Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Introducing Sunny Boy

This is Sunny, our love and our folly. We acquired him about 10 months ago, as a sanity project whilst M recovered from a broken leg. Our plans are to get him roadworthy, keep him roadworthy and do a little scooting around in him. We don't camp, but with Sunny looking out for us we hope to glamp instead.

Sunny is a 1974 VW Sunliner Kombi Campervan. He started out as a lovely olive green machine and sometime in the last 20 years was given a crappy mustard yellow paint job. We've (mostly M) have spend countless hours sanding, filling, sanding, sanding, cleaning, painting, sanding and generally snazzing him up from every angle and surface.  There's not an inch on this bus that wont be tidied by the end of it all.

Here is a snap shot of his rags-to-riches journey with us thus far:

Our first sighting via the Kombi Club

Arrival in broad honest daylight

The horror of the back.....

And the front.....

 The new paint job begins - two tone, white on top and a refresh of the tired mustard down below.

But past bad plastic surgery is discovered....

 After microdermabrasion his undercoat was as smooth as the day he left the factory.......

The cab is cleared of mouse crap and the seats are made useable again.

Check out that sexy machine!
 This wouldn't be a Fabric Tragic post without some sort of fabric mention - featuring soon - Sunny's upholstery and curtains........

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Pustard to Mustard Cowl

Last Spring (September) I had it in my head I needed a mustard cowl, so I ordered myself some nice chunky mustard wool online and found some circular needles and waited patiently for the wool to arrive.

So imagine my devastation when my wool arrived, not in the rich mustard hue I was expecting, but a pale yellow beige reminiscent of the pus from a cat bite abscess - not mustard but PUSTARD! My goodness it was foul and next to my pale complexion it was vile. I was in a quandary - not only did I have 3 balls of perfectly good but pus-coloured wool, I had comitted to 'Buy Nothing New' month in October, and would have to wait a full month before being able to source something else.

I did what any normal person would - I waited till my other half had gone away for work, and proceeded to dye my pustard wool with powdered turmeric on my stove top. Now sadly I have no before and after for the colour, but Cleckheaton Country Wide #0004 Mustard really should be renamed. Next time your cat is at the vet with an abscess take note.....

But after:

It became my first circular knitting project, a simple 4 x 4 rib cowl on size 9 needles.

Before blocking
After blocking!

 Finished item in action. Not been worn in rain yet, so cannot comment on how permanent the turmeric is......

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Wiksten Tulip skirt

The Wiksten Tulip skirt is the first garment I made with a printed PDF pattern. At about $4 its a bargain, but I'm a bit underwhelmed by it, and doubt if I will make it again which is sad because it is a lovely pattern, just not great on my bod.

I measured up a small, but once I had the waistband attached it was sitting too high on my waist, and the pleats were distorted from straining around my muffin top. So I took the waistband off, let out 2 pleats in the back and added a new waistband where I had added the extra space from the 2 pleats. And it was huge damn it.

I was getting over it, quickly, when I looked at the construction of one of my favourite Witchery skirts, which had some elastic in the side of the skirt, and decided the only way to bring it in was to whack a piece of stretched elastic in the back to gather it in. It actually looked ok, but still wasn't tight enough around my waist, so then I added the belt and its's ok now. I don't love the fit on me - I think my waist is too short, or something.

Navy linen, with vintage yellow buttons from Etsy, and yellow contrast stitching. And creases. Bloody linen.
I did add side pockets, using the pocket pattern from my Colette Iris shorts, but they're a bit low and pointless. Meh. I was pleased with the button holes though! Next time I'll try the Kelly skirt from Megan Nielsen patterns - I won it in a massive stash of goodies from her birthday celebrations.

One little trick that I did find worked well was a special stitch on my machine that mimics a top stitch - its a special triple straight stitch (its actually a straight stitch for sewing knits), that does 3 straight stitches in the one spot (forward, back, forward again), and creates a nice thick top stitch - which is cool because one doesn't need to buy thicker top stitching thread - you can use whatever you have on hand. Ace!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Book review - The Fabric Selector

My dear friend Shari gave me a fabulous book for my birthday late last year - The Fabric Selector, by Dana Willard, published by Murdoch Books. Its a lovely little book and very useful especially for a seamstress just starting to branch out into more adventurous fabrics and projects.

It is divided into fabrics, and notions/tools. Within the fabric section are divisions by fabric type - woven, knits, specialty, blended and patterned fabrics. The introductory section has an excellent guide to trying to identifying the type of fibres used in a fabric - very useful if you have a penchant for op shop, recycled or vintage fabric.

Each fabric entry outlines the best use for the fabric (fashion/garments/linings, home furnishings or craft) and then the best way to prepare, cut and sew the fabric, and then laundering advice. There are also interesting historical snippets if applicable. The author has been very comprehensive, outlining if the fabric is hardwearing, whether it irons well, the best needle size and stitch length, and even the best type of sewing foot. She also explains different names for the same fabric type used in different countries (eg calico vs muslin).

The notions section is equally comprehensive, covering ribbons, trims, buttons, elastic and zips. The tools section covers marking, measuring, cutting and machine tools.

The production quality of the book is excellent - it is quite small, about A5 size (15cm x 21cm) so fits snugly into a tote bag and has a nice sturdy spine that holds up to being propped open. The photos are gorgeous and the layout is very easy to follow.

So two enthusiastic thumbs up from me - its fab, and a great addition to my little sewing library. And at $29.99 AUD rrp  (or a bit cheaper from some other online sellers) its great value and will definitely save me some cash by preventing me buying the wrong sort of fabric or using the wrong needles for a project.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Sweet liberty

Oh, Liberty Bunting printed cotton jersey, what sweet joyous future will you have?

Couldn't find this anywhere in Australia, and ended up sourcing it from Raystitch in the UK.
Its divine. Even the cat knows - she'd rather sit on the Liberty than the denim from Savers....

Saturday, 19 January 2013

I'm gonna pop some tags....

I'm very fortunate to work close to a Savers, and even more fortunate that its too far out in the suburbs for thrifty hipsters to venture out and ravage on a regular basis. So I'll pop up every few weeks in my lunch break and have a bit of a sniff around the books, the fabric, the patterns and usually the knitwear.

I've scored some awesome finds - a cashmere cardi, cashmere/silk stripey jumper, denim sailor shorts (a snippet visible in the photos at the end of the last post) plus several patterns including the one from my last post, knitting needles, and LOTS of fabric. The awesome thing is each piece is maybe $3 or $4. I've scored  wool flannel, tweed, denim, a beautiful black cotton knit, a cheap and nasty synthetic printed stripey knit perfect for testing knit tops and practicing stripe matching......I'll usually come out with something worthwhile.

And this week was no different. The Deity of craftiness must have known I was coming. I scored a large piece of black twill-esque fabric perfect for a pair of Colette Irises I have planned, plus a giant set of 12mm knitting needles (with which I plan to attempt to rip this number), a smaller set of circulars, a cute t-shirt to refashion AND 2 great little bebe patterns. My dear friend Caroline is having her first bebe in a few weeks, and I'm putting together a little goodie pack of home sewn treats, and only yesterday was wishing I had a nice simple bib pattern. And lo, I found these:

A great little bib pattern plus a completely UNCUT playsuit onesie thing with multiple collar options. And you know how the modern seamstress loves a cute peter pan collar on things! And who wouldn't want to dress their baby in a onesie that looked like a strawberry? So that pleased me greatly.

Fabric, tshirt, 2x patterns 2x needles = $12.54!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Bel Blouse - Style 2986

I love the BBC series 'The Hour'. I love the styling, the stories and I especially love Bel Rowley and Marnie Madden's clothes.

Imagine my delight watching the first episode of Season 2, to discover I had a pattern that had a detail that was SO CLOSE to a beautiful shirt Bel was wearing AND a shawl collar similar to a suit she was wearing in (I think) the same episode!

How gorgeous is that shoulder pleat detail? And yes, these are photographs of photos taken off our computer. I'm too Amish to know how to do it any other way.

So a couple of months ago I was popping tags at my local Savers mega op shop, and came across this little gem for the super price of 99c, and despite my mother's voice in my head warning me that all the pieces may not be there, I could see in my minds eye how awesomely vintage views 2 and 4 were. I took the 99c gamble, and turns out not only was it my size, and not only were all the pieces there, but it was AWESOME to put together, and I now have the means to make a complete Bel Rowley-esque outful if I could find some teal silk (I already have the red fabric for a pencil skirt).

This is the first vintage pattern I have made up, and it went together so well! I made the short sleeved view 4 being summer here. Its got these super cute gathers on the shoulders, and on the back, with a really easy shawl collar. I'm guessing its from the 70's.

The shoulder gather construction was really interesting - you make the gathers along the bottom line of a dart, then slash the fabric down the middle of the dart, and then stitch the dart. I did try and do it without slashing to keep it looking neater, but the dart ends wouldn't line up, so I followed the instructions, and just finished the raw edges by zigzagging. The rest of the shirt I was pretty much able to french all the visible seams which made me happy. The fabric I used is a lovely cotton voile, blak with a white spot rimmed in a tiny bit of taupe. It was from my awesome local fabric shop bargain table, for $2/metre!

I prepared the facings in a bit of a different way - I found a great tip here at Sew Convert for finishing facings without an overlocker. Before you iron your interfacing on, sew the wrong side of the fabric and the non-sticky edge of the interfacing to each other along the edge that you would normally just neaten (ie the edge that won't be stitched to the garment), trim the seam allowance, turn it in the right way (so that the wrong side of the fabric and the sticky side of the interfacing are now touching), and iron it and voila - you have a lovely neat finished edge of your facing. This totally satisfies my neat finish OCD.

This is the wrong side of the facing

This is the visible side of the facing - who'd know?

So here's my 1970's shirt, inspired by 1950's styling. The buttons are shell buttons I won as part of a super goody bag of patterns, fabric and notions from the lovely Megan Nielsen as part of her recent birthday give away. So yeah - add it up - 99c pattern, about $3 worth of fabric and free buttons - sweet as.


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Dress to Tee Via Butterick B5211

I first made this dress about a year ago, when I was just beginning to attempt to make decent clothes for myself. I wanted an easy belted dress, and this fitted the bill perfectly. The great thing about this pattern (I made view B) is that with a little planning at the cutting stage you don't need to overlock or zigzag the seams. I always french when I can (I don't have an overlocker) and with this little frocklet one can french the shoulder and side seams, and if you take care to cut the back pieces out so the centre seam edges are on the selvedge then you can just stitch it and press it open and its all very neat and tidy.

I really hate things looking untidy from the inside.

So I made it last March, when I was a fair bit skinnier, in a gorgeous orientalesque cornflower blue cotton from Spotlight - but sadly its a bit tight around my bum now, so there's only a top view.

When I bought the blue fabric I also bought a beautiful crazy cotton voile with an awesome bird (peacocks! pelicans! weird red bird!) and butterfly print that reminded me of Victorian era botanical sketches. It was always destined to be another one of these - I figured the print was so busy it needed a simple style to set it off - and you can't get much simpler than this - boat neck, no darts, kimono sleeves. Its a bit bunchy in the back and would probably be much improved with a couple of back darts (if I knew how to add them in!). So a month or two ago I blithely cut myself another with my crazy fabric, forgetting that my weight gain over the year might influence the fit and of course was devastated when my nice loose sack shift dress suddenly became a weird wiggle dress. Note to self - try on previous make when doing another version..... 
The other disappointment came with the fabric itself against my skin tone. I am the whitest person in the world. Occasionally I get some cute freckles on my shoulders but otherwise I am the whitest thing getting around (on a holiday to tropical north Queensland last year I was asked by a lovely man at a market how I deal with 'the radiation'....). So this fabric has a grey background, and full length grey on a milky bod just wasn't that flattering. 


Anyway I finished the damn thing minus the belt, and then realised the fabric had a whopping great printing flaw RIGHT DOWN THE FRONT of the dress. How? How did I miss this? It had a 30cm vertical straight black line from just below the bust right in the middle. Damn cheap nasty printed Chinese cotton! So not only did it not fit, and made me look like a corpse, it had a terrible line in it. By this time I had already done everything except the hem, so I had a minor tanty and stuffed in the wardrobe for a week or so. Then in an attempt to hide the flaw (and for something different) I added some elastic to the waistline which looks quite good.

Obviously after all that effort I was very sad to not be able to wear my crazy peacock and pelican dress, but I had a reasonable amount left over and decided that the top half of the dress still fit me well, and inspired by Grainline's woven Scout tee, I experimented and made myself a little tee out of the leftovers. Miraculously the bit left still had a peacock on it (plus the stinking flaw) so I made a slightly dodgy false placket to hide the flaw, and backed it in a cotton-silk blend. Instead of using a facing at the neckline I bound it in self-made binding but I didn't twig that the smaller seam allowance for the binding would make the neckline a little too high, and its a tiny bit short, but I've already worn it several times (which is more than I can say for the dress - current wears = 0).

Apologies for creases. I literally removed it from self to take these pictures.
And below is awkward full body shot, plus close up of slightly too high neckline and dodgy flaw covering fake placket.

I doubt I'll make another dress, but definitely plan to do another tee version - this time using an awesomely 60's jewel coloured check that reminds me of the colours Gorman often uses. I will do a facing this time (since I've learned a new trick to make it uber-neat inside) and I will make it a little longer, probably with some side splits. 

So pretty - it makes me smile every time I see it!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Do you remember the first time... you blogged?

I (kind of) quote the inimitable Jarvis Cocker of Pulp. This is indeed the first time I have blogged. I flatter myself that I will make more than the tiniest ripple in the Alice-in-Wonderland  rabbit hole that is Blogland. But I love reading other peoples blogs, especially crafty ones, and I have learned so much that I finally felt persuaded by some in my inner circle to blog about some of the things I make and do, love and discover.
So. I love to sew. I learned as a child, and made many a pair of elasticated-waist shorts to go with my Sportsgirl logo t-shirts of the early 90's. But it has only been the last couple of years that I have rediscovered it with a vengeance, and after I was gifted an awesome Husqvarna machine from my generous mother-in-law I was set. 
At the moment I have way too many projects in the pipeline, and way way way too much fabric. I am indeed a fabric tragic, and over the next little while I will post some of my more recent projects, plus plans for future projects. 
In addition to selfish sewing, my other half, M (yep JUST like in James Bond)and I have been working hard on restoring a 1974 Kombi. He is called Sunny Boy, and he is awesome. We hope to have him up and running on the road in the next few weeks, in time for a debut journey to the Riverboat Festival in Echuca. Of course I will be doing the curtains and upholstery..... I'll post some rags to riches pics of Sunny one day....
So thats it for post #1. It wasn't so hard. Now I just have to work out how to add photos....