Thursday, 4 February 2016

And the winner is.....

Check out the evil stare that the illustrated lady is giving the real life lady on that pattern envelope! Nothing to do with anything, but I thought it was quite funny and worth sharing.

So the winner of the pattern give-away is.....well, the winner is actually me and anyone else who ever thought about irons - so much good advice! Thanks to everyone that pitched in with their experience, it is all very useful. I haven't actually made a decision yet, because I plan to go into the store and actually handle the irons as Jessica Malcolm suggested, instead of just relying on technical data and reviews. I'm still tossing up between the Philips or Tefal though, because the Laurastar irons are a bit out of my budget and I don't think the Rowenta irons or Maytag are sold in Australia. I am leaning towards the Tefal though, because like a few of you I have dropped my current one several times and it is still working.

Also, I love how Sofie M and Heber were having a running conversation in the comments about the iron Heber received from her boyfriend - too funny! And thanks to Melissa Lee for answering the question about which pattern I was referring to when I said there was a modern copy of the 70s wrap skirt pattern - I was trying to be diplomatic and not name any names!

Ok, so on to the pattern giveaway. I separated all the commenters into three groups depending on which (if any pattern) they nominated, and then did a random number generator to pick the winners. The names that came up are:

Simplicity 4930 Sundress Pattern - Tina Briggs
Simplicity 2080 mens swimwear pattern - Jessica Malcolm
Simplicity 7189 skirt pattern - jjuzzy

If you could all email me at with your postal addresses, I'll get them out to you shortly.

A big thanks too to Melissa Zillman who not only very kindly emailed me with advice on the Philips iron but even attached photos of the spluttering marks left on her jeans after ironing - I so hate it when that happen.

And a special mention goes to Mike Dunlap - I think you are my first male commentator ever!

Friday, 29 January 2016

Burda of the month: 1/2016 #120 bright yellow jacket

Thank you to everyone who has left a comment on the last post - I really appreciate all the good advice. Who would have thought that we'd have so much to say about irons?!

I've got my Burda challenge off to a good start this year  - not only have I made a project from the January issue in the actual month of January, but I really love how it has turned out and I used a long term stash resident. All round winner in my books. I made jacket 1/2016 #120 which has turned out like this:

Burda 1/2016 #120 tailored yellow jacket

It looks very different from the pattern in the magazine, mainly because Burda has made their version in a fake fur:
Burda 1/2016 #120 tailored yellow jacket
image via Burda Style
I've made mine in a thick textured cotton that originally came from my grandmother's stash so it could be many many decades old. But it's such a cheerful colour, and the fabric has a nice thick weight to it so I just knew it would be perfect for a boxy jacket like this.

Except, I don't do boxy very well. I couldn't help myself, I had to shape this jacket by taking in the side seams a little and adding two vertical darts to the back:

Burda 1/2016 #120 tailored yellow jacket

There is still a little too much fabric there in the back view, especially around the armscye, which if I had made a muslin version I would have resolved but of course I didn't make one so I'm just going to live with this:

Burda 1/2016 #120 tailored yellow jacket

The other change I made was to draft a neck and front facing from the lining pattern. The pattern suggests using a poplin fabric as the inner fabric and lining to the edge, which probably works ok when using a thick fabric like a fake fur.  But I think a tailored jacket made with a jacket weight fabric looks better with self fabric facings because it prevents the lining peeking out and it sits better as well.

Burda 1/2016 #120 tailored yellow jacket

I was super short on both lining fabric and the outer fabric for this project. As you can see in the photo above, the sleeve lining is only half the sleeve purely because I didn't have enough yellow lining to make a full sleeve length and nor did I have any other light coloured lining fabric on hand for the sleeves. It's a bit slip shod, but it works and I've tacked it down to the seam allowance so it will stay in place.

I also just managed to eek out the sleeves of the outer fabric by placing the sleeve end on the selvedge of the fabric with no fabric to turn up for the hem. Originally I thought I would just make this a bracelet length sleeve, but it finishes as just the right spot on me so I've left it unhemmed. For the seam allowances of the sleeve I turned the raw edges under and slipstitched them down, so it's quite a neat finish. Again, it's a bit of a dodgy solution but it works!

Burda 1/2016 #120 tailored yellow jacket

The pattern calls for a snap to be placed there at the centre front of the jacket. This fabric was too thick to make a covered snap, and nor did I have any big enough in my stash but I did have a hook and bar salvaged from a RTW garment some time ago. This is one of those that instead of sewing on you just push the ends through the fabric and use some pliers to squeeze the ends closed. Except I squeezed a little too hard with my pliers and the bar got a little bent as you can see below! (Ignore the colour of this photo, the yellow turned out all shades wrong in this picture for some reason).

Burda 1/2016 #120 tailored yellow jacket

I do like the discreet look of the hook and bar though - it's hardly visible at all when the jacket is worn open, and it looks very polished not having any visible stitches.

Burda 1/2016 #120 tailored yellow jacket

As you can see in the photos above, I used some canvas interfacing across the back and part fronts, as well as a lightweight whisper weft iron on interfacing at the top of the sleeve. The thickness of the fabric along with the interfacing has made a beautiful shoulder cap, with no collapsing at all which is a look that I absolutely hate. So happy with how this one turned out:

Burda 1/2016 #120 tailored yellow jacket

I've seen lots of collarless jackets with pointed front lapels in the stores recently, including the one below left in Trenery which originally retailed for $299, so I was very happy to see that Burda had included one in the January issue. The yellow colour came from an inspiration image I recently pinned from Table Eight - I'm quite glad that I finally used Pinterest for a real, actual use!

left: Trenery Jacket, right: Table Eight jacket
Burda 1/2016 #120 tailored yellow jacket

So overall, I love this jacket immensely. It's very simple to make and doesn't use a great deal of fabric - I eked it out of 1.2m fabric but I did have to cut a few corners to make it work. For the next version (and yes, there defintely will be one) I will work on that excess fabric at the back, possibly by putting in a centre back seam instead of the darts and reshaping the armscye. I would also narrow the sleeves somewhat as you can see in the photo above that they are quite wide. But apart from these minor fitting changes it is a great pattern that I can recommend if you're after something simple.

Good luck to all of you doing a Burda challenge this year or those thinking about doing one - there were quite a few good patterns in this issue that should make it easier to choose, including this gorgeous vintage dress, this cute draped jersey skirt and this interesting double layer top

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Vintage pattern giveaway and request for iron recommendations

There I go again with the most literal and most boring blog post title ever!

Before I get into that I must apologise for being a bad blogger - I haven't gotten around to responding to comments I received on my last post as yet.  Plus, an email I received just recently from a lovely reader named Hannah who has bought an Orange Viking 3600 Husqvarna sewing machine just like this one I blogged about back in 2013 made me realise that people are commenting on some of my older posts but I'm not getting email notifications of them via blogger and hence I had no idea. So my apologies to anyone who has posted a comment on an older post of mine and I didn't respond - if you're still reading I promise you I didn't mean to ignore you.

Ok, so on to this vintage pattern giveaway. I've been extremely busy these last few weeks and it has been super super hot so I haven't been doing much sewing at all, but I've reacted in that classic way of "if not sewing then buy sewing related stuff"! Admittedly the patterns and few pieces of fabric I bought in the last two weeks were from an op shop, but stash addition is still stash addition regardless of where it comes from.

I bought a big box of patterns of mixed vintage (1950s-1990s) for the happy price of $10, which ended up having a few patterns that I already owned. In the interest of managing my pattern collection, and sharing the love around I'm offering these patterns to any reader who would like them (happy to post internationally).

First up is Simplicity 4930, undated but probably early 1960s sundress and jacket pattern. It's for a size 14 - bust 34", waist 26" and hips 36". The envelope is a little battered but the instructions and pattern pieces are ok. I actually made a dress from this pattern back in 2010 in an aqua/white stripe cotton which I still wear quite a lot, especially in this hot weather, so I can attest to this pattern being simple to make and just lovely.
Simplicity 4930 vintage sundress

Next is Simplicity 2080, which even if you don't intend making it up is worth having just for the very cool cover art! It's also undated but again I think it's probably 1960s. It's described as a men's beach set - a raglan shirt pattern and swim shorts. The medium size is chest 38-40" and waist 34-36".

Simplicity 2080 vintage mens beach clothes

Lastly, there is Simplicity 7189, which is a 1978 skirt pattern with three variations: 1) a pleated front, 2) top stitched details and 3) a wrap skirt with waist band ties and gloriously oversized patch pockets. It's a size 12, which will fit a waist of 67cm/26.5" and hip 92cm/36". The wrap skirt version looks very much like a certain indie pattern released in recent years - why pay big $$ for the indie version when you can have the original design?

Simplicity 7189 vintage skirt

In case you think I'm doing this purely because I am a lovely person - I do have an ulterior motive and I will make you work for it! In the comments please tell me what iron you're using and whether it's any good. I am in the market for a steam station irons, mainly because my iron seems to need refilling with water every two minutes but also because I have weak wrists and lifting a heavy iron is just no good for me.

At the moment I'm leaning towards either the Philips PerfectCare Viva which has good reviews and is on sale at the moment, or the Tefal Effective Easy Steam Generator which also has good reviews and I've had great experiences with Tefal irons in the past. Both have large water tanks, long cords and are light which are my main criteria.

Tefal and Phillips steam station iron

Even if you don't want one of these patterns, feel free to leave a comment - it's a great opportunity to  rant about a leaking iron ruining a beautiful nearly finished project to people who will sympathise, or to boast about your bulletproof iron that has withstood your cheeky cat knocking it to the floor to get your attention!

Please tell me in your comment which pattern you'd like - if there is more than one request per pattern   I'll do a random draw next Monday.

And thank you all in advance for what I know will be your very helpful comments.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Burda projects of the month: 11/2015 #108 (fail!) and 12/2015 #121 (winner!)

Apologies for the blog silence - we've been away on a holiday and then had house guests which left me little time to sew or blog. I managed to finish my December Burda project just after Christmas day and then managed to ruin my November Burda project on the morning of the 31st so I guess that counts in last year's tally, right?

I really liked the patterns in both the November and December issues, but since they are all winter clothes and it's so hot here at the moment I always struggle to make something - I just can't bring myself to handle wintery wool fabrics when I'm feeling hot and sweaty. I definitely plan to revisit these issues when the weather cools down around here though, because there are some lovely tops in there.

Let's start with the good project first. I made this lightweight summery shirt dress style from Burda 12/2015 #121:

Burda 12/2015 #121 gingham shirt dress

Burda 12/2015 #121 gingham shirt dress

In the magazine this dress is made from a silk, with long sleeves but I made mine with with shorter sleeves finished with elastic so I could scrunch them up higher when need be. The fabric I used is a lightweight polished cotton in a check pattern (it's not actually gingham) which is very badly off grain. I tried all I could to straighten it which didn't work, but I figured that using a contrast band meant that the patterns didn't need to match, and the loose style cinched in with a belt would disguise it somewhat.

This is a very loose style without any shaping to it at all. Without the belt, it sort of looks like a nightgown:

Burda 12/2015 #121 gingham shirt dress

Burda 12/2015 #121 gingham shirt dress

It definitely needs a belt to give it shape:

Burda 12/2015 #121 gingham shirt dress

Burda 12/2015 #121 gingham shirt dress

I didn't have very high expectations from this dress given it's a style quite unlike what I usually make, but I've worn it a few times during the last two weeks and it's been great for the hot weather. I didn't make any changes to the pattern, although I left off the patch pockets at the front because it looked a little too heavy in the contrasting black fabric but too disjointed in the checked fabric. It was pretty simple to make, and I can highly recommend this pattern if you use a lightweight, drapey fabric.

I did have high hopes for my November Burda project - I wanted to make a light, floaty top to wear to a New Year's Eve party but of course when I am rushing to make a project for a specific occasion it always goes wrong somehow. I used Burda 11/2015 #108:

Burda 11/2015 #108 lace top

Instead of lace I used a crinkly polyester chiffon that has been in the stash for a very long time and was originally bought from an op shop so no great loss that it didn't turn out well. I started out making this properly, using French seams with was tedious with all those seams and the slippery fabric that wouldn't hold a press. It turned out that the top was too tight under my arms (not discovered until all the seams were sewn and the sleeves set in) which is not something I generally experience with Burda patterns. I couldn't bear the thought of unpicking all those seams in chiffon, so I decided just to finish the top to put it in the donation pile.

But a bit of careless overlocking while attaching the collar completely ruined it - the collar band folded up and got caught in the stitching as well as cutting it beyond repair:

Burda 11/2015 #108 lace top

So this top ended up in the bin after all. But for the record this is how it looked:

Burda 11/2015 #108 lace top

There were a few things I didn't like about this pattern anyway. The pattern is the same as pattern #109 which was sleeves with ties so it has a two piece sleeve - totally unnecessary if you aren't making the tie end version and would be much better if it had a one piece sleeve instead. I also don't like the centre front seam - lots of Burda patterns have keyhole necklines with either facings or plackets which would have been preferable.

And in case you're wondering, finishing these two projects does not mean that I finished my Burda challenge for 2015 - my May project is still in pieces after I pulled it apart to fix some fitting issues. My one and only sewing resolution for this year is to complete at least 10 UFOs this year (trust me, there are more than 10!), so I plan on finishing that one soon.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

End of year sewing

Hi everyone, hope you've all had a relaxing holiday period. I'm happily still on holidays from work, and for the first time in many many years we have stayed home  this year instead of leaving at the crack of dawn on Boxing Day for 2 weeks in Queensland visiting the in-laws. It's quite nice actually to have time at home with no particular plans each day. I have been sewing too - finishing up two Burda of the month projects and taking stock of UFOs that I'm planning to finish next year.

But first to blog about the few Christmas presents I made for the kids this year. I didn't want to put any pressure on myself this year so I chose to only make a few things which turned out to be surprisingly easy and quick to make. I had these made and wrapped a few days before Christmas eve - no last minute finishing and midnight wrapping for me this year!

Since Anna has had a huge growth spurt this year, a new skirt of decent length was desperately needed. I made her a skirt from an old Burda magazine - 1/2008 #135, in a bright blue ikat print cotton from the stash purchased a few too many years ago to remember exactly where from:

burda 1/2008 #135 girls pleated skirt

burda 1/2008 #135 girls pleated skirt

 I changed it slightly by using two ribbons around the waist instead of one wide one, mainly because I didn't have any wide ribbon in the stash but also because I thought it looked kind of cute. The ribbon is supposed to go under the pleats through button holes (i.e. between the skirt and the waistband facing), but somehow I did the spacing wrong and the two centre ones are hidden under the bow. Still works though, so I'm leaving it this way:

burda 1/2008 #135 girls pleated skirt

burda 1/2008 #135 girls pleated skirt

Her dad is very pleased to see her wearing a skirt of appropriate length and Anna seems to like it as well, so a win all around.

burda 1/2008 #135 girls pleated skirt

burda 1/2008 #135 girls pleated skirt

I also made two singlet style dresses for Anna, self drafted by tracing around one of her RTW singlets that fit quite well. One is made maxi length and one is knee length, and since both are made in knit fabrics sewn on the overlocker except for topstitching the hems it took a little over an hour to make both. The purple gingham knit is from The Fabric Store and I used a plain white cotton knit for contrasting bands, and the stripe knit is part of my recent purchase from Janie's Fabrics.

stripe girl singlet dress

girls singlet maxi dress

girls singlet maxi dress

purple gingham girl singlet dress

purple gingham girl singlet dress

purple gingham girl singlet dress

I didn't forget Toby either, although this shirt is a few months late. You see I bought this very cute robot print cotton poplin from Spotlight back in March to make Toby a birthday shirt but then never got around to it (second child syndrome....). I have no excuses for not making this earlier, it seriously took me two hours but better late than never!

Simplicity 2907 boy shirt in robot print

I used snaps down the centre front instead of buttons, mainly because I didn't have any orange buttons but also to help Toby dress himself since he's decided to do everything himself these days.

Simplicity 2907 boy shirt in robot print

I made it from Simplicity 2907, which is a pattern I've used before and so have loads of other bloggers - it's a simple but cute pattern which includes a shirt, vest and cargo shorts for boys and a shirt dress for girls.  I made a size 3, expecting the usual excessive ease from Simplicity but this actually turned out to be a snug fit. Lucky it's his birthday in a few months and I'll have a reason to make another one!

Simplicity 2907 boy shirt in robot print

Simplicity 2907 boy shirt in robot print

Happy new year everyone - thanks for reading along with my sewing adventures this year. Here's to another happy, productive and creative sewing year next year!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Burda 3/2013 #110 - the Bird of Paradise Dress

I've always been rather jealous of those bloggers who can think up witty titles for their posts or give their latest project a cute/twee/funny/appropriate name. Sadly I lack that skill, and my posts are generally a literal description of the pattern name - this one is no different! It's a Burda pattern, made from fabric with what looks like a bird of paradise flower print on it.

This dress is made from Burda 3/2013 #110, which was my Burda of the month project way back in March 2013:

Burda 3/2013 #110 floral dress

Burda 3/2013 #110 blue dress with ribbons

My previous version above was very much copied from the Burda version, right down to the colour of the fabric and the ribbon embellishments! This time I opted to keep it simple because the fabric itself is pretty vibrant and I only added some navy blue ribbon around the waist seam. Because I've made this pattern before and the blue dress still fits, I was able to whip this version out mostly in one evening, finishing the hem in the morning just before going to work so I could wear it that day to my team Christmas lunch. Of course I could have worn something I already owned, but there's nothing like a new dress to make me feel suitably celebratory.

With such a busy print I didn't bother trying to pattern match at any of the seams, so you can see the back and the sides do not match up at all. Normally this would really bother me, especially since at the centre back there is a duplicate of the print, but as you all repeatedly point out whenever I am critical of my projects - no one notices these things at all. So I'm not worrying about it at all.

Burda 3/2013 #110 floral dress

Burda 3/2013 #110 floral dress

If I do make this again, which I probably will since it's a simple and classic shape I will raise the neckline a little. It's not scandalously low as it is, but it does sit a little too wide on my shoulders and my bra strap tends to poke out. But otherwise this pattern is great - it's very simple to make, the skirt has a gentle a-line shape to it so it doesn't need a walking vent at the back and I quite like those angled darts (although the front bodice darts probably finish a little high on my bust point which I should change for the next version).

Burda 3/2013 #110 floral dress

If you're wondering about the fabric, it's a stretch cotton that I bought from a new to me on-line store based in Melbourne - Janie's Fabric - which I discovered thanks to the ladies who post in the sewing down under thread over at Pattern Review. The fabrics are quite cheap (this one is $6.99/m and it's 148cm wide) so I was pretty sceptical about the quality of the fabrics.

I was pleasantly surprised when my parcel arrived - in addition to this floral stretch cotton I also bought a vibrant voile, a cotton jersey, a rayon jersey and a poly satin and all are really high quality with only the poly satin feeling a bit plasticky (which is to be expected really!).  Postage is free if you spend $100 and my purchase arrived really quickly so all around it was a good shopping experience. If you're on a fabric stash diet I'd suggest not looking at this site at all - you'll be tempted I'm sure.

So, only 9 days to Christmas now - once again this year has just flown by. We are staying home this year so I'm feeling remarkably calm about it all, although I still have a few things I want to sew before Christmas day so no doubt I'll end up running around like crazy anyway!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Review: Two Blue Birdies Stash Box

I was recently invited by Two Blue Birdies, a Melbourne based fabric and haberdashery online store to try out their Stash Box. I was very happy to discover their haberdashery range - they sell Aurifil thread and Tulip Hiroshima fine sewing needles, which in a recent workshop I did on fine sewing techniques the instructor highly recommended using Aurifil thread and good quality needles. Plus they also sell uber cool Merchant & Mills sewing patterns and tools.

The Stash Box is an interesting concept.  Each month you will receive a box of sewing and craft related goodies in the mail - you don't know what is in until it arrives which only adds to the excitement, and it sure beats only getting boring bills! It was pretty exciting opening the box to reveal this:

It's essentially a subscription service and you can choose between the Big Stash Box for $49.95/month; The Stash or the Felt Stash both for $34.95/m. You can cancel the subscription at any time which is useful if you find yourself getting behind on your creating and your Stash Boxes piling up unused. You can also buy single boxes of previous months directly from their online store if there are any left over which is a great way to try this out without any commitment.

The contents are pretty cute and useful:

There are 4 fat quarters, some cute flower buttons and pom pom trim, a sewing pattern for a stuffed toy, two pieces of felt, a fabric marker and two spools of Aurifill thread.

I must admit, as a garment sewer I'm a little perplexed about what to make with a fat quarter! Since I'm not into quilting at all, the pieces seem a little small to make anything useful although I am determined to do something with them because the fabrics have such lovely prints and vibrant colours. The fabric marker, threads, pom pom trim and buttons will definitely get used in the very near future though - those sorts of things are always handy to have, and my daughter has already been planning a dress for herself using those buttons and pom pom trim.

My verdict: I think it's a great concept, receiving a mystery box in the mail each month that will be filled with great crafty things is exciting and might give you inspiration to create at least one project a month. But as a garment sewer I'm not sure it's entirely my thing given it's focus on craft patterns and small pieces of fabric - I would prefer to buy the specific haberdashery items I need from them directly. However, if your sewing is mainly focused on crafty things and quilts then I think this box might suit you to a tee. It would also make a great present for a crafty friend - the gift that keeps on giving (for the life of the subscription anyway)!