On Finishing things…

See here’s the thing. I’m very good at starting projects. I’ve got the finding new fabric, new patterns, new techniques- NEW NEW NEW feeling down pat. What I’m not so great at is actually finishing projects. Especially when it starts to appear like the project might not look like the perfect image you have in your head. When the dream gingham dress I’ve been planning for literal YEARS can’t fit my waist, when the cream mushroom Regilisse dress just kinda looks meh, when the butterfly Datura blouse I’ve made my sister’s partner is too tight on her bust, when the hours I’ve spent making a garment look like they are going to waste; not to mention the days I’ve spent daydreaming about the project, imaging the outfits I’ll wear, the events I’ll go to.

Most of these projects just need hemming, a couple of buttons, an hour tops. But there they sit, neglected and ignored.

So here’s to finishing things, to creating garments that you did not imagine you’d make, to changing your inspiration and not allowing your own trepidation or fear of ruining a garment, to accepting that vision in your head isn’t going to happen and that THAT IS OK.

This is Papercut Patterns Saiph Tunic and things did not go exactly as planned. After the generous sizing of the Coppelia wrap I thought I could make it in an XS. I could not. Not wanting to ruin the poly silk-feel fabric I bought in Hong Kong (off a street vendor in a dirty alley no less) I had a Tim Gunn moment sans the impeccable suit. I chopped off the sleeves that were cutting off the blood supply to my arms and gathered what was left of them into a ‘pleated blob’. The back wasn’t ever going to be able to do up so I folded in the neck opening to create the V-back. As the dress is tight it doesn’t flap open and generally sits much straighter than the picture would have you believe.

This one it to making things work. And if all else fails, looking moody in a leather jacket.

No Reservations

The title for this post comes from Anthony Boudain’s travel program which I was watching whilst cutting out this top, and also from the fact that I have absolutely no reservations about making a Papercut Pattern’s Coppelia top in shiny gold lycra. I’m drippin’ in gold ladiez and never have I felt so classy.

After reading some reviews about the generous sizing of Coppelia I made an XS. This was a musin, and as you can see from photos there are several fitting issues. The neckband was not tight enough so I had to add two darts in it to try to make it lay flat. It is also way too short for me. No big surprise there, at 5’10 I often/always find this. I got a little enthusiastic with adding length to the sleeves and HAD TO TAKE SOME LENGTH OFF. Never have I felt so chuffed with my gorilla arms. I also had to take some width out of the arms as they were attempting to go batwing which in gold lyrcra was veering into bad 80s territory. Next time I’ll take the excess fabric out of the back of the bottom, I tried to hide it by pulling the ties tight, but there is some pooling there.

I don’t think it can be said enough; Papercut Patterns have absolutely ADORABLE packaging. So functional and sturdy, whilst not compromising on style. Also big thumbs up for creating a pattern that has allowed me to indulge in dreams of a ballerina. After playing the garbage bin (no, really)* in the end of year recital I quit ballet at the age of 7 and have never quite gotten over the clothes that go with it. The pastel pink wrap was a particular favourite, and as pastel pink is not a colour I ever wear (lol that’s my skin tone) being able to make the wrap of my dreams in a colour that I DO wear is yet another reason why sewing is the bees knees.

I have already made this pattern again, in red ponte, and have more plans for actual ‘basic’ Coppelias in black and grey. Maybe. Unless I manage to get my mitts on sequin lycra…

*I literally spent the whole recital in the corner “being a bin”. I WONDER WHY I QUIT.


Muslin Power

As my sewing area (aka several towers) is already way, WAY out of control whenever possible I try to make muslins out of fashion fabric so that  if I don’t like it I can at least donate the finished item to charity rather than let it become abandoned to a life of growing dust and somehow attracting stray pins like most of my UFOs do. This also has the added bonus that if I do end up liking the finished item I can begin to wear it whilst I think about making the ‘actual’ garment I had planned on making in the first place. I don’t know about you but sometimes that is- um several months.

Ahem my inability to finish what I start aside, this skirt falls into the former category. As in I was so excited to start wearing it I didn’t even finish attaching the waistband before I did. I mean c’mon people, look at those pockets!

This is of course Vogue 1247, a skirt renowned for both it’s shortness and adorable insides. Sadly, as this was, at least to begin with, a muslin, my seams lack the bias bound seams of which seamstress dreams are made of, but hey, at least it left time for other important things, like clearly not combing my hair.

I cut a straight size 12 and added 5cm to the length, I probably could have added more, and would have for a summer skirt, but for a winter skirt this is my preferred length with tights. I  * actually * followed the instructions except, obviously binding the seams, and in my erm haste to wear it, didn’t get around to attaching the waistband.

I bought this fabric in Hong Kong last year. It is a wool blend with a very loose weave which is why I don’t think this skirt will have a very long life : (. I have plenty, PLENTY more though as Hong Kong fabric shops are like weird show rooms where the minimum yardage is at the very least 3, or in this case, 5. I have already made an air hostess costume (hello dreams of being a Pam Am girl) and another skirt with no signs of running out.

All in all, I absolutely love this skirt and have already made it again with at least 2 others planned in my immediate future. OWOP pattern perhaps?

Galloping Around

Hey there, don’t mind me, I’m just horsing around in the bushlands.

The bodice is self-drafted, yet another attempt in my constant battle to fit a bodice correctly. This isn’t perfect, it is still a little tight along my underarms, particularly along the front. Nothing like light chaffing to get compliments pouring in from strangers. The skirt is actually an altered version of Colette Pattern’s Macaron. And by altered I mean increasing the width of the skirt. Complex stuff chaps.

I completely lined the dress and used the same fabric for the pockets. I really like the placement of the pockets on the Macaron dress; in-seam pockets tend to add width to my hips and lets face it I’ve already got the ‘could bear children’ look down pat I don’t need additional help.

The fabric is (say it with me) cotton printed drill from Spotlight. The lining is a very stable poly crepe from my local discount quilt shop. It was on their clearance table due to some running of the black print along the edge. Now if only they did that with their Liberty prints… Funny story* whilst buying both fabrics (oh at least 12, maybe 18 months ago) both sales assistants asked me what I was planning to do with the fabric. I’ve literally run out of ways to say “my stash”. I said “oh you know I always need horses for my things”. Couldn’t even think of the word projects. The lace is from my Nan’s stash and whilst it might seem unnecessary on a casual summer dress it does make me feel fancy when I inevitably fall over and flash some leg.

And not a single horse was matched.

Pattern: Self-drafted bodice and collar, Colette Patterns Macaron skirt

Fabric and notions: 1.6m cotton drill, 1.6m poly crepe, lace from stash, 16’ invisible zip

*not very funny



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGuess who’s back, back again?

Ridiculously white girl’s back, back again

Back with the one and only Simplicity 2444. Ah yes the infamous 2444. Dem darts. Dat skirt. Dose pockets. Who am I to resist?

This is actually my second iteration of the 2444. And yet it doesn’t fit as well. DON’T CHA LOVE THAT? I’m not sure if that’s because of the collar or if it’s just because the dress is  cursed. Whatever it is, it is tres annoying as it stops me from wearing this dress as much as I would.

I know the dress is fairly twee but hey I enjoy twee. Give me a piped collar and a nautical (help I keep trying to write nauticool) any day of the week. The fabric was from the kid’s area of Spotlight and is fully lined in bemsilk. I also added bias strips of the fabric on the inside of the shoulder seams as a facing so that you can’t see the lining if it gapes open.

I took these photos ahem several months ago. It is currently absolutely freezing in Australia and looking at these photos is making me long for summer. At which point I will be boiling hot and dreaming of winter. Also probably sunburnt. Urgh summer.

Derp derp check out my kneecap! The longer you look the weirder it is.

Pattern: Simplicity 2444

Fabric and notions: 1.6m cotton blend, piping, red cotton bias tape, 16’ invisible zip

Alterations: Lined dress, shortened the skirt by 4cm, reduced curve of skirt in order to fit on the fabric, removed center skirt seam

Gingham Guy Gets a Shirt

Don’t I look pretty here, so feminine in my shirt.

Keen observers might note that this is not in fact, me, but rather a man. A rather dashing man at that. This is my boyfriend, Gingham Guy, rocking out in a shirt that I made. A MALE SHIRT WITH A PROPER YOKE AND BUTTONS AND A COLLAR AND STUFF. Can you tell I’m proud? 

This shirt started two years ago. Oh that hurt to say. In my defence I didn’t start making this exact shirt, but rather mentioned to Gingham Guy that I wanted to make one, and I purchased the pattern accordingly. The pattern comes from my fanboi fave Colette Patterns and is the Negroni, or as I pronounced it whilst sewing those goddamn flatfell sleeve heads ne-GROAN-i. Because many groans and screams of “DON’T YOU DARE CATCH THE SLEEVE THERE. LIE STRAIGHHHHTTTTT” reduced the joy of this project. Not that it wasn’t a joy, it was, it was just a steep learning curve from the soft lines, darts and French seams (ohhh French seams) of my usual sewing. 

I made many alterations for Gingham Guy (sah demanding). He wanted a much shorter shirt than the pattern called for, as well as smaller sleeves. I reduced the size of the front facing as I felt it was unnecessarily wide, but I’ll think I’ll remove more next shirt, and maybe top stitch it to stop any wiff of flapping about (I DO NOT ACCEPT FLAPPING ON MY SHIRTS). I also omitted the pocket, not because I don’t like pockets (um excuse me but is that even a thing?) but because mid sewing Gingham Guy came over, and I had to quickly hide the shirt. In all the flurry it was lost in my pile of doom aka my UFOs. I actually found it today- don’t worry, I wasn’t actually doing anything about the pile of doom, rather re-smooshing it so it looked neater- but I quite like the shirt without it so I don’t think I’ll bother attaching it.  Laziness at its finest.

The collar was another story entirely though. After SLAVING over his shirt, Gingham Guy tried it on, SCREWED UP HIS NOSE and asked “Is the collar supposed to be that big?”. And that my friends is why you should be selfish and never sew for others. After refusing to talk to him for a few hours I calmed down and decided to take it as constructive criticism. As the shirt was already constructed, with the yoke firmly sandwiching away all access to the collar I took the hack route. I cut 1cm off of the finished collar and just turned the collar under and topstitched it. Not the best technique but it worked well enough.

I also added many more buttons than the pattern called for. This wasn’t actually a choice per say but rather the result of not measuring correctly when I was sewing the buttonholes. After sewing the second one I realised what I had done and instead of having two weirdly spaced I decided to just go with it. It’s a fash-un feature darling. These tortoiseshell buttons were from the stash. I got a huge bag of them from an op shop for a dollar a year ago. I love op shops.

Since giving this to him, Gingham Guy has worn it nearly everyday, except for ya know, when it gets smelly and stuff. Now if only I can get my making time to below 2 years…

Pattern: Colette Patterns Negroni

Material: 1.5m of 142cm wide cotton voile, 9 buttons

Alterations: Shortened length and sleeves, removed pockets, increased buttons used, reduced width of collar

Running late to catch the Mad Men Train

Mad men4_ gingham girl

As per usual I am running late to a craze. That craze is, of course, the beauty and glamour of the TV show Mad Men.

Mad men3_ gingham girl

This dress isn’t inspired by any particular look per say, but rather the general feel of the show. I felt like sewing something fancy and by god is the show fancy.

Mad men2_ gingham girl

I used Colette Patterns Macaron (yes, again) as I know it fits well and lends itself to ‘fancifying’. I used Dupion Silk as I love the rough texture of it and it isn’t as delicate to work with as a crepe. I lined it with some cream synthetic from ‘the stash’ that frayed like crazy and made me say many bad words. Keeping with the ‘fancy’ theme I handsewed a large portion of this dress (because what screams fancy like multiple stab wounds on my hands and a twitching squinting eye?) because I didn’t want no ugly seam action on the inside. I left off the sleeves and finished the seams with bias tape made from the silk. The bodice is boned, not necessarily because I needed to, but because it seemed fancy. Clearly I know fancy.

Mad men5_ gingham girl

A few years ago I inherited my Nan’s sewing supplies. Within them was a huge button collection that she kept in colour-coordinated jam jars. In the black jar, the magpie within me honed in on these incredible sparkly ones, with a faux diamond façade that catches the light. They are quite heavy too which makes me suspect they are made of glass.  Definitely fancy and definitely at home on my dress.

Mad men1_ gingham girl

And now I am off to find a cocktail and be fancy.

Pattern: Colette Pattern’s Macaron

Material: 1.5m Dupion silk, sheer black organza, 6 buttons, boning

Alterations: Omitted sleeves and pockets, sliced back yoke and added a button closure at the back

Black and White Hearts

Fulfilling my need for more basics that are wearable with more than one item of clothing in my closet (ahem I’m looking at you novelty print dresses), I decided to make a simple button down skirt.

But I don’t really do ‘basics’ as such, so I picked a rather busy print (from Spotlight, naturally) and added some “now you see them, now you don’t” loveheart patch pockets.

Construction-wise this pattern went together quickly without any major hiccups. I used French seams as is my obsession and a narrow machine hem. The waistband in sewn in as I could not be bothered to hand sew (yes I’m lazy and I accept it). For the pockets I finished the edge first with the bias tape, then I used a cardboard template to turn the edge, after which I edge stitched them on. The buttons are from my stash, which means I’m counting this entire project as a stash buster. Because. Then I can buy more right?

I’ve made it again and I made the waistband narrower as I feel it is a bit too wide in this skirt, which throws the proportion off. I try to wear a belt with it IRL to break it up a bit, which helps.  All in all this skirt is a good ‘basic’ with enough of a twist for me to wear it. But only when the novelty print dresses are in the wash, of course.

Pattern: Simplicity 6778

Materials: 60cm Cotton Sateen, 6 buttons, white bias tape, interfacing

Alterations: Took in the sides, shortened, added novelty pockets

Double Dotted Trouble

This dress started with the fabric.

Double Dotted Trouble5_gingham girl

I went to Tokyo last January, which of course led to much fabric shopping (too much if you are of the opinion of my boyfriend and have to give up suitcase space for “just a few more meters of cotton”). I spent the day in Heaven, aka Nippori, the fabric district. This dotted fabric appealed to me immediately, I love polka dots (like, obsessed if I’m honest). It feels like a silk cotton blend, it washed well so I’m sure there is some poly content, but it still feels luxurious to wear.  Of course when I got home I was too nervous to actually use it, as I was plagued with doubts of “what if I mess it upppp?”. I also could not just do ‘anything’ with it, this fabric was special, it deserved the best.

After looking through my pattern stash and not finding anything that fit the bill, I decided to draft a dress. I knew I wanted a double layer skirt, a keyhole opening, soft kimono/grown-on sleeves and pleating at the waist. I started with the Colette Sencha Pattern as a base for the bodice and altered the sleeves to be slightly longer.  I deepened the keyhole opening and finished it with self-fabric bias tape. I cut the pattern at the waist and added pleats on the double-layered skirt. For closure I added an invisible zipper to the back and finished the two layers with lace hem that I hand sewed down.

Of course I made a muslin out of the pattern. No way was I cutting into my Nippori Goodness without one. From it I deepened the keyhole opening more and removed some fabric out of the back. Clearly I didn’t remove quite enough as there is still some pooling in the back but not so much that a bad posture can’t help hide.

I like this dress but it does feel slightly more ‘grown up’ than I’m used to. I think that’s mostly the length, in order to wear it more I think I should take it up an inch, but as I hand sewed the hem that will take some motivation. Like maybe a new season of Project Runway? hmmMmm

Pattern: Self-drafted based on Colette Pattern’s Sencha

Materials: 2.2m black cotton blend, red and white bias tape, lace, 18’ black invisible zipper

Devious Datura

I have a secret.

I didn’t make this Datura by Deer and Doe for myself.  But I still intend to keep it ;). For Christmas I like to make my sister’s girlfriend a top, and when I saw the myriad of cute but classic Datura’s popping up on the interwebs I knew I’d found it. And so I forged ahead with Version 1 using the leftover rayon from my tiger top. It was all going to plan until I tried it on. And then there was no going back.

I made a straight size 38, which is just a smidgen bit too loose for me but still feels like it fits within the aesthetic of the top. This is really not my usual look, I prefer some waist definition but I want to step out of my comfort zone with clothes this year. Stealing someone’s top works with that…right?

I used French seams throughout and 3 (non functional) buttons on the back. CHECK THEM PATTERN MATCHING SKILLZ OUT.

I sewed all but the hem the week before Christmas and then just kind of…left it. Left it but still um maybe still wore it. SO lazy I know but the hem was hidden and it was too cute to just leave on my sewing pile and I love new things and blah blah blah I’m lazy. Whatever it’s finished now and it’s awesome and that’s all that counts.

Pattern: Deer and Doe Datura

Materials: Leftover rayon from my Tiger Top, 3 vintage brass buttons from The Stash

Alterations: Cut 38 but used 42 hem length, buttons are non functional and sewn down