Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Up-cycled wardrobe project - a maxi skirt from an old sheet

As I was searching desperately for something to distract me from what I should be doing (study...specifically a literacy competency test) I found an old sheet in the back of the linen cupboard. This one sheet is all that remains of a set given to us as a wedding present 25 years ago. Obviously they were a good quality sheet as they survived dogs, kids and bush living for this long (well one of them did). Originally the sheet was jet black but over the years it has faded to a lovely charcoal grey. It is made from cotton and has developed a lovely soft feel and shows very little sign of wear. I decided it would make a lovely skirt.

So I had found my distraction; make a skirt from this old sheet.

First the all important research;

Then it's straight into the fun stuff...

The sheet in the process of being laid out on the lounge room floor.

I measured 48 inches for the width of the skirt piece as instructed. Then I measured from my waist to my ankle to get the length measurement and cut the piece off there.

At this point I decided it would be easier to sew the casing for the elastic before the side seam was sewn. So I swapped the instructions around. This turned out to be easy and quick, with less chance of sewing stray bits of fabric into your seams too (other messy sewers will know what I mean).

I made sure the elastic would have enough room in the casing at the top of the skirt then pinned the casing right across.

I then got treadling and sewed the elastic casing seam twice (to be sure, to be sure). I'm not sure why my phone decided to make this photo sepia, but it gets artistic ideas sometimes.
I have missed using Prudence the treadle machine while making underwear. I really must save up for a zigzag attachment for her.

The side seam was sewn up quickly, also with a double seam (to help slow down any fraying) and the elastic was threaded through the casing. I used a side seam of the sheet as the bottom of my skirt so I didn't have any hem to do, so this was a really quick and satisfying project.

I'm wearing my new skirt (and a pair of my home made undies) as I type this and I'm feeling very proud of myself as sewing is not really one of my skills. That's one skirt down from my project, maybe next time I will make a circle skirt, or a double layered skirt.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Up-cycled wardrobe project - 7 pairs of underwear

To begin my self imposed challenge I am making 7 pairs of underpants (enough for a week of wear without having to do a wash). I have been making these from old t-shirts for a few months now (see my first attempts here), but decided to make 7 new pairs for the project. My pattern has been tweaked and changed until it produces a REALLY comfortable pair of undies and is now a treasured resource (it even has an envelope to live in when not in use).

My latest pattern makes really comfortable undies.

I found some stretch material remnants in my stash that I thought might do the trick. All these remnants come from second hand stores and gifted items from other people's stashes so they fulfil the up-cycled requirement.  The materials ranged from cotton/lycra to full on stretch polyester but the gussets are all cut from t-shirt remnants  which are 100% cotton.

Seven pairs cut out and ready to sew.

When I began sewing the sides up I discovered a real drawback to sewing stretch fabric: the machine doesn't like it. I made a huge knot in my first pair as the fabric got pushed/sucked down through the dogs (the grid thing under the needle) and I had to dismantle the machine to get it out. After spending a half hour with a screw driver and a don't-talk-to-me expression I got the lot untangled and had a think. This led to an hour of googling which turned up a great tip: use tissues under the seam to provide some stability.

Tissues under the seam, what a great idea

Some of the tissue stays in the seam after you tear it off, but it will wash out in the sewing machine, I promise.
 Eventually I decided to try a more up-cycled option and tried newspaper strips, this worked really well too, but still with some small pieces left behind after it is ripped away. I guess the washing machine will have to take care of it.

Using newspaper to stabilise seams in stretch fabric.
 The final hurdle in my sewing came when I realised how short of elastic I was...I used up every scrap I had on three pairs and had to go and order more (part of my 10% new materials). I mail ordered it from an Australian shop which has an Etsy store. Now the wait begins, I will finish my 7 pairs as soon as the elastic arrives, then it is on to making 4 bras. I wonder what my mistakes will teach me in that project?
My first three finished undies, more to come.

Monday, 22 June 2015

An up-cycled wardrobe

Lately I have been thinking about the everyday things that I use and wear, in particular my clothes. I have a general philosophy of use and re-use which leads me to find or make my belongings or if that is not possible to buy second hand. This tends to be viewed as strange behaviour by people I meet, but most people also think it's a great thing to do too. Clothes are one of those things that people are willing to spend piles of money and time on without viewing it as an extravagance, but here is a hidden cost in buying new clothes which needs to be considered; from the environmental costs of producing the fibre and materials to the ethics of sweat shop production and importing from other countries.

When it comes to clothes I mostly rely on hand-me-downs (or more accurately hand-me-across'), make my own or buy second hand. The thinking behind this is that the 'hidden cost' of my clothes is halved if they have been used by someone else before me. If I were to re-use these second hand clothes to make more clothes I have reduced the cost of these items even more. Using this justification I have decided to challenge myself to make a totally hand made and up-cycled wardrobe...

The overview: make enough clothes to last me a week, make every garment I will wear (from the skin out), use at least 90% up-cycled materials and include at least one day out in the 'big wide world'.

To that end I will make;

7 pairs of underpants
4 bras
4 pairs of socks
3 skirts
7 tops
3 pairs of long pants
1 pair of shorts
2 pairs of shoes

Look forward to a series about the triumphs and frustrations of making an up-cycled wardrobe.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Happy Yule to all

Happy Yule to everyone. The winter solstice is here again, and so much faster than last year (I must be getting old). This year we decided to break with tradition and go on a coven excursion to the Lismore Lantern Parade for the solstice. There was a Viking recreation village set up in a convenient park to visit and a hunting party drifting around town (looking for boar and elk no doubt).
We started the celebration with lunch and an exchange of Yule gifts then went off to tour the Viking village where we felt right at home. I gathered lots of ideas for building and making things and admired the leather bound warriors who drifted by occasionally or could be seen sitting beside their fires making socks and sharpening axes. Finally we found ourselves a prime spot beside the road to watch the parade go by once night fell (we took thousands of really blurry photos but I have included the best ones below).

Yule gifts

More Yule gifts
Even more Yule gifts

A Viking tent with straw under the canvas floor, what a good idea.

Warriors beside the fire making things with a pole lathe. The seated warrior is naalbinding a pair of socks (more on that later)

Sleeping skins in a tent

A game of chess (sort of) set up to play when the women are finished cooking.

A pegged bed (no nails) I loved this tent, so neat and tidy. The shield by the door tells everyone who's tent it is.

Some traditional Viking tools: nallbinding needles, sewing needles, card looms, needle holders, spindles and the essential drinking horn.

An old friend who used to come to circle as a child, who knew there was a Viking lurking in there.

Some of the beautiful lanterns at the parade.

The Viking ship sailed by accompanied by a crowd of fur and leather dressed villagers. The smell of leather and wood smoke in the air and the sound of a marching chant and drums just made me goosebumps all over.

Where the wild things are is one of my favourite books.

Gaia in person

The Green Mand was there to welcome the sun back.

A better shot of the long boat.

I have decided to try naalbinding this year as it looks amazingly complicated. I watched several people making socks and pouches at the Viking village. Apparently the Vikings didn't know how to knit, they made woollen clothing using a sort of macrame with a needle: naalbinding. Check out the video below for a quick explanation and a demonstration...

Look out for a post about naalbinding in the future.