Thursday, September 25, 2014

Blog Hoppery

Hello all!

Something a little different today; last week I was nominated by the lovely Marie of Ree Sewn to take part in a blog hop that's making the rounds at the moment. I've really been enjoying the posts on this I've come across - it's a great way to learn a little more about other sew-ers/sewists (insert noun of choice here), and I'm always fascinated to see how the creative process varies between different people. For those who are interested in mine, read on! (For the record, we're away on a family holiday at the moment, so not many photos on hand, I'm afraid :) )

1. What am I working on?

I have to confess, I typically tend to have several projects on the go at once. Usually there's at least one fairly easy make, whether a simple pattern or one I'm really familiar with, for a fast sewing fix (especially for those times life gets busy). At the moment that's two Maria Denmark Kimono tees cut out and waiting. Both are using up leftovers from previous projects, so doubly satisfying :)

I usually also have a more complicated make in progress also, one that requires more time, thought and effort. Right now that's a Style Arc Ziggi jacket. 

I also often have 2-3 (3 at the moment) that are set aside for Further Thought. I don't think of these as UFOs, though that smacks a little of self-justification, I admit! These are pieces that have hit an unexpected hurdle, and need some reworking. Almost always I find coming back to a piece with fresh eyes after a break means the solution comes much more easily. In this category there's currently a rayon shirt  (supposed to have flat piping, but the fabric is refusing to have anything to do with that) a dress that I cut out last May (!), and actually forgot about (just found it again two weeks ago) and a sari-to-top refashion which has been the most wretchedly uncooperative project I've ever experienced. I've never not finished a garment in the end, which is why I maintain these are not UFOs!

I don't often sew at night, unless there's a looming deadline of course... I love to curl up with a knitting project of an evening; it's more companionable. The only time there's more than one of these on the go is if I'm making something for me, and then decide to knit up a gift - that one takes precedence then.

Right now that's a jumper for my Dad's birthday. (last week, but we're away so I get two weeks' grace...) This is Terry's Pullover by Carol Feller, in Bendigo's Luxury 10 ply Blue Denim. I really like this pattern; it has just enough detail to be interesting, but not so much that too fussy for a man ;) That collar's going to be a shawl one, by the way. It's been a joy to knit, except I'm just at that anxious stage of desperately hoping I've got enough yarn to finish. I bought up the last balls in the shop so it kind of has to be enough...

As for selfish knitting, I'm working on a colourwork jumper, the pattern of which I've kind of designed myself. It's using the yarn frogged from the unmitigated disaster that was my Still Life Tunic below...

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

To be honest, I've found this a really difficult question to answer! I don't feel it is very different in and of itself, apart from the way that every writer injects something of her/his own style, methods and taste into their blog.

Actually, since I only have one Real Life Sewing Friend, I'm far more interested in the similarities between blogs, the shared enthusiasm and encouragement that the online sewing community generates. I make no claim to be any kind of fashionista, guru or stylist, so I don't aspire to be filling any kind of niche in the blogosphere. I just love to make clothes! 

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

That sounds a two part question to me, so here's a two part answer:

I create what I do because I love the creative outlet that sewing is, the challenge of making something beautiful and functional well, and because I'm fed up with the exploitation and emptiness of the global fast fashion industry. 

I write about it on a public platform like this because 
  • (unlike Maree and her fantastic notebooks) I'm usually extremely undisciplined in recording  Important Notes to Remember For Next Time otherwise. It's excellent accountability and I've found it really helpful to be able to go back and check what I did through previous posts rather than relying on memory. 
  • I'd found other blogs such a rich source of assistance and inspiration that I thought it was time I actually started contributing also (even though it felt like such an insignificant contribution!)
  • I find it's given me a confidence in the garments I make. Before blogging I found it really intimidating to wear my makes in public (someone might see ;) ) The fact that strangers would take the time to comment on and compliment what I've made has given me a pride in them I hadn't experienced before.

4. How does my writing/creative process work?

I feel like my creative process has been very haphazard up till now. Last year, my first of both concerted garment sewing for myself and of blogging, was very much about discovering the online community, and on reflection there was very little cohesion or planning in my projects overall. This year has been quite interrupted with costume sewing, so goals are less advanced than I'd hoped. But I think I'm starting to concentrate more on what I like and what suits me/my lifestyle and have been trying to build up my skills to accommodate these things (eg, sewing with knits). I'm less inclined to be swayed by the The Next Big Pattern, or by how fabulous a particular style looks on another blogger. So my creative process is starting to be informed by that, which can only be a positive thing.

The writing process is very much subject to the creative one. I try now to jot down notes as I go, especially regarding difficulties or problems, since I've found that so helpful on other blogs. I don't include much, if anything, on life outside sewing/knitting/refashioning, since that's not what I started blogging for. I appreciate that some may find that a bit impersonal, but I'm ok with that. Frankly, for an introvert posting photos is plenty personal enough! Plus I assume that the sewing etc content is actually why people are reading this blog anyhow. I guess that's the beauty of having such a varied community; if one blog is not quite to your taste it's easy to find another that caters for it more. Vive la difference!

So, that's me. In turn, the two other bloggers I'd like to nominate to share their take on those questions are Helen of Grosgrain Green and Philippa of Gloria and Me.  Helen's was one of the first sewing blogs I discovered. She makes beautiful clothes (and children!), blogs with real warmth and enthusiasm and her comments on other blogs too are unfailingly generous and supportive.  I really admire Philippa's style and commitment to sustainable sewing. Her posts are always insightful and thought-provoking. If you haven't come across either of these women and their blogs, you're in for a real treat!  

Until next time,


Friday, September 12, 2014

Complete: Hudson Pants

Well, after that brief foray into glamour last post, we're back firmly in comfy territory! Here's my version of the Hudson Pants, which I think is the first pattern released by True Bias. These were a bit of a departure for me - I usually have pretty firm ideas about what I think suits me, but sometimes this can get in the way of experimenting with something new. So since I've been seeing some really wonderful versions of these popping up around the place (Nic, yours made me download the pattern immediately!), I thought I'd branch out and give them a go once I found some deserving fabric. 

There are much snazzier versions out there - contrast trims, etc - but when I found this fabric on a recent jaunt to Melbourne, I decided to keep them simple. Which, on me, I prefer. The fabric is from Clear It in Fitzroy which I discovered through the ever-gorgeous Sarah of Fabric Tragic, and is an Alannah Hill wool blend. (A burn test at home suggests it's rather more blend than wool, but never mind...) It feels sublime to wear, SO soft, snugly and luxurious that it's like wearing a cashmere blanket, and has tiny spots (V-shaped, but I don't know what else to call them) that gleam and subtly catch the light. (I'm very excited about my summer sewing haul from that day, and was debating about showing it here; do people mind reading show-and-tell sessions? Or is that only interesting to the show-er?? Don't want to bore y'all!)

The fabric had exactly the right amount of stretch recommended in the pattern, and I made them up exactly as written with no modifications at all. It's a beautifully drafted pattern and the instructions are very clear. Plus there's a sewalong on her blog, so it may well be the easiest pants project ever. I was able to make them up (including taping and cutting out the PDF) in an afternoon, so for a relatively instant gratification project you really can't do better!

My photos aren't sterling, I'm afraid, and I seem to have the big-head-tiny-feet thing happening that comes when the camera's not pointed straight...Most of the time my 13-year-old photographer does a great job, so I shouldn't complain. Maybe I should look into getting a remote and tripod though - I'm sure she'd be thrilled!

I do have a sneaking suspicion that these will be one of those makes that in a few years I'll look back on and think "less than flattering", especially from the back, but given it's a pretty current style I think I can get away with it for the moment. (Favourite Anne of Green Gables quote: "I'd rather look ridiculous with everyone else than plain and sensible all by myself.") Besides, they just feel so unbelievably lovely to wear! And I love them with my Rowe tops.

The importance of pockets really can't be overestimated... These do look great in the pictures I've seen as a contrast trim with matching cuffs, but being a good foot or so off being statuesque I'm always a bit leery of anything that visually cuts off leg length. I'll leave that to the amazon-proportioned of you out there....

The only thing I'd be watchful of next time I make up this pattern is where the elastic overlaps at the back. I didn't stretch the fabric over this slightly thicker section enough when I sewed the casing for the drawstring, so there's a 2cm or so part that doesn't gather as tightly. It's not a massive issue, especially since a top will usually be covering it when I'm wearing them, but when the rest of the pants went together so nicely it just niggles at me a little.

 It's just occurred to me how much of my sewing for me this year has been with knits. So I guess we can tick the become-more-confident-with-knits goal off the list for this year. Mind you, there are several outstanding goals on that list....I may have been a touch over-ambitious. Or blindly optimistic. So many projects, so little time!

I'm trying to decide whether to finish off a couple of unfinished projects or move on to my new exciting ones....What do you typically do? Finish the old or usher in the new?? I'm curious!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Complete: Queue Jumper Dress

Hello all! I have to confess, it's going to be a bit of a rush job of a post this time, since life is pretty frantic at the moment (three days till school production...). But what with the show, and two weeks of family holidays starting next week (hurrah!!), if I don't sneak a post in tonight it's not going to happen for ages.

I've dubbed this my Queue Jumper Dress for good reason - it inveigled its way up the sewing and bloggy queues. Last week we had the chance of a night out at the theatre, and after three solid months of very unselfish sewing, I grabbed the opportunity of a free evening to sew purely for moi. Plus, all my recent (well, recent-ish) sewing for myself has been purely practical - it was time was for a bit of fun!

Enter Burda 6919. A (to my mind) 70s inspired, drapey, blouson, batwing sleeved knit dress. With, I admit, very little hanger appeal...

I found this black and gold lurex knit at my local favourite fabric store. It's lovely and sparkly, without being too much so - maybe "gleamy" is a better word. (Albeit a specially coined one.) I cut out the size 10 without any alterations, but I think next time I might size down one size.

Since I didn't have a belt to wear with it that really suited, I made up a self fabric tie to sit over the elasticated waist; I just think it looks a bit more finished that way.

 There does seem to be a bit of an odd fold at the back lower waist, but I'm not sure whether that's because the fabric is sticking to my tights... It doesn't seem to happen when I'm wearing heels, but it's still boots-and-tights weather here at the moment!

It went together very easily, almost all of it done on the overlocker, although despite several attempts this fabric was having nothing to do with twin needle stitching of any kind. I got around that (on sleeve cutouts and all hems) with a zigzag stitch.

As much as I like the design, I do have two niggles with the pattern as drafted. Firstly, the neckband piece is the same length as the neckline itself. Now, this had me a bit concerned as I came to sew it - surely that would make the neckband stick out?? - but thought I'd follow instructions and see whether I couldn't learn something new. So I did it as per the instructions, and guess what? The neckband stuck out.

This stuff is beyond hideous to unpick, so after a bit of thought, I folded the band down over the right side of the neckline and top stitched it down.

It's still doesn't sit perfectly flat, but it's a huge improvement on what it was! And with my new my-present-to-me necklace sitting over the top, no one can tell anyway ;)

The second thing that puzzled me about the pattern was the waistline. It has diagonal pleats extending up over the bodice and down the skirt, which I really liked. But I think they get a bit lost when the elastic is sewn to them on the underside. I'm wondering whether it wouldn't work better to have the elastic begin and end either side of the pleats instead? I'd like to try this pattern again in a more casual fabric and see. I'm thinking a navy jersey would make a pretty nice comfy-but-presentable spring weather dress.

I still have enough fabric over for a MariaDenmark Kimono Tee, which I've been meaning to try out for a while now. I'm fairly sure it won't happen before holidays next week though....

To be honest, I don't know just how much wear this one will get - there's not a lot of call for sparkly dresses in day to day wear. But oh! it felt good to do some selfish and frivolous sewing for a change!

What's your current project? Purely practical or frivolously fun??