23 January 2012

Land down-under dress

So there we were, heading into the outback for a New Years Eve wedding, sans kids. And here I was, in the passenger seat franticly hand stitching the lining and bodice of a dress I started the week before. As is the way, I had a good few months to prepare aaaaand got distracted.

After all that, I'm not head over heals for this dress. I did a bit of a naughty in buying Vogue 1102, knowing it compromised the number one rule for my shape: high neckline. I've been dabbling in some 'research' to figure out the what styles suit and what patterns I should go for. By research I mean, watching Trinny and Susannah's 'What Not to Wear' and trying on clothes that aren't necessarily 'me', just for thrills! Apparently, I'm an upside-down triangle. Broad shoulders and chest and narrow hips, means pencil skirts yes, high necklines no. Turtlenecks: BIG NO! Anything with an expanses of fabric across the chest make me look and feel boxy.

Rules Schmules she said! I had a vision of this dress in aqua linen-blend and I thought maybe, just this once I could overlook the neckline. There was even enough of this thrifted fabric, 4 yards! The stars were aligned, it was meant to be. And I love this style, really I do, but sadly not on me. I changed out of it and into a backup dress between wedding and reception. I just felt uncomfortable. Perhaps Vogue 1102 is better suited to girls who are petite up top. If you are full busted or broad shouldered or both, save yourself the heartache and go for a Vogue 8280 type neckline. Or just make it up anyway to reconfirm what you knew you already knew!

Excuse my underwear but this was too good not to share.  Have I been living in a bubble? Did you know there is such thing as a 'low back bra extender'? I was just about to buy some alarming stick-on cups when I saw... a piece of elastic with bra clips/ hooks on each which attaches to one side your bra, wraps around your tummy and hooks onto the other side, dragging it down below the line of your dress. The best part is it attaches to your own bra (and it was a third of the price). You can't beat the security a proper bra in the event of shimmying/ leakage. As it turns out, 15 hours without breastfeeding led to some seriously engorged boobies. I just wanted to get home!

This lesson was a goodie: When the directions on the back of the fabric marker packet say 'remove pen marks before ironing', they're not kidding!-

20 January 2012

Part bird, part boy

Nothing to see here folks! Just another men's tee turned manligan, using this lovely pattern. But you know what they say...a manligan a day keeps the doctor away. Or should it be Mandigan? So confused. Diagnosis: Manligan Fever. The only known cure: make more manligans.

 I wish you could add things to your cv like, 'Applicant can completely shred, devour and re-use an entire men's t-shirt in minutes' and people would bow, not laugh! Admittedly, I felt a little guilty cutting this one up. There may have been a conversation with Mr Cirque Du Bebe and a vague hint dropped, like 'wow that's a reeeeeallllly cool shirt, I would wear that one'.  Sorry baby it wasn't me. It was the FEVER!

09 January 2012

Love Me a Wiggle Dress

What do you get when you mix this pattern with this piping and this dress inspiration

...You get this one...

...a vintage-inspired




(insert other)


Hands down, this is the best outcome of last year's new-clothes-free year. Usually I would be devising a scheme to get my mits on that gorgeous Etsy dress. And it was only because buying wasn't an option, that I even considered sewing. Now it seems crazy to have ever considered buying!

 Which came first, the pattern or the piping? I bought this pattern, found the piping and fell in love with that 'nautical wiggle dress' in three unrelated incidences. True. I snapped up Vogue 8280 after first seeing it here and there it sat in the stash waiting for the right fabric... and for me to grow some balls. I jumped on a review site and found lots of lovely but very sensible versions for the office. I was still hanging out for a cheeky wiggle dress and when I saw this cute fabric with little jolly-rogers and anchors...Vogue 8280 was free from her shackles!

 I had a good feeling about this one. A pattern combining a fitted bodice, sweetheart neckline and pencil skirt is a guaranteed never-fail for broad shouldered, narrow hipped, up-side down triangle shaped girls. Choosing the right size was kind of important since I am yet to figure out the making of a muslin and some of the reviews recommended you size down. According to the pattern I was between a 12 and 14. I cut the 14 to be safe but when I held up the pieces it just seemed too big, so went back and cut the 12. So far I seem to be getting away with shrinking seam allowances down if I've cut too smaller size rather than entirely re-fitting a bigger size. For now.

The bodice fit perfectly and with pinning help from an obliging girl at the fabric shop, I took in the sides of the skirt and changed the shape. Not leaving without my wiggle! 

And yes they are fake...eyelashes. I was SO excited about how to style this dress to capture its retro rockabilly spirit. Yet to get in touch with my inner 'girly-girl', I had to search Pinterest for 'pin-up' style make-up and buy some basics. According to this tutorial you must have pin-up eyebrows so off they went for a wax. The beautician was not familiar with these so called pin-up eyebrows but somehow we nutted out that they had to be long and thin, with a high arch, please. As you can probably tell, I had fun hamming it up for the camera in a deserted (at least I think it was) carpark. Not hard to do when your eyelashes are an inch long.

One of the reviewers said she highlighted all the instructions for the particular view you want to sew because they jump about. Which it does. Invaluable. My personal tip is: write yourself encouraging messages along the way, which is especially good for sewers previously brought to tears by a vogue pattern.

06 January 2012

The Manligan (manly cardigan)

There's no denying...2012 has arrived. And so has the KNIT-erviews! Made by Rae is hosting a blog-world-first with a whole week devoted entirely to sewing with knit fabric. It begins TODAY and I'm super excited to be taking a little part, sharing tips on making knits work for you (not the other way around) and my not-so-secret sources for superior knit fabrics. Don't spend another moment fearing things that stretch...it's a must-click-now!

To welcome a brand new year of sewing and maybe also because Archie has two shirts on rotation, I just had to sew something new. Last year I was wooed by the old-school, grandpa charm of this pattern and it has been sitting in my stash, taunting me with its 'intermediate /advanced' classification on the front, ever since. When I finally stopped being dramatic and just sewed the damn thing up, it came together quickly and similarly to a 90 minute shirt. What had at first seemed like lengthy instructions, just turned out to be thorough. I hereby pledge to be a less dramatic sewer in 2012!

Aaah, there's nothing quite like the thrill of hunting down interesting knit fabrics. If I hadn't I tried out this tutorial and experienced my first ever knit project success, I would never have started looking for cool men's t-shirt to cut up. I'd probably still be ferreting through the generic selection at a local fabric department store, missing out on magical finds like THIS! Who would throw this out? And don't they know how on-trend triangles are?

Some things you may find useful: it calls for clear elastic to stabilise the shoulders but I had none so used cotton stay tape to the same effect. Also, to give the front button placket some body, you are meant to interface it with iron-on interfacing, the knit kind. I had none of that either so I checked the non-stretchy iron-on interfacing to see if maybe there was a bias to it and found it stretched perfectly along the grain in one direction. Yay for improvs that work!