Friday, 23 May 2014

Musings on style

I’ve been sewing up a storm for the last month. I have so many unblogged pieces of clothing that it will shock you, but I’m not going to blog about them yet. I’m pretty happy with them, and they are all pretty wearable, which is really great, but it’s also got me thinking.


I’ve been sewing so much that I’m running low on stash. I have quite a few more projects mapped out, but several are quite quick projects that I can whip up in a night (moneta dresses, Nettie tops, a slip etc). Which means that I’m close to running out of planned projects.


I have a spreadsheet that I map out my sewing plans on – it covers what I want to sew – and when – and what steps I have to go in my projects. It also tracks what I have upcoming and a plan for a winter wardrobe, most of which is covered by existing stash pieces.


Which leads me to the thinking part. Once I sew these last few projects, I’ll be free to start planning my next phase of sewing. And I want to be really deliberate about it. I do try to pick fabrics and patterns really carefully and curate them into my own personal style, but I want to have more of a plan of what that actually means. What IS my style? I know I have some colours that I’m drawn to pretty consistently, and feature heavily in my wardrobe, but I want to expand that.  I’ve existed for such a long time with such a limited wardrobe. I tend to shop in bursts, focussed on trying to get things that I like but more on making sure I get as much as I can for my budget. It means that I don’t always get items of quality and I don’t always love what I get. I’m happy with fewer clothes, but I want to be able to mix and match them and know that I can make heaps of wearable outfits out of what I have. I want to focus on quality and not quantity, and have a clearer idea of what I like and don’t like, so that I can feel elegant, stylish and well dressed, whatever the occasion.


I’ve been belatedly reading through the Colette Patterns Wardrobe Architect series, which has been really great as a starting point for thinking about all this stuff. I’ve been pinning like crazy on Pinterest and making mood boards and playing on Polyvore.


I’ve even being playing on colour palette sites and thinking about my colour schemes and trying to narrow that down – I mean, a lot of this isn’t coming up with anything earth shattering for me, I do know what I like, but it’s definitely narrowing it down for me and it’s crystalising the style in my mind. Which is really nice. I can’t wait to work on building my wardrobe around these colours and shapes. A lot of what I have actually does fit around these styles, but being more purposeful about it will be really good. I’d love to be able to get up and have a wardrobe of clothes to throw on and have it all pretty much work. I don’t want a lot of clothes, I want the RIGHT clothes.


A lot of what is in my current sewing plan maps closely to what is emerging as my sense of style – stripes, dresses with fitted bodices and flared skirts, knits, flared woollen skirts… it’s not really terribly shocking. The colours are pretty consistent too – lots of teal, cherry, olive, navy, mustard, cream, black, grey, brown.


I have so many gaps in my wardrobe, though, so I am really excited about working out what they are and then filling those gaps – with sewing and a bit of shopping. I always feel guilty for buying clothing, but if I can get the RIGHT item, with great quality, that fits that need in my wardrobe really well, then shopping won’t stress me out so much.


Sunday, 27 April 2014


I'm never one of the first off the block. As soon as a pattern comes out I fall in love and order it and sit around for up to a year before actually getting started. But not this time! I present to you my TWO versions of Moneta. I whipped them both up within two days and couldn't be happier with them both. I am definitely going to make a pile more. 

Sorry for the dodgy photos. The Chef is away, partly how I got SO much sewing done over the weekend, so I don't have anyone to take photos. Oh well. 

The green one was made from some cheap fabric from GJs. I love it, but the hems stretched out when I was sewing them. So for the second one, an apple print that I got when popping into spotlight to get clear elastic for the first one, I pulled out my new walking foot AND the twin needle. Two fears conquered! It worked perfectly. Yay! 

So that's THREE finished dresses in a week. 

Now to finish this moss mini... Eee!


This dress has been on my to do list for a year. It never really seemed to be the one I'd gravitate to or feel like sewing, so it kept being passed over for other patterns. I bought the fabric and pattern while visiting my family in North Carolina last year, and since The Chef is there visiting family at the moment, it felt like a good time to make it up. Plus, I had eked out a muslin of the bodice, decided it didn't need changes, and so could get stuck into it straight away. 

I cut it out at social sewing, taking time to trace all the pieces, and mark the stitching lines on them all. It helped a lot, I'm so much neater with my sewing if I take more care at those early stages and it definitely paid off this time. 

The bodice came together really nicely. I sewed my first plackets, and they were pleasantly easy. Also, the first collar in one of my own dresses, which went in perfectly first time. In fact, there's been no unpicking at all. Only fly in the ointment was that I didn't get quite enough bias binding, so I had to wait a day or two to finish the second sleeve. 

I used my overlocker to finish the edges inside and it looks so neat and tidy! It's the first dress where I'm happy with it inside and out. 

I've had a few wadders in a row when sewing for me so it's really nice to have finally made something I'm happy to wear in public without feeling like its obvious that I made it myself. 

It's not my usual style, but it's actually really flattering on me, I think. I thought it would be too much with such girly fabric, but it doesn't feel too twee at all on me. It feels good to be so unhesitatingly pleased with one of my makes!

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)