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Saturday, 28 February 2015

Last Day of Summer Beach Romper


Summer (officially) ends today in Australia. Luckily it's been a nice hot day to enjoy. My friend, Katharine, is moving back to Scotland in a few months and is trying to do as many weekend day trips as possible in the time left. She suggested a beach crawl - like a pub crawl but with sand and surf instead of alcohol - as something to see summer off. The beach is always fun so I decided to join her. It also gave me an excuse to finally get around to making this beach wrap/romper.


I've had both the pattern and fabric for years and had them paired together, but just never bothered to make it until I had a specific reason. As with the trousers on my last post, this fabric was found in a closing down shop in Benalla. The pattern is the 1930s beach romper from Decades of Style, who have a great range of 1920s-1950s reproduction vintage patterns.


The romper ties at the back of the bust with a ribbon attached to the centre front and the threaded through buttonholes on the bust wrap section. And luckily my machine's temperamental buttonhole foot worked perfectly - so much easier than hand-bound buttonholes. It also ties at the waist, and then the skort section wraps through the legs, around the front to look like a wrap skirt and also ties at the back. It looks nice once on, but I don't think there's an elegant way to put it on. Maybe that comes with practice.



Although the finished product turned out fine, I did find the instructions for this weren't written very well - it's a bit of a confusing garment. None of the pattern pieces are normal shapes, so when the instructions told me just to attach the front insets to the front, it took me a while to work out exactly where I was meant to attach them. I also frustratingly discovered a thinning and slight tear in the fabric once I'd finished making the romper, so had to get out needle and thread and darn the hole by hand.


Our beach crawl was a success, walking from Malabar to Maroubra to Coogee all in the romper, which kept me covered and kept me cool. All in all, a great way to end (official) summer.

My hair is trying to strangle me here

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Slashed Sleeve Top and Casual Pants


Sometimes I decide I need to make more 'normal' clothes, without over-the-top colours. It is useful to have some basic casual clothes in your wardrobe, and what's more simple and casual than dark grey pants and a fairly neutral colour top? So these two items are an attempt at simple and casual.


Observe the lovely weeds I chose to stand next to
 The pants are Burda young 7050, which have a fitted waist and thigh and then flared lower leg. I always find Burda patterns pretty easy to follow, except for the instructions on how to sew the fly, I avoid making pants because the instructions for the fly are always confusing.  Does anyone have and good tutorials on how to do them? Please leave me any recommendations if you do, then I might not be so scared of making pants. 


Having short legs I had to cut off about two inches of fabric from the pattern's original length. The original pattern was long enough that I could have stood right on my toes and the hem would still scrape the ground, so just a little bit
too long!


The fabric is just a simple dark grey cotton drill I bought from a small fabric, rug, and slippers shop (strange mix!) in Benalla in rural Victoria. I was doing fieldwork for uni in the town, and found the shop during a free afternoon at the end of my week. Even luckier, the owner had decided to stop selling fabric in the future because it wasn't making him enough money, so to get rid of what he had left, he was selling it all for $5 a metre. I probably bought more than was sensible.


Unfortunately I forgot to photograph the blue and white striped with strawberries fabric I used for the pockets. 

For the top, I used a fabric I bought on sale at Tessuti. It's a soft apricot and mauve striped-ish cotton elastane jersey, so it has some colour and a nice but not overwhelming print.


I wanted the top to be a bit loose but not big, and long enough that it covered my waistband, ending pretty much on the top of the hip bone. I made this without any pattern, and really without all that much of a plan, just a picture in my head of how it was meant to look. The basics of it are very simple, just two big rectangles for the main part of the top and two smaller rectangles for the sleeves. The sleeves themselves, though, were a bit fiddly.


I've seen slashed backs and sleeves on tops and dresses for a while, and decided to try it out on the sleeves of this. I probably should have planned what I wanted better, but I just grabbed my scissors and cut. Trying to sew the edges of seven bands on each sleeve was tedious, and dealing with all the thread ends even worse! I also stitched the middle of each band together so that they'd stay sleeves and not all fall off my shoulders completely.

So while both of these were meant to be more normal, they weren't completely simple to make. Some day I'll learn how to do a fly properly, and some day I won't do overly fiddly things like these sleeves.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Technicolour Sheath Dress


I'm a big fan of colour, so when I saw this fabric at Spotlight I had to buy it. The rainbow tesselated triangles were just too much fun to pass up. Of course, given how bright the fabric is I had to find the right pattern so it wouldn't be completely overwhelming - something fitted, something simple. I've been using Burda Style for years, so when they had a pattern sale late last year I had a look to see whether there were any good patterns and found this, the Scuba Dress


Normally I'm not a big fan of print at home patterns because they're a bit annoying to use, taking so much paper (I think this pattern was more than 40 pages) but the pattern was just what I'd been looking for to use this fabric. I think I used half a roll of sticky tape just putting the pattern pieces together! 


The pattern has curved seams on the front inset piece, and curved darts in the back. I cut the two side front pieces the opposite direction to the front insert and back pieces, to subtly accentuate the seams. Because the pattern isn't solid stripes but coloured triangles mixed together, the differing lines/colours complement, rather than clash each other.





The pattern is a petite size, and the length was just perfect, finishing just above the knee. But I have a long torso and short legs, so had to do some adjustments to the bodice. It fit well to just above the waist, but then expanded out for the hips almost two inches above my actual hips, with a lot of loose fabric at the lower back. So after some trial and error with the back darts I managed to fix it up.



To match the bright fabric, I used a neon lemon-lime Mettler poly-sheen thread, seen on the left in the stitching for the neck and arm facings, and also a few millimetres from the seam of the front panel, as well as on the hem and the zipper. I'm not a big fan of visible stitching unless it's going to work as an accent to the piece, but hiding thread was always going to be too hard with this fabric. Given the fabric is so bright, I thought the brightest thread possible was the best choice for any visible stitching. 


This close-up photo also gives a better view of the actual fabric print, and how multicoloured it actually is, with different colours of triangles contained within each row. You can also see how the front inset and side front pieces work, and how the fabric is reversed on the side front pieces compared to the inset.


It's probably not surprising that this dress is fairly tight, given how fitted it is. But it's not only due to the cut being fitted, it's also because the fabric I chose to use isn't really the right fabric for the pattern. The pattern specified it was only for stretch fabrics, but I like to ignore those sorts of instructions. This fabric isn't completely stiff, but it's definitely not stretch! Still, it worked out in the end, although I can't move my legs too far apart or bend down all that easily in this! But that's ok, I'm happy with how it turned out.






Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Dustbowl Dress


Ok. First, a quick introduction. I've been sewing my own clothes for many years, and have thought on and off about starting a blog, and now have finally decided to take the plunge. I'm new to all this, so please be kind!

It's currently summer down here in Australia, and it's been pretty warm. I found this fabric at Rozelle Markets (so much great vintage/second hand stuff there!) and thought its airy softness was perfect for a summer dress. I looked through the patterns I had to see if there was anything that suited this fabric, and came across Simplicity 2995. It's a Project Runway pattern, so there's a lot of flexibility and options to work with. In the end, I largely based this dress on the bottom right version (see the bottom picture), although where the bodice lines are simply stitching, mine are separate pieces.

 As the name of the post suggests, this dress has a 1930s influence to it. I adjusted the pattern slightly by loosening it, taking full advantage of the drape of the fabric. As you can see in the pictures, any bit of breeze moves this fabric, giving it a lovely and lively flow. The colour, print, and cut of the dress really seemed like something a character in a Steinbeck novel would wear, so it is the Dustbowl Dress.
 The loose fit at the back keeps it nice and cool, but the tie waist keeps a bit of shape in the dress. I should also say the fabric is very thin (another thing that would have been common in the 30s!) so the dress does need to be worn with a full slip, but that just adds to the old-world style of it.

I tried to roll my hair up in a 1930s style for the photos, but you can kinda see that it's falling out a bit on the right-hand side here! Oh well, the dress is meant to be the focus anyway, isn't it.
 These sleeves were a little terrifying to do! I wanted something a little different, but not so different that it would overwhelm the dress. I settled on a curved hem up to the centre of the sleeve. It took a lot of time and effort, hand basting, machine stitching, and some redoing to get it right, but it worked in the end. And the final look is, for me, perfect. Although next time I should probably decide how I want the sleeves to look before cutting them out, rather than just playing around until I find something I like.
And here's the original pattern, Simplicity 2995, with a close-up of the bodice piecing. I've also posted about this on Burdastyle http://www.burdastyle.com/projects/dustbowl-dress

So thanks for reading my first blog post!