Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This Weekend's Progress

I went to start something new this weekend, but very obediently stopped myself in my tracks thinking I had plenty of projects that I Really Should Finish!

Like the Chanel Jacket that I started last year, the shell lying neglected because it is a bit too big for me...sigh...all that over-ambitious quilting, so much for my concern that quilting it would make it smaller.  Should I unpick it all, or recut?  I have enough fabric, but would like to leave enough for a matching skirt - I mean even though I will probably never wear them together, I still think the effort that goes into a Chanel jacket kind of justifies a matching skirt don't you think?  Now, where is it - oh - the cat is sleeping on it.  Well, that rules that one out for now.

What about the Trench Coat, also (gulp) from last year?  I've finally found some nice buttons in the right sizes and colour, complete with matching buckles, perfect!  Note to self - must recut sleeve straps to wider width to fit sleeve buckle.  I just need some nice lining, that ivory Bemberg is a bit see-through.  Something with pattern would be nice, nothing too dominant,  mmm...better think on that one.

The CAPE!!  I must get onto the cape before winter is over so I can wear it lots - it is going to be so cool with my new black trousers!  That fabric was such a bargain!  Shall I make that first, or the red coat?  I suppose I should do the coat, the pattern is already done.  That is going to be fun to make!  No lining yet though.  Actually, I should carry on with the black knitted opera gloves from Vogue Knitting - without them both the cape and the coat (which has 3/4 sleeves) will be unwearable during winter.  So far I have knitted one thumb and half a fifth finger - err, where did I leave it now?  Wait - is that it down the back of the sofa?  Who's been sitting on it!  Grr!  Hope the bamboo needles poked them in the butt!  (Sits down to knit, can't find pattern, pattern at work or on bus)  Second Grr!

I know what!  I should rephotograph the chiffon rolled hem for my blog, those last ones were too out of focus.  But I can't really do in-progress shots now that I've finished though can I?  Shall I do another demonstration piece? Mmm.  maybe that's getting a bit carried away...  Maybe I should just start sewing the top, na - that means rethreading the machine...

I should really be making things that I need - like more tops.  Or better still - pyjamas!  My current pair now has a hole, and it is laddering up the leg!  I have all that merino which would be cosy, and I could unpick the lace from my old pj's to sass it up a bit, gee that's going to be a mission - I'll do that another day...

I need dresses - things you can throw on in the morning and head out the door in!  Oh, I really really do need that gorgeous fabric I saw the other day....darned Mastercard....it would be perfect for the Prada dress knock-off....

Or there's always the skirt to match my Anzac Coat - I went to such effort to squeeze it out of those remnants, I should at least make the effort and sew it up.  Oh, and the suede skirt - that will be so cool!  I've had that stuff for years and it will go perfectly with that trim, thank goodness I didn't sell that on Trademe.  Ah, but the pattern is out in the garden shed and it's a bit creepy out there, I think I'll wait until Mr P~S~C gets home for that!  Oh and I better decide on cut-outs or not, what shape, swirls?.....

Oh look - there's the Babette Blanket!  Nope - not in the mood for that today - too many colours - too mind-numbing.  We are talking the morning after my birthday.....

What the heck is that?  Huh?  Mmm? Oh, I remember - the $3 shirt from St Vincent de Paul, there's the sleeves - I must run it in and set those sleeves in again - hey that's quite wearable for right now...starts a pile...
Geez I've got a lot of stash - lets have a look now...............
Thumbs through stash.
Pile gets big.
Pile falls over.
Refolds stash.
Rearranges stash into colours.
Thinks again and rearranges stash into seasons.

Folks - that is my sewing progress for the weekend.
Does anyone else get weighed down by having Too-Many-Projects-On-The-Go-At-Once?
Are you a compulsive finisher, or a compulsive starter?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The $58 Button

Would you ever pay $58 for a button?  Well I just did!  It is a very special button though - a gilt button of the 58th (Rutlandshire) Regiment of Foot.  And what is so special about that, you say?  Well it was the same regiment of the British army my great-great-grandfather joined way back in 1841, so for me it is little bit of treasured family history:

About two weeks ago I googled "58th Regiment button" images for this post, and I came across a recently expired Trademe auction for this button.  I asked the seller to relist - and he did - and I promptly purchased.

It never occurred to me until I was uploading these photos that I had actually paid $58 for a button with '58' on it - I take that as a sign that it was meant to be!
The reverse shows the stamp of the button maker - Jennens & Co, London:

Gilt buttons were reserved for the Officer rank - my Great-great-grandfather probably would have worn a pewter button as he only reached the rank of Sergeant, however the design was the same.  You can see Gibraltar-Egypt-Maida inscribed around the edges which are apparently famous historical battles of the 58th Regiment:

These battles were well before his time, but I think his own story is quite interesting anyway, so I'll share a little with you about my great-great-grandfather Robert, if you care to read.....

Robert signed up to the 58th Regiment in Ireland in 1841 when he was an ~18 year old shoemaker, and spent some time at the regiments' base in Chatham, Kent.  In 1844 he sailed with 30 other men of his regiment as guards on a convict ship from  London to Tasmania.  There were 344 convict men on board, and although conditions were harsh they were much improved from the earlier convict sailings - rations were monitored and a doctor was on board to regulate the convicts health..  Garrison duty involved maintaining the guns, monitoring convicts above board during the day as they aired the bedding and scrubbed the decks, locking them up at night, and keeping general order to prevent any mutinies I suppose!  The sailing took them 13,000 miles around the Cape of Good Hope and 110 days in total were spent at sea.  Half the convicts disembarked at Hobart, and the other half were taken to Sydney, where the regiment hung out for a few months awaiting orders.

I suppose I could have ended up as an Australian if they hadn't been called to New Zealand to help quell the rebels uprising in the Bay of Islands in April 1845.  Robert fought in several of the NZ Wars from 1845 to 1847, rising in rank from Corporal to Sergeant after the infamous battle of Ohaeawai.  This was pre-photography days so the regiment had an artist to record what was happening - this painting is of the battle at Okaihau on 8 May 1845 at 3 o'clock PM - our Robert is in there somewhere...

(from the Auckland War Memorial Museum archives)

They returned to the Bay of Islands, nicknamed 'the Hellhole of the Pacific" due to it's transient whaling population, where the 58th was based during peacetime.  During this time Robert was court-martialled and demoted to Private - oral family history indicates this was for acquiring rum from a visiting whaling ship.  I can't blame him really!

Discharging from the army in 1853, he first worked as a Policeman, then opened his 'first class shoe and bootmaking store' in what is now Lorne Street, Auckland - about 1 block along from where I opened my boutique 140 years later!  In 1854 he married Eliza, a survivor of Ireland's potato famine who had emigrated with her family two years prior, and they had 8 children.  Sadly 3 of them died at an early age - two of diptheria only 17 days apart.

Robert died in 1871 of a lung inflammation aged only 48, leaving Eliza widowed with 5 children, one just a baby.  However the eldest, my great grandfather, was of working age and began working at the newly established NZ Herald.  Eliza died in 1889 after caring for her senile father and raising her children to independence.  She is just one of the women from whom my country is made, and Robert is just one of the men.  And this button is just one of the remnants of their remarkable heritage today.  $58 is a bargain really.

Isn't it amazing how a simple button can hold such stories within?!  Do you have any treasured clothing items from your family's past?  I'd love to hear about them - let the storytime begin!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Finished at Long Last - Latvian Mittens!

I started these mittens two years ago!  I finished the first one and then single-sock-syndrome set in, or should I say mono-mitten-madness?   Whatever - I've spent the last couple of weeks finishing off number two and here are the photos to prove it:

dorsal aspect

palmar aspect  - spot the thumbs?!

The pattern on the thumbs matches the palms nicely from the above view, but underneath I had a few too many stitches:

I'm not sure if this was my mistake or the pattern, but I arranged the gap in the pattern so it was in the least conspicuous position when you have the mitten on:

I suppose I could also have made the thumb smaller, but I thought I had better follow the pattern - this is my first pair of mittens!  I like the clever way the colours are used at the fingertip decreases:

I found the pattern in Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2008, reprinted from the book Latvian Mittens by Lizbeth Upitis.  I want the book!  Knitting mittens is as addictive as knitting socks, and I'd love to knit another pair.  So many projects to do, so little time.....sigh

Friday, May 20, 2011

Finished - Anzac Coat!

I had some time this morning to photograph my newly finished Anzac Coat.  If you followed the Ready-To-Wear Tailoring Sewalong, you'll know this coat inside out - literally!  And if you are sick of the sight of it - I promise this is the last post.  Oh dear, is that a pun?!

I'd like to wear it with boots, but I haven't replaced my old ones yet.  It seems to be flat-or-casual-boots-only season this year.  So I'll have to settle for some sixties style kitten heels for now.  I even tried Casey's awesome tutorial for a 60's casual hairdo that she posted today, but it was a far-flung dream on my hair.  This is what my hair looks like half an hour after some vigorous backcombing - what a waste of time!  

I was tossing up between antique pewter or brass buttons, either would have worked but I chose brass, using 36L for the front and 32L for the epaulettes and back belt.  It looks OK worn unbuttoned too, or maybe a bit studenty?

Taking self-portraits is a great way to have a good laugh at yourself!  The remote release was being a bit temperamental and making me that way too - this is what I look like when I am cross!

The side view and sleeve:

The back view, with the half belt I added to conceal the seam that I inserted so I could cut all the panels I needed from the remnants of cloth!  I will make the belt a bit shorter as the ends knock against my arms when I walk - at the moment the buttons are placed on the princess seam and the belt overlaps it, I might need to line it up with the princess seam.

Overall I am really happy with it and I've already worn it a few times - it's winter here now!

Now - what shall I make next.....
I saw some awesome fabric the other day, and I'm still plotting ideas in my head, so I can have an excuse to buy it!
And what are you planning?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Finished - City Cargoes!

During the RTW Tailoring Sewalong I started suffering from "jacketitis", and the only cure for this is to make something completely random and unplanned, so I whipped up these trousers from stash.  "Whip up" being a bit of a lie, as they had six pockets - two of them requiring unpicking precision stitching!

Plus the fit in the rise and the legs wasn't right on me - I fussed and fiddled forever trying to get them to be as I imagined, all the while thinking: "I am not moving those pockets", until I gave up with a stiff neck from trying to look at my behind in the mirror, and returned to my coat thinking it was far easier!

A couple of weeks passed.....

Until the other day I got stuck in and sorted them out once and for all, and here they go - ta-dah!:

The pattern
The pattern is #131 Trousers from Burdastyle May 2010 - the link is here, and you might recognise them from this magazine picture:

Because the model is walking they look a lot slimmer in the thigh than they actually are - I had to narrow mine considerably to get them to how I envisaged.  I also lowered the back rise and back waistline 1cm to better fit my shape.  The front rise angle is slightly wrong on me too, but I think I can live with it - with the zip and pockets done it is awkward impossible to change!  I taped the waist to prevent it stretching, but even so the front waist might need taking in slightly - which is unheard of for me as I usually have to let the waist out!

The fabric
I used some polyester suiting from stash that is probably a nice quality as far as polyester goes.  For some reason I have a roll of about 15m of this stuff - these trousers used up approximately 1/10th of that, hardly stash-busting!
Burda recommend using poplin for this pattern but my fabric was thicker than that.  I wouldn't want to use anything thicker though as the bellows pockets would get too bulky.  The tabs were turning out a bit thick and difficult to make neat, so I substituted them for some nice grosgrain ribbon and I'm really happy with the texture contrast they provide.  Raiding the stash further I found D-rings in the perfect size, so it was meant to be!

The details
I really like the details on these trousers - the belt loops, the back flaps, and especially the positioning of the cargo pockets - you'd think pockets right on the hips would be real unflattering, but they don't feel like that at all.  Maybe I should have buttonholed the back flaps, that button looks a bit lonely:

The invisible zips at the cuff are a bit of a waste of time as they are, well, invisible.  They're unnecessary for getting the trousers on and off unless you have particularly large shoes, and because the zip pull flops down they serve more as an advertisement for YKK than anything!

(Not that I mind advertising YKK - I recommend their invisible zips highly.  In this post I was surprised to hear so many reports of invisible zips failing, and I have to mention that I have never had this problem with YKK zips - despite making a lot of close fitting garments!
I did have an issue once using another brand - on a style where I ordered only one colour in the other brand because it was a better match - and most of the tops in that colourway were returned by disappointed and embarrassed customers because the zip had failed - I was not happy! All the other colourways were fine - funnily enough, the ones with YKK zips.)

Back to the trousers:  next time I will probably use a fancy zip pull or an exposed zip instead.  And there could be a next time - I love these trousers and they are very 'me'.  They combine a touch of cargo casual with a touch of city chic - hence the moniker City Cargoes!

PS - while I was photographing these out in the garden our resident Tui made a noisy appearance, and I managed to capture him on pixels for you - doesn't he look smart with his feathery bow tie?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

RTW Tailoring Sewalong #16 - Finale and Feedback!

The buttons for my Anzac Coat are probably on a courier between Parnell and Ponsonby as I type!  After a week-long delay due to the instantaneous death of my computer, grr, life is back to normal and soon I will have a finished coat.  I ordered some antique brass military buttons, and should get the buttonholes done at work on Monday, and a finished garment post on Wednesday, which is about a month after Anzac Day, but never mind.....

This button is what my great-great-grandfather would have worn when  he joined the 58th Regiment back in 1841 - wouldn't it be nice to have a whole coat of these?!

There is really nothing left to do in the sewalong other than button and buttonhole our garments - and I'm presuming you know how to do that already - so this brings our RTW Tailoring Sewalong officially to a close!  Once the buttons and buttonholes are done, I recommend taking your jacket to a trusted drycleaner for a professional press - it will add that final finishing touch and is well worth the effort.

When your jacket is finished, be sure to let us know about it - leave a link in the comments or post some pictures in the Flickr group so we can all admire your hard work!  And if you still have questions, it's never too late to ask.

I'd love to hear some feedback - let me know what you thought of the sewalong. Some of you have left some wonderful comments on the last post, but I take criticism too!  What bits and pieces did you think were particularly valuable, and what bits and pieces did you dislike or would do differently?  Fire away!

Have a great sewing day - I'm off to hem some trousers.....

(This post has been rewritten, after the content and comments completely disappeared due to Blogger's recent issues!)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

RTW Tailoring Sewalong #15 - Bagging out the Hem

Just a few more easy steps and my Anzac coat will soon be finished!

Normally I would leave the lining hem free in a coat, but for demonstration purposes I'll show you how to bag it out - that is, where all edges are enclosed.

Your facing at the hem should look something like this - or it may be curved, in which case the lowermost part of the curve will already be stitched:

Either way, the lining edge of the facing overlaps the start of the hem allowance by 2cm.  The lower edge of my facing looks really messy because I cut this coat out of remnants - I'm sure yours will be a lot neater!

Turn the facing so the right sides are together:

And sew across the bottom edge to the point where the lining joins:

Now my method is a bit different to way this corner is normally sewn, I picked it up at an old workplace and have done it that way ever since.  It has a nice smooth finish, as well as being quick and production friendly!
With the needle down, swing the lining so both hem edges match at the next seam:

It looks a bit weird, and there could be a bit of wiggling to make it fit, but it will look fine once it is turned (remember - your pattern matched, so your sewing will too!).  Sew the rest of the hem straight, and sew the other facing the same way, but leave about a 20cm gap for turning later - I left mine open at the CB panel:

At the moment your jacket is completely inside out, with just two openings - the one at the hem, and the one in the sleeve lining.  Before you turn the jacket through, tack up the hem allowances at every seam:

Now turn the coat right side out through the hem opening:

Here's how to close the hem opening by machine - reach into the sleeve that has the lining open, and put your hand through the opening so it is between the lining and sleeve shell, and reach through the armhole right down to the hem:

Grab the hem and pull it back through the path that your hand travelled - pull enough of the hem out through the sleeve lining opening so that you can sew it:

Once you have sewn it, let it fall back through the opening into place.  The next step is to attach the lining and shell underarms together, just like we did in #14:

The final step is to close the sleeve lining.  I usually leave this until everything has a final press just in case I have to go back inside.  In fact, the other day I noticed a jacket in my wardrobe that still hasn't been closed up!

To enclose everything, fold the seam allowances inwards and butt the edges together, then edgestitch the opening closed:

That's it - all the sewing is done - all that is left to do are the buttons and buttonholes!  

I just ordered some antique brass military style buttons on Friday, so hopefully I'll receive them this week - it's coat weather here now and I need my coat!

Happy Sewing!