January Burda of the Month: 1/2013 #106 Panelled Dress

Wednesday 30 January 2013
Just in the nick of time, I've finished and photographed my project from the January Burda while it's still January.  Yay for me starting the year off on the right foot.  Ok, the eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed that I haven't (yet) made something from last year's December magazine, but it's coming I promise!

Unbelievably, my 12 months of maternity leave is almost up and I'll be returning to work in mid March.  So it made sense to make a work appropriate dress in anticipation.  I chose a relatively simple style, #106:


It's deceptively simple though, because matching up all those horizontal seams required a high level of precision sewing, which quite frankly I'm too tired these days to achieve.  I think I sewed the side seams and back seams at least four times each until I was happy with the matching.  In the end I did what I should have done in the first place and handbasted those seams and the invisible zipper before machine stitching - sometimes the shortest way is not always the quickest way if you can follow my logic there!

Burda-1-2013-#106-horizontal seam dress

I used the blueberry coloured ponti knit fabric I bought from Tessuti's when we had our sewing meetup back in November, which is more work appropriate than the shimmery silk used in the magazine.  This fabric is so lovely - it's such a rich colour, and the fabric has a good amount of four way stretch without being clingy.  Even better is that I bought 2m and it is a wide fabric so I have quite a bit of fabric left for another project.


The only changes I made to the pattern were to achieve a better fit.  The line drawing may indicate that the pattern is nicely curved in at the waistline, but the photo of the 'real life' model shows how what an unfitted potato sack it really is.  I ended up taking in the side seams quite a bit - 3cm starting from the underarm and tapering out to nothing below the bottom horizontal seam, and I also did a faux swayback adjustment by curving the centre back seam inwards in the middle panel.  It was all I could do really since there were no vertical darts in the front or the back, and it really could use a bit of pinching in under the bust line but overall I think I achieved a fairly good fit:


The invisible zip does a funny bulge at the end just above my butt, but as you've all pointed out in the past no one should be looking too closely there anyway! Besides I sewed that zipper in way too many times trying to match up the horizontal seams to redo it.

The only thing I'm annoyed with is the visibility of the hem, although I'm not sure if that's due to the exposure of this photo.  I hand stitched it in because I'm terrible at machine invisible stitching, and in real life it doesn't look too bad, so it's also going to stay as is.  I contemplated top stitching around all those horizontal seams and the hem, but I didn't want to risk the fabric puckering and becoming wavy due to the stretch, so I've just left it as is.

So it's straight into the cupboard with this dress since I don't need it yet - I've got a month of 3 child free days a week coming up before I head back to the office since Toby is starting daycare next Monday to ease him into before I go back to work. Oh the plans I have now that I have a bit of time up my sleeve!

1970s - love or hate?

Monday 28 January 2013
The 70s is often described as the decade that style forgot, but after a bit of googling and reviewing my sewing patterns I realise that I actually quite like a fair bit of the 70s look.  Not the flares or wide collars or puffy shoulders, but the suiting, shirt style dresses and wrap dresses are right up my alley.  In fact I think the 90s is the decade that style forgot since the fashion was so bland, and the 80s is the decade we all should forget (and not revive) because it was just so awful and embarrassing for everyone involved.

We were invited out to the races and picnic day in Orange, a beautiful regional town about 4 hours west of Sydney, for a 40th birthday party.  Perfect opportunity for me to wear one of my under utilised  beautiful frocks and hats and generally dress up as one does (or should do) for the races.   Sadly though this group of my husband's friends just love the themed dress up party - the last big party we went to was an Elvis and Priscilla theme.  Ever seen a Chinese Elvis? 


The funniest thing about that photo is not my husband wearing an Elvis costume (made out of some white overalls bought from an op shop with triangle godets sewn in to make flares) but the fact that we were staying in a very fancy hotel and got quite a lot of amused/horrified looks from the other guests in the lobby whilst we tried to hail a taxi!

Anyway the theme for this weekend was the 70s.  As I said in the last post I was planning to try to embarrass my husband as much as possible, and so I had planned to make him some brown polyester pants and a brown + orange paisley print body shirt from this vintage Simplicity pattern (all of which I actually do have in my stash):


But last week we had such heatwave conditions that it was just too much to do anything other than loll about in front of the fan, let alone sew with polyester.  Plus the forecast for Saturday was for very hot weather too, so a back up plan was required.  Which is where a bit of research with Dr Google came in handy.  I came across this photo of Asher Keddie looking gorgeous as Ita Buttrose in Paper Giants (a fantastic ABC mini series) on a post from BusinessChic on 70s workwear inspiration:

photo via Businesschic.com
Whilst I love that green patterned skirt with the minty green fitted shirt, it's the guy in the background with the newspaper that really caught my eye.  He may look like someone out of Abba but the short sleeved shirt, dress shorts and knee high socks is the quintessential smart casual look for men in the 70s. Although I remember some school teachers of mine during the 80s still rocking this look, and even worse some old school building inspectors from my first council job still wearing this style in the late 90s! 

So I dug out a cotton knit/mesh style top that was my grandad's, cut the legs off some chinos to make shorts and finally tracked down some knee high walking socks.  Boy are they hard to find these days - if anyone else is looking for some try Lowes (if you're under the age of 65 they'll know straight away it's for a dress up costume ha ha ha).


And no, he still wasn't embarrassed by his outfit, just a little hot and sweaty.  Finding something for myself wasn't going to be too difficult since I've sewn quite a few things from 70s sewing patterns but I decided to go 100% authentic and wear a shirt dress that was my grandma's in stripes of purple in varying shades that is proudly labelled as 'crimpelene':



I accessorised with a pair of oversized sunglasses and a timber/chain necklace which was also my grandma's that Toby spend the entire day chewing and pulling on.  The hat is my everyday hat for sun protection, but it has a bit of 70s vibe with the floppiness.   Even though I felt a bit frumpy in the dress because it's a little too large for me, I didn't actually feel in costume at all because a shirt dress is totally something I would wear now (although not in polyester).  Not like the others in our group who were in mini dresses with white knee high boots, maxi dresses in crazy prints with wedge heels, safari suits and one guy getting around like Hugh Hefner in a satin smoking jacket.

And now on my with my normal sewing - I have January's Burda of the month about 80% done and I want to get it done before the month is out.

One last photo from the Paper Giants show - I love that the character of Ita who is a high flying fashion magazine executive is not only sewing at home, but is sewing on a bright orange Husqvarna sewing machine because my mum still has and uses that exact same sewing machine!

photo via abc.net.au

Ahoy me hearties!

Wednesday 23 January 2013
Who would have thought that throwing a birthday party for a four year old would be so much work? Especially when it was a joint party with two other friends so we were able to share the load.  I think I've been spending far too much time on Pinterest and I became overloaded with awesome ideas - and being an overachieving crafty type I then tried out too many!

We decided to have a pirate themed party, which of course required pirate costumes.  For the birthday girl I made her a girly version of a pirate costume:


I made the top from some white broderie anglaise cotton that I had in the stash leftover from a previous project, using Kwik Sew 3665 which I've used before and so it sewed up in about 30 minutes.  It looks pretty and summery so it will have a life beyond the pirate costume:


Kwik Sew 3665 girls top

And because this is Anna we're talking about, she had to have a twirly skirt for her version of a pirate costume, so I made a quarter circle skirt from Burda 11/07 #134 - sure it's just a simple circle skirt but it was easier to trace a pattern than to do the maths to draft my own circle skirt!  The polyester I used has been sitting in my stash for a long time and probably should have been chucked a long time ago because it was so nasty that it made my machine spew forth cotton and skip stitches when stitching. It's a relief to get it out of the stash - the scraps went straight into the bin!



I also made a little red cotton vest from a vintage pattern, Butterick 6489 by making the jacket pattern without the cap sleeves, which she wore for about  30 minutes on the day and refused to put it back on even for photos, so that was a good use of my time!




Since us mums did all the work in getting the party done, we decided the dads could also dress up and be in charge of the party games.  In an attempt to embarrass my husband as much as possible, I made his costume matchy matchy with Anna's.  I took one of his old white business shirts and cut off the collar and cuffs, and then sewed some narrow elastic around the sleeve edges to puff the shirt sleeves up.  I made him a matching red vest from Burda 1/2011 #148 which is actually the bolero vest from the snake charmers costume in the magazine - I never thought I would use one of the crazy carnival costume patterns in Burda but I guess there is a first time for everything. 

Burda 1/2011 #148
Worn with an eye patch and black bandanna, a red sash around the waist plus a pair of his black shorts, this is how he looked:


Unfortunately for me not much fazes my husband and he wasn't embarrassed in the slightest - in fact when I told him I wanted to take his photo for my blog he grabbed that scooter and hammed it up for the camera!

But the sewing and craftiness didn't stop there, damn you Pinterest and all those over the top parties I pinned in earnest! I made 30 eye patches from felt and elastic for the guests:


Then I made 30 'telescopes' from cardboard tubes painted black with bits of corrugated cardboard and gold paper strips with drawn on screws glued on (although I think some of these were used as swords on the day):


And then I also made 30 drawstring bags made from a really cute cotton poplin in a pirate print bought from Spotlight to keep all these things in:


'take a bag and join our motley crew'

I think it was worth the effort though, the kids seemed to love them and I hope that the little kits live on in some one's dress up box for a while yet instead of the usual mountain of rubbish that gets thrown out right after a party.

We had some pretty cool party food too:

very cool pirate cupcakes, not made by me though!
honeyed popcorn clusters in cups and jelly cups
a birthday cake for each of the birthday kids to save tears at cutting time
My sister made an awesome birthday cake for Anna, totally out of theme but it's what the birthday girl requested:


Of course 30 kids plus their parents wouldn't fit in my modestly sized back yard, so we hired out some space at a local park which meant we had to lug so much stuff there.  We had a jumping castle to help burn off some of that sugar, had a pinata to bust open and a treasure hunt which turned out remarkably well for a bunch of 4 year olds!  The weather caused a bit of stress, with a heatwave on Friday followed by gale force winds on Friday night but Saturday turned out just right, with the temperature cooler and the rain holding off until after the party.

So now it's back to some regular sewing - thank god birthday parties are only once a year! Although this weekend we're off to a 40th birthday party out in the country and it's a 70s theme - let's see if I can find a totally cringeworthy outfit for my husband and see if that embarrasses him!

Internet starvation, and a birthday dress

Thursday 10 January 2013
I am finally home from our annual pilgrimage north to spend time with the inlaws.  As much as I love visiting my husband's parents, not having to cook or clean or wash and getting to spend time with my husband and kids (much easier when there's two of us against the two of them!) it's also nice to be home.  We did manage to squeeze in a mini holiday to a lovely beach resort on the sunshine coast, which was great, but there's only so much sun and heat I can handle.  Ironically we returned home to a Sydney heatwave, the hottest day in 150 years apparently at 42 C (107.6F).

Apologies for the blog silence around here,  pre Christmas was very busy for me and internet access the past few weeks has been sparse and sporadic.  I'm not one of those people who find a technology break refreshing - dear internet, blog and blog readers I missed you! I'm such a newshound that not being able to access several newspapers each day made me feel quite isolated, and of course I've missed reading every one's blogs, especially the end of year roundups.

And being away from home also meant being away from my sewing machine and no sewing so far.  But I can reveal the pink princess dress I sewed for Anna for a Christmas present, using McCalls 4948 which is the same pattern I used for her Halloween costume:

To say she loves it, and the tiara and little plastic heels would be understatement (despite her cranky look above - it was Christmas morning and she didn't want to stop for photos). It's good to have a handmade present so well received.  I also made a few wristlet purses from scrap fabrics (recognise the green drill and black floral?) with movie tickets tucked inside for Anna's teachers at her daycare centre:

Anna turned 4 while we were away on holidays.  Four already, can you believe it?!  For her birthday dress I made Burda 7/2011 #148 from a blue cotton floral, with a white cotton eyelet fabric bib on the front:

Amazingly for a Burda pattern the sizing is pretty spot on and the instructions were sort of clear but it's a pretty simple dress anyway.  The only annoying part is that the triangular bib is actually a lace motif that is appliqued onto the dress last.  Since I didn't have a lace motif handy, I just cut a triangle shape of fabric matching the curve of the neckline, finished the edges by rolled edge on my overlocker and then topstitched it down.  If I was to make this again I would sew on the bib first before finishing the neckline edge.  If you're interested, here is her 3rd, 2nd and 1st birthday dresses.

And now I need to make pirate eye patches, cardboard tube telescopes and drawstring bags for a birthday party we're having for Anna next week before I can get stuck into my real sewing - I need to get back on track with my Burda challenge!