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Posts Tagged ‘sewing in 2017’

In the last few weeks we have had exactly two days of some respite from heat–we were almost delirious with joy due to this event. But now it’s gone and summer continues apace in our part of the world. A few weeks ago, I finished a dress I started for N way back when, and then put aside because of other more immediate demands. I wasn’t sure how much wear she would get out of this, this year, but by the looks of it, she might be able to wear it for at least another month.DSC_0026

DSC_0017The highlight here for me is the fabric. It’s a unusual shade of brown, somewhere between brown and yellow ochre. The golden polka dots are on the duller side, not too bright but you can see them in certain light. I had a different red lace in mind but unfortunately didn’t have enough and so settled for red rickrack to go with the red buttons. The fabric comes from the Kilol shop in Greater Kailash II market. (For those of you interested and having access to Kilol- did you know it sells fabric by the metre? Not all of its branches, but apparently some.) It wasn’t very cheap, but they do have some lovely block printed stuff. The slightly annoying downside is that despite a few washes the colour continues to run, which means it requires hand washing. DSC_0036The pattern is something I have used before (yes, happens often in my case, I know!) and comes from Happy Homemade vol 2. It’s a simple unfussy dress that’s lovely to wear and easy to make. The book itself, as I have said many times before is fantastic. It’s perhaps the one that I have used the most, and is on my highly recommended list. DSC_0016N quite likes it, and is here lounging on our bed atop a quilt that I finished recently. It has been impossible to photograph, but I am glad to be done with two more WIPs – the dress and a very long term quilt. Will try to get more photos of it soon!DSC_0003Dasara is around the corner and then Diwali. We have some travel planned, and I have some serious house cleaning on my mind. We shall see!

Asmita/xx

 

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Our three-year old, no longer a baby, M got a bunch of clothes recently. I made all of them, except one, from the same book, so today I thought I could do a book review of sorts.

I got this book from my last trip to Tokyo in May, the chief attraction of it being the fact that it has several unisex patterns, some of which start at 80cms and run up all the way to size 150cms. N’s t-shirt that was featured in the last entry came from here too, following which I made a few things for M.

First up, the tops:

Besides the t-shirt that I made for N, I made M this loose fitting shirt for M, titled in the book as “cook’s shirt.”

DSC_0025 With a double breasted button placket, supposed to mimic a chef’s uniform, the shirt was pretty easy to put together–good instructions, enough pictures, that kind of a thing. The top technically opens all the way down in the front, but given that these little hands are desperately trying to put buttons on and take them off all the time–still somewhat unsuccessfully, I decided to stitch down the placket for the bottom half while still keeping the buttons. So now thankfully, there are only four top buttons to fiddle with.

The fabric is a light and lovely printed voile that my sister-in-law gifted me ages ago; the buttons come all the way from Taiwan, a gift from another friend.

The second top is even simpler. It is a simple A-line blouse with a back closure.

 

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Given how easy this was to make, and how wonderfully it showcases a special fabric (in this case a double gauze submarine print brought on my Tokyo trip) I had high hopes from this blouse and thought it would be my favourite. Except that, I find the top a wee bit short, and perhaps a tad too feminine. The girl version, in the book shows gathered sleeves with cuffs at the wrists, and I think I might like this one on N more than on M. Oh well, he doesn’t care really for very much except the submarines, and would rather wander around in a skirt than pants on most days. And, who am I say to no to a feminine touch on boys clothing? Plus, its double gauze, summery and we all love blue. So, I would say it works well, and is in heavy rotation.

Having said that, I would still like to add my two bit (reminder to myself and others out there possibly interested in the book): check to see the length if more needs to be added–prior to cutting, of course. M was exactly 100cms when I made it, and that’s the size I cut. It’s been about three weeks since I made it, and its already too short. I might add a band in contrasting fabric at the bottom. Two, the sleeve width runs on the side of narrow. This would not, I think matter to a overall skinny kid, but it did for M. This surprised me, since I am so used to sewing for N, and she kind of floats in Japanese patterns. But my over all sense from the tops in this book is that they might not be as broad as in some other books, which is something to keep in mind for future sewing.

And, now over to pants. (I promise we are done with the bicycle photos for some time now.)

DSC_0165These pants were actually the first thing I made from the book. Titled as “Thai pants” they have again two options: either two side pleats, or a gathered front. I opted for the latter, and it produced a rather cute pair of everyday pants with an elastic waist. They sort of balloon at the waist and then taper to become quite narrow at the ankles.

The grey ones are in mangalgiri cotton and the blue fabric is also cotton but slightly stiffer than mangalgiri with less drape. I got both at HP Singh in Nehru place (see here for a write up on Delhi cloth markets).

Unfortunately, as I write this, both pants are no longer in use. After a few wears, they both tore at exactly the same place–right near the seam at the crotch. I.e the tear was in the fabric, which meant that they were unrepairable. I am still wondering if I should have cut them on cross grain, without which there was too much stress on the fabric when the boy was playing around and doing leg splits (in imitation of his sister). I had initially loved the look of these, and given their simplicity was planning to make one for N too. Not surprisingly, older sister has refused this pattern! I won’t be making these anytime soon (unless perhaps I find some very small baby to sew for–someone is the 80cms range, who is not quite as rambunctious)! But besides that I need to figure out what went wrong with these. Because they are so cute!

And that’s about it in terms of the book review. Despite the failure with pants, I still like this new addition to my collection of Japanese books. It has a good mix of standards, and for those interested also carries three patterns in adult sizes. And, I do like all the tops I made from it. There are still a few other pants to try, and I definitely want to make the blouse with cuffed sleeves for N. It will be good for cooler weather which I hope comes soon.

Asmita/xx

 

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Sometimes the most time consuming part for me is the tracing out the pattern. It means making enough space on the dining table at the time of the day when M is not running around. And, it has to be daytime, because by night I am too tired to trace out patterns. Motivation usually kicks in by the time I have cut the fabric after which I am eager to get to get to the sewing machine. (This actually even happens with sometimes M on my lap!).

Something similar happened to the dress here.

DSC_0033Back in April, I added length to a previously traced size 6 of the Mini Southport dress pattern. You can see it here.  All of four months went past until, in August, I realised that it was going to be too short. I dragged myself back to the table for more tracing (because by this time, as is often the case, Ms. N had remembered the fabric we had chosen and was wondering what happened to the dress).

I should mention that I tried to push it off to next year because mosquito season is upon us, and I tried to convince her that she won’t be able to wear it much. Honestly, I was also not feeling much upto making something that I hadn’t thought of for a while. But, as luck would have it, her luck that is, I also remembered that I don’t have much of this fabric and it may not be enough next year for the said dress. And so eventually between her pushing for it, and me giving in, first somewhat unwillingly and then quite eagerly (as is often the case), the whole start to finish took less than a few days.DSC_0018

DSC_0013I suppose the current version could also be slightly longer, but I think the length looks good on her. The fabric is lovely Alexander Henry, if I am not wrong (but, I entirely unsure since I forgot to save the selvage and can’t find details of it anywhere). I have held on to it for a good six years because I loved it so much, but it was time to make something of it. And, I agree with N, the dress suits the fabric well.

The pattern instructions, for anyone making it the first time are very clear, and in general I like the fit of True Bias patterns on N. (These pants were a super hit and I plan to make more). I would say the same about the dress. Version 1 still hangs in her cupboard and while it is incredibly short she wears it plenty.

And so here she is–chatting with M as I am trying to take photos.

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DSC_0030I have to say I am pretty pleased it got off my to-do pile as well. The fact that she has worn it almost non stop since it got made means that it was worth it.

Which really brings me to the question that I have really been pondering over. What and how do you really decide what you are going to sew next? As I read blogs of other sewists, I know a lot of you sew because you don’t buy anymore for your kids. I do the same for N, not only because I like sewing for her, but also because it saves some serious amount of money. But it also means that many choices are dictated by the need of the moment, and so for instance, the reason why I was hesitant to go ahead with this dress was because the girl needs pants and full sleeves shirts, and not, in my mind, a sleeveless dress! (With M, I am incredibly lucky because he gets fantastic hand me downs).

But, then on the other hand, there is also what your child wants you to sew, right? Not just in terms of pattern of a dress or a particularly style or fabric, but increasingly, what does he/she want? I am sure most sewists, including me want to accomodate that desire, because let’s face it: there comes a time surely when you don’t want your mom to be sewing for you? So while N loves for most part what I make, and can be quite exact and demanding at times, the time when she doesn’t care much about what I make may not be too far away.

And then, last but not the least, there is small but significant aspect of this business of sewing which is entirely selfish, right? That, I am not sewing for my child, but really I am sewing for myself because I really really like to do this. But between negotiating what the wearer needs and what the wearer wants, I often feel quite lost in terms of what I want to make. Or at the very least, what I want to make comes the lowest priority.

I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way. Certainly, I hope not to be! But I always wonder how others negotiate this, and would love to hear from others.

Thanks for stopping by. Happy sewing!

Asmita/xx

 

 

 

 

 

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Hello Hello. It’s been a long summer. We went away for most of it (to Pune, as always) and just returned two Sunday’s back to a terribly hot and humid Delhi.I am trying to inch my way back into everyday life, but it looks like its going to happen really slowly. M and N started school the very next day,  but it’s taken M a few days to really settle into things. I think with the really long seven week break, he forgot that he ever went to school in the first place 🙂 While very little sewing got done in Pune (despite plans–oh, always there are plans!), I did manage to do a bit of prep so a few things are ready to be sewn.

July is a big birthday month for us as both kids have their birthdays this month. Ms. N having already had hers on the 1st, is already nine. 9!! I feel like each year passes by so quickly and here she is another year older.DSC_0111DSC_0081Birth-day this year was more like a week long celebration this year. She had three separate do-s in Pune, plus one small celebration this week in school. All birthday parties were super low key and fun, but yes, there were THREE separate events (not to mention the one in school!

The final Pune do was on the morning of her actual birthday at my grandmother’s house. We had breakfast from her favourite South Indian restaurant and some cake. My grandmother turned 92 this year, and for the last few years N has wanted to have her birthday party at her house. I wish I had a few decent photos to keep and share, but as with any occasion where everyone is having fun, there are sadly none.DSC_0095I do have photos however, of before we just left for my grandma’s place that morning and this is the dress she wore. I made it in a fabric of her choice, but one that I had not expected her to pick out. Pink is not her favourite colour, and the checks pattern figures pretty low on her list, but she chose this fabric herself. (I gave up on surprises a while ago now, having had not such good luck with them). The reason I think is this is the softest, lightest double gauze that she, or for that matter I, has ever laid hands on. And, so the real attraction here is in the kind of fabric. Oh, and the flutter-y sleeves- very summery!

The pattern “r” comes from happy homemade vol.2. (Here is the link to the English version.) I have made several things from this book before, and haven’t run into problems before so this one went pretty easily too. I haven’t made a dress with fluttery sleeves for her in a long time for her (the last time was when she was a wee little thing of 2), so it was nice to try out this sleeve style again. In general, I think they look better on slightly more chubby arms but oh well. She does ballet four times a week, and started swimming lessons. Not to mention that all other times she is upside down. So these are strong arms, and that’s good! Oh, and I think I should have stuck to the 110cm size instead of moving up to 120cms because it sort of sags a bit on her shoulder, but oh well, again. DSC_0103She does seem to like it well enough and that’s more important than getting the perfect dress.DSC_0091Which brings me to getting some things ready for the second birthday that is coming up really soon. Again, M is a bit clued out about birthday’s still, but no one is more excited than N. It really is quite amazing that she is now 9–my sweet, sensitive and caring child. Happy birthday to dearest N.

Asmita/xx

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April was a pretty special month for baby M. He started play school. He is still only two, well, he will be three this July, so in reality it is a playgroup where he goes for two hours every morning to “play” with other kids his age, share tiffins, feed rabbits, and the like. DSC_0044Still, it is a big event and I wanted to make him something special to mark the occasion. I have been eyeing this bag for the last several years, but somehow N was never at the right age for this when the book came out, and I never got around to making one for her.DSC_0037Well, I am so glad I did now. It’s the perfect size for the toddler age group and fits his snacks tiffin and a water bottle nicely. And it was a lot of fun to make. I have made a few other things too from the excellent book I mention above, and really to me, there is no better teacher than Liesl. I even managed the dreaded zipper quite well! The only two small additions/ changes I made were to add a rickrack on the front piece for the sake of some visual interest, and to “bind” the straps with a bit of velvet ribbon. And of course, I added M’s name to it. DSC_0004

DSC_0014Cars, are M’s thing (probably true for a lot of little boys), and so I was delighted to unexpectedly find some old Echino fabric in my stash. It was just enough for the outside and the pocket inside. The fabric is canvas weight with 55% linen but somehow it still felt pretty drapey; I wasn’t sure if that was enough weight to hold the shape of the bag so I used iron-on interfacing for the lining. The fabric for straps which is 100% linen also comes from my stash, as does the one I used for lining. I have no memory of where I got both, which means I have had them for long.DSC_0051M, I think, quite likes it. He is not quite vocal in expressing his feelings about it, but the fact that he wants to take it to school every single day must mean that there is some love there.DSC_0053

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I am truly happy to report that baby M has taken to his playgroup like a fish to water, and we are seeing growing signs of independence day by day. And so, now for obvious reasons he cannot be called a baby anymore!

Asmita/xx

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a quilt

I am the kind of person who loves embarking on quilts, but then, when I am about half way done interest wavers, I feel unsure about the design I have chosen, my fabric choices feel too boring, and it all feels too unwieldy both in terms of time and size. Needless to say,  I give up.

What follows in a long period of this half-done-thing, not yet really a quilt, sitting in my cupboard, taking up space. Until one day, I am out of my hibernating period and I start work on it like a mad woman. The funny thing is: I am usually, very very pleased with the results–well, its been sitting around for so long that practically everything about it feels brand new!

Well, something similar happened to this one here. dsc_0004dsc_0011The story of this goes all the way back around 2010 (ok, this is one of my oldest). I bought the wool pieces while still living in Brooklyn, smitten as I was by this free tutorial and the idea of entirely hand sewing it. It was a big investment. The felted wool came from here (originally from Australia, a fact that I am discovering only now); it is incredibly lovely and soft, and I believe, hand dyed. Oh yes, and all that also means expensive. Still I jumped into it, with plans of finishing it and making a winter quilt for Ms. N, all in 2010. The cutting happened first and fast. It’s really a whole bunch of 4″squares (225 in all, to be precise). Then came the layout, all still easy. And then began the sewing. The tutorial instructions are great, with very detailed photos of how to put the two pieces together. But once you get that, it’s really just a whole lot of hand sewing. To say that it went slowly, verrry slowly, is an understatement. Because while it is one of those projects that one can carry with oneself wherever goes, and the process itself is relaxing (maybe even meditative), truth be told, it’s also quite boring.dsc_0025dsc_0013The pattern, if one may call it that, doesn’t call for a binding. There is only one layer, so technically there is nothing to “bind,” but with two kids and possibility of play, I decided to add one anyway to give it some more stability. The stitching is done with cotton embroidery thread which is sturdy enough, but I didn’t want to take any chances of unraveling at its edges. And, just because the wool is so lovely to begin with, I decided that border would be in lovely Liberty, of which I had a tiny amount of. The final quilt is about a 60″ square (with 15 pieces in one row).dsc_0015Of course, I love *love* the end result. We all do! There is just something so beautiful about the colours, and there is tremendous appeal in a design as simple as this. In the end, it really is just all about the wool, and I do think that the hand sewing does add its own bit of charm. Even my sometimes impatient stitches such as these.dsc_0019Having finally finished it, Ms. N cannot believe that it was meant for her to sleep under at one point (It just about barely covers her head to toe now.) It’s too large for Baby M, and so for now we have had to put it away. Come winter we will use it to keep warm during daytime, or for extra warmth on cold nights.

I really do wish I had finished this one sooner. But, I suppose there is a time for everything, and its now time to cherish it. And as embarrassed as I am to admit it, I should mention here that what really got me going this year was the fact that late November last year I discovered that the moths had gotten to it. If you look closely, you will notice extra small pieces of wool sewn over in places. dsc_0017dsc_0001Well yes, they, the industrial moths ate away tiny bits of the wool. So what you see, is the remedial work that had to be done to save the piece. Basically I had to cut smaller pieces of wool in the same colour (I no longer had larger pieces to entire replace the damaged squares) and sew them to the damaged part like attaching a bandaid. It looks fine–a good reminder in fact to not let things linger too long–and I was very very lucky to have caught this at the right moment.

So, that’s that. Finished, finally, a full seven years later after it started. I am happy to report that I have yet another WIP close to finish, and I will be able to show you that soon too. What are you working on these days? I would love to hear.

Asmita/xx

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