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Monday, 9 March 2015

Sunny Summer in the Seventies

This is a dress of my childhood, a vintage pattern, sewn in fabric possibly older than it is ;)
I can imagine my mum, grandmas & aunts wearing lightweight loose dresses like this during summer in the 1970's. They're not common in family photographs as most pictures were taken during celebrations when everyone was more dressed up, but I'm sure I remember dresses like these as 'house dresses'.

I was given this lightweight yellow cotton from my lovely MILs stash. I think it's from when they were living in the tropics in the early 1970's. It's delightfully smooth and cool to touch, however it's been maturing for a while as I couldn't picture it as anything. Then, I was browsing my shirt dress collection, the sleeves on view 2 of Style1578 circa 1976 jumped out at me and declared, "our time has come again, make us now!" So I did.
I made View 2 sleeveless, size 12, 34" bust
I wore this to a family birthday (it was summer and 40C) and mum took one look & knew the era I was unashamedly revisiting.
The collar in its full 1976 glory
I did make a concession to current fashion by not including the 70's winged collar. Don't get me wrong, I only narrowed it 2cm before attaching it & polling IG - well, ok, I'd already researched 1940's collars & minimised one side before putting a pic up. I do love the 70's but I can't quite carry off the collar, not even in a print of the era.

Basted and pinned to check for fit
This shirtdress has a yoke rather than shoulder seams and I wasn't sure how I should adjust it for my forward shoulders, so I didn't. I could have taken some width out of the bodice front, the gathers aren't quite right. And that 70's collar hid them better...
I do love a single sized pattern for the it's clarity and beauty, this dress is size 12 for a 34" 87cm bust, 26 1/2" 67cm waist and 36" 92cm hips. I widened the CB by 2cm for the first 17cm under the back yoke, and again from 52cm for my hips.
a detail of the sleeves;
I love the simplicity of the vintage single size pattern with its marked stitching line, anatomical and cutting details
I also dropped the side seam pockets down 15cm to sit where they are most comfortable, and as they're making no effort to be inconspicuous with their top stitching, I increased their size as well. They're good pockets and very handy.
The original pocket pattern piece, my extended piece, and at the top, the new placement
I also love vintage patterns for their illustrated instructions. Lots of basting.

I took great delight in putting the buttons & buttonholes just where I wanted them. I also deliberately chose to place my buttonholes in the horizontal axis. I know there's often debate about strain and vertical versus horizontal buttonholes - I believe the conclusion is that horizontal are for coats, while are vertical for shirts as shirts are tucked in. I don't tuck shirts or shirt dresses in, so there's little vertical pulling, which allows me to choose horizontal placement.
I also like horizontal as it gives me a smidge more stretch between different bras without gaping, and I dislike the bulge of strained vertical buttonholes.
And in the instructions for this 1976 shirtdress pattern? it opts for horizontal "worked or machine" buttonholes as well ;)

The just-above knee hem transformed this from 'frumpy summer sack' to 'cute summer vintage dress' and it's a great length for ease of wear. The big, double folded 70's hem gives a nice weight too. - Jillian, I like a 38" length!
The front button placket is folded in three, mainly as I used the selvage and preferred to fold it twice rather than cut it off & finish the edges.
My buttonholer preferred the three layers too ;)


Monday, 9 February 2015

Japan Sew Along: Muslins and DD2#4 the fourth

I do love Japanese Pattern Books and Magazines, and I have quite the collection...
So, joining the Second Japan Sew Along over at Tanoshii seems a natural fit ;)
This post covers the first 3 weeks. I've been following along and chatting on Instagram, being inspired by the community's discussions and progress to date.
Basic Black semifitted shirt bodice as a top
Japan Sew Along, schedule (january 26 – march 9, 2015)
The weekly meetings of the sew along will take place on Monday when I will publish my article here on „Tanoshii“. 
Montag, january 26, 2015 Do you already have experiences with japanese sewing patterns, or is it the first time you are stepping into this field? Do you already have concrete plans, or are you still looking for inspiration? --- For all those who live in the northern hemisphere: What are your ideas for styling the light blouses and tunics to make them wearable in winter?

A photo posted by Nic (@maci_nic) on
Montag, february 2, 2015 Which pattern did you chose? Do you already know which fabric to use for it?
I have many Japanese pattern books/magazines, mainly as I adore browsing through them for inspiration. I'm definitely most inspired by the more unusual designs, I adore the Drape Drape series by Hikato Sato and Shape Shape by Natsuno Hiraiwa. 
I'm quite happy that I fit into the L/XL sizing of many of them. I did make my 2nd DD2#4 with the stretch running lengthwise and it required an additional 4cm of ease over my hips, so I'd say it's really  drafted for hips of 38". 
Montag, february 9, 2015  The pattern is prepared. Are you planning alterations? Do you already have the fabrics? Will it be necessary to make a muslin, or are you brave and cut “good” fabric?
To 'cleanse my palate' and remind myself why I adore Japanese sewing patterns, I made a quick DD2#4, my fourth version of this pattern, and it was as delightful as my previous versions.
The grey striped fabric is so wonderfully soft, although those stripes have no relationship to the grain of the fabric in any way.
I also used the semi-fitted bodice (K) from BasicBlack, which I've previously made up as a cotton shirt, to make a 3/4 sleeve top in a stable cotton knit to check my fit. This is the size M bust (cut on a CF fold), graded out to XL at the waist & hips, with the darts unsewn.
The book is the Octonauts and the Sea of Shades, it matches my top!
Both of these books are in English in my library, so I felt it would be prudent to revisit them before I tackled a pattern from one of my Japanese only books.
A very familiar pattern piece ;) DD2#4
 I'm still undecided about which pattern I will choose next (does that take me back to Feb 2nd?)
#1: As it is finally warm here, I have thought about making Top a/1 from Shape Shape 1, in a divine blue Liberty that I've been procrastinating about sewing with. The attached contrast scarf will be in a well loved silk that is worthy of the Liberty.
I'll use my Basic Black bodice overlaid on the Shape Shape #1 #1 top to confirm that the top will fit me and then cut it out.
If I choose to also make a top from 'she has a mannish style'  or 'I am cute dress book' (yes, I like #21 'I am shift into tunic'), I will use the same method of checking for pattern ease before cutting my fabric.
Option #2 is #11 'square cut and sewn' from 'she has a mannish style' and I think there will be several versions of this sewn during this Sew Along. I have a Japanese cotton (very stable) knit earmarked for a light summery top.
And #3 is from Drape Drape 1, top 12 'drawstring detail drape top'. I cut this out in a very stretchy knit at Sewaway last year and it was ridiculously large. I've tissue fitted the pattern and removed 2" of ease from each side seam and have a gorgeous reversible striped knit that is looking for a pattern to showcase both sides.
and one day I'll score a photo shoot without strong wind... one day...
....more to come in a few Mondays... or on march 9 ;)
Montag, february 16, 2015 Have you started already? Would you like to share your first experiences with the pattern and the fit?
Montag, february 23, 2015 Current state I: Is your first project ready? Are you planning another one? Or are you stuck and need some help and advice? Do you like your garment and its fit? Or does it need alterations? Are you satisfied with the fabric and pattern size you chose? How are you going to style and wear it? Will you need shirt/jacket/pants to combine?
Montag, march 2, 2015 Current state II: Share your progress! Do you like it more after making some alterations? --- Or did you sew another piece?
Montag, march 9, 2015 Finale and conclusion: More japanese sewing?
Some remarks for those who share their sewing projects on Instagram: Please use the hashtag #2015jsa so we can all find your contributions and tag @stoffbuero so I don’t miss any! Thanks!

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Jungle January 2015 - V1347 Rucci PJs

It's Jungle January again over at Safari central!
Last year I sewed up my snow leopard-ish surf top and this year I was so busy frolicking on my Tiki beach that I completely forgot!
Hmm.. or did I...
I went on a delightful safari, past the hippo's and into a pineapple grove where I donned the native vegetation for a hike amongst some towering palms and all the ingredients for a divine cocktail.
Feeling a little 'glow' (horses sweat, men perspire, ladies glow) I dived into the silver waves and basked among the pink sails until a lovely native lass brought me more drinks in coconuts and showed me to my beach hut where I could retire for a little siesta...
Clearly I needed something appropriate for my rest, so I whipped up this delightful pair of rayon PJs, Rucci of course, inspired by the tiny owls I could see fluttering around.
It was a tad chilly when I woke to find my hut gone and the stars twinkling overhead, so I grabbed the nearest furry thing I could find, kindly left by one of my jungle friends, and donned a top that they'd all clearly autographed, then dashed for home.
All photographic evidence was on film that didn't survive the experience, so here's my sole pic ...
Pineapple Culottes, Tiki Tankini, Rucci Owl PJ bottoms, Basic Black Shadow print top, Furry wrap.

Owl Rayon, Furry wrap backing and Shadow top fabric all from Darn Cheap fabrics (DCF)

Pattern V1347 by Ralph Rucci, size 16 modified: PJs, so I didn't line them or add the zipped fly. They're shortened by 10cm and have 1 inch hems. My pattern only goes to size 14, so they're sized up from there. Apart from being deliciously comfortable & soft rayon PJs, with pockets (v.important!), they were a muslin for my geometric purple silk - the jury's still out on which pattern I'll use for it.
I finished the waist with elastic and ribbon.
Pockets in the forward side seam, not on my hip.
I was hoping for a 1920's or 1930's beachwear feel to my 'cats' pyjamas' (Thanks Catja) and they are so soft and swishy to wear, completely different to the linen image on the pattern envelope. I do enjoy wearing them, although as DH remarked, they are 'quite wide' and I'm not sure that I have the height to wear them well. Don't be surprised if an 'out of the house' version appears at some stage :)

Yes, I've made a Rucci sarong & now PJs.... not sure if it's his vision..


My furry wrap is a 150x40cm rectangular piece of faux fur (so, so, so soft!) from a Clegs remnant sale, finally backed with a random textured fabric from DCF with ties. Pattern inspiration is from the Alabama Chanin knit wrap (in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design)

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Swimming into 2015 with a Tiki Tankini (Mary & M6623)

My tiki beach huts on my bikini bits
Swimmers, bathers, togs... An essential part of an Australian summer, but how mine have changed in the past 10 years! I've always been more of the 'can I body surf in them' view rather than the 'urgh, tan lines, be gone' view, however the blissful weeks spent bush camping in no more than a bikini, sunscreen & hat have morphed into hats, rash vests & shade, and 'will it fall down/off if a toddler tugs too hard'.
This time last year I used Cake's Cabarita top pattern to sew a beach top in a spongy swimming knit and it's had almost constant beach use since ;)

Casual swimming times at the local indoor pool require less spf (sun protection factor) friendly attire though, so I thought I'd best add some more traditional bathers to my wardrobe.
I adore last season's Seafolly collections, tankinis, malliots, oh my! and the current Gorman range is so much fun & seems so comfy - chip anyone?
I was very excited to spot some Seafolly fabrics at Rathdowne Remnants! They're lighter weight than my other stashed swimming fabric (orange stripes from The Fabric Store) and the designs are perfectly me ;) The tiki is 'South Pacific' & the navy ropes are 'Coastline in Indigo'

I realised as I browsed the pattern books in Clegs that swimwear isn't a staple of the Big 4's offerings and that it's not easy to find; is it sportswear (Simplicity)? accessories? lingerie (Burda)? intimates +/- sleepwear (really Butterick)? activewear (McCalls)? costume? womenswear/misses (then swimwear, thank you KwikSew). I still failed to find any Vogue or New Look...
To the indies; I have the ClosetCaseFiles Bombshell. My Bombshell remains incomplete, I don't think the ruching is for me, and the solid navy I chose isn't quite me either, so I'm not really motivated to finish it ;)
In the lingerie section, I can see the vintage potential of OhhLouLou's Bambi bra & MeasureTwiceCutOnce's Mary knickers.
To the pattern stash I went... Classics, all.

So I made a bikini, from my lingerie patterns.
The Mary bottoms are awesome, they're proper boy leg hipsters, stay put & are comfy. They've had almost constant wear since their first surf outing in December.
with my messy tilted pelvis/booty hack; it works though as the waist sits straight when on.
I did have to add a 7cm CB height adjustment as a 'booty' fix and that works for me, I cut the size 14 & used 6mm seam allowances on my overlocker, reinforced with a narrow zigzag just inside the overlocked stitches.
I sacrificed the Bambi bra strap for the Mary hack, so the top doesn't exist anymore as it needed tweaking anyway ;)
I ventured into the treasure cave that is Trimmings 'n' Remnants for swimming bra cups, lining & elastic. There are crates of bra cups and my only hint to the next adventurer is to remember that holding each likely suspect up to check the fit while wearing a bra, is perhaps, not so helpful...
I brought 3 pairs home, all different shapes, and the ones that worked best when braless, were my 3rd choice...
Cup stitched to lining, then sandwiched between lining & outer
So, with my Mary knickers extended 10cm to sit on my waist, a feature that is invisible when worn as a set, yet looks cute as a retro bikini and has added tummy coverage for boogie boards, I chose a tankini pattern. Meet McCall's 6623, a Carefree TM pattern, released in 1979.
I chose view A, adding the bra cups & widening the straps to a finished width of 2cm. My straps were 48cm long.
I sewed a size 14 (36" bust), narrowed the pattern at CB (by 6cm!) after a muslin of lining, & took the underarm seams in 2cm on each side after basting the side seams. I think swimwear fabric is a lot more stretchable now ;)
Pattern placement was a hoot!! Ignore the pointy Mary waist, it wasn't required.
Construction was straightforward with both patterns' instructions. My only hiccup came at the 11th hour when, being over confident, I was finishing my seams on the overlocker and sliced off the bottom corner of the left bodice triangle, sigh... Required re-doing of the twin needle topstitching as well as a tuck to reattach bodice to front - sigh..
I initially toyed with fully lining the suit, however I followed both patterns' instructions & only the bra cups & crotch are lined.
For my next pair of vintage high waist bottoms, I'll use a top waistband in the style of the tankini straps. I may still add one to these, however they sit smoother under the tankini without it. I've got enough fabric to make the Bambi top for a 'proper' vintage styled bikini, however I'm more tempted to make an updated 'rash vest' for the rest of this summer ;)
Just focus on the glorious beach at low tide
yes, it was very windy, blissful otherwise.
With my swimsuit fabric being 150cm wide, I can make a pair of high waisted bikinis, or a tankini with hipster bottoms from 60cm (depending on the pattern matching desired). This full tankini set took 1.1m. Less fabric is necessary for hipster Mary's with the Bambi bra.
Layout: ignore the dodgy perspective & focus ;)

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Culottes - they're back.

I love culottes, in all of their 70's, late 80's and early 90's magnificence. I really didn't think I'd live to see fashion turn around to notice them again, however since the decades I remember were simply reinterpreting the 30's and 40's, it's really of no surprise that they're baaack!
Leading the culottes revival are the gorgeous Debbie at Lily Sage & Co and eternally stylish Kirsty B at Top Notch who have both inspired me with every version that they've made.
I can add Jillian of Sew Unravelled to that list now as well - I adore hers!
Definitely Culottes.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Ying Yang Phillippa Phillip: Mixing it up top

A little while ago I joined Helen Funkbunny on an adventure into town. We visited the history filled Phillips Shirtmakers - a working factory, still sewing shirts, hidden upstairs in the middle of Melbourne's CBD. It was fascinating!
I was completely overwhelmed by the bolts of dead stock shirting available - it was their first fabric sale in their 60 years of manufacture - and limited myself to filling a bag (well, ok, 2) with scraps for $5.
Among my treasures are some decent little lengths, some vintage Liberty scraps, and 5 left sleeve plackets...
One of my favourite scraps was a navy floral cotton, so light and soft. I didn't have enough to make a top, so I paired it with two rectangular shaped scraps in a more masculine striped shirting - and made a cute little summer tank top.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Getting my feet wet: Alabama Chanin

When I finished my little scarflett, I missed having something to carry around in my (not so little) handbag, that I could pick up and play with whenever my little people were playing in a park, or while my littlest napped on me (literally).
My wonderful local library had the first Alabama Chanin book for me to loan, and even more delightfully, ordered the third, so I borrowed it as well.
Alabama Chanin top details ;)