Tuesday, 24 July 2012

My hen night dress

Well it's taken me ages to get this post written up, my excuse was moving house and other more important things!

Anyway, Mr N popped the question in Amsterdam about three years ago and now we've finally moved to New Zealand, we decided it was time to set a date! We didn't want to rush things you know :-) Plus it makes it certain that we'll only have a small number of people, since few can afford to come out! Only joking! This is where we want to live as a married couple and so this is where we wanted to get married - simples!

Since many of my friends couldn't make the wedding, I had a hen night in England, when we went back to at the end of May briefly. By all accounts, I think it was when they had their summer. No kidding the whole time we were there it was wall to wall sunshine, temperatures in the high 20s AND all across the country they'd put the flags out for us - even in central London - we were quite touched... :-)

Mr N's daughter offered to organise my hen night for me, so I had no idea until the day before what I was doing, when she presented me with a large envelope with the details! Unfortunately she was busy finishing off her fashion and knitwear design degree at uni and couldn't come along. :-( [As an aside, the hard work has paid off and she got a first for her dissertation and a 2:1 overall, we are so proud and chuffed.]

Anyway, I keep digressing! I needed a dress for such an occasion. What is a girl to wear for a hen night? I toyed with a 50's style fitted bodice, full skirt dress, then eventually found the perfect pattern...McCalls 6505. Hang on, I hear you cry, that's not a 50's style dress. Mm, I know, but this seemed to fit the bill perfectly. I bought the pattern online and downloaded it, being meticulous with my taping together.

Fabric, what fabric? Mm, anything in the stash? Nope, oh well, it looks like I'll have to go to Global Fabrics - such a hardship - I love that shop!

I found this beautiful grey silk with lime green embroidery. Is it not gorgeous and so much nicer than lace! What to line it with? I guess if I wanted I could have found a lime green, but I decided to stick with the grey instead.

I promise I'll iron the fabric next time!

Only after buying that and getting home, I realised I needed a trim for the neck and sleeves. Nothing in Global Fabrics, it's no good, I'll just have to go to Spotlight... But I found exactly what I needed. I thought it was going to be too cheap looking to start, but the lime green sequin trim works.

Being slapdash as usual, I didn't make a muslin, I just cut it out, measuring meticulously, honest! I still measure twice/three times before cutting, even if I don't create a muslin. I actually cut the lining and sewed that together to check the fit before cutting the silk. The theory being the lining didn't cost so much and I'd not wasted it :-) Like my thinking or no?

The instructions were not the clearest in some places and I ended making some of it up! According to the pattern the darts in the back dress should have been stitched with the lining, I did them separately. Truth is, I got confused between dress, lining and underlining! Yes, the lining is actually lined as well, there's fabric all over the place! The dress called for an invisible zip and had I thought about it earlier, I'd have left the back seam open before inserting the zip, as it was I struggled with the dress and lining sewing in the zip with the seam already sewn up. Then I had to attach the underlining to that!

I honestly think the Gods were on my side, the whole dress went together without a hitch! The sleeve and neck edges on the main dress are finished with a zig zag stitch before hand sewing the sequin trim. The back of the neck is finished with the lining fabric, this is the one bit of the dress I'm not convinced by, but at least I chose a neutral lining, it might have looked odd with a lime green lining fabric. Any other thoughts? Would it be too much to sew more sequins down the back? The front of the neck also has gauze or net attached to it to give a bit more stability.

All the seams in the main silk dress are French seams and I hand sewed the hem on the silk too.

I was really pleased with the finished dress and certainly my hens liked it! Methinks it may have to have another outing my my kiwi hen night! :-)

Oh, you want a photo of the real thing, I nearly forgot!

 Oops! Wrong one!

Is this one better?

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Cosy curtains

Having moved into a new (for us) and bigger house here in Wellington, I realised that new curtains were in order. No curtains mean very cold rooms here in NZ, since particularly rental houses have little heating, single glazing and no insulation. Cosy curtains are a must.

We brought a couple of pairs over with us from the UK. These cream curtains I made for our lounge in the UK about five years ago. It was the first time I'd used pinch pleat tape and although you can't see the tops in this photo because of the pelmet, I'm still pleased with them and like them. I'm lucky they fit one of our lounge windows here!

 They really are too long for the window, but I don't want to change the hem, I might want them longer if we move again!

I also made some cushion covers to match. At the time we had a dark red sofa and dark red accent wall, hence the red piping round the edges.

 The fabric has a kind of leaf embroidered on it

The other set we brought over were some I made donkeys years ago, I think about 15 years ago. For some reason, they didn't stay up long, then I moved and they didn't fit, so ended up packed away. I hadn't the heart to get rid of them. And I'm glad I kept them... Aren't they the most gorgeous colour? They've always been bedroom curtains for some reason, but I like them as they're dark and keep the light out when trying to sleep.

 These are also too long, but, it keeps the warmth in!
A close-up of the gold pattern, the flash went this time so the colour isn't as good!

So the latest addition are these which now adorn our other lounge window. I can hear some of you saying now "Oh, she's got odd curtains in her lounge, how weird!" Well actually they work well. What do you think? Does it really look that bad?

These are a rust colour and are such thick material, I had concerns for my poor machine and if it would cope, but it worked a dream and after cutting out, I think I probably put them together in about a day (albeit spread over a week!) I always line any curtains I make and these have been lined with one-pass thermal lining and we can certain feel the difference. The lounge is positively sauna-like now! Nice and toasty, hopefully we won't need the gas fire blasting out so much!

Like the colour? I think you can sort of see how thick the fabric is too. 
I'm really pleased how they hang. They're great. The fabric came from Fabrics Direct which is a great store here in Wellington for upholstery and curtain fabric. It was a bargain at $8 a metre. The lining cost more!

Mr N is certainly happy and particularly so because I made them up in my new sewing space! Up until now in the UK, I always had to sew in the dining room on the table, having the clear things away frequently for meals, etc. Now we have space and I've got an enormous spare room downstairs. We've bought one of the new micathermic heaters which warms up in two shakes of a whatsit and I've set myself up at one end.

Yes, that is a glass of something white made from fermented grapes! And yes, I ended up throwing the curtains on the floor in a heap, they ironed out! :-)

To end I thought I'd share what happened while I put the curtains up... I was quite happily minding my own business, it was about 10pm (well I had to hang them, I couldn't leave that bit 'til the next day). The steps are normally quite sturdy, but suddenly they moved a wee bit. I decided I'd stood on them strangely. The next day checking the GeoNet site I realised that it was one of the small tremors we experience here in Wellington. Nothing like the one that rumbled and rumbled about two weeks ago! It was certainly odd though!

Anyway, now I need to get on with some more curtains for the small bedroom... These are going to be very plain, made from the dark blue I used to make the spice holder.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Organising patterns

Just a quick post, and with some pretty awful photos today...

How do you organise your patterns and keep them tidy? I'm OK with patterns bought from the store in an envelope, they fit quite nicely in a shoe box (well boot box if I'm being a pedant!) Although the box is quite full already...

Mm, not sure there's room for many more in here!

Conveniently the Prima patterns I've amassed over the years are A4 size and fit in one of those poly-pocket type things. They now all fit quite nicely in a leaver arch file (although that's now full too!)

Anymore space?

The problem I've got is with those patterns I've downloaded from the Interweb thing. Those which have been printed on umpteen sheets of paper and painstakingly taped together with that pressure sensitive tape so they don't go brown and yukky. At the moment I've put them in cardboard files, but I can see over the years, I'll end up with quite a few of these and getting very untidy shelves.

Has anyone got any ideas? Useful suggestions will be gratefully received. How do you organise your patterns, are they in a mess, or have you managed to keep them tidy? What about those of you self-drafting, how do you keep your patterns tidy?