20 December 2013

Mint aperitif party dress

Well, this is just a quick update before I'm off for Christmas holidays (can't wait!). I finished this dress in November in time for a 50s, themed bridal shower, which was a picnic at the beautiful Hamilton Gardens (followed by dinner, drinks, karaoke and dancing). Unfortunately I didn't get too many snaps as the weather was pretty shitty.

The pattern is Butterick B6582, which is a repro from a 1960 pattern, but the silhouette of the full skirted version is close enough to pass for the 50s!

I had to resize it quite a bit as based on the pattern measurements I should be a 12 (smallest size on the pattern I bought) but I guess there is a shit tonne of ease in there because it was 12cms too wide overall :( I couldn't figure out how I should've gone about reducing the bodice with the overlapping bits and the facings so simply took 6cms from CF and CB and redrew the angled line going across the front of the bodice. This meant the angle of the neckline isn't exactly even but I don't think it's too noticeable. The dress wasn't too difficult to sew up once I'd figured out the resizing.

I also managed (just) to make a petticoat to go with it as the skirt really looks better with the extra poufiness :) The fabric was this amazing mint green with little bottles (pretty sure they are aperitif bottles) all over it, which went perfectly for a hen's night I thought! I got it from the Whitianga op shop, I've found so many good bargains there.

I really want to make the wiggle dress version of this pattern but that will have to wait as I've got so many other patterns waiting in the pipeline! A couple more snaps from the picnic with the lovely bride-to-be.

Well that's me done for the time being, bring on the sun, sand and good times at the beach. Hope everyone has a safe and happy holidays. Can't wait to see all the rest of your festive season makes xxxx

25 November 2013

Orange doughnuts

I tested out the Brasilia dress that Rachel of House of Pinheiro is releasing for FREE. It's due out on Christmas day. I would seriously recommend trying it out because it was such a breeze to sew and it is such a flattering style.

This Brasilia is more of a wearable muslin because I don't think I graded down enough from Rachel's size to fit me/to accommodate stretch fabric, but what the hell - I got heaps of compliments wearing it so it can't be too bad! I can't wait to get started on my next version, just maybe in not such a loud fabric....
Brasilia dress Brasilia dress - back

This stretch cotton (possibly sateen?) was from trusty ole Ike's in Devonport. So hard to resist the cheap fabrics there. The black/orange circle print (actually octagons if you look close enough) remind me of doughnuts, go figure! Unfortunately the print is off grain, but I don't think it's so noticeable from distance. I used a contrasting black and white striped fabric for the panels and binding otherwise it was just too orange or something. Not that I have anything against orange.
Black/orange print and bust darts

You can see the print doesn't match down the centre seam (but don't even care!)
Brasilia dress - front neckline

I used a contrasting black and white striped fabric for the panels and binding otherwise it was just too orange or something. Not that I have anything against orange.
Brasilia dress - front
Brasilia dress - closeup side
The fabric has stretched out a bit around my hips and bum so I might take it in but I'm not sure if I can be bothered - this dress is still fully wearable as is and I certainly plan on rocking it throughout the summer. I have my eye on a navy tropical print sateen for my next version.

22 November 2013

Pretty Pink Polka (dot) Polly

Because I can't help myself I've made another polka dotty thing - the Polly top! It's a totally free (FREE!) pattern from By Hand London. It's a simple top and didn't take too long for me to whip up.
Front tucked

I've only previously made 1 top so wanted to keep things simple. I found this slightly sheer, dotty fabric (off cuts of some sort) at John's Place Emporium in Wairau Park for about $2 a piece (I got 2). There was only 1 selvedge edge, which is what makes me think they are off cuts.
Grey/pink polka dot chiffon
Back - close upside close up

The dots are actually larger/more dense at one end of the fabric (not sure if it shows up in the photos - this is along the bottom of the top) which is a bit more interesting than regular dots... and I picked up the solid pink fabric ($4/m) from my fave store, Ike's. I don't have too much to say about sewing it up except that it was straight forward :)

I just made the straight (UK) size 10 and added a couple inches to the length, based off my issues fitting BHL's Anna dress bodice and I quite like longer length tops. But I think the original length would've been totally fine too. I also used french seams for the sides because of the sheer factor.
Polly top back

So that's it, another top to add to my summer wardrobe. I've almost finished up my November Sewing pattern for the Monthly Stitch (just have to hem it) and am about to cut out my La Sylphide dress for the sewalong. I've also got to get onto the November pattern for a Year in Indie Sewing, the Nougat dress from ┼átepalica patterns.

14 November 2013

(not so timely) Anna dress

Anna dress, Narrow Neck beach

Well *ahem* I finished my Anna dress from the sewalong... and finally got evidence of that fact! I wore it last evening as it has finally warmed up enough to comfortably wear it. These photos were taken at 7pm last night, man I love spring and summer with all the extra sunshiney goodness :)

back view Anna dresspink polka dot Anna
It was really hard to photograph this dress because of all the yellow... I love wearing this dress, it's so light and airy and feels absolutely lovely against my skin. Not sure of the fabric, probably polyester.

I whipped this up way ahead of the sewalong schedule, but with the weather and general other things going on this was my first chance to take photos. The only problems I had sewing her up were the fitting of the bodice, as previously discussed here. The rest of it was a breeze, even all the hand stitching of that split.

Beach - Anna dress

Speaking of which, I didn't realise how indecent of height it was till I was actually wandering down the road and the gentlest of winds blew it open..... I need to close her up by at least 2 inches, oops.
Anna dress - thigh splitClose up Anna dress

Overall I'm so happy with how this dress turned out. I ended up making the bandeau onepiece to go underneath this dress as I couldn't find anything to buy that was quite right, but i'm thinking i'll attempt to make a slip dress to go with.

Anna dress full length Anna dress - back

Next time I make the Anna (and there will be a next time!) I will avoid using  a sheer fabric and shorten the bodice length a smidge, as I added a bit too much in my opinion.
Garden - Anna dress
I can't believe that I wasn't very into this pattern when I first saw it, I can see my Anna getting a huge workout this upcoming summer!

26 September 2013

Anna dress - the bodice, take one...

By now everyone in the online sewing community has probably come across the fabulous By Hand London pattern company, but if you haven't, what are you waiting for - head on over to their site and check out their stylish patterns. I'm taking part in the Anna Dress Sewalong and can't wait to make up the others; I already have plans in my head for the Elisalex dress, Charlotte skirt and the Victoria blazer.

I have to confess, when I first saw Anna's popping up everywhere I thought "that dress looks great on all those people, but it's not really me". I was pretty certain I didn't want to make one myself. That all changed when I spotted (no pun intended, well, maybe a little bit...) an awesome yellow and pink polka dot fabric at Ike's: it couldn't help coming home with me. I picked up 3m (and Ike's is always veeeery generous with their cuts) thinking I would make some sort of summery shift dress. Then I remembered how much I dislike the shift dress shape on me. It's possibly all in my head, but my body shape definitely falls into the peary-hourglass type shape and I just don't feel comfortable without having any waist definition in my dresses. So I started thinking about a simple dress that is suitable for my beginner sewing skillz (that polka dotty fabric is quite sheer and chiffony in texture) and the Anna seemed to fit the bill. The more I tried looking for other dresses that were simple but had definition in the waist without too much else going on the more I couldn't get Anna out of my head. Then the sewalong was announced and boom I jumped on the Anna bandwagon.

Not known for my patience, I traced and cut out all the pattern pieces without paying too much attention to the finished measurements. I should know by now, having made 3 dresses, and having to alter ALL of them in the bodice, that I can't sew straight out of the box. I'm tall for standard pattern heights used and my boobage falls in the D/DD cup region so even though my bust/waist measurements seem to fit close enough to pattern sizes, I probably always need a FBA and to start from the next size down from what the pattern is telling me to get the right fit across the back, if that makes sense.

So the bodice for the Anna ended up looking like this...
...which at first glance doesn't look so bad, but I had to pull it down for those pleats to sit under my bust, which puts a lot of strain between the pleats and pulled the side seams way forward

Bodice - pleats

and looks like this at the back, yikes! That bad boy is sitting really tight across my chest so that's the closest it was getting to closing at the back :(

Anna back bodice 1

I didn't stuff up my measurements (and carefully sewed with the correct seam allowance) - my bust measures 90cm (approx 35.5 inches - checked about 5 times measuring myself and getting my husband to measure) and I cut the UK size 12, which should accommodate a 36 bust. My waist is 67.5cm (approx 26.5 inches) and I graded down to the UK 10 which is a 27 waist, but aside from the cup size the issue here is the length - the waist on the bodice is sitting around 4 inches above my actual waist!

Anna bodice waist

Just goes to show that the circumference measurements alone aren't always reliable! The post from the BHL gang on FBAs and lengthening the bodice went up over the weekend (right AFTER my failed first bodice attempt) so I really should've waited and stuck to the sewalong schedule, d'oh! Thankfully this fabric was only $4/m, and there was lots of it at Ike's, so I picked up some more and have started on bodice number 2. I followed the suggested FBA technique but didn't want a side dart so just measured the extra width that would've been there if I kept a dart and added that to the pleats. I'm not sure if I did it "correctly" or not but I think there should be enough room in there for the girls now. Then after the FBA, I added 1 inch ABOVE the pleats and 2 inches through a line cutting across the pleats - this was because those pleats were finishing too close to my boobs to sit nicely.

FBA - AnnaFBA and lenghtenend bodice

This is the first time I've done a 'proper' FBA - the other dresses I've sewn I've just made a size larger than my measurements and severely pinched in any waist darts and taken in the side seams until it fit me in the waist. Hopefully that is the last major alteration I have to do on my Anna. From now on I think a FBA might have to be a standard alteration for me!

20 September 2013

Metallic Laurie Striped Tee

Laurie Striped Tee
Laurie Tee back
Here's my first completed Named pattern - the Laurie Striped Tee. So that makes 1/1 for the year in indie patterns challenge, I wonder what pattern company Stephanie will choose for October?

Whoop, first T-shirt I've ever made and only the second time I've sewn with a knit. I don't want to jinx myself here but I don't get what all the sewing with knits fear is about? I read up on it, used a ballpoint needle and the "stretch stitch" on my machine, took my time and had no issues. Any fault in the finished top is my own lack of paying attention so I'm not going to blame anything on the fabric. Actually, I take that back - this was a bitch to press, the fabric wouldn't hold the pleats very well - but a bad tradesmen blames his tools so I'm still not going to blame my slightly wonky pleats on the fabric :p

I don't own an overlocker so this was completely sewn with my normal machine. I'm really happy with how it turned out - the bottom hem is wonky but I think (hopefully) I'm the only person who will notice.... This is a bit baggier than I'd normally wear my T-shirts, and the shoulders are a teeny tiny smidge too wide, but it's definitely something I will wear (and have already!). Looking again at the model for this pattern I think it's supposed to be this relaxed a fit?

Laurie - necklineClose-up of stripesLaurie - sleeve
The pattern was really easy to tape together and trace, the only issue I really had was the lack of illustrations with the instructions. That being said, this is a very basic pattern so it wasn't difficult without, I just like looking at diagrams of how things should go together :) I would be a bit apprehensive about sewing some of the more difficult Named patterns without diagrams....

I used a metallic grey knit from Centrepoint Fabrics in Newmarket. Sorry for the out of focus photos - it is a lot sparklier IRL but my shitty point-and-click camera (and the lack of daylight) made photographing it difficult. On top of the sparkle there is a shiny dot kinda pattern on the fabric as well. You can sorta see it here
Metallic knit fabric
I trawled through Ike's and Spotlight for an appropriately drapey knit with no success so had to check the more expensive fabric stores to find the right sorta knit. Luckily this stuff was $5/m but I had trouble deciding on fabrics; once I found a store that actually had a SELECTION to choose from, I  went a bit crazy and got 2 other pricier knits as well. Meh, i'll find good uses for the other knits, this Laurie is more of a wearable muslin anyway, I'm keen to make a more fitted version of it.

I persuaded Sean to take a few photos (the ones taken outside- at the top of this post) but he wasn't that into it so I figured out the self timer on my camera - here are a few shots of me trying to get the distance/angle right
Laurie Tee - back
Laurie - back
The camera autofocus with the timer was a bit funny so I've still got to play around with places/times of day that are best for taking outfit photos.

And here's an obligatory kitty photo.
Windowsill cat
Maya is generally my little "helper" when I'm sewing but she wasn't around on Sunday when I was making my Laurie t-shirt. I'm participating in the Anna Dress Sewalong from the ladies at By Hand London, and Maya has been dutifully keeping my sewing chair warm for me since I started on my Anna...

A year-long sewing challenge...

Over at Starcross, Stephanie is planning to sew 1 indie pattern each month for a year and review it. This seems like something I could realistically follow so am jumping on the bandwagon. For September, the indie pattern company is Named. I recently discovered this company via House of Pinhiero and have fallen head over heels in love with all of the gorgeous patterns. They very closely match the kind of style that I would buy RTW, but this is even better - I can make clothes that I will realistically wear and that ACTUALLY fit me. Wins all round :)

I had so much trouble deciding on which pattern(s) to choose. My top faves are:

Julian Knit Dress

Charlie Tux Pants

Laurie Striped Tee
Since I'm still very much a beginner I figured the Tee was the most realistic for me so stay tuned for my take on it :)

Anyone else made the Laurie Tee yet?

26 August 2013

'Sprinter' weekend holiday

This Sprinter (Winter that feels like Spring and moves really fast, ha!) has been decidedly mild in Auckland. The real Spring officially starts on Sunday here, but who cares when winter has been more than bearable? Me and a group of friends decided to make the most of the fantastic weather and spent this past weekend in Mangawhai Heads, a small beach town about an hour and a half North of Auckland. We couldn't have asked for better conditions on Saturday morning so hit the Mangawhai cliff tops pathway. It was a good 3 hours of walking up and along the cliffs, through foresty patches then venturing back along the beach and rocks. It had clouded over by the afternoon so we definitely timed our walk to perfection. I got a bit snap happy so this is a minor selection of all the photos I took.....

Mangawhai Heads walkway SDC12046 SDC12048 Treeee SDC12078 SDC12089 Hare's leg Rocks Walking

Right towards the end of the trail, we almost went home with a new friend....

Furry friend - TobyAlex and Toby

but he eventually returned to his rightful owners.

I wore my leopard print Oh La Leggings and they were perfect: not too heavy but provided enough warmth for when the wind picked up. My top stitching on these was a bit wonky, however, the pattern hides it, I think. Luckily, the pattern also obscures the fact that this fabric is slightly see through, normally something I'd abhor in leggings.

Rock hopping
Oh La Leggings from above
Oh La Leggings close-up

And after all our exertions we went back to the bach for some hard earned toasted marshmallows and home-made Sangria, delicious!

Roasting marshmallows

If you are ever near Mangawhai I'd highly recommend giving this trail a go. It was stunningly beautiful with all the Nikau palms, Pohutukawa trees and Toi Toi bushes, and that was during Winter. I imagine in the Summer with the Pohutukawa in full bloom it would be an even better sight worth seeing!