Monday, October 29, 2012

Home Sewn, the book

In response to interest shown, here is a peek at the book I mentioned in my last post, Home Sewn.

The ten designers who contributed patterns are listed on the back.

The book begins with 12 pages outlining the history of home sewing in New Zealand.  Who sewed and why they did it, along with examples from several.  As one with a keen interest in the history and evolution of dress, this fascinates me. (I mean "dress" in its broadest sense, encompassing all body modifications - everything a person does that alters their body from its natural state.  That includes the temporary, such as hair styling and make up, as well as the permanent, such as tattooing and scarification.  Hmm, does it show that I really really enjoyed my Social Psychology of Clothing lectures?)  Twelve pages is not a comprehensive account, but it gives a very good outline of how things were in New Zealand and how that affected the desire or need to sew for oneself.

Then come the patterns, each with a brief profile of the designer.  This is Cybele Wiren's profile and design.
(As an aside, I have finished my dress, but I am not going to photograph it until I have made a nice wide obi-style belt to wear with it.)

This skirt, from Papercut Patterns, is also available for sale here.  Katie Brown, the designer of Papercut, is also responsible for developing the patterns, lay plans and tutorials in the book.  The book is also available for sale on the Papercut website, here.

This versatile dress from Starfish is another one which caught my eye.  It can be worn like this:

Or one of these ways.  My apologies for the really crappy photos.  I gave up in the end trying to get anything better.

I was really attracted to the line drawing of the main pattern piece.  This will be made just as soon as the appropriate fabric presents itself.

As will this striped skirt by Vaughan Geeson.  Those stripes are pieced. And curved.  Can't wait!

At the back are several photo tutorials covering techniques used in the book.

Patterns are printed on pattern sheets, with each pattern in a different colour.  I did find while tracing my dress that the two very similar pieces were so close together that I had to keep checking that I didn't veer off into the other piece as I traced.  Not a big deal, but it did require care.  Some patterns are multisized, but most are given in a single size - NZ10, 12 or medium, so you either need to fit that size or know how to grade.

The only thing that has so far caught my eye as an inconsistency is the difference between the photo of the T shirt from World:

And the line drawing.
I tried a dozen times to get better photos than these but this was the best I could do.  It appears to me that the T shirt in the photo has attached sleeves, which would give a closer fit than the cut on sleeves of the pattern.  I don't THINK I'm wrong about the seam, but its always possible!

Those paying attention will have noticed that the pattern lays are for a single layer - yay!  Most of the patterns appear to be given as full pieces as well, rather than half patterns to be cut on the fold.  (I haven't checked all of them, but the two I have traced are full pieces, as is everything else I've noticed.  The exception seems to be the Swirler (multi-wear) dress by Starfish, which is given as a half pattern, probably because its pretty big.  The pattern lay is single layer though.)

As I mentioned in my last post, instructions are minimal, making some of the designs challenging for beginners to sew.  But what fun to have my own Cybele dress for the princely sum of NZ$15 for the pattern (based on NZ$45 for the book, used for three patterns, therefore $15 each) and $3 for the fabric.  I love this book, and I love that this book has been written, and I am grateful that ten New Zealand designers each contributed a pattern to celebrate the long history of home sewing, and to help keep it going.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

An Embarrassment of WIPs

That should be a collective noun.  I recently made a dress for my friend J, and while she was visiting for "fittings" (which involved a fair bit of coffee drinking and Pinterest surfing as well as actual fitting) she mentioned wanting a jacket.  So I showed her a pattern I thought she'd like (#118 from BWOF 06/06, which is old enough that it no longer appears in the magazine archive) and shamefacedly confessed that I'd started it (in fabric she'd like) when the magazine came out.  I think I abandoned it because I wasn't sure about trim, but it may have been because I realised that the sew-in interfacing I'd chosen to underline it with was the wrong choice.  This is a light, loosely woven fabric which frays when you look at it.  A fusible knit interfacing would have been much better. So I did more work on it anyway before reaching the same trim dilemma, and I am seriously contemplating carefully unpicking everything and using fusible interfacing to underline.

Moving on, at the same time I dug out the jacket I came across the cut out pieces of this handbag.  (It's the Nairobi bag which was a free download from Hotpatterns several years ago).  My current handbag is from the same pattern and is looking pretty sad.  So (also an embarrassingly long time ago) I cut this one from curtain fabric.  It stalled because I needed to get appropriate interfacing.  This is J's and my signature favourite colour, and she LOVES butterflies, so this languishing in a box almost brought her to violence!

And of course the ongoing Alabama Chanin skirt.  Mostly getting worked on at craft nights.

This is a dress I started for Isabella.  Also a BWOF pattern (#136B from 01/09).  I bought this magazine when she was less than a year old and had to wait for her to grow into it.  And then another year or so to get around to it.  I finally started a couple of weeks ago and when I got to this point I thought I should check the (suspiciously small looking) neck opening would fit over her head.
We know where this is headed, don't we?  Not even close.  Opening was about 48cm, her head was about 54cm.  Dress tossed aside in disgust as I ponder how best to make the opening big enough without losing the look of the back section, which I like.  Fortunately I have plenty of fabric to recut any of the pieces I need.

And last but by no means least (is anyone still reading?) the current genuine Work In Progress.  It's been waiting a few weeks because I needed plenty of space for the pieces.  Two of them, which each take up most of my dining table. (My sewing for me time has been severely curtailed of late by curtains, school holidays and the mammoth task of relocating all the kids to different bedrooms)

Any guesses as to what this might be?  I LOVE patterns which are impossible to figure out at a glance!  This is going to be a dress.  This dress:

It's one of ten patterns in this book "Home Sewn", which is a celebration of the history of home sewing in New Zealand.  It gives a brief history of the subject, and the patterns, along with a short interview with each designer.  It appeals to me on so many levels!  One of which is as a future historical reference.  It's a snapshot of now, albeit brief, and it is specifically about New Zealand - YAY for local history!  The book is for sale at Papercut Patterns. I got mine from Global Fabrics in Dunedin.

This dress (the first of at least three projects I am planning to make) is by Cybele Wirren.  (See her website here).  I'm going to make a wide obi or corset style belt to wear with it.  One side the same fabric as the dress, the other something funky.

The patterns are really interesting - as far as I can tell, they are more like industry style patterns, with varying seam allowances, and notches marking them.  They're all printed on large pattern sheets, like magazine patterns, with each design in a different colour.  My only quibble is that the two pattern pieces for this dress are very similar, and were printed so close to on top of each other that I had to check several times that I didn't mix them up.  Minor quibble!  Instructions are concise and clear, but brief.  This is all you get, so not for beginners.  Hugely fascinating for those with a little experience!

So there you go, yet another blog post proving that I have a short attention span and a constant need to get on with the next thing, sometimes well before finishing the last thing.  Oh yes, and I've also decided that it's time I made myself a corset, you know, because.  I have Norah Waugh's Corsets and Crinolines out of the library and my pattern from it enlarged and ready to start playing with.  I got spiral steel boning from the States *ahem* several years ago.