Sunday, October 21, 2012

Re-Fashion Contest

Ah yes, another contest.  It's not like I've no other sewing to do . . . . !  So when I saw this contest come up on Pattern Review, I knew that I had to enter.

These are the rules:

Refashion Contest
November 1, 2012 - November 15, 2012

Refashioning, reconstructing, recycling or upcycling -- whatever you call it, this is the contest for it.

Objective: Take an item or items and create a new and different garment.

Requirements: A photo of your "material" (the initial item or items) and another photo of the final garment must be included in your review. Additional pictures may also be included.

Your original items can be anything you want, but they may only be turned into garments or accessories to qualify as "new" items for this contest. The garment must be sewn. Self drafted patterns or commercial patterns may be used; they may be previously used or new.

The "original" item or items must be changed substantially to create a new garment. The item can be of the same type (dress to dress) or something entirely different (tablecloth to dress). However, the new item must be distinctly different from the original (for example, embellishments only do not qualify).
At least half of the new item must be made from reconstructed / recycled items (notions such as zippers or interfacing do not count in the total).

Examples that qualify for the contest:

Making a skirt from pants. Making a fitted top from a tunic. Making a hat from a sweater.

My plan is to cut up a pair of perfectly good corduroy trousers (oh boy, I love corduroy) into a skirt.  The reason being is that I have a flat butt and despite what I think, they have never fitted particularly well.  The excess fabric hangs under my butt looking distinctly unattractive - but the waist fits perfectly, so I think that a skirt will be just the ticket!  There are a number of fabulous suggestions/lessons on the intertubes such as here, here, and here.

Here are my 'befores:

And the back view showing the pockets.  And the small specs of white in between the middle and the right belt loops?  Well, they are the stitches that held the card label on the pants.  Embarassing.  So I have finally cut them off!

And what I did not realize until I got these out to photograph - there is a button missing on the waistband and the buttonholes need tidying up as they are unravelling.  This challenge is coming at just the right time!

 I intend making mine a straight skirt - possibly lined . . . . and the whole deconstruction/re-style will have to be completed in two weeks . . . . so the countdown begins.  November 1st is the start date.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Singer Perfect Plus - A New Wardrobe

As part of my commitment of no RTW for a year, I have been leafing through one of my sewing books - Singer Perfect Plus by Kathleen Cheetham.  I have had this book of a number of years and was drawn to the idea of making a number of garments from a limited amount of patterns that co-ordinate together to make (in this case) around 50 outfits.

One thing that I did not realize when I bought this was that the patterns are sized for Petite - and at 5'7", I am a little taller than that, but nonetheless, the idea using just a few patterns for a pair of trousers (pants), a blouse with collar and sleeve variations, a jacket with collar variations and a simple pull on skirt is rather intriguing.

I analyzed the book - because that is what I do(!), and I think that I have now enough information to go forward.  I know that some sewists, especially Ms. Carolyn, have the skill and imagination to do this naturally, but I have a long way to go to get there, so I need all the hand I can get!  The book uses 4 patterns, but I think that I will use more.  One pattern for trousers and one for a blouse, a couple of different jacket patterns, and two skirt patterns - a straight skirt and the calf length straight skirt.  As I test the patterns and make them up, I will post and photograph!

The book makes 18 garments out of 12 fabrics.  3 pairs of trousers, 4 skirts (therefore 7 'bottoms'), 7 tops/blouses and 4 jackets, but starts with a grey pair of trousers and blouse.  Once that is made, the idea is that another blouse is made that co-ordinates with the grey trousers.  Other co-ordinating pieces are made and they made lead you off at a tangent to go and select even more colors.  Sounds like fun!  Here are some of my starting fabrics:

The three middle fabrics are stretch poly/lycras, it is very soft and drapes beautifully.   am already using the red for a dress and a short, straight skirt that I hope to complete this weekend.  The grey will be used to make the first two pieces of my new collection (that incidentally needs a name - I will need to think about this!) and the brown suiting will come into play later on.  The bottom left and right fabrics are poly crepes and will be used for blouses, and the top left fabric will be a 4-gored skirt.

I also splurged a little and bought some sweater knits from  They will be introduced as I go along . . .

Lovely, lovely, lovely!  I should have enough of each fabric to make a twinset - a cardigan and a shell.  They will be in addition to the main wardrobe garments that I am making.  I do love knits and lycra and other stretch!  I hope to nail these garments as these are the ones that will really help me get over the non 'RTW'.  As they are coming from the US to Canada, it will be a few weeks before I get my hands on them, giving me chance to work on my main collection.

So here are the first steps of my plan:
  •  Finish the red garments (dress and straight skirt)
  • Muslin/test a pants pattern and a blouse pattern.  For the blouse I am thinking of morphing Butterick 5300, a Connie Crawford pattern with New Look 6555 - for the collar options.

Make grey blouse, grey pants, and a grey patterned skirt (I am trying to keep the threads in my overlocker/serger the same for as many garments as possible to save having to keep cahnging them!!)
  • Muslin jacket patterns
  • Make black trousers, blouse and jacket using corduroy and a black patterned blouse and a black patterned skirt.
Once these garments are made I will be ready to move onto the next colours/garments.  Incidentally, a lot of these garments will work with my K.I.S.S Collection.

Ambitious? -  you betcha, but I have to start somewhere!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

RTW Fast

The gauntlet has been thrown down and the challenge accepted . . . . oh yes . . . and it is all because of the lovely Sarah over at Goodbye Valentino.  Her challenge is to forgo buying RTW (ready to wear) clothing for a year . . . and make your own clothes.  What a fabulous idea!  Fortunately we will be able to purchase underwear - but I do plan to sew some as well!

image courtesy of Goodbye Valentino

Sarah has a marvelous sense of style and is a very accomplished dressmaker - I think that with her support and that of my fellow 'fasters' it will be a fun and challenging year!  In reality, I don't think that I spend much on clothes, but I am going to look back over the last year of bank statements and check!  I think it will then be interesting to see how much I spend on fabric, patterns etc.  I do not think that this will save me money - but that is not a bad thing at all.  I think that this challenge will focus my time and skills and at the end I am hoping to have a classy, well fitting wardrobe that makes the most of my body shape.  I dream of choosing a week's worth of garments as per Carolyn - I could probably write a whole blog on how fantastic her sewing/style/skills etc are - so feel free to take a look yourselves!  I love her idea of developing TNT (tried and true or tried and tested) patterns, and then being able to enjoy the process of sewing.

So, where do I go from here?  I am going to record all my sewing related expenses - starting with the lining, zips and seam binding that I bought today.  The lining is Bemberg (a rayon fabric that breathes and can be washed and dried by machine) lining that is three times the price of my usual nylon/polyester.  It does feel very silky though and I am going to use it to make a simple knee-ish length straight skirt out of some red woven poly/lycra fabric that I purchased last week.  The pattern is Simplicity 7740 and I have also cut out the dress - I should have enough red fabric to also make a jacket.

I thought it would be fun to have some labels made up for my new, sooper dooper garments, and so that I know when they were made, I plan to order two lots . . .


Or something similar!

Could you manage a RTW fast?  Tell, me, I'd love to know!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Singer 128

This is my 'new' machine - I only got it last week at auction.  It is also the third of my vintage Singers.

It is near perfect condition - practically no dust or oil build up.  It has a serial number of JC186606 and appears to be a 128 - the 3/4 sized version of the 127 (my treadle!)

What is a little strange, and needs more research, is that the serial number appears to relate to 1948 machine.  However,  it has a badge on it celebrating 100 years of Singer Machines - 1851 - 1951.

The decals on this machine are called 'Celtic Swirl' -  rather fitting as this machine was manufactured in Clydebank, Scotland.

It appears that a previous owner has scratched their telephone number into the body of the machine.  There is the faintest indication of rust here, so I will need to look into that.  Hmm, I've just looked up '612' and that is the dialling code for Minneapolis, Minnesota, or Sydney Australia.  The plot thickens!!

There is a handsome silvered badge on the back, and a bolted on light and motor.

The side plate is quite stunning - a grapes and vines engraved pattern.

This is another reciprocating shuttle, and as can be seen, it is spotless!

Finally - here is the cover, complete with a key and a sticker on with the auction number and my winning bid number.  My 99k also has a similar carrying box - and I have learned (not through experience, thank goodness) that the handle should NOT be used as a carrying handle as it cannot hold the weight if the machine - the handle is purely to lift off the cover!

I used Singer and ISMACS to help date the machine and this site to determine the model.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Prairie Skyscapes

We really do have some stunning skies here on the prairies - as the land is so flat we can see for miles, scores, maybe hundreds.

This picture was taken on September 14th - with the sun lower in the sky it casts long shadows.  The shadows from the houses pretty much cover the golf course with the surrounding farmland still lit by the evening sun.  My camera is a 'billy basic' point and shoot, no fancy smancy filters or lenses - and definitely no Photo-shopping.  The fabulous countryside and sky are beautiful 'straight out of the box'.

Later that same evening I heard that the moon was presenting itself as a perfect crescent and that Venus could be seen.The above photo shows the moon perfectly - the colors of the sky are just breath taking.

In this photo you can just see Venus near the top, right-hand corner.  It is Venus, not a speck or dirt, honest!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Singer 99k

This is the second vintage Singer that I bought, and I picked this up at auction

This is a lovely portable machine with a serial number of EE633761.  I believe that it is a 3/4 size machine, and is a 99k.  The beautiful decals appear to be 'filigree' and this dates back to 1948.

There is a little damage to the wood surround - not enough to cause any problems mechanically, but I may have to get it tidied up if my fabric catches on it.  The side plate is beautifully engraved and this machine also appears to be in pretty good shape.  It needs a good clean and oil, then I can play!

It takes a drop in bobbin and came without the bobbin cover that I picked up cheaply on Ebay.

There is a motor and a light attached to the back of this machine and I would like to see if I can change it to a hand crank.  My first sewing machine was a Singer hand crank that I got for my (13th?) birthday.  I know that it cost my parents GBP12.00, and I made quite a few items with it including a 'baby doll' nightdress made from white cotton with little tennis racquets on it and a stripy top with a front neck slit and kimono sleeves in red/white/blue cotton.  Happy days!

I love this little compartment that you can keep all your goodies in!

And here are some of the goodies!!

Again I used Singer and ISMACS to identify the age of the machine, and this site to determine the model.