Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bitonale memorial cushion

Last week we killed and ate one of three geese that live at our house. If you're not up to speed on the goose story, you can read about it here.
In order to use the goose in its entirety, I made a goose cushion. Not quite enough for a pillow, but a nice little cushion.

Beppe washed the feathers in some ammonia mixture, and left them to dry under netting.

The pillow fabric was an upholstry sample I found about the place and some of that satiny yellow cotton that i made the puffy sleeve shirt out of (the one I haven't photographed yet.)

Not having any decent cording for the edge, I twisted some knitting cotton and made it myself. Thrifty.

As a finishing touch, as I was closing the pillow, I embroidered the name of the dead goose; Bitonale, Two toned.
(I am not an embroiderer)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lace and silk- coming together!

I'm almost done with the top I wanted to make to show off the very old lace found in a house clean up. Remember this? I've also added some border lace found in the same box. The border lace was cleaner than te square pice though, so I carefully rinsed it in a very diluted bleach solution. I then staked it out to dry.

Concerned then that the waistband wouldn't hold up to washing, I've made it detatchable with a couple of snaps.

Maybe someone in Australia remembers the book 'Playing Beatie Bow?' We studied it at school, and the story came back to me with this top, of a girl who makes herself a top with some old found lace and travels back in time. I liked that book.

This top is still quite victorian, and I don't know how long this kick for silk and lace blouses will go on.

I still must finish the yellow top, it only needs a hem. Procrastination. If I was a racehorse I'd be the first out the gate and the last to come in.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Its been a hard week. Last Saturday my (brand new!) laptop was stolen from inside the house, as we were out in the garden. With it went a whole lotta good humour, an intended trip to Berlin and my sewing mojo. It's hard to get past the funk, but I'm working on it. I only managed to do the slightest additions to my shabby yellow blouse, adding the sleeves and collar.
I'm fairly happy with the sleeves, though initially fearing that they'd be too poofy. They are, but acceptably so. The collar I should have done without a collar band, but for now I can live with it.

Also gone are plenty of little projects I'd worked on in the last couple of weeks, including a skirt for my mother in law.
So, yeah. Meh. By posting today I'm hoping to get back on the wagon of sewing and posting. Leave me a comment if you can. Cheer me up. Go on.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Shirt progress and new project

The yellow shirt is taking shape, inspired by the Downton Abbey episodes I've been watching and a new love for lace. What was initially going to be a fitted shirt with the detail in the collar has become a full, ruffled shirt with a yoke and lace detail. Flexibility is good, particularly when accidentally tripling the ease required. Whoops.
I'm happy with how it's looking

The sleeves are also going to be gathered, and I created the pattern for them by cutting up a regular sleeve like so:

Why do one project when you can inefficiently work on two, you ask?
I've had the antique lace stuck in my head and so sketched a top that would show it off under the bust.
the lace

the sketch
It seemed slightly familiar, so I check my pattern stash, sure enough:
the 70's pattern envelope

Yep, totally original.
The good news is that with a pattern I'm less likely to accidently turn a slim dress into a muu muu.
But it could still happen.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Home finds


I've totally fallen off the wagon with Me Made March (where I vowed to wear something me made every day), but I was back on it today with three homemade pieces to make up for my three days of jeans and other pruning outfits. (Olive pruning has started, see my other blog here for more)

My flatmate was cleaning out an old drawer belonging to his aunt yesterday, and I was able to profit from some of the old fabrics going out. This lady kept everything, from the cuffs of trousers she'd had shortened, to offcuts from reupholstering a couch.

Amoung the best pieces were these pieces of handmade lace, in a beautiful box:
I can see this as a centrepiece to a drapey, silky top
I also scored some interesting fabrics, the first a blue damask. The colours are a bit wrong here because I wanted to show the weave.

The other, a yellow cotton sateen, has a beautiful drape and sheen. As you can see, it's already washed and on it's way to becoming a shirt. Or two. Both of these seem to be offcuts from a tablecloth. The tabecloth is long gone, but these offcuts, thankfully, were kept, to live another day in my wardrobe.

happy monday!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

50's dress finished!

I went against all my laziest nistincts and pulled the skirt apart. I cut about a metre off the width, and then ironed, gathered (dental floss), ironed and sewed again.

It was absolutley the right thing to do, as the dress now doesn't weigh a ton and has plenty of twirl to it. I was much more careful with my gathers this time too, distribution and stitching were much better.

So without further ado... the 50's dress!
This must be the first time I have a dress with the waist at my waist, which means breathing without a waistband around my ribs! What a sensation!
Here's me looking demure:
You'd never guess that right after these photos I killed a mouse and climbed a tree would you?
Following Gertie's suggestions I used a horsehair braid on the hem, though there must be different weights, as I don't quite have the 'loft' I was hoping for. The expression is very serious for hem considerations.  

I've started working on several other projects this week, including a blouse, a skirt and a rehabilitation of an abandoned dress, so I'll try to post more this week to get through it all.
I have managed to post a coupleof times on my other blog, the 'work' blog,,, and there's some lovely Friday Flowers from yesterday up there.
In conclusion, I love this dress, and will wear it lots. In closing, the twirl:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Too much?

Oh dear.

I'm afraid I've overdone it on the ruffles.

As I said in my last post, I let the fabric decide the width of the skirt, and eyeballed a couple of pattern envelopes on line. I could have asked any one of the very friendly blogging sewists out there, but the laziness won out.

So heres a close up of the ruffling;
I measured the skirt width (yes, after ruffling and attaching) and it's close to four metres. On pattern review I found a comment stating that 3:1 ruffle is adequate. And Peter at male pattern boldness is making a skirt which has a width of just over 2 metres.

So now it seems, instead of finishing the dress today I'm going to be pulling it apart, measuring, ruffling and reattaching the skirt. -Sigh-
Can someone tell me I should keep the width?
Better now than laterI guess.

Here's the dress as a puddle. Isn't it pretty?

Monday, March 14, 2011

50's dress! Yeow!

After a couple of days doing only that which could be done from bed (a suprising amount really), i'm out and charging with the 50's dress project, which I all but abandoned here.

I cut and pinned first, deciding to leave off the original collar. The fantastic buttons are off a coat I inherited last year. The coat got different buttons and these have now found their home:

The amount of fabric used in the skirt was a straight guess. To gather the skirt I used a technique found on and sewed dental floss into a zig zag stitch around the miles of skirting. You simply pull the floss to create the gathers and a nice side effect is the fresh minty smell.

I loves learning from the internet.

I decided to do button loops rather than bound buttonholes. It'll look good and its easier, so win/win.  So this is where I was at last night, with only zip, buttons and hem to go, and all on pause until i can buy a zip.

One small thing that infuriates/ delights me is how shops close at midday on Saturday to reopen on Monday afternoon. Thats a long time to be without a zip fix. Oh and then you can't buy fabric and buttons at the same shop, and the button shop probably doesn't sell thread or needles either. And there is actually a shop in Florence that sells only zips, and anyone else is likely to tell you that what you're looking for doesn't exist. Its kooky. And it's infuriating/ delightful.

I'm still me-made-marching, with at least one homemade piece each day, and I'm suprising myself. With computer troubles and a cold I haven't been taking daily photos, but I'll see if I can work up the enthusiasm for the rest of the month.

Friday, March 11, 2011

An amazing exhibition!

I'm sick in bed today, so I can't be modelling my newly completed green stretch skirt. Boo.

But I can tell you about a fantastic exhibition i visited in Australia when I was there.

A friend, Marg, recomended it, and with my dear Mum I made a 6 hour round trip to check it out. A six hour round trip is dedication, and its awesome that my Mum was keen to go. It was most definitely worth the trip and the highlight of my visit to Sydney, both for the costumes and for the roadtrip with Mum. Here are some of the inspiring images of the costumes, which despite being around 100 years old wowed me with their colour, cut and varied cultural references.
A video showed the painstaking restoration of this gown which was destroyed by its time on the stage and years of storage.

Costume for a squid. I've found some gold fabric and blue, so I want to do something based on this..
Designed by Matisse, this costume was for a Japanese themed ballet
The incredible tunic for 'the blue god', amazing detail..
Theres something about this picture.. it's one of the most powerful pictures I've ever seen. This is the dancer Vaslav Nijinsky playing the blue god in the former costume. He's beautiful.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Two-tweed Tuesday

It's all about illiteration! In order to hold up my Me-Made-March pledge (in which I must wear a me made item everyday), I've knocked out a couple of quick tweed skirts.

I took the pattern off a vintage skirt that fit very well and made a wearable muslin out of a tweed offcut I had around the house. It's the oddest colour, yellow, purple and light blue in a fine tweed, the overall effect is beige. I'm not crazy for the fabric but it made a quick skirt, just to test the pattern:
(rather akward self take photo)
odd tweed

Then I made a long version in a beautiful fine brown wool.
It looked a little bookish so I made it oh so modern with a couple of strips of antique lace I've had stashed forever.
(needs an iron)

This look was inspired by my newest source of ideas, the website where I found this pic:

The idea of polyvore is that you can put together a 'look' and then shop your look. I just like all the pretty pictures.

I'm working now on a stretch skirt I've had cut for so long. Then I might get back to spring dresses, which are always the most fun item to make!


Friday, March 4, 2011

Stripey top finished!

I've finally had a chance to model my stripey top, after a week of being inside with rain and snow.
So here's the front view:

The back view:

and, to my great surprise, we're reversable!

Don't I look pleased with myself? My first self-draped, long-torsoed reversable shirt.

I've been doing well with my MMM pledge too, and without photos, heres what I wore this week from my homemade wardrobe:

Monday: Woollen Thai pants
Tuesday: Wool pencil skirt
Wednesday: Altered long vintage skirt
Thursday: Floral skirt
Friday: Long sleeve shirt

Next week I'll try to get better organised and get some photos going.
And i desperately need some more winter clothes!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Stripey top nearly finished, and day 1 MMM

The stripey top (which really needs a better name) is finally done. After much foot dragginh to finish it up, I'm right now putting on the buttons and snipping loose threads. I was procrastinating because I needed black bias tape and shiney black buttons to complete it as I had imagined, but of all my enormous fabric collection i had no lightweight, black cotton fabric. (imagine!) And of all my buttons (seen below) I had nothing suitable. Shocking.

But then I found some white cotton, and decided that my original concept was flexible. Sorting through the buttons I found these:
And I was again in motion. Happy day!
So, before the adding of buttons and buttonholes (this required a change of sewing machine) this is where I was up to. Top front:
and top back:
It doesn't sit quite right on the dress form (too short in the torso) but it works for me. 
All I needs do now is crank up the heating and take a photo.

Day one of MMM (me made march) has been a success, with woollen Thai style pants and a brown wool pencil skirt for a work appointment, but if I'm to get through a month of this I need to get cracking on something warmer.
Sadly, its about three degrees here now and snow has been forecast. Sigh.