Saturday, February 28, 2009

The pant sew along

Thanks to all for your kind and thoughtful condolences. The funeral went very well, apparently. I spent the whole time running after Benjy (16 months) who screamed his head off unless he was allowed to play in the mud and puddles outside the chapel. TMB enjoyed it though, he came out after it was all over and wiping his eyes, said "that was a lovely funeral." Grrrreat. To top it off, Benjy got a cold (from puddle slapping and mud traipsing and the brisk weather) and woke up every hour at night, like a cuckoo clock programmed to scream hysterically.

Anyway, I missed the funeral, I missed the burial, I missed most of my family who were returning to their homes the following day so there was plenty of material to philosophise on the nature of disappointment.

Fortunately I had a quick pick me up from that panacea of all feminine ails - shopping - and came home with a lovely silver bracelet to remember my father by.

One disappointment I have been saved is that I have been talked out of what was sure to be an ill-fated silk chiffon top. I was seduced by the words, "silk chiffon, and 4 easy pieces." I have another idea about what I might do with aforementioned chiffon though but first to more pressing sewing matters.

March the first sees the start of the pant sew along. I have decided to sew these pants from the Burda World of Fashion magazine . (09 - 2008- 125). I feel the need to break the ice on this magazine. Despite purchasing them on and off for 15 years I am yet to sew a pattern from one. What I like about this pattern is the natural waist, so no nana nickers on display, the slim fit (no added bulk) and the little vent which is almost flare like at the bottom. It's been reviewed once on pattern review, and favourably, with some caution about the snugness through the waist.

Well, I feel like the Einstein of tight fitting through the waist after those A+O pants so I'm thinking "no worries mate, I've got this sorted."

Monday, February 23, 2009

"If I were 10 years younger, I'd wear that"

So said Heidi on last Friday's thrilling installment of Project Runway. I am getting to the age where I have to say things like that too. Age appropriate clothing. Aren't they 3 scary words? Mind you, all clothing is age appropriate.

Or is it? Do you think Vivienne Westwood thinks there is a time to wear knickers? By rights hers should be support wear magic pants but the only magic in her pants is their disappearing act.

Sewing wise I'm thinking about this top. I have a weakness:it's name be "silk chiffon." It is a horrible fabric to sew. It's totally unsuited to my figure and lifestyle. That's why it's SO attractive. It's the Daniel Cleaver of fabrics.

If I am going to make this top, and there's still time for me to see reason and pass on it, then I will have to lower both the neckline and waistline. Of all the aging things I could sew, it would be something that creates the illusion of a full bust sagging over a high waist. Ew! Unpleasant mental image just sprung to mind.

I'm struggling with that age old dilemma of choosing between what I should wear and what I would love to be able to wear.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The journey skirt

This skirt, Simplicity 4965, has been on quite a journey with me.

You may remember the Otago tartan I bought a while back and made a little sporran bag out of it. One of the other ideas my sister had was to put it as the backing to a box pleat skirt. Box pleat skirts are hardly the style du jour but I found this pattern in my stash and thought about how to alter it to put the Otago tartan behind the pleat. The pleat in the pattern is incorporated into the centre front, so I had to trace it off and put seam allowances on, and sew it back in. I then trimmed the seams and topstitched the front.

All in all, that solution worked reasonably well. It wasn't without hitch however, and there were some tense moments.

The journey has been more psychological than creative. I have been sewing it to wear to Dad's funeral. The sewing has been part of the preparation for that time - doing something physical gives a tangibility and reality and finality to the thoughts that go with it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The almost ethical sewing room

The builder is coming tomorrow to finish off the sewing room so I had to get my end together today. He dropped off the notice board for me to cover. I covered it in the linen tablecloth I bought not so long ago from the Hospice shop. Boy did I cuss trying to get it perfectly ironed before attaching it. But it was to no avail: the linen was determined to stay creased no matter what steam or temperature I used on it. That's linen for you.

Tonight I will glue these old buttons to the thumbtacks to make my novelty thumbtacks. Won't it look pretty?

Then when he installs the shelves I'll pop over to Trade Aid to buy some woven baskets for storage. I have a number of glass empty jam jars I've been collecting to house smaller items and a few baskets from the Sally Army to house the threads.

So all in all, a few recycled items, a few fair trade items, and some brand new no-sanctimony-whatsoever items.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Faux retro

Congratulations to Sew Funky who was the winner of the Estelle bag draw.

Friday 13th has bought me this little purchase from the op shop this morning. 2 faux retro chip and dip bowls. You know the only thing I like better than retro is faux retro? I love that someone has gone to all that effort to pretend something is older than it is: like teenagers I guess. It's got fake cracked glaze and all.

Tonight the girls and I are getting together to sip champagne and watch the first episode of next season's Project Runway.

Woo hoo! Ok .. must away to find a littl' somethin' to put in these bowls.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The draped apron

Ok ok .. I admit.. I shouldn't be sewing. I should be tidying up the house and any number of other wifely duties. But I am in the midst of a very tricky pattern alteration and so I thought I'd get some light relief by whipping up something that didn't require a pattern at all. This apron. I created it using the draping method of pattern construction whereby you pin the fabric on the straight grain to centre front of your dress maker's dummy and cut accordingly. It's that simple with an apron: it's a lot harder with anything else.

Alright, now I'd best put it on and get cracking!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

the tailored shade

My conscience was saved a workout because Spotlight don't sell lamp shade covering materials. Apparently no-one partakes in this lovely craft anymore? Anyway, I thought about my options. Look at the lovely retro lampshade created by my sister. It features retro knitting patterns, which she colour photocopied and sandwhiched between a special kind of paper which she then glued to the shade. Is that not an ingenious alternative to the traditional shade?

You'll be pleased to know that I managed to sew the tailored shade. Can I say that fitting fabric to a shade is a lot easier than pinning to a person? Anyway, I pegged it up top and bottom, used tailors chalk to mark the cut lines then sewed it together, refitted it, put on hems and added the trim. Snuggled the lot over the top and now we have a new shade. But of course I used scraps (a very good quality wool) and a vintage trim from Red Cross op shop in the village. Total cost of lamp + recovering shade = NZ $8.50 (US $4)

Tra la la la la.

PS I wish I could show you them both in situ but there's not enough light so I have to put them next to the window.

Next project: a vintage top.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Real Reality

In the last week I have been surprised by how my blogging world has become less virtual reality and more real reality. I have just finished my project for a craft swap with Iris. We agreed that we would each work on a project for a designated time and then swap. I couldn't imagine sewing anything in less than 2 hours and that is, in fact, how long my one took. So you'll have to wait and see what I made, but as you can imagine it hovers close to the edge of good taste, slightly dipping the toe over the line into bad/poor. But what fun I had making it.

The other exciting development is a sew-along with Diana and Antoinette. These people make beautiful stuff, so quite an honour. We're doing a "March" Pant. I was going to have a serious crack at reconstructing the A + O pants into 6 steps as mentioned previously. I also had definite plans of attaching my faux back welt pockets with button detail. But something at Play Centre this morning made me change my mind.

It was so hot today I was forced to roll up my jeans. Anyone who believes we are descended from apes would have found ample evidence of kinship on my legs this morning. So now I'm thinking full length loose fitting linen pants. Linen because it's the coolest fabric, loose fitting because the way linen sags and bags annoys me and I feel that any design using linen must work with this reality. You may be thinking that's an awful lot of effort to go to to avoid showing my 'grooming shy' legs. End of the day, I'm lazy, and that's the realest reality of them all.

Next project. Can't make up my mind. Think I'm going to make a new lampshade for this lamp. It's one of those old pottery ones so rendolent of the 70's. It will inevitably involve a trip to Spotlight: that place where you leave with an empty bag and return with an overloaded conscience.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Estelle bag giveaway.

That this bag has got finished in the last couple of days is nothing short of a miracle. Usually I get about an hour's sewing time a day, when Benjy has his afternoon sleep. He sleeps, I sew, we're both refreshed by the end of it. But the last 3 days he has not slept. Not morning, not afternoon, and awoken screaming every 2 hours over night. Because of a cold. A COLD. Honestly, when males get sick the whole world has to listen to the grizzling and it starts young.

But enough! TMB has taken him out for a walk and so I get some peace to write this. This bag is my first attempt at the Estelle bag, a free pattern available from Burdastyle. Its well drafted, and comes with "instructions." I say that in commas because if you didn't know how to sew the bag before you started you'd be none the wiser after reading the instructions. Oh well, hey, a free pattern and pretty nice of her to go to all the effort of drafting and writing a guide anyway. So I'm not complaining, just, perhaps, warning you if you have any plans to give it a crack yourself.

The story behind this fabric is a funny one. The outer is pure wool, and woven, top quality and only $2 a metre at a designer clearance sale. (US $1 at today's exchange rate, US 50 cents at tomorrow's) Bargain bargain bargain. It was too big to lug around, but I wanted to look through all the stock, because there was a bit of a queue at the till. So I kept looking, but had a nagging feeling, "grab that fabric."

"Ridiculous!" I thought to myself. "There's plenty on that bolt, more than enough for everyone." Still I had that nagging feeling to grab it. So I went back, and got it, and dragged it around with me. The second I left the till, the person behind me took it and said to the saleswoman, "how much for the whole bolt?"

So anyway, my good luck to you. If you would like this bag, leave a comment below. It comes with a delightful ceramic floral broach (Red cross op shop) as shown. The inner is made of upholstery fabric from my scrap stash. The inner pocket is decorated with tatted doily. The outer is pure wool coat fabric, and is pleated along the front.

It's been handmade with exhausted lurve.

Giveaway closes Friday 13, just to show it can be lucky for some. Family and friends eligible to enter.

Post editing note:

I updated the photo with one which shows how the pleats work more clearly.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Burda influence

When you first look through a Burda World of Fashion magazine do the styles look a bit weird to you? "Oh that's a bit modern." or "That's a strange detail." And then the second time, it just looks interesting. And the third time it looks great. And the fourth time you are actually quite keen to make something? That German aesthetic takes a little getting used to. But one thing I will say, I love the way they put their look together. The bag, the shoes, the belts, the jewellery, the beautiful slim model with glossy hair and impeccable make up.

Back in the real world, I tried this out with the limited time and resources available to me. I put on some make-up (which consists of tinted sunscreen and a nude lipstick, com'on this is NZ folks). I washed my hair. I put on some heels (not worn for 3 years) and a belt. Actually the story behind the belt makes me laugh, the shop assistant, in a bid to sell it to me, said, "look its reversible, black one side, brown the other... that way no matter what your shoes and handbag, you've got a belt to match."

Of course, you match your shoes, belts and handbags too.

Anyway, this is the first of the op shop fabrics made up. It's New Look 6752 with 2 lengths both of which I ignored. I cut the shorter length, then reduced a further 20 cms (8 inches for you imperialists) to get it to this top length.

Allow me a moment of gloating. It cost $3 NZD to make. It also took less time from cutting to completion than the back welts on the A+ O pant.

Oh and yes, they are the A + O pants. I found by wearing them around and letting them stretch through the bias of the crotch I can now do them up. I deliberately did not tape the waist or hip seam to allow them to stretch and they obliged. There is still a small muffin tin factor of 1.5 cms, but I can breathe, sit down, move comfortably, pick up toddler etc so I'm keeping them! Harrah! (Sorry Miss Smith, not coming your way after all). Anyway, the other beauty of this belt is that it covers all muffin tin effect and you'd only know because I was raised a Catholic and have to confess to everything.