Wednesday, November 25, 2009

There are no mistakes, only opportunities for hobo bags.

Post editing note: The very talented Judy Ross is the author of the following quote (Sorry Judy! Katherine, you are still fabulous)

If you read the fabulous Blooms Fabric Obsesssion blog, you'll remember Katherine used to have a sub header that read, "there are no mistakes, only opportunities for design features." Well, I can tell you, I have been sewing design features for a long time now.

I couldn't let those lovely pockets go to waste, and worked out how to cut the pants to get the "Hobo bag" Kwik Sew 3312 out of it. That bag needed more pockets anyway, and why let a good single welt go to waste?

From the back, I lined up the pattern along the back crotch length so that I could include all of the back yolk piece. I also LOVE the way it's just got a little bit of butt crack where the back crotch started to veer in. Pa ha ha. Sorry, very juvenile.

Anyway, I have learned my lesson about buying cheap fabric. I went to Global Fabrics and bought some beautiful lovely quality fabric. It was 30% off however, which eased the pain.

Costings: Actually, nothing. The lining was scrap from another project, and I already had the pattern.

Acknnowledgments: The idea to turn trousers into a bag came from Miss Flossy
Her students did some great jeans refashion bags.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Not a bargain, just cheap.

My sister was nearly wetting herself when she heard about my latest project.
"I can't WAIT to see them," she said. This was not meant in a kind and supportive sisterly way, blog friends. She was high on sewing schadenfreude and was looking forward to viewing my nemesis.

The fact is, I went back to Nick's to get some fabric to remake last wadder pants and you just would not credit it but the replacement fabric also had 30% crosswise stretch. Because the fibre content is not labelled, and it looked like a loose cotton weave, I just didn't think to check. Until after he had cut it.

So this time I thought I'd look for a pattern for summer pants that actually required crosswise stretch, and settle on Burda 02-2009-117. I was curious about the pocket detail, and thought I'd enjoy sewing it. I did, as a matter of fact.

And look how nicely I did it too.

The fact is, not all cheap fabric is a bargain. Sometimes, it's just cheap. The fabric is too uncomfortable to wear - it's really rough on my delicate skin, and lining won't work.

So it's welcome to wadderville, population:me.

Costings: fabric, $4, zipper + cotton, $3 = $7.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rag doll

The thing I totally love about this design is that the weighting provided by the chin and the way the arms prop the body means this doll can sit up all by herself.

Whenever I find myself saying something like, "how hard can it be?" I always end up with a project that has me swearing like a sailor.

I decided to make a rag doll out of fabric scraps, with the idea that if it was successful I'd give it to a friend's daughter who is turning 2. You'll notice I gave myself lots of room to bow out of the project, because I do have a sewing policy about sewing for friends that goes something like this: never do it.

But the possibility of making something for free appealed to my inner tight wad and being between projects it seemed the timing was right too.

Now the mother of Miss 2 is one of those parents who has a lovely home and wears beautiful clothes, so I also accepted the possibility that if the doll looked a little too "loving hands at home," then the mother would probably lose it before her daughter.

I found a doll pattern I thought looked pretty cool and easy enough for a novice doll maker. It came with printable pattern pieces but no instructions. That's when I said to myself, "hey, I sew BWOF, how hard can it be?"

Doll making is a very precise form of sewing. You are working with tiny seams and tiny seam allowances. It takes a really meticulous steady hand and a lot of practice. Clearly I had underrated the skill involved.

Twice I pulled the doll from the bin. The third time, when I said, "no, really, I've had enough of this" and was just about to finally bin her she looked at me all forlorn in her brodiere anglaise knickers and then I knew it was too late.

If you are going to ditch a doll, you have to do it before you sew on baby blue eyes.

costings: nothing

acknowledgements: many thanks to Michele for making this pattern available.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Yes, there is such a thing as sewing I don't like. For me it consists of:

1) sewing for other people
2) sewing for other things
3) mending and alterations

So it was with some reluctance that I agreed to sew a new cover for our ironing board at TMB's request. (note that this is all 3 things I hate sewing rolled into one task). He actually uses the ironing board for his clothes, I just use it for pressing. Once I sew something, it rarely sees the back of an iron again.

I happened to have a piece of upholstery fabric that I scored at the Hospice shop for a couple of bucks, so I traced round the edges of the board, added some piping, then sewed a bias "skirt" on the bottom. I recycled the drawstring from the old cover and zig zagged it in place on the edges. When you pull it tight it holds the skirt and secures the cover tightly to the frame.

A long hour and a half of my sewing life. Precision measurement, precision sewing. Mildly resentful thoughts.

And here it is, ready for another round of action packed pressing with all my lovely pressing equipment: (iron, pressing cloth, point presser, sock ham and professional ham, sleeve board.)

Cost: half a piece of upholstery fabric from Hospice shop in the village, $2.00, piping 10c. Yes, that's right. I got about a hundred metres of it on sale for a couple of bucks. I have piping for life.

Now the reason I get to make so much stuff is that my son very obligingly has a lovely long (3 hrs) afternoon nap. However, lest you think everything is too cruisey on this home front, he also starts the day at 5:30 am, which is quite a bit less pleasant.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What does your colour say about you?

Post editing note: the back elastic looked a bit wonky to me so I redid it and made one of those back waist band thingies while I was about it.

Or so a chalk written question on a blackboard outside a hairdressers' asked all who passed its premises. My colour says I am going grey, and recently my hairdresser broached the subject.

HD: Now I see we are getting a little salt in there with the pepper, would you like to talk colour possibilites?

Me: You know, Dutch painters used to paint still-lifes with decaying fruit and bones to remind us that we are all going to die. Let's call my grey my little piece of "memento mori."

HD: (pause) aah that would be a "no" then?

I went looking for fabric for my pants and came back with this instead.

I fell in love with the sky blue with gold glitter. As soon as I saw it I thought, "wow, that's real Queen Mother material." And then I thought about it a bit more and thought, "no, hey, it's more Camilla Parka Bowles."

I've always been meaning to get back to this pattern BWOF 03-2009-115. I've been thinking recently it's really a good idea to make Burda patterns more than once - the first time most of your time is spent tracing and trying to figure out the instructions - second time is a breeze and you can fix all those annoying first time round mistakes.

So what does this colour say about me? It says I am a fabric magpie who can't resist a bit of glitter; it says for some inexplicable reason I am drawn to dress like an old lady; it says my sense of humour finds its way into everything I do and everything I wear.

Costings: fabric $12 (Nick's) Interfacing $10, thread $4.50, elastic 50 c (only used a tiny bit) retro buttons 4 for $2 (Salvage). = $29.00

I'm sorry that the sun has bleached out the fabulous glitter quality to this coat and you can't see many of the details, which is a pity, but we have to take our child free photo opportunities when we have them.

Look at that great 70's collar

And from the back, I inserted elastic to pull in the back waist fullness rather than make the belt.

Hopefully you can make out the pockets in this photo, as they are a central design feature to this coat.

Here are the vintage buttons and you can see a better representation of the colour of this coat.

The technical drawing, courtesy of Burda:

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Making lemonade out of a lemon.

We all know what the lemon was.

Here's the lemonade: Burda 9828. Cut one piece out of each leg. This fabric is so perfect for this use because we use cloth nappies with our son and commercially purchased trousers are often too small in the butt. With 30% crosswise stretch everything fits very nicely. The green is a little bit pastelly so I manned the pattern up by adding their optional cargo pockets and adding some navy blue buttons.

Righty ho that's enough sewing for someone else let's get back to more important matters: sewing for me.

It has been said several times, and in a manner not meant to be flattering, that I am a person who always has to have the last word. So this is not the last you have heard of Burda 07-2009-102. I have already sized it up with another straight-legged pattern that works well for me and added about an inch an half to the front leg so we are good to remake this number as soon as I get some appropriate fabric.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

If you enjoy other people's wadders, check these out.

Worst. Project. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever.

However, I have to say I learned some very useful lessons and you know the saying, "what doesn't kill you, only makes you a better sewer." Or words to that effect.

I learned that

1) not all stretch corduroys are created equal
2) the primary use of stretch corduroy is for skinny jeans, and skinny jeans are for skinny people.

Can you see what made me fall in love with the pattern though (BWOF 07-2009-102)? It was this dinky little flap extension and the slanted squared off pockets. I also felt the straight leg had potential, but it is a very narrow straight leg and I prefer something a little wider.

But because I realised very early on I had a wadder on my hands, I experimented with finish, and practised edgestitching and catching the inside facing of the waistband at the same time. Normally that produces horrendous results for me. One side is always wonky. The secret, blog sewing friends, is the edge foot on your machine.

Sewing on the inside, you run the bar along the joining seam and position the needle slightly to the left. It automatically catches it evenly on both sides.

The Wadder Wallet:
fabric - 8 bucks, zip+cotton 4 bucks, 1 piece of tissue 2 bucks, Interfacing 1 buck = $15 bucks of landfill liner.

ps Miri, not even for gardening, or mucking the cows.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The "f" words.

To a home sewer, the big 4 "f" words for successful projects are:

- fit: tailoring the pattern to your body
- finish: sewing everything nicely and neatly and accurately
- fashion: choosing a style that suits you
- fabric: matching the weight and hand of the fabric to the design of the garment

I fell down BIG time on the last one. I decided to make a pair of cords in Burda 07-2009-102, and sewed them in a stretch corduroy. Since I have sewed stretch corduroy before, I was lulled into a false sense of security about its properties, thinking they were all alike.

Wrong. Only after I sewed these pockets and they stretched out did I stop to measure exactly how much stretch was in them. 30%. That's HUGE. That's MASSIVE. That's like, this is so wrong, so very wrong, for this pattern.

So I added a few more "f" words to my repertoire and thought about what to do.

In comes TMB to the kitchen to find me chortling away to myself.
"what are you laughing about?"
"oh I was just remembering my last pair of green cords."
"they were given to me by my sister for my birthday. They were hideous. She realised she'd made a blunder after buying them and decided to "regift" them to me."
"so why is that so funny?"
"I've just remembered it's her birthday at the end of this month."