handmade green pencil skirt aldi wool top wittner tan maryjane heels

What a year so far! I’m sort of on the road to recovery after a very long and very boring hiatus from sewing.

I wish I could say that there was a good reason that I stopped sewing for all those months, but they’re all the lame, trite excuses of a seasoned procrastinator. Truth is, I had a bit of a sewing block, and watching Netflix in bed with my bebs until the wee hours of the morning seemed way more appealing than dragging out the ol’ sewing machine so I could sit for a few hours in the freezing cold, cramped sewing room. Now that the weather is heating up, so is my sewing machine! The fact that I now have a giant sewing desk in my room somewhat helps too. I have a million vintage patterns, it’s time to get started on them.

Last night, I sewed on the sleeves on my WIP McCall’s 2329 project, which was exciting. AND it now buttons up at the back. Just need to whip up that skirt and I’ll have another me-made dress for the blog! I’m trying to phase my wardrobe into more handmade items, but gosh the lure of AliExpress and eBay is mighty tempting. Especially since AliExpress is having another mega-sale tonight. There goes all my money, oh well.

handmade green pencil skirt aldi wool top wittner tan maryjane heels

You’ve already seen this skirt but I wanted to show it off again, because my new resolution is to make lots of these. They’re comfortable, work-appropriate, versatile, and made-for-me-sized, so no gappy waists and saggy hips. Albeit the hips are slightly tight on this one (or has my butt gotten bigger? Again?). Nevermind, the next one will be better.

How good are these heels? I bought them from a jumble sale because they were barely-worn Wittner heels and my size to boot (ha, not my best shoe-related pun) but they were a kind of weird pale yellow brown sort of colour. A bit of tan shoe polish and some time later, hey presto! Perfect shoes to coordinate with my favorite tan belt.

handmade green pencil skirt aldi wool top

What I’m wearing:

  • Bronze Amber Elephant Necklace – Mum’s, vintage
  • Navy wool top – Aldi (gift from mum but I think it was $25?)
  • Tan Belt – ASOS, free with a dress
  • Green Pencil Skirt – DIY, $1.80
  • Wittner “Jordy” Tan Cutout MaryJane Heels – Jumble Sale, $8

handmade green pencil skirt aldi wool top wittner tan maryjane heels

Straight Lines

I tried to think of some kind of poem about my new skirt that rhymed with the ever-so-popular song of 2013 Blurred Lines, but then I decided that I was a raging feminist who wasn’t going to support that nonsense thank-you-very-much, so that’s why you’re going to have to settle for a post rife with various different squeals about how much I love my new skirt. If you could imagine the following in different pitches all the way through, that would add to the drama I think, so thanks in advance.

Ta-dah! I was flipping through some dresses that I had pinned to my vintage inspiration board on Pinterest and came across a gorgeous little number by Lana Lobell. The popular candy swirl dresses that people sew for children had always caught my eye every time I saw another one, but I hate how piece-y and home-made most of them look (seriously, those bizarre fabric choices) and I’m not a fan of circle skirts in general, so I had to think of another plan of attack.

This skirt is self-drafted, and it took quite a while to create the pattern myself. So many angles. So much trigonometry. I tell everyone how much I hate math but then when I self-draft my own things, I invariably end up doing a lot of math. However, my pattern didn’t even come to fruition because the fruitcake at the store I bought this fabric from (that was a nice way of putting it, actually, I was rightly bitching about her all day as my photographer will attest) sold me 106cm wide fabric instead of the 110cm she claimed it was. All the spools of fabric were listed in inches and instead of using a calculator like a smart person, I just asked a staff member. Good job, Demi.

Anyways, that threw all my calculations out and I had to slash open the skirt for a zip. This skirt was a nightmare, but so worth it. I wanted to make a dress like this but wasn’t sure how it would work so I’m glad I made this test run. It’s not 100% perfect, because of all the various different techniques I tried to avoid slashing into the skirt (elastic waistbands look terrible on me, I’ve decided), but it’s good enough to wear to the shops, so I’m generally happy with it.

Gotta have that self-covered button.

Anyone interested in the pattern/tutorial for when I make the dress? I’m planning on sewing a full candy striper dress soon using this pattern! (We’ll see how that one goes, and this time I’m not asking the staff at the fabric store anything.)

Pink Striped Blouse Mashup

Who says you need a pattern to make something cool? I am a big fan of Patterns by Gertie but not a fan of wasteful pattern purchases. So with a heavy heart, I left the simplistic Butterick 6094 on the shelf for another seamstress and vowed to attempt a fold-back detail on a garment of clothing sometime in the near future. Turns out it ain’t that hard!

Meet my newest wearable muslin! I found this fabric in the remnants bin at Spotlight and it hurt my eyes so badly just looking at it that I decided I simply had to have it.

I didn’t want to complicate the project too much, so I forwent some darts and made it a pull-on blouse instead. Screw zip-up blouses, seriously.

The shoulders and neckline was inspired from Vogue 8789 (I’m a sucker for buttons). I wanted to try out a variety of different techniques for my mockup, so it features all of my favorite styles and techniques–Pattern matching, excessive buttons, bows, and open backs.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and will definitely not shy away from sewing a back like this in the future! Tutorial, anyone?

My First Dress!

I am unbelievably proud of this one! I only started sewing seriously last year and I’ve been putting off dresses for the longest time, worrying that it would be too hard to tackle as a beginner.

Turns out, dresses aren’t as hard as I thought! They’re like a skirt and.. (not being able to compare to a top, because I’ve never made a top before) a skirt joined together! Or something.

I bought this fabric last year at some point, intending to make another gathered skirt from it. (Skirts are easy and don’t lift me out of my comfort zone very far.) Unfortunately, after deliberating on my fabric choice (and you can bet I do a lot of deliberating when I’m starting a project), I decided that the teapots wouldn’t stand out enough in a simple gathered skirt–it just wouldn’t do the print justice! But as it turns out, the pattern is exactly large enough for 6 teapots to fit around my hips. That’s what made me the most excited–the prospect of matching up my patterns on the skirt!

It’s not 100% perfect, but from a distance, the sides are practically seamless and I’m utterly thrilled!

For the dress, I used a vintage reproduction pattern from Butterick–B5747, and went for the pencil skirt instead of the a-line version. The model on the website really doesn’t do the pattern justice; I’ve seen some other bloggers do some fantastic work with this pattern, but I hadn’t seen a pencil skirt version out there, so I’m pretty pleased with how everything turned out.

To review the pattern a little bit, the instructions were pretty straight-forward, although some mention that the part about sewing on the waistband was kind of ambiguous. Truthfully, I skipped their instructions on the waistband and sewed it on the way I knew was easiest for me. Everything inside the dress is finished with bias binding (I can’t get enough of the stuff), and the bottom hemline has been sewn down with clear thread instead of an invisible stitch. Ain’t nobody got time for invisible stitches.

I bought about two metres of the teapot-printed linen for around $20 from the upholstery section at Spotlight (I think it’s fabric meant for tablecloths or curtains or something) and stiff, white bridal satin from a local gem called Trad’s Liquidation Store for a couple of dollars! The button kit is the 27mm variety from Daiso Japan covered with scraps from the bridal satin. I still haven’t decided whether I’m going to add teapot patch pockets to the dress lined in the satin, but after several days working on this dress, I think I’m done for the month!

My verdict? Definitely a pattern I’ll use again and again. Next time, I plan to turn the neckline into a sailor collar and sew up a flared skirt. I’ve only ever sewn flared skirts from self-drafted patterns, so I want to see what it’s like to follow someone else’s guidelines for a change!

Retro Apple-Printed Play Suit

“Coordinated set” didn’t sound very good, so I decided to call this cheery 50’s ensemble a play suit. Note that I didn’t call it the singular word “playsuit”, similar to how a playsuit is a singular item of clothing. No, this thing is decidedly a two-piece, two-word outfit.

With those semantics out of the way, how freaking cute is this fabric?

I have this chronic problem where I find really cute fabric on special, buy a little bit for a little project that I haven’t yet decided on, and then when the fabric sells out, I decide I want to use it on a project that requires just a little more fabric than I bought. This happens more often than you would think. (Hello, gorgeous mint teapot linen that I had to buy for again a few months ago!)

Needless to say, with each pattern piece needing to fit precisely on my 1.2×1 metre piece of fabric, cutting was a nightmare. I figured the worst I could do was waste $6 worth of fabric, so I laid everything out carefully and gave it my best shot anyway.

This was the project that I had worked on over my little holiday down in Sydney with Annika from The Pineneedle Collective, and I was super exited to get buddied up and do some sewing! I used my retro blue and red apple-printed cotton and she used a cool vintage bed sheet with cars all over it.

I had cleverly left my sewing machine back in the hotel room (doesn’t everyone get the urge to do a bit of midnight sewing in your room on your holiday in a strange city?), but Annika kindly loaned me her’s and we were on our way!

I tell you what, for her first time following directions from a pattern, Annika was doing an amazing job. For our play suits, we used two patterns–The shorts from Style 3251 and the bra tops from Simplicity 1426. Annika was doing view C while I did view A (because of certain fabric restrictions, ha). Seeing how brilliantly her top turned out, however, has made me long for a dress with a similar-shaped bust! But that’s another post for another day.

By the end of the day, Annika had proved herself a glittering seamstress prodigy while I was decidedly more.. frustrated with my progress.

Grumpy Demi

I had to finish this project at home, but I’m so glad I finished it at all! Annika loaned me the use of her horrendously loud overlocker (all three of us practically jumped out of our seats every time it started up), but I only had use of it for the top–The inside of the shorts I finished off with bias tape, which I henceforth decided to use for all projects ever after. (Seriously, they look couture or something from the inside.)

Ta-dah! Even though it was raining at the time, I was desperate for photos so I stepped out into the chilly air and Rob captured a few shots of the final outfit for me.

I made a Pepsi button for fun. It makes me giggle every time I look at it. Ahhh, Pepsi.

And despite Daiso Japan not stocking smaller button kits EVER, I managed to pick up a refill set and hand-punch these babies, using a lot of brute strength and banging with the end of my craft scissors on the floor. I think the results were well-worth the effort, but the dents on the floor probably disagree with me.

What do you think? This is more of a beachy outfit for myself, as bare midriffs are not really something that I sport on a daily basis, but it was still a highly enjoyable project nonetheless. Or at least the results are enjoyable. (The actual project was an ill-measured pain in the petunia.)