Monday, 28 November 2011

Frabous Couture's UFO party

Oh man.

Ok well the reason this one-armed beauty is a UFO is because I made so many rookie errors with this one, then while I was musing on how best to solve it, the weather started getting too warm to wear it so I thought I'd just leave it till the fall.

And then last week it turned cold again, so I thought it might be nice to participate in Marina's party.

This is Vogue 8409.  I should have realised when Gretchen said it was a bit roomy in the bodice, but I'm a bit busty so I didn't want to take any risks.  By the time the inset had gone in, I didn't want to unpick as much as I would have to to take in at the side seam, so yeah, I tried to take in at the back seam.  Oh what a hot mess.

Also I tried to do a lapped zipper on this project.  Blame my inexperience.  Sophia doubleknit fabric is NOT the stuff to do a lapped zipper with.  

Solution 1:  Unpick and go back.
Solution 2: Buy replacement fabric and re-do the back panels.
Solution 3: Junk it, buy full amount of replacement fabric and re-do, adjusting heavily for what I'm realising is my narrow back.
Solution 4: Complete it as is (re-doing the zipper for a plain insert).

I'm going with 4, although the zipper has been chopped to waist-depth so I could lay the back seam flat - the zipper was all over the place.

OK, we're going to try it!  It actually doesn't look too bad on, and even though the zipper doesn't extend down to the hipline, it still goes on ok.   Will post back shortly!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Vivian at the Polo

Lady at polo match:  Edward is our most eligible bachelor, everyone is trying to land him.  
Vivian:  Oh, I'm not trying to land him, I'm just using him for sex.

Not long after Pretty Woman came out in 1990, I was working in a chain store and they did a knockoff of that dress Vivian wore to the polo match.  I bought one and I think I loved it to death.  It wasn't even a very true copy - it was red and in maxi length.  But I think I wore it until it fell apart.

And I've wanted another for ages.  So a couple of months ago I scoured for patterns and found one that I thought would make a good version of it.  Jewel neckline, cutaway armholes, slightly blousy in the bodice, not too much flare in the skirt.  Then I hunted for fabric - more difficult than you'd think to find brown with polka dots.  It's a little heavier than I would have wanted (I think the real one is like a silk crepe de chine maybe?) but it works ok.

I am so proud of this outfit.  I had to go hunting for the belt too - not an exact copy but good enough.  I don't have the bag!  I got very lucky with the gloves.  I was headed to my local vintage store, but decided to go to the markets nearby and hit the jackpot bigtime.  Just a basic hat that I trimmed.

I wore this dress on Melbourne Cup day.  Lots of people commented "Oh, that's the Pretty Woman dress!"  and I just love that it's recognisable like that.

I think it's a flattering and classy dress in its own right, even though it's got its story.  What do you think about wearing iconic dresses like this one?  What famous/iconic dress is on your wishlist?

Saturday, 12 November 2011

A Grand Maternity Dress

This week has been a busy one.  I had lots of good intentions for sewing projects (including getting things more organised) but work has been busy and I've been immersed in an amazing book that I can't seem to put down (Shantaram), so I didn't make as much progress as I intended to.

I did a lot of planning!  This week happens to be National Recycling Week so I wanted to do some mending, altering and upcycling.  Saturday rolled around, and I went to week 2 of my overlocker course, then I was all in the mood for an evening of sewing.

In my sister's stash (which I have) were some pieces of this cute yellow polka dot crepe.  I remember when I was a little child that fabric was in my mum's stash.  Of course, as it's recently become mine, it stood out to me in its cuteness and on inspection, I realised that it wasn't just a bit of fabric, it was unpicked pattern pieces.  No, it was an unpicked dress.  Obviously someone (I think my mum) wanted to reuse it and never got around to it.

I had started thinking about what I could possibly make with it - maybe a cute skirt, when last week my sister asked me if I could dig it out for her.  I was like, actually it's already dug out.  She's like "oh good, it was Mum's maternity dress, can you put it back together? I want to wear it". 

Of course it was a maternity dress!  That wide empire line with the pleats.  And of course, there's a good reason my sister wants a maternity dress.  How can I refuse this favour for her when she's busy making me a new niece of nephew?  Awwwwwww!

So I put together all the seams.  Thank god no one had unpicked the zipper.  Then there was the sleeves and neckline.   Hmmmm.  Long flared sleeves.  Very cute and late 1960s, but not really my sister's style, or appropriate for a Sydney summer (I think the fabric is poly).    So I had to shorten them, but there's no return from that.  I took out the pins and folded them up to try out a couple of lengths.  There was another scrap of fabric - a remnant and evidence that the original dress was handmade probably by our Mum. No facing pieces for the neckline.

I was mulling over the issue of sleeve length, texting photos to my sister.  She wanted short, not sleeveless (that was my first choice).

Then, last week Gertie posted the solution:  band sleeves!  Cute as a button.  Last night I set about making the band sleeves out of the extra piece of fabric (so the cute winter flared sleeves can still be used if we change our mind).

And here's the result:

I cured the lack of neck facing by using white bias binding, fixed up the hem and voila.  I hope she likes it!

I love that this is a "restoration" of a dress that both my sister and I have "worn" before, in a way, even before we both drew breath.  

Friday, 4 November 2011

Stash surprises

I resumed sewing around the same time as my sister decided to start decluttering.  I've inherited her stash to do what I want with and store what I don't want for her for later.

I start an overlocker (serger) course this weekend (watch this space) and needed to collect the required supplies for the class - various knits & other fabric samples.  Rather than purchasing new bits or cutting into fabric earmarked for garments, I hit my stash, and went down to the garage where a lot of the stored stuff is.  I found everything I needed... and much more.

I even found a spacebag that was my own stash from years and years ago, that I didn't realise I still had.

Amongst my own stuff and my sisters was:

 - awesome border prints;
 - some great linen including some fantastic stretchy black linen-y stuff;
 - a good sized piece of W Bill fabric that I think will make an AWESOME coat or jacket;
 - stacks of lace;
 - a glue gun!  (I'll be stunning with my love glue gunning!)
 - a couple of pieces of jewelry belonging to my sister, in her bead box, that I'm sure she'll be delighted to have back.  I got out my Tiffany polish creme and spruced up her bracelet - can't wait to give it to her;
 - heaps of cool stuff.

So I sorted out my workshop and got everything a little bit more organised.

Maybe now it's time to do some sewing. 

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Just a normal day....

Today I had 2 things to do: go to the vintage store near my suburb to find a pair of gloves to finish off my outfit for Tuesday, and go to my gig.

My day filled out so much more though.  I got off the bus to go to the vintage store, and the flea market was on nearby, so on a whim I thought I'd check there first, bound to be gloves there.  And wouldn't you know it?  One of the first places I looked, they had much nicer gloves than I was ever imagining I'd find, at far better prices than I was expecting, and..... the stallholder had beautiful old 1940s dress patterns too!  Oh I was in heaven.  I did so well.  The stallholders just offer you discounts before you even ask for them!  I ended up finding a fantastic pair of 1950s earrings too.  Conversation between me and that stallholder:

Me: How much do you want for these?
Her: $38.  Oh I'll do it for $35..... $30, but I can't go lower than that.  $28, I really can't go lower than that OK $25. 
Me: OK.

After the flea market I went to the vintage store, and will probably return for a piece of fabric they had there, I did a rough measurement of it and I've got to work out if there's enough of it for what I want to make with it to make it worthwhile buying.

Then into town, where Myer was on sale for me to stock up on stockings.

Next I was off to Lincraft who were on sale - stocked up on various bits & bobs including a lovely cotton voile which is now earmarked for Vogue 2902.  I think it's time to hit the pause button on fabric purchases for me.

In the middle of all my consuming, I saw a couple of angels in Sydney Town.  When I left Myer and was waiting to cross the road, there were two young women who appeared to be distributing good food and kind words to Sydney's homeless. There they were, like seraphs, happily chatting to the man who's always in that spot, basket of treats in hand.  He seemed so happy for the interaction and I was transfixed.  I will try to remember those 2 girls next time I hear someone criticizing gen Y (or am tempted to do so myself!) 

Next up, down to the FoW for my show.  Here's one of the songs we did today: 

Please excuse the production values - it's quite difficult to do a live recording in such a rowdy pub!

You might notice the stunning gloves I purchased earlier that day.  They are slightly sheer & cream with a little bow on the wrist. 

The guy who walks around selling roses gave me a rose!

To top off the day, a very dear friend surprised me with a visit to the pub and took me to a lovely dinner after the show.

Life is good.  Life is very good.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Picking up stitches

2011 has been the year of a lot of new changes for me.  One of them is resuming sewing as a hobby, which I hadn't done since I was a teenager, and have never done with the zeal and patience that I have for it now.

I sing in a jazz band in Sydney on Sundays, and I love to dress up in vintage styles.  I've bought a few vintage and reproduction dresses in the past.  Anyway, when you're surfing around the net looking at vintage fashion, you're bound to end up at Gertie's blog.  And end up there I did.  At the time, I was still studying whilst working full time, so I didn't really feel up to acting on the myriad inspirations I found there.  But, a seed had been planted.

This year I finished my qualification and found a great job.  Now I had no more assignments to do there was spare time to think about sewing.  And by gosh it was getting cold at the pub where I sing so I thought a long sleeved 50s style dress would do the trick very nicely.  Of course Gertie had done a marvellous proof of concept with her faux fifties dress.  Not having sewn in absolute yonks, her account of using the pattern gave me a bit of confidence to have a crack at it.  I loved the custom bust sizes on this pattern!  I made 3 muslins of the bodice (had never heard of making a muslin before discovering Gertie's site) and made it up in a blue taffeta (didn't want to use a really exxy fabric, just in case).

I was having real trouble fitting it, the sleeves felt too tight when I moved my arms but they were plenty loose enough at ease so my mum's friend came around to help me and off I went.  2 weekends later I had my dress!

Each weekend I rode out to my mum's house to use her machine as I didn't have one.

Our mum gave sewing machines to me and my sister many years ago.  Shortly after that I left mine with my sister because I wasn't using it.  I spoke to her to see where my sewing machine had got to.  She couldn't recall, so gave me hers.  I was set!

Online shopping for patterns, inheriting my sister's fabric & pattern stash, buying machine accessories.  It had started.  Even though the impetus was to be able to make vintage-style dresses, I got it into my head that I could make all my clothes.

God dang it, I would never buy ready to wear clothes again!  And you know what?  Cranky old bird that I am, I haven't.  That's a few months now.  I haven't thrown out my old things, but no new ready to wear.  It's a good feeling.

Let the adventure begin!

Hello world

Well this will be interesting.  I've intended to start a blog for years and years.  Well we all know about intentions.  And I intend to update this blog.  We shall see.

Anyway, I've been following the sterling blogs of some lovely ladies for a while and they are just so inspiring that  I just have to join in.

About me:  I'm a law-practising, jazz-singing, bike-riding, clothes-sewing, library card-carrying, piano-playing, sometimes-ranting, gal who can be a bit of a nerd.

Anyway, I've recently started posting my sewing projects on Burdastyle, but figured I could probably go into a bit more detail here, and also share my non-sewing projects too, and keep it all in the one place.

First I'll need to get myself all caught up.  This will be interesting (for me anyway)