May 2008

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Vogue 2017, copyright date 1997.

“Fitted, interfaced, lined, above hip jacket has raised neckline, shoulder pads, side panels, no side seams and long, two-piece sleeves with button vent. Semi-fitted, interfaced, line, straight skirt above mid-knee or above ankle, has waistband, side front seams, no side seams and side front button closing.”

I could happily and make and wear this RIGHT NOW – except that I couldn’t be bothered altering that pattern UP so many sizes. When I have lost more weight, though, look out!

I was feeling guilty about my pattern stash – so many patterns that are still in factory folds – but now I look on them as inspiration. As in – I want to wear that!

Just watched Trinny and Susannah‘s show where they fit 1000 women in the right size bra. I cried. Seeing someone transformed by something so simple as actually being fitted properly – wow.

This ties in with my new sig line over on PatternReview.com (and something I have expressed previously on this blog) NO MORE FRUMPY CLOTHES! I’m getting closer to feeling able to try some new things for example – I really really REALLY want to make this dress.

Butterick 5001

The new things are: I haven’t made anything in knits for a really long time; and – I haven’t ever made anything that looks quite this glamorous. But I’m so sick of frumping around in baggy mens size t-shirts and jeans… I bought a size 24, even though my current measurements are closer to the 26 – but that’s where the pattern range split, and I can see myself using the smaller sizes soooooon.

(Ummmm – at the moment ANYTHING that’s not superfrump = glamorous. I’ll work up to actual evening gowns if I ever have a life that needs them, yes?!)

My excuses for not starting this dress right away, even though I have some lovely stretch fabric that I could use:

  • I’m waiting on some thread for my overlocker (woolly polyester) although I could just use the plain thread that I already have, it just would make a slightly less nice seam finish…
  • I should buy something cheaper to make up as a muslin first (cheaper than $20 per metre for knit that drapes the same way? Dream on!)
  • I don’t have room to cut the dress out (unless I actually – *gasp* made the effort to shift the lounge room furniture and vacuum the floor)
  • I can’t sew when I’m tired (well, in that case maybe I should just lie down in bed and never get up again, eh? LIVE WITH IT!)

Hmm. I may have just run out of excuses.

* Must be read in ABFab Eddy voice, dahhhling!

Christian Lacroix on FashionWell, I TOTALLY score at the town library today – one of the books I have been COVETING but had no $$ to buy (since I spent up big on patterns and had to renew my domain hosting – life’s tough, innit?)

Christian Lacroix On Fashion (ISBN-13: 978-0500513910) is a book to LUST after if you have even the tiniest interest in fashion and the history of dress. After several introductory essays, we get down to the business at hand, as described by CL himself:

“This is not a retrospective, but my own look at the costume collections of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, from which I chose pieces from all eras, some never before exhibited. I chose those that were most inspiring, those that best told the story of fashion that I would have wanted to tell if I were the museum curator that I intended to be when I was a student.”

And of course being a Thames and Hudson book, everything about it is superb. (long time readers of my blog have probably already picked up on my obsession with books that are well constructed and well designed. I find it really difficult to read badly designed and poorly made books, ugh.)

The photography is brilliant, with the garmetns showcased amongst ( what I assume must be) the warehouse of the museum. Of course, I would have loved more detail shots, but we can’t have everything (and there is always the wonderful Fashion In Detail series – I only own the 17th and 18th Century one, but I would love to own the 19th C, Around the World, and Modern Fashion all from the V & A Museum ).

I know that this is a book I will want to go back to over and over again- every page is inspiring – the details, the colours, the cut! And the photos are arranged in sensible categories such as “”Flowers”, “Back to Front” and “Cobwebs”. Part of the joy of this book is looking at a double spread of clothes then flicking to the catalogue details, only to find that an outfit that looked like one era is in fact from another period entirely. The first photos in any category showcase some of Lacroix’s (how does one add the possessive there? that doesn’t look quite right) own designs – which emphasizes his mastery of historical material and genius for re-invention.

The last section of the book features computer generated sketches (apparently now his favourite way of working) for both his history of fashion and the Fall-Winter 2007-8 haute couture collection. I had never seen these drawings before – and yet they are in the loose flowing “ink and colour” style of several of my favourite illustrators (Ralph Steadman, Ronald Searle, Gerald Scarfe immediately come to mind)

I’m off to watch Grand Designs (it was a beautifully transformed church in Ireland – sigh!); then I think my notebooks and I will be spending a few happy hours with this book.

I’ve been looking at this “Gypsy Gripper” tool and saw on live at the Stitches and Craft show last week. It’ s the same tool that glass repair people use to lift panes of glass – a really good lock on suction handle. Someone had the wonderful idea of using them to hold your big (and little!) patchwork rulers steady while you use a rotary cutter.

So – did I pay approx $36 for the “official” patchwork version? NOPE!

I went to Aldi who had them on special this week for $10.

And it works BRILLIANTLY!!

If you’re only using a small ruler, you just flip one of the little levers down to hold onto that.

So – locals – they were at the Clifford Garden store, right down the back.

serging book with my small sample

I bought an overlocker (serger for those Norte Americanos who might be reading!) in (mumble mumble does a quick count back on fingers) 2004. And have hardly used it all. Not least because I kept meaning to go in for classes, and then the dealer closed…

Then the other week we happened on this book for ONE DOLLAR. I can’t pass up just about ANY book for that price (it’s a sickness, and it’s hereditary – I come from a long line of bibliophiles) and this one – well, I think I might have even paid *gasp* full retail price for! (ooh, grammar. Never mind…)

Okay, it’s from 1992; but the basic info is all good, even if the illustrations look terribly dated now (Aww. come on – you KNOW we all wanted to look so glamorous with those big bows on our butts! I can remember coveting exactly that dress on my best friend’s sister…)

Anyway, with the help of the clear and well labelled diagrams, today I managed to:

  • Clean and oil the beastie (hmm the only one of my machines not to have a name, I think, which tells you how very slight our relationship has been ’til now)
  • Work out the hieroglyphics on the program card: squiggle glob glob 1/1 triangle triangle square actually means: rolled-hem-stitch-width-adjuster-thingummy DOWN! Ahhh!!!
  • Re-learned how to change threads without having the re-thread the beastie (cool!)
  • Have a go at actually doing a rolled hem (with view to using it on the skirt that I posted as “almost finished” this week – just need the hem, and a hook and eye at the waist- arrrgh!) AND refined it to get a better look AND  now I know which thread to change so I get the right colour on top.
  • Have dug out the extra feet that were a bonus with the machine and actually worked out what they are – next step, using them!

Mr Beloved reminds me that we went to a Stitches and Craft show in 2005 where the rather enthusiastic speaker was extolling the virutes of the serger – and made an unfortunate series of hand gestures which triggered this cartoon:

So now I know – it has a name – Die (Der? Das? Just what gender IS a serger, anyway?) Uberlocker.

I’m off to play with some more samples.

    Yep, that’s right: ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN POINT FOUR kilograms is what I just weighed in at! (that’s 245.6 lbs.) I am seriously HAPPY about that! My heaviest was 125 kg, last year.

    No other news – just had to share the excitement!

    NOT!!!!

    As Sue mentioned, there was SUCH A DEAL on Simplicity patterns over at Pattern Review (25% off!, May 5 to May 12)

    So I finally after drooling over this design for EVAH (well, not really , just since it was released on the Simplicity site) ordered 2981. No reviews yet on Pattern Review, though, so I’ll be flying solo! I was still hesitant about it since the long sleeved version needs – wait for it – 7 and a half yards of 45″ wide or 5 and three quarter yards of 60″ wide!

    But then Sue said “Buy something cheap and we’ll stamp it!” DUH! Of course! That’s brilliant! I mean, what’s the point of having those dyes and fabric paints if I can’t use them to dress up some plain fabric, right?! Clever Sue.

    And then, cos I was REALLY ANNOYED when I went into *chain sewing store* that the patterns I wanted were $Au 25 EACH, I ordered Vogue 8120 which looked utterly FABULOUS made up when we saw it recently at the Stitches and Craft Show but is just – blah! – in the illustration:

    This doesn’t show you the way the funnel neck hides the fat pad at the base of the neck (yeah, you know what I mean, anyone over about a size – hmmm – 14?)

    I may have ordered another one. Or two. Perhaps.

    And now I am anxiously eagerly awaiting the arrival of the March Burda World Of Fashion magazine, and Burda Plus (surely THIS must be the month it gets here?) and the latest Ottobre woman mag – and then I will be on a “NO MORE PATTERNS til I have sewn up this lot” regime! (Well, except for the monthly Burda WOF, but I do send most of those on to Mum -right, Mum?!)

    And now – to bed. I have an appointment with the exercise physiologist at 9 am for a “Heart Rate Monitored Walk” complete with multiple blood tests for lactic acid production. After which I am meant to know exactly what heart rate I need to walk at to burn fat best. Wish me luck!

    ARRRRRRRGH!!

    I though I’d make a simple little skirt, nothing flash. I chose this pattern:

    Dead simple, innit?

    Bought cheap fabric which I thought would do for a knock-around sort of skirt.

    BUT – first I cut it out in the wrong size. And blithely sewed it up without fitting cos well – I’m ALWAYS the biggest size, aren’t I.

    Except I completely failed to take into account the recent weight loss. La la la, try it on to see hem length – and watch it fall straight to my ankles, since the waist is the only fitted place on the skirt. Oops.

    Unpick the whole thing and start again. (And leave it for a few more days.)

    Re-cut, sewed next size down. (Leave it for another few days.)

    Decided to use invisible zip.

    Put it in back to front.

    Unpick.

    Try another method of inserting invisible zip – hmm, right way this time, but not really invisible!

    Mr Beloved (quite rightly) insists I have a cuppa tea.

    Get out The Book (so glad I found it – safely filed under my sewing machine. D’OH!). When Ms Betzina says “Idiot Proof invisible zipper” – she means it’s even CAITY proof! (Although for a moment due to my complete directional dyslexia I thought I’d sewn it back to front again – but then I zipped it up. Ahem.)

    But then – the waistband treatment on the pattern was STUPID. Using narrow (half inch wide) twill tape to finish the waistband as though you were using petersham? DOESN’T WORK. It just doesn’t. There isn’t enough width to turn the top of the waistband down.

    No worries, I’ll buy petersham (it’s a ribbon, with unlocked edges so you can make it curve – see here for an illustration.) Eventually found some at Lincr*p today – in only one size, one colour, and well hidden away from any other ribbon. (Yeah, that makes sense… NOT!) And at $4.99 per metre!! When I know (thanks to the girls on Pattern Review) That I can buy the same width from the USA in a gazillion different colours , for $US 2.89 per yard… and the postage isn’t much.

    But – I wanted to wear the skirt tomorrow, perhaps. So I lashed out ($2.99!) on a packet of pre-made bias binding. All was going FINE With that until… I notice I had sewn the invisible zipper in about a quarter of an inch HIGHER on one side than the other.

    FLIPPIN’ HECK! I can’t believe all the hassles that have come up with one little skirt!! All stupid little mistakes that I shouldn’t be making – although, it HAS been a while since I’ve sewn clothes. Mostly because at my current size and shape it’s pretty much like sewing circus tents.

    No progress photos – they’d mostly be of me TEARING MY HAIR OUT. But here’s a photo of the almost finished skirt:

    Caity in new skirt

    Which is now TOO BIG again!

    I don’t care. I’m going to hem the damn thing and take it in at the waist with a safety pin on each side for a couple of weeks.

    (Actually, I might make it again next week- with the petersham waist band – and another size smaller.)

    Well we did go down the hill to the Stitches and Craft Show, and I must say Sue and I were both quite restrained in our spending! It was wonderful to go with another sewing type, really changed the focus. We watched most of the fashion parades and found them really worthwhile – proving again that the illustrations on some patterns do NOT do them justice.

    For example this jacket – a bit *meh* on the pattern, but STUNNING made up – a really versatile little jacket. Stephanie (Perpetual Patterns & Can Do Books) had sold out at the show, so I might have to mail order it.

    There was one model in the show that was a size 14, D cup – and admittedly she was nearly 6 foot tall, but she was NOT a lightweight skinny minny – so wonderful to see a REAL size model looking great in the clothes on parade.

    There were no photos allowed in the show (pity, since some of the clothes made up from commercial patterns really were scrummy) and the art garments by Ruth Osborne, Kirry Toose and Trudy Billingsley were full of interesting ideas for lesser mortals to borrow. Sue Neall (of Stitches, the Australian Sewing Guild and now Sew Inspirational) did a great job hosting and explaining the parades, and also managed a quick change for each parade – the woman never stops!

    Another pattern that was definitely a “flick past” in the pattern book but absolutely stunning made up – this little crossover top , Vogue 8120. We saw this made up in knits and in several colours – it looked smashing.

    Vogue 8335As did the tunic and flat front (but elastic waisted – very nice, not your granny’s elastic waist!)pants in  Vogue 8335. Again – not a stunning illustration, but wow, terrific sewn up.

    I mentioned that I was reading Pattern Review before heading down – I only ended up buying one pattern – the Sewing Workshop Mimosa Top and Pant.

    (I know, a bit summery – but I’m planning on wearing long sleeves under it. And the pant looks very flattering.)

    Kerryn (of the astonishing makeovers in Stitches magazine) was at the Australian Sewing Guild stand at the show, and I showed her the pattern for the top – she suggested that on my figure, extending the bottom edge to a diagonal would be more flattering that having a strong horizontal line just above my hips. I’m definitely making a muslin first one this one.

    Japanese Fabric

    And this is the fabric I bought (from here – they don’t have fabrics on their website, but will very soon) to make the top. Now that I look at it draped on me I’m wondering if the print is a bit blocky… what do you think? It’s more rust/brown/tan than the orange-y flash photo shows, really – but I think it’s ok with my colouring?

    Wait ’til you see the fabulously wearable fabric Sue bought – oh my, just swoooony!

    I would have loved to go to some of the workshops that the Australian Sewing Guild was running – but there just wasn’t time.  Maybe next year…

    The great and wonderful John Cargher

    A sad day – John Cargher has gone.  I loved listening to Singers of Reknown – and he recorded his last program (after 42 years!) only last week.

    He was so generous with his knowledge, the program was a joy to listen to, and opened my ears and mind to a lot of music I otherwise wouldn’t have known about.

    (If you’ve never heard his voice, do pop over to the site and download a program – it’s lovely.)

    Thanks to everyone who cheered me on in my weight loss. IT REALLY HELPS! And we are soooo enjoying life without the neighbour Weasel. Oooh, he was a horrid little man. We have 10 neighbours (we own a long narrow block that runs along a lot of backyards) and only ever have real problems with 2 of the houses. Here’s hoping the next lot of renters are quiet people.

    Power SewingEver been in the situation where you KNOW you’ve got a book, but just can’t find it? I’m not even sure if I’ve seen it since the move to Toowoomba, but I’m sure I wouldn’t have (deliberately!) got rid of it – arrgggh! I’ve been looking for this book for DAYS now. I don’t think I’ve lent it to anyone… if I did, please let me know, eh? It’s one of those really handy reference books, and I’m missing it!

    I’m definitely headed down the hill tomorrow for the Stitches and Craft Show. I’m really looking forward to going with Sue – at last, another sewing chick! Tonight I’m digging through patterns and reading reviews (PatternReview.com – awesome value!) to see what I should spend my limited $$ on.

    In all the digging around, I did re-find (is that even a word? UNEARTHED, perhaps – I swear, the Time Team would have their work cut out for them amongst all my stuff!)

    [click to see bigger images]

    Vogue 1407

    This is Vogue 1407, and has someones name and 4/4/66 written on the front. New in Factory Folds! Of course, nowhere near my size – but it’s very close to the size I will be at my goal weight, I hope.  “Narrow, sleeveless dress with a two-piece look at front has a deep V Surplice neckline. Wrapped coat swings wide, three quarter length set in sleeves.” It’s so NOW I’m almost tempted to grade it up and make it… almost! The front wrap over is actually an overlay on an otherwise plain sheath dress, but doesn’t it look good? (and why are the instructions on a 1966 pattern SO MUCH BETTER than instructions on current patterns, hmm?) Although this is one of those vintage patterns where the only markings you get are perforated dots. And this is the little blurb about the designer:”JO MATTLI (Mattly) – Swiss charm and Parisian taste combine in the designs of this member of London’s couture group. Mr Mattli has designed the clothes for many English films.”

    I think I paid 20cents for this pattern at an op shop. Whereas tomorrow I’ll probably be paying $30 for this pattern – if I can get it! Or this one….or maybe this one?

    And now I’d better go turn up the hem on my other pair of jeans – don’t think it would be cool to wander around a Stitches and Craft Show and watch the fashion parades with my jeans rolled – ugh!

    [later ETA: But first, I have to go sort through all the art materials that were previously stashed under the kitchen table, as Mr Beloved just had to pull them all out to retrieve a mrrrrrrrooooooouuuuuuusssse! that Miss Kitty Bing brought in as part of her “catch and release” program – she’s still looking for it, but it’s dead and gone into the bin – ewwwwwwwww!]

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