27 February 2011

My Thrifty Vest

I am extremely proud of myself! (Do I say that too much?) I made a vest of a tapestry-like bit of upholstery fabric I've had for at least a decade (vest front) plus suede I harvested from a thrifted leather coat. I've already made two gift book covers from the coat, so finding the yardage for the vest back took some doing--I had to use the sleeves and find a good place for the sleeve seams to fall. And I did it! Here's the vest back:

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You can just see the old sleeve seams an inch or two from the side seams in this photo.
Unfortunately, the vest looks better on the hanger than it does on me, but I'll save that and my review of the pattern (McCall's 2260) for another post. For now, just admire the suede.

20 February 2011

Men's Shirt Sewn-Along!

I am pleased to declare that I have completed my muslin for Peter's Male Pattern BoldnessMen's Shirt Sew-Along. Astonishingly, it seems to fit my DH, except that the shoulders are a bit too wide and the sleeves too long. But the latter is not a problem because I made so many mistakes on the cuffs that they are best rolled up and hidden.

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The shirt only looks like it's made from a paper bag--it's actually made from a thrifted bed sheet, with buttons I snipped off some other shirt I found in a closet. ("Hey," says DS, "Isn't that my shirt?" Of course not!)

I took a few construction photos but not many--I keep forgetting! Here's a couple, showing how I did the hem on my Singer 15-91 Elizabeth:

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Elizabeth is so satisfying to sew with--er, after I got the bobbin shuttle put together right after breaking a needle on it, that is. I decided to switch machines thinking it would be easier to stitch a narrow rolled hem on the straight stitch machine where the hole in the throat plate is only as wide as the needle. Also, my Brother XR-9000 pulls a little to the left. I switched back to the Brother to sew the button holes and buttons, which was major entertainment! I broke another needle on a button hole, which made two today (one per machine) and also two for my lifetime!

I learned a lot making this muslin. I'll get more practice making the same shirt out of the fashion fabric (with short sleeves), but first I have to make something to wear in Me-Made-March '11! One thing I learned, however, is that it's worth a few bucks to get someone else (like, JC Penney) to make DH's shirts!

19 February 2011

Upcycling Recycled

I've finally figured out what was bothering me about the GreenCraft magazine I complained about in my previous post. It's not that bits and scraps and old used things can't be turned into lovely useful items--they can, the magazine is full of them and you have no doubt made a few yourself. The fact that my recycled trash still looks like trash makes me grumpy but doesn't make the concept any less valuable. What bugged me about the magazine was that the focus was on what to do with trash, rather than on how to make beautiful things.

I love to look at articles that show me how, if I need or want a beautiful bag, I can make one out of an old tablecloth. Etsy is awash with beautiful tablecloth tote bags. But an entire magazine telling me not to throw away my old tablecloths, plastic bags, measuring tapes, T-shirts and magazines because they can all be upcycled into other stuff just makes me feel guilty about my entire life.

Anyway, I feel better now because I gave the magazine to a woman waiting to board the subway from which I had just disembarked. Does getting two posts and a random act of kindness out of one magazine count as upcycling?

Speaking of random, here's a notice posted on the wall of a ladies' room in a bar in Amsterdam. Disturbing on several levels.

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16 February 2011

I'm Down With Upcycling

I ride the buses and subway in Los Angeles. I could work while I'm riding, and sometimes I do, but I don't always feel like it. I also can and do read literary periodicals and science fiction novels. But sometimes I just want to look at pictures, so the other day I picked this up at a newsstand.

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This is a pretty magazine (for the price it should be!) and it is printed on recycled paper, which is a Good Thing. But actual ideas, practical suggestions, are a little thin. Repurposing tablecloths, for example. Tablecloths are already purposed, aren't they? And if a tablecloth is no longer suitable to clothe a table, say because it is stained, I'm hardly likely to want to wear it as an apron or dress my baby in it. Speaking of aprons, doesn't the idea of making an apron out of last year's tea towel calendar just suggest that the whole tea towel calendar idea should be rethought? And no amount of artful photography is going to convince me that cut-up tyvek or a brown plastic grocery bag makes a good necklace or brooch.

Much of the stuff pictured is, in fact, quite lovely, but the text offers little guidance on how to reproduce the loveliness. To repurpose a small box, for example, we are instructed: "with a glue stick or glue gun, adhere bits and pieces of papers, including magazine pictures, catalog pictures, scrapbook paper, etc." to it, then "Add ribbon, buttons, fabric, and other embellishments." And then? Trash hot-glued together is still trash. Maybe if I use pages from this magazine . . .

Actually, I do have a one repurposed item I've cherished for many years. Here it is:

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It is a law school textbook for a class I taught, left behind by a student who dropped out to go to art school. (I added the sun glasses.) I keep it by my desk to remind me what the Socratic Method can do to the unprotected brain.

13 February 2011

I'm A Winner!

Yay me! I entered Toria's e-Bay Queen/100th post giveaway over at her delightful Welsh Pixie a week or two ago and I won! Toria posted pictures of fabulous items (be sure to check out the yellow shoes!) she had won on eBay and asked us to guess what she paid. I figured I might have a shot at winning in a random drawing if everyone guessed wrong, and anyway I like typing this: £. But I won, as we lawyers say, "on the merits"--I correctly guessed the price of appraised an unknown length of lovely lace. Thanks, Toria!

So on the theory that Toria's readers might be checking me out today, here are some pictures to look at. First, a recognizable piece of a Negroni shirt just to show I really am working on the MPB Sew-along, really! Although it looks like I'm making my muslin from a paper bag, it's actually a khaki-colored bed sheet. In this picture it's lying on an olive/gold/rust moleskin I bought on sale from FabricMart that, if all goes as planned, you'll be seeing a LOT of during Me-Made-March '11.

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Second, this is a billboard I pass every day on the way into my office. The clothing on offer at this Korean Italian tailor's establishment is very conservative and, well, establishment, but I love the jolly androgeny of the models sporting these suits. When its lease expires this shop will close so that the school where I work can expand and open a dormitory. That will be great for us, but I'll miss these guys. Or gals.

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06 February 2011

Me Made March '11 for Me!

Once again this year, Zoe of So, Zo, What Do You Know? is hosting her "Me Made March" challenge
"to encourage those of us who make and/or refashion clothes to actually wear them in their everyday lives."
Go visit her site and sign up!
I made my pledge pretty general:
'I endeavour to wear at lest one hand-sewn or hand-refashioned item of clothing or accessory each day for the duration of March 2011'.
I reserve the right to count RTW garments I have shortened myself as "refashioned," although I hope it won't come to that.

Let's see if I can manage to finish my MPB Men's Shirt Sew Along shirt done by March. I'm already through step 2--can step 3 be far behind?

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03 February 2011

Pattern Weights & FrankenShirt

I'm lagging a day or two (and counting) behind the MPB Men's Shirt Sew-Along, but I did get started yesterday. I traced off my pattern and marked it up. Negroni is probably the wrong style altogether for DH: The chest and waist measurements for any given size differ by 8", while DH's chest and waist measurements are the same! The muslin will be composed of pieces ranging from S (cuff) to XXL (body). I've also decided to try one long sleeve and one short: DH wants short sleeves but I want to learn to put on the cuff.

Here's an action shot of my tracing with handy Tomato Paste pattern weights. They work quite well. Small mammals, however, do not work very well, no matter how willing they are to volunteer.

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