Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Making for the Man Month!

I was thrilled to see that Thread Theory are doing a sew-along for their new Jedediah mens shorts/trousers pattern in August, and I've promised my love that August will all about sewing for him.


I'm declaring August 'Making for the Man' month in our household, and my goal is to make him the Jedediah shorts, a Colette Negroni shirt, and rub/draft/make a t-shirt. This will achieve many things - I will do my first fly-front garment, I will use up multiple stash fabrics for the Negroni and t-shirt, I will address my beloved's sooking concerns that I don't sew for him, and it will give me sewing to do while I trim down the couple of extra kg's I applied during our recent trip to NY!

I don't think I have the readership to suggest Making For the Man to be a blogosphere 'thing' but let me know if you feel inspired to do a bit of unselfish sewing for the man in your life!

Jedediah shorts from Thread Theory
The Negroni shirt from Colette Patterns

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

And so we're back - NY show and tell!

We're home! And I'm so pleased to be home, I must admit. It must be an awful feeling to come back from being away and not want to be home. We had a fantastic honeymoon in NYC but love our home and city so much that it wasn't hard to come back.

So..... I will do a little post in the future about our wedding day, but I'm not a big fan of oversharing private details of life. But I must show the frock. Because it was divine!

Anyway, this is a little show-and-tell summary of our trip - a little bit of shopping, a little bit of fabric, a little bit of sight-seeing and way too much food! It's a long post - hang in there!

Our first week was in the Baked Apple - we timed our visit with an unbelievable heat wave. I have to be clear here. I'm Australian. I've lived in regional Victoria and NSW for more than half my life and I know heat - I know days on end of 35C+ (95F) days, water restrictions, and existing in not much more than a pair of undies and a singlet. But I'm used to dry heat, and poor old NYC gets pretty humid in summer, so when that's combined with extreme heat that barely changes overnight it was a pretty exhausting place to be. I've got to hand it to the New Yorkers - they coped so well, I think we whinged a lot more and at least we were on holiday and could head home for afternoon naps! We stayed in an apartment in the lower East Side for our first week, that we found through Air BnB. It was a very mixed part of town - some great finds, and some pretty shabby spots, but we had a great visit. The second week we headed over the river to hipster Williamsburg in Brooklyn. We enjoyed our stay a bit more there, mostly I think because the heat wave broke, but it was quieter and less hectic - a bit more familiar. And we had Mikon, a super cute little kitty to keep us entertained!

Mikon - proving that cats are the same the world over - life is better when one is sitting on something on something on something. 

We decided to buy New York Passes, which provide entry into a heap of different sites and museums, walking tours, bike hire etc. Because of the heat we probably didn't make full use of the passes (god it was unthinkable to even consider a walking tour!) but it was great being able to skip ticket lines, and it made us go to a few places that we probably wouldn't have worried about if we had had to pay for each  sight individually.

Of course the shopping was fabulous - my love restocked his wardrobe from top to toe, and I allowed myself a couple of wardrobe purchases - some new jeans, a great dress from J Crew and some fab houndstooth pants from Uniqlo. I also snapped up a fab pair of Camper sandals and a couple of new bags. God the shoes - I could have brought back a suitcase just of shoes!

But enough of the boring stuff. We all know what we are here for - the fabric of course!

My first crafty visit was to Purl Soho. I was determined to find some yarn here to make my beloved Cap Sleeve Lattice Sweater, and I was not disappointed. The girls there were just so lovely, they let me drift aimlessly around the store stroking everything until I was ready for help, and gave me advice on an alternative yarn to wool for the sweater (I just can't see myself wearing a short sleeve wool jumper in summer!). I ended up going with a beautiful Cascade Pima Cotton, in a beautiful royal blue, with a pale turquoise as contrast for the lattice. I can't tell you how luscious this yarn is - it has the most beautiful sheen and is just lovely to work with. I also bought some fluoro pink bias binding, probably to use as piping in a future bag project. Their range of yarns is amazing - if you follow the Purl Bee blog you'll know, but their wall of rainbow yarny goodness is such a treat. Fabric-wise they have a small selection of high quality wovens, mostly quilting cottons, but some lovely japanese double gauze, Liberty fabrics and a few other lighter weight cottons. I was after some of the Robert Kaufman Chambray Union Indigo dot fabric, which was back in stock by my second (unplanned!) visit. I bought a couple of yards - most likely to make a shirt (I am completely in love with this shirt by Laney - check out their blog they make awesome things). It's a beautiful lightweight blueish-grey cotton, with the dot design woven into the fabric:

The day I visited the Garment District was a hot one. We'd spent the morning on the Intrepid - an aircraft carrier that has been converted into an air and space museum. It's bloody huge! This thing had at least 20 aircraft on it, and housed 3000 men when it was in active service. My beloved had a great morning scampering around and geeking out over all the helicopters, planes and various gadgets. By the time we had made our way to the Garment District we were pretty wilted, but after a fortifying Coke (never have I drunk so much soft drink in my life) I left my love in a pub with a promise that I would be back in about 1 hour and I hotfooted it into Mood. I had already decided that I wasn't going to go toooooooooo crazy. Melbourne really has got some fantastic fabric shops, and there really isn't too much that I couldn't source here or on-line, so I promised myself that I would only bring home some treasures, plus something for the upcoming Thread Theory Jedediah shorts sew along for my beloved.

And of course Mood was awesome, overwhelming, huge and amazing. I was pretty proud of myself - I whizzed through and managed to only waste 10 minutes getting lost in the furnishing fabrics. I nearly developed whiplash from zigzagging through the ceiling-high aisles, but ultimately was very well pleased with my haul:

Emerald 100% silk jersey - they had a great range of silk jerseys at a very reasonable price - this one was $25/yard I think (in Australia I've only ever seen 100% silk jersey at Tessutis, for about $70/metre!). I'm not sure what this will become - most likely a simple drapey top to make the most out of the beautiful drape. Its totally luscious and I am in love with it.

This is a lovely crinkly cotton knit in a pale blue with a darker blue-grey spot. Nice cotton printed knits are not the easiest to come by here in Australia, and I liked the texture and colours of this. I do love me a spot or two, and I can see this as a Renfrew (maybe a boat-neck to make it a little more sophisticated) and in a little tank or two. I think I got 2 yards of this, and it was maybe about $10/yard.

This pretty little stripey may not look like much, but it was pure cotton and the most gorgeous soft tissue weight - in the second pic you should be able to see how fine it is in the draping tail - even my love commented on how nice it feels. I am sure I have spoken before of my love of the stripe - I could dress top to toe in stripes from my wardrobe. I'm not sure what this will become - I do have McCalls 6319 which is a lined knit dress that would look great in this - I'm 100% convinced though - it might be too light for it....

This treasure is a shirting fabric that I just couldn't leave behind. I've never seen anything like it. I hope the photos do it justice. It is a pink and blue stripe that is woven in 2 different textures - the blue is a standard shirting weave, but the pink is satiny, and woven like a ribbon - it has the most gorgeous shine that contrasts with the matt blue stripe. I don't know what I will do with it, but I bought enough to make a shirt dress.

And finally this is a nice sturdy cotton twill for my love - bless him he was very patient with my fabric shopping, and it was only after about an hour that I started to get distress texts - he was onto his 4th pint  and was worried he wasn't going to make it home if I took too much longer.

So in the end I didn't go into any other fabric stores - I was more than happy with my haul, and as it is my stash at home is completely out of control, and I really had to be sensible.

I won't bore you too much more, but below I've done a quick summary of our favourite places we visited/ate at/experienced - its my very narrow snap-shot of our NY faves just in case you wanted some random suggestions:


  • 911 Memorial - beautifully done. I was there in 2004 when the site was still in chaos, and it's a very moving and tasteful tribute. 
  • Rockefeller centre - great art deco architecture and the Top of the Rock was less busy than the Empire State, with better views (it's lower and closer to Central Park).
  • Central Park - what can I say - a great spot to get some peace and quiet on a hot day.
  • The Highline - beautifully preserved elevated railway lines great for people watching.
  • New York Transit Museum - museum of the history of the NYC transit system (subway and buses). Sounds dorky and probably is, but fascinating. In Brooklyn and in an actual subway station.
  • New York City Library - magnificent building, great shop.
  • Intrepid Air and Space museum - as mentioned above very impressive and great for big and little kids. 
  • Liberty Helicopter ride - my fab workmates chipped in and bought us a voucher for a 15 minute helicopter ride over Manhattan. Just amazing - not sure what it cost, but a great way to see the city. We did it on our second last day, which was great because we knew what everything was and it was a great perspective on the city.
  • Brooklyn - we stayed in Williamsburg, which was a great melting pot of hipsters, Hasidic Jews and every other race/age/class in between. We took the East River ferry down to DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights - highly recommended. 
  • Brooklyn Flea Market - cute little hipster market with vintage and handmade bits and pieces. We scored a 1940's Subway map, and an awesome cast iron Michelin Man statue. 
  • Baseball - we went to a match between the Mets and Phillies which was a great experience. I'm not sporty but my love is and we had a great time. Totally loved it. 
  • Bar Next Door - tiny little jazz club with small cover charge and delicious Tiramisu from Italian restaurant attached. 
  • Eatitaly - impossible-to-describe Italian food emporium in the Flatiron District. A huge indoor marketplace of different food types - Gelato, antipasto, charcuterie, fish, etc etc. Beautifully decorated/styled. We just had gelato on one hot night and mine was the best salted caramel gelato I've ever had. Fab!
  • Lobster Joint - this was near our first apartment and we loved it so much we went back 3 times! Simple but stylish dude-food with lobster, crab and shrimp (prawns) as the stars. I had a whole lobster meal for about $35, with the most delicious butter sauce. We became quickly addicted, and the deal was sweetened by happy hour - $4 cocktails and beer!
  • Brooklyn Brewery - my love is a craft beer fiend, and he was so excited to do the tasting tour here. Most beer I've ever drunk in my life (3 tastings!) but it was a highlight for him. Also very impressed by the customer service as we stuffed up our booking and turned up a week early - they still squeezed us in as we would have missed out otherwise. 
  • Cowgirl Seahorse - crazy little Tex-Mex restaurant in the Seaport District. We happened upon this place by accident and it was great. Excellent value, crazy decor, fab cocktails and delicious food. 
  • Random taco place on East 3rd Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues. This place was literally 3 doors down from our first apartment and the tacos were just unbelievable. The owners are mexican and we were blown away with how good they were. I can't remember the name - something like Diablo Tacos. So. Damn. Good. 
  • Brooklyn Sandwich Society - another happy accident we found whilst waiting to meet an old friend in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Very stylish little cafe with beer and delicious Banoffee pie. 
  • Lexington Candy Store - old-school diner in Manhattan, not too far from the Met and Guggenheim. This is a true vintage diner - same family has been operating it since the 40's, and it was last renovated in the 70's! Fantastic milk shakes, burgers etc. 
Phew! Thats about it folks - now its back to reality, winter and shedding those extra kg's we've accumulated in the last couple of weeks. I'm off to combat jetlag and make myself a nice comfy Hot Cocoa Sweater - see you next time! 

Friday, 12 July 2013

Start spreading the news.....

One day to go until I marry my best friend, 3 days until we leave for our New York adventure!

Have a great 2 weeks - I'll leave you with some pics of a little gift my lovely parents brought me back from their recent UK trip - a little taste of some hilarious Liberty!

These three chaps are my favourite - especially the purple bearded one!
 I'm wracking my brains for a pattern that would do justice to homoerotic gymnast fabric! Suggestions please!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Simplicity 2226 - The Single White Female skirt

I'm sure that the Germans would have a word that perfectly encapsulates the combination of emotions that include pride, pleasure, chagrin, embarrassment and a more than a whiff of shamefacedness. I've made myself the cutest little skirt, and it's turned out just so well. I've finished it off perfectly, it fits well, and looks just as lovely on the inside as the outside. I'm just so embarrassed to post much about it though because, well, I've totally copied it from another blogger.

Sigh. The shame of being a copy-cat

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Fab Find! Thread Theory mens sewing patterns

The problem with becoming vaguely proficient and skilled at making your own awesome self-stitched wardrobe, is that those around you start wanting you to make awesome duds for them. "When are you going to make something for me?" they start to whinge, and the selfish sewist starts to feel more and more guilty that they are flouncing around in their own superb clothing, but their beloved is forced to..... sniff..... continue to purchase RTW.

Up until recently we have had the excuse that mens clothing patterns are few and far between, and the vast majority of them are pretty appalling. I've had the Colette Negroni mens shirt pattern in my to-do list for a while, and even have the toile fabric ready to go, but my beloved was hoping that I'd be able to whip him up some shorts and chino-style trousers. I promised by the end of this year I will have mastered a fly-front zip, and maybe even welt pockets and I would make him some pants. Dutifully I have researched trouser and shorts patterns, and came up with not much that was good. There's plenty of daggy crap out there, but when your beloved is super-stylish, with a penchant for well fitting slim-fit clothing, suitable patterns are scant to say the least.

The big 4 options are terrible. In the 'Mens/Unisex' range you have the choice of shirts, waistcoats (so many damn waistcoat patterns!) surgical scrubs (New Look has 3 scrubs patterns!), wide-leg drawstring pants, wide-leg jeans-style pants or....... lederhosen.

Or a priests robe. I do not joke. This is a current Butterick menswear pattern.
Butterick B684

Burdastyle at least has the Jochen pants - they look ok but despite 1400-odd downloads, there are only 16 projects posted, and only one review...... And I don't know that I'd be entrusting my precious fabric and maiden pants-sewing experience to the minimalist instructions of a Burdastyle pattern.

Jochen pants

But my days of excuses and complaining are about to run out with the discovery of todays Fab Find! Morgan and Matt of Thread Theory are a very clever husband-and-wife team with a small range of menswear patterns and are about to release a fantastic looking mens trouser pattern, the Jebediah pants. They're a slim fit modern-fit trouser pattern that hopefully will fill the absolutely enormous gaping hole in mens trouser patterns - a modern silhouette for the stylish partners of stylish home-sewists! 

Source: Thread Theory
Source: Thread Theory

Not only do they have the name of an awesome Australian band that rocked my early 20's, but they are based on a chino-style of pant, not jeans or business trousers. Just what my beloved is nagging asking me for. The patch pockets are far less scary than welt pockets too! Hopefully they take the lead of some of the other independent companies, and do a trouser sew-along once they are released. 

I also love their Strathcona Henley t-shirt (I'd love one these for myself to be honest) and the super-hipster Newcastle Cardigan, a mens cardi made in a knit fabric (superbly modelled by both Matt, and Morgan's father - fab!).   

So whilst I am loathe to tear my selfish self away from my own to-do list of sewing projects, I am very excited to find Thread Theory, and eventually make my beloved a stylish Tragic wardrobe of his very own!

Friday, 5 July 2013

Back to black.... DIY style

There's pros and cons to having a partner/fiance/almost-husband that occasionally travels for work. 

The cons:
- no cuddles.
- the bed hogging cat has only one person to hassle. 
- harder to justify late night dashes to the Pancake Parlour for supper (hmmm - not done that in a while, must do soon!)
- no-one to reign one's self when still sewing at 11.30pm at night or reading sewing blogs on iPad at 12.30pm.

The pros:
- able to sew til all hours of the night without feeling guilty for abandoning beloved in another room.
- able to leave sewing set up all over house without similar feelings of guilt to above.
- able to spend an evening listening to Doris Day and re-dyeing old black clothes in laundry without fear of stressing your beloved that you will ruin his beautiful self-built laundry (probably should have had Amy Winehouse on instead of Doris).

I've a pair of great black jeans that I've been wearing to work for the last couple of years (they made many appearances in my work photos for MMM 13), and they are decidedly tired - you know that grey faded look that black denim gets? I also had 3 perfectly fitting black Witchery tanks, also similar vintage, worn to death and starting to look a little aged due to fading (but fabric-wise still 100%). After a little investigation on the web I decided there was no harm in trying to restore the mojo of my couture noir! I already had one packet of black dye, and bought a second after weighing my fabric. I didn't 100% follow the instructions - was more guided by them. Because my items were almost all cotton I was pretty confident I'd get good results. 

Black is really hard to photograph! But I've attempted some before and after shots.

Before - So tired, so grey
After - So fresh! So noir! 

Before - Tank on the left, new black wool Renfrew on the right for comparison

After - As before, tank on left, Renfrew on the right for comparison

The nitty gritty:
1 - put all clothing in machine for a quick express wash to get them wet (no detergent, they were already clean). I have a front loader with a 15 minute express cycle - perfect.
2 - Dissolved 2 x packets of black dye suitable for either sink or washing machine dyeing (one was liquid (RIT), one powder (Dylon)) directly into stainless steel sink in 500ml of the hottest tap water I could get, plus  whatever salt I had in the cupboard - probably ended up being about 100g. Then I added 12 more litres of hottest tap water. I had a wet rag on hand to wipe up any splashes and splatters as I made them. I was very very careful adding the water with a jug slowly to minimise splashing.
3 - Add in wet clothing and mix for 10-15 minutes with an old spatula, using gloves and an old long sleeve black jumper AND an apron.
4 - Set timer and came back to mix and stir every 15-20 minutes for nearly 2 hours - much longer than recommended on the packet (I figured I couldn't go too black!).
5 - Drained sink, rinsed as much as possible/until patience ran out, transfer to washing machine one piece at a time in a bucket, to reduce risk of splashing, and run through rinse cycle, then 3 x full wash cycles with detergent. My sink came up a treat - not a spot of dye after washing it out and giving it a very quick rub down. 
6 - Dry, test on white scrap of fabric for rub off - the dye apparently may continue to rub off for first few washes and it is recommended to wash dyed clothes separately for this reason for a few washes.
7 - Admire and pat oneself smugly on back for reviving your fave items!

I am super pleased with the outcome - a little time and fiddling, but worth it to extend the lifespan of some core wardrobe pieces. 

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

FInished project - sleeveless knit Banksia (sort of) and Simplicity 2451

I've got a 2-for-1 deal today - two new finished items that will be hopping in the suitcase to muggy, humid but deliciously warm NYC in 12 days time!