Slow Fashion October

I’m a little behind on Slow Fashion October. I just read about it the other day in this great article on Autostraddle. And late as I am to the game it struck a chord with me, so here I am!

I generally respond warmly to anything ‘Slow.’ Slow Food, Slow Travel, I love it all. And so with sewing. I’ve had it drilled in to my head since I was a kid, “if you’re going to do something at all, do it right.” My sewing has gotten a lot better since I managed, a few years into my sewing career and a few years ago, to apply that lesson consistently. I don’t mind if it takes me a few weeks to complete a garment, if I have to spend ages sewing basting stitches and markings that will later be ripped out. It’s worth it for the end result.

Another aspect of Slow Fashion is that we’re encouraged to think in terms of “less is more.” Which it is! It absolutely is. I heard on the radio the other day that the average Swede has 100-200 items of clothing in their wardrobe, which sounded ridiculous. I dashed to my closet and started counting – a reasonable proposition thanks to a Kon-Mari session earlier this summer. I counted about 60-75 pieces in my own wardrobe, not including socks and underwear, and immediately felt that maybe I hadn’t sorted quite thoroughly enough. But here’s the thing – even though I wish (kind of) that I had less in my closet, I still want more!

I’m not even sure that I like clothes that much. What I really like is sewing. I just love sewing clothes so much!  My love of the construction has grown and blossomed into a love of clothes themselves. I do want more clothes, because I want to sew more clothes! Do I really want a tweed blazer in my life? Sort of, but most of all I want to sew a tweed blazer! I want to be satisfied with less, but I get so much satisfaction from sewing. So it’s a bit of a conundrum for me, but one I’m happy to sit with.

WORN

The theme for this week is “worn” and it’s all about longevity – making things to last, caring for them so they will last. That’s one of the delights of sewing for me. It’s why I make French seams on my pyjamas and why I pay more for the best fabric and why I’m so obsessed with heirloom sewing even though I have absolutely no need for christening gowns and bonnets.

I like to think that I also take good care of my clothes after they’re made, from laundering to mending. I’m not so sure that I really do it as well as I imagine though!

I always hang my clothes to dry (not only do driers waste electricity, they’re terrible for your clothes!) but I have no idea how to prevent white shirts from getting yellow stains, or how to remove them once they’re there. I have a pile of mending in a corner of my sewing room because although I love mending in principle, and I kind of like doing it once I get around to it, it’s like pulling teeth to get myself to just sit down with the darn mending in the first place.

I did do some darning today. A 10-crown card of darning thread and half an hour in front of the tv and it’s like I’ve got a brand-new pair of socks!

IMG_8242One more picture to enliven this text-heavy post:

IMG_8243I made these pyjamas about 3-4 years ago from this adorable kitten & polka dot fabric. I love them. They’re my only pair of winter pyjamas so they see a lot of wear. I had to mend a tear in the shoulder last week and I noticed that the cuffs are starting to wear on the edges, which bums me out but also makes me happy as it’s a sign of lots of loving use!

What about you? Do you practise Slow Fashion? If you’ve been blogging about it in October, please link in the comments! I’d love to read your thoughts.

New Pyjamas

I finished them! According to my little sewing notebook I started these pyjamas on 4 september! Can that be possible? Did it really take me so long? Well maybe it did, I have been pretty busy the last little while. The important thing is, they’re finished and they turned out great!

IMG_8049I bought this pattern quite a while ago but never got to making it, because I didn’t find just the right fabric until recently. Plus I left the pattern in Canada when I moved three years ago. It’s very tricky to sew with a pattern that’s located 5000 km away, take my word for it.

IMG_8082I had a couple of small issues with the pattern – one was that when I took it out of the envelope, big sections were missing from the sides of the pants pieces! Why??? Did the previous owner do this to me? I was cursing her at first, but now I’m more convinced it was maybe a factory error since an identical section is missing from each piece and also why would you do that? Anyway, it didn’t really matter, I straightened it out when I traced it. (I don’t usually trace patterns, except when grading them.)

The second problem was that I couldn’t quiiiiite fit all my pieces on my fabric. Why didn’t I buy just half a metre more? This was fabric I bought in Canada so I couldn’t exactly go out and get extra. Actually now that I think about it I seem to recall spending every last Canadian penny I had with me that day, so I guess that’s why I didn’t buy any more!

I solved this problem by overlapping the front and back leg pieces, so that a little square was missing from the top centre back. Then I sewed a patch there. This probably wasn’t the only or most elegant solution, but it was what I came up with first, and I’m happy with the results.

IMG_8053I used my rolled hem foot to make a tiny little ziz-zag hem on the sides of the patches, toward the right side of the fabric.

IMG_8152Then I straightened the edges of the “holes”, folded them under and sewed the patch down, with two lines of stitching for added sturdiness.

IMG_8153The raw edges of the “holes” are encased between the two lines of stitching.

IMG_8154 IMG_8155Looks pretty nice, huh!

IMG_8200I guess to do it really properly I could have matched the pattern, but I saw these pyjamas as an exercise in not being such a perfectionist. Don’t get me wrong, perfectionism is a very useful trait for sewing, but I wanted to practice taking it easy, and that not every project needs couture details, multiple fittings and hand-finishing – although I did hand finish the hems, more on that later.  Anyway, it’s at the back so I’ll never see it and the top hangs over the waist, hiding it even more.

Other than that these came together smoothly. Although it’s a beginner pattern it didn’t feel too simplified or “dumbed down” and has nice details that held my interest. I really like the fine way the facing folds down at the shoulder seams. (although I forgot to take a picture of it!)

I always make French seams on pyjamas since they’re so sturdy and hard-wearing. In this case though, the seam was too thick because of the double layer of lace in the seam, so I just made a regular seam. I did French seams on the bottoms though, and flat-felled the centre front/back seam. I sewed a plain seam over the lace at the hem and then zig-zagged the seam allowance over the lace edges like a little pouch to keep them from fraying.

IMG_8206I dyed the lace myself, I’ll tell about that in a separate post, this one is already long enough!

The waist has a plain waistband at the front and elastic in the back, which I love! Definitely a feature I’ll use in my next pair of pyjamas. The placket is closed with snaps. Doesn’t it look so cute and old-fashioned? The instructions call for a hook and eye to close the placket at the waist but I didn’t care for the thought of fiddling with one of those all the time, so I just used a bigger snap at the top instead.

IMG_8204Other than that I was very faithful to the instructions, even down to hand-stitching the hems. Sometimes I get a kick out of following directions, especially when they’re so nice as these!

IMG_8048I love my new jammies! They’re certainly summer pyjamas, but I think I can get away with them for at least another couple of weeks before it gets really cold here. The lace turned out just the shade I hoped for, the waist is comfy and I just adore this fabric! Another successful sewing project!

IMG_8210
Sorry for my knee. I had to stand on the bed to get a good shot.

The last block

I did it! I’ve just finished piecing the final block for my Summer Sampler quilt.

IMG_8151This isn’t actually a block from the quilt-a-long, but it works well with the rest of them. It’s an eight-pointed star, possibly an Ohio star? and sort of a play on the first block, which was a sawtooth star.

So great to have them all finished! Now comes the really fun part – planning the layout!

Almost there!

Two more blocks are completed for my quilt: another mosaic and a second Greek cross.

IMG_8135I made somewhat similar colour choices for these, with a lot more contrast than the first versions I made, so I think they’ll help balance out the quilt nicely.

Here’s a close-up of the Greek cross, which is really fun to make:

IMG_8136And the mosaic block, which was also fun to make. Who am I kidding, they all are!

IMG_8137I did a little hand-piecing on this one, partly because it’s fun and also because I wanted to go watch the Simpsons and keep sewing at the same time.

IMG_8124 IMG_8125Just one more block to go! I started it yesterday and promptly proceded to measure wrong, mis-cut two pieces, and run out of fabric, sigh.

Minnesota

I haven’t done much sewing since I started this blog because I’ve been working a lot on a big project for work.  I find I can only really work on one creative project at a time. I finally finished the project, a radio documentary, yesterday and today I celebrated by sewing another block for my summer sampler quilt!

quilt block 2

This block is called Minnesota, it’s one of the four blocks I’m making doubles of.  I got it to match up a little more neatly this time than on the first block.  I really like the pink and yellow polka-dots combination!

When I lay out my blocks, I can see that I need to work on getting more contrast in my colour choices. I thought about harmony when picking fabrics, but I haven’t figured out contrast yet! Since this is my first quilt, I’m not too worried about that, my main concerns before starting were that I would finish the quilt and not let it languish (jury’s still out on that one, of course) and the accuracy of the blocks. I wanted to focus on that, and I’m quite pleased with my accuracy. The blocks have some small inaccuracies here and there, of course, but I know that on the overall quilt, an 1/8″ will be barely noticeable, so I’m not worrying myself about it.

On the whole I’m really happy with how this quilt is turning out!

quilt block

And I can’t wait to do more sewing this weekend! I can finally finish my pyjamas, start my flannel shorts, make another block or two… ahhh it’s going to be great.

PS My documentary will air this sunday at 2pm on Swedish public radio. It’s about a really amazing jazz composer. Here’s the link: http://sverigesradio.se/sida/avsnitt/621046?programid=4112

Things I Want to Sew: Camel coat

While we’re on the topic of things I want to sew but am not due to not having any time/money/etc (and see yesterday’s post about the Farmer’s Wife quilt) let me introduce you to a little file on my computer called Things I Want to Sew.

I won’t actually make you look at the whole thing. It’s very long and borrows heavily from my 17 (17!) pages of Etsy favourites, which consist almost exclusively of patterns.

In the interest of your sanity and mine, today I’ll limit myself to telling you about my unhealthy obsession with sewing a camel coat, also known as a polo coat.

box coat
like this one!
or this one!!
or this one!!

I’ve been wanting desperately needing to sew one since early this summer, and I genuinely believed I would have it sewn up by now. Or at least be working on it. Or at the very least have ordered the pattern and fabric.

Well.

The only place I’ve been able to source camel hair fabric is Mood (and let me once again take the opportunity to complain about how terrible fabric shopping is in Sweden) and the cost of shipping a few yards of woolen goods from New York to Scandinavia is prohibitive at best.

Having discovered that the shipping cost is more than twice the price of the fabric has not deterred me, however. I’ll keep saving and meanwhile, since I’ve *ahem* never actually sewn a coat before, I’ll do some research and reading to get prepared and keep the dream alive. The dream of a beautiful camel hair coat. I will have one! Although realistically, not before it gets too cold to wear it this year. Darn.

UPDATE! UPDATE! The fabric I want just went on sale for 20% off!!! Wise and self-controlled Joakim pointed out to me that 20% is one of those numbers that tricks you by seeming like a better deal than it is but oooh! I want it!  My coooooat!

Farmer’s Wife 1930s quilt

If you are interested in quilting you might know that Laurie Aaron Hird released a follow-up to her Farmer’s Wife quilt. I’ve spent many hours pouring over photos of the original, 1920s, quilt on pinterest and longing to make it. I still love the original and hope to make it some day, but now that I’ve seen pictures from the new book I think I like it even more!

farmers wife book cover

I think it’s the airiness that comes from the wide sashing and on-point setting that really tickles my fancy!

I want to make this quilt so much! There’s a quilt-a-long that started a couple of weeks ago, but I won’t be joining in, at least not for a while. I have to finish my summer sampler quilt first, not to mention a number of other sewing projects in  various stages of completion. And then there’s the small issue that I don’t have the book yet. I’ve asked for it for Christmas so I’m using that as a carrot; if I get my summer sampler done by Christmas then I’ll be able to dive right into the Farmer’s Wife!