Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year in review 2011

I've compiled a new page on my blog showing all of the items I've sewn for myself this past year. You can see it here or navigate through the top of my blog.

I know I sew quite a bit, not as much as some sewing bloggers, but I didn't realise how much until I saw it like this.

In total I made 50 items including:
  • 25 dresses
  • 6 skirts
  • 10 tops
  • 1 playsuit
  • 3 pairs of pants
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 1 nighty and
  • 2 pairs of PJ pants
This doesn't include sewing for the kids, knitting, crocheting or things for the home. No wonder I'm tired!

Clearly though, not all of these items are on high rotation in my wardrobe. Some have been given to my sister or other friends, others have been refasioned, some just binned.

My favourite and most worn items, in no particular order, include:

(I'll pop back tomorrow with the right links for these images - I have a pav to make a party to go to)

Since the new year starts shortly, I thought I'd jot down a few sewing goals for 2012.
  • Make less dresses! No one needs 25 dresses per year!
  • Make more seperates - pants, skirts and tops - things that are suitable for teaching.
  • Make a couple of winter jackets and maybe another cape
  • Concentrate on finishing my crochet blanket
  • Focus on knitting projects until they are finished
  • Focus on quality and finishing with each garment - there's no prize for finishing the most things
  • Use more solids and less wild prints - this will be hard!
I think that's it. I don't think there's anything there that isn't achievable, though it will be hard to steer away from dress making and wild prints!

I think I'll also aim to keep my sewing space a little more organised (like the rest of the house), maybe give more handmade gifts (I really let the ball drop on this one at Christmas) and be more restrainted with sewing purchases (how many patterns does one need??).

As this is my last post for 2011, I just wanted to say thanks so much for stopping at  my blog to read about my obsession hobby. I really appreciate your comments, advice, friendships and reading about your creative adventures too.

See ya later 2011!

Stash evaluation and justifing purchases

I was lucky enough to receive a few money gifts this Christmas. Being a responsible mum, I feel that these should be put to necessary family uses. There are school shoes to buy, swim t-shirts needed, sunblock, groceries.... yawn... zzzzz.

Surely just a few dollars could be allocated to me?

Even though the husband doesn't care what I do with the dollars, when you are me (I am known for being a bit of a tightwad), you need to be able to justify purchases before they are made. When I look at my stash, it always seems full, but there isn't necessarily anything of interest to sew. So a quick evaluation, turned up this:

The Usable Stash.
The centre fabrics are dress length, some Liberty, some Spotlight, some Tessuti, some rayon, solids and stretch. None of these interest me right now. I have loose plans for some, but for others, I'm still waiting for that moment of inspiration.

The fabrics on the left are also dress length, but cheaper solids, mostly from Spotlight. Again, I need inspiration and most are suited to cooler weather.

The top left fabrics are skirt or pant length. The Missoni has been allocated to a friend, for once she has had her baby.

The bottom left are shirt or top length fabric. I actually found two more pieces to fit in this pile, which aren't shown.

Clearly there are a number of projects which could be started, but none appeal to me right now. My stash seems quite modest when you look at it like this.

The key problem lies here:

The Dregs.
Once you add the good stuff, this cupboard is full, but not full of goodness. Most of the dregs are left over corduroy and drill from my days making kids clothes to sell and a few 'what-was-I-thinking' pieces of fabric. There's also 'too small to make anything, but too big to throw away' remnants, gifted fabric, linings, a few quilt backing pieces, some home dec fabric, baby length pieces of fabric, random bits of denim, stuff for muslins and other crap. I'm sure I'm not the only one with a stash like this, right?

The problem is I don't feel like I can get rid of this stuff, because I might need it one day. Well, maybe I could undertake a small cull...

Anyway, with the stash evaluation complete, it seems justifiable to add to it. I always remember one of Kbencos comments to the Slapdash Sewist as it really struck a chord with me:

"My theory is that if you don't keep buying pretty fabric when you see it, the what-was-i-thinking fabric multiplies and takes over the stash."

Clearly there's a great imbalance between 'the usable stash' and 'the dregs'.

So, to Tessuti I go!
Ahhhhh... I was quite restrained.

Actually, I should add here that I was spotted by one of my readers at Tessuti. This is the first time I've ever been recognised and had some one speak to me. (Hi Tanya!). Anyway, I was quite surprised and stumbled through a short conversation sounding like quite a twit, unable to string a comprehensible sentence together. It was funny and kind of weird, but nice. Please if you ever do see me in public, come up and say hi. I promise I'm a nice person and I normally speak like a normal person.

Back to the fabric. These are the plans:
 A 70's style wrap skirt with this light, 70's vibe denim.
A Rooibos with this viscose blend, piped with Liberty Emilia's Flowers. I'm taking inspiration from Alana's linen Rooibos with contrast piping. I'd love to make mine in linen, but worry about wrinkling and bagging from wear. This viscose fabric is so easy to wash - it came out perfect with no wrinkles. The down side is that it will be a warmer dress to wear.

This cotton was labelled 'Italy' and 'A McQueen'. Does that mean it's Alexander McQueen?? That's rather posh if it is! I don't have a pattern for this fabric, but would love to make a skirt like this one that Carolyn made for her daughter, from Burda 7370, but maybe I'll play with how the pattern falls for a bit of contrast.
This last fabric was from Spotlight, which I had to go to on the way home to buy interfacing for bonnets and use my $10 voucher. I've been eyeing off this Japanese lawn for a while with Simplicity 6446 in mind. I'm planning on making the yellow version. I'd originally planned to make this with Liberty Mitsi in grey, but was worried about looking a little too grey. This voile has much more interest, and I think will look much nicer.

I'm feeling much more inspired with these new additions to the stash. Hopefully some of these plans will come together quickly.

I hope you all have a great New Year and I hope you too can justify some new fabric acquisitions for your stash!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Super Shorts v2

These have been cut, ready to make since I blogged the last Super Shorts for the boys in September - yikes!
Ollie has a pair too. Clearly, the kid did not want to cooperate during this photoshoot, which is why he is lying on the floor with Jatz in his hands.

One less thing in the sewing room.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

BurdaStyle 06/2010 #118 with modifications

I've managed to steal some moments to hide in my sewing room these last few days, thanks to the husband being home, and now I have a new summer frock. I just need some summery weather now!
This stunning white dress is based on Burda dress #118 from 06/2010, though I have modified it heavily. I'm not a big fan of maxi dresses. I wish I could wear them - do they make short people appear shorter?

Anyway, I took the princess seam bodice from this pattern, slapped on a waistband, then attached a skirt - easy right?? No - not so! The points of the bodice, where the straps are attached, were way too overwhelming for my frame, so I re shaped them as shown below, straightening the top of the bodice and removing some excess from the side.
I then removed some more excess from the centre of the bodice, which is cut on the fold. I found the pattern did not shape nicely under my bust, so I trimmed as shown below and re-straightened the bottom of the piece.
The waist band is quite straight, but I thought would help make the dress less empire or maternity - which is always a worry when I sew empire waist dresses.
The skirt is just a simple gathered rectangle, with side seam pockets. I need pockets in my life these days and hate wearing garments without them. Although I still love both of my Meringue skirts. They are just too good to hate because they don't have pockets.
The fabric is a lovely Nani Iro dobby cotton, which I purchased on sale from Matatabi quite a while ago. I just love this fabric, it has a lovely drapey, crepe-like feel. The main problem with this fabric, is that it is white, which doesn't agree with my life these days. You know, grubby kids and all. I lined the entire dress including the skirt with white voile. I trimmed the lining with lace - just because.
I think the whiteness of this dress gives it quite a juvenile feel, which is why I kept the hem quite long. I'm not sure I'm totally comfortable in it, but maybe after we go on our summer holiday it will feel more appropriate.

Hope you are enjoying a few stolen moments doing the things you love!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hope you have a great Christmas!

With just hours until the big man arrives in our house, I just wanted to pop over here and wish all of my lovely readers a great Christmas. I hope you are able to enjoy it with family, friends, loved ones, pets or whoever else you choose to be with.
This is my contribution to Christmas at my parents house (the last of four stops for us to make tomorrow!), made with this recipe. I've love to say that I get better at making these each year, but I don't.  This year I've slightly under cooked the gingerbread, so it's not as structurally sound as in previous years and I've had to prop up the roof from the inside with a Tupperware container.

I guess it's a good thing it only has to last a day till it's demolished by the kids.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Vogue 1174

I was hoping that this would be a cute little dress for Christmas day, but I'm feeling a little *blah* about it.
While I think strapless dresses look great, I'm not sure they are right for me right now. After reading most of the reviews of this pattern, where the sewers noted not being able to eat in their frocks, I modified the dress by adding straps and omitting the foundation and boning, which keeps this strapless version up. Being realistic, I am often carting around a two year old on my hip (not because she can't walk, but because I need to keep her out of trouble) and I really like to eat, so it seemed smart to simplify this dress a little.
Unfortunately, I'm not happy with the dress now that the modifications have been made. I added a bit more ease at the waist for comfort and eating, but this seems to have impacted how large the back of the skirt is. The pattern ease is confusing in itself, despite being strapless and needing to be tight to keep it up, it includes ease in the bust. That seems a little strange to me - I thought strapless dresses needed zero ease. Even though I used the finished garment size to determine which size to cut, I still needed to take this dress in.
Poorly fitted skirt back
The fabric is a Hokkoh quilting cotton that has been in my stash for a while. I thought this non-drapy fabric would work for this pattern, but I'm not sure. The flat fold piping is voile. The dress isn't hard to make, but it is a litttle time consuming to get the piping neat and even. I can be a little picky with these things and it bugs me that I didn't fix some small areas. I'm also not happy about the super bust flattening properties of this dress, which for someone like me, ain't so great.
Out of focus piping shot.

I wish this was an awesome frock, but it's not. Oh well, I still have a few more days to knock up a new dress.

Happy Sewing all!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Collette Meringue Skirt V2

Collette Meringue Skirt in denim = happy!
How many of these skirts can one person make?? three? four? ten??

I wore my black version to Island at Sans Souci last night to celebrate a friend's birthday. It is so super comfy, that I managed to eat my weight, or thereabouts, in traditional Greek mezethes and then eat dessert without feeling the slightest bit uncomfortable. I love clothing which is conducive to gorging oneself.
 This time I faced the skirt and hem in a paisley quilting cotton from my stash. Again, just because.
The key difference between this and my first version of this pattern, is the way I constructed the scallops. In my first, I clipped and notched the curves of the hem before pressing very well and very carefully, but still a few pointy bits remained, which you can see below.
I realise you can only see them on close inspection, but it does bug me. This time, I remembered this post on Pattern - Scissors - Cloth showing how to sculpt perfect scallops by trimming the curves quite close to the stitching, rather than clipping and notching.
It was definitely a more successful method for getting smooth curves. I also edge stitched the curves this time as there is a considerable difference in the weight of the denim and quilting cotton. I may still do this on my black version too.

Vogue 1174 is now finished, hopefully I'll be able to photograph it tomorrow. Clearly there's a ridiculous amount of sewing happening in this house at the moment. I think I'm in denial about Christmas being just days away.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Collette Meringue Skirt

When I first received my Collette Sewing Handbook, I knew this skirt would be my first make and I'm very pleased with the finished product.
I really needed a simple black skirt in my wardrobe, but now I'm thinking about all the possibilities for this adorable little number. Perhaps even something like the pale blue striped one in the book.
This skirt was so fast to make it's not funny. I had the pattern traced, but fully cut and constructed the skirt during nap time, so less than 2 hours.
I'm really surprised with how well this skirt fit without any major fitting modifications, especially as I had so much trouble fitting my Beignet skirt, which still ended up swimming around my hips. I cut a size 0, grading up to a 4 at the waist. I minimised the front darts as I often find they poof there, and slightly lowered the rise, because even though I love the look of a skirt that sits on the waist, I don't love wearing them.
I faced the scalloped hem with Liberty, left over from this dress, just because. I have my work Christmas party tonight, so I think I'll wear this. I have so many dressed to wear, but these peeps are used to seeing me wear daggy black pants and a polyester shirt, so I don't want to shock them with too much of a wardrobe change. You know the carry-on you get some times when people see two completely different sides of you??

Vogue 1174 is next.

Happy sewing!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Giddy-up! Simplicity 2599 V2

I love my first version of this top so much, that I've made it again, almost exactly the same, just in a different colourway.
This time I made necessary adjustments to the bust darts and cut the back on the fold. Again, I lowered the neckline and tried to adjust the front neckline to prevent gaping, but I think I might hand stitch a few small tucks as the pleated trim is pulling it down a little.
I love this fabric (from this Etsy seller, but she only appears to have a green and purple version in her shop right now), which is a little funny because I don't love horses. This colourway goes nicely with my red pants, which still need buttons, but I'm going to wear them today with safety pins.
Happy Sewing!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Another project

I may have accidentally purchased some fabric last week, so that I can re-upholster an old armchair. I didn't mean to buy it. It wasn't planned. I was just popping in to my local upholstery supplier to see if they had any nice remnants so I can make floor cushions for the kids, then I stumbled upon this.
It's pretty cool right? So bright and wild - I love it! It goes perfectly with our red rug. It wasn't a remnant though, I had to get it ordered in. I can't wait to finally finish this chair, but after yesterdays terribly expensive car service (wheels, brakes, *cry*), I may have to wait until after Christmas to get new foam. Until then I'll just keep this lovely stuff in sight. So it doesn't get lost in my messy sewing room or forgotten on my ever growing 'to sew' list.

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stylish Dress Book - Dress I

Made with Liberty = love!
This is my second dress from Stylish Dress Book and I'm just as happy with this dress as I was with the first.

It's a simple 'v' neck dress, no zipper or buttons, with bands around the neckline and waist, although you really can't see them much on mine. I added a tie to the back to bring in a little volume.
The fabric was from Shaukat and is called Tomary.
The only changes I made to the pattern was to lengthen the bust darts slightly, shorten the hem and add the tie. Next time I'll probably make the 'v' a little deeper, just slightly, maybe just a half inch or so...

Now I just need the Sydney weather to warm up a little so it can get some wear.

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Another Op Shop Refashion

This is the third item that I picked up this past week from one of my local Op Shops. It's a late 70's, possibly early 80's, polyester pleated skirt.
Now hemmed and taken in a little at the waist, this skirt is super breezy and light.
Perfect for summer days and also good for hiding a little more leg, which is especially important if you've neglected them for a few days... you know...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Quilt finished!

As I've said before, I'm not a quilter, but this massive quilt is now finished and I'm quite happy to get it out of my sewing room. It takes up soooo much room!

The fabric is from Sandi Henderson's Secret Garden range, which goes perfectly in my bedroom.
I purchased quite a few fat quarters and made up the pattern myself, cutting four squares per fat quarter as large as I could fit and cutting white sashing to a thickness that I thought would work, rwo inches finished. It didn't end up quite as large as I would have liked, so I added a border with the remnants, cut into 1.5 inch strips, and more sashing, which is moda quilters muslin.
The back was pieced with the left over squares and more remnant strips. I realised that I'd hacked into the quilters muslin so much that I didn't quite have a large enough piece for the back, so this is what worked.
Now I'd love to show you a close up of the quilting, but I'm not a quilter and it ain't perfect. I think when I trimmed the inner part of the quilt, creating an unstable bias edge, I may have slightly stretched it, which has caused the borders to bubble a little.

Oh well, live and learn. I also used a cotton batting, so hopefully after a few washes most of the faults will fade away.

Happy sewing!