Thursday, April 24, 2014

Inside Out

Meggipeg alerted me to the fact that today, 24th April, is Fashion Revolution Day; thank you Megan! and it was lovely to finally hang out together, in person  :)
So I am wearing my dress and my cardigan inside out for the day.
A year ago today the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed killing 1133 people and injuring over 2500 more.  Fashion Revolution is suggesting that out of respect and acknowledgement we wear our clothes inside out to display the hidden inner workings; the labels, seams, hems and bindings that seamsters labour over.  If you bought your clothes readymade there are more things you can do; outlined here.
Generally I stay away from political and social conscience opinions here on my blog, although in person I can be quite the bore on a subject once I get going!  Don't get me started!  However the issue of ethical manufacture of consumable goods, particularly clothing; is dear to my heart and one of the primary reasons why four years ago I started down this rather bizarre path of eschewing ready-to-wear clothing entirely and of making with my own two hands just about every item of my clothing that I possibly could.  I don't know if it was a sensible or reasonable decision; but it felt like a good idea at the time and years later it still does, so I'm going along with it, still.  I can make my own, so I do.  It was my own decision and I know not one that another person would or could make.
Wearing your clothes inside out for a day may not seem like much at all in the scheme of things, but may make more people aware of the questionable ethics of "fast" fashion.  A day of tweeting to brands may make a difference, and I hope so.  People may treat it like an amusing distraction in an otherwise uneventful working week, but any action that makes people think twice is a good thing.  For me, I do think about the ethics of clothing manufacture a lot but the reality is that the greatest hardship I will undergo today is going without the use of my pockets.  Also, maybe someone will point out that my clothes are inside out, but probably not.  People are quite polite around here  :)

Dress; dress M with minor modifications, from the Stylish Dress Book by Yoshiko Tsukiori, red cotton, details here
Cardigan; knitted by me, Jo Sharp fitted cardigan in Soho Summer dk cotton, colour Calico, details here
Scarf; a strip of cotton jersey
Shoes; Bronx, from Zomp shoes

Saturday, April 12, 2014

"Baseball" skirt and tee

This is just a bit of silliness really; remember I said I had some idiotic plans for my leftover off-white leatherette? well I just hopped straight into it.  This is a new skirt, leatherette with red stitching to delineate the seam lines, baseball-like.  Yeah I know, kinda weird; and I'm still wondering if I ruined the skirt with that stitching! but it's just a bit of fun really.  I figure if I absolutely hate it down the track I can always pull out the baseball stitching  :)

I used this picture to help me
The pattern is Vogue 1170; my fourth iteration of this pattern.  I chose it because it had lots of seam lines! and I lengthened it as much as I possibly could given my small piece of leatherette.  Actually, this is a good skirt for a smallish odds and ends of fabric; surprisingly good considering its flippiness.  It's only the two large front-and-back pieces that take up the most fabric; the smaller pieces can be cut out of edges and corners and other off-cuts.  I left off the pockets and fully lined the skirt with cream polyacetate lining fabric; and I cut the waistband a lot narrower and on a curve to follow the curve of the skirt top.  This resulted in a much better fitting waistband than the original straight one, imo.  Also, I've learnt my lesson from my previous leatherette skirt where I found the leatherette waist facing kinda icky worn against the skin; and cut the waistband facing in white linen.  Much nicer!
The stitching is in red silk thread, which I've had for years... er, 21 *blush* but who's counting!  :D a leftover from knotting Tim's quilt; and a small portion in matching red topstitching thread, which I ended up having to buy new (grrr!) when I didn't have just quite enough of the silk.  Don't you hate that!!
I did the stitching in two passes, first time you do alternate halves of the "wings", and the second pass you finish off the other side of each one.
And because a baseball skirt needs a baseball tee, I made one; just because  :)   I used two old Tshirts from my refashioning bag.
OK, I thought that this is what a baseball tee looks like; but imagine my disappointment when I googled images of baseball players to see that they actually don't wear this sort of two-coloured raglan-sleeved tee at all! but instead have a big baggy short-sleeved top, sometimes with a close-fitting long-sleeve top underneath.  NO raglans to be seen.  Confused!   So; why is a tee like this known as a baseball Tshirt, when actually it is not?!  I would love to be enlightened.  Anyhoo; I made it from from my own custom pattern, using an old raglan sleeve tee to help get me started and then fiddling and fine-tuning to fit me.  The embroidered motif on the front of the blue Tshirt, I positioned on the back of the new Tshirt.  It was either that or cut it in half, and even though my new tee is a cobble-together job, doesn't mean it has to look like one!
With the neckline binding; I cut strips from the sleeves of the cream tee and joined them to get one long enough to do the neckline.  And this time I cut the strips with a bias joining edge: you can just barely make out the join in this picture.  This gave such a vastly superior finish to my usual method of joining on a straight seam!  and I can't believe it has taken me sooooo long to work out this might be a better thing to do.  Up until now I've used a straight joining seam, and the bulkiness of all the layers in that bit make for a slightly bubbly and bumpy bit at that spot on the neckline.  So I hide this by positioning it at the back of the neck somewhere; but if the seam is on the diagonal, like here, then there is less bulk and very little bump issues.  Don't know why it's taken this long for the lightbulb to go off, but better late than never  :)

Skirt; Vogue 1170 with minor modifications, off-white leatherette with red decorative top-stitching; my review of this pattern here and my tips for working with leatherette here
Tshirt; self-drafted, made from two old Tshirts
Shoes; Bronx, from Zomp shoes

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Piped trench

I have made a winter coat for myself!  It's a dark charcoal woollen trench with the seaming and edging accented in pale grey/ivory/bone pleather piping.  The charcoal wool has a light gauzy check woven throughout; itself with a teensy houndstooth pattern woven in each window.  Clever.  Seriously, I often wonder how they make these fabrics.  Who would have conceived a thin houndstooth gauze, woven tartan-style into wool?

The pattern is McCalls 5525; my third version of this pattern.  This is such a great pattern; I completely love it!  It's so versatile.  Each of mine is quite different from the others; my first version is a smart but pretty-ish thing for winter and early spring, the second one I like for winter evening functions when I want to look glam.  I don't know what function this one will fill yet.  I would like it to be a just throw on over and go with anything and be instantly warm kind of a coat; but we'll see.  The piping is a bit distracting.  Hopefully I'll find it good for something  :)
I bought the fabric a few years ago from a shop called Wool on Collie, in Freo.  At the time it was mostly a knitting and crochet shop, with a very small token offering of fabrics.  I bought it on a mad whim.  The leatherette is from Spotlight; and was also bought on a mad whim.  Me and my bold plans.  I have to confess that the leatherette piping tested my patience and sorely depleted my fun-meter once or twice.  And I feel like unless you get up really close and have a good nosy squizz; you can't even tell that the damn stuff is leatherette.  Should I have gone for some easy-to-manipulate fabric?  Well, what is done is done; and I've learnt new things.  The plus is that there's quite a bit leftover, and I have some idiotic plans for it....  which may or may not eventuate ;)
The coat is fully lined in black acetate lining fabric from Fabulous Fabrics.  The pale grey, slightly streaky buttons from Fabulous Fabrics are a fortuitously perfect match to my leatherette.  A lucky find!
I'm pleased that my coat is finished, but I was feeling a little flat about it at first.  Y'know when you spend hours and hours meticulously fiddling with something and then aren't sure whether you even like the thing at the end?  Yeah.  Although I actually like it a bit more after seeing these "another person's view" pictures of it here.  It looks a little better here than I thought it did in the mirror.  I'll admit to almost hating it in the few days since I finished it, and only hauled myself into it to take pictures out of a sense of duty to my swap.
Maybe it's just that the forecast is 29C today and I feel like a right dork putting on a thick winter coat. 

Coat; McCalls 5525, charcoal wool with leatherette piping, my review of this pattern here
Skirt; Vogue 7303, ivory wool (old)
Camisole; Country Road
Shoes; Vitulli Moda; bought in Melbourne
To the bat cave!   Long coats look satisfyingly dramatic in a gust of wind... 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

leatherette/pleather piping

I have a word of advice for anyone considering putting leatherette piping in a garment.
There, I think that just about covers it  ;)
Haha, I'm kidding... but seriously now, leather/ette detailing is pretty hot right now and adds a smart urban edge to the most ordinary of garments, so I made some to put into my latest project. 
It's fiddly but I think it'll be worth the effort.
Some thoughts:  
When sewing around a sharp corner, clip into the corner before pinning the next section in place, and sew each section as a separate little seam.
Same goes for sewing around a curve.  Go slow and check everything is sitting just as it should frequently.  There is no shame in hand-cranking the machine, stitching just one stitch at a time!  Those needle holes are permanent.
Obviously when sewing in tight corners and curves, pick a nice, long-enough section of the piping with no joining seams.  No point in making it more difficult for yourself than it is already.  Only use those bits on long, straight easy edges.
Leatherette does not fold into a sharp edge or point, and even on the bias will not naturally stretch out smoothly around curves either, like a woven fibrous fabric would.  But it does give a nice, softly rounded edge when turned out.  I like the bluntness, am very pleased with the contrast in textures and think they'll lend a certain je ne sais quoi to the final garment.  Hopefully.  :)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Patched pockets

Just to provide further proof of my predilection for unusual clothing ... please allow me to present my new skirt.
This skirt is the love-child of four old pairs of jeans.   They were a bit battered but in favourite colours, and had fabric in some areas still in pretty good knick.  Charcoal denim (Cassie's), olive green corduroy, olive green moleskin and chocolate moleskin (Craig's).  The chocolate moleskins had previously been nibbled away at to produce the Brown parliament.
The skirt pattern is another offspring of Vogue 8363; yes, the very same as my previous big baggy pockets skirt.  Quite different, yes?!  That's the beauty of a well-drafted good basic pattern like this one, you aren't limited to the plain unadorned versions, which obviously have their place in any well-rounded wardrobe too! but my point is that you are only limited by your imagination  :)
I thoroughly enjoyed making this.  For a start it's re-using old unwanted textiles, always an activity dear to my heart.  I am in the fortunate position that when my family is tossing out cruddy old clothes they tend to lob them my way first.
And I love puzzles, and making this skirt was a fun puzzle.  This was a joyful and totally engrossing project where I happily zoomed along, cutting out on the laundry floor, up and down, rushing to the sewing machine, the iron; slicing and piecing away without any thought to time passing.  Bliss...
I used the pattern variation that allowed for front slanted pockets, and made whole skirt front and whole skirt back pattern pieces from newspaper, re-drawing the side seams on both front and back to be just slightly more flared and A-line than the pencil lines of the pattern although not quite as pronounced as for my big baggy pockets skirt.  
I unpicked and re-used the waistband from the charcoal jeans and made use of its resident buttonhole although I sewed on a new flat button that won't dig into the small of my back when I'm sitting back in a chair.  I also re-used the waistband of the chocolate jeans to finish the lower hem, putting its button and buttonhole at the front.  It wasn't long enough to do the full hemline of the skirt, so I made a filler piece and a few extra belt loops and repositioned all the belt loops to distribute them evenly and hide the joining seams.   I also saved the fly front off the olive green moleskins and re-used it for the skirt closure at the centre back, although retrospectively I'm not in love with this.  It's quite a bulky fly with a heavy duty jeans zip, but I guess the look of it is in keeping with the whole cobbled together, rough-and-ready look of the skirt.
I cut the patches so as to keep lots of pockets from the various jeans.  The skirt actually has eight pockets in total!... in addition to the two regular slanted front hip pockets that I sewed as part of the pattern; there are two patch pockets, three welt pockets and one curved side pocket in it.  I only did this for fun, for the aesthetics of them, but they are all still functional.
It's just a bit of silliness really, but I like off-beat random patchwork-y stuff like this  :)
Inspiration?  Well, I've pinned like a tonne of this sort of thing...  this Isabel Marant dress, this mystery jacket, and also Yoshimi's jeans from a few years ago.  Also, while I was busy laying down patches and switching around different shapes and sizes, this cottage kept popping into my head.   Now a cottage probably seems like an off-the-wall (ha!) inspiration for a skirt, but let me explain; superficially, the re-cycled nature of the materials is an obvious commonality between the cottage and my skirt, as well as artistically, in the random and irregular grid of their design.  And in purpose, pockets in clothing have a correlation to windows in architecture.   Pockets and windows are a visual feature of a thing, but also a functional component of that thing; specifically as an opening to/in their respective objects but not the entry point to that object.  
So in that vein; can one consider a pocketless garment to be like a window-less building; and are zips and button-bands akin to the doors/gates of a building?  
Discuss in one thousand words or less and submit by the end of class.  
(only joking)
Sometimes I think it would be lots of fun to have a group to discuss and dissect clothing and fashion theory; like a book club, only far more frivolous.
(sigh) A pipe dream...
This skirt is another swap item.

Top; top "a" from shape shape by Natsuno Hiraiwa, white cotton, details here
Skirt; Vogue 8363 modified, made from 4 old pairs of jeans, my review of this pattern here

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pink Alabama Chanin T-shirt

I'm very happy and pleased that my Mum agreed to let me photograph her wearing her very recently completed hand-dyed-embroidered-and-stitched creation, and to show the pictures here on my blog ...
thank you so much Mum!
This is Mum's third Alabama Chanin project, and the first completed one... she has very nearly finished a more wintery skirt and top but has put those aside for a little bit in order to make something with the flavour of summer.  She wanted to have something to wear now!
Mum hand-dyed white cotton jersey in three different shades of pink for her top; pale apricot pink for the under layer, a deeper apricot-rose pink for the upper layer, and a true pink- pink for the neckline binding.  The floral design is her own, and she made a stencil using dressmaking paper from Jackson's but does NOT recommend this; it buckled and was apparently a nightmare.  The design was rollered on to the upper layer in slightly watered down, regular household paint applied with a small roller.  Mum used double thickness Gutermann's upholstery thread to hand-stitch the floral motifs, all seams and the flat felling of all seams; and pink stranded embroidery cotton for the cretonne stitch to secure the neckline binding.  We had some debate on whether the armscye seams should be stitched down to the sleeves or the body?? a quick recce of the Tshirts in the general vicinity seemed to indicate that there is no convention here but men's buttoned shirts are to the body so this seemed like a good example to follow.
The pattern is the Tshirt pattern from the book Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, by Natalie Chanin, with the neckline from the tank/dress pattern, and short sleeves.  Before launching into all that time-consuming embroidery Mum wisely tested the pattern and found it necessary to make small adjustments for fit... both of us loathe muslins and generally avoid them like the plague and yeah, it does seem ludicrous for a basic Tshirt in a forgiving stretch knit, but an Alabama Chanin project is kinda exceptional.   It doesn't take long to run up a test Tshirt on the machine using a long basting stitch, and is well worth the effort.  And could save lives!!  Well; at the very least, a tantrum  :D
Thank you so much Mum!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Green pleats, please!

Hello!  :)
So what’s new here?  Just a colour, really.  My Issey Miyake pleated top (vogue 1142) used to be a cheerful daffodil yellow, and now it is a murky-lurky, swampy, toxic-waste shade of green.  Definitely far more me  ;)  Hoorah for dye!
Cassie was doing a wardrobe reno: an apricot cardi plus some black dye equals a new chocolate cardigan! and asked if I wanted the used black dye-bath for anything before she chucked it out.  I barely gave it ten seconds of thought, just grabbed this top.  It’s not that I can’t bear to waste a teeny bit of dye that might still have some oomph in it.. oh well, yes, maybe there’s that too.  But I really liked the top and wanted to get it into circulation more.  Yellow is one of "my colours", but the brightness was just not working with many bottoms… and furthermore since I’ve planned a very subdued autumn/winter wardrobe for myself then the bright yellow top would just continue to not work.  And on a psychological note, not that I’m overthinking this or anything!  but I think maybe brights are just too daring for my personality?  I’m a bit of a mouse and perhaps bright yellow should just be limited to infrequent miniscule doses in my life.
Ha! I reckon I’ve officially just overthought the whole thing, which is hilarious considering that I didn’t think at all before plunging the top into that dye-bath!  Lol!

Anyway, now the main thing is that now it’s going to go quite well with the ivories, browns and greens of my swap.

Top; Vogue 1142, yellow silk over-dyed in a weak, already-used bath of iDye in Black, original details and my review of this pattern here
Skirt; my own design modifications to Vogue8363, cream curtaining fabric, details here and my review of this pattern here
below; before...