Lonely Hearts Giselle

When I first finished this dress it was a rainy autumn day in May. I put it on and wasn’t immediately sold.

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Well...I don't hate it...but... #lonelyheartsgiselle

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I had found the final instructions for finishing off the ruffle and waist tie frustratingly lacking and so I wasn’t in the best mood. I told myself to wait a little bit for some sunshine and then try again because this fabric is a little bit special.

In 2013 Arthur Toye, an NZ fabric institution with stores all over the North Island (maybe the South too? I’m not sure) announced suddenly that they were closing down.

Every.

Store.

I was devastated. I’d been buying fabric at ATs for as long as I’d been sewing. They had an amazing selection of fabric at decent prices, all the major pattern brands and notions, and they were in the middle of the city. The staff always took the time to create interesting displays and the store was always tidy. Sometimes I’d just go there in my lunch break to be inspired, pet the fabric and then head back to work. They also had regular amazing sales!

After the Wellington store closed I was heading through Palmerston North with my sister to visit our Dad and we saw that their store was still open. We popped in on our way back and both bought a length of this amazing heart printed Rayon.

If this fabric looks familiar it’s because you’ve seen it before on my blog. In 2014 some of the Wellington Sewing Bloggers teamed up to make Megan Nielsen’s Tania Culottes.

And because Fashionable Younger Sister’s name is Tania we made her join us, even though she lived 650 kilometers away in Auckland:

Mine went into my stash for a bit more “maturing”. I still have a lot of AT fabric in there but one day, and I admit that day is a long way off, I’ll pull out the last piece of Arthur Toye fabric.

That day will be a very sad day.

The StyleArc Giselle dress pattern caught my eye after I Camille shared a similar Realisation dress on her Instagram story.

I decided I needed a fluttery summer dress and the hearts rayon called out from the shelf. That’s how fabric maturation works, you just have to listen carefully 😉

This was my first StyleArc pattern and having already been pre-warned that the instructions were minimal I thought I knew what I was getting myself in for…There was no cutting layout but you guys know by now that I’m totally fine with making that up on my own!

I also had my supervisor at the ready.

The fabric estimate stated I needed 2.5m and I only and 1.7m. It was a tight squeeze but with a bit of piecing I managed to get everything out of my short length.

I don’t remember why I bought such a random length of just 1.7m (2.0 or 2.5m is my usual go to when I’m just stash bulking), I suspect it was the end of the bolt after FYS’s length was cut off.

And then I realised that I hadn’t cut enough binding pieces so all the scraps came out of the bin and I pieced even more bits together!

Despite the short instructions there are some nice details in this pattern. Binding finishes all the raw edges…mostly nicely. I recommend under-stitching before you topstitch this down.

The longest part of this make was finishing the edge of the ruffles. They are so long and it’s a little fiddly.

This was second only to gathering the skirt ruffle. It was an even looooonger pattern piece but with a little patience, I got there in the end. The nice thing about the ruffle is that after it’s sewn on there is no need to hem the skirt, suddenly the dress is finished!

The sour note at the end was the interface between bodice binding, waist seam and waist tie…it’s just not very refined and it was a let down to finish the dress off on such a fiddly and poorly thought out detail.

I ended up fudging it a little and it’s not too bad I guess…

So, after two weeks of waiting for some better weather, I am glad to say that in the end I liked my new dress more. It’s a much lighter and shorter style than I usually wear but it’s very summery and the ruffles are fun.

Winter was very much on its way however so the Lonely Hearts Giselle will be waiting until Summer 2020 for it’s next outing.

I think we’ll go to the beach together!

THE DETAILS:

Pattern – StyleArc Giselle Dress,  variation 1, size 10

No alterations

Fabric – “Vintage” Rayon, 145cm x 1.7m from Arthur Toye Palmerston North, purchased 14 November 2013, $24.95 – 50% off (closing down sale)

I’ll leave you with a fun pic from a weekend sewing session: We have a small sewing group at work and we usually meet once per month to sew in our office staff hub. I’m slowly enlarging the group by teaching anyone who is interested. My current students are Sarah and Sovaia who are both making the Papercut Pattern Ravine Dress. How gorgeous are the colours they chose? They’re both really close to finishing now!

It’s never too late to learn to sew!

The conquering of Levana (not)

On Saturday the 6th July at precisely 07:30am (that’s actually 7:38am) the majority of the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network set off north to invade Levin.

I was driving so thank you to Teresa for getting some pics on the way – wow was it really that dark when we left?!

Kapiti Island – photo by Teresa

We met our forward scout (Juliet) outside our objective.

Our mission: To take and hold the Levana Factory Outlet Store (“Open 1st Saturday of month 9am – 2pm”) and relieve them of as much of their famed merino as our car boots could hold and whatever other goodies took our fancy along the way.

But our carefully planned mission (in the works since February this year) was thwarted!

Due to their building having no power Levana was shut and would instead open the following Saturday, July 13th.

Sabotage!

Me, Juliet, Nikki & Wendy – sad faces!

Desperate phone calls were made, keys got locked in a car, a father came to the rescue, but no merino for us… 😦

Juliet, Teresa, Elisabeth, Johanna, Holly, Emily, Wendy, Nikki, Me

It was a long drive for no spoils but the WSBN are never without a backup plan. We retreated across the road to an op shop to re-group (and giggle at some truly terrible vintage knitting patterns) and then we continued on our way to make our lunch date at Petit Fours in Palmerston North.

Mmm! High tea makes everything ok!

The slice on the middle tier is kumara and maple with cream cheese icing, and at the bottom is a warm savoury, also made with kumara. I don’t like kumara, it’s not like peas for me, I actually avoid kumara. Teresa admitted she could take-it-or-leave-it too but we both agreed that these were delicious!

There were also mini afghan biscuits and lots of cute little sandwiches with yummy fillings, but I know you really just want to see the cupcakes!

(clockwise from top) Sundae, Key Lime Pie, Hershey Kisses, Double chocolate cupcakes!

Kumara savoury and teeny little sandwiches, yummy!

Lot’s of smiles!
Nikki, Wendy, Emily, Elisabeth & Johanna

Juliet and Linda gave our table some impromptu New Zealand Sign Language lessons.

I can now say I am a “sewing nerd” and that I am “married to a rock nerd” 😉

Amongst many others I know the basics like “please” and “thank you”, “yes” and “no”, I know the difference between “hen” and “chicken” (but not “flour” and “sugar”!) and how to say “stuff it, let’s do it!” See below for that one!

“Stuff it, let’s do it!”
Teresa, Linda, Juliet and I practise our NZSL – photo thanks to Nikki

Not much left…

The aftermath…

Oh my!

Pretties!

Then it was off to Arthur Toye where we surprised and entertained their staff for about 2 hours!

Oh yes, that’s right, they total your docket and then halve it!

That’s why we are all smiling so much, earlier disasters long forgotten now!

Also Arthur Toye in Palmy is about 3 times the size of our Wellington store (and their staff are not grumpy)!

My pretties: A lilac stain at top (for a coat lining), pink sparkly knit at the bottom, dark grey suiting with pink pinstripe/dot detail at left (this was a popular choice, I think maybe 3 or 4 of us bought some and at $6 per meter why wouldn’t you?!)…and some faux tiger fur…we’ll get to that in another post sometime soon 😉

I’d already visited Arthur Toye in Wellington the previous week, taking home a lush midnight blue velvet, some fuchsia ponte and a pretty blue wool so that is why my takings may seem a little restrained.

And then Juliet let us in on her little secret vintage pattern source, which shall remain secret…look at these girls go!

Like vintage patterns much?!

I ended up with two $1.00 bundles of snaps and hook/eyes, yay

And, well, that’s it! We stumbled back to our cars, divided up our spoils and set off back south to Wellington and dinner, and home 😉

I arrived at my doorstep exhausted but despite the initial disasters I simply had the best day. So much giggling, fabric stroking (and buying), pattern digging, and the delicious high tea.

Sure, we didn’t get to enjoy Levana (the whole reason for our 1.5 hour drive) but in the end it didn’t matter…and there is always next month! 😀

Thank you to my partners in crime: Amanda, EmilyElisabethHollyJohannaJuliet, LindaNikkiTeresa and Wendy for an amazing day! xx

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Fabric shopping > cleaning

Just a quick post to say I’m still here, I’ve just been recovering because last weekend was MOVE DAY! Yay! Finally!

Originally it took just the two of us 5 truck loads and two days to move everything into storage but with the help of some awesome family members (Mechanical Bother-in-Law and Father-Who-Didn’t-Lift-Anything-Heavy-If-His-Wife-Asks) we managed to move everything out on Saturday in just 3 truck loads, phew!

Nerdy Husband and Mechanical Brother-in-Law seemed dismayed at the number of boxes labelled “Mel’s Room (Sewing)” or “Fabric” but Father-Who-Didn’t-Lift-Anything-Heavy-If-His-Wife-Asks knows his daughter well and just smiled.

I know you guys will understand 😉

I love our new house but unfortunately I haven’t had much time to enjoy it yet. Despite the previous owners paying a cleaner for the morning I still ended up spending most of the weekend cleaning the kitchen before I ran out of energy. So I have no future-sewing-room photos for you just yet. The problem is that my room is currently serving as wardrobe, dressing room and linen cupboard until I get a chance to thoroughly clean them too. There is only one word to describe their current state: feral.

The plan this weekend is more cleaning (sarcastic yay) so that I can get our clothing, linen and towels out of future-sewing-room. Then I can re-assemble my sewing table and shelves, which all had to be pulled apart to get them down the tiny hallway of our rental house, and then the fun really begins!

I better hurry up because my fabric shelves just got some new additions…

Excuse the wobbly cell phone photo – hands were full of fabric

50% off at Arthur Toye? Well if you insist… 😉

Green & white cotton/spandex for an experiment to recreate my favourite (and almost falling apart) workout top and 2 x 100% viscose prints

Some sort of knit with sparkly stripe, some suiting and a lace – because I really want to make a lace overlay dress! Possibly to combine with the suiting fabric beside it as a more work-appropriate version (?)

Lace detail

I am looking forward to sharing photos of my room with you as I set it up so watch this space next week when, hopefully, normal service resumes…

I’ve been bad…

I accidentally went fabric shopping yesterday:

 No…

…actually that is a shameless lie…

I went out at lunchtime yesterday specifically to check out Arthur Toye‘s 50% off everything (EVERYTHING!) fabric sale and spent a bit more than I intended to.

I would have spent even more if it weren’t for the fact that I only get 30 minutes for lunch.

But aren’t they so pretty?!

 Still, when they halve the total at the checkout you can’t complain right?

Accidental Fabric Shopping Wednesday

I had a headache all day at work yesterday, you know the kind that continues to over stay its welcome even after your second set of panadol for the morning? Yeah, one of those. So by lunchtime I was dying to get out for some fresh air and Wellington put on a beautiful day hinting at an amazing soon-to-arrive summer.

There are two things I absolutely love about the lead up to summer in Wellington. Firstly we get days like yesterday, secondly (and most importantly) all the winter fabric goes on special 😉

So I only intended to wander down to the end of Lambton Quay and back but before I knew it I was standing outside Arthur Toye and their ‘5 – 50% off sale’ sign.

Well, when you’ve made it that far you may as well go the rest of the distance and here’s what I took back to the office.

Oops

This wool stripe (80% wool/20% polyester) is warm but light weight and will be perfect for another Esther or similar to see me to the end of spring.

I’ve been thinking of making another JJ blouse and this 100% cotton will be perfect, blue and pink is such a sweet colour combination!

Curious Husband recently suggested that I take a good look at the items I’ve made that I love to wear often and recreate new versions of those. I hardly ever make more than one of any pattern, JJ, Kasia and Jenny are probably the only exceptions, yet I often think after finishing a successful item that I would like to re-make it. Sometimes you don’t know until you’ve had to live with it for a few months, do you?

So if I had to pick a top 3, items that I LOVE and wear over and over they would be:

  • My JJboth of them actually, the fit of this pattern is amazing and with or without the ruffles it’s a great blouse pattern…and it’s free, go get it!
  • My Jenny skirt – this one usually, this one less often, I think because the first one is more neutral and goes with everything, it also fits really well and I think it’s quite flattering.
  • My Stitches Asymmetrical Folds Skirt always attracts a compliment and the a-line shape makes it comfy to sit in all day long. I can wear it with boots and tights or heeled sandals in warmer weather.

So that’s a pretty good list to start with and these items that I am familiar with and can probably make pretty quickly while tackling the longer term projects.

So curious readers, tell me, what are your top three patterns that you make over and over again, why do you like them so much?

There will be a post involving sewing this weekend, promise…