Thursday, 12 July 2018

Handmade Fabrics; Supporting traditional textile making

This fabric was gifted to me by The Delhi Store.  My love for this fabric is real, and not sponsored!

As a maker, I value handmade.

So many fabrics are mass produced that I feel like I'm falling into the "fast fashion" trap when I buy them, although I am making my garments I still wonder "who made my fabric"?

When I was contacted by The Delhi Store (soon to be launched as Fabrics & Notions website) I was thrilled!

Their fabrics are sourced directly from the Artisans across India and are all handmade.  There is something so special about sewing with handmade fabric!  To know I'm creating with my hands, with something from the hands of another maker gives me all the good feels!

Here is some info from the owner of The Delhi Store:

Eclectic collection of handloom fabrics, hand block printed fabrics and vintage sarees.

I've been fascinated with textiles for as long as I can remember. As a little girl, I was in awe of my granny's and mother's beautiful saris. I remember, that once my grandma gave me an old blue silk georgette saree to play with, that had beautiful metallic dots all over, and I used it as a canopy over a small tree, and imagined it was a beautiful night sky full of bright, little stars.

After completing college and working in IT education for a while I left my job as I wasn't enjoying it much. I have always been the creative type and an admirer of handicrafts of all sorts.
I am especially drawn to the centuries old art of making hand printed, handwoven, hand embroidered textiles.

Within India, there are so many types of weaving, printing and embroidery techniques that are practiced. Sadly, these techniques are dying a slow death, as the artisans don't get what they deserve for their hard work.This is my small endeavour to save these intriguing techniques from vanishing completely.

You might get such fabrics much cheaper elsewhere but think before you buy; are you contributing to sweatshop practices?

Isn't that inspiring?!!

 With the beautiful cotton chambray I was gifted I made a self drafted elastic waisted midi skirt (with pockets I copied from an 80's McCalls pattern and use whenever I can!!).  The top I made is the top from the Kate Tea Dress by Designer Stitch.  This dress pattern also gives you the options of making separates, which I think is awesome!  I added 5cm to the top length for my height. 

The fabric is beautiful quality; much better quality than the price would suggest!  Handmade fabric always has slight irregularities, however it's part of its charm.  This fabric is lightweight, but not sheer, with great drape.  It will be perfect for summer!

I used some decorative stitches around the neckline of my top (you can read more about that soon on the Husqvarna Viking Australia blog).  I'm still having so much fun with my Designer Jade 35 machine!  I love that it feels like a machine I won't "outgrow" as I'm always discovering new stitches!

If you follow me on IG you'll know that I've just come back from Bali.  I was SO inspired by and impressed with the skills of the Balinese textile Artisans.  I was lucky enough to see cotton being dyed and to watch hand weaving which was truly hypnotic!  

Beautifully woven plains, breathtaking Ikat's and dreamy batik fabrics are all made on the island of Bali.  Sadly, the traditional textile industry is diminishing due to industrialization.  Machine made fabrics are faster, cheaper and can be made in larger quantities.  Young people are not learning the textile arts from their elders because they can't make a living from it. I was really touched by that fact, and it has been on my heart to do what I can to help support these beautiful people and their amazing skills and traditions.  

I'm proud to be a maker, supporting other makers!

Monday, 28 May 2018

Matilda Shirt Dress by Megan Neilsen


It was love at first sight with the Matilda Shirt Dress by Megan Neilsen.  I bought it right away, glued together & cut out the pdf (yes, I prefer glue to tape. It's a controversial divide in the pdf pattern community!!!) and then it sat in my sewing room.  I even had the perfect fabric for it in my stash!

At the time I was using a vintage machine, which meant manual buttonholes.  Try as I might, my buttonholes were always different sizes which made me crazy!!  You can read more about my experience with my new Designer Jade 35 machine over on the Husqvarna Viking Australia blog.

To make this pattern fit me, I added 2.5cm to the bodice length (may do slightly less next time) and 10cm to the skirt length.  I graded between XS & S sizes too.

The dress has a lot of pieces, but the instructions are really clear and easy to follow (I actually followed them!).  I love the fit of the dress which makes me want to try more of Megan Neilsen's patterns!  I like that the waistband and yoke are lined and don't get me started on those great skirt pockets...love!!!

The shape of the skirt is really great too, swishy without being too much of a fabric hog!  I find that the buttons can pull when you sit in straighter shirt dresses, but that doesn't happen with this skirt.  All in all, this is a shirt dress that I'm really happy with!

It is a pattern I'll make again, perhaps I'll try adding sleeves for cooler weather. 

Happy Sewing!
xox Allison

Sunday, 20 May 2018

My first 6 months with a computerized machine


I've had a number of questions about my machine, the Designer Jade 35 from Husqvarna Viking, so I thought I'd write a post with my impressions and experience thus far.

First up, let me say that I am a blogger for Husqvarna Viking which I how I came to be the proud owner of this machine.  However, my opinions are honest.  This isn't a sales pitch!

Before owning the Designer Jade 35 (a sewing and embroidery machine) all of my sewing was done on a 1976 Bernina.  When I was taking Textiles and Design in high school, we didn't use computerized machines.  Either they weren't around (it was the late 80's/early 90's) or they would have been WAY too expensive to let a bunch of high school girls loose on!

A computerized machine offers a lot of features that I was a bit skeptical of...
For example, the automatic thread cutter...is it really that hard to snip a thread?  I'd never found it a chore previously!  And the stop start button... again, I'd never found using the peddel controller an issue!

Sure, these features are not necessities but after using them for the last 6 months (and I do use them, although at first I thought I wouldn't!) they are GREAT!  Oh they make life easier and sewing just a little bit more pleasurable.  I equate it to having a car with air conditioning; sure you can get places just as well in a car which doesn't have air conditioning but isn't it so much nicer to ride in air conditioned comfort (especially when stuck in Sydney's airport tunnel or M5 tunnel...or any tunnel really...)!

Here are a few features that I'm totally in love with:

- The fix stitch, with the press of a button (happens automatically when you start sewing, unless you've turned it off).  You can achieve this on a manual machine with a reverse stitch but the fix stitch is just so much neater and easier!

- I've already mentioned the thread cutter & stop/start button (rather than using the peddle controller).

- The built in stitch advisory: you press the button for the type of fabric you have, including leather (!!), and the type of stitch you want (seam, overcast, buttonhole etc) and the machine sets the perfect stitch.  No more digging out the manual or just giving it a good guess!

- Stretch stitch - this is not just a zig zag!  It gives you a much better result when sewing knits.

- Automatic buttonholes.  I feel like I don't need to say anything more here...I mean, automatic buttonhole!!!  With my mechanical machine my buttonholes were always slightly different sizes and I was never 100% happy with them (although, it was still better than stitching them by hand!).  However, automatic buttonholes are a dream!  The Designer Jade 35 sews them SO fast & they are perfect each and every time!

- Moving needle position - you can move the needle incrementally to the left or right which makes a huge difference with zip insertion, top stitching, hemming etc.  I just love it!

- Adjustable speed.  I'm a put my foot down and go kind of person and I love the speed of the Designer Jade 35, however sometimes you need to slow it down!  I was recently making a bowl out of fabric scraps & couldn't understand why my thread kept breaking, however I discovered that when I slowed the speed of the machine the breakage stopped.  I guess I was just sewing faster than the thread could handle!

- Alerts: speaking of broken thread, the machine tells you if your thread breaks & stops sewing!  I've been known to get to the end of the seam & discover that my thread broke somewhere at the beginning, now that doesn't happen!  It also tells you if the machine needs to rest for a moment, which is great.

- Machine embroidery: the Designer Jade 35 also does machine embroidery, which I absolutely LOVE.  Hello monogrammed everything!  I am not going to say too much about the embroidery here, as it will be an endless post, but it is SO easy to switch over to embroider.  You just slide on the module, change your foot, needle & thread and you're away!  Not only is embroidery on clothing really on trend right now, but it makes me feel like I'm designing my own fabric.  I'm taking a piece of cloth and making it uniquely mine, not just by the garment I make but with the embroidery I choose.  I love it!

I could keep raving but don't want this to be an endlessly long post!  I just wanted to highlight my observations and share what I love about this machine.  

If, like me, you are using an older machine and aren't sure if all the bells and whistles of a computerized machine are worth it, let me tell you they are!  Sewing is even easier and more enjoyable with all the features I have available to me on the Designer Jade 35 (and I still haven't even tried them all!!).

I hope this answers some of the questions I was asked on IG, if you have other questions please leave them in comments and I'll get back you to!

I have acquired some optional extra feet for the Designer Jade 35 so will write a post shortly about those.

Happy Sewing!

Image from Husqvarna Viking...my sewing space isn't this cool!