Wednesday, 29 June 2011

This week's project

Greetings people!!

It's time for something new! Well, this week's project isn't exactly new, it's a dress I started for last year's work Christmas party. Despite staying up late every night working on it the week leading up to the party, it too was thrown down in disgust and I had to go with Plan B.

The problems I experienced with this dress were relatively minor but with the clock ticking they really slowed me down. First problem: I forgot to shorten the bodice to allow for my short torso so it sat badly at the front. The second problem: the cap sleeves. The petal shapes were so large once on the dress they looked like something from Star Trek! Off with the cap sleeves!! The problem which led to my meltdown the night before the party was only discovered at the last minute. The peplum frill was too long and when tied at the front they overlapped. Trust me, it looked terrible. Into the UFO pile for you Simplicity 1172!

Mdblm & I are off to see The Burlesque Hour this weekend so I thought it a good time to revisit this dress.

Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

An unexpected afternoon outing

Mdblm had an appointment in a neighbouring town on Saturday so I enlisted his help to take pics of The Nemesis. I had however completely forgotten they where hosting the 15th annual Kilmore Celtic Festival so things were a bit busier than expected. No matter, we took advantage of the festivities and spent the afternoon wandering around the various stalls. Mdblm purchased a selection of no less than nine different flavours of fudge and has now completely demolished the lot!! I gave up my share after one piece, too much lactose for me.

Here are some pics of the festival... 
Mackenzie family crest & motto

Embroidery on front panel of dancer's dress

A Gypsy fortune teller...?

Pipe band member with the coolest side-burns ever!

Monday, 27 June 2011

On a cold winter's day...

The weather here has not been that great for taking photos but this weekend Dblm & I took a trip to a neighbouring town. I decided it was time to brave the cold and make the most of the opportunity.

So, after roughly four years of floating in the ether of inspiration, The Nemesis is complete and here it is in all its plaid glory!

At least the plaid lines up on the back...
One of my favourite design features, the waist darts.

So happy to be finished!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Tam Vs The Nemesis - Round 3

After my success with the welted pockets on the bust, the rest of construction was pretty much plain sailing. The side seams of the skirt matched the bodice side seams and the bodice zipper lined up with the skirt center seam. Woo hoo!! Oh, and I forgot to mention the dress is completely lined and the lining sits perfectly inside. The hand-sewing was a bitch but totally worth it in the long run, you can barely see the stitches!

Of all of the design features on this dress, I really love the center waist darts but the whole bodice is pretty special. One design feature which is not visible but is still cool just the same are the nifty little half-moon shaped pieces which were sewn on the shoulders to help them softly 'puff'' and not flop while you're wearing it. Clever, huh?!

So after all this time, here it is on the dress form but there'll be more pics of it in action in the next day or two.

The score: Tam - 2, The Nemesis - 1

I have conquered The Nemesis!!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Well hello Lucille! How do you do?

Look what arrived in the post yesterday courtesy of Ebay...

Isn't she adorable?!! Lucille is the latest addition to my ever growing collection of sweetheart brooches and wire name pins. I find the intricate twisting of a single piece of wire to make these brooches quite amazing. I also imagine some lonesome fellow painstakingly bending them into being, a real labour of love.

Looks like Mildred has some competition in the popularity stakes!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Fans & Tease

This weekend was a complete write-off due to a big Friday night - funny how the older you get the longer a hangover lasts - but the previous weekend saw The Australian Burlesque Festival arrive in Melbourne. There were workshops and shows galore so I decided to take the opportunity to learn a new skill - Fans & Tease - a-la Sally Rand or Mona Vaughan.

Mona Vaughan
The workshop seemed to be directed more towards those wanting to perform but it was still fun. We learnt how to walk onto the stage - strut with loads of confidence; remove gloves seductively, including using your teeth - don't shove your fingers into your mouth!; and a short routine using basic fan techniques. My favourite by far was what I like to call the 'clamshell' - both fans opening to reveal the performer. I didn't get much of a chance to take photos during class but here are a few of the venue and some beautiful full-sized fans.

The Venue - Burlesque Bar, Johnston St, Fitzroy.

The gorgeous fans of Delores Daiquiri

Sadly, with two curious cats in the house, I don't think there'll be much fan dancing going on here!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Hey presto!

After the last bit of intense sewing on The Nemesis, I needed a break. I vaguely recall starting this skirt roughly three years ago; the fabric is beautiful but it just wasn't working.

The seams in this skirt are in the front and back rather than the sides which makes it near impossible to shape. Time to give up on this one and find a new ball of string to play with.

After unpicking the so-called 'wiggle' skirt, I discovered there was enough fabric to whip up this straight skirt from the 1940s. I'm not hugely keen on the top but I've a lavender Katherine Hepburn style blouse in the works which will match perfectly.


Much better! Not bad for a weekend at the machine.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Tam Vs The Nemesis – Round 2

Ordinarily the mismatching of the plaid on the skirt would be enough to make me abandon a project altogether but this was The Nemesis and I refused to be beaten so easily. That said, it was with great trepidation I embarked on the bodice front. The external darts at the waist were a snap, nothing I haven’t done before; the exposed zipper was hand-picked to ensure (near) perfect plaid matching, then machine sewn. I chose a slightly chunkier zip than suggested because I wanted it to have a bit more impact and not get lost in the pattern of the fabric.
Bodice front showing waist darts & bust pocket markings.
So far, so good... Now for the welted pockets over the bust.  There’s no getting out of it, the rest of the bodice can’t progress until the pockets are sewn in.

The welted pockets are the sole reason I’ve been afraid of this pattern, I mean you have to cut into a major piece of the fabric! Talk about frightening!! So, for the first time in my sewing life I decided to make a practice pocket first. Smart. I’m not going to go into detail, but let’s just say that although it took me nearly an hour, I conquered that sucker!! The welts sat perfectly flat to hide the slash and the pocket piece slid right on though, you would even know they’re inside! Time for a victory dance! 

Inside pocket

Outside pocket welt

Pocket with scarf!
With my confidence on a high I quickly moved on to the real ones so as not to lose my momentum. One great thing about the bodice matching, I was able to get the pockets in exactly the same position on both sides. Sadly the real pockets aren’t as perfect as the practice one, probably because I wasn’t as meticulous, but I’m fairly happy with the result.

The score: Tam - 1, The Nemesis - 1

Friday, 10 June 2011

Fashionable Friday

Wow, where has the week gone?! I've been super slack on all fronts this week and it's taken most of my energy just to get out of bed on these insanely cold mornings. So in tribute to the arrival of real winter weather here in Melbourne I've got a collection of lovely knits from the 1930s & 40s.

Such a shame I can't knit... (sigh)


Friday, 3 June 2011

Fashionable Friday

Welcome to Fashionable Friday! Today's post features pages from a Victorian country newspaper called The Weekly Times, which is still being published today. The thing I find amazing about these pages is they were printed during a time when colour printing was rare, not to mention expensive.

Enjoy these wonderful winter-warming creations!!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Tam Vs The Nemesis - Round 1

As mentioned in my first post The Nemesis is Simplicity 3162, a pattern I have owned since my early days of collecting. While I really like the cravat worn with style 2, it was style 1 which caught my eye. External angled darts on the waistline, a zipper front, welted pockets, and of course it had to be made in plaid, as suggested by the previous owner. When I came across this amazing green and brown plaid in the discounted pile at a Spotlight store, I knew I had found my fabric.

Perfect! Now all I needed to do was get on and make it.
Several years later inspiration finally struck and it was time for The Nemesis to come into being. The thing which scared me about this pattern are the welted pockets but there were plenty of easy bits I could work on first before worry about them. After laying out the pattern pieces to make sure I had enough fabric, I got to work. Each piece was meticulously checked and double checked to ensure the grain lines were going the same direction and the angles were consistent with the pattern markings. So far, so good. Cutting out progressed smoothly, with enough fabric remaining for use at a later date as accent or contrast pieces.
To begin all edges were overlocked (serged) to stop the fabric fraying, and makes for a much neater finish. I then marked out and stitched all bodice darts before joining the front and back skirt seams. It was here I hit a snag... The lines didn't match up!! Oh horror of horrors!

No matter how hard I tried I just couldn't get it to work so after a frustrating hour or so I threw it down in disgust. The Nemesis wins this round....
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