Twinkly tulle all ready to be wrapped

I am officially all tulle-ed out.


But Simplicity 2464 worked a treat with the added tulle, and just look at all those sparkles. I didn’t want to overdo the tulle, but there is still over four metres of ruffles in that skirt. I can’t wait for my little princess to unwrap it. Now the next item on her list is a sparkly, diamond encrusted tiara…

Layers of tulle for my Christmas baby

My middle Miss turns four only three days after Christmas. She is my Christmas baby. I always try very hard to make her birthday special, since it could so easily get lost amongst the hype of the festive season. This year we are at home for Christmas which makes things simpler, but we are also on an exceptionally tight budget while we renovate our house to sell.

But that’s no problem, because this middle child of mine has a few very specific and doable wishes for Christmas and her birthday. Her list consists of and is limited to:

1. A massive layered tulle ballerina dress
2. A tiara
3. A fairy wand

I am aiming for Christmas to be a mostly handmade affair within our family this year. So bearing this in mind, I got started early and already have some lovely summer frocks and handbags (bento bags) wrapped and packed for Christmas Eve. So now I am free to get started on this extra special birthday dress. Although I hate to say, the thought of this project does not excite me at all.

Over the past few years, I have made several fancy frou-frou dresses for my girls. And there’s been others too!


All three of my girls love these dresses, but no one so much as my middle girl. She is a ballerina girl through and through. She nearly passes out in excitement at the mere glimpse of glittery tulle. I, on the other hand, am well and truly over those big ‘ballerina’ dresses. I mean, have you ever tried doing up a seatbelt around one of those things… in the pouring rain no less!

So despite my lacklustre feelings, I am making this dress entirely for her, all the way down to the OTT sparkly pink tulle on vintage floral. The pattern I will be using is actually very sweet and I am hoping to pick up a few more ideas on construction technique by doing it. I particularly love the cute little bodice section of the dress with the elastic in casing on the back.


The fabric I’ve chosen for her is not my cup of tea, but then this dress isn’t for me. It is for my sparkly fairy ballerina and I am hoping it will tick every one of her fantasy dress boxes. Unfortunately though, I am anticipating seeing this blasted dress on her every second day throughout the entirety of 2014…




Hand dyed Hannah

Remember my first fabric dyeing foray here? Well, I finally found a use for the smaller remnant. I always had a top in mind for it, but it took me a while to decide on exactly what to sew. But the other day I stumbled across Salme Sewing Patterns and the lovely Hannah top. Immediately I was smitten.

My fabric was silk crepe de chine from Tessuti Fabrics, which worked beautifully with the design. This particular top was also a muslin of sorts for me since I wasn’t ‘in love’ with my dye job and figured near enough would be good enough with this loose fitting style. However, now that it has been put together, I really like the pattern, especially the way it comes together on the back. 

My Hannah is a fraction too big for me (just in that little area between my bust and armpits) but nothing I can’t get away with, especially if I stand up tall and stick out my bust! I will definitely sew this top again (maybe with the last little bit of my fabric splurge!) but I am not sure if I should do a small bust adjustment or perhaps nip in each side seam by about 1/5 cm each. Doing this might lift the armscyes a little too which wouldn’t hurt. What would you do?

Lace and ruffles

This stash busting exercise was inspired by a fellow blogger. Check out this gorgeous little creation here on True Bias. The minute I saw the lace overlay on that jumper, I just knew I had to go out and get sewing for one of my daughters. 

I had a little bit of white daisy lace in my stash that I purchased from Spotlight eons ago. I’ve used little bits of it over the years, but have always been frustrated at the lay of the pattern. The flowers don’t line up with the grain/stretch so making anything special with it was always out of the question.

I also had a little bit of leftover grey (ever so slightly stretchy) wool. I ALMOST had enough for this project. But unfortunately I didn’t have enough for a bottom band for the jumper. I couldn’t get away without a band since the sweater would have been too short. I actually contemplated going out to purchase some more similar grey fabric, but in the end, I rummaged around in my stash until I found a little length of grey merino suiting that I could turn into bottom ruffles. It was stash busting at it’s finest!

I used the Kwik Sew pattern below. All I did was quilt the lace overlay to the front section and shorten it to the casing line so I could add the bottom band (or ruffle) instead.

 


The size I chose for my daughter is just a smidgen too large, but I think it is perfect for layering. I will definitely use this pattern again, but with stretchier fabric next time! My wool didn’t have nearly enough stretch so the neckband is a little snug when squeezing a head through.

And here is my beautiful model in her fabulous new jumper! At least someone is happy with the cold and rainy days we have been having.




A little bit of Lisa Ho for hubby

A few months ago, I made a great pair of Suzy pants using some of the most amazing Lisa Ho fabric that I picked up from the Fabric Store. The fabric was gorgeous, a lovely lightweight silk and cotton blend, with the most beautiful silky satin finish. Now as I was making my own pants, the fabric caught hubby’s eye. After a closer investigation of my fabric he declared that HE would like some pants in this fabric too. Now he may very well have been joking…but as it turned out, I had the exact amount left to make him his very own pair of boxers slash pj’s!

I used this great little pattern and made up the longer version of boxer without the side slit.


But I can definitely see the shorter style of boxer coming in handy for an 80’s night/Magnum PI party down the track.

I think they turned out rather swanky in the end. Who would have thought Lisa Ho could translate so beautifully into a pair of men’s boxers? Not I said the cat. But I am really hoping they fit…I used his undies elastic as a guide since I wanted them to be a surprise. But even if they don’t, I know they will make him smile because he loves a joke. I’m not totally sure he will model these for a photo but if he relents, I will be sure to update this post in a few weeks.

Vintage floral

We are having a great lazy start to the weekend here. For a pleasant change, all I can hear are little voices excitedly pretending to be fairies, teachers, campers and whatever else their little minds are thinking up on the spur of the moment. I can never keep up with the rules of their games. But at least there is a lot of love in the air today.


My girls are lucky enough to live in a quiet street, with some great neighbourhood kids to play with. They have a lovely time scooting up and down the pathway in front of our house, and generally spend their days running amok. 


Today Miss 5 was out racing around in her new top. A lovely little number made using some cute vintage cotton. Miss 3 is wearing her little Ralphy dress (made with a Tessuti fabric) with some gorgeous green vintage buttons we handpicked together from All Buttons in Newtown.


This is the pattern I used for Coco (View 2), but I scaled it down a bit to fit my size 5 girl.


I’d started out making it for my seven year old neighbour but when it looked like being way too small, I ditched this plan, slimmed the side seams a little and shortened it a smidge for my daughter. But the best thing about it has to be my zipper insertion. I am rarely excited by the way my zips turn out, but I think perhaps I may finally be getting better at them. God knows I’ve inserted enough into all my dresses and tops over the last two years for the sake of my little Midgie.




This dress was made for twirls!

 

I’m actually very comfortable with how I look now. I can’t change who I am and I love myself exactly as I am (although this wasn’t always the case!). Some people would say I am incredibly lucky. I am blessed with those tall, lean genes that we see in so many magazines, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t dreamt of being smaller or curvier, or bustier in the past. As a dietitian and mother, I spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to convince girls and women that they can’t all look the same and to love the body they were given. Make it healthier, yes! But to love and embrace themselves for the way they were born. 

Having babies, in particular girl babies, played a massive role in making me reassess the way I judged and treated my own body. I realised that if I couldn’t speak aloud about the things I loved about myself, to accept my flaws, as well as compliments with aplomb, then how was I ever going to teach my daughters to do the same. Every time my daughters call me a princess or tell me I am pretty, I make sure I say thank you and agree with them wholeheartedly. Over time, you start to believe what you say. But what makes me the happiest of all is to hear my daughters talk about themselves and their bodies with such love and confidence. I know they are young yet, but I am hopeful we are getting off to a good start for a body-loving future.

Now, the point of this post is not to analyse the intricacies of body image, but rather, to introduce you to my latest creation…the product of my fabric splurge! How I got off track in the first place was because this dress is just made for curves, of which I clearly have none. It is a significant departure from my usual style of relatively fitted clothes. But it is also a style of dress that I have secretly always wanted to own. Slinky, trapeze dress, thank you for finally finding me. I think we are going to have lots of fun together. Especially since I have discovered that I can solve the problem of my missing curves by swishing and twirling and never allowing this wonderful dress to sit still. So if you see me twirling down the street, you will know why. This dress is made for curves or failing that, big twirls!


 


On the sewing side of things, I was a wee bit nervous about getting stuck into this project, not only because of the decadent fabric I was using, but because the type of dress I was making was outside my comfort zone. Most things in my wardrobe are quite fitted. I also wasn’t entirely convinced that my fabric choice was going to be able to sufficiently ‘modernise’ the vintage pattern I had chosen to use. View B by the way! But with a lowered front slit opening instead. I am still thinking of adding a little seed bead cord/tie to fasten or loosely tie the front edges. I love the sleeves at the moment but I can convert the dress back to a sleeveless option if I want. It has fabulous big pockets and I love that it is tea length. Although after seeing my photos, I realise I should have made mine a smidgen longer. 


Making the dress was a great experience. I learnt a few valuable lessons. Viscose is tricky! At least, long lengths cut on the bias are tricky, but not unmanageable. I needed to take my time, pin carefully and baste often. I also learnt about the power of patterns. NEVER, ever disregard the pattern. Now I knew this gorgeous fabric had a pattern, but I thought it was random enough to skip matching the circles. I also didn’t think I would have enough fabric to match them. But now I look at my completed dress, and the mismatched pattern is a little bit of a disappointment to me. At the very least, I should have thought to reposition the blues and greens at the centre front instead of the sides, since they are my favourite colours. You can see my mismatch below.


But on a positive, I also learnt how to fit sleeves into the armscye better, specifically fitting them for my own body shape. Sleeves have always been a great source of frustration to me. No matter how carefully I attach them, they still never quite fit me properly. So I referred back to a great little book I had read in the past. Apparently, with forward pointing shoulders like mine, I need to rotate the sleeve cap forward a bit and redistribute the ease accordingly. Amazing! This was one of those lightbulb moments that make all the frustrations of sewing worthwhile. Now, I finally GET it and will look forward to lots of perfectly fitted sleeves in the future! 

 
 

The back to front switcharoo

So my last fabric dyeing session wasn’t a great success. I decided to have a go at creating some floral designs on a light cotton/silk voile. Somehow, my hand decided to draw monster flowers, rather than the delicate buds in my minds eye. I also realised later that I hadn’t mixed the dye thoroughly enough and you can see grainy ‘dots’ of dye all through my flowers. You can only just see this dotty effect in the photo, but in real life it is quite an obvious flaw in the semi sheer fabric.

I can’t bear to throw away fabric, so I decided to make a summer nightie for my daughter using the pattern below. I chose to make the sleeveless nightie in View D, albeit a little shorter.

This is probably the oldest pattern I have ever attempted. The instructions were very clear and the tissue pieces were so delicate with several parts missing. I must also admit that I rushed through this project and didn’t take the time to transfer the markings from the paper correctly (well those that hadn’t been lost in time). I also skipped the ribbon seam binding because I didn’t have it at hand. The dress may have looked a little better with the ribbon, but I still don’t think it could have salvaged the nightie. But hang on…what happens if we turn the nightie around?! It’s just fabulous Mummy, all problems solved, and I especially love the big flower at centre front!

 

The big TWO


Happy birthday my little midgie! No, that’s not really her name, but that’s what she goes by in our house. She is the delightful little runt of the litter, average in height compared to her tall sisters and Miss Five quite likes the fact that ‘midgie’ is also the name of a tiny biting fly.

It may come as no surprise that her gift from me was a birthday dress. Made with some beautiful cotton/silk voile from Tessuti Fabrics. I lined it completely in cream voile because the fabric was a bit sheer. It is a simple lightweight frock in my own design, perfect for the summer heat, and a little loose to see her all the way through summer (assuming my midgie grows!).

My finished Henley

Yes, I do realise I shouldn’t be calling it ‘my’ finished Henley because it isn’t meant for me. But the fabric I made it with is just so soft and delicious that I won’t be too disappointed if it doesn’t fit hubby and I am forced to claim it as my own!

I used the pattern below by Thread Theory and my fabric of choice was a charcoal modal from Tessuti Fabrics. Modal is a gloriously soft type of rayon fabric, made from trees (usually Beech). It is divine to wear, but it does pill a little over time. I find it holds it’s shape well, and if I am making a top for myself in modal, I wouldn’t usually finish short sleeves as it rolls prettily and doesn’t fray (although that’s hardly what I want for this very manly shirt I am making).


I enjoyed following this pattern, but I did find it a little fiddly making perfect buttonholes and plackets with modal. My bottom buttonhole was a disaster, but thankfully it isn’t too obvious with the button in place. Even though I interfaced the placket (in little strips under the fabric but not the facing fabric), it still moved all over the place when I was stitching. I think I will fuse lighter weight interfacing to the entire placket piece next time before putting it together.  

I love the modern, slimline shape of this top. I find it hard to find great menswear designs, so I must thank Andrea from Four Square Walls who introduced me to Thread Designs in the first place. Her review of this pattern is here.

I chose to make the Large size for hubby and lengthened the arms a little. I lined up another similar top he owned to check the pattern pieces for sizing. I am a bit worried the top will be too long, but this is easy enough to change at a later date.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how my Henley turned out and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it fits. I’m a little bit out of season here, but I think it will make the perfect top for layering in Autumn and winter.