Sunday, October 31, 2010

Have you seen 'Eat, Pray, Fall asleep' or whatever it's called? (I dragged my poor husband to it who would have walked out if he could, "vacuous self indulgent nonsense.") I did enjoy it, I have to confess, in a vacuous self indulgent kind of way and I did like her shirt dress with thin belt, large earthy hessian sack looking bag and roman sandles in her Italian stage, and decided that was a look I could easily replicate. Me, I do love a good shirt dress.

Burda 06-2008-108

The sleeve is simply adorable:

The technical view - I left off the elastic frankly there was no spare fabric under the bust to pull back in!

This is, in fact, another muslin. I have been making a lot of wearable muslins recently, because I've realised it's such a good idea to wear something for a day to find out not only how it looks, but how it functions. There are 2 immediate changes I would make to this - I forgot that a full bust takes up both width and length, and I have to shorten back the front tucks by an inch. Also, I'd add some side pockets - I always need to carry a tissue and keys. I'd also consider putting the elastic at waist level, instead of empire line level.

This is my incentive to make a muslin: this beautiful silk satin, it's quite heavy, with a lot of body, almost twill like in its weight, but without the diagonal weave.

So hopefully soon we will have shirt dress by day, and shirt dress by night.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Getting acquainted with La Mia Boutique

Dress (LMB 10-2010 #37 )with hood has gathered shoulder seams, elongated arms and ruched lower side seams:

Well it's Labour Weekend here where people all over the country celebrate the 40 hour working week. Parents will drool at the idea. I have had some more sewing time though so here's my weekend's effort.

Another muslin. The tricky thing about sewing in opposite seasons is that you are dying to make something but can't reasonably expect to wear it for another half year. Because my LMB is air freighted it is exactly 6 months ahead. Burda is shipped to NZ, which takes 2 months, and so by the time you actually get round to making anything you are pretty much ready to wear it.

I decided I did want to break the ice with my LMB and thought I'd give this easy knit a crack in a light polycotton knit, instead of a winter wool. I thought I might try it as a sporty summer look - a knit dress with a tee and leggings underneath and birkenstocks.

As always, there are challenges to surmount:

First of all, there was the small matter of translating the instructions. I faithfully typed them in to Google translate.

Google translate:
curl your shoulders behind the front with a running stitch, petit point, to match those of the back.

Translation of the translation: gather the front shoulder with gathering stitches until it measures the same length as the back shoulder.

Google translate: sewing the two sides of the cap along the center line, press the edges together to the right and hit back on the right with two stitching needles.

Translation of the translation: Sew the two sides of the hood along the centre line, press the edges to the right and topstitch down with a twin needle on the right side of the garment.

So you get the gist. Obviously Google translate's sewing vocabulary isn't that hot, but it's actually not too hard to figure out the basic idea.

I am teaching myself sewing Italian. I can now read about a quarter of the instructions without a dictionary, so I'm confident within about 6 months I'll have it mostly sussed. (I did a year of Italian at university, so the basic grammar and structure of the language is familiar to me, it's really just a matter of picking up the specialist vocabulary)

I have to say the designs have grown on me a great deal. It's definitely a magazine aiming to appeal to the hip and cool. I'd say it's marketed at the 20 -30 year old fashion aesthetic but that's OK by me, I know how to nanna things up.

My husband gave this dress the thumbs up. "It's modern." My husband is no fashion expert, in fact sartorially speaking he's a pretty simple guy. That's why his opinion is so useful. He thinks it either looks good, or bad, and it's really that simple.

Oh and thank you for all your advice on my last dress. I'll give your suggestions a try.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

All's well that ends better

Hot Patterns 1080

A number of you asked about the ending of the last post and I did elaborate in comments, but if you missed the end of the story, it went like this: I told the woman my name, watched her face fall as she joined the dots and smirked to myself as she made a hasty exit. Obviously the episode unnerved me, but not overly, because actually her actions set in motion a series of events that lead me to the man I eventually married. So all is well that ends better.

Which is what can also be said of this bag. It's taken me forever to make it. If you'll forgive the pun, the instructions on this Hot Pattern left me real cold. I nearly ditched it half way through it was not coming together in a way I was liking, but I was using more of the leather from Nick's and I'd hate for Skippy to have died in vain. (There is something about sewing leather that brings you so much closer to its origins than say, just buying a leather handbag; it also makes it impossible to throw a bad project out.)

In fact, the perfectionist in me sat down and wrote 2 pages of edits to send to the designer, but all I'll probably end up doing is sending them an email that says, "did you ever get anyone to trial these instructions?"

At any rate, I totally love the bag, as I am huge fan of Vivienne Westwood.

The original:

The Hot Patterns' hommage:

Shall we now have a good look at what they did right? I love the internal pockets, the shape and style of the bag, and its size. It's handy it can be hand carried or over the shoulder. I love that they used the cool parts of the original bag - the shaped handle pieces, and the corner protectors.

Really useful internal pockets:

On the other hand, the handles are awkward and would be much better rotated on D-rings. This construction technique doesn't work so well on such a light bag where the cording is not well supported, and the handles are so big.

The weight of these handles really pulls the front out and they sit awkwardly when the bag is put down:

Also they have you bind the inside with bias tape rather than attach a separate lining. Much harder, much messier. Avoid if possible. Those are my big gripes, but I have lots of smaller ones too - cough cough 2 pages worth, to be precise.

For those of you who have sewed the Amy Butler Weekender bag, it is a much harder bag to sew than that, and frankly it needn't have been. That's the sad part, I could be making more Hot Patterns stylish bags, but I'm too scared to, if this bag is anything to go by.

This bag is my first foray into Spring/Summer sewing, gingham and beige say warmer weather to me. They also say "boring" so I have to find a way to spice this bag up a little. When I first showed this to my husband, he said, "oh it's lovely, it's about time you got yourself your own toilet bag."

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Skirt for Aunty (Burda 07-2010-126)

Dress for niece: (Burda 11-2008-139)

I had always hoped to have a little girl to sew dresses for. Now that I have actually sewed a little girl's dress for my niece I am supremely grateful I had a boy. I made so many mistakes on this dress - in too much of a hurry - to have it finished on time, and frankly, to have it finished so I could go back to sewing for me me me.

First of all, I mistook centre front for the side front and cut the pleats the wrong way round. That was no big deal, what was a big deal is I sewed the bodice front to the back, and vice versa, so that the zipper did up on the front! There was just no ignoring that error. That's when I gave myself a good talking too, slowed down, recut and resewed the bodice pieces, and thanked god for my little boy.

For those of you who love to see a smug sewer get their come-uppance:

Once I finished that little piece of sewing I liked the idea of giving myself a "project runway" type challenge. Make something for a little girl; using little girl's pattern and fabric as inspiration, sew something for a big girl. I decided I liked the idea of the sewn down pleats, and would use the leftover pieces of fabric to sew myself a spring skirt.

Burda 07-2010-126

The wind is blowing out the back pleats here, but you get the idea:

From the front:

The welt pockets are cut on the bias and set into the side seam, inserted hard up against the invisible zip. A pain to sew and you don't really every get to see them, so let's call them, "the why bother welt?"

Yes, there is a pocket behind that welt:

Sometimes we moan about things only to have something worse happen and realise our former gripes were so small and petty. Whatever I have complained about Burda instructions in the past (and their welt pocket instructions on this skirt are as incomprehensible as ever), it pales in comparison to working with instructions in Italian. It's all about perspective.

And how's this for perspective. Yesterday I took my son to a park to play. I bumped into an old work colleague there who had had a drunken fling with my boyfriend at that time. She looked at me and said, "I know you from somewhere, what's your name again?"

See, it's all about perspective.