Sunday, May 25, 2014

the renfrew red velvet dress with no velvet in it.

I've been sewing.  Above are four photos before I took a piece out of the bodice to take away the droop and hemmed it.  One day I might have better photos, but equally, one day may never come.  I was harsh on myself at first, but I suspect I shall come to like it a lot.  The skirt and midriff is from the Cake Patterns Red Velvet and it is beautiful.  I mustn't have concentrated properly, because my scissor pleat isn't exactly central in the front and not exactly symmetrical in the back.  My husband picked this, demonstrating that he was concentrating when I asked him what he thought.  I've made this skirt part of the red velvet pattern twice before and got it perfect without major effort those times.  I speak as someone for whom sewing and perfect almost never meet.
The top is the Renfrew top from Sewaholic, cut at just below the bust. I was looking for a combination which gave me modesty at the top (achieved), set in sleeves (achieved), winter-suitable (achieved) and a lovely fabric (achieved) .  I'd not anticipated the hint of early 1980s primary school teacher pinafore which it has though.
The difficulty of fitting clothes was what led me to sewing, and the difficulty remains.  The more I sew, the more particular I get about fit.  I think that if I'd pursued the Red Velvet top half, making alterations after my muslin last year, I would have had a really lovely dress.  But I wouldn't have had a dress which fitted all of my criteria above, and it is my winter wardrobe which needs augmenting right now, not summer.
So I've decided it's time to sew something straight from the envelope.  I'm a bit over spending hours making pattern alterations and then still not being quite happy with the final result.  Tonight I cut out the fabric to make a Style Arc Issy Top.  The instructions look sure to pose a challenge, with crossing and draping and asymmetrical necklines and hems.  But it was deliciously easy to cut the pattern when it was only three pieces and no fba or other messing.  I would add that the pattern is totally beyond me to add an fba to, so that sorted that aspect out.  The Issy top was a freebie when I ordered a Clara skirt  pattern earlier in the year.  No Clara until I've made a top though, as there are more skirts than tops in my wardrobe.
p.s.  I was thinking about making a dress suitable for a ball, but I have deemed that insane.  The multi-use options for a ball dress in a small wet town like mine are nil.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

New definitions of precious

Tomorrow the marathon begins.  Not running, not that much of a sea-change has been going on at the not-quite-so-messy house.  Just the marathon of working full time with extra work responsibility whilst simultaneously parenting and attempting to fit in sleep and books and rest home visiting and garden and sewing. 

Today I eschewed my plans to go to work and instead cleaned the lounge.  Really cleaned the lounge, including sorting out all my sewing gear.  I found three tape measures, three packets of new bobbins, countless packets of curtain hooks and more packets of sewing machine needles than I was prepared to count.  All bought because I couldn't find the pre-existing packets in the mess.

The finished result is a thing of beauty.  Of course if a camera was charged and I took a photo to share on this blog, you would wonder what all the fuss was about.  A bright yellow room with some old furniture and lots of books and hobby paraphernalia... but you would miss the fact that the sewing machine sits on its old wooden school desk and you can see all the wood around it.  You could miss the snaplock bags and the jars of carefully sorted notions and sewing tools which are stacked on the shelves.  A photograph wouldn't capture the glee of my husband and children that they can actually sit on the rocking chair.

I've put the camera on to charge.  The next step is to see whether it still looks splendiferous tomorrow.

Things I have read lately:
1. Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy Frost and Gail Steketee
2. Underground by Tobias Hill
3. The Last Days of the National Costume by Anne Kennedy
4. Dark Sparring by Selina Tusitala Marsh

Stuff got me moving on clearing clutter.  Turns out I don't qualify as an OCD hoarder in need of professional intervention by a psychologist just right now, but there were some thought processes described in the book which were a little too familiar.

Underground was good.  Not quite as gripping as Hill's What was Promised which I read not long ago, but still worth it.

The Last Days of the National Costume was wonderful.  I'm surprised it hasn't had more publicity.  I guess we were all swooning over The Luminaries when Kennedy's book was released last year.  It deserves a proper review, and the clock is against me on that.  Post-modern theory and sewing and an Irish connection and the blackout in Auckland in 1998 and the most beautiful language.  Ask your library to order it.

Dark Sparring is Marsh's second collection of poetry and I loved it.  Buying it and The Last Days of the National Costume in Auckland made both books more poignant as I read them either up there or on my return, when I was full of the love for the vibrant city, the beauty of which not enough is said.

Things I have bought lately:
1. fabric
2. more fabric
3. gumboots
4. A layby beginning of more boots.  I wanted red.  Proper red.  I'm making do with wine-coloured boots.