Wednesday, 26 October 2011

something new, something old, something blue.....

I didn't have a traditional wedding so I didn't get to fulfill that old wedding tradition.  Whilst I did wear something new, it was a bright red dress!

My latest finished project however certainly fits the bill.  When I put away my failed wool jacket a few weeks ago into my UFO pile of shame, something I hadn't added to for at least 2 years, I pulled out a project to finish to even up the balance.  Luckily I found a half finished dress that is quite unstructured and flowing (ie a shapeless sack) which even though is a non maternity pattern it still fits my now quite large bump.

I must have started this dress over 10 years ago, because all the seams aren't overlocked despite them fraying like crazy and since I've owned my overlocker I overlock everything.  The reason this became a long term UFO is that I sewed the armhole facings on the wrong way, so they kept turning out despite me understitching and top stitching to get them to lay flat.  Once I realised what I had done wrong I must have tired of unpicking all that stitching because this fabric is a loose weave, the thread matched exactly and it was painful to say the least to undo it all.

But to make up for my recent UFO I persevered, and not only unpicked the facings, but also took out the centred back zipper so I could replace it with an invisible zip, and also unpicked the side seams so I could line the dress.  So essentially I started this dress from scratch!  

And in hindsight it was probably better that I didn't finish it at the time and instead let it sit until my sewing skills improved and my attention to detail increased.  If I had of finished it back then it would be a very unlovely potato sack and unlined despite the loose weave and risk for transparency because way back then I rarely bothered with fussy details such as lining!

I'm not a 100% sure since it's been so long since I started this project, but I think I used a now long OOP New Look 6355.  It's the closest match to the dress, although my dress seems to have extended shoulder straps that look a little like cap sleeves, which this pattern doesn't really show:


The fabric I used is some powder blue polyester/rayon (definitely a man made fabric) herringbone weave fabric, and I lined with with a thin cotton voile in pale grey so that I would have a natural fabric against my skin during the summer heat.  Since I wasn't entirely sure about the pattern, I used the dress fabric pieces as a pattern for the lining.  And here's what I came up with:



Unsurprisingly it's a little tight across the bust since I've had a bit of growth in that area since becoming pregnant, but amazingly it has enough room to cover my now 4 month belly and I should get a few more weeks wear out of it at a least.  Post pregnancy I could put some vertical darts in the front and back to give it more shape.  But for now if I wear it with a belt it gives a bit of definition and takes it away from the whole pregnancy smock look:



Although I must admit I'm a little on the fence when it comes to wearing a belt like this when pregnant: I've seen many pregnant women (both celebs and us mere mortals) dressed like that looking fantastic, but I feel a bit silly since it's rather pointless because it's not holding up your pants or defining your waistline! But whatever it takes to make yourself happy I guess.

I'm just as guilty though - I *may* have just ordered some maternity spanx for myself.  I bet you didn't even know such a thing existed right? Check these out:



I need a little support because I'm already sprouting an impressive forest of varicose veins on my thighs, plus last pregnancy I got the worse chafing between my chubby thighs so I think this will definitely help with that.  And if helps eliminate VPL and the jiggling going on back there these days, especially when wearing knit dresses, well that's just an added bonus I figure!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

when 2.5 year olds choose their own clothes....

Long time readers of my little blog may recall when I first announced Anna's birth I titled the post: "Introducing my future fashionista".  A little tongue in cheek of course, but I was sort of referring to how I expected her to behave in her teenage years or at worst in her tween years.  But it turns out that at the grand old age of 2 and a half, Anna has very firm ideas on what clothes she will wear each day.  Like mother like daughter I guess, because she has a definite preference for skirts and dresses (with stockings) over sensible day care clothes like tracksuit pants and shorts!

She's gotten a little cranky with me lately because all of the sewing I've done has been for me, so I decided to whip out some simple and very quick elastic waist skirts for her.  Seriously, what can be simpler or quicker than a piece of rectangle fabric with a seam at the back, a hem and an elastic waist? The hardest part was picking out the fabric, but once that was done it took about 30 minutes to sew these two up:




Happily she was very excited to see these two hanging in her cupboard and insisted on putting the blue skirt on straight away.  But for a simple trip down to the supermarket this is the ensemble she insisted on wearing:




Not too bad right? Well, have a look at what she chose to wear with it:


She was the best dressed toddler in Coles that day! Look out Zsa Zsa Gabor!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Burda 6/2008 #108 - non maternity dress for the growing belly

Goodbye cold, hello fabled second trimester energy spurt! Well mostly, I still have an annoying cough and the odd feeling of morning sickness now and then, but on the whole am feeling a million times better and have managed to get quite a lot done in the past few days.

First of my recently finished projects is this dress that just yesterday I finished hand sewing all the buttons (my button foot is broken, sigh) and wore today to my mum's birthday lunch:


It's made from Burda 6/2008 #108, which is a shirt dress with gathers at the waistline and the back:














It's not a maternity pattern, and nor does it appear to be overly potato sack like, but all I had to do to make it fit was to grade out from a size 36 at the bustline to a size 42 at the waistline and raise those gathers a little from just above the natural waistline to instead just under the bust to make an empire line.  And while it drapes nicely now over my four month bump:


it also has ample room to grow into as this gust of wind helpfully demonstrates:


The pattern calls for a self fabric encased elastic waistband from those darts in the front wrapping around to the darts in the back, but I left that off to make it easier to remove the darts one by one if needed due to belly expansion.  In fact I originally wanted to do a few lines of shirring in place of those darts so that it would stretch, but I just could not get my sewing machine to shirr which was annoying.  According to my google research a lot of people have trouble getting their Brother sewing machines to shirr, but even following this You Tube tutorial which describes adjusting the bobbin casing tension I still couldn't make mine work.  In fact all I achieved was to ruin the factory seal on my bobbin casing and I still can't get the tension back to how it was before I fiddled with it. 

I love this fabric, not only because it's grey but I like the subtle pattern and the crispness of the cotton.  I bought it from Spotlight maybe two years ago for no particular project but just because I like it, so I'm glad I finally found a worthy use for it.  And I'm not the only one either - after I posted a photo of the fabric on this post a little while back Claire emailed me to ask where I had purchased it from since she had been searching for it to replicate a H&M top she used to own which was made from the exact same print.

Anyway this was a super easy pattern and I can guarantee you will see another version of it since I bought some linen blend fabric last week to make another, and I will possibly make a shirt length version of it too.  It has raglan sleeves which makes construction quicker and easier, and I followed the David Coffin book for the shirt collar and stand (helpfully illustrated in this tutorial by Sigrid).  I especially love how the darts in front result in graceful folds in the skirt which isn't something apparent from the Burda model photo but is probably because I made the skirt wider from the bust down than the pattern is designed for.


Even the darts in the back deal with my swayback issue nicely without any pattern fiddling:


I should introduce you to my sewing friend, a display mannequin that comes with a detachable maternity belly that I bought for a bargain price on ebay a while back:


For the last year she's been standing naked in a corner of my sewing room, but is now certain to come in handy!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Burda 8/2009 #128 - the maternity version

Second week of my cold and I can't say I'm feeling any better at all.  My annoying dry cough is giving me major rib pain, but on the upside is driving my husband nuts which is payback for his snoring lately due to his hayfever which is driving me nuts! And I got to take another week off work, so there's always a silver lining to almost any situation.

But I did manage to squeeze in small spurts of sewing over the weekend, interspersed by longer bouts of laying on the lounge and I have completed the first of my maternity sewing.  Ironically it's not one of the projects I had lined up from the fabrics I posted about a few posts ago, but a spur of the moment dress based on my most worn and favourite Burda dress, no.128 from issue 8 of 2009.  It's the three quarter sleeved tulip dress which looks like this:

















My first version I made exactly as per the pattern, even down to the grey herringbone wool fabric and the grosgrain ribbon belt:

To say I love this dress is an understatement - I wear it frequently and it always makes me feel great, and ladylike.  Then I made a summer version in a bright fuchsia coloured stretch cotton drill with cap sleeves:

So I thought a maternity version of this dress would be a great addition to my work wardrobe.  And I had purchased some dark grey ponti fabric from Spotlight a few months ago when they had a 40% off sale which was just perfect for re-creating the original version I made.  And here it is:




I'm very pleased with how it turned out.  It fits nicely now, but still has enough room and stretch for me to grow into it for the next few months at least. And it was so simple to modify for a maternity version: I simply raised the waistline seam to an empire line, made the front skirt piece wider by 10cm and made each of those pleats a little deeper.  I had previously modified the back pattern piece from a single dress panel to a skirt and bodice, so I raised the waistline seam on the back to an empire waist as well to match the front.  I even remembered to make the dress longer at the front so the hem line dips down right now, but with a bit more growth in the belly area it will even out.

When I made the fuchsia version of this dress, I lined the bodice which enclosed the underside of the cap sleeve nicely.  I chose not to line this dress because I want to be able to wear it during summer but I was also too lazy to draft some armhole facings, so all I did was turn under the edge and top stitch it down.  It's hardly noticeable, and I really doubt anyone will be staring at my underarms!


The only thing annoying me is the front neckline is gaping open, which is not something I experienced in the two previous versions I made.  I don't know if it's because this is a stretchy knit and not a woven, or because I didn't interface the neckline, or possibly even a combination of both.  Looking at the photo of the Burda model I see her dress slightly gaping at the centre front too, so maybe we're both hunchers with our shoulders slouched forward! But I don't plan to undo it to fix it though, it's just something I'll live with.

And now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to once again consume my body weight in vitamin C and annoy my husband some more with my coughing!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

lounging around

My lounge and I have become the bestest of friends this week - since last Sunday I have had a terrible cold and a horribly annoying dry cough which is passing sooo slowly because when you're pregnant you can't take any of those fantastic cold + flu medicines that either dry you out or make you sleepy, either of which would be a godsend at this point in time. 

We went camping last weekend which was a long weekend with some friends, and after two days of good weather on Sunday the sky opened and there was torrential rain and gale force winds.  All around us tents were flattened or blown away completely, luckily ours was still standing.  Although that did mean we had to pack it away in the rain - all good fun though.  All the best camping stories have some sort of 'what were we thinking' component to them don't they?

So instead of having a productive long weekend and week sewing wise, instead all I have achieved is catching up on some boxed DVD sets I got for christmas last year (Bewitched and Mad Men) and straining my stomach muscles from all the coughing.  I even wasted two work free and Anna free days at home laying on the lounge.  Oh dear, this is a dreary story isn't it?

But to cheer me up, and to liven this blog post up, check out this huge box of patterns my parents picked up for me in some small town op shop in the middle of nowhere on their recent holiday:


These are mostly 1950 and 1960 vintage, and unbelievably most are in my size too! Plus there are lots of cute kids patterns too.  What an absolute score, far better than receiving a souvenir t-shirt or hat for sure.  These are my favourites:






And thank you all for your comments on the last post - I am so touched that so many of you are sharing in our excitement about the next addition to our family.  Suzanne your comment about me being brave enough to go for #2 made me laugh, because for the first 12 months after Anna I swore I would never have any more children, then the next 12 months I swore I would only have another child if Anna started sleeping more and stopped being so tiring, and it's only in the last 6 months that I have come around to thought of going through it all again.  It's my husband that is the clucky one - he wants three children and this combined with him turning 40 this year meant he was eager to have another.

We have decided to opt for another surprise delivery again, so we'll all have to wait until late March to see whether I'll be sewing little boy or little girl clothes.  I don't mind either way what we have, although a little bit of me wouldn't mind another girl - their clothes are so much cuter to make than little boys.  I only just told Anna yesterday that mummy is having a baby, because she has no concept of time and the next 5 and a half months are really going to drag out for her.  I wanted to leave it longer to tell her, but she overheard me telling one of her daycarers and she understood straight away what was happening.  She is very excited, always kissing and hugging my belly which is cute, and she seems convinced it's a little girl.  Hope she won't be disappointed if a little boy comes out!

And as for morning sickness, I'm too sick with my cold at the moment to be able to tell if it's still hanging around!

Happy sewing everyone, hope you're all more healthy than I am at the moment.