Project Runway: FoxParse – Season Two

So. Project Runway FoxParse happened at the start of the year, and it was pretty fun. I created a whole heap of new things to sell and showed them off in a mini capsule collection runway. It cost me a grand total of $500+ and I recouped…uh $200 of that. Maybe. It was a fun night but perhaps not a raging success. It was called ‘She Came From Beyond’ and I have made a photo album here so you can look and go ooh err. C’mon, do it.

This time around, I am doing another capsule collection as part of the Curvy Couture Roadshow (details of the first day in Perth are here!) which is doing a whistle stop tour of Australian Capital Cities! Woo! That’s A LOT OF PRESSURE. (there’s also a fundraising page here, that would be rad if you would look at it and maybe chuck a dollar or two our way).

So instead of just complaining on twitter about trying to get stuff done, I am going to do a bit of a production blog. To keep myself on track, to keep people interested and to keep a handle on my spending and making.

So here we are at part one: Design and Budgeting

These are the designs I have so far. OH HO HO POST ITS, YOU CAN TELL I WAS WORKING HARD THAT DAY!

Image

HAHA, SKETCHING.

Look One: A black satin swing dress, sleeveless, with a band of silver fabric on the bottom edge.

Look Two: a Grecian style maxi dress with long felt feather epaulettes. It will be a pale grey colour, with black or silver belting.

Look Three: Silver boatneck tshirt, loosely fitted. An A-line, hi-lo skirt, with feather embroidery along the ‘tail’.

Look Four/Extra Piece: A capelet, make of felt feathers, dip dyed. Tied with a thick black ribbon.

At the moment I’m calling the whole bollocks ‘CORVIDAE DOMINA’. Lady Bird, I guess, but when we’re talking corvids, we’re looking at big black birds with beady eyes and blood on their beaks. Big wings and loud voices. Huginn and Muninn. The one’s who watch the battlefield.

Budgetwise, I need to keep things A LOT cheaper than last time. No raw silk and handmade lace collars. No overblown spending. I’m sticking to easy to get a hold of fabric, dark colours, with embellishments. I’m hoping to keep costs under $150 all up.

It’s quite an undertaking to make even a little micro collection, doods. I am really pulling my hair out at how much work I have ahead of me. And the money involved. But with all creative undertakings, I am excited and terrified.

 

 

 

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Quilting is For Babies

And I didn’t even make a ‘proper’ quilt! But I tell you what, I tells ya Mabel, quilts are deceptively simple when all you have at your disposal is scrap fabric (more on that later), a small table space and a smaller domestic sewing machine. But I fought on and persevered, my fine friends. I did it. And I will probably never do it again. BEHOLD, THE QUILT.

ImageI’m preeeeetty proud of it, considering. It is wonky on all counts. But it’s for a child so hey, he won’t judge. OR WILL HE. (He won’t) HE MIGHT (stop it).

So, let’s break it down.

I cut out little animal and fruit shapes. This alone too me about 7 goes, because I am a) rubbish at shapes b) impatient c) distracted easily or d) all of the above.

ImageSo we’ve got bunnies, apples and fish. The fish I sewed together verrry simply, as they were going under a layer of crystal chiffon so didn’t need to be neat. Like this!

ImageMAGIC! So the pond? It’s a piece of chiffon sewn over a piece of the stretch ribbed stuff you put on the sleeve ends of hoodies. I inserted the fish in between the layers so they kind of move about with a bit of a shake of the blanket. But they LOOK like they’re under water. Sort of. I thought I was being pretty clever at the time.

The apples, I went with a rustic kind of look. Wait, did I say rustic? I MEANT SHITTY AND HASTY. They’re made from soft felt and well, they will survive the rough and tumble world of toddlers better this way. Trust me, I tested it by trying to destroy one.ImageThat white dot isn’t some kind of felt syphalis, it’s a velcro dot. Shit is mad awesome, yo. They’re stick-on, but not stick-on enough so you need to stitch them on. But still, the magic of velcro! I sewed the other side of the dots to the tree shape I’d cut out. I then edged the tree, which I couldn’t be bothered hemming in any way, with rikrak wavy stuff. I had bought a faffillion different colours of it in the Great RikRak Famine of 2012 and hadn’t used it yet.

ImageWith the bunnies, I sewed them properly, like a grown up. But first, I had to do some of the worst had embroidery seen since Grade 4. But they still look cute.

ImageUNLESS YOU TURN THEM OVER AHAHAHA OH GODS.

ImageHave you ever heard the phrase ‘You can tell a good tailor because his inside stitches are as good as his outside stitches’. This is something I aspire to, sure, but it’s not going to happen when I have maybe 5 hours of not sleeping a week to make things (and blog and dye my hair, two things I haven’t done in maybe 6 weeks +).

So I stitched the bunnikins together, stuffed them full of some wadding I keep handy for stuffing things with a fury. I then inserted a ribbon up each of their adorable little clackers and sewed them shut.

ImageI also made them a little bunny burrow. It’s a circle with a half circle pouch. You sew the free end of the ribbon into the bottom of the pouch, so that your little bunnies don’t escape. Then I cut out a green fabric ‘hill’. I got to about hour two of ‘Armageddon‘ and I thought ‘Hey! Why not try some freestyle embroidery stitching on my sewing machine that DOESN’T ALLOW THAT AT ALL!’ I blame an overdose of Aerosmith, but it turned out pretty good.

ImageCool looking grass or perhaps the flames of Hell? We’ll never know.

So! That was all actually the easy part. The really fucking difficult part was sewing the three pieces onto the star filled background piece. Small sewing machines are NOT meant for that kind of large scale thing, but I managed. Then I had to put the top sheet, the wadding I’d bought on sale, and then the bottom sheet. Kind of easy, except for the constant slipping of the three layers and the fact that fat wads of fabric don’t always stay straight. It was a more labourious than you’d reckon.

But finally. FINALLY. I could attached the edging. This I had from a failed bag making attempt and it was over four metres. I won’t show you a close up of that, because I really ballsed it up, but after repeated attempts it stayed on and straight and I stopped having to unpick it. And that first picture is the finished product. Aww yiss.

All of the fabric I used was from scraps or fabric I’ve bought and not used. It was pretty cathartic to do! I have a shitload of scraps and yards of fabric that I won’t use for anything realistic and to be able to re-porpoise them into something for someone else was great.

If I had to rate this project, I would give it 7.5 out of 10. It was very, very different to what I normally make and had a lot of new skills to throw me off. But I like the finished product, for all my bitching.

 

 

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Unfinished Business AKA The Duel You Have With Yourself Everytime You Want To Make Something New

Ugh, what a title. That’s too much. That title is like when you say ‘just one piece of broccoli Mum’ and she gives you 3 and smiles at you like she’s giving you a gift. The gift of NOPE. Nope, and vitamins.

Hennyway, this week for me has been about knocking a few projects off the Unfinished Business pile. That psychological barrier to new and exciting projects. The mountain of YeahIWillGetToItShutUp.

My piles, let me show you them (I messed them around a bit to make you feel better, honest)

stash

Stop judging me, you jerks!

First cab off the rank is a shirt I’ve had cut out for about a month now. Ugh. It’s in this beatiful thick cotton and it’s covered in beetles! Yay! Which works in well for my Witching for Winter fashuns theme. I am lazy, and not in the mood for drafting, so it’s sleeveless. Which hopefully means I can be Satanic in Summer or something equally flippant. Yeah!

bug shirt

I used my tried and true blouse pattern for this one (remember?) and I’m happy with it. Bit … gapey in the sleeve holes, but I’ll be wearing it with long sleeve tops over/under it so who cares, mang. I used a slightly different technique in attaching the tie to the neckline, in that I paid attention to the line I was sewing and ironed things. It’s worked marvellously in the past for things I’ve made for other people, so why not for me!

bugssssss

Second project is the horror of the tracky dacks dress. I’ve made one of these before and while comfy, definitely makes me feel about 4 years old. I’ve made it into a more low cut, flouncy skirt thing, to give it a bit of difference but let’s be honest kids. I’m dressing for a play date. I remember Mum once telling me that she used to get a bit of grief for dressing me in black when I was a baby. Thankfully, that was in no way a precurser for how I dress as an adult. Now look at me! Wearing colour all the…oh.

dressssss

This dress was a bit finicky to do. Tracksuit pant material can be a real bastard to sew. It stretches as you sew, almost like lycra, if you’re not painstakingly guiding it through and not allowing it to stretch, you’re gonna end up with this noise.

rolled hem

ROLLED EDGES. UGH. RAGE. Well, it would be rage if a) it wasn’t a tracksuit dress that I will only be wearing on weekends and b) I was making it for someone other than me, the sloppiest of all slops. This dress is comfy as hell. So warm! And FITS LIKE A GLOVE. It’s about as sexy as a tracksuit pants material dress can be. I think. It doesn’t look too bad and will break me out of my jeans-long jumper-sneakers uniform when I’m not working. That’s all I ask.

Look, these two pieces are not much. And the photos are terrible. But they’re two projects I wanted to get done in a pile of about 30 for myself and 12 for other people. I will always put other people’s and paid sewing work ahead of my own stuff, because that’s the professional thing to do but sometimes I just need to make things that remind me of why I started sewing to begin with. Fun clothes. Stuff that no one else has. Me stuff. Me me me. And if you’re wondering why I’m not in the pictures, it’s because it’s COLD and RAINING and I DIDN’T WANNA GET WET. So ner. But yes, sewing stuff for myself makes me feel good. Even when it fucks up. Because I made it. Let’s not get all metaphysical here, but I think the completion of two projects I’ve been putting off has brightened my world a little.

So. The REAL purpose of this post though, is to gee-up other people into completeing one thing off your Unfinished Business pile. I want to see some commitment, you guys, and I’ll accept small projects. What’s something you’ve had cut out and waiting to go for ages, but you just can’t bring yourself to make?

Tell me. I’ll listen. I’ll encourage. I’ll send you a lolly for finishing. A real actual lolly. We can all look at our finished products and feel nice and say nice things to each other!

Won’t that be great? We’ll GET STUFF DONE. We’ll ACHIEVE GOALS. We’ll KICK ARSE. We’ll GROW BEARDS.

Well, maybe not that last one.

Maybe.

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Return of The Stitch Club

Every face tells a story about how I feel when I blog

I know, right? Where HAVE I been?

Well, lets be honest here. Blogging is a sonnovabish. I used to write like hell when I was younger and there wasn’t an internet. But that’s completely different to finding something interesting to say to people who aren’t me. Do you want to read about vampires who get migraines from having sex? No. Me neither. So shut up, 16 year old Jess and get back to that homework.

Hennyway, I have decided to bring Stitch Club back, because I have a veritable dearth of outstanding sewing to do and I want that motivation. And I have some designing stuff I want to nut out and get some feedback on, or at least post all over the internet like a rookie mistake. And I really like writing ridiculous posts with links to all kinds of crap.

I promise more pictures and videos. I promise to swear a lot. I will also do some challenges. Because I respond well to pressure. And I have a lot of love to give.

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The Kittenmas Dress

Let’s go back to steadier ground, shall we, in the realm of sewing and swearing a bit and getting pin-stabbed in the foot.

For the last few years, I have made myself a Christmas Dress. This is a throwback to when I was little and my Mum would make me a dress for Christmas, usually involving long mutton sleeves, a sash belt and some very Christmassy print fabric. Holly. Ribbons. I think smocking was involved. I seemed to own a lot of smocked dresses.

Hennyway! This years dress I found the fabric for in Spotlight Geelong, a warehouse of madness in the town of my birth. It’s a beautiful reproduction print of 1950s kittens playing with ribbon. ADORABLE. I can’t help but look at my own rack and be happy to see kittens. LOOOOOOOK AT IT.

KITTENZ

I cannot look away.

Another cheezy addition to this creations is POMPOMS. Little red pompoms. I was influenced a little by Kimbra’s dress in her ‘Cameo Lover’ music clip. Great use of fabric stiffener in that there clip, might I add. (Ooh err, Vicar!)

kittenmas

I used the same pattern as the Garden Wedding dress, but added drafted cap sleeves, if only because I wanted MOAR POMPOMS. I hand-gathered the skirting, much to my own serious eye failure and pin prick hell.  I always say ‘Never again’ with that noise, but I always end up doing it this way. ALWAYS. CURSE MY SASSAGE FINGERS. Getting the trim to stay pinned on was problematic too. The trim is made up of a very loose knitted flat cord, which refused to stay on a pin and will slide all over the shop.

Anyway, here is an ACTION SHOT of how I zigzag stiched the pompom trim onto the dress.

action shot

Added a red sash belt made from good old reliable polypop fabric, just to break it up a little. Tied it too tight and spent the day holding in terrible farts. Let this be a warning to you.

GORY SIDE NOTE: I was sewing barefoot last night and managed to slide my foot over the carpet, embedding a pin RIGHT UP TO THE HILT in the ball of my foot. I had to use tweezers to pull it out but afterwards I was proclaimed fucking KING OF ENGLAND so that was ok.

I love the way the skirt floofs out and the neckline sits with the pompoms. It’s a very cheezy dress, really, but that’s what christmas is for me – an over the top, kitsch, Doris Day musical extravaganza. Or that’s how I want it to be. You watch, there’ll be pink gin and cranberry sauce spilt on this in 4 days time. I will not care, as I only get to wear this twice this year. Oh kittens! How I wish you could be on me 364!

10 out of 10, betches. Why am I still rating these things? Because Christmas, that’s why. And I like to give myself tiny little congratulations in blog form.

Please enjoy the song that inspired the dress. OR NOT. WHATEVER DOODS, RUIN CHRISTMAS, SEE IF I CARE.

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Colour Coded Fallout

Last week I had something happen to me that hasn’t really happened in a long time. I was harrassed by two middle aged men. In broad daylight. Repeatedly. What started them off was my hair. They yelled ‘Check out the hair on that!’ and then followed me into the building. I was waiting for friends, but as I’d turned up early I had to wait alone. No problem normally. Plenty of people to look at and plenty of thoughts in my head.

The guy who’d yelled at me originally came up to ask if the carpets match the drapes. My response was ‘Please go away’.

“Come on, it’s just a question. Do you like it? Dying your hair like that?”

Stupidly, I snapped: “Of course I do. I wouldn’t do it otherwise.”

“Do you dye your pussy then?”

“Go away.”

“Your tits look great in that dress by the way.”

“Fuck off or I’ll call that security guard over and you’ll be kicked out.”

“Ooooooh, I’ll leave you alone then. No need to be a bitch, I was just making conversation…” BLAH BLAH BLAH

He and his mate walked off, back up the escalator and out of the building. My friends arrived. I felt immediately relieved and decided not to worry about it. Why let that crap fuck with my mood? Said goodbye to friends and started making my way home. I was glad I’d worn such a light floaty dress in 40 degree heat. But by now I was second guessing my decision. If it’d worn my usual black and covered up, would those guys have said anything?

“Hey fashion police! Aren’t you watching the movie?”

They’d waited out the front of the…wait, what?

Hey fashion police?

What?

Look. Dudes. Up until now I was ready to paint you with the creepy sexual old guy type but now I see that you’re just neanderthals. Fashion police? Because I’m wearing a nice dress? Because I’ve got purple hair?

Bish plees.

Anyway, long rambling sob story aside, this little incident is one of many that occured last month whenever I busted out the colours and the dresses. When I wore darker colours, when I blended into the usual workaday world of Melbourne town, I received no looks, not a glance out of the ordinary. This was my normal world.

Every. Single. Day. that I wore florals or brights, I got a slurry of attention. I had blokes smiling at me, women giving me the up-and-down, people at work and out and about commented on how nice I looked. I imagine this is what all the lovely women I know experience every day.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Because either I’m being all ‘boo hoo poor ugly me’ or I’m being ‘effin people. What a bunch of bastards’ or I’m being vain OR I’m being smug OR I’m asking for people to comment with ‘Oh but you’re so pretty!’  OR OR OR I don’t know. I can only tell what I feel about it.

I staunchly don’t like being ‘pretty’, because that’s what my Mum wants me to be. I like being scary or brave or funny or fiesty or maybe festy but tough at least and a bit of a boy (albeit a boy with large tits and hips made for babies. I weep for my inability to look good in a suit) I want to be the hero, not the damsel. This dictates what I wear or at least, how I mentally see what I wear as an outward projection of how I want people to see me. Phew! So by wearing black and boots and stuff, I want to be seen as COOL and FIGHTY and BRAVE. When I wear dresses or ‘girlie’ things, I feel intensely uncomfortable and swear 8 times as much just in case people think I am a GASP! Girl. Woman. 32 year old female who should know better. Whatever. I’ll fight you.

When I started Sewvember, I really wanted to push myself sartorially as well as with dat sewing machine, because I’ve come to terms with my lumpy space princess of a body and decided that summer was the time to start wearing things that didn’t absorb the sun so much. I wanted to be happy and colourful and feel like a 1950s movie star. I wanted that very much. So I did it.

What scared me originally was the years of women, some friends some not, who felt they could comment on my appearance in those mothering tones that indicate that dress I’m wearing would look lovely on someone else. THIS is what I was afraid of. A thousand judgy judges, judging the fuck out of me.

But oddly, I didn’t even contemplate the male side of it, mostly because I’m ‘one of the guys’ crossed with ‘the fat friend’, right? The other women in my social group get the adoring hordes. I get things like video games and D&D and pints. I like this trade. I’m not saying that the adored ones don’t get alllll that, they certainly do, and they certainly should do, but I never felt like I had the pressure of being attractive.  And it IS pressure.

I am/was protected by a little bubble of being blokey and rude and schlubby. Easy!

So when I stopped wearing my Jess Uniform of tshirt/skirt/boots and started putting myself in things like COLOURS and MOTHERFLIPPIN DRESSIES, taking photos of myself and allowing people to comment on here, I remembered the real life stuff. How dressing in colours means you get attention, that colours draw the eye, especially when they’re on boobs and arses and stuff like that.

To be honest, the little altercation above made me want to shave my head and move to a yurt and grow horses in pots and eat cheese.

But I decided that I would just ignore it and enjoy wearing colours. Because this is the NEW JESS who gives THE ZERO AMOUNTS OF FUCKS ABOUT WHAT ANYONE THINKS. New Jess TOTES wears dresses and fights and swears and it’s ok. I keep reminding myself about it, when I pull out the things I’ve made and choose to wear them. This is just a dress, it is not a comment on who I am, other than someone who makes their own clothes.

New Jess still gives fucks about how I can’t stop people from looking at me when I wear a nice dress. Or commenting. Or being disgusting pigs. Or being nice.

New Jess probably needs to give zero fucks about that too, I guess.

Much harder to do than just giving up the blacks for colour.

MOTHERFLIPPIN PERSONAL STORIES YO. I feel like I should be saying ‘And that’s my Australian Story’ now, or something.

A Christmas Wreath For Lazy People

Hello, it’s fecking Christmas soon! Always sneaks up on me. Like a fecking ninja. But I love decorating. LOVE IT.

Sadly, the last house move ended with the loss of all Christmas decorations. Last year there was NOTHING IN THE HOUSE. No baubles, no tree. I was a bit sad, I’ll be honest. So this year, I’ve made myself some damn Christmas and in the spirit of the season, I thought I would share how I made it in case you, YES YOU, need a bit of a cheap and cheerful in your life.

I used so you might want to also have:

  • Green felt – Around $1 an A4 square or $2 for half a meter
  • Cardboard – Free from any boxes you might have or from the supermarket
  • Fabric glue. Not made from ponies, just tasty tasty chemicals
  • Scissors!
  • A pen!

So. Get that felt and those scissors. Cut out a faffillion leaf shapes. Or about 50. Like this! They don’t need to be perfect or uniform. They just need to be leafy looking.

leaves

Get out your pen and your cardboard and sketch out a doughnut shape. As big or as small as you like. I chose to trace around a dinner plate for the outside and a toast plate for the inside, but freehand circles are crazy. Do it. I dare you. Then get the scissors and cut that doughnut out.

cardboard

Now this is the bit with the glue. You need to STICK the LEAVESto the CARDBOARD. I’m EMPHASISING this because I stuck FELT to my FINGERS a couple of times and ALSO to the TABLE.

patterns

QUICK NOTE: When you stick the very first layer of leaves down, make sure you only stick down the half that’s going under the next layer. You should be able to lift up ‘front’ half of the leaf. Wait, let me jump ahead in time and show what I mean.

folders

Seeeee? When you go around in a big circle, you’re going to need to join the leaves up in a neverending seemless circle of CHRISTMAS by slotting the last leaves under the first lot. It’s not as difficult as I’m making it seem. You’ll get it. You’re smart.

So once you have completely covered the cardboard doughnut, it’s gonna look pretty boss. See that lovely leafy pattern? Oh, that bow? That’s optional.

full wreath

To make the bow, I cheated like a Cheaty McCheaterpants. Cut! One long rectangle of red fabric. Glue! The edges under so you don’t get a ratty finish. Cut! Another thin piece of red fabric for the ‘knot’ and the Cinch! it in the middle like a belt on a girl. Hide! All the ratty bits underneath and Glue! it onto the wreath so that you can cover any leaf mistakes you may or may not have made.

Great success!

I’ve got a few dresses I’m going to make this month that I want to show off, so I guess this means I’m keeping the blog.

Whatever, doods.

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