Sewing Catharsis

A very close family member of mine had a serious health scare over the weekend. I’m not going to let this post get too personal but suffice to say it has not been a very fun few days.

Yesterday I took some me-time and sat down to do a little sewing for someone else and I found it surprisingly healing. A distraction for my brain, nothing too difficult, but enough to make me concentrate on the task at hand instead of all the ‘if onlys’ that have been plaguing my recent thoughts.

It is my Mum’s birthday next week so last night she booked a small family dinner to celebrate. My Mum is one of those ladies who hates “dust collectors” or anything else that is of no use to her. She likes practical gifts but generally tells us she doesn’t need or want anything.

(The other problem is that if I give her something that is “too nice” it’ll get put away “for best” which means it will never get used!)

Well I knew there was something she needed, even if she didn’t know it. When we stayed with her recently I realised how much I missed my peg apron and using a basket on the ground is no good for your back (or hers) so I decided to make my Mum her very own Peg Apron.

I used my favourite apron book, A is for Apron, by Nathalie Mornu. This is a great book for anyone as apron mad as I am.

There are 25 “fresh and flirty” aprons inside and plenty of ideas for more with a short section on the history of aprons and lots of vintage images.

The photographs are beautiful and the fabric selections are inspirational, you’ll never want to buy a boring beige apron again!

I don’t find the instructions particularly helpful, there is too much text and not enough images but none of these aprons are particularly difficult to construct.

Patterns are in the back at reduced scale so you need to enlarge them on a photocopier or scan and enlarge them in Photoshop/Gimp or similar program and print them off.

I made Deep Pockets, the second time I have made this pattern since the version I made for myself is so great. This pattern is also excellent for using up those many scraps or fat-quarters you have hoarded away because the fabric requirements are minimal. I even used scraps to make the bias binding as well since you only need about 12cms of it.

It only took me about 90 minutes to construct (and that included re-threading my overlocker, making a cup of tea and checking my emails!) I am pretty sure I spent more time choosing which fabric to use!

This time around I did not divide the apron into two pockets because I find that because I am right-handed I just end up with one pocket full or pegs and nothing in the other side! I like how well my Mum’s one turned out that I might unpick the top stitching of my apron.

Now back to the “for best” problem, Mum has promised me she will use the apron, she thinks it really is a great idea and can see the benefit of not juggling pegs in her hands and not stooping down to the peg basket. My Aunty and Nana also liked it so much they have asked for one each as well.

You can see my first version of this apron here and there are also images in that link to the Cosmopolitan, an Art Deco style apron from the same book.

A gripe and a revelation

Today I went proper clothes shopping, it’s been a while since I did that. I said “proper” clothes shopping because usually clothes shopping for me means fabric shopping ;)

I had a specific target in mind: trousers. In particular the appropriate-for-work kind. Even though we are heading into another heat wave here in WA, Summer is sure to run out of puff sometime or other and site-safe steel-capped boots don’t look all that good under a pencil skirt either.

My need is far greater than the speed at which I could make them, mainly because they are far down a list of things I want to sew now. Summer things, dresses, mostly. I’m not lacking in pant patterns and it’s also not that I am scared to sew them. I am half-way through a pair of jeans that appear to be a win, and I made a work-appropriate pair several years ago (taking a pattern from my favourite Shanton’s pants that I wore to death and then couldn’t find again) and I did a good job of those too.

No, today was rtw purchase day. So I took myself off to the local mall where I intended to first try Target and then my fall back, Portmans. I started at Target because recently they have upped their image and have a lot of really good quality items, on-trend and at reasonable prices.  I’m not sure if Target here in Australia is like Target in America but for you Kiwi’s it’s kind of like Farmers. I love Portmans’ pants, I’ve owned them before but I really didn’t want to spend $90 – $120 or a single pair today, but they were there if all else failed.

In Target I started in the “younger” section, they had a wide selection or styles. I chose two and because I swing between a size 12 or 14, depending on brand, I grabbed one in each size. Cut to the dressing room where the size 14 was way too tight I was back out again, smiling to the counter girl, handing back my tag. There weren’t any size 16’s in the “young” section…So I figured there must be more pants in this huge store and wandered around a bit until I came across the “City Women’s” area, more business style pants. I selected four styles, and thinking I had learn’t from the “young” section I meekly grabbed each in a size 16. Smiling at the counter girl, I entered the curtained cubical and tried on my first pair…you want a lesson in non-standard industry sizing? You got it sister. These pants swam on me, I could actually put both my legs into one pant leg and almost pull it off over my head. So after stripping me of my self esteem at the front of the store, now I am just utterly confused. I didn’t bother trying on the other three pairs, another smile at the counter girl, back to the hangers, back to my first plan, one of each in a size 12 and 14. Sigh, back in the change room, I felt I should introduce myself to the counter girl. Oh great, now the size 14 is a tiny bit big and the 12 is, again, inappropriately tight.

No need to tell you this is the point at which I gave up and left the store.

Cue Portmans, where they had a couple of sale racks and I was sure I’d find a perfectly fitting pair, I’ve never had any problems there before right?

Wrong.

I found 2 pairs in the sale rack and one other pair. I confidently grabbed two of them in size 14, and one size 12 just in case. The 14’s were too big (ok, so I’m a Portman’s size 12, good), thank goodness the 12 fitted me perfectly…in the leg…Oh but the crotch was a whole other story, you know what Camel Toe is? Yeah…

That’ll go down nicely on the construction site, exit stage left.

This time I gave up for completely, home for lunch went this little ruffled kiwi.

Really, should I have expected anything better?.

So now it looks like the only solution was the one I pushed aside earlier on. I will have to fall back to making my own pants.

Lucky my good friend Jacquie gave me an amazing book: Making Trousers for Men & Women by David Page Coffin. I had a good flick through it when I first received it and it is full of beautiful photographs and is extremely well written. It comes with a 2-hour DVD as well which I am about to put on while I eat my lunch.

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Jacquie, thank you so much, you’re timing couldn’t be better  xx

I’ll be thoroughly reading your wonderful present to me cover-to-cover tonight.

Ladies tell me I am not alone, please…

Winning and sewing

I don’t tend to win too many things and it’s not from lack of trying. My Mum is a born winner but she never passed that gene on to me. Her specialty is radio stations. Now I don’t want to make her out to be some crazy lady who sits by the phone, but while potting around the house she’ll just hear an album she likes being given away, pick up the phone and she’s instantly “caller number 9″!

I remember when I was in Uni and feeling pretty poor the local radio station announced that they were giving away a double jazz CD and I asked her to try and win it for me. Sure enough at lunchtime she rang me to tell me she’d won a CD but accidentally won me the “Lady Sings the Blues”, apparently they were alternating between the CDs each hour. I told her that was cool, I liked the sound of that CD too so I’d go pick it up on the way home. Trust my Mum, she felt so bad for winning me the wrong CD she tried again the next hour and won me the Jazz as well! Love my Mum.

Anyway, on with todays post, I recently won a book off of BurdaStyle, it’s called The Right-Handed Embroiderers Companion by Yvette Stanton and it arrived yesterday in the post, how exciting!

The book arrived direct from Yvette with a cute little matching card a personal note inside from her, how nice?!

Basque Stitch

This book is pretty amazing, it’s basically a complete stitch dictionary with beautiful colour photos and examples along side very clear diagrams of each stitch type. This book is the right-handers version and there is a left-handed version as well but I noticed that inside my book there is also a diagram for each stitch showing the left-handers way to form the stitch (shown in the pink square above). I’ve always been very right-handed and not really studied any left-handers I have encountered (except by trying to hold my pencil the same way at primary school) so I find the comparison really interesting.

Shisha Stitch

In my winning post on the BurdaStyle blog I said, “I would like to one day make a beautiful quilt. But I don’t imagine this quilt to be something traditional, more like a work of art and I would use embroidery to embellish it” and I mean’t it. I hope to make it a long-term project, maybe over 1 or 2 years. I’ve been collecting inspirational images for a while now. One of my favorite “quilt artists” is Leah Evans.

Arpent Bend – Leah Evans

Amazing huh? I know! I also love these “map blankets” and right now I am leaning towards creating something personal to me that draws from these two pieces plus a few others I have collected.

Map Blanket by Haptic Lab

I own another book, The Art of Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolff, which will also come in handy for this project, maybe I’ll review that book for you at a later date.

The only other sewing thing I have ever won was this vintage pattern from Kusine a little while ago, it’s such a cute suit!

Butterick 6257

Anyway, while we are on the topic of winning things, I also received my first blogger award. The wonderful Magdamagda awarded me “The Versatile Blogger”. I was really excited to receive it as, just like Magda, it is my first award too!

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There are a few rules that go with accepting these awards, they are:

1. Thank the person who awarded you and link back to them in your post

2. Tell 7 random facts about yourself

3. Pass the award on to 15 new found bloggers

4. Contact each blogger you want to pass the award on to and let them know you’ve done so, and let the giver of your award know you accept it.

The seven random facts is really fun but I think awarding a further 15 blogs is getting a bit spammy so I’ve decided to chose 5 of my current favorites and pass it on to them :)

Here are my seven random facts:

1. I’d like to learn how to crochet (I want to make some super cute amigurumis) but I got stuck after making a simple chain! I felt so useless I gave up and sewed a pretty holder for my crochet hooks instead.

When all else fails – back to the sewing machine :)

2. I’ve suddenly become really bad at photographing my completed items, I used to be so good, I’d dress up and take a photo as soon as they were complete but now I have about 4 things I haven’t photographed yet!

3. My younger sister loves to sew too, she’s really good at transforming existing items and working without a pattern. When I eventually move home I’m looking forward to a few sewing sessions with her.

4. I turn 30 this year, I feel really old and I am dreading my birthday! :/

5. I have a terrible knowledge of fabrics! That’s why I’ve started my Fabric Book, it was part of my 2011 New Years Resolutions, I’m building it up one fabric at a time and pretty soon I’ll be a fabric nerd too!

6. I made a really embarrassing newbie mistake on my last project, it’s not enough to stop me from wearing it but I can’t believe I did it…I’ll share it with you when I post the photos…or maybe I’ll make you all guess for a prize ;)

7. I’m hopelessly and permanently addicted to the American versions of Project Runway & So You Think You Can Dance. I watch them while sewing but I know I shouldn’t and it’s possibly why I made the mistake above ;)

Magdamagda beat me to a few of my favourite blogs but I have a lot of favourites so I’d love to pass this award on to a few new onces I recently discovered, thank you for your constant inspiration ladies xx

http://homemadecouture.blogspot.com/

http://theslapdashsewist.blogspot.com/

http://amandasadventuresinsewing.blogspot.com/

http://josiesews.blogspot.com/

http://bubbledust.blogspot.com/