the daisy bra

Look, I made another bra. What a nice.

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After the success of my last bra, I really wanted to make a second – I had much fun, and it is so very satisfying to wear a full outfit of handmade clothes (although. Need to work on the leggings – my one handmade pair is very baggy). And I find there’s something irresistible in a pattern that’s almost-but-not-quite right – I have to work out how to make it better, and get it right the next time. This one had some substantial alterations from the last – firstly, I moved across the seam on the lower cups (it’s a little more complicated than that) to try align better with my apex, and second I drastically altered the shape of the upper cup to lower at the centre and at the side seams – this way, my underwires actually fit it. Having a lower bridge definitely alters the fit, and not in a good way – it gapes out from my chest significantly more than the other one does – but, well, I’m wearing it today, so clearly it’s functional.

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The main fabric is merino scraps from a top I made. As usual, I dyed all the bits and pieces with tea and turmeric to give me off-white, because I don’t want bright whites in my clothing, and because I had a pair of underwear in this fabric with cream lace I was trying to match (this is a fun game). I couldn’t find a good cream lace for the neckline, so I tried out my flatmate’s machine’s decorative stitches – I actually really like the daisies, so that worked out.

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The bow is harvested from another bra at some point in the past, as are the underwires, bra strap sliders, and hook and eye – it’s a useful source!IMG_2325

Today I happened to pick up a couple of metres of stretch lace from an op shop, so my next bras are coming…

I’m really enjoying the first signs of spring. Unfortunately, the warmer weather also means that exams are coming for me – my last major exams of medical school! This is slightly a big deal. But life is chugging along, and after exams I leave the country for three months, and I’m really looking forward to next year’s placements, and actually being able to contribute my own bit to patient care. I have plenty of things to look forward to, it’s just the next two months of solid work coming before that. Wish me luck.

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from my garden/on my desk at the moment. complete with tiny spiders.

winter’s best

Kia ora e hoa mā! This post is brought to you by: the weather. It’s been cold and it’s been dark recently, and this here dress is the exact-and-perfect thing I’ve been wanting to wear. Every day, if possible.

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The fabric for this one is a merino knit from The Fabric Store. (I own Many Things in merino knits from The Fabric Store. It is possibly the best thing about that shop.) It’s perhaps a little thinner and more clingy than my ideal, but is also actually fantastic and snuggly. I have now three garments made in this particular weight of merino, and I find myself strategising to work out how many outfits I can wear in a week using at least one of them – I’d wear this dress every day if I could get away with it.

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I think I may have sufficiently described how much I love this dress. 10/10 would make another in a different colour. My only reservation is that it has something of a risk of looking pregnant, but it is lovely enough that I don’t care.

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For pattern details: most of the time, my thought process is that it’s easier to hack an existing pattern into what I want to wear than to get a new one and have to deal with printing a pdf or tracing a paper pattern. The Plantain tee is one of my favourite knit patterns, and it has become many things. This is only the latest incarnation in a long series (I do enjoy days when I realise I’m wearing three different variations of it – an undergarment, a dress and a cardigan).

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For this version, I used the neck/shoulders of the Plantain, and had to adjust the waistline and make up everything below that. Since the original is a swing shape, I folded down the pattern to give a waistline that’s exactly at my waist measurements – I wanted this to be snug, but not tight – and cut a same-size double layer rectangle for the waist band. Some time ago I got sick of drafting new half-circle skirts every time I sew one – which is often – so I made a template out of an old sheet; to adjust it for a knit, I slightly decreased the waistline to remove the ease, and also narrowed the skirt slightly for the sake of fitting on my fabric without needing to go cross-grain or to seam it (neither of which are big deals in wovens – but I didn’t want to manage that in a knit fabric).

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Oh, and it has one small exciting detail! I managed to slice the fabric at the back neckline while trimming the seam allowance, and decided to try embroidering the small patch in place to cover it – I love the concept of visible mending, and allowing mends to make garments more beautiful, so I decided to give it a shot. It’s my first inexpert attempt, representing a leaf, but it’s a start. (One of my challenges is to make visible mends that are beautiful enough for wearing to work – but that’s another story.)

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The photos in this post are taken the same day as the last post – on the South Coast of Wellington, in a southerly. I love the wind (somewhat uniquely – there are far more complaints than smiles around here). The point I took these on is called Te Raekaihau, meaning “the headland that eats the wind”, and I love the name because it seems to encapsulate the strength I derive from the wind. (I enjoyed taking these photos. Can you tell?)

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In a small life update: I’m on a psychiatry placement at the moment. I had two weeks on a community placement (which was ok – the psychiatrist was friendly enough, but I didn’t agree with his approach to patients) and now I’m on an inpatient ward. I’m really enjoying it so far – I definitely end up coming home with things to think about, every day, and I realise that I’m looking forward to the next day there. It’s certainly not as strong a love as I felt for obstetrics, but it’s still something I’m interested in. There’s a strong sense of heartache in mental health though, and I think it takes a strong person to stand up and face that every day. It’s both the reason I’d want to work in the area, and the reason I don’t know if I’d be able to.

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knit mitts

I feel like I’m knitting a lot more than sewing these days – knitting and spinning and gifting. Since I last wrote I’ve knitted another baby cardigan, a pair of mitts for my sister, and half an adult cardigan – and those are big! Today it is a slightly older but seriously beautiful thing I am talking about.

 

I bought one skein of this beautiful yarn at a fair in March. It’s called Road to China Light, and is a lovely mix of alpaca, camel, silk and cashmere. (I have been telling everyone that I’m wearing camel gloves – this isn’t entirely true, but there is camel in them!) I bought it because I was intrigued, and it was soft, and I wanted to come away from the fair with something lovely. Knitting it up was a dream. I was not in a good space for a month or so earlier in the year, and knitting these was my meditative treat to myself at the end of an evening – I memorised the lace pattern pretty early on, so I could just pick them up, knit a row or two, and feel the softness of the yarn moving between my fingers. To be honest, I was pretty sad to finish the mitts – I wanted to wear them, but I also wanted to keep knitting them forever. There will be more beautiful knitting projects…IMG_2279

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Although these don’t have fingers, I’ve worn them an awful lot since finishing. I’ve lost one of my fingered gloves, so these get outings in the outside weather, as well as being great for when I’m typing – she says, wearing them. The only frustrating thing is that the top edge of the mitts tends to gape away from my palm/fingers (technically, the palmar surface of my metacarpophalangeal joints…) I periodically consider ripping back as far as the beginning of the ribbing and either going down a couple of needle sizes or decreasing the stitches – now that I’m remembering how much I loved knitting these, I might do that, actually. It’s so beautiful and tactile in the fingers.IMG_2281

I took these photos on a trip to the Wellington South Coast, which is a beautiful and wild place to be. Supposedly Wellington is the windiest city in the world, and I absolutely love the wind! It feels like strength. So here are some more photos from that day.

I am especially fond of that one seaweed!

the space bra

Guys, I made a bra! It’s way better than my last one – it’s actually more comfortable than most of my bought ones!

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(I haven’t worked out how to take good bra photos yet. Working on it.)

This is actually a slightly old make – maybe in March? April? I took it fromt he Sophie Swimsuit pattern, but changed the shape a bunch – I felt that my swimsuit fit better than the other bra I’ve made, but I prefer slightly more security than either of them gave me, so I raised the fronts. Too much, as it turned out (it’s still suboptimal placement, but I lowered it as much as the already-cut-and-attached lace would let me once I realised, after sewing everything except the straps together…)

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Speaking of which, what nice lace! I’ve had it in my stash for a long time – I think it came in a bundle of things from an op shop, and I wanted the other pieces of the bundle – so it’s nice to have finally found a good use for it. I am fond of it.

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I also narrowed the bridge rather a lot on this – I’ve realised that my favourite bras actually overlap the underwire channeling at the front, so I tried it out, and it has made a solid difference. It sits much nicer at the front now. So that I’ll have to remember.

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I’ve taken the back attachment and rings and sliders from an existing bra (also from an op shop – I periodically search for bras with good quality bits and pieces, preferably that are falling to pieces in some other way so I don’t feel bad about taking apart a perfectly functional item for my own ends). The elastics and back band fabric (duoplex) are dyed with tea and a small amount of turmeric – the colour is not super well controlled, but I knew that any cream was going to be preferable to the stark white, when put next to that slightly cream silk at the front. (Pro tip – if you’re dying with turmeric and aiming for cream, get the smallest amount you can get and still have anything at all on your teaspoon. A quarter teaspoon is far too much and you will have sunshine yellow, leaning towards orange. This may not be a problem if that’s what you’re after, but I don’t aim for bright yellow very often tbh.)

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The front of the bra is some silk scraps, and I lined it with cotton muslin. I am rather fond of the pattern on the silk, with its small space themed motifs, but I actually chose to use it because I wouldn’t be desperately sad if it didn’t quite work out right. I successfully hid all the seams on one cup, but not the other… anyway, this is what I was aiming for. It’s lovely and clean, when you do it right.

 

This is not without its fit problems – it’s perfect around the band, but a little large in the cup size – but I wear it a lot, and will continue to do so.

 

What else have I been up to? Well…

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I’m working on a quilt (it’s halfway sewn together now).

 

I’m making baby cardigans (rather a lot of them).

I went on a very brief trip to Queenstown. There was snow.

 

And, in rather an exciting thing, I fell in love with a placement. One of my friends said to me that she loves watching people find their thing, as we go through clinical placements – some people fall in love with surgery, some with paediatrics… well, I love obstetrics. I’ve been on an obstetrics and gynaecology placement, and I was loving every day, and looking forward to getting back to placements, and studying just because I enjoy knowing about this and because I’m curious, and reading about different philosophies of birth… I’ve spent some years knowing that I was interested in obstetrics, but telling people that I’m not sure what I wanted to do, because I’d never had a placement in it, and placements change things. Well, now I have. And it was fantastic. I’m planning to do an elective placement in obstetrics in Germany in January, so I look forward to that mightily.

(Naturally, I’ve chosen a specialty that has only a 1 in 3 acceptance rate into the training programme. What great planning. Also, I’m trying to hold it lightly because I remember being very insistent that I would never be a doctor and clearly that plan has changed. Who knows – I’m doing psychiatry next and maybe I’ll love that one too!)

Mā te wā!

One Year One Outfit

For a couple of years, Nikki at thisismoonlight has been doing a project called one year one outfit. The idea is that you source and make an entire garment from within your region of the world – fabrics, processing, dyes and all. I’ve been reading with interest since it began, but have not been making. The first year, I didn’t really know what she was intending from the brief description – but watching her research and her progress got me thinking about what fabrics are sourced from within New Zealand, and what I could do. I’ve been doing research on and off, and this year I’m making it a goal to make a full outfit using only materials grown and processed within New Zealand.

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my knitting basket with an assortment of roving to spin

I love doing this kind of research, so I’ve been tracking all I can find about New Zealand fibre production. We have a lot of sheep, so the obvious first place to start was wool: we grow wool here, but how much of it is processed in New Zealand?

The answer appears to be: a fair bit. There are quite a few companies – small and large – selling wool for knitting that’s been spun here, and I know of of one mill processing merino wool to knit fabric, all ready to sew. The real problem here appears to be dyes. The vast majority of NZ-processed wool is available in commercially-dyed colours, and one can find knitting wool and unspun fibre in natural colours if you look for a while, but I have yet to find any wool that has been processed into fabric without a conventional dye being added. I called Levana to ask about this, and they have available the option of producing undyed fabric for you but… only if you want 200m of it. Next time I’m starting up a fibreshed small business I’ll know where to go.

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this one is an odd mix of white roving surrounded by a dark brown halo. not sure I like how it spins up.

There are a few companies selling handwoven and naturally dyed (or undyed) blankets/wraps that I could theoretically use, but unfortunately (and unsurprisingly) handwoven shawls are far, far beyond my price range (honestly I don’t have a problem with them being sold at that price – I respect the amount of work that goes into them – I just can’t afford to buy them. But that’s a whole other conversation).

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a few of the handspun skeins – I now have over 200g

So, as far as wool goes, I have as much as I want of unspun roving and a variety of weights of spun yarn, in a variety of natural colours, but I have nothing pre-prepared into fabric for me. This is unsurprising, but does mean some extra work in the making of the outfit – it suggests that in some manner, whether knitting, weaving or felting, I’m going to have to create the fabric for every part of my outfit.

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testing out photography for a glamour shot of my favourite colour

In my searches for wool, I discovered also that apparently there is a thriving alpaca industry here. Because of the large variety of natural colours, a decent proportion is undyed as well. (There’s also a surprising number of actual alpacas for sale.) I’m not sure if I’ll end up using it, but it’s definitely there as an option.

Now, what of other fibres?

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harakeke – not my photo because it got dark so I couldn’t photograph the one in my garden

Harakeke/New Zealand flax produces a good strong fibre – similar to linen – but as far as I can tell the only people still using it are a few Maori weavers making kahu/korowai – traditional cloaks. I was able to find information on how to prepare the fibre, and how korowai are made, but so far as I can tell, there is no fibre industry around it. I haven’t ruled out using it in my garment – but it would be a lot of work, as I’d need to find, cut, and prepare the fibre myself, and then work out how to spin it, and then follow that up with either weaving or knitting a fabric for a garment. It’d be fun, and a fantastic achievement, and I’d love to be able to say I’d done it – but it’s a lot of work.

I’ve just spent an instructive evening looking into silk in New Zealand. There’s no silk industry here, but apparently you can raise the worms – a few individuals here do! I couldn’t find anyone raising on a scale that they might then sell it on (to me), however. Perhaps next year – or some distant time in the future when I have a thriving mulberry tree – I’ll try grow my own silk. That would be a fantastic adventure!

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Linum monogynum (not my photo) (the other three wikipedia photos are actually hebes)

We have one species of native Linum plant – related to linen flax – but I don’t actually know what it looks like or where it grows, so that’s out. Similarly, there are nettles around so theoretically ramie is an option, but I don’t want to have to hunt down and prepare that. (I have memories of a very large nettle bush on my grandparents’ property as a kid – perhaps if that was still there I would do the nettle thing, but it is long gone.) And as far as I can tell, no one even tries to grow cotton.

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At this stage, my most likely scenario is a 100% wool outfit – I suspect that I won’t have the time to spin and weave a flax garment, as fantastic as that would be. I’ve sourced myself some naturally coloured Romney sheep fibre to spin for a cardigan (from Otago – sourced on TradeMe), just bought 400g of undyed fingering weight wool for a knit top from Skeinz in Hastings (if I do end up with enough flax yarn to make a top of that instead, it’s also a great weight for baby garments or shawls, which means I was happy buying when I’m not 100% sure what I’m making), and am pondering the options that felting offers for making a skirt. I was unexcited about this as an option until yesterday, when I found Andrea Zittel’s beautiful garments. (Go have a look, they’re pretty stunning.) Handmade by Carolyn also made this gorgeous dress for One Year One Outfit in 2015 – like me, she has no premade fabrics and mostly only wool fibres for her outfit. I didn’t know felt could be ethereal!

I’ve also been exploring natural dyeing, but that’s a story for next time….

 

(oh, and side note: me-made-May begins tomorrow. I’ve done it in the past, and was thinking of aiming to wear a different outfit every day for the month this year – I think I can manage it. I am not making a formal pledge though, I don’t need another thing in my life this month.)

Garden parties

This, now, is a quiet weekend in between my two weeks of orthopaedic surgery placement. In a happy turn of events, the placement has turned out rather a lot better than anticipated – I was not looking forward to this, given that I don’t enjoy theatre as a thing, and also have very limited interest in trauma. I have noticed some differences of opinion between the surgeons and myself (them: “this is a very interesting case! Very exciting!” Me: “it’s… a broken arm.”) but for the most part they are lovely and keen to teach students their bits and pieces. That makes a lot of difference. As a student, you perpetually feel slightly out of place and in the way, and while friendly people around you never quite eliminates that (in my experience) it does make a lot of difference.

Given that I’m not interested in orthopaedics, I’m hoping instead to practise examining many many joints over the next few weeks – one of the most common questions to a medical student is “I hurt my knee, can you tell me what’s wrong?” Today I used my newfound knowledge with my flatmate, and was able to inform her that I’m pretty sure she hasn’t damaged any of the key structures, and therefore it is probably a sprain. (The lump on her leg, on the other hand, I did not have an opinion on…)

Well, on to the fabric side of things… Somehow  I’ve been managing to sew a little, but actually this is from over the summer.

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I made this dress for my birthday. For Christmas I made a million gifts in not enough time for that (ok, four. But one of them was my first ever swimsuit. The point stand). and this was my detox sewing – I cut it out one afternoon in the dark time in between, when I had finished two of the four gifts, one was handsewing I was doing in my lunch breaks, and the fabric for the swimsuit was seeming more and more likely not to arrive on time to sew it. I wanted something gentle to sew, with no deadline, and with proper finishes – french seams everywhere, tiny rolled hems, and a full lining.

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The pattern is based off my trusty NL 6143, as seen in several places – I really just use it as my bodice block at this point, I can’t remember when I last a) sewed it according to pattern or b) sewed a dress that wasn’t based on it at some level. Clearly, I altered it rather this time – I drew on the cap sleeves straight to the fabric, and cut it out as that, which was a mistake rather (I had to cut them down a lot to make them wearable, but I also like them better shorter) but seems to be ok. If I did it again I’d cut away the fabric a little less on the back and more on the top and front of the sleeve. In fact, I periodically consider doing it – but let’s be real, a garment once worn is not going to be altered.

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The ties were a bit of a fun experiment. I knew from the start that I wanted a dress with a slightly looser silhouette, but with ties to bring it in as much as I wanted – it’s clearly designed for summer, and there are some days that a tight-fitting waist makes the heat so much worse. I cut out pretty much as normal, but sewed all bodice seams 1/8-1/4″ smaller than intended, so got an extra 1.5″ or so in the width. The ties are three layers sandwiched together, and carefully pieced to get as much length as possible – this was actually a panel print, not border print, so the border edges were not continuous and straight, so it was a little care required.

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I’m pretty proud of how I managed the panel print. I really like how it’s lined up on the skirt, and the ties recollecting it. The skirt is made of three entirely uneven sized panels, made to the size that made sense with the print. I think the only thing I’d change is to lengthen the ties slightly, now that I see the photos. They’re also pretty frustrating from the pressing perspective – I did press them before these photos, so they’re lying reasonably well, but they tend to bunch up a bit.

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I really enjoyed the process of making this dress, and since then I’ve worn it an almost excessive number of times! It is such a lovely feeling to wear – soft and swooshy – and I feel curvy in all the best ways in it, and so elegant. I absolutely adore it, so I’m sad to be reaching the point of the year to be putting it away for a while – but that’ll just increase how excited I am for it next spring!

I took rather a number of photos of this, so there are a few more – plus some garden!

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(I adore how odd this photo is)

 

 

(All the photos are taken in the little overgrown patch at the bottom of our garden – isn’t it lovely?)

Summer is for swimming

Well, this summer hasn’t had enough swimming by my standards – but the fault for that lies in the weather and the fact that by the time the skies cleared and the wind stilled I was back to university and placements. But in theory, summer and ocean swims are inseparable in my head.

My making has crept a long way ahead of my blogging these days, but I now have a functional camera so we at least have a chance of catching up (once I take stock of what I have that I haven’t photographed – it’s hard to keep track, it’s been so long). But here’s one of the things I’m most proud of: swimming togs!

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I’ve been intending to make a pair for a long time, but I’ve also been terrified of it. So this is an achievement. There are a million things I’d do differently (starting with having a machine that caught every stitch…) but I feel amazing when I wear these, and I don’t think any of the issues are major enough to redo them. Certainly not at this stage of the summer… We’ve had many days of superb swimming weather recently, but they started at about the point where I went back to class for the year, so these have only seen the sea a handful of times.

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The fit is, well, ok. It’s good enough to wear, for sure, but the cups are too shallow and the bridge too wide for my chest, resulting in slightly less support (while being simultaneously far better support than any swimwear I’ve ever owned). I’ve also already graded the cup size up from the largest offered, and need to do another, so I’m slightly underimpressed by the pattern sizing options. I wear DD-E bras, so my bust size is large, but not actually that big. I expected better of a pattern advertised with 5 cup sizes, to be honest.

I also had a difference of about 6 sizes between my underbust and my hip measurements, which seemed excessive to me. I am pear-shaped, and normally I find my hip measurement is one size larger than my waist which is one size larger than my bust. This was not that. I get that different designers use different fit models, but actually one of the reasons I chose to do a bikini instead of a one-piece was that I didn’t want to fluff around with grading between that many sizes. (The other was that I wasn’t making a muslin because of lack of similar fabric, and width is a lot easier to fudge once you’ve constructed it than length is.)(I did fudge the width a bit, in the bottom half – it really needed width taken out at the back princess seams, but because of my construction it was easier to take it out at the side seams. I haven’t transferred it to my pattern yet, so Let This Stand for future Rowena – 3/8″ off each back princess seam please!)

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I spent some time on pattern placement. This is way more obvious on the left cup than the right. I’m pretty happy with the colour combinations, as chosen over the internet, as well. And the flowered fabric, which I didn’t intend to buy.

(OK, that’s a story I probably do want to tell. I bought this fabric from Pitt Trading in Aus, and my experience with that was pretty mixed. They sold the fabric for a good price (+1 point) and when it came it was good quality (+1) but I had to change two of the fabrics I ordered – I ordered about 5 different fabrics, for me and two sisters – because they were on the website but no longer available (-1) and we had some emails back and forth that they took as long as a week to reply to (-1). It ends out even, I guess.)

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In my ever-so-lengthy bramaking experience (three. Including this.) underwires truly are the most fiddly step of bramaking, and foam cups do make them more difficult. Foam cups are worth it if you’re going to be swimming in this and nothing else though. Definitely. And I really like the edge finish on the cups you get (you see that lovely 1/8″ line of fabric on the edge of the cup? Beautiful).

A personal style musing – I’ve never worn a bikini before in my life. I love this one. I still feel like there’s a good amount of coverage, but I also feel absolutely stunning. I feel this pattern does all the good things for my curves. I am not self-conscious swimming in this, and I do feel beautiful. (Side note – recently I’ve switched from feeling self-conscious and ashamed when people mention my belly – which is a surprisingly common occurrence – to feeling angry. My body is not their business.)

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That’s enough for today. I’ll leave you with a photo of my most beautiful plants – ka kite ano!

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(Another time I’ll talk about medicine and becoming a doctor, ok? I have many thoughts)

Summer days

In lieu of a proper garment post, here are some little photos of things I’ve been playing with in the summer…

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This is a couple of months of attempts at spinning – I’m getting better! It’s definitely fun games.

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This is some of my more recent spinning attempts – it’s a slightly different technique, which is giving me much more uneven yarn (since I haven’t practised much) but it’s much softer to feel.

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Can you see that the colour’s slightly different in these samples? It’s pretty subtle… I’ve tried out some natural dyeing over the break, but only one colour has given meaningful results. I think the ones above are bottlebrush flowers and dandelion heads, but I’ve also tried eucalypt bark, avocado pits and two types of lichens without huge success.

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Witness that one colour… This is white baby wool dyed with onion skins – I think the colour is gorgeous (this isn’t quite accurate) and the pattern is pretty lovely too. The baby it’s for was born yesterday, cardigan finished and gifted today. She’s beautiful – it was so lovely to be able to meet her so soon.

And as well as all that yarn stuff, I have been growing big carrots and tiny garlics. (The garlic is pretty sad, actually – that’s one of the larger heads. Not really a success this year.)

 

On 2016

Hello friends! It is a new year, and there is time for thinking about the old one. Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow runs an annual sewing top 5 series for blogging reflections, which I did in a more formal way last year but, yeah, it’s already 2017, that’s not happening. However, we’ll have some basic favourites and reflections at least, because I like reflecting on things.

Favourites

I made a bra! It was a few months ago, but I’ve had some issues with the getting photos business – I finally got a few poor-quality photos the week before Christmas. The socks are so wonderful, although I put a hole in the toe today – time for some darning! The dress speaks for itself (witchy dress!). The top in the middle has been an absolute staple for class time. And that hat is dearly beloved because I’ve never been a person who wears woolly hats before, and my ears thank me greatly for it.

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This dress gets an honorary place here as my Favourite Make Ever. It’s two years old, and has all sorts of things that are not perfect about it (because my skills are much better now) but I absolutely love how I feel when I’m wearing it, to such an extent that I almost bought the same fabric again when I saw it in the store last week (for the first time since 2014 – it was odd).

Reflections

I’m going to start with my 2016 goals – that’s easy.

1: Sustainability. Well, I’ve definitely repaired things more this year – in particular, my increasing stash of knitted socks – but I haven’t been thinking so much about where my fabric comes from or using scrap stash. I think there’s more work to do on this one (moves it into 2017 goals pile…)

2: Self-drafting. Hahaha that hasn’t happened. It’s not going to happen next year either – I am getting more confident with alterations, but full-on self-drafting takes too much time for my life at this point (med student and all). To be honest I’d forgotten this was a plan. Although now I think of it, I did make up a number of knitting patterns this year, so it’s not entirely a lost cause.

3: Learn other textile crafts. I deliberately left this vague to have room for whatever drew me last year, and that worked out well for me. I have learnt to spin, although I have not yet spun enough quantity for any sort of garment, and I embroidered one of my Christmas presents (and it was stunning – can’t wait to show you a photo).

4: Make a coat. I did not do this one – it is sitting, cut and begun, but I didn’t begin sewing until at least September and I just didn’t have the motivation to keep going when it was no longer winter. This one will be 2017 as well.

5: Make my own wardrobe basics. I did this, to an extent I’m not sure I expected – cardigans, class clothes, merino tops, undies, tights even… and a bra. Which I’m surprised I didn’t specify as its own goal, actually. I definitely want to make more bras, and more staples. It’s pretty rewarding having basic clothes that fit me well and are comfortable and that I made (and that are almost all merino, too. I love that stuff).

Other reflections – It’s been a busy year. I gave over a couple of months of sewing time to make bridesmaids skirts for one of my flatmates, and that turned out to be a bad idea – the problem wasn’t actually the making of them, as they were pretty simple, it was that I said yes to a thing without knowing what my workload was going to be without that thing, and therefore took on way too much (I agreed before I’d started the class year – turns out placement is super intense and I hardly sew when I’m on it, especially things for other people. Who would have guessed).

I have knitted a lot this year. To the best of my memory, it was 5 pairs of socks and one slippers, 2 sweaters, 1 hat, and my first ever shawl, as well as learning to spin, darning some of said knitted items, and doing a little embroidery (since I’m using a hand spindle, these all take up the same time slots as knitting, to some extent – although I don’t often spin when I’m out of the house). Welp, that’s a lot of productive. I have some pretty high knitting goals for the next year, but looking at what I’ve achieved actually makes them seem manageable!

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve actually got a pretty functional wardrobe, and most of it is handmade – I can’t remember the last day I wore nothing I made (it helps that I’ve made all of my favourite underwear). So I’d like to focus on bigger projects, and slower sewing, and making things that I love.

2017 Goals

1. Make a coat. Yep, this is straight from 2016.

2. Spin enough yarn for a full garment. I’m thinking a bulky winter shawl or a cardigan/sweater here – something soft and warm and entirely mine.

3. Sustainability. Darn. Mend. Track down where fabric’s coming from. Buy second-hand.

4. One Year One Outfit. This is moonlight has been hosting this challenge for two years now where you aim to make one outfit in the year from entirely locally sourced fabric, dyes, and notions. I have no idea if she’s hosting it again this year, but I am aiming to do it anyway. For me, in New Zealand, this mostly means wool. I’ve been experimenting with producing fibre from NZ flax recently, but I’m not sure where I’d go next, so maybe that might be an option? I also picked up a book on natural dying, written by a New Zealander, on New Year’s Day, so here’s to experimentation.

Four is enough. I have a side goal of blogging more often – the problem’s been my lack of camera, though, and I haven’t yet solved that, so we’ll see how that goes.

Happy new year!

Musings

I’m in a thoughtful mood at the moment. I’m on holiday, with no home work at all for the first time since January, and that leaves me plenty of time for musing on my weekends. So here’s a sampling of my thoughts.

  1. I am very overambitious when it comes to free time. I’m working essentially a 9 to 5 job at the moment (it’s a little more complicated than that, as it’s a research thing and I get a grant rather than a wage, but more or less job-like), and I still expect myself to sew, and knit, and write and spin (spinning is my new thing) and read, and be able to socialise. This weekend, as a case in point: I went to my friend’s house for a birthday yesterday evening, this morning helped some friends move, this evening am going to my mum’s concert, and tomorrow I have church. Despite all this, my weekend goals – which I didn’t think were too hefty – were to: finish sewing a top I want to wear at work next week, make the singlet I need to wear underneath it, darn a sock or two, spin and knit to an undefined quantity, make the Sunday breakfast bread, garden, read, write something, and see my sister who arrives back in town tomorrow. Now – all of these are good things, but it’s not really achievable to do them all, nor is it necessarily desirable. I like doing a little here, a little there on lots of projects, but sometimes it would be nice to sit down with something all-consuming and just do that one thing for a while. I don’t really know how to settle this feeling of so many things I could be doing and therefore so many things I’d like to be doing. It’s a thing I’m working on.
  2. I appear to have reached a state of wardrobe satisfaction. In terms of normal clothes (the bits people see…) I can fairly happily reach into my wardrobe every day and pull out something that I’ve made that makes me happy to wear that day. Honestly, this is a fantastic situation to be in, but I’m still exploring what it means in terms of my wardrobe planning and making. I have a bunch of underthings I want to make – singlets and leggings are unexciting but super useful and fast, and bras which are my new exploration area (uh, I’ve made a successful one! Just I’m having photography difficulties – as soon as I resolve them, you can be sure you’ll see it!). Other than that I have one or two work tops that’ll be useful now I’m in a proper office space, and one summer dress, and that’s… it. My hope for my one week true-holiday, before I started working, was to make most of the boring things so I can use my tiny moments of sewing time during work for the more exciting things. Unfortunately that was a case of point 1 – but that’s ok, I can work slowly and patiently. I think, though, that I am hoping to work n a slower and more deliberate fashion over the next while, so that I produce fewer items of clothing (apart from the aforesaid necessary underthings) but everything that I produce is very high quality.
  3. I’d also like to feed that into a feeling that I can afford to spend precious making-time making things for other people.
  4. I can’t believe that I’ve reached the point of making leggings and cardigans! I thought I would be making pretty dresses forever, as recently as two years ago…

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(This post is brought to you by my hat because a) today is hat weather and b) the hat feels like the first foretaste of this whole slow, careful making business, early this year before I articulated it at all)