A bit of Sewing Room progress

I didn’t achieve everything I wanted this weekend but I did un-bury both my machines!

…and powercords, which are also very important!

It doesn’t look like much but it made me feel MUCH better about pretty much EVERYTHING.

Hrmm…we appear to be lacking quite a lot of fabric…

Nerdy husband and I have decided we have to prioritise getting new carpet for all the bedrooms, the current carpet is very old, full of 24 years worth of pet fur and goodness knows what else (despite numerous cleans) and it’s just not healthy for us. We were prepared for this, we knew when we bought the house that the carpet was bad. The exciting pay-off is that the carpet sits on top of beautiful New Zealand Rimu floor boards so the rest of the house will be taken back to this and polished up. Oh my, it’s going to be gorgeous!

This will happen very soon, I just have to organise myself, but until that time I am reluctant to load my room with too many items as I’ll just have to empty it again when the new carpet goes in. I do intend to have enough in there so that I can sew ;) This weekend made me realise that my mood has been slowly descending into gloomy territory. We’ve only been in the house 1 week and I’ve felt a bit lost in general.  I’m just impatient. On Saturday I cooked our first “proper” meal, in my kitchen, roast chicken with all the trimmings, it felt so good. I want my sewing room back the same way and I know it’ll feel just as good when I sit down at my table and push the pedal on my Elna for the first time in aaages.

I have a quick project already lined up to get me back in the swing. It doesn’t sound super exciting because it’s home-dec but I’m excited about it. Here’s the background: Nerdy Husband’s interests also include goldfish and he has a nice large tank that has been in storage for 6 years. We have dusted everything off and bought additional supplies and are now looking forward to getting it all set up in our lounge. The tank also has a pretty naff looking pine table that Nerdy Husband made for it to sit on. It’s OK, even Nerdy Husband concedes the naff-ness of this table and has asked me to make a cover for it. I have left over fabric from this ikea-hack-esque project which will go nicely with the couches and ottoman. I’ve already planned how I’m going to tackle it so I just have to do some measuring (and dig out said fabric) and then I’ll get at it later this week…I may also need a couple of zippers…

Now for something completely different: Would you guys pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top vote for my entry in the Bernina Craftsy DIY Weddings Contest? You just have to click on THIS LINK or on the image below and then click on the heart to “heart” me :)

If you missed my wedding dress journey you can see all the posts HERE

Thanks everyone, you guys are awesome xx

No sewing here…but I did get a feature!

As I am sure you have managed to work out based on this posts title I haven’t been doing any sewing this week.

I have finally found the motivation to work consistently on my CV and portfolio. You see I haven’t been fabric shopping in weeks, WEEKS I tell you, so I need to get out there and find myself a job :)

The sewing has lacked for other reasons too, my main problem at the moment is that out of the 150 boxes of stuff we managed to successfully bring over from Perth the single item* I have discovered missing is the top stitching thread for my Forever Jeans. Argh! A trip to Spotlight in Porirua didn’t help last weekend since that was the one and only color they were out of, typical of my luck, and I just know that as soon as I purchase a new spool my currently-absent-and-almost-full-spool will magically re-appear. So, there will be a trip to the Ngauranga Spotlight this weekend and we shall see if they have the correct coloured thread.

Remember my post extolling the oft-overlooked virtues of Spotlight that I wrote while in Australia? Current experience so far tells me that post is N/A for the Spotlight stores in Wellington. I went to the Ngauranga store for more thread for my Gok Coat last week and the single colour they were out of was that spool as well! And the staff were less than helpful in being able to tell me when the Gutterman rep/stockist was due to visit next. Now before you tell me to just go to another store, I did, but every other fabric store in the city stocks Mettler thread only, which I have no problems using it’s just that I needed that particular colour from Gutterman that I had already started using for top-stitching. Don’t get me started on the buckles and buttons selections either. Perhaps it’s just me and I’ve just had a string (or should that be thread? Hehe) of bad luck visits. Although if there is one thing Spotlight New Zealand have going for them is that they do give you a nice little card that they sign everytime you bring your own shopping bag and after 5 trips you get 20% off 1 item, that’s kind of cool.

Spotlight's 'Bag A Discount' Card

My Gok Coat is fairing much better, I did eventually get thread, in Palmerston North of all places, but I didn’t drive all that was for just thread, I was up there for other reasons and you drive past their huge Spotlight on the way out to the highway, so now I am on my fourth spool of Gutterman colour #512 but that should be the last one. The coat itself is 99.99% completed sewing-wise but 0% complete for buttons and buckles, still no luck there but this weekend I will turn to my old friend the internets and see what it can discover for me.

Then I am at a bit of a loss as to what to make next, I have plenty of ideas it’s just deciding which one to do first!

In other news I got featured on the BurdaStyle sites DIY Wedding article, so exciting, click on the pic below to go check it out :) If you’d like to see more of how I made my dress you can check out my wedding dress posts here.

*excluding the chunky length of dowel that I used to dry my homemade pasta on, which is no biggie, I’ll get another, maybe someone will eventually discover it in the corner of the pantry in Perth where I accidentally left it…

How to sew your own wedding dress

Something sewing has taught me is that if you don’t give it a go, how do you know you can’t do it? That’s probably true of a lot of things in life as well but for me, when I’m sewing, it’s sort of become my new motto. If I haven’t tried something before I arm myself with as much knowledge as I can from books, the internet or other people and then I dive right in.

Actually if we’re being really honest, sometimes I just dive right in without the knowledge and then see what happens ;) It doesn’t always turn out badly. I think a lot of new sewers hamstring themselves by forgetting that simple sentence. They have heard, “zippers are hard” or “setting in sleeves can be really tricky” amongst other sewing myths so they avoid sewing items that require these skills when really what they should be doing is reading up a bit of advice and then just giving it a go.

So my wedding is over, I am Mrs Curious Kiwi, I had a wonderful day and I am really happy that I chose to make my own wedding dress, something I hadn’t done before (obviously) and wasn’t sure I’d be able to do but I gave it a try anyway. Sure there were times when I was pulling my hair out wondering what the heck I was doing. There were a few tears and one tantrum, a lot of stressing and some swear words but I also gained some new sewing revelations and a whole lot of confidence in my abilities.

One of the new sewing skills I came away with and had never tried before attempting it on my wedding dress was boning. Putting boning into a dress was a bit of an enigma to me, surely it was going to be difficult and require a little bit of luck and some sort of sewing magic. I had my first go on my muslin and it was nowhere near as difficult or mysterious as I imagined it to be. Boning is now added to what I call my “Sewing CV”.

There are plenty of other seamstresses who have successfully made their own dresses, they were a huge inspiration and my main motivation and I enjoyed seeing their journeys as much as I enjoyed my own. We all tackled our dresses in different ways to suit our wedding styles, budgets and sewing skills.
The first wedding dress I saw someone make was by sassymulassy on BurdaStyle, I was already engaged at the time and it definitely planted the seed. Since then quite a few more have popped up and they are all amazing feats of sewing skills.
My far my biggest inspiration was following Melissa of Fehr Trade. Her wedding dress journey (and in fact her whole wedding) was a huge motivation for me and you can read about her amazing dress story here.

Some other links I found useful were:

If you are thinking about tackling this scary but rewarding project why don’t you check out their stories for a little bit of courage. My wedding dress posts can be found here and I thought I’d jot down a bit more of my internal thinking below.

(WARNING: This may end up as another epic post, you may want to go grab a cup of tea first and a sandwich)

DISCLAIMER: I’m not going to pretend to be an expert at this since I’ve only made myself one dress (and certainly don’t have any intentions of needing to make a second one, well not for myself anyway) but I thought going through the steps I took to make my dress would help others who are considering doing the same but are maybe not quite over the line yet.

First things first: This project is pretty important, like me, it might be your most important project so far in your sewing life. There are going to be enough problems and hiccups along the way and the last thing you need is problems with your sewing machine/s so if it’s been a while or they aren’t quite running how they should you might want to book them in for a service. I regularly maintain my machines so they were fine but I still gave them both a through clean and an oil as per my machine manuals. Also don’t forget to sew some scraps after freshly oiling it to take away any excess and test it again if you’ve left it sitting for a while, the last thing you want is dirty oil on your pristine white fabric.

Service your machine/s

Next, do a bit of internet research, this can get a bit overwhelming but just gather a few images of dresses and details you like. Then edit and make a folder of your most favourite things.

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If, like me, you aren’t at the point in your sewing life that you can draft an entire wedding dress from scratch, don’t panic, check out all the great patterns available from the major pattern companies and don’t forget the independents too. One pattern might not cut it, you might need to use one as a base and make alterations or combine two patterns or more to create your dream dress. Also don’t forget to look at the formal dress patterns too, some of them would look amazing as a wedding dress in the right fabric.

Vogue 2842

Butterick 5462

McCalls 5321

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Once you are familiar with the patterns that are out there go to a dress shop and try on some wedding dresses. You need to do this, I know from experience that the dresses I had in my head (and millions saved to a flash drive) did not look as good on me as I imagined and instead I ended up going for a dress style that I initially thought I wouldn’t like.

Here are my Wedding Dress (pretend) Shopping tips:

 

  • Start early, especially if you are shopping on the weekend, the shops get really busy fast. I began at 9am and still had to wait inline for about 30 minutes before I could start trying on.
  • Don’t mention to anyone in the shop that you intend to make your own dress, I don’t think they’d really like that.
  • Take at least 2 un-related females with you (they’re more honest – although the girl next to my change room had her brother helping out…weird) and make a fun day out of it, dress shopping in the morning followed by a yummy lunch, you’ll need it, it’s quite hard work!!
  • Don’t look at the price tags, remember you aren’t buying so don’t let those little tags deter you from trying anything on.
  • Start by choosing some dresses that you think you will like (they usually start you with 6) and try them on, eliminate the ones you don’t like as you go and get more if you need too.
  • While you’re getting laced up send your girly minions out to pick a wildcard dress each, something they want to see you in, this is fun and will get you trying on styles you might not have thought of.
  • Keep going until you love what you see in the mirror.
  • Most dress shops aren’t too keen to let you take photos of the dresses because a lot of people do this and then get the dresses made overseas for cheap. You can try asking but if they say no then get them to write down the dress(es) you like and you might be able to Goggle them (although I had no luck with my favourite, the name was too generic) but if you girly minions are clever you might be able to get a few sneaky pictures.

Once you’ve made up your mind stick to it. You will get a lot of suggestions from a lot of different people, don’t let them stray you off the path to your perfect dress.

Everyone’s got an opinion but you don’t have to take every suggestion on board, I know this sounds cheesy but listen to your heart.

Having said that, when it comes to buying your fabric, the ladies at your local fabric shop can be pretty expert at helping you with fabric selections, listen carefully to their advice

Now go back to those pattern websites and look for a pattern or patterns that closely resemble your dream dress and buy it/them in your size.

Simplicity 3878

Lekala 2003

BurdaStyle 7539

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If you are short on time don’t forget you can always buy a downloadable pattern.

If you have never made one before or never make one ever again in your sewing life this is the time you MUST make a toile/muslin.

I started by making my pattern up as per the envelope out of a good weight calico, the kind of weight I imagined my final fabric choice to be made from. If you want to use some fancy fabrics then this is also the time to do a little pre-dress fabric investigation so you know what’s out there and whether you need to buy fabric and notions online.

Once you have your first trail dress finished you can start making any alterations. I hit this using two different methods. For the pleat, corset back & neckline I worked my changes in the calico dress directly and the transferred my changes to the paper pattern pieces. For the internals I altered the paper pieces and created new ones based on the ones I had. You could also combine two or more patterns to create your masterpiece as well. Use whatever methods that suit your skill level and are familiar with. This can take a bit of time and be frustrating but now is the time to learn if what you want to do is achievable.

If you set a budget make sure you allow some contingency for sewing mishaps, or that amazing trims you saw and MUST have but is more than you thought it might be.

Get your shoes sorted so you know if you need to add extra length into the pattern (I added 4cms!).

It sounds obvious but allow yourself plenty of time, you don’t want to be hemming your dress on the morning before the ceremony. Once I chose my pattern I gave myself one month to sew the muslin and one and a half months to make the actual dress. I probably didn’t need nearly that much time but I was generous because I work full-time so that meant my sewing time was limited to evenings and weekends. I work better under a little bit of pressure so I found myself slacking off procrastinating early on and most of my dress got finished in the last few weeks.

Believe in yourself and your sewing abilities because you truly don’t know how much you can achieve until you’ve tried.

Don’t forget to share your amazing dress with me when your done :)

Good luck!

“Photos please!”

That’s about all I’ve heard since I got back from my Honeymoon :)

I’m sorry I’ve made everyone wait so long and I will admit to procrastinating by taking a day to set up the new blog for BSC Perth WA, but if you don’t like that excuse I have a few more: I am terribly jet lagged, my first week back at work was ridiculously busy, I made a Pavlova on Sunday for dinner with friends and there are about 74 kagillion photos to look through :)

So, here it is, the most important project of my sewing life, my wedding dress. You’ve heard enough about the process so to fill in a bit more space with words I’ll tell you a little bit about where I got married.

My fiance and I were married at Wilton House in Wellington’s Otari-Wilton’s Bush.

Otari-Wilton’s Bush is the only public botanic garden in New Zealand dedicated solely to native plants, hence all the amazing ferns in our photos. It comprises of 100 hectares of native bush including Wellington’s largest area of original native forest (7 hectares fenced off by Job Wilton in 1860 and remains untouched to this day) and an 800-year-old Rimu tree.

The gardens are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and entry is free. There are over 14kms of incredible walking tracks you can take throughout the area including the 75-meter long Canopy Walkway, a self-guided Nature Trail and many beautiful picnic areas.

If you happen to find yourself in Wellington then I encourage you to visit and enjoy this amazing garden and all its amazing wildlife.

Back detail

Overall I’m really pleased I took up the challenge of sewing my own wedding dress. I had an amazing day and a wedding I’ll never forget in a dress I’ll  never forget. Wellington didn’t let us down and Otari Wilton’s Bush is a significant part of Wellington’s history and Wilton House was the perfect venue for us.

Here’s a link to our photographers blog, you can read what he had to say about the day.

On a side note I didn’t end up using the petticoat I painstaking gathered because the dress sat better without it.

In the next day or so I’ll be putting together a post on my basic process in the hopes it will help put you over the line if you’re considering making your own dress (or one for someone who it close to you) so watch this space ;)