Monday, April 27, 2015

It's been...0 days since my last fabric purchase

And a couple of weeks since my last post. I'm afraid I've been buried under mountains of paper for uni, and very little sewing has happened except for the odd bit of quilting.

Some time ago, I cut up a bundle of old T-shirts that held sentimental meaning for me and stitched them into the front of a quilt. I backed it with an old sheet and put a bit of batting in between, then carefully folded it up and put it in a bag.

A month or so ago I go sick of moving the bag to sweep and started quilting it with an odd assortment of embroidery silk that's been loitering in my sewing box since Moses was floating about in a basket. It's become a slow process that has acted as a kind of meditative process to relax me when I'm stressed and can't part with more that 15-20 minutes for sewing. It's one of those things where you need to concentrate just enough that errant thoughts can't make it in, or if they do they float through briefly and then bugger off.

There's only another 6 weeks of insanity left until I'm hopefully all done with this study caper and I can do things like find people who live near me to sew with, and play team sports and not work the equivalent of a 70 hour week (if you count study-load and work-for-pay together). And I've only got about 20'000 words total to put into a variety of assessments. Totally do-able, right?

In the meantime, I've been appeasing my desire to sew by loitering over sewing blogs like the dodgy guy in the dirty mag section of the news agency. Lladybird Lauren has, as always, been completing the most amazing array of projects even though she's just moved house. And Miss HandmadebyCarolyn trotted out this beautiful quasi-quilted dress last week...not quilted so much as pieced from pieces of old T-shirts, but mind-blowing! And Miss Katie Who Writes Stuff made some pyjama shorts out of some of the fabric I sent her, and that was also cool. They're really pretty! So, you know, the loitering around other people's pretty projects keeps my inner sewing-addict happy in the short term.

But then sometimes I walk past the op shop and they'll have new fabrics in and even though I swore that I wouldn't buy any more fabric until I'd emptied my current stash a bit...

But...well...I had to! Because ribbing is so expensive, and handy to have about, especially for the Free-Tee-Patterns project that I'm planning to do.

And where else are you going to find such mad retro paisley goodness? Besides, I was only in there for 5 minutes, so it's not like I lost a lot of study time or anything.**

**That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

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!