Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Blue dress mending

 Do you ever have a project that you know you should just walk away from...but you keep carrying on anyway? I wrote a while back about my most recent Staple Dress and how the fabric just failed and shredded after only one wear:
Yeah I admit that is was over a stress point and that realistically I needed to add a bit more ease to the pattern in the bust/shoulders area (due to a gradual recent weight gain)...still...most fabrics will only shred like this after several wears and washes. Unless the fabric itself is quite weak to begin with. Rayon does have this stigma associated with it and up until now I had never really encountered it. 
I don't know if its really typical itself of rayon or a sign of shoddy workmanship in fabric construction or mishandling on my part but I was still pretty devastated when this happened. This dress fabric pretty much felt like heaven to wear, cool and soft and BREATHABLE on a really hot Western Australian summers day. A lovely print featuring my favourite shade of blue and with just the right amount of drape. I was in love.
So I decided to give machine mending a bit of a go. Basically you do a straight stitch back and forth, trying to blend in with the direction of the weave and changing thread colour (if needed) to suit the pattern.
A bit uneven along the leaf edges, but otherwise I was pretty happy with my efforts:
I reinforced the fabric with some light iron-on interfacing, which you can see on the reverse side: 
After doing this I thought I had saved the dress from the bin but no sooner had I worn the item again that the fabric shredded in a different spot :(
In the end I hacked the top off above the shirring and turned the dress into a skirt. As the skirt is a lot looser I'm thinking the fabric should hold together OK. 
All the leftover bits of this fabric (quite a bit) went to my kids school for kindy kids to cut up and use in craft- I wasn't going to risk getting sucked into making something with this again, only to have it fall apart.
Learning, learning, still learning..... ;)

Have a good one!

Kate x 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


This beauty recently found it's way to my home :

(Seller's pic from the original ad, with an old bedhead behind)
This fiddle base sewing machine - with shuttle bobbin and treadle- was made around the 1880's by the Wertheim factory (most likely the Melbourne branch).

 Given how old the machine is and how weathered the external wood looks ( it appears to have been kept outside decorating the previous owner's veranda) it was a pleasant surprise to find that the main mechanisms still turn quite nicely.

 There are plans to try and sew on this one day, but for now it can just sit pretty in my hallway- safe from the elements and with a good application of wood oil to look forward too :)

Til next time...

Happy sewing!

Kate :)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Holiday at Surfers

Well finally the much-anticipated-and-longed-for family holiday to Queensland arrived last school holidays.
Helloooooo Surfer's Paradise.
With it's truly gorgeous beaches.....
 And rather impressive (new) multi-million dollar tram network...
We stayed at a very kid friendly resort and had an awesome time (besides the kiddie meltdowns due to too much sugar/activity/lack of regular routine....ah family life ;) 
Enough about the touristy stuff! 

Guess WHAT I managed to work into the hectic family holiday "schedule" in Surfer's? 
Some hand sewing!

Yay me! And yes it is a kinda crazily inefficient way to sew now we have sewing machines but...with two young kids in tow luggage space is always going to be at a premium. With multiple changes of clothes in case of mishaps/accidents/lazy mummy-on-hols washing schedule and the requisite comfort toys/blankies (for the kids!) there is really very little room leftover for anything non-essential. 

Looking at our combined family luggage there was NO WAY I could even try to smuggle a machine in there, even if I wanted to (hey I figured this holiday was a holiday from the usual sewing stuff too!).

So IF I was gonna sew on vacation basically anything I took with me would have to be :
a) a good candidate for handsewing, due to aforementioned luggae space restrictions and a desire for a "break" from the usual...
b) simple enough that handsewing the seams wouldn't take forever/break my spirit (I like to be if not immediately then "pretty quickly" gratified with my sewing projects, hand sewing something was no different)
c) easily packed away when necessary.

Pattern selected was a tank version of Megan Nielsen's Eucalypt dress (which I tested back here). The pattern is fairly simple with no darts, the fabric pieces were a discarded UFO  were already cut out (major bonus!) and I had already made it so kind of knew what to expect. The fabric was a lovely grey and print batik block print silk, picked up quite cheaply at an op shop (charity store). I had already cut this and the bias binding (for the neck and armholes) out several months ago, so everything was pretty much ready to go.

Selecting what tools to take was fairly easy: pattern instructions,needlebook (with a selection of needles), Guterman thread in relevant colour (black), pin cushion wristband, unpicker, scissors, hem gauge and my snazzy new clover thimble. I figured the hotel room would have a iron and ironing board (they did) and hoped that anything else would be wingable...

All this I put in a large (A4 size) ziplock bag and tucked into my checked luggage. Unfortunately with so many pointy/sharp things carry on luggage wasn't an option, though the amount of time spent on flight would have made a good dent in the sewing load!

As luck would have it most of my flight time was taken up ferrying children to and from the toilet, or showing them how to work the in-flight entertainment, so sewing would have been a non starter anyway.

It wasn't until almost halfway through the holiday that I was able to whip out the bit of Ye Olde Hande Sewing and find some time to make a start. 
(***Note to mums it helps if your kids are totally exhausted by the local adventure parks and just want to zombie out in front of the telly!**).

My husband (being the absolute champion that he is )took the kids to a playground one day so I could get stuck into a decent bit of hand sewing. The rest of it was done at night after the kids were asleep , or in intervals while relaxing before dinner.

 While not my number 1 (or even 7th) preferred method of sewing I did find hand sewing quite relaxing and oddly fulfilling. 

It's good to know that should the need (or zombie apocalypse) ever arise, I can sew a seam and join two pieces of fabric using nothing more than needle and thread :)

Until I get a decent shot of the finished top...

Happy [hand] sewing!!!

Kate x

Monday, September 22, 2014

I've got that VSM (vintage sewing machine) fever...

So quite recently - ever since the "Vintage sewing machine bonanza"- if you happened by my place this is what you might expect to see:
Excited yet?
That's sewing machine parts soaking in SMO (acronym for "sewing machine oil" for the uninitiated, and yeah that was me only a few weeks ago....).
And yep I think its a special type of person that gets excited over that; an old machine getting restored to some of its former glory (but hey I'm totally there already- in fact I am totally warming your VSM seat, so who am I to judge?).
  • This is my Singer 99K that I got in a recent bulk lot deal. Wiring works but realistically a bit iffy (total fire hazard IMHO) so this machine may end up being a hand crank conversion- no electrical issues that way ;)
So I am totally going to pad out the rest of this post with pics (but really that's probs what you really wanted to see right?).
Pretty scroll work:
Serial number (you can look these up on ISMACS), this one has a manufacture date of the 11th of June 1937:
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-pL1NRUGO_4k/U9zhisgqMgI/AAAAAAAAClc/3WqQDNbwgj0/s1600/SAM_0988-785715.JPGBonus free dead spider....
Drop in bobbin case (with extra fluff and red felt "wick")
Crustiness on the latch that keeps the machine attached to the wooden base (not the hinge but the part that keeps it closed/together when you lift it up).
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Glj9EkC5yIw/U9zh6kZuiVI/AAAAAAAAClo/owly-2zr4sg/s1600/SAM_0987-781122.JPGThe bobbinwinder with its own "patina" of crusty-ness...
The main sewing bed where the shellac finish has "crazed" and worn away in part:
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-aW0WpsQ7gQE/U9ziYrNz4lI/AAAAAAAACl0/LL6e3n2vv-w/s1600/SAM_0986-701629.JPGHmm....... what do you think- am I totally mad to try and revive this one?
Hate to see such a beauty go to waste so will give it a good try.
Stay posted for future updates :D
Kate x

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Grey Sorbetto

This is my second Sobetto (by Colette patterns) make but my first time blogging it. The previous make was so "not me" that I could not honestly happily post about it. 
This time turned out much better: 
The first Sorbetto top I made was done by selecting the size that corresponded to my measurements. First make was a little "blousey".
Next time I decided to go next size down. Much better fit, maybe could do with a little more room as the side seam does curve quite a bit instead of being straight:
 Oh well just more tweaking for future versions! 
A few individual things I did on this top...
Added my own "handmade" clothing label:
Embellished the neckline using the "feather stitch" option on my machine:
Finished the hem by using a zigzag scallop stitch and then trimming near the stitching:
Persisted with sewing up this top after realising my tension was totally wrong and being reassured by a fellow sewer that the stitching would not come apart (good thread!):
For such a simple top this has been quite a learning curve! Am looking forward to the day that I can make one of these up with minimal thought!

You can find the [FREE] pattern here.

Happy Sewing!

Kate :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Vintage Op-Shoppery

I've been thinking that its been too long long since my last (waaay back here) op-shopping "haul" post. It's not like I haven't been cruising charity stores for sewing/crafting/clothing items - god knows that is my one little regular "splurge" - rather its the time involved in taking/uploading pics of the resulting finds. 
I know I know "excuses, excuses"!
So without further ado this is the result of my most recent expedition (of the thrift stores along Scarborough Beach Road):

Harking back to the early 1980s this dress was probably the height of fashion in its time. It now reminds me of the uniform I had to wear for my first ever job in a delicatessen (imagine it all in white with a name badge). The styling seems to be a little confused; all "Laura Ashley"/ladylike with the floppy hat and strappy heels, but the dress shape itself is very sporty/tuckshop lady/early 1980s checkout operator. 
Here we have a outfit I could jave imagined my mum in during the 1970's/80s and a background setting not unlike my very earliest childhood recollections. God bless carpet tiles and modular furniture ;)
Enid Gilchrist sewing books are a bit different from regular paper patterns as what you actually get is detailed instructions for drawing up your own pattern from the diagram given. I am guessing this was a more economical way of selling so many patterns (than printing out the actual pattern pieces themselves). I think this book is 1970s era (after 1966 anyway as it's price is in cents). Not sure what to make of the little girls outfit.... 

An example of one of the diagrams. This one is for changing a given shirt pattern into a blouse by altering some of the pattern pieces.

Six pale blue vintage buttons. Looking at the scrap of blue fabric on the back of one button I wonder whether they originally were much brighter in colour. Labelled as ceramic but in fact 100% plastic.

A roll of red bias cut stiffened fabric. Unfolded bias binding or stabilising tape? Sure it will come in handy and so cheap to boot! 

A very cute collection of smocked/pleated cushion covers, circa early 1960s. Unfortunately part of the front cover is missing but otherwise it seems complete. Happy to find this one as I haven't got anything else like it in my collection :)

So that's the beginning, I still have a huge backlog of op-shopping finds to get through!

Til next time...

Happy sewing/op-shopping ;)

Kate x

Thursday, September 4, 2014

True cost and "value"

Although I may not always be sewing something or blogging about it, the one thing I do DO regularly is try to read sewing/crafting/fashion industry related articles (mostly via facebook and bloglovin).

Three particular posts have struck a chord with me recently:

 -An article (via Ecouterre) by Jasmin Malik Chua on how conditions within the Cambodian garment industry are causing workers to literally drop dead on the job.

- This round up of responses often heard when non-sewing folk discover someone can sew (by Jess of The Sewing Rabbit).

-Molli Sparkles very detailed post on how he worked out the $$ value costing of his most recent art quilt creations.

Hope you find these as interesting to read as I did :) 

Happy sewing (and reading!)

Kate x