Sunday, 29 December 2013

Top 5 of 2013: Workhorses and Show Ponies

And now for the hits - hooray!

I'm pretty sure Gillian* said we could bend the rules... so I'm going to split the hits into two groups. Work horses and show ponies - two lots of hits!

* speaking of whom, can anyone tell me how to comment on her Tumblr blog? 

Let's meet the workhorses:

Workhorses are garments that got heaps of wear - they're comfortable and practical.

1. Stretchy

Surprise, surprise; stretch jersey dresses are comfortable and easy to fit. And they don't generally need ironing (except prior to blog posts), which is fabulous when you accidentally sleep in and then have a mad rush to get the kids to school and yourself to work - no time for ironing!

I had lots of stretch dresses in high rotation this year, but the absolute hit of the bunch was the Poppies and Tulips Dress.

The Poppies and Tulips Dress was a bit tight when I first wore it (these pics), but I lost a few kgs soon after - and then the fit was much better. I would have worn this dress regardless though as I just love the print to bits. So good to be able to make a unique dress!  

2. Drama

I wish I had better photos of this jacket - I wore it pretty much constantly over winter. It fits really well, and the dramatic collar and lovely shaping elevate a plain outfit into something dressy. When I'd just made it, I didn't think I was going to wear this jacket much - the wool was a bit itchy on my neck, and it was such a huge collar - but it turned out to be the perfect weight for a Sydney winter, the mild itch factor wasn't a problem with a scarf, and hey, I like dramatic clothes.

3. Vintage

The surprise workhorse of the year was this vintage dress - not only a vintage pattern (V8811), but also a quilting fabric!! Perhaps an unusually good quality quilting fabric though? 

To the Gallery has a lovely long swishy skirt which catches whatever small breeze is around, and it's about as dressy as I want to be on a hot day. 

4. Cotton

I think my picks this year are being prejudiced by recent memory. It's summer here of couse, and the Starry, Starry Gabby dress is a very summer-friendly flared shape - plus I love being able to walk around wearing this amazing fabric!

4. Classic

Every wardrobe needs one of these! Actually I've worn this Kirsten Kimono t-shirt so much I should have cloned it - maybe every wardrobe needs two? Although I tried to re-make the top in several other fabrics, none came close to this one...

And now, the show ponies:
Show ponies look good but only get taken out for special occasions.

1. and 2. Fitted

This year I made a few fitted sheath-style dresses, and most of them get a lot of wear (perfect office attire!). However, there are two standouts: the Out of Darkness dress, which I love so much that I prefer to be the one who gets to see it rather than being seen IN it, if you know what I mean:

And my latest - a stripey Brasilia dress - probably the best fitting of the bunch! I can't wear the dress to work yet because I like it too much, so that makes it a show pony! [Do you make clothes you like so much you can't bear to wear them?]

3. Class

This cape-jacket makes me feel uncommonly classy and well-dressed. Perhaps too well-dressed for my job though...

I'm so proud of my plaid-matching - it was a big effort, but I matched horizontally AND vertically, and the plaid aligns just about everywhere I wanted it to.

4. Dressups 

This year I made my daughter the costume of her dreams, a personalised Princess Aurora dress. Although both the final dress and the hand-decorated muslin have several outings, my daughter is so proud of these dresses and her input into their making that they aren't being thrashed and mistreated the way regular costumes are.

This is probably the first time I've managed (or tried?) to turn a drawing into a dress - so satisfying! I suspect drafting dress details for a child's dress is a lot simpler than doing the same for an adult, but maybe I'll have a go at the adult stuff in 2014.

5. BodyCon 

My Cosy Dress didn't get too many wears - too bodycon for everyday - BUT when I did wear it out one evening, several friends separately asked me if I could make them one! That's never happened to me before.. so either it's a great dress or someone hadn't told me it was be-nice-to-Gabrielle-day.

Phew - lots of hits! Do you have a favourite?

If I can come up with anything, I'll post my Top 5 reflections, inspirations and/ or goals in the next few days - and I also have to tell you all about a lovely Christmas ornament exchange soon.

See you soon

- Gabrielle x

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Top 5 or so of 2013 - the Misses

I'm taking part in Gillian's 2013 "Top 5" for sewing bloggers link up. It's a great opportunity to review your sewing year - hits, misses, reflections, inspirations and goals - and frankly it's also going to help me avoid sewing a bag!

Let's start with the misses - much more clearcut than the hits (as I'll explain in a separate post).

I seem to have 4 categories of sewing fails:

1. Who am I?

If the Dot Fits (polka dot pussy bow top)

Nice top, but just not my style. I wanted to like it, but when I wore it to work it felt like I was dressed up as someone else!   I probably need to donate it, but I'm not yet ready.

Colourful Sarong Dress

Oops. I haven't worn this since making it - although it might seem good for the beach, it's not really the sort of thing I wear to the beach. Or anywhere. It looks better on that I'd remembered, so I might try to give this dress another chance when the summer heatwave returns.

2. Nigel no-friends jackets

Lil' Black Jacket

And this, on the other hand, is a make that I really like, but that I can't seem to place with the rest of my wardrobe. When I made it I thought it was going to fit in brilliantly, but it never seems to go with the things I want to wear it with. Maybe I need to sew something to help it out!!

Unreasonably Unseasonal: Summer Jacket

And I like this one too! This one goes nicely with a couple of dresses that remain a bit tight... which means it too never gets a wear. Very annoying! Do I need to start planning my sewing to get outfits that work together???

3. Franken-error

My Yellow Dress is Just All Wrong

I made this dress by mashing up a couple of patterns - modern and vintage - and made a bit of a mess of it. It was initially too small, then I added some narrow strips of fabric (yes, how amateur) to widen it. Now it's too big and I haven't worn it. I absolutely adore the fabric - even though it's a bit heavy for the dress - so I'm keeping it in case my weight goes up dramatically (which has been known to happen - my personal best is 10kg gained in 10 days. Thank you thyroid. )

4. Just. Plain. Boring. 

Denim + Stripes

God this is a boring outfit - so dowdy, so bulky - yuk! I tried to wear the top a couple of times but it's just too big for me, so I gave it to my mum who has much bigger shoulders than me. The skirt is sitting in the 'refashion' pile in my sewing room awaiting lots of work. Maybe I should just donate it - there could be someone out that it works on :)

The errors have been observed, I hope I can learn from them!


I'm sure this will be my last post before Christmas, so I just wanted to finish up by wishing you all a terrific Christmas or holiday. Have a lovely day, and remember to leave out a treat for Santa!

See you soon

- Gabrielle x

Saturday, 21 December 2013

The Unintended Tote

I've cut out a Moss mini, I've measured up for Burda pants, and I've crafted some extremely simple Christmas ornaments for Kelli's Christmas ornament exchange (I'm not much chop as a crafter, I'm afraid, so don't get your hopes up for something gorgeous or original). 

But that's about it - pretty disappointing. 

I'm supposed to be sewing up a document bag for my daughter as a practise run for the scientific instrument bag my sister-in-law ordered, but I'm just hating the process. I knew I didn't like sewing bags, but I'd assumed that if I gave myself the rule of "no selfish sewing till the bags are done" I'd get them whipped up in a trice.

Apparently not.

Surprisingly though, a third bag* crept in - a simple tote.

* I originally wrote "bad", then corrected it with "nag" - hello Freud!

Totally illogical!

I can explain...

It was my dad's partner's birthday last week, and I had a lovely hardback Middle Eastern cookbook for her.  I sat down to wrap it late the night before and then remembered how much she hates the wastefulness of wrapping paper. The right thing to do as a conscientious sewist was to make a quick, reusable tote.  Oh no!   

And that's how it happened.

Front view, with an unattractive crease

There were a couple of reasons to prefer this tote to the much-delayed zippered, pocketed bags:

Back view, with seam in centre back
1) self-drafted - even for something as simple as this tote bag, that was a pleasant little bit of exercise for the left side of the brain. I had just enough of a scrap of Corben & Blair canvas for the body of the bag, and I had some bright orange webbing bought for a Cooper (hmmm don't know if that's ever going to happen); and

2) simple - right side of the brain could just take a nap

I rather like the combination of prisoner-orange with muted black and taupe. Like a crazy hairdo on top of a severe business suit :).

The stitching is rather imperfect, but I'm very happy to say that my dad's partner loved this simple tote. I am not a convert to bag sewing, but hopefully this small success will help with the other two bags so that I can get back to the fun stuff soon!

See you soon - I hope

- Gabrielle x

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Starry, Starry Gabby

Another dress - arghhh! Summer is upon us, and a loose cotton dress feels perfect in the heat...

Especially when the fabric is so pretty :) and so mathematical-looking! Triangles, tesselations, networks, constellations - take your pick!

Yes, the fabric is amazing (embroidered cotton from Tessuti Fabrics, Sydney Sewists meet-up, and originally intended for a skirt), but let's talk about the dress.  Do you recognise the shape? I made this same dress in a stretch fabric not so long ago - it's the Gabby Dress.

This time around I was again limited by my fabric metrage, but I decided I didn't want any piecing - I wanted as straightforward a dress as could be. I re-measured myself at the bust level and re-measured my size S pattern pieces, and found I could remove 1cm on the fold at centre front and centre back - that's 4cm in total! This makes for a good fit at the high bust and shoulders, and it meant I had enough width in the fabric for the full flare of the dress. The fit is probably helped by the fact that the fabric has a bit of that springiness you find in a seersucker.

I sewed the sleeve and dress lengths as drafted in the pattern, as I didn't have the fabric to do any lengthening. They felt just a tad short on my limbs (must be getting old - I'm going off minis) so I sewed bias binding close to the length, and turned and pressed the binding into hems. Actually I used bias binding on the neckline too - as you can see in this next photo. The crazy white overlocking and stitching were intentional - I was so taken with the white embroidery that I wanted even more white stitches, even though I had coordinating thread - I've managed more subtlety in the top stitching though.

When I wore this dress for the photos I wasn't sure about it - I thought it might be too flared and too short (note to self: photos with the camera placed less than 2 metres away on the ground make everything look too short!). I gave it another go this weekend and it felt perfect - really comfortable and a good length, plus I'm happy to have more blue in my wardrobe.

So - an easy dress, but a cute and comfortable one!

I have so, so many interesting dress patterns stored away, but a simple pattern like this that can let the fabric shine is probably one that I'll come back to again and again. I think it'd be really nice in a silk twill... or as a couple of layers; maybe organza on top of silk?

Next up? Well I'm planning pants, conceiving Christmas ornaments, and working on some bags - but it's going slowly. I seem to hate making bags for some reason! However, my sister-in-law desperately needs a made-to-measure bag, so I'm making a garish muslin before I start tweaking the pattern to fit the dimensions needed. Maybe the muslin can be a Christmas present for a little someone - yes, that's something else I'm running behind with!

See you soon

- Gabrielle x
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