Monday, 28 November 2011

Finished Project: 'Black & Wine' lace trim dress.

Usually I only write about sewing and things related to sewing, but I thought I would share with you some highlights of my Sunday, since it was quite an awesome one :)
My little sister came back from Gold Coast today and she got me the most beautiful present!!
Thanks J, I love it! I accidentally set it to QLD time though, haha.

I won an eBay auction for a blanket box! I've been obsessing over them for a couple of weeks now. I won it for $62. It is pine. Picked it up this afternoon from the seller's parents place, and the parents were lovely! Had a little conversation with them and they made me smile all the way home. Funny how strangers can do that to you.

For my blankets... 
I finally upgraded to an "adult" ironing board. I took advantage of the $40 VIP Voucher from Spotlight and spent $100 to get $40 off. I bought the ironing board, static spray, interface, Gutermann, lace, poplin, satin back crepe, pinking shears, couple of zippers... that's all I can remember at the top of my head, but wow do those little things add up! After the discount, the total was $66. Bargain! Virtually got the ironing board for free! So happy! The ironing board is set up in my lounge room next to my dinner/sewing table. I need to get a bigger house.

Last night I drew up a pattern for a new dress. I thought I'd try to DIY a pattern and combine all my favorite features in my dress. I finished the dress tonight. All up it took about 6 hours give or take...
  • 1 hour to draw and cut out pattern (4am to 5am last night),
  • 20 mins to cut out fabric (this afternoon),
  • 4 hours to sew the dress together, including lining and hem, lace trim (9pm to 1:30am).
You might have noticed that I am becoming quite nocturnal! 

I'm so happy with the style and colour of this dress I made, but of course as a beginner I still have things to improve on. I still haven't been "tutored" on how to insert a zipper, but I have made dresses and skirts with zippers already. Most of the time they are good, sometimes improvement is needed. On this particular dress, I'm happy with it, but I might fix the zip at a later stage. I experimented with my pinking shears today, I used them to trim in inside of the bodice, it works well on poplin/cotton, not too sure about the satin back crepe.

Favorite features of my dress:
  • exposed zipper
  • lace trim
  • low cut back
  • and of course the color.. I'm calling the color of the skirt 'port wine'. 
Exposed gold zipper.
Low cut back.
Box pleats.
Lace trim on the hem.
Looks beautiful, and I can finish the hem on the machine too.
Gathering under the bust.
I'm starting to really appreciate this flattering feature on my dresses.
Pattern: My own DIY
Fabric: 1.1 meter stretch poplin, black (bodice and bodice lining) $10.95, 50cm satin back crepe, wine (skirt)$6.48
Notions: Jean zip 8" (black) $2.49, Gutermann thread (used '000' which I already have, but I also bought '910' to match skirt fabric) $2.68, 1.0 lace trim $1.99. 

That's the original price of all the items, but I got a VIP discount voucher, so total was $16.39 after discount.
I have to point out how much the fabric and notions cost, because I think this is the cheapest, yet most beautiful dress I've made so far (I think I say that about every single finished project).

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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

V8469, 'Blair' & new Gütermann

DEADLINE! Christmas party is one week away! I only had tonight's class to get the dress ready for the zipper next week! And I did it. I didn't have time during the week to do any sewing because I went camping at Wilson's Promontory over the weekend and had lots of work and family stuff going on.

In tonight's class I got a lot done: bodice gathering, midriff (and belt) stitched together, serged, skirt gathering, skirt stitched on to the bodice, serged. 

The dress fits fabulously but I need to take it in at the back seams. I am loving it so far! Doesn't the dress look gorgeous on the mannequin? And I have decided on the name 'Blair' :)

Next class I will hopefully get the zipper done during the 2 hour class and finish the hemline at home in time for Christmas shenanigans.   

The girl in my sewing class was kind enough to sell me some of her Gutermann thread that she had in her stash. I got all of them for $13! Bargain! I'm sure I will find fabric to match the thread, hehe.

Thanks Kat! 

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Wednesday, 16 November 2011

V8469, Ties

Feels like forever since the last sewing class but it's only been 2 weeks.

I was really hoping to finish the bodice today because I only have 3 classes left till the Christmas party, but the ties took up most of the class.

I spent almost 1 hour (in actual time - prob half an hour) pressing the ties... rolling the seams out so there would be no "ditches", then pressing, bit by bit... it was hard work. My thumbs got so sore!!

At this stage I'm not sure if I will make my deadline... I'm going to pin the midriff piece and bodice together and get the gathering ready for next week, hopefully by the end of next weeks class I can be up to the zipper.

Fingers crossed!

Bodice and ties.

Spent 1 hour ironing the ties; rolling out the seams (not sure if I'm using right terminology!)

Modification: keeping both ties the same length so I can tie it behind instead of to the front side.

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Saturday, 12 November 2011

Finished Project & Pattern Review: Simplicity 2117 Skirt.

Continuing from last nights mini sewing project, I finished my Simplicity 2117 skirt (view B).

I cut a size 12 (my waist is 67cm!) but my hips are size 8 so the skirt was too loose on the hips and thighs, and sat too low on the waist.

I ended up taking 3cm of each side of the back skirt piece (1.5cm seam allowance). I definitely could've cut a size 8 skirt!

I took 5cm of the length and turned it up 3cm to hem.

My measurements are: waist 67cm (12), hips 84cm (8). 
I cut size 12 waist bands, pockets, skirt back. I blended the skirt front waist into an 8 skirt. Size 12 was definitely too loose. Next time I make this skirt I will be cutting a size 8. 

The only difficulty I had with this dress was the sizing. The pockets were easy and I'm getting better at blind stitching and darts.

This is the first time I have made pleats, it was so easy.

If I could change the pattern, I would make a thicker waistband, although after seeing the finished garment, the thin waistband doesn't look bad!

Opportunity to color block - another reason I love pockets.

Total hours: 8 hours - 1 hour tracing pattern, 3.5 hours cutting fabric, interfacing, constructing skirt, 3 hours alterations, hemming, finishing raw edges.

I will definitely make this skirt again! Cheap pattern, quick to cut, easy to sew.

Cobalt mini with fuchsia pocket color blocking.

Pattern Review: Simplicity 2117

Total cost of this skirt: $16
  • 0.7 meters stretch cotton satin (60% cotton, 37% nylon, 3% spandex) (cobalt): $7 (50% off from Clegs),
  • 0.3 meters duchess satin (fuchsia): leftover fabric,
  • Invisible zipper 7" (royal): $1.75,
  • Gutermann thread (310): from my stash,
  • Whisperweft: from my stash,
  • Simplicity 2117 pattern: $7! 
If I don't include the cost of the pattern, this skirt cost me $10 and 8 hours labour :)

Pattern modifications:
  • Took in skirt at back seams, (cut 3cm off each side of the skirt back, 1.5cm seam allowance, (used size 12 pieces to accommodate my waist, but next time I'll cut a size 8,
  • Took up length of skirt by 2", 3cm hem,
  • Didn't include the vent,
  • Didn't include buttons and chain.

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Friday, 11 November 2011

Simplicity 2117, Construction

Notions: Thread, 7" invisible zipper.

Cutting out my cobalt stretch cotton, got it on sale for $10/meter!


Pleats are easy.

Fuchsia pocket.

Few hours work tonight and the end result is a beautiful Simplicity 2117 cobalt skirt with fuchsia pockets.

The photos don't show the true colors of the fabrics though.

I made a size 12 to accommodate my waist but the skirt is too loose around hip and thighs. I think I could've got away with cutting a size 8 because I like to wear my skirts high on my waist.

Tomorrow will have to do some alterations and finish off the zipper.
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Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Vintage Simplicity 3965

I really, really want to get my hands on this pattern, but I don't think Simplicity print it any more.
While surfing Bloglovin I came across this beautiful blog called Sewaholic. Tasia has made this dress so many times in different fabrics. You have to have a look at the photos and see why I fell in love with it. It's gorgeous.

I love the 50s.

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Monday, 7 November 2011


Interfacing is a layer of fabric inserted into certain parts of a garment between the inner and outer fabric.

It is used:

    • to give strength - buttonholes, waist bands, etc
    • for shape retention - pockets, buttonholes, collars, etc
    • to add body

The choice of interfacing needs great care. the wrong choice can mar the finish and appearance of a garment.

Types of Interfacing

    • Woven - lawn, horse hair canvas
    • Non-woven - Vilene
    • Fusible, non-woven - Vilene
    • Fusible, woven - solid fusible canvas, lawn, armoweft, whisperweft

Interfacings come in different weights ad degrees of stiffness and some like lawn are not stiff at all. Fusible interfacings must be used with great care since all fabrics will not react favourably to them.

Fusing is the act of bonding a fusible interfacing to a garment by the action of heat and pressure.
Fusible interfacing has been treated so that it adheres to other fabrics by the application of heat and pressure. It is identifiable by the glue on one side.

To fuse the interfacing to fabric:
  1. Pre-heat the iron, set on 'cotton'
  2. No steam
  3. Fabric right side down
  4. Interfacing sticky side down
  5. Apply heat and pressure for 10 seconds
  6. Check that fusing is complete - if not reapply heat and pressure

Note: Some interfacings such as whisperweft adhere better with a damp cloth on top, or steam. Calico placed under and over the pieces will protect your iron and board from excess glue. 

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Tips for Tracing Patterns.

Tracing your pattern on to interface is encouraged so you can reuse your pattern if you would like to make the garment in another size.

Some patterns also have different styles on the same pattern piece, e.g. short and long sleeve options, by tracing the pattern you can then make another dress using the difference style options.

If you like, you can even resell your patterns on eBay after you are finished with them.


  1. Be sure to clearly mark all cutting lines and your lengthening or shortening lines.
  2. Grain line
  3. Mark all notches and dots
  4. Be sure to write on your pattern: 
        • Name and number of piece, e.g. sleeve
        • Company name and number 
        • Size
        • How many to cut

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Terms and Definitions

I was given a quick reference guide when I started dressmaking class.
Typing this out will help me remember the definitions.
Hope other beginners find this helpful :)

Backtacking - Reverse sewing at the beginning or end of a seam for reinforcement.

Bagging -  A method of joining facings and linings to the outer fabric of a garment by sewing them together face to face in the form of a bag and then turning the garment to the right side.

Balance Marks - Notches, nicks, thread in garment parts which help to preserve the balance of the garment by serving as guides during assembly.

Bar Tacking - A reinforcement by means of repeated stitching used in clothing at points of strain e.g. belt loops, zips, pocket corners, buttonholes, etc.

Bias - An oblique direction to warp and weft. The true bias is at an angle of 45º from both warp and weft.

Blind Stitch - A stitch either by hand or machine which does not go right through the fabric.

Bobbin Thread - Thread wound onto the bobbin in the base of the machine.

Buttonhole -  The hole through which a button is passed to hold the garment in the correct position. 

Facing - Inner layer of fabric in a garment.

Interfacing - Layer of fabric inserted between the inner and outer fabrics. Fusible interfacing adheres with heat and pressure.

Knit (Interlock) - Non woven fabric designed to stretch and constructed by plain and purl stitches, e.g. t-shirt fabric, track suiting etc.

Nap - Directional fabric in pile or pattern, e.g. velvet, corduroy, etc.

Notions - Items required to finish the garment, e.g. thread, elastic, zip, lace, etc.

Overlock - Machine method of neatening raw edges. Also known as serge.

Selvedge (Selvage) - the self-edge - the sides which do not fray.

Serge - See overlock.

Spool - Thread at the top of machine.

Weave -  Weft and warp threads woven together to make fabric.

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