Thursday, 30 May 2013

Vogue Men's Hat V8869

Hello People,

The internets have run hot over whether the USA (and the rest of the west) have been turning into a legion of badly dressed slobs. It is an interesting debate. Certainly, in general, we have all become far less formal in our dress. We don't need to accessorize and very few social occasions require a strict dress code. Even if they do many people live by the principle of "I don't dress to your  expectations".
It seems that for many, track pants and T- shirts have become the norm. Unless you can afford designer or high end, or are a fashionista...

I am not about to tell someone on the street what they should wear but I just don't get why someone would choose to look shapeless in saggy pants, ugg boots or any other clothing that just doesn't flatter the wearer.  I am glad the pyjamas-as-day wear never really caught on here. (The horror!)

It sad not to bother. Doesn't everyone feel better when they dress up a bit to look nice? I recognize that there is Non Expression as a Form of Expression but that's just so tired people. I don't get it. How can you not love a bit of colour, a bit of variety? I love seeing something different on the street. I love goth and grunge and saris and peruvian bowler hats. I don't even have anything against trackies and a hoodie as long as it looks like a little bit of thought has gone into the process. 

I'd hate to see a time where all the different nations and forms of dress slid into homogenization and we became a world of grey track suits or Star Trek unitards..

Maybe the middle road of nicely made but still fairly affordable clothes is disappearing. I make most of my clothes by choice and because of my lack of height but maybe this is why more and more people here in Australia are buying clothes over the internet. It is way cheaper to buy nice things - if you can't make them. 

Thank goodness for well dressed sewists and for the ability to choose our own style and our own sizing while still taking what we want from what is current. Maybe we are starting to straddle the schism between the haves and the have nots? I see current fashion in the shops - Zara and Top shop are now here in Sydney - that have great ideas poorly made and poorly executed and they are not cheap, compared to the UK because they ship them half way around the globe, yet the young things are snapping them up big time.

Do you know how I measure wether a dress I have made really works? When I can accessorize it nicely and walk into the price-tag-of-four-figures designer shops in the centre of Sydney and get greeted with 'Can I help you Madam'.  Yes it does happen .. occasionally on a good day. I look. I pretend price is no object. I chat to sales girls. I get ideas ... and I run. But I digress.

I am commenting on all this because I recently made a hat, and this made me do some research into why people do not routinely wear hats any more. There was a time when you just were not dressed without a hat and gloves.

A few factors mentioned were:
President Kennedy refusing to wear the traditional top hat at his inauguration.
Post World War II urbanization.
The main culprit - the motor car. Not only was it hard to wear a hat with a high brim in Henry Ford's new Ford motor car, the car itself provided protection against the elements for an ever increasing number of people.

I suspect that as life became faster people wanted to break free and do things in a new way. The hat spoke of things past and of authority. The hat got left behind. But now it has come full circle and they are, to quote British milliner Philip Treacy "worn by rebels". Link to an article about this famous hat maker here

So, my fellow rebels, who dress quirky, dress vintage, dress arty or just like to dress, here is an avenue to explore. The Hat. No longer commonly worn unless for protection against the cold or the sun, they can be great fun.

I have made hats before, scrub caps for work, round floppy brimmed velvet hats for my daughter in the late 80's. I wore a large brimmed felt hat in my own flower power days of the seventies. Alas I have no photos to share.
Large hats and men's hats suit me. Cowboy, fedora, bowler. I have a largish head when it comes to circumference. Head circumferences and shapes vary greatly as I found when I used to sell scrubs, sometimes made to order. No two heads are the same! Any way I was excited to see this hat pattern in a recent Vogue release. Link to pattern site.


I made it up from the legs of the denim jeans left over from my daughter's bag project. I will be moving away from denim for my next project.

I ended up with a cute fedora

But it ended up too small for my head, even though I made it to my head circumference measurement. Maybe it was due to the heavy duty interfacing or something that happens during construction but the finished product ended up too small for me.

I couldn't even make it look dark and mysterious.

I hear you snickering! I can take it!

The hat may end up worn by my daughter's Boyfriend, a good looking fellow with a (sob) smaller head circumference than mine.

On a serious note, I know know the brim has to be tight to make the back flip up and I have to go a bit larger on all pieces. It would be great in cream twill for summer. The Hat, like The Terminator, Will Be Back.

Do you love hats? Do you ever wear them? Any other thoughts on the great sloppiness debate? I'd be interested to know.

Happy Sewing,

Monday, 20 May 2013

Round Denim Bag

Dear People,

A number of factors have being conspiring against my being able to sew in recent months. That is why my blog has sort of shuffled down to half speed. I still have lots of patterns and lots of plans and I am still on track with my year of stash busting. I hope to get up to full speed soon.

By the way whittling down the stash has been quite satisfying. Rather than being a burden it is something of a relief to put a black line through the list on the side of one of my tubs whenever I use a piece, to re-assess what I've got and to move closer towards using some of the really yummy fabrics I bought during my sojourn in Europe and before that in Sydney. Packing and storing my things and moving twice when a third of my belongings was stash makes the idea of reducing the stash very attractive indeed.

However my resolve was tested by an invitation from The Fabric Store for a 'Fabriholics Anonymous' sale. Hmmm .. but I resisted by remembering the 100% silk velvet bought before just waiting to be made up, silk boucle from Paris, pure wool from I-don't-remember-where, Liberty and so on. It's time to stop hoarding the good stuff till later. Of course there will still be the practical things and muslins but lovely material deserves to see the light of day and lovely things deserve to be worn.

Yesterday I had the day off and I managed to make up this denim bag, made to order for my daughter. It is made from the offcuts of the denim jacket blogged about in my previous post.

The variegated stripe effect is from creases in the denim that took up more dye. I love accidental design details!

I did not use a pattern, just traced the outline of the biggest lid in the kitchen for the body and lining, and made long 3 1/2" strips for the gusset and strap. Ribbon loop and button closure. I am going to drop it off at DD's on my way to work.

Happy sewing,

Saturday, 4 May 2013

B5616 Denim Jacket

Hello Readers,

When in between seasons, especially Sydney's current extra mild autumn, thoughts do not turn to coats and boots and scarves but to in between jackets. You know, a little unlined something to grab on the way out the door just incase a bit of cool air hits.

 So I made this from stash denim and B5616.

Yes, that is the Opera House. I went to the ballet with a camera shy friend who insisted if I was going to have a shot in front of the Opera House I also needed one in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
After we saw the three one act modern ballets, one of which was curious, one of which was ho-hum and one of which was brilliant (and sipped champagne during intermission) we went to the James Squire pub in the Rocks for dinner. All in all a lovely day out. It reminds me why I love Sydney.


People, I was not organized enough to sign up to SoZo's  increasingly popular Me-Made-May, but this is my Me-Made-Saturday in May. 
I also made the fully lined polished cotton dress, reviewed on PR  here. It's been too hot to wear a fully lined dress until now!

The jacket is made from B5616, a recent pattern purchase. Other reviewers on PR found it a little boxy but it was just what I wanted and I love the fact that it fitted me right out of the packet. Bonus!

The denim was originally dark brown and I dyed it using Dylon machine dye in Black Velvet. Here is a link. I was a bit apprehensive about using dye in my machine but it was easy and the result a very pleasing antique blue with dark undertones that's just perfect, even if it was not black or the black/brown that I expected. The instructions said to do a full wash with an empty machine afterwards but as I was reluctant to waste power and water I threw a load of faded denims in to pick up any residue and clear the machine. It was fine. 

I put jean buttons down the front and co-ordinating snaps on the sleeves, did some carefully chosen topstitching and then had a hell of a time with the buttonholes. I'll do the nitty-gritty when I write the Pattern Review.

I like this pattern. I'll be using it again.

Happy Sunday wherever you are,