Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Getting to grips with The Stash

Like every other stitcher on the planet, I have The Stash. I'm pretty successful at limiting it only to nana's wardrobe, but it regularly gets close to saturation point – like now, and there's another Fabric-a-Brac in 2 weeks!
So last weekend I got stuck in and purged. I tell you, I was ruthless. All those "one day..." bits ("one day I might need it for xyz...", "one day, when I have time..." you get the picture) – out they went. Metres and metres of lycra (pretty much every garment I made in the '90s was out of lycra—ahh, to be young and slim again!), a pile of "what-the-heck-was-I-thinking?" and "where-on-earth-did-this-come-from?", and then there was the pattern stash...
All in all, 4 boxes of fabrics and 2 bags of patterns were donated to Fabric-a-Brac, plus another 3 bags of clothes made their way into the Child Cancer bin down the road. There's now so much room in the wardrobe I can fit all my patterns and trims inside as well.


While I was at it, I measured and photographed most of the remaining stash, and made myself a "stash flash card".
I'm so proud of myself, I think I deserve a treat – roll on 2 May!


Update 28/04/15: unexpected bonus – SunnyJim got inspired and had a sort-out in the study Anzac weekend. Can actually see the spare bed now!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A new workhorse – Vogue 1267

workhorse: something that's useful and durable, a dependable performer under heavy or prolonged use.
There's been a piece of navy-blue wool blend rattling around in the stash for a while which was bought on impulse at one of the Fabric Warehouse's sales. Decent quality wool blends are good staple fabrics to have if you work corporate, especially in navy, grey and black. I've also had Vogue 1267 for a while. It took the need to replace a workhorse on it's last legs for me to connect the dots and put the two together.

Belt from Portmans
I changed a few things from the pattern. To make it more work-appropiate, I straightened the high-low hem (felt it would date quickly), adding a kick pleat in the back so there's still plenty of room to walk comfortably. I also added small cap sleeves and changed to a V-neckline - I'm not fond of clothing up around my neck. After the initial fitting I also moved the point of the dart closest to the neckline 1cm further away and extended all of the shoulder darts 1–2cm towards the bust point as they all seemed to stop a bit short.
Very happy with the finished dress which turned out exactly how I imagined, and as you can see by the wrinkles, it's already in use.
Although I manipulated the original pattern by chalking straight onto the fabric to make adjustments to this version, I did keep a record of everything I did (luckily!) because I have a hunch I'll probably re-use it again in the not too distant future.
Off to have a look in the stash…
Also had a bit of a scissor sharpening fiasco recently, which ended happily when Andrew at Knife Edge Sharpening Service put it all right. Highly recommended!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Paisley frock - New Look 6942

Each christmas, I like to make a new frock to wear to my families knees-up, something bright and breezy with plenty of room to accommodate all the yummy food thats on offer.


This years dress is made using fabric bought through TradeMe in New Look 6942 which is yet another of my St Vinnies purchases.

Although I love this frock and it gets heaps of compliments, its the fabric that "makes it". I doubt I'll use the pattern again - the under bust seams fall in the wrong place for me, the side seams swing to the front at the hem, and the facings kept flapping open at the neckline (hence the beads - the only way I could think of to nicely hold it closed without unpicking). And to be honest, as I've got so many other unused patterns I like more than this one, I can't justify spending the time correcting it.

As the saying goes, “You win some, you lose some.”

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Going dotty – Burda 7253 (shortened)

Haere Mai! Welcome to 2015!
Here in Wellington (actually, most of New Zealand) we've been blessed with the most glorious weather since the start of the new year. Hence, lots of time outdoors and not much at the sewing machine. However, I do have a bit of catching-up to do with things made between this post and the last.


First up is another summery top for work. The fabric was a last minute purchase at Fabric-a-Brac I wanted to spend every cent of the $50 I took, so offered the last $3.60 to the vendor for this piece, which they happily accepted. (BTW, bought loads of lovely fabric and quite a bit of thread for my $50.) I normally don't look twice at viscose but couldn't pass up the cheery print and colours.
I managed to squeeze a shortened Burda 7253 and a tie belt out of the teeny tiny scrap with a bit of difficulty. The grain was completely up the wop and no amount of tugging and steaming could get it straight; eventually I crossed my fingers and cut, hoping no one would ever notice it was off grain because of the crazy circles.
Eliminating the back seam and zipper made it was super speedy to put together, yet it still slips easily over my head without them. I'd nearly settled on a black button, before deciding to have one last look in a precious box of my grandmothers buttons, where I found three darling little clear glass buttons. Because the buttons are purely for decoration (there's no buttonhole) I stitched them close together to look sort of like a brooch. Lastly, after a couple of wears, I added fabric belt loops to hold the belt in place.
This is my favourite of the three tops I made recently. It works just as well with a skirt as it does with jeans. Plus, it used pretty much every inch of fabric = nothing left to add to the scrap bag. Don't you love it when that happens!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

See you next year!

Hi all!
My work is on the move again. Earthquake strengthening has been completed on an old building in Te Aro (Wellington central) so we're moving back into town again - yaaaa!  
So, because I've packed up my camera cables already, I'm recycling an old image.
Wish you all and your friends and families a safe and happy holiday season.
See you all in the new year!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Vintage McCall's 3932 and the Purple Rain Dress

Y'know how sometimes something starts off a bit wrong, and then just gets progressively worse? Well, that happened here.

Mistake No.1 was buying fabric on TradeMe I had an inkling wasn't quite what it seemed. When it arrived, instead of being a lovely rich burgundy, it was a shabby dusky pink. Inkling had me ask "Is colour true to image?" before I purchased (assured it was – it wasn't). Don't get me wrong, dusky pink is a gorgeous on the right complexion; however it's my 'nude', thanks to a good smattering of Irish in my bloodline. So, the ghastly thing went into the pot with the next round of dyeing—purple. Success – a much better colour for my skin tone.


Fitting was Mistake No.2. This pattern is a little too small all over for me, but I must have carried the 1 too many times while working out how much extra to add because it ended up 10 cm too large. And of course I'd put in the pockets before discovering this – oh joy, more to unpick!
Finally, thought it was all finish, and tried it on to check everything looked ok, turned around to see the back view – and instead of the bodice blousing nicely at the waist, I had an ugly poochy back roll. ARRGH! The back neck to waist measurement needed to be shortened by 3.5cm – yet more unpicking.
So at the moment, I'm feeling a little ho-hum about this dress. Can't even be bothered taking decent photos of it. It might have to hang in the naughty corner of the wardrobe for a while until I forgive and forget. Sigh.
On the plus side, I'm chuffed with the belt I made for it using the wrong side of the fabric, topstitched in black thread. One little spark of genius in that big gloomy cloud.


Wish I could join Snaggle-Puss today, it's so dreadfully wet outside. Awww, isn't he sweet.
Had issues imbedding this video of Prince singing "Purple Rain" from the movie into the post, but click on the link if you'd like a trip down memory lane. The costumes are fabulous!

Update 04/12/14: forgiven and forgotten. Incredibly practical dress - always looks elegant and polished with minimal effort - just slip it on, step into shoes and I'm on my way!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Viva Las Vegas top - Simplicity 3790


Years ago, I spent a few memorable days in Las Vegas with the girls. Of course, outlet mall shopping was on the agenda, but unuse to the pace and heat, I started to wilt after a couple of hours. The solution was to change out of jeans into a newly purchased bright and breezy sundress. However, a new problem soon developed - as the fabric was super stretchy, the shoestring straps kept on stretching to the point of indecency! By the end of the day the straps were a tangled mess of knots tied in an effort to prevent a complete wardrobe malfunction.
Back in New Zealand, the straps unpicked from the dress, a piece of blue lycra from the scrap bag found to make new ones, it was all tied together ........ and became a UFO for several years.


Enter my wardrobe gap of work-appropriate tops. Looking at the fabric again, I decided I would get more wear out of it if it was a top. Choosing Simplicity 3790 (view F, sleeves view E) from my recent St Vinnies haul, I laid it out to cut, then realised the pattern doesn't have a back yoke, only one in the front. Because the yoke would be in the contrasting blue lycra, I wanted it to continue around the body, so whipped up my own back yoke pattern. I also cut contrasting strips of blue for the sleeve hems, and left as much of the original sundress length as possible.

The result is a lovely floaty tunic, casual yet smart enough for work, which has now been worn more times than when it was a sundress!