Tuesday, 11 February 2014

A Liberty package to lift the spirits

From bottom to top: Strawberry Thief, Isabel Susan and Jess and Jean

In a moment of madness a couple of weeks ago I placed an order with Shaukat for some new Liberty tana lawn… and it arrived last night. Yippee. I don’t have to explain the childish joy of opening a parcel – I had that childish indecision: to rip the package open, spilling the contents haphazardly on the floor, or to delicately open the package to reveal the beauty within. I went with a controlled ripping option! As long as there was no scissors involved, what harm could a few crinkles be? The fabric would need pre-washing and ironing anyway! J
So here’s what I bought. I stuck with 1.5m of each as I knew that I had recently sewn a Papercut Sigma dress out of 1.3m, so even if I was to sew a longer sleeved dress, or a long sleeved blouse, 1.5m should (realistically) do. And if not, I will be wiser with the next order. I justified the purchase as the Liberty tana lawn was only £14/m which when converted to AUD is approximately $25… half the price of the same fabric at my local fabric store. So, even with the cost of postage, it was definitely worth it. And if I was going to post 1.5m of fabric, I might as well get my money worth and purchase 4.5m for the same postage cost. Check out that justification!
Now, if you were my accountant, you would say something along the lines of ‘but did you really NEED 4.5m of fabric?’ or you would state something like ‘it is only cost effective buying more of a product if you actually require it’. Wise words. I will take that into consideration when Coles makes me buy 2 boxes of cereal when really I only need 1, or when I am forced to buy 2 chocolate bars even though my stomach only really wants 1 (why is it that I can buy 2 chocolate bars for $2, or 1 for $1.80? Coles, it is YOUR fault Australia is getting fat). But, when it comes to fabric, these wise words are nothing but gibberish! The more fabric, the bigger my smile… and I will make something with it eventually… I promise. Besides, fabric doesn’t have a used by date.
Anyway, back to my actual purchases:
Strawberry Thief
This is one of liberty’s classic prints, originally designed by William Morris in 1883 and reproduced by Liberty in 1979, first as a furnishing fabric, and then on tana lawn. I intend to make a dress out of this one. Possibly a Deer and Doe Belladone, or possibly a ¾ sleeved Sigma.
Isabel Susan
This fabric design references 1900 style and the Arts and Crafts movement. It was designed to represent the 4th floor of the Liberty department store, the interior decoration area. I'm not sure about this fabric - it would make a lovely blouse, or a summer dress. It's a little more on the lilac side than I had hoped. I'll have to leave it in my stock pile until I come across the perfect pattern for it.
Jess and Jean
This fabric design pays homage to Beauty Hall, which is located on the ground floor of the Liberty department store. It is based on an archival furnishing design and was drawn using make-up by Nars, Shu Uemura and Laura Mercier. I hope this will become a Tilly and the Buttons Matilde blouse.

I can’t wait to share with you the final makes for each. Oh, and here’s a little sneak preview of what is currently on my sewing table: a self-drafted Peter Pan collar. Hmm, let’s hope I can pull this next project off.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Gertie, Gertie, Gertie

I have finally finished Gertie’s bow-tied top, but let me tell you that I don’t think I will be sewing this one again. Or at least I need a fair bit of time to get over the sheer frustration I experienced over the past week before I contemplate sewing another. There were expletives. There were tantrums. And there was one point where I wanted to stab myself with my dressmaking shears, or poke my eyes out with my beautiful glass-head pins. Why so bad? Let me explain.
First of all, let me say that I love Gertie: I love her style, I love her book, I love her blog. I am in awe of seamstresses out there that design, have become published and are living their dream. If only I could be as talented! But, and this is a huge but, the instructions for this pattern are hard to follow. Now, yes, I admit that this is probably not entirely Gertie’s fault - when one condenses a dozen sewing patterns into a book, the instructions are going to be relatively brief – but damnit, it took me ages to work out what the hell each instruction meant. Granted there were a page of pictures (of minute proportions – the size of a postage stamp) that went with each step, but really, I think I was better off without the pictures as they didn’t help one little bit.

Close up - pretty polka dot Japanese cotton

Another problem I had is that I am petite. I know from other pattern designers that they work on an average dress size of a 10-12 and then either down-size or up-size which sometimes results in a not-so-great fit for us petite things…. But some of my pieces just didn’t line up. The dart lines didn’t line up (almost like there was a problem at the printer?), there were odd curves on some of the pattern pieces that were within the seam allowance (hence would just be cut off), and I thought it was particularly odd that there wasn’t enough room beneath the back darts to hem the bottom without hemming part of the dart. The collar also didn’t fit onto the neck-line – I figured this one out: because of the 5/8” seam allowance, it meant that the length of the collar should equal the length of the neck-line 5/8” in and not the curved edge (probably an inch difference). To combat this, I either notched the curve before sewing or cut off some of the seam allowance – I ended up shaving off ¼” on both pieces so that I could ease the collar on. All in all, frustration to the MAX.

Weird curved lines on the back facing within the seam allowance

Anyway, enough of my bitch. This top is finished (thank goodness) and I can actually fit into it (it looked teeny tiny when in construction), although the collar is slightly constrictive. The top is way too short to actually tuck in unless I was wearing a high-waisted skirt but I think it looks OK out. The bow tie didn’t get ‘tied’ as such as I found it didn’t sit right, and my choice of buttons may have been a mistake as they dig into my back when I lean back in my office chair. Bitching aside, I do like the end result, and I did wear it to work, but I am not sure if this will be in high rotation. Maybe I’ll revisit this top in a Liberty once my frustration levels have dropped. I need to make something I know will work next as I am feeling somewhat deflated.
Oh, and thanks to Penny, who took these pics during our lunch break and added a bit of 'culture' to my photo shoot.