Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Buttons as nemesis

Perhaps nemesis isn't the right word but so far with my dresses, finding the right button (or even a good enough button) has been a challenge.

It used to be that matching thread used to be the challenge but this year it's the buttons. The raspberry dress was a shocker. The navy of the dress was impossible to match. Ditto the strawberries and though green buttons were the best choice to make the collar not seem out of place, they were really hard to find. I wasn't convinced they were/are exactly the same green, but they work so I'm happy. 

Mermaid buttons, not too hard but the fabric grey isn't the same grey as 99.99% of the buttons.  Even the March dress buttons are niggling at me. Black is too contrasty, the vintage white ones feel the opposite but will likely be the ones I use. I might still end up making covered buttons of the microdot.

The cocktail dress - aiyyy. Navy, who knew a different navy would be just as hard to match as the strawberry dress.  Pale creamy yellow - I found a single one on Satuday, as in one button left in the tube, and it was cracked.  I ended up buying a couple of green buttons, as they were inexpensive and work when I wasn't considering green for a while. That they're not a solid green helps. If I find the holy grail of buttons for this fabric then I don't mind a couple of buttons for waistbands etc.


I always sew a spare button into the side seam allowance, so that it gets laundered as often as the garment. After once losing a button, and getting the spare out of the button box it was obvious that it had faded/changed a little. Enough for the perfectionist streak to be uncomfortable using it and to motivate me to stitch the spare button into the side seam. Given my dislike of hand sewing, that's how you know it really bothered me back then.

I need to look for buttons for the lobster dress, so maybe I'll visit the Newtown button shop on Thursday next week.

Monday, 26 September 2016

More about my sewing derailment

I've been able to use the left foot on the sewing pedal, though I kept starting with my right out of habit. 40+ years of habit isn't overcome quickly. It's why I got my knee control machine[s] when it happened last time.

I thought I'd finish early enough last Thursday to get to My Hung Fabric in Hurstville before they closed but the workshop thing I was at ran late and I hadn't realised they're now open until 8am on Thursdays. I thought they closed at 6pm so I didn't even go to the station. I was hoping to get the contrast collar fabric for my mermaid dress, and if I'd had the martini fabric with me I would have gone to the button shop in Newtown as they're open til 7pm on Thursdays.

The plantar fasciitis is still almost but not quite better, so I need to make sure that I don't stress it. Maybe I should dredge my Elna Grasshopper out of the upstairs wardrobe and use that for a while. D'oh, my Bernina IS upstairs, on the shelf behind my front door.

The other thing that derailed me from finishing the pattern work on the martini dress pattern is that I got a heads up from the real estate agent that I'll need to move home early next year (I'm a renter not owner) so although I've not been given a written notice I know that's coming.

To stop myself from panicking - even though I'd already thought about moving next year -  I started thinking of about how much I have to pack, plan the culling of things and think about where I want to move. I even wrote up a list of all my furniture so that I can get an idea of what removalists will cost. I've a couple friends who've offered to help but (1) they've their own physical limitations and (2) this time I just want to pay fit/strong people to move all the furniture and heavier stuff. My physical therapists both said "don't move yourself this time" as it will re-injure the foot. It's a little weird, cos I'm still strong enough other than the foot. I've already spent enough fixing my foot, and it'll be cheaper to plan to pay professionals to move me than try myself, reinjure and have to pay someone anyway.

Back on track, I'm not staying in the same area as almost all my friends are between Parramatta & Katoomba now, or close to that train line.  The last friends I have in the broader eastern part of sydney are already selling up to move up the mountains. As a result of this news, on Saturday instead of going to St Ives Medieval Fair I caught the train westerly and went to a couple of viewings and for a walk around to get an idea of the suburbs I'm considering. Suburbia is going to be a culture shock after most of the 28 years in the inner city. However you don't even have to dig very deep down before you find my inner pragmatist self, so if I'm going to have to move then I'm moving closer to my friends; moving from a bachelor flat to a 2 bedroom with the largest becoming a dedicated sewing room; being a short walking distance to a fast stops train station; and realistically if I want space for a sewing room then I can only afford suburbia.

I'm going to start culling & packing up my storeroom first as boxes of things make me unsettled & twitchy. My mother's an extreme hoarder and my childhood home was full of boxed up 'stuff'. I'm fairly sure that one of the reasons I've stayed put so long was that facing boxes of things isn't good for my mental health. Seeing as my work is relocating at the end of January or early Feb, then I'm planning on moving my home before Christmas. I don't want both happening at the same time.

I'm still planning to sew a dress a month, so I'd better work on returning to being organised and productive after work instead of my winter self pictured in this comic by Loryn Brantz back in June.



Saturday, 17 September 2016

Morphing the August bodice front

After work yesterday I used the table to cut out most of the August dress pieces. Thankfully I noticed that the fabric is a single direction print - the half lime doesn't rotate unlike the other markings. I cut the AA4571 skirt (without the CF box pleats), the sleeves, and the bodice back - counting on it being an easier morph of the two bodice pieces.

It's been longer than I thought since I frankenpatterned something for real life clothing. My more recent eyeballing & educated guesses have been for costumes instead.

Today I got all the main seams on the skirt done, and finished cutting out  the bodice back. The easiest of the bodice pieces to adapt.  Then I started moved onto the front bodice pattern. I decided to morph the collar onto the front and rotate some of the crazy large side darting I need to the neck edge.

I started by tracing the top half of the Butterick bodice.

After folding out the neck edge pleats I then traced the neck edge onto my fitted bodice pattern piece, marking where the 2 pleats are on the neck edge.

Next I traced off the top half of the base already fitting bodice piece, making sure that I had enough matching points that I can overlay the end result back onto the full piece. I'd have copied the entire piece if I'd taken my wide tracing paper roll with me instead of the sandwich paper I packed. Then I rotated some of the side dart to the neck edge, aiming to have a similar portion of the pie wedge of darting taken up in these 2 pleats as in the Butterick pattern.

Comparing the two pieces I rotated less than the original, but hopefully it won't matter that much. I'm going to finish making a full copy of the base bodice piece and then match this back using CF and waist dart ends and the lower arm of the side dart.

Tomorrow I can out the front bodice pieces, the front neck [cut out V] facing, the front+back neck bands, and the band's interfacing. I'm also hoping to visit the button shop at The Rocks and get a single button for the neckband.

I'm also working on the March dress. Today the replacement revere/facing were cut out, interfaced, stitched to the back neck facing and once I got home overlocked where needed.  I want to finish the March dress before I switch overlocker threads back to navy for the next 2 dresses. Tomorrow I also tackle attaching the facing/collar to the bodice. After that it's a pretty fast progression to a finished dress.

Other half size patterns in my stash

The lobster fabric arrived so quickly from the east coast of the USA, despite oddly being tracked going to/from Jamaica.  I could afford to let that amuse me as the deadline for needing this fabric isn't until February next year.  I pre-shrank it today, so whenever I'm ready to sew, it is too.  The crays (crayfish/lobster) are more orange and less red than I expected, but shopping online has this risk and it's not going to stop me from using it - though I'll need to be very careful to make sure I wear the right makeup when I wear the dress. I think I'll make this version button through the front rather than just the bodice.


I have other half size mail order patterns in my stash that I had to pick from when planning the next 9 months dresses.  All of these I bought at affordable prices - I find most mail order pattern designs to be great every day styles. Not the cutting edge of fashion from the day, but they suit my sewing purposes well.

These are the ones that haven't been selected so far.



and these aren't half size but over time I added these to the stash because they appealed.


and a couple of larger size petticoat/slip patterns - I need to make one of these soon




Thursday, 15 September 2016

The foot improves - I can have a sewing day

I've had 5 treatments of my foot in 15 days (2 specialised massage & 3 with Kathleen the foot guru) and it's significantly better.

I'm going to my sewing guild group on Saturday, and will use my left foot on the pedal.  I need to remember to bring the cocktail fabric & pattern pieces to work tomorrow so that I can cut them out on the long meeting room table.  It'll be faster & easier on my foot doing this on a board room table that seats 12 people than on a smaller one at home.

I don't think I'll get my georgian costume done in time for St Ives, but I'll give it a go. I had thought to do some sewing each night, but I needed to ice/rest it most nights. I'd rather have a shorter injury time and miss out on fun things.

Monday, 12 September 2016

raiding the stash for 1740s underpinnings

I raided the stash for fabric to make the bum pad using the Simplicity pattern by American Duchess.


I was looking for a 1.5m piece of grey linen with a woven self-stripe that is in my discard pile. If I can't use it soon, it's going to a craft charity shop.  Before I found that piece I came across a piece of wide ribbed twill pink cotton (2m x 150cm) that I don't even remember buying. It's lighter than drill, but more robust than the swiss cottons I have so it's been selected. I even preshrank that this morning before coming to work.




I'm also going to use any left over from this to make a boned stomacher (?) piece to go under the stays that don't really fit. I'm hoping that's a quicker easier fix than making new stays cos I just don't have time. My brain can't quite remember if stomacher is the right word, it is for a gown, but for stays I think it is too.

Something like this one in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Item: C.I.39.13.206 1750-75.



Sunday, 11 September 2016

an outline for nine months of dress a month

In my mind I've got a loose plan for the order I think I'll use the fabrics, and the pattern I'll use with each.  Except for me plan sounds too close to rules and as said by Captain Barbossa of the Pirate Code these are more what you'd call guidelines than actual rules.

I do have some self imposed deadlines for a couple of fabrics.  The retro nautical print slated for December has to be used before I go to Canberra in late Dec/Jan to see the Versailles exhibition. That was the actual rule I imposed so that I could buy it (photo below). I don't want it stashed and I promised a bestie that I'd use it by then. This week I ordered a 5 yard piece of large scale red lobsters on black cotton to make a dress that I'll wear to see the B-52s in concert later this summer (can't remember the February date right now).  I'm looking forward to wearing it long before the concert though so I picked November because right now the mermaid, martini and vintage blue/green cotton have an emotional priority.

In brackets after the month, print & pattern are fabric amounts and when I bought them. EG 13Q3 was bought in the 3rd quarter of 2013 (between July-Sept).

August - Inky Martini, frankenpattern B9796 bodice with AA4571 (8m of 150cm, 14Q2)


September - Mermaids, AA4571 (4.5m of 112cm, 16Q1)


October - vintage green/blue abstract, AA4843 collar on AA4571 (5.5m of  90cm, 16Q2)


November - red lobsters on black, AA4571 (4.5m of 112cm, 16Q3)


December  - retro nautical, bodice 4803+skirt4571 (4.5m of 112cm, 16Q3)


January - brown with mint, NY 1930s wrap dress (4.0m of 150cm, 14Q4)


February - vintage maroon floral, AA2163 (5.5m of 90cm, 16Q2)


March - grape/purple splodges, AA4483 (4.0m of 112cm, 13Q3)


April - teal flowers on black, MO 9030 (5.5m of 112cm, 13Q4)


Most of my dress lengths are more recent purchases - recent compared to the bulk of my stash. Partly because when I first thought about making a couple of dresses I realised that I didn't have much in the way of dress lengths in the stash. In fact at the time, I literally had hundreds of metres of fabric but only two pieces long enough for a non-costume dress. Plus the long in progress before being tossed Lilly Rose dress. I'm sad about having to toss that but it didn't fit and was a series of one mistake after another. I think that even if it had fit, wearing it would only be a reminder of them.

Back on topic, I gave myself the option to buy a couple more pieces and the impulse to buy was under pretty good control until I got my Dress a Month idea. Of course I  then had a couple more purchases to replace those I'd cut out and *boom*. My job uncertainty hit and the mojo did a runner.

If I include (and I should) this year's January dress that is barely started, then I have 10 dresses to make from fabrics I already own.  No more buying dress lengths until I've 3 more dresses in my wardrobe.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Frankenpattern concept for the cocktail fabric

I'd forgotten that I have this (maybe 1960s) Butterick pattern in the stash. There are 3 for sale on Etsy at the moment so it's not that rare.


I'm strongly inclined to use the bodice details from Butterick 9796 and merge them with the AA4571 (eliminating the centre front pleat on the skirt).

As an unrelated side note, every time I look at this 1960s pattern cover I think the woman on the left looks like Sarah Jessica Parker.