Sunday, April 25, 2010

Grey days ahead: Burda 09-2009-123

Thank you everyone for your thoughtful suggestions last post. Some great ideas that I will explore further.

My neighbour Jenni was right - I really DID want to make myself a faux fur waistcoat. For me, sewing is a hobby - I make pretty much anything I feel like. I can't bring myself to sew anything that doesn't intrigue me in some way: hey, that's what shops are for. Of course, I need to remind myself of this frequently. Because frequently I go shopping and think, "what! a hundred bucks for a merino top, I could make myself one of these for $20." That's when I need to take myself firmly in hand and say, "yes, but you won't make yourself one for $20. You'll make yourself another coat. Just you wait and see." So far I have been right. So far, I have a coat for every day of the week and am steadily progressing towards one for every day of the month.

You know, fun fur is a bit of a misnomer for this kind of fabric, because so far I'd put it top of my list of things not to sew when you're tired and frazzled. The presser foot gets stuck on the bulk and slides all over the show, it also drags on the faux suede side. I had better luck with movement when I switched to a walking foot but I still had a hard time sewing a straight seam.

If I wasn't so proud I'd show you the mess under the collar but I like to maintain the illusion that I am a sewer in control.

I am going to put some rivets to attach the ties to hold it closed. It's just still a little too warm so I'm wearing it open, but the thick fabric doesn't want to lie flat on the body. Here's the technical view which shows the ties: (courtesy of their website)

This is a really fun little waist coat. I can see myself getting lots of wear out of it - at first I was worried that with all the grey in my hair, and my skin which is also losing pigment, that it would pale me out too much. But there's a kind of resonance in repeating the colours of the body, so I think it looks OK.

I did have trouble sourcing the fabric, because although there is a lot of faux fur on the market this time of year, there's not much that also has the faux suede backing, which is necessary for this style.

You can see I diverted the FBA to a dart in the shoulder. I didn't want a side dart, because I wanted to preserve the vertical lines of fur. I thought about converting to princess seams, but as anyone who ever has to make 2 darts because of an FBA will sympathise, sometimes you really just want to make up the pattern as close to the original as possible. I shortened them as much as I could without causing a ridge.

The back: all I needed to do was shorten the darts.

Costings: Faux fur with faux suede backing on special at Smart Dress Fabrics $25, tracing paper $1, thread 50c = $26.50

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


When I was a young lass at university I made myself a couple of shift dresses. When I bought this vintage polished cotton, I though it would suit the style - it's kind of crisp, so it wants a design that needs fabric with a reasonably firm hand.

New look 6909:

So it was a little bit of a trip down memory lane sewing this dress. Only it wasn't - because when I was a young newbie sewer I did not

a) preshrink fabric
b) neaten seams
c) hand stitch hems
d) use interfacing
e) fit, tissue fit, or muslin
f) use invisible zippers
g) line
h) press
i) add wearable ease - I would have made this fitted, no, bursting.

Yes it's a wonder I wore anything at all that I made. And what's more I was SO proud of my efforts. Now I would be tsk tsking and saying as I examined a seam, "well, the main thing is that you enjoyed yourself making it."

At any rate, here it is. I have mixed feelings about it. It's very comfortable, easy to launder, with big slouchy side pockets and it's easy to wear. The print is pretty - but the thing is, it's really hard to find things to wear it with. Wear it with black and it's too hard, it's too busy with most things, and it looks silly belted (I tried) and silly with a necklace (yes I tried that too.)

The slanted pockets:

Maybe my mixed feelings come from my husband after he said, " you look like you're wearing one of those old house wives' aprons."

I'd be the first to say, "don't let anyone dictate taste to you," but it's hard to be convinced when someone else has doubts.

So then I thought, "what would Burda do?" They'd put a faux fur waistcoat over the top and accessorize with a big shiny patent leather bag and bracelets. Maybe I'll go there - maybe not.

Do you remember with fondness any of your early sewing efforts?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sexy secretary at home.

Ok nothing says "sexy secretary" like a pencil skirt, and this one from Burda magazine (05-2009-104) delivers on all fronts. Pegged in front. Check. Pegged in back causing fabric to draw back in over derriere. Check.

In addition, this pattern offers all those features that stay at home mums love: wash and wear corduroy for stains, hip pockets for toys and house keys, and a walking pleat for bend, stretch, walk and pick up.

And can I say what a joy it is to whip something up? Skirts are the time poor sewer's bestest friend. The only real hassle was making sure to match the herringbone (which is after all a stripe) front, sides and to pockets. If I had been very smug then I would have matched vertically as well, making sure the centre join formed a perfect herringbone. I'm smug, but not that smug.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Simplicity 2508 (better known as: ANOTHER COAT)

Yes I sure have been on a coat roll but that roll has now come to a standstill. Coats + toddlers who don't sleep = dissatisfaction x resentment. So it's farewell to the the coat- athon and hello to simple sewing from now on.

The back: it has one of those back band thingies - I was surprised at its high placement but this is the short coat and it would look odd at waist level.

The buttons I purchased at Salvage (a specialist vintage fabric shop here in Auckland) - I found 8 by rummaging through one of the glass jars - lucky me!

I piped the pockets and back thingy. I thought about piping a few more things but sometimes it's good to know when to stop.

I have been away for the past week in lovely sunny Nelson visiting my sister and Mum (happy birthday Mum!) The time away was wonderful and even more wonderful was sharing the care of a boisterous toddler.

Although I couldn't sew, I did pick up a few vintage patterns from the op shops and some lovely vintage fabric from Eclectic - sadly one of the pieces is moth eaten - something I quickly checked for in the store but didn't do the acid test which is holding it to the light - but I was in love - so in love with the fabric and we all know - love, even fabric love, is blind.

From left to right: polished cotton (Eclectic) houndstooth pinwale cord (Salvage) moth eaten rayon which I will carefully cut around (Eclectic). So expect to see these lovely prints made up some time soon(ish).