Sunday, November 1, 2015

For the family - "Boyhood spent in cliff-top castle brought dramas" by Caroline Martin

The cousins at Cargill's castle, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Reproduced with kind permission from Caroline Martin.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A cautionary tale - becoming a VoPIF with vintage Vogue 5434

What's a VoPIF, I hear you ask. A Victim of Pattern Illustration Fraud - when the allure of the envelope image does not match the reality.  Eventually every stitcher will become a VoPIF, the most experienced amongst us will have fallen victim more than once. Vintage Vogue 5434 from the 1960's has victimized me yet again.

The tale starts with a wedding invitation. Guests are requested to dress colourfully - "as bright as a garden of summer flowers". Into the stash I headed, where a piece of dupion silk in a stunning red has been languishing for far too long. (Showed a swatch to the bride as wearing red to a wedding can be considered inappropriate, but she's thrilled. Colour is actually several shades darker than it appears in these photos.)  I also pulled out a piece of burgundy frangipani print cotton to make a wearable toilé and Vogue 5434 from my pattern collection.

After a few adjustments to the sizing, I whizzed together the frangipani toilé dress - love the skirt, but the bodice just doesn't cut the mustard. The neckline is too high, and the pleats which looked so stylish on the envelope are in reality very "roomy". (I kept patting them into place during fitting.) Another toilé bodice was cut with a lower neckline and less fullness in the pleats, but wasn't much better. After toying with the idea of cutting yet another toilé bodice, I decided to abandon it completely for the moment because I'm running out of time, and instead replace it altogether with a trusted bodice from an old favourite pattern - Style 1751 from 1990. 
Boldly cutting straight into the silk I made one change - a simplified neckline - best leave sweethearts to the bride and bridesmaids!

Very happy with the results, and because using this bodice pattern was much more economical ,there's enough silk left over to make a shrug jacket as well. As for the frangipani dress, I can't decided whether to leave the bodice as is, or change it as well. Your thoughts?

So, in conclusion everyone lived happily ever after.
The end.
Oh, and the accessories. Jewellery still to be decided.

Please feel free to share your own VoPIF stories in the comments below. I for one would appreciate warnings about patterns that don't live up to expectations!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Sewing for the soul - Simplicity 5670

Sewing is my happy place, my zen, my bliss. And after the crappiest of crappy weekends, it's also my salvation.

You see, my 10 year old niece - Petal* - has spent the weekend in intensive care at the Children's Hospital in Brisbane.

It all started with the 'flu. Things took a turn for the worst on Friday evening. Her mother looked in on her before going to bed, and discovered Petal in a distressed state, struggling to breathe, with bloated face, arms and hands. She immediately rushed her to hospital, where she was admitted upon arrival.

Wellington being two hours ahead of Brisbane, it was early Saturday morning before I heard the news. By then the hospital staff had found fluid on Petal's lungs and high levels of protein in her kidneys, in addition to extremely high blood pressure. She was transferred to the Children's Hospital during the day, but was unable to be taken off the high oxygen-mix, so remained in intensive care.

My day past in a fog. How the usual weekend chores were done, I really can't remember. Night fell, the fire was lit, dinner was eaten. There was another update to say her condition hadn't improved.

Faced with a night of sleeplessness, I turned to my sewing pile. Next up was a dress I need to make for a wedding I'll soon be attending, but it just didn't seem the appropriate thing to make given the circumstances. Instead, I chose another shirt, red linen/rayon and Simplicity 5670 from 1982. Using view 4 as the base, I changed quite a bit - released the pintucks below the bust, shortened the full front placket (actually, I cut 4 sleeve cuffs and used two as the new plackets), left off the collar, using only the stand, shortened the sleeves to 3/4 length, and lengthened the hem by 20cm.

So in a blur, I sewed. Pintucks, plackets, topstitching, french seams, collar - on, then unpicked at centre fronts and lowered by 1.5cm. By then my eyes were heavy so I finished the night by chalking and pressing up the hems.

Sleep came and went. Sunday morning dawned chilly and bright. Another update - still no improvement, but with a dreadful suggestion of an illness that - like the Harry Potter books - shall forever remain unspoken.

A comforting shroud descended with the whirring of the sewing machine. Collar fixed and topstitched, hems too. French seams for sleeve heads then side seams. Neat - like the neat kid on the gurney 2,500km away.

Sleeve bands, a final press, photography in the garden for a change.

No word.

I had to keep going, find more to do. Did I believe my stitches could mend a child by proxy? "Yeah, Naa", that fabulous/irritating Kiwi saying. Yeah?

Ahh, mending, hole in sweater, dropped trouser hems, missing buttons replaced.
Finally, finally, deep into the evening, the update. The swelling was receding, Petal's poor battered little body was now accepting a lower flow of oxygen. While the chest x-ray was still bad, she was about to be moved to the pediatric ward. 

Blessed relief.

Today, Petal is slowly showing signs of improvement - eating, propped up in bed, asking to see her little brother, whom she adores - she really is that neat a kid.

It will be a week until we know for sure whether there's permanent damage to heart, kidneys, lungs. Cross your fingers and kiss your kids.

All because of the 'flu.

* Name has been changed.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Two shirts to wear in India - Style 2568 and Simplicity 7521

I'm travelling to India once again at the end of the year, during their winter. This time I'm heading south, where the temperatures will be warmer, estimated between 17-33°C. During the Rajasthan visit two years ago temperatures were between 7-23°C, so I spent most of the time wearing jeans and layering several merino sweaters on and off, one over the top of the other.
Conservative dress is advisable in India, which I don't have a problem with (working corporate requires conservative dress anyway). Nothing too tight or revealing, keep shoulders and knees covered, plus if your wearing trousers, cover "the shape of your backside and front". Remember my camel riding shorts which were wisely left behind?
I bought kurtis (tunics) and had a salwar-kameez (tunic and pants suit) made last time, but it's looking unlikely I'll have a chance to shop before my tour starts. So I decided to make a couple of shirts using fabrics and patterns from the stash to tide me over, light enough to wear in the heat, while also offering some shade from the sun.

Simplicity 7521 (from 1978) is very much like a kurti style tunic. The fabric was given to me by a lovely woman I met in a St Vinnies store. After doing a burn test, I'm thinking it may be a light weight wool - it's just a bit scratchy, and steams beautifully. I lengthened the tunic to knee length and left off the sleeves cuffs, instead gathering them into an elasticated band. I also added a couple of waist darts in the back for some subtle shaping. The contrasting neck and sleeve bands are simply the wrong side of the fabric. Bonus, the fabric has flecks of blue, green and grey in it, which matches nicely to these navy linen-cotton trousers.

My original intention was to make the second shirt using the same pattern. However, because the fabric was originally a sundress, when I laid the pattern out I discovered while there was plenty of width, there wasn't enough length. Eventually, I settled on Style 2568 from 1979. I always loved the fabric - a lovely soft lawn, and do like the resulting shirt, however I feel like I have gone from one extreme to the the other in styles. There was something about the fabric and pattern choice of the sundress that always made me feel like mutton dressed as lamb. Now I feel like I'm wearing Grandma's gardening shirt! It does look surprisingly good tucked into a pencil skirt though, so I'm sure to get some wear out of it.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Miramar moon

Moon through the Miramar cutting

Monday, July 27, 2015

Wellington Blown Away

It's graffiti-proof, apparently.
Wellington "Blown Away" sign, Miramar cutting

Wednesday, July 22, 2015