Vintage Vogue skirt - rescue for a boring wardrobe

Friday 23 October 2015
I don't know why it is, but with the beginning of each new season I feel like I have nothing to wear (which judging by my bulging wardrobe is obviously not true). Now that the weather has warmed up around here, I suddenly feel like all my dresses and skirts from last season are just dull and boring. So I decided on a quick fix by making a simple, pleated skirt:

vintage Vogue 7508 pleated skirt in navy blue print

This style of skirt hardly needs a pattern because it so simple, but since I have such a huge pattern stash I thought I should use it! So I pulled out Vogue 7508, which is from 1989 and is long OOP.  It has that 1980s big is better attitude so I shortened it significantly to knee length.  Midi-length skirts seem to be all the fashion at the moment, I just feel frumpy and swamped by fabric in them and I like to do my own thing anyway.
vintage Vogue 7508 pleated skirt in navy blue print

Even though it's a simple pattern, there are few clever features that made using it worthwhile. The skirt panels are a-line as well as gathered, and the pleats at the waist are slightly angled which gives the skirt a nice flare without being too puffy.

vintage Vogue 7508 pleated skirt in navy blue print

The side seams of the skirt have been moved around the front and are hidden beneath a pleat - so it you didn't pattern match very well no-one would be able to tell.

vintage Vogue 7508 pleated skirt in navy blue print

The pockets are also in the side seam (that is actually at the front), which means the pocket bags sit at the front under the pleats rather than disrupting the line down the side of the body:

vintage Vogue 7508 pleated skirt in navy blue print

The only thing I don't like is that the waistband is a straight band which on my body means it gapes open a bit (hence the belt). Unfortunately I didn't have enough fabric to cut a curved waistband though - despite having a 2m length of this fabric because this skirt sure uses up a lot of length! I think I will add some belt loops though, to help keep the belt in place.

The lack of fabric also means that I couldn't pattern match the centre back seam either, which is really bugging me now that I see these photos:

vintage Vogue 7508 pleated skirt in navy blue print

I might undo that centre back seam and lose a little bit of width to reposition the seam so I can avoid that annoying doubling up of the circle print down the centre back.

And since I seem to be in a nitpicking mood, I have to mention the annoying fabric. I bought this cotton sateen from Spotlight some time ago, probably during a sale so it's not cost I'm annoyed about. I've had this fabric in my stash for ages, just waiting for the right use because I really like the print. This fabric had a beautiful sheen and was a dark navy blue but after just one wash it faded terribly so I don't hold much hope for it having a long life in my wardrobe.  But for now I really like it, and my wardrobe crisis is slightly alleviated!

vintage Vogue 7508 pleated skirt in navy blue print

September Burda of the Month: 9/2015 #122 the Referee Top

Sunday 18 October 2015
My latest Burda of the month project is slightly late, but I'm excusing myself since I had a good excuse what with being out of the country. And since my October issue still hasn't arrived, technically I'm still sewing from my current issue.

Anyway, enough justifying myself to no one in particular, here is my latest project:

Burda 9/2015 #122 referee shirt

In the magazine Burda calls this the referee shirt, pattern #122 from 9/2015, although on their website they specifically say to make it from a luxe fabric such as silk jersey and to wear with stilettos to avoid the referee look.

Burda 9/2015 #122 referee shirt
images via Burda Style

I've made mine from a pinstriped soft cotton shirting fabric that has been in the stash for quite a long time, so mine has more of a casual business vibe than a sporty look. But a lightweight summer shirt with sleeves and a collar is exactly what I need in summer for sun protection which is why I picked this pattern over the several lovely dress patterns in this issue.

Because my fabric isn't as drapey as the silk jersey used in the magazine and I don't particularly like the tunic look, I shortened this pattern quite a lot - about 12cm off the length of view A so that it doesn't look like I'm wearing a nightie. I did keep the curved hem, which is slightly shorter at the front than the back, which gives it a sporty vibe:

Burda 9/2015 #122 referee shirt

You can see that this shirt is a loose fitting style - there are no darts in the back at all but it was quite nice not to be obsessed with fitting my swayback for a change. I don't think it looks too bad from the back view:

Burda 9/2015 #122 referee shirt

I didn't have a white zipper in the stash which is why I've left it off, but I did discover that the top is too low cut not to have the bottom section at least closed up. So I just put a button and a loop part-way up to keep things decent looking.

Burda 9/2015 #122 referee shirt

I think my collar has turned out looking more like a sailor's uniform than a referee shirt though I think my past projects have shown that I'm not adverse to an oversized and sometimes ridiculous looking collar!

Burda 9/2015 #122 referee shirt

I also found the sleeves quite long, but instead of just chopping them off at the elbow I decided to turn it up and sew it into a cuff instead - I think it goes well with the casual vibe:

Burda 9/2015 #122 referee shirt

Overall this is a pretty easy pattern. I took a few shortcuts though - leaving off the zipper was one, but I also just turned the hem under and top-stitched instead of using fiddly binding strips. Confusingly, the pattern includes the seam allowance for the side seam and hem of the back pattern piece but not any others and then the instructions also say to include 1.5cm seam allowance at the slit edges of the back pieces! I can't explain why this is, but as usual with Burda it is usually best just to ignore the instructions and get on the best you can!

Burda 9/2015 #122 referee shirt

Japan: inspiration overload

Friday 9 October 2015
Apologies for the blog silence around here lately, but I've just come back from an amazing few weeks in Japan so actually I'm not really sorry at all! It's my ten year wedding anniversary and my parents kindly offered to watch the kids while we went on holidays without them - so the holiday was doubly fantastic.

Japan was just amazing and overwhelming with inspiration - the architecture was a real highlight for us, not only the ultramodern skyscrapers that dominate the cities but also the beautiful and serene lines of the residential dwellings. The food was outstanding, the culture very interesting and I loved people watching for Japanese fashion, from the crazy and colourful young girls in Harajuku, to the head to toe designer labels in Ginza and the simple chic in Kyoto.

And of course I did a fair amount of fabric shopping!

I hadn't planned to buy much fabric given that my stash is already overloaded and the fabric prices in Japan are comparable to Australia, but the huge range and variety of beautiful fabrics in Japan that are not easily found here soon persuaded me to buy more that just one piece per city! I came to Japan travelling very lightly, with one small suitcase that was carry on size:

But left Japan with another bag filled with fabric (but still well under my luggage allowance so I should have bought more):

Fabric shopping in Tokyo

Of course I went to the Nippori Fabric Town in Tokyo, which is as exactly as everyone describes it: one really long street with so many shops it's impossible to go into each on one day only. We came here the first day we arrived but it turned out to be a public holiday, so we made a second trip at the end of our holiday the day before we left for home. In hindsight that turned out for the best, because by the end of the trip I had given up my commitment to only buying one piece per city and I ended up buying a lot more fabric than I intended!

There was an overwhelming number of stores to choose from, and in the end I only shopped at 3 stores, plus the fantastic 5 storey Tomato store. I was there on a Saturday morning and the ground floor where the beautiful Japanese linens, cute cottons and infamous 100 yen shelves was so packed with people that I couldn't get near the fabrics at all. But I purchased quite a few knit fabrics on the second floor, plus a few pieces and some cool zips from two other stores as well:

Fabric shopping in Kyoto and shibori dyeing

The hotel we stayed in Kyoto happened to be directly across the street from the main Nomura Tailor store, so I had to walk past this shop multiple times over 5 days and restrain myself! This is a three storey shop crammed with the most beautiful fabrics and notions, but I managed to restrict myself to only four pieces of Japanese linen, cotton and seersucker because at this point I was still committed to just buying a few pieces in each city. I am now sorry I didn't buy more!

Also in Kyoto I visited the tiny, hidden away courtyard shop of the Misuyabari needle shop, which I found really easily thanks to the numerous other bloggers who have visited there and posted very helpful directions (such as this and this). They had ultra cute decorative pins all handmade, and a huge range of needles too, but since I'm rather practical I bought a mini sewing box which contained a tiny pincushion, some thread, small snips and some needles in a timber box:

We also visited the Kyoto Shibori Museum, thanks to the recommendation of a friend from my ASG group. We were able to learn all about the art of shibori, which is a very labour intensive method of wrapping minute portions of silk with threads to do a very elegant form of tie dye. We did a class where we folded some pure white silk concertina style, clamped with blocks and then dyed multiple times in different coloured dyes. This is how my scarf turned out:

Fabric shopping in Hiroshima

I hadn't planned on doing any fabric shopping in Hiroshima because we were only there for a few days, but we arrived on a rainy afternoon and ended up doing a bit of window shopping in their department stores marvelling at the crazy and cute stuff for sale. I accidentally stumbled on the craft area of the Sogo Department store, which up on the 9th level had quite a large range of fabrics, both by the metre and pre cut lengths, as well as patterns, notions and other crafty items.

I only bought one piece of fabric and a pattern from here, because I was still restraining myself at this point:

Fabric shopping in Osaka

In Osaka I made a bee-line for the Nano Iro store, which again I found quite easily thanks to those helpful bloggers who post very detailed directions (such as this post). The showroom was quite sparse, with not a huge range of fabrics available for purchase but they were all very beautiful.  The lovely sales assistants were quite interested and amused as to why I had travelled so far just to come to their shop! I bought one piece of fabric and a beautiful watercolour calendar which I then had to carry in my hands through 4 more cities because it didn't fit in my suitcase!

Overall I can highly recommend Japan as a travel destination. There's just so much for everyone - technology freaks, architecture buffs, foodies, culture vultures, shopaholics - you name it you can do it in Japan!

Luckily our return home has coincided with the arrival of hot weather here in Sydney, so I am very keen to start sewing at least a few of these fabrics (some of those knits will have to wait until next winter).