Thursday, 21 July 2011

Instant dashiki

I tried to do the Sew Weekly Challenge of two weeks ago (American Apparel), and again last week (Album Cover Inspiration) but I didn't get around to it.  First there was kid fever and vomiting; then there was a multi-departmental grant to be submitted, which meant lots of overtime and lack of sleep; then there was me getting sick because of said vomit and sleep deprivation.  You know how it goes.  

I did start a self-drafted knit dress like the one Karen Lynn Gorney wore in SNF:

but something went wrong with the neckline.  It was too loose and droopy, even after unpicking and altering twice.  Unpicking serging is seriously no fun.  It's gone into the magic alteration pile, where it is sure to remain until the alteration elves get around to it.  

I have a few things cut out, but nothing I really felt like working on during a heat wave.  Then my little guy tried on his beloved dashiki and complained that it was getting too tight, and he really needs something loose and cool to wear while the temperature is above 35.  Ah ha!

Easy to whip up in an hour or so, including tracing the shape, cutting, sewing and seam finishing.  And he actually wants to wear it, as opposed to little miss picky, who still hasn't worn her pillowcase dress.  

I used the 70cm end-of-roll giraffe-y wax print that I picked up in Cape Town for about $2.  It was just enough for the shirt, the facings and there is a little scrap left over that I could just about squeeze two tiny pockets out of, if I were so inclined.  I added size vents and left the selvages as bottom hem, partly out of sheer laziness and partly because I liked the writing on it:

The bottom of the front slit doesn't lie quite as smoothly as I'd like because I was trying to copy the way it looked on the original, rather than sewing and slashing to a point.  Lesson learned.

So let's just say, for the sake of argument, that my inspiration was Miriam Makeba; then I can add the photos to the Sew Weekly archive and feel like I've completed a challenge for the first time in a few weeks ;)

   And then I have an excuse to watch a bunch of videos on Youtube until I can find the perfect one:

If you're not shakin' it by the end of Pata Pata, there's just something wrong with you.  

Seriously, you should have that checked out.  

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Thrifting I

So I've decided to start posting about thrift finds, since I love seeing what everyone else discovers, and I have pretty much given up buying new.  Mena does Friday fabric finds, Casey does thrifting videos, Tanit-Isis is a Value Village junkie like me, and Debi always finds the best woolens in Scotland op-shops.

We were all up early this morning for an estate sale near our 'burb.  Living outside of downtown Montreal and having two little ones mean that we don't often make it to estate sales until later in the day (or sometimes the day after opening), so we figure we're always missing out on the really good stuff.  Today's sale was only 10 min. away, so we got there as the doors were opening.  And I've got to say, I certainly won't do that again.  People are mean, classless and had no respect for the fact that this was an estate sale for a woman who had recently died.  There was pushing and shoving, yelling at each other, literally pushing my kids aside to get at some hardcover books..... I don't know what to say.  I'm glad the woman's family wasn't around to witness how people were throwing a lifetime's worth of belongings around like so much trash.  I wanted to leave because I was feeling upset and dirty.

Eventually my man took the kids outside to relax and read under the trees while I looked through the sewing supplies.  Luckily, there were no sewing maniacs there and I had that corner of the house to myself to look carefully.  There were a few interesting patterns, notions and tools:

Anne Adams mail order pattern for a romper with skirt cover-up (1963). 

I love how dude is just hanging out in his skivvies/Crescent skirt, smoking. 

A printer's drawer full of threads; mostly Gutterman.  (Two people tried to grab the drawer and dump out the thread when I put it down.  Again, people are classless.)

5.5m of rose-print polished cotton and a large square of paisley silk.  The rose print is a little too twee for my usual taste, but I have a '50s full skirted sundress pattern that I'm going to try, and this seems like an appropriate fabric to use; if I end up not liking it, I'm not out too much $$.

But the real treasure, in my opinion, was this pile of Simplicity pattern books and sales pamphlets from 1967-1970:

This is my favourite era, and I am already pouring over the illustrations and ads.  Again, sorry for the poor quality photos, but I don't have a scanner at home.

 I would love to make either of these above styles,

but especially this one.  I have a pattern with a similar bodice, so it shouldn't be too difficult to draft (famous last words).

 Tablecloth dress?

How to throw a paper dress sewing party!  Instructions include inviting women and men (oh, the hilarity of men sewing!), and surprising your guests with paper table cloths and a matching dress you've whipped up beforehand.  Make sure to have extra scissors, sewing machines and glue on hand!  

And apparently 1969 meant scallops, scallops everywhere:

My girl just woke up from her nap, so I'm back on duty.  Hope you're having as good a weekend as I am, but of course, minus the soul-less vultures that pass for book dealers.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Oh yeah....

I know where I'm going to be at 9am tomorrow morning:

The last time I went to an estate sale hosted by this company, they were selling fabric for ~$10/bag.

(Damn, I hope no one from Montreal reads this.)

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Probably the first and last time knitting will be featured on this blog.

My kids love Miyazaki films:  

My Neighbour Totoro


Spirited Away 

and most recently, Howl's Moving Castle.  

Apparently there is a scene of knitting mice in Howl's Moving Castle.  It could be some other Miyazaki-type creature, but one way or another, Oscar watched it and then wanted to learn how to knit.  Enter Nana:

He got about three stitches done when his interest was captured by something else, being the 5 year old boy he is. But he keeps those needles in the kitchen and periodically asks me to show him how to knit again.  We'll see if it sticks. 

Wednesday, 6 July 2011


Last week was UFO week over at The Sew Weekly.  I think this qualifies, since it's been hanging in my sewing corner since February:

Beautiful McCall pattern from 1948 that should have been a quick weekend project, but it resulted in this:

Aie chihuahua, but that's an unflatteringly high neckline.  I hate being strangled by jewel necks, but also the instructions for the tie were strange: the bias strip was meant to be sewn on the inside, then folded over twice and sewn on the outside.  So you end up with a tie that is 6 layers thick (plus the fabric of the neck = 7 layers).  It was so stiff that it was sticking straight out!  Granted, it is a muslin made of '70s polycotton sheet, but still... 

Now, I know perfectly well that I will never have a humanly impossible tiny waist like Lady B on the pattern illustration, but this was looking a little dumpy and needed something to define the waist a bit better.  I tried making a tie-on peplum belt, à la Casey, but it only added bulk where bulk was not wanted.  (I thought I had a photo of me with the peplum tied on, but I guess I deleted it from embarrassment). 

So I hung it up and left it there for 5 months.  

Luckily, it was an easy fix:  
1: unpick the bias tie
2: drop the neckline
3: re-sew it as a typical double fold bias
4: fix the arm seams
5: sew in the side zip more neatly (yay, invisible zipper foot from Amazon!)
6.  add shoulder pads
7:  cut up peplum to make fabric covered belt (used a $1 CK belt from the VON shop)  

The (almost) finished UFO:  

(Yeah, I know those shoes are '80s, not '40s, but they're the only neutral coloured, somewhat appropriate ones I own.  It was these or black mary janes or purple spike heels, so I figure these were my best bet.)

Still needs hemming and shoulder pad attachment, but close enough to post, I figure.  I cut out another one in a silky blue and white vintage polyester, so hopefully I'll finish it in less than 5 months this time around.   

1940s  1950s  1960s  1970s  1980s  1990s  2000s  2010s 

only 1950s left!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Simplicity 2591 fail.

I was so excited to make this pattern.  I received it from the generous Angela of RiAnge Creations, after I put out a plea for the OOP Simplicity 2591.  I wanted to make a vaguely nautical version like Adey and Farah had, but now there's a whole lotta wrong going on with this dress.  I don't know squat about fitting, but even I can tell that there's something out of whack with this bodice:  it's so tight across the underbust that I can barely lift my arms and doing up the zipper involves some serious contortions, but there is a big poof of fabric above the bust.  It looks like my chest collapsed in upon itself.  (I cropped off my head in all the following photos because I'm having a lazy hair day.)

The tragic part is that I used up almost all of this length of shwe shwe from Cape Town, and now I don't have enough left to recut, so I'll have to manage some kind of alterations on this bodice as is.  I'm thinking that I should have cut a larger size in the front bodice and then done a SBA.  Sound reasonable?  For the more experienced sewers out there, what do you think would help at this point?

You can see in this photo that my upper arms are being strangled, but there's a good 6L of extra volume in that upper chest.  Argh. 

I am super happy with the zipper however.  I hand basted so that I could match the pattern, and I think it's pretty damn good, if I do say so myself.
Oh Simplicity 2591, you will be the death of me.  How's that for melodrama?

**Oh, BTW, two posts in one day is due to a combination of holiday (Yay Canada Day!), my man taking my son out for Canada Day Celebrations all afternoon and my feverish daughter napping for 3+ hours.  

I love Sorbetto

Anyone who reads this blog is probably a member of Burdastyle or The Sew Weekly (because that's how you found me!), so you've probably seen me post this little project there.  If not, here are a few pictures of my tunic version of Sarai's Sorbetto, an easy sleeveless tank for beginners like me to mess around with.  Oona beat me to it and made a tunic version embellished with the trophies of her sworn enemy, whereas mine just has some old mismatched buttons.  I couldn't embellish with trophies from my sworn enemy because I currently don't have one.  

Oh, I had one:  a stray un-neutered tomcat that loved to spray the outside of our house, our car, garbage cans, kids' toys, stroller.... basically anything left outside was covered in cat piss and could be smelled a mile away.  Once spring rolled around, he started spraying through the windows of our house; once into the kitchen (eeew) and once into the living room, narrowly missing my sewing table (and patterns!).  I had to buy a new stroller for my daughter ($120!) because the old one was so stinky, even after repeated attempts to wash it, that I couldn't take it anywhere indoors without people remarking on the stink.     

My neighbour managed to trap him and sent him to the local cat shelter, thereby rendering the outside of my house tolerable again.  Not to mention my two NEUTERED female cats safe again from the constant attention  and ardent 4am cries. 

 Thanks Jay!  I have great neighbours.  On two sides anyway, but that's a different story.....
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