2013 in Review

Hi, it's been a while. I've still been very busy sewing and crafting, I just haven't posted since October. I misplaced my iPad keyboard which made typing a post a bit difficult, and then life in the form of a 5th birthday party and Christmas got in the way. Yesterday I found my keyboard, so it must have been a sign that I need to get back on the blogging wagon this year.

So, I'm just going to have a quick look at my sewing New Years resolutions I made this time last year, before I plough, head first, into 2014.

2013 Sewing New Years Resolutions

1. Re-organise and tidy up my sewing supplies. Well, they looked nice when I did this at the start of the year.

2. Sew more practical things that I can and will actually wear. Moderately successfully on this one.

3. Sew more muslins before I make the final garment. Yes, I definately learning the value of making a muslin before I cut into that good fabric.

4. Make a few variations of the Darling Ranges dress to learn how to utilitise a pattern to its fullest. I only completed two dresses, but I've used the skirt and pocket pieces constantly.

5. Shop my stash first. Well, I've not done too bad with this, but I have kept adding to my ever-growing my stash with some great op-shop finds. Not too many new-new fabric purchase though.

6. TRY (emphasis on try) to empty my WIP basket. I did finish a few things in there, got rid of a few and I think I'm over the rest.

7. Try not to over think things, when I do I'm always frozen with indecision and fear of failure and never end up making anything. Oh, well, I'm still working on this one, but I am getting better.

8. Sew at least one item from the Colette sewing handbook. I tried my best here, I really did. I made a muslin of the Pastille dress, but their patterns just don't flatter my shape and aren't really my style I think.

9. Sew more things for the kids. Eh…um. Next.

10. Consider moving from my baby blog here on Tumblr, to a grown-up blog on either Blogger or WordPress. Ta da!

And there we have it. I'm not sure I really want to set myself resolutions as such this year, maybe just a few things I like to try. More like suggestions to myself, rather than rigid resolutions.

  1. Making pants.
  2. Making a shirt.
  3. Making another coat.

This year is going to be a busy/exciting/nerve-racking/stressful/different year. I'm going back to work (part time) after 2 years, my eldest starts school and my son is starting child care. But, with all that, I hope I can find the time to get the ball rolling on our shed/garage plans. We need to knock down an old one and replace it with a large and shiney new one, with a studio space for all my sewing stuff. Yay, a dedicated sewing area! Bring it on 2014!



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The Monet Experiment

The White Sheet Project – Part 2

For the longest time I've wanted a garment made with impressionist artwork fabric, and you can get fabric with that exact thing on Spoonflower. You can find any fabric you can dream of on Spoonflower. The problem is I live in Australia and shipping is a nightmare on top of the already expensive fabric. Then, when my mind was supposed to be shutting down for that lovely thing called sleep, this idea popped into my head. What if I used diy fabric paint (acrylic paint, fabric fixative medium and water) to create a watery looking fabric and then attach 3D flowers to it, inspired by Monet's Water Lilies.

Image found here

The skirt itself is just an asymmetrical circle skirt with an elastic waist band made from one of the white sheets. I used Dixie's quick graphic on how to do this and gave it a rolled hem. I know ideally you hem a circle skirtr after letting it hang, but as this was asymmetrical I figured it wouldn't matter and I wanted it to be painted as well.

I gave the skirt little twists and then gradually spray the first colour. After each colour I flattened the skirt out and changed the little twists. Apart from the first colour, all the colours I used were the same ones I mixed for my Ombre Dress (I painted them at the same time) and left it to dry on the grass. When it was dry I attached the waist band from thick elastic, I wish I had made this a bit tighter as it sits lower than I'd like.

I free handed a flower shape in a few sizes and went a bit mad tracing, cutting and fixing the edges (I used watereed down PVA glue). I used scraps of the white sheet and a bit of pink fabric I had (also an old sheet). I painted some white fabric buttons from my stash and put it all together in the hope that they looks a little like water lilies.

All up this skirt cost me $1.75 which was the cost of the elastic, everything else came from my stash and the white sheets of course. Not too bad, now on to the next garment.


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The Ombre Effect

White Sheet Project – Part 1

This is my first offical garment as part of the White Sheet Project. I made this maxi dress from the complete white flat sheet. The dress is a heavily modified version of this Style pattern I stole from my mum a while back. And in case you were wondering, why yes, I did included the pockets.

When I last made this (way before blogging) I realised just how much ease this thing had, so I removed a lot of it. I cut the dress pieces on the fold instead of the original design which had centre front and back seams. I used elastic at the neck and sleeves because I'm lazy and it was much easier than making ties.

Once the dress was mostly constructed, I start the spray painting. I only inserted the elastic in the neck before painting so it could hang up, but left it out of the sleeves. I'm trying to spend as little as possible and use what I've got for this project so the fabric spray paints I used were a mixture of acrylic paints (mixed up to my 4 desired colours), fabric fixative medium and water. I loaded the paint into an old spray bottle and started at the bottom. I discovered pretty early on that I required a lot more water than I thought I would to get the quantity and consistancy I needed to spray this dress. This actually made the paint sink into the fabric better.

I sprayed the four colours in the ombre gradient in bands up the dress until I had this. (You can see part 2 in the background).
Then I let it dry. The combination of the water in the paint and gravity caused the colours to blend into one another more than I had originally designed and the final effect is quiet blotchy and uneven, but I think it adds to the effect.
Once the paint was dry, I threw this in the tumble dryer for about a half an hour to try and set the paint. I stitched some elastic at the waist to draw the dress and and give some shape and definition to the dress even when worn without a belt and used my overlocker to give the bottom a rolled hem. The paint did give the fabric a crisper feel, but I'm hoping with a few washes, it will soften up. The paint also made this dress less see-through. Although I thought the bands of colour would be more pronounced, I really like they way my original design has been actualised. On to Part 2.


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The White Sheet Project – Planning

A couple of months ago, whilst I was cleaning and re-organising my linen press, I discovered I had more white flat sheets and pillow cases than we are really ever going to have cause to need. This linen overflow was the result of many years of buy cheaper poly cotton low thread count sheet sets. The fitted sheets ripped before too long, and were thrown out, leaving their flat sheets and pillow cases orphaned in my cupboard. We never really used the flat sheets, they just came in the sets and just sat there. To add insult to injury fabric to project, one of my good cotton sateen fitted sheets tore just after I cleaned out the linen press, so I added that ripped sheet to the cause. I have thoroughly washed and dried all this linen in the beautiful sunshine.

  • 8 White poly cotton pillow cases which are 45 cm x 72 cm
  • 1 White poly cotton queen flat sheet approximately 2.3 m x 2.5 m
  • 1 White poly cotton queen flat sheet reminant approximately 2.3 m x 1.5 m (after this sheet was liberated from the linen press, it was used to make muslins and lining of this dress and the lining of this coat.)
  • 1 White cotton sateen queen fitted sheet, ripped measuring about 1.5 m x 2m ish

When looking at those numbers, that's quiet a lot of fabric. The poly cotton may not have been the best fabric choice for sheets, but not a bad choice for some light weight spring/summer garments. And so, “The White Sheet Project” was born. The aims of this challenge are threefold:

  1. In the spirit of “Make do and mend”, making garments out of something that I would have discarded
  2. Seeing how many items I can get out of all this fabric
  3. Coming up with new and different ways to embellish or change the plain white fabric

I have already started planning the garments I'm thinking of making, as seen in my previous post about croquis. The first garments I'll try and make are the maxi dress with the ombre fabric spray paint effect, asymmetrical circle skirt that has been hand printed, a version of the Pastille dress from the Colette Sewing Handbook, a plain white tank top with scallop hem and maybe a white half slip to go under all these semi sheer garments. After these are done, I'll figure out what I can get out of whatever fabric is remaining, if any thing is left.

And so, with that in mind, let the challenge commence.


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The Croquis Initiative

One of my new years sewing resolutions was to sew one of the patterns from the Colette Sewing Handbook. I received the book as a Christmas present from my Husband in 2011, and haven't sewn one thing from it. That's pretty shameful, no? While I was looking through the book trying to find the best pattern to tackle (I'm thinking the Pastille btw), I found the page on making your own croquis and was a little intrigued. I didn't want to stuff about with getting my husband to take photos of me, and go throught all the drama of making my own croquis if I wasn't even sure I was going to use it. A quick search on the internet found this link to a site that has heaps of free croquis that you can print and use. Even though I'm not making my own specific croquis, I still wanted one that was close to my body shape. After sifting through them all I found this one.

I was quiet happy that this most closely matched my body shape, until I realised that this was the fashion croquis for a child. Yes, that's right, a child! (Well, probably a teenager, but still!). My mutantly small frame aside, it's been great. I've been sketching away for the last few weeks coming up with all sorts of sewing plans. I'm sure most will never get made, but it is a great way to visualise a design. And the colouring in of the pictures is quiet relaxing.

Here are a few of my designs. Most are for a future self imposed challenge I like to call “The White Sheet Project” (more on that later) and the other two are plans with fabric from my stash. It's a little hard to see the details in this scanned images, but you can get the idea.

I have a slightly modified copy of the above croquis, with a dark outline, that I trace onto a piece of white paper and fill in with my design. I'd love to buy a sketch book and use that so that my designs are all together, but the paper in all the sketch books I've found are too thick to see the croquis underneather. So, for the time being I'm using A5 (half size) computer/printer paper.

If you've struggling to visualise your designs, I highly recommend using a fashion croquis, either your own or a generic one. It has helped me enormously and if nothing else, it's an excuse to get out the pencils and do a bit of colouring.


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Selfless Sewing

I'm not sure I can really call this selfless sewing, it was for my own children and they needed to be made or I'd have to buy something, but anywho.

My son was baptised this past Sunday, very overdue, but I'm sure God doesn't mind. With a baptisim comes the baptisimal robe or gown, traditionally long and ornate. That's what his sister had, but as we had waited until the little man was 17 months old, none of the family baptism robes would fit him, and even if they did I'm sure all that length would only mess with his crawling (yes that's right, I said my 17 month old was crawling not walking. Lazy!). I'm trying not to go to the fabric store at the moment (I'm pretty sure I'm just about to break that), I went shopping in my stash first and come up with 80 cm of white satin left over from my wedding dress.

Using this pattern, I drafted slightly larger and longer gown and cut it out. I hemmed all the edges with a rolled hem on my overlocker, but as this fabric frays like nobody's business, they weren't the cleanest edges in the world. I decided to add a bias facing to the neckline to tidy it up, but left the others as is. I used iron on hemming web for the back opening and attached a press stud for a closure.

This wasn't the neatest garment I've made, but as my son only had it on for about 30 minutes and won't it be worn again, it did the job. I'm not partically sentimental that I'm going to keep it from my grandchildren.

The next thing I made was a dress for my daughter. I say made, but I kind of cheated. A while back when I was pulling fabric out looking for something, my little princess saw this vintage fabric (actually a couple of old sheets) and asked for a dress made from it. She then proceded to describe the dress she wanted. “Long sleeves and a pretty foofy skirt”. “Foofy” is a term she uses to describe a full skirt, good for twirling. The long sleeves threw me a bit because I know my daughter, she'll want to wear this dress anyway and everywhere I'll let her get away with, so comfort is a must. In the end, I raided her wardrobe and found a top that was getting too small for her and used that as the bodice. I attached a full circle skirt tot the top in her chosen fabric and let it hang for a few days before I gave it a rolled hem. Do you see a pattern here? That's right, whenever I can be lazy and do a rolled hem, I will.

Forgive the blurry photo, action twirling shoots are notoriously hard to capture. On it's own the dress looked a little plain so I made three fabric flowers from the scraps and glued pins on the back so they can be removed and pinned where ever my daughters little heart desires.


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Full Circle

Many sewists start out sewing circle skirts, so suprisingly this is my first. I found some polyester gaberdine in my local op-shop but didn't buy it because I thought I had too much fabric (well, I do but what sewer doesn't) and didn't have a plan with what to make with it. But then, I started thinking about making a circle skirt while I was on holiday and realised that fabric would have been perfect. I kicked myself for not buying it when I had the chance. So it was with little hope that I went back to that op-shop weeks later to check out their fabric bin, and lo and behold, there is was, still waiting for me! To top it all off, the lady that sold it to me only charged me $4.50 for the 4 and a half metres. That's only 50c/m (they usually charge $2/m which is still cheap though)! It was meant to be. But this skirt had to wait it's turn unitl after I finished making my first Elisalex and then the peplum top.

I looked at a few tutorials like this one from By Hand London and just used the measurements I wanted. I was very eager to start this project and cut it all out right after I finished the peplum top, but then I froze. I haven't had a great track record with getting skirt waistbands to sit right and I think it's because in the past I've been a bit slack with using interfacing when necessary. So, it just sat there for about a week until I found the courage to continue (I'm such a wuss!). I don't know why I was worried, I've come a long way with my sewing since my first few skirts.
I included in seam pockets (big suprise) and used an invisible zip from my stash. (I only had a white zip so I think I'll paint the zipper pull with nail polish to make it less noticeable.) When I first sewed on the waist band and tried it on, I got this;
So, I unpick that waist band, cut a new one and cut the inside circle (waist) slightly larger, then tried again. Sucess! I let the skirt hang for about 24 hours before I trimmed and evened out the hem. Then I attached some home-made bias tape to the hem and hand stitched to finished. The hand stitching took me FOR-wait for it-EVER. I worked it out and there is about 4.5 metres of hem on this skirt.
When I originally designed this skirt, I was going to have a quote from Pride and Prejudice all the way around the bottom hem. My first idea was to print the quote on some Lesley Riley's TAP and my second was to use my Stained fabric pens and handwrite the quote. After I finished the skirt my husband said it liked it as is, so now I'm not sure if I should add the quote or not. It really was quiet easy, I don't know why I haven't made one before now. My husband likes it so much that he said I need one in red, and when I told him I didn't have any red fabric, he told me I could always go to the fabric store and buy some. Does he understand how much damage I can do at a fabric store? Especially with his blessing?
Total cost of this project: Fabric $3 (I only used about 3 metres of the total 4.5 that I had), dark mid weight fuseable interfacing that I bought for a different project (maybe ~$1), invisible zip (harvested from a failed project), 2 hook and eye closures, home-made bias tape and thread all from my stash.



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