Thursday, November 22, 2012

Auckland.....who's in the know?

We will be lucky enough to be staying with the inlaws in Auckland this summer, and while I have been to the city a number of times now, there has never been any time for fabric or opshopping. This time though, I am determined to sneak away (I will have the luxury of two sisters in law and a mother in law for child wrangling!)and do some selfish shopping!

So, does anyone out there have any good tips for where to go? I will have a car, so getting around won't be a problem, but will have limited time so I need to plan ahead.

I would love to pick up some merino jersey while I am there, as it is so ridiculously expensive over here and I am always on the lookout for vintage sewing bits and pieces so visiting some op shops would be great as well.

Thoughts? Tips? Don't be afraid to tell me where to go!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Burdastyle pants

Finally a pair of pants to wear that aren’t denim!

These were from my mini wardrobe plan, and I have had them finished for ages but just haven’t had time to get the photos.

And Miss C is getting significantly better at the photography sessions so here we go!

The pattern is from the Burdastyle July 2011 issue and they are a breeze to sew up, but for what is essentially a pair of elastic waist pants I had to do a surprising amount of surgery on the pattern to get them to fit.

This is what Burda reckon they should look like.
Images from Burdastyle

These are mine.
Fabric: stretch cotton poplin and cotton elastane waistband.

To be fair to Burda I probably should have made a smaller size as I had to reduce the width of the waistband by 4 inches and the height by 2 inches. I also took the waist in at the side seams and centre back seam of the pant, shortened them and added a turned up cuff.

Waist detail, in which I grow a pair of arms out of my left leg!

So I probably did quite a bit more mucking around with these than I expected but I am glad that I did as I now have a great pair of casual, everyday pants for summer. I have some more great prints in the stash so this pattern will probably get quite a workout this season.

Ack! Where's Mums head gone!

Note: The instructions for these pants are very ambiguous, there are the regular instructions in the mag as well as a special ‘sewing lesson’ section that shows pictures as well as step by step instructions. It took me quite a bit of cross checking to figure out how to cut the waistband. The pattern piece looks like it is cut on the fold, but when I checked the sewing lesson it stated to cut one piece from a single layer of fabric. And to complicate things further, Burda include seam allowance in the waistband, but not the pant pattern aaaargh Burda!!!!

And I would really like to upload these to the Burdastyle site but keep getting page errors aaaargh Burda!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Super duper Japanese pattern book giveaway

No, not mine. I am way too selfish for that!

But there is a great giveaway going on over at Fashion Incubator where you can win for your sewing pleasure, not one, not two but five Japanese pattern books including Drape Drape 1 and 2!

And seeing that I already have two out of the five I am going to sit and watch unselfishly from the sidelines to see who is the winner!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Drape Drape 2 No 4 Top

I was lucky enough to pick up copies of Drape Drape 1 and 2 on Ebay recently. Both books were in pristine condition and ended up costing less than half the retail price of one of them. Yay me!

I have pined after these books for a while now. While I like the Japanese aesthetic (all those lovely Liberty, loose floaty dresses and smocks!), I have been a bit leery of buying any of the books as loose, boxy shapes generally look awful on me, and while I am about average height, I would be on the end of the Large size and was a bit worried if anything would actually fit! But the Drape Drape styles are mostly in jersey so I figured that fit wouldn’t be as much of an issue.

I picked one of the easy ones to start with. This top with a side drape.

Kathleen Fasanella wrote a useful review of the book here, and also shows a mock up of this style.

Here is mine.

I used a vintage cotton jersey with a wide navy and white stripe. I didn’t have quite enough fabric so I cut the pattern on the cross grain which means the stripe runs diagonally across the body, which was a bit of a win as it gives the top a bit of a seventies vibe.

A few points:

Seam allowances are included in the pattern, so watch out for that if you are used to Burda!

The pattern is actually 3 separate pieces that you trace and then join. Took me a while to figure that out! And when the instructions say that you need 1.2 metres, then you need 1.2 metres! I usually ignore yardage information on commercial patterns as they are generally so wasteful, but this is just one pattern piece so you do need that full length (unless of course you shorten it).

Despite being in Japanese, the tracing was so much easier then Burda. Less lines on the paper and a slightly heavier paper stock, and this pattern was only two sizes so very easy to find the right line to trace.

Patternreview is here.

I love this top! I was in desperate need of some basic tops for everyday, and I have already worn this 3 times. It is a perfect fit, I didn’t need to muck about with too many changes, quick and easy to sew and looks casual and dressy at the same time. Now I just need to find some time to whip up some more!

Note: apologies for lack of decent photos. As my tripod has gone walkabout, the resident 5 year old is now in charge of photography. Using my phone. So this is probably the best it is ever going to get!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I am never going to staystitch again

Is it October already? What do you mean it’s nearly November? What happened to September? The Mini Wardrobe boat has well and truly sailed without me, but I did get 2 out of my 4 items finished, which considering that I had a lot of chore sewing to do (summer PJ’s for the kids, some mending and alterations and new curtains for the nursery, ugh why are curtains so awful to sew, I always vow never again!).But 2 out of 4 aint bad. They just need to be photographed, blogged and reviewed.

But back to the title of the post. I have always hated staystitching. Friends in the trade swear it isn’t done in production, and I suspect that the very act of passing the fabric through the machine in order to stabilise it probably creates some distortion anyway, which defeats the purpose. Vilene frames are a good alternative and something I would do if I was making something special or using very expensive fabric.

And then I found a little pack of iron on bias tape that I had bought ages ago, stashed away and promptly forgot about! Which inspired me to make up some tops to try it out.

This here T-shirt has a very low neckline, which I didn’t want to stretch any lower, and as it is large enough to fit over the head, I thought that the bias tape would be a good way to make sure the neckline didn’t distort or stretch during handling.

I cut the fabric, left the pattern pinned to the fabric, went straight to the iron board and applied the tape to the wrong side of the neckline and hey presto, a nice stable edge that was in no danger of stretching out of shape, and best of all no staytitching! Hooray!

I don’t have much of the tape left, but I think that I will make my own using skinny strips of iron on fusing when this stash runs out. That’s unless of course anyone has any tips on where to get it wholesale!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Curse you Marc Jacobs

For designing such a humdinger of a collection!
Look at this

And this

And this

Marc by Marc Jacobs, images from

Oh Lordy, I want all of it (except for maybe the turbans)!
All this gorgeousness is making me think my safe little mini wardrobe plan is looking a tad humdrum!
What to do what to do!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Making plans for nigel

I am actually making plans for summer, but I heard that XTC song on the radio the other day and it made me think of cruisy summers past, hanging out at music festivals, wearing denim cutoffs and doc martens, and generally doing very little!

But this summer will be the summer of recuperation, so we plan to spend as much time at the beach as possible (yippee!). Being an ‘inlander’ however means I have zero in the way of beach going attire, but luckily for me, Patternreview are having the Mini Wardrobe contest again this month.

The contest requires you to select a key item, which can be a sewn or purchased garment, and then make 4 other garments to coordinate with it.

So I have splashed out (gedditt!) and purchased myself this swimsuit:

This is a bit more vavavoom than I normally wear (I am usually a neck to knee kind of girl), but I figure I only have a few more good swimsuit years left in me, so I may as well make the most of it. Best of all it was reduced from $150 to $40, as it was last seasons stock, and it is fully lined, has underbust support (although the underbust support isn’t exactly under my bust so there may be a bit of unpicking to do!) and it is made by Seafolly, who still design and manufacture all of their cossies here in Australia.

Here is the plan for the other four pieces so far.

They are all Burdastyle, which means lots of tracing, and I have no idea if my pre babies Burda size 38 will fit my post babies body without a serious amount of tweaking. Which I don’t really have time for as the deadline for the contest is the end of the month.

So this plan could quite possibly change to elastic waist leggings and baggy T’s if I run out of time, but it is a nice plan for now.

Have you made plans for next seasons sewing yet?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I really like this dress.....

…so why can’t I get a decent picture of me wearing it!!!!!
It really does look better in real life trust me!

The lowdown
Vogue 8487 blogged here and here.

Mystery print from the stash. My guess is that it is a rayon. My mum bought this in Auckland about erm 15 years ago, and it has been lurking in my stash ever since. It has a lovely handle, is very soft and I suspect was quite expensive.

I really like this pattern. It is super easy to sew (although I did draft a facing for the neck instead of doing a self bind as instructed), and was very quick to make.

I did however completely botch the pleats. It is a bit tricky to see due to the busy print, which is why I didn’t bother to unpick and try and correct them, and I have no idea what I did wrong.

When I pinned the front bodice to the front skirt at the waist seam, the top was much bigger than the skirt, and I ended up making 2 new pleats in the top to make the pieces fit together.

The grainline at this part of the top is almost on true bias (due to the pleating) so the fabric *could* have stretched with handling, but it seems unlikely as there was exactly the same amount of extra length on both sides of the top, so I must have folded the pleats incorrectly somewhere.

I think that I will have a go at making this up again in a summer weight fabric and see if I can get the pleating right, then I will know if it is a me error or a pattern error.

Full pattern review is here, but all up this one is definitely a keeper for me, dodgy photos and all!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Cool girls don't sew

Did you sew as a teenager? And was sewing considered ‘cool’ where you went to school?

I was definitely not one of the cool girls at school. In those days, and I am talking way before Kate Moss made vintage cool, anything home made or secondhand was not cool. And as everything I wore in those days was either or, I was branded a nerd (although we weren’t called nerds then, we were ‘dags’). That and the fact that I spent every spare second in the sewing room, didn’t have a boyfriend and actually liked doing my homework were things that were never going to befriend me to the cool crowd.

Molly Ringwald in Pretty In Pink

To this day I still don’t know what made the cool girls cool. I suspect it was more complex than just having fancy new clothes and the right haircut.

So why am I musing on this now, nearly two decades later.

Well Miss C, who is only in kinder, is already talking about the cool girls. And part of me desperately wants her to be one. And the other part desperately wants her to be a nerd and carve her own path. Sigh. I get the feeling that this parenting gig only gets harder from here on in.

I think I will print out this post and stick it on the fridge to remind myself that it doesn’t matter that my home will never feature in a glossy magazine, my hair will never be the ‘right’ hair, and I will never be part of the cool crowd but I will always make my own clothes regardless of whether it is considered cool.

And when the time is right I will read it out loud with Miss C.

Have any of your kids run into trouble against the cool gang at school?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Sack of potatoes

I know that's what you are thinking.
But just wait until I wave my magic styling wand (or at least wash my hair so that I can take a decent photo)!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Why hasn't anyone reviewed this pattern?

I have searched Patternreview and blogland and have come up with zip with regards to this Vogue pattern.

Which leaves me to think that
• It is such a dud that anyone who did make it is too embarrassed to make the result public or
• I am the only person on the planet who thinks it has potential beyond nanna going to a retro 80’s fancy dress party.

I bought this (yes paid actual money, although I am pretty sure it would have been on sale) when it was first released and it is now OOP (which isn’t a good sign) and have been wanting to make it for ages.

I have a couple of pieces of fabric in the stash that I think could work and I reckon if I make it shorter and wear it with anything other than office pumps I might be able to pull it off.

I am going for a Marni slash Dries Van Noten kind of look.

Sow’s ear – silk purse perhaps?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

For want of a drum roll......

.....the winners of my twin giveaway are Carla, who scored the kids pack and Sharon for the grown ups pack.

Congrats to you both, just send me an email with your mailing details and your pack of goodies will be on your doorstop in no time!

And Maeve, Tanit-Isis and Maddie, as a thank you for your comments and support I would like to send you all a 'lucky dip' Burda mag from my vintage stash, because I really hate for anyone to leave a party empty handed! Just email me your details and I will get dipping!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Double Barrel Giveaway is here!

Before I get to the free stuff, I really should have mentioned the kindness of friends as well as strangers that I talked about in my last post.

In the last week or so, we have had friends mow our lawns, weed the garden, feed pets, finish off some renovation work, do our grocery shopping, clean the house and I even have one lovely friend who has been around every day to hang out my washing!

I really am going to have to think of a very special way of thanking them all once we get through all of this.

But on to the super duper giveaway part of the post.

I have spent most of the week sorting and tidying the stash, and have come up with 2 little packages that might be of interest to some of you.

Giveaway #1 Vintage for kids

This pack consists of

• Burda magazine June 1977
• Simplicity pattern for newborns dated 1977
• About 2 metres of vintage hot pink cotton ric rac
• Remnant piece, about 60cm, of pink animal print vintage seersucker

As well as having these super cute girls dresses, the Burda mag also has some great summer dresses, a really cool swimsuit (that almost made me keep this one for myself) and some other lovely summer styles that look almost contemporary.

I bought the newborn pattern to make the twins christening dresses but they are way too big now, and the seersucker was going to be a couple of pairs of bloomers but I already have stacks of those.

Giveaway #2 Vintage for grown ups

This pack has

• Burda magazine January 1975
• Butterick dress pattern, undated size 12 bust 87cm
• About 2 metres of retro print polyester satin

This Burda mag has some wonderful trench coat styles and shirt dresses, as well as these great art smocks and tops for kids.

The Butterick pattern I have had in my stash forever, and I think could make up into an interesting maxi style dress, and the poly satin is a really nice quality (I think it originally retailed for about $12 a metre) and would make a perfect lining for that trench coat!

I am willing to post anywhere in the world, and all you have to do to be in the draw is leave a comment saying which giveaway you would like the most.
Deadline is midnight (AEST) on Sunday 13th May.

Go on, you know you NEED more patterns and fabric!

Note: I am pretty sure that the mags and patterns are complete. The Burda mags are in German but have the English supplement included with the pattern sheets and as far as I can tell the patterns look complete as well. I haven’t been through the patterns completely though so can’t guarantee that every piece is there. Just so you know!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The kindness of strangers

2012 has been a doozy of a year for us healthwise, which is partly to blame for my absence from blogland of late. (I won’t mention the C word, but that is what we are dealing with at the moment).

So far we have been on the merry go round of doctors, hospitals, and specialists in both the big smoke and locally, and haven’t really had much of a predictable routine since before Christmas.

The kids though have been real troupers, and considering that they have been carted from pillar to post, and every week has meant some kind of doctor visit, they have taken it all in their stride. Sure there have been tears and tantrums (mostly from me) but we usually end up going to bed each night with a smile on our faces.

The thing that has really struck me though is how kind people are. I have been on my own quite a bit and every where I have been, both in Sydney and our own small town, complete strangers have helped me with my groceries, lifted the monster pram in and out of the car for me and even held a baby while I got the other one sorted.

People have stopped me on the street to admire the kids, often with their own twin story (mum’s a twin, brother had twins, married a twin etc) and I have to say it has been really lovely, despite the context that I have found myself in.

And last week I received a wonderful package of kids patterns from a reader, who despite not knowing me from Adam, took the time to sort through her stash, pick out some patterns in the right size that she thought I could use and post them off to me.

And I admit I almost cried when I got them because we currently have zero funds to spend on treats like patterns and fabric, and some days I even have to scrounge up some change for fresh bread!

So in order to keep the goodwill floating around the universe I have to do some serious giving back.

Next post will be not one, but two giveaways hurray!
Just give me some time to get lost in the fabric and pattern stash for a while will you?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

More rompers.......and a blue ribbon!

I have finally, finally finally managed to finish another two of the vintage rompers for the girls. Getting these done has been like dragging a bowling ball through quicksand!

Three rompers on the bed and the little one said........

I started them when I was still pregnant, about this time last year, thinking that I would just quickly whip up another couple before they were born. But despite being deceptively simple (yes they look cute, but they have elastic casing, snap tape, buttons and button holes and I even went all out on the blue one and added decoration gasp!) they have taken forever.

And now that we are officially in Autumn it probably won’t be hot enough until next summer for them to wear them. And I think that this style of romper could look a bit weird on a walking toddler, but we will see!

But on a brighter note, we had our Annual Show in town the other weekend, and this year I actually decided to enter something in it. The Show is kind of like a Country Fair, lots of livestock, woodchopping, horse events and a sideshow alley for the kiddies. And because we are a small country town it has a 1950’s time warp kind of vibe to it.

And wouldn’t you know it, but I ended up with a first place and a blue ribbon for S’s yellow romper. I suspect I was the only entrant in my section, but hey, a blue ribbon is a blue ribbon and well worth the 50c entry fee!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Babies were big in the old days

Remember this romper from way back when?

We have finally had a couple of hot days so E has been able to wear hers.

The pattern was sized for a 6 month old, and even though the twins are now just over 7 months, there is plenty of room for E, who is shall we say generously proportioned for her age, and it swims all over S who may have to wait til next summer to wear hers.

While it is very roomy around the armholes, the advantage of using vintage patterns for babies clothes is that they are generously cut around the bottom, which means they actually fit over a cloth nappy.

Modern clothes are fitted to be very snug (mainly to comply with fire safety standards) and just don’t account for a nicely padded cloth bot.
We use cloth about 90% of the time, saving the disposables for nights and when we are out, so I think I will need to hunt down some more vintage patterns for winter which isn’t too far away now.

I do have two more of these rompers in the works, but they have been bumped down the list in order to get some superhero sewing done!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Guess what's happening at our house!

Miss C is turning 5! Woo hoo!

And we are having a supergirl party to celebrate.
We were supposed to have a party for her 4th birthday last year but we all came down with a nasty bout of gastro, which saw me visit 3 hospitals in 3 different towns in the space of 2 days. Not something I ever care to repeat!
So this year I figured I had better make up for it.
She chose the theme, the invites have been sent, fabric has been purchased, and the menu drawn up and I have 2 weeks up my sleeve!
Tomorrow I start the superhero cape production line!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Christmas loot

Well Christmas has come and gone. And so has the New Year. And so has half of January. Sheesh. And I am still unpacking boxes of Christmas presents and toys!

We were fortunate enough this year to housesit for a lovely family in Orange, where we got to play with horses, dogs, cats and guinea pigs and generally sat around doing very little except helping ourselves to generous servings of Christmas fare.

Good old fashioned fun on the farm

And I didn’t end up taking the sewing machine. But I did take some Burda issues and did get some pattern tracing done which is something I haven’t had the brain capacity to do for a very long time.

And this year Santa very generously gave me everything on my list!
And while I haven’t had much sewing time of late, I have been diligently stash building (with the help of Santa and online shopping heh heh!).

Vintage Japanese kimono silks, vintage cottons, a walking foot for the trusty Bernina and Japanese pattern book 'She has a mannish style'.

And because we are getting close to School starting I have an insane list of sewing that has to get done no matter what.

Namely school uniforms, a couple of christening gowns for the twins and some party attire that the nearly 5 year old approves of.

And after that is done, and the nearly 5 year old is in school, I am going to sew some completely inappropriate garments for my new life as a School Mum. Probably something using one of those silks. That you have to wear heels with!