ever have one of those weeks?

Thursday 31 July 2008
So last weekend I had quite the plan to finish off a few things because I have reached that official stage of pregnancy where none of my pre pregnancy pants or skirts fit, and my tops are starting to look like teenage midriff baring style which is such a bad look. But things didn't work out that way of course.....

First up I wanted to finish a grey cotton jacket to match the vogue galaxy maternity-fied dress I made - all it needed was to sew the lining shell to the jacket shell, something I hadn't bothered doing for two weeks! So I finally sewed it, pressed the jacket and it looks really good, except that I sewed the lining sleeves on backwards! So that was left aside for a little unpicking action.

Next up I wanted to make two simple skirts with elastic waistbands the same as the black and white check skirt I made recently. But I had run out of stretch cotton elastene for the waistband, so I used some stretch rib I happened to have in the stash in just the right colours. All went well until I had worn them for a while to measure the hem when I realised the rib stretched ok, but did not recover and so they become way too big! More things to unpick....

All this was topped off by not being able to find my seam ripper - I turned my sewing room upside down trying to find it, creating lots of mess in the process but not finding it! So it was at this point that I backed away from the sewing machine to refind my mojo.

On Wednesday I went to Lincraft in the city which has a woeful range of fabric, and bought some more cotton elastene in black, and a new seam ripper in bright yellow - let's see if I lose this one. Of course later that night I found my old seam ripper, it had fallen down the back of the lounge, along with a few other miscellaneous objects....

So off came the stretch rib, on went a waistband made from cotton elastene and I have this:

A pencil skirt made from my usual pattern, with a centre back zipper and darts so that it fits really well at the back, and a stretch panel around the waist at the front where it's needed. It's made from the same material I made another skirt suit from ages ago (posted about here), so now I have another skirt suit to wear although the jacket doesn't button up anymore.....

Now onto those other disasters, I don't have time to create UFOs when sewing winter maternity patterns!

Thanks everyone for the compliments on the jacket on the last post - it has become a new staple in my wardrobe. As for the second button Jean asked about, I put the button on the inside because I made a button hole in each of the front pieces, and didn't actually notice it was supposed be two button holes on the one front piece until I was posting the line drawing on the previous blog! Ah well, it still works and that's how it's gonna stay!

p.s did everyone notice that this is BLUE and not grey or black? yes I am moving into some colour.....

Burda World of Fashion 3/08 Jacket 103

Monday 21 July 2008
Take that BWoF 3 dot pattern - I conquered you in one day! Well except for the tracing out, I always need a lie down after doing that and so I had traced off the pattern the evening before, but the cutting out and sewing was completed in a day (nearly the whole day though, good thing I don't have any kids yet!)

During my lovely three days of uninterrupted sewing, afternoon napping and newspaper reading in the sunshine that I indulged in last week instead of going to work, I managed to finish two jackets, two dresses and two skirts, save a bit of hand sewing for hems here and there. The one I am most proud of is a jacket I made from BWOF 3/08, jacket 103:

I made a straight size 38, only narrowing the shoulder width but making no other alterations and it fits perfectly for the size I am now, and I think that when I get bigger I can move the buttons over to make it less of a double breasted jacket to a bit more a single breasted style to accommodate my growing belly. I made it from a very small black and white check fabric that I bought from Spotlight over 2 years ago on sale for $6 a metre, used some thrifted lining fabric and buttons, so all up I'd estimate this jacket cost me around $10. Here is a photo of me squinting into the sun, not my best angle I must say but I'll take whatever sunny spot is available for photos at the moment!

The jacket turned out wonderfully, even my notched collar is perfection if I do say so myself! I mostly ignored the BWOF instructions although I followed the collar instructions and amazingly understood them. I must be getting better at these I think! Oh the other change I made was to make the sleeves full length rather than 3/4 length, which is why the cuff is humungous. MaryJ you are so right about allowing extra length at the front to accommodate a growing bump - I have remembered to do this on the dresses and skirts I've made but didn't do it for this jacket, but hopefully it won't be too noticeable for when I get massive.

A small warning to anyone else contemplating this pattern - if I wasn't pregnant I would be a bit unhappy with the style because it certainly adds volume there in front which if you don't have a pregnant belly you may not want to highlight! But otherwise it is a lovely jacket, with two pleats across the back that line up with the princess seams of the back bodice.

I wore this to work today with some black pants that thankfully still fit - and by fit I mean stretch under my belly and also around my expanding rear end and thighs! Sadly I am growing in those areas too which is why I can't really wear that grey suit I posted about a few posts ago, it is definately time to lay off the chocolate bullets..... But the jacket landed me lots of compliments today, some from complete strangers which is a nice way to come back to work.

Vogue 8280: the maternity version of the galaxy dress

Friday 18 July 2008
I love the Vogue knockoff of the Roland Mouret 'galaxy' dress - I have made 2.5 versions so far. One is a grey glenplaid short sleeve version, the other is a black sleeveless version, and the o.5 version? Well that is a muslin intended to be wearable that I lost interest in and forged ahead with the final version! Anyway they all worked out, so no harm.

I thought it would be easy to adapt to a maternity version given that the bodice and skirt join at natural waistline, all I did was raise that join line to just under the side dart to create more of an empire line, added about 20cm extra width to the front and created box pleats instead of figure hugging darts. I mostly love the square neckline and unusual curved arm "flanges" (well that's what Vogue calls 'em), and my modifications kept those features whilst still allowing me to become a whale in it!

My version will probably horrify the likes of Victoria Beckham and the others who rocked the original version, given that it is designed to be a second skin and requires at least one layer of Spanx underneath to make it work but as a sewists we are at liberty to knock off and alter what we like, which is our revenge on overpriced designer wear I say....

I made this in a light grey cotton slub material, which has blue and orange threads running through it, so to highlight the subtle blue lines in it I used a thin blue ribbon as embellishment around the waist, arms and neckline.
Next up is a jacket to go with it that is half finished, and to hand sew the hem - after seeing this photo I realised the machine sewed hem looked terrible and I unpicked it. Sounds like something to do while watching the usual Friday night tv crap....

is this bright enough for you Ann?

Wednesday 16 July 2008
one of my work colleagues, Ann (hence the title) remarked to me the other day that all the things I had sewn lately were black or grey, or a combination of the two. Which is a very accurate observation which I think has come about because I have lots of grey and black fabrics in the stash, I am trying to build a wardrobe of basic pieces in neutral colours and also because when sewing maternity clothes there is a lot of fabric, so careful colour and print selection is required! Also it is winter here in Sydney, and I do tend to go for those sombre colours at this time of the year.

Anyway, it is quite boring (not that she said that of course) and I do have some colours and prints lined up for a few upcoming garments, but since I have grey thread in the overlocker at the moment I have a few more grey things to churn out. But I did whip up this very simple top over the weekend in a bright yellow lightweight wool fabric that I bought from an op-shop last year. The fabric is so lovely, it is light, soft and is a very cheery colour indeed! I used Simplicity 4589, and modified by lengthening the sleeves and the bodice, and adding extra fabric across the front. Instead of gathering the fabric across the bodice and sleeves, I made a row of little pleats which I think makes it look less casual but was still very simple to do.

Unfortunately it was an overcast day when I took this photo so the vibrancy of the yellow isn't apparent, but trust me it is bright! You can also see from the photo above that I added a thin black grosgrain ribbon across the front yoke to add a little embellishment. I'm not quite the master of embellishment as others are, like Caryoln over at diaryofasewingfanatic, but I'm learning!

To tone it down a little, I planned to wear it with this grey RTW suit but unfortunately I have grown out of this suit and I haven't done the waistband of the pants up, which is the why the top sticks out a little bit in the photo. I don't want to wear it with a black suit because I think it would resemble a bumble bee, so I guess I have to make something else grey to wear with it! Isn't that irony for you?

Happily I have taken the next three days off work so I could avoid the chaos in Sydney caused at the moment by all the Catholic youth of the world descending on the city for World Youth Day. St Mary's Cathedral, where the Pope will be finishing his motorcade and is the central focus of the celebrations is directly opposite my office and getting to work and around the city is becoming difficult due to the amount of people, street closures and barricades everywhere. Not that I have anything against young people celebrating their religion, but to understand the activity happening around my office just check out the blog of my aforementioned colleague Ann who has been taking some really great photos of it all.

So I hope to finish quite a few things in the next few days of uniterrupted sewing. Gotta make the most of the second trimester energy while it lasts I guess!

paper clip in hand, I'm forging ahead

Sunday 13 July 2008
ahh, what an amusing bunch of readers/posters I have garnered here on my little blog! I very much laughed out very loudly reading the comments on the last post, from peacockchic's comparison of me to macgyver (and she has a very funny post on her blog about that too), to the always amusing livebird. But the cake must go to anonymous, who referred to children as 'sex trophies' and shutting down her factory - please come back again and leave some more gems!

I did do some sewing last weekend, but didn't actually finish anything because I needed to swing by the sewing shop for some piping and ribbon for embellisment (which took a fair bit of searching to find just the right thing), plus a bit of hand sewing that was needed slowed things down (why is it that finishing the hems on something such a hard task?) But this weekend I did finish off a few things (no new UFOs of late, plenty of existing ones to finish though)

Anyway, Get Smart the movie was released here a few weeks ago, and there has been quite a bit in the newspapers and magazines about Ann Hathaway's style in the film as Agent 99. As much as I love 1950s fashion, I find 1960s style so much easier to wear: sleek shift dresses, trench coats, pencil skirts and shell tops etc. And then I saw a great looking woman in the city wearing a black and white houndstooth check skirt, with a black turtleneck and a slim fitting knee length wool coat in pure white, and she looked just amazing. So with all this in mind, I found some fabric from the stash that I had purchased from an op shop last year (? long enough ago to nearly be free, right Jean C?), and came up with this:

The pattern I used is Vogue 9615, an a-line skirt with a wide yoke waistband which I think is now OOP. Apart from making the waistband out of some stretch cotton knit fabric, no other alterations were needed for it to work as a maternity skirt. It came together really quick, the only stumbling block being that I had to go out and get some piping for the pocket, which by the way is an idea I stole from a gorgeous skirt I saw over on Bloom's Fabric Obsession. And I couldn't help myself but burden you all with a belly shot to show the waistband, you can also see that the stripes didn't quite match up properly at the side, but good enough for me! Also I need to pull the skirt up a bit at the front, or down a bit at the back 'cos it's certainly not very straight is it? Thank god for photos, because husband's never notice these things....

And since it has been rather cold here in Sydney at the moment, I wore a white jacket I made earlier this year from a vintage pattern to complete the mod look. The jacket is a little large on me, which is exactly what I need right now so I have high hopes for this jacket getting quite a workout with a number of different outfits in the coming months.

the great wardrobe de-clutter

Saturday 5 July 2008
Cleaning out one's wardrobe is something that should be done regularly, after all tastes change, body shapes change and us humans do have a tendency to acquire more and more things. I have a special reason to have a clean out: besides the fact that nothing more could fit in my wardrobe, nearly 75% of what I own no longer fits or shortly won't fit.

So I sorted my wardrobe into pregnancy and non-pregnancy friendly outfits, and at the same time managed to clean out three bags of clothes to take to the op-shop for them to continue their circle of life elsewhere. I also came across some clothes that I hadn't worn in quite some time, but were ripe for a re-fashion.

First up is a black and white pinstripe pants suit that I hadn't worn for a long time because it is starting to get shiny from wear in certain spots, but has a few more months life left in it. The jacket is a looser cut that will fit over my expanding belly with buttons un-done, so I decided to cut off the waistband in a lower v at the front, and replace it with a wide band made from a stretchy cotton knit that I can wear folded over under belly style, or pulled up if I'm wearing a shorter top.

And voila, I have a maternity pants suit that cost me nothing since I used stretch fabric from the stash, and in fact I salvaged the zipper and hook+eye from the pants, so I'm almost ahead!

Next along, I re-discovered this jacket I made over a year ago in a lovely wool/lycra mix fabric in black with a herringbone weave. I made it to wear with a dress I made from Vogue 8280 (the Roland Mouret galaxy dress knockoff), but the jacket turned out less than stellar so hasn't had much wear at all. The jacket is made from Vogue 8319, which in illustration is a lovely jacket, but mine turned out rather awkward, with the collar band sticking out and refusing to sit flat. I'm not on my own here, I read Shannon's frustration with the same issue on her version over on her blog.

Anyway, to fix it I moved the button positioning (I used snaps under a giant button) so that the collar band sat in a bit of a v-neck position at the front where they lapped over. This causes the neckline to sit flat against my chest, but the lower front panels jut open but since my belly will soon be poking out anyway I'm fine with that.

And I happened to have just enough of the same fabric left over to make a skirt, so I whipped one up from Vogue 2818, the maternity wardrobe pattern I made the dress from. This took me about an hour start to finish it's that simple, but it's also verrrrry fugly! It has a panel at the front which is designed to go over the belly, so it sits very high waisted, and for some reason there is heaps of width across the back, so the elastic waist gathers in an almost paperbag style. As far as I know I shouldn't develop a bump on my back as big as my front, so I don't see why so much room is required back there at the waist line.

But I did wear it to see if comfort would outweigh fugliness, because evenutally my belly will be so bif there will be no gathering at the waistline. However, I spent all day scrunching it down when I sat because it felt very uncomfortable across my waist, and pulling it up when I stood up to walk around. I now realise that over belly styles are not for me at all, so I cut a fair bit of the top of the skirt at both front and back, and replaced it with another wide waistband made from black stretch knit, again in a doubled over style. Much better!

And here it is, another maternity skirt suit that again cost me nothing except fabric from the stash and a bit of time to give new life to an existing garment.

Vintage cowl neck dress

Wednesday 2 July 2008
I've had this gorgeous cowl neck dress sitting in my pattern collection for quite some time, I've just never found the right fabric to make it with. Since it has an empire line and a generous cut skirt I thought it would be an ideal pattern to adapt for maternity wear.

It's a 1977 Style pattern, purchased by someone called Elma Elliott on 6/10/77. And since 1977 happens to be the year I was born, I thought it was karma for me to make it to wear whilst I'm waiting for my first to be born.

I made the red version in the middle of the pattern picture. The pattern is designed for woven fabrics, but since I used a lovely soft cotton jersey for it's stretchability I omitted the centre back zipper, and cut the front and back skirt panels on the fold. I also added a little extra fabric across the front for when my bump gets ginormous (I believe that is the correct medical term!).

I absolutely love the way it has turned out, although it looks very modern in the charcoal and black striped fabric I chose. I think I will make this again when I'm non pregnant in a nice wool crepe or cotton as suggested, because it's a flattering cut. It came together very easily, but as you can see from the close up photo the stripes in the very centre (the most obvious spot of course) didn't line up. I had pinned them in the correct spot but when sewing the fabric must have stretched or slipped. I supposed I should have basted them together, and I suppose I should pull it apart and fix it, but I know I won't....

Thanks for all your comments on the last post, and in fact all the posts recently - it's very heartening to get such positive feedback. fdw - thanks so much for your offer of 1960s mod maternity shift pattern, but in amongst my 600+ patterns I do already have something along those lines. And Carolyn, I totally agree with you - I plan on making as many clothes as possible, since I have the fabric, the patterns and the skills, so why not? People have said to me not to bother since it's only for a few months, but I figure I'll spend the next year post baby in casual stay at home clothes, and then the next many years after that wearing clothes with baby vomit on, so I view this as my last hurrah for a while to be stylish (and clean!). So stay tuned for much more