Cold weather in Sydney & I've been entirely domesticated by it. Lots of sewing and baking, very little studio time. Its ok. Really. There's checks & balances; I'm always bloody working on something, I'm a freak for making, and the itch gets scratched as it were, through a few different yet complimentary activities. These activities are a reflection of whats going on in my home/in my work/in my work-work and in the world at large. Everyone is influenced by stuff going down around them & for me this is demonstrable through creating actual physical things. Thingy things. In other words, I make things and the kinds of things and the nature of makings changes in response to where we're at.
And at the moment, we're at home. Granny style, keeping warm. Sewing and...baking and...yeah, watching way heaps of tv on my laptop with headphones. Mmmmm headphones. Feck off, world, I've got House Of Cards season two to watch. Followed by The Bridge. Then Mad Men. The Good Wife. And I think I'll try Orange is the New Black and The Fall, any good? Any others? Prospect of being without a headphone/laptop/couch configuration is terrifying, please help is there's any others need watching.
So with sewing, it's all about making warm, comfortable, nice new clothes. And I really need to use some stash fabric, my storage facility is scaring me.
So tah dah, I made a Coco dress in black ponte knit. My first Coco! This and the By Hand London Anna dress have to be the most popular dress patterns on the indie market & with good reason, they're very versatile designs. The Anna is still on the to-do list and will be a summer thing I think, but the Coco is a classic and I want one NOW.
I took my time fitting this first one as I know it'll be a staple for me & many more will be made. My Coco is close fitting through the bust & sleeves, with a flippy A-line skirt. I like this dress, it's madly easy to wear.
This flippy-out-ey hem is a silhouette I dont usually go for but it suits the boat style high neckline. Being a knit, with the close fit through the bust, it doesn't feel like it looks like an ordinary shift., y'know? Jolly good pattern, everyone was right about this and I do concur.
So I went right ahead and made another straight away with some LOVELY Missoni from Tessuti. Of course. And this worked out a treat, I love this dress and the combo with matching skirt is so perfect I'll be wearing this as often as I can get away with. Which is lots. The chocolate/grey/taupe//winter-white is just a cracker for mixin & matchin, hallelujah.
Mmmmm booty shot. In the annals of funny poses, this is a personal fave.
Being a natural miser with precious materials, I thriftily used the narrow length of fabric left from cutting out the dress to make a simple pencil skirt. Style Arc's Ursula pattern is really handy for this & next time I plan a venture into leather or neoprene side panels. But here, its a heavy weight black ponte, an offcut from the first dress. Thrifty!
But as can be seen above, although I did match up the chevron pattern on the dress, I was unable to with what fabric remained for the skirt. With the black side panel its maybe a little more ok that stripes don't line up but it still bugs me. A bit. Not enough though, in fact I wore it immediately and for two days running. So actually never mind. In my world, this dress/skirt combo is one of the most comfortable stylish outfits ever made. And its hand made by me Missoni, cant be beaten!
I quite like wearing a longer skirt or slim pant underneath a short dress, so its more of a tunic look. I've always preferred this layering, I'm sure it comes from my childhood in SE Asia where the women wear such modest yet elegant layers. Same goes for jackets and/or cardigans over these. I like to do this, somehow it makes me feel safe, layered up. And that gingerbread didn't eat itself you know, so roomy layered outfits are...useful.
As for baking, I've perfected the perfect gingerbread and its GLORIOUS. Like a slab of panforte, dark, dense and spicy sweet. I'm not an avid foodie so dont expect lots of recipes here but cakes and biscuits are very Granny Corner so today, GINGERBREAD YUM.
Me being a maker, I'm pretty lose 'n easy when it comes to recipes, but this here whack-good-gingerbread is based in the Guardian's recipe, which I customised with palm sugar & allspice. It is SO good.
Back to sewing and I'm thinking, having made several items with Missoni knits, I've worked out - through bitter experience - that two, no three, no four, maybe five, things are critical. And because I'm really nice and on sugar TRIP, (criminal amounts of gear in that afternoon tea) I'm willing to share this sacred knowledge with the internet. So, five things:
- Hand basting. Do this, always. I hand tack stitch before the pattern leaves the cutting table, long stitches around every cut edge, in a contrasting thread colour. Yes, it's time consuming, but the simplicity of cut with the beauty of the fabric is everything. So make it good. This material stretches and ravels like mad, so stop any distortion BEFORE it happens.
- Overlock/serge every edge, all around each piece. Serge over the hand basting or just to the side closest the edge.
- Hand baste every seam together before machine stitching. CRUCIAL!
- Ease off the presser foot pressure. On my basic Janome, this control is located above the presser foot, inside the hinged section. I take it from a 3 (normal sewing pressure) to a 1. This, maybe more than all the hand basting, is VERY IMPORTANT. I don't have a walking foot, nor do I feel I need one. With low presser foot pressure, the fabric layers don't get stretched apart and the fabric can be moved slowly & happily along with no distorting. The hand tacking also insures against same.
- Use liquid fray stopper, dot it all over selvedge edges if using these as a hem/sleeve edge feature. An obvious tip but essential.
- There is no sixth thing. Sew and damn the torpedoes.
But with that done, I had to leave the sewing happy land and do a bit of day-job.
During which day-job, I wuz lookin fine in my new skirt:
And I've been meaning to use this printed ponte knit, a cool purple print fabric is rare find so I made this skirt along the way during the last few weeks. Self drafted from a RTW skirt I already have, it's extremely easy & way comfort-ey. One is a Granny regarding comfort. If it doesn't feel good it won't look good, this much I've figured out. That's a tip for free, right there.
And an occasional look in to the studio. Some stuff going on there. More stuff should be going on there. But this post is a pretty accurate journal of my activities over the last weeks. Sewing and some artyness, business, pleasure and gingerbread. One is resting at the moment. Lord knows these times end before one expects so live it up whilst the living's good etc etc.