July 2018 | Mismatched Buttons (A Monthly Journal)
A mid-winter of makes
Since my professional commitments settled down, I've had a little more time to faff about at Brooklyn B-B-Buttons HQ, as well as take a little time out to go on a sewing retreat, and it's been lovely! So without further ado...
A special sewing retreat project: Ready to Sew Jack Trench Coat
When my sewing buddy Emma of Emma's Atelier invited me to a sewing retreat in Wairarapa, I was like HELL YEAH! It would be two days where I would sew EVERYTHING! A coat, a skirt, a blouse or two, a sweater a-n-d I would complete my jeans class homework (oh yeah, I started a Jeans Making course! More on that later).
Ha! I crack myself up with my over-the-top sewing plan. With a day or two to go before the retreat, I bowed to the inevitable and realised I would have time to prep and sew one project so I settled on the Jack Trench Coat from Ready to Sew. I used a beautiful, fluid tencel twill from Blackbird Fabrics (gods I love that shop) in the Cedar colourway. When doing a project as special as a coat I like to (and am lucky enough to be able to choose to) use a really beautiful fabric for the lining as well, so I chose a luscious Atelier Brunette purchased from Miss Maude.
Driving out to the retreat was a hilarious, and slightly hysterical trip: my hatchback was packed to the gunnels with three sewists, six sewing machines, bags of sewing tools and sewing projects, food for three days, and clothes, pillows and bedding for the three of us, an iron, an ironing board and a cutting mat. My car was so packed I couldn't see out the rear-view mirror—I wish I had a photo of it. About an hour and a half into the night drive, the street-lights finished, the cell coverage dropped out and it was rural, baby. We got spooked by grazing cows, sheep and horses, thought we had found the South Coast, realised we hadn’t, thought we'd gotten lost, turned back, realised we weren't lost, turned around again, made it through a patch of road the locals call the Glue Pot and finally, after the mild hysteria of townies in the country at night without cell coverage, we found the Tora Coastal Walk.
The retreat was so lovely. Set on a private farm just in from the bottom of the coast of the North Island, as part of the Tora Coastal Walk, we stayed in the Shearers' Cottage. The farm belongs to Maddie's parents, and also on the retreat were Ruby and Robyn (along with Emma). We took over the vast kitchen table with four sewing machines, four overlockers, huge amounts of sewing projects, and innumerable sewing tools. Maddie's parents were such kind and generous hosts, making sure we were well-stocked with firewood and providing a beautiful roast dinner with their family on the Saturday night. So much sewing got done by all, with Emma taking the blue ribbon for most sewing done in a single weekend (Ruby a close second) and I was delighted to make a significant dent in my Jack coat before we headed home.
I did finish this coat before the end of the month, and will dedicate A Self-Covered Button post to it in due course, but I think this photo captures something of how much I love Jack! I'm just wanting some slightly less goofy photos of me wearing it.
New Pants Urgently Needed
My pants-supplies went from low and hypothetically problematic, to actually critical when I wore through my last pair of RTW pants. I had been resisting buying any new pants, knowing this is one of the frontiers in garment I wanted to conquer this year. But I kept procrastinating my travels to that frontier, saying to myself, "It's okay, these pants will last a little longer...", right up until the inner-thighs of the final pair wore all the way through.
So it was very timely that my jeans-making course at Made Marion with The Dreamstress began a week or so after. I'm quite introverted, so the combined energy and focus of dealing with people that I don't know alongside trying to sew an unfamiliar garment, means I do struggle a bit with a class atmosphere, but it's worth it for the new information that can be garnered from very clever teachers.
I chose to make the high-rise Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Patterns, and it's been great to have the support of the talented Leimomi to tweak the pattern to fit me right. I have a smaller waist, larger bottom, legs that are slender compared to that larger bottom, and round-calves, meaning some really crazy fit challenges that would probably have stumped me. I've learnt so much already from the fitting sessions of this class and have already gained enough confidence to try my hand at solo-pants-sewing...
I've also decided to start some Guise Pants from Papercut Patterns. I was able to try on Emma's while at the retreat and thought that a slightly cropped pair in some of The Fabric Store's beautiful heavyweight linen would be just the ticket for my upcoming trip to autumnal Vancouver. I've selected the Pickle colour way and now that I've plunged into cutting and making, to be really honest, I'm having doubts—the question, "do they look like poo pants?" keeps running through my mind. Gah! I just don't know! I do like the contrasting fabric I've chosen for the pockets, though—it’s a soft pink and green stripe in the photo below, a remainder of my quilting days (which I still may return to…).
My ambivalence about the colour of the linen has had the benefit of making me less cautious about new techniques like welt pockets and fly fronts, and this fearlessness is paying off! Seriously, will you look at that welt pocket?! This is the first one I’ve ever done.
As a note or word of warning to anyone else using this pattern—when it talks about the right or left of the pants, the pattern is unclear as to whether it's as you're looking at them, or the right/left of the pants themselves. When in doubt GO WITH THE ILLUSTRATION!
And from the hand-work box
My knitting has slowed to something somewhat slower than a crawl, until I saw the Wellington indie-dyer Union Fiber's work, and a project burst into my mind! One of my first knits from 2012 was a Big Houndstooth Cowl from Mel Clark's book Knitting Everyday Finery. I love my original cowl, which is still in high rotation during winter. But the idea of making a new one, in a new colour in some of Union Fiber's utterly divine Hellebores colouway has got the juices flowing again! This yarn is a silk/merino chunky weight, and it is knitting up a treat!
I've also started a new Sarah K. Benning embroidery. This design was my gateway patterndrug into SKB's designs—I saw it first on Diane of The Everyday Handmade's instagram account (here) and I've been obsessed with this embroidery and SKB's designs ever since. This is the Elephant Ear and Rug pattern from March 2017. I'll keep you updated on my progress!
Carry-Over Works In Progress Update
I still need to finish off my Kochi Kimono.
And I need to attach my Flowering Cactus embroidery to my In the Folds Jumpsuit.
I’m so excited about embarking on my pants-making journey, even if at this stage I have some hesitancy about the colour of my Guise Pants. But we’ll see what a new month brings! It’s also very satisfying to get back into knitting—it is such a soothing activity and I’m pleased to bring it back into my thready-practice.