Friday, 30 January 2015

Knit Gabby Dress

I think this dress is possibly one of my most favourite makes to date. AND I actually think I might wear it. Out of the house! Maybe tomorrow. I'm already contemplating if it's too casual for my workplace (which lets face it, is one of the most casual places on earth besides the beach) cos I'd like to wear this on Fridays...and Mondays maybe too.

This dress is directly, 110% inspired by (or ripped off from) a Uniqlo dress I bought over the Australia Day long weekend. I saw a women walking into the change room with it and I immediately raced out into the store to look for it as I LOVED the print so much (it's French fabric...ooh la la). I was pretty sure it would look terrible on me, but I think the shape is quite OK (confirmed by my shopping buddy and also husband at home later).

I wore my Uniqlo dress out to brunch the next day with my beloved clogs (and Marimekko) bag and I felt really...modern (which I hardly ever feel). The more I looked at the dress, over my bacon and egg roll,  the more I thought it was the same shape as Tessuit's Gabby Dress (which I've made once in a woven but it didn't work for me).  When I laid the Uniqlo dress on top of the Gabby Dress it was a perfect match. So off to Spotlight we went where I found this fun, but not too twee cotton knit that was 30% off. I wanted something with a bit of structure...not too slinky, but not too stiff either. The fabric is the same as the umbrella fabric I used for one of my Myrtles (but it wasn't slinky enough for that type of dress).

This was a VERY simple make. I didn't follow the pattern instructions as I figured it was the same as the Coco Dress which I've made four times now. The neck, sleeves and hem are all just turned under the width of the overlocking (is that too narrow - it seems the easiest?) and stitched down with a small zig zag stitch. I wasn't going to finish the hem or sleeves as I was feeling lazy, but I came to my senses eventually.

I sewed the largest size for this dress, an L.  It is pretty much sewn entirely on the overlocker so it has a very scant seam allowance, rather than what the pattern recommends for the woven version it is designed for. It is definitely more roomy than the woven version I made (good for around the back and arms) though it was too big in the body, especially from the bust down, so I ran it in a bit on each side. I also lengthen it by 10cm, which was WAY too long so I hacked off 8cm...which was too much, so next time I'll lengthen by 5cm.

Speaking of clogs...I think my pear dress looks pretty good with my clogs!

Actually, I think I'm just going to sew a wardrobe based around my clogs.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Another day, another Party Peplum Dress

I know I know, it's ANOTHER Party Peplum dress. But to be fair out of ALL the iterations I've made this is only one of two that is wearable...because it fits (sort of). Interestingly though, even though I've made about ten Party Peplum's thus far the first version made out of daisy print quilting cotton is my favourite and fits best. Odd.

I've made SO many changes to this pattern that I can't even remember what I've done anymore.

For my last version I thought I'd size down all over (from an XXL to an XL), but alas the dress, she was too small! This time I've kept the smaller size under the arms (probably a smidge smaller than an XL) and brought the bodice out to an XXL by the time it hits the waist. I've cut a smaller size for the armhole...not to make it smaller, but it make it BIGGER. I figure more armhole = fits bigger arms. I probably lowered the armhole a bit too...who can remember?  I also attempted to change the bust darts....apparently the tip of the dart isn't suppose to sit ON your nipple, but it should kinda sit under your bust (is that right?). Now the darts kinda sit to the side of my they are pointing to two googly eyes.  Anyway, moving on...

I'm not sure this dress is 100% comfortable as I'm truly not a fan of woven restrictive unlike my beloved knits. BUT I donned it the very first day it was finished to wear to a concert that was being held at the historic Old Parramatta Gaol near our house (Tex Perkins singing Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Album FYI).  I figured if I didn't wear it ASAP it might never get worn. It was hotter than the surface of the sun that night so I was pretty hot in this dress as there is A LOT of fabric...and it's probably not's a mystery fabric from My Hung in Parramatta bought AGES ago!

I wore the dress with my brand new Funkis clogs (that I LOVE even they pain me after an hour of wear and whose purchase I totally blame on Dolly Clacket who is the Clog Queen of the Internets) and my new(ish) Marimekko clutch that I LOVE so much (I blame this purchase on Marimekko fangirl Alex). I agonized about both these purchases...but I've already used both of them SO much so for cost per wear they are practically freebies.

I think I have one more Party Peplum in me.  I want to make a version with a gathered skirt and POCKETS!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Tessuti Melbourne + a disasterous Mabel Skirt

Over the Christmas break I decided to take myself down to Melbourne for a few days. Now that I sew I ALWAYS stop into Tessuti located conveniently on Flinders Lane (my favourtie lane) in Melbourne's CBD.  I LOVE the Melbourne Tessuti store - so big, bright and open and it has that indescribable "Melbourne feel" that Sydney so tries to emulate but never really does.

I wasn't going to buy fabric this trip as I was traveling with carry-on luggage BUT I'd packed super light so definitely had room in my case for this "perfect for a Mabel skirt" fabric I found in the remnant bin.

Of course best laid plans are often laid to waste and whilst the construction of this Mabel is the same as my other two skirts my machine DID NOT like this fabric at all. It especially went berserk when I tried to top stitch the top of the waistband to ensure the elastic I'd overlocked between the waistband pieces didn't twist around. I spent about an hour re-threading the machine, cleaning out the bobin case, changing needles + bobbins but nothing worked. I hate this skirt SO much that I wore it once to the supermarket but it's going in the Vinnie's bag as it feels so uncomfortable to me (both physically and psychologically). The stitching is dodgy at the waist and every time I look at this skirt I feel RAGE! I cannot be bothered to get properly dressed to take photos of this monster so the photo below from my phone is all you'll get from me!

Ummm...not sure what else to say on this one. I hate you black Mabel skirt. So there!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Introducing my machine, Betty.

I'm always really interested to see other people's sewing machines and the space where they sew so I thought it was about time I introduced everyone to my machine, Betty.

I inherited Betty from my mother-in-law, also Betty (although I always called the MiL Elizabeth as I she told me once that's what she prefers). Betty (the machine) is an Elna 6003 and I'm pretty sure she is a quilting machine, which makes sense as Betty (the mother-in-law) was a quilter. There are SO many stitches on this machine, lord only knows what they all do. So far I've used the straight stitch and the zigzag stitch. That's it...

As a newbie sewist my FAVOURITE feature of this machine is the tortoise vs the hare function. Often my stitching goes all skewiff and I'm 100% sure that is because I'm going too fast. Lately I've been slowing things down (A LOT) and have been making a whole lot less mistakes which means less time on the quick-unpicker.

And this is where I the dining room table. Luckily we usually eat on the sofa in front of the TV (yeah I know, naughty) so it's not very often I have to clean off the space. My machine has a prime view of the TV so I often sew with the TV as background "entertainment". Probably not good sewing practice but it keeps the husband happy and drowns out the sound of the machine for him. Win:win!

Where do you sew? Do you have a dedicated sewing room (my dream) or do you have to hijack space within your house too?

Thursday, 1 January 2015

2014 in review

I wasn't going to do a 2014 retrospective post but then I got to reading those of everyone else and felt left out. Not wanting to be left behind I am jumping on the on if you can stand it!

When I starting looking through my photos I was pretty surprised to see that I've made 32 garments this year (one Mabel skirt not yet blogged as I only completed it yesterday and I kinda hate it). There were also quite a few toiles started but never finished as it was clear they were going to fall into the "epic fail" category.

Whilst I find the sewing of the garments fairly easy (machine "issues" aside) as I don't sew anything technically difficult  I don't actually wear a lot of my me-made stuff. I love my Ginger Skirt for example (my one and only zipper for 2014) but I've never worn it. I'm not sure why...perhaps I do prefer a stretchy waistband. I feel like my sewing isn't good enough yet to take my makes from looking homey to "proper clothes" so they never see the light of day.

I started the year off with a successful garment (my daisy Party Peplum dress) and finished it on a good note too (with my flowery Myrtle dress). Although my first Party Peplum dress fit it seems every one I made after that was too big...and the final onebeing too small. I like this dress pattern so I plan to go back to it this in anticipation of the arrival of my #pineapplesAreSoHotRightNow fabric.

I made three Gainline Tiny Pocket Tanks though I've only kept one of them, though I've never worn it.  I plan to give this pattern another crack soon as I have some fabric from Malaysia that I think would work well with it...and the pattern fits, sort of.

Speaking of fit, my main sewing woes continue to be sewing garments only to find the pattern is too small for me. It was nevertheless a momentous occasion when I attended a class as Tessuti and walked away with a Mandy Boat Tee that fit (thanks to some pattern adjustments by teacher, Silva). I promptly went home and sewed another one...lowering the neckline to make it more comfy.  Whilst I don't have the first Mandy Boat Tee anymore (too long and the neckline too high) I still have the yellow + white version in my cupboard. It needs to be restiched in some places but I do love it so!

The Coco Dress turned out to be a winner for me, despite to fuglier than fugly toiles. I have made up two winter versions (that I love) and a summer version too (that I am on the fence about as I think the hem band takes it into Nana territory). I have plans to make two more of these for winter 2015.

Another winner (despite a sewing disaster yesterday thanks to my machine) is the Mabel Skirt. Super easy to make and easy to wear. I feel like I could bust out a million of these but need to reign it in as I already have many many RTW skirts just like this in the cupboard that don't get a lot of wear (as I tend to favour dresses...A LOT)! I love my first one the most...

My first pair of Anita Ponti Pants had me nearly in tears. Three broken needles, a broken spirit and a pair of pants that didn't fit is enough to nearly break anyone. I felt like giving up sewing after this...especially as EVERYONE seemed to rave about how great these pants easy they were to sew, and how well they fit. Yeah, right - that only works if you don't have an arse bigger than Kim Kardashians! Six months later I enrolled in a pants pattern alteration class at Tessuti and walked about with a BIZARRE looking paper pattern but a pair of pants that fit...huzzah!

Although I'm yet to make a "great" Casual Lady Dress I'm well on my way (here and here). I'm thinking my next version will be out of Ponti, emulating the version made by Emma from Ernest Flagg.

Part of the journey in 2014 for me has been searching for patterns that fit and I feel like I'm starting to get some success with that (Myrtle, Mable, Coco, Casual Lady, Anita, Party Peplum, Tiny Pocket Tank, Mandy Boat Tee). It's a challenge though not to be sucked in by garments that I think will work but don't due to my figure (cue the Lady Skater, the Gabby Dress and the Suzy Pants - sad about both of these).

Lets get introspective:  Whilst many sewists seem to struggle with the balance of sewing icing vs cake I clearly do NOT have this problem. Everything I sew is basic basic basic. This is partly as it's how I dress in real life - I am not one for excess frou frou. Whilst I like to look nice, pretty and modern I like clean silhouettes and VERY comfortable clothes. My whole wardrobe revolves around the concept of "secret pyjamas".

I think my basic sewing is also party due to the fact that I have NO faith in my sewing abilities...I don't think I can sew anything other than basic stuff so I don't go there. Anything with zippers, knit neckbands, buttons, collars or cuffs and I'm SO not going there.  I am also put off by anything that seems to require fit adjustment...or just fit in general (why I love knits so much perhaps)?

I think the above paragraph highlights that a) I need to have more guts to get in there and try some more complicated things b) I should have some faith in my intelligence and ability (I made it to 40 after all without any major self-inflicted injuries) and c) I should do a class (or ten) about pattern alterations and fitting.

I think another challenge for me is to be mindful of not just sewing tonnes of "stuff". I already have a pretty good RTW wardrobe filled with things that (mostly) fit and that I (mostly) like. I don't actually "need" anything and of the things that I do need I cannot (or don't want to) sew them myself (bras, shoes, undies, swimmers, winter coats and jeans).

I also want to be more mindful about fabric and pattern buying. I have already stopped buying patterns just because they are new or everyone has it. When I buy something a pattern now I give it some (semi) serious thought before clicking "add to cart". I also want to get to a stage where I am fabric shopping for a particular project. I don't really want to have a stash...I hate clutter and "stuff" and having a cupboard full of fabric actually makes me really anxious.

Yeah, so there you have it. Good riddance 2014...let's see what sewing 2015 brings to me.