Wax prints

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Did you know that Easter is a really big deal here in New Zealand I had a mandatory 5 day holiday from work?

Also all the shops are closed on Good Friday & Easter Sunday (except in Wanaka, WTF?!).  I decided to have a sewing stay-cation, since we are going away in May anyway, and I really just wanted to have a nice, quiet, relaxing few days away from work.

On a side note, there’s been a lot of discussion about Easter trading laws here in New Zealand (you can get a haircut but not buy hairspray, you can drink a beer with your meal, but not buy a beer?) but the one thing no one seems to mention is the religious background of this holiday and it’s appropriateness for a multi-cultural society.  I don’t mind restrictions on trade – it’s nice to have a few days where shops must be shut, and I think the unions have been hugely influential and ensuring that workers have the right to time off on public holidays, which I applaud, but why does it have to be Christian doctrine dictating which days those are?

Why not have “Autumnal splendour day” or something instead of “Easter”?  Because, just in case you were not aware, it is not spring time here.

Anyway back to my sewing stay-cation:

Lately I am obsessed with West African wax prints, perhaps getting nostalgic for my days in Athieme, Benin?

I found a good supplier – Africanpremier.com, with some pretty amazing prints, like the ones below:

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The minimum purchase is “une piece”, which is enough to make a “complet” (6 meters).  Some examples of fabulous African ladies in their “complet”:

 

Senegalese+daily+wear

As much as I would love to rock some serious African style here in Wellington, I prefer to mix and match my wax prints with typical Western-wear.

I have made about 4 pairs of trousers using  Burda 7486

 

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The top is hideous! But trousers version “C”  are great for making cotton pants with a zipper fly, so I don’t feel like a disgusting slob who wears elastic waist pants to work.  They have just enough ease for non-knit fabrics so you don’t feel like you are going to bust a seam but you have a skinny-leg style.  So far I have made 4 pairs of wax print trousers with this pattern – which are great with a solid colour shirt and even appropriate for the office.  That being said I am an academic so dress standards are fairly lose around my workplace.

(Photos coming soon)

I have also made a number of dresses – mostly not using any kind of pattern, but based on another dress I have.  However I did recently take a “make patterns from your existing wardrobe” course and have drafted a pattern for my new favourite simple shift dress.

(Photos coming soon)

Since I have so much wax print fabric at the moment I decided to be ambitious and try to make a blazer.  I had a black blazer that I loved ($10 from Ross on my last trip home!) but I managed to lose it (and my favourite green rain jacket) after not securing it properly to my bike rack on a nice sunny afternoon, somewhere between my office and the Waterloo station in Lower Hutt.

I reviewed a number of options but decided that princess seams would be the most flattering – so I picked Burda 7135:

7135

I’m went with version “A” – the shorter one, and didn’t realise I would be giving myself multiple headaches with all the new techniques I am trying to figure out with this one.

Burda Style has some good Blazer patterns – mostly sourced from the Burda Style Magazine, but they are only available as “print-at-home” patterns which I find to be a bit of a pain, so I went with what I could find at the shop.

Quite a challenging project, but hopefully will be worth the effort when finished.  It took me 3 hours just to lay out the pattern pieces and cut out the main fabric & lining.

My biggest difficulties thus far have been the welt pockets, the sleeves and the collar, all of which involve techniques new to me.

My welts look like a disaster, but luckily they are covered by these little pocket flaps so hopefully won’t mar the finished product.

The sleeves have been holding me up recently – I have never sewn anything with 2 sleeve pieces (the upper sleeve and an under-sleeve).  My pattern copying instructor said that having an under sleeve pattern piece cut on a different grain to the upper sleeve allows for more movement and ease – often used in jackets.  I finally figured out last night (after setting them in, thinking some thing was wrong, unpicking my sewing, swapping them around, then undoing it again thinking I had it right the first time) that I had sewn one of the sleeves inside out (it’s hard to tell with the print I am using) – so I had 2 left sleeves, hence all the confusion, and sewing/unpicking and thinking something was wrong.  So I have properly set in the sleeves as of this morning, and now the only thing left to do it put in the lining and hem it.

However, before I put the lining in, I need to fix the collar and lapels.  They are a hot mess!

I’m not crazy about the lower notched lapel extending more than the upper lapel (see image above).  But, it’s cut out and sewn up so I will leave it for the moment, and concentrate on getting them to look semi-good for the moment.  I think I need to re-sew some edged and clip some corners, maybe do some understitching which I have heard is helpful for collars.

I was really feeling like a sewing failure after all the sleeve issues, but I tried to remind myself this was a first for me, and a learning process.

Essentially this jacket, when finished, will end up being more of a muslin for me anyway, as I think I will need to make some serious sizing adjustments.  However, if the end result is a fabulously well-tailored, fitted blazer in an amazing beautiful African print, that is a one-of-a-kind awesome part of my wardrobe that I can wear to conferences and present papers in and feel like a sexy librarian academic superstar, then it will all be worth it!

Also I enjoy sewing, despite all the headaches it gives me!

 

 

 

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