Sunday, January 26, 2014

It Is Possible I have an Addiction

Today to celebrate the multicultural nature of my great country on it's special day (Australia Day) I made my way to Cabramatta for some Yum Cha and some fabric shopping... of cause.

I hear on various Facebook parenting groups that you only ever regret the children you didn't have.  Well I guess that's how I feel about fabric.  I will only ever regret the fabric I didn't buy.  Having my husband there does help to restrain my tendency to plan 50 outfits in each store and then stock myself ready to make them so instead I came out about $30 poorer than I entered but 10m richer in fabric.

This on top of the Alexander Henry fabric I purchased on Ebay last week means I should be very busily trying to burn through some stash.  So for the record I accept that I have an addiction, but that being said there are far worse ones out there right.

So new to the stash are the following:

So this one is the Alexander Henry that i bought on Ebay, and it is probably my favourite of the new stuff.  I have maybe a meter to a meter and half but its a tall bolt so i don't know if its a skirt of shift dress.  The colours have come out pretty good on this photo its black creamy white and soft brown tones.

 I have two meters of this its a cotton with a slight soft stretch to it.  You can't see here but there is a weave pattern int it.  I got it because my husband is adamant that I have to make more plain skirts so that I have something to wear with my patterned tops.  So this was the choice.  Its not quite as mushroom as the picture an more a very soft brown.

This is poplin, the green is showing more lime than it should be its more acid.  Infact it is the same colour exactly as the green from the hulk outfit in my avengers post.  And the other is black, plain run of the black.  The green will be a dress that I will explain in a later post and the black will be a skirt and maybe a petticoat/petticoat dress (which I should do a post about shortly).  And also cause well when do you ever have enough plain black cotton.

And finally my true addiction three more pattern rayons for skirts. I am very very much addicted to this fabric.  It is light and airy, it is easy to sew, it falls beautifully and is only $4/m.  There was about 10 other patterns I wanted so to only have these three I think shows some awesome restraint.

I still have 3 other skirts to finish plus this three so I better get to the sewing side of things now.

I will update soon on a couple of the projects I am hoping to complete soon including an awesome cape trial and several other skirts.... But first things first.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Truth is Still a Lie - Vintage Sizing and the Modern Image

I am sure you have all heard the story.  Marilyn Monroe was a size 16.  It is touted out by every woman feeling bad on a fat day by herself her friends or internet memes....

The fun bit about this pearl of wisdom is it is true.  Marilyn (at her biggest) was a size 16.  That is she was a 1950's 16.

To illustrate my point I have made the following collage of pictures taken from a vintage pattern I have from 1957.

As you can see the size 16 is clearly printed on the front of the envelope, the size chart clearly printed on the back which indicates that a size 16 has a 36 inch bust and a 28 inch waist, which in modern standards makes a size 10 Australian.

So why is it that Marilyn has those famous curves an the modern 10 often has a more "skinny" look. Well in my opinion a lot of that has to do with style of the time.  I won't be the first person to tell you that cutting your body at its widest point will make you look wider (hello swimsuit picture above) and that the opposite is also true.  So when fashion cut at the smallest waist it helped to emphasis bust and hips (when the full skirts weren't taking care of that emphasis) and that modern fashion by comparison cuts lower on the wider part of the hip giving a more rectangular and less curvaceous look.

This is all very important to remember when working with vintage patterns.  Just because you are a size 10 doesn't mean a size 10 pattern from 1945 will fit you off the bat.  In fact you will likely have to add anywhere up to 4-5inches on all dimensions.

It is also important when looking at body image in this world.  When we let ourselves believe a falsehood like Marilyn Monroe was a size 16 we buy into a belief that we too can look like her in that swimsuit, which just leads to disappointment when we don't.

Now it is important to love yourself whatever your size and if you find you can't make the changes to get there.  If you look back to 2011 you will see I made this pattern and wore it (once only) my goal for 2014 is to get back into these size 16's.

I am aware (and I think this illustrates it beautifully) that size is only a number - however in my reality size is also a wardrobe full of home made awesome dresses just wishing they could zip up.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Skirts Loaded to 50%

Well I haven't been as studious as I could have been but the skirt project is now sitting at 50% done - as illustrated by the photo below.

As you can tell in the end I didn't cut and sew all in one big process line and instead heeded the word of my husband who told me to make one first to be sure the size is correct.  You won't hear this very often but he was right.  The skirt on the right (white) is about 8cm to small.  An anomaly I can not fathom given that I am using the exact same tracings as I used for another skirt that fits perfectly.

In any case due to my generally lazy nature I didn't resize the pattern (I had already gone through that to get the original 28 inch waist to a more reasonable size to fit me and I didn't want to do that all over) instead I did the only sensible thing.... I took half a cm off the seams on the second one... with 8 seams and 2 pattern pieces per seam that netted me the 8cm I required to get the thing to fit somewhere not under my bust.

On that note whist I did the only SENSIBLE thing, there was a point in the trying on phase that another solution came to mind.  That being to add suspenders and pretend it was always supposed to sit that high, alas it was not meant to be.  The fact it is too small is not to much of an issue given that at the moment I am on a diet and trying really hard to lose weight.... about 30kg would be nice but I'll take whatever I can get for now.  If I can lose about 10-15 I should be able to fit into all my old dresses which will be most exciting.

The second skirt (orange) fits fine, so I will be continuing with the sewing them with 1cm seam allowance and not resizing.  I have cut out the strawberry one which shouldn't take more than a couple of hours to complete and then I have two more to go.  I can't get them done quickly enough to be honest there is a massive heat wave in Sydney.

And now for a moment of parental pride, I am adding a picture of my sewing buddy who dutifully kept me company for the frustrations of these skirts.  My Baby Odin the best dog in the whole world.... anyone else have a sewing buddy to vent at when unpicking is called on?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Shiela's Dress

I have been holding this one off and even as I write this I know I won't be posting until tomorrow.  This year my work did a Secret Santa and I got my good work friend Shiela in it.  Tomorrow (as I type this) the presents will finally be shared around.

I decided that the challenge of making  a dress for Shiela would not be to hard given the time and budget, it doesn't hurt that as a personal trainer she is fit and has a figure you could hang a sack off and it would look great.  Having said that the project did not go without some detective work.

Firstly I had to ascertain her favourite colours.  By deviously questioning her on her outfit one day and her thoughts on the colour pink she told me her favourite colours were yellow and blue.  I went on a trip to Cabramatta where all great fabrics are hiding and managed to pick up a Japanese polyester crepe for $6/m.  It wasn't blue and yellow but rather a pastel stripe that had blue and yellow in it but I fell in love with it so close enough right.

Secondly I had to select a pattern.  I had originally thought of going with a 50's style but having found the fabric I knew it was going to have to be more a 70's style dress - which probably was a safer bet as lately Shiela has been right into the Maxi dress.  I remembered a pattern I had at home.  I had bought it way back in 2006 as a possible "leaving outfit" for my wedding but got to busy to make anything.  It had been sitting around unmade for years as I realised when I had gone to make it that the open back and drappy nature of the style would certainly clash with my large bust and requirement to wear a bra at all times to restrain the girls.

Lastly, and this was my most devious trick of all I had to find out what size to make.  I casually asked her if she would wear a dress I had made once but never fit into (see the perfect dress) and brought it in for her to try on.  Lucky for me it was a perfect fit AND had a hole in the side.  I brought it home and put it on Mavis, twisting her dials until I had it fitting her.  I now had sheila's size based on the measurements of Mavis.  Crafty little cat I thought as I began to cut out the pieces of the dress.

As you can see in the picture below the material has a stripe to it, a very very obvious and multicoloured one.  So I painstakingly lined up the pieces on the fabric so that these would match then cut.  Now here is where you learn that I am used to working with one sided fabric.  When sewing together I made the skirt pieces and then the bodice in it's entirety.... clipped i seams and all - only to discover that I had flipped my top pieces.  Being late at night I instantly went into meltdown and decided that as I had already cut in there was no going back.  I was half way round joining skirt to bodice when I realised I could just swap the skirt pieces.  I put it aside to finish the next night realising my brain was beyond thought when it had taken me that long to work out that simple a solution.

So unpicking occurred and the dress was completed well in time frame with the lines neatly matched up, which I am sure you understand gives a much more professional finish.  And the line ups were my only mistake... well that and sewing a button hole for the belt to go through onto the bodice back through 4 layers of material.... lesson learnt, unpicking buttonholes is the suckyest of all unpicking.

As a side note the whole thing is lined in cotton (white) that is part of the stash for just that reason... sometimes you just have to line things.

So the update is now in - Shiela has the dress and really likes it - however she has noted that she would like the back to be split as her natural stride reaches the limit on this one. I have promised to make the amendment.... yes more unpicking.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Projects for the Upcoming Stash Blitzkrieg

Officially the Blitzkrieg will not start until Saturday night - because it looks like that will be the first chance I will get to sit down at a machine and sew anything.  With friends visiting from around the world, annaverysorry's and movies to see I have been hardly able to breath.  But I did take some time tonight to quickly put together some pictorials of the projects I will be working on.

8 Gored Skirts

I have 5 meters of rayon (1m each type) and I am going to make 5 of these 8 gored skirts from a 1940's advance pattern 3287.

I have made this skirt 3 times before and am close to perfecting the fit but the pattern is just lovely - especially in the soft floaty fall of this rayon ($4/m).  I used a lot of rayon to make skirts to travel around Italy with due to the not needing to iron and fell in love.  Actually I already have one in the same pattern as the orange floral but red.

Hopefully I will be able to process line these and will therefore have all of them done saturday night.  Which reminds me I had better call into spotlight for zips and buttons.

Skull Dress

Sorry the pic for this is a little smaller but the square allowed a better view of the fabric that I picked up of Ebay.  total cost was about $50 for 3m including all postage.  To be honest the fabric photographs better than it looks in person but I still really like it.  I don't have anything else like it that's for sure.

Whether I manage this as part of this Blitzkrieg or not is questionable because I am unsure if I have enough material to do it, and because I need to find a green to accent it with if I don't.  It may also be put in the when I have lost a little weight pile.  Dropping a size could cut .5m off what I need by this pattern, now there is weight loss incentive.

Childs Play Clothes

All around me friends are having babies, recently some are even having girls which means I can make cool things for them.  This one has been on the to do list ever since we got back from Italy and being so small I doubt it will take too much time so I am including it in this blitz.

Pattern is an old one, 1960's by my mothers guess and of a mail order variety so I am not certain of the company but I think its really cute (size 2 but kids do grow right)

The material is quilters cotton picked up on sale probably about $6 for the pattern and $5 for the plain.  I will do the top patterned and the pants plain.

So there it is 3 projects (well 7 really) and more to come.  I figure if I put the info up here I will remember what material goes with what pattern which should be useful in clearing things out.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Mighty 50's Avengers

This is a catch up post - I made these dresses (with help) last Easter for a role playing convention in Sydney.

The basic costume idea was to create a visual of the avengers using a pattern of a 1950's dress.  The pattern chosen, Butterick 5603, is a reprint from I think the early to mid 50's though the butterick website is not being very helpful and I am in no way inclined to leave my bed and check the envelope.  It is universally flattering, with 3 choices of neckline and the easy fit and flare shape.  As you can tell by the picture this was quite important as we are a mutli-shaped bunch.

In terms of the pattern I have no complaints, I had made it previously (which I will cover if only to put up pictures later.)  We ended up using all 3 of the necklines though only I chose the boat-neck.

So to make this quick I will go through each "avenger" and the things done.

(left to right)

Hawk Eye
This dress was interesting, what the wearer didn't tell me was that she was pregnant and not yet ready to announce so when the first fitting was done it was a little tight on the waistline.  I had to fix it by unpicking from under bust to flare and sew with a 1cm seam allowance at that part.  The dress was done in colour blocking and has a hawkeye symbol on the front.... well most of one - She was responsible for that and she only got the two circles and missed the cross hairs.

We used colour blocking on this too a little around the waist and then did bias neckline and the hem.  The wearer borrowed a chest piece to complete the outfit.

Captain America
This one was a doozy - we had to shorten the waistline to fit the wearer and then break it into stripes which then had to be cut in the correct colours and pieced back together again in the right order.  On top of that the stars required no only cutting out but applique to attached them... They go all the way around the hem and there is one on center back and front (the back was a mistake but not a bad one).  Lucky for me I didn't do the applique - Ironman did

Hulk (ange)
Purple and acid green looked awesome together.  This one also has the same crossfront as Ironman.  It is green bodice then purple skirt to which we added green goddets.  In hindsight I think I should have diamond pieced the bodice to the skirt but time was a factor.

Thor (me)
Obviously I have a lot of extra effort for my dress - and lucky for me I had Ironman to do the applique of the front swirls.  I also did a hem of light grey that has a piping of maroon.  Originally the caplet etc was to be red but we found that the bright red just didn't work with the grey so I went and got more maroon.  The caplet comes from a 1940's pattern but I think worked well in this setting.

All of them were made for under $20 using poplin I picked up at $2/m in Cabramatta, sure it isn't the best quality but a costume is a costume and the price was so right.

A big thank you goes out to my girls all pictured for their help and also to my friend Gav for the hammer.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Is Organisation the key to success?

I have cleaned my sewing room - it isn't entirely perfect yet, but it is much better.  I finally bit the bullet so to speak and accepted that my mess was prohibitive to my creative flow.  I didn't take any before photos but this is basically where I am at now.

I have put my girl dress on Mavis as a goal reminder that i need to get my lard butt up and shrink back into it.  I really do love it.

Patterns are in boxes, and material is all away and now I can start planing my next stash bash.  In that vein I have started to create photo files on my computer in an effort to try and recall when needed all the different fabric packets that I have.  So in my next post I will put up a few matches that I have already made.  More as a reminder to myself of the projects I have to get round too.

My husband is now on my back about how long I think the material I have will last, given that some of the stuff I have is stuff I got at least 5 years ago, I think that I can safely say that his guess of 1 year is rose tinted at best.

To start however I will be making very uninspired but much needed skirts and tops with the multitude of small meterage fabrics I have.  I know it won't burn a lot of meters in my 50m goal but it will get rid of some packages very quickly and truth be told I could use them.

I am still trying to pick a bigger project - I am thinking the double breasted jacket (1960's style) in blue velveteen though it seems like the wrong season.  Perhaps I should look into that this year too - is sewing like gardening - when do you make your winter/summer stuff?

Well it is now late so I will head to bed and catch up later.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The New Years Update

Here I am again checking in for the new year, seems to be the time that I remember this blog exists. The time I swear again and again that I will keep this more updated and post my projects. It is as unlikely this time as any other but I do set out in earnest to do so. Who knows now that I have a laptop and can do so from the comfort of my own bed it may be more likely to happen.

Rather than attempting to catch up on projects – which is something I may do at some point I am thinking this year to just try and move forward and update as I go on each project I am completing. First up for 2014 is 5 skirts that are in all ways identical bar the pattern of the fabric. I made a couple mid last year for my trip to Italy and I loved them (iron free rayon is worth all the slippery slidey issues in the sewing stages). I also have a multitude of more major projects to get through – in fact stash mountain has been estimated now to hold over 400m of fabric.

I know this because last year I had the brainwave to clear it up a little. I got all my fabric and packed it into individual bags labeled with a type and size for easy reference. To be fair it took a long time to do but it saved me a lot of space and has made it easier to scroll through what I have in the draws…. Cupboard…. Boxs…. And shelving. The only material I did not bag was the stuff that was bought in a spotlight sell out on the bolt – they live in my cupboard. So whilst I know I have a LOT of velveteen in green and brown I am unsure how much in reality that is. I have decided that the next step is to photograph each bag so I can just scroll through the pics on my computer rather than in person but who knows when that will happen.

I still have to finish my pattern catalogue – which will require me to scan the front of every pattern and import the picture with all the details (already in a spreadsheet) for all 300+ patterns I own. I can then print out these pages and put them in a binder. I figured this would be helpful because a lot of my patterns are vintage (dating back to 1930’s) and therefore the paper is a little tender and the continual flicking through to try and find what pattern I want to use is taking its toll.

This brings me to a question – how do others store there patterns? Mine are currently (and painstakingly) placed in zip lock bags (I know its like an addiction to put everything I own into a its own little baggie). I order them simply as to their date of issue (either by finding it on the pattern, on vintage pattern wiki or by guessing based on style if neither of these work) and I have boxes for 30’s and 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s – modern. On top of that I also have boxes for costumes, fantasy costumes (yes I have enough that they warranted there own box), and historical costumes. Every one of the 7 boxes is bulging and I am thinking it may be the right time to find some other solution to my storage problem.

Last night I went about cleaning and tidying the hovel that is my sewing storage room (not really a sewing room since I sew in the lounge room and just use this room to pile all my sewing junk) and came to a sad but true conclusion. I won’t be able to make most of the patterns I own – not ever. Yet I can’t bare to part with them. Even the ones I don’t like that much anymore, have never made and are sized for a 10 year old. (apparently people used to be really really small). Still I hoard my precious patterns for Justin (just in case). Given the number and age I would say I have well over $1000 sitting in patterns that will never be used. Oh well it isn’t like this is not the way my mother raised me, hording of sewing stuff is in my blood.

In anycase I now hereby officially anounce the 2014 Stash Mountain Blitzkreig. It will be lasting for a full 2 months ending on Feb 2nd with a meterage goal of 50m. Wish me luck.