Monday, 29 September 2014

It's just a jump to the left ...

Well I was walking down the street just a-having a think, that this is the month for a bit of a 'behind the scenes' filming.  Earlier in the month I took on a wee tour of my sewing room 'that was' and 'that is'.   On that very same day Tanya from Mrs Hughes nominated me for the blog hop - well actually she, ever so politely, asked me if I would like to join her in the Blog Hop Around the World.  But you know what, I think I wanna hop on over to where Tanya lives ... the weather looks warm all year round and she gets to make loads of summer dresses, my fav!  Oh and have you seen her sewing room!

It just blows me away that by simply writing about my sewing adventures this has connected me to so many people around the world.  I've jumped aboard this tour, because on the tour plane are blog hoppers like Heather from Handmade by Heather B, Melanie aka Poppykettle, Lisa from Notes from a Mad Housewife, Inna from TheWallInna and so many other cool people.

So let's get to the questions ...

1. What am I working on?
In my head I'm working on everything!  But what is actually on my sewing table ... I've just finished some secret sewing that had me scratching my head, but after some perseverance I am totally happy with it.  Last week I started working on my bodice moulage - the more I sew, the more I want to understand it's beginnings and what aspects of a pattern are for fit and what are style-lines.  I want all the technicalities, cause hopefully this is gonna help me understand fit better - yeah I know a bit geekie right!

I have the pattern traced off for the Jenna Cardi that is going to be made up in this beautiful merino.

Pretty Merino

But recently the Holly Jumpsuit from By Hand London has jumped to the front of the cue.  Inspired by this version by Sew Busy Lizzy and this version by House of Pinheiro.

Holly Jumpsuit

Before that happened I had the Jamie Jeans PDF pattern all assembled and ready to trace, as well as planning my next little french jacket or tailored blazer.

2. How does it differ from others of its genre?
Gee, I'm not sure that it really does.  My blog isn't the reason I sew, sewing is the reason I blog.  I write about what I've been sewing and my learnings along the way.  I try to blog about projects in the order that I finish them, so I've got a reference for future of approximately when I made what.  Although at the moment it's taking me about two months to get stuff to the blog - yep, I've got a bit of a back log to get through! I suck at taking pictures :-(

3. Why do I create what I do?
I sew to full my own wardrobe and what I want to wear.  Every now and then I'll do some sewing for my kids, but they have to want it (which leads to appreciation - well that's my theory anyway and I'm sticking to it!).  It's unfortunate but they are the throw away generation, a product of cheap RTW.

I also sew stuff that has construction techniques that are new to me, I like to learn but that is balanced with sewing things more than once so I can master the techniques.

But I don't just want to sew stuff that looks like RTW, I want to make stuff that looks like it's been bought at a designer store.  This is probably why I'm fascinated with couture sewing techniques and tailoring - these have changed the way I approach sewing, for the better!

Marfy 1756

4. How does my creative process work?
OMG, I am a complete neat freak and my organisation is probably OTT for most.  So the process starts with an organised space and a clear desk - everything is put away, except for what I need to begin the new project.  While I might have more than one project on the go at any one time, I only have one project at a time on my sewing table.  Actually, I'll only have more than one project on the go at once if I need to stop and think about what next, or it might just need buttons or a decision on lining or length before hemming.  Most of the time I'll start one project and see it through to the end, before starting the next.  But I never, never, hardly ever put a due date or deadline on my projects, otherwise that would just feel like work and I'd be over it pretty quickly.  So it's all about the journey :-)

Before any project makes it to the sewing table it may have been on the to do list for quite a while or it could be a idea I just had.  Hmm, a to do list probably isn't the right description, its more like a "to do pool"!  And in that pool are patterns waiting for the right fabric, and fabric waiting for the right pattern, but just because both pattern and fabric have been matched doesn't mean that it automatically makes it to the sewing table next.  I have to be feeling it.

I tried using Evernote to create a to do list and put things in order of what I would do next, but it just didn't work for me - strange as that sounds for the organised OTT person!  I think this is where my creative process comes into its own and all lists go out the window and the whimsical takes over.

And then it's a step to the right ... hoping over to Sew Melodic.  Melody is a prolific sewer who always has a variety projects rolling off her sewing table.  She has this fantastic post on fit issues and how to adjust the flat pattern to remedy.  I love reading about her construction journey and she always has a pic of the inside of a garment (which I love btw).  Over to you Melody - can't wait to read :-)

With your hands on your hips ... a second hop is open for self-nomination.  If you would like to take part in the blog hop around the word and share your creative processes, please take this as your personal invitation to do so (this is total legit btw, cause Katie from Katiekadiddlehopper said so).  The way the blog hop works, is that you acknowledge your nominator, you answer the questions above (or similar if you want to change it up) and you nominate another one or two people to hop on ... a bit like passing the batten.  You get the picture.

I've really enjoyed reading about everyone's creative process and why they make what they do.  The sewing community is such a great place to be :-)

Happy sewing xx

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Lux fabric pattern hack = little red dress!

Warning:  before you read any further you might need to go get your sun glasses and put them on!

Why?  Because I've had a bit of a mono tone, near the black end of the colour scale, kinda obsession.  Just check this out for proof!  Then this happened ...


Nope, no gradual introduction of colour over here - just jump right on in there a sew a red dress!

Well actually it's not just any read dress, it a beautifully soft wool crepe red dress.  And while the photos look bright the actual colour is more like a raspberry / ruby kinda mix.

Growing up as a kid I've got these memories of, what I now know to be, polyester crepe clothing.  I don't know what made me take a dislike to it, but it always made me shudder.  So whenever anyone mentioned crepe, I'm like, MEH!  But then the lovely MrsC said that I needed to go down to The Fabric Store and take a look at the lux wool crepe that they have in store in this really yummy raspberry.  Now if MrsC says that something is lux, then it must be - so off I went to the fabric shop ... I don't need to be told twice to go fabric shopping :-)

She wasn't wrong - this wool crepe is lux lux lux.  It's this stable woven that is light but malleable with this beautiful drape.  So you know I didn't just walk out of the shop with this one piece, oh no!  I bought some black and some beige - every colour they had actually!


Just look how beautifully it falls :-)  Have you recognised the pattern yet?  I had this idea floating around in my head for a while, but just wasn't sure what fabric I wanted to use.  So when the wool crepe jumped into my life I knew that it was just right for this dress. 


This is the Bill Jean Dress by Bluegingerdoll, which I'd made before here.  This dress looks super different after all the adjustments I made.  Here's the list:
  • the inner shoulder seam was lengthened to bring it closer to the neck.  The outer shoulder seam is original and creates this lovely wee cap.
  • extended the back upwards towards the neck to completely cover the back.  The original pattern has a scoop neck at the back.
  • changed the darts in the skirt back and front to be pleats with the top sewn so it still sits flat below my waist.
  • changed the shape of the skirt to an semi A-line shape, while maintaining the hip shaping of the pattern.
  • dropped the upper chest by 1/2".


I really do like the bodice shape of the Bill Jean - the princes seams just seam to fall in all the right places.

What I'm not in love with are the armholes *face plant*.


What I should have done, is raise the underarm by 1/2" when I lowered the upper chest.  And perhaps I should have considered reshaping the front and back armhole when I extended the shoulder seam in.  I did do a muslin before I cut into this beautiful fabric, and it looked okay, but I don't think I looked close enough - I was busy looking for where the waist fell and whether my bust was fitting into the princess seams where they should and that I was okay with the partially sewn pleats.

I'll feel a lot less self-conscious with a wee cardi thrown over top ... there better already :-)

I lined this with some acetate that feels like silk rather than the usual slippery acetate stuff.  I didn't really plan the lining and just grabbed something from the stash, well actually the only light coloured stuff I had, which was this beige stripe - you can see it poking out of the back shot above.  It probably would have been better with something that had a little more weight, but oh hum it's done now!

DSCF7736 - Version 2

Usually I like to wear my stuff a few times before I blog about them, so I can reconsider my thoughts that I had when I finished it.  Cause I go through this love / hate relationship with every garment I make and don't really make up my mind until I've worn it.  But I haven't worn this dress at all yet, other than to take photos.  It's still too cold here to go without stockings and this dress is too light weight.

For now I'm looking forward to summer and getting to wear this one :-)

More photos on my Flickr -->

Saturday, 6 September 2014

The Great WSBN sewing room tour

It's probably really well known around the sewing bloggers that the WSBN are always up to something either in real life or in cyberland - gee I can barely keep up with the FB Group we have!  But then one of our lovely members (Gemma at suggested we should do a sewing room tour to get us out of our winter slump and ready for spring - oh yeah, who wouldn't want to do this! 

I think I've said before, that in March my eldest daughter moved to Australia which meant for the first time ever, I could have my own wee sewing room, and return the dining room to it's original purpose.  When I say wee, it is really wee compared to others I've seen on the WSBN sewing room tour.  Only 3.25m x 2.25m with a window on one long wall and the door on the short wall...
Sewing room plan

I started planning before my daughter had even left home (sad I know!), well this is what I had finally settled on.  I purchased the furniture second hand knowing the dimensions of the room were limiting - then they sat in the shed while I renovated the room.  Yep, I decided that if I was going to have a new sewing room then it needed to feel sparkly new.  Let me show you a picture of the pre-renovation room ...

Renovate sewing room
This is not pretty!  Not for a sewing room.
Well, I could write a detailed book about my first ever renovation project (which I did all by my little self), but I won't bore you with that detail, so let me just wave my little magic Cinderella wand ... abbra-ka-dabbra  *poof* ...
Sewing room
The prettiest little sewing room ever!
As you can see, it didn't go exactly accordingly to my original plans - I forgot to take into consideration the dress form (that doesn't have a name btw!) and the set of draws I inherited from daughter #2.  There is just enough room for me to scoot around on my re-purposed office chair (currently draped in a blanket, that I usually wrap around my legs, cause it's winter!).

Let's go around the room clockwise starting at the 9 - the ironing board is in the original location and you can see the blue end just in the photo, and just below that, the brown paper bag on the floor filled with fabric - I should be honest there is actually three bags, you just can't see them, hehehe!

Then at 10 is my hand work space with the ipad, cause I always like to watch things while I sew.  At 11 is my dress form, a Singer 150 which I bought a cover for - I don't think I could look at that bright red colour for too long.  I also like that I don't have to navigate the gaps when I'm using it.

At 12 are my sewing machines - my Janome DC6030 (purchased just 18 months ago) and overlocker Globelock M-4 which I inherited from my mother and had serviced.  It's okay but doesn't much like the sheer fabrics.  Next are the draws where I stash my patterns, muslins, interfacing, basket of threads, and the like.

Then at 3 you have my cutting table.  Yeah it's not very tall but I'm still trying to come up with a plan to elevate it more.  Then ... underneath the table are a few more bags spewing fabric!  Behind the door are my rolls of tracing paper, waxed tracing sheets and a roll of calico.

Day13 #mmmay14 today is lace dress day #Burda #sewcialist  Day27 #mmmay14 @victorypatterns #chloe dress and @papercutpatterns circle top  Day23 #memademay14 @cakeatwork #hummingbird tee and @papercutpatterns #Circletop and my fav RTW jeans #sewcialist
Most of my Me-Made-May photos where taken in this room

But sadly today I've moved out of my room so it can be converted back to a bedroom, and I'm taking up residence in the dining room again.  This time not on the dining room table!  I now have a corner of the room with all my furniture nicely arranged

Today was a bit cold so the dehumidifier is still working on clearing the condensation!
Being back in the dining room I can be right in front of the fire in winter and get the best view in summer.  The light in the new space isn't that great at night but loads of natural light during the day.  It will be perfect now that we are heading into summer and daylight savings :-)


What you didn't see in previous photos was my wee set of draws with my scissors, zipper stash, elastics, trims and other bits and pieces.

Where is her fabric stash I hear you say ... very valid question.  I never like to admit that I have a stash that keeps mutating, so it's hidden in a couple of places.  Here is cupboard one - originally the stash only took up two shelves in this cupboard (with room to breath); now it's stuffed into three!


Now let's take a walk downstairs and into my linen cupboards just outside the laundry ...


... hahaha you still cant' see any fabric.  Come on, a little hide-n-seek is always fun :-)  As you may have guessed those are all bags from The Fabric Store, cause that is seriously my favourite fabric shop!

You also may have noticed that there isn't any work-in-progress.  Right now I'm trying to decide what to make next.  On my dress form is my recently finished Pavot jacket that is awaiting a decision on buttons - luckily Pavot is patient :-)

I've also just finished a Marfy top as a wearable muslin.  I'm tempted to make some changes and sew it all over again, but I don't feel like doing that right now.

I've just purchased the new Jenna Cardi and could make that up is this pretty merino, but I have to go to the office to print the PDF, and well that's not gonna happen today.

I've got some beautiful wool crepe to make this Marfy dress, but I will need to go buy some lining appropriate for the fabric.  I also have another Marfy jacket that I want to make - but these are serious time consuming projects.
Sewing room plan
Then I want to make a Belcarra dress with this as inspiration, but will also need to make the slip dress underneath.

I have two Papercut Patterns that I'm keen to make a start on; the Coppelia wrap top from this pretty blue merino and some Ooh la Leggings from this shinny merino blend :-)


Then I've got a master plan to sew a little something for the Pattern Review Frankenpattern contest, mainly because the contest master is Heather B, and morphing a couple of patterns together is always fun.  I'm undecided at the moment what exactly I'm gonna make.

So many options, so many decisions, so many patterns, so much fabric, I'm exhausted just thinking about it!  .... while sitting here looking out the window, at this little slice of heaven ...

Today was rather overcast and the ocean a bit rough, but on a good day, it is beautiful.
... it has come to me, so gotta go, got some frankening to work out *mwahaahaa*

PS. If you're interested in more photos of my sewing room 'that was' and 'that is now', head on over to my Flickr -->

Edit note:  hopefully you can see all the photos in this post - I've had some trouble with Flickr goggling my images.  Please email me if you can see them and I'll try and fix again xx  

Edit note 2:  Full list of the WSBN Tour
1st: Gemma at 66 Stitches
2nd: Laura at Laulipopnz
4th: Nikki at NikkiStitches
5th: Juliet at Crazy Gypsy Chronicles
6th: Sandra at SewistStitch
7th: Sophie-Lee at Two Random Words
8th: Kat at Macskakat
9th: Holly at Polycraftual
10th: MaryLouise at Thanks I made this myself
11th: Nina at Ninavirgo
12th: Sandra at FlossieFT
13th: Melissa at The Curous Kiwi
14th: Zara at Off-Grid Chic
15th: Crafty Mermaid
16th: Gillian at Sewing Down Under
17th: Leimomi at The Dreamstress
18th: Teresa at Adventures of a Girl from the Naki
19th: Joy at Acharmofmagpies
20th: Nicola at Silvern Swan
21st: Jenna at Ruby Dust
22nd: MrsC from Sent from my iRon
22nd: Elisabeth

Monday, 1 September 2014

Marfy Free Jacket Pattern - The End!

Back in April this year I wrote Part 1 of the Marfy Free Jacket Pattern.  It is now officially Spring and I'm finally at the end - writing the blog post!

After I got the muslin fit to where I was comfortable - that alone was a 5 week journey, on 25 April I got to cut my real fabric.  While that sounds quite straight forward, sadly not because of my fabric choice.  I bought this lovely wool coating from The Fabric Store - it's so soft and bouncy with a medium weave - so it easily frayed but not so much that it was uncontrollable.

Begin thread tracing

I cut all pieces on a single layer, carefully ensuring I had all the squares in the right places for each piece.  While this was a little time consuming it wasn't too hard - the pattern pieces didn't have any seam allowances, so where the pattern piece fell was indeed the stitching seam.

Pattern matching at centre back

After I thread traced and cut the fabric it then sat on the shelf for weeks while I tried to decide how I was going to construct it.  I couldn't decided to make a quilted Chanel inspired jacket (LFJ) or whether to take a more tailored approach.  This was my too hard point - I couldn't see how my fabric could be tailored but I could see how it would work as a LFJ; but I couldn't see how the collar would work if it wan't tailored ... *brain explode*

Finally, I decided to wait for the sew-along to get to this point, and take some wise direction from Leisa.  There it was, tailor the jacket!  Part of me was jumping up and down because I could sew the lining together using the machine and then insert, rather than having to hand-stitch each seam of the lining as is required for a LFJ; another part of me was still unsure how the pile of this fabric would behave.  What the hell ... just do it!

Leisa wrote this amazing post about pad stitching the collar.  This was like a light bulb moment!  The collar would behave differently depending on the direction of the stitches.  I decided that I wanted the back of my collar to stand up and the front to have a beautiful soft roll.

Pad stitching a stand up collar
The rest of the jacket came together pretty nicely from here.  I used a medium weight hair canvas for the front and collar which followed through to the bottom of the arm pit.  The shoulders are reinforced with a second layer of hair canvas and the bottom of the jacket has a 2" lining of silk organza.  I also draft a back stay from some scrap cotton lawn that I had lying around (sorry no pictures of that one).



The sleeve of the jacket is a one piece, which is okay, but next time I would definitely convert to a two piece and add some elbow ease.

inside of jacket
For the lining I chose this lovely silk satin from The Fabric Store - yeah it was pricey but the weight of the lining matched the jacket beautifully.  I constructed the lining using the sewing machine but then inserted it into the jacket by hand - a lovely wee fell stitch :-)

Now it is 29 June and I'm finished the construction of the jacket, only to be faced with my next dilemma ... what trim to use.  I initially thought I would use a sold black grossgain or satin ribbon and attach very close to the edge.  I bought enough of both to try, but once I pinned it in place I didn't like it - it was just too heavy for the jacket.  So once more, the jacket just hung around waiting for me to make the next decision.  Finally I settled on these small round fabric bobble buttons  - they're just giant knots really.  I was going to place a loop on one side so the jacket would close, but couldn't get that to work.  I ditched the loops and just went with the buttons, so for now the jacket doesn't close and I'm okay with that.


I also decided that the jacket didn't need the patch pockets - less is more!  I love it :-)


I finally finished the jacket on 19 July and have worn it a few times since - I never really know how I feel about anything until I've worn it a few times.  It is super warm - most definitely a winter jacket.

Would I make this pattern again - you bet I would.  Next time I would:

  • add a wee bit more ease to the back, possibly return the princess seams on the back to the original size 46
  • widen the arm at the bicep and convert the sleeve to a two piece pattern
  • lengthen jacket to original length of pattern - this version is 3" shorter

I've never owned a jacket even remotely similar to this, so I feel real grown up when I wear it!

Way more photos over on my Flickr -->