Erg, Fine, I’ll Start a Blog Then…

To be fair I’ve tried to blog once before.  But that poor little tumblr had the life expectancy of a sea cucumber abandoned in the Gobi Desert, bless its boots.  So here I go with Attempt the Second.  May it be better equipped to survive in the arid wilderness that is my sense of commitment. 

My general aim:  To bestow upon all ye who sit around wondering how I do the stuff that I do the chance to see the seamy (…geddit?… sorry.) underbelly of creativity, and perhaps work out how to do it yourself (and occasionally to make classical music in-jokes).  Sewing, cartooning, writing, and the like; well, they’re fantastic.  You can be a cheap-arse and have boasting rights over your creations.  If you’ve never had someone do the slow jaw-drop followed by the disbelieving and searingly envious “Oh my God, did you MAKE THAT???”, let me tell you it’s a damn good way to counteract your self-esteem issues, even if you know that the darting is lopsided and your hemming’s got puckers in it.

Which brings me to my first sewing walkthrough… 

1) The Little Lace Rib-Hider

The Background:

I got an email from my opera company about the dress code for our upcoming Gala Concert: Chorus Ladies: long black dress, no plunging necklines. I already had a long black dress, which came from an op-shop in Parkdale ( My terribly un-PC grandmother likes to say of it: “you always get a good fit”, because it supports Epilepsy Australia.   Cringe-worthy on so, so many levels…) and it was $6 (win!).  The only problem is that because I come up as “malnourished” on the BMI test, the dress looks much plungier than it would on a normal person, and instead of cleavage all you see is the ribs-like-corrugated-tin effect.  Which, let’s face it, isn’t what the opera punters like to see.


Stuff Annoying Old Ladies Like to Say

The Solution:

Stashbusting.  Tip #1: if stashbusting can come to the rescue, that’s always a good thing. Any respected sewing blogger will tell you that (and I have found their advice to be true!). I had in my stash about 1.2m of good black nylon lace, and thought: small lace crop top + plungey-dress = not so much rib-cleavage, therefore, win. And ultimately, it meant I didn’t have to spend money on another dress which could be spent on rent or delicious food, and I didn’t have to waste time running up and down Bourke St or Sydney Rd engaged in a desperate search for a long black dress in my elusive size.  Here is Stash-Buster (geddit?  Buster? I make myself cringe sometimes…) is a lovely little Scottie dog to represent the noble act of stashbusting:



So on with the tee! Earlier in the year (i.e. January…) I made a little crop kimono-sleeve tee out of the most horribly Satanic polyester that I have ever had the misfortune to work with (but that nevertheless I enjoy wearing because the pattern and print are both awesome).  This was the Tee of Death.  Please for the love of God don’t look too closely.  It slipped everywhere and it frayed like a beast and it stretched to hell on the bias and it damn near broke my sanity.   The lace one will be similar, just better, and wider at the neck, and shorter at the sleeves and waist:


Yuck yuck yuck so wonky!!! Yet so comfy…


They’re a bit hard to see, and yes that’s a crack in the wall of my studentine abode. 

Shock horror, I draft my own patterns.  Commercial ones always require so much adjustment to fit my strange long-waisted-super-pear shape that it’s not worth the effort, so I forked out for “Dress Pattern Designing” and its imaginatively-named sequel: “More Dress Pattern Designing” by Natalie Bray, and I haven’t regretted it for a moment.  They’re a little old-fashioned, but the principles are all sound and adapt easily to modern designs.  

The Sewing:

Because this top is lace, I went with French Seams. Ooh la la!  It’s a bit tedious because feel like you’re sewing every seam twice, but your raw edges are safely encased where they can’t hurt anybody by going all feral and fray-tastic.  There are numerous good tutorials on youtube for French seams.

Then I folded a black ribbon over the raw neckline and arm-hole edges and hand-sewed it down like a bias-binding (which is a good thing to google if you don’t know what it is).  I like hand-sewing.  It’s boring in the best possible way, i.e. you can still watch Buffy or Red Dwarf while you’re at it


My progress so far (not well pressed in this shot), and teeny hand stitches.  I didn’t trust my temperamental machine.


More photos when the hand-finishing is done.  I’m thinking of sticking a bow on the back of the neckline.  Or would that be too frou-frou?

Total cost: c. $15. Total Hours: about 2 so far, might be 3 at the end. Yardage: 0.5m black nylon lace, 2.5m 18mm black poly satin ribbon,  Notions: none. Pattern: moi 

To finish, a frequently-butchered Jane Austen quote:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a blogging girl in possession of a sewing machine must be in want of a cat”


This is Bella, my housemate’s cat.  She’s helping in her own quiet way.



Also, look out for my illustrations in the upcoming edition of Farrago, which will be available from stands in Union House and around the Uni in general very soon!

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