Hello 2012!

Considering January is almost over I should really do the “reflect back on my 2011 sewing year” thing. I posted 2010’s round up late on Feb 1st 2011 so why break with tradition? ;)

By the way, it’s not my calendar that reminds me it’s almost February, it’s Nerdy Husband as he begins to count down the sleeps until his birthday.

Lots of the blogs I follow have done a 2011 roundup and I’ve really enjoyed reading them all (especially the newly discovered blogs). Even if you don’t blog it’s actually a really good idea to look back at your sewing year. I find it really positive because it’s easy to forget all the things you’ve achieved over the last 12 months. Reflecting on your newest skills and older projects can be inspirational for your future sewing.

Farewell 2011:

 My main “resolution” for 2011 was to just sew and blog more.

I wrote 87 posts last year compared to 53 in 2010, but then I only started blogging in May of that year so that was an easy win.

The funky little email WordPress sent me at the start of the year said, “The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed 70, 000 times in 2011. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it”…well that is one way to look at it I guess!!

Most of my visitors were from The United States, with Australia and Germany not far behind.

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As for more sewing, that was not so successful. You might remember my life was seriously interrupted so the number of items I made was definitely less than last year. You can check out the count on my Wardrobe page (2009 was still my most productive full year of sewing) but here’s a fun little thumbnail shot of 2011’s creations.

So what about the rest of my resolutions?:

Drafting my own pattern – Check! The 1930s Dress (yes I know, still no finished photos yet…) showed me I can do that and I enjoyed the technical challenge. I have since explored more of my sewing books that I own and found a couple of other techniques I’d like to try.

Increasing my fabric knowledge – Check! Despite only containing two finished entries the fabric book is alive and kicking. I have added two other entries that are just pencilled in for now and awaiting beautification. I have been exceptionally good at writing down the fabrics that I buy at the checkout so that when I pull them out of my stash later on I know exactly what they are.

Eating into the stash – Check! I did do a little of this (evidence 1, 23!) but I also added to my stash, not that I ever promised not to ;)

Sewing for Mr Kiwi – Fail! I promised my Nerdy Husband some me-made items which didn’t eventuate. He has gotten a bit more specific about what he wants me to make him this year which helps and I have started investigating patterns for this request. I might even be able to drag him to the fabric store to choose the material.

Lastly, I said I wanted to learn to love my body and I have to say while I am not yet 100% there I have definitely made a better effort to learn which silhouettes and colours will look best for my body type/complexion and my fabric and pattern purchases of 2010 have definitely reflected this. I also joined the gym just for added good measure and it’s amazing the mental lift that can give you. My next step is to make one of those mini-me croquis that have been popping up on some of the blogs I follow. They are excellent for re-drawing the envelope pattern line art on a more realistic figure, yours! So in the next weekend or so I’ll be doing some fun posing and creating my own personal croquis.

So, wrapping up the 2011 blogging:

My favourite Blog Post – The (Belated) Birthday Dress – I think I liked this one the most due to the photography location. It was quite fun to visit somewhere specifically to photograph a new item (and a special one at that) and it inspired me to make more of an effort to get photos done in different locations around Wellington/New Zealand. I haven’t yet but I’ll get there. I also posted this on the day I received my most hits, 512 on October 21st, thanks to a lot of help from Peter at Male Pattern Boldness after I mentioned my mothers Cub clone on his site and received my now infamous mention in his next post ;)

Most popular blog post/ Favourite project/Most Popular Project - In 2010 I did these three categories separately but for 2011 they are dominated by one project, My Wedding Dress.

My How To Sew Your Own Wedding Dress post was the most visited in 2011 and I regularly see that as an exact search term popping up in my stats counter. It’s much more researched than I thought it would be and it’s awesome how many other talented girls are taking on the challenge!

Of course it is also my favourite project, there is nothing else that can top it really. It was by far the biggest and most rewarding project and ended up being a huge boost to my sewing confidence.

While most of the sewing happened in 2010 I did technically finish hemming it in early January 2011.

My second favourite project was the BurdaStyle Book Blouse which I completed in a weekend and sent off all the way to America for the big photoshoot.

In terms of BurdaStyle project hits “A Wedding in Wellington” received 1262 views and second place goes to the NSFW Dress that almost killed me with 793 views.  It’s another of my favourite projects, completed while I was living in Perth and it ended up being one of those “ah ha!” moments when I learnt that if I stick with it through all the difficulties it throws at me and nut out the solutions (instead of throwing it in the corner and giving up) then I get a pretty awesome reward…it was good lesson and has probably helped my with the next category…

Current UFO Count - Hrmm, let’s see, in 2010 it was six…How about 2011? I’m not counting items that are cut and about to be sewn (because I always have at least two of those on my table) or the Gok Coat because it did technically get finished. There’s my jeans of course and a couple of others that I’ve put aside for the longer term (mentally counting in my head)…four! It’s ok if you don’t believe me ;) All four are from 2010 so I guess I managed to finish two which isn’t bad and there are no new ones, yay!

Biggest Sewing Fail – No major fails for 2011 that are worth mentioning, yay!

Best New Sewing Item - Isn’t new at all, well, she is to me, of course it’s my beautiful Singer!

Hello 2012:

Ok, so how about some goals for this year? I guess you could call them “resolutions” if you must.

Better garment pressing during construction – We’ve talked about this already and now I have some fancy new tools to help me  :)

Finally finish the Forever (and ever) jeans – this Winter

Rescue the Gok Coat of Doom – also this Winter

Make my 2012 birthday dress – on time this time, so I should start in May

Keep filling in my fabric book

No more blouses – (ok, maybe one more JJ…just kidding!) I rely on the trusty blouse too often and I need to expand my wardrobe toinclude a top selections other than just

 

Make some pants – As I have previously threatened.

Learn to do an FBA and use it to adjust my future patterns – I wear a D cup and since most sewing patterns are drafted for a B I have pretty much been relying on luck so far for fit. I know that my tops and dresses would fit better and my blouses wouldn’t do that peek-a-boo bra show between the buttons (solved, lazily, with a snap for now) if I could achieve the correct bust fit.

Give up on trying to sew basics, just buy these and have fun sewing the rest – I have an un-written goal of not really buying any rtw clothing (shoes and underwear excluded) and I once lamented about my lack of “basics” to match in with my colourful fabric choices so for the last two years I have endeavoured to sew more basics but I find it so BORING! And hence I have pretty much sewed zero basics. There is no use fighting it: I am simply incapable of buying plain coloured fabrics and then using them. So, new strategy: I will buy those rtw basics, the blacks, browns, greys, whites etc, to match in with my colourful sewing tendencies. Problem solved.

Clean out my wardrobe – I have stitched many really nice clothes, but they get lost in the jumble of bad rtw clothes I own. I know this, and still I stand at my closet uttering the phrase we all know, “I have nothing to wear!” So, in order to see the trees from the forest it’s time to be brutal. Then I can really see the holes in my wardrobe and sew accordingly. I don’t think I’ll be documenting this for you guys, there are some pretty awful items in my closet.

Get my new toy working – I’m talking about the Singer of course, oh and give her a name, when inspiration strikes. This may not happen for 2012 and it is looking like the most economical solution might be to acquire another half-working machine and swapping out the broken bits but I’ll keep you posted.

Take photos of my finished items!! – I currently have 3 items waiting to be photographed: the 1930s dress, my last JJ and the skirt I finished last weekend. I have to stop letting them pile up like that. I used to love dressing up straight away and photographing my items, I’m not sure what happened to that enthusiasm. Actually I kind of do, my new house is tiny and we have nowhere for me to photograph them apart from the balcony, where everyone in our street can see me. I’d love to take photos of more items “in action” out and about when appropriate.

Ok, enough of that – I can’t type and sew at the same time ;)

Manequim 629 (November 2011)

I have to confess, despite the best intentions, I haven’t gotten very much sewing done these holidays, or blogging. This was my last week off work before I go back (yes, I got an extra week, not my idea, I think the boss secretly wanted an extra week so we all got given one. It has been fun reading all my friends Facebook status updates about struggling through the first week back…but that will be me on Monday).

I managed to finish my JJ (yet to be photographed along with the 1930s dress, I know, I know), had a brief go at my forever (and ever) jeans and cut out this skirt (view A).

I did make it to the January Fabric Hoarders Meet, see?

Evidence & plenty of room for more friends - you should join us!

Despite the weather looking like this:

My sewing room also gained two new friends, courtesy of my Mum who took over all my indoor plants when I moved overseas. These two are “babies” she took off the ones that are growing a bit too large.

I promise the Zygo is actually alive, it has two teeny tiny pink nubbins that you might not be able to spot in the photo but they are there.

I also finally upgraded myself to an Android phone, (Thank you Santa! xx) so now I am an annoying droid-nerd, and the first App I downloaded (after Angry Birds & Cut the Rope – love you Om Nom!) was Evernote for Android.

So then I spent a bit of time tidying up my Evernote database to make it more useable when I am both purposefully fabric shopping and also when I am surprise fabric shopping.

If you haven’t read my super epically nerdy love post about Evernote yet you can find it here.

Here is what the Android app looks like (I am guessing the iPhone app is similar):

You swipe sideways to see each image or text block in the “note”:

(click to enlarge)

Basically I added in more pattern info (line drawing, fabric allowances, notions etc…) which wasn’t difficult. Using the Evernote programme on my PC I dragged it all off the pattern company websites, easy peasy, sync it up, and all within hand when I find that PERFECT bolt of fabric and need to know how much to buy, plus zipper, I always forget the zipper!

Incidentally I also keep a Pattern Wishlist Notebook, so that when the amazing BMW or sewingpatterns.com sale comes up I am ready to pounce.

I have been working on two pretty cool sewing related items with the help of Nerdy Husband, it’s not difficult to convince him to help me when it involves power tools. I’m quite proud of our result but when I show it off I also want to include the pattern. Unfortunately AutoCAD and Windows 7 are currently having a big glitch fight, so I’ll have to knock their heads together and sort them out, but for now, here is a sneak peak:

So instead of sewing I enjoyed quite a bit of extra napping and reading, which has been great – 2011 was a big year for Hubby and I: We got married (just celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary btw, yay us), honeymooned, quit two perfectly good jobs, moved our entire life back across the Tasman Sea, said goodbye to far too many amazing friends, found new jobs each and basically tried to settle back into life making new friends and catching up with our families. Couple that with a few family health crises and it’s no wonder it’s all just caught up with me!

OK, enough of that, here is Manequim 629, yes it did finally arrive, out of order but fabulous as always just the same:

The first time I saw a blouse with knickers attached was in a La Mia Boutique magazine. I made that blouse but left of the knickers (knickers? I guess it is more of a mini-jumpsuit, no?) and made just the blouse part but I can see the benefits when wearing it tucked in to a pencil skirt. I was just concerned about getting the torso length correct, being my first LMB pattern ever I could see it ending up quite uncomfortable (as it was the arms we so tight I had to alter the button holes to button loops). Have you ever made or purchased a top that is more like a mini jumpsuit like this pattern 438 above?

The pink dress has an interesting back with pleat detail, I’m really not sure how it works, There are gaps at the back of the neck but I am guessing there are joins at the shoulder which the model’s hair conveniently covers up.

I also like the blue top, another interesting back detail, the pants fit is pretty terrible, I think she’s standing like that hoping we won’t notice.

Halston is our fashion house for this month and I think they’ve done a good job capturing the style, very draped and Grecian but for all the pretty styles we only get three patterns. The long black dress, the gold top/tunic/dress and the blue draped top. I really like the gold tunic even though I am 90% sure it wouldn’t suit me, the different styling make it look really versatile.

I think these two above are in the section called “Devastate the Party” (love Google translate), my favourite is this gown (excusing the zipper) and my elusive bow blouse is finally patterned, yay.

In “Mix of Colours” I love the blue and black combination (pink belt!) of this dress but not the one-shouldered half sleeve thing, Burda tried to do it in the last issue I received in my subscription but I’m not a fan. The coral dress I completely missed on my first look through, it wasn’t until I saw the front on image in the back that I re-scanned it because the lines and details are really nice.

And just in case you were worried there is a jumpsuit in this issue ;) and a few celebrity styles to copy, the only people I recognised were Drew Barrymore, Pippa Middleton and Katie Holmes,  I’m not a Katie fan but the top is cute.

Next month looks good, lots of colour, love the look of that dress and black/white top in the Céline section.

I have Patrones 310 & 311 to share with you next so stay tuned :)

Patrones 309 (October 2011)

In absolute contrast to Manequim, Patrones (and Spain) is rolling into winter fashion:

I’m excited about summer, my first back home in NZ, but I am doing my best to concentrate on styles for when winter returns (all too quickly), starting with two long coats. I don’t know where I’m going find a long enough double zipper but if I start the hunt now I just might be able to locate one by June 2012. The asymmetry of #14 is not normally something I’d go for but isn’t that part of the fun of sewing your own clothes? Also: GIGANTIC snaps, yay.

Pretty tops and loving the lines of the blazer #13 (I’ve mucked up the line drawings, they should be the other way around!) I really like Patrones for the fact that they give you an entire look and always multi-sized.

I made a shirt dress a little while ago and love it, I’ve always wanted to make another but not from the same pattern and this one is perfect, I just copied the pattern so it’s going right up the list! I like the line drawing for the vest but not the choice of stone wash denim…I’m intend to make this vest soon (view C most likely) I’ve never owned a vest before but I suddenly feel like I need one.

Another vest and what is going on with those pants?! There are no words to describe them. Dandy? No, just no. I don’t mind the leather detailing on the skirt and jacket, it’s a bit biker chic.

The “Want it to Rain” section has a possible option for the next Gok coat, a rain poncho and we aren’t finished with the wtf? patterns just yet…if you view the image larger you will see that what looks like a black garbage bag is also finely perforated, so not particularly waterproof.

Some cute skirts to finish: #33 is my favourite with a high wide waist band and long darts. Not so sure about the paperbag-waist-meets-indiana-jones #34, but #37 has beautifully flattering seaming and lastly a nice draped faux wrap for #38.

Next month is the Winter Special with Christmas party fashions (glow and cleavage?? Ah Google Translate, you make me smile!), LBDs and a special night gala fashion plus size section.

Manequim 630 (November 2011)

Manequim 630 showed up last week, not sure what happened to issue 629…but it wouldn’t be the first time they have arrived out of sequence. Hopefully it shows up soon or I’ll have to write them an email, the Manequim distributors are really good actually, they might be slow to respond (most likely due to language and time conversions) but I have no complaints.

So, what is 629 supposed to have inside it?

Ohh party dresses!

The great thing about Manequim is that Brazil’s seasons are more or less in line with ours down here in the Southern Hemisphere. So the current issues coupled with Wellington’s fantastic start to what is meant to be a terrific long summer has me quite excited! :D

We begin with the style of actress Adriana Birolli. The polka dot top is deceptively simple but buttons up at the back, I am a big fan of a boatneck, it’s really flattering for me, it’s also multi-sized (38/42/46/50). The pleated skirt is great too (another multi-sized pattern) and guess what? Another jumper ;) but this one is short and fun, very beachy, in my size (42), I quite like it.

Apparently prints are big this season (aren’t they always?) and this section gives us lots of prints and long slimming silhouettes. Love the key hole knotted halter and the partially sheer top, the dress is pretty simple but how amazing in that print? Will be keeping my eyes open for something similar. must. have.

This months issue is also super colourful and I almost scanned this entire “easy fashion” section, lots of simple lines in vibrant colour. The pink and red bicolour dress would be very slimming. I thought the blue dress was long with a fold all around to create that detail but looking more closely at the instructions I think its maybe just a tunic top over a separate skirt…

I wish they included the pattern for the orange top but I’m sure there is a similar pattern in a past magazine, winding up with two more easy tops.

Next month is PARTY month, yay, I am looking forward to lots of beautiful dresses and a fabulous plus section.

Patrones 307 & 308 (August & September 2011)

It’s catch up time again, for Patrones, please excuse the lack of words, starting with issue 307:

I’ve been a bit less enthusiastic about Patrones lately, I think it’s just been a little bit too casual and since I am back working full-time my eye is drawn more to work-appropriate patterns but there are still some great items.

Actually this dress (#11) would be great for work, the collar makes me think of a tuxedo and would look really nice in shiny black as a contrast.

And here is a full suit outfit complete with blouse – I like the pleated insert panel, adds a nice touch to a simple item.

Capes are everywhere here, or they were, now summer is slowly eradicating them along with the heavy coats, but I kind of want one…

A couple of flirty romantic dresses, I really like #27 even thought an empire line with pleats usually makes me look pregnant, maybe in a super light-weight fabric it would hang more flat.

…and some cute kiddies to finish off

Issue 308 is the Autumn Special:

A nice classic dress

The white skirt has some interesting pleating. I don’t know why, maybe it’s just me, but this model is looking really evil and what is with those glasses?! But I do really like the long vest/jacket, I need one of those.

Love the pleating and collar of this blue top (#20)

And this one is pretty fab too, Jacquie made an amazing version of this top and shares how she tackled the collar, you should got take a look.

Next month (or this month, when it finally arrives) is moving towards winter (but looking out the window today summer is settling in quite nicely), we have masculine winter trends, print dresses, a selection of skirts and chic coats for everyone.

Manequim 627 & 628 (September & October 2011)

Ahhhh slowly catching up…apologies that these images aren’t my usual quality, the scanner I am using is good at making copies of several pages but when I try to open them up in Photoshop for editing they are all cropped @ 19cm square.  I like to think I’m pretty good with image editing software and I know my fair share of tricks but after playing with these images on and off for two weeks (because I refuse to re-scan them again) I am stumped. So, here they are anyway ;)

Starting with Manequim 627:

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I really love the cover skirt, the side panelling is really nice, I think it would look amazing in black and white. And the yellow dress with knot/twist detail is something I’ve wanted to try for a white…not sure how I’ll get along with no English instructions for this one but they do have a nice diagram in the instructions.

I feel like the designer patterns section has gotten smaller these last few issues. There are as many looks as before, but les patterns. This month is Balenciaga and we get a really cute sheer top and shift dress.

In the “Day-to-Day” section there is a nice sporty skirt and funky 60s mod dress…and a jump suit…is it just me or is Manequim just a little obsessed with jumpsuits right now?

“Dresses of the Decades” is my favourite section this month, probably because I have been so busy researching the 1930s.

Yup! Definitely obsessed with jumpsuits…what is going on with that poor woman’s crotch? I’m not sure if the fly just finishes too high or if the crotch really is that low…cute top next door, love that sleeve.

Ok, let’s do another one shall we? Manequim 628:

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I thought this romantic skirt was a dress at first, maybe the original one is, but it wouldn’t take much to whip up a matching top. I’ve never tried a serious bit of pleating before, I saw that episode of Project Runway where one of the designers used a pleating board, they are very expensive but there are a few tutorials online of how to make your own.

Ok, I have to admit I am running out of words…this skirt panelling is fabulous and I like the wrap top detail. I need to find some spotty sheer fabric!

Aaaand more jump suits to finish! I’ll get the last two Patrones up soon because my next Manequim issue is waiting at the post office for me to pick up. Shall we take a guess at how many jump suits are in that issue? ;) I’ll guess two, any advance on two? ;)

Manequim 626 (August 2011)

Yes, that says August up there in the subject line, I am waaaay behind with my Manequim and Patrones posts, I know. The problem is that my new computer, which is AMAZING (so much so that it requires capitalisation) required a new printer driver compatible with Windows 7. This new printer driver however is not so amazing and we don’t get along…but don’t worry about me, I struggle along ;)

A brief update on the Gok Coat: Thank you for all your super helpful comments and suggestions, it was great to receive so much honest constructive criticism. I think what I have decided after reading them all and thinking about it is that maybe it’s no so bad and how it feels is quite different to how it looks, Sarah’s comment hit it right on the head, the shape feels too masculine on me.

It  does need work though and all the effort I put in is definitely worth saving. So I have removed the sleeves and done some pinning on Scarlett and I think the shape and fit can be corrected to a point I will be happy with and I can make it wearable. …but not until next winter…all that unpicking you remember… So I will share it again with much better photos in about 6 months time. Then I will learn from my mistakes and the construction (which I did enjoy) and make a new version next winter from a different pattern and perhaps in a colour that is more me, with some pop.

You can never have enough coats in Wellington! ;)

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Ok, let’s take a look at the Manequim magazine from…*gasp*…3 months ago…hey who invited November to this party?

There is a lot of exciting stuff in this issue and since it is Friday and I have run out of words for the week (after using up all of them at work) I’ll mostly let the pictures speak for themselves:

We begin with a heap of shirt patterns that didn’t really grab me but I like these dresses in the celebrity style section, more the yellow one (but not for the colour, mustard doesn’t suit me) but the pleats are really nice.

After the success of Blusa 158 I am liking this top above as another potential quick wardrobe addition – and we all need to have at least one sequined pencil skirt. Pattern not included for that one, but if you do want one check out the BurdaStyle Jenny offering, $7.50 for a dress variation as well.

And two more, plus metallic houndstooth pencil skirt.

Lace dresses are everywhere right now aren’t they?

What the heck is going on with those pants?! I’m sorry Manequim, but the full-nappy look is not ever going to be in fashion…

I always love the mulit-look section, this month we get a really nice blazer, not sure if the scan shows it but it has ruffles in the back and you guys know how much I love ruffles. Blusa 361 is looking good with pants or a skirt, kind of 30s looking with the long green skirt no?

Leather pencil skirt, loving that too and the tie front blouse, also EVERYWHERE right now, the fabric is delicious as well.

This month we also get an amazing plus section modelled by the absolutely gorgeous Fabiana Karla who is a Brazilian actress & comedian. I think the range of patterns (sizes 46 – 60) are great plus the skirt (399) and bermudas (340) are multi-sized. Fabiana looks fabulous in all of them.

Well that’s it for now, I have an exciting new mega-project to share with you next, just doing a little bit more internet research and then I will post…plus there are two more issues of Manequim and two Patrones still to catch up on!