Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at the Art Gallery of NSW

Last weekend, some friends and I went to the Art Gallery to see the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibition. It washout of a last minute plan, so I didn't have time to sew up a new outfit, but I managed to put together something I think was a reasonable effort, I just put together a quick floral hair comb. I couldn't find my glue gun, so I had to use a very sharp needle to piece through the plastic flower stalks. I stitched them to a piece of felt, which I folded over with a small length of boning inside, then attached to a hair comb.

While at the Art Gallery, using their free WiFi, I discovered the sad news that Jessica from Chronically Vintage, had lost her home, possessions and heartbreakingly, her kitty, to an arson attack. For anyone wishing to help Jessica and her Husband at this difficult time, there has been a Facebook page set up, with details. I myself am hoping to sew up a few things to send to her.

I love going to the Art Gallery, but I don't get there as often as I would like. I didn't take many photos of the exhibition, although I could have. There weren't quite as many paintings as I would have liked to have seen, about half of the display comprised of photos set out in chronological order, detailing both of the artist's lives

The paintings that were there were exquisite, and had so much more texture and life than what is portrayed through the numerous photos and copies of them. It was also very interesting comparing their work side by side, and although I know Rivera was a much more accomplished artist at the time, I find Frida Kahlo's work to have much more detail and technical skill. I realise Rivera was mostly a mural painter, but I find his style kind of flat and almost childlike.

I did get a quick snap in front of a big blown up photo of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, so you can see my hastily put together outfit. I did have a fantastic beaded orange shawl that I was going to wear with it, but it ended up being a bit warm, so I left that in my bag.

My Frida Inspired outfit
On our way from St James train station, we came accross these endangered animal parade floats, which we discovered were for a celebration of the 100 year birthday of Toronga Zoo! I had no idea it was that old!

I really liked the Tiger one

Anyone else been to the Art Gallery recently? (or seen giant endangered animals in the park?)


Friday, 14 October 2016

Navy Floral Cotton Voile Dress

Coming up in January, I will be attending my little brother's wedding, so naturally I had to sew a new dress to wear for the occasion! The dress code is formal wear, but it is going to be outside, in the middle of the afternoon in the middle of an Australian Summer, so I had a hard time deciding what to make that would be appropriate but still comfortable. I pulled out a bunch of possible sewing patterns, and also had a good look through my fabric stash.

I knew I wanted a fitted bodice, and I got the impression from my brother's fiance that she wanted people in full length skirts. Even though the dress code is formal, I really really didn't want to be wearing satin, polyester chiffon or any other sweaty fabrics. After trawling pinterest for ideas, and seeing all the floral wedding dresses that are a current trend, I thought of some Navy background floral printed cotton Voile that I had purchased semi-recently on sale at Spotlight. I grabbed it out and checked how much I had. It was just over 4 meters, so the perfect amount for a full length dress!

Front bodice sewn together

I decided to use the bodice from Butterick B6019 as it is very structured, and wouldn't make the dress just look like a summer maxi dress, which was something I was worried about, using such a casual fabric. I have used the pattern before, almost 2 years ago for my Christmas dress, so I knew how it fit and how it went together. I used the size 20 this time around, instead of the 18, as I have put a bit of weight on since then, and while I can still wear that dress. it has gotten quite snug.

Bodice with the lining, boning, underwires and padding added

Close up of beading

The bodice is fiddly, but I got it made in just 2 afternoons. Just like last time with this pattern, I added some extra boning as well as bra underwires for extra support, based on the version Gertie herself made from this pattern. The only difference I made, apart from the size, was to round out the bust points slightly, as the pattern is quite pointy in that region. For a little extra something, I tried adding a few beads to the centres of some of the roses on the bodice to see how they looked, and I really liked the effect. I think it helped the fabric look less day wear and a bit more evening wear.

Some more beading

Once I was done adding beading to the bodice, I cut out the skirt panels. I had about 3.5 meters of fabric left, so I decided to go with an 8 gore flared and slightly gathered skirt. I trimmed the fabric to a width of 43 inches (roughly how long I needed the skirt, with seam and hem allowance) then cut the gores 7.5 inches at the top, flaring out to 25 inches at the bottom, alternating them up and down on the fabric to utilise it the best I could. I attached 4 gores together for the front, then 2 pairs of gores for the back, overlocking the seams as I went. I then sewed the side seams with inserted pockets, nice and big, to make up for those tiny little handbags us women always seem to take to formal events. I then gathered the skirt with 2 rows of long stitches, and sewed it to the bodice, matching up the side seams. The back seam was then sewn up and the zip inserted. I tried it on at this point, and it actually felt a touch looser than I was aiming for, but still fitted, thanks to those shirred back panels. Unfortunately the spare room was not tidy enough to take a full length mirror selfie, so I just took these awkward photos.

Late night selfie!

This sorta shows the fit....

Because the fit isn.t as tight as I was expecting, I may end up adding shoulder or halter straps, to keep everything up and in.

On the Mannequin

Beading and Outlander

As I had not yet decided on what shoes to wear with this dress, I left the skirt un-hemmed at this point and worked on beading the skirt panels. I didn't bother beading every rose, and I also didn't bead any of the back area that I would be sitting on, as I thought that would be uncomfortable. It still took quite a few episodes of Outlander to work on the beadwork, but I think it gives the dress a very subtle, elegant detail.

I took the dress in to work to show my boss, as I was also thinking of wearing it out to a Melbourne Cup day lunch with her. She suggested shortening it to Ballerina (ankle) length, and accessorising with nude coloured heels. I had already been toying with the idea of ballerina length for this dress, so I checked with my brother's fiance to see if she was ok with it, and she was. I'm glad my boss suggested nude heels, as I was struggling to find a pair of shoes that I already owned that looked good with it, but I hadn't tried my nude heels, and I think they finish off the modern look of this outfit.

I still need to decide on something to cover my shoulders and head from the sun during the ceremony (a wrap, hat or parasol) as well as a bag, but I've still got plenty of time. I'd love anyone's opinions on accessories, and also on whether I should go full length or ballerina (ankle) length.


Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Fibre Fest!

Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of checking out the Australian Knitting Guilds 30th Birthday Fibre Fest!! I went with my uncle, who taught me to spin, as well as his friend, who he also taught taught to spin, but who also felts. I wasn't sure what it would be like, or even if there would be much for us spinners to look at and buy, but I was pleasantly surprised. The 30 or so stalls were arranged in a few rooms, corridors and verandahs of the Sisters of Mercy Convent in Singleton, and there was so much to see! Plenty of yarns and knitting needles, but also felting supplies, raw fleeces, carded and dyed wool, silk caps, spinning wheels, carders and looms as well as many beautiful finished products for sale such as afghans, baby booties, scarves, berets, bookmarks, brooches and handbags.

The knitting guild had put together a lovely display of novelty knitted food items, including a birthday cake, and many assorted fruits and vegetables, which I thought were just darling.

We all easily spent our money on lots of goodies, and went home full of ideas and inspiration for our next projects, and even had an invitation from one of the vendors, to come visit her and make use of her drum carders if we wished.

Here's an overview of my purchases for the day:

Fabric. Yes, at a knitting event, I found fabric. Did you doubt that I would? These pieces all look roughly 2m each and were $3 a piece or 5 pieces for $12. Some of them are even Michael Miller prints, so they were a total score!

Hand dyed merino in assorted colours, from Gail at Pleasant View Fibres. I'm planning on making rolags from these and trying a variegated spun yarn.

Silk Caps, the leftover ends of the cocoons, made into these cap things and had dyed. Probably one of the most affordable ways to buy silk to spin.

Recycled Sari Silk. Even cheaper way to buy silk, but will probably need to be blended with something else for strength. $9.50 for 100g (and its very light, so 100g goes a long way)

Some hand dyed merino bits and hand dyed Silk from Susanne's House of Wool

All in all I am super happy with my purchases, and have already began stretching out my silk to prepare it for spinning, as well has combining colours into rolags to spin variegated coloured yarns. I am also planning what to make out of those lovely fabrics, I think the Michael Miller ones will have to be dresses for sure!

Anyone else go to Fibre Fest?


Wednesday, 5 October 2016

2 Lacey Wool Berets

As I get more into spinning my own wool, I like to try different things and challenge myself. So naturally I decided to try spinning a skein as finely as I could.

I was very pleased how my wool turned out. But when I finished it, I realised I now needed a lovely lacey pattern to use it on. I wasn't sure I had the patience to make several of these finely spun skeins, nor the patience to knit or crochet a large item out of such fine wool. So I decided this lace beret pattern I found on Ravelry.

The first 3 rounds

The pattern is well written, and has a diagram, which helped me immensely! I had some trouble on round 4, but after reading the comments on her blog post about this pattern, I figured it out easily enough. When it got to the point of no more increasing, I realised mine was still way too small, so I repeated the increasing pattern for a few more rows.

Unfortunately it still ended up way to small for me, but I decided to finish it anyway and keep it for a gift for a child at a later date.

So I decided to make another, in a larger wool, with a few more modifications. I used my pink and blue hand spun wool, which is about an 8ply weight (but is only 2ply)

I used the same motif at the start, but then increased more with my chains to keep it mostly flat, then I did one more of the design rows, then did a few rows with no increasing, then some slight decreasing, until it fit my head. I finished the bottom edge off with only 1 row of single crochet. I also used the small bit of wool left to make a small pom pom and attached it to the top of the beret

And of course some silly selfies so you can see how it looks on!

I've kinda made this at the wrong time of the year, as we are just into spring, but luckily we are having a bit of a cold snap in this part of Australia, so I'll get a bit of wear out of it yet before summer hits!