Tuesday, 20 September 2016

embrace the crazy

Sometimes in life it is necessary to just embrace the crazy. Sometimes the sane response is not appropriate.

And for me the end of this year has proved to be one of those times. Heartbreak, betrayal, lies and broken promises. Friendships trampled in the dust. The deaths of loved ones and of dreams. And that was just for me. Was 2016 good for anyone, anywhere in this world?  Or were even golden chalices poisoned?

A buddhist friend has told me that it won't improve until the Chinese New Year. I've always preferred that horoscope for my horoscopical fiction needs, but that news was challenging.  For this monkey, the year started bad and ended worse, and the prospect of another whole month? I could just go back to bed and wait to die. But that isn't a possible solution, because life must go on.

So - embrace the crazy. The tsunami will probably kill you but at least you can try for the bodysurf of your life first, right?

Lets talk about sewing. Nothing will change.  Nothing will improve.  But at least we can rest our weary eyes and minds and think of something pleasing.  Use the good crazy to chase away the bad crazy. So here we go...

good printy madness
 I think that with this project I have sucessfully embodied cuddling up to insanity, on so many levels.

Firstly, consider this print.   It combines a fruity floral roccoco loopiness with Lily Pulitzer colours to extremely good effect. No-one could look upon it and not comment (and, reader, no-one did).

But what really brought home the crazy was my decision, at 9.00 am, to make a dress of it to wear to lunch. After I'd washed the dog. And made bread. And helped with biscuits.
And I did it.

Many things worked in my favour.  I didn't make any egregious mistakes requiring a full day of unpicking, and that certainly helped. I used a tried and true pattern, based on a Burda dress which now would not recognise its offspring. A new pattern would have sent the enterprise to bad-crazy town in short order.

Interfacing used as facing - fast, cheap (& outta control!)
I used a trick I'd read about to interface and bind the front slit - which worked for the day.  I expect I'll be changing that though as I don't love it.

Pocket stub. Unfinished seam. Bad sewist!

I didn't try for pockets on the day - but did leave stubs for later inseam additions.  I also didn't fret about the side seam finishing, knowing that those pockets were to come. There were no pleats, darts, gathers, buttons, fastenings at all.

 And I was lucky.  I wanted a collar for sun protection and to finish the neckline quickly. I used one from another (Burda) pattern and it fit perfectly. BooYah!! And I'm extraordinarily lucky in that I belong to a family for whom mad last minute dressmaking is not unknown, and who knew and accepted that I'm a bit mad right now. So I was granted the indulgence of being 3/4 hour late for lunch.  In my new casual, perfect for a poolside Christmas, dress.

And a random selection of belts. Which I snuck off and changed at intervals until I realised that as with so many things in life, my first impulse was the best.

One final word of advice before I go.  If you try this at home - and do, please, really, try this at home - use a fabric that you love.  There is no point in aiming for adequate here.  You want transcendent.  Use that piece you've been saving. Try not to stuff it irrevocably. But if you fail, you won't feel worse for having also cut up a gem of your collection. And if it comes off you will have triumphed. You can fix up the seams later, you know!
I am OBSESSED with sewing bags. Handbags, overnight bags, weekend bags.  I doodle them. Daydream them. Play with fabric. Am I actually sewing bags? Um, actually, not so much at this point.  But I have been reading books about it. I haunt the library and read and re-read everything I can get my hands on. I currently have "sew cute bags" as my dip into whenever I have a minute book. I also haunt sewing blogs with really cool bags. (Hi Kyle, love your bag! http://vacuumingthelawn.blogspot.com.au/)
Shown against red rug for max impact!

Well, I suppose that is a little unfair. I made this bag a few weeks ago to test some ideas I had on the subject of bag construction and internal pocketing.

internal pocket - only one though and more would be useful
 But it's not a colour I can easily work into a late winter work wardrobe for a mildly professional life  - and also I have this piece of leather which would. Oh how it would (And the whole thing was not my fault m'lud, as I was provoked.  I came out of the Fabric Store in Surry Hills to find that someone, naming no names, ..hmmprtner!.., had locked the keys in the car.  So I turned on my heel and went and bought the leather I had been petting.)
And I am still petting it. But leather is for bags not patting, and so I have to screw my courage to the sticking point and cut into it at some point and soon.

But life's great cycle is all about creative destruction before construction, right? * Which is why I chopped up this other leather handbag.

The victim came from a well known brand, Marina Galanti, and had a pigskin lining
(quality!) and nice looking fittings (quality!) I bought this bag for a not derisory sum, by my standards and would have expected it to be good for a long time. Such was not to be.  After some use, the handles started splitting and a split in the lining.  It was too late to return but not long enough to let me be comfortable chucking it (I know!).  So I put it away for occasional use.And then over time the leather itself developed what I can only describe as severe eczema, as the surface started peeling off in little flakes.  Revealing the fabric underneath.  Quality! They must have put too much solvent in the leather paste that day.

Filth! Cardboard!

But the square ring links were nice and the zipper might be useful.  So I hacked it up. And
I learnt many useful things during this slightly ghoulish process. The commitment to quality shown in the materials extended to the inside, with cardboard being the medium of choice for interfacing. I learnt that there is a good reason for feeling a little squeamish about sticking your hand into the lining of a bag, should it split and let your lipliner through - filthy is the only word.

I learnt that contact cement is apparently quite a good and convenient method for tacking a zip to the cardboard and leatherfabric, though it does make it unfit for harvesting.
But I ended, sadder and wiser, with four rather nice gun-metal square rings.

So we will call that a win.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Slightly skirting the issue

 Out with a skirt and back with a skirt, and yet not a single skirt in between.

I have a weird love-hate relationship with denim skirts. They bite me repeatedly but I just can't leave 'em alone. The idea - or ideal - is that kicky little number, that "shucks I just threw this on" jam that manages to be casual yet cool, versatile yet interesting, goes with everything but is never bland.  It only took writing it down to see how impossible it is. And yet, the vision remains, tantalisingly close and achingly far.  It's almost the whole wardrobe dilemma in a nutshell.

Mostly I keep the yearning under control, but like any urge it will occasionally have its day. And this year there are all those button through skirts. Button through skirts....hmmmm...
Oh, and did I mention that I don't much like indigo denim and would much rather have black, if-it's-not-too-much-trouble? Last year on one of my rare, teeth-gritted and vowing never again, jaunts into Lincraft to unsuccessfully try to buy a zip(!), I found instead a denim sale and bought a few (oh ok, 5) metres of what I thought was a nice weight, slight stretch dark grey denim to replace my latest pair of slightly clapped out blackish jeans (the other holy grail. sigh). Bought, smuggled in, washed, it sat in my stash to wait for inspiration.

And then recently I pulled it out to make a pair of jeans for my daughter.  I cut a pair for me at the same time, though I've not yet been inspired to finish them. And there was a length left over. Not enough for trousers.  Too cold for shorts.  And all those button throughs.

Reader, I cracked again and made this:

Did I really just do this again?

I went through 8 years of Burdas until I found a skirt pattern that I could use to make it. I modified skirt 119 from October 2011.  I daresay the perfect pattern exists, either pre 2008 or post April 2016, but I did with what I had and that was ok. All I had to do was add a centre front button placket and lengthen it not very much, and I was golden.


patch pockets and steampunky buttons
internal bracing - bad photo but all I've got

Except for the size I cut - I'm inexorably expanding to size 44 but I'm not there yet so that was a centre back flat felled seam done twice in denim, thank you very much. But we will gloss over that outbreak of swearing.

Rear view not showing seam very well
Though I've worn it several times, I'm still wondering whether to add jeans style rear pockets. They're made and sitting in my sewing room waiting for me to decide.  Though looking at this photo I think it could use the detail there. And pockets always = good, yes?

So here it is, a shin length button through denim skirt. Part Mary Poppins. Part steampunk. I don't know if I love it or hate it, but I certainly wear it. And I did receive an unsolicitation today, so that was nice.
Does kind of work with my bike, see behind.

Oh - and it's not black or even grey.  It's dark indigo- or d'oh, for short. Sigh. Maybe it would work in a grey flannel? I've plenty of that.

pattern: Burda 2011-10-119
fabric: cotton-elastane stretch denim from Lincraft in INDIGO
buttons: steampunky metal ones from Big W
shirt: rayon made in the great hiatus. nearly worn out.