Archive for the ‘Sewing’ Category

These shirts

After a massive lull in general creative tasks, some minor garden-related distractions and a fair amount of procrastination, I am busy sewing again and recording creations on this here space! First up, two new shirts. I had never made a shirt before but found this pattern on TradeMe for a fair price considering I was quite likely to make both the shirt and the culottes. By ‘fair’ I mean about $5 as opposed to 20c at an op-shop but considering that most of my op-shopping comprises of whipping things off the shelf while chasing a small child around, not sitting on the floor going through boxes… well I am quite happy to pay someone to op-shop for patterns for me.

My search paid off because the shirt pattern fits me nicely, though I may lengthen it next time as the sides come a bit high on me. It’s pretty simple and comes together quickly, and I do like having a pattern do the thinking for me sometimes.

I practiced making the pattern with a $3 curtain. The fabric reminds me of various textiles of my mum’s from the 70s. It’s going to look very nice with a navy blue skirt (it might even have braces) and my green shoes.

I also took it upon myself to make buttons for the shirt, and went a bit wild on the stripes since I knew they’d fall on a solid block of dark pink. It’s a fiddly task when you suspect you may need glasses (and at the very least a desk lamp) but I was happy with how they turned out.

THEN! I cut out my real fabric (after the loan of an overlocker, thank you Flo!) and got to work. The sleeves on my first shirt were too long and tight, so although I didn’t cut any extra I simply folded the cuffs to be bigger. It worked perfectly (and I can go back and do it to the other shirt easily). The collar sat neater this time and my button holes are better. Did I mention I just inherited my nana’s sewing machine, with the step-by-step button holer? I don’t have the foot for it yet but it was easy enough to keep track of how far to go. Proper button holes, YAY!

I REALLY like that fabric. I saw it in in Frankie magazine a while back on Kimbra, a Karen Walker dress, and wanted it quite badly. I can’t find any record of that dress on the internets, but while killing time before work one morning I stumbled upon the fabric in Arthur Toye. Quite an exciting moment, I have to say.

Like any shirt, it looks better on. Even in a crappy bathroom shot, complete with dusty mirror. Sigh. I will never be cool.


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“Candyman can”

Rata has been watching the 1973 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Secretly I think it’s a bit scary for a (nearly) three year old but since she watches it with her dad all negative side effects cannot be traced back to me so that’s ok.

Last Friday we went on a little trip to Levin and THIS TIME I knew where the fabric shop was. I bought a bit of pink and white striped merino, some marvellous golden sunshine coloured cotton knit and this candy-striped remnant fabric. When I discovered it was a two-way stretch I decided to make leggings with it, cut on the bias so they really would be like candy canes. Of course, I don’t have a pattern so ‘cutting things on the bias’ involves a lot of winging it, and of the legs not having stripes on the same angle. But who cares when Rata isn’t going to wear them unless bribed?

But in the hour or so today when Rata DID wear them… I heard her on more than one occasion singing “the candyman can” quietly to herself, so obviously calling them her “candy cane pants” is having some effect. The problem seems to be that Rata only wants to wear tights at the moment, not leggings and socks. I’m not sure that I would be able to make tights with comfortable feet, so for now I think I’ll stick to the current mode of self-punishment, thank you…

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Other ‘finished’ things

Sometimes Louis and I have small battles over my enthusiasm for new things, and how many unfinished things are floating around. It’s true, I do have a lot of ideas (and that is only getting worse since I ‘discovered’ Pinterest – caved, more like) and I do enthusiastically start a lot of things, and a sad number of them reach a certain point… and then I quietly hide them from sight and start something else. We in the industry refer to these things as UFO’s (unfinished objects). They do have their uses – sometimes it’s really nice to pull one out of the cupboard and have something finished in ten minutes, but mostly they like to torment me too. Often I have taken them as far as my abilities will take them, and I must simply wait for a wave of inspiration before I can work out how to resolve it. But I will admit that a lot of the time it is just evaporated enthusiasm, or my irrational fear of button holes getting the better of me.

But given my recent enthusiasms for MORE new things (rental blues will turn a lady into a house-buying optomist of the worst DIY disaster prone kind, even I am taking this latest enthusiasm with a pinch of salt, and yes, Pinterest is not helping with my runaway imagination) I thought I should finish some stuff. So…

This dress! It only took me four months to put the button hole in. I even bought some fabric specifically for the purpose of making these to sell, in different colourways and a range of sizes. I still plan to do that… ha!

And a lampshade. These aerial photographs are something I’ve had lying around for years and it’s nice to do something like this with them finally. But while I like the concept I do not particularly care for the craftmanship here. I need stronger backing for it, and better glue. Faced with crap glue I did what any sane person would do – blanket stitch. It’ll do until I work out how to do it properly. At least it’s not sitting around half-done, right Louis?

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… so that would explain where I’ve been! I re-covered this chair I have only had for about seven years (though it did have some holidays at my mum’s house). I went a little bit mental on the home front, mostly due to a severe bout of rental blues in this freezing cold house (turns out I am allergic to gas heaters). And when you have the rental blues it would seem the best thing for it is to have a stab at the things you CAN change. So, shabby little chair, you have scrubbed up very well. If I do say so myself. It all started with this:

Bertie and I spent a lively afternoon with a bottle of meths and some ‘Steelo’ pads at Louis’ mums’ house scrubbing the shellac off her mantlepiece. Her house is filled with beautiful native timbers stained to look like mahogany as per the fashion of the 1950s (my guess). When I came home I looked at this chair and thought, maybe all that ugly dark varnish will come off with a bit of meths and Steelo too…

The seat itself turned out to be very easy to extract from it’s frame – two screws at the back and two nails at the front. It was interesting to see how faded the fabric had become – I always liked the pattern of the green, which is probably why I had put up with its rattiness for so long.

It was never a particularly comfortable chair, and I have to admit here that I didn’t really know what I was doing and therefore have not improved on its levels of comfort. I simply tacked the new fabric over the top. But I did pause to reinforce these corners where the frame was poking out of the front of the seat.

There were a lot of pins involved, a lot of furniture tacks, and then some nice blanket stitches around the edge of the seat (and eventually on the back as I wasn’t so pleased with how the fabric was sitting between tacks).

Getting the varnish off the frame was beastly and it was not a pretty sight, hence the lack of photos. I used a combination of ‘goldilocks’ scouring pads (to get the worst off), the finer steelo scouring pads, lots of methylated spirits and BRUTE FORCE. (Music helped too). Then I sanded it down and used something from a tin that Louis said was ‘dutch oil’ but in fact I did not look at what it said on the tin. You apply it liberally with a cloth, rub it in and smooth any drips, wait for it to dry and do a few more coats like that. In some places the oil hasn’t really taken but on the whole it looks a lot nicer than it did before. All up it probably took about ten hours – I covered the seat in a morning with the usual interruptions of tea breaks and hanging out the washing (though Rata was out, I might add) and several attempts at getting off the varnish did add up a bit.

The fabric I used is some wool I found a few years ago at the opshop – it’s a lovely pattern and I wanted to make a dress with it but it is just too scratchy for a garment. I have enough left over to make a skirt with… usually I match Rata but could it be time to match the decor instead? Watch this space!

(Actually, don’t. You know me. I still haven’t finished that chips dress).

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Hot Chips!

Here’s what I’m working on at present –  a chips dress!

But first, does anyone know with doing a neckline on a t-shirt – you know where you use the ribbing or whatever it is called -whether you sew it to the outside, fold it over and sew, or start on the inside? I have tried to do it in the past and despaired when the facing gaped out. I know I’ve made it work once doing the opposite of what I had in the past, but I can’t remember which was which!

I remember seeing a very good tutorial for this, maybe on the Burda website, but for the life of me I can’t find it, or anything remotely useful. But if you have a good link tucked away somewhere, I’d be so grateful if you could share it.

I’m of to fix the shoulder seams so that once I’ve worked out which way to go with the facing, it’s not all for nothing!

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I made a pair of pants for Rata on… Tuesday? All the days have rolled into one this week. It’s some fabric I have enough of to make leggings for my self with, but there’s plenty for all. I’m still on that $1 bag of fabric buzz, one year later. Rata’s legs and arms are suddenly growing out of everything, so I made these a bit too long for her and put a bit of elastic around the ankles keeps them from tripping her. Just a little trick a mother knows about.

I’m quite keen to get Rata on board with sewing little things for herself. I don’t know if ‘nearly three’ is too early, but I figure we can choose fabric and buttons, I can cut it out and then she can sit on my lap while I sew it and help me feed it into the machine (really slowly. REALLY slowly). I’ll let you know how that goes. It could be an absolute disaster.

Turns out she has got pinning down pat. While I was doing this:

She was doing this:

And yes, there is enough of that black fabric to make Rata a matching wool dress. Though she wants pink buttons.

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Pyjamas in the workplace!

Huzzah! My new dress is luxurious. I felt like I had worn pyjamas to work, and not in the freelance, work in bed kind of a way. The most public of workplaces, the shop floor on a Saturday. So this is my contribution to Karen‘s Pyjama Party, even if I do feel a bit cheeky. Now I am going to go tell Karen about what I’m reading and look at some other pyjamas. Maybe other people are cheating. Want to see the back of my dress? Okay, go on…

So, my deer hunting dress, sans its deer fabric belt. Win. I’ve had a ridiculously productive week at the sewing machine. More to come I guess. But first I think I’ll take advantage of GMT+12 and sleep, sleep, sleep.

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