Wednesday, February 7, 2018

70's Denim Skirt - vintage Style 1559

When I was 16, one of the first self-drafted patterns I ever made was for a denim skirt. I loved that skirt, wore it for years until it the zip broke (by which time it was looking very tired), then promptly made another. Since then there has pretty much always been a denim skirt in my wardrobe.

This version started with a circa 1976 pattern - Style 1559 - as a base. I liked the length, pocket detail and button front. But after months of fruitlessly searching for suitable buttons (ie, ones I liked), I ditched that idea in favour of a fly-front.
However, great plans don't always run smoothly. First fitting was a disaster! The skirt was so frumpy - too wide at the hem, the waist too high, and goodness knows why the fly-front pucked so much. Into the naughty corner it went for some timeout.
A few days later, I'd formulated a rescue plan. Gone is the fly front, moving to an exposed zip in the centre back; the high waistband was re-cut into a 4cm wide curved yoke at high-hip level; and finally the seams are slimmed at hem length by about 5cm each side.
But the god(desse)s were against me, because 20 minutes into sewing it all back together, the LED bulb in my lamp blew. At 7pm. On New Years Eve. And it would be 2 days before the stupid lighting store re-opened. sigh.

Not able to bear the thought of wasting precious time, I ploughed on during daylight hours. The topstitching isn't perfect, but hey! I still love the skirt and it's already being worn several times.
Brass zip and topstitching thread from the stash.
Denim from Moreland Fabrics
Belt from David Jones

Monday, November 27, 2017

Purple plaid jacket mash-up

Five years ago, I received a wonderful suprise gift from my aunt. She was having a clean-out, and gave me two lengths of wool fabric – enough grey camelhair to make a coat, and a lovely piece of wool plaid, predominantly purple in colour.
At the time I was working in a very exposed south-facing office with floor to ceiling windows. It permanently cold as it saw no direct sunlight—ever. I made the most of every bit of the plaid fabric shortly after receiving it by making it into a dress. It was like being wrapped in a cosy blanket, and was on high rotation during the following winters.
My work moved into its current office early last year. Now the temperature is at a pleasant level, I no longer need to wear the dress. However, as with most other countries in the world, in winter, layering is de rigueur.
Since the fabric was still in excellent condition, I decided to unpicked and recut it into a jacket. I liked the velvet inlaid collar from Simplicity 3146, but unfortunately couldn't use the rest of this pattern because there wasn't enough width for the kimono sleeves. Instead, I turned to Simplicity 3120 (circa 1959) for the body and sleeves. However, there was absolutely no way of matching the check across the body to the sleeves, no matter how hard I tried. Disappointed, and though the jacket was near completion, it became a UFO, hiding in the back of my closet.
Fast-forward to last months TMS challenge when Bracken mentioned she also had unfinished jackets and coats hanging around. We challenged each other to complete one of them in time for November's Amnesty Day. Out of the closet it came.
It was actually very close to being finished, just the sleeve linings need attaching and buttons and buttonholes. But after trying it on, I decided to also re-position the side bust darts and add a velvet cuff – the sleeves were just a touch too short for me.
While I'm happy to be finished with it, I have to to be honest and say I like it but don't love it. The fit is still not quite right, and I don't at all like the velvet cuffs – but they're ok rolled up. Still, it will get worn next winter, I'm sure.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Simplicity 6068 grey wool houndstooth jacket

Late last year, my mother and I were browsing in an Op Shop and spying a piece of wool jersey, I commented "You don't see fabric like this anymore". Returning home, she disappeared into her sewing room, and reappeared sometime later with a lovely piece of grey houndstooth wool jersey. She can't remember exactly how long she'd had it, but for many years. Would I like it? "Yes please!" I love the kind-of punk fading check pattern.
There was about 1.2 metres (a rough-cut metre), x 1.4m wide, not much more than a skirt length. But it didn't feel like a skirt to me. At first I entertained the idea of making a tunic dress, before settling on a short jacket. From my own stash I pulled Simplicity 6068 a pattern from 1983, but soon realised there wasn't going to be enough fabric even to make that, so I need to get creative.

To achieve the fade from hem upwards, the body pieces had to be cut on the crosswise grain (hem on the selvage), while the sleeves were cut on the lengthwise grain. But there still wasn't enough fabric. I scoured the shops until I found matching grey leather in The Fabric Warehouse and cut a yoke and pocket trims. It was a very tight squeeze, the facings are scraps patched together, and there are virtually no left-overs.

I'm very happy with the results, and as you can see by the rumpled photos, it has been worn a few times already.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Vogue 8628 (ca. 1955) for an afternoon wedding in rural Queensland

Attending an event in another country means serious planning. Besides travel and accommodation, finding something comfortable and appropriate to wear rockets up the essentials list. Thank goodness I can sew!

After resisting buying the cotton sateen fabric (but totally making it up in my head), as soon as the wedding was announced, I raced into Morelands and bought 1.5m. I knew exactly what it was going to become.
Vogue 8628 (ca.1955) is another of Tara's patterns hangin' out in the stash, waiting for its moment to shine. Pocket flaps were eliminated, as was the front button closure – a back zipper added instead (and centre front placed on the fold), but other than these small changes the pattern is as is. Surprisingly, the fit is perfect, even though it should be too small.
Originally, I planned to wear the same purple pumps worn to the last wedding attended, but a little shopping in Cotton Tree turned up a pair of leather sandals in exactly the right shade of pinky-purple - it took very little convincing they were better suited to the rural setting. Belt is from Pagani.

Wonderful wedding, lovely newly-weds, terrific venue and I've a versatile new frock (and shoes) to boot!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Sometimes, I do favours…

A collegue found his fathers 1949 passport with original photograph attached. Because he has no other photos of his father, I offered to scan and edit the passport photo into a frameable format.
The brief: retain the ripped edges and sepia tones, but get rid of the purple stamp.
Edited photo and scanned passport original
There's an interesting background story. His father was just nine when he was put to work on a neighbouring farm. Payment was just one meal and a cigarette per day of work. At 15 he joined the Dutch Resistance, and at wars end, immigrated to New Zealand (hence the passport). During a stop-over in Rarotonga, he met his future wife.
I love the tie, and think this is definitely a case of "The eyes are the window to the soul", don't you?

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Hippy dippy Style 4917 (circa 1975)

CHARLES PARSONS NZ LTD Exclusive Design was spied printed on the selvedge. "How often do you see this, these days" expressed my collegue browsing through Moreland Fabrics. The more I thought about it, the more I needed some. Although a little pricey, the 1970's hippy paisley/floral colours and design were right up my alley, plus it's pure cotton lawn to boot.
Pattern Style 4917 is vaguely reminiscent of dresses my older sisters wore when I was a toddler. Unfortunately, the previous owner of this op shop pattern hadn't treat it with a whole lot of love. It had been cut, shortened and stuck back together with masking tape. Over the years the tape deteriorated and was now stuck to every piece of pattern in contact with it. There was no way to prise it apart without ripping.

Using view 2, I made two small changes, reducing fullness at the hem by about 10cm (4 inches) and folded out the front shoulder gathers.
As the seasons abruptly switched from summer to winter this year, I'm yet to wear this dress, although I really like it. However, I'm heading to the Sunshine Coast next month so - soon!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Kārearea (New Zealand Falcon) take 2

Recently, I was asked to rate my ability in Photoshop. I gave myself a 7 to 8 out of 10. Later, I wished I'd explained the 'average' score was because I've seen the incredible artwork some designers are able to create in this software. But actually, what I do use Photoshop for - editing photographs - I think I do very successfully.
For example, I've been editing the Kārearea photograph I took last year. The edited image is on the left, the original on the right.

Subtle changes (ok, I did clone in a new eye!) but a much improved image, am I right?