Thursday, July 28, 2011


In terms of loving generous sewing for others I score pretty low. I don't make anything for my son, and charge my husband to take up his trousers (in child free time, the best kind of payment).

So I'll keep this brief: I made these for a friend for her birthday because I knew she'd love the print - it's original 1950's linen from the deceased estate sale that I made you all envious about. Want to hear more to be envious about? 6 metres for $5. I split the fabric with my sister though, because she also loved it.

The pillows are very simple - piping on the outside, one grey the other red/black, invisible zipper on the back.

You have got to love the speed of a craft project don't you? I made these in 2 afternoons while I supervised my son on some highly educational computer programs. Not even evil TV babysitting! Smugger and smugger!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Explorations in the ugly aesthetic: the brocade bomber

Post editing note - added some clearer photos - and yes Neighbourhood gal - it's super comfy, and yes Audrey you are so right - I am going to flog this jacket till it's threadbare.

Burda 10-2009-129

Here I am in my latest creation, the brocade bomber. In case you think I whipped this up in the last 24 hours, rest assured, I had 95% finished it before I went on holiday last week.

I didn't consult my inner taste guide for this one. I knew it would say, "no way" and I SO wanted to make it.

The fabric came from Nick's. I managed to talk my son into going to a fabric shop. Normally he says, "no fabric shop, no thank you." The power of food bribes has dimished considerably since his diet regime began because there's not much incentive in a carob tofu ball. However this time I bought out the big guns and offered him a preservative sugar free fruit juice in exchange for 5 minutes in the shop. I also told him he could choose some fabric.

He picked up a bolt off the table and lugged it to the counter.
"This one" he said.
"What is it I'm buying", I asked Jamie, the store manager. He cut a strip and burned it. He cut another strip and burned and smelled it some more.
"well it's not polyester rubbish," he said, "I don't know what it is."

What it turned out to be was Donna Karan Viscose/wool/acetate/polyester and it retails for $48 a metre at Global Fabrics. You can go and buy yourself some now, if you want. Sadly Nick's has run out of it at $4 a metre, otherwise I'd be letting you all in on it.

Nice one son, very classy.

Anyway, I felt since the fabric was so cheap that it wouldn't hurt to take a few risks, since I would lose nothing but my time and I was sure to have fun on the way.

I wanted to keep the fabric as whole as possible, and to make something that allowed it to drape. I also felt something this decorative would need a fairly casual style otherwise it would be too formal for everyday wear. Hence the bomber jacket. My only real concern was the lack of shaping which is not the most flattering look for curves.

How casual? Casual enough for the zipper just to be plonked down on top of the front:

And here we have it! It's nice to make things once and a while that are not your "colour" and not for your "body shape" - it beaks the monotony of dressing by numbers. It's also good to do it only once a while, otherwise you have a wardrobe of things you feel slightly leary of.

Close up of fabric and welt pockets - these ones are quite easy.

For me, the secret to pulling off "nana chic" sucessfully will be to restrain it so that the reference is clear but the look is not too aging.

Here's the back - that's where the blouson really comes into its own:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

As fresh as a summer's day, in the middle of winter.

As you know, I am a huge fan of shirt dresses. This one from Burda (04-2011-108) is everything I ask from a shirt dress, except the season. I had hoped that I could kind of pull this off as a winter look because I was too impatient to wait for summer.

The fabric is a vintage sateen and come summer, come sandals and tan, it'll be just the picture.

Meanwhile I still have hopes for this pattern as winter wear in a fabric that looks, well, more wintery.

With cardy and coat:

The weather? oh windy and grey today, again:

Close up of fabric and vintage buttons:

And here are my fabric puchases from a vintage sale in sunny Nelson, where we were on holiday last week. Melissa (of Tiny Happy fame) sent my sister an email telling her of a private vintage fabric sale. Wasn't that nice of her, me, I might keep that kind of information pretty tight. As it was, there was plenty for everyone, so much so, I even considered going back. But that would be greedy. Such restraint, only 10 happy pieces came to their new home.

On a side note, I have to say, the private sale was a deceased estate and this woman had stash like you would not have believed. It would break my heart to go to my grave with all that fabric unused. She had collected enough for her executors to run a 3 day sale. Unbelievable. Thousands of metres of fabric.

It's now my duty to allow these fabrics to fulfill their destiny.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tweed Trousers

Burda 04-2011-104

Well hello there again. I have been sewing blog friends and family, but I have not had an Internet connection because our new provider had some problems establishing a connection.

It was good to be without the Internet - the amount of time I waste on it was highlighted by its absence when I couldn't. I must be more judicious in the future. Exposure to more things just creates a desire to possess more things. It's no wonder I have a long sewing list and a pile of fabric calling me to action. Every time I log on, I see something I must sew! An idea I must explore! A technique to be tried! And no time to do it.

We have just had the final of Project Runway season 8 here, and I know most people reading this probably watched it about a year ago but we are very far behind with TV down under.

I was really inspired by it, despite its controversial conclusion, because the designers were so true to their aesthetic and it really came as an expression and commitment to their taste and creativity.

The challenge for me as a dedicated home sewer is to create clothes that really explore my own aesthetic, which is loosely called "nana chic" - a little old fashioned, a little ugly. I love that look. It's funny and it's intriguing.

The trousers are a wool tweed, which I think you'll agree is a very nana fabric. They are too scratchy even when fully lined. I will buy some fabric conditioner next time I'm at the supermarket to see if I can tame the fibres. I had a lot of trouble constructing the front welt pockets. I read and reread and triple read and read back to front and in the mirror and still it didn't make any sense. The confusion came from the different words used to translate the different German technical terms. This pattern has obviously been flogged before (and let's face it Burda recycle their patterns frequently, very "green" of them) and so an older term "piping line" is used on the pattern, but in the magazine they use the word "welt" - so all the lines that are supposed to match up don't correspond from pattern to instructions.

Here is a construction photo to help anyone wishing to make these trousers. You sew the welt on upside down, 2 cms from the folded edge, and sew the pocket on upside down along the top edge. Then you cut down the middle and turn them both inside. Clear as mud?

4 attempts later I got what they were on about, and produced a good welt. I have a theory that the 'goats and sheep' distinction for home sewers could be welt pockets. Any reasonable sewer can produce a good welt, but only a great sewer can produce a great welt. Mine are pretty good, but there's a grand canyon between pretty good and great.

I like the cut of the trousers and am happy with them but I have struggled to style them - they seem to make everything very formal, despite the absurdity of my accessories.

The belt too silly for most tastes as it was reduced to a quarter of its original price:

And this delightful hand crocheted butterfly form Variety Handcrafts in Princess Street, Dunedin. Isn't it lovely that there are still some shops that sell this kind of stuff?

Any ideas how to funk up this look? Just a little mind, we don't want to cross the line into good taste territory.