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sewing

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

Sewing for beginners. The start of a beautiful journey.

10 November, 2014

Sewing for beginners

“I wish I could learn to sew just like you!” and “Make me one of those!” are the most common responses when I show people things I’ve made. Sewing isn’t a mystical gift, you too can learn if you have the desire to do so! I’ve put together a resource pack for beginner sewers because while the internet is brimming with information, the trick is knowing where to begin, and what to look for.

Meet your machine - this is the anatomy of a sewing machine.

Meet your machine – this is the anatomy of a sewing machine.

How do I use a sewing machine?

  • Read the manual! If you bought the machine second hand, google the brand and make, people often upload scans of manuals.
  • Sewing Machine 101 – walks you through setting up your machine for the first time (or maybe even the tenth time, it takes a while to get the hang of it somehow!)
  • Learn to Sew – Tilly and the Buttons has written a lot of great posts on learning skills and trouble shooting problems. Go ahead and bookmark it – I promise you will need it!

How do I use a sewing pattern?

Sew a better garment.

Some free sewing projects for you to try.

My very messy/ productive sewing corner. Featuring my new dress form!

My very messy/ productive sewing corner. Featuring my new dress form! The machines on my desk were my grandmother’s: a Pfaff and a Bernina overlocker that are over 20 years old. I also have a newer Husqvarna that I managed to break within a year.

My top tips for beginner sewists:

  • Buy as good a machine as you can afford. Don’t be afraid of vintage machines, in fact the heavy metal sewing machines are likely more durable than the new plastic ones going for the same price.
  • Get your sewing machine serviced regularly.
  • Read the manual. I still refer to my manuals, especially for my overlocker.
  • Buy nice sewing shears. Don’t let anyone else use your shears, and don’t use them on anything except for fabric.
  • Use nice thread. Cheap thread is ok on my newer Husqvarna but my Pfaff can’t deal with it.
  • Change your needle for every 8 hours of sewing time. Use the correct needle for your fabric weight. Buy German made needles.
  • Your size in sewing patterns may not be the same as your size in ready-to-wear garments. Often it is bigger. Don’t be afraid, get out a tape measure and cut your correct size.
  • Read the instructions! So many people skip this step and when you’re starting out it may seem like a bummer but many commercial sewing patterns contain a lot of valuable instruction. You paid for the instructions, don’t just chuck them out!
  • Trace your size from the original pattern. Use tracing paper or some lightweight non-fusible interfacing. This way you can keep the multi-size pattern and run up different sizes for yourself or your friends.
  • Sew up a trial version of your garment in cheap fabric. This is called a muslin or a toile, and it’s a worthwhile endeavour if you don’t want to spoil your nice material. You can use it to alter your pattern so it fits better – just transfer the nips and tucks to your paper pattern.
  • Take the time to finish the seams in your garments nicely. Press and baste if needed. A little extra effort leads to a  better result you will be proud to wear.
  • Shop at a local fabric store with knowledgeable staff, rather than a chain store with non-sewing staff. Advice is only a question away!

Resources for plus size sewing

A huge list of plus size independent pattern designer links for plus sizes.

The Curvy Sewing Collective also has a list of patterns that offer plus sizes.

Follow Natalie’s board Plus size sewing on Pinterest.

My Pinterest board for Plus Size Sewing collects more and more links every day!

Fashion, sewing

The saga of self drafted pants.

8 November, 2014
My little avatar dreams of comfy elastic waist pegged pants with pockets. It's not too much to ask for, right?

My little avatar dreams of comfy elastic waist pegged pants with pockets. It’s not too much to ask for, right?

I have wanted some ankle length pegged/ tapered elastic waist pants with slashed pockets for ages, and I thought I might try to cobble together a pattern out of a pair of capri pants included in a McCall’s pattern I bought years ago.

Some tunics, a sundress and basic elastic shorts.

Some tunics, a sun-dress and basic elastic shorts.

So the original pattern had a tunic, a dress, and shorts; I thought the pants would work as a starting point since I couldn’t find any patterns in the books at work. I’d just peg the legs and add some pockets. Easy. Oh how foolish I was. I altered the pattern by adding a waistband casing for the elastic, since the original pattern only had a fold over elastic waist; I also added my pockets and took in the legs. Why not a fitted waist with a fly? Elastic is comfortable, and with a big tummy and no waist, regular waistbands fall down on me!

A very unattractive illustration of my first two muslins. The top two is the first attempt, and the bottom two is the second attempt.

A very unattractive illustration of my first two muslins. The top two is the first attempt, and the bottom two is the second attempt.

The first muslin allowed me to identify that the crotch depth needed shortening, the front and back crotch curves needed lengthening and I added in a full butt and full tummy adjustment. I also narrowed the legs as they were far too baggy and added a bit more to the hips.

The second muslin revealed the calves were far too tight, and the front pant piece needed to be bigger, and the back narrower. I thought I’d put more length on the front crotch curve too. Some of the drag lines I had no idea how to fix so I thought I’d just go ahead and make up my “good” pants in some lovely black cotton sateen I bought from work, and let the 3% elastane sort out a few things.

 

The lens flares disguise the many issues with these pants!

The lens flares disguise the many issues with these pants!

Here I model my new black pants. The cotton sateen unfortunately highlights all the fit issues! I'm wearing them with my purple GreenStyle Creations raglan top.

Here I model my new black pants. The cotton sateen unfortunately highlights all the fit issues! I’m wearing them with my purple GreenStyle Creations raglan top.

The back view shows that some of my fit problems are gone, but I have knee lines!

The back view shows that some of my fit problems are gone, but I have knee lines!

Right from the beginning, as I was cutting out the pants I realised that the sheen of the sateen would highlight every fitting issue. It’s probably a great fabric for more tight fitting pants, but alas I do not know how to draft them.

I am thinking of joining the Australian Sewing Guild, mostly to seek fitting advice! It’d be fantastic to be privy to the expertise of life long pattern drafters and sewists. Just think, I can walk in wearing these pants and walk out possibly possessing the knowledge to build a better pair! The internet is amazing for learning so many things, but to be able to pick the brain of a skilled person who is sitting right in front of you is invaluable.

Nick was very insistent I stand powerfully in the middle of the driveway with my big shadow behind me! Unfortunately I couldn't help giggling.

Nick was very insistent I stand powerfully in the middle of the driveway with my big shadow behind me! Unfortunately I couldn’t help giggling.

For now I am happy to wear these pants to work, as I’d intended. Usually I wear my tops untucked, but did a little tuck for these photos.  Unfortunately the sun was blaring, my eyes were watering, and onlookers were looking while we took these photos so I’m a bit self conscious!

Our gardenias are already blooming, and they smell fantastic.

Our gardenias are already blooming, and they smell incredible.

sewing

What do a whale, a deer, an elephant, and a dachshund have in common?

31 October, 2014

…They all live in a forest on my new t-shirt.

The model wears this grey raglan tee with contrasting yellow sleeves and neck binding.

The model wears this grey-striped raglan tee with contrasting yellow sleeves and neck binding.

I came upon GreenStyle Creations Centerfield Raglan T-shirt on pinterest the other night and couldn’t get it out of my head. I had a cute as hell printed cotton knit I wanted to sew up immediately if not sooner and it was the perfect fit for this raglan sleeve tee.

My first version of the Centerfield uses this ridiculously twee animals-in-the-forest print fabric with white sleeves, binding, and breast pocket.

My first version of the Centerfield uses this ridiculously twee animals-in-the-forest print fabric with white sleeves, binding, and breast pocket. I opted for the curved hem variation on this t-shirt.

I cut the 2XL off the pattern and I didn’t make any alterations beside dropping the short sleeve length to hit just above my elbow, and adding a tiny useless but adorable pocket. To be honest, I didn’t even read the instructions… it’s a straight-forward process for those who’ve sewn with knits; this tee took less than an hour to run up using my overlocker, and a twin needle on the sewing machine for hems. The results are delightful, obviously.

The back view.

The back view.

Check out this cute pocket! Why is there a whale in the forest, hanging out with deers, elephants and a dachshund?

Check out this cute pocket! Why is there a whale in the forest, hanging out with deers, elephants and a dachshund?

An hour later I was craving a second version but my stash was almost completely out of knit fabrics. I used this purple polyester slinky knit… I have no idea what it’s properly called but it has a slight texture; I also pulled out the very last skerrick of pink paisley mesh. The mesh is difficult to work with and I could have done a rolled overlocker hem but I don’t have matching cotton. I did a little band to finish it off because it looked a bit crappy unhemmed.

My purple version of the Centerfield features mesh sleeves. I cut a straight hem a little shorter than the pattern due to fabric shortage.

My purple version of the Centerfield features mesh sleeves. I cut a straight hem a little shorter than the pattern due to fabric shortage.

The back view.

The back view.

 

GreenStyle Creations “Centerfield Raglan T-shirt” –  in a nutshell.

 

Changes made to pattern

  • Added pocket, and dropped short sleeve length on print tee.
  • Added a banded sleeve hem on purple tee.

Pros:

  • Huge size range!
  • Great length.
  • Curved or straight hem options.
  • Sleeve length options.
  • A quick sew.
  • Will make again, over and over.

Cons:

  • It’s killing me every time I have to write center instead of centre!

 

sewing

Everyday Elegance.

29 October, 2014

I recently got a job in my favourite local fabric store which has driven me into a frenzy of inspiration but, lacking the time, I haven’t actually sewn much. This week I’m in enforced isolation due to having radioactive iodine therapy for my Graves disease, and what better time than to indulge in a bit of sewing?

Almost sensing the imminent storm of activity, my Pfaff decided to make a lot of noise so I had to put it in for a service (conveniently, my work can send machines away for service and repairs!) I almost threw a tantrum my niece would be proud of, but my mum stepped in to loan me her machine!

I’ve certainly been working it hard over the last few days running up muslins for a couple of blouse patterns bought from indie designers. The first two are from SBCC and I’m still working on them, however I can show off the third blouse, the Everyday Elegance Top, from Patterns For Pirates.

A comfortably fitting top with 3/4 sleeves and button tab, v neck and rounded collar.

A comfortably fitting top with 3/4 sleeves and button tab, v neck and rounded collar.

The xxxl size was actually two sizes too small for me, but I bought the pattern anyway and after printing and piecing it together I graded it up two sizes and did a full bust adjustment. The first version of this blouse I made in a vivid pink polyester print I bought years ago. I eked the back piece out of what was left by not cutting on the fold; fortunately the print is the same  left to right and up and down!

Front view.

My pink floral polyester Everyday Elegance blouse.

Back view.

I noted immediately upon putting it on that polyester is slightly gross to wear in Brisbane’s humidity. So this top will be worn in winter – the two week period we get here in this town to wear our long sleeves! The elbow room was also a bit mean considering the button tab restricts some movement so I added a little width to my pattern for the next version. I also planned to construct the collar and v neck a little differently to hide the messy bit of overlocking that pokes out when the collar is attached over the v neck binding.  Speaking of.. my v neck binding is terrible.

I model this white cotton Everyday Elegance shirt competently with hand on hip!

From the back. The fold above my butt probably signifies a fit issue… I will consult my copy of Fit for Real People!

Close up of my atrocious v neck binding. The collar was a beast!

For this version of the pattern I used a cotton shirting with a self stripe from the fabric stash my late grandmother gave me. She probably bought it intending to make a shirt for my grandfather! I top-stitched every seam because it just felt like I should. The cotton is beautiful to wear, and I will be test driving it at work on Saturday. There’s no air conditioning in the shop and if the current weather keeps up we’ll have a fair challenge for this here blouse.

I completely stuffed up the collar construction by sewing in the interfacing in the wrong order, and I only realised after I’d clipped the seam allowance. Halfway through unpicking it I realised it’d be easier to just cut a new collar. When I got to the sleeves I realised I’d cut two right sleeves due to laying out the pieces to avoid a flaw in the fabric. The self stripe looks different either side and I wanted to make sure the whole garment was made with the same stripe so I went back and cut a new left sleeve because growing an extra right arm is slightly beyond my capabilities…

Front view of the white cotton blouse as modelled by my brick wall.

Back view.

Despite my slightly wonky collar and annoyingly wrinkled hem I’m proud of this shirt! I haven’t made one in a very long time, and I wanted to make sure I finished it nicely enough to wear to work. Even though it has some flaws, it’s nice to be able to wear things I’ve made at my job in a fabric store!

 

My handmade ice cream shoes!

OH! I wanted to show off my nearly finished self made ice cream shoes! I just have to varnish them to protect the acrylic paint. I bought a pair of cheap wide fitting flats from Yours Clothing that were a patent cream vinyl; after spraying with adhesive I just painted straight on to them and chucked some bugle beads on the toes for sprinkles! I have no idea if they’ll hold up to even casual wearing but they’re cute as heck.

 

Patterns for Pirates “Everyday Elegance Top” – in a nutshell.

 

Changes made to pattern:

  • Graded up two sizes.
  • Full bust adjustment.
  • Deepened v neck.
  • Added width to sleeve at elbow length.
  • Dropped armscye front and back, didn’t alter sleeve as it has gathers.
  • Turned and top-stitched v neck binding after collar was attached.

Cons

  • Sizing doesn’t go up high enough.
  • The collar is a bit fiddly.
  • Instructions could be clearer.

Pros

  • Nice casual shirt that transforms based on fabric choice.
  • Will be making it again.
sewing

Sweetheart floral dress.

1 April, 2013

I pose fresh as a country daisy in my hand made dress with a pointy pitchfork in one hand and an evil/ sassy glint in my eye.

I pose fresh as a country daisy in my hand made dress with a pointy pitchfork in one hand and an evil/ sassy glint in my eye.


Welcome to my sheet dress! Mum gave me this old floral sheet the other week and I was surprised at how heavy it was; I’ve never had the pleasure of sleeping on sheets of such quality! I pretty much never wear light coloured clothing so I’m baffled as to why I was so enthusiastic about using this sheet for the second of my self drafted day dresses, but I’m actually quite pleased with it.

Modeling my cream floral dress with sweetheart neckline, scalloped sleeves, french curved darts, scalloped pockets and a-line skirt.

Modeling my cream floral dress with sweetheart neckline, scalloped sleeves, french curved darts, scalloped pockets and a-line skirt.


Cute scallop sleeve!

Cute scallop sleeve!


I'm professionally modeling this pocket with a scalloped detail.

I’m professionally modeling this pocket with a scalloped detail.

I used the same skirt pattern as the spotty dress and added a few cute scalloped details on the sleeve and pocket. Pop over here to this tutorial on scalloped hems and you’ll get the gist of it. Once you can do scallops you can do a few different shapes and you’ll never have a boring hem again.

The back neckline closure features a heart button and loop.

The back neckline closure features a heart button and loop.

I had been wearing this dress all day when these photos were taken, so do excuse the creases. Next time I need to be sure to reduce the neckline gaping because I always forget about it until it’s too late. Nonetheless, it’s a very comfortable dress to wear around the house and I’m pretty chuffed.

Fashion, sewing

Self-drafted spotty-dotty-stripy-pocket dress.

27 March, 2013

The rough sketch for the dress featuring wide gathered straps and wrap around pockets; and the front and back bodice as well as sleeve slopers on my patterned rug.

The rough sketch for the dress featuring wide gathered straps and wrap around pockets; and the front and back bodice as well as sleeve slopers on my patterned rug.


I’ve wanted to draft my own properly fitting sloper for a long time, and over the last five years I had a couple of good attempts but was always foiled by formulas that completely collapsed when you used larger measurements. Lots of people seem to use this bodice block method by gedwoods on BurdaStyle but I’ve tried it and a number of others like it and it always ended with a mighty weird looking block. My fat body seemed to explode every damn sloper method it came across.

Upon tracking down this front and back sloper method on madalynne.com I knew within ten minutes that I was on a winner! It took me a couple of hours to plot out all my measurements, then a further few days sewing up about five different muslins in order to tweak the fit (using Fit For Real People); but when I tried on that last muslin I broke out into fits of Elaine Benes-grade joyful dancing!

Inspired by this Modcloth dress, I came up with a design to suit me. The neckline and the wide straps could stay, but the gathered waist was banished in favour of an a-line skirt. I wanted to include pockets but felt like I could do better than simple patch pockets for this dress. One morning a copy of Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear mysteriously turned up at my place (thank YOU Poliana!) and after ecstatically thumbing the pages I came across some rad side pockets that wrapped around to the back skirt. Yep! Let’s do that!

Modelling my new handmade dress in navy polka dots with striped pocket lining at the hips.

Modelling my new handmade dress in navy polka dots with striped pocket lining at the hips.

The back of my polka dot dress.

The back of my polka dot dress.


For those who’ve experienced the joys and frustrations of the design process, we know that design outcomes very rarely turn out just exactly as they are conceived. It’s not actually a terrible thing, and often you can trip across beautiful solutions to the little problems that are posed across the process. It turned out that I didn’t have enough polka dot fabric to execute the pockets as planned, but I did find a navy striped material that would provide a smashing contrast at the hips.

I will be tweaking this pattern slightly – I will narrow the width of the neckline because the straps are set just a little too wide. I also need to remove a little fabric from the back bodice height because of my sway back. I could stand to bring in the waist a little but I’d rather be comfortable – this is a day dress just for wearing at home and doing little errands. It’s fully cotton and the bodice is lined (with the striped fabric!) so after a few washes I expect it to be soft and very easy to wear.

Hands on hips, looking very pleased with myself!

Hands on hips, looking very pleased with myself!


Pattern drafting is a skill I’ve long been mystified and entranced by. Taking the human body, a very complex set of bumps and curves, and mapping it in two dimensions is very cool to me. I love drawing, bringing lines and shapes together to make meaning, and pattern drafting is an extension of that. That I can take lines and shapes, transfer them to flat bits of fabric, then transform that flat fabric to garments that envelop my body and accompany me through periods of my life… it’s just a very profound thing to me.

And that’s the story of my spotty-dotty-stripy-pocket dress.
The End.

Garden, House

Twig by twig nesting.

6 December, 2012

My living room with a new coat of duck egg blue paint, two big beige chairs and the tv stand.


All the years I rented, not having much control over my space or the power to improve it even when it verged on unlivable, I thought buying my own home would be amazing. I was going to paint every wall a different colour and put up pictures! I’d knock out walls, re-tile the bathroom, install ridiculous tap-ware, and make the entire floor of the bedroom a mattress with draped fabric dripping from every corner. After the contract on the house settled and I saw how much money was left at the end of every fortnight I realised my absurd and fanciful home improvement dreams were going to have to wait. Now I’m trying to insert my whimsies in whatever budgetary cracks I can find, and while my beautiful swan-like domicile will unfurl its many coloured wings much slower than I’d have liked, I think it’s actually going to prolong the fun.

In the last week we’ve made significant headway in the living room thanks to Nick playing furniture tetris and finding a much more pleasant way of configuring the bulky lounge suite we bought so cheaply before we moved in. The living and kitchen areas are my problem zones due to the overuse of grey. 50 Shades of Kill-Me-I’m-Living-In-A-Rental-Again Grey. Grey carpet, grey curtains, grey tiles, grey cabinetry, grey counter tops. The sand beige lounge suite pushed me over the edge into blandtopia so I was pretty excited about the offer of leftover paint from my Mum, who tastefully chose a duck egg blue for her sewing room. I know it’s a bit out of “fashion” in blog land, everyone was all about duck egg blue in 2008 and I have no idea what they’re all about now but I still love it.

My colour block cushions in pink, yellow, aqua and red.

Last night I got out all my fabric including a bunch of scraps from my Granma’s stash and set to work salvaging all the best bits of the brightest colours and sewed it into four new cushions. I wasn’t intending on doing a colour block/ triangle thing but that’s what happened.

Our tiny giftmas tree with papercraft gems and rock salt lamp.

Earlier this week I permitted a small tree during this time of Giftmas, a time of the year so unbearable in temperature and jolliness that I reject reality for several months. This year I thought I’d ease up on the Scrooginess for Nick’s sake because he loves Christmas and he ought to be rewarded for tolerating my cantankerous nature for seven years. The paper craft gems are from Mini Eco; I will interrupt my crotchety lady times for a bit of gratuitous paper craft any time of the year. I’m still waiting on Kanye West to respond to my crafternoon invitations, I suspect he’d enjoy paper craft.

Our courtyard garden with flamingo populated turf.


I can’t help but shelve my angry pants when I go out to our courtyard. The lawn flamingos are a recent addition and are actually guarding the most burnt patches of grass, thanks to the potency of Miffy’s pee. (I know there are things you can add to dog water to alleviate the burnt grass issue but I haven’t bought any, and to be frank it’s not that distressing.) The cuttings I took from Mum’s place are mostly doing well – the daisies and geraniums are loving it, and the polka dot plant will probably flourish anywhere because all it wants to do is propagate all over earth.

Purple daisies blooming.


Super close up on the pink geranium.

Things that don’t grow so well in my garden: chives, pansies, pink begonias and poppies. So far we’ve enjoyed eating home grown beetroot, basil, shallots and marjoram. I’m currently growing rocket and mignonette lettuce, purple beans, tomatoes and kale. I don’t hold high hopes for the tomato and kale because spring melted into a heat wave and many of my seedlings have carked it. Growing plants is very experimental at the moment but it’s rewarding and offers me a space for meditation.

The proposed grey chevron along the long wall of our living room vs the current bare wall.


Come back inside and sit down while you listen to my grand plans for the rest of the living room! One thing I definitely know is blog-cool is chevrons and I don’t want to be that person, but I didn’t know it was cool until I started googling chevron textiles for the bedroom. I want to paint a pretty thick grey chevron pattern down the long wall of the living room that extends into the hall way, and on that wall I will hang an assortment of pictures. The blue wall is currently empty because it’s waiting for me to save up for some white floating shelves!

So that’s what we’re up to at the Perkhaus as 2012 winds down. It’s been a year of unexpected things, some good, some challenging and some pretty shit. I am very fortunate to have our little unit though, and look forward to putting it together piece by piece.