Mid-mod mash-up

And another nice cool linen top.

It’s my good friend Butterick B6056, but with a twist. The linen is a lightweight version, printed with this lovely mid-century modern tropical print which reminds me strongly of curtains my parents had in one of my childhood homes (in a quieter colour scheme!). Even as a small child, I’d lie in bed looking at the print and wondering why they hadn’t coloured in properly between the strong black lines and why the leaves were that strange colour. I must have been a very tidy-minded 5 year old…

However, it was an end-of-bolt remnant, and only 90cm/35 inches long, not enough for any pattern I had. Undaunted, I set about thinking sideways once again. I could get a sleeveless top out of it if I put a seam down the centre front instead of a fold, and if I added a sort of peplum doodah at the bottom to supplement the meagre 25 inch length from shoulder to hem. I was prepared to use a matching dark blue for the peplum, but in the end, careful measuring showed I could probably get enough extra out to make it from the main fabric.

So I cut the front and back and then pieced together a long 4 inch deep peplum out of all the scraps. I made bias binding from a blending pink fat quarter for the neck and armholes. Halfway through the assembly, I had to spend a tedious hour with the overlocker, rethreading it at least 4 times because thread 4 would not stay threaded. Still, I didn’t let it defeat me, and in the end, I was victorious. I debated whether to gather or put pleats in the peplum, and in the end went with pleats as I didn’t feel there was enough fabric to make gathers look good (nothing worse than stingy gathers). Also, my rear end is quite wide enough without a sticky-out frill thing; the pleats do at least lie flat. It’s a little shorter than I usually like, but worth it, I feel. And of course it’ll improve with washing, like all linen – at present it’s a bit stiff.

So there we are. Iteration No. 4 of this trusty pattern. Very happy with it, and the fabric cost me $6…

I finished the dress… at last.

It has been sitting on the rack under my ironing board, cut out and waiting to go, since, um… probably 6 months ago.

blue dressI got sick of picking it up off the floor every time it slid off the rack, which was often. I wanted another dress. It was a bit of a no-brainer, really. It’s a very simple pattern I’ve made before, but this time I decided to do something about the bits I didn’t like.

I don’t like facings to finish off necklines and armholes; they’re too bulky, they never lie flat and they make ironing the garment a pain because they leave a ridge. So, away with the facing! I finished the edges with narrow bias binding, stitched down with a decorative stitch on the neckline and plain topstitching for the armholes.

I also didn’t like the original armholes, which were too snug. I have very wide shoulders, and needed extra space in the back and front so the edge of the armhole doesn’t cut in when I reach across. So, deepen and widen the armholes. I wanted pockets. Every garment that hangs below the waist needs pockets. Where else are you supposed to put your hankie, phone, key, small change or whatever else it is you otherwise have to temporarily hold in your hand? So, patch pockets, not the kind that go in the side seam and make you grope for the opening and eventually tear when you put something too heavy in them. A bit more decorative stitching on the top edge there, too. I wore it yesterday, and it’s very, very comfortable, and dresses up nicely with a bit of jewellery or perhaps a cardigan when the weather gets cooler.

Now that I’ve adjusted the pattern, I’ll definitely be making it again. I wonder how it would look with a slightly more fitted bodice and a high waisted skirt gathered onto it. It may need a front opening if I do that. I also like the idea of some tiny beading for a neck detail.

neck detailMiss Rosita (my tailor’s dummy) was delighted to be put to work at last. She feels that the dress fabric sets off her red plush person very well, and agrees the armholes are more comfortable this way. I had trouble getting her to take the dress off…

I’m just pleased to have reduced my dress-making pile (only three more items to go – for now, anyway, we won’t talk about the large box full of lovely dress fabrics and unused patterns), and got myself a nice new dress into the bargain. Now, the ‘swoopy shirt’ Liberty fabric and pattern are calling my name…

And with the temperature now hovering around 27°C during the day and cooler at night, it’s perfect sleeveless dress wearing weather, and the dress’ll look good with a t-shirt underneath too 🙂

Another clothe

It’s hot here, and the humidity is wicked.

We’re facing a string of thunderstorms marching from inland towards the coast. Some dissipate over the range, but the rest come and drop their load, accompanied by much fuss and heavenly fireworks. When it’s rain, it’s welcome, but hail, less so… Given that the heat through all this remains above 30°C/86°F, you start sweating the minute you walk out of the door.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 4.35.31 pmI retreated to the cool of my sewing room, and whacked together a dress suited to the conditions. It’s the same Burda pattern as the lilac spotty top previously posted, but longer, and I’ve made it in a very lightweight viscose. Instead of putting in a facing to finish the armholes and neck, I’ve used bias binding to keep the weight and warmth down. It’s lovely! Touches at the shoulders, skims the rest.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 4.36.21 pmMeanwhile, outside, the Husband was hurtling up and down the back yard on the ride-on mower, with an eye cocked at the sky. He got the last of the grass cut just before the heavens opened…

It’s starting to be the time of year when I don’t leave the house without an umbrella but at least now I can be cool and comfy..

Spot the detail

Sorry about that.

Screen shot 2015-01-29 at 5.16.12 PM Screen shot 2015-01-29 at 5.16.38 PMEveryone who knows me even slightly knows that I have a serious penchant for puns, making use of even the most feeble excuse to employ one.

So, yes, I’ve cranked out some more dress-making. One top cut out, in a rather vivid floral with blue, another completed, both using scraps. This one’s bits of the Tana lawn I used to make one of my nighties, and a co-ordinating(ish) scrap of spot. Should be nice and cool.

Tie all that together with green bias binding and green topstitching detail, and I couldn’t resist.

As I said, sorry… I can’t promise I won’t do it again.

Lawn again…

The blue one. I can't decide which one I prefer.

The blue one. I can’t decide which one I prefer.

Blue binding with a bit of white embroidery detail and tucks instead of gathers on the yoke.

Blue binding with a bit of white embroidery detail and tucks instead of gathers on the yoke.


Sorry. I have to try and do something about the puns.

Anyway, here’s the blue one. Blue bias binding this time, and a little embroidery stitch around the neckline and armholes.

I have heaps of nice sized scraps as well as a good metre of each fabric left, so I shall be making a stack of hankies. There will be more than I will ever need, even with a clean one every day, so I’ll be giving some away soon. Hand hemmed, a bit of embroidery… Something to play with when I get back. Any interest out there?

I think I shall have to stop inventing things to make/sew for the rest of the week. I have quite a lot to do, and at this rate I’ll never get Happiness sandwiched and pinned.

So, off to the kitchen to make gingerbread and spaghetti bolognese. The Husband will be home in a couple of hours…

Lovely lawn

Not the green bladey variety, but the fine, soft, silky Tana lawn fabric.

The nightie, posing artfully in front of my fabric cupboard

The nightie, posing artfully in front of my fabric cupboard

History has it that after the First World War, the fabric buyer for Liberty of London developed a new range of very fine, densely woven, silky soft cotton lawn, named Tana lawn after Lake Tana in the Sudan, where the cotton was sourced. Liberty is now famous for its Tana lawn range, available in a wide variety of floral prints and some solids. It makes beautiful clothes, very gentle on the skin, very comfortable, and is surprisingly durable for such a fine, light fabric.

And that’s what I’ve been up to today. I was sorting through things, making sure they were clean and ready to pack. I realised, shock, horror, that my nighties were looking distinctly low-rent and in some cases in serious need of repair. So I went and had a rummage in the Cupboard of All Colours, and fished out two three-metre lengths of rather nice Japanese Tana lawn, one in a cheerful red and yellow Liberty-style weeny floral print, and the other in pale blues with a hint of pink. Voilà! New nighties. I have a pretty and comfortable nightie pattern which has that all important feature missing from so many bought ones: pockets. It’s not at all slinky or alluring, but it is presentable enough to answer the door in, or wander around outside watering the garden. Thanks to the pocket I can also cart around my phone or a hankie. So here’s the first of the two.

White bias binding would have been too boring!

White bias binding would have been too boring!

I like a bit of sneaky detailing, the sort of thing only I know about. Which is why I’m loving the green bias binding for the neck and armholes, and the fact that I have not one, but two generous pockets in this beauty. And why stop at one line of topstitching? Two is much nicer. In fact, I like this nightie so much that I think it may be called into service as a sun dress, so long as it’s not too transparent. My figure is not up to too much revelation these days…

Tomorrow I shall make nightie number two in the blue colourway. It has a weeny spotted grid in the background and very graphic peonies grading from white to pale blue with a hint of pink in the centre.  And the nice thing about both lots of fabric is that I have a really good amount left over for something else, including scraps which are perfect to make hankies.  Lovely lawn hankies, nothing nicer (unless it’s fine linen, but who can afford that these days?).

Just don’t do it…

Today, I’m in quilt binding hell.  For those of you more interested in recipes or gardening, you may wish to quit now, as it’s going to be a short and slightly grumpy post!  

A nice cup of coffee is what's needed here

A nice cup of coffee is what’s needed here

I need a coffee break…. OK, I’ve finished the quilting on Morning Tea at the Quilting Bee.  No photo, because it’s not at a point where I want to show it, but I’ll be there tomorrow, and will post the finished thing.  Hurray, or more likely, thank God.  Now it’s time to bind the bugger.

Of course, my overweening ambition made me design the thing with a scalloped edge. Deeply scalloped, not just a gentle curve.  To my fellow quilters out there: Just don’t.   My bias strip is fraying and slipping, my hands are lacerated by pins, my shoulders are like rock – sore rock – and my temper is rising fast.  It’ll be OK in the end, but the journey is very, very uncomfortable.  Gentle curves = nice. Deep curves = a rod for my back.  A good lesson for the future, but a hurdle to be overcome today.  It needs to be finished this afternoon before we go round to the Dowager’s for dinner.  I shall have a calm and restful day tomorrow whipstitching down the other half of the bias binding on the back of the quilt.  Then I shall wash it to set all the stitching and make it fluff out.  After that, I just have to label it, write a card to go with it, and I can send it off to CanDo Cancer Trust with a massive sigh of relief, and devote my energy to something a little more straightforward.

There are three potential quilts jumping up and down going “me! me!”.  That’s even before the one I promised last year that I’d make for my brother, which is another over-ambitious hair-tearer, but not quite as challenging as this one has been.

I need a quilt holiday – a nice easy, pretty, quick quilt to make me fall in love with quilting again…