Sunday, March 9, 2014

Complete: Gathered Sundress

Confession: I have a bit of a thing for sundresses. Ever since my sister and I made a pact about five years ago that we would actually start wearing the dresses in our wardrobes (v intimidating - someone might see... hey, we grew up in the 90s, when minimalism + grunge meant that heels with jeans felt wildly overdressed), I've been completely enamoured with the sheer effortlessness of a sundress. Throw it on and you're good to go :) Gotta love that!

Consequently, I've  been on an ongoing quest to find/make the Definitive Summer Dress. You've seen my 70s shirtdress and my sari dress, but here are a few pre-blog others:

Five years old and still a favourite - New Look 6557. And being halterneck, almost impossible to photograph hanging up... Printed cotton lawn, lined in plain lawn. Perfect for looking presentable in ridiculous heat.

Burda 7494. Modified to A-line skirt with pockets (of course). Red lined broderie anglaise. Always feel happy in this, but it's best worn in the 20-something Celsius range.

Can't actually remember which pattern this was, only that I made so many changes it was hard to tell it was that pattern in the end... Good dress for more formal occasions in hot weather, but not a whole lot else. The pencil skirt is just a bit constricting in summer.

Burda 7494 again, sans cap sleeves and with altered neckline, A-line skirt and pockets. Excellent throw on dress - fitted but not tight, breathes beautifully, and has a happy print. Love it.

And now, the latest in the sundress family - Pattern Runway's Gathered Sundress.  This may be my favourite yet...

I found this silk-cotton at The Fabric Store in Melbourne. I adored it on sight; I didn't know you could get silk-cotton! It's the best of both worlds - the luxury and feel of silk and the breathability and cooperativeness of cotton. And I swear, it's like air to wear :)

It's not a solid teal, it's actually a very thin teal and green stripe, with almost a seersucker texture.

I was of two minds during construction - there was enough after cutting out all the pieces to squeeze out a sleeveless top. But, after chatting with my Real Life Sewing Friend I decided to finish this off properly - the way I really wanted to. Therefore, piping!

I love piping anyhow, but piping in striped fabric just makes me very, very happy. The binding on the pocket edges was part of the pattern, and it's one of my favourite details.

This is a pretty easy pattern to put together - it really just has to be fitted at the bodice and waist. This was an XS graded up to between an XS and S at the waist. And it has just the right balance of fitted and breezy that a sundress should have. Being a pretty classic style too, it's going to give me years of wear. To me, that ticks all the boxes!

That's about it for this summer's sewing. I've got a couple of other makes to post, but I'm getting excited about my planned cool-weather projects. After all, Me Made May is approaching...

Hey, just out of curiosity, would you have gone for two garments, or added extra detail to the one??

Have a wonderful week :)

Monday, March 3, 2014

A No Sew Refashion

Hello again! First things first - here are the results of the Sew Grateful Week Giveaway:

The winner of the Victoria Blazer pattern is Mary Maryall from Maryall Made.

And the winner of the Swarovski stitch markers is Chrystal McKay from Seams like Chrystal

Congratulations, ladies! May they bring many happy hours of creative satisfaction :) If you can email your postal details to I'll send your parcels to you asap.

I've got a pretty basic refashion to share this week, with no sewing involved at all. Last year a friend of mine started up as a consultant for a party plan clothing company and I hosted a party to help out. Now, I normally haaaaaaaate these kind of things, and so does every one of the friends I invited (I invited people who were fun and who would still speak to me after receiving said invitation). But to my amazement I ended up with a free pair of jeans out of the deal, because Consultant Friend is a born saleswoman.

They actually fit really well. But they were a pale neon yellow. I make no claim to being a fashionista, so can comfortably say I'm not personally on speaking terms with the whole neon trend at all. And I didn't know you could have pastel neon colour (an oxymoron, surely??), but there you are.

They were quite hard to photograph actually; imagine a bit more fluorescent than that.

Even though it's not a great colour on me, I really do love golden yellow. It'll never be a staple in my palette, but every now and then I like to inject a bit of it in there. And you may remember in my list of goals for this year I mentioned I wanted to start experimenting with natural dyes. So since these were already a light yellow, I thought I might give turmeric a try...

I'd seen a tutorial on using turmeric to dye fabric here. I didn't take photos of the process, but basically:

1. Wash and dry fabric/garment
2. Simmer garment in large pot on the stove top in a mix of four parts water to one part white vinegar. (This acts as a fixative for the dye.)
3. Fill pot with fresh water and add turmeric (I used two 25g packets). Let dye bath simmer for ten minutes then add fabric/garment.
4. Ensure fabric/garment is completely submerged and simmer for 15mins, stirring occasionally.
5. Turn off heat and let garment sit in dye bath until it reaches desired colour (bear in mind it will be lighter once it's dry). I left mine about an hour.
6. Remove from dye bath and rinse until water runs clear.

So how did it work? Well, here's Attempt One:

In parts, they were the exact deep yellow I was hoping for. But I was hoping even more for a solid colour. And that was too streaky a result. Since the colour (in parts!) was what I was after, I wondered if a second attempt would even up the saturation...Below is Attempt Two:

Better, but still streaky. I think possibly a few more dye baths would achieve the solid colour I was after, but I have to confess I caved at this point. :/

 Enter Rit powder dye... I just followed the instructions for dyeing in a bucket or basin (I can't quite bring myself to use the washing machine - I keep imagining the rest of our clothes turning shades of the dye colour forever after...)

Even though I really wanted the natural technique to work, I have to admit I LOVE my new jeans!

Especially with my Rowe top...

So, the evaluation? Turmeric does make an effective fabric dye. But I think it's best kept for deliberate variegated effects like tie dye (which is how the original tutorial used it). And I'd actually really like to try it on spun wool, where a heathery effect looks beautiful. (Incidental Aside: I have attempted spinning! I'm somewhere between Absolute Novice and Extreme Beginner, but I've made a start. And I think I'm going to love it :)  So that's two more 2014 goals underway, hurrah!)

This project got me thinking. I've been really enjoying the Wardrobe Architect series, and think it's a fantastic way to make sewing more efficient, personal and less "hit and miss". Now these jeans only go with about three other things in my wardrobe...but I love them and feel happy every time I wear them. It made me realise that while I love to sew to a plan and genuinely aspire to sewing a complete wardrobe rather than disparate garments, every now and then I should make room for a "just because" kind of project. Just because I love it. Just because it makes me happy. Just because I want to!

How about you? Do you have any stand alone projects like that? Do tell!