Fabric Addict

I’m still searching for my lost sewing mojo (or sew-jo, as I believe it is called), but I don’t seem to have lost my ability to buy fabric! I’ve just recieved the last parcel of fabric bought with my prize vouchers from the Carolyn Pyjama Party competition, so I thought I’d show off my delicious new aquisitions…

My first order was to Miss Matatabi in Japan. I love that shop! I bought the fabric for my first Alder dress there, so I knew there would be plenty there I would want. And shipping is pretty reasonable too, I suppose Japan and NZ aren’t too far apart. In the end, I decided on these two fabrics

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Cotton and Steel Frock Rayon! I love navy blue, I love polka dots (or diamonds, in this case), and I love rayon dresses, so this was an obvious choice. I’m going to try to make a True Bias Southport Dress out of it, it’ll be lovely for summer. I say try, because I only have 1.5 yards of fabric, and the pattern calls for more, but I’ll try to squeeze it out of what I have…

imageI also chose this luscious Japanese brushed cotton double gauze. Its so soft! It feels like flannel, but lighter and more airy. I’m planning on making this into a Deer and Doe Bruyere shirt, sooner rather than later as it’ll be nice to wear this winter! Unfortunately, beeing a double gauze its just plain white on the wrong side, which I hadn’t thought about when I bought it. It’ll be fine, as the Bruyere has a neckline facing, so the white won’t show at the open collar, but it will show when I inevitably roll up the sleeves. Oh well!

Next up is my selection from By Hand London. I was very lucky to get some fabric before they stopped printing it!

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I love this fabric! Its pretty whimsical for me, but I really do like it. Its a bit heavier than I thought, and quite crisp, but I think it’ll soften up after I wash it. I’m going to make this into a Named Florence dress, I think it’ll look awesome with pale pink straps and waistband to match the flamingos. Just the thing for summer cocktail parties!

Next up I put in my order to Tessuti Fabrics in Australia. I lurk on the Tessuti website fairly often, as they stock stunning fabric, but its all pretty expensive (especially with the kiwi/aussie dollar exchange rate). I managed to pick two gorgeous fabrics though!

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This ponte is the only fabric I’ve actually sewn up so far, and it is lovely. Great stretch and recovery, it makes a very comfortable skirt!

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This cotton lawn is called Monet, and I completely adore it. I love Monet’s paintings, and I love the gorgeous paint-like print of this fabric. The colours are no quite what I expected, it looked more turquoise on the site, but I love the actual Paris Green background to the flowers. I think this will become my first BHL Anna dress, though I think I’ll add a gathered skirt to it rather than sew a whole lot of straight seams through the print. I’m really excited about this fabric!

My final order was to the legendary Mood Fabrics in NYC. I took ages to come to a decision, weeks of agonising went into this decision! There was just so much to choose from, it was overwhelming. I can’t imagine how I could cope with trying to shop instore at Mood, I’d probably have a mini meltdown and leave empty handed and overstimulated…

I eventually managed to come to a decision though, and thats when the real trouble started. For some reason the Mood international checkout wouldn’t accept my voucher code, and no one at Mood could get it to work. After three weeks of emailling backwards and forwards, and multiple attempts, they told me they couldn’t do it, I would have to have it sent to an address in the States. Not helpful! Happily my friend said I could have it sent to her parents in Hawaii, and they would send it on, which was very good of them. After that series of frustrations though, I am happy with my decisions, thank god.

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First up is this grey Theory denim for a pair of Ginger jeans. Its a really nice denim, I’m looking forward to sewing with it. Just need to get my muslin started first! The striped fabric is a rayon knit which I particularly like. You know how I feel about stripes! I have no real plan for this one to be honest, I have two yards of it so probably a dress of some sort. I have been admiring the multiple versions of Vogue 1395 which have popped up in my bloglovin’ feed lately, I wonder how it would work in a very drapey and fluid knit..?

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Next up is this awesomely goth silk panel. It reminds me of my teenage years! I thought it would make an excelent shift dress. Something simple to show of those vertebrae… I don’t know when I’ll wear it, but it made me giggle so I thought I’d buy it.

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Finally, this amazing digitally printed scuba. How glorious is this?? I love it so much, its so pretty. Definitely asking to be made into a simple dress! I’d never handled scuba before buying this, the closest I’d seen was proper neoprene. This is much thinner and softer. I originally wondered about making it into a pencil skirt and a top which could be worn together or with other separates, bu I’m not sure I could pull off a two piece set…

So there we go, my beautiful collection of fabrics! Well done for getting through all of my gushing superlatives. It looks like this summer my wardrobe is going to be all dresses. If you have any pattern suggestions for the striped rayon knit or the scuba let me know! Massive thanks to everyone who donated prizes to the pyjama party, I’m feeling very lucky!

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Impulse shopping

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I was “window shopping” online a few nights ago, when I accidentally-on-purpose found myself on the Stitchbird website. Stitchbird sells seriously cute fabric, mostly for quilting (I assume, they sell by the metre but also do fat quarters and such). I saw this cat print Japanese cotton, and thought it was particularly awesome! Then I saw that they only had 2m left in stock, and had a bit of a brain explosion. Only 2m?! Free shipping!! I must buy it all before it is lost to me forever! So I did. Without having any real plans for it. So much for not buying fabric until I’ve used up some of what I already have!

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Stitchbird have a stall at the Wellington Underground market on Saturdays, and I’ve bought fabric for scrub hats from there before, so I knew it would be lovely, mid-weight, good quality cotton, which it is. And they sent it to me all wrapped up in a cute little bundle with a card of swatches, which was nice. It was like getting a present!

I think I’ll make a skirt, possibly a BHL Charlotte, without the frills. I like the idea of such a grown up pencil skirt made up in cat fabric! I’ve seen some awesome versions of the Charlotte recently as well, it seems to be a really well fitted skirt. I probably won’t be making it up for a few months, I have such a backlog of projects! By the time its made, it might almost be skirt weather, can’t wait…

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Rainy day bag

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A few weeks ago (possibly a few months, now that I think about it…)I found this awesome Orla Keely laminated cotton at the Fabric Store, and knew it was destined to become a tote bag! Then I got distracted by other projects, and it languished in the corner of my sewing room until last weekend. Its been really rainy for the past few weeks, and I decided that I was sick of my stuff getting wet through the calico bag I use to lug my stuff to and from work.

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The laminated cotton is quite stiff, and much thicker than what I’m used to sewing with, but my sewing machine battled on and managed pretty well! I thought the 60’s print on the fabric matched my 1960’s sewing machine beautifully as well, very important! After battling with the first seam, I put the table extension on the free arm, which really helped get the fabric through without rippling. I’ve never used the extension before, but maybe I should try it more often! I also used the longest stitch length, and sewed really slowly. Even then, the feed dogs would slip occasionally, and I’d get a run of very short stitches before I pushed the fabric through! This was worse when sewing the hem around the top, the slippery laminated surface of the fabric obviously provided less traction for the feed dogs.

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The pattern placement caused me some trouble, as I really wanted to match the pattern down the side seams! In the end I realised that it just wasn’t going to work, the bag would end up too big or too small if I based it on pattern placement alone! Instead I ended up with matched circles down the sides, which I really like. I also sewed across the bottom corners of the bag, perpendicular to the bottom seam, so that it could sit flat and so that I can cram more into it! I cut a rectangle of the left over fabric the same size as the base and superglued it over the bottom seam, to add some reinforcement (I really do pack my bags to the brim) and to make the bottom seamline water proof in case I put it down in a puddle or something stupid.

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I also used some of the scraps to make myself a cover for my snapper card (Wellington central bus travel card, like an Oyster card but much less useful as it doesn’t work on the trains. I really don’t know why its called a Snapper)
My beloved ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ cover, bought in London two years ago, finally gave up and died! I just cut two rectangles and sewed them together using a reverse french seam (wrong sides together, sew, trim seam right back, flip inside out, sew again). Folding it inside out was a right mission!

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And one last picture, for scale…

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I’m pretty proud of my first bag, even if it was a really simple one! I’m glad its waterproof, and it’ll be a good beach bag when summer comes around. I’m feeling better about sewing my lovely leather now that I’ve tried this, as the laminated cotton is much stiffer and thicker than that!

Professional Attire…

I haven’t been feeling too great this week, I think I have caught the cold that has been doing the rounds at work. This means that I’ve been particularly uninspired to sew as well, all i want to do when I get home is lounge around and read my book. Enter a super simple sewing job that I can do with minimal input from my brain…Scrub hats!

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I work in an operating theatre, so of course I wear scrubs all day and have to have my hair covered. Its a pretty great uniform, as far as work attire goes, scrubs are pretty much just pyjamas (and when you get covered in blood or vomit, you just change them and put them in the laundry for the wonderful laundry staff to deal with! Brilliant!), and scrub hats hide all manner of bad hair days. The hats that we are provided with are just paper disposable ones, but I’ve been making my own fabric ones for a few years now. Partly because they fit better (the paper ones are massive, and I have a little head and not a lot of hair to fill it up), and I like having bright colours and patterns to break up all the blue from the scrubs! They’re also really good to distract kids with.

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I have a very technical pattern for the hats-I draw around a side plate for the top, and then cut a strip of fabric which is then hemmed and pleated around the circle. Then I thread some elastic into a little under half of the back hem, and repeat! I’ve actually made a paper pattern this time, as a few of my new colleagues have commissioned some hats and I feel that I should try to make them the same as the sample one they tried on…

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Trust me, I’m a professional! Honest!

Since this is a bit of a short, boring post, I’ll show off some of the gorgeous new fabric that I’ve bought…

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How amazing is this embossed leather?! I have no idea how to sew with it, its quite soft but much thicker than what I (or my machine) am used to. I had to buy it when I saw it in the Fabric Store though, I love the pale blush/nude colour, and the beautiful art nouveau embossing. I think I’ll make it into a clutch, once I figure out how to sew it…

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My other stellar purchase (also from the Fabric Store, man I love that place!) is this lovely floral swimsuit fabric. I think I’ll make the bandeau version of the Papercut pattern Soma swimsuit, in about six months when its beach weather again! Its absolutely freezing at the moment, definitely not time to be thinking about making a bikini…

Could improve…

“Kirsten could achieve very highly if she only applied herself consistently…”

Did anyone else consistently get that on their school report card? I think I probably got that remark from at least one teacher every year. And to be honest, its something I still struggle with. I’m all detail oriented and obsessive about something, and then I just get lazy toward the end and decide that I can’t be bothered finishing whatever I’m doing to the same standard as the rest of it. I’ve been coming down hard on myself when I’m finishing a sewing project, and I’ve got much better at doing things like under stitching facings and finishing my seams. And it really does make a difference to my finished garment, I’m so annoyed at myself for slacking off on some earlier projects! I may think that it will be fine when I’m rushing to finish something, but generally those skipped steps will mean the difference between the final garment being something I want to wear, and something that gets banished to the bottom of a drawer, never to see the light of day again. These aren’t exactly groundbreaking revelations, but I’m going to be much stricter with myself about doing things properly from now on.

The other thing I want to improve on is the way I take pictures for the blog. Lately, my photos have just been a bit…shit, really. A big part of this is the time of year, its hard to get enough natural light to take nice photos when its so overcast and gloomy outside! There isn’t a lot of daylight at the moment anyway, though today is the shortest day (happy midwinter/midsummer!) so things should start improving soon. Happily, Tilly (from Tilly and the Buttons) posted this excellent and timely information about how to take good photos of your sewing on her blog. So hopefully things will be looking brighter soon, both in my photos and outside! Call these my six month blogging goals (six months! Holy moly!)

…anyway, some photos so that this isn’t a boring all text post!

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The top two pictures are the fabric for my next couple of projects, some beautiful Japanese cotton lawn and some merino (hanging outside in the vain hope that there might be enough warmth in the sun to get it dry after prewashing it…) and the last one is my latest project! More about that on Wednesday. You can also see the lovely earrings that my colleagues gave me on Friday as a leaving gift 🙂

Herding fabric and generally getting organised…

I’ve been meaning to get my sewing space organised since we moved in (three and a half months ago…), and last week I finally got started. My main problem was finding some way to organise my fabric. I don’t have a huge stash, but having it all dumped in a cardboard box in the corner by my sewing machine was less than ideal!

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(guess what I studied as an undergrad!)

First I had a fairly ruthless clear out of any unusable scraps or fabric that I wouldn’t use, then I trimmed any big scraps into a usable shape. Despite the brutal cull, I still had quite a lot of fabric!

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Next I bundled it up into neat rolls, and wrapped a strip of paper around each one to secure it. I had hundreds of Fabric Store brown paper bags lying around, so I used strips of those! Then I made up some labels, so I would remember exactly what I had, if it had been prewashed, and approximately how much fabric there was.

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Then I moved onto organising my ribbons and trims and bindings. My friend Leimomi wraps her (enormous) stash of ribbons and trims around birthday cards, which I think is a really nice idea. I’m always too sentimental to throw cards away, but other than using them for bookmarks I really have no other use for them! Until now, of course…

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That top card was given to me by my wee sister. Such a charmer!

Once I had most of my mess organised, I needed to sort out the space itself…
Before:

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After:

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Not that different, just neater! I commandeered a small set of shelves to keep my newly organised fabrics and trim in, and all of my thread and notions live in the basket at the bottom.

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I keep all of my patterns in the ring-binder on top of the shelves. I think it may be time to get another one, that one is full to bursting! I like keeping the patterns in clear-file pages, as I don’t have to worry about trying to fit all of the pattern pieces back into the envelope, and if I’ve traced the pattern or modified it, I can keep it all in one place. Its also a tidy way to keep all of my PDF patterns!

Wow, this turned into an image heavy post! I’m so glad that everything is organised, hopefully a tidy workspace will lead to tidy sewing…here is one final picture, my beloved, ancient sewing machine.

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(Ok, ancient might be a bit harsh. Its from the early 60’s. It is beloved though!)

Fabric shopping! (Or, Help! I think I have a Problem…)

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Yay! How awesome is this fabric? I’m particularly enamoured with the foxy chiffon, and the wide grey and white lacy stripy knit.

I’ve been seeing everyones posts for Me Made May, and I wish I could join in! Realistically though, I just don’t have enough hand made (cold weather) clothes to join in this year, even if I was only going to wear one handmade item a couple of times a week. So I’m going to spend this month sewing comfy basics that I can put into high rotation in my wardrobe, and hopefully next year I’ll be all set to join in! I’ve got plans for a Grainline Hemlock tee, and also some long sleeved Sewaholic Renfrew tee shirts. I’ve also got some sewing to do for my Mum before she goes on holiday next month, so it won’t be totally selfish sewing (like it usually is!).

Can’t wait to see everyone else’s Me Made May posts!