31 December 2006

Auld Lang Syne

Well, I've talked about resolutions for the new year already. I guess it's time to take stock of the year gone by. This year was a prolific one for me. I accomplished the following:
  1. I sewed 103 garments for myself. This includes about 5 non-wearable muslins.
  2. I sewed 14 garments for my husband.
  3. I sewed 1 dog bed for my pooch.
  4. I completed the first stage of a SWAP, which consists of 11 garments.
  5. I won second place in the Timmel SWAP contest.
  6. My SWAP clothing was featured in Australian Stitches magazine.
  7. I planned out several other full SWAPs and completed many of the pieces: here, here, here, here & here.
  8. I sewed a formal dress to wear to Prom.
  9. I got some summer sewing done.
  10. I started a blog.
All things considered, it was good year. I hope next year will be as good to me.

Happy New Year everyone. I hope you and your loved ones flourish and find peace and joy.

30 December 2006

Simplicity 7990

Pattern: Simplicity 7990 - this pattern has a copyright date of 1968

Size: One size in the package - size 8 - bust 31.5, waist 23, hip 33.5

Fabric: Maggy London sueded fabric (100% polyester) from Fabric Mart.

Project Photo:
In the second photo you can see how nicely the stripes ended up. I was rather pleased with the effect created by the straight grain stripes contrasting with the bias stripes. Here are a couple other fun photos - hey, the pattern is from the 60s, so why not a little dancing from the 60s?

This pattern is one of the ones I am considering for my SWAP. I figured I should probably work out any fitting quirks before I cut into the good fabric. I decided to use up this sueded fabric, as it was likely inexpensive and, in all honesty, not one of my favourite fabrics in the stash. I'm not really sure why I bought it as I am not normally a big fan of polyester (besides being "non-breathable", it is a static cling magnet). I'm guessing Fabric Mart had it on for such a good price, I got sucked in by the siren song of a good bargain. This fabric was a bit more finicky to cut out due to the striped pattern. It probably took me 1.5 hours total to make sure all the stripes would be placed nicely on the garment and I think this extra effort was worth it.

The pattern, aside from the obvious instructions to cut out the fashion fabric, also has you cut out underlining for the bodice, skirt and midriff, as well as lining for the midriff. You rarely see underlining (and sometimes even lining) mentioned in modern patterns. I like how things were done "back in the day" - if you're going to take the time to construct a garment, do it right. The underlining and the lining really do give this dress the body needed to sit nicely on the wearer. For the underlining and lining, I used a Ralph Lauren cotton bedsheet that I had picked up for a song several years ago. It has a nice paisley pattern and it gives the inside of the dress a nice finish.

The dress went together beautifully - all the notches and markings were perfect. This project was fairly time consuming (approximately 10 hours from laying out the pattern on the fabric to hand finishing the lining, facings and hems), considering how simple the dress appears on the envelope. However, it was not a difficult project - anyone with decent sewing skills and some patience could complete this dress without much issue.

I have found that this type of A-line dress is good for my pear-shaped figure and I find this particular dress to be flattering. Unfortunately, it is a smidge tight through the midriff - although once the extra holiday pounds come off, it should fit perfectly. I really like this dress - more than I thought I would. It will make a nice addition to my work wardrobe.

Yeah...Well...The New Year Doesn't Start Until Monday...

OK, I couldn't resist- I mean, come on, it's Textile Studio. I am absolutely, 100%, completely unable to resist a Textile Studio sale. Besides, I didn't buy that much (at least compared to how much fabric there is in the world...). So, without further ado, here's the damage:

Reversible Flower Herringbone - This will become Simplicity 6412. The dress and the cuffs and collar on the coat will be made of the flowered side and the body of the coat will be the plain herringbone side (see view 2). I can't wait to get my hands on this fabric!

Bittersweet & Olive Daimond Jacquard and Bittersweet Zigzag Texture - these two fabrics are destined to be Butterick 4060. The jacquard fabric will become the short jacket and the solid fabric will become the sheath dress.

Silk Dot Velvet, Lined Flower Sheer and Milk Chocolate Lace - I haven't chosen patterns yet, however, I evision the velvet and lace combined in a coat and the flower print as a dress to go under the coat.

Rust Flower Print Onionskin, Burnt Orange Textured Silk and NaturalTextured Weave Silk - The onion skin will become a simple top- I'm thinking Vogue 2925 (viewB). The orange silk is going to be a TS Mandarin Jacket and the natural silk will be the jacket from Simplicity 7305 (another vintage pattern).

Dot & Square Burnout Velvet - This fabric has McCall's 5336 written all over it (the open front, dolman sleeve version in red on the pattern cover). If you want this pattern, it's for sale by one of my favourite eBayers- just click the link above.

Fire & Ice Burnout Velvet and Gold Leaf Lace - I'm unsure of what these two fabrics will become, I just know that they spoke to me. Unfortunately, at this point all they're willing to say is "Buy me", but no word on what they want to become yet. Sometimes, the tight-lipped ones turn out to be the most interesting guests.

26 December 2006

New Year's Re"sew"lutions

It's that time of year again - time to take stock of the past year and decide on goals for the next. Although I don't normally do this sort of thing, I'm going to toss caution to the wind & throw down the gauntlet. I am officially issuing myself a few challenges, to begin Jan 1st, 2007:
  1. I will sew mainly from stash. I will only allow myself to buy 1 m of fabric from each 5 m of fabric I sew up. If my stash gets any larger, I will have to buy a semi truck so I can use the trailer for storage.
  2. I will test drive all the new sewing machine feet I have bought in the past year. They aren't doing me much good nestled in the cute little box I bought for them - they must start earning their keep!
  3. I will use patterns more than once and develop some TNTs. I tend to use a pattern, keeping note of all the changes I will make the next time I use it. However, I rarely actually make the pattern again (when it comes to patterns, monogamy is not my strong point - I guess I'm just a pattern harlot).
  4. I will sew at least every other day - even if it's just a single seam.
  5. I will sew all of the boring stuff I never want to sew, but really need to sew (like white T-shirts).
So, tell me folks, what are some of your resolutions?

Boxing Day Sales

Well, I already got sucked in by the first Boxing Day sale & it's not even noon! Wazoodle is having a yard sale and frequent buyers get first pickin'. I ordered the following (hopefully, I get all my choices - sometimes things sell out):

Fleece - Lamb Fleece Chocolate
I really want to make a rag quilt, but I have too much on my plate right now to make that happen. So, I'm going to make this fleece into a throw blanket for my sweetie and me to snuggle under while watching TV. I figure I'll just bind the edges with some coordinating bias cut fabric and, voila - instant cozy cover!
Knits - Quilted Diamond Plate Jet Black, Interlock Teak Brown, Canterbury Knit Black & Jersey Grey Mix
The quilted double knit will either become a light spring jacket or will be used to line a coat. I'm not sure for what I will use the teak and the canterbury knits. The weave of the canterbury knit intrigues me - I'm really looking forward to seeing this fabric so "inspiration" can hit. The grey knit will become T-shirts for the husband.

Wovens - Melton Wool Blasam Green, Melton Wool Forest Green, Crepe Faced Stretch Twill Butter & Crepe Faced Stretch Twill Coral
Both melton wools will become coats - I have recently purchased some vintage patterns that are just crying out for this type of fabric. At $4.40 CDN per yd for a wool/cashmere blend, how could I pass them up? The stretch crepe fabrics will be used to bring to life a couple of 60s patterns that I bought off eBay in the last while. Although I don't love poly crepes, I figure at the very least I will get a couple of cheap wearable muslins.

17 December 2006

Butterick 4865 - Wrap Jacket

Pattern: Butterick 4865, view D

: XS (4-6) - I normally use a 6 or 8 in tops and jackets and since this jacket is fairly oversized, I decided to go with the XS rather than the S, so that it would not look sloppy.

Fabric: Two Tone Brown Tweed (65% acrylic, 19% polyester, 16% wool) from Timmel Fabrics

Project Photo:

Comments: As soon as I saw this fabric in amongst the fall swatches from Timmel, I knew I had to make this jacket. The pattern is rated "fast and easy", likely due to a lack of lining. I debated back and forth about drafting a lining pattern before I began this project. In the end, I realized that I want to be able to wear this jacket to work over a shirt or light sweater and since I get warm quite easily, I decided against it. In terms of being fast, I figure it took me about 6 hours to complete this, from cutting out the fabric to quite a bit of hand sewing to hem, etc. All the hand sewing is not necessary, but I feel it gives the garment a better finish - besides I like having something to do with my hands when I'm sitting in front of the TV.
This jacket went together quite nicely; all the notches and markings were correct. The instructions were adequate (although I mainly just scanned them as I went). The only mistake I found was that they tell you to insert the sleeves into the jacket body for view A, B & C, but not for view D. I assumed this was just a typo and all views should have the sleeves added at the same point in the instructions.

Conclusion: I really like this jacket. This pattern is certainly not suitable for a couture creation, but I will probably use the other views to make more "casualish" jackets for work. I would only make one change. Next time, I will lengthen the body of the jacket, as it is a bit too cropped for my taste.

16 December 2006

I Can Stop Any Time I Want...

I think I have become a vintage pattern junkie. I stalk eBay and Lanetz Living on a daily basis, looking for my latest pattern high. In the past month, I have bought 13 patterns from various sellers on eBay and I, just this minute, succumbed to the 20% off sale at Lanetz Living and made off with another 14 patterns. My eras of choice (obsession) are the 1950s and 1960s. Although I appreciate the designs from the 20s, 30s and 40s, I am too pear shaped to carry them off in real life. On the other end of the century, I am not very partial to most of the 70s clothing and I truly hate the 80s designs - I will know that armageddon is upon us when football player size shoulder pads are back in vogue. When the patterns arrive, I will take pictures to post.

10 December 2006

Can You Cut the Cluster Mustard?

There has been much talk on sewing discussion boards over the years on the best basic pieces required in one's wardrobe. The conversation has centred around the articles of clothing and how they relate to one another. Of course, there is the SWAP concept (originally introduced by Australian Stitches magazine), which, for me, was a life-altering revelation - no more orphans in my closet, thank you very much! I recently have run across another approach to wardrobing, referred to as "clusters". There are two basic clusters which can be followed (below are my interpretations - see the previous link for all the info):

The Cluster with Separates
2 jackets + 3 skirts + 4 blouses + 2 sweaters = 48 looks
  • Jacket #1 - dark solid colour
  • Jacket #2 - patterned fabric (tweed, herringbone or houndstooth)
  • Skirt #1 - matches jacket #1 to create a suit, as well as being used as a separate
  • Skirt #2 - matches jacket #2 to create a suit, as well as being used as a separate
  • Skirt #3 - softer in look and texture (pair this with one of the blouses for a dress look)
  • Blouse #1 - long sleeved in white or off-white silky fabric
  • Blouse #2 - in a light, solid shade
  • Blouse #3 - in a solid colour or pattern to match skirt #3
  • Blouse #4 - a T-shirt in an accent colour
  • Sweater #1 - solid colour cardigan
  • Sweater #2 - V-neck or jewel-neck pullover

The Dress Option

5 dresses + 2 jackets = 15 looks
  • Dress #1 - light bodice with dark skirt to combine with a dark jacket for a suit look
  • Dress #2 - another neutral in a lighter colour
  • Dress #3 - small pattern
  • Dress #4 - another neutral again, in a different style then the previous 3 dresses
  • Dress #5 - another pattern or accent colour
  • Jacket #1 - dark jacket to work with dress #1 (cardigan or blazer)
  • Jacket #2 - a colour that work with the dresses above (cardigan or blazer)
The article also goes on to discuss accessories, such as scarves, belts, shoes, bags and jewellery. All in all, another interesting way of approaching the creation of a coordinated wardrobe.

You Have to Start at the Bottoms to Get to the SWAP

Hi all! I haven't posted this week, because, in all honesty, I had nothing interesting to say. Now that I finally have some progress to report - I'm back.

I have been working on a muslin for the Loes Hinse Oxford pants for the last couple of days. I know, I know - I should be working on my SWAP (believe me, my collected pile of fabric and patterns is staring at me and working the most effective silent guilt trip you could ever imagine). However, I am desperate for some new pants for work. Now that the weather has cooled down considerably here (it has been hovering around 0 Celsius, with windchills as low as -14 Celsius), I really don't want to be wearing skirts and dresses as much. Basically skirts are off-limits for me in the winter because I HATE pantyhose and tights. I can never find a pair that fits properly - they are usually too long in the legs and I can't stand the diaper-like feeling one gets when the excess fabric bunches up in the nether regions (if you get my drift). So, anyhow, I am already pleased with the fit of my Euros, so I thought I would get the Oxfords up to speed, too. I have about 8 fabrics just waiting to be transformed into one or the other of these pants.

Then, it's onto the SWAP sewing. At this point, I am unsure of where to start. The plans that I posted earlier have changed and evolved a fair amount. I think I will keep you all in suspense and post each item as I begin to sew it.

3 December 2006

North of the 49th Parallel

You are 100% Canuck!

You rock, you are an almighty Canadian through and through. You have proven your worthiness and have won the elite prize of living in a country as awesome as Canada. Yes I know other countries think they are better, but we let them have that cuz we know better than they do, eh?

How Canadian Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Well, look at that - I'm a proud Canuck. I live in a glorious country where we drink pop & beer (that's not watered down), eat back bacon & butter tarts, support gay marriage, pay with loonies & toonies and the last letter of our alphabet is "zed". For more information on what it's like to be Canadian, check out this site.

Now, just to set the record straight, I actually live farther south than quite a bit of the U.S. (I am at the same latitude as Northern California) and I don't really say "eh" all that much.

2 December 2006

We Have Photographic Evidence

I got many compliments on the velvet Christmas party dress. I was asked by one person where I bought it. When I told her I made it, she was amazed. I find it interesting that so many people seem to think sewing is akin to brain surgery. When ever I tell someone that creating a garment is not as tricky as they think it is, inevitably, they respond that they "could never do it." I always tell them that they will never know until they try.
Anyhow, here is a photo of me as we were leaving the party:
Here is another closer photo showing the dress a little better:

1 December 2006

Let the Games Begin

Today is the offifical start date for the Timmel SWAP. Ladies, start your sewing machines...

In other news, I did not manage to get much done on my Christmas party dress this week. Thank goodness I only had a half day of work today. I will be spending the rest of the afternoon working on the dress. The party is at 7 p.m., so hopefully I can finish up the dress before then. Why, oh why, do I procrastinate most when I have a deadline? I have it all cut out, the shoulder seams sewn and the sleeves set in - I guess it could be worse.

Update: The velvet dress is done. I did not get a chance to sew up the plum under-dress. However, I have another tank dress that I can use in place of the planned one.

27 November 2006

A Stomach & Four Legs

First, let me introduce you to Simon - the undisputed love of my life for ten years now (don't tell my husband).

Anyone that lives with a hound will chuckle in acknowledgement when they see this photo. A hound is not driven by love, ambition, hatred or greed - there is one emotion that is stronger than all of those - hunger.
Simon, besides being a glutton, also thinks he is a cat. He is happiest when he is resting at the highest point in a room. You'll often find him sprawled on the back of the couch.

26 November 2006

Party Time

My husband's work Christmas party is next Friday & I have started work on a dress to wear to the event. Each year it is semi-formal - a ball gown is too much & jeans are too little. So, I settled on what I think is a happy medium. I have had this burnout velvet in my stash for a little over a year & I bought this vintage 60s A-line dress pattern on eBay a few months ago. I think they make a nice match. I will also be making tank dress to go underneath the velvet (for obvious modesty reasons). I have some plum crepe matte jersey that is a shade of purple that I cannot normally wear near my face. However, when it is placed under the velvet, the colour is muted down to the point where it is acceptable. Here's hoping the velvet plays nice when I start to sew it.

25 November 2006

Luck of the Irish

I mentioned the other day that I had spotted a black satin brocade at Fabricland that would be perfect for Vogue 2903. When I went to Fabricland today, the brocade was gone - major bummer! However, I did spot some black faux Persian lamb that I have been eyeing the last few times I was in the store. I originally wanted to do the vintage coat (Vogue 2934) in Persian lamb, but I couldn't justify the $43 per metre price (especailly when I need 2.2 m) to create a coat I would only wear on special occasions. So, I thought I had to settle for the less expensive plain black velvet. Well, fortune was shining on me today - the Persian lamb was on sale for $17 per metre. Needless to say, I snatched up what I needed for my coat while doing the happy fabric aquisition dance.

24 November 2006

It Called My Name

This fabric has been singing its siren song to me ever since I first laid eyes on it at Emma One Sock. After days of resisting temptation, I couldn't stand it any longer - I had to have it.

Since I also had a 40% off coupon to Fabric.com, I figured I really should use it. It seemed like a shame to let it go to waste. So here are my acquisitions:

A beautiful silk dupioni called "Autumn Sunset". I'm thinking a full skirted party dress with a bodice of the EOS fabric (above). I should also be able to get a small bolero jacket out of the silk.

I also picked up a luscious chocolate silk dupioni (ETA: I was just informed that the brown silk has sold out, so I won't get any - oh well, you win some, you lose some) and a coordinating scalloped lace. I think I must have been in a lace kind of mood, because I also got two others. The first is a champagne coloured scalloped lace and the other is a black stretch lace:

While I was there, I couldn't resist this nifty embroidered pleather:

All in all, not a bad haul. Ahh, I love online shopping!

23 November 2006

What Were They Thinking?

You cannot be serious:

I was browsing the online pattern catalogues & I came across this on the Simplicity website. It is absolutely hideous. The rosettes...the leg warmers...the matching doggy coat - oh, the horror.

22 November 2006

Paralysis of Analysis

OK, my head is ready to explode! Every time I think I finally have a SWAP plan set in stone, I come up with another brilliant idea that trashes everything I have done up to that point. I didn't realize how difficult it would be to plan a formal wear SWAP that I will actually wear. Add in that I am trying to use all vintage patterns and things are just compounded.

I have about a million different dresses I want to sew up, so narrowing down the possibilities to four is not easy. Also, the requirement that each dress and all the tops and bottoms have to coordinate with at least one jacket is tricky too. At this point, this is what I have settled on so far:

Dress 1 of 4: Vogue 2903 in black satin brocade - I saw the exact fabric I want for this dress at Fabricland the last time I was there.

Jacket 1 of 2: Vogue 2934 as my reversible garment with black velvet on one side and black silk dupioni on the other. I have the silk, but I need to purchase the velvet.

Bottom 1 of 2: Simplicity 3881 in the same black silk dupioni as above.

Top 1 of 3: Butterick 3301 in a knit with black flocked lace on brown backing.

Dress 2 of 4: Simplicity 7990 in a mottled satin that has green, orange, brown and cream in it.

Jacket 2 of 2: Butterick 8020 in the same mottled satin fabric as above.

Dress 3 of 4: Butterick 8020 (the pattern right above) in a brown silk dupioni for the highwaisted skirt portion and a brown ruffled fabric for the upper bodice. I got the idea for this dress from a great vintage dress for sale on eBay. It was featured on the clothesaholic blog (third dress down on the Nov. 20th post).

Dress 4 of 4: Butterick 4991 in a wonderful burnout silk velvet that
Julie has for sale. I want to place the dark part of the fabric at the hem and have it get lighter as it ascends the dress to the bodice and shoulders.

That leaves me with 2 tops and a bottom on which to decide. That is, assuming my head doesn't actually explode!