It is now my turn to take part in  Gemma from 66 Stitches “Great WSBN sewing  room tour” a blog tour featuring our sewing spaces.  My space is not glamorous or worthy of pinterest.  In fact it is a well used, over stuffed space that I probably should be embarrassed of…but I am amongst friends and I haven’t had time to tidy…so here she is.

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Such a lovely sunny spot to sew in my bay window.  My Brother sewing machine is a basic workhorse I got two years ago for Christmas.  My overlocker is an Elna of undetermined age and pedigree that I got from the op-shop 3 or 4 years ago.  It has no instruction manual, just a decent threading diagram and some permanent pen marks on the tension dials for optimum overlocking.  My thread catcher is a cool ceramic container also from an op-shop.

Maybe we shoule zoom out a little

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desk

My desk is an old door on top of a bedside cabinet and a filing drawer.  The pile on the left are recent pdf patterns that need to be filled and some abandoned projects.  My seat is an old piano stool that I need to recover.  The drawers are filled with notions, buttons, patterns and other stuff I can cram in there.

Maybe we should zoom out some more…

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Arrrrgh! The mess!  That is my cutting table, that I can barely cut on as it is always covered in fabric from past, current and future projects.  I mostly cut upstairs on the lounge room floor.  Just ignore the mess on tne floor… I have no idea where it should live…if I did it would be there.

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The ironing station (in pinterest speak).  This gets used daily by my husband ironing his work shirt and my sewing, so it is normally clear.  The iron is a Phillips and the only thing I would change about it is for it to not be pink.  The bags hanging above are projects cut out and ready to sew.  Behind that door is a narnia world of fabric. Or a least a wardrobe full.

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This is directly behind my sewing desk.  The shelves are filled with old sewing books, burda and pdf patterns and some oither random books.  Tallulah (my dummy) is modelling a badly made knit skirt and my second hand corduroy bomber jacket that I need to make longer wrist bands on.  Across her back is my unfinished Belle bow blouse.

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These are a few of my favourite things… my pin cushion given to me by a friend.   My thread snips which I use at the end of each seams so no tails of thread in my garments and my quick unpick because I like to keep it close by.

Finally some fabric pretties

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Some cottons for summer tops/dresses that hopefully I will make before the year is out.

So that is my space…hopefully it helps you realise that the sewing room doesn’t need to be perfect.

I first posted this suit a few days ago on the Monthly Stitch Indie Fan-Girl competion.  If you have not voted yet pop over there and check out the great entries.  Mine are ‘Miss Bella Chalmers’ and ‘In Cake all Over’ if you feel inclined.

So how did I come to the place of creating a bold floral suit?  The first Papercut pattern I ever made was the Miss Chalmers skirt from the Home Sewn book.  Then I saw the new Anima pants and I made some harem style pants.  The final twist was seeing amazing versions of the Bellatrix blazer across the internet.  I envisioned a fabulous floral suit all coming together nicely using the fabric I bought at the start of the year at Centrepoint Fabrics in Auckland. It is a cotton stateen with birds, large white flowers on a black background.  A quick google search brought up MANY options for floral print suits and I was convinced I could make it happen.

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Inspiration by Google

I made this production style… sewing as many seams as I could before ironing, overlocking and then sewing the next round of seams.

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Piles of pretty pattern pieces

The Miss Chalmers skirt is a simple skirt the only change I made was to add 6cm to the length to make it more wearable for myself.
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I did a quick muslin of the Bellatrix Jacket and went with the largest size.  Making the muslin also helped me make a few mistakes early – like sewing the front bottom panels on the wrong way round and remember to cut all notches for ease of construction in the real thing.
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The jacket is lined with silk/cotton from the Fabric Store and feels devine.  The button is a green one from my collection.

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Lovely lovely lining

I did not try to pattern match on this fabric, instead I attempted to cut the panels so there were birds or decent flowers on each one.

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Wow look at that welt

I love this as a statement piece that can be worn with the skirt or with a little black dress, my green jeans or many other pieces in my wardrobe.
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Finally the Anima pants… in this crazy birds and flowers!  It is quite full on even for me who loves prints.  But I think I can make it work, even if it gives you a headache if I wear it all at once.
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This was the second time I had made the Anima pants so I knew my fit was right. I will post tomorrow how I made a knit pattern work in woven for a bottom my size.

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Zippers about to fill the gap

However I wanted to make the ankle cuffs in cotton sateen not knit so added some metal short zips that I bought several years ago that were just waiting for this project to come along.
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I didn’t do the rows of stitching on the waistband as I wanted to keep a clean look across the front.
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You know you want one now… a crazy floral and birdie covered suit!
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Anima Pants

01/07/2014

Loose casual pants are in every store at the moment. Some are very casual but many are work wear. As this is the unofficial year of Pants for me I decided to give the Anima pants by Papercut Patterns a go. I also seem to keep getting theme songs stuck in my head and for these pants it was Animal by Def Leppard

A wild ride, over stony ground
Such a lust for life, the circus comes to town
We are the hungry ones, on a lightning raid
Just like a river runs, like a fire needs flame
I burn for youI gotta feel it in my blood whoa oh
I need your touch don’t need your love whoa oh
And I want and I need And I lust animal
And I want and I need And I lust animal

Not the most classy lyrics but they were on high repeat in my head. Now that I have it stuck in your head I will go on about these fabulous pants.

I got a harem pant pattern from the op-shop that I thought would make up into stylish casual pants as per the current fashions – like below.

So I decided to test it using some of the huge roll of lightweight black knit I got second hand. It was a simple pattern and I proudly wore them upstairs to show my husband. His response: “Cool – you have made some trackies” (tracksuit pants) image

This was not the response I was looking for – nor were the pants the look I was going for so they are now my never leave the house pants. image

A month or so later I saw the Anima pant pattern and although it is designed for knits I knew I could make it work as the fashionable pants I desired. I dug out this black rayon with white and green flowers from the stash and got to work singing the song above.

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I am right on the upper edge of Papercut sizing with my bottom and making it in a woven added another variable so I took the pattern pieces from my smooth sailing pants that I knew fitted well and overlapped them on the Anima pieces. The J-curves of the crotch matched nicely – I just had to add 4cm to the front and back side seams in the waist and hip. I maintained this increase all the way down to ensure they fitted around my calves. I added this increase to the waistband and ankle cuffs as well which I cut out of black knit. image

The only other change I made was after trying them on I found the ankle cuff was a bit flappy at the bottom, so I pinned it in and then sewed out a wedge from the bottom to the top of the cuff. I over locked the excess and it fitted perfectly. It means that is is no longer all enclosed in the cuff but I have altered my pattern piece for the next time – as there will be a next time. image

I made this version before the Floral Suit as a wearable muslin and the are very wearable. image

And I will be making more as they rock! image

 

This dress was inspired by the WSBN Facebook group, when someone posted this fabric in a different colourway.

I liked it but it was not WOW!  I was in Auckland at the time and had a small amount of time to fabric shop so I went to Centrepoint fabrics and after being overwhelmed by all the prints

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and doing several laps of the store I ending up leaving with a dress length of two birds fabrics – this one and this (which I hope to sew soon).

Again I had to wait until I found a pattern that really shouted out to be matched with the fabric and I went with the princess seams of McCalls 6741 which I got from Arthur Toyes closing down pattern sale.  The great thing about this print is that birds are evenly distributed with heads up and down so I could easily lay out my pattern pieces.  I also managed to avoid bird boob – bonus points for that.
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This dress has in-seam pockets in the princess seams which are almost invisible till I flap my hands about in them.
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I was planning on making the sleeveless version, however since it is definitely Autumn…almost winter I thought to add the cap sleeves.  I work in warm office so a cardigan, slip and tights will see me through with this.  Before I did this I had to do my favourite adjustment a LBBA (Low Big Boob Adjustment) by taking out excess fabric in the princess seam above the bust so I don’t have flappy fabric on my upper chest.

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Pinning out my LBBA

The only other change I made was to do a facing instead of fully lining it – mostly because I’m lazy and could be bothered cutting out a whole other dress in lining.  I just traced the neckline off the pattern pieces to make neat little facings.
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This is a twirly swirly fun dress and thanks to Mel for taking sneaky photos at the Fabric Store the other day.

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Just a little something to take home

I want to show you my new Pendrell top.  It is the first time I have sewed a Sewaholic pattern and I got got it from Dresses and Me a few months ago…what do you mean you can’t see it….pendrellandpavlova1

How about now… No?

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Okay…winter is definitely coming to Wellington and I am about to show off my new short sleeve blouse…

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I used a quilting cotton from the sale table at Spotlight and the only intentional adjustment I made was to take 8cm off the length as this is a very long top.  I did make one other small change… I added a keyhole feature to the neckline which is held shut with an awesome brooch from Smash Palace who use old plates to make their jewelry.

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I created this feature as I had an overlocking incident when finishing my inside seams and I accidentally cut a wedge out of the front neckline.  I just curved out the missing chunk and bound the edge before binding the rest of the neck.

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I will definitely be making another one of these – hopefully without any extra alterations.  I also made another Pavlova skirt by Cake Patterns to go with this top.  After the first one not fitting I wanted to give it another go as I really want a circle skirt that fits.  I re-took my measurements, re-read the instructions and cut into some burgundy wool from the stash.  I sewed the side seams and tried it on.

PavlovaTake2The pin above shows where my side seam should be…8cms from where the current side seam is.  This means the skirt is 16cm too big for me.  The pattern states it has 2 inches of ease – which seems too much in my opinion – but 16cm = over 6 inches!   So I put all instructions aside, cut off the offending inches and made up the rest as I went along.

In my random making up  I didn’t leave a big enough gap for a zip so I went old-fashioned and put domes in and a hook closure with non-functioning button on top.

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Now I have a circle skirt that fits.Pavlova

When I first saw the video for the Teach Me Fashion wrap dress I was fascinated. I don’t usually enjoy watching sewing videos – I am more a pictures and words girl for my tutorials and I get distracted by perfect manicures – yet this one lured me in. I had funds burning in my paypal account that were equal to the pattern price $10 USD so it was meant to be! I downloaded this puppy, printed, taped and was off and sewing in less than 24 hours from coming home from the fabric store (on a work night too!).

The official model

The official model

If you are making this dress please heed the recommended fabrics – not all knits are suitable… especially not undrapey Ponte like I chose for my first version. Thankfully this became a perfect muslin as I had a few issues with the sizing of the pattern. It is one-size – which normally I wouldn’t do as many indie patterns cater for a smaller size than me but I was within the measurements on their charts so I went with it. Full Disclosure: I am 170cm tall with Bust 104cm, Waist 94cm, hips 114cm. I found this dress TOO big!!!

FlossieFT-TeachMeFashion-Wrap1 The arm holes were too big and there was too much fabric across the back even for my wide load. It also finished mid-calf with was not flattering.

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I made a second version with some lovely drapey knit from my stash of dubious origin…I think maybe an op-shop…maybe for $8 for over 2 metres. I took up the hem by 8 cms and took a wedge out of the back starting at 1 cm on the fold at the neck down to about 3 cms at the bottom. I also did a slightly smaller wedge out of the front fold.

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This is a clever pattern, with only two pattern pieces, with the front and back cut on the fold with just a slightly lower neckline on the front and the wrap ties.

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This is the clever part – they join into the side seams to create the ties that can be wrapped in front or back….

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OR you can pop the ties inside the dress to make soft hip pockets.

FlossieFT-TeachMeFashion-Wrap5The instructions are pretty thin as the you tube video is a key reference and this explains how the main pieces go together – I just fast forwarded to the part I wanted – and then noted the key points on my pattern piece.

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Final verdict: I love it! As I was sewing I was imagining who this dress would suit and how many others I could make up. It is a definite hit for me with the minor fitting alterations.

36/52 Ava Raccoons

07/06/2014

Or how to avoid the dreaded raccoon boobs in 3 easy steps

I loved this fabric the first time I saw it on Dolly Clackett and Rhinestones and Telephones, then the Curious Kiwi shared a parcel of fabric she had with it in it and my little brain realised that I could have raccoons too!!! After much googling, checking on shipping options and for the first time in my life checking with my husband if I could buy fabric… not sure why but I did I was buying it anyway. I got my own Raccoons which is actually Tula Pink – Acacia winter (I am not sure if I have ever had a fabric with a name before).

AvaRaccoons2 I got the Ava Pattern by Victory Patterns in the first Pattern Parcel. I thought it would be the perfect pattern to showcase this fabric as there are not too many seams to cut off raccoon heads. I found a plain cotton poplin at the Fabric Warehouse that matched one of the accent colours nicely and I was off. I spent a decent amount of time holding the pattern piece to my chest trying to see where it sat. Then I traced Racoon heads and tails from my fabric onto the pattern piece and checked again as I did not want little noses pointing out from my bust.

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This is the key to how to avoid the dreaded raccoon boobs in 3 easy steps and I think I managed it! I put all my cut out pieces in a bag to be sewn for the Monthly Stitch Indie Pattern month Dresses competition and carried on cutting out other projects.

For the top of the bodice I used a solid poplin so I cut two of the front and back so I could self-line the top of the bodice instead of a binding on the neckline. This means I have a nice clean neckline which I prefer.  I went with the cap sleeves of version 3 but the tea length of version 1 with no ruffles or binding.  The instructions on how to create a crisp point on the sweetheart neckline are great.

bodiceI went to attach the skirt to the bodice and realised I had only cut out one of the front/back pieces and one of the side panels.  I then remembered that I had intended to cut out a second front/back panel on the fold, but I obviously got distracted.  I got out the remains of my fabric and realised the next problem… I only had about 1 metre left by 60cm and a few scraps… and I had to cut two large semi circular panels.  The fabric is a quilting cotton so is 112cm wide and I had only bought 2.75 Yards (which is 2.5metres for us metric folks), and the Ava version 1 needs 4 3/8 Metres… so I was a little short!

So I went to a calm space and remembered ‘I’m a pattern matching ninja and good at maths’. I managed to eek out half of a back panel out of my large section of fabric and carefull matched and pieced the other half.

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Can you see the joins?

Joining Seams

There they are

 

 

 

 

 

Now I had THREE panels.  Since I was one short my skirt waist seam was 63cm and the bodice was 99 that it had to match… so I did MATHS!

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Using a circumference calculator online I found how much to increase the radius of the circle. I was hesitant and only cut off a 1.5cms at a time as I didn’t want to go the other way and go too big.  AvaRaccoons1I love that I made this work.  This skirt does not have as much volume as the pattern intends and I do want to make another to show it off to its twirly swirly best.

IMG_5105p.s. why am I taking photos in the dark?  I was at my boys rugby and wanted somewhere different to take the pics…and I had a deadline to meet :)

The whole time sewing this I was singing to myself Avril Lavigne’s Sk8er Boi .  I know that this dress is called Lady Skater by Kitschy Coo but I changed the words a little to be girl-centric

She was a skater girl, she said, “See ya later, boy.”

He wasn’t good enough for her.

Now she’s a superstar

Slammin’ on her guitar

Does your pretty face see what she’s worth?

Lady Skater1I felt very rock and roll making and wearing this. I cut out a 14 bust and a 18 waist and hip and it fits perfectly. I did not construct it as per the instructions due to my two layers of fabric.  I used a grey stretch lace from a Fabric Warehouse sale (about $3/m) and a blue knit underneath that I hoped would show through more.

Lady skater insidesI sewed the bodice treating the colour and lace layers as one piece, the sleeves are lace only and the skirt side seams are sewn separately and joined as one to the bodice. This is similar style of construction as used in my Lots of Frosting dress. This means the I get a twirly swirly two layered skirt and a simple bodice with no added bulk.

IMG_5089and I had to actually try skating in it…kind of…

IMG_5083…I can ollie.. and the camera just missed the frontside kickflip…

IMG_5088and I nailed the landing!

I think this dress is one that everyone needs in their wardrobe.

This was my Monthly stitch April Double up entry… which I finished sewing in early April, took the photos at Easter and then… life, sickness, more sewing, work and general stuff happened so TA-DAH! Here they are… my double double cheese cheese burger burger please… I mean my double up dresses.
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At Christmas in Palmerston North Arthur Toye I found these on the remnants table (all half price) and I could picture it straight away a patterned front/plain back simple shift dress. But I couldn’t find the pattern I wanted, I had limited fabric to work with so I didn’t want lots of seams or sleeves. Then I got this 80’s kimono sleeve shift dress – a.k.a a 1980s sack dress.

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It was perfect – I cut out my first dress – the green and black version, and sewed up the side and shoulder seams, tried it on and voila – A SACK! So I attacked myself with pins and created under bust darts that curved down to the side (similar to what I have used in vintage patterns) and back waist darts to give shaping.

I unpicked, re-sewed, transferred the dart markings to my pattern pieces, hemmed and did a bias bound turned in neck instead of a facing as I had scooped out the neck line from the original pattern. Then in just over two hours I had a new dress and an altered pattern for the next one.
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So the next night I cut out the pink floral version. This had a new challenge as I was working with a remnant strip with a directional pattern. On the previous one I had just ignored the grain and turned it sideways to fit on the fabric, but I couldn’t have flowers flowing around my body, so I created a ‘design feature’ with a seam at the mid-thigh. I didn’t pattern match due to no fabric, just topstitched the seam down so it didn’t irritate me by flapping about. I also curved off the top of shoulders so they didn’t stick out as much as my first version (this was good feedback from a workmate when I had strutted my stuff in the office that day).
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So again in just over 2 hours I had another stunning dress. Total of five hours work maximum and less than $50 = two unique dresses.

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This is why I love sewing.
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I have been very busy sewing and wesearing my me makes but not busy taking photos. So here is a dress with a sprinkle of spots. I love this fabric so much so I bought it twice by mistake. It is a sale cotton sateen from spotlight. I didn’t know what I was going to make with it until I found New Look 6183 at the Arthur Toye close down sale.
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I made up view C but added in the cap sleeves.  I had a few fun moments when my notches didn’t match… and then I realised there were gathers required under the bust – maybe I should follow the instructions more closely. Especially as I then repeated this mistake on the gathers in the centre panel.
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I like the finished dress, I’m not sure if I love it though…
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But it does look good with my new ice cream and sprinkles necklace from Fortune and Blame. I love her necklaces and you will be seeing a few more around here soon.
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