Friday, September 19, 2014

chunky two tone sandals

I've made my second pair of shoes! suede and vinyl, medium heeled, clog-like sandals.
I really like them stylistically.  In fact dare I say, I even love them a little bit!  My general criteria with my self-made stuff is: would I buy this if I saw it in a shop? and in this case: hmmm,well y'know I think I would be attracted enough to pick them up, at least!  Actually buying? well apart from the definite whiff of eau de homemade about them... ;) My cobbling skills are low to non-existent but so far that doesn't really bother me all that much.  I'm learning by doing.
I actually do love them, they feel solid, modern and somehow honest.  I am really going to enjoy wearing them  :)
The how...
They have a wooden base, made of pine from Bunnings.  I cut and glued two layers together using interior/exterior PVA glue, then cut the basic shape of the shoes rather roughly using a bandsaw.  
Further shaping, fine-tuning and sanding was done on a belt sander using 40, 80 and 120 grit sandpaper.  Once I was happy with the shape and had sanded it all nice and perfectly smooth, I applied three coats of varnish; exterior grade, satin finish.
By the way, I've gone back and added some extra "progress" pictures to my previous shoe-making post just in case that sort of thing is interesting... sewstylist commented that progress pictures would not be boring, and thank you for saying that! so I've put in a few more pictures this time too  :)
The upper is made of caramel-brown suede (from Skindhuset, in Copenhagen) and pale grey vinyl (Spotlight).  The suede is eked out from the leftover scraps from my caramel suede jacket.  I cut backing pieces from old bed sheeting, which is a thick and very strong fabric, and glued the uppers and backing pieces together before topstitching all around the perimeter in matching threads.  These uppers were nailed to the wooden bases using 15 x 1.6mm blued tacks (Bunnings).  I chose these partly because I liked the rustic look of them, also because they were the only nail option in this size, but now the non-uniform appearance of the heads bothers me a bit.  I hammered matching copper-look snaps (Spotlight) to the straps that close around the back of my heel.
For the soles, I cut adhesive cork liner sheets (Spotlight) to size, glued them on and applied five coats of satin varnish to strengthen and harden the surface.  
Things I would do different again: In the future, I would save time and brush-cleaning by applying the cork sole before doing any wood varnishing; and then just apply three coats of varnish to the wooden base and cork sole together.
Bed-sheeting, even though it has very desirable qualities of being very strong and inflexible, is probably not the most wonderful choice for backing the uppers.  It's good but is a bit thin and "fabricky", if that makes any sense.  I was worried that vinyl would be too thick for the job, but in retrospect I think it might work well.
Obviously, I have already started planning the next pair...  :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


I've rejigged these strawberry pink jeans into a skirt.  I made the jeans two years ago using an Au Bonheur des petites mains pattern courtesy of shams, thank you shams!  There's lots of things I liked about the jeans; they were so comfortable and easy to wear, I loved the detailing on the pockets and seams but my little measuring stuff up re the positioning of the knee piece had always kinda bothered me whenever I happened to glance down and notice it.  So I hadn't been wearing them, even though I lurrrve this delicious colour so much.
It's pretty easy making a skirt from jeans, even avoiding like the plague those versions with the J-curve crotch portion of jeans top-stitched down on the front of a skirt and a big triangular insert plonked underneath.  No offence if you love that sort of thing, but I just do not.  I prefer for a skirt to look like a skirt.
I followed the same basic concept I did for my previous jeans to skirt refashion.  I cut out the offending knee patches and discarded them altogether; the 3D-ness of them made them too difficult to incorporate into a skirt, without looking uber-weird.  The front of the skirt is essentially straight from the hips down and the back has two flared sections in the centre lower part to give it a bit of a kick at the back.  And to enable me to stride in a brisk and purposeful manner, unfettered by a tight skirt.  
I like this shape, how the skirt appears very straight up and down from the front but has plenty of leg movement because of those flared bits. And I'm happy it's got a new lease on life.  This colour!  It just screams spring, yes?  Yuuuum!

Top; from Pattern Magic 3, ivory cotton jersey, details here
Skirt; from au bonheur des petites mains jeans, strawberry cotton denim
Shoes; bensimon, from seed boutique

Sunday, September 14, 2014

"framing" with an inset strip in a pieced garment

This method gives what could best be described as an inset strip.   It can be used to "frame" individual pieces and will highlight the piecing in a design as an interesting feature.
It is a flat strip set alongside a seam so it looks superficially similar to piping, and has the advantage of being flat, not 3D, as well as being a bit easier to sew than piping imo  :)

These measurements will give a narrow 1/8" inset strip alongside a seam, however the measurements can be easily adjusted accordingly to make a narrow or wider inset as desired.  If desired, you can even make the strips slightly different widths within the one garment to emphasise some seams over others or to give a better balance visually.

Select the side of the seam you wish for the inset strip to sit.  For example, in this bodice I elected for the inset strip to be on the back side of the back/front side seam.  This will be the piece the bias-cut strip will be pinned and stitched to first.

Note: IF you are sewing strips into multiple seams on the garment as I did for my dress in this example, then it is very important to be rigidly consistent throughout here.  Because the inset strip is encroaching on the garment a little bit on one side of the seam the garment will look a little "off" if some strips are sewn to the front and some to the back.   Pick a side and stick to it.

Cut the bias strips to be 1" width.
Pin the bias cut strips with the raw edge 4/8" away from the raw edge of the fabric.
Stitch 6/8" away from the raw edge.  Note: to make a wider inset strip, pin the strip and sew this seam further away from the raw edge.
Press the wide edge of the strip over the stitching, towards the raw edge of the fabric.
Stitch the pattern pieces together, right sides together, in a regular 5/8" seam allowance.  The seam stitching is indicated in this picture, the stitching to the immediate right of that is the previous stitching to secure the bias-cut strip.
Open the pattern pieces out and press the seam allowance away from the inset strip side.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

"Swedish" dress

I've made my Swedish souvenir    :)
I bought this linen-mix with a Swedish designed print in Stockholm during our Scandinavian holiday.  I fell in love with the bold and yet delicate print in orange, soft greeny-browns and black on a creamy background.  Bold and delicate?! sounds like an oxymoron but I think this design does magically manage to fit into both categories somehow!  The pattern is Vogue 2900 and I "framed" each piece in the design with a skinny strip of black cotton to highlight the piecing in this quietly interesting dress design.  
I chose to do this because I felt the broad sweeps of a bold - yet delicate! - print like this could lose much of its impact upon being cut up into small pieces... I think the black framing successfully highlights the piecing of the pattern as a feature of the dress, while still being subtle enough to allow the print to hold its own and shine equally as a feature of the dress as well.
In its own way, the black framing is a bold and delicate thing, too!
I've long admired all the many beautiful versions of this pattern made by Yoshimi.  Beth recently wrote about the concept of a "pattern whisperer"; and in fact, during Yoshimi's stay with me she recommended this pattern to me, saying that she thought it would suit me.  I have very high regard for Yoshimi's taste and style and so paid careful attention to her "pattern whisper".  And I am glad I did because I love it!  Thanks Yoshimi!
I took my time with this dress, cutting and precision-stitching the bias cut strips of black cotton and lining up all the black corners and edges just exactly right.  All the seams are highlighted in this way, except for the bodice centre front seam; I couldn't see it working in neatly with the edging on the centre front split at the top, and the centre back seam, which again, having the black edging would not have worked successfully with the white invisible zip closure.  All the edges; the armhole edges, neckline edge, pocket edges and the lower edge of the dress, are similarly edged with the same black cotton.
It's funny; I've had a large piece of this black cotton on a big cardboard roll for so many years, and it's come in so very handy for so many little touches to about a zillion projects, to the point where I felt that it was like a never ending supply.  With this project I suddenly realised I'm down to the last half a metre!  Panic!  I'm going to have to buy more!!
I used my own tip to perfectly align those black strips on either side of the invisible zip.

Dress; Vogue 2900, Swedish print with black cotton edging outlining each piece
Sandals; Zomp, from Zomp shoes

Friday, September 12, 2014

one week one pattern

Hello!  I've been taking part in One Week One Pattern again.  Where we wear a representative of one pattern, for every day of a week.  I am completely unable to resist a clothing challenge and particularly one tied up with sewing, so I signed up immediately  :)
Before it started I did a quick recce of my clothes and checked the weather forecast.  I have several contenders for the pattern I could have used but given the winter-y type of week we were expecting I went for the warmest option!  my jeans collection, made using Burda 7863.  At the time of signing up I had six left; two others have been chucked out.  So quick sticks I made another, the last pale coffee pair, so I could get through the week without doubling up.  Not that I'm, um like, weirdly obsessive about things like that or anything  ;)

So, some thoughts;
1. black stretch corduroy: 
probably one of my least favourites, which is kinda ironic given that black jeans are supposed to be such a fabulous wardrobe staple.  I don't know why I'm so ambivalent about these jeans.  They are useful, but I pretty much only wear them when I'm travelling or if I'm in a rare mood for black.
2. burnt orange stretch corduroy
old, very comfy and long term favourites, but if I'm brutally honest these look pretty awful now.  For at home, doing chores, only.  I've come thisclose to making them into a skirt.  This might still happen at some point.
3. burnt brown stretch bengaline;  
my cool new ones and the current favourites.  I'm very much in love with everything about them - the colour! love it so much!!!! - and am really excited about their possibilities with my other autumnally coloured stuff.
4. white stretch denim flares; 
still sort of nice, even though they're not really very fashionable I still like wearing them a lot.  I sorta go in and out of love with them.  It's nice to have some flares to mix things up a bit too.
5. olive/grey stretch gabardine; 
My oldest pair, that have even outlasted my two other Burda 7863's.  I've gone through short periods of hating these too, but I always hang onto them because I absolutely know I'll come around to loving them again.  Actually I would be a bit devastated if they died.  The fabric is really the nicest, classiest, and probably the best quality out of all my jeans, ever.
6. cafe au lait stretch bengaline; 
my newest ones, made up quick so I could have seven representatives for the challenge and not really loved yet.  I'm a bit uninspired by them right now but I'm sure they'll come into their own soon enough.  Maybe when worn with my lighter ivories and whites.  I do like outfits that are a mix of pale neutrals.
To be honest... I'm struggling to like them.  Something terrible happened.  I liked them at first, and then all of a sudden the words "beige slacks" popped into my head.  And the rose-tinted glasses fell away from my eyes and an awful new reality was revealed.  In my group of friends we have a bit of a joke about "beige slacks".  As in, isn't it the most un-stylish thing you can imagine.  Not necessarily the things themselves, sometimes you see pants of this colour looking just gorgeous although, granted, not always.  It's mostly just the words, "beige slacks" that kill the dream, all your hopeful ideas that you might be looking nice today.  I'm trying to tell myself that my jeans are nice, that they are cafe au lait bootlegs, which sounds kinda smart but I might be kidding myself.  I think they might be beige slacks.  Oh, the horror.
7. pale grey non-stretch corduroy;
made into a skirt; and yes these might not look like jeans but they do fit in with the group! originally this skirt was a pair of jeans made using Burda 7863.  The knees got all stretched out and saggy, but the upper bit was fine and the colour is so great so I re-made them into this skirt as described here.  I still love this strange little jeans/skirt, and think I'm within the rules to count them in my Burda 7863 line-up, yes?!
My OWOP14 Flickr set with links to the individual pieces worn each day can be viewed here...

So, obviously I love this pattern so I won't go on about it.  Jeans are comfy and practical and warm, so yay.  But after a whole week of wearing jeans I am really looking forward to getting back to my skirts and dresses.  I was so pleased I could wear a skirt on the last day, today!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

blue ray

Winter is officially over here, so right on target I've finished a wintery little dress.  :) 
I spent some quality time with my dyepot, dyeing bright blue corduroy in four different moody blues for the colour blocking.    This is my second version of Vogue 1316; I've dreamed up several different plans for this great pattern which I want to explore, including this one...  
One of the things about a colourblock design is that I think it's more effective if the fabrics are all the same type and weight etc.  As well as the colours blending in and going together nicely somehow.  And it's hard enough to find great fabric that you love, in great colours that you love too, let alone a single fabric in four great colours that you love, and that go together harmoniously.  Impossible!  So I made my own nicely co-ordinating set of coloured corduroys  :)
My originally bright blue cotton corduroy is from Spotlight.
I divided the pattern pieces up into their colour batches and laid them out on my fabric, leaving a good margin around each piece to allow for a little error, just in case, then cut the colour batches apart for dyeing.  Before dyeing them I overlocked all raw edges to decrease the risk of distorting or stretching out the pieces during the dyeing process.  
I labelled each piece and was super careful to keep each label with its piece throughout the process and not get them mixed up!
my tutorial for basic dyeing here
I used iDye in various strengths of Black, Crimson and Chestnut; to get, from left:
-deep inky navy, from a biggish dose of Black, 
-royal purple; from a medium biggish dose of Crimson
-deep teal/aqua; from a medium dose of Chestnut, 
and finally the rightmost batch was soaked overnight in the leftover bath of Chestnut just to take the edge off that brightness, tone it down and dirty it up a bit.  The piece on the right is a small scrap of the original colour saved for comparison.
I took my own advice and put in pockets that sit underneath those long curved hip bands again, as described here.  Yes Vogue, I improved your pattern.
The dress is fully lined with navy blue polyacetate and I used a long, navy blue invisible zip.  As previously, I re-shaped the dress to be a little less boxy and bit more hourglass-y by re-fitting through those long back seams that run almost the full length of the dress.  A useful feature!
I'm so happy with this dress! it's funny; I'm rarely 100% happy with things I've made but this project is pretty close to being completely satisfactory for me.   I've made another highly satisfying thing recently too, which I am yet to photograph and blog about.  The weather needs to warm up a touch first, but I'm so excited about that one too! I have to say, making two things in a row that I'm super happy with, in quick succession, has put me on SUCH a high. Honestly, I wish I could bottle this feeling.

Dress; Vogue 1316, blue corduroy dyed in 4 different shades using various iDye dyes, my review of this pattern here.
Tights; self-drafted, navy blue stretchy stuff, details here
Boots; Roberto del Carlo, from Zomp shoes

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

cafe au lait bootlegs

New jeans/pants/whatevs.
Burda 7863, stretch bengaline from Spotlight.
So.  I guess that's about all I have to say! I've made this pattern what, nine times now, I think.  Speaks volumes.  The colour is softly pretty, a nice and easy and inoffensive pale neutral.  I love it.
Maybe they're a bit boring?  Well, they're basics.  Basics usually are.  I'm sure they'll get lots of use.

The nitty gritty, re my usual alterations and fitting:   
Extra 10cm or so added to the length at the lower hem, just in case.  I always pre-wash my fabric; and make up the pants to the hemming stage, then wash again, then hem.  It really helps guard against leg-length shrinkage.
Another always-addition is to added a bit of length onto the waistband length at CF so as to accommodate a zip placket
And my usual fitting alteration to accommodate my slight sway back is to try them on inside out BEFORE sewing up the CB seam including the waistband, and to pinch it in; as described and pictured here  Works really well for a really good fit, every single time.

Jeans; Burda 7863, stretch bengaline
Tshirt (under); Vogue 8879, ivory cotton jersey, details here
Jumper; the Hayward, knitted by me in Noro Ayatori, details here