Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Delays, distractions, distasters and doldrums

There is a horrible thing lurking in the corner of my sewing room.
I am ignoring it, but it seems to be casting an evil influence over the output, even when I turn it to face the corner.


I often make sensible, practical sewing plans, completely unrelated to any nasty UFOs in the corner. Just recently, for example, it became glaringly obvious to me whilst viewing jacket and top photographs that my 2009 jeans had really seen better days.

I decided to make another pair of jeans. Jeans are not my most flattering garment. I rarely wear them when another garment would do, but they are almost required wear for some circumstances.
I delayed. I made a denim skirt. I wore it to a 40th party last week - outdoor barbeque, where every other person was wearing jeans, and felt just fine.
(Thanks for the styling tips, I think Tropical threads really hit the nail on the head though - thick and cosy winter clothes look bulky whatever you do, and a person of my figure does not do bulky well)
However, this month I have an occasion where jeans are required, as part of a uniform, the other half of which is a bright yellow sponsor t shirt. I know this will look quite awful, but thought at least my new jeans would improve things slightly.
I was wrong.
I used my favourite trouser pattern, from which my 2009 jeans are constructed (BWOF 4-2009-118). First I ran out of fabric.
I pieced one leg, and added some distracting decorative machine stitches overlaid with some hand embroidery. I enjoyed this bit, although realising that it would detract from the usefulness of the garment.
Then I tried topstitching with my 1951 Singer. I bought this Singer for topstitching and the cool feet, but have a rather unsatisfactory relationship with it so far -
it does this sort of thing far too often. I think it is a clapped out 1950's Singer.

I read rather too much on the internet about refurbishing Singer sewing machines, then reminded myself that my hobby is sewing, not sewing machine repair, and that I was on a deadline for these jeans. I got out my other Singer, #28, circa 1933, which my husband bought me because he liked the look of it. I encourage these sort of purchases.
I had not used it to actually construct anything, as it is handcranked.
It has a shuttle bobbin, which is quite fascinating to use.
It topstitched beautifully. I now know why people rave about their Singers.

Unfortunately, despite the pleasures in construction, and my previous sucess with this pattern, the jeans are so unflattering (stiffer denim perhaps?) that my teenage fashion panel not only advised me to wear a knee length tunic over the top, but imposed a veto on the publication of a photograph of myself wearing them. Apparently this would be embarassing to my offspring.
I am to ask for an XXXXL t shirt.

"They look fine in real life Mum" did not sound terribly convincing after these instructions.

I wanted something quick and useful for my next project. Something new, I trawled the internet, speaking sternly to myself about my pattern diet when BMV's $ 4.99 sale popped up, and came across a real treat. Katherineh had published a very useful pattern, free. How clever and generous. I had been restraining myself from buying a Jalie pattern for just this thing due to innate stinginess and my pattern diet.
I printed it out. It was strangely small. I checked my print instructions - A4, no scaling, no shrinking, the print out remained very small. I made it up anyway, being a bit desperate by this point. It went together very nicely, the drafting was perfect. Yes, it was very small. This had to be my mistake.
I sought technical advice. The printer itself had been set up to half pages - quite independently of any computer mediated instructions for particular print jobs. I felt inept.
So in case you were wondering, half page print out of size 6 boys trunks are a pretty good fit for a 12 inch teddy. This will stop that bear from lounging around naked.

I gave up. There are 7 patterns on their way from Vogue. It was that or chocolate. In fact it might have been that AND chocolate.


LisaB said...

Oh Karen. I feel for you, but that bear and his trunks are priceless. I also have a naked bear around here, but alas, he is not 12 inches. I shall have to find some other way to clothe him.

shams said...

Ahhh, Karen. I feel for you too. The skirt is so cute, too bad it doesn't quite work. I love that embroidery! Maybe you should soak it in some cola? The acid in the cola is supposed to soften denim. :)

Mary Nanna said...

I *love* posts like this they always make me laugh because they are SO familiar. Who hasn't bought unco-operative fabric, realised they didn't have enough, got creative but it didn't quite work and then found the tension on their machine is totally bugg$red? Maybe not all at once, mind, but still, if my son could talk more elequently I'm sure they'd be times he'd say "not for the Internet mum."

It sounds like I might have to wait for the teen years for that piece of wisdom.

Ruthie said...

I've made 2 pairs of jeans from trouser patterns. Mind they don't look great - I wore one pair in London. My best fitting pair of jeans I bought to fit my thighs (widest bit) removed the waistband except for the 2 inches by the button, took in the side and back seams (unpicking all the topstitching and resewing it)and reattached the waistband multiple inches shorter. I wear these a lot but they still need a belt (I couldn't believe how many inches I needed to remove).
Could you make jeans from a snug fitting trouser pattern, and have some dark rinse trouser jeans?
Also I have overdyed my faded jeans with navy dye, this made them darker (and more slimming on thighs) as well as softening the denim. The stitching did not dye and they look quite good. I've done this to all 3 of my passable RTW jeans now.

Carolyn said...

Fabulous!! Your posts always put a smile on my face and give me a chuckle! Sorry the pants didn't work out, but I did lol literally when I scrolled down to see the teddy wearing them...
Sorry about the jeans, and yes, good denim (like the old saying regarding a man) is very hard to find. I think quite substantial in weight but still with some stretch is essential for good jeans. And speaking of which yours (man, not denim) must be a real treasure, buying you sewing machines and all. Jealous!

littlebetty said...

Still laughing! I'm sure that cute teddy is stoked about his new undies.

Sue said...


Janine said...

Naughty teddy bear .
Teenage fashion police are honest if nothing else . Your denim skirt looks lovely - could you wear this instead of the jeans with the T shirt.

BetsyV said...

Karen I am sorry, but I laughed out loud, I had to.

You have given me an idea though. I am going right upstairs to inspect the printer and see if there's something wrong with its pea-sized brain, that it isn't taking "no scaling" instruction from the computer. I've been having slight issues too. Not half-page issues, but issues nonetheless.

Carolyn said...

Hi Karen, I came back to show my daughter this, and we both laughed again at the teddy story... too priceless!
I also came back because I omitted to mention before that I think your new outfit looks just wonderful with the khaki top on underneath. The colours just work beautifully, and it looks more flattering than the red top of the previous post. I do think the red top will look great with the skirt on its own. Sorry, I didn't mention it before, very rude of me; but your very witty teddy story just stole the limelight... I'm still chuckling!

Handmade said...

Very funny and very cute. Good luck with your next endeavour - lovely Singer Sewing Machine ... and chocolates and Vogues sound like the perfect medication!

Mary said...

Love how you have styled the denim skirt in this post. The colors and the lines are so flattering to you. I appreciate what you have been through on the jeans project, and commiserate. I sometimes go through all these steps *in my mind*, and then not even begin a project. !

Who hasn't run into these gremlins from time to time??? :-)

The Slapdash Sewist said...

Oh dear, that is quite the run of bad luck. I am amused by the bear's new trunks.