Abracadabra! Sew simple and sew satisfying!

A friend’s daughter has had a baby and I shall be seeing them in October. I’d like to take a gift, so my mind starts mentally browsing my pattern magazines. I eventually haul out those I think are most promising, and after a few pleasant evenings, my choice is made. Her baby will be about six months old when I visit. It will be summer and I think this little romper will be a cute gift.

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My fabric is rather different: a crinkle cotton with tiny red flowers on a white background. It’s a left over piece from some baby clothes I made a year or three ago. And I have a beautiful red cotton knit for the yoke as well as red binding for the armholes and ties. This is the pattern instruction page.

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I trace the pattern pieces and hmm…. the fabric is just a little small. What to do? Oh well, I’ll make a dress instead. I cut one long piece with the armholes so that there will be a centre back seam. Oh, in this photo I’ve already placed and sewn on the pockets, but you can see the rectangular shape.

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I start working on the yoke. After ironing on the interfacing, I decide that some decoration would be nice. Three little hearts are soon stitched onto the front.

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Even the back looks good! This part won’t be seen as the yoke is folded over and stitched to the body.

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The body is gathered and stitched to the yoke. Then I measure and stitch the bias binding around the armhole, leaving it long enough to tie. I hold it up and examine it, but something isn’t right. It just isn’t right as a dress. So I measure the legs on the pattern and take a “bite” to form the legs, trimming and overlocking the seams. Ah… that looks better. A quick hem around the legs, the addition of elastic and here’s the final result. I didn’t add the elastic in the waist as it was just sewn on and I was worried it would be uncomfortable.

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I love how creative sewing is. I can’t believe I got from the original pattern to this:

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And I love the way I can make something from nothing. It’s magic!

Why do you love sewing? What have you been making? Share your link in the comments. I’d love to see!

Ps. I almost forgot to say that this pattern comes from an old Diana Tutto Bimbi magazine in Italy, so I can’t share the pattern with you. There is a similar pattern in the La mia Boutique in Italy this month. If you are interested in the magazine, let me know and I’ll try and find out how you can get it around the world. Happy sewing, Ladies!

A very Lisa and Andrea wedding

We’ve been planning this wedding for at least a year. Wait, not I, my beautiful daughter and her now husband have been planning. I’ve just been along for the ride, giving my opinion when asked (and sometimes when not) and making that all important dress.

What a joy it was to have our son with us and to welcome my niece and her husband for the weekend. Being so far away from family, we were delighted to have a house full of people the night before the wedding. We girls painted our nails, giggling and chatting in the kitchen while the guys watched TV in the lounge. Finally, the house was shrouded in darkness and while some snored and dreamt, the poor bride spent a sleepless night. Thank goodness for covering make-up and a smile that never faltered!

The day dawned, grey and miserable as we had expected. The best we could hope for was a little sunshine to allow the ceremony to be outside. Lisa and I walked into the village just before 8am to have our hair done. By the time she returned just before 9, we had packed the car with our bags and clothes, the dress laid out on top in its special bag. The venue, Castello di Viale, was an hour and a half away by car, so there was no time to waste. The wedding was to be at 11.30, but we still had to get dressed and do our make-up.

How can I describe the tenderness a mother feels when helping her daughter to dress on her wedding day? She was so beautiful. And she radiated joy. First the petticoat with tulle ruffles, then the dress with its layers of tulle under the skirt and ruffles and bubble hem. Finally the silk jacket, and I had to tie the central rose three times to get it right. Perfect! She sat quietly while her best friend did her make-up. I watched and stored up the memories. My baby has turned into a lovely young woman.

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I love the flowers in her hair!
I love the flowers in her hair!

The sun came out and the chairs were set out quickly in front of the municipal office. If we were lucky, we would make it. Perhaps I should explain. Lisa and Andrea chose a civil wedding which, in Italy, is performed by the mayor. How convenient that the municipal offices in this little village are right next door to the wedding venue (actually, in the same building)! In true Italian style, we started a little late. My heart skipped a beat as Lisa walked out of the building and down the aisle with her dad. She looked so calm and happy! Even her dad looked happy. Best of all  – Andrea’s jaw dropped when he saw her.

Walking to the aisle.
Walking to the aisle.
the ceremony
The ceremony
Just married
Just married
Funny moment
Funny moment

So with the ceremony over and the happy couple whisked away for photos, the guests mingled and enjoyed aperitivi until it was time to have lunch in the dining room upstairs. The chef outdid himself and, in accordance with the couple’s request, laid out a spread of both vegan and traditional aperitivi, each one more delicious than the last. Outside the dining room, they had a seating board with the tables named after countries. They agonised over the seating arrangements and it was obvious because every table was soon chatting and vibrant and everyone was having a great time.

The wedding lunch was also a mix of traditional and vegan food, carrying on all afternoon and fuelled by good wine and a wonderful atmosphere. Unlike a traditional South African wedding, the couple decided to have no speeches and the happy atmosphere was carried along by their friends’ frequent cries of “Viva gli sposi!” and attempts to get the groom to drink as much as possible, along with much teasing and hilarity.

Two events stand out in my mind. One was the “sawing of the log”. This is traditional at Italian weddings and signifies the first job the couple have to do together. A very dry log is brought in and set up on the table. Then the couple are given a two-person saw and they have to cut the log while their friends shout comments and cheer when they finish. I had to smile when we complimented Lisa on how well they did and she said, “It was easy. I let Andrea do all the hard work. I just held on!” Here are some photos.

Sawing the log
Sawing the log
Success!
Success!

The second tradition is one which Andrea didn’t want his friends to do for obvious reasons, but they did it anyway. The best man walks up and cuts the groom’s tie. He knew this might happen, so he changed his tie after the ceremony. I wish you could have seen Lisa’s face when they walked around to her side with the scissors in hand! I don’t know what she thought they were going to do! Well, they started with the bride’s parents, and cut the tie in little bits which they “sold” to the guests. The money went to the bride and groom. I guess I wasn’t thinking when I gave 50 euros. I hope I didn’t encourage anyone give more than they wanted to. It would be easy to take offence to a tradition like this, but I think it’s a sweet way to help a young couple who are just starting out.

The rest of the day passed in a blur. Soon we were eating wedding cupcakes and being handed bonbonniere, gifts for the guests with sugared almonds attached. They had chosen bottles of a local wine which had a special label for their wedding. Wait for it – a skull and skeletons representing them with the quote “till death do us part” in both English and Italian.

wedding cupcakes. Note the lego bride and groom!
wedding cupcakes. Note the Lego bride and groom!
moment with guests
moment with guests

Well, that was our very Lisa and Andrea wedding. Have you been to a wedding lately? What wedding traditions do you know of?

I would like to thank my dear friend Ambelene of My Food Memories for the beautiful photos she took. They are precious memories.

Mr. and Mrs.
Mr. and Mrs.

Making a wedding dress (part 2)

Well, the dress is now cut out and I’ve tacked the bodice ready for fitting. But life is still teaching me lessons. The biggest one is – give yourself lots of time to do a big project like this. The first reason is that your ideas change as you go along, and your new ideas may be more time-consuming.

We initially thought we would add some beading to the bodice to give it pizzazz, but with a deep purple fabric, which is shiny and crushed, we just couldn’t see how to make it work. So last weekend, I started playing around with ribbons and flowers. Now, our idea is to add a ribbon and flower embellishment on the two central panels at the front and the back. The rest of the dress will be plain. As it has a pulled up ball gown skirt, I think this option will be better. Here are some photos of my ideas.

 

This was my first attempt on a scrap, but it gives you an idea.
This was my first attempt on a scrap, but it gives you an idea.

I discovered that it’s almost impossible to get a perfect circle with this kind of ribbon, though.

The jacket she will wear with the ribbon embellishment showing.
The silk jacket she will wear with the ribbon embellishment showing.

So I went back to the drawing board. What if I used voile ribbon? And look at the gorgeous flowers I found! Pity she says she doesn’t like them.

voile ribbon with gorgeous flowers. Which colour to use? Will be experimenting today.
voile ribbon with gorgeous flowers. Which colour to use? Will be experimenting today.

The second reason is that life sometimes throws you a curve ball. My mom in South Africa needs a hip operation, and I want to go there to help my her and my dad, who is still recovering from an accident and can’t manage on his own. So it looks as if I’ll be in SA for April and get back here in time to do the final bits on the dress before the wedding in May. Whew! So in the next two to three weeks, I need to basically finish this dress.

So what do you think? Are we on the right road? If any of you have advice for me about the ribbon embellishment, please feel free to give it. I’m willing to try anything at the moment. I’ve been searching the net for “how tos”  but not found much that is very useful.

Have a crafty day everyone.

 

 

Making a Wedding Dress – Some Advice (part 1)

Eight metres of crushed taffeta – €700.00

Eight metres of lilac tulle – €40.00

Making your daughter’s wedding dress – priceless!

Having spent part of this weekend making a tulle petticoat for THE dress, I thought perhaps I could share with you some of the journey we’re taking as my daughter prepares to start her married life. The wedding is in May, and we started looking at dresses last year.

If you’re planning to make your own or a daughter’s wedding dress, the best place to start is by going to shops and trying on various dresses to get an idea of what looks best. A picture in a pattern book or a magazine is not enough. You HAVE to try on the dress to judge what it will look like. Of course, you have to be reasonable as well. Don’t choose a style beyond the seamstresses abilities, or you will all be stressed and disappointed.

Once you’ve decided on a look, you can start perusing patterns. We were very lucky to discover that the fashion and sewing college in Turin would be able to prepare a custom pattern for us. It cost €70 but it was worth every cent! If you have a similar opportunity, grab it. Doing that meant that we don’t have problems with fitting and adjusting, as the pattern was made to fit her body.

By this time, we knew what fabric we wanted and what colour. For most people it will be white or cream, but for Lisa, it is lilac. We visited quite a few shops before we found just the right shade and weight of fabric. Don’t rush when you choose your fabric. Give yourself enough time to look around. And think carefully when deciding about the colour. Some people look washed out in white and far better in cream or off-white. Lisa is a singer, so she wants a dress that she can use again. It’s going to be a beautiful ball gown with a halter neck, light beading on the bodice (which she will do by hand) and a voluminous skirt pulled up in soft folds.

The next job was making a muslin. I decided to make a black gown for her muslin so that she can use that too. It’s not really the right thing to do, but it seemed a waste to spend money on a dress she couldn’t use, so we bought black taffeta for our “test” dress. The black dress is almost finished now, and we’ve learnt a lot along the way. Our original idea was to have a skirt and top, but we’ve realised that separate parts move too much and need to be anchored, so we’ll be making a dress.

Friday is D-day for cutting out the wedding dress, always my most stressful moment. I always have a horrible feeling that something will have gone wrong and there won’t be enough fabric. I think I’ll feel much happier when it’s been cut out and it’s ready to sew.

More advice in part 2, when we’ve started the real dress. Anyone else out there doing a wedding dress or a special outfit? I’d love to hear about it?

Eek! Three weeks to Christmas!

Have you realised, dear reader, that you have only three weeks to complete those special gifts, bake those delicious goodies, and prepare for the family feast you are probably going to have? I realised this yesterday, and it prompted further thoughts about what I could make for those special people in my life who are not family, but whom I would like to spoil with a little gift to show my regard for them.

I love the Internet!  I found a delightful pattern rice heat therapy bag. I’m going to make a few of those for my friends. There’s also a smaller bag, and I saw on another site that you can use the smaller one for carpal tunnel syndrome and to support your wrist while using a mouse. I like that idea! Here’s the link to the first site:   http://sewmamasew.com/blog2/2007/11/rice-heat-therapy-bag-tutorial/

These little coin purses are really cute and would make a delightful gift for my young students :   http://www.craftsy.com/project/view/tetrahedron-coin-purse-with-zipper/3943

For other friends, I’ve enrolled in a free Craftsy class to make a tote bag and zipper pouch. They would also make great gifts!

Here’s the link for those: http://www.craftsy.com/class/bag-making-basics-reversible-tote-and-zipper-pouch/148?fromQuery=kristin%20link

I guess I’m going to be pretty busy for the next three weeks, but the look on my friends’ faces will make all the effort worthwhile.

What are you going to be making? Post your comments and links for us all to see.

 

 

Have a Crafty Christmas!

I’m an inveterate crafter. As a child, I was often given gifts that were craft kits, so over the years, I’ve made wool embroidery pictures that were lovingly framed by my Dad, painted wall hanging kits, glued mosaics, painted wall tiles, knitted the odd garment, and, my best love of all, sewn a huge quantity of clothes and gifts for myself, my children, and other family and friends. On top of that, I love nothing better than to get a bargain. So imagine my delight when reading my Craftsy Newsletter to see that there’s a FREE mini-class available. Of course, I signed up immediately, and soon I’ll be making my Reversible Tote and Zipper Pouch with Kristin Link. I can’t wait!

I’m all in favour of this incredibly liberating aspect of the Internet. My Grandmother would have been amazed at the ease with which I can access a “lesson” from almost anywhere in the world. There are no longer any boundaries. Craftsy is an example of a site which celebrates this freedom. Site members offer classes in a variety of skills – most for payment – but also some for free. Hop on over and visit their directory. I defy you to find nothing that interests you!    http://www.craftsy.com/classes

 

Classic Creations and Christmas gifts

 

 

 

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Just picked up the latest Burda Sewing magazine from my newsagent’s. I can’t wait to browse the patterns, thinking of fabric I have in my stash. Shall I make a pair of classic trousers? Definitely! I have the perfect wool mix. What about a gorgeous dress for Christmas or for my daughter’s wedding? Hmmm… there’s a wonderful crossed blouse too. Oh, so many choices! But wait…. first there are Christmas gifts to make, then the wedding dress, then my outfit…so much to do!

Have you decided on Christmas gifts yet? I bought my first at the weekend – an amusing little cat cartoon book. Perfect for the person I have in mind. For others, there are things I want to make, if I can find the right fabric. Speaking about fabric, where do you love to shop for fabric? Do you have any favourite on-line shops? As I live in Italy, you would think that finding quality fabric was easy. Not so. The big cities have fabric shops, but the prices are horrendous! I love browsing the German on-line shops such as http://www.alfatex.de, but it’s difficult to choose fabrics when you can’t touch them. What do other sewers think? Do you buy fabric on-line, or do you prefer to shop where you can feel the fabric and see the colours up close?

Going to sleep tonight dreaming of fabric! Good night!

Cloth baby shoes

Cloth baby shoes

Today I’m celebrating the joy of making and giving a special gift. There’s nothing nicer than seeing the delight on someone’s face when you give them a gift you’ve made. The baby shoes are from a pattern I found online. I’ll include the link for you. The kimono is a modified Burda style pattern from the Italian magazine. Have fun, and post me a photo if you decide to make something.Image