Monday, July 26, 2010

Another day, another project

Hmmmm… on reflection, I think I might be in the running for the Queen Of The Unfinished Projects award…

I’ve started yet another project (without finishing any of the others) and this one is a doozy! I’ve decided that with just a book and some YouTube videos that I have enough information to try draping.

Like I said to a friend, this could easily end up being the worst dress in the history of worst dresses, BUT it is going to be extremely interesting trying it.

I read something recently where the author said she was getting frustrated with having to stop sewing to research a way out of the problems that were arising… but then she realised that each roadblock lead to learning and gaining new skills… something I for one am extremely happy for… if we aren’t learning something, then what is the point?

Anyway, enough philosophising… here’s a picture of the bodice so far… I’m excited and extremely glad I don’t have to go to work tomorrow so that I can spend the day working on this.

Wish me luck!


OK… well not the whole day… maybe I’ll finally pull 4911 out of the pile too. :0)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Universe says… finish Simplicity 4911!

So, my lethargy towards 4911 continues so I pulled out another incomplete project to continue it and… my sewing machine has had a breakdown! It is sewing the most gigantic knot around the bobbin that I’ve ever seen.

I’ve pulled the bobbin mechanism/shuttle race apart, de-linted it, cleaned, polished, waxed (well, not waxed, but you get the idea)… and it is still making knots… it’s like the thread isn’t being pushed high enough to clear the mechanism… anyway, I truly don’t know what is up with it, but I went to Spotlight and bought some sewing machine oil, so that is my final grasp at making this work before I give in and take it to the shop.

Fingers crossed.

I can’t help but feel though that the universe is trying to tell me to get on with the handsewing of 4911 and stop slacking off.

So… to do list reads as follows…

1. take your needle and thread out and finish this project!

2. oil the machine

3. never again sew any muslins in cute fabric. They are not meant to be worn, they are meant to be drawn on, pinned up and ripped apart. My ‘incomplete project’ is a muslin for McCalls 9852 – a nice shirtwaist dress with a full skirt… but my mistake was deciding to make a muslin from some cheap (but cute!) blue and white gingham… stupid, stupid idea…. I want this to work out so much… :0)

Has anyone else fell victim to the ‘wearable muslin’…?

McCalls 9852

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Simplicity 4911 – so close to being finished that it is not funny

Many moons ago I purchased a whole bunch of vintage patterns from the wonderful Miss Helene's Vintage Sewing Shoppe, one of which was Simplicity 4911.

Checking it out on the Vintage Patterns wiki, I was chuffed to see that the picture online is the exact copy that I purchased from Miss Helene’s – except somewhere along the way a few more pieces have sadly fallen off the envelope. You can’t tell from the picture below, but I’ve matched crease marks and tear lines and it is definitely the same one. I feel like I own a celebrity pattern… :0)

Here’s the pattern envelope today – well, after I scanned it, printed it and made it a whole new working envelope. The original is now tucked safely away to protect her from further damage.


Yep… I did draw their shoes back in. If you are wearing a gorgeous suit like that, you cannot go around without shoes… or indeed feet. It’s not proper. Miss Pink Ruffle is one day going to end up with a gorgeous green pair to match her bag and hat.

But I digress. This suit has been a long time in the making. I have made outfits from vintage patterns before – posts will be forthcoming about those at some point – but Simplicity 4911, your maker’s name denies the truth.

The skirt waistband gave me the yips so I ripped it out and made my own.

The collar of the jacket – I cannot even begin to recall the number of times I sewed, ripped, re-sewed, re-ripped, re-flippin’-sewed that thing. It was like the pattern did not allow enough material for the undercollar to meet!

I ended up inserting a weird little triangle of fabric because no matter what I did, it would not come right. I had two of my sewing friends even have a half-hearted poke at it and walk away scratching their heads.

And here’s a picture…


As you can see, the base of that triangle is not an insignificant amount. I don’t know what went wrong, but after having this jacket sit defiantly on my dressmaker’s dummy for a couple of months, I was thankful to get out of it with a weird triangle on the underside of the collar, instead of my usual “ball it up into a ball and piff it into the corner” solution. Very happy.

But, I’ve stalled again. Maybe it’s because it’s so cold here in Melbourne right now. Maybe it’s because it’s all handsewing left. Maybe it’s because I’m just not in the mood… or maybe because the times I’ve tried it on it just hasn’t lived up to my expectations and I don’t want another blah outfit in my wardrobe taking up space.

Ridiculous, I know. I just need to put my excuses aside, sew three buttons, rip open the buttonholes and decide how I’m going to finish the cuffs (again, the Simplicity instructions left me cold there so I’ve made up my own strange variation which I’ve got to decide how to finish) and I’m done!

Get on with it, I say! But not tonight… I’ve got a housewarming party to go to… :0)

Oh… here’s the jacket. The skirt is currently hanging in my wardrobe and I have worn it out a few times. I’m counting that piece as a definite win.


It looks a bit wonky and lopsided, but it doesn’t have its ubiquitous shoulder pads in… when the weather isn’t cold enough to freeze my mouse hand I’ll put the whole outfit on and take a picture… but that is definitely not tonight.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Planes, trains and automobiles

I have had an extremely interesting couple of months with regards to transportation… and isn’t that just an ancient Chinese curse!

At the end of May my job was declared redundant and in one day I lost my income, my phone and my car. Quite the shock after 15 years, let me tell you.

Anyway, losing the car has led to a cavalcade of adventures… from catching a bus in Melbourne for the first time since moving here almost ten years ago to buying my first ever car. Buying the car was quite exciting but probably not my most considered purchase… hey, don’t get me wrong, I did do some homework, but I tend to fall for older (think 1950s), bigger (think Chevy Belair) quite impractical cars… so buying a 1995 Saab was, for the most part, quite sensible… for me.


My Dad told me during the week that he was being presented with a 30 year service medal from the NSW Rural Fire Service (a volunteer organisation that used to be known as the Bushfire Brigade) and my younger brother Michael was up for his 15th year medal. These heroic people give up a lot of their time and put huge effort into training. They fight bushfires, attend car accidents, help with traffic control, raise funds for the brigade as well as for charities – particularly kids’ charities. I think that they are all amazing, wonderful people for what they do and so to hear that Dad and Michael were both being honoured on Saturday meant that I just had to attend, hairdressing appointment be damned!

So, I packed up Saabrina (I’m not normally the car-naming type, but this name just fits) and headed off from Melbourne at around 2:30pm on Friday for the 9 hour drive.

All was going great. The car was handling well, traffic wasn’t too heavy and I had already listened to about nine Hamish & Andy podcasts of their UK trip, when I decided to stop for food and petrol at Yass at about 9pm(ish). I meant to stop and eat my KFC burger but I just wanted to get going again so that I wouldn’t arrive to long after midnight… so eating in the car it was and off we went.

About 40 minutes later I had just passed the Goulburn exit when I noticed the “Check Engine” light come on… noooo…. that is NOT something you want to see on the Hume. I switched cruise control off and the car started to slow. If I put my foot down there was a little surge but not much before we started slowing again. Now, I’m not sure how far it is to the second Goulburn exit – I was just extremely thankful that there IS a second exit  - but it felt like a very long way. Finally, finally the exit swoops into view and we are off the freeway, merging with the old Hume Highway… for which you have to slow from 110 km/hr down to 80… and once doing that slower speed we just continued to slow and slow and slow and no amount of accelerator pedal was increasing that speed.

Hoping for no road-pizza’d wombats or kangaroos, I had to pull off onto the shoulder of the road as by now there was a little bit of an incline and I was now doing a top speed of around 5km/hr. Lucky for me we did reach the top of the hill and it was a coast down into town from there. To cut this long story short, I had luckily (again with the luck) purchased RACV roadside assistance the day after I bought the car so the NRMA covered us in NSW. A lot of waiting around in a petrol station carpark, a phone call to Dad and the guy eventually showed up to say there isn’t anything he can do without some kind of computer to plug in so the CAR can tell him what is wrong. I’m sure I’m being way too harsh but it seems to me that unless your problem is a flat tyre or that you’ve run out of petrol, there really isn’t a lot they can do with modern cars. Anyway, I did say short version, so I  will skip the frustration and crying-fest in the hotel and just say that I had to spend the night in Goulburn and get a tow in the morning to the service station.

Of course I had a slender, unrealistic hope that the tow would be quick, we’d be there by 8:30am when they opened and it would be a quick 30 minute fix and I could be at Mum and Dad’s only 30 minutes late. It never hurts to be hopeful but reality soon set in and I ended up at the service station until 12:30pm, missing Dad’s ceremony by a couple of hours.

Now I could look at this whole saga and say terrible luck, but in reality I had some EXCELLENT luck…

  • Saabrina broke down within hobbling distance of one of the largest towns on the route. Another 15 minutes and I’d have literally been in the middle of nowhere, sitting in my car in the cold night on the shoulder of a freeway full of speeding trucks. Not much fun there. Not to mention all the dingos, dropbears and Tasmanian Tigers just hovering in the nearby bush… ;0)
  • I had roadside assistance from the NRMA. The guy couldn’t do much to help me, but he did advise me not to try and drive the car any further without having it checked at a garage. I was going to try, believe me, but as I pulled into the carpark of the hotel the “check engine” light came on again and I knew the game was up. He also gave me the card of a good service station to go to in the morning.
  • If things had gone differently or I had tried to continue driving I actually could have ended up as flaming wreckage on the side of the freeway. The guy that fixed the car said that it appears that the fuel filter had never been changed in the life of the car and that the fuel pump was trying so hard to get the petrol through that the car actually burst its fuel line. If that fuel had hit the exhaust system… well… like I said, I was lucky.
  • I ended up at a service station that I was really happy with. They didn’t treat me like an idiot, kept me appraised of what was going on and left me with an overall positive impression. It could have easily been a different experience.
  • Whilst it wasn’t the cheapest visit to a garage (my Uncle Bluey told me a story today about how a garage near the Nullabor Plain changed his fuel filter for $10!!), I had visions of thousands of dollars flying out of my bank account so I was quite pleased.

So yes… I missed the actual reason for my trip, but I’m still calling myself lucky.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Entering the blogosphere… Houston… are you there??

Hi there… long time reader, first time blogger here…

At this point in the life of my blog, I have not really decided on a plan or direction… well, no there is a vague direction – there will be sewing, dancing – swing dancing, mainly Balboa – greyhounds (because I am owned by one named Seamus), lots of 1920s through to 1950s things (music, furniture, architecture, pictures, fashion)  and probably pretty much anything that annoys me in the news… which is a lot of late.

My reasons for doing this…? I hope mainly to share the passions of my life with like-minded individuals and maybe even introduce a few people to a new passion of their own. I will also probably use this page to vent a little when things upset me – BP, you’re my biggest target right now - and I also hope to make a few new friends on the way… at least that’s the way I feel about the bloggers that I currently follow… funny huh… friends I’ve never spoken to, never met and yet I’d miss them if they weren’t around. :0)

My apologies in advance for my overuse of the ellipsis… I just love it… see…?

Oh… and my apologies for my lack of manners! My name is Denise. Pleased to “meet” you. ;0)