Saturday, 18 October 2014

To the bleachers! Blue tops and sandy days : The Sandpoint Top : Pattern Testing for GrayDay Patterns

I do love a draped neckline ;)
Over at The Monthly Stitch, a competition was held to choose a brand new indie pattern designer to be mentored and Helena of GrayDay Patterns and her Sandpoint Top were chosen.

When the call for pattern testers went out, I put my hand up as, well, I do love a draped neckline and Helena's strategy of a neckband appealed to my preference for my clothing to stay put & not slip off my shoulders. I'll also confess that I adore V necklines and have sewn them in my Tessuti Alexas and Sewaholic Renfrews, but always get them somewhat wonky, so I was looking forward to Helena's instructions ;)
My V neck turned out ok on the first try
The process of pattern testing was lovely, Helena started a facebook group for us all so we could share our enthusiasms & ask lots of questions, it really built a lovely community and there are some fabulous versions sewn up! I loved that she was open to our suggestions and modifications, the hem band is a really lovely finish for drapey knits, something I'm going to retro-fit on my DrapeDrape1#1 top as I've never been happy with it simply hanging down.

I was especially impressed that Helena modified a large format/copy shop printer version into A0 size to accommodate all of us who live outside the USofA. I took the brand new file down to my local Officeworks who printed it easily (I love it when they don't have to think about fitting it to the paper as it's already drafted to A0), and $4 later I had a printed copy of both versions with all sizes nested.
The Sandpoint Top is drafted for sizes XS-XL (Small bust = 34-35")

I’m a 34.5” high & full bust (curse you forward shoulders!) I did a cheats SBA & cut a size Medium back & below the armholes (front & back), however I cut a size Small front & front armholes. 
I would usually change the front shoulder angle to accommodate my forward shoulders, however I didn’t this time & it fits okay.

I did have some (pleasant) difficulties in choosing a fabric - I wanted a really soft, slinky, collapsible knit for the draped back, yet a more structured knit with good recovery for the V neck... yes, I want an oompa loompa as well...
I felt the aqua knit in my stash was the best of both worlds, and it does work well. This aqua knit is from my one & only GirlCharlee purchase - a cotton rayon spandex with no vertical stretch and 120% (or 3” becomes 8”) horizontal stretch, it’s got quite good recovery, is soft, but doesn’t drape as well as I hoped it would.
Did I mention that it's designed to be reversible?!
Turning the narrow neckstrap inside out in the knit was frustrating, so I swapped it for a contrast synthetic stable knit and swore much less - I do like the contrast band. Whether to place the band on the inner or outer of the shoulders is another question raised in testing and it is a style choice - an external contrast band is striking, especially with contrast neck & sleeve bands! I opted for the more subtle inner application on this version.

Will there be more? - but of course ;) I'm actually looking forward to sizing up and using a slinky soft knit as I will have the neck/shoulder band to stop any wardrobe malfunctions.

The Sandpoint Top was released today and can be purchased at GrayDay Patterns - There's a discount code for 20% off from now until 10/26. The discount code is "firstweek"

All photograph credits to DH as usual - there are some great B&W ones for my next posts!
Isn't the background here fabulous! Bleachers is an American term that I've always loved and I can picture sitting along these benches, cheering my team on. I come from a long family history of attending sporting matches - I was even evacuated onto the hallowed MCG grass when the Ponsford Stand Screen caught on fire during (well, just before) a Carlton & Richmond match back in 1999. I miss wooden benches with the plastic seating of our major stadiums these days and jumped at the chance to show these to DH.
(I've since heard that these are benches as they're in a covered grandstand, however my love for wooden seating remains strong!)

There's a cache here as well and we may have disturbed several geocachers trying to be subtle looking for it in their lunch breaks.
If you like to visit these delightful bleachers, we're at the Maribyrnong Speeedway, Kirjon or Tracey's which operated from 1946 to 1964 and has 2 lovely grandstands.

"A new track was built at an old football ground at Maribyrnong by the Kirjon Speedway Company. 7000 people attended the first Meeting in October 1946 and it was planned to run two Meetings a week on Wednesday and Saturday nights."

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Hopping around

Hop Hop Hop - the delightful Myra from My-Zee-Moo has passed the blog hop onto me and before I forget, I'm going to nominate my two hopping recipients - Jenny of Rennous-oh-Glennus and Helen Funkbunny! Now, to settle in with a coffee & answer the Blog Hop questions ;)

(no lie, I have just stepped back with a long Macc - freshly roasted beans & the perfect amount of texturised milk = yum) 

((and yes, Mac is named after coffee - a short and long one with just a stain of white...))

Ok, so I met Myra at the Sydney Froctails and it was a sudden - "Hello Canberra people" "I love your dress", "ohhh, silver, gorgeous", "can I pat it?", "you want to take silly photos in front of big stone men? I'm SO in", "lets have tea!"

Much more sensible, yet just as animated, conversation continued over brunch & at the Fabric Store the next day ;)
So, with many thanks, here are my responses to the BlogHop interview:

Why do you write?
I started my blog 18 months ago as I accepted an invitation (open to all readers of her blog) from TJ to go to the Holywood Costume exhibition on Mothers' Day. I'd been lurking around online and saw all of the posts from SewcieTea and thought "I want to be part of this community".
It felt a little bit stalkerish to be lurking without having met anyone, so I wrote my first post and put a picture of me on the internet, then replied to TJ & said - yes please (fingers crossed!)
The first sewing friend I met at the Holywood meet-up was Kathleen, who I sat with for dinner in Sydney at Frocktails ;) I also met Jenny on that very first social outing and she has become not just a sewing inspiration, but a very dear friend. It was Kathleen & Jenny who encouraged me to go along to Social Sewing where I met the rest of the 'Melbourne Spoolettes' and, well, I hopped into the local & online sewing community ;)

So, I write to continue my conversations with the online sewing community - and I find it very rewarding.

I also write as a form of personal journalling - it's one place where I can remember that I raise the neckline of DrapeDrape2 #4's top by 10cm. And if this helps someone else with their version, then I've helped repay the favour that everyone else has done for me when I read their posts before I start sewing my own version (of the Moss/Anna/V1310...)

What are you currently working on?
My DH has dubbed it "the dress that doesn't want to be made" - it's the graduated blues Collette Dinnegan silk in a Anna bodice/Nicola skirt that is plagued with mishaps - if I don't get it finished in the next few days, I'll be wearing something else to my brothers' wedding ;)

Next on my sewing list I have some spring sewing from ShapeShape (and if anyone has a copy lying around that they'd like me to take off their hands, I'm interested!), I've cut out the Cascade skirt (M) in a heavy cotton and am looking forward to sewing with stable fabrics for a while.
To step away from my machines, I'm really looking forward to my very first AlabamaChanin - I bought the Anna's Garden Tank kit during their sale, so it's all cut & boxed and waiting patiently for hand sewing during park play times ;)

How does it differ from other sites of its genre?
My blog has a dachshund.... well, so do Paola's and Anne's ;) I'm not aiming for different, just for me, so, I have both a dachshund and little photo bombers ;)

I've been sewing since high school & was guided my my wonderful mum & her ball gowns of the 60's - so I made my own boned formal dresses in my early 20's ;) I then dabbled with opp shop alterations & was inspired by friends working in the fashion industry in my 30's (including being a house model for a while - I was paid in clothes). I got discouraged by sons growing too fast & declining to wear outfits they'd chosen for me to make, so I decided to learn how to fit my post pregnancy shape - and I'm still learning with every garment.

I do find that there are (for want of a better description) 'technical' seamstresses who I admire immensely and in all honesty, am quite in awe of - Jenny and Mel, you're both in this category, I aspire to your skills one day.

So, I admit to not being very good at following instructions or the 'fiddly bits', I am always willing to 'have a go' and 'wing it' - large pattern pieces suit me beautifully as I love laying out & cutting fabric (usually), especially when I have to think about how the piece relates to the body. And I do like a challenge, so I guess, some variety will appear here on the blog as I continue to explore all the fabulous patterns out there.

How does your writing process work?
Usually, when I start a sewing project, I also start a blog post and jot down my thoughts, link to everyone I've been inspired by and take a few progress shots. Then when it's finished (in a perfect world), my DH agrees to a photo shoot, so we go and explore a new area of town or country and he takes amazing photos while instructing me to be 'less whimsical' & I minimise the photobombing of our little people. I then cull the pics, realise that we didn't take any of the back/sleeve/key outfit aspect, delete most of my construction ramblings & hit 'post'.
If he's not available, then I employ a random passerby, well, ok, often a little person under 6, to take some photos, or set up the timer and jump into frame - fairly typical blogging habits I think ;)

I've chosen Jenny as she sews beautifully and takes some gorgeous images - essentially I just want to steal her entire wardrobe, or employ her to be my personal seamstress ;)
Helen is amazing fun and her enthusiasm for life and new experiences is infectious - I love her choices and we have lots of fun sewing socially.
 - and both of them are fabulous Grainline Moss enablers!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A silk sarong for Sydney: V1310

May I present .... a sarong...
(post edited to add some daylight photos of the V1310 skirt & Pattern Review post)
worn backwards in this shot, as worn to a wedding

Well, ok, it's a Chado ralph rucci Vogue Pattern - V1310 currently out of print, but still in stock at my local pattern store during the latest (rare) $5 pattern sale.

slightly skewiff from the back with fishtail
It's been made up by a few talented ladies - I particularly like Corecouture's who likened it to a toilet roll - stay with me! ;) It's the spiral seam down the skirt that is best described as similar in form to a toilet roll core. Fortunately that one seam is sewn on the straight grain, so the only real concerns come with pattern matching.
Red is CF & ties, green is CB

The skirt takes 2.34m for my 5'6" + heels height (excluding lining)

I couldn't imagine it in the thicker crepe that the pattern envelope shows, however, I adore it in a thin, slippery, silk. This silk was nabbed from Kinki Gerlinki after I saw it on Helen's Instagram feed - and when I went back to buy more, it was nowhere to be found, so I was very glad I had 2m.
That one centre seam, sewn a few times... and learning about bias and dropping
Vogue 1310 requests 4m of silk as it is self lined.
My 2m of 115cm silk required a touch of piecing and it isn't lined, I'd possibly increase the size of the facings to create a partially lined version down to my hips, however I chose not to add another fabric and have the tiniest of scraps left.
My muslin unfolded & used as my pattern piece, note how my silk is short
As alluded to, this is a skirt that hangs beautifully on the bias, an effect achieved by using only one seam, spiralling around the body. Threads magazine kindly highlighted this skirt for use with border prints, which did a lovely job in reassuring me that my fabric/pattern pairing was perfect.
There are three layers of silk organza, including the selvage, along the waist seam and ties, and I reinforced the waist end of the tie slit as well. The instructions are very kind and guided me through each stage of hand basting. I swapped the cotton twill suggested for an extra 2 layers (& selvage) of the silk organza. (Sourced from Sew Squirrel) - Hint found on Patricia's Note's from a High Road top post
There are three layers of silk organza (including the selvage) stabilising the waist & ties
To pair with this amazing desert storm skirt, I went for a simple top. A cropped tank from my bodice block, I wanted it boxy & structured to contrast with the silkiness of the skirt.

The circular bronze lace (hmm, feel free to let me know what else the metallic circles on the organza base could be described as) came from Rathdowne Remnants when the Collette Dinnegan silks arrived. I loved it on sight and despite it being horrid to sew, am very glad that it has been sewn and worn.
I underlined it with a crepe/satin in pink and wrestled at every seam with the thickness of the centre of the circles, and how they frayed away if cut. The neck & armholes are finished with hand sewn bias in the pink satin. To enable me to wear this with jeans in future, I didn't cut the bronze fabric short, rather, it's folded under and hand sewn to the underlining.

And where did I wear this amazing ensemble? Why to Frocktails in Sydney on Saturday night of course ;) Kat will post a round up of who was there and who we all wore (spoiler, I wore MaciNic) ;)

A huge Thank You to all of the wonderful ladies who came to Sydney - and to the Melbourne crew who hosted their very own Mocktails & linked in online.
Silliness with half of the awesome Canberra Crew: Jen TheStitcher&Gatherer & Myra 
Thanks Kat for the photos!! ;)

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

My little Scarflett

I Don't Knit.  I tried to, I drop stitches, I add stitches randomly, I have such a tight tension that I snap knitting needles, I have the attention span of a gnat. Knitting isn't for me.
Yet, somehow, I knitted this:

I've posted for the first time on Ravelry too - and lost so many hours browsing all of the wonders that are there - it's inspiring.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014


My ear-worm for this dress has been Phil Collins Sussudio (you're welcome...)
There's a dress that's been on my mind... all the time...
If I just say the word .. "Kie-Kie-Kielo"....
always have a prop.... ;)
 Like many others, I was underwhelmed when it was released as part of Named's collection, yet strangely attracted to it. I then wanted it when Sew Independent looked so amazing in hers (blue & red). I stalked Busy Lizzy in Brizzy as she made hers transeasonal for MMMay14 and have since spotted Sew Jean Margaret's, Sara Berkes', Janika's and Annakreeta's.. clearly I couldn't move past without making it!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Basic Black Bodices; a book review

I only work in black - hmm... I feel like I just started a post with Batman's quote...

Along with many other sewing book fans, I waited impatiently for the English language release of Sato Watanabe's Japanese pattern book Basic Black: 26 Edgy Essentials for the Modern Wardrobe.