Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cushion cameos

Well, I am now firmly ensconced in home made crafting heaven. While I am waiting for the curtain rails to be installed, I am making cushions.

I like pillows made from old blankets, but I very much wanted to avoid the stereotypical bird (fantail, pukeko, duck in flight) motifs adopted by so many New Zealand crafters.

I made these pillows to counterpoint this trend. What I particularly love about them is that the signs of middle age have been well preserved in these cameos of myself and the manservant: the sagging chins, the thin scalp, the outline of reading glasses, even the uneven zig-zaging under the chin looks a little like whiskers.

And the thrift involved is stupendous. All three pillows are recycled, the grey fabric is scraps, the thread leftover from other projects, the blanket a stained one abandoned at the Sally's which I carefully cut around, and even the fabric stabilizer to hold the cameo's taught on the fabric was purchased at Hospice. Satisfaction.

I have other crafting cliches I plan to refresh:  several Word Art projects in mind that are keeping me very amused but buntings, I believe, are beyond redemption. A feel a challenge coming on!

A word please about cushions. Cushions should have a zipper so  you can remove and wash as required. My pet hate is reading some lifestyle magazine that says, "just make yourself some quick and cool cushions by sewing round 3 sides on a machine and slip stitching the fourth side close. " No please, don't do that, really. 

Righty ho, more cushions, then squabs, then back to curtains!  I also had a lampshade project in the works because I bought some beautifully ugly ceramic lamp bases on Trademe - but the person sending them to me did not pack the box tight, and instead the lamps were allowed to bang into each other, all the way up the country. They arrived a shattered mess: the loss of money is one thing but finding just the right lamp base only to have it destroyed by lack of packaging is heart breaking.

My kingdom for a stack of crushed up newspaper and a fragile sticker!

I deliberately arranged the silhouettes so me and the manservant would face junior. At this stage of our lives, it's like we are having a conversation with him. When he hits adolescence,  it'll be like he's answering us back. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Balancing masculine and feminine elements in home design

Hello everyone, I mean hello Miss Smith since you are the only person reading my blog.  Here are the chairs I was telling you about last night.

I have a very interesting home dec book out of the library at the moment called "Home Chic" by India Mahdavi. She has a whole chapter devoted to the idea that furnishings and fabrics have a masculine or feminine energy.  Squares, rectangles, solid shapes, greens and blues belong to the masculine aesthetic whereas reds, oranges, fabrics, circular shapes belong to the feminine. An interesting home, she contends, has a balance of masculine and feminine, ratioed at about 2:1 to either of the genders.

My design aesthetic is mainly masculine by her definition since I like clean lines in natural shades. By default these are usually neutrals and greys in basic rectangle or square shapes.

I came across the fabric to recover these chairs while looking for some fabric in which to make some new lampshades for our hallway. You might remember our conversation as I showed the website to you while you were on holiday in Auckland.

me: hey I've got to show you the coolest fabric (pass I-pad to you)
you: (audible gasp) you CANNOT use it in the hallway. Your poor guests! They won't know where to look!

And so I book marked the site until a suitable re upholstery job came my way. Almost on cue I found these wicker cane rimu chairs in Hospice in a hideous faux french tapestry and knew instantly I had my project.

The chairs are in pretty good condition, the foam less so, but replacing the sprung foam was more than I wanted to spend on this simple restoration project. Have you sewn home dec before? I know you did your curtains, but these kind of jobs are more fiddly than they look, especially with piping involved, everything has to be rather precise.

But anyway, here they are, all done. I liked your idea of balancing out the female energy with some cacti,  and found some gorgeous crocheted ones in an African craft collective shop today but they were over a hundred dollars so I didn't bring them home with me. I'll keep looking.

At the moment I've ramped up the feminine energy with your hand knitted flowers, perhaps I might be lucky and find another pair of torpedo lights on Tradme to balance it out with some masculine details. But I will have to work on the manservant first as he described these retro lights as "truly revolting" which did not encourage me to bid.

The upper cushion was much easier to construct than the bottom as it had little tucks in the corner allowing the machine to move gently round the corner. The bottom cushions had a gusset, which was tricky and required precision. 

  I am so proud of the matching for the zipper on the back of the cushion. The rest of my matching did not go so well but we have to celebrate our successes, don't we?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The humble knit blazer

All Zen on the building site

Today's photos are courtesy of our building site, formerly known as our back yard. There is no work today because the engineer has to come back with the new calculations for the footings, which is what happens if you try to excavate into volcanic lava flow and find that the massive boulders you remove are too deep for your foundations.  I suppose I should be stressing about the cost of all these delays and re-engineering works but whenever I am tempted to go down that line of thought, I just think to myself, "first world problems."  Of course it is easier to take a broader perspective when you are not paying for it - and since I contribute precisely zero to the house hold economy my zen like attitude is perhaps slightly less admirable.

It's funny though I have start to think of the cost of things in terms of renovation fit outs. This re-engineering work will cost us a new toilet and half a hand basin.

In times of huge expenditure and expensive footings, isn't it nice to be able to return to a hobby that over the course of a year costs me less than a heated towel rail?

 Let us turn our thoughts to more comforting and reassuring pursuits  - that of the hobby seamstress. Here is my experiment with Ottobre 02-2014-10 the humble knit blazer.  I purchased a 3 metre length of felted wool merino from the Fabric store at a huge discount because of a fault that ran every couple of metres down the centre of the fabric. It is thick and warm and cozy, and it is just like wearing a snuggly wool blanket. That is on the plus side. On the minus side, the semi fitted style and heavy fabric add quite a bit of bulk to the figure, which is why I have nicknamed this jacket, "the ten pounder."

I used snap domes instead of button holes. I didn't like my chances with the sewing machine - the fabric is very thick.

It's quite handy for the school run when I need something to stave off the early morning autumn chill and its casual look makes for a good jeans and jersey combo.

I love the whole idea of the knit jacket but this is not true love, it is not, if you will,  a Vittoria and Albert quarried quartz freestanding bath.

The zipper  is a humble black 10 cm jean zipper.  

Friday, May 9, 2014

There and back again: a sewer's journey

Pattern:  Burda style  08-2009-104 
Fabric - cotton silk voile

Well people, here I am again, ready to begin blogging after a one and a half year hiatus. Here's what I learned from my blog vacation. It's fantastic lurking. All joy, no commitment.   So why begin blogging again? Well it's quite simple, because I have started sewing again and it's really nice to have someone to share it with.

I did want to start a new blog though, I'd had enough of the old one. I felt I'd done smirking. I want to shift my focus to the celebration of home crafts in all their wonky glory. I decided it was time to embrace the imperfections of the hobby seamstress - to sew the best I can, as a celebration of creativity, and just enjoy the sheer pleasure of saying, "why yes, I did make it, how can you tell? "   (the uneven hem, the under collar rolling out from under the top collar, the lopsided top stitching?)

At any rate, to get me back into the swing of sewing as part of a collective endeavor, I entered the Pattern Review fitted shirt contest.  If I did not come last, I came pretty close to it, which made me roar with laughter.

But the purpose of entering was to encourage me to lift my game, and I made such a good effort with this shirt, I'm really proud of myself. I made a full wearable test garment, and when I sewed this one I did everything properly right down to using a sew in cotton batiste as interfacing. That's commitment folks, because every piece had to be carefully cut to allow for turn of cloth and sewn in separately, not like fusible interfacing that just needs to cut to one size and then spanked with an iron.

I have just been reading in an updated Colour Me Beautiful guide that I got from the library that full busted gals should not wear shirts. I think it's fear of button gaposis. When I see me in this shirt I do think I look very full figured, but then I went to a sewing workshop last weekend where we measured for our true size and I came out as a size 20, in which case,  perhaps it makes me look quite slim (for a size 20).

Pattern:  Burda style  08-2009-104 
Fabric - cotton silk voile