Completed :: By Hand London | Anna dress for Gita

My daughter, Gita, in her Anna dress

My beautiful daughter, Gita, in her Anna dress

I really did hope to get this post out on Sunday, but it’s been a little extra busy round at my house. I also don’t know how inspired my blogging content is right now. I’m pretty exhausted, and my brain is a little fried. I’m counting on my lovely photos of my daughter to save the day, and I do want to show her and her new Anna dress off to you, so it’ll be what it is, and that’s as best as I can manage for now.

In my last post, I’d shared all my sewing plans for my cousin’s daughter’s upcoming wedding, yes? Yeah, well, on Monday 13th October, Moshe and I rocked up to see the thoracic surgeon, who booked my darling in for surgery on Thursday 16th. His annual scans following his kidney cancer four years ago showed up some irregular spots in his lungs, and everyone whose opinion mattered decided they should come out. Unfortunately, so did the lower right lobe of his lung, and he spent the next almost two weeks in the hospital, before coming home to recover. It’s been quite a hairy time, as you can imagine, and with mixed emotions, we heard that pathology confirmed what we all feared – those spots were metastasized cancer that had travelled from his kidney up into his lungs, probably been there all this time, and only now had grown large enough to show up.

Preparing an Ayerveda lunch

Preparing an Ayerveda lunch

I knew immediately that the lovely polka dot pink fabric I was going to sew into a lovely dress for myself would not get touched, and I thought about how on earth I would manage to make the dress for Gita I’d promised her to wear to the wedding. I was spending every day at the hospital for those 12 or so days, all day every day. Moshe was not in good shape, and he wanted me there to keep reassuring him that everything was as it should be. I’d come home, take care of housey things like the dishes, the rubbish bins, the laundry, and then pack orders for my dear Stitch 56 customers, before crawling into bed and falling immediately asleep.

She loves preparing food for people

She loves preparing food for people

A couple of days before Moshe came home, so one week to go till the wedding, Gita gave me a “Get out of Jail” card. She said she didn’t want me to be stressed out about the dress, with everything that was going on, and that she’d be perfectly happy to go buy one, which definitely gave me some relief, and stopped the panic that had set in about it. But I was determined to keep my promise, if it was at all possible, and I actually looked forward to the distraction that sewing the dress would be. So, we declared Thursday night the deadline. If I wasn’t far enough into the dress by then, we’d call it off, and she’d go shopping.

Pinning and cutting

Pinning and cutting

By Wednesday night, I hadn’t even started. Moshe had been discharged from the hospital on the Tuesday morning, and I can’t quite get my head around why people kept saying to me it would be much easier for me having him at home. I mean, it was definitely better for him. He was adamant that he was absolutely NOT going to go to rehab, and he couldn’t wait to sit on his own couch at home, with his own telly and his recorded shows (mostly footy of course), and although I was definitely thrilled to have him home, life did get a tad busier really quickly. Suddenly, I was cooking three meals a day, instead of driving to my favourite shop, Melbourne Street Organics, to pick up a Chia pudding for my breakfast, and a couple of their salads with extra tuna or chicken for my lunch and dinner. And then there was the recording and dispensing of meds, endless cups of tea, answering phone calls, and managing visits by our close family and friends, as well as getting work done, etc etc etc. Definitely no time to sew!

So when Thursday came around, the “do or die” day, I was determined that I wasn’t going to be beaten. Gita would have her dress. So I pinned and cut out the pattern pieces, and went to bed.

All pattern pieces cut and marked, ready to sew

All pattern pieces cut and marked, ready to sew

Friday morning, I got up early, as always, and cooked breakfast. I decided to do a self-faced bodice, rather than using the pattern’s facings. I thought the light rayon fabric I was using would sit better around the neckline that way, avoiding the bother of constantly managing the facings that would flap invariably around. I read up Katie’s post and sent Gita out for more fabric. I’d originally bought 3 1/2 metres of the 60″ rayon, and needed another 75cm for the extra bodice pieces. I think the bodice sits so very nicely now, I’m so glad I did that!

So, I’m sewing away, finished the bodice, and rather pleased with the absolutely beautiful french seams on the skirt pieces as I sewed each one in place. And then I had a thought. I do hate it when this happens, because it’s surely an omen from the devil – I thought, “how lovely, look at me, cruising along, getting this dress sewn, I’ll definitely get it done in time at this rate! And no mistakes! How awesome!” Smiled to myself, and hit the machine foot. And then it dawned on me. I’D FORGOTTEN TO LEAVE THE BACK SEAM OPEN FOR THE ZIPPER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

I panicked. And then, I thought of Lizzy, who’d sewn several beautiful Anna dresses already. So, I waited till it was a decent hour, and sent a quick early morning text to SewBusyLizzy to confirm that I could put the zipper into the side seam, and after a confidence-boosting reply – thanks so, so much Lizzy, you’re a life-saver!!! – I carried on.

Here's a close-up of the zipper in its new location - the side seam

Here’s a close-up of the zipper in its new location – the side seam

The rest of the make was fairly uneventful. Well, apart from having to rip out my first try at putting in the invisible zipper. I was following along my Craftsy class with Sunni Standing to install the zipper, but somehow got it all twisted when I tried to sew in the second side. Out came my seam ripper, and out came the zipper. My second go worked perfectly, and all that was left to do was the hem. I wanted desperately to try out my new hem marker, but because the dress was full-length, the marker didn’t reach down low enough. Ah well. I got Gita up on my kitchen table, and pinned the hem up. I had to cut 7 1/2 inches off the length, and by the time I’d hand sewn and pressed the last bit of the hem, it was about 12:30am. But phew! It was done. I’d kept my promise. So, so, so gratifying! And I’m happy to say that when I stood back and looked at it, I was really pleased. I love how it turned out. Gita had waited for me to finish, so she could take it home and look at herself in her own mirror at home, with the shoes and jewellery she’d bought to go with her new dress.

How stunning does my daughter look in her dress! I watched her sashay about the house, and dance around in the garden, with a lightness of foot, feeling lovely and feminine, and with that classic kind of beautiful. I still think these photos, as gorgeous as they are, don’t do her justice. Do you have that happen to you too? Someone you know who’s just stunning, and you can never seem to capture it fully with your camera? Sometimes I can, but I’m not sure that I quite got it this time. Can you see it? I hope so. (I think I’m just way too tired now, editing this post, and I should stop and publish and go to bed!)

Anna for Gita - roses 2

showing a little leg

Here are a few dozen more photos – no, just kidding. Just a few, so you can see how lovely she looks.

Anna for Gita - back view 1

Anna for Gita - back view 2

 

Photo bombed by Java

Photo bombed by Java

Anna for Gita - roses 1

I’d hoped to add in here a photo of her at the wedding, but haven’t been able to get a hold of one just yet. OK, I’m outa here. ‘Night all.

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Pattern: Anna Dress | By Hand London
Size: 14/18 for bodice, tapered to 12/16 on hips
Fabric: Rayon from Darn Cheap Fabrics
Cost: 4.25m at $9.99 p/m = $42.45 (plus an invisible zipper, but I can’t remember how much that cost)
Pattern modifications: fully self-lined bodice instead of using facings provided; lowered v-neck by 1 1/8″; moved zipper from back to right side.

An Anna for Gita

My cousin’s daughter is getting married on Cup weekend in Melbourne. The ceremony will be in town, with a reception out in the Mornington Peninsula at one of the wineries. Should be beautiful. I used up my “The Fabric Store” coupon from The Craft Sessions on a beautiful piece of silk crepe de chine, thinking to make a simple but elegant elastic-waisted dress for myself.

Watermelon crepe de chine

Watermelon crepe de chine

She came over last night, and told me she didn’t have anything to wear to the wedding, so I jumped at the opportunity, and offered to make her a dress. After pouring over all my patterns, she rejected this, rejected that, and finally settled on an Anna. The long version. With a v-neckline. Version 2. Showing her the stunning Anna Rose sewn by the lovely SewBusyLizzy was what made up her mind. I have to admit, that’s one of my very favourite Anna makes, and I’m so excited to be making one for Gita. We’re going fabric shopping on Saturday morning. Will post again then.

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My new Alpaca Chunky Cowl | Sunspun Yarns

Sunspun Alpaca Cowl | Spunspun Yarns (pattern)

Sunspun Alpaca Cowl | Spunspun Yarns (pattern)

So when everyone else’s hearts are singing for joy as the trees begin to blossom, what have  just done? I’ve finished a superbly thick, divinely yummy and soft, alpaca cowl that will keep me warm through the chilly nights and days to come. Ahem… what!!! Well, it’s not all bad, because realistically, we do have quite a few cold spells to live through before we can, with authority, pronounce winter as being behind us.

Cowl doubled over

Cowl doubled over

I used two skeins of Rowan Alpaca Chunky, that I picked up at my favourite yarn haunt, Sunspun Yarns a month or so ago, along with their own pattern for the cowl, and I’m just thrilled with it, I must say. It’s really nice to wear, and I love how it sits nice and flat when I wear it as a long loop, rather than doubled over. I was worried it might stand away a little to much, which on me looks kinda wrong. You know what I mean, yeah? Like it would look quite OK if I was about 6 inches taller, and about 2 dress sizes smaller up top.

Looks great with my fave trench coat!

Looks great with my fave trench coat!

Close-up

Close-up

Anyway, moving right along… I do love it. Took me a little over 2 evenings to finish. Not a bad little project. Very manageable. And when it came time to sew it up into a moebius strip, I used this tutorial for mattress stitch. Worked really well.

So, now I have something that I’ve knit myself, and that’s lovely and warm to wear to The Craft Sessions in a couple of weeks. I so can’t wait!!!

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My current crush – Fashionary

Fashionary-Spring-2014-01

Yep, well, things didn’t turn out quite as I had hoped. I haven’t gotten to start my Lady Skater dress yet, and not only that, but I’ve not been able to do anything crafty for a few months now. Hence, no blog post for weeks and weeks! I developed symptoms of a genetic eye condition I’ve just discovered I have. Quite painful, especially at night. I won’t go into details, in case you get a bit squirmy over that kind of stuff, so please do keep reading. The only thing I’ll say is that I had surgery a couple weeks ago, and although we’re hoping that it will have handled the problem, at least for many years to come, I’m still getting used to seeing with my newly made-over eyes. Long distance is clear as a bell, beautiful in fact. But up close, my vision has gone from manageable to completely blurry, and I have to wear these crummy magnifiers I picked up at the chemist until I see the surgeon again on the 19th of this month.

So now that I have the ability to sit at my computer again, albeit for short bursts at a time, I thought I’d share with you some of what I got up to, right before all that started.

First, to preamble, over at Stitch 56, we’ve got a fabulous project going. Our brand new Blog Writers Team is posting about planning their sewing for the upcoming Aussie spring wardrobe. The fabulous Donna from Sew Independent got the party going with a post about using her Fashionary to do her planning. She has some gorgeous sketches, and as I was reading through her post to publish it, I got all inspired. Out came my Fashionary that I haven’t really touched for months, and I grabbed my favourite pencil and eraser, and began sketching like there was no tomorrow!

I decided to create my own Spring wardrobe, well actually, a Springtime Holiday Wardrobe for our upcoming trip to Adelaide and the Barossa Valley with some friends. Above you can see the first page I did. And see those little ticks next to most of the things on this page? They mean that I’ve already sewn that piece. The others are items I plan on making – if my eyes allow me too! I’m a little terrified of sewing on my machine, or hand sewing, if my near vision is still crap. Picturing all kinds of nasty things!

However. Not to dwell on the downside of things. Clearing my head, and moving forward… I reckon that if I have the above pieces all done, I’ll be pretty much set for our 5-day trip. Would you like to know what all the pieces are? OK, here’s the line-up. I’ve copied the image from above here, so you don’t have to do major scrolling up and down!

Fashionary-Spring-2014-01

  • Left page // left : Hawthorn Dress (Colette Patterns) in Liberty Tana Lawn Strike (Shaukat) with red linen contrast collar and self belt with red linen buckle – DONE
  • Left page // middle : Sorbetto Top (Colette Patterns) in a pretty light blue linen (Tessuti) with appliqued motif in Liberty Tana Lawn Stanley (Shaukat) – DONE
  • Left page // middle : Zinnia Skirt (Colette Patterns) in Liberty Tana Lawn Stanley (Shaukat) – DONE
  • Left page // right : Judy Top (Tessuti) in light blue linen (Tessuti) – nearly finished
  • Left page // right : Moss Skirt (Grainline Studio) in teal linen (Tessuti) with Liberty Tana Lawn Stanley lining (Shaukat) – still to make
  • Right page // left : Scout Top (Grainline Studio) in Valori Wells Wish Voile – DONE
  • Right page // left : Black pants (RTW from The Ark Clothing Company) – HAVE
  • Right page // middle : Sorbetto Top (Colette Patterns) in navy rayon (Fabric.com) – DONE
  • Right page // middle : Julie Pants (StyleArc) in navey bengaline (StyleArc) – still to make

So now I’ve got my plan laid out for me, and I know exactly what to work on. Mind you, in the meantime, I’m going to The Craft Sessions in 4 weeks (are you going too?), which I just can’t wait for, and I still need to finish some mid-seasonal items to pack for that! Back to the drawing board, except that I’m not sure I can see clearly enough to draw anything right now. Might have to handle all that with basically a scribbled list on a sheet of scratch paper. I’ll let you know how I go. Fingers crossed!

Now, you might think I stopped there. You know, I mean with only one double spread in my Fashionary. U-uh! I couldn’t stop drawing! I pulled out my iPad, opened Evernote with my list of patterns, and just drew and drew and drew! Take a look at this:

Fashionary-Spring-2014-03

And this…

Fashionary-Spring-2014-02

And there’s more! After another couple of spreads, I decided I had to STOP! I was being a little silly. After all, my hobby is SEWING!!! not drawing, and think of all the sewing time I was missing out while I was busy sketching! Crazy! So I closed the book, and put it away. I do still keep looking at it all though. Can’t help myself. I’m loving all those little figures with their petite little feet, and long elegant arms. And besides, I’m really excited, because for the first time, I’m creating a coordinated way to pick what I sew, and not do it just higgledy piggledy. Very excited! Do you have a Fashionary? How do you use yours? Do you just love it to bits too?

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Lady Skater Dress | A Sanctioned Copycat

Sticky-taping pattern for Lady Skater in chocolate brown jersey

Sticky-taping pattern for Lady Skater in chocolate brown jersey

It was almost a year ago that I first came across Sophie from the well-read “Cirque-du-Bébé” blog. She had just posted her stunning pics of her Lady Skater dress, a pattern I’d been thinking about making. She’d used a gorgeous chocolate-brown knit from The Fabric Store. After emailing Sophie to ask if she minded my copying her, she graciously said “no problem!” I immediately called the shop in Melbourne, but they’d sold out, so I quickly tried the Brisbane shop, and ta-dah! they had some still in stock, and shipped it out to me. Since then, I met up with Sophie at The Craft Sessions last year, where I took two classes with her to get myself back into sewing again, after a couple decades of nothing. She’s just fabulous. Had a great time with her, and apart from making my first of several Wiksten Tank Tops, I learnt heaps about sewing with knits.

Now, I know I’d pledged to make a couple of other patterns this month for Me-Made-May’14, but I’ve had some time-drains these past couple of weeks, and everything I’d planned kinda went out the window. One little delicious interruption has been my new grandson, as you know, but then I’ve also been dealing with horrible stinging eye problems at night, and a bit of a cold too.

However, since there’s no pressure or failure allowed in MMM, I’m going to just move on, and get something done. I reckon this dress is just perfect. It’s a quick make, from what I’ve read around the traps, and my fabric is the perfect weight for this time of year. I can throw a cardi on if it’s a bit cooler, or leave it off for these insane over-20°C days we’re continuing to have here!

Oh, and by the way, I’m not saying I did, but I might have bought some Liberty fabric last night as I was pouring over the interwebs at all the different Lady Skater dresses. In particular, this one by Paunnet, and this one (minus the “hacked for nursing” bit of course!) by Lauren on Baste + Gather, and this one by Lauren on Lladybird. All short-sleeved makes of the pattern, and I’ve been loving the Kilburn Rose pattern in Liberty tana lawn for ages now, so when I saw it in Dufour Viscose Jersey, I thought I should get it, before it disappears of the face of the earth, like so many of my other favourites have done! (Lessons I’ve Learned #53: if you really love it, and want to avoid deep disappointment, grab it while it’s still available!)

I also added in a few other fabrics I have been wanting, but this time, instead of buying 20 million metres of each, as I usually do (you know, for “just in case the pattern I end up using needs more”), I checked out my patterns, and bought only as much as each one said. I’ve just watched a little free video called “Things to Bear in Mind When Choosing Fabric” on Susan Khalje‘s website, and I’m changing my ways! I mean, what am I going to do with all those bits of fabric I’m left with at the end of a project!

Liberty fabric purchase form Shaukat

Liberty fabric purchase form Shaukat

Here’s what I bought…

  1. Mabelle J – Tana Lawn – – Butterick B6026 shirt in the sleeveless version
  2. Kilburn Rose – Dufour Viscose Jersey – Lady Skater dress
  3. Jody B – Tana Lawn – Vogue Patterns V1323 top
  4. Jack and Charlie A – Tana Lawn – I want to do something a bit rad with this, not just a plain shirt. Thinking the Vogue Patterns V9004 top, and make the sleeves longer, but cuffless, just a fold-over with button closure.
  5. Mabelle A – Tana Lawn – Butterick B6026 shirt in the sleeveless version. I know, it’s the same as the first one in Mabelle, but I don’t mind having two shirts in the same pattern, do you do that sometimes? I’ll see though, might change my mind when I get to making it.

OK, back to finish sticky-taping the pattern!

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MMM’14 Update plus a little baby news!

Me and baby

Me and baby

Finally! After waiting and waiting and waiting. Due Date + Nineteen Days of waiting! We now have a darling new little grandson! He was born last Sunday in the afternoon. On Mothers Day – perfect, yes? My amazing daughter had stuck to her guns, and allowed her baby to say when he was ready to come out and meet us. After reading and researching and thinking and discussing, she’d armed herself with the knowledge that, for so many reasons, it was best to avoid being induced, best to avoid having a cesarian, and best to allow nature to lead the way.

I am so infinitely proud of my daughter. Her calmness, and her intelligence, her ability to sift through the mountain of opinions out there on the interwebs, and in books and in medical testimony, and do the thinking required to resolve for herself the questions she had about what was going to serve her baby’s best interests. An ambassador for natural versus contemporary fashion dictates, she stood steadfast in her convictions, and without potential stubbornness, faced the concerns and questions of her family and peers with a clear mind, and confident grace that I am so in awe of.

I spent the weekend – well, until about 4pm Sunday when we got The Call to announce baby’s entrance into the world – pacing the floor, trying not to bite my nails, watching the telly, and knitting. On Saturday afternoon, before labour had begun, I couldn’t stand the waiting any longer, and I said to Moshe, “How about coming for a drive with me?” He of course wanted to know where we were headed, and I said, “Surrey Hills.” “Yeah?” he said. “OK.”

So we headed off to Sunspun. As you know, I’d gotten it into my head that I wanted to knit a few little baby hats with little matching booties. I’ve been collecting patterns. Each time the Purlbee newsletter would come round with a newborn pattern, I saved it in a special folder, and lately, I’m sure I’ve spent way too much time on Ravelry, finding new and lovely little patterns that would find their way into the shopping cart.

Purlbee - Heirloom Hats for Newborns - WIP

Purlbee – Heirloom Hats for Newborns – WIP

By Saturday night, I’d already rewound both skeins of Shibui Cima, and cast on the 108 stitches for the first little hat. By Sunday afternoon, walking around the house in my dressing gown, the ball of wool in my pocket, the tiny 12″ 2.75mm circular needle click-clacking as I walked, I’d done about a third of the hat. I desperately wanted to have the hat finished by the time the baby was born, but the little darling popped out and we rushed down to the hospital to meet him.

Purlbee - Heirloom Hats for Newborns in Shibui Cima

Purlbee – Heirloom Hats for Newborns – finished!

So, you can perhaps understand when I say I haven’t really had my attention on Me-Made-May’14? Yeah. I’ve worn a couple of my hand-sewn clothes, but no photos to show for it, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. And as for sewing? Nothing much happening there either. Lucky there’s still half of May left!

Are you doing MMM’14? How are you doing with your pledge?

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A hankering for knitted hats & mittens

Wiksten - Snoflinga Hat

Wiksten – Snoflinga Hat

I woke this morning to no baby (my daughter is now 16 days past her due date, and doing well). Everyone else in the house was still asleep. I did my usual morning run. Feed the dogs, boil the kettle, make a @Whole30 breakfast, and have some “me-time” with my emails.

Brooklyn Tweed - Woodruff Mittens in Shelter Homemade Jam

Brooklyn Tweed – Woodruff Mittens, and Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Homemade Jam

I actually don’t remember now which email it was exactly that led me down the wool path, but I soon found myself wrapped up in Ravelry and Brooklyn Tweed and Wiksten patterns and yarn choices, and before you could blink an eternity away, I’d clicked and clicked and clicked my way through the checkouts.

Wiksten Cozy Purl Ridge Mittens

Wiksten – Cozy Purl Ridge Mittens

I can’t tell you how many winters I’ve gone without any gloves! Ever since I lost my beautiful Italian yellow kid leather gloves with angora lining, I’ve been trying to get myself another pair. Problem has been that, by the time it’s wintery weather, and I’m reminded that it’s time to start the search again, the shops have already sold out of the size 6 1/2 gloves, and I’m screwed.

Alana Dakos - Oak Trail Hat

Alana Dakos – Oak Trail Hat

Thank goodness for Me-Made-May’14! I’m all inspired with making things for myself again, and I realized that a new hat or two (my very old black beanie is just too sad now) and new gloves are just a couple of clicks, some international shipping travels, and a little knitting time away! Perfect.

I’m also waiting to find out if our new grandchild will be a boy or a girl. As soon as I know, I’ve got these lined up to knit while I wait for my Brooklyn Tweed wool to arrive.

Purl Bee - Newborn Hats

Purl Bee – Newborn Hats

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MMMay’14 | Day 4 – Archer Shirt

MMMay14 - Day 4 - 01

MMMay14 – Day 4 – 01

Last night, I went out for dinner and then on to the movies, wearing my Grainline Studio Archer shirt. RTW dress, and everything else.

MMM-14 - Day 4 - 02

MMM-14 – Day 4 – 02

Tonight, I’m going to tackle the first of my skirts I am making for MMM’14, the red linen. First task is to sort out the pattern pieces, and lay them out on my soon-to-be-ironed fabric. Probably won’t get to do much more than that tonight, after a fabulous day with family celebrating my mother-in-law’s birthday, running around with my little 2-year-old grandson, Austin, who at one point said, in response to me asking him to come to me, “No, I’m busy.”

I wanted to wear something me-made today, but unfortunately, everything’s either summer-weight, or not yet made :)

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