Friday, March 25, 2016

Stash Less Challenge #2 - Make a plan

Easter weekend. Four whole days to do as little as possible, and when I do decide to do things, it'll be things I love doing. For me the Easter break is always a bit of a reset - a bit of timeout after what is usually a busy few summer months after the Christmas break, where weekends are taken up with lots of social events and work starts getting hectic again. 

For the next few days I'll be taking it slowly. The coffee made will be slowly poured instead of my usual rushed flat white between meetings, and my Easter Sunday dinner with friends will be made with lettuces and herbs grown with care in Mum's garden. Given the change of pace, it puts me in the mind to do an update on my Stash Less Challenge. 

Part two is all about my plan for how I'm going to manage my stash for the next year.

Since starting the Stash Less Challenge a little over a month ago, I've been figuring out what it is I want to achieve this year. I'm saving for a big trip, so there is a budget consideration. I'm also realising that I'm pretty happy with what's in my wardrobe at the moment, so if I do make anything for myself, it needs to be something that works with a lot of the things I already have. 

My aims for the Stash Less Challenge:

1. Only buy fabric, yarn, or patterns for things I will definitely make. All fabric and yarn must be purchased for a project, not just because it's pretty!
2. Do my best to make from the stuff I already own.
3. If it's not being used, or there is no project planned, get rid of it. I have already destashed and sorted my yarn and fabric, but there are still a few things in there that I know won't go with much else in my wardrobe. Those things need to go. 
4. Make more for others. I just made my husband a cool sweater with fabrics purchased especially for it. Maybe the key to my challenge is to make more for others this year.

Purchasing ground rules:

1. As above - only buy the stuff required to make a particular item.
2. Only buy stuff to make things for others, or to make things that I will wear / use often.
3. I'm going to Paris in June - so any purchases now means less purchasing in amazing fabric warehouses in Paris. Major purchases for items for myself need to be very well considered!
4. Paris shopping. I will be doing it. More pennies saved now = buying the best of the best in Europe.


This is where things get a bit tricky for me - I haven't set a budget. I don't have any dependents, so I have a bit of pocket money each pay day that I can work with for crafty endeavours, but a lot of this is being diverted to the Paris Spending Money Fund. Combine this and my ground rules, and there isn't too much wiggle room for me.
This will change when I get back from my trip, and I'll take a better look at it closer to the time. The budget thing hasn't needed to be a major consideration for me in the past. I like buying good quality and ethical and local products, and I'm more than happy to pay for them. My biggest issue is spending that money on great supplies that I'll never use, which for me is more wasteful than spending $100 on yarn for a jumper that will get worn all the time. I will still buy stuff, but on the above conditions!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Paxson Sweatshirt by Seamwork Magazine

After wrestling with my first pdf pattern, here is the final result! Introducing the Paxson Sweatshirt, sewn for Husband. I am in love with the fabric and raglan sleeve styles, so this to me is the perfect combination for a winter sweater. 

It was also really nice to sew something for someone else. While I've happily knitted lots of different items for different people (though not a sweater, that would take too long) I've never been confident enough in my sewing skills to have a go at making garments for other people to wear.

I'm perfectly comfortable wearing things I've made myself and not worrying too much if there are mistakes or they fall apart, but I'm apprehensive of others wearing something that might rip or have a big hole in it. 

So I'm taking baby steps - simple shapes that I've made before, just on a bigger, more boy like, scale. I've made a few raglan tops now, so I felt like if there was any style I could have a go at for someone else, this was it. 

It's all well and good for me to have as ethical a wardrobe as possible, but if I can extend that to our household, that would be awesome. This is my first step!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sewing with PDF patterns - trips and tricks!

I've been muddling my way through sewing by myself for a little while now, figuring out that I need to buy an overlocker that doesn't chew up fabric like the old one I have, and that I need more practise with bias binding. 

One of the things I've always been a bit nervous of is sewing with a pdf pattern. Although good with gift wrapping, the idea of sticking heaps of paper together with accuracy didn't really do it for me. I've always bought paper patterns, with their nice packaging, over downloading a pdf, because it required more work (bit lazy over here) and I always felt it would be easier to make mistakes.

But then I found Seamwork Magazine and found some amazing patterns - not just for me, but for Husband. Seamwork patterns aren't printed, so in the end I had to just give it a go.

First thing's first. When you go to print 36 pages of pattern, just print the test page first and double check the measurement on the test square. Don't do what I did and forget to check the page scaling for the printer. 36 pages of pattern that's printed a centimetre too small isn't going to be useful, and it's a waste of trees!

Secondly - get lots of sticky tape, a good hour of your time, some floor space and a series on Netflix that you've seen before but is good for background noise. 

Thirdly, take your time with sticking. Make sure the little triangles all line up and that pattern lines connect. Once it's all stuck together, you can cut it out like a regular pattern. Make sure you use your non-fabric scissors. While it's not great to cut standard pattern tissue out with your sharpest fabric snips, you really don't want to cut out thicker paper with them. 

You might need a bit more sticky tape to tack down any loose bits once the cutting out is all done, but from then on, it's just like using any other printed pattern. And having a downloadable file is going to make it really easy to make the same garment in more sizes - just print it out and start all over again!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A way to potentially avoid the sweater curse - sew one!

There's nothing better than a bit of fabric shopping with friends on a Saturday afternoon before stopping in for a doughnut at Little and Friday. I've been getting better at buying only for projects I'm about to make. There's not a lot on my list right now - I'm undecided about the fabrics in my stash and what I might turn them into. But I want to keep making, and husband's wardrobe needs a bit of love. And what that means, is fabric needs to be purchased and raglan sleeve jumpers need to be sewn. 

I've knitted for Husband before. My very first effort was a scarf in blue variegated acrylic yarn from The Warehouse. Sure, it was practically plastic, but I knitted love into that scarf. So you can imagine my horror when I found it scrunched under the bed when we packed to move house. 

A couple of hats have fared better, but it's on my to-do list to give them a good wash and shrink back into shape before winter comes.  I've ruled against knitting him a sweater. While I don't tend to be superstitious the knitted sweater curse would definitely be a real thing if a hand-knit found it's way into the tumble dryer. Sewing one is a safer bet!

I found this awesome navy quilted sweatshirting at The Fabric Store. It's going to be just right to sew him a Paxson Sweater from Seamwork Magazine

It's all fine for me to do as much as I can to make my wardrobe as slow-fashion as I can, but given almost half of it is taken up by Husband's clothes, I thought it might be nice to spread some of the handmade goodness. So this week, I'm going to get started on sewing the first proper garment for someone other than me. And I hope he likes it.

I wasn't intending to buy anything for me on this shopping visit, but a lovely friend showed me around a fabric shop I'd never been to before - Drapers Fabrics. I think I'm going to become a frequent visitor, and I just couldn't resist this gorgeous grey marle sweatshirting with black polka dots. I might have to use my favourite Linden pattern to make another raglan sleeve for myself. Or maybe, if there's enough navy fabric left over, I can make a matching husband-wife sweater set... 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Bow tie stash buster

As you can see, my latest sewing project hasn't been for me. Meet husband. Usually he's wearing t-shirts and hoodies, but every so often there is a reason to dress fancy. Just over a week ago we attended a wedding, and something jazzy was required.

Enter Sew Like My Mom's Bow Tie tutorial and pattern. This was a great little project. I used the scraps of silk I cut off my kimono a few weeks ago and watched several youtube videos to figure out how to actually tie a bow tie - in the end, really happy with the result!

My finished effort wasn't perfect. The threads have broken after tying it up, so I'll need to stitch parts of it again, but for a first go, I can't complain. I will definitely be using this as a stash busting project and a good way to use up leftovers.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Vicarious knitting adventures

It's a big knitting weekend for Kiwis - March is the month of the Unwind Retreat in Dunedin and I've never made it!

The last few years, there's always been a wedding on the same weekend as this special retreat, and this year I'm saving for my trip to Paris. So instead, I'm living a bit vicariously through Clara Parkes' new book, Knitlandia: A knitter sees the world

The book is about many places she has seen and many people she has met while travelling for the love of her craft. So far I've followed her to Iceland, New York, Maryland and Taos. 
I haven't travelled as much as I've wanted to, but I'm set on changing that. Some of the most enjoyable trips I've had have involved knitting, because I get to meet like-minded people who share common interests.

I'm hoping to focus a lot of my travel to Paris on my crafty interests, and I've already started connecting with people there who know where to go and give me some pro tips. 

Where are your favourite places to visit for a craft fix? 

I've also taken the chance to take things very slowly this weekend. After a week of work that can only be described as totally emotionally draining, all I wanted to do this weekend was sleep, have brunch with husband and sleep some more. Sometimes hibernation is necessary, and I'm one that likes to recharge the batteries for the coming week. I've taken a bit of time to rest and also make a start on Slow Stitch: Mindful and Contemplative Textile Art by Claire Wellesley-Smith. Just the reminder I needed to slow down a bit and be more mindful with the free time that I have!