WHEN THE STARS ALIGN

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I love those moments in life when you know just what to do.
It doesn’t always have to be sewing. It’s just that golden moment that happens some days when you stop ‘making do’, the stars align and everything seems so simple. It’s as if life is singing to you.
I love that sound.
I love those moments.
I had one years ago, a few months before a trip to London to see a lovely old friend who was having her first baby. If you are reading this mate, I’ve ‘borrowed’ this off your Flickr account. Wasn’t sure about sending everyone there given its packed with family photos.
I was excited for her. Wanted to take something special. Didn’t know what.
Then I saw a quilt pattern and it was perfect. The colors were too soft but I just loved it and I knew just what to do.
There was the odd moment, like spending about 2 hours in the local patchwork shop to find the right border fabrics. Purchasing something and then changing my mind to go through the process all over again. It was worth it. The patchwork shop owner bought the pattern to remake ‘my quilt’ I figure that’s a good sign.
I’ve always had a ‘thing’ for checks/plaids in patchwork and a huge amount of this quilt came from my beloved stash – it felt right!
I had another moment yesterday.
I think I found the perfect fabric for a Lisette Passport Jacket and Simplicity dress 2444
I’m determined to line the Passport jacket so I’m doing some research before I start, starting here at Tilly and the buttons
I wasn’t sure if I would make Simplicity 2444 but had a ‘thing’ for it as the pattern number is the same as my postcode. Hey! I never said I was normal.
I could not imagine it on me… Until yesterday…
I love those moments!
Watch this space.

THE FOUR FOOT DRESS…

I’m embarrassed to admit it but I’m pretty pleased with myself.

LIsette Itinerary Dress, Simplicity 2060

This is Simplicity 2060 aka the Lisette Itinerary Dress View 2.

I’ve called it “My Four Foot Dress’ and I’m rather happy about the result. Can you tell from that smug self-satisfied look?

Like the Lisette Passport Dress, it’s not a complicated affair but if you score a smokin’ fabric combination I would rather let the fabric sing than a complicated pattern.

I like this little pattern and I like the fabric combination I’ve chosen. And I can’t wait to wear it… somewhere, anywhere! I had planned to wear it to work today to show off however the weather, amazingly, turned lovely! Darn it! Around 27 degrees lovely which is more of a late-summer temperature than nearly-winter, so it shall have to wait until next week for its first proper outing. Boo hoo.

I confess I did wear it post-front-yard-photo-opp to drop off Miss 9 at a slumber party as a mini roadtest and was asked ‘Wow! Are you going out somewhere??’ Which I figure means I am dressed quite nicely… or so appallingly that it was in fact a gentle hint to go home and change. I’m sticking to Option 1.

When I saw this dress I immediately thought of making it in navy linen and using a Japanese fabric for the contrasting yoke and obi belt. I love having sewing visions! I’m a recovering patchworker and have long had a great love of Japanese fabrics, and this dress pattern was SCREAMING out for a little bit of Japanese fabric loveliness. The quality and prints of Japanese patchwork fabrics are just lovely, they popped up all through my many quilts over the years (BTW Japanese patchwork is also amazing, their attention to detail and handwork is extraordinary). My original vision was for a small cherry blossom print on a navy background but no matter how long I looked at the shelves of the only patchwork shop in town it just did not materialise. My conjuring talents are limited apparently. There was a cherry blossom print but the flowers were just a little too far apart. This choice was the next best option but I really like it, especially with my beloved brown boots (if I don’t say so myself). It’s sedate… rather like me…

I’ve always steered clear of linen as I have this real ‘thing’ about fabric that crushes (I even sneak around in shops crumpling up the clothes in my hand before I consider them as a ‘potential purchase’ to see if it’s going to drive me nuts – yes, shop assistants must love me). I know that linen is supposed to look like that but I just HATE turning up to work with a stupid seatbelt crumple line across my chest – it’s like turning up with pillow creases on your face. Not cool. This linen didn’t crush badly as I worked with it so I’m confident this dress is going to become a favourite. (No I’m not a control freak… I’m just particular about some specific things… I like to think of it as adding ‘interest and texture to my personality’… rather like pretending I don’t have dirty blonde curly hair…)

I’ve read several recommendations not to use quilting fabrics for dressmaking as they don’t tend to drape well but I think it works for this dress – am I delusional? Well I am often delusional but I don’t think so in this case!

This is a lovely little pattern. I cut size 8 and graded out over my hips to a size 10 as the linen had no give in it. Some of the pattern reviews said it verged on small – others said big. I think I could have gotten away with 8 all the way but I’m happy with it as it is as leggings will fit under it nicely in our colder months with plenty of wiggle room. Yes, when it gets down to a frosty 16-18 degrees in the middle of the day. LOL.Lisette Itinerary Dress, Simplicity 2060 Obi Belt

It was an easy pattern to cut out as the shape is very boxy without the obi belt. So I whipped out the old patchwork rotary cutter and had it done in no time at all.

I struggled a bit with the sleeves but the light at night in my sewing room is extremely poor (need to get a table light) and sewing navy at night is no fun at all!!!

The pattern for View B actually has curved hem at the sides however I preferred it straight like the pattern envelope. So I skipped the curved edges and squared it off. I’m not a big fan of the big shirt look on me. I feel like a little person wearing big person clothing.

I also lengthened the obi belt to a size 10 as I had read some reviews where it did not meet at the back. Mine overlaps by quite a bit and I’ll have to do some research as to whether this is what an obi belt should look like – or whether the Japanese are more free-wheelin’ about the back view of their obi belts! The pattern said to slip-stitch the opening of the obi belt closed. I just tucked in the raw edge, ironed it and then used my tricky little edging foot (oh how I love my Bernina presser feet – probably more than my high heel collection right now – which is saying something) and just stitched a little closer to the obi edge than the pattern suggested. The raw edges have been firmly caught inside and the edge is very neat. I love this presser foot, I also used it for the edge stitching on the contrast yoke. It’s a very fast and easy way to get a consistent top stitch seam.

Edge stitching with the specialised Bernina presser footI went a bit nuts trying out my Bernina presser feet and used four different presser feet on this dress. The standard foot, the overlocker foot for seam neatening, buttonhole foot and the edge stitch foot.  So I’ve called this my Four Foot Dress (I’m actually towering five foot four, only one foot two shorter than my ELH – ever lovin’ hubby). I’ve had my machine for about eight years now and only ever used two feet. Why? Because I was a patchworker and I didn’t have a need for the other fancy feet that came with my machine. However a new stitchin’ day has dawned! Hello Sunshine : )

The buttons are from my stash – coconut shell buttons all the way from Tonga where the ELH and I honeymooned. They have been waiting for the right outfit for…. quite some time! I can easily get this dress over my head without opening the button closure (in fact I just stitched the button  on my shoulder right on top of the buttonhole, rather than cutting the buttonhole open). Despite the fact the dress doesn’t need the button opening, if (or when) I make this dress again I would still do the button closure as I think it gives the dress a nice finish. It would be rather plain without.Lisette Itinerary Dress, buttons from Tonga!

I like the sleeve length but am tempted to add a little finishing touch with a button on the outside of the sleeves at the cuff with a little thin loop of obi fabric coming from underneath and around the button- does that make sense? Not that the sleeves need it but I think it would be a nice finishing touch. I might try pinning it on and see if it works or if it’s overkill.

I like buttonholes. They freak lots of people out but I think they are FUN. My Bernina has this super dooper (technical term) buttonhole foot. You put on the foot, set your machine to buttonhole stitch and then press the reverse stitch button when you get to the bottom of the buttonhole. The trusty Bernina takes over from there (just keep an eye that the fabric is feeding through straight) and every buttonhole you do after that is exactly the same. Fabulous!

There is quite a bit of fabric over of the contrast material when you cut out this dress (assuming you are well behaved and cut the obi ties out on the bias). So I cut the remainder into bias strips in preparation for another Tardis Skirt - or it might make a nice contrast trim on a Sorbetto top. Now there’s a thought!

I haven’t quite finished all the stitching on the obi belt – I was too excited and wanted to try it on RIGHT NOW and take a photo.

I love being naughty.

Now what to make next??

More pictures on flickr

Happy Twirling Whirling Skirt

Miss 7 road testing the Happy Twirly Whirly Skirt

I’m quite amazed at how excited the girls get when I make something for them (probably because I was such an ungrateful little monster to my mother – I now realise that – sorry Mum!). Miss 9 has told me that the best clothes are homemade. Yes, she’s quite brilliant.

One afternoon Miss 7 requested a skirt. So we used a pretty little cotton which we had found on the $3 clearance table at Spotlight - but we had no pattern. Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing came to the rescue, her Gathered Skirt Tutorial is just brilliant.

The only stumbling block was we had no zipper. So instead I just extended the waistband at both ends and it ties up at her waist in a little bow. It’s not very fancy but it works!

Unfortunately I measured her tummy after lunch – so by late afternoon it was a little droopy. I’ve since made up another skirt in the same fabric (it’s so pretty!) - using zipper and a button. I should have put the zipper closer to the waistband but it’s just an experiment – and fortunately the lab rat is oblivious to the minor flaws and wears it with pride.

She’s given them quite a workout in the twirling and whirling department – and I’m thinking that I might try making up a circle skirt. It’s great having girls, I can make up mini-version of things and experiment!

The end result of the Happy Twirly Whirly Skirt is happiness. And surely that’s what sewing should be all about? Purely unadulterated joy?

All the Twirly Whirly Roadtest images are here.

In the meantime. Still no Colette Patterns or pattern sheets. :-( My poor little mailbox.

Lisette Itinerary Dress - the fabric

Lisette Itinerary Dress – the fabric

However I have stopped moping about and cut out not one but two projects! Hooray! After some advice from MyStitchnBitch about sizing on the Lisette Itinerary (thank you CJ!) I’ve finally taken to the lovely linen with some scissors. I’m using a Japanese cotton for the contrasting yoke and obi belt – which seemed like an appropriate choice. I’m going to be interested to see how this turns out!Being a former patchworker I am very happy to have a large cutting mat and a rotary cutter. I don’t use it often for cutting out my patterns but the Lisette Itinerary Dress has lots of long straight edges and I cut it out in no time!I’ve also cut out another version of the Vogue Tardis Skirt. I picked up a black and silver upholstery fabric for $6. I’m picturing it with black leggings and boots this winter… it could be a complete disaster though!!

Off to get a new haircut and colour – it takes a lot of work to cover blonde let me tell you!

Fabric: Tardis Take 2

Vogue 1247: Tardis Take 2

Stamp of Approval Dress

Simplicity 2209 - source www.sewlisette.com

Simplicity 2209 - source http://www.sewlisette.com

I’m bamboozled… yes, yes lovely jacket on the pattern envelope… but why cover up the frightfully cute sun dress?? Perhaps it’s Lisette’s hidden treasure! Aha. Busted! Full pattern details here…I purchased just one Lisette pattern - this one. Mainly because I love shirt dresses and I want more but have been struggling to find patterns that I like. I want to make version C and it’s been languishing in my pile as I am very tired at the moment and the thought of cutting out so many patterns pieces makes me more tired. So version C can wait for now.

Fortunately (or unfortunately as ELH* may think) Spotlight had a sale and I gave into the urge and got the Lisette Passport pattern. It has far less pieces which was a saviour for this little chook at the moment. I got the pattern for the cute casual jacket but fell in love with the dress bodice darts which you can’t even see in the in-store catalogue! It’s a silly that Simplicity doesn’t put line art in their catalogues and it doesn’t come up immediately on their website in the way Vogue, McCalls etc does.

I picked up some super cute navy and white spot cotton for this pattern’s ‘muslin’ but I like it so much that I think it’s ‘more than a muslin’.

This dress is easy peasy. The waist darts look effective and you simply sew one and then the second overlaps it. For the non-stitchers it looks like an impressive engineering feat. For the stitchers out there (such as the ones reading this) they will just go ‘that’s hardly rocket science’. Fortunately all of my friends are non-stitchers so I just dazzle them with my cleverness (this is our secret, please don’t tell).Simplicity 2209 - Lisette Passport Dress

The dress went together without a hitch, there was absolutely nothing to complain about – right up until the zipper (cue scary music). All those Pattern Reviews are right – the zip instructions are awful (well if you are not a very experienced zip installer they are and this is only this little black duck’s third zip!). It’s supposed to be a lapped zipper… which would be lovely… so I dutifully installed it as instructed since I had never put in a lapped zipper…

It looked awful…
so I ripped it out…
I installed it again…
It looked even more awful…
I put the dress aside and thought ‘ugh, such a shame, nice dress but I can’t wear it like that‘.

Then I woke up on a public holiday and thought ‘I AM going to fix that dress. I AM.”

So apart while I was feeling positive and sounding rather like a Dr Seuss character, I leapt out of bed (I’m lying, I’m not a morning person at all, so it was more of a roll, moan, groan manoeuvre.), grabbed my stitch ripper and took to the dress with murderous intent. My mother watched me taking out the zip for the third time and commented she didn’t think it was that bad – crikey this from a perfectionist!! She clearly thought someone had stolen her slapdash daughter and replaced her with someone else!

This time I ignored the pattern instructions and just put it in as a centred zipper. It’s still not perfect (after all the stitching and ripping – small amounts of swearing – what can one expect), but it’s under my armpit and that’s not an area I tend to highlight when putting my outfits together. In fact I can’t think of a single person who dresses to highlight their ‘perfect pits’. Anyone remember this image of Julia Roberts at the premiere of Notting Hill? This did not bother me particularly… but clearly it got a lot of other people quite hot under the collar, but you get my point. On the upside, I’ve put in six zips now into just four dresses. Cool stats!

Other reviewers have suggested putting it in the back. I think this is a great idea but I like the slick run of fabric across my back. So when I make this again (note: not if) I’m going to try an invisible zipper – underneath my concealed armpit (now that I have a very lovely invisible zipper foot for my precious Bernina).

The dress does have facings, they are easy to attach and they are caught up neatly around the armholes with bias binding. I really liked this style of facing. There was no puckering around the armpit or masses of flopping facing to tuck in. All neat & tidy.

I’m going through a belt phase at the moment and picked up this cute little red belt at Dotti for $4.95 (ha! a Dotti belt for the dotty dress). I just love how accessories always seem to be on sale. It would appear there is a whole generation who has not picked up on the power of accessories and the art of distraction so bargain bins are overflowing with little cheap and not-so-nasty delights.

One day more people will discover the huge power accessories have to create a focal point and highlight your good bits (or distract them from the not so good bits) and I’ll have to pay full price. But until then it’s our dirty little secret, OK? It just so happened the belt perfectly matched my red heels (which unfortunately did not cost $4.95). I love red – I just can’t wear it as a main colour because I’m quite sallow skinned – but accessories work a treat! The belt kinda hides the cute waist dart but I like the navy/red/dot combo so much I can’t resist. I would love to make this one in a textured slubby-sort-of linen/cotton (yeah that’s a technical term). I think the bodice would look smashing.

I like this dress, it’s simple and classic. I’ve never worn so many dots but I think it’s growing on me. This fabric and the Passport dress deliver maximum impact for very little work. What more can a girl ask for?

There are lots of lovely dresses on Pattern Review, especially like this one by CJgal and this checked one by the Quirky Peach v.cute. My dress seems quite fitted in comparison to most but I think it looks OK. I think if it was a size bigger it would be gaping around the armholes and the neckline on me (my bone structure resembles a sparrow). I think it works on me – or I could be delusional?

Just a BTW: I finished this dress around the time I started emailing a London-based friend about an escape trip (the ELH* thinks I should go overseas – I hate to disappoint him so I’m strategising the how, where and why). So the Passport Dress is kinda perfect for right now in my life. Given that funny coincidence, I’m off to the local quilting shop tomorrow to get a Japanese contrast fabric for the Lisette Itinerary Dress (sorry ELH) that I’m making in navy linen. I guess that’s the perfect follow-up to getting the Passport sorted out… Itinerary is next.

Note: I whacked together a Colette Peony yesterday. Horrendous. Now that dress bodice MUST be made first as a muslin (I am humbled). My measurements match Size 0 but the bodice is a complete disaster. I would share an image but I’m concerned I might crack the camera lens…

I showed Homer, my sewing room buddy (see right), and he freaked out.

* Note: ELH is the Ever Lovin’ Hubby

More pictures on Flickr – including the zip

Definitely Not a Sack of Potatoes… a Frolicking Frock!

Vogue 1236 - Definitely not a Sack of PotatoesMeet Vogue 1236 a DKNY design described as ‘loose-fitting dress’ but I call it my Definitely Not a Sack of Potatoes… a Frolicking Frock.

The pattern envelope did not promise great exciting things as the fabric chosen by Vogue was a little ‘beige/dull’ for me - especially on a beige background. I might not be as sophisticated as these Vogue peeps, but I’m with Lladybird, the Vogue styling department’s choices are just ‘blah’ sometimes (and this image always makes me giggle – great dress but does she need to wee!?).

I believed there lurked a Frolicking Frock within that beige envelope. I also found some appealing reviews on Pattern review, like this one and this one…  which made me think I was not completely delusional. It also helps when you stumble across a fabric which screams from the bolt ‘buy me buy me‘! Is it just me that fabric talks to??

It’s rated as ‘very easy’ and that’s an understatement. I personally think my friends who claim they cannot sew on a button could cope with this… then again perhaps I’m being generous…. the only vague tricky bit was marking the pleats using tailor’s tacks, pins etc (since I had no tailor’s chalk at hand – a problem since rectified). However if you can transfer pattern marks, fold fabric so lines meet and baste… well what’s about as tricky as this dress gets. It’s Dressmaking for Dummies 101. There were no DOH! moments for me.

There are no zips, no buttons, no fasteners (I omitted the lingerie straps as I am a complete hussy – and Vogue/DKNY, the shoulder straps are just not that skinny to warrant them!). There is also no back skirt split.

I’ve read patterns reviews and blogs where about people complain about Vogue instructions but I have not needed a degree in rocket science to complete my last two projects. Perhaps I have been lucky?? Is something sinister waiting just around the corner??

I forgot to mention! There are pockets. Lovely pockets. TWO lovely pockets.

I was very very naughty and did not make a muslin despite my passionate love of this fabric. Risky I know – but I like livin’ on the edge. Crazy stuff. I did hold my breath the first time I slipped it over my head – I think it fits OK over the booty department?

Nothing fancy in the finishing department, I made this before the Tardis Skirt  revealed the beauty of Hong Kong finishes. However I’m quite happy with the machine neatening as the fabric is not a frantic frayer and, while the dress is delightful, it doesn’t really merit much more. It’s a Frolicking Frock.

I did cheat a bit and just cut a piece out for the belt on the fly with no pattern piece. Hello? Tie belts are not that tricky. It was long enough to tie in a simple knot which I prefer to a bow. I wanted to preserve as much of this fabric as possible for a Sorbetto as it’s just scrumptious (if fact I purchased it in black as well for Vogue 1220 but that’s another post (once I make it of course)! I got it at Spotlight, yes shock horror, but it’s lovely quality. The pattern could be described as finely cross-hatched blue lines with very subtle floral design elements. So subtle I did not realise until I got the fabric home!

We took some photos on the back deck in the morning but the light was bad (and I cannot ever claim to be a ‘morning person’) or we could need a new camera… there was also some debate with Miss 9 as to whether the fabric belt or the big brown leather one looked best. The jury is still out… which belt do you think works best?

Later in the day I took the little hound (Banjo our wicked little whippet) and little people to the ‘dog beach’. Miss 9 took some pictures for me – on the phone as we arrived at the beach to find the camera battery was flat. Perhaps that was my DOH! moment of the pattern.Vogue 1236: beach test drive

It’s just over 4 weeks to winter here and clearly the weather is terrible… LOL not. The kids spent an hour in the water.

This is a great dress for me. I love dresses I can cinch in at the waist and create a little bit more shape. What I don’t like is baggy dresses that turn me into a short sack of potatoes or a plank hidden in an empty potato sack - there is a fine line between potato sacks and ‘loose-fitting dresses’ in my wardrobe world.

I’ve also worn it to work with a jacket and heels – and got lots of ‘where did you buy that dress? Cute!’ which left me rather chuffed! Happy hand clapping noises.

FROLICKING FROCK Vogue 1236 - big tick of approval.

I have a very cute bird print voile – which I am tempted to make into this dress but I’m concerned it might be too lightweight… and it’s far too cute to waste…

BIG NEWS - I purchased an invisible zipper foot for my Bernina. V.exciting… and it’s the weekend tomorrow…

Next, I think I might share my Lisette Passport dress. I woke up on ANZAC Day and decided I could not live with the lapped zipper job I had done – awful! So I ripped it out for the third time and sewed it back in as a centred one. Still not fabulous but it is better. This is unheard-of behaviour, in a former life I would have binned it!

Patience is not one of my virtues

I am so NOT patient. Never have been. Never will be.

Colette Sewing Handbook

Colette Sewing Handbook - a journey plan

I’m the type of person that decides to do something and does it.So it’s been rather frustrating waiting for The Colette Sewing Handbook to arrive via airmail from Amazon. I ordered it – then was told they did not have it in stock. Then they emailed and said that they were not sure if they could obtain a copy and did I still want to wait? So I did – even though it was killing me. Then the book finally arrived (via canoe I believe)… with no patterns. So now I am waiting for the publisher to post them to me. Alas.

Lesson learnt – shoulda have spent the extra money and ordered it from Colette directly. Oh well, I have purchased five patterns from them already. And at least I got to hang onto the beautiful book and read and prepare for the arrival of the patterns!

I ordered it from Amazon as I stumbled across the book there – looking for something else, saw the cover, was intrigued, and then became so inspired reading the comments, I promptly decided to take up sewing again. So I bought it. It seems like a great structured way to polish some old skills and learn some new ones. I am slightly terrified of learning how to actually fit a pattern properly but the ELH (ever lovin’ hubby) is buying me a dress form to help. Hooray!

I’m so glad I did find this book as I have discovered a whole new world in blogland via the Colette flikr groups and profiles which lead me to more blogs - it’s been inspiring and also provide me with a virtual community as NONE of my friends sew. NONE.

So I decided to blog, perhaps someone will read it. Perhaps not. But I need to have some sort of conversation and this seemed a good place to start.

So I await The Colette Sewing Handbook and I dream of a black meringue, floral pastille, lacy sheer taffy (don’t think anyone has done this). I am waiting for a liquorice and truffle vision…

In the meantime, I’m torn between stitching another delightful Vogue 1247 (I think this is going to be an addiction), Lisette Itinerary dress (although I’m searching for a perfect Japanese print to contrast with a lovely navy linen I have waiting), a muslin for the Lisette Traveler Dress in view C (all in one fabric with a decent belt) or take something that looks a tad tricky but interesting Vogue 1220.

Oh and I will take some pictures of my other completed projects over the next week or so!