14 July 2013

Spool O'Thread

spool of thread drawing

I have this bad habit of storing needles by sticking them into spools of thread, instead of a needlebook.

hands and spool of  thread

As with a lot of my bad habits, I started it because I was lazy. Unlike a lot of my bad habits, I continued it...

drawing a needle sword

...because it means I get to pretend I'm unsheathing a sword (alternatively: pulling a sword from a stone) like, every time I go to hand sew something.

Of course, a sewing needle's a little small for me to wield as a pseudo-sword, not to mention that it rests in a spool of thread on the table instead of a sheath by my hip. It occurred to me, while drawing the above needle-unsheathing-scene, that there are far better—ahem—candidates, for wielding a needle-sword.

That is my only excuse for the following bit of ridiculousness.

spool of thread needle sword comic

what are you looking at

Not a very polite swords-spool, but I think that's all right.

04 July 2013

Everybody wants a magenta quilt.

Actually, what they (I) really want is for an imaginary magenta quilt to float behind them (me), impossibly large and strategically faded, while they (I) sew in mid-air. But that's not going to happen outside of their (my) daydreams.

This is all to say, I made another drawing:

sewing cartoon, anthony kiedis

Tiled background! Colours straight out of 2003! A sewist who looks like they're spinning tunes at the machine! All my favourite things are here, obviously.

Though sometimes I do wonder just how much my personal aesthetic has been shaped by listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers during most of high school.

(Also, I have a sudden, terrible suspicion that that is Anthony Kiedis--circa 2006--hiding behind the sewing machine. What have I done.)

That drawing was actually originally part of a quick sketch/comic I did earlier this week, but then I got all intense and started adding things like colour and hair and the magenta patchwork quilt. The sketch was pretty basic, went like this:

sewing cartoon

I was originally going to add a(n ironic!) caption like "Need for Speed" or "Fast and Furious", just for kicks, but I decided that the internet doesn't need any more of that kind of thing. Anyway, this blog has too much subtlety and class for trashy font overlays, right?


(Anthony Kiedis I see you there.)

29 May 2013

Camera-less blogging. Also, what's up with these in-seam pockets?

So, me-made-maybe ended up being almost entirely derailed by my abysmal camera skills—or, in other words, by me breaking my old, faithful Sony Cybershot. (Can you top that in terms of photography failures? No, no I don't think you can.)

I just really like this photo

It was also derailed, I'll admit, by the not-exactly-surprising discovery that I really dislike standing in front of a camera and/or posting photos of myself online (my facebook photo for three years has been an applique of a dancing fruit, no I'm not a crazy axe-murderer, I promise) ...but it was mostly the fault of the broken camera.

Now I'm stuck trying to blog without taking photographs, which is just a little disappointing because, with my last year of school finally out of the way, I've actually had time to work on things. Namely, a couple iterations of Simplicity's Amazing Fit 2339, one in linen (yay linen!) and one in a silky white fabric. You'll have to take my word for it that I've been sewing?

2339: Boo to having to rely on online images

(Neither of my versions had the front ruffles, by the way. Just thought I'd get that out there.)

Actually, though, as much as I like the fit of my 2339 blouse, I'm not sure I'm totally behind the Amazing Fit series. On the one hand, the designs are nice and not too simplified, they fill the "well-fitted staples" niche that I think the designers were going for, and the instructions include a few really neat construction tricks. On the other hand, though, there are some pretty weird design choices.

Case in point, the pockets on this jacket pattern:

Maybe you can't tell what I mean from this photo—I didn't notice, after all, until after I'd bought the pattern. Here's a closer view:

...Is it a pocket with a flap? No! ...Is it a pocket inside a seam? No! ...It's—a vertical inseam pocket RIGHT UNDERNEATH a fake-pocket flap!

All caps and exclamation marks are not at all my thing, by the way, so I hope you understand how flabbergasted (there is no other word for it) I was when I saw this. I'm fine with fake pocket flaps and I'm fine with inseam pockets, but together? I just don't understand.

Maybe the pocket flaps are there to mess with the heads of the people around you when you're in public—people who will, after all, be surreptitiously watching you because of your classy jacket.

They watch as you lean casually against a fence or a wall, relaxing in your sweet blazer...

...They watch as, after a while, you decide to raise the cool factor and put your hands in your blazer pockets...

...They watch as you lift the pocket flaps, they watch as you start to slip your hands into the welt pocket under the flap ... They watch as—WAIT ...

...You slip your hands into inseam pockets instead!

Ain't no welt pockets here.


PS: On a completely unrelated note, the me-made garment in my last post was the brown/tan jacket. Thanks to those who guessed here and on flickr!

03 May 2013

Me-Made-Maybe Round 2

First of all, thank you to those who made deductions in Round 1 of Me-Made-Maybe, here and in the Flickr group! I had a really fun time seeing your guesses. And maybe now you're wondering about the puzzle: did you guys get it right? Which one was the self-made item?

The Big Reveal: It was...the grey shirt! Collared, cuffed, made in linen and worn open, it's actually a favourite of mine. The bright floral top was a bit of a red herring, I'll admit, but it's so nice I kind of wish I'd made it.

Round Two
Again, anything's game except for my shoes, my glasses, and any clothing that you can't see at all. Before you start, though, I've added a clue to this round, if you'd like to use it. Just click on the word "CLUE" below, and the clue-card will reveal itself.

CLUE (go on and click!)

And here is the outfit photo:
That's a playground, yes.

Go ahead and guess—and please let me know how you found the "clue"!

PS: There's only one outfit photo this time because, well, it was really windy out and I wasn't using the mini-tripod, so...my camera fell twice and the second time, the lens got stuck. (Yeah. Self-photos are not working out for me too well—but at least I have a whole month to get better at them, haha.)

The camera's 6 years old—it was my first "big" purchase in high school—and I'm sentimental about it so I'm going to muck around and try to get it working.

In the mean time, though, here's a photo to cheer you (and/or me) up:

It's from the first time my camera fell (I don't know why I didn't just stop shooting at this point). The timer went off just after it landed on the ground and I came over to look. Doesn't it look like those scenes in movies, when the camera takes the point of view of someone who's just fainted, and then blinks up at the crowd around them? This is what my camera woke up to, post-faint.

01 May 2013

Me-Made-Maybe Round 1

Today, as I worked to fulfill my Me Made May pledge, I was schooled in the fine art of self photography. Or wait, that's not quite right. Today, I got schooled by my own camera as I tried to take self photos, is more like it.

My morning attempts, in no particular order:

In the end I asked my mother to take the photos for me (yes! MMM as a family project?) ...and managed to keep both my eyes open for about a quarter of the shots. In my defense, it was very sunny outside.

The photos, of course, were for the second part of my Me-Made-May pledge: For these [outfit] photos I will plan and photograph my outfit to intentionally disguise the identity of the self-made item. The item will be as a snake in the grass, a chameleon among the leaves, a purloined letter hiding in plain sight.

So: which part of today's outfit is self-made? If you're guessing, then for today's self-made item you'll have to do with the outfit photo alone, but I've got "clues" ready for all the other rounds.

I should probably also note that the self-made item is visible, it's not my shoes, and it's not my glasses. And for today, that's all I'll tell you.

NOT winking

That's right, come at me.

With deductions.

27 April 2013

My me-made-May pledge, or: Every outfit is a (detective) story

Update, early May—If you've been following this, then you know that my camera broke last week, and as such the second part (the mystery series that I was so excited about) is not going to work, unfortunately. Tried to fix the camera but it didn't work, so right now I'm trying to figure out how to blog about sewing without a camera. I'll figure something out!

So first things first:

I, Meraj of Threaded Dances, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13. I endeavour to wear one self-made garment or piece each day for the duration of May 2013, and to post an outfit photo on the Wednesday and Friday of every week.

Furthermore, for these photos, whenever possible, I will plan and photograph my outfit to intentionally disguise the identity of the self-made item.

The item  will be as a snake in the grass, a chameleon among the leaves, a purloined letter hiding in plain sight.

(Ignore my penchant for melodrama and simile mixing, please and thanks.)

Really, though: a purloined letter...hidden in plain sight...some of you can guess where this is going, right? Basically, my plan is to have the daily self-made garment "hidden" among all my ready-to-wear clothing, so that the whole outfit will be constructed like a puzzle or a mystery. "It was Meraj in the pantry with the self-made belt", you know?

My sister suggested the idea—and even a name: Me-Made-Maybe (yes!)—when we were talking about the pledge, and the idea kind of stuck in my head (thanks :D!). After getting in touch with Zoe of 'So Zo...: What do you know?' to run it by her, I started some serious planning.

14 April 2013

Why don't I live in Portland?

That's Portland, Oregon, in America. If I did, I'd at least be able to apply for the new position that's just been created at Colette Patterns. Yes, that's right: as of now, Colette Patterns is looking for a Summer Intern Blog Editor!

Of course, my style doesn't have a lot in common with Colette Patterns' vintage-inspired aesthetic, so even if I lived in Oregon I wouldn't be a good match for this position anyway, but I still think this is really cool news.

First, because in terms of 'business' blogs, Coletterie really is a good one. It's regularly updated, informative, and has some very interesting series—like I said, I don't even like most vintage styles, but I'm super excited whenever I see a new post in the "Detail Inspiration" series. Running a 'business' blog definitely has its own challenges (I manage a blog for an administrative office at my university) so getting to help with a blog that's as great as Coletterie is—well, it sounds pretty exciting.

Second, (and fair warning: I'm going to bring up the touchy topic of money here) I think it's nice that the position is paid. I think I understand that businesses can't always afford to pay interns, but as someone who hasn't quite finished university yet—and is therefore surrounded by internship horror stories—I have to admit that I've got mad respect when a small business owner decides to make intern compensation a priority.

Best of luck to whoever wants to apply! (And lives in Portland!)

24 February 2013

Purple, Green and Yellow

Or: I don't know fancy colour names, so what.

There's this scene in Robertson Davies' What's Bred in the Bone where Francis Cornish, an aspiring young artist, is told to draw a perfectly and impeccably straight line. Being a dedicated student of drawing, he does so. Easy.

Then he's asked to draw a second line, equally straight, precisely on top of and parallel to the first. And then another that bisects those two indistinguishable lines. And then another that intersects those three lines exactly at their meeting point. Francis gives it his best, of course, but wonders at the near-impossibility of his task.

Hey, I wonder why the process of topstitching always, always reminds me of that scene.

I made the above shirt (jacket?) out of the fabric left over from two projects, this shirt and these pants, as part of the Itty Bits section of Cation Designs' Stashbusting sewalong. (Yes, that was the January theme. Better late than never, and all that!) The "yellow" in the title comes from the cream topstitching.

I'm actually not sure why I was sewing with leftovers when I have 5 different untouched fabrics in my bin, but I used up those scraps like you wouldn't believe. They were barely enough for the jacket—actually, they weren't enough for the jacket, and I ended up having to use two other scraps for the inside back yoke (see above) and the undercollar:

Uneven stitches on lilac fabric? I won't be popping this collar.

This was also my first project using Mabel Erwin's Practical Dress Design (scanned and shared months ago by TJ at The Perfect Nose). I read through a big chunk of the book way back during winter break, but hadn't got a chance to use the techniques from it until now. For anyone who's skimmed the designs in this book—and understood the implied promise that you, too, can learn how to sew all of them!—do I even need to explain the excitement of finally making something from it?

As much as I liked the drawings, though, vintage-style dresses aren't exactly my thing, so I pulled out an oldish Levi's jacket for inspiration, trying to ensure that the yokes, rolled collar, and breast pockets I had in mind would turn out looking like the real thing. Then I reached for my bodice sloper and got to work on making the jacket pattern.

What did I do? (Alert: Detailed and possibly boring sewing procedures ahead) (Just kidding; you know you want to read them)

12 January 2013

Pattern drafting: Slopers and Beyond

A few months ago, Nothy Lane from Aft Agley suggested I write about the process of "drafting" my own patterns, like my turnback cuff blouse or my black trousers. What a great idea! I thought. How do I draft them? I picked up my old sketchbook and flipped through the pages, convinced that I'd find a plethora of clear, helpful tips to share.

Not so.

The sketches and drawings ranged from confusing:

This shirt

To completely chaotic:

Like, I don't even know

There wasn't a helpful tip in sight! Sighing, I shelved that post idea, since I had no idea how to translate my convoluted (and likely inaccurate) design-and-draft process into something that other seamsters could use, or even understand.

It did make me consider, though, that there might be a better way to do this "pattern drafting" thing. Trial-and-error, careful measurements, instinct, and visualizing things in my head had worked for me so far, but maybe there was a more orderly method. Besides, I didn't even have a basic bodice sloper, and so I usually planned out and drew every pattern from scratch.

Yes, I really did. I don't even know why. Maybe I didn't know what slopers were?

Now, though, having finally made a sloper (!) over the holidays, I can feel new pattern possibilities stretching out before me, and so I'm ready to—not share tips of my own, not yet, but share some of the online resources that I've used and found helpful (the thanks for this suggestion go to The Perfect Nose).

Sloper Options:

Leena's pattern drafting: I used the bodice sloper tutorial from Leenas.com, and it was pretty fantastic. I had to make a slight swayback adjustment and raise the lower point of the front dart by about an inch, but that was all. And at the same time, never have I ever had the shoulders on any shirt fit me so well. I didn't even realize there was something wrong with my other shirts' shoulders until I tried this on. They also have basic pants (men's and women's), sleeves, and a skirt block.

01 January 2013

Reworking an Old Garment Using a Sloper

blue floral print

Remember that fabric up there? Back in the summer I bought it with the intention of making a short-sleeved, hooded jacket, but right from the start I was unhappy with nearly everything about it. I complained about the cutesy flowers and I whined about the bandana border print. I grumbled that the blue was too girlish and the white too boring. I insisted, in short, that this was not the fabric for me.

The thing is, I think the fabric heard all my cruel comments about it. It knew.

Or at least that's how I'm choosing to explain the fact that when I sewed up the basic jacket the fit was terrible--like absolutely, completely off. After that disappointment I decided that I'd been right about the fabric and proceeded to stuff the half-finished jacket into one of my drawers, where it languished, unseen, for the next four months.

Well, last week that fabric made a comeback.

blue sleeveless homemade shirt
Cue dramatic music

The new shirt is still light and a little summery, but I think that overly-dramatic photo does justice to the fabric's new look, which is modern and practical instead of cute and homemade. (One might say, in fact, that the fabric was transformed from a beauty into a beast of a shirt. That's right.)

blue sleeveless homemade shirt
blue sleeveless homemade shirt

I'm being a little smug over a sleeveless top, I know, but I'm just satisfied at having turned a badly-fitting jacket into something that I like and will actually wear! And I did it with the help of a sloper I made earlier in the break, which makes me doubly happy.

Ah. A sloper. That's the real point of interest here.

shirt sloper