Fabric shopping in Bali – Klungkung market and Jalan Sulawesi in Denpasar

Hello everyone! I took a little unintentional hiatus there. I’m not going to apologise, however, because starting a blog post with an apology about how long it’s been since you posted is even more boring than asking, during a monopoly game, ‘what if this money were real’?

I do have a bit of a backlog of makes, which I had initially intended to blog and schedule to go up while S and I were on holiday in Bali a couple weeks back. However, when it came down to it I… just didn’t want to. I’d been doing a bunch of sewing in prep for the holiday, because my summer wardrobe is a bit minimal, and I was also pattern testing (that post to come soon I hope) and I just ran out of steam for blogging. So I didn’t. No need to make blogging a chore, right? It’s a hobby, it’s supposed to be fun. I’ll get to those makes eventually, but I picked up a revolting cold on the plane back and now I’m back at work and not feeling very motivated to blog OR to sew. Honestly it’s nice to have a break, and it will all still be here later, when I feel like it again.

I thought, though, that I would do a quick post and tell you about the fabric shopping I did in Bali, because before I went I looked into it and found other people’s blog posts very useful. I also found that there’s much more from the point of view of quilters, so I thought some garment-fabric perspective might be good. I will apologise for my truly terrible photos in this post, though. I was quickly snapping them while buying stuff and they’re fuzzy and wonky and… well… I was focusing on the buying not the photographing! I’ve linked to the trip advisor pages for both locations and they have more photos if you’re curious, they give a pretty good idea of the places and what there is there to buy.

I hired a driver for the day – we had a day tour earlier and hired the same driver. We were thinking about doing shopping and then maybe something touristy on the way back, time allowing. In the event, S stayed home as he was a little unwell and I went by myself, so I ended up just doing the shopping.

Klunkung market

The first place I went was the Klungkung traditional markets. It’s ostensibly about 30 minutes from Ubud where we stayed but with traffic that was more like 45 minutes. I’m not sure if there is anything particular around the markets but we passed some attractions like the Elephant cave on the way (closer to Ubud), so if you were staying in Ubud and wanted to go, you could maybe fold it in to a trip to look at some temples. The scenery on the way was spectacular, too, frankly the drive itself was a wonderful experience.

The market was just amazing. It was PACKED with gorgeous fabric, woven traditionally (although not natural dyes) for about 1/3 of what you would pay for it elsewhere in Bali – which is again drastically cheaper than in Australia, if you could even find it. The most expensive fabric I saw was 120,000 IDR which is about AU$13 per metre.

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Just stacks and stacks and STACKS of gorgeous Ikat. There was also plenty of non-Ikat fabric. I bought two lengths of ikat, two of solid coloured fabric, and also a large scale gingham. There was also lots of stripes and checks and all kinds of patterns. Mostly shirting weight or a bit heavier.

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Here’s my haul. I had real trouble photographing those solids, the colour is so rich and the photos wash them out. They’ve got a bit of a shot cotton effect.

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I bought 5M of each of these solids thinking that would be enough to make a shirtdress but of course it’s woven on a traditional loom so they’re only 1M wide. I should still get some kind of dress out of that length, it might just have to be short sleeved and not have a giant pleated skirt. Perhaps another B6055? Whatever I make out of this will be glorious, the fabric has such a wonderful hand and the depth of colour is stunning.

The solids were something like IDR 60,000 (about AUD$7) per metre and the ikats were just under IDR100,000 (about AUD$11) per metre. A steal. The woman who I bought the majority of this from had very minimal English, but everyone in the market knew ‘how much?’ and ‘per metre’ and if things got hairy after that they would punch the number out on their calculator. As I was buying these a couple of French women were buying with only hand gesticulations, so language isn’t an issue. You can bargain, but I didn’t really bother because everything was already so cheap – a 50c per metre difference is not much for me but it’s a lot for the vendor. I did get an automatic discount for buying multiple lengths in one spot, which is a standard thing around Bali, so bear that in mind.

The Ikats, hanging out to dry
The Ikats, hanging out to dry. They were a bit stiff but softened up nicely with a wash.

I was actually so overwhelmed by the fabric that I didn’t even look at the other areas of the market! I will just have to go back another time… If you are considering going and you have the time during a stay in Bali, I would definitely recommend the Klungkung markets. Even had I not bought anything, I think it was worth it as an experience. I wish I’d had enough money to buy more of the stripes and planer fabrics because I think they would be excellent ways to work a bit more interest into a handmade wardrobe like mine, where I prefer solids but don’t want to be boring. I also wanted to get some Ikat with a black background to maybe make a shirt with Steven, but without him there I couldn’t find one I was sure he’d like, so I left them behind.

Jalan Sulawesi in Denpasar

The next stop was Jalan Sulawesi in Denpasar – the fabric street. This was about an hour’s drive or perhaps a bit more from Klungkung. If you’re already staying in Denpasar, or going there on a day tour, I would definitely recommend a stop over at Jalan Sulawesi. I spent just under an hour there and got some excellent stuff.

In the Trip Advisor photos it looks quite open and easy but my experience was that it was CRAMMED. The parking is down one end of the one-way street, and there were tonnes of cars. It was very hot and sunny, and the strip of shops have awnings pulled down to protect the fabric and people from the sun so it was a lot more claustrophobic than in the Trip Advisor pics. The shops themselves are just totally filled to the brim with fabrics, so you have to sidle through, the exception being the store selling quilting fabric, which is very open. I did stop and buy a jellyroll as a gift and it was reasonably priced and the fabrics look beautiful. However of course I was much more interested in the garment fabrics.

I found the first couple of stores a bit of a bust, lots of fussy prints and polyester. Some nice fabrics (lots of Liberty knock offs) but not to my taste. But further in there were some real gems. I find it hard, in Adelaide, to find good, solid basics, especially in bottom-weight fabrics. Here I found plenty, as well as lots of shirting weight cottons and linen in every weight and quality you could want!

The viscose I ended up buying
The viscose I ended up buying

I did find I got hassled a fair bit – there was a woman there who I think must be a bit of a broker for some stores because she followed me down the row trying to talk me into buying things at various stores. She did in the end talk me into some linen. She saw I was also interested in the viscose there but at that point I had run out of money and didn’t buy any. However after heading back to the car I decided that I would just go back to our resort rather than stopping for lunch, and that I would regret the viscose so I went back and spent my lunch money on it! The store owners seemed pleased that I was paying them directly, so I don’t know what that woman’s relationship with the stores was or if I did something very rude by not going through her. Honestly I found her very annoying and it made it hard for me to shop like I wanted to. Next time I would be more aggressive about refusing people like that and just doing my own shopping.

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Viscose selection

I spent the most in a shop a couple down from the quilting store. Partly because they had some really excellent basics, but also because they pretty much left me alone unless I asked a question. They had tonnes and TONNES of linen, and they also had swatch cards so you could flip through easily and then they’d find that one for you on the shelves. There was some lovely patterned linen that I lusted over but didn’t buy because I was mostly looking for solids. I did buy there two long lengths of ‘baby canvas’ – a rich warm beige and a black – and honestly I wish I had bought about 10m of each instead of 3 of the beige and 5 of the black. This is exactly the sort of thing I always want and is almost impossible to find here. It was about AUD$5 a metre. I bought this with my grandma in mind – she has asked me to make her a skirt but lamented the lack of good fabric. ‘What’s happened to gaberdine?’ she wanted to know ‘Where did gaberdine go?’ Good question, Grandma, I wish I knew the answer. Anyway I also got 5m of ‘supernova’ fabric for a shirtdress, although now it’s pre-washed I’m worried it might be a bit light for that. It’s like a very very light chambray. If it doesn’t become a dress it will be an excellent top of some kind. It was about AUD$4 a metre.

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My haul from jalan Sulawesi – plus the large scale gingham from Klungkung markets.  The two on the left are the baby canvas and the middle are linen and ‘supernova’ cotton – or maybe it was a cotton linen blend?

Swatch cards - very handy
Swatch cards – very handy

The store where I tool the most snaps was the one where I eventually caved and bought the linen – again to make a skirt for my grandma, if she likes it. I hope she does like it because it’s a bit too beige for me, but it’s a very lovely heavy, drapey linen. This store had a lot of nice linen also, higher quality than the other store and appropriately a bit more expensive. The linen was more like AUD$12 a metre. This is also where I bought the viscose and they had some really nice prints – a nano iro knock off and some nice botanical prints. I went with the ferns. No idea what it will be, I got 3M so that’s enough for a plain dress or a top maybe. It’s a nice weighty fabric. What would you turn it into?

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Look at all those linens! I am in lust with those stripes but I keep buying shirting weight fabrics in blue and white stripes so I’m not allowed any more until I make something with them!

Anyway. That was my haul and I only got about five stores down! Then I’d spent all my money and went home 😛 Another time I would like to go the whole length of the street before buying anything, which was my intention but then I started getting hassled and got flustered. It was quite overwhelming, lots of things happening and lots of choices, so be prepared. It absolutely was worth it for me because I honestly just don’t have access to those fabrics here, at least not within my budget. I didn’t see many knit fabrics – a few but not many – but who knows what was further down the street!

I was going to go to Alta Moda in Kuta as well, but given that with traffic it’s another 45-60 minutes each way, and that I’d already spent my money, I gave it a miss. I’ve heard it’s a wonderland, although more expensive. I bet I would have found some knits there. Perhaps next time.

Even considering the cost of the driver for the day, this came out at a very good price for fabric – especially for a fussy cheapskate like me! Got some good quality stuff at very low prices. I’ve managed to cram it into my stash but only because my pre-holiday sewing cleared up some room. I really really need to focus on sewing down that stash. I’m helped by the fact that the Spotlight in town has closed, so it’s much harder to get sucked in to sales prices for fabric I don’t really need. I’m hoping this will mean fewer, but better, stash acquisitions. There’s still Lincraft for notions and they have better basic fabrics and zips etc anyway, so it’s not like I’m deprived.

Anyway, I hope that was of use or interest to someone! Now I just have to start planning what to do with my haul…

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Bonny swim set

You guys, I am a MAGICIAN. Look!

I made SWIMWEAR.

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Ok so it’s not that big of a deal, what with all you geniuses out there making actual bras and couture coats and the like, but honestly, I feel like a g-d genius. And so THRILLED.

I probably should have done this photoshoot at the beach but it’s COLD and I couldn’t wait to show you this. I fully intend to report back one this one gets the actual swim test, so perhaps I’ll do another photoshoot in a more appropriate location then.

This is the Patterns4Pirates swim set, consisting of the Siren swim top and the Hello Sailor swim bottoms (you get a discount if you buy them together). I had seen these before but first thought about making them myself when I saw Michelle’s review on the Curvy Sewing Collective.

The top seemed like just what I have been looking for for… maybe a decade. Even when I fit into RTW swimwear I couldn’t find something to fit my specs. All I wanted was a bikini top that acted like a bra – I wear wireless bras also so wireless is much better for me especially in something like a swim top where I want a lot of movement and comfort. And I wanted it to NOT be a halterneck. My boobs are heavy. They are heavy enough that I have neck issues just from carrying them around wearing a good supportive bra (and I have comparatively small boobs – I’m an E/DDD cup which is honestly not that big) so WHY in all that is good would I want to literally hang them off of my neck? That’s a recipe for both a migraine and a black eye. No thanks.

Of course, I could never find such a top. I have some ok one pieces, and they are great for swimming laps but I really really really wanted a bikini. S even bought me a custom made one off of etsy for christmas one year but it just doesn’t fit right and… it’s a halter neck. So I never wear it and then I feel sad.

So. I saw this bikini and I thought ‘I bet I could do that’. I bought my fabric from the Remnant Warehouse and it came so quick, I was impressed. The fabric is this Aqua Life chlorine resistant stuff and I also bought aqua swim lining and rubber elastic from them. The fabric was really nice and actually quite easy to work with, although slippery enough that I had to go slow. The one issue I had that it was quite hard to tell the right side from the wrong side, to the extent that either the top or the bottom is cut the wrong way. And they BOTH have the grainline running sideways because  I cut the top, decided I’d cut it the wrong way and sewed it so the cross grain is on front, and then did the same with the bottom. But the other way.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter because there is equal stretch both ways – I know, because I tried to use that to give me an indication of the right side! In the end, I just used the side that felt nicest because it clearly looks pretty much the same to me. Next time I would choose which side is the right side at the start and mark that, and make sure I track it while I’m sewing, so at least I will be consistent. That said, I honestly don’t think you can tell that the top and the bottoms are different sides of the fabric. I used poly thread and lightning stitch throughout and I started out with a regular foot before switching to my walking foot, which made it a lot easier.

You’re a KITTY!

My overlocker is in for a service and it’s waiting for a part so I just went ahead and did it all on my sewing machine. That means there’s a couple of unfinished seams on both top and bottom where the bands attach, but I can always go back and finish them later.

I did not like the way the pattern pdf was constructed at ALL. It’s a no trim pattern, where you just overlay the sheets of paper on each other. Which is great in theory but it made it a bit hard to see if I was lining it up properly because there’s no grid or joining marks. There were also a couple of pieces where corners and curves were missing because they fell within the edges of the paper that doesn’t get printed. Not a fan. However, I liked pretty much everything else about the pattern – it’s well drafted, the instructions are great, the pdf is tiled so you can print just the size you want, or a few sizes to grade between (a thing I did not realise when I printed them), the pieces are laid out in a logical order so you can just print the first section for the most basic parts of the pattern, and the instructions tell you which pages to print for what view (another thing I did not realise before printing). I really appreciated the range of options in this pattern, plus extra hack ideas on the website. It’s the sort of thing that’s easy to draft but it involves more trial and error than I’m happy with for something like swimwear so I don’t really want to do it myself. So when it’s included in a pattern I feel I’m getting value for money and also that I’m in the hands of someone who cares about her customers.

Mhm. Uh hunh. You don’t say!

The sizing is laid out really well in the pattern, and how to pick your size is explained well. For the top, the biggest three sizes have quite a gap between – I fell between a size XXL and a size 1XL. My bust size is high bust 41″, full bust 46″, under bust 37.5″. I graded between size XXL and 1XL, which was easy to do as it’s a simple pattern shape, and cut a 5″ front length. I did spend like five minutes looking for the band pattern piece before realising you’re just given cut specs for it. I rescind my statement above that I am a genius.

For the top, I chose to use the elastic gathering method for the bust side rouching, because I figured it would act like gentle boning and add a bit of support, which I think worked really well. Obviously it’s not actual boning but it helps hold it in place, especially as I have firm rubber elastic. I only had thin elastic as that’s all that I could find available, so for the straps I threaded two pieces in side by side. I didn’t actually read that there are cut lengths for this part (whoops, doing a lot of not reading atm…), I just fed it in so that it sat at rest inside the straps, and then I basted it in place before sewing the straps in.

I chose the straight straps for ease of getting it on, which I think was good – it’s quite tight by necessity, and so it’s a bit hilarious to get in, especially as my high bust/underbust measurements are so far apart (lots of tugging and rearranging) although it got easier as I tried it on and the elastic got a bit less rigid. I don’t find this a problem but it’s worth noting for people who have a similar or higher bust/underbust ratio to me, and who have mobility issues. If the under bust wasn’t so much smaller it would be ok, so perhaps a drawstring or something would help in that instance? I guess it’s the price for having a no-clasp swim top. I did try stepping into it rather than pulling it over my head, but because my hips are about the same measurement as my bust (but less smooshy – when I put it on over my head I basically have to put it on one boob at a time. TMI city!) it was no go. Something to think about if I want to make a one piece out of this, I guess, I might not be able to use elastic all the way around in that case. Perhaps I could just use it at the front?

Bust gathers

The first part went together so incredibly quickly, but then the fiddly bits and sizing slowed me down. The straps took me a while, and the under bust band totally tripped me up. My under bust size is 37.5, which is again in between sizes. I initially cut the smaller size, because I figured that was a good place for negative ease, since almost all the support of the top comes from the band. Yeah, nope. That’s not a part of my body that has any give (my ribcage) so the band was super tight and rolled up and uncomfortable. I ended up unpicking it, recutting it at 27″ (right in between the suggested sizes for the two sizes I’m in between. Duh). I also switched around the construction a bit here. The instructions have you just double over the material and sew it on the top, but I decided that I wanted to put some elastic in there for more support. What I ended up doing was placing the top and the opened out  band RS together, and basting it with a straight stitch. Then I used a long zig zag stitch to baste some at-rest elastic around the top – so not stretching it at all. THEN I folded the band over and sewed it with lightning stitch, as directed by the pattern.

Two basting stitches still in there.

This resulted in an unfinished seam but it works, and I can always finish it when my overlocker gets back to me. I think I would use this construction method another time, it worked really well (although I was too busy winging it to take pics, sorry! If anyone desperately wants to know leave a comment and I can try to show you on a mockup) and then I’d just finish the seam with serging.

I did not realise when I re-sewed the band on that I’d sewn the join at the front instead of the back, whoops. But actually, the band rolls upwards and you can never see it so… that’s fine? I have a big dent in my chest there from where my bra band sits so the rolling up is inevitable. It’s wide and tight enough to still provide solid support so I’m not worried. This top definitely passed the jump test although we’ll see if it passes the actual swimming test.

Nothing aint going nowhere

I initially thought the top was a bit tight, particularly under the arms, and I was wishing I’d cut the bigger size. But having worn it for photos, it eased out just enough that I think I made the right choice. It was incredibly comfy after about a minute of wear. I think a good change would be to go up a size but use power mesh in the front, which I think would give good support as well as maybe mitigating my always-visible nipple situation – but I didn’t buy any power mesh, so. The support in this top is coming from negative ease, so it needs the squish factor it has.

Flushed with success, I cut out the bottoms. I thought I’d try the side panel version, for fun. I was already thinking I might do the one piece hack and the plainest bottoms would be best for that so I thought I’d get this one in first. Plus, I thought it would be easier to adjust the sizing if I needed it.

Size wise, I was closer to the chart for this one. My waist and thigh measurements are band on the 1XL size. My hip measurement is an XL – that’s two sizes lower! I ummed and ahed and then I ended up just cutting the straight size 1XL because I figured it would be easy to take it in especially with the side panels. In the end I think it came out totally perfect!

I had a bit of trouble easing in the crotch curve, but managed it in the end. I found the notches for the pattern pieces did not match up at ALL on a lot of the pieces. It’s possible this was user error though because I tend to be slapdash about notches if I know they’re not 100% necessary, and they did match up where matching was actually necessary for precision.

I was a bit skeptical about the elastic cut sizes for the leg, and also couldn’t quite work out if I was reading the instructions on how to sew it right, so I basted the leg elastic first. I’m really glad I did because it was TIIIIIIGHTTTTT. The instructions say not to ease it at all in the front of the leg but I found it so tight that I couldn’t help easing it a bit there, and it dug in to me. I wonder if my rubber elastic is more firm than the expected elastic?

You can see the bust gathers at work here

I unpicked it and cut it with an extra 2″, and rebasted. It seemed to work pretty well, although my second leg has a better distribution because I’d gotten the hang of it more. The first leg I did has a spot at the back where I didn’t pull it enough and a spot at the front where it’s a bit tight, but it’s fine. I also turned the fabric under so the raw edge wasn’t showing, based the elastic on that and THEN turned and sewed. I think if I’d had an overlocker available I might have been fine with the technique given, but I didn’t want the unfinished edge there.

The leg edges are for sure the dodgiest part of this make. I think I probably should have used a twin needle rather than a lightning stitch – I had to go back and do another row of stitching in some places but on the other hand, I really appreciate the stretch power of the lightning stitch there. It’s going to be a stress point, so it’s nice to have them feel solid. They look alright on, and I think they’re pretty good for a first go. Next time I would take extra time in this bit. There’s no rush! The bits where I basted and went extra slow are definitely better.

Messy

For the waistband I cut a strip the width suggested and then held it around me until it fit right, and then used that. It ended up being 34.5″ which is a bit longer than recommended. I think I probably could have made it a bit tighter, as it creeps down a bit after some movement, but it’s am ok compromise for comfort, although I worry it will stretch out with wear. High waisted things do tend to creep on me because of the shape of my waist. Next time I might consider putting some elastic in the bottoms in the same way I did in the top.

Next time I will scoop out the front leg curve a bit – it still feels like it’s cutting in a bit and you can see it’s rolling in. I compromised by sewing with a wider turnover there but it’s still just a bit long, so next time I’ll scoop it just a bit. I might see if I can go back and copy the next size down’s curve.

I REALLY love the coverage this gives me on the back legs, and on my belly. I actually thought I would be nervous to share these photos and was braced to do it anyway because dammit, it’s my body and I refuse to be ashamed of it. But in the end, I feel totally comfortable! I am so thrilled.

So that was a big ol’ wall of words. Here’s your TL;DR – I love this pattern. I found it really well written and helpful, and I am thrilled by the size range on this. I know there are a lot of people still sized out, which stinks. But it’s definitely a larger size range than most patterns I see around and I appreciate that It’s nice not to be the largest size, like usual! I also love the potential it has, and the hack and suggestions available for it. I am interested in trying out other P4P patterns after this.

I am so thrilled and grateful to finally have a bikini that I look and feel good in, and that is comfortable and practical. A quadruple threat! I honestly never thought it would happen. I also feel very grateful to the CSC and their swimwear month, because although I always intended to get around to swimwear, I felt intimidated and overwhelmed, and I probably wouldn’t have gotten to it this year or even any time soon. The CSC month made it seem possible and even simple, and also introduced me to this pattern! And thanks to everyone on the CSC facebook group who have been so nice and encouraging and excited for me when I posted about this! You have all made me feel very happy. ❤

 

Bon Voyage dress

I’m trying out that thing where you name your makes, because referring to them as numbers makes me feel like a weird robot. And not in a cool way. I’m very bad at naming things, though, so we’ll see how long I last!

After posting about my last B6055 (beep boop zeep zorp. That’s me being a robot. Not a cool one) I actually ended up really really loving it.The hem still bugged me but I felt fancy in it anyway and honestly, I just wanted to wear it all of the time.So when I was packing for the most recent Craft Camp, the pattern was the first thing to be packed, along with this black cotton linen. It’s the same cotlin blend as the last one, from spotters. It’s really lovely, I have to say, although it does have quite a loose weave and is mildly seethrough.

I meant to just make it the same as my last one,  but I didn’t read my pattern notes. Last time I traced up an adjusted bodice, so that was the same. But I wrote ‘size 20, adjusted’ on the bodice and so I cut out a size 20 skirt, forgetting that I’d graded out at the waist to a 22. I ended up going back and doing teeny seams to give myself the ease back in the waist – it fit at a 20 but wasn’t nearly as comfy, especially when sitting.

The actual sewing details of this one are, same adjustments as the last time, i.e., dropping the kimono sleeve down and scooping out the under arm. Size 20 bodice, size 22 from the underarm down (after re-adjusting it). I left the bodice unlined and lined the skirt with bemsilk because it was quite seethrough. The navy one is actually quite warm because of the lawn underlining in the bodice, whereas I can see myself wearing this one on a heatwave day. I left it to hang for a day and then the lovely Sue pinned the hem for me. The linen dropped quite a lot on the bias – I also ended up lifting the bodice up a bit at the centre front, which also dropped. You can see here how much it dropped because I just sewed the hem at the height it was, without cutting it:

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I hand sewed the hem and the sleeve hems because even though it took hours it was still quicker than doing a terrible machine hem and then having to re-do it anyways. I took quite a big hem at the sleeves after experimenting with the navy version – giving it a 2″ hem means it hits high enough on my arm to give me a lot more movement than a shallower hem does. I also unpicked and evened out the hem of the navy one, and hand sewed that, while I was at it. Circle skirts are lovely but their hems are the devil.

I french seamed where I could and overlocked the rest. Zipper is machine-sewed laped, and all the facings are overlocked to finish and then tacked down by hand. Used quite a heavy interfacing for the collar because go big or go home, that’s how I feel about collars.

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Sorry this photo is so terrible – the light was fading by then  but I wanted to show this bit because I think it’s interesting, drafting-wise. Innards of the facing of the collar.

I adjusted the collar this time – I graded from size 20 down to size 18 at the front edge of the collar, and it sits much better on my shoulder, actually meeting the shoulder seam properly and not pulling at the back.

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Collar sitting at the seam, and just barely meeting at the back.

I had quite a lot of trouble sewing the collar, again. Part of the problem is that I hadn’t been careful to finish my neck-darts all the way to the end and they were pulling apart and making that seam longer than it should be (I often don’t bother to backstitch seams if they’re going to be caught in another seam, and this lazy step finally got me in trouble!). Once I fixed that it was easier. But part of it is I think it’s just drafted weird. Next time I would either adjust it so that the bit of the collar that attaches to the neck is longer, or just not expect it to overlap. In this version it meets at the back neck but doesn’t overlap as the pattern says it should. I do think it looks ok this way but not as nice as the navy version which I did manage to get to overlap – at the expense of it pulling. There is just straight up not enough of the collar for it to do what the pattern says it should.

It’s fitting a bit firmly here at the waist because there were taken directly after dinner, so my stomach is at high tide, so to speak. I managed to quickly sneak in a photoshoot, trying out this new location – I haven’t tried it before because to my left here is the door to the room where the Teen used to be. Since he’s moved out, I figure it’s a safe. He was very nice and probably would have waited until he was out of sight to roll his eyes, but you know. I did get busted taking these photos but instead of an eyeroll I got a hug, so that’s ok:

N’aaaaaw.

It also means the camera is a bit lower than I realised, since I’m standing on the deck, so I think my torso is a bit foreshortened. I’ll adjust the tripod more next time, but overall I am pleased with the location – ok, it’s boring, and dusty, but it’s the best evening location I’ve found yet – everywhere else I can take photos around my house is in full sun or dappled shade in the evening, and since evening is when I have the most time for photos, you’ll probably be seeing this spot again. I did take advantage of the bench to try some sitting poses.

Felt a bit odd. Might have to revisit the sitting section of the Better Pictures Project for posing advice. I did follow Gillian’s advice about dynamic focus mode and it worked WAY better. My face is in focus in almost every photo, and there is less general weirdness. Thanks, Gillian!

Here it is with a jumper, as I wore it to work the other day. I love how it emphasises the collar. I did think about piping the collar but I am so so bad at piping, so I left it.

As you can see, I did the pockets this time. I thought I would feel ambivalent about them but I love them. I left the bow off, intending to sew on some nice buttons from my stash when I got home, but I think that would catch on things – like the belt, since the top of the pockets are just barely under the belt – so I think I’ll just leave it without anything there.

And without the belt, so you can see more of it:

The positive ease in the waist is more visible like this. I did a lapped zipper because I was using a borrowed older machine with no invisible zipper foot, and I think I did an ok job! Even when I had to unpick and re-set it twice while I was fiddling with the waist.

I will probably always wear it with a belt, and I notice the belt sits a bit lower than the waist, so I might put in belt loops. I should also note that this has been washed but not ironed. Being linen, that means it’s crumpled. But let’s be real – I’m not going to iron this after every wear, and after an hour of wear it’s wrinkly anyway, so [shrugs]. I did iron the collar of this after it was washed, and I think I might start ironing the hem because looking at this it looks wrinkled in a way I don’t love. I think I say this every post. I might just stop pointing out the wrinkles. Like natural fabrics, live with wrinkles, that’s my deal!

The front and the back of the skirt are different pieces in this pattern – the front having more circle in it. I’d say the back is maybe 1/4 circle and the front is maybe 1/2. I did think about using the back piece for the front this time round, because I don’t really like having that much bias at the front. It folds in and looks a bit weird (and… yonnic. Like the pockets aren’t enough!). The reason it’s like that, I think, is that it’s designed to be worn with a petticoat, like so:

You can still see the fold lines where it has been hanging, but the skirt sits out properly. Before taking these photos I had been thinking I might nip in that centre seam to get rid of the folding bit but you know, after looking at these I think I might just start wearing it with a petticoat! I really love how it looks but do feel a bit self-conscious in one, but looking at these it doesn’t look that dramatically different anyway. And maybe that way I’ll get my apportioned seat to myself on the train, without some dude trying to sit half on my leg.

Here’s some more photos of it with the petticoat:

Speaking of petticoats: bras!

Here is a nice one where you can see my bra is kind of pointy. It’s this one and I am in love with it, especially with my shirtdresses. I do find it makes my bustpoint much higher and so on my first M6696’s, which have a knee-length hem, it actually makes them a bit short for my own personal taste. If I am intending to wear this bra (I have four, in different colours) with a dress I’m making, as opposed to my other bras, I make sure to try it on wearing this bra. It does change the fit quite a bit. I do always make sure I’m wearing a good version of my bras when fitting, not the older, stretched out ones. My regular bras are these ones, in case anyone wondered – I have trouble with underwires cutting into the sides of my breasts so wirefree is the way to go for me. I find the ‘smoother’ ones a bit more comfortable but the pointy ones do lift my breasts entirely off of my ribcage, and I think it’s probably the first full breath I have drawn since I was, like, 13, so that’s a huge plus. I find myself standing straighter and breathing deeper when wearing them, which was a bit strange to realise!

Both of these have wide enough bands, and come in a good enough range of sizes, that I can get the band tight enough to give me support – that’s where most of the support in bras comes from anyway. The downside of these is that I find the slider on the straps basically does nothing, it will always slide back down to the bottom, but since there is enough support it doesn’t really matter, all the straps are doing is holding the cups in the right position. Now I have found ones I like, I keep an eye out for sales and buy a bunch at a time, since postage is a killer and I haven’t found anywhere in Aus that has them. I did originally find it at Harris Scarfe’s, but they only have beige. So yes, I have about four of each kind now, because that means I can wear a different one every day and wash them on the weekend, and also I am kind of terrified they’ll stop making them. When i went looking for the link I couldn’t find one of the makes and I actually broke out into a cold sweat, for real. I’ve tried a couple of the other styles of the 18 hour comfort bras but only these two really work for me. They are all shaped a bit differently, and have support in different areas, so if you are interested it’s probably worth trying a couple of styles. I am absolutely not paid by playtex (I WISH, send me free bras yo) I just really really am in love with having a bra that fits and supports me and is cheap enough that I can buy several (cheap is relative… they are cheap for bras, which is not exactly what I would call ‘cheap’).

Anyway, that’s the story with my bras! 😛 Little bonus content for ya.

Back to the dress! Here is the obligatory kimono-sleeve lifting-arms test:

That’s as high as I can go before it starts to strain. Not bad for a kimono sleeve. These have the same adjustment as my last version – I really do not recommend sewing them as-is, it’s such a weird shape and I just don’t think it would look good or work for anyone.

And the back-room test:

I also had a go at trying the pose from the cover:

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Didn’t get it quite right because I was going from memory, but I had fun trying!

So that’s it! Another lovely dress and I’m sorry I said mean things about my last one, I love it now. I’m thinking about making just the bodice into a shirt, but then I think I’m done for a while because it’s a pretty distinctive dress and I’m not sure I need more than two in my wardrobe… or DO I?

 

 

 

DIY cutting table

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Hooray! Finally! This was another one of the jobs that was planned and started just after we moved in a year ago, and finally got completed this past summer break.

When I knew I was going to have enough room for a proper crafting space, one of the things I wanted was a cutting table, at the correct height, that was moveable so I could push it against the wall to be out of the way, and pull it out so that I could move around it as I cut. Honestly, being able to do that makes SUCH a difference to how easy it is to cut something out, and accurately!

I did a lot of googling of DIY cutting tables and I settled on using IKEA KALLAX units – as used to be Expedit. This meant I could use the table as my stash storage at the same time, a very necessary thing let me tell you. So we bought the units, and got the plywood cut to size, and bought the castors, and then it all sat in a pile for a year. I was using it as stash storage and cutting space, it just wasn’t all connected and I couldn’t pull it out from the wall.

So finally I painted the tops – it’s just ‘vivid white’ in dulux, because that’s what matched the units best. I thought about staining it to match my wall shelves but I thought having it white would make it easier to see when tracing, etc, which has proved the case. I did two coats of that and then for the top I sanded it and did another one coat of polyurethane. It probably could have done with two but I was impatient! The wood is just plywood, we bought a large sheet and had the cut shop where we bought it cut it. I put the KALLAX units together and measured the width and depth. I got one piece cut to exactly that size, and one a little bit larger. There was also another bit left over and I’ve thought of a couple of uses for that so I kept it.

Once the wood was all ready, we put the castors on.

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We just screwed right into the plywood without drilling, although we did use an electric screwdriver to make it easier. You can see we originally put one in the middle – I could only find five of the castors but then the other one turned up. I think I might go back and buy one more and put one in the middle again because I think it rolled easier when there was one there.

Next was to attach the units to the base. I was originally going to use no more nails, but then I realised if I did that I was committing to alway and forever having this unit in my room! It’s too big to take out – it might fit out the door but I don’t think it would fit down the hallway! So instead I used 3M tape. It’s still pretty solid but there’s slightly more chance of being able to take it apart and still reuse the bits, if need be.

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This bit took some maneuvering and was definitely a two person job.I put the strips on, and then took off the covering tape. Then we stood the unit on one edge, with a person on each side, to line it up to the edge of the base. Then the person on the inside slooooowly lowered it while the other person kept it lined up. We did it that way for all three units (only this photo because it was tricky so I didn’t pause to take more, sorry).

I was hoping I’d be able to use the third piece of plywood as the top, then add some spacers and have the proper top on top of that. That way I’d have a niche to stash things while I wasn’t working on them. But once we got it this far it was clear that it was already the perfect height, so I abandoned that plan.

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Once all the units were on, we wiggled them out a bit and I stuck some tape in between them to keep them together. Then I placed the tape on the top. I put lots on because the base will have gravity helping it stay down, but the top is where most of the pushing and pulling will be so I wanted it firm

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Then we put the top on, using the same ‘slow lowering from an edge’ technique.

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As you can see, the units are not quite as wide enough for them to line up. So we deliberately left that gap, more on that later. You can also see that the top is wider all around than the bottom, to give more working room. We lined it up flush with the back so that it can be pushed all the way against the wall, though.

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I was really worried that the cubes wouldn’t line up properly, because I need to be able to slide them all the way in and out, but they did!

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I sorted through the stash and now it all fits! Well, in the cubes and also in the drawers next to it. I am debating adding wallpaper or something to the back of that, and I’ll need to paint the exposed bit of the base of my cutting table. I threw out a whole bag of scraps too small to do anything with, and a whole bag of muslins for garments I’ve already fitted and made. Yikes! Why do I keep these things? Here’s the unit from the side – sorry the photos aren’t great, it’s a bit of a small space to work in (and a tad messy. Real life, y’all).

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The final touch was today. I wanted hooks for the side but I couldn’t find any that were small enough for my purpose. So I bought some trim – it happens to be Tasmanian oak because that’s the one I found that was the right size. I cut it to size, gave it a quick oil with linseed oil, and banged some nails in. I used more 3M tape to stick it on to the side. One of my rulers didn’t have a big enough hole to be able to hand off the nail, so I used a bulldog clip to hang it. Then I put four cup hooks above it. Now my rulers and cutting implements are off the table! I might not keep the measuring tape there, I think it might become a cat toy if I do…

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This is a functioning room I use every day, and the table does tend to become a dumping ground. However, I have things set up so there are proper places for everything, and I can clear it off quickly when I want to use it. I have already been using this a bunch (garments which are almost finished and will be blogged soon, hopefully, barring disasters) and it makes it so so so much easier to cut things out, and trace. I am so pleased with how this turned out!

Better Photos Projects

I don’t know if anyone noticed some new, more varied locations in my last post about my latest M6696. I was inspired by Heather’s post on Gillian’s Better Pictures Project, about taking photos in public places to get better shots.

Although I would like to learn to use my DSLR a bit better, I try not to be too fussy about my photos, I find it gets in the way of actually blogging which is my priority. But I am generally unhappy with two things – the backdrops and how I always end up doing ‘Ima stab you’ face. So I’m working on them! I took my camera and tripod down to the beach at the end of my street.

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This is a five minute walk from my house. How lucky am I to live here?! It does mean a long commute, but it’s worth it.

I was nervous about looking weird in public, and people commenting but it was fine! I did get a few curious looks but no one was weird about it at all, although to be fair there were only a few people there because it’s still COLD. But it’s a fairly community beach – I mean, there was a body boarding class, some surfers, and a bunch of dog walkers. People go there to do things, so I guess I didn’t stick out too much.

As you can see in my last post, I tried a couple of spots. The cliff face is gorgeous but in the end it was just too windy!

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Being blown away, or something

I ended up on the steps down the cliff, and just put the camera down on one of the steps. Lovely! Although it would be harder on a warmer day, because it’s usually a fairly high traffic area. I ended up having a great time, though, and I absolutely will be trying it again! I found it easier to make actual facial expressions for some reason. I also found a spot in my front yard where I can take photos, and that will be a good backup, I think.

Dog!! Also stretching side seams, but this isn’t a sewing post.

What worked:

  • Being willing to take a lot of photos and move position a few times.
  • The more photos I got, the more relaxed I got about it. The later photos are much better.
  • Listening to Stop Podcasting Yourself right before I left the house, so I was still laughing about some of the jokes.
Laughing at myself for being excited about a dog. It’s a dog beach, so….

Things to remember next time:

  • Think about where the sun is. I knew I should have gone down earlier, because the sun would have been behind the cliff and it would have been much less glarey. But I couldn’t lever myself out of bed in time. This also is why the front yard is better than the backyard – it means I can have my back to the sun and not squint all the time.
  • Remember the wind. It’s often less windy on the beach than on the top of the cliff, but not today! Figuring out a few different locations will help with this.
  • Take the opportunities when they present themselves – I thought about putting it off till the next morning, to try to get the sun in right place, but decided just to go for it. Good thing too, because the next day was rainy and wet and even windier, and photos would have been impossible.
  • Think about some of the other places I saw today – I was hoping the local school on my street might have a wall I could use, but there doesn’t seem to be anywhere that would work. There were a few on-the-street spots that looked nice but I’m not sure I’m brave enough for that, yet.
  • Don’t take the first batch of photos in the location I like best. As I said, I warmed up as I went along, so the first dozen or so photos are not very good. I’d be better off shooting some practice photos, and then going to my favourite location.
  • Make sure the camera is fully charged. It was close to flat when I left, and I didn’t realise. It makes the remote a bit more patchy, which was frustrating. It meant I had to point it exactly straight on, which limits poses, and it also would just randomly not work, which meant a lot of photos looked like this:

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  • Have fun, and it’s ok to be/look stupid! There are some real dumb photos in my batch, but because I had fun doing it I don’t feel embarrassed about them, they just make me laugh. I tend to get in my head about things, but I just reminded myself that I have just as much right to use the beach, and to look silly in public, as anyone else, and that seemed to work!

All in all, I feel really good about my photography adventures! I would like to learn and play with my settings more, but I never seem to have time and brain, and I do find it a bit overwhelming. Hopefully I’ll work up to it soon!

Unblogged roundup

In preparing to reblog my latest FO I realised I’d left some knits unblogged. So this is a catchup post. I’ll list them from quickest knit to longest knit!

A very regal crown

I knit this at the June craft camp, for Princess Eleanor, to go with her stay in the Princess room. Many thanks to Jenny for the yarn and Caroline for the buttons.  It obviously knit up very quickly, and I think I might have to whip up a few for dressups for some small people I know.

I used 8ply instead of the 10ply the pattern called for, because that was what was to hand. I knit the largest size and it fits an adult head comfortably. Here it is on my bed head (I should note that I also have a large head, generally average sized hats are too small for me).

Tentacle scarf

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I look like a mad scientist!

I knit this for a far-away friend, because she posted something similar and I thought ‘I could knit that’. The original was crochet, but it’s not like this was difficult. I did write pattern notes but I’m not sure where they are, I’ll try to find them. I basically increased until it looked right, knit until I could wrap it around my neck long enough, and then decreased at the same rate. Then I worked the light green bits at the same increase rate, crocheted suckers on, and sewed it on.

Not the neatest sewing job – the darker yarn was a lot softer and the lighter a lot denser, so it was hard to match them. But it works. It actually got me out of a bit of a knitting slump, induced by spilling ink on the border of that sun blanket. So that was good! Then it sat for ages while I worked my way up to crocheting the suckers on. That took me FOREVER and I bitched about it a whole lot at craft camp. Sorry, everybody!


Colour Affection

I knit this for my best friend’s 30th. Which was in February. I didn’t cast it on until April. Whoops! The delay was because I was knitting the sun blanket for her, and then I had to wait till the yarn got here. The yarn is Malabrigo Sock, in Natural, Impressionist Sky and Cote D’Azure.

I had to rip back the start because the ends were too tight. I substituted a kfb for the suggested m1, which is what a lot of people’s Ravelry notes suggest (note to self, read the ravelry notes BEFORE casting on). But it’s still a bit tight. Another time I would do a yarn over and then twist it on the way back, I think. I couldn’t block it as heavily as I would have liked, because of the tightness, so the very beginning has a bit of a dome, which you can sort of see on my right shoulder, below.

I also pulled the yarn a bit tight as I was running it up the side of the short row section, so that bit is a bit tight. Oh, well. This took a while (four months of pretty consistent bus knitting) due to the volume of knitting, but it felt pretty fast.  Once it’s set up it’s excellent bus knitting, because the stripes mean you don’t have to count to know where you’re up to.

I really really love the pattern, but I’m a bit cross with the FO. Partly because of the tightness, and partly because the Cote D’Azure is not only a slightly different tone (it’s more purple than I thought it would be when I bought it) but it also ran when I blocked it, and stained some of the upper, white part. I wasn’t that upset because the white was also whiter than I had expected, so that toned it down a bit, but there were some splodges that I couldn’t get rid of.

It was still received with delight and the last time I saw it it showed signs of constant wear – it’s holding up well, however. Absolutely the best reception for that kind of gift.

September craft camp

Last weekend was craft camp and I had been hanging out for it. Things have been a little fraught here. Everything’s fine but just lots of emotional conversations (mostly resolved now but boy are they tiring) and also just normal life taking its toll. I was ready for some time away, out of the ordinary stream of life. Some time with all those lovely women.

Well, I got that but I have to say it was probably the worst craft camp I’ve ever been to. Which is to say, I still had a wonderful time. The bar is pretty high, is all. There was still wonderful food and company and laughter but it was also the election weekend, so that was depressing, and several of us were sick. I had thought I had just shaken something off in time to be fine for camp but either I was mistaken or I got another thing, because I woke up on Friday morning feeling not quite right. If I’d been as unwell then as I felt on Saturday I wouldn’t have gone, and I’m terribly afraid that I’ve infected other people, which is making me feel really guilty.

Anyhow I had no brain at all and basically achieved nothing, craft wise. I was going to go for a couple pairs of pants and muslining some other things. Instead I spent a lot of time staring blankly at the wall or sleeping, and my total FO count was two totally shit potholders. One has wrinkly binding and the other is a trapezoid with wrinkly binding.

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Shit potholders. So wonky.

I did trace out some things, and I sewed up a McCalls 6559 maxi dress that was meant to be a wearable muslin but might just be a muslin, due to super thin fabric and dodgy finishing on my part. It was a $2 remnant so I’m not sorry, because at least it was a successful muslin. I’m going to keep it and see if I wear it as a heat wave dress, even thought the neckline and armscyes are too low. The dress is so simple, just sewing up the shoulders, then the side seams, then hemming the edges, so now that I know what adjustments to make it would take me about a half an hour to make. For the record, those adjustments are tp raise the neck and armscye by 2cm, bring in the sides by 2cm until the hips – so much ease! This size should technically be too small for me but it was in fact too big (except that I don’t want it too clingy on my hips so it can be too big there, that’s fine).

I also did some knitting on my Essential Cardigan and got it over a few humps – you know, those bits where you have to sit down and think about something or sew something or pick up a million stitches or do something else that you can’t do on the bus or in five minutes before bed. I now am knitting on the front band, and have about half of a sleeve left. I reckon taking that as bus knitting this week will polish that off, and then I’ll need some new bus knitting because I don’t really want to lug the whole jumper on the bus. Incidentally, the pattern has you seam the shoulders, the sides and put the arms on before picking up the bands. What? I’ve just seamed the shoulders and I’ll do the rest when the bands are done.

It would be nice to finish it because I really need some more good, basic knitwear in my wardrobe. Just in time for spring?

I’ve done a lot of adjusting of this jumper so I hope it fits. At craft camp I also ripped out 1/4 of a sleeve due to one wrong ribbing row (it would have bugged me) and three rows of the band because of half a row of wrong ribbing (likewise). Worth it, but frustrating.

Oh and I took some nice pictures of clouds from the plane. I guess it wasn’t a complete loss. And I relaxed and saw friends and had fun. Never to be underestimated.

I was actually feeling a lot better by the time I got home (although today at work was a bit rough and I took a lot of cold and flu tablets), so I sat down and instead of unpacking I sewed two new potholders. This time I cut them larger than I needed so I could trim them down to ensure straightness, and I hand sewed the binding. I don’t mind hand sewing, if I have the right needle and there’s not too much, and it was the only way I was going to be happy with them. Definitely worth it. The binding on the astronauts is still a bit weird on one side because I’d come to the end of my self-made bias binding, and it was a bit wobbly.

Less shit potholders
Less shit potholders

Actually the binding could probably count as a craft camp project – I worked out the continuous bias binding method. I’m quite proud. Maybe I’ll pack some bias binding to make, in plain colours, for every craft camp. It was a really good starting project – complex enough to get me in gear but repetitive enough that launching into it didn’t feel daunting before I was in gear. And you can never have too much bias binding in the stash, right?

I could do with some more potholders myself, so I guess I’ll keep the dodgy ones. The less-dodgy ones are destined to be part of a birthday present for my sister, who loves space. Her birthday was last month. Whoops. I also want to sew her some bags so I better get on that.

If nothing else, camp did jerk me out of normal life a bit. I’m hoping to use that to get out of the rut of spending my spare time doing things like reading the whole internet or playing computer games. Things I like and I am not giving up but, really, small doses would be fine and they mean I never get to the bits that make life feel really satisfying. This is my constant battle (as you probably know, having read about it before on the blog), getting out from in front of a screen and doing those things. It’s always worth it but sometimes it’s just too hard. If I’ve got no brain it feels too difficult to sit down and sew, or make decisions about things, and I sit down in front of a screen as a transition activity and just never get up. Plus a lot of my friends live inside those screens, so it’s not like I’m not making connections and doing useful things when I am on the computer. It’s just that the balance is off. I’d like to set it up so instead of defaulting to the screen I spend at least a little time each evening doing some sewing. I think it’s a habit that will be tricky to build but would be worth it if I can pull it off.