Thursday, 27 September 2012

More Patterns!

I mentioned in my last post that I bought some Butterick patterns. They have arrived! So excited!!

As you can see below there are two dress patterns and a coat. Although I do love this pattern and can't wait to start it, I will need to find the perfect fabric and lining. So I am going to leave the coat aside for the next couple of months, especially since summer is approaching down here (although with Victorian weather it's always hard to tell if you going to need a coat or not!) and focus on the two dress patterns.
I have three weddings coming up in November, December and February and have grand ambitions of sewing a dress for each event. The first is already in the works and I am in the very slow process of making a (hopefully) wearable muslin.

I love this retro dress and have seen a finished version over on the Craftsy website. I am trying to decide between version A or A1. Both are super cute! Any ideas on which is better?

Red isn't my colour and I have my eye on some beautiful blue silk from Joy's. I also just bought some black fabric that is 55% silk and 45% linen that was $12 a meter at Spotlight (am VERY excited about this purchase), maybe that would look nice? The pattern recommends linen, chambray, crepe, shutung or cotton broadcloth. Still learning about the different fabrics, so maybe my linen silk blend will be perfect.

Interestingly, there are no recommendations on the type of lining you would use. I wonder if that is because the dress is not suppose to be lined. I think I would still line the skirt.

The second dress is one of Gertie's patterns (of Gertie's blog for better sewing fame) and I really like it because it's a bit different. Really unsure about the type of fabric to use on this dress and the colour as well. Any ideas on types of fabric that could work? The pattern recommends faille, crepe de chine,  taffeta, cotton damask. The underlining should be crepe de chine. It also calls for covered boning, which I have never worked with, nor have I worked with any of the recommended fabrics. Eeek.  This project may have to be for the Feb wedding as it seems a bit advanced for me! I might need to sew up quite a few dresses to get some experience and confidence before I tackle this one!

No matter when I start this project, I can see that it is going to be hard choice on the fabric and there is going have to be some serious fabric shopping expeditions needed to find the perfect match for this pattern. I can already hear my husband groaning at the thought!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Patterns, Patterns, Patterns!

This week I have gone a little crazy on buying patterns. Firstly, I bought Gertie's coat and dress pattern from Butterick and another retro pattern pattern which I saw someone on the craftsy website had made and which I adored. These patterns were on sale and shipping wasn't very much either. Considering the difficulty of getting patterns through the chain stores in Australia I thought it would just be easier to buy off the website. I would prefer to support local businesses, but given that they only seem to stock one of everything and I end up calling four stores, I took the easier option.

My other purchase was 150 patterns off eBay. They came in the boxes below! I have had a quick sort through and there is quite a few that I will probably never use, so they may end up back on eBay.

I love the pictures they have on the front. Especially for the men's pajamas. The guy has a golf club?! Do men golf in their pajamas? Or is it just so we know for sure they are men's pjs? Lucky they added the golf club, because I did get a bit confused when I saw the second man who is in the nighty. I offered to make Trevor (husband) one and to say he wasn't overly keen is a bit of an understatement. I think his actual response was a snort and a 'yeah right'.

I saw a new brand of pattern in the box that I have never come across before (not that I know every company that ever made patterns), Weigel's. I had never heard of Weigel's and was amazed to see a made in Australia logo on it. A bit of a google research showed that Weigel's was started in the 1880's by a lady named Johanna Weigel and her husband, who used to make all of her own dresses and started a business after many of her friends had requested her patterns. I found a biography here and some more information here. Both are very interesting to read. Johanna died in the 1940's (at age 92!!), but the dresses on the left look like they might be from the 1960s or 1970s. I am not sure what period the nighty is from. Does anyone have any clues?

I will definitely be doing some more research and would love if anyone knows anything more about this company and the patterns to leave a comment or send me an email.

My other exciting bit of news was that one of my friends is starting a pattern making business and has asked if I would like to be a pattern tester. That would be a big yes!! So looking forward to sharing her patterns and my efforts at sewing them and doing justice to her creativeness (bit worried about the last bit!). If you have any tips for how to start a pattern making business, please let me know so I can pass them on!

Now all I need to do is buy some more fabric, and sit down and do some sewing. I can't wait to start :)

Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Cape/Coat - Not in time for Winter

I am not really a cape kind of girl. Mainly, its because capes don't have sleeves, which I find really weird. Enter the New Look 6007 pattern. It's still a cape but it has a belt! Most people will probably wonder what makes the belt so special? Well, its no so much the belt, but the design and how it incorporates the belt. With this design, the belt loops through the inside of the cape and back along the outside of the back, before looping into the cape again. This has the effect of creating sleeves (kind of) and a cape with sleeves is my kinda cape!

I probably still wouldn't have tried making this, but my sewing teacher had made one in a gorgeous royal purple and had it on display at class. I tried it on and loved it. So much so that I vowed to make one or steal Maree's when she wasn't looking. Obviously Maree wasn't so keen on my taking hers, so that left me with the option of making one myself. We both made view C.

During the course of the next week, I went to various fabrics stores looking for cashmere or a nice wool blend in a colour that wasn't grape, mustard, black, red or grey. I thought that it would be relatively easy to find, its not like I was being picky over the colours or anything. I had no luck. None that is, until someone suggested Rathdown Fabrics in Brunswick. So I coerced my husband to drive me there and found this beautiful royal colour that is cashmere and only $30 a meter!!! I was pretty excited about the cost as cashmere was not that cheap anywhere. I bought some blue lining as well and was very happy with my purchase.

After I got home and begun cutting and sewing up the cashmere and then the lining, I decided I didn't like the lining I bought. When I next happened to be in Joy's, I saw some beautiful blue silk. It was divine. It would look divine with my cashmere. It was only $10.80 a meter???! I thought about my other lining at home for exactly two seconds and purchased the new lining.

There were a few mishaps sewing cashmere and silk together (they do not seem to be the best of friends). There was also the issue of adding interface to the hem to stabilise it, the cashmere was a bit fluffy and the interfacing did not want to stick to it. This resulted in me accidentally stretching one of the 'wings' when I was trying to make the interfacing stick. Luckily, with a bit of careful ironing, I managed to shrink the cashmere back into its original shape, more or less.

My biggest disappointment is that although I finished it before the end of winter, its the end of winter. I am sure Melbourne will have plenty more chilly days ahead in Spring!

I need to apologise for the photos. For some reason this site keeps changing the colours, or maybe there was a patch of sun when I took the photos. I have tried to play around the colours through Instagram, but had no luck. The true colour of the coat is closer to the colour in the photos with me wearing it.

The Facts

Fabric: Cashmere $30 pm from Rathdown Fabrics, Silk Lining $10.80 pm from Joy's
Pattern: New Look 6005
Notions:  none
Time to complete: 4.5 classes (I was really slow)
First worn: not worn yet
Total Price: about $90

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

A Fun New Purse

I really hate my current purse. Its a cheapo that I got from Bali along with my all-time fav purse that died.I haven't found another since that I really liked, so I stuck to the annoying one.  When I saw a pattern from on the blog Dixie DIY (Dixie DYI purse pattern ), I was pretty excited. I WAS GOING TO MAKE MY OWN PURSE!!!

Super excited, I downloaded the pattern and the instructions and took them home and put them on the coffee table. There they sat until I got inspired to cut and assemble the actual pattern. Another couple of weeks went passed. until I spotted some great fabric and decided that I was going to make it this very weekend. Especially as I was feeling sick and was having a indoors weekend with the TV. I bought the fabric and cut out all the pieces. I also opened up the blog as it has photos and more instructions. To be honest, I hate reading instructions. I just don't understand them. So I made Trev read them, with the argument that he is used to putting BBQs, tents etc with instructions so he would have more hope at deciphering the instructions. He actually did help quite a bit.

So there was a lot of unpicking (as usual) as I decided to skip steps and not think about why the steps would be in that specific order. Of course it made sense as soon as I finished and realised that the coin pocket was sewn together and I was unable to open it. Duuuh!

There was a fair amount of top stitching, which was good practise for another project I have in the pipeline. Most of the stitching is reasonably straight (it might have taken two goes). I am a tiny bit disappointed because its a little bit shorter/smaller than I thought. I think I took to much seam allowance at the end when I sewed the entire thing. This resulted in the credit card sections not being long enough. So I unstitched the credit card section to make it more like a money pocket. Credit cards can sit in it sideways or in the other side. It is also a bit wonky when it folds over (you can see in the first photo that the under the flap, the fold doesn't quite match).
I was very happy with the coin purse on the back. It came up really well in the end. I want to make another purse and make it bigger so that I can put in the credit card section. I really like the design of the purse, and now that I know what I am doing, it should be much easier and faster. Need to buy some more fun material though! This material worked out much better than I had hoped.

The Facts

Fabric: crazy fabric from Spotlight, about 30 cms needed about $5 and interfacing
Pattern: Dixie DYI blog
Notions:  zip $1.99 and a press stud, 10 cents
Total Price:  About $8

Saturday, 4 August 2012


I haven't posted for awhile as I have been sick, back to study and have spent a week in Sydney for work and have struggled to do much sewing. Hopefully, I get the chance to do more in the next month. I have a few projects that need to be finished.

So many of my friends are pregnant at the moment. So I thought I would have a go at making some bibs and hopefully will have mastered the perfect bib by the time everyone has their babies. It was so much fun buying all the cute little baby prints and it was quite hard to stop with one or two prints so i bought six...

I was able to find a site that has heaps of different patterns that are free to download, see here. People are so generous sharing their great patterns. I really liked the Liberty Baby Bib pattern by Purlbee and so downloaded it. The bibs have been backed with terry towelling. I went to some of the big chain stores and was surprised to find that there is not a large range of terry towelling around and it only came in white. Also all the samples found where very thin. In the end I bought some large thick and fluffy bath towels from Kmart, which seemed better quality and much cheaper. I need to finish the bibs with some Velcro to make them easy to get on and off. Below are my attempts.

I love the giraffes on this print. So cute! Although it might be considered a bit girlie for a boy. I had tried to buy neutral prints, as I am not sure what everyone is having. I think that I succeeded a bit more with the print below.

I am not overly impressed with my top stitching on the zoo baby print. It's very wonky, so I didn't bother top stitching the other two bibs. I also think this print is a bit more boyish.

On the whole I am pretty happy with the results! Hopefully the people that receive these bibs are too! So grateful to PurlBee for their great pattern.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

The Red Bow Belt and The Crimson Flower Skirt

The Red Bow Belt

The Red Bow Belt is a really easy belt to make and I think it looks quite effective as well. I found it on the Tilly and the Buttons blog. When I saw it, I could imagine it going with a particular black work dress that I have. Overall, it's a really easy project that you don't even need a sewing machine to complete. You can find the instructions here at Tilly and the buttons.

I followed the instructions exactly and am quite pleased with how it turned out. Thinking that I will need to make another one as well, possibly in black this time though to go with some of my lighter coloured dresses.

The Facts

Fabric: Red broadcloth at $5 per meter from Spotlight
Pattern: Tilly and the Buttons blog
Notions:  hook and eye x 2 20 cents
Time to complete: 30 mins
First worn: not worn yet
Total Price: about $1.70

The Crimson Flower Skirt

I love this material, well the pattern anyway. Its so bright and reminds me of summer. The actual fabric is a stretch satin, not the best fabric to be using for someone who has really only sewn pyjamas in flannelet. I think I would have preferred to make a dress out of this fabric, rather than a skirt, but I have plenty left over so that is a future project. I just need to find a good pattern that will suit the material.

The construction of this skirt resulted in a death. The death of my mum's Brother over locker. It was 28 years old (roughly) and had a long and useful life. My mum originally bought her over locker well before I was born.

I am not taking complete responsibility for killing the machine, but I did have a helping hand. The main cause of the over locker's death was due to sewing over a pin and breaking a needle on the over locker. In my defence the pin was hidden, so much so that I had trouble finding the pin once I realised I had actually broken the needle. Lesson learnt was don't let someone else pin something for you, if they do, check to see if the pins are going in the same direction that you are sewing. Also double check that you can actually see all the pins. Common sense right? Well lets just say that sometimes I lack common sense, as I did not follow the above rules with disastrous results. After I broke the needle, everything went on hold. It took a week to organise another needle. Once Mum had another needle, someone (and I actually can't remember who) changed the needle over. Trev helped me get the over locker going and it seemed that all was going well, Then I noticed that the over locker was cutting off the excess material. Trev did some more tinkering and managed to fix the issue. Great, I might even manage to finish the skirt this weekend I thought. I had thought too soon. The same needle then decided to wreck my weekend by breaking again!

I decided that obviously, Trev and I had done something wrong somewhere, and that it would be easier if a professional had a look at the machine. So Trev dropped it off at the repairers. The repairer confirmed that the machine was fixable, but the part was likely to cost over $150 plus his time! His suggestion was to buy a new machine as it would be cheaper and easier. Once mum and I had a chat  and decided that it would make more sense to just buy a new machine for $500. So I did! I mentioned my new toy in my last blog, so I won't go into the details of my new love again, other than to say its amazing!

Once I had an over locker, it was very easy to finish this skirt, and over all the skirt was pretty quick and easy to make. I love the two big pockets that it has. This is one of the reasons the skirt is so drapey and not so fitted. It also has several darts and was the first time I had ever sewed darts. This was made trickier by the fact the material is stretch and slippery. Again not a great combination for a beginner. This material also is not forgiving on mistakes. It won't allow unpicking and resewing as the fabric will have obvious holes. Overall though, it doesn't look too bad. I am am not sure if I will wear this skirt during winter as it really is a light summer skirt. I didn't line it, although would probably line anything else I make with this fabric.

The Facts

Fabric: stretch satin at $2.50 per meter from Joys Warehouse
Pattern: Butterick 6007 circa 1980s, which included a jacket pattern. The whole pattern was an op shop buy for $1.
Notions:  zip $1, hook and eye x2 20 cents
Time to complete: 3.5 hours
First worn: not worn yet
Total Price: about $5

Monday, 18 June 2012

The Black Lace Skirt and a new toy!

Last Saturday, I went to Spotlight for a look at the big sale. I found some gorgeous green duchess satin and black lace. One of my friends has a cute skirt that was black lace over white satin and so I was inspired to make my own version but with a colour I very rarely wear. Having made the decision to purchase the fabric, I then decided I needed a new pattern the skirt, as the patterns I had at home wouldn't suit what I wanted. So I had a look through the pattern section and found the perfect pattern from vogue. And it was on sale!! Clearly it was meant to be! At least until I got to the counter anyway. Once at the counter, it was a different story. They didn't have the pattern I wanted. AGAIN. This is not the first time I have tried to buy a pattern at Spotlight Geelong and they don't have it. I am now of the opinion that they don't stock patterns at my local store. They never have the ones that I want in the sizes I want. Nor are they helpful in trying to get the pattern in. Apparently they don't do interstore transfers and don't know when they get deliveries and even if they will get more in. I was quite disappointed when I left.

I had a look at the other patterns and was not overly impressed. So I called the store in the next suburb to see if they had it. They were so helpful and even though they didn't have any in stock, they offered to order it in. They also did a search of the other stores and were able to tell me that the Ballarat store had it in stock. Talk about great customer service!!! Even after all of that, they transferred me to the Ballarat store and I was able to put the pattern on hold. So on Sunday, I toddled off to Ballarat to pick up my pattern.

Once I got my pattern, I was eager to make the skirt in one day. I thought it was completely achievable. There are only five pieces to the pattern and it all looked pretty simple from the cursory glance I had given the instructions. It probably would have been achievable if I had of bothered to read the instructions properly, instead of doing my usual trick of assuming that I knew what I was doing! I am not sure why I do this or think that I have a clue when clearly, I have no idea and can not read a pattern as the pictures and words don't seem to ever match). I thought all I need to do is cut out all the pieces and sew the darts in the green then sew the darts in the black. Once I had actually completed the darts, I had a look at exactly how the darts in the black lace were suppose to sit, and then realised that actually, I was suppose to do the darts in both pieces together! So I unpicked eight darts and went to add the black lace. I realised then that the black lace on the front panel had a hole in it. A BIG noticeable hole. I couldn't leave it there, it was impossible to miss! So I re-cut the lace. and based it to the satin. It looked great! No holes and the lace was sitting pretty flat. I placed the front panel between the two back panels. Looking good. Actually on a second inspection, the back panels looked like the roses on the lace they were going in a different direction!!! Another comparison with one of the back panels upside down confirmed it. Double crap! So it was back to the cutting board to re-cut the back panels so everything was going in the same direction.

I re-cut, re-based everything and resewed the darts and was quite happy with it all. I even managed to put the zip in without any problems. Things were going well. Or at least a lot more smoothly. I decided it was time to sew the three panels together. I sewed the skirt together and tried it on. Only to notice that it was too big despite having cut the correct size for my measurements and having taken a bit off in when I was sewing the seams. I also wasn't happy with the inside as I had had to zigzag stitch everything to prevent the material fraying. Normally, I would just use an over locker to neaten it all up, but as I had no over locker I needed to use another technique to stop the fraying. I originally thought that I could French seam it all, but after I had completed the French seam on seam joining the two back panels, I realised that the fabric was too thick and was going to cause the seams to be too bulky. So I zigzag stitched the seams. It looked so messy. Call me spoilt, but I love how neat the over locker makes everything and how much more professional it looks as well.

I put the skirt aside for the rest if the week and decided to wait until I had an over locker again. Trev agreed that I should buy one. Once I had obtained his blessing, I called the two stores in Geelong that sell Janomes and got some prices. I found the Janome MyLock 644D that was within my price range a while on sale. It had a good reputation and is suppose to be easy to thread, plus it came with some free lessons on how to use it, cotton, a pair of dress makers scissors and the first 12 month service free. Sold to the girl who can't stand zigzagging her garments!

Just as a quick side note on the MyLock 644D- these are amazing! I know they are not in the same league as a Babylock, but unfortunately my budget does not stretch anywhere near that far. The MyLock 644D can do all sorts of cool stuff though, including gather, complete rolled hems, sew the stretch in to the stretchy fabric (which prevents gathering) and you can even get special feet that help you sew in the piping and the zippers. I think these feet might be a must have, especially the zip one! It is also much easier to thread than the old one. I could never thread the old one without something going wrong and seeing as I get frustrated quite easily at things like that, Trev always ended up re-threading for me. I can confirm that I do LOVE this machine and wish that I had more time to play with it. I am guessing that most of the features above are quite standard, but given the fact Mum's over locker was a brother that was at least 28 years old and did none of the above, I am pretty excited.

Anyway back to the skirt-Mum came around Saturday afternoon and helped me to fit the skirt and put the waistband in. I then had the pleasure of hand sewing the hem and putting a hook and eye above the zip, before being all done! Hooray! Another finished project!

New Skills
Skills learnt included working with lace on a slippery surface and how to get everything to sit flat. This required me to learn how to baste, the best method I found was doing it by hand as everything sat much flatter than when I did basted it using the machine. Putting in darts with the lace was also a new one, but was made easier since I had put in all the darts before I realised I had made a mistake and had to unpick them all. To make it easier, I put in some long stitches through the middle of the dart before I sewed the dart to ensure that I caught the lace when sewing it. Then pulled the stitches out once the darts had been completed.
The Facts
Fabric: Mint green duchess satin $7.65 per meter (on sale), black lace also $7.65 per meter and on sale from Spotlight
Pattern: Vogue easy options 6383. Pattern was about $14.90 and will definitely be made again as I want to try a couple of the other views.
Notions: 7″ zip $1, hook and eye 10 cents
Time to complete: 6 or 7 hours
First worn: At work today
Wear again? Sure will! Its a nice skirt for work.
Total Price:  about $17.00 (not including pattern price)