Thursday, December 29, 2011

Finished Project: Patternless Boho Maxi Dress - and when I went shirring

Fabric: A tribal print voile from Spotlight
Cost: 2m @ $5 per metre (on sale) plus some shirring elastic
Pattern: None

I have seen a few people getting around in soft, flowy maxi dresses like this one and it made me think of walking on the beach in Thailand with a cocktail.

I wanted to have a go at shirring and this looked like a good opportunity. I bought a wide voile and before I sewed it up I shirred the top and the middle. Very, very easy. Once I had finished the shirring, I sewed up the centre back seam which is the only seam. As I had used the whole width of the fabric I didn't finish the seams but just left the selvedge intact.

The only extra piece is the band over the bodice which I sewed wrong side to right side of the bodice so when I folded it over the right side was showing. I top stitched the two layers together to stop it rolling in or out.

I'm a size 12 and this has lots of room in it so I would imagine a 150cm wide fabric would do a 12-16. Smaller sizes could get away with a 112cm wide fabric. The shirring reduces it by about half but the elastic has a lot of give so it is almost one size fits all.

Shirring is very easy. You just buy some shirring elastic - mine was $2 from Spotlight - and wind it by hand onto your bobbin. Use regular thread in the machine. Everything then is as usual. You just sew parallel lines until you have an area that suits your purpose. I did four lines for the top and four for the middle.


  • Play around with a scrap to adjust your tension and stitch length. I just used a slighter wider stitch length, about 2.5 whereas I would usually use about 1.5-2. Each machine will probably be different. 
  • Sew on the right side so your regular cotton is on the outside and the elastic on the inside.
  • Line up your presser foot with the edge of your fabric for the first line of shirring and then line up your presser foot with the previous line of sewing.
  • Don't pull the fabric through the machine just use your hands to keep the fabric flat - you may need to pull gently from the front to keep the elastic flat.
  • To secure the beginning and end of each line just reverse a stitch or two as usual or you can tie it off.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Burdastyle 12/2011

Have you seen previews of the new Burdastyle magazine? I must confess I stopped buying the magazine because the patterns and styling got a bit ridiculous and I couldn't trace off the patterns -- too many lines going everywhere. But I have seen some of the garments for this months magazine and I think I'll go out and buy it! I still won't trace off the patterns though. They have them available online to download and I've had success doing it that way, and they are reasonably priced.

I'm not crazy about the leather shorts but I really like these patterns!

Long jacket

Wool pants!

Pique suit

Dress with contrasting bow

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Finished Project: Burdastyle A-line skirt with patch pockets 10/2011

I finished my first Burdastyle pattern - this A-line skirt. (Sorry, no pices yet!) I love the 70s vibe with the big patch pockets and the top-stitching. I made it with a reddish/orange drill that I picked up from Spotlight's clearance table for $3/m. It's quite a heavy fabric so I didn't line it. I pinked all the seams which is the first time I've tried that. We'll see how it wears!

This should have been a really quick skirt to sew but I struck a problem with the zipper. It called for an invisible zipper to be sewn into the side seam. I don't have an invisible zipper foot but tried with my regular zipper foot which was a massive fail. I then tried put a regular zipper in and it was also a fail. FOUR attempts at putting in the zipper and I decided that sewing a zipper into a seam that has a two-layered pocket is ridiculous! By this stage I had already cut out the skirt and sewn it up. I decided to cut my losses with the side seam and I just sewed it close. Then I followed Casey's (Elegant Musings) great tutorial for putting a zipper in when there's no seam and I put the zipper down the back! I was so pleased with the results!

This is the first time I've finished a Burdastyle garment. The first one I lost a lot of weight while I was halfway through and abandoned it and the second one was supposed to be a maternity dress but I chose the fabric from hell and it was thrown in the bin! I didn't mind printing and sticking it together. The cutting instructions were vague. There were no sizes on the pattern pieces. Also it didn't tell you how many of each piece to cut on the actual pattern pieces. It does say in Step 2 but I didn't see that and only cut 2x pocket pieces and one of each waistband piece. It also only says to interface the outer waistband in the Cutting instructions but not in the construction step. So, you kind of need to know what the basic steps to putting a skirt together are.

I'd like to make this in a wool fabric for Winter. A bit like this Milly Wool Tweed Skirt.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Giving and a few selfish wishes

Time has not yet run out for me to make some Christmas gifts but the sand sure is running fast through that hourglass. I really want to make some gifts for my nieces and nephews but TIME, ugh. Where does it go?

Surely though I will be able to achieve some Lazy Days skirts.

And for my teenage nieces a make-up purse each.

We don't do a lot of presents for adults in our families which I think is good. It's much nicer to see the excitement on the children's faces as they unwrap their gifts. And as adults, I think we need to be setting an example of giving rather than receiving. I think Christmastime is a great time to get involved in charities like Samaritan's purse - Miss Six and I had a great time choosing gifts for a shoebox. Miss Six chose the age bracket of 10-14 yrs, I think because it meant she could choose gifts I usually say are not 'appropriate' for her. But I also found out that this age group is the one that has the least boxes given so it felt good to be meeting a need.

For my siblings, we are giving something to eat and/or drink - because we all drink and eat so there's no danger of giving a gift that won't be used! And we are also giving a charity gift from either Samaritan's purse, Compassion or TEAR. We're going to do a lucky dip to see what our gift is and where from.

But in amongst all my charitable sentiments I have some secret hopes for some little gifts for myself. And not surprisingly, they are sewing related. I'm hoping one of the following books will make their way to me:

Colette Sewing Handbook

The Burdastyle Sewing Handbook

Oliver + S Little Things to Sew

And maybe, just maybe, a gift voucher for Tessuti...