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?

Monday, June 12, 2017

A perfectly practical skirt

Read any article about "Wardrobe Essentials" and it will prescribe a "black pencil skirt". Meh. How about a navy-blue A-line skirt instead? With pockets, of course.
Belt from David Jonesshoes from I Love Paris
The pattern is a very old one I made myself, with a few adjustments. Originally high waisted (ahh, the '90's!), it now has a waistband and belt loops. And pockets. Navy blue wool fabric is yet more left-overs from the nehru-style suit made ages ago for SunnyJim - I've already made another skirt out of the scraps. While I now haven't the foggiest where it came from, I do remember it was reasonable price, hence buying more than needed for the suit.
While I don't love this skirt, it's practical for work, and as a consequence is on fairly high rotation in my wardrobe. It can be worn with multiple blouses, and looks great with a pair of brown opaque tights and shoes from I Love Paris dyed brown using Waproo leather dye.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Batik Print Top and New Look 6213

At the beginning of the year, Moreland Fabrics had a sale on their patterns, which tempted me into buy New Look 6213 - a  light and breezy top, with neckline and sleeve variations and an asymmetric hem.
There's a piece of silk chiffon floating around in the stash which I thought would be great to made using this pattern, but while cutting out the pattern pieces, I decided to toilé first, because it looked very full. So into the stash I went, and out came the remnants of cotton batik print fabric used to make this dress.

In hindsight, I should have gone ahead and used the chiffon, because it's drape would have been a better match for the pattern. Even though the cotton is very light, it still has just a bit too much body. I needed to reduced fullness around the hem by about 10cm, cutting 5cm off each side seam into nothing at underarms. Originally I cut version A sleeves, but replaced them with version D because they looked ridiculous - sticking straight out, rather than "fluttering". Once again, a fabric with less body may work better.
I very much like this top and have worn it a lot over the summer.
There's one last thing I would change next time. For some reason the back pattern piece is shorter than the front pattern piece, which I think must be a mistake because it's such a small amount. It annoys me when I'm wearing it (I constantly tug the back hem down), so I'd lengthen the centre back by about 3cm or so - I'd rather it be longer in the back than front.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Blue Linen Tunic Dress - Style 2040 (1979)

Necklace from Farmers
I'm not at all sure what drew me to this pattern when I saw it in St Vinnies. It doesn't have the most enticing envelope, very dated, in fact. But the more I looked, the more appealling it became. It's a very basic tunic style, with an all-in-one yoke and sleeve detail giving it a point of difference. Paired with 2.5 metres of lovely quality blue linen purchased from an early Fabric-a-Brac and just a few easy alterations, I felt I could make a dress that had very little resemblance to the envelope image.
The most obvious changes made were reversing the yoke opening from centre front to centre back, and getting rid of the zip. I also lowered the front neckline by about 2.5cm. Using the short sleeve version (without the cuff extension), I narrowed them at the hems by about 6cm after first fitting.
Did I mention the pattern has pockets? Tempted as I was to topstitch them to the outside, in the end I went for a clean look and just stitched a length of selvedge between them as a stay.
Very happy with the finished garment. Problem is, we had a bit of a rubbish summer here in Wellington, so as lovely as it is, it didn't get much wear. Never mind, there's always next summer (and the next, and the next...).

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

White broderie anglaise blouse

I had a hankering to make a simple broderie anglaise blouse to pair with a vintage black lace circle skirt I've owned for years. I found the ideal fabric in The Fabric Warehouse - 100% cotton with embroidery that's not too foufou.

An hour or so on Pinterest helped refine the look. Fortunately, I was able to base the blouse on a couple of patterns from the stash. There were enough changes to each pattern to warrant making my own, using the body (and sleeve) from Butterick 6811 and the neckline from New Look 6754. I also curved the sleeve edge on the drop shoulder and hems at the side seams to add a little more interest.

A quick and easy make with french seams, rolled hems, and a bias bound neckline.
The fabric, after a couple of washes, has now lost most of its starchiness, giving the blouse lovely drape and softness.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Flying purple people eaters

A little over a year ago, I blogged about a pile of UFOs in my stash. I'm happy to say that apart from No 1 - the wool "Melba" jacket, I've now completed all of them, and even better, haven't added to the pile. Did having photographic evidence of my 'crime' motivate me into action?

The latest to be completed is No 3, "Perfect Purple Pants". They're really the second toilé in my quest to make the perfect fitting pants. They were cut in November 2014 straight after completing the first draft (so, so bad!), but have since languished unmade for 2 1/2 years. Vintage Simplicity 3082 was the starting point - why, I don't know, I have heaps of better fitting patterns. Maybe I wanted to look as rockin' in my pants as the women with the beehive on the envelope? I envision hers are gold brocade - awesome!

Clearly, I've lowered the high waist down to the natural waistline. I also added back pockets and simplified the ankle split (see insets), and made many, many fitting tweaks. The fabric is stretch cotton sateen, bought in a Spotlight sale. Wouldn't be my first choice colour-wise, but it was cheap, and the pants will be fine for India (with a butt-covering shirt, of course!).
I'm pretty happy with the resulting fit. There are still a few drag lines around the knees but I think I've found a fix for those, so we'll see in if it works on toilé No 3.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New workhorse - navy capri pants

There was a little under a metre of fabric left after making this dress, just enough to make a pair of capri pants.

Using a tried and tested self-made trouser pattern, I shortened it by 30cm, curving the hems at the side seam for a bit of interest. To put them on, the pocket opens out, then buttons close. Easy-peasy.
Necessary, but not exciting sewing.

I didn't explain the pocket closure very well, did I? Will a few more pictures help?
(Apologises for the fluff. Washed with a tissue, grrrh!)
I also found a very old pattern with quite good diagrams instructions.

See, it's really quite simple!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

It's not you, it's me - floral skirt fail

It started life as a 50's inspired frock.
But it wasn't working for me.
"Maybe lose the bodice and make it a skirt", I thought.

But it still it's still not right.
The problem was the dress was something I would have worn a decade ago, (and why I had difficulty finishing it in 2011) but the skirt regressed it even further - back to the clothes I made for myself in high school. 
No, just—no.
Finished, it will be heading to charity soon.