Friday, 28 November 2008

Still Alive and a Give Away

Hi everyone (she says, optimistically hoping ‘everyone’ hasn’t given up on her!). Boy I’ve really missed sewing and blogging the past few weeks. We have had a big couple of weeks at work, where everyone from our offices all around the world have flown in. We have had our staff conference, days on end of presentations and meetings, all culminating in a big industry event all day today. The preparations have been enormous and my section I have to say has been pretty hard hit, being responsible for providing statistics, performance figures and other information that’s needed to all these presenters – nightmare. That’s not to mention we are two people down in our team and likely to stay that way, thanks to budget cuts (don’t you love a change of government?). Oh yeah, I almost forgot, I was interviewed for my job last week! I am reasonably confident having actually done the job on contract for the past 7 months, and it will be nice to have a permanent job, but it is an extra stressor in my life that I would rather not have! So I apologise but I have just been TOO TIRED to blog (yeah yeah poor me – I do realise there are a lot of people worse off than I am, so don’t think I am a martyr!).

Anyway, I have been doing what I can, when I can – usually half an hour here and there so I have a couple of almost finished projects that I will be able to show you soon. I’ve also been planning again. Summer is coming (although you wouldn’t know it by the mild and rainy weather) and I have nothing office appropriate to wear.

I’ve recently been reading Jennifer Skinner’s blog ‘The Very Small Closet’, and I really like her ideas. You can get the full run down at her website, but essentially it is based around individual outfits, rather than fully interchangeable separates. This idea works for me for a couple of reasons:

  • I wear different styles of tops with different bottoms – for my body shape an empire line works with straight pants, a fitted T works with wide pants or a-line skirts and fuller styles of top work tucked into a pencil skirt.

  • I get bored really easily - I love bright colours but in small doses. I want green and coral and aqua and teal in my wardrobe but not together! In this plan I can have a wide variety of clothes that don’t have to all coordinate – as long as I can make two outfits from each bottom garment.

However, I still love looking at other people’s SWAPs!

So the very small closet principle consists of six bottoms, each with two tops, and up to six layering garments (jackets, cardigans or whatever). I will add to this three work appropriate dresses. This will give me three working weeks of outfits without repeating – that’s good enough for me! I have been through my existing clothes and thrown away everything that’s trashed, given away everything I hate, and packed away everything that I love but is too small (a depressingly large pile!) and I have pulled together enough outfits to start along with a clear list of priorities that need replacing!

It’s working pretty well so far and I kid you not when I say I am getting out of the house at least 15 minutes earlier every morning! I won’t be able to sew on a whim so much, but then I shouldn’t end up with so many orphans either. This plan doesn’t include casual or special occasion clothes, which I also need so I will definitely be busy! It will also keep my storage needs under control as it’s a one in – one out kinda deal. I am just hoping that work settles a bit soon and I am having some time off at Christmas so as always I’m optimistic.

Finally, I have a give away. I’ve noticed a few of these cropping up around the place and I am such a joiner! Australian Stitches is the one sewing magazine that’s easy for me to access. Burda is quite exclusive (I have to go out of my way to get it) and Patrones – no way (I’ve never even seen one in real life)! Each issue I buy comes with extra magazines and since I’ve been reading it for so long I generally already have the bonus issues. Here are two extra copies that I have and I am more than happy to find them a loving home. Simply leave a comment and I’ll draw a name at random on Tuesday night, the 2nd of December my time (which is 9 hours ahead of GMT – you do the math). I’ll cover postage to wherever in the world the winner is from so don’t be shy – I’d love to hear from you.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

I fixed it!

Thanks again for the encouraging comments on my ruffled top. I doubt I would have found the motivation to fix it if it wasn't for people urging me not to give up. I probably would have just thrown it in the bin. Boy am I glad now that I didn't. And the solution was incredibly simple in the end. I was inspired by kbenco's fabulous smocked solution to a bwof dress and here is the result:

Here's a close up:

And the back:

I might actually wear it now!

Since I've never smocked before I kept it simple. I ruled four lines in the appropriate place 1cm apart and used the stripes as a guide for gathering. Then I worked two rows of honeycomb stitch, following the instructions in my trusty Reader's Digest New Complete Guide to Sewing (aka my bible). I made a long tie belt, anchored it to the back of the pleats (on the inside) with a few hand stitches then passed the belt to the outside through buttonholes on either side of the smocked panel that are concealed by the ruffle. Here's a blurry close up of the smocking:

I didn't finish my Melbourne Cup dress yet, but it was so wintery last week I wouldn't have been able to wear it anyway. But here is my finished hat - sorry for the mug shot! Sadly I didn't win the competition - the popular vote went to the novelty hats - but I had fun anyway.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Melbourne Cup Hat

The Melbourne Cup is a huge deal in Australia. Of course it's biggest in Victoria, where they get a public holiday, but even all the way over here in Perth we get pretty excited. I'm not a big gambler, five years working as a croupier in a casino cured me of any urges of that nature I might have had, but even I will lay down a couple of dollars on cup day - just to be involved.

My work social club is putting on a lunch and there will be a hat competition. I thought I'd make one just for something different.

Here's what I started with - a mini pill-box hat made from sinamay, a bunch of feathers that came from a kit to make a hair clip, and some braid. I think I spent up to $25 tops. Everything came from Spotlight - that place can deliver sometimes even though the experience of going there is almost always a nightmare.

I started by sewing 5 ostrich plumes in a fan shape to the edge of the hat with the curve going over the base. Make sure you give each feather a good tug to make sure it's attached. If your sewing isn't secure the feathers will slide right out.

Here it is from the front. Apologies for the photos, it took me a while to twig that the hat is the same colour as my wall (is it weird that in the nearly four years I've lived here, the only room I've got around to renovating is my sewing room?)

And from the 'hat' side.
Next I sewed turkey feathers pointing downwards, I allowed them to twist a bit as I did it.

Then I added some stripped feathers to the ostrich feathers to give it more dimension.
Finally I added a sinamay flower to hide all my workings.

It's Cup day on Tuesday and while I would have loved to make a new dress, I am taking things really slow at the moment. Wish me luck in the competition! I have no idea what the prize is, I just like being part of it!

Oh yes, and a little bit of good news came today. I have an interview for my job - it's in two weeks. I think my mojo is coming back so I should be okay to make at least a garment, if not a whole outfit.

The Date Dress Disaster

Ok. So just when I thought I was back up and running, my sheer exhaustion comes back to haunt me again. On Thursday night I cut out my date dress, the dress I was hoping to wear for mine and my fella's two-year anniversary on Monday.

The pattern is one I've made before Simplicity 3678, the Threads collection knit dress. I'm not sure what the deal is with the threads dresses. I've made two of their coats and one of their skirts and they seemed true to size, but the two dresses I've made have been ginormous! I would normally cut a 12 with an FBA (sometimes) at the top and a 14 in the waist and hips, but in the threads dresses I can cut a straight 10! I found this particular style was big in the back too (my back is a little narrow). Here is my previous effort.

To prepare my pattern I took 3cm out of the centre back of the bodice and midriff piece. On the front skirt I took the 3cm out at the top, tapering it to nothing at the hemline and I made a 2.5cm sway back alteration. Hang on, what was that you say - the front skirt? Yes, I made all my back alterations to the front skirt! But I only noticed after I'd spent half an hour setting up my bloody overlocker this morning. Unfortunately I couldn't salvage the pieces and now I am one date dress short, but it's okay I'm sure I'll find something to wear and, after all, it's the company not the clothes that count most.

I can look back with humour now and I consider it a lesson learned about being aware of my own limits but at the time, let's just say I didn't have quite such an 'adult' perspective on it. I suppose it's one quick way of reducing my stash!

The Meatball Cardigan

Hi everyone,

Please excuse my absence. Work has been completely mental lately. We’re horrendously busy getting some big projects off the ground, plus we are short-handed by two people, who are not likely to be replaced in the near future. On top of that I am in the midst of having to apply for my own job, which is a peculiarity of working in the public service – at least in Australia, I don’t know about other places. It is starting to get on top of me and I’m feeling very stressed but never fear I am busy in my creative life too – it’s the only thing that keeps me sane!

Thank you for all the helpful suggestions on my ruffled top. Don’t worry I am not going to abandon it. You can probably tell from the post that I was feeling a little discouraged at the time. I have tried back darts but they didn’t work on their own, I think it will be a combination of back (and possibly front) darts and side seam shaping. I have the seed of an idea on a tie belt and it may also require some narrowing in the centre back (even though it’s my normal size it just seems too big). I promise I will work on it and will post the result, I just need to have a clear mind to do it.

I haven’t been doing any sewing, not only due to lack of time but I’ve been pushing myself to get a knitting project finished. And guess what? I’m not happy! My fella said I look like a meatball pizza. I wouldn’t go that far, but it doesn’t really suit my personal style. I became concerned about the bobbles while knitting it, but pressed on regardless. In hindsight I could have easily just done the lace pattern without the bobbles, but live and learn as they say! It actually fits really well and is comfy, so it will be perfect to throw on at work when the air conditioning gets a bit chilly. Maybe the bobbles will grow on me and I won’t feel quite so much like a clown in it.
The pattern is a Debbie Bliss pattern that was published free on the web, but I don't think it's available anymore. If anyone wants a copy, I'll be happy to send it if you just drop me an email. I did a search for the pattern and came up with this link which shows the cardigan made up without bobbles, it looks really nice.
The cardigan is knit in one piece. You do one front and sleeve, then the other front and sleeve, join them together, knit the rest of the sleeves and down the back then knit on the bands. Finally you sew the underarm seams and that's it. Aside from having to knit with a lot of stitches, it's really very easy.
Here it is before sewing up.
The mitred corner on the front - I could not find a satisfactory way to work the increases here so it looks a bit rough.
Here's the 'meatball' pattern up close.
My posting this project has been delayed a couple of days due to the photos of me wearing it. I looked so tired and cross that when I saw them I seriously considered getting botox! I guess, the whole work thing is wearing me down a bit so I'll make more of an effort to relax so I don't start to frighten people! Anyway, here are some new photos, taken today (Saturday) so I don't look so tired and cross.
I have set a huge goal for myself this weekend to make a date dress (cut out already) a work dress for Melbourne Cup day and a hat for a Melbourne Cup lunch. I have all the materials and as long as I can convince the fella to have a boys night on at least Friday or Saturday I think I’ll be okay. After that I will need a job interview outfit – I know everyone at work already knows what I look like but any excuse right?