Archive | March, 2013

WSBN Meet-up 3/2013: The St Paddy’s Day edition

25 Mar

On 17 March, the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network (or WSBN!) organised another meet-up.

Eventually someone clever realised it was St Patricks day, but as that was just a coincidence we basically ignored it. I did have plans to finish a green necklace I’m making, but, you know how it is! That will show up here one day though.

We started with yum cha at Majestic. Standing at the traffic lights I caught a glimpse of a pretty teal colour and is my habit checked out the fabric before I even registered the person in it. But my brain suddenly twigged and I blurted out “I know that dress!” The head attached to the dress (because it turns out there was one) looked startled and then laughed in response and thus I met up with Holly before I’d even reached the venue.

Lunch was TASTY. There were dumplings (pork, prawn, fried, steamed, and assorted other combinations); deep fried things (chicken and squid) and pork bun things (steamed and not-steamed). But I was saving room for dessert… coconut buns and MANGO PUDDING! I was well behaved and only had one mango pudding as I didn’t want to give away the fact that I am a greedy guts in front of my new friends, but I could totally have eaten a second one. Maybe even made inroads on a third. My auxiliary dessert stomach is powerful.

There is no photo of my mango pudding. As Mel on one side and Nikki on the other took artful photos of their puddings, I was two thirds through inhaling mine. Self control? Photos? Whatevs. IT WAS FREAKING MANGO PUDDING! I am immune to your judging.

But better than mango pudding (and there’s a sentence I never thought I’d say) was the awesome company! You see, the WSBN is about bringing together people with three common elements. Living in Wellington. Sewing. And blogging/participating in the blogging community.

The name kind of says it all really.

And we’ve grown! What started with seven of us in December became eight of us in January and then we had 10 members by the time of the meet-up in February and now there are 16 members! And they’re an awesome bunch of people too!

And I got to meet a bunch of the new folk over prawn dumplings and mango pudding. Along with original members Kat, Nikki, and Mel, lunch included Sandra, Wendy, Nicola, and Holly, who are of course as fabulous as the folk I’ve already met.

After we’d finished our meal we waddled walked in a ladylike fashion to Made on Marion where we were joined by the fabulous Mrs C, The Dreamstress, Teresa, and Juliet. So then we were nearly complete! (Jo was sick and couldn’t make it unfortunately and Emily was otherwise booked up.)

At Made on Marion there was the exchange of goods that tends to take place. I took in two boxes of fabric and a huge box of patterns I’d picked up from a recycling forum, and many of the other girls brought in some treats too.

Just some of the patterns available, being picked over the Teresa and Sandra

Just some of the patterns available, being picked over the Teresa and Sandra. Photo courtesy Nikki. 

I came home with three patterns and a piece of fabric. There were two patterns I didn’t take but was tempted by, but I know where they’ve gone so I can hunt them down!

The patterns I picked up from the swap

The patterns I picked up from the swap. I love the line of the 70s jacket and love the neckline and peplum of the Style tops! And cutaway shoulders – have always enjoyed them.

The leopardish sating print I picked up in the swap. I'm thinking a fabulous jacket lining eventually!

The leopardish satin print I picked up in the swap. I’m thinking a fabulous jacket lining eventually!

There were some customised just-for-me treats too.

After I lusted all over Mel’s blog about her rainbow swallow fabric she offered to pick me some up from Spotties so she handed that over to much squealing on my part. Another friend of mine had put the word out for some embroidery thread so I’d in turn asked around and Holly kindly had a wee stash of threads and fabric for me. Juliet gave me the scaprs of her awesome pink zebra dress because I’d squealed all over the fabric. And many months ago both The Dreamstress and I had won a pattern on a Facebook giveaway by Kitty’s Drawings, and both had been posted to The Dreamstress, so she brought in mine to hand over. Isn’t it adorable! (And about a squillion sizes too small!)

I won it and now it's all mine!

I won it and now it’s all mine!

People thought I was being so well behaved, going home with only three patterns and one piece of fabric. Of course, what they didn’t realise was that I’d already gone through the box of patterns and kept these…

The patterns I kept from the box I got through the recycling group. I was trying to be restrained so I left at least this many again!

The patterns I kept from the box I got through the recycling group. In my defence some of them I kept because they are so hilariously bad.

And what about what people were wearing! Well, everyone was wearing something self-made! Apart from… me. BOO! I’d been hard at work over the weekend on finishing a lined pencil skirt but had taken some time off to catch up with friends and family. I was desperately trying to get it done and as I clock watched and stressed my Mechanic Man wisely said to me “is it more important to finish the skirt or to get there on time.” So no skirt there was.

By the time I conceded defeat I had the hem of my skirt lining left to finish, and that’s all! But with no time to hem there was also no time to change, so I wore jeans and a tee – pppp. Tragic. I did wear a thick slouchy cardi my mum knitted for me though, does that count?

But everyone else’s me-mades were fabulous! And I’ve since finished the skirt and washed the fabric for the next skirt…

The group! (Mostly)

The group! (Mostly). Photo courtesy Nikki’s camera but taken by someone else!

L-R, front to back: Wendy (in self-made blouse); Nikki(in self-made dress); Sandra (in self-made dress); Mel (in self-made dress); Teresa (in self-made dress); Nicola with baby Ash (in self-made shirt); Juliet (in self-made dress); The Dreamstress (in self-made tee); Holly (in self-made dress); Kat holding Drake (in self-made blouse) and me! In self-made nothing. And I’m not even wearing the mum-made cardi. Mrs C missed the photo as she was serving those pesky customers.

What an awesome day and what an awesome group of ladies! So enamoured are we of our little meet-up group that we’ve got a fancy button (created by Mel the Photoshop Wizard). Expect to see more meet-ups and we’ve got some fun games and challenges up our sleeve too!

Look! We have a button! Mel, you're awesome.

Look! We have a button! Mel, you’re awesome.

FO: pink and white floral circle skirt

13 Mar

Finally! I’m sharing my first circle skirt. Which I first made in March 2011. Yep, 2 years ago.

Unlike my second circle skirt, which was a heavy cotton sateen with quite a lot of drape, my first circle skirt was a lightweight cotton voile. Despite being hung for a week before being hemmed, it quickly dropped in one place and sat around for months waiting to be re-levelled and re-hemmed. Then when it was re-hemmed I didn’t have anything to wear it with for ages, and it was too lightweight for winter besides. So this summer was my first chance to really truly wear it. And wear it I did. It was glorious to wear in the heat of summer. All of these photos are from my Christmas holiday in KeriKeri, taken on a day trip to Russell and Waitangi, where it was perfect.

Daintily arranged to show off the print, on the hillside just below Russell's famous flagpole.

Daintily arranged to show off the print, on the hillside just below Russell’s famous flagpole.

I LOVE the print on this skirt. I love the vibrant colours and the painted look of the giant flowers and the fact that it doesn’t look like a floral at first glance. I love this so much I have the same fabric in an electric-blue-on-white colourway, waiting for the right pattern to become a two piece full skirted dress.

Was thrilled to see a bottle of Mello Yellow for sale while in Russell! Limited edition, exactly the same label from my childhood. I had to buy one (even though I wasn't a huge fan when it was out.) My mum decided that the retro style bottle went great with the skirt and retro-ish sunnies.

Was thrilled to see a bottle of Mello Yellow for sale while in Russell! Limited edition, exactly the same label from my childhood. I had to buy one (even though I wasn’t a huge fan when it was out the first time and not much has changed.) My mum decided that the retro style bottle went great with the skirt and retro-ish sunnies.

The skirt (dropping hem aside) was easy to make, as all circle skirts are. I used McCalls 5811 again, put in an invisible zip and a lapped waistband with a trouser hook, and wham bam that’s a skirt! The second time around hemming, I used wide  white bias tape to give it a bit of support at the hem and that was perfect.

This giant sundial offers 360 degree views over bush and ocean with the Russell township nestled in one piece. But rather than show you the beautiful views, I'm showing you my skirt. Oops.

This giant sundial offers 360 degree views over bush and ocean with the Russell township nestled in it. But rather than show you the beautiful views, I’m showing you my skirt. Oops.

Because I had to level this twice, I got worried about it being crooked. Which was probably why I noticed, when folding it after finishing the hems, the the side seams were a good inch different in length. I freaked out – I did NOT want to hem this again! But I tried it on, and no,it looked all good, nice and straight. So on a whim I looked at my other two circle skirts, (my polka dot skirt and the third yet to be blogged about). And each of them also had an inch discrepancy on the side seams, with the same side seam short in each case. So either one hip is lower than the other or one butt cheek is rounder than the other but either way, my body is not symmetrical. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise, and is why I always get my skirts levelled on the body rather than on a dress form!

Holding my skirt to catch the breeze

Holding my skirt to catch the breeze

The sky was that colour everywhere.

The sky was that colour everywhere.

Posing in the Waka House, Waitangi, where we had great fun exploring

Posing in the Waka House, Waitangi, where we had great fun exploring.

I love wearing circle skirts, even though I’m still not sure they suit me. But I love how they feel and that is the most important thing. The one downside of circle skirts is that I live in a windy city and the breeze can be a bit naughty sometimes. I get around this by wearing things of which I do not know the name. They’re like leggings but only come to the bottom of my thigh. When I was at school we called them bike shorts, but that can’t be right because these aren’t the hi-tech cycling shorts you’d see on people who are actually riding a bike. I still call them that in my head but what do you call them? Either way, they’re not quite right, the lace abrades a little and I’d like them a bit longer too, so I’m thinking of making tap pants or bloomers instead.

And I’m not showing you the photo of my skirt caught by the breeze, up around my ears, butt to the camera, white [insert name here] on full display!

FO and MOS 2/52: Best-friend’s-wedding dress

10 Mar

No, I didn’t make a wedding dress for my best friend. That would be my best-friend’s wedding-dress. See how important punctuation is?

What I did make was the dress I wore to my best friend’s wedding, which is scary enough anyway. And I was her maid of honour. Way to raise the stakes there!

You want some photos of the wedding right? Everyone likes wedding photos. Apart from the people who don’t. You know who you are.

Casual shot on a cell phone after the ceremony. Yep, I had purple leopard sunnies. It was bright!

Casual shot on a cell phone after the ceremony. Yep, I had purple leopard sunnies. It was bright! You’d think there’d be lots of photos – it was a wedding afterall – but most of the unofficial snaps are of the brides and we’re still waiting for the official snaps to come back that will have a bit more of me!

What a privilege to be the maid of honour at my best friend's wedding. KT is on the right and her lovely new wife is on the left

What a privilege to be the maid of honour at my best friend’s wedding. KT is on the right and her lovely new wife is on the left

Enough about weddings, what about the dress?

Luckily, my only criterion as maid of honour was to wear purple. It could be any fabric, any style, even any shade of purple so long as I turned up in purple. You’d think this would make life easy, seeing as how I have a stash out the wazoo, but did I have a length of purple fabric suitable for such a dress? NO. So off shopping I went. Now, I can’t walk into a fabric shop without falling over a squillion bolts of fabric I adore. But going looking for something specific is hard work! There was pretty much nothing out there in a beautiful, proper purple. Not purply pink, not fuchsia, not magenta, but a rich violet or iris purple. But a I did eventually buy a beautiful tissue weight dark purple silk with big black polka dots and matched it with a pretty pattern I already had (Plan A). But when I got it home, and added up the amount of time I had to make this, with the giant spectre of Christmas Holiday in the middle, I decided that faffing around with slippery silk was officially A Disaster Waiting To Happen. Nope, it had to be cotton.

Just finished, no makeup or shoes, pleased as punch with the fit of the bodice (not so pleased with dart points)

Just finished, straight off the machine onto the body, no makeup or shoes! Pleased as punch with the fit of the bodice (although not so pleased with the dart points)

After more hunting, I finally I slunk into Spotlight and found a plain purple basic cotton. I packed the fabric and my shortlist of patterns to take with me on holiday to ponder. See, being someone who likes blindingly bright colours and prints (along with gothic black outfits, but that is for another post) I kind of worried the fabric was, well, blah, and I was agonising over what to make. I thought about making it into something svelte and slinky to up the oomph factor, but I wasn’t sure how well a basic cotton would make up slinky. So I thought about blinging it up somehow, and had thoughts of piping and studs and lace and whatnot in my head and even bought a bunch of black piping. Finally I settled on a pattern that I thought would do it justice, princess seamed with a bit of flare at the knee and a nice seam detail that might suit piping (Plan B).

But I knew I’d need to muslin, I was worried about it not being the right pattern, would I look good at the wedding, etc. As I prevaricated and panicked, time slipped through my fingers and eventually I abandoned the untested pattern and decided to make something that I knew would fit me – a Frankencambie, made from the redrafted pattern that resulted after several rounds of mock-ups for my flame dress. I also decided to skip all the possible embellishments to make sure it was made in time.

Story-to-make-you-laugh-at-me-number-one. I had problems with cutting out. My modified Cambie bodice pieces are sans seam allowance and I stuffed up the cutting twice. The first time was because my new piece was upside down so I didn’t see my written reminder to add allowances. But what was stupid was the second time I stuffed up. I was cutting a second bodice front for the lining. I had the first bodice front still pinned to the paper to use as a guide for the seam allowance. Which I successfully did on three sides – and then, on the last, I cut against my paper piece, promptly chopping the seam allowance off both shell and lining! Grrr.

Once I’d cut another two bodice fronts, making it was pretty easy so soon after having made the flame dress so I’m not going to dwell on it, apart to note that I’m not overly happy with my dart points. Oh well, nothing’s perfect.

Story-to-make-you-laugh-at-me-number-two. While on holiday a local petticoat retailer had a sale. I have lots of fabric to make petticoats, with the idea being to dye each one a different colour, but there was a purple petticoat that was an exceptional price and it was a colour I didn’t already have made up, so I impulse-bought it. I had NO idea what I was going to wear it with when I bought it. I had no purple clothes! A couple of weeks after buying the petticoat I went to Made on Marion to buy a zip and thread for my dress. My good friend Busty La Belle worked there part-time and was on duty so I had a wee chat with her. She asked me if I’d seen the sale and I said, “yep, I bought a purple petticoat. NO idea what I’m going to wear it with. It’s a pretty colour, let’s see, about the colour of… say… this zip I’m holding. That I’m putting into a full circle skirted dress. Huh. I suppose I could wear the petticoat with the dress I’m making.” Yep, I had bought a purple petticoat at the same time I was making a purple dress and did not connect the two events in my head. My only defence was at the time I bought the petticoat I was still on Plan B, a completely non-petticoat compatible concept.

Story-to-make-you-laugh-at-me-number-three. Once the zip was set in and the lining was in, but before inserting the sleeves into the front neck, it was the first chance I had to test the fit, and the bodice fit like a glove! I ran out of the house to show my Mechanic Man. Of course, Mechanic Man had a customer over, poring over a bike in the workshop. This didn’t stop me from barrelling up to both of them, sleeves fluttering behind me, tips of the sweetheart falling forward to show flashes of bra, squealing “IT FITS!!!!!” Mechanic Man was suitably complimentary. Customer was surprisingly sweet about the half-crazed partly-dressed woman cackling with glee.

So yep, it fits. And I wore it (with the petticoat) at my best friend’s wedding. And I got a few compliments too. I also wore it to the wonderful Wellington blogger’s meet up.

A photo from the bloggers' meet-up. Photo courtesy Nikki.

A photo from the bloggers’ meet-up. Photo courtesy Nikki.

Also from the bloggers' meet-up. Thanks Nikki!

Also from the bloggers’ meet-up. Thanks Nikki!

Couldn't resist playing with some of the crowns at the Coronation cafe.

Couldn’t resist playing with some of the crowns at the Coronation Cafe.

BUT I’m not sure I love it. I love this colour. I love sweetheart necklines. I love circle skirts. My only ever reservation about the Cambie was the gathered shoulders (as generally I dislike gathers) but I even like that in the black of my flame dress. But together, I feel that these features and this colour come across as too sweet and young somehow. I bit too… well… 1980s bridesmaidsy!

Is it just me?

And if not, what can I do to fix it?

One of the ideas I had originally had was studs. I found some small dainty star shaped studs at Made on Marion and thought that a row of little silver studs along the neckline could be a bit different – sweet-meets-a-tiny-bit-punk. I’m keen to give that a go.

Or maybe some turquoise ribbon along the hem? Sequins? Feathers? Or just wear it with a belt to give it a bit more edge? Or just stop being so damn fussy and wear the damn dress?

Wellington bloggers’ meet-up, again

4 Mar

So, turns out we’re a social bunch of sewers here in the arts and creativity capital of New Zealand. (It’s the real capital too, but that’s boring.) After our first meet-up, a regular meet-up seems to have made its way onto our calendars. I missed meet-up number two but I got to number three. Which was awesome.

We met at the Wellington Museum of City and Sea, an amazing museum. In this instance although there was talk of exploring the museum, we never made it out of the café!  There was far too much to talk about! Not to mention coffees to drink, snacks to nibble, dresses to admire, and did I mention the talking?  It’s a real privilege that these two hobbies, sewing and blogs, have helped me meet such engaging and enjoyable women and I look forward to many more meet-ups.

Luckily the café was themed around Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation and had replicas of the crown jewels on display so we got a wee taste of history over our flat whites, cappuccinos  and hot chocolates. Due to my still unresolved shitty-camera-situation, I didn’t take any snaps. But luckily we didn’t really need to as the café had kindly provided a camera so we could get some pictures of us with the visiting royals who had come to escort the jewels.

Looking our very best for the royals

Looking our very best for the royals

L-R, top to bottom

Me!
Mel of The Curious Kiwi
Kat of Modern Vintage Cupcakes
Teresa of Adventures of a Girl From the Naki
Jo of Making it Well
Nikki’s Stitches

That gosh darn queen though! All that power has gone to her head and once Phil wasn’t watching she thought she could get away with a cheeky bum pinch. Well, what can I say, at least she has taste in bums.

Oh my! The Queen got fresh!

Oh my! The Queen got fresh!