Coat Month

So, I decided at the end of August that I needed to get making some coats before the weather turned.  Before it was cold enough to need one and it still wasn’t in a corporeal form…  This is in addition to still having numerous items yet unmade from Daughter No2’s summer list and thinking I might give the Refashioners 2017 challenge a go.  While I’m listing reasons why September is not a good month in which to try to make 3 or 4 coats, I should add that we had a week away in the beginning and still had Daughter No2 home until the middle of the month before she was back to uni.

But I had decided…  So what coats am I making?  I have the Eagle Jacket/Coat from Vanessa Pouzet for Daughter No2, the Goldstream Peacoat for Mr Not Compulsive and I wanted a new coat for myself, exactly which one was only decided after I saw @_ym.sews_ Waffle Patterns Tosti in the most amazing yellow dry oilskin.  I sort of wanted an Eagle jacket for myself too, but after toiling it realised it wasn’t the shape for me.

So, I took patterns with me on holiday and traced them out on the dining table in the holiday apartment in the evenings, helped by a glass or two of wine.  I toiled the Eagle jackets upon our return and Daughter No2 likes hers, the only alteration is to lengthen the sleeve by 2cm.  Mine, as already said will be recut as a different toile!  Now that I have the go-ahead for the Eagle, I hit a stumbling block.  She doesn’t like the fabric from the stash that I picked out.  Press pause on that project then.

After toiling the Goldstream Peacoat for the other half, that project was nixed.  He didn’t like the shape, it was too bulky, didn’t like the large collar or wide lapels either, then decided he didn’t actually fancy a double breasted coat….  So nothing about the Goldstream Peacoat then.  Back to square one, I decided to draft a coat block and put all the “right” ingredients together to form the “perfect” coat.

So in the meantime, it’s now the end of October and still no coats to be seen, but there are a few toiles.  None for me, I haven’t got that far!  But daughter No1 has chosen an pattern and fabric from the stash that I’ve toiled, fitted and adjusted, so that can get going.  Daughter No2 has also chosen a pattern and other fabric from the stash for two new coats, still to be traced, toiled and fitted.  The other half has a block that is undergoing a very slow transformation.  It seams the perfect coat will take a while to be realised.

Say tuned for more of what I’ve been doing while the coat projects hit their respective brick walls.

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Fabric Shopping on Holiday

And a pledge…

Three weeks in South Africa, all over now until the next time.  I just hope it’s not another 5 years!  Now fabric shopping on holiday sounds like a fabulous thing to do, buy up all those pretty things you can’t get at home and grab those things that are cheaper elsewhere because of a decent exchange rate.  I really wanted to go with a fairly empty suitcase, to take full advantage of my situation, but I’d made so many lovely things for my Sew Seasonal Wardrobe that were begging to be allowed into the suitcase that I ended up with just 3 kg to spare!  Oops.

No matter, some stuff taken was to be distributed, so I thought I’d do my bit to help the local economy.  Now I must add that Mr Not-Compulsive tried very hard not to let me within 5km of a fabric store, but in the end he relented.  I was directed to a store/factory shop in Roodeport called Chamdor.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a large fabric store!  It was a warehouse!  Thankfully half was soft-furnishing fabric and half the dressmaking fabric was stuff I wasn’t interested in. There was a lot of fleece (going into winter), lycra and poly-blends.

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Trims of all descriptions and so many zips!
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The central aisle has end to end cutting tables, lined with anything you could want for your sewing project. Fabric stores with shopping trolleys – yes please!!

I saw a girl who was guarding a couple of rolls of border printed viscose & after asking nicely where she’d found them, proceeded to empty the shelves!  There were so many lovely colours and patterns, it was going to be a struggle to decide which couldn’t be left behind.  The price was R56/m, which I worked out to being about £2.25/m.  Man – how could I leave anything behind at that price!?!?

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The viscose I couldn’t leave benhid, I bought 3m of each, just to make sure I had enough!

Then I found the button stands and the trim and the zips and the threads and sewing machine accessories….  £55 later I emerged triumphant, two bags in my hands and a husband who kept saying, “I don’t know where you’re going to put all this.”

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The Three cats logo of Da Gama Textiles Shweshwe

And then I was good, oh so good.  I avoided all other fabric temptations until we got to the Eastern Cape.  Da Gama Textiles is based in that province and they are the sole manufacturer of authentic Shweshwe fabric.  I was going to have some to bring home, come hell or high water.  The factory shop is located outside of East London and boy was there a lot to choose from!  Original indigo sat side by side with teal and turquoise, greens, reds, pinks, oranges and browns.  This was going to be harder than I thought!

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In the end I bought a deep turquoise piece for a dress for Daughter No2, an orange circle print for Del and a striking red design that reminds me of Mid-Century Modern prints for a friend in Chicago.

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Shweshwe fabric from Da Gama Textiles
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This gorgeous blue will be a dress of some sort for daughter no 2

Now some of you know exactly what I have here, and others wondering what on earth Shweshwe is.  I could go into a huge explanation, but there are many sites you can find the information on, Meerkat Shweshwe sell many different ranges online and have a history of the origins of the cloth, Da Gama obviously have their background in the industry, and African Fabric have good information, as well as a huge range of coloured and original indigo Shweshwe for sale online.

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The 3 cats on the reverse of all authentic shweshwe. Beware of copies!

While we were at Da Gama Textiles, we did a bit of bin diving.  Da Gama print more than just Shweshwe.  There are big fabric bins in the factory shop full of test prints, seconds etc that you buy by the kilogram.  We had a little hunt for different pieces of mostly soft furnishing fabrics, and came out with a good selection of bits and pieces that I’ll use to make cushion covers, table runners and other goodies for the summer table outside.  And that was it!  Once we’d distributed all the gifts we’d taken to all our friends and family, there was plenty of room for the fabric purchases.  And 40 vintage patterns….

And now we come to the crunch.  I really don’t need to buy any more fabric this year.  No, seriously, I don’t.  So I made a pledge, and told Mr Not-Compulsive, so I have to stick with it.

Fabric pledge
No more fabric shopping this year!!

Now I have a fabric diet to stick to and things to make…

Welcome 2016, any chance you saw what happened to 2015?

Well, there it is then, a new year.  A fresh twelve months in which to attempt to clear the stash, sort the piles of wobbly fabrics begging to be made and rifle through pages of Burda patterns, PDFs and pattern cutting books.

2015 passed in a bit of a blur for me, it’s wasn’t my most sucessful year!  So here’s to a new beginning, although I am certainly not going to write any resolutions or that sort of stuff.  I find if I make those things too definite, they never get done! (weird I know)

I’d like to start by welcoming followers, new and old to my little world of sewing and fabric buying.  There will be posts (intermittent) and purchases (frequent), and in my head I would have written a dozen blog posts a month – definitely not per week.  So if you can possibly stand the non-regularity with which I run my life, it’ll be good to see you all on the other side.

I am at present looking at a whole stack of things I have made in the last few months, but apart from a little peak on Instagram, haven’t shown anyone.  Not sure whether to correct this by running up a pile of posts or cramming the makes into just a few round-up posts.  I might let you guys decide.

In the meantime, enjoy munching the last few slices of Christmas cake, putting away the remains of the decorations and thinking of gym memberships.  I will start working on actually showing you all what I’ve been making, what I thought of it and whether it’s worth making again!

Happy New Year everyone!

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Wearing handmade to a winter wedding

Planning my Autumn/Winter Sewing

I’ve had fabric on my cutting table since May.  There have been pieces used and pieces added, pieces put back in the cupboard and other pieces brought out or bought in moments of weakness on spotting something gorgeous on Instagram.  Now I have 5 piles, about 25-30cm tall.  There comes a time when just having the piles on the table – out so I can see them and be reminded that I really want (need) to make them up just isn’t doing a good enough job.  I had also gone through a couple of boxes of Burda magazines and tried to be realistic about what patterns I really wanted to make, tried to only look at those that I would like to be wearing this autumn/winter.  Piles of fabric and lists of patterns to trace – that’s only step one!

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One of the sketches with notes and a little pile of fabric swatches.

I was still too far away from getting a solid idea of what I was going to make this season, so I decided to add something new to my arsenal.  Taking small samples of each piece of fabric I really wanted to make up for the winter and my pile of Burdas, I started sketching.  Once that was done I put sketches with fabric pieces and laid them all out.  21 projects covered my bed.  Most are tops or blouses, there are a couple of pairs of trousers – naturally – and a coat & jacket.

21projects - my autumn/winter wardrobe is all here, waiting to be made!
21 projects – my autumn/winter wardrobe is all here, waiting to be made!

How do you plan your sewing? Do you plan at all? I have to say that until this little exercise, I hadn’t really planned anything, just sort of hoped that what was out would eventually get sewn up!  I’ll show you next time how I’m getting on with this new “organised” way of working! 🙂

Sewvember Catch-up

I’ve not exactly been on the ball with this, yes, I’ve taken some photos on my phone & others on my camera, but I’ve failed miserably to post anything in ages!  So for those who’re even remotely interested in my “behind the scenes” sewing, here’s a recap from day 7!

Days 7-11. Insides, Next Project, Signature Style, Inspiration & Early Make
Days 7-11. Insides, Next Project, Signature Style, Inspiration & Early Make

Day 7 was Insides.  At the time I was making a vintage Butterick jacket for Daughter No2 & this shop shows all the interfacing to support the fabric.  Day 8 shows the plaid fabric & potential patterns for the skirt for Daughter no2 (again!).  Day 9 – signature style…  Well, I do like spots.  For the inspiration pic I was a little stuck, until I realised I am more inspired by looking through and patting my fabrics than just about anything else, so my inspiration has to be a bag of fabric just begging to be made up!  Day 10 – my earliest makes are not photographed, at least, not that I know of!  I started sewing at 18, so 24 years later there are few, if no survivors.  But I managed to find this Vogue blouse pattern in my stash, one I made 2-3 times in the early 90s, so it will have to do!

Days 12-16   Favourite Finish, View, UFO, Library & Organisation
Days 12-16 Favourite Finish, View, UFO, Library & Organisation

For day 12’s prompt, favourite finish, I knew exactly what to photograph!  Hong Kong finish on the inside of an unlined vintage jacket, the coolest finish!  Day 13 was a bit less exciting, it’s been dull and cloudy here for days, so the view from my window has been less than inspiring.  Luckily for me, at the moment I have no UFOs apart from the project I’m working on at the moment!  Last week I tackled a few projects I’ve been putting off for ages, so now the only unfinished projects are those I’ve yet to start, all those pieces of fabric lurking in the boxes in my cupboard.  Day 16 brought out the book collectors amongst us!  Here’s my little library of sewing related books.  It’s missing a few, daughter No1 has some in her room at Uni and I’ve loaned a couple out, but these are the core.  Organisation was next – I decided to show you my boxes that live under my sewing desk.  In them are some goodies you’ll see in another photo.  The brown cardboard boxes ont he left contain a good few years worth of BurdaStyle magazines, 2 years to a box, 4 boxes there…  The older ones are in plastic boxes in the loft.

Days 17-20.  Planning, Fun, Fit, Notions
Days 17-20. Planning, Fun, Fit, Notions

On the home stretch!  I really don’t do much planning when it comes to sewing.  I know what I want to make from my fabrics, to a certain extent, so I don’t feel the need to make a sketch detailing the fabric & garment.  My sketches are for my pattern cutting, and if I keep them on my noticeboard, there is a hope I’ll get round to making the pattern in the right season.  I have a little pile of fabrics & patterns on my sewing table, those are the ones I want to make first, but every now and then something will come along & jump the queue.  I’m not all that fussed, it all needs to be made up at  some point!  🙂

Day 18 was to be fun – well, Daughter No1 & I had fun nosing around the charity shops in town, & I found this book detailing the years 1915-1975 in British Vogue for £2.50!  I couldn’t pay for it fast enough!  For Fit on day 19 you get to see my vintage dress form.  I’m not sure how old she is, but she’s adjustable from a 32 bust to a 39, so she’s perfect for testing the fit of the clothes I make for the girls.

Then we have notions, day 20.  It looks like someone’s birthday presents erupted on my table!  These are my boxes of zips, buttons, buckles,elastics, threads, ribbons, braids & bindings.  I haven’t opened the embroidery threads boxes, nor the handbag findings & overlocker threads box.  Sometimes it’s all just too much.

Day 21 - craziest fabric
Day 21 – craziest fabric

You may have guessed by now that I’m not massively into novelty fabrics and mad stuff.  But I do have this.  “This” is a piece of black silk from India, block printed by hand with these cute elephants.  There is a border of elephants with drivers & passengers on the selvage edges and individual ellies alternating with little squares over the rest of the fabric.  A student brought this from India for me about 6 or 7 years ago – or maybe more, I’ve completely lost track.  I love it to bits and every year decide “this is the year I make this up”!  But I have yet to find the perfect garment to make to really take advantage of the print and the border.  One day.

Now I need to get back to some sewing, there’s a pair of trousers missing a waistband and a blouse all cut out & ready to be made up by the end of the weekend!  But first we are off to Buxton on Saturday, one last Uni Open Day for Daughter No2, so Sunday is now officially a Sewing Day.  Have a good one!

Sewvember – A Photo a Day

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Ok, so I’ve done a photo a day challenges before, but none have been focused only on sewing!  I thought it might be fun to play along, everyone else’s photos on twitter & instagram have been pretty interesting.  The idea originated with Amanda of Bimble & Pimble, and while I have put some photos on twitter, I thought I’d do a week’s round up on here.

These last couple of weeks I’ve been rather busy with Daughter No2 making a whole stack of wool poppy brooches.  I mentioned this in my previous post, we decided to make 100 this year as a commemoration but seriously misjudged the time it was going to take!  So my photos for the first week of Sewvember are all about the making of an awful lot of poppy brooches.

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1. Sewing space – machine pushed aside to make room for cutting out masses of poppy petals. 2. Technique – I used topstitching thread & buttonhole stitch to attach the brooch backs to the poppies. 3. Stash – just a small glimpse of the collection of small black buttons, both new & found in local charity shops, used for the centre of the poppies.

Daughter No2 would have been doing this job all on her own, but with the demands of school work & University applications, there was no way she’d have had the time, so I put in a lot of the hours while she was at school.  We were able to sell all 100 poppies with the help of local shops, Ivy Heart and Lucy Walker Flowers, as well as the support of local people.  The most poppies were sold through Ivy Heart & the owner of the business donated an additional Pound for each poppy sold.

4. WIP - poppies in progress.  5.  Tools - the tools needed for the job, small sharp scissors, pins & a strong thimble!  6.  Me - with a tray of completed poppies ready to re-stock the shops.
4. WIP – poppies in progress. 5. Tools – the tools needed for the job, small sharp scissors, pins & a strong thimble! 6. Me – with a tray of completed poppies ready to re-stock the shops.

We are really pleased to be able to donate £400 to the British Legion’s Poppy Appeal and will be doing so in the name of local resident, Thomas Shutter who served in the RAF Mosquito Squadron, and my great uncle, Douglas Simpson MBE, who served in the Royal Scots Engineers in Burma and in Belgium.

Leuitenant Douglas Simpson, Royal Scots
Leuitenant Douglas Simpson, Royal Scots

It has always been important to me to support our troops, both present and past and the Poppy Appeal is a charity close to my heart.  Do you use your sewing skills to support a good cause?

Positivity

Thank you for sending me positive words & vibes last week.  It’s funny how, when a negative thought takes hold (in January for me particularly) it’s really hard to shake it off – despite how many times I think, “snap out of it already!”  I can say I have made progress.  I am now in posession of a third bodice block & toile, and this one actually seems to work in all the right places!  When comparing it to the other two I cannot say it’s hugely different, so what made this work & the others not??  Heaven knows, ’cause I sure don’t!

How many bodice block toiles does a girl need???
How many toiles does a girl need???

Something else that’s looking up is the styling of my Jungle January make.  I have come across The Coletterie’s plan for the Wardrobe Architect earlier in the month & thought it looked interesting.  Quite frankly, this weekend it was downright necessary!  So I’ve signed up, downloaded the questions & done a little soul searching.  Now I’m not going to post my answers here, they aren’t that interesting, but they did make me think & I’ve realised that I was again trying to put myself into a place (clothes) that I didn’t belong.  I also read Tia Dia’s latest post & inspiration hit me like a thunderbolt when seeing her Jungle January outfit! I created a new Pinterest board & trawled thought my other pins looking for stuff I really liked et voila!  I am now back on track.

I have toiled my fashion cut & apart from a couple of alterations am pretty happy with it.  So today I am going to get sewing & hope to have something really “me” when I’m done.  I am really looking forward to having a new top & that leopard print viscose is so soft & drapey..

I leave you with something from artist Lisa Congdon who’s blog & sketch book entries are amazing & another free printable for your sewing space, click here to download it from the original site, & in various colours.

Sewing is Cheaper...Has anyone else decided to use the Wardrobe Architect to re-organise their wardrobe, or sewing for this year?  I have seen posts from Evie & Vikki so far.