Sunday, 18 April 2010
I think we may finally be reaching the end of the longest and most productive sewing jag ever. While there's always more things to make, and always more fabric with which to do the making I have reached the end of my stuff we really need right now list.
Since I last posted I finished D's winter coat - though of course every day since has been delightfully warm so there hasn't been any live modelling. I am very very pleased with this one. A fairly substantial effort since I started out with a kid sized pattern and upscaled it and was under the kind of pressure that one experiences when making something handmade for someone of very particular taste.
Not to mention all the standard risks and pitfalls that come with making a fully lined wool coat with welt pockets using fabric with nap, and using genuine inherited kick arse vintage silk for lining.
There were quite a few diversions and indecisions and moments of panic and uncertainty (the PJs from the last post were in fact a temporary respite designed to boost my confidence when it was lagging).
But finally it was finished and it fits and the man appears to like it (and perhaps feel at last like he gets something from all the craftiness. Though he did also note a general decline in domestic standards during the period. Ahem).
After the coat I made this very quick little dress for Amy, another pattern from Happy Handmade vol 2. Amy is particularly fond of the long sleeve T shirt, leggings and dress combo for winter dressing so when I spied the eyelet wool jersey at Rathdowne Remnants in her current favourite colour I knew straight away what I would do with it.
I was a bit concerned that the wool was very light and soft and the neck and sleeve edges would be difficult to give adequate structure and a nice finish so I decided to do the yokes and sleeves double thickness and do turned bagged hems for both. I am very very pleased with the finish this gave them - both in terms of structure and look.
The jersey was hard to sew being so light and stretchy, so I also did a binding along the bottom hem. This one should see a fair bit of use. The fabric was also surprisingly wide, so there's enough left over from a meter for a wrap or cardi of some kind somewhere down the track.
And lastly a pair of lined jersey pants for Wil. Once a week the lad plays hippy and does dance class - jeans positively not allowed (a blanket rule made by people who don't sew and don't get what really restricts movement in terms of construction and fabric but anyway...). When the cooler weather set in I realised that all the pants Wil had that 'allowed free movement' were not great at keeping him warm so I pulled a couple of stash items out and put them together.
The outer is a quite coarse cotton jersey I've had for yonks that I dyed grey from unbleached natural, the inner is some very soft and light organic cotton/elastine from Tessuti in Tsar colour (thanks Colette!!). I made them a little long to allow for growth and a peak of the brilliant blue inside when the cuff is rolled up.
Of course because they are for Wil they had to feature some wheel action or there would be tears and cussing in the morning when it is time to get dressed. And I put some back pockets on just to make them look a little less like trakky daks.
So now I think everyone has jeans and leggings and comfy pants and long sleeve T shirts and tops and coats and skirts and dressed and hats and PJs and I think that means I can rest up a bit and think about some things for me, some things for fun, some things at leisure.
There's been an awful lot of sewing in the last 16 days and I have enjoyed it immensely. In no small part it has been because I have been meeting real needs (both practical and perhaps emotional with things like Amy's party skirt) and it occurs to me that all this is the reality of my decision to stop buying clothes. With kids so much more than myself, the need for new clothes can sneak up and bear down - last year's (or indeed the year's before) sometimes just absolutely won't do when there's a sudden cold spell and the coat doesn't do up any more or the jeans are now capris. When it comes to my clothes it's so much easier to take the vow to not buy when the alternative is pretty much always simply going on with what I already have - perhaps not exciting, perhaps a little shabby, but undoubtedly good enough. But I have seen first hand that not buying is a real commitment to make the time to provide for children's growing bodies and the changing seasons.
So making it through this first and quite substantial test has been very gratifying. I have sewn at night when I may otherwise have watched TV, while the pasta has been boiling, when the kids were eating wheatbix, I have sewn to the exclusion of other pastimes and (D would say) I have sewn at the expense at least in part of other domestic obligations. But having said that we have not fallen completely to the gutter, I dare say we have eaten less take away than we sometimes do and all this has happened in my monthly teaching week when work commitments are at their peak.
It has also gotten me thinking about getting into some seasonal clothing planning - for the kids as well as me. If I am going to keep pace with our family needs I would do well to anticipate our needs and be working to meet them in a more systematic way. Some much smarter people have probably be doing this all their lives, I definitely think this was a language from my childhood, but getting a proper sense of what is needed on a yearly basis is important not just for ensuring you don't have to spend three weeks solid sewing at the change of seasons, but also avoiding spending all one's sewing time making garments that aren't really needed. Something I am absolutely guilty of!
Lots to be learned, but happily so. But now, I'm off to watch some TV for a pleasant change.