Saturday 23 February 2019

Dressing up part 2

Part 2

The doona cover was cut apart to separate the front and back. I had to cut the seams because they were overlocked. Sometimes they aren't and then the bag can be torn apart very quickly.

Only 1.2m of the length of the doona fabric was needed to cut the Back, Fronts and sleeves of the jacket. That meant there is enough fabric left over to potentially make 2 more jackets!

Back, Front and sides of jacket cut from the doona cover

The pattern I'm using for my jacket is the Wiksten Haori Jacket by Jenny Gordy in the largest size. There has been so much buzz about this jacket for a couple of years and I've seen so many great examples of it that I wanted to try it. I buy PDF patterns from other independent designers because I want to support the industry and sometimes I want to research how others are presenting their product and critique how the instructions are presented. However I've decided to draw an ethical line at publicly rating and writing up my opinions on how good I think the pattern is. My position as a competitor in the industry makes any opinion I express too fraught with the possibility of bias. So I'll just make some very broad observations that its a simple pattern that went together very easily. I chose not to line my version of the jacket. I did slightly alter the pattern by making the sleevehead 10cm wider. The maximum circumference of the bicep allowed for in the original pattern sleeve was 44cm. That was going to be a bit tight for me, especially with another sleeve underneath so I added 10cm to the width.

There is a lovely interview with Jenny Gordy in Seamwork magazine and I must say I was very impressed that she works in one of those huge airy white walled studios where there is not a thread on the floor or a scissor not hanging on its nominated peg on the wall.

Here's a picture of my studio workroom today...

I've cut the Jacket Back, Side Fronts and Sleeves but not the front bands or patch pockets as I want to get the surface created on those main pieces before deciding on the finishing touches of the bands and pockets.

When I make an "art" garment there are several techniques I like to incorporate. For the jacket in this series of blogs I don't want to add too much complexity. My object is to finish this garment in 2 days and not get engrossed in the more labour intensive finishes I often apply. Stenciling is one of the things I love to do the surface and it's quick and easy so I select the most plain of the upholstery brocades on hand to put some paint on.

beginning to stencil

finished piece of stenciled brocade fabric

The piece of stenciled textile will be cut into strips and patches and mixed up with the other fabrics.

I decide to start with appliquing a large, wide strip of tapestry sewed horizontally along the hem of the Back. It was a cotton table runner with a traditional floral design. The ends of the runner were pointed so I cut off an end to square it off. The pointy piece is later sewed on in the middle of the "runner" pointing downwards.

All of the surface embellishment will be sewed to the wrong side of the lining pieces. I'm using a wide 3-step zigzag stitch (commonly used a stretch stitch for lingerie) and sewing the patches close to the raw edges. There will be no turned under hemmed edges, I like to have some fraying.

The next piece appliqued is the square top of a cushion cover. It has been made in India and hand embroidered with shisha mirror. The top is separated from the back of the original cushion cover.

Around the sides of this large central piece I sew wide strips in a sort of crude "log cabin" format. You can see a patch of the stenciled fabric on the lower left side and a long piece along the shoulders.

back of the coat

When the Back was done to the stage shown in the picture above I started on the side fronts. The left front was covered entirely with the length of another table runner. The fringe was left along the bottom edge. On the right side I attached the other end of the table runner with the fringe on it. Above that a big square of the stenciled textile.

side fronts

I started embellishing one of the sleeves. Then it was about 5.30pm so I called it a day and went home. I took the jacket and did some sashiko stitching over various areas while watching TV last night.

1 sleeve almost finished

So this is where I was up to after about 5 hours work. I expect to have the jacket finished tomorrow and will show you how it was completed.

Friday 22 February 2019

dressing up

Hi there everybody. I’ve been working a lot on patterns lately and long periods doing all that tech stuff leave me stir crazy. I'm hanging to be doing some hands on creative stuff. Before coming into the studio this morning I popped into Vinnies (our local thrift shop, from “St Vincent de Paul”) as I do all too often, and collected some more “resources”. Looking at the goodies strewn on the studio worktable I decided to take you on a creative journey with me for the next few days as I make a coat starting from scratch.

For months I’ve been collecting lots of “doona covers” (Australian name for a 2 sided bag that goes over a quilt and gets removed for laundering)and have gotten some really fabulous ones. I’ve already sold 3 of my upcycled transformed versions of these. 

second hand doona cover

I’ve always used 2nd hand sheets and covers for testing my prototype versions of patterns and when collecting these have found some that are just too nice to use for experiments.

Today I’ve busted out one of those covers, as shown in the picture above. I’ll cut the inner lining of the coat from this and still have lots of fabric left over. Unusually this doona has patterned fabric on both sides so the amount of fabric that can be potentially recycled is huge...thats about 5m of 3m wide fabric. More often doonas are found with the pretty fabric on the outside and lighter weight plain fabric on the inside.

The next picture shows a stack of upholstery fabric offcuts I’ve bought from thrift shops in the last 3 months. I picked out the colour coordinated pieces I want to patch together for the coat project.

pieces of vintage upholstery fabric offcuts collected from thrift shops

The next step is to stencil on some of these pieces and in the next blog I’ll show what was done.

Tuesday 19 February 2019

more heat

short sleeve Tyrelle in rayon

3/4 sleeve Tyrelle in stonewash denim

back of 3/4 sleeve Tyrelle

Tyrelle cover page for pattern
The "Tyrelle  Dress" my new PDF pattern has been published and is for sale in my Etsy and Shopify shops.

From my diary today:

4.45am, and I've been up since 2am because the heat is so oppressive I can't sleep. It’s 23 degrees celsius.

The remnants of my dessicated garden are also dry baking in the dark outside the walls of this house. I don't typically suffer from insomnia but disjointed and anxious thoughts keep swirling around my old grey noggin so with the heat adding physical discomfort it hasn't been possible to drift into relaxed sleep. While insomnia is unusual, anxiety is a familiar life long companion. I know theres something I want to say - other than tahdah, heres my latest clothes pattern publication - but the thoughts are roiling around oleaginously and refuse to be captured.

So at 5.30 am I went back to bed and fell into a disturbed slumber. Hubby and I turn the bedside radio on the early morning hours (drowns out the rooster…) and snatches of very scary stuff from news bulletins kept getting blended into my dreams….

At 8am I have to get out of bed…I need to expel pee and imbibe caffeine (god help me the day is coming soon when I’ll get that order mixed up…) It’s 28 degrees Celsius.

Because our town has run out of dam water the water tanker trucks are already lumbering up and down our street. No point in railing about this, Murrurundi is only one of 100s of small rural towns (and some cities) in Australia whose creeks and rivers stopped running a couple of years ago and the free precipitation from the skies has become as rare as an honest politician.

The caffeine (yes, it’s the right colour and smell) is helping collect the discombobulated buzzing in my head. The dread is sinking downwards from the head to settle as a shivery fizzing frothing pain in my belly. Its not a panic attack, but I know I’m afraid.  For half a day I’ve been locked into a deep sense of foreboding, an ululating silent brain scream is resounding around the brainium…there is an environmental collapse happening in my back yard, in my town, in my valley, in this country.  I’m looking into a cataclysm and there’s no way back.

The trigger happened last night as I followed up on a garment that appeared in my Pinterest stream. It took me to a very successful Etsy shop (over 28,000 sales since 2016!) run by some peeps in Byron Bay. I hate BB for its population of would be if they could be hippie/alternative lifestyle pretenders. This shop featured “pixie” style clothing for those young ladies with firm slender bods who want to cultivate their will-o-the wisp boho image. It was a bit depressing realising I’m old enough to have lived through an earlier iteration of this “look” around in the 1980s….the lace up backs and side seams, overlaid layers with shredded edges, etc, etc (the pain is fizzing in my gut, I’m feeling too sick to be bothered hashing up all the particular features of this ”look”)…Read the usual drivel blurb about the business owners living an ethical and environmentally sustainable lifestyle. These ones don’t bother claiming a percentage of their profits goes to supporting the orphans of India/Guatemala/Somalia/insert currently trendy 3rd world needy nation….Its apparent they cannot be sewing all this poxie pixie garb themselves…oh yeah, there it is….we’re in a caring ”partnership” with a family of “artisan sewers” in India and pay them a real living wage. My gut is churning. In the last 5 years I’ve come across quite a few of these shining examples of hogshit at markets and selling on the internet. Their story is a load of virtue signalling claptrap of course. I hate that it makes me feel bitter and angry. To ground myself and remind me that I’m no glowing (heh, glowering?...yes) saint I have to trot out a list of all my own shortcomings, batshit and pretensions. I have no right to judge and criticise others….but that shriek that has been banging on my skull is trying to escape by levering my jaws open…so, filled with disgust at what I experience as a “poor me” sob story I’m letting that silent scream activate my tongue to say what I think shouldn’t be said aloud.

The poxy, pixie pretenders of Byron Bay and their ilk aren’t any more caring and sustainable with the product they are putting into the world than Kmart. Nor is that lady at the market just down from me who was selling beautiful handwoven rugs from Guatemala and had the same 3rd world artisan story. A few marquees further away was a bloke with handmade leather shoes from Mexico, same story, next to him a lady with fabulously hand embroidered blouses from the Phillipines was also virtuously propping up the 3rd world….


Nobody wants to be their own sweatshop slave.

Hear THIS….if they’re not making every item themselves with materials sourced locally then their “ethical, sustainable, fair wage, blahhedy blah….” is a fabrication covering a stinking crock of shit.

10am, its 33 degrees Celsius. My computer desk overlooks the yard where an 18 year old Mountain Ash tree about 6 metres away from the back steps is dying from the drought.

This is the second rant I’ve had on my blog in the last couple of months. More and more days I feel like I’m sliding down the edge of a cataclysm. My outrage at the lying pretenders seems to be so diffuse that on the many days when its over 40 degrees I wonder if its my own inchoate rage that is burning up all existence.

This is dedicated to local lady Lucy. Lucy doesn’t have air conditioning in her house so late last year she half filled a childs paddling pool in her back yard with water so her and her little dog could soak themselves from time to time during the day to keep cool. A neighbour observed this and because the town is on severe water restrictions (3 minute showers, 2 loads of washing a week, no car washing, etc) they reported her to the shire council and an inspector duly turned up at her door to reprimand her. Suggested there could be a $$$ fine if there was another infringement (water tanker thundering down the street as I write this) Obviously she needs to be a whole lot more furtive and do this in the bathtub, in the house, like us more cunning ones do.

As our town dries out the crazy is expanding exponentially.

Finish writing this at 10.15am. Its 33 degrees. Shall I turn on the air con (do you get the irony that this will be powered from the electricity produced from the coal burning power stations about 100km away at Muswellbrook) or shall I have a 3 minute cold shower with the plug in the bath so I can return to splash in the water later on when it gets over 40?