Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Drape Drape 2 - Book Review


Alternative title for this post (and my personal favourite) Drape Drape 2 - Electric Boogaloo! Not quite as informative but equally entertaining.

Okayyyy back to business, so  I've been sewing, A LOT recently, and pushing myself to try new things. That's the beauty of Me Made May (glut of posts in the pipelines still) you get caught up in the creative spirit and this year it led me to draped patterns

Pinning one evening led me to Drape Drape, a series of 3 Japanese pattern books by Hisako Sato. The premise of the first book is to produce draped clothing with one piece of fabric using tucks, slack, gather, twist and draping of fabric.

Flicking through the book there is the usual Artsy Fartsy Japanese photographs of trouserless bored looking models staring at each other, looking like they weren't paid enough and displaying the look you have when you run upstairs and then forget what you went up there for, to then remember the moment you got downstairs, you know the look ;)

Photography aside, what really sells the book is, as expected, the designs. So intriguing that you want to trace, cut and sew immediately just to see how the pattern works. 

Not simply interesting, at least 10 of the 14 patterns are actually WEARABLE, by REAL people, with JOBS and LIVES!. Of the 4 that I would not wear myself, the designs are still attractive, but simply more avant garde than a 36 yr old mama of 2 can get away with on the school run, without being mistaking for someone stuck in a discarded parachute in a freak accident... but perhaps you like that look!


My photos show No. 2 One piece side drape top, the pattern was fun to sew, just one pattern piece produced a stylish draped garment.
I like the easy comfortable fit and it worked exactly as the instructions suggested.
I was nervous about straight stitching the binding on the neckline
but I did what the book said and lo and behold no problems.


Cons of sewn pattern?

The pattern was truly problem free, the instructions are basic but elsewhere in the book additional info on hemming and binding necklines is all you need to successfully finish the garment.

Would I sew this again?

Absolutely I would attach the binding facing outwards to match the neckline but no other changes would be made, this is just my style preference.

Tips: Go slow on the neckline top stitching, the finishing touches are ALWAYS worth taking extra time over.

 Reviewing the whole book a few more cons arose, overall I loved it and would purchase and recommend it to others, it's reasonably priced and far cheaper than trying to track 14 draped patterns, it will flex your sewing muscles and provide some serious wardrobe candy.

Downsides of the patterns

Many lines, few pages:
14 intricate patterns, on 4 sides of paper, in the same colour ink, you do the math. Tracing the patterns is likely to give you a headache. With more lines than a Hollywood blockbuster you'll need good light, very transparent paper and a can-do attitude to get the job done properly.

Pattern sizes:

If you're touchy about your dress sizing this is not the book for you, as a UK 8 (US 4) I expected to be a Medium since it's a Japanese book. Alas no, I am an XL, the largest size in the book. Presumably XS is for unborn foetus or miniature breeds of puppies?

* Available in English translation
* Interesting wearable designs you will be dying to sew.
* Intermediate/Advanced level sewing
* Great intro to draping

So check it out, loan it through your library like I did or treat yourself to a copy, through Amazon for a pretty sweet price

Note: No remuneration has been received by the Author, Publisher for this post, it's all my own opinion. The Amazon link is for your viewing pleasure only and not an affiliate link.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Refashion: Plain Gingham to Embroidered Loveliness

At the last Value Village sale I picked up a cute but very plain little Gingham dress for $2.50 for my little lady and just knew exactly what it needed, don't you love those simple refashions where you just know at first sight?

 Now my little one is a bit of a tomboy so it's a struggle to get her into anything without trouser legs, short of rolling her in a blanket and sitting on her. I showed this off to her the next day and she ASKED ME if she could try it on, and (gulp) she even wore it for half a day, yes it even lasted through two meal times which is an all time record. I failed to get a non blurry photo of her, (usual story) but the fact she wore it and loved it is a winner for me.

It was a quick turn around for this refashion, I know the stitching looks complicated to the untrained eye but it's nothing more than a handful of stitches. Running stitch, cross stitch and an easy peasy woven stitch. Yep super simple but it looks so fancy and adds a little vintage flavour to a plain expanse of Gingham.
If you're wondering what this kind of embroidery is it's called any of these names Chickenscratch/Broderie Suisse/Snowflaking and I absolutely love it. From afar the stitching looks like Smocking but it can be applied to a finished dress unlike Smocking which has to be completed first.
Want to see more of my attempts at Chicken Scratch? 
 check here for links to tutorials and here for more.

Anyone else notice that I did the stitching on the back of the dress? Good job it won't take me too long to do the same on the front too!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Kaftan to Maxi dress Refashion


I have been completely obsessed with my Me made May pledge, I've stuck to wearing a me made garment every day and even taken a (mostly crummy and sometimes headless) selfie for Instagram, which is big for me.  Every day seems like too often for me, I am just not a pc/laptop/social media every day kinda gal.

In fact if it's ever quiet around these here parts you know I'll be on a creative kick, hiding away rustling up something in my sewing room (formerly the 'lady cave' until I realised this sounds kinda, sorta, erm Gynaecological!) ok, (cue nervous giggle) moving on!

I picked up this beaute at a local thrift store for a princely sum of $5, now you know that I am super cheap so it must have spoken to me.


Excuse the awkward photos of me, Instagram has me on Selfie overdose at the mo, 19 days into Me made May and still haven't got into the selfie groove, hmm is that aging me? using the words 'selfie' and 'groove' in the same sentence? nah I'm still down with the hip cats :)

Ok wanna see the best bit about the dress? wait for it, wait...for...it


Bam! Party in the back!

Unnecessary bunching around the hem is me stepping on the dress, hubster is so reluctant to take a photo of me that I have to 'hop on it' anytime I think he might be willing.  He did pretty good, three shots and none of me a, looking like a troll b, sniffing or sneezing and only one unfortunate shot of me bending down adjusting my cleavage, all in all an A* for my man.
So can you see where I made the bust part from? The triangle sleeves worked perfectly when I hacked them off and used the underside seam, the straps were even reused as it originally had a waist casing score!

So what's next? some little girl sewing, if I can just wrangle my little Tasmanian devil into a non blurry shot in time for the next post.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Me Made May 2014 - My Pledge


Every Spring time I get the urge to sew sew sew, putting away the Sweaters and Boots, then taking them out again 3 days later because it snowed, repeat to fade until Spring really does appear.

No joke, I write this as we've had Shorts and Swimsuit weather and Snow in the same week, Sirrrrously Canada?! sort it out!

Despite receiving snow on my otherwise Springy dress parade, this year Me Made May has totally got me revved up for adding some  more Ruby Murray flavour to my wardrobe. I am pledging right here and now to wear something made by me every day of May. With the unpredictable Alberta weather some days it could be just a Hat and Scarf, but nonetheless something made by my fair 100 year old Seamstress looking mitts.


To kick off day 1 I dusted off some gorgeous, psychedelic Border print I'd been hoarding, the pattern came from the book "Chic and Simple Sewing" (book review to follow)and with a few alterations I love it.


Friends of RMR will know I love me some 70's business, so this ticked all my slightly odd requirements of a fabric print all in one ball of Starburst Pink Red and Navy loveliness.


Super pleased with how it turned, the hubby tried to convince me that their should be a starburst pattern on each boob, but whaddyaknow there wasn't quite enough fabric for me to make this happen :)

Lots more sewing in the works including Refashion Fridays where I'll be whipping this beauty into shape.
Yep, pulling out all the stops this year, flexing my sewing skills and dusting off the cobwebs on Big Bertha my industrial beast of a machine.

Wanna see my creations day by day? follow me on Instagram (RubyMurraysmusings) or my Facebook Page for more pics or to shoot me a message.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

By Hand London - Free PDF Sewing Pattern


I know you guys love a freebie pattern and if sewing something fun to wear for Spring is on your radar then look no further than this super cute Polly top at By Hand London.

At this time of year I've taken as much as I can handle of this cat and mouse, is it? isn't it?, Spring vs Winter power struggle we endure here in Canada, and I start looking towards making some new Springy clothes.  Even if I do have to smother them in a snuggly Cashmere sweater, until I'm good and ready to officially come out of Canadian hibernation.

There is still snow on the ground, and Mittens and Scarf are a constant when leaving the house, but I'm daydreaming about sewing things, gulp, without sleeves, and shocked gasp, maybe even showing off my pasty English "Are those white tights you're wearing, no that's my skin!" drumsticks. True story!
Whilst you're checking out By Hand Londons Polly top, look for their Georgia dress, love this and both the variations of straps would work so well for day or night.


Until such times as the temperature is again above 0, I'm going to be working on my refashion pile and maybe even trying out this awesome pattern in a beautiful Silk I've been holding on to.

Who's up for some Spring/Summer refashioning? are you getting excited about Me-Made-May yet?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Handmade with Love

When I found out I was expecting my little lady I had romantic visions of sewing gorgeous little dresses and cutesy outfits, 2 years on and one solitary dress hangs in her wardrobe.

Whilst her closet is lacking, the rest of the room has a heavy helping of handmade loveliness, it literally is my favourite place in the house surrounded by crafted goodies in every corner.

It took me a full 2 years but her crib quilt is finished, pieced during my pregnancy with the help of Mr Ruby Murray and hand quilted in time for her 2nd birthday. Yes I'm late again but at least I'm consistent.


Isn't this fabric gorgeous? originally a thrifted skirt,it inspired the Red and White quilt colour scheme.

The whole quilt in its quilty entirety

To rest her head when she reads her favourite stories she has this colourful mix of me-made, and vintage cushions.

A scrappy string quilted cushion cover that has been loved to frayed pieces.

Gorgeous vintage linen repurposed into a frilly cushion a $5 purchase from my local Farmers market.

A thrifted Granny rose cushion cover takes pride of place.

Filling her room with these special touches feels to me like I'm snuggling with her even when we're away from each other. One of her favourite things to do is work her way around the room pointing and saying "You made that",and my reply is always the same, "Yes, because I love you".


Making handmade items for my children is as much a gift to myself.
 Walking in to both of their rooms I'm surrounded by happy memories, sentimental fabrics, special days out or simply a silly face or cheeky giggle.
I look forward to the raggedy versions sitting on my grandchildrens beds in years to come, that thought totally warms my cockles.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Dolls House Reveal

This project rocked my world, it was so much fun that for a while I'm ashamed to admit, I teetered on the murky edges of crazy Victorian doll house lady. To date I still have 4 others in varying states of repair awaiting loveliness.

Ok so 5 sounds a bit much? but they kept finding me and they were in need of tlc I just couldn't resist, like this gorgeous 1960's style open sided house. Can you believe this was just $1.50? craziness!

One thing that I learnt, is that these miniature bits and bobs may be small but the prices are anything but and since my little lady is somewhat of a Tasmanian Devil, (seriously, her Indian name would be "Raised-by-Wolves")I knew I had to make everything easily replaceable should they be stamped on/swallowed/flushed away! That's where I decided to make as much as I could from items I already have and keep everything else low cost.

Aside from the wood furniture, all flooring and home furnishings were made by me. Original plans to make everything proved way too time consuming, yep the bitter reality sank in that everything would indeed be shoved in baby G's mouth or nostril or a mixed combo of the two.

So here is the starting point, a very blah looking unloved but sturdy Wooden Dolls house, rubber cemented down Carpet sample? check, 80's paint job? check? time to get to work.

Top one is the poor unloved shell pre-makeover.

I played around with the design of the rooms and the style, first opting for something bright and modern. Check out the knitted Ottoman and cushion, knitted using toothpicks (yes I am ridiculous but it was fun) and Embroidery floss.

In the end I decided on a mix of old and new, some gorgeous Vintage fabric and a small remnant of Contact paper gave me some inspiration for colour schemes. Now to start the demolition!

I ripped out the carpet, the single kitchen tile floor and cut new floors to make it easier to change them away from the dollshouse itself.

Would you believe that all the flooring was not only FREE but RECYCLED too? double points!

Bedroom Hardwood looking flooring is actually an old Bamboo blind.
White flooring is made from popsicle sticks, which took me hours, lesson learnt, Bamboo blinds all the way baby! so quick and easy and the indentations from the blind cords made it looks like planks of wood.

Kitchen flooring is real Composite tiles sourced from Freecycle, a sample pack of 2x2 tiles cut down, glued then grouted, so pleased with the finished look of this and the fact that it's not only rainbow but real kitchen tiles made me smile.

The curtain rods were small wooden dowels I had in my stash and worked perfectly with cup hooks to keep them in place. It took my little lady at least an hour to pull the rods out but they were popped back in easily, crisis averted.

After searching in vain for some scalloped wooden trim to add to the sides of the under roof area I ended up using some cereal box card and a Dollar and tracing my own, a couple of licks of pink paint and we were on to a winner.
The vintage looking roof was created using Dollar store drawer liner, I loved how this turned out, and it smelt like Roses the whole time I was papering it. It was pretty lumpy on first application so I sanded it once it had dried and the lumps disappeared and a gorgeous aged, worn in look came about, and all for $3? score!
Ok ready for the Royal tour?

First the Living room, wall colour not yet decided so some colourful accessories brightened up the room,

The Sofa I made from scratch, stitched from real Leather, a block of wood, card and some stuffing, my first try at mini furniture and it's pretty realistic non?
Faux Acrylic Coffee Table is from the base of a Palmolive washing up liquid bottle, Patchwork rug is chopped up from small carpet samples. Ottoman is a mini Playdo tub covered in recycled shoe leather. Table lamp is a dollar store bubble solution bottle, and lamp shade is scrap fabric covered piece of plastic canvas folded and stitched together.

Downstairs bathroom or Kitchen as it will be when we add more furniture to the house. Brings back memories of our Portsmouth Victorian terrace with the (only) Bathroom off the kitchen! 
Furniture is by Hape, the blue backsplash is a scrap of contact paper stuck to a piece of cereal box and the bin is a $1 toy we had kicking around. Check out the wooden duck and the mini towel, and erm if you look really closely, doesn't the shower look like a teeny weeny pair of mens dangly parts? ok just me then?



I added a menu board for when the Kitchen furniture is in place, just some corrugated card covered with painted popsicle sticks and sanded for a rustic look, and the best bit? it is actually a chalk board painted with chalkboard paint, can't find and miniature chalk mind you, but it's the crazy, up all night, should be asleep thought that counts right?!

Moving up the imaginary staircase to the bedrooms, here we arrive in the Master bedroom

Bamboo blind flooring, vintage fabric glued to the walls and a faux chair rail and baseboards/skirting boards were bamboo blind pieces again, such a great source of wood that didn't need staining.

A vintage eyelet doily for a rug, two Hexagonal Brass drawer knobs as bedside tables and some more miniature sewing.

I hated the way that bedding never sat flat when I was little, so I just sewed a tiny pintuck down each side of the bedspread, it did the trick and looks a bit more realistic. The pink cushion is knitted again with Embroidery floss and toothpicks.

The Dresser was given to me and the 'fabric' inside is bias tape or lace seam binding glued and folded around a small piece of cardboard.
Saving the best to last, here is the childrens room. The furniture again is Hape, so cute and fun, every detail is thought of.

The rug is some bakers twine looking cotton yarn I had, I just twisted it around a piece of cereal box card and glued as I went, love the rag rug look it has.

Faux cow hide rug is some minky fabric scrap simply cut in a erm, dead cow shape. Check out the amazing vintage contact paper, I love this design and the fact it has England, Canada, France, Germany and Greece on it and the illustrations are so cute. 

The flooring is popsicle sticks sanded cut and painted once stuck down, long time in the making but I do love how it turned out.

The curtains I made and added ribbon tie backs then draped a small piece of pompom trim over the top.

The whole shebang.
 Soooo still with me? still awake? understand why this project was a year in the making?... and just remember I have FOUR more of the suckers to finish lol.

Coming up? some actual real life not teeny tiny at all Sewing!


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