Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Barcelona - more than just mojitos...

...in fact, we had some pretty delicious caipirinhas as well!

Given that a picture says 1000 words, I'll let these ones do the talking on the four days I spent in Barcelona at the end of last week...

Facade of Casa Batllo
The gorgeous, clean lines of the attic in Casa Batllo
More of the attic
Chimneys and handrails at Casa Batllo (I like how he got around a corner using straight rods)
Light fitting - reminds me of an anemone
Balustrade and sky lights
Gate at Park Guell 
Park Guell - isn't it like something out of Hansel & Gretel? 
An opportunistic pigeon at Park Guell 
Ceiling fixture - Park Guell 
Pigeons and matching flowers - Park Guell 
The classic with the crazy - Park Guell 
The heavenly ceiling of the Sagrada Familia - such a beautiful interior 
Some of the many stained glass windows of La Sagrada Familia
We had such a fantastic four days in this wonderful city.  I was appalled and embarrassed at my lack of Spanish though.  "Que cierra la por favor" plus a big, honest, friendly and hopeful smile saw me through a lot luckily. 

Monday, 20 February 2012

I know what I want, just not what type....

Have you ever purchased apiece of fabric with a particular use in mind, and then gone off the idea, only for the poor fabric to languish in a plastic bag all forlorn? I do this at an alarming rate. I think it has something to do with having more ideas than time. Often, I'll have a *great* idea at the start of a season, buy the material, and then by the time I find to make said item I have lost all my confidence and then struggle to make anything at all. Harrumpf!
So to my current dilemma:

Wool,£15 per metre, Mandors
I originally purchased this medium weight wool to make into this cape: 
BurdaStyle 10/2011/11
I was dubious at the time, as I worried that I would hate a cape if I made it. Potential reasons for hatred being:
  • feeling like I'd be in costume when wearing it...
  • sticking out like a sore them when wearing it...
  • looking the size of a (brown - pebbledashed?) house when wearing it...
  • not knowing what kind of handbag to wear with it...
  • not wearing it as a result of the above; and therefore wasting time and money...
The model doesn't look like a dork wearing hers, but then she and I have different shapes... I'm not saying I'd like hers or anything,  just that they are different; and I wonder how the pattern and I would get on.

Hence why this fabric waits and waits to be transformed. Here are the other patterns I am toying with.  

BurdaStyle 2/2012/11

Vogue 2538 from 2001
Vogue 2147 from who knows when
Then today, I saw this offering from Vivienne Westwood (I have a crush on her style), so now I'm back to thinking maybe a cape would be good:

What do you guys think?

Monday, 13 February 2012


There are literally so many things that I have reason to be grateful for.  Without getting too gushy, I am grateful for my....

  • Friends - when I was back in NZ over Christmas I caught up with friends I haven't seen for years (some close to 10!!) and it was just the same as always (in a good way!).  I flew back to Scotland on a Saturday, and went out that evening and it made my eyes get misty when I caught up with my Edinburgh posse - I had missed them that much.  They are a hoot, are all clever and therefore provoke me to always question things (in a good way!) and are all such beautiful people.  I am truly blessed in the friends department.
  • Family - these guys love me despite all my foibles (notably living on the other side of the world).  Although I know that they hate this at times, they have never once pressured me into moving back.  If you love something set it free....well, they truly have, and I have no doubt that I will return to the coop at some stage. 
  • Job - sure I work to live and not live to work; but ultimately I have an interesting job, with some workmates that fit into the friend category and for which I am remunerated* sufficiently to keep me warm, clean, watered, fed and supplied with supplies for my hobby.
  • Sense of Adventure - whether it be travelling, reading a new author/genre or meeting up with like minded individuals on the Crafter's Ceilidh; I am lucky to have a sense of adventure realised.  Meeting all you ladies on that single day has prompted me to sew and update this blog regularly - I think of you all as a little legion of people egging me on to craft regularly.  Thank you!
  • Happiness - my inner barometer seems to run closer to happy than any other emotion.  I know people who can not say the same, and I am truly grateful that I have a happy disposition.  I try to 'share the love' with this one too - it would be my life's greatest achievement if I could improve even just one person's day each day.
  • Husband - well, he is just the best.  He is my best friend, my confidante, my coach, my closest ally, staunch protector and advocate, favourite person to spend time with, comedian and generally the other pea in my pod.  I smile whenever I think of him....and often I chuckle.  He believes in us whole-heartedly, which is just fantastic and so supportive.  I look forward to growing old (but not growing up) with him.
In the spirit of showing something made from a gift, I share my most recent offering to St. Claire (the patron saint of needleworkers did you know).

The front - on Maisy
The back - on Maisy
This blouse was made from the pattern I obtained in the Pattern Swap on the Crafter's Ceilidh, with material purchased from Mandor's that same day.  The pattern is from 1969, and I had to chuckle as I made this because the material is probably exactly the kind of thing some people would have thought we'd be wearing by now back then.  I mean, it's a silk/cotton/silver blend.  Yes, that's right, it has METAL in it.  Tee hee.  

Oh, actually, that's not so futuristic is it?...ever heard of a little thing called a chainmail shirt Rachel?.... whatever, it made me think of this lovelable lot at the time!

So, here are the details:
The pattern (from Scruffy Badger Time)
The material

I made a few changes to the pattern:

  • Cut the front on the fold (~1cm along the fold line - I needed a bit more room!)
  • Cut the back in two parts (adding 1.5cm for seam allowances)
  • Included a facing along the neck and back edges 
  • Sewed a metal separating zip on the back (superimposed so that I can easily remove it in the future (oooo see what I did there) if I come to hate the zip).
  • Put the sleeves in the wrong way around...

The front - on Me
The back - on Me

yes, that's right - my sleeves are in the wrong arms, so the plackets are on the top of the sleeves rather the undersides...I mean, come on Rachel!  I sewed my first shirt when I was 12 - you'd think I would have established the art of working out what way a sleeve goes in wouldn't you....appears not.  I'm debating whether to cut the cuffs of and turn it into a short sleeved blouse...I think that would look pretty cool.  The zip is heaps heavier than the fabric, so it makes the top hang funny, but whatever.  I still like it.  Peace out.
A propos gratitude, today is my 2nd wedding anniversary.  How fun!  In July we'll have been together 10 years.  I still can't believe this.  I was always the girl that never got asked out, and here I am married to my best friend.  Sew grateful indeed.

* I always think of remunerated as renumerated in my head.  My logic is that it's about money, i.e. numbers...anyone else get confused by this?

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Boule Dress (BurdaStyle 09/2011/132)

It makes no sense, but I keep thinking of this as my 'Boule' dress. Boule, as in the game old men play in Europe with silver balls...in my minds eye, the type of guys that are in the 70s, have a cheeky glint in their eye and have deep belly  laughs each time one of them tries to chat up a 20-something year old girl (knowing full well that they have no chance of success).  The type of guys that kiss their mates because they are just so lovely and happy... I don't know why, but it does.

Now then, with that  out of the way, I made this dress in January whilst I was back home in NZ. Ahh, sewing on holiday, listening to birds and eating kiwi junk food.

Material used:
       40% Silk / 60% Cotton blend (lightweight and fluid)
                                     2m at 150m wide
                                     $42 per metre, but purchased at half price. Yay!

Notions:                 Interfacing, thread 

Notes on the pattern/drafting/sewing method:

The design detail in the front is formed by creating a seam within the dress.  Unlike what I originally thought, the bow is purely for aesthetics.  I originally thought that it was used to draw the two sides together, in order to create the pool of fabric.  This meant that I got quite confused by the instructions, when in reality, the whole dress is very simple.  I’ve doctored the image below (original is here) to show how the dress looks without the bow.

Next time, I would increase the depth of the armhole, as it currently sits too high on me.  I would lower it (by extending the length of the bottom piece at the top) by a good couple of centimetres.  Other than that, the fit is good.  I am glad I cut it a size smaller, and that I used a lightweight material with a lot of drape, as I fear it would look too much like a sack otherwise.

I didn't put a zip in the side (and I can put it  on and off just fine), nor did I use the facing provided for the hem.  Instead, I sewed along the hemline with a tightly spaced zigzag stitch and then cut the excess material off, just below the line.

I plan on wearing this with a black polo-neck and stockings in the winter,  then sandals and a hat in summer.

Me looking smug for some reason!

It is pretty poofy on the side, but I don't mind!

Monday, 6 February 2012

WFC Burn’s Supper 2011 – 1950s Glam - The Detail

The Detailed Notes
NB/- please skip if at all faint of heart – she's not pretty until the final stitch has been knotted and cut!

  1. Sew chiffon and satin pieces together, treating them as one layer rather than two.
  2. Sew cotton and interfacing pieces together, again, treating them as one layer rather than two.
  3. Sew channels for the boning by simply sewing bias binding to the relevant areas – it's inside all the layers so no one will see it (besides, buttercup yellow on white is one of my favourite combinations, but not one I'm likely to wear anytime soon!).
  4. Sew pleats into a long rectangle of satin (mine are 1.5cm deep and separated by 4.5cm).  Press.
  5. Baste along sides and bottom of bodice.
  6. Create loops and space evenly along back edge: these need to face into the middle of the garment at this point.  I also sewed a piece of webbing on each edge to provide additional reinforcement and support.
  7. Create "modesty" panel (urgh - what a gross name!) to go in between the lacing (essentially just a rectangle which has been finished on two sides – top and one side).
  8. Sew lining and outer together as per normal, but enclosing the end of the loops and the panel.
  9. Turn right-side out.  Loops should now be facing each other, and the "modesty" panel should be flapping about on one side.
  10. Attach lace to bodice, hand sew in place and then fold up cumberband to cover seam.  Hand sew everything into place. 
  11. Appliqué (in the loosest sense of the word) the lace to the bottom of the chiffon for the skirt.
  12. Hem satin for skirt to required length
  13. Treat chiffon and satin as one and gather the top edge.
  14. Sew skirt to bodice (keeping lining free)– my skirt was 3m wide so I had a lot of gathers to pull in order to get it to the right size!  I sewed it along the length of the bodice from one set of loops through to the end of the modesty panel, but left some (c.3cm) hanging out either side.  The reason for this is to make sure I could get it on and off!
  15. Sew side seam on skirt.
  16. Finish upper edge of skirt that is not within the bodice.  I just clipped the edges diagonally and then turned it over two twice and sewed two lines of stitching – two because my fabric frayed a lot.
  17. Hand sew embellishments onto bodice (in order that threads can be hidden between all the layers.
  18. Hand sew lining over bodice/skirt seam enclosing all edges.
  19. Sew 'snaps' (I'm sure I used to call these something else, but I can't remember what – been reading American patterns for too long!) on panel and opposite side of dress to keep the the panel in place underneath the ribbons.
  20. Thread ribbon through loops, put on, draw up ribbons, knot and wear!
  21. Grab martini and relax (Obviously my hair will be done (nay, set) and my make up perfect at this point….

PHEW.  That took me almost an entire lunchtime to write up, and three weekend days of cutting/sewing to create!  I need a lie-down, and possibly a whiskey.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

WFC Burn’s Supper 2011 – 1950s Glam

The (Imaculate) Conception
The starting point for this year's Burn's Supper offering was this image that I found on Pinterest one lunchtime: a dress from the 1950s.  Well, this looked like just the ticket for me to create for this year's Burn's Supper.
First stop – material.  However, I'm trying hard to use what is in my stash and to 'make it work'.  So, I purchased some lace and some satin (on the Crafter's Ceilidh), but all the rest came from my stash: whoop whoop!  The other exciting thing is that I didn't use a pattern for this dress.  Please refer to the following diagram for details of how I felt about this:
Remember "Meet the Fockers"?  You're outside the circle of trust Greg...
The Notes

NB/- detailed notes will be provided in a separate post
The first step in this project was the creation of the bodice.  I figured the skirt would be easy, so I had to make the bodice first to see if my adventure was going to work.  I wanted a strapless, shaped bodice, with boning, that wasn't too high.  My starting point was the bodice (minus overlay) from McCalls 5382 (??), as I have made that dress before and knew it should work.

My bodice is made of a number of layers:
  • Black lace overlay;
  • Black chiffon/white satin as the outer layer;
  • Black satin cumberband
  • Sew-in, medium weight interfacing (white); and
  • 100% cotton (white) for the lining*. 
*There are multiple reasons why I used (and why I always use) cotton for the lining on evening dresses:
  • It is not slippery and therefore the dress holds up better;
  • It is breathable and therefore more comfortable to wear; and
  • It has a certain amount of stamina in it and is therefore up to the task of supporting the rest of the dress.
The Show
Here is the final dress.  

Detail of the finished bodice

I think the hard work was totally worth it as this makes me feel $1,000,000 – see evidence below of me pleased as punch.  I wore it with the petticoat I purchased from Armstong's, which was good as new after a soak in the bath, cold wash in the washing machine and a spray of white vinegar/water.  It was only this last one that took the musty smell out

The Reception
My friends (mostly gals admittedly) loved it.  Mr. L told me that he loves how I always look elegant.  "Look – not act" is all I can say!
The Mr & Me