Monday 30 September 2013

Fall for Cotton

In just under the wire!  I blame:

1) having my machine break as I started this project, and then taking a few days to fix it myself,
2) the general exhaustion that comes from single parenting during the week while Mr. teaches in another city,
3) too much dreaming of what to make next rather than focusing on one task at a time.

I think I deserve a celebratory drink for having finished!

The pattern (Simplicity 8141) is not strictly vintage, since it's from 1996, but the silhouette is vintage-y, n'est-ce pas?  It's got that just-below-the-knee length that can be either slightly awkward or slightly retro, depending on your point of view.  I'm going to go with retro.

I'm quite satisfied with the print matching I managed on the front band.....

...and across the back seam and zip....

...but the sides are a hot mess.  But hey!  Look at that kick pleat!

The fabric is 100% cotton shwe shwe purchased at the Timba Tranding in Gaborone, Botswana in 2012.  The print kind of makes your eyes go a bit goggly, even if you haven't been drinking.  I think that's what initially drew me to the print, because frankly, when presented with 100s and 100s of shwe shwe prints, I get paralyzed by choice.  

a small selection of the shwe shwes in the shop
And just because I always like to keep it classy, here's an outtake for you Loran:

Thursday 26 September 2013

Map the Sewintists: New and (slightly) Improved!

View Larger Map

It's been exciting and frankly shocking to see so many people participate over the last 8 months in my mapping project!  When I came up the with idea that morning last February over breakfast, I thought I'd get maybe 100 people participating, which was about how many readers I had at that point.  Little did I expect that it would grow to 800+ people and places of interest!  When I talked to people outside the creative community about this, the first thing they always ask is, "How are you making money from it?"  

They've kind of missed the point, haven't they?  

I didn't spend loads of time and money developing a website; I simply opened up a portal that helped people come together, either for fun or for collaborations.  It was free for me to set up like this, and it has taken way less time that blogging for me to manage.  (In fact, I should really go back there today and clean up some of those double pins and errant pins in the middle of the oceans.  Unless you pinned while sailing the 7 seas?  No?  OK, they'll be deleted soon.)  

View Larger Map

But seriously, the utility of the map was limited by the page breaks that were automatically made after ~120 pins.  I tried to find someone who could translate the idea to a dedicated web page, but it was going to be too complicated and way too expensive for me to undertake.  So, in lieu of the time and money (and coding knowledge needed) to create a dedicated page for Map the Sewintists, I've found two ways to view all the pages as one.  I've changed the text on the original Google Maps page to this:

"Map the Sewintists

Because we have ~500 participants, we have spilled over on to 5 pages. Scroll down to the bottom of the list of people to see the page numbers, and they you can look at each page individually.

If you'd like to view all the pins together in one map, you have two options:

1) Easy: visit the compiled map here:

2) If you have Google Earth: Click on the blue KML button below. A file will open in Google Earth."

I hope that makes the experience for everyone a bit easier.  Again, please let me know either though this blog or by private email about any connections you've made via the map.  I'll do a blog post if I get some interesting stories!  I know that I've used it twice already; once to find people near Tampa when I was travelling for work, and now I'm using it for my job (which I can't really talk about yet, but I'll explain if it pans out).

Thanks everybody, and happy pinning!

Thursday 12 September 2013

A trip around the world without leaving my sewing nook

I mentioned in my last post that I should really give a little tour of all the fabrics I've bought on trips around the world.  If you're like me, you love the look and feel of textiles almost as much as working with them.  I used to buy textiles before I started sewing again, just because I knew I would eventually use them, and that I would regret not buying them when I had the chance to get high quality, inexpensive fabrics.  So come on a little trip with me as a reexamine some of the kilos of textiles that I've dragged back from my travels!

I'll start with the oldest pieces I have in my stash:  These are from South East Asia, bought during a 3-month trip through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in 2003.

These two are cotton sarong fabrics, both originally purchased as thirds (=1m x 2m  There are mountains of sarongs available for sale in SEAsian markets, and they are usually 1m x 6m, but you can bargin them into cutting thirds if you only want enough for a single sarong).  The one on the left is not a true batik, but just a print.  I used this as a table cloth for a few years, but now it's going to be sewn into a tunic.  On the right is a double-sided print from which I foolishly made a Burdastyle Anda - the fabric is too stiff and I never wear it.  I plan to recut it into something more flattering!  I don't remember how much I paid, but I think they were only around $5 each.

These are part of a big bundle of kramas ( ក្រមារ) that I bought in Cambodia.  They were various sizes, about $0.50 each, and are a mix of poly-cotton.  Kramas are worn by everyone in Cambodia, and are used for almost anything you can think:  skirts, scarves, face covers against dust and wind when bike riding, baby carriers, shopping name it.  I usually use them as hair wraps or neck scarves.  I had a lot more, but I've given many away or wrapped presents in them over the years.  I may make something out of the largest krama at some point, but I'm still undecided.

I bought these three scarves in Laos.  The one on the left is handwoven raw silk, and is a gorgeous red that is really hard to photograph.  In the centre is an intricately woven rayon (?) piece in the traditional pattern.  The huge scarf on the right measures about 1m x 3m, and the colours are amazing.  I'm not 100% convinced of the content.  Of course, when I was buying it, the girl insisted it was silk, but it doesn't have quite the lustre of silk.  Whatever the content, it is dramatic!

Next up is a pencil skirt I made from a length of traditional border print Laotian fabric.  The fabric is usually used to make long, tight, wrapped skirts like these....

from worklivelaos
...but I bought a skirt like this, and I NEVER wear it.  It is too formal for much wear, difficult to walk in, and the brocade on the bottom actually rubs against my legs and scratches them terribly.  I decided instead to make the Jenny skirt from Burda.  More practical, but still showcasing the textile:

 Unfortunately, I made this during a post-partum phase, so it's too big around the waist and hips now and needs quite a bit of alteration.  I'm glad I pulled this out of the alteration pile - I have some enthusiasm to finish it now that I'm looking at it!

Finally, I'm going to show a Laotian wrap skirt that I bought at Lao Women's Union in Vientiane.  I didn't make this, but I know you'll appreciate it.  It is 100% cotton, hand-woven, thread dyed ikat.  

It's gotten a bit stretched out of shape over the last 10 years, and the wrap portion doesn't wrap sufficiently, so I'm going to rework it.  

I think that's a long enough post for one day!  Next time I'll write about my African fabrics and the things I've made from them over the years. 

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