Let’s get one thing straight: no-one looks streamlined in culottes! These crazy bags have created a mini-fashion moment just about every decade since the 1920s. I can definitely remember the 1980s version, and was dubious about them then! But suddenly they feel cool again, and have been popping up on the blogosphere over the last year or so. When I was working up to this pattern I came across this historical pattern summary on the McCalls blog, commenting on how culottes began as a feminist statement about practicality. It’s quite fascinating to see how little the style has changed.

My first experiences of dressmaking were with Prima magazine sewing patterns. In the early 1990s the patterns came with the magazine, rather than now when you have to order them, or buy them on eBay, as I did this one. I remember looking forward to each issue to see what I could make. The instructions were clear and easy to understand, although now I’m a bit more experienced it would be helpful to have finished measurements so I could have better judged which size to make.

I have been sewing a lot of repeat patterns lately, as I haven’t had a lot of head-space for innovation. I also needed a whole new work wardrobe for this climate. So I’ve been also been limiting myself to my pattern and fabric stash. It’s been a good excersie in appreciating what has worked in the past rather than just forging ahead with the new. To be honest, I’m dying to get on with a BHL Anna, but I haven’t been able to lay my hands on a new printer cartridge, so inspiration and innovation had been on hold.  In news just in, printer ink has arrived from UK!!

As I’ve been on sewing autopilot with my numerous Laurels, Monetas and Bettines (yet to be blogged), it was extremely satisfying to start a new pattern with news skills to master. This was my first ever fly-zipped trousers. The instructions were really easy to follow. I took it slowly and went old-school and used tailors chalk and tailor tacks to mark the fly and pleats. That said, I did have to unpick the zip once and re-do as I’d got my folds the wrong way round and the zip concealing flap wouldn’t have concealed the zip! I blame it on being left-handed and having an oppositely-wired brain.

The fabric is black linen (with probably a smidge of poly) from China World Mall in Bangkok. It was cheap as chips, and was lovely to work with so I will be restocking at the earliest opportunity. I’m very pleased with how they turned out. I’m feeling slightly on the  She Wears The Pants spectrum! It was only a matter of time before the East Asian aesthetic kicked-in.
I’m wearing my culottes with last summer’s Sewaholic Belcarra blouse in Liberty Tana Lawn Mitzi blogged here.

So. Culottes. Could you? Should you?  How do you wear yours?!


Adventures in Viscose!

I’m sorry, where? Doesn’t my life sound exciting? Viscose, eh?  The truth is, it is quite exciting at the moment. I’m getting around the region and exploring, but I’m not finding a great deal of time to sew.

I’m also finding it nigh-on impossible to get half-decent blog photos. Either the light’s too strong or low, or I’m trying to prevent small people falling in swimming pools, or I am relying on the same small people to take said photos (see Instagram for a particularly ropey selection). I’m falling a little behind with blogging new outfits as a result.

I’ve also been thinking about what I sew and why. With so little free time I have to really be committed to my choices. I have reverted to sewing simple patterns that place the fabric centre-stage and don’t take up too much brain power. Most importantly they have to fill a gap in my wardrobe. I’m wary of falling into the trap of making more and more without taking time to appreciate and wear the clothes I’ve already made.

In an earlier post I wrote about how much I loved my first Bettine by Tilly and the Buttons. I was very taken with the viscose I had bought in Hong Kong. The drape was great and it was so cool to wear in the heat. I went on a mission to find more and bought two tropical fabrics from Spotlight – a huge Australian craft superstore. My second Bettine was born!

I lengthened the skirt by an inch or so in order not to offend the conservative locals. I was still almost refused access to a public building for gratuitous knee-baring, but managed to talk them around! I thought I had done with Bettine, but already I’m thinking about a cotton chambray number….

A Laurel for the Tropics

I’m almost always clad in dresses these days. With the daily temperature of 36 degrees celcius anything fussy or complicated feels too cumbersome. I’ve also found a few really lovely pieces of fabric on my travels so was thinking about a simple shape to show them off to their full. My first indie pattern was the Colette Laurel, blogged here in denim and here in Liberty lawn. It’s a really simple shift dress that fits pretty well out of the envelope.IMG_1217

So I thought that the Laurel would be the perfect way to use this fab tropical print viscose. As before, I took a few inches out of the side seams on the skirt to avoid the ‘grown-up wearing a children’s nightie’ look. The viscose drapes beautifully so I thought it was a shame to interrupt it with a zip. I tested my Laurel top and realised that the dress would slip over the head without any trouble. So I omitted the zip and used black bias tape to finish the neckilne. This dress makes me happy. It’s become a firm favourite as it packs easily, looks more statement than simple, and is just so comfortable to wear.

I’m getting my head turned by all of your delicious new makes but trying not to succumb! For the record I’ve mainly been: obsessing a little too much over the Closet Case Files Sallie jumpsuit; getting my pattern pieces ready for the Prima magazine culottes; and deciding between the BHL Anna and Zeena. Progress is extremely slow but I firmly believe that a hobby should be a pleasurable escape not another pressure. Well, I’m trying to convince myself of that! Either way, no new patterns until I source a new printer cartridge!