Monday, July 29, 2013

Aussie Curves: Homemade

Showing off my new do again (I know I need to colour the roots - shut up):

Here's my pretty dress what I made all by myself!

Have been anticipating this final week of Aussie Curves for a long time. I knew I wanted to make something FABERLOUS (correct spelling) for this final week as I did once actually know how to sew quite well. I studied fashion design originally before switching to journalism and completed a Cert IV in Clothing Production where we did pattern making and the like. 

Unfortunately my skills have been left to fester for a while and mainly only manifest themselves when a hem needs to be taken up (which is pretty often cos I'm a short-arse and all fat-bitch shops seem to think all fat bitches are giants). 

In spite of this I knew I wanted to sharpen my rusty skills for this challenge and make use of a favourite bit of fabric that's been decorating the foot of my bed for the past couple of years. So this is how the above dress started it's life: 

This is a gorgeous hand-appliqued cotton wall-hanging that I bought from the night markets in Luang Prabang when backpacking through Laos just over four years ago.

The fun shapes and bright colours have been calling to me from the foot of bed though: "Wear meeeee ......weeeaaaar meeeee Eeeeevieeee". So it was time to answer the call and make it into a frock.

I was to do this with the help of my trusty antique Singer sewing machine which I think was amongst one of the first electrified versions as it's quite similar to the old cast iron treadle machines and it weighs a friggin TON. It was originally built into a table/cabinet but we didn't have the storage for the table so Mum took it apart for me and had it serviced by a Singer machine repair place. 

Ever since then it's been my favourite machine. It's so sturdy and reliable, it can sew through any fabric from the lightest chiffon to the heaviest denim or leather as well as stretch and jersey without pulling and distorting the fabric or jamming. It only does straight stitch though - nothing else, so I borrow Mum's newer machine to do zig-zag to finish the seams as I don't have an overlocker. 

My first step was to make the pattern. I only bothered to do this for the top half as I knew I wanted to do a gathered style skirt which probably wouldn't require a perfect pattern. When I studied clothing production at TAFE nearly ten years ago, we all made custom pattern-blocks for each other based off the measurements of a work-partner in the class. You got to keep the patterns that were made for you as custom-fitted pattern blocks that you could then base all future patterns on.

Being out of practice though and because I only had a teeny amount of the special appliqued wall-hanging fabric and didn't want to ruin it, I decided to make a toile first.

A toile is like a practice version that you make out of cheap calico first to test the pattern - bridal couturiers often do this when making bespoke wedding dresses.

Lucky I did this because the pattern did fuck up. It was only made by another TAFE student afterall so it couldn't be expected to be perfect. It was way too long in the armhole/bust area which I found was easily fixed by pinning out a few cms of fabric. I then adjusted the paper pattern to reflect where the pins were in the toile.

Note that while for the front part of the toile I made it in a standard non-stretch calico (similar to the cotton woven fabric of the wallhanging) I opted for a stretch jersey on the back half to make it more stretchy and comfy. Hence I also adjusted the pattern to make the back more fitted or it might turn out a bit saggy.

Next step was sewing time!

For the shape of the bottom, skirt-half of the dress I traced and copied the style of the ASOS peace sign smock dress that I'm wearing here. It fit quite nicely and I liked how the hem curved down at the back. Because of my prominent bum I often find it a bit of a problem with straight-hemmed skirts that climb up a lot shorter at the back so this style was perfect for me.

As a kind of cheat to get the gathered waistline to sit properly and be stretchy and comfortable, I took note from my friend, designer Gisela Ramirez who very kindly made me this dress for my birthday this year:

She had used a wide piece of elastic as a waistband inside the dress and it meant that the stretch fabric on the top half of the dress sat properly with the non-stretch fabric of the skirt. Additionally it just meant that it fit properly and was really comfy. So I copied her technique with my skirt, except that I just gathered it rather than doing the box-pleated style as I didn't have a huge amount of fabric.

Obviously the narrow piece of wall-hanging fabric was nowhere near enough to make up a whole dress (to swathe my bod anyway - maybe there'd be enough for a toddler, or Victoria Beckham) so I just used it as a centre panel on the top and bottom pieces of the front of the dress. I filled in the side front panels and the back skirt piece with a black woven cotton fabric and then as I mentioned earlier, I used the stretch jersey at the top-back for comfort.

So TA-DAH! Behold the final result! I used jersey binding at the armholes and neckline. I did a pretty neat job of it too but I just realised it looks a bit messy in the photos. Please note - that's just because I didn't realise that the neckline was turned under in the photos - it's not my shoddy sewing I swear!

I'm still adjusting to my new hair. I'm loving the style though. It's just those roots - blurgh! Must fix them ASAP.

How great is that fabric though? I love the colourful appliqued animal shapes.

Here's the backview - with the stretch-jersey fabric at the top and the black woven cotton at the bottom and the side-panels:

I've kept the outfit simple to show off the dress. I'm just wearing it with my uniform of black leggings as well as red jelly flats from Rubi Shoes

Obviously this outfit is a bit more summery but I've already worn it twice in winter - once with a black long sleeve top underneath and once with a yellow blazer over the top, so it can definitely be worn year-round.

So yes, all in all am rather smug with my sewing efforts and feel motivated to do it again more often! I hope you all like it too!

Have been anticipating this final week of Aussie Curves for a long time. I'm proud to say I've been taking part in these challenges since the very first challenge and while I've missed a few along the way, I've participated in most of them and I've made it to the end of the first year. I've really enjoyed taking part in them as they're such a great motivator, without which I might never bloody post anything, so thank you to Danimezza the founder of the Aussie Curves group, it's been a great year and I'm looking forward to it's continuation in future!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Aussie Curves: Ruffles

I got my hair did!

I'm showing off my new 'do in this post. Have been wanting to get an asymmetrical cut for a while now and after umming and ahhing over whether to go to a fancy hairdressers to get the more unusual cut (and then remembering that I'm a tight-arse so was probably never gonna go through with that) I bit the bullet and on the spur of the moment on the way home from work on Friday night, I called into a little Korean hairdressers in the city and got it done for $27. Am very happy with the result and intend to continue being a tightarse in future.

Although looking at these pics, I am reminded that I really should have done the colour too as the shorter hair does accentuate my dodgy roots to the max. 

Anyhoom to the outfit: I'm so glad to finally be able to show off this dress! I figure that the major ruffled sleeves qualify it to fit with this week's Aussie Curves theme. 

I got it a few months ago from Dearcurves which is a British label that I'm really excited about as all the designs (by plus size model and fashion designer; Linda Idegwu) incorporate various African printed fabrics, which you may know I am rather obsessed with.

African wax-print fabrics are not easy to find and are very expensive in Australia - that's just in fabric form, let alone fully made up into clothing - let alone clothing specifically designed for plus-sizes! Hence, I was very excited to discover this label which also ships to Australia.

The fit of the dress is amazing - the elasticised bust is super comfy and the super-full skirt gives it a great floaty shape. The light breathable fabric will make it perfect for summer - but it's been a bit too cool in Sydney to wear it just yet.

The only thing I found was that it was a bit too long and swamped me a bit in it's original form. This is why I didn't blog it sooner: it's been sitting in my sewing to-do pile until last week when I cut about 20cms off the hem. Will have to think of a cool idea for recycling the scrap fabric.

Apologies if these photos look a bit washed out. I accidentally left my SLR at work over the weekend and Mum kindly snapped these ones for me on her little auto-camera which seems pretty good too but it's just not the same!

I felt that the dramatic shape of the ruffled shoulders on this dress called for dramatic accessories to go with it so I've got my fave black spikey backpack on from Madpax, and my most extreme big sunnies from ASOS.

I'm wearing:

 - African-print dress from Dearcurves
 - Extreme cat-eye sunnies from ASOS
 - Spiketus Rex backpack from Madpax
 - Black Jelly flats from Juju via ASOS

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


It's a bit miserable in Sydney today weatherwise, so to fight off the grey and the cold here's an outfit that's both bright and cosy:

I love this pom-pom covered top - it gets lots of comments when I wear it and I think it looks a bit like I'm walking around filming a CGI character all day long  - like with the bobbly motion capturing bodysuits you see them wear in behind-the-scenes docos?

I'm wearing it with matching lippy - 'Fuchsia Flash' by Maybelline. Am hoping the hot pink injections are enough to counteract the grey and black of the rest of my outfit - am definitely going for warmth and comfort here!

Thank you as always, to my friend Alison Bartholomeusz for taking these snaps for me at work at lunch.

I'm wearing:

- Pom-Pom top by NYLON magazine for ASOS
- Reliable old hand-me-down tunic originally from TS
- Black scarf - a gift from my Grandma
- Black leggings (as always) from who knows
- Black and leopard creepers by Demonia from Clubwear Australia
- 'Fuchsia Flash' lipstick by Maybelline

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Aussie Curves: Oversized


I picked up this oversized and very colourful tunic from Vinnies in Miranda a few weeks ago. I was headed to the Shire for a family lunch and so decided to spend the morning op-shopping en route. I have to say I didn't have much success though. I went to about six different suburbs and opshops but none of them were that great for quirky vintage finds. I guess if it's decent quality fairly new stuff that you're after though, there's plenty of that about. 

Anyway, I was very pleased when I found this one at my final stop for $8. It's something that someone has made themselves as it's all (rather dodgily) hand-stitched and basically just consists of two pieces of fabric stitched together at shoulder and side seams. 

It goes to show you don't need a complicated pattern to do home-sewing: if you've got loud, patterned fabric then that's the real centrepiece of the design and all you need to do is cut a really simple oversized silhouette to get a great, drapey style.

It amazes me the dodgy standard of home-sewn things that I'm happy to pick up and wear from an op-shop yet whenever I attempt to sew things myself I never end up wearing them as I feel self-conscious and hate my own sewing which is dumb because I am actually reasonably ok at it. I studied fashion at TAFE for a year before changing my mind and switching to uni to study journalism but I came out with a Cert IV in Clothing Production and I do know my way around a machine as well as how to make my own patterns.

Sorry - rambling, but my point is, it doesn't need to be all perfectly finished and professional to look good. The home-sewn look just makes it quirky and unique which is my favourite kind of look anyway.

So yes: sewing doesn't have to be that hard and I should do it more often. Stay tuned for the Aussie Curves DIY week coming up as I got sewing over the weekend and am rather pleased with what I whipped up: I hope you'll like it too!

I'm wearing:

 - Oversized tunic - Vinnies  - $8
 - Blue Spandex leggings - Gisela Ramirez
 - Black Jelly flats - Rubi Shoes
 - Oversized skull necklace - Tatty Devine (via eBay)

If you notice an uncanny similarity between this post and the last that's because yes, I took both sets of photos at the same time, in the same leggings and just switched out the tunic....and the lippy. Two stone ;)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Aussie Curves: Colour Clash

This week's colour clash theme was a great excuse for me to break out this orange tunic that I've had for a couple of years - from ASOS, but have never really worn much.

I'm wearing it with my blue spandex Gisela Ramirez leggings because I love this combination of two colours from opposite sides of the colour wheel. Have picked up on the blue again in my new teal lipstick from Illamasqua.

The blue-skinned look I think is a bit reminiscent of Hindu Gods like Krishna, Kali and Shiva so I took the look a bit further with a bit of extra kohl eyeliner (I never normally wear it), multiple bindis and the necklace from Sportsgirl that reminds me of the kind of elaborate jewellery worn at Hindu weddings.

I am attempting to do some Indian dancing inspired poses here too but am clearly not pulling it off....

When I was a kid I was obsessed with Indian culture and used to study all the different Hindu Gods, re-read Lonely Planet India constantly and collect Indian jewellery, bangles and sari fabrics, desperate to travel there.

Have still never been but am keen to go within the next year. It's such a huge country I think you'd need a good six months at least to see the place properly but was thinking of dipping my toe in with a couple of weeks just exploring Bombay and surrounds.

Another thing I was rather fixated with as a kid was all things inflatable, so to complete the look (in a clashing shade of yellow of course) is this blow-up backpack. I've got a bunch of these in a range of different colours and hope to sell them in soon in my online shop - if and when I ever get around to launching it! It's hard to find the time when you're working full time.

Anyway, yay for all things inflatable! Especially inflatable furniture - remember that? terrible. Love it.

I'm wearing:

 - Orange tunic from ASOS Curve (a couple of years ago)
 - Blue spandex leggings - Gisela Ramirez
 - White fake Docs - Raben Footwear
 - Inflatable backpack (sit tight - I'll be selling them soon)
 - Gold multi-tier necklace - Sportsgirl
 - Bindis - Paddy's Market
 - Blue Lippy - Illamasqua