Saturday, 25 October 2014

New Look 6143 - A Vision of Lace and Silk.

The most special and important part of my life as it is for most people is watching my children grow up into their own individual selves.
My middle daughter has just finished secondary school and is now preparing for the next stage of her life.
Part of the final school activities include a whole school assembly where they celebrate their academic , sporting and community achievements , a Valedictory dinner and the final celebratory day of school ( renamed because too many pupils muck up on Muck Up Day - one year it was quick set cement in the toilets causing over $30,000 worth of damage ! )

So with only three weeks until her Valedictory dinner my daughter asked if I would sew her dress and showed me a photo. This was quite a scary challenge because I think my daughter overestimates my sewing ability and I did not want to disappoint her on a very special day and did I happen to mention I only had three weeks . So the easy part was finding a pattern and New Look 6143 was virtually exactly the same as her choice of dress - a sweetheart neckline  satin lined lace dress with three quarter sleeves.


The next part was finding fabric and the time to squeeze this in amongst study and work. So one day we travelled to Melbourne and went to Spotlight . We bought the pattern and looked at their evening fabric selections. They had a  wide selection  but I suggested we keep looking and went to Darn Cheap Fabrics. 
Now Darn Cheap fabrics sounds well tacky but they actually have lots of beautiful fabrics and we found some lace and then real silk satin - in so many colours.  Once you have felt silk satin there  is  no going back to the Spotty Poly . There happened to be a full length mirror near the satins so she held up nearly every colour with the lace to her face and finally chose a muted rose colour . 


After making a quick toile and some fitting changes the sewing started. It really is a bit intimidating 
 cutting into silk but with such limited time you just have hold your breath, cross your fingers, hope for the best and do it. 


The pattern and instructions are fine. We made some minor changes to the pattern(  apart from her personal fitting alterations ). I narrowed the sleeves so they were more slim fitting . I also finished the neckline with concealed bias binding rather than it showing and using another sewing pattern added a wide sash. 

Also because we were using the sweetheart neck line bodice I had  to make some construction changes  - the bodice was fully self lined and then hand tacked to the lace. We were both mainly happy with the finished result but I should have also shortened the bodice for her and if I make this again I would consider sewing the lace and satin skirts separately .



We had a lovely night and I will have everlasting memories of my daughter running around the room  laughing and giggling  collecting about 30 helium filled balloons at the end of the night.


Saturday, 18 October 2014

I Have Piles - aka New Look 6022

pattern piles !

 At the beginning of the year I had a few sewing goals.
1. to continue to take my time when sewing and do the best possible job I can.
2. attempt some new sewing techniques.
3. reduce my pattern piles.
4. reduce my fabric stash.
Unfortunately I failed in the last two months with the final goal ( I was doing so well until September - oh well there is always 2015. )
I was about to tackle my pattern pile but my middle daughter threw a spanner in the works and announced only three weeks ago she wanted me to make her valedictory dinner dress !
So in between toiles and fittings etc I snuck in a quick top and finally started to rectify those painful piles ( sorry a little bit of doctor humour - sick I know - I will  stop now trust me ).


I chose to use my Tendances Couture magazine . This is a french magazine I bought last year in Paris for the princely price of  6.5 euros or about $10 AUD. It contains 13 different New Look and Simplicity patterns so is  an absolute bargain. It seemed to be available from just about every train station and little newsagents that frequently lined the city  streets.
It is of course all in French but unlike other pattern magazines every pattern has diagrams of all the steps .
Also after getting two different opinions from french speakers ( including a genuine Frenchman - ooh la la ! ) we worked out the patterns do include seam allowances.

 I choose New Look 6022 using a loud large printed cotton voile remnant  Mum gifted me. I don`t usually use such prints but after a very wet dreary winter this material was very cheery .It depicts tropical beaches with palm trees and flowers. How summery is that !
This pattern is for tunics and dresses with a pleated scoop neck and sleeve variations. I used the shoulder pleated sleeves with a central lower gathering ( created by sewing stretched elastic to the fabric ).
I was worried the sleeves would be too puffy which reminds me of little girl dresses but perhaps because the fabric is so thin they worked out fine. However the scoop neck is quite low and shoulders narrow so if I ever sew this again I would raise the neckline and make the shoulder wider. Also I can get the top on easily without needing the back opening so I would just cut the back on the fold .

pleated scoop neckline finished with bias binding 
gathered edge of the sleeve topped with a shell button 
Despite this I am happy with the top and it will be perfect for our hot summer days.

PS I have also finished sewing my daughters valedictory dress and just have to convince her try it on so I can get a pic.
Have a happy weekend. Janine.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Burda 10/2004 - Flappy Love Jacket .

Apparently DH the photographer doesn`t think I need the top of my head. 


Finally finished my jacket and just in time to catch the last of the cold weather .
This plush soft red fine cord came from Clear It  in February this year . I was lucky and got the last end bit. However this limited what pattern I could use. I debated a few patterns but finally chose Jacket 110 from Burda WOF dated October 2004 ! Almost up to date for me .
I loved all the flappy bits on this jacket - some useless - the R front flap , pocket flaps and some useful - the hidden zip placket and lower button  tab  . It also has pockets in the front princess seams.

I was lucky because this pattern was the pattern in pink sewing course but there were still a few  brow furrowing , head scratching moments . Many of the instructions were illustrated and there were more written  details BUT I discovered a mistake in the separating  zip application - luckily  I had only tacked half of it in before I realised the error.
I have never sewn a hidden zip placket before but once that was complete the rest of the construction was basic. I did not sew the cuffs ( I just lengthened the sleeves )  or add the shoulder tabs because I only had four of my lovely buttons recycled from a jacket I sewed in the 90s. Also I sewed this a size larger than usual because the jacket looked very slim fitting on the model and I want to wear this over cardigans and jumpers . The jacket feels about right for this but the shoulders were too long so I had to shorten them . The jacket , pockets  and right front flap are lined in just a plain black lining .

Flappy love. 

I love these buttons .

I am right pleased with this jacket  but  glad its over . ( I tend to get a bit bored if projects go on too long )
Also I have almost finished reading a kindle book so I am in that exciting place where I get to choose all new projects- yay -  Now I just need to  ignore that large pile of mending glaring at me .
Happy Sewing Janine.

PS - I`ve been told by Bruna from sewing group  that the front flap is actually to stick the end of a gun there so it doesn`t get wet or whatever . So still useless to me : )

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Butterick 5523 - Black and White and Red All Over.


I am getting to the last of my  winter sewing now. I bought this soft viscose lycra knit earlier this year and had a hard choice with what to do with it - there were a few patterns I wanted to resew  but I finally chose Butterick 5523 . I sewed this a few years ago  using an animal print and loved the result but the fabric was not really my thing . 
This dress is really comfy . I wore it to work today and it felt like I was wearing nothing ! 
It is also very easy  to  sew - in fact the hardest thing about this dress was taking the photos using the self timer .  I had returned home from work and wanted to take photos before I ate lunch - a sure fire recipe for disaster with me - eating and wearing my work clothes - guaranteed stains and slops . I took heaps of photos and this is the best one and only because I have the top 1/2 of my cute  little dog in it  ( Don`t be fooled by his appearance  though - he`s a little ratbag but I love him ) . 



tried to show a closer up shot of the pleats and fabric. 

Back to the sewing - as I said it is a very easy pattern - a draped collar , fitted above waist bodice with pleats in the front and back skirt and small pleats in the sleeves where they meet the shoulder seams. 
I did make a few changes with this pattern - I raised the neckline by 3cm , lengthened the sleeves by several cms so they would be full length and also lengthened the skirt ( but I could probably shorten it again ) .
The end result is the my kind of clothing - comfortable and relaxed but I think smart enough for my  work. Anyway I am now in the home stretch for sewing my winter jacket and then I am dreaming about sewing an easy bright cheerful summer tunic . 

Cheers Janine
PS - I saw this same fabric available on the knitwit website . 


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Japanese Cotton Sewing - Kwik Sew 3026 and Knipmode May 2012.

I added sleeve tabs so I can the wear the top with sleeves up or down. 

Last year my eldest daughter took a gap year after finishing secondary school  and travelled to Japan for several months , came home for 4 days and then took off again to Peru ( talk about how to cause your mother a heart attack  ! )
Anyway three years prior to that she spent three months in Tokyo on a school exchange and I muttered something about Japanese cottons . Her host mother took her shopping and  she  came home with the most lovely softest piece with a divine pattern. My DD told me how hard it was to choose because the cboices were overwhelming but I think she did a fantastic  job. This fabric went into my very special fabrics section . I wanted to sew the perfect garment that I would have for years and years  and not waste it.
Three years later and my daughter is about to go to Japan again and she mutters something about  me not having sewn up this fabric and how she wouldn`t get anymore for me . Umm was that a threat ?
 Quicker than you can say Japanese fabric I pulled it out and cut out Kwik Sew 3026 view B -a  pullover  basic shirt pattern with collar and stand, back yoke and front tab. I have made this pattern four times now so I knew it was a winner and being a basic style I would have it for the years and years that I wanted.



Obviously all went well with my daughters travels overseas and she did buy me more Japanese cotton - quite a lot actually .

Wanting to show my appreciation I sewed up one the fabrics straight away ( although eldest DD had already left at this point so she couldnt see it !) As a compromise I chose my least favourite and used a knipmode pattern from May 2012 to sew a simple yoked tunic with tabs on the lower sleeves and body .


Then while our daughter was in Peru ( Cusco and Manu National Park in the amazon ) her host brothers from Japan whom she stayed with in 2010 came to visit for one week  and they brought some more Japanese cotton for me ! That was a very interesting week because one of the brothers did not speak English and the other was learning ( and doing a great and very fast job ) and we do not speak Japanese ! Our eldest daughter is quite fluent but we got by without her and had lots of fun.

I have since used some of my Japanese cotton stash to make the lace and floral top for eldest DD which is only fair!
So I am very lucky to have a small stash of lovely Japanese fabrics  which I have again put away in my mind to be used only for the perfect project.

PS - I actually sewed this shirt last year just to clear up any confusion on time lines.
PPS - My youngest daughter is thinking about going to Japan on a school exchange so I may have to start muttering again about how lovely and special Japanese fabric is and how much I treasure it.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Vintage McCalls 5234 - The Sound of a Snail Eating.

Our last book group book was  ` The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating ` so I thought this was a good excuse as any to finally sew up my snail fabric. You see I bought this fabric in an impulsive moment because the shop was closing down and this was famed Japanese fabric - I had heard  about how terrific it was and I wanted to try some . But really - snails ?!

Crazy looking snail lady. 

My enthusiasm for this project waxed and waned. I was only half hearted to start with because of the somewhat juvenile print - I am an adult woman  - what was I thinking ? ( Mind you I still own and wear a Winnie the Pooh windcheater ) hence why I really needed a reason to sew it up .
But then after I washed the fabric I realised it was double gauze, a fabric I have never sewn before and only seen in Japan so I became excited again. The fabric feels soft but a bit spongy . It washed up well and I had no trouble with the layers coming apart.


I used a vintage pattern McCalls 5234 ( 1976 )  - a carefree pattern and at only 10 cents the pattern was almost free.
I prefer woven shirts with collars in general to knit tops ( but I sew and wear those a lot as well ) but I was a bit bored with my basic button up shirts so I was keen to try  this pattern with yokes and front pockets. And for some weird reason I was quite attracted to the pattern cover art with the over-rouged pouting and grinning models. The only change I made to the pattern was to reduce the size of  the collar - those 70s collars are huge .



Then I found the perfect matching bias binding in my mothers stash ( she must have every colour under the sun ) so I was feeling even more positive. I used the bias binding to create some flat piping to highlight the front yokes and pocket flaps  but I did not execute this very well so I started feeling blah about the project again . But I kept on going because did I mention this fabric is also the second most expensive in my stash - can you believe that ! Then, I started to feel the love again because the fabric is wonderful to sew with and  really from a bit of a distance you can`t tell they are snails and I am quite fond of orange and liked the pale blue contrasting colours. Also I found 5 orange buttons in my stash and if you really stretch your imagination they kind of look like snails as well.



I did finish the  shirt  but the final product does not quite  match what I had in my mind  .Despite that I have worn the shirt several times including to book group and it matches well with my orange cardy which I also sewed ( Butterick 5251 ) . Oh and the  book you ask ? It is written by a woman with a chronic debilitating illness which leaves her bed bound. A friend brings her a snail and she makes a home for it in a terrarium and then watches the snail because there is not much else she can do . However this book  was really  just about snails . I learnt lots of facts about snails that I never knew I needed to know. I almost started to even like the slimy things until the snail in the book goes and has over 600 babies ! Alas there were no snail elimination tips at all.


I am currently sewing a more complex Burda WOF jacket which will take a while but I am excited about . I am going to try catch up with  my sewing bloggy diary and post my other makes . I get bored of seeing the same photo when I log into my blog to look at what everyone is making !

Happy Sewing . Janine.



Saturday, 9 August 2014

New Look 6356 - Un, Deux, Trois .

 The third time making this pattern this year with a little french influence with classic navy and cream stripes with a boat neckline .  What else can I say about this pattern ?
It is quick.
It is easy .
It uses little fabric.
It  has  an easy fit - not too baggy, not too tight .


New Look 6356 is designed for wovens but this top is made from a stable single knit ( with very little stretch ) . I only needed just under one metre of 150cm wide fabric  to make this long sleeved top in size 12  . The pattern does not come with long sleeves but it is very easy to lay a long sleeve pattern under the provided sleeve piece and extend it to full length. My daughters two versions with the short sleeves only took 80cm of 115 cm wide fabric ( size 8 ) .

OK although this was ` quick and easy`  I admit to unpicking the back seam four times and the side seams twice until I could match the stripes  : o  


To spruce up the top I sewed navy bias binding over the shoulder seams  ( I had just enough of the bias trim  to bind the neck and decorate the shoulders - love that ! ) and sewed on some cute little marcasite inspired buttons cut off an old shirt.
Overall this pattern is a winner !

Happy Sewing.
Cheers Janine.