Monday, January 30, 2012

Sewing contests ..... I finally entered

Ok, I've entered not one but two sewing contests at Pattern Review. I've been vacillating on whether or not to enter either or both of these contests.

  • Tigerboy needs summer pj's (good for the menswear contest)
  • I actually bought at least two lots of red fabric (a satin & a knit) to make a summer dress with on my last Sydney trip. (Red dress contest)

  • Seriously, knit summer pj's are hardly a contender are they? I've seen the types of menswear the PR'ers put together!
  • I have no idea what type of red summer dress I want ......... none! I really want to make an 'everyday' dress which rules out the satin and I don't know that I bought enough of the knit to do anything other than a sheath. I have no illusions on coming close to winning this one either but that's not the point, which bring me back to......

  • Tigerboy really does need these pj's now, while summer is still here - this contest would give me the impetus to move it, move it. I've been wanting to try a reverse applique parrot for him for ages which would be a good way to gussy up a boring pair of pj's AND they could be a replacement Christmas present for the discovery dive I had planned to pay for for him on Heron Island (which due to a few reasons didn't pan out).
  • That fabric is not going to make itself up, neither are all of those patterns!
  • I told tigerboy about the contests - he thinks it's a great idea, especially the menswear contest, quelle surprise!
  • Basically, I'm hoping that these contests give me the motivation to start and there's a deadline to meet, so maybe things won't linger unhemmed, migrating around the sewing room. Of course this could back fire and turn into an ......

  • What if I don't meet the deadline? Will I be letting people down? Will the pressure overwhelm me and push me into doing nothing but stress and procrastinate?

Finally tally? The FOR's won, so there we go, I bit the bullet and entered not one, but both. So starts the stress.

Tigerboy reminded me of the linen pants I told him I'd make him and I told him I had something else in mind, it went something like this:
"Oh ........... what is it?"
"It's a surprise."
"Don't you need to measure me?"
"Nope." (That would be because I'm copying the one pair he has.)
"But how will you know how to make it?" a little uncertainty and confusion is starting to enter his voice now.
"I'm flying by the seat of my pants baby!"
He takes a moment to look me up and down .............he's in panic mode now. "You're not wearing any pants!" (It's summer time and I had a stomach ache - they had to go after we'd come home from lunch.)
"You're right! And these undies don't even have what you'd call a seat." (I was wearing a thong.) "It's going to be interesting!" I was grinning like a maniac, while he was trying to mentally talk himself down - he's so easy!!

I'm thinking that the parrot should be on the bottom of one leg of the shorts and maybe on a sleeve ........... not sure. Not even sure I'll be able to do this reverse applique thing but you know, I'll have a bash at it. So here are some examples of reverse applique with birds (his won't be as cute or feminine, obviously).

From showtellshare (there's also a tutorial).

This one is something that Karen submitted to BlueMeadowDesigns

From Mellebug

Friday, January 27, 2012

A visit from my Mother and a new wardrobe for her.

So, I invited my Mother to come to stay. Turns out we hadn't actually seen each other for at least 1.5 years! Yes, indeedy life had been busy. Now, normally our 'thing' is she comes down, I take her shopping and choose some clothes for her that she'd never choose for herself, she looks sceptically at me after seeing what I've chosen (by now she trusts me and will try them on), she loves them, I buy them for her. The rest of the time, we sew, by sew I mean she helps me mend/fix, all those things that either didn't get finished or (this is the most common thing) have been in my mending pile for ever. Mum is the BEST when it comes to mending - something with a huge rip the size of Queensland will look as though it was never anything but perfect after she's done with it - I did not get her needlework skills.

Imagine my shock when she turns up with THREE dresses for me to fix! I told her I was not happy with this turn of events ;/  The dresses she's been wearing for the last ... ooh, more than five years are all completely worn out and she had no dresses, she sees these dresses on sale and loves the print - the problem? Major boobage! Oh, and they were too long as well - not such a biggie that one but how to give her some coverage with the miniscule amount of hem I was taking off and not have it look like she had one of those cami's under it? (Not a look either of us favour). I managed to fix the problem - it was a close call on one of them - I ended up having not even 6" of the old hem left, which was less than an inch deep, I told her I never wanted to see that scrap again! She was overjoyed - loved the 'new' dresses and the fact that the 'fix' was basically invisible. (Basically I just used pieces of the old hem on either side of the front neckline overlapping in a 'V' shape which turned it into sort of a sweetheart neckline - camera battery died and I forgot to charge it and take pics.)

While I was fixing these dresses she mentioned that her pj's were worn out and wondered if I could, at my leisure draft a pattern and sew it up in any type of material that I didn't want (because, you know, they're only pj's). 
"Ok Mum, how about this dusty pink knit?" 
"Oh, you're going to do it while I'm here?"
"Shouldn't take long. You can sleep in them tonight."
"That quickly!!!??"
A few hours later - she's got a new pair of pj's to wear to bed.

So then I spied some fabric I'd had in my stash for years, a very thin synthetic knit with delicate branches on it. It's nice but too delicate for me.
"What do you think of that fabric?"
"It's lovely."
"Want me to make a dress for you from it?"
After pulling it out she determined that it would make a lovely light dress for her. I used one of the dresses I'd just fixed to make the basis for a pattern (with a better neckline). Unfortunately, the fabric was so thin it was a nightmare to sew with a regular machine for the double stitching on the sleeves, armscyes and hem. I think I ended up overlocking them first to give the edges some ooomph before I double needled on them. Actually, I remember now that I used black seams great on the lower part of the armscye before turning it under and double needle stitching. It was going to be a sleeveless dress - Mum feels the heat and can't stand sleeves unless it's Winter - but I thought it would be better with these cap sleeves to widen the shoulders a bit, she agreed, so they were an afterthought. There's basically a back piece, a bodice and a front skirt (and sleeves of course). Under the bodice I put some elastic to pull it in and make a soft gather over her tum. I was undecided on how to finish the neckline - I've only done a knit binding on one garment before and it wasn't stellar. I showed her the said garment. She thought it was fine, even though you could see the progression from the armholes to neck I definately got better at it - she said she'd be fine with the standard of any of those. Unfortunately, I wasn't sure how to finish off the binding and put most of it on before realising I hadn't figured out the crucial part - in the end I did a bit of a guestimate there at the centre front which is a little off centre (kind of hard when it's all nearly sewn on - lesson for next time). She was thrilled with the final result.

In the pics it looks as if the centre front seam is off but it's just that she quickly threw it on for the pic and didn't adjust it. As the initial draft (and cut) was for a sleeveless dress, the shoulder seams aren't quite wide enough, ah well, live and learn.

So, she went home with 3 dresses I'd fixed for her, a new pair of pj's and a dress I'd made for her plus assorted tops and dresses I'd bought for her. She was really happy to finally have some dresses in her wardrobe again.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

2011 - the quickie review

Oh yes, it's been a while right? Between work and travel I did get some sewing done though - I also got my own dedicated sewing room.

All of the rain at the end of 2010 meant that our house was in imminent danger of actually breaking in half (yep, just like a Kit Kat), so we had to have some extensive work done that wasn't actually going to add resale value to it (mind you, it sure would stave off the plummet in value if it broke in half). Anyway, I figured that for just a bit extra we could actually add two rooms to the house which would at least add value - viola! a new sewing room for me!! (I wouldn't actually recommend this course of action as a way to get your own dedicated sewing room but if all else fails......... I'm just sayin').

So this year there were a couple of trips to Sydney (lots of fabric buying!), a trip to Oman and the UAE (yep, more fabric buying but I was really restrained) and a trip to Heron Island, nope no fabric buying there, lots of snorkelling with sharks, rays and turtles and eating fantastic food that was cooked for me though.
So, here's a quick breakdown of what I did get a chance to make in 2011:

Made from patterns
Self drafted
Refashions (minor & major)
  • White/Green palm maxi
  • Blue/Green maxi
  • Blouses from Abu Dhabi (Jan 2012)
  • Blue cotton top (Jan 2012)
  • Green & Grey silky dress
  • 3 different dresses for Mum (Jan 2012)
What's been started: Vogue shirtdress, Wrap refashion, Palin bag for tigerboy. 

I have a feeling that I've left some things out - I'll add them as I think of them. When I look at the list it's not actually too bad - I thought I'd done a lot less. Quite a bit of this list was finished off in the last few months, I just had to reduce the UFO's.

This is the only pic I've got of the pink & black sleeveless mod dress - I made it before one of our Sydney trips but it turned out just a bit too tight and short for me to feel comfortable (it had a tendency to want to ride up and I do not want clothes I have to fuss with, as far as I'm concerned, once it's on, that should be the end of the story until I need to take it off).

As for everything else in the list? I'll just have to get around to putting them up here and on pattern review.

The Christmas Apron

I was at spotlight, taking advantage of their "$30 off if you spend over $100" before Christmas and came across this in the reduced Christmas fabric. Quick call to tigerboy "Do your Mum and Dad wear aprons? You know, when they're cooking?" a description of the item followed .... "Yeah, baby, I think they'd really like that." (He is one of those people that believe that hand made ALWAYS trumps factory made - regardless of the workmanship - and it couldn't possibly be received with anything less than huge amounts of joy and gratitude.) Ok, so I'll lay down the $7.77 for it, even though I'm sure it'll never be used (I can count on the one hand the number of times that I've worn an apron) ......... it's the thought that counts right?

Well, tigerboy was so intrigued with the concept of the shapes needed already being printed on the fabric that he wanted a photo of what we started with.

While I was overlocking the edge and turning it under to sew it down I got him to turn the straps I'd already sewn inside out .......... oh the drama! First, I showed him how to do it , ages later he says "Is it supposed to be all rucked up like this? It won't turn inside out!", you can imagine what it looked like. I fixed it, showed him again. Then, "I'm not very good at this - I don't think I can do it." Yeah, if you think I'm falling for that one buddy, you've got another think coming! Very calmly, "That's ok, you'll get better, there are four of them." "FOUR!!!! I'll never get them done! Why does it need four?" "Just keep going babe - you want to post it today don't you?" (It had to get to England for Christmas.)

After all of that drama (because, you know, it's a couture apron, bound to be an heirloom), he was so proud of his contribution that he wanted to model it.

Of course his parents called as soon as they received it to thank us - he proudly told them it was handmade by both of us (let's not forget his monumental contribution of turning the straps inside out) and explained how it had been so neatly printed on the fabric. They in turn, told him that it was soooooo professional and they'd both been wearing it for cooking. He was chuffed to say the least.