Wednesday, 31 August 2016

bodies are stupid - a problem with my foot

I probably wouldn't even mention this here, except it's the foot I use on the sewing machine pedal.

Years ago I had plantar fasciitis after getting a hairline fracture on one of the tiniest bones in my right foot. I had to stop walking (50km a week), using stairs, and even sewing a single seam would flare it up again.  I couldn't get my head around switching to the left foot, though I might try that this time.  Back then, the problem lasted years until I found someone who treated it in away that I have barely had a flicker in the past 8 years.

Unfortunately I've sprained my left ankle 3 times in 5 weeks, and the third time I tripped I couldn't regain my balance so hit the ground. Not only re-injuring my left ankle but upsetting my right achilles tendon, and in turn the pf has flared up again since Sunday.

Thankfully the therapist who treated it last time - and has been overseas for 3 years getting her Masters - has been back in Sydney for a few months and I have an appointment with her next Wednesday.  I'm also seeing a remedial massage therapist today, and hoping it's only a short term problem.

Last time I got around the sewing issue by buying Baby - a 1960s Bernina 730-record - that has a knee lever instead of a foot pedal.  The difference between the 730 and the 730-record is the record was the upscale version with more than a dozen stitches where the 730 was the plain version with straight and zigzag.

Growing up my mother had the foot-pedal version of this Bernina, a green Elna Supamatic with the knee lever control, and a hand crank Singer with a motor added.  After getting antsy from a lack of sewing as therapy (cos I really missed walking to/from work) as well as missing sewing as a hobby/passion I remembered mum's Elna with the knee control and hunted down a (now closed) sewing machine place that had a stack of trade-ins he refurbished and sold.  He didn't have the Supamatic but did have a couple of knee control machines including Baby (above) so I made an appointment to test & buy one.

It's such a great machine to sew with and during the years pf was a problem I also bought back-up-baby (another 730 Record) and mini-Baby below from the original german-migrant owner. It's a Bernina 125 Jubilae.  I also starting eyeballing eBay for a Bernina 530, because maybe this was becoming an addiction.

I might have been a little enthusiastic about the engineering in these vintage machines because I also got an Elna #1 - known as the Grasshopper as it was lighter weight to take to sewing classes & workshops.

Plus a Phoenix APHA - a post WW2 machine similar to the Grasshopper that was made by the Anker, Phoenix and Eagle factories. Sadly I didn't open that parcel in any kind of hurry -  My.Bad as I knew I should have and then discovered the bobbin case was missing.  I've been trying to find a bobbin case ever since.

I was also gutted that during the year after the stockmarket crash when I was profoundly underemployed (12 weeks without work & 7 months of 3 days pw) that a Messerschmidt postwar sewing machine was sold in Melbourne on eBay and I simply had no money.

If I can't get my left foot to adapt to sewing (aka until the treatment has worked) then I'll get the Grasshopper out of the wardrobe and use it at home. Baby is in my storage room and is too heavy to haul up the stairs at the moment.

Monday, 29 August 2016

new collar fabric for the March dress

I met up with a friend at My Hung Fabrics in Hurstville on Sunday morning for fabric then coffee. I was there hoping for lightweight white woven interfacing (yay, got 1 metre) and a couple of dress lengths of cotton or rayon lycra knits for casual summer dresses.

Backstory: I got a couple of dresses in the Boxing Day sale marked down from $89 to $10 and $15 and they're so handy that I need to replace them soon. I'll use view B of Simplicity 1804, but above the ankle.

Back to the March dress and yes this will also sound like a detour. I'd forgotten to take the mermaid fabric with me to get a fabric for the collar/s, and saw a grey/black microdot cotton that I thought would be right. In hindsight the other microdot colour-way was my first gut choice and might have been a better one. I suspect that I overthought it and in natural light the one I grabbed doesn't blend with the mermaids. It's not so bad at night with a flash.

However I tossed it onto my armchair, which also had the March dress bodice and my brain woke up and said "HUH, that's much better suited for my colouring than the solid black and it draws out the speckled background".  So, it's already preshrunk and tonight I can cut out the replacement speckled collar and interfacing.

However it makes me rethink my button choice cos the solid black buttons went with the solid black reveres. hmmmm

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

rethinking my interfacing choice for the March dress

I've had this percolating in my brain for a while now. I interfaced the black revere/facing with black as that's what you'd normally do, and then I realised that the solid black will probably shadow through where it faces the button area (the collar will cover it further up.

I'm considering recutting the collar and facing it with white to reduce that dark show-through. I'm fairly certain that there's plenty of black fabric, as I bought 1metre of it, I just need to find my white interfacing in the stash - actually it's probably not in my sewing storage but upstairs in the piles of fabric I've pulled out now I'm excited about sewing again.

The return of mojo is possibly due to plenty of blue skies as well as my new job & boss being good, and my workload no longer being overwhelming.  Still have insomnia, but I'm now getting a solid 5 hours sleep a night, not the 2, 3 or 4 that I was getting for a few weeks.

Monday, 22 August 2016

March dress progress report

I may have taken sewing more slowly than ever in my life before, but I had made some progress with my March dress also. I was waiting to see if the sleeves fit the strawberry dress before cutting out these sleeves, and I plan to add an appliqued pointed black cuff (except it's not a real cuff) to them to echo the collar.

The darts & seams are done for both bodice and skirt, and the facing/collar just needs the edge overlocked and to be attached. So first I need to change the overlocker threads. UGH. I intend to unpick the side seams and split the single side bust dart into two as it was too large in the strawberry dress but the zip was already in and I'm telling myself that I've seen worse in RTW and I can't see it unless I look in a mirror. (Yes I may go back and fix it, double-plus-ugh.

 I have two types of black buttons in the stash and don't particularly like the black, I like the dotted textured design, as it hints at the dotted background of the print. But they're a bit nothing, other than that. I think white buttons isn't quite right either.

The glitch that niggles, but I know I'll learn to live with it is that when I went to cut it out I suddently realised that the fabric had a single direction print. I was so very careful to make sure to lay all the pieces in one direction, and thought I'd nailed it until sewing the skirt together. First I cut the bodice out, then the skirt side fronts & side backs. They all fitted with the fabric folded in half selvedge to selvedge. The centre front back & front fit with the selvedge folded to the centre of the yardage. What I didn't notice as I picked up & shook the fabric and then carefully made sure that it was centred carefully was that I'd turned the fabric around, so the CF & CB pieces are cut in the wrong direction. I tried to remind myself that we've become more fastidious about pattern matching than the past (look at some museum collections online if you don't believe me) and that the phrase 'cutting your coat to fit your cloth' once had a literal meaning. So no beating myself up about goofing this, though I'm also going to make sure I cut the sleeve out in the correct direction.

If I'd had the fabric for several years and handled it plenty of times without noticing, fingers crossed it's only other sewing people who'll notice when I wear the dress.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Fifties Fair in my February dress

Yesterday I finally finished my February dress ... it's not perfect (bust dart hell!) but it'll do :)  I'd made covered buttons of the strawb print and I should have used the green collar fabric instead, because the card of green buttons that I grabbed months ago on sale as a guestimate at colour matching are what I ended up using. I'd thought the green buttons were a bit too big (20mm wide and my covered buttons were 15mm) however they were the right size and tied the collar in with the fabric, so thank goodness I grabbed them.

I meet my friend Colleen  to catch the shuttle bus from Turramurra Station to the 50s fair that's held every year at a historic house, Rose Seidler House.  It's usually held on the last weekend of August, so usually the same weekend as the costume ball in Adelaide. The previous year that I didn't go to the ball was when my knee was still in the do-not-bend phase after the tumour removal.  So this is the first year I could go to the 50s Fair. Mind you this year I'm not going to the ball anyway so could have gone to both for the first time.  Enough rambling onto photos!  (and apologies for not noticing the collar wasn't laying properly all day!

We didn't join the coffee queue early enough so skipped it when it got longer than my desire for a luxurious 2nd coffee.  Looked at all the pretties on sale in the market area - jewellery, umbrellas, teatowels etc and we forgot to take photos of other people.

The grounds are fairly uneven, and the food wasn't me-safe, the only picnic areas being on the ground for so many people on a non-domestic lawn site.  It's more a hillside native bush environment.  We ended up taking photos with some of the cars on display in the closed off road and catching the bus back to Turramurra for lunch & a great chat.

I'm not sitting on the car but balancing on my left leg (foolishly cos I upset the ankle/foot in my 3rd strain in a month)

and they didn't close the back door on the bus ... and of course we sat at the back seat both trips

I'll use this pattern again with my mermaid print ... and I'm excited to cut that out this week as the August dress and also finish the March dress.

I'm selling the gap between March & August as hibernation due to work stress.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Inspiration by Outlander, through others

My productivity isn't matching my inspiration, so I thought I'd better write the ideas down while I have them as they've been missing almost all year.

I've watched a few episodes of Outlander so far and the 1740s clothes are earlier than my fave decade in the 18th century - the 1780s.

The St Ives medieval fair is in September, and I'm aiming to make something inspired by Outlander though not scottish and more mid range instead of silk or peasant.  Prosperous middle class is my hope.  I definitely have the stash for it.

Years ago I bought some polycotton sheets (despite thinking that blend is an abomination) because I loved the print so much. This was way back in 1989 or 1990, so long before I did more than dream of making & wearing costumes. It's not historically accurate but it's good enough for a costume I'll be wearing in a possibly muddy field and not with a re-enactment group.

If you're not into niches in historical clothing you mightn't realise how mashing up stripes, prints & checks has been around long before, including the 18th century.  Jen of Festive Attyre had created a Pinterest board of them here 18th Century Mixed prints

I love this image from "An album containing 90 fine water color paintings of costumes." Turin : [s.n.] , [ca.1775]. In the collection of the Bunka Fashion College in Japan.

This one also from the same book owned by the Bunka, even though it's less clear if it's working class or middle. I suspect it's not working class - the lower hemline is my clue.

So please don't be shocked that I'm making a petticoat (these days we'd say skirt) from the yellow print at the start of this post, and a caraco (aka jacket as bodice) from this cotton in my stash. Using the JP Ryan's Ladies jackets pattern.

I've a check type neckerchief and a plain white cap to wear over a short wig (any wig is more to cover my own modern hair). I've a 1980s straw hat that I'm altering to be more like this 1750-60 hat in the UK National Trust  collection (at Snowshill, Inventory Number 1349843)

I'll need an apron, and new stays cos I wore out the old ones and possibly bumpad (aka no costume is complete without extra junk in the trunk). I already have chemise, pockets, shoes, and aforementioned neckercheif+cap

Hoping to shop the stash for a zip

I felt a little foolish on Saturday at the shop as I looked for zips for the mermaid dress,  when I found that I very much do NOT like the tape on the new stock of Birch zippers. It felt horrible, and just like mugs or cups or fabric if I don't like touching it then I can't buy it.

I also wanted a darker grey than available , so I was hopeful that my stash has something suitable that isn't invisible. Or as it's a side seam zip, anything dark grey will be better than pale grey.

My tub of zips (top of this trio) is a little ridiculous in size but useful.

Sadly not useful enough in that the only long enough suitably dark gray is an invisible one that I've harvested from a worn out garment (still attached to a scrap of waistband). Next best is a purple slightly too long at 40cm or 16". It looks bluer in the photo than in reality where it almost matches the purple mermaid tail.

If I can't persuade myself to use the purple zip then I'm checking the usual suspects of Spotlight or Lincraft. Failing them, a trip to the asian owned fabric shops in Marrickville or Hurstville seems like a plan. If that doesn't work, then I'm considering ordering one from Zipperstop. It feels a little ridiculous to consider it, but as I know someone with the colour chart at least I know it'll be dark enough.

I've already preshrunk the fabric

Monday, 8 August 2016

major progress for the strawberry print dress

My February dress is so far behind that it has UFO status because I can't really call it a current project when it sat languishing in a corner for so long. I took it to my aussie sewing guild group on Saturday and unlike the day I took 4 hours cutting out the 2 collars and interfacing I got so much done that it was as if I was on fire.

I attached the neck facing & did the understitching - thought I'd better remind myself that as the green fabric for the under collar is a heavier weight than the print, that I used the print on the back of the green collar.

Next attached the skirt to the bodice ... though I started pinning the front to the back before I realised that the bodice wasn't involved and it should be. I got the zip inserted and the hem done. I also had concerns that my pattern alterations to fit the bodice weren't accurately transposed to the finished waist measure for the skirt. They may have been but my mix up over the box pleats meant I lost all my tailors tacks and hadn't marked any changes on the pattern (with the idea that I'd do that once I'd finished). As the skirt-back was 2cm wider than the back-bodice, and the front skirt 1.5cm wider the the front bodice I simply sewed a dart between the side seam and the nearest box pleat. I'm of the theory that at this point I don't need more unpicking of box pleat top stitching and possible marks.

I need to fine tune the side bust dart, and will pin that tonight, as it's too high & a bit pointy. I'll try it with a couple of different bras to ensure that it's in a generally good spot.

I also need to make the covered buttons, and rummaged in my stash to find the packet I remembered having. Yes, it was where it should have been in the smallish box of fastenings (snap, ball+socket, suspenders etc) and has been there since I bought it new at $2.30.  It must be some time, cos there must have been a few price points between $2.30 and the $6+ it is now.  I've fused the scraps for buttons with a lightweight interfacing to reduce show-through of the button moulds.

I gave the plastic backs some firm bashes - because if it's going to shatter in the washing machine I'd rather use a newer kit than this.

Then I need to cut out a mockup of the pattern's sleeve and see if it fits and works for me and my beefy biceps.  I had to add 2cm at the edge of the shoulder (between both front & back) as the pattern draft is more sloped than myself, I know that's the least change needed.

I'm going to be happy wearing it, but I'm considering making a design change when I make it again with the mermaid print. I'm thinking of having more but shallower boxpleats, and not having one at centre front or centre back.  Thanks to PCOS my bowl-shaped belly is more pronounced than I'd like. It may make no difference, but I might as well try it.

Oh, I got thread & buttons for the mermaid print.  The buttons are dark grey with blue & yellow appearing as they tilt. The shop suggested I tip them all out and get ones where blue not yellow dominates. Smart call