Thursday, September 30, 2010

The invisible blogger

Wow, so it's been 5 months since I posted! This is also an indication that it's been 5 months since I did any real sewing, cos hemming trousers and repairs don't count IMO!

Life has pretty much run me over with a steamroller this year. Who'd have thought that a fuller than fulltime post-grad study year, and a family of kids requiring a taxi-driver would be a lot to handle? Well, ok, everyone but me obviously. I seem to have an entirely unfounded sense of optimism of what I can achieve at times. Still, reality always has a way of making itself known. I'm pretty sure I've managed to become acquainted every flu and cold virus circulating this year!

I've discovered this year that stress can make people do funny things - like wearing skirts regularly when they've always been a jeans-type; wearing make-up and even painting my nails!!! Athough that one has a reasonable explanation in that it stops me chewing my nails. Oh, and then there's the crying on my supervisor's shoulder, tho I'm assured that's quite standard.

Sooo, even with my new attempts to regain some balance in my life by attending the fortnightly girly days with friends, I'll hopefully be finished writing by the end of November, which will mean I can start tackling the long list of sewing I've been planning. There may even be a few skirts on there... Tho I think a bit of excavating of the sewing desk may be in order first. :(

And a blurry shot of my new nail colour...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

More patterns....

"Sale" - It has to be one of the most dangerous words in use. Especially when it involves fabric or patterns.

No prizes for guessing where this post is going... :) Yep, I succumbed to the Patternreview 25% off sale. Joining the other patterns unlikely to be sewn in a hurry are 3 Jalies -

and 2 Kwik Sews.

The last one is for DD1 - Yes, I gave in and just bought the darned pattern at her request. I don't have time to fuffle around getting the girl to stand still for pattern adjusting. I don't know about you guys, but personally I'd be pretty polite to the person holding the pins and fitting me...

As for me...

Getting behind on the writing, but not quite at panic stage yet. Which is good, cos panic probably wouldn't be the best cure for the case of writer's block I seem to have.

And I desperately need some tidier clothes (what's new), especially if I'm going to be seen around the department more. Having said that, really the most likely pattern to be sewn will be the Jalie polar fleece socks. They've got to be relatively quick don't you think? I can't remember where I saw it, but 'someone' had used rubber shelf liner as a non-slip sole on slippers and I'm thinking I might add some to these for wearing around the house, especially if it stops me breaking my neck on the wooden stairs.

Sigh, if only I could get away with a wardrobe of tatty clothes, but snazzy fleece socks....

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Jalie 965 Tanktop - wadder?

I sewed something. I actually sewed something!

Yesterday I just couldn't concentrate on work and felt lousy. Rather than just lie on the couch and veg out, I thought I could probably handle tracing out. I briefly contemplated tracing the Ottobre coat, but the thought of all those lines on the paper and big pattern pieces... I couldn't face it. So I dragged out two Jalie patterns because DD1 has been claiming "nothing" to wear.Even though we're going into winter she's wanting camisoles and tanktops. Go figure. (rolling eyes) Then I faced the problem of trying to work out what size to trace, without current measurements and with a fussy teen with definite ideas on what she wants. It was difficult, involved measuring tees she liked and a long conversation with Judy on the phone. Admittedly, the phone call wasn't necessary for the sewing/tracing, but it was good to remind myself what Judy's voice sounds like. :)

Eventually I guessed a size (which luckily was confirmed after school by her measurements) and pulled out a few fabrics that were easy to reach. She vetoed the teeshirt from Jalie 2605 and chose the tanktop/camisole from Jalie 965.

It's a simple top, but I still took longer to make it than I would normally - with the brain operating at half speed, I'm lucky it's even wearable. I think it's a size or two too big, but she wanted a loose fit. I also think it's too long in the upper chest, so maybe a smaller size with an FBA (cos she's a C-cup). Still, it's another 0.80m from the stash. I'd say that next time I'd bind the armholes and neck with a wrap over binding which will narrow the straps, but at the moment I'm refusing to waste any sewing time on DD1 after the argument about how low the neckline could go. Sigh. She grew into women's sizes a few years ago and got used to having necklines lower than I like. While I accept that the straps could go in a fraction and the neckline could go down a smidgeon, there's a limit as to how much underwear I'll let her show! If only I could persuade her to sew for herself instead of complaining because she doesn't have an unlimited clothing budget. :(

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hi to anyone who's still reading.... yep, I'm still here!

Where does the time go? And with no sewing for me. :( Although I have spent some time at the sewing machine. Wow, those things can really gather dust when you don't use them.

First up, I scared the machines one evening when, in a fit of enthusiasm, I finally pulled the living room curtains down and replaced the rufflette tape. Is that what you call it? You know, the stuff you put the hooks in that stretches all out if the ready-mades have cheap tape on them and then the curtains hang droopily and ugly. Well, my curtains now hang all prettily again, and it has only taken 3 years to get them done.

Then on Sunday my sister turned up with 4 pairs of jeans for me to hem. Sigh. Not exactly inspiring stuff.

And I want to sew! Which is not unexpected when I'm busy, lol. My kids have learnt to procrastinate from a master. My mojo positively ran amok the other day trying to tempt me and I had to walk away. I did however sketch down a few ideas and notes. :)

A friend asked me the other day why I was studying when I do have other things I want to do (like some sewing). It's simple really. I'm really enjoying it. True it's long hours - about 50 hours a week - but I've spent the last two weeks immersed in reading literature on my research topic and I've loved it. I guess that's the joy of finding something you're excited about doing. I'm honest enough to know that, much as I enjoy sewing, most of the time it doesn't give me the same thrill. That's why I'm in awe of those who tackle detailed and complicated projects or teach themselves to draft their own. Let alone those who sew regularly! Plus, lets be honest, my mojo tends to pack a sad if I actually get time to pay attention to it.

So, I guess I'm saying don't expect a lot of sewing from me for a while. I have several big deadlines over the next few weeks. I'm hoping to squeeze in a bit of time to trace the purple Ottobre coat. I guess I really should do a quick and dirty muslin.... And one of my deadlines did get pushed out a week, so maybe I could take another night off...

Monday, March 1, 2010

More Ottobre Tees

Why is it that the day before uni starts back the mojo also comes back?

Today I was thrown back into the insanity that is full-time study (this time post-grad. Gosh I love saying that. Post-grad, , post-grad, post-grad....) so, of course, Saturday I had a "what am I going to wear" attack, which of course led to emptying out the wardrobe.... That took care of Saturday. Along the way my linen cupboard also got reorganised which had nothing to do with my wardrobe, but did desperately need doing. And I wonder why I have nothing to wear. Sheesh.

Anyway, yesterday I felt I really should do some sewing. I fell back on the trusty Ottobre gathered neck tee (Ottobre 02-2007-04) which seems to be the backbone of my wardrobe. Well, the stuff that gets worn. Because we've had hot weather lately, I made short-sleeved tees, thus guaranteeing the rain and cool temperatures today. Both came from stash and snuck in at being sewn before the fabric reached the 2 year mark.

The first tee I like and it conveniently looks good with my purple Burda cardigan. I'd like to claim that this was all part of some great wardrobe plan, but I can't.

The second tee I'm not so keen on. The fabric is a lot clingier and unless I'm standing up completely straight without breathing, it tends to find a bit of fluffiness to cling to. (Note I'm blaming the fabric, not my lack of will power, Christmas and an addiction to all things chocolate. ;) ) As I'm rather keen on breathing and completely incapable of standing up straight every minute of the day, I'm thinking I now need to sort out a cardigan to wear over the top.

At least they boosted my wardrobe a bit.

There's a song stuck in my head...

Help! I read one measly reference to Immanuel Kant and now I can't get the Philosopher's Song out of my head. (Warning - some language may offend)

" “Scientists call songs that get stuck in your head “earworms,” after the German Ohrwurm." (The Situationist). Really? They couldn't come up with a better name than that?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

On their way

The order is in and Jalies will be winging their way to me soon I hope. I succumbed to 6 patterns for me and Judy added 2 of her own.

We both ordered the Pleated cardigan

and the stretch jeans.

I added the Stretch Classic trousers,

the Empire Crossover Top,

the Scarf Top

and the Cami/Tank pattern.

Now to just wait for them to arrive.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

More patterns I "need"

Since I saw the new Jalie patterns, I've wanted the Pleated cardigan, as well as others.

Unfortunately, the cost of postage combined with the exchange rate can inflict some serious damage to the wallet. It can also lead to funny looks as you rush out every day when the postie pulls up, but that's probably a whole 'nother story. After all, why would he be at all curious about the contents of large envelopes after a slightly crazed-looking woman rushes out each morning to watch him, then grabs the envelope before he even puts it in the box....? One day I should really open one and show him the Ottobre/patterns just so he knows it's all legit, lol. But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, unfortunately... scary costs etc. That leads us to the 'Fortunately'.

Fortunately, Patternreview is having a 20% off sale for FOPR members until the end of January. I knew there was a reason I renewed (apart from not losing the catalogue of all my patterns. Believe me, after the time it took to enter all of those I'm not letting that go easily!). Tonight DS got back from Australia and he hadn't spent all the money we gave him. Yayyy! Patterns. Cos I really need more, lol hysterically. Knowing this was a possibility, I had, of course, spent much time dithering carefully deciding which patterns I was going to get.

Here's the next unfortunately - DD saw the new Kwik Sews and wants this -

What's a Mum to do when her DD really, really wants a dress and it's going to be quite a few months before it gets to NZ?

Well, fortunately she already owned a similar style RTW dress. So, I hunted out the Ottobre tank #1 from 02/2007. Then measured her existing dress and made up a pattern. I'll find out this weekend how close I've got. In the meantime, that's money that can be spent on another Jalie. }:)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Can you spot what's wrong?

Recently my DD1 bought Dolly magazine, despite, or perhaps because of, my insistence that it was a total waste of money. (Amusingly, 2 weeks later she agrees, lol.)

As she was leafing through it on the sofa, one page jumped out at me.

The details are hard to see from the scanned image, but apparently the "quirky accessories" now involve pins. Snigger. And you can't see it here, but they didn't even bother putting the pin on the RHS on the back of the fabric. What gets me is that they picked this as the best photo and let it go to print?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ottobre Twiggy Jeans version 2

Finally I have stopped procrastinating and finished DD2's red Ottobre jeans. This is another pair using Ottobre 06-2007 #32. (The first pair I blogged about here.) I think I cut these out about 5 or 6 months ago and in the meantime DD has grown. These are a size 140 width lengthened to 146 and DD is now 144cm (she's grown 2.5 cm in the last 5 weeks!). The length is perfect, the width... let's just say thank goodness it's stretch denim. I think I've finished these just in time if I want DD to get any wear out of them. Strangely, this pair gapes at the centre back. This can be easily fixed with a small dart in the waistband (or a belt), but it is not an issue I noticed with the first pair. I'd also forgotten that I meant to skim in the legs below the knee to make them more 'skinnified'.

I used a lightweight stretch denim from Spotlight and topstitched in red. I had huge problems with the topstitching tensions about halfway through the jeans. I changed needles, rethreaded, cleaned and oiled the machine but still had problems with looping and uneven tension. I assume it was the thread as the problems started with the new reel of Molnlycke Goliath thread.

And I had to put a label on the back -

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Easily distracted...

With all the kerfuffle of getting DS off on his holiday cricket trip sorted, I was going to tackle another UFO, specifically red Ottobre jeans for DD2. So I made 2 tote bags naturally. :)

I figured that, for once, I should be nice to DH and clean up after one project before starting another. This meant packing away the half-dozen boxes I'd pulled out in the hunt for white fabric and thus freeing up some space in the rumpus room. As I relocated items, I came across a piece of denim. I don't know why, but this denim just screamed to be a tote bag. A really impractical tote bag, considering the denim is very, very pale, but hey, it's been there so long I can't remember when and why I bought it, or how much it cost. I'm sure in stash rules that makes it free fabric, right?

Lo and behold, there was enough to make 2 bags. No official pattern used - I just used the measurements from an old and decrepit tote bag that has seen many better days.

DD's red jeans-to-be are still sitting all forlornly on the desk waiting their turn. As long as I avoid heading off to play in the stash they should be next. :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Not-so-great whites and a little red Ottobre top

The weather has been atrocious this 'summer'. Perfect for sewing. Also perfect for curling up with a good book, watching dvds, or playing video games with the kids (are they still called video games?).

Despite all the other distractions, I have finished a spare pair of cricket trousers for DS. He's off to sunnier and warmer climes in Brisbane for a few weeks for a cricket tournament and needed a second pair. Reluctant to spend much on what is essentially a back-up pair of trousers, I went a-hunting in the stash and came up with 5 metres of white bengaline. I like bengaline to wear normally, but this is white. What on earth was I thinking when I bought it? Oh yeah, I remember - it was $2m on a clearance sale at Spotlight. :)

I haven't sewn trousers for DS in a few years so the next problem was finding a pattern. I settled on Simplicity 5362. By measurements DS just made it into the adult Small, but I've been burned by the Big-4 patterns and their sizing before so I attempted to tissue fit on DS.

There are two things to learn from this experience.
1. Don't try to tissue-fit on DS. Have you ever tried getting a teenage boy to stand still for fittings, let alone trouser fitting? I think I'd have better luck doing fittings on the cats; and

2. Don't attempt to make any pattern changes based on said 'fitting' whilst suffering from a fluey-type bug.

The tissue fitting, if we can even call it that, seemed to indicate that the waistband needed lowering about 4cm. DS also wanted me to change the pockets. Neither of these should have been difficult. I slashed the pattern, changed the pocket and decided to just leave off the waistband and do a fold-over elastic waist. I know you're all out there shaking your heads and saying "But that will take the waist too low...". What can I say? - Flu. :(

It was a moot point anyway because as soon as DS tried on the almost finished product (for all of about 2 seconds) it appeared that the waistband needed to be added. Easy enough to do, but now the pocket openings were going to be too big. It was about this point that I said 'stuff it', added the waistband and sewed the pockets partly closed. I mean, these are just for an extra pair for 2 weeks - they don't need to be perfect (which is good because... lol). Now the brain is functioning again I'm groaning in shame at these, but DS is happy enough. I'm even going to post a photo as a public sevice example of why flu and sewing shouldn't mix. The photo was the one and only shot I was going to get with a reluctant DS and camera batteries that died.

Still, the great white blunders did serve to wake up the mojo. Not enough for it to be jumping up and down, waving fabric and screaming "make this, make this", but more of a lounging against the door frame laconically with a "Yeah, guess that'll do" sort of way. (It occurs to me that my mojo description evokes images of James Dean. Quite what that says about me I'm not sure, lol.)

Anywhoo, I decided to clear the decks and tackle a few of the projects previously cut out and still waiting to get anywhere near the sewing machine. First on the desk was Ottobre top 01-2009-30 for DD2. This was cut out about 8-10 months ago in a size 134 and if I was doing it now I'd have made DD2 a 146, so I wasn't holding my breath that it would fit. Luckily it did. It was a pretty easy top to make, even with the shirring which I'd never tried before. For this shirring I wound the elastic thread onto the bobbin by hand and sewed with a long straight stitch exactly as Ottobre (and MeggieLulu) say to. The first picture shows the back of the shirring with the elastic thread; the second shows the front with the straight stitching.

However, even with stretching the bejeebers out of the fabric as I did the later rows, I did find the top shrinking to the point where DD can get it on and off, but I expect I'll get some mending to do. Next time I do shirring I think I'll try the zigzag over the elastic method.

One other thing I noted was that the instructions for the arm binding/shoulder strap says to "match markings on binding with neckline corners". I went with matching to the top of the neckband, but I think they would have worked better (and required less easing) matched to the bottom of the attached neckband/top of the body piece. Looking at the Ottobre photos the top does seem to sit higher than the one I made. Higher would mean DD could wear this without a top underneath. Neither of the two reviews here and here mentioned this so maybe it's just me and late night sewing.

At least these mean my stash stats are going the right way so far. :)