Sunday, 18 April 2010

limping home

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.


kim at allconsuming said...

God I love your kids. Those pictures of them just make me want to run in, scoop them up and cover them with kisses.

And your sewing skills blow me out of the water each and every time.

Tanya said...

I too am a fan of the long sleeved t- shirt, dress and leggings for a cool day! This dress is great as are your other efforts- that coat sounds like a marathon effort. I think wardrobe planning is a great idea.

zofia said...

Such beautiful clothes. You should be happy! I love the colours and the linings make them even more special. Very inspiring. I need to make time to do this also, I certainly have the fabric to do it! ;)

Terri said...

Oh, I am envious of your talent! I love the little wool dress, and those little pants are too cute for words! I'm trying to do the Wardrobe Refashion thing, and it isn't going very well, to be honest. Thank you for the inspiration to climb back on the wagon!

Amy said...

Wow what a beautiful lot of clothes! I love the pop of bright blue on the trousers - I want it on a pair of mine! The coat looks like a mega project too, congrats!

froginthepond said...

Thanks for the peep into your sewing jag. I haven't had the mental clarity to make the time in the last three months but your writing and photos have reminded me that I'll make it back. Most importantly, it reminds my why I'll be back to sewing - for the pleasure of practising my skills, for making things for me and the people I love by taking the time to consider what they need and what they love.

angelasavage said...

Awesome effort, Sooz. Truly gorgeous goods. Would love to catch up sometime soon, Ang xxx

Cass said...

Sooz I absolutely love that dress. I'm definitely taking a trip to Rathdowne Remnants when I'm in Melbourne. I probably need to get that book as well

eeloh said...

I just made my first couple of items from Ottobre, and I have you to thank for putting me onto it!
Love the wool dress and D's coat.
Lt me know if you want to cross down sometime and do a trip to Carmel's.

Di said...

Outstanding work Sooz! I think you're right on the money re planning ahead or anticipating needs in advance so that there isn't a desperate making crush hanging over your every waking moment.

Hard to do though, with kids and unexpected growth spurts, and surprise seasonal weather changes. Perhaps a calendar plan for what each month's making will be focused on might be useful, but then you also need the creative urge to align.

My "project to do list" has been useful, in helping me to prioritise, and to remember things that I was thinking of making. But ultimately I find an unavoidable deadline or desperate need is more likely to kick me into action.

Bianca Jae Makes Stuff said...

So excited to see hubby's jacket is finished. Hopefully it cools down fast and we can have a wee fashion parade lol!

You commitment and talent is a amazing and inspiring xox