Trousers, two tops and two and a half dresses

Contrary to the sluggish activity on the blog, the Ladies’ Lounge Sheltered Workshop has been a hive of activity since the start of the year. Before the reportage gets too unwieldy, it’s time to catch up.

Top one: Colette Sorbetto

Actually, I made this twice, but I ditched the first version to the op shop after it shrunk in the wash. Second bash used a remnant of vintage silk from the Rathdowne Remnants haul (I don’t know why it’s not in those pictures. Probably because silk is slippery stuff.) It was a tiny little piece but I loved it so, and I wanted to find a very simple shell that didn’t take much fabric. Enter the Sorbetto.

Colette Sorbetto top

Detail of the vintage silk twill

I’m not much for shapelessness and to be honest, it’s a bit borderline. But tucked in and cardiganned, it’s swell.

Top two: BurdaStyle 09/2011 Sleeveless blouse #128

There’s something about a neckline that’s high at the back and pleated that just looks so damn classy. So this one was a no-brainer. I shelled out my $5.40, printed it and glued it all together.

That's a lot of white space, Burda.

As usual, our friends at BurdaStyle (or BS, for short) have taken English and tortured it when writing instructions. It’s like an intelligence test written in another language. If you’re the introverted type, you feel stupid. If you’re extroverted, you get cranky and ranty. And Burda shelters all the way on the other side of the planet where our pins and dressmaking scissors can’t reach them. Not that I’d ever cut anything but fabric with my sewing scissors. They actually have “NOT WITH THE GOOD SCISSORS” written on them in tribute to Tony Martin in the Late Show, who also said:

My mother’s obsession with the good scissors always scared me a bit. It implied that somewhere in the house there lurked: the evil scissors.”

After the expected BS wrangling, this one is pretty nice. So nice that I made it twice. Once for me, and once for my friend for her birthday. Most edifyingly, she wore it for three days after I gave it to her. Less edifying, I didn’t take a picture. But here’s mine, made from a big ol’ mumu I bought from an op shop years ago. It would work best in something a little softer and drapier, I think, even though BS wants it made in poplin.

Burda sleeveless top

I thought it would make a good addition to my travel wardrobe because I’m off to the USA for a month in a couple of weeks. Squee! Also needed for such a rambling adventure was a new set of dacks, so may I introduce:
Trousers: Simplicity 3756
I’ve now made this pattern‘s welt-pocket-and-buttons version four times. Four times! That’s a record for me. The first was a test run in polyester houndstooth. Not so wearable. The second was a loose-weave denim that never, ever lost its cheap dye stink. The third – the Best Pants Ever. Bright red cotton twill with big turn-up cuffs. Ludicrous pants made ever more so because the fabric’s first life was as two red superhero capes. True story. Then I wore them to death, they lost much of their redness, and they were besmirched by the bicyclist’s curse:

Damn you, chain grease.

I picked up this denim with rainbow pinstripe for a song from Clear It years ago. I think it was $5/m plus a 20% off sale. Needless to say, I bought metres and metres of it. It’s made a dress for a friend, a skirt for me, and now these high-waisted, wide-legged beauties.

Clown pants, clown shoes. Perfect.

I’ve still got the two and half dresses to explain but I’ve rambled so long I reckon I’ll cover them in a different post a bit later.

Minoru for you and me

Indie pattern companies seem to be springing up all over, which is nifty. Yay for them. I tested a pattern for Colette a few years back and they seem to be going from strength to strength. Sewaholic is a bit newer, I think, and their offerings so far have not really been my cup of tea.

UNTIL THEY RELEASED A CYCLING JACKET. Genius. I might never have known had it not been for this post by Did You Make That? (which is making me think serious thoughts about the funnel-neck coat, too, but we’re coming into summer here so I’ll sit on it for now.)

I reckon I’m forking out for the Minoru. I might even sew-along in January. Gives me plenty o’ time to find something showerproof to make it from. And time to ameliorate its only apparent failing: its distinct lack of [external]* pockets. For where am I to put my keys, Sewaholic? Pfft.

*correction: Heather pointed out there are interior patch pockets. Anyone interested in an external pocket modification during the sew-along? I am!

Found it and finished it

At a junk market this morning I spotted that most elusive of dresses… an original version of an old pattern! I knew it immediately as Simplicity 6218 which I made up in post-it note yellow a while back. Too cool. Modern Twist made a similar discovery in London recently… it’s nifty finding a connection through the decades with a mystery seamstress! I felt like I’d run into an old friend.

In other news, I made up New Look 6000 in the past week from a beautiful cranberry red wool crepe. It’s funny that most of the renditions of this that I’ve seen online have been red, just like the envelope picture. I thought it would be a complete pain to lengthen with all the tricksy side darts but it turns out they didn’t need to be moved. I just lengthened the skirt, brought it in a bit at the upper back, and cut the back skirt seam with a slight fishtail so I can ride my bike without fear of splitting a seam (guess who learned the hard way.) Oh, and I lined it too for warmth and opacity using the simple darted front piece that’s included in the pattern (thank you, New Look!)

Oh, another key thing: I sewed the left collar on backwards. It’s traditional for me to charge ahead without double-checking so who am I to buck tradition?

A shot of the kicky little cuffs that better shows the beautiful colour of the fabric…

Jersey shirtdress

The ingredients: Vogue 8613 and a bunch of poly-blend 70s jersey picked up for a song in a westside op-shop.

The results:

Not too bad. I was aiming to test the pattern and perhaps wear the muslin. I reckon this is wearable.

I made the bodice and found it to be waaaaaaay too short. Thusly the waist band insert. Worked OK but next time I’ll remember to cut it longer.

I picked this pattern because of its cute little darts:

I also picked it because the illustration showed no gathering at the sleeve cap. LIARS. There’s so much bloody ease in the sleeve, check this out:

Damn you, Vogue. Why don’t you just draft a sleeve that fits?

Check out the awesome 80s buttons with wacky triangular holes, bought for me by my ma:

This one’s been on the to-finish pile for a couple of weeks so it’s grand to have it done. Also completed today was a quick modification of an 80s skirt in my favourite shade of mustard that I picked up at an op shop this morning.  I took it up a LOT (must have been ankle-length… ew.) and replaced the ugly metal buttons with square yellow ones:

Despite the recent silence round here, there has been a whole lot of seamly behaviour. I’m teaching three friends how to make a dress and they’re looking smashing. I reckon one more session and they’ll be done. If I’m lucky, they’ll let me post a picture of them…


The little blue and red number turned out so well that I did it all over again:

Sadly when I cut down the neckline a bit, my feeble narrow shoulders let me down and it’s too big around the shoulders. So I have to rip out the zipper and take a bit out of the back centre seam. Booooooooring. So, she stalls.

Fabric is linen or linen/cotton blend I got for $2/m years and years ago. I haven’t used it because I thought it might be a bit flowery and girly. It kinda is. But with a rainy weekend forecast, I’ll see if I can finish it up in the next couple of days.

Burdastyle Heidi: win!

Finished – and what a sunny frock she is, made from loud 1970s sheets – floral outer and striped lining.

With a bit of tweaking, she comes out with surprisingly retro lines, I think.

Tweaks were:

  • lengthened bodice 7cm to accomodate height
  • made neckline shallower and narrower by about 2cm
  • lengthened pleats and converted to darts for closer fit
  • sewed right shoulder with larger seam allowance to accomodate my curvy spine
  • added a kick pleat at centre back hem – who in their right mind tries to walk in a hobble skirt these days?
  • cut skirt two sizes bigger than bodice but still had to use teeny tiny seam allowances… oops.

I reckon I might make another with my NZ fabric since it’s so fine that it will need lining anyway.

I told an untruth, though. I haven’t had another go at my block. Pah.

Heidi heidi heidi, hi!

I’m downloading BurdaStyle’s Heidi dress pattern right now. I’ve had mixed success with BurdaStyle and I think they’re buggers for charging after wooing us all over with the original, everything’s-free model, but the Greek chorus of compliments about the pattern has won me over. Erin of A Dress A Day has made an army of them, and I would quite happily follow her directions in most things. Except the penny loafers. I think they’re dreadful. But everything else, very wise.

I’m particularly schmitten with motozulli’s version.

I’m also schmitten with the Cackle Sisters (via boing boing)… enjoy their amazing vocal stylings while admiring their delightful 1940s attire! Striped skirts ahoy!