Wednesday, 30 June 2010
You may or may not recall that Me-Made-May had over 80 participants and in my initial SSS post I stated that my goal was to get 100 participants on board for this round of hand-stitched goodness. Well, I am incredibly pleased to announce that we have approximately 130 participants signed up so far! High fives all round! I'm sure that once more lovely sewers out there see the beautiful work and hear/read the persuasive chat of those currently signed up more people will decide to come along for the ride, so keep sewing/sharing/blogging/commenting/photographing/talking/writing about the challenge! More is most definately merrier.
The Self-Stitched-September Flickr group is already a lovely place to 'visit', with members displaying their self-stitched wares in preparation for the month itself and discussions taking place about all manner of related topics. I've been finding the 'Welcome' thread particularly fascinating, with members making small bio's about themselves and sharing what drew them to the challenge. Remember, you don't need to belong to the Flickr group to participate in SSS if you don't want to, it's just a useful place to 'gather', share and interact. Similarly, if you don't feel able or you don't want to participate in the SSS challenge, you can still head over to the Flickr group and 'hang': checking out the photos and discussions without even having to sign up to the group. How more frikkin' inclusive can this be?!
The beautiful garments that you see 'decorating' this post are from SSS participants visible on the Flickr group pool. Click on each individual image to see the whole thing and find its creator. Thanks everyone who has signed up to the Self-Stitched-September challenge so far, or offered encouraging sentiments, or both. I really believe that we are doing something special here, in different ways and on different levels.
Monday, 28 June 2010
When you spend most of your sewing time on lengthy garment projects, it can be a real eye-opener to make something that only takes an hour from start to finish including cutting the pieces and hand-stitching the lining to the zip tape. Creating an entire thing, one hour, está! Unbelievable. Of course, I’ve made little purses and makeup bags before, but I’ve always tended to make a load of them at a time, production-line style, either for Christmas presents or to sell on my old market stall. It was really nice to make one thing whilst thinking about the person I was making it for, hopefully infusing it with good juju that she will feel.
Aside from the time it (didn’t) take to make, the other thing I loved about this little project was that it’s made entirely from scraps. The front bird fabric was left over from my Macaron dress, the denim I used on the back came from some jeans that I cut down into shorts for my boy and the lining is formed from the crazy Chinese takeaway fabric. I still had some anchor trim left after this and this and the turquoise zip (which echoes the turquoise in the bird fabric) was floating around in a drawer. Final score: Thriftiness: 1; Consumerism: NIL.
Thursday, 24 June 2010
Generally speaking, I found they went together very well, except I found the front and back inside leg seams didn't marry up. Did anyone else have this problem? When you lay the front and back pattern pieces together, there is clearly a sizeable discrepancy. Anyhoo. I really like the way the pattern instructed the insertion of the elastic in the waistband, with two lines of casings which look really neat. I'll definately be using that method again in the future as I HATE it when elastic sometimes folds over and monkeys about inside it's casing.
I must say that these are realllllyyyyyyy hipstery. If/when I make these again, I'll definately be adding some centimetreage at the top to make them cover by substantial arse and hips a bit better. Also, I wish I'd gone with my first instinct to put elastic rather than a drawstring/ribbon round the bottom for comforts sake. I like the pleats at the front of each leg which wouldn't be possible with elastic, but I think I could live without them.
I used some really nice crisp shirting cotton that was chillin' in my stash without a plan attached to it. I think it gives a traditional mens' pyjama vibe which is a quirky reflection of the bloomers use. I also handstitched all the ends of the ribbon so that they don't fray during washing. I have actually used them each day since their completion for sleeping in/wandering about the flat in before I go for a shower (for a visual on that, see below), so I would have to declare them a WIN! Thanks to Sarai for going to the trouble of creating this pattern and instructions for free. There are some seriously cute versions of these bloomers out there, check out this post to see some of the cuteness.
Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Now, as Gertie points out, it's not the end of the world. Grading one size down is theorectically do-able. Except I'm lazy. Therefore I've decided to have a giveaway to re-house a couple of 36" bust patterns that I've already tried and decided are too big and too much hassle to re-size if I were to use them again. Lucky you!
Both patterns are used but complete and in good condition. Neither pattern is dated, but I'd estimate both are from about 1970. I'm giving them away together, so if you would like them to be yours, leave a comment with an email address (I'm a busy lady, no time for hunting out ways to contact you!) and I'll pick a winner at midnight on Sunday 27th June. Just copy, paste and complete the following sentence: 'I would like these patterns because.......'. I love a bit of audience participation, me.
Sunday, 20 June 2010
But last week I realised I no longer feel like that. It's not that my skills have greatly improved. On the contrary, I'm appalled at how little I seem to have learnt (dealing with stretch fabric aside) since I stitched the last seam on my final collection at university and took my wares down to London Graduate Fashion Week almost a decade ago. I think my expectations for my garments have changed due to a widening of my knowledge of and involvement in the issues that surround handmade culture and consumption. I have accepted that I don't have access to the fancy binding machines, fusing presses and other industrial equipment that make mass-manufactured clothing appear so slick (at least before they get worn and washed). But that's ok. I know that I can make a damn good approximation that would (I assume because I never ask them) fool the casual observer. I pretty sure everyone is far too busy to stop and try and figure out the origin of my garments! But even if they did figure out that I made everything I'm standing in, except for my bra and flipflops, that's something that these days I'm more than happy to broadcast.
I am far more forgiving of the homemade-y looking elements of my clothes because they exhibit the truth that it is possible to avoid mass-manufactured clothing. That badly applied bias binding or concealed zip reminds me that I'm contributing, in some small way, to the debate about our culture's sustainability. Not only do I forgive the signs that put my clothes into the homemade/handmade catagory, but I guess I've learnt to almost embrace them.
Take this newly finished red and black top pictured here as an example. Where I tried to deal with the sleeveheads' ease and put them into the armhole, I have some pretty major crinkling that refuses to disappear with pressing. Also, the seam allowance of the sleeve/armhole refuses lie correctly all the time so I have to consciously remember to tuck it up at intervals. And although these things annoy me, on balance I'm far more forgiving of them because I have a new top to wear that by and large looks pretty good and complies with the boundaries I have chosen to try to stick to.
Thursday, 17 June 2010
1. What is your staple meal? (ie. what meal do you cook most often, when you can't be bothered to think of anything adventurous)
Tomato-ey pasta which could include almost anything in the cupboard/fridge but MUST involve onions.
2. What do you want to be when you grow up?
Funny this question came up as I’ve been putting a lot of (albeit abstract at this point) thought into this very matter seeing as I’m moving to UK in the very near future and employment of some description will have to be secured. This much I know: I’m a massive fan of working hours that are less and at different times than the norm and am happy to sacrifice a comfortable salary for this ability. I need to feel I am in some way in control of my schedule. I’d prefer to work all the hours under the sun as a waitress than 9-6 in an office. I cannot bring myself to work for a corporation or big company, no matter how much better the pay is likely to be. So, given those conclusions, at this precise point in time I guess I would like to write about sewing, self-sufficiency (and if that’s even achievable), questions of consumptions, etc. more seriously and maybe teach some sewing skills classes. This is subject to change!
3. What book are you reading at the moment (if any)?
Right now I am busy trying to read all the books I’ve borrowed from people in Spain before I have to give them back. I’m reading ‘Conversations with Hunter S. Thompson’ by various authors and I started ‘Dreams of my Father’ by Barak Obama on the train today.
4. How do you relax?
I don't consciously do anything to help relax as I have a pretty relaxed schedule at the moment so I think I'd feel a fraud if I did, although I might sleep better if I did. I guess the most relaxing activities I indulge in are sewing, reading (books and blogs), writing and wine.
5. What colour are the interior walls of your home?
Since leaving my folks’ gaff when I was 19, I have always lived in rented accommodation so haven’t had much say in interior decor to date, although I fantastise about it often. The two times I had the opportunity to paint my room I painted the walls red. I’m looking forward to doing that again sometime in the future.
6. What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Recently, I’ve been playing way too much Hearts on my laptop. Maybe it’s a form of relaxation, but whatever, I’d have a lot more sewing projects finished by now if I hadn’t discovered the Hearts function. Please, for the love of god, if you haven’t tried it, don’t! It might get you too!
Another guilty pleasure is swearing off buying vintage sewing patterns on eBay (.co.uk), then falling off the wagon and buying a load more. If the seller only sends to the UK, I get them sent to my mum’s house, but if they send to Europe I get them sent here even if it’s more expensive so my mum doesn’t see them stockpiling up between my visits home when I can collect them! I guess my relocation to UK will mean my own conscious will be the only thing barring me from owning all the vintage patterns in the world!
Oh, and I guess eating lots of tasty things and drinking too much booze should go in the guilty pleasures bit too, as I almost always regret them the next day.
7. What time is bed time and getting up time?
For the last two years my ‘school’ day schedule has been midnight-ish for bedtime and 9-10am-ish for getting up. I have a really hard time getting to sleep (if at all) so it’s not quite the luxurious sleeping pattern that it may seem to some.
8. How long do you spend reading blogs (per day or per week)?
Same as the Hearts issue (see above), if I did less blog reading then more sewing would have got done by now, but I love it! Solely reading other people’s blogs, I’d say an hour a day. Including writing for my own and the Colette Patterns blogs, and checking out/commenting on Flickr groups and Burdastyle, then it’s pushing towards a figure I’d rather not admit.
Here's the bloggers, in no particular order, I will tag in turn who may or may not decide to play along (fingers crossed, no pressure, blah blah):
Cecili from Sewing and so on
Michelle from Naughty Little Epoch
EmilyKate from This is EmilyKate
Coralene from Fawn and Flower
Veronica Darling from Veronica Darling's Crafty Adventures
Jen from Grainline
Jessica from A Yen for Craft
Susannah from Cargo Cult Craft
The questions I would like to put to them are:
1. If you had to choose a famous person to be your new best friend, who would it be any why?
2. What proportion of your wardrobe is handmade?
3. Where would you live, if money, jobs and responsibilities were taken out of the equation?
4. Describe the weirdest or most horrendous place you’ve worked.
5. What is your favourite sewing technique or part of a garment to sew (eg, collars, piping, etc.)?
6. Which sewer out there do you envy the most?
7. Do you collect anything?
8. What’s your personal motto? (I stole that one from the Burdastyle featured members questions because it’s my favourite)
Because a post with no pictures is no post at all (I'm trying to make up personal mottos but I don't think that one's going to stick!), I've 'decorated' this post with paps of me in my Rockabilly tribute dress that I finally got to wear to a Burlesque night last week. Thank you for your time.
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
You may be thinking 'Damn, that fabric looks familiar'. Very observant of you, it's actually more of the duvet case from which I previously fashioned an Anda dress for my best friend. I decided I really wanted to adhere to my Stash Bustin' commitment for this project, and this pattern was BIG which excluded much of my stash, so this kind of got picked by default. The original duvet cover did feature an amusing little tag which I decided to appropriate into this garment. True, if not entirely relevant!:
Of course, I could post up pictures of myself wearing this top, but I think it would be much more amusing to show it modelled by my boy, who decided to try it on after I left it on my mannequin and turned my back. Thankfully I had my camera to hand, and he's not the shy type:
I think he was aiming for some classic catalogue poses, but upon analysis of the pictures, we came to the conclusion that the photos have more than a hint of '70's cult leader about them! He has relinquished possession of the tunic for now, and if this status quo continues, I imagine I'll wear this top mainly around the flat in a bid to keep cool over the next month or so. If I don't get the opportunity to wear it myself, please keep an eye on me via this blog in case I start to exhibit strange cult-follower tendencies! It's good to know I can rely on you.
Wednesday, 9 June 2010
However, I didn't want to just whip up a dark blue tulip skirt because I've already made a dark blue tulip skirt, this needed something to make it a little different. Enter: piping! Now, I've long been an admirer of piping, I even confessed my love for it recently on the Colette Patterns blog, but I've always been a little afraid storing the concept as 'something to try in the future'. Well the future is now people!
I bought this cool bias binding and the closest thing my local haberdasher's had to cord and used this Burdastyle tutorial on how to make my own piping. Easy as. And the I used this tutorial on how to actually sew the stuff in. Now I'll be honest with you, I didn't do all the hand tacking that they advised, only on the trickiest parts, but I'm really happy with how it turned out. Of course, it made the make up of the skirt a lot slower, but it was totally worth it for a more interesting and nicely finished garment.
Another bit of practicing what I preach came in the form of contrast pocket bags and facings. I didn't want to use denim for these because, A) I didn't have enough, and B) they would have been too bulky. So I cut up a tiny floral skirt I found on the street and used that instead. In fact, the skirt was so tiny (but not a child's, according to the label) that there wasn't much left after I'd taken what I needed! The floral fabric had some stretch in it, so I used it cross-grain instead on the facings. It wasn't an ideal choice, but with a bit of stitching in the ditch and the facings are nicely trapped down and behaving themselves.
Another thing about this style of skirt is that it makes me wear longer tops tucked in (see top pic) so the front detail is visible and to prevent strange front bulges. This is something that I NEVER do as a rule, but it felt nice to be forced out of that bizarrely entrenched condition and look at my other garments in a slightly different way and create a silhouette I wouldn't have considered otherwise. I have a theory that it was growing up in the 1990's that makes me so adverse to tucking tops in, having any sock showing if I'm wearing trainers with a skirt or shorts or wearing back packs on two shoulders! Does any one else feel like this?
The final fit of this skirt is a leeetle big. It sits on the hips ok, until you start to walk, then it sometimes does the migrating thing, which doesn't matter if you've got your hands in your pockets to anchor it down! It's very comfortable, but when I use this pattern again, I'll make a size or half a size smaller so it sits a little higher and tighter. I am pleased however about the finish of this garment. I really took my time to make everything look as professionally finished as I could, facilities and skills permitting. I also got to learn some new skills and apply some practices that make this item, for me more than just a cute new denim skirt. Which, of course, is also what it is!
Tuesday, 8 June 2010
My initial Summer Essentials declaration of intent was based on the logical acknowledgement of the fact that my August will be spread across Europe and across a range of climates. But it's going to be a grim summer unless I get some hot-n-sticky weather friendly garments on the go to wear before 'Mission Repatriation' rolls around. So here is my revised list of essentials:
- Rockabilly inspired top using New Look 6808 (that I first attempted for my Chinese Takeaway top) using a hideous synthetic '80s blouse I found on the street which is not too far from being finished (this remains from my initial list).
- Tunic top from Cecili's Japanese Top Sew-along in some stash fabric and is currently in the pre-construction stage (this also remains from the initial list).
- My African wax fabric Anda dress gets a lot of use in the hot weather because it's so little hassle to wear. I'm going to make another more mini version in the crazy pink fabric pictured below that was donated to me by my mate Anna.
- I've only recently become aware of the concept of 'lounge wear', although I'm still not entirely sure what's the difference between that and 'stuff you sleep in'. Maybe it's more 'stuff you slob about in'? Either way, I'm beginning to feel a need for some little shorts to go with my self-made vests for the duel sleeping/slobby purposes. I reckon the super-cute Madeleine Mini Bloomers from Colette Patterns might be just the ticket.
- More shorts! I've been wearing my two pairs of Ruby shorts almost non-stop recently, and another pair of shorts would be welcome in my wardrobe. I'm thinking high-waisted but I'll probably come to regret that decision after eating a big lunch whilst wearing them!
Sunday, 6 June 2010
Self-Stitched-September Flickr Group and, umm, hang on, there's something missing, what was it again?
Oh, yeah. There's something that I've foolishly overlooked until now: signing-up to Self-Stitched-September myself!
'I, Zoe of 'So, Zo...' blog, sign up as a participant of Self-Stitched-September. I endeavour to wear only handmade items of clothing every day for the duration of September 2010 with the exception of bras, socks, tights and shoes'.
There. That's better!
Saturday, 5 June 2010
First up is the Japanese Top Sew-along concocted by the wonderful and super-stylish Cecili. Cecili wore some seriously gorgeous handmade garments during Me-Made-May (evidence can be sought at the Me-Made-May Flickr group or her blog) and I know I wasn't the only one to become enchanted with her style (to be honest I already was because I've been reading her blog for a while, but MMM reinforced it). Many of her more deceptively simple and always perfectly fitting creations were based upon Japanese patterns, so when she suggested a sew-along with one such pattern, many of us jumped at the chance to get a piece of the action. See that scary looking diagram above? That's what we are going to draft! It comes from this awesome site which has a squillion beautiful pattern diagrams for free download. I haven't yet worked out how the site makes any money, but they must do because of all the good sewing karma they are surely accruing. I'm a bit hazy about how I'm going to turn this is crazy diagram written in Japanese into a wearable tunic, but I have faith and reckon it will all become clear when I get started tomorrow.
The second sew-along I've signed up for is the Summer Essentials Sew-along created by the deeply awesome Ali. It's like Ali peered inside my head and figured out a challenge that actually helps create order from all the mess she must have found in there, rather than just adding to the clutter. To be honest, initially I was at a loss when trying to figure out what would constitute my personal 'Summer Essentials', items that I would find useful when my intensely hectic August rolls around. But then Ali came up with six useful catagories with garment ideas and I was able to mentally make a check list 'got, need, want, got' etc. etc...
The challenge is to make roughly five garments, roughly before August, which are criteria I can think I can handle, so here's my list of things I'd like to make:
- Top using New Look 6808 (that I first attempted for my Chinese Takeaway top) using a hideous synthetic '80s blouse I found on the street (trust me).
- Another top using New Look 6808 but a different view that has a cool collar/bow detail using some incredible mexican heart fabric my best mate bought me. And I'm going to crank out the contrast piping again now that I feel confident enough.
- Tunic top from Cecili's Japanese Top Sew-along (see above) in some stash fabric. I have a couple of pieces in mind, but I'll choose which after the drafting stage.
- High-ish waisted capri pants using a pattern from Burda magazine, issue 07/08 and red fabric, the purchase of which I felt the need to defend here. I'd love to share a link to the pattern, but the Burda site is all skewy at the moment.
- Cute short-sleeved jacket using this pattern downloaded from Burdastyle. It'll be some navy fabric or other (I have quite a lot kicking around) with gold buttons and I'll probably round off the collar and go crazy with some red piping.
Ideally I'll bust out a few more summery garments than this (a light cotton top that gathers under the bust; high-waisted denim shorts; a vintage pattern dress with the blue and white polka dot fabric my boy's mum got me for Christmas.............) but I don't want to pile on the pressure by saying I will for sure. So there you have it. Happy summer (sewing) peops!
Friday, 4 June 2010
The result was this tunic dress. I used two small pieces of sheer floral printed fabric which I'd got for 50p from a bargain bin in a really nice fabric shop in London about three years ago. Plus I deployed the ubiquitous Simplicity 3835 (my 8th version) as a base and used my own drafted sleeve pattern which I have used for five of those eight versions now. I think the fullness of the my sleeve pattern gives the resulting garment a nice, and possibly more retro, silhouette, and the gathering at the bottom into the cuff band reflects the gathering of the garments neckline.
Anyway, this all leads to the obvious question, if this was completed well and truly within May, why didn't I wear this beloved new garment during Me-Made-May? Good question. The answer is this: it's very sheer and for modesty's sake I feel it needs to worn with jeggings with a vest underneath. The do have three me-mades vests, but none of them appropriate plain or subdued enough. I did consider trying it without a vest, but when I raised a concern that my belly would be firmly on show (not my favourite feature), my boyfriend told me not to worry, that no-one would be looking at my belly (!), I promptly scrapped that idea altogether!
Well, now Me-Made-May is over, and my plain black vest are permitted again. However, the weather has turned super-hot now, so this garment may need to remain unworn until it cools down, or I return to UK (I'm pretty sure it's the latter that will come first!). But that's ok. This fabric's been waiting in the wings for three years already, a couple more months won't hurt.
Wednesday, 2 June 2010
- It will continually stand as your statement of intent without you needing to constantly remind your readers what you're up to (of course, you may want to do that too!).
- Linking to the original Self-Stitched-September 'Join-me' post gives a full explanation of what it's all about and how to sign-up, meaning you won't need to repeatedly explain to your readers what it is you've sign-up for. They can click on your button and all will become clear whilst you sit back and relax.
- It will serve to advertise the challenge to the readers of your (no doubt awesome) blog, helping us to inch closer to that 100 participant target. More is (at least in this case) merrier!
- It will help link participants as they can see at a glance that you are 'in' when they check out your blog.
- It's pretty cute.
So, if you would like one, follow these steps:
1# Copy the following HTML code:
<a href="http://sozowhatdoyouknow.blogspot.com/2010/05/join-me-self-stitched-september.html" target="_blank"> <img border="0" alt="Photobucket" src="http://i855.photobucket.com/albums/ab120/zozowahine/sss01.jpg" width="170" height="80" /> </a>
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
I spent most of the last day of Me-Made-May in high street clothing shops doing trend research, which I always feel is a little ironic (and at times possibly hypocritical even, but let's leave that debate for another day) seeing as I wear so much handmade clothes and was in the process of rounding off a whole month wearing exclusively handmade things. Funnily enough, this outfit made me feel the more at ease pretending to shop than I have for a very long time. Perhaps that's because this skirt could be perceived as being quite 'on-trend'? Whatever. But I must say that this final outfit was one of my favourites from the whole month, and if wasn't for the desire to expand my clothing selection for the tail end of the challenge, I may not have got round to making the skirt at all.
There are a million things I could write about regarding this challenge, about the awesome people and blogs I have discovered or about the knowledge, inspiration and support that has spread because of it. What I will say is that there are some really interesting and thought-provoking analysis and reflections going on round about now on participants blogs and the Flickr group about what can been taken from the Me-Made-May experience. If you have found this challenge of interest, I would encourage you to seek some of them out. I really do want to thank all those who participated and everyone who left nice comments, y'all are amazing!
On a personal level, I believe I succeeded in making my own efforts bigger, brighter and more fun. Of course, the warmer weather facilitated a lot of that, but I really pushed myself to create more varied and colourful clothing combinations. In fact, I somehow managed to only repeat one outfit the whole month! I don't think I realised how many separates I have. I also made more of an effort with my hair and made sure I wore makeup more often, two things that I know have a direct relationship to how I feel during the day. Funny the changes you make when you realise more people are watching! Predictably there were lots of things I had planned to create before and during May, like a dressing gown, that might have been useful and/or provided more variety, but I got by just fine without them.
By now you may have noticed that I have thrown down another challenge: Self-Stitched-September. I have many thoughts and plans regarding this and the other challenges I have recently signed up for as a result of my experiences of Me-Made-May, but I'll save all that jazz for another day. I must admit it took me a few minutes this morning to realise that I was 'allowed' to wear non-handmade things today, and that actual made me quite sad. Long live the handmade revolution!