Friday, September 27, 2013

"Can I make it any more obvious"

"He was a punk, she did ballet.  What more can I say"

 If she was talking about soccer/football these lyrics by April Levigne may be more correct.  It has been a long time since Courteney did ballet, but this post is about a skater dress, so this song automatically springs to mind.  Perhaps I just spend too much time in the presence of teenagers!

Courteney had a party and soccer prize giving to go to tonight and in true female style, had nothing to wear.  I took pity on the penniless student and offered to make her a new dress.  I had been eyeing up The Lady Skater by Kitschy Coo and knew that this style would both suit her and would be very much the "now" dress silhouette of the teenage girl.  I downloaded the pattern and proceeded to copy off a size 4 as her measurements put her between a 3 and a 4.  I had chosen a really nice lycra blend fabric that had more than the recommended 40% stretch as stated in the instructions.  I had reservations but continued anyway.  It quickly became apparent though, as I was making the dress up, that this size and fabric was not a good choice.  I am not generally prone to waders and really hate the wastage but there was no redeeming this dress adequately, so it was quickly dispatched to the fabric bin to be later reincarnated in some other form.

Not to be deterred, I found some nice red jersey knit with a floral embossed pattern on it, in my stash. This fabric produced very different results.  It was lovely to make up, and in my redrafted size 3 pattern, was the perfect fit.  It was however a little too casual for said party.

I love this dress as does Courteney, but it would be better suited to a pair of vans or casual sandals than a night out.

Flushed with success at version two, I had a little stash busting mission on my mind.  I found a small amount of burgundy lace from this dress, and two pieces of black ponti from pants I had made.  They weren't identical but for what I had in mind, it really didn't matter.

I cut the bodice out of the lace and the smaller piece of ponti, adding a small amount at the neckline because I was not going to use a neck band.  I had just enough of the second piece of ponti to cut a skirt.  This time however, when cutting the skirt, I shortened the length at the lengthen/shorten line rather than just whacking 5cm off the bottom.  This had the effect of making the skirt fuller.

I stitched the front bodice pieces together and turned them through, then repeated the process with the back pieces before stitched the front and back together at the sides.  I then stitched the shoulder seams together before slip stitching the bodice lining closed. 

The pattern recommends clear elastic, but my machine threw a complete tanty over this stuff, so I just used braided elastic in the waist, and this worked perfectly.

The only downside to this dress, is it isn't quite as stretchy in the bodice as I would have liked.  It would have benefited from an invisible zip.  

Will I make this dress again?  Definitely!  I am already thinking about a more summer coloured combination.  Would I make it for myself?  The jury is still out on that one, but I am considering it!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What You Wear To Dinner When You Are Not Going To Dinner.....

The day before my birthday, we had plans for a meal out which of course means a new dress.  I was short on time having made ski pants that week so V1314 being a knit dress, came to mind.  This dress has been really popular in blog land of late, so when an online pattern sale popped up in my inbox, who was I to say no!

I had some lovely navy/black and cherry red lycra blend knit
in my stash and as tempting as it was, to make it into version six of New Look 6071, I resisted the temptation and tried something new.

I cut the dress to size 10 and graded to size 12 in the hips.

I have to say, that despite all of the hype surrounding this dress, I kind of feel a little 'meh' about it.  Perhaps there is a little OCD in me but those gathers just annoy me.  They don't sit evenly and creep when the dress is worn.  Not to mention, the rear view!  I should have looked a little harder at the picture on the envelope because this dress just accentuates bits that really I don't want on show.  Don't get me wrong, it will look really nice with my Sewaholic Cordova but just don't think it will get a lot of wear.  So, now that I have discovered I have an extreme aversion to all dresses body con, I wasn't disappointed that my dinner date was cancelled and this dress has been banished to the inner depths of my wardrobe ever since.  Since I really like the fabric, I have bought some more, so it will make a reappearance and I suspect this dress may well be reinvented as a top when my enthusiasm for it returns at all.  Oh, and it goes without saying, I am still looking for that elusive replacement for New Look 6071.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Seaspray Spot Set

After my huge elastic buy up earlier in the year, my underwear sewing enthusiasm waned and my energy moved to larger projects.  But, it has got to the stage where the last of my rtw underwear needed replacing so I had no choice but to either buy more or to make some.

I had some lovely lycra knit from this op shop fabric haul.  I butchered an old tee shirt to make the knicker linings and underwires were removed from an old rtw bra.  Once again I used Kwik Sew 3300 for the bra as I find the fit perfect and McCalls 5400 bikini pants for the knickers.  
I constructed the bra slightly differently this time and didn't actually follow the instructions.  Because I wanted a slightly padded bra, I added an extra internal layer of poly cotton brushed sweatshirting but I didn't want any of the seams visible in the finished product.  I constructed 3 complete cups and then stitched the lining to the interlining making sure I topstitched all of the centre seams flat.  I then stitched the outer layer to the two bottom layers.  I also found with the first bra I made that the piece of fabric between the cups stretched out when I used iron on interfacing, so this time I sandwiched a layer of cotton duck in the middle for extra stability.
The only change I made to the underwear was to narrow the crotch slightly and make the elastic slightly tighter because it seemed to have less stretch.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

New Skirt For Spring

I was feeling a little bored with my current skirt collection, so went on the hunt for a new pattern.  I really like full skirts but feel that they don't necessarily like me.  My compromise was a full A line skirt.  I had been eyeing up New Look 6873 in my collection for a while.  I had already made the shorts and the skirt pattern caught my eye.  Initially I was
going to buy Sewaholic's version but opted instead to save my money and use what I had.

The fabric I chose was this nice burnt orange linen from this op shop fabric haul, bought for an impressive $2.00 for the entire piece.  

I cut the skirt to size 10 but found it really big and sat way too low on my hips.  I took it in so that it sat just below my natural waistline.  Because the fabric is such an unusual colour, I did struggle with the colour of the zip and lining, but in the end just had to go with the peach zip and orange lining.  Fortunately the lining is not visible and the zip insertion couldn't have gone better, so it is barely noticeable. It was one of the occasions when everything was going right. If only every project was quite that straight forward.  My latest project included!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Reliving One's Youth

So, this is how I spent my birthday yesterday, doing something I haven't done for far too long!  The kids have been asking for ages to go skiing and even though the field is only a couple of hours away, it is something we have never got around to, until now!  It was only decided last weekend, that we were going which mean't new ski pants, for me at least.  Having made ski pants for Courteney last winter, I knew what I was trying to achieve but decided to make mine a little more roomy. 

Like Courteney's pants, I used Jalie 2908 and my stash of Goretex bought for next to nothing on Trademe a very long time ago.  I added 3cm to the waist and 4cm to each side seam.  I didn't cut these to a bootleg shape like the pattern, instead grading out to a straight leg style.  I initially intended to line them with polar fleece and add a snow gusset in the legs, like Courteney's pair but because of time constraints, because it is spring and warmer,  and the risk of the field being closed because of wind at this time of the year, I chose to keep it simple, knowing that all of this could be added at a later date.  Like Courteney's the waistband is elasticated at the back and belt loops were added so I could wear a belt if need be.

And the verdict....well, the pants fit comfortably over my running leggings and I did not need the fleece lining because it was warm up there, well as warm as it is going to get on a snow clad mountain!  But for next time, and there will be a next time, I think I will alter them and add the lining and leg gussets like Courteney's.


 Now, while we are on the topic of ski pants, all of the pants worn by my family in the above pictures, were made from the same goretex haul by yours truly.  The male members of the household, including my husband who will be suitably unimpressed by his photo appearing here,  are sporting unlined versions.  Callum has requested that I also make him some "proper" ones for next time.  I could be busy!  Just as well the season is over in a couple of weeks and I have all summer to get organised!

Friday, September 13, 2013


Ahhh, the end of an eventful week!  I don't think it was only the trees that were uprooted this week, I could have been forgiven for thinking I was as well! 

On Tuesday night, a massive storm blew through.  It wasn't a southerly storm like we are used to be a much more violent westerly storm.  It probably sounds all too familiar to those of you living in subtropical climates but here, it is reality unheard of.    We had gale force winds that uprooted trees and cut power, thunder storms that caused numerous scrub and forest fires, a bit of rain (thankfully) followed by humidity and warmth.  It did however provide a rare walk in the park wearing my summer clothing.  Normally at the very least at this time of the year, a cardigan would be required.  Oh, and this is the first time this year that my sandals have seen the light of day.  It is a good thing I busted out the nail polish on the weekend to banish my 'winter' toes!

The dress I am wearing, Vogue 1027, was made in Autumn and has been worn surprisingly a lot over the winter with a cardigan, tights and boots.  The shot of red has been nice to brighten a dull day.  The boots now have been stashed in the back of my wardrobe, in favour of shoes, and now sandals.

Now spring has finally entrenched itself, it is time to start thinking about my spring wardrobe.  There has been a lot of fabric acquisition's and even a little sewing, just not a lot of writing about it!

And pssst.....tomorrow is my birthday!  Weather dependant we are doing something special to celebrate.  Hopefully I will have time for a show and tell before the weekend is over.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Fancy Pants

According to young "J" his speedo's were no longer cutting it in the cool stakes for his swim squads.  In fact he was being teased by his friends for his very uncool budgie smugglers. We couldn't have that now could we!  He wanted some funky trunks in a bright colour, like his mates.  Well, this Mum does not spend $40 plus on brightly coloured swim trunks when she can make brightly coloured unique swim trunks for much much less.  The design we came up with was a "Skins" style trunk, not the initial brief (excuse the pun), but none the less a desired style by my young aquatic male fashionista.   

On a side note, please excuse the dirty knees.  Sport Goofy spends all of his lunch breaks playing soccer in the playground and his knees are permanently mud stained, to the point that we regularly need to take to them with a scrubbing brush.

The fabric we chose was a nylon lycra with not a huge lycra content but enough for swimwear.  I bought some elastic with an internal cord tie from Lincraft and set to work.  Boys swimming trunk patterns are non existent so I used my tnt self drafted pattern and extended the legs so as to make them finish at the knee.

In the past, I have found my twin needle hems tended to break after repeated wear.  I read on a blog, but am unsure which one, that if I use spun polyester in my bobbin, like I use on my overlocker loopers, this is less likely to happen.  It was certainly worth a try.  I wasn't sure whether my machine would cope with it, but it did.  Only time will tell if it is more durable than regular thread.

To finish the legs, I stitched swimwear elastic in the hems to prevent the legs stretching out and riding up when worn.  In hindsight it could have been a little tighter but I was wary of making them too tight.

And the verdict!   Well, I took a couple of quick photos on my phone before his squad session this afternoon and I have to say, he looks pretty pleased with the results!  Oh, and they passed the swim test as well!

Now, Courteney is not one to miss out!  Last week was New Zealand's High Schools Tournament Week.  She is in her schools first eleven and was away with her school team all week.  Before she left, she asked me to make her a pair of "skins" to wear under her football shorts.  Now, this colour was never going to do for game time because apparently the skins had to match the shorts colour and I can assure you, the shorts are not purple.  My pattern for these was  Style Arc Laura Leggings in size 10.  I simply cut them shorter and hemmed using my twin needle.  

I can't claim that these particular fancy pants helped Courteney's performance but for the record her team came second in the South Island Secondary School Tournament of 15 teams!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Mandy Tee "Rocks"

The first day of spring coincided with Fathers Day this year so what better opportunity for a little family excursion.  These tend to be few and far between these days with teenagers having their own agendas.  We took the opportunity on a sunny but breezy morning to walk along the waterfront at Governors Bay.  At was a beautiful morning to be walking in the sunshine but not so much in the shade.  Another words a typical early spring day!  

The photos I took today are using volcanic rock formations as my background.  Lyttelton Harbour, where these photos were taken was once a volcano which last erupted six million years ago causing the side to blow out and the ocean to rush in, creating what we now know as the harbour.

So now I have given you the history/geography run down, I will get on to the sewing run down.

For once, I have made a pattern when it is released.  I know!  What is going on?  The top I speak of is the Tessuti Mandy Boat Neck Tee.  This is a free pattern so I couldn't resist.  I made it out of some heavy cotton knit fabric so it is sort of a tee crossed with a jumper.  The perfect weight for a casual early spring top.  This pattern is a one size fits all and when you see the pattern you will see why.  The only fitting bit is the sleeves.  If you lay the top flat, it is actually the funniest looking thing you have ever seen.  I made it exactly to the pattern, length and all.

There will be a repeat of this pattern.  It is really nice to wear and I love the three quarter sleeves and quite surprisingly even the tent like shape.

Monday, September 2, 2013

End Of August Wrap Up

End Of August Wrap Up

Crimson Inspiration Shirt
Fabric $2.00
Pattern (Used Before) $0.00
Buttons $2.90
Total $4.90

Wild About Stripes Tunic
Fabric $29.50
Pattern (Used Before) $0.00
Total $29.50

Red Cordova
Fabric $3.99
Pattern $25.00
Zip $3.50
Lining $1.99
Total $34.48

Blue Alexa
Fabric $5.00
Pattern (Used Before) $0.00
Total $5.00

Black Alexa
Fabric $5.00
Pattern (Used Before) $0.00
Total $5.00

Striped Dress
Fabric $12.00
Pattern (Used Before) $0.00
Total $12.00

Tiger Shirt
Fabric $1.99
Pattern (Used Before) $0.00
Buttons $2.10
Total $4.09

Black Anita Ponti Pants
Fabric $6.00
Pattern (Used Before) $0.00
Total $6.00

Overlocker Thread $50.50

Total $151.47

RTW Purchases $10.00

A little note on the overlocker thread.  I wasn't sure how to account for this.  I bought 8 reels of thread which should keep me going for, like, forever but didn't want to add it to any one project, so as not to distort the cost.  My solution was to add it in separately.