Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mary Poppins, but not as you know her!

Video from our Demented Disney show came through, and here is my interpretation of Mary Poppins, introduced by the effervescent Sadie von Scrumptious, with guest appearance by K.T.
Costumewise, it was the easiest to date by FAR. The usual skirt, a modified jacket and a new hat.
The jacket was a black one I used to wear in my corporate days. I trimmed the collar with blue satin bias, turned the fronts back and under and trimmed the new line. I subbed out the buttons with daisy ones and that was it!
The hat I made using the same method as my hat tutorial here- it's just black calico. I found the three yellow gerberas at a discount store, and just glued them on. Easy peasy.
She needed a more Edwardian hair do than Constance normally has, so instead of the huge ratt on top, I used a bunch of curled hair extensions wound into balls as padding to build my hair up and out. It was just right, and the hat only needed one hat pin through the top layer and then all tha extra hair to stay put.

In case you are wondering, the baggies contain lemon sherbet. We made it ourselves, and here is the recipe:

 Mary Poppin's "Special Sugar"

1 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon each of tartaric acid, citric acid and baking soda
1 packet of lemon Raro or Tang powder (sugar no artificial sweetened)
Just stir it all up and that's it!

It really is quite delicious, and quite the pick me up!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

We won!!!

My shop Made on Marion, won the Top Shop Award for Small/Single Store. How cool is that?!
This is me accepting the award and having a lot to say as per usual -behind me from left, Melisa, Karen, MrC (pretty much hidden) Ben, and Mark the CEO of Retail NZ.
It was an awesome evening - lovely company at our table from an online beauty products shop, a lovely dinner and the excitement of winning!! Yay!!!
For a laugh, this is me on the left, up until 4.30pm. Right is me after an hour of serious interventioning at the mirror ;-)

Melissa, me and Karyn all glammed up in red and orange goodness. I am wearing the silk and velvet evening cape The Dreamstress made for me last year. So pretty!
Now to my top. It is made from a strange silk fabric, like a really coarsely woven organza but it is still beautiful quality. It behaves like organza - floating and billowing instead of draping. I fell hard to the print, which reminded me of inlaid wooden tables, but with a slightly tapa cloth vibe too.
The top is a standard MrsC empire line, A-line skirt with uneven hem jobbie, with rather odd split sleeves.
It was a mare to sew however. I tried to narrow hem the bottom and sleeves on the overlocker but the fabric kept pulling away from the stitching for inches at a time. Grrr. I tried overlocking it and it did the same thing. This is all the night before of course.
In the end I got a grip, reminded myself that I have Mad Skills, and worked it out. Firstly I stay stitched the raw edges about 5mm in, to help the warp and weft to settle. Then I changed the way I was drawing it through the overlocker - putting some tension behind it as well as in front. This really helped. I also lifted the cutting blade so it really did roll - I don't usually do this but sometimes it is the best.
FINALLY, I got a nice rolled edge. It held together for the evening, looked nice on stage, looked good as we danced our way UP to the stage to the Happy Song (everyone had great boogie music but we were the only team that danced!) and I didn't slop gravy down it so win!
I am so ridonculously proud of my people and of us :)


Saturday, August 8, 2015

On Touring, Thrifting and Coffee

Well in the past 72 hours I have driven 1200km through snow, rain and sunshine, performed, bought amazing things en route, and made new friends. And now I am relaxing for a day before another big week.
After our first show in Whakatane was postponed because the weather meant we couldn't get there, we rescheduled for Friday 7 August. So at 7am on Friday, I headed off to pick up my two companions and fellow performers, Moxie Fizz and Lady Sane.
We drove nearly 600km in wonderful weather, for which I thanked many lucky stars, and got to Whakatane by 4pm as planned.
The saga of the show began when we walked into the room, saw the stage and all of our hearts sank. All being the three of us, our wonderful leader Cherry Boomb, and Pussy Galorrez. Real names withheld to protect the innocent. I am not going to go into the details of the next three hours, wherein LadyPower transformed an almost unworkable set up into a passable venue, nor of the show itself which was pretty damned good in spite of said venue and because of us! And the great staff there who did their best to help us out. We were a Test Case for them so the boss didn't want to overinvest, you see. So we got paid the worst and had to deal with the worst conditions. From now on it will probably be fabulous. And this is why I would quite like to go back, in spite of it all.
ANYWAY, what I wanted to show you is the loot I scored on the way home!!! We stopped for a good break in Taupo, which for the uninitiated is a gorgeous little town on the shores of Lake Taupo the population of which increases 20x over in summer. It is winter here but it is still hummy, and Moxie and I went off to find junk or craft shops as we love to do.
We ended up in an antique/junk shop where the owners were enjoying a fish and chip lunch on the counter because classy. Smelled good though! Scanning the crammed cabinets of china and knickknacks, I spied buttons. BUTTONS!! Czech glass, old buttons. Just a few but so pretty. Mrs Fishnchips said, there's more in those drawers - and soon we had the little shallow drawers flung open on hundreds of twinkling glass buttons.
Between us we bought about 70 buttons and this is my haul:
Aren't they pretty! The big leaf ones are 32mm across (1 1/4 inches) and are what drew my eye. 
Glass buttons make the most incredible sound when you move them around together. I am immediately reminded of the precious glass marbles so popular when I was young. I took this photo on my kitchen bench, and as I never wear blue, it's probably not the best backdrop to show them off - they are chosen to wear with rich red, purples, golds and blacks, cos that is how I roll.
After beating the snow front on the Desert Road, where State Highway 1 runs across a volcanic plain of extraordinarily wild beauty seen many times in the LOTR and Hobbit movies, we ended up in Taihape. Here we found a junk shop so unappealing I nearly walked out, until I saw that among the total rubbish were some gems, at proper junk shop prices. I could have filled a trailer with charmingly ugly, oak modernist furniture for a few dollars, but I restrained myself to one oak Queen Anne stool that would fit in the back.
I am so torn between giving this a chalk paint treatment or leaving it as oak. I think I'll re-cover the top and then decide. It is so lovely - and useful too! 

Lady Sane came away with a bag of clothes and Moxie found some sewing patterns so everyone felt the opshopping love.

Now on the way up, I got my first speeding ticket since 2000. So, my first in this century. MORTIFIED was I, as I am a nana driver, but it was a straight bit and I got carried away. This happened on the outskirts of Hunterville, where we also stopped on the way home for a hot snack. I did what I have done many times - putting a hot coffee on the dash while I get into the car and move it to the cup holder when BOOSH, off it fell, spilling its smelly, milky self all over me, the driver floor, door and dash. Many tissues later, the worst was cleaned up but I am never stopping in Hunterville again as I feel it is not on my side.
 
In spite of speeding tickets, rickety stages, microphone batteries dying mid song, coffee spills and because of fantastic company, show camaraderie, a great audience, sequins, comfy motel beds, beautiful snow and op shopping, it was a fabulous weekend.
And to come - this week is the Award Ceremony for the Top Shop awards, in which Made on Marion is a finalist, and I have a posh top to make for it so double reason for a follow up post - new outfit AND outcome!
Happy Sunday everyone! xo



Saturday, July 25, 2015

I actually made another Actual dress!!

Good grief this is becoming a habit! But I think I have a new obsession - winter dresses. Cosy, warm, long, knit dresses.
This one is another Khaliah Ali pattern but this time from McCalls; M2078. While the McCalls range of her designs stops at size 24, I checked the sizing and this was just fine for me.
However it is not in me to leave well alone. The bodice front and centre skirt panel are all as one, which seems like a waste of fabric to me. Also, I wanted to add some flare to the front and back skirt panels. While the line drawing implies that they have flare, they are dead straight.
So, I cut the long skinny bits off, slashed and spread them, and off I went. I also wanted to do something more interesting with the neckline than just face it. So I draped a little tie collar that culminates at that lower corner. And here it is!
 On the back deck of our weekend base in Martinborough where we taught some classes this weekend.
The inky purple is a mostly merino (plus a little nylon) sweatshirting so it has a fluffy inside. The side panels are a glorious, digitally printed border viscose knit from Tessuti Fabrics. I think it was about $45m. Yup. And breathe!
 Because the viscose knit was pretty thin for winter, I underlined it with another purple merino. The two layers are sewn into the skirt as one, however not across the bottom.

The little tie collar is made from an offcut of the print. It has three pieces, so shoulder seams.
I am wearing a red V neck merino under it which slightly confuses the visuals, but again the sun is "all fur coat and no knickers" still.
I'm so in love with this dress - I literally stood in front of the dryer jumping up and down and willing it to get dry enough to wear on Thursday morning before having to give up and wear my other dress. Which I also love. But not quite as much. But don't tell it I am playing favourites.
I reckon I have a couple more dresses in me before I feel sufficiently dressed for the winter.
But for the rest of this week I am on costume duty. Coming up with a Constance version of this:
Indeed....


Monday, July 13, 2015

Winter Warmers: Footies

With due apologies to those suffering in Northern Hemisphere heat waves, it's freaking cold down under and my feet are suffering. So, I decided to make some "footies" out of merino. I bought a 5 pack of these foot cover things from a big box store and they are too big, and not as cotton as they say they are, and I feel I could do better.
The commercial ones. No they don't change colour on my feet, I was wearing odd ones!
Anyway, I bought some merino, although I could easily make these from offcuts or even an old merino top, I just don't have any here at work. And I made a pattern. It looks like this:
It's really easy to draw your own. the one tricky bit is how stretchy your fabric is - mine is typical one way stretch and that goes around the foot so this is what I did:
Draw a rectangle. The long side is the length of your foot minus 2cm. The width is the half of 75-80% of the measurement around the widest part of your foot - mine is 25cm so I made may pattern 10cm. (I have huge feet so don't be alarmed if your numbers seem much smaller - they are!)
Next, I measured the back of my heel from the ground to how high I wanted it to be plus a bit more, it came to 8cm. Mark that on one short end of your rectangle.
Now draw a curved line that goes down a bit then up at a bit past half way - like mine.
That's it! Put a Fold arrow on the long straight side as a reminder, and cut two out of your fabric.
 My merino has a backing on it which is lighter, so easier to see in photos. That's why I chose it, besides it is raspberry pink so YAY!
Now sew the short sides together like this - you could overlock but I"ve just done two rows of zigzag on top of each other.
Turn it so the seam is centred like this, and mark a curve at the same end - this is for your toes.
Sew and then trim your marked curve.
I cut a piece of fold over picot elastic slightly shorter than the curved top edge of my footie, and mark the centre with a pin. Pin this onto the spot where the seam is and attach the elastic, stretching as you go, with a zigzag. I find in these little jobs I don't have to pin, and the fabric stays in the fold over fairly well.
This is what I ended up with. 
Now fold the short end like this and sew through both layers including the elastic.
Squash the heel so the seam is centred like this, and sew across the triangle like shown. Not too much, just a little bit to get rid of a point at the bottom of your heel.
Snip the wee triangle off like this. And that is IT! Turn it right side out and:

Voila! One footie! No seams on the sole to be irritating either. And here they are on my undainty feet:


They are SO much nicer than the bought ones. Top Tip: wear these over tights, pantihose or knee highs and they are far warmer, and the under layer stops them slipping down at all. Perfect for inside boots too if you want a warm boost without socks showing!
And all for less than $1. :)
Last thing - here is a compare between mine and the bought one. The bought ones are far too long for me, but the fabric is two way stretch and mine isn't. If you try this with a two way, make is smaller - you could easily try it on once the elastic is on and pin the heel.




Friday, July 10, 2015

I actually made an actual dress!

Holy bobbins, Batman, I made a dress and I am blogging about it like a real sewing blogger!
How did this miracle come about? Well on Monday night I used the big tables at my sewing group space to cut out this dress:
When yesterday the weather was so nasty we had to cancel our trip 540km north to do a show, I used the bonus day to sew it up, happy in my sewjo. It's been forever since I made something not covered in sequins!

I like all the versions of this dress but of course I wanted to make a mash up - the long version but with the draped detail.

I did all kinds of daft things that come from not reading the instructions - like not allowing for the extra length caught up in the pleats, cutting the centre front skirt on the fold instead of cutting half of it. Both were easily fixed - the skirt was plenty long enough to trim and I just cut up the centre of the front and sewed it to the draped panel.
The pattern calls for a self lined bodice, but my fabric is so soft and drapey, I decided to put a band around the neckline like a t-shirt instead. With mitres for the three corners of the sweetheart.
So, do you want to see it?? Do ya?
 Note to Oona, low shots look great on gorgeous slim women, but not so much on us husky lasses ;-)
 Loving the draped pocket detail! The fabric is a mostly viscose knit with an almost brushed feel, making it punch above its weight in warmth. Do not be deceived by that sun - it is all show and no delivery! We'd be clocking about 8 degrees today.
 I made the sleeves a lot longer then added a 6cm band as well. It is darned cold here right now! Also, I am wearing a round-necked merino under it which is masking the sweetheart neckline.
 Looking for a Superhero from above maybe?
Back view.
I LOVE this pattern! Apart from the changes I made for my own amusement, I cut the size 28 and it was perfect.
All in all I am thrilled to have an elegant, warm winter dress that will be easy to look after. It's a little different with the drape detail, and it is a very useful pattern - I've already used the bodice bits to hack a bolero for Constance.
So, now my sewjo is back, what next? Well what you'll see next are a couple of unblogged projects. Chronology is not my forte ;-)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A past project uncovered.

You know you've been sewing a looong time when rediscovering evidence of early projects feels a bit "archaeological".
On Saturday morning, I was going through the Menswear Pattern Library* shirt patterns to source enough shirt front and pocket patterns to teach pattern matching. This is in my Mad Skills class where we just blast through about ten techniques in samples. Much to my surprise and delight, I found this:
This is the very first men's shirt pattern I ever used, to make three shirts for my friend Ian at church. It was 1980 and I was 15. How I know it was this pattern is the tracings on the pocket piece. The fabric was a leopard print jersey with very little stretch (thank goodness). The other two were white and midnight blue satin.
Oh the folly of youth, to take on making shirts out of knits and satins!
Anyway, the tracing was my first attempt to match a pattern for a pocket, and it was quite apt, given I was about to teach the technique that evolved from this attempt. (It was successful, but these days we save the pocket piece from being scribbled on)
But wait, there's more. I sent the photo above to Ian and he told me he still had the shirt! His lovely wife Shirley unearthed it and sent me this photo:
Great pattern matching eh, not bad for 15.
Ian was, is, pretty zany and fun, and this shirt suited him, both in colouring and in personality. Of course it's quite tame compared to the shirts I make for MrC, but 35 years ago it was pretty different!

*My shop has a collection of menswear patterns, many of them vintage, that anyone can borrow for a gold coin donation ($1-$2) which we then spend on more patterns. We do this as there are much fewer options for menswear patterns even with Thread Theory's excellent work in that area. Plus, I love the cut of many of the 1960s-1970s patterns; they are cut for a slim fit and many of our customers and students prefer this shape.