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)


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


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.


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.

Bunnies, horses and taking deep breaths

My week and weekend of wedding dress sewing were not as productive as I thought they would be so that’s why this post is going to be fairly short on the sewing and lacking exciting photos. I did have a wonderful Saturday with the girls from the BSC but that meant I didn’t make it to the fabric shop to buy my boning for the next stage.

Instead I turned into a little stress bunny, all silly panicking and then I started counting down weekends etc. Let’s just say I didn’t have a good week with dramas happening all over the place, it threw me off my careful planning, but we survive and move on. Calm has returned and my sewing room is super neat and tidy (that always settles me down for some reason).

Not many of the shops open on a Sunday here in Perth, including the fabric shops, which as you can imagine is super overwhelmingly frustrating. So I spent Sunday cleaning house for a Tuesday flat inspection and then with the small amount of time and energy I had left I turned to the inner lining of my dress. This lining will have the boning sewn to it. The unaltered pattern only has boning in the upper bodice, 6 pieces measuring about 180mm long (just over 7 inches for the non-metrics out there). It’s too short I think. Most of the dresses I tried on at the shop were boned to just above of my hips, short enough to still allow me to sit down and they felt great on. I want to recreate this feeling of being embraced by the dress, its confidence boosting, I felt so slim and also, once cinched in, that dress wasn’t going anywhere! So I have cut the upper bodice as per the pattern and I am lengthening it by attaching a portion of the skirt too. I’m not sure how it will go but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work so I am charging ahead with a lunch time dash to the fabric shop for the boning and over the next one or two nights I will piece this all together and test it out. Hopefully it is successful and I will share some more interesting photos.

If all goes well the plan for the rest of the week is to work on the back of the dress (I’m not jinxing it so don’t ask for details yet) so that by this weekend I can buy all the fabric and anything else I need. Whatever I manage to get done after that is still ahead of schedule and I am hoping to take a break from it all on the weekend of the 29th/30th since Melbourne Cup is November 2nd and I need a new dress and fascinator to match. It will be a quicky (in a good way) since the pattern pieces are already cut and ready to go, I even have the zipper and thread.

For those of you not familiar with “The Melbourne Cup” basically once a year the whole country stops to watch a bunch of horseys run around an oval of grass for about 3 and a half minutes. There is lots of cheering and much money changing hands. It also means dressing up, proper fancy dressing up, fascinators and bubbly so no complaints here.

This new dress is also disguised as “new dress for wearing out while on honeymoon and to pre/post wedding dinners” if curious fiancé should ask. This is a perfectly acceptable excuse since I don’t have any proper formal dresses. I was a skirt and top girl until I started seriously sewing for myself. Isn’t it funny, little fashion retard that I am, I am much braver with fashion when I am sewing for myself?