Well, sewing for myself has been on hold. I haven’t finished a single t-shirt… It wouldn’t take too long but somehow there’s always something else to do.
I realized last week that this old pair of jeans I have isn’t going to last even through the winter if I wear them every day – or at least it’s not going to last in such a condition that I could wear them out in public… I’ve started to wear more dresses and skirts with leggings just to save the jeans, and I actually like it! Maybe I’ll become a woman who wears mostly skirts by the time this year is over… They’re easier to make too. Now I need to figure out how to make leggings. Does anyone have a good pattern or tutorial to recommend?
I’ve been sewing a lot lately, just not for myself. For kids. I have this little project called Purple Cat Designs. As some of you may remember, I use to knit stuff and sell it but figured out eventually that I wasn’t making much money that way, and now that I have a little person to knit for it’s just not worth it… But I do take old adults’ t-shirts and hoodies and turn them into kids’ clothing now. It’s so much fun! I have two markets coming up before Christmas, plus a whole load of custom orders to make for gifts, so I’ve been doing that. I’ll make things for myself once Christmas is over, right? Right…
Well, that new fabric I bought to make t-shirts out of? One of them shrank in the wash so much that the only thing I can get out of it now is a 1980s style crop top. Yep, those are back in fashion… I don’t think they should be, and I don’t think I would have been able to pull one off in 1980s, even less so now… Into the fabric stash it goes. A good reminder on why it’s always a good idea to wash fabrics before sewing.
Confession? I visited Salvation Army thrift store last week, to pick up more materials for these shirts. Found and bought a cardigan. I’ve been looking for a nice, light one since last spring when the previous one gave up the ghost (it had way too many holes to wear it in public, although I did for a long time anyway). So that’s my first purchase during my no-purchases year. Well, this cardigan comes with a label “Made in Canada”, so it could have been worse.
This week I’ve mostly been at home with a sick three-year-old. He happens to love jam, so we decided to make some (because while he was sick he was as energetic as ever – kids, who knows how they do that…). Jams in general have SO much sugar I’ve been hesitant to give him any. But thanks to Pinterest, I discovered fruit butters! We started with this recipe for peach and vanilla butter in a slow cooker. 16 hours over two days later, we had a batch of lovely peach mush that needed some honey to sweeten it – next time I’ll try to find peaches that are actually ripe! Well, it took a bit too long for my liking. So we repeated the process on the stove top the next day, with pears. Added cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks for flavour. It only took three hours, and there was no need for added sweetener. Now we have jars full of kid-friendly jam!
One great source for sewing patterns and tutorials is Colette Patterns. The company is small, independent and focused on great quality, easy-to-use patterns. Their sewing handbook is the perfect starting point for any new sewer.
Earlier this summer (I’m still calling it summer – the weather is mighty fine here in Vancouver) I bough a dress pattern from Colette. Shortly after I had bought it I got an email that there was going to be a sew-along for the dress. I signed up but didn’t manage to find the time to finish the dress in time.
It’s finished now, and I’m very happy with it. I think it’s a great way to start my year of sewing. I adjusted the pattern a bit, left out the elastic from the waist (gathered skirts aren’t my thing) and made it more fitted. I think it’s just a bit too tight over the bust but otherwise it fits well.
I took a good look at my t-shirts last week. The truth? I started to wish I had done that a week earlier so I would have been able to run to the store and stock up… But no, that would have been cheating. I need new t-shirts, unsurprisingly my cheap “Made in Bangladesh” shirts have lasted for one summer and have no life left.
So today I stopped at my friendly neighbourhood (well, downtown) fabric shop Dressew. I picked up some jersey knits. The lady who was cutting my fabric asked me what I was making. T-shirts? Great, they’ll last so much longer than the store bough ones, she said. So I told her about my project, and she was excited. She had done a similar one a few years ago, for six months, and said it’s surprisingly hard. We talked for a while about the garment industry, then about reliable fabric sources. They’re all machine made, she said. But someone uses those machines. Someone takes the bolts and packs them up. There’s labour involved. She nodded, and said there are so many facets to this. What about fabric dyes? Sure, I bough organic cotton blend for my t-shirts, but where do the dyes come from? So many things to consider.
Baby steps. I’ll make some t-shirts first. I got enough fabric for two or three shirts, depending on what I’ll make. The price for the two pieces of fabric was $16 – I don’t think I’d get an organic cotton t-shirt anywhere for that price.
It’s time to admit what I’ve already known for a long time – I’m a lousy blogger. I often have a great idea of what I want to write, and just can’t find the time to sit down and do it. :/ My apologies. I’d like to say “I’ll write more from now on” but considering how it’s been, that probably won’t happen. But I keep trying.
Well, it’s almost September, and fall is right behind the corner. It’s my favourite season for many reasons, and I always feel energized in the fall. I’m looking forward to that; the summer has been long and hot, and I’m feeling weary.
I’m taking on a new challenge from the beginning of September. I’ve been reading more and more about the garment industry, and how they operate. I’ve known some of the stuff for a long time – most cheap t-shirts are products of slave labour. They’re also made to break down soon so that we’d have to buy more sooner rather than later. All very clever for the bottom line, and completely unethical.
Here’s an article I saw recently, and it was the last straw. I need to get out of this hamster wheel of buying cheap stuff. So I’m making a one-year-long pledge NOT to buy any clothing for myself or for J, with the exception of undergarments, socks and swimwear if needed. I’ll continue to accept hand-me-downs for J, and I’ll make the rest. It shouldn’t be too hard, I won’t need much new stuff, and he gets lots of hand-me-downs. I know my pair of cheap Old Navy jeans will wear out, then I’ll just learn to make my own or wear skirts. Whatever, I’ll manage.
I’m leaving hubby out of the pledge. He wears dress shirts and pants to work, and those would be a bit much to make… Then again, his stuff doesn’t wear out so quickly either. I might make him some t-shirts when his old ones are done.
So that’s what I’m planning to do, and I’d like to say I’m going to write about it weekly but how realistic is that? Oh, well, I’ll update every once in a while.
My little boy loves to cook! He sits on the kitchen counter when we make dinner, peeling onions, eating vegetables pieces, mixing and pouring stuff, and participating in whatever he can… Sometimes it’s more of a nuisance but you know how it goes with toddlers.
We got J his own little pots and pans for Christmas. He’s already got bowls and wooden spoons so that he would leave mine alone… :)
Hubby also loves to cook. He tends to be quite messy at it… So a little while ago he bought an apron. And soon after that J started to ask for his own apron!
Last week I finally made him one. It’s a fat quarter cut into shape, and edged with bias tape.
There was enough fabric left on the edges to make a pocket too! And the apron should be big enough to last for a couple of years. :)
This was my Kid’s Clothes Week achievement this time around… I also cut a hoodie for J but didn’t find the time to sew it up. That seems to be the trend for me. Maybe one year I’ll have more time…
One more photo – like father, like son!
I’ve completely forgotten to tell you the story behind the little hearts from the previous post! Well, here it is, finally…
My friend V. was getting married in February. She lives in the States, and like me, is part of the most amazing online mama group ever. There are about 50 of us, talking daily, supporting each other through what life may bring. We met online when we were all pregnant, over 3 years ago, and have been through a lot since. And have become friends.
So V. was getting married, and none of us could go to her wedding. We decided to suprise her with hearts instead! Many of us knitted or crocheted colourful hearts of all sizes. Then we packed them up and mailed them to V! Not all the packages made it there before the wedding but she has lots and lots of hearts now… I believe she’s going to sew them into a blanket.
This is just one of those amazing things our group has done.