sewing

Meet Tilly the Singer!

10 March, 2016

At the end of last year I wanted a new machine. Something probably not brand new, but a little younger than my lovely Pfaff. I started saving up money and gazed wistfully at advertisements for Berninas. One day I decided to take stock of my life and realised I had a Husqvarna, only a few years old, sitting in the garage… her power cords all chewed up thanks to a mischievous dog who shall not be named. It was not sewing properly so I’d stowed it behind a couch, the same couch Miffy hid behind during thunderstorms. She’s not normally a cord chewer, but she must have taken to it in her fits of anxiety. Thanks, Miffy.

I took the Husqy into work to send it to the sewing machine repair guy, thinking I’d have the mod con I really wanted (automatic button holes!) while still using the Pfaff as my regular machine. I’d put off buying a new machine until I could afford a really, really you-beaut-bloody-ripper bit of  kit. Yes, I would do that.

Unfortunately it seems as if the power cord on the Husqy is going to be problematic to replace (I’m yet to properly talk to the repair guy since I’ve been sick and busy) so… I decided to do something entirely sensible and buy a machine that can only sew in a straight line. No automatic button holes. No zig zag. It’s actually older than my own parents.

It's a 1949 Singer 201k!

It’s a 1949 Singer 201k!

NO REGRETS! Meet Tilly. (I finally saw The Dressmaker, ha!)

I found her on Gumtree and she was $95. I don’t know if that’s a good price, but she was the cheapest of the 201 models I saw listed. The guy I bought her off was probably younger than me, and sews camping bags and other hefty stuff. Perfect. I need a machine that can sew through my leg and is adorable and doesn’t have automatic button holes… oh dear.

BUT THE STITCHING. The 201k is renowned for its perfectly lovely stitch.

BUT THE STITCHING. The 201 is renowned for its perfectly lovely stitch.

 

I'm a sucker for old manuals!

I’m a sucker for old manuals!

She came with all the manuals (from 1949!) and a bunch of feet, as well as a bag of random bias binding and threads. My mother-in-law gave me a few Singer feet some months ago, and I was bummed at the time that my high shank Pfaff couldn’t use the ruffler, but now I can ruffle my butt off.

Get a load of that ruffling foot! It's a hell of a contraption but once I got over the fear of having my fingers gnashed I managed to make some great ruffles in no time at all.

Get a load of that ruffling foot! It’s a hell of a contraption but once I got over the fear of having my fingers gnashed I managed to make some great ruffles in no time at all.

Seriously, who wants me to ruffle something for them?

I’ve been planning on sewing more purses and bags and now I can do that without fearing my Pfaff will combust. It’s a wonderful machine but now I’ve seen what the Singer can sew through, it’s definitely my go-to-guy for heavy duty stitching. I’m also going to use it for top stitching because I’d be a fool not to showcase that sexy, sexy stitch quality.

Now I just need a bigger sewing desk. And one capable of holding up my three all-metal sewing beasts!

sewing

Hanky hems for a stuffed up week.

9 March, 2016
IMG_20160301_224044

My first hanky hem t-shirt of the week as modeled by my dress form. The black and white swallow print cotton/ jersey from Darn Cheap Fabrics is bordered by a panel of black mesh along the front hem.

Last week I went into a bit of a hanky hem t-shirt frenzy. I had two I’d made a few months ago, but I wanted to make some more after my boss complimented me on one I was wearing! Funnily enough, I’ve had a head cold and last week I was working 5 days, but somehow I decided it was an appropriate time to sit at my sewing machine and sniff, cough and splutter my way through the night as I sewed hanky hems.

In this my dress form is wearing another hanky hem t-shirt, sewn up in some jasmine photo print jersey I bought from work.

In this my dress form is wearing another hanky hem t-shirt, sewn up in some jasmine photo print jersey I bought from work.

The pattern is one I based on a dartless fitted t-shirt block by Connie Crawford, given to me by a friend a few years ago. It’s no longer available on her site, but you can adapt a t-shirt pattern you already have, or trace a t-shirt you own and draft the pattern.

My probably-not-industry-compliant pattern diagram illustrates how to adapt a t-shirt to have a hanky hem.

My probably-not-industry-compliant pattern diagram illustrates how to adapt a t-shirt to have a hanky hem.

To start with, take your front and back pattern pieces. Mark the hip line of each piece, then draw a horizontal line out from that hip line on your front pattern piece. You can continue that line into eternity if you so please, it will result in more dangly side bits as they drop and essentially form a longer, flared, side seam. Smooth that angle into a nice curve. Copy your alteration to the back piece.

The bottom hem of the t-shirt will have a waterfall effect and if you’re using a knit, you can usually get away with not hemming it at all. I lengthened my t-shirt so it was tunic length.  I like the casual look of it. I finished my necklines with a band, and this tutorial shows you how to do that. You can also finish the sleeves with a band, but I used my twin needle.

The hanky hem can also be applied to patterns for woven fabrics too. Choose a fabric with a soft hand and lots of drape if you want your t-shirt to gently flutter over your hips, but if you prefer an architectural silhouette you could go for a more stiff or heavier fabric. This is why sewing is awesome, you can create different things from the same starting block!

Here are some kind of shoddy instagram photos of me in my hanky hem tops. There just hasn’t been time enough to take nice photos with the good camera!

In my backyard (the trees are huge now!) wearing my black and white swallow t-shirt with some black cropped pants.

In my backyard (the trees are huge now!) wearing my black and white swallow t-shirt with some black cropped pants.

 

My boss took this photo of me at work, hence the lovely bolts of fabric! I'm wearing the jasmine print t-shirt here, and forcing myself to smile through the streams of constant snot!!

My boss took this photo of me at work, hence the lovely bolts of fabric! I’m wearing the jasmine print t-shirt here, and forcing myself to smile through the streams of constant snot!!

body acceptance, Body Image, sewing

True story: I sew my own pads.

23 February, 2016

[Content note: this post discusses menstruation and sanitary products.]

I switched to a menstrual cup a few years ago and never looked back. I’m not the most ardent environmentalist in the world but packaging waste makes me feel anxious, and knowing how many plastic wrappers I was sending into landfill didn’t sit well with me. Another bonus to switching to a reusable menstrual product: saving money. I love saving money, because it means I can spend it on other things that I might not have otherwise had the money for.

When my shoulder and back pain got really bad a year ago, it was harder to use the cup; panic would overtake me as I squatted in the shower unable to extract it. It was going to stay inside me forever. And ever. This immovable cup would cause a back up of uterine lining and I would one day squirt blood out of my eyes like that horned lizard from The X Files. Or I could ask Nick to help me. Both options were terrifying.

In my transition to reusable menstrual products I came across cloth pads and dismissed them largely because it seemed like a hassle to clean them. I wasn’t a hippie, just a poor lefty feminist, and cloth pads were at the bridge before you got to moon paintings. After realising I couldn’t continue with the cup due to my shoulder I remembered cloth pads and did a bunch of research.

There are lots of positives about using cloth pads: cheaper, reduced rubbish, sewing/ buying your own customised pads is fun, tailored pads to suit your body shape, cloth feels nicer than plastic, no adhesive/ plastic rashes,  you’ve always got a stash handy, plus more and more. Some people say their cramping and period length are reduced but no studies conclusively prove this, nor have I experienced this. At the end of the day, if you find something that works for you, then that’s all that matters.

For a bunch of fabric sewn together and wrapped around your underwear gusset, cloth pads can be completely confusing. I’ve sewn since I was 15 but this was a new world of absorbancy, dryness, leakproofness, and of all things… press snaps. It can involve quite an initial outlay of money for specialty materials but when you work out the cost per pad, then a cost per use, it becomes more affordable. I wanted to Do Everything Right. I didn’t want surprise leaks or traveling pads landing on the floor.

PADS in SPACE!

My first three pads were made from a planet print blue flannelette, a black floral brushed cotton, and a star print blue flannelette.

There are many patterns for pads available online, but since I’m fat I didn’t want to mess around. I traced the crotch of my own underwear and added wings long enough to wrap around the gusset and close with a press snap. I put about six layers of cotton fleece and microfleece inside as the core, topped it with flannel and backed it with PUL (a waterproof fabric), using this tutorial as a rough guide. Then I got out my hammer and made a lot of noise inserting the snaps. Voila! My debut on the cloth pad scene.

People make cloth pads out of all kinds of fabric. I have even seen Minion and Donald Trump pads. I can’t quite tell if it’s because they like the subject matter… or really hate them. My work has stocked really cute flannelette in the last year so I’ve been able to get some great prints! Some people prefer using quilting cotton for the pad top, because of the range of prints available, but you can also use old clothing. I got really anxious about the core fabrics when I started and bought some stuff called microfleece; apparently it’s more of a wicking fabric and not an absorbent fabric so may have a tendency to leak under compression. It’s worked fine for me. In fact, so long as there is some kind of fabric there and you swap it out every so often, you probably won’t leak even if you don’t buy specialty fabrics.

Two of my space print pads - these are an all-in-one style with the core layers sandwiched between flannel (top) and PUL (backing).

Two of my space print pads – these are an all-in-one style with the core layers sandwiched between flannel (top) and PUL (backing).

If you’re sewing your first couple of pads don’t focus too much on getting just the “right” fabrics, just give it a go. The esoteric language of the world of cloth pad making really puts many people off! Gather some flannelette, polar fleece, regular cotton fleece and some press snaps. You don’t need those fancy resin snaps and a big commercial snap press. Metal snaps, a setting tool and a hammer do just as well. Down the track you might want to experiment with stuff like Zorb, Windpro and PUL fabric but to begin just use the most accessible materials. I found it too easy to get overwhelmed, and the only reason why I didn’t give up is because I did not want to go back to disposable pads.

And how have I found my cloth pads after nearly a year of use? They are very effective. I haven’t bled on any couches or skirts; and the cleaning process isn’t as gross as I thought it’d be. I stash my used pads in a bag under the sink and wash them every couple of days; first wash is cold with regular detergent and any oxy-action product, then second wash is hot with more detergent and sometimes borax. I am not too fussed with stains, honestly, but a big bake in the sun does wonders for lifting much of it. I remember the sickly smell of used disposable pads and was very surprised that used cloth pads smelt different. Not scent free, but not terrible either.

If you don’t have access to a sewing machine or find the idea of making your own pads too scary, you can always buy some ready-made ones from the hundreds of pad makers on etsy. There are so many different designs and shapes! It may seem like the price is expensive but remember, with proper care you’ll be using these pads for years.

The eighteen exposed core cloth pads I made this weekend. They feature flannelette tops with lollies and sweets, dogs with sunglasses, and sweet little fern prints.

The eighteen exposed core cloth pads I made this weekend, based on my original pattern but refined a little. They feature flannelette tops with lollies and sweets, dogs with sunglasses, and sweet little fern prints.

This past weekend I had a terrible sinus headache and I wanted something mindless to do, so I cut out a bunch of material and attempted to make a second style of pads to add to my stash. I wanted to attempt an “exposed core” style, and I wanted to try my hardest to produce a nice outcome. My first pads were hastily sewn and I didn’t iron a damn seam. This time I spent ages at the ironing board, and the result is a less bulky and far crisper looking pad. In fact, 18 cloth pads in total. And then I spent a morning hammering in snaps while Nick was watching Daytona (HA!)

Three of the new exposed core pads. I used up some plain cotton fabric for the wings and put my lollies and sweets and puppies in sunnies flannel on top. These didn't have snaps installed.

Three of the new exposed core pads. I used up some plain cotton fabric for the wings and put my lollies and sweets and puppies in sunnies flannel on top. These didn’t have snaps installed.

I could probably write about this forever, but I’m wary of completely inundating you with TMI. I got a lot of advice from the Sewing Cloth Menstrual Pads group on fb, they have an extensive knowledge library in the files with a lot of free patterns, and the admins work very hard to make it a trans inclusive space. Obsidian’s Reusable Menstrual Products site has a wealth of information too.

For my next set of pads I might try toning the toxic levels of cuteness down. I certainly won’t be sewing Minions, Donald Trump or any of Australia’s wretched political leaders into my cloth pads. My vagina is too precious for that.

Art, Body Image

Girth Guides are online!

1 February, 2016

A few years ago I wanted to create a club for fat activists called Girth Guides. I love coming up with cute names for things and after I stopped patting myself on the back I registered the domain and swore I’d do something with it. My vision was an online gathering place for activists to seek community and a bit of support, a place where they could take a break from the public and private activism work that all too often leads to burn out.

Shortly afterwards I experienced a mental breakdown and burnt out myself. Life became mostly about protecting myself and I ceased doing interviews and public writing and even meeting up with people and going to events. I never stopped my personal activism, and I never stopped experiencing fat stigma. It is a perpetual work, and it IS work. Many people don’t think they are doing labour when they are resisting and questioning systemic abuse and neglect. It takes a toll.

Girth Guides: Patches for Fat Activists

Girth Guides: Patches for Fat Activists

Last year I saw how many artists were producing their work in patches and I remembered Girth Guides. I remembered the reason why I wanted to belong, and why I wanted a recognition of my work; so with the encouragement of my friends and peers I started to create artwork for merit patches – a small part of the concept for Girth Guides but the most tangible element.

The idea was that people could validate their own experience and reward themselves for their merit. It’s about recognising how we struggle and survive and overcome. There is no measure of fatness or activism, no hurdles to jump or litmus tests.

The original Girth Guide patch collection

The original Girth Guide patch collection

After an amazing crowdfunding campaign on Pozible, I was able to get 14 patches made and now I have distributed the rewards to my generous supporters I’m super pumped to announce they are now available on Fancy Lady Industries to purchase!

My personal pink collector's sash modelled by my dress form. The whole collection of Girth Guides patches have been sewn on.

My personal pink collector’s sash modelled by my dress form. The whole collection of Girth Guides patches have been sewn on.

There’s a limited amount of collector’s sashes (if demand requires, I can make more!) and because I have some ultra special Patron of the Fats patches left over, I’m going to include one when you order the complete collection of patches in one transaction. These patches were offered for the very highest tier of pledges for the Pozible campaign and due to ordering minimums I do have leftovers but I do want to maintain exclusivity!

So please, join me in the Girth Guides and recognise your own merit!

Fashion, sewing

Unicorns and daisies and rainbows, oh my!

21 December, 2015

It’s been a year. A pretty good year. So good in fact I simply haven’t had time for blogging, but I’ve still been making things. Lately I’m wondering why I’m not showing them off more; so I thought I may as well get back into the blogging habit especially when I’ve made this incredible dress that I feel needs the Nobel Peace Prize.

This fabric is a guide to better living. Unicorns with pink and blue manes, rainbows, butterflies, flowers and the odd sparkle.

This fabric is a guide to better living. Unicorns with pink and blue manes, rainbows, butterflies, flowers and the odd sparkle.

I found this trippy unicorn fabric on a facebook destash group and snapped up 3 metres so quickly I got a nose bleed. I had no idea what I was going to use it for but every cell in my body craved it. A few months later I saw that Modcloth had a dress made out of EXACTLY the same print. So I knew I had to make a dress. But not that dress. My kind of dress.

I cobbled together my own pattern out of the SBCC Mimosa blouse, and a simple A-line skirt. The narrow width of the fabric (112 cm wide fabric is not kind to the plus size sewist) meant my skirt had to have a few degrees shaved off the A-line angle but in the end the difference was negligible. I didn’t quite have enough fabric for the raglan sleeves so I used a yellow cotton I bought from my work and trimmed the waist with some bias of the same fabric to tie it all in. I feel like the contrast sleeve works for me because the print is a whole lot of something that could easily scare off regular, boring people.

Your hero wears a magical unicorn dress with pale yellow sleeves, a beehive and a pink flower in her hair.

Your hero wears a magical unicorn dress with pale yellow sleeves, a beehive and a pink flower in her hair.

I wore it on my birthday yesterday to a casual family lunch. Of course.

Hands on hips, I'm dedicated to unicorns. (Oh have you seen my arm tattoo coloured in? That happened earlier in the year.)

Hands on hips, I’m dedicated to unicorns. (Oh have you seen my arm tattoo coloured in? That happened earlier in the year.)

Taking outfit photos is still mildly embarrassing. That feeling just doesn't go away, does it?

Taking outfit photos is still mildly embarrassing. That feeling just doesn’t go away, does it?

I told Nick I needed a new headshot for my internet endeavours and he kindly obliged.

I told Nick I needed a new headshot for my internet endeavours and he kindly obliged.

This dress was made for eating whole cakes with novelty oversized dessert spoons.

This dress was made for eating whole cakes with novelty oversized dessert spoons.

I really do need to formally document my crafting and making more. Perhaps I will make that my 2016 resolution.

sewing

Purple Stain, Purple Stain.

15 April, 2015

I have been doing a LOT of things but I keep forgetting to blog about them. Once upon a time I would be quite distressed by this but I’m ok with it these days!

So I’ve offered to make a very special dress for a friend and a part of that dress is some lovely lace that we needed to dye purple. I assumed the lace was cotton and went ahead and plopped it in some RIT dye but the result was entirely lavender… meaning my lace was actually polyester!

Preparing to dye a bunch of things with iDye Poly.

Preparing to dye a bunch of things with iDye Poly. The lavender lace is in the bowl soaking alongside some unsuspecting white fabrics.

I came across iDye Poly at The Place I Shall Not Name That Starts With S, as I say at work, and threw caution and $15 to the wind. It comes in a “no mess” soluble packet that meant I’d have to round up a bunch of stuff to dye or I’d waste a lot of good dye! Also there was mess. Parts of my laundry are forever purple. I hope that any future owner of this house has plans to incorporate lilac in the laundry.

I dyed my lace first because I wanted it to be as dark and vibrant as possible, throwing in a bit of bridal tulle as well because why the heck not? I had it on a low boil for nearly an hour, stirring regularly and accepting the fact that an incredibly strong chemical pong might well lead to cancer.

Purple lace - GET!

Purple lace – GET!

Victory!! Now to use up the rest of the dye pot. First some dodgy tied up polyester cheesecloth from my granma’s stash. I thought it’d end up with more light parts but I think soaking the fabric in water before tying it up meant the dye could permeate further into the nooks and crannies. I only boiled it for about 20 minutes because I was hungry and I still had to do another load! After that I did a remnant of some broderie anglaise, and not knowing how it’d turn out I had it on the boil for half an hour. The embroidery was certainly a synthetic thread but the base fabric could have been a cotton/ poly blend. The result was lovely but there must have been a bit of cotton in that base cloth because it was slightly muted. I still love it!

The "tie dyed" cheesecloth ended up as a tonal and mottled piece.

The “tie dyed” cheesecloth ended up as a tonal and mottled piece.

Off the line and on my table, the colours look darker inside at night time.

Off the line and on my table, the colours look darker inside at night time.

I will be going straight to iDye in the future. Today I found out my boss keeps her dye baths in sealed buckets so she can reuse them, so next time I don’t think I’ll feel the pressure to dye absolutely everything I can find!

My purpled laundry tub. The saucepan is fine!

My purpled laundry tub. The saucepan is fine!

What am I working on next? Well hopefully I will be able to show you a gorgeous dress in a few weeks! I’m also planning on sewing some more men’s shirts, this time for a friend. I’ve been trying to pad out my dress form and sew a cover for her, but that’s turning out to be challenging. Tune in next time for… less purple blogging.

sewing

A Mimosa and A Flamingo.

4 March, 2015

A while ago some friends sent me this adorable flamingo fabric and I held onto it for so long because I didn’t want to use it on a wadder (i.e. something so crap I’d wad up and throw in the bin for non-sewist readers!) Since I’ve been making a bunch of half circle skirts I felt very strongly that this fabric was destined to become a cute little skirt but was always bummed out by the narrow width.

When you’re a fat sewer you tend to pass over the 115cm wide bolts of fabric in favour of the 150cm statuesque beauties because, well, ya need more damn width. In this case I would have completely ignored an amazing flamingo print because of my “narrow width blindness”, so I’m really really grateful Caroline and Molly picked it out for me and sent it to me from Arizona! It just meant I had to solve a few problems.

Gored circle skirt layout

Gored circle skirt layout (Source)

I decided to split the skirt into 6 gores, and if I was using a solid colour or even a multi directional print I’d be fine to lay each gore out as shown in the above layout diagram and have leftover fabric for a waistband. My print only went one way. So I just managed to eke out the pieces but didn’t have enough for a waistband. NEVER FEAR! I asked social media to advise me. We went with cubes.

The waistband is a three dimensional cube affair which coordinates nicely with the retro 'mingos and odd swiss cheese holed button!

The waistband is a three dimensional cube affair which coordinates nicely with the retro ‘mingos and odd swiss cheese holed button!

Here I am, with my carefully engineered 6 gore half circle skirt! I'm also wearing a white blouse made with SBCC's Mimosa pattern.

Here I am, with my carefully engineered 6 gore half circle skirt! I’m also wearing a white blouse made with SBCC’s Mimosa pattern.

It turned out pretty well! A good approximation of a skirt, if I say so myself. I wore it on the weekend with a black broderie anglaise top made with the same SBCC pattern used for this white blouse, but I tucked it in so you could see the waistband. Half of a very breezy Coolangatta saw my whole arse about three times. You’re welcome, Coolie.

Check out my gams... I mean flamingos. (I always feel the need to point out my dented shin bone from my childhood swimming pool exiting technique which consisted of smashing my leg into the rim of the pool as I pulled myself out.)

Check out my gams… I mean flamingos. (I always feel the need to point out my dented shin bone from my childhood swimming pool exiting technique which consisted of smashing my leg into the rim of the pool as I pulled myself out.)

The back of the raglan sleeved Mimosa.

The back of the raglan sleeved Mimosa.

Looking pretty chuffed with myself.

Looking pretty chuffed with myself.

The white SBCC Mimosa is actually my fourth. I’m loving this blouse for summer, but surprisingly I haven’t actually blogged about it despite it being my work staple. I have made this top in a white and black broderie as well as the same coral eyelet used in yesterday’s crop top.

This fabric from my work is a woven cotton elastane with a raised squiggly texture. It’s VERY stretchy and the weird thing about it is that the stretch direction is lengthways instead of widthways, from selvage to selvage. I snapped up the very last of the bolt, or what I like to call “adopting” the end of the fabric. I have to be very careful, working at a fabric store, because I could very easily “adopt” a lot of fabric!

sewing

Coral and Scallops, my Jacaranda separates.

3 March, 2015
My as yet unnamed dress form (a gift from my mother in law!) modelling the coral eyelet crop top with black scallop hemmed half circle skirt.

My as yet unnamed dress form (a gift from my mother in law!) modelling the coral eyelet crop top with black scallop hemmed half circle skirt.

After sewing up my first Jacaranda I figured it’d look awesome split in two. That way I can make up a bunch of tops and bottoms and mix and match! So I threw myself into a frenzy finishing the first of these separates to wear to the beach with Tess Holliday when she was in town.

Tess Holliday and I at the height of bikini season on the Gold Coast!

Tess Holliday and I at the height of bikini season on the Gold Coast!

Pics or it didn’t happen? I actually spent more time in the water than I spent wearing my new ensemble!

Feeling fancy in my coral and scallop separates, based on Tenterhook Patterns' Jacaranda Dress!

Feeling fancy in my coral and scallop separates, based on Tenterhook Patterns’ Jacaranda Dress!

I’ve made three tops this summer in broderie anglaise/ eyelet cotton. I’m a little bit in love with how cool it is to wear; the built in ventilation system has gotten me through many work shifts in our un-air-conditioned fabric shop! Of course, these fabrics are from my work. The coral fabric is actually a remnant from another top I made that I will have to find time to photograph eventually! I lined the top with a sherbert coloured cotton voile which is so soft and cool on the skin.

Pockets! Well, just one. But still! Also note the scalloped hem, a last minute addition.

Pockets! Well, just one. But still! Also note the scalloped hem, a last minute addition.

From this angle you can see the arm hole gaping, I’ll figure out how to tighten that up in the next iteration of this top. I did a side zip on the skirt which meant I had to lose a pocket but I was ok with that because back skirt zippers are difficult for me to use. The skirt is made out of mechanical stretch: cheap, great to sew with, and easy to care for!

I love this coral colour. It's one of my favourites!

I love this coral colour. It’s one of my favourites!

An exposed zipper using a chunky metal tooth from my grandmother's stash.

An exposed zipper using a chunky metal tooth from my grandmother’s stash.

Of course the zipper is too short to allow me to put the top on and take it off without squashing my boobs and asking Nick for help. Of course. A more picky seamstress would match the zip better and install it better and so on and so forth but I’m perpetually in pursuit of instant gratification and this one was amongst my grandmother’s old zippers and I liked its brassy teeth.

The coral colour of this eyelet fabric sold out very quickly but it also came in an amazing turquoise and tennis ball yellow. I can’t see myself in the latter, but I have my eye on that turquoise!

sewing

My birthday Jacaranda dress.

2 March, 2015
The Perkinses on christmas day 2014 with Miffy and our new adoptee Jess!

The Perkinses on christmas day 2014 with Miffy and our new adoptee Jess!

It’s taken me a long time to get photos of this dress! I sewed it up just in time to wear it on my birthday on the 20th of December and then I wore it again on Christmas Day. I’m sure I’ve worn it to other places as well, I’ve just been working and coping with a back injury and hypothyroidism for the last couple of months so all non-essential primping and posing had been shelved.

Last year I had radioactive iodine therapy for Graves disease and my thyroid levels have gone down as planned but I wasn’t prepared to feel so terrible. It’s been shocking, I can’t lie. Coupled with my back, I’ve been living in Struggle Town but thankfully I have Nick and a couple of adorable dogs to keep me going.

Jess the cavalier/ maltese cross wearing a tutu I made for her.

Jess the cavalier/ maltese cross wearing a tutu I made for her.

Yes, our dog population has doubled! We adopted an elderly dog called Jess from a lady who moved into a care home that didn’t allow dogs. We don’t really know how old she is but her previous owner estimated she was around 13 years old. Jess doesn’t know how to play which disappoints Miffy a little bit but she has been settling in bit by bit, and her favourite things are dinner time and sleeping under the kitchen table.

So, on to the business end of this post! I had been waiting for  Tenterhook Patterns to bring out the Jacaranda dress for ages, watching Amanda’s instagram and quietly pining away!

Whimsically modelling my Jacaranda dress, a sleeveless princess seamed bodice with a sweetheart neckline and a half circle knee length skirt.

Whimsically modelling my Jacaranda dress, a sleeveless princess seamed bodice with a sweetheart neckline and a half circle knee length skirt.

I made up size G and had to add a little width at the waist, as well as make my half circle skirt a little less… half circular due to the narrow width of the nice linen print I’ve had in my stash for about 8 years.

I lined it with some cotton voile because poly linings have zero business being in my life right now considering we’ve had one of the hottest summers ever in south-east Queensland. As much as I love how cool the linen and cotton combination is, ironing this dress is a beast. I thought I’d pressed it well before taking these photos but you can’t ignore those wrinkles up there.

The dress from behind features a zipper that isn't long enough because I never plan ahead.

The dress from behind; featuring a zipper that isn’t long enough because I never plan ahead.

Next time I make this I’m adding more width across the back and taking a wedge out of the neckline to narrow it down. I’m also going to try the pencil skirt variation, split it into panels and try to Frankenstein some sleeves. I have an idea to combine an amazing digital glitchy print double knit a lovely reader sent me with black scuba.

Looking a bit moony!

Looking a bit moony!

I’ve made a separates variation on this pattern that I’ll post tomorrow, and I’ve used the skirt pattern to make a 6 gore skirt. In the Jacaranda comfort meets whimsy at a perfect apex and I don’t hesitate to recommend this dress. I feel fabulous in it. Also it has pockets.

 

Tenterhook Patterns “Jacaranda dress” –  in a nutshell.

 

 

Changes made to pattern

  • Added width to waist.
  • Tapered half circle skirt from waist to hem to fit fabric width.

Pros:

  • Plus size.
  • Based on a D cup.
  • Two skirt options.

Cons:

  • I wish it had a sleeve variation.

 

Three tiaras

If you like my tiara you can get one like it on Fancy Lady Industries!

 

sewing

Project: Build Nick A Shirt.

2 January, 2015
Peter Lappin of Male Pattern Boldness modelling a purple patterned short sleeve shirt.

Peter of Male Pattern Boldness modelling a purple patterned short sleeve shirt.

I’ve got a plan. I’m going to make Nick some shirts. I solemnly swear to work through this plan until I figure out a great fitting pattern and sew up some fabulous shirts!

My major inspiration has been Peter Lappin of Male Pattern Boldness, a sewist of serious skill who combines fabrics like it’s no big deal, and writes with great humour of his sewing processes and observations. I recently went on a journey through his men’s shirts tag and came across a gingham/ floral shirt that set my brain on fire! I had to replicate this on Nick! The only problems being that I’ve never made a damned men’s shirt in my life, and patterns for short fat men are practically non-existent.

Peter’s purple gingham shirt features a small floral print at the collar and sleeve, as well as a double welt breast pocket.

A Burda men's shirt pattern, possibly an athletic fit?

A Burda men’s shirt pattern, possibly an athletic fit?

Technical drawing of Lekala's free men's shirt pattern.

Technical drawing of Lekala’s free men’s shirt pattern.

I bought Burda 3874 thinking that the size 60 would fit him, then I realised that men’s sizing does not indicate chest size like women’s pattern sizing does. I’d have to grade that pattern up 10 inches for the chest to fit. And by the time I did that, I’d have to correct any number of problems thrown up in the process.

Then I discovered Lekala #6026, a free shirt pattern from the pattern designer where you can plug your measurements into and theoretically get a great fitting pattern. (I bought a few other patterns at the same time as downloading this, I’ll get around to sewing them up one day!) I taped up the pdf print outs and compared the pieces to a casual short sleeve Bisley shirt Nick already owns and loves. I realised I may as well just take a pattern from the shirt he has. This is going to be harder than I thought: no pattern designer is prepared to design a shirt for a short fat man, so it’s going to be all down to me.

Terrifying.

Nick and I, but most importantly the Bisley shirt he is wearing.

Nick and I, but most importantly the Bisley shirt he is wearing.

 

My sketch of Nick's shirt along with the green gingham seersucker and floral fabric combination I plan to use.

My sketch of Nick’s shirt along with the green gingham seersucker and floral fabric combination I plan to use.

So here’s where I am. A sketch for a short sleeve shirt with cuffs and a button tab, as well as two double welt chest pockets, because why the hell not? I’ve sewn up a muslin of the pattern taken from the Bisley shirt and discovered that I’ll need to make the collar fit his neck as the RTW shirt does not (he wears it open). When I make a long sleeved dress shirt I want him to have a collar that fits him and doesn’t completely choke him like every shirt he’s ever had. I will also need to reduce the shoulder.

The top fabric is a beautiful large print in cotton/ linen, the bottom two are my gingham and floral combos.

The top fabric is a beautiful large print in cotton/ linen, the bottom two are my gingham and floral combos.

These are the fabrics I have picked out for Nick’s shirt project. I got the bottom gingham and florals from my work, explaining the project to my boss who is amazing at combining prints! I’m going to let these fabrics guide me, as well as my desire for Nick to have beautiful, fashionable, and well fitting shirts.