Willy Wonka 1

I am making a Willy Wonka suit for a Rugby commercial.

It was lucky that the Costume supervisor had hired a number of suits to see what looks best on the busy celebrity. So I just copied the one that looked great, incorporating a few changes to improve the fit and style. So this suit I will make straight through to finish – no fitting! This saves a lot of time – but YIKES, is also a wee bit scary, having to get it right without being able to check the details!

The waistcoat was interesting to make, since it has got a beautifully shaped collar – this is basically just a one piece facing.

Like I would on a jacket, I ran a bridle along the break line with a piece of salvage from the lining. This pulled the break line in slightly and made the collar sit beautifully.

They chose furnishing fabric for this, it is a nice color, but very thick…

Here is a close up of the trouser waist band… I did not do a great job documenting this process…

I have cut the tailcoat and have started photos more frequently…


Vintage Treasures

My friend Justine has just discovered a cupboard full of old dresses back home. Granny’s bridesmaid dress, aunty’s Sunday best, etc. Real treasures! Her daughter has tried a few of them on and fits them.

So, I have taken the pattern of this lovely old silk dress. And it was not hard, because by now I have got so many block patterns, it is so easy to make anything!

The block serves as a solid starting point, I just move the darts, alter the neckline and other details!

Justine also had a big box of vintage sewing patterns and I took a few to copy. Initially I found it impossible to work out what’s what. The tissue paper nearly disintegrated in my hands, and there were no markings on the pieces apart from different sized wholes! Most patterns had no instructions enclosed, so there.

The most useful pattern to teach me how to read the cryptic information was the most worn one – I followed the tracing lines of an anonymous seamstress (likely to be related to Justine) and understood that the biggest dots denote the grain line. The tiniest dots denote the seam allowance. And the medium dots, they mark everything else… darts, vents… too easy!


Elbow Surgery

My sister in law loves this jumper, she wears it in the morning around the house, gardening and just for feeling cosy and snug. And I can see why, it is a wonderful fit and has a collar that is loose, yet keeps the neck warm. But is starts wearing out at the elbow and needs surgery…

Not a Problem, I thought… can do… can mend… can fix.

To begin with, I simply picked up all the unraveled stitches and worked them with a crotchet hook. In places the yarn was very thin. Then I knitted a patch to fill the hole in the elbow and sewed it down along the edges. The result was not so pleasing… bumpy and thick – sticking out like a sore thumb.

Then I turned to Mr google to find out how to really mend a hole in a knitted garnment and didn’t get anywhere… so I turned to my knitting library and found wisdom in June Hammond’s Principles of Knitting!

Unpicking my handiwork was really tricky, since the yarn around my mending was really fragile…

So what you do is this: find yarn that is the right thickness to start with, and hopefully close in color. Cut a long piece and thread a darning needle to the other end. Pick up the stitches of the hole and knit your first row on a double pointed needle – when you have finished the first row, use the end with the darning needle to sew a few stitches at the end of the row – you basically go over the existing stitches, reinforce them and at the same time fix the knitted patch to the garnment.

Then work the second row and so on and so forth until the hole is filled.

Graft the top of the hole to the knitted patch. Boom. Done!

Turn your attention to the wrong side of the garnment and sew in all loose ends.

Much better…

I’ve got to move it, move it

So no work in the pipeline. Yay! Quick, something for the soul… obviously in my wonderful workroom. I splashed out on some bundles of Japanese fabrics last week, just because I really deserve it after so much hard work. (I have about 5 quilts on the go, but let’s not mention that in this context here, please.)

And out of nowhere came hexagons, once more. Oh no, this will be last time ever, I just couldn’t help it. This time though, I just turned the edges with a cardboard template and zig zaged them all together. Quick as a flash. 

And sure enough, today, just after I finished mounting the layers together, the phone rang…

The backing is some lovely cotton I printed some years ago. It was not big enough, so I added some linen here and there.

At least the workbench is clear again and I can roll it all up and quilt at my leisure.

I’ve  got To move it, move it…

Something else I should share, because it was so much fun – we went with our Asperger Youth group for a visit to  Ella Vista Farm near Baulkam Hills. It is beautifully preserved and maintained by volunteers. 

And finally – work on the house continues, baby steps… we have finished a tiny section of the deck renovation and on the weekend Patrick made the step, connecting old and new! 

Lions ready to roar

Let he story about he lions continue… I finished the last post with four finished lion faces.

I had the shapes of the individual mane pieces cut only roughly, as I sewed them, I used the pattern piece for a template. And I tried not not muddle them all up…

Shapes cut with a tiny seam allowance and turned to the right side.

Then I turned my attention to the ears! White patch pinned to ear pieces.

Zigzagged all patches to the ears. Cut brown away from the back.

Ears sew, turned, stitched to face: Mark with pins, then machine.

All the mane pieces tacked to the face before machining – it was all too thick to use pins.

The seam that joins front and back of the hood marked and sewn.

Edges overlocked and front hem turned and machined.

Face pinned to finished hood and attached by hand.

Neckline marked, cut, overlocked, machined.

Hood pinned and machined to body.

Tail and belt sewn, turned, tip of tail stitched to tail, tail machined to body.

This shot is great: lions neatly folded and packed up, ready to go!!!

And on a quiet suburban street, in the garage of the house in front of which all the trucks are parked, I set up a mobile workshop to finish the size of the bodies after a quick fitting on the starlets.

It seems to work! Cut, overlock and hem!

On my way home, a quick stop at Bilgola Beach, washing off all that preoccupation with work and looking forward to some quiet time.



Proudly Presenting: Field Study

I am not sure when I started knitting this jumper, not that long ago. It was daunting to follow the instructions, it is so complicated at first sight, but since Ann Kingstone has done a marvellous job at writing them with clarity – I managed! 

One of the very daunting steps was the steek for the neckline on the front, dooohhh, it was really simple actually. The steek allowed me to keep knitting the colorwork pattern in the round.

I will love wearing this jumper…

Lions on the lose

I have had a huge amount of work. It will be nice to get a day off soon. Each time a job comes to an end, the phone rings with another job and I just keep going. It is great that it runs so smoothly, since I have not been working for myself very long. There have been sexy neoprene suits for a horror movie, alterations for Mamma Mia the musical, suit alterations… and now LIONS!

I did not have much time at all to work this out. In fact I got the fabrics and design one day and by close of business the next day (yesterday) I had to show the first finished lion… yes, the first, there will be FOUR. And they all will be roaring on set early Wednesday morning.

I found a small person to fit the lion on this morning, that was reassuring!

The producers love the result and the designer has been kind in forwarding enthusiastic emails and texts. I am looking forward to working on set on Wednesday!

Today I got the okay to charge ahead with the remaining lions and I thought it might be nice to document the process. This is so much faster, producing them in a little production line!

I cut all the pieces out!

Then I started the faces, marking where the mouth ought to go on the snout.

Three mouths embroidered on my ancient domestic sewing machine.

Three noses pinned in place.

Here are the snouts in different stages. The sides of the noses have been attached to the snouts. I have cut away excess fabric under the nose. A facing has been attached to the bottom of the  snout.D8626094-0F83-40B1-9D85-10B44625A4A0

Three faces: I markstitched the shape of the face and the placement of the snout. Overlocked and turned the hem. The space under the snout was cut away and overlocked.

Snouts placed and zig zaged to faces. First the top of the nose with orange thread then the sides with white thread. Eyes marked.

Eyes Hand embroidered and edge of the turned.

I think it will be one long day to make the ears, the mane and to attach the heads to the body. I will finish the width and length of the body on the set on Wednesday morning, since… ahem… I do ‘t really have any measurements. Oh, I almost forgot – they also want tails and belts…