The Great WSBN sewing room tour – and we’re off!

Well here we go! It’s spring in New Zealand and the WSBN is going to show you where it all happens… with a little peek at our pretty city, too.

I’m the first stop on this blog tour, then tomorrow you’re off to visit Laura at Laulipop NZ.

My sewing space

Technically, my “sewing room” is a little bedroom on the southern side of the house, which is always dark. So I usually relocate to the dining room table. Much nicer.

workroom

Here’s the back bedroom, where the stash still lives (I’m sure it grows better in cool dark conditions)…

other room
And these are my workhorses.

workhorses
My sewing machine is a Bernina 1008, and my overlocker is a Bernette Funlock. The sewing machine was a 21st birthday present, when I lived in a hall of residence at university. I have fond memories of whipping up dresses for fancy-dress parties (including an emerald green flapper dress with black fringing, and a white one for a friend… someone throw another 20s party, please). The overlocker was a later arrival, but I was overwhelmed by the threading instructions, and it sat unused for a good five years before I finally did a course last year. Now I couldn’t live without it.

What I’m working on

My good friend New Look 6097 appears again. I’m making another dress for a gift, with leftovers into a t-shirt (sound familiar)?

WIP

WIP t-shirt
All that’s left is to hem them, and I’m using Wonder Tape. This stuff is magic for hemming knits, it means many fewer pins and no rippling. I only discovered it this year and can’t live without it.

wonder tape

Next project in line

Ahem. My queue is literally in a queue, lined up on chairs by the wall.

queue
From top to bottom:

I’ve borrowed McCalls 5974 from Johanna and I’m going to make a dress out of this raspberry knit, lined with some pinkish stuff from the Fabric Warehouse sale. Spring’s virtually here but I’ve got one more winter dress in me.

McCalls 5974

queue 1 fabrics

Then I’m going to make some baby sunbonnets, using a pattern from the Purl Bee. Cute overload. The plan is for them to use up all my scrappy bits but in reality they’ll use up about four fat quarters’ worth.

purl bee sunbonnetqueue 2 hats

 

 

Then I’ll be sittin’ knittin’ for a bit, to finish some socks. Every three or four years I get a burst of enthusiasm about knitting and make a couple of things, then swear that I hate knitting and will never do it again. It takes about three or four years to forget everything I’ve learned, and the cycle repeats. This time I decided to learn to make socks. I’ve been using this basic toe-up sock pattern (link on the left), and have a couple of pairs to show you soon.

easy peasy socks for first timersqueue 3 socks

Show off your stash

Go and boil the kettle, this could take a while. First I’ll show you around my official sewing room.
hanging space
Here on the left is hanging space with some overload from the bedroom, as well as some things that need mending and also my pdf pattern collection.

patterns
I’m still not 100% happy with this system (hung from bulldog clips on a coathanger), but it’s better than the previous one (jammed into the cupboard).

stash

Next is a big wardrobe full of my stash. I gave it a big tidy-up a couple of months ago and it’s still in pretty good shape. From top to bottom:

  • Top shelf: Patterns, thread.
  • Second shelf: Ice cream tub full of some coasters I started making in 2008 and haven’t finished yet. Old pile of Ladies’ Home journal mags. All the accessories (zippers, ribbons, tray with all those little bits and bobs we need).
  • Third shelf: Slinky stuff (silks, laces, also interfacing is here). Big pile of pieces big enough to make a top or skirt: 22 at last count. Pile of UFOs (3 at last count).
  • Fourth shelf (the big one): lengths big enough to make a dress from: 19 at last count. I’m sure there are more than 19 now.
  • Bottom shelf: box of bits maybe big enough for baby clothes, or craft projects. Pile of clothes I may or may not refashion one day. Pile of fabric to use for muslins.

sewing cabinet
Then there’s a box of old photos I mean to digitalise one day, then some rolls of calico and tracing paper (as well as my bolt-end of blue merino). And the sewing machine cabinet where I really should be sewing.

ironing board and buttons

Lastly, here’s the ironing board desperate for a re-cover, a seldom-used yoga mat and the Buttons of Shame. These fell off a winter coat quite a number of years ago and I still haven’t put them on. Though last year I pulled out some matching thread and a needle, so some time in the next decade it may yet happen. 

OK, now I’ll show you my favourites from the stash. All of these are short-listed for summer sewing this year.

1. Burdastyle Kristen Plus, and some blue stripy fabric I picked up last week from TFW sale:
burdastyle kristen plus

blue TFW

 

2. Burdastyle Alberta Ferretti dress, and some blue silk that my aunt sent me from Hong Kong. This dress has Christmas party written all over it, don’t you think?

burdastyle alberta ferrettiblue silk

 

 

3. Shirt dresses. Goldfish cotton from Ikea, and navy broderie anglaise. Maybe a Colette Hawthorn?

goldfish

broderie anglaise

4. New Look 6557 maxi dress, using this floral cotton.

u.1 new look 6557floral maxi

 

 

 

5. And my favourite. This silk is from Fabric-a-brac late last year, and I’m planning to make a Victory Patterns Nicola dress with it.  Then I will just look at it every day.

q.1 victory patterns nicolagreen silk

 

 

Favourite thing I’ve made

This would be a toss-up between two dresses. One is a royal-blue version of New Look 6000, which I made about three years ago.

y new look 6000

The other is a green corduroy version of the Burdastyle Heidi dress. I wore this one until it fell apart, but plans are afoot to make another one, and I have the emerald-green yardage to prove it.

p.1 burdastyle heidi

green corduroy

 


Snapshot of Wellington

I’ll leave you with some photos of Island Bay in Wellington. I walk here most mornings.

island bay

It’s different every day.

island bay

There are lots of fishing boats, and you can see the ferries going to-and-fro between the North and South Islands. In summer during the Island Bay festival, there’s a “blessing of the boats” festival, and the fishing boats go round and round the island.

island bay

I am so lucky to live here.

island bay

Thanks for reading. Over to you, Laura!

Sewing for the Fashion Critic

new look 6097
I know, it doesn’t look like a men’s item. But because I’m still hooked on this pattern (New Look 6097), I made one as a gift, and what was left became a t-shirt for the Fashion Critic.

P1010426
It’s merino from Levana, what could be better?

P1010427
Despite the surfeit of free ladies’ t-shirt patterns (have I missed any?), there are few (none) for fellas. So I drafted this one myself. There are pull lines under the arms, but I’ve been assured that it’s perfectly comfortable. Mind you, I doubt it will get too much wear, simply because it will have to compete with roughly 1,000 other t-shirts. Is this the only house in which t-shirts multiply like coathangers?

P1010428
Next, though, is my sewing success of the year. I decided to dip my toes into the uncharted waters of men’s trousers. Specifically, Burdastyle 7841.

burdastyle 7841This pattern had pretty good reviews round the interwebs. I ignored all the wacky Burdastyle instructions and used Lladybird’s Thurlow sewalong for the construction. It was much easier to follow, and it’s just a sensible way to put trousers together.

Burdastyle 7841

The size 42 fit the Fashion Critic without any adjustments. How is that possible? However next time I’ve been asked to make both the front and back pockets deeper.

P1010430
Also next time I’ll make the fly overlap a bit bigger – you can see the zipper a bit (if you’re looking).

P1010432

The fabric is a navy wool/silk blend from The Fabric Warehouse sale a few months ago, and it’s just delicious. It was by far the nicest one there. These used just 1.7 metres.

Welt pockets! Don’t look too closely, this is only my second one ever. But they’re not nearly as intimidating as I’d thought.

P1010434
And some action shots, just ’cause. (He got all dressed up on a Sunday, I think that’s worth some more screen time)

Burdastyle 7841

P1010438

Starring the garbage bin and the dog bowl. Don’t forget to recycle!

 

 

 

Sixty six sewing techniques

Not really, there are only 44 45. But I plan to update this list when I find tutorials for new techniques, or better examples of things already on this list. If you know of a great one, I’d love to hear about it.

Buttonholes

Collars

Construction

Darts

Finishing – knits

Finishing – wovens

Fitting

Lining

Necklines

Pockets

Seams

Skirts

Sleeves

Straps

Waistbands

Zippers

… and many more here …

Two blue dresses

A confession. I am not afraid of flying. I am not afraid of spiders. But I’ve been suffering from a bad case of knits-o-phobia. However this month the Monthly Stitch ran a Sew Stretchy challenge, and I decided that it was high time for some exposure therapy. The first exposure was a disaster. I’ll EASE into this post by making it EASE-y for you to guess what the problem was.

New Look 6097 blue stripe 2

Oh, is that a br-EASE blowing through the tr-EASE?

New Look 6097 blue stripe 1

Pl-EASE shut the door or I’ll fr-EASE.

New Look 6097 blue stripe side

I dutifully cut the pattern as directed for my measurements. Five inches of ease in the hips? Yeah, sounds about right. The pattern is New Look 6097. The fabric is a nylon/cotton blend from Levana (love that place).

New Look 6097

Now, there is nothing wrong with this pattern… IF you cut the size that has your bust measurement as the finished garment size (ie, zero ease).

New Look 6097 blue stripe back

I ended up having to take it in twice at the side seams, and lift the shoulders by an inch, and narrow the shoulders by half an inch. The first time I sewed the side seams I was careful to match all the stripes. By the third time… let’s just say they’re not perfect. Honestly, it was kind of a blitz and I’m lucky it turned out so well.

New Look 6097 blue stripe bodice

The other change I made (obviously) was to put a band around the neckline, and to cut elbow length sleeves. I also left the pockets off this version. Oh, and left the elastic out of the waist seam, and just fitted it a bit more snugly instead (it’s stretch fabric, after all). Final product: 9/10. The journey: 0/10. Version 2 was much simpler. This one is in a divine wool/silk/nylon blend from The Fabric Warehouse (their 40% off sale made it about $17/m).

New Look 6097 blue wool 3

I had an ‘oh no’ moment when I first tried it on, as it was a bit itchy, but I’ve washed it in conditioner and now it’s fine.

New Look 6097 blue wool 1

This one has long sleeves and pockets, and also has a band around the neckline. Next time I make this pattern (and I will make it again, we’re friends now) I’ll make the band shorter, so that it pulls the neckline in a bit more firmly.

New Look 6097 blue wool bodice

So, no more knits-o-phobia! And the rumours are true, sewing with knits is QUICK. To prove it, here are two baby hats that took half an hour to make. Half an hour each? Nope, total!

hat both

Made using the lovely top knot baby hat tutorial. If you know a lot of new babies like I do, this is a great tutorial to add to your repertoire: you can make four hats from 40cm of 150cm-wide fabric.

hat pink

The pink-and-white stripe is courtesy of Fabric-a-brac, and the red is from Johanna (thanks Jo!).

hat red

I kind of feel like I need another month of knits, to get them out of my system.

Budget officially blown (not unlike Australia’s)

It seems only fitting that in the wake of the Hockey Horror Show, my budget should be similarly blown. Although sometimes it’s wonderful to be an expat, it’s hard not to feel some ties to home. After all, Australians love their Kiwi cousins – surely the feeling is mutual?

So, I ended February with $158 left from my optimistic $365-for-the-year.

In March, I went to Melbourne and bought spandex to make Rose Hip tights and a maternity top (a gift). Since the tights have now gone to a new home I’m going to decide they don’t count either. I also bought some cotton for burp cloths (also a gift).

Then, Fabric-a-brac happened, which cost me $32, plus an extra $20 for a Hummingbird pattern that Kat had ordered for me.

fabricabrac

Next, the WSBN went to Levana, a knits paradise, and I spent a (comparatively restrained) $37 on what will soon be two dresses and a t-shirt.

The very next weekend, a local church had a fabric sale, which cost me $19 (mainly in notions).

And the icing on the cake… this week The Fabric Warehouse undercut The Fabric Store by having a 40% off sale. You could tell they meant war, because they included drinks and snacks. I found myself $130 poorer, mind you, $40 of that is a delicious wool/silk trouser blend, to make two pairs of work trousers for the Fashion Critic. Does anyone know a good men’s trouser pattern, that’s formal enough for the office? Other goodies were a navy wool blend knit for a work dress, some viscose/elastane for a slip (and an amazing 80s Knitwit pattern for the same purpose), some green sweatshirting for a Lola dress and some more spandex for Rose Hip tights V2.0.

So, it’s only May, and I’m already $40 in the red.

You know, I don’t care. I haven’t used much stash, but I haven’t added to it either. I’ve had a productive year, made lots of good presents, and challenged myself with new techniques and patterns. I’m going to keep on keeping track, because I think it’s good to know how much sewing is costing me, but I know that every dollar is worth it. If nothing else, it means that I’m a tiny part of a huge and diverse community.

Baby love

To finish part 1 of the story…

Here is my sister in another maternity top I made, once again using the (free! awesome!) Turn About The Room pattern. The fabric is from the Queen Victoria markets in Melbourne.

turn about the room top

Here are some pictures of burp cloths for her baby shower (she said “what are these?” but I assume she’s figured it out by now)

P1010159
I think I used this tutorial. One side is quilting cotton, the other side is flannelette. They’re about 47 x 32 cm (roughly 18 x 13″).

P1010154

The horses and ducks are the flannelette, in case it’s not clear in the photos.

And finally… the moment we’d all been waiting for… after FORTY TWO weeks, people! (My sister deserves a prize)…

baby

This cutie arrived.

Top of the morning

More sewing double, but too late for the Monthly Stitch April challenge. I blame the end of daylight savings. There have been very few mornings lately with the magic combination of a) light b) no rain c) the Fashion Critic in the right mood to be photographer, and d) the model (me) not running late for work.

I have been wearing this skirt to work nearly every day, and needed some tops to go with it. One of the WSBN ladies (I think it was Wendy) did a big pattern clear-out and I scored this one, Style 4268.

Style 4268

Coincidentally, the week before that I had made a bodice block (my first ever!) using The Costume Technician’s Handbook. This book has a rather wonderful chapter explaining how to draft a bodice, skirt, sleeve, collars, even pants, from scratch. One of the things I love about sewing is that there is so much to it, but you can get as involved as you like. If you just want to make a dress, you can go out and buy a pattern and some fabric, and make a pretty good dress. But if you prefer, you can spend years learning about fit and drafting, couture finishes, and fabric. To the untrained eye, your dress will look much like the first one. But you will know it’s not!

So I used my block to adjust this pattern. The gathering at the yoke made this a bit challenging, but I just increased the width of the front and back pieces while keeping the armhole the same size, and it worked like magic. Since this is a pull-on pattern, I also got rid of the waist darts, which made the fit quite a bit looser.

Style 4268 green front

Hmm. Probably better tucked in.

First I made view 1, with the awesome 80s-school-teacher collar. This was planned as a wearable muslin, using a $5 silk/cotton from the Fabric Warehouse. It’s not my most loved colour, but is a great fabric with a mix of green and yellow filaments giving that ‘shot silk’ look.

Style 4268 green back

The sleeves are the same shape as in the pattern, but I didn’t have enough fabric to make long sleeves, so they’re elbow length. I did initially gather them but decided I prefer them as loose batwing sleeves. Groovy!

Style 4268 green sleeve

Next I made view 2, with the pussy bow (I’ve wanted a pussy-bow blouse for exactly ages).

Style 4268 blue front 3

This fabric is a beautiful viscose that I bought from the Fabric Store on the craft crawl last year. I can’t tell you how much I love this fabric. I love the blue and yellow. I love how it looks faded. I love how soft it feels.

Style 4268 blue front 2

 

Style 4268 blue bow

The first time I wore it I pulled on a cardigan and riiiiip!

Style 4268 blue rip

The cuff pulled away from the sleeve. The cuff isn’t quite big enough so maybe that’s why it happened. Anyway I’ve been wearing the sleeves rolled up but will have to either fix it or change it to three-quarter sleeves. I had 1.5m of fabric and that was only barely enough, so there’s none left.

One more shot to show you how pretty it is.

Style 4268 blue back 1