Sunday, 15 November 2015

Vogue 9625: simple sundress in gorgeous Swedish fabric

Vogue 9625 pleated polka dot dress

A few weeks ago I received an email from Julia who runs Yulki's Home Decor asking if she could give me some beautiful Scandinavian fabric to use in any way I choose in return for mentioning her on-line store here on my blog. Would I? Of course! I love Scandinavian fabric as much as I love Japanese fabric - such vibrant colours and playful prints. It's not very often I do anything of a commercial nature on my blog since this is a hobby blog and not a business, but I think you'll all understand why I couldn't refuse the offer of some beautiful fabric.

Yulki's Home Decor is an on-line store based in Hobart in beautiful Tasmania, selling fabrics, tablecloths, cushions and offering curtain making services. Julia stocks a beautiful range of fabrics, which though on the pricier side are definitely very high quality and they are 150cm wide so you do get a lot of fabric per metre. Also, Julia does offer free postage with Australia which is a huge selling point for me when I'm doing on-line shopping. And my Swedish friends tell me that Marimekko and Spira fabrics are expensive in Sweden too, so I think Julia's prices are very competitive.

The hardest part of this offer was picking a fabric, because there were so many beautiful prints to choose from:

L to R: Marimekko,  Spira, Marimekko & Spira
In the end I picked Mustard Vilma by Swedish Spira fabrics which is a 100% cotton with a weight similar to a heavy drill or canvas. I pre-washed in cold water and line dried, and there was only a small amount of shrinkage but thankfully no loss of colour at all unlike my recent disappointment with the navy blue cotton sateen. After washing the fabric softened quite a lot so it's the perfect weight for garment making.

The next hardest bit was picking a project - I think curtains from this fabric would look fabulous in my living room with it's white walls and dark timber floor. But I decided to go with a dress because I hate sewing curtains and because it's summer and a colourful dress is exactly what I need right now.

I chose to make a simple sun dress with a full skirt to show off the print to it's fullest advantage because it's a pretty large scale print. I used Vogue 9625 which is from 1998 and is now of course OOP. I've made this pattern once before in my pre-blogging days as well as making a few skirts so I knew it would fit without doing a muslin (or risk ruining this beautiful fabric). Luckily I had written on the pattern envelope that I needed to shorten the bodice by 2.5cm. I made view B, the red version, without sleeves:

Vogue 9625 pleated polka dot dress

The pattern has a side zip which normally I hate in a dress because I find the top of the zipper tape sticks into my underarm flesh in an irritating way but was perfect for this fabric because it saved me having to pattern match in the centre back. I left off the hook and eye at the top of the zipper though, because I can never seem to be able to do it up myself. The bodice is fully lined so the neckline and armhole seams are neatly finished:

Vogue 9625 pleated polka dot dress

The pattern has an inset waistband, which I cut on the waistband grain to make a feature of it and again to avoid having to pattern match (are you sensing a theme here?). It was only after I had finished the dress that I realised that I should have put some white piping in the waistband seams to make it stand out more, but I think it looks good enough not to worry about undoing it now!

Vogue 9625 pleated polka dot dress

The pattern is a simple box pleat skirt with a flat centre front and back, so it's not too puffy but still has a nice full skirt. The design of the pleats isn't as clever as the previous Vogue pleated skirt I made recently but this one certainly used up a lot less fabric than that skirt:
Vogue 9625 pleated polka dot dress

And after all my aversion to pattern matching, I think I did a pretty good job on the sides of the skirt even though the skirt pieces are cut in an a-line shape and the hem is dipped a bit - it sort of still lines up in a way although the ovals aren't exactly matched:

Vogue 9625 pleated polka dot dress

And you'll note I had to venture outside to take these photos despite my neighbours all having a good sticky beak because this dress just blended in too well with the wallpaper in my sewing room where I normally take my photos! 

So overall, I love this dress and I particularly love this fabric. If you're in the market for some Scandinavian fabrics definitely check out Yulki's Home Decor and support an Australian business while you're filling your stash with lovely fabrics.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Our first family Halloween.....

DIY Addams Family halloween costume

Being relatively new to the world of celebrating Halloween, when it came to all us of needing a dress up costume this year for a party we were invited to I went down a tried and tested path and picked probably the most overdone Halloween costume ever - the Addams Family! Luckily it was quite a quick and easy costume to DIY.
DIY Addams Family halloween costume

For myself as Morticia Addams, I made a long, tight fitting dress from some black wool crepe I picked up in a garage sale a long time ago that had some mothball damage which I thought was quite appropriate. I made it from a 1989 Butterick pattern - once again my stash of 80s sewing patterns has come in handy!

The dress has a sweetheart neckline and I just made it extra long so I could cut the bottom of the dress below the knee into long trailing bits. I didn't have enough fabric to do similar sleeves, so I had to make do with some sheer sleeves instead. I accessorised with a long black wig, some false red fingernails, and loads of white face paint and black eye makeup.

My husband's Gomez Addams costume was super easy - he already had a pinstripe suit and black bow-tie, all we had to get was a stick on moustache and plastic cigar.

DIY Addams Family halloween costume

 The kid's costumes were also pretty easy to do. I made Anna a simple a-line dress in plain black with a white collar, both from fabric in the stash. I put her hair in plaits, a bit of white face paint and black eyeshadow under the eyes and she was dressed too.

For Toby's costume I made a simple black and white stripe t-shirt using a Kwik Sew pattern from some ponte I had in the stash - funnily enough this is probably the best quality t-shirt in his wardrobe now! He just wore some RTW black cotton shorts, and a bit of hair gel to make his hair stick up and he was all dressed too.

DIY Addams Family halloween costume

And sadly I discovered that the real horror of Halloween happens the morning after if you drink a few too many cups of punch after a few too many champagnes! Waking up with a hangover, with false eyelashes hanging off your eyes, your face in a mess of white and black makeup and a splitting headache is a truly scary look......

Friday, 23 October 2015

Vintage Vogue skirt - rescue for a boring wardrobe

I don't know why it is, but with the beginning of each new season I feel like I have nothing to wear (which judging by my bulging wardrobe is obviously not true). Now that the weather has warmed up around here, I suddenly feel like all my dresses and skirts from last season are just dull and boring. So I decided on a quick fix by making a simple, pleated skirt:

vintage Vogue 7508 pleated skirt in navy blue print

This style of skirt hardly needs a pattern because it so simple, but since I have such a huge pattern stash I thought I should use it! So I pulled out Vogue 7508, which is from 1989 and is long OOP.  It has that 1980s big is better attitude so I shortened it significantly to knee length.  Midi-length skirts seem to be all the fashion at the moment, I just feel frumpy and swamped by fabric in them and I like to do my own thing anyway.
vintage Vogue 7508 pleated skirt in navy blue print

Even though it's a simple pattern, there are few clever features that made using it worthwhile. The skirt panels are a-line as well as gathered, and the pleats at the waist are slightly angled which gives the skirt a nice flare without being too puffy.

vintage Vogue 7508 pleated skirt in navy blue print

The side seams of the skirt have been moved around the front and are hidden beneath a pleat - so it you didn't pattern match very well no-one would be able to tell.

vintage Vogue 7508 pleated skirt in navy blue print

The pockets are also in the side seam (that is actually at the front), which means the pocket bags sit at the front under the pleats rather than disrupting the line down the side of the body:

vintage Vogue 7508 pleated skirt in navy blue print

The only thing I don't like is that the waistband is a straight band which on my body means it gapes open a bit (hence the belt). Unfortunately I didn't have enough fabric to cut a curved waistband though - despite having a 2m length of this fabric because this skirt sure uses up a lot of length! I think I will add some belt loops though, to help keep the belt in place.

The lack of fabric also means that I couldn't pattern match the centre back seam either, which is really bugging me now that I see these photos:

vintage Vogue 7508 pleated skirt in navy blue print

I might undo that centre back seam and lose a little bit of width to reposition the seam so I can avoid that annoying doubling up of the circle print down the centre back.

And since I seem to be in a nitpicking mood, I have to mention the annoying fabric. I bought this cotton sateen from Spotlight some time ago, probably during a sale so it's not cost I'm annoyed about. I've had this fabric in my stash for ages, just waiting for the right use because I really like the print. This fabric had a beautiful sheen and was a dark navy blue but after just one wash it faded terribly so I don't hold much hope for it having a long life in my wardrobe.  But for now I really like it, and my wardrobe crisis is slightly alleviated!

vintage Vogue 7508 pleated skirt in navy blue print

Sunday, 18 October 2015

September Burda of the Month: 9/2015 #122 the Referee Top

My latest Burda of the month project is slightly late, but I'm excusing myself since I had a good excuse what with being out of the country. And since my October issue still hasn't arrived, technically I'm still sewing from my current issue.

Anyway, enough justifying myself to no one in particular, here is my latest project:

Burda 9/2015 #122 referee shirt

In the magazine Burda calls this the referee shirt, pattern #122 from 9/2015, although on their website they specifically say to make it from a luxe fabric such as silk jersey and to wear with stilettos to avoid the referee look.

Burda 9/2015 #122 referee shirt
images via Burda Style

I've made mine from a pinstriped soft cotton shirting fabric that has been in the stash for quite a long time, so mine has more of a casual business vibe than a sporty look. But a lightweight summer shirt with sleeves and a collar is exactly what I need in summer for sun protection which is why I picked this pattern over the several lovely dress patterns in this issue.

Because my fabric isn't as drapey as the silk jersey used in the magazine and I don't particularly like the tunic look, I shortened this pattern quite a lot - about 12cm off the length of view A so that it doesn't look like I'm wearing a nightie. I did keep the curved hem, which is slightly shorter at the front than the back, which gives it a sporty vibe:

Burda 9/2015 #122 referee shirt

You can see that this shirt is a loose fitting style - there are no darts in the back at all but it was quite nice not to be obsessed with fitting my swayback for a change. I don't think it looks too bad from the back view:

Burda 9/2015 #122 referee shirt

I didn't have a white zipper in the stash which is why I've left it off, but I did discover that the top is too low cut not to have the bottom section at least closed up. So I just put a button and a loop part-way up to keep things decent looking.

Burda 9/2015 #122 referee shirt

I think my collar has turned out looking more like a sailor's uniform than a referee shirt though I think my past projects have shown that I'm not adverse to an oversized and sometimes ridiculous looking collar!

Burda 9/2015 #122 referee shirt

I also found the sleeves quite long, but instead of just chopping them off at the elbow I decided to turn it up and sew it into a cuff instead - I think it goes well with the casual vibe:

Burda 9/2015 #122 referee shirt

Overall this is a pretty easy pattern. I took a few shortcuts though - leaving off the zipper was one, but I also just turned the hem under and top-stitched instead of using fiddly binding strips. Confusingly, the pattern includes the seam allowance for the side seam and hem of the back pattern piece but not any others and then the instructions also say to include 1.5cm seam allowance at the slit edges of the back pieces! I can't explain why this is, but as usual with Burda it is usually best just to ignore the instructions and get on the best you can!

Burda 9/2015 #122 referee shirt

Friday, 9 October 2015

Japan: inspiration overload

Apologies for the blog silence around here lately, but I've just come back from an amazing few weeks in Japan so actually I'm not really sorry at all! It's my ten year wedding anniversary and my parents kindly offered to watch the kids while we went on holidays without them - so the holiday was doubly fantastic.

Japan was just amazing and overwhelming with inspiration - the architecture was a real highlight for us, not only the ultramodern skyscrapers that dominate the cities but also the beautiful and serene lines of the residential dwellings. The food was outstanding, the culture very interesting and I loved people watching for Japanese fashion, from the crazy and colourful young girls in Harajuku, to the head to toe designer labels in Ginza and the simple chic in Kyoto.

And of course I did a fair amount of fabric shopping!

I hadn't planned to buy much fabric given that my stash is already overloaded and the fabric prices in Japan are comparable to Australia, but the huge range and variety of beautiful fabrics in Japan that are not easily found here soon persuaded me to buy more that just one piece per city! I came to Japan travelling very lightly, with one small suitcase that was carry on size:

But left Japan with another bag filled with fabric (but still well under my luggage allowance so I should have bought more):

Fabric shopping in Tokyo

Of course I went to the Nippori Fabric Town in Tokyo, which is as exactly as everyone describes it: one really long street with so many shops it's impossible to go into each on one day only. We came here the first day we arrived but it turned out to be a public holiday, so we made a second trip at the end of our holiday the day before we left for home. In hindsight that turned out for the best, because by the end of the trip I had given up my commitment to only buying one piece per city and I ended up buying a lot more fabric than I intended!

There was an overwhelming number of stores to choose from, and in the end I only shopped at 3 stores, plus the fantastic 5 storey Tomato store. I was there on a Saturday morning and the ground floor where the beautiful Japanese linens, cute cottons and infamous 100 yen shelves was so packed with people that I couldn't get near the fabrics at all. But I purchased quite a few knit fabrics on the second floor, plus a few pieces and some cool zips from two other stores as well:

Fabric shopping in Kyoto and shibori dyeing

The hotel we stayed in Kyoto happened to be directly across the street from the main Nomura Tailor store, so I had to walk past this shop multiple times over 5 days and restrain myself! This is a three storey shop crammed with the most beautiful fabrics and notions, but I managed to restrict myself to only four pieces of Japanese linen, cotton and seersucker because at this point I was still committed to just buying a few pieces in each city. I am now sorry I didn't buy more!

Also in Kyoto I visited the tiny, hidden away courtyard shop of the Misuyabari needle shop, which I found really easily thanks to the numerous other bloggers who have visited there and posted very helpful directions (such as this and this). They had ultra cute decorative pins all handmade, and a huge range of needles too, but since I'm rather practical I bought a mini sewing box which contained a tiny pincushion, some thread, small snips and some needles in a timber box:

We also visited the Kyoto Shibori Museum, thanks to the recommendation of a friend from my ASG group. We were able to learn all about the art of shibori, which is a very labour intensive method of wrapping minute portions of silk with threads to do a very elegant form of tie dye. We did a class where we folded some pure white silk concertina style, clamped with blocks and then dyed multiple times in different coloured dyes. This is how my scarf turned out:

Fabric shopping in Hiroshima

I hadn't planned on doing any fabric shopping in Hiroshima because we were only there for a few days, but we arrived on a rainy afternoon and ended up doing a bit of window shopping in their department stores marvelling at the crazy and cute stuff for sale. I accidentally stumbled on the craft area of the Sogo Department store, which up on the 9th level had quite a large range of fabrics, both by the metre and pre cut lengths, as well as patterns, notions and other crafty items.

I only bought one piece of fabric and a pattern from here, because I was still restraining myself at this point:

Fabric shopping in Osaka

In Osaka I made a bee-line for the Nano Iro store, which again I found quite easily thanks to those helpful bloggers who post very detailed directions (such as this post). The showroom was quite sparse, with not a huge range of fabrics available for purchase but they were all very beautiful.  The lovely sales assistants were quite interested and amused as to why I had travelled so far just to come to their shop! I bought one piece of fabric and a beautiful watercolour calendar which I then had to carry in my hands through 4 more cities because it didn't fit in my suitcase!

Overall I can highly recommend Japan as a travel destination. There's just so much for everyone - technology freaks, architecture buffs, foodies, culture vultures, shopaholics - you name it you can do it in Japan!

Luckily our return home has coincided with the arrival of hot weather here in Sydney, so I am very keen to start sewing at least a few of these fabrics (some of those knits will have to wait until next winter).

Saturday, 5 September 2015

August Burda of the Month: 8/2015 #120 another pink drape top

In my last post I was lamenting doing horrible things to a nice fabric - in this post I will lament doing nice things to horrible fabric! I picked a long term resident from my stash because I liked the colour and it draped nicely, composition unknown though, maybe some sort of woven polyester.

Unfortunately it's one of those fabrics that creases the second you dare touch or move it, so badly so that when I pressed one section another would immediately crease and so this top looks creased, puckered and altogether terrible. I'm calling this one a muslin, because I did need to do some fitting changes to get the pattern right so it still has some value in that regard and I definitely plan on making another one in a more beautiful fabric. But for now, here it is:

I used pattern #120 from the 8/2015 Burda magazine:

images via Burda Style
I have to say this issue is fantastic - after struggling to pick anything for the last few months this month I struggled just to pick one thing because there were quite a few great patterns. Yay Burda! But (and there's always a but), it does annoy when Burda does what they have done here and treats very slight variations on the pattern as three separate patterns. Honestly, the only difference between view B and C is using contrast fabric on the neckline, and the only difference with A is that the drape is sewn from two different fabrics.

As you can see from the line drawing, the top is rather shapeless. I seem to have an allergy to shapeless, unfitted garments and can never leave well enough alone! I curved those side seams in quite a bit at the waist line tapering out to nothing at the bottom. I think this has made it look very shapely whilst still being loose enough to wear with a zipper in the back.

I also significantly curved in that centre back seam to get rid of the excess fabric at my swayback as usual - I took it in about 5cm in my lower back tapering out to nothing at the top and bottom which has given me a slim fit at the back too. The hem dips slightly at the back too which is a nice touch:

I really like how the drape overlay on the front comes out of the shoulder seam - close to the sleeve but not part of it:

And I've certainly learnt my lesson from previous Burda projects that have a keyhole neckline and I lengthened the opening by another 4cm to make sure it would fit over my head (which I'm sure is normal sized!).

The model in the magazine is wearing her blouse tucked in, but I'm not so sure about this look. Because the drape sits over the waistband it just looks like the top is sloppily half tucked in and half slipping out to me:

The sleeves are a very slim fit, which I very much like the look of but they do mean you have a bit less movement. Which is fine because I won't be wearing this top playing tennis but if I stand with my hands on my hips or arms crossed (which I do far too often), the sleeve cap does pop up:

But overall I love this pattern - it's simple but still interesting. It did take me longer to sew than I expected though - several hours over a few nights mainly because I was fighting the whole way with the fabric but also because I basted those side and back seams several times to gradually take it in and doing a narrow hem on the drape edge is a bit fiddly. I did think about doing a rolled edge on my overlocker except I didn't have enough matching thread to do it.

When I make this again I think I will round out those angles on the drape so that it's one continuous seam instead of having those sharp corners to make it easier to sew. And hopefully I can find a decent fabric in a pink colour because I am still keen on making on a pink top despite two failures in a row now!