Saturday, 30 December 2017

replacing my laundry hamper lining

The lining on my laundry hamper got shabbier than I'd like, so it was time to make a replacment.  This time not from unbleached calico but a yellow and white stripe cotton twill.  I originally got a different fabric but realised that I was procrastinating because I just didn't like it as much.  I'd gone to Spotlight with a friend who was looking for Grinch fabric (which ended up out of stock) and realised that they had a sale so grabbed the stripe as well as some bargain blockout lining that I need. $14 down to $4, yes please I'll take 6 metres of lining at that price.

The hamper lining is very simple. A tube to fit the widest part of the tapered basket, gathered onto a circle slightly larger than the base inside.  The previous one I made had an elastic casing under the outside lip to stop it from slipping inside but that wasn't as effective as I'd hoped.  So this one has tape n each side that ties through the handles to help prevent the liner from getting dragged down inside. There's also a ridiculously long edge so that it doesn't slip inside at one point and drag the entire liner inside ... which happened a few times with the old one.

I covered the lid also - a circle with an elastic bias tape casing on the edge.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Non-garment sewing wishlist for the xmas hols

I realised this morning that the list I posted yesterday was short, because the non-clothing items were missing.

I bought a folding frame knitting bag at an op shop and have fabric to replace the bag.  I got a quilted cotton bedcover (king size) to make a fitted cover for my chaise. I might need to sew that one on my treadle. I need to make a pattern and play pattern tetris with the cover. It's currently draped over the chaise and fitted cover would work so much better.

Make block out curtains for the lounge - or add block out lining to the existing curtains.

Hem the sheer cotton lawn so that I can hang it in my bedroom window and not worry about the neighbours in the next building watching me from their lounge/balcony.

AND one of my friends made me a loom bead bracelet that I love wearing but as it's a wonder woman one it doesn't go with everything. So despite my strong dislike of hand sewing I've ordered a bead loom, have the delica beads and am going to make myself a strawberry bracelet to wear with my strawberry dress. I want to make more bracelets too, but we'll see how the first one goes.

Even when I wasn't overweight, women's watch bands and bracelets didn't fit me - hence a self description of "shetland pony in human form" due to my short & stocky frame. I love bracelets, and delicate ones don't suit me. So the beaded cuff works really well.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Overly ambititious sewing plans for the xmas break

The office I where I work closes for 2 weeks every Xmas. It's not usually my idea of a fun time to go away - hot + school hols. Unless I'm going somewhere they're unlikely to be.

I had come up with grand ideas to sew all.the.things. La Nina was predicted so yes it would rain, but it would be cooler.

Ahem, xmas eve is due to be the fourth 40C or higher in 9 days before xmas. Saturday hit 43.7C, tomorrow is forecast to be 43C and Wednesday 42C Ugh. If it continues over the break I may invite myself to friends' with air-con or up the cooler mountains.

Planned are to finish the November dress, start/finish the December dress. Make a full slip*; anti-chafe wide stretch lace thigh garters to see if they work for me (inspired by Bandalettes but without involving international post); an unwired sports bra to use as a sleep bra; actually two different ones, using MakeBra Ulla as the bodice of a dress-length clone of a nightie that's too short to wear outside (to the clothesline not shopping nor socially). Plus whip up a dress for January.

So yes, ambitious if the weather is favourable, and that now seems to be unlikely.

* from either of these two patterns

Monday, 11 December 2017

December dress plan

I'm not sure why I'm twitching to sew the rayon print, but I have been.  Black in summer - what's wrong with my brain.

So this is the combination I'm going for, though I shall change the sleeves cos my upper arms are the thing I always try to cover/hide.

Friday, 17 November 2017

November dress plan

I'm flip flopping between making the vintage aqua cotton or the rayon print of blue flowers on black.

I'm leaning towards the cotton, so the next decision is the pattern. I'm tempted to wait for #4936 to arrive but instead will frankenpattern #9039 bodice, with 3/4 sleeves. As soon as I've finished the mermaid (July) dress then I can franken pattern and cut out my November dress.

Monday, 6 November 2017

January (Lost at Sea) dress revisited and getting closed to finished. Again.

This dress seemed to have limped along until I finished it at a sewing retreat in May - when I was very disappointed that it just didn't fit. I don't have a photo to share or I would, of the first version where I look like I'm a child playing dress ups cos it's a size too big everywhere, and after I tried to take in the bodice enough for me to be happy.  Not only was it still too large, with the neckline not a clear V shape to suit me but the sleeves were too long, and the underarm too low.

I ended up completely recutting the bodice after buying more fabric. I did unpick the sleeves and recut them - the finished edge of the old sleeve is the new cutting line, along with the header showing how the armscye was too low for me.

The yoke placement that I took so much care over got completely omitted, and the collar is from 9137 instead without the bows at centre front.  In fact the finished dress will look like this if it was button through to the hem (though the skirt is fake buttons).

Tonight I'm hoping to cut/fuse interfacing to the facings and under collar, and finish assembling the bodice.  I didn't unpick the waist seam on the badly fitting dress, instead simply cut the seam off forgetting to rescue the loop for my security pass. So I also need to make another loop, and If I get the bodice done quickly, then for the 3rd and final time I can repleat the skirt to the bodice and insert the zip.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Insomnia resulting in etsy searches and another chance for half size pattern 4936

In May last year I was so disappointed when an Etsy seller contacted me to say the pattern I'd ordered was missing and refunded my purchase.

The last couple of days my brain has woken me at 5:30 am (horrible, foolish brain) and yesterday I used the extra time to start folding laundry and clearing up my sewing mess on the table/sofa so that it's neat & tidy before starting sewing again.

Today I wasn't as productive and instead got my tablet out and looked up vintage mail order patterns on Etsy again.  I found another copy of 4936 and made myself think hard about buying it.  Yes, I did.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

More half size patterns added to my stash/collection

It's been a while since I updated my half size pattern stash, and here's two of my most recent purchases.

This Marian Martin  9137 arrived in the post a couple of months ago - a sop to my desire to sew.  Once I use it I should get a photo of me posing like the cover.

Today I ordered this Simplicity

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

November July Dress already cut out

Editing this post cos I picked/named this dress in July when I cut it out.

I cut this dress out about 3 months ago on a meeting room table after work - and my statement that the print is NSFW (not safe for work) amused the two colleagues who walked past and wanted to see what I was doing.  I may dress less conservatively than I did in the past (lobster print and strawberry dresses) but I'm not sure they knew that I completely grasped the NSFW filter.

I'm using the same pattern as the strawberry dress, but cut slightly shorter to fit onto the 5 yards - yet again a one direction print means a less frugal layout.  I was also very careful how the mermaids were placed on the front & back bodice pieces. I don't want to end up with a starfish placed on bust point!

I got the microdot in navy/teal for the undercollar. Not only do I like the visual contrast, fabric yardage was tight.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

October dress is finished

I don't have a full length picture as yet - I'll have to figure out how to set up a timed photo on my phone.  I'm really happy with it, and it's had a lot of appreciation from my colleagues - including from strangers in the lift. I remembered to snap a pic on the train at the start of my commute.

I had to seam the centre back of the upper collar as it's a 1 direction print and I didn't want an upside down cat/bowl on one side.  I carefully placed the upper collar so that there's a cat+bowl in the same spot on each lapel and didn't add a button as it would have looked awkward with this print.

Thankfully I got this finished within 2 weeks of the fabric arriving - as that was a self imposed condition of buying it.

Monday, 30 October 2017

getting back to sewing - an almost finished October Dress

It took me longer than expected to reshuffle the bed & sewing rooms, as I ended up buying a long neglected art deco bed and restoring it as part of the drawn out process.

I'm also looking at my options for 3rd party photo hosting as I'd used Photobucket for over 10 years and they suddenly changed their conditions of use. They're entitled but the complete lack of advance notification, and the dramatically higher than others annual fee ($US400 vs $US40-50) means that I'm going elsewhere.  I know I'm not going to use flickr.

In the past week I've cut out and almost finished a dress - that I'm intending to wear tomorrow.

The fabric is skeleton cats playing with skeleton goldfish bowls.

The pattern is a revisit of mail order 4866, with a pleated skirt, not gores.  This time using the bodice pieces of the strawberry dress as the lobster print dress is a size too big even after taking it in!

I'm making and wearing it an admittedly eccentric In Memory of my father.  That it was a difficult relationship because he was an alcoholic makes it no less sad that he died young - 30 years ago today.

Sewing is so therapeutic - I feel happier for having made something that's worked out.  It's giving me the motivation to finish the tattoo print, and start making my NSFW mermaid print dress.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Switching sewing and bed rooms on the horizon

I originally thought I could sleep in the small room & sew in the large one, but after being here 8-9 months I've completely changed my mind. The switch hasnt happened yet, partly cos there's still some unpacked boxes of sewing "stuff". Scary boxes of a mix of notions, unfinished projects and who knows what cos I shuddered and closed them. I need to put my big girl pants on and just start going through them.

I'll need to downsize from 5 to 4 single door cupboards for the fabric, and it works out as one got damaged in the move so lowest half is unusable anyway.  How I plan to decide what to get rid of is to work in reverse. I'll pick the top 10 in each fabric category, put them in the cupboards, then pick the next ten favourite in each category. Repeating until the cupboards are full, and what is left is the less loved pieces.

 The bench top i was going to add legs to for a sewing will be too long for the smaller room, so I'll soon visit IKEA and get the kids desk Pahl as it's height adjustable and the middle height is ideal for short me. It's 128cm by 58cm, so not quite the 140cm wide that I was going to get that would then also need adjustable legs. Getting it all in one is more affordable and simpler to assemble.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Cutting out the July mermaid dress.

I would be finishing the martini print but the bodife front pieces are sewn & hiding in sewing stuff. With the pattern piece or I would simply recut & sew.

The mermaid fabric has been insisting that it should be next. Even though I need work dresses, I'm listening to the mojo and cut it out this week. The pattern is the same as the strawberry print because not only was that always the plan but I know it fits. As its a single direction print, and 5 yards is shorter than 5 metres by 20cm the skirt has to be 5cm shorter. I've little wriggle room how I place the front bodice, so I'm going to play with it to ensure there isnt an awkward placing of mermaid boob on my bust point. Not a starfish either.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Demoralising dresses that didn't fit.

I've been training my left foot on the sewing machine pedal. Both the lobster print and Lost at Sea dresses are finished, but only the lobster is wearable.

Foolishly both dresses were a size too big, and too long in the torso and didnt realize until they were finished.

The lobster: after taking out the zip and removing the skirt i was able to alter the bodice enough to wear it. I had to increase all the vertical darts & the back almost appears to be princess seamed. It also needed to be shortened 2cm across the back, and 4cm for most of the front. After reattaching the skirt + zip its wearable tho not ideal. I forgot to add a loop in the waist seam to hang my work security pass from, and fixed that after wearing it a couple times. I need to get a decent photo or two and post them.

The Lost at Sea is a sorrier case. The same bodice issues as the lobster, but similar fixes haven't helped enough. So disappointing that it is still a size too big. As the ship motif is on the back, I didnt want to incease the vertical darts as per the lobster's back as it would break up. The sleeves are too long, and I could tell there was something hinky with the collar area. A second opinion was the collar isn't too small, the neckline is too filled in by the curve and it needs to be a sharper V. Pluss a size too big.

The thought of removing the zip and skirt a second time was bad enough. I can shorten the sleeves about 4cm easily, and gritted my teeth at the idea of taking out the sleeves and recutting the sides down a size. Where my unpicking stalled was the neckline. The buttonholes are already made so I couldn't finesse the new shape to be what I need. So I uttered some profanities, tossed the dress across the room and ordered more yardage from the states from the same seller. Hopefully its a close enough dye batch cos I'm making a new bodice & collar, reusing the existing skirt & shortened sleeves. Hoping it arrives in the next week so I can wear it soon.

Edited to add that I just gave myself the horrors cos I couldnt remember if I'd changed my address on etsy, and there's just enough time for it to already be on the way back to the states from my old address. Heart attack avoided cos its heading to my new home and it may have sat in Sydney from Monday to 4:58pm on Friday doing nothing, but I should get it next week.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

So long without sewing [so another vintage pattern]

My ridiculous ankle sprain/plantar fasciitis has been looping around and around for so many weeks it started to feel perpetual. Every time it was close to going away, it didn't. I now have so many different exercises and stretches that it amuses me.

Anyway, I managed to use my left foot on the pedal and am a whisker away from finishing Lost at Sea. The buttons and overlocking the armscyes.

I'm taking it and my 3 other half made dresses to a 3 day sewing retreat this weekend. I have to remember to pack every thread and notion as the nearest sewing shop is a half hour drive away ... and I dont have my own car. I also need to patch the strawberry dress thankfully its a small tear at a button, so wont be visible once mended.

If I can quickly put my hands on my hello kitty nightie I'll finish it on Friday and sleep in it that night. Plus take some lingerie & lingerie bags to cut out and sew if I run out of dresses to complete.

Some self control helped me not shop for vintage patterns or fabric as a sewing substitute, though I bought two last week. The first arrived today and I got for the collar/neckline which will get frankenpatterned onto another vintage dress, the size 50" bust will be too big everywhere but the bust. The brand is Sew-easy.

Monday, 27 March 2017

I used to joke that sunshine rots the brain ...

Years ago when I worked in a call centre (which I'll never do again), I used to joke that sunshine rots the brain (the way it does curtains). We've had almost a month of rain (one sunny Sunday in the middle) and I'm sure it's not just my feet that are about to become webbed.

Yesterday I headed off to my friend's place to sew, and it was a gloriously sunny day. I was zoned out on the bus from the station to her place and suddenly realised that I'd gone past her place (we'd pulled up in front of a train station that's about 10 minutes after her home). So I leapt out of the bus thinking "where am I, what am I doing" and as the bus pulled away realised that my sewing machine tote with machine, 4-5 vintage patterns and the Lost at Sea dress was still on the bus. I had the lobster print in another small bag, so I waited for the bus back to my friend's and asked the driver where the bus depot was for lost property.

Thankfully, this morning when I called the wheelie bag was there and the driver & office couldn't understand how anyone could forget such a heavy bag.  She hadn't looked inside it yet, and I could hear her saying "yes, it's a sewing machine!" and laughing. Luckily they hold it for 3 months, so I have plenty of time to collect it. Naturally, it'll be collected this week.

So, perhaps yes sunshine does rot the brain, though I'd claim that lack of it for a month was the real issue or I wouldn't be like a bunny in the headlights at it's mere appearance.

I worked on the lobster dress, and it's getting much closer to finished. I need to turn & press the collar, interface the back neck facing and assemble the facing.  The sleeve seams need finishing but are otherwise complete, and ready to insert. The skirt seams are sewn and need finishing. So thankfully I can get back to working on Lost at Sea so that I don't have to change the overlocker thread to dark and then back to light again.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Sewing on Sunday, regardless

My foot is slowly improving - it's getting another torture treatment tonight and again on Monday.

I've planned to go sewing again this Sunday anyway and this time I shall make sure I stick with using my left foot on the pedal. I'd love to get at least one of these dresses finished. The Lost at sea is close, and the Lobster is also nearish enough. I won't take the oldest dress so that I can focus on these two.

I gave away a Morris chair that I'd bought about 20 years ago intending to restore. It was Queensland maple, with dreadful 1970s orange and brown plaid upholstery (and with solid sides).  It physically didn't fit in my new home, and I no longer have a storage space so it needed a new home. I wanted it to go to someone who at least wanted it, and as a freebie. One of my friends noticed it and asked what it was (I had it standing on the front so it took the least space). She loved it, so I gave it to her ASAP.  She even has leather in her stash that would look superb instead of the plaid.

I'm instantly going to use the space in my lounge to put up my dining table. The table top's permanent home will be on top of back to back drawers in the sewing room, as a cutting table. The legs are easily stored.

With the table set up in the lounge while I binge watch some TV shows I can fold fabric to store it more neatly in the cupboards, The fabrics will take less space so I can move some of the pile off the floor and into a cupboard.  I'll also use the table to open boxes of sewing "stuff" and spread it out to cull/organise it.

Once more of the existing "too much sewing stuff" is in a useful state (or donated) then I can set up the sewing bench for my machines. The previous sewing Sunday was productive and I came home with a 170cm x 60cm x 4cm bench from a kitchen refit.  My friend had collected an entire cupboard/bench set to use in her craft room and took this last bench "just in case". In one of our many conversations I'd mentioned a trip to Ikea with another friend (to escape driving in a bad storm) in which I'd looked at long narrow benches for my sewing room. It was one of those meant-to-be things, as the bench top she didn't want or need is exactly the size I need. I still need to buy 5 or possibly legs for it, so there is at least one along the back edge. My vintage sewing tables can fold down, and be kept for sewing days with friends. I plan to have a few of them once the sewing room is visitor friendly.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Return of the manky foot

It feels like the achilles tendonitis and the subsequent plantar fasciitis will never completely go away. Two weekends ago the ankle gave a small whinge, and the pf might not have been more than a whisper, but I saw Kasabian at the Opera House the Wednesday after & had to stand if I wanted to see anything ( because the rest of the audience stood).

My sewing day was probably the final straw as by Wednesday it was very painful. I saw my foot person on Friday and it's strapped up and improving. Treatment is agonising, as I said to her this hurts more than my wallet. I'm going to have to use my left foot on the pedal, and set up my vintage Bernina Record 730 (aka Baby) with the knee lever  instead of foot pedal. I bought that when I first had pf, as even a single seam would set off days of pain.

My mantra of "bodies are weird" continues to be true.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Rounding up my dress-a-month fabrics

So that I don't have the same "oops where's this month's fabric choice" I've started putting all the dress-a-month fabrics that I spot in one single place - at the moment the end of my chaise lounge.

I have the chocolate with mint, mermaids and blue flower sprays on black. If I can't find the vintage fabric I could switch to the blue flowers on black and 9030 (with extra skirt width by pleats/darts). Way way back when I made a rough plan it was my April choice so this would be early. Also, it would push me towards switching the overlocker to dark. Incentive to finish the February and the poor sadly unfinished March 2016 dress so that I can stay with dark on the overlocker (martini, lobster, blueflowers, mermaid).

February [Lost at Sea} dress progress

I had a really productive day at my friends. First I used her white overlocker (she has one set up with white thread and a second set up in dark blue) do finish every possible edge of the Lost at Sea dress.  Then I overlaid the yoke on the bodice front and edge stitched that in navy.

Then I sitched the under bust darts; pressed all the bodice darts so I could stitch the shoulder seams; stitched those seams and made the sleeves. I also got the skirt side seams stitched, and cut out the interfacing for the front bodice facing. Reminded myself that I need to interface the fake skirt front to support that keeping shape and the uncut buttonholes etc.

I tidied all that up and got out her dark blue overlocker, where I finished all the edges I could for the martini dress (where is the bodice fronts? and button/zip) and all the edges I could of the lobster dress bodice/sleeves. I would have done the lobster skirt also, except those seams aren't stitched yet. I'm going to do those tonight.

I was also going to mock the bodice for my next dress, but as I couldn't locate the fabric in the disaster zone that's my sewing room, I decided not to spend any energy on that. I swear that for weeks it's been sitting on top of a fabric pile mocking me. After chatting we came to the conclusion that it's in a corner of a pocket universe with the buttons/neck band/front of the martini dress. If I ignore them they might appear!

Unrelated to clothing I have a single curtain I made in 1988 for the bedroom I had in Surry Hills. It was a narrow window so I only needed a single drop. I've loved wistaria for a very long time, and Sanderson UK had a cotton sateen with rose/wisteria so I splashed the cash. My very first ever job after school was in a custom curtain workroom of a furnishing store. I'd finished high school with good results was told I was "too qualified" for an office job. I think they thought I'd quit and go to university, but I was very shy as well as introverted in those days. Definitely lacked the confidence to do it without any family support - emotional if not financial - and that would never happen. Leaving to go to another city for uni wasn't the issue, but the "you can do it" encouragement.

Anyway back on topic, I spent 2.5 years making curtains, so I made a full length drop and lined it which saved the it from sun damage. I kept that single curtain since mid 1990 even though I had no use for it. Wisteria!!!  The print is definitely dated and there's more wisteria than rose, and it's in very good condition. I've realised that it will make new cushion/bolster covers for my chaise and chair. I even have piping cord somewhere, and long white zippers that I can also use. This isn't a priority unless I need a simple hit for motivation or feel good factor.

Friday, 10 March 2017

oopsie, also known as dyeing didn't go as planned

Here's the before of the gaudy blanket, after rinse/spinning so that it's damp for dyeing. It's no more nor less in your face than when dry.

Then I added the gray dye, and should have listened to my gut feeling of dissolve it in hot water likewise the salt. I didn't because the instructions I skimmed for dying in the machine said not to ... but of course in a top loader then you can add the hot water to agitate before adding the item. My machine also is water conservative, so I switched wash settings a couple of times to increase the wash part of the cycle to about 45 minutes.   The grayed green is exactly what I want, however it's not an even colour ... in real life I don't mind it so much but in the photo it's a bit embarrassing.  Ah well, I've never wanted to live in a pristine Vogue Living style even though this is a bit further away from that than I'd like.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Sewing Sunday this weekend

I'm going to a friend's this Sunday for a sewing day, so I'm taking my Lost at Sea to finish, and the March dress pattern to mock up the bodice. I need to remember to overlock everything I've already sewn before then, to make the most of stitching time - and the machine is already set up in the right colours (white/pale grey).

Tonight is an adventure in dyeing. A few weeks ago I bought a sea-green cotton blanket as a throw for my chaise lounge (and a marine blue for the armchair cos I don't want them matchy-matchy). I'd looked around and this seemed a better colour option than anything I'd found by then and they were on sale - the flat rate shipping was cheaper and significantly less hassle than catching 2-trains-plus-a-bus each way from my place to Kogarah on the weekend.

The blue is ideal, but the sea-green is a tropical clear in your face hue like the bright lines in the ocean photo below, and it doesn't make me happy. It doesn't blend with the chaise or curtains so the plan is to overdye it with a gray just enough to take the edge off. Fingers crossed that the fabric hasn't reached dye saturation point or the gray won't take.  I've been watching the weather forecast for a couple of weeks to find a rain/shower free day so that I can dry it easily. Tomorrow is supposed to be one, so I'm dyeing it tonight & hanging it on the shower rail until tomorrow morning. Must remember to get salt before I get home.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

March dress plan: vintage aqua abstract + 9392

My work is relocating later in March and I'd mentioned to a couple of colleagues that I had the ideal fabric to go with the colour scheme in the renovated floor in the new building.  So I'd like to have this to wear on my first day in the new building ...

I like this bodice, and will do a quick mock up to see how high that neckline is. I'll probably have to move it down a little, as too high a neckline doesn't work with the family chest. I like the skirt also, but will add more pleats to the back skirt so long as I have enough of it.

The forecast but abandoned plan for January would also work, however I think that pattern will take more altering to fit, so I'll possibly make that in April.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

sewing progress

I didn't get any pretty pictures, but I've sewn all the first pass seams on Lost at Sea, and need to do some overlocking before I can attach the front yoke. The yoke is overlayed with an edge-stitch onto the front bodice, rather than seamed right sides together. The yoke seam allowance is pressed under, and I may not need to do more than pink the edge, and overlock the bodice edge so that it doesn't fray like crazy. I remembered to cut the upper collar in two pieces, and it's not easy to see but the swallow is at the same on each side, easily too thanks to the gridded cutting mat. Not a quality photo, but it's the one I have.  The selvedge will be in the seam allowance & trimmed back, so it's not an issue as I carefully measured before I cut. The undercollar is in one piece so that's what counts.

I remembered to cut out the interfacing (found it in stash) for the collar and back neck facing, but completely overlooked cutting out the front facing. I'll get around to that this week.

I couldn't resist buying some fabric, the surprise is that I bought none for two months so it's my first for the year. Almost unprecedented given that I've been to fabric shops for thread/zips.

I got enough for 1970s wrap dress pattern I keep meaning to use. I couldn't resist as it's a viscose, and colours I can wear. I just don't do poly as I overheat in it.

I also have a case of sewing room envy - and my room isn't even close to being organised yet. I keep finding non-sewing stuff to cull and clear out. I saw a newly set up sewing area on a FB sewing group I recently joined, and immediately wanted the long bench for sewing at. My vintage sewing tables were ideal for my old home, as they were on opposite walls, but now I'm better off with a long bench so I can move from sewing to overlocking more easily. I ended up at IKEA today - friend was taking me to pick up a lampshade elsewhere, and we wanted an escape from driving in a deluge. The desk used by the FBer was too long for my space, and I don't want to cut it even if I could iron on new edging myself. Other tables are too wide, but the PS2014 outdoor table is the right width and depth. I'm hoping it's strong enough for my Janome and overlocker, but I can always replace the legs with others. Having this to look forward to may motivate me to keep working on culling and organising.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

A small but handy win

I'm a little bit excited at finding the martini dress pattern this morning.

I moved a decorative mirror that's leaning against the wall until I get some non permanent hooks to hang it.  There was the ziplock bag with the pattern. I've not yet checked if the neckband pieces are in it or with the missing cut out bands.  So it may not be a complete win .... still a great find.

Also behind the mirror was a USB,  which I think is the missing one with my fabric stash spreadsheet. I'll see if it is when I get home from the sewing guild group. I haven't been since September. I tried in November but counted Saturdays wrong,  so it was a sad/stupid moment when I saw a quilting group of strangers not my peeps.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Vintage buttons for Lost at Sea

I raided the stash for a zip, and begrudgingly settled for a white zip. I don't have a pale blue thread, which I find hard to believe. I have a memory of being so excited when this fabric arrived that I raided the stash for thread + zip. I know that I had them, but they weren't with this fabric. Mind you I hadn't put them all in a ziplock bag together so it serves me right. I have another "current season sewing" box to look in before I buy thread.

When it came to buttons I looked first in the gift bag labelled 1940-1965.

Thank goodness there's enough of this navy ridged button, plus it's the right size. The ridges are reminiscent of the lines in the background and ship so it's a clear winner.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Note to self: stitch the collar longer, and the upper collar

I'm writing this here to increase my chance of remembering when I'm at home.

I have a broader neck than average, so I cut the neckline of this dress wider. I remembered to cut the back neck facing wider, but not the collar, so I'll need to reduce the seam allowance on the undercollar to compensate.

I haven't cut the upper collar out yet, as I decided that rather than have one end with an interest point and the other end without as the length of the collar piece just doesn't work that way with this print, no matter where I moved it on the piece of fabric left for it.

So long as there's a CB seam on the collar, I think I can cut them with a swallow on each point, and both facing in the same direction.  I'll need to make two half collar pattern pieces to ensure that the layout doesn't overlap before I start cutting. I could chalk one and then flip for the other end, but to be honest it's no harder to cut two pattern pieces.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Trying to make the February dress sneakily safe for work

I managed to avoid the extremely hot Saturday by going to stay with a friend who has air-con. Friday was hot enough, but Saturday got to a crazy 46.9C or 116.4F. Yes I'll admit that I've become a little obsessed with the heatwave this summer. This is that day's low / high.

I'm so glad that I don't know what that feels like, cos both times I've sweated through 45C with no air-con it was more than hot enough. She was actually going out on Saturday, and had no problems with me staying and sewing (or even just sitting & reading).

I took my lobster dress to sew if my back was OK with it, and it was whingy enough that I felt it best to let the ligament heal a little more before stitching. Part of me grumbled as she has an overlocker set up with black thread. However getting it out of the wardrobe and moving it could have been much more trouble than it was worth in this instance. Instead I slowly worked my way through cutting out the February Lost at Sea dress. 

It was obvious that Lost at Sea is an one directional print so I had to carefully cut it out with a nap style layout. The pleated skirt was going to be the main issue, as I typically top and tail the side front and side back pieces (sliding one down as otherwise they'd overlap. I might not be phrasing this clearly). I decided to cut the bodice & sleeves out, and other than the collar & front facing which didn't fit, the overall layout had very little wastage. Then I measured the remainder (308cm) divided by 4 and at 77cm, this was about 3cm shorter than the strawberry skirt. So I got the CF and CB cut out from a 77cm each, and the collar fitted next to the side front and the front bodice facing next to the side back.

Remarkably few scraps, especially when I tried very hard to not have the mermaid's "assets" clearly on the bodice, in the hope that although they couldn't be avoided in the skirt, if they weren't obvious on the bodice I could wear the dress to work.  On the back neck her chest will hopefully be covered by the collar, and on the front it'll be in the yoke's seam allowance.  Sadly I didn't notice the right front has a mermaid that isn't under the arm ... we'll see how the darts go.  I'm also hoping that an anchor isn't on target at a bust point.  If it is, then it'll be weekend or social wear only.

I cut the skirt out so that the dress looks like a fake button through - there will be buttons, but it will be sewn as an interfaced fold/pleat, with buttons sewn through all 3 layers.

I hadn't noticed until I got home on Sunday and looked at the half size pattern #4685 that it's a false button through. My reason for looking at it was to see the skirt facing width, except it has no facings. I'll be doing more than 2 false button holes/buttons on my dress.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

February dress plan: Lost at Sea nautical print + 4803

Hopefully I'm back on track to making a new dress each month this year. My easy choice for February - because I committed to sewing it for Canberra is the vintage nautical print cotton, and the bodice from the half size pattern 4803.

I could do yet another FBA directly on [a copy of] this pattern, but as I've just done one for my January lobster dress so I'll morph the collar & yoke details onto #4866

Thursday, 9 February 2017

It might be useful having corsets in the wardrobe

I thought I'd pulled a muscle in my back moving furniture on Saturday - so the delivery guy had a clear run through my lounge for my washing machine & new fridge.

However, it turns out it's ligament damage which has (for want of a more technical phrase) displaced a rib. Like any ligament issue it takes 6-8 weeks to heal and compression will help, so I'm hoping my candy cane corset is in the unpacked turquoise suitcase. That's not unpacked cos there are boxes of sewing stuff in front of the built in wardobe in the sewing room. The silver suitcase with costume stuff is inside the wardrobe, so I'm not going to get to that.

Sewing aggravated the pain, so I had to stop working on the lobster dress which is frustrating, but assuming I can find one of my corsets then it should support the ribs enough to do things.  If I'm having a full sewing day - where I'm sitting at the machine for hours, rather than getting up & down doing things - then I put on one of my historical corsets as I instantly adopt a better posture, and don't hunch up.

I just wish it wasn't going to be a record temperature average for February, because I plan to put on a corset as soon as I get home each night so that I can make progress at more than sitting in a straight back chair.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

today's decision - change overlocker threads from white to dark or not

I'm at the point where I have to overlock, and the machine is set up with white thread. If changing thread always went well, then I'd just do it. But it's a 50:50 thing with this beast, so I have until I get home late from a massage to decide. I pulled a muscle in my back on Saturday and I probably shouldn't be sewing cos it's already owwie. But LOBSTERS!

Thankfully my stash of overlocker thread was unpacked, though I'd overlock with dark navy not black. That way if there's any unpicking it's easy to spot the thread on the black fabric. It's purely an aesthetic decision to switch from white, not a functional one so it's only my inner perfectionist that cares really.

I also remembered to get back to my old habit which I've not mentioned here of stitching off a seam or dart onto a square of the same fabric. It reduces the thread wastage and helps the bottom thread tension remain stable (no need to old the threads as you start the seam) which some machines have more problem with than others.

I also do production style stitching, I have everything pinned that can be and just sew from one dart to the next dart or seam until they're done, then switch to overlocker and do the same. Then press everything, then pin the next batch of seams and repeat.

Oh, and just in case I have to unpick, the bobbin thread isn't black but a very dark charcoal, so that I don't risk my mental health trying to find black on black.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Martini dress neckband is in hiding

I noticed while I was looking at the martini dress with a view to finishing it this weekend, that the neckbands weren't with the rest of the dress. I know they're in the sewing room ... which is yet to be properly unpacked let alone organised.

Posting this in the interests of honesty. Seeing as February is due to be a record "hottest February on record", I'm not even going to attempt that until its not hot & humid.  Martini dress can wait, and I have other fabric+patterns that are visible at hand.

Lobster dress gets Vintage buttons from the stash

The only sewing thing I did on Sunday (in the air-con at my friend's place) was to separate out all the red buttons from the vintage stash I was given last year. These are pre-1965, and as much as I like the larger button, they're coat size and far too large scale for a dress.

Given my sewing deadline, I shouldn't be so excited that I slept in until 6.30am today, but I am. The cool change has made it easier to sleep, even though the heatwave returns on Friday.

Edited to add: In my lunch break I pinned all the darts, so that I can start stitching as soon as I get home. I'm fudging the waist dart on the front bodice, partly because I did a dodgy split of the side dart, which meant something creative to keep the arms of each dart the same length. Ultimately I'm doing this by the seat of my pants. I also cut out the interfacing for the collar and facing, so they're also ready to go.

Monday, 6 February 2017

missing patterns and heatwave delays the Lobster dress

Too many 40C+ days in January (last month it was hotter overall in Penrith (Western Sydney) than Darwin. That ain't right.  It's heading to be a record month for February too, with today being the second 43C in a row day out there.  When it's not 40C+ it's humid and that's just as bad to sew in.

Also, my fitted pattern from the strawberry dress is in hiding somewhere, along with the pattern I morphed for the martini dress. I put them somewhere safe, and I'll come across them as I organise the sewing room. They're not in my bedroom nor in the lounge, nothing sewing there other than books in the bookcase.

I've given up trying to locate them and I'm staying in the office after I've clocked off work to use the air-con and meeting room table to do the alterations from scratch on the January dress pattern. I'm only using the bodice from #4866, and using the idea of the martini dress. I brought the Martini dress with me so I can replicate the pieces (by chalking directly onto the lobster print). It'll work out.

Since my insomnia has finally improved, my sleep pattern has dramatically changed. These days no matter what time I go to bed I wake up between 5 and 6am. I joked with a friend yesterday that after 53 years of being an extreme night owl, that perhaps this is a sign of the apocalypse.

I had thought my need to go to sleep hours earlier than I used to (midnight used to be my standard) was because I was so sick & recovering. However the nights I went to bed closer to my old normal, I woke up about 5am anyway.  It's been a bit of a head spinner, something that I have to get my head around the concept that I'm now an early bird. The past week I started going to bed consistently before 10.30pm so that when I wake up around 5am I've had enough sleep and am awake enough to get up by 6am and to the things that I used to do before midnight.

So the good news is that I can sew early in the morning when it's coolest, rather than struggle in the hot &/or humid evening.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

January dress plan: rocking the lobster print

The B-52s concert is only 2 weeks away, so I need to start the dress this weekend, as the following Saturday I have a baby shower to go to, and I don't want to be finishing this dress the day before I need it - I've done that far too many times and it's no longer an exciting buzz but a dread of not finishing.

Last year a mid 20th century vintage button stash was passed on to me by historical costume friends who thought I could use it. At least one of the buttons in these will be perfect for this fabric. As I can't remember pre-shrinking the lobster print - thinking I did isn't certain enough - I'll try to do that tomorrow, and hope the predicted showers don't interfere with it drying.

Hopefully I can squeak this dress in as finished before the month ends, but at least it's not going to add to my UFO list.

I'm fairly sure that I'm going to use this bodice, and the multi pleated skirt of my Strawberry Dress. I really like all that fabric in a skirt.

Monday, 23 January 2017

More an increase in Unfinished Projects than a "year in review"

Technically I finished 3 items in 2016, the blue bustle dress squeaked over the line on the first day of the year, the 1920s dress made in July and my strawberry print dress was also made this year.

I also faced reality and threw out the unfinished Lilly Rose dress that had become an abomination. I also threw out a nightie I'd started back in 2014 and stalled on. It wasn't working so I quickly filed it in the bin as I was packing/unpacking from my move.

Otherwise, 2016 has added to my UFO pile of projects. In reverse order
 - the martini dress is half made
 - the 1740s bum pad is cut out, but unstitched
 - the red/black on white retro "March" dress still waits for me

I still have from before this:
 - the 1940s house dress I started sewing in 2015. I thought December but either I appear to have lost the post in my blog re-naming - OOPSIE - after doing the pattern work a year before that; or more likely I only imagined doing a post on the half sewn dress.
- the blue shirt from *cough* years ago.
- the pink on green 1806 short gown ensemble
- pink white stripe regency saque hat, half sewn
- blue (with tiny black diamond) open robe, half sewn
- regency stays: mantua maker pattern cut out for a friend
- regency stays: Missouri Historical Society, cut out
- striped pocket hoops, 80% sewn
- 1850s ruffled petticoat, needs levelling & waistband. therefore needs cage crinoline.
- cage crinoline, bag & vertical straps sewn, needs steels & waistband (may be discarded)
- Pink & white stripe lobster tail cage bustle, sewn, needs canes/steels inserted & waistband
- red bustle dress, part cut out (may be discarded)
- 1917 austerity corset, toile cut out
- insects-on-blue cage-bustle

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Oven like weather, also known as a heatwave

It hit 43.4C (110F) out west yesterday, and "only" got to around 34C or 93F in the city where I work, and the forecast  out west for today is 42C, so I've already bought a cheap movie ticket for in the city after work. Anything to delay travelling back out to the oven.

We've already had a 44.5C day - which was insane but bearable cos once it got over 40C the humidity went away.

Sadly, the humid days before I came back to work triggered an auto-immune flare that has been ridiculously painful. I'm grateful that I have some endone tablets (oxycodine!) left over from after being in hospital. I've not taken any yet, but knowing they're there has helped me cope mentally.

It took me longer than I expected to get back to feeling well, so I've not started sewing yet.  I'm definitely getting twitchy to do that, which helps me feel even closer to my normal.

I wanted to make a loose/light weight dress or two for wearing around the house, and got out of stash a 4m length of lawn that I was going to use for a caftan-like gown. Instead I decided it would be better as a 1920s day dress. Scratch than from this project.

I have a couple of other fabrics and will locate them, but suddenly realised that the babydoll woven cotton nightie with a built in bra (wire free) that I bought from Bravissimo a few years ago would be an ideal style, providing comfortable support but it's too short for this purpose.  I'll take a couple of photos to share of how they manage the back closure without the dress back being fixed to the bra band.

I scoped out wirefree bras in my size (giant boobs of doom) and found Ulla by and it was and will be available as a PDF download, except they're updating their website so their shop is down at the moment. So hopefully it'll be up again by the end of the month.  They still have the page available for instructions on making Ulla style.

At home, once everything is unpacked properly - or enough to be seen as a reliable tenant - and I have some $ saved I'll ask the real estate for permission to install ceiling fans in the bedrooms. It'll make sewing and sleeping easier in weather like this.  Heatwaves suck, it only got down to 29C/84F overnight and was already 34.5C/94F at 7am when I got up to get ready for work.