Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My 40th Birthday Dress

(Yes, this little old blog continues to crawl along...just!) 

My 40th Birthday Dress

This dress has had two lovely outings since it's creation. It's maiden voyage was a fabulous banquet at Mr Wong's in Sydney with my parents, my husband, my three sisters and their wonderful husbands. My father turned 70 and same weekend I turned 40, so we all flew into Sydney for the weekend to celebrate.

It's second outing was last Sunday. My husband and two close friends, threw me a surprise birthday party - a wonderful birthday brunch with my Cairns friends at Nu Nu in Palm Cove. It was a perfect morning.

Last month I wrote a post detailing all my inspiration for this dress - a mash-up of Vogue 8241, Vogue 1247 and a witchery RTW playsuit. So did it all go to plan? Well, to be honest, the toiling took a lot more work than I originally anticipated. Here is my story...

The Bodice Front
Taking a pattern off a RTW garment that has asymmetrical draping and gathering proved to be a serious pain in the butt. I had to play around with this a lot and spent far more time on it than I would have liked too. I was still fiddling with this, post-toile, once sewn up in the fashion fabric. I'm still not sure I've got it quite right. I think it would have been far easier to start with a commercial pattern for this style. I would much preferred to have the expertise of a professional pattern maker and drafter to provide me with notches and to determine drape, gathering etc.

The Bodice Back
After toiling up the bodice back from Vogue 8241, I was disappointed that it did not have the 'cut-away' look as suggested on the pattern envelope. I had to cut quite a bit away and have still ended up with something that does not look 'cut-away'. I could achieved this easily enough, but the practical side of my personality voted for bra-friendly in the end. 

The Skirt
In the end, I ditched the skirt from Vogue 8241 and Vogue 1247 and went with the skirt from Vogue 1190, a dress that I sewed up for my husband's 40th back in 2011. I removed the seams at the side front and cut the front as one piece so I did not have to chop any flowers or butterflies in half.The skirt hangs and moves beautifully.

Adding a Waist-Stay
One thing I had to add was a waist stay...just above my hips. The skirt did not sit on my hips without falling. It needed a stay to keep it in place. Why a stay? I wanted to avoid placing the delicate fabric under stress at the side seams and so wanted to keep it semi-fitted. The stay is made using a wide piece of grosgrain ribbon that clips at the CB. I hand-stitched it at a few points along the bodice/skirt seam.

And just because these photos are sooooo dark, a little close up of the beautiful satin-backed CDC silk from Tessuti. My goodness, this stuff is gorgeous!

Overall, the garment was a success, not perfect but wearable and comfortable. I'm still not 100% sure it is quite right and may still fiddle with it if I'm ever inclined. The drape of the top and where it meets the skirt throws me a bit. I'm not sure if this is because it is wrong or just because it is unfamiliar...time will tell.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Stripey Summer Dress

Pattern: G*rman Copy
Fabric: Silk twill from The Fabric Store

One of my younger sister's has quite an interesting wardrobe. She's always had a good eye for fashion and home decor and tends to keep her finger on the pulse regarding what's on-trend. I usually only get to visit her once a year, so when I do, I love looking through her wardrobe at the past year's purchases. We generally buy the same size in RTW so I get to try everything on. During my last visit, I whipped out the sad leftover rolls of Christmas paper and traced off a few things.

One of the dresses was a cute summery G*rman dress. The original dress looks a little funkier than mine - G*rman always has fabulous prints so it's hard to complete. It was also quite a bit shorter. I wanted my a little longer so it would be work appropriate but I wonder of I've gone a tad too long and entered into the world of frump. Hmmmmm. This could be a super quick alteration. Maybe it would help if I was actually wearing shoes. These photos was taken immediately after sewing the dress, as I wandered out to show off my new creation to my husband, which kind of explains the lack of shoes and sad looking hair. But hey, I did throw on a necklace, so it's not all bad.

I know that this is not a particularly flattering silhouette on me. The original wasn't super fabulous either. However, I was completely taken with the comfort factor. More and more, I'm reaching for really comfortable cuts - cuts that do not inhibit movement at all and are cool and floaty, particularly in summer. Summer in the tropics can be tough - the heat and humidity can become quite oppressive and debilitating. I want clothes that carry me though the day, rather than contributing to the discomfort. I'm quite confident that this dress and I will become good friends.

I found the construction of the pockets quite interesting. The contrasting black strip is actually part of the pocket facing. It folds back on itself. Quite nifty!

A few deets:
- The main fabric is a lightweight silk twill.
- The black contract is a silk habutai that has been interfaced with lightweight fusible interfacing.
- Armholes and neckline are finished with self-made bias binding.
- The hemband is cut on the fold.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Furoshiki Market Bags

Furoshiki Bag
pattern from 

After my outdoor area spruce-up (see previous post), I was left with a pile of good quality outdoor fabric scraps - too good to throw out, yet not something I would use for a garment or hand-bag. Rather than throw them all out, I was inspired by SewJillian's post, to whip up a new set of market bags this afternoon.

Check them out....

I didn't line them, nor did I finished them particularly neatly on the inside as I would normally do. Given that they were only ever going to hold mangoes, passionfruit and other fruits, veges and salad items, I thought I could get away with a bit of slap-dash. Also, I didn't want to spend much time on them...I do have a birthday party dress that I should be focusing on!

TIme for a Spruce Up!

I'm not usually one for home decor or craft sewing for that matter - all those straight lines and numerous zippers drive me batty with tedium. Yet, a few weeks ago it was time to succumb to the straight lines and give my outdoor area a little spruce up. 

The area you see in these photos used to be our laundry. Our house was built around 1960 and is typical of the style that followed Queenslanders. From the inside, it looks very similar to a Queenslander, with it's casement windows, tall ceilings and wooden floorboards, yet it has a brick veneer. Typical of this era, the laundry was placed outdoors. 

Last year when we renovated, we moved the laundry to the far end of the patio and partially enclosed it. This opened up the space and gave us room for a small outdoor area out the back, just off the kitchen. Can you spot the white chalky stuff on the brick  - I think that might be 55 years of soap scum & bleach. It is not keen on budging! (and I am not keen on scrubbing, so it will stay).

We already owned all of the furniture shown in the photos. The dark wooden set has lived on our pool deck for years and the bamboo set was a freeby from a deceased estate. The white screen (which is yet to be hung on the wall it leans against) was originally in our house when we bought it and was used to separate the dining area from the lounge room. We removed this to open up the house a little more.

I recovered most of the cushions shown in the photos. I left the fading blue/grey covers shown on the dark wood furniture as the fabric was still in good-enough condition. All the orange/turquoise/checkerboard stuff is my work. I purchased all the fabric from Fab Outdoor Fabrics. This stuff is super expensive, yet is made to last. I live in a pretty harsh climate - smack bang in the middle of the tropics. If you don't buy the good stuff, it will grow mouldy overnight, get covered with black dots and start to disintegrate. 

A touch of fun - Over the summer break,  my younger sister and I taught ourselves how to do a little macrame. I knotted three pot holders that are hanging in my spruced-up outdoor area. I can't see myself becoming a die-hard macrame-ist, but it was fun for a little while. Three pot holders is definitely enough.

The view above is part of what we see from my spruced-up outdoor area. It's the wet-season in the tropics at the moment and everything is GREEN and THRIVING...even the weeds. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

My 40th Birthday Dress

Over the past few weeks I have been dreaming of my 40th birthday dress. I've had a whirlpool of ideas and designs swirling around and around in my mind. I've spent hours trawling the internet for inspiration, and patterns that vaguely resemble that inspiration. And finally, I think I've landed on 'the one'. 

Below is a collection of my ideas, inspiration and patterns in my stash that I can modify. I love the Michelle Mason dress below. I'm still not 100% whether I'll make it as long as this dress or chop it off above the knees. This will came down to how much fabric I have, climate and wearability. 

The Inspiration

Mason by Michelle Mason

(photo via Net-a-Porter)

The Fabric
Butterflies On Teal - Sold Out - Tessuti Fabrics - Online Fabric Store - Cotton, Linen, Silk, Bridal & more

(photo via Tessuti Fabrics)

The Patterns

Bodice Front - W*tchery Chambray Playsuit
(to be traced off)

Bodice Back - Vogue 8241
Click to magnify/shrink

Lower Skirt - Vogue 8241
 (for length)
Click to magnify/shrink
Upper skirt - Vogue 1247
(for fit)

With only 4 1/2 weeks to the big event...I'd better get cracking!