Saturday, 26 January 2019

2018 Xmas gifts, looking back on The Year of "Just Because" and announcing 2019

Autumn 2018 had been very busy. On one hand, I don't quite understand how I managed to make any Christmas gifts at all. On the other hand, I've got a bad case of the should, coulda, woulda and feel a bit disapointed for not delivering more (better) gifts. This is why crafters start in April!

In case you're curious, I oversubscribed my evenings/weekends and then found myself reapplying for my job in December (again) (I got it!), and so any spare time/attention got sent that way. Somehow the gifts got squeezed in.

Little t-shirts for Little N

The early deadline for me is always the past posting date to Japan. I have to get P, M and Little N's items sorted as quickly as possible because it's easy to get caught out.

I've been a long-time admierer of Madeit Patterns but have always stayed away from buying the kids patterns until Little N was a bit bigger. I always thought that they were for slightly bigger, older kids. But on a  recent idle browse I noticed that the patterns went all the way down to 2Y! Very exciting! I know someone who's 2Y!

I checked the sizes with P and it seemed like Little N would actually be good in the 5Y size so I made up the Matrix Polo and Kite Fold Tee in 5Y and hoped for the best. I'm not good with kids sizing. He can always grow in to them.

I liked working with the patterns and enjoyed reading the instruction booklet too. The paterns helpfully come with a colour guide/fabric guide so you can get the same colour distribution as the product photos. I also printed the technical drawings so I could plan which colours should go where. There are also a few jokes and quips in the instructions, and some really nice illustrations. Yes, I know I'm not normally a follower of instructions but I do at least believe in reading them through before starting!

The fabric is a classic 95% cotton 5% elastane jersey from Girl Charlee UK. I chose the colours for a bit of a Union Flag/Team GB look. M is a bit of an anglophile so I'm hoping she appreciates it, despite having a bit of a black/white colour palette for herself (much less wacky than mine!). I think Little N will look handsome in anything so it's no use asking me.

I made one alteration, switching the zip on the Matrix Polo for press studs and a CF placket. I hope N gets another one of these shirts because I'd like to refine the placket a bit more.

Glow in the Dark PJs

When you make stuff, it's only good and proper to go slightly nuts whenever glow in the dark fabric pops up in the shops. Anything less would be rude.

So I found an excuse to buy some: one with stars and one with dragons. And some friends got PJ sets making use of the fabric (and no prior warning). Both light grey fabrics are glow in the dark. The fleece and dark jersey are both normal fabrics.

Butterick 5432 and Madeit Patterns Strip Tee

Butterick 5432

Burda 04/2016 #139 in star fleece

Burda 04/2016 #139, Thread Theory Strathcona Henley

I realise that I didn't get any images of the fabric actually glowing. Ooops. Anyway, the glow fabric I used was this dragon design and this plain/star design. They do actually glow, promise.

Patterns used: Butterick 5432, Madeit Patterns Strip Tee, Burda 04/2016 #139, Thread Theory Strathcona Henley

Grandparent Cosies

For some reason I'm constantly worried that my grandparents are at risk of freezing. So I made them some warm clothes again. I'm totally guessing their sizes so it's unbelievably difficult to make anything complicated. Even if I know my grandad prefers tailored trousers over joggers, I can't even begin to guess how to do them for him. I was proud of getting the size vaguely right for my nanny's fleece jacket. I know people shrink in later years, but she's still a good few sizes bigger than me.

I used fold over elastic on the purple jacket, so it's a bit wobbly as I didn't really have enough available but needed to finish edges. I think it works well enough. I added one of those nice shields at the top of the zipper to stop things getting scratchy.

Newcatle cardigan with small collar and wood-effect buttons

Burda 04/2016 #139

Burda 12/2012 #116 jacket

Patterns used: Burda 04/2016 #139, Thread Theory Newcastle, Burda 12/2012 #116

Jeans for B

I've been meaning to make a new pair of jeans for B for a very long time, but they finally got made!

I bought the fabric from Goldbrick Fabrics at Xmas 2017, so these have had to wait a whole year before being made up. It's a denim with a coloured wrong side, this one is red but I also picked up a beautiful green one. The green will give me a pair of jeans hopefully at some point. Goldbrick had the denim available in several colourways and I think the yellow version has popped up online at times over the last year. I haven't seen any more of the red or green yet so I'm glad I got them when I did. This is why it pays to shop physical sometimes!

Annoyingly the red is just printed over the white threads, instead of being cleverly woven in. I did some abrasion tests when I first got the fabric, hoping that the colour would show through if I ripped/distressed the jeans. I saw some fancy designer jeans do this (maybe True Religion?) at some point in 2016/17 and thought it would be good to replicate (a bit like this). It turns out that distressing the red side allows the dark blue colour though, but distressing the blue side shows the white threads. Shame.

It's a good thing we waited to make these because B's measurements flucctuate quite a bit and the old adjusted Jedediah pattern would no longer be suitable. I was prepared to set off on a new bunch of pattern adjustments to the Jeds pattern but then Thread Theory announced the Quadra Jeans - which apparently had more room in the thighs than the Jeds (one of the key adjustments last time) so I was quite keen to give them a whirl.

We took B's measurements and chose a size. According to the measurement chart we would have plenty of rise to sit high-ish, or at least as high as his sample Uni Qlo jeans. The finished jeans seem to sit fairly low, and definitely lower than the product photos led me to believe. This might just be a result of where/how B likes to wear his jeans. Without being too personal about it, the back sits quite high and the front dips down, similar to my Helsinki jeans (and possibly similar to maternity jeans). 

I think the Quadras are [sort of] drafted to sit level all the way around the waistband. If you were to see B's preferred jeans style on the body from the side, the waistband would be diagonal, not horizontal. So I'll probably made adjustments for future versions. Also, I will see how they change over time - jeans need to age a bit before you can properly judge them. 

I cut them fairly generously because the fabric has no stretch and will probably shrink over time. Also, the previous trousers/shorts I've made for B all became too small, so I'm trying to future-proof these a little bit.

Also, you may have noticed that this was the only Xmas gift I made where I wasn't completely guessing the recipient's size. I even made a muslin!

I used a red/gold colour scheme with a side-serving of rainbows (Always show them you care with a side-serving of rainbows). This is a mix of twin-needle and single needle detail. I really liked the pocket topstitching samples that came with the pattern and made one of those designs. I spent absolutely ages switching needles and threads on this project. Ouf.

My super high-tech method for tracing the pocket stitching designs.

Pocket topstitching in progress

Reverse side of the twin needle yoke. I think it looks pretty fun!

Pocket bag and coin pocket

Fronts in progress and a side-serving of rainbows

Wrong side of fronts in progress. And my front.

I also liked the instructions for the fly. Morgan got me through my first ever zip flies so it was fun to try a new style.

That's it for Xmas gifts. Special shout out to Empress Mills from which I purchased a lot of fabric (first time customer). You weren't lying when you said that fleece was substantial! I'm lucky to have quite a bit of tasty fabric left over to fuel my makes well into 2019.

2018 Roundup

At the end of 2018 I felt like it had been a year of slow progress and falling slightly short of (my own) expectations. A lot of my plans and goals are still very much "in progress" - but they are happening! I am still eternally grateful for my health, job, friends and family. Let's keep it up, but let's get back to makery.

So, The Year of Just Because was largely about trying to rediscover enthusiasm, passion, excitement and joy in my makes. Also, about pushing forward into silly makes, indulgent makes and great makes. I think it was also partly about re-discovering the emotional rollercoaster of makery - especally the high points. So, how did I get on?
  • I got an overlocker! I have loved working with 2 machines and I'm really glad I got one at the start of the year. We're buddies now.
  • I danced my heart out and kept healthy. My diet sometimes gets a bit crappy, but I loved cooking, eating and growing food. The monster tomato plants got a bit much in our back garden, but they were damn tasty.
  • My makes went on stage at Sadler's Wells. Dream come true. 
  • Daft gifts and crazy fancy makes definitely happened.
  • I developed a pretty Airtable to organise my projects. You have no idea.
  • I received a very generous haul of very pretty fabrics from India.

Just Because has allowed me to indulge a few of the crazier makes and idead in my head (see: dehydrated food). But it has meant that the number of ideas in my head has far outstripped my ability to make them. The balance between my regular scheduled of sewing, branching out into new projects and everyday demands has been stretched and disrupted. It's just that enthusiasm and indulgence don;t make good bedfellows with balance and moderation. I'm not sorry. But it's time to break this habit.

2019: The Year of Breaking the Habit

2018 did exactly what it was supposed to creatively. For 2019 I want to bring it in again. I am probably going to be full-on busy until Easter at least, and I need to expect to be time-poor. This means I need to find projects that give me the kick I need in a bitesize fashion.This might be taking projects more slowly, doing smaller/simpler projects or taking a step back. I love my long and complicated projects but I think investing 20+ hours in a project cannot be my expected norm this year. It's not my job, it's not my only hobby, it's not my total social life and I don't have that kind of time available.So, this year is about controlling the habits that could get me into problems.

  • I'm thinking more about cooking and baking. It's actually an activity with a relatively strong payoff vs time invested ratio. Plus, I really like food and would like to grow my culinary arsenal.
  • I've booked some Morley College courses for the early summer in beading, tutus and millinery. They're good for branching out and I think I'm going to enjoy having some structure and direction imposed on my makery.
  • B has given me some electronics kits which I may pursue. They look like a lot of fun.
  • I'm hoping for some holidays as well. This is the first time I'm considering not going to the Edinburgh Fringe and the idea of an actual week of holiday seems quite exciting.
  • Music, live theatre and learning are all important parts too.

I started the year by wiping out my queue, getting rid of the recycling pile and got a couple of tiny victories by reading an actual novel (a whole actual novel! I'm not sure I read any stories in 2018!), going on a trip, finishing a "chore" project and trying out some new recipes. Let's keep it up!

On the downside, a bunch of my office clothes have ripped since the start of the year (don't ask) and my dance mojo has also completely fled. At some point these things will be rectified, but I'm not forcing it.

Snoop My Stash

Since you've read this far, a stash update for you:

Loads of leftovers. Tasty, tasty leftovers.

Bye x

1 comment:

  1. Good stash, good stash...always good to see someone else's stash..
    I confirm, the jeans for B look great. You are one clever lady!