Monday, September 27, 2010


Thanks to Michelle for this award. So sweet of you to think of me!

Now I am supposed to write 10 things about myself that you wouldn't otherwise know.
1 I was raised as one of nine children.
2 I have a strong dislike of second hand clothing. For the reason why, see 1 above. (I was 8th position).
3 My undergraduate degree is in Classical languages.
4 If you start a sentence, "the amount of people that" and someone corrects you with "the number of people who" and you want to know who is right, I am your woman. I taught English grammar for years.
5 I have always loved crafts, long before they were popular. The moniker "Mary Nanna" was given to me by a friend who was mocking my love of these old fashioned arts.
6 I still meet my friends for dinner on Thursday, as I have done every Thursday for the last 7 years. It's a good ritual to have - then you don't have to get over the inertia of "let's catch up" - you've got a catch up automatically programmed into your life (and a child free evening out once a week).
7 I have one child.
8 I don't like driving.
9. I don't like my husband's driving. (He's an Aucklander, which makes him an Auckland driver)
10. I lurve deeply - and with all of my being - coffee.

And now I am supposed to pass this on to 5 people, but I always find these things hard to do. That would show favouritism, and as middle child, every thing has to be FAIR. So if you would like to run with this, pick it up and off you go!

In other news, just when I had given up hope of my La Mia Boutique ever turning up, it turned up! First impressions mixed. For a start, I was really surprised by the fit and construction. Very home sewn, and I don't mean that in a good way. The patterns are a mix of modern youth, European high fashion (ie kook) factor, and sweet. There are about 40 patterns per issue, with a sprinkling of children and plus size in the mix. There are about 4 sizes per pattern 38,40,42,44 or variations on that theme. It appears to be an all round "women's" magazine, with horoscopes, beauty advice and recipes added to the mix. Also, like Ottobre magazine, all clothes are 'wardrobe' ensembles - in other words, you can make every part of the outfit - the skirt, the top, the jacket all will be patterns within the magazine.

Some of the patterns really intrigue and I can absolutely see this adorable jean jacket in my future:

Here's the first page of the technical drawings:

Some fairly wonky decorative tape application. I actually find this quite affirming:

No one say "unmatched plaid":

And this is just crying out for a broad/square shoulder alteration and a high chest alteration:

I can see I am going to get a lot of entertainment out of this magazine, one way or another. It does go to show how much Burda is in a class of its own when it comes to finishing, fabrics and styling.

I may flirt with other European magazines, but I can see that Burda will be my one true love.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The mop top

My life is fairly constrained at the moment. The only place that I can really run free is the sewing room, so it's no wonder the styles I'm choosing from Burda just keep getting more unusual. The more limiting my external circumstances become, the greater the risks I like to take with sewing.

Take this blouse for instance (Burda 07-2010-121). I think the shoulder ruffles and the line across the fullest part of the bust would have had me running scared in a previous life, and for good reason. This time they sang sweetly like a Siren to a sailor. I have nicknamed this top, "the mop top" because the ruffles remind me of, well, a mop.

I made a few adjustments to the pattern and sewed it up - it's a very fast and easy sew too might I add. I used some vintage buttons - I bought a box of them off Trademe (NZ's answer to Ebay) and ended up with over a thousand of them, mostly white.

Some might say "fashion forward" but I say "kooky, but in a good way." That's Burda for you. It never ceases to amaze me when a new issue of Burda arrives what I end up sewing. The first time I look though I usually say, "nothing for me this month, too weird" and then, as they say, "the eye adjusts" and before you know it, the style starts to look interesting.

My intention with this blouse was to use it as a kind of wearable muslin - if it looked any good I'd take it further with better fabric, but I made a good job of this one in case this is as far as it got.

I think this is as far as it will get.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The "otagaroo" bag.

This bag is a great "pick-me-up" in every sense of the phrase - it lifts the spirits and being a carry bag it needs to be, well, picked up.

We have moved from cold grey wet days to warm wet grey days so a little colour is just what the doctor ordered.

I made it with the last scraps of my Otago tartan (my hometowm province) and some leather I got from Nicks. Australian readers may wish to skip the rest of this paragraph. When I got the leather I was super impressed by its thick even skin and evenly tanned hide. I looked at the skins a few times, and I know this sounds macarbre, I couldn't work out what animal it had once been by looking at the shape. (I don't look at meat in the supermarket the same way, you'll be pleased to know, but I have been inured to the origins of meat and I am still somewhat hesitant (guilty?) about the origins of leather). It turns out my piece of leather had once been a kangaroo. I find this a little disconcerting. Any Aussie friends who read this far may share this unease. I'll say one thing for it though- it sews up a dream and is great to work with.

I made up the bag in this Burda pattern (Burda 7684). It has some really nice features but I did change construction somewhat since their bag is not strong enough to hold its own weight and I wanted it to be self-supporting. This meant that I interfaced it with bag interfacing and then interlined it with canvas, before sewing in super strong nylon lining. I was grateful that I'd sewed my Amy Butler weekender bag earlier because I stole a lot of her construction techniques in favour of the Burda ones. Burda is still great on detail, not always so hot on instructions.

Speaking of great detail I put on the tab as instructed but I have no idea if I put in on the right end or even the right place. I couldn't figure out its function still being rather innocent in the ways of bag making. The way I've put it on makes it look like a tail hiding a butt hole.

I'm not really an accessory gal and about bags I am especially lazy since it means shifting everything out of one bag and into another. This bag will either get used to death or never at all. I managed to get one shot in before the rain started again harumph! So here it is debuting as wet weather stalwart:

Monday, September 13, 2010

A happy day

I had a lurvely day yesterday. We had a family outing in the morning, and then my husband dropped me off at the Vintage textile fair at the racecourse in Greenlane. I got off to a fabulous start, scoring 3 yards of cotton drill and 2 and 1/2 yards of wool rich paisley (I think it's a wool/cotton mix) for $15 the lot (that's around $10 US). Then I got another 2 yards of wool rich print for $10 (US $6) and stocked up on some vintage buttons. I scored myself a cute little bag, which I have been coveting ever since I saw one at a friend's house and was quite content with my haul. On the way out I bought a 3 1/2 yards of pinwale needlecord for $35 (US $20) - that was a fair price for vintage cord. Printed pinwale cord is IMPOSSIBLE to buy here, so I allowed myself to pay the going rate for it. Not often you'll see a sentence like that on this blog, so savour the moment all ye so jealous of my bargains.

Some of my finds:

Of course, being vintage fabric they are all only a yard (90cms) wide - which limits how they can be made up. I will have to have a long serious talk with these fabrics and listen very very carefully.

In the evening I worked on that skirt, you know the one that everyone has made. (Burda 04-2009-101)

My sister asked me to trace it for her ages ago, and I finally found the motivation I needed when I realised I could make it for myself and then send her the pattern afterwards. Boy the instructions on this pattern are crazy, the worst maybe ever. I didn't use them, something I am trying to do more and more now as I prepare myself for La Mia Boutique whose instructions I have no chance of understanding.

My poor sister, this will be her first Burda pattern, and everything I have ever complained about with their instructions will have a new meaning for her. I am expecting a lot of phone calls. Still it's a very cute skirt.

I haven't been very vigilant with my costings recently so let me treat you once again to my bargain hunting skills. Denim, $4 Nicks, vintage buttons $4, zipper 70 cents, tracing paper $1. Thread and needles $2, facings, scraps. Top stitching thread left over from another project. Shall we call that a round $12 ? (US $8).

Aah, yesterday was a very happy day indeed.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The 'trench' cardy

Burda 04-2010-117

This cardy has sat on my dress form all week, awaiting buttons - that's all that was required to finish it. I've always said that sewing takes free energy, not free time, and my spare time is more "energy free" than "free energy".

At any rate, here it is. I've been playing with the idea of working with how the fabric wants to be made. I sit with the fabric in my hand and close my eyes and say "fabric, speak to me, how do you wish to be sewn."Actually I don't, the truth is worse than that. I hold it to my forehead and let it talk straight to my third eye. Pa ha ha had you for a second, no it's just more of a gut feeling thing.

I had a gut feeling to make this into a 'man cardy' - it's the shade of green, I think. My original idea was to use leather buttons but once I'd worked out how to draft a self fabric band I realised that my buttons were the wrong size for it, so I decided to turn into a 'trench style' cardy with a belt, wrist band and epaulets as nods to the trench, as well as some trench style buttons I scored at a second hand shop.

To make the self band I borrowed the instructions from this 1986 Vogue pattern, which I picked up from the Red Cross shop. Funny how those big shoulders are back again, personally I think they should have stayed in the 80's where they belonged.

Still, the pattern had its uses.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ever wondered who makes those really kooky Burda patterns?

Burda 04-2010-104:

Wonder no more:

This pattern is super kooky, even by Burda standards. Big ruffle, check. Small mandarin collar, check. Boufy skirt, check. Lacy shoulder decoration, check. There's a whole lot of look going on here. I did exercise some restraint and ditched the ruffles.

Verdict: I love it. Husband's verdict: matronly. Gathers at the waist are not everyone's best look. Actually even the uber slender Burda model looks dorky in this. No matter. When the weather heats up I can see me getting some decent wear out of this, although I can JUST imagine some smart kid at the playground whispering, "Mum, why does that woman have a doily on her shoulder?"