Friday, October 31, 2008

Thrifters delight

I took my camera to the op shop this morning because I wanted to prove to you that there WAS an empty wine bottle for sale for $5. And it was gone! How's about that! I could see how this could turn into a win-win situation. Next time TMB does the supermarket shopping I'll get him to pick up a bottle of "Azure Bay" and then when I'm finished with it the good people at the Army can turn it into funding for their alcohol rehabilitation programme.

On the way I was thinking up aphorisms to wrap around the pinky bars for the Trick or Treaters. I rejected, "don't send me your dental bill," in case any of the accompanying parents got any ideas, but "have you eaten your veggies yet" is still a contender.

The poor parents. I remember one year when we went out walking there were 2 mums with a bottle of chardonany in hand. I reckon I'll need that and more when it comes my turn to traipse round houses with a collection of children dressed as ghouls.

On to the sewing. I can see why it is I have such an antagonistic attitude to changing cultural norms. It was because I was clearly meant to have been born in Jane Austin's time. Look at my craft activity for this evening. I am going to trim this bonnet with buttons and bows.  

Now thrifters out there will be interested to learn that I cut this bonnet (Vogue 8405) out in the same yardage as a bias cut skirt (Butterick 4522).  Bias skirts hog so much fabric, but this little sun hat fits right into the odd shapes left behind.  And of course I bought the patterns on sale for half price!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

To the rescue!

You may be wondering what I have decided to do about Halloween on Friday. Since it coincides with my turn to host craft night I can hardly follow my sister's first suggestion, "just close up the blinds and pretend no-one's at home." But I do really like her other suggestions, "don't cook them anything healthy, just keep a bag of prunes by the door."  Or "buy a bag of pinky bars and wrap an anti-consumerist message around each one, something like 'look where greed has got the world economy'  or 'it's not what you have it's who you are that counts.'" 

Or I could just give them a sweetie like everyone else. Goodness knows with the enthusiasm of the government to introduce anti-obesity measures it could become the only day they would legally be allowed to eat it.

You may also be curious about the empty bottle of wine for sale at the Sally Army for $5. It's still there - next to the whisky decanter and up form the sherry glass. Honestly, all that's missing from that happy scene is the bong. I was thinking, if that bottle goes, then there's clearly a market: I might see what I can flog off on Trademe out of our recycling bin.

Oh yes, this is supposed to be a sewing blog. All cushions in this photo were made from me out of sewing projects. The one with the doily is particularly satisfying since I wore the dress only once.

The back drop was a mistake purchase from the Trelise Cooper fabric sale.  The fabric could not be less appropriate for my colouring, lifestyle and after breaking 2 needles on the beads, my machine. It's nice when things can be rescued, isn't it?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Do you have a sewing policy?

The only reason I'm asking is that it's very useful to have one. The other day our cleaner asked me to take up her husband's trousers. "Won't take you a moment," she said "you've got everything set up in that room."  

Now we all know it will take a moment, very much more than a moment, a whole hour in fact. We also know that it will not be fun, it will be quite the opposite. What's more, a baby does not take care of itself for an hour while you run up your cleaner's trousers.

"Oh," I said "I'm very sorry Pat, but I have a strict no-sew policy. I only sew for myself."  And from the moment I said it,  it became true. 

The truth is, I have had some very bad experiences sewing for other people.  I have said to people, "I am not a dressmaker. My success rate is 50%. Are you prepared to be disappointed?" They say yes yes yes until they try on their garment and my heart sinks as I watch their faces fall. We are all disappointed. They wasted their money, I wasted my time.    

The surprising thing is, because it's my hobby people think I would really enjoy sewing for them for free.  I must remember that next time I come across someone who recreationally paints. They can come round and do our hallway. Think of the hours and hours of fun to be had with a paintbrush then! 

It's just not the same, is it. 

Today is Benjy's birthday and he is 1. Here is the only thing I have ever sewn for him. Of course, like all things I have sewn for anyone else he has only used it once.  We never needed this sleep sack because we found a way to pin him under the sheets so he couldn't kick them off. 

It is Burda 9807. I used Merino wool on the outside and grey cotton on the inside. The pattern calls for wovens but I thought this was way warmer and cuter. Normal rules for sewing with 2 way stretch apply. 

Happy birthday Benjy! 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The nature of the beast

Writing a blog and reading a blog are as different as watching a game of sport and playing. Once you become a stakeholder, perspectives shift. 

Now I find myself following my own advice: this blog has got to be for me. Here's what I mean: for people who are very keen home sewers there'll be too much commentary and not enough sewing. For people who are not at all interested in sewing, it'll be "less stitch, more bitch."

I have learnt a lot from other people's blogs. I've learnt that a blog is not a diary. Much as it seems that most of the time you are writing into a void in the privacy of your bedroom and in your pyjamas,  you do, in fact, have an audience, even it the stat counter tells you the biggest repeat visitor is yourself.
I have learnt that the blogs I return to most have lovely craft or lovely sewing and the people are clearly lovely too. But not too lovely.  For example, if there has been a long stretch of bad weather and they've been stuck in doors with their 3 pre school age children they don't play,"count-the-many-ways-I-love-you game."

They might play the "put your coats on and stomp in the puddles and pretend you're a duck and then traipse back into the house with your muddy gumboots and pretend you're a pig"  game.  Followed by the "oh let's watch daddy clean it all up," game. Then there will a photo close up of the lovely hand knitted jumpers the children are wearing and perhaps one of a cute little home sewn coat - with instructions - too.

Now that's my kind of blog.

Oh yes right, on with the sewing.  I have been thinking a lot about what makes the perfect stay at home mum wardrobe. My neighbour, Jenni from Across the Road (JAR), have agreed that we need to have Trinny and Susannah come in and make over our wardrobes, but without the questions about our sex lives.
This is the perfect hoodie for more generously proportioned  people, or as the women's magazines describe "our Rach" (Rachel Hunter for non-kiwi readers) "curvaceous."
The princess seams allow easy fitting (ie - easy expansion) the strong verticals are flattering.  This pattern, Simplicity 3640, gives directions for adding a lining to the hood so I put in some of this vintage fabric.

Hoodie's are perfect for this lifestyle too. They are comfy and warm and you can just chuck 'em in the wash when they get covered in weetbix

Monday, October 27, 2008

Are you a smug sewer? Take this quiz to find out:

Are you a smug sewer? Give yourself one point for every "yes" answer.
Have you ever..

1) said to a friend, "did you make that?" in shocked tones, and not meant it in a good way.
2) turned something your friend has made inside out and inspected the seams.
3) said to a friend, "nice job on the skirt, nice detailing on the hem, but have you considered doing a flat dierriere adjustment?"
4) left a message on a Pattern Review that said, "just ditch it."
5) "Love the coat, but I can see I need to show you how to ease in a sleeve correctly."
6) Gone to a fabric sale and only bought one piece of fabric because you don't keep a stash.
7) Gone to a pattern sale and only bought one pattern because you don't like starting a new project until the old one is completely finished.
8) Had a project gone horrendously wrong and not uttered a single cuss word.
9) Said to a friend, "lovely skirt, I love the way it hangs" and then grabbed it while still on the friend and worked out the drafting and construction so you could copy it.
10) Logged into the beginner's forum on Pattern Review and answered a newbie's question.

I would hate to tell you my score on the above test, but put it like this, I found it a very easy questionnaire to construct.

However, I feel a little entitled to a little smuggery because I have been sewing now for over 30 years and have more projects go straight out to Save Mart in a little pink bag than my son has had hot dinners. 

Now if I can speak directly to number 6. I went to the Karen Walker sale at Epsom Girls Grammar and only bought one piece of fabric. This piece of chambray.  I had to lower the button holes to accommodate the ric rac so now it gapes slightly and I haven't been able to rectify it with a hook and eye. When I get round to it I'll try a small dome. 

I also have such a backlog of reviews to post on Pattern Review.  I haven't quite worked out a way to get a flattering shot of me in my kit. TMB has many skills, kind photography not being one of them. Maybe I just need to find the "soft focus" option on the editing page.

Anyway, I want Helen Clark's campaign photographer. There's someone who can work miracles.

So here is Simplicity 2936. Those of you who are more interested in technical sewing detail will soon be able to read my review of it on Pattern Review. 

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Love Handles

After putting together all the bibs and bobs to launch my blog I was too tired to put any actual sewing information on the Nanna bag (you know, just in case you too come across a pair of cane handles in an op shop).  I had quite a hard time choosing a template for the blog. I loved the one that Kristy on Lower Your Presser Foot uses, but I really hate using exactly the same format as anyone else. Also, it is slightly on the tasteful side. There is another version of dots called "dark dots" which is closer to the spirit of how I write, but there's no escaping the fact it's a lot harder to read.  

Now if I was doing a "bogan chic" sewing blog I'd be home and hosed. There's a denim template, and its variants - stretch denim, and denim wash, but surprisingly, no acid washed stretch denim.  So it really only left me with "Ms Moto" which I chose because of its 70's yuppy bathroom colour scheme of pink and grey.  Also, it had a delightful detail at the top which, with a bit of imagination, could be construed as strands of ric rac or lace detail. Sold! 
The other set up detail which amused me was the box you had to tick if you blog contained "adult" themes. It does not bear thinking about does it, what people do on their blogs. But anyway, I got to thinking .. Warning! Shows seams that may offend some viewers. Contains explicit sewing instructions etc.    So anyway, here it is, my sewing blog. Like all blogs before me I suspect there will be a few months of feverish activity while I clear the back log of sewing activity and then will settle down to posting spasmodically as projects are finished in real time. 

Sewing instructions for Nanna bag : no pattern required.
You will need: 
  • One set of handles with a metal spoke that runs between the handles to support the bag.  (incidently, Spotlight sells cane handles but I'm not sure if they have the spoke) 
  • 0.4 metres of fabric and lining. 
  • 1 metre tape, 2 cms wide. (I used  a white cotton broidery anglaise trim)
  • 15 cms of narrower tape to form loop closure.
  1. Cut out 2 pieces of fabric and lining 35 (l)  x 53 (w) cms.
  2. Mark a large dot 13 cms down for the top on both sides, on all pieces of fabric.
  3. Neaten edges.
  4. Sew (seam allowance is 1.5 cms)from dot to dot along the bottom and sides of the bag and lining. Leave a large gap (12 cms) on the bottom of the lining so you can turn the bag out.
  5. Put lining inside bag, right sides together.
  6. Sew the lining and bag together between the dots, along the upper sides and top of the bag.
  7. Clip corners, turn bag out through the hole in the bottom of the lining. Use a pin to pull out corners. Slip stitch the hole closed.
  8. On the inside of the bag, 1.5 cms down from the top of the bag, attach tape, sewing top and bottom to form a casing. 
  9. Mark the centre of the bag and attach a button to the front. To the back top centre attach your loop closure (I used 14 cms of 1 cm cotton tape).
Eh voila! The Nanna bag. 
Cuss factor: none. Easy peasy made it in less than an hour.
Now for my next show and tell. There is a theory out there that you are either a shoes, handbag or underwear freak. Now I am none of these, but I'm beginning to spot a trend in my purchasing that suggests another predilection. While I was in Salvage I spotted this lovely pair of old handles. This bag was all together more complicated to construct. First I had to design a bag to go with it, because the handles came solo. Then I had to draft a pattern and a lining. Because I used dressmaking fabrics instead of upholstery fabrics I also had to add hair canvas as an interlining.   Now the origins of these handles are interesting - this bag was clearly a "craft bag" - you know, one of those bags where women used to carry around their knitting. The stitched method of attachment suggests they were never particularly strong and hence their delicate contents. Well, some things do not change - we all need a special bag to take to our craft groups, don't we? 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Nanna bag

While we were having a family day at Devonport on Sunday I passed an op shop selling a handbag made out of some very dated orange and brown curtain material. Now dated can be good and dated can be bad. It was marked down from an exorbitant-over-the-top price to half still-a-rip-off-price. But it was the handles my friends the handles. Genuine cane. Could not resist. Had visions of aluminium framed conservatories, smoked glass, bamboo furniture, chintz squabs and pillows with large ruffles. And here is : the Nanna bag. Now isn't that "good" dated?