Tuesday, 29 October 2013

World Traveller Wanted...

This is a long shot... but is anyone travelling from Sydney to Europe soon?

Ms Lin3arossa in Germany won some fabric in my recent giveaway, but the cost of sending 1.4kg of fabric to her by mail from Australia is exorbitant... If you think you'd be able to help me get the fabric to Europe and then post it from within Europe (at my cost, of course), can you please let me know in the comments section below?

Thank you :)

See you soon

-Gabrielle x

Stripey Tracksuit Pants

I made these tracksuit pants for my son a few months back but have only just stumbled on the photos - so this make is out of chronological order :).

The fabric is a cool stripey terry knit from The Fabric Store.  The fabric was on sale - I think because the stripes were slightly off grain. I chose to follow the stripes rather than the grain in cutting out because I knew that not being able to match stripes on the side seams would drive me nuts. As you can see, I haven't gone nuts and the stripes are all matched up - yesss!  And the fabric seems to be heavy or stable enough (or whatever property it needs) that the legs haven't twisted.

Originally I'd planned to use this fabric to make a funky sleeveless sweatshirt dress for myself, to layer over other funky knits - but (so far) I only dress like that in my imagination :).

The pants are made using Burda Easy 9672 (some pattern reviews here), sewn in about a size 8 but with widths and lengths adjusted according to RTW tracksuit pants that already fitted.  The tracksuit pants pattern is unisex and absolutely basic, but just what I wanted - I couldn't be bothered to add lots of details to these pants.

I love Burda kids patterns - both those in the magazines AND individual patterns - the fit on these patterns is so much better on my kids than the Big 4, which must either assume quite a big build or have a terrific amount of ease built in.

My son doesn't particularly fuss over what he wears so long as no skulls or scary images are involved, and these are apparently very nice to wear when you're a bit chilly after a swimming lesson. I really should sew more for him - he's such an easy 'customer'! Having said that, even though I have more of this fabric, I don't think he'd be up for a matching tracksuit top... I might have to look into that funky sleeveless sweatshirt dress after all! 

More soon

- Gabrielle x

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Heatwave Dress

Another summery dress - heatwave, anyone?

My latest dress (yes, there do seem to be a lot of dresses in this neck of the woods) is a Vogue designer pattern - but for a change from those Donna Karan patterns I usually favour, this one's by Kay Unger.

Aren't these photos terrific? Proper silk purse from a sow's ear stuff! Sooooo guess who found a new photography buddy? Yup, me! These photos were taken by my colleague Helga, who's been studying photography in the evenings and evidently knows a lot about taking decent photos. Ten minutes, a few giggles from passers-by (how embarrassing, but these photos were taken outside a Sydney CBD building, so fair game), all done!

Want some close ups? You got 'em, front and back!

This dress isn't perfect (you only have to look at the close up of the dress back to confirm that) but there's so much about it that I like:
  • the neckline, the shoulder shape and coverage
  • the godet
  • the princess seams
  • the shape: fitted at the top, flared at the bottom :)
  • the bright colours in the fabric
  • the opportunity for a bit of pattern matching in the cutting out stage
  • stretchy cotton, yum
  • the lack of lining

Onto the sewing details:

The pattern:
Vogue 1360, a Kay Unger design.

I think the shape of my dress is more exaggerated than the dress on the pattern envelope, but more on that below. 

The pattern is rated Easy - and it is quite a straightforward pattern for a designer Vogue pattern. The most complex steps relate to sewing in the front godet neatly and keeping the waist seam details aligned horizontally.

The fabric:
A stretch cotton sateen from Lincraft. The pattern is recommended for moderate stretch fabrics. I bought this fabric because I was putting off sewing something more challenging with a more expensive fabric - oops, add that to the list of crazy justifications for fabric shopping! You only need about 1.5 metres of 150cm wide fabric for this dress unless you have a pattern to match up (I used 2 metres with some pattern matching, but I also made facings and lengthened the dress). Oh, and obvious diagonals are not recommended.

The cost:
My fabric cost $27.58, the pattern was about $6 or $7 including postage (on sale through the Vogue patterns website), and the zip was 50c at an op shop. So all up the dress cost me about $35.

The modifications:
Just a few :). I lengthened the dress by about 5 centimetres (and yet it's still shorter than I'd usually wear a work dress), and instead of a full lining I made facings that mimic the external structure ie seamed at centre front, centre back, and along the princess seam lines. This may not have been a smart move. You can definitely see the shape of the facings through the fabric on the back of the dress. Perhaps this problem would disappear if the upper back was as fitted as the upper front, but without any ease the dress might not be very comfortable.

I also played around with the sizes I used, based on some of your comments about taking flat measurements of the pattern tissue OR using the finished garment measurements listed on the pattern tissue to determine size. Taking the finished garment measurements as gospel, I took my measurements and cut out accordingly... size 10 across shoulders and high bust, and then size 12 at the full bust. At waist level I chickened out and sewed a size 14 grading to a size 16 on the hips and down, thinking I'd take it in later if necessary. When I tried this on, the fit seemed good if tighter than I'm used to at the bust (please let me know ~gently~ if this is a bad fit!) but there was a lot of ease at the waist and hips which I reduced slightly by re-sewing side seams with a 2cm seam allowance. There was a significant amount of gaposis in the front neckline, so I added a dart in the centre front seam to correct this.

I thought I'd nailed the fit above the waist, but the photos tell me otherwise - the back looks looser than the front, and there's some gaposis in the back neckline; there's also a bit of excess fabric just under the front bodice princess seams near the armholes (is there a technical term for this area?). The neckline gaposis may have come about through over-handling the fabric when I was sewing the facings entirely by machine. Overall I like the pear-y silhouette that's come from this combination of several sizes, but were I to make the dress again I think I'd stick to a single above-waist size and a single below-waist size.


What I've realised from trying to fit this dress is that a single measurement around the body won't necessarily cut the mustard - you really need to know whether your back is relatively broader or narrower than your front, and I guess similarly you need to know whether one side is bigger / higher than the other. Isn't it tricky to think of yourself as an abstract 3D solid (bags be the Klein bottle!)

So, clever readers, any pearls of fitting wisdom to share? When you measure yourself, do you take a single measurement all the way around, or do you break your measurements at the side seams? And finally, do your photos ever surprise you when it comes to fit?

See you soon

- Gabrielle x

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Winners (Fabric Giveaway)

Yay, time to announce the fabric giveaway winner! Hey, I'm feeling generous - let's make that winners 1, 2 and 3! 

Winner #1: Entrant number 2 ...

"Congratulations on finding your interest through sewing. You have a great eye for colour and shape and I've really enjoyed meeting you too. 
I like those flowers or swirls. I follow you on my blog roll and through bloglovin, as well as when we catch up.
You are generous to everyone. Thanks again."

Maria, congratulations! I'll be in touch shortly to get a postal address for three of those florals and swirls :)



Winner #2: Entrant #8 ...

"Well done on 3 great years of your blog! I'm so glad I ran across you and your blog during me made may! Who'd have thought that you actually used to live with my sis! Anyway, I follow with bloglovin and I love the spotty fabrics and the light blue denim.. You are seriously generous! xx"

Kirsty: congratulations to you too! I'll be in touch to send you the spots and denim.

Winner #3: Entrant #9 ...

"I follow you in Feedly. I love 15, 22 and 26. Great giveaway and stash busting action!"

Lin3arossa: congratulations to you too! I'll be in touch to send you the ponte, corduroy and cotton.


Thank you!

- Gabrielle x

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Boardwalk Dress

I assume most of you also read Kirsty's awesome blog, Top Notch... Do you remember back in July when she posted about her lovely Boardwalk fabric, and then when she sewed up a really elegant Japanese top from it? Well, I had some of the fabric too... but as usual, I took a looong time to decide what to do with mine.

I was initially thinking to make a Vivienne Westwood inspired dress, one with interesting draping and the stripes changing direction on the dress

...but I dillied and dallied over choosing / finding / drafting a pattern with the right draped areas

...and then some of my eBay "research" showed me the insides of one of my inspiration dresses, and OMG it was full of scaffolding to hold the draping in place

...and then the weather changed to summer (well, technically it's spring, but with temps bouncing up to 39C = 102F, temperature records breaking and bush fires slogging us early I'm no longer completely comfortable with the concept of 4 seasons. Ahhh climate change, I do so hate you!).

So in the interests of using my lovely fabric for something, I altered course - a quick pdf download pattern and a quick sew. Enter the Gabby dress from Tessuti Fabrics!

I have to say, it feels a bit weird to be a Gabrielle in a Gabby dress... Thank goodness I didn't botch it up, right?

This dress suits walking, twirling, acting like a loon - all the usual activities. Also guaranteed to be suitable for sedentary pursuits.

The pattern:
Tessuti's Gabby dress. I bought it as a print at home pdf - in fact, I don't think you can get the printed version any more as it's one of Tessuti's earliest patterns. I sewed the patttern in a size S which apparently represents a 10AU (and which for me equates to RTW size 12AU or 8US).

The fabric:
"Boardwalk" jersey in navy and red from Tessuti fabrics - a lovely generous remnant that I snaffled up quick smart.

$6 for the pattern, and the fabric (a remnant) cost me $20, so $26 all up! (Needle and thread were already used and from the stash).

To be honest, I only glanced at the instructions for this dress - it's a really easy make. So my few modifications are more about the way I cut out the dress.

I wanted to lengthen the dress by a couple of inches and couldn't fit those extra inches on my limited fabric length (1.8m), so the both back and front are pieced, with the upper bodice sections cut at a right angle to the rest. I thought it'd be better to have the piecing in a relatively stationary part of the dress, far from the swishy skirt end. Having looked at my photos though, I'm not sure those extra inches were needed - especially as I'm not hemming the skirt! A trim may be imminent.

There's another annoying mistake in the dress, one that I can't easily fix with my scissors... can you guess?

Don't worry, I'm going to tell you what it is - but not till the end :^)

First let's have some close ups - this dress doesn't have any fancy details, but I can at least show you the fabric and the twin needle stitching:

Upper front:

Upper back:



Now in my last post I was worrying about fit - and I had some great advice in the comments - but fit is not in the least problematic with this dress. In fact if a relaxed fit appeals to you, I have to tell you this dress can fit from size 6 years up!

And using a small model also allows me to show you my mistake!

I didn't measure as accurately as I should have, so even though the front and back were placed on the fabric in the same direction (the stripes are repeating but directional), the stripes don't line up on the side seams as I meant them to, grrr. Very annoying! At least there's a high swish factor! 

See you soon

- Gabrielle x

Saturday, 12 October 2013

If the Dot Fits

Mini polka dots and a pussy bow - together

It's a distinctive look, and one I appreciate on others (Jane, for example - love her polka dots!) - but I'm not sure it's for me. This style experimentation business is something I really love about sewing but nope, I don't think this experiment counts as a success. 

That's fine... I'll probably wear it... and to be honest, the point of making this top was to suss out the McCall's sizing, not really to run an experiment.  I have a pretty good idea of how I fit a Vogue pattern, but based on a sample of just two McCall's dresses  

this one, M6553, made in a size 10 I think but pretty voluminous:

and this one (M5655, which I don't think I really blogged), also made in a size 10 and also pretty voluminous even after taking in:  

I expected the McCall's sizing to include an absolute truckload of ease.

I was wrong! 

I sewed this top last weekend, quickly but carefully (it looks nice on the inside, trust me, and the hand sewing is top of my range), thinking to be able to get a definitive answer on the McCall's sizing question and then to quickly make a different McCall's (dress) pattern. 

I'm so glad I made a practice McCall's garment before cutting into expensive dress fabric... Evidently the sizing is plain inconsistent. Or is it consistent if you only ever sew the same McCall's designer / line?  

The pattern:
McCalls 6793, sewn in a size M (which is I think 12-14) - and lo and behold, it fits! It looks kind of bland on, but that may be due to my absolutely unimaginative styling. I find the reasonably good fit interesting, as the pattern has zero darts - so I guess it's a poor pattern if you're curvy (luckily you curvy ladies get the Jasmine instead!).

The fabric:
A nice quality cotton shirting from Tessuti Fabrics. I bought a few metres of it and have used less than half on this top - what's left should be enough for another little top, and it's still up for grabs in my giveaway.

The modifications:
Only one - I raised the lowest part of the front neckline by about about 2 inches. Just in case this becomes a work top...  surprisingly this change didn't cause any problems in attaching the bias collar; notches still lined up and all was fine.

See you soon!

- Gabrielle x

Monday, 7 October 2013

Three Years, Thank You Very Much (yes, it's a giveaway)

Approximately 3 years and 200 posts ago, this little blog was born.  I'd started sewing again after a break of half a lifetime, and sewing was soothing my brain from work stresses and small children busyness.  Searching for sewing help online I'd stumbled across an amazing world of blogger sewists that I desperately wanted to be a part of.  I'm so glad I jumped in.

To thank you for inspiring me, reading, commenting, replying, encouraging - just generally being fantastic - I'd like give you a little something from my stash.  My stash is big, but not big enough to share with everyone, so instead there'll be 3 somethings for one of you.  I hope that sounds good :).

So - do you fancy stripes, or dots - or plaid?

1, 2, 3:
   4, 5, 6:

Flowers or swirls?

   7, 8, 9:

   10, 11:

Pinks or blacks?

    12, 13, 14:

   15, 16, 17:

Greens or blues?

   18, 19, 20:



    22, 23, 24:

   25, 26, 27:

Pick up to 3 fabrics you'd like, and I'll send them to you anywhere in the world, for up to $30AU in postage. If you live very far away, check this guide to international postage from Australia - and maybe pick light fabrics :). The heaviest of the fabrics above are 1, 4, 12 and 15.

Entry is open to all followers of this blog.

To enter leave a comment, telling me:

  • how you follow this blog
  • which three pieces of fabric you'd like
  • your email address

Entries close at 11.59pm Sydney time, Sunday 20 October 2013

Thank you again and good luck!

- Gabrielle x

PS If you've already got too much fabric, look out for my separate books / patterns giveaway.

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