Monday, 23 March 2015

Named Wenona Shirt Dress

I had been saving this bold, orange, polka dot print for something special. Then as time went by, just for something suitable! This lovely Indian cotton, bought for $20 from a designer sale, was looking more and more like it was only suited for a clown outfit. Then, after I made my Wenona shirt, I decided it would be perfect for the Named Wenona shirt dress. To break up the print, I used some orange linen from my stash.

I finished this last December and, despite its obvious resemblance to a circus entertainer's outfit, it has grown on me to the point where I actually really like it now. I have even worn it out in public - once (sans red nose of course)!

However, while I was making it I went through a bit of an 'I will never wear this' crisis. I experimented with two different dyes on scraps of fabric to try to quieten the deafening orange. The orange linen and polka dot cotton scraps below were dyed with deep blue (left) and black (right). You will notice that the orange spots have stubbornly refused to back down. Eventually I emailed a trusted sewing friend for assistance. This wise and stylish lady said she liked the playful retro and summery look of the dress. She suggested that I wear it unaltered for a day to see how I felt in it, then perhaps shorten the sleeves or dye it if I thought that would help. This turned out to be excellent advice. As a compromise I shortened my hair, rolled up the sleeves, wore it for a day and suddenly the dress felt OK! I'm leaving it as it is...for now.

The shirtdress pattern has a seam at the waist for shaping, so looks better with a belt.

Named Wenona shirt dress
I like this pattern a lot. It goes together easily and looks very stylish. The hardest part for me was getting the the collar stand perfectly neat and symmetrical inside and outside, but the instructions do help with that. Sewing the rest was straightforward and enjoyable.

The stripe down the shoulder and sleeve is one of my favourite things about this pattern.

The button at the back of the pointed collar is my other favourite. I used irregularly shaped, black buttons with a white circle on them.

I made my usual size 40 in this pattern, but had to take the dress in quite a bit at the sides. Otherwise I didn't make any changes.

I've been on a bit of a Wenona bender actually. My, notoriously hard-to-please, sister requested a beach cover-up for Christmas. It had to be a sheer, white cotton shirt that was tunic length. I made her a Wenona in white cotton voile with embroidered cotton sleeve panels. I used the shirt pattern and lengthened it, rather than making the shirt dress. I added a casing and drawstring at the back to gather it in as desired.

The verdict: she liked it!!! Here she is wearing it on a recent beach holiday:

I love this pattern and have recently made another version, this time sleeveless. I'll save it for another post, this one is long enough already.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Biker-style jeans a la Balmain


When I spotted this khaki stretch cotton in Textile Traders last week I knew exactly what I was going to make. Grungy, biker-style jeans, that's what. My inspiration was these jeans by Balmain, recently selling for US$695 at The Store. I bought 1.5m of fabric for $18 and a zip for $3. That's more like it!

Pierre Balmain Military Green Coated Biker Jeans: Source

The features I wanted in my jeans were the front seams, quilted hip panels and partly quilted back pockets. The Jamie Jeans pattern by Named Clothing was a perfect starting point as it has the front seams and two-piece back pockets. I just needed to draw up a diagonal panel for the front quilting.

So, while my fabric was sloshing away in the washing machine, getting all nice and faded, I drew up the pattern pieces I needed. I found a strip that I had cut off a summer-weight bed quilt ages ago and cut the pieces for quilting from that. Two lower pockets and two parallelograms for the front.

I used the outer quilt fabric to keep the wadding in place.

Here are my quilted front pieces. The one on the right has been trimmed down ready to turn the long edges under and topstitch on to the side front jeans piece.

This is how the fabric looked after one wash - just how I wanted it.

Once the quilting was done and sewn in place, these were straightforward to make. I've made this pattern a few times now and it is my very favourite jeans pattern. I just made some minor fitting adjustments and added some extra leg length at the cutting-out stage. The fit isn't perfect with a few wrinkles at the back, but I'm happy.

 My finishing touch was this rectangle of leather that I stamped with my life's philosophy!

 Phew! Done in a day and a half, ready for a last-minute entry in the Pattern Review Jeans Contest.

$695 jeans for $20? Don't mind if I do!

The tank is self-drafted and made from bits and pieces from my stash. The front is a lovely soft print remnant from Potter's Textiles.

I'm rather pleased that the direction of the quilting lines match on the pockets and front panel. Completely intentional of course ;)

Overall thoughts: love, love, love these!

2015 Jeans Contest

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

One Year One Outfit

Anyone know what this is?

It is a sustainable fabric with a zero carbon footprint and it has been completely sourced from my local area.

Here's a close up:

Still not sure? Here is another hint:

It's dog fur felt! Yes, I clip my dog on the kitchen bench. Don't judge!

Before you wonder if I've gone completely mad, let me explain. Nicki, of This is Moonlight, has challenged Perth sewing bloggers and anyone else from around the world to use 2015 to research local, sustainable fabrics and to produce one wearable outfit using these fabrics by the end of the year. We have been given the south west of Western Australia as the region from which our fabrics or materials can be sourced. Although this corner of WA is bigger than many entire countries, it is actually rather empty and fabrics made entirely from animals or plants in the area are very difficult to come by.

Natural dyeing using Australian Eucalyptus leaves by India Flint

So, our small, but enthusiastic, band of Perth Sewers, led by Nicki, have embarked on the 'One Year One Outfit' mission. The quest will involve excursions to sustainable farms and hidden wool shops. We will investigate unusual fibres like hemp and silk for their suitability and adherence to the criteria of the challenge. We will even congregate for a workshop in natural dyeing using leaves and flowers collected from the local bushland. It is all very interesting and exciting.

We would love you to join us using your own local area as your source for fabric. Contact me or Nicki for more information.

Anyway, back to the dog-fur felt and whether I should use it for my outfit.  The advantages are that it is local, free and I have an endless, if slow-growing, supply. The disadvantages are that it is a bit warm for our climate, is itchy and it falls to bits when handled. Either I need a new fabric source or a way to get the fur felt to hold together better.

Let me show you how I made it. Actually, it was my two boys who made it. First we clipped fur from Truffle the cavoodle (King Charles cavalier/poodle cross). From now on I shall refer to this fabric as 'truffoodle'. I don't know whether poodle-type fur makes different felt to non-poodle dog hair. Something for future experiments.

The fur was laid out on a piece of bubble wrap.

We then wet it with hot water and hand soap and patted it down flat. In retrospect we may have used too much water and soap.

The fur was rolled up in the bubble wrap and rolled back and forth, like a rolling pin, many times.

There were lots of oohs and ahhs when the bubble wrap was unrolled to reveal the exquisite truffoodle fabric.

Now before you get too worried about my future sewing direction, the truffoodle fabric was just a bit of fun. I won't subject you to pictures of me in a flaking, dog fur ensemble any time soon. However, it did turn out to be useful preparation for my first foray into wool felting.

Yesterday, the Perth one-year-one-outfitters met at Bilby Yarns for some local wool research. The wool and equipment in that shop was fascinating. I am not a knitter, so looked a bit blankly at the balls of wool, but once I spotted the unspun, West Australian wool in delicious, natural colours, the spinning wheels, the weaving looms and the beautiful felt samples, I was excited. The two ladies who run the shop were very generous with their time and knowledge. They talked us through the wool production, showed us how to use a spinning wheel and then gave a felting demo.

The felting, for me, was the most interesting, and achievable, method for producing purely WA sourced, sustainable fabric. This was the method we were shown:

Fibres of combed and washed wool were pulled out in clumps and laid on the table all in one direction.

A second layer was placed in a perpendicular direction then a third layer in the same direction as the first layer.

A small squirt of dishwashing liquid was added to a cupful of hot water. Olive oil soap can also be used for a more natural alternative. The soapy water was sprinkled over the wool to dampen it.

The water was incorporated into the wool and flattened using a scrunched-up plastic bag to avoid the wool fibres sticking to the hands.

At this stage, additional wool fibres in different colours can be added to create a design. The edges of this piece were folded in to make them straighter.

The whole thing was then popped into a plastic bag,

wrapped in bubble wrap and rolled back and forth many times.

The resulting felt was rinsed in water and rolled in a dishcloth before being dried.

Just try keeping your hands off the resulting felt!

After seeing all this, I felt (ha ha) that wool felt should form part of my sustainable, local outfit. There were many beautiful colours to choose from, but I eventually decided on this combination of three natural sheep colours. I bought 200g for $16, which I hope is enough for a skirt.

I can't wait to get started, especially after finding this inspiration on a Russian website:


Thank you Nicki, for inviting me to be part of this exciting adventure x


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