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Blackwood Opshops

13 Oct

When I first came to Australia and discovered opshops, somebody told me I had to go to the Blackwood opshops. I didn’t find the time to till last week, when I went to visit some friends there, who babysat the Little Wyld Man while mummy went-a-shopping.

Blackwood, for those unfamiliar to Adelaide, is south of Adelaide, and situated in the hills. It has 5 opshops within a small shopping radius, the best and biggest being the Salvos one. There are also the Save the Children Opshop, Redcross, Goodwill, and the RSPCA thrift shop. See here for addresses.

I went to the Salvos one first, which was the most famous. Inside was the most organized and appealing  layout I’d ever seen in an opshop, being almost boutique-like in a rustic way. That said however, I didn’t find anything  to buy. There was a trouser press being sold for $60 displayed outside, but I don’t iron enough trousers to justify buying it. But if it had been a gravity feed iron/steam generator, that would have been a different story.

The next opshop I went to was the Redcross one. Here I spied an almost brand new shawl-collared white cardigan which I snatched up.

White Cardigan

Originally it had two ties sewn in to tie the front together which I removed. I also tacked the collar in place so that it would stay in that shape instead of collapsing. I’ve worn it out twice within the last week already. $6.99. Kaching!

I also found a dressmaking book, Success with Dress by Ellen and Marietta Resek.

Success with Dress

I hummed and harred about it, but was sold when I saw that it had a section on drafting patterns.

Bodice Drafts

This is an Aussie book, and very well written. Every chapter starts with a cute little rhyme, and it covers most of the basics in dressmaking.  The sleeve draft was good, being an assymetrical sleeve. (Sleeves shouldn’t look the same front and back, the front of the sleeve has less material, and the back has more-some books get it wrong). I have an earlier book by the same authors called Successful Dressmaking, which I posted about here. $3.

I went to Save the Children Opshop next, and here I picked up some fabrics-a nude and a red tricot fabric, perfect for petticoats and lining knit garments. I also found a nice wool felt hat in cream.

Cream Felt Hat

This is a back view.

Back view

I’m not so crazy about the way the grosgrain ribbon trim is finished at the back. I think it needs something more. I haven’t decided what to do about it yet. $4.99

I also found a sewing box for $9. I thought it was a bit steep for an opshop, but I really wanted and needed one, and Spotlight sells them for $20. I’ve been sewing out of a Tupperware container, so I’m glad to have this.

Sewing box

Inside peek

No, it didn’t come with tools and notions. *pout*. Wyld Man says it looks almost exactly like his mother’s.

The last stop was at Goodwill. I didn’t find anything that I liked until I was almost leaving and then I saw this.

Buckram hat with feathers

I really, really liked it. However, the feathers were a little scraggly, and the ribbon wasn’t glued on properly. I bought it, and I’m going to refashion it one of  this  days. This is a hat for spring, while the other one was a wintery one. $6.50.

So that’s all from Blackwood. I didn’t go to the RSPCA one because my friend/tour guide said it wasn’t any good, and I also wanted to get back to Little Wyld Man. I needn’t have worried though, he was very good and didn’t miss me at all!

And while I’m posting about all things opshop, I found this little top at the St Agnes Save the Children Opshop some weeks ago and loved it.

Red Polka Dot Top

Makes me feel like Minnie Mouse! Love it! $3. The camisole came from an opshop too. Can’t remember where from now.

What did you find at the opshops?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Burda 6/09 Sunburst Pleat Front Dress

24 Sep

I first read about Burda magazines in some sewing blog and was fascinated by the concept of a fashion magazine with real patterns. Since then I always kept a lookout for it at newsagents-not all stock them. Borders carried them till recently. I ‘ve been hunting for back issues to read and found that the Payneham library carried them-so I bacame a member (despite already being able to borrow from 5 libraries.)

For those unfamiliar with it, Burda is a monthly German dress pattern magazine that has over 40 patterns in it which you can trace out and make. I don’t usually buy it-to date I’ve  only bought three issues. It’s about $15.90 per mag and is good value for money if you make at least one garment from  it every month. It has pictures of models wearing the designs, a page with line drawings, and an insert of patterns in various colours  which you trace out. I like looking at the line drawings more than the pictures for the design ideas it inspires me to.

Of the 6 mags I borrowed, the June 09  issue had an interesting dress.

Burda 06/10

Pleat front jersey dress 102 Burda Jun 09

101 Burda 06/09 Pleat Front Dress

This is a clearer line drawing of it.

102 Line Drawing

I love the sunburst pleats and the pretty folds on the front. I formed an idea of a white dress with a black lace belt in this design and couldn’t wait to  get to  it.

This is the instruction sheet in the magazine.

Instruction sheet

This is the pattern sheet. Each sheet is labelled alphabetically with patterns pieces printed on it. One sheet may have several garment patterns on it, and the patterns for different garments are  differentiated with a different colour.

Pattern sheet

I trace out my pattern with sew-in interfacing, which is see-through and cheap. The Burda patterns do not have seam allowances added on to it, so here I am tracing around the patterns with a tracing tool-

Double pencils with a 5/8-inch spacer

-which I got at Lincraft.

I traced a size 38 all over, but I was actually a size 42 at the waist, and 40 at the hips. I was too lazy to grade up or  down according the markings-it was hard  to see and too tedious. I figured that since this is a stretch fabric, I’ll just pin fit the sides later. Also, the patterns were drafted for an “average” person-but who is? I’m very short waisted, so you’ll see in my pattern pieces below I’ve made a length adjustment by shortening  it by 2cms.

Pattern pieces cut and altered.

There are no construction photos-it was very quick to put together. The whole thing was sewn on my overlocker. The only thing that took some time was the  front pleats.

The instructions said to baste the pleats together, and sew it onto the front lining piece and treat as one, and not to press the pleats. I was too lazy to baste and just sewed the pleats on permanently and pressed it anyway. But the effect aren’t the soft folds as  in the picture, which I do regret not following.

The instructions for the dress was for a zipper to be installed in the back. However, instead of cutting 2 back pieces, I cut it on the fold, so I decided to put an invisible zipper in the side seam.

One thing I found was  that despite choosing the size 38, the whole dress was  huge on me. I had to remove 2 inches on each side seam from top to  bottom.

This is my finished dress.

Sunburst Pleated Dress

Back view

The lace belt is removable and this is what it looks like without it.

Dress plain.

I wanted to be able to wear it casually, as well as to more dressy functions.

It didn’t look so when the model wore it, but the neckline plunged too low for me. So I made a removable lace modesty panel.

Removable lace modesty panel

Here is a closeup of the lace belt, which is almost the favourite part of the dress for me. I wanted it to look like galoon lace, which I couldn’t find at Spotlight, so I made do with what I had in my stash.

Lace belt

The belt was the hardest to do, as this is the first time I’ve dealt with lace in this context. This was actually a small fat quarter piece of lace that was given to me with one scalloped border. I decided to cut it down along a motif, baste it to a white sew-in interfacing (to show off the black lace), and then backed again with black knit fusible interfacing. The edges have been finished with an overcasting stitch through all three layers.

Here is a parting shot.

Front view

I really, REALLY like this dress, especially with the lace belt. Which one do you prefer?

Sewing and Pattern Drafting Books

14 Feb

Last week I found a Winifred Aldrich book on Metric Pattern Drafting for Men’s Wear on Ebay selling for AUD16 dollars and won a bid on it. At Dymocks I paid for my Women’s Wear one for AUD 75! I thought it was a bargain for 16 dollars. But I had to go and pick it up from the seller at Brighton Carboot Market, which is South West from where we live. Saved me about AUD12 in postage. So Wyld Man and I rushed there from church in order to meet Jim the seller before 12 noon, which was when they close shop.  While I was there, he took out some more books on sewing and pattern drafting. And I got them all. Sigh.

Aldrich’s book on Menswear

It’s the 1990 edition.

Overgarment block

Classic Shirt Block

Draft for a sports jacket

Drafting collars and revers

Drafts for boxer shorts and undies

Easy fitting classic suit block

I can’t wait to draft something for Wyld Man! He needs a new cassock for serving at mass.

This second book I picked up there was a real treasure.

Successful Dressmaking by Ellen and Marietta Resek

There is no date of publication, but it looks like it was written in the 40’s or early 50’s.

Although the book is titled “Successful Dressmaking”, it has a big section on just pattern drafting, which got me really excited.

It actually made a reference to Harriet Peppin, her book Modern Pattern Design being the definitive drafting book published in 1942. You can read the entire book at VintageSewing.info.

A reference to Harriet Peppin

A draft for a bodice block

I liked the simplicity of it. However, the armhole curve wasn’t detailed-it just said “Curve armhole”.

Sleeve draft

Skirt draft

Shorts draft

How to draft facings

Even a section on children’s wear

A list of contents

I paid AUD 20 for it. It was well worth it, because its more than 60 years old, in excellent condition for it’s age. The binding was tight, and the dust jacket in very good condition for a book that old. It was also published in Adelaide, which Wyld Man noted was unusual.

My next find-

Principles of Dressmaking by Doris Lewis

This book was published in Adelaide as well by the Education Department by the Government publisher in 1945.

It also has a big section on pattern drafting.

Publication information

How to take measurements

Basic Bodice

This book has actually made drafts of the basic bodice for different body shapes.

Drafts for the underdeveloped figure

Drafts for the stout figure.

Drafts for the extra stout figure

Brassier top slip

Smie fitting top coat

Double Breasted coat

Dressing Jacket

I paid AUD11 for this one.

All in all, it was a good day’s work.

Edited on 1/12/2014: I’ve published maternity and nursing patterns on Craftsy! Be sure to check them out!

The Big 4-Pattern Books and Envelopes

31 Jan

In Malaysia, we have dressmakers and tailors galore who charge very affordable prices to make garments. The tailor I used to go to charges RM20-40 for her labour-which in Aussie dollars is a mere AUD 7-15! If you want something made up, you go to a dressmaker down the road. In Australia however, dressmakers charge by the hour, and labour is expensive, so if you want something made, you have to fork out big time, or, buy a commercial pattern in your size, and sew it yourself.

Coming to Adelaide, I discovered the wonderful world of ready made commercial patterns. There are four main companies producing patterns-Vogue, Simplicity, McCall’s and Butterick-collectively called The Big 4. Fabric and haberdashery stores like Spotlight or Lincraft will have a browsing table with pattern books from the Big 4, as well as other smaller brands like Kwik Sew and Burda. You choose your pattern, your size, note the number and go to the counter and ask for your pattern. The store will have all of the  patterns in different sizes in stock filed in filing cabinets. They find that particular pattern number, fish out that pattern, and walla! It’s yours. Pattern prices range between AUD5-25, Vogue being the most expensive.

In Malaysia, commercial patterns aren’t available, and most people aren’t aware of them. Home sewers draft their own patterns using the oriental method, from which they make all their clothes. They start with a dress block of their measurements, which is a bodice and skirt block combined, from which they draft all other patterns. It’s a versatile method-no tissue fitting for every new garment design, and cheaper besides.

When I first came here, I never thought to pick up sewing. But since I was given the sewing machine, and Wyld Man said that I could have an overlocker, I tried my hand at sewing and garment construction and got hooked. However, I  remember my mom making her garments from her own dress block, which I didn’t have. So I bought some commercial patterns to try out. But for every different outfit that you want, you needed to purchase a different pattern, a habit that can get expensive,  and I’d rather spend my money on fabrics. I decided to learn to draft my own patterns instead, and bought Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting for Womenswear as well as Dorothy Moore’s Pattern Drafting and Dressmaking book. However, I wanted still wanted some design inspiration-as those books had some rather outdated designs.

I used to walk into Spotlight and stayed an hour just to browse the pattern books. Those books were often at least an inch thick-with about 500-700 pages of designs. I loved looking at the design elements of each piece and studying the technical drawings. I was very happy to find that Lincraft sold out of season pattern books for only AUD5 each. I went and got as many as I could carry home-7!

McCalls, Butterick, Simplicty, Vogue and Burda

Some of them were Spring/Summer collections, the others were Winter/Autumn.

Cocktail dresses

Evening dresses

Jeans patterns

Jackets and blazers

Most pages had a textbox with information pertaining to sizes and yardage required for a particular design.

Winter coats

Some maternity designs

More evening dresses

Children's patterns

Even costumes

Except for the evening dresses, most of the tops, skirts, pants and dresses I can draft with the help of my pattern drafting books-so I won’t need to buy more commercial patterns. However, I do keep a lookout for difficult patterns or patterns for evening gowns in opshops. This is one which I picked up for a dollar.

STYLE evening gown pattern

For the benefit of those back in Malaysia, I will proceed to explain what is in a commercial pattern.

Patterns come in a paper envelope with the photo or illustration of the design in front, and sizing and yardage requirements on the back.

Sizing, finished measurements, required yardage and notions.

Some patterns come with multiple design variations, and each design is called View A, View B, View C etc.

Inside the envelope, you get a design sheet, and an instruction sheet.

Instruction sheet

The instruction sheet gives an overview of pattern pieces you need to cut, sewing instructions and construction sequence.

Pattern sheet

The pattern sheet is a huge piece of tissue paper with pattern pieces printed on it which you cut out. Seam allowances are usually included, as well as darts placements and markings which you transfer to your fabric.

Instructions on pattern pieces

Each pattern piece is numbered, with instructions for cutting the number of pieces.

Most patterns nowadays are multisized, meaning that you have to choose a size for yourself out of a range of sizes printed on the pattern paper.

Although I was very excited when I first came and discovered commercial patterns, I’ve quickly found that not all the sizing is accurate-the bust may be too big, the length too long, the sleeves may be too large-which can only be resolved with making a test garment and tissue fitting. Aside from that, I’ve mentioned earlier that it can be an expensive habit if you want a range of designs for your garments.

But having learnt how to draft patterns and having thos 7 humongous pattern books, I have the best of both worlds. I have technical drawings to base my drafts on, my garments made on my personal block fits me perfectly, and I don’t have to pay everytime I need a new design.

A Maternity Tour, Op Shops and Baby Things

19 Jan

Wyld Man and I went to the Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital for the maternity tour today. I should have gone earlier, but things just got delayed till now. Pregnant women booked to give birth at the Women’s and Children are encouraged early on to go on the tour so that we know where to go when labour starts, or in case of an emergency.

We thought we wouldn’t be able to make it at 9am on time, but we did, AND we found a free park for an hour right across the hospital.  The tour started a little late, but the guide, Cynthia gave us quite a thorough round of the place. I had thought that if I went into labour to go to emergency, but the correct place to go was Triage at the Women’s Assessment Unit where the midwife assesses which stage of labour a woman was in and then sends her to the the correct department.  We were shown the labour rooms and birthing centre, postnatal wards, nursery, the women’s antenatal clinic, ultrasound department, etc. It was an impressive hospital, very clean and up-to-date with the latest technology. The labour rooms were like hotel suites! They even had spas for a new mum to pamper herself after birth, or for having a water birth.

In the middle of the tour we saw a newborn baby being wheeled to the nursery, and all the people in the tour group started cooing and ah-ing over it. I had hoped that we would be able to see some babies in the nursery, but security was very tight, and only parents and family were allowed in-as it should be.

(I stopped my blog here and saved it on the 18th on Monday-and I only continued the rest of the entry on the 19th, so any “todays” you see in this post is the 18th.)

Anyways, it was a busy day for me. I went to several opshops today and found a few gems. I had planned to go to Baby Target at Golden Grove Village to get some things on sale. But there were several opshops on the way. The first one I went to was at Salvos at Payneham on Payneham Road. I bought a white checked men’s shirt at size 40.

White Men's Checked Shirt

I thought that Wyld Man might like it. But if he didn’t, I’ll use it as a breastfeeding top. Aud 6.99 from Salvos.

I also got a Reader’s Digest Microwave Cookbook at AUD4.99-lovely colour pictures and step by step instructions.

Reader's Digest Microwave Cookbook

Picture Recipe Index-all the recipes are listed on the first few pages in pictures.

I had gotten a 1971 edition of the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing at an op shop in Victor Harbor and was very impressed by the content. So I’m on the lookout for more RD Complete Guides  To books.

There was an Anne of Ingleside book by Lucy Maud Montgomery going for AUD1.99 which I also got. I’m a huge Anne of Green Gables fan.

The best things from that Salvos shop though was a stack of fabric they had in their remnant basket-and it wasn’t tiny scraps of remnants either. Minimum 1.5 m of fabric in a bundle-all for AUD1.99. I bought a whole stack to add to my growing stash.

Op Shop Fabric Stash

That’s at least 20 m of fabric, for a total of only AUD 20! There was floral corduroy, cotton jersey, stretchy 2-way knits (which are expensive at Spotlight), floral seersucker, marine blue cotton drill, white crepe/georgette, and white nylon woven.

My next stop was at Vinnies at Felixstow on Payneham Road. Here I snagged a bargain on pregnancy and baby books. I had a What to Expect When You’re Expecting book by Heidi Murkoff which I bought at AUD39.99. I didn’t know that there was a subsequent book called What to Expect The First Year, which I assume would also retail at about that price, but here was selling at AUD3.50! Really stoked about it.

What To Expect The First Year

Another book I got at AUD 3.50 was Your Baby and Child by Penelope Leach, which I read through later when I got home and really liked. It’s written in a conversational tone and is quite unlike the one above, which is arranged in a question and answer form with textboxes of information.

Your Baby and You by Penelope Leach

Here also I got a couple of cot sheets fro AUD 3.50 (a pair), and a whole lot of clothes I intend to breastfeed in. The clothes were in wonderful condition and all were selling for AUd 6.99-which I thought was rather pricey for an opshop, but still- I liked the style and condition they were in and it’s still a fraction of what I would pay retail.

SuzanneGrace Lavender Wrap top

This is a perfect top for breastfeeding. And it looked like it has never been worn too! Just fell in love with it the minute I saw it.

Blue-Green breezy top in chiffon fabric.

Loved this top as well-but I had to make a tiny alteration to the straps that held up the light blue fabric inside the top-it was dropping down too much.

Yellow button up blouse

This top is made of burnout fabric with buttons. A bit see through-here I’m wearing a cami underneath. But I just love the fabric. And it’s perfect  for breasfeeding too! Here’s what I plan to do to dress it up a bit.

Yellow Top Embelished with Brown Satin Ribbon

Here’s a Miller’s yellow shirt what I plan to use as jammies at the hospital. It’s super comfy.

Miller's Yellow Shirt

And I got this pink men’s shirt too as a breastfeeding top.

Pink Men's Shirt

Hmm…spent a bit more than I planned at op shops. But I figure I won’t be opshopping much when the baby’s here. Better to get things now than later.

Here’s what I got from Baby Target at Golgen Grove Village.

Fisher Price Sounds and Lights Baby Monitor

On sale at AUD 65.00 from a RRP of AUD99.

Baby Grooming Set.

Baby bottles, sippy cups and extra teats

The bottles are made of glass, which are hard to find, as everything is made of plastic nowadays.

Baby Bath Ramp

I’m terrified of letting the baby slip into the water.  Hopefully this will help.

Nappy pail with lid. Very important for all those cloth nappies.

And here’s my overnight bag which I packed a few days ago, all ready to go.

Overnight Bag

Hopefully I won’t be using it too late or too early. Hey Wyld Child, mama needs you to come on time ok?