Monday, 9 June 2008


Many years, decades even, of fabric buying, collecting and hoarding has taught me a thing or two.

It has taught me to take what you can when you can, for this opportunity may not come your way again. From original screen prints in limited runs to op shops finds and bequests from de-stashers - an offer of good fabric cannot, should not be refused.

I know there are some problems with this. Space for one. Organising systems and relocation problems. Choosing quantities is a total pain if you don't yet know what a piece of fabric will become (an evening purse? doll clothes? an overcoat?). Colourway choices can reduce me to a blithering idiot.

But what I know for sure is that if I set out to buy a particular kind of fabric for a particular purpose I am almost guaranteed to be unable to find it, and to waste a whole sewing day looking to boot. This is tantamount to inviting the sewing mozz to come stay. Frustration in extremis.

I just love that when the mood and opportunity come together I can make pretty much anything without needing to go shopping first. Like today. Two kid free hours and the centre piece of my birthday outfit was all but done. It features a selection of silk fabrics, one I inherited from D's grandmother that must be older than me, scraps from vintage kimonos, pieces of Thai silk I bought back from Chiang Mai and left over silk lining from two previous outfits.

Aside from being perpetually prepared for any sewing whim, my other great lesson has been to cut with abandon. I won't kid you that this one is always easy, but bitter experience has taught me that no piece of fabric is too special to be used. You need to strike when the iron is ready to burn.

How do I know this? Many a piece has been coveted by me only to end up being given away when I no longer care for it. There have been premeditated purchases I have lusted after and spent considerable dollars on. Fabric I loved so fiercely that I kept it for just the right project on a day when I was feeling supremely confident.

The Project That Never Came.

And then a few years later as I am digging for treasure I find it and somehow it just isn't special any more. Its moment has passed and I never got to enjoy the use of it. How wrong is that?

So the other piece of fabric I used today was the bundle of denim and stainless steel my fashion icon (man, can she sew!) procured for me just a few weeks ago. I love this stuff so much I never even put it into the stash. It's been sitting on my desk screaming out to be used ever since I got it.

I was so scared I might let the moment slip with this fabric that I pushed away my initial plans for it because I knew I just wasn't going to have the time and space to get that project done. Instead I opted for an entirely achievable and no less pleasing project. In fact this garment makes excellent use of the fabric's drape and hold. I'm planning on wearing it for a very special occasion, but I know it will get plenty of use after that too.

Thank you so very much Kirsten! I love it!!

The basic structure of the skirt is from Ottobre magazine, though I altered it heavily and the embellishments are of my own devising (with advice and opinions from Amy and D). Some of my alterations were brought about by needing to make it smaller (such a lovely chore for me), but now that I know what size I am in their scheme* I won't be making that mistake again. I am sure I will be whipping up a few more of these now that I have the fittings down pat.

I am eyeing off some top patterns too for the luscious piece of merino tencel I bought (also hasn't made it as far as the stash), with perhaps a few embellishments from the knit stash box. I can't quite see how I'll fit that in between now and the party, but never say never.

*Does it happen to everyone else too that they take their measurements for a commercial pattern, find out they are a MUCH bigger size than they are in shop made clothes and then make the clothes only to find they are too big? I have been sewing for a long time and it drives me nuts the way I always get sucked into making this mistake.


Michelle said...

The skirt is absolutely stunning. I love it! I've always been a fan of embroidered and appliqued skirts, but have never been game to make one of my own.

As for the sizing, yes, it drives me nuts. I'm a plus size and follow all the sizing to a tee. But sometimes their "finished sizing" doesn't equate to the recommended body measurements. It's enough to make me want to do a pattern drafting course.

lucy tartan said...

where did that fabric come from? It's fantastic.

The pattern oversizing is horrible. I find it's worst with patterns that have set-in sleeves, so now I try to use kimono sleeves or sleeveless wherever possible.

Bex said...

When I did my learn-to-sew course at RMIT, the first thing they did was teach us to modify patterns to ourselves. For a number of lessons. And then again, at the start of every new pattern. For some reason, there's some logic involved in resizing that just won't fit in the tiny spaces left in my brain. But it's a general understanding in professional clothes-maker circles that standard sizes don't match pattern sizes, it seems.

And your skirt - beautiful. Such a simple and effective design.

sooz said...

When I did pattern drafting I certainly learned about altering patterns, and why a 'standard' size and shape fits no one. Especially things like set in sleeves. But the skirt I made was too big in every dimension. A lot too big. I think the amount of ease added to the foundation body size varies a lot between companies and is perhaps overall a lot more than i generally need. Which seems odd to me but the only logical explanation I can think of.

Ali said...

That skirt is amazing. Just amazing. You make me want to run to my machine and make magic out of all the manky fabric I am holding onto. But somehow I doubt it would turn out anywhere near as beautiful.

Carson said...

Talk about covetous greed! I feel if I don't get my hands on at least a tiny scrap of this denim I may go mad

littlesnoring said...

I think it is a funny human thing that we love love love something so much that we must never use it, and then, poof the magic goes and it becomes mortal again... what is that!

Rachael said...

omg, it simply gorgeous! truely.

Sizing issues suck. I'd love to so a pattern draftign course for the same reasons.

SadieandLance said...

Great job on the skirt it looks fabulous. And yep on the small number of items of clothing I've made they always end up larger. It is very annoying.

kirsten said...

thank you for your truly generous and kind comments. i am humbled!
and your skirt is superb. love the top stitching details, especially.
can fully relate to the "too precious to cut" category. a cupboard full of such loveliness just aching to be used and almost past its use by date. one of the bonus to blogging is to actually get in and use it rather than save it up for the "perfect" thing.
glad the fabric has been useful and it looks stunning.
must get my next skirt cut, too. :)

Kirsty said...

Your skirt looks wonderful. I love that you've used so many gorgeous fabrics from your stash.

Elizabeth said...

That's a beautiful skirt. And a happy birthday ( what's left of it in this part of the world ) to you! ( Just noticed the cake by your avatar on Ravelry. )

Melissa Goodsell said...

The skirt is really gorgeous...I love seeing splashes of red with denim, so beautiful.
Thanks for linking me in your side bar. I found your blog this morning because somebody had hopped over to my blog from here - I'll add you in my sidebar too :)

Also - the biggest coincidence (which is why I had to leave a comment lol) because yesterday I sewed up Arno cat from the Softies book and I've realised that's your pattern! I also have Mibala cut out ready to go. I'll post a photo on my blog tomorrow :)

Fabiola Perez-Sitko said...

happens to me all the time..annoying!

sexy said...