Sunday, 25 April 2010

What not to do in white

Over on Flickr some made-by-me group members have been carrying out inventories of their home made wardrobes in preparation for May. When I looked at my me-made clothes I saw a big gap for neutrals. I think this is a kind of move on into another stage, instead of just individual items I am trying to make a coherent wardrobe of clothes so that I can put together outfits that I have made myself. I know it is easy to pop to the shops and buy cheap t shirts to wear but at the start of this year I decided not to buy anymore new clothes from shops. I wanted to move away from unthinking consumerism and consumption. I was also wanting to wear clothes that fit me more comfortably. I have found it quite liberating to walk through shops or past shop windows and look but not buying - instead I notice bits I like and think about how things are made, whether they would better in a different colour or fabric. I am currently reading "Eco chic" by Matilda Lee and it's an eye opening read.

Here is my white t shirt when I first made it -my first attempt at sewing stretch fabric and what can I say? Oh, yeah, it was HUGE! I laid an old favourite shirt on it and from this was able to take it in an inch all round and it fits much better.
And below is what I have just finished this morning, another top from 3835 - I didn't plan to make another but I found a duvet in the charity shop last weekend and used it to make this top. I really like asymmetry and have been wanting to make an asymmetrically printed top or dress for ages. This fabric is embroidered with circles. I wasn't sure how it would turn out but I really like it - I haven't worn it out yet. Not sure if I will hear shrieks of "OMG, that strange woman is wearing a duvet cover!"

I will report this space.....

I have to add that it is really stupid to make a white t shirt, then put white t shirt on, happy, happy, make cakes with almost three year old...I managed to remember to wear an apron for that, phew, white t shirt still white, but then we put on chocolate icing, she ate her cake and gave me a lovely cuddle afterwards. Eeek - do not hug chocolate-icing-eating-small children in freshly minted pristine white t shirt. It now has faint chocolate marks in three places.
I hav eto go now and finish this little bag I am sewing for my friend's daughter's birthday tommorrow. It is edged with some of my vintage lace stash which came from my Grandpa's wedding dress business.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Made by me May and sewing challenges

Zoe has posted more detailed info onher Made by Me May challenge which I have signed up for. She writes that whatever rules you set for the challenge the defining tenet (as I understand it) is that it needs to be challenging yourself - so if you already wear one homemade item most days you could raise the bar by trying two.

I have realised that in participating in this and in preparing for it I can tackle some of my personal sewing goals for this year. These involve me in improving my existing skills and learning some new ones, as well as hopefully creating some new clothes that fit me and that I want to wear!

  1. To try sewing stretch fabrics

  2. To start putting in more sleeves - and to try out different sleeve shapes

  3. Linked to number 2 - to make what I call a "proper shirt" ie with collar, sleeves and buttons.

  4. To make trousers with a button and zip and not just simple drawstrings

  5. To gain confidence in altering patterns and making my own patterns.

  6. To try and use recycled fabrics, not spending vast amounts of maney on new fabric

And finally, as I mentioned in my previous post, I wanted to try and improve my basic sewing skills and attitude. To stop taking short cuts and rushing things and to try and enjoy the process of making more. The rushing is partly due to the fact that I mainly sew when my kids are asleep or if my daughter naps. I am so aware of this limited time that I tend to rush things - and I am not sure how to tackle this. I read in that great philosophical guide to life that is called "Sainsbury's Magazine" that trying to slow down and enjoy whatever you are doing, valuing processes, and taking it calmly is called MINDFULNESS. There you go, enlightenment from the supermarket.

I have started making my first t shirt from some cotton jersey and will write more about it once I have some pics. I hope it works so I can start to put two me-made items together in May. At the moment the t shirt is a bit huge round the waist but fits round the bust, Hmmmm....

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Slow Sewer Spring Dress

I finished my 3835 dress about a week ago and have worn it twice over jeans - I love it - it is very comfortable and easy to wear. I am not sure if the rest of the world likes it but never mind. It is an Amy Butler fabric and with the large print I had some doubts about whether I would look like a giant toddler in it but hopefully the back darts create enough shape to save me. I am also not used to wearing large prints but the yellow and grey colour scheme won through for me, it is fairly muted so doesn't scream "BIG PRINT".
I did struggle with this dress as I wrote in an earlier post because I initially tried to put in a neckband and it felt too tight for me so I finally scrapped that idea and put in elastic.

At this stage of life (yes, that sounds like I am 70 years old) I need easy to put on outfits that I can chase my kids round in with ease. So this dress fits that bill nicely (though I may still dream of something more tailored!)

I would like to add that in a new bid to overcome my naturally sloppy tendencies when sewing I have been trying to slow down and enjoy the process rather than trying to rush to the end result. I have been using french seams where suitable and I am hoping these more carefully made garments will last longer. My grandfather ran a dress making business and I sometimes think he would be furious if he saw me cutting badly, sewing wonkily, not pressing seams etc. so I am now a seam pressing, careful cutting Slow Sewer.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Toddler Wrap dress

I was lucky to win this pretty floral fabric in Zoe's online fabric swap. It came from Sarah and after making the dress, I still have enough left over to make something else as well - plus Sarah kindly included some pretty ribbon that I am planning to use on some little summer trousers (for Little One,not me).

I decided to make a dress for my little girl and chose to make this wrap dress from a pattern by the very clever Melissa from tinyhappy I like the idea of a dress that can grow with the child. It is also something she can wear over leggings or trousers - my daughter is not a fan of dresses generally and I felt this was not too girly. The pattern and instructions are really easy to follow. The most time consuming bit is making the binding but I confess I quite like make binding at the moment. It's a good job to do when I want to make something but not think too hard.

Here it is on the little one who cannot stand still
and whose hands are fast as lightning (#everybody was kung-fu fighting#)
And can you see in the background where she has done an enormous scribble drawing up the wall? Tee hee

Sunday, 11 April 2010

New treasures, seaside

I took the kids to Devon for an Easter break for 6 days, to see my mum and rest of my family. We had fun playing in Grandma's garden and going to the beach. Like the little girl with the little curl, when the English beach is good, it is very, very good.

I have now come back home with a bit of a haul. These two ladies were a present from friends when I finished my MPhil about 10 years ago (in what seems like a different lifetime).
They have been languishing in a shoe box in my mum's spare room so I rescued them and plan to find them a suitable wall space to hang upon. I like their battered appearance - just adds to the appeal for me.

On our way home from the beach we stopped at a couple of great charity shops. One shop in particular was a bit of a mess and just full, full, full of stuff. This is the best sort of place for a rummage. I bought this straw flowered basket. I love it and will "share" it with my little girl. It says "Lulia"on it - I think- not sure if that was maybe a holiday destination.

I also bought these sandals - they have a cork wedge heel and fit perfectly. The label is missing so I don't know what make they are but I think I am in love.

And then I found this tweed fabric - the label says 2 1/2 yards. I am not sure what to make yet - at this time of year I am thinking of summer clothes, not winter. But at £3 how could I refuse? It has a silver metallic thread running through it. I am stashing it away for now. I like to think and ponder for a while on what to do with fabrics like this that I chance upon. Sometimes this is more fun than setting out to buy a fabric from the fabric shop for a specific project. This way chance and serendipity have an opportunity to work.

Finally ( I said it was a good haul) I found a pair of brown herringbone cotton trousers with a nice wide leg and quite a high waist. (aplogies for rubbish photo). The waist and lining are reminiscent of old fashioned men's suit trousers. I think I need to make a puffed sleeve forties style blouse or a fitted masculine shirt to go with them...another one to ponder. Is the world divided I wonder into those who do like to shop in charity / thrift shops and those who think it is madness?

I brought back this nautical cotton fabric from my mum's fabric stash - which really is an uber-stash - I am even now stash- bustin other people's stashes. I am planning a skirt with the facing on the outside and some red piping. Hope to have this ready for Zoe's made-by-me-May

I did also consider a dress - maybe in the style of the coffee date dress on Burdastyle but need to check if there is enough fabric. A dress with red piping? I am determined to get the red piping in there somehow.

I have signed up to wear something I have made every day for the month of May but in a lite version so it only has to be one item per day. I am not hardcore enough to do that. I am aware recently that I have been wearing my own me-made clothes about 4 out of 7 days per week - so I am going to try and up the ante. It is good to wear things I really like and that fit me. Since having a second child my body shape seems, well, just a bit odd to me. I am a UK ten for trousers, though that depends on the brand and cut. My bust is a twelve but my shoulders seem to have gone back to a ten. I think maybe I am a size UK eleven if only that existed. So the only way to ensure a good fit is to make it myself. I am also tired of the endless consumerist need to have new cheap clothing, and the throwaway attitude of our society in general. In addition to my own me-made stuff most of the stuff I wear comes via charity shops now, and I have recently been sorting out clothes that no longer fit properly and selling them on ebay, and use that money for craft supplies for me and the kids and sewing stuff. This is the only way I can fund our (not expensive) hobbies as I am not currently earning and our weekly budget is tight.

After this huge posting I am off for a cup of tea and to prance round the house in my new sandals.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

After a an enforced break due to our computer giving up the ghost I am back online - yippee! W have been having lots of fun here with these stickers from the Tate Gallery shop

I bought them for my son's age 7 birthday.

They consist of lots of components for building robots or machines, including some really tiny bolts and rusty looking wheels.. Here you can see the first machine that T built on his window.
The unexpected thing about them is how much his little sister (age almost three) likes then, "Come on" she says" Let's play little robots" and off we go, me sticking them on the wall, her barking out commands, "Make car, make house, need eyebrows" in that bossy way that almost three year olds have.

When not following my leader and sticking robot stickers on walls I have been struggling with a seemingly simple dress pattern, Simplicity 3835 - I made the top version of this recently as described in the last post and it was a breeze to make. Then emboldened by this I decided to make a dress using my hoarded Amy Butler fabric and using the 3835 version with a neckband and back zip. Somehow I am so cack handed that this went very wrong - the first neckband was too high and too tight for my liking - so I cut a longer one and also made it narrower so the neckline was lower - I put the zip in - didn't like it - took it out. I still found the neck too tight and my gathering was so awful that the fabric lay in a bunchy messy way in the front, so this morning I took the second neckband off, took out the gathering stitches, sewed up the back seam, and put elastic in as I did for the top. Phew...this was much better - I will post pics when I have hemmed this beauty. I am determined to finish this dress and have it as a wearable item - not a screwed up, crumpled abandoned project. However, this has brought home to me that fact that if only I had made a toile first....ah yes, hindsight is a wonderful thing! I did think about it but decided not too - okay, now I vow that the next new pattern I try, I will do a toile first! Sometimes I have to learn things the hard way for them to really resonate and stick in my brain! I was glad this morning to start making a simple wrap dress for my little daughter (AKA She who must be obeyed) - no gathering, no zips, aahh, nice and simple. Will post more about that later too - it is using my fabric from Zoe's fabric swap.
It has made me think - I was trying to slowly sew more complicated things, trying to build and learn new skills - but am I too clumsy to do any thing more complicated than elasticated necklines? I hope not.
This totally unrelated photo shows what we did a couple of weekends ago - T came home from school saying he had homework to make a mask of a character from The Gruffalo, "Don't you want to be an owl?" I said, envisioning a simple owl/feather mask, a few choice bits of felt...however he wanted to make a fox mask so here it is - made out of cardboard and super glue, painted and varnished with PVA. He could just about see through the eyeholes!