Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Before it's too late... Book Week Costumes

Book Week was weeks ago and I still haven't shared the results of my late night sewing. Both boys decided to go as Star Wars characters. There is a Star Wars book right??

I think James is Luke Skywalker and Oliver is Anakin Skywalker.

I actually make James' costume last year for Halloween and he was happy to wear it again. Oliver however, needed a new costume.

To create a pattern for Oliver's gown, I traced around his house coat and then traced around the hood of his rain coat. I added length to the hood to get the right drape and sewed it all together.

Needless to say, he loves it. I made the vest the morning of the parade. It is simply a deep v shaped piece of knit fabric, tied like a vest with an old dress tie of mine.

Oliver's costume was made with a mish mash of bad fabric (stretch poplin!! ewww!) from deep in the stash. James' from an old bed sheet.

I'm really proud of these costumes and the boys love them. In fact Adele also loves them and can often be found in the backyard swinging a light sabre with a gown on.

I'm looking forward to Friday - School Holidays!! Yay!!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Valerie and Gorman?

I'm feeling well and truly inspired with my sewing at the moment, which is a huge change from where I was just over a week ago. I even feel a planning blog post soon, as I need to address my Spring and school holidays sewing plans. This weekend I have spent a little time in my sewing cave, knocking up a couple of new tops.

First to show today is a Valerie Top. 
I first made this pattern early last year and I love the finished top. Unfortunately it doesn't get too much wear due to the delicate fabric and the fact that one of the colours ran a little after the first wash.

Like last time, I took this tank in a little under the arms. I really love the style of this top, with the higher neckline and cut away arms. It's just a simple, basic wardrobe staple. The fabric, a vibrant rayon, is also from Tessuti. I picked it up in Melbourne when I was there with my hubby last year.

My second top is an impulse make. I headed to Spotty on the weekend to buy sheer curtains and couldn't help but stop to browse at the dress making fabric. One of the benefits of avoiding fabric shopping for a while is that when you finally do, there are plenty of new fabrics to tempt you. Even though I am supposed to be on a fabric diet, a decision that came about when I was folding my stash, I couldn't help but slip a couple of pieces in with the curtains.
This stretch sateen was on sale. The photos don't do it justice. It is a deep inky navy, peach and neon yellow. It reminds me of the style of print fabric you'd see at Gorman right??
The pattern is a self drafted Valerie and Tiny Pocket tank mash up. I love the higher neckline and swingyness of the Valerie, but wanted the dart and hemline from the Tiny Pocket Tank. I'm really pleased with the end results. I love the simple shape and the fit. I envisage more of these for Spring.

Tis all for now. I have an incredibly busy week this week. I hope I survive!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Starting small

Isn't it funny. You take a few weeks off sewing and feel completely lost when you finally get a chance to do it again. This is what happened last weekend after I got my machines back from a service. I found myself paralysed with indecision, fear and a lack of my usual crazy, frantic inspiration. What if I fudged my first project back? What if I ruined fabric? What if I wasted my time? What if I didn't enjoy myself as much as I used to?

In this state, I did what most of us do at times of concern and phoned a friend. A sympathetic friend. A friend that sews. She said she understood, but I'm pretty sure I sounded far crazier than she let on. In the end I picked up a remnant and cut out swingey tank using the tiny pocket tank as my base, but raising the neckline to accommodate the stretchy fabric.

I didn't have enough fabric for any binding, so cut into another remnant to make binding and finished it by folding it under. I wasn't feeling terribly confident, but I am really happy with the end result.
Not bad for a first project back. I'm sure more complex and interesting items will flow out in the coming weeks...
Till then... :)

Saturday, August 30, 2014


Hello there! It has been a while hasn't it??  I'm not going to apologise for my absence from the blogging world. I think 5 weeks is my longest ever break from this space. Needless to say, it has been busy here, but now I'm ready to come back.

Our renovation has made staggering progress and we are almost finished our kitchen, back room and laundry space. Hopefully I'll be able to share some photos soon. While in the fixing up mood, and with my sewjo well an truly MIA, I have channeled my spare energy into organising and tidying my sewing cave. A job which has been well over due for months and exacerbated by the renovation as we've been storing tiles and other building materials in there.

I've never purchased any furniture for my sewing space. I've been lucky enough to receive everything from family, friends or from the side of the road. So while in the 'spendy' renovation mode, I headed to Ikea to purchase some new bookcases to hold all of my sewing junk and my ever increasing stash of teaching resources.

I wish I could show you pretty, styled and colour matched photos of my sewing space, but unfortunately, it is a rather practical space organised by me, and I'm not really like that :)
Here are my new, organised bookshelves. I still have more space to squeeze in books and school resources. I just need to sort them first.
I've also moved a small desk into my room, so that if my husband and kids are hogging the study and dining table, I can still work.
My fabric is now folded and in one space. No more clear boxes. I wish I were organised enough to coordinate the fabric into colours or types, but at least it's all away neatly now.

So with my newly organised space, my freshly serviced over locker and sewing machine, and summer fast approaching, I am ready to head back into the sewing cave to make something awesome!

I'll be back soon.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Grainline Alder Shirtdress in Liberty

Like many others, I jumped when Jen first posted her latest pattern, the Alder Shirtdress and whipped one up straight away.

I adore this new dress! I love shirtdresses (always) and was instantly attracted to the gathered skirt. During construction however, I doubted my choice and I worried about ruining this Liberty. Now that it's finished, I can't believe how much I love it!! (If only I'd have ironed it better before taking these photos!)

I managed to finish most of this dress before our renovations began. I now have some access to my sewing room, so managed to finish the rest on the weekend.

As you would expect from Grainline, this pattern is drafted impeccably. If you've made an Archer, you'll have no trouble with the Alder. I made a straight size 6 and it fits really well. As this is a more fitted style, I sized up from my preferred Archer shirt size. The Archer is a loose fitting shirt that I've sized down from my measurements to achieve the fit that I like.

Surprisingly, the waist seam sits exactly where it should. The only changes I will make for future versions, would be to raise the bust darts and pockets and play a little with the button placement to accommodate the raised bust dart.
I purchased 1.6 meters of  Liberty Tiny Dancer and used almost every scrap. I was thoughtful when cutting to align the rows of dancers, but wasn't too obsessed with pattern matching. I'm not even sure you can pattern match with this fabric. I didn't have enough fabric to cut the under collar or bias binding, so used black rayon cotton scraps from my stash.
I'm seriously excited about this dress. It's a little too cool to wear it at the moment, but with thick tights and a warm cardigan or jacket it's OK. I have this Liberty that may become another version for Summer and some lovely dark chambray, but I guess I need to think about how many shirt dresses I really need....

Fabric: 1.6m Liberty from Shaukat inc part postage: $49
Pattern: $14
Buttons: $6
Total: $69

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The last New Look 6145

This will be my last New Look 6145 for a while. I think this is the fifth time I've used this pattern. Gosh I love the simplicity of this shape. It is a little boring, but it is so wearable.
For this version I used a stable charcoal and black spot double knit that I picked up for a steal from Pitt Trading during their recent sale. Only $5 for a odd shaped piece just over a  meter long.

The pattern came together easily. I tried not to get too hung up on pattern placement, choosing to try to keep things even and on grain, but not centered.
To maintain shaping without distorting the spots, I added to darts along the back.

I really like this dress. It's perfect for work, even though I haven't worn it yet. I'm still locked out of my sewing room, so am almost exclusively wearing knit garments while I don't have an iron.

Pattern: New Look 6145, used before = Free
Fabric: 1m double knit from Pitt Trading = $5
Thread from stash
Total: $5!! About time I made a truly cost effective garment!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Denim Shirt Dress: Simplicity 2246

My love for shirt dresses continues. I have wanted a Winter denim shirt dress for a while, and now I have one!
For this, I used a very popular Simplicity Lisette pattern, the Traveller Dress - Simplicity 2246. Oliver & S patterns are known for their wonderful instructions, so I did expect something different from this pattern which is drafted by the same designer, but the instructions are stock standard Simplicity type. That's OK for me, but I thought they might be different to cater to beginner sewers.

I wasn't a fan of the mock collar and stand on the dress, so drafted my own true collar and stand as I prefer how they sit. I used a cotton/rayon, black spot remnant for the stand and button band facing for a little interest.

I omitted the pockets as they didn't look as clean and crisp as I'd have liked. I added proper cuffs to the dress, as full sleeves make it easier to wear a cardigan or jacket over a dress in Winter. I also added sleeve tabs for rolling sleeves, and belt loops so I don't need to wear my belt tight.

I made a straight size 10, my standard size (though my measurements always put me between a 12 -14) and it fits perfectly, surprisingly perfectly, though I wouldn't want the hips any smaller. The fabric is a light-weight, 4oz denim from Kelani Fabric and was just delightfully soft to work with, though I may not have washed it enough before wearing this dress as my hands were a little 'smurf-like' toward the evening yesterday.
When I read Carolyn's post a little while ago about paying attention to the finishing on our home sewn garments, I could help but connect to her words for the wrong reasons. I only own 4 serger thread colours and don't often pay the best attention to the inner finishing of the garments I make. I know! Tut tut! :) So thinking of her words, I took my time with this dress to make it special. In total this dress took one and a half weeks to complete, slow and steady and not at all rushed. I flat felled all the seams (a first!) and really took my time to ensure the whole finish of the dress is very neat and crisp.When I look at this dress now, it makes me happy and I'm surprised by how smooth flat felled seams are to wear. There will be more of them in the future.

My only complaint with this frock is that the hem is probably half an inch too short, and although I thought dipping the hem at the back would be a good idea, I don't like it, so I will be re-hemming this frock.

I'm very satisfied with this make and very proud of the finish. I also have another shirt dress cut and ready to sew tonight, because I just couldn't help myself and bought the Alder dress pattern and whipped out some new Liberty - yum!!!

Pattern: Simplicity 2246, purchased on sale $3
Fabric: 1.8m lightweight 4oz denim from Kelani Fabric: $34.20
Buttons: Many!! from Tessuti only 20c each!! What a miracle! $2
Buttons: two from the stash for the cuffs, as I didn't have enough matching ones: free??
Thread: 2 spools!! $6
Total: $47.20