Friday 29 April 2011


So cool even non-royalists would approve. Probably.

Just in case you were living like a medieval ascetic in a cave without access to the outside world for the last six months, there was a tiny understated royal wedding this morning. The dress was gorgeous.

Attention sewing dorks: there's heaps of information about the dress and construction here.

Obviously, I would have lost my sewing blogger credentials without mentioning the dress but there's added motivation: my good friends at The Life Craft have been reconstructing the dress since it was first spotted this morning! Seeing the progress pics on Twitter have been fantastic, like this one of the bodice with lace overlay:

But you can also catch the live-stream webcam action here! They're just attaching the back skirt and the lovely model is waiting in the wings for Final Dress. Go have a look-see before they finish. Very impressive.

Thursday 28 April 2011


Was gutted, got gadget, made glove.

We've had our Canon Powershot for approaching five years now and although it's a decent camera and mostly does the trick, I've become increasingly frustrated with its inability to cope with taking pictures in anything less than heavenly sunshine. Ummm, Canon? I live in Scotland. This camera is obsessed with it's own flash. Outdoor pictures when overcast- flash goes off.

Those things are called 'clouds', camera. You don't need a flash.

Indoor pictures even in glorious natural light- flash goes off. Obviously, my fingers are manually dexterous enough to turn off the flash but then everyone must stay perfectly still. Or you get hands like Pan's Labyrinth:

Those things are called 'windows', camera. They let light in. You don't need a flash.

Due to the rain all of our pictures from the wedding were taken indoors and I was gutted to find shot after shot after shot of blurry people, over-exposed auto flashes, or over-dark muddy messes. Quick and Dirty photo editing can only do so much when the light is totally off.

So in my sadness over having a bunch of sub-standard pictures of a super-standard day, I've upgraded my Canon to a model that is equipped to handle lots of tricky lighting conditions and moving targets. Obviously, above picture of new camera has been taken with now defunct camera which explains why the light balance is off. I cannot take pictures of new camera using new camera, that is too post-modern. But I can take a picture of the same camera cozy:

Isn't that much better? Startling, I know. Joking aside, I've had a tinker and it is 600% better and has lots of nifty features for me to have fun with.

For those of you who are like, 'Dammit, Amanda, just tell me about this camera case', it's a Japanese canvas from the stash, lined with my magic-match-everything-fabric, a neoprene inner lining for protection and a velcro closure. I chose the robots because geeky gadgets get geeky coverings, and I may also let Steven use the camera and my gender enforcing friends assure me that robots are for boys.

Wednesday 27 April 2011


The Reluctant Rose blouse

rose top full 3

I bought this fabric a couple of weeks ago when the plan was still for a circle-skirted dress for the wedding. I wouldn't say it is a print I'd normally be drawn to but with a 50's style dress and full pettiskirts I think it would have looked more rockabilly than romantic.

rose top binding

But for the uber-girl, it was perfectly acceptable in it's romantic state. With a channel of polka-dot binding and a bit of elastic, a peasant tunic acquired a flounce.

rose top flounce

Speaking of flounces, the tiny girl model spent the afternoon in a fury after falling off a wall at the school. And then down some stairs. Thirty seconds after I told her to get down because that exact scenario would happen.

rose top full 2

Her attempts to look continuously furious were not entirely successful.

Tuesday 26 April 2011


Simply scooters

scooter shirt print

Looking back at my photos yesterday, I realised that I hadn't made any clothes for the kids (wedding dress excepted) in almost two months. After the complicated and somewhat fraught sewing marathon in the run-up to the wedding, I felt like I needed to make something easy and soothing.

scooter shirt full

A simple peasant top with puff sleeves and an a-line tunic length was in order.

scooter shirt

I had thought of complicating it with mixing in other fabrics, and adding some features for interest, but this scooter print is so lovely I decided to just keep it simple.

scooter top full

I am in love with our garden at the moment with the sun shining and petals from the flowering trees carpetting the grass.

Sunday 24 April 2011


Wedding Redux

wedding pictures 089
For the record, Maia is incapable of taking a picture without making her tongue a feature

We had a lovely day yesterday at the wedding. Maia's puffed sleeve party dress was a hit and perfectly amenable for throwing some shapes on the dance floor.

wedding pictures 092

The kids were fantastic and charming and managed to stay up five hours later than normal. Guess who still woke up at 6AM? Need a clue? He looks like this:

wedding pictures 090

Regretfully, I can't show you a single picture of me in Final Dress with accessories (the shoes are black and the bag green for the interested) as not a single picture was taken. It's hard to comprehend how documenting the minutiae of the dress and me in the dress is not as important to other people. And taking a picture of myself in the bathroom of the hotel would have been a little too sad. But here is one eighth of the dress:

wedding pictures 145

Please do not adjust your monitors to return my skin tone to normal Amanda-shade. I had a spray tan.

wedding pictures 146

And, finally, a bonus shot of the happy couple to illustrate what people in love look like.

Thursday 21 April 2011


Final dress is Final. Accessories are lacking and vital.

Who would have believed it? I finished my final dress two days before I needed to. This has never happened before. Apologies for the abyssmal photo quality, I had to take these with my phone as Steven has taken the kids and the camera to the Science Festival.

It's just as well I wasn't still working at midnight on Friday because after it was basted together I found I still had a World of Fitting Issues. Because this print is so big and I didn't want to break it up, I changed the skirt from princess seamed to darted one (without any pattern for guidance) so the skirt needed adjustments galore. And I had to take the waistband in five (!) inches at the bottom corner.

The skirt is a tiny bit shorter in the back because I had to take a last minute wedge out where it met the waistband due to my extreme swayback.

I love the shoulders so much.

My original plan was to have a contrasting waistband so I picked a fabric that was a perfect match to the plummy pink of half the flowers. But when the fabrics were together it didn't match the plum pink as much as it clashed with the rose pink (if that makes sense to anyone other than me!)....

The reason Steven and the kids have given me a bit of peace today is because I still need shoes / bag / accessories. So, lovely readers.... would you go with black, plum pink, rose pink, or the green of the leaves?

Wednesday 20 April 2011


Make-up bags in triplicate

In between making my dress and Maia's dress for the wedding (three sleeps!), I had to take a pause and finish a commission. The brief: three make-up bags that are related but not identical. Despite my ginormous stash, there weren't a lot of fabrics I had in three colourways with coordinatings linings... But I found enough Joel Dewberry's to make these:

Joel Dewberry make up bags

In order to fit quite a bit of goodies inside, they measure eleven inches in length. As the zippers in my stash only measure eight inches, I did covered zipper ends out of the lining fabric.

Joel Dewberry make up bags (brown)

Rather than looking like hodge-podge solution to too a too short zipper, I think (do not even correct me if I'm wrong) it makes the bags a bit snazzier.

Joel Dewberry make up bags (green)

Each bag has a coordinating Ginseng Tiles fabric inside. Two decor weights and some heavy interfacing means they stand up really well.

Joel Dewberry make up bags (maroon)

There's not much more I can say about the make-up bags, other than I'm relieved that I was able to squeeze them in without disrupting the dress-making extravaganza. I would have hated to disappoint the recipient of the bags or run out of time to finish the dresses before the weekend! Please share in my relief that Maia's dress is complete and my dress just has the skirt to go...

Monday 18 April 2011


I am now officially An Expert

In case you missed it, yesterday I guest posted over on Sew Sweetness as part of her Photography Week. It was lovely to be asked, although I was quite nervous about unleashing my dorkiness on a whole set of blissfully-unaware-of-me readers. I shared my tips on Quick and Dirty Photo Editing using your standard issue Windows Photo Viewer and you should go read it.

Unsure of my credentials at photo editing? My friend Kat asked someone to remove a lady from one of her pictures. Here is the offensive lady:

And now she's gone!

I didn't charge Kat for my expertise (yet) but will be happy to accept commissions of similar work.

Saturday 16 April 2011


A shirt for the Lego Superfan

Lego t-shirt

Our favourite American-Swedish hybrid family celebrated the birthdays of both their sons recently and kindly asked us over for cake and play. Elder son turned five and to commemorate his overwhelming love for all things Lego, I appliqued him a shirt.

Lego t-shirt

Obviously my esteem for people is directly proportional to my willingness to part with precious hoarded Lego fabric.

Friday 15 April 2011


The Home Stretch Dress

It's impossible to try on just a bodice and pin to fit so I reckoned I should finish the leopard dress in it's entirety. You know, so the 4000 people that ragged on me about the print could have another day of glee. I'm benevolent like that.

leopard dress full

I'm not looking smug here, promise. I'm smiling at my old school friend, Nashira, who complained on Facebook about me always cropping my head out. Here is my head: be kind with it.

leopard dress side

The canny amonst you will have noticed that I'm trying out a pencil skirt instead of a circle skirt. There's some extra fabric at centre front that's pooling out, but other than that the fit is pretty good.

leopard dress back

The back shows no glaring fit issues.

leopard dress bodice

Kat ever so kindly expressed her concern yesterday that the boobies would eat her up. I'm hoping it looks less threatening on me than on Doppelganger. If you saw this bodice at a wedding, would you be scared for your life?

leopard dress belted

And finally, here is it belted. Trying this out has shown me that the waist and hips need to come in another inch or so because the fabric is bunching. Finding and fitting my natural waist is proving tricksy.

So, do you like it? Gilberto on Flickr does. Isn't he dashing in his field?

I'd appreciate your insight on Final Dress...
  • Are breasts threatening?
  • Circle skirt and petticoat or pencil skirt?
  • Contrasting waistband or same waistband?
  • Bonus question for experts: The v-neck is standing up off my chest and not adhering to my curve (particularly at centre front) so that the 65% of people who are taller than me can see my bra no matter what... how do I fix this other than add a dart along neckline?

Thursday 14 April 2011


Eeny, meeny, miney, mo. Catch a leopard.... Whatever.

It'll surprise no one that I'm persevering with the dress. Thank you all for your suggestions and support, you guys rock!

leopard dress full

All these animal prints in my stash must be giving everyone the wrong impression of me... I've never worn an animal print in me puff. Honestly.

leopard dress draped and pinned

For those of you interested in the process (the process that I'm more-or-less winging I might add before people start threads on sewing forums that I'm doing it all wrong), I made some changes to the bodice piece and pinned a fabric version to my last dress. The height at centre front of previous dresses was bothering me but as I always wear balconette bras there wasn't much I could do... so I bought a plunge bra and the doppelganger is wearing this. That's a handy hint from me to you: if you have a dress form, make it wear the bra you will wear with the dress. Even if it looks like a hussy and you want to judge it. It's much easier to gauge necklines and armholes if she's wearing your bra. So I changed it to a v-neck. And the under-bust gathers that were irritating me? I folded it into three under bust darts. Underbust darts always leads to a side seam dart for me too. Then is pressed the darts with the iron, fabric penned everything and made another pattern from it.

leopard dress muslin stitched

Then I stitched up the new bodice front with the darts to check the fit. I still didn't like the neckline so I played around a bit more with that. Made another pattern from that, adjusted the back bodice and straps pieces to compensate (oh dear god this process is killing me) ... and then tried it with the leopard print. Leopard print because the silk dupioni is out. I settled on a busy print for Final!Dress in the end. Et voila.

leopard dress underbust darts
You do not even see those threads hanging down.

The underbust darts are looking pretty snazzy, the v-neck covers my bra (only just though so I might add a tiny bit back on) and the straps start much lower down. The waistband needs work. I don't know what to do with it but it is not conforming to the body. Perhaps it doesn't matter so much with a print?

leopard dress full bodice

Overall, I think it's a lot sleeker than the previous dresses methinks. What say you, hive mind?

EDITED TO ADD: I'm not planning on wearing leopard-print dress. It's a muslin before my final fabric comes tomorrow. Now everyone can stop tormenting me.

Sunday 10 April 2011


Three times a lady

pink velveteen sis boom full

I know, all these dress revisions are getting tedious. If it's any consolation, it's tedious for me too.

pink velveteen sis boom skirt

Skirt has been increased from the half circle of the zebra dress to a three-quarter circle. It's gigantic. It is very bulk-inducing at the back, but that's probably partially the fault of the fabric being velveteen.

pink velveteen sis boom back

But we're not going to dwell on that because, 'Look, Mom!! No bra strap!!' Finally.

pink velveteen sis boom bodice

One of the things that bugged me about the zebra dress was the elastication at the neckline. I've no beef with elastic necklines in general, but I'm wanting a formal dress at the end of this whole ordeal and I think the elastic made it less so. More changes were made to the bodice front piece (including unplanned changes after I thought it was done- that'll teach me not to fit as I go along) to eliminate the elastic. As you can see by my serving wench bosom, I lowered the neckline to the borderline disgraceful. If I make another one, it's coming back up a smidge.

pink velveteen sis boom semi-side

As Angie and Pickled Weasel suggested, I increased the height of the waistband an inch and a half to counter the (entirely true) assertion that I looked short waisted. I 'formalised' the waistband and shoulder straps with more regular pleats than the random 'smooshing' that the original pattern called for. I don't even know why I'm pretending that this dress even bears any resemblence to the pattern anymore.

pink velveteen sis boom jamie
Even Jamie doesn't know what I should do.

There we go then. Other than a couple of small changes, I've tamed all the original fitting problems that bothered me and I think I've gotten to the point where I could move on to a final version. But I can't decide if I want to.... Something just looks 'meh' to me.

Potential reasons for meh:
  • Just the fabric (again- stashbusting). For Final!Dress I want to use crisp silk dupion. Will this make everything better? Does such fabric lend itself to half skirt or three quarter circle?
  • Long-standing resentment towards under bust gathers: do these always make boobs look dumpy?
  • Strap angst: should I change them just to normal ones? do they start too high up?
  • Proximity to armpit: awfully close to armpit vs showing bra at armpit. Discuss.
  • My monkey: as explained yesterday.
Do I soldier on or should I just bask in the fact I have learned a lot about fit adjustments?