Friday, April 10, 2015

Thurlowed denim should be deeply pocketed, no?

I meant to post this a week or so back, but somehow I managed to collect one of those delightful vomitty-bugs that make you wish you didn't exist...and then I had assignments...and now here we are...

Some time ago, after falling in love with Miss Lladybird Lauren's Thurlow's from the Sew-Along I broke my promise to not buy anymore patterns* and invested in Sewaholic's Thurlow's. It's been nearly a year, I think, but life's been busy.

Anyway, so the other week I was in Spotlight and the denim was on sale. And my pants have all been getting tight, so I picked up a role of something I liked the look of and did a guesstimate of required length to bring home for Thurlation. It's been a steady process over the past few weeks: adjusting the pattern here, loosing a pattern piece there, cutting them out, putting them together, adjusting them. But overall, I'm quite in love with the pattern and I've already embarked on the next pair. There shall be many.

Two things struck me heavily upon inspecting the pattern:
1) The finished length of them is normally 34". OMG! This is unheard of in the world of a woman with a 36" inseam who has to buy most of her clothes from specialists like Long Tall Sally. For once, I only needed to add 2", not 6". It was a delightful shock change.
2) Tiny pockets are not to be had! You're talking to a woman who hates handbags and wants to lead an existence sans them so she doesn't end up sans them. The back pockets were deepened by about a Samsung's length and the front ones by it's width.

That done, it was time to start cutting out the pieces.

Except muggins here had decided to do this on the back patio in the sunshine to cut out her Thurlows. A little gust of wind came along and departed with the pattern piece for the belt loops, whisking it away much like the dancing plastic bag from American Beauty, before depositing it into the top of the neighbour's tree .

So I wrote to Sewaholic with my tale of woe. And in the mean time I clipped on regardless, learning that my fabric purchase was a little bit on the short side, but adequate. And I fossicked through my off-cuts bin for some left over cotton lining for the waistband and deepened pockets. Luckily Caroline took pity on my tale of woah and furnished me with the dimensions of the belt loops piece. I ended up having to cut it in two half lengths, but since the piece gets cut into six even lengths this wasn't exactly a terrible emergency.

The pants went together beautifully, although I made a couple of changes to the process. One was to cut out both the front pieces and the waistband out using only the right hand pieces and trimming off the excess later. This was partly because I'm lazy and partly because of the history attached to the whole girls/boys button opening thing.

My objection to the left/right thing falls to the bit about class and who dresses me. Way back in the day, ladies clothing opening to the left and men's to the right. This was supposed to indicate that the lady had a maid to dress her (whether or not she did). Now, with delusions of grandeur summarily binned, I do dress myself, thank you very much. And I do detest having to twist my wrist at a weird angle to do up my pants.

Ergo, these Thurlows are a little bit bisexual in the details. What, with their pockets large enough to hold a phone, keys and a wallet AND their opening suited to a right-handed gal zipping and buttoning instead of a left-handed one. There is no point making things for your own needs if you don't actually sculpt them to your own needs. And next time I like to think that I won't have issues with buttonholing the waistband.

The one thing I really did get a little tricked up with was stitching up the back, but having now managed it, I must say that I quite like it. It allows for future fitting adjustments - adjustments that I intend to need. I misjudged the back seam at first, and the pants were a little too loose, and I so I got to test this whole concept straight away. It was nothing a belt couldn't fix, but it's not the way you want them to be forever. So I unpicked Round 1 and adjusted to what is now a fantastically comfortable pair of pants.

Besides! Look at all that pocket!

Dare I say, I �� them. Even though seeing photos of myself in them indicates that I'm not nearly as fat as I thought I was when I cut them out. They're ridiculously comfy, and when I'm wearing them I feel like my inner Katherine Hepburn is rising to. Besides, I've always been a bit of an arseless wonder. It runs in the family.

I've cut out a pair of yellow chevron Thurlow shorts as Take 2 already, although I might go back and shave a little off the hips so they're not quite so hangy.

* I know, right! It's hilarious that the thought makes it even halfway across my brain. HahahahahHAHAHAhaaha.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Denim Spaghetti

Anyway, this is what it looks like when you take several pairs of jeans and cut them into little strips about half an inch wide with a view to turning them into a mat. A mat like zeeeeees....

This is of course a work in progress. I started this a couple of years ago, and times flies while shit is going wrong. I got as far as the bit with the cutting up of another 3 pairs of jeans. It wasn't until just before Christmas last year that I finally sat down with a No. 10 crochet hook and twisted it all into what you see above.

Turning all that denim spaghetti into a great long string to be crocheted into a mat is quite a straightforward thing. You just cut a little slit in the ends of two pieces, like so.

And then feed one through the other like so...

And the feed the end of the other back through the first one like this...

Et voila!

You have a cute little denim knot, and a much longer piece of denim-spaghetti to crotchet into a mat so comfortable that L'Poochio actually prefers it to her multiple other locations for the purposes of naps and working those big brown puppy-dog eyes.

Of course, this is the mini-version. That's 3-jeans worth there, so by the time I've No.10'd through the rest of the denim-spaghetti it should be substantially larger.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A map with pockets leads to Carolyn Pyjamas.

Where else would it lead?

Not so very long ago Closet Case Files launched the Carolyn Pyjamas, in honour of one of my favourite bloggers, Carolyn, who made some fabulous pyjamas from her namesake pattern.

Their launch was perfectly timed to coincide with my non-religious version of sewing Lent. I'd sworn that I wouldn't be accumulating any more patterns or fabrics until I'd used a fair chunk of the ones that I already have. I'd even started to divulge myself of some of my fabric stash by exchanging it for a promise of shared images of the end projects.

But this pattern has pockets!


And if there's a way to my little sewist's heart, I suspect it could be through pockets, for that pattern launched itself into my Downloads file and out of my printer so fast that you'd think it was cash.

This of course led to the conundrum of "What do I make it from?" now that my fabric collection had shrunken. As luck would have it, I had a piece of op-shopped rayon in what is now "The Remains Of The Stash".

And guess what?

It was covered in a print of little Caribbean maps. Yes, maps! More maps!!

<Here we go again.>

So I give you several pocketfuls of Caribbean Carolyn Pyjamas.

The pattern goes together so quickly and easily, and with some careful consideration you can actually squeeze them out of less fabric than recommended. It turned out that barely 2 metres of 1.10m wide fabric left me a little short for cuffs, so I picked up some contrasting plain rayon from Spotlight and that seems to have done the trick.

The pants pockets are made from some cotton in the rag bin.

Even adding the piping wasn't as much of a hassle as I'd always thought; although I did skip putting it down the front facings, and stopped at the edges of the collar.

The pockets are a style that I've never made before, cut in one piece. Apparently this is quite common for Closet Case Files patterns, and it flows together quite nicely. I did lengthen her (already generous) pockets by about an inch, only because you can never have enough pocket. Well...also partly because my hands are rather large and I want to be able to slouch with my hands fully in my pockets.

A quick rifle through my button collection turned up some perfectly sized and toned pink buttons that I probably wouldn't have looked at twice otherwise. They're from a jar of buttons I picked up from an op-shop years ago for just a few dollars. The ladies who ran the shop used to cut the buttons off non-saleable items and sell them in jars. The faux fly turned out to be the perfect place to keep the spares for future losses.

Another nifty thing that I tried out on these is an elastic band tip that Lladybird Lauren blogged a few months ago. Now, I didn't stitch it in exactly as per the instructions; I stitched the casing rather than the elastic, but it was a much faster approach for getting everything together.

I believe that I can credit this pattern with breaking my sewing-drought. Will I be using it again? Absolutely! I've got a smooth old pair of golden-coloured sheets that are too worn in the middle to use on the bed anymore, but have oodles of fabric for making a full length pair (a la Celia-style recycling). And they're thousand thread count cotton sateen - you just can't turn that into cleaning rags.

At one stage I had intended to give these to a friend as a present. But she doesn't seem to be keen to come and collect them, and its been a month, so until she does...

Friday, March 20, 2015

What's that? You're still alive??

Time flies, it appears, when you're busy being busy. I didn't mean to leave it a year and a half between updates. I just...I was doing an Engineering degree. And I lost my camera. I mean, I still made stuff (stuff that I no longer fit into because, as it happens, I was also busy increasing my girth).

Anyway, at some point across that missing 18-odd months, HandmadebyCarolyn made an amazing skirt from some world map fabric that was passing through Spotlight. She used one of her favourite patterns: Vogue's V1247, and adapted the skirt pattern to cut the map all in one piece. She did a brilliant job, which I shamelessly ripped off (I promise I'm not a stalker).

Then last week I was delighted to discover that despite the fact that I'm now a little more Joan Harris is shape, it still did up! That's right. I could wear it, and I did. I'm afraid my self-portraits end up a lot more like this, than like anyone else's beautifully snapped images, so I may go back to the bit where I leave me out of it and just take pictures of the garments to share.

This was a bit of a throw together job, so the pocket was made using some white cotton something-or-other from the rag bin, and the skirt was hemmed using a bit of orange biased binding that I'd picked up god-knows-where.

All in all, I'd like to make another one, when I'm slightly less rotund and likely to do this to the back seam:

and the back fastening do this:

Next time, I think I might iron on a little interfacing to help stabilise that particular seam. To be fair, I was stitching right on the edge of the fabric, and it isn't the most's inclined to fray, but it could still do with some help. 

All in all, I'm rather happy with this skirt. I'd never have glanced twice at this pattern had Carolyn not done so many incarnations of it. It turns out that it's a great base pattern to play with; and it also turns out that the placement of those pockets is totally worth ripping off for other patterns. 

So, there may well be more pocketed skirts in the future...and hopefully more posts, now that I have a relatively organised home and life from which to make things.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Getting There...

Oh, semesters. How they impinge on the creative process. I've done very little sewing for the past month. Mostly just assignments. And following sewing blogs.

Yet, somehow I've managed to stumble across a new source of patterns and I wonder if anyone has tried Style Arc patterns (assuming anyone ever looks at this blog apart from me). If nothing else, there's a fantastic jumpsuit pattern on there, and a pretty neat Tuxedo Jacket pattern (although, I have one in a Burda magazine that I want to try out first).

Right. Until after November 18th, sew well, sew happy. xo

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hanging On By A Thread

Good Morning!

Uni started back a few days before my last post, and somehow nearly two months have flown past in a whirl of study balance with work and spring-time illness. I haven't given up on sewing though.

All the blogs that I love to sew lean heavily towards making dresses (particularly Dolly Clackett's. Oh, howI love her creations. And Oh! The shoe envy!!). But I have a wardrobe full of dresses that are too lovely to part with but that I rarely wear. I'm really a pants wearing kinda gal. So my latest project is working towards making some Giant Bug Kwiksew Dungarees...which we call Overalls in Australia...out of some duck cloth that I found in Spotlight the other day. It has GIANT BUGS all over it. They are brilliant and awesome. However I am doing a practice run on some cheap, garish blue plaid suiting that I picked up for a few dollars a metre for just these kind of things. It's the kind of fabric that screams Private School Uniform, although at time of purchase I had an image of Dr Who floating around in my head. I don't know why!

There are no photos to share of the Giant Bugs at this moment, but I'll add them in later. I'm trying to be a good girl and not spend money on fabric (that I don't have time to sew) while I have an ever-growing stack of bills on the fridge. September seems to have been designated Annual Bill Overload Month.

I can however update on two earlier planned projects:

Project 1: The Practice Dress is currently still a disaster. I need to completely unpick it and then recut it. Or turf it altogether (which would be a shame, given the fabric is so lovely). Although I've gained a bunch of weight in the past few weeks, so maybe the looseness is not so loose anymore. Sigh. I've never loved unpicking things.

Project 2: The Perfectly Pleated Manequim Blouse is stalled due to a wee translational issue. That being that I missed the point that the pattern is about 3 sizes smaller than will fit me. The result of a cross between my blind enthusiasm and lack of attention when reading pattern sizings in Brazilian.
So I need the time to make serious adjustments, and more butter paper. Curious Kiwi pointed me towards Jackson's in Fremantle for Butter Paper which is brilliant for tracing patterns, but I ran out after tracing off my Elisalex pattern. So I'm contemplating buying an industrial length roll of tracing paper and installing it into one of my bookshelves on a little curtain rod.

Alright. I just wanted to do a quick update for the whole month of September (slim as those pickings may be). I'm desperately keen to make a Robson Coat after seeing Curious Kiwi's purple model, but I'm hanging out for Spotlight to have one of their ridiculous sales on Vogue patterns to see if I can get my hands on V8884 for a fraction of the price instead. I'll probably fold and get a Cambie and a Robson in one hit, but the logic saves my bank account for a bit.

In the mean time, Happy Sewing!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Completed: Elisalex #'s 1 & 2

Well. I've been on a bit of a procrastinatory bent sewing purge this week. My impulse purchase made it from bolt to machine in record time, AND I busted my stash for one of my planned Elisalexes. I LOVE THIS PATTERN. No wonder everyone's been making 500 versions of it. The fit is immaculate, and even if I'm a shitty photographer and look like a total looming squint-machine, I feel fabulous in them. I also think I look pretty good in the mirror. If only I was like Garbo, and transformed into a magically gorgeous being before the camera lens, but alas, it is not so.


Goldilex is the result of giving into the shiny pretty fabric buying impulse last week. Turns out that metallic fabric is almost as difficult to sew as slippery silk! Because of the way the little hearts were woven in, I turned the pattern 90˚ and cut across the grain, so that the hearts would sit upright and flow around the body. Matching up the little lines is not one of my strongest suites, but I think I did ok.

And look - Cowboy print pockets!

I apologise for my terrible photography. But I do love the shiny, pretty! Partly because it is (a) shiny and pretty, and partly because anything (a) makes me think of (b) a Jimmy Neutron episode where Jimmy's brains get totally fried and he says "Shiny. Me like shiny." And besides that, I feel like the femme fatale from a Bond movie (and I always did think they had the most fun of anyone, death be damned).

The bodice fit was beautiful, and easy as to achieve. Hemming the skirt was less so; but damn it was long! Not a problem I often encounter (in all my 6'2"ness). This particular fabric frays like hell, so I having carefully lined the skirt up with the selvage I was want to trim it up to reach the desired length. In the end, I kind of rolled it, and stitched it in place every two inches, which preserves the gold-foil effect somewhat. I'll probably only wear it a handful of times, so what the hell! I also adapted a pocket from one of my New Look patterns, and stitched it into the side seams with a couple of little furfies. 1) I really should sit it down the hip a little, and 2) I stitched the pocket onto the side seam at 5/8" instead of 3/8". Stumbling across Charlotte's fabulous pocket sewing tutorial lead me to think about all the things I'd done wrong and correct for the next version...da-da-daaah! 


Having tested on the Elisalex pattern fit with my shiny pretty slipper fabric, it was time to crack out the Starry, Starry Night fabric from Spoonflower. I bought this fabric to make something that I could remember my friend Adriaan by. Adriaan was a blacksmith, and a complex and wonderful friend whom I've known for 13 years. Last year, he took his own life after a long battle with depression, and his family chose Don McLean's Vincent (Starry, Starry Night) as the funeral song to reflect his life. 

I apologise for my own goofiness, and somewhat half-heartedly for my pocket obsession. They're Pockets! You're surely aware of how few dresses actually have them. Apparently it's got something to do with not making women's hips look bigger. 

I'm afraid I got a little over enthusiastic and stuffed up the patten matching in the bodice-to-skirt direction. Spoonflower's Cotton Sateen is BEAUTIFUL to sew with, but expensive, so I had to squeeze this dress out of only 2 yards. It was quite a challenge, and I did manage to match the pattern around the bodice, if not skirt-to-bodice. If I were doing this again, I think I'd cut the bodice first and patch the skirt together to work a better flow; and possibly invert the pleats. But then on the other hand, it does become something of an example of the disjointed nature life experiences of mental illness. And in a similarly disjointed segue, I did not stuff up the pockets this time. (Win!)

For future reference, I think I'll not wear it with the thicker belt again. It just makes me look too top-heavy.

Overall, I'm quite in love with By Hand London's patterns. This one goes together so quickly! I suddenly need all of their patterns. And the tutorials are fabulous.