Friday, January 29, 2010

Possibly too much wine for blogging

Hello friends!
I have made very slow progress with my new dress this week due to the massive inconvenience that is university! How do people with full time jobs manage to get anything done??? To make matters worse, all my sewing paraphernalia is at chez mama, so I can only sew when I can be bothered going over there. Michael won't let me have any sewing stuff in the house... but I'm a bit tempted to just gradually smuggle it all over here...

Anyway, a couple of people have asked me about the details of my coat from ages ago, so I thought I should post some (slightly) better pictures. Sorry about the lack of pants, it too hot for them today.


Unfortunately there won't be any new clothes until next weekened at least, due to the fact that this weekend is going to be spent in bathers at a resort next to Michael's brother's extremely thin girlfriend. NOT happy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Invasion Day

Uni started again yesterday, and I must say, I am struggling as I am very unaccustomed to leaving the house for more than 3 hours at a time! Luckily we get the Australia Day public holiday today, so I am using the opportunity to sew and photograph my new dress!

I can wear it to the hospital with my new top, or by itself. Note the cool darts at the front and the gingham going in different directions (I'm totally obsessed with gingham and stripes at the moment).

Edit: Yes, my shoes are decidedly delicious! They are vintage from eBay. They need breaking in and my feet are massive in this heat, so I won't be able to wear them properly until it cools down :(

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tagged! 7 things I love.

I've been tagged by the delicious April of The Right Hypoteneuse. I'm supposed to name 7 things I love and then tag 7 people. I'm not going to bother tagging anyone, but if anyone wants to do it, feel free.

1) My new top
I finished this about two hours ago. This is my second version... I cocked up its first incarnation yesterday (it now belongs to my mother who is not so picky about burn marks and a wonky neck-line). I was extra careful with this one, and it's pretty close to perfect. I don't have anything to wear with it yet, so you'll have to cope with a picture of it on the hanger.


2) My new fabric
Some of my fabric that I bought online arrived today! It's faaabbbulous. The floral one is from Tessuti (it's called Suki Mauve Bloom... and I have to confess the main reason I bought it is because it has the same name as my cat) and the others are from Superbuzzy. Don't they all go so well together??? That was entirely unintentional.


3) Suki

Especially when she purrs so much that she starts to drool.

4) The fire extinguisher in the hallway
Michael nearly burnt down our building the night before last when he tried to BLOW OUT THE FIRE when our gas bottle on our BBQ caught alight. Luckily Lily thought to use the fire extinguisher (who would have thought....)!

5) Being a Lady of Leisure
I have to go back to uni on Monday and I'm frightfully upset! I just want to spend my time swanning around, sewing and watching the tennis :(

6) Daddy's camera
How much better are my photos since I've been using it????

7) You guys!
Thanks for much for reading, commenting and following! I really appreciate it! I always try to reply to comments and check out your blogs. I'm a bit behind at the moment, but I will get to you soon :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fabric suppliers

A couple of people have asked me where I get my fabric from, so I thought I might share my favourite suppliers with you. Perth is such an awful place to buy fabric... even polyester from Spotlight is $20/m, so it's a constant battle to find fabric that is both nice AND affordable.

1) By far the cheapest way to buy fabric. E & M Greenfield is great for plain silks in various colours and 1m is the minimum order. Silk crepe is about $13/m (the more you buy, the cheaper it gets).

A lot of people say not to buy fabric online, because it's hard to know what the handle is like and the drape etc, but when you live in Perth you don't have much choice. I get about 90% of my fabric online, especially ebay.
1) Tessuti has some lovely fabrics that are fairly reasonably priced (although still slightly more expensive for my liking)
2) Superbuzzy I've just discovered and went a little crazy. Prices also OK, but not ideal (and postage fairly expensive to Australia).
3) I find the occasional thing on etsy, but it's so hard to find anything on that site that isn't a bloody knitted hot water bottle cover!!!
3) ebay is great, especially for vintage stuff. Here are my favourite sellers
  • British Fabrics -awesome wools and tweeds. (As an aside, how utterly ridiculous is it that it's so bloody difficult to find wool in Australia when it's all made from Australian sheep????)
  • This seller sells designer fabrics like Armani and Versace (that's where I got the fabric for my reversible dress). However beware, their photos are often dodgy.
  • mylittleboyke sells the most amazing antique and vintage trims, laces and buttons.
1) Hands down the best places to buy fabric are the Aurelio Costarella and Empire Rose fabric sales. These are fashion designers who sell their excess fabric at the end of the season for really, really cheap. They use brilliant commercial quality silk, wools and velvet that is often about $5/m. I'm sure other designers in other cities do the same, so it's worthwhile to look into. If you join the Aurelio Costarella facebook group, they send you emails telling you when the sales are, and the Empire Rose fabric sale is often advertised in the newspaper.
2) Angel Silk House in South Perth has really gorgeous silks and linens, however expect to pay at least $60/m - I haven't been there in ages as I can no longer afford it, but I presume it's still in existence.
3) Fabulous Fabrics in Balcatta is good for evening wear fabric , so long as you don't mind forking out big time for it (the handmade French lace is so wonderful, although $1000/m)! The gorgeous Carolyn is a particular fan, but I also rarely shop here due to the price.

That is all! If anyone else knows good places to buy fabric, please let me know! I'm always desperate for good suppliers.

Meanwhile, I spent about 4 hours last night looking for this image. I knew I'd seen it on someone's blog, but I couldn't remember which one! I was so close to giving up when I finally found it on Gertie's Blog for Better Sewing. I'm going to make a similar dress from my gingham Superbuzzy fabric, as soon as it arrives.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Reversible dress

Here is my fab new dress! It can be worn forwards or backwards and is amazingly flattering and fantastic.

I've also borrowed daddy's camera, hence the clearer photos (you can even seen my hysterical sunburn from 2 months ago... I really am not built for the sun)!


Hilariously, my mum actually semi designed this dress. I was intending to make versions of the dresses below. I drew pictures of modified versions of them both and mum thought that they were back and front pictures of the same dress. Anyway, so I thought it would be a brilliant idea to combine them into the one dress and make it reversible!

First image from Secret Squirrel Clothing
Second image from Mociun

Friday, January 15, 2010

No bows this time, but loads of broderie anglaise

Urgh! I am sooooo frustrated! Why can I not take a photo?? I think I spend more time trying to take a bloody photo of things I've made than I actually take sewing them! I finally took some photos in which I don't look like a deformed mutant... and then I had to crop them because they were taken from too far away (self-timer issues) and now they're all grainy and horrible. I also wanted to take some photos of the skirt on a hanger so you can see the construction and the details but I just can't do it! Either too much light or not enough light. So hard!

Anyway, this is my new skirt. It is magnificent and I wish the photos conveyed that! (How hilarious is my super-serious pose in the second picture!)

Oh I and nearly forgot! I found the Ann Demeulemeester knock-off sandals that I desperately wanted! They're not exactly the same, but similar. Michael hates them. Whenever I wear them he says "you look beautiful from the ankles up". Hilarious!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Do you wear what you sew?

The gorgeous and talented Stephanie from the Naked Seamstress wrote a very interesting post where she discussed a problem faced by many seamstresses: why do we so often spend hours making something, but rarely actually wear the things we've made?

I think the reason that so many of us find it difficult to wear what we sew is simply because we don't like what we've made.

After 8 years of sewing, I am sad to say, that it's only been within about the last year and a half that I've started to wear clothes that I made. Actually, at the moment I am so poor and my taste is so expensive that probably 90% of the things I wear I've made. So, in my infinite wisdom (ha!), I thought I'd share the guidelines that I follow when I make a garment, so that I'll (almost) always like it enough to wear in public!

Choose your fabric wisely ! - This is the most important tip!
  • So many fabric shops (especially in Australia) are dismal indeed and it's so tempting just to buy something because you can't find anything better. When you're choosing fabric, ask yourself "if I saw a garment in the style I am making made out of this fabric, would I buy it?" NEVER buy fabric that you wouldn't ordinarily wear.
  • If you live in Australia, Spotlight and Textile Traders are fine for zips, thread, calico, lining and interfacing, but don't expect to find any decent fabric there. I have never once made anything out of Spotlight or Textile Traders fabric that I didn't despise.
  • Polyester and nylon are heinous and should be avoided at all costs. Anything shiny (especially satin) also invariably looks bad (unless you're very thin and a very good designer). Wool, silk, linen and cotton (or a combination of any of these) always look classy.
  • You're asking for trouble if you try to mix stretch and non-stretch fabric in the one garment.
  • Unless you're ultra brilliant at sewing/designing and VERY creative, only use fabric for the purpose for which it is designed. Curtain, upholstery and quilting fabric should be used for making curtains, cushions and quilts only! Similarly, shirting fabric should only be used to make shirts (or shirt-dresses), and don't try to make a skirt out of a knit!
Choose your style wisely!
  • Don't make anything in a style that you wouldn't ordinarily buy.
  • Only make things in styles that suit you! If you're not sure if you look any good in high-waisted pleated pants (for example), go to your favourite shops and try some on. If they look hideous in the shop, chances are they'll look even worse if you try to make your own.
Make sure it fits!
  • The whole point of sewing your own clothes is to make them fit better than the stuff in the shops! If you MUST use a commercial pattern, make sure you measure the pattern to determine the appropriate size. Don't just make a size 12 because you usually wear a size 12 or because the back of the packet says you're a size 12.
Make a toile/muslin and make the necessary adjustments!
  • This is the only way to tell if it is going to look any good or if it will fit. Today I made 3 toiles of my next dress (it's reversible and amazing, can't wait to show you!). If I'd just made it from my first pattern I would have wasted 3 metres of silk.
Ensure the process of making is as pleasant as possible!
  • Keep it simple. Know your limitations as a seamstress and designer. Some of the easiest things I've made are my favourite clothes.
  • Make sure it doesn't take too long. If you've been looking at something for too ages, you'll never wear it.
  • Don't rush and don't cut corners. This ALWAYS ends in tears and ends up taking you 10 times longer than it would have if you just did it properly in the first place.
  • Don't get bogged down in rules. I have no idea how to put a zip in the "correct" way. Instead of getting angry and frustrated that I haven't done it right, I just make it up as I go along and try to do it as neatly as possible.
Be flexible!
  • Hardly any of the things I've made actually look the way I've planned. Often I'll be mid-way through making something and I'll realise that it's not going to work. If you soldier on and make it anyway: disaster. Don't be afraid to change your plans; often you'll end up with a more interesting and more fabulous garment that you originally imagined.
If you like it, wear it!
  • Don't keep things for special occasions. You've made it, so wear it before it goes out of fashion.
If you don't like it, refashion it or get rid of it!
  • There is nothing worse than something you don't like languishing in your wardrobe. Every time you open your closet it will remind you of your failure. Get rid of it and move on.

If you couldn't be bothered reading any of that (fair enough!), the golden rule of sewing is: Never make anything you wouldn't ordinarily wear, or want to wear. If you wouldn't buy it, don't make it!

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Final Collection 2005

I can't believe I didn't think to put these photos up earlier! This is some of my final collection from uni. Bear in mind they are from 2005, so the styles are a bit out of fashion! Most of it's made out of silk and recycled vintage fabric and trims and my special top-secret felting technique!

I have more photos... but I'll put the rest up another day!

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Oh dear... these brilliant images make my terrible photos look even more ghastly. Thanks to the brilliant photographer Noni Marston for doing such tremendous work!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Joan Holloway dress

Here is the shapeless 80s sack to which I was referring in my last post! I caved in and made it tight fitting which was an excellent decision as I feel very much like Joan Holloway in it (I have such a massive crush on her).

I'm so glad this dress worked out. I spent so long on it (and way more money than I would have liked) and I was worried right up until it was completely finished that it would be hideous. I seem to have a time limit with making clothes; if I spend too long on something I get so sick of it by the time it's finished that I'll never wear it. Or, if something takes too long, I often can't tell if I like it or if I just feel compelled to like it because I've invested so much time in it. Anyway, I love the dress and it's modest enough to wear to the hospital, although I'm pretty sure I'll be the first medical student game enough to wear coral!


Joan Holloway (unfortunately not me):

And here are the cool details of the dress! Of particular note are tucks (or whatever they are called) on the sleeves and the cool sticky-outy pockets. I'm pointing these out because I had to do about 10 toiles before I could get the pattern right!


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Draped dress

I'm working on a new dress at the moment but it's giving me nothing but trouble. I'm onto my 4th draft of the pattern - it was supposed to be loose and comfortable but instead it looks like a shapeless 80s sack so I've given up and am making it tight fitting instead.

In the meantime, here is the dress that I wore yesterday. I made it just over a year ago from gorgeous vintage fabric that I inherited from my friend's mum. I've had it for years but I could never figure out what to do with it.

It was quite interesting making it, because I only had about 3 metres of fabric and I didn't have enough to do the skirt that I intended. Which turned out to be very fortunate as it forced me to drape the fabric instead of cut it, and the skirt ended up being the coolest part of the dress.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Wardrobe Refashion

I've just taken a 6 month pledge at Wardrobe Refashion to stop buying new clothes and make my own instead. I've been really lazy with my sewing lately so hopefully this will be the excuse I need to make more fabulous things (and hopefully improve my abysmal "modelling" and photography skills).

Here is the new dress that I made a couple of weeks ago. Sorry about the grumpy photo, the sun was in my eyes and it was really hot.



And here is a hilarious photo of my boobs (it's actually the least graphic out of all the boob photos I took) - it's supposed to show the details of the dress!

As you can see, it's made out of two different types of fabric in the same colour. The back is also made out of the same fabric that the bows, collar and sleeves are made from. I had a bit of a dilemma because I had a wool georgette and a silk/linen blend at home that would be suitable for the dress, but I thought that if I made the whole thing out of the silk/linen it would look to dressy and if I made it all out of the wool georgette I'd look a too much like a 1970s dinner lady. But then there's the problem when you combine similar but different fabrics it can look like you ran out of fabric halfway through... Anyway, I think I pulled it off very well and it's my new favourite dress.