Monday, January 31, 2011

The Macaron Dress

This dress is the result of my growing interest in what I call "having a dialogue with the fabric."

I say, "how do you want me to make you up?"
It said, "Macaron dress please."
I said, "well you've sure got expensive tastes coz that's gonna cost me a bomb to import."
It said, "but I'm worth it."

And it was.

Pockets in action:

Details follow of FBA for Macaron Dress if you need to add more fullness to both upper and lower bodice pieces:

1. Overlap upper and lower bodice pieces 3 cms centre front (to remove the seam allowance, this will be an approximation because of the curved pieces) Trace the new piece ready for manipulation.

2. Do your FBA, mark your bust apex and shift darts accordingly.

3. Mark where the front upper bodice must meet the back so that the pieces match at the side seam (here you can see how the pieces meet under the arm)

4. Use your french curve to mark the new cutting line.

5. Cut and add new seam allowances to the cut pieces.

6. Make sure to alter the waistband piece and skirt pieces the same amount so that all pieces fit together.

7. Compare your pieces with original and sigh the sigh of she who must always spend hours altering patterns.

Edited to add a better picture of the fabric:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

On Op shops and tank tops

I love op shopping (charity or thrift stores) and there's nothing I like better than a fabric bargain, so you can imagine the thrill I got the other day when I was in the op shop and the assistant said to me, "oh we've got a new lot of fabric out the back that I haven't had a chance to sort yet, would you like to have a look through?"

Would I like to have a look through? Pa ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

I got seven marvellous pieces that cost me all of $9, but I felt a bit guilty and made a donation on top because buying them that cheap felt like one step removed from shop lifting.

And here's another funny op shop story for you. I had just finished going through the fabric box when a woman approached me and said, "I don't know what the etiquette of this is, but I read your blog." Way hey hey, my 15 seconds of fame. I milked it for all it was worth when I got home. "I'm too famous to do the dishes." And when my son pushed me out of the room so he could have his Dad all to himself I said, "mobbed by fans."

That's NZ for you though - it's really just one big village.

Now some of you are bound to find this very silly but the new pair of white trousers features underpants on the pockets. I got to thinking about how one reason people don't wear white jeans is the knicker show through - then I thought, why not make a feature of that and pretend like you can see my nanna knickers on the back. So I designed these full briefs with low cut legs and decorative elastic. No need to worry about visible panty line now. The great thing is that to a casual observer they'll just look like a series of decorative lines, but once you know what they are, that's all you can see.

One of my sisters was curious to know why I didn't go whole hog and put a thong or y fronts on, but that would cross the line from smirkery to mockery. Keep it smart, keep it subtle.

I also thought the whole white dirt thing is no big deal either. It's just like linen that never looks ironed, white never looks clean.
"oh gosh, look at all those marks, so dirty already" and that could be 5 days later. Truth be told they are filthy in 20 seconds flat. What's more white doesn't even stay white in the wash. If you think these look light blue, guess which idiot put them in with a non colourfast blue tee? That's right, that idiot was ME.

Next to blue, they still look white though, but Gail was right - that 2% elastane has taken these pants up a half size. I now have to wear them with a belt! Still, when I sit down, I am loving that extra room.

(top: Burda 07-2010-121, jeans Burda 7738).

I am working on the navy tank and in theory it should be an evening's work but it's taking forever. Sewing two jackets and two pairs of jeans in 3 weeks has knocked it out of me. So here I am struggling to the end of this outfit over a simple tank top.

Them's the breaks.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The white jean - Burda 7738

This gives you a better idea of the leg shape:

I love these white jeans but they have one fault. Christmas has been and gone and left its 'adieu' on my waistline. They are fine for everyday use but boderline comfortable after a meal and sitting down. Considering I made these to wear to a wedding, where there will be a lot of sitting, and some rather immoderate eating, I am going to have to make these again a size larger at the waist.

Still I had fun and that's all I ask when sewing. Do you like my back pockets? I thought I was very clever until I did some online shopping and found every designer in the country is flogging these motifs. (NZers will instantly recognise them as being Kowhai and a fantail,, you did, didn't you? Mothers the world over will recognise the nutella stain next the pocket, sigh, already yes only a day into wearing)

I love the idea of the Stitcher's Guild wardrobe competition which requires every item to have a technique to master. I thought I'd try the RTW technique of neatening the edge and stitching in the ditch on the outside to catch the inside facing. I am hooked. It is THE way to sew fly fronted waistbands.

So I went back to buy some more white jean fabric this time some with 2% elastane. The shop I bought it from was advertising it as $19.90 a metre down from $49.90. Yeah right, like someone would pay $50 a metre for denim! I felt like saying to the woman, "who do you think it going to fall for this outrageous piece of false advertising," but probably they think anyone wanting to sew white denim had a few brain cells missing anyway. Besides, best not bite the hand that sells you fabric.

Righty ho - back to the sewing machine. Choppity chop, just a week now to sew another pair of jeans and make the sleeveless navy tank.

PS my Queensland sewing buddies - I am shocked and appalled by what is happening in your state. My thoughts are with you.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Second time lucky (no really, this time)

Burda 06 -2010- 114


The buttons and lining - the buttons are vintage and the lining is viscose from the Zambesi fabric sale ($2 a metre, read it and weep).

Well this is my second attempt at this post, the first I took down because of technical difficulties, so it really is second time lucky on all fronts!

After wearing my "test garment" (thank you Gail) for a day I was able to adjust the fit. The shoulders formed creases where my shoulder was narrower than the pattern, and so I just creased them out! The front kept sliding off, so I increased the FBA on the side part with the hope the deeper cut would make it stay put. It doesn't. Hmm. More to learn.

I then wanted to make another test garment, to see if these changes were enough, and then I remembered the story of Borana. My brother was really into horse racing as a teenager and one year he predicted a rank outsider, called Borana, would win the trotting cup. He talked of nothing else the week before, but at the last minute, when he saw the odds were 76-1 he lost faith and put his money on the favourite. Coming into the last lap Borana was last, but put on a brave sprint to win the cup. It still stands as one of the highest payouts to win on the trotting cup and my brother was guttered.

Although I remember feeling upset for him at the time I think the biggest killer was losing faith in his own judgement in the face of a strong consensus believing differently.

The moral of the story for me is that sometimes you have to trust what you believe and take a chance, and so I took a deep breath and cut into the silk dupioni.

Because it was silk I had a go at underlining the fabric instead of interfacing. I used cotton batiste, cut out all the outside shell pieces, put them together with the silk, rolled them over a magazine along the grain line for turn of cloth and pinned out the excess. I then handbasted all the pieces together, after removing the hems to avoid a double layer at the bottom.

It was long and it was tedious. Was it any better than interfacing? No idea, but it took twice the time.

I am making this jacket as part of an ensemble to wear to a family wedding. The really nice thing about this wedding is that it is not the first marriage of either party. Whatever the reasons people marry again, either through death or divorce, you can be sure that between the first and subsequent marriages there has been a lot of heartache. For this reason I find these kinds of weddings even more sweet that first time affairs, because it speaks of resilience and hope and life going on.

I was so pleased to be able to use this silk. I bought it in a closing down sale, because I loved the colour but silk dupioni has to be made very carefully because it's another fabric that can be very aging if the pattern is too conservative or expected. I thought this pattern was edgy enough to take the dentures out of the fabric and reveal its pearly lustre.

So now it's on to the other parts of this wedding outfit ensemble - the white flares and navy tank. I have the white fabric ready and its a rich buttery off white. It will be soon made into a flared jeans. Women who wear white jeans have a certain rep in this country but I'm sure no-one will be thinking anything untoward when it is paired with silk dowageroni.

I have styled this with a navy tee and some jeans so you can get the idea of where I'm heading with this. You may have doubts about this concept and frankly so do I. There's just one word that keeps me going, "Borana".

Monday, January 3, 2011

The art of the wearable muslin

Happy New Year everyone! May your sewing be fun and your work wearable. Now how's that for a sewing blessing?

I have loved this jacket (BurdaStyle 06-2010-114) for quite some time, and while I was in sunny Nelson, far from Internet access and a sewing machine, I kept thinking how I'd love to make it in silk dupioni, and wear it with white flares and a navy blue tank top. I could not get the image out of my head, and so the quest to make the whole outfit as I see it in my mind's eye was born.

I wanted to muslin it first, as there are a number of areas I thought might get me into trouble and I was right. My preference is for wearable muslins, because I don't like wasting my time or my resources and a jacket is pretty big time investment to go straight to the bin.

The secret to a wearable muslin is to choose fabric with a similar hand so it will behave in similar ways to your final fabric but to create a different mood to it by using fabric which makes a different statement.

I therefore decided to make this muslin a relaxed summer jacket by making it unlined, unbuttoned, and using some more of the cotton linen blend I used for my cargo pocket skirt.

I used Gigi's Hong Kong finish tutorial to finish the facings and hems, but overlocked all the princess and side seams as they were too curved to take a binding treatment, and I needed to be able to alter them for fit at a later stage.

The instructions on this jacket were as clever as they were indecipherable. When I finally understood what they were telling me to do I felt so smug. For example, in order to get the front lapel to sit flat they get you to pin the roll line....

...then roll the roll line and then pin the edges and sew using the outer edge as the guide. isn't that a clever way for a hobby seamstress to master the art of turn of cloth without having to draft anything?

The shoulders and raglan sleeve are dramatically curved which makes fitting difficult - the pattern calls for raglan shoulder pads to support the area so leaving them out was problematic.

So here is my first item for 2011. I am very happy with it!

I have been falling behind in my commenting - like many other bloggers I am finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with what everyone is doing! Please know that I still love what you are making and read with interest - if I don't leave a comment it's not because your post or sewing is undeserving and I hope you feel free to do the same with my blog.