Wednesday 8 December 2010

I hate jewel necks

I had a slow day at work, so I took the afternoon off and had the house to myself!  Should I do a whirlwind housecleaning?  or finish my almost instant gratification top

I made a few more alternations when I was halfway through the sewing.  I decided to open up the armscye a bit, since I felt like my upper arms were being strangled.  I also decided that I preferred a side zip to a back one, so I added a hook-and-eye closure to the back neck and put in a vintage zip on the right side.  Much nicer!  I'm also divided about the jewel neck:  on the one hand, it looks good and is period-appropriate; on the other hand, I hate the feel on the throat....  ben, faut suffrir pour ĂȘtre belle....

 This tutorial was a very helpful reminder of how to sew a railroad zipper; I've only sewn invisible zips for the last little while, but I actually thought this type would go better with the period pattern.

Monday 6 December 2010

(almost) Instant gratification Xmas top

Since we are going to be away for much of December, (travelling to visit both families), I won't be able to do any sewing.  I also don't have a lot of time this week because I'm trying to finish testing a yeast-based assay that has been kicking my a** for months!  So....I need some instant sewing gratification.  This little overblouse should be just the thing:   

I know I posted before that I would probably never use this pattern because I had to grade it up.  The fact is, I'm two sizes smaller in the bust than in the waist and hip, so I only had to add a meager 12mm to each side seam. 

 I got this pinecone fabric on Etsy a while ago, but not because it looked Christmas-y.  In fact, I didn't think of Christmas at all when I saw it; it reminded me of textbook illustrations from a schoolbook I had back in the '70s that had probably been published in the '50s.  You know, one of those three-colour illustrations depicting The Coniferous Forest (or something like that; probably something to do with the unlimited resources of the Dominion or some such crap).

(I knew that drafting tool from my engineering school days would someday come in handy!)

There were some stains that had to be avoided in the pattern layout...the Etsy seller had pointed them out, so I knew I would need to ignore the recommended pattern layout instructions anyway. 

I also added about 7cm to the bottom, since I like a slightly longer top.  This should be complete in a couple of days, barring any disasters at home or in the lab! 

Now that I look at the pattern layout, there appears to be enough left over to make a little extra something... Would it be completely unforgiveable to make a matching top or skirt for my little girl?  Or is that so matante that I should forget it?

Sunday 5 December 2010

A linguistic curiosity

I have two reference books that I use for sewing:  one french and one english.  I just discovered this distinction between the two languages when it comes to seams:

(French seam in english; english seam in french.  Hmmmm.)

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Persistence pays off

I started this blog with a horror story.....oh the horror of vintage patterns being used as wrapping paper....

But there has been a happy turn to the story:  Now that I've cornered every volunteer at the shop, they all know they should save the patterns for the crazy lady who still makes her own clothes.  Every week or so I stop by and there is a nice little box waiting for me.  Any fugly ones get thrown back in the pile, destined to wrap someone's tea set, while the beauties come home to live with me!




And my faves: 
The red blouse with the stand-up collar?  Yes please!

I know this is maternity, but I think it could work anyway.

Saving this one to make for the spring

Very nice, but needs to be graded up.  IOW, I'll probably never get around to it...

Tuesday 30 November 2010

Burdastyle Entry

I made it into the top 50 in the Burdastyle competition!  There were around 160 entries, but the realistic side of me thinks that I was included because not everyone followed the entry directions correctly ;) 

Take a look at my entry here.

And here are some of my favourites:  nyphertiti's Halston dressChartreuseant's '30s gown and Mixiltii's '50s dress,

Tuesday 23 November 2010

On set with Barry and Shashi

My cousin Barry Muise and our friend Shashi Singam were setting up a new studio and trying out the lighting, so they agreed to do some free shots for me to enter the Bernina competition.  Consider it a little payback from letting them use our dilapidated barn a couple of times for photo shoots. 

With my man out of town, luckily my little guy was willing to step in (well, lie in) and play the part of Colin Firth.  One set of 3D glasses with the lenses popped out...and....done!

One of the only shots without closed eyes, tongue out, weird red face from laughing too get the idea.  I guess I'll never fulfill my dream of being an international supermodel.  That's why I had to settle for jet-setting international super-scientist.  Sigh. 

Friday 19 November 2010

A Single Man Dress - Complete!

So, 11pm on a Friday night, after a long week of overtime and looking after the kids....A Single Man Dress is done!  (please ignore the tired eyes + flash pics) 

I used double knit ponti di roma for the body of the dress, the cape and the white block.  The cape is lined with an unknown white synthetic (a Village des Valeurs find for $3).  I was originally thinking of using a wool or wool blend, but then I remembered how insanely itchy wool makes me and I knew I would never wear it, no matter how great it looked.  After a few attempts at insetting the white block, I realized I was waaaay out of my (sewing) league.  There was just too much puckering.  I decided to topstitch a double layer of the white ponti di roma to the front, which worked much better.  The cape was attached at the shoulder seams with small loops of black fabric and four vintage black buttons.     

I'm getting some professional shots done tomorrow.  Having a cousin who is a commercial photographer can certainly come in handy!  I'll post them when we're done. Good night all.

Sunday 14 November 2010

I feel like I've joined a secret club

We went to an estate sale this weekend that was described as "car, house and entire house contents including piano, furniture, antiques, tools and fabric, etc."  When we arrived, I discovered that the woman had been a dressmaker and had a dedicated sewing room full to the brim!  From the looks of her supplies, she must have been working from about the 1960s-1990s, and there are still a few unfinished projects hanging on the walls.

Looking through her closet was like an archeological dig through strata of fabric: on top were the cheaper synthetics and cottons from the '80s-'90s; further down were the linens and blends; deeper still were the formal fabrics (satins, silk linings, matching zippers) and finally at the very bottom were the silks and wool suiting.

While sorting into "buy" and "leave" piles, I chatted with several women who came to take a look.  They lamented the fact that few people make things anymore and how hard it was to find a good dressmaker (and this in Montreal!)  We examined all the lovely textiles and compared guesses as to the content of some blends.  We talked about what could be made from some of the yardage we found.  One woman even tentatively asked me if I was a dressmaker, since she was looking for someone to make some items for her.  I had to disappoint them by telling them how novice I am! 

When I was packing up to leave, the woman in charge of the estate sale approached me with a note.  She had written her name and phone number for me.  Holding up her arthritic hands, she told me that she used to be a tailor, but could no longer sew, and would I be interested in all her supplies?  "Give me a call sometime, and you are welcome to everything you like, for free of course."  And she gave my bags of fabric a cursory look and asked for $40 for the lot (around 100 metres in total). 

Synthetics.  I am so loving the print on the far left, dated 1972.

Linen and cotton.  That op art lilac number has my name all over it. 
Silks.  The chinese style in red was from Hong Kong (it was wrapped), the floral is crisp and lovely and the silvery-grey is much nicer than you can see in the photo.

That cream coloured wool is already earmarked for a sheath dress with matching jacket.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Muslin for A Single Man (the dress, I mean)

So rather than trying to find and order a pattern that matched the Single Man Dress in time for the contest, I went to an old pattern I have used a few times before to act as a block.  

It's been a while since I used this pattern.  Ten years and two kids to be exact. 

Hence the grading up a size and the bust point modification needed.  Ahem.  Thank you, 3 years of combined breastfeeding.

Also, get a load of that bunching around the inset.  Yikes!  I think I'm going to have to change my idea to suit my skill level.

Here is the new Frankenstein pattern block:

This is the first time I have modified a pattern (other than changing necklines or taking in the sides), so I'm hoping for the best. 

I don't know if you can see, but the map behind me is stuck full of pins; all the places we have been and our travel fantasies for the future.  My next trip is probably back to Cape Town to host a tech transfer to UCT.  Time to start doing a little online searching for fabric, vintage and local designer shops.... 

Friday 5 November 2010

Inspiration for Burdastyle contest

Last night we finally watched A Single Man.  We knew it would be gorgeous and stylish (how could it not be?), but I did not expect to fall so hard for this colour block dress worn by Julianne Moore.  By the time the movie was finished, I had put together these images and found the Jiffy pattern for a sheath dress with removable drape.  Seems doable, no?  I am on my way to pick up some ponti di roma and start making pattern blocks!

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Burdastyle's Bernina Party Through the Decades International Competition


I have ordered a whack* of vintage patterns from Etsy and I'm still waiting for most of them to arrive.  Perhaps this competition is the incentive I need to spend more than 30 stolen minutes per day on sewing and actually get something together in time? 

Vintage 1970 Classic A Line Mod Mini Dress Petite 35 bust size 12 1/2 Simplicity 8702Vintage 60s Empire Waist Maternity Tent Dress Pattern 34 bust size 12 Simplicity 75581950s Dress Bateau Neckline  by Butterick (Pattern 7653)Very Old Simplicity 1920's Pattern

*Oh, and "whack" is the proper technical term for a group of patterns.  Trust me, I'm a scientist.

Thursday 28 October 2010

Things I love...

....and I would make someday if I had the time and the appropriate fabric and could grade patterns accurately....

And here is some fabric I am strangely attracted to, despite it's loudness (or maybe because of it):
Vintage Hawaiian Barkcloth TextileVintage Pine Cone Fabric 2 YARDS
Orange and Brown Fabric9927 L Flower Sugar Fabric by Lecien 1 Yard

A horror story, just in time for Halloween

There is a charity shop in my village where I often find great vintage dresses, fabrics or notions.  They get good quality articles from estate sales or donations, and I rarely leave without something beautiful to wear or remake.  When I stopped by yesterday, I noticed a big pile of vintage pattern pieces and instruction sheets behind the cash.  "Wonderful", I thought, "They are going to start selling patterns too." 

But no, here is the awful truth:  They told me that they always receive old patterns, but "they might be missing a piece or something, so we just take them apart and use the papers for wrapping china"!!!!!  Then they held up a few empty envelopes for 50-60s dresses and said, "Who would use these old patterns when you can buy new things so cheap?"

Oh, the horror.  I made them promise to keep any patterns that come in until I have a chance to look at them. 

At least the story has a happy ending.
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