Thursday, January 18, 2018

Redirecting old clothes

I love to cut up the boy's (and mine) unwanted clothing and turn it into something I (or TLM) would be happy to wear.

But often I don't, because the shirt or jacket is in great condition - and wouldn't it be better to donate it to an op shop, who can sell it to someone who can't afford to buy "new" new clothes?

I'm going to stop doing that now, because apparently a huge proportion of donated clothing just doesn't get sold, but ends up in the landfill.

So I'm thinking that the green way to go would be to re-use our cast-offs - where possible - so that:

  • they don't end up in landfill, which is much more likely than I'd previously thought; and 
  • I consume much brand new fabric.
Last week I turned one of the boy's unwanted Calvin Klein t-shirts into a summer sleep singlet, and two more of his t-shirts into a baseball shirt for TLM (who, although it is high summer, will not expose her arms or legs so must wear long sleeves and trousers).

Undie odyssey part 2 -

There goes my plan to make a matching crop top and undies set.
The cotton/lycra fabric must be less stretchy than I thought, because when I sewed up undies #4 (using Acacia) in this it turned out to be a tad tight. On the other hand, the crop top is a little loose around the ribs and I think I over-shortened the shoulder straps. With the crop top though, it's because I'm still working out getting the fit just right and over-corrected.

Then I bought some more cotton/lycra (this time in an angel print), and sewed up undies #5.
Nope, a bit too loose. I suspect my measuring of the waist and pantleg bindings has been a wee bit inconsistent...

Also, I noticed a lot more rippling in undies #5. So even though the fabric should have good stretch and recovery something is letting me down. After reading on the 'Net and some of my sewing magazines, I've decided its because I shouldn't be stretching the pieces as I sew them.

I remembered that the rippling only started after I top-stitched the binding, so perhaps for the time being I will omit that step.

I did think maybe I need an overlocker, but first I'll try (in this order):

  1. sewing a lot more slowly, and moving the fabric along manually if it seems to be getting stuck under the foot
  2. using some of the stretch stitches (not just zig zag), now that I've gone back to the manual and read about them
  3. getting a stretch needle and twin needle
  4. a walking foot - this will take a while, as I have to find one that is compatible with a Bernina 1020. This machine is older than two of my workmates!

Saturday, January 06, 2018

On my new blog title

I decided to rename my blog, since my knitting has fallen away somewhat (due to the need to avoid wool in particular and animal fibres in general) so the old name is no longer very applicable.

One of my motivations for making my own clothes (even undies) has been to remove myself from that whole planet- and ethics-trashing trend that is fast fashion. So this blog's new direction is about trying to go greener (but I'll still blog about the family and other stuff).

Recently I made the decision to go vegetarian for my work lunches. This doesn't sound like much, but my family is heavily into meat, so breakfast is about the only meal I have that is mostly meat-free!

Then I switched from "normal" tampons to organic tampons - though it had to wait until it was possible to find a brand that wasn't a lot more expensive than the "normal" brands. Apparently organic cotton breaks down within about 5 years, a fraction of the time it takes for the normal cotton to break down. Since our rubbish is usually contained within plastic bags, I don't know that a quicker breakdown is actually realistic. But it's got to be better for my body, and for the people who produce the organic cotton right?

The next stage of my greening is switching from disposable menstrual products to reusable. I won't go all the way and get a moon cup, because to be honest I don't think I've got that many years left of periods. But I have ordered some fabric pads and once I start using them it'll reduce the amount of rubbish quite a lot for approximately one week per month.

Unfortunately the boy is not that interested in the path to green enlightenment (though he will buy free range food for my sake). But TLM is willing to humour me so there's hope she will take it further as she gets older and wiser.

Unselfish sewing

The Little Madam, now 12 1/2, is now big enough to wear women's clothing.
She isn't tall for her age, nor what you might call "well developed" for her age. In fact she's smaller than most of the kids in her age.

But she does fit a woman's size 8 (NZ sizing) in raincoats, almost fits a Warehouse pajama size XS  AND is almost too big to fit a Simplicity size XS.

Today I whipped up a raglan-sleeve tee for TLM using the raglan tee pattern from my Sew U Home Stretch book (by Wendy Mullin). I used the XS size and some polyester/elastane jersey that has a nice dark green-to-pale mint ombre colour effect on it.

I added self-fabric sleeve and hem bands because the body and sleeves were a bit short (to be fair, the original pattern has three quarter length sleeves), and also around the neck (instead of ribbing 'cos I had none). I had to cut down the neck because it would have been too small to go around her head. Not sure if this was user error, or that a XS woman has a much smaller head than a pre-teen of the same body size.

the collar stands up a bit as it's not ribbing, but I like to think of it as a low funnel neck...

it looks like I used contrast fabrics, but these are all cut from the same cloth, which is ombre dyed
Now that I have done my non-selfish sewing for the year I feel justified in going back to sewing undies and crop tops for moi.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

An undie odyssey

I have always liked the undies made by the likes of Thunderpants and Fanny Adams. They are super comfy and soft, and there's no tight elastic or wedginess. However I can't really afford to spend up to $28 per pair. Plus their undies only come in 4 sizes - if their hipster undies don't fit you perfectly they are going to fall down!

The other thing is that I hate wearing bras because they make me feel asthmatic. I basically just don't wear one if I can possibly get away with it (it helps to wear tops made from crisp wovens rather than super-drapey knits). I can get crop tops that fit but are made of synthetic fabric, which is a bit sweat-making in summer, or pretty cotton ones (from Thunderpants for example) that would be great except they don't fit me.

So all this is leading up sewing my own underwear.

I started out with Kwik Sew 3239 which is actually a swimsuit pattern. ( I may even use it to make a swimsuit one day - variations include crop top, halter neck bikini top, low cut boylegs, high cut boylegs, briefs, bikini bottoms and tankini).

I used a viscose and elastane fabric that was sitting around doing nothing ever since I realised that brown looks horrible against my skin tone -
these are the low cut boy legs. I raised it to a mid-waist.

These are the briefs, after I lowered the waist.

For both of these I used self fabric binding instead of elastic, for the Thunderpants look. Of course they otherwise don't resemble Thunderpants pants at all.

Then I had a go at making the crop top, using a combination of the above fabric plus an old black long sleeve t-shirt that I no longer wore -

The fit is almost perfect on me. I had to remove length from the shoulder straps, and veered between small and medium in size. The lower band is probably a bit wider than the pattern would recommend, but that's to accommodate my need for room about my rib cage.  The only thing I would change for the next one I make, would be to narrow the shoulder straps - either by cutting them narrower or by turning in the binding after sewing it in. I may also experiment with using the halter bikini to get a more plunging neckline in a future crop top.

I have also had a go at Megan Neilson's Acacia pattern for undies. This is your classic hipster brief, and the one I have decided to use in future undie-making. The shape is great (covers your bum, just the right about of rise, comfy to wear). However I don't have a photo for you because it's in the laundry basket (have already worn them twice since making them). As I did with the other undies above, I substituted the elastic for self fabric binding.

I've already cut out my next crop top and Acacia undies - it will be the first time I match top and bottom!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Pretty isn't it?

An unexpected pixie convert

My hair grew back in patches to start with, the boy shaving it back until I had pretty much 100% head cover.   Then I wouldn't let him shave it any more except to tidy it up around the edges (as you do with a lawn).

It's now about Annie Lennox length and - quite unexpectedly - the look seems to suit me!

I have always thought that I could not carry off a pixie cut, because when I looked at photos of women who looked great in super short hair I saw coltish girl-women with high cheekbones and large round eyes. 

I am have none of those features, yet ever since I had my "reveal" (i.e. going out in public without a wig or hat) I have had nothing but compliments (and that's taking into consideration the fact that my workmates are incredibly supportive people who wouldn't laugh out loud if I turned up looking ridiculous).

So this whole experience - despite the distress, self-consciousness, expense and physical discomfort - has thrown up an silver lining. It's resulted in me discovering a look that is both wind-defying and funky, and which goes really well with my sixties-inspired outfits and my Docs.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Squelching while the forest sings

It was my birthday yesterday, so the boy and TLM came on a nature walk with me. I wanted to go to this particular reserve because we don't go there very often (because it's on the other side of town and because you have to pay to enter). And because it was my birthday neither of them complained about it.

Of course they enjoyed it at least as much as I did. The muddy track was no match for our tramping boots; it was still, warm and sunny; and we could hear wildlife in surround sound.

I wished we could have stayed longer, maybe done a few additional tracks or even just stood around a bit more to match up the birds with their songs. But the boy has a tendency to rush through places and it would have been unrealistic to expect him not to this time around.

Still, it was a great 60 minutes.

Monday, October 09, 2017

It was calm but the sea was noisy

I took some leave this week, the second week of the school holidays. The boy, who had been underemployed forever, got a contract, then had the contract extended, then ran out of work again. So this is kind of a family staycation.

Which means that the boy can spend all week playing computer games instead of looking for work, and TLM (who turned 12 in August) is strongly asserting her right to spend her holidays on the couch with at least one wi-fi enabled device in her hands.

I spend some effort trying to get at least one of them out of the house sometimes, but it is easier if I just take myself for a whine-free walk and see where I end up.

My knees have been giving me gyp lately - I fear it's arthritis (nooooooh!It means I'm getting old!) but I am compelled to keep walking. Maybe its keeping the joints from getting worse. I hope so.

I walked to the beach, perhaps about an hour's walk, probably less if I hurry. It was surprisingly calm there - most often it's gusty enough to give you a good sandblasting (over-exfoliation ).

The surfers and boogie boarders were enjoying the surf; a naked toddler got her feet wet then ran away from the freezing water; and a little black terrier let me pat him on the back. Summer's a-comin'.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A wig is like a push-up bra

I know I look better when I'm wearing one that when I'm not...
but when I've been wearing one all day I just can't wait to take it off.

A brand new is always way too tight...
but once it's stretched out from wear it's almost comfortable.

If I was single and seeing someone new, I probably wouldn't want to take it off in front of him.

I'm always tugging at it surreptitiously throughout the day.

When I'm wearing one I kinda feel like I'm cheating...
so sometimes I go without just to show I don't care