Elisalex – the Edited Edition

As part of our “family rules” that are 15/16ths finished and will be blogged about once the last rule has been added (“try to be you best”….. I think, or “don’t leave your underwear on the floor of a morning….), one of my favourites, is try new things. I use it often with B1 and B2 with varying levels of success and to show that I am the queen of leading by example, when it suits, I…. lead by example. This rule does not apply to vegemite for me, as they insisted it should, because I’ve tried it once and hated it. Vegemite might look like Nutella, but taste like, it does not. This rule does however include trying new patterns for frock making, which is an area in which I am excelling this week.

I purchased the Elisalex pattern from By Hand London maybe 6 months ago, and left it in the to do pile because I was head over heals with the Anna dress (7 at last count). I also had to make the usual adjustment of lengthening the bodice which was princess line and it seemed to be just a little too much effort.

However. I am determined to start making my way though my stash, as evidenced by my participation in Summer (winter down here) Stash Bust 2014 run by fellow blogger, the quirky peach. My commitment is to sew at least 3 stash pieces before being able to add 1. I think that is reasonable for me.

Time Out. Bear with. I have, for the first time in my life, a fabric stash. And I’m a little excited about it. It includes vintage fabrics, vintage sheets to be used as fabric and fabric I’ve picked up from warehouses. Not as much Liberty as one would expect or like, however I have found THE one and am saving for a piece for a Belcarra Blouse and they also sell Nano Iro which I’m keen to introduce myself to. I’ve re purposed some of my old clothes that no longer fit but are made out of beautiful fabric, mostly  morphing them into the Belcarra blouse from Sewaholic . It  is definitely getting a work out, and I’m up 4 at the last count, possibly 5.

Back to the main story. So, this fabric was purchased with the Elisalex in mind and being determined to try new things and not start another project before Elisalex had been completed, I set to pattern  tracing, altering and toiling/muslining. I very rarely do this, but given the princess seams I thought it best to on this occasion. It worked perfectly with no further alteration required, other than the usual 2.5cm lengthening of the bodice at the waist. Perfect.

hmmmm

hmmmm. What The?

So, I attached the skirt, tilted head to the side a little when it was on the coat hanger thinking that is a rather poofy tulip shape, thought it might look better on, and was proven otherwise. The bodice fits perfectly, the skirt exaggerates the waist and hip a little too much for my liking. Plus, I could only take mini steps, and mini steps do not work for girls who are 6″ tall.

thinking, thinking

thinking, thinking

After some advice was sought on instagram, I removed a total of 40cm from the length of the skirt, turned up a 1cm hem twice, and then took to hand stitching on some gorgeous embroidered silk organza on the hem line to add a little voom that had previously been removed. I also took out some of the tulip on the skirt side seams to bring it in a little.

Elisa 2

This is eventuated!

Elisa4

A little bit bubble skirt, a fabulous fitting bodice, and a finished dress that I think I can get away with wearing to work. Who am I kidding, I wear what I like to work. It’s one of the main reasons I work there. I also added the embroidered silk organza trim from France just to add a little more fancy. The colours just matched so well. And I love the back neck line! I hadn’t seen it (for obvious reasons) until Bruce took the photo’s this afternoon when the sun said hello for a minute.Elisalex 8

The inside, as always, is finished with me spending more time hand stitching than it would take 1 person in China to make 10 complete versions. I love the lining. I’m not always one for novelty fabrics, much  preferring the classics, however this made me smile and only I know it’s there.

I will definitely use the bodice again, and on the advise of sew busy lizzy, will next pair it with the Charlotte skirt, and if all things go well, will make a wiggle dress with my 1950’s silk cotton that is waiting for something special.

So watch this space for the next version, which I might proudly add is also going to be stash busting.

Curtsey

Pips xxx

PS. Bear with. We had this conversation at work regarding “bear with” versus “bare with” because to me both of them look terribly wrong. The consensus was (with the assistance of google) that “bear with” was correct, although you might feel that a grizzly was going to turn up at any moment expecting a shared picnic. “Bare with” would be an invitation for someone to get naked with you, and considering it was pretty much an all staff email, I was happy to go the grizzly, not the naked. Although just for the record, bear still looks wrong to me.

Taking Stock – 2

A little Saturday night insight into the life of Pips….

Making : Clothes! Pj’s, blouses, maxi skirts
Cooking : Not much, nausea (no I’m not pregnant, it’s just “unexplained”) is not the friend of the cook. Maybe cookies for the boys tomorrow
Drinking : bubbly soda stream with raspberry cordial and lots of additives
Reading: Trying to finish Molly Fyde and the Bern Saga, but it is dragging on so much!
Wanting: To feel less nauseated
Looking: at Bruce pouring me some raspberry bubbles, and my pretty wall paper

that wallpaper!

that wallpaper!

Playing: Tori Amos’ new album, Unrepentant Geraldines. This woman is truly amazing.
Deciding: If I can stay awake any longer, or should just give up and go to sleep
Wishing: it was school holidays, and also not school holidays
Enjoying: the cool air, and realising I’m still dressing for Autumn
Waiting: for a pay rise at the end of financial year
Liking: this blog, you should go and check her out!
Wondering: when my next existential crisis is going to be. It’s been at least 6 weeks since the last
Loving: Me Made May (past tense)

Me Made May 2014

Me Made May 2014

Pondering: The meaning of life. And as always, coming back to 42
Considering: writing a business plan for my screen printing business ideas
Watching: Just finished Breaking Bad season 4. OMG. Penny Dreadful, love it. Fargo, interesting. Mad Men is next on the list.
Hoping: That b1 and b2 won’t end up in emergency tomorrow after attending a roller skating party
Marvelling: at the fact my boys have such empathy. Win!
Needing: to go to sleep.
Smelling: raspberry cordial and revitafoam
Wearing: the best pi’s in the world that I made last week and are trimmed with french lace
Following: my own footsteps
Noticing: my garden needs to be gardened
Knowing: it’s ok to be me
Thinking: how could 6 hours fly by without food/drink/powder room break? I love the “flow” experienced when I sew. So does PW.

Panda Wine in the flow

Panda Wine in the flow

Feeling: Tired (big surprise)
Admiring: the stars I can see out my window
Sorting: my t-shirt draw. Tomorrow.
Buying: nothing until payday.
Getting: more people visiting my blog. Hooray!
Bookmarking: Bloggy tips. I’m sure to get to them one day.
Disliking: ads on TV. I can no longer watch commercial tv without yelling
Opening: too many packages last week.
Giggling: at this clip
Feeling: Still tired.
Coveting: dreamless sleep
Wishing: things were in order
Helping: get things into order
Hearing: the ringing in my ears

Curtsey and good evening

Pips xxx

Essential Sewing Tips from a Seamstress. Part 1:

As I learn and evolve (getting closer to Zen everyday…. it’s a work in progress), and think everything I have learnt is all I need to know, I discover more. Often by chance, sometimes by mistake. And sometimes I meet lovely like-minded people along the way who share their knowledge and wisdom in the local neighbourhood. Those who also tolerate B1 and B2 going through all the buttons, and for reasons unknown, love to collect buttons. Yes. Buttons.

Heights Sewing Centre

Heights Sewing Centre

Yes, I hold onto old habits, sure that no replacement could ever exist for a technique or routine that I have followed since I was first taught. However, I’m learning there are different ways that can save time, effort and make the experience a little less breath holding. Just to clarify: When I’m overly stressed about doing something, sewing or otherwise, I hold my breath. It’s not a particularly helpful technique, neither adding value to what I’m working on or my assisting my personal wellbeing. I often do it at work. I used to do it with sewing. I’m more conscious of it now, however I still find myself on occasion having a quick gasp when I’ve been concentrating intently. But I digress.

So  today I thought I would share a sprinkle of my knowledge acquired  in my sewing adventures, some more recently and others another lifetime ago when I was working as a home seamstress and being paid pittance for hours of work. I think that’s where much of my breath holding went in those days.

This, dear friends, is a most wondrous discovery. I discovered it at the local haberdashery and has it changed, not so much the way I sew, but the way I utilise and treat my patterns. Previously, I would purchase a Big 4 pattern, hack away at the flimsy tissue paper in a size I thought might approximate something that would fit, and then repurchase the pattern the next time I needed it (inevitably) because I had lost a piece or needed a different size. No more! I discovered via the interwebs the idea of tracing off a pattern to allow the original to be kept in pristine condition. Excellent. Until I found that reasonably sized pieces of tracing paper were not readily available and I would end up piecing together wax paper or A3 sheets from the local arts store . They would tear, stick together in places unintended and rumple. Too much, too much I cried! Especially since I was now investing in indie patterns that I wanted to keep in mint condition because they were so, well, indie. And pretty. There is something magical about a indie pattern that makes one shudder at the thought of going the big chop with scissors.

tv4

Enter Heights Sewing Centre, Est 1935. The local habby that keeps me supplied with notions, thread and that which may (or may not…) change your life: Tracing Vilene. It’s a standard old time interfacing with no sticky, and you use it to trace patterns off. It is THE replacement for cutting originals or for tracing paper. It is also my Favourite. Sewing. Thing. Ever. It’s sold off a roll like fabric, costs about $3 a meter, is sold by the meter or less and runs in a continuous length. Tracing vilene also has the following most excellent properties as evidenced below:

  • It’s see through, just as much as tracing paper
  • It does not easily crease (and if it does, iron it flat)
  • It readily accepts a ball point pen without fear of smudge or transfer onto fabric
  • It doesn’t tear when you look at it
  • It stands up to multiple pinnings with no need for sticky tape reinforcement
  • It does not curl
  • stores perfectly with the original pattern

tv3

My most used pattern at the moment is the Anna dress by By Hand London. I can honestly declare that  I haven’t had to retrace a piece in the 7 times I’ve used it nor reinforce any sections that may have torn if the alternative of paper was used. The Belcarra blouse from Sewaholic is also getting a fervent work out at the moment.

favorite pattern of the month/year

favorite pattern of the month/year

I get a little enthusiastic about it, and consider any other product to be supremely inferior. Yes paper, I’m referring to you. I also use it for my own drafted templates for tea towels and pillowcases. If they stop producing it, I may just loose it. This love is  timeless, and I am forever grateful for the ladies at Heights Sewing Centre that introduced me to it. And to Ken of course, whose family owns the business. He has been running it for almost 50 years! And such a wealth of knowledge.

Curtsey to Heights Sewing Centre, located at 177 Pakington St Geelong West.

Pips xxx

PS. Let me know if you have any tips for tracing off patterns, I’d love to know any other alternatives

Me-Made-May: I Made It!

Anna, Anna, Vogue, remake retro

Anna, Anna, Vogue, remake retro

 

After launching myself into Me Made May 2014 (#MMM14) without much thought or review of my hand made wardrobe, I fared much better than expected with a rather successful 30/31 days. One day off for feeling icky, and that was before I’d made the pj pants. Well done, I say!

 


Self drafted and screen printed skirt, vogue, remake skirt, skirt I made 14 years ago

Self drafted and screen printed skirt, vogue, remake skirt, skirt I made 14 years ago


One of the things I really enjoyed was trying out some new patterns, plus Sew Indie Month has just started for June so I may have unintentionally progressed towards this months challenge, but suspect I won’t really make the dead lines. My favourites were the Coco dress by Tilly and the Buttons (I now have 3) and the Belcarra Blouse from Sewaholic. I’ve just deconstructed my favourite a-line skirt made from 1920’s silk that I made 15 years a go but no longer fits. I’ve done some quick calculations and with a contrast sleeve, it shall refashioned into a blouse. I love the word blouse. “I wore a blouse today.” So much fancier than wearing a shirt or a top. Blouse. Going to add that to my list of favourite words, including allure and homoglebin (the last is a word I made up accidentally when talking to a paediatrician in hospital and I said it with such confidence that it was a few minutes before we figured out I had in fact meant haemoglobin. I’m sure it could be added to the medical dictionary).  ButI digress….

Cambie, Lady Skater, Skirt made 14 years ago, self drafted skirt from vintage dress

Cambie, Lady Skater, Skirt made 14 years ago, self drafted skirt from vintage dress

Also the sewing community on instagram which I mentioned in last weeks post. Getting acknowledgement/recognition/affirmation of ones sewing skills on IG is very interactive, doesn’t take a huge amount of effort like signing in or adding your details for commenting, and is so much better than just seeing the stats behind the scenes on your blog that are just numbers without faces. Not that I don’t want people reading my blog, of course I do! It’s just there is a certain level of anonymity there. Although I know when my bestie in Berlin reads my blog, because the stats say “1 view Germany”. Love it.

Lady Skater, Anna, Anna, Lady Skater

Lady Skater, Anna, Anna, Lady Skater

What I really didn’t enjoy was the self portraits required each morning (selfies sounds too Paris Hilton for my liking…..). Every morning between organising breakfast, seeing to lunches, doing an underpants audit (seriously, B2 is notorious for trying to go to school sans underpants. Don’t ask…) and trying to put on lipstick so I don’t look like a corpse and then trying to avoid the double chin. So difficult. But, needs must as Sylvie would say. I do admit to having Bruce take some photo’s on the last day because it was Saturday. However due to a number of unfortunate external factors, including respective moods, I rejected them and took one last snap in the mirror. Nostalgia and all. Plus my creepy doll got in on the action. She was part of the experience. There was also a bear bum photobombing below if you look carefully. Not it’s best angle…..

 

Anna, Belcarra, Parjie crotchet, Belcarra

Anna, Belcarra, Parjie crotchet, Belcarra

So, it was a happy #MMM14. I’ve had some lovely comments on my outfits and the only real gap I’ve identified in my wardrobe is a need for more black opaque tights. Lots of them. Saving up to go to Wolford.

Coco, self drafted skirt and screen print t, french lace Anna, Lady Skater

Coco, self drafted skirt and screen print t, french lace Anna, Lady Skater

Next week I’m going to share some of my sewing tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the past 15 years of sewing. Some you might know, some I’ve only recently discovered in the last couple of months and then wondered how ever did I survive without knowing them before.

Coco,  Vogue, self drafted skirt, self knitted top

Coco, Vogue, self drafted skirt, self knitted top

Here’s to happy sewing days.

Self drafted pi's, vogue with spesh dying, indigo dyed scarf, vintage Anna.

Self drafted pi’s, vogue with spesh dying, indigo dyed scarf, vintage Anna.

Curtsey.

Pips.

PS if you have any of your own super sewing tips, leave a comment and I’ll be sure to include them in next weeks post and link them back to you.