Monday, 30 June 2014

photos from a wedding

Driving out to the wedding last weekend (hired a car) it was hard to believe it was the winter equinox - it was so sunny and I thought I was going to get sunburned arms from driving into the sun the whole way there.

The wedding was lovely - the vows they wrote themselves had geek references and made this old romantic's heart go awwww. The venue was outside an friend's 1850's house way out on the outer edge of Sydney. Probably not quite in it to be accurate. (from LtoR: groomsman, groom, bride, photographer and bridesmaid)

Here's the lovely couple


With their cake (I got to eat the silvery bits)


and 3 of us a the other end of the marquee


It's been a long wait for their wedding - so it must seem even longer for them. Getting the visa approved (he's a canuck) took quite some time.  Wishing them all the very best things for their life together.

I have to admit I didn't even try to get the Lekala bolero sewn. I no longer want the stress of such a tight deadline sewing, so I'm going to have to learn some new time management for projects. I ended up going for more glamour - fur stole & hat - and cleavage to distract from my newer body shape (PCOS belly).

Thursday, 26 June 2014

stacking up my crochet squares

I've not been entirely unproductive, however it's my reading time that has suffered in the production of crochet squares. Here's 3 of the 10 dozen I'll need for my blanket.

I'm almost finished the 4th dozen, and thankfully doing a dozen at a time hasn't left me bored witless. As I'm only taking 1 ball of wool with me, last Thursday I ended up at the hairdresser having just finished 12 inners, and as I couldn't put my glasses on to read I got to 10 more inners and was about ready to scream from boredom. It helped me appreciate my plan all the more.

Once I've got all 120 squares I can decide if I'll use a darker purple to join them or not.

I've got a cold - or virus like that. Not asthmatic with it, yet.

vintage faux fur jacket to repurpose

I really want curly lamb (or astrakhan) collar & cuffs on my coat, and there's a really good quality rayon faux fur available ... overseas!

Instead I chose to bid for a vintage faux fur jacket on ebay, and I won the auction last night. Irritatingly, I can't get the image coding to work today, so until I get home and update you can copy & paste the address to a browser
http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/MTIwMFg5MzE=/z/cJkAAOxyaURThS5T/$_57.JPG

I was home sick yesterday, doing a good job of fighting a cold virus. Today I don't feel like the swollen glands are strangling me from the inside, and thankfully bid for the coat already as I dozed all day. Didn't watch TV/DVD nor read nor crochet. I made giant mugs of tea so I got out of bed less often. A friends gift of a novelty zombie head mug came in handy as it holds the equivalent of 2 ordinary mugs. The mug's theme reflected my own brainpan.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

1929 coat for winter (using Eva Dress #33269)

Back in May I decided to sign up for the PR outerwear comp, because I'd decided that this year I need a proper coat for winter. The past 6 or 7 years I've been using my dark ages kaftan - it's a single layer wool crepe. So definitely warm and drapes well but not what most people would recognise as a winter coat. Mind you nobody has spotted that it's a costume either, it's mistaken for an artsy style.

The pattern I chose is this 1929 coat from Eva Dresss #33269 and I bought the larger of the 2 sizes that it's available in as it's easier to grade down a tiny bit than up a few sizes. And as we're used to a looser fit compared to back in the day, I may prefer this as is.


Clearly I'm not going to get it done in time for the competition, because only today I cut out the pattern pieces at lunchtime, and also bid for a not-too-vintage faux fur jacket to recycle as the collar & cuffs. I'm going to cut out a mockup in a couple of fabrics I kept for that purpose, and see if I need to do more than narrow the shoulders a little (if at all). That and shorten it as I'm more dwarf than elf.

I'm still going to use 4m of wine red wool fabric from the stash, and remembered some nile green silk crepe de chine that I'm hoping is enough for the lining. I may need to line the sleeves with something else.

(edited to fix the picture coding)

Friday, 20 June 2014

Sewing ADD - or why is the next thing more interesting than the current project

I'm always thinking more about the next project (or the one after that) while I'm working on the current one. Possibley cos I enjoy research and making something almost more than wearing something new.

In 3 weeks I'm in a historical clothing fashion parade at a National Trust venue, for which I'm wearing my 1790s womens archery uniform (based on the Royal British Bowmen uniform jacket in the Manchester City Galleries). I've not yet even looked properly at my JAFA photos where this outfit debuted.

The weekend after that, I need a new costume for a friend's regency era dinner party. Complete with 3 removes for dinner. We all get to make something to bring so it's not a huge cooking burden on her, and as there's so much food vast quantities of each aren't needed even though there's 12 people dining.


In my UFO list is a 70% made open robe in the blue with black diamonds, back is already pleated & sleeves are ready to insert (hand hemmed sleeves even!). I've gone about this back to front, cos I now need to make the bodice lining and futz around drafting a 'waist' band based on the Janet Arnold or Blanche Payne's History of Costume open robes. I'm leaning towards making a simple round gown using the tufty/striped grey fabric - it tones better with the blue. Though I'm also tempted to make a black lawn gown. I've got the lawn, although it's tagged for another project. Maybe I should just make what I want/need and buy more if I ever get around to the black with blue trim roundgown.

Ooh, and I could finally motivate myself to make the jewellery I had planned for JAFA. Must get onto actually doing that.

And although I'm staying as an overnight guest, I can make my red cloak for a pretend arrival. Maybe.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

last minute sewing for a deadline - that's usual for me

I've been a last minute stitcher my whole life. Or at least since I started sewing when I was 11. These days I know the procrastination is due to a perfectionist streak. As long as it's not done, there's a chance of it being perfectly executed (or perfectly matching my inner vision). But once you've cut that chance diminishes. So once the deadline is almost right there, then there's no option but to simply do your best and cross your fingers for that perfect result.

If I hadn't been sick before & over the June long weekend, I'd have sewn this ensemble then. Plus also a top to go with it. But I spent time looking for the green silk - which is hiding from me.

What I'm making is quite different from the dress & bolero. Mainly because I can't find that silk. So instead I'm using the same draft skirt that I used for a goth cancan dancer costume a couple of years ago, that corset and the bolero remains. I found a too simple black top that I can add some beading too, and wear that under the corset.

Because Winter has Come, and the wedding is out of the city it's going to be very cold in the late afternoon and evening. So I'm using a cross woven English Super 200s Cashmere wool fabric. It's tiny squares of navy and burgundy, so reads as a shot purple. Delicious, fine quality and warm! Plus dark purple really does suit me, and at least I'll look as good as I can. Stash fabric, zip and thread, so that's great for my year of stashbusting for real.

I'm using a Lekala bolero #5853, but have emailed them as the sleeve width is 3cm narrower than my actual measurement, and there needs to be ease on top of that. I know how to alter the pattern to fit (only too well) but am surprised that the custom draft pattern doesn't match the measurement I provided. I didn't ask for the refinements of narrow shoulders, short waisted etc as another person who's similar to myself had a very hinky pattern when she included those details. I can quickly change that up, so long as the design and fit are pretty good on me. The mock up gets thrown together tonight - so I can sew it on Friday night. Yes, I have left it to the last minute.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

V&A exhibition (Undressed) coming to Bendigo July-Oct

Next month a new exhibition from the Victoria & Albert Museum opens at the Bendigo Art Gallery in Victoria which I'm really looking forward to. I've already got a trip planned with a couple of friends, meeting the Adelaidean there. We compared our busy schedules and found a weekend that all 3 of us were free and it's booked in my diary. Yes, we'll be wearing costumes to see it, though one insists we wear all the layers, and not just the underpinnings. So now I've got to think about what costume it will be - an old or a new?

Monday, 9 June 2014

[re] organising my costume jewellery

I had a small desktop set of 3 drawers that I had my jewellery in for a variety of costume genres. But it wasn't the solution I was anticipating.  The drawer would either hide what I wanted at the back, or the drawer would pull out and be a hassle to get back in without removing everything from all the drawers.  So I'm going to try this instead. I've tried to group like things together, and at least I can see at a glance whether something is here or plonked somewhere else and to abandon hope of finding it quickly.
I did include my assortment of mother of pearl buckles, and the square shell buttons for my lobster-bustle - don't want to risk losing them in my general sewing stash. That can be a scary place at times, as I have too much stuff.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

crotchetty and crocheting

I've been home sick with something of the gastro variety - possibly even a repeat of giardia. Anywhoo this time I had a raging high temperature for 5 hours and slept for the better part of 36 hours (waking for bathroom visits and not much else). I wasn't worth much - it took me 6 hours to make a coffee from turning the kettle on the first time, to drinking it cold out of hard hearted pragmatism.

I've no sewing progress to share, so I'll talk about a crochet wool blanket I've wanted to make for about 4 years. I roughly knew the colours I wanted (light green & lavender) and that it should be motifs rather than rows.  Practicality, because the one I made *cough* years ago got very bulky to carry around near the end. This way I can work on it on the bus or at work lunchtime, but only take 1 colour and batches of motifs with me not the whole blanket. After testing out a couple of ideas, I've gone for a netted granny square.

I didn't really get much done while home sick - too sick for all but marshmellow-brain non-challenging TV

The first sample I made was this one. (I've not blocked the squares so they could look prettier).



However, I didn't like it this way (not that I expected to) and wasn't sure what it was that niggled. So I looked back at my inspirations and they all had the lightest colour in the centre, so that's what I tried next. Along with balanced rows of colour.  I hadn't planned to use the darker of the 2 purples, but it was flat without it, so I undid the row of green and put in the darker.  What I love about crochet is that I don't mind undoing as it's so quick to do (compared to knitting. I'm a very slow knitter).

And yes, It's a keeper ... I'm working on the rest of the blanket now :D



I calculated that I'll need 120 of these (10 x 12) and will work in batches of 12, crocheting or darning any ends in as each batch is done so that it's not a monumental task by the end. That would lead to procrastination and avoidance.

Not likely to be finished by the end of this winter, but I'll get a good start on it, and will know how many more balls of wool to order from Bendigo Woollen Mills. Using Classic 8ply in Celery, Aster & Blueberry.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Celestial Sydney - Tea rooms and suffragettes

The Museum of Sydney currently has an exhibition called Celestial City: Sydney's Chinese Story, about the Chinese who migrated here starting in the 19th century and the difficulties that the White Australia policy had on them. Definitely a blot on colonial history, and even anglos would have had problems meeting some of the entry requirements that were in place at one time - a 100% accurate written dictation in *any* european language. However europeans wouldn't have been subject to the test. {shaking my head}.

Two Saturdays ago there was a lecture on the tearooms that sprouted up in Sydney, in the third quarter of the 1800s - leading the way was an entrepreneurial chinese migrant Quong Tart who moved here in 1880, aged 21. He saw a niche - importing tea and along with tearooms. There was a dearth of locations in the city that were suitable for women - public toilets for women were almost non-existent. His tea-rooms provided them, tea and reading rooms. The link with suffragettes is that the social structure of the time meant that women couldn't invite those of other classes into their homes, but a tearoom was open to all. So women's groups started meeting, literature and employment were early concerns that then lead to the start of the suffrage movement here. Quong Tart not only had a target market but a concern to stop the opium trade between here & China as he believed it was a scourge (my word choice not the curators). Migration was already off the table, politically, so he saw a chance for both anti-opium and suffragettes to assist each other's aims.  Sadly he died a couple of years before the opium trade was banned.

It seems he was a charmer, and popular with the clientelle - business dropped off a little after his marriage to an english migrant.

My friend and I caused a little bit of a stir when we walked into the lecture auditorium, and the MoS asked for our photograph downstairs to put on their website/blog. We happily agreed. This photo is at the entry to the exhibition itself.


Sunday, 1 June 2014

clicking on eBay's fabric offerings

I have to confess to buying 2x 2metre pieces of fabric (same fabric so 4m in total) to make one of my vintage dress patterns. I really need to maintain the momentum I got at the sewing retreat. Talking with one of my friends, I used to sew every night for about 20 to 30 minutes when I got home. Somehow I really got out of the habit, starting with the months I had glandular fever (the 2nd time). That was swifly followed by tennis elbow so I couldn't hold anything and I never really got back to including it in my daily routine. I no longer resemble the person a friend said "how can you do so much", as at the time I was studying shoemaking at TAFE and also going to a movie every Tuesday (about 50 weeks of the year).

Anywho, this fabric will be used for my Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge for 2014 - after my coat, wedding outfit and UFO shirts for work!

photos from the ASG sewing retreat

I thought I'd best share some photos of the weekend before I completely forgot to. Here's the outside of our sewing space.


and turning 180 degrees around the view was this, that sign you can barely see warns that the edge of a high cliff is close.

Here's the room where the 30 of us were set up, I placed my overlocker & sewing machine back to back and walked around the set up to use the overlocker - easier than moving the machines and their foot pedals.


The 2 winter skirts that I finished - am so disappointed that my PCOS belly has swollen up like this. I feel like I look pregnant, when I'm not! The accommodation is in the wings that surround this garden - the large "sewing" room is in a corner of the square. Decades of Style #3004, a favourite skirt pattern.
And this was taken almost a week later, in another park. (again sighing over my puku ng─ürara). This is a favourite Burda WoF pattern from December 2004, and a completed UFO.  I'd foolishly cut it out forgetting to add the seam allowances to my traced Burda pattern. So I had to cut another panel and insert it in the right side seam.  I over compensated and ignored my inner voice telling me to take half of it out. So part of the Sunday morning was spent unpicking 75% of the waistband, unpicking 1 of the 2 panel seams, narrowing the panel by half at the top & swooping it out again in the bottom quarter to mimic the shaping on the other side. Then overlocking the raw edge (I never overlock together), reseaming, and reattaching the waistband. I should never have ignored my inner voice.

Lastly, my pirate pants (KwikSew2529 with a longer leg).
I used up my remnant of pirate cotton knit, before I even made the yoga pants that I bought the fabric for (to wear around home). Hmm, I'm guessing that they're a missing UFO.