Sunday, April 28, 2013

Refashion: Girl's Summer Top

Hello all! I'm feeling pretty cheerful today, because this morning I sewed on the very last press stud (popper? snap?) on the last of my allotted The King and I costumes. I've absolutely loved making them, but it's always nice to tick a major project off the list, plus Me Made May seems to be just galloping towards us all. At least I can say I haven't done any panic sewing! (Mind you, there are a couple more days...) I'll post photos of the King in his regalia after the show opens on Friday - since it's not my own personal project I don't feel quite right doing show-and-tell before then.

Since that's been taking up all available free time, I thought I'd post one of my favourite refashions so far. I did this one late last year, about a month or before I starting blogging. It started out life as this skirt:

Very cute and summery, yes; lovely print, absolutely. But, in case you can't tell on the dress form, it's very short. And frankly, I have neither the insouciance, the youth or the legs to carry it off successfully! So with a bit of reworking it became a summery top for my daughter:

It was an eight panel, lined skirt, with elastic at the waist and shirring from waist to hip. The nice thing about this style is that there's plenty of fabric. Even better, it had a drawstring at the waist, ergo the straps for the top were already done!

I started by taking out the black cotton lining, and then cut down the sides to make two four panel pieces. I kept the waist band elastic and the shirring in one of these, and unpicked it all from the other. From the unpicked piece I also separated one of the panels. The four panel elasticated half formed the back of the top. (see below)

I used one of Beth's singlet tops to make a bodice pattern and cut this out of the single panel. Even though this was cut on the cross grain, given the fabric overall has a chevron pattern it didn't look out of place. (This may not have worked with a very directional pattern, I'm not sure.). I used the original lining to line it, and used the drawstring, as said, for straps. Those little buckles and rings that make straps adjustable were really hard to come by; I ended up taking them off another top I had waiting in the to-be-refashioned pile. T

The bodice piece was sewn to the unpicked three panel section, which I gathered lightly to fit. A length of black crochet lace gave a nice finish to the seam, then I sewed the front to the back.

I'm not sure if it's a bit cheeky, but I was able to position the skirt's original embroidered logo in the lower left corner of the top too...

This was actually a really painless refashion, and my girl loves it! It got a lot of wear during our ridiculously hot summer. One advantage of making it for a pre-teen is that there's no need to worry about covering up the back of a bra. It's not a low back by any means, but the empire line at the front continues around to the back at the same height, so if you were making this in an adult size, the single panel may have to accommodate both front and back bodice pieces. Unless going braless is your thing, of course. Just a thought. :)

As I said, I haven't done any MMM panic sewing yet - no time - so instead, I've done a little panic buying. (I guess the whole aspect of MMM helping to evaluate the holes in your handmade wardrobe is already taking effect!)  These are from Style Arc, one of my favourite indie pattern companies:

I'm going to need pants - sorry, trousers. (I forget that means something different for lots of you!) I had a pretty near perfect experience fit-wise with my last pair of Style Arc pa...uh, trousers, so I'm looking forward to these, which are a cigarette or slimline style. I very much like that they can be worn with heels or flats (let's hear it for versatility!) and am hoping they'll fill the void left by forsaking the skinny jeans for much of the month.  I also really like the look of this tee / dress, which if successful, will mean I can haul the skinnies back into rotation a bit more.

Also, and very much in the cake category (or possibly even more basic - "bread", perhaps??) I got this ponte pants (sorry) or leggings pattern. It won't make a spectacular outfit component - unless I can track down the ski-style print I have in my head - but it will be extremely useful. Besides, I like bread... AND I got a free pattern - this blouse. I have a few ideas for this...

I think these are doable. Part of my MMM pledge was to make four queued projects, so even though technically these weren't in the queue at the time, I'll think I'll bump them up to the front. It's the making four new garments that was the main point, anyhow.

It's been so fun reading about other people's preparations. It's a great challenge, isn't it? And it's lovely to know there are so many others taking part in it with you. How are your preparations going?

On a final note, look what I saw when I opened my bedroom curtains this morning! (it's a bit fuzzy, because I had to zoom in a fair bit.) We've been living in the country - well, the outskirts of the country - for nearly two years now, but I still have enough of the suburbanite in my soul to get excited by unexpected wildlife. :)

Happy (panic) sewing, and have a wonderful week :)

Danielle  oxo

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I won!

Hello again! I had a lovely and very unexpected surprise this week when I discovered that the wonderful Helen of Grosgrain Green had nominated me for a Liebster Award! (Is it very unsophisticated to admit that I read it through a few times just in case I'd made a mistake??) When I started up this blog in January, I don't think I was really expecting anyone other than people I already knew to read it (if them - very few of them sew), so this feels pretty amazing. Thanks, Helen!  I suspect it isn't quite the done thing to nominate your nominator, but otherwise I would do so immediately :) I always love seeing a new post from you, and your inspiring, smile-inducing blog is one of my absolute favourites.

So, as I understand it, the Liebster Award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers. I need to answer  the 10 questions set by Helen, then nominate another 10 bloggers, again with less than 200 followers, and give them another 10 questions. What a fantastic way to share the love! So, Helen's questions first:

1. Why did you start sewing?
I didn't really start sewing until just after I finished high school, when I was curious to see if I could make the things I loved in shops that I had no way of buying on a student's budget. I got diverted into costuming and fancy dress pretty early on, and ran a small business for a few years until I realised it was the making, not the accounting/marketing/advertising/everything-else-vitally-important-to-small-business that really satisified me most. (Plus it was good to have money again for things like food and rent.) Then last year I started reading about the social, environmental and humanitarian toll that the global fashion industry exacts, and it prompted  me to do something proactive about it. Sewing, refashioning and knitting is my way of opting out of that cycle, and I love it all the more for that.

2. What's your favourite part of sewing/making?
That moment in every garment, usually about halfway through, where you can see how it's all coming together and how it will look.

3. And least favourite?
Oh, cutting out. No question.

4. Who is your muse/style idol/style inspiration/style crush? Can be real or fictional. Famous or civilian.
I love pretty much everything I see Cate Blanchett and Marion Cotillard photographed in, although I'd need a different life to wear most of it! And if we're talking "real" people (you know what I mean), my sister has a knack for always looking amazing and utterly appropriate in any situation. She has that gift too of wearing her clothes, rather than being worn by them, and has a real eye for beautiful detailing.

5. What is your favourite make?
I've got a couple, if you don't mind indulging me! I was very happy with two wedding gowns I made a few years ago - see below. (The photos aren't wonderful, I'm afraid - I had to keep out of the way of the professional photographers) The first was an embroidered and beaded tulle with a fishtail skirt and train.

The second was of the most glorious chantilly lace I've ever seen, and it took me a good hour after pinning to work up the courage to cut into it!

My Sew For Victory dress is a new favourite; I really enjoyed making that one, and learned a lot during the process. And knitting-wise, my Beatnik jumper below makes me happy every time I wear it.

6. And least proud?
For one of those weddings I had to make ties for the men in the bridal party. I don't know why ties were harder than a wedding gown, but they were - I couldn't make any sense of the pattern. They turned out alright  in the end, but to this date it's the only sewing project that made me cry. Not my shining moment.

7. What's your sewing/making bete noire? Your biggest challenge, or the thing you've been putting off?
One day I want to make a properly tailored jacket. I've been putting that off for years.

8. Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere! Anywhere there are clothes. And I've just succumbed to Pinterest, which is every bit the wonderful time-swallower I suspected it would be. Blissful, though.

9. Do you have any other hobbies, other than sewing/making?
I love to read, and usually have two books on the go at any given time. I started scrapbooking when my daughter was a toddler, and am lucky enough for that to have become a job with the Kaisercraft in-house design team. I love walking, and consider that exercise enough so that I don't have to jog or go to the gym. And I like to dabble in photography occasionally.

10. What is your sewing set up? Do you have a dedicated sewing space? Are you relegated to a corner of the living room?
I've taken over the study of our house, though I still prefer to actually sew on the dining table. All my sewing and knitting equipment/supplies/stash fit in a fantastic wooden entertainment unit we found at an op shop ($60!). (The op shop man said they're starting to get lots of these coming in, because plasma/flat screen tvs don't fit in them.) 

It's perfect. And I love that it keeps my stash contained. I almost feel awkward saying this - it's not 'proper' sewist behaviour at all! - but 7 years ago I gave away about 95% of my stash, because I found it was actually stifling my creativity and desire to sew. All my sewing time was spent sorting though stuff, most of which I no longer loved or that invariably wasn't adequate or quite right for whatever project I had in mind. Now every piece of fabric I have inspires me - it's just finding the time to sew it up!

So there you are, me in a nutshell :)

Now for my nominees. I'm going by bloglovin's stats on followers, so if I've made a mistake I apologise! I've discovered most of the blogs I follow actually have more than 200, so I've actually only nominated eight. But I do have two Honorable Mentions, so I hope that satisfies the rules...

In no particular order:

Nessa's Place.   Nessa's was one of the first sewing blogs I encountered. She's an extremely talented and versatile sewist, able to turn her hand to pretty much anything! She's also the kind of blogger who makes the online sewing world a genuine community; always ready to share encouragement, compliments and genuinely constructive feedback. I love this about her, and have been really trying to follow her example, rather than being the silent lurking admirer I instinctively would be otherwise. Plus, she made a magnificent 1850s dress  for a secluded Scottish island holiday, just because she could. Which I think is outstanding!

I Want To Be A Turtle. I'm in awe of Claire's Lady Grey coat, and very much wishing that my first attempt at bound buttonholes turned out as immaculately as hers. I love that she's already posted a couple of really helpful tutorials too, and am quietly hoping for many more in future.

Fabrictragic.  Sarah's got a fantastic way with words, and her blog is really entertaining. I'd love to have her eye for thrifting too - it's a gift. Her Laurel blouse is my favourite incarnation of the pattern I've seen so far.

Maud Made.  Lucy's got a real knack for making ultra-wearable clothes, the sort of clothes that become go-to wardrobe friends. She makes a mean refashion too! I guarantee a bit of location-envy when you see her beach backdrop...

Sewing Vintage Knitting This is how to make vintage look amazing! Anthea's not just an incredible seamstress, but she styles her creations beautifully. Her Dasha's Sweater is simply stunning.

The Sometime Sewist. Jess makes simply beautiful clothes. And I can't imagine any of them languishing unworn in her wardrobe. This is what I aspire to!

Sew Rachel! Rachel just started blogging this year, and she has some lovely makes using knits, plus a gorgeous lace print skirt. Her enthusiasm for sewing is infectious, and makes me want to pull out my machine immediately :)

Stitching on the Edge. Adrienne's projects are so elegant and beautifully made. I love her recent clutches, and I envied her Washi dress on sight. I really like her tips and tutorials section also.

Here are my questions for you all:

1. Why did you start sewing?
2. Five words that describe you: 
3. What is your favourite make?
4. And your least favourite?
5. What piece(s) of sewing equipment (besides your machine) could you not live without?
6. What are your three favourite blogs?
7.  What accomplishment are you most proud of?
8. Sweet tooth or savoury?
9. What's the most daring thing you've ever done?
10. What's your secret for a happy life?

I also wanted to give Honorable Mentions to:

Victor Fox  This isn't a sewing blog, so half the questions above are pointless for her, but Clare is an incredibly talented graphic designer who I thought deserved a mention. I was lucky enough to work with Clare at Kaisercraft until she left to run her business full-time, and it's been going from strength to strength. Check out her Etsy shop to see her amazing prints and cards.

The Hungry Octopus. I've come across Elizabeth's fantastic refashioning projects at Refashion Co Op, but she doesn't seem to have a blog. She is on Facebook though, (unlike me) so I'm assuming you can admire her that way.

Looking forward to seeing your answers!

Have a wonderful week :)

Danielle  oxo

Saturday, April 13, 2013

An Avian Ginger and Me-Made May '13

Hello again! I've been playing around with my Ginger skirt pattern lately, in the very little spare time that I haven't spent on costuming, that is. (All outfits are coming along nicely; I'll post photos once the show opens in a few weeks. Don't think I'll be doing any beading for some time once I'm done with this lot!)

Can I make a small confession? I'm actually a tiny bit nervous about posting this - have you ever had a skirt/dress/any item of clothing that you weren't quite sure whether you actually loved or hated it? Well, this is mine! I'm still not sure about it. I found this fabric at a vintage fabric shop and something about it caught my attention. (I'm not sure how vintage it is; maybe 80's if that.) It feels a bit like rayon, but I'm no expert. I liked the colours and the slightly painterly feel, but I don't wear a lot of prints, and those I do tend to be fairly conservative - stripes and florals, and fairly quiet ones at that. So it's not a very "me" piece at all. Plus (and I'll whisper this so I don't hurt their feelings) the birds (herons? cranes?) are actually pretty ugly.

But for me a big part of sewing my own clothes is an attempt to have more confidence in my own taste and judgement. And you can't become confident in anything without practising it. So, when I thought about the worst case scenario - i.e., someone else might not like my skirt: hardly the end of the world! - I decided it was worth having a try. And here 'tis:

I really love my first Ginger skirt, but I was interested to see how the pattern would work in a softer, drapey-ier fabric. Plus I wanted to see if it was possible to make the front in one piece. This was a little trickier, because the centre seam isn't straight, but instead curves inwards at the top where it meets the waistband. This meant there was about 4-5cm of extra fabric to fit in. I took in a little bit at the sides, but taking too much out would have spoiled the line of the side seams. So I tried the same technique I learned with my peplum top; pinning for dear life and using steam from the iron to shrink it to fit.

It still puckered a bit - see below - but it could have been worse. And I probably won't wear it with a tucked in top anyhow - this is for just for the purposes of unvarnished documentation!  

My only regret is that I didn't have enough fabric for pockets, but I was scraping to get all pieces cut out as it was. But I guess I can live with that ;)

So there you have it. I'm still not entirely sure about it, but I'll wear it a few times and see if it grows on me. We'll see!

In other news:

"I, Danielle of One Small Stitch, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13. I endeavour to wear one handmade or refashioned garment each day for the duration of May 2013. I also pledge to finish four of my queued projects."

Yup, it's official! I'm in - and I'm really looking forward to it. Like I said last time, it's not a huge selection to pick from, but I like the idea of finding new ways to wear the things I have - I tend to play it fairly safe most of the time. And hopefully I'll finish costuming this week, so I can make a few more things before 1st of May...

Have a wonderful week :)

Danielle oxo

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Refashion: Zoe-Style Camisole/Vest/Singlet....And Some Other Stuff

Hello again! We're back to some modern day sewing this week - a Zoe-style camisole/vest/singlet (choose your own preferred name). I say Zoe-style because after I downloaded her fantastic free pattern my computer and printer stopped speaking to each other. (Why does technology hate me? Why??) So rather than spend the day encouraging, cajoling, threatening and shrieking at machines (yes, in that order) I decided to go it alone. But since the refashion itself was totally inspired by her versions, I thought credit should be given where credit's due!

Here's where we started, my 9 year old son's Old Faithful T-shirt:

 Joel has very strong views about pretty much everything. We call him the human version of Kipling's Cat Who Walked By Himself. And one thing he's particularly particular about is clothes. I don't mean he's one of those mini-fashionistas that seem to be everywhere nowadays (and thank goodness - clothes when you're a kid should really only be to prevent pneumonia or sunstroke), I mean he knows exactly what he likes and what he will not tolerate under any circumstances. The clothes he likes he will wear into the ground, or until he can't actually get them on his body anymore . The clothes he doesn't end up being passed down in pristine condition to our youngest, who thinks it's an outstanding system.

I have to admit, I sympathise! I have plenty of things in my wardrobe I've loved for years, and the idea of giving a new lease of life to one of Joel's old favourites really appealed to me. So, despite his initial reluctance ("Can I just take it on camp first, Mum?"), he did give me permission, and off we went.

Until roughly 5 minutes before I suggested he give it to me, the sleeve hem (torn about a year ago) was hanging down in a long strip. He cut it off to try and prove it was still wearable... But Mum prevailed!

A bit of fairly informal measuring (I eyeballed another singlet of mine)  and we were ready to cut into it. It's a bit hard to tell here, but the back is cut higher than the front. After cutting I unpicked the side seams about 5cm / 2", and shaped the sides a little.

I'd found some red folded elastic to use and sewed it along the front and back necklines first, remembering to cut it a little shorter than the fabric length. Then I sewed elastic onto the body starting at the side seam, up past the front neckline, sewing it in half for the strap, and then back down past the back neckline and around to the side seam again. Then it was just a matter of resewing the upper side seams closed again. Here 'tis:

This has become my favourite summer pjs top (Apologies, but I won't be modelling this personally here because frankly after three children going braless in public is unthinkable). I really want to find some red and blue checked cotton to make some boxer shorts to match. Perfect!

Well, almost. The only hicccup with this is that the elastic I used - which I chose purely for the colour - is not, shall we say, of the highest quality. You can see below how it stretched out of shape a little at the back after being sewn. (The front looks like it has too in this shot, but I've checked and it really is because of the way it's sitting here, I promise!) But for around-the-house-jarmies, I'm ok with that.

In knitting news, I've finished the scarf I was working on:

I like this pattern very much. But then I'm a sucker for cables. And the gratifying thing about scarves is that the tension/gauge (again, pick your preferred...) is completely irrelevant, so it's kind of stress-free knitting. Which is lovely after my Still Light epic fail! I'd like to try this one in a few different yarns, I think. Maybe down the track after a few other projects...

Now that the scarf and the Sew For Victory challenge is over, pretty much all of my available sewing time is being spent on the King & I costumes. I think I mentioned I've been asked to make the King's outfits, since it's my husband playing that role, which makes fittings easy! It's been a really enjoyable time, since because I'm not in charge of the costumes for this show, I feel like there's no pressure - I just have to follow directions. (But at the same time I've been allowed to play around and do what I think looks best.) And three of the five jackets are already made, they just need to be altered to suit. So I can just have fun with some serious embellishing! Below is a sneak peek of three works-in-progress. Please note the extensive beading on the blue ones - that's mine! I've been setting myself up on the couch of an evening with it and am working my way through all ten series of Spooks. Good times. :) 

The only other news I have to offer right now is that I've decided to take part in the Me-Made May 2013 challenge. So long as I can include refashions and am allowed to sew during the month - otherwise it's a very small pool of possible choices! Although I could just wear my new pj cami/vest/singlet to bed every night...;)  
On the subject of sewing challenges, I've decided that my rule of thumb is going to be Only One At A Time. That should keep me from over-committing - and help me evaluate which ones I really want to do. Sounds good in theory, anyhow!

How are your challenges going? Are you putting up your hand for Me-Made May?

Have a wonderful week :)

Danielle oxo