Sunday, 29 December 2013

Koi Mini Moss

Moss selecting Liberty for Scout

With many thanks for Jen at Grainline's Thanksgiving Give Thanks pattern sale, and enabled by every blogger who's made the Moss, Archer or Scout before me….  - I've finally jumped onto the Grainline wagon with both feet and hands ;) I've added the Scout & Moss to my repertoire, while Archer & the Maritime shorts are waiting impatiently in the sewing queue ;)

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Christmas Time!!!

Happy Festive Season everyone! We celebrate Christmas with the family, but are also in the midst of birthday season ;)
This year I participated in three sewist's swaps and have met some of the most lovely and talented sewists and their blogs.

I participated in Kat's Sewist's Secret Santa and had a win! - My lovely recipient received her gift safely (big win! - and I do like meeting new-to-me bloggers!) and I received a lovely piece of vintage sewing patterned cotton/linen that I can't wait to convert to the sewing bag I've been itching to make to keep my bits & bobs organised and away from the boys. Thank You!

I was also part of the Handmade Ornament Swap organised by the lovely Kelli of True Bias who created a swap pool for us Aussies and NewZealander to save on international postage - yay! ;)
Five gorgeous ornaments arrived in my post box - snail mail!! and there was much jostling as the younger members competed to be able to open them & hang them on our rather undersized vintage tree! (ok, so they were scattered a little more for the week of Christmas!)

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Sewing from Japanese Pattern Books - DrapeDrape2

I do like the visual style of sewing from Japanese pattern books & magazines in general.
Having instructions in english doesn't seem as important when the pattern pieces fit together and there are numbers indicating the order of sewing and which bits connect where.
 - and I might just like a puzzle, perhaps ;) *

For my contribution to the Monthly Stitch for November's challenge "From a sewing book", I chose a Japanese magazine "Female", however that dress can wait for another post as I had a delightful time with DrapeDrape2.

I've previously blogged about the batwing dress of awesomeness and this time I'd love to introduce you my renditions of #2 and #4
#4 The left sleeve is a batwing with lovely draping, while the right is a more 'typical' sleeve shape

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Gertie in green

Well, spring decided to retreat again before really arriving, so sewing for cooler weather has been easier to think about as summer still seems so far away!

Woollen skirts and knee high boots have long been essential items in my winter wardrobe, however I've not tried to sew one until now. I can attest to the winter warmth of wool and leather (and the yet to be blogged leggings underneath) as I braved a windy Ballarat* day to celebrate my grandma's 90th Birthday celebrations.

My green wool skirt is from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing and is her pencil skirt with a drafted back flounce variation, and a drafted waistband.

I hadn't sewn with any of Gertie's patterns before, and I over did it a little with my safe seam margins ;)

Gerties Sizing: 6:waist 28", hips 40". 8:waist 30" hips 42". 10:waist 32", hips 44". 12:waist 34", hips 46".
For my 40" hips and 32" waist, of course I cut a size 12 ;)
I have side seams of 1 1/2" (each), having narrowed the skirt considerably in stages.

The vintage metal zip is machine sewn to the seam allowance, then hand picked to the main wool fabric. The hem is also hand picked after having bias tape sewn to the hem and turned under.

I've never been the neatest handsewist, though trying to keep my stitches loose did help immensely with minimising their appearance on the right side. The hem is much more subtle than the zip.

Pressing the skirt brought back many memories of classrooms filled with wet woollen jumpers and standing close to heaters to dry.

The skirt is lined in a green lining material, attached at the waistband. Both fabrics are from Rathdowne Remnants and the green wool was a delight to sew and press. 

*For those unfamiliar with the oddities of Australian weather, Ballarat is commonly accused of being the coldest non-alpine city in the state - a claim encouraged by those who guard their gold rush history closely.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

1940's blouses

I'm not sure how many Simplicity patterns now include the finished garment measurements ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE ENVELOPE - but I really, really appreciate it!!! It made choosing which of the sizes to pick easy and saved me from making a top with 10 INCHES of EASE!!!
(ok, enough yelling now ;)

This is Simplicity a 1940's reproduction top, view c, that I purchased while waiting (rather impatiently) for a vintage pattern to fly over from the USA. (I had the most wonderful of times at the Vintage Martini clearance sale and now possibly have more vintage patterns than I have time to sew)
Gorgeous vintage buttons from the Polished Button

Lovely fabric button loops

Pattern Review: Simplicity 1692
  • I chose view C and cut a size 8 for my 34" bust
  • I extended the bust darts a further 5cm.
  • I lowered and widened the neckline, losing two of my lovely vintage buttons but also regaining the ability to breathe.
  • I converted the facings provided with the pattern to a complete, or all in one facing - well, ok, I chose to fully line the bodice - with the aid of Jenny's wonderful series of tutorials on making facings your friends (you can find the entire series here:)
  • I should have done a sway back adjustment, left the back darts in and inserted the side zip  (especially as the side zip was the reason I chose the pattern…)

The evidence supporting my need to do a sway back adjustment - to return the additional back pleats, and not leave out the zip next time.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Dachshunds, Dinosaurs and dabbling in spring sewing

This weekend was the last of the September school holidays here and after some gale force winds earlier in the fortnight, spring decided to make an appearance.

So, we ventured out to a magical place from my childhood and introduced the dinosaurs to the next generation ;)

The dreaming dachshund of this blog has been asleep during the last few photo shoots, but he played happily with his kin while the human puppies attempted an obstacle course...
... and there was coffee requiring roasting, of course..

Spring sewing so far has been two versions of Disparate Discipline's Dandelion dress - with a post of its own to follow - my first review is here, and the grey ponte/ponti version fits and is nearly ready to share.

And another of my comfort sews - a heavy knit maxi skirt with a yoga/maternity waistband in navy & red stripes.
There are maxi skirt tutorials scattered across the internet. This spring I've enjoyed glancing at The pretty chevron one (although the waist seam will be on the outside & the waist measurements are too big for me; it is a pretty tutorial) and elizabeth avenue (which has a fabric layout & dimensions that work for me) for a reminder.

My maxi skirt variations include:

  • Sewing the waistband in a >=< bow shape so it doesn't sit out from my waist (one of my standard sway back adaptations)
  • Using 1~2 inches less than my waist diameter (depending the stretch of the fabric)
  • and pockets, pockets are important ;)

For this one though, I'm (im)patiently waiting for my non-.pdf version of the Cake Red Velvet Collection so I can try Steph's hidden zip pocket (yes, I'm being good and waiting rather than hacking a version!)

And I've been happily drafting my summer woven maxi dress/es ;)
(...... and ignoring the Bombshell fabric & notions glaring accusingly from the corner....)

in fact, I'm ignoring the summer sews so much that I've just added the SewFab e-pattern bundle to my collection ;)


I've finally embraced Instagram and Twitter and caught a glimpse of where all the cool people are hanging out ;)
I can be found @Maci_Nic if you'd like to lurk with me ....

Saturday, 28 September 2013

I do like Tiramisu

Happy Birthday Tiramisu - Cake's pattern was released a year ago and being the early adopter that I am (not), I waited until winter to buy and sew it up ;)

I was heavily influenced by the masses of online reviews (mostly positive), and that regardless of their body shape, women liked wearing it ...
I really wasn't sure about the style on me though.

I was still hesitant as I traced, cut & sewed my grey version - and even more so when I tried it on and thought "'blurgh' my hips so don't need that pocket" ... It was comfortable though... and over the next few weeks, I realised I'd worn it more than any other item in my wardrobe ...

It was comfy, and it had pockets ;) It had become the outfit to reach for on early morning kindy runs and general mum days - even the Royal Melbourne Show ;)

(Check out that pattern matching on the skirt seams!)

 Details! The 30minutes a day Cake Tiramisu sewalong is highly recommended - the details can be found here: The grey fabric is a textured knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics and the red/grey stripes is a soft lightweight knit from ClearIt (The Alannah Hill/Dangerfield fabric source)
The grey version was sewn with a narrow zigzag then the seams overlocked (in red, of course).
The red version was entirely constructed on the overlocker, with the exception of the side seams which were basted first, them overlocked.

I held the red stripes in place by ironing some light fusible web in the seam allowance before overlocking the seam (Do you know the stuff? it's sold as hemming tape, but never actually holds a hem longer than the first wash?)

Neither version is hemmed ... They seem to be holding up well ;0

So, I did what I'd wanted to do from the moment I saw Cation Design's version - I made a maxi and swirled ;)

Pattern Review:
Pattern Sizing: I chose the 35A for a 34" bust (both my high and standard measurements are the same, so the A cup was the clear choice over the 30D)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, in both versions - especially with the red stripe like the pattern picture ;)

Were the instructions easy to follow? Very - particularly if used in conjunction with the 30min a day sew along found on Cake's website

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I had some difficulty with following the fabric layout for my first version, but really appreciated the 'stripe matching lines' to get the chevrons without thinking too hard about them. And as an aside, wider stripes are more forgiving then narrow ones ;)

Fabric Used: Firstly a widthwise stretch grey cotton with a raised design, then a thin cotton blend jersey for my maxi version

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: The grey version is straight from the pattern. For the red & grey stripes, I extended the skirt length to maxi, used narrower seams on the bodice and shifted the pockets down off my hips.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I've made 2 versions and will most likely make a few more in both lengths. And yes, I do recommend it to others, of all shapes and sewing levels ;)

Conclusion: A fabulous bit of comfort sewing, not unlike it's cake namesake. I do like a Tiramisu ;)

Monday, 9 September 2013

Everyone needs an LBD!

Meet my LBD - my Little Black Dress that is also my Lace Block Dream ;)

I was delighted to be invited along to a Melbourne Sewists' function of fabulousness on Saturday night - Frocktails was a gathering of several dozen incredibly talented women who all wore an amazing dress of their own making - everyone was wonderfully warm and welcoming and I admit there may have been some squealing as I met bloggers who inspire me with their makes, for the first time ;)

Thank you SO much Kat for organising the night - amazing food as well as the fabulous company.
There will be photos from the night appearing on some of the other girls blogs - The fabulous Mel Poppykettle has added us to her flickr steam, so you can find us all here.

So, what to make for an evening with such talented women.... Kat gave us plenty of notice, I RSVP'ed at the start of May!
I was very tempted by a piece of awesome emerald digitally printed chiffon silk in my stash, but couldn't bring myself to cut it - does that happen with anyone else?

The essentials for a fabulous frock IMHO involve fabulous fabric, design & fit. I decided to start with the fabulous fit and booked a session with Tessuti's SewInn.

In preparation for my class, I reread "Successful Dressmaking" from my stash of sewing texts and with new measurements, drafted a bodice block and made a muslin in some duckcloth cotton.

The lovely Vanessa was my class facilitator and she fitted my block with pins & texta markings, then supervised my transferring of these changes to my paper pattern.

I must say, I do like drawing patterns and manipulating darts is such fun - yes, I'm kind of weird like that ;)

Vanessa also walked me through how I planned to construct the dress, from placing the pattern pieces on the lace, through the order of sewing, choosing a zipper and finishing the seams.

Did I mention that the class was a mere week before Frocktails?

I'd fallen for my black lace at the Alannah Hill Clearance outlet earlier this year and wanted to make a sheath dress that I could subtly adapt with different slips underneath.

My inspiration dresses are from Dolce & Gabbana's spring 2012 collection - they have some amazing jewelled tones - and being 'old collections' can be picked up for a song - $839 rather than $2095 at Barneys New York if you're interested ;)

This is my best Scarlett pose - Peneloping and Erin of IHeartFabric are hosting a CopyCat Challenge2 until 30th Sept and this is my entry ;)

Armed with my freshly drafted block pattern, I laid out my pieces and cut my lace - with newly sharpened scissors for a change - Winter has seen me almost exclusively using rotary cutters for knits and silks.
I had forgotten how lovely sharp scissors and woven fabrics were ;)

The dachshund did his usual pattern weight impersonation and escaped unscathed.

I loaned mum's more modern machine to insert my invisible zip, with a foot that fitted! Yay! Unfortunately, in my excitement of having such modern niceties, I forgot to stabilise the seam... My impersonation of a ridgebacked lizard was salvaged with some unpicking, much steaming and stabilising the seam - lesson learnt.

The next lesson learnt was that black polyester thread on black lace is next to impossible to unpick, even with head lamps and sunlight... Ask me how I know... Go on... ;) - two front skirt darts, somehow they didn't line up with my bodice darts, sigh.. After unpicking both of them and part of the zip, I changed to a very dark green thread in my bobbin - almost undetectable, but enough to spot in the lace, which I do admit, was quite forgiving of being unpicked; if I hadn't cut any actual fabric threads.

I faced the neckline, hem and armholes with bias binding using Grainline studio's pictorial here. I like the design feature of the black banded edges with the lace and dress shape.

The inside seams aren't french, rather they're narrowly overlocked. I did have lovely inch wide seams, but I'm not going to need to adjust them again... right?

I love this dress, it's turned out as I imagined and is versatile enough to get a lot of wear. Best of all, I now have a block pattern that works for me - so bring on some spring sewing!

Friday, 21 June 2013

The Batwing Dress of Awesomeness

Well, "The Batwing Dress of Awesomeness" was it's running title and check out that pattern piece - yes, a 1m metal ruler fits across the bodice...

Some of you may recognise #7 from Drape Drape 2, one of the cult of Japanese Sewing Books.
There was much amusement as I tried to explain why I wanted to sew anything from the book and my fashion police looked on in bemusement, as well as a touch of concern...

So, there are some excellent versions of tops #4 and #2 around but not as many of #7 - I found four in my searches: TJ'sAncien-Nouveau, Lisa of SmallThings and Oui Patrons two.

One of the main reasons I can think of - as in my humble opinion, it is one of the more wearable of the designs - is that it requests 165m wide fabric, and 2m of it at that.

I was also concerned about the straight front as it appears to give the model a tummy, and I already have one of them.

So... what else to do, but convert my 2 piece batwing dress to a 2 1/3 piece batwing dress ;)
So, the layout was:

In case you're curious, I used my 90cm wide tracing paper to trace the pieces whole rather than tracing each individual part and then taping them - not having taped paper when I can avoid it is a preference of mine.
The "back hem" left and right joining dots didn't line up for me, but the illustrations are clear enough to make it obvious which way each piece should go.

My fabric is a very light, translucent jersey with a metallic design that I picked up from the remnants table at Clegs - I have around 4m of it in total, so sacrificing 2.5 or so to this wasn't painful as if it didn't work, the pieces are would still be large enough for a top, or three ;)

I was concerned that it wouldn't like being sewn - it didn't like scissors at all, and moving the cutting mat to use the rotary cutter was entertaining, but the design is so forgiving, that a few deviations were negligible. I basted every drape as pins just slipped out, but that made trying it on easy and in the end, the extra width that I'd added across the centre front wasn't necessary and I removed it at the side seams as I overlocked them (4 threads; I used a narrow rolled hem on the open arm slits).

It does mean I have a more draped neckline than designed, but I feel that it follows the philosophy of the author: "The flow and volume of the drape will change somewhat with the material; this is something for you to have fun with as you make the garments!" - Hisako Sato

It was the work of an evening to trace & cut out, then the next evening for basting, sewing & fitting - Serging off the excess material was a breeze and very satisfying!

In summary:
Reviewed on Pattern Review
What did I sew: #7 of Drape Drape 2 in size XL with an additional 20cm across the CF - with one sleeve cut separately so it would fit on 150m fabric.

Does it look like the picture on the pattern - well, taking different weight fabrics into account, actually, yes, it does!

Will I make it again - personally, I don't need more than one bat wing dress of awesomeness, and I'm not tempted to sew a heavier version for me, but if I am looking for a chiffon beach cover up, I do think I just might ;)

What did I learn - That these books have a following for a reason - they have very clear instructions and this one at least, works better than first feared - and that I do love draping.

What do I love about it: It's actually really well designed - that hip hem doesn't ride up when my arms are in the air, or when I bend over to touch my toes - where was this design in my festival going youth!
oh yes, the 80's...

And not a pose I find myself in outside of yoga classes, but look, it doesn't ride up!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

The makings of the Gatsby dress

I was having a few glitches with my photo uploading (why oh why does it not like Flicker & can't I just drag & drop?), but I've got a work around working for the moment (toes crossed), so here are the few 'in progress shots' that I had intended in the post.

I used the usual trick of placing tissue paper under all my seams - I find wonderfully drapey fabrics are quite resistant to being sewn in a straight line without it - it's the pink poking out in this shot - and can you see my bee? - there are four of them across my bodice and more hiding in the skirt.

This is the facing/lining of the shoulders - I had 'pinked' the seams after sewing (and yes, I really should have changed my bobbin thread to cream rather than black, but life's short...), however I didn't like the look of them under the lining. I was concerned about the shoulders eventually coming apart, so I turned the dress back inside out and overlocked them as well, pulling the entire dress through the shoulder seams is definitely easier with a fabric that can fit in your hands, rather than a non-slippery cotton or heavier weight fabric.

And most importantly, Dachshunds' are excellent fabric weights - really ;)

Thank you for reading my notes - they're my online reminder for next time I tackle a similar project ;)

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Gatsby Dress

The fabric for this dress was bought on a whim while I was meant to be looking for wool suiting - Bees, Horses, Birds of Prey!! All in a distinctly oriental slinkyness that just cried out to be a kimono dressing gown, or a 1920's style frock - obviously ;)

Browsing the awesomeness of online 1920's fashion and the stills from Baz's new film was to wallow in decadent dreaming of the upper class, but surely everyday, women of a certain age, wore clothes in the 1920's as well - Hello Miss Fisher! Dot was a tad sensible for me, Phryne too magnificent, where next?

Why the treasures of Etsy - Thank you Carol and your 1920's draft your own dress pattern re-release! In the end, after detours via the Eucalyptus top, godets were abandoned (fabric too drapey) and the finished dress is remarkably similar to Marion Cotillard's dress in Midnight In Paris.  As I Said...: Fashion In Film: Midnight in Paris (2011)
Yes, an interpretation of the 1924 classic One-Hour-Dress (certificated as true at the 2nd National Merchandise Fair of 1923 no less!). The .pdf booklet "Easy Ways to Pretty Frocks" made for fascinating reading!

The bodice to the dropped waist is lined in silk that I picked up at Rathdowne Remnants sale (yay sales!) and I used the technique blogged about here (and in several other places). This all wouldn't have come together as seamlessly if the girls from Social Sewing hadn't helped with fitting my sloper and advising on my tank - Thank You!

Thanks to Mel for the reminder on ensuring the facing/lining is narrower than the dress fabric! And I clipped the neckline, then decided I didn't like it, so I've actually overlocked /serged the rest of the seams under the lining - with french seams, is it overkill? maybe not ;)

The gathers are reinforced by some Petersham ribbon and the side seams curve to the front as I decided that I did need a higher dropped waist to avoid looking entirely sacklike. I can quote Mr Paul Caret (1925) from the Art of Dress: 
"Do not be deceived as to your own figure. If gowns built on straight lines are not suited or becoming to your type, do not wear them... Watch your waistline. Place it where it is most becoming to you. Do not accept a high waistline if it fails to revel the good points of your figure .. and .. Do not hesitate to wear a wide skirt if it looks better on you than a narrow one. A tight skirt has caused many a woman to sacrifice her beauty for the sake of being fashionable"
Thank you Mr Caret ;)

What I have learnt:
French Seams are annoying to adjust - best not to try until you have the fit right ;)
Just Do It - and stop browsing all the pretty inspiration pictures and helpful tutorials
and that I really must look at the photo uploading glitch that's hindering my progress photos ;)

but I can say, it's incredibly comfortable, floats delightfully, layers well, all seams are French and I have bees on my bodice!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

1920's Love ;) Great Gatsby Sewing Challenge

I do love the 1920's - women feeling free to express themselves and step away from the Victorian era after a time of great change.

When gazing at my lovely black & white fabric and the delightful images on Pinterest and other blogs - I just kept asking: "What would Phryne do?"

 the EvaDress 6332 ;)
Love the cloche and the slouchy boots

...and I do have the Vintage Pattern selector at my fingertips, and they do have a rather lovely drop waisted dress with side pleats... but I'm not feeling any love for PDF's at the moment, so drafting it is ;)

...stay tuned - the Great Gatsby screening at the Kino to raise $$ for the St Vincents Institute is in 2 weeks ;)
Do you want to come along?

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

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Clara - a winter dress and Thanks to Elise of honig design

The fabulous Elise of honig design - and she is fabulous, have you seen her self drafted wardrobe?
Anyway, she has designed an absolutely fabulous Garden Party dress that has serious play value, looking great while being easy to move in. She's made and blogged about three different versions and shared some renditions made by some talented bloggers..

Yes, that's right, it's a FREE .PDF download!! Thank You Elise!

I went searching for some grey or navy suiting material and managed to come home from Brunswick St with a stretchy charcoal brown - I really shouldn't be allowed to buy fabric alone - mainly as I also bought a slinky B&W print that I adore but DH looked askance at and the dachshund wants to curl up on - surely that's a GOOD sign?

Anyway, despite my slap-hazard pdf piecing and cutting out, the bodice fitted (yes, I made a muslin, I must be learning!) and I only needed to draft out a size at the waist.

I did struggle with the zip, but that's not new for me, an invisible one was ripped out more than three times - and I did make that a little harder than I could have - as that muslin I mentioned, I only pinned it at the neck & waist - so across the widest part of my shoulders, I only had a 5mm seam allowance - how fortunate was I to have chosen that stretchy material ;) (I know, I know!!!!)

I then decided to up the difficulty by trying for full length sleeves... my trusty library's stash of pattern and fitting books were useful as background reading, and paper weights. In the end, I cut the sleeves exactly as printed, just longer. The material definitely helps with keeping a full range of arm movement.
I kept my trust in Elise's pattern and she didn't let me down.

I love the pleats!
I did have to move the pleats after trying the skirt on as the initial placement wasn't particularly flattering for me, but that was actually quite fun.
 - have you met Florence yet? she's the newest addition to my sewing room and definitely made pleat adjustments much more enjoyable ;)

I hemmed it long, much longer than the jaunty skirt of the Garden Party dress, but she is my Winter Clara dress for wearing with boots - and she is rather comfortable. Next time I'll try a bright pattern with less stretch, so Thank You Honig Design for making your Garden Party dress available.
;) - and the dachshund? he's asleep in the remnants.