Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Time for another Suit!

So with the green suit such a success I decided to start on my next one.  I have one more suit planned with modern fabric, so I thought I would tackle it before I got into the vintage fabric from the dressmakers box, cause that stuff just can't be replaced if I make a mistake!

I pulled out the pattern to have a look.

I completely fell in love with this pattern when I found it.  The cut of the jacket just kills me!  The points on the collar, the point at the back, the pointy cuffs!!!  I DIED!!!!!  It didn't matter that it was too small, I bought it anyway.

And then when I was wondering what colour to make it up in, this hat arrived.

This photo makes me miss my long hair..... sigh.....

This hat is a bit damaged (the feather has no feathery bits) but it was just SO AWESOME that I couldn't pass it up when I saw it.  This hat needs something tailored and sharp and sexy as hell, which is exactly this suit!  I bought some black wool and set it aside until a few weekends ago when I got it all out to make a start.

First up I needed to do a mock-up of the jacket, cause it wasn't going to fit straight out of the envelope.  I did some measurements and cut out what I hoped would work from some scraps on my floor.

There were a couple of things that I needed to fix, but it was pretty good to go really!  So I unpicked it and then used it as my pattern to cut out the wool.

Oh!  And I started a new DVD series in this process!

The House of Eliott is a series that originally was screened in the early 1990s.  Its set in the 1920s and is about two sisters who's father dies (in the first episode) and they need to find a way to make a living.  They start a dressmaking business which turns into a couture fashion house.

Whilst the filming looks a bit dated it is very well done and very enjoyable to watch!  I'm not quite at the end of season 1, but I would recommend it to anyone who likes watching this kind of thing!

As you can see from the photo above, once I had cut out the wool for the jacket, I then cut out two thicknesses of hair canvas to interface it with.  I think the thicker stuff will be necessary in the jackets pointy bits to keep them super pointy.

At the end I had this big pile of hand sewing to do.

The colourful bias tape is hand sewed on both edges - the inner edge is sewed to the hair canvas, and the outer edge is sewed to the wool just outside the seam allowance.

I realised I had done all of the bias tape without ironing out one fold... but to be honest I'm not sure if that really matters much...

There are eight pieces in this pile, and I have been working my way through them.

But not quick enough to actually start construction on the weekend just gone.  I didn't want to spend a whole day sitting and hand sewing, so I decided to start on another project I need to get moving on, and give myself this week to get through the rest of the hand sewing.

I am going on holidays in 8 and a half weeks (more on this holiday later) and I really wanted to have some comfortable and easy to wear blouses and skirts to wear.  I have been collecting vintage border prints for a while now, and had decided they would make the perfect holiday wardrobe. Here are the fabrics.

To see bigger pictures of most of these fabrics, have a look at this blog post

And then I realised I actually had 7 border prints, not 6!

I bought this one at the Rose Seidler House 50s Fair last year, which I did a blog post about here

I got all the fabrics out and gave each of them an iron, turning up and ironing how much hem I wanted each to have.  Then I measured and marked the fabric at 28" from the hem, and cut off the excess at the top and put it aside.  These bits will be used to make the waistbands when I get to it.

Then I started sewing the ends of the lengths together to form a tube.  I got through four of them before I ran out of sewing time.

I have since realised that this holiday is going to sneak up quicker than I thought it would, so when I sew on the weekends from now until when I leave, I will be devoting one day to my black suit, and one day to my holiday wardrobe.  Assembly line sewing isn't very exciting but I'm using some amazing vintage fabrics for the skirts, and some gorgeous modern colours and patterns for blouses, so I will get some joy out of it!

So what do you think of my hat/suit plans?  Has anyone got any tips for assembly line sewing?


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Wicked Weekend and the Green Suit makes a Debut!

Last weekend was FABULOUS! 

Remember the tour I did last year to LA (that I blogged about here, here and here), well there have been two of those tours, and on the weekend we had a reunion in Melbourne!

Those of us flying in from interstate flew in roughly at about the same time.  Half of us were picked up by Nada (a Melbourne local) and I hired a car for the rest of us.

And can I say my hire car WAS FREE!!!!!  They were running a promotion that every 20th car hired around the country was free, and I got one!  Sadly, we couldn't fit us and our luggage into it, so I had to pay a bit for an upgrade, but it was worth it.  Trust me, this boot was full to the roof on the run back to the airport!

We couldn't check into our hotel until mid afternoon, so we went straight to a vintage warehouse to shop!

That isn't my fur, he just looked lonely so I carried him around for a bit

We went to a place called Fossil Vintage, and as well as having clothes they had furniture and shop fittings and all manner of things.  I didn't find anything to buy, but other girls did!

After lunch, we checked into our hotel, and got ready for our night out.  You see, its called the Wicked Weekend because on Friday night we went to The Regent Theatre to see Wicked!

Here is a quarter of the group.  From L to R
Miss Kim (our organiser extraordinaire), Anna, Nada, and me!

We caught a maxi-taxi to the magnificent old theatre and met up with some other girls who were spending some time with us on the weekend.  One of whom was Esz - frequent reader and commenter on this blog!

And yes, we have matching hair...

Check out the inside of the theatre!

As per usual, a large group of ladies (and 1 token man) all dressed in vintage make quite an impact.  Especially when there were people there who obviously didn't look in a mirror before they walked out the door (I am referring to you who wore tracksuit pants!!!).  Clearly going to the theatre is not the big night out it once was!  So there was a lot of looks and people asking for our photos.

The show was great, and the costumes were fabulous!  I found most of the costumes to be quite 1940s inspired actually, and most of the time I was so distracted by working them out that I lost track of the storyline!

Some of the girls went out after the show, but I'd gotten up early and even then almost missed my flight, so I went home to bed.

The next morning we went around the corner to breakfast at a lovely place called Ethos Cafe.  They were more than happy to take a large group without a booking and the food and coffee were great.  Some of us needed the coffee more than others *ahem* hang overs *ahem*

From L to R - Marianna, Emma, Sam, Kasenya, Anna, Nada, Kim, me!

So have the eagle eye'd amongst you spotted my green suit?  We were spending the day shopping so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to wear it for the first time!

Meet Wallace - he's my gorgeous red fox stole with the big eyes that reminded Kim of Wallace and Grommit!  Oh, and thanks to Esz for being my photographer.

The morning was spent fabric shopping with Nada and Kim.  Nada (being a local) took us to her favourite fabric shops, one of which was Rathdowne Fabrics.  I might have gone a little crazy...

They had an amazing collection of vintage sewing machines on display!

Rathdowne sell a lot of things that I normally have to buy on the internet without touching it - things like wools and silks.  I purchased some wool, some silk, and a fun 1970s stripey sheer which you will see later (mainly because I forgot to take a photo of it) and some wool suiting for Nada to make me some pants.

Nada sews amazing 1940s pants to sell from her facebook page Something Else Clothing.  And since I find no joy in sewing pants, but kinda need a couple of pairs, I'm getting Nada to do them!  Its a win/win!!

That evening we went out to Pollys and to the LuWow - both bars just around the corner from where we were staying.  So we got frocked up again and went out on the town!

Polly's is a fabulous vintage themed cocktail bar full to the brim with antique lounges and chairs to sit on.  Sadly it was very dark in there so I didn't get any decent photos.  After drinks there, we went to The Luwow which is a fabulous tiki themed restaurant and bar that has live bands!  It was so much fun!!

After dinner and dancing we went back to one of the apartments for some more wine and nibbles.  Which was when I finally got a decent photo of the outstanding lurex dress I was wearing.

In a hilarious turn of events - the only people wearing colour (Vaeda and I) were wearing the same colour!!!

The next morning found us back at the same cafe for breakfast.  Much more coffee was needed this time to cure people's hangovers....  But after we checked out of the hotel we headed to the Waverley Antiques Centre - which turned out to be what dreams are made of (mine anyway).  An enormous warehouse FULL of antiques and vintage!!!

And the odd adorable puppy!

I wandered around with Marianna and we found some awesome things, some funny things, and some weird things.  Lets start with the weird.


Then there was the funny...

A giant marble telephone

"Mavis, that's down right shocking!"

Sawing Machine?????

Ohhhhh!  SEWING machine!!!

And then there was the down-right awesome!

I absolutely would have purchased this sewing machine if I could easily get it home!  The shape of it reminded me of a 1930s two door roadster!

 Possibly the best taxidermy fox I have EVER SEEN!

Which gave me another opportunity to use my (dreadful) acting skills!

And then it was time for us all to take ourselves and our overladen bags back home.  It truly was a great fun weekend and I can't wait to catch up with all the girls again soon!


PS.  Look who was waiting for me when I got home - LOVE!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Green Suit is A SUIT!!!!

Well didn't I have a productive weekend!  I suppose it helps that I did some work on the suit during the week, and I had Friday off work. This was because I had a hiccup with my medication and the depression had started to rear its head again.  All is fixed now though (thank goodness!) and I'm firing again on all cylinders!

At the end of my last post, I had the jacket all together, but had forgotten to put the bound buttonhole windows on the facing.  Oops!  The first job was to get them done.  So I put pins through the button holes I had made to mark where the corners should be on the facing.

Then I cut and marked 6 squares of silk organza and pushed them down on the pins.

And then I pinned them down so they were properly flat and I sewed with a tiny stitch length around those little rectangles that you see chalked on the organza.  And this is the reason why you do this first:

 Manipulating this much fabric through the sewing machine is a complete bitch.  But I was patient and I got it all done without any further issues.  I still need to sew these down so they don't move about, but the hard work is done!

Next up were shoulder pads.  I had previously made shoulder pads and the result was a bit meh, so for this suit I thought I would google around and find a tutorial that looked like it produced a better result and I would try their method out.  I found this one, and can I tell you it has changed my life!  I followed it and it made the best shoulder pads I have ever seen!.

First up it has you trace the front and back part of your pattern at the shoulder onto some paper and mark some points on it.  Then you use a protractor (thank goodness I have a school age child in my house so I could borrow his!) to draw arcs, so you end up with something looking like this:

Then you use this pattern to cut out a variety of hair canvas, cotton fabric, and fusible fleece.  I don't have fusible fleece and I didn't want to tempt fate by going to Spotlight (I always come back with more than I intend to) so I just used the cotton batting that I had, and some sheets of finely spun glue.

I ended up with all of this:

I then stacked these pieces up as directed, and sewed the line and ironed them all as shown in the tutorial.  The final step is to pin them around a sleeve roll and give them a good iron/steam and let them cool.

Awesome, awesome tutorial!  I can't recommend it highly enough.  But I wouldn't attempt it without the fusible fleece or the cotton batting and glue like I did, because I'm pretty sure its the glue and all the heat and steam that allows them to hold their shape.

Anyway, on with it!

I sewed them in and put in the lining, which went in brilliantly!  All I had to do was hand sew the bottom of the lining to the facing of the jacket (I almost cut the lining to short when I chopped off the excess!  Shhhh I think I got away with it!!)

And with that the jacket was done! (well, done minus the buttons and a little bit of hand sewing!!)

Then I tackled the skirt.  And by tackled I mean that I easily sewed it all together without a single problem.  I did insert some hair canvas in the waistband to give it some strength, but thats all I did that was unusual.


You will notice that I haven't hemmed the skirt yet (if you look closely).  This is because parts of the skirt are on the bias and I didn't want to go to all the effort of hemming it only to have parts of it drop and have the lining show, or end up with an uneven hem or something.  Because this is a more loosely woven fabric than cotton, I'm pretty sure there will be a shape change.  I could be wrong though...

I'm so proud of this suit, and it really has taught me a few things and increased my confidence with suit making.  I have one more suit to make with modern fabric before I tackle the 'dressmakers box' suit with vintage fabric.

I'm going to Melbourne this coming weekend and will proudly be wearing this suit one of the days.  I'll make sure to have some photos taken so I can show you the finished product next week!


Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Green Suit : Now actually looks like something other than a pile of fabric!

Well this suit really came together yesterday (the jacket anyway)!  Over the weekend I didn't have much time to sew.  It actually felt like I spent pretty much the entire weekend driving the car around.  But I did get the hand sewing done on the jacket fronts

in bed, watching TV with Stella at my feet

And I started pad stitching the under-collar.  I didn't get very far though, before I had to get back in the car and drive somewhere else.  So I finished it yesterday.

IT WAS EASY!  I don't know why I'd always been scared of pad stitching.  It was really simple to do and it really did work!

Then I pinned the under-collar onto my tailors ham, got out my new fandangled steamer and gave it a good steam.

Then I started the construction of the body of the jacket.  I sewed the shoulder seams and then stitched the allowances down (and while I was at it I stitched the centre back seam allowances down too)

Normally I would sew the side seams too, but I wanted to try putting the sleeve in before I did that.  This means you can close the side seam and the sleeve seam all at once, which gives you a really good opportunity to iron the shoulder seam first.

It was actually a pretty easy thing to do.  I wouldn't say that it was easier than doing it the other way, but this way does have its benefits!

Things were going along really well at this point, so I then closed the side seams and sewed the collar on!  And then I thought, lets do the facing!!! (I think I got a bit excited about the fact that it was actually becoming something recognisable!)

But then I realised that it was time to cook dinner, so I put it on my headless helper and left it until this morning when I went to take some photos for this blog post.  So here it is!

There aren't any shoulder pads in there just yet, which is why it looks a bit droopy at the back.

It was then that I realised I got a bit over-excited and forgot to do something.



Thankfully this can be fixed.  It is a bit of a pain, and fiddly, but it can be done.  

Then I thought, lets sit the fur collar on and take a photo!



Now I did actually measure that this would all work before I made the collar, but I didn't take into account the thickness of the wool.  As I see it I have three options:
  1. Unpick the top layer of the collar and attach the fur instead (ugh, unpicking - and the vintage collar will forever be part of this suit)
  2. Make a new fur collar that matches perfectly (sounds like a lot of work)
  3. Leave the suit as it is now and wear the fur collar with a cardigan instead (the easy way out, which isn't always the best way out)
I can't make up my mind.  What would you do?