Extra curricular sewing activities (buying fabric when you aren’t supposed to)

Today I met up with a few of the girls from our BurdaStyle Sewing Club for lunch at Chez Jean-Claude Patisserie in West Leederville which just so happens to be right around the corner from Potters Textile Outlet. “How convenient?” I can hear you say…Why yes, that’s what we thought ;)

I haven’t managed to get back there since my last visit and 99% of their stock had completely changed. I mean the standard linens were still there (they don’t count) but honestly there was only one other bolt of fabric I recognised from last time and two bags on the remnants table, the rest: Brand new. Plus they now have some trims too…ohhh!

Here is what I came away with:

So I know the pink/brown leafy design is a cotton/viscose (it feels so nice!) I got 1.5 meters, the other three were from the remnant table so take a guess. The black is definitely cotton with a slight stretch and (you might not see it in the picture) has diagonal ribs through it, there is only about 1 meter of this but it’s so nice I grabbed it. The shiny black with the cool 80s Aztec print is a sort of foil print with a tiny bit of stretch and I have no idea what the black and white fabric is. It might be a silk crepe and it has a really nice feel,  I got about 1.5 meters and the pattern changes in wide bands from polka dots to lines and back again in the reverse. All up I spent just $50 and LOOK at it! What a perfect lunch outing.

I am terrible with fabrics, I know. Knowing what to call them, content/type etc, this will be one of my 2011 New Years Resolutions, to get a better handle on my fabrics. I bought a hard cover scrap book and I intend to hand-write in (because that’s how I’ll remember) fabric definitions and then staple in a piece of the fabric to help me identify them. This will hopefully also include handy notes like washing instructions, what that type of fabric is good for and any other properties that might be interesting/helpful to know. I’d like to try a few of the tests I’ve read about online (burning/smelling/smoke colour type experiments) that help you determine a fabrics content. I also have plenty of sewing books to help me with this task, I just have to take the time to learn from them and put it into a format that helps me retain the knowledge. I’m sure you’ll hear more about this ongoing project next year.

A new strategy: November 2010 Burda Mash-Up

I’m getting desperate now, my November Burda arrived but still no Manequim or Patrones (although they did send me a renewal notice asking for money!)

:(

So not much magazine love for me this month.

I’ve been flicking through the newest Burda over and over instead and it occurred to me that I always see patterns I want to make then forget about them. I’ve flicked through a few other magazines recently and found myself thinking, “Oh yes, I remember wanting to make that dress!” Part of the problem is that my magazines arrive in the wrong season, it’ll be 42 degrees outside (that’s about 107 degrees Fahrenheit) and the issue is full of (beautiful) wool coats, ugh. But the main reason is that I can’t sew anywhere near as fast as my magazine addiction’s growth rate.

So I’m starting a new strategy, one that won’t be help me much until I get back from my honeymoon but I am putting it in place now, and I’m going to share it with you.

It’s not the usual Burda review, there are plenty of blogs doing that already. No this is going to be a quick and dirty snapshot of my favourites for the month from each magazine and we are starting with November’s Burda issue, since it is the only new magazine I have right now and the internet makes it so easy to acquire the images.

This is not a promise that I will make every item, by the way, just a way to help me (and maybe you) to remember them all. Something I can pop back to when the appropriate season rolls around.

Here we go:

Burda November 2010

I had trouble liking this issue when I first saw it, it’s all a bit gypsy for me to be honest. But when I look at my selections like this I can see that I do like quite a few items from this issue.

So did I miss anything that YOU love?

Nervous beginnings…

I wasn’t going to write too much more about my wedding dress progress so that the finished product was more of a surprise for you all (all 10 of you according to my stats, hehe) but since my latest Patrones or my first Manequim magazine haven’t shown up yet (or my November Burda come to think of it) I’m a little short on blogging content. Mind you, as my friend S so cleverly pointed out they’d just be a distraction anyway and this way I can save them for reading material on the plane flights. I can take her idea one step further because if I souvenir myself some fabric I’ll have some patterns already picked out for it. I also really need to find some time to photograph my Melbourne Cup dress and convince Mr Curious to let me photograph him in his Stinchcomb jacket.

Altering the pattern pieces

I’ll try not to give away too many spoilers: So you know that I picked up my fabric earlier in the month. I cut the interfacing and lining pieces first with the thought that if I started with the cheap (and easy to replace) it would ease my nervous scissor hands more gently into it. Unfortunately I had a bit of a problem with the self fabric. When I started to unroll it I noticed a little grey dot on the end of the fabric. No bother I said, I knew I’d bought too much fabric so I’d just start at the other end and this dot would end up on the leftovers. But as I unrolled a bit more there was another…and another….and another. All the way down the 6 meters or pristine white fabric. Crap. So I rolled it back up, put it into the bag, had a (little) cry then dug out my receipt and stuck it all it the car for a lunchtime dash back to Fabulous Fabrics the next day.

Laying out on the interfacing

Laying out on the lining fabric

The girls there were great. There wasn’t enough of the same fabric left to cut another 6 meters and the roll that mine was originally cut from had the same grey dots through it. They helped me chose a few other “whites” and eventually I found another bolt with enough fabric on it that made me happy. This time they cut the fabric by hand (as opposed to using the rolling machine) so we could check the entire length for marks. There was a bit of soiling on the end of the roll, probably from someone draping it over themselves in front of the mirror so the manager gave me an extra 1.5 meters for free! They were all so nice and understanding so I went back to work very happy.

Finally the self fabric!

And so I started pinning and cutting my main fabric, careful to place my pins within the seam allowance since an earlier “pin test” showed my fabric liked pin holes very much, and then I cut. I can’t believe I was so nervous, I’ve already made this entire dress once from calico but there’s just something about the “real” dress that gives me the jitters. I desperately want it to be perfect and while a lot of people know that I am making it I don’t want people who don’t know to be able to tell that I made it myself. The true seamstresses test no?

It took a long time to baste all the interfacing to the internal lining pieces and the lining to the self fabric for the upper bodice but it all went quite smoothly. Then the first “proper” seam I sewed I ended up unpicking. I had sewn the wrong sides together but that’s ok, at least I got that error out of the way nice and early. My fiancé installed a soundcard to my computer earlier in the day so I got to catch up on Project Runway while I unpicked.

Unpicking...

The internal bodice went together as smoothly as it did in calico and I am really happy with the fit and extended length.

Internal bodice

The rest of the dress is (relatively) easy compared to this, just super amazingly long seams to sew, press and finish so I have spent a little bit of time on it each night during the week pinning and sewing these together (starting with the lining pieces again for good luck) and I am making good progress, completely on track in regards to my timeline.

Except that I still don’t have shoes…

Last night I hit another hiccup but I am hoping it is the last and if this is the worst mistake I make for the whole project then I’ll be happy. When I transferred my changes for the pleat from the calico to the paper pattern pieces I altered the wrong side of the centre back piece. I thought something was up when I was trying to pin it to the rest of the dress so I stopped and took out my calico dress to have a better look. When I laid the paper piece on it I knew exactly what I had done wrong and I couldn’t believe I had made such a simple mistake.

Whoops!

New CORRECTED pieces

Knowing I had extra fabric saved me from a complete meltdown so I just re-cut the paper piece correctly and pulled out my extra fabric to recut those pieces.  Back on track…again and that’s where I am up to. I have a finished internal bodice, the mostly assembled lining, assembled upper bodice and assembled lower skirt pieces. Now to bring it all together…

Back on track with some great NZ music on YouTube to keep me company

Completely fascinated

First up, a quick correction to my last post: I should have mentioned that the pattern pieces you saw me gleefully cutting up were just copies. I feel awful that I may have inadvertently given several of my wonderful sewing friends heart attacks. Let me explain: I am lucky that through my job I have access to a large format copier, printer and scanner (as in A0) so whenever you see me hacking into what looks like expensive magazine sheets fear not! I promise they are copies. You might have noticed the blue highlighter markings on the pieces, this is because Mr Large Format Copier only copies in black and white so I have to go back and mark on any of the coloured markings pertaining to that pattern because they blend in with the million zillion other lines that are now all black.

Completely unharmed, promise

Now I know my last post was super long (I had no idea I’d want to write so much about the Melbourne cup) but I wanted to add a little bit about fascinators because I LOVE them!

If you haven’t tried to make a fascinator before I highly recommend it, it’s quite a lot of fun buying all the little bits and bobs (especially if trying to match a dress as I did this year) and you get to play with a hot glue gun, my favourite craft weapon of choice – hot tip, buy a pink one so hubby doesn’t steal it.

2009 Melbourne Cup Fascinator - clearly it didn't go with this years dress so I had no choice but to make a new one

Here is how my fascinator started out:

Little bits everywhere!

I got all the parts from Spotlight and used a scrap of dress fabric to help me choose colours. While I was choosing I played with them in the shop a bit and then some more when I got home to see what was the best layout (they all kind of look the same in the photos, bring on 3D blogging)

Playing

Don’t forget to think about how it will sit on your head and which way the slide comb or clip will attach to your head. Once I am happy with the final layout and orientation I warm up the hot glue gun and get gluing.

Here’s a closer photos of the finished product.

2010 Melbourne Cup Fascinator

I think next year I’m going to have to go BIGGER :)

Here’s some more inspiration gathered from the web:

I am thinking that I might like to make myself one for my wedding.

Speaking of weddings, today I bought all my fabric requirments for my wedding dress. I spent a perfect fabric shopping morning with my wonderful friend S and we drove all over Perth to find exactly all the bits that I needed. It’s hot today, my brain is tried and my feet are killing me so, in the interest of not making a huge mistake, the cutting out begins tomorrow.

*claps hands

Most of this came from Fabulous Fabrics in Balcatta (who have apparently just merged with Fabric Gallery which used to be in Greenwood) except for the corset tape which came from Beautiful Fabrics WA in Innaloo, opposite Ikea, they have some amazing fabric in at the moment so I suggest you pop by and check them out.

I also accidentally bought some other fabric…but it was on special, how can a girl resist?

oops ;)

 

Sewing a foreign language

With my wedding ring crisis averted last Saturday I spent the rest of that weekend working on my Melbourne Cup/Honeymoon dress.

Said dress is #10 from Patrones 289, which means the instructions are in Spanish. I speak English (obviously) and a little Japanese which is so rusty it makes my jaw ache.

Patrones 289 Dress #10

Google Translate is close to useless when it comes to sewing instructions so I though it would be helpful for other sewers who subscribe to magazines in languages they do not speak if I documented my thinking process as I tackle a pattern more or less sans instructions. It differs for different patterns and I’ll sometimes consult instructions from a similar pattern to give me a quick feel for order, then I do some brain sewing before I get started. If I get stuck or am in doubt of the next steps I’ll pin or baste pieces together or place it on my dress dummy Scarlett to get a feel for how the item is shaping up.

This might be a bit epic so be prepared for far too many images and lots of words…feel free to skip ahead ;)

Right, lets begin: You might remember this image from my UFO post.

The pieces were already cut out (it’s the envelope on the far left) from a little while ago. I bought the fabric with the Patrones pattern in mind and I really liked my choice, a printed jersey from Spotlight.

Tangent: For those of you not from NZ/Australia you might no be familiar with Spotlight, it’s a kind of mashed together craft/knitting/sewing/homewares warehouse kind of store at the mid to lower end of the budget. I know a lot of sewers really hate them and wouldn’t be seen dead inside of one but I think they are getting better and they have their place in our sewing world. Recently I even saw the exact same fabric in a Spotlight store that I had only just seen in one of the higher end fabric stores. They sell Gütermann thread and Schmetz needles at good prices, two brands I use without a second thought, and they often have Birch and O-Sew overlocker thread on special. When I got my overlocker I was given 4 cones of (apparently) very high quality thread, the sign said $6.00 per cone retail. I chose black since I was sewing a black dress at the time but I also wanted white so I went to Spotlight and bought some O-Sew thread at $4 per cone. I’ve used both colours equally and never found a knot in the white cheap thread but the black expensive thread has had at least three (and still counting) and two of those were on the needle thread, luckily I saw them (I have high-speed vision apparently) so I guess “you get what you pay for” isn’t always true…and yes, I am aware of the irony that I got the black thread for free ;)

Ok back on track: This fabric however was not really a Spotlight success story, it was a fairly good price but the print was woefully off-grain and you can’t really correct an off-grain print in jersey. It fact it was so bad that I think it’s more plausible to assume it shifted during the printing process, jersey is tricky like that. I barley had enough for the dress but I wasn’t about to be defeated by some cheap fabric so I threw out the cutting layout and spent an entire day trying every which way I could to lay the pattern to not only match up the repeating chevrons but also to keep the important seams looking straight. I think I did a pretty good job and eventually I was ready to cut…then I made the mistake of cutting the back skirt piece on the fold…and it wasn’t supposed to be…I realized halfway though cutting but I was lucky enough to salvage it by moving it across and shrinking the outside edge seam allowances to just under 1cm, never the less it was enough for that weekend and into the envelope the cut pieces went until the other side of winter and here we are…

Ok, let’s get started: First things first, after transferring any markings I sew or baste any pleats, darts or other manipulations that need to happen to each piece before any main assembly, I think of this as the “first shaping” and helps me get my head around which pieces go together and the construction. This dress is pretty basic as far as that’s concerned, no pockets, just a heap of pleats on the front skirt piece and your basic bodice darts front & back. The faux wrap pieces on the front of the dress are attached at the armholes and have lots of  pleats too.

UPDATE: The pattern pieces below are copies of my Patornes pattern sheets, I promise I didn’t cut up the originals, see my explanation here.

Bodice front & back with darts pinned

Skirt front & wrap pieces with pleats pinned

l

Next I assembled the basic dress parts, forgetting about the wrap pieces for now.

I attached the bodice front to the skirt front, the bodice back pieces to each of the skirt back pieces.

Bodice front & skirt front

Then I sew the centre back seam and insert the zipper.

Centre back seam sewn, zipper gets pinned

Now I have the dress front and dress back assembled.

Ready! My zipper colour choice was limited, it was either this dark purple or super hot omg blinding pink, so I went with the purple

There were four front wrap pieces and four tie pieces so I assumed there are two for each side, one as the outer and one as the inner facing.

Attaching the tie to the end of the wrap piece

I attached a tie to each wrap piece then lay the assembled pieces together and stitch the outside seam leaving it open at the armhole curve. Turn and press, baste open armhole edges together.

Inside out completed wrap piece, ready to be sewn, then turned…

Testing, testing & testing – Scarlett plays dress-ups

Next I pinned the wrap pieces to the bodice front and basted in place.

Attaching the wrap pieces

Nerd Moment Alert: after all that pleating – perfect 1.5cm shoulder and side seam allowances still in tact

Now it was ready to pin to the dress back and sew the shoulder and side seams.

Side & shoulder seams

After this step I tried the dress on myself. It looked a bit too big on Scarlett and indeed on me it was a bit too big also, I think the jersey I used had much more stretch than the pattern allowed for. I could also put it on over my head without even undoing the zipper so I ended up taking the zipper out and sewing the center back seam again and taking it in the sides.

I think the armhole and neck openings were supposed to be enclosed in bias strip but I did not have enough fabric so I did a basic seam edge and then hemmed the skirt. I used Scarlett’s hemming attachment for the first time and it was brilliant.

Ready for the big day

I think that’s enough pink fabric photos for one day, I promise more finished dress photos when I upload on the weekend. Photos here :)

Sewing in a foreign language really isn’t all that scary or difficult if you have a basic knowledge of all the main clothing items: dresses, shirts, skirts and pants. Just take your time and look at other similar patterns instructions to help you along.

Ok, I promise, that’s all for today :)

And they’re racing…

On Tuesday work stopped completely for about two and a half hours to watch some horses run around an egg shaped track (you know I thought it was an oval but it’s not?! Clearly I am not a horsey girl) and eat far too much celebratory food.

Here are the horses I pulled from the hat in our office stakes. Once Were Wild led for almost the entire race but fell away in the last 100m. At least this year I actually saw my horse and got to do some yelling at our tiny office TV.

You might remember I mentioned sneaking a bit of extra sewing in during my wedding dress project for this event. All the girls in my office decided to put the boys to shame this year and do some proper dressing up. Fascinators, dresses and heels, the works, I mean why not, when else do you get to wear a fascinator all day without getting strange looks? Personally I think it should be compulsory office attire because it was super fun and we all looked fabulous!

Anyway, here’s a quicky picture of me in my dress, it’s a Patrones pattern and I documented the thinking/construction process so that I could share it with you in the hopes of helping other sewers who, like me, are addicted to pattern magazines in languages other than their own. I promise to share it soon, I just have to magic up so some extra spare time.

Fascinating!

Wedding dress update: I still do not have fabric or shoes but that will all change this weekend, cross your fingers for me. In similar news I just received this fantastic  book on CD by Susan Khalje, it’s called Bridal Couture but it also covers formal evening wear and it is amazing. I learnt a few things just quickly flicking through it during my lunch break and I can see me using this as a resource for years to come.