Blue velvet jacket!

15 Oct

I finished it! I wore it! It’s awesome!

See?! See?! Isn’t it beautiful?!

… ok ok enough with the ! and onto some substance… Warm clothes pose problems when you live in the tropics. Unless you never go anywhere else, you not only need warm clothes, you need seriously GOOD warm clothes because you get cold long before people living in a temperate climate do. It’s worse coming from Darwin, because unlike northern Queensland, we never, not even in the depths of ‘winter’, get very cold. 16C is a freezing night for us, with the days still getting up around 30C. Your body just doesn’t get practise at coping with the cold.

Some people simply leave a box of warm stuff with their relatives for when they visit. As kids, our Granny lived in Hobart. Yes, indeed, an entire continent away from all the tropical warmth of Darwin:

Map of Aust + antarctica

 

Granny kept all our warm clothes. Hobart airport was tiny, smaller even than the old Darwin airport back then. We’d shiver our way off the plane, onto the tarmac and finally finally through the doors into the waiting arms of our Granny, who had this comical but deliciously warm hug-while-wrapping-the-grandkid-up-in-a-parker greeting perfected. Next came the ordeal of waiting in a breezy freezing shed for the luggage to be brought in on trailers dragged by tractors. (I wonder if there’s finally got a proper luggage conveyor belt yet?! And if so, is it in that draughty shed?)

However, this approach only works if you visit only one place. But as an adult I have friends and family all over the country, so I need to keep a warm wardrobe here.

A huge hole in my warm-clothes wardrobe has been the lack of a light jacket. I’ve got a big winter one for the times I’m insane enough to visit my brother’s family in NSW Southern Highlands between May and November. But I also need a light jacket cutting out a cold wind and giving just a bit of warmth.

So that’s what this velvet jacket is for.

It also needs to look good (not dated) in 10 years time, because that’s the other thing about living in the tropics, your warm clothes don’t have a chance to wear out. I still have yummy woolen skivvies I bought in NZ over 15 yrs ago. I’ve focussed on building a wardrobe of classics. Ok so a Bolivian Milkmaid’s Jacket isn’t exactly a classic. But a simple princess-line jacket with nipped-in waist, flairing out over the hips is one of MY classic sillouhettes. So is dark blue.

I decided I wanted the jacket longer than the pattern, so I cut one godet per section (The pattern has two) and lengthened it. To be honest, having it the original length might make the jacket more useful. Less warm. The blue velvet is pretty warm.

Looking at the pattern reviews on sewingpatternreview.com the jacket looks nowhere near as shapely as it does in the line-drawing. I tried to bring the waist in a bit on mine, but I didn’t really manage it. It’s the only issue I have with it. In the first photo in this post, I was cheating and pulling it in round the waist, to see whether that is what it needed. I think that and the photos below confirm it would be worth refitting it before my next trip.

The jacket is lovely and soft and unstructured, which is just how I wanted it. It was so soft and comforting to my feet when it was stashed under the seat in front of me while flying. (hey I needed some comfort. I was flying Jetstar. ‘Nuff said?) I really meant it when I said here that I needed a scrunchable jacket :-P Old backpacking habits die hard…

Taken on the path over the dunes to the beach, I’m ‘striking the pose’ here as my friend taking the photos told me to do :-D (She’s a jazz singer, I’m a dancer. We’re such a pair of show-ponies :-D) Like my socks? They’re from Sock Dreams. The blue lace headscarf is a length of fabric from Kerryn’s Fabric World. That tiny width was all I could afford. Fortunately fluffy curly hair looks great with hair-scarves.

Hopeless phone camera is hopeless. *sigh* But you get the idea :-) I love the big sleeves. Although they’re literally half as full as the pattern. I didn’t have enough fabric to do the full deal.

And when it comes to timeless warm clothes, that scruffy-looking skirt is letting the side down. REALLY need to do something about that!

I thought the blue flowers (lobelia I think) would highlight the blue in the jacket but I think as far as achieving that, this photo is a sad FAIL. But hey…

Just a little peak at one of the divine places we visited, this is a beach that went on forever, along the Sunshine Coast. So beautiful! So odd to have the sun set behind the dunes, too…

A comfortable-sized stash

10 Oct

I’m officially on a Fabric Diet, after my er, being honest, delicious fabric binge while visiting Kerryn’s Fabric World. This was on top of my best friend going over to Bali with $50 of mine, and came back with a sizeable pile of gorgeous batiks and hand-woven cottons for me:

About half of them. Mmm!

AND my sister, in India for a friend’s wedding, sent me another sizeable pile of fabric (*drools at what she got me* No photos though. How terribly remiss of me *shakes head sadly*).

I’m overstashed!  It’s HUGE at the moment. Too huge. It isn’t fitting into little wooden chest it lives in that fits so well under my sewing table. (The chest takes a LOT more fabric than you’d think. In fact it may well be a TARDIS.) (And if the cat my faithful sewing companion, Madame Hat, looks grumpy, yes she is. She loves being grumpy! She adores parking herself right behind my sewing machine, swishing her tail grumpily as she gets covered in fabric and threads.)

My stash has overflowed into two linen cupboard shelves, fighting with the towels for space. It’s too big. I really can’t justify buying more fabric. Although I did fall off the wagon when I had to go to Spotlight to get some thread in a certain colour, and found these two delicious fabrics. Ah well, I’m human…

Cotton/lycra sateen floral on white, in the perfect dress-weight. And pure linen in a much nicer purple than it photographed as, vastly on special for $12pm.

 

Buy Nothing New Month thinks it has the answer. A few years ago I joined ‘Buy nothing new month’ which happens every October. I totally didn’t manage it, I felt restricted and, well, poor. Poverty isn’t nice. And I’ve been poor too much of my life to feel inspired by not buying things. I figure it’s like a friend of mine who was homeless as a kid, who can’t handle restricting her diet. Yeah if I had been homeless I would feel like that about food, too.

Luckily for me I’ve never been homeless. But poverty bites. I LIKE being able to buy something I need when I need it. I LIKE being able to get my hair cut when my fringe is getting too long, not having to save up for a few months to be able to afford it. I LIKE being able to replace old lingerie before it literally falls apart on me.

However, trying to follow the Buy Nothing New challenge that year, did help me see I don’t really over-consume. Apart from fabric! Seriously, some of the stories they linked to were of people having like 200 items of clothing in their closet O_O. Woah! totally not me.

I’m still getting emails about it though, and checking out a few links this year I came across this one about a guy who ‘donated 90%’ of his Stuff.

He suggests his readers ask themselves questions such as ‘Why did I buy this?’ ‘What could I have used the money for instead?‘ By this time I was considering my too-big stash. Next question ‘What would happen if I didn’t have this anymore?’

ARGH!!! I’d run off and buy every bit of nice fabric I could find asap!!!

And that has nothing to do with poverty. I LOVE fabric!

Why does the thought of no stash make me freak out? Well I think it’s a pretty basic creativity issue. If I had no lead pencils to draw with, I’d go out and buy them asap. I don’t draw often but when I do, it’s at the behest of a creative urge inside me to express something with lines, with shadow and light. I rarely play my violin anymore but I don’t sell it, because when I want to play it, I really want to play it.

And really, the same with fabric. I need a stash of fabrics I love, that I want to work with, that I want to wear, so that when my creative mind comes up with the absolutely perfect ‘make’ for it, I have the stuff needed to sew it up.

As for too much fabric, well the obvious answer is to sew some of it up. I’ve been cutting out (my least fave bit of sewing, the bit that tends to stall me on a project) all those ‘Icing’ projects I’ve been putting off till I make some more BORING cake. *happy sigh* So much delicious sweet, buttery icingy sewing to do!

 

Cake, judicious op-shopping, and a challenge

21 Sep

A story of cake and icing …

I had a wonderful time visiting  Kerryn’s Fabric World, of Australian Dressmaking with Stitches fame, when in South East Queensland the other week!

A few years ago I had my ‘colours done’ by Kerryn. I’m a Summer who is ‘cool, muted and light’ in Kerryn’s system. It’s not the first time I’ve encountered the concept of seasonal colouring. At age 14 I read Colour Me Beautiful by Carole Jackson, (I loves me my local library!) and ascertained I’m a Summer. It’s informative to go through my photo albums and see the difference this book made. Before 14, the colours I wore were a bit hit-and-miss. I’m naturally drawn to blue, purple and green, which are so plentiful in the Summer palette, so a lot of clothes were in colours that suited me, but there were some real doozies too O_O. But from 14 onwards, I’m consistently in colours that suit me. It makes such a difference!

The Colour Me Beautiful author said Summers in particular, benefit from learning what colours suit them. From observing myself in different colours over the years, I think this is because I either look great in a colour, or so ill people have an urge to call an ambulance and cart me off to hospital. There’s very few colours that are ho hum on me, not great but not terrible. It’s either/or! So I’m very grateful I went through the worst of my teenage body-cringe-years in colours that really flattered me!

My ‘basic’ colours in my colour-swatch palette booklet. The idea with these basic colours is that they’re a bit boring, kinda non-entity colours, so people won’t notice if you wear clothes in these colours day in, day out, so they work well to form the basis of your wardrobe. Cake colours, if you will. I find them calming and soothing, which I like :-)

These are the ‘Icing’ colours, the bright, fun accent colours, but they’re also the ones where most of my extra-flattering colours come from, like eye colour or eye or hair intensifiing colours.

Some of what I learnt from having a colour consultation with Kerryn:

  • A more refined understanding of how to interpret the Summer palette for my own colouring – Kerryn works with 16 different palettes. My palette in her system is ‘cool (as in cool tones,) muted and light. There were a number of colours I’d never thought of wearing, but that do indeed look great on me, like coral pink, and the ‘basic’ beigey browns.
  • What colours are extra-fab on me, and why, for eg, the reason I gather compliments wearing a slightly warm red is that my eyes are a cool blue. A warm red is the complimentary (opposite on the colour wheel) of greeny-blue. Of course, complimentary colours intensify each other, so the blue in my eyes brings out the beauty of the red I’m wearing. The red brings out the beauty of my eyes. Basic colour theory, but I’d never thought of applying it to my own colouring!
  • How to ‘break’ the guidelines and wear colours not in my palette without my friends calling an ambulance. (eg, keep it away from your face, or wear prints with no more than 25% non-palette colours, use them in accessories – pumpkin-orange shoes anyone?!Chinese Laundry Moving On Pumpkin Suede Women ShoesMy own additions are using them in soft furnishings and my garden too!)
  • How to use your palette to assess if a non-palette colour will also look nice on you (for eg, if it’s a bit lighter or darker than a colour swatch, or in between two of them, it should work well too.)
  • Ideas for working with my short stature such as using diagonal or curved hemlines rather than horizontal.
  • Realise my preference  for organic prints – florals, spirals, paisleys, butterflies! which also work well with my curly hair. (Great money-saver. I might adore a super-geometrical pattern, but I no longer am drawn into buying it because I know I just won’t wear it. Unless it’s gingham ;-))
  • Some great tips for working with my slightly-pear-ish hourglass shape.

But … identifying my style preference was much harder. Kerryn gave me good guidance and a booklet detailing different style preferences, such as classic, natural, romantic, dramatic, along with how to work out which yours are. I just kept coming up with ‘a bit of all of them.’

Ok, don’t get me (or Kerryn!) wrong. It isn’t like there’s a Rule to say you have to be predominantly one or the other style, just like you don’t have to wear colours and shapes that suit you. But I was at a total loss as to how to draw so many style preferences together into an actual wardrobe. One suggestion Kerryn had was using accessories to reflect different styles, but even so, I struggled.

Pinterest came to my rescue a couple of years ago. I created My colour boards (below the sewing ones :-) to explore my style preferences.

For example, my Pink and Black board is full of romantic, feminine clothes like this:

dress

 

Baby Blue is full of creative clothes, often with a dash of dramatic.

~

Verdigris has mostly classic lines with a bit of a retro feel, and subtle fabrics:

jacket and dress

It took time, but I’ve figured out some important things:

  • Accessories really do help express a certain style. And best of all, that there are far more wonderful accessories in the world than those I can find in Darwin. *cough* Etsy *cough*
  • Some colours (the ones my pinboards are named for) are very important to my moods. Even a simple t-shirt or pretty necklace in one of these colours allows me utilise its effect on my mood.

However my wardrobe was still chaotic. I hate dealing with a chaotic wardrobe. I want to be able to open it, feel for a few moments what style I want to reflect for the day, grab something suitable, stick it on, then close the wardrobe again. 1 minute max!

It wasn’t until I went back to Kerryn’s shop again a few weeks ago (She remembered me! How awesome! That curly-haired summer-coloured girl from Darwin must be memorable :-D) that she helped get everything into the right perspective. I told her my pinterest style adventures, and she said ‘Ah yes, summers do tend to prefer a classic style.’

And DUH!!! I suddenly could see that the basis underlying all those different styles, IS, for me, a classic style.

I prefer to wear cake!

A few more day’s thought and I realised why I’m struggling to have a mostly-classic wardrobe.

I hate sewing cake!

It’s so incredibly BORING.

I love sewing the dramatic, the delicate, the natural, the retro/vintage, creative … anything but classic. And no matter how many ‘classic’ styled clothes I cut out ready to sew, it takes years to finish them or, more likely, they become UFOs because sewing them is a real chore :-( It’s also exacerbated by the fact that if I do finish a classic garment, I wear it all the time so it dies more quickly than my ‘icing’ clothes.

So … I did what any sensible, planet-loving girl does. I hit the op-shops and got myself some jeans suitable for shortening to clam-digger or 3/4 length, every white shirt in a natural fibre (anything else is just too hot) that fit, and stocked up on cute little t-shirts and singlets.

Oh boy, *heaves a huge sigh* I can’t tell you the sense of relief I have! The backbone of my wardrobe is now classic. Thank goodness! I don’t have to sew anything boring anymore! I can use all my creative energy into making accent clothes of creative/dramatic style, delicate style, natural, romantic, feminine and and and …! Yippeeeee!

That’s where the challenge part comes in. I need to let my bank balance recuperate after my shopping trip to Kerryns store. Her store is incredible. It’s carefully curated to have something for everyone. Every colouring, in every style preference, in fabric suitable for many different climate and lifestyle needs. *drool drool* Needless to say I had a much fuller suitcase on the way home than there :-D

Now I’ve freed myself up to sew as much cake as I want, I am hungry to sew up all the icing fabrics I bought at Kerryns, and icing fabrics in my stash that I haven’t been sewing because oh dear I really need to make some bermuda-style shorts and basic shirts first. But, no longer! Weeeeheeeee! Freedom!

So I’ve decided to go on a Fabric Diet till christmas, not buying any more and really focussing on what the beautiful icing fabrics I’ve been collecting but not sewing. My fabric storage space and bank balance will appreciate this. So will my creativity :-)

As my reward for doing this challenge successfully, after christmas I’m going to email Kerryn and say ‘hey, I wanna make a (very very icing-y!) ‘hunting jacket’ in the style of this pinboard, classic/natural, organic, plain, or maybe plain with a highlight in matching print. Natural colours in my palette in fabric weight suitable to disgustingly hot and humid weather.’

Much as I love Spotlight, with all its flaws, I’ve never found quite the right fabric for it. I am very sure Kerryn will be able to help me!

Capuche médiévalelove the shape of this surcoat.Ranger Short Dress

Pretty white tops or: omgitworked!!!

16 Sep

What worked? Well…. Let me tell you the story. I am SO pleased with myself :-) although possibly I should just be pleased that the person who drew up the pattern draft was very competent? *ponders* Nah, there was a lot of my own cleverness in there too!

This, this! I made this! From Tudorlinks, a wonderful site with a number of original patterns for historical clothing.

Front View, Lady's Old-fashioned Chemise, 1889 - 1893

 

And that’s as big a picture of the finished product you get. It’s called ‘Lady’s old-fashioned chemise‘.

Now see why I’m so proud of myself. I made one that actually works, fits me well, and that regular readers of my blog will already have seen before. These meagre pictures are solely what I created my pretty white linen top from:

Front Piece, Lady's Old-fashioned Chemise, 1889 - 1893Back Piece, Lady's Old-fashioned Chemise, 1889 - 1893Front & Back Yokes, Sleeve & Sleeve Band, Old-fashioned Chemise, 1889 - 1893

And these instructions:

This 1889 pattern was reprinted in 1893 and it can be used at least as late as that date, though this yoked style was in use from the crinoline era.

Note also that there is a misprint on the back yoke. The part marked “Top” is actually the centre back. We have correctly labelled Top and CB in red.

We do not have the scale measures for drafting this garment, so draft to the size given and then alter to fit.

That’s all I had to go on. I’d like you, dear readers, to note that these are inches, and I’m Australian. I am not too bad at working with inches as my mum, when teaching me to sew used imperial or metric in a kinda random manner, (although she learnt in inches, as a science teacher she quickly learnt metric when it was brought into Australia). I ended up using either kinda randomly too, but for the difficult stuff I always use cm because they make the most sense, and besides everything else in my life has been done in metric so of course I’m by far the best at metric, and this project was difficult!

Measuring systems aside, I managed to get this out of this meagre pattern! (I love the way linen creases so I’m making no apology for its unironed state :-).

So how did I do it?

I printed out the pattern pieces given, and the line drawing, and worked my way through each piece, drafting it onto paper. I added in a bit more of a bust dart and length into the front yoke piece, seeing how I usually need an FBA, and I concentrated the gathered sections to be over the bust at front and in the middle of the back. My experience from sewing old-fashioned nighties showed me that’s where it’s most flattering to add gathered ease in. In the original chemise draft it is evenly gathered along the yoke, front and back. Then I added in my seam allowance. (1.5cm coz I cut my sewing teeth on the Big 4, and that’s what they use.)

I had about 80cm of white linen left over from another project, and I decided to try for a wearable muslin. I love wearable muslins! I’ve also learnt if I’m aiming for a wearable muslin to make it up in fabric I like. Using fabric lying around unused because I don’t like it kinda defeats the purpose of the ‘wearable’ bit.)

Fitting

Initially I figured the yoke section would be too small across the shoulders on the general principle of people being smaller back then, but took a punt on it as drafted, because when I measured my shoulders and the pattern yoke width, they seemed to match up pretty well. And … it fits perfectly :-) I suspect it would fit well over a range of sizes actually. On someone smaller across the shoulders it would just sit further out. On me the edge of the yoke hits the tip of my shoulder right where it should in a properly fitted shirt.

The sides fall shorter than the centre front and back, which is very obvious in the second and third photo.  But the length for both front and back pieces are even, so I think that is just the pattern. That they are even suggests to me I got the proportions of the ‘FBA’ right and that this pattern is just drafted to be shorter at the sides. I like it. It’s a flattering gentle curve. I also think at a more chemise-y length it would work nicely as well. If it doesn’t appeal, you could just lengthen it at the side a bit.

The length of the chemise I squeezed out of my fabric was just odd, neither top nor tunic nor dress, so I sewed in some wide horizontal tucks to bring it up to a definite shirt length. I then found some pretty gathered broderie anglaise style lace in my stash that I finished the hem with. It’s so pretty! All feminine and soft and gently sitting round my body in a way that is comfortable and loose and floaty, or all pretty and flattering to my little waist with a belt or sash round the waist.

 

Construction notes

Rather than sewing the yoke together at the centre front, I sewed the pieces separately (I lined the yoke with some cotton batiste) and put some fake pearl buttons on it. I didn’t bother with doing them to properly button and unbutton because I didn’t need it to open to get it over my head. I just sewed the front yoke together with the buttons.

 

The biggest issue I had in putting the whole thing together was the sleeves. Honestly? I’m used to sleeves being cut INTO, not set OUT from the bodice. My modern perspective meant it took me a while to work out what to do with them, what bit to attach to what other bit. The sleeve band is shaped too. Another thing to confuse the uninitiated. It took a few goes and lots of unpicking to get it right. *phew*

My arm is waaay bigger than the sleeve band so I didn’t sew it together at the underarm, and then left the sleeve bit open far enough down to accommodate my modern-sized frame and bowhunter-y arm muscles. It’s really comfortable, which I’m glad of. I really didn’t know how comfortable adding a supposedly sleeve-like affair OUT from the straight edge of bodice would be. But yeah, it works! It’s actually similar in feel when wearing to this chemise pattern (Which, although this silk chemise got sent to my sister, I made the pattern up in cotton as nightie for myself as well. YUM!)

Here it is inside out. The sleeve opening goes down to the bit of a corner in the fabric near the 4 corners of the ceramic tiles at low right. The band only goes for 2/3rd that distance. Did women have tiny arms back then? The sleeve piece itself goes down to the bottom of the picture. You can also see where the batiste inside yoke has pulled away a bit near the shoulder. Oops!

 

The right way out: The seam joining the band to the sleeve is messy and folds out to show on the outside at the bottom of the band where it’s narrower than my seam allowance. If I made it again, I’d make lengthen the sleeve band to fit my actual arm properly, and if it was too narrow to hide the seam properly I’d either widen the band a bit or handsew the inside band down. I hate handsewing so it would be the first option, being entirely honest :-P

I do, however like the way the band is shaped to be wider at the top than the bottom. Just looks nice when the seam is behaving itself :-)

Conclusion

LOVE it! And I’m keen to try some other vintage and historical pattern drafts floating round the internet, some of which I’ve outlined in this post here.And oh boy am I proud of myself for working out how to draft and make this chemise!

What sewing achievement are you particularly proud of? I’d love to hear :-)

 

 

What is intermediate sewing anyway?

14 Sep

The recent discussions round the place on beginner vs intermediate sewing information have gotten me thinking too. What IS intermediate or even advanced sewing anyway?

I don’t think it’s about advanced sewing techniques or couture techniques. Not for me, anyway. These are just technical sewing skills, some harder than others. A good instruction book (of the many I’ve found in op-shops) will teach me what I need for these skills.

For me, advanced sewing involves something completely different than learning yet another sewing technique. It is about harnessing and applying creativity to my sewing. About understanding how I create, why I create and how to do so most effectively apply it to my sewing. It’s also about utilising skills of maths, proportion, size, an understanding of the properties of the materials you are using, (does it sound like I come from a scientific and engineering family?!) and applying these to the creative mix as well. Not a lot of activities so neatly combine two very differing ways of using your brain like technical and maths skills with creativity. I think the way it does is what makes it so immensely satisfying.

I find almost all the beginner sewing things online irrelevant to me. Sure, there are gaps in my skills, but most of them are because I just don’t enjoy a certain kind of sewing that requires those skills. Learning them would be pointless for me unless I branch out into sewing something unusual to me, like my recent velvet jacket make. I found all I needed in instructions to make it successfully online, and by reading the pattern instructions, and delving into my sewing technique book collection.

The reason why that jacket was challenge for me wasn’t the technicality of the sewing, it was coming up with a design that appealed, that fitted my jacket-needs. I then sought a pattern that seemed the best suited to being adjusted to fit the vision I had. I looked for and found some fabric that would work with it, having ‘auditioned’ quite a lot of different kinds of fabrics. I started sewing, I found a few problems with my original concept that I hadn’t forseen, and used my experience and knowledge of patterns and fabric to solve the problems, and eventually came up with a jacket that was 95% close to the vision I had originally had. (Minus 5 % due to the fit not being quite what I wanted but only 5% because it’s very fixable!)

As I’ve just shown, I am sewing with a different focus than beginners and even slightly more experienced sewers have. They seem to be focussed on sewing skill acquisition. (It’s been a loooong time since I’ve been a sewing beginner, so I’m only going on what seems to be popular online for beginners.) I also seem to be sewing with a different focus to the supposedly ‘advanced’ sewing information, such as couture techniques.  In the end, to me, they are just yet more fancy techniques.

For me the techniques themselves long ago took on less focus. They are simply tools to help me translate my creative concepts into reality. What’s important now, and has been since my late teens are things like how to interpret the fabric, interpret the personal style (for whoever you’re sewing for), the pattern, fit (not in a beginner way of making measurements fit and doing FBA’s but as a more fluid and creative concept of how the garment is going to behave on the wearer as they wear it, doing the things they are going to do while wearing it), finding ways round issues like the desired fabric being so expensive you could only afford half a metre of it, or that the perfect zip colour doesn’t come in the zip style you want.

It becomes about creativity, and creativity has its own dynamics – and a creative person needs to work out how to maximise their own creativity, how they personally get from start to finish of a creative project, how they maintain the enthusiasm that will help carry them through the boring bits of a project. Fundamentally it’s about getting the most satisfaction out of their creativity. It’s also as important to know how to not stifle their creativity it in some way, and conversely, manage the outflow of creative ideas so they don’t overwhelm the person to the point of stalling them entirely.

Sewing has taught me SO much about creativity generally and my own personal creativity. Having sewn steadily since about age 8, I’ve gone on to learn how transferable those skills are to other creative pursuits, eg dance, music, writing. And most of life really.

I’m figuring it’s people who are very creative that are likely to be the ones who want to sew at more than beginner level. They also probably have creative skills already that they could learn to apply to sewing – and vice versa. I think seeing sewing in this context could also help people who feel guilty about the size of their fabric and pattern stashes (There’s SO much of that on the sewing blogosphere), to feel less like they’re being Naughty somehow, and more like they’re simply making sure as creative beings that they have the tools with which to be creative. It may even help them work out ways to create stashes full of things that DO inspire them, and that they DO want to sew, rather than filled with the latest pretty fabric they couldn’t resist buying (I may or may not be refering to myself too, in this ;-P)

Sewing also requires some very technical, engineery and mathematical skills that are not of the ‘traditional woman’s skills’ type. Looking at what those are and how they apply – and if it isn’t something you’re good at, how to work around your own ‘weaknesses’ and get that part of the job done anyway (though from what I’ve observed, most serious sewers are strong in technical engineery skills too.) The same skills for harnessing your creativity also apply to the engineery things. For eg, figuring out the best way to do an SBA for a particular pattern style you’ve never worked with before.

And working with the two different things, creativity and engineery together has an entire new set of lessons to learn, like when is it best to get all technical to the last millimetre or when to go with your creative wild impulse and throw measuring to the winds.

Some of the blogs I enjoy the most are ones that show these elements of the sewist’s process. Less with the how, and more with the why and the inspiration and the struggles and triumphs as they grapple the reality of fabric and pattern and body that is or isn’t living up to their original vision.

 

Yes, intermediate sewing skills are very different to beginners! And not in the obvious ways. It becomes more about the experience of sewing and wearing your own sewn clothes, why you choose to do what you do with fabric, thread, patterns and stitches and less about how to do ‘perfect bound buttonholes’ or ‘how to set in the perfect placket zip.’

Do I sound like I think I could write an intermediate sewing book myself? YES! Do I have the health to do so? No :-( Would I like someone who has the health and ability, to actually write it? Hell yeah!

There IS a gap in the market. I’m really hoping someone will write one, or more! One that satisfies a lot more than a book made up of more ‘advanced’ sewing techniques would.

 

Birthday cake!

29 Aug

Happy Birthday Monthly Stitch! 

And happy birthday to me too, as my cake sewing is my own birthday cake too. Mmmm!

For my birthday this year, a very close and beloved friend demonstrated just how well she knows me by giving me gift voucher to my most fave shop in all of Darwin. The moment I saw this fabric I knew it was for me. Butterflies! Coral-coloured allover butterflies at that. *swoons*

Technically although it’s a craft cotton, it’s a very fine weave, making it feel more like a soft poplin. Very nice! though a touch too light for shorts. But hey, I got them to work and I love them! I love love love love LOVE them!

So thankyou Kite, for my gorgeous birthday present :-)

Here I am in my coral-coloured butterflies shorts.

(As a total aside, this photo totally cracks me up, coz I look exactly like my mum in shorts from the back :-) Who, when you think about it, was intrinsically involved in my birth day :-D)

All ready to go for a walk on the beach, paired with my latest favourite top, a white linen affair I drafted myself from a 1890’s chemise pattern diagram.

Of course, no beach walk is right without a cute doggie to share it with.

Pretty seafoam-coloured fabric for the inner yoke.:

Pretty red buttons, an exact colour match to the red in the butterfly wings, that I found in my stash:

For info on construction, check out this blog post :-)

Happy birthday cake all round! 

Birthday cake. Mmmm!

29 Aug

Butterfly birthday cake even! I recently joined The Monthly Stitch, which is having its birthday this month. Happy Birthday Monthly Stitch! So lots of TMS members are sewing cake.

My TMS cake sewing is birthday cake too. A very close and beloved friend demonstrated just how well she knows me by giving me a birthday gift voucher to my most fave shop in all of Darwin. The moment I saw this fabric I knew it was for me. Technically although it’s a craft cotton, it’s a very fine weave, making it feel more like a soft poplin. Very nice! though a touch too light for shorts. But hey, I got them to work and I love them! I love love love love LOVE them!

So thankyou Kite, for my gorgeous birthday present :-)

Covered in coral-coloured butterflies…

(As a total aside, this photo totally cracks me up, coz I look exactly like my mum in shorts from the back :-) Guess which side of the family I take after huh?)

All ready to go for a walk on the beach, paired with my favourite top that I haven’t really blogged about yet:

Of course, no beach walk is right without a cute doggie to share it with.

Construction notes:

The pattern is from an old Burda mag, 4/2004. Simple but elegant wide trousers with pleat and yoke. I’ve made them a number of times and they’re definitely a TNT pattern.

My weight/size has been going up and down like a yoyo lately. I’ve found over the years the crotch curve doesn’t really change with weight changes, it’s really only the total circumference that does. So I built in some easily-accessible wiggle-room by increasing the seam allowance to 2cm, then sewing each yoke section to the corresponding main trouser piece. I then sewed the side seams of both main piece and yoke all in one seam. I did the same for the back, pictured below. (A trick I learnt from RTW men’s trousers when my beloved but presumptuous younger brother bought a pair of trousers that needed letting out at the back seam. Rather than cough up $20 to have the store tailor do it, he said ‘oh no, my sister’s a seamstress, she can do it.’ Ahem. Well ok, so I learnt how to construct trousers in a way that made them easy to adjust, and coz he was my bro I kindly didn’t charge him $20 to do the job myself…)

Also note the pretty ‘seafoam’-coloured inner yoke. I didn’t have enough of the main fabric, and this co-ordinated very nicely.

I’ve found top edges of yokes can stretch and become too big during the day’s wear, even with some interfacing, so I added in some waistband stabilizer into the top edge stitching line. This doesn’t stretch and it really helps to minimise the yoke top edge stretching.

Pretty buttons! From my stash even :-) They work beautifully, which surprised me, as red and coral pink aren’t obvious bedfellows, until I realised there’s just a touch of the same red in the butterfly wings.

Here’s the front pleat that makes them so slouchy and comfortable. (The back has a dart.)

My thighs are quite full on the inner thigh, and I can have problems with shorts creeping up when I walk. Usually employing all these tips I gave Laurwyn of Quirkyprettycute works well enough. But this fabric was just too light for them to work. I tried adding interfacing along the inner seam. It was an experiment and I can report that it worked. Too easy! I’ll be doing that with all my lighter-fabric shorts from now on!

(As a side note, if you want to learn how to be quirky yourself,  this wiki that came up when I was looking for Laurwyn’s blog, tells you how :-D)

Conclusion:

I’m so in love with these shorts :-) Happy Birthday me!