Monday, February 21, 2011

Gah! Machine Failure!

My sewing machine died today.

It sews 2 stitches, then the threads get caught around the bobin, and it gets all tangled and angry. I have tried rethreading it, I have tried putting a different needle in, i took the plate off and got rid of all the little bits of fluff, I tried tightening and loosening the tension on the bobin, I tried both of sides of the tension plates for the needle thread, I tried different stitches, and I held the threads tightly, so that they weren't getting sucked into the first few stitches. Nothing worked. I came to the conclusion that the needle thread isn't being released properly by the bobin casing each stitch. So I end up with many of them, all wrapped around the bobin, which is bad and my machine makes a scary sound and generally, it just isn't good.

Now, normally this wouldn't cause me a great problem. I'd just take the machine in to be serviced (which I really should have done months ago, because the last service was seriously a decade ago. Scary to think that I've had the machine long enough to have a service a decade ago - and that was after having the machine for at least 5 years. (It's and Optima 190 - they were made in the mid eighties, so the machine is about the same age as I am.)  But, now, the fact that I will be sewing machine less is freaking me out - I have exactly one weeks worth of clothing that I can wear to my new office, real, adult job! I was planning to sew another 2 or 3 outfits this week. But now, I can't.

Totally increasing my stress levels.

Hope all your machines are working well!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Me-Made-March 2011

I somehow didn't publish this post, even though I actually participated in Me-Made-March,a nd gave you a quick wrap up of it. So here, very very late, is my Me-Made-March pledge:

I, fyrefairee from, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-March '11. I endeavour to wear as much hand made clothing as possible, with the exception of undergarments, tights, and possibly cardigans, each day for the duration of March 2011. I also endeavour to make and wear at least one accessory (bag, brooch, hair clip) each day, and to build myself a working corporate/ work wardrobe.

Last Friday, I excitingly and frighteningly started a new job as an executive assistant. Which means that almost all of my current wardrobe is not work appropriate. I spent too many hours on Saturday walking from shop to shop to shop (something that I haven't done since before taking the Wardrobe Refashion pledge), despairing more and more because nothing fitted, nothing suited, and the few things that were even vaguely reasonable were so overpriced it made me want to cry a little. Unless the cardigan is made of silk, there is nothing to warrant it being $80. Nothing. There isn't enough fabric, or labour in it to warrant that price tag.

So, I came to the conclusion that I would have to make most of my work attire. So, this challenge comes at a perfect time for me: by March I should have enough clothing to actually be able to wear self-stitched creations all months.

And, because I was already planning to create as much of my own wardrobe as possible, I decided to stretch and challenge myself by also wearing one accessory - a hair clip, a brooch, a bag, whatever - each day.

Me-Made-March is being hosted by Zo, from So, Zo... What do you know? and you can sign up here.

Excited? I know I am!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Some Aprons

I made two aprons for Christmas presents - one for my father, and one for my grandfather. Guys are really hard to hand make for, so aprons seemed like a great option. Living in Australia, many of the interwoobs suggestions about hand made Christmas presents for guys just don’t work - scarves and blankets are totally the wrong time of year, wrong weather. This Christmas was relatively cold, and we got a bit of rain, but it was still up around 20 〫C. So, not really scarf or blanket weather. Hence, the decision to make aprons.
These were sewed the night before Christmas Eve, at about 1am. I was sick (I managed to get sick four days before Christmas - worst timing ever), so taking photos was really the last thing on my mind. I managed a few photos of the process, well, the cutting out really, and then I gave up.
I even forgot to get after shots of one of them - it was the same green Christmas fabric as the napkins, with bias binding (made by me) of the red napkin fabric. I gave that one to my grandfather, as part of a matching ‘set’ with my grandmother’s present of a set of eight Christmas Tree napkins.
The other apron I sewed was for my father. I made it out of a navy drill, added a pocket, and used a blue and red spotty stripy on white bias binding to finish the edges and the top of the pocket.
To start with, I took an existing apron, and used it as a template, by lying it on top of my fabric.

Then, I cut around the existing shape - I made it a bit longer, but otherwise maintined the original apron shape. If I had more time, I probably would have made a paper pattern to use, but at 1am, using the original as a pattern seems like a much better idea.

Because I was using a full apron as my template, it was a little uneven or asymmetrical, so I folded it in half, cut the curved bits so they were even, and laid it flat again. 
Next, I cut a rectangle of fabric for the pocket. I bound one edge, and folded the other three under. I placed it in roughly the middle of the apron (I was eyeballing it, so it might be slightly off centre), and pinned it down. Then, I sewed about 1mm from the edge of the folds, and the apron had a pocket. I also gave up taking photos at this point.
Next, I bound all of the straight edges of the apron - so, the sides, bottom and top. I sort of did the thing with the corners that means they are all neat. For the life of me, I can’t remember what it is called though. I used a top stitch only, rather than sewing the binding down and then top stitching it.
Lastly, I bound the curved sections. I decided roughly how long the neck loop should be, and made that the middle of my bias binding strip. I then pinned everything in place, with a decent overhang for the ties. Again, I only used a top stitch.
And, with that, I had 2 aprons. And it was only 230am or so...

The Christmas Aprons went down really well, and my aunt put in an order for an apron for her birthday, which is in early February. I asked if there was anything she specifically wanted in an apron, and she said that she wanted a pocket.

My aunt really likes red - in fact, most of my mother's side of the family does. So, I went looking for red fabric - and ended up with a blue, white, beige and red striped fabric. I also had some red fabric left over from sewing the Christmas aprons, so I decided to use the red as a contrast fabric.

I follow a ton of sewing blogs (I really do, there's heaps of them. They are awesome, and really inspirational. I probably spend an hour or so each day reading sewing blogs, getting inspiration. I've recently taken to saving pdf files of any post I think is awesome, because bookmarks don't really work for me.) In my blog-surfing, I came across this awesome tutorial for a fun, gathered apron. I decided that was what I was going to base my aunt's apron on.

I made a few changes - the main one being I added a pocket and didn't put the ruffle on the bottom. I also made the apron fully reversible.

Side One - Mum thought that the excess  from the strap looked like it needed something hanging from it. So, given the buttons are a tea cup and tea pot, I thought a tea diffuser would be perfect.

Side One

Side One

Side Two

Side Two

Side Two

And, lastly, I added a pair of buttons, because the neck strap was too long.

Cute, huh?