing obsession goes back atleast 2 generations.  These are patterns that I found in my mum's stash.  I can't wait to make the central sundress, just my style.  Not sure pussy bow is really my style but seems the thing to make so we'll see.   My mum said she made herself the Butterick one in the 60s.  Its got square armholes which apparently all the rage. 

The tracing wheels and tracing paper were my grandma's which I plan to put to good use.  Seems she was more my size too so her patterns are all good for me. 

I also found evidence of some of my past sewing expereinces and UFOs.  Some very misguided - a silk chiffon DKNY dress.  Impossible to sew and not at all flattering and I think quite expensive.  A very gathered wool paisley skirt - loads of fabric might actually make quite a nice dress.  And one great one a tunic length tank in some lovely block print I brought in India.  It fits brilliantly and I'm super impressed at how well I finshed the facing and neck.  Just need pockets sewn on and hemming.  Photos to follow.

I also found this treasure.   I brought it in India, probably for not very much.  Imagine someone has hand embroidered all this.  Wow.  Needs to be made into something special.  I'm thinking white linen tunic with this trim under the bust and along the neckline?

Anyway must go we're off to see the Panda's at Edinburgh Zoo......

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Curly Things

Well I have to say I wondering what all the hoo haa about sewing with knits was.  I hadn't done much before but I recently knocked out a couple of dresses and tops without any big worries.  Nice, easy, quick and most important comfy. 

So then I brought a new Vogue DKNY pattern because they were half price in Spotlight.  Then they had some fabric on sale, and then on sale again, so only $2.10 a meter and it was in turquoise and white stripes and I have a bit of a think about turquoise.  So obviously I had to buy it.

All so good and so exciting for a bargain hunter like me.

Then I cut it out.....

Oh no.... it goes seriously curly wurly just like my recently picked carrots.

Agggh.  So annoying, means pinning a seam together takes hours and quick project here.  

Its pretty much finished now, just needs hemming but that will take hours too so putting it off.  Also I've tried it on and think it makes me look pregnant again and I'm not.  infact I was feeling pretty proud of my mummy tummy reduction but it doesn't look so rosy in this dress.  

Pictures of the finished article to follow.  In the meantime a couple of pictures of more successful projects the garden...and at the sewing table....