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Every day I’m wiggling

26 May

Well not everyday, but I couldn’t get that line out of my head, so down it went.

So the big news is that I have finished my wearable muslin wiggle dress – woot! And, I love it – double woot! If you follow me on Instagram you may have caught a little sneaky peak last week. There is one slight zipper related issue that we won’t talk about, but it’s really quite minute and no-one else would ever notice it. Well that’s what I tell myself anyway.

Gertie's Wiggle Dress 1

And as this was originally planned as a Mad Med dress for Julia’s challenge (watched that deadline fly on by) it was inspired by this Joan Holloway number.

Now you’ve seen my gussets, but there’s a still a few other things to talk about here.

Gertie's Wiggle Dress 1

Hems

Given the ‘wearable muslin’ status of this dress it was not going to be lovingly hemmed by hand. That said, straight sewn hems irk me, which made for a great opportunity to try out my blind hem foot and stitch. Again, sneaky peak last week on Instragram. However for you non-Instagrammers, here’s how it went:

Gerties wiggle dress blind hem
Not ahhhmazing, however, still pretty good I think. I was happy anyway. And, interesting fact, apparently blind hem stitch is quite good for knits because it allows for the fabric stretching. Yes, write that down.

I didn’t want to lose any length, so I attached some wide black satin ribbon to the bottom of the dress, and then blind hemmed using it. Probably breaking some sewing god law, but wot-effa.

Gertie's Wiggle Dress 1

Sleeves

Due to my bulging biceps (tuck-shop lady arms really) the sleeves were a tad tight, so they were unpicked and re-stitched with only a 1cm seam allowance. They’re much better now, but I think a smidge too loose towards the bottom. Oh well.

They’re also a bit shorter than the pattern, maybe by 5cms due to pattern matching requirements.

I did cave and do the sleeve hems by hand.

Gertie's Wiggle Dress 1

Facings

Front facing – perfect! Two back facings – not perfect. For some unknown reason my two back facing pieces were way too short. I slashed and added 3cms to the length of the pattern piece and then recut and re-interfaced. This made them a little long, but at least they reached the zipper this way and nothing a little trimming couldn’t fix.

Gertie's Wiggle Dress 1

Zipper

The zipper was lapped as per Gertie’s instructions. I haven’t done a lapped zipper in a garment before! The only time I’ve done one was back at calico square stage all those years ago during my first ever sewing classes. I again took the quick and dirty option here and machined it in as opposed to hand picking. At first, I hated how it looked, but it’s grown on me a bit now, and I can’t see my back zipper when I’m wearing it anyway 🙂

Gertie's Wiggle Dress 1

Overall, I must say that Gertie’s patterns really work for me. There were no other adjustments made for the wiggle dress, and it fits, like a glove! I think some of the pulling may have been avoided with underlining or a slip even, but again, wearable muslin = no underlining. Even when it’s not pulling, this beautiful polyester holds the creases from sitting etc.

Gertie's Wiggle Dress 1

Oh and I must mention this, today I found a pin in the dress. That alone = not funny. What makes it funny is that I wore the dress out a week ago for dinner and dancing, and washed it, with the pin in it. Didn’t get stabbed #ftw.

And, I’ve now cut this lovely lady out in the ‘real thing’ – a lovely royal blue wool crepe  all ready for sewing together. I’m just starting to get into Vine and have put a little video of the pattern cutting on there – anyone else using Vine? You can find me there at ZoSews, inspiring name I know.

Until next time… keep on sewin’

Z xx

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Gertie’s gussets

11 May

Lol. I am still making my Mad Men dress. Oops.

I’m using Gertie’s wiggle dress pattern with a Spotlight satin poly I’ve had for ages  – and I’m calling it a wearable toile (and a bit of a mother pucker to be honest – it’s pucker city here and no setting/needle etc change is helping). Next up I’ll be making the ‘real thing’ in a royal blue wool crepe. Ahhhh how I can’t wait to be back with a natural fibre.

This pattern has been relatively simple to work with, however a new technique for me was underarm gussets. Tricky little buggers. Made trickier by cutting before reading and discovering later that those lines I cut down were actually sewing lines – duh. Ah well, make it work ey! If I hadn’t been overzealous with the scissors, things would have been much easier. But anyway, here’s a light tutorial for the gussets based on my experience.

1. Attaching organza 

Organza pieces are attached to the right side of your fashion fabric. I used huge pieces that were trimmed later. If you look closely you can see that the outer fabric (under the organza) has already been cut – don’t do that! Refer aforementioned overzealous cutting. Mark your sewing and cutting lines too – you can just see mine in pink.

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2. Sew along sewing lines

Sew along the sewing lines – but still don’t cut! 

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3. Now cut!

Get your scissors out folks! Now is the time to cut up the cutting line – that you of course had previously marked on the fabric. 

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4. Turn and press

Turn your organza through to the other side (i.e. the wrong side of your fashion fabric) and press press press. 

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This is what it looks like from the right side.

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5. Attach the gusset piece

Because of my early cutting incident. This was trickier. However, I pushed and prodded the fabric and got the piece attached ok. Just ok, not brilliantly. As you’ll see below. It’s a toile – whatever (crosses arms and sticks out bottom lip). Then edge stitch to reinforce. You’ll see that my corners/points aren’t that pointy, another ramification of me getting scissor happy. 
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6. Stitch her up

When you attach your back dress pieces to the front you’ll be joining up your gussets – paying careful attention to matching up the seams. Then, they’ll look like this. Hopefully even better!

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There you have it, Gertie’s gussets! You’ll be able to see these in action once the dress is finished. Don’t hold your breath 😉

Z xx

PS – Gertie has her very own tutorial too. I’d recommend reading it before you make the gussets. Not after. Like me. That was silly. Let’s be honest, I still haven’t read it…

 

A little Thai adventure

15 Apr

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you may have noticed that I recently spent a little week on vacay! Yay for Thailand! I hadn’t been overseas since 2009 when I spent six weeks in Europe, so I think I was well overdue hey?! I flew on over to meet up with an ex-sewing class buddy, we had fun (duh).

I won’t bore y’all with a three hour slide show over a cheese fondue, however I really did want to share some photos with you lovely readers. I had the most wonderfully relaxing time.

So here we go… Once I figured out how to beat the darn sun at its usual game of burning my white scalp – thank you giant headband! – I hung out with some cute fauna and glorious flora…

ZoSews Thailand

(The GIANT bug that fell on my head at dinner didn’t count.)

Stayed at some particularly magnifique resorts…

Thai accomodation ZoSews

See that step into the pool – yep, RIGHT outside my door, yep, that’s right!

Participated in a lot of water based activities, ocean kayaking, canyon kayaking, snorkelling, island hopping, lagoon swimming, plain old beach and pool swimming – you get the idea.

Thailand water activities ZoSews

There was also the cooking class, shopping, mani/pedis, massage, fish feet therapy (holy cow those things tickle!), sunsets, cocktails, muay thai, fireshows, dancing, reading, walking – and that’s just what I can think of right now!

Thailand - extras ZoSews

Looking back I can’t believe how much we crammed into a week – and still walked away totally relaxed! Of course there was time for fabric shopping too 😉 Picked up some lovely green silk I’m planning on using for an Archer.

Khob khun ka Thailand, you were wonderful!

Now it’s time to resume normal programming and get back to trying to catch up on all my blog reading and sewing. I’ve even cut out a Mad Men dress… No chance in hell it will be ready by 19 April, but better late than never right. Right?

Zxx

It’s gridlock out there…

26 Mar

So, Tessuti decided to run a competition, with 50% off the fabric and a pretty loose brief. And most importantly, no size specs! I could hardly refuse…

Gridlock Gertalex

I am so in love with my first Elisalex, that I decided to run her up again – of course with some changes 😉 PS – this is the first time I have EVER made a garment twice, so hats off to you By Hand London, you’ve hooked me.

Gridlock Gertalex

The fabric that everyone had to use for the competition, called ‘gridlock’, was nice and structured like my dotty Elisalex fabric, so I had a good feeling she’d come together well. The one key change being that I substituted the delightful oversized tulip skirt, for Gertie’s pencil skirt – the same pattern I teamed up with Sewaholic’s Lonsdale bodice – this time however I remembered to add in the skirt vent.

Gridlock Gertalex

I thought that with the pencil skirt the dress would be a bit more wearable and closer to the ‘daywear’ brief set by Tessuti. Further, I thought the clean lines of this ‘Gertalex’ would work and not compete with the strong fabric pattern. Oh, and instead of the skirt front darts, I created pretty little tucks that lined up with the princess seams on the bodice.

Gridlock Gertalex

Sooo, the rest of the details –

    • Lined in a cream cotton from Spotlight to play up the creamy background of the gridlock fabric
    • Navy blue grosgrain ribbon waist stay included to help control any zipper spreadage and maintain a clean shape
    • Hand picked zipper: Instead of focusing on neat, straight stitches, I focussed on invisible stitches, blending my stitches in with the blue pattern in the fabric
    • Blind hemmed by hand the sleeve and skirt hems

Gridlock Gertalex

  • A delicate little cream scalloped lace trim was added to the lining hem, it’s very sweet and just peeks out
  • The outer fabric hem was finished with a navy satin binding
  • Instead of sandwiching the zipper between the lining and fashion fabric, it’s attached to lining, ensuring it won’t show through to the outside. And there’s a hand sewn hook and eye at the top just to finish off.
  • Three navy and gold buttons were hand sewn to each sleeve. Just a little bit of shjooz to break up the pattern, without competing with it.

Gridlock Gertalex

Gridlock Gertalex

The team at Tessuti are simply going to pick their favourite garment as the winner, but I’m sure a few flash mobs/emails/smoke signals/telegrams telling them to pick the gertalex wouldn’t hurt 😉 Just kidding, good luck to everyone entering, can’t wait to see what y’all come up with, it’s been great so far!! You can check out all the entries on Tessuti’s Pinterest.

Zxx

Ceylon a la Zo

2 Mar

Well, we got there. Just. This girl was started before Christmas, interrupted by Elisalex and then a number of sewing, unpicking, sewing, lots of hand sewing, and button making later, just before the stroke of midnight last Saturday, she was done and dusted! Finally.

Colette Ceylon

This lady just didn’t want to come together. I was sewing things on backwards and upside down, which resulted in a lot of unpicking of both stitching and overlocking. On the plus side, I am now an expert at unpicking overlocking. If I haven’t already blocked it from my memory…

Colette Ceylon

I had a special guest photographer for my Ceylon, thanks lady! These photos were taken in St Kilda, and although we snuck off into an alley, unfortunately we still attracted a little audience. What a let down for them when they realised it’s just little old me lol.

Colette Ceylon

If you know the lovely Ceylon at all, you’ll have noticed that my sleeves are different. Not the short puffy sleeves as per pattern, rather some neat little caps. I used the sleeves from Victory Patterns’ Ava. No, I haven’t actually made Ava yet, I just used her for her sleeves 😉

Colette Ceylon

I didn’t make too many other changes really, added length to the hem (nothing new there) and added some darts in the front waist panels for a closer fit.

Colette Ceylon

Actually, there was one change that I made to the whole construction approach. The instructions tell you to apply and top stitch your pieces together, rather than the usual, “good sides together”. For my sanity, and for neatness, I stuck with “good sides together”. As far as I can tell it didn’t make any difference.

Colette Ceylon

The fabric is an absolute delight to wear. It’s a Japanese cotton from Tessuti called Black Hanataba. It’s so light and comfy, and I have some left… so there may be a very similar looking top somewhere in my future. 

Colette Ceylon

I felt this dress required covered buttons, so taught myself how to make them – yep, 16 of the buggers! Then I had to sew them all on!! I think it was worth the effort though.

Colette Ceylon

And of course 16 buttons required 16 button holes, 5.75 cms apart. LUCKILY, my machine was being friendly so this did not result in an ugly tantrum.

Colette Ceylon

I blind stitched the hem by hand. I also did the back neckline facing so that it won’t flap around. I actually find hand sewing quite relaxing – anyone else? I think I watched about five episodes of The West Wing while doing all the hand sewing, button making and button hole cutting.

Colette Ceylon

That’s it! Oh yeah, how funny’s this pic?! Unplanned, wind came and lifted my skirt and it was all caught on camera hahaha.

Colette Ceylon

I just remembered. Another user generated problem with this dress! Lets just say the inside hem looks interesting – the front panels have a 5cm allowance, and the back a 2 cm allowance. I’ll leave you to ponder why. Because I really don’t know how it happened lol!

What are you guys sewing right now? Right now! Well maybe after reading this 😉

Z xx

Dotty for Elisalex

16 Feb

I was lucky enough to win myself a copy of the By Hand London Elisalex dress via a giveaway on House of Pinheiro, becoming the envy of many a sewing blogger mwah ha ha ha.

I decided to whip it up for a wedding I was going to. Teamed with some pretty brocade style fabric from Clegs (thanks to a birthday voucher from Mr ZoSews) this is how she came up.

Elisalex dress

The gory details

The pattern

  • If you haven’t already seen the gorgeous packaging BHL are using, you’re missing out. When I first saw it, it absolutely delighted me.
  • Personally, I’d really like to see some finished measurements and a hip measurement included. I know that the skirt’s huge so there shouldn’t be issues with hip size if you get the waist right, but for a hippy gal like moi, I just like to know. Ease and height of fit model would be useful too…
  • The instructions are written in very accessible language, and provide the sort of information that’s helpful for those just dipping a toe in sewing land, for example, “Back stitch at the start and finish of your line of sewing”.

Elisalex packaging

Pattern alterations

I traced and cut the bodice in a size 10, but then…

  • I’m long in the body, so I slashed and spread and added 4 cm to the bodice length, so the waistline would actually hit me on my waist. 
  • I moved the bodice princess seams across towards the centre 1.5 cm so the line went right through the apex of the bust.
  • I did some shaping from under the bust down to the waistline for a closer fit.
  • I used a pink cotton voile for lining, and in addition to lining the bodice, I lined the skirt. All I did was reuse the skirt pattern, and cut it at around 26cm length. 

Elisalex dress

Construction notes

    • I couldn’t find a 30 inch zipper on the face of this planet! Well in the few stores I went to anyway. So I got a 24 inch and just free-styled the insertion, hand picking it in.
    • Instructions say to machine hem the sleeves. Not for this little black duck, so I blind hemmed the sleeves by hand.
    • Because I didn’t make a toile of the skirt (bodice only), I cut it out in a huge size to start with (18 I think… ridiculous now but it made sense at the time). Not surprisingly, cut at an 18, the skirt was frickin huge and looked ridiculous. I went back down in size in stages by just basting my side seams together until I hit what I liked. I now have ENORMOUS side seams, but no-one can see that 🙂

Elisalex dress

  • It’s probably due to my giant skirt plus shaped bodice, but, sheesh, easing that skirt on to the bodice almost killed me. I reckon I had at least 4-5 tries and she wouldn’t play ball. So in the end I have some tiiiiny gathers between the two waist darts, and more annoyingly the waist darts don’t perfectly match the bodice seams – but I managed to deal with that because I don’t think anyone else would notice. Phew.
  • Pattern suggests top stitching around the neckline, but in this case I under stitched.

Elisalex dressThe verdict

At first I was worried that it wasn’t very flattering around the hip region. However, I’ve since decided it’s a winner. I reckon I’ll make this bad girl again. In a less ‘icing’ fabric, I think this would be a goer for the office. I also want to try the bodice with a pencil skirt. Overall, I’m very happy with it 🙂 And it seems I like grey and pink… 

Elisalex dressPostscript

I almost forgot. Walking around in Toorak between this wedding ceremony and reception, I crossed the road at a pedestrian crossing and heard two women talking about my dress as I walked past them. It went something like this, “Now THAT, is a nice dress”. Oh yeah, as you’d expect, I was quite chuffed! Especially as I had just finished the thing standing in the kitchen hand sewing while Mr ZoSews packed my bag to leave to go to the wedding. Last minute much?

Elisalex dress

Thanks for reading. I hope I’ve enticed you to give Elisalex a go?

Zxx

Summer loving

10 Feb

It’s been a busy few weeks in the land of ZoSews! Unfortunately not a huge amount of sewing has been done, but I do have a shiny new dress that I’ll share soon.

So far this year I’ve been back to work after Xmas, then on holidays again, and now back to work again!

In amongst that I completed Tough Mudder (22km obstacle race), spent a week at the beach (bliss!), went to the Australian Open, celebrated Australia Day, went the zoo, started French lessons, went to moonlight cinema for the first time, attended a wedding, started ballet and sewing for the year and finished a certain By Hand London dress on a crazy deadline. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know what I’m talking about!

Anyway, I thought I’d share with you guys what I’ve been up to and why I’ve been absent from blogland.

The beach

The weather has been fairly stunning here in Melbourne (sorry cold northern hemisphere folks!), which made for a brilliant week at Phillip Island with Mr ZoSews, his two mini people, plus Mr ZoSews’ sister and family.

Here’s a picture if the beach at the end of our street where we spent many an afternoon. The tide is waaay out, when it was in it came up to the pebbles. I attempted surfing here – which was a huge fail given that my body was still recovering from Tough Mudder at the time!

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And more beach…

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Pyramid Rock

Wineries, fishing, food, cocktails, barbeques and beach and backyard cricket also featured this holiday.

As did Tough Mudder. If you’re considering it, do it. It was so much fun!!! See…

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Electro shock therapy

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In and around Melbourne

As well as turning into a beach bum at Phillip Island, Ive been up and about in Melbourne.

At the tennis… We were treated to a brilliant early round five setter.

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And at the Zoo…

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And more…! Including visiting the local ‘beaches’ and *drum roll* hitting my one year blogiversary! Yay! Thanks to everyone for your enthusiasm and encouragement along the way 🙂

What have you all been up to? I’ve been trying to get outside as much as possible while the weather’s good!!

Z xx

Happy New Year!

2 Jan

Wow, there’s been so much reflection going on in sewing blogger land. I haven’t quite caught up yet. But, I didn’t want that to stop me from wishing you all a very happy 2013! So, Happy New Year!!

I went back to work today (shock to the system), but here’s a quick update of what I’ve been up to during the last week back with the fam. Oh and my handmade Christmas crafting 🙂

Me made gifts for girls

Tote bags from Pip Lincoln’s Sew La Tea Do book.

Owls with a yoyo embellishment…

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And butterflies with pretty buttons

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And another one that I was too dopey to remember to take a photo of before wrapping – doh! I almost unwrapped, but I just didn’t have time.

Sewing gifts for lucky duck me

Fun new books…

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And thread holders that go from wood look plastic…

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to blue! With the help of some spray paint 🙂

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And a shiny new pincushion.

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What else has been happening?

Food, wine, friends and family – but of course.

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A little bit of quilting (my holiday portable project)

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And lots of puppy love

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I also hung out with a bird

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No sewing I’m afraid, but I’ll get there. I did catch up with the Frabjous Couture PMPS sew/draft along though!

What have you been up to?

Hope you are all raring to get in to 2013! I can’t wait to see where it takes us 🙂

Z xx

P.S: The lovely Ooobop nominated me for the very inspiring blog award! You’re too kind. I haven’t forgotten and will pass on the love soon 🙂

Christmas giveaway winner!

27 Dec

I hope everyone had a spectacular Christmas? Mine was filled with food, wine, people, pets and presents – pictures on Instagram of course 😉 But here’s a blog reader exclusive – check out this chocolate christmas tree my grandmother made:

Chocolate Xmas tree

Anyway, what we’re all here for is to find out the winner of the Dove T Christmas Giveaway. To enter, you had to share what inspires you to sew. There were so many wonderful responses, and some definite themes coming through, like fit, individuality, ethics and learning. We’re a pretty good bunch we sewers.

It was very tough for Hannah and I to pick a winner, but in the end, we chose HAZEL!!! Congratulations Hazel!

Hazel is inspired to sew by…

“What inspires me to sew my own items is the sense of achievement and individuality that comes with each new make. I remember in the beginning being so proud of the garments I managed to make and expected that feeling to fade with each new project, but as my skills continue to grow I feel even more proud when I see how far I’ve come. I also love that everything I make is unique, fitted to me and that there is unlikely to be someone else wearing what I am. There is no better inspiration than the desire to build an individual, handcrafted wardrobe! x”

So Hazel please contact me on zosews@gmail.com so I can sort out your prize. My apologies if your email address was staring me in the face on your blog and I missed it!

Oh and here is a picture of my assistant, Alice, helping me pick a winner 🙂 If you’ve got a keen eye you might notice I’m wearing my Happy Homemade Shirred Tunic too!

Now who shall we pick...

Now who shall we pick…

Merry New Year!!

Z xx

Finished: Dove T, and a Christmas giveaway!

18 Dec

Christmas is so close dear readers, I can smell the turkey and taste the wine as I write.

How are your gift makes going? Some people, like Karen, were smart enough not to go down the path of gift makes, I unfortunately was not one of those smart people. So now I find myself scrambling to finish… Can’t share pictures yet for fear of ruining that lovely ‘surprise’ affect – but they’ll come.

Anyhoo, on to my finished Dove T! I’m so happy with this top, I hope you guys like it too 🙂

You may recall the toile of this garment, I look at the finished top and in the words of Fatboy Slim, I think, you’ve come a long way baby!

So with no further ado, here she is, my tribal rayon Dove T! (Omigosh I love Rayon!)

About my Dove T

She was made out of a Rayon from Spotlight. I love this fabric. Aussies – have you noticed that Spotlight has really picked up its game recently?

Dove T front

Can’t half tell from the pictures I’d been wearing it all day right?

You may recall the fitting issues I was prattling on about with the toile. Everything was addressed by slashing the sleeve vertically down the centre and adding 1.5cm in width. It’s not perfect, but teamed with the liquid like rayon, it’s much more comfortable now.

Dove T back

In the end I didn’t make any changes for ‘modesty’. For work, I just threw on a singlet underneath ( as above ) and for play, well it lets in a nice breeze on a hot day – and what’s wrong with that my friends?!

Dove T front 2

I reckon it almost took me more time to lay this out and cut than to actually sew it up. I was playing with only 1.5 metres worth and was being preeeety picky about pattern placement (surprise surprise). My stoopid hands are covering up where the patterns meet stunningly at the side seams in these pics though. 😉

Dpve T back 2

I added 8cm to the hem length, and you can see that I used bias binding rather than a facing around the neckline. Not much more to say really… except…

Do you want to get your hands on this pattern?!

I hear the crowds roar – “yes we do!”. Well I have good news for you. Thanks to the delightful Hannah of Sinbad and Sailor, one of you lucky people can get a free free free Dove T pattern of your very own! An extra bit of Christmas cheer me thinks.

“How do I enter?”  I hear you ask. It’s a logical question. Just leave a comment on this post by 11:59pm Australian Eastern Daylight Time on Christmas Day (25 December 2012), not forgetting that we live in the future here, and answer this question:

What inspires you to sew your own clothes rather than buy them? 

Please make sure you include an email address/some method of contact in your comment too – I need to know how to stalk get in touch if you’re the winner. Then, Hannah and I will choose our favourite answer – I can feel the power rush going straight to my head 😉 – and the winner will be announced on the blog in the days after Christmas. That said, it is the crazy crazy Christmas season, so if we’re a little bit late, please forgive us and know that it’s all happening behind the scenes. 

That’s it my lovely sewing friends.

My best wishes to you and yours over the holiday season and into 2013. Please stay safe, be jolly and enjoy it.

Z xx