About Me

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A sense of Self

There are other things I want to write about. My me-made-May pledge is one of them, as May is only two days away and I'm not yet sure how to finalize my pledge. I have some finished garments to show, and patterns I would like to discuss, and a few meters of fabric that I purchased and can't wait till I'm able to wear, and a Morris blazer in process. And I'm also going to a conference and would like to share my me-made wardrobe decisions and...

Despite all the sewing-related thoughts I have throughout the day, I haven't stitched a seam in a few days. Life has the tendency to explode on me from time to time, and when it happens it's chaotic and tiring and results in me feeling a great loss, as if I have lost some sense of self.

Graduate school has its ups and downs. Few months ago I was stuck in an endless tunnel of experiments that just don't work. Also during the war the MRI system I work with was down (due to safety reasons) and I lost precious time. I had no energy and no motivation and felt like the entire world was against me (the entire world, with the exception of my partner, best friends, and pHD supervisor - this is actually a large group!). Lately things are looking different. I'm not sure yet whether my results are enough, but I'm feeling a change of pace and also the ability to look back and have different perspective on things.

However when things are chaotic and I don't sew as much as I would have liked I always worry that it always will by like that. That the pace will not slow down, that I will not regain my sewing energy, and that the fabric I love will never be made into a complete garment (rather than the pile of UFOs I currently have).

That fear is taking up more time than the time it takes to finally sew the binding into that last Strathcona or stitch the waistband to my newest Moss skirt, but it still holds me back. Mostly I'm afraid that my sense of self is depended on so many different things, and given that a perfect life balance is not realistic I always have to leave part of me neglected, that part of "me" that belongs to the activity I have no energy for.

Thins change all the time, life is dynamic. Achievements are counted in years and decades, not in the couple of hours it takes to sew a t-thirt. I know all that, and yet when I can't have it all I find myself searching for that sense of self that was left neglected on that lost piece of puzzle.

Is sewing part of your definition of "self"? How do you feel if you don't get to sew for longer than you would have liked? and what will you make once you finally are able to turn the machine back on?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Strathcona by Thread Theory - endless possibilities

Hi all!

I know Matt and Morgan from Thread Theory have a discount on their Strathcona pattern and since I've made this pattern many times I thought I'd share my versions. While this pattern is designed for men, my first make resulted in one of my favorite loose-fitting shirts ever and many versions followed. Some are still in progress, waiting for mojo (=I can't bring myself to cut the welts, as you'll see below) or for a change of thread color on the overlocker. While I've never blogged about these makes, I did try to take some pictures. Some pictures are rather old, and some are selfies in front or our mirror (dirty-mirror selfies used to be legit blog pics a few years ago!), but it will have to do.

Following my first try, I used the only knit fabric in my stash at the time to make this version: 

The fabric was bought to make D a Strathcona but I really wanted to make another version for myself and the only garment he ever asked me to make him is a button down shirt (I'm waiting for a pattern so D is still waiting for a shirt), so I went for it. This version is still un-hemmed but I wear it all the time. I added sleeve bands and narrowed the sleeves, and I like the puffy look of it. I started with size M but changed the shoulders and narrowed both the back and the front, so I have no idea what size it is now. D is wearing his jeans version of the Jedediah pattern, btw.

I also played with the back neckline, tried to lower it considerably but the end result is more of a low boat neck rather than the design I was going for: 

Even though I wanted a lower back neckline I still like the end result because it's low enough to be irregular but high enough so the bra doesn't show. The pictures were taken during a hike we took, so they demonstrate how well this tshirt fits in my wardrobe. 

Following this successful experiment I went on and made another one: 

I tried to avoid unfortunate pattern placement, but got into some trouble when I realized the pattern was completely off grain. It took me a while to identify the problem, it appears that the vertical and horizontal lines don't meet in exactly right angle. As a result I couldn't win this game and ended up with a weird pattern going diagonally. I got used to it after a while, and people don't seem to notice it anyway. Both tshirts are in constant rotation and have the perfect silhouette for dance lessons (I dance flamenco).

At this point the weather started to change and the days became colder (yep... It was 6 months ago). Considering I had only a few winter clothes (have no idea how this happened) I had become an overlocker monster and started sewing knits as if my life depended on it. I went to the textile district with the sole goal of purchasing enough knit fabric to create a  variety of winter clothes so I can lengthen my laundry cycle (my life-goal is 2 weeks, currently at 10 days so I'm getting there!). I wanted to play with the Strathcona and see how it would look in different types of fabric, and also expend the variety of materials with which I work. For the next make I tried a sweater knit in purple, and the result is still one of my favorite garments and is in constant rotation:

Worn here with my moss skirt, a garment I finished ages ago but never written about, and secret pajamas in the form of fleece leggings. Other accessories are a grumpy face and tired eyes, it was cold, early in the morning, and a work-day, so... I'm not giant, btw, our fridge is rather small. I love sleeves in unusual lengths so for this version I used the original sleeve length of the Strathcona, which is super long for my frame. I added cuffs and I like the extra material bunching around my wrists. The cuffs also help in preventing wind from freezing me on my way to work so it's a win!

After yet another successful version I wanted to push it, test if I could hack the pattern and create raglan sleeves. 

The first result of this experiment is this grey sweatshirt (if you look close enough you'll notice I'm wearing it over the purple version, and a red version which was a fail):

When I first tried it on, I felt I was wearing an armor rather than the cuddly grey sweatshirt I was going for and I didn't know if I'll keep it or give it away. After 3 months of constant wear the fabric had softened considerably, and I finally hemmed it. The fabric is a bit strange: it has almost no stretch (except for the mechanical stretch of the knit), and it unravels a bit which is very unusual for a knit fabric. 

To test the raglan again I tried another version with sweater knit:


I used matching ribbing (all the starts aligned and I found matching ribbing!) and matched the pattern across the raglan seams. I wear it and I like it, but not as much as the purple version. in hindsight set-in sleeves could have been a better choice for this fabric. Also I'm freezing in this picture, it was taken during a snow day while I was sewing brocade ultimate trousers and wanted a picture to help me judge the fit. It's a story for another post though.

After experimenting with the raglan variation my verdict is - next time I'll use the Linden pattern. Jen is an alchemist when it comes to everyday clothes and I want to try her raglan pattern!

I did however tried another hack of the Strathcona. Using my raglan variation I wanted to make a bomber jacket. I had a blue version of the grey fabric in my first raglan try and floral neoprene in my stash, both perfect for this experiment. I hacked the raglan some more, and while both version are still in progress I think I'll like the end result:

both versions are worn here with go-to knit pants, a pattern I'll review soon. In order to achieve better fit across the shoulders I added a shoulder dart, and narrowed the front some more. At this point there's barely any resemblance between the current pattern and the original Strathcona, I guess you can call it pattern evolution. 

I'm stuck here, because I can't decide on the welt pockets placement. Additionally I want to draft the pocket bags in such a way they'll be caught in both the zipper seam and the bottom band seam. I still need to draft the facings and decide what to do with the lining. Both versions are stretchy, and I don't want the lining to compromise mobility. I think I'll do a partial lining - only line the body of the jacket and leave the sleeves un-lined. I'll add a pleat at the back to increase mobility. I'm in no rush, though, and don't mind having a few UFO's sitting around waiting for my mojo. I rather take my time than end up with a garment I'm not happy with.

The weather is colder than expected, but my sewing list includes a couple more versions of Strathcona with short sleeves and cuffs once I find fabric I like. I love everything about this pattern and am looking forward to future variations.

Please tell me I'm not alone here with my womenized Strathconas!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Fabric bowls for protecting your favorite pans

Hi all!

I went all out with spring cleaning this year. As in Marie Kondo spring cleaning. It was this huge snow ball, starting with the regular spring routine of going through my fabric scraps, cleaning the closets, unpacking summer clothes etc. And then I ran into her book during an Instagram break and all hell broke loose. Suddenly it hit me - I CAN get rid of all the STUFF I don't like. I don't have to keep it. 

So I started raiding the closets, giving away most of the stuff I don't like just because I don't like it. It took me a few hours to realize most of the items I dislike were never chosen by me. Being the youngest child I always get hand-me-downs: bedding, kitchen stuff, clothes (!), and I have this voice telling me that if I already have something, it must be good enough, why should I replace it?

I agree with this voice most days, but this year I decided some things must be replaced. Starting small, I gave away the two frying pans we have, and replaced them with a good ceramic pan I wanted for the past 5 years.

Our storage solution for pots and pans is something like this:

We use(d) kitchen towels to protect the pans from scratches while they are crammed and stacked in our cupboards. I hate this solution, both because it's messy, and because I really like this owls towel and would like it to be used as a towel, not as a pan protector. So when we got this nice new ceramic pan I thought I could sew a fabric bowl to protect it, instead of this mess.

A short(ish) pinterest search led me to this tutorial from Imagine Fabric, showing how to quickly sew a fabric bowl. I created a "quilt sandwich" with two layers of fabric and cotton batting between them. I used the widest and shortest zigzag stitch for attaching the "petals".

My first go was for our wok, following the instructions as is:

While it undoubtedly looks better than the towel, it felt a bit sloppy and not sturdy enough. So for the next two bowls I free-motion quilted the layers before creating the 3D shape. I additionally bound the edges instead of using a zigzag stitch. I fought the desire to hand-stitch the binding, as with traditional quilting, convincing myself nobody will ever notice the visible stitches. 

The bowels are sturdier and hold their shape well without being too stiff, so it's a win! 

fabric: a present from a friend's mother
batting: 75 ILS for a meter, used about a 1/4m so, around 20 ILS (~5.08$)
thread: 1 spool, 3.8 ILS (~1$)
*I used an entire spool for the 3 bowels - quilting and tight zigzag stitching uses up a lot of thread.
~24 ILS = ~6USD

 Happy spring cleaning everyone!

btw - I know a lot of garment sewers don't do home-dec. I always hesitate before writing about home stuff as I do see myself as primarily a garment-sewer. However I do make everything for the home as well, and I find such projects refreshing and interesting when combined with more traditional garment sewing. I am planning a review on the go-to knit pants view B, a pattern I couldn't find a lot about, so stay tuned! (it will not take me 4 months, promise).