Sunday, December 4, 2016

Travel Clothes

In the weeks before going overseas in late September, apart from my new bikini pants I only found time to make a t-shirt and a dolman-sleeved jumper.  Both were intended to round out my travel wardrobe (wow, that sounds pretentious!) - and neither are very exciting garments, but they worked well for travel and if I post them I can share some travel pics, so...

The t-shirt was very simple to make: I just traced around a RTW top with curved shoulder seams, rotated the shoulder seams to the back and added darts to the shoulders to recreate the curve that was lost when I rotated the shoulder seam. The new "shoulder" seam starts about an inch below the shoulder at the neckline, and ends at the curve of the underarm.

I know that the seams don't show up very well in photos, but I like knowing that the top is a little different to your average t-shirt, and the yellow fitted in with my red, white and blue travel wardrobe really well :). The skirt is this one I made late last year as part of a set.

The front of the top is super plain - just a basic neck band, and cut on sleeves with the curved shoulder seam - I didn't photograph the shoulder darts, but they're like the ones in this orange top I made for winter.

The fabric I used was good-as-new, but taken from the skirt of this dress I made a few years ago.  I loved the colour but only wore the dress rarely because the elastic waist felt uncomfortable and the wrap top crossed too low on me, necessitating a slip. It's a viscose jersey from Tessuti fabrics, and since it was bought a few years ago I don't know that they'd still carry it.

We snapped these photos in the Vendicari Nature Reserve after a morning spent exploring Noto and before just relaxing on the beach and swimming. It's such an amazing spot!

Here are a couple of photos taken in the old tuna factory (the "tonnara") - a t-shirt is never really going to be the focus in a place like this:

If you're ever in Sicily and want a break from bustling about being a tourist, this park is the place I would recommend.  It's a terrific, quiet place for long, easy walks, bird watching (like flamingos, in the next photo), spectacular views and swimming in the sea - just BYO picnic and relax.

I really want to show you some more photos of the park before showing you my new jumper - just looking at these pictures makes me feel relaxed:

So, as I said above, not very exciting but the sort of summery top that goes with everything AND covers your shoulders (in case you pop into a church).

The other garment I made was a dolman-sleeved jumper, specifically intended to fit over this white linen top as well as my many other tops and dresses with dolman and kimono sleeves, which I don't wear as often as I should because nothing fits over them.

I expected Italy to be quite warm in the daytime, but wanted a basic light jumper that I could throw on over anything in the evenings and early mornings.  If you've flicked over to that white linen top post you'll see I used exactly the same pattern for the jumper as for the top, namely Vogue 8877.  The fabric is a merino wool from The Fabric Store.

While making it, I thought it was terribly boring - dull blue colour, simple pattern - but this jumper has filled wardrobe gap very nicely indeed, and quickly become a wardrobe mainstay. Not only does it fit on top of everything, but it also goes with everything.

These photos were taken in the rambling gardens of the converted stables we stayed in just outside of Florence.  I hadn't found the iron at this point, so please excuse the rumples.

There's not a great deal more to say about this jumper - it was worn pretty much any time there was a chill in the air, and took preference over a fancier RTW jumper I'd brought with me simply because it was so comfortable and cosy.  It even did double duty as an oversized popover dress for my daughter a couple of times when she got cold!

A bit more self-indulgence now - more photos of the inviting Florentine gardens! These gardens included an olive grove, a prettily set out floral area, sunny fields, herbs, fruit and vegetables, as well as several relaxing spots to sit with a book:

That's it for my travel photos - next up I've got a couple of Vogue dresses to share with you; one from my birthday and one from Melbourne Frocktails.

Happy sewing!

- Gabrielle x

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Vampire Bat

I never got around to blogging the costumes I made last year, and with Halloween almost upon us again it seems like the perfect time to catch up.

Last Halloween my daughter wanted to be a vampire bat, as you do...

Here she is, pointing backwards at a rose bush (yes, awkward pose but I didn't manage to get many photos before she and her friends were off door knocking):

This costume was heavily improvised.  There was a costume online that my daughter wanted, but it was (a) expensive, (b) trashy and (c) too warm for our climate. Oh and it was shipping from America, so probably wouldn't have got to us in time.

So we discussed the key elements (stretchy black dress, silky wings, furry hood with ears, holey stockings) and I sketched out the costume to check we were on the same page (yes!), then whipped up a very quick long-sleeved t-shirt dress using a t-shirt pattern that I knew fit well, Burda 9439:

This is a short-sleeved t-shirt pattern, but with a couple of length measurements it's very easily turned into a long-sleeved t-shirt dress.  Anyway, the fit was good, but the grey/black jersey I'd used looked vaguely trendy instead of spooky, so we called version 1 a new dress... and dug out a second piece of stash fabric, a remnant of black jersey (not quite enough for the dress, hence the seam at hip level).

This time around I paused after sewing the shoulder seam and attaching the sleeves (in the flat) so I could make some wings to sew into the side seams of the dress.  The only fabric I could find in my stash that looked and felt right for wings was a length of beautiful silk jersey I'd picked up a Tessuti remnant sale a long time ago.  In the interests of reusability (I want that fabric back one day!!) I decided to simply cut it in half, so that each wing is simply a long rectangle, long enough to stretch from skirt hemline to wrist.

I hope the next photo explains that a bit better:

Not hemmed, not ironed but perfectly acceptable for a kid's costume!

This "design" means there is a lot of scope for arm movement and bat-like fluttering - and my daughter can extend her arms above her head without the wings moving the dress up. The luscious wing fabric makes the costume very popular, and the outfit has had a lot of wears over the past year. It went to a Halloween disco on Friday night and is going out again on Monday evening, and now fits a lot better than it did last year, so I guess it's been a successful costume...

Oh I nearly forgot - the hood! I actually love the hood, because it reminds me of the movie version of Where the Wild Things Are - I kind of want a giant furry hoodie for myself :).

For this part of the outfit I started with Butterick 6695, a little kids animal onesie pattern I used years ago for my son (not blogged). I didn't want the hood to come all the way around the neck the way the hood in the animal onesie does, so I studied a couple of Simplicity costumes (5512 and 5840) to confirm the shape for a simpler hoodie.


And none of the standard ear shapes on Butterick 6695 looked particularly bat like, so I drew up my own ear pattern: a smaller inner piece with a fold in the middle, and a larger enfolding outer piece (much easier to do than that probably sounds). Here's the hood in close-up - the ear details get lost in all that fur though:

You can probably see in the above that the fur is just on the outside of the hood - the "lining" is matt black technical fabric left over from a dress I made ages ago. (The fake fur is left over from a mouse costume made for my son when he was in childcare). The hood "lining" is sewn to the neckline of the dress because I thought the weight of the fake fur and ears would make the outer fake fur hang fall nicely over the neckline, but in fact it all tends to tip forwards. Which is not a problem, because it's comfortable on, and my daughter loves it.

Here's a back view of the hood taken last year - this year I'm afraid the fake fur is tipped further forward as it accounts for a bit more growth...

And since I was sewing a costume and playing around with all the black remnants, my son got a "test" hoodie to wear with his costume cape and staff.  This one is a very simple pointy hood, and my recollection is that I made it just by sewing up 2 adjoining sides of a rectangle, then sewing a deep hem around the face.  

This year the vampire bat is being resurrected, but my son is going to be a dead person, complete with fake knife wound - very gory but no sewing is required. 

I'll leave you with one more photo of the vampire bat's fluttering wings:

 And will try to be back soon with more sewing!

See you soon

- Gabrielle xx

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