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Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Silk trapeze dress for travelling

I haven't really been sewing much since the spring, so of course I as bitten by the sewing bug less than a week before I headed off for vacation (3 weeks in Australia!!!!).

As if I didn't have enough to do to get ready, my brain decided I needed a new silk dress. I have wanted to make a slip/trapeze type dress for a while, but I think I had been putting it off just because there are so many different styles that I liked, I couldn't decide which type to make! You can see the Pinterest board I had dedicated to this project is a little all over the place.

I ended up keeping it really simple, mostly in the interest of getting this thing done on time and trying to balance getting nice fabric and not spending too much money.

In the end I knew that simpler would be better, so that it would be more flexible to dress up or down and the hardest decision was whether or not to cut it on the bias. I ended up cutting on the straight grain to save money and time (cut on the bias I would have had to have seams in centre front and back as well as the sides and it would have taken a lot longer to sew up).

Catching the last rays of sunlight in Bondi Junction

I'm pretty happy with the dress, and it did come in handy on vacation. We did everything from spend an entire day on the ocean to attend a ballet and I kept packing to a minimum so that I could bring back lots of gifts and souvenirs so everything that I brought had to do double or triple duty. And thank God for Airbnbs with washing machines!!

I like it paired with a white t-shirt for a more casual look. If only I had some white sneakers to go with it! 

Even without cutting it on the bias, this dress moves so nice!

I used the True Bias Ogden Cami pattern and just re-drafted the side seams to give me an A-line shape and extended it to reach below my knees.

I can wear the dress with heels for a more polished look. It also pairs well with a leather jacket.

I love the back neckline! I also love the architecture in Melbourne, where these pics were taken

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Rug burn

Hi friends,

So I'm quickly learning that buying a rug is impossible. Or at least it feels that way.

I knew I wanted the rug to be the focal point for the room, and ordered one online. Turned out that one had been sold from the show room the day before. Since then, I've done nothing but second-guess myself.

I've filled board after board with rugs for sale on Etsy, ebay and chairish. Part of the challenge is that it's really hard to imagine what a rug will look like in the room - inspiration photos can only get you so far - and they're expensive, meaning won't have a do-over if I'm ordering online.

 I got so desperate, I started looking for rug DIYs. Turns out there are a lot of DIYs (Hey, is it just me or are DIY rugs like a new trend? Or am I just seeing it now because I'm obsessed with rugs?) but I don't have faith that any of them will give me the result I want either.

I did see a brand new West Elm kilim style rug on Kijiji that I didn't love but I thought might work so I bought it and tried it out. I wasn't giving me the look I wanted, so I'll have to resell it.

Oh my God, sorry for the terrible quality photo. I was going to take a better one but ...then I didn't. If anyone wants to buy this barely used rug, let me know: $370.

I wanted to try to find a rug from a local shop and I'm super lucky that two fantastic rug shops, Mellah and Tavares Oriental are both within a kilometer of my home. Score! Both allow you to try rugs in your home for a day. The first one I tried was Mellah, even though the style I really like is Turkish and they're Moroccan (why oh why didn't I buy a rug while I was in Turkey?). They didn't have anything in my price range that was wide enough to go under the table. Bummer!

Next I brought home two rugs from Tavares. The first one, which is in the style that I like the most, didn't have the pop I was looking for and it was too narrow.

The second one:

Pretty sexy, right? This is a lot closer to what I'm looking for. The only hesitation with this one is that it has a lot of primary red and blue, as well as a very basic green. It does have some of the golds, oranges, teals and pinks that I love, but I worry that the red, blue, and green would be too limiting to my colour pallet in the future. Such a tricky decision! It's also pretty pricey.

At least I've learned that I need a rug with pops of black and white (thanks, mom, for this hint!), and for it to have rich, intense colours. I also confirmed that the 200cm width I was going for is the right size so that the chairs don't slip off the back when we sit down. I have a better idea of what I should look for in the future.

I'm glad I was able to test this rug, I was starting to think there was no hope for me!

I know I could get away without a rug, but I really think a rug would (oh god sorry!) tie the room together.

Actually I'm not sorry.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Before and, uh ...progress

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent some time this summer redecorating. I also mentioned that the process is ongoing, probably forever. In that light, I wanted to post and document a few of the things I'm most proud of and excited about. I know this is supposed to be a sewing blog but really it's just a place for me to document and brag about the cool shit I make and pretend that anyone cares.

It's kind of just my own little corner of the internet and so if I want to post about how excited I am for the new couch we ordered, that's what I'm going to do!

So yeah. Now feels like a good time to post before shots and show my progress so far.

Because obvs if I wait until I'm done it'll never happen.

Yeah, so these are the before pics. The furniture we had was very handsome and well made and completely wrong for us. Well, me. Matt didn't care what it looked like, as long as it worked, which it did.

I was just sad every time I looked at it. I would see so many beautiful things on line or in magazines and just wish for a more beautiful home. Things were complicated by the fact that the dining set was a family heirloom (beware of hand-me-downs that turn into heirlooms. Heirlooms can't be left on the curb. They have to be - at the very least - donated. This is more complicated than it sounds).

Anyway, Matt manfully undertook navigating the family politics and I got to work figuring out what the heck I did want now that I had options.

It took months but here's where we are now.

A bar cart is on it's way, since our frankly obscene number of bottles can't be contained by the new buffet. I'm also working on a proper rug, but the look that I have my heart set on is a traditional Turkish style that tends to be narrower than I need. I wish I had known that I needed a rug in my life back when I was actually in Turkey. Buying this stuff online is hard!

Along with the rug, I want to add a light fixture. Of course, I have the opposite problem as the rug. I have no idea what kid of fixture I might want.

In other news, I sometimes buy flowers now.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Reflecting on this summer

Well, summer's coming to a close.

This summer was a little different for me. I haven't posted a new project in ages because I haven't sewn anything in ages! I did complete one garment but I just didn't have the motivation to get it photographed and posted.

Sometimes I fall into the trap of always expecting myself to get a million things done. Work, working out, trying to keep the house tidy and making sure I have clean clothes in my drawers, playing music. But in the last few months, I decided to take a little break from that expectation. It's been a nice little vacation!

I still kept pretty busy (with an interior decorating project - more on that later) but I took a break from sewing and also put the gym on hold for a bit, at least while I'm still biking every day. I haven't played music in ages.

Like I said above, the thing that's taken up most of my creative energies this summer has been redecorating. Although it's not really redecorating.When my boyfriend and I got together, we ended up with some truly spectacular heirloom furniture. Furniture that was incredibly well-build but was, to me, a real eyesore. In another context, another space, these pieces could be gorgeous, but they were just not for me.

This spring, after almost 10 years, we made the decision (well, I moped and Matt acquiesced) to replace our table, chairs and buffet, with possible option to replace the couch.

Wow, what a difference! The process of interior decorating is simultaneously a blast and completely exhausting. And difficult. So many different elements to remember and so much second-guessing!

I'm happy with the progress so far!

Even with all the progress I've made in the last few months, it seems like this is one of those projects that will never really be complete. Which is exactly as fun as it is frustrating!

Anyway, letting go of the old furniture was surprisingly hard, but I'm so thrilled we did. It really does make such a huge difference in how I feel to come home to a house that is on its was to being beautiful and reflecting my (and hopefully Matt's) personality.

As my space has been transforming, I've found myself more and more motivated to keep the place tidy, and even to cook more and eat at the table together more!

This weekend I tried to "style" our bookcases for the first time (not yet a success - we have too many books!) and made some paper art to hang over our beds.

It's funny, though, because the more I do around the house, the more /excited/anxious I am to make other improvements! It's addictive just like sewing but way more expensive. I'm almost looking forward to the fall weather. I love sewing clothing for the colder months, even if I don't like the cold weather! And it's way more affordable.

All this to say I'll be posting more decorating stuff and probably less sewing stuff. Or maybe I'll start a new blog, who knows?

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Follow-up to DIY downloadable clothing

I was really excited about the concept of so-called downloadable clothing that I wrote about in my last post. I started looking for fabrics, deciding which of the patterns I would try and scouting out places to have the pieces cut.

I planned to use the t-shirt pattern, since it seemed like the thing I would be most likely to actually wear. This pattern, it turns out, requires a cutting surface that is larger than most of the non-industrial laser cutting options had.

Image result for laser cutting machine for fabric

On top of that, apparently neoprene, which seems like the most appropriate material to make this out of, contains spandex, which creates hydrogen cyanide gas (hint: it's not good for you!). Not as bad, I hear, as cutting PVC, which creates hydrogen chloride gas, which will damage people and machinery alike, but still most of the places I contacted flat refused to cut neoprene because of the 8% - 10% spandex content.

My only option was industrial so I emailed out for a quote (and learned that they do water cutting, too, which sounds pretty neat).

Turns out it will cost, like, $250 just for the cutting. So...yeah. Glad I didn't buy my fabrics yet!

I am disappointed, though. Maybe I'll save up.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

DIY downloadable clothing! What??

Oh, wait, that's what we do every day.

I just saw a tiny article in a magazine about Dutch designer Martijn Strien's Post-Couture Collective, Desctibed as "downloadable clothing patterns that can be cut and assembled by anyone - no sewing experience required (although a laser cutter helps)"

First reaction: neat idea and seriously great branding. The PR photos are very slick and ultra modern.

The look and feel of the website is so aspirational. Sure, the model does kind of look like a cyborg, but she looks like a very pretty and youthful cyborg. Very clean and modern. How the hell does this work?

Reaction part 2: Watched the video. A laser cutter doesn't "help". It is essential. Who among us doesn't hate the cutting out part of making clothes? Just look at those, like, fractal-looking seams. What a nightmare!

I do love their concept for making seams. Those little fractal-like shapes on the seams weave together and the backward-arrow shape locks it in place. The fabric they use in the video looks like gross foam but I bet a scuba knit would work great!

Oh, and the patterns require you to enter your measurements, and then the pattern adjusts to "fit."

Wow, design files are only 5 Euro.

Reaction part 3: pricing laser cutting in my city. Ooooh the tool library has one...

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Romantic 1930s bias gown

Oh, la la!

Finally posting pics, you guys! I'm really proud of how this dress turned out!

I'm also proud of my hair! It's not perfect, but I did only have an hour and a half to do it. : /

I knew an open back would be my favorite part of this dress. And look at those waves!

I wanted this dress to be dramatic and romantic. I wish I could have justified using silk, but I needed more than 5 yards of fabric and I wasn't very confident that it would actually turn out! I would have hated to have spent all that money and ended up with a wadder.

I had a hell of a time picking the fabric, too. I don't usually wear colours this intense. This crepe-backed satin ended up being pretty easy to work with (I was shocked!) and I think the colour flatters me. I just wonder if this wasn't a common colour in the 1930s. I really wanted the dress to look like something that could have been worn in that time period.

All photos were taken by the awesome Brian Chambers at Sunnyside Beach in Toronto. From the early 20s to the mid-50s, Sunnyside was a happening recreational scene with a bathing pavilion (now it's a tacky restaurant) and an amusement park. There were concerts by Basie and Ellington. There was even a time when public transportation to Toronto's beaches was free!

Of course, then the city built a highway cutting off the beach from the rest of the city and ruined the whole thing. Thanks a lot post-WWII-development-boom. Oh, and then there was a huge sewage problem. That didn't help either.

Still a gorgeous spot to spend the evening and great for pictures!

Friday, 10 June 2016

More bias dress stuff! How I cut out the pattern

Hey guys, happy Friday!

Man, I learned so much making my bias gown (pictures are in the works. I can't wait to post them!) and I feel like I'm just scratching the surface! It really is so different from what I usually do. I got Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire B. Schaeffer from the library and I just find couture stuff so intimidating!!!!

Something that really made an impact on me was her point about one major difference between couture and RTW or home sewing being that with couture techniques, its the seamlines that are marked, whereas with home and RTW sewing, the seam allowances are very precise and the seams are joined using the edge of the cut fabric as a guide.

That was when it really sank in that even the cutting-out part of the project would be completely out of my comfort zone! No kidding, I'm pretty sure this dress aged me about 10 years.

Full disclosure, I have no idea what the best strategy would have been. In a perfect world I would have draped the dress on a dress form and used the draped fabric to transfer to my dress fabric but that was definitely impossible, so I kind of improvised. Paper patterns all the way!

If you have a better technique please share it with me!! Otherwise, hopefully someone else will be able to put this process to use.

Here's what I did: cutting out a bias paper pattern.

1) I cut the pattern out of oak tag, excluding the seam allowances on the bias pieces (the back was on grain, so I kept the seam allowances and cut it out as usual).

2) I laid the fabric out face down on tracing paper, with everything squared up as precisely as possible. You can see below that I even taped the edges of the fabric to the paper to keep it from shifting.

3) I layed the oak tag pattern pieces out, carefully lined up on the bias, and traced them with a fabric marker. Make sure to do a test first to make sure it will come out without ruining your fabric!

4) Next I removed the oak tag pattern piece and pinned the fabric to the paper below. I made sure to place the pins within about an inch of the seam line. Remember, you're tracing the seam line and will be cutting the seam allowance freehand. Make sure your pins go through the paper, too!

5) Once you've finished tracing all your pieces, cut them out, giving yourself about an inch of seam allowance. Then thread trace the seam lines so they're visible on both sides. This is incredibly tedious. I did a little long-short-long-short pattern to make it pretty and so I could tell the difference between thread tracing and any basting I would do. Keep the fabric pinned to the paper if you want. I didn't need to because my fabric was actually pretty agreeable so I just kept it flat on the table. You might also want to have a stiff drink while you do this. And don't forget to use a separate thread for each edge. If you get to a corner, stitch a little bit past it and start again with a new thread, instead of trying to, like, go around the corner. See the pic below?

Oh, I probably should have mentioned at the beginning, this works best if you're hand stitching the seams. Which you are, right? Yeah, you might want to pour yourself another. Good luck!

Monday, 6 June 2016

Chambray shirtdress take 2

Hello friends! I'm taking a break from posting about my bias gown to share some pics of my second chambray dress.

Perfect for hanging out in the back yard! I love those long summer days.

The chambray I used is really nice and light, so I can wear it in hot weather and still have my shoulders and arms covered. I've reached an age where I'm pretty worried about sun protection.

I used my old frienemy, 042010 long sleeve blouse from BurdaStyle. I just extended it from the bottom hem to make it into a dress. The pattern actually comes with longer pattern pieces to make a shirt dress but I've made so many changes to the shirt pattern I was not about to start that shit over again. Nuh-uh.

I actually started this dress before the other chambray shirtdress but I had given up because I thought that this one was going to be too small in the hips. I tried it on once I sewed up the side seams and thought it wasn't going to fit and just gave up. I must have been on drugs or something. I tried it again a few weeks later and now I'm so happy with it!

My friend Gus came by to say hello and help with some weeding. He's a good boy!

I love that I can link to my pinterest boards! Here's my inspiration board for this dress. I guess I still haven't nailed the cool-casual accessorizing. Need some wedge espadrilles, sun hat, bracelets and a leather purse. And longer legs!

Saturday, 4 June 2016

What's a great dress without the perfect hair?

Guys, my dress is smashing! I can't wait to post pics, but while those are in the works I want to share with you the journey I've been on to achieve the perfect hair.

In my research for the dress, I fell in love with the illustrations on the pattern envelopes I was seeing online. So elegant!

I liked the finger wave and I knew I wanted the back up off my neck, to maximize the drama of the open back.

I did briefly consider the poodle updo, but I worried that it might look a little more I Love Lucy than I really wanted.

Maybe next time ; p

In the end, though, I really did want to try some finger waves and a faux bob. possibly influenced by all the Downton Abbey I've been watching lately (I know DA is the wrong era but there are definitely some style elements that lasted into the mid-thirties, which is what I was going for).

I really had no idea where to start so I got on Pinterest and Youtube and just started trying things!

Heh. I heat set pin curls, then used a brush, comb, fingers and clips to set the waves.

Hmmm... not quite right.

Closer! I experimented with different curl patterns (like how I segmented my hair for curling and what direction I curled it in). The waves were still a little looser than I wanted here, though. I was using my 1" curling iron. Also the back looks like barf. It's really hard to get it nice when I can't see what I'm doing!!!

Even closer! My friend helped me track down a 1/2" curling iron on a trading network. You can see the waves are much tighter and more defined with the smaller curls. It's starting to look more and more like the pattern illustrations! The back was still pretty messy at this point but I eventually got it under control when I realized that I only really needed finger waves in the front, so I didn't have to curl things as tightly in the back as the front. It made it a lot easier to gather it all into a chignon at the base of the skull.

Downside of using the 1/2" curling iron, thought, is that it takes, like, hours to curl my hair with it, since I have to work in such small sections!

I can't wait to show you the final version! You can check out all the tutorials I used on the Pinterest board.

(Edited to fix link to Pinterest board)