Thursday, 4 February 2016

2015 - Brought to you by the colour blue, the number 37 and a whole lotta stripes.....

Whoop here it is! The year that was at Chez Tragic. Let's all ignore the fact it is now February.  It's been a good one, with more successes than failures. I've had an awful lot of fun collaborating with Helene and the other girls at Stitch 56, meeting other seamstresses in real life, and tumbling into the time-sucking world of Instagram. I've actually read a few books, yet failed for the third year running to make a welt pocket (oh the laziness and SHAME). Now more than ever I rely on my sewing for stress relief - watching that sewing machine needle go up and down is extremely therapeutic and meditative (until I force it over a pin). Our elderly kitty is still with us despite kidneys that give me nightmares and the kombi is still with us merrily sucking away at our bank account with a new engine (replacing the old one that gave us nightmares). 

My overlocker acquisition has been life changing - it gives me an inordinate amount of pleasure to have no zigzags, and I do love me a rolled hem. I was also able to track down a walking foot for my regular machine and it's been fantastic. My beloved gave me a magnificent old Singer for my birthday which I'm still get to get up and running - soon my precious, so soon! 

Last year saw me make lots of repeats, this year not quite so much - lots of new patterns! And sack dresses! And a jumpsuit! Really I just don't know who I am anymore (kidding!). This year I tried to only buy quality fabric, and only slipped up a couple of times. The stash is reassuringly out of control, full of beauties that mostly have their futures mapped out. I started using Evernote to catalogue my patterns, stash and sewing plans - meaning I can look up what I have or need or am planning either on my phone or iPad.  I had heaps of fun planning for a tropical island holiday - what started as a bit of a pisstake of myself ended up as an enormously fun holiday wardrobe I nicknamed the Resort Collection (no actual outfit photos I'm afraid). 


Lots didn't make it to the blog - either repeats, or refashions or meh makes not really worth sharing or abject failures. Ain't nobody got time to write about those anymore. I did a little sewing for others - the husband scored a few things, my mum got some Hudson pants, Bebe gifts etc etc. Of about 60 things at least 25 remain unblogged, and of those 60-ish things probably 10 have been ditched to the opshop or given away or languish in my Ironing Basket of Shame awaiting a refashion or tweak. Here's some of the more successful that at least made it to Instagram...


My knitting has slowed due to a chronic tendinitis that nearly 15 months hasn't settled. So my pattern choices have to be far more considered due to the extra time it takes me now. I've learned that A-line skirts just really aren't my bag and am in the process of slowly straightening out those garments that I still wear that can be straightened. I've learned how to do a forward shoulder adjustment in simple kimono-sleeves garments and this has helped enormously with tops and dresses falling backwards off my shoulders and choking me! 

My favourite garments of the year are probably not hard to pick. I love them because they are unique, wearable, finished well and are the perfect combination of pattern and fabric. In no particular order...


Ninja Jump Suit / Check Me Out Granville / Olivia Wrap/
Maya-Inari Mashup/ Saunio Cardigan/ Kwik Sew twist top
Barrie undies

Honourable mentions go to a few garments that I love but don't get worn that much due to limited seasonal suitability or events - my Elisalex skirt I made for Frocktails, my Woodland Stroll cape and my Liberty shift. 


I had a couple of real stinkers that didn't get blogged. I made another Style Arc Fiona cardigan (such a success last year and worn all winter again) in the most luscious drapey red merino from the Fabric Store and it was terrible choice for the pattern (despite drapey knits being a recommended fabric choice). Flaccid and limp, it didn't hold the collar shape at all and looked like a haemorrhaging jellyfish. Lesson learned. I bought some lovely Cloud 9 cotton from Spotty and in a fit of insanity tried to make a self drafted beach cover up - carnage I tell you! I managed to salvage it into a wearable version of M6751 but felt a bit trashy with my back flashing (I kind felt like I was showing off a non-existent tramp stamp). It might be ok for pyjamas but it'll probably get moved on. That stripey little number below is causing me the most heartbreak - it might be saveable.... Watch this space.....


I continue to adore reading sewing blogs - for me the sewing blog is definitely not dead. This year I've added more fab new-to-me sewing blogs to my list. Liza Mae's blog Sew It or Throw It is fantastic - she makes me cackle with laughter with every post yet also swoon over her mad skills honed as a professional costume maker. I love Lori's sense of humour on Frivolous at Last (but damn her blogging platform HATES my iPad making my comments very hit and miss -sorry Lori!). I love the simple chicness of Tomatoes and Jasmine, only just the other day discovered Maya's beautiful blog The Minimalist Hypothesis. And local Melbourne ladies at Bombazine have me wishing I could be as stylish and put together as they are. 

I do of course have massive, likely over-ambitious plans for 2016. Those fabrics sit there, crooning at me. I'll share my ideas with you soon.... maybe.... I'm already 6 garments into the year!

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Finished - the Geezer Cap

Finally I've scraped together some time and a reluctant model to post my final project of 2015. The origins of this project stem from our honeymoon to NYC, in 2013. My beloved found a raffia Ben Sherman flat cap in a department store, instantly christened it the Geezer Cap and was devastated when I firmly but kindly advised him it wasn't a winner. He never forgot about it though, and often reminded me of how much he loved it and wished he'd bought it anyway and maybe I could make him a cap?? Hmmm.... no. 

Fast forward to last year when Lara made her Dad a leather flat cap using the You Sew Girl  Flat Cap pattern by Nicole Mallalieu. I made the mistake  of showing it shared it with my hatless husband, who was delighted with the find and proceeded to nag me for one over the next 6 months.



I was able to sneakily make it for him for Christmas and disguise it wrapped up inside an empty chocolate box - it's always nice to be able to surprise a loved one with exactly what they want, isn't it?


It's a great little pattern, and quite straightforward if you have confidence in sewing curves. The instructions are excellent, and if you follow the directions and markings accurately it comes together really well. The pattern is available as a PDF, and Helene stocks the paper pattern at Stitch 56.  I made a size L - not being able to measure my beloved's bonce I had to make a guess, and I used the inside of one of his bike helmets as a guide. It has come out a little big, but for a summer hat I think that's ok. I'd look at sizing down just a little if I make it again out of a tweed for winter. This version is made from a fairly heavy printed linen generously bequeathed to me by Anna. I considered interfacing it but in the end decided it would be ok. 




I lined the inside with a scrap of leftover quilting cotton that I used to make him a shirt in 2014 - I think it's a great choice, and adds a little more structure to the hat which allowed me to avoid interfacing.


It would have been a very quick project, maybe 3-4 hours, if I hadn't been a total derp and ironed the plastic brim. I know, I know - moronic. The brim is made from stencil plastic, wedged inside the fabric layers and I just didn't really think it through. So there was a bit of unpicking, angst, rage, frustration and self flagellation, but it all turned out in the end after I replaced it. I might have to have a bit of a think about what to use for a winter version. I think the plastic is a little flimsy, and my brief online research shows that professional hat makers use heavy interfacing rather than plastic.


Just to prove my love I even did a little crappy embroidery inside on the band. I'd consider making the hat band out of a different fabric if making a wool version - just to avoid an itchy head situation.



So now he's got his Geezer Cap, and it's bought me at least another 3 months before I have to start thinking about making him anything else! It's a great Dude Sewing project - lots of fun, uses hardly any fabric and looks pretty darn profesh if you ask me!


It's a bit of alright innit geezer? 

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Finished - the Super Ninja Jumpsuit or M7099 (plus bonus dress!)


This garment here has super powers. I put it on and it's like a switch flicks. Instant fabulousness. I can't explain it and if you'd said to me a few months ago 'thou shalt make a onesie and it shall be awesome', well, I would have said you were dreaming. I bring you the final piece of the 2015 Resort Collection. 


Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Finished - Bird of Paradise shorts

It's happened! I've finally found a shorts pattern that I'm really pleased with! I've made many many shorts patterns over the last few years with pretty much no public wearability success. Too tight, too loose, too short, too uncomfortable. You name it, I've made it in a shorts version and spat the dummy over nearly every pair. My recent Maritime shorts are reasonable in terms of fit but they still aren't quite perfect and the whole fly front thing still evades me. But these are winners. I'm thrilled to finally get some pics, even if they are crummy iPhone pics taken by an impatient husband (at the Little Creatures brewery in Geelong if you're curious).




Saturday, 2 January 2016

Finished - the queue jumping Marianne

Hello! Happy New Year! No round up post yet - I love a round up as much as the next blogger but I'm still catching up on the last of my 2015 projects, some of which are definite favourites. Nearly there!


Monday, 7 December 2015

Finished - an Inari-Maya mashup from the Resort Collection

I have found myself powerless to resist the juggernaut that is the Named Inari tee dress. I've stayed away from sack dresses, thinking it wasn't a particularly flattering silhouette for me. I tend to go with garments that are fitted at least through the bodice, but decided that I needed to branch out and try some Les Sac action. The Inari particularly appealed to me because it looked fab on so many body shapes. I love the slight tapering at the hemline, and the cool forward side seam - simple but striking. What I wasn't really keen on was the fit of the upper bodice - as Gabrielle wrote about her Inari the armscye is drafted to be very deep, and on a lot of ladies there is a bit of a armpit wrinkle that I know would annoy me, so straight up I decided I'd substitute a different bodice. 





Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Oh hi!

Crikey, 6 weeks since my last post! It's been such a big 6 weeks, and I've been sewing sewing sewing, just not blogging blogging blogging!

Anyhoo, this is going to be a bit of a rambling bit-of-this and bit-of-that post with some dodgy iPhone photography. I've such a backlog of things to blog, but will get there.....

So mid October my beloved headed off to Europe for a work trip, leaving me alone for 11 days! He was going to be away for my birthday, which for me is ALWAYS a big deal. I love my birthday and often it is a festival that lasts at least a week long. I highly encourage living your life this way. He delighted and surprised me with an early present - this beauty!



She's a 1947 207 with a knee treadle, and only one owner! It's so beautiful. I'm yet to get it running mostly because of time, but being electric I wanted to get that checked before hooking her up. I can't wait to have a play. She weighs a ton....

So that was lovely. I ran a bit of a late night binge sewing sweat shop while he was away because when I'm left alone I do stupid things like that. Highly productive but not the healthiest.

Then the day before my birthday my bestie had her first little bebe. Now of course I had been planning for almost 7 months The Gift. No pressure when you're crafty and your best friends are having their first kid! Fairly early on I decided to make a baby bean bag, using the Straight Grain pattern, available here for free.

Now it turned out really well, and seriously looks unreal. He's super cute in it and the parents were delighted with it, but I've only got some dodgy iPhone finished project sans-bebe pics. You have to trust me on this one.




I have to say though that the pattern wasn't a walk in the park. I really don't think it was me printing it incorrectly, because it is nested, but essentially the side pieces were way too short for the circumference of the top and bottom oval pieces. I ended up just gathering the edges of the lining and the base and sewing it slightly gathered, and trimmed a heap off the edges of the top oval on the outer piece AND then I still had to ease it in. It worked out beautifully but it may be now that as the whole thing is smaller he won't be able to use it as a seat when he's a toddler (you can remove the strapping when they are older to sit in).

I decided to make the lining with a velcro closure rather than sew it up after adding the beans. I figured babies are pretty good at expelling stuff from multiple orifices and being able to was the lining would be a practical choice. The outer has a zip.

This is a rhetorical question really but one I was thinking a lot when I was frustrated. Am I able to have a bit of a moan about the drafting of a free pattern? Especially if the designer sells other patterns? Shouldn't a free pattern be about hooking you in and being impressed and wanting to try their other designs? This thing was not cheap to make. It's no make-up-from-scraps-in-the-stash project. If I'd been a beginner making this, and particularly a post-natal, sleep-deprived beginner making the thing with some cherished Nani Iro fabric (instead of Spotlight fabric) in the hope that my kid will JUST SLEEP I think I'd have given up in tears pretty quickly. Thoughts?

I warned you - rambling....

So the day after the little guy arrived was my birthday - 37! And I shit you not my knees haven't stopped hurting since. What is WITH THAT?

Anyway with the Festival underway and bebe sewing sorted I could continue to focus on my fabulous Resort Collection. It was a resounding success and shall be blogged in the upcoming weeks as I get decent pics. As a test run for the Collection I made a double Maritime-Maritime combination for my November Stitch 56 project.


The Grainline Maritime shorts look ok but the colour really does nothing for me, and sadly the crotch curve just isn't quite right for my lady-garden.... Apart from needing some fitting tweaks they are beautifully drafted, and I adore the pocket construction. I added probably 2 inches to the length to make them decent - these are short! I used the instructions for inserting the fly and I'm not thrilled with how it came out - after asking the Instagram Hive Mind the general consensus is to used the Ginger Sewalong method, so that is what I shall do next time. They'll be good gardening shorts!


The Liesl and Co Maritime top is a gem. So many great things about this pattern (which was gifted to me by a lovely lady - thank you so much pattern fairy! xx). The best thing about this top for me is the neckline finishing. It has a facing, and I've noticed a lot of well made higher-end RTW knit tops have this finish - especially at Gorman. I made a dodgy muslin and stay stitched the neckline as instructed but found it hard to ease on the facing, so for this version I didn't stay stitch. The sleeves are drafted beautifully and I think it's even been drafted with a bit of a forward shoulder adjustment already done - lately I've started to do these on basic tops and found this one was perfect straight up.

I've already transferred the neckline over to my beloved Maria Denmark Kimono tee and it works a treat - here it is in some delicious mercerised cotton knit from the Cloth Shop.





So that's a brief little wrap up of life at Chez Tragic. Our holiday was fab and I shall be back soon to start sharing more of the collection. There's going to be some winners - Inaris, Mayas, jumpsuits, tropicana shorts - pure fabulousness!