Monday, 28 November 2011

The nemesis dress!

I don't refer to this dress as my nemesis lightly; many dresses, and other things, have been slow going, or left for a few days (ahem...weeks) and then returned to. No, it is not only these things that make this one my least favourite thing to sew... ever!
I undertook this dress a while ago as a quick project, I'd made this dress before, in fact, it was the first dress I ever made! The original still gets worn, I really like it actually...okay yes, the facing is really badly done and the dress is not finished inside at all, the waistline is a bit high and there is some loose stitching on the neck, but the fabric is great and I wear it often. Knowing all of that, I thought I could rectify all those mistakes with this second attempt.

The pattern is one which has no printing on it or other indentifyinf marks- pattern buffs out there?- so I dont know what it is. It came with this lovely old envelope full of someone's scrawl and promises the junior miss will be  "tall and slim and altogether charming" in this frock. What a shame I messed it up- so much potential right?   

The first problem I think is that I don’t actually like the colour: I choose it predominantly because I wanted to quell the mocking that comes of me only ever wearing/making red and blue things. The second thing that went wrong was that instead of just lining the top with the same pattern piece I tried to cheat and make darts not pleats so they didn’t match up very well.

 Other problems: the top was too short so I added navy waist piece, I cut the skirt lining too small twice; the sleeves are weird.

About the only good things about this dress are that I don’t need a zip- it passed the Mena test! Yay! It's also part of the sew grateful challenge that Debi has set up as my mum first helped me make this pattern while teaching me to sew- very grateful! And the fabric is this lovely soft rayon. 

 Having said all that, it's passable enough and will I wear it again? Probably yes, I can't let it have the last laugh! 
That's right dress, who's laughing now?!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Seamless Pledge

I found an amazing thing! This Pledge!
I've talked about this before when i participated in Self-Stitched September: I haven't bought any clothes for a long time. I would like to say nearly two years, but that wouldn't be strictly true, I have bought underwear, tights, a couple of pairs of shoes and maybe one cardigan!  I decided to do this, along with my hubster, because I didnt want to give any more money to huge corporations who have bad work practices, use pollutants, and generally make money in an unfair and damaging way. So now I sew things, buy things second-hand or try to refashion old clothes. And all these people are pledging to do the same, you should too.
My Pledge:
I, Layla Totah, take the Seamless pledge forever. I will abstain from buying any new clothes until the end of my pledge. I will find ways to dress myself without contributing to the cycle of fast fashion consuming the high street. I will trawl through charity shops, I will attend clothes swaps, I will look for second-hand items and I will craft my own clothes with my own two hands.
Yay, for the pledge! Come on everyone, join the party.

What's sewing?

Inspired by all the lovely blogs around me in this creative world of the tinterweb I have decided to start posting more about the things I'm currently sewing up. When I started this blog I thought it might bore people to see what I'm sewing, but as I got more into reading other people's blogs and motivated by Tilly's post I realised the thing I like best about other blogs is seeing what everyone else is sewing and getting ideas, tips and valuable learning experience from them- which is probably why one of my favourite's is the brilliant Sew Weekly. Also I'm hoping this may motivate me a little to finish things!
So here we go! I might cheat a little and give you a bit of a back catalogue to start with as I'm slowly wending my way into the world of jacket making and there are only baby steps being made so far (I'm a little bit scared and intimidated by actual real life sewing of coats or jackets!)
As there is a serious dearth of patterns here in the sewing shops of Beirut I mostly tend to rely on the trusty (but annoying) Burda, however when a friend goes back home for a visit home I get a frenzied attack of internet shopping and borrow a little suitcase space for them to bring me home some vintage patterns to fill a hole in my soul!
What's going on with her hand?

This pattern is one such score. Simplicity 4808. A perfect winterish dress (these are callled jumpers I have learned which is weird to us Brits because we call sweaters or pullovers jumpers, anyway...). I made it up in an amazingly vibrant purple feltish wool (I am rubbish at fabric names) which I think is 100% and which I got for an absolute bargain at a shop that was closing down. $1 a metre, oh yes, my friends, thats right. But I still made a muslin, proud of me? I was. I had to add quite a bit to the pattern as it was a bust 30, so I thought it worth making the muslin.

Buttons down this front placket right? I thought so too, just haven't found the "ones" yet.

I love it! LOVE IT! But there's more, the best is still to come. Okay I didnt line it (sometimes I have an aversion to lining) and I probably should have because it's a tad itchy (even though I will always wear and top and tights under it) but I did finish each seam with hongkong binding in purple satin bias tape. I almost think the inside is as nice as the outside! You think I could get away with wearing it this way round?
Pretty no?

I am definitely making this pattern again, I've even got some nice dark check/plaid thingy which I think would work for the fuller skirt version. I am more comfortable with a fuller skirt and at first wasn't sure about the tightness of this dress, I am trying to get over this by reminding myself that I look like Joanie form Mad Men (Ha! If only. Wouldnt life be better?!)

My attempt at Joanie...i have may the behind but unfortunately not the front of that lady!

And did I mention, I do love this dress!
How about you? Are you in love with the inside too?

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Ethical fabric?

The other day I stumbled upon a tiny little local fabric store that was going out of business. I'd been there before when I first arrived in Beirut and hadnt been back much since, thinking it only had lots of synthetic shiny stuff (a popular fabric over here!). However when I realised he was selling everything off for less than a dollar a metre I suddenly got my eagle eyes on and looked past shiny to find some true bargains. I got some amazing pure wool and wool blends for truly ridiculously cheap prices, some linens, corduroy and cotton blends too.
But in doing all this frenzied shopping (and I tell you readers, it has been slightly frenzied- every week I think  I've only got a few more days until the bargain is over and therefore return again to come home laden with metres and metres of fabric) has reminded me of the days when I used to buy clothes. The feeling of needing just one more thing, and not being quite fulfilled by my purchases. I realise on one level buying fabric (even when its not for me, but for my classes) has become my crutch for not clothes shopping; and recently I have been thinking about the ethics of this fabric buying.
Fabric itself is not produced in a particularly earth friendly way, and if one of the reasons im giving up clothes shopping is for these reasons then it seems slightly hypocritical to be buying metres of fabric every week. Not only that, but when I asked my friendly local fabric guy where they get most of the fabric from he told me Thailand, Malaysia and China. Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions here but that doesnt make me totally believe they are being produced in a people friendly way- in the past I've read about the dangerous chemicals in dyes and even though its not the traditional clothes sweat shop scenario, how far off do you think fabrics produced in the far east are? Less guilt inducing is the old stock he has, some of it must be pretty vintage I'm guessing, wools and linens from Europe, but I have read somewhere that producing cotton is one of the biggest polluters of the planet (pesticides and nasty chemicals I suppose).
So what is a would-be greeny and eco-friendly gal to do? I do try and buy fabric second-hand, people do give me fabric and I do buy used clothes and refashion them, but truly I buy a lot of fabric! In some sense I feel happier giving my money to the little local fabric shop then the dirty great chain of H&M for example, but does it all end up in the same place in the end? Enslaving poorer people into making things for my consumption? In the end, its not easy trying to shake this mantle of capitalism from my shoulders.
Any suggestions readers?

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