Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Orange is the new Black

We don't even get that show on TV here, but I've heard the name bandied about and thought it remarkably apt for my newest creations!
Now, is everyone else joining in the latest pretty underthingies making-fest?
Haha, sorry, of course it really goes by a far more lovely and grammatical name; "Everyone Deserves Pretty Knickers", and is the brainchild of Susan of Measure Twice Cut Once.  It's on its second year and I sadly missed last year.  Well, partly because I didn't know about it then.  Which is a bit sad because I love making underthings! it's fun! and also I'm an any-excuse kind of a seamster, as y'know.  Anyway, as soon as I read Susan's IG post I signed up.  Couldn't resist!  
The sweet nothings extravaganza starts 31st May running until 6th June.  So, I'm sorry to jump the gun, but I have a few things coming up on my plate at that time and if I was going to join in and make something I knew I had to get onto it right away  :)
My new set is a re-cycling of an old thing... some tights!
I think I used the pair on the left.. no, the right.. no, the left.... no, wait, maybe the right...
A few years ago I made two pairs of deep orange tights, and wore one pair a bunch until it sprouted holes in the toes.  I even gave them a 6 different ways post, that's how useful they proved to be in my wardrobe.  Anyhow, one pair were finally on their last legs (haha) and I considered cutting the feet off to make leggings from them, stretch a bit more wear out of them.  But the second pair was still hole-free and going strong, and instead I thought I could re-cycle the fabric from the worn-out pair into something different instead.  I managed to cut out the pieces for a new lingerie set, avoiding the areas of highest wear from the tights which were the knees and soles of the feet.
Paprika poly stretch originally from Spotlight, black stretch lace from Fabulous Fabrics.  Sliders, rings, hook/eye tape, black ribbon for bows, shoulder strap elastic and knicker lingerie elastic from Spotlight, bra foam and other remanding bra findings from MakeBra Some of the findings were recycled themselves from older bras that have bitten the dust too.
Patterns; I used MakeBra 2610, a balconette style bra pattern and my old McCalls 2772 bikini pattern for the two pairs of matching knickers.  I know right?, same old patterns, like a broken record, story of my life underwear drawer.  Well, when a thing works, etc etc...
black lace, and I made black ribbon bows
Sometimes I used red topstitching thread, sometimes black 
Shown here on Cassie's dummy Clarissa.  Confession time; my bras, while they fit me, are an awfully tight squeeze on my own dummy Bessie.  Whenever I've used her to model bras in the past I've had to stretch the bejeezus out of them, or pin them open at the back.  She is a wee bit, ahem, broader in the chest than I!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

pale pink Issey Miyake skirt

Why a pale pink skirt, 
I hear you cry?
why not a pale pink skirt,
is my reply.

Poetry.  Nailed it.
Sorry.  I'm in a silly mood and obviously having trouble thinking of intelligent-sounding stuff to write...
Ok.  So, at the beginning of the year I pledged to sew five items from my vintage patterns... this latest effort is my first; woot!
The pattern is Vogue 1384, a 1984 Issey Miyake design.  30 years old is pretty "vintage" yeah?  yup I reckon so.
I'm slightly amused at myself that I signed up actually since a few years ago I was so allergic to the very word "vintage" and could not hear it without an involuntary eye roll.  I was like, o gawd, so done-to-death!!  I should say I wasn't against any thing vintage, in itself, in fact I love antiques, and old things.  It was just the word "vintage".  Hehehe.  I must be mellowing somewhat.
Anyhoo, back to The Thing: my cool new skirt.  Or should I say, my skirt of a very very cool design.  As we can usually expect from Issey Miyake, it a quite unique, intriguing and interesting approach to a skirt; being a few oddly shaped rectangles cut, spliced and resewn together at seemingly random places, and boom; you end up with an asymmetric skirt.  Fabulousity!
I know, and I agree; creations made from "vintage" patterns can be a little annoying to read about on blogs, thanks to the patterns being so rare and hard to come by.  Not very helpful; and sorta inspirational rather than aspirational.  I'm sorry!
I used a heavenly soft pink poly crepe from Fabulous Fabrics, the same fabric I used for my other Sea Change top.  So the two make another matching skirt/top set, should I desire to wear them together.  But I think it will go with lots of other tops in my wardrobe too.
The pink poly crepe is on the sheer side, so I lined my skirt with ivory polyacetate fabric.  I managed to cut the lining as just one piece: I worked out how to do this after sewing the skirt pieces together and could see how the skirt "worked", so to speak.  I spliced the skirt pieces together at the relevent joining points and marked and sewed in the waist shaping darts at the top.  It ended up looking kinda like a big quarter-doughnut shape.  Then I just included it in with the skirt when sewing on the waistband at the top.   Simple dimple.
The waistband is of matching, pale pink silk dupion, also from Fabulous Fabrics.  I chose this because it is nicely stiff, inflexible and very stable, which is really good in a waistband for a skirt like this.  While the floaty, ripply, slithery poly crepe is really lovely for the skirt part of the skirt, it is not the slightest bit stable.  And this is very much a waist-defining skirt design, for which a structurally sound waistband is imperative.  
Some skirts are loose and flowy all over and are ok sitting low on the hips in a casual bohemian way; others need support, and the waistband is it.  This design is firmly in the latter category.
What do I love: the asymmetric shape, and the random waterfall-y ruffle-y thing falling down into a handkerchief like hem at the front.  Divinely floaty fabric in the heavenliest soft pale pink.
What don't I love; it's nearly winter here and I'm going to have to put it away for a few months.  Boooo!
OK, I have nothing else remotely intelligent to add; so, until next time, amigos!

Top; the loose drape top, modified, from drape drape by Hisako Sato, linen cotton jersey.  I discovered a little hole while I was putting this on this morning, aaagh! Immediate emergency darning ensued!  I love this top!
Skirt; Vogue 1384, pale pink poly-crepe
Cardigan; I also wore my calico cotton cardigan today...
Sandals; Zomp, from Zomp shoe boutique

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Kryptonite lingerie

As soon was I saw this kryptonite-ish print I was just like, o gawd! must have....  And, naturally, lingerie was the very first thing that popped into my brain.  Well, of course.  It was only logical.
Mixing up my sci-fi sources there, but y'know wot I mean, right?
Haha! I've gotta be honest, this set gave me such a giggle to make.  I've been humming the Superman movie theme in my head the entire time I was making it.  Really.
Da dadadaaaaaaa! Da da dada dadaaaaaa!
I'm pretty rapt with them!  I think they're super cute.  Super cute, gettit?   Haha.  I think even Superman might approve.  Or at the very least, Sheldon.
Sorry.  I just can't help it!  The thought of superhuman underthingies just cracks me up  :)

Technical blahdy-blah...
Well, aside from the loud print the set itself is quite plain and featureless, really.
I used MakeBra 2610, and McCalls 2772 for the two pairs of matching undies.  All black findings and elastics.  The kryptonite print stretch fabric is from Fabulous Fabrics, the lingerie elastic I used for the undies is from Spotlight, and all the other bra elastics and findings are from MakeBra.
And I followed the absolutely fabulous MakeBra Youtube tutorial when making my bra.  Honestly, MakeBra is fair dinkum the best resource for bra-making I've come across, not that I'm an expert or anything, but just in my experience in making 16 of my own bras; that is my honest opinion.  They have a very nice range of findings and tutorial is the most brilliant little tute, well worth taking the quarter of an hour or whatever to watch, if you have ever been tempted to have a go.  It demystifies bra-making and takes the difficulty out of it, but totally.  If you've been intimidated by the thought of making a bra, please do not be; it's really not actually that hard!
My original review of the MakeBra pattern is here
squeezing detail close-ups into one jumbled-up shot

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Black moto jacket

Finally! A wintery day!
It's pretty unusual for me to get excited about a wintery day, haha.  Believe me, winter is my very least favourite season... but I have my reason, see; I'm happy for an excuse to wear and show off my newest thing.  My moto jacket!
*sings* the leader of the pack...  brrrrm brrrrm brrmrrrrrrm!
Silke, the designer behind schnittchen patterns contacted me asking if I would like to road test one of her patterns and I chose the Tina jacket; a blouson style with an asymmetric front closure by exposed zip, and a wrap-around collar.  
Danke, Silke!
I immediately envisioned making something in a combination of leather/wool... well; making this, wot I'm wearing here, essentially.  My jacket here is made up pretty much exactly to the pattern... except I made my sleeve cuffs a little wider, because I have quite long arms apparently, and I added leather sleeve tabs, sewn into the sleeve seams and wrapped around to close with two hammer-in press studs.  I also fully lined my jacket using black polyacetate lining fabric.
Also I top-stitched the body and armscye seams, stitching the seam allowances down inside. And a little bit of narrow zig-zagging along the top of the pocket openings, to strengthen that bit.
And I also made the pockets about 2cm deeper.  So, just a few teeny alterations here and there, after all  :)
All of my materials are from Spotlight.  The "leather" is obviously vinyl, very thin, soft and pliable and a little stretchy.  I found I could use my regular sewing machine needle on it just fine.
The "wool" is a wool/acrylic mix tweed.  It felt quite stiff when I bought it, but a pre-wash in my machine on the gentle/wool cycle brought it up beautifully soft and fluffy, and the collar feels heavenly snuggly against my neck skin.
I chose to fully line my jacket.  The pattern doesn't stipulate lining but that's no biggie.  I used the pattern pieces, and to save myself the trouble of tonnes of piecing the multiple body pieces, I spliced the side front/side pieces together to cut them as one piece in the lining fabric, and also the centre back/side back pieces I spliced together in the same way.  When laying down the centre back piece; I laid it down with the centre fold line 2cm away from the fabric fold, giving myself an extra 4cm in width at the centre back. 
Note: re-enactment shots, when I realised I hadn't taken any pictures, doh!
This extra width at the CB I folded into a box pleat and basted it in place for the first 5cm in from each edge.  Doing this gives me a nice bit of wearing ease in the lining, which is always a good idea in a jacket.  I learnt this little tip from my standby McCalls 5525 coat pattern.

When cutting the pocket pouches, I cut them of half lining fabric with a leather facing at the opening edge, so there's no danger of any lining fabric peeking out unattractively.
Also, when cutting the sleeve linings; I tapered out by about 1cm down each long edge, again to give the lining a bit of elbow-bending ease inside the sleeves.

Thoughts?  Well, the pattern is a lovely classic style and the pattern works beautifully, all going together and fitting in place like a dream.  I really love the style, and how my jacket worked out.
However this might be a challenging project for the non-German speaking, beginner seamster.  This is a German pattern with German instructions and an English translation, with no illustrations or pictures.   Occasionally there were some innovative words and phrasing, reminding me of that time I typed a set of Patrones instructions into Google translate.  Memories.
The schnittchen website does however have an excellent step by step photo tutorial which clearly illustrates all steps and is very helpful.  I think if you had made a jacket before you would be absolutely fine with the English instructions.  They gave a good construction order and they worked perfectly well. 
Finally and most importantly, I'm super stoked and excited with my new jacket.  According to the fashion report on the news the other night, leather and leather details are IN this winter.  How fortunate!
Whatevs the fashion, I'm going to LOVE wearing it.  It's very cosy, comfy and super warm.   Its edgy vibe is a nice bonus  :)

Jacket; the Tina jacket by schnittchen patterns, faux leather and wool mix
Tshirt (under); white cotton, using my own custom fit pattern, details here
Skirt; Vogue 1247, overdyed purple cotton denim, details and my review of this pattern here
Tights; black polyester stretch, using my own custom-fit pattern, details here
Boots; Roberto del Carlo, from Zomp shoe boutique
In other making news, I ran up two new pairs of black tights for myself, in stretchy polyester knit.  I know I had this whole thing about how I wasn't going to make my own tights any more, just buy them... but I'm taking part in me-made May again and going ALL me-made, as is my "thing".  And I just decided that to cop out on the tights when it's so laughably easy to make the darn things, well it was just that; a cop out.  I bit the bullet.  2m of fabric, half an hour of cutting/sewing, whack in an elastic waistband; BOOM yah.
Two pairs of new, super warm tights.
Also I *cough cough* um, "made" a scarf....  as in five minutes of zig-zagging the cut edges of a nice piece of fluffy brushed cotton plaid and fraying with a fine-toothed comb.  I found this plaid in Homecraft Textiles.
Like most of the world, probably, I fell in love with the Zara blanket scarf that was all the rage last Northern winter.  And though we do actually have a brand new Zara store here in Perth now, I don't think we're going to get the scarves here.  However I still kind of fancied one for myself.  So I have my diy version now.  Yay!  And if I get tired of it I can always cut it up and make a top or something with it still!  Double yay!

Monday, May 4, 2015

baggy blue trousers

My new trousers are kinda weird.  They are seriously baggy and they have a seriously dropped crotch.  But they feel sooo luvverly on! I think I'm going to like them, in their weirdness, even though I know I look a bit kooky in them.   *shrug*
See, every now and again I'm seduced by an unusual but super-cool Japanese pattern, the kind of cool thing that looks awesomely cool on cool people.  And then am brought back to earth with a bit of a bump when I look at myself in the mirror and am reminded: I am not very cool.
Ah, well I can but try, haha.  The thing is, these are the comfiest trousers evah, as in incredibly awesomely comfortable, as in like wearing an old pair of trackydacks or pj bottoms, kind of comfortable.  Cool people know a thing or two about comfort, it seems.  Well, apart from the ones that wear skinny jeans, obviously.
My trousers are pattern No. 13, the Tapered Trousers from "she has a mannish style" a Japanese pattern book by Yuko Takada, and  I could see from the picture that they had a seriously dropped crotch,  which is just what you would expect in a "woman wearing a man's pants" style.  So I did something very unusual for me and made a rough muslin.  My husband was a little bemused but Cassie gave them a big thumbs up, assuring me that lots of cool arty kids wear this kind of thing at uni.  This was both encouraging and, um, at my age; also a bit not, ahem!
Whatever, I ploughed ahead regardless; and ta da!
Technical blah-dy blah:
I made them in a deep navy-blue cotton corduroy from Spotlight, and cut the pocket linings and waistband facing from a pair of Sam's old pj's from the refashioning bag; nice soft and well-washed, navy-and-white plaid cotton flannelette.  I used a navy jeans zip, and a jeans-style, hammer-in stud for the button.  The pattern had patch pockets on the back, but since precisely zero of my husband's trousers, not jeans, have patch pockets, I put in double welt pockets instead.  This gives a far more authentic "menswear" look, imo.
My measurements put me at size ML to L, however I found the waist/waistband in this size to be seriously oversized, by 10cm at the very least!! even taking into account that you make a tie with D-rings to cinch in the back of the waist, paper-bag style.  So I removed a tonne of extra width in the waist, while still trying to retain the boofy, oversized pants vibe of them.
I drastically enlarged the front pockets, by about double.  Seriously, the originals were so tiny you would not be able to fit barely anything in them, let alone hands.  I'm used to having to enlarge my pockets on patterns but these were teeny.  I very much liked the way they were constructed, with self-fabric facings and with a French seam to finish.  I think the finished pockets look really nice, both inside and out.
I'm not keen on the way the fly front was constructed, with the fly pieces cut separately only to be sewn back on immediately, leaving you with an unnecessary and bulky seam in the centre front.  I really cannot see any advantage in this, and prefer for the fly pieces to be cut-on.  And will do it in that way in the future.
btw, I have read reviews for this book saying that not all the instructions are given for a pattern; well they actually are but not always on the same page as your pattern.  The book only gives the instructions for doing a thing, like a fly front, once and once only in the book.  For example, the instructions for doing a fly front are given on p71, with the Semi-flare Culotte instructions.  It does mention this in the Tapered Trousers instructions, but since they are in rather small print in amongst the Japanese characters then it's understandable why people might have missed that.  All the actual sewing instructions are illustrations, very clear and quite easy to follow.
So; in conclusion? I like my new trousers although, well to be honest I am a wee bit nervous of them, being so cool and all.   But I think my street cred will survive wearing them.  Actually, they remind me a bit of pants we used to wear in the early 80's... omigod, did I just admit to that?!  Eeeeeek!  Street cred in tatters!
I think when you read a lot of sewing blogs and online forums and what-have-you, like I do, you can get swayed by the very popular notion that Fit and Figure-Flattery are the King and Queen of Sewing.  As in, everything has to skim your body just to the perfect degree, not too tight, not too loose, and be perfectly right for your figure type.  Hey, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that at all; I buy into those rules all the time myself too.  Just that, sometimes it is fun and nice to stretch yourself beyond those rules, to make and wear something that is not particularly fitted, is not particularly figure flattering, and is just stylistically interesting and cool and fun and kinda weird.  And comfy.  Fashion should be fun, after all.  I think it's ok to try out new and unusual stuff once in a while.
And they are so warm and comfy, I'm going to love every minute that I have them on.  Well, every minute that I'm not worried what people might be thinking.  
Did I mention they are comfortable?

Trousers; the tapered trousers 13 from "she has a mannish style" by Yuko Takada, navy blue cotton corduroy
Tshirt; Closet Case patterns Nettie, with short sleeves and a breast pocket, in thin white jersey, details here
Cardigan; Miette, hand-knitted by me in Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Aran, in Gold, details here
Shoes; Enrico Antinori, from Zomp shoes

Thursday, April 30, 2015

lurid green skirt

A delightful morning tea with Sue and Megan this morning seemed like a good opportunity to crack out my new skirt for its maiden voyage.  And we were meeting in Kings Park which is one of Perth's most beautiful parks, so naturally I snuck along early avec camera et tripod to have a quicksticks photo session in a blissfully empty park, prior to our morning tea! haha, doesn't everyone do weird stuff like that?!  hmmm, don't answer that!
This is skirt "d" from the Japanese pattern book shape shape, originally called Unique Clothes Any Way You Like, by Natsuno Hiraiwa.  To be honest, I'm a little bit sad the book was renamed to be something cool and catchy in English.  I liked its first title; I thought it quite charming and I expect it was also likely a more accurate portrayal of the original Japanese title's intention.  Much in the same way that I prefer the title "she has a mannish style" over the new English title "she wears the pants" and speaking of that I have a bit of a grumble about that very misleading new title since there are VERY FEW pants patterns in that book! and almost all of those gorgeous pants pictured are NOT available as patterns!! but more on that another day...  I'm still quite glad I bought that book while it still had that original title too!
Back to my skirt, ahem.
I've made this pattern once before in silver grey, here.  Oooh, I loved that skirt, and have been wanting to replace it in my wardrobe for years now.  Now I have! although the colour is a little less, um, shall we say easy on the eye, haha!
This skirt is such a very simple and yet quite unique and clever design, cut in one piece with part on the straight grain and part on the bias.  I think it can be seen from the different angles how the drape of the skirt changes quite distinctively around the skirt from the seam around to the seam again.
The bias dropped a bit before hemming, as it is wont to do, and I really liked how that looked, so hemmed the skirt without evening it off. 
I like wearing it with the buttons situated just slightly asymmetrically to the left like here, putting the bias drape to the left/back, although the skirt can be swivelled around to wear it with the bias to the back or the right, or even the front although the longer length at the front looks a wee bit odd.  You can wear it any way you like, in fact.  Thus the original title of the book!
Please excuse the multiple pictures, but I think the skirt looks at its absolute very best when in motion, the bias part really comes to glorious, rippling, swishy life.  Really, there's few feelings more lovely that that of soft slithery fabric swirling around and against your legs as you walk.  Bliss.
All my materials; fabric, lining and buttons, are from Fabulous Fabrics.  My fabric is a rather eye-searingly intense chartreuse poly crepe, the same fabric I used for the armbands on my second Sea Change top, here, so the two should go nicely together.  A two piece set-tacular!  It's a little nippy for that top here today, so I hauled out a warmer thing.  Winter's coming, yay.  Please note the use of extreme sarcasm font there.  We get very mild winters here, but I'm still that wuss that barely tolerates the slightest hint of cold in the air.
The crepe is on the sheer side so it needed a layer underneath, either a lining or a petticoat.  I decided to line, and bought some poly knit of some sort or another, chosen merely for its excellent colour match.  It's quite stable stuff, so I merely cut it nice straight and even line at the bottom edge and left the lining unhemmed, it sits nice and flat and smooth and doesn't show on the outside at all.  I attached the lining to the skirt at the lower edge of the waist facing, and it does its job fine.  However, the knit seems a little heavy, and I'm worried it actually drags the skirt down just a touch.  I'm toying with the idea of detaching it, adding some elastic to the top edge and wearing it as a completely separate petticoat.  Or maybe not, depends whether I can be bothered.  We'll see how it goes.  Probably I'll plan to alter, while wearing the skirt to the end of its natural life, unaltered.  Story of my life, pretty much!

Skirt; skirt "d", from Shape Shape by Natsuno Hiraiwa, chartreuse poly crepe, lined with knit
Shirt; Burda 8497 with added cuffs, white cotton, details here
Sandals; Zomp, from Zomp shoe boutique