Winner of Tardis Top Giveaway

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I’m delighted to announce that the winners of the Tardis Top Giveaway are Tegan and her daughter Clara. Tegan said:

That is amazing! My daughter’s name is Clara, named after the most recent companion, and my name is Tegan, who was a companion in the 80’s. To say we are obsessed with Dr who would be an understatement! Clara would wear this top everywhere!

Tegan can you please send me a message with your details and I will pop it in the post to you. Email is : thesedaysarefew at gmail.com

I know your little one is too little to care too much what she’s wearing but I hope you enjoy seeing her wear it 🙂

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R2D2 in glittering gold

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No it’s not subtle, but it is awesome! And better yet I got to embarrass my children in public at the midnight Rogue One premiere late last year. This skirt required 3.2 m of specialty print from Spotlight and no pattern. Pre-washing fabric is pretty much a belief system for me, but this time I didn’t because I wanted the crispness and body of the fabric just as it comes off the roll. The gaudy gold surface print also helps its stiffness but I think it will be droopier once it’s washed. I may or may not wear it again so I didn’t want to go to too much trouble with zips or buttons and decided on a simple half elasticated waist, of the sort you often find in children’s clothes (elastic at the back, flat waistband at the front). Because it was a last minute decision to make it at all, I sewed it the evening of the event I was wearing it to, so time was of the essence. I had cut it out the previous evening but started the actual sewing about 6pm.

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Trying not to laugh at the cat antics
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Wrestling with Miles tabby cat

I had cut four panels, the full width of the fabric x 75cm long, and a waistband long enough to fit over my hips (I cut the waistband the width of some nice wide elastic I had in the drawer). The plan was to have the front of the waistband sit flat, with elastic inserted into the back, so I needed the front section to fit my waist measurement and the rest of the waistbands’s length to be in the back – after I joined the waistband into a loop, I marked the front centre, and the two side points accordingly.

I might decide to sell the skirt on Ebay later so I did make sure it was finished nicely, and sewed the four skirt panels together with French seams. I then marked the skirt into four equal sections with the marks halfway between each of the seams, so that the seams would be offset from the centre lines. I gathered the skirt to the waistband, wrong side of skirt to right side of the inside of the waistband, matching the marks. Since the back part of the waistband would get pulled in further by elastic, the back gathering didn’t have to get pulled in as tight as the front gathering.

It was all going so smoothly up to this point that I thought it was going to be over and done with in two hours flat, but of course I managed to put the waistband upside down with poor R2D2 standing on his head! There was about an hour of sulking, trying to convince myself I didn’t care, and popping out for take-away chicken and chips, but I knew it would bug me if I didn’t fix it, so after some sustaining tastiest-chicken-and-chips-in-the-world from our local shop, I unpicked and regathered the right way up. The one thing I should have done and didn’t think of, was to interface the front part of the waistband. It sits ok but would have been better interfaced.

Once the skirt was gathered onto the waistband, I ironed under the seam allowance on the other edge, and turned the waistband to the outside. I pinned it in place, then stitched just the back section  from one side point to the other, stitching over the previous seamline very close to the folded edge. I threaded a piece of elastic through the back waistband and tried the skirt on, adjusting it to a comfy fit, then sewed vertically across the waistband at the side points to anchor the elastic. Finally I stitched the front section of the waistband in place, and did a twice folded small hem on the bottom of the skirt, meaning all seams are enclosed.

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It was so much fun wearing this to the midnight screening. As I mentioned in my previous post I wore it with a black t-shirt, and a C-3PO brooch made from a lego mini-fig. There were heaps of people dressed in Star Wars cosplays – lots of Jedis and Vaders, some storm-troopers, a few Leias, plus many Star Wars t-shirts, quite a few amazing props like pilots’ helmets and cardboard ships, and a surprising number of space buns on both men and women. I wasn’t expecting to love this skirt so much, but I’m really pleased with it. So much so I think I might make another version in a more mainstream fabric. I did think I’d sell it after the one wear, but I’m finding the thought of parting with it is harder than I expected so maybe I’ll hang onto it and wear it to the next Star Wars premiere.

Felted bag

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I’ve been wanting to make one of these for ages and have been keeping my eye out for a suitable woolen jumper. It needed to be pure wool labeled hand wash only in order to felt nicely.  I finally picked up the perfect one at Goodwill for a few dollars.

First I put the jumper through a soapy hot wash in the washing machine. Then I tumble dried it. It came out nicely felted.

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FB_IMG_1491394969269I found some nice scraps that match well for the pocket and zip linings and lined the body of the bag with some leftover grey corduroy. I always think a strap looks more professional if it has at least a bit of metal hardware on it somewhere and I had the perfect piece in my drawers.  The strap’s a bit stretchy but otherwise I love it, especially all the pockets!

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Blue Sailboats

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Quick post of a dress I made just before Christmas. It’s funny I don’t think this dress is the most flattering thing I own but I’ve worn it a lot this summer.  I wore it to my uncle’s 80th in Sydney, and have worn it quite a lot to work on hot days – it’s quite heavy fabric but I think it might be a linen cotton mix as it feels very comfy in the heat. The weight of the fabric means the pleated skirt has a bit of body and flares nicely. And it is most excellent for cycling in because it’s heavy enough not to blow up and show ones knickers!

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The pattern is actually a complete hack of the pattern I made my bicycles dress from.  The bodice of that one is a cross over but it fit so nicely I just overlaid the pattern pieces and used them for this one.  Then the skirt is just randomly pleated by me until I got something I was happy with. It doesn’t really wrinkle like that in the back, that’s just me posing weirdly.

There’s a side zip and  lapped press stud closure hidden inside the side pleats, modeled on the pattern for the other vintage dress I sewed recently. I like this better with a cardie than without so with the heavier fabric I think I might continue to wear it a bit in winter with tights.

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Good dog

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I used to have an awesome t-shirt with K9 from Doctor Who on it, it was black, with a silver K9. I wore it to death, and sad was the day when I had to consign it to the bin.

So then I bought a new, yellow t-shirt from Red Bubble, with a nice big K9 on it, but it was kind of yellower than I thought. Very, very yellow. Almost gold in fact (which is what the colour is called so I kinda should have expected it), and I only wore it about twice. At the same time I bought the t-shirt I bought some amazing striped fabric from Spoonflower to make a long sleeved t-shirt to wear under the yellow K9 shirt, but we know how that t-shirt worked out. This afternoon I decided to hack the yellow shirt and make a new version with the stripes. It’s turned out to be my new awesome K9 shirt. Recognise the stripe colours?

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The pattern is Ottobre 5/2008 Raglan t-shirt. I traced the size that matched my bust measurement but when I looked at the pattern pieces they looked too small, so I checked and the t-shirt bust measurement was going to end up with about 8cm negative ease! Being too lazy to trace a new size I just enlarged it when I cut it, placing the pattern pieces about 1cm away from the centre folds, and also adding 1cm to each side of both body pieces. I held the sleeve pieces on my arms and they looked way too small too, so I also added about 2 cm in width to those at the underarm, tapering to the actual pattern width after the elbow. I don’t know what Ottobre were intending but the sizing seems a little weird on this one. My fabric is quite stretchy but I wouldn’t have wanted it cut as small as the pattern.

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I had 1m of fabric but the repeat of the stripes is quite a long way apart, so even with that much fabric for a t-shirt, I had trouble fitting it on and matching the stripes. I got them to match at the side seams, but couldn’t make them match at the raglan sleeves and still fit them on. So I shortened the sleeves to bracelet length to fit them on and have them at least match each other. I think they look fine though with the raglan sleeve seams not being colour-matched. I did the neck band in the traditional way of seaming it into a circle, folding it with wrong sides matching, and stretching it to fit, which I like for this shirt but did make it difficult to judge how long it needed to be. It was too long the first time and bagged out at the neck so I had to unpick and redo. I like it now though. I used a double needle to do the narrow hem on the sleeves and hem.

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K9 himself has been appliqued using Vliesofix. I cut him out of the t-shirt with a few mm of yellow showing, ironed him onto the striped shirt front, then machine zig-zagged all the way around him with a narrow stitch. I agonised over where to put him but I think he’s ended up slightly too far to the left. Never mind. In case you didn’t work it out, the stripes are the pattern of the scarf worn by the Doctor who was played by Tom Baker. He was my first Doctor when I was a small child, watching the Daleks from my spot hiding behind the lounge!

Orange Firebirds – Sewing the 70s

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I have no idea what sort of birds these are! But I was crazy about phoenixes in the 70s (Phoenix and the Carpet anyone?@?), so I’m pretending they’re phoenixes, ie firebirds, since it sounds cool.

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Jazz hands!

Excuse the weird photos.  The light was odd, so I tried fiddling with the settings on my phone camera. Which really just made it worse. So I tried to fix the overexposure in editing, even worser.  Then I had daughter #1 taking photos, and she kept trying to take them from her navel, aka looking up my nose. And it was blowing a gale.  Oh well, you get the picture.

I looove this fabric.  It’s from  The Needleworks at Marion and is a beautiful quality stretch cotton sateen. I coveted it the instant I set eyes on it but resisted initially as I’m not exactly short on fabric at the moment. Then I went back quite some weeks later and it was still there, which was clearly a sign, right? Plus it was on sale the second time so really that’s two signs…

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Chic chicks.

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The pattern is from 1977, picked up at on op shop recently. I wanted to choose a fairly basic style that would allow the large print to be seen and this fits the bill. The bonus is that it also fits the criteria for the ‘Sewing the Seventies’ challenge from Steely Seamstress.

The tunic looks pretty much like the picture except that I added in splits at the sides and finished them with bias binding, plus added a longer hem to give the lower section a bit more weight at the splits. I love the pockets in the picture but didn’t want to spoil the print this time.

The points at the neck were too high initially so I took them down about 3cm. And I also used bias on the sleeve hems.

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The zip is a bit of a fail since the only orange one I had was shorter than it was supposed to be.  I used it anyway, but realistically it hasn’t made it easier to get on and off and I could have done without it completely.  The only consolation is that the pattern stripe matching on the zip is kickarse, if I do say so myself.

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When I cut it out I was focusing on the pattern up near the face, so was quite chuffed when I realised that the pattern placement at the hips almost looks like a belt. I now have something orange to wear for Harmony Day which is coming up soon. And I even picked up a couple of bangles that match perfectly for $1 each when op shopping. My (also thrifted) jeans are looking a bit tired. I think a lighter blue pair would look nice with this. What do you think? An excuse to buy more fabric?

 

Monkey business

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From the sublime to the mundane – after the stress of The Dress, I needed to sew something quick and fun. So I made some knickers! I’ve included a couple of pairs I made late last year in this post.  They were for one of the kids and I made them out of old tops, using some worn out undies as a template. They’re pretty cute I think, especially the pair with the hamburger on the bottom, even if it did have to be cut off centre to fit. I made a couple more pairs but they’re in the wash.

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The monkey pairs were run up this evening using the same method, cutting up an old pair as a template. And I shame-facedly present the sadly holey evidence of why they were only fit to be chopped up. I bought the cute sock monkey fabric from Spotlight intending to sew more underwear for the girls but they all proclaimed the monkeys too creepy.  Apparently button eyes are scary.  Which is weird because I think they’re cute. Whatever, I claimed the fabric for me instead. I could have got 4 pairs if I’d cut a couple of the backs upside down but I decided I wanted my monkeys upright.

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The elastic is from the most amazing stash I picked up a few weeks ago at a Lifeline op shop.  By my reckoning there’s about 150m for $28. Isn’t it awesome!! So obviously I need to make lots more undies…

The Magnificent Embroidered Silk

20170224_164327I really think it has turned out magnificently! So here is a rather long post describing the process.

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20170224_163012To start at the beginning… My beautiful second daughter had her yr 12 school formal this week. For US readers, that’s the Australian version of a senior prom. The eldest didn’t go to formal, she’s not into dances and dressing up, but this one was always going to be a big deal. Laura has been thinking and planning for months. As a fashion design student and keen fashionista she wanted something a bit different, but when we went searching all the formal wear shops (and I mean all of them, sigh) in the Christmas holidays, it was all depressingly boring and plain. So many traditional bridesmaid style dresses, so much sameness. I never really wanted to make her dress, way too much pressure if you ask me, and although I’m a pretty good seamstress if I do say so myself, the last real formal wear I sewed was my bridesmaid dresses, 23 years ago. But in the end Laura decided the only way to get what she wanted was to get me to make it, so I finally gave in.

We knew straight away where we’d get the fabric – the wonderful Eastern Silk shop which is just around the corner from my workplace. The fabric is a glorious embroidered dupion silk and the lining is also silk. I found it absolutely wonderful to work with and am so glad we didn’t choose a slippery fabric. The dupion is very robust, and put up with a fair few unpickings without showing the marks. I’m a complete fan now of the silk lining, also wonderful to work with, strong and fine but not slippery.

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Laura had a specific design in mind. She’d tried on and photographed a couple of dresses that she liked the bodice design of, if not the fabric, and she had several ‘inspiration’ designer dresses she’d seen online that we could only ever afford in her dreams! Although I’ve drafted simple patterns occasionally in the past, and I’m confident doing alterations, I didn’t feel I had the skill to draft this dress, we needed a pattern. We spent ages looking through the pattern books, but eventually decided that a pattern I already had could be altered for the bodice, and just by chance picked up a pattern for the skirt in an op shop for $1.50. The final dress has a bodice which is a combination of the two different bodices in Butterick  5181, and the skirt from Simplicity 2398 view A.The bodice has two separate cups attached to the bodice band like views A and B, but has very narrow straps like views C and D.

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20170219_174407.jpgThe embroidered silk is very strong but relatively thin where it’s not embroidered, so  I decided to line the entire thing with a reasonably thick, soft flannel fabric.I wanted something with the same amount of give as the silk (ie very little) and the flannel fit the bill. The front band, and both top back and bottom back sections of the bodice are boned, using flexible plastic boning which is just zigzagged to the flannel on the side closest to the lining. I LOVED doing the boning. There are 16 pieces of boning and I singed both ends of each piece using a cigarette lighter. It was so much fun. All that fire (laughs wildly…) After I’d stitched the boning in, I ironed a strip of interfacing over each one to add a bit of cushioning since the silk lining is very fine. You can see in the photo above, the way the pieces of boning are positioned means that the ends of each piece are also cushioned by the seam allowances folding up/down over them. If they weren’t they would probably have needed something stitched over the ends to stop them digging in.

The dress has taken a very long time to sew, partly because I’ve had a lurking terror the whole time that I was going to stuff it up. So every single step has involved massive amounts of procrastination. Which is ridiculous because it hasn’t actually been that hard to sew, it’s just needed lots of attention to detail. The challenge was more in the fitting, but once I got the toile done and fitting well, it mostly came together nicely. Although I think I only finished it in the end because I was getting frustrated at not being able to sew anything else (self imposed) until it was done. Oh and the deadline of the event, there’s that!

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20170224_161545.jpgOne thing I did have difficulty with was the straps. Laura wanted them really narrow, but I couldn’t for the life of me get the rouleaus I’d made to turn out. I think it was precisely because the silk is not slippery, so I couldn’t get it moving through the narrow channels. So we ended up buying ready made rouleau cord from Spotlight. Easy solution and it matches beautifully! Ideally the straps should have been enclosed in the bodice at the back but I needed to wait until the dress was nearly finished to cut them to the right length, so they are just hand-stitched to the already finished bodice as the very last step of construction.

The only major mistake I made was that I constructed the bodice by sewing the front and back top sections together at the side seams, and then lining those sections, then sandwiching them all at once into the lower bodice sections. This looks lovely both inside and out, however it then meant the lining of the top bodice back wasn’t able to separate when I came to put the zip in. So the bodice and lining had to be treated as one piece to attach the zip. This worked fine, but I’ve had to then handsew some ribbon over the zipper tape to neaten it on the inside.What I should have done is construct and line the cups, then sandwich them into the front bodice band; sew the top back bodice pieces to the back bodice bands, do the same with the back bodice lining pieces, and just attach the lining to the bodice along the top seam; then sandwich the front bodice between the back bodice and its lining at the side seams. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!

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Other than the zip’s rather messy construction I found it really challenging to get the zip in the right spot. I’d left quite a bit of spare fabric for fitting, but how to pin it on my daughter so the dress was nice and tight (so it would stay up) and then accurately mark where the zip would go was really tricky. I ended up just using pins to mark the centre back, while I pulled it firm, and then working it out from there after I’d taken it off her, but I was really quite amazed when it did actually fit just right. I did say to Laura that if she wants me to make her wedding dress it better not be for at least another 10 years as it will take me that long to be ready to put myself through this trauma again!

The skirt lining was another casualty of the bodice construction mistake. It’s too complicated to explain why, but I decided the best way to end up with it free to attach separately to the zip was to handsew it onto the bodice. It looks good. We had a lot of to-ing and fro-ing about whether to put some tulle on the skirt lining, but Laura chose not to in the end, she thought it flared out enough without it. She also debated the length, and whether an ankle length skirt would show off her gorgeous shoes better, but finally went with floor length as more elegant. The hem is narrow and hemmed with some grosgrain ribbon.

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20170224_163127I’m super proud of this dress, and of my beautiful 17 year old. The best thing is that she put it on and declared that she loved it. I just love that she had the confidence to wear something a bit different that suits her own sense of style, and she got to go to her formal feeling gorgeous.

Here’s just a few photos of the pre-formal party. We bought a stunning corsage from Flowers of Adelaide. They are a gorgeous florist in Torrensville where I’ve bought bouquets occasionally for birthdays etc. I knew they would do something elegant and they didn’t disappoint. Laura spoke to the florist herself and explained what she would like and they did a custom wrist corsage on a black ribbon. I especially love the succulents!

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And just to finish off… after being religious about keeping the cats off the fabric, and putting it away in the cupboard after each sewing session, Laura had finished her hair and make-up, and had just laid out the dress on the bed while she put her shoes on. We turned our backs for 2 minutes and look who took up very temporary(!) residence.