This is extremely decadent: a post just for the sake of one person. (Everyone else is welcome to read it too, though!)
Cynthia, I thought you might like to see what ended up on top of our Christmas tree this year.
Each year, on the first weekend in December, The Husband, The Reader and The Gymnast put up the Christmas tree together. That usually means I have to search through my office for my box of Christmas decorations that I have made, and that I have received in Christmas ornament exchanges. It often takes me a little while to find them, as many of the ones I’ve made go off to the June craft show each year, as stitched models.
Each year the girls alternate between who gets to choose the thing (star or angel, usually) to go on top of the tree. Usually the one who chooses chooses a decoration that they made at school either some time in the past or that year. This year, the ornament chosen to go on top was an ornament that I received from Cynthia in an ornament swap a number of years ago. If I remember correctly, it was through the now defunct Country Bumpkin message boards.
I was in the kitchen doing foody sorts of things when they decorated the tree. When I came out and noticed what had been placed on top, I was so delighted to see what had been chosen, and I knew that Cynthia would be thrilled too!
Have you visited Vetty Creations on Facebook yet? I have a page on Facebook specifically for Vetty Creations. I post on it quite regularly, usually little snippets of what I’m doing, what I’m working on etc. It’s a little like White Threads “Lite”.
I sometimes put links there to things I’ve been reading or products I’ve seen that I’ve liked. It’s also a great way for me to ask for opinions, and for you to give them to me really easily. You’ll often see things on the Vetty Creations Facebook page that I don’t post here on the blog, so it is worthwhile to “Like” it.
When you like us on Facebook, make sure you do it properly. After clicking on the Like button, then hover your cursor over the button. The following panel should show up (after thinking for a little bit).
Select the “settings” option by clicking on it.
The following screen should now turn up.
Select the “all updates” option. This will mean that you won’t miss a thing. Whenever you see something on my Facebook page, you can easily share it with all your friends, so that they can enjoy it too.
Thanks for visiting us on Facebook!
On Friday I received a lovely surprise in my post office box. My copy of Inspirations 80 had arrived! This is the 20th anniversary of Inspirations magazine, and to celebrate they have 15 projects all by Australian designers, one of whom is me!
My project is a little biscornu, featuring Mountmellick embroidery. It was a fun project to stitch: quick, and lovely and textural.
Other designers included in the magazine are favourites such as Jane Nicholas, Jenny McWhinney, Julie Graue, Jan Kerton and Susan O’Connor. There’s a lovely range of projects, from small and quick, through to large and challenging. It is lovely for my work to be included in such company.
You can get your copy of the magazine direct from Country Bumpkin, or the recent news is that Inspirations is now being stocked by selected newsagents in Australia again!
Congratulations to Inspirations on 20 wonderful years! Here’s to another 20!
I finished my jacket last Sunday, and last night my husband provided the opportunity to wear it. We went to see the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House, which was absolutely fabulous!
Ok, I know, I know. You don’t really care about the concert. You just want to see the jacket…
I’m pretty pleased with it! At interval we met some lovely ladies who oohed and aahed about my jacket. They asked where I got the fabric: Spotlight in Hobart – yes, really!
One of them told me all about going to visit the exhibition at Rippon Lea in Victoria of the costumes from Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, set in the 1920s. She showed me photos on her phone and generally made me feel quite jealous. I had been aware that the exhibition was on, but knew that I would never get to it. It ends tomorrow (Sunday, 1st December), I believe, so if you’re close by, you could still make it to see it!
My jacket very much enjoyed its trip to the Opera House. The orchestra was simply amazing. They received about 8 curtain calls, and played two encores. A wonderful evening, with fabulous music, great company, and a lovely jacket.
Thanks to Bel Page of CIAM Australia for teaching me the skills of pattern drafting, and answering my many questions while making this jacket. Thanks also to all the readers of my blog, and friends on Facebook for providing opinions and fastening ideas!
On Sunday I finished off my red and gold jacket. I’m so very pleased with it, and am looking forward to showing you photos when I have some of me in it! However, I’ve given you a sneak peak of the buttons at the waist.
Because it had taken up a lot of my time recently, taking me away from writing my book, I decided I needed to start a small project for the book, so that I can get something finished quite quickly and feel like I am making progress.
I’m working on some Vaupel and Heilenbeck linen banding that they so very kindly sent me. It is GORGEOUS to work on! The threads are plump, firm and smoothly polished. I haven’t worked with such a nice linen in some time! (Yes, the linen was a free sample, but no, they haven’t asked me to say nice things about it – this is purely my own thoughts!)
The project is progressing quickly, which was exactly the idea. However, I have made numerous counting errors, which has meant an awful lot of undoing! After the second large mistake yesterday, I wrote a section for the book on checking the position of the stitching, to make sure it is right! (If I can get it wrong, I figure others will make mistakes too!)
I’ve also drafted a new dress using my CIAM pattern making skills and have been searching for fabric for it. I’ve decided to use some *beautiful* fabric by Florence Broadhurst, an extraordinarily talented Australian wallpaper and fabric designer from last century. She was an amazing character, who lived larger than life, and whose mystery has only been enhanced by her unsolved murder in the 70s.
Welcome to those who are visiting today from &Stitches! For everyone else (who are of course welcome also!), &Stitches has today published an interview with me about whitework, which you may enjoy reading.
I’ve hit a conundrum with my jacket. I think I’ve decided how I want the fastenings to look (mostly). But I’ve still got to figure out how to make it work.
I’m thinking of a group of three rouleau loops and self-cover buttons at the top of the lap, repeated at the waist. (Yes, that not-yet-covered self-cover button is plastic. The metal ones that were available to me were not dry-cleanable, and as this jacket may need dry-cleaning, I don’t want the buttons rusting!) The self cover buttons will be in the main jacket fabric. The rouleau loops are in a plain red to match the jacket red.
To hold the rest in place, I’m thinking of buttoning the other way (from the inside) on the other lap. My question is whether to place these buttons in a line down the centre (seeing no-one is going to see them)
…or over at the side edge of the inside lap.
I think the buttons down the centre will help me to position everything perfectly (matching the patterns), but I’m not sure if they’ll sit funny there.
Is there anyone out there who would like to advise me on what they think will work better? How would you do it if this was your jacket?
Earlier this year I heard from Crystal in Colorado. She was stitching the Claire Doily from my book Elegant Hardanger Embroidery, and had a few questions. I answered her questions (I’m always happy to provide after sales service, so if you have questions, please just ask!) and requested that she send me a photograph when she had finished it.
Crystal sent through the photo of her magnificent work yesterday. She’s done a really wonderful job, and is justifiably proud of it. Congratulations Crystal!
If you’re waiting for a photo of my red and gold jacket, it is currently languishing, waiting for me to find appropriate self-cover buttons. I want good quality ones, not plastic ones. Of course, these aren’t so easy to find, but I’m working on it.
I’ve done heaps on my jacket over the weekend, and I have put heaps of thought into the fastening quandry.
First I put the front and back bodice pieces together and the front and back neck facings. I was very happy with the way the fabric patterning matched up across the panels. Using safety pins, I did a test set in of one of the sleeves (with the shoulder pad in place), to see how well or how badly I had managed to match the pattern across to the sleeves.
Very badly it seemed. It looked to be about as far out as I could have managed it. I had no idea why. I couldn’t figure it out at all. I had pinned a line on my toile across from the bodice to the arms, and matched the pattern to that line for both the bodice and the sleeves. I knew it might be a little bit out, but that much?!
Because I had cut the sleeve pieces with lots of extra fabric around the seam line just in case I did need to move the positioning at all, I set in the other sleeve with the pattern slid up the fabric a bit.
I tried the jacket on again, and inspected. The newly set in sleeve was completely wrong, but the first one was almost perfect. I hadn’t moved it! I don’t know what changed, but something did, and where I had positioned the sleeve pattern on the fabric had turned out to be about right.
So both sleeves went in, and the jacket was really coming together. I bound the front edge of the underneath lap with the gold satin that I had, and I was really disappointed. The gold was a pale gold – one that was actually found on the jacket – but it just looked beige. It was awful. I knew I wouldn’t be happy with it, so Saturday afternoon involved a trip to the local fabric shop to purchase one that had more yellow in it.
While there, I showed the lovely shop assistant my jacket, as they actually advertise the CIAM classes on their shop window. She was really impressed, though as it did not yet have any lining, she suggested lining it. I assured her that I would be lining it. She said that would really be a good idea, as the fabric that I’m using tends to fray really easily and seams can split. I’m so glad she said that, as I went straight home and doubled the seams (as in, did an extra seam line right next to the first) on areas of major stress – the side seams and the shoulder seams. My jacket WILL NOT fall apart!
Yesterday afternoon after church I started on the lining, and now I’m to the point where all I need to to is set in the lining sleeves, and finish off attaching the lining hems on the sleeves and at the bottom of the jacket.
And then there is the fastening quandry.
Frog fastenings are not going to happen. They would be too large and too much. Buttons with buttonholes are not going to happen. It would break the line formed by the binding on the edge of the lap too much.
I even considered buttoning it the wrong way – having the buttonholes on the inside lap, and the buttons on the back of the top lap. It could work, but I do think it would just be a bit weird.
Currently I am leaning towards having three closely spaced self-covered buttons with rouleau loops (in either the main fabric or a matching red) at the top corner of the lap, and then three more at the waist. Any gaping between and below would be stabilised by inside buttons/hooks and eyes/snaps etc to hold the underneath lap in place near its edge. What do you think of this idea?
Thanks to everyone who made suggestions the other day. I mentally made my way through them all. They were very thought-provoking and so useful. You thought of ideas and important points that I had not thought of, so I am very grateful for your input.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to show you the finished jacket, apart from the fastenings!
For the CIAM patternmaking course that I have been taking over the last year, one of the requirements is to make a fully lined jacket, drafted from your own pattern (of course!) A few weeks ago I finally came up with a sketch of what I wanted to make, having been mulling it over for months. The jacket will be made in a highly patterned satin fabric, with a contrasting binding down the front edge of the opening.
I drafted the pattern and made the toile. Last class, I took my sewing machine with me so that with my teacher, Bel’s, guidance, we could make adjustments and sort out any of the fitting issues. I was quite pleased with it. It wanted it rather short, which presented some problems with the back darts (what to do when they disappear into the hem at the bottom? Solution: make the jacket just long enough so that they finish on the surface of the garment!) I also wanted it to sit quite firmly at the bottom of the jacket – not much extra ease, so that it sat on me, rather than “floating” nearby.
I took it home with me, determined to have the jacket mostly made by the time of the next class, two weeks later (not tomorrow, but the next Saturday). And then I decided I wasn’t happy with the fit at the waist. Because it is quite fitted at the bottom of the jacket, near my hips, it almost looked straight down the sides, and created a very unpleasing, boxy look. To counteract this, I nipped it in a little further at the waist as there was still quite a lot of ease there. It is now going to be a very fitted jacket, and I’m quite happy with that.
I also tried on some jackets at the shops, and discovered that their sleeves were much narrower than mine at the wrist. Mine was drafted to about 28cm circumference, and theirs seemed to be more like 25. So I decided to slim down the sleeves as well. I had seen photos of a couture jacket that slimmed down from the elbow. Was that going to work, or should I just taper from the top of the underarm? Because I have a toile, I tried both out, and decided in the end that I preferred the version that was tapered from the top of the underarm.
So yesterday, being happy with my toile, and having completed all the other things around the house that needed doing, I finally had to bite the bullet.
BUT, then there was the issue of the fabric. You see, my fabric is completely and utterly beautiful, and I don’t want to wreck it! It is also highly patterned and as I bought it over a year ago, in another city entirely, there’s no chance to get any more if I get it wrong. I did deliberately buy way too much at the time. It is 90cm wide, which is narrow, so I bought 4m because of that, and also for the pattern matching.
So, with all that pattern, can you see why I might be daunted?!
Bel gave me some excellent tips on working with patterned fabric. Start by deciding on your centre line, and place the centre front, and centre back along those lines. Fortunately the pattern has very definite vertical lines in the pattern (axes of symmetry) which is helpful. But then the question was, should I put the dominant motif centrally (top), meaning that the next repeat sideways would be under the arms, or the non-dominant motif centrally (bottom), so you see more of the dominant motif on the torso?
I asked my friends on Facebook. They were most helpful! The general concensus was the bottom option, though there were a few who suggested the top option. I really could go either way, but I decided to go with the bottom option in the end.
Once the centre line had been decided, then I needed to also match up other important points, like making sure the pattern aligned along the hem line, and across from the torso to the sleeves. It’s the torso to the sleeves one that I really think is going to be my downfall! On my toile, I pinned a line horizontally across the bodice front, and then continued the line onto the sleeve. I drew these lines onto my pattern pieces. Hopefully they’re right! I’ll cut the sleeves with extra fabric around them so that if I have to move the pattern up or down, I can.
Bel got me to draft the pattern with no seam allowance. I positioned the first pattern piece – a front bodice – onto the single layer fabric, and because there is no seam allowance, I can see exactly where the motifs fall at the edge of the patterns. There was a bit of screaming and head scratching while I tried to square up the fabric (pulled thread, long ruler and a large set square!), and successfully line up everything with various lines on the pattern. Eventually I decided I’d managed it.
I very carefully pinned the pattern piece on the fabric, and then with an old thread that breaks really easily, I loosely tacked at the very edge of the pattern, right on the seam line. The fact that the thread breaks very easily will mean that it is easier to remove it later. Where there was an important point or line on the pattern, such as the waist, I tacked a stitch out to the side as a marker. The darts are marked with the same sort of tacking also.
I’ve never done this method of pattern transfer before, and it is very time consuming, however it will be extremely accurate when I come to sew everything together as I’ll just be matching tacked seam lines. By the end of yesterday, I’d managed to tack one sleeve, one front, the back, and one front facing.
Today I will do the matching sleeve, other front, other side facing, and back neck facing. And of course I will make them match their counterparts if they have one! I might start sewing together at this point, or I might then cut my linings. I won’t be able to get very far without the linings, so probably I should get them done sooner rather than later!
Now, I am still wondering about the fastenings for this jacket. You’ll see on my original sketch that I drew buttons. I am not convinced about using buttons, but if I do, I would use fabric covered buttons, to match the pattern of the fabric where they will sit. (Nothing about this jacket is going to be easy. The Reader has referred to it already as The Jacket That Nearly Killed Me.)
However, I have also toyed with the idea of rouleau loops out from the edge of the contrast binding, to small rounded, self-covered buttons – the sort of effect that is sometimes used on the back of wedding gowns. I wouldn’t have as many as that though, more like 5 or 6.
And then a friend also suggested a completely concealed idea – using snaps, but not the horrible plastic clear ones! She said that snaps are very IN at the moment, and are available in myriad colours and shapes. She referred me to Vogue pattern 8932 as an example of a pattern that uses them. Hmm… I’m not sure this fad has reached Australia (she’s British), so I might have to do some internet searching. My concern with snaps is that they might pop open rather easily, especially when I sit or bend, as this is going to be a very fitted jacket.
What do you think about fastenings? I’m very open to ideas!
Whatever option I use, I want to be able to sometimes wear the top of the jacket open, sitting as wide lapels. Because of that, I need to make sure that the fastenings won’t look too awful like that. If I can’t think of any way where that will successfully work, I can resign myself to the fact that I will always wear the jacket completely closed.
I have a feeling you’re going to be hearing more about this jacket in the next little while, as it is definitely going to dominate my life, though hopefully not for too long!
On Saturday night I completed the 28th (and final!) diamond motif on my tablecloth! Happy Day! There is still a lot more to be completed – borders, filling in bits between the diamonds and the hemming. But huge progress has been made, so I’m celebrating!
On Friday I completed a very small, but elegant project for the book. I am so very happy with it, and all the people whom I have shown it to have loved it. I think you will too!
This week I will probably spend a bit of time working on my jacket for my CIAM patternmaking class. On Saturday I took my sewing machine to class and my teacher and I sorted out all the fitting issues with my toiles for my jacket and my pants. By the next class I’ll hopefully have one garment complete or almost complete, or maybe even two!