Tag Archives: think globally

Making trousers

Over the holidays I decided to sort out a pair of shorts I made some time ago.  I copied a pattern from some shorts I had bought at the op shop and made the new pair very carefully.  And from an unsuitable fabric.  They parted way at the seams in crucial places almost immediately and I pouted and put them away.  I took them out in summer and realised I could easily mend them.  They were a great fit–I loved them and wore them all summer, and decided right away that I could use the pattern to make summer weight trousers.

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This appears to be the only in-progress shot.  Setting up for topstitching the fly on the ironing board, using a sticker from a campaign I spent a lot of time on, in the 1990s.  I was still not sure about letting that sticker go–but the stickiness doesn’t last forever.  The fabric is a silk that my mother-out-law gave me.  She keeps claiming to have given up her lifelong sewing career, but I don’t believe her.  I was intimidated by the gift and have never owned silk pants.  Suddenly I knew how to use it, and I now have silk pants!

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I regret that I don’t know how to make an image of trousers that looks any good, as they are so much more complex to create than anything else I make!  One pair was not enough.  I looked at some hemp fabric I bought years back and all of a sudden–I knew what to do with it.  I am sure I always planned something like this for the length of fabric I bought…

I used an old shirt (the apple print) for interfacing.  I used a sunny fabric I already had  for the inside waistband and the pockets.  My stash, as you must have realised, is far too large.  And I used a zip I already had rather than buy another one.  In doing that, I may have made a bad call–it does sometimes peek out  little! One less zip–yes–but this one is really not a match.  I also used thread on hand rather than buy more. It’s not a perfect match but it is just fine.

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The hems used some of my former tie bias binding.  I had to laugh when I went to look for that post–because ‘beguiling details’ is just what I did with the bias binding–using the yellow and black binding in the second-last photo.  I am really happy with these trousers.  The fabric is lovely and they are a pleasure to wear.

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Scrap patchwork bags

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The more sewing there is, the more scraps there are.  The more garments get cut up and converted into other things, the more bits and pieces of old clothing are lying around the place.  I notice there are waves of action around here.  Waves where things come apart–clothes get cut up ready to convert, dyeing creates new opportunities, fabrics come out of cupboards, sewing clothes creates leftover pieces of cloth… and then there are waves of coming together, sometimes driven by a sheer need to clean up and manage all those bits.

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Having made one round of bags with printed patches on them, I began to piece onto the remaining patches and to sew scraps together for linings.  Perfectly good pockets coming from clothes that have passed the point of no return (as garments of one kind) were sewn into bag linings for future use.  Eventually, they all came together into four lined bag bodies in search of straps, and all the pieces of old clothing and exhausted tablecloth that had been through one indigo vat or another started to come together as well.

In the end, I decided more denim would really help and invested $4 on the bargain rack at a Red Cross op shop.  Anything that has made it to half price at an op shop is likely on its way to rags or landfill.  If you’re feeling tough minded, or you would like to know what happens to clothing that is donated to op shops in this country, here!  Read this.

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Two bags got linen straps. This one, I think I will send to a fellow climate change activist, someone I met in Newcastle at a protest last year.  I’ve become her friend on facebook and I can see how hard it is for her to be constantly trying to explain how serious the issue facing us all is–and how urgent, while she deals with her own feelings on the subject.  This is a bit of a long distance hug for her, ’cause she’s awesome.

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This one is going to another friend who lives in the country.  She and I go way back.  I can see it’s tough being so far away from so many people she knows and events she might want to attend–though of course there are great things going on at home too. She’s a musician and knitter and gardener and feminist. Also pretty awesome.

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This patch is so like something she wrote a few weeks back I decided as I read–that it should be hers. And in case you’re wondering… there are two still bags to finish!

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It’s that time of year…

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…the time of year when the calendars get turned into envelopes.  I was a bit surprised to find that we had three calendars kicking around the house.  Admittedly, one of them had been on the wall for two years with scant attention to the dates because the pictures are glorious but the seasons are for the other side of the planet.  The seed saving envelopes are especially good looking this year…

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And since I had the Trees for Life calendar, which I loved all year long, I now have seed-themed envelopes as well as envelopes for seed-saving. Somehow that’s a happy thing! If you are longing to make your own, there is a tutorial above under the How To tab.  Enjoy!

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Plumbing the depths of indigo ignorance

Now for something totally out of its logical place in the order of things. Before I went to Allansford, I decided to go all out in exploring the depths of my ignorance.  It’s my observation of learners that many of us over estimate what we know.  We haven’t grappled with our own ignorance sufficiently to realise what a teacher has to offer us.  We haven’t applied what we think we know enough to realise where its outer edges are.

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I decided on an all out attempt to use my stock of knowledge and supplies to find the limits of my own understanding. I’d been itching to dye and unable to find time, so holidays were a gift.  I had multiple attempts to dye with woad and then turned over to dyeing with what indigo I still had.  I used up my remaining fructose, and couldn’t find more.  So I experimented with sad fruit from the bargain pile at the local shops. I also collected fallen fruit and such. I read all the books and instructions again.  I had no joy with the woad no matter what I did and in the end composted two vats.

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I tried a yeast vat.  It was quite something watching it fizz! In the end, I weakened and bought another package of colour run remover and rescued some indigo with that. between all these vats, I overdyed leaf prints I hadn’t liked much.  I dyed scraps and offcuts from old shirts that had been turned into drawstring bags.  I even tore up a very worn, patched and mended damask table cloth from the stash and dyed that.

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I achieved only soft blues, but soft blues are beautiful.

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I went to Allansford convinced that I was struggling with achieving reduction, and maintaining temperature, and quite possibly other things besides.  And it was really helpful to go, knowing this, and to be able to see that I had been aiming (mostly) at the right things, checking (mostly) the right things, and had some concepts right, but was applying them in wrong places.  It gave me a really strong sense of the limits of my own judgment.

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Some of the bits and pieces have already begun to re-form… a bit like my understanding of how to dye with indigo!

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Patch bags

My beloved returned from a trip abroad with a gift for me.  Patches made from recycled clothing scraps!  I love them!  And then, a familiar tale unfolded.  Long time readers will feel like they have read this post before.

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I realised that a bag was called for!  Apparently my year of scrap patchwork cross pollinated with my bag lady tendency, and behold.  These patches spoke to me of a friend who describes themself as non binary–not enthusiastic about being understood as male or female.  Disinterested in the whole sport of there being two rigid ideas about how to organise humanity.  You know.  ‘There are two kinds of people…’.

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As a person who wants to be able to do anything–knit and fix the washing machine, embroider and ride a bike… be soft and be loud and be courageous and … you know!  I support my beloved friends in their journeys outside the box.  These bags include scraps from trousers and shirts I’ve made, leftover denim from making jeans, fabric that has been ‘stuff steep and store’-d with madder root, leftover quilt fabric.  You know.  Then some of the patches called to me about another friend and their journey lately.

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I like the denim aesthetic for a nice solid bag, and soon I was digging into the cupboard where garments that are ripe for their next incarnation live.

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Pretty soon the linings were getting pockets. I used to do this with jeans in the 1980s! (More or less).

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A pair of jeans went past the point of mending and were cut up and added to the pile of bag materials.  An old pair of hemp shorts got the cut. Some webbing from goodness knows where became a strap for this zippered bag. You know, variety.

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And, I admit it, I gave one bag away before I took its picture. I loved seeing my friend wearing it on his bike!

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And… I still have some patches and some ‘blocks’.  Watch this space!

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Wandercards

Some time back, I invested in India Flint’s wander cards for wayfaring wonderers.  I’ve had fine times pondering the packs for ‘in the mind and ‘in the armchair’ and left them in their original state for quite some time, but over summer the time came for the blank ones to slide into the dye pot.

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As always (for me–others have more experience and skill, naturally) some blurred into watercolours and some came out crisp and amazing.

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I like them all very much.

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So now I have a pack of extra lovely cards, and of course I had another look at the silk they came wrapped in.  Once I really looked at it, and at the cards… it clearly needed to become a drawstring bag for them to live in.  And so it now is.

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Here is  the other side, under the cards, looking all chocolate and caramel. Well, that says as much about me as it does about the silk!

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A few weeks after that, when I was writing down yet another quote I might like to embroider, and wondering when I will actually make the time to embroider all the inspirational wisdom I might need to carry me through each and every day of the current times, I had a thought.  I will not abandon the embroidery plans, but now I know what is going onto these cards.  Maya Angelou… Maya Stein… and others, of course!

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Summer in the guerilla garden

It had been a cool summer up to the point when I wrote this post.  Quite unlike a usual December in these parts.  So I have been making the most of it and planting away. This time, rhagodia (seaberry saltbush), enchylaena tomentosa (ruby saltbush) and two other varieties I have not identified–one upright silver leafed variety and one that scrambles on the ground.

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I am gradually filling out spaces where the tree was recently felled as it looks like the trunk is there to stay.

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Here’s one I planted earlier (foreground), in case you’re wondering if any ever grow!

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Then over to the culvert. Ruby saltbush at the top edges.

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There are some steep banks, so I am hoping the scrambling saltbush is up to the job.  2016-12-06-07-25-37

Next, some serious weeding.  There is one local patch where most of my losses are to the poisoner.  And, I am trying to avoid the poisoner’s attention arriving at the culvert plantings. I think weeding is the answer for now. It is the best thing I can do to ensure these plants get big enough to make it.  Once the low growing plants are established, I can consider putting in larger ones.  or trees.  I am having sheoak sprouting success right now.

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And now for a gratuitous picture of two maned wood ducks with their ducklings, running downhill toward water as fast as those teeny legs can take them.  Some days walking to the bus is the best part of the working day!

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Propagating

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A guerilla gardener needs a propagation plan. Mine starts in the chook run, sieving compost and soil turned every day by our six little helpers.

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Then to the endlessly recycled pots, on the potting bench my dad made from an old kitchen sink.  It’s a great height and has a handy drain down into a bucket below.  My bucket can sit in the sink with pots on the sideboards and everything is well.

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This week I planted more saltbush seed, soaked these prostrate wattle seeds in boiling water and planted them, and pricked out the seafoam statice seedlings in the foreground above.  Then, inspired by Rebecca from needleandspindle and PIP magazine, I made some gardener’s hand scrub!  Just what a guerilla gardener needs…

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Fruit Bats Shirt

I bought some lovely screen printed fabric some time ago.  I was taken by surprise at the hairdresser, a place I don’t usually have to resist the urge to purchase fabric.  She had a lot of designs from Injalak Arts (from Oenpelli, Northern Territory) for sale and… I came away with this one: Kuluban (fruit bats) by Selina Nadjowh).   If you like it as much as I do, it turns out Injalak Arts are selling on Etsy.  They are ‘a non-profit, community enterprise’ set up to benefit Indigenous artists. So do support them if you can.

Here I am near the start, applying part of a stained, worn old tablecloth as interfacing.

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There was a bit of a placket crisis when I was intent on stitching the plackets one night and realised that I’d traced them from another pattern without instructions.  Evidently I had also chosen a different sleeve construction (one with a placket in the main pattern section and not on the seam).  I had created a whole new pattern piece for the sleeve, which had a placement line and slash line. Not much help there….

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I have made this pattern many times but it has been a while, apparently!  I assumed I could fudge the plackets, which in the end, I did.  Here they are in their quite-good-but-not-perfect-glory.

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The collar assembly in process.

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Recycled buttons came into it. I just can’t go past the pearly ones.  I might have preferred smaller buttons, but actually these are good on such a bold print. I chose the button side and the buttonhole side the way I thought looked best with the print.  I’m not a big fan of buttoning up one way for boys and one way for girls, and I think I have shirts constructed both ways. When sewing a shirt I often choose depending on which front has least wonk factor. This time, not too much wonk at the front.

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Cuff detail.

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The back, where you can see quite a bit more of the fabulous fabric.  To be honest, my experience with shirts is that you can do anything you like if you have an awesome print.  People don’t seem to notice how many of my shirts are from the same pattern, for instance (maybe they are just too polite to say)… and no one else cares about how I did with my plackets.

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And here’s the front! I think this shirt will be fun….

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Jeans

Some time ago–you know, about the point when I finished the major jumper project–I started making a pair of jeans.  Please understand I finished that jumper in June.  Perhaps I started the jeans in July.  But it is now October.  Say no more.  This is the one picture I took of the process.  I do usually think of the blog when I’m making something, and try to take the odd photo.  This was quite a fail.  But here is a freshly applied pocket, with bonus chalk marks.

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These jeans arose from a few different motivations.  I am still asking myself whether I can buy less, and whether I might just stop buying new clothes, certainly the mass produced kind.  It’s a thought experiment, don’t panic.  One of the things that makes me feel this goal may be over ambitious, is jeans.  I love them, I wear them whenever possible, and you know, I have made them, but I find it difficult and even more than that, I find it a bit scary.  On the other hand, two pairs of jeans have made it to the gardening only department (which takes a LOT, in my case).  And one more is only just behind them.  I am running out of jeans while not buying jeans.  This winter it led to my wearing woolen pants I had made to work quite a bit–no bad thing.  But jeans.

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I decided after listening to a friend about the benefits of craftsy, that one approach to my confidence issues would be to do some training.  So I enrolled for a class on craftsy and surprised myself by not really liking it much even though it seemed like something I should enjoy.  And for all kinds of irrelevant reasons that I myself thought were silly reasons not to have the benefit of the learning.  I learned a couple of things that really helped (and I can still finish the class one day and learn more!) But I also had a pile of new thoughts.  I remembered all over again that many of my feelings about clothes are really feelings about my body, and how sad it is that there is so much money to be made making us feel bad this way–because there is a lot of invitation to feel less than loving toward one’s own body in this society.  Especially if you grew up female.

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I remembered all the ill fitting and less than perfect jeans I have owned and worn to rags.  Why do the jeans I make have to be perfect?  Maybe they don’t.  And so on.  So, I made the jeans.  I already had two patterns that I had bought in the past and not made.  So speaking of not buying stuff, I chose between them and settled on Vogue 7608.  I like the level of instruction offered by the designer and they sounded like the kind of jeans I might like to wear.  I made the pockets.  No problem.  I set the zipper and constructed the fly (those instructions were awesomely good).  Then, sewed the whole thing together to try-on-stage and found that these ‘below waist’ jeans were only below waist if you understand that they were half way up my ribs at the front.  Below waist as understood in the late 1970s or early 1980s, perhaps.  Not below my waist, however.  Perhaps I am not the shape contemplated by the designer, and indeed, I have had this pointed out to me when buying jeans in shops…. which has occasionally had me in tears.  So, in a genius move that long time readers will recognise, I put them aside for weeks.

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Then came the afternoon I did all the adjusting I could do.  When I measured the curve on these jeans I found it was 5 cm longer at the front than my current favourites.  Quite a bit!  Note to self, next time try measuring this before cutting out.  I did all the adjusting I could figure out, and my overlocker suffered a discombobulation that required a trip to the shop (for a new belt).  Then, I put them down for some more weeks until one day a friend came over.  She is a tailor with loads of experience.  I tried them on and actually, she pronounced them very good, complimented my topstitching and we both agreed that the adjustment had been quite successful, and that I could make the ‘waistband’ (it isn’t really a waistband) narrower and help things along.

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So over the course of the following week, I finished them.  Not perfect, but wearable, and jeans.  Made from denim I already had, with thread I already had, and a brown zipper (who will see it?) and an op shop jeans button from a pack that made it sound like I needed a patented tool.  No, I just needed a hammer and a block of wood.  Good outcome!  A further realisation was that I always make pants that are too big.  Even when I measure and compare with the pattern.  In this case I feel sure there is a lot of ease to allow for adjustment.  But for some reason I am allergic to making things that fit.  So… it seems I need more practice!  Perhaps I should try the other pattern…

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