Saturday, 22 February 2014

You guys...

I know I've been deathly silent around these parts for the last forever...but today I GOT A DESK FOR MY SEWING ROOM! (Thanks to MyMessings and her Mister!) This means no more sewing on the floor. This means places to put my WIP and work on. Drawers! Places to put my notions and tools! Actually having homes for things! Joy! 

I did actually get a few finished items in during my period of Elisalex that I was pretty happy with, TWO purses, Torfino pyjama pants, a School Photo dress for a friend's baby, a silver and flocked velvet moss mini skirt and, get this, TWO KNITTED ITEMS. 

I don't have great photos of the above, and a couple of them have been gifts too, but that's ok. 

To be honest I've been feeling pretty conflicted about blogging. I don't feel like I have the time or energy to put enough effort into the blog. I don't have the energy to fix the design, or work on my photography skills, etc etc, and I don't feel like my sewing skills are worth showing off either. I'm haphazard and impatient and it shows in my blog and sewing. 

I'd like to change this, but it's not my number one priority at the moment. I barely have the energy or interest in sewing at the moment (work is really busy and has very long hours, so I come home zonked). That said, my sewjo  has returned with the new desk and I spent a fruitful few hours working on a sewing project. I'm hoping that having a dedicated sewing space will help with my motivation, as the lack of space was a big part of the issue. I also have just done a muslin of a bodice of the Clara dress, by Sew Liberated, which I'm happy with, so I can't wait to cut it out and start sewing it! I also had a wadder in there that left me feeling uninspired. It was one of those simplicity amazing fit patterns. Not so amazing fit, anyway. The ease on the thing was ridiculous. I also didn't like the mix of pattern and fabric, it looked like a nightgown on me. There were things I could do that would help, but I was so meh about it by that stage that I just couldn't face picking it up. Eventually I just decided to NOT pick it up and I feel happier for it. Shame, as I liked the fabric, but such is life. 

Anyway, this was meant to be a short post but WHOOPS. I seem to have had more to say than I thought. Thanks for sticking around!

Monday, 10 June 2013

JustSewJune update 1

We're over a week into June now and I'm really enjoying this challenge so far. I've got a finished item too!! It's a present so I can't blog it yet. Here's a breakdown of what I've done so far:

Day 1: sewing the present. 
Day 2: hand hemming and attached the lining to the zipper by hand. 
Day 3: final finishing touches to the present. All done and ready to post! (This was day 1 of my new job so I took it pretty easy)
Day 4: date night with the chef! Tuesdays are the only day we both have any time off together, so I did some knitting in bed. I'm knitting a basic garter stitch scarf because I'm new to this knitting caper. 
Day 5: my best friend has been admitted to hospital on bed rest for ten weeks with her pregnancy complications. The hospital is on my way home from work but it was after 8pm by the time I got home. So instead of sewing up my Elisalex muslin, which was the plan, I pulled out a silk remnant that I bought at Tessuti last year. I'm hand rolling the two long edges and will wear it as a scarf. I started this a year ago but put it down so it's good to have a portable project that I can do in my lunch break. 
Day 6: more hand rolling. I went to mum's for dinner and we watched a movie together and I hand rolled while she knitted. 
Day 7: I bought some knitting supplies for my friend in hospital and did a few rows of knitting in bed that night. I left my scarf at work so couldn't do more hand rolling, annoyingly. 
Day 8: busy day! Got home after 8pm again but I started piecing together my Elisalex muslin 3. 
Day 9: super productive day! I finished the muslin bodice, which is now perfect!! And cut out the muslin and transferred the stitching lines and markings for Gertie's pencil skirt. 
Day 10: today is a public holiday here, so I'm planning on thread tracing and piecing together the pencil skirt! I might use it for the skirt of my elisalex too. 

So that's JustSewJune so far!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Embroidery 101 - Amazing textile artists

I mentioned in my first entry or two that I have been a embroidery enthusiast for years and although I haven't yet combined my love for embroidery and sewing, I do plan to eventually, when I find the right item. In this post, however, I wanted to talk you through some different types of embroidery that I love and some of the people that have inspired me.

I lived in the country for my school years in a small town about three hours east of Melbourne. It's called Sale, and not really famous for terribly much. There's a RAAF base there, home of the Roulettes, so I got used to watching six planes in formation flying loop de loops on a regular basis. We have some local celebrities - a few footy players, Australian author Mary Grant Bruce, and a textile artist.

The textile artist is a Dutch-born woman named Annemieke Mien, and her work, if you haven't heard of it, is insanely gorgeous. Her pieces are incredibly intricate and three dimensional. She mixes a huge variety of materials, including hand dyed fabrics, to create the pieces.
Image via Ararat Regional Art Gallery
I was so used to seeing her work around town that I don't think I ever really appreciated it while I was there.
Annemieke Mein’s Textile Sculptures: Mating Mythical Moths, Cultural Entomology Digest 4Pink Emperor Gum Moth II (detail) 1982. Low-relief wall panel. 85 x 130 x 5cm

These photos just don't do her work justice. They are *huge* and the colours are so vivid. 

Margaret Lee - Japanese Embroidery
I went to visit my aunt a few years ago, and since she loves embroidery too when we saw an advertisement for an embroidery exhibition on while I was in Brisbane, we took ourselves off to see it. One of the people who was teaching there was Margaret Lee. This fan was one of the pieces on display. I think I spent at least an hour examining almost every stitch in it.
It was perfect. In the handle section of the bar, there are gold threads, lying on the fabric. These are 'couched' at regular intervals in red thread. Couching is where one thread lies on the fabric and the other thread is used to hold it in place. If you use the same colour it looks almost invisible. If you use a contrast, like in this example, you can play with the effect. This was couched to have an almost brick like pattern on it. I'd never seen embroidery like this before, but ended up going out and buying several books on Japanese style embroidery. I'm still fascinated by it, as it's the most perfect thing that I've ever seen, but I haven't got the equipment to try it myself yet. Plus, it's so ridiculously particular - I mean, I know that's why it looks so amazing, but I don't have the patience to make sure that I twist the thread the same amount of times each time I take a stitch and then move the threads so that the twists in the silk are lining up perfectly. I might leave it to someone else and just gaze in adoration at their work.

These are my two favourite embroidery artists. Who are yours?

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

A blast of excitement and inspiration

So because sewing myself a tailored jacket is one of my big sewing goals this year (and my sewlution) I got the new Kenneth D King Craftsy course when I got a good deal. It's on tailoring a Fly Front Jacket. I'm not so keen on the project in the course (it comes with Vogue 8841 which I doubt will ever come out of the envelope in my house!) but I thought the information on tailoring and the construction would be useful.

I started watching it today, and wasn't paying too much attention. He was showing some pattern changes that he was making to the jacket to add in a pocket and some princess seams and HANG ON... I've been wondering how to do that with my Anise for AGES. And stressing about it, because I was worried about converting the dart that I added with my FBA into the princess seam.

The thing is, though, that since the coat didn't have any darts or shaping in the front, he just drew the princess seam on. And then it hit me, the Anise doesn't have any darts or shaping in the front. I added the dart with the FBA. If I go back to the original piece, I can just draw the princess seam on where I need it! I use the stitching line as my reference, not the cutting line, anyway, so I don't even have to worry about remembering to add seam allowances!

It's so simple and so easy and I can't believe I've spent the last 5 months stressing about how to do it and too scared to try. I've got things on the next three nights but Saturday is Social Sewing day, so you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll be doing some work on my next muslin of the Anise there!!

(and hopefully finishing off the last few steps of my current WIP)

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Just Sew June

I feel like I begin every post with "I've been so busy, I haven't had time to do much sewing". I write myself some sewing goals for the week, and then I have something on every night and spend the weekend out and about or cleaning or just sleeping in and reading or watching television and over a week has passed and I haven't done any sewing at all. I'm not happy about this, and I'm doing something about it.

I want to make sewing an every day part of my life. I love to do it, so I want to prioritise it. I find time to play time-wasting iPhone games (Farm Frenzy anyone?) so I know I have a spare few minutes a day to set aside to do at least one sewing related task a day.

They say it takes 28 days to make a habit, so I'm challenging myself for the month of June to do one sewing related task a day for the entire month of June and I thought I'd open this challenge up to you, as well.

It doesn't have to be big, or long, or fast or slow or whatever. Tracing a pattern, pre-washing some fabric, blogging, knitting even (if that's your thing). Just as long as making something is prioritised and time is set aside to create on a regular basis.

I'm aiming for every day, but if that's too optimistic for you, what about 3 times a week? once a week? The aim is to challenge yourself, not to kill yourself, so make it something that will require a *bit* of work but that will be achievable for you.

Who's with me?

Monday, 13 May 2013


I finished this skirt (yet another Simplicity 2152) at approximately 3am the night before we flew to the US. I was trying to stay up all night - and there was plenty of cleaning to be done to justify this - and so I thought I'd add in some hand-sewing of the hem and lining to the cause. I'm pretty happy with this skirt. It has a few flaws - my stitching in the ditch wasn't as perfect as I wanted, I think one of the layers stretched (I forgot stay stitching) so the layers didn't match up perfectly. I'm also still not happy with my top-stitching of my centered zip and I think I should have interfaced the waistband a bit more heavily as it's a bit wrinkly. But that's really nitpicking. I'm really happy with the finish of everything else.

Thanks to Rachel from MyMessings for the photos!
I finished the seams nicely - all bound Hong Kong seams. I used white bias binding for a bit of pretty contrast, then decided to line the skirt anyway!


The lining (which is white) was sewn with French seams. Ohh la la! I followed Sewaholic's tutorials for attaching the facing and zip to the skirt (parts 1, 2 and 3), which worked really well (except for the top-stitching, which was my fault).

I knew the fit was good, but made a point to have a smaller hem on this skirt, as my last version, the olive green polka dot one, is a leeeeetle too short for comfort. This is a better length.

After a long eat at Sewcie Tea, so looking a little crumpled!
I picked up the pink corduroy on the Social Sewing road trip day. The skirt doesn't use much fabric - I got just over a metre and had a little bit of leftovers. I started off with a cornflower blue contrast waistband and pocket bands but just wasn't happy with them. I had initially imagined pink contrast fabric, but wasn't happy with the selection on offer at Cleggs.

I just couldn't get excited about this blue, for some reason.

After losing all interest in the skirt I decided it was better to unpick and be happy than sit and mope any longer, so I went back and bought the pink contrast fabric instead. It looks MUCH better and I'm really happy with how it has turned out... though unpicking the side seams AND the Hong Kong binding to replace them was a PITA and almost made me cry. It was definitely worth the effort though!
Mindy, Oan, Anna, Sarah and Me!

I wore this to the Sewcie Tea. I had hoped to have sewn an Elisalex, but I'm the worlds best procrastinator and have been ridiculously busy, so it didn't happen. It's on my list of goals for this year, though, so it will happen!!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Long time no speak

So things have been fairly frantic around Chez Bellacollectanea. I know I always say that, but this past year has been one of the busiest and most challenging that I've had in a while. Whoever thought it would be a good idea to take up an engrossing and awesome new hobby and open a restaurant at the same time?! To be fair, though, I didn't know that we'd be opening Rockwell and Sons this time last year!

The first anniversary of me getting my sewing machine came and went a little while ago. I can't believe how quickly that time has passed or how much my life has changed in that time.  I'm so glad that I took up sewing, it's definitely been one of the best decisions of my life, and going to the sewing meetup last August is up there too. Over the last year I've made several garments - and a couple that I'm really happy with - and made some of the best friends a girl could wish for.

I have so much news but don't quite know where to start. I have enough to tell you for about 10 blog posts - I mean, I haven't even shared the haul that I got from the Social Sewing on the Road day! and BOY did I come home with a haul!! I've even sewn one piece up into a garment, with another cut out and half sewn up. I'm hoping to finish it this weekend!

My haul from the social sewing day!

The beautiful lace that I couldn't stop touching

A sneek preview of my WIP 
 I went to the US, too, and got to visit The Little General, which happens to be in my husband's home town!

I met the super lovely Gina and bought a pattern and some fabric to make up.

How cute is this fabric?

The Clara dress by Sew Liberated

We went on a mini honeymoon to Charleston - and while I didn't buy anything sewing related there, I DID have lots of amazing food and an incredible time.

The chef and I looking dopey
We spent pretty much the whole time eating.

How cute was our hotel room?!

 I also got several other patterns, four of the Simplicity Amazing Fit series and a couple of New Look ones. My awesome grandma-in-law gave me some really cool paper piecing patterns for some quilts, too, so I'm excited to start getting into some quilting more.

On that note - did you see the quilt that I, Rachel, Sarah and Melanie made for the lovely Kat and her little Ginger? I had such a good time working on it, and think this quilting lark might become a thing I do semi-regularly.
The quilt for Ginger!

There was also the Sewcie Tea, which was organised by Melanie too. So much fun!!
I had hoped to make an Elisalex dress for it, but what with the crazy hours I've been doing at work, the weekend stuff I've been doing at the restaurant and general life craziness, not to mention a holiday to the US the week before the tea, I didn't get my muslin completed, let alone the dress. I've been working on it, now that I'm back, and am pretty happy with it, so far, so hopefully I can get started on my wearable muslin version soon! I did an FBA and it WORKED!! it looks perfect, apart from the waist line, which I need to lower by two inches on the front and an inch on the back. Easy fix - just need time to do it!! :) I'm pretty proud of myself for making progress, it's the first time I've been pretty happy with getting a good fit from my adjustments.

The fabric and lining for my wearable muslin version of the Elisalex. I'm still working in muslin, but hope to start cutting this out soon!

 I also have made the decision to stop work on the Anise. It just doesn't work on my figure, which is such a shame because I love the pattern so much. I've bought the Abbey Coat pattern by Jamie Christina from SewSquirrel and will make two versions - one the long one with a flounce in a gorgeous coating fabric that I got in the fabric swap at Social Sewing in January and a shorter version. I'm going to alter that pattern to add in welt pockets and make it double breasted. So pretty much a frankenpattern of Anise and the Abbey coat! I'm excited to give it a whirl.

My final bit of news - and part of the reason that I've been so quiet here - is that I've got a new job! I gave notice at my old job on Monday and finish up on the 31st of May. Sadly, there's no break and I start the new job on the 3rd of June. It's going to be sad leaving - I'm saying goodbye to Publishing. But I'm excited to start my new career and think there will be way more opportunities for growth in the new field, so am excited and happy for the future. I've been with this company for four years now (my anniversary was yesterday) so it's going to be a big change saying goodbye.