Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Jacket Sewalong

Well, I've joined the jacket sewalong hosted by Sherry (see the button in the side bar for the link)- and this oldish dog is looking forward to learning some new tricks.

I have been hunting for a while for the right pattern - I learned a long time ago that I only like to wear stretch on the top and will only wear a jacket if it is required out of doors to keep me warm while walking somewhere. For this reason, it had to be a warm but casual affair.

The fabric was some vintage wool I scored off Trade-me (NZ's ebay) - I was so paranoid about it having moth holes I asked the seller twice to check for them! No worries, he said, it's been stored in moth balls for the past 50 years.

He was not wrong. When it first arrived it stank so badly I had to store it in an isolation unit - a plastic box far away from anything else. Then I read up about how to get rid of the smell of moth balls. I read somewhere that sunlight and a fresh breeze will do the trick. They don't. I then decided to throw it through the washing machine with some wool wash and on a wool cycle. I figured if the fabric was too delicate for the washing machine it was too delicate for me.

After the first wash and line dry it smelled a lot better. I then threw it in a second time and after that it now just smells a little like soured perfume.

The fabric is so unusual - beautiful colours that you could not find now.

For the pattern, by a twist of fate, I ended up choosing the Jorinde pattern from the BurdaStyle downloadable section. It is free, which warmed the cockles of my thrifty heart.

The model picture I find a little curious - exactly why is she hovering in the doorway of the men's toilets? Or is it a gentleman's club? Either way, hanging round a men's only area wearing velvet and cheap lace gives the impression she might be on the job, if you know what I mean.

(Karin, did you notice the blue button - they repeated it in the sleeve buttons and the same colour is in the lining, I'm really liking that surprise of the offbeat colour)

It also has the worst instructions ever, straight from google translate. There is a lot of talk about piping and piping straps. I think they mean welt pockets, but since there are no directions for cutting welt strips anywhere on the pattern that's just an educated guess.

I spent Saturday night piecing the paper together and then cutting out the pieces - because of the paper I can't tissue fit it, so I cut and pinned a quick muslin.

It was an enjoyable evening's work because I could do it in front of the TV - which I never normally watch- and found the Aussie programme " the farmer wants a wife" strangely compelling. It is a reality show following 6 farmers whose rural location and social isolation makes it difficult for them to find a partner. The reality show sets them up on a whole lot of dates, and they have to choose one to partner up with. Although I find myself wishing the men the best of luck, I want to shout at the women, "don't go there! you do not want to spend your life in the middle of nowhere where you have nothing in common with any of the people you never get to see!"

(if anyone reading this lives in a farming district in Australia, tell me, is it as lonely and tough for the women as I fear?)

So now I'm ready to sewalong, but because of my advanced rated jacket with front pockets set into piping straps I think it may well turn into a swear-a-long.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The dress that decided itself.

I bought this fabric at the Zambesi sale last year - I had 5 minutes to grab some stuff as I was parked on restricted parking and I had no way of paying for the ticket. There were some beautiful fabrics there, and I wish I'd had a chance to fully acquaint myself with them. I would have come back with many new friends.

As it was I had time for this this fabric, a wool remnant, and some beautiful lining fabric. The fabric was sold to me by the designer for Zambesi herself so I had a chance to ask her what they used it for - a pencil skirt, apparently, but she also suggested it would look good as a simple sheath or shift dress.



I immediately thought of this pattern (Burda 05-2010-108) and it was like it just wanted to be made this way. I found myself going down to the Bernina shop to buy the zip, and hunting down the pattern before I'd even consciously decided to make it. I read in the New Scientist recently that before we consciously tell our bodies to do something, a brain signal has already been sent to the appropriate limb. In other words, we decide something and then we have the conscious thought, and this dress was an embodiment of that principle.

This dress was made to wear out to dinner this week. Our Thursday night supper club is going posh this week to celebrate a birthday, and I thought it would be good to wear something simple, but with pedigree.

Now if I could get a bag and shoes with some pedigree we'd be sorted - I once dated a guy who sold very expensive jewellery to the Parnell set. He told me never judge a woman's financial status by her clothes - the money was always in her accessories.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The denim dress.

I am fond of a good denim dress. With the stiff fabric they tend not to cling and who can argue with their wash'n'wear laundry 'tude.

As soon as I saw this design in Ottobre (02-2011-14) I knew I would be making it in denim but had to cast around for a sleeve option - it's a little past sleeveless season now (for those who need to know, I subbed in Burda 05-2010- 112).

Just one word of warning about this dress - I am short and I lengthened it 4 cms. It is still above my knee. That's totally OK for someone who likes to show their thigh spread when they sit down, or who enjoys flashing the playground with their underpants when they bend over. Not so great for those more modesty inclined -henceforth I believe some dreaded mamma leggings will be out in force.

At any rate, I still love this dress, and see myself making it a few times over, although slightly longer.

Vintage buttons on the front:

Left off the breast pockets and eventually the hip pockets will have buttons too but it may take a while to find a compatible button:

Front view:

Back view:

.. and many thanks to gMarie for my Stylish blogger award!

(Aucklanders may be interested to know that I purchased this denim at Global Fabrics but I see that Nick's has just got it in for $4 a metre)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The strands of life

Simplicity 2403

I've been thinking a lot this last week about the stands of life - when I bought this fabric, I bought it solely because it reminded me of the colour my hair used to be. I then teamed it with some fur on the collar to what my hair is becoming.

Another reason I thought about the strands of life is how sometimes echos from the past can come into the present. One of the women I started my very first craft club with died in the Canterbury quake. This was more than 20 years ago, and I may never have even thought of her again had her death not been the result of such a catastrophic event. We worked together in a resort town, in the far backwaters of the South Island, and we were both working our student vacation cleaning hotel rooms. We were immediately set apart from the rest of the staff because we were students - further aggravated by the fact we didn't drink and were saving all our money! If word had got around that we also met to sew patchwork, do embroidery and knit we would have been mocked out of town.

I spent a year of my life in Christchurch and ended up in Auckland through the twists and turns of fate that all of us encounter in our lives - a decision to go here, do this work, date this person and marry that one. We are often blissfully unaware of what might have happened on the road not taken, the precariousness of life sheltered from us.

Such were the thoughts going through my head as I was making this dress, thinking about the things that have happened in my life from when my hair was one colour and what it is becoming as it changes to the next.

The other thing about it that reminds me a bit of life's journey is the huge number of mistakes, false steps, unpicking and recutting I had to do on it. Let me list them for you here

- recut front facing (forgot to lengthen after FBA)]
- sewed collar stand and collar and made a dreadful job of it, unpicked whole thing
- recut collar stand, threw out old collar and decided to use fur instead,
- recut and sewed new collar.
- recut front waistband - forgot that a 2 inch FBA is only for one side so had to add 4 inches to waist, grrr.
- let out one set of front pleats because miscalculated the difference between the top and bottom
- resewed invisible zipper as had twisted one side round the wrong way. grrr.
- recut one sleeve, lost it somewhere
- resewed one sleeve, put it in inside out
- ran out of thread and had to finish with black
- stuffed up the buttonholes, mercifully hidden by the buttons

Well, as you know, we do have to suffer for our art.

I was a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to wash the dress because the fur collar is attached, but then I though, "hey, it's BROWN, not like anyone's going to know."

I am in two minds about the fate of this dress - as is, I can tell you it does not look good. I am tossing up whether to literally cut my losses and severe it at the bodice to make a plain skirt or just to donate the whole thing to the Sally Army. At this stage I'm probably leaning towards the former so I can reuse the cute leather buttons.

Well, after all that work and all that frustration, a wadder.

That, as they say, is life.