Work wardrobe

I work in a pretty casual office, where work-appropriate clothing just means you’re covered, basically. My (female) boss often wears shorts and thongs to work in the summer. I am probably the most formally dressed of the lot of us – I never wear shoes with laces to the office (well except for that one pair of oxfords) and I never wear jeans. But still, my work wardrobe has tended more casual and comfortable, especially over the last two years where I have not felt well (gluten stuff) and not really had the extra energy to think about how I dress for work. For instance for the last few weeks, all I’ve worn to work are my penny pinafores and lady skater dresses – comfy, stretchy knits.

It’s nice to be able to be so casual, but I’d also like to be able to put some thought and care into how I present myself. It makes me feel happy to do so. I’m starting to have the energy to do so more and more – but not the means. Plus sized work clothes are expensive, and scarce. And then you’re faced with the issue, universal to all sizes but really accentuated at the upper end, of whether you really want to pay $70 for a polyester skirt that barely fits.

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Here’s a photo of some clouds to break up the wall of text.

So I’ve been meaning to sew some more work gear for some time, but just not getting to it. But now my job is dwindling, the work the business is getting in has slowed to a trickle, and so I’m really upping my job searching. For which I obviously need, at a minimum, some interview clothes. And ideally enough clothes for a week, so if (when? Please?) I do get a new job I don’t have to worry about getting or making more clothes. I’m only working 2 days a week at the moment, and I’m trying to use one of my free days for job applications, and another day for sewing. It’s nice to have big blocks of time to sew in, especially since I am currently sharing my sewing room with several computers. Uh… did I even mention that S and his son have moved in with me? Well, they have. And now the craft room is the study/craft room. Most of my stash is in boxes in the shed, and my sewing machines are still set up on their own table but I’ve not got as much room to spread out as I used to. They are happy to work around me, or to move to another room, but it’s just more tricky to sew when they’re home.

Anyway, since I have almost nothing in my wardrobe, this is the perfect opportunity to think about what I actually wear and like, and make a capsule type wardrobe. I spent a couple hundred dollars of my tax return on fabric at spotlight during their 40% off sale, and I have a stash of patterns already. So now I have to sew!

Fair warning, I’m going to bang on a fair bit about what I want to sew, because it’s helpful to me to have a plan. And it’ll be interesting to check back and see what changed in the process. Feel free to check out and come back when the actual sewing starts. I already own all the patterns and fabric mentioned, unless otherwise specified, and I want to avoid buying much more until I am working again. I can justify a metre or two, especially if it’s for something specific. But if I already have pattern and fabric for something in that category, I need to make do first. No buying more navy fabric for skirts until I have sewn all the black skirts I need, for example. That way lies empty wallets and too-full craft rooms. I can’t deny that part of this effort is also to use up some of the fabric in my drawers. Then I can bring in more from the shed, maybe!

Excessive talking below the cut.

Continue reading “Work wardrobe”


Ironing is not my favourite thing. Of all the household tasks, I would say it’s my least favourite except that I can at least opt out of ironing. Dishes, not so.

However, ironing is less optional when sewing. My ironing board is fine but it just had the dodgy cover it came with, which kept slipping off, and the foam pad was so thin that I would occasionally get a waffle pattern on whatever I was ironing, from the frame.

It was sad.

I also had to replace my old mattress protector because it had shrunk a bit in the wash, and had generally seen better days. I doubled it over, laid the foam on top as a pattern, and cut it out about an inch wider than the foam. Then I overlocked the edges. Just happened to have blue thread in there and couldn’t be bothered changing it.

The end bit with the iron rest doesn’t have anyway to fold it under, so I kept the fabric even with the board there. I read some tutes where people quilted their mattress pad fabric together but I didn’t bother. The back of the mattress protector was a bit sticky and I made sure I pulled it together when I overlocked it, so I don’t think it’ll be a problem.

I considered folding it over and using cord to cinch it in but I didn’t want more bulk. Instead, I just got some knitting cotton and did a big running stitch around it. Then I pulled it tight, did some fiddling to get it to sit evenly, and tied it off.

Couldn’t get a decent close up of the stitching since it’s beige, but it’s not really photo-worthy anyway. Here’s what it looks like with just the pad. I made sure to pull the cotton nice and tight so that the pad doesn’t slip or pull. I am really pleased with how firm it came out.

That’s my drawer of half-finished projects and my toolbox notions storage behind it, plus a washing basket full of fabric that I am determined not to let become stash. I WILL sew with it soon.

Next, I lay the board down on the fabric I wanted to cover it with – I could have used the original pad again but I wanted to be sure it was right, and the foam was actually slightly the wrong shape. I used some drill I had bought from Spotlight because I loved the print and wanted to make a skirt out of it, but I decided it had too much white in it to be safe. I catch the bus to work and I don’t want to spend too much time thinking about my clothes and what I might be sitting on – not to mention the things I smear on myself while eating, etc. I am not to be trusted with white things.

I left a good length away from the board, I think maybe 5″, but I could have done with a little less. 4″ would be about right, I think.

I turned the edge twice – once as a baby hem, and then a a 1″ hem to be the elastic casing. I just turned and stitched the bit at the end with the iron rest.

Then I threaded the elastic.

This is what I mean when I said I probably left too much overhang. I wanted to be sure it covered the pad underneath but because it’s so far away from the edge it doesn’t cinch in as tightly as I’d like. I might take it off later and fold it over again if I can be bothered. It’s a little bit loose but it’s only really annoying when you fold and unfold the board, it’s tight enough not to affect the ironing. I just tied the elastic in a double knot and trimmed the ends a bit shorter.

Tada! New ironing board cover that actually makes me happy to look at, and a use for some would-be stash fabric. It was a nice,  quick project that took me about an hour and a half all up, including thinking about how I was going to do it.

I read a bunch of tutes for this before deciding it was simple enough that I could just wing it – it really is a pretty simple process. But if anyone wants to ask me for clarification on anything I did, just leave a comment and I’m happy to help you out.

Well, hello there

Fancy seeing you! In a place like this… A nice girl like y…

That wasn’t where I was going with that. 

I appear to have fallen off the edge of the world again.

Short story short, holiday was FANTASTIC.  As last time, the highlight was meeting up with all you imaginary internet people.  As last time, I fully intend to write it up, or at least hit the highlights, but since I have a million photos to wade through and upload first, I don’t like your chances.  For those who are wondering, the photo breakdown goes something like this: 100 photos of alpacas.  50 of sheep.  100 of grafitti.  50 of random buildings.  50 of the sky.  About 10 of actual people or events, most of which ALSO include an alpaca, a sheep, or grafitti.

Going back to work was TOUGH.  I didn’t really have enough time after I got back to settle into my life again, and I am still sick.  Still can’t ride my bike in.  And I am not happy about it at all.  So the last week I’ve been sort of in hiding mode again, trying to recover from the shock.

My holiday didn’t make me any more patient with people – I still grit my teeth whenever someone brings me a job and then talks to me about it for longer than the job would take – but it did make it easier to hide, or ignore, which is even better.  This week has been report week, so there’s been a fair amount of said teeth gritting.  It’s been one of those weeks where I’m either frantically working or waiting for content and approvals, and actually have nothing to do.  But I’m working on not working myself up as much, and I’m doing ok with it.

Besides, I have something else to think about in the in between times.  I’ve started the wheels turning on an etsy store!  It’s called Said The Sparrow, and there’s currently nothing in it.  But it has a lovely banner from Thompson Designs, who were lovely working with me and my mind changing about what I wanted.  I’ve also ordered a custom stamp (along with one of the lovely bookplate ones) from Asspocket Productions (her shop name makes me smile every time I see it).  Who were also lovely with my mind changing.  It’s been strange to be a design client for once.  I’m sure I was super annoying!

Anyway, I have made a few prototypes for friends and family, on the proviso that they pose for photos.  This has had the two-birds impact of helping me work out the kinks of what I’m doing, and getting photos for custom orders.  Oh, and distributing the tutu love and joy, of course!  So, three birds.  Howzat!  Hopefully I’ll get them photographed this weekend, and then I can have actual products in my little store.

It’s lovely to have a purpose.  I’m not saying my life was without ultimate purpose last week, or that this provides it.  But it has given me a direction for crafting, and an impetus to do more of it.  And I forget how good making things makes me feel, even when the process is not so perfect.  And while I am certainly not going to be able to quit my job any time soon, or probably ever, to do the store – and that’s not my aim – it has been good to feel like my job isn’t me – it’s something I spend my time doing, but it’s not really what  I do.

Anyway, wish me luck!