Tuesday 28 September 2010
I had all the pattern pieces of the Burda jacket (from two posts ago) all pinned out on some white wool fabric ready to make version 2.0. But now we are having some marvellously warm and sunny spring weather, which made me realise that I should be sewing with some summer weight cottons, not winter woollens, and I unpinned the pattern and started searching through the stash for an alternative. Just wish I had realised this before I pinned out all the pieces....

I did stumble across a little dress I cut out for Anna ages ago, before I started on the black dress that didn't win, but didn't sew it because I had black thread in the overlocker. Since it's made of brushed cotton, and Anna is growing so fast I thought I had better get cracking and finish it. I didn't want this to become my first UFO of this year. Yes, that's right! So far this year I haven't created any UFOs (but I am conveniently ignoring the big box of UFOs from years gone by).

I used McCalls 5916, which even though it is sized for infants (newborn, small, medium and large) it fits Anna just fine with a bit of extra length. I'm increasingly realising that fitting and pattern adjusting is just as important for little kids clothes as it is for adults - just harder because the little monkeys won't stand still! Anyway, I used the pattern with the cute little cap sleeve, but left off the trim and skirt ruffle:

And once again it only took about an hour to make this dress but several attempts over the course of a day to get a decent photo of Anna wearing it. When I first put it on her she said "ooooh" and then ran over to her mirror to look at herself which was cute, but she still wouldn't stand up straight and smile for the camera.

I got lots of photos of her running away from me, her little legs can move fast these days!

For anyone else contemplating making this pattern, do a flat pattern measurement against the measurements of the child you're going to sew for to make sure it doesn't come out too big. And ignore the instructions on how to sew on the facing - it does that annoying thing all the pattern companies do and want you to sew the facings to the neckline and armholes, then sew the shoulder seams and hand stitch it shut. Much better to follow this tutorial by Trina over at The Slapdash Sewist to get a much cleaner finish to the neckline.

Thanks everyone for sharing your pattern tracing supplies with me - it seems my own research was a little slapdash! But now I have more options that I will look into next time I need some paper.

Well I have some exciting plans for the weekend, for a change. It's my 5th wedding anniversary and my parents have kindly offered to babysit Anna for the whole night! Yippee, we're off on a romantic weekend away! Although to be honest I'm looking forward to having an uninterrupted sleep, a sleep in and a quiet breakfast more than anything.... Too bad the football grandfinals are on this weekend too, and my husband is a mad Dragons supporter so we will be watching it sigh

tracing paper supplies in Sydney

Wednesday 22 September 2010
Someone asked me in comments ages ago what I use to trace out the Burda magazine patterns - so if that was you this post is especially for you! I used to use a roll of brown paper I bought from Officeworks because that was super cheap and the paper was a suitable thickness (although not see through), and when that ran out a few weeks ago I tried the roll of white paper from the kids section in Ikea. Well that was way too thick to be useful, so I finally caved in and paid the money for proper tracing paper.

Now some clever people suggested getting hold of the roll of paper that doctors use on their examination tables (it's called barrier bench rolls), and while that was cheaper all the websites I found only served wholesale customers or charged exorbitant handling fees to retail customers.

I found a few on-line suppliers that had good prices (eg http://www.jovian.com.au/) but with postage there was no savings there. I also checked out the student supplies store on campus out at the University of NSW but unless you're a student there was no significant price discount. So, after all that research I found the best price at Eckersley's art supply store in the city: $36 for 46m roll at 46cm wide or $47 for a 46m roll at 61cm. They also sell big sheets of 'butter paper' for only 45c each that would also be suitable for pattern tracing. Plus if you sign up for their newsletter you get 10% off your next purchase.

Sorry this post is so unhelpful to non-Sydneysiders, but hopefully it will be of use to whoever asked me!

And in other sorry news, my black dress wasn't selected to be a finalist in the Tessuti Awards. No surprise really, because the eight that were selected were very impressive and in fact alot of the entries were really fantastic. This entry by Jane Gelder is my favourite:

Whilst I still love my dress, I think it was a bit simple and plain (which reflects my personal style) compared to the others especially those done by the fashion college students. Anyway I still came out a winner because I finally conquered that pattern and have now got a usable pattern for myself to make another dress in the near future.

Thanks for all your lovely comments on the jacket - I love it too so I'm glad it struck a chord with you all. In fact I like it so much I'm in the process of making another one in lightweight white wool, hopefully I can get it done as quick as the other even without a motivating deadline!

P.S favourite 'punny' blog title for today: All Toile and No Reward -that's how I feel about making fitting toiles......

3 dot Burda conquered in less than a week!

Sunday 19 September 2010
The husband and I had a night out with some friends on Saturday night, sans children. Dinner, drinks and adult conversation - boy was I excited about this night out because for us they are few and far between. In fact this is only the second time we've been out together without Anna since she was born 20 months ago! So I decided that I needed something new to wear: enter Burda 2008-09, jacket 129
It's a fairly simple shawl collared jacket, made up in the magazine in a bland beige colour which is why I overlooked it for all this time. But this photo I spied recently in the fashion section of the weekend newspaper was my inspiration:

This is actually a $968 white blazer with a $495 black lace short sleeved blouse layered over it, with the sleeves of the blazer casually but stylishly scrunched up. Now, I can't do those weird layering combinations without looking, well, weird, and my sleeves would never stay so perfectly pushed up. And so this is my version:

I used a coffee coloured cotton sateen from the stash for the base layer, and a black cotton lace for the upper layer that was sort of from the stash. What I mean by 'sort of' is that I had some black polyester type lace in a traditional flower pattern in the stash that I was (finally) going to use, having been gifted it and not likely to use since it's not my style. But when I was in Spotlight buying some thread and lining, I spied this cotton lace with a circle pattern that I liked better, and it was on sale and there you go: my intention was to use stash material but the reality didn't quite make it!

To make it I just treated the cotton sateen as underlining to the lace, stitching the two layers together for each pattern piece and then making the jacket up as per usual. I left the lace layer off the collar piece and made the pocket welts from the cotton sateen as well to make them stand out. I made a bound buttonhole too, but it's in black so you can barely see it at all - hardly worth the trouble but it does look better than a machine buttonhole I have to admit.

I started this last Monday night and finished it Saturday lunchtime, working on it for about 9 hours all up including tracing the pattern, cutting out and sewing up. Gotta love those shawl collar jackets - they are much simpler and quicker to make than a notched collar jacket. Plus this has raglan sleeves so there is no setting in of those pesky sleeve caps. It also helped that I didn't really look at the Burda instructions at all except for how to figure out how the fiddly neck facing is attached to the collar facing, and so I didn't waste precious time trying to decipher what passes for their sewing instructions.

I also followed this tutorial over at Threads on how to do a bagged lining. I find this one much simpler to understand than any of the sewing books I have, although they lost me completely on how to do the sleeve hems so I did that by hand.

And this is how I wore it out on Saturday night, paired with shiny heels and a black Vogue 8280 (the Roland Mouret galaxy dress knock off) that I made some time ago:

I was a bit overdressed compared to my dining companions, but I don' t often have the chance to get all dressed up so when I do I grab it with both hands!

Sew easy

Tuesday 14 September 2010
I love all those blog names that use 'sew' as a pun in their title, it makes me wish I'd thought of something witty to name this blog rather than the clunky and too long name I went with. Some of my favourites include Sew Darn Tired (hello! that is sew me LOL), Going Sew Crazy and Sew Take a Hike.

Anyway my point here is that in the aftermath of The Dress, I cleaned up my sewing room and then was at a bit of a loss as to what to sew next. I have a loooong list of things I want to sew, but I was feeling a bit wiped out after the effort it took to make that black dress so I needed something easy to get my mojo back. A palate cleanser of sorts. So I whipped up a quick skirt and a pair of pants for Anna, since she has grown so much in the last few weeks that she actually needs some clothes, and plus kids clothes are quick and easy (and cute).

For the skirt I didn't use a pattern - I happened to have a rectangular piece of brushed cotton in the stash that was leftover from another project and was the right length for Anna. All I needed to do was sew a side seam to create a tube, sew a hem, turn down the top and sew a casement for elastic and add some ric-rac and a measure for good measure. And about 30 minutes later I had this:

In fact it took longer to take a photo of Anna wearing this skirt than it did to sew it - she wouldn't stand still or pose at all, which is why you can see her dad's hand holding her still!

As for the pants, I actually used a baby pattern and just added extra length because I knew these pants were super baggy and Anna is a skinny beanpole anyway. I used an OOP Simplicity which I've made previously when she was just a little baby with no hair, and the pants were so baggy on her that they were absolutely hilarious! Look at how little she used to be (she's about 6 months old here):

These pants are super simple. Two pattern pieces, a folded over top for the elastic waistband and I added elastic to the hems and a decorative ribbon at the waist just to look cute.

Again, this took me about 30 minutes to cut out and sew, and since the fabric and elastic from the stash this is a great cheapy project for a little girl that is growing out of clothes faster than I care to shop for them! And again she wouldn't stand still for a photo, so you can see me holding her still this time!

So now I think I'm ready for my next project: a 3 dot Burda shawl collar jacket. And to make it more challenging I want to finish it in the next four days so I can wear it on Saturday night. Hmmm, we shall see.............

What would help with sewing those pesky Burda patterns is a fantastic sewing book like this:

which Denise over at the Blue Gardenia just happens to be giving away at her blog at the moment. Head over to this post and leave a comment on the series she's been doing on peoples sewing spaces by 12.01am PDT Thursday to be in the running to win it!

easy DIY custom clothing labels

Monday 6 September 2010
Thanks for all the lovely comments on The Dress - if everyone loves it as much as you guys do that fabric prize will be mine! I'm already mentally picturing what I'll buy, nothing like a bit of positive thinking.

I did forget to show you all one detail though - I made some custom labels to sew in to the dress since this one will be going off to live in someone else's wardrobe. Actually I've been meaning to order some labels for a long time, since I saw the simple but stylish labels that Lindsay T had made. But like a lot of things, I left it too late to order them in time for this dress, so I came up with a quick and easy DIY option:

I also used a decorative stitch from my machine along the seam where the facing and lining meet - it looks all puckered in this photo but it looks quite nice in real life. I never usually bother with making the inside as pretty as the outside of a garment, but maybe I should because it looks so much more professional and "finished", even if I'm going to be the only one that can see it.

These labels turned out really well, and I made 48 of them so this will be a suitable interim measure until I decide on a design to get made. These were so easy, and cost at most $5 to make so I'd thought I share how I made them with you all in case you want to do something similar.

1. Gather your supplies:

  • Ribbon - I used white satin 25mm wide ribbon, but you could use narrower if you wanted smaller labels. You can also used coloured ribbon, just buy the right transfer paper.
  • T-shirt transfer paper - you can buy these from any office stationery supply store
  • An inkjet or bubblejet printer (NOT a laser printer, the paper will stick to the drums and stuff up your printer. Trust me, I know this.)
2. Design your labels

I used Microsoft Publisher to create text boxes with my name in the French Script font that comes with the program, and put a dashed line around the box that looks like a sewing stitch. You could do a simple text only in Microsoft Word or similar word processing program, or get even fancier by downloading special fonts and graphics if you like, or use a specific label maker program. Go wild, the options are endless.

Because t-shirt transfer paper is fairly pricey, I crammed as many text boxes onto the page as I could, like thus:
3. Print out your labels

Because of the way you iron the labels face down, your text needs to be mirror reversed. If you're lucky, when you go to print you get an option to select t-shirt transfer paper as the paper option and it will print out the labels mirrored reverse automatically for you. Brilliant! I only discovered this after spending almost an hour trying to figure out how to mirror reverse text (to do that you need to save the text as an image and then you can rotate it).

4. Cut out your labels

Cut around each little label using your paper scissors (not your fabric scissors for heaven's sake!), so you end up with little rectangles.

5. Iron your labels onto the ribbon

Follow the directions for the particular paper you've bought, but all I had to do was iron the paper onto the ribbon using a very hot iron on a hard surface and 10 seconds later it was well and truly stuck down.

And you're all done, told you it was easy!

I left mine on the ribbon roll because otherwise I would probably lose them, and all I did was cut a label off the ribbon roll, tuck the raw ends under and sew it onto the facing of my dress.

I've seen some interesting tutorials recently on how to screen print labels, stamp labels or use a printable fabric, but the iron on transfer method is the easiest and quickest I think. Plus these stand up to multiple washes (just don't iron the surface of the label). And for a few dollars, if you don't like the look of your label you can easily do some more!

Note: these labels were made for my own personal use, if you intend to sell your made pieces check what other labels you legally need such as fibre composition, country of origin and sizing etc.

please vote for me!

Sunday 5 September 2010
Yay, I finally have my entry uploaded to the Tessuti Awards competition. Now I want everyone to go and vote for me HERE, and get your sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, neighbours and co-workers to vote for me too! Ok, I was just kidding about that last bit, and really you should check out all the entries on the site and choose the best dress to vote for. But the prize for most voted dress is $500 fabric and you all know how much I need more fabric (yes seriously!)

Far out it's difficult to photograph a black dress and get enough detail without lightening the photo so much that it looks washed out. We had gale force winds here today, so I had to settle for indoor photos, and I hope my photos do the dress justice because it really does look beautiful in real life and fits my friend perfectly. It also helps that she is a gorgeous Italian with beautiful hair, and even though these photos were taken on a Sunday morning she still looks glamorous:

It's such a weight off my mind to have the dress finished and entered. Even though I don't think I have any chance of winning the main prize since there are some amazing entries from fashion college students, I am happy with myself with for just finishing the dress and entering it. And I also conquered this pattern too, since it foiled me last time I tried to make it so I'm also very happy about that too!z

Now if only I can muster enough energy to make another version of this dress for myself, perhaps in the fuschia wool crepe I planned to make it previously......

black dress all finished!

Saturday 4 September 2010
The black dress I've been sewing to enter the Tessuti Awards is all done, and it turned out very nicely if I do say so myself! Now all I need is for my model to come around to take some photos - we had made a few times last week to meet up but for various reasons she couldn't make it. I've had a few dramas myself last week - both my husband and I got food poisoning from lunch last Saturday and were quite unwell for a few days and then I managed to cut the tips of a finger on both hands which makes sewing quite difficult with bandaged fingers!

Thanks for your suggestion Jean of doing a double layer for the drape to match the sleeves - I can't believe I didn't think to do that since I'm so matchy matchy in all other things I sew! But it turned out fantastically. I made the top layer slight smaller than the bottom one so the two layers are visible, I sewed pleats into both layers and then I joined them at the top using a French seam. Again, I've just used a brooch to attach it to the dress, I think it's more versatile having it detachable and it is in fact how the original pattern was designed.

And I managed to get the puffiness out of the hip area by taking in the side seams dramatically so it's now quite a snug fit. But since it's wool crepe it has that little bit of stretch to make it still wearable and I think it fits the style better to have it extremely fitted:

So this is my version of the LBD - a short length suitable for a cocktail party, fluttery sleeves for fun and a flattering fit to the body. Hopefully the next photo you see of this will have a body in it!

And thank you all so much for the advice about being paid for sewing - you're all completely correct that I should use my sewing time to sew what I want otherwise the joy might be drained out of it. I do earn enough money in my day job to not need any extra income, but like all of us I could use more time to do the sewing I want for myself and Anna, let alone anyone else. So I've decided firstly not to remind this friend because she has a tendency not to follow up, but if she does I'll only do it this once. And I'll charge her 50% of what the original plus she has to provide the fabric - it's quite a simple full skirt with waistband she's after so I should be able to knock it out quickly but she's still getting it much cheaper than at retail. Hopefully this way our friendship is maintained and I can get on with my ever-growing to do list!