Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

In Progress

October 8, 2007

I’ve got a couple projects on the go at the moment, and I haven’t blogged any of them as yet. Partly because the batteries in my camera have expired, and partly because I’ve been too busy to sew and document the process.

The silk brocade from the NYC fabric run is half-way through being made up into a skirt. It’s my standard 8-gore knee length tried and true pattern, but this time with a Hong Kong underlining. I’m very happy with the way that it’s turning out, but it’s going on hiatus for a few days until I make something with the silk dupioni which I geeked out about back in September, but have as yet neither sewn up nor photographed.

I’m planning a faux-wrap skirt — a simple floor length a-line style but with a flap across the front to showcase the beautiful selvage on this piece of fabric. I’ve currently cut paper and a muslin. The pattern is self-drafted from a skirt that I made about a hundred years ago with a lot of help from a sewing friend, waaaaay before I had any clue. I’m also planning to use the Hong Kong underlining technique on this skirt (which is why I practiced first on the brocade).

I was going to take advantage of the public holiday today to start cutting this skirt, but I had a very restless night. ‘Bout 1.30, I was lying in bed, unable to sleep, when I heard a rustling noise in the apartment. I’m fairly sure that the upstairs neighbors have a dog or cat, so I figured it was just scritchy paws on floorboards upstairs, but five minutes later Spouse Phor jolted awake and yelled “what’s that noise!?!”.

Now, we have rats living in the alley next to our apartment, and in my sleep-addled state, I was imagining their little ratty paws managing to get them into the building and operate the elevator and I dunno, pick locks or some such, so I scooted out of bed and turned on the hallway light.

There, momentarily stunned by the brightness, was a largish cockroach. Who must have been wearing the cockroach equivalent of wooden clogs, because I have never heard of cockroach scuttling waking anyone up before.


Is Tim Gunn married?

September 24, 2007

Dear readers,

To those of you who are arriving at this blog via google searches inquiring as to the marital status of Tim Gunn. No, Tim Gunn is not married. But I’m pretty sure you still don’t have a shot.

Free Patterns!

July 30, 2007

I just discovered that Burda has free downloadable patterns. They spit out as multipage pdfs, which then need to be printed and attached in the correct way (there are instructions for that process). I’m intrigued.

There are 14 patterns offered, of which 5 are bags or purses, and one is a cushion, but there are some apparel patterns there — couple of skirts, a pair of pants, couple of dresses, and a knit tank.

I downloaded the tank top pattern, just to see what the files look like. If I come across suitable fabric, I might make this up. Or not. It’s cute. But I don’t have anything stashed away right now that would suit it.

Sewing tools — Dritz snap setter

July 9, 2007

I bought a snap setter. I nearly took it back to the store.

The directions on this thing are one of the most unintuitive and difficult to process examples of the genre I’ve ever seen.

Snaps have two halves; an innie and an outie. Before they are attached, each one consists of two pieces — the innie (or outie) and the ring-and-prongs. The snap setter is basically a pair of pliers with which one compresses the prongs into the back of the outie (or innie).

First time I tested the device, I successfully attached an innie to a piece of scrap fabric. So far so good. Then I went to attach the outie. Pulled the snap setter away, and all that was on my fabric was a set of prongs sticking out. The outie part had wedged itself into the machine’s innie. I didn’t know the machine had an innie!!!

I tried various removal techniques. Letter opener. Screwdriver. Pliers. Teeth. Dental floss. Verbal abuse. Fishing line. Pliers again. More verbal abuse.

Spouse Phor came home and managed an extraction by jamming a nail into the back end of the thing.

Set it up again, and had luck with the outie parts, but all the innies fell off as soon as you breathed on them. Swore at it. Went to bed.

Next day, I did some internet research. Joann’s has some heinous reviews.

  • Never again will I buy this. I have again resorted to banging in the snaps with a hammer.
  • I finally gave up and donated the plier kit and a large package of snaps and eyelets.
  • This product would have been great for the price had it worked…all the snaps I have are now a crumbled mess from “testing” The instructions are vague and the dritz website is not helpful. I am very disappointed.
  • all it did was ruined the clothes I was sewing for my baby.

But. There are some folks in there that are saying “what?? worked fine for me!!”. (They don’t say “you idiot”, because Sewing World is a politer corner of the internet, I guess.)

  • It worked perfectly the first time and I was very proud of myself and my new friend the snap and eyelet setter.
  • In my opinion, the directions are perfectly clear and the product does what it’s supposed to.

Now, see, I’m taking that as a challenge. Because I refused to let the machine defeat me. Because that would be admitting that I couldn’t understand the directions.

When you insert the innie part into the slot, it tells you to do so “with the raised center exposed”. Problem is, both sides of this piece have a raised center. I googled some more, and I found these directions, which explain that if you feel for it, one side has more of a raise than the other.

After a few practice tries, I figured I had the hang of it. I finally managed to get all of the snaps on to the McCalls 3665 onesie. Took me down to my very last one. I pressed it. I took pictures. Triumph was mine! At last!

Then Spouse Phor came home, looked at the garment and managed to pull off the top snap when he opened it. Oh well. At least it was him, and not someone I’d given it to as a gift.

McCalls 3665: Pattern Analysis

July 6, 2007

Another kid pattern, this time a knit pattern for a newborn.

I’m making view D, the short-sleeved short-legged bodysuit.



June 27, 2007

My grandmother was born in Glasgow in the 1920s. She was a bright and intelligent girl, but any family funds for sending the children on to higher education were reserved for her brothers. In this photograph, she is about sixteen years old, and she had probably been in the workforce for a year or two by then.

Flora Gebbie, 1938

During WWII, she served in a women’s auxiliary unit. From her descriptions of that time, I realize that I envision her experiences of the Second World War as a sort of giant Guide camp. Her stories were all about sleeping in tents and managing to cut twenty slices from a single tomato.

She was married just after the end of the war. In her wedding photographs, she is wearing a 40s style navy skirt suit, cut to minimize the amount of fabric needed.

My mother was born in 1949. During her childhood, my grandmother was a successful businesswoman who ran a dress hire shop in Glasgow. When I was a child, whenever I was shopping with my grandmother, she was adamant that dresses were to be tried on by pulling them over the head, never, never by putting the dress on the ground and stepping into it. I have one item saved from the dress shop — a sixties era floor length bottle green velvet cape. It’s gorgeous, albeit of limited utility, but I have in fact worn it (to a midwinter wedding), and plan to again.

My mother was the first generation of her family to go into higher education, but my grandmother was not far behind her. When she was in her fifties, she enrolled in the Open University and finished a bachelor’s degree by correspondence. By the time I came along, my grandmother was a highly educated successful businesswoman — but of course, that’s not what I remember from my childhood.

I remember a woman who used to mix lemonade and ribena for me and call it a “Grandma’s Special”.

I remember my brother taking what must have been some of his very first steps, across her kitchen, with her right behind him making sure he didn’t fall.

My family lived for several years in various parts of Africa when I was a child. My grandparents came to visit us for two weeks on a sugar plantation about two hundred miles south of Khartoum, Sudan. As if that wasn’t adventure enough, I managed to come down with a case of malaria while there were there. So I remember my grandparents loading my brother and I into the back of a Toyota and heading out in the middle of the night to find my parents (who I think had taken up an offer of babysitting) while I sweated through a fever in the back seat of the car.

I remember a woman who cautioned me against falling for the charms of American men (I have always suspected she was worried about my having my head turned by a few pairs of nylons and a Hershey bar), but who welcomed Spouse Phor into the family, declaring him to be “very well spoken”. (Spouse Phor, by the way, still owes me some stockings.)

My grandmother died on Monday night. She lived well. She will be missed.

Links. Coz I’m lazy today.

May 29, 2007

I’ve been away on vacation for the last week, hence the radio silence around here. It was a gorgeous lazy week on the water in southern Maryland, with lots of paddling around in kayaks and gazing at bird life. Ospreys. Bald eagles. Heron, which are much larger down there than I’ve seen elsewhere, and manage to be amazingly graceful and slightly gawky at the same time.

Having stuffed myself full of steamed crabs and exhausted myself paddling around the byways of the Potomac, I haven’t gotten much sewing done. Instead of a substantive post, you’ll be getting a round up of the catching up on reading I’m doing today.

My pal Krupskaya over at the Edit Barn blogs about returning garments made in the Mariana Islands.

If you want a half hour of talk radio in your sewing room, check this podcast on fashion magazines from the fabulous Julia at As We Are Magazine.

For those of you who haven’t yet heard of the Little Brown Dress project, go check out the archive of Alex Martin’s year of wearing the same dress.

A Dress A Day features a magnificent tribute to His Unpronouncable Purpleness.

And to round up with some Other Small Crafts; a how-to on capturing sunshine in a jar.

Tiny Bubbles

April 16, 2007

tiny bubbles


March 22, 2007

Precious Cream


Next, we will make shoes from cheese mold

March 17, 2007

Researchers at UWA have made a dress from the skin that forms on top of red wine when it goes bad.

Apparently “Their creation smells like wine and feels like sludge when its wet.”


The broader aim is to create fabrics using microbes — to grow whole cloth, more or less — which is kind of cool, but I hope this is just a first step. They are also currently working on making a fabric from the bacteria found in beer.

I have to wonder, where are they getting their booze from? I hope they aren’t wasting good wine on this. I’m sure if they wander around the UWA campus on a Monday morning, they can find a few half-empty flagons of goon lying about.

Hat tip to Fashion Incubator.

p.s. Notice the comment on the Telegraph page? The Grapes of Cloth? Rhymes with wrath? Ha. You know who you are. (Although, shouldn’t it be the cloth of grapes?)