Friday, 27 December 2013

Lily Anna

Proof that I have been sewing...

I joined the By Hand Anna bandwagon. I made this dress in November actually, it's fabric I've had in the stash for about two years. I bought it from the Fabric Warehouse (I think) not long after we arrived here in NZ. It's a really fine, soft cotton lawn. Beautifully soft and floaty, but thin. It needed a lining.

I was determined to make an Anna, but which one? Quickly decided on the maxi dress with thigh split and the V-neck. Problem, how am I going to line the skirt section? I managed to find a plain black cotton lawn to line it with and decided to do a half skirt length lining.

I made up a muslin of the bodice. I was quite pleased with the fit of that, except the darts needed shifting over, they didn't sit quite right. I also lengthened the bodice by about half/three quarters of an inch. Not a great deal, but it certainly makes it sit better. I didn't try the zip in the muslin - which may have been my downfall later with the real version.

I had nearly 4m of the main shell fabric and making the maxi dress I've used most of it, mainly making sure I had all pieces the right way up, but also those skirt pieces are quite wide time you get to the bottom of the full length pieces.

For the neck, to give more stability, I cut the facing pieces too. So the neck has facing as well as the lining.

I've seen lots of comments about the gape on the back of the neck, how to check this problem. My muslin fitted well, but this bodice fitted completely differently - a lesson in making the muslin from similar fabric. The front was perfect, the new dart position works a treat, the length of the bodice is so much better too. The back however was enormous. Quite strange for me, I'm aware I have rounded shoulders and am very fond of slouching, so a back bodice with LOADS of ease was odd to say the least. I got Mr N to help and just pin the back pieces together. There was about an inch plus seam allowance! Help! Were the side seams still OK? Mm, yes, very odd, must have been decidedly lackadaisical over the cutting.

Anyways, I pinned the zip in with an inch most of the way, but I think it's an inch and a quarter at the top of the zip, ha ha, got rid of some of the gape :-) I also reduced the seam once I got to the skirt, so I didn't lose any of the back on the skirt. Yep, I've fiddled it again, story of my life methinks, cheating with my fixes :-)

So started to sew in an invisible zip, in this beautiful fabric and ARGH!! It just didn't like it. I was nearly in tears. I remember messaging my WSBN friends in a panic, what to do, I'd broken two needles (I'm not made of 70/10 needles). It was also chewing up my beautiful dress. Wah!

The answer came with a resounding, handpick it. Help! I have never handpicked a zip in my life, what do I do, how do I do it? Thank you my trusty blogging friends around the world. I mainly used Tasia's tutorial, but checked out some other sites too. It worked a treat and I was surprised how quickly and easily it went in. Check this out - my first handpicked zip...

The waist is not perfect, but I'm really pleased how it's turned out. The lining is attached to the shell fabric down the split and is machine hemmed. I think the lining comes to just above the knee. The main dress is hemmed by hand. The seams I've pinked. I decided that since the dress is lined, I could get away with pinking and not using French seams.

Anyhoo, I think that's all the construction type stuff.

Mm, methinks I need to get a bit of tan on that there thigh...

The details...
Fabric:  Black cotton lawn for both the shell and lining, I'm pretty certain both came from Fabric Warehouse.
 Notions:   Thread and an invisible zip.
Pattern:  By Hand of London Anna dress, variations 1 and 2
First worn:  To the WSBN Christmas picnic at the Botanic Gardens in Wellington
Worn with (in this pic):  Jandal type slingbacks and if you can spot it, some jewellery which has lilies on it :-)
Changes made:  Lengthened the bodice by 3/4 inch and shifted the darts more to the centre.
Another one?  I've a feeling another one of these will happen sooner rather than later, I'm already scheming which fabric from my stash may work and make Variation 3.

Thanks to the lovely Kat for wielding my big nerdy camera. And the outtake...

Hey, you, bombing my photos? (The Girl from the Naki and Off-grid Chic)

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Secret Santa picnic time

Still a strange mixture of words for me, Santa and picnic, one means Christmas and the other summer... OK, not a odd combination for those born in the southern hemisphere, but for me, the two words still don't seem to match.

Anyway, we had a picnic a couple of weeks back! We being the WSBN. We've now been a group for over a year. It doesn't seem like it, but we had a first birthday dinner the other week...

I digress, this post is about the picnic, the pretty frocks and the Secret Santa notions game.

We met at the sound shell in the Botanic Gardens. It's a great place for picnics and we were even entertained by a string quartet.

I can't believe I didn't take any photos of the food, I must have been enjoying it too much :-) We had sausage rolls, picnic pie, egg and cheese rolls, asparagus rolls, coleslaw, beetroot, followed by strawberries (lots), lemon tarts, forgotten biscuits, brownies, all swallowed down with fizzy grape juice... Phew, I'm full up thinking of it all. :-) We certainly know how to create a feast!

The dress code was to wear pretty frocks - do we need encouragement? And there were certainly lots of pretty frocks around, absolutely stunning ladies...

Hang on, is A Charm of Magpies showing off her knickers, nope, its the sparkly petticoat :-)

Our Secret Santa was fun, lots of lovely goodies to be had. However, this was not a Secret Santa with the normal rules, these were different. Basically we were encouraged to steal from others if we didn't like what we opened and liked something else. As you can imagine, there was quite a bit of fighting over some gifts!

A Charm of Magpies opens her first gift as The Crazy Gypsy looks on...

Not content, The Crazy Gypsy decides to open her own...

Methinks A Charm of Magpies had her gift stolen, time to open another :-)

Two Random Words gets a go

 It's mine, all mine says Flossie FT

There was certainly a lot of fighting taking place. Three strikes at the same gift and it's yours! And I didn't even take a photo of mine... I got a roll of ribbon and some earrings made from bobbins.

So that's Christmas here in Wellington. Unfortunately the weather today isn't quite as clement as it was on our picnic. It's Christmas eve and we have low cloud, rain and a severe weather warning for winds gusting to 120kmh, well this is Wellington. Yesterday was stunning, wall to wall sunshine with a strong breeze. Here's hoping tomorrow it brightens up so we can get out. We have guests staying who are expecting a summer Christmas...

So all that leaves me to do is to wish you all a Merry Christmas and hope that it brings you all you wish for. I'm hoping there might be something sewing related, but unfortunately I don't think the family have quite cottoned (geddit?) on yet...

I shall finish with a photo of our Christmas tree which is looking decidedly windswept :-) (It's a real tree from the windy city!) But hey, look at all those pressies...

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Frocktober time!

Yay! I've actually managed to make something for The Monthly Stitch. Three of my lovely WSBN friends are behind the Monthly Stitch and ever since it started I've been attempting to get my sewing to match in. [As you've probably realised, I'm not the best at keeping up with joint projects, or group sewing.]

This is the fourth in a line of Sewaholic patterns I've made this year and this time I've joined the Cambie bandwagon. [One is yet to be photographed and blogged about.] They are such a great fit for me and go together so quickly too. I have some more of Tasia's patterns stashed away, so I reckon another will happen before long!

This fabric has also been tucked away for about a year (which I think officially means it's from the stash!) I bought it specifically for a Cambie. It's a stretch cotton sateen and perhaps is a bit stiff for the full-skirted Cambie, but hey, it's worked out OK, don't ya think?

The background on the fabric is a very pale cream colour, not white, which I actually prefer. The pattern is in navy blue. So you can guess I chose a fine navy cotton lawn for the lining. The zip is also navy. I've even done things like using a navy bobbin thread and cream top thread so the stitching all matches with the fabric. It's a bit of a faff changing the thread and bobbin a lot, but it's satisfying when done.

I ended up making this for a conference dinner I was going to. It was the impetus I needed to make it up. The dinner theme was a sea theme. OK, it's not very sea like, but teamed with a cropped navy jacket, I reckon it looked kind of sea like in the end. :-) The plan was also to add a lace edge to the lining which showed below the skirt, but have you have tried to buy navy lace? I couldn't find any for love nor money!

I did make a muslin of the bodice. Mainly to check the length and dart placement. [No you're not going to see any photos of the muslin.] But suffice it to say, it was too short as usual! The darts also finished too high and too far to the side, so I had to alter those.

I took care over the pattern placement for the bodice and the belt/waistband piece.

The bodice front is centred exactly. I spent ages cogitating and ruminating over how I would cut the waistband piece with two different pieces centred. I'm glad I chose the one I did for the outside, the inside piece is not the best piece of sewing I've ever done.

The back is also cut to look as if the zip is not really there. I'm not completely pleased with how the waistband has lined up at the back for the zip. I put this zip in three times and this is the best version. Perhaps I should have done an invisible zip after all? [This is just a centred zip, as I couldn't get hold of a navy invisible zip when I went looking.] And of course this dress has pockets :-)

All the seams are pinked, I decided that since the dress is fully lined, I could get away with pinking rather than French seams, which I might have used on the lining at least.

The details...
Fabric:  Cream cotton sateen with a navy pattern from Global Fabrics (that was) in September 2012. I can't remember the price, but it was not in the sale (and not particularly cheap!) The lining came from the Fabric Warehouse.
 Notions:   Thread and a standard dress zip, oh and I also stitched cotton tape to the neckline to help it keep shape and not gape.
Pattern:  Sewaholic Cambie view B
First worn:  To the LIANZA conference dinner in Hamilton, where I got lots of compliments and did you really make that comments :-) PS Librarians really do know how to party...
Worn with (in this pic):  Cream sling back wedges I bought in Nordstrom, Chicago about 7 years ago!
Changes made:  Lengthened the bodice by 3/4 inch and shifted the darts more to the centre.
Another one?  Oh yes, I think I will eventually, once I've made everything else on my wish list!

No apologies for this one, but what's a girl to do when wearing a full skirted frock in Frocktober?

Monday, 28 October 2013

Vintage Simplicity in Plaid

I've been trying to write this post for ages - Blogger keeps crashing - time to move to something different?


I've had this pattern a while and when the perfect fabric came along...

The pattern is Simplicity 3673, view B. I have to say, I'm in love!

It wasn't completely plain sailing, even though Simplicity patterns generally are for me. Because of my shape and the style of the pattern, I knew straight off that the bust line would be too high. My lovelies just don't sit high enough for these patterns. Fortunately some time ago (before this blog existed), I made up Butterick 6534 which also has a similar line, so I kind of mashed up the two.

I lengthened the bodice piece by an inch so it would sit better. I also added half inch length to the main skirt pieces, to fit the waist and hips better. Those darts - they were a pain! They're not quite double pointed, but still curved and for some reason I did not enjoy stitching them. The skirt lining however does not have darts. Like with my pencil skirt, I just pleated these at the top.

The pattern only lines the bodice. I've lined the whole dress. I've done this wrong though, I'm completely aware of this and realised I'd done things wrong just after. At the time I really didn't want to unpick everything. I basted the gathers in the bodice shell and lining together, then basted the skirt and the skirt lining together, stitched it all together, trimmed the seam, then realised what I'd done. Oops! I know I'm supposed to stitch the lining on it's own and the shell on it's own, but hey, can you tell the difference? Only if you look at the inside :-)

The zip took two goes. I just wasn't happy with the placement first time around, but I'm relatively happy with it now. It's a tiny bit out on the skirt, but otherwise, not bad I reckon. The lining is handstitched to the zip on the inside.

Of course with all that lengthening the bodice and skirt, I ended up with a very long dress! :-)

I think I cut about three/four inches from the bottom before hemming it up. Having learned from my pencil skirt, I'm pleased to say the back vent lining worked well and lays flat with no fudging. The only shame is that because I cut so much off the hem, the vent is not very long. I'd have preferred something deeper personally, but hey, it looks good doesn't it?

Check out that pattern matching on the side seam

The details...
Fabric:  Red wool plaid with dark green and purple. Purple lining fabric from Arthur Toye sale in May 2013. I can't rightly remember the price, but it was half price, so probably came to about $40 all told.
 Notions:   Thread and a standard dress zip.
Pattern:  Simplicity 3673
First worn:  To work, sometime in August/September.
Worn with (in this pic):  An RTW blouse from TK Maxx (UK), boots from Overland and a lime green belt from Farmers.
Changes made:  Lengthened the bodice and skirt. Added a lining to the skirt.
Another one?  I would love to, particularly view C, but I've so many other lovely patterns to make that I've a sinking feeling it many not happen.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Sewaholic Alma

Way back in June, I agreed to take part in Indie Pattern month organised by my fellow Wellington blogging pals Mel and Kat. The plan was to make an Alma blouse. I actually finished the blouse about mid July, but I've only just taken the photos. Yep, it has actually taken me nearly three months to photograph it!

I love the shape of this blouse, like the Pendrell it is designed to be worn outside or tucked in. I'm very much a non-tucked in girl and I'll be the first to find a blouse pattern which fits with that.

This was my very first Sewaholic make and I was really unsure of the fitting and sizing, and I ended up actually cutting the 16, based on my bust measurement. Me, being me, why waste time making a muslin. Time to test things? Let alone the spare fabric? Yeah, nah! So yes, I used my beautiful embroidered cotton for the first try! Check out this!

I stitched it up, darts and all, used my new invisible zipper foot and stitched in a perfect invisible zip, tried it on and...

Yep, enormous! I didn't need a zipper at all, it just went on over my head! I decided the darts were actually perfect, so unpicked the side seams and my zip and sewed it back up at the smaller size.

And I managed to sew the zip in again - beautifully.

Hurrah it now fits!

Have you noticed the sleeves...? No I thought not, have another look.

Like my puff sleeves?

None of the Alma sleeve shapes really took my fancy. I certainly didn't want cap sleeves, and the slightly longer ones didn't really float my boat, not with this fabric, so I drafted my own!

I've never done this before, but what is the Interweb for? I took the longer sleeve and completely redrafted it. For those interested, I'll put this in a new post. Anyway, I now have lovely puff sleeves which fit me perfectly.

I'm really pleased with how this has turned out. The blouse has certainly had a lot of wear already. Methinks I'd best make another ASAP!

So the details...
Fabric:  White embroidered cotton from Global Fabrics, September 2012, I can't remember the cost, but I bought three lots of fabric coming to $100 all together.
 Notions:   Thread, interfacing for the neck facing and an invisible zipper.
Pattern:  Sewaholic Alma
First worn:  Now I can't rightly remember, back in late June/early July at some point.
Worn with (in this pic):  An RTW skirt from Next (UK), and a very battered and sad pair of black pumps which I've worn and worn from M&S (UK)
Changes made:  Yep, completely redrafted the sleeves to give a cuffed puff sleeve.
Another one?  I reckon I probably will. This one gets lots of wear. It's comfortable and the fit is great for me.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

I got the teal first, oh no you didn't...

I can't believe I last wrote on 19th August! Help! I'm still here. I've actually made three things up since I last wrote, but taking photos has been nigh on impossible. We have now moved into New Zealand Summer Time and it's light until about 7.30 in the evenings - hurrah! I might get some photos taken!

This gem of an idea was first mooted around last February. I can't even remember who saw the fabric first, it's that long ago. We had this thought amongst the WSBN to use the same fabric do a mass combined photo. On the day the mass amounted to six of us, life conspired against us and other members of our group had family priorities. Note to self: remind others to do another mass photo later in the year!

The fabric in question (if you've not seen it on other blogs) is a teal green silk/cotton with a kind of stripe through it and cost the princely sum of $10 in Global Fabrics (sorry, Fabric Warehouse).


I ummed and ahhed for ages over how much I might need and what I might make. In the end, I went for a Sewaholic Pendrell. This is my first Pendrell and I'm pretty pleased with the make.

The pattern went together really quickly. I cut it out on the Wednesday evening after work, started sewing Thursday evening, did nothing Friday and finished it Saturday morning. No bad, I reckon (I'm not a quick sewer.)

I cut a size 14 view A straight with no adjustments (which is possibly too big), this size related to my measurements. I even found time to cogitate over which way up to place the sleeves! The fabric was great, it behaved. The princess seams are finished off with zig-zag stitch (I have no overlocker), but I actually made the effort to finish the side seams with French seams.

Photo courtesy of the lovely Sarah Wheaton

It was a windy day, my hair went everywhere and the sleeve kept blowing up!
(Photo courtesy of Sarah)

It's perhaps not that obvious in these photos, but I personally feel the blouse is too big and roomy. It's designed to be worn this way, since it's made without fastenings and can just be pulled over the head, but personally for me, I like something a bit more fitted. I do love the shape though, the princess seams and a great shape and the fit elsewhere is great. I'm tempted to make it again, but cut a size smaller inserting a zip in the side seam.

So the details...
Fabric:  Silk/cotton mix in teal green from The Fabric Store, $10/metre (bargain)
Notions:   Thread - this blouse has no interfacing, etc.
Pattern:  Sewaholic Pendrel
First worn:  For the WSBN what's the deal with teal (erm... fight!) about two weeks ago.
Worn with:  An RTW denim skirt from Wallis in the UK, Overland boots and teal green tights from M&S (UK)
Changes made:  None!
Another one?  Very tempted. I love the shape and even if this is a wee bit big, I actually really like it. I've worn it twice already. It'll be great if we get a really hot day, as it's cool and the colour makes me feel refreshed.

As for the day, well I got a bit annoyed with the fact that others had used the same fabric as me (how dare they?) I'm sure I got the teal first and made it up first... Call me your friend?

 (Photo courtesy of Sarah)

(Photo courtesy of Sarah)

(Photo courtesy of Sarah)

Then we let bygones be bygones and decided to be friends...

(Photo courtesy of Sarah)

(Photo courtesy of Sarah)

And what are a bunch of girls supposed to do when there's a children's playground with a crow's nest? Go up it of course and pretend to be in the film Titanic :-)

(Photo courtesy of Sarah)

Mama Gypsy also came along in a fab vintage dress she'd made in a different teal fabric.

Oh and did I mention the weather? The day did not dawn great, the day before had been awful, but this is how it turned out when we took our photos down at Island Bay here in Wellington. I even got the chance to skim stones in the waves! Oh I do love to be beside the seaside...