Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September, September, September

Somewhere along the way I neglected to blog my Self Stitched September efforts from September 18. And looky there - it's half an hour away from September 29.


So, September 18. Uh. Seems I was so busy making the Not Sorbetto tea dress that day that I forgot to take a photo. I was definitely wearing a me-made skirt though. Promise.

September 19 - a jolly 26 degrees forecast for today! Time for the summer gear! This time I've made both the skirt and the top.

SSS11 - September 19

September 20 - this might have been the day when I hated all my clothes, hated being photographed every morning and hated the world in general. No photo, nothing me-made. Move along now.

September 21 - By the special scowl I'd say I'm starting to really hate that early morning sun. Cooler day, so the tights collection doesn't get packed away for the season after all. Skirt is the usual me-made favourite.

SSS11 - September 21

September 22 - Note to self. Just because it's going to be 22 degrees today doesn't mean it's OK to stand outside when it's still only 2 degrees without a coat. Me-made skirt.

SSS11 - September 22

September 23 - Since entering my 40s, I've stopped worrying about what others think of me. This includes whether they think I'm a complete loon for wearing stripes on stripes. Me-made crocheted cardi, me-made zipper brooch and me-refashioned leggings (they were tights).

SSS11 - September 23

September 24 - I was going to stay home all day and sew but ended up going to a rental open house for an interstate friend. This photo was taken after I'd had 2 coffees and a chai. I'm all about the caffeine this afternoon. Me-made cardigan, same as yesterday, and me-made kanzashi brooch.

SSS11 - September 24

September 25 (have you fallen asleep yet? I have). This is the tea dress. I love this dress. This is actually what I wore today, to high tea.

SSS11 - September 24

September 26 - my last day of being 41 years old and dammit I was going to wear orange and I didn't care who hated it. Because I freaking loved it. Hated the me-made skirt though - it kept falling down and I really need to fix it.

SSS11 - September 26

September 27 - I'm protesting the fact my birthday didn't fall on a public holiday this year by wearing something truly pretty to work.  Me-made frock.

SSS11 - September 27

September 28 - now I'm 42 years (and one day) old, I care even less about what people think of me. Mixing stripes and plaid? BRING IT ON.

SSS11 - September 28

So two days to go for Self Stitched September. TWO!

A kid who might one day be able to go completely Aunty Chelle-made is my youngest nephew, who turns one on Friday. I bought some plain tees and sewed some patches on them. Took me 40 minutes and a whole lot of love.

Appliqued tees for Felix's first birthday

Monday, September 26, 2011


I had a couple of little sewing projects to do on Saturday which didn't involve Not Sorbetto dresses, or indeed anything overly complicated.

A couple of years ago I bought a red long-sleeved t-shirt that was a lovely fit, but when I got it home in the natural light I realised it was that shade of lurid red that I don't actually like to wear. I kept it in my ironing basket, and every few months would try it on again to see if the red still burned my retinas. Yep - it still did.

So on the weekend I applied some common sense (rare. Very rare) and thought that if I added a lighter patch to the front of the shirt, it might tone it down a little.

My first sewing project of the day was using a lovely piece of Yardage Design screen printed fabric I had set aside for my Tequila Sunrise quilt. I cut out a rectangle. overlocked the edges, pinned it onto my shirt, then stitched it.

Appliqued tee

It's such a striking design, that fabric. And clever. Can you see the {!}?

So project one was done and I now have a wearable tee. Time to move onto sewing project number 2 - a birthday present for a friend's 40th.

I had decided to make her some elegant coathangers. I love nice coathangers. My mum makes me crocheted ones that are amazing, but I didn't feel like crocheting any myself. I used a Cath Kidston pattern from the book "Sew" instead.


First up I made one for myself, as a test. It's sewn by hand, except for the ends which I used the machine for because as much as I love hand sewing, it was all getting a little ridiculous. And my hands were really hurting by the time I'd finished four of them.


I was really happy with them when they were done. I think the birthday girl appreciated them too. Each coathanger uses a 6" x 24" piece of fabric, so it's perfect for those 6" ends of yardage you always have left over when making a quilt. My favourite touch though is the bias binding covering of the hook.

Everyone I love is getting one of these for Christmas. Family - you have been warned.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The making of the Not Sorbetto tea dress

So, as with all things I make, there is a story (people who are mean would say a long drawn-out saga) to this dress.

My brother is getting married in a couple of weeks in Brisbane. I wanted to wear something nice, given the dress code is "cocktail" but I also wanted to wear something in cotton. Sure I could go and buy a nice frock - but everything in the shops for the spring racing carnivals or a cocktail party is polyester or a derivative thereof. And I don't like wearing polyester, especially not on a warm Brisbane day.

One Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago I was reading the newspaper and there was a whole page devoted to tea dresses in the fashion section. And I thought "Michelle, you can totes make one of those".

So I went straight to the stash cupboard, and pulled out this prized length of embroidered cotton from Tessuti.

Fabric for the real dress

Then I went through my enormous collection of patterns. And came up with zilch. Seems there are few tea dress style patterns out there for bigger girls, and if there are, I certainly haven't found them.

I'd just had great success with making my Not Sorbetto top, also known around some parts as Simplicity 2938. And I came up with my second not-so-brilliant idea of the morning. "Michelle, you can totes make up your own pattern and base the bodice on the Not Sorbetto. Because you are a freaking genius. Yes you are."

I knew this could would all end in tears, so I decided to start my design using some nice patchwork cotton from Spotlight that I had in my stash. If it worked, I'd have myself a wearable muslin, I thought.

I cut and sewed the bodice first.


Then I had to adjust the seams quite a bit to get the snugness I was wanting in the bodice so that it could take 2 metres of fabric skirt. I also had to shorten the top by about 5 inches so it came to my waistline. I cut two widths of fabric about 25 inches long, sewed them together and attached the resulting skirt to the bodice by gathering it.

The drafting of the dress

Disaster. It didn't look much better with a belt.

The drafting of the dress

While all this was going on and I was despairing my ability to make a wearable muslin without a pattern, there was a Twitter consultation taking place. Several people suggested pleating the skirt. I also wanted to make the bodice shorter, so I did both. Here is a photo with the skirt just pinned to the waist. I'd say "ouch" with all those pins around my belly, but I have no nerve endings in my stomach area anymore and can't feel a thing. Lucky, eh?

The drafting of the dress

I was onto a winner, I thought. So I sewed it all together, inserted a side zipper (my first! I can't believe it took me 20 years!) and wore it today to a birthday celebration - High Tea at the Hyatt.

Self drafted dress

(These photos were taken after High Tea. I am looking very crushed and very cold, mainly because it was FREEZING. Also, I may or may not be in a cucumber sandwich coma.)

Self drafted dress

(I actually wore brown tights to High Tea but took them off for the photos. Fool me.)

Self drafted dress

And a gratuitous photo of my bust pleated neckline, which I am so very proud of.

I cut out the dress for the wedding this morning, and I'll be making that a little longer than this one. However, I'm so happy with this dress that if the black and cream one doesn't work out, I'll be wearing this to the wedding instead. It doesn't scream "cocktail", but it does holler "Michelle", and I'm more than happy with that.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

'Cause you were all yellow

Last weekend I finished my Dorothy's Tail Scarf.

So I blocked it, just lightly. No pins, no wires, but just water and my hands to shape it.

Dorothy's Tail Neckerchief

And then on Wednesday I wore it as my self-stitched item for the day.

SSS11 - September 14

It's a great pattern. You can find it over there on Ravelry.  I used a skein of Fibrewebs MCN fingering weight and I find this yarn to be the warmest and cosiest of all I have crocheted with.

Here is a week's worth of Self Stitched September. The Not-Sorbetto was worn yesterday for the first time and if I don't make myself another 10 of these by the end of summer, I should be classified as insane. It's comfy and cool. What more do you need?

September 10 - Saturday, cold. Still sick. Me-made cardigan, me-made kanzashi brooch, and me-refashioned leggings (they used to be tights but I cut the toe out of them.

SSS11 - September 10

September 11. Wish I'd stayed in bed but I had an errand to run. Me-made skirt.

SSS11 - September 11

September 12 - Sometimes you just have to make the best of Mondays. This is a favourite skirt.

SSS11 - September 12

September 13 - why is it still so damn cold in the mornings?

SSS11 - September 13

September 14 - MY NEW SCARF!! I love my new scarf!

SSS11 - September 14

September 15 - The best thing about doing a challenge like this is mixing up the colours a little. Today red and teal became my new favourite colour combination as a result. And also my new brown tights. Who knew that new brown tights would totally make my day? Hmm?

SSS11 - September 15

September 16 - Not-Sorbetto top. How fortunate that this store-bought cardi with the black bows matches the red and black bows on my top! I may be looking a little tired here - we were kept awake from 2 am by massive explosions in the next suburb, from this teensy little fire.

And we had a late start (for us, anyway) to the day due to being told not to leave the house due to possible PCB exposure. PCB? WTF? OMG! And yes, I am gazing into the distance at the massive black plume of smoke floating past.

SSS11 - September 16

September 17 - no explosions last night! Hooray! Me-made crocheted scarf.

SSS11 - September 17

In the coming days - how I challenged myself to sew two garments from the stash over the weekend, and totally frittered away one of those days crocheting.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The making of the Not Sorbetto top

If you are a sewing blogger like I am, you probably haven't been able to escape the mania around the Sorbetto top, a free download from Colette Patterns. Everyone who is anyone has been making variations of this cute top, from Did You Make That to Sew Weekly. And then you can see a whole lot more of them over on Flickr.

I could have made this too with a FBA and a few alterations and additions to the seams. But I know what looks good on my shape, and I had concerns that the Sorbetto wouldn't suit me. So I went my own way.

Enter Simplicity 2938.

The making of the non-Sorbetto

I thought I had this pattern already, but it turned out it was on my wish list. So yesterday I bought it in order to make this top (B).

The making of the non-Sorbetto

Sleeveless? Check. Pleats at the neckline? Check. Flattering to the bustline? I had high hopes.

I ploughed through my fabric stash auditioning possible fabrics for a muslin. Something cheap and dispensable, but not too nasty that I couldn't use it as a wearable muslin if it all worked out.

The making of the non-Sorbetto

This was a quick sew. Within 30 minutes I had it to trying-on stage. I should probably admit here that I couldn't see the point of the side zipper, so it doesn't have one. Here's where I point out the adjustments I needed to make.

The making of the non-Sorbetto

The armhole was gaping badly, the bust was too snug, and it was also a little tight across my hips. So I did a little taking in on the underarm seams, and let out some seam allowance on the other problems areas. And then did a lot of unpicking.

The making of the non-Sorbetto

Much better! An hour had passed by this stage. Time to add the neck facings and the (red! It's all I had!) bias binding for the armholes, and hem it. All that took another 40 minutes.

And here we have the finished product. I'm so happy with this pattern - I definitely got a wearable muslin out of it.

The making of the non-Sorbetto

The fabric is a little questionable, as I suspect it is a cotton/polyester poplin (I purchased it at Big W a few years ago), but the scottie dogs are very cute and it will be the perfect warm weather top to wear in summer.  I already have plans to make a few more, and I'm even going to adjust it slightly to make a bodice for a tea dress I have in my head at the moment. I'm so, so excited by the idea of my tea dress!

Stay tuned for that one! Unless my head explodes first!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Projects lost and forgotten, part 2

This morning I realised that I was going to run out of fresh undies by tomorrow, so I had to do a load of laundry immediately.

At the very bottom of the laundry basket, I discovered a lost cardigan (yay me!) and also a sewing project which I had started about 7 years ago and left unfinished. It was a peasant blouse made from beautifully soft cotton lawn.

Forgotten sewing projects

I tried it on again to remember why I'd never bothered to finish it. It turns out that besides a ghastly fit around the underarms, the elastic around the arms was too tight and the hem hadn't been finished. There wasn't much I could do about the fit - it was a raglan construction, so not much leeway for taking it in. However I could add some extra elastic length to the sleeves and sew the hem.

Forgotten sewing projects

All this took me half an hour, and suddenly I had a new blouse to wear for Self Stitched September.  HOWZAT!

SSS11 - September 9

While I was on a roll, I searched through the baskets in my sewing room for other forgotten projects, and came up with quite a few. How embarrassing. Most were from the days in our old house. We've been in the current house for over five years now. Like I said - embarrassing.

This is supposed to be a top. It had only gotten to the cutting stage. I spent some time marking it out and pressing it, and found the pattern instructions.

Forgotten sewing projects

Then I realised that the fabric was questionable, and the style (a shapeless box tunic top with 70s disco sleeves) was definitely not me. I doubt it would have been 6 years ago when I started making it, either. It wasn't worth the effort to make it, only to hate it, so I binned it.

This is a Vogue retro jacket in a pink wool blend. It's a keeper - I just have to construct the cowl collar, sew a buttonhole and button and do the hand sewing of the hems. It would be nice to finish this weekend - it's unlined so perfect spring workwear.

Forgotten sewing projects

No idea what this is. I suspect it was a muslin for a skirt, made from vintage sheeting. What a waste of vintage sheeting. So I might just resurrect this. Needs some seams, zipper and a hem. Also lining - it's very see-through!

Forgotten sewing projects

And this is a Burda blouse which I would love to finish, except I seem to have misplaced the sleeves. Bummer.

Forgotten sewing projects

(Anyone else noticing the overuse of pink in these forgotten projects? Yep - that may be a reason they've been forgotten. I am not normally a fan of pink.)

As for the rest of Self Stitched September, this is what I can show you for the week. I did OK, except for yesterday when I was too sick with a head cold to change into something that wasn't a pair of tracksuit pants and a thermal t-shirt.

SSS11 - September 5  SSS11 - September 6  SSS11 - September 7

I think I see a sewing weekend in my immediate future.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Two and a three and a four and a little more

So, as expected, I'm struggling to find self-stitched clothes to wear in September. Day 2 started out OK though.

SSS11 - September 2

Me-made skirt, me-crocheted scarf. This skirt is a favourite of mine. Actually, so's the scarf.

SSS11 - September 3

Saturday dawned cold and icy. We crunched through frosty grass on our way to the farmers' market in the morning, but by the time it came to heading off to Queanbeyan for our weekly Saturday morning knitting and crochet session, it had warmed up enough that I could get away with wearing this. It's a me-made skirt, and a me-crocheted cardigan. I felt very apple-y, and red. And also headachey and grumpy (it's the glare, see).

And then Sunday. Oh God - Sunday. Most of the morning I was wearing tracksuit pants as I was finishing off the 27 bags for the yarn club. By the time it came to running errands in the afternoon and going to Carrie's place to sort out the club postings, I new I had to do something about this blasted self-stitched thing.

SSS11 - September 4

Yes - I resorted to a summer favourite - a way-too-big me-made tunic over a long sleeved shirt. Note the sunglasses to combat the headache and glare issue (didn't work).

SSS11 - September 4

Oh! And me-crocheted socks! I cannot believe I wore this today, but I was really beyond caring.

My yarn club obligations are over for the moment, and despite wanting to make two quilts for newly born babies, I have decided to dedicate the rest of this week to clothing myself. I bought this fabric at Spotlight yesterday. And it screamed "SKIRT!!!"


It is a linen/rayon blend and will be great for summer ... but what I need right now are some warm clothes that are also perfect for those in-between weathered days, like a frosty morning that turns into a lovely warm sunny day at Floriade, say.

I have a lot of work ahead of me.