Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hello everyone.

I had hoped to show you a pair of jeans that I made after taking a sewing class with Sherry, you know the Sherry.  However, I made a few construction and fitting errors with them and they need work and I'm unmotivated. They sit waiting to be unpicked and refitted. And sit. And sit.

I haven't sewn for months and I have lost all interest in it. Burdastyle magazine came into the shop and I wandered down several weeks later to pick it up. No hurry,  I thought.

All my creative energy at the moment is going elsewhere - cooking and planning for some big transitions.

So rather than let this blog limp along I thought I would bring it to completion : to borrow from  the poet  T S  Eliot, "this is how the universe ends, not with a bang, but a whimper."

Or perhaps, just a final smirk.

All the best everyone, thanks for playing along  xxx

Friday, August 10, 2012

Hello there, blog friends and family, remember me?  I am still here, never fear.  And here's a little treat I have for you today: Karen's Studded Shoulder Bag, from Pieceful Life Designs.  She sells her bag patterns through Patchwork passion and apparently if you email them they will send it out to you, including international purchases. Link here: http://www.patchworkpassion.co.nz/patterns_1.html

Isn't she a beauty? Isn't this so totally me? Let me count the ways.

1) made with lilac tweed purchased from thrift shop

2) lined with fake shantung purchased from thrift shop. Pattern includes internal pocket and key ring.

3) wouldn't the Queen mum have just loved its delightful texture in shades of lavender?

4) the kit of hardware you purchase with the bag pattern has really good quality sturdy studs.

5) it neatly fits all things required for my lifestyle - sunglasses, umbrella (often used simultaneously) sketch book, purse, keys, snack box.

6) the proportions of the bag are really aesthetically as well as practically pleasing. I have included a body shot so you can see how the bag sits on the body. 

a new bag with an old bag

We made the bag in our sewing guild meeting, and we were lucky enough to have Karen (the designer of the bags) herself be our tutor. A whole day of uninterrupted sewing. A room full of sewing enthusiasts. Learning new techniques. Priceless.

Sometime this weekend I will write a Pattern Review for this bag and enter it into the bag making competition. It would be nice to win of course, but if there is one thing I have learned from my journey over the last couple of years, sometimes just being able to participate is a victory in itself.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Kilt is Reborn

Ottobre 02-2007-12
Reincarnation is the belief that our soul is preserved wholesale and transferred to a new body; rebirth is the belief that some essential essence is passed on, a unique energy force if you like, but not necessarily a fully preserved personality delivered to a new form.

I like to think of this skirt as a "rebirth".  I preserved some of the likeness of the original, and kept some of the features that made the original what it was, but changed it to make it more my style.

The skirt cost me $4 at a church fair. I was told it belonged to the minister. It was made by a kilt maker in Scotland, so the inside label told me. I love knowing about its past life. I reused the zipper and the lining, waste not want not, that's the Scottish way, and certainly the way I was raised, and from a world ecology point of view, the way to go.

the original skirt, pleated front and back, mid calf length

I wanted to reference the pleats, so topstitched the outer fold and pressed out the inner ones. I needed pockets so put in some front welts. I used scraps of plain silk to avoid the clash of lines that a bias strip of tartan would create and put on a double set of vintage ochre buttons to visually anchor the solid piece of colour to the front.

silk welt pocket with vintage button decoration, faux pleats

committing to the look: vintage bag, hand knitted gloves, thrifted pashmina, thrifted button necklace, thrifted jumper, woolen singlet

This skirt is part of a complete "nanna chic" outfit I have in mind. The other pieces comprise a shirt and a cardigan.  I will chip away at it over the next wee while. We'll see how it unfolds.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Smug up-cycled pillow cluster

I promised I'd post my "smug up-cycled pillow cluster" for my sister.  The title comes from this website, and I feel there is just enough smugness in this compilation to reference it.

The story behind these fabrics is a good learning lesson for anyone who buys fabric off the Internet. I saw the tartan fabric and instantly thought, "Rupert bear trousers" - as you do. When I asked the seller what the composition was she said, "I don't know, but it has some wool in it."  It was cheap, so I took a risk. When it arrived it was immediately obvious that it was upholstery fabric.

So I made them in to cushion covers for our reading pillows. I just used whatever we had on hand to fasten the back closures - a heavy zipper applied externally and a button flap.

The new couch cushions though, were 'internet buying lesson'  in BOLD and CAPITALS.

I saw the fabric, liked it, and put an auto bid on. Several days later, I noticed that the description had changed to include evidence of damage. Was that added later or was it always there and I was too quick to put in a bid to read properly? I didn't know, and that worried me, because obviously I wasn't paying enough attention.

Then when the fabric arrived it had sun fade and 3 hems. Yes, not only was it heavily damaged it had also been heavily used - a salient fact the seller failed to mention.

She offered to refund, but I would have lost half the value in return postage so declined - better to have something to show for it. I made these cushions and they are nice. They won't last - the fabric has several small wear and tear holes that can only get bigger.

My experiences have not put me off buying vintage fabric from the Internet - after all, it is the only place to buy it these days. However, I've developed a little protocol:

1) always read the description carefully
2) ask for verification of fabric if in doubt- has the seller done a burn test?
3) work out in advance what the fabric is worth to me, and never exceed that price in the auction
4) place auto-bids only a day or two before the auction closes, to allow for "updates" from the seller
5) accept that the fabric will be different from what I expected and be prepared to change project.

Overall, I'm really happy with way I selvaged these dud purchases. Do you have any sour Internet fabric purchases? Do share.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The dress of doom redeems itself

Now you may be thinking that it was a pretty short month - that I seemingly whipped this up in a fortnight. Actually, to borrow an expression from KBenco, this was "my dress of doom," and it has been sitting on a coat hanger mocking me for months.

I really liked the idea of a fitted sheath dress and when I saw the one in Ottobre magazine (5/11 #15)  I thought it might be quite good for me. I made a muslin in what I thought was crappy fabric but it turned out to be better quality and suddenly I was under pressure to make it work. The fabric was an unfortunate mix of wool and polyester that wouldn't press except under a lot of steam and then the polyester in it warped under the heat. I tried all kinds of tricks to hide the steam damage, including covering the worst of it with an exposed zipper.  When my husband commented that it looked like something you would wear to a funeral I realised I had created something that I would never wear.

And so there it hung on the coat hanger for several months while I thought about what to do with it. One day it just came to me. I sat down unpicked the whole thing, traced a new pattern from it, and threw it in the bin. No remorse or guilt. I had just learned what I needed to learn from it and now it was time to set it free from its wire prison.

And I'm in good company - to quote Karl Lagerfeld, "the most important piece of equipment in my design room is my rubbish bin, because that's where 95% of my stuff goes."

Using the new pattern, I made this dress over the last 2 weeks using some vintage cotton.  Once again I didn't have enough fabric so used a half sleeve, which I think is more flattering anyway. I made a few small alterations - used the v neck from view #17, and gathered the darts to the waist rather than fitting them.

The "v" is actually a nice modest affair, as you would expect from Ottobre, here made more modest by a woolen singlet underneath.

Ottobre 5/11 #15 "the old school teacher dress" 
To get the close fit though the bust I had to use 3 darts. In the interests of fit I am showing a close up although no doubt there's some tradesperson from Target having a good time right now.

the 3 dart FBA

I think I'll try this dress again, in wool as designed, and in a more subdued palate. However, it will have to go to the bottom of the cue, since I have recently won myself some patterns I am very excited about. I won, not one, but two giveaways this week (how lucky is that) from Karin and Suzy .

And while we are on the subject of winning, I am very humbled to have been nominated for 3 blog awards. Humbled because I don't get time to sew much, what I make can only appeal to the tastes of very few people, and this blog is not always a dress of roses. Thank you for nominating me, Elle C, Valerie  and Steph.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sanity has been restored in our household dear blog friends, by the little prince (how I refer to him in my head) settling into a new sleep routine that doesn't start at 4:30 am and involve intense activity thereafter.

And we are all the better for it.  Yes I am a slave to the kitchen with our very restricted diet (no gluten, dairy, cane sugar, additives and preservatives) but I am really enjoying it. I am enjoying how much better I am feeling (less lethargic at night) as well as no more tummy problems which have plagued me since birth.

And the little prince is progressing fabulously - it's a bit of a roller coaster but I am learning to be more objective and not overly identify with whether things or going well or badly.

Because I have to spend so much time cooking, my sewing time suffers, and what's more, in the spirit of "what you give attention to, flourishes" I have found myself taking cook books to bed and checking food blogs first thing in the morning (further evidence that I have gone over to the dark side.)

However, I still manage to get to the machine now and then, and this is what I managed to put together this month.

The fabric was the vintage crepe I purchased in Dunedin in March. I do love to have a quick turn around with fabric. For me, if it gets interred in stash I'll lose interest and it will be a long time before I get back to it.



Original pattern. You will see I had to improvise due to fabric constraints. I added a ribbed cuff and collar because I was about a half metre short to cut the whole thing as designed. I then added a zip and made it casual jacket style:

The lovely lining from Hawes and Freer - New Zealanders if you are not aware of this wonderful quality wholesaler visit their website now. They retail through the Internet and you can get some beautiful linings as well as quality tailoring materials. Also check out the $90 a metre cashmere. I dare somebody to buy some.

Now I would like some advice. What would pair this teal jacket with? The original pattern suggests plaid flares. I am a little unsure of this fashion direction. I was thinking some kind of boldly patterned dress with boots?

Hmm, well do chime in with your advice and I'll see you all again next month.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Of late, sewing has been a difficult thing around here. I can tell you, without any compromises to any individual's privacy, that I am exhausted at the end of each day. Many people find the pre-school years challenging, but the level of challenge I have faced would be the stuff of most people's nightmares.

I think the kind of journey I have been through having a child with the kind of disability mine has, has left me with the mentality that life is what it is. My thinking has been hugely shaped by 2 books, "Man's search for meaning" by Viktor Frankl, and it was this book about managing suffering that helped me when things were very low. Also I have been hugely influenced by the writings of Zen Buddhist teacher Charlotte Joko Beck - the philosophies are very powerful: life is what it is, and in full experiencing whatever that is, is the joy of life.

And if nothing else, you should see our diet! It is so healthy. We have cashew nut kefir smoothies with vegetable juice for breakfast,and that's only the beginning. I sometimes think I should show you all the cooking I've been doing because that is where all my creativity is going.

I made a pair of corduroy pants for winter. They are nothing special. I used Burda 7192 - it has some interesting design features. They have this interesting fly facing, and the front topstitching is angled to match:
And this strange pocket flap which I immediately sewed down:

The back view is why cord gets a bad rap. It never does anyone's backside any favours - could be a granny style cardy opportunity, that's what I am thinking:

The front. I like the flare of these cords. And they are, after all, super comfortable which is why we do such unkind things to our flabby tummies and saggy botties.

I love how they feel on, but think that this is not the right pattern for corduroy.