Rockin’ the rayon!

I was asked by Maaike of MaaiDesign to join her blog tour to showcase the new range of See You at Six  fabrics.  Joy of joy, I just can’t resist such requests!

I joined her first blog tour back in March, way before we ever met. Although, recently I had the pleasure when Maaike popped into our little studio to say hello. The conversation was something along the lines of “Oh my! you’re so TALL!” (me to Maaike) and “Oh my! you’re so SMALL!” (Maaike to me).  It’s funny how you don’t get a sense of perspective on instagram and on blogs.  Subsequently, I made her sit on the low stool in the studio.

So I had a choice to make, some lovely fabrics in soft drapey rayon.  These were my top 4. Decision making is not really my forte, it took a while.

There are some beautiful colours and patterns in this collection; pastels, mint green, pale pinks and some lovely florals but I was drawn to the darker colours. After much ‘umming’ and ‘ahhhing’, I decided on the black and white drops. The randomness of the pattern is appealing to me.  I like polka dots but don’t often wear them but this had a more contemporary edge to the design.

Rayon isn’t a fabric I use very often, mainly because I wear more boxy shapes which require structured fabrics.  But I was excited by this challenge and really, it’s so lovely to touch!  Now to find a pattern.

I had spotted this dress on my Pinterest page which was just what I was looking for. I had a starting point.  I put it out to the ‘oracles of sewing’ (Sydney IG crew) for suggestions. Vintage patterns seemed to hold the answer.  As you know I am a big supporter of the independent pattern designer, this is usually the direction I travel, but I decided to strike out and raid my vintage pattern collection.  My vintage pattern collection, I might add, is vast!

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Ely Kishimoto’s  Spring Summer 2012 collection – Toy Town Eden

After a lengthy search I found it.  A blouse (I love that word!) McCalls 8528 from 1983.  The size was pretty good as it’s quite a ‘blousey’ blouse, all I had to do was hack it into a dress.  I chose view D as I wanted the mandarin collar and the short sleeves with the cuffs.  It also had the required kimono sleeves and the front gathering on the shoulders.

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Ok, so let me just say that I am not a fan of gathering.  The gathering may look minimal on the front but the back was a little more frightening.  It seemed to have a lot of volume.  I decided to trace it off and make a toile.

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illustration of pattern back

When adding the length to this blouse I literally draw it out as straight as I could, a slight A-line in shape but not too much. The toile was successful, although I prefer a little more room around my hips and so added a little extra to the back seam instead of the side seams.  This gave me the room I needed.  The top part fitted perfectly.  It’s always a little frightening making a toile from calico, the gathering looked vast and rather comical.  But I am glad I did or I would have been unhappy with the fit around my hips.

The first challenge was cutting the rayon.  Luckily I have an expert on hand to help me.  Emily (In the Folds) suggested I use her pattern cutting paper beneath the rayon. Firstly, I pinned the rayon together at the selvedges, then pinned it to the paper (using the guides on the paper as markers).  I then went nuts with the pins and then added my pattern pieces.  Here is a picture of some pieces so you get the idea.  The result is crisp, perfectly cut pieces. It’s a pattern piece sandwich!

After that part, it was a fairly easy sew.  I am surprised as I always image rayon to be a slipper sucker.  It wasn’t, it was easy.  I interfacing the front plackets and collar, put a  60/8 needle into my machine and away I went.

The biggest bugbear I had was with the yoke. Based on the instructions, this was the finishing on the inside.  I just couldn’t live with that.  I am not a perfectionist by a long stretch, but I think it would have bugged me forever so I decided to face it.  I hand stitched it in place.  I think it’s a much better result.

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Yoke – before facing
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Yoke – after facing and with hand stitched collar

The final steps were the buttons and buttonholes.  I actually tried to pretend it wasn’t happening for about a week before I worked up the courage to tackle them. I have done many in the past but I have never been happy with the results.

My machine has a buttonhole attachment so I did about 10 samples on the fabric. I even got my instruction book out and went through each step methodically.  I just needed to get the balance right on either side of the hole (who knew this was a thing)? The results were fine but it does make me realise a superior machine may have reaped superior results, food for thought!

The button colour was another choice I was stuck on.  I pinned a few options to the dress to get an idea. When Emily suggested I used all of them I went with it.  The result is far superior for it.  What do you think?

So here is the final result.  I hope you like it as much as I do.

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Luckily the gathering at the back wasn’t as intense as I had imagined!
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Its very hard to shoot the detail in the shoulder but you can just see the gathering here
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I am totally loving the buttons!

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Lucky ducks! MaaiDesign is offering a 10% discount on the See You At Six collection from 12th – 30th September 2016.  Just use the code: seeyouatsix.  

For more inspiration check out these blogging chicks,  ROCKIN’ THE RAYON!

12th of September: Shelley from Bartacks and Singletrack

13th of September: Kate from Sewing With Kate

14th of September: Nicola from Create.nic

15th of September: Anna from Blogless Anna

16th of September: Caroline from Usefulbox

17th of September: Suz from Sewpony

18th of September: Allison from The Tall Mama

19th of September: Toni from Make It Perfect

20th of September: Suzanne from Dressed in Pretty Little Things

21st of September: Natalie from Sew Outnumbered

22nd of September: Jenya from While She Was Sleeping

23rd of September: Maaike from MaaiDesign

A toile, saving me from impending doom!

I have been lusting over one of my vintage patterns for ages, visualising the end result and loving it.

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Very well loved (even before it came into my possession!)

It was time to get it underway when a niggling thought in the back of my mind stopped me. The last time I made this dress was in the late 90’s, pre-kids. My body shape has undergone so much since kids, it’s basically ruined.

So, I decided to make a toile. A toile, for those who don’t know, is basically a trial garment. I watch my sewing friends make endless toiles and most end up being completely wearable. I don’t often make toiles, mainly because I mostly use second hand fabric which is cheaper than muslin or calico, so I just plough on and tweak as I go.  I am also lazy and sometimes can’t be bothered!

I thank the sewing gods that I made a toile with this one. I remembered from years back that the waist sat too low on me and there wasn’t enough room in the hips so I thought I would retrace the pattern and make those adjustments.

I am so glad I decided to retrace this pattern, it is in a terrible state. There are tears and even a piece missing.

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The fabric I used was a charity store find of yellow cotton gingham. It has a nice feel to the fabric but I don’t do yellow (as you will soon see) as it does nothing for me. It’s also a bit Daisy Duke (without the good boobs). But I used it because it is the same fabric weight as the good stuff I was hoping to finally make it from.

I am not exaggerating when I say a toile saved me from impending doom. If I had ploughed on and made it I would probably be crying by now.  My initial idea was that I refashion this beautiful kimono into this dress, a sleeveless maxi version. Disaster averted!

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My kimono to be refashioned!

I made a terrible mess of the front bodice centre seam, I even under stitched it and the facing will still not sit flat.  I also failed miserably when attaching it to the skirt – eek!

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Must try harder…
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The waistline was too low so I moved it up a little
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I added some width to the hip area

My main issue is the way it skims my stomach, I know I would spend my entire time sucking it in and feeling paranoid that is was too tight and pulling. It just has that maternity feel to it.  It’s the one bit of my post-kid body that I really can’t shift or come to terms with! My friend calls it my body dysmorphia issue! Perhaps she is right, but the last time I wore an empire line dress someone asked me if I was pregnant.  Well I had been, two years earlier!

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I am sucking it in here!

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I find the overall pattern unflattering. It really isn’t my cuppa tea anymore. I am a little sad about it because I love this pattern and I love all the dresses I made from it in the past. I think it’s time to realise that clean lines and perhaps more modern shapes are my style these days.

Hi5 rubbish toile!

Shoulder pads worthy of Krystal Carrington!

All has been a bit quiet on the SWK blog, mainly because I have been sunning myself in Byron Bay, the home of all hippies and the place where I was married 10 years ago.  So, armed with children and husband we donned our flip flops and off we went.

I find it very difficult to relax.  If I have any precious downtime, I will rush to the machine or read sewing blogs or trawl Instagram for sewing inspiration, I am not obsessed at all.  This wasn’t an option, no machine and minimal internet.  So when I did have a moment to myself, I hit a vintage clothes shop.  Oh, how I love a vintage clothes shops.

There is one particular gem close to Byron Bay, in Mullumbimby, called The Silver Lining.  It really is a treasure trove of gloriousness.  I could have spent hours in there. I didn’t though as I was getting hounded by the masses, so I made a quick purchase of a 1980’s grey and nude pink check jacket.

It fits really well, but it has one major drawback, it has massive shoulder pads. I love a shoulder pad as much as the next women, but I am not sure they love me back!  They would have to go, I look like a box!

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I imagined an easy job of removing the pads, but no, it was a big mass of foam which disintegrated as I pulled it away – yuk!

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Thinking this would be all I needed to do, I tried it on again but it still looked wrong as the shoulder seam was in the wrong place completely.  I do have narrow shoulder anyway so I decided to reset the arm holes. Sounds horrific! Of course I googled it, and found this fantastic tutorial from Sew for Dough on altering the shoulders on a jacket!

I pretty much followed the instructions to the letter. Job done.  Why have I never attempted this before?  It was so easy.

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A subtle change perhaps, but well worth the effort, it softens the look of the jacket completely.

Farewell disintegrating foam, hello awesome jacket!

Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge 2015

I am addicted to vintage sewing patterns.  I have hundreds. I am way to embarrassed to count them up! My love of vintage patterns started at an early age.  I really enjoyed rummaging through my Mum’s collection from the 60’s and 70’s. I would often steal a few ideas for my fashion design collection that I was putting together (I was 8).  I had grand ambitions to be a fashion designer.  Fortunately, the ambition into fashion left me, but the joy of vintage patterns never did. I don’t make as many vintage outfits as I would like, I used to make loads in the 90’s and then I kinda lost my mojo for it.  So when I spotted this on one of my favourite blogs, A Stitching Odyssey, I was in.

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Here’s what you have to do.  MAKE THE PLEDGE YOUR OWN;

  1. Use your first vintage sewing pattern
  2. Sew up a specific pattern from your stash
  3. Explore patterns from a particular decade
  4. Have fun patterns from a certain range of decades
  5. Get creative with your vintage sewing patterns

This year, I, Kate, pledge to sew up at least 3 vintage patterns from my stash.  It’s out there, now I have no excuse.  Please hold me to it!

So just for the fun of it and to get us inspired, I thought I would show you this lovely number I made a few years ago. The pattern is for a girl’s apron, it was produced by an Australian company called Madame Weigel, her business running from 1878 to 1969 – wow!   It’s hard to date this pattern exactly, but I would say it’s mid 1950’s.

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Madame Weigel’s Paper Pattern 1416

I must have made this with a very clear head as this is the sum of the instructions. As you can see the pattern pieces have no markings, just hole punches.

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The very brief instructions!
This is my version. It’s a bit of a mish-mash of fabric and era’s, but I like it all the same.  The main fabric is a bed sheet, the frill and pocket were pieces left over from an upholstery job.
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Excuse the photo quality here!
Are you inspired to join me? Remember this doesn’t mean you have to sewing up kaftans or flares (although that does sound rather fun!). There are some beautiful patterns out there, most of which you can score for a few bucks at your local charity shop.  I have a great early 80’s bag pattern that might just have to be included in this challenge!
Vintage sewing pattern pledge – who’s in?