Thursday, October 25, 2012

Burda Style 2011-02 Scoop neck dress 101

  Ever since I saw this dress, I loved it, this dress is the reason I searched high and low for this particular Burda Style edition. Ok, I wasn't sold on the skirt but I really liked the bodice. When I saw Merche's version, I had to give it a go.

Um, that's not me ....... twenty years ago I didn't look like this either but this is the pic they suck you in with to make you think that yes, you too can look gorgeous and carefree if you're wearing a gathered skirt.

Let me just say that I've had a sneaking suspicion for quite a while now that I'm an overfitter. Yep, that's what I've been suspecting myself of. Well, my first foray into the world of Burda Style magazine patterns has gone a long way to confirming it.

I used an old sheet to cut out the bodice in a size 38 but gave it an FBA (quite a big FBA too) and oh boy, were there some problems! Still too firm across the bust, a horizontal fold under my shoulder blades, bust darts way too high, too tight in the armholes (just for starters). Evidence (taken in front of a filthy mirror):
Muslin back

Muslin front

Muslin side
I tried all kinds of things but really, things were going from bad to worse. Fast forward a couple of months after I've had plenty of sleepless nights (Spain and Korea) to ponder just what was going wrong. One day, I had an epiphany - maybe I should just cut out the next size up (still keeping my dodgy fix for the slightly gaping neckline where, instead of putting the pattern on the fold, I angle it so that the top hangs over the fold by ~5mm and the bottom of the pattern is on the fold). Well, what do you know? It fits ......... perfectly .......... except for the fact that my waist is actually slightly higher than Burda's (short waisted?) and my waist is also a bit smaller than the size 40 waist. Never, has a 'fitted' pattern fitted so well straight up. Never, I tell you, NEVER. After wearing it around the house for several hours and checking every mirror, numerous times, I proceeded to sit down in stunned silence for another few hours and studiously avoid the sewing room because I wasn't game to tempt fate. Could it be that I had stumbled upon the holy grail? A pattern that needs minimal adjustments. OMG!!!!

It took several days for me to break out of the blissful haze and decide to 'get on with it' - the making of the actual dress. Remember my little experiment with a gathered skirt when I made Vogue 8728? Well, never say die seems to be my motto. I decided to give it another go (yes, I know, just how much evidence do I need before I admit something isn't working?). This time, I decided I'd go straight to the tucks instead of gathers. Did I really expect it to be good? No - that's why the entire dress is made out of old sheets.

In the course of making this, I had to give myself a few reality checks when it came to precision and perfection - you are making this out of old bed sheets, it's not going to be worn out, don't fuss, get on with it, it just doesn't really matter! So, I still think the bust darts on the outer bodice are a tad high (lining is fine, apparently I got a bit carried away with the outer piece though) even though looking in the magazine, I think they are meant to end there. The waist is also still a bit big.

I could not however, leave the first zipper I put in, in - it was all wavy and ripply and stood out from my back in waves (at some stage, I'd decided to have a centre back zipper). I'd never had a zipper do this, so I was at a bit of a loss as to what had gone wrong. Google to the rescue - as the back seam is curved, the fabric there was on the bias (or nearly) and had stretched out. Could it be rescued? Apparently by steam shrinking and reinforcing the seam line with interfacing.

Oh yes, that back centre seam has stretched all right!

Well, I gave the steam shrinking a go, it helped although I don't think I did it for long enough to completely fix the problem. I used some fusible stay tape in the sewing line - I have oodles of it and have never used it. I moved the seam an eeency bit (to make up for my lack of steaming patience - muslin, remember?). Back zipper? Much, much better but next time I'll do a side zipper and use the stay tape before I start to sew!

Without the belt - unfortunately, the waist has stretched out even further, so it's actually a couple of inches too big now. Tiger, use the zillion metres of stay tape that you have!

I shortened the bodice so that it joined the skirt at my waist, rather than under it. I've wondered if the slightly dropped waist would have made it look less like a toilet doll but it might be time to admit defeat - this type of skirt just isn't for me. You know I'll try it with a belt too, though!

With a red belt - nope, still not feeling it.

With a wider black belt - nope, time to give up.
It actually looks slightly better with the black belt if I push the belt down a bit but not enough that I'll try this type of skirt again. (What am I saying, you just know I'll get sucked in again by how good it looks on others and give it another go.)

So, yes, I'll be making this dress again in 'real' fabric but I'll be adding an A-line skirt (maybe I'll give the half circle skirt a go?) or maybe a straight skirt. I think I'll also raise the neckline just a bit, say 1 or 2cm because at 5'6", there are a lot of people that are taller than me and currently, they can look down and get a fairly good view of my cleavage. I also need to remember to take the waist in.

And you know, I started thinking - maybe if it was a drapier/lighter fabric the skirt would look better. NO, NO, NO, don't go there tiger! It's not for you! As for tigerboy, he looked sort of perplexed (no doubt wondering why I've tried this type of skirt again) and said rather cautiously "Honey, that type of skirt still looks kind of frumpy." "Yeah, I know, I just thought I'd give it one more go." (I'm sure I saw a look of relief flit across his face.)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Vogue 8728 - Knit dress x 2

Way back in January I entered the red dress contest at Sewing Pattern Review with the intention of entering a red version of Vogue 8728. Being uber organised, I actually planned to get the inevitable fit issues out of the way with a muslin made of a couple of metres of a dusty pink, very thin but heavy, very stretchy knit that I have oodles of (another stash mystery, like the pale blue knit that I have 10 000 000 metres of). Oh, and in keeping with my ability to choose knits that wrinkle, this one takes the cake in that department. This dusty pink knit, let's call it the 'nightmare fabric' just never ends, so far I've made three(?) dresses from it and a pair of pyjamas for Mum and I think there's still about 9 000 000 metres left. It's a bad choice for a muslin because nothing is going to look good made out of it and I don't have any other fabric with it's particular irksome properties - so why do I keep doing it to myself?

Anyway, so that I didn't have two identical dresses, I thought I'd put my a-line skirt on the nightmare muslin and the intended skirt on the final red dress. This dress has a lot of positive reviews and they all look great (that should have been my first hint as to just how much I'd have to alter it to fit me). The first version I saw was The Sew Convert's version here. Loved it, straight on to my (very long) wish list.

The wearable muslin (which I do actually wear around the house):

Vogue 8728 - the unironed, wrinkly muslin. (Looks like I haven't even pulled the back bodice down, or put it on straight, ah well)
It's been a (long) while since I made these dresses but I remember that when I glanced through the instructions, I thought that there were a lot of unnecessary steps. As I'm lazy efficient, I did what made sense to me:
  • that whole thing about cutting out tear out interfacing and sewing the gathering to the interfacing to get the right length, then tearing it out? No! I just gathered it until it corresponded with length.
  • attaching the bodice to the waist  - folding it over and top stitching? Right sides together and zip around with the overlocker for me.
  • top stitching around the waist on a knit? Ah, no, I'll skip that thanks.

It's not very obvious from the last pic but I didn't bind the entire neckline - I decided to leave the gathers raw (on purpose) because I liked the look and thought it would be one more thing that set it apart from the red dress. Here's a closer pic:

The 'raw' gathers at the neckline.
To secure the gathers, I just sewed them to a piece of ribbon (more than likely, one of those loops you get inside every top you buy these days to keep it on the hanger).

Sewing the gathers down on to the ribbon.

The fit issues:
I started with a size 12 but the lower bodice was far too big and baggy.
I ended up reducing the lower bodice to less than a size 8.
V8728 - My new lower bodice
You can see in the pic above that I lowered the top centre. It would have been better if I'd just taken more from the upper bodice portion but for the purposes of this dress, that was a change that was made after I had overlocked the upper and bottom together and when I saw the sagging of the upper bodice, I just overlocked it again (and probably again) until the bagginess was gone, so I took from the top and the bottom when it would have been better (say, if I was less lazy and liked unpicking) to just take from the top part.

Of course, then I had to make corresponding changes to the upper bodice:
V8728 Upper bodice adjustments.

The back is where I had to take out a truck load of fabric (I think I might have a narrow back?)
V8728 - Back pattern piece adjustments.

I took the side seams in to just under size 8. Due to gaping at the back neckline, I needed darts there. As the existing darts weren't enough, I had to enlarge them too which resulted in two seams in the back of the dress. (In the red version, I just took approx 2", yes 2 whole inches! out of the centre back by making a new fold line 1" in).

V8728 - Back with two seams (no, those blue dots aren't actually on the fabric - that's just me trying to point out where the seams are) - I could not believe that they actually matched, first time.

No zipper necessary with the nightmare fabric - this would still stretch out to a size 46 if it needed to, it's that stretchy. This version was hemmed with hemming web because my machines do not play nicely with this fabric if there are less than three layers.

On seeing this dress tigerboy's eyes bugged up and two grabby hands came up "Uh, honey? It really show cases your ........!" I assured him that it was only this particular knit, due to it's thinness.

So, on to the red version:

Now that I'd made all of the fitting changes, I was on easy street, right? Cut it out, sew it up and enter the competition. Well, no, that's not what happened.

I made it up, with all of the changes (except I forgot to shorten the upper bodice in the centre more and not lower the lower bodice top centre) and the intended skirt:

V8728 - Frump city

Frumpy, frumpy, frumpy! When I showed tigerboy? Worried look on his face "It's not finished yet is it?"

I hadn't made the belt at that point and thought that maybe a belt would help lower the frump factor. To make the belt, I covered some non-roll elastic in the red jersey and used a hook closure with another piece of red jersey to slide over the hook.
V8728 - Red elastic and jersey belt
So, how about with the belt?

V8728 - With thick belt.
No, tiger, you've just made it worse!

So, maybe the belt needs to be thinner? New belt coming up!

V8728 - with a thin belt - still frumpy

 Well, stuff it, maybe I'm just not used to this silhouette on me - I'll hem it and wear it.  Verdict? I felt frumpy all day. The skirt kept ending up between my legs when I was walking and driving me nuts. The belt kept sliding up because the waist on this dress is actually below my waist. Complete fail! Then, to make matters worse, I threw it in the wash (with disgust) and out it comes with the hem all down - hemming web does not like this fabric (likes it enough to stick to one side of the fabric though). Complete, complete fail!

Skip ahead a few months (well after the competition is over) and I'm sick of seeing this pile of red on my sewing room floor, chair, bench etc. What to do with it? Let's just call it quits, chop off the milk maid skirt (chop, not unpick), cut that down to an A-line, reattach and hem. So, that's what I did:

V8728 - with A-line skirt. I'm sure the torpedos aren't as prominent in real life, I think that was the way the light was falling on the deck that day.

V8728 - doing my "did it take the photo yet?" twist.

Still looks like I should be serving steins at Oktoberfest but at least it no longer looks as though I just came from the milking sheds as well.

The problem here (one of them, anyway) is that I should have made that top bodice piece wider (for more gathers) and deeper, so that I did still end up with gathers over the bust, instead of big blank spaces where I've filled them up - live and learn.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the gathered skirt is not for me. I've read a lot of tips that say to do little tucks instead (and I now remember that I did try that for the red version before I resorted to the A-line - it still looked awful) which is what I'm going to try for the burda dress I'm currently making but so far, it's not thrilling me either.

Who likes the dirndl/gathered skirt look? If you don't, what do you do instead?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Vogue 1258 - Vena Cava Dress

NB: I wrote this entire post in June but never got around to taking the 'after' pic. I finally have the 'after' pic, so I'm just gonna post it holus bolus.

I 'finished' this dress late last year but there were certain things that I knew had to be fixed if I ever intended to wear it. After much stalking research, I finally determined that maybe a size 12 (even though Vogue thinks I should take a much bigger size) would do the job and set about making a muslin from the bazillion yards of this pale blue knit that I have. Why do I have all of this pale blue knit? I don't wear pale colours and don't particularly like them on me - it is yet another of my stash mysteries. Anyway, clearly I wasn't going to throw too much of a tantrum if I managed to stuff it up completely.  The thing with this knit? It's very stretchy, quite soft but thick and heavy at the same time, I also seem to have a knack for choosing knits that wrinkle more than some linens I have - what a handy characteristic to have in a knit (no, really, it isn't!). Ever tried ironing this dress? NOT FUN.

Without further ado, here is what I ended up with.

Vogue 1258 Vena Cava - Before (sad & droopy)

Obviously I didn't add the proposed extension to the tie, I also raised that neckline.

The sheer weight of this dress at the front where all of the gathers come together was an tear/rip waiting to happen, I ended up hand stitching (and stitching and stitching) the hole closed so that it was more secure. It will now be the absolute last thing to give way on this garment - those securing stitches probably added another half a kilo to the weight of the dress.

See those stupid sleeve extensions? I've folded one under because clearly the intended way looks daft. (Didn't bother with all of the top stitching lines - I had a feeling it would be wasted time.) The instructions for that part were convoluted but I went against the grain and followed them for one of the extension - hmmmm, I ended up with a raw edge. Well, Vogue, you're not getting me again, I'll muddle through with the way I think it should be done on the next one.

Nice wrinkling on the back there.

Now, as much as I love the pockets idea, they weren't working, they sagged down and puffed things out just at the right place to emphasise the saddle bags - strangely enough that's not a feature I've been looking for in a garment.

My Mother's take on it? "Well, it certainly brings attention to your rear and we don't really have the type of rear that should have attention brought to it." Mum always likes to point out that we have the same body shape - "Our arms are too fat to wear sleeveless garments." (This, at a time when I went to the gym regularly and had quite defined arms.) "We have short fat necks and can't wear raised necklines or dangly earrings." (I love turtlenecks and wore large hoop earrings for years - without them resting on my shoulders.) The list goes on .............. I learned a long time ago to disregard most of it - this is one of the functions of mothers isn't it, to toughen you up towards criticism and teach you to sort the wheat from the chaff. In this instance though, I can't say that I find this rear view flattering - maybe if it wasn't a light colour? Not sure.

The back skirt looks kind of tight but actually it's not even stretched - odd, I think that effect is caused by the weight of the fabric.

The entire front looks kind of like it's drooping too.

This dress is also a magnet for pinchy fingers on the tush if tigerboy is around - he says it makes my bum look soooo good - I choose to leave him to his delusions. Of course in his mind this solidifies the fact that this dress should remain a house dress only (only when he's not in the house, if I want to have bruise free buttocks!).

Yes, clearly it needed to languish in the sewing room for half a year soaking up more creases before I could determine once and for all whether it would be worth making it out of a fabric that was more 'me' than uber wrinkly, thick, heavy, baby blue cotton knit.

So, here we are six months later and I've added a WIP list to the blog sidebar which is kind of long and I realise that something has to be done about it. Let the fun begin!

Vogue 1258 Vena Cava - After

I got rid of some of the sway back wrinkling by increasing the sa on the top back piece in the centre and graduating down to normal at the sides.

I turned those silly sleeve extensions under and sewed them down. Yes, I should have cut them off etc. but this fabric is so smooshy that the stitches sink in and unpicking was just too difficult. Quick and dirty was the answer (this dress won't be seen in public anyway, it's more of a proof of concept).

Removed the pockets and while I was at it stole some of the front skirt fabric to put more into the sa's and alleviate some of that drooping.

Raised the centre front to try to get rid of yet more drooping.

The hem seems to be going up at the back - that would need to be fixed.

It looks better, but as yet I'm not convinced of it's actual wearability, even in a darker or patterned fabric. Another six months and I might come up with a conclusion.

EDIT: (Current time) Now that I see the after pics, it looks much better, so I'm thinking maybe a bigger size for the back skirt and a smaller size for the front portion? Will it work? Maybe in this fabric?

Hey, I'm mid 40's, I should have some bling going on right?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Egyptian PJ's for Mum

Poor Mum, she's currently recovering from knee surgery (reconstruction? Difficult to know - she's so squeemish, she doesn't let the doctor's tell her about it, ergo, unless one of us goes with her, we don't know either.) Anyway, she loved the PJ's I made her on one of her trips here and wanted more. Me being an incredibly kind and considerate daughter, scoured the web for some fabric that screamed 'MUM' and finally found this egyptian print cotton knit.

I tried and tried to line this fabric up but in the end I had to settle for close enough because naturally, the print wasn't straight!

I wasn't keen on the black cat but apart from that it was perfect for her as she's been fascinated with all things egyptian ever since I can remember. I showed her this fabric first, thinking that the black cat might put her off - she loved it and was so excited when I told her I actually bought it from the US, specifically for her (in fact, she told me to hide it, otherwise my nieces would want clothes made out of it - sneaky Mum!!). I think this is actually something to do with the Luxor Casino in Vegas (judging by the writing on it) but she didn't care.

So, as she's a bit down after the surgery (constant pain can do that to you), I thought I'd better whip her up a pair of PJ's from it before it got lost in my stash. After much searching, I finally found the pattern I'd made last time (copying her worn out rtw pj's). Even better, I'd even left notes to myself about lengthening the legs, adding 1.5" to the bottom front, length of elastic needed etc. (awesome tiger, you were on the ball). Unfortunately, I couldn't remember whether I'd made those adjustments last time when I cut and made them or they were notes for future renditions (face palm - not so on the ball at all!). Don't you just hate it when you do something so stupid? Gah! I added the length to the front and some to the legs but I have a feeling that they should be longer. There's still a lot of fabric left, so if I find out that I still need to make more adjustments, I can make another pair.

Good old floor pic. I know it looks like one side is smaller than the other but it's because I took the photo at an angle and I'm too lazy to take another one.
All of the seams were done on the overlocker which is playing up for me ever since I forced it over a zipper (yes, I know, what a numbskull!). And another little bonus - my overlocker needle actually put a hole in the fabric in the crotch, a couple of hand stitches fixed that (hopefully). Twin needle around the hem of the shorts and top. I had another go at knit binding for the armholes and neckline but the overlocked part has a tendency to want to flip up around the curves, it can't be seen from the right side but it still bugs me. I was considering twin needling the overlocked part of the binding down but decided that as I don't even know if I've made the right adjustments, I wouldn't waste any more time (these took me way longer than they should have - I was a bit under the weather that day).

Just look at that awesome binding ;) I think the shoulders might be a bit on the narrow side too. Ah well, they're pj's, not a haute couture ball gown.

As I have soooo much of this stuff, I thought I'd make her another top.

I copied this pattern from a top a friend made her years ago. As you can see, my overlocker decided to stretch out the fabric and give this delightful fluted look on the hem and shoulder seams - NOT what I was going for (I always tell myself I'm going to stabilise shoulders seams next time but I still haven't done it once!). The neckline also looks kind of small - what was going on when I copied that pattern? As I didn't have the original shirt or the body it was meant to go on, I thought I'd just make it as is and we'll see. For the hem I decided to try one of the stretch stitches on my sewing machine - never again! After many experiments, I finally settled on one but it took forever and didn't even look that good. What with all the machine and brain malfunctions I was quickly getting over this project so for the neck and arms, I just turned them over and twin needled them.

Of course, I'd managed to get chalk marks all over the fabric, so into the wash. Can you believe it? My Chaco liner is still showing on the top centre of the singlet top - it didn't come out in the wash! Usually, by the time I've mucked the fabric around sewing, it's worn off itself, this time it decided to stick ......... fabulous.

So, now I've reminded myself that I need to mark on the patterns the adjustments I did and didn't make for this egyptian set so that I'm not in the same position next time.

Tigerboy is on to me about putting the 'Handmade' labels I picked up in Korea in them but I realised that the pale linen ones probably need to be preshrunk first and I want these packaged up and out of the house! (I'll be posting about the couple of things I picked up in Korea soon)

Does anyone add labels to the clothes they make?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Colours, Stash building & Long Weekend away in Adelaide & surrounds

I think I've mentioned before that tigerboy seems to think it's mandatory to get out of Brisbane if there's a long weekend. We have quite a few long weekends in the first half of the year, so he's generally stressing himself and me over where to go - God forbid we should stay at home. Now, I like to travel as much as the next person (which would be why I've done quite a bit) but sometimes the stress he creates surrounding a long weekend makes me wish we didn't have a public holiday coming up.

I got to ride a panda at the Adelaide Zoo - it was near the enclosure for the real ones, so good enough.

Well, back in June? the decision was finally made to go to Adelaide and stay with my Aunt who I hadn't seen for ages and he hadn't met. She also used to be quite the sewer and has a formiddable stash - not that that had any bearing on me deciding on Adelaide ;) .  Normally I'd only take carry on for a trip lasting 2 weeks or less but she informed me that I had to bring at least one bag to check in because she was counting on me to clean out some of her stash, naturally, I'm a considerate niece and I obliged.

Unfortunately for me, my Aunt does not wear the same colour palette I wear and loves shiny fabric. I did mention to her that she could have kept me and my future tastes in mind while purchasing fabrics decades ago, you know, if she really loved me. She admitted that it was shameful negligence on her part.  It seems that she also got rid of all her vintage patterns eons ago and what she has left are mainly 80's styles (as I came of age in the mid 80's, it's not something I like to revisit). I did however manage to get a stack of fabric, some notions (dang it, I forgot to take her bias binding!), and some patterns - yes, I used that checked bag!

Speaking of colours, PoppyKettle did a post on having her colours done and I wrote an essay in reply - I'll just repost that essay here:
My aunt was a big follower of the whole "having your colours done", my mother however was completely opposed to it. I've never really known which colours did or didn't suit me (or anyone else for that matter) but I've always wondered if there was a magical set of colours for me. Over the years I've found that there are colours I avoid (yellows, beiges, greys and pastels) and colours I always gravitate towards (black, occasionally bright but dark colours and more recently red) but as for shades? No clue. I was really just going with colours I liked and had no idea whether they suited me or not. Oh, I like purple too - I think it makes my eyes look bluer. To make things trickier, my hair has been every shade between platinum blonde to fire engine red, including deep, dark auburn - surely that's got to make a difference as well.

I don't think I have an 'eye' for these things. Recently I went to said aunt's place and while going through her stash (to pilfer fabric) this topic came up so I asked her to "do my colours" as she was the expert (anyone is compared to me). After much draping with fabrics she concluded that she thought my instincts had been fairly correct and that yellows looked awful on me, pastels looked wishy washy and although black looked pretty good, red and deep orange were better. One thing she said was that if you wear something and everyone says how fabulous you look in it, that's probably a great colour for you (which is why I pounced on red a couple of years ago, a particular red dress I have never fails to get lots of compliments - thinking I was on to something, I asked tigerboy about it "I think red dresses just stand out." was the reply, not helpful, apparently we're both useless in this area). But those compliments are going to depend on the style of the garment too, aren't they?

I've known women who slavishly followed the colour swatches they had and in one case in particular, I thought she always looked washed out and dreary - I'm sure that's just my particular preferences interfering, so maybe it depends on the "eye" of the person that does them and their particular preferences? Upshot - I'm still clueless and likely to be wearing all the wrong colours now that I'm actually injecting something other than black into the wardrobe. Maybe all those years of wearing black, black and more black have made me even less clued in to this concept and I'll improve - for crying out loud, if anyone ever sees a pic of me in a colour that either does or doesn't suit me, please give me the heads up, I need all the help I can get!

Adelaide Zoo


We went to Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills where I bought more patterns and such from an op shop. I also picked up this nifty thing - apparently, it's for communion glasses but it's very close to a scissor holder that someone on pattern review got her husband to make (I promptly ordered one from tigerboy), the only difference is, hers didn't have holes at the bottom.

I couldn't resist the chocolatiers in Hahndorf either - the mocha I had from one was so rich that later that day tigerboy asked if I wanted to visit a chocolate factory  - "I never thought I'd say this in my entire life but I think I'm still chocolated out!!". I bought a dark chocolate with chinese five spice (a combination I hadn't tried before) - amazing! If you get the chance, try it.

Getting some petit fours for dessert.
Apparently, Hahndorf is normally packed with tourists but we were lucky, there were hardly any people around - maybe because we went on a weekday?

Gorge Wildlife Park

We also went to Gorge Wildlife Park which was fantastic - I'd highly recommend it if you're in the area. We could have easily spent the whole day there, the place is huge with so much to see. They also have free koala holding where you can cuddle with the koala for ages and take as many pics as you want - at most places these days that would cost you more than the $15 entrance fee, actually, I think that at a lot of places these days you don't even get to hold the koala, just pat it while someone else holds it. Major bonus, there wasn't a two mile long queue, booking or any of that palava, just turn up, wait a couple of minutes and cuddle with the koala while it eats eucalyptus leaves (their breath smells nice).

Cuddling with a koala at Gorge Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills.

You can ride a hippo there too, a blue one, no less! (I'd say blue hippos are fairly rare)

Playing with kids - one of them thought my jeans bag was very tasty, and tigerboy started to panic when another one started eating my hair (probably wouldn't have been any worse than some hairdressers I've had!)

The park had a lot of albino animals - kangaroos, wombats, peacocks and probably others that I've forgotten. You can see a lot more albino roos in the background of this shot of me with a mother and her joey.

See the joey in her pouch?
They had some strange birds too - this one is looking straight at the camera, rather a limited field of view.

A pigeon? with a perm?

 I think I've been successful in either doing something crafty or picking up some crafting supplies on each of our long weekends - aren't I a lucky duck!

Don't you know it but the day after we came back from Korea, tigerboy started hassling me about where we'll go for Christmas if his workplace is going to shut over that period. It can't be somewhere that closes for Christmas (to hard to do things if everywhere is shut), and it needs to be close (we'll probably only have about a week), so soon I have to start looking into that.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cheap patterns for Aussies and crafty business at Incheon International Airport

First, the important stuff - thanks to another blogger I discovered the site Pattern Plus where they have Butterick, Burda, New Look, Vogue and McCalls patterns on sale for $4 each ($3 for McCalls) with free shipping for Australian addresses. Of course the 10 million unused patterns I already own aren't enough, so I had to order more. For any North Americans that happen to read this, you're probably thinking "What's the big deal? That's not that cheap." Well, considering our next cheapest option is to wait for Sewing or to have a sale and pay inflated international shipping , this is a whole lot cheaper than buying at Spotlight. Of course, Spotlight has pattern sales every time hell freezes over too but you're sure to find that the pattern you want is one of the many they don't have and then of course there's the whole driving, parking, waiting an interminable amount of time at the checkout ...... you get my drift. Any way, I've ordered but haven't received them yet, so I can't comment on the service but The Perfect Nose had a good experience.

Next up - If you happen to be passing through Incheon International Airport and have some spare time on your hands, check out the culture centres (there are two I think) in the airport near the gates. You can try your hand at two traditional Korean crafts for free. I went with the painting of the wooden block and took it to England to give to tigerboy's parents. Of course, I left it on the plane and had to go back into the terminal to ask someone to retrieve it for me - can you believe that someone didn't see it and think "OMG, that is so exquisite, I'm taking it home to display it prominently in my living room.", turns out the people checking the plane did not covet my priceless piece ......... what a mystery!

As you can see, I wasn't as adventurous with my tiger colour scheme as the woman beside me. I also didn't have to draw anything (or else it would be unrecognisable), just colour it in.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Back from hobnobbing with world leaders

Yes, I'm back, holiday over, no more eating puffin or rotten fermented shark, no more sangria with tapas, no more picking wild blackberries while roaming the woods and no more hanging out with the President and First Lady of Korea ................ guess I'll have to start sewing.

And just to prove that I did hang out with the President and First Lady:
I know what you're thinking ..... "That's not a real picture!" .............. OK, you caught me. It was done in the area of Seoul that he lives and works though, so, you know, it's really close to real.

Oh, picked up some sewing mags in Europe and odds and ends in Korea too.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How to replace the bogan pants that will never die (much to Tigerboy's disgust)

So, I travel overseas at least once a year. I take a backpack and I travel light. Over the last 20+ years, I've come up with my own travel capsule wardrobe that works - most of the time. For the last few years, these pants always get thrown in (actually, they're usually worn on the plane). Here's some evidence:



Hong Kong

Yeah, not the most flattering but they're comfy, lightweight, durable, don't take up a lot of room and can be worn in a variety of temps, from chilly to fairly warm - they also double up to wear under long pants if it's more than a little chilly (I don't travel with jeans -  too heavy and bulky and if it's cold, they're cold on my skin). Ok, I wouldn't wear them outside the house here at home, but where people don't know me? It's a free for all! (Unless of course I'm somewhere like the middle East.) They're also well over ten years old, so if they get lost or wrecked, it's no big deal.

The problem? Tigerboy hates them with a passion. According to him they make me look like a bogan which would fall into his "people to avoid at all costs" category (that would also be why there aren't more countries represented here - he can't even stand to take pics of me wearing them).

On one trip, the bogan pants developed a tiny hole. Tigerboy was elated -
"You'll have to get rid of them now, they're past it." 
"Hmmm, it can be fixed."
"Honey, I think they're just too old and they're starting to fall apart."
"I wouldn't get too excited, I have two pairs."
"You don't."
"I do."
Oh, the look of horror - to think that I not only purchased one pair, but two! Double misery!

So, we're off again and now I have him begging me not to take the bogan pants (honest to goodness begging). Now, it's not as if I'd wear them anywhere that we'll run into people we know or a city trip but I think he's reached his tolerance level.

Problem two? I just can't think of a suitable replacement. I have some knit palazzo pants but for a lot of our activities, all that fabric flapping around would be really irritating. I have the proper travel pants (you know, quick dry, pockets everywhere, dull, yukky colours) but they're not nearly warm enough for where we're going. I have 'nice' travel pants but they're not rugged enough for some of the stuff we do.

Oddly, I think one of his biggest problems is the two stripes down the side. In my book, that just marks them as 'exercise' wear, rather than 'I think I look good in these' wear.

As much as I enjoy teasing him, I think these pants are taking it to the level of mental torture for him. What to do? Maybe I should look into pants therapy for him, that would probably be the easiest way around it.

EDIT: I do actually have some decent, stylish pants that I take overseas as well, for those times when we're not in transit for 10+ hours or doing hours of walking in unpopulated areas etc. (ok, I occassionally wear these in populated areas too). BeaJay has me considering some super stretchy bootcut pants as a replacement though .....but then of course, they won't do double duty as thermals, and I already take a pair of bengaline bootcuts with me ..............

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fabric scraps, unwanted garments, UFO's .......... it's all yardage in my book

I can be stubborn when it comes to 'making it work' and I usually come up with a solution, otherwise it just has to go back into the stash (remember Butterick 5672? Not in the stash! Crumpled up in a heap in a corner of the sewing room as a threat to all the following dresses-to-be).

I rarely throw fabric away - including garments I no longer wear. I DO keep them for  experiments and others reasons that will probably come to light at some time in the future. And you know what? Sometimes, I actually end up finding this useful.

When I'm starting a new project with minimal 'left overs' (very common - I often seem to be finagling a knee length dress out of half a metre of 90cm wide fabric, or something nearly as ludicrous), I don't have room for stuff ups so to test that my machine/s will actually deal with the fabric, I go through the scraps and find a similar fabric to practise on.

Then there's also the linings and bindings of things. When I made the Vogue 8555 hibiscus dress, it needed just a small amount of fabric to line the bodice, a check in my 'accents' fabric box came up with a 25cm piece of plisse (I soon found out that that was not the best fabric for lining but c'est la vie).

I made a sun visor out of an old top, made a money belt with part of my sister's old top, lined a bag, made pin cushion covers and lined pockets in the Palin bag from the left overs of a robe I made a boyfriend years ago.

If, in the rare event that I am making a muslin, I'm not going to go and lay down dollars for a throw away - I'll cut some old garment/sheet/whatever up to use.

Any clothes I no longer want are regarded as yardage that can be cut up for other things as far as I'm concerned.

And that's another reason why my stash might seem a bit big to some people - not all of it is 'real' yardage.

Am I the only one that does this? C'mon, I can't be the only one.

And just because, here are some pics I took in the Galapagos when I was snorkelling with this little guy - he couldn't have cared less about me but I thought it was super cool to be snorkelling with him.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Static cling remedies

The last dress I posted suffered from static cling of monumental proportions - and that would be why it's only been worn twice. A bit of googling came up with some remedies that may or may not be useful.

Not useful for that dress:
  • choose a natural fibre (too late she cried)
  • don't put it in the drier (I don't even have one, so I've done that)
  • shake it when it comes out of the drier (see above)
What might be useful:
  • adding vinegar or borax to the wash/rinse cycle (I have my doubts this'll work on that particular garment)
  • the metal hanger trick (is this something I'd have to redo whilst wearing it every so often? If so, it's hardly convenient.) 
  • helpful hint from ReadyThreadSew ->  "wash with a bit more fabric conditioner than you might usually use" (In my case that would mean actually buying some because I've never used it but if all else fails I'll give it a go.)
  • rub a dryer sheet over it (not having a dryer, I'm not familiar with these but it's more convenient than carrying a metal hanger around with me)
What I will try first:
  • wearing a slip (remains to be seen whether I'd then have two layers of cling)
  • rubbing body lotion on over your tights (this is the first one I'll be trying because part of me is wondering if the tights are a major player here) UPDATE: THIS WORKS REALLY WELL!
The thing with that dress is that the static cling doesn't build up over the course of wearing it - it's there as soon as the dress goes on! Maybe we could see about hooking it up to some electrical appliances to save on the electricity bill?

I'll update with my findings because, you know, I'm highly scientific.

For more info on these remedies:
End Static Cling Six Ways
How do you deal with static cling?

And, just because it's my blog and I'll post whatever pics grab my fancy:

Actually - this is a bit sewing related. This tunic top was not the best look on me - straight from bust to hips, nothing in the way of waist definition. It's a lovely fine cotton, great for hot, hot weather but a belt in 45 degree plus is just one more layer so the waist got shirred.   See the paisley?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Size 22 Dress Refashion and PAISLEY

Tigerboy and I went back to my home town for Easter. Going back there is something that I avoid at all costs - I couldn't wait to leave and didn't ever plan to return, so going back is only done under extreme duress. In this case, that duress was the stress tigerboy was putting me through over his angst regarding where to go to "get out of the city" because he seems to think it's mandatory if we've got a long weekend. In the end I was so over it I suggested going home to stay with Mum for a few days - I really didn't think he'd go for it - that seed sprouted into a Californian redwood within about 3 seconds and there was no way I could stop that speeding train short of fatal injury which although I did consider it for a bit (his of course), even I thought would be over reacting and possibly messy - I hate housework!

It pains me to admit it but we actually had a good time, not the least of which was due to me going through Mum's stash (which is approaching pitiful thanks to my pilfering campaign) and I even scored from her wardrobe.

As I was reclining on Mum's bed lamenting the fact that she hadn't had a 'thing' for silk over the years, I spied some dark paisley fabric peeking out from between her clothes. This was weird because Mum and I have very different tastes, she favours pastels (primarily mint and baby blue) whereas I like the darker colours, she likes pretty little florals, I like bold prints, solids and my holy grail is paisley. As far as I'm concerned, paisley is like garlic, there can never be too much and honestly? I'd wear paisley in any colour, just because it's paisley.

I've had this love of paisley since the 80's (probably the 70's but I was too young to realise it then) and it's something that Mum has never understood. Some time in late high school I was going through her stash (it's been a long, sustained campaign) and found two pieces of corduroy, paisley fabric, a green and an orange - I was in love. Mum was horrified that anything that ugly had ever made it into her stash and after I'd convinced her that I wasn't joking and really did like it, she said I could use it. Back then, it was really hard to get Mum to let me use any of her fabric because she was still in the (30 year) phase where she thought that at some point she would start sewing like there was no tomorrow, so her eventual capitulation really demonstrated her loathing of those pieces of fabric.

I made some slim fitting capri pants from the green paisley and I remember that they were my favourite pants for years. Of course Mum was not only stunned that I'd made something wearable from it but also slightly horrified that I wore it out in public - a lot! Whenever she saw those pants she'd try to tell me that they "had seen their day" and should be tossed - I wasn't buying it. In the end I think they got ripped and she refused to mend them for me. I wonder what happened to the orange piece? I don't remember ever making anything from it.

Back to the point of the story (yes, there is one), as soon as I spied that paisley in Mum's wardrobe, I was off the bed like a rocket to check it out.
"Why is this in here?"
"Oh, that, I don't know why I bought it."
"You bought it? It's got paisley!"
"I think I thought I'd wear it in winter but it doesn't fit right and it's really just not me."
"No, it's not - it's me!"
There was nothing to do at this point except to throw it on over what I was wearing.
"Do you think you can do something with it? You can have it if you want."
And so, I ended up with some more paisley but as you can see, it was a bit on the big side and a lot on the "why don't you check out my cleavage and bra" side (I've actually got it pinned closed in this pic).

There are a few rows of shirring just under the bodice. It's actually bigger than you can see here but I needed one hand for the camera.

I thought a quick zip up the sides with the overlocker and another quick zip to secure the front neckline would do the job but it turned out to be slightly more challenging.

I did at least realise that the shirring should be secured before I used the overlocker so that when the overlocker cut the elastic thread it didn't all shrink back and not get caught in the seam.

After some confusion, I realised that those squares on the skirt weren't centred at the back of the dress - bummer. There was also something strange going on under the arms that meant lots of finessing rather than just zipping up with the overlocker before it looked decent.You can see that the hem doesn't follow the border of the squares either - I at least fixed that in the final version

Anyway, here's the finished product which although is fine enough for day-to-day, seems to have a major static cling problem - you can see it around the hem where it's sticking to my legs. I wore it as a jumper with a black turtleneck one day but I wasn't sure about that look. Oddly, although it seems as though this was an empire line, the shirred waist is now somewhere between that and above my natural waist which feels a bit odd. I also thought it would be shorter the whole time I was making it - must have been an optical illusion when it was wider.

I took about 10 photos and had a choice between head cut off or feet cut off - something needs to be done about my photography!