Friday, 27 November 2015

New ... Vintage ACME Mannequin

I have a new conversation piece in my sewing room.  She is beautiful.  A long time friend was reorganizing her home in preparation of a tiny human moving in and she offered me her mannequin.  Several of my friends own sewing machine but never use them, I always suspect because they own those horrible plastic sewing machines you can buy for under $150.  Horrible things that have turned thousands off sewing.  So I was imagining something cheap and ugly from those same horrible stores.  I dragged my feet.  Yes it would probably be helpful, yes I have room, yes it would make fitting easier etc etc.  

I should have known.  My friend is always pulled together and stunning, her house is beautiful and reflects her personality.  She refused to put in blinds or curtains into her newly bought house because she could not afford the ones she wanted, and the ones she could afford were deemed too ugly.  I should have known that if she bought it, it would be beautiful. 

She is "fully adjustable".  When I brought her home she was compact and petite, I have adjusted her to almost my measurements.  He bust is smaller and her hips are bigger.  She has some curves, and almost Victorian posture.  

Made of almost paper mache and covered in fabric she isn't really pin-able so I won't be doing any amazing draping on her like I have seen on Project Runway.  Label says she is made in NY USA, I wouldn't be comfortable guessing when she was made.

Comment with a rough date if you have a better idea to how old she is

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Do you prefer the indies, big 4 or other?

Over a late lunch I was reading a post Sew Country Chick wrote about PDF patterns and how much she hates them and it got me in such a tizzy I have decided to write post about a bigger question, Indie or Vogue, Mccalls and Butterick?

These are my opinions and they have been shaped by a few things.  Firstly I am opinionated and it can be hard to change an opinion after it has been formed. Secondly I grew up with a mother who sewed my whole life, I spent many afternoons as a child bent over sewing pattern books and some of my feeling about the big 4 I carry from childhood.

Vogue, Mccalls and Butterick
As a child I loved Vogue.  I had no idea about the difference between Vogue the magazine, Vogue the knitting magazine or the pattern company.  The word ment the fashionist of all the fashion.  When I left home and started sewing for myself when I was 20 I used almost exclusively vogue patterns.  As a beginner they were disappointing.  Drafted for a B cup and with way to much ease they just made me sad.  I quit them pretty soon.  Mccalls have always seemed a brand for mumsy clothes.  The most exciting thing that came out of Butterick are their Retro patterns, now it is Gertie's line.

Simplicity, New Look and Burda also need a mention.  At least in Australian stores there were the cheaper options that seemed less interesting.  Burda has always had a lot of promise but to my child eyes Burda the pattern company and magazine looked really, really German.  Maybe European is the better word.  When I watch project runway I feel like I understand Heidi's sensibilities better then most because of this.

Every Aussie 20 something needs a leopard coat and leather utility belt  
I live in a country where these pattern's are expensive.  Yes there are sales if you wait but it is usually one brand at a time and a bundle deal.  If I want one pattern I have to find 2 others from the same brand so I can get the 3 for 2 deal.  Ends up just as expensive.  My size fluctuates a lot, I have gone up and down and up again within a 20 kilo range in the last 5 years.  I will always trace patterns from these companies because I just know that if I cut, I will want to use that pattern again and I will need a different size.  No way am I buying it again.

I don't understand sewing people who sew exclusively from these companies, I just don't.  To expensive, to much work to make them fit, and while a lot of them are beautiful if you have a different style these companies don't have a lot of options for you.

I stole this pic from

The Indies
I discovered Burdastyle patterns after I gave up on Vogue.  Many moons ago those patterns were free.  And they fitted a lot better than Vogue.  Through that website I discovered the world of sewing blogs that opened up for me.  Even if no one reads my blog, I feels so much gratitude to those bloggers I found in my early sewing days, they really taught me everything and gave me a fire for this hobby.  Even if my real life friends never understand it I know lot's of other people out there do.  I fell really hard for Gertie, Peter and Erin.  I bought Gertie's and Erin's books.  I even bought Gertie's husband's book.  If we could convince Peter to publish anything I would probably buy that too.  Big fan of those three.

I tried to find older images that I found inspiring in the moment

I found Colette patterns just as she released her first line of patterns.  I bought most of them off the etsy shop she was using at the time before she developed her website into the professional behemoth it is today.

Now I won't hesitate trying out a new designer if their products are cheap enough and I can find a picture of someone else's make with that pattern.  And it is PDF patterns that allow me to do that.  I could easily spend $40 just for one pattern including postage from the US, and it will take up to a month to get here.  I can get a pattern today for less than $20.  That's amazing.  If I need it in a smaller/bigger size down the road I can just print it out again.

They don't have to serve the masses like the big companies, they can go niche so you are never restrained by what the "normals" are wearing.  But the great thing about the indie's is how much space they take up in the blogging community.  When something truly initiative and beautiful hits, like Colette's first line, or ByHandLondon, or the Bombshell swimsuit pattern it feel's like everyone if making it or talking about it, even if if the original vision of the brand was niche.

If PDF patterns had not become an accepted product these small independents would not have thrived as they have.

Saturday, 14 November 2015


Again apologies to the vegans.

My birthday is in November.  So is my Mother's and Gran's.  A family full of Scorpio's.  Anyway Friday my Mum and I dressed up to the nines and took each other out to high coffee.  Like high tea.  But with delicious coffee instead of gross tea.  I did try and wake up my BF and get photos of the dress.  Friday is his sleep in day and I didn't want to piss him off to much.  If this photo taking thing is too painful he will revolt.

We hit NSW leather Co on the way.  Surreal experience. Let me set the scene.  Friday afternoon, super trendy hipster suburb, two generations of women stumble in, with wide eyes, mouth open dressed in cocktail dresses and heels.  I sure they thought we were nuts.  Not super warm or welcoming.  I get it. I stole this photo from Waffleon.  I was not going to ask the staff if I could take a photo.

They price things in square foot.  WTF.  I don't want to get all metric vs imperial but my brain does not work in feet.  This did not help the staff's impression of me.  It seemed reasonably priced though.  I only looked at the single sheep leathers on the table pictured.  They were priced at $4 something a square foot.  It gets cheaper the more you buy.  They very much cater to local designers and manufacturing.  They have a scrap box priced at $2 a square foot.  Lets open the haul I got for $47.


They said this was a sheep skin.  It is very soft and thin.  I was looking for something to use as a detail on a jacket.  I wanted something that felt really nice but doesn't add bulk.  Jacket sewing AND sewing with leather.  Very intimidating. Cue sewing stress.  Wish me luck.

I wanted something to make next years school bag.  I have been using the Madrid I made this time last year.  It boosted my mood everyday at uni using a bag I made that didn't look super handmade.  No becky homecky here.  So I want to incorporate some leather into my next bag.  The colour is really nice, not sure if it comes through in this picture, and it feels substantial compared to the black. 

Some samples.  The most beautiful red cowhide and a super soft piece labelled as distressed fudge.  This made me laugh. 

cotton and viscose Italian fabric from Tessuti
silk kimono fabric from Kimono House
We also went to Tessuti and Kimono House.  Tessuti the store is very intimidating.  I have been there several times before but I still get the heebeegeebees there.  I have never been to Kimono house before, it look's like it caters to quilters more than people who sew clothes.  The lady was really nice though.  It was a breath of fresh air after the misunderstanding's at NSW leather and the Prue & Trude skit at Tessuti.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Faking Breton

I am finished uni for 2015.  My placement which should have me busy and stressed until the start of December was cancelled due to lack of spots.  I am relieved but feel lost.  I am once again working nights and scrambling for something to do the rest of the time.  My sewing mojo is very confused due to being contained for so long I guess. Melbourne is coming into Summer but I can't stop thinking about outwear and wool and leather. Leather!.  My apologies to all the vegans out there.  I found a lead on a leather distributor, hoping to check it out tomorrow.  I have been sewing random bits and pieces.  A lot of underwear.  I made 7 pairs in two days.  Very boring.  But sometimes a girl just needs to fill out holes in her wardrobe.
Telling my BF to get down real low to make me look taller.  Stubborn that one.
I made this top weeks and weeks ago.  I dug out these photos from August to put them up here.  Another Salme Kimono top.  I got the fabric from Darn Cheap at some point.  Found it on the $2 table.  A really soft cotton feeling fabric with more mechanical stretch than usual.  I cut it using the selvage as the hem because there is a single strand of red along it.  Couldn't make myself cut it off.

Bad sewing person.  It doesn't have much structure in the hem, obviously, so it's kindof floppy. Stupid sewing person.

I was very pleased with my exposed bias binding.  I add a solution I found in spotlight called Stiffy (! always makes me smile) to a length of fabric that I then cut up into bias binding.  That's a technique that I have hodge podged over a couple of years, reading American how-to's, but being restrained by Australian products.  
Puss come to be centre of attention again.
I will get back to you about the leather!