Tuesday, 16 September 2014

{ A Wife-made How To } Embellish a dress with a doily

My first tutorial!

I thought I'd be kind to myself and start out with something not too complicated.  Lack of sleep, thanks to a grumpy toddler who is a bit unwell has left me with a headache, tired eyes and a scratchy throat (after two weeks of caring for sick babies I think the cold has finally conquered me as well). So, I apologise in advance if I miss something or something I say doesn't make sense.  But please make sure you ask by leaving a comment on this post - it will be a pleasure to answer any questions you have!

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Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Dear Rae, I made a dress {a.k.a Never trust a muslin}

Dear Rae,

I made a dress.

But not only did I make a dress, I made a dress that I WILL ACTUALLY WEAR.

Hang on a minute, I know what you're thinking - Huh?  You mean she regularly makes dresses she DOESN'T ACTUALLY WEAR?

Well, no, that would be kind of stupid.  I mean, I have made dresses in the past and they've not been worn because they didn't fit right or just didn't suit me.  Which is why I stopped making dresses.

(Truth be told, I've never actually made an entire dress, I don't think... nope, not that I can recall... I've never got past the muslin stage.  Those muslins can be kinda shifty, you know.  Leading you along the garden path, making you think it's all gonna be great, and then, just when you think you've finally got it figured out (always after you've traced and cut out all thirty odd pattern pieces) it throws you a curve ball and before you know it, you're at Country Road handing over your credit card for an expensive, albeit quite well-fitting, lozenge for your battered and bruised sewing ego.)

Now, I know it's probably not the 'done' thing, this whole giving up and throwing in the sewing dresses towel (particularly in your part of the blogosphere!), it's just that after a while, when you spend hours and hours on something that only succeeds in disappointing, it gets a little tedious.  Not to mention frustrating.  And so I gave up.

But mercifully (at least in this case),  I can be a bit like a dog with a bone.  In this case, sewing dresses happens to be that old bone that got buried in the corner of the yard a while back and is now so ripe and smelly that it got dug back up again, just so the ol' dog could have another go at it.  Cos' that dress, I mean bone, is not going to win, dammit!

Now, just in case you're wondering why I've written this letter to you in particular (and please accept my sincerest apologies for taking so long to get to the meat and potatoes of this epistle) but basically, I made a dress, a dress that I will wear, and that dress was your Washi Dress.

But hang on a minute here - I don't want you, or my readers for that matter, to think that your Washi Dress pattern was some kind of instant, electronically downloaded, pdf remedy to all my sewing dresses woes.  Oh no no no no no!

Oh no no no no no no no no no no no!

Oh no.

No.  No.  No.  It was not.

If only it had been that simple.

Once again, I set off all eager beaver, all "Hi ho Silver!", the wind in my sails!  Because I looked at the myriad of Flickr photos of your Washi Dress on so many other people, and I thought, some might say rather arrogantly, "Well, if THEY can do it, so can I!".  So I pressed that print button, I sticky-taped those pattern pieces together, and I cut that sucker out!

And then the wind in my sails quickly become more like that of the wind escaping from a half blown up balloon that's accidentally let go.  And I embarked on a journey that was not unlike that of the Israelites when they left Egypt to go to Canaan.

Ok, so forty years may be a bit of an exaggeration, but what should have only taken me a few hours all up, has finally come full circle after approximately 1.5 years (conservatively speaking).

Now, I need to point out that this has absolutely nothing to do with your pattern (very professionally drafted, my circles matched up perfectly), or your fantastic instructions (refer to awesome tubey / sewing side seams part, for example!!) or the design of the Washi Dress (classic but current, and so many options!).

No no, this was all about me.  This was all about me learning that you just can't trust muslins.  At least not entirely.  You know, like don't stake your house on it kind of trust.  Because muslins are just that.  Muslins.  Also knowns as draft garments.  They're not meant to look pretty, and seriously, how can you expect them to when they're quite often made out of, well obviously muslin, but more likely, as in my situation, that incredibly gaudy, but un-pass-up-ably cheap at $2 a metre, fabric...............?

And now, dear dear Rae, I've finally figured that out.  And I have your Washi Dress to thank for that.  I've finally got it through my noggin that the final dress, the dress that I will actually wear, isn't the one that I start working on.  It's not the one I figure out pattern nuances on, things like cut and shape and style and fabric drape etc etc.  It's the one I finish with.  The one I get when I've done the hard yards and fiddled with this or that (and yes, I know your instructions say all this, but sometimes people just gotta learn the hard way!).  The final dress is the one where I take a deep breath and cut into that favourite fabric I've had squirrelled away forever.  The fabric that's now out of print and which, if I stuff this up, I won't be able to get anymore of.  You know, just to add more pressure to an already tenuous situation.  

But, like my husband said, if you don't do it, you'll never know.  So I chose not to trust that muslin in almost-black-navy with bright orange-red poppies.  Because that red just isn't my shade.  And, after breathing a few hundred times into a brown paper bag, I went the whole hog and did a pointed collar and pointed capped sleeves too.  I know, I know, risky, but hey! I am the monster YOU created.

Ok, so here's the thing.

Ready?  Are you sitting down?

It actually worked.

I know *hands in air* I was shocked too.  I mean, who would have thought a dress made from nice fabric, a dress that I followed the instructions on, a dress that has worked for soooooooooo many other people, would actually work for me?

I mean, I now have a dress hanging in my wardrobe that I'll actually wear.

A dress that I won't feel awkward in when I enter a room.  And for those first few potentially nervy wearings (I mean, I'm only human after all, and I'm just getting started on this make-your-own-clothes journey), well, I'll just shove my hands in those awesome fully-lined pockets and press on. Because, did I mention those pockets are awesome?!  Uh. May. Zing.

So, Rae.  Thanks from the bottom of my sewing heart.

Thanks for creating a pattern that works for sewing novices like me.

And thanks for giving me back my 'sewing my own clothes' mojo.

Kind regards,

Monday, 8 September 2014

The "Spring is Sprung" Dress

Making clothes for my little ones is one of my favourite things.

Mostly, I do it because its the best feeling ever to see your loved ones running around in things you've made them.  And when they say "Is dat por me, Mummy?" with eyes wide and a big smile on their face... well, you just can't beat dat feeling.

But I have to admit, I also don't mind the comments I get when she wears them, to which I can say, "Yes, I did make it.".  Is that terribly narcissistic?

But then, I would still make stuff, even if I didn't get the comments, so no, it's not terribly narcissistic, I don't think :)

"Is dat por me, Mummy?"

She (semi)happily modelled it for me.  There was still some chocolate bribery that occured, but at least there were no tears this time.

I used the Lily Bird Studio Kate dress pattern to make a basic a-line tunic style dress (so I just left out the added features of the Kate dress pattern), and I embellished the bodice with a vintage doily and changed the back of the dress to have snaps the whole way down - a bit more retro in style.  Oh! How easy are snaps when a child expects to be dressed in three seconds flat!!

Each morning Rosie comes into our room, and slides into bed beside me.  (It has to be me, not Daddy.  Not that she doesn't love Daddy as much, its just that she's in a Mummy phase at the moment, I think.  Daniel jokes that, in the kids' eyes, I'm "Number One" and he's "Number Two".)  

She pushes me over, almost off my pillow, snuggles in beside me, and goes back to sleep (sometimes).  Sometimes she pokes me, or plays with my eyelashes, or asks me the age-old question "Mummy, are you awake?".  Which, as you can imagine, I absolutely love at 5 o'clock in the morning.  *eye twitch*

She's my little monkey I tell her, to which she replies "I NOT a monkey Mummy, I a big girl!".
Oh, precious.  How I love her, and her little hands and her long eyelashes and her infectious giggle and her feisty nature.  How amazing and awesome are little people!?  And how blessed I am to have them in my life.

Anyway, enough waxing lyrical.  I've got two tutorials planned.  One will be for how to use a doily to embellish a simple dress, and the second will be how to convert the Lily Bird Studio Kate dress pattern to an open back with buttons, like this one.  My first tutorials... how nerve-wracking!  

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Oh! What a beautiful morning! {Spring is here}

Over in my neck of the woods there's not a cloud in the sky.  It's a be-yew-tiful day.

If I could, I'd share it with you, but despite the romanticism of Dickens, it is actually impossible to put my day in a box and send it to you.  That's right, you can't even see it at your leisure.  Days like this simply must be enjoyed in the moment.

Sorry to burst your bubble ;)

Yep, Spring is definitely here.  It's one of my favourite seasons.  Or perhaps it's more accurate for me to say Summer is my least favourite season.  But then that implies that, in the order of seasons, moving from most liked to least liked, there is still some level of liking of Summer.  Which is completely inaccurate.  I hate Summer.  If I could I would strike it from the list of seasons.  That's it, no more Summer.  From now on, Spring will just continue on through December, January and February, until we once again reach Autumn.  Uh huh.  I like the sound of that!

Summer is just too hot.  I mean, 30 degrees plus??? Ugh.  For someone who doesn't like water*, and therefore swimming (unless I am pregnant, and I reserve the right to change my mind during pregnancy), Summer is pretty yuck.

But back to the purpose of this post - HOORAY FOR SPRING!  The first signs of a future harvest are showing... sweet, juicy passionfruit!

And delicious, red, self-seeding (which makes them taste even better because they're free!) cherry tomatoes.

The flowers are in bloom too, which makes a garden such a happy place.

And I'm inspired to sew for warmer weather...  perhaps a dress for Rosie...?

*Yes, I did say I don't like water.  It makes my hands wrinkly.  Yes, you read that correctly too - it makes my hands wrinkly and I don't like the feeling.  In fact, I hate the feeling.  To me it's like fingernails on a chalkboard.  And I don't like sand either, so that completely rules out beaches.  Which is kind of ironic, considering I live at the beach.