Friday, February 26, 2010

Up Next

Ignoring both the voices in my head telling me to sew the cut-out projects instead, and well as the snow-storm that hit Toronto, this is what's up next. (I'm making the version on the right.)

Yes, that is a spring dress. You may mock me now.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Finally! The sewing machine seems to be purring along. All is well with the world.

I didn't let this blue fabric from Rasi age in the stash. Even though I have atleast two other projects cut out, I wanted instant gratification, and this Simplicity 2938 top was it. I've made it before - here - and it didn't take much time to put together at all. A couple of hours last night, and a couple of hours tonight.

A few details:

- This top is a bit loose on me, I didn't need the zipper at all. It slips in fine over my head.
- I used bias as instructed to finish the armholes. I also finished the hem with it, attaching it by machine to the right side, then turning and hand-hemming. (I wanted the hem to be barely visible, and I still haven't learned to use my invisible hem foot.)
- I barely had enough fabric to make this, rules of grain went all out of the window. The back is cut on grain, the side front on cross-grain. Seems fine to me, with no ill-effects. I had 0.9 meters, but I think this is 36inch width, so here's what I had left over.

Anyhoo, I'm so happy my sewing machine is back and working! In good time for the serious de-stash sewing I need to do.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Handkerchief Quilt - Epilogue

I'd taken my handkerchief quilt top with me to India to get it quilted. I was proudly showing off my quilts to my aunts, and one of them fell in love with it. So, of course, I gave it to her (hey, one less quilt to carry back = more room for fabric purchases.)

While my mom was still in India, I was talking to her on the phone, and she'd mentioned it was back from the quilter, and she was heading to my aunt's to deliver it. So, I jokingly told her to tell my aunt that she owed me two saris for it. (I was *joking*. Although I have the rather unfortunate habit eying my aunts' saris covetously and fondling the fabric.)

Anyway, talking to my mom again on the phone now, evidently my aunt took me seriously, and sent me two saris.

I feel guilty now.

Atleast a little.

So close, yet so far.

My sewing machine is back today - my parents brought it to Toronto.

Unfortunately, it is snowing cats and dogs here, which means my plan to go pick it up went by the wayside.


Eventually, I'll have a working sewing machine again.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Vacation fabric purchases

How does a vacation that starts with my aunt saying "I've been saving some patterns for you" and handing you a bag filled with vintage sewing patterns not turn out to be awesome?

Please don't hate me now.

Things rapidly went uphill after that.

And here's are photos of the loot.

From left to right, a dark blue, a purple and a printed cotton. The first two will be summer dresses - the print will be a skirt. I bought these off the street - all 100% cotton, and roughly $1 a meter. (Seriously, please don't hate me now.)

A taupe pant-length of fabric (polyester-cotton blend) which will be pants. ($3?) The pink checks were a bit of a mistake/afterthought, but I will sew it up into some kind of shirtdress, I think. ($2 a meter - 100% cotton.) And the beautiful black/brown plaid? This is my Istanbul wool purchase (100% wool; 2 meters; $20).

Part 1 of my loot from Nalli. The olive green (woven with red - a color called 'mandulur' in South India) is 100% cotton, and will be another summer dress. The next three are silk/cotton blends (mostly cotton, I think, from the feel; the silk just adds a bit of luster). The cream wants to be a summer suit (yes, ambitious.) The pink and the onion-skin-color are fabric for tops. The cotton was about $1 a meter; the silk/cotton blends were $2 a meter. (Nalli has great prices.)

Part 2 of the loot from Nalli. The first two from the left are my splurges. The cream is 100% silk, absolutely gorgeous, and will be a pencil skirt. ($8 a meter.) The grey floral I really fell in love with, it is going to be another summer dress, also about $8 a meter. The last two were silk-cotton remnants that are going to be tops of some kind. I bought these at Rasi Silks, another famous Madras saree store. (I think Madras is divided into a Nalli camp and a Rasi camp - I maintain Nalli is better, but I couldn't leave without looking into Rasi to see what they had.)

This is a lungi. It is also the most lovely plaid; and I *had* to have it. (2 meters; about $2 for the lot. 100% cotton.)

In addition to the vintage pattern loot, my aunt also gave me fabric from her stash. (Two reasons. Mostly because she is very nice. But also, I think she was a bit sick of me rummaging through everything in her stash and asking her what she was planning to do with them.) The first two are pieces from vintage sarees. 100% silk. She warned me the silk is fragile, but look, how pretty! I love these! The cream is a stiff-ish, medium weight that feels like a cotton blend.

And while Biscuit is normally the world's most indulged cat, she was tossed off the fabric pretty quickly.

Like I said, please don't hate me now.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The "Waste Not" Quilt Top

Two things were clear to me when I got to Madras. One, I really, really had missed sewing on a competent machine. Two, I spend entirely too much time on the Internet, and have all kinds of spare time when Internet access isn't readily available.

These two facts collided, and I sewed up this quilt top in Madras in the fringes of time in between non-stop shopping, eating and visiting family.

Quilters will know that quilting creates all kinds of orphan blocks and pieces. This quilt was created very simply - I put together orphan blocks from projects created by my mother, my aunt and me*. The work chiefly consisted of joining blocks together and adding borders to get each block to 12 inches, and then adding black sashing.

Nonetheless, despite the simplicity of construction, this is my favorite quilt top. I love how bright it is, and how cheerful.

Incidentally, sewing machines in India are so much better constructed. My aunt has a Singer which she bought ~4 years ago. It is all metal - comes with a table, and sews like a dream. Because, for many Indians, a sewing machine is a significant investment (and in many cases, their livelihood), I think the quality of the product is just that much better. Both my mom, who sews on a crappy Brother, and me (whose sewing machine troubles are well known) were seriously envious.

Next post - pictures of the fabric I bought, I promise. I just have to lay them out, and photograph them.

*At one time, I'd decided I didn't want to quilt anymore, and had given my aunt a ton of half-finished projects, fabric, etc, which is how my orphan blocks were in Madras in the first place.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fabric Porn

I had 3 fabric stops planned in Madras (or Chennai, as it is called nowadays.) One was a street that is lined with vendors selling fabric by the roadside - but everytime I went there, I forgot my camera.

Another was to a wool store, which was a bit disappointing - the prices and selection are better in Toronto.

The third stop - Nalli - I did have the camera with me.

Everyone in Madras knows Nalli. I don't think a wedding can happen in Madras without a saree being bought from Nalli. I'm pretty sure I used to visit this store on a weekly basis growing up. My grandmother shopped here, my mother still gets recognized at the door, though she hasn't lived in Madras for over 12 years, and she also still gets a discount, unasked.

(You can guess from this exactly how much my grandmother and mother shopped.)

Now, Nalli carries an incredible selection of sarees, but also, importantly for me, it carries a ton of fabric. Silks, cottons, silk-cotton blends - in my opinion, this place has both the best selection and prices in the entire city.

Here's pictures as proof.

And in the face of all of this, I might have (ahem) bought about 40 meters of fabric, but I still maintain - this is me at my most restrained. (I'll do a separate post with what I bought.)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Confession time

I'm in Istanbul (last day here - I leave unearthly early tomorrow to fly back home).

On Saturday evening, as I was walking down Iskadil Cadesssi (I'm quite sure I've mispelled this) I saw a fabric store.

Ah, my heart skipped a beat. But alas, it was closed.

Of course, I made it there today (well, I tried yesterday as well, but it was closed since it was Sunday.)

And I did buy wool.

In my defense, just a tiny bit - slightly under 2 meters. It was so ridiculously cheap (~$20 for 2 meters) that I felt I had to.

Now for the true test - I need to go pack in a bit. It remains to be seen if the suitcase will close.

(And Kristy - another confession. I took the machine to India, but my parents are carting it back for me. Umm. Yes, I am rather spoiled.)

Pictures to follow tomorrow - as soon as I return, greet the little Biscuit, and download the ~200ish pictures I've taken on vacation.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Quick picture-less vacation post

It was as I feared. I have bought ridiculous amounts of fabric. Not counting lining (which I consider a necessity) I have bought approximately 35 meters of fabric. (I think. I'm not keeping track too accurately.)

I'd taken my broken sewing machine with me, and managed to get it fixed. (Cheap labor in India means I can get it fixed for a fraction of the Canadian price.)*

I've also eaten my body weight in food.

Which, of course, makes this a pretty awesome vacation.

*Yes, I realize that carting a sewing machine to India is a pretty ridiculous idea. But, I'm a pretty light traveler, and didn't have much other luggage.