Thursday, 30 October 2014

Fabric Pop Up Store (Warning - fabric stash enabling post!)

Earlier this week I received an email from a reader asking if I could publicise her pop up fabric blog store here on my blog. I don't often do this sort of thing, but after looking at the beautiful fabrics over Designer Fabrics Australia at I decided that I just had to share the link.

It turns out that the blog owner, Liz, is a fellow fabric hoarder who has amassed a huge amount of very beautiful and designer fabrics on her travels around the world, including from Paris and the New York fashion district. Unlike myself though, she has acknowledged that she has too much fabric and will probably never have the time to sew them up. So very smartly she has decided to refine her stash and make them available to us fellow fabricholics (provided you're in Australia though).

There is quite a range of different colours and fabric types, in various lengths and some designer and some not. These are all one off pieces, so when the fabric is gone, it's gone. And postage is via Australia Post envelopes so it's quite reasonable (cheaper than buying these fabrics from New York I'd say).

Even if you're not in the market to buy some fabric I can recommend having a sticky beak because Liz has posted some lovely inspiration pictures to go with the fabrics which are interesting enough on their own.

I haven't bought anything yet, but am seriously considering the length of Marc Jacobs exotic birds silk crepe de chine - it's not my usual style but it's very cute. Plus Spotlight is currently having a $5 Vogue pattern sale at the moment which means I could pick up the perfect pattern to go with it too!

Photo from Designer Fabrics Australia

Apologies to everyone's wallets and stashes in advance, but I thought that some of you might like to know!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

July Burda of the Month: 7/2014 #114 Sporty top for the non sporty type

Powering on with my catch up of Burda of the month projects, I made a quick knit top from the July issue. Admittedly I did trace this pattern out a few months ago, but as we all know actually getting started is what takes the most time sometimes!

Similar to the June issue, not much in this issue caught my eye but I always seem to be in need of short sleeved tops in summer, especially those that are little bit different from the standard tee:

Burda_7_2014_#114_vneck_raglan_top

I made the contrast v-neck raglan tee 7/2014 #114:

Burda_7_2014_#114_vneck_raglan_top

Burda has styled this pattern as a sporty look and I did see that Allison C recently made this pattern in a funky black and purple for gymwear. Unfortunately the closest I get to sporty is tying my hair up in a pony tail - I don't even own a pair of exercise shoes! But this top goes well with a pair of shorts I made last year for hanging out barefoot around the house on a lazy Sunday afternoon:

Burda_7_2014_#114_vneck_raglan_top

Burda rates this as an intermediate skill level pattern which I'd agree with. It's essentially a raglan tee which is simple to construct, but getting that bottom point of the v shaped band at the front was really difficult. I re-did it several times before it got close to being acceptable, and whilst I'm calling this top done there is still a little bit of bulging there at the point:

Burda_7_2014_#114_vneck_raglan_top

This could be due to the difference in stiffness between the solid fabric (a thick ponte knit) and the stripe fabric (a thinner ponte knit), but is probably just the way I sewed it. In her review Allison mentions that the instrucitons are really good to get a nice finish on that point, but I have to admit to not reading the instructions - the magazine is in storage somewhere with the rest of my sewing stuff so I had to wing it. Lesson learnt - one should at least glance at the instructions before sewing, even if they are Burda instructions!

Because I used a striped fabric I decided to cut the back on a fold rather than have a centre back seam to save on stripe matching. Of course this means that I have a lot of fabric pooling in my sway back which sewing that centre back seam would have resolved, but I realised that all of my RTW tshirts do the same so I'm not bothered by it:

Burda_7_2014_#114_vneck_raglan_top

Burda_7_2014_#114_vneck_raglan_top

I didn't find this too low at the front which Allison mentioned in her review and which also seems to be the case in this version made by an attractive Russian sewist over at the Russian Burda Style site, but looking at these photos my band seems extraordinarily large, particularly there at the front. Maybe it was a case of dodgy tracing on my behalf but it seems to have avoided that problem for me at least.

Overall I don't mind this pattern at all, and will make it again if I can find two complementary fabrics - I'm hopeless at colour and print matching. If I make this again I will read the instructions to do that centre v neck point a bit better, and would also cut the v neck of the band on a fold rather than have a centre front seam there - I couldn't see the purpose of it at all. I would also use a softer knit than a ponte knit, because the band is doubled it gets quite thick and didn't press well at all so I had to topstitch around the edge of the band to get it to sit flat.

And now onto my next project - I feel a dress coming on, since it's been a while that I've made a dress and now that it's spring I definitely need something cute and comfortable to wear.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

June Burda of the Month: 6/2014 #123 - the not so cheeky shorts

June Burda issue - am I glad to see the back of you! Nothing in particular caught my attention in the June issue, and I was having a real mental block in trying to visualise something to make for my Burda of the month challenge. Honestly, if I wasn't making myself do one from each issue this one would have been put on the bookshelf and forgotten about. But it's not you Burda, it's me! I've come to realise how incredibly difficult it must be for the Burda designers to come up with so many patterns each month that cater for people of varying ages, sizes, styles, sewing skills, seasons, and whether they are new to Burda magazine or whether they have been collecting them for years.

So when I received the June issue we were in the depths of winter, which probably didn't help me pick a project from it. But now we are heading into summer with a few hot days already, I finally decided to make a pair of shorts, because every summer I need a few pairs of shorts to survive hanging out at the playground and yet I never seem to have any! Here's my interpretation of Burda 6/2014 #123 sailor shorts:

Burda_6_2014_#123_sailor_shorts

The pattern and model photo looks like this:

Burda_6_2014_#123_sailor_shorts

Kwik Sew do a similar version which I've seen made up by a few people around the internets and I really quite like the look. It's an interesting pattern because essentially the outside front section is a decorative flap that is attached at the inside leg seams and the side seams below the buttons, and underneath is another layer that is basically a short band across the front only as long as that zipper:

Burda_6_2014_#123_sailor_shorts

Burda_6_2014_#123_sailor_shorts

There are no pockets which is not very useful in shorts, especially when it looks like there are side pockets. I guess you could put some pockets in the side seam, but it might add extra bulk of which I certainly don't need. I think the back could certainly use some welt pockets to break up that expanse of fabric, because the back view is quite plain:

Burda_6_2014_#123_sailor_shorts

Now obviously I do not possess long, lithe or tanned legs such as Burda's model, so I took the sensible option of adding quite a bit of length to the shorts, about 10cm I think.  These are still pretty short by my standards, but they are almost veering into frumpy territory, as the front view is not always very flattering:

Burda_6_2014_#123_sailor_shorts

I'll just have to make sure I stand around posing instead, and develop my own "blue steel" type pose!

Burda_6_2014_#123_sailor_shorts

The fabric I've used is a heavy stretch cotton bought some time ago from possbily the Remnant Warehouse. It's a printed fabric, light grey with a black cross hatching that gives the impression of a linen type weave, minus the annoying wrinkles. And it goes great with my favourite Liberty cotton shirt too, which is a summer staple for me.

Burda_6_2014_#123_sailor_shorts

Now onto the July issue - I've already traced out the pattern and cut out the fabric so I'm well on the way to catching up on my missed issues.  

And thanks for the well wishes on selling our house - there has already been a great deal of interest in it, with a lot of people attending the first open for inspection. One down and three more weeks to go before the auction......

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Burda of the Month: 10/2014 # 111 Cowl Neck Dress

Spring is in the air around these parts and a spring is finally back in my step! The return of my sewing mojo has coincided with me finishing up a few things that have been keeping me  busy lately so I'm hoping I can now get busy on my sewing once again. We've finally finished the work on our house and it's now on the market for the next month before being auctioned in early November (the link is here is if you want to have a look at what the rest of my house beyond my often photographed lounge room looks like). It's going to be a challenge keeping it clean for the next month, but at least the hard work is over and done with.

So if you've been paying attention, you've probably realised that I haven't made a Burda pattern for quite a while and yet here I am skipping ahead to the October issue. Very true, I haven't made my Burda of the month project since the June issue. My love for order and logic means that I really wanted to go back to the June issue and make them in order, but the October issue is such a great issue that I wanted to make this dress right away:

Burda_10_2014_#111_cowl_neck_dress


This is pattern #111 from 10/2014 issue, which is a super simple knit dress with an interesting cowl neckline - the drapes are stitched down in three little folds on either side of the neckline.

Burda_10_2014_#111_cowl_neck_dress

I used a stretch polyester crepe in a black and cream print that I picked up from Spotlight last week (during one of their sales of course!):

Burda_10_2014_#111_cowl_neck_dress

Usually I prefer dresses made out of woven fabric because I like the structure and crispness, but I have to profess my love for this dress. It was really difficult to get a flattering photo of this dress though, and it does look better in real life. I think I need a dressier pair of heels, perhaps something high and strappy to wear with it (but all my non-necessary shoes and accessories are packed away at the moment too!).

Being small busted I quite like having a bit of excess fabric draping across the front, although mine doesn't seem to drape nearly as much as the dress worn by the model in the photo in the magazine.

Burda_10_2014_#111_cowl_neck_dress

I made this mostly on my overlocker so it was really quick to make, being just a front, back and sleeves. The neckline is wide enough to not need a zipper, and I cheated by using that iron on Steam-a-Seam tape to do the hems and the back neckline mainly because I couldn't find a twin needle abut also because it looks neater.

The only change I made to the pattern was to sew two vertical darts in the back to reduce the amount of fabric pooling in my swayback. I didn't want to do a centre back seam so I could make a sway back adjustment, but the darts seem to take care of most of the excess fabric so I could get a neat fit.

Burda_10_2014_#111_cowl_neck_dress

I contemplated making this dress with short sleeves since we are now coming in to summer, but in the end I stuck with the long sleeve option because the fabric is stretchy enough to scrunch the sleeves up above my elbow for those hotter days.

Burda_10_2014_#111_cowl_neck_dress

So overall I can highly recommend this pattern - it's really simple to make and has lovely lines and drape. There's also a pattern in this issue for this style as a top which has a slight variation at the neckline by including tabs to hold the cowl back at the sides which I can also see me making in the near future if I can find the right fabric.

Speaking of fabric, I popped by The Remnant Warehouse to buy some black jersey to make a Halloween costume for Anna and since they are having a 25% off sale I may have accidentally picked up a few extra pieces!


I really don't know how that happened, honestly!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

A cosy dressing gown

Hello dear blog readers - it has been a long time hasn't it? It's amazing how easy it has been for me to fall out of the habit of blogging when I've had so many other things on at the moment. I've always found people who carry on about how busy they are incredibly tedious because they're usually speaking in code for "I'm so important/so popular" - but in my case life is just so incredibly busy at the moment with incredibly tedious things! The good thing is that our house will be on the market in a few short weeks with a sale hopefully by the end of October so the end is in sight.

Of course I've managed to fit in a little bit of sewing in my now dismantled sewing room. I hemmed some curtains that I purchased (yes, purchased!), made a dress for my sister who went to a theme party as Wednesday Addams and made some boring black track suit pants for Toby who seems to have shot up several inches over the last month.

Our winter was rather late in coming this year - so warm and sunny for more than the first half of it, and we now seem to be back in warm weather again. But the previous few weeks were very windy, cold and rainy and the perfect weather for staying indoors wearing cosy dressing gowns.
And to use a cliche, here's one I prepared earlier!


This was another project made on my sewing weekend away many months ago now, and it turned out to be super quick to make which is good because she only really got a few weeks wear out of it this winter! I used a vintage sewing pattern, Simplicity 2320, which is from the 1960s I think:


The fabric is a polar fleece by Prints Charming, which is a Sydney based design company that make the most wonderful designs. Spotlight stock quite a large range of their fabrics in cottons as well, and they are all really cool. I let Anna pick out the fabric herself during one of their many frequent sales. Even with the fabric on sale this cost more to make than a dressing gown I could have bought from Kmart, but we all know that we don't sew to save money don't we? But I did make this dressing gown is pretty big so hopefully it should last a few winters.


She likes it I think!


And now on to some spring sewing I think.  I didn't even get started on my winter sewing list this year, and I'm 4 issues behind now on my Burda challenge so I've got a lot of catching up to do there but fingers crossed I'm back in the blogging habit!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

The authentic Cinderella

The arrival of the August Burda magazine in my letter box the other day quickly made me realise that not only had July slipped by in blur of sickness, lethargy and general busyness, but I hadn't made a project from either the June or July issues of Burda! Even worse is that I have actually traced out the patterns from each, but haven't got as far as actually making them - but the good thing with self imposed challenges that it matters to no one else if I'm a little late.

My sewing room is now pretty much completely deconstructed and all that remains in there is my sewing desk with my machines and a box of fabrics and notions I think I'll need frequently. The rest of my sewing stuff is stored at my parents house - an hour and a half away so I need to get organised with my projects now! My sewing room is now a shared sewing space and children's playroom - a recipe for disaster I'm sure. But to sell our house we had to turn the kid's playroom back into a fourth bedroom so it's for a good reason even if it is annoying to have my sewing supplies so spread about the place.

Of course there has been sewing though - birthday party dresses for my social butterfly, as well as a dress up costume for Anna's school Education Week book character parade. I have to admit to being pretty excited about sewing a costume for the dress up parade, because I have fond memories of my parents getting very creative with costumes for me as a child. I tried to talk her into a cool or quirky character, but unfortunately for the kindergarten set it seems that Disney characters rule the day.

Anna demanded a Cinderella dress - not just any Cinderella dress though, it had to be a faithful reproduction of her Golden Book version. The ones available for purchase just weren't good enough for Anna's liking because they weren't authentic enough! So instead I spent just as much money on ice blue and white satin to make this:


Happily though Anna really loves it and it is better quality than the costumes available in the stores - those were so plasticky they looked like they would spontaneously combust! 

My version met with approval because the skirt is full length and very full - look at it twirl:


I got another tick for making the waistband at the centre front come down in a point and not straight across, which was very important:


Although I did get a little reprimand for adding that trim to the neckline and princess seams because it wasn't on the picture in her book.

And the pouffy hip thingies are made of white satin to match the sleeves, and not of tulle like the ones we saw in the shop:


I wasn't sure how to make those hip things, so in the end I just made them a rectangle the full width of the fabric with rounded edges, and then just folded it and pleated it to fit the waist (leaving a little gap in the front of course!). Seems to work I think.

Of course I had to make the black choker necklace and headband to complete the outfit:


All in all I think someone really enjoyed their day as a princess!


Very handily I managed to find a girls dress sewing pattern in my stash that was perfectly designed for this style, although it wasn't a costume pattern. Sewing was rather fiddly dealing with all that slippery fabric and trying to get my hands in small spaces like the sleeve head and hem. Annoyingly the fabric puckered a little bit even though I used a sharps needle, which is most obvious at the neckline, but it's only a dress up costume so I can live with it.

Now to get on with some sewing for me! I've got a few fabrics and patterns out so it's time to get productive.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Fabric Stash, refined

Thanks everyone for the great tips on pants fitting - it's all very useful which I will have to try out. I shouldn't be surprised that my pants had such huge fitting issues since I've never really put any effort into sorting them out and I don't have a particularly easy body shape to fit. I have watched others blogged their slow and steady progress towards pants fitting nirvana, now I guess I need to find the energy to do the same.

Not this week though, I've come down with the 'flu and have taken up a position on the lounge under a fluffy blanket drinking lemon and ginger tea. But last weekend before getting sick I started dismantling my sewing room so we can move the kids playroom into it and then the playroom will revert back to being a bedroom when we sell the house.

Some of you may remember when I posted a picture of my fabric stash - some people IRL still mention it to me so I know it was memorable! This is how it looked a few months back before I started the Great Fabric Stash Refinement (aka a massive cull):


On Sunday I took this photo:

Look Jane - there's that red and white cotton sateen from Spotlight from the New Look 6968 pattern cover peeking out!
Astonishing, right? I managed to further cull fabrics by holding each piece trying to visualise it made up into something and being honest with myself as to whether I would ever wear something made from it. And the answer to a lot of the prints and colours in my stash was a surprising no, and so a third big bag which has some really nice, quality fabrics will also go out to the Fabric Cave shortly:


So what has happened to the rest? You didn't think I had gotten rid of all that fabric did you? The answer is that 24 jumbo size vacuum space saver bags later, my stash is now packed and ready to go into storage before our upcoming house sale:


Even when I've vacuumed all the air out and shrunk those bags down as much as possible, it's still an impressive pile (which of course fell over a few seconds before I took this photo):


To be totally honest though, this isn't my full stash in those space saver bags. There is still a big bag of fabric scraps to deal with, two boxes of UFOs/refashions, lengths of curtain lining and these rolls of fabric too:


Those fabrics still left on the shelving I've kept out with the intentions of sewing them in the next 6 months or so. No particular projects in mind, just a general desire to use the fabric - sort of sewing with half a plan I guess! I can still access the fabrics in storage but it will take some pre-planning since my parents live over an hour away. And yes, I'm aware that the small amount of fabric I've kept out is actually larger than some people's entire stashes!

But overall my stash is now greatly reduced and I'm actually feeling good about that. I've never really felt any guilt about my fabric stash, mainly because I had the space to store it, I had the money to purchase it, and I do use stash fabrics frequently. Plus I really liked being able to find an appropriate fabric in my stash no matter the project, and I cannot recall the last time I had to purchase fabric particularly for a project for myself. But I must admit that while I was packing this all up I was feeling slightly overwhelmed and a little bit disgusted at my greedy hoard of fabrics! And questioning whether we really should sell our house and move.....

Anyway I've shared this with you all as a public service - for those of you with a small but growing stash you can take comfort that you're not as bad as me yet! And for those of you with a sizeable stash too, well at least you know you're not alone.