Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Finishing February

Sometimes I just don't feel like sewing. I don't know what to sew, or there's too much to do and it's all over whelming, or I forget how much I like hiding in the basement, surrounded by lego and Skylanders (no, I don't know what they are either) with my sewing machine and a podcast. But sometimes me and my sewing mojo are just in sync. And I tell you, now is one of those times. The last few weeks have been super productive, which is weird, because on a daily basis I feel like throttling everyone at the thwartedness of all my plans. DC has had a lot of winter snow, to the extent that of the seven weeks since the Christmas holidays, my boys haven't had a full week of school. One week they should have done, in that there weren't any weather related closures, but there were 2 teacher work days. 2. It was like teacher planner people laughing in the faces of despairing parents across Fairfax County. I hope they put them to good use. But I still seem to have got things done.

My husband is really supportive, and I love him for it. But today, when I wanted to go to a gym class, and there was (another) two hour school delay and I couldn't he tried to say he understood. But he doesn't. He doesn't have his plans thwarted day after day by children, illness, snow. He just has to go to work and have nice lunches. But then apparently that thwarts his inclination to stay at home and do lego and find out what Skylanders are. You can't win, can you?

And it's interesting, because I have more going on at the moment than I have for a while, but I still have time, it would seem, to make for sewing. More time even. I'm running lots, going to the gym and sewing. But not all at the same time. That would be complicated. A time comes, doesn't it, a while after having a baby, when you remember who you are, and what you love and you remember to carve out time to do it. And somehow you rediscover the energy to do it. And then it snows and it's back to chocolate biscuits and gin.

And snowgheritas. They're like frozen margheritas. But with real snow.

So, finishing. I have Done Well.

Less well at taking pictures and all that though. Still, baby steps.


Firstly, pyjamas for the boys. My big boys are getting to that age where they want to wear sweats and branded tshirts. We compromise at cords and character tshirts, but I'm fairly sure hell would freeze over before they wore something homemade. Unless it's fancy dress of course, where different rules apply. But they do like a homemade jammie. Particularly when they get to make the tops. This is a fairly failsafe formula I've developed over the years: make the bottoms, hack the top. So each of these is a store bought (or in the little one's case, hand me down) tshirt with the sleeves cut off and replaced with the trouser fabric. Then I use the sleeve fabric to make the trouser cuff, which kind of ties things together. Each set reflects the boys' interests, from left, bugs, dragons and fishies (does not bode well for hand me downs. Should have thought that through). The big boys got to draw on their tshirts with fabric markers. Months ago. Seriously, before Christmas.
Eventually I did get round to starting the trousers, but made a complete cock up of the dragon ones by using an old pattern I'd made from their old trousers, and then deciding to convert it into a one piece pattern which just didn't work. Then I had to wait for my friend to come home from holiday to buy new fabric and blah blah blah they took ages.
Lessons learned: use a proper pattern (in the end I used the free one that you get when you sign up for emails from Sew Can She). Don't promise children things until you're sure you can deliver. Don't try and take photos of 3 children in one go. Measure twice cut once. Don't look at 'pjs for 3 kids' as one item. Seriously, that's 6 items of clothing. Don't forget you have a fourth child. He was holding my legs whilst I was trying to take photos.
Secondly. The Impromptu Quilt. I started this months ago. I have a love hate relationship with it. Mostly hate related to the foul polyester fabric I chose for the surround, not entirely realising just how much of it there would be. And how polyestery it was. Still, it has been completely redeemed by binding. And now I quite love it. I just haven't photographed it.

 I have a lovely friend in the UK who is very keen on giving me hugs. I am not very keen on receiving hugs, and apparently it's quite off putting to hug someone who is flinching (although I am told I have got better over the years, and now only flinch internally. She still knows though). I am hoping that the quilt will serve as a proxy hugger whilst we are overseas, and that she will know I am thinking of her. Like me, she is a mother of boys and so, perhaps, is in need of a bit of pink and floral in her life / house. There certainly isn't much of that here.
Lessons learned: Those deceptively simple quilts you see online are actually fiendishly complicated a lot of the time. Buy the best fabric you can afford not the cheapest you can find. Don't leave a project out on the spare bed for 6 months - the children will rearrange it. Don't give up on something (but do step away for a bit). Read the instructions. Make the backing bigger than the front. Yes, really.
So those two projects were both things I had already started and needed to finish. The third thing I had bought the pattern for, and fabric for, but not got any further than that. So this counts really as in 'finishing (using up) stuff I already own' rather than finishing a project. It's a Lola dress from Victory patterns. It has pockets. Big ones. I tell you I'm never sewing anything without pockets again.


It came together really quickly after the inevitable faff of printing, cutting, sticking, tracing, cutting and pinning that you get with download pattern. And my sewing machine did a good job with its zigzag stitch, rather than the recommended serger.
Lessons learned: don't get your (well, mine) husband to take photos of you. Don't wear thick welly socks to have your photo taken. Don't stand by your kitchen bin to have your photo taken. Really the learning points here are photography related. Also, trust the measurement size and don't say 'surely the pattern must lie, and really I am 2 sizes bigger than that', because probably the pattern doesn't lie. I'd very much like more of these in my life, but one size smaller. And (see points from above) in a better fabric. $3 a yard is a bargain for sure, but it's kind of thin and see through. And I give the children electric shocks.
Fourth project: a Wiksten tank. This was an upcycle from a friend's cast offs - actually a shirt of her husband's. She's a bit smaller than I am, so the top's a bit tight on me, but I was really pleased with how it turned out. I made a tank dress last year, (with hacked pockets, clearly) which is now too big, and love the pattern. This time and particularly because I was sewing for someone else, I really paid attention to the finishing, sewing French seams inside and being really careful with the bias tape. I even ironed it.

Lessons learned: Don't take pictures in your hallway either. Or of a too small top that you're wearing over leggings. Good finishing really pays off in a lovely finished garment. Don't throw anything away ever because it might come in handy to turn into a lovely tank. Don't write epic posts about everything you've done in a month because it's exhausting.

Still, I think that nails February!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

New year's resolutions... busted

So, Christmas, new year, came and went. I never did write that post about buying sustainably made clothes. Or about Christmas crafting. Although I did actually do some. And I resolved that this year I would get my act together, and I would sew and craft and create and I would photograph it and write about it and I would do at least one post a month. Well. That hasn't worked, has it. In my defence, I've written this post a dozen times in my head. Does that count?

I thought for my January post I would write about what I want to do with this blog for the year. Whether I want to keep it going or not, and if I do, then how I'm going to actually manage it, and what I want to achieve with it.

And so my theme for the year is going to be 'Finishing'. Finishing in various senses of the word, firstly as in completing projects which I have either started or at least envisaged, and secondly, in the technical finishing of a piece, so making sure the threads are knotted,  and tied. Hems are pressed. Grafting is done. And also that details are included. Pockets. Buttons. Finishing touches. That's kind of point 2.b. But also thirdly, in the spirit of being more environmentally conscious, finishing things I already have, so no more fabric for a while. Unless it's gorgeous. Or a bargain. Or necessary.

So what am I going to make this year? No doubt other stuff will creep in, but broadly I would like to make / finish the following:

  • More pjs for the boys
  • Another couple of Wiksten tanks for me
  • A Wiksten Tova
  • A pleated skirt for the summer. Maybe this Zinnia. And a Moss. Which I know isn't pleated, but I have just the fabric for.
  • A Lola dress (I actually have fabric for 3. Whoops)
  • Geranium dresses for a friend's daughters
  • Finishing the Improptu quilt I started last year. Oh dear. I just looked at the Flickr pool. Everyone else finished ages ago. 
  • Making the Pigeon quilt I bought fabric for a year ago

And challenging myself a bit, with new projects and blog stuff
  • Making more things from the books I  already have
  • Making a dress for me. Like a proper fitted dress, not a sack, and then wearing it! Maybe a Coffee Date Dress
  • Participating in something bloggy. Kids clothes week is now, so it ain't going to be that! Perhaps if I can get my head round it I might do Me Made May

I also seem to have remembered how to knit again, so would like to do a couple of things. I already made an O W L sweater, which I've wanted to do for years. Now I have my eyes on a Quince studios Camilla.

So, 2014. A year of blogging and finishing. 1 post down. 11 to go. Phew.