Wednesday, 19 April 2017

A Summer Liberty top

From my last trip to the States, I have a Liberty print stash that's standing the test of time.

Pammy from LA took me downtown and this print was a piece we both bought and I've finally made it up.
'Pretty' is how I'd describe this top - Butterick 5608. A very pretty top that's as billowing as my height can handle.

With the humidity we experienced in Summer, this top is a keeper. This top does need fabric that has good drape.
The nice part of this blouse style is you don't need to sew buttons, or snaps or zippers.

It's a 'cut and sew' pattern and it's forgiving if your waist keeps changing.

I've also paired this with my purple work staples because this print has a similar purple in it.
But with the cooler mornings we've started experiencing, this pattern will have to wait for another Summer to come blazing back again.
I hope everyone had a lovely Easter.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Couture sewing part 2

Here's the finished guipure lace skirt I made at Susan Khalje’s 3 day guipure lace skirt workshop in Brisbane using fabric from Minerva Crafts. I’m now hooked on making anything ‘guipure’.
While this project is a bit formal I couldn't pass up the opportunity to learn more skills. Now I'm thinking of more 'urban' ways to use guipure lace.
Any straight skirt pattern can be used for a guipure skirt so I used Simplicity 1460. Tapered skirts are my fav but I had to learn about shaping lace first at the waist before attempting shaping lace at the hem as well ie learn to walk before you learn to run.


Can I just say that it doesn’t matter what your skill level is, everyone at this workshop created a guipure lace skirt and used a straight skirt pattern that worked for them. Please don’t think you have to be super skilled to do this type of sewing. You only need to be open-minded and patient with yourself. Everyone in the class was really focused but also amazed they could learn these skills and build on their existing skills. That’s enough encouragement to try new skills from me for now.

What I learnt
I enjoyed seeing how Susan worked on everyone else’s skirts to get a better fit, including getting a better fit for my skirt.
Jigsaw puzzles have always been a favourite past time of mine so watching Susan piece guipure lace to get your body shaping was mesmerising.
Sewing a hand -picked zipper takes very little time so I'm sold on this technique. Applying an inner grosgrain waist facing is really only limited by the Petersham tape you use.

Fabric
I picked these fabrics from the website. I didn’t get samples beforehand and I was really pleased with these choices.
The descriptions on Minerva Crafts website and their photography are spot on. I'm happy with my website choices when the fabric arrives at my door step.

Packaging
Vicki now processes the Network Blogger orders through their normal order system and the beauty of this is you get to see the name of who packed each part of your order. It's amazing to see how many people are involved in their packaging/mail service. I’ve always loved the personal side of Minerva Crafts and it just keeps getting better. Thanks guys.

Guipure lace
The course specified guipure and when I put guipure in the search criteria on their website, it brought up 11 types of guipure fabric options. The range of colours are extensive and the quality is exactly what I needed for this workshop.

I chose this awesome purple because it’s a strong colour, scalloped on both sides and special. It looks special and flattering. You only need to purchase your length plus 10cm of this guipure lace for a skirt.
Guipure lace is tightly sewn together. This means you can safely cut out lace motifs by snipping through the lace connectors and place the motifs where you want. These lace motifs they don’t fray. That’s the lace quality you need.
Lace underlayer 
The skirt required a contrasting colour as the under layer fabric. You can use a matching colour but the lacework won't show up (pop) as well as a when you use contrasting base fabric.

I used this pearl white colour against the guipure lace. I could have used a warmer pale colour to add more impact to the purple guipure lace. There are so many options you can decide upon, it's all based on your preferences.
Underlining
This skirt also uses calico or a reasonably-bodied cotton batiste as an underlining. The underlining is worthwhile doing as it helps the skirt hold its shape with guipure lace. Guipure lace is heavy and it needs a few strong layers so it doesn't bag or sag.

Lining
A silk crepe de chine or similar measured the same length as the lace. I used an everyday lining so I could get used to the couture steps. This lining matched the petersham tape I bought.
You can see the Petersham tape and lining match.
Notions
The detailing involved in creating this skirt requires a select few notions.
2.5cm wide grosgrain ribbon enough for the waist facing plus 10cm. The grosgrain ribbon should have the curved edges so you can shape it for your waistband.
A medium hook and eye is needed for the waistband. The grosgrain is used to cover up as much of the metal on the hook and eye as possible.

I used three thread colours for this skirt. White for the underlining. Purple for the lace and a coffee colour thread for the lining and waistband finishes.
The other tools I needed were long hand sewing needles, a ham, small very sharp scissors and large shears which I was able to use my Prym products for.
I used my Prym pins, shears and measuring tools for better accuracy.
Day one
We fitted our skirt toiles. As with the previous workshop, the stitching lines were marked with carbon paper and machine stitched in a contrasting thread on calico. I machine basted the seams using another contrasting thread and long stitches.

Susan checked the fit of our toiles and I made the initial adjustments to the toile. The new stitching lines were hand basted to the toile.
We used this adjusted toile to cut out the fashion fabric and I marked the stitching lines on this with carbon tracing paper and then hand basted these lines.

Day two
A nail-biting day as we had to cut out our guipure lace.
An important part of this process was to mark (hand baste) the hip line on the fashion fabric. This line was critical to align our lace and help keep the skirt flat as initially thread basted the lace in one piece, across the width of the skirt.

A lot of time was spent hand basting the lace to the skirt so the lace didn't create shadows.



Day three
We were all in a tizz doing our best to finish our skirts. There was an air of excitement among us all day even though we felt shattered in a happy way, to have achieved so much.
This shows the lace shaping I did for my waistline
Post workshop
Three days after the workshop I finally sat down and got my act into gear to finish this skirt. I still had to piece the lace up the centre back seam so it looked seamless. I also needed to:
- Fuse part of the skirt front to stop it from bagging
- hand stitch more parts of the lace to avoid shadowing
- stitch press studs (snap) on the lace overlay covering the zipper
- resew the waistband grosgrain at the darts and seams in the same colour thread
- remove basting threads
- hand sew the lining to the skirt with a jump pleat
- sew on the hook and eye.
This took 5 hours to complete with breaks in between. Walking away from an intense project like this is a good way to pull away from the detail and assess if you're getting the overall effect you want. 
Doing this work at home, means I still needed to do my share of the housework but I could duck into the Craftsy course to relook at Susan's part of the workshop I had to finish.

Blouse
Oh. Did I mention I made this blouse too?
I couldn't not use the underlayer silk and not have a Summer blouse to wear with this skirt.
I used Cynthia Rowley view D Simplicity 2215, from a previous Minerva Crafts project.
The collar has a lace overlay. It's really light-weight lace and was in my stash. I decided this would negate the need to wear earrings.
This skirt and blouse is now part of a cocktail capsule that I've made. The jacket is one of my first Minerva Craft makes from 2012.
I wore this outfit to a wedding dinner with friends on a hot humid night and I felt great.

Don't forget to use the discount code 'maria' when you purchase any Prym products from Minerva Crafts website.
Now to research some more guipure projects!

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Marking: Traditional and innovative

Whether you're new to sewing/crafting or have been making your own clothes for years, you have the choice of marking notches etc using traditional methods or using the handy gadgets Prym offers you.

From the choice of Prym products that I used at Susan Khalje's two courses in Australia, I used every piece of these products to produce my cocktail dress and lace skirt. I'll show you the final lace skirt later on this week.

Traditional marking tools
I still feel most comfortable using pins and basting pattern marks on fabrics.
The cute needle storage gadget you see is the needle twister from Prym.
When I need to take a sewing kit with me to work or a function I use the Prym needle twister with pre-threaded needles. It happens from time to time.
Traditional marking methods using pins, needles and thread still do the trick.

Innovative marking tools
I was able to experiment with Prym's newer marking products - part of Prym's ergonomic red dot range.

The parallel tracing wheel has markings on it so you can safely mark 1.5cm, 2cm and 4cm seam allowances in a white chalk. These markings are on both sides of the bar so you can be either left or right handed to use it.
The spring tape measure is a great shape and doesn't slip out of your hands too quickly.

The ergonomic tracing wheel is a good shape that let's you mark a lot of seams without tiring your wrist.

The sew and knit gauge is a long time fave of mine.
The marking pen is white so it works on lots of colours and is fine enough to keep you accurate.
The Prym Love range is so cute and also has a mechanical marking pen and chalkner.

Minerva Crafts Prym discount
You only need to look online at Minerva Crafts to order any Prym products. Use the discount code ‘MARIA’ when you purchase Prym products.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Dahlia print dress

Dahlias are a fav and I found a stunning variety to design my own fabric through Contrado UK for this Summer 'little black' dress. It's still 30C here in Sydney so it's still quite hot.
This print has great colours true to the image I used.
This is my third designer fabric print effort and I've really loved creating the fabric design, colour and balance for clothing.

This Simplicity 1357 dress is fairly straightforward to make and is perfect for hot, humid Summer days.
Simply hanging
The fabric I've chosen this time is a much firmer fabric so again I pondered on the dress style would work for me once the fabric arrived on my doorstep.

You can order Contrado fabric samples as there are 98 to choose from and I relied only on the detailed product descriptions on their website. This fabric is exactly what I wanted to work with.
This Lucent fabric is a "lightweight, shimmering double faced sateen fabric. Made of a satin weave, constructed of woven poly-based straight set filament fibres. This shiny, substantially opaque material is a high lustre fabric which is very light and airy, weighing only 120 gsm."


The print panels are 50cm lengths and 139cm width. I placed the 3 dahlias across the panel and I used this print 'side on'. 
Work in progress make with plain rayon fabric added to the side seams
I really love this huge print and then used a plain black rayon fabric on the back that has a similar shine to it. 
This rayon has enough shimmer to match the printed Lucent fabric
I'm saving the other two panels for another dress/coat that has a defined waistline but I have to think about where to place this print. I'm thinking of and asymmetrically placed dahlia. I may need to reflect on this idea for a while.
Happy dancing in the finished dress
Back to the print. Using the plain black fabric for the back allowed me to add enough of it on the front panel as the front hem width is about 10cm wider than the panel. It's worked out quite nicely. There's a balance to this dress with the print is very rewarding for a home sewer like me. 

The hem stops just under the dahlia and I can safely wear heels or flat shoes with this dress and it's still balanced.
Ready to head out for the weekend
So this is the last of my three fabrics I created through Contrado and I hope this has encouraged you to try designing your own fabrics too.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Hats and tailoring

Making hats has been an easy transition using my tailoring skills and tools I already own.
Take this basic straw hat for example. I was able to shape the brim with my Prym ham and a steam iron.
The finger guard has been useful to ensure my fingers don't wear out with all the hand stitching involved.
The internal Petersham tape is hand sewn inside the hat so it keeps it's size and shape.
These Prym Love pins were easy to use and didn't tear into the straw.
Straw can tear quite easily if you're not careful.
As you can see, I used my previous hat as reference to ensure I was able to use the right stitches for each step of the process. Lots of waxed threads were used.
Both hats have hat wire along the brim so they keep their shape.
January was when I blocked this black felt hat at Catherine's studio in Rozelle.
 I love the fedora crown shape
The brim was stretched out as far a possible so I had lots of brim width options.
 Then Catherine suggested I use this zipper edged trim. This trim suits my sewing addiction.
I finished the brim edge with a 25mm petersham tape. 
I was able to find a petersham tape colour at EM Greenfields for the straw hat. I bought the straw hat and crown trim from Catherine.

Remember that you get a 10% discount when you purchase any Prym product from Minerva Crafts website using this discount code ‘MARIA’.

I like that I now have two urban hats that fit my head. Cheers.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Lace work to date

The past week has been all about guipure lace - buying it, planning a skirt/dress with it, manipulating it for shape, placing it on a garment for the 'wow' you want. 

In the past I've used various laces and fine fabrics.
This peplum top made in 2015 uses a sequinned lace provided my Minerva Crafts UK.
The original version of this fabric was used for a gold dress I wore to the Minerva meetup a few years ago.
The key to making this fabric more wearable was to interline the fabric and then line it.
This top also uses a knit mesh with lace detailing made last year. For this top I only underlined the front and back bodices.
This dress made in 2014 was a remnant lace that was lined and not interlined. Quick and easy especially as I used my block pattern.
Lace comes into it's own when you use such small pieces for bras.

 This off-white bra using pin up girls pattern wasn't underlined
This gold bra has a light underlining.
While this dress using fabric from Selective Fine Fabrics uses a printed cutout fabric, I still had to interline it. When I bought it last year, Louisa spent time with me testing the fabric with a number of coloured poplins to find the best underlining that would still let the colours in this print pop. White underlining was the best version.
This crazy print used a bone coloured lace along the shoulders. The fit was good but I've since passed this dress onto someone else.
I really enjoyed blending this green Chantilly lace over blue fabric that I bought from Pitt Trading.
There's a lot less flower placement to worry about with such a delicate lace.
Oh my goodness. in 2013 I used a corded lace on this Beatrice dress by Sew Chic patterns and tried to keep the shaped hem on the skirt and sleeves. The fit was this dress needed more work but it was worth making because it has an unusual neckline.
Navy lace pieced over satin from a design I saw on Pinterest was the inspiration for this navy lace dress using fabric from White Tree Fabrics two years ago.
 I still wear this skirt that has a few layers of fabric to make it the colour I wanted.
Both the lace and underlining fabrics had colours that I would look great in. Pairing them together resulted in a more wearable skirt.
Seriously even the lining is a bit loud, but really suited this skirt.
Lastly I'll show you this skull lace from Minerva Crafts from a year ago.
It's a mesh knit and I really loved the fact it has a skull pattern and not florals.

That's my working with lace history and now I've cracked working with guipure lace through Susan Khalje's workshop so you'll see more about this in the coming weeks.

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