Sunday, March 18, 2012

In memory of my first refashion ...

I was saddened to learn of the death of Margaret Whitlam on Saturday. I grew up in Gough Whitlam's electorate of Cabramatta and I was 9 years old in 1972 when Australians decided It's Time and elected him Prime Minister. My parents were die-hard Labor voters so we went to as many local events where the Whitlams were present.
I remember one Sunday my parents planned to go to the opening of a local community centre at which the Whitlams would be presiding. My mother had chosen a hideous polyester lemon yellow dress for me to wear and I hated it with a passion. We fought long and hard all during my mother's Saturday preparations of washing and pressing outfits for the whole family. I wanted to wear a different dress. One of my cousins had handed down to me a pretty floral dress with a gathered skirt, a ruffle down the front and a wide self-fabric sash that tied in a big bow. I had a pair of glossy black patent leather 'party shoes' and a pair of lace trimmed socks that looked perfect with it and I knew if I didn't wear it I would die.
But it was too big.
In my room that Saturday afternoon, with the yellow dress mocking me from the back of my door, my creative juices started to flow and my first refashion began. I can't recall the details, but I remember cutting the sash in two and stitching it to the side seams so that it could pull the front flat and gather the fullness all at the back.
Long story short; my mother gave in and let me wear the floral dress. At the community centre opening, I very shyly went up to the Prime Minister's very tall wife and said, "Hello, Mrs Whitlam." She turned to me and smiled and said, "Hello, that's a pretty dress."
40 years later as I remember that comment, I celebrate the life of a woman who did so much for womens' rights in Australia who was so much more than just a Prime Minister's wife.
I actually did some sewing.
After the debacle that was last weekend, I am making some progress on jeans, but I was waylaid by the need to make something to wear to a party. What should have been a quick knit dress took way too long. This is BWOF 05-2011-106 http://www.burdafashion.com/content/viewer.jsp?imagePath=/images/repos/1/000/001/852/000001852769
The fabric has been in my stash for a few years, bought from Gorgeous Fabrics and is one of about 4 snake prints I have stored away waiting for the right pattern. I rather like this dress and it looks better on me than Vera. The wide neckline means I need to wear a strapless bra, but I have a good and comfortable one.
Jeans sewing continues ...

Monday, March 12, 2012

All I've got to show for my time ...


This is going to be a bit of a rant.
Of all the compromises I expected in moving to Tasmania, not being able to buy BASIC sewing supplies was not one of them. The only fabric store in Hobart is Spotlight. There are a few small quilting stores and the sewing machine repair store down the road from my office at least sells thread.
I had a hell week at work last week and as it was a long weekend, I looked forward to a solid three days of finishing my SWAP and maybe doing some planning for future sewing. I didn't get time to buy thread for my jeans during the week, but as Spotlight is open all weekend I wasn't worried.
Last weekend I spent an entire day working on refinining the fit of my TNT jeans pattern and so I was ready. Saturday I cut my jeans out and Sunday morning at 10am on the dot I was waiting outside Spotlight for the doors to open. I needed a zip. The zip rack was half empty and there were NO metal pants zips at all. Funnily enough I could have had any size or colour open ended zip I wanted when they are usually the ones I can't get! It wasn't a disaster because I had a longer plastic zip in my stash I could use.
Next up: thread. Spotlight only has Gutermann (other stores have Mettler and Coats as well) so I knew my choice would be limited but I was shocked to find the thread rack half empty as well. Not a disaster either as I knew I had enough close colours in my stash to sew the seams, all I needed was top stitch thread. Guess what? The top stitch thread rack was half empty as well!!!
Spotlight is always packed. No matter what time or what day you go there is at least a 20min wait to get served so there was no point in getting into the line that was already six people long. I went home pretty pissed off. Later that night I saw an ad on television for a 30% off sale starting Monday. What did they plan to sell? The racks were all empty!
After giving up on my jeans I knew I had to sew something. I wanted a quick fix. I want to make some green things when SWAP is done so I pulled this purple and green print knit from my stash. It was actually this fabric that got me on my purple kick a few years ago. I bought it at Sew What in Murwillumbah, which was sold and changed its name and is now closed so the fabric is rather old. The reason it has sat unsewn is because the diagonal print is a hard thing to use in a pattern.
At first I planned to make BWOF 09-2011-108http://www.burdafashion.com/fr/108_B_T-shirt/1437260-1783085-1783088-1783111.html tunic with cut on sleeves but knew the stripes wouldn't match on top of the sleeves, so then I decided to cut the pattern in half so the stripes would chevron down the front. It didn't work! No matter what way I turned the pattern I couldn't get it to work. For the second time this weekend I gave up!
I turned to my TNT Kwik Sew pattern 3338. It's XS on top blended to S at the hips and lengthened several inches. I made absolutely no attempt to match the pattern because by this afternoon I just wanted to have sewn something. Guess what? I love it. The fabric is the most luscious buttery soft rayon knit I've ever sewn with, but I will never buy a diagonal pattern again!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

SWAP Interlude

I altered my favourite Burda skinny jeans pattern by guess work this weekend. I tried on three pairs I've previously made from this pattern and assessed where I needed to tweak. It was all in the rear, so I slashed and spread the yoke and the back by what I hoped was the right amount. I muslined in some fabric with slightly less stretch than the stretch denim I've bought and with that in mind, guessed once again about the final amount I needed to adjust. That brought me to Sunday lunchtime when I talked myself out of cutting the real fabric.
Because I've been head down in SWAP for some months now, I haven't really been looking at what I want to sew next, so there was nothing screaming at me from the sewing queue, or at least nothing I could achieve in a day, so my eyes shifted to the UFO's.
This shawl collar jacket is made from more of the Vera Wang wool I bought a few years ago. This may show as purple in the picture, but it is red and blue woven together with flecks of yellow, orange and purple throughout. The pattern is a free one that came with Sew Essential magazine I bought two years ago.
I didn't interface the fabric and it's loose weave means this has more of a cardigan feel. I've lined it with red bemberg. I'm undecided about the buttons, so I've left it on Vera overnight so I can think about whether or not to use this red ones. I'll have to handsew the buttonholes because I can't get all the layers under the presser foot of my machine.
This coming weekend is another long one here in Tasmania (we get three more each year than I was used to in NSW) so I plan to spend the whole of it working on my jeans. I need to decide on topstitching thread and pocket design so I'll be stalking some blogs for ideas ...