Thursday, 23 August 2012

garden party

A dress for a Summer FĂȘte (or maybe to harvest I'm doing here...)
Originally I had planned orange horizontal stripes on the skirt, but I dropped them in favour of the navy grosgrain belt. 
I couldn't let go of the orange stripe completely, so I incorporated a flirty orange hem on the inside of the skirt - just enough to peak out as I walk, but not an obvious stripe.  It also saved me an extra centimetre in length, since I cut the skirt shorter than intended.  (Also a handy trick for when the main fabric is in short supply.)
The grosgrain ribbon belt is a tie from an old pair of shorts.  I cut off the leather ends and added a hook and eye closure.
These three pleats on each hip are in place of gathers.  I like the effect, the skirt is very light and the pleats unfold ever so slightly with the wind as you walk.

Now to find the party...!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


"...brightly colored silks now ran through the streets of Paris like water - Persian blues and greens, startling oranges and golds.  Inspired by the orientalism of the Ballet Russes, Paul Poiret dressed women in culotte harem pants and fringed turbans, and ropes and ropes of pearls.  In sharp contrast, Chanel was also beginning to make her mark, and you saw splashes of sharp, geometric black amid all that color.  More and more, chic meant a shingle-bob and deeply lacquered nails and impossibly long ivory cigarette holders."
- from The Paris Wife: A Novel, by Paula McLain
I thought I'd share a recent source of inspiration - this passage from a very engrossing book I'm reading about Ernest and Hadley Hemingway's marriage, written by Paula McLain.  In hope you enjoy this fashion dip into Paris in the 1920s!

I'll be posting about a dress I made soon - miles away from jazz age Paris style.  But in the meantime I'm off to find the perfect "deeply lacquered" nail polish...

Friday, 10 August 2012

Simplicity 2443, Encore!

I finally tried my hand at this Cynthia Rowley which I've had in my pattern collection for a couple of years now but haven't had the chance to sew. 

I realise this dress has been sewed and blogged many times over -- I did a quick Google search and up popped about a hundred lovely and creative versions -- too many to list here but evidence, I think, that the pattern itself is a winner.

The only change I made was leaving out the side zipper, partly for comfort, partly due to laziness.  The result is a dress that's slightly wider in the waist but can easily be slipped on. 
The stripes on this jersey didn't make the job any easier -- I think I sewed the bodice to the band with my eyes closed in fear -- but (magically!) the stripes lined up and I left my seam ripper in my sewing box.
I'll definitely sew this one again, maybe with an ankle length skirt and omitting the gathers at the waist. 

Wednesday, 1 August 2012


I'm spending some long summer days at home and found a few of my mom's Burda magazines from the 1980s, tucked away in a cupboard.  This 1984 copy has my mark on it from many moons ago -- that's my artistic work below on the left. I must have been practicing how to put on lipstick! Not sure what the black smudge on the ear is supposed to be, but anyway...
  I found this simple pattern for a dartless top with a slash-back, that was the kind of simple summer sewing project I was craving.  The pattern itself is just a shapeless square.  The back is cut in two to create the peak-a-boo feature.  I assembled it over a couple of glasses of wine, using my leftover fabric from the gathered dart skirt, and wore it out that evening.  It was the perfect kind of no-fuss sewing project for when you would rather be outdoors.
You could replicate this on any top or dress pattern.  Just slash across the back, sew in from the sides, say 10 cm, and topstitch down the seams.
I noticed a lot of the belts featured in the 1984 Burda (below) look like the kind I've been seeing for Autumn 2012. Maybe it's time to revisit some of these forgotten 1980s details? 
 Until then, I'm off for a Pina Colada. Happy Summer everyone!