Thursday, 27 February 2014

Material Girl

Whilst back home, I went back to the Fabric Warehouse.  OK, I went three times in two weeks, including twice in the same day.  It was lush.

Whilst there, I got some real beauties, and learning from my mistakes I am going to document what I want to make them into, so that time will not be the death of my ideas.

So, without further ado, I bring you my NZ 2014 Collection (rather grand title that!):

Visit One (28 January, 1319 hours):
Ice blue silk/cotton blend – 150 cm x 1.7 m, $5 (£2.50).  This was in the remnant box!!  I’m either going to make a shirt or a dress from it.








Khaki/purple silk/cotton blend – 115 cm x 2.2, $48.40 (£24.20).  This will be made into a loose fitting dress, with sleeves, based on my blouse sloper; to be worn with a belt around the waist.  Simple, clean lines to allow the fabric to do the talking.






Jungle print cotton -  115 cm x 1.5 m, $42 (£21).  This has been made into a loose fitting, sleeveless dress, based on my blouse sloper.  I absolutely love this dress and will blog about it separately.  It saved me from the nightmare on digital print street.






Black/White/Chartreuse geometric print, cotton with a little bit of stretch – 150 cm x 1 m, $18 (£9).  This will be a straight skirt – think J Crew – to be worn with a blouse and black cardigan.







Sequin trims – $2 (£1).  This is potentially for a cardigan jacket that I’m making and stuck on what to use for the trims. 


Visit Two (28 January, 1507 hours LOL):

Black/Gold brocade, fibre content unknown – 110 x 1.5 m (all that was left), $21 (£10.50).  Slim-fit trousers (from November Burda magazine – 11-2013-110) have been cut out and are 75% sewn up.  So far so good!







White self-striped slinky jersey, fibre content unknown but feels like rayon or some-such – 150 cm x 2.2 m, $30.80 (£15.40).  This will be made into a ruched tshirt from the front cover of the January Burda magazine 01-2014-122.








Visit Three (30 January, 1517 hours DOUBLE LOL):

Chartreuse poly/rayon – 150 cm x 1 m, $12 (£6).  Blouse to go with the Black, White & Chartreuse print skirt.  My mother said she thought these fabrics would make an outfit that was “very me”.  I wasn’t sure, but then we don’t always know ourselves as well as others do now do we.  I decided to buy the material for the skirt - £9 isn’t much to pay to test a theory after all.  Well, it turns out Mum was right.  I went back the next day as I couldn’t stop thinking about how cute and outfit it would all make, and the two were the perfect pairing – it would have been the one that got away otherwise, and I would have hyper inflated it in my mind to something irreplaceable.  Best $12 spent.

Beige lace and sequins, unknown fibre content – 150 cm x 80 cm, $11 (£6.50).  This will be made into something glamorous I hope.  Being on the RTW fast prompted this purchase – I’m at two weddings this year and felt compelled to buy it.  A not so instant fix!






Pale blue cotton – 150 cm x 4 m, $36 (£12).  This will be made into a slim-cut blouse (button down shirt type), with white rick-rack and long sleeves and a matching gathered, knee length skirt (but not too full – I’m learning from the digital print disaster).  The two will be worn together as a dress, and alone.  By the way, I took this beast of a length of material home and washed it, only to take it in off the line and find it had been on the receiving end of some tui (native birds to NZ that live in my Mother’s garden) poos – not ideal!



6 buttons (originally for the digital disaster dress, oh dear) @ $0.80 each

2 x 50 cm pieces of trim @ $2 each.

At this point I bid the staff adieu, promising them (but really myself) that I’d be back again in a few years (rather than a few hours).  What a treat.

I will leave you with this photo – I have never seen fabric so amazing.  Both of these are leather hides, with a metallic finishing.  The one on the left was iridescent shades of green and pink (depending on the angle of view) and the other was a vibrant royal blue.  Both were $90 (£45) which I found to be decadent, but decent.  I had visions of making a skirt or bag from the blue, and a jacket (or learning to make shoes) from the green/pink.  I still think about the blue.  However, they were heavy so I didn’t take either.  Especially when I already had all of the material above to pack!  That pale blue cotton (sans bird poo) is heavy!


Saturday, 22 February 2014

When sewing attacks plans…OR....A Digital Disaster!

Unfortunately, sometimes sewing is not fun for me.  The idea in my mind does not turn out how I had envisaged it and I get frustrated and dejected.  In the interests of learning from my mistakes, here is my woeful tale.

I went back to NZ for Christmas in 2012.  It was lovely.  Whilst there, I bought some material from the Fabric Warehouse in Wellington, which is a modern day Aladdin’s Cave of beautiful, different and well-priced fabric*.  This store stocks a lot of silks, silk/cotton blends, cottons, wools and knits.  Oh, they also stock leather.  I’ve got a post to write of all the souvenirs I brought home with me, which will give you an idea.

So, where was I?  Ah yes, Christmas 2012.  So I bought a lovely digital print.  Actually, wait now.  Now I am actually wondering whether I bought this material at a Craft Fair in Glasgow that I went to with the delightful Debi (from My Happy Sewing Place…).  Oh my word, well this just goes to serve how old the material was – I can’t even remember its provenance. 
So the material is black chiffon, with a large, floral digital print.  150cm x 3m, meaning I had quite a lot to play with.  I washed it and hung it in my wardrobe of material and left it to age, mellow and percolate in my mind.  Eventually, I decided I would make a dress out of it, with a fitted blouse bodice (split opening at the back), with a full skirt and little sleeves.  Being that I live in Edinburgh and it is so rarely warm enough to wear chiffon with nothing other than a slip, I decided to line it with black cotton.  This percolated in my mind’s eye for quite some time.  Should I add a white peter pan collar, or would it be to twee?  Should I add some detailing down the front, or am I too busty?  Und so weiter.

Fast forward to January this year, and I was contemplating going back to NZ for a holiday (which, was amazing, have you heard?  Sorry/not sorry at all – it was lovely being home).  Whilst at home, I had a funeral to attend, and as I’m doing the RTW fast this year I decided that was just the impetus I needed to actually sew this material.  So I packed it, and my ideas, for the 50 hour trip.

Got home to NZ, sewed it up and disaster struck:
  • The black cotton I took was too heavy.  
  • The skirt I made was too full.  
  • I rushed it in an effort to have something to wear to the funeral (I had packed nothing else black except for an inappropriately jolly sequined skirt).  
I looked like an English teacher from the 1990s wearing a goth version of Laura Ashley on acid.  It was horrible.  It was unflattering.  So horribly unflattering that my dear mother and I couldn’t even laugh at it when I tried it on.  Yes, that bad.  (Un)Surprisingly enough, the camera didn’t get to look at it.


Enough suspense, here are the two sections – cast off on the dining table.  More than the sum of it’s parts????
After coming to the conclusion that my plan, that I had been thinking/over thinking for two years was not going to happen, I decided to turn the top into a blouse.  That would be some sort of result at least.  And I liked the front.  So I separated the two, like two delinquents in class, and set about making myself a silk purse.


Here is the front, with lace ruffle attached, waiting to be hemmed and have buttons put down the front.  (And the back, for interests of completeness, despite not being very interesting).



I tried on the favourite part to work out how much of a hem to make.  Took it off, turned it over and was confronted with this:


Would you believe it, the blasted fabric was splitting at the seam.  This blouse was not too small.  The cotton lining was not ripping.  I had just not used enough of a seam allowance, nor made my split long enough, and the stupid thing was now splitting.  I was livid.  I may have even sworn in front of my Mother.  I was so molten with fury at the time that I couldn’t actually recall if the Easter Rabbit had passed me my unpicker. 

At this point I got out the scissors, cut the sleeves and back from the front and threw them in the bin (no recycling, sorry), gave Mum the rest of the material remaining from the mahoosive skirt and decided to connect the bodice to a black knit top at “some point” in the future.  Case categorically closed with a resounding fail.

I did manage to create a dress out of the remaining piece – just a plain singlet type dress.  Given the preceding activity that predated this dress, I don’t know that I will ever love it.  We shall see.  By the way, the hem is not uneven – it must’ve just been caught up in my belt but I *could not* be bothered redoing the photo.  Sorry team.


So what did I learn?  At least four don’ts – I’m afraid it’s still to raw for a positive spin! 
1.       Don’t percolate fabric to the point that it is beloved more than it’s actually due – this stymies my creativity.
2.       Don’t decide to finally sew item in one day after thinking about it for 730 days.
3.       Don’t use lining that is “to hand” on overly beloved piece of material if it isn’t right.
4.       Don’t sew when angry.

I wonder if Mum will use the material or bin it?  I kind of hope bin it, as I’d hate for her to be sucked into it’s web.  Anyone know what fable this is reminding me of?  I’m not sure, but it’s on the tip of my tongue.
Better luck everyone!

* In the interests of full disclosure for anyone that happens to read this and then go to the Fabric Warehouse (you lucky soul), remember that there is a difference between well-priced and cheap. 

Friday, 14 February 2014

Sewing in NZ

For the past month I have been very lucky to have been on holiday in NZ.  We went home to attend the wedding of one of my cousins ​​and made ​​a real holiday of it by catching up with friends in Melbourne and Dubai That have moved away. It has been a wonderful holiday That I am actually looking forward to  going back to workTel on Monday!  Whilst away, we've seen some amazing sights - here are a few samplers for you

The view from my step-sister's house. Ridiculous, is not it
The view from her lounge - I wouldn't put curtains up either
View from Paekakariki , along State Highway 1
Wellington, and the Cable Car
In Wellington CBD
Native trees at Zealandia
Native bird at Zealandia - a Takahe
The view from Waimangu Thermal Valley
Dubai - from the Burj Khalifa

As well as doing touristy stuff and hanging out with friends / family, I have been sewing like a trouper.  I've signed up to a challenge Started by an American lady That Spans the globe - it's really quite impressive - which basically entails us not buying any ready-to-wear items for a year.   We're allowed to buy underwear, socks and stockings.   It's been interesting so far.   Packing for a month long trip was definitely more stressful, as my normal catch phrase of "I only need a toothbrush, passport and purse "does not really apply in the year of the RTW fast.   But I survived.   actually I left the UK with material I wanted to sew into things, and almost all of it got sewn up.

Of course I also bought some more ... supporting the local economy via souvenirs and all
 Some of my souvenirs

I'll do some individual Posts for these, but whilst away I made ​​four dresses (three self-drafted and one Named Dakota), a pair of trousers (Burda magazine), and a blouse.  I did not manage to squeeze in time for the knit dress I've had cut out for about four years .... Maybe that's telling me something!   Here is one of the dresses I sewed from a pattern in my head.   The other is the outfit I made ​​in Edinburgh to wear to the wedding - and my thoughts on the holiday in general.


My Jane of the Jungle dress - I love it.
I wore it for the entire 16 hour flight to Dubai and was so comfy 

My wedding outfit and general view towards the holiday
Happy sewing and travels my friends!

PS This was written in Dubai where everything on blogger was written in Arabic, so apologies if it is a little weird at all - I'm traveling somewhat blind!