Sew For A Change – August

For the month of August the theme in Sew For A Change was recycling. We were to set ourselves three goals on how to improve our recycling. I must admit that it was difficult to find three challenges as we already have so much in order (we have organised a great system, the kiddo knows what to do (or asks if he’s unsure), our food waste is turned into biogas by the waste company). But I wanted those ten points… My challenges were:

 

  • Recycle textile

I did not know that textiles could be recycled. So far for me they have only gone in the waste bin. Another lesson learnt during Sew For a Change! I have not investigated if our recycling station has textile recycling (since everything is picked up at home, we hardly ever go there) . However, I did learn that there’s a home décor store, Hemtex, who has textile refashion and gives a voucher to be used in the store on your next purchase for each bag you hand in (50 SEK on a 300 SEK purchase). As someone in the Facebook group mentioned, I don’t think they considered a bunch of sewers seeing this. I have now organized (not very well at the moment, two bags in my sewing room, one with scraps and small bits to go to textile recycling and one with bigger pieces to be donated to the kids’ pre-school (if they want it, otherwise it will be recycled the old fashioned way).

Coolest cassette leggings for coolest toddler

Coolest cassette leggings for coolest toddler

 

  • Refashion usable textiles

You know those garments you’ve made that you for some reason don’t really like or have no more use of? We all have those, right? Even if I don’t want to wear them myself, there’s something difficult about throwing out the clothes I’ve made with my own two hands. However, I found no difficulties in chopping them up for clothing for the kids. It was quite liberating actually, making a new home for my discarded clothes. The nursing top, along with the remnants of the fabric, became the coolest leggings ever for Little E, she also got a new fall cap in the dress fabric. I have always taken out zips and buttons, now if I discard something I will see if I can make use of the fabric as well. Also, I cut off a torn pair of the kiddo’s jeans to make shorts. As for the back of the cut off jeans, I made patches for another pair of torn jeans. Recycling at its best!

Jeans recycling

Jeans recycling

 

  • Reduce waste.

Even if we have a pretty good recycling system, it is always better to reduce waste altogether. In order to reduce glass waste and transport I have filled the freezer with blackberries, for my winter needs of berries and I have pickled beets (ecological and very locally produced (our backyard)). It was all put in jars and containers we already had, thus reducing waste. I have bought myself a moon cup, let’s I hope I’ll like it as much as many others! I held on to the plastic bags that the kiddo’s underwear came in, perfect for hanging on the desk while sewing and using for threads. Before throwing something out in the future I will see if I can find other use for it.

Yum, blackberries!

Yum, blackberries!

 

As for shopping: Nothing! To be honest I don’t miss browsing the chain stores anymore. I don’t want to look like everyone else. However, I find thrift stores extremely inspiring and it’s a good thing they’re quite inaccessible for me otherwise I’d shop till I dropped, which is not the point of a consumption challenge. Now I feel I’m at a point where I can dress fun and varying, while adding pieces one by one through sewing. Thrift shopping has allowed me to try new silhouettes and shapes and has given me a clearer view of what I want and wear. Win-win! I also gotten into buying household items at flea markets, especially things that I don’t have an urgent need for (on my fall list I have lemonade pitcher, a cake plate, pearl necklaces (for crafting pearls) and kitchen towels to make fabric napkins).

 

My new thread collector, used to hold underwear

My new thread collector, used to hold underwear

Ingoing points: 48 p

Star challenge: +10 p

Outgoing points: 58 p

One last confession before I leave you. In my teens I used to watch The Bold And The Beautiful. Yes. Therefore I cannot think about recycling without thinking of Sally.

Creation: Cake Tee

Happy  first birthday to The Monthly Stitch! I may have just joined in June for Indie month and have only posted once, but I wanted in on the celebrations as well. We were tasked to sew Cake, in any interpertation we wished.

Starry Cake Tee (1)

Comfy casual Tee

I decided to use the opportunity to break my Cake virginity, by sewing the free Tee pattern. I had never sewed a Cake pattern before and being on team FBA I was intriguied by the sizing system (I have the Tiramisu pattern in my stash, but haven’t sewn it…yet). For this pattern you base the shoulders and kimono sleeves on bust width and then you choose your own length and hip measurements and play connect the dots. Ah, childhood memories.

After a Twitter exchange with Steph of Cake, I decided to take in the side seams a bit, so the Tee would get some more shape and not just being straight from bust to hip. I was a bit worried about the fabric bunching up under the arm, but it wasn’t that bad.

No fabric bunching!

No fabric bunching!

Speaking of the fabric, this one is lovely, let me tell you! It’s a cotton jersey from Stoff och Stil’s organic collection in cotton and lycra (too bad the other fabrics from the collection are quite juvenile). It is incredibly soft to wear and a joy to work with now that I’ve mastered the overlocker to the extent where I can actually use it (still need to learn about thread tension and differential feeding better).

I usually don’t wear t-shirts to work, but hey there are weekends too and this t-shirt will be perfect for lounging around the house, chasing the kids around. Plus I’ve already established that I need to up my lounging wear.

Finished with hem band at the bottom

Finished with hem band at the bottom

I enjoyed the customable aspect of the pattern. I made the v-neck and was a bit confused by the instructions to do it, mine ended up way wrong. I don’t know if the instructions are lacking or I was just lost in translation (even though I’m pretty fluent in English, sometimes I get lost). But still I liked the pattern and it is perfect for using small pieces of jersey. It is also possible that the Tee might be a little too tight on me, but I don’t mind. I wore it to the kids’ pre-school when I visited with Little E and the kids there didn’t seem to mind either.

Low Fabric Confidence

A few weeks ago Heather B wrote a post about a dress that wasn’t really her. She described her in post her inspiration and modifications for her dress. In the end she got a dress with many technical skills and it fitted her like a glove, but she wasn’t happy with it because she didn’t feel good in it. Somewhere along the line a cute dress had become too cutesy dress with too many distractions and a shape that wasn’t her.

I can relate.

Sewing has kind of become a cult, of which I am part. I no longer feel that sewing is my hobby, somewhere along the line it became a lifestyle. For me that has meant a much more conscious way of thinking about building a wardrobe in terms of colour and style, as well as a big turn-off towards the fast fashion industry and must-haves. I have turned to sewing and thrifting as my main resources of clothing. I have realised that I don’t look like anyone else, style wise, that I don’t know what’s in trend and I’ve come to accept this and embrace my own look.

So, why is it that I made a dress in colours that don’t look good on me and in a shape that is totally unflattering for me? I remember buying that fabric. It was in the home textile department, so I was a bit unsure of it, but it felt soft enough to use as a dress. I was just getting into using colours more and this seemed colourful enough without being too much. I liked the fabric, I still do, but it’s not suitable for adult apparel. As cushion or maybe even children’s clothes it would come to its best.

And the pattern? Ugh! Was I so eager to get a quick project in, joining a sew-along that I completely forgot what shapes I should wear. I was feeling optimistic, that by adding a belt all problems would go away, but in the end I feel as if I was delusional more than anything else. And it shows in the rushed sewing, for example the shoulder straps on the back pieces are wider than those of the front giving my shoulder seams a discrepancy. At the point of sewing the shoulder seams I was already over this project (subconsciously) and made no effort to fix it.

You know you don’t like a project when you don’t bother fixing issues like this

What does this tell me? I need to make things I like, I need to focus when fabric shopping, I need to not jump at any opportunity to join a sew-along, a contest, whatever, if it’s not something I would do anyway. There. If I didn’t already have plans to make a summer sundress, I shouldn’t join a summer sun dress sew-along. I didn’t join Sew Dolly Clackett or Oonapallooza as I wouldn’t get wearable pieces out of it. I should stick to my guns, which I usually do well. I need to see a pattern made up several times before I buy it, I stalk the fabric store website before visiting making sure I like the colours, in the store it’s all about texture. Also, I will be more devoted to The Monthly Stitch. That will allow me to join a community of sewers while still having guidelines to what to sew. Guidelines that are wide and not very restrictive, letting me do things that are me and still fit in with a theme.

When I went to the fabric store recently I was haunted by my past fabric mistakes. I saw plenty of pretty fabrics, including the infamous tape measure fabric, but I couldn’t see them made up as garments. In my mind they were all too boring, too much or not me. I need to get some fabric confidence back!

Now, I’m awaiting the release of fall fabrics, perhaps that can get me back in the saddle!

Creation: The Turnaround Dress

With my work on the Wardrobe Architect project I’ve come to term with my style. It’s not modern, trendy or even what anyone else might wear, but what I’ve learnt is that I’m OK with that. Sitting next to the other women at work, I feel a bit out of place, they follow trends, look modern and I’m in my me-made/thrifted/old clothes and doesn’t have an ounce of trendiness in me. Again, that’s OK. It’s not only the Wardrobe Architect project that deserves credit, all sewcialists around the world deserves credit. Because of you I’ve learnt that dressing can be fun and unique, it doesn’t have to follow trends plus the sewcialists are an empowering community. Getting involved in that community has given me strength and confidence. But I digress. I will explore my views on sewing as a lifestyle more in an upcoming post, but right now I have a dress to present!

 

Perhaps I should have pulled my dress down a bit. Ah, well

Perhaps I should have pulled my dress down a bit. Ah, well

This dress gets a little credit for pushing me into believing in what I sew. Because I love this dress and I want to wear this dress. It’s not trendy, it’s not modern, but it’s fun and it tells more about me than any modern outfit, in which I’d undoubtedly feel misplaced, would. Personality is important in my clothing, I’ve come to realise. I will wear my clothes with pride, since each piece should be carefully selected to suit me, and not worry one bit about how on trend something is.

The Turnaround dress (8)

This fabric has been in my stash for quite some time. It was first bought, in the beginning of 2012, with the intention of becoming a Colette Truffle. However, it just didn’t feel right. Then it was switched to a Burda City Dress (02-2013-XX), to showcase the print, but after I thought of that I realised that the width of the fabric was only 115 cm (45”), not enough. Enter Jenny Hellström’s Sy!-books. The Evelyn dress from the second book, Urban Collection, was a perfect match to show the fabric to its best since the dress is cut in one piece. It’s a blouse dress with a Peter Pan collar. It is very straight, having only horizontal bust darts and vertical neck darts in the back and the designer herself says that this dress needs a belt for definition. Good thing I had a perfect brown braided leather belt to go with it! I have not made any alterations to the pattern, but if I were to make it again I would lower the bust dart as it falls a little high right now (same issue on my Norah Sundress, by the same designer).

The Turnaround dress (15)

The fabric is a printed cotton, very soft to wear. The collar is made from an ordinary cotton weave. When I was itching to get the project done I first contemplated a pure white collar, hoping it wouldn’t clash too much with the cream lines. However, I had no suitable buttons, so since I couldn’t finish the dress either way, I opted to buy another collar as well, matching the purple in the flowers. Luckily I also found buttons to match the purple, to bring the accents of the dress together.

Hard to get the facing to lie flat...

Hard to get the facing to lie flat…

Puff sleeve with elastic ruching.

Puff sleeve with elastic ruching.

The dress came together fairly quickly. The instructions are pretty clear, for most part. As with my first Jenny Hellström pattern, the Midnight Sun Shirt, I found that the instructions lacked a bit when it was the most difficult bits, the collars. After sewing it wrong the first time I managed to figure out what she meant. I’ll take the lesson and read more thoroughly next time, really thinking about what I have and, more importantly, what I want after I finish the step. I will definitely use more Jenny Hellström patterns, they are, at least as far as I’ve come, well-drafted and fun, she wants us to play with fashion, which I want do too.

Creation: Norah Sundress

OK, my Spring this year had a very solid theme, fitting. It started with my “perfect knit dresses” (Rule Britannia Dress and Tie-dye Aqua Dress) back in January and then my Almas (Starry and Striped) followed suit, ending with my Anna dress. It was fitting, FBAs, muslins. In the end I’m very, very pleased with the fit on all of these garments, but it left me in the mood of wanting to make something more simple.

Enter Heather B’s summer sundress sewalong.

I had a piece of heavy weight polka dot cotton, stashed away. It wasn’t really suitable for office wear so a sundress seemed like the best deal for it. I did debate using Colette’s Truffle or the Jenny Hellström Norah dress. I made the latter and I’m not sure it was the best decision. However, I wanted an easy project with minimal fitting and the result reflect that.

The dress is a balloon dress, described as like walking around in a minitent without feeling like a camper. Yes, this dress really is all sorts of wrong for my figure. There. This is the third pattern I make from Jenny Hellström’s Sy!-books and a few conclusions about the patterns are starting to arise.

 

I was promised a tent and a tent I got

I was promised a tent and a tent I got

Firstly, the patterns could have used a thorough testing and proof reading. In two of those patterns I have found errors (in the Lily shirt there was an error in the instruction for constructing the collar, inthis Norah dress there seemed to be a discrepancy of whether or not the back piece should be cut on the fold or not as well as not illustrating the facing pieces as pattern pieces).

Seriously whose boobs are this perky? (mind you, the dart has been lowered 2.5 cm (1"))

Seriously whose boobs are this perky? (mind you, the dart has been lowered 2.5 cm (1″))

Another conclusion is that the patterns are drafted for a small, perky bust. I had noticed on my Turnaround dress (not properly blogged) that the horisontal bust darts sit very high. For my Norah I lowered them about 2.5 cm (that would be 1” in imperial) and they could have gone down a bit further. Or perhaps have benefited from an FBA, but that seemed so unnecessary on a dress of this shape and when I wanted a simple project.

I added a belt, but I'm not sure I like it that much better.

I added a belt, but I’m not sure I like it that much better.

So, a tent-look was promised and a tent-look I got. It’s not flattering at all, but it’s really comfortable. Unless that the armholes are a bit tight and then there’s the already mentioned case of the high bust dart. In order to draw it in, I sewed myself a narrow belt in the same fabric as the dress. Husband thinks it’s an improvement and sure it takes away from that tent-like feeling, but I’m not feeling the dress, even for a “lounge around the house”-dress. The fabric is a bit meh and washed out, I prefer my colours bright, plus it’s a bit too stiff to fully work as a dress.

Unflattering (for me, I'm sure other body types could make it work)

Unflattering (for me, I’m sure other body types could make it work)

 

The verdict? I have worn this dress during some hot summer days and while it was comfortable in shape, I wasn’t completely comfortable in it. The sundress days are over for this year and the dress will move into the back of my closet. If it survives the full year I might wear it next summer, otherwise it might be chopped up and used for children’s clothes. We’ll see. And in the future I shouldn’t play with silhouettes I know won’t work. I knew this silhouette wouldn’t work and laziness took over since the dress was easy to make. However, had I made the Truffle it probably wouldn’t have been comfortable anyway and more time had been wasted.

Do you ever find yourself disliking a garment you made? How do you treat it afterwards? Does it even make the blog?

Sew For a Change – Recycling

The theme of August is recycling. Both in Sew For a Change and in the Reuse/Refashion/Repurpose challenge as hosted by Amy. I will combine these two.

We were challenged to find three areas in which to improve our household recycling, with tips on areas given by Alexandra. The challenge for me is that we already are pretty good at recycling our trash. We get everything picked up at home, we just do the sorting and put it in the bin and then gone! We have a good organization under our kitchen sink with bins for metal, paper, waste, plastic, cardboard and food. We take glass out pretty quickly without storing it. The kiddo knows that different trash goes into different bin. (He was all sorts of confused on vacation where we had only one bin and he had to throw his juice box in with the waste). However, most of my fabric trash ends up in the waste. No more! Here are my three challenges:

  • Recycle textile. I will give some scraps to the kids’ (yes, kids in plural, little E begins next week) preschool to use in crafts. If they don’t want it I will take it back. As for the rest I will put in in textile recycling, I know a few chain stores that have this option, I don’t know about the recycling centre as we hardly visit anymore. But my scraps and leftovers will be used somehow. I will also put up an extra bin in the sewing room so I can separate my fabric scraps from regular trash.
  • Refashion usable textiles. Yes, another textile point. Clothes I don’t wear will be donated to charity (or sold if I think I can actually make some money). Those I don’t want to donate, i.e. stuff I’ve made poorly, dirty, stained etc. I will try and make use of. I will hold onto buttons and zips for further use and try and use the fabric in a clever way. So far my Cassette nursing t-shirt (in which I nursed little E) has become leggings for little E (very circle of life), my discarded Envy dress became a beanie for little E (using a free Stoff och Stil pattern).
  • Reduce waste. Even if we have a pretty good recycling system, it is always better to reduce waste altogether as well as using what we have and what nature can give us. This has been an excellent year for blackberries so I have picked and stocked up my freezer with blackberries to use in the winter, meaning I won’t need to buy berries in the winter, I’m using jars and pots we already have and there’s no need for transport. I will also pickle all those red beets in our garden, they will hold up and again no need to buy pickled beets! To reduce my personal waste I will invest in a Mooncup, let’s hope I’ll like it. I will try to fulfill my needs with what I have (for example in order to recycle textiles I must in my sewing room separate fabrics scraps from other waste – I won’t buy anything new for this). We already use reusable shopping bags for grocery shopping, otherwise that’s also an idea to reduce waste.

 

Do you think my three areas are enough to warrant me 10 points? Do you have any tips regarding recycling? Can you help a mooncup newbie out?

(Oh and my life is not just about Sew for a Change. I have a few creations to blog about, but when I went to take pictures the camera batteries dies (in both cameras!). So hold on. A sundress, a Tee and a regular dress is on the way! As well as musing topics related to sewing)

AFSM: July 2014

I really like getting small peeks into other people’s lives, not just the sewing. So I decided to start a series about just that of my own. AFSM, away from sewing machine. What do I do when I’m not sitting by the sewing machine (or blogging about it, or reading blogs about it)?

July has been an incredibly warm month here in Sweden. The minimum day temperature has been 25 degrees Centigrade (75F) but more often than that it’s been above that. Therefore I have hardly sewn anything during July. I have finished a dress for Heather’s sundress sewalong, but I haven’t photographed it yet. Photographing new garments is my Achilles’ heel when it comes to this blog.

The last week of July was spent in Ebeltoft, Denmark where we rented a summer house. A great vacation.

2014-07-28, Ebeltoft (34)We visited many beaches during July, both here at home, at the in-laws and in Denmark. Nothing beats a swim in the ocean on warm days! However most of my pictures featured kids who want to bathe naked and those pictures will not go on the Internet.

2014-07-29, Ebeltoft (8)In the city of Aarhus in Denmark, there’s an open air musem called “Den Gamle By” (=The Old City), where there is a collection of houses from the past. There are three section 18/19th century, 1927 and 1974. The houses are decorated according to different city people, such as the priest, the merchant, different craftsmen, the pharmacy, with its additional garden and much more. I really liked that the staff walked the streets in character and behaved appropriately. 1974 was the latest addition and it was quite fun to see a period of time that is so close to your childhood, even if I was born a bit later than that. As you can see above the town also had its own tailor (sorry for the blurry picture, I was not allowed to use the flash inside the buildings). I also took a picture of the work station. Such a lovely place to work with a great cutting table. a machine nearby and lots of lights from the windows! Although I would prefer my modern machine and I’m grateful that artificial light allows me to work even when it’s dark outside.

2014-07-29, Ebeltoft (10)

On our trip to Denmark we also visited a safari park. Great fun and the kids loved it! They featured the continents of Africa (pictured), North America, South America and Europe and we learnt a lot (did you know that all living 2700 European Buffalos/Wisents stem from 12 wisents that were all left?)

2014-07-31, Ebeltoft (20)

A great family vacation, but not much sewn. I have the rest of the year for that! Before leaving my AWSM: July post I will summarise Sew for A Change as well. The challenge this month involved cleaning and to be honest I haven’t even bothered with it. It’s been too hot. I will take the tips with me for future reference, but in this heat my energy is lost.

I did make a few purchases:

Ingoing points: 59p
Purchases:
Hat in acrylic (seen above): -6p
2 m cotton poplin: -5p (to be an awesome Mortmain)
Four blouses, one skirt, second hand: 0p

Outgoing points: 48 points.

Next month involves recycling, we do a lot of recycling and the challenge is to come up with three ways to improve your recycling, and we pretty much have covered all of the tips in the post except textile recycling, so I will definitely look into that.

I hope you enjoyed my AFSM-post and I hope I can make it a regular (or at least semi-regular feature).