Thursday, September 3, 2015

snuggly chocolate-y ensemble

True to form, right at the beginning of spring I've made a rather wintery ensemble for myself.  Typical!  :D
No, actually Mari from Seamster Patterns contacted me again asking me to take part in the second and last part of the SewIndependent month and as luck would have it Paprika Patterns Jasper sweater dress was one of the patterns available.  I've had my eye on this pattern thanks to Megan's and Sue's versions.  We're all Perth girls so how fun would it be if we all met up wearing our matching Jaspers, hehe.  For my Jasper, I decided get some of this lovely chocolate-brown marled knit from KnitWit, which I have also had my eye on for some time but been unable to justify the purchase.  It's gorgeous stuff.  Soft and springy and slightly fluffy and ever so snuggly.  With yet another little bout of luck, I discovered it was on sale for half price.  The advantages to shopping at the end of the season!  Booyeah!!  *does an almighty air fist pump, although only mentally because the lady in the store would have thought I was bonkers*
I made up the dress version with collar, and left off that buttoned placket thingie.  I was a little doubtful about how the curved-in nature of the skirt would look on my pear-shaped self, and so I cut the pegged portion edge of the pieces from hip level down to flare out straight and slightly A-line, rather than curving inwards.  I think this silhouette is far far better on me.  
I also left off the lower band and simply hand-hemmed the lower edge instead... this gave me a little fabric leftover, and so I decided to use this to make a kind of mini-slip to wear underneath the dress, so it's like a set.  My "slip" is the simplest affair; comprising a "skirt" cut from the chocolate brown knit attached to a "singlet" cut from cream-coloured poly stretch knit.  I vaguely used the Nettie bodysuit pattern for this bit; cutting it wider and looser, the armholes quite a bit deeper and wider, and gave a random mid-point scoop to the neckline, to get more of a singlet shape at the top.  I finished the armhole and neckline edges using a self-fabric band and hand-hemmed the lower edge of the skirt.
I originally had high-flown ideas of adding a few faux leather details to my ensemble, thanks to a quiet ongoing little love affair with pleather detailing; and so I did the tunic welt pockets in pleather.  Also partly for the extra stability it lends to the welt.  I think they turned out rather well, and aesthetically I LOVE how the shiny smooth pleather contrasts against the fluffy softness of the knit.  
To visually tie the two pieces together, I then proceeded to finish the lower edge of the slip skirt with pleather binding.  I cannot stress enough how hideous this turned out; the pleather was so stiff and structural compared to my soft and super-flowy chocolate knit that it made the hem of the skirt flare stiffly and super-duper-unattractively.  No sooner had I finished it, put it on and laid eyes on it in the mirror than I seized the scissors and cut that bit off; ahem, taking absolutely no pictures to assault the eyes.  Trust me, it was just too awful for words.  So now, the welts are the only lonely bit of pleather appearing anywhere on the ensemble; nowhere else to balance it out. I'm a little disappointed, but think it doesn't look too ridick.  Maybe a bit.  Anyway, it's done, so yeah.  There's no point in getting too upset after the fact.
LOVE this collar.  This colour, too.
Fortunately, I adore it and can see myself wearing it a tonne.  Besides being warm and comfortable and cuddly like wearing a blanket, it's absolutely my winter style.  I love minis for winter, and I love loose drapey tunic tops, and double-decker love the combination of the two together.  It's also "my" colour.  Sorry to yammer on about "my" colours, but I'm lately on a bit of a thing about autumnifying my wardrobe, colour-wise.  
Adhering dutifully but very happily to my resolution to be more mindful in my sewing  :)

Tunic dress; the Jasper by Paprika Patterns, chocolate brown knit
Slip; Nettie bodysuit modified; chocolate brown knit and cream poly stretch knit
Tights; my own pattern, black poly stretch knit, details here It can possibly be seen from my pictures; these have HAD IT.  I've worn these to sags-and-bagsville and back; and desperately need new ones! but with spring here I'm trying to hold off until next year  :)
Boots; Roberto del Carlo, from Zomp shoes

Funny coindidink; I've only just now realised that I mindlessly plucked the Nettie pattern out to eyeball for my slip because I already have this pattern; however it's actually another one of the patterns on offer in sew indie month!
As mentioned, the pattern is part of the Sewing Indie month.  I received the pattern free in order to help spread the word, but chose it myself, paid for my materials, made it myself and am very happy with the pattern.  Please note that as always, there are no affiliate links on my blog and never will be.
The Paprika Patterns Jasper sweater dress, along with the Nettie bodysuit and eight other patterns, is part of the Indie pattern bundle on sale from Monday 1st September until Thursday 10th September.
As with the first pattern bundle there is a charitable component to the sale, with 20% of pattern sale proceeds to be donated to Women for Women, which helps women dealing with violence, marginalization, and poverty due to war and conflict.

My fellow seamsters participating and making their own version of the patterns are:

Sunday, August 30, 2015

an all Western Australian dress

OK; it's done, the second and arguably the most time consuming component of my one year one outfit project!  
Can I just interject right here... WOOOOHOOOOO!
Phew!  so, just saying, but I'm tentatively predicting that this one piece could well be my piece de resistance for the year.  I made the dress, and not only did I make the dress but I made the fabric too!  previously post about making my fabric from Western Australian Corriedale fleece here.  
And I hand-embroidered it, with a motif of my own design.  Also the dress is of my own design.  Is this a little insane? probably.  
Ok, YES.
So, the dress.  As mentioned, it is fully embroidered with kangaroo paws.  Why kangaroo paws, you may ask?  Well, the kangaroo paw is our state floral emblem and my project is an all-Western Australian deal, so it seemed like a pretty appropriate choice.  I sketched a stylised kangaroo paw design based upon one from one of my own photographs.  I drew a few in different sizes and then for each section of the dress drew up separate, big all-over patterns.  Some of the paws wrap around the side seams from front to back, which was planned since I wanted to kinda tie the design together as well as I could.
my muse
This style of all-over embroidery is obviously inspired by the Alabama Chanin style, but the design is all mine.  I chose to incorporate embroidery for a few reasons; firstly to give some added strength to my felt, since the felt seemed just a touch fragile on its own.  
Secondly, for decorative impact too, of course!  My felt is quite textured already, but I really liked the idea of something more, and a white-on-white design.   I embroidered the under-dress, below, in a regularly spaced and repeating pattern of identical kangaroo paws, while the overdress, above, has a more random appearance, with different sized kangaroo paws, placed non-regularly and more artfully; as if someone had taken a bouquet of kangaroo paws and scattered it across the piece.
For the embroidery: I used natural, undyed Western Australian Corriedale yarn, handspun here in Perth by a lady named Beverly.  I bought this from Bilby Yarns.
The side seams are hand-stitched and hand-fellstitched in a thinner version of the same yarn.  I left the lower edge of the dress with its naturally wobbly self-edge, just as how it came out from the felting.
As per the one year one outfit strict criteria, I could not use anything in my dress that was not locally sourced; meaning no thread or zips.  So, I could have used buttons, since I still have some lovely ones made by my Dad using wood from my parent's block... but I decided to go with a dress that I could just pull on over my head and with no closure required.  I used my standby plainy-plain dress pattern, Burda 8511 and drew up a wide, midi-length, loose, A-line dress pattern; two layered and with slanting asymmetrical hemlines.  The under layer is a full length dress; and the over layer is a shorter and briefer one, one-shouldered with a diagonal top edge disappearing into the side edge/armpit.   I cut out "facings" for the top edge, and these are fused/felted to the inside of the dress, underneath the single layer part of the under-dress.  Meaning, the dress has two layers of fabric all over, which I fused together by felting nearly all over after embroidering.  The front has felted-together layers to waist level, while the back has the layers felted together to below bum level.  The remaining lower portion of the overdress float free, and the only parts that are a completely single layer are the lower portion of the underdress.
Clear as mud?  Yep, I thought so!
Also: it may superficially look like the dress has not a skerrick of shaping, with no visible darts or piecing, but actually that is not the case! It is shaped... with invisible darts!!! yes, really invisible  :) The shaping is not drastic since I needed some looseness to enable me to get the thing over my shoulders ok...  but the shaping is there.  I cut out the bust darts and back waist shaping darts, and closed them together by hand-felting the layers together with a felting needle.  This is a clever little needle, long and with tiny serrated point.  You jab it in through the layers of your felt and its serrations enable the wool fibres to meld and mesh together thanks to their own naturally barbed nature, albeit microscopic.  This is how felting is even possible, of course!  Thanks to this wonderful property exclusive to wool, my dress has a nice subtle shape but with no visible evidence of such shaping, such as darts or seams.  It's also how I felted together the two layers of the dress, all over.
It's like magic, I'm telling you.
running stitch edging, and invisible bust dart
Once I had completed all my wool embroidery, I went over and painstakingly hand-felted those upper and underdresses together as described above.  Then the very final step was to run a simple running stitch around the neckline and armholes.  I wanted a nice subtle edging to these areas, not only for some strength, as the running stitch is almost like stay-stitching if you like, and stabilises these vulnerable areas that might otherwise get stretched out every time I pull the dress over my head and push my arms through those armholes.  The edging also provide a nice visual border that that does not compete with my embroidery... and obviously I want my embroidery to have the biggest visual impact. 

So!  This is merely part two of my one year one outfit project, part numero uno was my knitted alpaca jacket/cardigan, posted here, and I have a couple more components still going in the works.  What will they be? we shall see, we shall see...  :)
I may have a few surprises still up my sleeve, mwahaha! 

Dress; my own design based upon Burda 8511, of self-made wool felt with wool embroidery of my own design
Ugg boots; from some ugg boot shop, forgotten which one

Ahhh, the uggies.  I know they're pretty awful but I just could not resist!  Seemed only fitting.  I'm gahn the full Strine here, mate.  :)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

forest green twist top

I’ve made a new top.
This is, as my title oh-so subtly suggests, the twist top from Pattern Magic; and is my fourth iteration of this top.  First three are here, here and here.
Clearly I love this design. And I’ve often pondered upon how much I would like to have one in every colour.  Except that would be excessive and wasteful.  Bad me, for even thinking it.  Bad, extravagant, greedy, covetous me.  I guess one good thing about making everything yourself is that you are constrained from having an overly huge wardrobe by your own free time, or lack of it; by having to physically make each and every darn thing yourself.  I like to pretend to myself that this factor introduces some carefully considered introspection into the matter. 
Ha!  We can but hope! 
I bought this length of stable, slightly stretchy, thin-but-warm, forest green ponte from Potters Textiles, from the $2 remnant bin.  Hmmm, don’t you just HATE when someone brags about how cheap their fabric/pattern/clothing/whatever was?  Yeah, me too.  Loathe it.
Anyway, it’s the kind of project that you can start and have ready to wear in about half an hour, flat; even including weaving those bitsy overlocker ends back in.  Fabric out, pattern down, cut, vroom through the machines by turn, a few minutes of weaving and neckline-hemming.  Done!
Believe me, I needed something fast and brainlessly easy, as a little bit of light relief from my 1year1outfit project.  Honestly, that’s been a far bigger endeavor that I originally anticipated.  But the good news is that the second component of my outfit is actually and finally finished!!!  WOOOOOT!  To be appearing here very soon.  Very very soon.
In the meantime, this. 
So, in a nutshell…
One of my favourite designs; check.
One of “my” colours; check.
Is it seasonally appropriate… oh bum.  No. 
Winter’s practically over and it’s actually getting comfortably warm around about these here parts.  Oh well! There’s always next year!  As if I have any reason at all to complain about the return of warmer weather, no sirree, not I most definitely do not.  Summer, oo yeah baby, bring it.  I am so ready!!!
OK I got nothing else!  Tootles!

Top; the twist top from Pattern Magic, forest green ponte
Jeans; Burda 7863, brown stretch bengaline, details here and my review ofthis pattern here
Socks; handknit by me, details here
Shoes; Francesco Morichetti, from Zomp shoes

Saturday, August 15, 2015

reversible infinity, or twist, dress

I love working out convoluted construction puzzles in the process of sewing something and this new dress ticked that box very nicely.
It looks kinda plain upon first glance, but it's actually based upon a very unusual twisted design by Anita, of Studio Faro.  
And now I have to apologise right here because I've just searched forever for the design on Anita's blog to link to it, and I find I did not even pin it... so I cannot. I'm sorry! but I'm pretty sure I saw the sketch for the pattern piece on either Anita's blog, studio faro well-suited, or her Facebook page.

Later edit; thanks to Emily I found it, Anita's original design is here.
Anyway.   In making it, I realised it was just like an infinity scarf, but in dress form.  Unique!
And, my dress is fully reversible! with all the seam allowances enclosed and tucked away neatly between the two layers of the dress.  The construction technique to make it reversible is one that I worked out myself and not something I've ever seen in any pattern or design before.  This was the part of it that kept me on my toes, brainstorming a way to make it happen.  I'm super chuffed that it did work out.  :)
In my initial plans; it was not going to be a reversible design and I wanted to use double-sided fabric for my dress, but the only ones I could find were kinda expensive, and much as I craved the actualisation of that idea I just couldn't justify the cost...  economy can often be the mother of invention, non?  Eventually I settled with a double layered dress using two lightweight fabrics, and then while I was fiddling about with the two layers I realised I could actually make it a completely reversible dress, meaning I could wear it inside out just as easily ... and ta da!  this is the result!

Right way out; I wanted the white at the front and red at the back.  The way the infinity twist goes; the dress is actually mostly open at the right side seam, but the way it crosses over there is a restriction in the drape of the hemline so that it sits with the opening closed quite securely; and there is absolutely no danger of the drape falling open and exposing your knickers at all.  I tried to move and sit in it a few times to see if I could possibly get humiliated from any hint of exposure in the dress and am happy to say I could not make it happen.

The one single pattern piece looks like this, and you rotate the "upside-down" part around clockwise and up, to lie over on the "right-side up" part.  This naturally forms an infinity-twisted drape at the side, and the wrong side of the fabric against the right side, front and back.
   Any straight or sheath dress design could be used to get this pattern piece;  I used my old standby Burda 8511 as my sheath dress sloper.  It's one I've made enough times over the years to have tweaked and fiddled with it enough to have fine-tuned the fit to my pear-shaped self just about perfectly. 
By the way; if you're at all interested in creating your own pattern manipulations like this one, and this goes for just about all the Pattern Magic designs too; my recommendation is make a sturdy, fabric sloper.  It's a good idea to have one for a sheath dress, a bodice and possibly a skirt too.  You could use a well-fitting, tried and true pattern like this one, if you have one; in any case get a basic pattern and make up a few samples to fine-tune your fit.  Once you've fiddled and diddled enough to discover the perfect adjustments for you; get some strong fabric that's not going to rip or fray easily, like an old sheet... these often have the most fabulously high thread count making them super-tough!  Then cut out your perfectly-fitting pattern pieces.  Using a clear, easy-to-see marking pen of some sort, mark on the sloper pieces the waist line, hipline, bust points, back dart points, the straight grainline and the bias grainlines going both ways.  I used bright red marking pen.  This sloper can be kept rolled up with your patterns for whenever you have new ideas and want to play about with making new designs for yourself  :)
Why fabric, not paper? well obviously so you can baste it together and put it on!  wearing a paper version of a thing is absolutely nothing like the real fabric thing, we all know that!  Paper has zero drape, plus it rips all too easily  :D
The middle, joining piece goes from the waist to the hemline.  I left off all shaping darts, so the "dress" portion is a kinda shapeless sack, a base-point which I think is a good criteria for a double layered reversible design.  I also cut it so that I can just slip the dress over my head, eliminating the need for a zip.  Obviously that feature is essential in a reversible dress too!
I used a lovely rayon crepe from Fabulous Fabrics, in red and white, and needed 1.8m of 150cm wide fabric in each colour.  Having the nice wide fabric meant I could cut my pieces on-grain and with no joining seams in the pieces.
The white is quite sheer, and just about all seam finishes except for French looked absolutely dreadful underneath it; so after a bit of experimenting I went with seam allowances done like this:
Firstly I stitched the seam allowances with a regular 1.5cm(5/8") seam allowance.  Pressed to set it, pressed open to get the crease set, then pressed back closed again.  Secondly stitched a second pass of stitching just inside the seam allowance.  Lastly, trimmed the seam allowance to an even narrow width.  This should be pretty secure and stable with the double stitching.  And the "ghost" of this seam allowance as it appears showing on the white outside looks quite nice, almost like a French seam.  
By the way, I did consider trying to do actual French seams in this dress for about a hot minute, before I got sensible and realised in that way insanity lies and I would be tearing my hair out and frothing at the mouth in no time at all....  in any case, the reversibility of my construction technique means that all my seam allowances are enclosed with the two layers of the dress, so there's no danger of any seam allowance coming out on view anyway.  The ultimate in neat-looking insides, yay!
There are only three bits of almost invisible hand-stitching closing the layers: the two inside shoulder seams, and a short length on the inside hanging drape; through which I pulled the entire dress in the very last step before closing it up.
The drape can be adjusted to sit in different ways; like pulled completely through to the front as in the top picture.  I also like it pull it back through on itself a little bit, and have it sitting more balanced.  It does look nice like this, but it does eventually tend to slip naturally back into its default position, probably because my fabric is quite slithery and slippery.  If it were made up in linen, which is more "grabby", it would probably hold a different position better.
The dress does have a front and a back, the only way to tell them apart is by holding it up at the shoulders so you can see the lower scoop of the front neckline.  However I can wear it with a red front and a white back if I like by pulling it inside out and wearing it with the lining side out... hello, reversibility for the win!  Below is the dress worn in reverse; i.e., with the "lining" on the outside.  It doesn't look that different to if the dress was worn back to front, just in small details.  Unless you looked closely at the shoulders and saw that they were hand-stitched closed, you probably couldn't tell this was the inside of the dress!
Although I really like how the dress looks, I'm not completely happy with some of my construction in this one...  I found to my cost that one majorly important aspect is to make sure that the two outer, left side-seam edges are exactly, and I mean exactly the same length!!  This is the boo boo I made; mine were out by a mere 1cm, which was enough to put my side seam out by a touch, so it hangs a weeny bit too wibbly-wobbly for my taste.  So I'm thinking of this one as a kind of prototype or wearable muslin, and want to make another "proper" one for myself, although I will wear this one a lot too.
Maybe if I make it again I'll do a proper tute on how it all goes together, reversibly.  

Dress; a variation on Burda 8511 and based upon a design idea of Anita from studio faro; in red and white rayon crepe
Sandals; Zomp, from Zomp shoes

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

a bit of re-colouration

I've just been updating a few bits and bobs in my wardrobe...
when I get bored or dissatisfied with a particular item but it's still in perfectly good nick or I still kinda like it because of a good shape/style or I put a dangload of effort into finishing it off particularly well or whatever; I will not toss it out.  Instead I 'avvago at re-vamping it somehow. 
And this often includes dragging out ye olde dyepot and potions, aka dyes, eeeeeeeEEE heheheheheheheeeeee!!  That was an evil witch's cackle there, just in case my written word did not adequately translate to the spoken word, ahem.

So, revamp-eroonie; DONE. 
Exhibit A; my little yellow cotton corduroy skirt.  Absolutely nothing wrong with it, but I was just getting meh about it.  Plus the clear yellow colour was a bit sharp and not one of "mine".  Since my khaki dress I have been thinking more about "my" colours and having more of them in my wardrobe.  Sorta de-wintering my wardrobe and autumn-ifying it some more, if you will.
I used iDye in Brown and a tiny touch of the True Red, and got this rather wonderful deep caramel colour, in the top picture.  Hehe, it's funny; because actually I was aiming for mustard! important moral of the story; you should never ever never dye something that you are so much in love with that you couldn't bear an unexpected outcome.  Potential dyers, engrave that on your dye pots as it is one of the Commandments of Dyeing.
Anyway, I could not be happier with this super yummy, albeit unexpected, colour.  
Unsurprisingly, the poly satin I used for the lining and bias binding did not take up the dye one tiny little bit.
woa, crack out the sunnies!

Exhibit B; while in the mood for dyeing, I also got out my pale blue, supposedly silk shirt (all original construction details here) and gave it a facelift.  Supposedly? well it was sold as silk, but its mild lack of enthusiasm for taking up the dye speaks to some synthetic content, ahem.  Not that I mind! it's been a wonderful blouse and I love the shape unconditionally.  Just that it has faded drastically and its colour was now palling on me; or should that more accurately read, appalling on me?  Yeah, probably.
Anyway, it got treated to iDye in True Red.  
Much better!
Now; compare the new colour of the previously same coloured cotton bias binding ... that strong red was what I was aiming for, although I like this warm tangerine colour just fine.  I'm just going to enjoy it as this colour for a while; and if I still want the deep true red colour I'll pick up some red dye suitable for synthetics and give another whirl.  See how we go.

Exhibit C; not a biggie, but I switched the yellow buttons on my forest green Miette cardigan for new deep green ones.  
I think it's going to be a tonne more mix 'n' matchable like this, since previously it pretty much went ONLY with my mustard dress below, or with all-white ensembles.  The yellow buttons were a distraction, I can see that now.  My mistake.  Also, I think the lacework shines a little more than it did before.

So, that's it!  
In my current sewing news; I'm still struggling away with embroidering my felted wool, for my 1 year 1 outfit ensemble.  Every now and again I have to lay it aside and do something else.  It's wearing me down a bit but I am certain I am going to love the finished piece and am quite excited to see it all come together.  Ever onward and upwards!

my tutorial on basic dyeing here

Thursday, August 6, 2015

ziggyzag madness

buzzy buzz
I've made some zigzaggy bumblebee pyjamas, but not for me.  This was a request.  It is nice to get a request! well, every now and again I mean.  Not too frequently, hehe.   
I know they look pretty baggy on me but I'm happy to report that they do fit their actual owner very nicely.  :)
The cotton flannelette is from Spotlight, and the colour and print were the choice of the recipient.  Fortunately I pretty much had design carte blanche; the only stipulation was the yellow zigzag for the bottoms and the black for the top.  I was worried about it all being a bit bland and/or strange looking, so decided to insert some piping from the other colour onto each piece for a bit of interest and to tie them more to each other, make it look more like a "set".  And it's funny, because the fabric didn't turn me on much at first, but doing that piping detail really turned them from "meh" to "hmmm, I think I likey!" for me!  Now they're finished, I even think, ahem; maybe I love them, just a little?
Serendipitous discovery of the day; chevron makes a rather attractive piping insert.
 The yellow cuffs  might look like an interesting design decision but were really a necessity born of lack-of-fabric, because I barely had enough of the black to squeak out the pieces for the top, and the pyjama-recipient wanted lovely long sleeves.  Much longer than I had enough fabric for! eeeek!  One thing I've learnt to my cost is that the Spotlight range of flannelette is very narrow; annoyingly so... grrrrrrr!
Although once I put those yellow cuffs on I actually love them too.  I was very worried they would look weird too.  Miraculously I think they do not.  The top actually looked rather blah without them.
So woot!  New jammies to keep my loved one beautifully warm and cosy for these last nasty days of winter, and I can tick another item off my list.
Also, I discovered there's nothing quite like a set of oversized pyjamas for bringing out the diva supermodel in one's posing repertoire...
The pyjama pants are traced from off of a previous pair, and have a faux fly, elastic waistband, side seam pockets and a folded cuffs with piping insert.  The top is based upon Burda magazine 10/2009, top 121, with a minor modification; namely for the neckline to have an almost grandpa-like buttoned placket, but made with a front and back inner facing.  The buttons are navy blue, also as chosen by the recipient.  They work surprisingly well with black and yellow!
I've used this same top pattern twice before, firstly for my very own winter jammie top here, and secondly for my olive faux suede top.