Friday, 29 November 2013

The trouble with cheap fabric

I didn’t mean to do it really.  I was just browsing on Trade me.   

The trouble is, I can’t resist cheap fabric, and five metres of soft white shirting with a self coloured stripe for only six bucks? I love a white shirt.   

True, I had to drive over to the North Shore to get it, which added a couple of bucks to the cost.  Since I was making the trip I couldn’t turn down this printed denim.   

I could see a cool BBQ dress out of it – quick easy make for the party season.
Of course, the trouble with buying stuff off trade me is that you don’t know it’s background, and this fabric has ISSUES.

From the moment I got it in the house it was determined to take over and get to the top of the queue.  It also wasn’t going to be fobbed off with a quick dress.

“Come on girl.  I’m jeans, you know it and I know it.  You’re short of jeans and your sewlution was jeans.  You’ve only done two pairs and they were both wearable (or not so wearable) muslins.”

“I know,” I said calmly.  After all, she was new in the house and probably didn’t understand the system.  I went to put her on the shelf with the rest of the stash. “…but I had a dress in mind for you.” 

“Rubbish, I’d make amazing jeans.  Those cool printed ones are all over the shops at the moment “

“I have work clothes and party clothes ahead of jeans in the queue” I tried to leave the room 

”You’re unemployed so you’re wearing more casual clothes than anything else” That was below the belt; Time to get personal with her.

“Look, the high fashion ones are bright and floral, which you are not”

“And the models are twenty-two, which you are not” She is evil!

“There’s a system here.  You have to wait your turn.  Look at this print.  I bought her three years ago, and she only got her pattern pieces last week.  I will pluck up courage to cut onto her any day now.   

You can’t just come in here, tell me what you want to be and jump the queue”

“I understand that you become attached to expensive fabric, but let’s face it.  I only cost four bucks, you have nothing to lose on me.  At least pop me in the washing machine.  I quick pre-wash wouldn’t actually commit you, but once you see me on the washing line, you’ll agree with me”

By now I just wanted to get out of this argument with her (I was in danger of losing) and figured she couldn’t talk to be from the washing machine.

Do other people have bossy fabric, or it just a consequence of re-homing cheap fabric from Trade me?

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

When the sun comes back...

I realise that this may seem an odd project to tackle now if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, but Kiwis and Aussies may understand.  In the last couple of weeks spring has sprung here, and then hurdled headlong into summer with minimal delay.  The sun has been shining, and it has been seriously warm.

Now I may not like the fact that I’m currently unemployed, but it is what it is, and I might as well take advantage of the early summer.  My garden is pretty public, but I do have a small balcony upstairs which would be ideal for a brief afternoon siesta. 

In a previous life I considered it my smoking corner, so when I gave up at the end of last year I avoided using it because of the smell and the association.  Today I decided to reclaim my balcony and create a private sun deck for myself.  The challenge, of course was to do this with minimal expense.

Obviously the first job was a cleanup, so I scrubbed and rinsed the deck and eliminated all signs of cigarettes, as well as the mould that had built up over the winter.  Even clean, the chairs had problems.

I’m not sure why I thought trying to crochet a deck chair cover was a good idea, but as well as looking odd, it stretches…

…which makes it pretty uncomfortable.

So I dispensed with the string and used webbing, tightened with a ratchet, to support the new cushions

The cushion covers were made from a jumble of short lengths of fabric from my stash.  Rather than invest in cushion inners I found an old single duvet. My son took it camping a couple of years ago and got mud and beer all over it.  Even after a wash it still looked grubby, and I don’t have a single bed in the house anymore any way, so I cut it half and folded it up to make two rectangle cushion inners.  

They sit quite nicely on the chair frames, but if I put them end to end they also make a perfect cushion for a siesta. 

It is now quite obvious that the frames themselves need some attention, but by the time I’d finished the cushions the heavens open and we had our first rain in over a week!  The frames can wait for another day, as the webbing and cushions are removable.

Next time the sun shines I will have comfortable chairs to enjoy it.

All I need is for the sun to come back…

Thursday, 14 November 2013

WARNING - A jumpsuit!

I have to confess I did have misgivings about this project.  It wasn’t on my 2013 list, but that wasn’t the only problem. 

WAY back in the eighties I recall wearing jumpsuits.  I was young and Charlie’s Angels were on the TV, and they really wore jumpsuits!  

Something very similar appears on the cover of Mannaquin this month

I have been told that you should never do a trend if you remember it last time… but… I really liked jumpsuits last time.   

Not the sparkly one’s you understand, but the ones I wore were really comfortable, and a little bit dressy, and they remind me of my student days. 

So, despite all doubts I went ahead and picked this pattern from Burda ..

and made myself a jump suit!

Maybe I shouldn’t wear it, but I love it.  It made its first outing to a BBQ the day after I finished it, and I have worn it several times since.  It makes me feel young again!

Ok, that’s scary.  May be I’d be better off kept a little more subdued!

Anyway, if you’re contemplating this pattern be warned – that model must have tooth picks instead of legs!  The trouser part of the jumpsuit is really skinny.  I had to re-draft the legs to get the loose look from the picture.  That said, the top came together really nicely and I can also see me adding a skirt to the top for a dress in the future.

Once I’d sorted out the legs it was a quick make, and I may well make it again.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Project 44 – discovering Indie love.

Only everyone in sewing blog land seems to rave about the independent pattern makers, but I’d never tried one.  It’s not out of any love of the big four.  I don’t buy many patterns at all.  

A couple of years ago I did a pattern drafting course, and though my skills are far from perfect, I can draft skirts, pants and tops from my own blocks, which eliminates most of the fitting alterations required  with commercial patterns.  I can look at pictures of garments (especially if there’s a line drawing) and figure out how to draft it from my blocks.  I still get Burda every month, and draft styles from there by overlaying their pattern pieces and my blocks.  I also can’t draft jackets or dresses.

Recently, though, one pattern has had me scratching my head; Tania.   
I’ve never found a pair of shorts that work with my thighs.  Project 44 on my 2013list involved finding a pair of shorts that I could wear.  There are many aspects of my life that call for shorts through the summer months (cycling being the obvious one).  The Tania pattern looked like the answer to my prayers.  It looks like a short skirt, with the freedom of movement that shorts offer.  I looked at the line drawings, examined the finished garments on the web but couldn’t work out how it was drafted.  Every blogger I’ve read raves about this pattern – simple to construct, flattering and great to wear.  I figured that anyone who could figure out how to draft this garment and do so well enough to earn all this praise, deserved a few of my hard earned dollars.
At the risk of sounding like everyone else, this is a super pattern.  It took one evening to put together, really does look like a skirt…

And twirls like a skirt…

…but it really is a pair of shorts.

I added 14cm to the length, ‘cos really short skirts aren’t really my thing, but other than that it fit straight out of the packet.  

I can definitely see a few more Tanias in my summer wardrobe, and maybe even a winter version (like this one) one if I’m still feeling the love by Autumn.