Monday, September 1, 2014

the travelling yellow skirt freak show

Y'ello!  Calling all sunbeamers  :D
I am taking part in the Travelling Yellow Skirt Freak Show!  the brainchild of Melanie aka Miz Bagg at Bag and a Beret; and you can read the story behind the yellow skirt and its journey around the globe here; as well as find out how to sign up to join in the fun.  
Your mission, should you choose to accept it ... *dun! dun! dundundun! dun!* 

I'm a tiny bit embarrassed at my unexciting styling of the skirt particularly when you check out how cool everyone else has done it!  But I'm being true to myself: "pared back" is my thing and when it came down to how I would choose to wear it with no influence or comparing myself to others who have gone before me; then a basic white tee, on a beach, the Indian Ocean lapping at my heels, IS pretty much Me in a nutshell.   The skirt is statement enough!
And I'm in my happy place, this particular beach is my very favourite beach of them all  :)
Like everyone else I've added my own discreet little "I woz 'ere" ...

So, I am wearing another new thing here, actually there are two! other new things here made by me recently; the ivory Tshirt is view A of Vogue 8879 made in a soft cotton jersey from Spotlight.  Pattern notes: the sleeves are cut on, making it a bit of a fabric hog.  I might not make it again, or if I do I'll probably modify it to have set-in sleeves, just like any old plain boring tee...  o dear, another example of my boring-ness.
Oh, the second new thing: well, underneath the skirt I am wearing some new jeans, because it was only about 16C on the beach when I took these photos.  Brrr! too cold for just a skirt!  I'll blog about those soon.
Later dudes!

Tshirt; Vogue 8879, ivory cotton jersey

Saturday, August 30, 2014

olive faux suede top

I've made a new top  :)
Yoshimi and I saw this very realistic faux suede while out shopping together in Tokyo last January and we both bought some to make tops.  Yoshimi made her lovely pale pink top quite quickly.  And now I've finally made mine too; at last!  I'm embarrassed to be so slow!
I used Burda magazine 10/2009, pattern 121, a rather plain and unassuming little pattern that caught my eye from the first; a nothing-to-it kind of a pattern really but with an understated, relaxed, almost sporty chic that is quietly modern and urban.  And sometimes very plain and basic is the best choice, especially when you just want the fabric to speak for itself.  
And obviously, the fabric is everything in this bare-bones design!  I trialled this same pattern recently to make my flannelette PJ top, which is comfy but about as un-chic as you can get!  but hey, flannelette.  This suede is only about a thousand times classier.  When your fabric is really beautiful it's hard to go wrong I reckon, so I was pretty sure it would turn out ok.  
And fortunately, I think it did  :)
The pattern is designed for real suede or leather, so it's quite roomy and easy-fitting to suit a heavier and inflexible fabric like that.  Thus why it works so beautifully as a PJ top, natch.  It has a long centre front split, so you can just slip it over your head, and splits at the bottom edge of each side seam. I sewed it up like I would fabric, not suede except; I left the cut edges of the sleeve and lower hem edges and the neckline edges clean-cut and unfinished, like suede; since my fabric is quite stable and doesn't fray.
I'm very happy with it and think it looks quite nice with my bootleg jeans!  And I still have a little bit leftover, maybe enough for a skirt.  But what should it be like, hmmm.  I'm thinking something asymmetric and off-kilter, with a random feel to it.  Possibly with some hardware.  But too crazy, maybe?  Something to ponder for a while  :)

Top; Burdastyle magazine 10/2009-121, olive/grey suedette
Jeans, Burda 7863, burnt brown bengaline, details here
Socks, knitted by me, details here
Shoes; Francesco Morichetti, from Zomp shoes

Friday, August 22, 2014

Denim slides!

I've made some shoes!!!  This is my first foray into "proper" footwear.  Yeah, I made slippers recently, but I'm not counting those.  And technically these are slides, which are pretty basic things on the shoe scale, really.
But still.  They are real shoes!  Wooooooooooooooo!
ok, I'm sorry, calming down now.  I'm just a bit excited about them  :)
So, for ages I've dreamt longingly about having a go at making my own shoes.  However cool stuff like shoe-making courses are just not on offer here in Perth.  Well that's just that and it can't be helped, but life is too short to not do stuff that you really want to do, right? so I just decided to GO FOR IT!  havva go, just DO it, whatever, even without a teacher or the tools or even the faintest idea of what I was doing.
The choice of denim; well every time, and I mean every time my friend J and I go out on girly shopping trips, as we head into our favourite shoe stores I say for the eleventy-billionth time; "ooh, I really would like a pair of denim- or denim-coloured shoes."  I've often though they would be sooooo useful and would go with a lot of my wardrobe.  I mean, we all know denim jeans go with everything, right?  So, it stands to reason, denim shoes should go with everything too.  And; quick aside; honestly, why has that thought not occurred to shoe-makers yet?  Because so far my search for denim-y shoes has been one big, long, mournful FAIL.  It's sad, but they are a non-existent beast.  Or should that be a pair of non-existent beasts, maybe?  I still wanted them though.  
And now I have some!
Now; before I introduce my procedure for making these, obviously I am no expert and I have no idea what I'm doing.  I'm making it up as I go along with educated guesses, and I don't have the proper equipment, like lasts or an industrial sewing machine.  I'm sure shoe-making experts would look at my efforts here and roll about, laughing helplessly at how awful they are.  It's true, they are far from perfect.  Hopefully I can improve!
For the bases I used two balsa wood blocks from Bunnings; chosen mainly because I spotted them and it seemed like a good idea at the time.  I drew a template of each of my feet, overlaid/combined them to draw a single "master" template.  I used a coping saw to cut out the main chunks and get the right shape; and then three sheets of sandpaper to smooth and contour, ranging from super rough to light.  I used the roughest sandpaper to do most of the contouring for my foot pads and heel pads to sit in the base nice and snug and comfortable.
Shaping/contouring the wooden bases to be equal-sized and -shaped mirror images to each other and to fit my feet was the MOST time consuming part of the whole thing.  Really, ten progress photos slotted in here would be a fair and accurate representation of this step rather than just one; but that would be extremely boring, so...
I used an pair of old jeans for the denim.
I cut long strips for the side coverings, and topstitched the ends down using orange thread, to match the orange thread usually used in jeans topstitching.  Glued it in place using PVA exterior wood glue.  I chose this glue because it was not too quick-drying therefore easy to work with, and yet is still super hardwearing and durable and dries to a hard, water-resistant finish.  Not waterproof, mind you.  NOT that I'm planning to wear my shoes to slosh about in puddles or anything like that, aiyiyi perish the thought!
Clipped the curves etc, to minimise overlapping, so the edges would lie as flat as possible; and glued them down, upper and under.
Made a template for the top bits via the auditioning of a thousand "muslins"; well, not really, but it felt like it.  The winning design was cut so as to make a feature of the existing jeans' side seam with the allowances double top-stitched down in that distinctive shade of Levi's orange.  The tops are double layered; lined with plain denim, sewn right sides together then turned out and under-stitched.  The excess at the sides was trimmed to wrap right around underneath my foot then glued in place.
I made a padded insert by trimming a purchased foam shoe insert from Coles to fit, then stitching to a piece of denim around the edge using orange thread.  The ends were clipped, turned under and everything glued in place. 
I covered the curved part of the sole with denim...
Finally, I cut thick rubber floor matting (Bunnings) to fit the soles using a stanley knife, and glued this in place.  This will be quite hard-wearing and will stand up to a lot of knocks, hopefully.
Making these was an interesting experiment, and a learning exercise in how not to do a few things.  Yes, a second pair of shoes is in the pipeline already.  My second pair will definitely be better, I think.  My first mistake; balsa wood does not hold nails, thus the need for lots of glue.  I'm definitely going for harder wood and nails in the future.
The big question for me is: am I going to dare to actually wear my shoes? outdoors? like, for a full day?  well today I almost did since I was meeting my same friend J for lunch, and I thought they went really nicely with my outfit... but then I chickened out!  Too many puddles around from the recent rain :S  
Maybe I'll just keep them exclusively for me-made May, haha!  ;)   
No, of course I'll wear them, but it's going to be hard to avoid babying them.  I'm ridiculously pleased with them.  Well so far, until I can make something better anyway!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dusting slippers

I've made something useful; slippers, that clean!
I pinned these mopping slippers a while ago, and have now got around to making my own.  See, we have no carpets in our house and lots of animals; meaning furry dust-bunnies appear on a daily basis to scurry and swirl across the floor like mini tumbleweeds across the desert.  Meaning I'm forever getting out my big floor dusting mop thing out from where it lives in the cupboard under the stairs and doing the sweep of the house.  Which is a chore.  Well, now I can do the same job just by performing graceful balletic sweeps with my dainty pointed toes into the corners of the room, as I glide about the house, doing whatever I'm already doing, without having to go and fetch the duster.  Hands-free.
Which is not a chore, but fun!
Well, that's the theory, anyhow  :) 
Making them is a very simple procedure...
I bought a couple of  dusting pad refills; and also used some extra odds and sods from around the place; a thick cleaning sponge for padding so they are comfortable to walk around in on our hard floors, and an old towel for the straps and lining.  I also used a bit of an old bedsheet to "interface", if you will; effectively it's there to stabilise and hold all the lining and padding bits together.   The sponge I used for padding is actually a bit smaller than my feet but it still does provide a nice soft comfy padding when I'm walking around on them.  I already had these in my cleaning cupboard, which was lucky!  The sponge is very thick, so I cut it into three layers like you would a sponge cake. 
I drew a template of my foot and cut out two generously sized versions out of the towelling and bedsheet lining, sandwiched a piece of the sponge between them and sewed the three layers together around the edge of the sponge.  
Then cut the foot straps from the edges of the towelling, making use of the existing selvedge on one side and hemming the other edge.  Fitted it to my foot dimensions, making them nice and snug so they stay on my feet ok; but not so tight that I can't slip my foot in easily in one go.
Finally cut the micro fibre dusting pad with a big fold over allowance all around the edges, and simply folded the edges over as I went along, top-stitching it down around the edge.
Dust bunnies; begone!

Friday, August 15, 2014

an Icelandic hoodie for Tim

*another week of furious knitting later*  and I've made an Icelandic hoodie for Tim, my birthday present to him.   He chose the Grein design on p108 of Knitting with Icelandic Wool, the knitting book I bought while in Iceland, but wanted it to be a zip-up hoodie.  
I guess I should have seen that coming;  a hoodie is far more his thing, and since obviously you want them to want to wear it, I complied.  It's not hard to convert the jumper to a hoodie, but it's a little bit more work and takes about one extra ball.  The hoodie is still knitted in one piece like Sam's jumper with two short grafted seams underneath each armhole.  However, instead of knitting in the round I just split the front in two, continued knitting on for the hood, and afterwards neatened up the opening front edges with one row of single crochet. Finally I sewed in an open ended zip (Spotlight) by machine.  Which means yes, unlike Sam's jumper which was mostly a blissfully heavenly affair of mindless non-stop knitting, in this case I had to turn around and do purl rows as well.  Not quite as quick and mindless as knitting in the round, something I find to be an enjoyably zen-like meditative exercise.  I had to actually think about it, harrumph...
The book doesn't have any adult sized hoodies that I could use the pattern for - and can I just say, what were they thinking?! - so in consultation with Craig's Icelandic hoodie that we bought over there I knitted Tim's the following way:

After finishing the yoke pattern and before knitting the neck hole ribbing, you have 72 st on the needle and wrong side facing...
change to 4.5mm needle, P one row, inc 1 st in centre of row (73 st)
(K1 P1) repeat until last st, K1
(P1 K1) repeat until last st, P1
rep last 2 rows once (4 rows of ribbing)
change to 6mm needle;
(P1 K1) twice, P1, K to last 5 st, (P1 K1) twice, P1
(P1 K1) twice, P1, P to last 5 st, (P1 K1) twice, P1
rep last 2 rows until work measures 35cm from last rib row
divide row in half, fold halves wrong sides together, and graft stitches together.
This gives you a plain stocking stitch hood with a wide moss stitch border.
I used Alafoss Lopi, in the colours, from left:
indigo (9959), light indigo (9958), light denim heather (0008), ecru heather (9972) and black heather (0005).   
Actually, using that ecru heather, a leftover from Sam's jumper, was a punt.  The white-ish parts of this jumper were supposed to be ash heather, a pale grey,  however I ended up having to use most of the that ball for Sam's jumper.  And since I ended up with more of the ecru heather leftover than I did of the ash heather, I used that, hoping that there might be enough to do the pattern in this jumper.  The gods were smiling upon me, because there was, just enough!
Funny barely amusing story; the night I was getting close to the end of the ecru heather strip I stayed up til, like 12.30 or 1am or something crazy like that, knitting like a mad thing, because I just could not stand the suspense; would I have enough of the ecru heather, or would I not??  I HAD to know!!
The relief when I did was, er, palpable.
Yeah, my life is filled with gripping moments like that  ;)
And now, well!    I only finished the hoodie today and I'm actually dying to leap straight into a new knitting project, like, right now! start a rather special new design that I came across recently.
But my wrists are aching.   :(
Maybe a little break is in order .

Sunday, August 10, 2014

burnt brown bootlegs

I've made some jeans/pants/jeggings type of things... hmmm, I'm still not sure what to call these!  
My oldest jeans, my olive/greys, are holding up so well, the best out of all my jeans! and I think it's due to the fabric.  They are made of a very stretchy and thin synthetic bengaline stuff from Fabulous Fabrics, and I've been keeping a look out for fabric like this in colours that would fit in with my wardrobe.  Last week at Spotlight I got lucky at last.  It's not identical to the olive/grey fabric, but pretty darn close; and the colour!  Dark mustard, burnt toffee, desert, tobacco, dirt, tawny brown, however you'd describe it; it's perfect for me.  I also bought some of the same fabric in a very pale coffee colour, so if I get enthusiastic I'll make that up soon too.
I used my old favourite Burda 7863.  This is my eighth? version of this pattern I think... man I'm so boring.   Oh well, at least I know it works!
Pattern alterations; a sway back adjustment, rtw jeans order of construction and a zip placket, all these modifications described here.  and a couple of decorative part-circles top-stitched onto each pocket,using a dinner plate and tailor's chalk to mark.  The designs are mirror image of each other on the two butt pockets.
This fabric has the stretch going parallel to the selvedge; so you have to remember to lay your pieces crosswise to the grain.  And note to self, lay the waistband with the length crosswise too! otherwise you will have to rip it off and cut a new one.  And replace it.  Grrr.

Jeans; Burda 7863, burnt brown bengaline, my review of this pattern here
Blouse; Burdastyle magazine 10-2010/102, ivory brushed cotton, details and my review of this pattern here
Socks; knitted by me, here
Shoes, Francesco Morichetti, from Zomp shoes

Thursday, August 7, 2014

an Icelandic jumper for Sam

This is my first project from Knitting with Icelandic Wool, a knitting book I bought as a souvenir from Iceland on our recent trip away.  The jumper is my birthday present to Sam  and it's um, only two months late... yikes! but here's the thing... while we were travelling in Iceland and I was admiring all the gorgeous Icelandic jumpers on everyone there, I hit upon the bright idea of knitting one for each of my boys for their birthdays.  And so it seemed only fair to let them choose the style and the colours that they wanted.  And I thought at first that I would use Australian merino.  I'm very loyal to Australian wool, you see  :) so I took quite a bit of time searching for something of a suitable gauge here but sadly I actually couldn't find anything.  So decided I would go completely authentically Icelandic and use Alafoss Lopi.  And so of course I had to order the wool from Iceland, and then wait for it to arrive and then knit the thing... so two months late is not too bad all these things considered!  I've been knitting like an absolute maniac since the wool arrived! I started it last Wednesday, and finished it exactly a week later, which is not too bad if I say so myself!  and fortunately Sam doesn't mind that it's a bit late.  We still have a few months of cold weather ahead so he can wear it for a bit longer this year.  And there's next year too.  I'm hoping it will be lifelong classic for him :)
 Sam chose the Alafoss jumper on p38 of the book, incidentally also featured at top left on the cover of the book, above.  According to the blurb the colour pattern on the yoke is the first ever pattern published by the Alafoss wool factory in the 1960's.  
The colours I used are, from left:  ash heather (0054), ecru heather (9972), grey heather (0057), dark grey heather (0058) and black heather (0005).  I changed the design just a little bit on the strip second from the top but otherwise stuck exactly to the pattern.  The design is knitted in the fair isle style, and completely in the round with no joining seams, aside from two short grafting rows under the arms.  Grafted seams really do look so much nicer than sewn seams imo, so I think that's a nice feature.  
I do have one, well I have to say it's a fairly major gripe wrt the pattern; for Sam's size S the pattern stipulated 5 balls of the main colour.  Well, it's extremely fortunate that I had bought another, 6th ball of this colour for Tim's jumper, since you actually need well into that ball to make this size. And it's not even a close call, I used about half of that sixth ball.  Now I'm sweating a bit, planning the re-jig of the colours in Tim's design so I can actually finish his jumper with the remaining wool that I have.  I'll have to incorporate some of the leftovers from Sam's jumper otherwise I simply will not have enough!   Not happy, Jan... 
As a last resort, yes, I could order more wool, but the postage from Iceland was so astronomical I'm really hoping I can successfully work something out with what I've got.
Anyhow, that's the fault of the pattern; I am glad I did use the Alafoss Lopi!  Icelandic wool is renowned for being thick and lofty and at the same time very lightweight.  This jumper looks as thick as and it is amazingly warm, but surprisingly it is as light as a cloud!