Kicking off 2013

The end of 2012 was a bit quiet on the blogging front – what energy I had was poured into work during the day and then sewing in the evenings to keep me sane. Despite a ruptured Baker’s cyst (ouch!) in my sewing-foot-pedal-leg, I bravely soldiered on and made some favourite things. In hindsight I should have ignored the doctor’s (lack of) advice and rested a lot more :-/

My green Tiramisu was my go-to Christmas dress – comfortable, fab colour and too easy to wear. The fabric came from TJ in a surprise parcel in the One Cool Thing, One Strange Thing swap. I like to think of this as my sewing blogger dress. I’ve since made Tira#2 using two sorts of stripes. More Photos to come once I get them both clean and ironed at the same time.
Eight Pieces of the best kind of Cake!

A highlight of October’s trip to Melbourne was meeting up with TJ in person at Latrobe Uni when I was there for work. Some great tips from her about Darn Cheap Fabrics led to another super useful dress – the black and white dots for NL6097 which my husband said was ‘a bit airline hostess’, little does he know this is a specific, valid genre in the sewing blogosphere. See Scruffy Badger’s NL6000 Frock Fest for evidence.

On Christmas Eve I rustled up some ickle bodysuits for the tiniest niece. I used both Lumi Inkodye printing, and some fabric-specific Sharpies for a bird and an elephant on some simple white cotton. Maybe one day I will learn to take a photo before gifting things.

2012 in review
The highlights:
Connecting with fabulous sewing bloggers and making some super useful, comfortable, fun and Kirsty-like clothing. And some sewing for my favourite people too – husband, son and tiniest niece all got a look in. And starting my collection of vintage Elnas. I need to do a separate update post on that front thanks to a birthday surprise.

Top patterns:
These would have to be Renfrews (merino versions saved my life during winter in the iceblock they call our work building), Cambies (for work, I’ve swiped SewSquirrel’s moniker of “Corporate Cambie” for my grey A-line version; my elephant version takes itself less seriously), Almas (a simple solution to work tops in late Spring), Thurlows (only one pair so far but Dressember distracted me, I’m wearing them today, Hello? no muslin needed!), Crescent skirts are weekend staples. Minoru Jacket – If only it would rain then I could wear it more. Seriously, I had been holding off on buying the latest Cordova Jacket and Hollyburn skirt patterns but have just placed my order. It’s silly to resist.

Fave Fabric:
all of it? Erm, 2012 could perhaps be dubbed the year of stash building. I spent a day after Christmas getting my fabric cupboard(s) in order. I *think* I have enough to keep me going for a while. My collection of elephant prints is growing :-)

Part of the stash

I made a dress in the week before Christmas and it’s too meh to wear. It’s the wrong combo of neckline, lack of waist definition, wrong fabric choice and was annoying to make. So it will go off to the charity bin and perhaps find a home that appreciates it more. The pattern will go in the giveaway pile methinks.

Plans for 2013?
I’ve thought about some sewing goals, and I’m not quite ready to commit to anything major, other than a freeze on fabric buying for January and then I will reassess. Notions, thread etc are OK to get a project finished. I have a wee pile of various linings already, but probably not enough zips.

Year of the Belt
The Almas reminded me that I used to wear belts a lot. And that I feel far more dressed when I do wear one. So 2013 will be the Year of the Belt. I’d like to make a leather one or two, some more self fabric ones. That’s enough of a goal.

What I learnt in 2012
In spring I thought I’d be clever and cut out a big batch of projects – some baby jumpsuits for the tiniest niece, Thurlow trousers, underpants, two shirts for Zac and something else which I can’t remember. And you know what? Rather than feeling all empowered and ready to sew, it nagged me. They loitered in the cupboard and on the sewing table and glowered at me “we’re not finished, we’re not started” and it really annoyed the beejeezus out of me. What has worked best in planning my sewing has been playing in my fabric cupboard and lining up patterns and fabric for a mini wardrobe or sewing sprint. That worked really well in Autumn/Winter and I made most of the planned ideas. So that is what I might do tonight. Or I might not. I cut out a shirt this morning before work…

Elephant Dress no#3 & 4 & 5?

When I spotted this elephant fabric I knew I needed some.

Elephant Plans

You see, when I was about 19 or so I made a favourite elephant dress out of some lovely soft rayon. Which I wore until it was well past its best. It was white elephants on black background – the sketch is a rough approximation of the design. At Spotlight’s 40%-off sale I saw the white on navy first, then the blue on cream cotton. Also there was a cream on pink on the mountain of stuff waiting to be put away near the counter. I was feeling restrained so only the navy was carted about the store while I made some other selections. While standing in the queue (for about 7 years, I think) my enabler dear friend J agreed that the pink was a good idea (building on a past New Year’s Resolution to “wear more pink”), so I went off to get that. Her visit to the “waiting to be put away mountain of bolts” netted a polar fleece with rabbits printed on it to make a throw rug for her sister. After finally making it to a counter and paying for my treasures, I realised that it would be sensible to also get some blue, just in case. After all, how often have I seen elephant fabric in the intervening years?

Over dinner with my parents I mentioned the excitement of finding fabric to replicate the elephant dress of my late teens and early twenties and Mum looked a bit bemused at my description of colour and fabric. Because, it turns out she was remembering the elephant dress as I had one when I was a lot, lot shorter, probably on a teal background she thinks. Obviously I need an elephant dress in my standard wardrobe!

Now I am well equipped for the next few years. In good company too – Karen of DidYouMakeThat made a Burda elephant top, Winnie of ScruffyBadgerTime has a pink elephant Violet and Roobedoo  made a Lisette elephant  tunic = They’ve all already been wearing their elephant adorned garments!

Lately, my aforementioned friend and fabric purchasing pusher and I have been getting together for Crafternoons to work on sewing projects. J has been working on a present for her sister, a shoulder bag with applique rabbits – a different rabbit and fabric on each side. I learnt that I pin my fabric way less thoroughly than she was taught, and she learnt that pattern tissue won’t burn if you iron it. It’s fun doing stuff together.

Rabbit Bags


Swimming in Fabric

I am now the proud and slightly embarassed owner of an Olympic pool’s length of fabric. Uh, we counted it all up. Not all in the one fabric thankfully, that would be boring. Now, I hold myself and my dear husband ultimately responsible for such a state of affairs. I must say a “thank you” to my enablers  as well – Sewaholic’s Tasia for asking “How Close is your nearest fabric store?” and Rachel of MyMessings for helpfully responding to my plea in the comments for tips about Melbourne with: “If it’s a weekday or Saturday morning that you’re free it’s worth getting the 19 tram up to Sydney road in Brunswick, on the same block that the Brunswick Spotlight is on there are 4 or 5 little independent fabric stores that have some nice fabrics. Then if you walk east along one of the cross streets about 10 minutes to Lygon street you can go to Rathdowne Remnants and GJs (which has quilting and dance fabrics, a little bit of nice fashion fabric, but might not be your thing), and then you can get the tram back down Lygon street. I’ve done that little loop a few times on a Saturday morning when looking for fabrics.
Oh and if you’re after formal fabrics, I discovered Franke Stuart in Hawthorn last weekend, it has some AMAZING fabrics there and seemed very reasonably priced. It’s a short walk from Glenferrie train station.

Oh, such wise words.

Combine that advice with a weekend in Melbourne a few weeks later and kaboom! My fabric cupboard overfloweth…

Click for larger images. First up a brocade. I think this will be a feature panel on a corduroy skirt. Then the assortment of fabric to make aforesaid husband an overcoat “like on Spooks“. We kept finding ones we liked better, finishing with a black wool blend flannel from Rathdowne Fabrics. Next up a textured vertical stripe knit in black (dress for me?) and some french terry in blue (PJs for the son). Then 3 stripey knits – dark merino for LS Tshirt for son (done!), cream/blue cotton wool for stroking making into something warm and stylish for me, black and white poly cotton for a Renfrew V neck with 3/4 sleeves (already sewn). Moving right along to the explosion of colour which is the Tshirt weight knits pile. Some more obviously for bright bike riding clothing, others for leggings and PJs, and others, perhaps even to be sewn as Tshirts. Then last but definitely not least. The colourful prints. I couldn’t decide between red or green ovals in a soft drapy knit, ‘both’ was the colour I went for, the red diagonal check and blue diamonds are both lycra. Possibly a skirt of the red check and some gym tops using the blue in panels? Can you tell I’ve been feeling starved for choice with knits lately? And a lovely border poppy print of lightweight cotton that has already become a birthday present skirt for my Mother-in-Law.

The Anita Skirt

The In-Laws collected us from the airport after this trip and sat around with us going through the fabric. My M-I-L held the poppy print in her lap while picking up and putting down others. As I hadn’t actually figured out what it was for when I bought it, it was obviously meant to be hers.

Note to self: it was a good move to buy the Japanese Men’s Coat/Jacket book and invite my husband to choose which one he’d like.

I think we have enough fabric to be getting on with.

We did do a lot of other Melbourne things too – drank coffee, went to Ikea (for a single table leg, if you must know), ate and drank at Movida’s Next Door bar, went to an opening – the 25 year retrospective of Peter Hill’s Museum of Contemporary Ideas (website), and spent lovely time with family.

Playing with Patterns

Over the past three months I’ve picked up some pattern magazines and have a few patterns also in my pattern box that haven’t yet been sewn. Having made a Kirsty shaped croquis (outline drawing) I decided to use some sketching to try some possible patterns on for style decisions. Click for larger images.

BurdaStyle 10/2011

BurdaStyle Magazine 10/2011
This magazine had a standout dress when I first looked through it – the wrap at the end of the top row. Lately my skirts have been made around high calf/ just below the knee and through the sketching exercise I realised the longer length of this pattern (it came in long, longer and longest) just wouldn’t work for me and raised it to just on the knee. Much better. I also rejected an oversized jumper (but found a good replacement at Victory Patterns below).

My Image Spring/Summer 2012

My Image Magazine Spring Summer 2012

This one you can see I spent more time playing with some colour block options with the diagonal lines of one of the dress patterns, and also with the idea of shortening it into a top which I saw at A Little Sewing. And adding sleeves. The trousers in the second row might be a good pleated work trouser.

Victory Patterns Selection

Victory Patterns Current Range

This sketch through some of this pattern line was prompted by a giveaway for 3 patterns somewhere in the blogiverse. It helped me choose Lola over Hazel. And realise I shouldn’t tuck a top into the Madeline skirt. Ever. And I added a longer sleeve to Chloe influenced no doubt by the arrival of autumn.

Discount Alert: Tilly has a 15% discount code at the end of her interview with Kristiann for Victory Patterns this weekend (Sat 24-Mon 26 March) link here

Would I do this again?

Definitely. It helped me see that some patterns may well suit me where I was unsure, and discard others without sewing a stitch.

Overall result

To sew in next six months or before I get distracted by other patterns and fabrics

  1. Burda wrap dress #123 in shorter length (teal knit already bought)
  2. Burda ruffle wrap top in useful work neutral.
  3. My Image M1202 as a weekend dress (not sure of fabric)and gym tops (plenty of knits in cupboard now)
  4. Victory Patterns Chloe dress in a lime green dot/stripe cotton already bought
  5. Victory Pattern Lola maybe in blue cream cotton wool knit already bought
  6. My Image M1208 trousers – grey wool blend suiting already bought