Thursday, March 27, 2014

Making My Wedding Dress - Fabric and Embellishment

You'd think that the biggest decision when making a wedding dress is choosing the right silhouette, but it's not.  This bit was really easy for me because I tried a lot of dresses on and figured out what was flattering to my shape and size. My idea all along has been to create a silhouette just like the muslin I showed you.

However along with the silhouette comes this dilemma of how to make this the most special dress you're ever likely to wear. You want it to be dreamy without being over the top but how do you do that when the possibilities for fabric combinations and embellishment are literally limitless?

This has been my biggest struggle. You may think I'm mad for trying 3 different patterns for my bodice. You also might think I'm mad for drafting 3 different skirt variations for the bottom of the dress. But this part of the process has been easy. I've had a vision of what shape I've wanted all along but the actual look of the dress? No idea. Wait, no that's not right. Too many ideas. Way too many ideas.

I've let it be known before that I am addicted to Pinterest. I shamelessly visit at least every day. I started a secret board to collate images of wedding dresses and blog posts about people who had made wedding dresses before. But then I had to go and make another board to gather inspiration that would really hone in on details of beading, sequins, appliqu├ęs and so on. This has really helped me to think about the little details rather than just the whole dress at once. Because let's face it, a wedding dress is a really big frickin decision.

Confession time. I don't like lace. I don't like flowers. And I don't especially like white dresses. Dilemma much?

So the real reason that I haven't bought my fabric yet is because I just can't envision what it is that I want. I've found this really great heavy silk in a lush champagne colour which is going to be the body of the dress. I'm going back to buy this really soon but what to have with it? I know I want layers of tulle over the skirt and maybe a layer of tulle over the bodice with some kind of embellishment but what? And how much is enough? Or too much? 

So I've spent some time staring at the pictures in my Pinterest boards trying to narrow down just exactly what it is that I want. These two pictures are the closest. Just chop the right one off at the knee and you'll get the idea.

source                                                                                                  source

Embellished from top to bottom or just the bodice? Embellish literally from the neckline of the dress or leaving just that small bit of fabric at the sweetheart neckline to do the shape justice? This one below is also appealing to me even though the skirt shape is different. The design is delightfully asymmetric.


And then to add to all the decisions I have to allow for the fact that heavily embellished tulle on the skirt is going to affect the drape and how heavy it makes the tulle look in the final design. I'm also aware the if I want a heavily embellished beaded dress I have to start handsewing like yesterday. So there's that.

Because I'm not big on beading and bling I've also been trying to imagine what my dress would look like if I played with some draping, fabric manipulation, geometric shapes or really anything fancy looking that would add to the dress without making me feel like I'm trying to look like a princess. So although the below pictures don't have much to do with wedding dresses they're my kind of beauty. And if I choose not to have beading and do some fabric manipulation or something else instead that would be ok because it would be more me than finding whatever version of beading is tolerable for me.

source                                                          source                                                        source

source                                                       source                                                               source

source                                                  source                                                                 source 

source                                                             source                                                        source

no source                                               source                                                             source

Ok so this set is a little bit wedding related.

source                                                             source                                                          source

I know that most of these are haute couture designs and I'm not going to be creating anything like them but they give me inspiration and allow me to dream big.

So do you understand what I mean when I say I want a pretty, feminine and romantic dress without it going too princess? Is that possible on a wedding dress?

I'm going to mull over this some more in the coming weeks and torture myself by looking at every fabric on the internet. If you have an ideas/suggestions/opinions let me know!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Making My Wedding Dress - The Skirt

Welcome back to the next installment of the Wedding Dress Saga! I've still been revisiting my muslin one day of the weekend for the last couple of weeks to get the final pattern sorted.

So last we spoke I had Simplicity 5006 made and sitting quite well all over except for a few nitpicky things. Don't despair, I haven't gone and made another pattern. Three different patterns for my bodice muslin was quite enough for me!

I've spent the most part of the time since my last Wedding Dress post focussing on the skirt for this dress. I've known all along I wanted a tea length skirt that was quite full at the hem. I was pretty sure that I could draft myself a circle skirt and that would be the end of it. Not so. It's never that simple right??

I drafted a circle skirt and popped it onto my mannequin over the top of the bodice just to see what it would look like. It sat right on that waist line you can see marked on the muslin above. Firstly I hated how short it made the mannequin look (so you could imagine it on me) and secondly there was a whole lot more volume than I could handle. Lesson learnt. Apparently circle skirts are not for me.

So I set about drafting a skirt that could do two things: sit underneath the drop waisted bodice and have lots of fullness at the hem. I didn't love the idea of having a two piece wedding dress but if I could make it look like it did in my head I was at least willing to try. I spent an entire Saturday slashing and spreading one of my favourite skirt patterns to include deep pleats that would drape and flare a little less than a circle skirt. Long story short that fabric made it's way into the bin quicker than any project fail ever has. The idea was great but there was all this bulk underneath the bodice which looked awful. I love pleats, don't get me wrong, but there's a time and place and this was not it.

The next option was to draft a three-quarter circle skirt and hope that the volume didn't look too overwhelming on my figure. The maths hurt my head a little but I could tell as soon as I hung it on the mannequin that the drape was spot on. Dreamy in fact.

I tried it on myself over the top of the bodice again and fell in love with the shape of it. It was still sitting around my natural waist which was a problem but suddenly I had a skirt shape that looked just like it did in my head.

To make the bodice a little more flattering with the skirt I marked out a line on the bodice roughly 2 inches below my natural waist. I did some more head-hurting maths and got the skirt's waist seam to fit the new dropped waist line. And boy did it look awkward. There's a lot to be said for getting proportions right on your body to make something look flattering and this was a great lesson in what doesn't work. I had to stop and pack my things up after this because I really wasn't sure what to do next.

By the time the next weekend had rolled around I'd had an idea. I thought if I spent a lot of time carefully pinning I could possibly lay the top part of the skirt flat across the bottom part of the bodice down into that U shape. If I could get this to lay flat it would make the skirt drape properly from that U shaped seam line down. Since this was what I had wanted all along it was worth a try.

And look - it worked!

Never mind the terrible selfie in my bedroom that has no wallpaper on the walls anymore. The dress fits! And the skirt drapes beautifully! And the two things came together like they were meant to! 


Notes on Construction
- Since my last post I cut notches into all curves in the bodice like a number of you pointed out I should have done in the first place - thanks!
- The giant fabric wrinkle under the bust did not go away at all after notching but I figured out the problem. I'd put the bust cups too high up in the bodice which meant there was this bit of curved fabric without anything to fill it so of course it wrinkled over itself. The bust cup on your right is in the perfect position and the one on the left needed to be dropped by another centimetre or so. You can probably tell that the wrinkle is coming from that left side. Once I got them both level that wrinkle disappeared - hooray!
- By the time I tried this bodice on properly with this skirt on the weekend I'd lost enough weight that I had to pinch this in a lot around my hip bones. This, combined with notching it properly, means that side wrinkle I was getting originally has also disappeared - hooray!
- I've pinned a small bit of gathered tulle as straps to see what the end result will look like and I like it.
- You might not be able to tell from this angle but the skirt is probably about 4 centimetres past my kneecaps. If it were too long it would have made me look stumpy but any shorter and the dress becomes a bit too casual. This length is working for me.
- I've successfully moved the zipper from the centre back to the left hand side so I can create a feature on the back of the dress. This will become a hand picked lapped zipper on the real dress.
- I've already spotted what I think is the perfect fabric for my dress. Once I've got the idea for the feature on the back worked out I'll be ready to buy the real fabric.
- That skirt is about 95% draping properly so I'll be more careful with my next muslin to get that drape perfect. It's also creating a hint of a V shape rather than a U shape and is slightly off centre.

So when do I make the real dress?
Good question. My measurements are changing and I don't want to distort my pattern pieces too much if I have to keep taking things in. So I'm calling this muslin stage officially over.
I'm thinking about making an all new muslin in June and then cranking the real dress out in July/August. That way I can do final adjustments a week or two out from the wedding (early October).

This means I've got a couple of months to sew normal clothes for me! And if I'm organised I could sew a bunch of things to wear on my honeymoon. Watch out world, I'm back to regular sewing speed!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sydney Spoolettes

The blogosphere is an awesome place to hang out but it turns out meeting up "in real life" with fellow seamstresses is pretty damn awesome too.

Recently a whole lot of Sydney Sewing ladies gathered for lunch and fabric shopping in the city organised by Melanie (thanks again!). There was pizza, fabric patting, fabulous conversation and more sewing people than any one person could have a conversation with in the one day. In short it was awesome.

So awesome that we decided to make Sydney meet ups a regular thing.

It's not a new idea. I've been envious of the Social Sewing happenings in Melbourne organised by Rachel for quite some time. In fact I recently crashed one and hope to one day have something similar in Sydney. And don't even get me started on Frocktails!

And then there's The Spoolettes in London set up by Clare of Sew Dixie Lou- need I say more?

So why not steal borrow their ideas and make it our own in Sydney? 

Enter the Sydney Spoolettes!

Our version of the Spoolettes involves a closed Facebook Group for anyone in Sydney that sews. It can also involve any interstate/international visitors who intend to come along to a meet up at some point. We decided to make it a closed Facebook Group so that it can be a safe place for anyone in Sydney to suggest a meet up or organise one as a whole group without a whole lot of emailing back and forth. Check in whenever you want, accept or decline events and come along to as many or few meet ups as you like.

We've already organised and been on a shopping trip to Cabramatta yesterday - thanks for organising it Susan!

So if you're in the Sydney area or would like to come along to one of our meetups come and join us on Facebook and keep up with us. It's such a lovely bunch of people I promise you'll want to come along to everything!

Hope to see you "in real life"!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Plantain Top with Embroidered Yoke

I love a free pattern as much as the next person but a simple T shirt pattern that hugs and skims in all the right places is quite a bonus! I fell in love with the Plantain T shirt as soon as it got released. I downloaded it straight away, taped it all together and cut out the pattern with grand intentions of entering the Plantain challenge.

Spoiler alert - I missed the deadline!

I had just had an epiphany when rifling through my fabric stash and notions that this particular jersey fabric that I bought at a Lincraft sale about 2 years ago was a really similar colour to an embroidered yoke I had bought on Etsy about 3 years ago. I pulled them out to see just how similar they were and I was gobsmacked to see that I'd found a match made in heaven.

I put them to one side for about a week pondering whether handsewing an embroidered yoke to a stretch fabric wasn't going to end in tears. And that's when this pattern got released.

The design seemed to have enough drape that the jersey wasn't going to be stretched across the bust which would warp the yoke. It all just seemed so coincidental it was too hard to resist giving it a try.

It also happened to be the week I was flying down to Melbourne for a girls weekend and along the way crashing the Melbourne Social Sewing on the Saturday morning. It was too perfect to find a project that required a couple of hours of hand sewing to take along to Melbourne with me.

I started by laying the yoke down on the original neckline and smoothing the fabric out flat beneath it. I marked the new neckline to fit the shape of the yoke and cut out the excess fabric. I basted the entire yoke down to the fabric, occasionally holding it up to make sure it would drape properly from the yoke down without any bunching or gathering. And then it was just a whole lot of little stitches all along the edges and the main lines between all the shapes to secure it.

Handsewing it on took about 2-3 hours and then it sat on my sewing table for about 8 weeks waiting for me to change the thread on my overlocker. Seriously.

In my defense I've done a fair amount of wedding dress sewing and drafting in the meantime so there's that.

Since the front neckline needed to be raw I also left the back neckline raw and since that was already raw I thought why not leave the hem raw? And since the hem was raw why the heck not leave the sleeves raw too? Some might call that lazy. I call it instant gratification. Which, if you've ever had a very long and epic sewing project on the side, you'll know is really important for your sewing sanity.

I did have a bit of an issue with the sleeves in this make. It looks like I have hungry armpits attempting to eat my sleeve fabric which is a bit of a shame seeing as I feel like I really mastered the handstitching on this. The yoke isn't pulling at all but for some reason my sleeves are all twisty. I could have sewn the sleeves on back to front all instant-gratification-like so that might require some paying attention next time.

I'm halfway through my next Plantain with another two cut out ready to sew so I'll keep an eye on the sleeve thing with each new version. The one that's half made has no such problems so that's already a good start.

In other news I went along to the Sydney Sewing Blogger meet up yesterday organised by Melanie. There were 20 Sydney peeps eating pizza, patting each others' clothes, chatting and fabric shopping. It was so great that there's talks of another fabric shopping trip and another gathering in the works. We'll try and get a Facebook Page set up so we can organise these things more easily without a whole lot of emailing back and forth. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Making my Wedding Dress - The Many Muslins

So, the Wedding Dress. Long time no talk.

It's been quite a journey I've been on since October. I'm just very, very thankful I started this thing a year out from my wedding.

The story started at the end of last year with my inspiration for the dress. I ordered a whole lot of supplies online the day I blogged that and within the week I had started my first muslin.

Muslin #1
I was using Gertie's Bombshell Dress firstly because the pattern looked awesome and secondly because her course is phenomenal. I was so afraid to tackle my wedding dress prior to watching this course but she made it look SO easy. I did everything as per the instructions - I cut my muslin pieces with a 1 inch seam allowance, I thread traced all the pieces, I used a basting length stitch in an alternating colour and I took my time with every detail of this thing. And I LOVED it. I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy having such a large, long, slow project but it was liberating to sit down for an hour or two at a time and do just one detail of it and do it well without any rushing. I was so full of enthusiasm.

It became clear as I got it all together though that it wasn't quite fitting how I thought it would. The bust pieces were waaay too big and there was something that was just a bit odd about how it fit me. I kept pulling out the bust cups and adjusting them, trying them with padding, without padding, all the while not really loving what I kept looking in the mirror at. It was kind of sad to watch just how small the bust pieces had to get to fit me. It really wasn't doing a lot for my confidence.

I managed to get the bust pieces to a relatively good fit when I realised what it was that I didn't like about this pattern. The pointy boobs. They were just so pointy.

I'm sure this is a lovely pattern on other people but for someone with a small chest it just doesn't flatter. Pointy boobs aren't my thing, especially NOT on my wedding day. So my muslin stopped mid investigation with only one sad pointy boob cup left in it.

Sad muslin is sad.
Muslin #2
Determined to make this bustier bodice I resorted to a more modern bustier pattern with rounded cups and some nice seam lines on it. A Ralph Pink pattern which is actually meant to be lingerie. The intention was to see if I could get the cups to fit and then lengthen to bodice down to a drop waist.

I loved the seam lines on the pattern and I was so excited that it fit with my idea of what my dress would look like when it was finished. But again I hit the same problem. The bust cups had to be tiny to accommodate me and I realised the second time around that it was making my rib cage look really wide.

This was the point at which I had to walk away from muslin making and do a bit of summer sewing to clear my head.

As with my regular sewing journey since I started blogging, this Wedding Dress journey was teaching me a lot about myself, my shape and what I see when I look in the mirror. I assumed because I had chosen some beautifully shaped patterns that I would look beautiful in them. Not so. I'm afraid that the dress was wearing me and not the other way around.

It was time to simplify things and find a shape that would be flattering for me.

Muslin #3
I took a chance on Simplicity 5006. Although this was also classed as a lingerie pattern it had nice seam lines, it already came with a dropped waist and it would hopefully give me the illusions of some curves up top.

Since I came to this pattern after about 2-3 months break I was ready to get back into it with thread tracing and wide seam allowances, writing all over the muslin, pinning like crazy, the whole lot! I got so excited about this pattern that I managed to sew this is up, adjust the princess seams over the bust, do a sway back adjustment, rip the muslin apart, adjust the pattern pieces on my flat pattern pieces and sew it back up in one weekend. It was fitting well enough to see how the lining and the spiral steel boning was going to affect the fit and shape.

Spiral Steel Boning
If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen things getting serious in the sewing room.

So now we're technically onto muslin number 4 which is not without some fit issues but it's making this whole process seem worthwhile. Here she is from the front. At this point I've only pinned the lining to the muslin - this will get stitched soon.

As you can see it has two main fit issues - the crinkle line directly under the bust and these diagonal wrinkles just above my waistline. I haven't got a piece of spiral steel boning running down the centre front which I think this really needs. Also this dress will have straps and if I secure some straps to the muslin that crinkle under the bust completely disappears. I don't want to ignore that it's a fitting problem but I also don't want to take that fold of fabric out and have the bodice stretch weirdly once I get the straps on. So I'm going to play around with that.

The weird diagonal crinkle is (I think) a mix between having a sway back and having oddly shaped lovehandles. This is an issue I face on most of my makes which basically consists of me choosing pattern styles that don't highlight it. The way I see it there are two ways to combat this - firstly lose the lovehandles. I've recently started this revolutionary diet called Not Snacking which was successful enough for me to lose any weight I gained from the silly season. Christmas I'm looking at you. If I can keep it up I know my lovehandles are the first thing to go. Failing that I have an idea from a pattern fitting book I bought a while ago - I might try that.

This may be a good starting point for fixing this. Also how polite is this book?
No mention of love handles - just a "smaller waist". Love it.

The other thing I'm going to work on in the next version is smoothing out that curve of the princess seam across the bust. It's puckering a bit at the moment.

I also might look at moving the zipper to the side if it doesn't look too hideous so I can create a feature on the back centre panels. Just an idea.

Here's an inside shot of the boning channels sewn into the batiste lining. I didn't iron or clip into the seam allowances on the muslin and I also didn't seal off the boning channels at the bottom of the bodice which I promise I'll do for the real thing! This means I can rip it apart really easily to fix things.

So there you have it. I don't feel like I have much to show for the amount of work I've put into it but I have learnt so much already and I'm still really only in the beginning!

Some thoughts on the process

I've specifically given myself more time than I need throughout this process so that it would be as stress free as possible. Perhaps this comes across as a bit too casual for someone making their wedding dress but it's exactly how I like it.

Slowing down my sewing has completely changed the way I look at my sewing projects. I know once this is over I still want to have longer, more involved projects I can work on bit by bit throughout the year just like this. I'd love to make my own sloper next year and get my fit as spot on as I can for all future projects. Maybe then I could tackle a jacket/coat/blazer or maybe even pants? This might seem a little odd to do after my wedding dress but who's got the time for anything when they're planning a wedding??

Even though I'm onto pattern number 3 and I've only made the bodice so far I don't regret having tried the other patterns. In fact I'm glad I persisted because I needed to see why it didn't work for my body type to move on to something that really would flatter me. It all seems a little obvious when you type it out like this but I have no regrets. I'm happy with where I'm at and I'm still ridiculously excited to make my own dress.

My most used resources during this process

- Gertie's Bombshell course, as I've said before, has been amazing. I've revisited it a number of times over the last couple of months and I think I'll still be referring to it as I'm making the final dress.

-  Bridal Couture by Susan Khalje - I've read and reread sections of this book a number of times to get my head around the details of sewing my final fabrics together. It's helping me keep the big picture in sight.

- Fitting & Pattern Alteration Second Edition by Elizabeth Liechty, Judith Rasband and Della Pottberg-Steineckert - This is the book I took a snap from up above. It's basically an encyclopaedia of every quirk a body can have, how to identify where the fabric will pull, bunch up and how to rectify this on a flat pattern. It's really helped me to assess my fit along the way and give me a great idea of what to do when things don't sit right. It's pricey but it's been worth it.

So where to now?

The bodice needs some tweaks and I'll try moving that zipper over. I'm going to look at some fabrics in the coming weeks now that I have the exact shape of the bodice sorted out (finally).

I'm currently researching attaching a circle skirt to a U shaped basque waist. I may have to attach it to a yoke underneath the bodice and let it hang from there. But ideally I'd like to figure out how to attach the skirt directly to this shaped bodice so if you know of any resources online or in magazines or books leave me a comment.

If it all gets too hard I'm prepared to straighten off the bodice and have a circle skirt hang straight from it. We'll see how it goes.

I think this is my longest post to date so if you've made it this far thank you! I'm still loving this journey no matter how long it's taking me.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Maxi Dress - Simplicity 2362

My first make for 2014. I kinda made most of it last week, which was also last year, but I didn't get around to finishing it until yesterday.

I live in maxi dresses in summer. There's something really nice about putting on a long, flowy dress with straps. You can wear it to the beach, picnics, barbecues and even the pub!

I was eyeing off Amy's top she made from this pattern because it would fit my taste and wardrobe so perfectly. I despaired a little when I found it was out of print until I raided my pattern stash and realised I already owned it. Huzzah!

This pattern is all about the pleats. There's pleats on the bust pieces, pleats shaping underneath the bust and pleats in the back too. I love me some pleats!

The pattern has you fold and baste these centre bust pleats and it's the first thing you sew together in the construction of the dress. It took me two goes to get them perfectly matched but it was worth it. And really that's the hardest bit of the dress which is a major win in my book.

The pattern does call for long pockets that are much like the pockets on Simplicity 2591. I'm not sure if this is a thing or not but I just don't understand pockets in a maxi dress. Fair enough for a shorter dress, I love them. But it really threw me to see pockets, much less these type of pockets, on a maxi. No thanks. So I got rid of them.

Because the voile I had chosen was a little sheer I decided to line it in a lightweight cotton. I spent a long time thinking about how I was going to line something with pleats though. I really wanted the lining to be folded with the regular fabric so the pleats would have a bit more body and hold properly but I really didn't want to treat the fabric and lining as one particularly when sewing the front piece to the side pieces because it could easily become bedsheet-ish. I tried to outsmart the pattern I really did but I couldn't think of a way not to sew the two fabrics together. So I did.

The pattern called for a dress that just dropped to the floor but I much prefer having a ruffle along the bottom. My favourite RTW maxi has the same kind of ruffle along the bottom and although I'm not one for ruffles I have discovered that this is their place in my wardrobe - on the bottom of my maxi dresses. So I ended up sewing the ruffle to the fabric and lining together in a french seam to keep it all enclosed while the rest of the seams are sewn regularly with overlocked edges.

My only gripe with this pattern is the straps. I wasn't sure when I read the instructions that the straps were going to work out but I thought I would put my trust in Simplicity. Wrong.

Look at that twisted mess!

The pattern piece asks you to cut the fabric on the bias, fold it in half lengthwise, sew along the edge, turn it right side out and sew it on to your dress. How this is meant to produce a perfectly flat and straight strap is beyond me??? Anyone on Simplicity's side here?

So if you happen to make this don't cut the strap on the bias unless you want a wiggly mess.

Apart from that one gripe I'm really pleased with this pattern. I have a deep red wine rayon voile to use for my next version. The fabric has this ridiculously delicious drape to it - I can't wait to wear it!

Also after putting this dress on I realised that there was a way to sew it all up without having to treat the fabric and lining as one. If I just ignored the order of sewing I could have sewn the front skirt piece to the back two skirt side pieces for both the fabric and the lining. Then I could treat them as two single panels I could line up and pleat. So that's what I'll be doing for my next one.

Maxi Dresses Ahoy!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Cheers to a New Year - On reflecting, not goal setting

I’m not really a New Year’s Eve Goal Setter. I tend to stick to goals better when I create them or come up with them throughout the year. Mostly because they tend to be well thought out as opposed to being pressured.

I’ve never done a round up post, I’ve never celebrated a blogiversary and I’ve never had a giveaway on this blog because I created this as a space to share my journey in making my own handmade wardrobe. This blog is a space for me to learn, grow and share. To show off the good and the bad of what I make. So I’m going to call this a reflection post.

I’m writing this now because I’ve reached a certain point in my journey that I particularly wanted to share with you. 

I’ve found myself through sewing.

If you’ve followed me since the beginning you’d know that there were so many sewing fails it was disheartening. Even the projects that actually got finished and vaguely fitted me got put up on the blog because frankly if I didn’t put them up I wouldn’t have had a blog. There were just so many mistakes in the beginning.

But I persisted. Because I had an idea in my head that I could do this. I could see a piece of clothing and I wanted to replicate it to my tastes through sewing. I had a good eye for what I wanted to make right from the beginning but my skills (or lack thereof) were letting me down. But the idea of what I wanted to make would never go away. With each new skill I was learning something about sewing, about my shape, about what I wanted to wear and about who I wanted to be through my clothing. And I’m so glad I’m stubborn enough not to have given up on that idea so that I can stand here today and say that I’ve reached this point.

At the end of 2012 I wrote a post about Being Lost in the Land of Prints. I’m sure some (or all) of you would understand what it means to have a print crazy wardrobe. You open your wardrobe and see nothing but schizophrenia on hangers. You wonder at what point in the process this all went wrong. You need to start again.

So I did. I went fabric shopping with a list. I bought nothing but solids and I had a much clearer idea of what I wanted my wardrobe to look like. But when I looked back on that post later I realised that I actually hadn’t made a lot from the fabrics I’d chosen. Why? Because I had still let myself down. I’d picked some great fabrics, I had great inspirations but I either didn’t have the right pattern or the right skills yet to make them into wearable clothes.

And so I reached 2013. I had a mortgage and an impending wedding, honeymoon and house renovation looming over my head and this is the point that I really asked myself how I was still going to follow through on my idea? How, with the highest financial pressures yet to date, was I actually going to follow through on making a wearable wardrobe?

And so I set myself the goal (not on the first of January) to make my wearable wardrobe without spending any money out of my pay. See here.

I did my tax return and got $260 back. More than enough to buy a wardrobe of fabric for wearable clothes! But I didn’t want to just spend it all frivolously. I made a decision that every piece of fabric I bought had to have a pattern to go with it - or multiple patterns because sometimes my fabric gets fickle with me and really wants to become something else. I made myself accountable firstly by sketching all my ideas out in my fashionary. Partly because I needed to record it on paper before it all shifted, partly because I wanted to record the physical pictures on my blog for accountability and partly because I just love colouring in.

Shortly after that I had my 30th birthday (eek!) and while family and friends grumbled at how boring it was to give me a voucher or a bit of money I was elated to find that I could buy up a stash of very versatile indie patterns that I’ve being eyeing off for ages.

So what happened as a result of this new decision? I made 16 items last year 2 of which were failures which is SO impressive in my books. Every other item was made and worn and pretty much turned out how it looked in my head. Since I don’t sew quite as much as I’d like to I’m still making it through the long list of fabrics and patterns I started with in this post. But let me say here that I’m still ridiculously excited about the next 10 or so projects I have in my head. 

The only thing I overlooked was that I’d forgotten just how hot summer can get and so last week I spent the remainder of my birthday vouchers at the sales and bought fabric for 3 maxi dresses which I pretty much live in during summer.

So the point of all this is to share with you what I consider to be goal setting. The kind of thing that arises because of a recognition that something needs to change. Not because it’s the 1st of January. As you can probably tell by now this is a reflection post because I’m somewhere in the middle of my goal but it feels bloody good to step back and see how far I’ve come.

So what does 2014 hold for me? I will make myself a wedding dress. I’ve already made two muslins of different patterns and figured out that neither of them were working for me. Not because they weren’t beautiful patterns or because they didn’t fit me. They did and they were beautiful. But because I was trying to force a style upon myself that looks great on other people but looks a bit horrible on me. I’ve given myself a little break to sew up some much needed summer clothes but I’ll be back to it with a realistic pattern for my dress very soon.

Also we’re hoping to have a honeymoon in Europe in their Fall so I may want some handmade clothes to wear in some beautiful leaf laden European locations. So there’s that.

But for now I’m just chugging along. Opening up my fashionary or laying out some of my fabrics when I get a bit stuck and I remind myself why I set this goal in the first place. 

And that’s all I need to keep on making my handmade wardrobe.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cambie LBD

The little black dress - Cambie style. I have to admit I didn't have a little black dress in my wardrobe and what better dress to own than the Cambie!

I initially bought this fabric with a Miz Mozelle Dress in mind according to this post. I'm really glad it turned into a Cambie instead though. The cotton is just the right weight for the Cambie and it really wouldn't have draped the way it needed to for the Miz Mozelle.

I asked the question on Twitter if I really needed to make a muslin for this dress and it was a big, resounding yes from everyone that answered. I'm so glad I actually listened. My measurements sat perfectly in a size 10 but once I'd tried on the bodice I was swimming in it. It needed so much adjusting it was actually easier to go back and trace a size 8 and start again. The 8 fit me perfectly so I'm guessing I don't personally need as much design ease as Sewaholic offers. I did notice that my first Alma was a touch big as well so I may err on the side of smaller sizes when it comes to tops and bodices for Sewaholic.

Confession time - I didn't line this. I'm not really a fan of linings and the summer gets so hot that I don't want any more fabric on me than necessary. This is part of the reason why I've chosen a black cotton because it didn't need the lining to make it less sheer.

I used black cotton bias binding on the neckline and sleeves which I handsewed on. It took forever but the end result was worth it. There are so many curves on that part of the dress that sewing bias binding on by machine would have done my head in. Plus no visible stitching all the way around.

The only spot that has visible stitching is from where I attached the sleeves to the bodice but it doesn't really bother me.

The only things I changed were to insert a lapped zipper instead of an invisible zipper because I like the look of them.  I sewed some ribbon around the inside to cover up the waistband and gathered skirt seams. Also I took 11 centimetres off the skirt to make it sit above my knee - so if you're 5"2 like me you might want to check the length before cutting your fabric. It's a fabric eater this dress!

The dress came together really easily except for the bit where I forgot to switch to a longer stitch length to gather those loooong skirt pieces. FYI it is excruciating to try and gather fabric on a 2.5 stitch length. Don't do that to yourself. Much less on a Cambie.

So all in all it was only user error that made this dress hard. Other than that it was a breeze to sew!

So easy in fact that I've lined up another Cambie straight away and I'm intending to have it finished by Christmas. Nothing like a deadline!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Home Sewing - Cushions for our swing seat

When we bought our new house (a year ago now!) I knew I wanted to make a flat cushion and some throw cushions for this gorgeous swing seat that came with the property. The little old lady that owned the property before us knew what it was all about. She had this set up in the perfect spot in the yard for it. It gets direct sunlight in the morning when it's not too hot but by midmorning it's in deep shade which lasts all day. It's perfect really. We can eat breakfast out on this spot of a morning or I can read a book or take a nap here of an afternoon over the weekend.

So the story is I was planning to make the flat cushion out of this mustard chevron fabric but discovered it was not wide enough to cut one continuous flat piece from. So I thought I'd just have a seam down the middle but that seemed odd seeing as it fits 3 people on it at a time. So then I thought I'd make it look like a 3 seater but cutting 3 pieces of fabric and mitre-ing the chevrons to make it looks continuous from afar but intentional from close up.

The short story here is that my skills in matching up chevrons failed me and many a curse word was spoken before this cushion simply got discarded. For ages. I mean months.

Luckily fiance's mum is a seamstress and she was doing a big de stash recently which saw me acquiring not just dress fabrics but a whooooole lot of upholstery fabric - including some dreamy suede which I'm yet to dream up a project for.

Anyway back to the cushion. I chose this white fabric from the pile. I'm pretty sure it's curtain fabric seeing as it has the blockout stuff on the back but this meant it was perfectly thick and sturdy and easy under the needle. It was my first time sewing any kind of piping but I made the process easier by sewing my piping about half a centimetre from the internal cording so that once I put it in the fabric sandwich it would behave for me. Which really worked. So hooray!

And those pesky pieces of chevron that defied me got cut up into smaller pieces and made into small throw cushions. Take that! I won.

And now I have a really lovely and inviting spot to sit in my backyard.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

White Cotton Alma

Here she is, my first Alma. Never mind that it took me 5 weeks to sew her. Never mind that she's not perfect like she looked in my head. She's finished and that's all that matters.

I bought this pattern with the intention of pairing it with some light weight cottons for some spring/summer tops. I liked the idea of having some light coloured tops to pair with darker skirts and shorts for maximum wearability. This particular fabric wanted to be made into an Alma first. Mostly because I had this idea of a super light white top I could wear on those stinking hot summer days.

I washed a whole lot of my cotton fabrics in one weekend but it wasn't until I ironed this one that I noticed just how heavy the embroidery makes the fabric. It worried me to add a Peter Pan collar to that as well as a gathered sleeve plus a lightweight cotton lining. So much bulk, was it going to work out?

Since I was too impatient to make a muslin I figured I'd just barrel on with this fabric and call it a wearable muslin if it didn't turn out properly. And a wearable muslin it became.

It doesn't look too bad once it's on. I know this pattern needs an SBA before I use it again but I do like that it came out big enough for me to put it over my head without an invisible zipper. I quite like having it a little roomy so it's not too hot in summer.

The collar is quite bulky which is noticable when you get up close (or if you happen to be the one wearing it) but I like the top enough for that not to bother me.

What I do love is how neat the innards are. This is the second time sewing up a Sewaholic Pattern and both of them have been dreamy to sew. In fact I've just cut out my fabric for my first Cambie (get excited!) after making not one but two muslins. See I do make muslins sometimes.

You might be able to see in this above picture that I lined it with lightweight cotton so there was no need for a facing. However I did topstitch these two layers together underneath the collar just so it wouldn't move around on me. I even lined the sleeves just so it was even all over instead of having sheer sleeves. Not that it would have mattered too much but it's the little things right?

I also opted to use bias binding on the hem instead of just a regular hem because it would have been really bulky to fold both layers up and then again before stitching it. I really didn't want to deal with that bulk around my hips.

So there you have it. Despite it needing improvements I do love the top and it's such a great basic I'll still be wearing it a lot. I look forward to playing around with an SBA on such a simple design for the first time. It should give me enough confidence to do this on all my patterns in the future. Stay tuned because there will be a lot more Alma's coming into my wardrobe before summer ends.